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222 A Joint Destination

    One step at a time, Der and the two young girls made their way on the metallic catwalk. They now were only a few hundred meters into the room that contained the water tanks, and still had a long way to go.

    What they weren't aware of, was that something was lurking in the shadows..

    The entire length of the room was of a bit more than two kilometers, and while they would have needed about half an hour of casual walking, they now needed more than three times as much due to their slowed down pace.

    An hour and a half later, when they were about halfway through, they finally arrived in the section where a few monsters roamed aimlessly. It was clear that the monsters did not understand what a catwalk was, and that, had caused a few of them to fall before even managing to find the right way out of the massive room.

    Those who did not fall by themselves, were driven to by Der, which would remove one of the hard parts of his clothing, and throw it against the struts that prevented the ceiling from collapsing. That would produce enough sound to attract them. Whenever a 'clink' was heard, one or two monsters would turn towards the edge of the catwalk, and after bending, cutting, or ripping off the handrail, they would ultimately jump down.

    This went on for a little longer, until finally, two and a half hours through, the three of them managed to see the other end of the room. There, a large metallic door wa standing shut.

    Just a few minutes away from what appeared to be a safer area, the three carelessly decide to speed their pace.. The steps became hastened, and the three finally managed to find a bit more of confidence.. Until..

    "Arghh!!.. Fuck.." A sharp pain came from Der's right calf. There, an indistinguishable mass of bones and pale flesh was hanging, by piercing a few spikes on the flesh of his leg.

    Der immediately turned to look at this small sized monster, and what he saw sent a shiver down his spine. The horrific monster appeared like a mass of fish meat, from which dozens of sharp fishbones came out in all directions. From his mouth, a single thorn surrounded by small tentacles.

    The fishbone that weren't used to attack, were used to move around just like the little legs of an insect. They would move extremely fast, and more than anything else, quietly.

    Fortunately, these smaller monsters weren't as powerful as those that had mutated from humans. So, he quickly slashed with his hand, and ripped the mutated fish right off of his leg. He then turned to look  behind them, and noticed that dozens more were approaching him as rapidly as they were quiet.

    Without thinking too much about it, Der grabbed the two girls by their waists, and ran for the remaining length of the catwalk, not caring anymore about the noise he was making. Some monsters at the bottom of the room had heard the noise resound through the entire room, and quickly tried to climb over the wall, and towards the noise in an attempt to reach the source, but Der did not give them a chance to approach.

    After just a few seconds, Der arrived in front of the metallic door, and after putting the girls down, he grabbed the metallic handwheel and started to rotate it.. It was only after a couple of rotations that he noticed.. his strength was abandoning him.. The power of his arms had decreased to a point where he was only a bit stronger than a normal human, and with it, he was only barely managing to twist the handwheel.

    He didn't need help to understand that his situation wasn't good. The small monster that had attacked him was probably a poisonous fish once, and he had likely been poisoned. If things kept going on like that, he would not be able to open the door, and they would die there.

    Hearing the creepy sound of thousands of small legs tapping constantly on metal, and getting closer to closer, Der started to think that the three of them will soon die, but then, he felt a couple of hands grab the handwheel right next to his. It was the older of the two sisters, which despite her young age, was still a cultivator at the early second stage of immortal cultivation.

    Her low power did not matter to Der. What mattered, was that she was physically strong enough to open the door, and pull him through it, and into safety.. And that's what she did, right before closing the door once again.

    Just as the door closed, hundreds of tick sounds started to come from it. The monsters had reached the door, and were trying to make their way through, but the walls were large panels of solid metal, and that made the feat impossible for them.

    Now relatively safe, Der quickly opened his hand, and focused his immortal essence into the spatial ring that he was wearing on his right hand. He was hoping to pick an item from the small dimension, but instead, a few clouds of dark grey dust appeared in front of him.

    He immediately gathered this dust from the air with his mortal essence, then pushed it together, to form a small dark grey pill which resembled the Partial Poison Immunity Pill.. but which only about half as big.

    While keeping it whole and preventing it from falling apart again, he moved it into his mouth, and down his throat.

    "Please.. Work.." He muttered weakly, before passing out.

    -----

    "Are you sure that there isn't a safer way to the bridge?" Daniel asked to the middle aged woman with a wisp of sound essence, to which the woman responded with a heavy shake of her head, while looking at the surroundings in fear.

    "I'm just saying.." Added Daniel in annoyance. Back in the cabin, the woman had told him that there were only two paths towards the bridge, and they were either through the gambling hall, the exchange hall, and then, the living quarters of the officers.. Or from the theater, the backstage, and kitchens. What had convinced Daniel to take the former path, was the fact that in order to reach the theater, they needed to go through the reception once again.. Which was out of the question for him.

