An Adhara Space Station Story
By P. Candice Goddard
“Are those sausages for sale?” Ade-Kazam asked noticing a pair of twins, a small Faunian boy and girl with a basket of sausages held between them as they stood innocently in the entrance hall of the Lesser Chapel of I-AM.
“Yes” The children said in union, smiling. Hardly missing a beat the little girl took a price placard seeming out of nowhere and held it up for the man to see. The sign read, ‘GOURMET SAUSAGES 5 ZODIACS EACH’. “How many would you like?” the girl asked.
|Hardly missing a beat the little girl took a price placard seeming out of nowhere and held it up for the man to see.|
“Give me one,” Ade-Kazam said pulling a five zodiac notes from his wallet and handing it to the little girl who passed him a sausage wrapped in paper in exchange. “Enjoy” she said smiling and at this her brother smiled too.
“Thank you,” Ade-Kadam replied dismissively as he made his way into the chapel. The funeral service was due to get underway in a few minutes.
Ade-Kazam took a bite of his sausage as he looked around trying to find a familiar face in the sea of mourners. Like himself and the late Malanie Jones, most of the people in attendance were from Thoth but he wasn’t on particularly close terms with any one that he could see so far. He was just about to slip into a pew at the back of the chapel when he heard a voice calling him. “Ade, over here.”
|Ade-Kazam took a bite of his sausage as he looked around trying to find a familiar face in the sea of mourners.|
Looking around Ade-Kazam saw his friend Morgana waving at him from a pew near the front. She was beckoning him over to join her and their mutual friend Greta. Ade-kazam took another bite of his sausage and made his way over to his friends.
“I can't believe that she's gone,” Greta said with a sniffle as she took a bite of the sausage she was half way through.
“Do you know how it happened?” Ade-Kazam asked. “I tried to find out, but all I’ve been able to discover is that there was some sort of accident.”
Morgana took a deep breath and inhaling slowly she said, “It was a fire. Malania’s house burned down.” Malania had been her cousin so Morgana had a little more access to information about the cause of death than the others. Still there were some questions that she herself didn't have the answers to.
Ade-Kazam and Greta looked at each other in surprise. They had both travelled to Adhara for the funeral. Neither could afford to live aboard the luxurious space station so how was it possible that someone who could afford to live there, albeit in the cheapest residential zone, had been allowed to burn to death in their house?
“I think it was because of that…” Morgana replied giving her friends a knowing look. “She was obviously targeted. Do you really believe that it’s possible for a house to burn down on this space station? Even if it really was possible, you’ve both visited Malania’s house, did you notice anything about it?”
Greta shrugged, the house had seemed quite ordinary when she had last visited, she couldn’t think of what Morgana was getting at.
Morgana sighed, “Malania’s house was deep inside the forest near The Black Hotel. I went to the site when I arrived yesterday. I just had to see the place where my cousin died.”
Ade-Kazam rolled his eyes and took another bite of his sausage. To him it seemed more likely that the real reason why Morgana had gone to have a look at the house was that she was due to inherit. Morgana had been Malania’s only family and her slight wealth had always been a source of antagonism between the two cousins. He found it hard to believe that Morgana was so distraught at her cousin’s death that she had rushed over to mourn at the place where she had died. She was envious of her cousin because even though she worked for the Alliance and should have been the richer of the two her cousin still had more money than her having inherited their family’s wealth.
“When I arrived at the house, the place had been razed to the ground but the trees just a few feet away from her door were untouched,” Morgana continued, apparently oblivious to her friend’s eye rolling. “It simply shouldn’t have been possible.”
|“I can't believe that she's gone,” Greta said with a sniffle as she took a bite of the sausage she was half way through.|
Greta looked at Morgana with a puzzled expression on her face, “So what do you think happened?” she asked before popping the last of her sausage into her mouth.
Morgana leaned closer and beckoned for the other two to do the same. When she was sure that they wouldn’t be overheard she whispered, “I think she died because of the cause.” It seemed as if there was something else Morgana wasn’t mentioning but when she didn’t say any more Greta and even Ade-Kazam looked at her fearfully. Now that Morgana had mentioned the cause, Malania’s accidental death seemed more sinister.
