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Chapter 19

And they’re on their way back to Moscow, or a place near to it. The helicopter journey is actually quite comforting for the two, quickly lulling them to sleep. They deserve the rest though after what they’ve just been through, and they’re gonna need all the energy they can get. They’re kinda following the same path they took to get here, just retracing their steps. Leaving the desert place, eventually they can see the city of Nizhny Novgorod again, the dark clouds still above them, and they head for the train tracks and go over the water. As they follow it, flying next to it on its left side, Andrei can see the wreckage of the train crash from Sergey and company’s previous endeavor. “Was that you?” he asks. Sergey comes up to the front to see, “Yes, it was.” The fires and smoke are still raging among the steel wreckage and debris as the fires slowly melts them away. The hillside is still riddled with train parts and wheels and cabins…and the damage from when the train dragged the ground as it slid down. Seeing it again brings back bad memories of that time…how they almost died. He goes back to sit down, trying not to think about that anymore. Takashi suddenly wakes up. “Huh, what?” “It’s nothing, you should rest,” Sergey tells him. He walks to the front to see what’s going on. Sergey lowers his head, knowing what his friend’s about to see. “What is it?” he asks as he sees it. He doesn’t say anything or express anything; he just keeps staring at it for a few seconds before going back. Andrei continues to look at it as they pass, he didn’t know. “Are you okay?” Sergey asks him as he sits back down. “I don’t wanna talk about it,” he replies. He then lays his head back and tries to get some rest again. “Me neither,” Sergey says. Of course he can’t really get back to sleep, he just wants to try. His eyes are wide open, though he looks away so Sergey can’t notice. It feels strange seeing it again, for both of them, but mostly for Takashi. It reminds him of their mortality, for even with the powers they have, they can still die. It makes him think of the arduous journey they’re about to take, more arduous than the ones before, and whether or not they’re gonna come back. Viktor didn’t see it for himself, but he knows what they’re talking about. Not looking at it helps in getting rid of it from his mind, but even so, he remembers. Nevertheless, they continue on their way.

Andrei follows the path of the train tracks over the barren plains back to the city. Eventually he can start to see it, though the blizzard has disappeared, it left its marks on that part of the city with its thick, white snow still covering most streets and cars and buildings. But their destination lies elsewhere as they pass above the city.

It isn’t long before he can see the city of Korolyov. Empty cars and bodies and blood also litter the streets, not from the gas, but by the creatures’ hands. “Guys, wake up. We are here,” he tells them. Sergey relays the message again as they didn’t hear his friend the first time. “Wake up!!” he shouts. In shock, they wake up in a sudden manner, mumbling incoherently. “We have arrived,” Sergey tells them. In excitement of wanting to see the supposed space elevator, they jump to the front to try and see it. But other than the broken city, they see nothing. “I don’t see it,” Takashi says. “That is the point,” Andrei replies. He decided to land on a patch of open field, like it matters anymore where they do it. He doesn’t even wait for it to turn off, in fact he considered not turning it off and just get out right away, but that’ll attract too much attention. Maybe… He doesn’t have the time or the luxury to think about crap like that. They get out and he looks around to get his bearing. Where are they? Takashi approaches him and asks, “Even if we get to this place, how do you know there are still people left to help us?” “I do not. But if that is the case, then we will figure it out,” he answers. He signals to the rest to hurry up and they go on their way.

Heading to the space agency, they can eventually see part of the elevator sticking out of the top of the quite small building as they go through the parking lot to reach the front double doors. “Welcome to the Russian Space Agency,” Andrei says. The entrance hall is quite wide with the reception at the center end, and beside it, the doors to main control room. The walls are painted white while the pillars are brown. “I thought the launch station is at the Baikonur Cosmodrome?” Olivia asks. “It is, but we are not looking for the station or rockets,” Sergey answers, “we are looking for the space elevator.” They enter through the left door into the main control room. A variety of equipment, computers and radios, and monitors flood the room. “This is where they observe and manage launches,” Andrei states. Surprisingly, nothing has been damaged as it looks like the creatures haven’t been here.

