Princess of Mystic Earth: Awakened Truth
Princess of Mystic Earth: Awakened Truth
Boot Sequence Initiated.
Locating Tyson Spencer…Successfully located…Unavailable in immediate vicinity.
Priority One Protocol: Retrieve Tyson Spencer.
“Did you hear that?” Scarenth asked while staring at the foreign armor sitting limp in the corner of the room.
Vrett shrugged. “Hear what?”
“Oh nothing. I probably imagined it.”
“You always hear things that aren’t there.”
Scarenth scratched his furry side nervously. “I just don’t like being in the same room with that thing.”
“It’s inactive. The man who was inside is now in a prison cell beneath the palace. There’s nothing it can do.”
“How do you know? You don’t know anything about that armor. None of us do.”
“Because it’s obvious. When we pulled him out all its lights went off.”
The two stood there in silence for a moment. Secretly Vrett was just as afraid of the suit as Scarenth, but he couldn’t afford to show it. The young soldier was skittish enough as it was.
Another noise, only this time a whirring sound.
“Okay, now I know I heard something,” Scarenth said.
Vrett raised his thermal launcher. “Yeah, I heard it too.”
“Should we open fire?”
Hands and feet bound with rope, Tyson was at their mercy. He didn’t know what was going on exactly – only that his once friend was now threatening to kill him if he didn’t answer her questions to her satisfaction. It was every soldier’s worst nightmare.
“All right. Question number one. As I said earlier, answer it right, you get to live. Answer it wrong, you die. Don’t disappoint me, Tyson.”
“Yeah, yeah. I get it. What’s the question, Princess?”
Christy frowned. “Tell me about the armor you came in.”
“They didn’t tell you at the labs?”
She nodded at the single Drokarian guard who accompanied her. “Do it.”
He grabbed a club that was hanging from the wall and knocked Tyson’s shins out from under him. “You answer her question!”
Tyson painfully staggered his way back onto his feet. “It’s called the Achilles Combat Suit. It’s the replacement for the standard gear our soldiers wear. I don’t know how it works – only how to use it. Sheesh, Christy, it was your department that designed it.”
“I know that. All right, you passed question number one.”
“Good to know I please you, your highness.”
“Question two. What was your mission, and why did you come here?”
Tyson shrugged. “Actually I was sent to rescue you. We thought you had been captured…tortured or something.” He laughed nervously. “I actually died once in the process of trying to get here.”
“Sorry to hear that you’ll have to go through it again. You did good with the questions. Thank you for your cooperation.” Christy then looked at the guard. “Kill him.”
“What? You don’t believe me?”
“It’s the only way for me to send you back.”
“No. Give me my earpiece.”
“It was destroyed when we captured you.”
“Well then give me yours! Real or not, death hurts!”
There was a long pause. Christy stared at the floor for a moment before finally looking up at Tyson. “No.” She then hurried out of the cell.
“What? You bitch! Give me the damn earpiece!”
The guard put a thermal launcher to the side of Tyson’s face. “Hold still and this will be easier for both of us.”
Suddenly heavy footsteps could be heard down the hallway. Christy reemerged slowly, walking backwards. She seemed terrified, her movements stiff and cautious.
The Achilles Combat Suit stepped into the cell after her. Helen spoke through the helmet speakers. “Awaiting orders from Tyson Spencer.”
“Target this Drokarian,” Tyson said frantically.
Helen took a step closer and complied.
Tyson then looked at the guard, but continued to speak to the armor. “If he doesn’t drop his weapon on the ground in five seconds, open fire.”
The Drokarian lowered his thermal launcher and gently set it on the floor with a light clank.
“Now untie me, furball.”
The guard had no choice, so he complied reluctantly. As soon as he finished, Tyson turned and decked him in the jaw so hard that he sent the creature sprawling backwards. “That’s for hitting me with that club earlier!”
“Tyson!” Christy screamed nervously.
“Shut up!” He pointed a finger at her. “You shut up!”
Tyson grabbed the thermal launcher from the floor and left the cell with Helen. He took care to lock the bars in place behind him. “Open up, Helen.”
The Achilles Combat Suit opened just as it had before when he had been spawned in the swamp outside the village. Thirty seconds of vulnerability. Thirty seconds of time in which Tyson had no way to defend himself or fire back if anything went wrong. He smiled at the irony of the suit’s name.
Once inside the armor he reopened the cell. “You’re coming with me,” he said authoritatively to Christy.
“No, I can’t.”
“Yes you can…and you will.”
“No, you don’t understand. I really can’t.”
“Don’t make me do this the hard way. You’re coming with me whether you like it or not.” He paused. “I’d rather not have to kill you in order to complete my mission.”
