World of tiers 02 the.., p.18

World of Tiers 02 - The Gates of Creation, page 18

 

World of Tiers 02 - The Gates of Creation
 


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  Vala said, "You stupid selfish slimegut! You'd die yourself rather than let me have anything! Very well, take her then!"

  Wolff smiled. He had told Theotormon to bring up Chryseis and so take her mind off him. This business about Chryseis was just irrel­evant enough and so Theotormonically selfish that she might be con­vinced that he was not hiding the truth.

  Theotormon clapped his flippers together with glee. Wolff hoped that his joy was all act, since he was not sure that Theotormon might not betray him at the last moment. Theotormon said, "All right. Now, how can we get to the spacecraft?"

  "You'll have to release me first. I'm not going to tell you and then have you take off without me."

  "But if I open the door to your room, you'll be able to get out ahead of me."

  "Can't you set the controls so they'll open the doors by the time you get here?"

  Theotormon grunted as if the thought were a new one. "All right Only, you'll have to come out of the room with absolutely no clothes on. You must both be nude and emptyhanded. I'll come out of my room weaponless. We'll both leave at exactly the same time and meet in the corridor that links the two rooms."

  Vala gasped and said, "I thought . . . ! You mean you knew all the tune how to get here ... so that's where the other controls are! And I thought the other end of the corridor was a wall."

  "It won't do you any good to know," Theotormon said. "You can't get out until I let you. Oh, yes, strip Chryseis, too. I don't want you to hide any weapons on her."

  Vala said, "You're not taking any chances, are you? Perhaps you're more intelligent than I thought."

  What was she planning? If she did meet him in the middle of the corridor, she would be helpless against Theotormon's far greater strength. He would attack her the moment she revealed the location of the spacecraft, and she must know that.

  The truth was that Wolff, Luvah, and Theotormon knew where the ship was. Theotormon had pretended ignorance only to seem to give her an advantage. She had to be lured out of the room, otherwise she would never come out. Wolff knew his sister. She would die and take Chryseis with her rather than surrender. To her it was inconceivable that a Lord would keep a promise not to harm her. She had good reason. In fact, Wolff himself, though he never thought of himself as a genuine Lord anymore, was not sure he would have kept his word to her. Certainly, he did not intend that Theotormon adhere to his assurances.

  Then what did she have in mind?

  Theotormon went over the method of conduct with Vala again, pretending that he was not quite sure. Then he deactivated the screen and turned to Wolff and Luvah. Wolff opened the door into the cor­ridor so that he and Luvah could go out ahead of time. As Theotor­mon had said, the corridor linked the two control rooms. Both con­trol rooms and the hall between were in an enclosed unit of fourteen feet-thick metal alloy. The unit could hold any pressure of water and was resistant even to a direct hit by a hydrogen bomb. The interior wall was coated with a substance which would repel the neutrons of a neutron bomb. Urizen had placed the secret control room in this unit, near the main control room for just such situations as this. Anyone who managed to get into the main room would not know that there was an exit to the corridor until part of the seemingly solid wall of the main control room opened.

  The corridor itself, though an emergency convenience, had been furnished as if a reception for Lords were to be held in it. It con­tained paintings, sculptures, and furniture that a Terrestrial billion­aire could not have purchased with all his fortune. A chandelier made from a single carved diamond, weighing half a ton, hung from a huge gold alloy chain. And this was not the most valuable object in the corridor.

  Wolff hid behind a davenport covered with the silky chocolate-and-azure hide of an animal. Luvah concealed himself behind the base of a statue. Theotormon made sure that they were ready and re­turned to the control room to inform Vala that they could now pro­ceed to meet each other as planned. He then pressed the button that operated the door to Vala's room.

  The wall at the other end of the corridor slid upwards. Light poured out of the opening, and Vala stuck her head cautiously around the frame. Theotormon did the same from his door. He stepped out quickly, ready to hurl himself back if she had a weapon. She gave a low laugh and came out of the doorway, her hands held out to show their emptiness. She was naked and magnificent.

  Wolff gave her a glance. He had eyes only for the woman who fol­lowed her. It was his Chryseis, the beautiful huge-eyed nymph with tiger-striped hair. She, too, was unclothed.

  "The Horn of Shambarimen," Theotormon said. "I almost forgot! Where is it?"

  "It is in the control room," Vala replied. "I did not bring it be­cause you told me to be emptyhanded."

  "Go get it, Chryseis," Theotormon said. "But when you return with it, hold it up above your head at arm's length and do not point it at me. If you make a sudden motion with it, I will kill you."

  Vala's laughter filled the corridor. "Are you so suspicious that you suspect even her? She would not hurt you! She is definitely not going to do anything for me!"

  Theotormon did not reply. Instructed by Wolff, he was playing the role of the overly alert Lord to keep Vala from suspecting any treachery. If Theotormon had been too trusting, she would have scented something foul at once.

  Vala and Theotormon then advanced towards each other, taking a step forward slowly and in unison. It was as if they were partners in a formal dance, they moved so stately and in such matching rhythm.

  Wolff crouched and waited. He had taken his suit off so that it would not hinder his movements. The sweat of tension covered his body. Neither he nor Luvah were armed. They had lost all their own weapons before they reached the secret room. And the room, to his dismay, had contained no arms. Apparently, Urizen had not thought it necessary. Or, much more likely, there were weapons hidden be­hind the walls, accessible only to one who knew how to find them. Urizen had not had time to give that information-if he had ever in­tended to do so.

