“I love the psifold.” Carlyle took a square cracker out of the purple snack box and inspected it. "I never know if these are salty or sweet until I bite down."
Blueshift ruffled his indigo hair in frustration. “Why?! Why would you love it?! It’s stupid, there is nothing to do!”
Carlyle shrugged her shoulders. “We get to play cards and eat snacks.”
“Cards are boring!”
“It’s your turn.”
“Fine! Three laser axes!”
“Your mind cards are so straight-forward. Also, you like snacks.”
Blueshift reached into the purple snack box and took out a square cracker. “Not the salty ones!”
Carlyle nibbled a corner of hers, then held it out to Blueshift. “Here, this one is sweet.”
Blueshift stared at the cracker and then to the ground. “Uh… no, it’s fine…” To do something with his hands, he stuffed his own cracker into his mouth and clearly regretted the decision right away as his face contorted. “Bleh!”
Carlyle ate her own cracker with a bit more care. “Hmm. I have petrichor, synesthesia, and… an alpha class mazinger with a flaming sword? I think I got one of yours.”
Blueshift rolled his eyes. “You think? Also, we should really make up some rules for this game, we are literally just putting cards in front of us.”
“They’re mind cards.”
“They might as well be waffles!”
“But then they wouldn’t hold any meaning and you would eat them.”
Blueshift wagged his finger. “You might have a point.” He sighed and looked up. “Ship, how long until we unfold?”
“I have asked you to call me Yhotqlavia many times, Blueshift,” the ship said, its voice monotone and calming as always. “Psifolding will conclude in thirty-three seconds interior time.”
“Well, it’s a weird name! Plus I like saying ‘ship’. It’s a captain thing.”
Carlyle rolled her eyes. “Here you two go again…”
“Blueshift,” the ship explained calmly, “your brother is the captain of this crew.”
Blueshift threw his hands up in frustration: “Shut up about Ray, ship! He’s been gone for two years now! There’s no one else here, just Carlyle and me, and I am almost a year older than her!”
Carlyle snickered, her long black hair falling down the left side of her head as she leaned on her palm, lazily spread out on her side. “On the outside maybe. Your laser axes tell a different story, Blue.”
He stomped angrily. “Oh yeah!? How about you try and smash the next spawn that is trying to gank your brain with some petrichor! See how your opinion on laser axes is then!”
She wrinkled her nose. “Maybe I will.”
The ship chimed in: “I have asked you to call me Yhotqlavia twenty-three seconds ago, Blueshift. Spacetime does not exist in the Psy. Two years have passed for you and Carlyle within the influence sphere of my reality engines, but everywhere else, time is an exotic concept, thus two years have not passed for the Captain.”
“Oh! You phrased it like that on purrrrrrrrr-“ Blueshift’s voice stretched out and distorted as everything around the ship contorted strangely and became black and white for a couple of seconds.
They had unfolded back into the Psy.
Blueshift checked the window, rubbing his head. “Everything’s red. What sector are we in?”
The ship replied right away: “We are currently in sector rage.”
Blueshift knocked against the window. “That explains the mouth-foaming beasts throwing themselves against the hull.”
Carlyle stood up, dusting some crumbs from her black top. She joined Blueshift at the window to take a look herself. “You don’t know that all of those are mouths. Some of that foam could be butt foam.”
“Orifice-foaming beasts then,” Blueshift corrected himself. “Wow, look at them go.”
“What are we doing here, Yhotqlavia?” Carlyle inquired. “Fight spawn or find stuff?”
“There is a psylestial body off our starboard bow. It is comprised of compacted rage.”
“Shocker,” Blueshift chimed in, rolling his eyes.
“This should not shock you, Blueshift, rage is the oscillation of the Psy in sector rage.”
“Download sarcasm, ship!” he replied, irritated.
“I cannot do that, Blueshift. There is no electromagnetism outside the sphere of influence of my reality engines, thus there can be no electromagnetic waves for me to receive within the Psy. Also, I have asked you to call me Yhotqlavia many times.”
Carlyle put a hand on Blueshift’s shoulder. “Let her continue.”
“It” Blueshift interjected sourly.
