Alarms were going off in Sauron’s mind and in his den of evil. Everywhere the minions of Hell were running or scurrying to their respective emergency posts. Some were fleeing like rats on a sinking ship. These were cut down by Sauron’s half-man half-beast sentinels before they could get to the surface and cause panic.
Sauron sat in the middle of his underground maze monitoring the progress of the emergency order he had given to his troops and the progress of the Circle. He was the only one who had sensed the Circles approach. There was one presence he missed though and that was the Protector. He quickly did a narrow scan, no such luck. The Protector seemed to have disappeared from his mental scanning ability. Now Sauron began to sweat.
A huge imposing man stood next to one wall of the basement looking furtive and tense. Next to him, seated at an exquisitely carved walnut desk, sat an amazingly beautiful woman with Amazonian body proportions. The basement was as large as the first floor of the house that it sat under and more closely resembled the lobby of a posh hotel.
The Circle spread out across the basement, still in their group of four triangle formations, still cloaked. The gorilla looking man suddenly became alert and the Amazon quickly tensed, but still tried to look relaxed.
Slide, in the first group approaching the desk, noticed the cat like eyes of the woman and for a moment she was almost transfixed by them. They seemed to have a background glow. Without warning the cat like eyes dilated and focused directly where Slide was standing. The angel Slide appeared before the Amazon and her guard. It was the last thing either of them saw. As soon as they saw Slide materialize, a small hole appeared in each of their foreheads and their lights went out. The angel disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. The Circle moved toward the door.
The Protector was still outside monitoring the progress of the Circle as they approached the basement entrance. He smiled as he sensed Slide de-cloaking and the power of the Hand released. He knew this was only the first and easiest of the obstacles in their path.
At that moment he realized that a line of people was walking towards him from his rear and that another line was approaching from either side. The Cloak would not protect him from direct contact and he would be detected. None of the people in the lines had any weapons but they all seemed to be in a zombie like trance. That’s when the Protector noticed the detonators. He was willing to bet that each one of them carried enough explosives to blow them all to bits. He had to think fast.
His avenue of escape was through a line of shoulder high bushes that surrounded the rear of the house and the gazebo.
Was this a trap being sprung with him as the rat?, He thought.
He found a small opening near the base of the bushes just as the line to rear of him crossed the place he had been standing and he eased through the hole. He came out not more than 10 meters from the gazebo. He hit he ground as a sudden explosion blasted a hole in the bushes 3 meters wide. Apparently one of the zombies in one line had run into the other line. The Protector breathed an uneasy sigh of relief.
Momentarily stunned by the explosion his first response was to see if the Cloak was still functioning. He knew that if the Cloak failed he would surely be destroyed in seconds. He could see the remote control weapons systems now. Small cameras and sensors each with its own particle beam weapon. As if to verify the threat, a squirrel that been stunned and knocked out of a nearby tree suddenly jumped up and began a confused dash for the safety of the tree. It never moved more than a meter before it was dismembered by at least three beams in a triangle crossfire. The Protector hesitated before he moved. The gazebo called to him and at that moment his mind flashed to the triangle formation of the Circle. He just realized that he was no longer in contact with any of them, the mind link was broken.
Sauron sat in the middle of his web fuming. “Incompetent morons, he bellowed, I want him alive, I want them all alive if possible.”
His servants groveled before his wrath. He was sure they had blasted the Protector to atoms but reports showed that only parts of the bodies of his slaves had been found, no strangers.
“Any more attempts to kill the Protector will be dealt with severely.” He raged, acid in his veins, bile rose from his insides. His face had assumed the Death Mask.
“One more slip up and youre all history”, He said.
“Go bring the Protector and his associates to me now! Alive!”
Suddenly, Sauron had the same vision Pythos had. He saw his own death. The Protector was at the gazebo entrance.
