n an isolated area outside of the capital city, A'ris and Hogan waited for one of the four moons in the night sky to become full.
"So, where am I going, anyway?" Hogan asked.
"The nearest Minion camp that we know of is about 200 miles east of here," A'ris replied. "You know exactly what to tell the Minions when they find you, correct?"
"Yeah, I do." Hogan looked up at the sky again, and was satisfied that there was a sufficiently full moon in view. "OK, I'm about to enact the ceremony. You'd better cover your ears."
"And leave myself defenseless to you?" A'ris asked. "I'm not that gullible."
"Fine," Hogan sighed. "Then I guess you don't mind getting turned into a Minion."
A'ris' hands didn't budge. "If you're that worried, then whisper."
Hogan was starting to get annoyed at how childish A'ris was acting, but resigned himself to the fact that he was not in control of the situation. Taking a deep breath, he grabbed the talisman hanging from his neck, and softly whispered the ceremonial chant.
"Nagasu hi'eria... vorasilifae axina kum, shiri akaraa..."
Despite the words being barely audible, the effect was just as strong as if the chant had been shouted. Whirlwinds of spirit power engulfed Hogan for a long moment. Seconds later, he emerged from the cyclone, fully transformed. His fur pelt had now taken on a bronze-like shimmer.
He looked back at A'ris, who was nearly petrified at the scene that had taken place.
"You can leave now," Hogan instructed.
"Not before I give you this," A'ris responded. He brandished a small black disc, no larger than a silver dollar. "This is a communication device. It will record everything that goes on around you, and relay it back to us. Keep it with you at all times; if you lose it, we will abandon this mission and attack the Minions ourselves. Is that clear?"
"Crystal clear," Hogan said, taking the bug and slipping it into the pocket of his jeans. With that, A'ris silently got into his hovercraft and headed back for Lo'pon.
Within moments, Hogan was alone in the field. His destination was a long distance away, but that gave Hogan a cause to smirk.
Now I can finally put my speed to use.
Within seconds, he covered nearly the entire distance to the Minions' camp. Taking care not to blow his cover, he slowed down to a walk when the base came into view. As he neared the base, he began going through his head the story that the Du'imites had given him, trying to remember everything that he was told in the briefing just before he was dropped off. He knew that one mistake could botch everything, and possibly reveal his identity as the Ki'rath to the other side as well.
When he got within a mile of the facility, he saw a hovercraft heading in his direction. Deciding not to push his luck, he stopped and waited for the vehicle to come to him.
The craft was carrying four Minions, each one of them with intimidating-looking weapons pointed at Hogan. The driver of the hovercraft spoke out. "Who are you? Where have you come from?"
"I..." Hogan started, "I... don't remember. I don't remember anything."
"Who brought you here?" the presumed commander continued.
"I don't know... some people. They didn't look like me... they didn't have all the hair and stuff. They just took me to some isolated place and shoved me in this direction. I don't remember anything before that."
"Could the Du'imites be performing tests on us now?" one of the passengers asked.
"It's possible," the commander replied. "All right, we'll take you to camp and get you fixed up. Climb aboard."
Hogan quietly complied, trying not to seem too awkward. It was the first time he'd ever had a chance to see anyone transformed up close, not counting the ones he had fought before. They had similar human characteristics, though their outward appearance felt like something out of a sci-fi movie. Once he was safely aboard the vessel, it turned around and headed back for the Minion base.
"You said a bunch of people who didn't look like you left you there?" The captain asked Hogan.
"Yeah, I think so," Hogan replied, trying to sound as convincing as possible.
"That's odd," one of the soldiers pondered aloud. "We should've seen them on our radar then."
Hogan felt a twang of nervousness when his story was challenged. "They didn't leave me right there - I walked about 10 miles before finding you guys."
"And you don't remember anything before that?"
Hogan pretended to concentrate hard. "I wish I could. I think I was unconscious for a long time while they were holding me."
"We'll take you to our infirmary," the captain explained. "Some of your memory should return after you've had some rest."
When they arrived at the Minions' base camp, Hogan was ushered into a large tent with a group of beds. He laid down on one of them.
"I want you to get some sleep, all right?" The captain said. "When you wake up, we'll debrief you as much as we can. Understood?"
"Yes, sir," Hogan replied. Afterward, the captain and his soldiers left the sick bay, and Hogan feigned sleep.
Several hours later, Hogan had only managed a couple hours of rest. When he awoke, the doctor presiding over the infirmary turned his attention to the new patient. He was dressed in the traditional lab coat, a pair of thin-framed glasses perched on top of his muzzle. "Good morning. How are we feeling today?"
"Better," Hogan replied. "My memory is starting to come back now, too."
"Fantastic!" the doctor exclaimed. "Can you tell us your name, then?"
Hogan thought for a split second, then remembered to pattern his name like everyone else's on Du'im. "My name is... O-... O'gane."
"O'gane. And where are you from?"
"I live to the north, in Hu'teg." A'ris had told Hogan to use one of the Minion cities as his hometown.
"All right, that'll do for now." The doctor penciled in the information on his clipboard. "I'm sure Captian I'kali will have more questions for you, though."
"That's what he said."
"I'll inform him that you're awake." The doctor made his way towards the exit. "The name's A'moli, by the way."
Hogan smiled. "Thanks, A'moli."
Minutes later, both A'moli and Captain I'kali came back into the tent. Hogan sat up on the bed.
"Well, O'gane," I'kali began, "the doctor here says you're remembering some things now,"
Hogan nodded. "I don't remember everything, sir, but some of it's come back to me."
"Good, good. First of all, how did you get captured?"
Hogan again referred to the script A'ris had given him, before he left. "I was gathering wood up in the forests outside of Hu'teg. I guess I must've wandered off too far - I heard some strange noises coming out of a clearing in the woods. When I went there, there were a bunch of Du'imite spies there planning an operation of some sort. They spotted me, and before I could get away, they had me overpowered. They captured me and took me back to their base."
"What happened at the base?" I'kali prodded.
"I still don't remember," Hogan answered.
O'fane considered the possibilities. "It's likely that they put him under an anesthesia of some kind while he was there so he wouldn't remember where the base was or what they were doing there."
I'kali shuddered. "Du'imite slime. It's bad enough that they were spying on us right under our noses; they have to use our people as test subjects now?" The Minion sighed. "All right. I'm afraid we're going to have to leave you here for observations for a couple of days, so we can see if you'll remember anything else from when you were captured. Are you sure you can't recall anything after they caught you?"
Hogan again made like he was thinking hard, then shook his head in mock defeat. "Sorry, everything before they released me is a blur."
"Very well. I'll leave you with A'moli now so he can run some more tests on you." I'kali made his way to the doorway of the infirmary. Just before leaving, though, he stopped and came back to Hogan's bedside. "One more thing - are you sure you don't remember anything before they left you in the desert out there?"
"I swear." Hogan started to get a little worried. "How come?"
"Well, I couldn't figure out why the Du'imites would ever let a prisoner go like that. Then I realized - you've probably been bugged."
"A'moli checked your pockets while you were asleep earlier." I'kali walked over to the infirmary desk, and picked something up off the table. It was a small, black disc. "You've been carrying a communicator with you while you were with us. They've been listening in on us the entire time."
Hogan felt his stomach drop to his knees.