ZION: WAR OF THRONES Chapter Twenty-Three

The gorilla kept its eyes on the ground. It was following the female shoe prints. The shoe prints led it to the edge of a drain cover on the footpath. The drain cover was lifted up and the shoe prints led into it. The gorilla’s “brain” calculated the diameter of the circular entrance to the sewers and came to the conclusion that it was not big enough for itself to climb through. A laser beam shot out of its left eye and it cut a hole big enough for itself to climb through. It dropped down through the hole and landed with a splash in the sewer. But, it slipped in the muck and fell, landing in the water, wrecking its circuits.

~

Veronica edged on the walkway, past where the gorilla had fallen in and “died”. She was holding her breath, trying to step in or look at the water. She had run until she had found a drain cover. Veronica had opened it and climbed in, keeping the cover off so that the gorilla would follow her inside and slip and fall in the water, which would wreck it. Though, down here, the gorilla wouldn’t kill me. The stench would. She reached the hole and grabbed the edge and hoisted herself up and onto the footpath. She took a deep breath of fresh air before shutting the drain cover. She frowned as she thought about the virus. What went wrong with it? The virus would turn the Peak’s systems offline – permanently. Nothing would be able to stop it once it was in. What went wrong? Did someone tamper with it? It would have to be someone with a knowledge of computer viruses to do that. Someone who knew what our plans were. It would have to have been tampered with – or changed – before we left for the Peak. Alexei wouldn’t do it. Zipporah would not do it. I’m pretty sure none of us who went would tamper with the virus. Who would do it?

She thought about it as she ran back to the pterodactyl to take the machete. On the way to the Peak, Alexei had been going over hers and Zipporah’s mission with both of them. Veronica remembered Alexei saying that someone had sent the virus over to them. Someone…oh, who was it?

Then she knew.

Veronica had reached the bottom of the stairs by this time. After realizing who it was, she went over to the pterodactyl and was relieved to see that the machete was still embedded in its chest. She took the machete out and ran back up the stairs and down the street.

~

Flanked by his men, Charles burst into a room. The lights were back on. Charles was surprised to see the members of the Shamrock Council and the Court of Scarlet in the room. The Super Cyborgs with them charged at Charles and his men. They destroyed them with the laser bolts. Charles’ men then surrounded the people in the room while Charles walked calmly forward. “Hands in the air! NOW!”

Charles’ phone rang. He looked at the ID and then answered it. “What is it, Tina?”

“We have apprehended Alexei Ivanov and Kyen Collins in the Armoury and we are heading your way now,” Tina reported. Charles chuckled.

“Excellent,” he said and he told her where he was. He ended the call and pocketed his phone. “Looks like we are going to have some company,” Charles remarked to nobody in particular. He looked around at the prisoners and then noticed that La Magne had his finger on a small device in his ear and seemed to be listening to something. Charles recognized the device as an earpiece. “La Magne, what’s going on?” Charles asked, walking over to him and put the laser cutter very close to La Magne’s throat.

“I-I h-had ordered the super soldiers to herd the rebels to the Palace so that we can finish them off,” La Magne told Charles.

Charles burst out laughing at the irony of it. “Good job. Then, how ’bout we go join them?” His men began prodding the people at the table. They stood up and followed Charles out of the room, whose men were at the rear. Charles saw some people coming towards him and stopped. Looking at the faces, he relaxed. Tina, the other female and the men came over and dumped two people at his feet. Charles looked at Alexei and Kyen and smiled. “So nice of you to join us,” he said. He then nodded at the two men and the women as he walked past. “Take them with us. The more the merrier.”

~

As he was dragged along, Kyen could not help but think of what had happened in the Armoury. He was bleeding, but not too much. He knew that there were two such robotic spiders that the League used. One of them had attacked him and Alexei. He kept glancing around. Where was the other one?

~

Anastasia looked around. How are we going to get out? “Why have we stopped?” Andrew asked over the comms.

“There’s robotic velociraptors surrounding us,” she told him. She heard a sharp intake of breath. Anastasia figured that Andrew was no doubt remembering the Jurassic Park franchise with those exceedingly intelligent Raptors, something she was trying not to think about right then.

An idea came into her mind. She let go of Andrew, raised her hands and fired her grappling crossbows that were strapped to her hands. The arrows hit some of the velociraptors in the eyes. They let out a loud screech as they backed away, trying to take the arrows out. She whipped around and fired at the others, hitting them in the eyes. She then grabbed Andrew’s hand and ran. Surprisingly, Andrew kept his footing. Anastasia glanced back over her shoulder. She smiled as she saw the velociraptors were still trying to take the arrows out. Good luck with that. She then saw another group of velociraptors coming at them from behind. Looking infront of her, she saw some black panthers charging at them.

