Hey everyone! Sorry I was gone for so long, my computer got shut down for some odd reason. I don't even know why. They're such finicky things, aren't they? Anyway, after a long wait, here is Chapter 2 of Savior Returns.
Guys I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all of the reviews. At first I thought this story was completely forgotten. But you all proved me wrong! A special shoutout to Star's Snowflake for the advice. You, and always shall, rock on! Now read and review, and have a good day!
Chapter 2: Truth Dream
There was a dark, quiet world surrounding him. At first, he couldn't understand where he was, or what he was doing. It felt as if he was taking his first breaths of life again. Back then, he didn't know where he was, or more importantly, what or who he was. But now, he knew that he was a sentient being, a little ragdoll, and his name was 9. However, knowing these things didn't help him understand where he was now.
He was definitely standing on a solid surface, so he was more than a memory, more than some disembodied thought. But as he looked down at his copper feet, there was nothing underneath him, as if he was standing upon glass. 9 was quickly becoming frightened, and he looked out into the emptiness that surrounded him, looking for something, anything, that he recognized.
"Hello?" He called out into the blankness hesitantly. He wondered if there was anyone besides himself occupying this strange world, perhaps something that could answer him and tell him where he was. Yet, there could be something deadly out there. Everything was a swirling, dark blue-grey mist, and the only answer was the echo of his voice reverberating back to him from unseen walls, or hills…or whatever was hidden within this odd world. It was as if he had been sucked out of existence…like he had never been real. But that couldn't be right. He was just with 7 and the twins. Where were they? He couldn't be alone…or was he…?
"9."A deep, familiar voice said softly in the vast blue-grey void. 9 was startled by the sudden noise. He whirled all around, searching desperately for the voice, relieved to know that he wasn't trapped here alone. Perhaps the voice, or its owner, could tell him where he was and what happened to 7, 3 and 4. If he had a heartbeat here, it would be increasing in speed. However, he had no heartbeat. It was as if he was something more than a spirit, but less than a living, solid being. 9 couldn't see any other being within this world – he was still alone. But perhaps the voice didn't want to show itself. Perhaps it was merely waiting until his back was turned…
"W-who's there?" He yelled back to the voice, ready to run from any threat, his body tensing. "7? 3, 4?"
"No, it's me." The voice replied to 9, who was still whirling around trying to find the twins, 7 and the owner of the mysterious voice. The voice seemed to be the only thing in this world, this strange place. It had replaced 7 and the twins…
"What have you done with them?!" 9 demanded, still tensed. His fists were clenched – he was no longer ready to run, but ready to fight for 7 and the two small boys.
"Nothing. They're fine. It's alright; I'm not going to hurt you." The voice said gently. 9 could picture a calming hand held out to him. The voice sounded vaguely familiar…but who did it belong to? It was reassuring, and calming, not too deep, but older than his own. 9's eyes widened and he froze as he listened to the echo of the voice. It was a voice he had been wishing to hear for three months…hoping, pleading…
"5?" He whispered, looking over his shoulder, his breaths becoming shallow and frightened. 9 was no longer tensed, but it seemed like all of his insides had melted into useless liquid metal. In the swirling mass, in the darkness of the misty realm, a sudden bright green light suddenly stood out unmistakably against the dark colors – one 9 had failed to see in his desperation and fright for his missing friends.
The wisp of smoke took a shape and rotated slowly. It turned into a small male ragdoll, sporting a single eye, two buttons on his chest, and a number hovering from his back. He touched down to the indistinct land beneath him with an unrealistic grace. It was so very odd to see 5 move with such elegance. He normally was so clumsy and inept (a characteristic 9 shared with him). He walked slowly to 9. The other male ragdoll almost collapsed from alarm and shock at seeing him, someone he was sure he'd never see again…
"5?" He whispered again. He almost took a step away, but something powerful held him there, rooting him to the very spot where he stood on trembling knees, his eyes wide.
"Yeah. It's me. I'm here." The spirit replied, giving a small, gentle smile. Only, it wasn't verbal, but it was his thoughts that 9 heard. As an experiment, 9 thought back, "Where am I? Where are 7, and the twins?"
"They're fine, they're back home. You're in the World Between, 9." 5 answered, drifting downwards, sitting on his knees. 9 followed him, unable to stand any longer. The shock overwhelmed him as his eyes searched 5's pale green face. He looked at every single facial feature that had been etched into the soul from when 5 was still alive. He looked exactly the same. He looked exactly like the man 9 had missed so much. The chill of the world was sending odd, unpleasant sensations through his body, and it made him shiver.
