Days were passing by before I knew it.
I had been in Valhalla for almost a week now, but it only felt as though a few hours had passed.
Every day was spent training in the Dome of Doom, as the soldiers and my new comrades called it.
The training group was itself divided into three parts. The first group was the Valhallan Corps., who specialized in sniping, hand-to-hand combat and battle tactics. They got the entire area below the main arena, which I found out about when I accidentally damaged the control unit that separated the two levels. They had it fixed pretty quickly, but it wasn't exactly easy to fight with swords with ninety percent of the area gone.
Speaking of sword-fighting, the second group, consisting of me, Elizabeth and Cameron honed our swordsmanship skills. We fought against each other for hours, and would only stop when the buzzer sounded. With each passing day, I was getting more and more used to handling my new sword, which was strange, considering its history.
After the first two days of training, I left the dome and searched the block area, where I had dropped the black sword I had fought with. It had seemed to fit perfectly in my hands, and unlike all the other borrowed swords, it had felt comfortable for the brief time I had held it. I found it near the Dome entrance, buried beneath the snow.
So, I brought it back, and to my surprise, everyone seemed to recognize it.
“That,” Elizabeth said, looking the sword up and down, “is the Shadow Blade”
I learnt that it had been the first blade to be wielded by Thanatos himself. What it was doing there, I had no idea.
Apparently, someone must have thought it cool to use the shiny old sword to siege Valhalla, but must’ve have dropped it or something.
Supposedly, it was a very powerful sword, though how someone managed to lose it, I couldn’t comprehend.
Well, finders’ keepers, losers’ weepers.
Anyways, I was much happier, because I was not exactly comfortable with the choice of weapons I had. All of the Valdorian Corps members usually took the dischargers and plasma guns. The Valdorians got additional access to a larger array of weapons, ranging from Spears, Staffs and Swords to one of those high-tech Vaporizers.
My sword, the “Shadow Blade” was made up of Black Iron, according to Tyson, who was also the Corps’ weapon specialist. He explained that the edge of the sword glowed dark blue because the blade had been enhanced with a cold-fusion generator that was able to generate an extreme sub-zero degree temperature conditions, which could enable me to generate a vortex of cold air, about five meters in diameter.
Yeah. At first either I didn’t get any of it either. And I wasn’t exactly able to utilize that feature.
Though, the sword itself was amazing. The fighting sessions went by easier. The sword handled like a dream. Every strike from it was fluid and accurate.
Elizabeth and Cameron started teaming up against me, and my only disadvantage was that every time I slacked, they put their kinetic skills to the use, and I used to end up charred and electrocuted.
The third group was Gia and Tyson. I remember Tyson fighting with a sword, but apparently, he was more of a staff guy, because Gia and he were relentlessly sparring with their staffs.
I had recently learnt that Gia and Tyson were brother and sister, as their names were Gia Valdore, and Tyson Valdore. Although, even Elizabeth and Cameron had ‘Valdore’ as their last names.
It had caused me quite the confusion.
“So they’re four siblings?” I had asked.
“No,” Dr. Sycamore had clarified, when I had gotten the opportunity to speak with him during the weekly health check up.
“It is the norm of the Valdorians to use ‘Valdore’ as their last names.”
So that was pretty much how a month of mine had passed on Valhalla.
One afternoon, I was in my room, resting up and reading some novel screens that I had borrowed from the archives. It was called “Blue Moon: The Making”. It held a detailed account of how the planet had been constructed, which I found rather interesting. Then, suddenly, Gia barged into my room.
“Hey Zade,” She greeted.
“Hey, Gia. What’s up?” I asked.
“Well, all of a sudden, I got this message from Colonel Stanley, who said that he wants all of us to be present at the HQ building.”
“By all of us, you mean-?”
“All of us,” She simply replied, “You, me, Elizabeth, Cameron and Tyson.”
“Okay, let me get ready.” I replied, feeling a bit lazy.
“Sure,” She smiled, “My brother already left, along with Elizabeth and Cameron, so that leaves just you and me.” She smiled and left the room.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel so lazy. I took a quick shower, put on fresh clothes and grabbed my sword as I headed out to the Dome parking, where Gia was waiting for me.
“So what’s so important?” I asked her.
“I don’t know. He sounded pretty serious, and I’ve learnt the hard way not to take things as a joke with him.”
I didn’t know what she meant by that, so I decided to stay quiet.
We took one of the Scavengers, and flew towards the HQ building. Upon arrival, both of us flashed our I.D cards to the guards, who then let us through. We quickly entered the building, and ran into Cameron and the rest.
“Hey, sis” Tyson yawned, and then held out his fist for me to bump it.
“What’s going on, Cameron?” I asked.
“Nobody knows. It’s all a big hush-hush. Only the top officials are allowed to the briefing area, and apparently, so are we.”
“Which only makes me fear for the worst” Elizabeth muttered, he hand stroking the edge of her sword.
All of us waited in the hall for half an hour, when finally, Sycamore emerged from the elevator.
“All of you,” he addressed us, “Go to the briefing room.”
“Now’s not the time for it, Gia.” Sycamore cut her off. “Head for the briefing room.”
So we did, ever so quietly. When we reached the top floor, we emerged into the briefing room.
It was exactly the same, except now, there were people sitting around the table, and technicians working on the various wall screens put up in the room.
