Ravi stepped out of the cubicle and headed back towards the office. Everything was going perfectly – Anastasia and Shadow had done as instructed and he had just heard that they were coming back. At the office door, he heard murmurs from inside. A conversation.
“Take Doc, Shadow, and Anastasia in there and restrain them tightly,” Madam Razia said. What!?! There was no response, then: “Oh, don’t worry about Ravi. He believed our little lie.” She’s on the phone. There was a pause. “I’ll deal with Ravi once we finish this conversation.”
Why, you double-crossing, little piece of-
“Good-bye.” Ravi was so upset and angry at the fact that he had been deceived and that Madam Razia was an agent for the League that he did not realize Madam Razia had finished the conversation and was heading for the door until she had opened the door and was standing infront of him. “Ravi,” she greeted sweetly. “I was just looking for you.”
“You bloomin’ liar, double-crossing piece of garbage!” he said. Madam Razia looked surprised and momentarily taken off guard. Ravi used that moment and punched Razia in the face. She staggered backwards, but regained her balance and then kicked Ravi in the groin, which caused him to double over in pain. She beat him up some more and he was in such pain that he could not fight back as she dragged him across the aisle. He heard a bolt being drawn back, then felt himself being pushed, and then falling. He then hit the floor. “Ohhh….” he moaned.
“I would have provided some stairs,” Madam Razia said in a mock apologetic voice. “But this is way more fun!” And then she closed and locked the hatch, enveloping him in darkness.
Ravi recovered enough to turn on a communicator in his shirt collar. “Zion, this is Agent R. Come in, please. Zion, this is Agent R. Come in, please.”
Zipporah walked into the Control Core, carrying a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on a plate and a cup of tea. “Ahem.” Alexei turned from his thoughts with a start.
“Oh. Sorry. Forgot that I had asked for these,” he smiled, which caused her heart to beat a little faster. He took the food and drink, thanking Zipporah for the meal. He took a bite of the food. “Mmm! You are such a good cook!” he complimented.
“Thanks,” Zipporah said.
Then, his eyes twinkling with humour, joked, “Make an excellent lasagna, and I’ll propose!” While they were laughing, a call came in.
“Zion, this is Agent R. Come in, please. Zion, this is Agent R. Come in, please.”
Handing his snack back to Zipporah, Alexei answered the call. “Agent R, this is Zion. What’s the matter, Ravi?”
Doc groaned as he came to. His forehead ached. He tried reaching up to feel his forehead, but he could not move his hands or arms. Doc opened his eyes and discovered that his hands were chained by his sides to a wall. He was standing upright and his legs were chained to the wall as well. Looking around, he realized that he was in a room where the walls were painted black, with one light bulb hanging from the ceiling. So that’s how I can see everything. Then he noticed that Shadow and Anna were on either side of him, similarly chained up. Their heads were hanging forward and he realized that they were still out. Their boots and socks had been taken off. The room was not very big. “I wonder where I am?” Doc muttered to himself. Then everything came rushing back. Either someone’s betrayed us, or it was all a clever trap.
Doc looked around, but there was no-one else in the room besides themselves, and Anna and Shadow were still out. I must be going insane, he reasoned.
“Aren’t you going to say hello to me?” the voice, a female’s, asked. There must be a hidden intercom in this room, and she must be able to hear me because she wants a reply.
“W-Who are you?” he questioned.
The voice chuckled. She was Indian.”Surely you recognize my voice?” she remarked.
Then he remembered. Madam Razia. Definitely a trap.
“Where am I? What are you going to do?”
“I believe I’ll wait until the others wake up,” she replied. “I do hate to say things twice.”
Something moved next to him and he turned to see Shadow stirring. His boss raised his head. Shadow looked around and soon discovered, like Doc, that he was chained upright to a wall, absolutely straight, which was most uncomfortable. “Hello, Shadow,” Madam Razia said. Doc frowned. There was something odd about her tone when she said Shadow’s title. Why is she saying it like that? Does she know something that I don’t know about Shadow? Doc’s suspicions were confirmed when he glanced at Shadow and noticed that he had tensed when Madam Razia had spoken to him. “I trust the sleeping dart did not really hurt that much?” Madam Razia enquired.
“Sleeping dart?” Anna asked, having just woken up.
“Good. I’m glad you are all awake,” Madam Razia said. That probably means we are going to regret waking up. “Now that you are all awake, I can now answer Doc’s questions,” her voice said over the intercom. She theatrically cleared her throat. “You three are all chained up in a secret compartment in the underground bunker – only myself, Pi and Ravi know about it and then only Ravi and myself know where it is located. You three now know about it, but it doesn’t matter as you three are about to die.” They all looked at each other, wondering how Madam Razia planned to kill them. “Now, I know you are all just dying to know how,” she continued. They all rolled their eyes at her lame joke.
“Why didn’t you just kill us?” Anastasia enquired.
“I would have,” Madam Razia confessed. “But, the Emperor wants a point made. He wants you three to suffer a slow death, to regret ever crossing us. Right, Shadow and Anastasia?”
