Chapter IX : The New World V

Chapter IX : The New World

“ The Darkest Chasm ”

The tardigrades which resided on Apocalypse had good intentions, but their vision was skewed by their hatred of humans. It did not help that they evolved far beyond what they originally were and instead of dying out, they became immortals. At first, they tried to influence the World by using plants. However, they soon realized that they were not alone.

The planet was occupied by its own colony of tardigrades, and despite being of essentially the same natural blueprint, they had opposing views.  The World’s tardigrades enjoyed their life with the planet’s creatures. They were particularly fond of a being which they referred to as The Overlord. They spoke highly of it. Soon, the Apocalypse tardigrades grew tired of their World counterpart’s passive ways.

As they originally planned, the inhabitants of Apocalypse began to weave life based on the pattern which they read in remnants of Black Blood. They created eight pods which contained similar basic forms, but as time passed, they slowly altered those copies. The tardigrades tried different interpretations of what could be ‘perfect’. Within the cavern, as time moved on, the copies grew within the pods which the tardigrades created by using the dark plant. Little by little, it all made sense and Errol’s mind managed to complete the pieces of the puzzle:

The first one was left in her shell for far too long after she was ‘complete’. Her mind was developed beyond what her creators intended, and so she had a different understanding of their predicament. Her weakness was that her body had not developed to its full potential; it seemed as if most of the development was concentrated on her mind. Soon, that first one left and was never seen again. But Errol knew what happened… One appeared before her and told the Overlord about herself and the other copies. She also wanted to die by Errol’s hands, and the latter reluctantly obliged.

The second one was incredibly skilled. She was also most artful, but she expressed her thoughts through her actions, never through words. She had been sent to retrieve One, but came across the Overlord instead and discovered that she was the historian named Errol D’ Theov. Two was fairly smart and managed to gain information about the World, which she subsequently brought back to the other copies. Due to her meek nature, she did not ask for the others’ help therefore, in her next escapade, Errol managed to catch her and, still with much hesitation, the Overlord killed Two.

The third one was insanely strong. He managed to uproot many trees south of the forest, but he was as dumb as a rock. He was so stupid that Puppy was actually the one who took him on, and the tardigrade emerged victorious. Although the creature did not kill the copy, Errol arrived just before Three got away and she immediately disposed of him.

The fourth one was very cunning and used parasites to gain control. Her body, however, was very weak for her influence over Apocalypse tardigrades was developed instead of her physical strength and endurance. The tardigrades refused to admit that it was a miscalculation on their part, and so Four continued to exist even though her body could just fail at any time. Around those moments, Errol already put Linnorm at the original entrance to Impact Cavern. Four was the first one to use the exit through the antlion burrow which Three once worked on from the surface.

The fifth one was the animalistic boy. He was quick on his feet and adept at fighting. Unfortunately he was, in one word, mad. Five was very wild and even his comrades found it difficult to control him. They avoided him if they could, and Seven was the only one who seemed to be patient enough to work with the boy. Like the ones before him and the two ones after him, however, Five was far from perfect. They were mortal.

The sixth one was a being in two bodies. At times, Six split her mind between the two and each part could make independent decisions and movement. Her strength lay in her ability to control both bodies at once in perfect synch. Her weakness was connected to her strength, for if one was injured while synchronized, the other would feel the pain as well. Regardless of whether they were in synch, Six’s bodies would both die even if just one was mortally wounded.

The seventh one was the charismatic, tall, perpetually smiling man. He was very good with words, and he tried to make his comrades work together. Unfortunately, Seven also resorted to indirect lies, things that he called “half-truths” which were not true at all anyway. He read many books and convinced the other copies that they were gods. But he cared more about his appearance than the lives of those around him. His patience with Five was also a way to manipulate the boy into fighting in the front lines for Seven disliked close quarters combat.

Lastly, the eighth one was the last to emerge from her pod. By then, the Apocalypse tardigrades decided to just copy most of Errol, even her appearance. They removed the part which they identified as the Overlord’s humanity and instilled within Eight’s mind that she was far superior than the other copies, other creatures of the World and even the Overlord herself. It worked. She was perfect… or so they thought. The copy which they created turned out to be just like the Overlord of the Age of the Sun- perpetually depressed even though she did not know why. This resulted in Eight’s preference to distance herself from the other copies, and it also led to her downfall. She underestimated the strength of Errol’s will, that which allowed her to control collective consciousness of the World’s tardigrades. Eight, who was just used to exercising her control over the Apocalypse tardigrades, did not think that they would be overpowered. She was very wrong. The flames continued to burn through her flesh while her creators tried to hasten her regeneration. Their attempts to put out the fire were overcome by the Overlord’s unseen army.

Errol then snapped out of the trance. To her, it felt like eons but in the World, it was a mere few seconds. The experience was enough to keep her distracted and while she thought about what she saw, the dirt beneath her feet began to shake. The ground opened up and down fell Eight into a seemingly-endless void. Errol managed to grab onto the side of the chasm but as she struggled to get out, the more it crumbled and even when she tried to use her vines, the walls of the chasm widened. When she thought that she would fall into the darkness below, a warm hand grabbed hers.  She looked up at bright blue eyes and a familiar face which made her feel something odd and bittersweet.

“ Hold on, “ Hunter said as he grasped her left hand tightly.

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