He was awake again, but he was ok, it was just a nightmare, yes bodies were falling but he was fine. Fine as can be as shadow descended upon him and hit him on his back, suddenly bouncing him around, and then a gush of liquid sprouted from the ground; a fountain of blood, things were moving fast and attacking him, he lost his breath.
Could he run? He heard screams, terrible screams. He grasped his throat, but felt a coarse black iron ball instead of his skin, the ball was getting hotter, he dropped his hands and a howl escaped his lungs, a howl bigger than himself, more blood around him, shadows were circling him and pulling him apart from all directions he felt immense pain and disgust but he could no longer speak, there was no air, everything was done for. Ηe had to run but his legs were buried within the sand and he could not pull them out; he was trapped. Nooooooooo.
He breathed in hard. He coughed extensively followed by droplets of blood flying on the glass of his protective helmet. His lungs damaged as they were refused to take in the air of this goddamned planet. His eyelids parted, returning him to the hellish present, he was somehow still hanging on. His eyesight was hazy and he tried to focus around, could it have been the blood loss? The compromised oxygen he was receiving or his severed arm? All of them could kill him, and they would, eventually.
Despite his situation his first clear choice was finding help, he looked around from his position attempting to locate the bodies of fallen members, till he finally found a sole hope, Pert- the teams doctor was his only choice, maybe he had something that could help him survive, it was a desperate thought nothing more. But first he had to move, and his legs weren listening to him, the blood loss wasn that much that would have made him weak already, and he felt calm so it wasn shock either, he could only assume that his legs were crippled during the attack . Despite that he gathered any ounce of strength he found within him and started crawling towards the bodies of his fallen teammates.
He grabbed the dirt in front of him burying his fingers inside and pulling hard he made small progress, a few centimeters each time, his only arm was taking all his weight and it was feeling numb when he eventually reached his target; the body of Pert. He let his head fall to the side and took a few breaths, followed by stabs of pain to his side and lungs. He grabbed the dead body by his space suit and turned him sideways pulling hard with his one arm, giving up after a few moments and the strong gravity of the planet pulled him back where he was.
He tried again after catching his breath. He managed to turn him upwards his glass eyes through the plastic helmet were turned towards the sealing of the –now open- cave. He put his hand on a side pocket of the doctors space suit, but his fingers only grabbed air. He fell on his back and glanced upwards to his inevitable doom. The blowing charges were set all around in strategic position, it seems the team of traitors had planned to blow this place to smithereens and bury it under the unforgiving sands of Nevul, along with their sins.
And now his calmness was rapidly turning into horror. His stomach churned at his hopeless situation, he couldn move nor ask for help, he raised his forearm and looked at his com, which was dead long before they entered this hellhole But even if it wasn who could he have possibly called or send a message to? All he had left was accepting it.
He sighed. He was relinquishing control, for the first time ever he was prepared to let go. No, he was forced to prepare. As a soldier you refuse to give up, you never relinquish control, only the ones with the zest to live pull through. But now he knew there was nothing to hang on to; No fire nor life-force to push him forward. His resting place would be a **ed up planet, among the intestines and blood of his friends, his brothers.
He raised his hand to clear his sight pulling aside the capsized helmet of his space suit; after all it was no help, his suit was already compromised. His eyes were playing tricks to him, he was seeing a gust of mist inside the middle of the cave across from him, and he tried to unseen it by rubbing both of his eyes with his fingers. He looked at the cave one more time.
Moments ago his thoughts were circling around the reason that they came here and what that place was; now he couldn give a rats ass. His pain was making him dizzy and annoyed but most importantly it was reaching a numbing point so his hand moved to his destroyed space suit, he reached for a compartment, pulling out a painkiller that was handed out to every soldier in the field. He tried to uncork it with his one remaining hand to no avail, but thankfully this was an easy container to break so he bit into the plastic trying to get a pill out.
Tera gritted through his teeth while biting the container. He heard the pop and some of the pills spilled out, but Tera paid it no mind while he raised the container above his head. A thought popped on his head, he had a choice here; he could shallow all these pills and he would fall into darkness, this time he would not wake up and his salvation would be at hand. He hesitated. Was this really how he wanted all of it to end? the throbbing pain was making it hard for him to think, but he was fighting it ever so slightly.
is there ever a right choice, to how you will die? an eerie voice whispered.
