Alexei was still sitting on the edge of Anastasia’s bed. He did not want to leave as he wanted to be there when she woke up. Suddenly, Anastasia stirred and then stretched. She opened her eyes and Alexei saw confusion and some fear in them. She looked around, then her eyes locked onto him and the fear and confusion quickly left. “Alexei?”
Anne yawned and stretched as she woke up. She felt refreshed and peaceful, as she always did when she took her nap. She stood up and began making up the bed. Anne was hungry, so after she had made the bed, she went into the kitchen and cut two slices of bread. She spread butter and molasses on them and was just about to pick them up when a hand reached over her shoulder and grabbed one of the slices; then the hand retreated. She turned to scold the cheeky culprit and discovered that it was David who was guilty and that he was eating the stolen slice of bread!
“Dear, you are marvelous!” David grinned. “You made me some bread, and I hadn’t told you that I was hungry! How did you know?” He was just joking, and she opened her mouth to speak, but he stopped her by leaning down and kissing her. She quickly reciprocated, but when he pulled away, she saw that he was now holding the other slice of bread in his other hand.
Anne burst out laughing. “Rascal!” She jokingly said. He smiled and held out the uneaten slice of bread. “Oh no! That’s okay. Since you’re hungry, you can eat it. I’ll make myself another one,” she assured her husband.
He adamantly shook his head. “You have it. Only wanted one,” he told her. She took the slice back and chuckled. They kissed each other again, and then ate the bread. David then turned to Anne. “I have some important news to tell you,” he said.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. He was in a good mood, so maybe the news would not be bad.
“You might want to sit down,” he warned. She went over to the kitchen table, now deeply worried about what the news could possibly be. Anne sat down, and only then did David sit down next to her. He looked her straight in the eye. “Agent R called in while you were having your nap. There was a situation at the NagarjunaSagar Dam, in India,” David told her.
“Technically, Region 19,” Anne corrected.
“Beside the point. Basically, the League had turned it off consequently cutting off the supply of water that the dam provided to the different regions,” David continued. “Ravi said that he heard of a rebel force that was going to turn on the dam again and joined. They contacted this group of three people to come help them – the three like travel around, helping out the rebellions where needed. The trio agreed to help them and went to the dam. He did not give all the details, but, he said that he had discovered that it was all a trap and that the League had set it all up and that the supposed rebel force was really working for the League.”
“Mm-hmm,” Anne said slowly, unsure of where this was going. “So…?”
“So, they were going to kill Ravi and the trio who had agreed to help what they thought was a rebellion,” David explained. “So, the Stingrays and our air fleet were sent out to go save them. Alexei recently called in to say that they were successful and were bringing the trio and Ravi here to Zion.”
“That’s great,” Anne replied. “But, why would I need to sit down for this news?”
David’s eyes twinkled. “Just getting to that part,” he told her. “It’s to do with who the trio is.” She waited as he stopped to work out how to say it. Why is it so important? “Okay. There are two guys – Shadow and Doc. We don’t know there actual names. Then there’s the female. She’s…Anastasia.”
At first she did not take in what he had said. Then it sunk in. “Wait. What?”
“Anastasia, your daughter, was one of the ones that Alexei and the Stingrays rescued. She’s coming here.”
Heading for Zion
“So, yeah, that’s basically what’s been happening,” Alexei concluded. After Anastasia had woken up, and the hugs and tears, Anastasia had bugged him with questions about how Zion came about and what they did. Then he had talked about himself. They were sitting next to each other on her hospital bed.
Anastasia smiled. She was glad her brother had had a good life. “What’s Mum like?” she queried.
“Well, she is the head of Zion. She has remarried to a man named David. She is smart, sweet, kind. You’ll like her,” Alexei said. Anastasia pictured Anne when she had seen her in the Court of Scarlet. Then she felt anger at what the League, specifically Charles, had done to her mother. Then sadness at what she must have gone through. Then she realised that when she had tried to destroy Zion, or kill the Geheimnis, when she was working with the League of Nations, she had been trying to destroy her family, kill her brother. She felt so thankful that she had never succeeded, but also ashamed of what she had attempted to do.
“I’m sorry,” she apologised.
