Worlds Adrift Chapter 80

Happy Spooky Day, all of you. Otherwise known as All Hallows Eve or —apologies for anyone offended by this— Halloween. Ew. Just saying it makes me feel the inordinate amount of candy. 


The stroll back to the headquarters of the Tunnel Rats was a relaxing experience for Mary. She had been stressed out for the last few days and she was happy to have the time to simply talk with Abe. The difference between their two worlds was a common talking point for the both of them, and they had a great time learning about each other’s world. [So, you’re telling me that you don’t have rice here?] Abe asked.

[If rice is what you described it as, then no. No rice. The closest thing I can think of is a fruit that grows on trees with seeds that are almost identical to what you were talking about. They have these spiky rinds and tall leaves on the top that make them interesting to look at.] she replied.

[That’s just a pineapple with rice in the middle!] Abe shouted, [Alright, do you at least have apples?]

[Oh yeah, we do. Those are the medium sized blue fruits, right?]


[I’m guessing not?]

[It’s just a giant blueberry, isn’t it…? Alright, do you at least have something like wheat?]

[Wheat… Oh, the grain that grows on stalks, right?]

[Yes! That! They grow in fields and they have the seeds that are edible?]

[No, they grow out of bushes. The stocks sprout from branches near the outer parts of their bush. I heard that it’s mostly used as a way to secure energy in the winter, which is why they are seasonal plants when farmed.] she replied.

Abe took a moment to calm down, [Ugh… let’s stop talking about this. I think I’m just making myself sad for no reason. Anyway, no one’s following you.] 

Mary quickly glanced around, taking in the buildings built next to the cliff, [Thanks. Let’s go.] She leaped off of the cliff and dived down. Before she hit the water, she sent mana into her shoes as she faced them at the ocean. A blast of air sent her careening into the cliff, but she caught a ledge before she fell to the rocky ground beneath the cliff. Dusting herself off, she sauntered over to the entrance of the base and walked past the guards, who paid her no mind. 

She made her way through the underground town and past the stone houses. Eventually, she found her way to Gel’s house and opened the door without any thoughts. She walked into the familiar living room but found an odd scene. On the couch, Huk, a young elf man, and Richard were sitting next to each other. Gel and a filzad woman were sitting on the armchairs. [That woman over there, with the extra pair of arms and long claws, that’s a Filzad. They’re pretty rare, but they are masters of mana,] she explained to Abe in the moment they had before the room took notice of her. Abe sent a mental nod in response.

Looking around the room, she sighed and looked between Huk and Gel, “What happened? I haven’t even been gone for more than a few hours and there’s already a party going on here.”

The filzad woman sized Mary up slowly, her eyes tracing her body in ways that would have made her cringe were it not for her fusion with Abe and the new perspective it brought. The woman grinned and silently beckoned for her to come closer. Mary held her ground. The woman’s grin spread even wider as she looked towards Huk, “You didn’t tell her who the other officers were?” she asked.

“No, Gina, I didn’t. We’ve had her here for barely two days, so she shouldn’t have to know everything by now,” Huk sighed, “Sorry, Mary, but Gina and Tilman caught wind of our plan. Good work, though. How did you find a computer in the Hall of Cardinals so quickly?” he asked.

Mary’s mind did not falter, but she was stuck; she did not want to share Abe’s secret so readily, but she did not have any sort of enchanted item that she could show to them to prove how she got into the Hall of Cardinals. Before she could continue, Abe shot a mental message to her, [Tell them about the janitor’s closet and the computer. From there…]

Inspiration struck but Mary made no show of it, only running it by Abe who agreed with her simple solution. The conversation took barely a third of a second, and she was able to respond before it became noticeable that she thought about her answer, “Well, I found a computer in the janitor’s closet. One of the back hallways is really dark, and there aren’t any cameras. So, when he left to throw out garbage, I snuck in and plugged the drive into his computer. After that, it was only one hallway and a tired janitor between me and freedom. Not very interesting, but for some reason the back door was unguarded,” she answered. 

All present raised a suspicious brow at her testimony, but Gel spoke before anyone could ask questions, “I can attest to that. They have pretty fearsome security in general, but I’ve been able to get a layout of the building so far. Apparently, that back hallway was meant for the janitorial staff, and there’s a checkpoint further into the building that is in front of all of the important stuff. Too bad for them, they never thought someone could actually get in through their janitors’ computer,” he stated.

The suspicion in the room was laid to rest and everyone relaxed. Mary grabbed a chair from the kitchen table and sat between Gina and Gel. She looked between the two unfamiliar people and then to Huk, “So, I can guess that Gina here is an officer. Is the elf gentleman sitting next to you one as well?”

