Thus begins the fourth and final act of Book 1.
New? Start here!
Unknown Dusk Moon
Please be alright.
Please don’t die.
Shindow powered up the Ferrum in a rush, the thrum of the engines were a symphony to her. She ran the borrow protocol and began the process of digging itself out, the vessel raised itself from the ashes. Shindow summoned the thirty-two gnats, preparing up a medical triage center. Gideon said they were down, so she was expecting the worst. Flashes of orange light surrounded the bridge, filling it with medical equipment. Time was of the essence.
Shindow was also processing on how best to help them. If the threat was still present, she would need to figure out a way to defend them. She was also processing how to tell Gideon of a new update. After the attack by the Dusk satellite, she experienced something. She wanted to tell him, but after his storm of words, she held back and kept her secret hidden. She would need to go through the rest of Gideon’s dreams and visions.
The Ferrum raced across the ash-dust, the blade of the Ferrum just barely touching the surface, causing a blossoming trail of ash-dust. She went as fast as she dared in the hopes of not alerting the other Rumblers or Dusk satellites. If they scanned this area now, it would be lit up on sensors. She avoided all of the massive pitfalls, no telling what were in those.
Please be OK.
If something happened to Gideon or Baxter, she wouldn’t know what to do. Failing her friends was the last thing on her processes. The shrine peeked in the distance, inside a bluff of ash-dust. The Ferrum dropped down near the entrance, hugging it as much as possible, the bladed underhull sheathing into the dust. The bay door retracted in, revealing Shindow and thirty-two Gnats, two medical beds, and equipment in tow in a long convoy. She passed through the massive marble pillars to see Gideon in his riot power armor on the ground. Steak was down near a far wall. Pat was near Gideon, downed and inactive. There was another being, it appeared as an Empire of Dusk being with the long body and black robe, crumpled against a wall. And there in the center, a black hole the size of a person.
“Hurry, collect Excertius and get Gideon out of here!” Shindow ordered.
“Ganbatte!” The Gnats responded and began moving to Gideon to collect him. The sensor readouts described his left arm as broken in several places with muscle and tendon damage. The power armor suit was stored in pieces, leaving the twisted portion of armor around the arm for surgery. He was scooped into the bed and hovered out of the temple. The damage was severe enough that Gideon blacking out was expected.
“Gideon… Wait.” the being against the wall moaned out.
Shindow snapped to the sound, seeing the strange being speaking to her.
“Who are you? Where is Baxter? Are you the Empire of Dusk? Did you do this?” Shindow floated a safe distance before calling out, frowning at the being. She had turned to the side as she adjusted her glasses.
She appears wounded. Not taking any chances.
Shindow prepped her QSD to materialize turrets to quickly deal with her.
“Deborah. Inside that black hole. No and No.” Deborah responded with a wheeze.
She held back, the creature named Deborah’s answers confused her.
Her name was Deborah.
Baxter is inside the black… hole??
She’s not a part of the Empire of Dusk. Tall. Black robe. Liar?
And she said she didn’t do this. Nothing right with this.
“What? Where is Baxter?” Shindow asked with a hostile edge as she stamped in the air.
Deborah simply pointed towards the black hole.
“Baxter… No.” Shindow murmured with defeat.
She prepped the turrets, ready to crush this Deborah.
“What the hell did you do to him?” She shouted at Deborah, her ASCII face twisting in anger.
“Demon… It was a demon. Please help Gideon.”
She stopped at that. Deborah knew Gideon. The way she said it had an edge of familiarity. Shindow did a preliminary scan on the being, seeing her arm was shattered and her spine and rib suffered damage. The being was not capable of fighting, it appeared. She needed answers, so death by turrets was put on hold.
“Get her, too,” Shindow ordered tersely. The hover beds had a good design, they expanded or contracted based on body size. Steak, Pat, and all of the ruined equipment were stored in the QSD, orange pixelated lights dotted the room.
“Owatta!” The Gnats announced they were finished getting every bit of scrap they could.
They began hovering Deborah out. She turned to look at Shindow, which was strange as most of her face was covered.
“Baxter and the demon are fighting now. He might lose, freeing the demon to fight us again. We need to set traps in the area.”
“Demon? What is going on?”
“Please, we will not survive.” Deborah wheezed and went silent.
She had little understanding of what was going on but acted anyway.
Shindow took charge and deployed every turret mount she had, all eighty of them armed with pulse rifles were placed throughout the room pointed at the black hole. She set mine charges near the black hole as well, glad that it had no gravity. It was a deadzone for any type of scanning. It was as if it didn’t exist, similar to the Empire of Dusk’s Tesseract Catalyst cube.
