"It's this way," Brandon stated as he and Sam walked along a path. To their right was a high stone wall that ran alongside them. Sam started jumping as he walked, seeing if he could get a glimpse of what was on the other side.
"Are we nearly there yet?"
"Yes, it's just at the end of this road and then we turn right. As soon as we do we should be at the entrance," he replied, following a map on his phone.
"I really don't see why I had to come; it was you who knew him. In fact, I don't even know why you are going."
"Sam, you didn't have to come, I asked you if you would. I wanted to go because I can't help thinking how utterly upset I would be if no one turned up to my funeral," Brandon replied as they turned right in to another road. "Here we are, shit we are a little late too."
The boys walked through a large gate and up a narrow path, grass either side. Scattered all around were gravestones of the dead and Sam tried to read a few as he tried to keep up with Brandon's quickened pace.
In the centre of the large plot of land stood a small church which Brandon appeared to be heading straight for. "Hurry up Sam; we'll look like pricks walking in alone."
"The place looks deserted," Sam commented eyeing the large brown door. Brandon reached it and put some pressure down making it open. He peered inside and let his eyes wander along the pews until ending up looking at the altar.
There was no one there!
"Are you sure this is the right fucking church?" Sam asked, sounding exasperated. "If you're gonna tell me we are at the wrong-"
"Shut up, it is, look at the message on my phone!" Brandon hissed, holding the screen up.
"Now look at the map! Brandon flipped back. "See? same name, same road."
"So where is the box? Where is the priest?"
Brandon ignored him and stepped backwards out of the doorway, turning around. "Ahh, look, over there," he pointed.
Sam looked over in the direction of Brandon's finger, seeing a small group of people standing by a freshly dug out grave over in the distance. "That him?"
"Must be, service said three thirty, its three forty five. They must have done a quick service in the church and come out here."
"A funeral in fifteen minutes?"
"Well I don't know, maybe they skipped that bit; I'm not an expert on funerals. Come on, let's go pay our respects."
"Can't wait," Sam muttered as Brandon headed off.
As the two boys approached, Brandon noted a few scruffy people had turned up from Heidgate. He remembered seeing them when the ambulance had come to bring Fred's body out. He and Sam did their best to blend in to the small gathering while the Priest read from a holy book.
"I wonder who paid for this?" Sam whispered in Brandon's ear. "Usually when there isn't a family they just chuck em' in an oven, it's cheaper."
"Sam you really know the right things to say at the right times don't you."
Sam winced. "Oops, sorry."
Brandon had yet to bring up the topic of Sage to his friend so far today fearing he might ask about certain 'things'. He had however already scanned the area wondering if the boy would be here seeing as he knew Fred. But no, Sage was nowhere to be seen and as much as he hated him strangely, he felt a tinge of disappointment.
As the Priest read the final few words an old woman looking to be in her late seventies seemed to move out of the group before appearing next to Brandon and Sam. Brandon had noticed her move and was trying to work out why. She just stood there, silent, dressed all in black, looking at the coffin. A few moments later he switched his attention back to the priest who gently closed his book and smiled.
"For those of you who wish to stay a while and say a private prayer for Fredrick please do so. Thank you for attending."
"Well, at least we saw him off," Sam commented. "Shall we go; it's pretty cold out in the open."
"Yeah," Brandon replied just staring at Fred's casket.
They both began to move away as Sam suggested when a strange sounding voice spoke. "You knew him?"
Brandon turned around to see the old woman standing behind them. Sam looked back too seeing Brandon had stopped.
"Briefly," Brandon replied. "He was a nice old fellow." He added, keeping his answers short.
"You have something of his I understand."
The combination of her creepy voice and the wrods she uttered made Brandon's blood run cold. "I'm sorry, and you are?"
"That is not important. What is important is that the item you have is returned! It is not meant for this place."
"Lady, you are really starting to freak me out now. I don't know what you are talking about… C'mon Sam, let's go."
Both boys started briskly walking away from the creepy lady. "Who the fuck was that?" Sam asked as they hotfooted it across the grassland.
"Fucked if I know, but she was weird."
As they both approached the gate to the church Brandon felt like his day was just getting stranger as Sage came skidding to a halt outside. He looked at Brandon and Sam, his face etched in worry. Brandon watched as Sage took his gaze and focused it on the small group of people now walking back from Fred's grave.
