Forerunners of Bosk

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twelve

 

   

An hour later, Ardala was standing in her father’s private chambers, watching her royal sire pace, listening to his ranting and raving.  A few years earlier, she would have been horrified at his anger at her, and quick to do anything to mollify his displeasure.  But now?  Now she only had to think of life with Kane and her anger burned away any fear.   

He paused in his shouting to catch his breath.   

“Father, I would rather marry a Trisorian mud fish than marry Kane.”   

Her calm voice broke through his rage and he stopped pacing, glaring at her.  “If you keep this up, you may get your wish.”  He continued to glare at her.   “Are you still mooning over that accursed Buck Rogers?” he growled.  “I had almost wished you had succeeded in marrying him.  That way I could keep an eye on him.” 

“No, Father, I am not mooning over Captain Rogers,” Ardala replied, heartened that at least King Draco was allowing her to speak.  “But he allowed me to see just what flaws existed in Kane, other than the ones I already knew.”  She paused.  “Father, despite what your ‘esteemed’ commander has said, Kane does not love me.  He only sees me as a stepping stone to your throne.”  

“Why should he be any different from any of my other sons-in-law?” Draco cried out, his eyes snapping in anger.  “And the man uncovered the plot to kill you.”  

“I think that there is more to that plot than it appears on the surface, Father.  It did not have the feel of a serious assassination,” Ardala said.   

“What?  Are you accusing Kane of trying to kill you?”

“No, that would destroy any chances of his ascending to the throne.  I think he was trying to impress you.”  

“That is ridiculous, Ardala,” Draco snapped.  

“Just check into it, Father.  I’m going to.”  Ardala decided to just let the seed germinate and not pursue her suspicions any further.  “Where did you send Tigerman?”  

“Tigerman?”  

“Yes, Kane told me you were the one who actually removed him from the palace,” Ardala said.

“I don’t keep up with the buying and selling of slaves,” he snapped.  “And why are you so interested in a slave?”  

“He was loyal and you and Kane had no right to get rid of him.  He was mine to keep or to dispose of,” she replied heatedly.   Ardala knew she was sounding like a petulant child now, but she couldn’t help it.  All of this had taxed her royal demeanor to the limit.   

“Ask Kerok.  He deals with slave purchases and sales.”  

“I most certainly will,” responded Ardala.  

“Then you will prepare to wed Kane.”  

Ardala seethed.  With a cry of frustration she replied with another phrase that she had heard Buck use, “When Hell freezes over.”  And she dashed out of the room.

Ardala quickly reached the spaceport where her personal yacht sat ready for her and she boarded, her two ever present androids right behind her.  Wasting no time, she strode into the bridge. “I want this ship in space immediately.  We are going to Yresis IV.”   

“Are we going to wait for Counselor Kane?” the captain, a middle-aged, dark eyed man asked.   

“No!  We launch immediately,” Ardala ordered.   

The ship’s captain gave the orders for immediate departure and the yacht was soon streaking for the nearest stargate.  

Kane rushed into King Draco’s throne room.  “Your Highness!  Your daughter has just launched her yacht.”  

Draco smiled enigmatically.  “Yes, I know.”  

 

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Wilma, her hair pulled back and loosely tied with a blue ribbon, walked perkily down an antiseptically white corridor, a food tray in her hands.  When they had first learned of the distress signal and had been called to the Neckar system, and had done the initial survey of the planet, including its history, Buck had commented on how much like pre-holocaustic Earth Neckar was.  “Like a cross between antebellum and fifties cultures,” was his comment.  In her visits with Habris, she had noted the signs of emerging modern technologies; undoubtedly technologies that would boom with the admission of Neckar into the Galactic Council.  She was thankful at this time, though, that the society wasn’t any more advanced than it was.    

Wilma tapped lightly on the door of Brisella Brock’s room and then cautiously entered.  She had been told that Mrs. “Drake” was extremely taciturn at best and downright belligerent at worst.  “Here is your dinner, ma’am,” Wilma said politely.  

The old woman glared at her, saying nothing.  Then she beckoned for Wilma to approach.  “At least you didn’t try to tell me I was someone else,” she said softly, almost conspiratorially.   

“I wouldn’t do that,” Wilma said. “Mrs. Brock,” she added quietly, when she was up close to the older woman.  

Brisella gazed at her in shocked silence for a moment and then smiled broadly.  “I think I’m going to like you.”  She peered at the tray in Wilma’s hands.  “What do you have there?”

