So… we do what they want? Charles asked Hiamora telepathically as the two of them floated inside of Krestean’s office, out of sight of any biological being.
We have nothing to lose, do we?
What about them? Charles pointed with his tentacle at the beings in the room. The door was closed, and Krestean and Monsele were discussing their plans with a well-armoured nycomb, who wasn’t particularly excited about taking charge while the two were away – or more so about the possibility of having to stay in charge were the two not to return.
We’ll keep them safe if things go awry. Hiamora said as she put her head inside of the nycombian general’s. Huh, so they do only see gray. The world looks so boring…
Tresno will not be happy about this.
You seem to be forgetting that Tresno’s not your boss. Hiamora returned to hovering besides Charles, right near the exit of the room. You’re free to do whatever you want. Whatever you feel is needed. Besides, I don’t think Tres is in any shape to make decisions right now. Who would’ve thought that seeing that dragon disintegrate in front of us would have such an impact. She paused, watching the visitor in the room bow down and head out the door. I think it’s because of the color similarity. They saw themselves in that moment, dying. A feat impossible yet happening right in front of us.
Maybe it was only possible to happen to a triplicate? You know, what created the copy had the power to destroy it?
I’d wish it was that simple, she said, appearing in the room and locking the exit door. “Hello, dears. I heard you’re in need of directions.”
“See, told you it would take longer than a few hours,” Monsele whispered to Krestean, before turning towards the abilno and speaking up. “Yes, has Charles told you everything?”
“I did,” Charles spoke as a lime cloud leaked into the room out of a point in space. “She’ll lead and I’ll come along as well.”
“Great,” Krestean said, standing up from her chair. “Let’s then get to the ships and-” she broke off,hissing in pain, as she and Monsele simultaneously grabbed the contraptions on their wrists.
“What’s going on?” Hiamora flew up to the two as Charles hovered still and silent.
“I… Don’t… Know…” Krestean groaned through clenched teeth as she cut the strap to take off the sizzling apparatus, revealing a smoldering black circle, present both on the scales on her hand, and the adjacent white fur of her arm. “These never malfunctioned before…” she mumbled as she helped Monsele get her device off of her wrist.
“What are these?” Hiamora asked as she carefully picked up the watch-like creation.
“To make it quick, they’re power transmitters,” Krestean said as she booted up her display. “We don’t use nearly all of the energy of the Heart in the center, so these connect directly to the beams holding the Heart in place, allowing us to use some of the excess energy if we need to.”
“I don’t like the sound of that technology,” Charles said, taking Monsele’s transmitter and analyzing it.
“It’s safe to use,” Krestean quickly skipped through a few locations, accessing the cameras overlooking the power core and control room. “What in the world…”
The entire control room was flashing with red lights, despite batteries being fully charged and everything seemingly working properly. Outside, the Heart was rapidly changing size: growing as big as the laser cage around it allowed for, before shrinking to a tenth of that size. The automatic systems holding the heart in place seemed to be failing to adjust to the events, changing between white and blue beams at a whim.
“It’s dying,” Hiamora said, momentarily disappearing before popping back into the room. “But it still has plenty of energy. Nothing is supposed to die until it completely runs out.”
“But without an entity to control it, the whole energy will go out into space, won’t it?”
“Indeed. Violently.” The two transmitters lying on Krestean’s desk started to fly up slightly, while Hiamora’s form turned solid. “I think I can help contain it with these,” she said, putting the two bands around her wrists, sealing the cut ends so they wouldn’t fall off. “This is Ghh an odd feeling…”
“You two get yourself ships. One each, just in case. You’ll need to get all the mortals out of here, but the moment you announce something’s wrong, you’ll have trouble getting out yourself.”
“You’re underestimating how well organized we are,” Monsele smirked. “But better safe than sorry.” She waved at Krestean and the two hastily left the room.
“You feel them too, right?” Charles said after a long moment of silence.
“I’m feeling a Khhh lot of things right now…” she looked at her wrists, where white blotches took over the natural pink around the small machines.
“Someone is here. More than one… I wish the clones were easier to locate.”
Before Hiamora could say anything more, the still operational display plinged, and an uncertain male voice came from it. “High Admiral?” After a moment of silence, the voice over the intercom grew fainter. “Neither is responding, what do I do?” There was an indistinguishable voice in the background, followed by the speaker speaking at a normal volume again. “You told us to immediately inform you of any unidentified Terrans on the ship. Well we have a group of three here, buying items from stall 182B. Camera, uhmmm… 4.72. We’re observing and not engaging, awaiting orders.”
“Should I-” Charles started, instantly getting interrupted by Hiamora.