He quickly walks down to one of the computers and types something in. The big monitor suddenly lights up bright white, first showing static, but then changes to a diagram and schematic of what looks like the elevator. Everything’s in Russian, of course. “Is that it?” Takashi asks. “Yep, the first of its kind. No other country has ever even attempted to create one of this. But we were able to build a prototype,” Andrei explains proudly, smiling. “What’re you doing?” Olivia asks. “I am turning it on, so we can use it.” Of course, the diagram on the screen doesn’t show half of what the thing actually looks like. They’re in for a surprise. Nothing could’ve prepared them for what they’re about to see. “Follow me.” Andrei leads them to a steel door on the left side, though it is locked and won’t able to be opened as it uses biometric security. He tries to open it anyway, failing to do so. He would expect nothing less for the door leading to such a machine. But seeing as there are no employees or bodies of employees around to use to open it, it seems that they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. “Damn!” he exclaims. “Without the right person, this door cannot be opened, and we do not have time to search for one or another way in. Unless…” Takashi and Olivia smile, as they know where this is going. “Alright, we’ll try,” Olivia tells him. She pushes him aside and they take position in front of the door. “This is gonna hurt, isn’t it?” she asks Takashi. “Most probably,” he answers, not liking it.

They gesture their hands to the door and begin trying to open it. It creaks and stutters as it’s being pulled apart. It starts to break away from the wall a little. Even though they’re both doing it, sharing the stress, they still feel the weight and the struggle that it places on them. The steel starts to bend and bend…until they finally manage to rip it down. They both get a brief nosebleed as they prop themselves against their knees. “That…gave me a little headache,” Olivia states. “You okay?” Takashi asks. “Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s just go,” she replies, wiping the blood away. Andrei, Sergey, and their men enter first. From the opening they can see part of the huge elevator, but they’re too busy recovering to notice it fully. It isn’t until they walk in that they realize how huge it is and how…cool it all looks. It fills the whole room at the end, very wide and stretching up to the sky. The outer wall is comprised of a glass-like material, almost completely translucent and clear, and at the bottom is the door that leads to the elevator. A big square-shaped platform with the corner edges attached to some sort of wheel and connected to rails on the corners of the elevator. They approach it, slowly, as they’re filled with awe. “My friends, welcome…to the elevator chamber,” Andrei says proudly again. “Wow,” they both say. “This is very cool,” Takashi says, “but are you sure it works?” “Only one way to find out,” Sergey tells them. EVA suits are also present, hanging on the walls. “You need to put these on before entering,” Andrei tells them. The suits are white in color, though they aren’t very bulky like usual space suits, but quite slim and fit. Of course, the flag on the chest area of the suit is the Russian flag. Then finally, they put on their helmets, also quite slim and fit, comfortably. “The helmets will also allow us to communicate with each other,” Sergey explains. They then enter the elevator. The platform itself is also translucent as are the seats inside. There are 5 white seats laid in a line on each side of the elevator, except on the door side. “Doesn’t anyone notice this elevator??” Olivia asks, “won’t planes notice it or worse, crash through it as they pass by??” “Impossible. This airspace is restricted, commercial planes are not allowed to pass here.” “And the translucent material makes it almost impossible to see from afar or from outside. Haha, let’s do this then,” Takashi says. They all take a seat on various locations, except for Andrei who approached a small console on the corner of the platform to activate the elevator. “Everyone ready??” he asks. They all tighten their seatbelts, make sure they’re secured, and drop down their visors, “Let’s do it.” “Alright, when we reach to the top, we will go to the Vostok Space Station,” Andrei explains. Olivia raises her hand. “Yes,” Andrei responds. “Umm, how exactly do we get to this space station?” she asks, “is it connected?” “No, we will have to spacewalk,” he replies, “should be no problem for you two.” “Anything else?” Everyone shakes their head. “Okay then.” He slowly reaches for the button. “Just get it over with!” Takashi shouts to him, nervous. He presses the button and quickly sits down and buckles up as a variety of sounds, sirens, and alarms ring off.