"What's up with you?" Sam asked.
"Did… did you see her, did she speak to you?"
"You know her?" Brandon asked. "That crazy old bitch knows about the artefact, did you tell her or something?"
"Look, she ain't what you think she is!" Sage declared, his tone panicky.
Sam sighed. "She's just some crooked old girl who is probably just senile, now if you two wanna stay and chat about an old woman then please yourselves but I am fucking cold!"
"Sam shut up a moment… Sage, what do you mean she isn't what I think she is?"
"We need to get out of here." Sage demanded before jogging off into the distance. Brandon looked at Sam.
"Are you coming?"
"Brandon you're my friend, always will be but this is not my bag man. I just wanna go home to the warm."
"Do you mind?" Brandon asked, nodding towards Sage's direction of travel.
Sam held out his hand in the same direction. "Be my guest, I'll be back at my dorm. Just be careful will you?"
"Thanks Sam, take care, I'll see you soon!" Brandon took off at speed in pursuit of Sage.
Brandon had lost Sage but had a feeling he couldn't have gone anywhere else but back to Heidgate so he made his way there. It had started to rain and he could feel his shoes starting to squelch as a cold a wetness soaked through to his feet. He was chilly and getting hungry but needed to know what the hell was going on. Turning into Heidgate he ran down the bleak road and came to a sharp stop outside the old laundrette. He arched his spine back panting before falling forward and resting his hands on his knees.
"SAGE! He hollered, pounding on the door. "You in there?"
He put his ear against the door listening for signs of any movement but the rain was now beating down so hard it was drowning out any chance of hearing anything. Then, just as he was about to curse himself for wasting his time the door opened up to a crack and Brandon saw one purple eye staring through it.
"Let me in, you need to let me in!"
"I don't need to do shit! You're lucky I made the effort to come and warn you about her… or that!"
"Warn me about what? What the fuck is all this about?"
Sage quickly opened the door, looked out into the street both ways and grabbed Brandon by his collar, pulling him inside. He closed the door and Brandon felt somewhat relieved as the noise of the rain disappeared along with some of the coldness he was feeling. He stood there dripping, waiting for Sage to say something.
Sage shook his head. "What I saw… Jesus it was fucked up!"
"Hey, just calm down and tell me."
Sage blew ait through his lips. "We gotta be fucking quiet man; if that thing comes back I think it will kill us. It's looking for that artefact!"
"Please don't tell me you told that woman I had it!"
"It's not a fucking woman damn it!" Sage hissed.
"Right, ok, from the top, what happened and why did she… it, freak you out so much?" Brandon took a seat on a rickety chair just behind him and Sage leaned against the opposite wall.
"I went to Fred's place looking for stuff, ok?"
"Looking for stuff? What for?"
"To sell, I needed money for food. I thought he'd have some old junk in there I could get a few quid for so I broke in. You don't know how hard it is to survive out here sometimes. It's hell!"
"So I pulled back a board on one of the back windows and flipped the latch with my knife. I'm tryna be really quiet and eventually I get in and close it back up. So I'm tiptoeing from room to room and I can hear this rustling noise upstairs. I'm thinking, fucking fox has got in or something… I got my knife on me, I'm not worried. So I wander upstairs and in the bedroom straight ahead is this…"
"This what?" Brandon asked perplexed as Sage stopped talking.
"It was like an old woman but it moved towards me as agile as you or me. Then it grabbed hold of me and so I pushed my thumbs into its eyes hoping it would let me go. Brandon the eyes they… they were like the consistency of play dough. As I saw my thumbs go in deeper it felt like inside was glass. It felt the same as touching a glass bottle… cold, smooth."
Brandon scratched his head. "Glass?"
"Yeah… look I know that don't make sense, but that's what it felt like." Sage let his head drop. "Whatever was under that skin… under those eyes was not bone and brain, it was-"
"A mask, Sage?" Brandon asked, suddenly taking a wild but calculated guess.
Sage looked up "A mask," he repeated, his jaw dropping open. "Like a glass mask! Shit I feel like I'm gonna be sick," he said, heaving, as images flashed through his mind. Brandon observed him as he seemed to zone out, staring ahead at the wall.
"You can see them can't you," he asked, already seeing the answer etched on Sage's face.
