Friday, May 8, 2015

Heart of Darkness

Hey everyone! I know I haven't been active recently, but hopefully I'm back! This is the next Chronicle. I know it has been a long time since my last posted chapter... So it may be a good idea to go and read "Returning to the Gemnodes" over again! This one follows directly after that one. I can promise you one thing, the Chronicle that comes after the one I am posting here gets really interesting! Lots of big events are starting to unfold. Hope you'll let me know what you think.

Dimension Splash Chronicles
Event: Heart of Darkness
Pov: Hiccup, Toothless, Captain America
Time: Year 10.51 of Hiccup and Link’s existence in the game

       Sirens. The thudding of boots. The shouts of commanders. The loading of guns. The president’s quarters was arming itself for assault. As stealthy as Captain America had tried to be, he was not prepared for the new security system that President Grant had installed. All of it was tech from Stark Industries, making it some of the highest performance surveillance materials in the Gemnode’s dimension. Captain America pelted along, sprinting far faster than an ordinary man could. He hurled his shield in between the closing blast doors, keeping them jarred open. Toothless was rushing right behind him, and the dragon was very uncomfortable with the situation. They were stuck indoors, and the facility was flooding with troops. Rogers easily slipped through the crack in the blast doors, but it would not be so as easy for Toothless to make it. The dragon whined angrily, and Hiccup swiveled his head to look behind him. No one had caught up with them yet, but even the blaring sirens could not hide the sound of rushing feet. The most elite military forces of America were chasing them down. 

     Captain America put his hands on either side of he massive blast doors, testing them. Then with huge effort he pried them further apart. “GO.” He yelled, and Toothless wriggled through them. Rogers’ strength buckled just barely after Toothless’s tail swished out of the door, and the huge metal gates slammed together, temporarily sealing the American forces behind them. Hiccup, Toothless, and Captain America were now standing in a huge courtyard. In the center was President Grant’s top security tower. Around them were dozens of watch towers armed with heavy artillery. Many of them were already pointing down towards the intruders, and the floodlights blinded Toothless as he gazed up and roared in protest. Then, out of the dark night air, the synthesized voice of Tony Stark echoed out. “So, Captain America, you’ve finally caught on to my little game.” 

      Rogers turned to see Ironman flying between him and the security tower. The bright red suit blazed in the night, and all its weapons were primed and ready to fire. Steve Rogers yelled up at the armored figure, “This isn’t you, Stark! You don’t have to do this!”

     “On the contrary, he does.” came the reply. The weapons of Ironman gave off their high pitched charge, but just before they blazed forth, a blue bolt of acetylene surged into the sky, blasting the body of Tony Stark to the ground. Shadoo’s mind was furious, and he got to his feet in an instant. He flipped up his visor to see Toothless crouched low with Hiccup on his back. The sensors of the suit had been hindered by the shrouding spheres, but with his own eyes Shadoo could clearly see the most wanted individual in the Gemnodes’ world. Instantly Ironman’s arms shot up again, and with a roar they unleashed a powerful burst of energy. There was a loud gong like noise, a brilliant flash, and Tony Stark’s body when flying backwards yet again. Captain America had leapt in front of the blast and deflected it, and now he was running towards the temporarily stunned Shadoo. As he sprinted forwards he yelled to Hiccup, “You two go. I’ll hold them off. Hurry!” Hiccup was quick to respond. He clicked Toothless’s tail fin into gear, and the dragon beneath him surged into the air. Artillery fire blazed at them from all directions, but Toothless still held fifty two power gems within him, and with these he had the ability to be nearly impossible to hit while in flight. With wraith like elusiveness, Toothless dove and veered around every blast his enemies fired upon him. They did not have much time. Now that Shadoo knew who was attacking him, he could possibly contact the Gemnodes at any moment. 

     Captain America was now locked in hand to hand combat with Stark’s possessed body. The two of them were nearly equal in their possession of power gems, so at this point in the fight it was anyone’s game. At first the gunners in the watch towers hesitated to fire upon a man they had viewed as a national hero, but before long Stark gave the command to fire, and very few of the soldiers did not obey. Ironman broke Captain America’s grip on him and soared out of reach as the artillery fire pummeled the now vulnerable Rogers. Smoke billowed around him as the shells ripped through the concrete as his feet. Captain America hunkered as well as he could beneath his shield, receiving far less injury than his enemies assumed. Then, with a quick jerk, he tilted his shield towards one of the towers, deflecting a flurry of bullets and shrapnel back into the men who had fired them. Steve’s heart sickened to watch the troops fall to their knees, but he had no other choice. Besides, these men would just reappear at the nearest portal. Captain America went to angle his shield towards the next tower, but something blindingly fast rocketed into him. Ironman had slammed into him, gripping him by the neck while flying and dragging him along the ground. The shock of the impact rendered Rogers temporarily helpless. As his back drug against the ground concrete flew in all directions and the life of the power gems quickly began to ebb out of Captain America. 

