by N.A Miller
Based on Picture prompt:
|The Cloud Kingdom of Benvosa:|
A lone castle hovered high in the clouds, above the desolate class M planet called Benvosa. It was here among the gray clouds, steaks of lightning and thunderclaps that the cloud city, made of glass and gold, hovers on the Benvosian-made Cloud, a man-made structure supported by suspensor fields and retro-jets underneath of it. The city itself was home to King Minos and Lady Guinevere, the most ruthless king and queen to ever be seated on the thrones of the Cloud City, to rule over this planet.
This planet was also the only source of the mineral Denjan, a mineral for life support systems across the Empire, and there no other place for it to be found in the Empire. It was also a planet and race of people divided by two classes who are not allowed to mingle. One was the worker class, who are forced to live on the barbaric conditions of the planet, with very little technology to assist them to mine the mineral from the mines. The other class was the Cloud Class, the administrators and rulers of the planet, high in technology, art, and literature. They live like gods over the planet, with slaves as servants and away from the harsh conditions of the planet far below.
As King Minos and Queen Guinevere sat on the thrones in the audience chambers on the Cloud City, both sit there deep in thought as they listen to the harp notes from their youngest daughter, Sophia’s harp. The King was currently deep in thought about the reports he has just received, about a rebellion has begun. Five planets have revolted from his Empire with the rebels and a fleet now cruises through the universe, inciting others to revolt against him and his Empire. What they call Tyranny and wrong doing among the people. He also thought of Benvosa, the planet below, the planet where the miners currently are also striking and revolting, threatening to join the rebellion if their demands are not met.
“All they are demanding was better pay, better work conditions, and more technology for the people.” The King thought, “And also economic equality among the classes. That was totally preposterous. I shall crush them instead with my forces instead of negotiating with them.”
King Minos hatched a plan on how to destroy and quell this little rebellion, bringing the planets back in line, or destroy them.
As he sat in his throne, he also looked up at the arch nearby where two men walked through it, clad in a blue, light blue uniform with yellow bars on their shoulders. He recognized them as his Admirals that he had summoned a few minutes ago from the space station where the part of the fleet now was docked. King Minos also saw two other men, one clad in a dark green and black uniform, sporting golden body armor and the other a grayish uniform trimmed in black, walk in to shake hands with the Admirals. They were the Generals of his armies who he would be sending his troops to those planets to retake them and put them back into line. It also includes the planet far below them, which had stopped working, like the revolting worlds, demanding better pay, better working conditions and more technology to better mine the mineral they were supposed to be mining.
“What I will do is utilize my forces and take each planet with a legion per invasion and hold the planet.” The King thought, “The rebellion will fail and cut short securing our great empire for the times to come.”
“Admiral Connors! Admiral Desmond!” The King thundered, “General McNeil! General Richter!” The King motioned for them to approach.
Sophia looked up at the names were spoken by her father, and as the men appeared from the arch. They are men she was familiar with from her youth, having grown up to know them all her life, and seeing them often in the castle as they met often with her father.
“…We have word off the rebellion you speak of majesty.” Conners said formally, as he bowed, “Per your orders, the Fleet was powering up and being supplied as we speak to crush the rebellion in one massive volley as they gather at the Ragoon Cluster.”
“Excellent.” Her father replied greedily, “What about the planets that were taken by the rebels?”
“I will attack each colony planet with a legion of troops to guarantee success.” McNeil reported, “They are standing by.”
“I want nothing living on any of those worlds.” The king ordered, “Eliminate every stinking rebel you find.”
“It shall be done, majesty.” Desmond replied.
“I also have three other legions ready for action for an assault on the other planets that revolted, including Benvosa, Majesty.” McNeil reported, “The workers have stopped working, and the council has been ineffective to motivate them to get back to work. The plan was to eliminate them and take direct control.”
Sophia gasped as she listened to the conversation, casually running her hand across the strings for a ripple of notes on her harp. She played a simple melody to cover her eavesdropping with a sinking feeling, hearing the conversation at hand and realized she had to warn her lover on the planet, Larsis Fulcrim. He was the son of the head councilman who governs the mines on the planet. Sophia had met him and fallen instantly in love with him when she met him on the Cloud planet during his last tour in the army to defend the city with her father’s forces. The had been allowed to be alone for a few moments, and had managed to chat with each other. Both instantly realized they had a lot in common, thanks to a trading ship that Larsis had served on board in the Merchant Fleet of Benvosa where he had been educated in many things.