Seriously?

She and Andrew turned to their right and ran through a garage and out into the back yard. Anastasia heard the animals following her. They saw a tool shed and ran inside and shut the door – right on a velociraptors face. Anastasia locked the door and they leaned against the wall, panting. They were silent as they listened to the panthers and velociraptors fighting each other. “What are we going to do?” Andrew whispered.

“Wait until they leave, then we get out and find the others,” Anastasia whispered back. I hope it’s soon.

~

Charles stepped onto the balcony and looked down into the courtyard. He watched as Alexei, Kyen, and the members of the Court of Scarlet and the Shamrock Council were led out into the courtyard and thrown into the centre of the courtyard where the other rebels were. The Super Cyborgs and Charles’ men surrounded them. Charles raised his hand. “Ready!”

~

Veronica skidded to a stop as she reached an intersection. “Where do I go, YEHOVAH? Which way?” she prayed.

“Right,” she heard Him say. She went to the right.

~

Anastasia realized that she could not hear the animals anymore. Did they leave?

~

“Aim!”

~

Andrew gripped Anastasia’s hand tight. He wished it was over. He wished he could see. It hurt when he blinked. He missed seeing everything, the colours. What he most missed was not going to be able to see Anastasia. He kept picturing her and what she looked like. I don’t want to forget. He pictured her brown hair, her green eyes, her-

“What’s that?”

“What’s what?” Anastasia whispered. He put a finger to his lips and listened again. He heard it again. A scratching noise. “What’s that noise?” he heard Anastasia mutter to herself. He heard her get up. He pictured her looking around. “They’re digging under the wall!”

~

Charles opened his mouth to say “FIRE!” He paused to savor the moment, when they were all looking up at him, with pleading faces. He went to say it, but saw something out of the corner of his eye, in the street outside. Thinking it was nothing, he continued. “FI-” His command died on his lips as the gates swung open and, to his confusion, someone walked in, carrying something. No, someone. Then he recognized the person.

Petrus Romanus?

~

She could not use her laser gun. She knew if she did, she would blow a hole in the wall big enough for the creatures to slip through and enter. She pulled her machetes off of her back, holding them in a tight grip. She saw the velociraptors arms digging a hole under the wall, trying to push its way inside. It pushed its head in and for a moment their eyes met. The next moment its head was lying on the ground while she heard its body being dragged away by the rest of the creatures.

Anastasia heard a clanging sound coming from the door. She turned and saw one of the corners of the door was curling up inside as something kept ramming into it. She saw a panther wriggling its way through. She ran over and chopped its head off.  To her surprise, a new head popped out of its neck and it continued to push its way inside. Its head and front legs were inside and it swiped at her. She ducked out of the way. She aimed her laser gun and aimed at its head. She hoped blasting it would stop its regrowth. She pulled the trigger.

~

Vacarius chuckled to himself as he saw Charles’ look of surprise at seeing him. Vacarius had holographically disguised as Petrus. It was the only way he could get the Owens assistance. Zipporah started to stir. He went over to the group and threw her in there and quickly backed away. He saw Alexei cradle her head in his lap. He saw Charles was getting over his shock. Vacarius aimed his laser gun at Charles and fired.

Charles ducked out of the way in time and ran inside the Palace. Vacarius raised his hand and the Owens swarmed into the courtyard.

~

Charles peered out a window and saw chaos in the courtyard. The rebels and the members of the courts were fighting each other and everyone else. But he could not see Petrus. He heard a door burst open and crouched down. He watched as Kyen ran into the room, weapons at the ready, sweeping the place. He stood up. “Looking for me?” he called out. Kyen turned to him just as Charles fired at him.

~

Fergus, Robin, and Josephine were surrounding Alexei and Zipporah to protect them. Josephine saw someone charging at her. She swung her light saber, cutting the man’s head off. She saw movement around the top of the walls surrounding the Palace. She looked up and saw people on the walls aiming crossbows and laser guns down into the courtyard at them. She then noticed that the gates were shut. “Pick a target and take your aim!” she heard someone yell. Josephine looked around. They could not escape.

They were sitting ducks.

~

The panther’s head exploded and its body fell limp to the ground. Anastasia was relieved. She looked back at the door…

…and saw that while the laser bolt had blown up the panther’s head, it had also blown a large hole in the wall by the door. She saw some of the creatures running towards the hole. She aimed her laser gun and pulled the trigger.

But nothing happened.

Her laser gun’s power had drained.