“Welcome, Valdorians!” Stanley’s voice rang through the air, and everyone fell silent, and turned around to take a good look at us. “And welcome, Zade” He added, “Please take a seat, all of you.” He gestured towards a few empty seats right adjacent to his. We went, where all of us greeted every official seated there. They were mainly the administrative staff, with various bots flying around, tending to them. A few were doctors, like Sycamore.
“I would like to begin this meeting,” Stanley stood up and started, “by getting straight to the point, because we don’t have time for any standard protocol crap. Last night, there was an incident, which threatens our very planet.”
The entire room erupted in talk.
“Hey,” Elizabeth shouted, “pipe down!” Everybody looked at her, and shut up.
Stanley shot an appreciative look at her, before continuing.
“Last night, a contingent of our top soldiers was sent to the sector V-9, which is located a couple of miles south of Venn City.”
“Venn City?” I asked, confused because I distinctly remember Stanley saying-
“Well, yes Zade. Venn City is amongst the three secret cities that are located right below the atmospheric stabilizers. They can only be found when a person has the Access Code Driver with them. I know I told you that there only two cities on Blue Moon, but it was a top secret.”
“The city is encased within an Ionic Discharge Barrier, which renders it invisible and turns any unknowing trespasser to ashes.” One of the officials sitting at the other end of the table said.
“Thank you, Colonel Thales,” Stanley muttered, “So coming back to the point, the contingent was there to check up on the city, and once they entered, they found the city in ruins. Upon investigation of the stabilizer archive, they found out that…”
“That what, Stanley?” Another one of the officials dressed in a black suit asked.
“That the core program has been corrupted.”
After that, the entire room started talking again. At this point, Stanley banged his gun on the table, and there was silence again.
“So,” He looked at everyone, daring them to speak, “We need to send a team to get past the ice barrier, and an engineer will be required to isolate the corruptive element in the program, destroy it, and, if possible, establish contact with the other two cities, Xenias and Helix. We need to know if they are intact or not, but after the Valdorian attack last month, we can’t afford to send out anymore troops, without rendering us all vulnerable to any attacks.”
“Who do you want to send then?” Thales asked, “If not our elite troops.”
“Well, I already thought of that,” Stanley smiled smugly, “And had them trained just for this.”
“Well then, who?” Thales asked again.
“Turn your attention to the screen” Stanley simply muttered.
Everybody did, and as we did, a video started playing. After the first few seconds, I thought, Oh Shit.
It was a recording of the training sessions, and I was in it. I was fighting with Cameron and Elizabeth, as all of us exchanged blows after blows. Then it shifted to Tyson and Gia, who were fighting with their staffs.’
“That’s right,” Stanley said, looking at the five of us, “You’ll be travelling to the core of the planet, to save it, and alongside it, us.”
“That’s preposterous!” One of the officials cried out, “They’re just kids, and only five of them. What good are they when an entire legion of soldiers couldn’t make the ice surrounding the core budge?”
“Warner, shut up,” Stanley barked at him, and Warner shrank back into his seat.
“They are more capable than anybody else here. In fact, it was Zade who single handedly took out almost all of the Valdorians last month, and drove them back into their hiding holes.”
I felt flustered, but also felt good that I was being appreciated.
“The group will travel to Venn, where Tyson, our young telekinetic engineer will teleport the group to a certain co-ordinates, from where they should face no ice obstruction. They will find the core, and do the deed.”
Tyson stood up, and along with him, so did all the rest of us.
“The leader of this contingent will be Zade, our newest recruit.” Stanley announced.
Okay. Honestly, I thought I would have fainted. I was automatically signed up as leader for very possibly a suicide mission, as stated by the officials, and didn’t even have the option to back down. Though, at the same time, I felt a bit proud. I was the newest, yet I was chosen leader. Maybe that was a good thing. Plus, with the amount of training the five of us had gone through, I wasn’t exactly scared.
But I figured if things were bad enough to destroy the planet, then I needed to buck up.
And with that, Stanley stood up, and said, “Thank you all for your time. The meeting comes to an end.”
Everybody stood up, and took the elevator to the ground floor, except us five. We stayed behind, because all of us had a feeling that Stanley wanted to talk with us, and so did we.
“Not my choice”
Stanley repeated again and again.
“Couldn’t you have asked for, like, extra support? Some soldiers or anything?” Gia asked.
“I told you, I got the orders from the administrative staff, who asked for you five by name. I had no choice. If I did, I would’ve gone myself.” He replied.
“Well, we don’t need any support!” Tyson said, his chest puffed up, “We’ll kick that core’s ass.”
“Tyson, relax.” I said, and he became quiet. I turned to Stanley. “When do we leave?”
“As soon as possible”
“Where do we go?”
“Here, take this mini-screen,” He answered, handing me a small, ultra-thin blue chip. “That contains your Access Code, co-ordinates and a brief design layout for Tyson to see.” He said, looking at Tyson.
“I wanted you to train a bit more, but now, you have to use what you know. Zade, you have to lead you team, and being the leader, I want you to take care of them.” I nodded.
“I wish you success, all of you.” He said, and then, without another word, left for the elevator, and went down, leaving only me and my team in the room.
“Guys,” I said, and all of them lined up, looking at me expectantly.
“We leave at the break of dawn tomorrow.”