She knew him well, as their relationship grew, and knew he had sided with the rebels who had started the revolt. All he was doing right now was waited for the ships to arrive at Benvosa, to reinforce their own revolt on the planet below and to push their own demands in the mines. They wanted better working conditions, better hours, better pay, and more safety. He also wanted to marry Sophia and make her his wife.
“And my father is not going to give in.” She thought, “He will kill them all before seeing to their demands, and kill my lover if he finds out we have been together a while.” Sophia thought, realizing that she must go to him on the planet.
“I must see him and warn him that they are going to kill everyone on the planet, and seize direct control of the mine.” Sophia thought, “But it will be impossible with the talk of rebellion, and the added guards in the castle against terrorist suicide bombers who may attack the castle.”
She continued to play, looking up as her middle sister, named Serena, entered through the nearby arch of the audience chamber. Her older sister frowned at the smile of her younger sister, as-if sensing her plan to leave the castle tonight and go to the planet.
Serena never liked Sophia when they were young and detested her now despite she was her true blood sister. Serena suspected something amiss with her sister, but at this point in time, she could not prove anything to their father and mother. She suspected she was involved with the rebellion that the Empire was undertaking in its ranks. Sophia wondered if her middle sister had intercepted any of the love letters from Larsis that would actually confirm her involvement. But right now, it was only suspect, and rumor by others in the Cloud City.
“I will find out what you are so happy about, and take you down, you evil little bitch.” Serena muttered. Her eyes flashed brightly as she stepped further into the audience chamber.
“I wonder if Serena knows about my relationship about Larsis.” Sophia thought to herself, “She does have a moderate degree of psychic ability.” The young princess nodded to her frowning sister as the young woman, clad in the same pastel pink, blue and purple robes, stepped further into the audience chamber.
“Greetings, Father…“ Serena said formally, glancing at the round face, blond hair, blue eyes and medium build of her youthful sister who took after their mother, the Queen. Serena, however did not look like Sophia at all, she looked more like her father, with long black hair, dark eyes, an olive complexion and a muscular figure under the robes she wore around her. Her personality was not fun loving like her sister. It was cold, formal, driven and accurate like a cold machine.
“My daughter…” Minos thundered, “Please approach.”
The King motioned to his middle daughter to approach and Serena, with her gown swishing over the narrow muscular figure, did so quickly. Serena bowed to her father.
“I came at you summons, father.” She told him, and yet stood a respectful distance from him. The King motioned to the military staff standing around him.
“I am in conference, my daughter.” He said, “There was a rebellion in the Empire, and I charge you of looking after your sister. Don’t let anything happen to her. If something happens and the rebellion succeeds, and the rebels seize control, the rebels could use her as a target to get to me. We will not negotiate with the rebel scum. Don’t allow your sister to be used as bait or as a bartering chip. You are fully responsible for her actions if something happens to her.”
“I understand father.” Serena replied, and she nodded to the military men next to him who were smiling at her.
“Good day to you gentleman,” She said formally, “May you have fortune on your next mission that was coming up.”
“Thank you, my Princess.” Admiral Conners replied, and the others murmured their thanks. Turning, she walked toward Sophia, who still sat playing her harp in the alcove adjacent to the audience chamber. Sophia, despite everything she learned about this plot against her lover, remained cool. A lover she would not let die, if she had her way.
“You are playing very well. Good job, Sis.” Serena complimented, “You will make someone a good wife, and companion someday.” Sophia grimaced as she set down the harp and rose from the chair, a frown on her face.
“I tend to excel, my sister.” Sophia said, “Please excuse me, one moment, I must rest.” She had made an excuse to leave the room, and immediately went to her chambers and took out her electronic journal, putting in an entry.
That night, the young princess stealthily made her way through the castle hallways from her stateroom, through the archways, down the sprawling circular staircase into the grand hall. The hall was open and airy with many plush furnishings. Three archways lead off in three different directions. One leads to the audience chamber for the King and Queen’s throne. Another leads to a stately dining room with a long wooden table and many chairs. The third leads off to another hallway connecting a Kitchen, Library, Study, several alcoves, and other chambers in the castle that are not importantly used by the royal family. Sophia used the hallway and stealthily made her way toward a far arch leading to the white stone pedestal where the transportation device was located. There she transported herself down to the surface of the planet, unseen by the guards who made their rounds every few minutes.
