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About Literature / Hobbyist Emily EricksonFemale/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 4 Years
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Holy hell, how long has it been since I posted one of these?

So last night I was feeding Harley, my young female Western Hognose, some boiled egg. Needless to say she was very enthusiastic about this rare treat, and me, being perfectly stupid, ended up getting bit by her. Over the past few years, there has been some debate on whether Hognoses are venomous. My personal answer, along with the answers of experts including Al "ViperKeeper" Cortiz, is a firm and resounding yes. Even at approximately six inches (15 cm), she has (relative to her size) long, sharp fangs that she uses (like many species of viper) to grab her food one side at a time and pull it into her mouth. I was punctured twice on the pad of my left middle finger by her left fang, and within a half hour, the fingertip had become red and stiff, not to mention a bit swollen. about an hour and fifteen minutes after the bite, the swelling and stiffness had spread to the second joint, and I could not bend the first joint at all. A half hour after that I took some Benadryl, and an hour after that the swelling began to go down. Now, about 24 hours later, my finger is still a bit swollen and tender, however I've regained full movement of the first joint, and I have two small fang marks on the side of my finger, and an entertaining story to tell to friends.
The amber light of dawn creeps into your cave, gently awakening you from your slumber. You rear your long, scaly head and sniff at the air, which is ripe with the scent of morning dew, the droppings of various mammals and birds, and of course, the ever-present stench of rotting meat from your private stores. You rise to your feet, your long black talons scraping against the stone floor, and peer over the ledge of your side of the mountain. The crisp autumn air is inviting, and a playful breeze entices you to spread your great leathery wings, to stretch your fingers as wide as they will go. You draw back, coiling your rear legs. Unconsciously, your long, spiked tail curls, lifting itself into the air. With an almighty heave, you launch yourself off the face of the cliff, allowing your wings to fold ever so slightly, and you plummet towards the distant ground, picking up speed. Once you feel that you are going fast enough, you flare your wings, ignoring the searing pain in your shoulders from the strain of holding onto nothing, and you immediately begin to glide forward. You pump your wings down and backward, scooping air behind you and lifting you upward, then return them to a gliding position. The sharp wind bites at your eyes and exposed teeth, but it's not enough. You pump your wings, down and backward, then raise them and pull them towards your head, down again, gaining height until you once again become level with your cave. You cock your head to the left, raising your snout ever so slightly, and twist your left wrist forward, allowing air to spill over the wing and pull you into a graceful turn. You level out again, and below you a great sapphire river twists and bends beneath you. You feel the air pushing against your wings, carrying you. Every tiny adjustment you make; the twitch of a single finger, the position of your thumbs, is so important in keeping you on the exact course you're traveling. You battle the tiniest changes in the speed and direction of the wind, you dive or beat your wings every now and then to keep your speed constant, and as you travel over an empty, burnt-looking meadow, it happens. A burst of hot air rises beneath you, warming your empty belly and pushing against your wide, sail-like wings, and you let the thermal carry you high into the clouds, until you can barely see past your own snout. You let loose the tiniest burst of flame, and the clouds disappear. You steer yourself back over the river, and fall into a stoop, plummeting towards the water. At the last possible second, you pull up, but not before reaching down to take a large mouthful of water in your powerful jaws. As you flap yourself back to a safe gliding altitude, you swallow the water, which, lucky enough for you, had a couple of small fish as well. You shake your great scaly head and veer back to your cave, and as you reach the mouth, you swing your powerful legs forward and flap your wings to slow yourself down, then duck your head into the cave and fold your wings rather haphazardly. You let your wings droop lazily, but keep them from dragging along the floor of your cave as you effortlessly navigate the maze you had set out for any potential thieves. After a full ten minutes of twisting, turning and bending, you reach the end, and settle yourself down at your stockpile of food. Carefully choosing the freshest of kills, you dig in greedily.
The Dragon's Flight
In which we take a look into the dragon's mind and take flight with our imagination.
I've learned many things from my past, and many more from the mistakes of my past. When I look back on my youth and the things I've done (and more importantly, the things I should have done), I find that I can only think: What could I have done differently? Strangely enough, through all of my experiences and mistakes, and the things I've learned from them, I can only count the number of lessons that truly stuck with me on one hand.
Unlike most doctors of my time, I didn't grow up in a wealthy family. In fact, my parents were quite the opposite. Even more so after the crash of America's stock market in 1929, when I turned six years old. I can only consider myself lucky I was still able to start primary school that year.
In my second year of school I got to choose a second language. While most kids decided to study French or Italian, I was one of five kids in my year to choose English. To me, it was just like learning a different version of my own native German. Even from that age I was fascinated by the human body and how it worked, and I knew that all of the best hospitals were in America, so I wanted to be as prepared as possible for when I moved out of Germany to become a surgeon. Alongside my lessons in English I took a course in music, where I discovered my second passion: playing the violin.
I was able to learn English until my fifth year of school, when I turned ten years old. Just a week after the school year started, my father had told me that a lot of things were going to change, "hopefully for the better," he had told me. A few months later, he left "to help out the cause." I never saw him again.
When I started school again, I realized my father had been right. A lot of things had changed. For better or worse, I couldn't say, but things had changed. Among the usual mathematics, music and reading lessons, we also learned about a group of people called Juden, and how they were to blame for ruining our economy by hoarding every bit of money they could for themselves. We were told that these Juden shouldn't be considered true Germans, and that they didn't deserve to be treated as equals. The teachers also talked about what it meant to be a true German, and how we, even though we were still young, could help support our country's cause. Whatever that meant. Being an only child, I wasn't allowed to join the army, but the government trained me in combat anyway. I learned how to shoot handguns and rifles, and I even learned how to ride horseback. I was never a fan of horses, but I trusted the soldiers when they told me it would be a useful skill to have.
I was also told that English was the language of our enemy, and that speaking it would get me in big trouble. Confused, but scared, I promised to never speak English again. As I grew older I learned more and more about the progressing war my country was fighting, and how the Führer was trying his hardest to spread the message that the Juden were evil people who wanted nothing more than to destroy the prosperity of all countries. He tried to make other countries join our empire, but many of them were too fearful of us to do so.
The remaining seven years of my schooling revolved around science and music. I played the violin for many concertos and even wrote a few of my own pieces, but they were never published. I became very involved with learning about local colleges and medical schools, much to the delight of my teachers, who offered me plenty of help with my research.
My seventeenth birthday was one I'll never forget. I had gotten a letter from the government offering me a place at the best medical school in Stuttgart! Finally my passion for learning about the human body had been realized! I could fulfill my dreams of becoming a surgeon at last! A mere week after receiving the letter, I had made myself at home as one of the youngest Medical students in that school's history. I was recognized by my peers and superiors alike for my sheer enthusiasm for learning and exploring.
