The blue chamber was far colder than any other room that Joran had passed through.
I must be getting closer…
One hand closed around the collar of her fur-lined jacket. The other trembled with chill and a sense of excitement. Her knuckles were white as she gripped the small silver device, transparent prints marking the slick, reflective surface where her fingertips met the metal.
I’m glad I thought to dress warm for this. I didn’t know the tower would be so frigid.
Joran picked her footing carefully. The stone was slippery and blanketed with spongy sea-plants. Small tide pools of salt water dotted the floor where the walls had caved in under the waves. From every side, there was the soft hissing sound of the ocean.
Pren said this place was once a floating sky-fortress…
Her hand traced the patterns of tiling along the walls. At one time, it might have been a stream of lights built into the floor for illumination. There seemed to have been very few, if any, windows structured into the hallways themselves.
Zot..? I think that was the name of it. Built by our people, there’s no doubt. This was once Lunarian technology.
She hopped over a pile of fallen debris, careful to hold her balance. One eye was constantly on the device in her hand. A tiny white dot flashed slowly on and off, a location marker.
My people had to have been on this world. Though… why hasn’t anyone talked bout the Lunarians coming to the Blue Planet? Even Master FuSoYa is close-lipped about it.
Joran frowned slowly.
It looks like this place went through some sort of battle.
She brushed away some of the grime from the stones nearest her.
A floating fortress… that fell into the sea. I wonder what really happened?
She wiped the sea water off on her hide trousers and continued on. The chill was beginning to make its way through her deeply lined furs.
And what happened between the humans and Lunarians? Why did KluYa come down here to the Blue Planet? It’s never talked of so plainly, but I know it happened.
Joran’s green eyes focused back on the device in her hand. Then she glanced up at the tall set of doors that were blocking her passage.
It had to have happened. After all, Golbez has admitted that he has half-Human blood.
She pressed slowly on the doors, testing the strength of the structures around it. It gave a low creak, but did not budge.
But this tower… the way it feels… it was certainly a place built for war. Not for cultural observation.
Her eyes turned to study the small, dark plate on the wall next to the doorway. At one time, it looked to have been a power supply that may have opened and closed the door. Now, however, it was lifeless and black. Like the rest of the tower’s mechanisms.
This is all so confusing. And it’s all so hush-hush. Something just doesn’t feel right about the whole deal.
Fishing around in one pocket, Joran pulled out a second device. It was small and square with a thin, red wire sticking from one corner.
But this is what I’m here to do…
Clicking open the tiny control panel at the bottom of the plate on the wall, she attached the wire into one of the small, marked holes. Punching a few quick keys on the device, it gave a whirring sound, as the lights on the door plate hummed to life.
Sparrow said that I had to find O.M.E.G.A.
Carefully, Joran typed in the key-code that was given to her by the dark-haired girl upon her departure. It was a simple, four-digit number… but one that she had repeated to herself many times over as she made her way through the tower’s chambers.
2… 9… 4… 3… Enter.
She held her breath, eyes wide and focused upon the doorway. Silence bore down on her as the lights capered between the plate and the device in her hand.
Come on… open… please…!
A bright green acceptance light flashed on the wall plate and with a huge, grating sound, the door folded back. It only managed to open half-way before it jammed with a heavy clang, stopping dead in its motion. Joran quickly detached the device from the wall, eyes staring at the newly-created fissure.
That was really the door code! I can’t believe it!
It wasn’t that she thought Sparrow would have sent her out on such a search without the proper information. But the whole idea of creeping through a sunken ruin of once-great Lunarian technology was somehow both frightening and exhilarating.
And to have actually had a real code to the door… that really worked! It’s just… wow!
A cloud of cold-steam issued from the room in front of her. The moisture on her hair turned to shimmering ice crystals instantly. Ancient Lunarian runes marked the threshold of the doorway, their power long since faded with time. Something about the script washed away Joran’s thoughts of triumph.
