Carpathia III: Episode 145: Phobos and Deimos


The Portal

It wasn't long before everyone settled into their roles. Artemis, Phobos, and Deimos went to work on understanding the portal generator with Toma's assistance on the language. Toma also taught the door mechanisms to those who could understand it quickly, particularly Ryuu and Azrael, in case it were necessary to open it and Toma was not available. Azrael stood guard at the door while Ryuu and Keast went off to find firewood and the rest settled down near the complex entrance to tend the food and make camp.

Day turned to night when Toma emerged from the complex and staggered into the campsite.

Jaze: How is it going in there?

Toma plopped wearily on the ground and picked up a piece of fruit.

Toma: I guess it's going okay. I don't really understand much of what Artemis is doing in there and his energy has no limit at all. I'm exhausted.

Jaze petted Toma's head and rubbed his ear.

Jaze: It's alright. Eat and take a rest.

Toma nibbled voraciously at his fruit.

Toma: I explained as much as I can to him. The universal translator is taking care of my job now, so he doesn't really need me anymore. I spent the last several hours in there just sitting and thinking. I am not happy.

Jaze's ears popped up on his head.

Jaze: Oh? What happened?

Toma took several more bites from his fruit before continuing.

Toma: Looking at the dates of the logs and data, I can see that this place was built right before the Tokkastran Reformation. Back then, the Queen was overthrown by the military and the current royal family took power. Limits on science were put into place and the Reproduction Registry was instituted. That's just a sample of what happened then. I think it's obvious now that we have not been told the real reasons why the Reformation happened.

Toma suddenly yawned wide enough that Jaze could clearly see his long, fruit-stained incisors.

Toma: Anyway, not the time for that. I'd rather like to go to sleep now.

Jaze: It's okay. I'm not sure about some of the things I've been thinking either. You go ahead and rest. We can talk later.

Toma was already starting to lean backward. Jaze scrambled to brace him and, at the same time, pull over one of the backpacks for him to rest his head.

Jaze: Hey, maybe someone should go keep an eye on Artemis.

Adell immediately volunteered.

Adell: I'll go. Probably best for him not to be alone.

With nighttime settled in, Toma wasn't the only one who decided it was time to lay down. Most of the others did as well, hoping for some good news the next day.

______________

Daylight, what little of it made it through the clouds, brought a slightly less than peaceful morning, for Artemis's open-mouth snoring broke the stillness. Quilyon started a new campfire away from the old one near where Artemis was sleeping, spread-eagle on the ground.

With the campfire ready and the food cooking, the site stirred with life and questions about what, if anything, Artemis had discovered. Adell, unfortunately, wasn't much help.

Adell: I know he has it working, but not much more than that. I nodded off a few times myself while I was in there.

The food now cooked, everyone ate while waiting for Artemis to wake up. They decided, at least, to wake him themselves if he did not do so of his own accord before they were done.

Kaoru: Still no sign of Wishmaster?

Azrael: The night passed without incident.

Adell: Ryuu, you're our expert on galactic monstrosities. Any change to your opinion?

Ryuu shrugged and took a bite from his meal.

Ryuu: Nope. I still say he's probably dead, but it's still definitely possible that he's either faking or injured. I wish I could give you a better answer.

A yawn big enough to be heard over the crackling fire emanated from Artemis's direction. Sitting up, he rubbed his eyes and staggered over to the fire, picking up one of the roasted critters laying on a stone.

Artemis: I guess I fell asleep.

Azrael: Indeed you did, Master Artemis. I hope you don't mind that I carried you outside. It was impossible to wake you.

Artemis: That's fine. I guess you all want to know what I found out.

The eager faces all staring back at Artemis were enough answer for him.

Artemis: Right. Well, it works. The issue with it is that it's a one-way wormhole. If I establish an entrance here, the exit is stable enough for travel. It's when the exit is here that it goes wonky, but that doesn't matter to us now. I opened several gates to other worlds and they all worked fine. I was able to monitor the exit locations and they were safe. The only issue is that even though I can make minor adjustments to the exit, like making sure we exit close to the ground, I can't control where on the planet we'll end up. Whatever the tokki did here, they didn't finish it, but we can go home.

The others took a few moments to process the information that Artemis delivered with widening smiles and hopeful gazes.

Adell: It sounds like everything is in order. Let's go then, right?

