"Outsmarted again", a soldier behind me sighs in despair. I turn my head slightly towards him as I throw him a judging look. It annoys me more than I'd like to admit, but Aquilas has been steps ahead of us once more. "The coward is hiding in one of the dungeons!", another soldier firmly reports while running towards me from the east. His face is covered in blood, but looking seemingly proud of what information he is about to share. He clears his left eye by brushing his sleeve over his eyebrow and he continues after catching his breath. "I was chasing a couple of creatures in Anatu and they fled into the dungeons. I followed them and quickly hid myself when I heard someone shouting orders. I couldn't see clearly but I think it was him."
I follow the soldier to the entrance of Anatu dungeon. During our walk there's nothing but silence. Mixed emotions are evident when noticing all the fallen soldiers. It's excruciating to see some trying to keep it together while obviously having lost a friend. I try to ignore the ambivalence of it all and focus on my goal. We near the entrance and I wave the soldiers to stand guard outside. Distant chatter gets more noticeable as I proceed. A soft "ding" sounds and then.. nothing.
Carefully I enter a big hall which merely contains some high tech equipment. Other than that, not much. No Aquilas, no creatures, nothing of the sorts. I grow more suspicious by the second. Is this some kind of trap? If this was him, he must know I'm here. I walk towards the center of the hall and notice an elevator. A chill shoots through my spine as I press the button that immediately turns green. Ding, the door opens. I'm looking at myself in a mirror that's hanging in the back of the elevator. I look worried. Now's not the time for doubt. I softly growl through my throat, clench my fists and step in. The door closes as I notice a camera in the top right corner. A red light is blinking underneath it. I look straight into it for a solid 10 seconds as the elevator started moving down without pressing any buttons. "You can't run from me this time, Aquilas!", I shout, hoping that he will hear this. I'm ready to confront whatever is coming at the other end of the door. The temperature suddenly drops rapidly and the elevator stops. I brace myself by getting into a fighting position. Soft soulless whispers that I can't make sense of can be heard through the door. Ding.
Fine sand gets blown over the desert floor, making it dance as if silk-like blankets are being softly dragged over it. I dig my right hand in the warm sand until I can feel it getting a little colder below the top layer. My back and my head are leaning against a giant rock as I am holding my breath. I can hear soft tapping sounds getting closer, right around the corner. I look to my left and gesture to the rescued soldiers to stay alert and keep quiet. I look back and see another huge spider slowly moving past us over a dead, huge-fisted desert ape. Sneakily I launch a powerful attack at it, flipping it on its back. A soldier comes rushing past me to finish the job. I try to yell "stop", but as I mutter the first two letters the spider releases a shockfield that zaps the soldier backwards. I quickly put the spider out of its misery and aid the soldier. He is hurt pretty bad, but he will live.
During our trip back the soldiers are chanting to take on Sky City. They sing songs and replace lyrics with my name to praise me for saving them. Morale is high and I can't refrain myself from cracking a few smiles, but deep down I fear for what is to come. Once we get back everyone will rest and gather information to create a plan. A plan to invade Sky City and take down its leader, Aquilas.
It's hard to grasp sleep with the macabre thoughts of the soldiers' fates if they aren't prepared well. But, after an hour of twisting and turning I get a much needed rest. In the morning I consult the Officer and together we decide on our strategies. We inform the soldiers and prepare for take-off.
Once in the spacepod, set for Anatu, the soldiers try to keep the morale high by singing their songs. Some are quiet and gaze ahead in fear for their lives. Others crack some jokes or have a light conversation. I try to focus on the plan, which contains multiple missions. When executed the right way, we should be getting close to Aquilas. Close enough to confront him at least. I feel confident to take him on, although my confidence somehow feels naive. I have no idea what or who I will face in the end. The spacepod launches and the chatting and the singing continues.
After a short amount of time the "get ready" light turns green, which indicates we are about to land. Through small round windows I can see a beautiful and, apart from the crowds of monsters, seemingly clean city. The chatter turns into focused silence when the whirring sounds of the engines stop and the gate opens. I go outside first and look around. The air feels rather cold, but not in a bad way. All the streets and buildings are well lit. The landing spot is small, but nicely put together. Our first mission starts here, to weaken their defense, but so far I don't see anyone or anything near us. That is until an exploding shot echoed between the building and a fiery projectile hit one of the soldiers behind me in the left leg. He screamed in pain as I jumped over the railing and went for the shooter. Only to stand face to face with a cyborg-like cop standing on a big floating scooter next to his shooting buddy, both ready to launch an attack on me. I smirked and dodged their first attack. Aquilas, we're here.
