Categories > Cartoons > Skyland > Allies of Necessity

Chapter 2

by hyperpsychomaniac 0 reviews

Cortes and Diwan have to try and work together in order to escape.

Category: Skyland - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance - Published: 2007-01-22 - Updated: 2007-01-22 - 3854 words

The block-quake had stopped a few moments ago, and both Cortes and Diwan had slowed to a fast walking pace. Diwan had stopped a few times, seeming to get her bearings. It was starting to appear to Cortes as if she wasn't so sure where she was going.

Then she stopped again. Before them were two corridors. The one Diwan had been heading towards appeared to have a staircase leading upwards.

"Well?" Cortes prodded, standing about two paces behind her. "Or are you lost?"

"I know exactly where I'm going. In case you haven't noticed our quickest way out of here has probably suffered from that block-quake."

Cortes moved up beside her and looked up the staircase. Sure enough, a little further up it had been totally wrecked by a chunk of rock poking through the ceiling.

"Any other ways out?" he growled. The passage was totally blocked. It was obvious there was no point trying to get through.

"You think we would only have one way out?" Diwan snapped. She turned away from him and headed towards the other corridor. "It's longer, but we'll still get out." She paced into the dimly lit corridor ahead, and Cortes followed.

The corridor quickly opened into a larger space, though it was too dark too see how far it extended. And then the floor beneath Diwan crumbled. For the second time that day, she was standing above nothing, staring down into darkness. Then she felt something grab her shoulders and pull her back.

They both watched the bits of rock clatter into the abyss below. It was somewhat disconcerting. And then Diwan realised Cortes still had a hold of her shoulders, and she pushed him off.

"You're welcome..."

"I suppose you think that makes us even."

"Let's hold off on adding up our tally until we're out of here, okay?"

Diwan scowled, but held off any further comment, instead looking down into the hole. "The whole floor here has fallen out. But I don't think it was recent. It looks like it's been like this for awhile."

"Great. So same deal as the other way. We're stuck."

"Not necessarily..." Diwan mused. She carefully picked her way around the broken edge, moving towards one of the walls. "I think this is a hanger bay. Any ships we left behind are probably... down there."

"You /think/? Thought you said you were sure of where you were going?"

"I didn't exactly have time to grab a map. Found it." She had moved over to the side, and stood at the base of a metal ladder. It climbed up the wall, and could just be seen attaching to a bit of scaffolding about forty feet up. "The walls look like they're still intact, as far as I can see. We can get across the hanger, and go right around that hole."

"Are you sure that's stable?" Cortes asked.

"This isn't one of your thrown together pirate bases, Cortes. Sphere architecture is a little bit more reliable." She put her hand on the bottom rung, and then jumped as a piece of metal fell from the scaffolding above, bounced on the floor then tumbled down the hole.

Cortes raised an eyebrow. "Just a little..."

"Do you want to get out of here or not!" shouted Diwan.

"Calm down. If I didn't, I would've gladly let you drop down that hole."

Diwan rolled her eyes. "Yes, you're a real saviour. Get a kick out of running around with your guns and saving people from the horrible Sphere too, I suppose?"

Cortes narrowed his eyes. "I assure you, I do this for far more than the 'kick'."

Diwan shook her head, turned to the ladder and began climbing. "Of course you do."

Cortes scowled, but started climbing up after her anyway. "What about you?" he asked.

Diwan glanced down at him. "Pardon?"

"Why do you work for the Sphere? You must have a reason."

Diwan pulled herself up from the top rung then looked back down at Cortes. "What are you trying to do? 'Bond' or something?"

"No." Cortes made it to the top and climbed up beside her. "I'm curious."

Diwan looked at him, deciding whether it was worth replying to. "Because it's my duty," she said simply. She then turned and began - carefully - to make her way along the wall. She hadn't forgotten the metal that had plummeted off into the hole moments before.

"That's a really stupid answer," Cortes said from behind her.

Diwan stopped and spun around. "Why?"

"Keep moving, we're wasting time," Cortes said first. When Diwan moved again he continued. "It sounds more like an excuse to me."

Diwan stopped again. "Look, Cortes. I'm a seijin, I went through the Guardian academy. I'm second in command to Commander Oslo, and I have access to the highest levels of Guardian information. I fully understand what I'm doing. I have no need for excuses. And no, before you ask. The Guardian school and academy does not brainwash every seijin that comes in its doors. It simply educates them."

"Selectively, I would imagine. Don't worry, you've told me what I wanted to know."

Diwan rolled her eyes. "Whatever justifies your cause."

Cortes opened his mouth to reply but was cut short as the block once more started to shake. Another piece of rusted scaffolding bounced loose and clattered down the hole.

"Move!" Cortes shouted.

Diwan didn't argue. The scaffolding was starting to sway. While it had appeared stable enough earlier, it was now an entirely different matter when the very thing it was attached to was shaking itself apart.