     Rogers would not lose so easily. He had kept his grip on his shield, and now with his free arm he grabbed hold of Stark’s armored throat. With his other hand he slammed his shield as hard as he could beneath himself, allowing his body to come up off the concrete for a split second. In that moment of freedom, Captain america released his shield, and the weapon quickly slid away from his grasp toward his feet. Then, just as his back was about to slam back against the ground, with unbelievably perfect timing, Captain America kicked both of his feet down hard against his sliding shield. The force of the impact sent his legs flying upwards, and the momentum was enough to flip Stark headfirst down into the concrete. The impact was incredibly jarring, and Shadoo’s grip on Roger’s was immediately lost. The body of Ironman crashed and rolled across the ground, flipping multiple times and sending lost sheets of metal armor flying in all direction. Captain America was standing now, and though his injuries burned and his body felt like going no further, he dashed up to Stark. There would be no time for his enemy to recover. As soon as the crash had stopped, Rogers was upon Shadoo. He still had no shield, but with dreadful blows of his fists he began to beat his enemy into submission. With one particularly harsh punch, the visor of Ironman’s suit was sent flying. Roger’s faltered. He was looking into the eyes of a man he had personally seen make great sacrifices for the sake of good, and though Roger’s knew full well that his mind was possessed, it sickened him to destroy the body of Tony Stark. 

     The momentary pause was all Shadoo needed. The body of Tony Stark doubled its efforts, and soon Steve had completely lost his brief upper hand. Sympathy was not a weakness Shadoo suffered.

     President Grant stood looking through the bullet proof window of his security tower. From this height, he could easily see the battle commencing bellow. Then, a shrill sound made him take a step back, wait a moment, and then run as fast as he could from the vulnerable opening. Toothless was dive bombing, and though this glass could easily repel the shell of a tank, it could not stand before the fire of a Night Fury. The central security room burst into purple and red flames as shards of glass went splintering in all directions. Grant was knocked off his feet. He looked up slowly to see a hunkering silhouette slowly prowling out from the flames. The bright orange light licked off of Toothless as he slowly walked towards Shadoo, his lips curled up in a building snarl. Hiccup Sat up him completely erect, unfazed by the blaze around him, his eyes glinting out from under his visor as the locked onto the eyes of the president. 

     The President’s possessed body got to its feet. From deep within Shadoo spoke. He did not try and conceal his voice, and so it came forth in deep and nightmarish tones. “You know you can do nothing.” The wicked being inside the president chuckled. “Go on, kill me if you like. It will do you no good. I have this form now, as well as the form of Stark. Even if you win here, you’ve still lost. You’ll never free them.”

     Hiccup flipped back his visor, Toothless still stood wrapped in flames. The young man perched on the dragon’s back looked sternly into the now pitch black eyes of his enemy. “I’m not here to free only them. I had someone else in mind as well”

     Shadoo’s visage changed.

     “How would you like to be freed, Shadoo? How would you like to live a life yourself instead of a life through others?” Hiccup’s voice was calm and confident. Shadoo could hardly believe what he was being offered. The dark being looked up at Hiccup suspiciously. “What will it cost?”

     “As long as you release those who you currently have possession of, nothing.”

     “And where will you free me to?”

     “Your own world. Shadoo, I can send you home.”

      The defenses around the President’s quarters were all disbanded. The body of Tony Stark fell limp before delivering one final vicious blow to Steve Rogers. The whole scene stood still as Shadoo weighed what was being offered him. Deep down in his black soul he had only ever truly longed for one thing, and now it was being offered to him. Could Hiccup really give it to him? The boy had escaped the Gemnodes, so it seemed that if anyone could do the impossible it was him.


    Hiccup stood before the flat plane of the Mirror. Shadoo had agreed, but on the condition that Hiccup and Hiccup alone. Toothless was a long way off, but Hiccup had told the dragon to watch him carefully. Hiccup knew that Shadoo could easily take control of Hiccup’s body. Still, Hiccup felt confident that Shadoo was going to hold up his end of the deal. Very little was know about Shadoo, but one thing was clear: He could never leave the Mirror. The Gemnodes had put him there as an ultimate guardian and an ultimate source of conflict. Because he could never be free physically, he chose to experience the world by stealing the bodies of others. This was Hiccup’s one real hope, that he could reason with this being and offer him what the Gemnodes had taken.