Somewhere deep in the mines, Larsis, Sophia’s lover worked in the mineshaft with his men as they cut a tunnel through toward a rich deposit of Denjan. He held the cutter, his men using sweepers, and automatic dump machines to remove the earth as they moved slowly forward.
“Be careful with that timber!” Larsis shouted, as his men raised up a synthetic timber that was used to shore up the sides and roof of mineshaft. There was a solid thump as it was pounded in twice. The young man was the son of the chief council and his father was the leader of the miner’s union in the mines. He was stocky, well built, with long red hair, a long red beard, gray eyes, a muscular body, with powerful arms, and legs. He was clad in a leather tunic, leather pants that are both trimmed in fur.
“Dneb, we need more timbers, I want to cut another twenty feet. The sensor probe says the deposit was close,” Larsis instructed and the grizzled short, dwarf-like man next to him looked over to nod his head before turning to grab a huge timber with another miner and they hauled it further into the gloom off the shaft. A moment later, however, there was a hiss and a rumble and everyone turned as a funnel of dirt poured from an open part of the ceiling of the mine before stopping.
“Shore up that ceiling!” Dirken, the lead miner shouted, grabbing he stabilizer unit and he ran toward the funnel of dirt and dust that poured from the ceiling. He aimed the unit and pulled the trigger, making it hum. But it was too late as silt and dirt began to trickle down faster, and a rumble sounded loudly throughout the tunnel. Larsis turned in alarm when he heard the sound, and knew immediately they were in trouble.
“Watch out! It’s a cave in!” He shouted, as he pulled two of his men clear as timbers splintered like twigs. The parts flew out to strike two of his men who were nearby, piercing them in the sides. When it was all over Larsis was on his feet immediately with the six able men who had been working forward in this shaft with him.
“Arlight! Alright! It’s just a cave-in. Get that cutter over here and start digging us out of here, before our oxygen runs out!” Larsis ordered, and men immediately stared to work. He turned to Dirken, who held the medical kit and knelt over the two injured miners who lay on the dirt floor of the mineshaft.
“How bad are they?” He asked, and Dirken shook his head slightly, a pensive expression on his face.
“Pij was pieced in his shoulder by a piece of timber, and his leg was broken.” Dirken reported, “Norin has a concussion from a piece of timber striking his helmet. I am making them comfortable.”
“Okay. When you finish, please pitch in. We need all hands to dig us out, to cut through for oxygen to this part of the passage or we’re not going to make it out of here.” Larsis said solemnly, and Dirken nodded. The men continued to work, but every time they seemed to clear the boulders and dirt, that it seemed to cave in again, filling in the gap.
“It’s no good, there is a spring here, and the sand is unstable.” A miner complained, as he continued digging at the cave-in that covered the tunnel, trapping them in this new section of the mine they had been building in the first place.
“Keep trying.” Larsis ordered, “Don’t give up.”
On the outside of the cave-in, Lars, Larsis’ father, moved like lightning, even though he was sixty-three Earth-Years of age, working feverishly with the men as they cut from their end toward his son and his men who are trapped.
“It’s no good Lars.” Kayman told him formally, swinging the manual pickaxe, “Every time we seem to make headway it fills the chamber again. There seems to be a spring here, and unsettled sand.”
“Try to clear the top if you can.” Lars instructed. ”We’ll try to feed a suspensor field generator through to hold back the sand.”
“Aye, we’ll try that.”
Just as the men worked, however, that behind them, Princess Sophia sauntered into the tunnel. She was clad in the familiar pastel pink, blue, and purple dress that she wore around her. Around her neck, she wore a matching cape. At first, she was not noticed as she entered the main tunnel by any of the miners who worked feverishly to clear the cave-in, trapping Larsis and a few of his men behind it. Sophia watched as the men worked rapidly on the caved in passage, but when men finally turned, they gasped, bowing formally to her. The Princess did not say anything, leaving the miners to their work. She understood they needed to focus on the task at hand, giving what they were doing their full attention. Lar’s turned his head in astonishment when he sensed the Princess. He knelt before her.
“Princess! I didn’t know you were here.” The old man said formally.