My first year of study was a crash-course, if you will, on human anatomy and physiology. Admittedly, that was my only year of any formal study. All of my schooling thereafter was strictly hands-on. In the beginning I had downright refused to take a scalpel to living, conscious flesh. My professor, Herr Heilburg, had assured me time and again that although these so-called "patients" shared every physical characteristic of a human, they were, in fact, Juden, the same species that had brought war and famine upon our great country. Each body used for medical study was a sacrifice, an offering for forgiveness. Every person to be put under our blade was a step closer to bringing the motherland peace of mind, assurance that her injuries would be avenged.
After my fifth vivisection I finally saw what Herr Heilburg was talking about. They may look, sound, and even act like us Germans at times, but the truth of the matter was that they would never truly be like us. By the end of 1940 I was able to remove, replace, and transplant every major organ and limb. During my studies I had very little time for music, but I managed to avoid getting too out of practice with my violin.
For my final exam I had to perform a double heart transplant and have both patients live for a minimum of one month. Finding two patients with the same blood and tissue type was hardly a problem; there were so many people on what we called "the waiting list" that we had plenty to pick from. The procedure itself was actually a group project, which took nearly an entire 24 hours to complete. Needless to say, all six of us nearly collapsed from exhaustion after we finished suturing the patients. The next month was nothing short of agonizing.
The day I got my license to practice medicine, I was overjoyed. Some of my classmates invited me to join them for some celebratory drinking the night before the ceremony, but I refused. Instead, I spent the night catching up on some much needed violin practice.
Before I was able to even look at my license, I had to recite the Hippocratic oath. Of course, they didn't expect an eighteen-year-old to remember and recite the entire oath, so they gave me a more concise version that said, "I hereby swear that I shall not intentionally inflict harm upon my patients, for that is not why I am being made a doctor. If harm does come to my patients, however, be it accidental or otherwise, may I find mercy and forgiveness in the eyes of my superiors."
When the ceremony ended, Herr Heilburg pulled me aside. I clearly remember that he was emotional that day. He was obviously proud of me. I had graduated top of my class, not because of my grades (which were, incidentally, perfect) but because of my tenacity and willingness to learn. We had embraced, and I recall trying my damndest to not let my own emotions overcome me. I'll never forget what he told me that day:
"Listen," he addressed me, with his hands on my shoulders. "Practicing medicine is an art. I don't want you to ever be afraid to express yourself through your medium, just like any other artist might. As a musician, you of all people should understand that. Harm will come to your patients at some point in your career; that is an unavoidable fact. It may be from a foolish mistake, or from the testing of a new medical breakthrough, but it will happen. Just remember that making mistakes is human, and you shall never be punished for being human."
In the following years, I took Herr Heilburg's advice to heart, and truly came out of my shell. I was hired by a so-called Medicinal Renaissance Facility ("Making new and great medical discoveries every day!") that was funded by the government. Although I was working under the National Socialist regime, I was never named an official member of the Party.
The hospital was large and extravagant, and comprised almost entirely of operation rooms. My first lesson upon arrival was that the human brain will automatically shut down after a certain degree of pain, making anesthesia a simple waste of money. My first few surgeries at the hospital were just as traumatizing as those during my training, but I eventually became deaf to what used to be blood-curdling screams. I turned away from their pleas for mercy and forgiveness; they always said the same things. I no longer had any sorrow for them. For every patient that would try to plead and reason with me, five others would fight literal tooth and nail to escape the binds of the surgical table.
Almost every doctor there was around my age. I had concluded that it was because of our seemingly endless creativity and willing acceptance of new lessons. We were encouraged to experiment and try new techniques and procedures, for the hospital thrived on trying new things. Xenotransplantation, or putting animal parts into humans, had fascinated me the most. How well could a pig's heart work when inside of a human? Would the stomach of a baboon function the same way depending on its host?
Herr Heilburg's prediction came true only a few months after I started my career at that hospital. I hadn't gotten any sleep that night; I had been too horrified with myself for ending the life of another human being, a child, no less! I tried to come to terms with it, but even today the face of that little girl, pale as the snow, staring with soulless, unblinking eyes still haunts me. They were brown. My colleagues tried to help me by saying that the deaths of the Juden were avenging all of the German Soldiers who were killed on the front lines. I wanted to believe them, I wanted to be okay with what I had done, but I knew that I could never forgive myself.
Surprisingly enough, Herr Heilburg was telling the truth about one other thing: throughout my career at that hospital I was never once reprimanded for making mistakes, even when those mistakes caused injury and even death to my patients. I suppose I did learn from those mistakes, but eventually it became rather easy to overlook my errors and simply continue with the procedure. So long as the patient survived, the procedure was deemed a success.
As the years went by I recall becoming one of the most proficient surgeons at that hospital. I had made many great discoveries about the human body and how it reacts to different parts of other animals. Many of my findings on Xenotransplantation are common knowledge today. It's a shame my research was never published as my own. The hospital felt that all work was to be divided equally among the surgeons, and therefore the credit for any discovery would be shared among the rest of the surgical team.
Unfortunately, my career at the hospital lasted only five years. It ended along with the German empire, when I turned 22. Luckily I was able to keep my job as a surgeon, but to heal the patients that were brought to me, not learn from them. Standard procedures, such as the removal of tonsils, appendixes, gall bladders and even cesarean sections all became rather dull and routine after the fourth implication. I could never try anything new. It seemed as though the Renaissance period had ended, and I, a once great painter, was reduced to painting nothing more than bowls of fruit.
My subdual lasted less than a year. I needed to continue to express myself with my medium, to show myself, the world, what I was capable of. At the time, I had considered it my crowning medical achievement. I had told the patient that when he woke up he would feel like a new man.
I wasn't lying.
Moments after I finished the surgery I gathered my prize and proof of the procedure's success and left the hospital without a trace. It was the first time in my life that I had ever faced the risk of punishment for what I had deemed a great success. I left Stuttgart the next morning and made my way to a nearby town called Rottenburg. It was a three-hour bicycle ride, and, needless to say I was truly exhausted by the end of it.
I spent the better part of nearly twenty years in that no-name town. I was so thankful that the residents were secluded from the rest of the country. Because of their ignorance I was able to establish a hospital of my own a little more than ten years after I moved in. Needless to say I had developed a… reputation… there, as well. The hospital stood for all of seven years before I was forced to take my leave.
Big news was circulating the area a few days after I was driven out of Rottenburg: The prime minister was holding his wedding in Stuttgart! A plan was quickly unfolding, and I had only a few short days to carry it out.
