Chapter 20- Interrogation
12,000 BC, Cave
And they will hail him as Lathain, the one of
Lavos Born. For the coming of the Blue Haired man has been foretold as the
completion of the prophesy…
The voice echoed in Sarah's head a few times. The air was black and there was no one to be seen and nothing to be heard expect this strange voice that was vaguely familiar.
"What does it mean?" she asked. Her own voiced echoed momentarily before dying out. Briefly, the voice laughed again before dying out. Suddenly, her surroundings erupted into fire and the world turned into a blazing inferno. The voice laughed again. Sarah tried to scream, but no sound came out. Only then did she wake up…
Sarah awoke quickly, checking her surroundings. She looked to see who might have been speaking to her, but no one was there. Glancing around what was definitely a cave, she began to reconstruct the events leading up to this. She certainly remembered the gate from Magus's castle…is that what brought her here?
That had to be it. But, if that was the answer, where was the gate? Sure enough, after looking around the cave, there wasn't a gate in sight. Come to think of it, something else was missing too…
"Jack!" she screamed, noticing that her blue-haired friend was no where to be found. Jumping to her feet, she ran to the entrance of the cave and felt the blast of snow and wind that hit her face. Everything around her was white, limiting her vision to merely a few feet in front of her face.
"Where is he?" she asked her self. Trudging out into the storm, she started calling his name, but there was no answer. Walking in slowly growing circles, she combed the area around the cave for half an hour but couldn't find him. Starting to worry, Sarah finally thought of an old trick that she had learned a long time ago to use Force Tech to create an heat-source overlay of her vision. Taking a while to force the energy into the right form, it finally clicked and the world around her shifted into a muddle of blues and purples.
It took longer than she had expected to find what might have easily been missed: a faint heat signal coming from over the far dune. Sarah broke into a run towards the signal, keeping the heat sensitive vision active. Climbing over the snow dune, she found Jack's nearly nude body sprawled across the snow.
"Oh God!" she exclaimed, running up to him and checking for a pulse. It was faint, but his heart beat was there. His body looked slightly burned, and a small shard of rock was sticking out of his left leg. Not wasting time, she started to lift him up, but as she hoisted the limp body over her shoulders, she noticed a faint glimmer of red off in the distance. Placing Jack's body down and checking what caused the glimmer, she found the Red TAG lying in the snow.
A battle, she mused. That would explain it…but with who? Moving back to Jack, she lifted him over her shoulders and started to carry him back to where she thought the cave was. Luckily for the two of them, her send of direction prevailed and they took shelter in the cave. Laying Jack against the wall, Sarah began to think about what to do next.
"Oh, why do I listen to you Jack…" she sighed, shifting her train of thought to how to get that shard out of Jack's leg. Figuring that she probably couldn't take it out with just magic, she started going through what supplies they had, looking for some sort of medical device. Realizing then how short they were on equipment, she sighed again, noting the slumping figure in the corner begin to stir…
600 AD, Truce Village
"Where and when!?" Aragorn demanded for yet another time. The Mystic still remained silent. His face was badly bruised from the number of blows Aragorn had already landed in the interrogation, but the creature wouldn't speak.
"Is this really necessary?" Tristan asked. Aragorn sighed.
"Unfortunately, yes, it is." He withdrew from his place of questioning for a moment. "If there is an assassination planned, I have to find out. I can't... I can't let it happen again."
"Let what happen again?" Rayith asked.
Aragorn paused dramatically before answering. "I don't want to go into it," Aragorn said grimly "But let's just say I can't fail to protect my Lord again."
"Touchy subject?" Tristan asked.
"To an extent, yes." Aragorn rolled his neck and retook his place in front of the Mystic. "Now look," he pleaded with the blue creature. "I don't want to do this, and I know you don't want this to happen. I am telling you, though, that I won't stop until you talk. Hitting you isn't the only method of torture there is, you know?"
To everyone's slight surprise, the Mystic spoke. "And how much more barbaric could you insolent humans get?!" spat the Mystic, ending his prolonged silence. "I'll die before I talk!" Aragorn sighed deeply.
"Well then, this just got more serious..." he said casually. He walked to the side wall an picked up his sword from it's resting place. Walking back over to the Mystic, he spun the giant sword like it was nothing.
"Now, I'm going to start from your feet an move up. The idea is that I'll go one toe at a time. Then comes the rest of your feet. Then your knees." He paused for dramatic effect. "I'll leave it up to you to decide where we go from there. Now..." Aragorn lifted the sword over his head. "When and where?!" he demanded. The Mystic was silent. Aragorn shook his head softly before leveling the blade to the floor at the Mystic's foot. Unfortunately for the Mystic, the mammoth blade proved too cumbersome to sever a single toe, even for Aragorn. With a cracking noise, the Mystic's right foot became separated from his ankle. The Mystic let out a cry of pain as Tristan turned his head in disgust.