“Where is Larsis?” She asked, with mock impatience, “I need to speak with him, right away.”
“He was there, Princess.” A miner said, pointing at the cave-in and she let out a gasp of alarm.
“I-is he alright? Is he alive?” She demanded, a look of fear appearing on her face, accompanied with an eyeful of tears. Lars stepped forward purposely.
“We don’t know, my lady.” Lars replied formally, “We are digging to him, but meeting with resistance with continued cave-ins. We might have to use a suspensor charge to keep the soil back to get them out. It will hold only three minutes and that is not long enough to get them out if they are wounded. Fear not, my Princess, we are doing everything we can.”
The miners behind him kept digging, and there was a yelp of frustration as the ceiling fell in again, the suspensor field barely holding the soil of the ceiling of the tunnel. Lars grimaced as he heard the hiss off the soil, as it collapsed down onto the suspensor field and partially filling the tunnel they were trying to clear. Lars could feel the frustration of the men, their frustration for getting nowhere fast with their efforts but Lars kept at them, keeping them motivated to continue to dig.
“I managed to get an area clear, Lars!” A miner said with a whoop, and he moved toward the area cleared.
“Larsis! Can you hear me?” Lars shouted.
“Yes father, do you and the other miners have the passage clear?” Larsis asked.
“Not yet, we might have to use a suspensor charge to clear it. Clear everyone out the way and any wounded to the back of the tunnel when it goes off you have three minutes to get the hell out of there.” Lars replied, “We’re setting the charge now.”
Larsis turned to the miners with him, and he motioned to the end of the passage with his hand, “Everyone back, they’re going to blow it and clear he passage.”
There was a shout by the other men, as wounded was cleared from the blast zone, and there was an explosion as the tunnel flashed and an explosion cleared the passage of the caved in soil. Larsis and the others were on their feet in no-time, and charging through the opening. Other miners collected the mining equipment and joined them just in the nick of time. There was a rumble and a hiss as soil broke loose like a shower, as loose earth, sand, rock and shale proceeded to fill the passage. The Princess ran to embrace her lover warmly, who was astonished that she was here.
“Sophia! What are you doing here my love?” He asked, “Did you come here alone?”
“I am here to warn you Larsis, my love.” She told him, “There was an evil plot afoot by my father, and his military staff against the rebellion. You need to take a careful step when it comes to this rebellion.” With that, Sophia explained the sinister plot between the King, his Generals and Admirals, against the rebellion and the miners of Benvosa. She explained how the King was going to seize control directly, eliminating everyone living. Lars listened with placid interest with his son.
“Just like his majesty to resort to underhanded, uncivilized ways for control of the mines.” Lars said, with a snarl “I will report it to the council at once!” He stood up, after helping mop up the passage cave-in, by stabilizing the passage and ran from it into the main one nearby. A moment later, he ran panting into the council chambers where the other elders sat in council of the miners who lived and worked here in the mines.
“I bring bad news of a plot against the miners!” Lars shouted, “The King and Queen have plotted to eliminate us on the planet for our refusal to work, and are not going to honor our demands for better conditions, pay and safety to work. Also, they are planning a sneak attack on the rebel fleet at Solace. We must warn the fleet at once, and prepare for an attack of three legions strength in the mines!”
A low murmur of disbelief echoed through the council chamber, and Lars took his seat. The Council sat down to act, preparing for war, in which they would have to fight for the right to live and be free rather than be under a tyrant’s rule.
Back on the Cloud City, Serena walked through the corridors at night with a party of loyal elite troopers who guard the city. As she approached the room of her younger sister, Sophia, she could see the bed was empty, and the bed made. It had confirmed her suspicion he had when she was playing in the alcove in the audience chamber. Serena had a grimace on her face, as she tried to control her rage, remembering that the military had been with the King during that time too. They had been talking with the King about the rebellion that had been moving through the Empire and heading toward Benvosa, growing in strength as it did so. It would only be a matter of time before the rebel fleet would reach them in this system, disrupting and attacking this planet, trying to assassinate her father. A time and place she would have to fight to stop them in their tracks. Serena knew Sophia had heard the plans of the military brief, and also knew that she would probably try to run off and join the rebellion.