Christy considered arguing that he would never do something like that to her – that they were friends. But it was too late now. After all, she had threatened to do the same thing to him. There was no reason for him not to return the favor if provoked. She walked over to him slowly and took his armored left hand in hers. “Look, Tyson. Give me a chance. I won’t let them hurt you…but you need to see something before you take me back. Please, that’s all I ask is that you look at something. After that if you still want me to come with you then so be it.”
“No. I’m sorry but you know I can’t do that.”
“Please, Tyson. Come on. Please?”
Tyson sighed loud enough for it to be heard through the suit’s speakers. “All right fine.” He bent low enough to be near eye-level with her and shook his free hand’s pointer finger in her face in an almost playful manner. “But no funny business, okay? I’m trusting you.”
She smiled. “You won’t regret it.”
Two more Drokarian guards ran into the cell. “There it is! Shoot it!”
“Hold your fire!” the guard from earlier yelled.
“But the armor got away from us! It completely ignored our fire, Halis.”
“Yeah, and we’re gonna die!” Scarenth whined.
Christy bent down and put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay. He’s a friend now.” She stood up and looked at the others. “As I’ve been saying all along, this war is nothing more than a big misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding?” Tyson protested. “It’s not real! Who gives a flying crap which ones of these furballs die? They’re nothing more than data in a machine!”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Christy said firmly.
“Oh so what? You now having moral issues with a virtual war in Mystic Earth?”
“Yes. And you’ve been lied to this entire time. We all have.”
Tyson shrugged irritably. “About what?”
“About this world.” She went over to the same guard Tyson had punched in the face earlier. “Meet Halis, the leading royal guard for this village.”
“Just what are you trying to prove, Christy?”
“I’m trying to prove to you the truth. Now, what is the one thing we learned in training that could never happen in a virtual world?”
“Uh, it has a limited memory. The only part of the world loaded into memory is this cell and everyone in it.”
“Ah, yes. And just how many ‘real’ people can the virtual worlds support at one time?”
“Exactly.” She turned to the guard. “Now Halis, I want you to show our new friend what you showed me. Trust me, if he’s on our side, they won’t stand a chance. He’s their best.”
Halis nodded and looked at Tyson. “It’s a full day’s ride by horse and I’m sure you’re plenty ready to get out of this prison. Besides, I think we got off to a bad start.”
“You got that right.”
“From soldier to soldier, you know we were both doing our jobs. Now let’s go.”
It was in the late evening twilight when Tyson and Halis stopped at a large hill. The sky was lit across the bottom of the clouds above the apparent valley beyond.
“Turn on your receiver,” Halis said.
Tyson listened as human voices came through his helmet. “Corporate Base Alpha to Jackson HQ…Go ahead Alpha…We’re ready for creation signal for more troops…Stand by.”
The two soldiers crept to the top of the hill on their stomachs and looked down. Stretched across the valley were human-constructed buildings, tanks, helicopters – all surrounding a unique structure in the center. It was shiny, a silverish color that reflected the lights from the base. It towered its way into the sky, aiming for the heavens. The sight was almost eerie, and it reminded Tyson of the Washington Monument.
“Do you see it?” Halis asked.
“The portal to your world.”
“Yes. Over there.” He pointed to a small sphere-shaped object at the far end of the base.
Tyson used his helmet’s visor to zoom in. “I see it.”
“It’s been open for over a year now. It’s how they send their transmissions here.”
“How do you know this?”
“You don’t really think we Drokarians are as primitive as we look, do you?”
“What am I supposed to think?”
Halis laughed. “That portal and the assembler in the center – the tall one – they were built by the hands of the Drokarian people many generations ago.”
“Then how come you’re living in a village with such simple technology?” Tyson whispered sharply.
“About six hundred years ago we were an advanced race, filled with ideas and inventions. We roamed the nearby stars, set foot on worlds we had never seen before. There are still portals on several of them, including yours.”
Tyson turned onto his back and sat up. “What happened?”
“Our God gave us all the stars and all the worlds except Earth. He told us to never go there because it was corrupt and would only bring us harm. Back in those days we were perfect. Not one of us had ever seen death.”
“But you put a portal on Earth anyway, didn’t you…”
“We did. A few scientists in our ranks sent an unmanned ship to Earth to establish an alternate end. The passion to explore filled our hearts and we connected, sending a few explorers through. There were no soldiers or weapons at the time. We were peaceful, entertained by a perfect existence.”
“So what happened when you arrived at Earth? Six-hundred years ago we were in the Dark Ages.”
“We saw war between two peoples. One slaughtering the other mercilessly for his land. There was sickness and death. Evil roamed unchecked. The explorers were so horrified that they fled back through the portal.” He sat down beside Tyson. “But it was too late. They were infected. Soon things began to fall apart everywhere. Most of our population died due to sicknesses that we had no idea how to cure. Even today our medicine is insufficient.”
