4. Horus

January 19, 2007

Horus spotted the Enforcers. Two women and a male adjuvant in traditional face-masks and kurta-churidar circled to entrap the eta youth Nadsar.

Horus del-omegaGaul watched the ballet pensively, sinking back into the darker recesses just inside the entrance to the Acropolian Thermae. His hand reached for the taeson derringer hidden in his jacket.

Seeing the assassins also, Nadsar froze. For a breathless moment, it looked as if the boy might let himself be taken. Then, perhaps by instinct, the etayouth backed into the stream of people diverting into the baths. Horus watched as the boy surrounded himself amongst a group of happily oblivious schoolchildren. He spied the surprise and frustration in the Enforcers’ bearing.

Nadsar casually slipped into the Thermae. The Enforcers pursued. Horus followed, unnoticed.

The Morning Constitutional busied the Acropolian Thermae. Practitioners offered prayer, cleansed the body and then ate a small meal before continuing their day. Rather than brave the mob massing outside, many visitors taking the Constitutional gathered to watch coverage on enormous imagers of the Parliamentary in special session. A major political drama was being staged and the capitol — not to mention all of Aideena — was consumed with it.

The traffic swept Nadsar through the dining hall, pass the dressing cubicles and down into the cavernous gymnasiums with their ancient mineral pools. Horus discretely tracked the eta boy and his pursuers.

Sorted circumstance had brought Horus to this present crossroads. Horus’ thoughts raced the details.

He was bonded to a woman whose devious nature had discovered a discrepancy in seemingly unrelated facts. Horus’ special services demanded he travel to Playa Hinom, enclave of the House of eta and one particular former Guild-boss, Consul Edmund etaSade. A trail of deception and bribery led him back to Court-at-Columbia, landing in a part of the mega-metropolis he never knew — never imagined — existed.

Horus’ heart went out to the eta youth he trailed. He had seen firsthand what the boy was fighting to escape and it’s chilled even Horus’ jaded sensibilities.

He could be Nadsar. Worst, Nadsar could all too easily become Horus. Horus could easily see Nadsar’s brave reckless qualities transformed, given to the most demeaning and dishonorable of crimes and pressed into service for the vilest purposes.

Horus knew within himself was the capacity to be a good person. He knew he could do justice to the House of omega and the del clans. He knew he could win the love of family and a just woman — or man. But no, not this day, and not with the duty he had been commanded to perform.

Two of the Enforcers fell behind, losing their way in the schools of bathers and confusing maze of gymnasiums.

Horus spied that Nadsar was searching for an exit while keeping himself around as many people as possible. Horus kept him well in sight. He knew these baths. He had eaten and relaxed in sauna on several occasions at Thermae. Many unsavory plans had been devised in its eternal pools.

Then, Horus anticipated a careless maneuver. Within a few series of turns Nadsar unwittingly sped toward centuries-old catacombs and corridors that dead-ended into chambers flooded now by the Bay.

Horus slipped through a barricade, passed a service tunnel and emerged in a narrow dark passageway on the other side. A heartbeat later, around the corner bolted a slender figure. Horus drew the taeson from its holster and, seeing the weapon, Nadsar startled to an immediate stop.

Eyes locked. The eta boy sunk back. His face washed pale.

Horus leveled the taeson squarely. Nadsar shook and his knees began to buckle. Then, surprisingly, his face flushed with pain and anger. He lunged for Horus.

The taeson fired. A silent flash of green enveloped the passageway.

Nadsar spun in time to see a shadowed woman collapse. Her face-mask cracked as she hit the stone floor and a taeson bounced from her hand. Blood spread from beneath the Enforcer.

Nadsar spun back to Horus. The male, perhaps a few years his senior, lowered his weapon. Nadsar tried to speak but no words would come out.

“The people you think are your friends have betrayed you,” said Horus with clear careful urgency. “Trust me if you want to live.”



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