“In other words, Kyen’s a sadist,” Doc quipped. But, he wondered what Madam Razia was referring to when she said “Right, Shadow and Anastasia?” I thought her name was Anna. They seemed to know, as they both tensed and scowled.
“No, he’s not,” Shadow quickly responded. “He’s not even Emperor.”
“How do you know?” Anna – or, I suppose Anastasia – argued.
“Here’s the answer to how,” Madam Razia said, completely ignoring Doc’s remark, and cutting off the argument. The light turned off suddenly, leaving them in darkness. There was no sound, no light, no apparatus of death. Just utter silence.
“Is this how?” Doc heard Shadow call out to Madam Razia. “By leaving us in the dark?” He heard Anastasia chuckle at that. He suddenly realized that he loved the sound of her chuckle and wished he could hear it again. But, Madam Razia did not respond. She’s turned off the intercom, Doc realized. Or is choosing not to respond.
Then came a new sound. Something was rushing towards them from underneath the floor. Then there was a gurgling sound, then silence. Suddenly, Doc felt something very cold, almost freezing, touch his feet. Then it quickly covered his feet. He shivered, but not from the cold water. He realised that they were meant to be drowned, or killed from the water’s almost freezing temperature.
SCIENCE LAB, THE PEAK
Charles and Petrus looked it over with a critical eye. “It is capable of flying at hypersonic speeds,” an engineer, Tim Lucas, told them as he showed them inside the new craft. Tim then pointed at a set of buttons on the dashboard. “These buttons are made for optical camouflage, invisibility to the naked eye, radar and satellites.
“And, what about the firing controls?” Petrus enquired. Charles was admiring the interior just then when his communicator in his cuff link beeped.
“Hello?” Charles spoke into the communicator, having raised the cuff link to his face to talk.
“Charles,” Madam Razia reported, “they have been put in the chamber and the water is coming in as we speak. But, there’s a problem. Unidentified planes are flying in the direction of the NagarjunaSagar Dam. We’ve tried to shoot them down, but they have protective shields around them. We’ve also tried to bring them down with our Disruptor Beams, which sucks the crafts’ energy and power, but it just won’t work. They must have a special protective shield, because we just can’t penetrate it. We can’t stop them!”
SOMEWHERE IN THE UNDERGROUND BUNKER
The water was up to their knees and rising. It was so cold that their teeth were all ready chattering and Anastasia’s toes were numb, and she knew that soon the rest of her body would quickly follow. How do we get out? she thought desperately. She pictured in her mind’s eye everything that she saw of the underground bunker and also thought of the everything she saw of this room before the light had been turned off, but nothing sprang forward. Nothing gave her an answer. Anyway, she thought, it doesn’t matter since we can’t get free.
The water was now up to her thighs.
OUTSIDE THE NAGARJUNASAGAR DAM
Donald landed the plane as the other planes of Zion’s air fleet landed around his plane –Z6. Bullets then ricocheted off the protective shields they all had around the planes. The bullets had come from the direction of the NagarjunaSagar Dam. “Remember the plan,” Alexei said as he, Veronica, Fergus and Zipporah finished gearing up. They put on their helmets.
“Copy,” Donald acknowledged and he flipped some switches and guns emerged, coming out of the wings. Donald, using the holo-sights and controls, began returning fire to the people around the dam. As soon as the other pilots began firing as well, Alexei and the Stingrays slid open the exit hatch on the top of the plane and very carefully climbed out and slid off the plane behind the wings. Once they were all out, they crouched down and scurried over to the nearest tree cover and began running from tree to tree. They were heading for the area where Ravi had said the entrance to the underground bunker was.
I hope the pilots can distract the League long enough, Fergus silently hoped. He prayed to YEHOVAH that they would be successful.
“Ah-ha!” exclaimed Alexei. He slammed his boot into the ground and the secret door swung open downwards.
The water was now up to their necks. They were shivering uncontrollably. Every inch of them was numb. They took a deep breath as the water covered their mouths. They tried raising their heads, but the water quickly rose and completely submerged them.
“Thanks,” Ravi said as they pulled him out of the room that Madam Razia had pushed him into.
“You’re welcome,” Alexei replied. “Do you have any idea where they are or what’s been done to them?”
Ravi paused as he thought about it. “She’ll be doing whatever the League of Nations tells her to – and that could be anything. But honestly, I have no idea,” he confessed.
Fear seized Alexei. Ravi had told him who the three were, without knowing the significance of whom the female was. What if she’s already dead? He pushed away the fear. Fear’s not the answer!
“Where’s Madam Razia?” Veronica asked.
“Probably in the office,” Ravi replied and he led the way.
Madam Razia relaxed in the office chair. She was not at all concerned about the battle outside. She was quite positive that her men and women would be able to defeat the unknown assailants. She relaxed in her chair and began sipping some coffee. The door burst open and two people rushed in and pinned her to the wall, making sure she faced the wall.
“Where’s Anastasia, Doc and Shadow?” an angry, and demanding, voice asked.
“Who?” she played coy as she tried to work out who these intruders were as she had not been able to get a good look at the people before she was pinned to the wall.
“Shadow, Doc, and Anastasia,” the same voice – definitely a male – repeated. Probably a young adult.
