28. What to Believe In

Chapter 28

What to Believe In

            “I’m hooome!” Flad announced loudly as he walked inside what seemed to be a residence. The homes in 4D space were almost dome shaped and at first glace they seemed to be only as tall as an average person. But upon entering the party found that most of the dwelling was below ground level.

Nel was the first to notice the boy’s mother as she stood up to greet her son. The spy was curious as to what the woman did in her spare time since she was merely sitting there, staring off into space before she responded to her son. At first, the lady seemed happy to see her child, but her features gave way to suspicion when she saw the others.

“Who are those people?” she inquired to Flad, acting as if they were unable to speak for themselves.

The boy was very casual as he walked in and it gave Nel the impression that he brought in strangers on a regular basis. “Huh? Oh, they’re just friends. Friends of mine.”

“Friends, I see…” she replied, unconvinced. The spy couldn’t fault her for being chary about their arrival. For all the woman knew, they could’ve been strangely dressed thugs. And… from the way Flad introduced them, it sounded too much like a lie- even though it was one.

It worried the spy greatly when she caught the lady’s look as she passed by. As a leading commander of an army of mostly women, she knew the look of an over protective mother. They tend to be her best warriors because they would do anything to make sure their children were safe. She didn’t think the woman had it in her to fight them off, but there was a high chance she would cause trouble if it meant saving her son.

They followed Flad to a large grey chair and loosely circled around him as he faced everyone. The boy then requested for Fayt’s full name and birthplace so he could ‘check for something’. Fayt was wary at first, but then he complied with his request so he could find out what the boy wanted to find.

Everyone nearly jumped back in shock when Flad sat down and all sorts of floating screens appeared in midair. Nel was, of course, stunned to see such a thing, but it said a lot when Cliff, Peppita, and the Earthlings had to react as well.

“There it is. Wow! Okay, so you are who I thought you were. Great, I believe it now. It’s just like Blair said,” Flad said, off in his own little world. He sounded so excited and fascinated over whatever he ‘believed’ now, but until he decided to say what it was, no one had a clue what he was talking about.

“Hey, kid. Share the info, huh? Don’t just sit there with your thinking face on,” Cliff prodded, trying hard not to sound annoyed. But a doubtful glare managed to appear on his face before he inquired, “You’re not related to those Executioners, are you?”

It disturbed Nel when the boy sat back in his seat and closed his eyes to think. What was there to think about? It was a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. From her experience, if someone needed to think before replying, then they were most likely trying to think of a lie to tell. But apparently he had a lot of explaining to do and he needed the time to organize his thoughts so they could understand him. However, his initial answer of ‘No, not really’ didn’t reassure her in the least.

“Hmm, how should I explain this? You guys live in the Eternal Sphere, right?” he confirmed before everyone gave him a confused stare.

“Eternal Sphere?” Fayt repeated uncertainly. Come to think of it, Nel heard that name not too long ago. She remembered hearing something about an ‘Eternal Sphere display’ from the people that gathered around them when they first arrived.

“Yeah, check it out,” Flad chirped before he pressed a translucent button. The glowing panel then moved to show everyone a video of what appeared to be a battle. Nel’s eyes widened as she recognized it.

“That’s a battle between the Federation and the Executioners…” Maria said in a stunned voice.

“That’s right,” the boy replied in a proud tone. “This is what’s happening right now, in the Eternal Sphere.”

…It was happening right this second? But Nel remembered watching it happen nearly an hour ago. It seemed time flowed differently in 4D space rather than not exist at all. This could explain why it took so long for this Creator to mount an attack after warning Dr. Leingod so many years ago.

“What’s happening?” Cliff bellowed in bewilderment. “Hey, kid, what the hell is the Eternal Sphere thing anyway?”

What Flad explained next completely went over her head. All she could get was that somehow she wasn’t real and that the world she lived in was also a fabrication of the 4D beings. It took some explaining later on from Fayt and Sophia before she completely understood just how ‘imaginary’ they were.

She had to view it like a book- one where the reader could literally enter the fantasy world and interact with the characters. But unlike a regular story, it doesn’t stop when the reader ‘closes the book’- and other readers could read the same story and interact with each other.