     Hiccup stood alone in the eerie silence of the Dark Forest. The canopy of leaves above was utterly black. The only light was cold and grey, making the world around him look almost black and white. Hiccup shifted his weight, looking down suddenly. He felt sure he had seen movement at his feet. Then, the solid stone plane that used to be the Mirror rippled in front of him. The stone turned into shimmering dark glass with a surface that moved and trembled like fluid. Then the fluid parted, making a perfectly circular hole into the world of Shadoo. Usually one had to touch the Mirror’s surface to enter, but upon doing so Shadoo simply sucked the victims soul into his domain and took their body. Perhaps this hole meant Hiccup could keep his physical form. Hiccup took a deep, slow breath and then stepped through the hole onto the perfectly smooth, endlessly black floor of the Mirror Realm. He was still in his body, but the hole sealed behind him without the faintest sound. As if the silence of the Dark Forest was not bad enough, the inside of the Mirror was completely devoid of life. All that guided any traveler foolish or unfortunate enough to enter was a pale, completely straight road that seemed to stretch on forever. On either side of the road was an endless, black floor that lead into absolute nothingness. 

     Hiccup walked forward, the soft patting of his boot against the floor and the sharp creak of his prosthetic echoing out into the darkness. His mind wandered about as his legs carried him forward. Hiccup felt strangely unafraid of this void. His own confidence surprised him as he walked along. Perhaps it was because things just continued to work out. After all, he had gotten into this world without the Gemnodes catching him. Then Hiccup thought back on the victory at Berk. His thoughts jarred as he remembered what he had let Skari do to Dagur. The memory still bothered him. Should he have killed Dagur himself? What if he would have tried to stop Skari? Could he have ended the brutal system of dueling for chief? It seemed impossible, but at one time peace between men and dragons seemed equally unlikely. What had happen to Dagur felt like a bitter loss and a blow to Hiccup’s own view of himself. Worse, he had taken an easy way out. His conscience and the memories of Sardilic’s tortures had kept him from killing Dagur himself, so instead he stood by and let dragons do it. Is that what he had come to? Sparing his own hands the blood of his enemies while watching as the creatures who loved him tore them to bits? Hiccup was almost sick with guilt now as he walked along. Being stuck in this void with no stimulus for his senses left him alone to his own thoughts, and after all the horrors he had suffered, he was becoming desperate to have something else to think about.

     Hiccup forced himself to do something, to think about something that would help him through this trek. He had no idea how long it would take for him to walk to the center of the Mirror. Hiccup thought back to the people he loved. He thought of Link. Link didn’t often show it, but Hiccup felt sure that the hylian was sometimes bothered by his own troubled thoughts. When that happened, and it wasn’t often that Hiccup would catch him, Link would sing. It was always quiet, and it was always a tune from his old world. Perhaps Hiccup would follow his example. Hiccup looked forward. The pale road continued to stretch out before him, and he slowly parted his lips in a song. 

     “Every motion is splendid and feeling is new.
Every burst is bright and love is true. 
Now it’s fast and cold and far. 
They’re crying out to me, crying out to me.
Wait on them, just wait and see.
You’ll see the stars on the back of me.
Always it's true. Always it's true.
We’ll be laughing again. We’ll be laughing again.
Just wait and see. Just you wait and see.”

    It was a song he had come up with long ago, perhaps in his very first year of being stuck alone in the world of the Gemnodes. Those were strange days. Hiccup was alone, and he had only one friend in the world. He and Toothless had flown far and wide, barely daring to hope they would ever meet their friends again. In those days they had so little tying them down. They flew through the night, sleeping in the day, and the sights of splendor were never ending. They were trapped, yes, but trapped in a completely new universe just waiting to be explored. Hiccup remembered singing this song as Toothless hummed along beneath him, the both of them staring up into the rich, star-filled skies. 

     Suddenly Hiccup stopped humming and stopped reminiscing. There was a huge circle of clean, white light beaming up from the floor in front of him. Then something came up from the bottom of this light, the silhouette of a man, so black the it felt as though the light around it was sucked in. This was Shadoo’s true form, a being of dark matter who could change into any shape. His voice came out from the form, deep and alien. “So, you have come. I did not expect you to hold up your end of the deal.”
     “To be honest, I didn’t really expect you to. Have you released the President and Stark?”
     “Not yet. I will release them as soon as I see my way out of this prison.”
     “I think you’d better release them first.” Hiccup said firmly. He did not want to risk a double cross.