The caterer left the door wide open. The keys were still in the ignition. The poor bastard even left the damned thing running! It was far, far too easy! I was on the main road and out of sight in minutes! The drive to the northern shore was an agonizing six or seven hours but I, my duffel bag, violin, and the twenty or so doves that had been left in the van made it onto the refugee boat without anyone batting an eye. I developed a very strong bond with one bird in particular; he simply would not leave my side. I decided to name him Archimedes. He seemed to be the leader of his flock, and so the rest of the birds only stayed because he did.
When I arrived in New York City I quickly came to hate the American people. They constantly scoffed at my poor attempts at English, and kicked me out of many establishments. In a way it reminded me of the way we treated the Juden back home, but I had never done anything against America! They had no reason to treat me so poorly! At least we Germans had reason for our treatment of the Juden.
Thanks to my skills with the violin I was able to make enough money to feed myself and my doves. Whatever money I didn't put towards food I used to make my way across the country. It was a slow ten years of travel, but in the end I decided to give up my journey in a desert state called New Mexico. It seemed that the people of New Mexico didn't quite care for violin music, but I still managed to keep myself and the birds fed.
She found me in a run-down café. I was unshaven, hungry, and generally wary of people. When I first saw her I thought that the heat of the day was getting to me. She looked so eerily similar to my first casualty from when I was working at that hospital in Germany that I figured I had to have been hallucinating. If her appearance hadn't gotten my attention, then the things she told me certainly did.
From what I gathered, my entire medical career had been closely monitored for a very long time, and I was one of  the top picks for a job as a mercenary, to fight in a private war over gravel, of all things. Should I accept the job, I would become a field medic for a group of eight other men. Before I could even express my most obvious concerns, I was given some rather interesting details about the job:
I would be given complete financial freedom to do whatever I wanted with my new patients, along with immunity from the law, should I ever be involved in anything illegal. Thanks to a revolutionary technology galled "Respawn," I and the rest of my patients wouldn't have to worry about getting killed, which was guaranteed to happen at some point in the war. My job as the Medic, however, was too keep my teammates from entering through the Respawn System too many times in a single battle.
Before I could even say anything in response to this ludicrous offer, she placed a check in front of me and left, telling me to take a couple of days to think it over.
Within twenty-four hours I had moved into my new laboratory and got the rest of the details of my employment at Mann Co. squared away. I then put my prize from my last great medical achievement on display right next to my desk, and finally let my doves make themselves at home within the laboratory.
When I met up with the rest of my team, I realized what beautifully diverse subjects they were! I knew as soon as I saw them that we would do great things together. In the years I fought in that war I learned many things about myself, my teammates, and medical technology. I developed many great medical tools, including the Über heart module, which made my patients temporarily invincible, and a fair number of Mediguns that healed just about any wound in a matter of seconds.
Although I became quite attached to my teammates, I never let them know much of anything about my life before the gravel wars. The ghosts of my past haunted me then and they still haunt me now, but even though there are still plenty of things I can learn from my past, I'm not one to dwell on mistakes. After all, making mistakes is human.
To be Human
Also published to at…, this story offers a rather deep insight to the Medic's past and and how he became who he is today.
"Hold still Schweinhund! I'm trying to help you-- augh!" Johannes clutched at his jaw and glared at the man in front of him. His patient offered a sly grin, drawing his fist back for a second time. Johannes twisted to avoid the blow and grabbed his patient's wrist. Thankfully the patient's other hand was tethered to the railing of the bed, giving Johannes an opportunity to reach around his own back and pull out a pre-filled syringe. He uncapped the needle with his teeth and plunged it into the man's exposed arm, causing the patient to howl in pain.
"Oh, hush. It's only a twenty-gauge needle." Johannes said unsympathetically, discarding the empty syringe on the floor and carting the patient to the door. "Patient sedated and ready for evacuation." A nurse nodded and took the bed immediately, then disappeared down the hall, allowing Johannes to move onto the next patient, who was curled up on his bed, head in hands and absolutely trembling.
Johannes took a deep breath and counted to five in his head, still rubbing at his bruised jaw, before approaching the frightened patient. "Are you okay?" He asked softly, gently placing his hand on the man's shoulder. The patient jumped and looked up into Johannes' face, directly into his eyes with a terrified, pleading expression. "Not to worry, friend. That was my last syringe," Johannes lied, not breaking eye contact with his patient. Johannes smiled at the man, noticing that he already looked somewhat calmer. "Come on, let's get you out of this hell hole." He moved to the front of the bed and wheeled the man to the door, and again, a nurse was waiting to take him away.
A distant alarm sounded, signaling the descent of another submarine. How many were left? Johannes listened for the voice over the intercom, but there was too much noise and commotion to hear what it was saying.
He looked questioningly at another doctor, but the colleague shook his head. Damn. With a resigned sigh, Johannes moved towards a particularly outraged patient who was thrashing in his gurney and screaming nonstop. "GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF! NO! IT'S ON ME, HELP!" After trying to speak to the patient with no success, Johannes concluded that the man was, for all intents and purposes, unresponsive. So, it was going to be another one of these. Great. Johannes reached around his back once more and uncapped the last syringe from his belt, careful to keep the needle out of the patient's sight. Abandoning the comforting and gentle approach that he was so used to, Johannes lunged forward and tried to dig the needle into the patient's arm before the other man could react. Johannes cried out in pain as his patient's jaw clamped around his hand, nearly dislocating the doctor's thumb. Johannes wrenched his hand out of the man's mouth, his meadow green eyes narrowed darkly.
The syringe lay discarded on the floor, the needle bent in half, no longer sterile. Johannes removed the torn and bloody latex glove from his bleeding hand, gripping it tightly tightly as he moved towards the nearest sink. The wounds were not that deep, but there was still infection to worry about. Johannes grimaced as he scrubbed at his bleeding thumb, cursing his patient between strokes. Johannes allowed one of his colleagues to wrap his hand in gauze, and also refilled his stock of syringes before turning back to the still thrashing and screaming patient, who now had two other doctors trying to subdue him.
"Reiniger!" One of them called out. It was Doktor Vogel, the tall blond doctor that tried to walk out on Johannes' card game. "Come help me with this patient! Er ist verrückt!"
"Yes, I know," Johannes said when he was close enough to be within earshot. "Look what he did to my hand." He held up his hand to prove his point before pulling a fresh syringe from his belt, now not caring if it was seen. This time he succeeded in injecting the patient with the tranquilizer and within a minute the patient fell limp. All three of the doctors surrounding the patient took a step back and sighed, and Johannes shared an I-can't-believe-we-just-did-that look with Doktor Vogel.
