Chapter 34 (or, “Going Home”)
Tama had been checking his map for days now and was glad to find that today would be the day they got to Disasterville -- finally.
He and Erika made their way on foot the remainder of the way, able to see Disasterville’s long terraced wall on the horizon. They had made it almost up to the wall itself when they were ambushed. A tall, dark figure with a masked hood stood at the front gate.
“You shall not pass,” it said, its bony hand outstretched.
“Great,” Erika muttered. “We get all the way to Disasterville and now we run into a villain card?”
Tama remembered what Isabel had said: do not engage a villain card in battle. These cards had really been sent by Dvorak to send people to limbo. They had to get out of here. “Erika, run for the gate! I’ll hold this monster off.”
The wind picked up, and Tama’s eyes went to the sky as it changed color. A thunderbolt lit up the sky as a woman came down from the clouds. She was tall, with a kind face, gentle demeanor, and a wrath that Tama could see in the way she carried herself. Her jet black hair was long, almost as long as her hanbok that flew in the gale force winds. She came face to face with the Death Seeker, raising her hand and carrying him with her wind powers up into the air.
The coast was more clear now; Tama looked for Erika, but he couldn’t see her. “Erika-chan?”
“Down here.” Erika motioned to the wall; Tama followed her to it, far away enough from the card that they were safe. “That’s the Mother of the Air card. I’ve never actually seen it before. There’s only one copy of it, and Rhiannon has it.”
“Yeah. It was one of the original Digital Merge cards. It’s basically a god-mod. We’ll be safe if we enter Disasterville from another way.”
“Do you know how?”
“Just follow the wall.” Erika ran along the wall, and Tama followed until they got to a huge door. Erika knocked as hard as she could, and the doors opened in front of them. As they did, a blur escaped from beyond the door and tackled Tama to the ground. Tama struggled to get it off of him until he realized it was Jen.
“You miss me much, Didi?”
“Like crazy I did! I’m glad you’re back with us.”
Tama looked up and saw Rifka standing in the huge doorway. They were three members short at the moment -- it was just him, Rifka, and Jen assisting with this project. Then again, Erika was back with Rhiannon, and they could put their plan into effect. They still had to get Erika to limbo to save her world as guardian, but they couldn’t do that until Dvorak had been taken care of. If Dvorak was left alone on this world without guardian permissions stopping him, there was no telling what he would do.
Tama had heard the horror stories from other operatives. Tales of worlds being lost to Dvorak’s foolishness. New worlds being formed that could not survive because of what Dvorak had left in limbo. There was one particular example that stuck out in Tama’s mind, where Dvorak had sucked away all of the oxygen from a world and left it in limbo, unable to be transferred back when the worlds finished merging. The result was a world with too little oxygen, not enough able to be made by the plants, which quickly became barren and desolate.
He never wanted that to happen to this world, or to any world.
“We need to meet with Rhiannon,” he said. “Is anybody else here?”
Rifka shook her head. “Everybody else has disappeared. We have two cards defending us right now.”
“I saw the Mother of the Air,” Erika piped up from the back. “I’ve never even seen it in gameplay before! With her, I think we’ll be unstoppable.”
“Then again, you don’t know Dvorak.” Tama ushered everybody into Disasterville. “Rifka, lead the way. We need to meet with Rhiannon.”
Rhiannon herself was seated in the board room, eyes on the device Jen had given her. He had said that Komari could find the source code and possibly apply it to this universe...which Rhiannon hadn’t understood any of. She figured Jen and Komari could handle that part while she focused on the logistics of the card game. Jen had mentioned something about ‘coding reality,’ but you could only code for computer software. It wasn’t like you could just randomly write for pigs to fly and it would happen in the world. Reality didn’t work that way.
...or did it?
“Komari,” she asked, “what did Xiao-ssi say about coding reality?”
“He said that it was simply a theory, something he is testing out with this device,” Komari noted. “It has been successfully achieved once before, but not in this realm. He was hoping that, since our computer systems are still advanced here, he could write code and I could implement it since I am physically here at this time. Xiao-ssi’s most pressing concern is that I have the permissions to carry out such strategies. That is up to you.”
“I don’t know how to assign permissions like this. What do I do, just say you can have my permission? You can do whatever you want, Komari.” But as she said this, Rhiannon remembered that Komari wasn’t human: that she was just a computer program brought to life by this strange world.
“Okay. Fine. I give you the necessary permissions. I hope that’s enough.”
“It is. Processing code. Approximate time until implementation: 21 days, 5 hours, 4 minutes, and 36 seconds.”
Rhiannon groaned. This was going to take forever! “Can you speed it up at all?”
There was a knock; Komari opened the door. Outside were Jen and Rifka, with Tamasine and Erika. Rhiannon breathed a huge sigh of relief. She didn’t know if Canberra and his group were out there, but at least they had Erika. “Thank goodness.”
Erika gave Rhiannon a shy smile. “Things haven’t turned out the way we wanted them to, have they?”
“They often don’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start over and plan for the future. Erika-san, I’ll need to know what cards you were able to collect. We’ll be able to set up a defense strategy that gives you time to do whatever you need to.”
“We’ll meet with her and go over her responsibilities,” Tama said. “Erika, we’ll send you to limbo in the last few seconds before the worlds merge, but don’t worry. You’ll return back to your old world, and everything will be back to normal in no time.”
Erika gave Tama a smile. Him saying that meant the world. Nothing could go back to exactly the way it was, but this was her new normal. “Thank you.”