“Something for you to eat.  I was told you weren’t eating what they fixed here, so I brought you something I got on the way to work.”   Wilma had managed to study the old woman’s records the day before and saw where Mrs. Brock had accused them of poisoning her.  To be perfectly truthful, the Neckarese woman had been very sick just after she had arrived at this facility, so it was not a great stretch of the imagination for Brisella to assume that someone was out to get her.  And in a sense someone was.  It wasn’t hard for Wilma to imagine that Brisella’s enemies might be more interested in her death than in any benefit of her living.  But then why didn’t they just kill her in the first place?  Wilma mentally shoved all those thoughts away.  They didn’t help her in this present situation.  She had to keep focused on getting Mrs. Brock out of here. 

Other members of the Searcher crew had gathered information on the Ahern’s, as well as this facility where Brisella Brock had been placed.  Wilma had already assessed that they would most likely have to kidnap Brisella from Neckar and not just talk to her.  She was confident, however, that they had the information they needed to make this a smooth operation, one where no one would get hurt.  

“Well, bless you, girl,” Brisella cackled.   

Wilma unwrapped the food and then handed the tray to the old woman, who took it eagerly.   Aware of her cover, she smiled and said, “I have to check on a few other people.  I will be back in a little bit.”   

“Please hurry,” Brisella said plaintively.  She lowered her voice.  “I think someone is trying to kill me.  The Ahern’s never liked me much, at least not after I married a Brock.”  She paused.  “I was real sick when I first got here, until I made them taste my food first.”  She looked at her tray and then at Wilma.  “I could feel them.  I could feel their cold hate for me.  But you?   I know you are my friend.”  

Feel it?  How could that be? Could Brisella Brock be empathic?  However it came about, Wilma was just happy that Brisella trusted her.  She lightly touched the older woman on the arm.  “I promise to be back shortly.  As soon as I can.”  

Wilma quickly checked on the other residents on her roster, and then was suddenly anxious to get back to Brisella.  Perhaps the old woman’s paranoia was rubbing off on her, but Wilma wasn’t going to question it.   She would rather err on the side of caution than to regret something later.  In the supply room nearest the old woman’s room, Wilma activated her subcutaneous communication device.  “Anton.  Be ready.  I think we need to do it tonight.”  

“Right, Colonel,” her contact said, his voice tinny in her ear.  

Wilma felt the tiny laser pistol in her uniform pocket and then stepped out of the little room.  She caught a fleeting glimpse of someone going into Brisella’s room and she glanced quickly to see if anyone else was watching.   When she saw no one else, Wilma darted down the hall and slipped through the slowly closing door.  A small man in the uniform of an orderly was approaching the old woman, his hand holding a tiny device that looked suspiciously like some kind of hypodermic needle.  Brisella started calling out for help but quieted suddenly when she saw Wilma.   

Just as the assailant grabbed at Brisella with his free hand, Wilma kick boxed him in the side, causing him to drop the hypodermic and cry out sharply in surprise.  As he turned, Wilma’s fist connected below his chin and then her other fist buried itself in the pit of the man’s stomach.  Shoving him against a wall, Wilma grabbed him around the neck and hissed, “Who are you?  Who sent you?”  

He shook his head, his eyes wide in surprise.  “You . . . you….”  

Then the possible scenario dawned on her.  “You were going to kill Mrs. Brock and let the new person take the blame,” she accused.  “Who sent you?” she repeated.  

“Don’t know.   They didn’t give a name.  Just know they were from the provinces,” the would-be assassin said.   

“How do you know they were from the provinces?” Wilma asked, her fingers squeezing a bit tighter around the man’s neck.  

“Accent,” he gasped.  “That’s all I know.  I swear.”

Wilma released the man, stepped back a pace and then fired her laser pistol.   The would-be killer slumped to the ground.  Quickly, she dashed to the door and closed it. 

“I knew you were one tough lady,” Brisella said with a laugh. “And I told you someone was trying to kill me.”  She looked up at Wilma, a grin still on her face.  “Thanks, uh….”  

“My name’s Wilma and I’m a friend of Buck Rogers,” she said quietly, checking to see if there would be any recognition.  

There was a faint glimmer of remembrance and then the old woman gazed meaningfully at her.  “What are you going to do now?”

“Try and get you out of here,” answered Wilma.  “But you have to do exactly what I say.”  