The Circle had cleared the door in the basement without any trouble. When the last group had crossed the threshold the door seemed to go solid and even felt solid. Though they knew it was only a hologram force field, Sight quickly marked a spot on the floor in front of the hidden door so that they could find it again if they needed. The tunnels moved our in four different directions. How handy they thought collectively. They also collectively noticed something else had changed. They were no longer in mental link to the Protector. They were not surprised by this. It was to be expected and they had planned for it. Now they formed into groups of three and each group started down a tunnel to deploy the Hand of God and administer the Sacrament of Death.
The Protector crawled to the rear of the gazebo carefully, making sure wherever he placed any parts of his body that they did not trip any proximity or pressure sensors. He peered through the latticework to see if anything or anyone was inside. It was empty save for what appeared to be benches along the walls. In the center was a solid octagon platform level with the floor. This must be the underground entrance point. He carefully examined the rest of the interior of the gazebo looking for more beam weapons or traps. He did spot some surveillance equipment but no obvious weapons. Still, he moved cautiously. Many people were now milling around outside the fence of bushes and the blast hole. Nobody entered the backyard where he had witnessed the quick death of the squirrel. Apparently, only certain people could enter this area without being in any danger. This further verified the VIP status of this hidden entrance. He was now at the opening of the gazebo. Then without warning the door to the rear of the house opened quickly and a very stout little man stepped onto the landing headed for the gazebo. The Protector out of the corner of his eye saw the particle beam weapons instantly lock onto his position and followed his movements.
The little mans name was Rathbone. At this moment he was highly troubled and perplexed. It had been a long time since he had been summoned to the tunnels. Even though his associates called him Rat, though not to his face, he did not like the tunnels. They gave him the creeps. He had only been there a few times in all the years he worked here and he preferred it that way. His last excursion was to witness the horrible death of a traitor. A captured spy of the Circle.
“Curse them!”, he thought. “They were the reason for all his trouble. Why cant they leave his master alone, just go along with the program everyone else did and got along fine.”
“Curse them!”, he said again.
He hurried up the steps of the gazebo and timidly entered the elevator car that had arisen out of the floor or so it seemed. As soon as the Rat entered the car, he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up and he was frozen with fear as the car made its descent.
The Protector had entered the Gazebo in perfect step with the Rat just as Slide had done at the Cathedral. When the car started his descent he de-cloaked behind the little man and watched amazed as he turned around and fell to the floor at the sight of the Protector. The Protector felt his pulse and ascertained he was alive but barely. He had suffered a momentary cardiac arrest and was presently in a coma. Having ascertained that his guide was out for awhile, he cloaked again and waited for the cars descent to end. When the door of the car opened, two beast sentinels were waiting, weapons at their ready. They were astounded to see the Rat lying on the floor and were momentarily distracted as the Hand of God flashed twice knocking both backwards out the doorway.
The Protector remained cloaked. He had already disabled the sensors in the car and now waited for reinforcements to arrive. Sure enough in minutes they cautiously approached the car checking the bodies of the two dead guards verifying they had been killed by the Hand. Some of them then came into the car and removed the unconscious body of the Rat. At that moment the still cloaked Protector dropped down from the ceiling of the car and followed them inside, in perfect step.
Most of the tunnels were clear by the time the Circle had entered. The four groups now moved with commando precision down the prospective corridors they had been previously assigned. Each tunnel was very wide with approximately 4 meter ceilings, well lighted and apparently well maintained. Various conduits and pipes ran along the ceiling, some branching off down side shafts. As each team approached these they positioned themselves so as to intercept anyone they came across.
So far each team encountered a beast sentinel along the way and quickly dispatched the creature. It was awhile before they noticed that the last Sentinel they had dispatched had a life monitor on it. They had been tricked into killing each of these beasts. Sauron knew exactly the location of each team now and could prepare for their next movement in an surprise the teams.
Sight now had a problem, although he had mentally communicated this to his own team members, he could not warn the others. Ever since they had entered the tunnels their mental links had faded and reappeared and faded again. The earth was some how interfering with their signal. Their only hope was that they could link up with the rest of the Circle soon. Sight and his team members, Barrel and Pin, made their plans for the required course of action, they de-cloaked and backtracked their trail.
