Chapter 2

To understand who the PiruNostram are, why they exist and what drives them to act the way they do, then you have to appreciate what this minor faction of global society has learned from the immortal life they have been born into.

They don’t have a conscience towards their fellow Xethantian and they certainly don’t think that they need to contribute anything towards the society in which they live.

They know that acts of criminality will at best involve a custodial sentence and nothing more, because there is nothing more that their peers can do to impose anything tougher.

If off-world aliens are injured, or as more often happens, they end up being killed usually for money, possessions or simply and insanely, just for sport, then nothing more can be done.

Xethantian immortality means a lifetime can reach several thousands of years of age and the PiruNostram can do a lot of damage to the lives of many citizens during that time.  More worryingly they can disrupt the lives of many other mortal civilisations on other worlds which are within reach of the average space cruiser travelling through Foldspace.

Despite the amazing development of Xethantian culture and the contribution it makes to the wider galaxy of planets, the PiruNostram firmly believe that there is nothing in this life for them.

Why should they work and earn money to buy what they need, when they can simply take it, including a life when the opportunity presents itself.

There has never been a case involving the abduction of a Xethantian in exchange for money, as the alternative fate of death is not an option. However, stealing goods and property befalls anyone unlucky enough to become a target.

So where and when did this gang culture begin?

The influence which led to the emergence of the PiruNostram undoubtedly came from an off-world colony, like Quella, because it is well known that many early members of this criminal culture are Mequexian and consequently they bare the menacing, deep blue, glowing eyes.

As planetary life has evolved then the appeal of gangland culture has inspired a growing number of simple minded and excluded Xethantians to join regional groups known as “packs’ and become easily and quickly radicalised.

It is believed that around 2% of the planetary population are either directly involved with the PiruNostram, or are involved occasionally in helping them with regional crime at various levels, usually in exchange for money, gifts or for a falsely elevated status.

By far and away the most notorious gangster is an evil villain called Nemesis. He is revered by his peers as being the Guensho or king of the PiruNostram. He has been involved with gang culture in a serious capacity for most of his adult life and was now 2000 orbinars old.

Nemesis is Mequexian and although no-one really knows who his real parents were, he is clearly gifted and smart. Every time the authorities are lucky enough to capture him; he manages to be released by organised gangs and sympathisers loyal to the PiruNostram.

He very quickly blends back into the enormous planetary populace, only to emerge later to carry out the next high profile criminal act.

There was a time when the Planetary Protectorate Force, a sort of combined army/police force made up of Xethantian nationals working alongside a robotic android workforce; would hunt down and target known members of the PiruNostram and retrofit crimes to these individuals.

This would enable them to be incarcerated in vast prisons, usually run by androids, in order to avoid the likelihood of any Xethantian guards being seduced with bribery, be it by mental grooming, or some other kind of extortion racket by the inmates.

However, these numerous prisons became uncomfortably full, so it was decided that off world centres would be constructed, usually on desolate worlds, thinly populated, with mining colonies.

They would put these immortal prisoners to hard labour, knowing that they wouldn’t need to be looked after. However, all too often the PiruNostram would manage to escape and jump ship to other off-world planets, from where a reign of terrorism would dominate that planet’s culture.

Xethantian off-world Special Forces would then be posted to try and apprehend these escaped convicts, which more often than not was merely a gesture of goodwill, as they were far too difficult to locate. Added to which mortal beings were easily sucked into working for the PiruNostram, which meant they could be helped to hide and blend in.

Consequently at inter-planetary summits, there was always a rallying call for the Xethantian authorities to abandon and close down off-world prison centres.

As a consequence, this is what eventually led to the spiralling numbers of PiruNostram living on Xethenia.

It was a crack hostage taking team from the notorious East Quadrant of Xethenia, headed by Nemesis, who had recently kidnapped Janithillon’s father, Opus Rah.

They held him to ransom, which the Government authorities on Quella finally agreed to pay. It was evident that his life was on the line, as demonstrated by some appalling video footage, taken by the gang which clearly showed him to be in a bad way.

Opus Rah was an elder statesman and at the equivalent of 250 years of age he was classed as someone approaching elderly life, let alone the fact that he held a prominent position as one of the top scientists on Quella.