She aimed the grappling crossbows at their eyes and fired. The arrows pierced their eyes and they screeched and began running around in circles as they tried to take the arrows out. Anastasia saw that the panthers and velociraptors were still digging under the walls. And they were almost through. She fired her arrows at them. Most of them retreated in pain. But two of them still kept digging and pushing themselves through. Anastasia brought her machete down, severing their necks. “Anastasia!”

Anastasia quickly turned around and saw that a panther had gotten in through the hole in the wall and was dragging Andrew out. Anastasia brought both her machetes down on its neck and back. It let go of Andrew, but started attacking her. It leaped at her. Anastasia dropped to the ground, but twisted around at the same time and pulled out the machete in the panther’s neck. The panther landed, but turned around as it landed and leapt at her again. Anastasia raised the machete and impaled the panther.

~

Veronica ran down a street. She felt that this was where she was meant to be. “YEHOVAH, what am I supposed to do?” YEHOVAH showed her a house and told her to go through the garage and into the backyard. She went through the garage and into the backyard. She saw some robotic creatures trying to enter a shed. Others were pulling arrows out of their eyes. A velociraptor charged at her. Veronica threw the machete and it slammed into the robots head. It then dropped to the ground. She aimed her laser gun and fired at the creatures.

~

Anastasia peered out of the hole in the wall and watched as Veronica destroyed the creatures. Veronica stopped and was panting heavily. Anastasia helped Andrew out of the shed. Veronica started at seeing them. “Thanks,” Anastasia said as she and Andrew came over.

Veronica opened her mouth to speak, but she looked at Andrew and saw through his visor the bandages around his eyes. She looked at Anastasia with shock. Anastasia nodded to the question in Veronica’s eyes.

“Where are the others?” Andrew asked suddenly.

Veronica shrugged. “I’m not sure,” she said. Suddenly snapped her fingers. “YAH says they’re at the Palace.” She pulled out her teleporter and typed in their new destination. She then took hold of Anastasia’s free hand and pressed enter.

~

Alexei heard Zipporah stir. He looked down and saw that she was gripping her arm and whimpering. “Hey, Zip,” he said. “It’s okay.” He looked around at all the fighting and then noticed the people on the wall, weapons aimed at him. “Sort of,” he added. “FIRE!” he heard someone yell. He cried out as Fergus, Ronald, and others were hit and fell down. “NO!”

“YAH, please help us,” Zipporah prayed.

~

Kyen dropped and rolled, firing at Charles at the same time. Charles ducked. Kyen rolled onto his feet, looking around for Charles. He saw some movement to his left and fired. He heard someone cry out. He went over there, gun at the ready. He looked behind the statues where he heard the person cry out.

Charles was lying there, blood flowing out of his arm. Kyen aimed his gun at Charles. Charles’ leg suddenly shot up, knocking Kyen’s gun out of his hand. Charles then stood up, kicking Kyen in the stomach. Kyen tried to stand up, but Charles aimed a dart gun at him and pulled the trigger. A dart pierced his arm. He moved to take it out, but he was not able to move. He tried again, but still could not move.

Then Kyen realized what the contents of the dart was.

The Freeze Serum.

Charles aimed his gun at Kyen. “You won’t escape this time,” he growled. Suddenly, Charles’ gun skidded across the floor.

~

Charles looked behind him and saw Anastasia standing in a doorway, partially obscured by some shadows, holding a smoking gun. Before he could move, Anastasia took hold of a laser gun and pulled the trigger and Charles’ gun exploded.

Anastasia then fired bullets at him, close to his feet. He turned and ran around the corner, bullets licking at his heels. He then noticed that the firing had stopped. He cautiously went back the way he had came. He saw Anastasia disappearing down another corridor and Kyen was no where to be found. He saw a grappling crossbow hanging on the wall nearby. He grabbed it as he ran past, following Anastasia.

It’s time to end this.

~

Veronica with a pair of gloves with octopus-like suckers on them and an invisibility cloak began climbing up the side of the Palace. She pulled herself up onto the roof and took her position on the roof, perching herself on top of the largest gargoyle. She aimed her laser gun at one of the Super Cyborgs and pulled the trigger. The laser bolt hit the target. She aimed at another one and pulled the trigger.

~

Josephine stared in surprise as a Super Cyborg exploded. Then another. And another. She looked around and saw the other Super Cyborgs and super soldiers were distracted with trying to locate the mysterious shooter. She quickly aimed her laser gun at a Super Cyborg and pulled the trigger. She let out a whoop as the laser hit its target. She and the others quickly started firing at the others.

~

Vacarius quickly ducked inside the Palace. It simply was not safe out there with an invisible shooter for someone like him. Let the others stay out there, he thought as he sealed the door he had just went through with a laser beam. Better them than me. He heard a scuttling sound. He looked around, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from, but it was echoing around, making it impossible to pinpoint. There was a pause. Then he heard it again.

