Next part for those who care (Just a little guilt tripping there for ya! XD)
In the previous chapter: The Embers were introduced to Sariel and Ion, eighty foot tall robot mechs called Empyreans. They are going to another district to find an AAI (advanced artifical intelligence)
“How long did Tyrene say this trip was going to take?” Keila asked, voice shaking as Sariel cleared the atmosphere of Sulien.
“Several hours,” Clint replied.
“Yeah, but did he specify?”
“We’re going to need something to entertain us on longer trips. This trip is what, four or five districts?”
“Three, actually.” Rune corrected gruffly. “This one, then we’ll pass through your district, then arrive in the next one, District 6, our destination.”
“We’re passing through ours? How does that work?”
“I don’t know,” Clint butted in. “But I’m bored. Now that we’re outside the atmosphere, we can unbuckle and move around.”
“Okay,” Keila agreed. “Maybe we can see what there is to do.”
Rune unbuckled and strode over to the console in the middle of the room, next to the hatch. His fingers tapped the screen and an image appeared, a flower-like diagram of something. As Rune looked closer, he realized it was the Edenstar; probably Tyrene’s idea of how it looked. Clint and Keila moved closer, studying the glowing, layered diagram of the multiverse. “It looks more like a spiky flower than a star,” Keila pointed out. She leaned in closer, eyes squinted. “That planet in the middle looks like Midrian.”
Clint looked closer. “I think it is. And this one looks like Sulien. I think this is the District we’re in now. Look, the rift splits this planet in half; that must be Tyrene’s home planet.”
“Strange how that planet is the only one in the rift,” Keila mused aloud. “I wonder why that is.”
“I guess the District we’re going to is six.”
“Yeah, see those tiny numbers in the corner of each District? It must be to help recognize them.”
“Okay, do you want to go explore?” Clint asked.
Rune snorted. It sounded so childish. Keila nodded, smiling. The two took off down the hatch and Rune growled. They didn’t understand the seriousness of a mission; he thought they would be a little more disciplined after all they had been through. Maybe this is their way of dealing with a stressful situation, Rune thought, pushing the accusing thought from his mind. But they could still get into something they shouldn’t. I’ll follow them.
Neither of the young people heard as the sarsh phased through the floor and landed silently behind them. They were studying the four colossal guns, whispering excitedly. Clint climbed into the seat mounted atop the weapon, pretending to shoot it. Keila was laughing. Rune turned invisible as Clint glanced over, vaguely feeling judging eyes on him. The sarsh ground his fangs against his bottom teeth, making a rasping sound echo through the quiet room.
“What is that noise?” Keila wondered, frowning.
Clint shrugged, indifferent. He had lost himself in his fantasy with the gun. Rune grinned evilly and sauntered silently over to Clint. He clamped his frigid cyber arm on his friend’s arm and yanked him off the gun; the young man’s face became a mask of surprise and shock as he lay on the floor. Keila ran around the massive weapons, frowning. She laughed as she saw Clint on the ground, stunned. “Did you just fall off?” She giggled.
“No! Someone pulled me off! And it could only be one person!” He jumped to his feet, glancing around for the person who stood right in front of him.
“You know,” Rune drawled sarcastically. “You really shouldn’t play with weapons. Especially when we’re on a mission.” He turned visible again, staring down coolly at his smaller friend.
“What’s your problem?” Clint challenged angrily, his cheeks flushed.
“You two need to focus on the mission beforehand, not play like children.”
Now Keila flushed, her black brows furrowed. “Maybe you need to loosen up sometimes! We’re not soldiers, Rune, we’re not like you and we never will be.”
The sarsh swallowed. “No, but if I’m to lead you, I will at least have some influence. For instance, you will stop play on enormous weapons of mass destruction.”
Clint’s glare faded. “Fine.”
Keila grinned. “That was pretty stupid, Clint.”
“You didn’t stop me!” He complained.
“I agree with Keila.” Said Rune curtly. “Will you stop acting like children so we can strategize properly?”
“For what?” The smaller young man asked.
“Seriously, Clint?” Keila laughed. “We need a plan if we’re going up against a seven foot tall AI.”
“Actually,” Rune interrupted their banter. “We aren’t planning on fighting him, we just need to convince him to come with us.”
Clint and Keila climbed the ladder, and stood waiting in the head, glancing around for their friend. Seconds later, Rune leaped through the floor, landing silently like a ninja. Clint snorted. “Showoff,” He groused, but he sounded like he was whining. Rune just flashed an evil grin and moved over the center console, flicking his fingers across the screen, where a report written by one of Tyrene’s observers was displayed.
“The target is a highly advanced AAI, standing nine feet tall and sporting four arms,” Rune read off the screen. “He has the strength of twenty men, can learn any language in minutes and, despite weighing half a ton, is extremely stealthy,” Rune snorted. “I doubt that.”
“About a year ago, he found a bible and has studied it thoroughly, somehow studying it and realizing God. The bible seems to have developed him further; beyond human comprehension. Be well aware that he knows every form of combat there is to know, so be cautious when approaching.” Rune’s voice took on an awed tone and a far-away look appeared in his eyes; he glanced at Keila, who seemed equally affected.
“That’s awesome! A robot that believes in God? I barely know anything about God, but this robot does?” Clint exclaimed, smashing the stunned silence.
Rune glared daggers at him, purple eyes sparking.
Clint pursed his lips. “Do you guys know about God at all?” He asked.