As she finished the last mine, the black hole collapsed. A small dog was deposited
unceremoniously on the ground, landing on it’s rump to a forward roll, plopping on the ground. It scampered to its legs, surrounded by turrets and mines. The dog spotted Shindow, wagging his rump excitedly.
“Oh! Shindow it is you! Are you just OK?” Baxter asked with a chuff.
“What the hell is going on?” Shindow half asked in stifle angered, mixed with a bit of relief.
“I won!” Baxter said with a bark, he began hopping from his left paws to his right, making his strange chuffing laughter.
We don’t have time for this. Rumblers and Dusk satellites are everywhere!
“Come on, we’re getting on the Ferrum!” Shindow stated. She didn’t have time for silly games. She ordered the thirty-two Gnats to begin storing the turrets and mines. She used Gideon’s equip module to materialize a sealed suit for Baxter. It was best to keep everyone contained from the atmosphere of this dead moon. Pathogens could exist anywhere.
Baxter raced off to the Ferrum, making slow progress in the ash-dust.
There shouldn’t be any breathable oxygen on this moon… Stranger things have happened- like our flight!
“There was a demon and shooting Gideon got hurt and I won and fought and fought and fought and won again,” Baxter said in excitement, his words crammed together like sardines.
“Demons? I don’t understand. Demons like a monster, aliens or demon demons?”
“Demon demon monster monster.” Baxter stated with a bark. Shindow stared blankly at Baxter’s nonsense as they got on the Ferrum.
That explained nothing!
“Deb! I Won!” Baxter barked excitedly. He was covered in ash dust, which he fixed by shaking and tracking it everywhere. The Gnats quickly cleaned up the new mess.
Baxter freed himself from the constraining space suit storing it in blue pixelated light, opting for plain furry feet on the bridge floor.
Deb!? They know each other! What happened in that shrine??
Shindow caught on quickly that Baxter and Deborah were familiar with one another.
Was she an enemy?
Just what in the blue blazing suns was going on?
“Adonai be praised… We made it.” Deborah said before passing out.
Wait! I was going to question you… Wait! Adonai!?
Shindow turned to Baxter, anger still evident on her face.
The dog stopped, letting out a sad whine at her shouting.
She floated down, sitting side saddle on his nose, staring with furrowed brow at him.
“What happened? What did you do? Why is everyone hurt? I told you all to come right back to the Ferrum!”
“That is too many questions. What was the first?” Baxter replied with a sad chuff. His eyes darted around guiltily.
She closed her eyes, adjusting her glasses.
“Oh. Yes. We were tired and found a big green room. We had good food and sleep.”
Baxter stopped, licking his lips.
Don’t get distracted!
“And a strange lady found us. Her name if Deborah, the angle of… I don’t remember and call her Deb.”
Angle?? What’s an angle??
A type of alien?
“She is very nice and gave me scritches. Then bad guys came. They were scary and black.”
Baxter sniffed out, continuing his story.
“They were black and smokey. Deb said not to sniff it. So I did not. They were scary.” His words were tumbling out of him like falling fruit.
“We fought and I beat them. Gideon may have helped. Steak and Pat were good boys. Then there were many Debs. That is a lot of scritches and pats!” Baxter exclaimed.
“What are you talking about- you know what, continue.”
“We then fought a big bad guy and he hurt everyone. My bigger doggy thing broke.”
“I barked at him and ate his paper thingy. He tried to get Gideon so I got him first and we were in a room and I made him sign my paper thingy which he did and I named him and I won.” Baxter finished, his train accident of a sentence crashed together.
“And now everyone is here on the Ferrum?” Shindow concluded.
Shindow cooled down at that. It looked like the moon was not unoccupied and something attacked en masse. How Baxter beat whatever it was, demon or alien, by eating paper was beyond Shindow’s ability to comprehend the silly dog.
Regardless, they had won. What they won, she didn’t fully understand. What they didn’t know was the Elder demon was dormant for now as it fused with Baxter, an unnoticed black gem formed on the dog’s chest between his front paws.
Things were going to get better.
Except for the two-hundred and fifty Dusk satellites that now surrounded the Ferrum. And the missing Western Rumbler that deactivated it’s veiling, revealing that it was towering just above the group the whole time, horizontally, going from where the Ferrum had buried itself to far past the temple.
Apart from that, everything was great.