“No. You don’t stand a chance against three.” Hiamora slithered to the back wall of the room. She put her hand against the large screen that acted as a window. “Hopefully nothing Ghh important behind this,” she said, punching the screen with enough force to crack a mountain. The monitor shattered instantly, and the thick metal wall behind it gave away, ripping out of the stations hull and floating into outer space.
“What are you doing?!” Charles cried, following Hiamora out of the station.
“Needed to take the waTsses outside, this was the fastest.”
“I feel like there were much… calmer alternatives.”
“Who cares, this place Khhh will blow up anyway.”
“Here comes Krestean, I’ll talk to her,” Charles watched Hiamora situate herself on top of the torus station as he flew towards the two coming spaceships.
“What the hell did you do to my office?!” Krestean instantly asked the moment Charles’ lime tentacles started phasing into the ship.
“Blame Hiamora, I think those devices of yours are dimming her sensibility.”
Krestean let out a dissatisfied grunt, playing around with the control panel. “Ok, I disabled the shield around the Heart, she will be able to access it now.”
“Good, but before you tell people to evacuate, you should know of some things.”
“Oh? Good or bad things?”
“Both. Camera 4.72.” Charles said, remembering the words from the intercom. After a handful of clicks, the large display showed three humans, a man with a woman on one side, and what looked like a teenage girl on the other, talking with each other, all wearing long robes, and the adults holding sculpted canes in one of their hands.
“Wait…” Krestean said, as she slightly zoomed into the image to get a better look at the group, “This one,” she pointed at the female on the right “We saw her on Threa… I think the name was Claire?”
“Interesting… Do you recognize the other two?”
“No, and Drakian only mentioned that there was one more copy on that planet, which I guess was her?” The type 0 was silent, consumed by thought. “The other two may come from the other planet.”
“Possible. If you let them warp out, I can watch where they go. Unless they go to one of the anomalous planets. But then we’ll know they’re on one of them.”
Krestean nodded and opened up her connections list, connecting to the last caller. “Corporal, listen carefully,” she said, seeing the nycomb in the corner of the camera view raise his hand to his ear. “You can attempt to capture one of the humans, however they are highly dangerous and potentially hostile. The station is in critical condition and we are about to initiate evacuation procedure, so if you fail to capture them, proceed with evacuation normally. We are tracking them. Do you understand?”
“Affirmative,” came from the speakers, and the video feed showed him speak to his two partners. The three of them walked up to the humans saying something, then grabbed the young girl as the terrestrials tried to back away. Seeing that, the man in the middle raised his cane and pointed it at the nycombs. The stone at the top lit up, and all three were launched back as the older woman crouched down by the girl.
The moment the three nycombs hit the wall in the back, the entire camera feed shook. A single glance at the station revealed that one of the laser emitters that held the Heart in place has been reduced to a pile of debris, slowly drifting in all sorts of directions.
The camera lit up with flashing red lights as Monsele’s voice could be heard over the intercoms. “To all beings aboard the station: evacuate immediately. This is not a drill. Do not panic and listen to any and all directive from nycombian personnel. Immediate vacinity of the station is deemed unsafe for all ships. Leave the star system as soon as possible and await further instructions from General Irikla.”
The humans on the video took a quick glance around, staying still as they observed and talked. Then, in the blink of an eye, they were gone. All three disappearing into a puff of purple and gray smoke. “They’re untrackable,” popped in Krestean’s mind, making her jump slightly. “Only one option then.”
“Before we leave,” Krestean started, watching Hiamora grab the Heart with both of her arms. Having grown substantially in size, she spread out her wings to prevent any debris from hurling out of the center, and warpped her tail around the station to keep herself stable. “To all militia personnel,” she said into the microphone, projecting her voice to any high-ranked ship. “The pin- The light Type 0 being in the center of the market is friendly. Under no circumstances are you to fire a weapon at them, or you could cause a premature destruction of the station.”
One of her screens silently filed with various generals confirming that they heard the announcement, while another lit up with connection request from Monsele’s ship. Krestean accepted it, simultaneously opening up the galaxy map.
“I’ve put the automatic announcer on a loop inside of the station, just for safety,” Monsele said as she adjusted her connection so that she could see through a camera behind Krestean. “You think the Beast was connected to this in any way?”
“Oh, I know it,” Krestean said, saving camera footage to send over to her friend. “There were humans on the ship, I’ll send the feed in a moment. Disappeared the moment alarms started to flare up. Charles said they went to one of the anomalous planets.”
“So it confirms our suspicion. Where did he go by the way?” Monsele asked, turning the camera slightly to scan the edges of the room.
