Terrible Shadow, Part 7

“All is ready, Captain,” said Shen Lodoria. He was Ahsken Lorovic’s chief assistant, both in the ISS and in Fangalin. He was in his early 30s, and short, with close-cropped black hair and a short mustache. Despite his lack of height, there wasn’t an ounce of fat on his frame. He moved like a leopard, quick and powerful. His family had been close to Lorovic’s for many years, and their relationship was akin to father-and-son, despite the fact that they were fairly close in age.

“Excellent, Lieutenant,” Lorovic replied, returning Lodoria’s salute. They were in Lorovic’s office in the Senate Hall. All morning long, Lorovic had been getting ready to leave his office for the last time. He had to leave most of his things behind, because it would be too suspicious if he cleaned out his office, but he had managed to pack a few small, especially meaningful items. Strangely, even though his position was just a cover, he felt like he would miss this office once it was gone. He’d been Director of Security for the Senate for five years, and aside from the politics, he’d enjoyed the work. But it was time to move on to bigger and better things.

He stood up and motioned for Lodoria to follow him. It was time to leave. He would go down to the lower levels and arm the bomb, and then once he and the other Fangalin officers on duty in the Senate Hall were clear of the blast radius, he would detonate it. Then he and his fellow officers would leave Trisitania in a ship that was equipped with override codes to get them past the planetary defenses. They would then go to Fangalin space, their role in the opening salvo of the war complete. All over the Empire, Fangalin agents were preparing to seize provinces and military units as soon as the Senate was destroyed. It was Lorovic’s job to set that in motion.

The bomb itself was located in an unused storage closet deep beneath the Hall. It had been fairly easy to find a storage closet that wasn’t recorded anywhere. The Senate Hall was over a thousand years old, and massive. There was a vast labyrinth of corridors and storage rooms underneath it, much of which had been forgotten over the past millennium. Lorovic had little reason to suspect that anyone would ever see, much less enter the closet where the bomb was located, but to make sure, he had changed the security code on the closet door to something that only he knew.

He and Lodoria reached the closet, where two ISS officers/Fangalin operatives were standing guard. Both of them were dressed in full battle armor, and armed with assault rifles. Lorovic had no intention of allowing anyone who wasn’t part of Fangalin into that closet. One of the guards saluted Lorovic as he approached.

“Everything is ready, Captain,” the guard said.

“Very good, Sergeant,” Lorovic responded, returning the guard’s salute. It felt good to finally be using their true ranks. Technically, they were still supposed to be using their ISS titles, for security purposes, but Lorovic and his men were anxious for the charade to be over, and besides, in a couple of hours it wouldn’t matter anymore.

Lorovic and Lodoria entered the closet, where there were two more heavily armed soldiers standing guard. As a security precaution, the bomb had to be armed manually, and only Lorovic had the code to do it. In addition, once it was armed, it could only be detonated with a remote detonator, which was in one of Lorovic’s coat pockets. Once arming the bomb, if Lorovic was captured, he had orders to detonate it immediately, no matter what the circumstances.

The bomb itself was gigantic, as befit a bomb with enough power to completely destroy one of the largest and oldest buildings in the galaxy. It was a type of bomb called a Nexus rupturing bomb. The Nexus was the energy that held the universe together. It was infinite and all-pervasive. A Nexus rupturing bomb was designed to exactly what its name indicated: disrupt and unravel the Nexus itself, leading to destructive power on a catastrophic scale. This bomb was just powerful enough to destroy the Senate Hall, but it was theoretically possible to build one with enough power to obliterate an entire planet. Such an awful weapon had never actually been constructed, though.

All he had to do to arm the bomb was punch in a passcode, and in a few seconds, it was done. He felt in his coat pocket for the detonator. Soon, he thought to himself. All 336 senators were in the Senate Hall now, as well as their aides and much of their staffs. In addition, most of the leaders of the Imperial bureaucracy were in the Hall, and most of the top military officers, and several provincial governors. Once the bomb went off, all of those people would be dead.

He stood up and turned to leave, but just as he reached the door, the sound of gunfire could be heard from outside. He quickly gestured to the men with him, and they just as quickly took cover with their assault rifles aimed at the door. He and Lodoria ducked down behind a pile of rubbish and pulled out their sidearms.

After a few seconds, the gunfire ceased, and the door slid open. Lorovic’s heart sank. As he was the only person who knew the code for this room, there was no way that somebody ranked lower than him would be able to open it. But somebody of a higher rank could override the code. As soon as the door opened, there was a deafening roar of gunfire, and both of the guards in the room quickly died. There was the sound of many feet rushing into the room, and then Lorovic’s suspicions were confirmed.

“Well, well, well,” said Dren Folmor, Master of the ISS, “I thought you were up to no good, Lorovic, but a bomb? Fascinating. This news will be very interesting to Senator Drahzen. He might even promote me for unmasking a traitor. This is turning out to be a very good day after all.”

To be continued…

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