“I am not detecting spawn, but the indigenous creatures of this sector are aggressive. Be cautious when traveling across the surface of the psylestial object. Look for a surface opening. Closer to its core you will most likely find deposits of rage ore. Please retrieve what you perceive to be approximately five kilograms. There is no mass in the Psy.”
Carlyle went to the lockers and rummaged for her normalizer suit. “Why do we need rage ore? Sounds unpleasant.”
“But,” Blueshift interjected, “it does sound like great axe material. Ship,” he said, his voice suddenly turning exited, “are you going to make me a super rad rage axe?”
“No, Blueshift. And I have asked you to call me Yhotqlavia many times. I can chill-temper the rage ore into resentment ingots, which may be suitable for creating nihilism when bombarded with the right psionic energy. Nihilism is exotic psionic energy. If I can synthesize it, I can use it to create bosons and fermions. I require matter to fuel my reality engines. If they fail, we will be deconstructed into abstract concepts.”
The red Psy was all around them as they hurtled towards the psylestial object the ship had targeted. Around them were many more, smaller psylestial objects, perpetually colliding and shattering, sometimes creating more rage beasts in the process.
Carlyle had put on her black and purple normalizer suit, which contained the surreal stabilizers they needed to survive in the Psy. The suit was pretty much just a tight overall from tough carbon-psy composite fiber with a helmet and the stabilizer pack on their back. Blueshift’s suit was white and orange.
As the psylestial object, which looked like a small, amber planetoid, sitting within the vast red Psy of sector rage, neared, Blueshift could see rage beasts noticing and approaching them. “Carlyle, rage beasts!” He drew his tomahawk, ready to fling it at anything that got too close.
“Duh,” Carlyle’s voice came in his mind. “These weirdos are really aggressive.”
“Oh, are they, Carlyle?! Are they aggressive?! Why would rage beasts from sector rage made from rage Psy be aggressive?! What a perplexing mystery this is!”
A dolphin-sized monstrosity made of hideous amber bumps, foaming orifices, and fifteen wide open, snake-like eyes, rushed towards them with a mind shriek that made Blueshift’s head vibrate inside his helmet.
“Tomahawk!” he shouted and flung the tomahawk at it. The real matter sliced through the psionic amalgam like quiet whispering through self-esteem. “Ha-ha, yeah!” Blueshift jubilated, raising his hand as he willed the tomahawk back into it, making the hand-axe arc back to him like a boomerang. “What weapon did you bring, Carlyle?”
More rage beasts had taken notice of them and were coming in fast.
Carlyle lifted something black and floppy. “Sock.”
“Sock?! Not again, Carlyle! It’s a sock, not a weapon!” Blueshift agonized.
A smaller, beagle-sized rage beast bounded towards Carlyle through the Psy, making angry yapp-like sounds. “Carlyle, watch out!”
Carlyle turned to face the monster, and punched it apart with her sock-clenching fist. “Socker punch!” she exclaimed with a telegrin.
“More are coming!” Blueshift replied, pointing past her. He lifted his throwing arm and began tossing the tomahawk over and over, drawing it back with his mind every time, while Carlyle used coordinated punches and kicks, spinning around gracefully in the weightless Psy like a ballerina. Of death. <Pretty…> Blueshift thought.
“Thank you!” Carlyle replied.
<Ah, crap! Think tomahawks, think tomahawks!>
He could feel her snicker.
When they reached the psylestial object, they impacted it like comets yet remained unharmed. The ship adjusted their normalizers on the fly. While they needed to be normalized to breathe – or to not have to breathe, and for various other things that keep people alive, there was a relatively wide margin for normalization. For example: below a certain threshold, Blueshift and Carlyle could communicate telepathically.
Once they were inside their craters, the ship adjusted their normalizers to create the concept of gravity pulling them towards the psylestial object.
“I’ll call this planet… Angry Ball of Hate!” Blueshift proclaimed.
The ship’s voice sounded inside his helmet. “There are no planets in the Psy, Blueshift. Psylestial objects are condensed Psy, which were created by Elder Gods during the Dream Schism.”
Carlyle commented: “I think it looks more like a…n Amber Sphere, don’t you think?”
Blueshift stomped his foot. “I called it first! It’s Angry Ball of Hate! And you are certainly chatty, considering there are no electromagnetic waves in the Psy, ship!”
