asher63 (asher63) wrote,

The Shadow of the Past

The Queen's Courtesan -
our story so far

Chapter 40 - The shadow of the past.

Somewhere in a small club in a corner of the colony on Planet 138, two old cops are sipping kala.

"Chief," Inspector Shihar is saying, "you know that accident we were talking about before - the one that killed a woman on a construction crew a few years ago?"

"Mhmmm...?" the Chief responds warily.

"What ever happened to the book?"

"Book? What book?" Garris' expression is one of studied innocence.

"Yeah. That one."

"The book that doesn't exist." Chief Garris looks off into the distance.

* * *

In a driverless autocar in the city of Dharfid on the planet Shakti, two men from earth ride silently in the company of four Gilkesh officials. They're scheduled to attend a very important meeting with Queen Kathris, but they have the indefinable yet unmistakable feeling that they are being placed under arrest. Both men are nervous; one of them is very nervous.

* * *

On a rooftop garden somewhere in the reaches of the Palace itself, the other Queen looks up at the stars and then down at the city. Somewhere out there in the city, there's a girl. Amira knows she must stop. But she cannot stop.

And that's when her wrist communicator chimes.

* * *

Kathris paces the floor of the great hall, a fire burning in her breast. Strange things have been happening in outer space - and strange things have been happening in the Palace too. She refuses to listen to the lies of some petty official ... but there are things she can't explain. Too many things left unresolved, and too many questions left unanswered, since the Unification - and since her marriage to her former adversary, the passionate but shrewd Queen Amira.

From time to time, it has occurred to her that there may be more to Amira than meets the eye.

The thought occurs to her again.

* * *

In still another part of the city, Atubis meets the autocar at the hotel entrance, steps into the empty vehicle, and names her destination. She's focused now, practicing the breathing and mind control techniques she learned on her homeworld of Darkhaven. Not in the Temple, but in that other place, in that earlier time. A place on Darkhaven hundreds of miles from the Temple - miles that might as well have been light years. A place called Kor Ethrim.

Atubis touches her shoulder bag to make sure she has all the things she needs. She knows she ought to be carrying a sidearm - an antimatter blaster or at least a laser pistol - for what lies ahead.

But she's always preferred knives.

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