“Invincibility lies in the defence, the possibility of victory in the attack.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
It took us more preparation than we expected, but we are finally about to get on our way. Planned departure from Newerth, ten o'clock. Planned arrival in another dimension, ten o'clock. It's not like travelling through a portal takes any measurable amount of time. Though the strange thing about the procedure is that an object first has to enter a portal completely before it starts exiting at the other end.
I sigh, inter-dimensional travel without the pathways is so confusing.
If it wasn't for the unexplained personal experience which people have during their transportation, then nobody would even doubt the theory. Which is saying that departure and arrival should be occurring at the same point in time. When someone steps through a portal, it seems like there actually is something between the entrance and the exit points. I once managed to use that moment to divert our exit point when Marcus and I accidentally fell through Zhon’s portal.
“You sound as if you are dreading what we are about to do,” Marcus comments from next to me, eyeing the big screen in front of us.
We are currently at the citadel's bridge, or should I call it a command room? The large, circular room certainly gives off the vibe... and it feels so familiar. Strange. I turn to face Dad, who is idling in his command chair in the centre of the room. “Did you copy the room's design from Star Trek?”
His expression darkens. “I knew it! I knew that I stole the architecture from somewhere, but I didn't remember from where I had the idea! Damn it, I hate Star Trek! Now I have to trash the entire citadel and rework the whole thing from scratch!”
One of the crew members frowns. “I also thought that it seemed familiar. Star Trek was a good show.”
Marcus looks at me. “What's Star Trek?”
So Marcus didn't have a reincarnation on Earth? How sad, or should I say fortunate? I only roll my eyes and tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear while my father starts his rant.
“Be glad that you don't know it! It was a sickeningly nice Sci-Fi series from a planet named earth! The characters ran around in pyjamas, calling them uniforms, and their moral code must have been created by a nun. I always asked myself how the author thought that a culture like that would be able to achieve anything! And the ship-design was just awful! I should have remembered sooner! Looking back, I am glad that one of my reincarnations dismantled the stupid dirt-ball for resources. If I ever find the soul who was responsible for the creation of every true geek's nightmare then-”
And that's when I decide to stop it. “Dad, aren't we about to invade another dimension? You can download all your memories about Star Trek. Then, when Marcus watches it later, you can have a long and detailed discussion about it.”
“Actually, that's a good idea! Why haven't I thought of it myself!?” My father scratches his chin. “Marcus, when we are done with kicking our enemy's butt, you and I will sit down and do a little TV marathon.”
Marcus somehow manages not to look mortified. “Okay, just so you know... I am no good at this fictional stuff. And returning to the matter at hand... why do we have to attack at exactly ten o'clock?”
My father snorts and then a devious smile spreads across his face. “I've thought long and hard about that. Especially how I tended to live my life when my better half wasn't around.” He leans back in his chair, indulging in his memories. “Without Elona I would always stay up late, working on some project. So after weighing all the different factors, I decided that this would be the best moment to attack.”
So my father is still playing with the possibility that there is indeed another version of him out there. And that this other version of him never met Mom. “Simply admit that it's the most likely time for your other self to be asleep!”
“That sounds reasonable... even though I don't understand why you believe that your other self is at wherever we are about to go?” Marcus furrows his forehead, trying to understand my father.
Dad raises a finger. “Ah! I've no proof, but I simply assume that our enemy's head of command must be at the other side. Invading another dimension can't be done on the fly. There must be a big base, troops and supplies at the other end. Spirits may seem like drones to us, but they still need food. And whatever troops will follow the less intelligent ones will need to fortify their position. But enough of that. Let's start up the engines and pay them a visit. My controls are all green, which means that everyone is ready to depart.”
Shade punches a button on his armrest and a portal starts opening in front of the citadel. It reveals a disturbing sight at the aether between worlds. Red energies of chaos are fighting with a blue web of pathways. Dad presses another switch and the citadel accelerates, flying forward into the portal. For a moment I've the strange feeling of falling through the air and the floor bucks beneath me.
Then we exit on the other side and the energies part in front of us, revealing a huge flying thing! An ear-splitting alarm goes off as we smash into something, or should I say through something? The whole screen turns red with blood and gore. I hear curses from my father’s seat as he starts mashing a button.
“What was that!?” Marcus calls out.
“I think it was a dragon? Or a huge, flying spirit?” I voice my opinion. I didn't see it for any longer than the others before the citadel ran it over. Lucky that this thing has shields!
“Elona always warned me about driving too fast. At least we've other means of navigation than optical sensors,” Dad presses a few buttons and calls up three-dimensional representation of our situation.
We are in an empty space, surrounded by spirits. Well, let's clarify that. We are flying at high speed through a swarm of spirits of all shapes and sizes. Most of them just float there, apparently in a state of hibernation, while some of the airborne species seem to be awake. These spirits are represented as angry, red dots, surrounding a blue representation of the citadel. The citadel itself is surrounded by a blue bubble, our shield. The dots are converging on us, but flare out of existence as they reach the citadel's shield.
“I am so glad that I ensured that we have an extra strong barrier! No way would I want to clean that up!” Shade grumbles and manipulates the map, searching for something other than spirits. But the sensors don’t find anything. No ground; just empty space and air. Is this an empty realm? Or are we just really high up?
“Seems like we are in some sort of staging area where they are waiting with their army.” I try to help by giving my opinion. “The ground troops seem to be hibernating until they are deployed.”
Shade shrugs. “Even a staging area needs some form of headquarters.” He fumbles one final time with his controls and reveals a huge pyramid with even sides. It’s about three times the citadel’s size. “And I think I've just found something interesting!”
I take a closer look at the sensor data which we receive from the pyramid, but it reveals nothing interesting. Just the normal composition of metals and synthetic materials. A pretty ordinary flying base, whichever deeper purpose it actually has. The gravity readings allow to assume that it uses a similar magical setup as the citadel, but there is obviously no crystal technology involved.
One of the big spirits manages to get into the citadel's way, but my father scrolls a trackbar on his armrest to its maximum and the citadel smashes right into the oversized creature as if it is an oversized cannonball. The divine level spirit is simply pushed aside, bowing down to the laws of physics. The floor shudders again, but my father seems undisturbed by the manner in which he is driving his vessel. “Damn insects... it's like driving on a highway, getting into a swarm!”
Marcus steadies himself and me by holding onto a console. “I am not sure, but shouldn't we try to... oh, I don't know... talk?”
My father looks at us. “Talk? Why? We've found their base. Or at least one of them. Now we go and demand some answers!”
I wince and reach for the console to hold onto it. “How!?”
My father shows us his teeth, a vicious smile on his face. “Their 'pyramid-thingy' is only made from ordinary metals. Ever watched Space Pirate Captain Harlock? Should be like driving a tank through a wooden shack!”
“I don’t know what he is talking about! Seria, something is wrong with your language memories! There must be a translation mistake!” Marcus complains.
I grit my teeth and decide to translate my father’s geeky reference. “He wants to ram the other ship!”