The cause Morgana was referring to was the efforts of a small group of Thothians including themselves, to effect enormous social change within the Alliance by having the Reaper’s Rule repealed. The reaper’s rule was a decision made by Queen Atropos I of Styx, two thousand years previously which prevented the death of any individual under the age of twenty-one. The rule wasn’t a legally binding Alliance law but rather a rule that the reapers from the asteroid Styx were forced to obey causing actual immortality for anyone under the age of twenty-one years old.
Malania had been the secret financial backer for most of the action taken by the Association for the Liberation of Life group of which all three were members. They had repetitively campaigned for the rule to be repealed by the current queen of Styx, Atropos II. claiming that the law went against the wishes of I-Am and was also cruel and unusual. After all whilst youths under 21 couldn’t die they could still suffer pain from injury and illness.
The A.L.O.L. had presented themselves as altruistic but in reality their motives were selfish. They wanted children to be able to die so that they could eat them. The Thothians were after all a race of sorcerers and witches who had practiced blood sacrifice and ritual cannibalism dozens of centuries in the distant past before joining the Alliance. There were some on Thoth who wanted to go back to the old ways and Malania had been one of them.
“I don’t think anyone could have found out,” Ade-Kazam insisted, carefully making sure not to mention anything incriminating. “Malania is the one who taught us that secrecy was essen…” Ade-Kazam stopped abruptly as a noise told him that someone was sitting in the pew behind him. Looking around he saw that it was the Fauntian twins who had been selling sausages at the entrance to the temple.
“Did you like your sausage?” The little girl asked smiling at Ade-Kazam. Beside her, her brother was also smiling innocently.
Ade-Kazam held up the remnants of his sausage, “Yes, it was very nice,” he replied, forcing a smile. There was something about the way that the Faunian twins were looking at him that made Ade-Kazam uncomfortable.
“Oh, that’s good.” The little girl said smiling even wider. “I’m glad you liked it.”
Nodding, Ade-Kazam turned back to face his friends. He was just about to say something when a bell chimed notifying the assembled people that the funeral service was about to begin. Shuffling in his seat Ade-Kazam quickly popped the last bit of sausage into his mouth and forgot the sinister feeling that had just started to wash over him.
The funeral of Malania Jones was short and bleak. There were few mourners and the mystery of her death lingered over the service as the priest droned on about life in The Valley. All too soon the service was over, with the few remnants of Malania being taken away to be turned into a memorial jewel that Morgana would be presented with the next day.
As Ade-Kazam, Greta and Morgana slowly made their way out of the temple, Ade-Kazam noticed the Faunian twins were also leaving. For the first time he questioned why the children were at the funeral instead of at school and why they weren’t accompanied by an adult. When he had first seen them at the entrance of the temple, Ade-Kazam hadn’t paid much attention to the appearance of the children. He had simply dismissed them as street vendors and thought no more about it until he turned around and found them seated behind them at the service.
Now that he paid attention to their attire, Ade-Kazam was even more puzzled than before. The children were wearing the school uniform of the premier school on the space station, Adhara Academy. That meant that they must came from one of the most powerful or wealthy families in the Alliance, so why had they been selling gourmet sausages outside of the Lesser Chapel of I-Am?
Ade-Kazam was pondering these things when he came to an abrupt stop. The entrance of the Chapel was blocked by a squad of security officers. At the head of them stood Captain Roxzamora Thanyu, a short Bim woman whose diminutive stature belied her enormous strength. Captain Roxzamora, head of Adhara Security was the strongest being in the Alliance and she was looking directly at him with the penetrating gaze of a true predator.
|At the head of them stood Captain Roxzamora Thanyu, a short Bim woman whose diminutive stature belied her enormous strength.|
Ade-Kazam swallowed hard, looking at Greta and Morgana who were beside him. Their faces displayed the same terrified expression. The Association of the Liberation of Life’s sinister scheme had been discovered. They were about to be arrested. Without thinking Ade-Kazam took an involuntary step backwards. He looked around desperately seeking some way to escape but on every side he saw security officers closing in. Finally Ade-Kazam gave up and prepared to be taken into custody.