Click.

Snap.

What’s causing that noise? He cautiously stepped forward, sweeping the place with his gun. He froze. He heard the scuttling noise again. It was coming from…

He looked up. He saw a giant robotic spider directly above him. It dropped on top of him.

~

Anastasia heard a terrified scream, then it suddenly was cut off. Hearing Charles behind her, she continued running down the hall. She ducked around a corner and pressed herself against the wall. She listened as she heard Charles run into the hall, and then slow to a stop. She could hear him breathing. She peeked around the corner and saw him looking around, trying to find her. She quickly withdrew back around the corner. “Come on out, Anastasia,” Charles called out.

She gripped her laser gun, quietly bringing it up, ready to jump around the corner and fire at him. “Look,” he shouted, “why don’t we settle this…in a peaceful manner? You could work for me.”

Like I did before? She thought bitterly, resting her finger on the trigger. Any second now…

“After all, we’ve got to keep the family in the business, don’t we?”

Family?

“You don’t want to kill your…great-uncle, do you?”

~

The spider stepped over the corpse and its listened for any noise around the place, to find someone to kill. Its sensors heard shouting up ahead. Shouting meant humans. It scuttled in that direction.

~

Great-uncle? How can that be?

Anastasia sagged against the wall, trying to comprehend it.

“…we’ve got to the family in the business…”

Then she remembered part of a conversation she had overheard between Charles and Hannah.

***

“Why didn’t you just kill her as soon as we had confirmation of her beginning investigations? You hesitated, almost like you did not want to kill her just yet. Why?”

Understanding dawned in Charles’ eyes about who Hannah was talking about. He was silent for a few moments, pondering how to answer. “I was hoping…that she could still help us get rid of Zion,” he finally answered.

“That’s not true, and you know it,” Hannah pressed him, reading her uncle like a book.

He stood up. “Alright. I did not kill her just then for the same reason that I have decided to let you live out the last few miserable hours of your life.”

***

He let Hannah live because she was family. Is he telling the truth? No! He’s just playing a mind game! We are not related! She ran out into the hall, firing at Charles as she ran up ahead and into a room, quickly shutting the door.

~

Charles stood up and looked around. Anastasia had suddenly attacked him, but he had no idea where she had hidden. “You and me…we’re the same. We’re family. I would do anything to get what I want…and so would you. You’re just like me. Why don’t we work together?” Silence was the only answer. He quickly became angry. “Come on out NOW!” he yelled. “I’ve worked YEARS to try and take the throne – my throne – and you are NOT GOING TO RUIN IT NOW!!! SO COME ON OUT!!!” He began to carefully search again. “You are not going to stop me from getting the throne! I should have been given it years ago! But no – your paternal great-grandfather wouldn’t listen to my mother. I was ‘illegitimate’. I was his very first child! And he wouldn’t have anything to do with me! Wouldn’t even acknowledge ME!!”

He took a deep breath. “I was promoted to general by the king, my half-brother. General Truman,” and Charles scoffed. “He wasn’t even aware I was his brother. That’s why I decided to join the League so that one day I could become Emperor!”

~

Veronica aimed at a Super Cyborg. Right before she pulled the trigger, something jumped on top of the Super Cyborg, knocking him over the edge of the wall and into the courtyard below. The man hit the ground, his head in an unnatural position. The thing flew off of him and soared past Veronica. A pterodactyl.

She heard snarls and screeches as velociraptors and panthers scaled the walls and attacked the Super Cyborgs. Veronica smiled. “Yes!” But it quickly changed to a scream as a panther leapt off of the wall…

…and right onto Alexei and Zipporah.

~

So that’s why Truman’s photo looked familiar. It was a younger version of Charles! She then became aware of Charles shouting again. “It’s mine! My family is NOT going to take it from me now!” Anastasia then jumped out. Something stung her hands. She looked down and saw her hands were empty and her gun was skidding across the floor. She saw Charles fire again and something hit her in the shoulder. She felt nothing, then it erupted in pain. Her shoulder felt like it was on fire. Then something hit her in the stomach. Her hands went to her stomach. She saw the shaft of an arrow protruding out of it.

~

Charles watched as his great-niece collapsed on the floor, clutching at her stomach. He went over to her and saw that she was gasping for air, blooding trickling out of her stomach. Her eyes met his – hers filled with hate, anger and pain; his filled with anticipation. “So, how does it feel, now that you are about to die?” he taunted.

He saw her eyes flicker to something behind him, then quickly look back at him. He saw the light fading from her eyes. She tried to swallow. “I should ask you that,” she spat at him. He laughed.