Consequently, the authorities wanted to make sure he was saved from these mindless and vicious criminals.

During his 3 day incarceration as a hostage by the PiruNostram gang on his home world, Opus Rah was interrogated and severely beaten into telling Nemesis about a secret project he was involved with.

The project had hitherto been nothing more than wild rumours concerning some sort of machine which could strip away the immortality of a Xethantian.

“So it is true then” mused Nemesis, his faced pressed up close to the bleeding head of Opus Rah, “Where is this machine? Who else knows about it and is working on the project?”

“I don’t know any more other than what I’ve told you” Opus replied weeping.

“You’re lying, I can tell. If you weren’t Mequellium I’d have bled your mind dry by now; but I know you’re holding back from me” Nemesis growled, as he hit Opus on the side of his head with a clenched fist.

Opus swayed within the traction beams that the shackles on his arms and legs were connected to and groaned, unable to nurse the throbbing pains being so brutally inflicted on him by his captor.

“Look I don't even know how close the people working for the Apostophet are to actually getting the machine constructed. For all I know they could be orbinars, possibly even hundreds of orbinars away from completion” blurted Opus Rah, trying desperately to avoid further punishment, but without leaking too much information.

Nemesis scowled back at him with an angry huff and a shrug of the shoulders before turning to face his henchman who were grouped around him in the room, standing around or sitting in chairs, patiently awaiting further orders from their leader.

“Is your son Janithillon working on this project?”

“And what if he is - what difference would that make?”

“It tells me that he's likely to be colluding with you and maybe others on Quella”.

Opus Rah stared at the wall in front of him and not venturing to say anything else.

Nemesis mused and whirled on him once again “What's in it for Quella?”

Opus ignored him and continued to stare at the wall.

Another body blow flew in as a consequence of his silence, this time hard into the abdomen, which caused Opus to wretch and cry out.

“Why would Quella help Xethenia to deal with the issue of immortality?”

Opus recovered enough and spat out some bile ahead of saying “For the most part the whole galaxy is envious of life on Xethenia, but you, you animal outcasts, you and the rest of your sadistic gangs have to be stopped and removed from existence”.

But Nemesis wasn't listening. Instead his finger had touched a transparent piece of film stuck to the side of his neck like tape, and he was now having a communication call with the planetary authorities on Quella, who were confirming the terms of Opus Rah's release in exchange for the agreed ransom figure.

For governments and individuals that could meet ransom demands, it was imperative they acted fast. It was a widely known fact that PiruNostram packs wouldn't waste time beating, mutilating and when denied payment, inevitably killing a hostage. The fact that Nemesis was talking made Opus Rah feel somewhat relieved, as he was about to learn that he was on the verge of being released and rescued.

“Looks like you're highly valued by your peers here on Quella, Opus” sneered Nemesis.

Opus Rah turned to face Nemesis, his face serious, his tone full of anger “More valued than your life is or that of any PiruNostram scum. Now release me from this traction cell you evil bastard. What shame you must bring on your parents, especially your Mother, as no doubt your Father must be long gone?”

Nemesis just laughed and at the same time as nodding to one of his men to switch off the traction cell, he kicked Opus hard in the back of the legs so that as he was released from the beam, he lost balance and crashed hard onto the floor.

Opus looked up at him as he dragged himself to his feet holding his back in pain and nursing his bruised and bleeding head and said “The PiruNostram are a scourge, a disease in the universe, but believe me a cure is coming. A cure that the whole universe has been waiting a millennia for and when it arrives, then you will be consigned to the books of history. In fact I doubt whether anyone will bother writing anything at all as you'll soon be eradicated from our minds, let alone our lives”.

Nemesis yelled back “The PiruNostram will never be exterminated. You forget old man, that we weald the power to over-run entire planets and we will be avenged. We will find this machine and if it turns out to be true, we will not be the only life that loses immortality. I will personally see to it that your son is reduced to being as mortal as you are. Now go before I change my mind and rip your heart out of your chest. It'll be worth the 5 million Farab your government has agreed to pay for your miserable life”.

