Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Where Gods Dare -- Chapter II

Here is part of the second chapter from my upcoming novel. Again, sorry about the formatting. Word 2016 doesn't like Blogger.

Back aboard the Midgard, they reconvened on the bridge. “So what did you want to check?” Maya asked Ev.
            Sitting in the captain’s chair he told her. “I want to know if there are any more gods left on Narska besides us. Did Zero Grade’s attack remove everyone’s powers?”
            “Good thinking,” Daryn said. “You want to search for potential allies.”
            “Great plan. But how exactly do we do that?” Jaysin said.
            “Simple, really. Ragnarok?”
            The ship’s AI promptly responded. “Yes, Captain Bannen?”
            Ev grinned. “It still feels good to be called that. Now, then; Ragnarok, is there a sensor array or something that can tell us how many gods are left on the planet?”
            “I have very sophisticated sensors.”
            “Good. How many are left?”
            “Beginning scan. This could take up to a minute to probe the entire planet.” After a minute, she said, “Scan complete.”
            Holding his breath, Ev asked, “All right. Besides us on this ship, are there any gods left on Narska?”
            “Sensors show only one being with high levels of Ultimus energy.”
            “Great,” Daryn said. “Only one person left. This just keeps getting better and better.”
            “I wonder if they’re friendly,” CiCi said.
            Ev sighed. Zero Grade had done a thorough job of ridding themselves of their enemies. He wondered if any of their own had been caught in the blast; he didn’t know if the Flawless Few cared about collateral damage. “Fine, then. Ragnarok, can you identify the one remaining god?”
            “I’m sorry, Captain Bannen. The person in question is too far away.” After a pause, she declared, “Strange. The person has disappeared from my sensors.”
            “What do you think that means?” Jaysin asked.
            Ev shrugged. “Hell if I know. Ragnarok, what was their last known location?”
            The computer responded, “Approximately four hundred miles northwest of Seraphim City in Morovia.”
            To Ev, there was only one thing to do. “Take us there.”

* * *

The area in question turned out to be Flowerstone National Park, a mountainous area with a deep network of subterranean caves. Over the past several decades, only a small percentage of those caves had been mapped, and once the place became a protected site, strict regulations made further explorations prohibitively difficult.
            Looking out the bridge windows at the beautiful green landscape below them, Maya asked Ev, “Have you ever been here before?”
            “Once,” he replied. “My class went on a field trip here in junior high.
            Daryn said, “Ragnarok, are you sure this person is down there?”
            “Yes, Crewman Anders.”
            Daryn gave Ev an accusing look. “‘Crewman’?”
            Ev shrugged. “I didn’t know what else to call you.”
            “Anyway,” Daryn said, returning his attention to the ship’s AI. “Do you have visuals on this person?”
            “Negative. They seem to have the ability to mask their energy signature. That may explain why I lost them earlier. However, I am still detecting their presence somewhere in the park below. We are now above their last known location.”
            “All right,” Ev said. “Let’s go down and have a look.”

* * *

They wasted little time setting foot down in the park. The location they now found themselves in was a green valley flanked by mountain ridges. A large mountain stream ran to their right and continued on ahead to the base of nearby mountain, and fur trees could be seen all around.
            “It’s beautiful,” Maya said.
            “It sure is,” CiCi added.
            “We didn’t come here to sightsee,” Daryn reminded them.
            “Nothing wrong with taking in the magnificent view,” Jaysin argued.
            “Jaysin’s right,” Ev said. “Besides, we won’t find this person if we don’t look. And if we happen to see some breathtaking sights along the way, so be it.” He didn’t want to gush over the scenery like Maya and CiCi, but neither could he deny its beauty.
            “Whatever. Let’s just get this over with.”
            “Ah,” Jaysin said playfully. “Could it be you don’t like this place?”
            “We have far more beautiful sites in the Tru Republic,” Daryn asserted.
            Ev stopped. This was an opportunity too good to pass up. “I think you’re jealous of our national parks.”
            Daryn’s nostrils flared. “That’s ridiculous. You think your so-called parks are so special, when they’re far from it.”
            “You’re jealous,” Ev insisted, a smirk playing across his face.
            Daryn rolled his eyes. “Can we just get on with this?”

* * *

They traveled through the V-shaped valley and came to the base of a small mountain. Here they found a large hole in the ground leading to a subterranean cavern. Thrill seekers often parachuted into such places, and Ev had to wonder if their mystery person had been doing that.
            They stared into the gaping maw. “You think this person’s down there?” Maya said.
            “Only one way to find out,” Ev replied. He then yelled down, “Hello? Is anybody down there?”
            “Down there, down there, down there,” his voice echoed.
            After several moments of silence, Ev said, “I don’t think—” His words were suddenly cut off as he sensed something coming at them. Fast. “Get down!” He tackled Maya to the ground, just barely saving her from a flying silver blur. The object soared over their heads and came to rest on the other side of the hole.
            Ev stared at it, and realized he’d seen it before.


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