“Rubbish! You can’t do anything to me!” Charles then aimed the grappling crossbow he had at her forehead. But to his surprise, Anastasia smiled at him. Frowning, he turned around just as something slammed into him, sending him flying and he landed on the floor several feet away from Anastasia. He looked up and saw a giant spider was on top of him.

~

Anastasia heard her great-uncle scream loudly for a few seconds before it came to a disturbing sudden stop. Everything started to fade away. Darkness began to fill her vision. She kept trying to breathe, to hang on. But she felt herself slipping away. Her breathing became slower and slower.

~

Zipporah screamed as the panther clawed at them. Its jaws clamped onto Alexei’s arm and began to shake its head. Its eyes suddenly locked onto her. It let go of Alexei’s arm and snarled at Zipporah, heading towards her. She started backing away. It leapt into the air, mouth open, claws raised. Not being able to move out of the way in time, Zipporah closed her eyes.

ZION II

Anne exited the Control Core, rubbing a crick in her neck. I need some coffee. She shut the door to the Control Core and headed towards the kitchen. She froze in her tracks. He hadn’t been there before. “Andrew?” His head turned in the direction of her voice. She gasped as she saw his bandaged face. “What happened?” she asked.

Andrew explained quickly about what had happened to him and the situation in the Peak. “V, Anastasia, and I had teleported ourselves near to the Palace to discuss our next move. The girls decided it was best to teleport me back here to get medical attention, but also to update you guys and to request more back up,” he finished.

“Go with Anne,” David said. Anne was startled – she had not heard David come up behind her. “She’ll take you to the Clinic. I’ll get the back-up.”

PALACE COURTYARD, THE PEAK

Zipporah heard a THUD! She opened her eyes and saw that the panther had been knocked to the side by two velociraptors and now they were fighting each other. A laser bolt flew past her and slammed into the three creatures. Zipporah ducked and covered her head as parts of the robots flew past. She quietly thanked whomever was responsible and went back to Alexei. She saw that his arm was bloody and there was strands of skin hanging from the part where the panther had bit him.

“I’m sorry,” she said. She heard a yell and looked up. There was holes in the courtyard and Super Cyborgs, robotic gorillas, lionesses, and bulls were swarming out and charging at them. Zipporah looked up at the walls surrounding the Palace and saw more Super Cyborgs were up there, aiming their weapons at them.

~

Veronica aimed her laser gun at some of the new Super Cyborgs up on the walls and pulled the trigger. To her surprise, the laser bolt bounced off of it and hit part of the Palace. They must have protective shields around them, she realized. Oh no.

~

Robin handed Zipporah some weapons. “Take care of him,” and he pointed at Alexei. He looked at Josephine and nodded. They and the rest of the rebels who were still alive ran towards the cyborgs and animals. The noises faded away. Everything seemed to go in slow motion as Robin gripped his light saber and focused on the Super Cyborg infront of him. He saw laser bolts fly past and hit some of the people with him. He swung his light saber and decapitated the Super Cyborg. The noises returned and things seemed to speed up. Robin used his light saber like a sword, cutting down the animals and Super Cyborgs.

~

Veronica tried to fire another laser beam, but her laser gun had run out of power. Back-up better get here fast. She saw two Super Cyborgs and a lioness were attacking Josephine. Veronica could see that Josephine, though fighting desperately, would not last much longer. She tried to take aim with another gun, but everyone was moving too fast to lock on to. She looked down at her light saber, then back at the walls where she saw a Super Cyborg about to shoot Alexei. A crazy idea came into her head. Without thinking, Veronica jumped off the gargoyle and onto the roof. She began to back up, keeping the cyborg in her front line of sight. Once she was sure she had backed up enough, she ran. She pushed herself off the roof, using her momentum to propel her forward. She slammed into the Cyborg. He half twisted around from the force of impact and fell over the edge. She began to fall after him. She reached out and grabbed the ledge. Her body slammed into the wall, leaving her winded, but she held on.

She saw the other Super Cyborgs training their weapons on her and she then realized that her invisibility cloak had accidentally turned off when she slammed into the Cyborg. Suddenly the Super Cyborgs exploded. A hand reached down and grabbed Veronica, pulling her up. She struggled. “Hey. Hey!” a voice said and she stopped struggling. She looked at the person who had pulled her up.

“David!”

~

Josephine tried to fight them, but they quickly overwhelmed her. They kept going closer to her, forcing her to back up. She took a step back…

…and found herself falling down into darkness. She looked up at the light pouring through a rectangle hole and she realised that she had fallen through one of the secret doors that the wave of Super Cyborgs and animals had come out of. The lioness crouched down, getting ready to pounce.

Suddenly, it exploded. She heard shouts and yells and saw a new group of people had joined the fight. Oh no. Not more! Someone jumped down beside her. She starting fighting the person. “I love you, too,” someone said dryly.