Johannes' gaze swept the infirmary; there were only ten beds left, and all of them were being tended to. Already moving towards the door, he gratefully peeled his remaining examination glove off and discarded it on the floor. The halls were more or less empty, save for the steady flow of nurses in and out of the infirmary. Two more doctors emerged from the hospital wing and nodded at Johannes as they passed. Johannes nodded back and fell into a jog towards the emergency exits.
As he jogged down the hall at a steady pace, he let his mind wander back to the insane events of the last couple of days. He punched Kurt Metzger, survived an explosion and now his best friend was in some sort of alternate dimension fighting God-knows what to save the world. He took a sharp turn to the right, into the evacuation chamber where a submarine sat waiting to submerge and transport its passengers to safety, and shook his head slowly. Johannes practically jumped into the vessel and immediately looked around at the passengers, hoping against hope that Horst was in here, but with no luck. He must have still been fighting. With a loud, screeching siren, the submarine lowered itself beneath the water and gently propelled towards the larger cargo ships that were sure to be waiting for it.
The ride was a short ten minutes, and Johannes was the last one out of the vessel. He was pulled on board the cargo ship by a pair of officers, and then then led to a large, thankfully warm room where he found the rest of the medical staff residing. Johannes looked around hopefully, but the only familiar face he found was that of Doktor Schuler, the short, red-haired doctor from the previous day. Johannes sat on the floor of the room in a far corner, away from the crowd and the commotion and everyone else and simply stared at the door, watching every person who came in. Twenty minutes passed, then an hour, and finally the ship started moving. A brief flutter of panic swelled in Johannes' chest. He promised, he kept telling himself. He promised he would be out before the last submarine left. Johannes stood and looked out the window at the other ships, praying that Horst made it out alive, and imagining how things will have changed back home in Germany.
Meanwhile, in an adjacent ship, Horst stared out his own window towards the disappearing strip of ice, wondering just how different his life would be from now on.

Gift of the Vril Chapter 7: Evacuation
Well. Um. Here's the last chapter. It's more or less something I threw together in one or two days just to close up the action. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride. And another big thank you to :iconderwen: for all your help <3  Stay tuned for Gift of the Vril Part Two (title yet to be decided).
The bright, sterile lights of the infirmary burned through Horst's closed eyelids, causing him to grimace in discomfort. Sirens blared in his ears, mingled with shouts and noises of struggling that filled the hospital wing, and Horst sat up shakily and looked around. The entirety of the medical staff was in the infirmary, and it seemed like almost every person was locked in some kind of fight.
Horst struggled to his feet, but fell to the floor immediately. Someone grabbed him under the arms and hoisted him to his feet, and Horst leaned heavily upon his assistor, allowing himself to be deposited back on the gurney. "Where's Johannes?" he asked groggily, shielding his eyes from the blazing white lights over his head.
"They're bringing him up now," the doctor tending to him said absently. "Just try to relax. There's been a major explosion and we're evacuating the facility. The higher-ups think we might be under attack."
"What?" Horst shot back into a sitting position and looked around. Sure enough, there was an almost steady stream of doctors escorting patients out of the medical bay and towards the emergency exit. Another bed rolled up next to him with a familiar form sitting upon it, head in hands. Horst called out to Johannes, causing the other man to jump. "Johannes! Du bist okay?"
Johannes refused to lift his head, but replied, "Ja, Ich bin fein," in an exhausted and almost angry tone. "I hear there was an explosion," He said, still keeping his head bowed in his hands.
"Yes, there was. In the excavation site. How you two survived is a mystery, being so close to the source." The doctor tending to Horst said, looking over the latter's singed hair and clothing, even as he wrapped a roll of gauze tightly around Horst's head. "What were you doing down there, anyway? Didn't you hear the announcement? You're lucky Herr Metzger came in here and told us where you were, otherwise you could have both been killed." When the doctor was finished, Horst slid off the gurney and onto his feet and took a few shaky steps towards the exit. A blinding pain exploded in Horst's head, invading every last neuron in his brain. Pictures, shapes flashed across his vision, millisecond by millisecond. The Gate, Metzger, a dead world, an immense pyramid, an orb. The orb! He needed to get to that orb and remove it from its stand, or else the entire facility and possibly the whole of Antarctica will be obliterated!
Horst opened his eyes and looked around. He was back on the gurney, and Johannes was standing over him with an extremely concerned look dominating his features. Gasping for air, Horst stared past his friend and said breathlessly, "I need to get to the Gate."
Johannes changed his expression in an instant from slight concern to shock. He shook his head slowly. "No, we don't. We need to get out of this facility and escape. Can you walk?"
"Yes, but I need to get to the Gate. I'm the only one who can stop this base and the entire continent from exploding!" Johannes helped Horst to his feet, but shook his head again. Horst must have suffered some sort of brain trauma from the explosion. Johannes led his friend out of the infirmary and headed towards the emergency exits, but Horst dug his heels into the floor.
"Horst, stop that now! We need to get you to safety. I don't have time to accommodate you and your concussion-induced delusions-- Or do you want us to die?"
"Johannes, you need to listen to me!" Horst wrenched his hand out of his colleague's grip and took a wobbly step towards the staircases. Unable to stand on his own, however, he simply leaned against the nearest wall, staring Johannes full in the face. The hallway was much more crowded than the infirmary, and every now and then a person would push past the two, or else barrel right into them head on, trying to make their way to the emergency exits. "That Gate, I need to get through it and stop whatever is causing this! Metzger is--"
"I'm what?" Horst froze in shock and horror at the sound of Kurt Metzger's voice, but that horror quickly melted into a hot, boiling rage that propelled Horst towards Herr Metzger, hands outstretched. Johannes lurched forward and grabbed Horst's arm just before the latter could reach Metzger.
"Deine Staßemutter Tochter! Komm hier! I'll kill you!" Horst's face was contorted into a startling expression of rage in its purest form. Johannes was genuinely afraid of his friend, even as he locked Horst's arms behind his back and pulled him away from Metzger, who was standing imperiously, watching his inferior struggle.
"Johannes, let me go, damn it! He nearly killed us!" Horst struggled and twisted in Johannes' grip, but was unable to break free. Johannes spun Horst around to stare directly into his eyes. Horst's pupils were constricted, leaving his icy blue irises to dominate his eyes, but something was off. Brilliantly bright and fluorescent blue streaks radiated out from Horst's pupils like lightning. It was a small, almost unnoticeable detail, but it was there. Johannes went back to the previous day when he had carried Horst from the excavation site, recalling Horst's murmuring about his eyes glowing. He watched the rage gradually fade into what had to be regret. Panting and gasping, Horst sank to his knees. "Please," he said quietly. "I need to go down to the Gate and stop it from destroying the base. There's still time."