Light… what did they keep in here? To need warding runes of that kind of power…
She swallowed, her eyes aching against the frigid air that poured out of the dark, ovular chamber. Her heart began to drum in her chest as she forced one foot in front of the other. There was no doubt that what she had come for was located within that room.
Her breath steamed in front of her in long white plumes. The sound of her footsteps crunched upon the frozen floor-stones. The silence grew unnerving, all sounds of the ocean becoming mute as she passed through the doorway.
In the center of the room, a pale light flickered.
Stepping closer, Joran could identify the outline of a long, narrow pod-shaped structure.
It’s just like… the sleeping chambers that we used upon the moon. Except…
She reached a hand out to touch its frozen surface. The glass was frosted over, making the contents within impossible to see.
It’s much… larger… than ours was.
Swallowing deeply, Joran took the sleeve of her fur-jacket and wiped away the ice coating on the outside of the pod. Her green eyes reflected in wonder as they fell upon the sleeping form within the tube.
It’s… it’s… some sort of man?
He lay there, suspended in a strange motionless silence. Only the shallow motion of his breath told her that he still lived.
The man was taller than a common Lunarian in stature – he seemed to be built much more like the human people. His hair floated about his face, a strange gradiented tone that started pure black at the roots, fading to pure white at the tips. His expression was calm and serene with sleep, despite the fact that there were two, small metallic plates bolted into the bottom of his left cheek. His right eye was completely concealed by a large black eye patch.
Is this man… O.M.E.G.A.? I thought it would be…
Joran turned to peer at the dimly lit control board for the sleep pod.
…Something more formidable looking…
Her hand paused over the buttons, breath coming in a soft gasp. There was a line of Lunarian script written there – an eerie warning that sent a prickle over the back of her arms.
The tag at the top of the board was cleanly marked — “Project O.M.E.G.A.”.
I guess… it really is…
She began to shift her weight from one foot to the other in apprehension.
But, the warding runes used on this room… I’ve only read about things that powerful.
Her finger paused above the release button.
Still… Sparrow said that we needed to enlist the help of O.M.E.G.A…
Teeth chattering with cold and fear, her eyes flickered back and forth from the face in the glass to the button.
I’ve got to… follow through… with my mission. For Golbez… I’ve got to do this for Golbez…
In a fury of bravado, Joran forced her hand forward, punching the release button in a quick jab. All of the lights upon the control board flashed brightly three times as a high-pitched keening sound filled the room around her.
Some sort of alarm?!
The sound gurgled and choked off into a dull, garbled noise as streams of warming air hissed down from various spots on the ceiling. Weakly, the room began to fill with a dim, callow light as the walls around flickered and faded – only a pale image of what they were originally created to be.
It was as if the whole chamber was going through a rapid period of melt-away. The temperature began to rise as the ice began to stream down the walls in torrents of white slush. The light within the pod itself had changed color.
Joran felt herself backing away from the center of the room, towards the door.
M-maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…!
The surface of the pod began to dematerialize, allowing for the outside air to slowly filter through. The man inside the capsule instantly began to breathe more deeply as his air supply was gradually transferred over to the natural atmosphere.
But I’ve got some time to figure things out before he actually–
Joran startled as she watched one of his hands twitch.
Wha… he’s waking up… already?!
During her experiences with the sleeping pods, it had always taken the Lunarians a good hour of time to begin to function again properly.
It’s not supposed to happen like this… is it?!
The covering of the pod had now completely melted away, leaving only the man laying there. He was dressed in very light clothes, his arms and chest still covered with wired attachments that had monitored his life force during the long sleep.
Now that the air in the room wasn’t so cold, the dampness had settled in, choking the air with uncomfortable stillness. Joran found herself slowly creeping forward in a low crouch, uncertain of what to do next.
His single eye flicked open in an instant, mechanical way. It was eerie… for where the whites of his eye should have been, it was pure green marked with only a slitted black pupil.