  The plan was to wait until Vala had passed Luvah, hidden on the other side of the hall. When he rushed out behind her, Theotormon would jump her. Wolff would hurl himself from his hiding place and help the other two.

  Vala stopped several feet away from the diamond chandelier. Theotormon also stopped. She said, "Well, my ugly brother, it seems that you have kept your side of the bargain."

  He nodded and said, "So where is the spaceship?"

  He went forward one step in the hope that she, too, would take one and so place herself nearer. Vala stood still, however. Mock­ingly, she said, "The entrance to it is just on the other side of that rose-shaped mirror. You could have gone to it and left me to die-if you had known about it! You witless filth!"

  Theotormon snarled and leaped at her. Luvah came out from behind the statue but bumped into Chryseis. Wolff rose and sped straight at Vala.

  She screamed and held up her right hand, the palm at right angles to her arm, fingers stiffly pointing toward the ceiling. Out of the palm shot an intensely white beam no thicker than a needle. She moved her hand to her left in a horizontal arc. The beam slashed across Theotormon's neck, and his head fell off. For a moment, the body stood upright, blood fountaining upward from his neck. Then he fell forward.

  Wolff whirled like a broken-field runner. He threw himself down on the floor behind Theotormon's feet. Vala, hearing Luvah curse as he recovered from his bump into Chryseis, spun around. Evidently she thought that this was the nearest danger and that she had enough time to deal with Wolff.

  Chryseis had reacted quickly. On seeing the head of the seal-man fall off and roll back behind Theotormon, she had dived for the pro­tection of a statue. Vala's ray took off a chunk of the base of the statue but missed Chryseis. Then Luvah was coming in, head down. Vala leaped adroitly aside and chopped down with the edge of the palm of her left hand. Luvah fell forward on his face, unconscious.

  Why she had not killed him with the tiny beamer implanted in the flesh of her palm was a mystery. P
erhaps she wanted someone to save as a torture victim, in keeping with the psychology of the Lords.

  Wolff was helpless, or so Vala thought. She advanced towards him.

  "You I shall kill now," she said. "You're too dangerous to leave alive for a second longer than necessary."

  "I'm not dead yet," Wolff said. His fingers closed on Theotor­mon's head, and he hurled it at her. He was up on his feet at once and running towards her, knowing that he did not have a chance but hoping that something would happen to deflect her aim long enough.

  She raised her hand to ward off the grisly projectile. The beam split the head in half, but one section continued to fly towards her.

  The ray, directed towards the ceiling momentarily, cut the gold alloy chain. And the half-ton diamond chandelier came down upon her.

  Wolff was still charging while all this occurred. He dived onto the floor to be below her line of fire in case she was still living and could use the hand. She glared up at him, the light not yet gone from her eyes. Her arms and her body were pinned beneath the diamond, from beneath which blood ran.

  "You. . . did it, brother," she gasped.

  Chryseis came out from behind the statue to throw herself into his arms. She clung to him and sobbed. He could not blame her for this, but there were still things to do.

  He kissed her a few times, hugged her, and pushed her away from him.

  "We have to get out while we can," he said. "Push in on the third gargoyle to the left on the upper decoration on that mirror."

  She did so; the mirror swung hi. Wolff put his unconscious brother on his shoulders and started towards the entrance. Chryseis said, "Robert! What about her?"

  He stopped. "What about her?"

  "Are you going to let her suffer like this? It may take a long time before she dies."

  "I don't think so," he said. "Besides, she has it coming."

  "Robert!"

  Wolff sighed. For a moment, he had been a complete Lord again, had become the old Jadawin.

  He put Luvah on the floor and walked over to Vala. She twisted, and her hand came loose, a section of the shorn diamond falling over onto the floor. Wolff leaped at her and caught her hand just as the ray shot forth from the palm. He twisted her hand so violently that the bones cracked. She cried out once with pain before she died.

  Directed by Wolff, the laser beam had half-guillotined her.

  Wolff, Chryseis, and Luvah entered the spaceship. It rose straight up the launching shaft to the very top of the palace. Wolff headed the ship for the exit-gate, hidden in the mountains of the tempusfudger planet. Only then did he have tune to find out how Vala had man­aged to get Chryseis from her bed and out of their world.

  "The hexaculum awoke me," she said, "while you were still sleep­ing. It-Vala's voice-warned me that if I tried to wake you, you would be killed in a horrible way. Vala told me that only by follow­ing her instructions would I prevent your death."

  "You should have known better," he said. "If she had been able to hurt me, she would have done it. But then, I suppose that you were too concerned for me. You did not dare to take the chance that she might be bluffing."

  "Yes. I wanted to cry out, but I was afraid that she might be able to carry out her threats. I was so terrified for you that I was not thinking straight. So I went through the gate she designated, one of those gates that take you to a lower level of our planet. I deactivated the alarms before entering it, as she ordered. Vala was waiting in the cave where our gate took me. She had already set up a gate to take us to this universe. The rest you know."

  Wolff turned the controls over to Luvah so that he could embrace and kiss her. She began to weep, and soon he was weeping, too. His tears were not only from relief for having gotten her back unharmed and relief from the unrelenting strain of the experiences in this world. He wept for his dead brothers and sister. He did not mourn those who had just died, the adults. He mourned for his brothers and sister as the children they had once been and for the love they had had for each other as children. He grieved for the loss of what they might have been.

 


 

  Farmer, Phillip Jose, World of Tiers 02 - The Gates of Creation

 


 

 
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