Chapter 3 - The Library of Secrets

Not only the NYX was a great jet of a spaceship, but your personal computer (Earthling language for a Computatrum) too. While Crimson played with wires and plugs below deck, twisting and turning them as trying to fix her spaceship, Jake busied himself with a lot of research. He seemed quite energetic, having to be freed from the boring cell he was trapped inside for who-knows-when.

Crimson, nearly finished with the repairing, called out, “Hey, Jake! How’s the research doing?” She hoped for a positive answer, because the idea of saving the world was starting to die off her shoulders. She wanted to save the world but she didn’t want to journey whatever dangers there were before her. But of this makes her an Aviatrix or anything better- like a hero, maybe- she’s up to it.

“Ah, yeah,” Jake replied loudly, his eyes glued to the pages he’s flipping through. “Apparently, this ship is quite fortunate to be built by the Roths, eh?” He flipped through a battered leather book. “To be specific, Arden Roth. He’s got a lot of information on the Clock and how to shut it down.” He called out to the below. “Just… come up here for a second!”

Crimson clambered onto the spaceship and congregated above Jake’s shoulder. A picture of Arden Roth stuck on the cover of the book. “That’s my great-great-great uncle. A real pain in the arse after he ran away from the family…” Crimson paused, before saying, “… like me.” She flipped through the pages, toying them a bit. “He’s an amazing Aviator and writer, but I never knew where he… I don’t know, live now, I guess? He must be buried somewhere.”

There was silence, before Jake broke the ice and said, “Well, enough with the sad stories. It said that he found a lot about the Doomsday Clock in a library not far from here. Coincidentally, it’s on this planet.” Jake shrugged. “No wonder they made the Clock here.”

“So we’ve got more walking to do,” Crimson groaned, stretching her arms. “You know… I’ve not really healed my back well yet.” Jake stood up to leave as Crimson yelled, “I’m coming! I’m coming!” as she jogged behind the desperate lad.

As they walked, Crimson asked, “So… You’re family lives here, I guess?” She twiddled with her fingers and bit her lip, trying to break the ice. When Jake did not answer, she just sighed, “Well, if you don’t feel like talking to me somehow-“

Jake shook his head, probably from daydreaming, and replied, “Oh. Oh. Uh… Sorry. I was just-” he nudged his eyebrows to his left, “there.” He rubbed his hands. “Yeah! So. Um. Well, my parents died… You know, when the invasion happened- mass load of shootings and all. I escaped to the countryside of this planet, though it was only safe for a couple of weeks before being invaded. I was 700th in line.”

“In line for what?” Crimson asked, curious. “For execution?” He stayed silent for a while, probably suggesting she had annoyed or even offended him. “Sorry. Won’t happen again. Continue.”

“Well, I was 700th in line for- as you said- execution.” He pointed at a green glint in the dark dawn sky. “You see that?” Crimson nodded. “Everyday, a person’s energy is extracted to make a force-field around this planet to protect the Doomsday Clock so first, it won’t affect the Gregorax and secondly, no one can enter Gregorax unless with immense power to stop the Clock from stopping too early.”

“Ah, I see,” Crimson said, understanding the situation. “Do you still miss your parents, Jake?” He nodded solemnly. “I do too. You know… That constant reminder that you regret doing something? It’s my everyday school bell. Leaving my parents… was sort of the wrong and right thing to do. The worst decisions can leave you to the oddest places.”

Jake nodded. “I agree. And… here we are!” He pointed at a building decorated in white pillars and a stretch of straw-thatched roof. It was unusual to Crimson- how unique the design was. It seemed old but very foreign, as if the builders did not have enough Glitenium to build a living space. Unlike most buildings in Gregorax, which were tall and silver, the Library was shabby and space-limited. Smoke came out of some kind of hole; it was square and rectangle-like.