Johannes sighed and pulled Horst to his feet. He looked up, and saw that Metzger had vanished. Good. "Horst, you need to tell me what's going on, right now. What happened in the excavation site yesterday, and what happened in the infirmary?"
"I can explain later, just take me down to the Gate." Johannes folded his arms across his chest. Horst took a moment to lean back against the wall and stare at his colleague in an I-can't-believe-this-is-happening sort of way. "Did you get a good look at the obelisks yesterday? Did you see the strange colors, and how the patterns were actually moving?" Johannes shook his head; a look of confusion began creeping onto his face. "Those obelisks are some sort of energy channel, same with the pyramids. They're what power that giant Gate. It's a portal. And I need to go through it to stop this base from being obliterated."
"How the hell are you going to do that?" Johannes asked, his confusion turning into shrewd skepticism.
"When I passed out in the infirmary, it told me everything I need to know, including how to save this base. If I can just get down there and stop Metzger from—"
"Wait, wait, what told you? And what does Metzger have to do with any of this?"
"I can't exactly explain what told me, but here's what I can tell you: Metzger's been possessed, Johannes! Don't you get it? We're a threat to him! He's been killing people for months to feed this-- this monster that lives on the other side of this portal, to make it stronger. When you knocked him out, that was a direct threat to him and the entity that is controlling him. That entity is the only thing that is allowing Metzger to feed this beast and make it more powerful! The Gate is open, Johannes, and if I don't get down there and destroy that monster, we're dead. It doesn't matter if we evacuate or not, the range of this creature's power is greater than you can imagine!" Horst was still leaning heavily against the wall, too weak to even stand on his own, but there was a determined gleam in his eye that somehow proved to Johannes that Horst was being completely serious.
"If this doesn't work, and you somehow survive, I'm going to haunt your ass," Johannes said in a resigned tone, taking Horst by the arm and leading him towards the stairway. They moved at a slow pace, if only to keep Horst on his feet, but eventually they made it back to the excavation site. What few obelisks had remained standing in the past 24 hours were now on the ground like the rest, and there were immense chunks of ice scattered about the floor of main cavern, some taller than Horst or Johannes combined.
"This way," Horst said, steering Johannes towards one of the larger caves. They walked in complete silence; no words needed to be said. They both understood what had to be done. As they neared the chamber that housed the Gate, Horst began feeling oddly energetic. Johannes looked around at him when Horst stopped leaning against him so heavily, and now struggled to keep up as Horst walked with a rather brisk pace. They entered the scorched and warped chamber that housed the Gate and paused to gaze at the large golden structure standing menacingly in the center of the room. Loud, angry crackling and jolts of electricity were emanating from the building, and an intensely bright blue light emitted from within the arch. Horst turned to face his friend. "Go back up to the infirmary. They need your help. I'll be out of here before the last ship leaves."
Johannes stared at his friend, shocked by what Horst was saying. He shook his head, taking a step closer to the Gate. "I can go with you, we can stop this thing together."
Horst sighed sadly. "No, Johannes. If you try to go through this portal with me you will be destroyed instantly. I need to do this alone." They both jumped as the Gate emitted a particularly loud crack! "Go, now. We're running out of time."
Johannes fought hard to keep his composure. He stood rigidly and held a hand out to his companion. "Auf wiedersehen, mein freund. I hope to see you soon."
Horst refused his friend's outstretched hand and stepped forward, pulling Johannes into a hug. The two embraced for what felt like an eternity, and when they finally pulled apart, tears were running down both men's faces. They both understood the weight of the situation, and were equally terrified of what may lie ahead. What if they never see each other again?
Horst turned his back on Johannes to stare at the Gate and heaved a great sigh. He took a step forward, then another, not taking his gaze off of the great golden structure. Faint lines of electricity sparked and crackled in the air, creating a veil of pure energy. He was nose to nose with the portal, now. Horst closed his eyes, and stepped forward.
Johannes watched in stunned amazement as his friend vanished in a blinding, deafening blue lightning strike. A split second later, the Gate was silent. Johannes allowed himself only a moment to process what had happened, then turned tail and sprinted back towards the main chamber. He flew past the lake, not thinking about where he was going or what could be lying ahead of him. Only one thought remained in his mind: Get to the infirmary.
He stumbled up the staircase and into the hospital wing and looked around; there was still plenty of commotion as doctors fought to restrain or sedate patients, while others simply bolted to the door and towards the emergency exit. There was still plenty of work to be done.
A jolt of pure terror shot through Horst when he realized that he was falling. He couldn't see anything, his entire world was pitch black. The wind roared in his ears and buffeted his face, and it felt like he would be falling for eternity until suddenly, he hit the ground.
He felt and heard nearly every last bone in his body shift, bend and snap under the force of the landing. Horst struggled to draw in a breath, but only managed to make a pitiful rasping noise that made him think vaguely of ruptured lungs and asphyxiation. He tried to push himself off the ground, but collapsed back onto his stomach with a muffled, "oomph!" There was no way he was going to let himself give up this fast, but how was he going to stand if he could barely even move, let alone breathe? Ignoring his own protesting brain, he let his head fall onto the cold ground and closed his eyes.
As he did so, something changed. He felt the bones within him shifting and returning to their natural positions. It was a very unnatural and uncomfortable feeling, but it wasn’t painful. It was then that Horst realized that he hadn't felt any pain at all, not even when he had hit the ground. He gasped, taking in an enormous lungful of air and pushed himself into a sitting position, letting his eyes adjust to the dark, gloomy atmosphere.
The first thing he noticed about this place was the fact that it was apparently floating in nothingness. It had a cold, dead atmosphere about it that seemed to penetrate Horst's very soul. He looked down at the area of rock he was sitting on and noticed that it was a drab brown color, like clay. He looked up at his surroundings and noticed that the rock beneath him was no more than a platform just a few meters wide, and that there were multiple other islands floating around his own. Horst climbed to his feet, questioning how it was possible for a platform made of clay and rock to float.
This entire place seemed so familiar, as if he had visited it a very long time ago. That's not possible, he told himself firmly, taking a step forward.
As soon as he did so he knew that there was something seriously different about the gravity in this world, if it could even be called a world. He felt weightless, as if he could fly. It was an odd sensation that pulled at his center of gravity and threatened to lift him right into the air. With the strange, weightless sensation of the environment came another kind of equally strange feeling, a kind of energy that meshed with Horst's body and soul and made him feel invincible, as if he could run for an eternity.
When he reached the edge of his hovering rock formation, Horst paused and looked around. In the distance, he saw an absolutely massive island with an immense pyramid nestled in the center of it. Even from such a great distance, Horst could see a faint bluish glow resonating from within the pyramid. There were hundreds upon hundreds of islands and rock formations surrounding the pyramid, just floating in the atmosphere; it gave Horst the impression that all of these smaller sections of rock were once part of a much bigger picture.