They can start to feel the vibrations of the platform activating. The door closes before the platform starts to rise gradually, slowly at first, but gaining speed as it goes. They can feel the force of the upward motion pushing them downwards, as they get higher and higher. “You are now 20 KM above sea level,” a computer voice states. It was a little difficult to hear, but they understood. After that, a sort of rocket booster at the bottom of the platform activates, increasing their speed even further. Boom! “WHOA!!!!” they all shout. Just like that, they’re now going up really, really fast. “You are now 35 KM above sea level,” the voice states again. At this point, the sound is almost impossible to hear…almost. “We are now above 100,000 feet, hahahaha!!” Andrei screams out. “Whaatt??!!” they scream back. “You are now 50 KM above sea level.” They’re very high up now, the sky and clouds are visible outside. It isn’t as bleak as some other cities, it’s unclear why or how the creatures are choosing where to change or affect the weather. Maybe it's just pure coincidence. Or maybe they’re trying to stop the gang from finishing their mission. “You are now 70 KM above sea level,” the computer continues to states. “OMG!!!!!” Viktor and Takashi yells. “Shouldn’t we be hitting the brakes by now???!!!” Olivia yells out. “Probably!!!!” Andrei replies, “shit!!! How do we do that???!!!” The platform shakes and vibrates violently. “YOU MEAN THIS THING HAS NO FUCKING BREAKS???!!!!” she screams loudly at him, scolding him a little. “IT IS PROTOTYPE!!!!” “Come on, Liv!!! I’ve got an idea, though you won’t like it!!!!” Takashi says to her. “Let’s just do it!!!!” They don’t have time to think left. “We have to unbuckle though!!!” “WHAATTT???!!” “That is terrible idea!!!!” Sergey adds. “You are now 85 KM above sea level.” “WE DON’T HAVE TIME!!!!! Come on, Liv!!!!” They both unbuckle and quickly slam to the floor from the force as they tried to stand up. “Owww!!!!” they both exclaim. “Come on, Liv!!!! We have to get up!!!!! You go to the other side, I’ll go this way!!!!” As soon as they unbuckle, they fall flat to the floor from the sheer force. They use all the strength they have, including their powers, to help them overcome it and they walk to each side. Even with their powers, they can feel the force pushing them down…and they’re getting tired. “Okay, Liv!!!! We’re gonna try and stop it by using our hands!!!! We’re gonna slow it down!!!!!” he explains. “Well, this isn’t the craziest thing we’ve done in a while!!!!” she replies. “You are now above 100 KM.” At this point, they’ve reached space. Everything outside is dark and starry and the only thing keeping them grounded is the force of the elevator’s upward motion. “Alright, Liv!!!! 1!! 2!! 3!!!” They pressed their hands against the wall of the elevator, causing it to spark and burn. “OMG!!!!!” Olivia shouts. “You are now 250 KM above sea level.” As they rise ever higher, the trail of sparks can be seen on the walls. Eventually, they see the topmost point of the elevator and their end journey. “Uhhhh, what happens if we can’t stop it by the time we reach the top???!!!” she asks. “Then we will keep going…forever!!” he answers. “Press harder, Liv!!!!!!” Takashi screams to her. They start to feel the elevator slowing down as it creaks. “Hahahaha!!! It’s working!!!!! I don’t believe it!!!!” she yells. “You are now 375 KM above sea level.” “KEEP DOING IT, LIV!!!!!!!” They’ve significantly slowed down as they start to reach the end or the top, as it is. Thankfully, the rocket booster turned off at that moment and the platform docked. As it does so, they both try to kneel down, but floats instead due to the low gravity environment. They hold their hands up, burning, reddish, and painful even through the EVA suit. Surprisingly, the friction didn't cause too much damage to the hand area of the suit, although it’s noticeably scarred. Even so, they can still feel the intense pain. “……ouch!” she exclaimed. Takashi doesn’t say anything, though he is obviously hurting as well.

The others unbuckle themselves and float around the area. It’s an average size square box with the walls clear on all sides and corners so they can see outside. It doesn’t have anything in it except gears and other machineries for docking. Sergey gently floats towards the door that leads outside. “Come on, guys,” he says, “and whatever you do, do not open your helmets. There is no more oxygen here.” “Terrific,” Olivia says sarcastically. “Let’s just do this,” she says with a tired voice. “Alright, everyone. Once we get outside, that is our objective,” Andrei points out to the space station. They come closer to the window to see it. Sergey rotates the wheel to unlock the door and opens it. As it opens, the tiny bit of air in the room escapes out. Sergey goes out first with Andrei following behind, then Viktor and Andrei’s man, Alexei. Takashi and Olivia quickly fly out, but shoots out quickly and finds it difficult to stop and control themselves. “Whoa!!” Managing to stop, they float carefully in the void. “Okay, what was that?” she asks. “We’re in space now. Things work a little differently here,” Takashi explains. Though it is beautiful, and oddly peaceful. So quiet, no sound at all except their comms and their breathing. Sergey and the others join the two in their bliss, and for a moment, they let themselves go and just float. The Earth looks so different from up there. All they can see are huge green lands and blue oceans. Takashi then closes his eyes, really immersing himself in the moment. How long has he waited for something like this? The silence and the peace… There’s nobody around to hurt him anymore. It would be nice to just let go forever. But he can’t, he still has a job to do. Olivia floats gently close to him and hugs him, their helmets touching each other. “You alright, baby?” she asks. He’s still closing his eyes and smiling. He opens them and looks at her before answering, “Yeah…I’m fine. I’m better than fine, actually. Just enjoying the moment.” She smiles back. “I used to only imagine this. I never thought I would be in a place like this, where everything’s quiet and peaceful. There’s literally nothing,” he continues. “It is nice, isn’t it?” she adds, “but we still have a mission to finish.” “Right, let’s go.”