“For what?” Alexei asked, frowning in confusion. So Anastasia told him about what happened to her that night in May, 2036 – what Hannah had done, and being taken to be raised amongst the League of Nations. She talked about growing up in the Peak, the lies they had told her, how she had believed them and tried to destroy Zion and at one stage, tried to kill him in Region 64. She then told him how she had found out the truth and her escape from the Peak and meeting up with Shadow and Doc. “It’s not your fault,” Alexei said, wrapping an arm around his twin. “You had absolutely no clue who we were.” They hugged each other in silence for a few minutes. “It’s strange,” Alexei muttered.
Anastasia raised her head to look at him. “What is?”
“Well, that Petrus would help you escape. Especially since he helped kill Dad. And the way you described him from those memories and dreams. He sounded…”
“Like he did not care?” offered Anastasia.
He nodded. “Yeah. Well, being a murderer,” he tensed in anger, “he would not care.”
Anastasia was quiet as she thought about it. “But, when I was growing up, he was a loving, caring, fatherly man. Okay, that was probably an act. Then, when he helped me escape…I think he may have had a change of heart, or else is experiencing actual concern about me.”
“How do you know he’s not trying to use you somehow? I agree that all the love he showed you was an act, but I don’t agree about feeling concern for you, or having any change of heart. Remember, he’s part of the League, and has lied to you all your life,” Alexei argued.
“How could Petrus be using me?” Anastasia replied. “Do you think that he is trying to make me think something about himself that isn’t true? What would be the point in that?”
Alexei shrugged. “I guess we’ll never know. Sorry for arguing about it,” he apologised.
“That’s okay. I’m sorry as well,” Anastasia replied. “I don’t like him, just confused about how he’s acting.” Alexei then kissed the top of her head and climbed off the hospital bed.
“I’ve got to go and check on Donald and also check on how the other pilots are doing,” he explained. He turned and headed for the cockpit. “I’ll be back!” he called over his shoulder as he left. Anastasia then looked over at Shadow and Doc, who were to her right, though out of earshot of her. Shadow had finally taken off his hood and Anastasia saw that Shadow had wavy black hair. Doc was asleep. She stood up and walked over to them. Anastasia wanted to find out who Shadow really was.
The private jet plane landed on the runway. Petrus stared out the window at the frozen landscape. It was all white. Cold ice. One heck of a dump, he thought. He and Charles were going there to check and see first-hand how the construction of the new fighter fleet was progressing. Their engineers in Antarctica had been building the fleet for a while now. Charles had ordered them built when Region 64 had rebelled without the then-Emperor Noland’s knowledge.
The cold hit them hard as they stepped out of the plane. They were both dressed in very thick, woolly jackets, three track pants, several layers of socks, three long-sleeved tops, three scarves and goggles, yet they still felt some of the wind through their clothes. Why, oh why, do the engineers have to construct everything in this god-forsaken hole? Petrus silently complained. I know it was chosen for secrecy, but why couldn’t the League have picked a warmer climate?
A truck was parked there, waiting for their arrival. Charles and Petrus went over and climbed in, shutting the doors. The driver turned on the engine and drove off. The driver, a woman called Emma, turned on the heater. “Thank you, Emma,” Petrus said. Emma nodded in acknowledgement. She drove to an empty spot, where there was nothing but ice and the cold wind. Emma turned on the car radio.
“Uno 4-7, this is Columbus 8-3-7-5. Requesting permission to enter HQ,” Emma said with her Irish accent. “Have with me two passengers – Charles E. Ville and Petrus Romanus.”
“Columbus 8-3-7-5, you are clear to enter,” was the immediate response. There was a whirring sound and the section of ground they were on began lowering, taking the truck with it.
Shadow looked up from a book Veronica had given him before leaving for the cockpit and looked at Anastasia. There was a determined look in her eyes, like she was determined to do something or find out something. But she was also looking at him warily. “Doesn’t reading in flight make you feel ill?” Anastasia greeted.
“No. Not me,” Shadow replied, shutting the book as he saw that she wanted to speak with him. He looked over at Doc, and saw that he had dozed off while Shadow had been reading. He turned back to Anastasia. “What do you want, Ivanka? Wait. No. Sorry. Forgot. It’s Anastasia now, isn’t it, Anna?”
Anastasia stiffened at that remark. “So, you know me,” she remarked.
“Or, about you.”
She raised her eyebrow. “So, how did Madam Razia know my birth name? Did you tell her?”
He adamantly shook his head. “No. I only told her that your name was Anna. She worked for the League, so they probably told her.”
Anastasia seemed to consider this. “Ok. What’s your real name? Who are you?” she interrogated.