As if reading his mind Captain Thanyu stepped forward with a look of grim determination on her face. “Axel und Adele, by the law of Alliance I hereby place you under arrest for the murder of Malania Jones,” she said looking at the pair of twins in front of her.
Ade-Kazam’s jaw dropped open and for the second time that day he took a step backwards as he looked in horror at the twins in front of him. They were so tiny and innocent looking, how could they possibly have murdered Malania.
The twins looked at each other and Ade-Kazam saw a sinister smile flicker across their cherub faces. “You will never take us alive!” they exclaimed and breaking apart they dashed in different directions each trying to get away.
Afterwards Ade-Kazam could never be sure of what he had seen happen next. One minute he was watching in a daze as the twins were dashing through pews at the back of the church, the next they were back in the central aisle being held by Roxy. The captain had moved so fast that Ade-Kazam had blinked and apparently missed it. Perhaps it was because he was still reeling from the accusation that his friend had been murdered by the seemingly innocent children.
“No! It was self defence!” the little boy, whose name was Axel insisted straining to free his shoulder from Roxy’s iron grasp.
“What do you mean?” Roxy asked releasing her grip on the children. By now the door to the Chapel had been closed and the other security officers had spread out equidistant to each other so that there was no possible escape route should the children try to run again.
“The witch was trying to eat us,” Adele explained quickly cutting in before her brother could speak again.
Ade-Kazam nearly fainted on the spot when a murmur went up from the few other mourners who had attended the funeral. They were mostly from Thoth and many were aware of the real motives behind the ALOL’s activism. When he had first seen the security officers at the Chapel, he had believed that he and his friends were about to be arrested but when it appeared that the officers were there for other reasons he had started to relax despite his surprise at the terrible revelation that Malania’s death hadn’t been merely a terrible accident. Now his neck was about to be back on the chopping block.
“That’s nonsense,” Morgana snapped with perfect disdain. “Why would my cousin try to eat you? How could she? Children are virtually immortal!”
For a second Ade-Kazam thought that he saw a smirk pass across Captain Thanyu face as she looked at Morgana but when he glanced in her direction again the Captain’s expression was one of curiosity. “Why would you think that, Adele? Ms Jones couldn’t eat you, after all children are immortal,” the Captain confirmed. There was something about the way that she spoke that sent a shiver down Ade-Kazam’s spine and he felt his throat tightening. He silently hoped that Morgana would let the matter go. After all even she must see by now that this was a trap. Why had Captain Thanyu chosen to arrest the murderous children at the funeral of their victims? Why hadn’t they been taken into custody before?
“You horrible children killed my cousin and burned down her house.” Morgana screeched taking a step forward. “Now you dare to make up lies about her?”
“No, we are telling the truth!” Axel replied angrily pulling a book from the basket in which the sausages had been held. “Look Roxy, this is proof that the witch wanted to eat us. She wrote recipes for children in here.”
|Captain Roxzamora took the thick notebook from the little boy’s hand...|
Morgana’s mouth snapped shut and she didn’t say another word. As Ade-Kazam took a peek at Greta he knew that she was just as surprised as himself. After all of Malania’s insistence’s about the need for secrecy was it possible that she had really had a book of recipes for children?
Captain Roxzamora took the thick notebook from the little boy’s hand and flicked though the pages, her expression darkening as she read. When she was finished she looked up and her gaze landed right on Ade-Kazam’s face. “It seems that the Alliance for the Liberation of Life was only a cover for some kind of Thothian child eater organisation,” Roxy said grimly. “Ms Jones wrote a list of the members, and the activities they had taken to ensure that the Reaper’s Rule would be abolished.”