"I remember them, that room I was in… it was metal and I remember being held down on a table of some kind. THAT is when I first saw the mask. It was shiny and glass looking," Sage exclaimed, his tone dreamy as he looked to be in deep thought. Brandon was eager to keep Sage in this agreeable mood and decided to gently speak around the edges of what was happening here.
"You said during the hypnosis that Adam was with them… you said he was ok and they looked after him."
"Yes… yes I remember. There was a guy who was always there. He looked after Adam… FUCK, I wish I could see the images more clearly. I know him, I know I do but I can't focus my mind on making the image clearly."
"Ok, just try to take it slow. Do you remember anything else about the masks?"
"No, they were masks, that's all I know."
"You say you left earth… well you didn't say that but you described a place that was not here, do you remember?"
"Yes, but I can't see the images now. The only things I remember are it being hot all the time and I remember there being a huge bluish sun in the sky… not yellow like ours."
Brandon shook his head. "Fuck, do you have any idea what you are actually saying."
"Yes, and I hardly believe myself even when I know it happened." Sage replied, obnoxiously.
"Do you think there could be a way-"
"Shhh! Sage hissed. "Do you hear that?" He pressed off the wall, tilting his head.
Brandon listened but shrugged not hearing anything. "What was it?"
"Dunno, it was coming from the back of the shop."
"Nice, and now I'm creeped out!"
"How do you think I feel, I gotta live in this place!"
"You sure the noise wasn't just a little bit of paranoia after what happened today?" Brandon asked. He noted that Sage didn't answer. His eyes seemed to be gazing off towards the darkened area at the back of the laundrette. "Sage?"
Brandon watched as Sage's Adam's apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed hard over and over. He was just about to ask what the hell he was looking at when a figure in black immerged from the darkness.
"F-f-fuck this I'm outta here!" Sage spat, starting to run. Just as he headed towards the door and before Brandon had even had a chance to digest what he was looking at, the creature pulled out what looked to be a gun shaped object and fired it at the door. A bright blue blob of plasma came shooting out and sizzled as it hit the lock. Brandon and Sage froze to the spot trembling. They both slowly turned their heads to look at the creature now standing in the middle of the room stationary and silent.
Sage was rapidly thinking of options but coming up with nothing as Brandon looked on. Then without warning the creature, still in the guise of an old woman took both its wrinkly hands and placed them in a claw like position in the centre of its head. Then, still completely silent both boys looked on in horror as it proceeded to slowly peel off the skin looking material revealing what was underneath.
"Is this the mask you seek in your mind, Sage of Earth?"
On Purity Adam, Castro and Commander Moorabak were flown by Podling to the High Council chambers and were slowly descending into a designated landing zone. Adam looked out of the window in astonishment as a sea of Puritans as far as his eyes would take him were gathered outside the main chamber walls.
"How many people is that… I mean that is just sick!" Adam gasped, shaking his head.
Moorabak patted him on the shoulder. "All here for you, Adam. How does it feel?"
"Like I wanna explode and at the same time cry?"
"I am so happy Adam, I just want to cuddle you all day," Castro said, leaning over and rubbing his mask on Adam's face.
"I feel like my bones wanna jump out of my skin, is this really happening?" Adam asked as the pod touched down with a gentle thud. As the air and sound tight door opened at the back of the podling the image of what they had all just seen was driven home in clarity as a deathening cheer of what sounded like hundreds and thousands of Puritans all cheered and banged their feet on the ground. Voices rang through the air, the surface rumbled beneath them. Plasma bursts were seen to be exploding in the sky as utter jubilation blasted out in all directions.
"We need to get inside," Moorabak said as the pathetic amount of military personnel were struggling to hold back the crowds. The huge 5 white gates, over 25 metres tall looked like they were about to buckle as Moorabak ushered Adam and Castro into the main chamber before two guards closed the door.
Silence immediately took over as the noise from outside was shut out. Moments later several sets of footsteps could be heard coming from a distance until Adam saw 6 Puritans wearing full dress military uniform come into to view. Behind them was another Puritan in purple, blue and white robes made from the familiar hexagonal material that was common on Purity.
The military people lined up against the walls of the wide corridor, 3 each side. The remaining Puritan with the robes came to a stop right in front of Adam before pulling out a scroll from inside his garments.
"Adam of earth, as deputy leader of the High Council of Purity I do submit that the current official role of Grand Master of Purity, leader of the Puritan people and all planets hereby granted under territorial claim has been dissolved."