Everyone nodded and looked to Artemis, expecting him to explain what would happen next. However, Jaze spoke next, sheepishly raising his hand with his ears folded down on his head.

Jaze: Um... I have questions.

Surprised, the others now turned to Jaze, not expecting him of all people to express doubts.

Jaze: Ryuu said he can't be sure if Wishmaster is dead, injured, or faking. What's to stop him from sucking up another bunch of boys and starting this over again?

Silence passed with nobody offering an opinion.

Jaze: If he's faking, could he be waiting to follow us back? You heard him in there. He was willing to destroy all of it to get to us. Even weakened, he could do a lot of damage. Or, even if he is dead, what's to stop another monster from taking his place?

While the others contemplated Jaze's questions, Phobos and Deimos quietly sneaked away outside the circle and started having their own hushed conversation. Nobody noticed but Kaoru, as they were in his, and only his, line of sight.

Adell: Those are, unfortunately, good points. Could we ask Lord Lynx to send the fleet out here to check this place out after we go back? With Ryuu showing him our memories, he would believe us.

Before Adell finished, Artemis was already shaking his head.

Artemis: I still don't know where we are. The database only shows where we can go, not where we are.

Ryuu: If this place isn't known to you already, it would have to be far. How long does it take for one of your ships to get to Tokkastra?

Jaze: More than two weeks on our faster starliners.

Ryuu nodded.

Ryuu: Then we can assume that this place is at least farther than that? Wishmaster could do a lot of damage in two weeks, especially if he used his etherial form to get into your computer systems.

Kaoru did his best to pay attention to the discussion, but kept his eye on Phobos and Deimos at the same time, who alternated between listening in and conversing amongst each other.

Jaze: Could we fix the self-destruct and set it to go off after we leave?

Artemis again shook his head.

Artemis: I barely understand how to run the thing. If you gave me five years or so, I might start to understand how to repair or modify it and even that is optimistic, I think. The code for the system is an octal numeral system and and it's giving my computer fits.

Kaoru leaned to his side slightly to get a better look at Phobos and Deimos. Now, he was so intrigued with their antics that he was barely listening to the others at all. Deimos removed her hand and plugged it into a port in Phobos's chest.

Adell: Could we cause the power system to feed back on itself or something?

Artemis: Like I said, I don't know how to do that. Even Phobos and Deimos don't know how to do it, and I've even asked them to explore the entire complex. It seems that the tokki scientist was right. The only thing we can do is destroy the power cores directly.

Jaze: Couldn't Wishmaster still follow us?

Ryuu: Not at that distance. His physical and etherial forms can't be separated by entire planets like that. He'd have to recombine.

Kaoru watched as Deimos unzipped Phobos's shirt and opened his chest access panel.

Kaoru: Um, Artemis, I know this conversation is important and everything, but I think Phobos and Deimos are up to something.

Artemis's ears suddenly popped up on his head and he turned around to see what Phobos and Deimos were doing. Right away, both snapped to attention despite Phobos's chest being wide open.

Deimos: Daddy, you're right. There is no other way. We know you want to go home and this is the only way to do it.

Now ignoring the others, Phobos and Deimos talked amongst each other again, much to the befuddlement of Artemis who tilted his head in confusion.

Deimos: Will ten minutes do it?

Phobos: Better make it twelve. Dad is going to be very upset.

Deimos: Very well. Twelve it is. Let's synchronize.

Artemis's eyes widened as he suddenly comprehended what they were doing.

Artemis: NO, WAIT!

Phobos and Deimos: Set auto-destruct for twelve minutes. Disable cancellation.

Artemis: NO!

Artemis froze in shock while Deimos reached into Phobos's chest and removed his power core. Phobos flopped to the ground like a doll while Deimos faced her creator with a cheery smile on her face.

Deimos: Thank you, Daddy, for my life. This is my gift to you. I love you very much!

Deimos turned and sprinted away. In a flash, she was already inside the complex before anyone else could even move. Artemis crawled frantically to Phobos.

Adell: Twelve minutes! Grab what you can and let's go!

While the others scrambled to grab their backpacks, Keast gave Jaze a hearty slap on the back.

Keast: Well, nice knowing you. This will be my cue to leave!

Keast spread his wings wide for takeoff when a sudden gust of wind pancaked him right to the ground.

Toma: Keast, you can't outfly this explosion. Not in twelve minutes.