His hand fell to his side dropping the bottle and spilling the pills to the ground, his mouth stood agape; before him stood a transparent misty form, its eyes were bright yellowish. His form seemed incomplete with his 4 members missing their end part and waving around like a flag taken by the wind.
what… he said confused, but gathered himself quickly oh great I am hallucinating he quickly surmised.
one mans dream is another ones reality the specter commented with an amused expression.
Tera froze for a minute, but quickly accepted that a conversation with a ghost seemed better than spending his last few minutes of breathing alone, even if it was a hallucination.
If you are here to haunt me you are wasting your time ghost, I am pretty much dead anyway Tera managed to whisper through some painful breaths.
On the contrary I am here to provide some comfort, but maybe I am too late the specter said and hovered in front of Teras face observing him closely.
What do you want?
I am here to make an offer to you, one of assistance it said coldly.
Tera looked at the hovering ghost moving left to right and right to left like a pendulum. If you are here to take my soul, you are wasting your time. It doesn worth anything, just let me die in peace he said with the pain intensifying with each breath taken.
No peace for you
Through his pain, his frustration was only rising and this ghost was playing with his feeling, attempting to give him hope for some unknown reason. But it was for naught, he had given up a long time ago, before even his fatal injuries, this was just the result, he knew that he was exactly where he was supposed to be, dying in a hole along with his brothers. Hopelessness, despair and regret were the only thing that would join him to his grave.
oh time is lost… the ghost said calmly and looked at Tera. His vision was blurred, he barely heard the ghosts words, and he grasped the air putting his hand around his neck and tried to fight his choking. Was this it? Stop fighting it the ghost whispered in his ear.
He looked back and forth for an escape where was it? Teras eyes widened and he bended forward wincing in the extreme pain he was experiencing. His vision was rapidly deteriorating; everything was becoming blurrier by the second and the shock finally came and hit him hard; darkness gripped him, throwing him in a whirlwind movement, unable to stop it, he threw himself forward, and tried to stabilize, the dizziness of this experience ended as fast as it started.
Suddenly he was within the cavern, but he was standing; his legs were working, he looked confused at this left arm which was unexpectedly still attached to his body. He looked around, the space felt almost the same aside from the lack of color, and it reminded Tera of a clouded sky in midday. His body was different too; he was light as a feather, he could move as if he was sliding across the ground. Everything was still and he was the only one moving.
He walked slowly, deliberately, though it felt more like sliding rather than walking. The narrow caverns were to his sides, which he passed not too long ago, but this time there was no light. Yet he could see clearer than ever.
He tried to touch the walls of the cavern, but he felt nothing, as if his hands were grasping air, his eyes widened as he watched his hands pass through the wall, he stepped back in horror and turned his palm towards him. This experience was getting more and more maddening. His slow movement finally led him back to the cave of horror. With the blood filled scene of his comrades bodies lying all across the cave opening.
Everything was stagnant within the cave clearing, nothing moved and yet, the air was being permeated by the brutality that took place earlier. He looked up to see the stars shinning and one of the planets moons begun to shine in the distance, he instinctively moved upwards flying towards the clearing and stared into the distance. Till he suddenly heard voices from far away; it was like cries, painful and full of emotion.
This was the most haunting experience that he ever came across, he landed on the clearing and looked around for clues as to what was going on, he was aware of his surroundings and yet nothing else felt real, he thought of the possibility that this was simply a dream, but he quickly dismissed it realizing it was just wishful thinking. His senses tingled, first feeling a presence and then a voice soft and playful.
Good, it looks like you found your way back. Waves of energy run down his spine. He looked beside him only to see a puff of smoke barely forming a humane figure, it waved back and forth like a pendulum always attempting to stabilize itself.
Its you again, what kind of trickery is this, am I going mad?
It is possible, after all reality is subjective. Your own reality can be whatever you choose it to be, but that is the definition of madness. So I ask myself, will this human fall into madness or will he transcend it? That remains to be seen.
You are annoying, why can you simply let me be or die at least He said disappointed with a low voice. He stepped away from the spectral trying to find a spot to rest in again, despite feeling an unusual amount of vigor. He barely noticed a mess of a body next to him, letting a pitched noise as he found that this mess was his body lying where he last remembered, battered and bloody.
what the hell is going on here he whispered to himself.
You must have a lot of questions, but as I said earlier we are running out of time, so choose them wisely. The spirit said with a slow, deliberate voice.