“Of course, Wilma,” Brisella said brightly. 

“First, keep your voice down.”  Wilma looked around and saw a wheelchair in the corner.  “Do you need that?” she asked, pointing.  

“That thing?  No, not in your lifetime.”  

Wilma smiled.  “Good.”  She pulled the unconscious man up and then hoisted him into the chair.  There was a restraining strap and Wilma fastened him in.  Thankfully, he wasn’t that big of a man.  When he was slumped down, his head barely came above the back of the chair.  Next she pulled the blanket off the bed.  “Sit on his lap,” she told Brisella.  

“What?  Me?  On him?”  

“Yes, Mrs. Brock.  If you want out of here, you will.”  

“Not as good looking as your friend, but I guess that’s all right.  I can sit on his lap later,” she said with a chuckle.   

So she does remember Buck!  Wilma smiled, seeing a razor sharp wit for all that she seemed wizened and frail.  She suspected that Brisella had more strength than anyone would figure, too.  After the woman seated herself on top of the unconscious man, Wilma grabbed up the hypodermic and slipped it in her pocket.  Then she wrapped the blanket around the pair and walked to the door, opening it.  “Let me do all the talking.”  

“All right, Wilma dear,” Brisella said, giggling softly.   

“Shh!”  

Brisella stifled her giggles and Wilma pushed the chair out the door after checking quickly to see if anyone was in the hallway.  So far, so good, Wilma thought.   

“Where are you taking that patient,” a voice demanded.    

Head nurse, Wilma thought with a mental groan, recognizing the voice.   They had met when Wilma had first been ‘hired on’ and the terran woman had not been impressed.   “Doctor said this one was to have a test done.”  

The nurse looked at her watch.  “At ten in the evening?”  She looked incredulous.  

“Yes, he said he suspected something and he’d run the tests himself,” Wilma ad-libbed, hoping that such a procedure was at least heard of.  

“That’s something new,” the nurse said.  “Which patient?”  

“Drake.”  

The head nurse snorted.  “He should discover a way to make this one behave.”  

Brisella began moaning, softly at first and then louder and louder.  She moved her head from side to side, then began to curse.   

“All right.  Take her,” the nurse said testily.   “But what I really think she needs is a good strong sedative.   Crazy doctors,” she muttered, turning away.  

“Yes, Nurse Collins,” Wilma said demurely as she began pushing the chair down the hallway as quickly as she could.  

“Nasty witch,” Brisella muttered.   

Wilma couldn’t help it; she began to giggle softly, joined quickly by the woman in the chair.  “That was good, Mrs. Brock.  Thanks." 

“You’re welcome, dear.”  

They hurried down the corridor that led past rooms with dark windows and they were not bothered until they were near the back entrance of the facility.  There a security guard stepped out into the hall and challenged them.  Wilma smiled sweetly.  “Oh, Mrs. Drake wanted me to take her around the hospital.  She was making a big ruckus so Nurse Collins said I could walk her around the grounds.”  

“What are we stopping for?” Brisella demanded, her voice loud and strident.  “I want to go.”  

“Well, you aren’t taking her out.  It’s dark.  Take her back to her room and give her something if she’s too noisy.”  

“I want to go that way,” Brisella yelled loudly, pointing.  

Wilma surreptitiously pulled the small, laser pistol out while the guard’s attention was on Brisella and then she fired.  The man slumped heavily to the ground and lay still.    

The older woman started to get up.  “Let me get the door or were you going to leave this sorry excuse for a man behind?”  

“Thank you and no.  I want to bring him along.  He might be able to answer some questions.”  As Wilma pushed the wheelchair out the open door, she gazed around, looking for more guards.  She didn’t see any, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any.  “Stay close and don’t hesitate to get back in the chair if you need to.”  

“It will take a lot of walking to make me want to sit on that bony lap again,” Brisella replied sarcastically. 

Wilma smiled and pushed the chair out the door.   

“Where are we going?”

“To meet some of my friends.  They will help me get you some place safe.”

“Not another home, I presume,” Brisella said.  

“No, definitely not another home,” Wilma said.  “Let’s walk quietly so I can hear for more security guards.”  Wilma felt Brisella’s hand on hers and they continued on in silence.  

“Stop!” a loud voice called and Wilma felt as though her heart had stopped beating altogether.  Looking around, Wilma saw no cover for them.

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen
Forerunners of Bosk Prologue
Buck Rogers Contents
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