I can feel solid ground. The submersible whirlpool should've jettisoned us into a near bone-crushing fall. Even stranger, is that the atmosphere feels lighter. A massive air pocket? Maybe even an oxygenated room? Is it even logically possible? It certainly feels that way. Our mobile suits activate their emergency contact lights. We can see traces of what looks to be coral debris. But then, just before we would have to consider a struggle to use up our collective internal cores' power, The floor lights up underneath us. The bolting light energy carves its way through varying symmetrical pathways. Even briefly showing some still erected structures, making its way around the entire oval interior, then ending the remaining lights to the far center.
Small sparks of lavender pink flames align the circular row from where we've fallen. It slowly emits more lights around the concave complex, surrounding the shelves of conch shaped bookcases. Tall tail spire shells in perpendicular positions, and decayed doric pillars amassing nearly ten gigantic floors' worth of lined shelves to all the literature the world has yet to lay witness. It would make any bookworm burrow into their own cozy chair, and drink in knowledge even mere mankind have yet to fully swim in their waters. Even the reading chairs are hermit shaped. The light comes full circle, and reaches a titanic chandelier made entirely from deep reef coral, and rare, sparkling amethyst. It all drenches itself in a sweet, flamingo glow. Taking off our helmets to breathe in the fresh saltwater air, our gaze is affixed to the ambiance.
“It's beautiful...just like the books showed us it would.” As Charis's breath is taken away.
“One of the greatest finds of all human life.”
As Hollins contributes to the statement. Both Bucky and I say in perfect unison.
“The Under Treasure.”
Bewitched by the immense scenery, it was but a good 5 minutes before it would be silenced by the distinct activation of a few GROVs shining behind the squad. Captain Even proceeds to activate his mobile suit's holographic projection right in front of us to keep focused on the mission. It's only been a few hours, and already his demeanor seems too condescending for even my own good.
“Team, the mission status we've been updated by A.M. tells us to obtain a specific book that might be the cause of the energy fluctuations. To do so, we're gonna split up into groups of two. Bucky, you'll be with Jenee to cover the ground floor lobby to search the hermit crab shelves and tall tail ones. Hollins will be with Charis to cover the first five floors to each opposing section. Joel and I will cover the last five. Look for a book with this type of physical description, you won't miss it if it's glowing.”
Hollins dryly throws in his thoughts on the matter.
Uum, quick question cap, but, if the glow was the same color as the library itself, how will we know to find it, even with the GROVs?”
Captain Even starkly can't contain his impatient tone.
“Through the GROVs' recent ultraviolet sensors, what other reason would you use 'em? Think before you speak! Everyone break!”
Noticeable murmuring aside, the team does just that. Being paired with the captain seems a bit more concerning than it is a relief, even while within the presence of Ballistire's best kept secret. Over the course of 3 hours, even through the team's thorough sweeps, we couldn't really determine the source of the energy's whereabouts. Don't know what felt more awkward, dealing with the captain, or dealing with his absolute silence. It's occasionally broken every 5 to 20 seconds of the comms from the other members. Looking from afar at the 8th floor, to the far, far right of me, I chime into the captain's comm link if he needed help in climbing one of the rotted shelve structures Before I could hear his response, an unusual whisper fills my ears.
“*Click* I'm fine. Repeat that last broadcast, Joel? *Click*” His chatter starts to get drowned out by an ambient droning in my ears, followed by another settling whisper.
“Approach it. To the south. Seven shelves high. Four cases star quarter. Third of its bindings.”
“Wait...are you telling me where it is?”
The comms continue to churn robotic voices on all fronts.
Yet the droning becomes more discernible in following its guidance.
As I aptly approach it, a convenient shell ladder beside the bookcase is in sight.
Seven shelves up.
I climb up it to slowly wheel my way over to the shelf in question.
Four cases star quarter.
The droning becomes louder.
Third of its bindings.
The spine is coarse in its crustacean coating.
The light pulsates familiarity. The verbal hum is known once more.
“Only the first who have witnessed its messenger, may gaze into its mysticism."
Pulling from its shelf, it shows its ovaled, ruby eye.
Frilled in anemone lining. It softly coaxes me further.
I open the book of its contents...
Swiftly I am met with a blinding white light! This promptly makes me fall from the ladder, and onto the floor! I audibly shout in near hysteria, which surely grabs the attention of the other team members. After wailing in what seemed like hours, in mere minutes they're all swarmed over my body. Bucky puts his hand on my shoulders, shaking me from my mass fit.
“Joel, JOEL! Snap out of it, buddy! What was in that book that made you this way, man?!”
While Charis was raising me up slowly, Even looks down upon the book's cover.
To me, it looked familiar. To them, it was unmistakable.
“It's what we've come for, people. Quick, get the GROVs to pick it up, get back to A.M. intel to grab us, and roll out. *Click*, Fabrice, we got the book, but we're gonna need nurse sharks for Joel stat, he seems to have been bli– ”
“I-I, I'm fine, captain. Just...just give me a minute.” “... *Click* Keep 'em on standby, Fabrice. We're heading back outbound from our current coordinates. Captain Even over and out. *Click*”
Before we even have time to settle our nerves, the GROVs next to the book start to suddenly spark violently upon contact! The shock surprises everyone in unison.
“DEAR GOD! What the he–Sweet spit on the shitter, wh–Aaah!”
With everyone panicking over the now short fused units, the whisper reveals itself once more within my ears.
“You have seen its name...Now...Speak it.”
My open mouth quivers at the thought of its words, yet it compels me to utter it.
The library floors begin to quake. All of us stop ourselves from the sudden shift. Chairs more so falling on her butt. We start darting our eyes around us, as the flamingo flames flicker from the ground floor beneath us. Something begins to catch both Charis's and my eyes. Not just from below us, but all around us. The prevalent holes within the collective conchs, and tall tail spires start to vibrate. Emerging from these darkened holes, looked to be mere orange tube worms. Draped in translucent, watery sheets, their supposed faces morph into inky blots of Rorschachesque formations. Their moist skin bubbles with zit-like pustules. They seem to be scanning the room of any other presence than their own. Charis wants to scream so badly, but she knows well enough not to tempt herself in what could be considerably a cautious situation. Their lengths outstretch what we never could've imagined possible. Despite our best efforts to keep unspeakably quiet, Charis unknowingly seems to brush her hand over the book itself. The worms then shift their bizarre means of focus directly onto us. She looks down, then nervously towards them.
They screech like cicadas! Their bubbly bumps sprout thinly, fast whipping tendrils! Their inky blots protrude blood red spikes, and begin to start quickly elongating towards us!
“Charis, Get the book and RUN!”
Without a moment's hesitation, she adheres to Even's demand! We all madly dash to the floors above us! The team uses the air compressors within our mobile suits' legs! They start hopping up the decorative railings! All the while they keep the worms from trying to whip them out of the air! They frantically strafe opposing directions from each of their curling attacks! Both Bucky and Jenee try to flip around from their violent advances, all while trying to reach to the top using the shells as hap-hazardous footing! Bucky quickly notices I am unaware of activating my own suit's leg functions!
“Dammit man, jump to me!”
The captain takes quick notice, then uses his own to jettison himself towards my railing, and launches me at Bucky! Out of panic, I put my arms out, as he makes a desperate leap up to my position! He successfully clasps his left arm around me, but suddenly feels a sting in his right arm!
Another problem arises.
The ground floor...It's cracking...