The smog was thick as Kadamba walked the back streets, late in the evening in Bangkok. The streets were crowded with foreigners from many different countries, who had come to this city, well-known for being a destination for sex tourism. Everywhere you turned was another hawker of some sleazy establishment trying to persuade visitors to go inside and see what the place had to offer. Drugs and sex were on display everywhere, and Dr. Tarea was like a kid in a candy store.

Maliya was her name. She was only nine years old. The monks at the Tao Wong Wa shrine declared that she was the incarnate rebirth of some long-lost deity – one who could move objects using her thoughts alone. Apparently, these monks followed some mix of Buddhism and Hindu traditions. Kadamba didn’t really understand that much about the history or the belief system, but it seemed like something that should pique the interest of a man with an advanced degree in religions and truth. However, Dr. Tarea seemed only barely interested in anything other than spending his evenings getting strung out, watching bizarre sex shows, and hiring underage prostitutes.

After a week of indulging, Dr. Tarea decided that it was time to get serious about their mission. In an abandoned warehouse they set up with the few items that would be required to confirm whether Maliya was a Transprophetic or not.

While the monks of the Tao Wong Wa shrine certainly wanted to protect the young girl, they were woefully unprepared for someone like Kadamba. Having slipped into their residence during the middle of the night, Ka had little trouble kidnapping the child. Within a few hours, she was taped to a chair, looking at a small table with a flower, known as a “hidden lily,” resting on it.

“Pick it up,” insisted Dr. Tarea, as he looked at the child. He made various gestures to try to get the girl to understand what he wanted, but she only stared at him. Over and over, and in multiple ways, Dr. Tarea attempted to get the girl to understand what he wanted her to do. Tears ran down her face, as she replied in Thai.

Kadamba paced the room, telling himself repeatedly that he was an Elite Forces soldier and his job here was to protect Dr. Tarea. Evidence that Transprophetics existed on this planet would change everything. He tried to reassure himself that what he was doing was in the best interest of his people, in the best interest of the mission, in the best interest of Koranth.

The little girl looked at him, her eyes begging him to do something. He’d learned a few words and phrases in the last few days, and he understood that every time she said, “Ch̀wy c̄hạn d̂wy,” she was asking for help.

“I guess talking and being kind just aren’t going to work,” Dr. Tarea muttered. “It must be time for a little more fear in this child’s mind.”

Dr. Tarea unsheathed a large knife, holding it in the air in front of the girl. He pointed again at the flower, demanding, “Pick up the fucking flower before I skin you alive!” The little girl began to sob and struggle against the tape that held her to the chair.

“Wait!” Kadamba asserted, more forcefully than he expected to say it.

Dr. Tarea looked at him and laughed. “I suppose you want in on playing with this precious little thing.”

“H̄yib mạn k̄hụ̂n mā,” Kadamba spoke quietly to Maliya, pointing to the flower. “H̄yib mạn k̄hụ̂n mā pord.”

The girl’s sobbing stopped, and she looked at Kadamba. “Pick it up, please,” he repeated again in Thai. She looked at him, and he nodded his head up and down, trying to make his face smile.

Maliya, looking at the flower, began to concentrate. Dr. Tarea stood as still as a statue, his eyes fixed on the flower. For a moment, nothing happened. Then the flower began to rise, hovering in the air over the table.

“Lords of the Fourth System, this little creature is a Transprophetic!” declared Dr. Tarea. He began to laugh. He even danced around a little.

“You know what this means, don’t you boy?” asked Dr. Tarea. Kadamba stared at the doctor, trying to share in his excitement, but the acid in his stomach was boiling.

“We’ll be rich and famous!” declared the doctor. “Once a portal is open here, we’ll be heroes. We’ll be the ones who identified the best timing to develop this planet! Tomar Donovackia will shower us with wealth!”

The flower dropped back to the table, and Dr. Tarea looked at the little girl. Her face showed nothing but confusion. Dr. Tarea pointed at her, “You’ve made me very happy today, my little Thai flower!” His smile went crooked, and the girl’s expression changed from confusion to fear. He stood over the girl looking down on her soft features. “I wonder if she would have become something more than an oddity for some random monks.”

“She might,” replied Kadamba, as he walked up and stood by the doctor, knowing exactly what was going to happen next.

“It’s almost a shame that she has to die,” stated Dr. Tarea, but there wasn’t anything resembling compassion or regret in his voice.

Kadamba held out his hand, and the Doctor looked at him, snickering. “I guess this is the part you like, the killing.” Dr. Tarea placed the large blade into Kadamba’s hand.

Kadamba’s fingers slid into each of the form-fitting indentations on the handle. He spun the knife in his hand so that the blade guard rested on the bottom of his hand, and his fingers slid once again into the indentations. His arm dropped, and he felt the point of the blade graze across his elbow, just like the blade that he had used to kill that bargabuko in Mr. Lormate’s class.

That bargabuko had died quickly from the powerful blow that Kadamba had inflicted. He hoped that the next strike that he would deliver would bring death just as quickly. He brought his arm up, across his chest, and took a deep breath. With every ounce of his strength, he drove the blade home. He felt the blade guard smash into flesh and bone, as the knife’s blade buried itself completely. He let go of the weapon, knowing that everything in his world had just changed.

Dr. Tarea looked at Kadamba for a moment with shock in his eyes. Then the doctor, who supposedly knew so much about religion and truth, looked down at the handle of the knife, sticking out from his own chest. He staggered backward, falling into a pile of tarps that had been sitting on the floor.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” Kadamba apologized to the girl, as he freed her from the chair.

He held out his hand, and she put her hand into his. Within a few minutes, they were in a crowded Bangkok street. Kadamba saw the police officer in the distance and pointed to him. Maliya shook her head affirmatively and started running towards the officer.

Kadamba saw the officer step towards the child, and he knew she would be okay. When Maliya turned and pointed, trying to explain to the officer what was happening, Kadamba was long gone.

• • •

Chapter 33 Chapter 35

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