“The narrow path that 'uncommon' people will take, that the Lord wants you to go down, that really is the ultimate way to go.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
Using the citadel to teleport all of our forces directly to the enemy base was a good idea. But as it happens with all good ideas, they only sound good and shouldn’t be taken for granted until they were put to the test.
The bridge shudders and I reach for the metal framework which encloses the console in front of me. Holding onto something was a smart thing to do. Otherwise the impact would have flung me across the room. Marcus wasn’t quick enough and ended up kissing the frontal screen. Luckily crystal based technology is resilient enough to withstand a lot of abuse. Like people banging their heads against it.
I hurry past Dad to help Marcus to his feet. “I don't think that we were supposed to materialize right inside their superstructure!” I complain to Dad after taking a look at the status screen. Shade promised that he would be extra careful with aiming the ship’s exit point.
Dad doesn't pay attention to me or the others. He stands with confidence in the centre of the room and doesn’t show any kind of remorse. “A minor miscalculation. Nothing to be worried about. It's actually beneficial to our attack strategy.”
Beth shakes her fist at Dad. She was also thrown to the ground, but it doesn’t look like she sustained any injuries. “Beneficial my ass! I know your skills! Such a mistake is beneath you. You did it intentionally, despite everyone voting against it.”
Her fierce expression gives me the shivers and I remember that Beth is one of the few people who dares to stand up to my father. I am actually a little surprised that she went along in giving us her help so willingly. She reasoned that her lack of resistance is because she has only bad options to choose from. Probably she thinks that my parents are the lesser one of two evils.
“The troops are on the move.” Mom gestures at the screen and it comes to life, showing us a representation of the pyramid… at least of what’s left of it. Shade landed us directly on one of its lower corners. This pyramid’s design is very similar to the one we encountered first.
Buried deep in the pyramid’s centre is something like an engine room. One of the corners functions as the command centre, while the others are reserved for minor functions. Unfortunately the pyramid doesn’t show from the outside which corner is reserved as the command centre.
I call it a pyramid. But to be exact, it’s base is an equilateral triangle. So what we are facing is a tetrahedron.
“Tch! We didn’t hit their command centre. Ah, it only was a one in four chance. Winning the shell game was asking too much,” Dad hisses, punching his open palm with his fist.
So he really tried to ram the command centre intentionally!
Marcus curses and wipes his nose. His hand comes away bloody. Looks like he kissed the screen a little harder than I thought. “A little warning would have been appreciated.”
I cast a quick healing spell on Marcus and use the chance to poke his damaged pride. “You are lucky that your parents aren’t here. What would they think if they knew that you are among the battle’s first casualties?”
He snorts. “I am far from being a casualty. And my parents would say that this whole operation is one, single, improvised clusterfuck! It’s bound to go wrong, beginning with the fact that we are supposed to catch someone who can give us some answers regarding the spirits. Are Ishaan and the others already on their way?”
I take a short look at the status screen. “If this is correct, then they are already on their way to the engine room.” Which means that we are late. Ishaan, Tisha and Doreen decided to lead in the charge to take control of the pyramid’s energy core. We are hoping that the pyramid has something to do with the tear between the multiverses. If so, then shutting down all of the pyramid’s function is surely a good step.
“Then it’s time to join the party!” Shade smiles and vanishes in a flash of light. Mom and Beth sigh in unison and pull a disappearance of their own. If they follow the plan, they should join our forces in a separate attempt to take the command centre.
Marcus pulls himself together and smiles at me. “Are you ready for our part of the plan?”
I hug him and take a close look at the coordinates which are displayed on the screen. By studying the first pyramid, we found out that the important areas have an inhibition field that makes teleports over long distances almost impossible. The most one can achieve is short range teleportation.
So we can’t simply teleport into the command centre and shut down their portal. At least we suppose that they have one. There should be a throne with a gate right next to it. If we charge in from the front, our target will simply step through the gate as soon as he realises that we are winning. It will be a repeat of our last attack.
Someone has to sneak around their defences and shut down their escape route. This task fell to Marcus and me. For that purpose I teleport us right into one of the ventilation shafts which are leading towards the throne room. The world changes from one moment to the next and we appear horizontally in a narrow, dark tunnel.
Gravitation takes over and I land flat on my back with Marcus above me. We fell not much more than ten centimetres. Enough to hurt if you are unprepared. Hadn’t Marcus stopped his fall, he would have crushed the air out of my lungs. “You definitely like it when I am on top,” he whispers.
“Not in the least! The best position is when you are chained to a bed and I can have my way with you,” I respond.
With effort, I shimmy around and pull myself forward. The ventilation shaft is just big enough to crawl. “It’s humiliating to go through all this effort,” I complain and summon a weak light globe. It’s enough to see ten metres ahead of us. Much better than the eerie twilight we had to endure earlier.
A look at my hands shows me that the tunnel isn’t just narrow, but also dirty. My hands are black from the dust and there are countless little pebbles everywhere. “Geez… I’ll have to burn my clothes when this is over. Don’t they have some kind of drone to clean the ventilation shaft?”
“I can’t complain. Your butt made a nice imprint back here. If they ever search this tunnel to find out how we got in, then they will have no problem to prove that it was you. They just have to take your three sizes!”
Marcus stays silent for a few minutes while we crawl forward. Then he chuckles. “I know that I was the one who told you to put on armour, but a skirt would be a real price right now.”
Seriously? I growl and drop to my belly.
“Crawl over me and get going. If your male brain can’t ignore my butt, then you have to go first! We are on an important mission!” I reprimand him.
Marcus grumbles and crawls over me to take the lead. On his way he makes a point of placing both hands on my behind. “It isn’t my fault. You are the one who waved it in front of my face in the first place!”
After a lot of shoving and pushing, he is finally in front of me. So I find myself facing a similar problem. I like his ass. Damn! That’s why most armies don’t allow units of mixed gender. It distracts from the task at hand.
Suddenly Marcus lets out a curse and light flashes in front of him. Sparks fly and something squeaks, then silence returns to the tunnel. I try my best to see what happened, but all I can see is that Marcus is holding a dagger of light in his hand. “What happened?”
“Nothing! I just encountered a very big rat. Seems like these tunnels are dirty for a reason.” He pushes forward, past a big… thing! It blocks almost half of the tunnel.
When he is past it, it’s my turn. Now that I am closer, I get to see evil beady eyes, one of them poked out by the dagger. What the creature lacks in vision, it more than makes up with large, yellow teeth. Teeth which don’t belong to a rodent, they are of the pointy kind. Oh, gods! And it stinks! I hurry to force myself past the body, which is about one metre in length. “That’s not a rat! Rats don’t have spikes on their tails! That’s some kind of mutant! Or a miniature spirit!”
“I suggest we get out of here fast. I don’t think that we will stay undetected for long if there are more of these creatures. Blasting our way past them is bound to alert someone. And I don’t want to think about why this tunnel is so dirty.”
I return my attention to the dirt and the countless little pebbles which are lying everywhere. “Ew! Why did you have to say it!?”
“Don’t forget to watch our back! I don’t want one of those things to get a taste of your-”
“No!” I turn around and send the light globe flying into the darkness. When it’s clear that there is nothing as far as I can see, I let out a sigh. This mission is quickly making its way to my top ten worst infiltration jobs ever!