"The World Between? Where is that?" He asked when he found his voice once more (or, rather, his thoughts).
"It's where we are." 5 answered solemnly, looking up to the sky above them. 9 followed his gaze. He gave a small gasp, giving another shudder. Though, he was unsure why they frightened him. He shouldn't have been – he knew them. He had known them for the very first days of his life.
Hovering above him and 5 were four wisps of green smoke. They didn't have very distinctive shapes, and were unclear. However, 9 could tell them apart, each face, each stitchpunk running through his mind: 1 was thin, with the gaunt face; 8, of course was the largest; 2 was rather hunched over, and he was the smallest; and 6 had wild, crazy hair, along with two mismatched eyes. He wanted to cry out to them, to embrace them all and tell them he was sorry, but something held him back in doing so. Instead, he tore his gaze away from them.
"Why am I here?" 9 thought, looking back at 5 and blinking in confusion. 5 actually smiled, his face becoming much softer. At this smile, 9 felt more comfortable, but only just. He missed that smile. He missed 5.
"Well, you asked me to answer you, didn't you?" He said softly, still smiling widely. 9 blinked, realizing that, back on Earth, he had asked towards the sky for 5 to answer him. Had 5 really heard him? Had they all heard what he had said over these past months when he would lie and talk to the sky, attempting to get an answer that he was never sure to come to him? 5 turned somber again, blinking and looking down for a moment before continuing. 9 felt anxious again as he bent down slightly and looked into 5's face.
"9, we need your help. All of us." 5 said, looking back up to 9, waving a hand to the spirits around them. They didn't move, but they seemed to hover closer, their voices either lost or distant.
"M-me?" 9 stammered, growing more anxious each slow second he was there. Time seemed like an unreal thought here. Was he even really here? Would he ever return to 7 and the twins? Or…or was this a dream? All these questions soared around in his head, unable to be answered. He attempted to push them away so he could concentrate on what 5 was saying.
"Yes. You see…were not really free. We're sort of trapped." 5 said, looking sadly down once more. At first, 9 couldn't compel his mind to register this statement. He stared fearfully at a somber 5 for a moment before he managed to talk (think?) once more.
"Trapped? How?" 9 said, suddenly apprehensive. He now felt rather uncomfortable with the four other silent spirits hovering above him, watching him…listening…
"Well...we haven't been able to move on, to where we're supposed to be, in the Land Beyond." 5 said, looking distressed for an unexplained reason. His lower lip quivered and he wrung his green hands together.
"Why? Why haven't you been able to move on?" 9 asked softly, raising his eyebrows in surprise and yet more worry. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"Well...we're still needed on Earth." 5 said. 9 shook his head, wondering vaguely if his hearing sensors were in need of repair, or if his mind was going on him.
"N-no. We're fine. I-I'm trying to get us to a new home. I-I don't want you to…just go, move on. Be at peace. Please." 9 pleaded. He believed that 5 was trapped because of 9's want for his best friend, his need for the guidance he had asked for. 5 put a reassuring, transparent hand on his shoulder. 9's heart, wherever it was, swelled with pain at this touch. It reminded him of what seemed like so long ago.
"It's not you, 9. You saved us, and released us, but… but our mission isn't finished. There are still things we need to do. W-We've been trapped because we haven't been able to go back." He said soothingly to the younger stitchpunk, but looking down quite miserably.
"G-go back? Come back to life?" 9 asked, feeling weak. Come back…come back...only these words he thought of. Come back…
"Yes. And now that you're finally here, there may be a way for us to come back." 5 said, gently taking 9's hands in his. They felt like ice, and an unpleasant sensation slipped up 9's arm. However, he didn't withdraw away from 5. Instead, he looked intently at him, trying to steady his trembling breaths.
"How?" 9 asked, slightly leaning towards 5.
"The talisman." 5 said, looking pointedly at 9's zipper. 9 removed his hands from 5's. He hesitantly clutched his zipper and pulled down. Reaching inside of his own body, 9 brought out the talisman, an object he had been carrying inside himself ever since he had released the souls. 9 looked up at 5 once more. Strangely, the talisman hummed mechanically, as if sensed where it was.
"The talisman wasn't designed for one thing, 9. It took the souls from the Scientist. It gave us our souls, and then took them, and then released us." 5 explained, putting his hands on the talisman as 9 held it out to him.
"It could pull us back from the World Between. Into our bodies. We'd come back home." He said, taking one of 9's fingers and guiding it across the talisman, to each symbol key. 9 watched intently, etching the sequence into his mind.