“I have asked you to call me Yhotqlavia many times, Blueshift. And I have told you before that I can communicate with your suits using low frequency psionic waves.”
“Additionally,” the ship continued, “I feel compelled to note that this is sector rage. It does not possess the oscillation of either sector angry or sector hate, making your name for this psylestial object a misnomer.”
“I won’t apologize for being creative, ship!”
“Just call her Yhotqlavia, Blueshift…” Carlyle tried to intervene, her voice in his head sounding suppliant.
“Well, it won’t call me captain, so why should I?” Blueshift pouted.
The ship sounded in his helmet: “Blueshift, your brother is the captain of this crew.”
“Crew? Crew?!” Blueshift exasperated. “We are two kids and a talking spaceship!”
“And Ray is gone! Just like Dean, Donna, Kaleb and Nathanael! And our parents for that matter!”
“Blueshift; you are letting the rage Psy influence you. If you channel too much Psy, you will attract the attention of the spawn.”
“Shut it, ship!” Blueshift kicked the ground, creating another little crater. “Just go to snooze-mode or whatever and let Carlyle and me get the stupid ore so you can make your stupid ingots and your stupid nihilism and your stupid fermented bozos!”
“Bosons and fermions.”
“Very well, Blueshift. Please take care on Angry Ball of Hate.”
Then it was quiet for a moment. Carlyle’s voice touched Blueshift’s mind again. “See, wasn’t that nice of Yhotqlavia? You two shouldn’t fight so much.”
He felt her hand on his shoulder and blushed. “W-whatever, I don’t care! I just want to see Dean and the others again. It’s been just the two of us for two years now!”
Her hand drew back. “I thought you liked spending time together.”
“What? Of course I do, Carlyle! But don’t you miss the others? We used to have a… a family on that ship!”
“I do…” her voice came quietly. “I do miss them.”
“Woah, careful, you are turning the Psy, Carlyle!”
She looked down to her feet, where the amber surface of Angry Ball of Hate had begun to turn blue. After a moment, the blue receded again as though it was being sucked into her suit. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. Come, let’s find a cave, I want to get out of here. Those tiny rage beasts smashing themselves against my shoes were cute when we landed, but they are starting to annoy me. Plus, I feel bad when I stomp them.”
“Aww, look at the little thingies!” Carlyle delighted. She bowed down to pick one up and inspect it more closely. It bit down and dug its teeth-like thingies into her finger. “Hey!” she exclaimed indignantly and slapped it away with her sock before stomping it.
“Socks to be that guy, I guess,” Blueshift suggested.
He could hear her laugh in his head and smiled.
It did not take long to find a cave. Considering the smooth amber surface of Angry Ball of Hate, the area around it looked a bit veiny, and the rim of the mouth looked puffed rather than cleft.
“Hey, look Carlyle! It’s the planet’s butthole!”
Carlyle shirked away from the cave. “Eww, quit it, Blueshift! Also, there are no planets in the Psy.”
“What, are you trying to get a cookie from the ship or something? It’s big, it’s round, and we’re walking on it. Looks like a planet to me.”
“I guess you have a point. Let’s just go get the ore. It’s all rage in here, my sympatheptacles are doing the wiggly-wriggly.”
Blueshift hopped into the cave mouth and Carlyle followed closely after them.
“Suit, fist-light!” Blueshift commanded, and his hand started to glow white, lighting up the dark cave. “Why is it dark in here and not dark out there anyways?” he asked.
Carlyle looked around. “Psy density differential. Look at those rage gems. They’re pretty!”
All around them the cave glinted and glittered in Blueshift’s lamplight as they traveled deeper and deeper into the psylestial object Angry Ball of Hate. “And jagged,” Blueshift noted. “Do you think they’re tomahawk material?”
“Your tomahawk is made from real matter, Blue, it’s crazy strong in the Psy. Why do you want a rage gem tomahawk?”
“Because it sounds cool. Plus you think they’re pretty. I was thinking of making a tomahawk for you. That way you don’t have to keep bringing socks into combat situations.”
There was quiet between their minds for a moment before Carlyle replied. “That’s surprisingly sweet of you, Blue, thank you.”