“I am nothing now,” Shadow replied. “I am someone who hates Charles and the League. Like you do.”
“You used to be part of the League of Nations,” Anastasia commented.
“Same as you,” Shadow replied.
“Who are you?” she pressed.
Shadow broke eye contact to think. Should I tell her? Since I wanted to bring her back to her family, would it be okay? No. She would probably kill me before I could explain. He looked back at Anastasia. “Later,” he replied and picked up his book again. She just turned and walked away.
UNDERGROUND BASE, ANTARCTICA
Emma drove off the platform and it was raised back up again. Charles and Petrus unbuckled and climbed out. Two men came over to them – one of whom was a scientist, the other an engineer. Charles shook their hands. “Hello, Gordon and Henry,” greeted Charles cordially.
“Hello,” Henry greeted. “Come on. I’ll show you our progress.”
Anastasia sat back down on the bed. He knew her birth name, and he must have known it before Madam Razia mentioned it as he knew that she used to be Ivanka Brown. She was perplexed. If he’s against the League of Nations like me, why doesn’t Shadow want to talk about his actual identity? Then again, she reflected, when they asked for my name, I didn’t tell them about who I was as I was worried about their reaction. I wonder if I knew him, or about him, as well? She thought of Shadow’s bronze complexion, his black wavy hair and then she remembered someone else who looked like that. Is it him?
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Alexei announced over Z6‘s intercom, shattering her thoughts. He sounded quite happy. “We are now arriving at Zion. Buckle up and prepare for landing.” Then it really hit Anastasia.
She was actually about to meet her mother.
Charles followed Henry and Gordon through the many aircraft that were still under construction. Petrus followed behind him. The scientist and engineer led them to the flying saucer at the very front of the fleet of saucers and fighter aircraft. “This is yours, sir,” Gordon announced. Charles inspected every inch of the outside of his flying saucer. Black – like he had wanted. Splendid. Henry opened the hatch that led inside the craft. Charles followed him inside, glancing behind to make sure that Petrus was following. Inside, Henry turned around and faced them. “This saucer will only turn on and operate when it’s assigned pilot and co-pilot are in here. All the controls have a DNA scanner embedded in them, so when someone touches one of the controls, it automatically checks the DNA and will only work if it is one of you two. If not, it sends out an electric shock,” Henry explained. “I added both of your biometrics today.”
Charles nodded approvingly, then turned to Petrus. “I decided that you should be co-pilot,” he said. Petrus looked immensely pleased, and bowed a little.
“Thank you, sir,” Petrus said.
As Z6 and the other planes came in to land, the auxiliary doors in the ground opened up, and the planes descended into the landing pads. The pilots all turned off the engines. Anastasia took a deep breath and exhaled. She stood up. Okay. Calm down, she silently commanded herself. “Hey. You alright?”
Anastasia turned and saw a female standing next to her, looking at her. She had honey-coloured hair and blue eyes. “Are you Zipporah?” Anastasia questioned.
The girl nodded. “How’d you know?” Zipporah asked.
“Alexei described you,” Anastasia replied.
Zipporah smiled. “So, you alright?” she repeated.
“Nervous.” Then Alexei came over.
“Come on, ladies,” he smiled and stepped aside to let them through first. Zipporah went on ahead.
“You go on ahead,” Anastasia offered. Alexei just shook his head.
“We’ll go together.” And with that, he put an arm around her and they exited the plane. Anastasia looked around at the underground landing base. Amazing! she silently admired. She looked around at the other planes where the pilots were climbing out; she saw Donald, Ravi, Zipporah, Shadow, Doc (who had woken up) and those two other Stingray members heading for the exit. But she could not see anyone that looked like the woman that had been on trial at the Court of Scarlet.
The twins followed the others through the exit, up a flight of stairs and they came up and out into Zion. Anastasia looked around at all the people going about the sanctuary, doing work or chores. She looked around at all the houses. Then, out of one of the houses, she saw a couple step out the front door and onto the porch. Anastasia felt to watch them, but did not know why. She could not see them clearly. As she and Alexei came closer, she saw that the man was holding the woman’s hand. The woman stepped down onto the ground, turned to look at them and seemed to be searching their faces for someone.