Serena was not amused by her missing sister, a frown on her almost stone-like, olive completive features. Her dark eyes scanned the bedroom of her sister carefully, looking for a clue that would tell her where she had gone, so she could recover her before their mother and father found out. Serena did not want the full weight of responsibility for Sophia coming down right on her neck, as she was put in charge of her well-being, since their older sister Mio was married now and now a queen who ruled with a youthful King in a far off galaxy.
“When I get my hands on her, she was in big trouble. Not by my father, but by me.” Serena vowed, “It is my neck that was on the block here if mother and father find out. They put me in charge of looking after Sophia, after all.”
Sophia’s middle-sister panned a long sweeping gaze about the room several times, looking for a clue that would tell her where she had gone. Blinking her eyes in the darkness, she saw an odd piece of paper folded, and stuck between two books in the bookshelf. Pulling it out, she unfolded it, and she read it.
Serena’s first reaction reading the letter was to blush a bright red, as she read it. She quickly realized that she was reading a love letter written to her sister, but it was completely anonymous. The letter’s writing and script was stilted and written in a strong hand. Serena grimaced as she read it multiple times. The first impression of Sophia’s sister was jealousy, never knowing of a secret admirer she was involved with. The other emotion she had was curiosity, longing to know who this admirer was. Sophia’s sister wanted to know who this was and where her she had gone to. Scanning the bookshelf again, and flipping through more of her books she found five more letters like this one, all with the familiar stilted calligraphy.
“So… she has a lover, now we need to know who, and a break to know where to find her.” Serena told herself, shaking her head as she read the romantic words of another letter.
“Did you find something majesty?” A guard asked, and Serena turned quickly. “Fetch me the scribe, Albright!”
“As you command, and wish, my Princess.” The guard replied and disappeared through the nearby arch. Waiting a few minutes, the guard quickly returned with the scribe Albright. As the old man walked with the cane beside the guard, he was clad in a golden robe, his black hair mussed, and his gray beard uncombed. His dark eyes are red and bloodshot from the lack of sleep after being up for many hours from the previous night. The old man stared quietly at the Princess as she thrust the paper impatiently at him, without even greeting him.
“I need to know who this person was, and where my sister might have gone.” Serena demanded, “She is missing.”
“Have you risen up the alarm, Princess?” He asked, and Serena shook her head.
“And totally bear the full weight of responsibility of the King and Queen upon my shoulders to look after my sister. Showing them both that I failed miserably at this task?” She replied sarcastically, “No, I have not.”
He scanned the letter in silence, staring at the stilted calligraphy that it was written in. Albright narrowed his eyes carefully, as he read the words of the letter in silence, astonished by the content. The old man also realized that it was a love letter that he was reading, addressed to the young Princess. He thought for a moment, as he examined it, and the letters. The writing suddenly reminded him of the calligraphy of a councilman on the planet’s surface in the mines. He was the miner who reported weekly, the quota of their shipments of the mineral to the Cloud City, and other destinations in the Empire.
“I have a fair idea, my Princess.” Albright said suddenly, “It resembles maybe, the calligraphy the son of the mining councilman on the planet surface of Benvosa. If I were you, I would start there, to hunt for her.” He said formally.
“Awaken the guards and break out the sand speeders.” Serena ordered, “My thanks, Scribe Albright.”
“You are welcome, Princess.” He said with a yawn.
An hour later, the sand speeders with twenty-four elite soldiers of the Cloud City sped across the sands of Benvosa. They rocketed toward their first destination of Charhock, the main city located on the planet.
The hunt was on for Sophia by the middle sister, and the elimination of the rebellion was on its way by the King of the Cloud city of Benvosa. It would be payback by the Empire, to bring the revolted planets back into line, after a short lived rebellion that cut them away from Tyranny toward Freedom. A freedom that would be short lived by its people.
The sand speeders continued on their way, they searched each settlement with no luck, and were directed toward the main mines outside the main settlement of Charhock. They stormed the mines in force, all twenty-four men, led by the beautiful Princess Serena herself. They soon broke into the council chamber located in the mine where the mining council sat in session.
As the soldiers took up positions at the exits there was a gasp by the council as they slowly stood up, as the Princess walked toward the center of the chamber, brandishing a weapon in her hands.
“Where was my sister?” She rasped, holding the weapon even and aimed at the council, “She is missing, and I have overwhelming evidence that Sophia, is with a traitor of your council in the mineshaft.”