Moorabak reached into a case and pulled out a flexipad and passed it to Adam. Adam cleared his throat and looked at the screen trying not to fuck up what he'd been practising.
"By order of the elder scrolls I come to this place to seek the power of Grand Master. A World Vote has been held and the council will now cede power to me and only me as the confirmed winner. The people of Purity and all planets held by territorial claim have chosen as is their will."
The deputy leader took a deep bow. "The high council accepts your demands to cede power and as of this moment has done so under my authority. The will of the Puritan people will now be claimed back into the hands of the elder scrolls and now come under the sole control of the Grand Master of Purity."
Adam clenched his fist trying to stop himself from trembling. Once again he held up the flexipad and spoke. "I Adam Smith have been voted in by the will of the Puritan people and proclaim myself Grand Master of Purity and all planets granted under territorial claim. Under the rules and traditions of this planet I shall rule until my body and mind is inactive. I swear to uphold the principles and traditions of Purity as spoken by the elder scrolls and hereby dismiss this council of advisors immediately.
"The High council is now dismissed. Your primary Kanatoth will now assume deputy duties. "
The now ex deputy leader took another bow and took 5 paces back. Moorabak stepped into his place and got to his knees. "I Commander Moorabak of Purity, primary Kanatoth for you Adam Smith, Grand Master, now submit my body and being to you. Under the laws of the elder scrolls I will make no attempts to grasp power and will only serve to advise for a limit of ten moons. Under the rule of this law means any abandonment to it will result in termination of my body." The room fell silent and Moorabak got up. "Congratulations Grand Master"
"Uh… thanks, I think!" Adam said, grinning.
Castro went and stood in front of Adam and took a bow. "Grand Master, I give my life to you, My honour is to serve!"
"Stand up you fool, we'll have none of that," he said, rolling his eyes. "So what now?"
Moorabak picked up his case. "As your temporary advisor I would say you should let this Puritan leave to tend to the outgoing group of advisors."
"Let's do that then… uh… you can go now if you like," Adam said to the patiently waiting ex-deputy leader. The Puritan bowed before walking away.
"So now I think we should visit the main chamber, there is a large chair you will probably want to try out," Moorabak suggested. Adam felt like a kid in a candy store and nodded excitedly.
As they made their way down a series of wide corridors lined with ice white marble, Adam, Castro and Moorabak eventually ended up at a set of two huge doors that led into the main chamber. Two guards seeing them approach instinctively pushed them open revealing the splendour filled room inside.
"I remember standing in here when that Jackass said they were going to scrap the Selsha!"
"I fail to understand the term of which you uttered Grand Master however what I can say is that nothing will now be scrapped unless you give the order."
Holding Castro's hand Adam walked to near centre of the room and looked at the huge chair that sat on a beautifully decorated plinth. It was draped in luxurious soft material and to the side lay a thick jewel encrusted staff made of fine wood.
"The council members will meet here once every six days. It is often a good idea to schedule a meeting with your advisors as you will often need to give the members lots of information that they will then take back to their constituents."
Adam blew air though his lips. "It all seems so peaceful, like I am here on this planet alone."
Moorabak laughed. "Sometimes the meetings can get quite lively Adam, make the most of the solitude. All Puritans will never question your authority, however some will argue a point. It is tradition that you let them do this but you do not need to be afraid, no Puritan will ever overstep their position in your presence."
"Good to know," Adam replied, stepping onto the plinth. "So what can I do and what can't I do?"
"The Grand Master is answerable to no one except the elder scrolls. There are certain rules set by them a Grand Master cannot break but we will explore those at another time."
"So what are they? Are they kept in a book or something?"
"The elder scrolls are Purity's most valuable items. It… or rather they are not books. They are carved Selentean stone tablets that are over seventy five thousand doons old."
"It is an ancient stone created from when the planet was young Grand Master, pushed up through many-"
"Please just call me Adam, Lord Moorabak!" Adam said, feeling slightly embarrassed.
"As you wish Adam… So the stone has been pushed up through a millennia and is now very rare after many doons of corrosion."
"And these carved stones, are they kept here?"
"Yes Adam, in the Grand Vaults deep under this structure. It takes fifteen heshtons to reach the vaults by elevator."
Adam pulled his lips down and nodded. "So a long way down then."