Suddenly, Jake pulled Crimson down in alarm. She fell down on her bum, and he placed his index finger on his lips and then gesturing at an Equilibri walking around with a meter-long Laser Blaster 62. It was one of those terrible guns that shoot out electrocuting grenades that could instantly kill you, but Jake had other ideas.

“Let’s ambush it. It’ll be fun. Just like the prison cell,” Jake whispered encouragingly. “Don’t be a chicken, come on!” He laughed quietly as Crimson just stuck herself on the ground, not wanting to get involved in the trouble.

Crimson rolled her eyes as she stayed put. “And risk getting caught? Or killed?” She shook her head. “Jake Whallscon. You… damn idiot! That hideous creature would be as terrible as you killing ‘im! And besides, he’s just doing his job. You know, he might not even know-”

“Too late.” Jake launched himself to be seen by the beastly alien who roared, its slit eyes staring murderously at the soon-to-be victim. But Jake was fast with his moves, rolling and running in sync while shooting blasts at the Equilibri.

Crimson groaned, “Oh, for God’s sake-” She began pointing her revolver at the creature, blowing unsuccessful shots and missing every time. Shot per shot, Crimson hid behind a rock. So Jake was unfortunate enough to fight alone.

“Have you ever used… a gun before, Crimson?!” Jake yelled while being pinned down by the nasty Equilibri who snarled at him, drooling saliva all over his face. “You know, I could really use some help! Crimson!”

“Heee-ya!” Crimson exclaimed, jumping on the back of the Equilibri, who screeched in alarm as Crimson stabbed a jagged rock in its eye. Without hesitation, she hopped off the animal as it ran wild in panic. Crimson spoke, “Let’s go. That’ll only hold for a few minutes.” The two entered the library and locked its door as quick as they went in.

A voice rang, “Hello, fellow visitors. How may I help?” It came from a Computatrum’s screen. “I am the Library Computatrum, but you may call me Libby.” The voice repeated, “How may I help?”

“Anything… Anything Roths left!” Crimson shouted out instantly, thinking fast. Whatever Arden Roth left in this library would be given the access to any other Roth in the family. And Crimson was a Roth- but by now, her parents would’ve disowned her.

“Roth, Twistlebee; read the Guide to Flight by Millexum Rambo. Roth, Elvira; read and borrowed The Engineer Love Story by Olivia Olsen,” Libby stated in her blunt voice. “Roth, Navarre; bought A Pilot’s Lie- by Marshal Tondrox. Finally: Roth, Arden; Running Aviator by Gillian Hayden.”

Crimson shook her head. “But… There’s no connection! All I know is that Arden Roth read his son-in-law’s book, Gillian. Um…” The girl drummed her fingers on her lap. “Maybe it’s the book names. Guide to Flight… The Engineer Love Story- all classics, but-”

“Hurry!” Jake warned, pointing his blaster at the door. Surely, the Equilibri has gained nearly enough consciousness to break through the door by now. A few more minutes and the two would be doomed.

“Uh.. Names!” Crimson screamed, stressing out as time passed by. “Rambo, Olsen, Tondrox, Hayden…” she suddenly said to Jake, “Okay… We’ve got to grab these books in order. Guide to Flight by Millexum Rambo, The Engineer Love Story by Olivia Olsen, A Pilot’s Lie by Marshal Tondrox and Running Aviator by Gillian Hayden…” And she added, “In order!”

She and Jake spread out and ran around the Library like crazy, desperate for those four books. Soon enough, the Library door broke and the Equilibri entered- its eyes staring menacingly as it made its way through the library, but the Equlibri’s haunting sound of growling and hissing that slightly intimidated Crimson.

The two silently crept around the library, not daring to make even a sound. Crimson held her breath- she nearly screamed when the Equilibri nearly caught her scanning the books in a hurry. After a few rounds, she finally found the first book- Guide to Flight- and slightly took out the books but made sure it was still standing on the shelf, making a little gap. Crimson sighed in relief- if the book fell, she’d be dead soon for sure.

