“Zade here,” He spoke into the communicator, “We’ve have successfully destroyed several ice layers. For a while, we tried to tell you over the communicator, but we seemed to have lost contact. Are you guys alright? Position unknown, but I think that we might be approaching the core. See you there. Bye!”
He sighed heavily as he shut the microphone down.
The communicator crackled, “Zade...ggrf…….Valdorian Underground Headquarters………….shshshsshsshssshshshssh…….sixty miles of here to rescue Cameron and Elizabeth. See you at the…shsshsshsh…!
Zade raised an eyebrow. Rescue? Valdorian Underground HQ? Why the hell were they there?
He abandoned that train of thought as he shoved the communicator inside the pocket of his jacket.
Zade grabbed his sword, bag and continued walking down the seemingly endless passage towards the core.
He hadn’t slept in two days now, but how could he? After what he had done to Sven and Amanda…
Zade considered lying to Tyson and the rest when they would meet up, and simply say that they were mowed down by a bunch of Siauhus who took them by surprise, and that Zade barely managed to escape.
Yes, Zade thought, that’s the only thing I can do.
No, Another voice inside his head said, you will slice their bodies to shreds, blast the core to pieces and vanish forever.
Zade fell down on his knees in agony.
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” He yelled, desperate to find peace inside his head.
As soon as he split up with his friends, something had taken over Zade, something that awoke the bloodlust that lay dormant inside him.
Zade had turned his sword to face Sven and Amanda, and even as they begged him to stop, he raised Shadow Blade and…
No, Zade thought, don’t think of it.
Zade realized that he had been feeling light-headed right from when he had first used his umbrakinesis on the Valdorian Raiders.
Zade got up, and continued walking, trying to think of something, anything other than what he had done, but he just couldn’t let the memory go.
“Zade!” Sven shouted, now panicking. Zade had sliced his sword into two when he had tried to defend himself, and cut off Amanda’s hand when she tried to pull out hers.
“Snap out of it! Amanda’s hurt! Why can’t you see that?”
“SHUT UP!” Zade roared.
He waved Shadow Blade, aiming at Sven’s head, but Amanda put herself in between, and as the edge of the blade connected with her neck, a split second later, Sven and Zade were showered in blood…
“A-A-Amand….AMANDA!” Sven screamed, his eyes wide in shock, as his sister’s decapitated head landed at his feet.
“There,” Zade said, “She won’t hurt anymore. And now, neither will you.”
Sven looked wide-eyed at him filled with disgust and hatred.
Zade didn’t bother to answer. He simply swung Shadow Blade.
Another shower of blood, another sickening thud, and Zade simply stood there, with the dead bodies of the elite siblings at his feet.
Zade grabbed a water capsule from his bag and popped it open. He took out the container, poured some water in his other hand, and splashed his face with it. He repeated it for some time, then closed off the capsule and put it back in.
Sven’s question still rung inside his head.
Zade tried to push it outside his head, but didn’t find any means do so.
He then tried answering it.
Zade still wasn’t sure why he did it. It was the same feeling he had when he had regrouped with Cameron, Elizabeth and Tyson near Venn. That blood lust….it was overpowering.
Something compelled him. That was the only thing he was certain of. That...thing had penetrated his thoughts, controlled his actions.
But it also increased his powers.
He remembered how effortlessly he had broken through the first layer of ice he had encountered.
Zade stopped walking, as he ran into another ice layer.
Speak of the devil.
He grabbed Shadow Blade, and concentrated for a second. The edge of the sword glowed brightly, as the tip was shrouded in solidified shadows. Zade simple thrust the sword into the ice barrier.
The area was filled with the sound similar to that of glass shattering, as the barrier cracked, and finally broke apart.
Zade simply stepped over the broken fragments.
He continued walking for another hour or so, with the memory of his recent crime replaying inside his head.
Zade felt uneasy again. It happened every time he used his powers, besides the overpowering desire to chop something down.
He tried to use these powers of his as less as possible, but given the fact that he still had quite a few barriers left, according to research he had heard about in Venn, Zade had no choice but to put up with the uneasiness.
Zade decided to stop and rest, as there seemed to be no point in continuing if he felt unwell.
Yeah, he thought, your friends are out there probably facing so many unknown dangers, and you’re here curled up like a coward. What bravery. What leadership.
Zade realized that these were not, in fact, his thoughts, but of whatever the heck that had managed to enter his mind.
Shut up, Zade told the intruder.