"Castro baby? Wanna sit in the chair?"
"NO!" Moorabak shouted. "I am sorry Adam, my apologies sincerely but no ordinary Puritan can sit in the chair. It is a rule of the elder scroll."
"Who's gonna know?"
"That question Adam, is highly un-Puritan. No Grand Master has ever questioned the rules of the elder scrolls I must ask that you do not as well… a humble request as your advisor of course."
Castro stepped back from the chair and went and stood next to Adam. Adam looked at him and shrugged. "No chair then baby, perhaps I'll have one made for you next to me, we can be like King and… hmm, nah actually that's a horrible thought. Ok so what about advisors, I understand we got some time limit?"
"Yes Adam ten moons. A Grand Master must have a full set of advisors in that time. Failure to do so will result in another world vote and your power removed."
"Let me guess, a rule of the elder scrolls?"
"Right! So uh… how do I choose them and who shall I have?"
"That is solely your choice Adam. As your advisor I am unable to influence you in any way it is against the-"
"Rules of the elder scrolls, yeah! Ok so what do you advise I do to get advisors?"
"Traditionally I learned that it is usually made up of the Grand Master's Kanatoths that campaigned for the candidate. As you will imagine these Puritans are the most aligned with what you stand for and will advise in total support of your cause. I would say that would be a good place to start. However I say it in an information giving capacity."
"So if I pick you to be one of my permanent advisors is that ok?"
"I would be honoured."
"Great at least we got that sorted today then… in fact, as I recall, there is a leader right, like a deputy?"
"Indeed there is Adam,"
"Then I want you as my deputy."
"Oh Adam, nothing would give me greater pleasure then to serve you in this role."
"Ok then. Now, let's try out this chair!"
Adam was just about to sit down when there was a bang on the doors, sending an echo round the chamber.
"Come in?" Adam replied, not really knowing if that was the right protocol. Moments later the doors were opened by the guards and in walked High Commander Tristometh.
"Grand Master, I understand you are only heshtons into your new position but I have urgent news from the Sol system."
Adam stepped down from the plinth. "Hey aren't you the guy who was going to scrap the Selsha, and then had a go at me in the middle of this very chamber?"
"Grand Master, I beg forgiveness."
"So what do you want?"
"My high Lord, Space Operations has been attempting to locate a device that was left on your planet some time ago. In the process of trying to find this device one of our agents equipped with gelling serum has been identified by two humans."
"Gelling what?" Adam asked, creasing his forehead.
"A gelling serum Adam is a substance that allows a Puritan to visit another world in the form of its native species."
"For what reason?" Castro asked.
"I'm sorry, but who is this young Puritan and how dare he speak in this chamber without permission?" Tristometh asked, looking Castro up and down and seeing he wore no rank.
"That PURITAN happens to be my life partner and as I am now Grand Master he can say whatever the fuck he likes!"
"I apologise Grand Master I was not aware."
"Please continue," Adam said, buzzing with excitement in being able to tell the High Commander how it was.
"We do not know the full details as yet but the agent has transmitted his signal from earth advising of his true identity being revealed."
"How? Earth is light years away."
"It is a basic signal that is able to travel through minute wormholes that are opened up by small Triton dishes left inside the Deltazones."
"So what do I do now?" Adam asked turning to Lord Moorabak. As a former ship commander he was in a position to advise on this issue fortunately for Adam.
"I'm sure the High Commander is aware that we could use the dishes to send through an uplink? I propose this will be easier than dispatching another vessel to the Sol system, not to mention much faster."
"I agree," Tristometh said "What should be said? We have limited bandwidth for much information to get through."
Adam stepped in "Why was his cover blown, who are they, names, do they know Sage and-"
"Adam, why are we asking about Sage, bringing back information regarding him will limit the other information we can squeeze onto the signal beam."
Adam sighed. "You're right; I need to think of the planet and the Puritans now, enough of this self-indulgence. Just get the name of the agent and the whereabouts of the device."
"Very good Grand Master."
Sage's face felt like it was paralysed as he tried to speak. It was almost like he wanted to dribble while standing there looking at the Puritan in front of him. Brandon was equally overcome with utter paralysis, pondering if he was actually… ACTUALLY looking at his first being from another planet.
"Humans… Sage, do not be alarmed I mean you, your companion or this planet no harm."
