Tyson felt like an idiot.
Not like it was his fault.
He had simply failed to act like grown up. More like an overgrown wimp.
Tyson was not a coward. Yet, in front of everyone, he acted like one.
He knew that everyone needed him to remain focused, and safely transport him to the outer layer of the concentric ice cover, but he chose to display the terror built up inside him, unlike the rest of his friends, who simply ignored it.
So there he sat, sprawled on a makeshift bed, which he had made out a sheet of plastic and by attaching levitation magnets.
Next to him, on the other bed, lay Cameron. He was staring at the night sky, his eyes wide open, and his mouth slightly agape.
“What?” Tyson asked, “What are you looking at?”
“Nothing,” Cameron replied, “Just waiting for the day to begin.”
It had been several hours since they arrived in the ruins of the city of Venn. While their leader Zade had ventured off on his own, the girls had left to have a “talk”. What it was about, neither of the guys had any idea. But when they returned, Elizabeth seemed quite shaken.
But the day those two would actually share something with Cameron and him, Tyson would start walking on his arms.
A few hours later, Zade had returned, looking visibly pale. He too, refused to share anything. So much for a team.
Tyson had always had his suspicions about Zade. He seemed like a shady character, who could wreck havoc whenever the hell he wanted with that sword of his.
Tyson had heard legends about that sword. He heard how it cleave through metal like it was nothing, and how ingenious its creators were, that they managed to fit a small cold-fusion device inside the edge of the black iron blade, allowing creation of vortexes of extremely cold temperatures, even by the standards of their planet.
And Zade just happened to own it.
The guy claimed to have no memory, which made him appear even more suspicious. He instantly thought him to be a Valdorian spy, but acted otherwise.
Then of course, he got to know him, and most of his suspicions went away.
Tyson started calling Zade the leader of their group, and even Cameron and Tyson followed him.
Gia, of course, liked him a lot.
Tyson had never seen anyone Gia so comfortable with a newcomer. Heck, she was known to be quite shy. But all that went out of the window with Zade.
However, ever since they regrouped, his feelings of suspicion returned, as he and Cameron contemplated the technicalities involved with teleporting to the middle of the planet without any aid.
Not the aid he was looking for anyways.
But Zade seemed dead sure that it was possible.
Tyson sighed. In less than a few hours, they were about to attempt the teleportation.
He had mentally reckoned the location where they would appear, but he was nervous. What if he drove them into a wall or something?
Now now, Tyson, He chided, For once, focus on the positive.
He stood up and stretched a bit.
“You going somewhere?” Cameron asked lazily.
“Yeah, I’m going to go and take a walk. You know, clear my head a bit.”
“Okay. See you later.”
Tyson walked towards the place where the survivors were resting up. He instantly found who he was looking for.
Dressed in white and blue, with messy brown hair and rimless glasses, Tyson’s friend Emily was sat huddled in a corner, with tears glistening in her eyes.
Tyson had met Emily two years before, when she was visiting Valhalla with her parents. Her father, Colonel Thomas Anderson was one of the most senior military officials in Venn, and they had come to Valhalla for an urgent meeting. Tyson befriended her, but had very little contact with Emily due to the strict communication regulations.
When he heard that Venn had been attacked, his thoughts went instantly to her.
Tyson bent down, and put his hand on her shoulder.
She looked up, and gave a weak smile.
“…” Tyson didn’t know what to say. A year of silence, and the situation they were in, really robbed him of any conversation starters. He had expected her to just remain silent, not to respond. Then,
“Uh….Hi. How are you doing?”
He felt like an idiot saying that.
She just lost her parents, and unlike Tyson, who would be more than happy if someone killed his bastard of a father, she obviously was devastated.
He felt that the situation had become too awkward. So he simply got up, squeezed her shoulder once more and turned around to walk away. Suddenly, from behind him,
So much for a conversation, Tyson thought. He walked back, and quietly lay down on his makeshift bed.
“So, you have a secret girlfriend?” As soon as Tyson opened his eyes, he heard Cameron say. He nearly fell out of his bed.
“W-what now?” Tyson stuttered.
“That girl over there you were talking to earlier. I remember her from a couple of years ago. Daughter of that, uh, what’s his name. The military guy.”
“Col. Thomas Anderson.”
“Yeah, that guy.”
“Dude,” Tyson sighed, “She’s just my friend. I hadn’t talked to her for a year, and hadn’t seen her for two. I just went over to, you know, uh…”
“Offer your condolences? Comfort her?” Cameron prompted.
“You could say that.”
“Okay. Just checking if my buddy found a girl or not.”
Tyson felt annoyed.
“Yeah,” he responded, “Because you’re so popular, you’ve got girls surrounding you left, right and center.”
Cameron opened his mouth to say something, but closed it the next second.
“Thought so.” Tyson muttered.
“Anyways,” Cameron began, trying to change the topic, “Zade told us to meet him in about an hour, so get ready.”
“What about the girls, plus the elites? Where do we rendezvous?”
“Central Library…or its ruins. Whatever.” Cameron yawned, and then rubbed his eyes.
“Man, I’m sleepy.”
An hour later, everyone was assembled near the ruined library, some looking fresh, while some (cough, Cameron, cough) didn’t. Zade stood in front of the crowd, apparently in a better mood.