But there was something Flad said that actually comforted her a little. “You’re not really that different from us- you just live in a different dimension.”

Basically, even if she was a character from a ‘story’, she still had her free will to choose how to live and how to view her environment. She didn’t see how this was any different from the ancient teachings that gods created them. She could accept that. But what did bother her was how Fayt referred to their situation as a ‘game’ and Flad didn’t deny it. Nel didn’t like the idea of being created for someone’s amusement.

With a little more added detail, she finally learned the reason for the Creator’s attack. It seemed that there was some kind of ‘problem’ that threatened to affect the entire universe and that the Executioners had to destroy everything in the galaxy to save the rest. That didn’t make sense to the spy- she could understand eliminating a threat, but why condemn several million innocent people in the process?

“But wait, if we’re programs, how can we exist here? If what he is saying is true, this should be impossible,” Sophia stated, bringing on an interesting point. Something that was supposed to be imaginary managed to become real- at least that’s what Nel understood at that point.

“Now that, I don’t understand either,” Flad replied, not really bothered by that fact.

“That must be Maria’s power- the Alteration gene,” Fayt explained after he thought it over.

But if that meant that they were ‘real’ now through Maria’s power, then what was the difference between 3D and 4D beings? Nel didn’t feel any different from before. She could still breathe and feel things. She still had her own personal beliefs (even though Flad’s story was shaking it up).

And through it all, the green haired child could only marvel at their presence and act as if they were some kind of scientific discovery. It didn’t seem to bother him one bit that their galaxy was being destroyed and lives were being cut short. He didn’t even seem fazed to know why they were here. In fact, he was curious to know if they were really going to find and stop the person responsible for the Executioners.

But the conversation came to an end when several men in black armor barged into the home with weapons drawn. Flad finally expressed something other than joy as he stared at them in confusion. “Security?”

“Flad, did you-?” Fayt inquired in a betrayed tone.

“I didn’t do anything!” the boy protested before he glanced at his mother. “Mom, did you call security?”

“What was I supposed to do? I was so worried about you!” the lady replied, appearing relieved that someone came to help.

“Aw, Mom! Can’t you mind your own business?”

Personally, Nel didn’t think he had a right to speak to his mother like that. The woman was justified in what she did, but unfortunately, it wasn’t something in the spy’s favor.

“What do we do now?” the Klausian wondered as he shifted into a battle stance.

“Whatever we do, we can’t let ourselves get captured,” the blue haired boy replied.

Deep down, the distraction was a little welcome since it offered Nel the time to clear her mind and not think about the confusing issue of existence. She soon found herself outside with the others, surrounded from the front and back by the security. Cliff and Peppita were the first to move and everyone quickly found that the enemy fell easily with just one blow.

The spy quickly sheathed her daggers to prevent serious harm to them. Just a few simple punches and kicks had them falling to the ground in pain. Once they were all subdued, everyone glanced at each other in surprise.

“That was too easy,” the spy commented as the men groaned and rushed to get up and run away. Really, they shouldn’t have let them go, but she felt bad about harming them further. Chances were that whatever reinforcements they could gather would also be weak as well. It was better to just leave and avoid another confrontation.

“That was easy,” Cliff responded after her. “I assumed everyone in 4D was tough, like the Executioners.”

“I guess the Executioners are exceptions,” Sophia said with a shrug. They were probably created to only exist in their dimension.

Suddenly Flad rushed out of his home to toss something at them. “Here, this is for you!”

Cliff caught it with ease and examined it before he gave it to Fayt. Nel wasn’t sure what it was, but it seemed to be a disk of some kind.

“If you guys don’t believe what I tell you, then check it out for yourselves! There’s a special Eternal Sphere terminal in Gemity, go take a look!” the boy explained before his mother tried to pull him back inside.

“Hmph, smart little brat,” the Klausian mused with a wry grin.

“We might as well go to Gemity and figure out what this disk does,” Maria suggested before Fayt agreed.

“I guess. There’s nothing else we can do until we figure out what’s going on,” the young leader said before he glanced around and added, “But before we go, let’s take a look around here and see if we can get anymore information about this place and the people who live here.”

