Rebellion – part two
Sobek, the senior Khaz in charge of production, sat in his command center on the first level looking at the security monitors. His senses told him something was not right, yet all appeared normal. His large black eyes remained expressionless. The Drana guards noticed the fetid stench from his frail grey body. (To be in the same room with a Khaz when we are worried is an experience definitely to be avoided!)
Our species make up for our physical weakness by planting fear into the minds of others. But, of all the miners, the Drana and Nephile prisoners were the only two species my brothers were unable to influence, so other means of persuasion were used. Spontaneous crucifixions and the copious use of discharge whips, plus expulsion onto the planet’s frozen surface, for now kept them in check. Since Sobek had assumed the role of leader of the Khaz guards, things had been tightened up. His predecessor Nemet had been too soft! The stench was now so bad Sobek’s two guards quietly left the room. Guarding one of us was just as easy from outside the door!
Hoetep had been busy clearing the debris in the ever-growing cavern on level eight. Watching the guards’ movements while he threw the heavy rocks into a large trolley, he noticed the security cameras were unusually active. As the cavern expanded, places to dodge out of view for brief moments were rapidly decreasing. Looking for a niche to store items there was impossible now the sides of the cavern were smooth. Nevertheless, Akhen and Khan would need any intelligence he could get his hands on. Gradually he worked his way over to the nearest Drana guards. Maybe he might pick up a snippet of information. He was in luck! They were both standing with their backs to him. The sergeant was talking about the consignment due on the next cargo-ship. (The Drana were going to turn the cave into an arsenal!)
Seti was on his way up to level five in the turbo-lift. He had been sent to collect more picks and phosphor lights. When the door opened, in his haste he knocked Serket to the floor. Serket’s screams brought the nearest Drana guards running. When Seti woke in agony on the floor of the punishment cell, he knew he was in big trouble. Sobek had seen the entire incident on the security monitors. While he knew it was an accident, he could not let it simply pass. It would be seen as weakness on his part to forgive and forget. The unfortunate Nephile’s fate was inevitable. The entire mining population would witness Seti’s punishment.
The large cavern on level eight was filled to capacity with miners and guards. Sobek and his personal guard went to the hastily erected platform in front of the assembled crowd. Akhen gave Khan a questioning glance. Khan shrugged his shoulders in response. Sobek raised his scrawny hand for silence as two guards dragged the manacled prisoner towards the platform. Mentep let out an anguished cry as he saw Seti’s broken body being dragged onto the platform. The miners stood in stunned silence as Sobek handed the discharge whip to Serket. The guards tied Seti to a frame and ripped his shirt, baring his back. With the first dozen strokes, the flesh on Seti’s back began to melt. With each successive stroke from the vicious whip, he entered levels of pain beyond imagination. Serket was quickly exhausted and dropped the whip. Sobek motioned to the guard to cut Seti down, and pointing to a beam overhead, he ordered the guards to crucify him. An angry murmur arose. The nervous guards aimed their disruptor rifles at the nearest ranks of miners. By now, the murmur reached a full-blooded cry for revenge from the miners. My brothers, Sobek, and Serket, and their personal guard, quickly retreated from the cavern and headed for the control room on the first level.
With a rallying cry, Khan launched the attack. The guards fired at the advancing ranks of miners, killing many, seriously wounding countless others. In the confusion, Mentep gently picked up Seti’s body while Akhen, Manouf, and Hoetep stood guard. By now, a bloody battle had broken out. By sheer weight of numbers, the miners drove the guards back. The revolt had begun! The miners seized disrupter rifles from fallen guards and began a struggle for control of the mine. It took thirty-six hours to liberate all but the first level of the mine.
My brothers barricaded themselves inside Sobek’s control room. His personal guard panicked and disappeared on the way up to the first level. Kasim and Mentep gained control of the communications centre cutting off any hope of reinforcement or escape; for the first time in his long evil life, Sobek felt alone and vulnerable! By the time Akhen and Khan arrived outside the control room, the battle was over. Many were dead on both sides. The end had come with the surrender of the remaining guards.
The last remaining act of the rebellion was about to begin. Akhen shot out the door control panel with his disrupter. The miners forced the door open and dragged the terrified occupants out into the corridor, where an angry crowd baying for blood surrounded them! “Take them back to the punishment cell,” Akhen ordered, as the last of the Khaz on the planet were rounded up.
The next day the whole population of the mine assembled in the cavern on level eight. Khan stood on the platform and called for order. The former guards were marched in and stood to attention awaiting their fate. Akhen sat for a long time on the edge of the platform then slowly dropping to his feet; he walked along the ranks looking at each former guard in turn. By now, an eerie silence had descended on the cavern. Joining Khan on the platform, Akhen issued an ultimatum. “Join the rebellion or die!” To a man, the guards swore allegiance to the rebel cause. Despite their oaths of allegiance, it would take a long time before the miners would fully trust them.
“Bring in the Khaz!” Khan ordered. The newly sworn rebels quickly returned with my brothers in manacles. The assembled rebels had only one sentence for the unspeakable treatment meted out by the Khaz—expulsion to the outer surface of the planet! The sentence was duly carried out. Sobek looked out across the barren surface of the planet for the last time as the effects of hypothermia and the poisonous atmosphere overcame his frail grey body. All around him lay the lifeless corpses of his brothers.