“First, May I bid you greeting, my Princess.” Lar said openly, bowing wide and low to the young woman and the soldiers at her side.
“Save it, traitor.” Serena snapped, leveling the weapon at the council. The old man stood silently behind the table, and he thought a moment of what he was being asked. He suddenly realized the consequences that he now faced, if he did not respond correctly to the royal tribunal of questions.
“She is not here, Princess.” He replied, “If she was here, she would be with my son, who loves her.”
“Blasphemy!” The Princess shouted, “Say you are lying, or be instantly killed for such things.”
“I don’t know where they are, my Princess.” Lars said, “If they are anywhere, they are probably in the mine somewhere.”
“Guards, fan out and search the mines.” She instructed, pointing to the door to the tunnel.
“There are over fifty levels to this mine, my Princess.” Ferris, the leader of the guards said, and she turned her head to glare at him.
“Go level by level then, and passage by passage.” She said, “Until you find him.”
“What do we do about the council here, Princess?” Ferris asked and she turned to face them, leveling the weapon in her arms at them.
“They are hereby accused of treason, and are traitors to the crown.” She said, “My father has dissolved this council, and they are to be eliminated as a ruling body.”
Lars and the others gasped as they stared at her. Serena pulled the trigger of the automatic weapon and shots rang out. Screams echoed the chamber, as the shots struck the council, and they fell behind the table mortally wounded. Princess Serena walked behind the circular table in the council chamber and a single shot rang out as she finished any of the council who was living, lying merely wounded on the floor. When the deed was finished, she walked back to the center of the room to the guards.
“Let’s start our search.” She ordered.
Serena pointed at two soldiers. “You two, go to the eastern section of the next level of the mine.” She pointed at two more soldiers, “You two go to the southern section of the mine.” She pointed at two more soldiers. “You two, head for the western section.” Finally she pointed at the last two, “And you two search the northern section of the mine. When complete on the search, meet at the elevator for the next level.”
“By your command, my Princess.” The soldiers said formally, and they departed into the gloom of the tunnels. They headed to the main shaft and the elevator, heading to the next level to begin their search. Two soldiers stood guarding the Princess and Ferris, the Captain of the Guard, who oversees the group back at the council chambers.
“We are going to need more forces to properly search the mineshaft, Princess Serena.” Ferris told her, as he bowed formally. “I have a radio here with us, to contact your father’s forces to report in and request those reinforcements.”
“Excellent.” Serena replied, and she walked with the Captain of the guard to the makeshift radio area across the Council Chamber in the mineshaft.
Down below them on the next level: The soldiers, in pairs, searched the mineshaft as they checked every passage, every nook and every alcove for Larsis and Princess Sophia with little success. They ran across miners who fled, surrendered, or the soldiers shot with their weapons, per the directive of the King. The same ruling that was passed to them via the Princess who had brought them in force to the mineshaft.
Back on the Cloud city, King Minos stood outside the bedrooms of his daughters with a General of his Army, and soldiers, as he glared at the empty beds where they should have been sleeping at his hour of the morning. As he stood outside of the rooms, the King was furious for the interruption to his sleep, even more so that both his daughters are missing from the city. He glared at the room in silence, muttering under his breath.
“Search the entire castle for them!” Minos’ voice boomed, as he walked, dressed in his silk suit, covered by a golden armor that creaked as he walked. The guards scoured the castle and returned only a short time, over fifty guards had searching the castle in a period less than a half hour to find nothing, or any sign of the two Princesses.
“We have searched the castle, sire and they are nowhere to be found!” A Major exclaimed, running toward the King and the General.
“I want three Legions of forces at Charhok at once!” King Minos said, “Their orders are to secure the mine and eliminate the traitors at the mine and find my daughters.”
“By your command, Majesty.” The General said, shouting orders and a few minutes later an army of Sand Speeders, Landing Crafts, Tanks, and Ground Transports all converged on the city and the mineshaft. The city was put under martial law as the forces secured the city in force and a platoon secured the first level off the mine.
The soldiers charged into the empty council chamber, stained in blood, and heavy with the smell off death. They stopped cold at the sight of Serena, who sat at the desk of the dead council members who once sat in the chamber, with the two guards posted at the two entrances. The Captain of the Guard sat next to her and both looked up when the soldiers burst into the chamber. Serena stood up as her father himself, walked in behind the soldiers.
