Act One | Chapter Three | Episode Ten: Lost

Steps synced, NaN and JOS stepped through the accessway shoulder to shoulder. A Pit couldn’t be better describe from the landing upon which they stood. Web-like framework formed causeways and footpaths, dense groupings of the material forged honeycomb structures. Each leg of the hexagon spanning 5 units minimum and a purpose fit depth. Isolated structures hung like lanterns, grouping together into denser communities into large complex networks of geometric structures. NaN peered into the one looming closest, it resembled what he imagined a domicile would, soft green and blue light danced soothingly.

NaN was was finding it difficult to describe in words to himself. Making a descision between the dozen different upwards, downwards, sideways paths in front of them. “They went down.” JOS pointed down the closer of the two descending pathways. NaN followed the finger in time to see the five disappear behind the steam of a vent.

“Quickly!” NaN was all instinct, almost tripping when his magboots latched onto the semi-organic material. Catching himself he continued trotting down the slope. There must’ve been some kind of magnetic core underneath the packed layer of mud. His thighs burned as he fought against the gravity his body wasn’t used to resisting against.

‘Shouldn’t there be less here?’ The thought permeated as he looked to examine the cavernous space. Notan’s Pit resembled a juicy citrus fruit, except the rind and core left intact. The parasites occupied it now.

He felt the hands of a passerby, “I’m glad I’ve got nothing valuable to hold on to. Either that thing’s got a sexual urge for me, or I would’ve just been robbed,” NaN mocked a shiver. “Five hands…” he scrunched his face reliving the feeling being groped.

“A whole five huh…” JOS slapped him between the shoulders, “that would make for one intense lover pralo.”

“It was exactly what you’d been dreaming for your entire life,” NaN sarcastically consoled his friend, refusing to be the butt, “a body full of hands.” They laughed together for moment, weary of wandering hands, and unknowable extremities, then proceeded down the bridge.

The bottom level off into one of the huge honeycombs, this one was lit with green, yellow, and red. All playfully directing the eye towards the twelve kiosks, six of the rectangular machines on both halves of the space.

Fancy lighting was a gimmick. The first three kiosks NaN wouldn’t ask JOS to operate. Four more were nonoperational for mysterious reasons, three were covered in being sized dents. Leaving two, one had no functioning visual output, only a complicated voice in some impossible language. Lastly, beaten and dented like the others, and a deep crack canyoning the screen, it’s wounds from whatever battle took place here.

Not all the text was easy to read, enough was readable to gain a basic understanding the systems functions. After some trial and error, they came upon a readout of the Pit. Exactly what they needed. Ending their query the machine sent them off with a whine of enthusiasm that morphed into an electronic howl then trailing off.

Thirty-five circuits remaining, they relented to downloading the map and building locator on JOS’ datacard. NaN wasn’t particularly happy about the outcome, but there was no time to nitpick JOS until he got his way. Fortunately, he could swipe the info whilst his unsuspecting friend slept.

Conversion of the programming language into OhkBD’s seemed to push the boundaries on the word forever. Eyes wide with excitement NaN unconsciously pushed his tongue into the roof of his mouth making a sour face. JOS laughed. The ebb and flow of the crowd around them continued to pay them no attention.

NaN started from his tunnel vision, “What?”

“Your face,” JOS laughed harder still.

“Pralo,” he was the epitome of impatience, “We need to get moving. We don’t have long.”

“I had it figured we’d already lost track of them, and with time running out I think we’ve come far enough to be satisfied. As for adventure, there’s been plenty this rotation alone. Let’s head back to Valeviynellen and find out what it means to be a Vale Hound,” JOS did his best to stop NaN from pushing the subject further. JOS was right, they had lost their targets, it had taken too much time to learn the pathways. “Let’s go back,” NaN conceded.

Not without great effort did NaN turn around and drag his magboots back to the landing that led to the entrance. “Wait!” JOS had to pull him back to gain his attention. “We should use the navigator. I’ve got it loaded up into OhkBD’s interface and included our ‘home position’ from the data we collected earlier.” JOS was too excited for NaN to refuse, it’s not like they’d gotten far enough for, he checked his datacard, eight extra circuits to not be enough time to return.

“Sure,” he said, disinterested. NaN veered over the precipice marveling again at the array of multicolored lights. So badly he wanted to be completely free. Like a parasite of the flesh, the want itched, begged for him to escape all bondage.

“We’re supposed to take this one, I think,” JOS snapped NaN out of his stupor.

“Right,” he answered automatically, following after JOS.

Up the slope they trudged, it was hard not to wonder what all was out there and able to be seen, felt, tasted, drank. Agh! There was too much restrictions placed on his life, and there it was all around him, waiting for him. How should he respond to fortunes favor? By doing what he should, returning back to the metallic catacombs called Valeviynellen. He was resolute, in his future, when he earned the name, Valegbosh, there would be nothing he wouldn’t explore the moment he felt the urge to.

NaN returned his focus to JOS’ back, dreaming about the future. The causeway steepened meeting with the landing to the central spiral. They took the last few steps onto the platform, the accessway refused to open. Odd, but not too surprising.

“Seems you don’t know your way around.”

NaN and JOS were startled by the deep luscious voice, emanating from every shadow. A female in black, featureless save only her shape, stepped out from the darkness that seemed less without her presence. Each step fell purposefully, like a predator deciding whether or not they were worth the trouble to eat. “And if you don’t know where you are, than you certainly couldn’t understand the rules,” her voice grew higher in pitch and malice simultaneously. “I’ve been given the task of…” she pretended to think hard,” kill, no… Bondage, yes!” It seemed to shock her as much as them.

Without their noticing, two members of her team were standing by with restraining bolts in their weapons, trigger fingers anticipating. At the command “Bondage” they knew which setting to use, and on “yes!” fired. Suddenly, NaN and JOS were bound by red straps from the shoulders down.

“As I was saying,” she continued. “How things work is,” she took off her mask, revealing a molested face with a perverse grin cut out of the scarred remains of flesh, all the way to the cheek bones, “I’m the lawmaker, and death dealer if need be.”

“You!” Her tongues wagged, the sumptuous voice had become hoarse and weak. NaN stared into her augmented oculi, her menace poured over him inadvertently causing him to tremble. The delicate looking finger, he could only assume was equally vile as her face, was pointed directly between his eyes. “You will be returning with me. Call it… insurance.”

NaN heard the crunch of metal on face. “If you fight back,” she warned,”you will get much, much worse.” She breathed out, her stench assailing his nose, through her terrifying visage NaN thought he saw a real smile. The smile of chaos, he had no reason to disobey. Thankfully the mask returned to her face rendering it featureless and black once more. Two pairs of arms lifted him from his prone position, carrying him off after that sinister woman.

It is my very great honor to bring you the first book from the fluxDominion, THE CARNAGE OF PALTOCK!

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