That seemed to be a good idea considering that they were in an unusual place. They had no maps on the area or any idea of how to travel. Fayt gave a warning to stay out of trouble and to not touch anything suspicious (which to Albel, Nel, and Peppita- that meant everything). They then split up with the promise to meet up at the large rectangular structure at the center of town.

********************************

For a dimension that created hers, it was a rather …bland place. Everything was orderly and mutely colored. The only interesting feature was the occasional large technological construction and the see-through walkways that enabled one to see other settlements floating in a seemingly endless sky. To Nel, the place certainly did seem different enough from the worlds she visited since leaving her planet, but she was quickly growing used to encountering new and strange devices.

But what really disturbed her was the inhabitants. Many of them appeared to be bored and lethargic- almost as if they barely had any life in them. From what she understood, everything was provided for them. They were served food at certain times of the day, they had housing, and they had immediate access to medical facilities if they weren’t feeling well. They didn’t have to work for compensation, nor did they have any real worries.

In a way, that could be considered paradise, but the spy can see how it was not. What was there to live for if they didn’t need to work for it? She had come across the others while exploring the town and picked up other bits of information from them. They all came to the same conclusion about the 4D beings and even felt sorry for them- all except for Fayt, who was still bitter over the fighting and the fact that he lost his father to all of this. But the boy knew better than to blame everyone- clearly the people of Arkives had nothing to do with the Creator.

Cliff didn’t particularly care about the town or the people. He was more upset that the world they struggled to reach was nothing more than a simple residential area. Wittcomb and the rest of the crew had died to get them there and yet it felt like their sacrifice ended up being in vain. Nel had to agree that she would’ve felt a little better to find a dungeon on the other side, filled with monsters. This outcome was severely anti-climatic.

It was almost time to meet up and the spy made her way to the center of the town. She found Albel pacing near a path of the crossroad, looking rather disturbed and upset. Every now and then, his good hand would drift to his sword as if he wanted to draw it, but he resisted any urge. Nel frowned a little as she wondered if he wanted to start trouble.

“Albel!” she called out to get his attention. His annoyed façade didn’t fade at her approach.

“What is it, woman? Are we leaving yet?” he inquired as he clenched his fists.

“Not yet,” she replied as she took in his stance. “Try to relax. Getting worked up like that won’t help anyone.”

“Easier said than done. I despise this city and everyone in it. These maggots walk like the living dead and they use our world for their entertainment. Disgusting,” he said venomously as he glared at the nearest person walking by. The poor soul didn’t seem to notice them and continued on his path to wherever.

He had a point- here was a world where people were provided for and didn’t have a single care, so they chose to visit theirs for ‘something to do’. She had gone through a war with Albel’s people, seen the suffering of others, and lost her father in the line of duty, but that didn’t mean anything to the 4D beings. They were more likely fascinated over the ‘drama’ to really comprehend what it meant to lose everything.

“I understand what you mean, but I don’t think these people-” she gestured to the town, “have done any harm. Yes, what they do is sickening to us, but I don’t think they do anything other than watch us and enjoy life at our expense. It’s the Creator who is destroying our galaxy.”

“How can you be so certain? Maybe none of these maggots created us, but who’s to say your Apris isn’t one of them? Some might have the capacity to ‘play god’ and dictate our lives,” he pointed out as he rested his claw on his scabbard. She looked away.

That, too, was a possibility that she didn’t want to think about. The spy had the misfortune to walk in on someone who boasted about ‘becoming a goddess’.

“It is of no concern to them what happens to us in our world,” Albel continued when she didn’t reply. “It would be better if we killed them now to stop them from messing with our lives.”

“…Perhaps you’re right, but I don’t think I could do that, considering how weak they are. They might be an annoyance, but they’re killing us,” Nel replied after she thought it over. There was no point in killing thousands of innocent (for the most part) people just because some act like selfish morons. If they did, then they were no better than the Creator.

At that moment, a child happened to skip past them, oblivious to the world around her. Albel stared at her with scorn before his features softened a little to reluctance.

“I suppose you’re right. I’m not the type of man who could strike down the weak like that- it goes against my principles.” There was a moment of silence before he inquired, “What will you do if your god happens to be one of these worms?”

