DEATH IN THE ROYAL GARDENS

Neptune stopped short at the end of the hedge-lined maze and peered into the garden. A thick mist hung in the air, partially obscuring her view. She took in a deep breath. The cool, moist air filled her lungs and helped her focus. A Wardon assassin, who only minutes ago made a failed attempt on Queen Moreen of Zatoks’ life, hid somewhere in the walled paradise.

Neptune leaned into the 10-foot greenery for cover as she listened for him in the hopes he would betray his position. She heard the lapping water of the center fountain and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, but nothing else. Trying to get a better bearing, Neptune noticed the broken stems and scattered petals of the queen’s prized illuminating roses to her right, almost showing her the way to her enemy. Although barely visible, she knew there was a large statue of a horse close to the trampled flower bed. She dashed from the safety of the hedges to the statue. As she rushed to her destination, blue streaks of light came at her through the mist about 40 feet away from her cutting chunks off the statue and the wall behind it.

Neptune smiled. She knew right where he was. She gripped her Ks-99 laser and brought it up to her chest. “Come out,” she said in Wardonese. “Come out, there’s no escape!”

Her demands were met with more laser fire. She ducked behind the now crumbling horse and returned his fire. The Wardon shouted at her, his voice indignant and confident. “After I kill you, I will go back and kill the queen!” He yelled.

Neptune’s eyebrows raised involuntarily. Did he really think he had a chance of escaping? “Come out now and I won’t kill you,” she lied.

“You think you’re all so smart, smarter than the Wardons, but you’re not,” he spat. “It was easy for me to get through your security and get into the palace walls.”

His words disturbed Neptune. How did he get in anyway? How did he, a classic Wardon — a short, bald being with grey skin and V-Shaped eyebrows — ever get onto the planet’s surface let along into the palace? Neptune shook her head as if to free her mind of the question. Her mission was to kill the Wardon. She’d leave the security breach to someone else.

Neptune got down on her stomach and into the soft, fragrant grass. A large urn stood only a few feet away from her. If she could get there, she would have a better vantage point in which to take the Wardon out. She crawled to to the urn, but just as she reached it, more laser blasts came her way. This time when the laser shot took a piece of the urn, it also got her in the shoulder.

Neptune suppressed the urge to cry out as the explosion of pain in her shoulder momentarily overtook her. She sat with her back on the cold stone surface of the urn and involuntarily reached for her shoulder. When she brought her hand back, she saw it was soaked in blood. Neptune’s eyes narrowed. That’s it, she thought, no more fooling around. She reached into her belt and pulled out a small, golfball- sized orb. She pressed a small button and the white colored object turned a brilliant blue. She lobbed the bomb in the direction of the assassin. It detonated in seconds. The Wardon’s screams in concert with the sounds of the garden wall exploding let Neptune know she got her target.

Cautiously, she approached the rubble of what was once part of the alabaster wall of the garden. Pieces of the Wardon and chunks of the wall littered the grass. The queen is going to be upset about what he did to her garden, thought Neptune. She pressed the communicator in her ear. “The Wardon is dead,” she said to the person on the other end. “I had to take out half of the garden, but I got him.”

Neptune ended the communication and headed back to the castle to get her shoulder looked at. Her job was done. Cleaning up the mess was someone else’s job.

 

Copyright 2017 Out of This World Publishing.  Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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