A crack snaked up the wall from below, cutting across the scaffolding ahead. The rivets around the crack, attaching the scaffolding to the wall, started popping loose as the stress radiated outwards. Diwan made it past the point, just as the rivets worked themselves loose enough that the section she'd just been on began to sway downwards. It was the section Cortes was still on. Cortes grabbed the railing as it slid down the wall a full six feet.

Diwan leant hard against the wall as her section sagged slightly, but it stayed pretty much in place. She could see Cortes was in trouble.

Cortes looked up. Diwan's section was a few feet ahead. He could probably move forward and reach it. He shifted his weight forward and the section sagged, and then slid down a further two feet. Cortes knew he had to make a move, and make it now. He took the last paces in as much as a run as he could muster up, and leaped off the end like a springboard. His fingers grabbed the edge of the section ahead just as the one he was on totally ripped loose and clattered down into the pit, leaving him hanging over nothing.

"Need a hand?" Diwan shouted down at him.

"Yes!" Cortes shouted back, trying to re-grip his fingers as they each continually slipped off.

Diwan moved forward and then stopped at the edge, looking down at him.

"Well hurry up!"

"You know... I'm wondering how much help I'll need from you to keep your crew from attacking me. I might be able to manage on my own."

The block shook again, and Cortes had to totally shift his right hand to get a better grip. "We had a deal," he said. It was more of a resigned statement than a plea.

"I don't keep deals with those who fail to recognise the Sphere's authority." She lifted a foot over Cortes' left hand. "Goodbye, Cortes."

And then the scaffolding shook, popped off from the wall, and swung downwards. Diwan grabbed the railing, and she was suddenly in exactly the same position as Cortes. Except that what they held onto was now in danger of snapping clean off the wall.

"Think you don't need my help /now/?" Cortes growled.

The scaffolding was still attached at the far end, but Cortes and Diwan were left dangling over the pit. A few more rivets popped out and they skidded down further.

"How far are we from the edge of the hole?" Cortes shouted.

"I can't see it any better than you!" Diwan shouted back.

The scaffolding slipped again, swung even further down the wall, and then snapped off completely with a grind of tortured metal. A second later it, Cortes and Diwan hit the floor. The dust settled and the shaking died down, although the ground was still not completely still.

Cortes pushed himself up. He looked to his left side. The edge of the hole was only meters away. They probably had still been over it when the scaffolding had started to break off. But as it had stayed attached at the far end for awhile, the whole thing had swung itself over the edge and onto solid ground.

Cortes absorbed all this before getting up, walking over to Diwan, and pulling her up off the floor by the collar.

"We had a deal," he growled, "and while I know you probably don't always care about keeping those, I'd appreciate it if we could maintain some level of trust. Or we won't get out of here before this whole block breaks apart."

Diwan grabbed his hands and shoved them off. "What makes you so sure, Cortes? You may need my help. But I'm not so sure I need yours."

"Sure... I need you - that's if you're telling the truth about the gates. Tell me, how do you plan on opening them with your powers when there's no sunlight down here?"

"The light is filtered down into the compound at points right next to the gates," Diwan answered without hesitation. "If you can hold off killing me for five more minutes, I'll be able to show you. We should be close."

Cortes paused. "Alright. But you walk ahead of me so I can keep an eye on you."

Diwan didn't move, and stared Cortes back in the eye. "How do I know you actually trust me on this? If you don't, you won't see any reason to keep me alive. And down here, I think you're the one with the advantage."

"Fine. Then we'll walk together."


They continued through the complex without talking. Sure enough, within the next few minutes they came upon the 'gate'. It was less of a gate, and more of a large, obviously quite thick, metal door.

"So, how do you plan to open this exactly?" said Cortes. He moved up to the door and looked it up and down.

"Like I said, sunlight is filtered down," Diwan replied. She stepped to the side of the wall and flicked a switch. Something whirred, there was the sound of unseen pieces of machinery clicking into place, and then a thin shaft of sunlight blazed a line across the corridor in front of Diwan.

"Hold it!" Cortes jumped back and slammed his hand over the shaft of sunlight.

Diwan seemed slightly startled, but then regained her composure and raised an eyebrow. "Something bothering you?"

"I give you access to that sunlight, and I don't know what you'll do. You were already willing to drop me down a hole once you thought you had the advantage."

"I could. But you also realise if you don't let me at that sunlight, we can't escape?"

"I'm aware of that." He moved over to the switch. "One false move and I'll turn this off completely. And then it'll be back to me having the advantage."

Diwan seemed somewhat amused. "Alright, now let me open this."

Cortes moved his hand away from the light. Diwan put her hand over it and began to absorb the energy. She took her other hand, pointed at the gate, and shot a small shaft of light from her finger and into the centre or the door. The door whirred, shifted as the unused mechanisms started up again, and then each half slid jerkily into either side of the wall.