"You're… you're real, I mean you are actually real!" Brandon stammered, slowly lifting his arm up to point at the strange looking being"
"I exist Brandon of Earth, just as you do. Now please, I must ask, where is-"
"I remember now!" Sage blurted, cutting the Puritan off. "You were the guy who held me down on that trolley in the stainless steel room."
The Puritan tilted his head. "Stainless steel room?"
"At least I think it was. Anyway, the point is, you forced me to come back to your planet and I remember getting there and feeling much better and… and… and, and YES, Adam WAS there, I can see him now and he was talking to you!"
"Me? Sage of earth?"
"I am not aware of the full details of your extraction, but I assure you, the Puritan you speak of was not me."
"So it's true, he was taken… taken from here?" Brandon plucked up the courage to ask.
"The events your companion talks of Brandon of Earth was not something I was part of, however I can confirm when the boy discovered our existence there would have been a decision to be made in regards to his future."
"Yes Brandon, it is Puritan policy to terminate all species who discover our existence on another world."
"Terminate, you mean kill?"
"That is affirmative," the Puritan replied.
"That's… that's barbaric." Brandon retorted.
"It is our way none the less. Now, I realise my-"
"My brother… Sage said my brother Adam is on your planet. So do you know him?" Brandon asked.
"Yes Brandon of Earth, I am aware of your brother's existence and the gift he beheld. Our vessel has been in space for quite some time so I am unable to give any further information that I would be able to report is accurate."
Brandon shook his head. "This is all just unreal, I can't take it in!"
Sage looked a little calmer now and had a question to ask. "So your purpose here, is it for the artefact?"
"Yes Sage, like I say, I and our people mean you no harm. If you would just hand over the device to us we will then dispatch it to our ship, painlessly terminate you and then leave your system."
"Terminate us?! What the fuck!" Sage blurted. Brandon's eyes went wide.
The Puritan looked confused. "I assure you this process will be completely painless."
"Listen Pal, I dunno what kinda sick rituals you have on your planet but here we don't just kill people!" Sage said, as another flash of memory hit him. "Hang on, I remember this… I remember being told this while I was being restrained. I was… I was about to be terminated and then Adam saved me."
"Adam?" Brandon asked, surprised.
"Yeah, as far as I remember I went with them back to the planet and that's how I was able to stay alive!"
"Hey Mister," Brandon started. "Can't you call your ship people and-"
"One moment please humans, I am being communicated with," interrupted the Puritan as he went towards the back of the laundrette. He appeared to bend down and pick up something.
"Pssst, hey Sage… shall we make a run for it?" Brandon whispered.
"Uh… and where would that be, he has the fucking door zapped closed."
MOMENTS EARLIER ON PURITY
Adam was sitting in his new chair when there was a pounding on the large chamber doors. Moorabak stepped to the side as they opened up and High Commander Tristometh walked back in.
"My lord, Grand Master… our vessel, the Lumstrek has contacted Space Operations regarding the Agent that was sent to retrieve the signal booster. We were able to dispatch a message using the methods agreed and have received an answer from them."
"And?" Moorabak asked, as Adam listened.
"The agent was only able to communicate some information due to there being a situation at his location. However what we now know at space operations is that the agent's name is Pluterfon and he has been discovered by two male humans. Grand Master we were able to confirm that one of those humans is Sage."
"And the other?" Adam asked, curious.
"The other… and we have checked the communication again to be sure… the other is being reported as Brandon and is said to be your brother."
"MY BROTHER? With Sage? Impossible, I haven't seen Brandon for ages and why would he be in Heidgate, he never knew I was there. I mean why would Sage be with him anyway?"
Commander Tristometh just looked at Adam not sure what he was expecting him to reply with. "We do not have the information you are asking Grand Master, all we know are these details I have communicated."
Commander Moorabak turned to Adam. "Master, I do not have to remind you of our procedure when an outsider discovers one of our people on their planet."
"Yes, it has just hit me… termination right?"
"Yes, and regardless of Sage already being here once before, he was placed back on earth with his memory altered. To him this will like discovering a Puritan all over again and so the same procedures will apply. It goes without saying that Brandon of Earth will also have to be terminated, regardless of your blood connection."
Adam got up from his chair and paced the hall. "We need to stop this… tell me how we can stop this. I will NOT see any more people die because this planet cannot get its house in order. Purity is responsible for keeping itself undetected and if we visit other words and are discovered then that is our fault not the innocent people of that world. No, no more. That rule changes. My brother and I did not see eye to eye before I was ejected from my home by my parents but I will not stand by and see him killed!"
