“How much farther?”
“Humans have so little patience,” The CMA replied. “It’s a good thing that us CMAs were programmed with an unlimited supply of that. Or else, I would have been bored to death for the past five hundred years.”
“Will you answer my question, Cahokia?” Zade asked again.
“About eight miles by walking.”
“Say,” Zade began, “Now that I think about it, why are these tunnels straight forward?”
“Straight forward?” Cahokia questioned. “Weren’t you miserably lost before encountering me?”
“No,” Zade shook his head, “I meant to ask why these tunnels were going forward instead of down. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Didn’t you experience the gravitational bend when you entered the underground area? I'm pretty sure that when you enter the co-ordinance tunnels, the gravitational bend is present.”
“Well, I was actually teleported to unmarked co-ordinates, along with the rest of my friends, so no.”
“Well, that explains why you didn’t understand the structure of the tunnels. Right now, if compared to the surface right above us, the tunnel is perpendicular to it.”
Zade thought about it for a moment. Perpendicular.
“To ease your perception, think of the surface as the floor, and a wall as the surface of this tunnel, then invert the image vertically, and you’ve got yourself a mental picture.”
“Okay,” Zade said slowly, still not sure how that worked out.
“It’s alright,” Cahokia replied, “Most people don’t get it.”
“Stop patronizing me.”
“I have to ask you though, why do you have such a human-like behavior? Sometimes, you sound like a robot, sometimes like a human.”
Cahokia shook his head for a moment.
“I am an artificial intelligence interface, as I stated when we met. As I spent a considerable amount of time above the surface within the city of Valhalla, as a consultant to many engineering teams, I picked up their speech as well, and it mixed with the communicative abilities I was programmed with.”
“Wait, you were in Valhalla?” Zade asked, thoroughly surprised.
“Yes.” Cahokia responded, his sapphire eyes gleaming as the two walked through cave. The air had become much colder, and the brightness of the cave had reduced as well.
It didn’t bother either of them, though. Zade felt better in the cold, while Cahokia was insensitive to any such environmental conditions.
“Has the city changed, Sir?” Cahokia’s voice held something that Zade never expected from a robot. It was nostalgia.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen the city as it was centuries ago.”
Cahokia nodded his headed lightly, and the two kept walking in silence for a little while.
“We have arrived.”
Zade stopped, and so did Cahokia, as the tunnel widened into a small room, with a broad corridor ahead. The difference was apparent. The corridor was tiled, smooth and much warmer. Zade looked at Cahokia.
“So, before we go in, do you mind telling me what kinds of things there are in there?”
“Gladly,” Cahokia replied, “After all, you’re doing all the fighting. I’m just going to isolate the corrupt data, then reset functions.”
“Whatever,” Zade mumbled nonchalantly.
“So first you have Siauhus. I believe you know enough about them to kill them without much of a problem.”
“Good, next we have Oratos.”
Cahokia paused for a second, then his eyes projected a hologram. The creature displayed was humanoid. Its hands and arms were lined with sharp blades. It was slender, elegant-looking and was completely white in color.
“These creatures are very nimble, and only one of them is present in the core room ahead. But this thing is what will cause you a lot of trouble. It is the leader of all the creatures in the room. It will order the rest of the lot to back off, as it tries to single-handedly defeat its target. If it fails, the horde behind it attacks. If it wins, it absorbs you completely.”
Cahokia let out a good natured laugh. “Yes, this is what I said when being uploaded with its data. It is impervious to any elemental skills, so you have to depend on your sword for this one. The blades on its arms can pierce through almost anything. So I suggest that we approach the place with stealth instead of bursting in.”
“Next?” Zade completely ignored the last part, because he knew that there was no avoiding a fight.
The holographic image changed. The creature was yet again humanoid, but it was shorter, fatter and grumpier-looking. The color of its hide was a dull brown.
“These are Paladins. They are the exact opposite of Oratos. They are loud, slow and rely solely on elemental abilities. The ones in the Core chamber are Aero-Paladins, meaning that they excel in manipulating the air currents around them.”
The image changed again. This time, it resembled a humongous lizard. The scales on its body were off a sickly green color. Its tail was full of sharp spikes, with a lot of weight added to it.
“These behemoths expel huge amounts of fire from their mouths, and can crush even large boulders with their tails. They are present in a large quantity here, second only to Siauhus.”
The image changed one last time. The creature that appeared had a small, black and petite body, which was completely dominated by four humongous crimson wings, which had razor sharp blades on the edges as well.
“This one is a Rejkosas. It spews acids on its victims, and the blades on its body are almost as strong as those of an Oratos.”
“So basically,” Zade began, “Everything in there is designed to kill.”
“How were these creatures brought into existence anyways?”
“Valdorians.” Cahokia replied.
“They kidnapped a few biological experts from Valhalla, and by giving the powers of Valdorians a physical form, these creatures were created. Siauhus are creatures of Ice, Oratos of Light, Behemoths of Fire and Rejkosas of Toxins. Paladins are creatures that were made from many different elemental powers.”
“Wow,” Zade exhaled, “So if I go in there, I’m basically committing suicide?”
“If you somehow beat Oratos, then you still have to fight off the hordes of creatures remaining.”
“I think,” Zade said, “I have a plan for that.”
Cahokia looked at Zade, and titled his head in confusion.
“Turn on your mind reading feature.”
Cahokia did as instructed. As soon as his computer breached Zade’s thoughts, he shuddered.
“You’re crazy if you think that this will work. Especially if you defeat Oratos. You will be in no condition-”
“You will do it.”
“But there is no guarantee...”
“Cahokia.” Zade said sternly.