That made her pause. “…I-I don’t know. I would like to think Apris is someone more in authority, but I guess I can’t pass judgment until I see him with my own eyes.”

“If the worst possible scenario comes about, don’t despair. Having a god doesn’t define who you are. He may interfere from time to time with good or bad intentions, but your life is still your own.”

It was somewhat endearing to hear him say that- and it was a little shocking. He condemned anyone who wasted their time praying to gods and yet here he was, willing to pick her up should her faith shatter.

“How are you so sure?” she asked hollowly before she turned to face him once again. “If they created us, then couldn’t they easily control our path in life?”

“If that were true, then we wouldn’t be here. I’m completely revolted by this world, but I know that the maggots here had nothing to do with my father’s death. I was the one solely responsible- just how my king was responsible for the war and how you’re responsible for the men you killed under your god’s name.” She knew it was difficult for him to say, but he managed to grate it out and maintain a calm demeanor.

With all the confusion and uncertainty that was happening, she almost couldn’t believe how Albel made so much sense. He thought about this long and hard and was able to come to a believable conclusion. Flad had confirmed it before- 4D beings had no control over them. She was still her own person.

But what if Apris was an ordinary person here? Would that make everything in her life a lie? But no- Apris gave her people means to survive and become a nation. She was sure of that. Even if he (or perhaps she) was a regular person living a hollow life, it didn’t change the fact that her nation thrived because of him. Nel could probably handle the truth about her ‘god’ as long as she remembered the facts in her world. She didn’t have to abandon her faith just because the gods weren’t as she expected.

“Whatever may come, it won’t change the fact that we must put a stop to the Creator,” the spy eventually replied, falling back to her sense of duty. She was tired of thinking- it was just going to make things worse anyway. She needed to focus on something else before she worked herself into a stress-induced breakdown.

“Heh. That’s why I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” Albel replied as he briefly placed his hand on her shoulder. He then gestured with a nod to the center of the town to point out that the others were gathering. “There’s the fool- we should go join them.”

Albel didn’t care about gods or who ‘created’ them. What was important to him was a person’s ability to change the world as they saw fit. That’s why he loved Nel- she may pray from time to time, but she got up and did something to make sure it was accomplished. He knew she wouldn’t break if her religion turned out to be a sham, but he wouldn’t put it past her to be a little surprised. If the ordeal happened to turn her completely away from faith, then that was fine, too. He would welcome her to his side with open arms.

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The one thing Nel quickly discovered before entering the ‘spacetime station’ was that she could read the signs on the walls. Ever since leaving Elicoor, she had no way of translating the other languages like Fayt and the others. Maria didn’t have any translators that converted other speech to Elicoorian, but then she figured that it wasn’t needed. As long as the people Albel and Nel encountered had a translator, there wouldn’t be a problem. Luckily, they were common accessories to a ‘modern world’ being.

But why did the writing in 4D space closely resemble Elicoorian of all languages?

Nel stayed silent about it since it seemed the others could read it, too. She wasn’t sure if it was their translators at work or if 4D technology was so advanced that the lettering they used could change for the reader.

4D transporters were so seamless that she barely noticed anything. It was like she walked through a doorway and was immediately in a new place. There was no careful preparation or precautions to take- the devices were safe to use and very efficient. But when they stepped outside of the lobby, they found a world very different from Arkives. Nel winced as the bright lights hit her eyes.

It was another place that seemed to be floating in midair and had transparent floors, but unlike the other town, there were glowing gears that turned below. The ‘sky’ above was as dark as night and there were glittering pieces raining down from seemingly nowhere.

“Some of these buildings look familiar,” Albel remarked beside her as he glanced around. Upon further inspection, she found he was right- many of the buildings bore a striking resemblance to places from Elicoor. Even the costumes the people wore reminded her of the common fashion from her planet.

“Looking at this place really drives home the fact that these people made our world,” Cliff commented. There was no trace of Earthling or Klausian influence anywhere, but Nel understood what he meant. There was no dispute in anyone’s mind that someone (or a group of people) in 4D space created them- they just didn’t want to believe that they were made solely for entertainment purposes.