A dull thud sounds when the seemingly last Space Pirate drops dead in front me. “I think that was all of them. I.. I don’t see any more movement on the camera’s, besides yours”, the co-pilot announces through a speaker behind me. I sense no relief in his tone. I sit down to inspect my wounds carefully. The cold steel feels refreshing after such horrendous fights, trying to keep the ship safe. “Are you okay?”, the co-pilot asks. I wave to a nearby camera, after which a strict “Okay, good” follows. My facial expression changes as I wonder what they aren’t telling me. I look up at the camera and shrug my shoulders, making a hand gesture as if I were to ask them what the hell is going on? Silence follows.
While making sure all of my wounds are inspected, the spaceship makes a sudden sharp turn. I tumble over the floor and I can barely prevent my head from banging into a wall. The speaker makes a cracking sound, followed by a distance grunt. Again, silence. The cracking then continues for a solid four seconds. “We’re being attacked, hold on! Grab something!”, the captain now shouts. A little too late. Another turn, another tumble, followed by zapping sounds and the weaker emergency lights kicking in. The rooms around me light up in bright red colors for a split second with each zap. Are we getting shot at? I grab onto a railing and fear for my life. I really don’t want to die, especially after getting this far. I shout and wave at the camera, but there’s no response.
After what feels like forever the captain quickly asked: “Can you manage to get to one of the escape pods? We will release you once you’re in.” Between the maneuvers I try to bolt to the nearest escape pod. Dead Space Pirates are sliding over the floor, hitting things left and right. Glasses and plates smashing into pieces in the dining area. Red lights flashing as I jump over a RockBeast that is sliding around in a pile of its own blood. “You’re almost there”, a speaker sounds in the distance. I see the door and I steadily crawl towards it along some pipes. While doing so I see the door has a codelock, to which I don’t know the code. It appears I don’t need it, because the light turns green and the door opens. “Thanks, cap” I sigh in relief.
Once inside, the door immediately shuts and the light next to it turns red. “Buckle up, we’re about to send you off. We’re setting the coordinates for your pod as we speak. We will try to crash land the ship so we can use its warp pod to get back to earth. Safe travels, my friend”, the captain says and the speaker goes silent. I fasten the seatbelts and I hope for the best. The pod is slowly tilting and a couple of hissing sounds indicate I’m about to set off to whatever location is ahead of me. Some sort of booster ignites and I can feel the pod has let go off the ship. My heart is racing and I’m grabbing the seatbelts with both hands, tightly. Nothing is in my control and I don’t like it.
My thoughts get interrupted by a beeping sound. I look at the panel and see an orange light blink. I can’t read what it says, but I definitely want to know what’s wrong. After unbuckling I steadily walk towards the panel and about halfway there I can already read the orange light stating: “Landing kit failure”. My heart sinks and I look out the window. The desert-like landscape is rapidly coming closer. I can see thrusters on the front kick in to slow down the landing, but it feels like it won’t be enough. I don’t bother looking at the panel to see if I can fix things and instead I run to the nearest seat as fast as I can while partially slipping over a piece of paper. I quickly fasten the right seat belt and try to do the same for the left one. It’s too tight, so I try to loosen it, but.. Darkness ensues..
I wake up and the first thing I notice is how painful my ribs feel. My face is warm and my right arm feels tingling cold. During this realization I slowly open my eyes and see that I’m hanging just above the ground. Almost half of the pod has been crushed by the impact and luckily I'm on the good side. I try to wiggle myself loose while blood pours back to my right arm and let myself drop to the sandy ground. My left hand lands in a pile of green goo and when I follow its path I see a man-like creature in a yellow space suit cut in half by debris. “Unlucky fella”, I think. Two red laser dots appear on the ground next to me. They seem to scan the vicinity and I look up at a broken window. A giant ball-shaped robot focusses its lasers on me and it starts making an awful screeching sound, like it is warning others. It shoots the window into pieces. Briefly I feel stunned by the extremely high-pitched sound that even pierces the fingers in my ears. More of the oddly similar yellow space suit creatures start crawling through the opening. With adrenaline now rushing I stand up in a powerful motion. Time to cross “killing aliens in space” off my bucket list.
Well aware of the considerable difference in temperature that lays ahead, I'm still dressed lightly when I enter the helicopter. An assistant looks at me with a tender smile and blinks slowly, as if she is trying to comfort me. Although I know things might be very rough by the time this helicopter lands, I feel a certain urge to give into her sweet vibes and let go a little. So I let my head rest as we take off and I doze off almost immediately.