Whatever was happening, Tera was a soldier, so he had to prioritize he took a deep breath, though that hardly did anything since there was no air. Alright, lets start over, am I dead?
Dead; you were dead before you even walked into the cave, you were dead before you even woke up the last time you went to sleep, you were dead the moment you decided to come here.
Tera looked at the Spectral speechless.
The spectral smiled or at least its form seemed to take the grimace of a smile ”your mortal body is still alive, but thats all the aliveness I can promise you ”
”I get it; its just a terrible nightmare Tera assumed fearful of the response.
depends, if you can handle the possibility that this is as real as the pain you were feeling moments ago The spectral swept through the space as if there was no resistance.
Teras eyes widened. For some reason he believed the apparition without a second thought. After all he felt no pain and yet his mind was the clearest its ever been, maybe there was a possibility that this was simply beyond his understanding.
Then what is this place and why am I here?
It is the space of passing, the place often called astral. It is the place that a soul passes through when the body dies The spectral said observing Tera closely Its natural to feel concerned, after all the reason you are here is quite simply that you have no time left on the physical side, your body is almost done for, in here time passes differently for the living. But you cannot escape death even in here the spectral said once again calmly. Tera hovered above the ground ever so slightly and yet he could not feel the air around him, rather a feeling or rather a reminder resembling that of humidity and cold overwhelmed him, and yet he felt nothing; neither cold nor warmth.
He continued on trying to make a sense of the situation who are you? Or rather what are you?Tera said after a small pause whilst looking back at the spectral taking a very good look at it for the first time, it was a form unrecognizable to Teras humane eyes, a form of a being that resembled an Orion, slim and tall, with eyes carved within a very delicate face, and what appeared to be thick hair grew along the peak of its oval head.
The spectrals face distorted, it appeared to Tera that it was amused by the question I am not sure I have an adequate answer to such a question. When I was incarnated on the physical world, I was called Sien. Now I am merely a fragment of what once was whole that is no more, I am but a simple reminder to the cosmos that Sien once existed. The spectral answered on an eerie tone.
Tera was even more confused than before asking the question, but he moved on Why are you here?
I am here for the exact opposite reason that you are, because I can be anywhere else
so you are trapped
trapped is a very narrow term, I am neither trapped nor free the spectral said slowly, as if carefully choosing every word. It looked distracted as if estimating a number. It moved left and right and sometimes up and down defying all the known laws of gravity.
you don even know why you are here, do you? Tera asked.
It seems I don
you are as confused as I am
No, because I know at least one reason as to why I am here
And that is?
Its because I had to be here, I was waiting for you after all.
Tera opened his mouth to answer but proceeded to ignore the spectrals comment and took a look around once again, to this misty, eerie place you say this place is for the dead ones, why was I brought here? Why are you trying to buy time?
It is a vibrational high facility, here time does not exist, you were about to die, so I brought you here to assist you, in a way at least. He answered, like it was so obvious.
for what reason? I will die anyway. He said almost saddened.
It is true the being known as Tera is soon to pass, and the identity of the being called Tera will, within a certain interpretation, disappear forever It said grimly looking at the seemingly lifeless, gravely injured body of Tera.
That wouldn be such a bad thing Tera whispered while hovering above his tortured body next to the spectral.
Despite that you still have a use yet
A use for whom? Tera asked surprised.
”For them ” the spectral said showing him the corpses of his squadron. ”but also for me ”.
Let me show you something The spectral started hovering towards the insides of the cave without looking back assuming Tera was following. Tera looked one last time hesitantly around him and began following along.
They were passing through the scene of the slaughter, which was near the center of the cave where the machine was situated just a little while back. Take a careful look around Tera. The spectral said whispering.
He curiously did, only to see long shadows clutching the walls of the cave which was crowded with them hanging above the weathered bodies of the soldiers laid to waste, dripping small dark liquid down to the ground. They looked disheveled and their eyes spoke of the horror in which their lifeline was cut, their mouths open, screaming with no sound coming out, it was surreal, he looked around only to see multiple of those faces, many of which he recognized, on the edges of the cave and many more scurrying away from the light . Tera tried to look away and closed his eyes, but it didn work, his sight was still working.
This won work in here. Your senses are always working. You can hide from this The spectral said coldly.
Why are you showing me this, what are these? Tera said tensely with a high pitch voice squeaking out of his mouth, whilst looking at the spectral expectedly.
