Heye’s neck was craned downward, staring with horror at the Sokotian before him.
“Okay,” Heye breathed. “Tell me about Floop.”
A female Sokotian who looked like a Mary began,”Well his name is—”
“Great! Great news!” said Heye, with a start realised what he had done, and excactly when he had done it. “Sorry. So Floop’s a nickname? What’s his actual name?”
“Well his name is Grussletov,” said Mary. “He’s at the top of the tallest tower.”
“I… I think I know that tower,” said Heye slowly. “I think that’s where I started off here… Is that where the robot’s going? Can we go there, and get back Sam?”
“Floop is a—”
“A madman, yes, I’ve heard. So what, you’re saying we need to prepare? We need weapons? Do you guys have anything? Like those bots?”
The Sokotians exchanged glances at eachother, with one eventually smiling. “Follow ME!” it said brightly, with an excaggerated hand motion. It led them out of the bar and down the street, with further thatch houses linked apon the barely paved streets. It should have been a tip off. It should have been a hint to Heye to what would come next…
The creature paused in front of something like a wooden garrage, and dramatically flung open its handles.
It would be unnecessary to say that Heye was expecting technology at least similarly advanced to that which Floop’s bot had clearly displayed. The shed instead held… the excact oppposite. Leaning against the wall were weapons that, aside from being made out of what appeared to be purple wood, were no out of the ordinary anywhere else.
Mary stood in front of his field of view, between him and the… ‘weapons’.
“Is this… all you have?” he said, his expression syncing deeper with each word.
Mary’s head spun, on her face an expression that did not quite match her cheery tone as she said, “That’s us!”
Heye’s gaze returned to the weapons.
Sticks… spears… shields that were no more than purple wood from the purple trees shaved vaguely into a circle.
A picture of the six of them wielding only these sent a shiver into his stomach, but another picture took over, one that sent a shiver far deeper…
An image involving Sam.
“Okay,” said Heye. “Everybody take a weapon.”
“Okay,” said Heye. “Everybody [take] a weapon except for [no one] fucking classic.”
“We’re going to the party the boys are looking our way. We just keep dancing, we don’t care what they say.”
The party of six, short, blue skinned humanoids and one regular, human coloured human wondered throught the grass.
“So it’s not just quotes… you can do lyrics too?” Heye’s head cocked downwards. Though the Sokotian’s face was clearly older than his, there was something cute about her, rehearsing a quote he know all too well about going somewhere, as they themselves trodded through the fields, the tower looming ever closer.
Soft mechanical hums rumbled through the grasslands as the Sokotian replied, itself a lyric, “What else can I doooo?”
And Heye chuckled. He didn’t really need a proper answer, because he had already known. “I think part of the reason we both adore quotes so much is part of the same reason everyone like’s song lyrics… the same mechanism… only stronger…”
And Mary smiled up at him. And the whirring grew stronger.
And the party stopped. The eerie glow of the purple, absurdly starry sky radiating across the section of the land that was not obscured by the bold shape of the so-called tallest tower, the party now fully envolved by its mighty shaddow.
Heye indeed recognised by now the path to the area in which he must have fell, understanding retrospectively how the final part of their journey to the tower had crossed over with his initial path to the village.
“Okay!” he quoted, an utterly unguessable uttering with far too little context for practically any other human, except those who were most up to date with his new found love of the song Going to War, sung in part by the Chanaka Zombie. “How do we sneak in? Pitches, pitches, pitches!”
A slightly younger looking Sokotian had a particularly pensive look on his face, the staff besides him still as he pondered. And in his search his eyes lit up, declaring,”We could climb. All the way up… there!”
His finger pointed towards a scantily disgused box in the dressing of the building.
A chorus of an identical sound clip, seven voices excitedly whispered, “Yes yes, that’s it!”.
“Wow, 7-way hat trick!” said Heye, the Sokotians beaming up at him. “Okay, do you guys know how to climb on eachother? Can I… climb on you?”
Their smile unbroken, Mary begun the ladder, crouching down at the base. The next climbed on top of her, and so on and so on, until a not-quite precarious string of six little aliens grew upwards from the ground, towards the hatch.
It was now Heye’s turn. He gingerly stepped towards the not-human ladder. Mary’s eyes were creased in apparent struggle at the weight of five of her perched on top of her, and yet she still made the effort to smile up at him, gasping through chased breaths the familiar words of reassurance.
Heye offered his own forced smile back, and raised his leg. Carefully, he let his weight rest against Mary’s hands, and grasped onto the shoulders of what seemed like a Bill. His grasped higher, lifting his leg and resting it upon Mary’s shoulder, his hand just about wrapping onto the small ledge provided by the hatch.
Heye assessed the latch, and a few crinkles on his face gave way as he realised it was secured via four screws, three of which were missing. He scraped with his fingers against the last one, and wasn’t all too surprised when nothing happened. An idea struck him, and he rotated a finger, inserting his half-bitten nail into the screw slot as though it was a screwdriver.
Nothing gave way.
Heye grunted, his teeth hard against eachother inside his mouth — that’s it!
He steadied himself apon Bill’s shoulders, feeling the balance of the tower shift below him. He leaned forward, his face brushing uncomfortably against the cold metal. He twisted his head sideways to a deeply uncomfortable angle, and opened his mouth, bringing his teeth crunching against the screw.