“Father!” Serena shouted, as she stood staring in surprise at his frowning face. She rushed toward him, only to be stopped by the guards at gunpoint.
“Peace.” Minos said, and he motioned with his hand and the guards lowered their weapons.
“Serena, my daughter.” Minos replied, “I was worried, why have you come to Charhok and to the mines? Coming here without word to me and your mother?”
“I came to find Sophia, father, she is here in the mines.” Serena said, “The traitorous council has been neutralized, trying to hide them in the mines, sire. She is here, I know she is.”
“I know what you know, my daughter.” He replied gently, “You need not come here looking on your own. We would have come if you would have given us the word.”
“I didn’t want to be held responsible for Sophia…”
“I know of your responsibility.”
“I have soldiers searching for them, father.” Serena said, “So far, we have found nothing.”
“Excellent.” Minos said, “All miners will be eliminated as well and automation will be put into place, if they choose to uphold the rebellion.”
“Send three platoons to assist Serena’s men.” Minos ordered and the Generals bowed.
“By your Command, Majesty.” The Generals replied, and gave orders making men run to the lifts and to the exits leading to the mines. They would assist Serena’s men, to go level by level searching for Larsis and Sophia.
Meanwhile, Larsis and Sophia lay in a bed deep in a chamber, deep in the maze of passages that make up the mine. As they finished making love, Larsis was unaware that his father has been killed with the council by Serena and the soldiers of the Cloud City. He was expecting a call from his father soon. As he rolled off his lover, the young miner kissed her, snuggling beside her in the warm comforter in the makeshift bedroom they have in the living quarters in the mine.
“I love you, Sophia my Princess.” Larsis told her, “Always and forever.”
“As I you, my dear love.” She replied, “So you have decided to still go ahead and join the rebellion, to fight for better working conditions in the mines, and better pay?”
“Yes, my Princess.” He replied, “It was the only way, for the sake of the men, and for their safety.”
“My father should be calling down soon with news, if it was clear.” Larsis said formally, “If it was, we can make plans and hop a transport off the planet and escape to a far off world to be married and start our life together.”
“I’d like that my love.” Sophia replied, smiling broadly, leaning over to kiss her lover gently on the lips.
There was a clearing of the throat and Larsis looked over at the entry of the cavern in which one of his men stood.
“Yes Hirskin.” Larsis said, greeting him warmly.
“I bring bad news, Lord Larsis.” He said, “I came from the Chapel area, managing to escape with my life, but there are many soldiers from the Cloud city there, having taken the mine. The Council has been killed by the soldiers as traitors against the crown in response for not disclosing your location in the mine.”
“What!” Larsis exclaimed, “Are you certain?”
“Oh… my… God…” Sophia exclaimed, closing her eyes in horror, “Who executed them, my father?”
“No, my Lady, it was your older sister, Princess Serena.” He said.
“What a bitch.” Sophia said, “She always was on the side of my father, and against anything to do with my mother.”
“How do you know, Hirskin.” Larsis said, “I just find it hard to believe the council would get killed like that, and so easily.”
“I was forced to haul the bodies to the surface to the incinerators, Lord.” He said, “Your father was among them.”
“That finalizes my decision about the rebellion then.” Larsis said, an edge of hate creeping in his voice, “When they arrive, we will side with them and join forces and contact their forces first thing. We will kill the King’s forces and your sister, to avenge my father.”
“I will help you my love, with all the power I have and support I shall give you.” Sophia said, making Larsis smile.
“I know, my love, and with my thanks,” He replied, and he gritted his teeth, motioning to the guards and the miner.
“Pass the word to all miners, to meet down in the sanctuary and do not lead the enemy forces to us. We have to plan our strikes and or strategy to strike back against the Empire. It was time, and we now battle for our lives in a war that we must fight.”
“Yes Lord.” Hirskin replied, as he bowed and disappeared into the gloom, to pass the message to the others.
War was about to begin and the contest between the planet dwellers, and the Cloud City forces. But they also had to wait too, before they could attack, for the rebel forces to arrive to join up and double their strength. The rebels had already taken many worlds in the Empire and had started the crack in the tyranny of the King. With the help of Larsis’ Forces they would take Benvosa, and the Cloud City where they would crown a new King. Death to King Minos and Long Live the Rebels.