The spectral simply looked back with its bright, uncharacteristically complicated eyes, and said nothing.
Tera slowly grasped the situation these are…
Yes, its what remains from your so called brothers in arms. What you see here is not a normal occurrence, their spirit is in agony and pain, confused and mostly desperate to find their way.
This can be Tera whispered intensely, we have to help them somehow
you can help what you can understand, besides you will soon join them, in this endless search for escape
Tera looked back at the spectral terrified. If he wasn in this place, would his stomach churn in a terrible manner? Would the smell of his vomit fill the air?
those men won be able to rest again soon, their death should only have been the beginning, but they do not think so. Can you feel them; their despair, their resentment for what was done to them, their craving for vengeance? The spectrals voice intensified, it was heavy and heavier still. The ghosts around the spectral mowed and shook in an eerily manner, grasping with shadowy limps and pitiful grimaces, seemingly trying to escape.
Tera glided backwards, he felt a heaviness crushing him to the ground; this was what true fear felt like.
The spectral continued mercilessly, with the same intensity coming within Teras sight disabling him from closing himself to his environment Of course you can hear them, you are a human, limited in his ways, you are a pitiful hope for these men and women, who will haunt this place for years to come, unable to leave, deprived of their own whims and wishes that were taken from them by force; Confused scattered minds. And you are only moments away before ending in the same state as them
Enough Tera stated with as much spirit as he could Why are you telling me this? Are you enjoying my helplessness and my suffering? Are you here to haunt me on my last moments of lucidity you damn ghost? What do you want from me? Tera rumbled on furiously at the unfairness of the situation. What was the point of it all? If his dear comrades and he will end suffering even more, why attempt to fight?
What I want is for you to tell me that this all you ever wished for, to die on a foreign planet, alone. For you to tell me that you don wish to see your brothers find the justice they deserve. You say it wouldn be a bad thing if you died. But death can lead you to salvation
I can do anything about it, its over, I am hurting all over, I am out of breath; I am dying. And all I can do is talk with a ghost on my last moments before I go to god knows where.
You are just terrified the ghost answered back coldly and definitively.
Of course I am, and besides why do you even care? there it was, the million dollar question; why was this presence pestering him? What did it want from him?
I do, more than you can fathom; I have been waiting for a living soul for so long. I care because your survival correlates with my own in a big way. The spectral stopped for a moment and begun to speak again with its cynical and cold manner ”I wish to make a deal with you and to offer you a chance, but first I needed assurance that you are motivated to survive this. So Tera I ask; are you prepared to throw the chance I am about to offer you away, simply because you are scared?
”Yes a chance that none of your kind has ever been offered and any man would be more terrified facing than death itself, but at the same time a chance for knowledge and power beyond your current comprehension it paused looking past Tera who was beyond confused. Tera the spectral called out. He looked up pulling away from his confused little mind and looked at the irregular existence before him. ”This is not the end
Then what is?
That is something you have to figure out on your own. What do you wish to accomplish more than anything?.
Tera was dumbstruck by the sudden question with the most obvious answer I want to give these men the peace they deserve. But more than that I want the ones who did it to feel the greatest pain they ever experienced. I want vengeance. Tera blurted out, shocking even himself with the anguish, anger and pain behind that simple answer.
In the end our true desires are more egoistical than we care to admit, but it doesn matter, after all, what we think we want is much different than what we actually want, that is the number one rule of the flow. The ghost whispered to itself.
What are you talking about? Tera asked.
It is time you decide then the spectral said decisively, ignoring Teras question.
I shall give you another chance, another way for you to pursue what you wish. Make a deal with me and you will have your way. The ghost spoke with assurance and finality.
Tera was hesitant as to what this spectral was saying, if it was a lie he was getting his hopes up for no reason, but he saw no reason as to why this would be a lie. The spectral had something to gain as well and to him that was probably as terrifying as dying.
” what do you get out of it? Tera asked hoping to finally get some clarity about the being before him.
”I will gain a chance to become what I once was The ghosts transparent arms opened up and an orb of light begun forming between its hands. He looked at Tera with meaning as if daring him to touch it. ”Come Tera, it is time we make history ”.
Tera hesitated once more, afraid for his future, afraid to die, and finally afraid to live. But his feet moved on his own and took him forward. The light spread and encompassed him. Teras final thoughts were for his brothers before dimming into nothingness.