The two started preparing for what they were about to do. Half an hour later, they walked into the corridor. As soon as they stepped into it, the lights started becoming brighter and brighter until it was fully lit.
Zade drew his sword. Shadow Blade seemed to respond to his emotions, as its edge glowed brightly.
I have never seen a bigger idiot in my life.
The voice had returned. Zade had been hoping that it didn’t, because the only thing it was going to do was distract him, which Zade figured was what the voice wanted.
“No I don’t!”
Zade smacked the side of his head once.
“Buzz off.” He told the foreign presence.
“Relax,” Zade spoke out loud. “Just concentrate.”
“That is correct, just be patient and poised.” Cahokia spoke into his mind.
Zade closed his eyes for a second, gathering all his courage, before opening them, and as he started walking, the shadows besides him followed, like a faithful servant after its master.
The core room was ginormous. It was like a sphere in its shape. The walls were white, with black streaks spread out evenly, lining the insides of the sphere. Zade found himself standing on a small ledge overlooking the entire chamber.
The supercomputer was far below him, encased within a protective ionic barrier, while the rest of the place was filled with the various creatures Cahokia had shown him.
“Now,” He spoke, “To grab their attention.”
He looked around to see Cahokia. Of course, there was no nervousness visible on his face, but Zade could sense it otherwise.
Cahokia came forward, as he looked over the edge, seeing the seemingly unlimited number of creatures that inhabited the chamber.
Zade raised his sword, and he felt reached out to the shadows besides him. They grabbed Cahokia, and gently lowered him towards the Ionic Barrier.
As Zade did so, he maintained his focus.
Drop him, why don’t you?
“Not now,” Zade mumbled through his teeth.
After all, you do remember what you did to Sven and Amanda…
Zade gripped the hilt of Shadow Blade even more tightly. Down below, some of the creatures had spotted the shadows that were descending upon them. But he didn’t bother to stop. He checked to see if Cahokia was nearing the barrier, and just as Cahokia touched the barrier, Zade dropped him.
Cahokia landed on his feet. A paladin gave out a below, and charged towards Cahokia, but as it connected with the Ionic Barrier, the poor creature was blown back, smashing into several other creatures.
Zade took a deep breath, as it spotted the Oratos rise from where it was resting.
The magnificent creature looked right into Zade’s eyes, dark clashing with white.
The rest of them knew what to do. They cleared up a small area in the middle, jumping up onto the walls, some even covered the wall near to where Zade was standing.
Zade leaped off the ledge, as he landed about fifty meters below, right at the edge of the ring created by the monsters.
He raised his sword, as the edge glowed brightly.
The Oratos gave off a blinding white aura, making the surroundings even brighter, but Zade willed all the shadows to surround him, countering the brightness with his own darkness.
A second later, both the Oratos and Zade charged towards each other.
Their first strikes met each other in a powerful clash, that sent both of them backwards, but as soon as the two regained their footing, they attacked again.
Zade and Oratos exchanged blows at such blinding speed that it was invisible to the other creatures in the room.
As the two kept coming at each other, it was apparent that their power was matched. That was when the voice returned.
Hit it! Come on now, kill it you weakling!
“Not now!” Zade shouted.
His frustration returned, as his anger blinded his ability to think clearly. Images started to appear in front of him.
The decapitated bodies of Sven and Amanda.
The corpses of his dead friends.
Zade faltered, and that was what the Oratos was waiting for. It slashed is blade, and Zade raised his left arm in defense.
From somewhere, Zade heard Cahokia yell “NO!” as the blade cut off his hand. Before Zade had a chance to register the pain, the Oratos kicked him in the chest, and sent him flying into the wall.
He blasted into the hard surface, and slid down the curve of the wall.
After a few seconds, Zade got back up. His whole body ached with pain, especially his left arm. It almost made him black out. He grabbed his arm in an attempt to relieve it, but then, the Oratos came towards him again, and Zade launched off the surface, landing on the other side of the wall. The gravity of the place was what enabled him to escape.
“Now what?” Zade muttered, as a large amount of blood leaked from his wrists.
I can help. The voice sounded quite solemn.
“How?!” He yelled.
Like this, the voice said.
The shadows that had been surrounding Zade deepened, as they creeped up his legs, and onto his arms.
Where his hand had been, the shadows took the shape of a blade.
Zade stared in shock, as the newly formed blade started becoming encased within a layer of dark ice.
Think you can battle with two blades, kid?
“Whose side are you on?”
I want you to experience pain, Zade. But at the same time, letting you die will not be suitable to me.
“Who are you? What are you?”
Kill this inferior creature first. Then I’ll tell.
Zade glanced at the Oratos. It was waiting for Zade to strike it, as if it was that sure of itself.
“Fine,” Zade muttered, “Let’s do this another way.”
He raised his sword above his head, and the shadows surrounded his entire body.
Zade yelled, as he yet again launched himself towards the Oratos.
The Oratos countered quickly. It was out speeding Zade, forcing him to use each and every ounce of his energy.
Then, as the Oratos saw an opening, it struck Zade, and as soon as the blade connected with Zade’s shadowy aura, the Oratos was let out a huge scream of agony. It dropped its defenses, and as it did, Zade took a moment to wonder why the Oratos suddenly stopped.
It was a harsh sight. The Oratos was writhing in pain, its bright aura gone, as the creature struggled to get up.
Zade complied without giving it a second thought. He brought both his blades down on the creature’s neck, and a second later, the headless body of the great Oratos smacked hard against the floor, its ooze covered head a few inches away from the corpse.
For a moment, everything was silent. Zade glanced around. The monsters were in pure shock.
That’s when chaos erupted.