Opus realised he was dicing with his own life and elected to swallow his anger and pride in favour of walking slowly to the doorway leading to the building's exit and his freedom. But as he reached the open door he turned back to Nemesis and yelled “There will be nothing left for you to avenge once immortality has been taken away” and with that he climbed aboard a waiting taxi, which hovered nearby; owned and piloted by a PiruNostram sympathiser. It took him to the nearest planetary protectorate base; who had already been notified of his impending arrival.

There were six officers waiting outside the gates and Opus was there in minutes. The taxi pilot waited in the craft, but as soon as Opus was barely clear, he gunned the engines and took off, with shields deployed to shun any attempt to bring the ship down.

However, the officers were more interested in protecting themselves and being on hand to help Opus Rah than worrying about apprehending what would be a useless sympathiser. The ship would be falsely registered and the tracking ID would be indexed to a different make and model; plus there were too many other more demanding crimes to deal with, so there was little point in wasting time and resources on one taxi pilot.

Opus Rah couldn't hold himself up anymore, now the adrenaline was ebbing away along with the stress of his recent abduction and he collapsed to the ground just as a Senior Officer was making his way over to him. He sprinted the final steps, just catching him and avoiding his head crashing onto the hard standing of the drop zone.

“Are you alright Hom Rah?” he asked (Hom a term similar to Mr on Earth).

Opus looked up at him, his head cradled against the uniformed knee but he was struggling to make out the identity of the officer.

Recognising why Opus was reaching up with his hand, the officer waved his hand across the blacked out helmet visor and it evaporated, leaving the sight of two eyes gazing down at him, focused but friendly and welcoming.

Hom Rah are you OK?” he repeated.

Opus nodded and murmured a reply, gesturing for the officer to help him to his feet.

The officer yelled back to his colleagues who were still standing guard, looking around them and checking scanners for a possible PiruNostram ambush pack waiting to pounce and reclaim their recently released hostage.

“Hurry and get an off-world medic across to the base. He's in a bad way and we need to get him into an OLR unit as fast as possible. Give me a hand to get him into the rest area and then stand down”

Organ & Limb Reconstruction units were often needed to help mortal victims recover from an accident, or more likely PiruNostram violence but had escaped with their lives, to rebuild limbs and repair cuts, bruises and damaged organs.

The technology was developed on Quella and the units were in wide circulation around the galaxy. Once the genetic makeup of the patient had been determined, then they were laid down naked into a coffin sized tube, whilst an orbiting arm emitting a pulsing red beam similar to that of a laser, combined with the high pitch sound of a sonic emitter, gradually rebuilt limbs, repaired damaged tissue and removed scarring and bruising in a matter of minutes.

Once Opus had been attended to by medics and his wounds had been dealt with by the OLR unit, he felt well enough to call his Xethantian wife, Rhysaak. She was a very experienced and senior member of the inter-planetary diplomatic executive, which reported directly to the Apostophet.  Ironically, she was in a district meeting on Xethenia with protectorate management, to talk about the growing crime rate from PiruNostram packs on visiting aliens, whilst anxiously waiting for news about her husband.

For many years all high profile citizens of Quella and neighbouring planets elected to have a Personal Data Transmitter chip injected into their necks; so that on top of being able to supply routine health information to their medical advisors, they could be located and hopefully recovered by rescue squads, should they be kidnapped.

It was felt that the neck would be the safest place to have the transmitter located, as most captors would need to keep the hostage alive if they wanted to secure the ransom money.

If it was located in the arm or a leg or elsewhere in the body, then there was a significant chance they could sustain terrible injuries especially if they were unlucky enough to be apprehended by the PiruNostram wanting to extricate and dispose of the chip.

However, the PiruNostram would often scan for PDT’s during the kidnap process and if the hostage wasn’t “chipped’ then they would continue, but if they were then depending on the potential value associated with the individual, then there was a risk they could be beheaded and the decapitated corpse, along with the head dumped on some waste ground. So many of these people began to decline having the PDT’s injected and take the risk they wouldn’t be got at.

Opus Rah was one of these people and that was why he survived, even though nobody knew where he was.

 

© 2018 Visionaries by Chris Donlan - All Rights Reserved

PiruNostram

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