"Tristometh, is there a way to get a message to the Pluterfon, to have the terminations stopped?" Moorabak asked.
"Well yes but I must advise… I must ask, what are we to do with these humans?"
Adam looked up and smiled. "Simple, do what you did the first time."
"Which is?" Tristometh asked.
"Bring them back here of course!"
"But Grand Master, we-"
"And while you are here Commander Tristometh, I would like a report of all vessels that are still yet to return to Purity from their missions. I want all ships back here as soon as possible. Until further instruction all exploration is forbidden."
"But Grand Master I…I… I mean we can't-"
"I believe the Grand Master has spoken," Moorabak interrupted, a hint of satisfaction in his voice.
"Yes, of course, I apologise and will return with a report as soon as it is produced." Tristometh took a bow and backed away before leaving the hall.
The doors closed and Moorabak turned to Adam. "I didn't wish to say anything in front of the Commander, but although I respect your decision to repatriate all our vessels to Purity, I am slightly at a loss as to why?"
"Simple, and three reasons… firstly we keep fucking up! Second, if the Silga comes back even with a small fleet we are defenceless and third, I wanted to show that bastard who is in charge because he clearly has no respect for me."
"Hmm, your second reason makes sense, I will have to assume the others is a testament that things will be done differently under your rule," Moorabak chuckled. "So, it appears you have given your first order.
Adam smiled. "Hey, what's that door over there?" he asked, pointing to a rather less grand opening than the main entrance.
"That is an annex. It serves as your private area for official business."
"Can we go take a look?"
"You are Grand Master and yet you ask ME?"
Adam laughed. "Castro looks engrossed, C'mon, let's go take a peek."
He and the Commander walked over to the small entrance and opened the door. Inside was a desk made of blue marble on which sat a Multicom. In the corner hung on a rail were some lavish looking robes Adam assumed were Telstrek's.
"Is this it?" Adam asked, feeling the room was so plain compared to what he'd just been standing in.
"It has a purpose Adam, and that purpose is a private area for you to be if needed. Ahh, look, it appears you have a message," Moorabak declared, pointing to the Multicom.
Adam placed his finger on the screen and it picked up his print before coming to life. "Hmm, it is for me… It's Lord Kelshen," Adam commented, looking back at Moorabak.
"Would you like me to leave?"
"No, no stay, you are my advisor." Adam turned back and played the video message from Kelshen and sat down. It looked like Kelshen was in his apartment and he had removed his mask.
"Greetings Adam, I am so very pleased you have been victorious in the world vote. I wanted to send you this last message before I pass on and say how proud I am to have known you and overseen your recovery. Your gift to this planet will be remembered in history, some might say even as prevalent as the carving of the Elder Scrolls. As you know the genetic extraction has been a complete success and I'm sure you yourself will be fully updated on the progress as you begin your new role. My, what a journey you have been on. I am so happy for you and I know… I know SO much that Lord Relshek would have been overjoyed to just see you now. Adam, work hard for Purity, work to make it great again. I must leave you now, my life is at an end. My work is done and I will die happy knowing all what has been achieved. Take care my son and be happy with your life partner. Goodbye."
The screen went blank and Adam touched it with his fingers looking sad. "I will miss him,"
"A great man, but Adam, this is his choice. When a Puritan gets too old to keep up with life it is the final honour they can have which is to choose the time of their ending. Lord Kelshen would have gone happy, not sad."
"I know," Adam replied. "It's just different from where I'm from."
"Yes, I have noted that humans find sadness in death and that sometimes they have to endure great suffering before they are allowed to pass on. This is thankfully not the Puritan way and we are grateful our people have this choice."
"I feel like I've lost so many people, even here. Christian, Sage, Kelshen, Skada… where does it all end?"
"And you will lose many more in your life time, Adam. Sometimes it is not in the best circumstances but occasionally, like Lord Kelshen, it is. Let it make you strong and give you drive to live."
Adam nodded and slowly walked back out into the main hall.
"What would you like to do now?" Moorabak asked.