Okay, but I will be back. Rest up till then.
Why you- Zade stopped as he realized that he was about to impale the sword inside his head.
He became frustrated, knowing that the voice inside his head had known he would try and do this. Zade became worried, as he feared how much the thing had seen inside his memories and thoughts.
“I swear,” Zade muttered silently, “If this thing doesn’t stop, I might just kill myself. Better than being screwed around with.”
Zade closed his eyes, trying to get some sleep. For quite
As it finally came, he heard the voice go off inside his head.
Dream, It said, this will be fun.
Zade dreamed of when he was back in the Central Dome of Valhalla with his friends. It had been one the few days when everything was so peaceful, even he seemed to forget the problems that were going on with the Valdorians.
He and his friends were sitting in on floating chairs, each one relaxed, sleepy and not willing to do any training.
The surroundings suddenly turned freezing cold, and the bright light that was emanating from the roof of the dome turned black, leaving the once cozy atmosphere to be harsh and unwelcoming.
Zade turned to see his friends, but when he did, his heart nearly leapt out of his mouth.
All four of them sat, wide-eyed, with their throats slit, limbs chopped off, as their dead eyes seemed to glare at him accusingly.
Why? A loud voice rang inside his head.
Zade covering his ears in an attempt to cut off the voice, but it kept growing louder and louder until he felt like his brain was melting. He fell to the ground, begging the voice to stop.
As the mutilated corpses walked towards him, he snapped. He grabbed his sword, and sliced the remains of his friends down.
Zade paused for a second, then let out a wail of agony.
Suddenly, everything was quiet.
The dead bodies of his friends vanished.
They were replaced by a shadowy figure standing right in front of him.
When Zade said shadowy, he meant shadowy.
The person, if it was a person, was enshrouded completely in black. Zade couldn’t make out whether or not the person had a face or not. The only distinct feature was the person’s weapon.
It was Shadow Blade.
Zade checked his side, and yet Shadow Blade was besides him. He picked it up and stood to face the person.
“Who are you?” Zade screamed.
“You should know,” The shadow’s voice was deep, calm, collected.
The shadow touched Zade’s blade with his, and the two merged. As they did so, the shadow walked right into Zade.
Zade woke up with a start. He grabbed his head, trying to shake of the dream.
Nice dreams, Zade.
Zade smacked his head with his own fist.
Shut the hell up, He thought.
Don’t you want to know who the person in your dreams was?
He hesitated for a moment.
Zade did want to know who the person in his dreams was, but before he could he could reply, a piercing sound cut through the air.
Zade knew the sound too well.
It was a Siauhu.
By the sound of it, Zade guess that it was only one, heading towards him.
He grabbed his sword, and stood ready to face it.
The great white beast appeared before him, its fangs bared as it gazed towards it prey.
But Zade had had enough for one day.
“Get out of my way,” He yelled, “I don’t have time for you.”
The creature, enraged, tensed its body as it prepared to lunge at Zade, but before it could cause any harm, streaks of blue light emanated from Shadow Blade. Zade swung it, as the sword let loose a wave of icicles that smashed into the creature.
It yelped as it was impaled in its legs, but it refused to give up.
“Fine,” Zade said, “Let’s do this.”
He gripped Shadow Blade tightly, and dashed towards the Siauhu. Using a ledge in the cave floor as a ramp, he leapt off, and while airborne, stabbed the sword into its head.
The Siauhu fell dead at his feet.
Zade dropped the blade and fell onto his knees. Using his powers drained a lot of energy out of him.
After he regained some energy, Zade got up and picked up his sword. He looked at the dead Siauhu, wondering why they were always after his blood.
Maybe because I can control ice.
But then, shouldn’t they be under his command, being essentially spirits of ice?
Zade noticed that his leg was bleeding. He had probably gotten cut at some point, but it was then that it started stinging badly.
He tore off a bit of his jacket, and wrapped it around his leg, to stop it from bleeding too much. All the medication capsules that he had received before splitting up with the rest of his friends had been spoiled before they even reached Venn, but Zade didn't tell them as he felt they were better off with more medical supplies. It gave him a little comfort as well.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he noticed some movement.
Zade became alert. Was it possible that some other Siauhu was waiting to catch him off-guard?
He pretended not to have seen it, as he turned around, acting like he was doing something, while whatever it was crept up to him, ready to pounce.
At the last moment, Zade turned. He had a split second in which he registered that the creature was humanoid, so he grabbed its throat and shoved it into the wall.
