Smoke rose high over blackened ruins of a great city. Adela inhaled air full of horrible burning smell. She knew how the city looked before it was destroyed. It was beautiful. And she remembered how she went with a crowd from temple to temple praying to the Guardian Spirits to teach their people how to save their home. All in vain…
Her city… Once a beautiful neo-Gothic city, it laying in ruins. From all of its quarters columns of fire and smoke risen to the heavy clouds. Explosions, sirens and gunshots. own on the street, surrounded by gazing at the sky skeletons of stone buildings, three soldiers in blue uniforms pushed with their guns a woman in tattered brown cloak. Her blond hair disheveled, large brown eyes were full of fear. At the end of the street a dark, almost untouched by the bombing, stood a squat building with lancet windows. The soldiers and their prisoner went inside, the gates closed. It was a huge prison. Dark, full of shouts, groans and swearing. Many prisoners stood and stared at the blue lights of the force
fields. Some looked mockingly, some with hate, some with lust, and some with cold indifference.
With the words “General, another one” guards pushed the girl in a small room, where behind the table sat a chubby-cheeked man in a red coat, white shirt undone. He looked at the new arrival with bewilderment and contempt.
– The business on the Winterside is very bad as they sent THIS to get the Rose! Your name and rank.
– Adela Bruna The Tiny, servant of the Temple of the Second Stage.
– Of course. Let us get to the point. Where your lot hides the Rose?
Adela looked at him, uncomprehending.
– W-what Rose?
The general pointed to a middle-aged man, hunched over in a chair against
the wall, the brown cloak, similar to her own, stained with mud.
– As I’ve already explained to your “friend” from Bruno, Kevin: you take me to
your stash- or we play my favorite game, the prison roulette – as long as you keep your secret, or till something irreparable happen.
The girl and the man in brown looked at each other. She vaguely recognized
him. The man shrugged slightly – obviously also not knowing what was going on. The eyes and stiff posture showed his anxiety.
The general shook his head.
– New prisoners are quite dumb now. There are two hundred convicts here, including the most inveterate criminals. Maniacs, murderers, rapists, thugs, just crazy. Every night I lock you in a cell with this rabble, and no point in screaming for guards.
– Listen, – Kevin tried to improve the situation – you see, we are not the ones who you think we are…
Grinning, General pressed the button and the guards entered the room again.
– Take him out of my sight. In the thirty-fifth cell to fellow Ruberos
– I hope they’re dreaming to have fun with a Bruno. And for you, girl, I came up with something even better.
He jumped up, rummaged in the closet and pulled out some shiny pale lilac cloth.
-Your new color!
She had to put the dress on. She looked in the mirror. The girl on other
side was much thinner and possibly shorter. She felt disgusted at a thought
of wearing the wrong color.
Five people crowded in the dark small chamber. General dragged Adele, now in a
lavender colored dress, he opened to the force field, suddenly hugged, kissed and pushed her in the cell
Force field closed in the blue glow right behind her.
– Wait here, my dear, I’ll send for you – he said, laughing.
Adela stood for a few seconds, stunned, then turned to the rest of the pri
soners. Imposing elderly woman in a cherry colored cloak sternly wagged her finger.
– Look, sisters! Cowardly traitor Bruno pretending to be a Lilatsena. Debauchery and perversion. Oh why can’t I see stones to punish the sinner. Indeed, the end of the world is
General on the other side of the field turned and walked away, rubbing his han
ds and chuckling.
The guards in blue uniform brought Adela from the cell. Her look bec
ame even more miserable,tired, red, swollen eyes full of despair and badly scratched hands.
– the General said that if you not answering his questions he will give
you the Black one straight away. There is a rumor that he killed at least hundred
men with his bare hands–just for fun.You better cooperate,- said one of the guards
– I do not know anything … – Adela begged.
– Our business is to warn you, girl, – he sighed.
When they passed one of the chambers, a huge muscular black man in a bright purple suit jumped out of the darkness to the force field, so close, that around his face danced the sparks. Adela screamed and stepped back. The prisoner looked angrily, licking his lips.
– No, the Black one is not this – continued the “nice” guard.–The Black one is a stranger to The colors of the Law. Tomorrow morning he will be annihilated, so that he has nothing to lose.
Adela’s big eyes opened even wider. There was only one prisoner in the next cell, sitting on the bed.
The girl was pushed through the force field again. She stood motionless and barely breathing. The stranger turned out to be a dark-haired unshaven man in a black suit. He stood up.
– Great Branimir Ruber the Second plays his roulette again?–he had a deep voice with a slight accent.
He deliberately made the word “Second” louder, apparently suggesting that the general is
Adela remained standing like paralyzed. The Black One came close to her, exam
ining her with narrowed eyes. Suddenly she heard his voice directly in her head, this time without an accent:
“I will play a maniac, and you, for your own good, play a scarred girl please.”
Slowly walking around her, he continued aloud.
– You do not like a Lilatsena. Maybe a Cruda? Or Pallida? You see, I begin to understand your castes.
– Oh, I love Brunas. The second stage?
Her voice still trembling, but fear began to recede.
“The device in my mind helps our mental communication. It is convenient when all the walls have eyes and ears. If you want something to tell me, think clearly, in the words”
“Who are you?” she tried.
He shook his head and said aloud, mockingly:
– For you, baby, it is better not to know who I am.
“You can call me Lee.Or Lee Gallainus Ferrer –
this is what your officials had written in my visa – this may calm you down”
She almost beamed when he heard “Gallainus.” The word brought safety and warmth.
“Why are you there?” – He continued.
“This general thinks I know where some sort of Rose is hidden”.
The prisoner frowned and stopped.
– Let’s go sit down, little one.
He pushed Adela to the bed and sat down next studying her intently. When she dared to look at him, a voice rang out again.
“I have to ask you something. You see, I am in trouble. If you ever happen to get out of here alive, I want you to send a short message. Lives of many people throughout the galaxy depend on that message being received.”
She swallowed. He looked honest enough.
“Remembers carefully: 473000a Serrazur 79.The parcel was sent to the programmer.”
He got up, rubbed his forehead and began pacing from corner to corner.
She pulled her torn cloak around her, still looking into his eyes as if
to say something, but not daring for a while.
“What does this mean?” – She forgot and almost spoke aloud, but he put his finger to his lips.
His eyes looked sad.
You will be safer without knowing. They plan to shot me and many other prisoners tomorrow. If the general suspects who I am, he will not just annihilate, but question me. And, perhaps, you too.”
A group of guards went to the force field.
-We’ve been promised a show, – shouted one.
“Sorry, have to carry on being a clown
He rushed towards them.