“But don’t donk on socks! Socks are radical!”
“Yeah, yeah… Hey, look! Does that look like an ore vein to you?”
She stepped to the wall he was illuminating. The dark amber material was laced with a glittering red substance that did indeed move through it like a vein. “Yeah, I think that’s it. Try getting a bunch out with your axe.”
Blueshift drew the tomahawk and aimed for the upper corner of the vein, plunging the celestial metal into the psylestial ore. “This is going to be easy!” he proclaimed.
Immediately, the ground started to quake violently and rage gems rained down on them like razor-sharp teeth as the light flickered wildly with Blueshift’s flailing arm.
“Carlyle!” he yelled.
He heard her scream.
When he steadied himself somewhat against the shaking, no, the moving ground, which had come to life much like the walls around, he looked about frantically, trying to see what had become of her. “Carlyle!” he shouted again. She was lying on the ground, being rocked up and down, several cuts on her. There was no blood. Psy gems didn’t make people bleed, they infused them with Psy.
Eerily, Carlyle rose from the ground as if two invisible hands were lifting her from behind. Through her visor, he could see her eyes glow bright red, all the way throughout her whites. Her mouth contorted, her lips parting to reveal clenched teeth with foam pressing through the slits.
“Carlyle, Carlyle! Get a grip!”
She lifted her hands and rage gems strewn about her rose from the ground telekinetically, their sharpest bits turning towards Blueshift.
“Ship, ship, ship! Wake up, ship! Carlyle’s got the rage, what do I do?!”
A previously dormant line on his visor display began moving again. It was the ship. “Blueshift. Have you upset Carlyle? I have previously informed you that her sympatheptacles make her vulnerable to bad vibes.”
“It wasn’t me! She got cut by a bunch of rage gems, and now she is going to cut me”
“Avoid her telekinetic attacks.”
Using the tongue-like motion of the ground to push himself off in just the right moment, he managed to avoid the barrage of jagged projectiles that sped towards him as Carlyle raised her hand.
“Dodge?! That’s your advice, ship?! No, duh! How do I get her back to normal?!”
“Keep dodging. The infusion will be temporary. Once her cerebral immune response triggers, the Psy will be expelled from her body.”
Her glowing eyes were locked on him now, and the cave was still violently trying to pummel them. But Carlyle hovered slightly above the moving ground, safe from its throws. More rage gems rose around her, ready to assault Blueshift.
“Easy, Carlyle, come back to me please! You’re stronger than this! Think of something nice! Socks, I guess…”
Her teeth unclenched and she spoke with an unnerving, layered voice, as if many Carlyles were talking at once: “Blueshift! Where were you when they backed us into that corner?! Ray tossed me over the spawn, but it was too late for the others! Too late! Because of you!”
Blueshift backed against the wall, instantly being knocked over by its sudden bulging. Everything was moving and he didn’t know left from right. Tears welled in his eyes. “No, Carlyle! I couldn’t… I didn’t… The spawn had me surrounded too! And when I saw you fly over the ridge, I couldn’t just leave you!”
“You should have left me, Blueshift!” she screamed angrily. “You should have left me and gone to the others! Why didn’t you just leave me be?!” The gems rushed towards him, and he barely managed to roll out of the way.
The ship sounded in his ears: “Do not listen to her, Blueshift, the rage is currently controlling Carlyle’s actions and what she is saying. You are being presented with a heavily askew version of her thoughts.”
Blueshift ignored the ship. “I had to, Carlyle…”
She lifted more projectiles.
“But I’m not going to abandon the others either. I will find them again! You hear me? I will find them!” Behind him, the Psy ruptured and a white, swirling disk of energy appeared. “What?”
“B-blue?” Carlyle said weakly. She had fallen on her knees and was trying to keep herself steady, her shoulder shaking.
Blueshift rushed over to her and helped he up. “Lookout for the gems!” he warned her. But most of the rage gems had already fallen from the ceiling. The swirling white disk concerned him, and as it did, it also shrunk and vanished. “What?” Before it had fully closed, something long slid through it. It was Dean’s green scarf. “What?!”