What?

She took a good look at the grinning face before her. “Ronald? But-I saw you get hit and…”

“It’s not fatal,” he told her. “I’ll live.” He helped her climb out. She looked around in amazement. She saw other Zionists had arrived and were fighting. She saw some of the Super Cyborgs and creatures escaping; but the Zionists were giving chase. She breathed a sigh of relief and felt tears coming into her eyes.

7:30 p.m.,” Ronald said suddenly.

Josephine turned and looked at him. “Uh…what?”

He looked at her with a smile. “In a week, you and I are going to have dinner together at 7:30 p.m.

She put her hands on her hips and raised an eyebrow at him. “Since when did I agree to anything like this?”

“Right now.”

Josephine felt herself blushing. “And how do you propose to get me to accept?”

He shrugged. Josephine turned and walked away. “Wear something nice,” she called over her shoulder.

~

Ronald watched Josephine head over to Einstein and Veronica and begin to help them start clearing away all the dead people. He saw Robin was helping move the dead away.

Taking a deep breath, he went over to Robin and tapped his shoulder. Robin looked over his shoulder at him. “Yeah?” he asked. Ronald was surprised at his calm manner. Normally, Robin was taunt around Ronald and spoke shortly with him. This time, he was more relaxed.

“Um…I made arrangements for you to live with my father Barry…instead of me,” Ronald began, scratching his head, not sure how to tell him. Robin simply nodded, his face unreadable. The silence between them quickly grew uncomfortable. “I think that’s best,” Ronald continued hesitantly. “So…yeah.” He studied Robin’s eyes and thought he saw a flicker of something in Robin’s eyes. Disappointment? He nodded to say ‘goodbye’ and turned and began to walk away.

“Hey, Uncle?”

Ronald stopped and turned around. “I would like…I-I mean if you wouldn’t mind, that is…we…I’ll stay.” Seeing Ronald’s shocked look, Robin continued. “You know, like start over.”

Ronald felt a smile tugging at his mouth. He walked back over to his nephew. “You serious?” Robin nodded. “What brought this on?”

Robin smiled. “Just a conversation with someone,” he replied vaguely.

“I won’t make any promises,” Ronald told him. “But I’ll try. Okay?”

~

Zipporah slowly lowered the laser gun Robin had given her. She breathed a sigh of relief, and mopped her forehead. She knelt down beside Alexei. “You alright?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yeah,” he replied. “Mostly.” Alexei opened his mouth to say something else, but before he could, Zipporah took his face in her hands and kissed him. He was startled and stiffened, but quickly relaxed and kissed her back. Zipporah pulled away, but Alexei drew her back in and they kissed again, this time more deeply.

A cough startled them.

“So,” David snickered, “when’s the wedding?” Zipporah and Alexei chuckled awkwardly. Zipporah noted that Anne and Einstein were there, teleporting the wounded back to Zion’s Clinic. David noticed her attention. “We need to teleport Alexei to the Clinic,” he said as Anne came over with a teleporter. “I’m sorry, Zipporah, but we need you here right now.” Zipporah nodded sadly, gave Alexei a peck on the cheek, promised to visit him as soon as she could, and walked away to go help Einstein, Josephine, and Veronica.

~

Anastasia opened her eyes. It was very dark. She could not see anything. Where am I? Did the lights go off? She saw something up ahead. It was black, just like everything else, but it seemed…blacker. Darker than the darkness around her. She jumped in surprise as she saw it move. She saw other movement. She heard something and strained to listen. It was…whispering. She could almost make out what was being said, but right when she was about to work it out, the whispering would fade. She jumped as she heard screaming.

Her heart was racing, and she broke out into a cold sweat. She suddenly found it really hard to breathe and she spotted two red eyes peering at her. Anastasia did a double-take. But she could not see the eyes anymore. What-what’s going on? Where am I? “Somebody, help!” She called out. Anastasia then spotted some light up ahead. She began heading towards the light.

She felt some hands grip her arms and begin to drag her away from the light. The whispering grew louder and angrier. She was seized by a sudden panic as she heard screaming behind her. The light grew fainter. “Don’t go there. You can’t. You’re like them,” she heard someone with a deep, menacing voice whisper. “You belong with us.” No! She began to struggle and tried to pull away, to go back to the light. Suddenly the light became brighter and spread. Anastasia squinted in the bright light. She saw dark shapes that looked like dragons and other shapes she could not identify turn away from the light and run away, screaming in terror. Anastasia had to cover her eyes as the light was very bright.