“He’s right he-” Krestean paused as she was about to point at the large mass of tentacles on her left, realizing Monsele’s looking through a camera. “You won’t see him, but he’s here,” she said, increasing the size of the galaxy map on the screen to make it easier for the nycomb to see. “Now Charles, where’s the other planet?”
“I didn’t want to be the one to do it…” he said, hesitantly approaching the console “Thera’s right here,” He zoomed into a not-too-distant star system. “Well, somewhere around here in the liquid water zone. It can be anywhere around the orbit.”
“Alright, and how do we get from Threa to the other anomalous planet?”
“What do you mean?” Monsele asked as she copied the coordinates to her own map. “The coords you have are different to the ones from Hiamora.”
“Huh?” Krestean checked the routing logs in confusion. “What did you say the name of the planet was again?”
“Thera,” the abilno responded, causing Krestean to blink in astonishment.
“Couldn’t you come up with anything more distinct than that?”
“We’re not good with naming things, and there were no sentient locals, so we just switched letters around,” he said, his words invoking the image of rolling eyes in Krestean’s head. “Point is, that’s where you want to head.”
“Alright, alright. Monsele, you got that?” Krestean asked, turning to face the camera behind her.
“Yep. An hour’s journey, but still within Neastia’s borders.”
“Good. Go there, I’ll catch up later,” Krestean said, closing the feed before the nycomb could protest. “Charles, go with her,” she continued, zooming out the map and inputting coordinates she knew by heart, but never dared to go to. “Don’t wait for me, just make sure the ship’s beacon is operational.”
A soft tingle in her mind told her that, instead of asking questions, Charles was attempting to get information from her thoughts directly. An attempt she didn’t simply let happen. “You make Tresno look like an amateur.”
“Because you’re not really trying. And because I’m not a creature of energy. Now go,” she waited for Charles to disappear before engaging FTL engines and moving into the adjacent room. “Alright, now how did that thing work,” she mumbled to herself, clearing out the table in front of her.
She spent the entire three hour journey tinkering around, creating and destroying cables, displays and electric circuits; joining them together within a white triangular box. This is an archaic technology, she thought to herself as she turned the device on. It pinged and the screen displayed white noise. I think that’s how it’s supposed to look…
Having the device in her grasp, she returned to the control room and waited for the ship to reach its destination. Several long minutes later, the outside world returned to the screens showing the black, starry cosmos. Within this speckled void, a blue marble grew closer and closer into view. Now where would you hide, she thought, not expecting the detector to pick up anything from orbit.
As she passed the clouds, she observed the planet below. It was mostly covered by blue oceans, spreading far and wide. Where the ocean gave out to land, it was often a scarce mix of brown and green, with large quantities of sandy deserts all throughout the center belt of the planet. Hard to believe this once looked like Thera… No, Threa… or I guess both… I think… She aimed the ship towards the poles, where thicker greenery seemed to still thrive. As she flew over a set of islands below, the detector in her hands let out a ping, followed by a continuous beeping as an amber dot appeared near the top right corner of the screen. “It works!” She said out loud with glee, slowing the ship down, so that she could adjust the course.
Before she even got the chance to re-engage the thrusters, an angry voice sounded within the ship. “You promised not to go near Earth.”
“Because you were worried I’d trap myself,” Krestean said without turning around, focusing on leading the ship towards where the device originally spotted Drakian.
“Indeed. We are close to freeing me, but I am still trapped. You could have just sent Monsele if you needed me.”
“But see, there is no danger,” she responded carelessly, slowly moving the ship forward.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Raphael,” she said, turning around. “He’s trapped on Threa similarly how you are trapped here. Yet a copy of him, a literal copy, is able to roam the Universe freely. However the lock works, it’s specific to a being, not a wide energy scan.”
“What if the two locks aren’t the same?”
“As far as I can tell, they both come from artifacts. More-so, both originated on Earth.” She crossed her arms with a smile, leaning her back against the machinery behind her. “And if I’m wrong then I guess you’ll be stuck here with me for a few however-longs it will take you to figure it out.”
“Hopefully you are right,” Drakian said in resignation. “Did you come here just to tell me that? Were you not heading for Thera?”
“Monsele’s there,” Krestean said, surprised the dragon knew the name of the planet. “Waiting for you actually.”
“I was not meant to come, why is she waiting?”
“Okay, maybe she’s not, I don’t actually know,” Krestean scratched herself behind the ear, turning around again to lower the ship and slow it down even further. “I think Charles will make her wait since he knows I went to get you. But if not, you seem to know where the planet is regardless.”