     “Do you threaten me, boy? You realize I can do whatever I want with you now. You are in my world. You are in no position to make demands. I will free them as promised, only because I have no intention of dividing myself once I am free from the Mirror. If I can be home, I doubt I will be able to hold onto my puppets here anyway. Now that I have made your position very clear to you, send me home. Next time I won’t be asking.” The circular light around Shadoo shut off completely and orbs of dark matter bubbled off of his shoulders floating around him like flames. 
     “Right, well…” Hiccup thought for a moment. “Where are you from?”
     “I don’t know the name. Obviously before I was taken I did not know that different dimensions even existed. However, I know my dimension is the home of a hero named Mario. Perhaps that is enough for you to send me there?”
     “Probably”. Hiccup drew Endeavor. Suddenly something worried him. Shadoo had done terrible things in this world. Upon taking the bodies of others, he had often indulged in vile cruelty. He was an incredibly powerful being, so powerful that the Gemnodes had chosen him as a special guard for this realm. Was it right to just send him back? The dilemma had never hit Hiccup before. Did he have the right to choose who to send back to their own worlds, and if he did send someone back, what if they were the cause of countless deaths? Hiccup squeezed his sword hilt uneasily, and Shadoo sensed his discomfort.
     “You can send me back, can you not?” There was an edge of distrust and malice in Shadoo’s voice.
     “I think so. Shadoo… what will you do upon returning?”
     Shadoo’s from grew about three feet higher, his voice deepening. “What will I do? I will finally be free, free to CONSUME all.” Shadoo’s form began to throb and shift. He took the forms of characters Hiccup recognized. Luigi, then Lewa, then Toothless, Gandalf, Link, and finally Shadoo transformed into an all too clear silhouette of Hiccup himself. “There will be no light. I will posses every hero, every being of any ability will be mine to control. With this freedom I shall experience the joys, hopes, dreams, fears, pains, and POWER of all who live in my world. And YOU, Hiccup, cannot stop me.”
     Hiccup stepped back in shock, trying to put Endeavor back down on his leg. Shadoo tilted his head and reached out his hand slowly. “Hand over the sword. If you have found something that allows you to travel through dimensions, I would strongly suggest you give it to me. Yes, I plan to destroy a world. You cannot stop me, and if you try, I will alert the Gemnodes to where you are. Would you like to die, Hiccup? Would you like to leave your dragon to go mourning into his grave yet again? You paid the price once, but can you do it again? I don’t have to kill you, but I most certainly can. Whether I do or not, I will take what you have hidden, I will find how to use it, and I will be free. So, boy, do you wish to die doing the ‘right thing’ even if it will not be of any good to anyone? Hand over the sword.”
     Hiccup’s mind was racing. He had not expected this. A double cross, yes, but he never dreamed that he would be asked to doom an entire universe by unleashing Shadoo. He took another step back, his heart was burning. He could not help but be afraid, but he was also angry. The mockery of Shadoo after all Hiccup had sacrificed stung. Hiccup was not sure what to do with the situation, but he was not about to let Shadoo try and scare him into something. Whether he died or not, that was the trickier question. Surely there was some way out of this… surely there had to be some loophole.
     Then, an echoey giggled sounded out into the dark. It was small and feminine, almost as if it had come from a child. Hiccup looked around, confused by the noise and unsure of its origin. Then he looked up, and Shadoo’s posture had changed from one of dominance to one of fear. “How could you? How could you bring HER?”
     “I don’t—” Hiccup was cut short. There was a musical, warbling sound, and a small imp emerged from Hiccup’s shadow. It was Midna, the same imp who had met with Loki only three months prior. She was incredibly alien looking; Hiccup had never seen anything quite like her. She floated before him, her back to Hiccup and her golden eye locked onto Shadoo. 
     “I think you have something that belongs to me.” Midna said, her tone being both demeaning and threatening. Shadoo shrunk away from her. 
     “You don’t understand, you can’t have it.” 
     “Well, if you won’t give it to me, I’ll take it by force. By your past conversation, it sounds like I’ll be doing the universe a favor. Eeh hee!” Midna’s lips broke into an almost cruel smile, one long sharp tooth pointing out of the left corner of her mouth. The imp’s hair burned glowing orange, and in a strange, snake like motion the pony tail formed a large hand at the end of what was now a sinuous tentacle of hair. Hiccup looked on in utter unbelief as this stranger shot the hand forward, sticking it directly into Shadoo’s chest. The dark being cried out in pain as the hand jerked once, nothing came out, so the imp then proceeded to use her hair to twist back and forth. Still she could not yank whatever she wanted free. Her smile turned to a determined grimace. “Give…me… the Fused Shadow.” 