"Well, scratch the toes, I guess..." Aragorn said, staring at the growing pool of blood coming from the stump of the Mystic's leg. "Now, where and when?" he said, a little more calmly. The Mystic gritted his teeth, but didn't say anything. Aragorn mumbled something under his breath, raised his blade, and severed the creature's other foot off. The same cracking noise was heard, followed by a similar scream from the Mystic.
"Aragorn..." Rayith pleaded, but to no avail. The Knight showed no sign of giving up.
"I have to find out," he said. "I can't let this happen." The Mystic was now almost whimpering, but still refused to give in.
"You're knees go next," Aragorn said menacingly. "There's still a chance that you can walk out of here if you just talk!" he shouted. The Mystic cringed, but didn't speak. His knees reached over the edge of the chair, so worries about ruining the chair weren't going to save him.
"Where and when?" Aragorn asked, very slowly and very calmly. The Mystic stopped whimpering, but didn't speak. "Fine," Aragorn said grimly. He raised the blade over his head once again, but as he began his downwards stroke, the Mystic finally spoke.
"Stop!" he pleaded. Caught off guard, Aragorn barely managed to stop the blade in mid flight, drawing back to it's resting place on his shoulder.
"Well?" Aragorn asked. The Mystic was panting heavily.
"5:00 O'clock," the Mystic said, still panting. "At the ceremony declaring the end of the war..." He hung his head in shame, knowing that he had failed his master.
"Tactical reason?" Aragorn asked, satisfied that he got the information he needed.
The Mystic paused briefly before speaking. "Let's just say that it's gonna be one hell of a bad day for you fucking humans!" the Mystic spat, grinning sadistically. Aragorn raised his hand to strike the creature, but Rayith intervened.
"Aragorn, we don't have a lot of time," she said. "Forget about him."
Aragorn grunted, lifting the chair up with his free hand and carting the bound Mystic to the window on the far side of the room. "All right, stubby," he said, opening the shudders. "Get the hell out of here and don't let me see you again!" Without another word, he tossed the wounded Mystic down three stories onto the street below. A loud noise soon followed as the chair shattered on the ground below.
"Let's go," Aragorn said coldly. "We don't have much time..."
12,000 BC, in the Cave
"How long was I out?" Jack asked Sarah, still rubbing his head lightly. Sarah was still fiddling with the limited equipment that they had with them.
"About ten minutes after I found you," she mumbled. "You gave me a scare."
"Well, I found you nearly naked in the frozen wastes out there," she said, lifting up the device that she needed. It was a thin, black thing with some buttons on one side. "I figured you might have hypothermia or something."
"I feel fine," Jack mumbled examining himself. "Aside from the cold and that sharp pain in my leg, or course."
"I'm working on it," she said, taking the tool she was holding and sitting down in front of him. "Now don't move..." she bit her bottom lip as she brought the device to the metal shard protruding from Jack's left leg. "...This might pinch a little..." she hit a small button on the device and three prongs extended down from the tube.
The prongs grasped on to the piece of stone and secreted a clear liquid around the area of the wound. Jack could feel the topical anesthetic slightly numbing his skin. Shortly after, the prongs pulled back and brought the stone out, leaving an open wound which blood quickly started to seep out of. Jack cringed, but other than that, he was silent.
"Okay," Sarah said. "Do it now."
Jack pointed at his cut and the blood started to dissolve, making the wound clear to see. Not liking the sight of Jack's exposed leg muscles, Sarah held her hand to the wound and wave patterns appeared on the surface of Jack's skin. Soon, the wound slowly closed itself up and the skin mended it together. When it was complete, Jack rubbed the area and felt no pain.
"Thanks," he said, still rubbing it. "That's certainly a handy trick."
"I know," Sarah said. "I'm still not that good at it yet. It shouldn't take two of us and med-rod to fix a wound like that."
"I'm still grateful," he said. Sarah smiled and put the med-rod back in the small pile of what supplies they had. She walked back to Jack and sat down next to him.
"So now what?" he asked her.
"You're asking me?" she asked with a small laugh. "Isn't it your place to come up with the plans?" Jack sighed.
"Well," he said, "let's look at our situation: we're stranded in an unfamiliar time with no time portal to go back through. Also, it's freezing cold out and we have limited clothes and equipment." He paused in thought. "I'd say we're in trouble."
"Well when you put it that way..." she looked at him and couldn't help but grin. "You must be freezing," she said worriedly. "Here, take this..." She unzipped her vest and gave it to him. "It's not much but it'll help..." He accepted it and put it on. True to what she had said, it wasn't much but it helped his spirits if anything.