Huk winced ever so slightly, but nodded. The elven demi-human stood and made an exaggerated bow, “Filonious Pious Bouchious. Officer of the Liberator Army of Olsvania. And the best bowman you’ve ever seen,” he finished with a grin, likely provocative, but Mary was so far removed from the art of archery that she saw nothing but confidence in it.

She returned the bow with a less exaggerated one, “Pleasure to meet you. Mary Grant. Enchanter and swordswoman.”

Huk sighed and Gina grinned at the man, “Heh! Look at that Pious, you’ve got a buddy to spout pleasantries with!” she laughed, earning annoyed glares from the both of them, “What? Tell me you don’t think the same!”

“I don’t think the same,” he responded flatley.

“I don’t think the same either,” Mary said. A thankful look ran through the elf’s eyes, but his gaze returned to Gina.

“Aww, come on, don’t be like that! Richy, you’re on my side, right?” she asked with a heavenly smile that seemed dangerous to everyone in the room.

Richard, who was simply drinking a cup of coffee while the discussion was going on, flinched a bit in her gaze and placed his cup on the table, making sure a coaster was beneath it. He turned to Pious with an apologetic smile, “Sorry, but your introduction is a bit old fashioned. And self aggrandizing. And just a bit overly long. Sorry, but I have to side with her here.”

Pious grumbled a bit, “You just have no idea how important first impressions are. It was for that reason that Huk was sent as the ambassador; he looks like the most capable one among us.”

“And I am the most capable one among us in pure combat. None of you have been able to take me down on your own a single time. Not even the brick wall of a woman over there,” he added, pointing at the filzard woman.

She shrugged in response, “Hey, I’m not the one who had to jam a computer in my head to keep up with everyone else,” she replied tauntingly.

“Not entirely correct,” Pious mentioned, “You have to have a serious wealth of will to be able to keep the implant in check, so he technically has more metal fortitude than the rest of us. Including you, Gina.”

“Well, you two-” Gina stopped her words when Gel sighed while looking at his laptop. Her gaze caught the attention of the others in the room, which brought their attention to Gel. 

After a moment, he sighed, “Sorry, they have an absolute lock here. I need the password to get in and I don’t think there’s a way around that. Do any of you have an idea?” he asked. 

Everyone in the room wore thinking faces, but Mary heard Abe in her mind, [Password1. Something like that.] he said.

[Password1? Isn’t that a bit, y’know, basic for the masterkey of the entire Purity Union?] she asked, confused.

Abe mentally deadpanned, [Mary. In my world, weapons that could kill billions were locked behind codes that were literally a string of zeros for decades. Unless something brought attention to the problem, no one would have changed it. Or at least I think so,] he replied, [Or it could be arrogance again, like always.]

She mentally nodded and returned her attention to the room around her, where no one had come up with an idea, “Try Password1. Uppercase P.”

Gel glared at her a bit, “Really? They would obviously have something more than that to protect their secrets.”

Shrugging, she walked over behind his chair, “Hey, they probably haven’t had a serious break-in attempt yet, so they’re arrogant. And besides, security is simply projecting the illusion of impregnability. A determined enough attacker moved beyond a threat such a system could handle. At that point, it’s a matter of cyberwarfare,” she replied. 

Gel tried to form a rebuttal, but failed in doing so. He eventually gave in and typed the guess. To his utter shock, the password worked and he was given access. He placed the laptop on the coffee table and held his head in his hands, “All that time trying to get into the system and that is all they had as their last line of defense? How did they even get into power in the first place?” he wondered aloud.

“Popular support,” Gina replied, mirrored by the other two officers.

Mary tilted her head at the response while Gel nodded glumly and went back to his laptop, “Wait,” she said, “when did they get in because of popular support? I thought they seized power.”

Huk, Pious, and Gina all stared at her for a moment before silently shaking their heads. “That’s not how it happened,” Richard said from the side, “They were voted in. Through democratic processes. Did you not know that?”

Mary’s mind went blank for a long moment before she absentmindedly shook her head, “No. No I didn’t.”

“Kid, that’s why we fight so reservedly,” Huk mentioned, “If we were to engage in full-scale war, then we’d be overrun by paramilitary scumbags. Honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t notice. You-”

“Stop that for a second, this is a bit more important,” Gel said, drawing attention to him, “They’re planning a sweep in six days. We’ve got to get everyone out by then…”


So. Happy Spooky Day, and I hope you all have a wonderful night, and I hope you enjoyed.

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