Chapter 33: Out of Nowhere
Later that day, Ace and the team were already inside the Star Seeker. Ace was busy going through the tools and materials he had in his room, thinking of ideas for his new weapon for Jenna. He sat at a desk in his room, staring at the objects he had scattered out on the table in front of him.
Hmm I’ve got to come up with a weapon… something simple, but effective. Something good for the worst of aimers…
Ace pondered over it, going through his different tools and weapon pieces he had collected. Obviously, a weapon similar to his wouldn’t be a good idea. He sat there at his workstation, thinking to himself…
Jake suddenly came in through the doorway, seeing as it was left open. Ace turned around to glare back at him, looking a little bothered with him entering like that.
”What do you want now?”
”I found a sweet place to skyboard, better than the tourist-ridden path we flew along earlier. It’s out beyond the cliffs, and there’s even a cave around there that leads out to another lagoon-like area!”
“Not right now, I’m busy”
”Come on man, don’t be so boring! You can do that later on! This time I won’t let you win so easily”
”Heh, I doubt it”
Ace turned away, looking back at the materials and objects on his table. He picked up a plasma capsule and examined it closely, continuously thinking of a design for what he could build.
”Come on Ace, just one race! We leave Pokitaru in a few hours so we should make the most of it here while we still can!”
“Okay fine, just give me a minute okay?”
“I’ll be waitin’ outside…!”
It wasn’t long before Ace and Jake made their way outside again. Ace decided it would be fun just to have one more Skyboard race. After all, he still had plenty of time later to work on personal projects and the like.
Both verpardi made their way across the sea again on their skyboards. Jake led Ace into a new area: a different route to what they took hours earlier to Skyboard across.
Jake flew around the edges of one of the large islands, quite far from where their Star Seeker resided and much further away from any civilians and the holiday resorts. Out here, it was much quieter with more wind and seabirds flying from the sight of Ace and Jake on their boards.
“This way, cuz!”
Jake swerved around and closer to a cliff, stopping several metres in front of a large rocky island, with a cave opening that was huge in size - where they could see the light coming from the other side. The cave appeared to lead out into another area of the island.
”Looks like a nice track to try out, but if that’s all there is… then this is going to be one short race”
”Of course that ain’t all! I checked it out and you’ll be surprised with the obstacles and stuff on the other side!”
”I say we prepare ourselves then”
Ace lowered his body, keeping a stern focus on the path ahead of them, Jake somewhat mimicked him. They both stared right through the large cave-way, waiting for their moment.
Jake shouted, and they both took off in an instant. Fiery blue blasted out from behind their skyboards as they entered through the cave at high speed. Both Ace and Jake pushed their skyboards to their limits, flying through the darkness, up above to avoid any unseen rocks popping out of the seawater below.
Small swiftlet creatures fled from the cave in fear, startled to see the two intruder’s blast through their home. Jake cursed; the critters smacking into him as he flew in the lead. Ace was amused by what he saw.
This slowed down Jake slightly and he lowered his boosters to gain more focus, Ace meanwhile had a chance to speed out ahead of him and out into the sunlight once again. They were now in another area of the island, seawater still covered their path below but then Ace spotted a few signs around the area, many written in different languages, but he spotted one reading “Beware” as he flew past…
He shuddered though however and Jake continued to fly up behind him… eager to get into the lead again. The two continued to fly on, dodging large jagged rocks popping out of the sand and seawater around, before they made their way up into higher ground. Ace gained altitude to avoid the ground and he flew up higher. But then he heard Jake’s skyboard boosters rapidly approaching him.
He turned to look at his right to see him but something was completely odd; Jake was not on the Skyboard!
Ace grabbed hold of the Skyboard as it flew right next to him, quickly turning around sharply, to fly back into the opposite direction.
”ACE! HELP ME!!!!!!”
Ace’s eyes were wide at seeing Jake being pulled down a hole, only just big enough for them to fit through. He flew up close and jumped off the Skyboard, letting go of Jake’s other board. He rushed on foot to Jake as he was clawing the ground with his fingers – desperately trying not to be pulled down into the hole.
“Grab my hand!”
Ace was utterly puzzled but he ran towards Jake, holding his hand out. He grasped onto Jake’s hand tightly, trying with all his strength to pull him out. But it was hard; Ace had nothing else to hold onto and his boots were slipping along the rocky ground.
He then lost his footing and both verpardi disappeared down into the depths of the ground.
Both were pulled at high speed down a tunnel, dragged along an uneven, gravel surface until finally, then both landed flat onto the ground, in near complete darkness.
Ace noticed that he had lost his grasp from Jake’s hand. He was astounded. Luckily for him, he could see in the dark with the aid of his visor and he spotted Jake a few metres away, squirming like mad.
”LET GO! LET GO OF ME!!”