It seemed futile to search out the Eternal Sphere Terminal, but they wanted to know without a shadow of a doubt that they truly were just ‘programs’. But as they wandered the amusement park, Nel’s fears doubts grew as she saw many costumed people looking like the people she knew from home. Some of them resembled her fallen comrades and there was one lady who dressed similarly to her queen. For a moment, Nel thought she was the queen, but logic reminded her that it should be impossible. A split second later, she caught sight of the woman’s face and was further dispelled of any thoughts of her being Romeria.

Her world was made for playing, wasn’t it?

“Ugh! A lot of good these translators do! I can’t read all of the text around here. I have no clue where to search,” Fayt complained after they found themselves walking around in a complete circle.

“Maybe we should start going in teleporters and asking everyone inside,” Sophia suggested, appearing a little tired.

“We could,” Maria agreed before a look of doubt crossed her features, “but they might find that suspicious.”

Nel was traveling at the back with Albel and Peppita, while ignoring the fact that the circus girl was holding the end of her scarf again. She allowed it since some part of her was afraid the girl would run off to play if she didn’t hold on to something. But the spy suddenly halted when she noticed lettering on the translucent floor.

“I think I found it!” she called out to the others as she pointed to the words. “It says ‘Eternal Sphere’, isn’t that what we’re looking for?”

She then glanced over to the transporter the sign was pointing to. When she looked back, she found the others staring at her strangely.

“Hey Nelly, are you saying you can actually read that?” Cliff inquired as he gave her a confused look.

I can read it, maggot,” Albel answered in her place before he commented on it being the second thing he could read since leaving the planet- the first being the lettering on the Time Gate itself.

“Are you saying you can’t?” the spy asked while wondering how that was possible.

“We can read some of it, but not everything translates well for us,” Maria explained before she glanced at Fayt and Sophia with a little concern, “How is this possible?”

“Actually, now that I think about it…” Fayt began before he told of his revelations upon reading King Airyglyph’s personal library. He found that most of the books in Elicoor had similar characters as the writings on the Time Gate.

For whatever reason, 4D space and Elicoor used a similar language. On one hand, that was to be expected since it was established that 4D beings created their universe. But on the other, why was Elicoor the only one that shared the speech and writing? Every other planet had its own language- sometimes even more than one. There had to have been some kind of connection between Elicoor and 4D space- and Nel wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with that thought.

“Well, whatever the reason, we know where to go now, right?” Cliff prodded once he grew tired of trying to figure out the mystery.

Since there was no way to get an answer, everyone agreed with that logic and headed towards the teleporter. Inside was an attendant that informed them what the terminal was used for and the current restrictions to the Milky Way. When Fayt requested to continue on, she began chanting, using nonsensical words in the form of a spell. Had Nel not been aware of teleporting, she would’ve thought the woman was using advanced runology, but the ‘rune’ that appeared on the floor was counterfeit.

The room they were sent to was a rather eerie place to the spy. It was dark and had strange noises as random circles and gears turned above them. The entire place seemed to be dome shaped and the light source came from the glowing decorations near the place where the dome met the floor and from under the platform they were standing on.

“Hmph, what do we do now?” Cliff wondered after everyone was done looking around.

“I think we can change the settings with that device there,” Sophia replied as she pointed to a small circular terminal in the lowered portion of the room.

Maria slowly approached the device and watched carefully as two panels closed behind her to create a seat for her. When she realized what happened, she sat down and slowly began using the glowing keypad and screen that appeared.

For once, Nel was useful for something other than fighting as she watched over Maria’s shoulder with Fayt and Sophia. Maria could get a general gist of what little she could read, but she occasionally asked Nel to translate some of the words in areas that seemed important.

But she was still lost to the technological jargon and had to sit back and watch them discuss the first issue of an ID disk that the terminal wanted. Thankfully, the disk Flad gave them was enough to get them in without registering, but as everyone had warned, access to their galaxy was forbidden. They seemed to be stuck.

Suddenly, Sophia seemed to have an idea and nodded to herself to work up the courage to give it a try.

“Excuse me, can I try?” she asked Maria in a timid, but polite tone.

“Sure, I don’t mind,” the blue haired girl replied as she stood up.