The creature groaned.
“Argh….” It let out a soft cry, “Please leave me, I’m sorry.”
Zade was severely shocked when it spoke, but he maintained his cold front and analyzed the creature.
It was almost as tall was Zade, with its entire body made of dark ice, and had eyes made of what Zade guessed to be sapphires. It didn’t have a mouth, so he wondered how it managed to get any sound out.
“What are you?”
“Don’t you mean, ‘who’?”
Zade was taken aback by that remark. The creature seemed to think of itself as an actual person instead of a monster.
“No, I mean, what kind of a creature are you?”
“I’m a CMA,” It spoke out, in a terrified voice, “My name is-”
He made a bunch of weird noises, which Zade could barely make out to be something similar to Cahokia.
“I’m going to call you Cahokia,” Zade replied, and as he saw the CMA was about to protest, he glared into its sapphire eyes, silencing it.
“What’s a CMA?”
“A CMA or a Core Maintenance Android is a robot with artificial intelligence, as I am. Our job is to maintain the core supercomputer, and thereby ensure the stability of this planet, which my makers termed ‘Blue Moon’”.
“Yeah okay, you seem to have done a terrific job with the maintenance, what with all the weather phenomena going on up on the surface.”
“I sincerely apologize for that,” Cahokia spoke, “But I’m afraid that I can’t help you much, now that the core is infested with so many different creatures. Siauhus, Oratos, Paladins, Behemoths and Rejkosas. They wiped out all of my fellow CMAs, and as I am not made for any sort of violence, it would suit me ill to launch an attack.”
Zade didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t heard the names of almost all of the creatures that Cahokia had told him about. He only knew about Siauhus.
“Can you take me to the core, Cahokia?” Zade asked.
“Were you not listening?” Cahokia replied. “It is infested with monsters.”
“Did you see what I did to the Siauhu right now?”
“That was just one Siauhu. We’re talking about several dozens of each kind of monsters. And even with one, you managed to get hurt, did you not?”
Zade thought about that.
“Well, I won’t directly engage them. I’ll just blast them away with ice and shadows.”
“Sir, I thought it drained you. You yourself think that it’s harmful to you. Won’t using it excessively be dangerous, and perhaps fatal?”
“Wait,” Zade said, “How the heck do-?
For a moment, he was stunned. Then, he thought about the voice in his head,
Zade tightened his grip around Cahokia’s neck and slammed him against the wall.
“Sir!” Cahokia exclaimed.
“You bastard,” Zade yelled, “You know what you put me through?”
“Sir, it wasn't all me. I had recently discovered my ability to read and interact with minds, mostly human minds, or of my fellow CMAs. I really wanted to use it, at least once. When I found a human mind in the vicinity, I couldn’t resist the urge to look around. But as I connected with your neural network, I found the presence of yet another conscience.”
"Yes. It was trying to manipulate your emotions, to make you feel angry. In the midst of that connection, I looked into your recent thoughts, and saw how much your powers drain you. I then left before the conscience could detect my presence in your mind as well."
Zade let his grip on Cahokia's neck.
He realized that he needed Cahokia to lead him to the core, and possibly alter the core program. So damaging him was not in Zade's best interests.
“Oh, no,” Cahokia said, as he caught onto Zade's thoughts, “I’m not doing it.”
“Then, should I smash you into bits?”
“…Why couldn’t I have been made out of platinum, or something?”
Zade smiled, probably for the first time since he entered Venn.
“You and I are going to best friends.”
“I don’t understand why humans say that." The android complained. "Every time they say it, I end up being hurt or damaged.”
“I have a proposal, though Cahokia.”
Cahokia looked at Zade for a few seconds.
“All right, if you can manage it, then I will help you.”
“Excellent,” Zade said, “but I need you to-”
“I won’t tell anyone that you killed Sven and Amanda Millers because of aggravated blood lust, fueled by the umbrakinesis. Besides, the probability of finding your friends Gia, Tyson, Cameron and Elizabeth is very little. If you people do manage to regroup, I will not, as my makers used to say, spill the beans.”
Zade felt annoyed. He didn't think Cahokia could look back that far into his memory as well. He was going to ask the android for something completely different.
“Yeah, okay that. But also, promise not to-”
“Complete your sentences for you by taking advantage of my telepathic powers? I’m switching the ability off for now. From now on, your thoughts are yours only.”
“Well, then, Cahokia,” Zade replied, “We have a deal."