Sauron sat in his throne room worried pondering his next move. He had just received the report on the location of all the members of the Circle. He knew he must be careful and not under estimate the cunning and resourcefulness of this group. He knew that his whole empire now balanced on the edge. All the traps he planned were now in place. The Circle only had a little way to go before they encountered the first ones. Hidden doors had already started closing behind them but well out of sight and hearing. Soon the doors will start closing directly behind them and of course it would be too late to take any action. Just as he was beginning to take comfort in this though, one of his second deputies came huffing into the room. “Master, Master,” he cried.
“They have appeared out of thin air. They are moving down a side shaft off the main tunnel.” He looked worried and shaken.
Sauron had not bothered to inform them that the enemy they faced might be invisible to their feeble senses. He wanted to use them as bait for as long as possible. Now obviously the cat was out of the bad. The word would spread fast that invisible demons were among them. Panic might break out. Sauron was highly pissed, he had to think fast. Mental signs of panic were already starting to come to him.
The Protector eased forward along the dim corridor. The only light seemed to come far ahead of him but he could not be sure how far ahead the light was. He was pulled toward that light as if walking towards it was the only sensible thing to do. He hesitated for a moment and wondered if this was what he was expected to do. Somehow it seemed the right thing to do. He stated moving towards the light again.
After moving cautiously for what seemed an hour, although it was only a few minutes, the Protector noticed that it seemed like he was not getting closer to the light source because it never got any brighter, as one would expect when moving towards any source of light. This was indeed strange. He stopped again, thought for a moment
“What if I go backwards, will the light get dimmer as I walk away from it?” It was worth a try. Slowly, he walked back along the way he came, turning now and then to look back towards the light source and sure enough the light intensity stayed dim but never seemed to change. He now understood what was going on.
Apparently, the light source was programmed to stay just ahead of anyone in the corridor. This caused anyone in the corridor to be attracted towards it like a moth to a flame. The Protector let a smile form across his face. He knew he stepped into a subtle but ingenious deadly trap. Had he blindly followed his natural attraction to the light, he would have surely encountered something nasty. His well trained and weathered senses went on full alert. Surely he was being watched and whoever was watching would not realize that the Protector had figured out what was going on and was planning their next move. The Protector was also planing his next move.
He looked all around for any type of monitoring device not only with his eyes but with his extra senses. Soon he found a small recessed lens with what appeared to be a tiny microphone about 5mm in diameter.
“Clever, very clever”, he thought.
He also found the elusive light source. He moved forward a few meters and found another. He was surprised to realize that the light sources were capable of much greater illumination. At that moment he was momentarily blinded as the corridor was lit up with blinding bright light. He quickly shut his eyes at first the flash of light and slowly peeked through his lids to find the corridor so brightly lit it hurt if we tried to open them all the way. He quickly whipped out his solar shield that everyone wore on the surface during the daytime. Even then the light was still very intense. It was like looking at a welding spark. He also realized something else. He would be cooked by this intense light. His temperature was already starting to rise. His suit would protect him somewhat but it was fast becoming uncomfortable.
He quickly unleashed the Hand on the nearest quartz light. The flash of the Hand was barely perceptible as he let off two rounds and protected his face from the sparks and shattered glass. Now one spiral section of the corridor was de-luminated and the flash of the Hand was more evident as the Protector fired into the next light source and put out the eyes of the monitoring system where he stood. He could now get an idea of how far the corridor went but the distance was so great he could not make out what as at the end through the glare of the remaining lights.
Now he began to move forward using the Hand to destroy every other light source and the monitor eyes along the way. Then the corridor was abruptly plunged into blackness. It now seemed as dark as it was blinding only a second before. The Protector now removed his solar shield and immediately activated the Cloak. Another small smile came upon the face of the Protector.