Once her eyes adjusted to the light, she lowered her hands and looked around. Anastasia was standing in what she sensed was a tunnel, but there was bright light all around. What’s going on? She suddenly felt scared and looked around for someone, anyone, that she would know. “Anastasia, don’t be scared.”

Startled, Anastasia looked around again and finally saw the person who had spoken. The person was a man and light radiated from Him. She sensed love, compassion, and concern coming from Him. His voice expressed warmth. Anastasia studied him and saw that the man had dark hair, brown eyes, and dark skin, though it was not black. “You know me?”

“I know everybody,” the man replied with a friendly smile that was full of love for her. And it was that that caused her to start crying. “Why? Why do you care about me? What did I do to deserve it?”

“Nothing.”

“But why? You don’t know anything about me,” she protested. He wouldn’t care about me if he knew.

To her surprise, tears filled the man’s eyes and spilled down His cheeks. “But I do,” He told her. “I know everything that you’ve ever done, said, and thought.” And he told her about some of the things that she had said or thought that she did not even remember. He came over and cupped her head in both of His hands. “But, I still love you and I always will.” He kissed her on the forehead, then he pulled away, looking at her with eyes filled with emotion. “Always.”

***

Always…

That word echoed around in her head as she looked around and found herself still lying down in the hall. My stomach! Anastasia sat up and immediately checked her stomach. She was confused. Where’s the arrow? She looked around and saw the arrow lying on the floor next to her, broken at both ends. She looked back down at where the arrow had penetrated her. There was no blood. No wound. No sign at all that an arrow had even touched her!

How…?

Then everything came flooding back. She remembered the dark place. Then the man – whoever he was – came. She remembered that he had cried when talking about her.

I know everything…

And he still loves me. Then another thought struck her. Who was he, anyway? Anastasia then remembered another thing about the man. His light dispelled the darkness. Caused it to disappear. She made a mental note to talk about the person with her mother later. She stood up and, after making sure that she still had her weapons, heading down the hall, trying to find her way out.

She froze and crouched down. She heard footsteps up ahead and voices. Low and she could not make out what they were saying. But the voices sounded familiar. Anastasia still kept a hand on her gun just in case. Then she saw someone up ahead. Suddenly her vision blurred and she realised she was crying at the sight of the person. She brushed the tears away and ran towards the person. Towards Anne. They embraced each other, both of them crying and clinging to each other. For a few minutes, they just stood there hugging each other. Then Anne whispered in her daughter’s ear. “You guys did it.”

Anastasia smiled. Then a memory flashed before her eyes.

***

Anastasia let out a wail and thumped her chubby fists on the floor. Anne picked her up and cradled Anastasia in her arms. Anne made shushing sounds, smiling at Anastasia. “It’s okay, baby,” she told her. “It takes time.” Anastasia looked down to the floor where her twin brother Alexei was pushing himself forward with his arms. Anne put her down on the floor again and then walked away to answer the phone.

Determined to do it, Anastasia began to slowly push herself forward. Inch by inch, she began to catch up with her brother, who had noticed her catching up and with a giggle of delight, tried to reach their father first. Anastasia soon caught up with him and then passed him! Edward laughed and picked up Anastasia and Alexei, kissing both of them. “You guys did it!”

***

“Yeah,” Anastasia said quietly. “We did.”

Two months later…

She closed the book and leaned back on the park bench. She watched as the butterflies fluttered past and the bees flew around collecting pollen. So peaceful. Anastasia checked her watch. It was nearly twelve o’clock. Robin, Ronald and Josephine should be arriving any minute now. She wondered when Ronald and Josephine were going to become engaged. They had been dating for almost two months now. I probably should remind Mum to get out extra pies, Anastasia thought as she stood up and stretched. Robin and Ronald love their pies. She chuckled as she recalled some of their pie-eating contests. So different to two months ago when they were fighting each other. I’m glad that they are getting along.

She heard laughter and turned a left at the fork in the garden path instead of the right which would take her to the palace. After bringing down the Peak, there were still some messes to clean up. The people in Zion II who had escaped from their regions had returned home. Alexei was the rightful heir to the Eden throne and had become king of Eden after recovering. Heading down the left path, Anastasia heard the laughter become louder. She moved through the trees in the palace gardens and came out by the edge of a swimming pool. She saw Alexei and Zipporah relaxing together by the edge of the pool, too absorbed in their conversation to notice her.

Well, almost recovered, she thought. Alexei was still having trouble walking, and every day, Zipporah would help him walk around in the gardens. Alexei would sometimes trip, Zipporah would catch him and it would end with a kiss. Though, Zipporah suspected that Alexei sometimes pretended to fall so as to get a kiss. She shook her head with a rueful smile as she turned and silently walked away, heading back to the palace. Boys.