“Ah, yes! They’re dead. Drowned,” she answered. Not really a lie. They were either dead now, or soon going to be. Something sharp pricked her neck and the world went dark.
Anastasia was so numb from the very cold water that she no longer felt cold. She could not feel anything. She felt her heartbeat become slower and Anastasia was having trouble thinking. She knew that her heart would stop soon. She pictured the photos of her father. Her mother. Her brother. A little bit of air escaped from her mouth and rose as bubbles to the surface. Then a little more.
Alexei felt like screaming. His sister was dead. Drowned. “Alexei? Alexei!” Zipporah yelled. He snapped out of his grief and stared at her. “Ravi’s talking to you,” she added. He looked at the man, wondering what could be so important.
“Alexei,” Ravi repeated, “Madam Razia mentioned drowning. I think I know where they have been put. Madam Razia was lying about them being dead. I could tell. There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that they could still be alive.”
Veronica and Zipporah had just finished tying up the unconscious Madam Razia. “Then show us,” Alexei ordered.
She felt warm. Surprising in the very cold water, but Anastasia did. The warmth was comforting, peaceful. It made her want to close her eyes and go to sleep. Yet she knew that she should not. Anastasia looked sideways at Doc and Shadow. Air bubbles were pouring out of Doc’s mouth. He feebly turned his head towards her and she saw the light fading from his eyes. But the warmth she was suddenly feeling was making it difficult to comprehend.
Anastasia did not feel alarmed by the stream of bubbles escaping from her mouth. Black spots began appearing in her vision.
After Ravi had opened the hatch in the floor to the chamber, Fergus knelt down to check the temperature of the water. “It’s almost freezing,” he announced, standing up.
“Good thing our suits are designed to protect us in any environment and withstand such temperatures,” Zipporah stated. They dove in. They soon made out three figures chained to the wall. Alexei felt alarmed when he saw the air bubbles rising to the surface. He surfaced, told Ravi about them being chained, who handed him three keys and he dove under again. Swiftly handed Veronica and Fergus two of the keys and they began unlocking the chains.
Freeing Anastasia, he took hold of her and swam back up to the surface. Ravi helped him take Anastasia out. Alexei climbed out, then checked her pulse.
He put his hands on her chest and began pumping up and down, trying to restart her heart. He would take little breaks to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Fergus and Veronica both came out then, bringing Shadow and Doc with them. Shadow and Doc coughed and vomited water.
Anastasia began coughing up water. Alexei gently rolled her onto her back to make it easier for her. Relief flooded through him and he felt like crying. After she finished bringing up water, his sister began shivering violently. Alexei looked around for something to wrap around her, then noticed Ravi and Zipporah were not there. Where are they?
They then came back in, carrying some blankets, which they distributed amongst Anastasia, Shadow, and Doc. Alexei, after wrapping his twin sister in the blankets, picked her up, holding her close. He carefully stood up and looked at Shadow and Doc, who were standing up, but shivering. “Can you walk?” he asked. They tried and then nodded. “Zipporah, call Donald and let him know we’re coming. Let’s go.”
Alexei was the last one out of the bunker. He took Anastasia from Ravi, whom he had handed her to so that he could climb out. She was still shivering, albeit not as much, and her eyes were closed. She was not even aware of him. There was a beep! beep! and Donald called in over the radio. “Alexei? The enemy has been momentarily put out of action as we shone the Blinder on them, and they will be unable to see for five more hours. It is safe to come back,” Donald reported.
“Great! Good work!” Alexei praised them all. He motioned for everyone else with him to follow him and they broke cover from the trees and ran for the planes. At Donald’s plane, Donald, who had the hatch open, leaned out and took Anastasia, taking her into the Rehab on Z6. Alexei made sure everyone else was in before he himself climbed in. Once they were all in, he shut the hatch, and Donald and the other pilots took off, heading back for Zion. Alexei called in to Zion and reported the success of retrieving the three. David promised to tell Anne when she woke up from her nap. They hung up and Alexei went to the Rehab.
Fergus and Zipporah were checking over Shadow and Doc, helping them keep warm. Veronica was checking over Anastasia, who was lying on the hospital bed. Veronica had turned on the heaters embedded in the bed, which was keeping Anastasia warm. Veronica looked up at him as he came over. “She’s fine. Just asleep,” she whispered to him.
Alexei nodded, not taking his eyes off his twin sister. He wanted to speak, but emotions were swirling around, and he was afraid of crying if he tried to speak. Veronica, thankfully, realised this and left, leaving him and Anastasia alone. Alexei sat down on the side of the bed and stroked his sleeping sister’s hair. He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead. “Hey sis,” he whispered to her. “It’s me. Your brother, Alexei. Your safe now. You’re coming home. Our mother is going to be happy to see you. I love you.”
Even though she was asleep, and probably had not heard him, he could have sworn that Anastasia smiled after he said that, which brought a smile to his face as well.
Author’s note: When I wrote that scene from Doc’s perspective, the reason I referred to Anastasia as Anna in the text was because she had told Doc and Shadow that that was her name, so when I wrote it from Doc’s perspective, he would have thought of her as Anna.
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