His freed leg and arms were flailing around in the air. Ace couldn’t help but face-palm, before rushing over to see Jake and notice that his leg was being grasped by something strange, some sort of purple tentacle-like limb.
“GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF!!!”
”Shhh, my common sense is tingling!”
And with that, Ace grabbed out his HL Launcher and slashed down violently with its pointy blades, giving a deep cut into the creature’s limb and forcing it to let go of Jake’s leg.
A roar erupted from the creature not too far from them, echoing throughout the underground cave and resounding in their heads.
Jake was quick to get onto his feet and grab out his own pair of weapons – Pulse Pistols. They illuminated a turquoise light, adding to the blue glow produced by Ace’s own gun in their dark surroundings.
Both men stood there with their guns held at hand, staring out ahead of them. They could see in the dark, thanks to their visors and were astounded with what they were witnessing.
The creature sat there in a shallow pool of water, staring back at them with a ferocious expression. A mouth set with many sharp teeth; glowing yellow eyes and a large head supported by a long neck connecting to a Loch Ness monster-like body. It also had flippers for its limbs, accompanied by two pairs of long, squid-like limbs.
”Holey crap it’s a Psytopus!” Jake cursed, looking horrified.
”A Psytopus? I don’t remember them looking like this…”
”This one looks different but it had that same, ugly-as-hell head and that freaky looking face! This must be a queen of their kind!”
It roared again and lashed out with one of his tentacle arms, both Ace and Jake leapt in the opposite direct to avoid it. Ace was already firing his launcher at the creature, stinging it with the blue and golden coloured blasts. Jake was already firing as well, from his pair of pistols.
The Psytopus was becoming even more agitated. It hissed and fired a blast of pink acid from its head - which Ace and Jake had to avoid together. Ace strafed to the right, continually firing shots at the beast.
”It doesn’t appear to be working, man!”
Jake shouted, blasting his pistols and becoming more and more impatient with his efforts. He suddenly yelped when he saw two of the tentacles come out for him, jumping out of the way and firing his pistols frantically.
”Don’t give up, just keep shooting at it!”
Ace looked to his left and gasped, when he noticed the other pair of tentacles coming for him. He gritted his teeth and swung his launcher around like sword, slashing one of the tentacle limbs clean off. The Psytopus screamed in agony ahead of him. Jake couldn’t help but smile at the sight of it. He continued to shoot and the Psytopus retracted its remaining three limbs to the safety of its body. Ace couldn’t fire back at once, as the creature spat out acid again, which he had to avoid.
Ace looked over towards Jake and then looked at the roof of the cave. He couldn’t see very well – even with the night vision function of his visor but he could make out the shapes of stalactite-like rocks. He suddenly had a good idea.
Clichéd as it is, it may just work…
”Jake! Keep distracting the monster, I’ve got a plan!”
Jake nodded in response, strafing left and right while firing. The Psytopus was more focused on Jake and his sudden movements; he was very distracting and irritating to the Psytopus.
Ace on the other hand, had his focus on the large pointy stalactites on the roof of the cave, right above the Psytopus. He slowly charged up his launcher, watching the end of his gun light up bright blue. The Psytopus suddenly turned around to look at him; his launcher’s luminosity grabbing its attention like a moth to a flame. It snarled and held in its breath, ready to fire a big gunk of acid at him…
”Not this time, freak”
Ace released the blast and it shot right up at the roof of the cave, causing a large explosion. The Psytopus was a little confused that Ace didn’t fire the shot at him, even going as far as giving him a comical ‘bewildered’ expression. At least until it looked up at the roof of the cave.
Rocks began to tumble down, as did the stalactites and Ace turned around and ran. Jake wasting no time and following him to escape the falling rocks but then something disturbing came for them.
A sickening crunch and splatter came from behind them and they were splashed by a thick, liquid substance! Ace cursed and Jake almost let out a girlish squeal.
They continued to run anyway, to avoid more of the slime and they frantically crawled out of the small entrance of the cave, where they could see sunlight.
Jake squeezed out first and ran for the water’s edge. Ace did the same as he was in a sort of ‘panic-mode’ diving into the deepest pool of seawater from the ground.
Ace could now see what had happened. He had pink acidic blood all over the back of his clothing, and some of it even got on his hair and arms! He washed it off as quickly as possible but then all of a sudden, he could hear Jake laughing.
”What are you laughing at? This isn’t funny!”
Jake was soaking wet and he walked over towards Ace, shaking his head. Ace was still busy trying his best to wash the acid out of his blond hair; dipping his head into the water several times and squeezing the water and acid out of it, before repeating the action. He was spooked that he’d start to lose some of his hair from that incident.
”Calm down man! Don’t you remember? We’re pretty much immune to poisonous attacks. Remember when those blue-bottle jellysquid at the beach did nothing to you as a kid? And what about that time you ate that poisonous lobster from Aquatos? See, it doesn’t do anything! So no need to stress-out over it!”
