Carpathia III: Episode 142: Yellow Eyes

The Portal

Down the spikey hillside trudged the group, dodging sharp rocks and large cracks along the way. Adell did his best to smooth the path, but the frequent tremors meant that he was dealing with a constantly-changing target. Keast had the most trouble, as he was now walking with the rest of them instead of flying and hadn't yet accustomized himself to the constantly shifting ground. As they came closer to the device, a green glow descended upon them and what sounded like crackling electricity grew louder.

The area near the structure was significantly calmer, like the eye of a hurricane. Artemis healed the minor cuts and scrapes suffered by some of the group while the rest looked for a way inside.

Toma: Hey, we can go inside here.

The others converged on the comparatively small structure off to the side of the portal generator where Toma was standing. The door was still huge, however, large enough to accommodate the entire group walking side by side if they were to choose to enter that way.

Artemis: How do you know that's the way in?

Toma pointed to writing above the door.

Toma: Because it says "Entrance" in Tokkastran right there.

Looking up, Jaze was the only other one who understood the words above the door.

Jaze: Well, we either go home today or back to the village. Let's see which one it's going to be. How does this work?

Jaze and the others looked around for a button or handle of some sort by which to open the door.

Toma: Here it is.

Toma waved his hand in front of a small divot next to the door. As soon as he did so, a little door slipped open, revealing a keypad with twelve buttons, each with a different marking.

Jaze: Those are Tokkastran numbers.

Artemis: A better question is where the hell we're going to find the code.

Kaoru: We should break up into teams and look for clues.

Right away, the group started milling around in the immediate area while Artemis kneeled to speak to Phobos and Deimos.

Artemis: Do you guys think you might be able to hack the lock?

Phobos: We're not sure.

Deimos: We don't know what kinds of traps might be involved.

Artemis growled under his breath. However, before he could muse on any further plan, there was a loud clank and a screech of metal on metal. The others immediately looked up to see the massive door rising while rivulets of sand rolled down the opening. Toma stood by the keypad seeming no more pleased with himself than if he had simply dialed a telephone number.

Toma: Easy.

The others stood by, dumbfounded, having thought only moments ago that their journey might have been thwarted.

Adell: How did you know the code?

Toma looked at the keypad and shrugged.

Toma: I recognized the keypad. We still use these in rare conditions. It's designed only to keep out non-tokki. The code is an ancient rhyme to teach numbers to kids. We all know it.

Jaze: Good thing we have you. What would have happened if you were wrong?

Toma glanced up at the door which was just now completing its opening sequence.

Toma: A big laser would have popped out of the door and vaporized everyone.

Nobody said anything and instead gaped at Toma with wide eyes and gaping mouths.

Toma: Not a good time for the typical tokki humor?

Toma turned and walked inside while everyone else simply shrugged and then followed. Aside from the lights that flickered on as they entered the tunnel, it was a spartan affair, with only the occasional pipe running along the wall providing any sort of visual interest. In short order, they came to another door that looked exactly the same as the previous one. Toma waved his hand over another little divot in the wall and again a keypad appeared. This one, however, was different. It was a mass of at least a hundred small, unmarked buttons arranged on a grid. The buttons lit up in rapid succession, each one playing a distinct tone or drumbeat.

Jaze: I hope you know what to do with that.

Toma studied the area around the keypad for a moment before answering.

Toma: Standard music toy that we all learn in primary school. I just need to know what song to play.

Toma continued to study the area around the keypad before finally stopping at one dirty spot. He rubbed the spot with his finger, revealing words more clearly.

Toma: Yeah, I know this. It's an old lullaby.

Toma flexed his fingers a few times and then began to play a slow, sleepy tune. The others gathered around the door, waiting for it to open, but the door did not open and Toma continued playing. After a few straight minutes of Toma's song, about the same time that the others became restless, the door finally opened. This time, the mechanism operated much more smoothly than the door on the outside.

Jaze: I understand now why Wishmaster was nervous about you being here and why no tokki are ever brought to this place on purpose. You're the only one in this entire world who can open these doors.

Toma: I suppose you're right.

The door continued to open until it finally revealed a cavernous, circular room behind, large enough to fit a few Carpathian starliners quite comfortably. Around the edges were various computer consoles and in the middle was a massive energy field rising from a pit. The pit itself was big enough for a Carpathian shuttle to fly through and was surrounded by a railing. Looking down, it was impossible to tell how deep it went, as though it were rising up from the center of Yseri itself. Next to the pit, tiny by comparison, but still large enough for three people to walk through side-by-side, was an empty metal ring with an assortment of heavy cables plugged into it.

The floor was a gruesome contrast to the relative cleanliness and sterility of the area. In random heaps scattered across the room were bones and dust, clearly indicating that the facility was not abandoned peacefully. Why they died was impossible to tell and the group explored cautiously. Kaoru gathered the younger members together.

Kaoru: Okay guys, it's very important that you do not touch anything at all. We don't know what any of this stuff does yet.

The younger group, especially Reuli, fresh from his experience with the elevator, nodded intently.

Kaoru: You too, Keast.

Keast plopped down on the floor with his legs crossed and addressed Kaoru in an uncharacteristically serious tone.

Keast: First rule of mischief is not to do it if you have no idea what the result will be.

Kaoru pointed at Keast while addressing the others.

Kaoru: What he said.

The activity now turned to Artemis, who had just finished fetching his computer from his backpack.

Toma: The writing style here is pretty old, but this looks like a system access port.

Artemis: Good. I can plug in here and hopefully run a translator. I still might need your help even if this works, Toma.

Toma: Sure thing. You'll really be able to connect to this?

Artemis held up a long cable with something that looked like a suction cup at the end of it.

Artemis: That's what universal cables are for. I've been able to read computers over a century old with this.

Artemis placed the suction cup end of the cable over the access port. Meanwhile, while they waited, the others looked around more and discussed what they were seeing.

Adell: Azrael, no sign of Wishmaster or anything?

Azrael: None that I can detect.

Ryuu: It's all very strange. If Wishmaster is using this place to bring people here, then how does he get in? It's clear that nobody has been here in eons except us. Unless...

Adell watched in horror as Ryuu's eyes grew wide, knowing that anything distressing him would be alarming indeed.

Adell: What is it?

Ryuu: We have to leave, now!

Only a moment passed for everyone to express their surprise before the door to the outside suddenly slammed shut with a resounding crash and the lights began to flicker.

Quilyon: Everyone gather close!

Right away, the group came together, looking around frantically for the source of the problems. Only Artemis was not with them, still at his computer trying to gather any information that he could. The energy flow in the center of the room began to fizzle, like static on an old TV during a rainstorm. Finally, a shape familiar to Jaze's dreams materialized in the center.

Wishmaster: Hello once again, Jaze. I am Wishmaster. Welcome to my home.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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