Incase you missed it, we’re skipping ahead in time a bit to get things back on track. Anansi and Athena have overcome the obstacle they were faced with, and the group has been following their drones. Thank you for your patience.
Crystal paced to the end of the hallway, then turned around and headed back the way she had come. The two drones with her followed obediently, like puppies not sure why their owner was wandering around the house.
It was one thousand, three hundred, and twenty three steps. On average. She supposed it would be more accurate to add the point seven that it technically came out to, but that always bothered her. How can you take seventy percent of a step? It was like digging half a hole.
A day and a half, by the way she was counting the footsteps. That’s how long since Isabel had vanished, and Crystal had been cut off from the rest of the gods. She’d spent almost the entire time pacing, knowing she had to conserve her strength. It wasn’t quite as dull as sitting on a dead world orbiting a black hole, but at least back then she’d been able to pass the time by wallowing in self-pity and guilt. Plus, the gravity had done some interesting things to the landscape, making the dust on the surface roll almost like the tide.
This time, her friends were still out there, and she could do nothing to help them. If they were even still alive.
She slammed one fist into the palm of the other hand. She hated not being sure if Ryan had undergone Apotheosis. I never should have let him come here. Bringing the possibly Nascent Eschaton into the Labyrinth was just begging to have the last million subjective years been for nothing.
The end of the hallway was reached again, and she started to turn again, when one of the drone’s crackled to life.
“Hello? Is this damn thing working?”
Crystal whirled to face it. The voice wasn’t Isabel’s. “Who the bloody hell?”
“Ishtar! I got the little robots working.” Crystal finally placed the voice.
“Resheph? What the sodding shit is going on? Where’s Isabel?” She practically shouted at the drone.
“Ishtar, I have no idea who Isabel is. I just woke up about two hours ago, naked in someone’s staging area. There were some computers and you lot were being watched. I’m guessing she’s behind this setup?”
Crystal frowned at the drone, “It’s Crystal now, love. What do you mean – was there any sign of a struggle?”
“Not much of one. A chair was knocked over, and one of the screens has a crack.” Reshaph was silent as Crystal thought. “If someone came here, they had to get past all the barriers y’all threw up.”
“Wait, those are still there?” Crystal blinked in confusion. “That’s not possible.”
“Eh, possibile’s a funny thing. A god couldn’t do it, y’all were pretty extensive. A monster sure as shit couldn’t do it. But that’s not to say there aren’t things that could have done it.”
Crystal’s frown deepened. “Angels.”
“Pretty much only thing I can think of besides the Creator that wouldn’t have left a trace,” Reshaph agreed. “Piss any of them off lately?”
“Only one I’ve even see this century was Uriel, and she’s on our side.”
“What about Lucifer?”
“Got himself offed by a mortal,” Crystal said dismissively, her mind churning. “I don’t see why Uriel would have taken Isabel. Only thing that makes sense is…”
“Moloch’s got himself a pocket angel. Er. That is assuming you all are still after him?”
Crystal nodded into the camera. “We think he’s trying to do to the Olympians what he did to your kin. We don’t know why, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.”
“Damn. Well, I’m looking for some payback. I’ll come join you all then?”
“We lost our navigator,” Crystal said, shaking her head as she did. “She’s who the angel abducted. Right now, best you can do is monitor for us.”
“I don’t know much about computers.” Reshaph said, his voice low and slow.
“Good news is, Isabel did most of the work. Just watch the monitors and the map it’s making. How close are the others to me?”
“Uh, hard to tell.” Reshaph paused for a bit, and Crystal could hear the sound of him muttering to himself. “Looks like Group B is almost to you, if they have a turn up ahead. Group A might be a bit further, but it really all depends on if things turn and where they do, you know?”
Crystal slumped against the wall, sinking from her feet to sit, resting her head in her hands. “The others, are they alright?”
“Near as I can tell. There’s supposed to just be four of them, right?”
“Yes. Brilliant. At least one damn thing hasn’t gone wrong.”
Reshaph let her sit there for a bit before speaking again. “I think you’re close to the exit.”
Crystal immediately sat up, her heart pounding. “Come again?”
“Well,” He said, dragging out the word, “the map shows where everyone’s been, right? Both other groups had a pretty long stretch where they never turned north, or if they did it was after heading South for a bit first. So I think you’re close. Based on what we see as they get to you, I might be able to figure the rest of the way out.”
“If I was there, I could kiss you,” Crystal said with absolute sincerity. “Reshaph, if you-”
The rest of her sentence was cut off when she saw them round the corner. Ryan and Dianmu. Before she could greet them, however, Ryan was gesturing and twists to reality dragged the drone into his hands. “Reshaph!” he shouted at the drone, “where the hell is my sister?”
It took some explaining to catch Ryan and Dianmu up to speed, and then for Dianmu to catch Crystal up as well. While Ryan spent some time calming himself after apologizing to Reshaph, Crystal spoke directly into Dianmu’s mind. “How’s he doing?”
Dianmu didn’t even blink as she responded. “Better than at first, but he’s become somewhat unspooled. Have you seen the other two yet?”
“Not yet,” Crystal shot back, watching Ryan closely. “Reshaph thinks the other two will be along soon, and we’re near the exit,” she said out loud. “We just need the data from their trip to be sure, love.” She put a hand on Ryan’s arm. “We’ll get her back.”
Ryan took another deep breath, and seemed to calm down some. “Thanks, Crystal.”
Dianmu cracked a rare grin. “I’ve been telling you that for the past two days, and she tells you once and you believe her?”
Ryan at least had the wits to look somewhat sheepish. “It’s only because she had two days of groundwork to work with?”
Dianmu paused and considered. “I’ll accept it,” she said.
Crystal relaxed, watching them. “Well, loves, I’m going to suggest you two try and fill any lingering hungers while we wait for Athena and Anansi. Once they’re here, we can-”
“…oh you have got to be sodding kidding me. Now?” She saw Ryan’s eyes light up with rage.
“Reshaph! Any update on Athena and Anansi?”
“Uh…yes. Looks like they’re almost there. Go, turn right, I’ll start figuring out how to get you out of there! What is that thing, anyway?”
“It’s the bloody Minotaur,” she checked Ryan and Dianmu, who looked like they were well enough to move. Which was good, because they’d have to be.
It was time to run now.