"Thanks," he said, smiling back. "I think we're even again too," he said.
"The life-saving count," he grinned. "Thanks for pulling me out of the snow." Sarah blushed.
"It was nothing," she said, still blushing. There was a long pause. Sarah decided to break it with a serious question. "What happened to the gate that brought us here?" she asked.
Jack thought about it for a little bit before coming up with what could only be a guess. "I think the gate at the castle was created by Lavoid energy. With the huge flux, it was kind of unstable. I think it probably collapsed on itself shortly after it closed."
"So how do we get back?" she asked.
"Well," Jack said. "It would stand to reason that if another high energy flux occurred somewhere in this place in time, it might create another gate here. I'm starting to wish Tristan was here. He would know." Sarah nodded.
"So we wait until another massive energy flux occurs somewhere else in time?" Sarah asked. Jack nodded. "That doesn't seem like a very economically sound plan. What era are we in anyway?"
"Judging by the never ending storm outside and what Magus said, I'd say 12,000 BC. We're somewhere in Ice Age."
"Wasn't there some civilization back in the Ice Age?" Sarah asked. "I mean, I remember something like that back in school..."
Jack instantly sat up in a moment of epiphany, barely mouthing the word: "Zeal..."
"Huh?" she asked, not hearing what he said.
"Zeal!" he announced. "The Kingdom of Zeal supposedly existed around this time. I was studying it before we left home!"
"Isn't that the Kingdom in the stories about 'the Flying Island' and all of that other nonsense?"
"Yeah, that's it," Jack said. "I don't know about the whole flying island business, but it was supposed to be somewhat of a Golden Age, shortly before it was supposedly wiped out by a tidal wave which was accompanied with a massive tectonic plate movement and the end of the Ice Age."
"So you think we should look for it?"
"I don't see any better ideas, do you?" Jack said.
"No, I guess not," Sarah said. "But it's getting late, we should probably remain here the night. The last thing we need is to travel in blinding snow AND darkness."
"Good call," Jack said. "I'll try to get a fire going. In the mean time, give me a run down of what equipment we have."
Jack stood up and walked around the cave, looking for a spot that would be good for a fire. He decided the put it out of the direct line from the entrance to avoid as much wind as possible, pointing at the ground, a small flame ignited. It grew larger and warmer, but never touched the earth. It was almost hovering about three inches off of the floor.
"All we have left," Sarah began, "are what we were carrying in our vests and pants. Since your vest and half of your pants are gone, we have less than that."
"And food?" Jack asked.
"Minimal rations," she said. "Two days, max."
"No extra clothes, by chance?"
Sarah smiled. "No, it looks like you'll be cold."
"We have one med-rod, a few transmitters and minor communications equipment, our TAGs, our swords, a temporal tracking device from SSAF and the Battle Suit Teleport Controls. We also have some other combat gear and a few gizmos which have no idea as to their use, but nothing that that would prove much of a help."
"Okay," Jack said. "That should be fine. If there's anything to find, we'll find it before we use up our supplies anyway."
"We're gonna make it just fine," Sarah said. "I know it. We're gonna be okay."
"Yeah," Jack said, sitting down near the fire. "We are."
Sarah sat down next to him and they both put their hands up to the flame to be warmed. The fire was holding up very well, probably due to it's magical properties, but wind from outside was still cold. The cave was big enough so they didn't feel it's full force, so it could have been worse.
Jack reached into his vest and produced two energy bars, handing one to Sarah and keeping one to himself. They opened their rations and ate in silence. They ate slowly, trying to make the limited food last as long as possible. Jack also summoned up a little water magic to create drinking water which was surprisingly good. Having satisfied their hunger for a short period, the sat in silence, both thinking about this "Kingdom of Zeal" on which their survival rested.
After half an hour, Jack decided that the silence was too awkward for his tastes. "How did you find me?" Jack asked, breaking the silence.
"Hmm?" Sarah asked. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, my life signs were probably dwindling and you still managed to find me an a blizzard. How did you do it?"
"Thermal scanning vision overlay," she said with a smirk. "Remember the time you told Sean that it would never be of any use? I bet you'll take that back now."
Jack forced a laugh. "Yeah, I did tell him that is was useless, with all the equipment we have that can do the same thing for us." There was a brief silence before Jack spoke again. "You think Sean would know what to do? I mean, do you think he would do better than me?"
"I think you're doing the best you can, and I don't think even Sean could have done better," she said, smiling. "I still miss him though..."
"Me too," Jack said with a sigh. "Me too."
