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The Great Beyond: a serialised novel about life beyond death Chapter Twelve
If you haven't read the previous eleven chapters start at Chapter One here

The Great Beyond XII
Brodie Parker

'The small spark of hope I felt that he might be stopped was extinguished as he knocked them away one by one'.

The cage disintegrated as Shugg came out of it. He got to his feet quickly, and glanced around. We were on the floor of an indoor amphitheatre. There was a table with people I felt sure were council members seated beatifically along its length. There were a few more on their feet; Clemens was standing a few paces from where I broke in. No one moved for far too long. I was armed and ready for a serious fight. When I started to move in on him, he bent down for half a heartbeat, then launched himself up toward the ceiling where a large open window waited as a portal to his freedom. I moved right behind him. He was curving upward in a slight arc, so I tried for a more linear approach, hoping to cut him off. The ceiling was high; it was going to take a long time to reach the opening. The seats in the ascending rows were full but still no one moved or seemed to react at all. I could see the space between us growing gradually smaller. I tried to calm my mind for the moment when I could cut him off. I could still feel his cold grasp on my arm, the strength behind it. When he was halfway up a commotion sounded from the floor, and continued upward in a massive wave through the others. I felt it rising along the walls as it passed me, and when it was even with Shugg, bodies began to hurl themselves from seats all around toward him. The small spark of hope I felt that he might be stopped was extinguished as he knocked them away one by one.

He met every attack without slowing in his climb. More and more attackers, some in armor, some barehanded threw themselves into the fight. It became difficult to follow him without dodging a slew of repelled fighters plummeting toward the ground. I watched him fight and started to feel lucky to be alive. He hit with blinding speed, and everyone he hit fell back. The numbers were still growing when I came within striking distance. I started batting them out of the way as the tumbled into my path. I primed myself for a lunge at him when I was grabbed from behind. Slender arms encircled me and fingers intertwined in front of me. They became fluid and cells began to divide and merge. There was soon only one solid arm pinning my arms to my sides and adamantly refusing to budge. Then we fell. We dropped in a fast plummet toward the ground. My captor was in complete control. I started to struggle, then checked myself. I thought it through, and found an easy way out of the hold. I could free myself at any time, but better not to tip my hand. A shower of bodies dropped around us as we fell. I saw the floor below littered with still and slowly moving figures and others helping them. We stopped sharply and settled easily on the floor.

A grim looking man in a long white robe looked on me with distain for a moment then motioned toward a door. We floated silently across the room and into a long white hallway. There were doors everywhere. We stopped suddenly at one, and it slid open. Once inside the door closed behind us and a break formed in the arm which shaped itself into hands. I turned and saw a decidedly feminine figure wearing a molded breastplate which shone with golden brilliance. There was a long spear strapped to her back and an ornate helmet which covered her eyes but left the rest of her face visible. She had a sword strapped to her belt, and she stood there like an immovable object. The room resembled a cell. There were rough hewn stones set against each other without mortar. Light seeped out through the cracks and filled the room comfortably. There was no furniture, so I sat in lotus position and floated up several feet. She didn’t appear amused.
"So am I in trouble?"
She kept quiet.
"Shouldn’t you disarm me? What if I try to escape?" I unlashed my sword from my back without touching it and propped it up against the wall behind me. She still didn’t look impressed. She did smile a little. Then her spear floated off of her back and buried half of it’s point into the floor in front of the door. I had the manners to appear properly impressed.
"Not necessary." She said coldly.
We waited for several moments, then the door came open and Urimaru stepped around the spear. "It’s time." He said. "Follow me."
I offered to let her go first, but she insisted that I lead the way. Urimaru spoke quickly and urgently to me as we walked. "They want some answers, and frankly so do I. I don’t know what to say. What you did today will be legend. You have the council’s full attention. Those who didn’t know of your existence before most certainly do now. You’ll have to show them everything if we go in there. If you want to run, now’s the time."
"No. I’m not running anywhere. I have some questions of my own. I don’t have anything to hide, and I don’t want to make any unnecessary enemies here." We stopped in front of a large set of double doors.
"Clemens is going to run the show. They know he sent you on the mission, so they’re deferring to his judgment for now. There are a lot of people who still don’t want you running loose, and most of them are in there. My advice is be completely straightforward and not at all flippant or sarcastic. They don’t respond well to either. I’ll be there too. They want me there for questioning as well. We’re in this together."
"I hope I’m not getting you into anything. I’ve been playing it by ear, and I might have gone too far a few times. If we need to get out, I’ll cover your exit."
"No!" He was suddenly very stern. "None of that. Don’t be at all apologetic. Don’t show any regret. I trained you to be sure of yourself, and you are. I’ve seen you make decisions. You’re always sure of yourself, and it pays off. Let them know it."