The brunette didn’t bother to sit down. She just inched closer to the device like she was afraid to touch it. She cautiously stuck out her index finger and prepared to tap it, but once she made contact, there was a loud electric noise. For a moment Nel thought she had worked up some static electricity, but there was no way for a human to gather enough power to damage another human, let alone a large machine like that.

The girl jumped back at the noise before all the gears slowed down and then began to gradually turn again. Images began to appear, like with the Time Gate and the main screen before the terminal turned red. Suddenly the words ‘welcome, system administrator’ formed. Nel had no clue what that meant, but it seemed to shock and excite Maria.

“I can’t believe it. I’ve got system administrator privileges.” No one was sure if that was a good thing or not, but it seemed they now had the access they needed to get to where they wanted.

“All I did was touch it. I thought maybe I could do something, like I did with the Time Gate. I’m sorry…” Sophia apologized with a bow when she thought she did something wrong. The poor thing didn’t realize that she had actually done something very good.

“You used the power of Connection,” Fayt muttered as he figured out what happened, “I can’t believe it actually works in this dimension, too!”

Maria soon busied herself in entering the correct information and left something called ‘trojans’ (a term Nel never heard before) so she could access certain areas any time she wanted. Nel had been curious how the blue haired girl was entering this information without knowledge of the language, but she assumed that it was her power of Alteration was that compensating for that.

Maria soon didn’t need the spy’s help and she ended up wandering over to Albel as they waited for the girl to finish. The two Elicoorians started discussing random things about what to expect when trying out the Eternal Sphere terminal. If it truly led to their world, then they probably needed to prepare for the worst. Executioners could be lying in wait for them- and they could pick up information that the creatures had infiltrated their planet.

Nel hoped that they wouldn’t, but if the Creator wanted to destroy the entire galaxy, then they would be targets as well. Elicoor had no chance against the Executioners…

Fayt soon came up to talk with them, asking if they had any more questions or if they needed clarification on anything.

“No, I think I understand enough- we just need to confirm if the Eternal Sphere is truly our world and then come back to finish what we came here to do,” Nel replied, speaking like she was giving a report to the queen. She made it sound like such a simple task even though she knew it was going to be a very hard battle.

“You don’t seem bothered by the idea that we could’ve been created by someone,” Fayt noted, a little incredulous to the idea.

“I’m not,” she responded calmly. “In my religion, we were taught that Apris created our world and our people and that everything happens because of his will. What I’m hearing is not that much different, but it’s at a larger scale.”

But Nel didn’t believe so much in the ‘will of Apris’ anymore. Albel was right- everything that happened was at the hands of the one responsible. Apris didn’t take her father away. Woltar did- and her father was the one who decided to go on that mission in the first place. The only thing Apris (or any god for that matter) did was make a planet for them to live on and gave them means to shape themselves into the people they were today.

“But there’s more to it than that,” Fayt protested as he shook his head. “If we are just programs, then wouldn’t that make our lives meaningless? We could be just created for someone’s amusement.”

“Okay… Done!” Maria announced before Nel could reply. The boy didn’t even wait for her answer. He quickly rushed over to Maria so he could find out once and for all if what Flad said was true.

“Where would you like to go?” Maria asked once everyone was gathered around.

“Anywhere’s fine with me,” Sophia replied before Peppita casually mentioned that she was curious about how Moonbase was doing.

Cliff caught on to what the circus performer was trying to do and crossed his arms. “I wonder what Mirage and the rest of them are up to. I hope the Executioners didn’t get them.”

Nel knew they were trying to convince Fayt to let them visit their loved ones, but she had her concerns as well. She wanted to see Clair and the others and make sure her home was safe. She had been away for so long…

The spy walked up close to Fayt and tried to keep the cloying tone out of her voice as she added her request. “I’m worried about Astor and the others. Can we try going to my planet?”

At the mention of her cousin’s name, Fayt perked up. She knew he would be interested in seeing him again despite the trauma they had been going through. It didn’t take the boy long to pick her request over the others. Nel hid her smirk of victory as Peppita stuck her tongue out at the spy and Cliff narrowed his eyes at her and mouthed ‘low blow’.