He needed to get to that pyramid; that was the source of all this trouble. Horst took a flying leap off of his platform and flew high into the air, soaring over countless pieces of rock and floating debris. As he began his descent, he made sure to aim for the biggest target he could. Sadly, that target was less than a meter wide in any direction. He tried to land as evenly as he could, but the platform still trembled and rocked as if it were trying to throw him off. Horst was surrounded by miniscule chunks of debris, none of which would be able to hold his weight. He had to think fast.
The nearest island that looked like it had any ability to hold his weight seemed too far away, even for Horst to get to, what with the lack of gravity. Perhaps he could control how long he was able to fly for? Was it even worth trying? His feet left his small chunk of rock and he rose into the air, higher and higher until he was almost double the height and distance of his first leap, but he began his descent much too early. Thankfully it wasn’t a very steep decline and he landed just on the edge of the larger platform. He was now close enough to the pyramid that he could make out some of the more subtle details.
It was a six-tiered structure with windows in all but the bottom two levels, which were many times taller than the upper four. The topmost segment emitted an intense electric blue glow that radiated throughout the three floors below it, and there were also smaller structures scattered around the pyramid that shone a bright teal color. It was hard to tell from such a distance, but they looked like statues of some sort. Additionally, there was an immense staircase that stretched from the top of the second level to far beyond the limits of the rock where the pyramid resided.
Horst briefly considered how long it would take for him to climb such a large flight of steps, but then he remembered that could practically fly. Laughing at his own foolishness, he ran the length of his section of demolished rock and jumped, nearly halving the distance between himself and the pyramid. He looked around his new platform and noticed that it looked nothing short of an open, hovering hallway that connected directly to the main section of rock where the pyramid resided. The path was flanked by very intricately designed metal pillars, fountains, and what looked like very short and crookedly built obelisks. Horst moved closer to one of the pillars, examining the elaborate patterns. They reminded him of spider webs in the way the carvings wrapped around the shaft of the metallic structure.
He moved onto the obelisks, seeing that these, unlike the red and black obelisks in the excavation site, were only as tall as Horst, and had ancient runic letters carved into the sides; they appeared to be made of a very rough, gray metal. Apart from the runes, there were also other shapes and patterns carved into the metal structure, one of which being six circles conjoined, forming a flower-like pattern in the center of them. This shape was repeated randomly throughout each face of the obelisk, each time joined by a clockwise rotating spiral.
The fountains looked like simple bird baths; they had just one single basin, perched atop a stand that, like the obelisks, had ancient runes carved into them. Around the edge of the basin was an alternating pattern of spirals and the flower-producing circles. The water spouting from the center of the basin was a bright blue-green color that glowed intensely; the brightness was amplified by the surrounding darkness. Horst gazed at the water and made a quiet groaning noise in the back of his throat. He hadn't had a single thing to drink all day and, come to think of it, was beginning to get lightheaded because of this. He leaned towards the fountain, but stalled. What if this water was dangerous? What if it made him terribly sick, or killed him instantly? A few seconds passed, during which he argued with himself silently. Eventually, thirst won over and he caught some of the spouting water in his mouth and swallowed.
As soon as the liquid hit his stomach, an intense shudder ran up and down his spine and buzzed throughout his brain. Horst closed his eyes briefly, and when he opened them was baffled to see that everything was bathed in a gentle blue light. He blinked once, and the effect was gone in the same instant. He shook his head and turned away from the fountain, setting off down the hallway and towards the pyramid, which loomed ahead in the darkness.
As he proceeded further and further along the path, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. Something was wrong. He was being watched. Horst twisted around and peered at the columns and obelisks suspiciously. He wasn't sure how, but he knew for certain that there was something hiding, lurking in the shadows, waiting for him to turn his back. His eyes narrowed, and he turned to face the pyramid, the ever-growing sense of paranoia swelling inside of him as he moved forward. His chest ached with anxiety as he just waited for something to jump out and attack him. He fell into a slow jog, measuring his footsteps and straining to keep his pace steady. The pyramid grew closer.
A jolt of panic shot through Horst; it pierced the space between his shoulder blades and drilled into his heart as the shadow of one of the short and crooked obelisks moved. It was an intense and violent movement, much like the ripple of a lake when disturbed with a large stone. Horst stopped in his tracks, trying to catch his breath and slow his heart, which was pounding painfully against his ribcage. He looked down at his chest and saw that his shirt was actually twitching from the force of his pulse, and so he sucked in a deep breath of air, held it for a second, then let it out as slowly as he could.
The tight ropes that were coiled around Horst's chest loosened and his heart calmed down enough for him to hear his own breathing once more, allowing him to focus on what just happened with that obelisk's shadow. He started forward again, keeping a wary eye on the obelisk and its shadow, but for some reason he couldn't shake off that pressing feeling of being watched. He only managed to walk a mere five meters before another slight movement caught his eye, but it wasn't as violent as the first. It was a small and erratic motion, like a shudder of sorts. Perhaps his eyes were simply playing tricks on him?
Refusing to stop now, Horst quickened his pace, refusing to take his eyes from the top tier of the pyramid. He could still feel the shadows moving around him every now and then, but resisted the urge to turn and find them. He knew they were following him, and could feel their cold hands reaching towards him, and finally the urge to turn and fight became too strong. He spun on his heel, fist raised and struck--
At thin air.
Horst blinked in surprise and flicked his gaze to the left and right, but everything was as still and desolate as ever. Again, he turned towards the pyramid, and the moment he did so, he could sense movement behind him, stretching and curling their shadowy fingers in his direction, each and every one of them acting with the intent of grabbing him and taking him in, to keep him from ever reaching that pyramid and the electric light within. Panic began to rise within him once more, and he broke into a heavy run, then pushed off the ground after six strides.
He landed lightly halfway up the stairs of the pyramid, careful to place one foot a few stairs above the other. He twisted around and looked down at the open hallway, his heart once again pounding within his chest. The shadow of every last objects decorating the path shuddered and rippled violently before breaking free of their caster and morphing into humanoid shapes. They walked strangely at first, hunched over and dragging their feet, but they soon adjusted to their new forms and moved faster. Their heads were turned upwards to stare at Horst, and as a unit they broke into a run, making a mad dash for the pyramid's stairway. Having seen enough, Horst rushed up the remaining stairs, taking them three and four at a time. In a matter of seconds he reached the top and went inside the pyramid itself.