In time, Crimson turned to another row of books where Jake was- right before the Equilibri could find her. They crouched down on the floor, whispering in hushed voices. Said Crimson, “Have you found the second one?”

“About to pull it out,” Jake replied, pointing at Olsen’s The Engineer Love Story a shelf above him. Crimson slowly pulled the book, stopping halfway. Two books down- two more to go. Suddenly, his eyes widened in an unusual size. “Um, Crimson? I think you might not want to see what’s behind-”

But Crimson turned around anyways, and saw the Equilibri face-to-face with the girl, it’s warty looks up-close her nose. In an instant, it widened its gigantic mouth that could gobble her up in one swallow. But it did not. For some reason, a fortunate event happened before the midst of her eyes.

Another Equilibri, slightly larger, roared at the attacking Equilibri- who cowered at its even more menacing red eyes- and jogged away. After the large Equilibri made sure that the cowardly Equilibri guard had disappear, its blue-purple body began to morph; its plump stomach thinning and its skin from navy to a light tan. The head of such slime turned into grains of summer-gold hair. Without a doubt, Crimson realized that Equilibri… was Jake.

“Holy Heliocentric,” Crimson exclaimed, rather more than surprised. “You’re… you’re…” She shook her head. “Oh, goodness! Don’t tell me you’re one of those horrid monsters!” Jake opened his mouth to speak, but closed it after Crimson started yapping away, “So I was hanging out with in a cell, fighting alongside, making friends and also now talking… with an Equilibri! And I let you in that NYX spaceship!”

After she had calmed down, Jake began, “Well, technically I’m not an Equilibri- thank goodness. We usually have cells in our bodies that help us change form and skeletal pattern. Oh, and that counts with the process of reproduction and excretion.” Crimson made a disgusted face which he ignored. “To make it short, I’m more of a shape-shifter. But we call ourselves the Figura Mutante– or Figmut for short.”

Crimson laughed, “Okay. Let me guess. You’re something worse aren’t you?” She pouted, and said, “I’ve never heard of you not that I’ve read of you. There’s no such thing as a Figmut, or a Mugfit, or whatever of the sort of thing. Just tell me the truth; you’re really an Equilibri and you’re making things up because you think I’ll kill you. Because I won’t- I’ll just leave you.”

Jake rolled his eyes at Crimson’s distrust. “I am serious! I’m not lying-”

“Prove it, then,” said Crimson, her eyes narrowing, challenging the so-called Figmut. “Prove it to me that you’re really a shape-shifter and you can do whatever you told me.”

“That’s… really embarrassing.”

“Why so?”

“I might end up with no clothes-“

“Then tell me if you’re naked and I’ll close my eyes. Go on then. Prove it.”

Jake let out a sigh before closing his eyes and willing himself to turn into something else. Of course, in this universe, a Figmut would never shimmer or let out any dramatic glitter when transforming. That’s just unnecessary. That’s a common practice for the young boy, having to transform quietly in the toughest situations.

Before Crimson’s eyes, her new friend shrunk to the size of an arm and was wrapped in feathers of black. His nose lengthened and sharpened into a silver beak and his feet were of claw. As the nifty changed finished, Jake was a little raven which flew high up around the short library, circling Crimson’s head. She clapped in amusement, smirking slightly.

As fast as he was a raven, Jake was back to his human form in a blink of an eye. “There, I’ve done it.” He realized Crimson had closed her eyes. “I’m still in my clothes, don’t worry. It’s not one of… those times.” Crimson opened her eyes.

“Okay then. You’re not… cloth-less or that sort of thing.” They stood quietly, staring awkwardly at each other, before Crimson said, “Okay, let’s not waste our time finding those two other books.” Jake nodded before the pair continued their search.

Far, far away- millions of light years away from Gregorax- on the planet of the Betelgeuse Residence, Crimson’s younger brother Otis woke up with a start.

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