There was no time to think. Blueshift grabbed the scarf, quickly wrapped it around Carlyle’s shoulders; then pulled the tomahawk out of the wall. With some genuine rage of his own, he hacked back into the ore vein several times, freeing a sizable chunk, which he grabbed after stowing the tomahawk, shifting back towards the entrance ore in one arm, Carlyle in the other. “Where’s the entrance?!”
There was nothing there, just wall.
“It’s not an entrance, Blue…” Carlyle said weakly. “It’s the mouth of a rage beast, don’t you get it?”
“No doy!” Carlyle looked up at the shut wall before them. She raised her hand again, but this time not against him. The compacted Psy around her turned from amber to lilac and the ground stopped trying to knock them down. Before them, the mouth opened.
Blueshift didn’t wait for an invitation card and pushed himself through, still holding on to Carlyle. In front of the cave, the ship was waiting for them, ramp extended.
“Please get in quickly. I am detecting unusual movement on the surface of Angry Ball of Hate.”
Blueshift breathed heavily as he dragged himself and Carlyle towards the ramp. “You think, ship?! That’s because it is an angry ball of hate!”
“The whole thing is probably alive! Get us out of here before it gobbles us up again!”
They reached the ramp, and as they stepped onto it, it pulled up into the ship as it fired up its engines.
Blueshift rolled onto his back, his helmet besides him. Next to him, Carlyle was breathing just as heavily as him. They had escaped sector rage, the rainbow glow of the in-progress psifold shining through the windows.
“Blue,” she began.
“I’m sorry about… what I said in the cave.”
“It wasn’t a cave, it was a rage beast’s guts.”
“Not really my point.”
“I know. It’s cool. We’re cool. I know you didn’t mean it.” He hesitated for a moment. “You… didn’t mean it, right?”
She turned her head to look at him. He was staring at the ceiling. Her purple eyes blinked once. Twice. “Of course not, Blue. It’s not your fault. … but for reals… why… did you catch me back then instead of rushing to the others?”
He pushed himself up with his hands. “I told you already. Because I couldn’t let you fall.”
“Because, Carlyle, you’re my best friend!”
“I thought Dean was your best friend.”
Blueshift perked up. “Dean!” He crawled towards Carlyle and held out his hands. She flinched ever so slightly, but he didn’t reach for her but for the scarf he had put around her shoulders. “Look, Carlyle! It’s Dean’s scarf!”
“That white hole; the scarf came through it!”
“After you said you will find him?”
“Do you know what that means?!”
“We can use the scarf to find Dean! Ship, can you find out where Dean is from his scarf?”
The ship replied: “I can make a Psy-analysis of the fabric to find out which kind of Psy it was most recently subjected to, adjusting for its brief presence in sector rage. Also, I have asked you to call me Yhotqlavia many times.”
“Blue,” Carlyle said quietly, “I'm saying it means you used Intention. This is huge!” She got up. “Though it is great that we have a lead on Dean,” she added.
“Intention? You think? Radical!”
“It is possible,” the ship chimed in. “Beings with quantum uncertainty in their cerebral make-up can manifest their intentions in the Psy. I had lowered your normalization at the time to have the concept of gravity act less strongly on you and allow you to dodge more efficiently while the ground was moving. Your intention may have bled through into the Psy and manifested a connection to Dean’s location.”
Blue walked up and down excitedly. “Can I control it? This would be great for fighting Psy beasts and spawn! Plus, maybe we can go directly to Dean!”
“I would recommend against it, Blueshift. Manipulating the fabric of the Psy could have dangerous consequences as we are currently stuck inside of it and dependent on it not collapsing in on itself. I have completed my analysis. This scarf was recently at trinode 46.”
“Which one was that?” Blueshift asked.
Carlyle pulled out her notepad and touched it a couple of times. “It’s Belfry.”
“Ugh,” Blueshift replied, “they did not like us over there.”
“The Kirin liked us.”
“Yeah, but they are not in charge,” Blueshift noted.
“Well, we can still start with them,” Carlyle replied.
They looked at each other and nodded.
“By the way, Yhotqlavia,” she said, “did Blue get enough ore for you?”
“It will have to do. Plotting course for trinode 46, Belfry.”
“Dean!” Blueshift said. “Just you wait, I’m coming!”