The whole interior of the pyramid was bathed in an intense electric blue light; the drastic contrast between the inside and outside stopped Horst in his tracks, and he stared around, completely disoriented. The confusion was quick to fade, however, instead replaced by a sense of burning curiosity. He moved further inside the pyramid, listening to a quiet electric humming that seemed to come from everywhere as he looked around for the source of all this light. However, he was quick to discover that the light seemed to be coming from the walls and floors themselves and upon closer examination, he noticed that the walls or floor weren't even visible; vast machines obscured much of the pyramid's interior. They seemed to be lined with hundreds upon hundreds of bright glowing tubes of varying widths that wound and bent in every direction. The machinery itself seemed to be made of a silvery type of metal. Horst had never seen anything like it. It looked extremely high tech, perhaps surpassing even modern technology, but what was it doing inside such an ancient pyramid? On the floor beside him lay a pile of discarded machine parts, and Horst sifted through them, pulling out a pipe that was nearly twice the length of his arm. He held it over his shoulder like a baseball bat and looked behind him, waiting for the shadows to burst into the chamber and attack him, but they never came.
Now feeling somewhat calmer, he looked to the center of the room where an immense stone pillar rose into the ceiling and floors above. There was a large hole in the floor that gave the pillar a meter of space on any side. He approached the pillar and looked down towards the very bottom of the pyramid, visible only due to the light being emitted from even more machines in the lower floors. He then shifted his gaze upwards, to where an intense white light shone from the top of the pillar. He was so close now. He knew what to do.
He leapt towards the pillar and landed on the staircase that coiled around it, and began climbing. Every floor looked nearly identical, with large silver machinery and glowing blue tubes stretching across the floors and walls; it quickly became an old sight. The intense feeling of paranoia was quick to return to him as he peeked over the top of the pillar to the source of the intense white light. It was nothing more than an orb. Just a simple white sphere on a metallic stand. A series of images flashed before his eyes, of the orb falling into the pit below and shattering on the bottom floor of the pyramid. Was that all he had to do? Just knock the orb off of its stand? It seemed too simple. But then again, Horst thought to himself, reaching out towards the orb, most things are.
The very instant his fingers brushed over the edges of the white sphere, a deep, bass-like voice spoke from behind him. "You have come to free me." It wasn't a question. Horst jumped in shock and spun around. The figure that stood before him was humanoid in shape and color, but with lifeless black patches where the eyes should have been. A dark fog surrounded the creature, and the smoke reminded Horst of the black fog that he tried so hard to escape from in the excavation site.
Horst lifted the pipe that was in his hands and swung, but the entity before him caught it effortlessly. The figure laughed and the sound reverberated throughout the chamber and shook the very walls of the pyramid. Horst yanked the pipe out of the creature's grip and drew himself up to his full height, which was matched perfectly by the humanoid figure. It felt like Horst was looking in a mirror. The figure looked exactly like him; it had the same long, tired face and identical body shape to Horst. It was strangely off-putting. The only thing wrong was that the eyes were simple black holes in the figure's head.
"What are you?" Horst asked. Every few seconds, an image of the orb falling and shattering on the ground flashed in front of his eyes.
"I am one of many. Something more powerful than anything in the physical world. An entity of the chaos realm, and you have come to me at last to free me from this world, and unite the earth and the chaos realm once and for all." The creature's voice was a deafening roar in Horst's ears, and the doctor had to fight the urge to back away. He stood resolute against the screaming forces that surrounded him, his face void of emotion. "With the payment of only a few drops of your blood I can give you powers matched by the ancient gods themselves, and I shall finally be free of this prison!"
Horst stared at the entity, completely baffled by what it was saying. Powers matched by the gods? Horst looked away from the creature, thinking. It was for sure, a tempting offer, to achieve anything he had ever dreamed of. Immortality was definitely something he was interested in, but then again, how could this thing give him such abilities? And if he were to gain immortality, what would happen when all of his friends and family were gone, and he had nobody left in his life? Would he just keep making new relationships, starting new families? And what if he finally became tired of living an eternal life? Of course, to escape death indefinitely was something every man dreamed of, but maybe it wouldn't be such a good thing after all. And what other abilities would entail having 'powers matched by gods'? Mind control? The ability to create life right before his own eyes? Perhaps this was too broad of an offer. It could get him into serious trouble in the long run. No, he would have to refuse. Besides, he needed to close that Gate and get back to the base.
He decided to avoid the offer for now, instead asking, "What is this place?" The wind was screaming in his ears and he had to shout to even hear himself.
"This is what's left of an ancient city that was once on Earth. A place that is between and beyond worlds. But that doesn't matter now. You're here, I'm finally free!"
"What are you talking about? This place was once part of earth?" Horst glanced outside the window. The world outside looked much too dead and desolate to have once been part of such a lively place like earth.
"Yes, this was once part of earth, many eons ago, before a universal catastrophe caused by that dreaded planet destroyed us," was all the entity said, still blocking Horst from reaching the orb. "And if you destroy this orb, as you intend, the energy contained within it will destroy everything we've worked so hard to create."
"The slave that I've possessed. Metzger, he called himself. Yes, he was a lovely channel for my energies, and very malleable. He helped me return to my full power by feeding me the dead bodies of his kind. He came here just before you did to warn me that you would come to destroy us, but I know that you are here to free me and help us finish what I started so long ago."
Horst paused, trying to gather his thoughts. "And what exactly is it that you want to finish?"
"We will unify every soul and body for the one and only terrible God. This world is ours alone. Humans are nothing more than filthy insects living upon it. We shall bring upon this land a new age, where everybody is one and equal, but a part of the Grand Plan. The Master demands it and it will be done." A cold chill ran down Horst's spine at these words. He shook his head, slowly at first, then lunged forward, swinging his pipe furiously. He struck the entity on the side of its head and it staggered, then fell through the hole in the floor. Horst heard the muffled thud of the creature as it hit one of the lower floors, then reached for the orb once more.
Before he could even touch the orb this time, the entity launched itself up and hit Horst square in the chest, knocking him flat on his back. The pipe fell out of his hand, and he heard it clatter against the edge of the pillar, down towards the lowest floor of the pyramid.
The entity spoke, but instead of the calm and calculated tone it had used before, it now adopted a mood of what could only be described as pure, unadulterated rage.
Horst cried out in shock and pain as the entity's grotesque, claw-like hands buried themselves deep into his chest. He could feel the absolute rawness of the cold as it leaked into his bloodstream, drawing every last bit of warmth from him. His entire body stiffened from terror and the sheer freezing cold penetrating him and he tried to draw in a breath, but his chest was in complete agony; his heart and lungs were covered in a sheet of ice and Horst knew that the creature was trying corrupt his blood and leech it out of him.
He opened his eyes wide, and on the bridge of his nose could see a light blue glow coming from his irises, but there was something more. A small orb of glowing azure energy floated inches from his face, and it gave Horst a feeling that something that he had lost ages ago was finally returning to him. Close the Gate, it said to him. Seal it and destroy it.