Some part of her did feel bad about currying Fayt’s favor like that, but Peppita’s troupe and Maria’s crew could easily protect themselves and hide away from the Executioners- her planet could not.

“So you want to check out Elicoor II?” Maria confirmed as she turned back to the console. “Okay, let’s go.”

There was a bright flash of light and a strange sound. Sophia let out a startled yelp before the room completely faded and they found themselves outside in a very familiar terrain. They were in Kirlsa/Aire Hills.

“Hey, this is…” Fayt trailed off as he looked around.

“This would be…” Nel couldn’t finish her sentence. She felt like her breath was taken away as her eyes swept over the rocky plain.

“Hmph, a boring world,” Albel muttered, finishing her sentence.

He didn’t seem that impressed, but Nel had missed Elicoor. She never thought she would ever feel homesick, but the sudden joy of being home welled up inside her.

“Unbelievable that we made it this far and we didn’t even have to use the Time Gate,” Cliff commented in amazement.

“I guess we have no choice but to believe what Flad was telling us,” Maria said in a more solemn tone.

Nel still didn’t understand why they couldn’t take in the idea of being created like she could. Was it really a bad thing to have an explanation of how an entire universe existed? Or were they more worried about the intentions of the Creator? She could see why it was a problem to have someone out there who could destroy them with a thought, but after what she had seen in 4D space, she didn’t think the Creator had that kind of power. If he did, he wouldn’t need Executioners.

“If that’s true, then the death of my father… and Ameena and Dion- that was all part of some program?” Fayt shook his head and looked to be on the verge of a breakdown. It was then Nel began to understand why he was so upset- he thought he wasn’t real and that all the sacrifices and deeds they had done were meaningless.

But, as Maria began to explain, they were real. They were living, breathing beings who lived just as any creature of any dimension did. It didn’t matter if they were ‘programs’ or fictional characters to the 4D beings- they were alive and this was their world. Even if the Creator made their world, they weren’t going to just roll over and die for him. They were going to fight and protect their home- just as any ‘real’ person would.

“Whether we’re real or not, let’s not mope about it. You’re pathetic,” Albel commented with a sneer. He was right, even though he could’ve used a little more tact when saying it. Fayt wasn’t in the right mood to tolerate his harsh observations. It took Sophia to calm the boy down, using soothing words of encouragement.

“…All right,” he relented as he forced a smile on his face. “Besides, if we give up now, we’ll let down my father and the crew of the Aquaelie.”

“That’s right. We’re not done yet. We still gotta lay the smack down on that Creator for what he’s done to us,” Cliff reminded him with his usual ‘tough guy’ gesture.

“It’s going to be dangerous,” the blue haired boy warned, feeling a little better.

“If this isn’t worth risking our lives for, what is?” Nel inquired earning a real smile from the boy. Someone had to face the Creator. If they didn’t, everyone was doomed.

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“But…can we really beat the Creator, a 4D being?” Sophia asked, bringing on a good point. Even though most of the 4D beings they’ve encountered seem to be ordinary people, that didn’t mean the Creator was a pushover. He could have top-notch security or has knowledge in the art of fighting.

“Of course we can,” Maria affirmed without a second thought. “We defeated the security team, so we know we can hurt them.”

That was true- this was basically just another battle and another war they had to win. Everything depended on their ability to persevere and fight. If they could defeat Crosell and stand against the Vendeeni using only primitive weapons, then surely they could take on a man who created them.

But even with their newfound determination, they were still a little stunned at the fact that their world was just a game to another dimension. Fayt couldn’t help but ask that they look around for a while to really confirm that this was really the Elicoor they visited a long time ago. Since they were closer to Kirlsa, they headed over there.

Nel had long since gotten over her surprise, but she didn’t mind his order to stay a bit more. It felt like she hadn’t been home for months and she wanted to at least contact Clair somehow to let her know that she was still alive. She wanted to tell her about the things she had seen and tell her about the possible threat that was coming to their planet.

There was so much to tell and yet so little time- and there was no telling if Clair was in Arias at that moment. Chances were high that she wouldn’t get to see her before leaving, but she knew she could find a contact in Kirlsa to leave a message.

As long as Clair knew she was alive, that should be enough, right?

To the Next Chapter

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