“I do not. Charles simply told me some basic information when we were discussing your plan back on Threa,” the dragon walked up to the console, gently moving the steers with his paw. “I assume you want to find someone who can put the protection on me so I can leave.” Krestean nodded, moving away from the controls and towards the galaxy map. “Bast is very close,” the dragon added as Krestean brought back past coordinates, showing Drakian where Thera is supposedly located.
The ship calmly flew over the waters, passing a handful of islands before landing on the rocky shore of one that seemed no different to all the others. The two walked out of the ship, and towards the middle of the island. “Should I be leaving the ship all open like that?” Krestean asked, pausing to look back at her transport.
“There is nothing to worry about, no human will come this far from a city. They are a lazy bunch.”
“You’re being too harsh on them,” a voice came from the forest. Down the path strolled a tall man, wearing gray shorts and a loose white shirt. “They all believe most of Earth is an irradiated wasteland. Hence why they come out so rarely.”
“Spare the explanation, she cannot understand you.”
“Actually, I can,” Krestean said with a smile, pointing to a miniscule white device, blending in with the white fur around her ears. “Didn’t forget to bring a translator this time.”
“This time? Have you been here before?” He asked, letting the dragon pass him on the road.
“Oh, no, I meant… Nevermind,” she caught up with the human, and together they jogged up to the dragon. “Drak, can he not do it? Where are we going?”
“He is not knowledgeable enough,” the dragon responded. “We’re going to Bast.”
“Who is he then? He’s taking the landing of an extraterrestrial surprisingly well.”
“My name is Cavem, although nowadays I go by Cane. I have already seen a fair share of weird, in large part thanks to Mr. Dragon here; so it takes much more than a simple weird creature to freak me out,” he smiled nonchalantly as the trio approached a cave entrance. “What’s your name by the way?”
The human nodded and ran ahead of the group, into the dark cavern. “Ma, we’ve got visitors! Drak brought another alien, new one this time!”
“For Ra’s sake, I literally just came back!” a female voice sounded from within the darkness. “I am not going on any more space trips for another decade with you and your friends, end of discussion.”
Krestean gave Drakian a confused look, but he paid her no attention to her as they followed Cavem. The interior of the cave seemed more akin to a large, windowless mansion than a naturally sculpted opening in a rock. Its sides were flattened and decorated by rugs, paintings and a small chandelier, with doorways large enough to fit a dragon in them, heading in all three directions. “Do not worry, this time it will only be me.”
“Good,” Bast spoke, coming out of the room on the left. She was walking barefoot on the stone tiles, wearing a light dress, and drying her hands with a towel. To Krestean’s surprise, her head did not resemble a cat, fitting with the rest of her body no different than a normal human would, with dark hair cut slightly above the shoulders. She paused in the doorway as she noticed Krestean, eying her up and down. “Is this…”
“Well, pleasure to finally meet you, Krestean. The name’s Bast, but you probably already know that,” she came closer to the tariek, outstretching her hand for a handshake. “I didn’t expect to see you until we’d clear Drakian’s curse. What brings you here?”
“She came to get me to come help them,” Drakian answered, standing still in the center of the room.
“Two requests back to back? I sense there is some trouble going on,” Bast said as a small metal spike appeared in her hand. “Horus said that yesterday he lost contact after a short while, yet you were away for many an hour. Will this be similar?” She asked, lighting up the tip of her spike with a purple glow.
“Most likely,” Drakian spoke calmly, taking on a solid form. “No need for you to bring out the cat.”
“Shukran,” she responded, forcing the metal in her hand into the dragon’s body. She quickly drew a circle, leaving behind a purple ring as she moved on to the other side. “Okay, now force it,” she said, to which the dragon disappeared, reappearing almost instantaneously, with the inside of the two rings glowing bright white. Within a fraction of a second the rings begun to thicken, filling up the inside and completely covering the white light. “There, first try.”
“I will fly ahead,” Drakian spoke, folding his wings over the fresh purple spots. “Get to us when possible, you know where to.”
Krestean nodded, watching the dragon vanish into thin air. “Before you go”, Bast spoke, the spike in her hand vanishing into purple sparks. “How dire is the situation?”
“Very,” Krestean said in a matter-of-fact tone, “I should not hang around, it will take a while to travel to the rest.”
“Yes, yes. But a few minutes won’t make the difference, will they?” She asked, turning around and heading towards the doorway opposite of the entrance. “I have something here that may come in handy, but I need to disconnect it from our machinery here. It will not take long, promise.” With that, she disappeared into the dark room. Reluctantly, Krestean followed.