“All right,” He addressed the rest of them, “I hope the plan is clear. Tyson,” Zade pointed at him, “will teleport us to the given co-ordinates, and then we will try to break the outermost ice layers. We have only two chances. The first is by using this,” He paused, and waved his sword around for everyone to see, “or by Elizabeth’s flames.”
“I’m going first, then,” Elizabeth interrupted, “Because I don’t want to waste time watching you scratching ice with that thing in your hands.”
Zade looked offended.
“If we succeed,” he paused. Tyson knew what he was thinking. He bet that everyone else was as well. This If was a big if.
“Yeah, so as I was saying,” He continued, “If we succeed, then Tyson will teleport Sven and Amanda, who will deliver the news up above, while the rest of us will continue to travel through the several layers of ice, which will hopefully have some cavities in it. According to the several tests and scans conducted by the scientists in Valhalla, there are several cavities, but the test was conducted a year ago.”
“How much cavity is there? In walking distance, I mean.” Tyson asked.
“Well,” Gia began, “I’d say a hundred kilometers of walking distance in total, with several meters of ice sheets per layer. There are several layers. We know of at least eight.”
“In short, this is going to be a gigantic pain in the-”
“Yeah, we know, Elizabeth,” Tyson cut her short.
“So, Tyson, are you ready?”
“Yeah.” This time he responded confidently.
Everyone gathered around Tyson, as he closed his eyes and concentrated.
It was very difficult for him to imagine the place, even though he’d seen the photographs provided by the Exploration Team.
He cleared his mind.
“This is the first step in teleportation,” A voice inside his head rang.
Tyson shuddered. He hadn’t heard the voice in five years. He wondered why it returned now.
Then, he tried his best to recreate the visual environment of the place inside his head. A dimly lit, cold cave with no visible exits, and one side of it encased in thick layers of ice. Dark ice, to be exact.
The next step was to imagine himself, and along with him, the rest of his friends, as constants in a shifting three dimensional plane. He willed all of them to shift their location on the plane, to the place in the cave. He willed each and every molecule of theirs to shift.
And then, he felt the ground disappear beneath his feet, and moments later, it was replaced by something softer, something…colder.
Tyson opened his eyes.
All of the others were looking around, with confused looks on their faces.
Tyson wondered why everyone was looking so lost.
The surroundings seemed familiar to the photographs. Dim lit, awfully cold.
That’s when he realized what was wrong. There were no ice layers.
Tyson had transported them somewhere else.
Tyson looked up from where he had been sitting down with his head between his hands and legs.
Everyone had instantly searched for any possible ice formations, but even if they did, what was to say it was in the wrong direction. There were two passages, but at least for a couple of kilometers, there weren’t any ice layers.
“Well?” Sven looked at him.
“I…I don’t know.”
“Should we go back up?” Amanda suggested.
“No,” Tyson replied, “For all we know, I might end up teleport us into a nest of Siauhus.”
“It’s not your…”Zade paused. He wanted to say that it wasn’t Tyson’s fault, but since he was the one in charge of the teleportation, there was no one else to blame.
“Well,” he continued, “It was difficult without the help of the teleportation pad in the library, so the chances of succeeding in the teleportation were not all that high. You tried your best.”
“You’re not cheering him up, Captain Sunshine,” Cameron muttered.
“So,” Sven again asked, “What do we do, Zade?” This time Sven asked him instead of Tyson as he was the leader.
“I suggest splitting up. There are seven of us. There are two paths up ahead.” Zade replied hopefully.
“Not a good idea, boss.” Cameron muttered.
“We have communicators,” Gia replied, “So contacting each other shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Do they work? In here? With all this ice?” Elizabeth countered.
Gia picked up two the communicators.
“Check?” She spoke into one.
The other one crackled, “Ch%$#eck?”
Everyone looked at her.
“We’ll make do with this.” Zade came to her rescue.
“So,” Amanda began, “The groups?”
“Yeah, uh…the first group will have Elizabeth, Gia, Tyson and Cameron. The other one will be me, Sven and Amanda.”
“And how does that work?” Elizabeth questioned.
“Well, you and I can’t be in the same group, as only the two of us have a shot at breaking the layers. Secondly, well….just because.”
“You have a problem with us?” Tyson asked.
His suspicions returned. Why was Zade not keen to travel with them?
“No, absolutely not. But, humor me?”
Tyson grabbed one two of the communicators, leaving only one with Zade.
“Goodbye for now,” He said, “Contact us as soon as possible if you find anything.”
And with that, the two parties headed their own ways, each off to find the core of the planet.
“So,” Sven broke the silence, “Why did you choose to team up with us.”
“… Just because,” Zade absently replied.
Sven and Amanda looked at each other. To them, something seemed strange about how secretive Zade was behaving.
“Hey bud,” Sven began, but Zade raised a finger.
Silently, he drew his sword.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Amanda questioned.
Shadow Blade glowed brightly, as huge icicles shot out of the floor, surrounding the three of them in a cage.
"Cryokinesis?!" Amanda took a step back. Sven just stared in horror, as Zade's sword was surrounded in shadows.
Zade smirked as he menacingly swung his sword and walked towards the siblings, who backed up against the tendrils of ice.