Anastasia stopped in her tracks. The woman looked exactly like Anne, the woman on trial, her mother! Her mother locked eyes with her and Anastasia saw recognition flicker in her eyes. She saw Anne’s hand go to her mouth. Anastasia took a deep breath and began walking towards Anne. She carefully studied Anne as she came closer – Anne had slightly greying hair. Emotions were in her eyes – joy, love. Tears were beginning to spill down Anne’s cheeks. Anastasia felt tears in her own yes, but quickly blinked them away.
She stood infront of her mother. Tears were again threatening to come out, and this time she let them fall. Anastasia opened her mouth to speak, but the words would not come out. Anne reached up with her hand and gently wiped them away. Anastasia then embraced Anne, whispering “Hi, Mum.”
Then she began really crying. Her shoulders shook and she could not stop. Anne hugged her and also began crying. Anastasia buried her head in her mother’s shoulders. She had finally found her mother and brother. Alexei came over and hugged them both. They were finally all together again. A family.
VISITOR’S ROOM, ANTARCTICA
Petrus tapped his fingers on the table, waiting for the guards to bring the prisoner to him. He had ordered any cameras or listening devices in the room to be turned off and that absolutely no-one was to be in the room once the prisoner arrived. He would call the guards to take the person back once the meeting was over and made sure that the guards believed Charles had ordered this and that they were to remain silent about it. Charles was admiring his new fleet and had ordered Petrus to go and see how the exiles were doing in the wretched ice land, so Petrus was using this opportunity to talk to one of the prisoners.
The door to the Visitor’s Room opened and in stepped the two guards, who were both keeping a firm grip on the prisoner, who was an elderly man. They gently placed the old man in a plush chair directly opposite Petrus, and left the room, shutting the door behind them. The old man and Petrus eyed each other. Petrus would have had the man cleaned and dressed up nicely for this – mainly to manipulate him – but there simply had not been time. Therefore, the old man was dirty, smelly, and unkempt. He was hoping to flatter the man into an agreement. “Lord Owens, mightiest of all your line. It is a pleasure,” Petrus greeted, recalling every word of the ancient tradition of how to address the appointed leader of the Owens bloodline.
“Shut your hole!!!!” snapped the old man. “I may not have had this much respect in years, and I may be old, but I know when someone’s buttering me up!!”
“Lord Owens, with all due respect, I am purely obeying the traditions,” Petrus replied, feigning innocence.
Lord Owens eyed him, but less warily. But when he spoke, his words were laced with absolute, pure hatred. “One of the Romanus bloodline working for that pig, Noland Collins. But the Romanus’ always liked to have some control over people in power.”
“Noland is dead. As is your granddaughter, Nora. Both have been killed by Charles E. Ville. He now has the throne, masquerading with holograms as your great-grandson, Kyen,” Petrus informed him.
Lord Owens face filled with anguish. “I warned Nora not to marry Noland as I was worried about her life, but she did it, regardless, hoping to gain the throne, and she had the full support of the rest of the Owens,” lamented Lord Owens. “Even though I am the current leader of the Owens, I was outvoted. I could not risk a rebellion. Now look what has happened – we Owens have been killed or exiled. Nora is dead, as well as Kyen, since Charles would never let him live. He always wanted the throne, and would not let anyone stand in his way once he had it.”
Kyen had actually succeeded in escaping, and the Super Cyborg that had been ordered to kill him had lost his life as punishment for failing to carry out the order. But Petrus did not tell Lord Owens that. Believing Charles had also killed Kyen would hopefully motivate him to help Petrus. “We of the Romanus bloodline have loved advising, influencing, having control of the world’s powerful ones. But Charles, the usurper of an unholy seed, does not want to be advised or controlled. Neither did Noland. They both were very independent, but Charles more so, and that is an insult to my branch. Because of this, I wish to be rid of him. But, I need the Owens assistance,” Petrus informed Lord Owens.
“And what do you plan to do once you have gotten rid of the vermin, if you so succeeded?” Lord Owens enquired.
“I shall put you on the throne, O Glorious Leader of the Owens line,” Petrus announced. “I have a plan. I’ll contact you when it is time. But you must persuade the others.”
“That won’t be difficult,” Lord Owens replied. He considered the offer. “Deal.” They shook hands. Petrus pressed a button, and the two guards came in and took him away. Petrus was pleased. He would never give any of the Owens the throne. He thought it was high time a Romanus was Emperor. Of course, he would have some trouble acquiring the throne, but with the Owens help, it would hopefully go more or less smoothly. Once he had it, he would rid himself of the Owens and Collins. You’re going down, Charles, he thought.
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