Keast: But...

Toma: Come with us or stay and die. Those are your only choices.

Keast chewed on is lip for a second.

Keast: Okay, given that choice, I'm coming with you.

The campfire still burned brightly as everyone darted toward the compound entrance clutching their backpacks with Kaoru and Quilyon herding them along. Artemis kneeled on the ground clutching the lifeless Phobos to his chest while Adell stood by his side.

Adell: Come on, Artemis! You have to open the gate to Carpathia!

Before Artemis could utter a word, Azrael skidded to a halt next to Artemis, scooped him up into his arms, and carried him to the complex. Artemis flopped around in Azrael's arms like he was a stuffed toy while Adell followed close behind. Once inside, Kaoru and Quilyon began taking a head count.

Quilyon: Is everyone here?

While Quilyon asked, Kaoru was counting.

Kaoru: That's everyone. Artemis, what next?

Finally, Artemis stirred and Azrael put him on his feet. He gave Phobos one more tight squeeze before handing him over to Azrael with a grave expression upon his face.

Artemis: Make sure nothing happens to him.

Azrael: On my life, he will be safe with me, Master Artemis.

Artemis craned his neck to better shout to the others.

Artemis: Watch the ring, but don't get close! I'm going to open the gate!

Artemis began furiously tapping alternately at his computer and at the console next to it.

Artemis: Almost there. I just have to fix the landing spot.

More time passed in nervous anticipation when finally the area inside the ring began to distort until an orange and black swirl manifested inside.

Artemis: That's it! Go one at a time. When the first one goes, count to five and then the next.

Not having had the time to decide who was going first, the others wasted precious seconds looking around in confusion.

Keast: Well someone has to do it. Here's to a new adventure.

Keast flapped his wings and launched himself into the portal gate while Artemis studied the monitor on the console. The others counted to five in their heads.

Artemis: Keast made it. Next!

Closest to Kaoru was Oliver and with no time to make any careful selections, Kaoru pushed him toward the gate.

Kaoru: Oliver, go!

Oliver hesitated for a moment and then, with closed eyes and gritted teeth, charged into the portal. Again, everyone counted to five.

Artemis: Next!

One by one, everyone entered the portal while Artemis monitored their progress. Finally, the only ones left were Artemis, Adell, and Azrael.

Adell: Go on, Artemis. We'll be right behind.

Artemis: I know what you're doing, making sure I don't do anything foolish.

Adell nodded.

Adell: I don't think you would, but I'm not taking chances.

Artemis rolled his eyes and grabbed his computer.

Artemis: Fine. Just count to five!

Artemis rushed into the portal, followed by Azrael. Adell took one last look around as he counted to five and then entered.

______________

Somewhere Unknown...

Adell didn't remember the last time he went through the wormhole, having whacked his head on a tree when he exited. It was a very strange, floating sensation in the void, as though being in a womb and he was rather surprised to find that he could breathe, even though he felt no air around him. Eventually, a speck of green appeared in the void and grew bigger and bigger. Realizing that he was coming to the exit, he braced himself.

Adell tumbled out of the wormhole gate to find the others scattered around, taking stock of their new surroundings. They were in a grassy field of some sort, surrounded by trees. It certainly seemed like the planet of New Berengaria, but time would tell if that's really where they were.

Adell: Is everyone okay?

Kaoru: Just a couple of bumps and bruises. Nothing to worry about.

Adell looked for Artemis next, who wasn't far. Azrael gently handed over Phobos to him and Adell clutched him tightly. Adell looked back to find the portal still there.

Adell: Artemis, how long will this thing last?

Artemis's voice cracked as he spoke without looking up from Phobos.

Artemis: It'll cut out on its own, eventually.

Adell looked back at the portal exit again and, this time, a pinprick of orange was in the center and growing rapidly, swirling like a flame. Suddenly, with great horror, Adell realized what he was looking at.

Adell: EVERYONE GET AWAY FROM THE PORTAL!!!

Kaoru and Quilyon didn't even look to see what was wrong and immediately started pushing to others to run as fast as possible. Azrael again scooped up Artemis and sprinted away. No sooner than they were clear that a rocket jet of flame blasted from the portal exit and then vanished.


Commissioned art in this episode from:
Miyumon
Jenova87
Thatwildmary
Atomic Clover
Pokeguin
Iniphineas

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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