Ace then remembered. Jake was right; their race was immune to most types of chemicals and poisons – especially from organic life forms not native to their home planet. Ace then got up and noticed that he truly was fine, aside from some cuts and bruises from the rough cave entry and falling debris. He squeezed the water out of his hair for the final time, noticing it was acid-free now. He looked up at Jake and frowned slightly, yet relieved to reminded of his immunity.
”About time you said something intelligent”
”Heh, you’re a funny one then aren’t you?! Let’s go home; I’d rather have a real shower. Oh and have some nanotech…!”
”You have to admit though, that was kind of fun today”
Ace told him with a grin, before getting onto his feet and shaking water off himself. He headed towards the skyboard he had left behind on land nearby. Jake did the same, and they both headed back to the Star Seeker as quickly as they could.
”Goodness Gracious! What happened to you?!”
Bettilena’s hands were over her mouth and she rushed over towards them. Ace and Jake stood there, looking messy and worn out. Their clothes were still damp from the seawater. Betty examined them closely and noticed a few patches of pink acid left behind from their incident.
”What are these pink smudges doing there?!”
Ace sighed, before saying.
”Long story… but to make it short; Psytopuses”
”Oh dear, I hope you two are okay! Jenna, please go get some of that Nano-gel I made earlier in the week!”
”It’s okay, we’re fine. We just got a few cuts and bruises, that is all… so there’s no need to worry about it”
Bettilena was still fidgeting and Ace sighed again. She rushed out of the room to look for more aid. Meanwhile, Jenna returned from the hallway holding onto a small tube of some sort. Jake went to go sit down on a nearby stool and Ace followed.
”Oh boy, you two always seem to get into trouble, one way or another”
”It was Jake, he’s the one who chose that route”
”Hey! I’m not the one who shot at those stalactites and made the Psytopus splatter all over the damn place!”
Jenna’s eyes widened, before narrowing.
”Eww, sounds nasty”
”Oh it was. But it was still fun fighting it though, I have to admit heh”
Ace said, watching Jenna with the tube of Nanotech. As she opened it, it let out a bright blue glow - the same way ordinary nanotech does but this version was in a liquid form.
”I don’t mean to sound ignorant but… what’s up with the nanotech being kept in a tube?” Ace asked.
”Oh, it is an invention Betty came up with called nano-gel. She found a way to convert large amounts of nanotech into a liquid form so that you can use small amounts of it on wounds and other minor injuries. I think it is an ingenious idea; it’s much better than wasting a whole entire crate of nanotech on a small cut”
”That’s a really good idea”
Ace said. Jenna then applied a small amount to her hands and smeared it on both of Jake’s arms
”Oww, be careful sis!”
”Oh quit your whinging. It’s healing up your wounds already”
Ace watched it heal up all of his small cuts on his arms instantly. He was surprised that such a small amount of nanotech did that. Jake hopped off the stool and looked at himself; he was delighted to see that he was healed.
”…sweet! That worked better than I thought it would, thanks sis”
”No problem. Now it’s your turn, Hardlight. You better not wince like he did”
”Oh I won’t, Nurse Jenny”
Jenna raised an eyebrow and Ace gave off a brash look, sitting down and allowing her to examine his injuries. They were more abundant that Jake’s; due to his larger muscles and Jenna applied some nano-gel to her hands.
”Hey, what’s the hold up?”
He grabbed the tube and applied a large amount to his hands, putting the nanotech on himself. Jenna suddenly blinked and lunged forwards,
”No wait, not too much! You’ll waste it! It took ages for Betty to make that!”
She grabbed the nano-gel tube from his hand but it was too late, he had already used up over half of the tube and all his injuries were healed in an instant.
Ace got off the stool and stood up, posing himself and looking at both his arms; giving off a cheesy grin.
“Well with guns like mine, I think you would need to use a bit more next time you attend me in the medical ward”
”Heh… not that much though”
Jenna scoffed, looking at Ace as he stood there flexing his arms. Ace could have sworn he saw her face redder than usual. Was it due to anger? Her expression didn’t seem angry at all though. Then Betty came rushing in, throwing a towel over him and Jake nearby, catching both their attention before the fabric draped over their heads.
”Now I think you two could do with a good washing! We’re going to take off into orbit soon, so I suggest you both go wash up now before we go on a rough ride out!”
Ace pulled the towel off his face and held it in his arm. He looked at Jake, who had already walked off down the hallway. Jenna and Betty stood there together in the room, both were looking content.
Ace walked down the hallway and into his own room. Before he entered his bathroom, he looked back at his own arms. He still couldn’t get over that strange sensation; it was bothering him – even sending a chill down his spine. He then thought about something else; suddenly getting goose-bumps about the Psytopus fluids all over his body – that certainly took his mind off other matters.
Ugh. Disgusting creatures…
He shook his head in disgust, before entering into his bathroom unit hastily.