Another murmur went up from the crowd and all around him Ade-Kazam heard the shuffling of feet. Malania had been one of a select few people who were allowed to know the identities of all of the members of their group. Several of the other mourners at the funeral must be members that he knew nothing about. Now he knew why the Captain had chosen to arrest the children here. It was all a ploy to get as many of them in one go as possible. She had used the funeral to conduct a sting. Even though he knew that there was no way to escape Ade-Kazam couldn’t help looking around helplessly. All around him the security guards were closing in on people he had never imagined were part of his group whilst the few who clearly weren’t looked on with righteous indignation and disgust.
“I’m afraid that we’ll have to take you all to HQ for questioning,” Captain Thanyu informed them almost apologetically as she maintained the facade that this hadn’t been a trap. “Bring them all!” she ordered and with that she turned and began to walk away.
Ade-Kazam felt a pair of strong hands grip him by the arm and he was muscled towards the now open entrance of the Chapel by a Ogian security officer. Ade-Kazam was powerless to resist as the giant pulled him along but taking one last look back he saw something that made his blood run cold. Morgana was standing to the side talking to Captain Roxzamora. She wasn’t under arrest and it was clear that the two knew each other. Ade-Kazam could come to only one conclusion. She was a snitch. Ade-Kazam thought over what he knew about Malania and Morgana’s relationship. They had been cousin’s and Malania had been the wealthier of the two. Morgana had always been envious of her cousin’s wealth and ability to live on Adhara Space Station. He had never considered it before but Morgana worked for the Alliance. How could she be involved with an organisation likes theirs? If her involvement was ever found out she would lose not only her career but her life. Was it possible that she had only pretended to be involved to gather evidence against them? When Morgana had stated that she visited the site of the death he had assumed that she went thee survey her new property but if it had been burned down what would the point of that be? She must have gone there for some other reason? Perhaps looking for evidence of her cousin's crimes.
|Greta had broken free of her capturers and was rushing towards Morgana|
Just as this thought was filtering into Ade-Kazam’s mind he saw a surge of energy explode from Greta who was being led out alongside him. Greta was a silent but deadly person, not saying a word, appearing to be almost timid but quietly brooding. She must have come to the same conclusion as him upon seeing Morgana with the Captain and the betrayal had pushed her over the edge. One minute Greta had broken free of her capturers and was rushing towards Morgana in a swirl of energy, the next minute a meaty thud brought the episode to an abrupt end.
Greta’s broken corpse slid off the wall where she had been thrown by a flick of Captain Thanyu’s wrist. Ade-Kazam felt his bowels threatening to loosen as he saw Captan Thanyu’s glare directed at him. All pretence of innocence gone and annoyance clear on her face. She looked as if she was waiting for him to try something. Ade-Kazam held down his head making sure to avoid the Captain’s eyes. He didn’t know what the future held but he wasn’t willing to bring his life to a close being swatted against the wall like a fly.
“Did you like the sausages?” A voice asked from just outside of the chapel. Looking into the bright daylight of the street lit by Adhara’s artificial sun, Ade-Kazam wasn’t sure who was speaking but it sounded like one of the killer children. He didn’t reply. He just wanted to get to the safety of a prison cell as soon as possible.
“Did you like the sausage?” the voice asked again this time a little more insistently. “You ate it all. You must have liked it. Did you like it? Tell us. Did you like the sausage?” A variation of the question was repeated over and over again in quick succession as both children spoke at the same time.
“Yes I liked it. So what if I did?” Ade-Kazam snapped when he could stand it no more.
A joyful chuckling was heard and then one of the children said, “Good! I’m glad you liked your friend.”
Ade-Kazam wasn’t sure that he understood what he had heard but he didn’t care. He had come to Adhara to mourn a friend, seen another die and been betrayed by the third. Now he was on his way to prison. The ramblings of two children who would probably get away with murder by claiming self defence didn’t matter or so he thought until he heard what they said next.
“You wanted to eat children but instead you ate an old lady. Why do you think only her bones were left? Ha ha! The sausages were made from your evil friend. So, did you like the sausage?
“WHAT?!” Ade-Kazam screamed in disgust and anger as he was dragged out into the daylight.