Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 22

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 22

Dreams and Reality

In the darkness, the thoughts came to him slowly, the dreams tormenting him once again.

Where was everybody? Why wouldn't they answer his pleas?

Disorientated and half-blind, the Baron stumbled down the empty halls of the city, calling for help at every step, praying for guidance, screaming the names of everyone he knew.

"Duke Charon!" he cried into the thick darkness.

"Sinclair!" he screamed into the barren passageways.

"Redfield! Mark!" he shouted into the desolate rooms.

But it was no use. No one replied to his desperate bellows. And something was stalking him through the city.

He realized this while traversing the mess halls, a deep sense of wrongness and foreboding filling every pore of his body, saturating his soul. A dark form slithered through the shadows in front of the Baron, the sound of a claw on metal.

"Who's there!" Bush half-screamed, half-sobbed. Why were they tormenting him like this?

An inhuman laugh reverberated from all around him, a horrifying chuckle that filled him with dread, a chuckle that promised infinite agony and endless torment. Something stirred the air behind the Baron, but when he whirled around all there was was the dull shine of metal plates.

He sensed a dark presence rising up behind him, felt a sharp pain on the back of his neck, a digging sensation, then he was on the ground. The already dim hallways grew darker.

"I'm sorry, my lord, but we mustn't let you jeopardize all that we hold so dear," a voice murmured from over his shoulder, almost regretfully.

Sinclair? the Baron tried to whisper, but his mouth wouldn't move, and why was it so black all of a sudden?

"Woe, destroyer!" sneered a voice from all around him, a beautiful voice. "You have now been destroyed.

"A shadow of a shadow of a man, only now may you achieve the greatness that is in your future. The future hinges on your decisions, and worlds hang in the balance."

A flash of white light fills his vision.

Bush screamed.

"Jesus Christ!" Anthony leaped up from the chair he was sitting in next to Bush's bed. He had bags under his eyes, and his hair was unkempt, looking as if he had stayed awake for an extended amount of time. "Do you have to scream like that?"

"Where am I?" Bush gasped, but as soon as the words left his mouth the white light left his eyes and he could see the room for himself. The sterile walls, the stasis chamber in the corner, and the gentle beeping of machines around him all pointed to a room in the infirmary. The infirmary? "What happened to me?"

"AH! You're awake, my dear Baron!" the Emperor cried, sweeping into the room in a swirl of satin robes. "How do you feel?"

"Confused. What the hell happened?"

The Emperor shook his head sadly. "Leestian Surprise. A particularly nasty poison, made from the pulp of the Leestian Choking Vines. The victim's heart stops and shows all the effects of a heart attack, but in reality is in a deep, deep sleep, similar to an experience in a stasis chamber. You were fortunate to have been here, any other system in the Imperium would not have had sufficient training or equipment to diagnose the drug. It's almost untraceable, and almost all of our knowledge on the substance was done posthumously. Most people who ingest it are taken for dead and buried alive."

Bush felt a shiver run through his body. "Who would want to..." He caught Duval looking at him with a raised eyebrow. "Oh yeah, nevermind. Suspicious timing though."

"Agreed. Especially considering that we had to move ahead with the plan regardless."

"Plan?" Bush leaned forward, but had to lay down again. "What plan?"

"You didn't know? It must not have been mentioned before your... incident. Basically, we have decided that although we have no proof of any specific Independent system's involvement during the attack on my person, we have definite proof of one power's use of force during the incident. And we are launching a counter-strike - punishment, if you will."

Bush groaned and put his head in his hands.

"Redfield and Taranis are leading a group of five heavy attack ships and twenty escorts to Olympus Village on Mars. The squire went with them, but Lord Anthony here insisted on staying."

Anthony blushed. "Someone had to," he stated.

Bush laid a hand on his comrade's shoulder, but turned back to the Emperor. "Why couldn't you wait until I was healthy again? You know I am the best man to lead that mission."

"The mission depends on the fact that one of our men needs to infiltrate the defense networks in Olympus village if we are to stand a chance. We had papers forged for Sinclair in the identity of a high-level Sirius Corporation whom we have apprehended, but we have a very small target window. The squire has already altered the defense mechanisms of the community, and has taken to space. The rest of the force should meet him in three hours and fifteen minutes." The slight man snapped his fingers, and Eileene rushed into the room, holding a foldspace transmitter, which permits two or more ships with any distance between them to communicate almost instantaneously, if both have a foldspace in their ship. Bush looked up, dumbfounded.

"Don't look so surprised, dear Baron! You said it yourself - you are the best commander for the job!" Another servant came in, holding a small laptop holoscreen. "This holoscreen will let you see the action, and the transmitter will let you give your orders - do me proud!" He sat down in a chair opposite Anthony. "You have three hours and seven minutes to get ready."

Continue the story with Chapter 23