“If you two lovebirds are done, we need to get going now,” Sergey interrupts. Takashi gives him a ‘thumbs up’ and they both return to the group, and they all make their way to the space station. They carry the others and fly towards it, gently and slowly this time. The space station is quite small in a way, most of it is a pipe-like or a corridor-like, circle shaped structure. It seems to originate from and branch off a central dome-like structure in the middle, with some corridors having branches of their own. Through the darkness of space, it’s a little difficult to make out the color, but it seems to be light blue for the corridors and the central structure is just grayish or silver colored. Sergey tries to contact the crew of the station as they begin their approach. “Vostok space station, come in. Come in, Vostok station. This is Captain Sergey Markovic. We need you to open the airlocks so we can enter,” he signals them. But nobody seems to answer, static filling the comms. He signals them again and repeats his message. “Maybe they’re not there anymore,” Olivia speculates quietly, “I mean, the creatures could’ve gotten them too. We don’t know.” He gets disappointed. Hopefully that’s not what happened, but the space station is closer to the mothership. It’s very possible that the creatures have invaded the space stations first and killed off everyone there. Nevertheless, he tries to signal them one last time, not wanting to give up. But alas, there’s still no answer. “So what now, boss?” Olivia asks. “We should be able to get inside ourselves. We need to find the access door,” he answers. Suddenly, the station starts moving and turning, creaking and making that space station noise. The corridor that holds the entrance faces them now. “Uhhhh, why did the station move by itself?” Takashi asks, worried. The airlock then opens and they see something moving, looks like a person in an EVA suit. It signals to them to enter the station. “What do we do? Should we trust…it?” Olivia asks. “We do not have choice. Our suits do not have enough oxygen left,” he explains to them. Swallowing their doubts, they head to the now open airlock.

As they enter, they give a distrusting look to the person as they pass; they have to keep vigilant and be prepared for anything. He closes back the airlock door and the room pressurizes. He then opens his helmet to reveal that she’s actually a woman underneath. She has short brown hair, just above her neckline, and an oval-shaped face. Everyone looks shocked. “I apologize for not replying. But the monsters might hear us, so we don’t use radios,” she explains. Still surprised, Takashi shakes it off and asks, “So they don’t know you’re here? They haven’t been here yet?” “Not yet, but we do not know how long that will last,” she replies. She turns to Sergey and starts speaking Russian, “What the hell’s going on?? And what are they doing down there??” she asks him. Replying in Russian, “Unfortunately, the creatures have overtaken them. We’re all that’s left. We have to succeed.” She nods in understanding. They raise their visors as she opens the door that connects the airlock to the corridor, leading into the station. They pass one by one, floating and trying to avoid hitting the walls. “Ow! Dammit!” they exclaim. None of them has ever done this before, it’s complicated. The sensation of weightlessness is very new to them and feels weird, especially for Sergey and the others. Takashi and Olivia had a little bit of experience from their flying, but this feeling of complete weightlessness is a little different. They just keep floating and spinning around… It makes them feel dizzy and woozy. “I think I will throw up,” Sergey says still hitting the walls and each other. The woman looks at them with a smile and laughs. Having already experienced this environment for some time, she’s used to it. But watching them tumble around is quite funny, haha. “That’s it!” Takashi yells. He uses his powers to stabilize all of them. Suddenly they all come to a stand still. “Ah, thank you, my friend,” Sergey tells him. Confused, the woman asks, “How did you do that??” “Now that’s…hard to explain,” he answers, “we’ll tell you later.” “For now, we need to regroup. Where is the main control center?” Andrei asks. “Follow me,” she says, “but please don’t touch anything.” “What’s your name again?” Olivia asks. “My name is Alexandra,” she answers.

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