Adam turned and looked over at his lover who was wandering around the great chamber looking at the grandiose artwork before turning back to Moorabak. "He needs me and as arrogant as this sounds his happiness is more important to me than all the power in the world. So right now, I'm gonna find somewhere nice and comfortable and just be with him for a while. Are you able to do stuff in the meantime?"
"Stuff?" Moorabak repeated, a little confused.
"Yeah like… can you run this planet while I take care of my boy over there?"
Moorabak put his arm around Adam's shoulder. "You know young earthling, I think Purity is in great hands, of course, I'll take care of things for a little while. Go see your life partner and then prepare your speech, there are a lot of Puritans out there waiting to hear what you have to say."
Adam smiled and wandered over to Castro, taking hold of his hand. "Where are we going," Castro asked.
Brandon and Sage had been standing in the laundrette for almost an hour now wondering what the end game was going to be. Brandon knew the artefact was in Sam's dorm and knew the Puritan who had come to collect it did not. He hoped this would be enough of a bargaining chip to keep him alive until he could think of an escape route but as these thoughts were going through his mind the Puritan returned from the darkness and placed down a small case.
"Humans, it appears you have been given a choice by our superiors. If it is not termination you are willing to accept then we are to take you back to our vessel before departing for Purity."
Brandon seemed to laugh hysterically and not through choice he felt. "I'm sorry, could you just run that by me again. You mean we either come with you or die… not much of an option. And I know this might be a silly question, but how the hell are we supposed to leave this planet?"
"We will dispatch a transporter podling of course," The Puritan replied, as if it was something Brandon would see as an everyday thing.
Brandon giggled again not being able to help his now unstable state. "Wait, wait… you mean to tell me you have some kind of spaceship hovering above this planet?"
"Our mother ship is currently stationary behind your fifth planet to avoid detection, we will depart via a smaller craft to enable us to dock with it. But first I will need the location of the artefact."
"You got some ship out by Jupiter?" Brandon asked incredulously. "What the fuck am I listening to here? Is this like some sick joke?"
"Brandon, it ain't a joke man, these people have that kind of stuff, I remember."
"Now, what is your choice young earthlings, shall I prepare the serum for your painless ending or shall we depart this place?"
"What if we were to overpower you and make our escape, we would have a third choice then wouldn't we," Brandon stated, impressed he had to guts to say that.
"Indeed you have that option but it would be futile. Another agent would be dispatched in my place and would locate you again. Brandon of earth, our visit here is not one of hostility; we are simply here to retrieve a device that does not belong on your world. We come in peace but if necessary we have authority to use force to extract the device. The matter concerning you and your companion here is very clear and makes no difference to the outcome of this mission."
Brandon looked at Sage who had gone a little quiet, seeming to be lost in his thoughts trying to remember more and more about his recent past. "So what do you think?"
"I think the choice is pretty clear Brandon!"
"But I have family… parents, friends. So I just leave all that behind?"
"Or die pal, that's the alternative. Family and friends ain't gonna mean shit if you are dead right?"
"You make this all sound so easy," Brandon hissed, angry at Sage for not getting them out of this.
"Man I ain't got anyone, but I would rather live, I think that is a no-brainer, family or no family."
"Earthlings I must insist we move this situation to a conclusion I am getting a report through saying that all vessels must return to Purity immediately."
Sage looked at Brandon. "Didn't you say you hated your parents?"
"I don't hate them, I just…"
"The fact you said 'I just' means you do! Let's just give him the fucking artefact and go with him. As I remember more stuff I am inclined to say it is quite an adventure.
Brandon blew air through his lips. "Something tells me I am in for a little more than a trip across the sky in a plane."
"Earthlings, do I assume you will be joining me. If this is the case please direct us to the device's location and I will dispatch a podling to extract us once this is compete."
Sage looked at Brandon. "Well?"
Brandon took a deep breath. "This really ain't a dream is it, I really am about to go with this guy and to another place."
"While you take that all in, let's get the artefact before a new instruction comes down that just says to kills us!"
"Shall we leave?" the Puritan asked. Sage and Brandon nodded and moments later the door to the laundrette was being made operational again. The Puritan quickly made up a new guise using the gelling serum and they left through the door into what was now late afternoon darkness, disappearing down the street. Sage wondered if he was ever going to see Heidgate again and Brandon? Well he wondered if he would see anyone again. The truth was, what he was about to leave behind might just set him on a path to connecting with the one person he had been seeking all this time. A chance to see his brother again.
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