I knocked on the doors. They opened quietly, and we entered in front of my escort. The room was large and cubical. As we entered the dark walls and floors turned a pure white color which moved out to cover the room. There were close to three hundred people seated in orderly rows at the opposite end. We stopped in front of them where Clemens was waiting, resplendent in his white suit.
He motioned for Urimaru to wait to the side. He led me out into the center of the room. "Just relax and show me everything that happened. Start from the time you left our meeting." I nodded and he touched my face in three places with his hand. The room exploded into a replica of the museum where I started my search. I could feel every mind there as if they were my own mind. We were all in a perfect harmony of understanding. They could see the context and spirit with which I acted at every crux. A sharp ringing of thoughts and implications shuddered through the commune as they witnessed my breach between the worlds of life and death. I stiffened my resolve that what I did was right. I didn’t have all the facts, but I realized that Urimaru was right. I acted as I saw fit, and would never be sorry for it.

When the extraction was complete, it took several moments to pull ourselves out of the group consciousness. That was why they took so long to react when I appeared with Shugg. They meet in this harmony when they hold gatherings to make decisions so that there is no misunderstanding over personal bias or misinformation. Everything is laid bare, but it takes a while to come out of. Simply jerking away could do permanent damage. There was an angry commotion brewing as more and more came out of it. The general consensus seemed to be that I was reckless and dangerous. It was becoming clear that they wanted me to stick around. I looked at Urimaru. He passed me a thought, ‘ready when you are.’ Clemens was still standing there. "What’s happening?"
"They’re not happy. How are you feeling? Limber?"
"I’ve been on overdrive since I found Sharper. I could blast my way out of here if need be."
"Hold on." He said. "I’ll see if I can calm them down. If I flash you a signal, get out. I’ll meet up with you later."
He addressed the crowd as I moved over by Urimaru.
"So, it was you. You caused the breech. I expected to be surprised, but you’ve surpassed anything I ever imagined. You got lucky with Shugg. He underestimated you too."
"Did we stop him?" I quickly felt around for any sign of him.
"They stopped him, but he seriously wounded a lot of soldiers and council members. He’s imprisoned somewhere under the compound."

I felt a little relieved as I watched Clemens carefully. He was making a pretty strong case for me, pointing out the death of Sharper and the capture of Shugg. Many were still livid that I made the breech. It was supposed to be impossible, and they didn’t care for it one bit. Especially if they couldn’t control me. I wanted to speak for myself so I stepped forward.
"You might consider including me in this discussion." I said. "You’ve all seen what I’ve done. I’ve held back nothing. I am capable and willing, but I will not be ruled."
"That is for us to decide." The same grim looking man I saw in the amphitheatre stepped forward. "We have been doing this for far too long to let some child with too much power come along and disrupt our efforts. You are obviously capable. Urimaru has trained you as effectively as any soldier he has ever produced. I have no doubt of your abilities, but you have to be tempered with wisdom and experience or you will be a liability. We can’t afford any more mistakes. We’ve lost too much over you already."
"Don’t try to lay that on me." I snapped. "You’ve made your own mistakes. I won’t bear your crosses. I do want to help though. I am not unsympathetic to what has been done on my behalf. If you’ll let me I’ll work with you, but I will do so on my own terms. If this doesn’t work for you, I’ll be on my way."

There was a low murmur from the gathering. The man returned to his seat and they began to join together again. I looked at Urimaru. He just shrugged. I started to probe into their communion. I could see into it without joining in, but they didn’t seem to notice. They went back and forth with their deliberation. It started to irritate me that they were so presumptuous to think they could decide for me how I would serve. I deserved better than this. I delivered one of their most hated enemies into their hands. They should have at least thanked me for my troubles. They began to solidify in agreement. They weren’t about to let me out of their grasp. If I stayed any longer, they would collar me and lead me around on a short leash. It was time to leave.

Urimaru was reading my thoughts. I believe Clemens was too. They acted a fraction of a second before I did. Clemens put up a web across the room. It separated us from the council members, leaving us free to go for the doors. Urimaru was facing down the guards when I caught up with him. They were tough, but not nearly fast enough for the two of us. Together we might have a chance at escape. Outside the doors we hesitated to decide on a course of action. Clemens followed us and slammed the door behind him. He sealed it with a power I had never seen before. Then he told us to be very still. He put a holding web around both of us and carried us in suspension through the hallway in front of him. Guards took one look at him and thought nothing of it. He was obviously pretty influential, because we reached the exit without a single challenge. He led the way out and we left the council behind as we fled into exile.
© Brodie Parker - Begun May 10th 2004 -this Chapter 05-03-2005

Missed Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here

Chapter Four here
Chapter five here

Chapter Six here
Chapter Seven here
Chapter Eight here
Chapter Nine here
Chapter Ten here
Chapter Eleven here
Chapter Twelve here
Chapter Thirteen 6.04.05

I sold my soul to rock and roll right here at Hackwriters…
If you like Brodie's writing, tell him so, every writer needs feedback and nourisment Ed

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To be continued May 2005


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