"Are you awake? Hello? Wake up.." a friendly voice speaks patiently as I try to piece words together slowly while waking up. It's the assistant. She has her hand on my shoulder and pushes it with gentle force. "You might want to see this", she continues, while pointing through one of the side windows. Perennial snow covers almost all of the mountain tops. "That's not something you see everyday", the pilot notes rhetorically. However, I cannot seem to really enjoy it. My mind is immediately occupied by all the things Kasham has told me.
"We're going to land over there". The pilot nods to the left and I look down. Frozen-like creatures everywhere.. I can feel my adrenaline kick in and I try to prepare myself mentally. "Be swift when you exit. There is a small town west from here, you'll know what to do when you get there. Believe in Kasham, believe in yourself", the assistant tells me while looking me dead in the eye. It feels like a pep talk and I can use it. She hands over thicker clothes as we start to land. "Go, go, go!" the pilot yells with a little panic in his voice when the assistant opens the door. A part of me is hesitant, but I jump out anyway. Cold wind chafes my face as if sandpaper were to rub it softly. A sensation that is almost instantly interspersed by an instinctual reaction when a giant snow-bull started charging at me. And sadly, many followed.
I decided to talk to some town folks. They all refer me to the north-west, so I continue my journey. It leads me to some kind of entrance to what seems to be a cave. I enter carefully and see beautiful icy walls everywhere around me. It looks like another maze, but I quickly notice this one has a very early dead end.
I stand still for a second as I can faintly hear something moving behind a wall. As I am listening, a shard of ice shatters on the wall in front of me. I turn around, ready for battle, but.. nothing’s there. I look around and out of nowhere I am looking at my own reflection. As if a mirror appeared out of thin air. It takes me a few seconds to realize it’s an icy creature and it flings another shard at me. These things put up a hard fight! There must be a way to get through, but I can’t find it. No cracks in the walls, nothing, and something tells me there’s no way to get through these crystal-like layers of ice. The only thing noteworthy is a hole in the ice next to my left foot. I kneel down and see dim lights underwater that appear to be leading somewhere. “Please, don’t let this be the only way”, I mumble to myself while closing my eyes briefly. I brace myself as laughter suddenly echoes. It appears to be coming from two sources, one higher pitched than the other. Together they are creating a harmonic resonance that makes it seem as if the sounds are dancing with each other.
The laughter stops and turns into a soft whisper, telling me something that I don’t fully understand. My body now trembles with yearning to follow this path. I will go where my fate leads me. I can feel it, I’m close. I take a deep breath and I jump in.
After exploring the Sahara Dungeons you’ve come across a staircase to an unknown area. You walk down and the first thing you notice is a sterile scent combined with that of iron, possibly blood. At first glance the place looks small, but after a while you realize the place is actually much bigger than you’ve expected. Each small corridor seems to lead you to another or with a wide room in between. Although the temperature is much more pleasant than outside in the Sahara desert, you’re still breaking a sweat when fighting the robotic monsters and demon-like lab technicians.
You’re passing a couple of rooms full of computers, which indicates this might have been some sort of workplace or base. “Is this Aquilas’ base?”, you softly whisper to yourself. Most of the computers are off, but some seem to have some juice left in them. As you playfully tap on random keyboards to check which ones respond, the ground shakes for about 3 seconds. A mix of dust and sand falls through cracks in the ceiling as something appears on the screen. A feeling of discomfort comes over you. You can’t figure out what this means, but you know something’s off. Where is this “Aquilas” hiding?
After further investigation it looks like you’ve entered the center of the giant maze, a room with a huge symbol on the floor, covering it almost entirely. You’re looking around and notice it’s resembling a “sun”. As you kneel down to touch the material it’s made of, the ground starts shaking again. You’re facing down with your eyes closed to prevent sand from falling in your eyes. While cautiously opening them you see a shadow on the ground, towering over you. Swallowing the first stress reaction you turn around as you see the silhouette of a gun rising. Is this him?
Alongside their technological advancement, for a few,came even more power from their developing psychic skills,including telepathy and teleportation across vast distances... even to Earth.
But long ago a prophet had foretold that with power comes pride,out of which would grow evil. And so, it was Aguilas who brought a reign of tyranny, war and destruction to Signus.
The people, their planet standing in ruins, prayed for a savior who could free them from his rule. Hoping as was also foretold that out of the devastation a hero, the true 'Sun', would come to save them.Aguilas feared the 'Sun'...
The future of Signus is tied to the Earth over time and space.It is now your turn to live out this story, traveling from present-day urban Earth through the deserts and mountains, and eventually out across space to war-devastated Signus.
Do you have the courage and strength of will to grow beyond a pale red moon and become the one true 'Sun',bringing life and hope to a barren land?