“We’ll talk about it another time, Clint.” Keila responded, her voice sad.
Clint’s eyes flicked back and forth between his friends, realizing it was a sensitive topic for both of them. There was a tense silence, then Clint interrupted it again. “Are we there yet?”
“No.” Rune replied shortly. “We still have several hours. Now, for us to form a plan, we’re going to have to count on Tyrene; he is going to give us Titan’s position and the best possible way to confront or subdue him. So, for now, there is no more planning we can do. Find something quiet and non-destructive to do.”
Clint sighed and wandered away, finding a window to gaze out. All he could see were streaks of the passing stars. He frowned and turned to Rune. “Is Sariel upright?”
Rune grunted. “No. There is no upright in space. If we were on a planet, Sariel would be lying on its stomach. But, the head’s inner hull moves to keep us upright, like a gyroscope.”
Clint sighed again and turned back to the window, watching the stars smear past the thick window. Keila sat next to him, laying her head on the back of the seat. The hours passed slowly, agonizingly. Worry simmered in the sarsh’s stomach for hours; when he realized they would arrive in thirty minutes, his mouth went dry and his heart sped up. “Thirty minute mark!” Rune called to his friends who had discovered a deck of cards. Suddenly, the two young people didn’t feel like playing their game anymore. They swept the cards off the little table by the seats and put them away, standing and pacing. “I said thirty minutes, you still have plenty of time.” Rune told them. “I suggest you go to the restroom and get some water before we head out, we won’t have time for that while on mission.”
Too preoccupied to realize when the thirty minutes had passed; it startled Rune to hear Tyrene’s voice in his ears.
“Look out your window, Embers.” He told them. The young people flocked to the cockpit and their eyes stretched wide; a green and blue planet sat before them. Beautiful, Rune thought. Just like my earth.
“Sariel is going into stealth mode,” Tyrene told them. “You will descend through the atmosphere to a pre-programmed area where there are no people, it is just a few miles outside the city where you will find Titan; travel those few miles on foot. Ignore anyone and everyone, focus on finding Titan. Currently, he’s near the city limits, on Bell’s street. Just get in and attempt to have him come peacefully. If that doesn’t work; Rune, you take him down. If needed, press the plate with the pyramid on your cybernetic wrist.”
Rune’s head whipped down, for the first time realizing that there was indeed the tiny image of a pyramid on his metal wrist. He huffed and depressed it; the plates slid apart and a gleaming silver stick slid out, sparking with electricity. “When the heck did you do that?” He roared angrily.
“I didn’t, it was always there, I just activated and made it more obvious. It’s an admiral’s feature, hidden until you are more experienced with your cybernetic limbs.”
Rune blinked. “Does that mean there is more to these than I thought?”
“Yes, but that is for a later discussion.”
The sarsh growled. “Fine.” Addressing his young friends, the sarsh said; “Get strapped in. Atmospheric entrances are rough.”
Clint rolled his eyes. “I know.” Despite his sarcasm, he obeyed, Keila by his side. Rune sat across from them as Sariel shook, entering the atmosphere feet first.
“Are you sure no one can see this huge metal mech shooting towards the surface of the planet?” Clint asked shakily, clinging tightly his restraints.
“No.” Was Rune’s curt reply.
“I didn’t say no one could see you,” Tyrene said over the intercoms. “I just meant that large military branches and such can’t detect your entry, but make this quick; you’re bound to get some officials sniffing around in less than an hour. I’m pretty sure an eighty-foot robot will get their attention.”
“That’s not encouraging.” Clint groaned. “What are we supposed to do if we get a ton of soldiers pointing guns at us? What if they have exosuits?”
“Exosuits don’t exist here, Clint.” Tyrene told him. “They are much less technologically advanced than your district. Also, you three literally have your flares, did you forget?”
“Yeah, but you said so yourself, our flares are only defensive. None of us really know anything about fighting!”
“I do.” Rune announced shortly, carefully sharpening his arm blade. “Several generals, and even the Admiral trained me in many forms of combat on Zenith.”
Clint rolled his eyes hugely. “Of course they did.”
“To answer your question, Clint,” Tyrene interrupted the banter. “Keila has her energy fields and Rune is one of the most powerful people in the whole Edenstar. Clint, you can use your invisibility to your advantage, just as in all the training sessions.”
“I doubt that is true,” Rune interjected, a faint white tinge to his cheeks.
“Ooh!” Keila cooed. “Are you blushing?”
The sarsh refrained from answering, but his cheeks whitened further. Keila giggled. Her smile quickly vanished as Tyrene warned them they were about to land. Everyone’s hearts sped up, their gazes flickering between each others’ nervous faces and the view of the planet outside the cockpit windshield.
“Are you all ready?” Tyrene asked over the intercomms.
“No,” Rune replied frustratedly. “We have only half a plan, we can’t go into the field like this.”
“It’s not a battlefield, Rune.” Keila interrupted, pursing her lips. The sarsh didn’t answer.
“It’s okay, Rune,” Tyrene said in response to the sarsh’s complaint. “I’ll guide you as you go.” Again, the sarsh didn’t reply. Silence stretched like a taut rope, ready to snap at the slightest sound. The inner workings of Sariel were the loudest thing to be heard as they landed. The Embers unstrapped and stood, taking in a deep breath. Tyrene’s dramatic voice sounded in their ears again.
“Do your final preparations, Project UNITE is in session.”
“... Dude, that sounds way too similar to Project Ignite.”