She saw Veronica up ahead picking flowers. After they had defeated the Peak, Veronica had revealed that she had worked out that Einstein had been the one who had caused the trouble with the virus as he had been the one who had sent it to Alexei. Einstein had gained access to the Peak’s systems before Zipporah had hacked in. Once she had planted the virus, he had destroyed it so as the virus he had embedded deep in the Peak’s systems would be able to take effect. The virus he had planted was a WASP virus. He had turned off the system and then restarted it, knowing that the computers would upload any material in its system when it restarted, activating the WASP virus. The WASP virus had caused the robotic creatures to go completely savage and kill anyone they came across.

They had discovered that Einstein had a mind-control device in his brain that had been implanted without his knowledge when he had been working with the Collins and the Owens by a member of the Romanus bloodline and that someone had given him an order through the implant to mess with the virus. But the connection had terminated suddenly, which Einstein suspected meant that the person had been killed. Jeremiah had operated on him and removed the implant.

Anastasia and Veronica waved at each other as Anastasia walked past. Anastasia closed her eyes and smiled to herself as a soft breeze blew through her hair and kissed her face.  She raised her head skywards and let the sun shine on her face. As she absorbed the warmth of the sun, she was reminded of that man.

Always…

She remembered her conversation with Anne afterwards about what had happened. Her mother had become rather excited and had told her that she had had an encounter with YAHUSHUA, the Son of God. Anastasia had wanted to know more about Him, so Anne had lent Anastasia her Bible to read. Anastasia looked down at the Bible she was holding in her right hand. She tripped over a rock and fell down, dropping the Bible. Standing up, she brushed herself down and picked up the Bible. When the Bible had dropped, it had opened up and she smiled fondly as she saw where it had opened up at.

For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret intricately and curiously wrought in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awoke, I would still be with You.

Her fingers gently touched the page as she reread the verses. Whenever she read it, Anastasia always thought about what He had said.

But, I still love you and I always will.

“Do you need any help?”

Anastasia looked up with a start as Andrew looked down at her from one of the trees with a big grin. At the same time that she had arrived back in her body, his eyes had been healed. Andrew had said that someone had touched his eyes and that he could suddenly see. He had not seen who had healed him, but Anastasia suspected it was the same man she had met. She shut the Bible and returned the smile. “What are you doing up there?” she called.

“Hiding. Anne’s gonna’ have a fit when she discovers I ate some of her apple pie,” Andrew said. “Kyen will kill me if he realizes the part I ate was meant for him.” Anastasia laughed.

“Again?”

“Yep,” Andrew grunted as he jumped down from the tree and landed beside her.

“You never learn, do you?” Anastasia teased as they headed towards the Palace. Andrew shook his head.

“You could teach me, though.”

Anastasia snorted. “That’s the best line you can come up with?” Though she felt her cheeks growing red. She quietly studied him as he walked beside her. She could tell that he liked her. She wondered though what he saw in her. After everything that she had done in her past…

Then again, she reflected, He still loves me. She then realised Andrew was looking at her as well. They both stopped walking at the same time and faced each other. She saw a question in his eyes as he held out his hand to her. And it was not just to walk her into the Palace. It was an offer of a future. Of love. She saw absolute sincerity in his eyes as he waited for her response. She wondered again about what he saw in her. She realised then and there that she would just have to trust him. Trust both of them.

With a smile, she took his hand.

END OF TRILOGY

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40 thoughts on “ZION: WAR OF THRONES Chapter Twenty-Three

  1. That’s okay. I’m sorry about my awkwardness. One good thing about this, I have more time to think about what I’m going to say.

  2. So what did you think of “Zion: War of Thrones chapter 23”? What did you like or dislike? I would really like to know your thoughts on it.

  3. It depends. Sometimes a day, sometimes 2-3-4 days sometimes it takes a week, other times when I am having trouble getting time to do it, it takes 2-3 weeks.

  4. No, I haven’t posted any of my other stories on “Racheal’s Novels” yet. Now that I’ve finished the Zion trilogy, I’ll start posting other stories. No, no other characters die or whatever in the Zion trilogy – because it’s completed! (23 was the final chapter).

  5. They keep on going. Nothing stops them permanently, they continue to do what they must in the moment to maintain their momentum.

    The odds may seem stacked against them, but they keep on trucking!

  6. The characters, for one, you stay loyal to them and I can tell you care deeply for them. Why else would you bring Charles back?

    The gorillas so far are the most horrifying obstacle. You have made good use of them.

    You keep God in the story. Very important, it’s a fantasy, but you don’t ignore God. That alone is what keeps me coming back.

    It’s not everyday I run across a story as intriguing and entertaining as Zion, where God is not simply a financial decision.

    Keep it up Rue.

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