“Second Leader Yurnal”, Zax frowned. He was willing to turn a blind eye to his attitude, but if his effort will be carelessly disregarded, than he will draw a clear line to stress his position in the chain. “First, if there is something I want to say, then either listen or don’t, but forget from telling me to stay quiet. Second, my agreement with senior Gid was to join as an outside contractor. Even if you count me as the seventy fifth member of Sinister Chain, keep in mind that I’m not doing a voluntary service”. His tone was harsh and he did not bother with watching for offending Yurnal too much. With him after the Black Core in Yurnal’s possession, their chance for friendly relations was meager, at best.
“Insolent child, you can’t even begin to comprehend what sacrifices had been done for your poor sake as an indigenous of New Earth. If it was not for the success in your task, I would have etched each one of them on your skin so you would know and not forget”.
It was not just Zax’s impudence that made Yurnal implode, but also the bottled up anger he contained since hearing about what transpired with his wife and son while he was on a mission.
Hostile intent started emanating from the two.
The fifty members of the chain responded with trying to calm Yurnal, stepping back or sharing the same dissatisfaction with Zax.
“Settle down!” Gid Chu berated. “Yurnal, you yourself told me to hurry up with the plan, yet you ignite such disarray! Zax, whatever else you have in mind, keep it for later. Gadgel, Xiao Kirin, show Zax the cave. Everyone who is curious on whether today we will have a historic development in our battle against the five powers, wait outside the central edifice”.
With a look that says “this is not over”, Yurnal turned away, leaving in flight with most present members to the squared building at the center of the colony, the central edifice.
“Senior Gid”, Zax called him right before he, too, left.
Halting midair and seemingly able to read his mind, Gid said before Zax could speak. “You have done more than I can compliment for, Zax, you will naturally be rewarded for it”. He turned and flew.
No one said anything about the Solar Basil Leaf or the Diluted Element. They sure thought about them, but it was not the appropriate time for several reasons.
“Brother Zax”. The two that stayed behind, Gadgel and Xiao Kirin, repressed any unpleasant opinion they might have had on Zax, due to his confrontation with the Second Leader, and concentrated on his achievement to summon a genial mien.
“Brother Gadgel, sister Xiao Kirin”. Zax nodded. The mores of “brother” or “sister” were more common in New Earth than Ercas Mir. Being referred to as a “brother” produced a favorable first impression for the pair in Zax’s eyes. “Are you from New Earth?”
“I am”. The thin, pale skinned and fluffy light brown haired Gadgel said. “Roughly three hundred years ago immigrated to the surface with the help of Leader and Supreme Ruler Trey”.
“And I was born right here in this cave’s colony”. The red haired, reddish skinned Xiao Kirin said with a smile, amused by the abrupt surprise that plastered on Zax’s face. “See there?” She pointed at the colony to clarify. “Leader and Second Master established the colony, actually, created this cave, for members of the chain who built families in Ercas Mir. Usually the population isn’t that big, near full capacity as today, but after Leader and Second Master were informed of the success in your mission, afraid that the reprisal from the five powers will not discriminate between the innocent and guilty, they ordered the seventy two of us to bring back our families from the outside”.
“Brother Zax, Leader asked us to show you the cave, but there is not much to see and even if there was something, any Martial Mortal could use Sublime Soul Sense to browse the entire cave, except the central edifice”. Gadgel tapped Zax’s shoulder. “My guess was that he wanted to separate you and Second Leader. We all heard what happened with Savir and Yimin. Even if you did not really harm them, you should know how difficult it is for beasts and humans to procreate. The scare you gave Second Leader justified his outburst”.
“Are you, too, trying to make peace?” Zax raised his brow. If Gadgel wanted to get involved it was fine, but until Yurnal willingly give up the Black Core, any sort of peace would only be temporary.
“I am”. Gadgel confessed. “Sadly I can’t force it. So just considered what I said and if, in the end, you and Second Leader will come to blows, be sure not to involve the people in here, not that I think this solution will be in your favor”.
“Anyway”, Xiao Kirin said to mend the air. “Now that you know Leader’s intentions, it doesn’t matter if we’ll wonder around the cave or join the others. Maybe with you, the ‘Bringer of the Galactic Communicator’, we’ll be allowed in the central edifice”.
“Sorry to trouble you”. Zax followed the two. His impression of them did not change for inclining toward a natural stance on the matter between him and Yurnal.