"That's why we can't die," Sarah said. "I'd never be able to face Sean if we didn't finish what he started out to do. We haven't even tried to fight Lavos yet," she exasperated. "We can't die BEFORE the big battle."
"We won't die," Jack said. "I promise."
"Promise, huh?" she said.
"Yeah," Jack said in an odd cross between casual and serious. "I promise that nothing will happen to you. I'll protect you. That was part of Sean's dying wish. I swear I'll protect you."
Is it just for Sean? Sarah thought to herself. Why does he make an excuse like that?
"We should get some sleep," he said, shifting to a laying down position. Sarah did likewise. "Are you cold?" Jack asked, changing the topic to something less uncomfortable than his growing love for Sarah as being a reason for protecting her.
"A little," she said.
"Here, come closer," Jack said, wrapping his arm around her, somewhat shocked at his own forwardness. She rolled to him, happy to keep a little warmer. "Stay close and we'll be warm," he said, pulling her close, both of them trying to find some heat from the other's body.
"You scared me Jack," she said quietly. "I thought I might lose you again. Don't do that to me."
Again? Jack thought to himself. What does she mean, again? "It's gonna be okay," Jack said softly, rubbing her back gently. "It's all gonna be fine."
"Just don't go doing anything stupid," she said. "I…I don't know what I would do without you…"
"Okay," he said, pulling her tighter. "I'll stay with you no matter what."
"Promise?" Sarah asked.
"Promise," Jack answered.
Then, feeling a lot safer than she had in a while, Sarah smiled.
The Next Morning
"Got anything?!" Jack screamed over the communications link to Sarah who was flying about 300 ft to the right of him. They had been flying across the landscape for fifteen minutes now with no results. Luckily, the never ending snow storm had abated somewhat in intensity this morning. They were still hard-pressed to see the sun through the thick clouds, however.
Even the snow had lessened, the constant barrage of wind and snow in the travelers' eyes made it difficult to see much on the ground below, even when flying at a low Ray Wind altitude. To compensate for their lack of view, they had tried various vision 'overlays' similar to the one Sarah had used to find Jack. The only downfall of this is that their flying speed was diminished by the increased Force Tech that had to be applied to keep the overlays active.
"Nothing!" Sarah yelled back. "It's like all there is snow. Just one endless plain of white."
"Same. I can't get any reading. If there is a civilization here, then they sure do a good job of covering it up."
"Can you see about the clouds?" Sarah asked.
"Negative," Jack responded. "Cloud cover is too thick to see the sky. It just adds to the white, making everything more…" he paused, cut short by a red spot on his overlay. "Wait a minute," he said. "I'm getting a reading on energy usage about three miles to the north by northwest."
"Any clue what is it?" Sarah asked.
"We'll find out soon enough…" Jack mumbled, banking off to a new heading. Sarah soon followed and they picked up speed. They flew towards what looked to be giving off a good amount of energy, eventually flying over a whitish dome shaped building with a circular device on the roof.
"What is it?" Sarah asked.
"I dunno," Jack said. "But I think it deserves a look." Slowly, they descended to what appeared to be an entrance to the building. Touching down gently, they snapped off their Force Tech overlays and transferred energy to powering up for whatever might be on the inside of it. As they walked up to what looked like the entrance, a set of double doors made a hissing sound as they opened automatically.
"Movement sensitive doors…" Jack observed. "Just like back home." The two of them walked through the entrance as the doors closed behind them. They found themselves in a small room with similar doors on the far wall. Walking up to those, the new doors hissed open automatically just as the first set had.
"Weird," Sarah commented.
They walked into the new room which was much larger, obviously taking up most of the building. It's walls were lavishly decorated with unfamiliar designs, but the room was empty save for a platform in the middle. There were a few steps leading up to the top of the platform which was covered in a surface with more designs etched into it They appeared to be glowing.
"So, what do we do?" Jack asked, really suspecting an answer. Not knowing what to expect, he gave the room another passive look, analyzing the designs on the walls.
"Wait a minute…" Sarah said, gazing at the walls in a similar manner. "I think I've seen these symbols before somewhere…"
"What do you mean?" Jack asked, looking at the decorations and trying to recognize any of them. It wasn't for a few moments however that the unfamiliar designs became suddenly familiar. The sudden realization hit Jack hard as he reached slowly for the chain around his neck. Lifting the emblem on the chain very slowly to his face he confirmed his thought.
"Is it?" Sarah asked, both of them knowing what was true. Jack nodded very slowly, raising the symbol on his necklace up to the wall. The two were identical in every curve and angle, echoing each feature of the other perfectly.
"But why?" Sarah asked.
"I…I don't know," Jack said in moment of complete bewilderment. "I don't know…"
."That symbol, I've seen it somewhere before!" -Marle
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