     “It will destroy me!”
     Minda lifted Shadoo’s form up off of the ground, the Twili magic in her hair growing to full strength. She slammed Shadoo against the ground, twisted around, threw Shadoo over her head, and then slammed him into the ground again. Hiccup could now see something solid coming out of Shadoo’s chest and held firmly in the grip of the glowing orange hand. With one more swing Midna slung Shadoo, the object in his chest dislodging and his dark matter body flying through the blackness. The orbs of darkness that he was composed of dispersed like droplets of water flying off a wave that crashes against a coast. Within moments there was nothing left of Shadoo. The Imp pulled what looked like a bit of dark armor back with her hair. The ponytail returned to a normal length, and the armor vanished into her inventory. Midna gave a small sigh of relief, almost not daring to believe that she had gotten what she came for. Hiccup stood staring.
     “What, what just happened?” Hiccup gasped. “Who are you?”
     “He must have fused his soul with this. He is dead now, well… perhaps only deleted. It is one of the few ways you can die in this world.” The imp’s voice was slow, even slightly somber. Then she turned to Hiccup. “Sixty power gems or not, he was made up of a Twili field, and as a Twili, I can penetrate such a field with ease. What he had belonged to me, and you are just lucky that I turned up. Eeh hee!” Midna swirled in the air before Hiccup. “My name is Midna, and you sure are a wanted person. Shadoo sealing off the Mirror made me worry that I would never get all the pieces back, so I suppose I could thank you… except I actually think you owe me since I did save your life just now and an entire universe.” Midna’s smile was broad and mischievous as she looked at Hiccup. She bobbed in front of him, putting her face rather uncomfortably close to his. “Eeh hee! So, you’re a guy who travels dimensions? Boy, I could really use someone like you.” Midna twisted around to a lying position as she floated in the air, swerving around behind Hiccup so she could put her head on his shoulder. 
     “And how can I know to trust you? The last person I trusted and said I would take home wound up being a monster who wanted to destroy an entire dimension.” Hiccup said stiffly as Midna pulled at his hair teasingly. Hiccup swatted her small hand to the side.
     Midna’s expression changed. She suddenly looked deeply unhappy. “So… you think I’m like him? Well, I’m not. Whether I look like it or not, I’m not a monster. So, how about you reserve your judgements before I give you a squeeze with my shackle.” 
     “Woah, that is not what I meant. I just, the operation I am on is extremely delicate. If the Gemnodes find out about it, everything will be lost. I can’t just trust everybody…” Hiccup sighed. “In fact, I worry that I can’t even help half the people who need it.” 
     “Well, I’ll make things easy for you.” Midna looked Hiccup in the eye, her cheerful snakiness returning. “I’m coming with you, and you don’t have a choice but to trust me. I mean, if I was like Shadoo I could threaten you and force you to send me home now, but I won’t do that. No, I can be patient. I’ll let you get all your big plans and complicated problems out of the way, and when you’re done I’ll be waiting for you.” Midna smiled one last time, a naughty look in her eye. “Eeh hee! See you later.” 
     With that, the small black and white figure before Hiccup dove into his shadow, vanishing into nothingness. Hiccup wasn’t exactly sure, but he felt confident that the imp had hidden in his shadow before he came into the Mirror, and this was how she would keep an eye on him from now on. Whether he could trust her or not, Hiccup did not know, but she was right… he didn’t really have a choice at the moment, and she had just saved the lives of thousands. 
     As Hiccup walked out of the Mirror, he could not help but wonder… what would his answer have been? What would have happened if Midna had not been patrolling outside the Mirror and used him as a way in? Hiccup feared that the future would hold many dilemmas that were every bit as difficult as the one he had just faced. 
     Turning his mind to other things, Hiccup could at least be thankful that Stark and President Grant would surely by free now. Hiccup quickened his pace, realizing that when Shadoo appeared in the deletion void, the Gemnodes would have many questions for him, and he would surely tell them. Hiccup was now running as quickly as he could, and thankfully Toothless had kept a watchful eye on him. The dragon jumped in front of him from out of the darkness and the two rocketed into the sky. With the shrouding spheres, even if the Gemnodes did come to their last location, Hiccup and Toothless would be long gone.

      Toothless sniffed. Hiccup had a strange smell on him, not like anything Toothless had come in contact with. The dragon whined curiously. Hiccup laughed to himself, patting Toothless on the neck. “Yep, met someone new. Not sure if you’ll like her… Not sure if I do.”

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