    For a few minutes, Daniel, Jerigh and the woman made their way towards the gambling room, and once they arrived, they noticed something that they did not expect.

    Against their expectations, the gambling room had no monsters inside.. The only thing present, was the nauseating smell of rotting flesh and blood.

    Relieved and yet not at the same time, the three made their way through hundreds of gambling tables on which the fiches, crystals and cards were present as if people could sit back at any moment, and start playing once again.

    In a matter of minutes, the three finally managed to leave the gambling area, and enter the exchanging hall.

    The exchange hall was, similarly to the gambling hall, in a complete mess. But differently from the latter, the exchange hall had few monsters that were roaming inside it quietly. These particular monsters were slightly bigger, and appeared to be more powerful than the other ones that Daniel and Jerigh had seen before.

    Before the mayhem, this hall was neatly organized to welcome people who wanted to exchange opinions, spar, and demonstrate the effectiveness of their items. Unfortunately for Daniel, he hadn't seen it at its peak, but only after it had been turned to waste. Now, traces of blood covered the walls, the stalls, and various valuables lied on the floor.

    Ignoring these items completely, Daniel walked through the exchange hall more quietly than ever. He could see the monsters turn around in confusion even with the simple sound of him breathing, which had forced the three to walk through while holding their breath in.

    More than once they made noises loud enough for the monsters to be alerted, but whenever the worst case scenario would seem ready to play out, Daniel's forced luck would always work in his favor.

    The exchange station, the exposition booths, the training grounds, and lastly the arenas of discussion.. They walked through all of these areas, and finally, they left the exchange hall and arrived in a long corridor.

    According to the middle aged woman, this long corridor would lead them towards the living quarters of the officers. From there, they would easily be able to reach the bridge.

    The corridor was empty, and dimly lit, but it was extremely long. Luckily enough, Daniel, Jerigh and the woman, were able to cover the distance at a reasonable speed, due to the lack of monsters. Only a few bigger and more powerful ones could be seen, but they weren't high in numbers, and they were easy to spot from the distance.

    As they walked through the kilometer-long corridor, the middle aged woman finally noticed something. On one of the monsters, she had found bits and pieces of what appeared to be an officer's uniform.

    "Do you recognize that one?" Asked Daniel after noticing the face of the middle aged woman.

    The woman simply nodded back at Daniel, then, when they got far enough from the monster, she said "That was the helmsman.. The person who sets the course of the ship.." She then took a small pause, before adding "If she is here.. Then we are still on the set course.."

    "So my plan is the only thing that will save us from bouncing off of the isolated planet, and roam space forever.." Said Daniel with a grim tone, before receiving a weak nod by the woman as a response.

    Seeing the helmsman made something click in the woman's mind. While before she was hoping that the officers within the ship secretly had the matter under control, now, she had realized that their only hope for safety, was to follow Daniel's plan.

    "We are close.. That's the door for the bridge." She said after spotting a large metallic door at the end of the corridor. She then walked ahead, rotated the handwheel a few times, and opened it. The three of them then entered.

    -----

    With a sharp pain coming from his calf, and a bitter taste in his mouth, Der slowly woke up.

    He did not know for how time he had been unconscious, but he knew that it couldn't have been that long, as the blood that was slowly dripping from the injury on his leg hadn't started to coagulate yet.

    As if remembering something important, he looked left and right, and quickly found the two young girls. The older of the two was sitting to his right, resting the side of her head on his arm, while hugging her little sister tightly.

    After he woke up, the two young girls woke up as well. "How long was I out?" He asked while brushing his mouth with the back of his hand. There, he found what looked like blackened blood, which he immediately spit along with the rest that was still in his mouth. "That damn kid.." He then muttered while smiling faintly.

    "Only a couple of minutes.." Responded the older of the two sisters before turning towards an small opened room inside which one could see a ladder that seemingly went up and down for hundreds of meters. "If we go up from there, we will get to the bridge.. Then, we can reach the living quarters of the officers from there.."

    Der stood up slowly, and quickly discovered that he had regained a good portion of his power. He then helped the two little girls up, and after checking the two ends of the corridor they were in, he said "Are you two ready?"

    The two girl nodded in confirmation, then, they walked into the small room, and after grabbing Der's waist, they held tightly as Der climbed the ladder..

    Almost twenty minutes later, they came out of a manhole placed right in front of one of the entrances to the bridge.

    Der looked left and right once again, in order to check if there were any monsters in the corridor. After confirming that the area was clear, he approached the door. After a few twists of the handwheel, the door became loose. He then opened it and the three entered altogether.

    Once inside, Der and the two young girls looked around in hope to find someone that could explain to them what was going on.. But they saw nobody. The bridge was completely empty.
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