“Maybe my people could help,” Tyson said.
“No, they’re trying to kill us. They won’t help.”
“I guess that depends on who you talk to.”
“The Princess did mention some sort of government. The American Alliance I believe she called it.”
“Yes, they might help you. We’ve been dealing with sickness for thousands of years.”
Halis nodded. “Be that as it may, there’s much more at stake here than just that.”
“What else is there?”
“Our technology used to be the most advanced of all the races in our cluster. This sickness didn’t just affect our bodies, but also our souls. Even this very planet began to act as if it were dying. When our people began to die out from disease, hatred spread. We split into several factions – each using Drokarian technology to create weapons of destruction. Finally God stopped us, lest we destroy ourselves.”
“What did he do?”
Halis sighed. “Out of sorrow he told us that he planned to destroy our technology. That one day he would save us – just the same as he would save Earth.” He rested his face on his palm. “One night a nearby star went nova. We’re not sure what went wrong – this sort of thing has happened plenty of times throughout the course of our history – but our ships began to fall from the sky or disappear out into space. Soon there was none left. It wasn’t long after that when our technology here on Drokaria began to fail. In just a few short weeks we found ourselves back in the Stone Age.
Tyson shifted uneasily. “I’m not sure I understand. What exactly is at stake here?”
“Look at me, Tyson. Look me in the eye.” When Tyson appeared to be looking at him from behind the visor, he continued. “Whatever effect that star had on our civilization is now gone. The technology – weapons, spacecraft, assembly, power generation – whatever. It’s all reactivated.” He pointed a hairy finger towards the human base. “Those men are reclaiming it! They will kill us all! Your armor, though designed by human minds, was created with Drokarian technology. Unless we act now…” He couldn’t finish.
Tyson looked at him understandingly. “I believe this is real, Halis. What I’ve seen is impossible in the simulators.”
“So what now? I can’t stop you from returning to them.”
“You’re right. But I can’t stand by and let them destroy your people.” He put his hand on the Drokarian’s shoulder. “Halis, today you have a new ally. And I won’t stop fighting until I see an end to this.”
“I would be honored to have a soldier like you fighting by my side.”
“The honor is mine.”
Suddenly they heard the sound of gunfire and thermal launchers off in the woods. Halis looked at Tyson. “We’ve got trouble.”
“Let’s go then! Maybe I can convince them that this isn’t just a simulation! Get on your horse and come on!”
Halis mounted up and Tyson ordered Helen to switch to night vision and increase his neural interface speed.
“I’ll reason with the Drokarian soldiers if you go to the humans!” Halis yelled.
“All right sounds good! Good luck!”
“May luck be yours as well, new friend!”
It took them less than two minutes to reach the skirmish. There were two sides, both in a stalemate of cat and mouse fire. Halis raced toward the Drokarians, while Tyson stopped in the middle of the crossfire. “Hold your fire!” he yelled. Everything stopped abruptly. “Halis, are we clear?”
“Clear over here. They won’t fire.”
“All right guys, you can come out. These Drokarians are friendlies.”
Four soldiers arose from their cover. They were wearing the original uniform that Tyson wore in the beginning of his mission. “Who are you?” one of them asked.
“I’m Tyson Spencer of Jackson Laboratories Weapons Testing and Research Division. I have information that is urgent.” He walked to the men. “Hey, guys. There’s a big misunderstanding here. This world? Yeah…it’s real. Not fake. Real. Get what I’m saying?”
“Yeah we already know that, asshole. Now what do you want?”
“What do you mean you already know that?” He motioned his hands outward in a shrug-like motion. “Everyone was told this was a simulator.”
One of them laughed. “Man, we’re in the Andromeda Galaxy, and the ancient tech here is gonna make us rich. So what’s your problem, square?”
Tyson grabbed the man by his vest and lifted him off the ground. “My problem, pal, is that you’re committing genocide just because there’s nobody out here who can stop you.”
One of the others put the barrel of his rifle into Tyson’s armored side. “Back off, bud. I’ll poke a hole in your guts if ya don’t.”
Tyson set the man down and stepped away. He whispered to Helen, “Change my alliance status. I am now allied to all Drokarian forces. I want you to set all Jackson Laboratory personnel to enemy. Confirm?”
“That is confirmed, Tyson.”
“Thank you.” He then spoke through his helmet again. “Look, men, why don’t you save me the trouble of having to kill you by dropping your weapons and returning to your base. It’d make all our lives easier. Seriously.”
“Don’t threaten me, boy. Just cause you’ve got on that fancy armor doesn’t mean we can’t gun you down. It can’t stop bullets forever.”
Tyson paused thoughtfully. “Maybe.”
Just then one of the Drokarians came out from cover. “I can prove that we mean no harm, humans! Don’t kill us!”
“Helen, activate military controls,” Tyson said within the suit’s helmet.