The colony was the size of a small town, with most building being private houses and a few communal. Since it was a place of convergence more than the actual home of many of the beasts and humans here, its residents had a general familiarity with each other. The cause for the chummy ambiance was the mutual connection everyone shared, roots to another world below the ground. To them, who lived in Ercas Mir, able to learn about New Earth from their elders and at a certain age and make to decision of moving to the undersea cave, the idea of originating from the same place, somewhere the majority of them would likely die from old age before ever visiting, made them look at each other as distant relatives in times when they converged.
“Are you two married?” Zax inquired upon noticing the closeness between Gadgel Xiao Kirin.
Staring at each other and sharing a smile, the pair turned their heads to Zax.
“We did not have a ceremony, but you can say that we are both the other one’s significant other”. Gadgel said.
“For more than a century, since we began practicing the formation together…” Xiao Kirin emphasized.
‘Companion’s Link formation’. Zax speculated. The members of the chain were split into pairs just because of this formation and whoever practiced it was practically bound to nurture romantic feelings. “So you also have a family here?”
As they walked together along the roads of the colony, which was fairly technologically advanced to support the needs of its provisional residents, Zax recognized few of the fifty members of the chains that accompanied Gid Chu and Yurnal mixed with the non cultivators population.
Core Masters and Martial Mortals dealing in the mundane. In New Earth, each one of them would be the patriarch, matriarch of a family or leader of a tribe with younger generations under them dealing with material matters, while they cultivate undisturbed.
“A son, a daughter and several grandchildren. Neither are cultivators, sadly”. Xiao Kirin.
Seeing the indiscreet “that’s all” look slowly forming on Zax’s face, Gadgel followed up, saying. “Our trade as world renowned criminals is not exactly safe and here is not New Earth. Finding the time to raise children, much less care for an entire family, is impossible in this conditions. That is why members of the chain can live here in such unity with non cultivators. Maybe when the threat of the five powers won’t hover above our heads we’ll be able to indulge in fostering fame and status among other great families and clans”. He uttered a hearty chuckle.
The central edifice was a fifty five cubic meters structure with no windows and one entrance. Typically all members of the chain could go in and out of it freely, but on occasions when crucial operations were taking place, only those involved were allowed entry.
“You can’t go in”. Two of the seven Chaoyue type beasts, Martial Mortals of the third level, stood on guard at the entrance, blocking thirty six of the present fifty two members of the chain in the cave.
One was a raven half a meter tall with one leg, four wings and multicolored feathers, Rainbow Raven. The other was nine meters tall, four legged, and white furred, six eyes wolf with head about as big as the rest of its body, White Jawed Beast.
“Zax-” Concerned for how he may react, Gadgel said with the intent to explain.
“I can wait”. Zax cut him, crossed his arms and kept standing in front the two beasts. He could understand why Gid Chu would not want a crowd within the central edifice, at the moment. When things will be finished inside, then he will intrude to learn whether his task was in vain or not and to receive what the chain owe him.
An half an hour passed and the White Jawed Beast’s ears perked. “New guy”, he turned to Zax. “Leader and Second Leader ask for your attendance. Gadgel, you and your spouse should show him the way”.
Soul Sense could not work in the central edifice and the building had five storeys with corridors and varied room. To get to Gid Chu with haste, Zax needed guidance and the couple benefited from being assigned to him.
“You really angered Second Master”. Xiao Kirin whispered in a sigh. She and Gadgel also received the order through their communicators and it came from Yurnal. If Gid Chu was busy than the Second Leader could directly send message to Zax, but he ended up using a middleman.
The central edifice was comprised of straight corridors and five the ten room in each storey.
“There are rooms invested for different plans, separately each of the five powers. Labs, cultivation chambers and rooms only selected members with special authority can enter”. Xiao Kirin said as they took the elevator to the fourth floor. “Every room, which we more often use the term ‘Vault’ to refer to, has a letter that indicates the level of clearance needed to enter it, followed by the number of the floor it’s situated in, a dimensions number and ID number. Vaults with the letter ‘C’ demand the highest clearance level and a dimensions number means how many such rooms the chain overall has in all of our bases. The C-4.2.1 vault is the super computer room and usually no one enters it but Leader, Second Master and maybe four more members, so no matter what, don’t start a fight with Second Master”.
The doors to the C-4.2.1 vault opened sideways automatically. Inside was a room similar to the communication room in the Grand Abode.
Next to large control panel and a wall size screen were Gid Chu, Yurnal and six men and women, four of which humans, the last two beasts in human form.
The Galactic Communicator was connected to the control panel and an elderly looking, bald headed man, alongside Gid Chu, sat beside the communicator and typed on a lengthy keyboard.
“Boy, come here immediately!” Yurnal snapped the moment the doors opened. While he looked furious, Gid Chu and the other six had complicated looks of frustration on their faces. “Are you deaf as well as half incompetent? Now come here to explain!”