Horst nodded, and looked at the foul creature that was still on top of him. His eyes unfocused for a moment, allowing a number of images to flash before him, and everything came back to him at once, even though it made no sense. He was one of the gods that trapped that entity in this place and doomed it to be forever imprisoned in this endless void. Horst's eyes refocused, staring directly into the creature's eyes. "I know what I am," Horst said. "You are old, but I? I am ancient."
At this moment, a powerful wave of energy washed over Horst and bore into his chest, heating him to the core. He felt completely invincible. A metallic ringing noise met his ears, like the sound of a high-pitched gong that went on and on, and an intense blue light surrounded him. The surge of energy was so powerful that it vaporized the entity, leaving nothing more than a pile of dust on Horst's front. Horst rolled over onto his front and pushed himself to his feet. He looked down at himself and saw that his entire body was covered head to foot in a strange metallic blue light that stretched and warped around him. Everything within eyeshot was bathed in a softer, almost aquamarine glow that pulsated around the edges of his vision.
He fell to his hands and knees, a feeling nausea creeping over him. The filter of color faded in a way that reminded Horst of how a reel of film would burn in distorted patches, as did the strange substance that coated his body. He retched, spitting up a mouthful of pure black liquid. Two more times this happened, until a small pool of the liquid swirled slowly around his hands. He heaved a great sigh as his entire body shuddered. "I remember now." He spoke quietly, calmly, despite what had just transpired mere seconds ago. Everything that he had known and every ability he possessed during the ancient times was finally returning to him.
Horst pushed himself back to his feet and approached the orb once more. He reached out and picked it up without hesitation and stood over the edge of the pillar. He gazed down at the lowest floors of the pyramid and held his hand out.
Horst watched the orb slip from his fingers and descend gracefully into the dark pit and shatter on the ground. As the orb burst, it let forth a light brighter than a nuclear explosion. Horst closed his eyes and leaned backwards, a weak sense of panic beginning to rise within him. There was no time left. He needed to get back to that Gate.
He leapt from the pillar to the surrounding floor and all but threw himself out of the door and onto the ground beside the pyramid. He looked into the distance and saw the Gate on a high platform, sparking angrily. Horst ran down the open hallway, past statues and obelisks and fountains and didn't stop; he leapt into the air and landed on a wide platform, almost halving the distance between the pyramid and the Gate. The rocks were too small here, he'd have to be careful. Focus¸ he told himself.
Just a few meters ahead of him there was a platform that looked large enough to make a running leap and make it to the Gate. Each rock he jumped to would shift beneath his feet, trying to throw him off balance. Horst pounced onto the larger platform and took only a second to look around. The bubble around this world was shrinking fast. He needed to make this final jump count.
Horst backed up until his heel hung over the edge of the platform and leaned forward, never once taking his eyes off the crackling and energized Gate. His feet pounded the stone beneath him as he fell into a sprint. The edge of the platform was approaching fast. He pushed off the ground and flew up and into the air, sailing towards the small island. He concentrated on moving himself forward and up, but it wasn't enough. His feet just missed the platform by a few centimeters. Thinking fast, he grabbed onto the edge with his hands and hung there for a moment before pulling himself up. He paused only for a split second and looked around. The edge of the world was closing in, vaporizing everything that dared go beyond its boundaries. Without a second thought, Horst dove into the archway. He felt the air temperature around him change the instant he was through, and felt he was high enough to perform a single summersault in the air. He pushed forward, and rolled over himself, and landed perfectly on—
His stomach.
Horst opened his eyes and looked at the Gate. It had fallen completely silent, and deep down he knew that it would never be opened again. He pushed himself to a sitting position, his legs crossed and looked around. In spite of just narrowly escaping vaporization, he felt quite calm. He looked around, noticing that in the corners of his vision there were small, translucent orbs hanging, suspended in the air. Each one was a slightly different color from the next, ranging from pink, blue, green and red to pure white. Horst watched serenely as the small balls of light danced around the chamber. He could have watched them for hours, and that was exactly what he planned to do. The orbs moved slowly, deliberately, and circled around Horst in an almost hypnotic fashion.
Horst frowned when all the orbs stopped in the same instant, secretly wanting them to continue. His eyes followed a particularly bright blue one as, all at once, the orbs rose into the ceiling. A deep rumble echoed through the cave and snapped Horst out of his trance. Something wasn't right. He jumped to his feet, looking around, suddenly breathing heavily. Another rumble reverberated throughout each cave and chamber, and a loud crack sounded directly above Horst's head. His eyes widened in fear and he shot out of the chamber, letting muscle memory guide him through the series of pitch black caves. The entire excavation site was collapsing. It was just his luck that he would be right in the middle of it. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the lake fly past. His legs burned, but he did not slow down, and soon he found himself hurtling up the stairs and skidding to a halt in the hospital wing. The smell of antiseptics hit him like a ton of bricks, but it was the most comforting scent he could have ever experienced. Below him he could hear the excavation site crumbling like a house of cards, and he could feel the vibrations of it beneath his feet.
Horst nearly jumped out of his skin when the intercom crackled to life. "Attention all remaining staff. The last evacuation submarine will be departing it five minutes. Please drop what you are doing and leave now."
Horst's very soul seemed to freeze with shock, then thaw and warm with relief. Without a second thought, he shot down the hallway and towards the evacuation chamber. Sure enough, the top of a submarine was breaking the surface of the water, waiting for the countdown to finish so it could submerge itself and depart towards the cargo ships. Heart pounding, mouth completely dry, Horst stepped onto the back of the vessel and lowered himself into the machine's body. There was a large clock on one wall of the submarine, counting down from thirty seconds. Horst looked from that to the other occupants of the vessel. There were only three other people in the submarine, none of whom Host was able to recognize. He looked out of the porthole as the submarine dipped under the surface of the water, his only concern being for his best friend, wondering if he had made it safely on board one of the ships.
A Place Between and Beyond Worlds
Why must the titles have a character limit?!?!?!?!
This chapter was the most difficult to write and I needed sooo much help from Derwen. I can't thank you enough for all you help with this chapter, dear <33 


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Emily Erickson
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm an outdoorsy person who loves adventuring and creatures of al kinds (Except spiders... I don't like spiders... *shudders*). I love reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds and mammals, I'm also fond of drawing, photographing, writing/reading poetry and short stories, and I also like the occasional novel. I'm currently living in Massachusetts, (But I'd MUCH rather live somewhere with less city... MOAR FARMS AND FEILDS AND TREES AND STUFF) Where I'd lived my whole life. To keep my passion of all things nature going, I also have a website, so feel free to check it out!


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