Griping hopelessly onto the surrounding wall, he twisted his head… and the screw gave way!
He pulled back, shivering with a deep discomfort as his teeth momentarily scraped against the cold metal. But that was enough. His fingers now wrapped easily against the screw, loosening it within seconds and tucking it into his pocket.
“I’ve won,” he muttered evily under his breath. “Excactly as planned.”
Gently, he pulled out the metal hatch, revealing nothing but a cloud of shadows.
He slid the vent in, then tapped his foot apon Bill’s shoulder. The signal made its way down the chain, reaching Mary who knew to begin to pass upwards their staffs, shields and spears, Heye sliding them into the tunnel before him.
Finally, he heaved himself upward, and once inside the vent spun onto his front. He reached his hands downward, which were grabbed onto by Bill. Confident his weight was held, the signal was sent downward. Mary, already off the ground, began to climb up the not-quite-human ladder, scuttling over Heye to end with and remaining the furthest in the vent. The process repeated, with each dangling Sokotian using the rest as a ladder, until there was but one, who Heye trivially dragged upwards himself.
Smiles would have been passed around then, had it not been incredibly dark. Heye replaced the vent from the inside, and as seven they began to crawl once again through the vents, Heye conveniently leading.
Heye was prepared for the long hall, so was rather surprised to find his head bumping against an opposing wall, the other side of the vent, after approximately five seconds of crawling. A shard of panic struck him as he wondered how he would unscrew it from the inside, but in doing the obvious thing, he found a push was enough to send it…
…crashing against the ground.
Cool light flooded in, illuminating the painful grimaces stuck onto the faces of the crew.
But no mechanical whirls of potentially killer robots grew closer.
“Sorry! I think we’re good,” whispered Heye after a while. He edged out of the vent, stood up and stretched broadly. Mary stood beside him, mimicking his behaviour. Feeling unusually confident, he stook out a fist and she bumped hers against it in return, beaming up at him.
“Okay!” he said, more to himself than his rather attentive crew. “Sam.”
The nodded at him, and they began to step through the dimly lit corridors. The floors were metallic, and they had to be careful to be light in their footsteps, lest the metallic echo cascade through the walls and floors.
After about a minute of tiptoeing, their weapons only scarcely screeching against the floor which they passed, a light flashing light begin to lightly dance against their feet. Heye motioned for the rest of his crew to lean against the war and they obeyed, and slowly he craned his head around the corner.
Dowsed in a thousand beams of yellow light stood a chamber, a million tubes pumping bubbly blue liquid into it. And inside, an even deeper blue face… the face of…
His head was creased, lines pulling against his veins.
Heye turned around to his crewmates. It wasn’t remotely deniable to any part of himself that this was a deeply serious moment, but another part of him could not remotely resist. “Hey guys look!” he whispered. “It’s the real Sam [Insert Last Name Here]!”
A ripple of joy buzzed through the energy between them, resting on the final Sokotian deep in the back, who’s face widened into a sardonic grin. “You’re mocking him, aren’t you?”
Heye beamed, and sunk into what was expected of him, excactly what he wanted to do. “Oh no nono no no no no, [INSERT NAME HERE] LOOK a CHAMBER!”
And Heye exploded into a muted derisive laughter, the greatest laugher in cinematic history. And as he rose, his stomach crunched, his eyes watery not only from the recital but from the release of it all, he caught a glimpse of glaring yellow light, and a something painful flashed through him. His expression sombered, and he took a step forward.
There was no one around. No guards, no cameras. He couldn’t be sure if what he was about to do was stupid, but nothing else was clear for him to do then. His heart pounding in his chest… the sound of blood rumbling in his ears… he raised the spear, and sliced into the first arm holding Sam’s capsule in place and… nothing happened. No alarm, nothing.
Perplexed but focused, Heye motioned and the rest of the Sokotians assembled beneath the path of the pod as Heye sliced the other four arms, sticky blue liquid now searing around the floor of the room.
The pod briefly cascaded through the air, landing with a collective “ugh” against the backs of the six aliens, Sam’s face drifting out of view. Gently, they began to creak back through the stronghold.
A few minutes proved sufficient for return to their landing place, the stronghold seeming just as bizzarely empty as when they had arrived. Back at the vent, they sent three Sokotians back through first, and then the pod — which just about fit — through the hole. Then, three after, in order to carry it, with Heye standing look out.
Mary beamed up at him just before she went in herself.
And Heye felt good. He had no idea what any of this was about, but he had just saved this woman’s friend. A swell of pride bubbled through him. And he whispered, very ironically, “YOU HAVE TO STOP HEYE.”
And as Mary vanished into the shadowy darkness, he raised his foot also, and a shutter flung down against the vent.
Red light cased Heye’s vision as his fluttering heart transitioned into a ferocious pounding.
RUN! said his brain, but the second he lifted his foot a metallic tube coiled around it, sinking into his skin. It tightened, yanking Heye downwards, his head sending a mighty crash against the metallic panels as it made contact. The force did not hesitate as it dragged the boy across the ground at a merciless speed, his shirt crawlling behind him as his raw back scraped against the metal, his head crashing upwards at every uneven screw. Faster and faster they slid, racing across the uneven ground until—
Heye creaked open his eyelids, a wrinkled grew face grinning maliciously apon him, every feature dowsed in red light.
“Well isn’t, this, interesting.”
“Heye! There you are.”