Dread stepped out of the black portal and looked around. She felt glad to see signs of green life dotting the brown dirt plain. She looked up and smiled at the violet sky. Dirge ran out of the portal after Dread and took in the same sights.
“How come the sky isn’t red?” Dirge asked.
“Either you missed,” Dread said. She began to elaborate, but the girl with raven curls interrupted her.
“I did NOT miss!” Dirge said. She gave Dread a playful shove. Dread chuckled, then finished her thought.
“OR this is still a recent conquest. Ballisea’s corruption hasn’t had time to set in yet.”
“What if she’s still here?” Dirge asked. Her orange eyes widened at the thought. Dread shrugged.
“We run,” she said.
“Booooo, fine.” Dirge kicked at the dirt. “Anyway, let’s get started. How do you find the orb?” Dread looked around.
“I need to find a skeleton first.” She picked a direction and started running. Dirge managed to keep up with her, singing to herself along the way. They ran for close to an hour before they came to a cliff’s edge. Dread stopped and stared down at a bustling city, teeming with life. She stepped back from the edge, then turned to Dirge.
“Let’s go to a different Earth.”
“What? Why? You said we were gonna have fun!” Dirge looked over the cliff. “People! They’re alive!” Dirge grabbed Dread by the hand and tugged her toward the ledge. “If we get rid of the orb they can have their Earth back, right?” Dread shook her head.
“This is an outpost, I’ve seen them before. All those people down there are loyal to Ballisea, they’ll die to protect her orb,” Dread said. Her voice took on a pleading edge. “Can we go somewhere else, please?” Dirge peered over the cliff again.
“C’mon, it’ll be easy. They’re just a bunch of Zeroes,” Dirge used her index and thumb on each hand to form a “zero” in front of her. “Let’s just blow it up and call it a day,” Dirge produced her own golden aura. Dread put a hand on her shoulder, then Dirge’s glow dissipated.
“I. Don’t. Want. To.” Dirge spoke through clenched teeth, she met Dirge’s orange eyes with her own dark eyes. “Like you said. They’re people.” Dirge looked confused for a second, then nodded causing her curls to bounce.
“Okay, no problem,” Dirge said. She reached a hand out to Dread. When they held each other’s hands Dread released a pulse of golden light into Dirge’s hand.
“Alright, here’s another orb,” Dread said. The golden light flowed into Dirge. The light vibrated within her, and she focused on the frequency. Dirge waved her hand at the air and another black hole opened up. Dread walked through and Dirge followed. They stepped out in the middle of another sprawling plain. The cloudy, dark red sky hid any signs of the sun. Dread began to glow the instant she realized they were surrounded by dozens, if not hundreds of walking skeletons. The undead retreated from her light, forming a wide circle around them. Dirge tapped Dread on the shoulder.
“Put your glow away. C’mon let’s fight them!” Dirge put up her fists like a boxer, then threw a straight jab for effect. Dread shrugged.
“It’s pointless. As long as Ballisea’s orb is powering them, they’ll just pull themselves back together,” Dread explained.
“Yeah. But that only means it’s pointless if we’re trying to kill them,” Dirge smiled, “I said let’s fight them. It’ll be fun!”
“Oh.” Dread nodded then let her glow vanish, though she still seemed unsure. Immediately the skeletons moved toward the two girls. “OH!” Dirge’s intent dawned on Dread and she smiled. She opened her mouth and screamed at the skeletons. Piercing soundwaves cut a swath through them in front of her. The skeletons not directly in the path of her scream fell backward in a cone shape, knocking over the skeletons behind them. They tumbled like dominoes.
“Nice! Check this out,” Dirge said. She inhaled sharply then sang a high note. She held her voice steady. It sounded beautiful to Dread, but her attention was drawn by the skeletons. At first, they shook; almost like they were dancing. Then one of the skeleton’s skulls popped off its spine. Dirge continued to sing like an opera singer, and more and more skeletons began to shatter. She stopped to catch her breath. The skeletons took the opportunity to begin moving towards them again. “Hey, you said you needed a skeleton to find the orb, right?” Dirge reminded the taller girl.
“Oh yeah, thanks.” Dread grabbed the nearest skeleton. She produced a quick pulse of golden light in her hand, then touched the skeleton’s head. A golden flower symbol engraved itself in the front of the skeleton’s forehead with the number 42 in its center. Dread let the skeleton go and it walked away from the crowd of skeletons around them. “Now we follow it,” Dread said.