"This sequence will summon us back to our bodies." 5 said, letting 9's hand go. 9 gazed at him, so many questions filling his mind.
"How do you know?"
"Months ago…I'm not even sure how long ago it was…someone came to us in this world. He told us why we were trapped, and why we couldn't move on. He showed me the sequence, and told me that you needed to come and help us get home because…because if you didn't, then we would be trapped forever…" 5 said softly. 9 looked down at the talisman, his brow furrowed. He thought deeply at this. So much could go wrong, so much could happen. He could type in the sequence wrong, he couldn't find or heal their bodies…so much joy could take away the horrible grief…this could just be a dream…
"I-Is this real? Are you really trapped?" 9 asked, looking up at 5 once more. If he brought back beings that were already at peace, then they would be despondent. They weren't meant to come back to Earth. Then again, he'd have his best friend back, and the guilt would lift…
This could be a dream. He could be dreaming that he could have 5 back. His mind could be twisting it to please his already broken heart.
"Yes. This is real. Please listen…please help us…" 5's voice began to fade, slowly as he stared into 9's eyes, looking like he was to cry at any given moment. Then many different voices reached 9, voices he easily recognized…voices he missed exceedingly…soft, grizzled, light, deep….
"Please help us…"
"…Bring us back…"
"…want to go home…"
5 closed his eye. 9 peered at his friend. His anxiety increased tenfold as he looked upon 5's despondent face. Something was wrong.
"5?" He asked softly. The spirit looked up at him.
"You have to go back." He said quietly. He stood up, closed his eye and bowed his head. 5 turned his back on a stunned and dumbstruck 9 without a goodbye.
"No! NO! 5, wait, wait! Don't go yet, please!" 9 pleaded, verbally this time. He thrust the talisman back into his chest, zipped himself up and ran after 5. He had already taken flight, and seemed not to hear 9. 5 and the four others, had turned back into five wisps of smoke and were gliding off into the distance, their lights growing smaller and smaller by the seconds 9 tried to chase after them.
However, there was something suddenly pulling on him. It was as if someone had seized his shoulders and was pulling him down into the ground with an exceeding force. Weak with fright and distress, 9 succumbed to the pull, his hand still extended to the wisps that were now gone. The blue-grey swirling world disappeared quickly, and 9 knew he was now falling as the ground beneath him was suddenly gone. He was flying, falling through mid-air, through nothingness. His chest constricted so tightly, he couldn't gather enough air to scream. He closed his eyes, waiting for the jarring impact on a surface below…
"Ah!" He gasped as reality crashed upon him. He bolted upright, his breathing rapid and shallow and his entire body vibrating. He blinked, staring at the ground for a moment as he tried to gather his bearings. Then, he sighed, breathing the crisp, cool night air in deeply. He finally saw that he was back in the world he was born into. Instead of the cold, unpleasant sensation he had been feeling, his left side felt extremely warm in the coolness of the night. He slumped back down to lay on his back.
It was so real. The dream was so real. He lay there, staring up to the inky sky above him, the blue-white light of the moon reflecting off the glass coverings of his optics. He quickly checked to see if 7 and the twins were still asleep, and was relieved to see that they were, and that he hadn't woken them again. All three were breathing soundly, their bodies relaxed, eyes closed, and their dreams untroubled. 7 shifted beside him in her sleep, curling further into his side, and he gratefully welcomed her warmth. IT tethered him back down to Earth.
9 lay, thinking hard about it all. It was just too real. Upon this matter, he could not question his sanity. The dream had been too extensive, too genuine to be considered one of his normal dreams or nightmares. He realized they had to have taken his essence, his mind – not his soul – to the World Between to speak to him while he was still asleep. And they were trapped. They weren't free, as he had thought they were…
9 thought about 5. He could come back. He had spent so little time with him, although in the course of about ten minutes, they had become inseparable. And then, 5 was ripped away from him in a single second. He remembered standing there, staring at his inert, lifeless body, a thin line of smoke rising from it. He was paralyzed with shock and grief – that was his best friend, and he had just watched him die. He was painfully reminded that 5 died because of him, because of his mistake. They had all died.
It was all his fault.
9 sighed, folding his hands over his chest, hoping for sleep to find him again. He wanted to somehow believe he wasn't there so he wouldn't be troubled about them any longer. However, he found that he couldn't stop thinking about the sequence of symbols the spirit of 5 had shown him. As he folded his hands together, he found that they were both ice-cold.