by DJ

Chapter 13

It took five sturdy medics to hold D'vork back and prevent him from charging like a mad bull into the operating theatre; the angry bear in him coming to the fore. Inmahn had anticipated this reaction and already had a syringe full of tranquiliser in the pocket of his operating gown. While D'vork roared his anguish to the world in the grip of the medics, Inmahn jabbed the needle straight through the materiel of D'vork's uniform sleeve and rammed the plunger home. Not being a strong dose, it calmed the Captain down enough for the medics to drag him to a chair and sit him down. After a few minutes, Inmahn waved the medics away and sat down beside his captain who sat slumped forward with his head in his hands once more. Inmahn placed a comforting arm round D'vork's massive shoulders and shook him gently. "If only you had waited till I finished what I was going to say, you would have saved yourself a lot of grief. Perhaps I chose the wrong words but what I tried to tell you was that we couldn't save his arm."

D'vork shot up straight and grabbed Inmahn by the shoulders. "He's not dead? Tell me he's alive."

"Yes, he's alive, but only just." Inmahn managed to break D'vork's grip before his bones broke, blessing the fact that an android's bones were a lot tougher than a human's. It still hurt though, and Inmahn knew he would have to have a dose of repair therapy to combat the bruising of the covering flesh which was much the same as in a human. "Replacing the limb will not be a problem, but we have a much greater challenge on our hands. We were able to remove the Towdak toxin from your body by the decontamination process, as it only touched your skin. In Tadik's case, the toxin entered his body via his injuries and will be more difficult to eradicate. His immune system is still recovering from his experience in the exhaust tower. If he survives we can have a prosthetic component made to replace the missing limb, or we can use the new technique now available and grow a new limb from his own stem cells although that will take a lot longer than merely growing skin to replace that lost in the exhaust tower."

D'vork lifted his head to look at him, tears still on his cheeks. "If he survives; what do you mean exactly?"

Inmahn sat quietly, while he put his brain into data search mode, skimming through his data banks for all available information on the effects and consequences of Towdak toxin poisoning on an already damaged immune system. He sighed as he summarised his findings. "I will be honest, D'vork. It doesn't look good at all. Tadik is still recovering from exhaust poisoning and I was confident enough to say he would be completely cured by the time we reached Quastor. Now this new poison has, as humans of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries would have said, thrown a spanner in the works. One poison on top of another has caused an adverse reaction which his damaged immune system can't cope with without a lot of care and attention. On Earth, way back before it was eradicated, the humans were plagued with a disease of a cancerous nature called Leukaemia, one of the symptoms of which was the increase in white blood cells while the red ones decreased in comparison. I have had his blood monitored ever since the exhaust tower incident and I believe that Tadik now has a form of this disease brought on by the first of the poisons and now aggravated by this second dose. The best we can hope for is to keep him alive till we reach Quastor."

With a deep sigh, D'vork rose to his feet, straightened his tunic and stared at the door to the operating theatre. "Can I see him?"

"Just for a few minutes." Inmahn rose to stand beside him. "He's still in recovery and someone will come out and tell you as soon as they can move him into a surgical bay, although he won't be awake for some time. Why don't you go and command your ship? I'll call you as soon as he's fit to have visitors."

D'vork shook his head and sat down again, his features suddenly showing the strain of worry. "I've been booted off my own bridge. U'lac is commanding the ship. My men seem to think I'm incapable."

Inmahn nodded, feeling partly in agreement with U'lac. "Perhaps they have a point." A movement in the direction of the theatre door caught his eye. A medic had popped his head out and signalled to him. "Wait here, Captain. I may have some news for you."

He hurried to the medic and the man whispered, "He's waking up."

Inmahn stared at him in surprise. "So soon! Are you sure?" He stepped past the medic and found other medics gathered round a gurney just outside the theatre proper.

When Inmahn did not return immediately, D'vork began to worry; sure that something was wrong. After ten frustrating minutes, he could not stand the suspense anymore and sprang to his feet. Intending to charge the theatre door and thrust his way through, he almost reached it when a quiet voice of authority brought him to a halt. He turned to face the intruder and found Plumser Otrall entering the waiting bay. He was dressed in the rich vestments of his ambassadorial post, and from the several guards and assistants surrounding him; D'vork knew this was not a social visit to enquire after Tadik. Quastorians were noted for their aloof manner and their lack of compassion, but D'vork saw something in the ambassador's eyes that told of a heavy burden being carried by this famous diplomat.