“Military controls activated. Selecting targets.” Four pinging sounds were heard as the human soldiers were highlighted.
One of the men raised his weapon. “Look! He’s out of cover!” He fired a single shot at the creature – what he thought was sufficient to kill him. But with Tyson’s neural interface increased, he was able to barely graze the bullet with his arm, deflecting it into the nearby trees.
“All right. You’re compromising our mission, Spencer!” The leading officer said. “Men! Open fire!”
Tyson dodged the flying projectiles. He selected the autocannon and opened fire, all the while in a head-over-heel roll. Two of the soldiers were mowed down instantly. Tyson then flicked both wrists, ejecting the blades from their compartments. With that he ran to the remaining men before they could make sense of what was going on and opened the tops of their chests, just below the collar bone, severing their aortas.
Halis and the other two Drokarians ran over to him. “Are you okay?”
“Come on,” Tyson said. “That made a lot of noise, so I think it would be in our best interest to get out of here now.”
With the adrenaline of war flowing through their veins, all four creatures made their way back to the village before sunrise. When they arrived, Tyson had trouble sleeping. “I can’t believe they could be so greedy!” he said to Halis and Christy. “If only I had known before! I would have never killed a Drokarian! I was lied to! I thought this was all fake!”
Halis tried to calm him. “The casualties of war are what they are. You didn’t know. Yes, you caused us a great loss, but perhaps now your friendship will bring us many more victories.”
2 days later…
“So where are we going?” Tyson asked. He was no longer in the Achilles Combat Suit, but rather riding bareback on a horse side by side with Halis and Christy, plus a few Drokarian civilians following not too far behind them. They had been travelling a trail that led in the opposite direction from the enemy forces. Rather than the swamplands from before, they were in a heavy evergreen forest in the foothills of a small mountain range. The air was clear and comfortable – and Tyson liked that. It made him feel almost nostalgic because of the trips out west his parents had taken him on as a young boy.
Halis turned to face him. “Remember that tall building in the center of the human base? The assembler?”
“Yeah I remember.”
“Christy, explain to him how it works. You’re better at this than I am.”
She didn’t bother to turn around, but continued to look straight ahead as she talked. “Most of the worlds you experienced were in fact virtual. But they were all training for this one. This device harnesses the energy of nearby stars and can create almost anything – say you for example.”
“It created me?”
“In a way, yes. See, there is something unexplainable to science, and that is the human soul. It is believed that your body has some sort of ‘trace’ about itself that your soul identifies with. When Jackson Laboratories discovered this world, they found that when they sent a data packet describing your DNA into the assembler structure, it created a full-sized clone. Also, if they temporarily killed your original body with those so-called ‘earpieces,’ your soul travelled to the clone and occupied it. Of course, timing had to be perfect down to the millisecond for this to work, but…you get it, right?”
“Yeah I think so.” Tyson scratched his head. “So what happens if my original body dies?”
“Just that. But as far as you’re concerned, nothing because you’re still here in this body. However if it’s still alive and you die here, your soul reverts back to the original.”
“So in a way I really have lived to tell the tale of what death is like.”
She looked at him and smiled. “I suppose so.”
There was a long silence before Tyson said anything. “Well that explains why all my scars are gone and I feel so much better.”
“Yes. The lifetime of wear and tear you experienced in your original body doesn’t apply here. You get a clean slate.”
“Whoa.” He laughed. “Cool.”
“There it is,” Halis interrupted. “We’re here.”
Sure enough, standing tall above the trees was another assembler. Tyson was surprised that he hadn’t noticed it before when they were approaching it.
Christy stopped her horse and climbed off. “Come on. Let’s see if this works.”
“What are we doing?”
“I want an Achilles Combat Suit like yours.”
“Oh. Okay cool, I guess.”
The group stood in front of the structure. From a distance Tyson had thought it looked big, but up close it was enormous. The size had to be twice that of the tallest sky-scraper on Earth.
“Here goes nothin’,” Christy said. She pulled out a PDA and pressed a few buttons. “It should take it a second for the wireless to connect. No big deal…these things always figure out the signal pretty fast.”
She was right. A bright light dropped down from the top of the assembler and landed on the ground. When it vanished, the prize was just as predicted.
“Ladies and gentlemen, looks like we’ve found a new way to fight back. We’ll return to the village and design more weapons to build later.”
“We might be able to view the old archives now that everything is working again. With that it might be possible to construct starships and all the old weapons of war our people used six-hundred years ago,” Halis added.
“Good idea. See what you can do. Meanwhile I’ll set up a team to get started.” Christy then turned to Tyson. “I want you to get your suit and go with Halis. He’s one of the few who is knowledgeable of how the ancient technology works, so naturally he needs protection.”
“All right then. Let’s get started heading back right away.”
To be continued…