Joran jerked back with a gasp. Her throat worked itself in attempt to make a sound.
I shoulda gotten backup for this! I can’t handle this thing on my own if he decides to…
“Uuugh…” he gave a little moan. The single green eye focused, flickering around the room with instant awareness. Then it fell upon her.
She froze, staring back in apprehension. “Ah… ah….”
His arms trembled with weakness as he fought to push himself into a sitting position. A rasping choke racked his frame as he scrubbed his eye with the back of his hand. After a long moment, the man focused on her again.
“What do they put in that sleeping fluid that always leaves your mouth tasting like puke?” his words came in flawless Lunar — despite the fact he looked nothing like one of her people.
Perfect Lunar… except for the last word. She had never heard such a term before.
Joran blinked. “Taste like… what?”
“Nevermind,” he murmured, brushing a hand through his wild hair. Then he shook his head out.
“Um…” she was left in a total blank, uncertain of how to approach the man.
“Okay, so what’s the deal?” he snorted through his nostrils a few times, holding the bridge of his nose. “What does Zemus want from me, now?”
“I swear, he just stuffs me in a closet and only wakes me up when he needs something from me.”
“Zemus is… dead.”
The man froze, the single eye turning to stare at her in a hauntingly intense way.
Joran took a few more steps back, running her tongue over her lips.
“Say that… again?”
“Zemus is dead,” she repeated, forcing strength in her words.
His mouth opened as if he meant to say something in return. But all that came was a rasping, chilling laugh. “Oh…. ho…!”
She could only watch him, the pit of her stomach churning at the sound.
“And pray-tell, little girl, how did Zemus meet his fate?” he half-purred.
“It was… was… at the hands of Master FuSoYa–”
“FuSoYa?” he choked a little, the laughter rising in his throat again. “Oh, that rat-bastard… it’s just too precious!”
He knows FuSoYa… and Zemus? I wonder who… who this guy really is?
She felt her knees growing weak.
Regardless of that… I’ve gotta bring him back with me.
One fist balled at her side, fighting to take control of the situation.
Quick… say something… let him know you’re the boss, here!
She jutted her chin out, “And I was the one that released you!”
“Mmmm?” The glance fell back on her again.
“So you have to… to…” her words faltered.
“I have to what?” He leaned forward slowly, the motion was dangerously lithe. There was little doubt that once he regained his strength, he could easily overtake her.
It was obvious by the gleam in his eye that he knew this, too.
“You have to serve me!” Quick as lightning, Joran drew forth Incrytan. Holding it at arm’s length, she made sure that he got a good look at it, her green eyes narrowing.
He paused, peering at the Crystal in a mixture of surprise and apprehension. “Now, now… what an interesting little toy.”
“You know what this is, don’t you?” Joran’s hands shook slightly as she kept Incrytan between herself and the man.
“I have a pretty good idea, yeah. Where did you pick something like that up?” his face had suddenly turned starkly serious.
“Golbez made it. And I aim to destroy it.”
“Golbez…” his voice trailed off into a quiet sound.
“That’s right,” Joran nodded slowly. “And… I’ve been told that I need your help.”
“Help?” he arched an eyebrow.
“Golbez is going to come after this Crystal… and I don’t want him to have it.”
“I… I don’t know what O.M.E.G.A. is… or why you would be the one that I was sent to find… but…”
“Kip,” he quipped softly, a musing light reflecting in his eye.
“What?” Joran blinked at him.
“You can call me Kip.” the man gave a slow smile.
“Ah… Does this mean that you will…”
“Serve you?” he smirked. “No.”
“But, I might be interested in… cutting a deal.”
“That’s right,” Kip’s voice was slick as water. “But first, how about we blow this joint? I can’t say that I have much of a love for Zot, you know?”
“I…” Joran shook her head, then nodded, “I won’t argue with that.”
“Good,” he gave a little laugh, “That’s exactly how I like it.”