Otrall waved his companions back and said no more till they had left the bay and only one guard remained to shut the door and take up a position in front of it; his mighty sword held across his chest. Otrall turned back to face D'vork. "Captain, I have something important to tell you, and I hope you will allow me a little of your precious time." D'vork nodded but did not offer a seat to the ambassador. Otrall took no offence and reached into his robes to bring out an electronic pad which he held out to D'vork. On the front of it was imprinted the seal of the Quastorian secret service and beside it that of the Terran Interplanetary High Command. igh #

commandCNow D'vork really knew something was amiss. Otrall indicated that they move to the far corner of the bay where Otrall leaned forward and spoke softly into D'vork's left ear.

"For ten years I have been on a secret mission for the Terran and Quastorian planets. In that pad is my brief from both planets, giving me total authority to commandeer any ship or personnel to aid me in my mission. This mission also includes the search for Tadikon Versont." He handed D'vork the pad and the captain scanned the data, written in code which required D'vork's own personal security code to be inserted. Once the pad acknowledged D'vork's code, he was shocked at the list of names that had authorised the document, including his own commander in chief. He looked up in surprise and found Otrall waiting for his reaction. He just nodded and handed the pad back to the Quastorian.

Otrall drew him further into the corner and while they stood too close for D'vork's liking, Otrall whispered. "Eighteen years ago Tadikon Versont came on a mission to our galaxy and landed on an as yet un-named planet. You remember the story of how a rogue planet appeared on our outer limits and it was named Seeker. A huge meteor had struck it a glancing blow and sent it out of its own orbit and it drifted till it came under the magnetic influence of our own star."

D'vork nodded. "I remember the story. Wasn't it found to be inhabited by humanoid creatures with a greater intelligence and scientific capacity than ours?"

"Is that all you know of it?"

"We were busy strengthening our ties with Earth at that time; we left it to you pioneers to investigate the new planet."

"And we were honoured to do it on behalf of both our planets, Captain. We joined Versont on his mission and were introduced to its ruler, a female of great beauty who fell in love with Versont and bore him twin sons of such incredible gifts that if they were in the same room, they produced vast amounts of electrical energy. No one could go near them. When they were three months old, it was decided to separate them for their own safety. Versont agreed to help by smuggling one of them to Earth. We're not sure where the other one was taken, but not long after Versont left Seeker, the queen was killed by a virus that decimated the population and prevented any help from outside. What Versont was trying to do each time he went on a mission was to find his other son but he was forbidden to approach Seeker in case the virus was still potent. Occasionally, an attempt has been made to contact the planet, both by personal travel and by remote probes.

D'vork stared wide eyed at Otrall. "Are you telling me Tadik has a brother?"

Otrall nodded. "Not only that, I hear that Tadik is showing signs of a higher telepathic intelligence than is normal in a human. It is possible Versont was hoping he could use Tadik's ability to connect with his brother once he grew old enough. We won't know for sure until we find Versont. There is also another problem. Until Tadik and his brother were born, the birth rate of babies with their gifts had begun to decline, and these boys were the first to be born in more than five years. And unfortunately, we are not the only ones interested in the welfare of the twins, except that others only wish to use them for their own experiments. My mission, on behalf of those worlds who only wish the safety of the twins, is to find Versont and Tadik's brother at all costs. It is also my mission to enlist your help should such an incident as this attack happen. It is obvious someone has leaked details of my mission and has also recognised Tadik for who he is. Whoever was behind the pirate attack wasn't after your ship; they were after either Tadik or me. I would suggest you interrogate further the prisoners and also the men who threw Tadik into the tower."

"So, Mrs. Versont is not Tadik's birth mother?"

"I'm afraid not."

"No wonder she didn't like him. Otrall, you have my support. Meanwhile, Tadik needs my full attention. My Commander already has control of the ship until such times as Tadik is declared out of danger. U'lac will see to your needs."

Otrall bowed his head and stepped away from D'vork. "Please give our princeling my regards, Captain; He is a brave young man; he saved both our lives and those of our men today."

D'vork bowed in return and hurried into the theatre, his mind whirling with all this newfound knowledge about his lover. Inmahn met him and showed him to the small room at the back of the medical bay where patients could be isolated. Stealing himself to see Tadik lying on a bed and near to death, D'vork was unprepared for the sight that met his eyes as he approached the bed. Swathed in bandages, Tadik was sitting up, smiling and drinking a cup of hot tea. Inmahn grinned at D'vork. "I told you this lad is special. I've never seen anyone recover from an operation so fast. It's a miracle!"

"Not so much a miracle, Inmahn, but I think I know how he did it."

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