"You can turn it off now," Diwan said haughtily. "Before I betray you." She walked beyond the door.

Cortes scowled to himself, shut off the switch, and then followed Diwan. Beyond the door, rather than a continuing corridor, was an elevator. It looked large enough to carry a fair bit of freight, if necessary.

Diwan was waiting for him, and when he entered she hit a button. The elevator groaned, jerked, and finally started grinding upwards.

"What's at the top of this?" Cortes asked.

"More corridors. A few labs. Don't worry, there's no access to sunlight or weapons storage." She smirked slightly.

"What's so amusing?" Cortes asked pointedly. He didn't really like it when someone, especially an enemy, was laughing at him. One of the reasons people might laugh, was that they knew something you didn't. And knowledge was an advantage.

"Paranoia," she said simply.

Cortes looked at her for a few seconds before he replied. "I'm not paranoid."

"Just cautious then? Is caution the same reason you pirates attack unprotected water carriers, but run as soon as any ships capable of defending it show up? Although, I suppose after the defeat your 'rebellion' suffered all those years ago, anyone would run for fear of it happening again."

"Enough..." Cortes growled the warning.

Diwan paused. It was easy to see that she had hit a nerve. It was pathetic, really, that despite the fact Cortes thought he was right, he would let her so easily upset him. But then, when one trusted in something as weak as their feelings, it was easy to attack that foundation.

"The rebellion was actually a threat back then," Diwan continued. "Some in the Sphere perhaps even feared you. Or maybe they just feared Marcus Farrel. Either way... you're nothing now. Just a nuisance. I don't see why you even bother."

"Someone has to stand up to you," said Cortes simply. The lift doors opened. "Get out."

Cortes gave Diwan a shove, and they both moved out.

"Like the bully in the school yard, Cortes? Is that what you think we are?"

Cortes snorted. "That comparison hardly does justice to everyone you've killed."

"Murderers then? Whatever."

"Whatever..." Cortes repeated. "You hardly seem to care."

"I don't. It's their own fault if they defy the Sphere."

"It seems to me," said Cortes, his voice growing cold, "that just trying to live constitutes 'defying the Sphere'."

"Perhaps if you chose to obey the Sphere's laws; maybe live in Sphere controlled territory, I think you'd find that you'd manage to live quite easily."

"Yeah, right. If any pirate came to you wanting to live in peace, under your 'laws', you'd shoot them where they stood. That's how you serve your justice"

"No. You're wrong. If a pirate came to us, asking for forgiveness... we'd probably... 'coerce' them into telling us where Lena and your little hideout is."

"Alright, enough!" Cortes shouted. "I didn't come down here to fight with you."

"The corridors blocked," said Diwan, and stopped.


Diwan smiled slightly. She liked that the statement had thrown Cortes. She stopped smiling quickly however, as it was a real problem. "Look. It's caved in."

Cortes moved up beside her, checked that she didn't look like she was trying to pull anything, then went and looked closer. There were various bits of rocks strewn down the corridor, leading up to a big pile of them that was completely blocking the way. Most of them looked too heavy to shift.

"Is there any other way..."


Cortes stood there for a moment as if he didn't know what to do.

"Face it. We're trapped. The block is going to shake apart soon."

Cortes grabbed one of the rocks from the pile and heaved it back down the corridor.

"Hey!" Diwan jumped out of the way as it crunched past her leg. "What the hell are you doing?"

"The block hasn't shaken apart /yet/."

"You're a fool, Cortes. You'll never shift that wall by yourself."

"Want to help?" he growled, heaving another rock.

"We can't get out. You're just lying to yourself if you think you can." She paused, and then couldn't stop herself from adding: "Just like you're lying to yourself and everyone under you about beating the Sphere."

Cortes half-lifted another rock, then let it crunch back into the pile under its own weight. He looked back at Diwan. "I'd rather try, than just roll over." He looked back at the pile of rocks, then down at his hands. They were already slick with sweat, and he knew he could hardly lift many more rocks the size of the first one he'd shifted. And that was one of the smaller ones. He sighed, stepped back over the rocks to a clear bit of floor, and then slid down the wall and sat down.

Diwan looked at him and folded her arms. Then she sighed and sat down next to him. "I don't actually want to die anymore than you do," she spat out. "Guess you could've killed me anyway. Wouldn't have mattered."

"You could've killed me. Here," said Cortes.

Diwan looked at him, just as he handed her a fist sized rock. She looked at it, trying to decide how seriously to take him. Then she just growled and threw it across the corridor. "Good luck to your rebellion, now," she snapped.

"It hardly needs me. It's not like I'm Marcus Farrel."

Diwan looked back across at him. He wasn't looking at her, but she could see his eyes staring across the corridor. "No, you're not."

"The Sphere doesn't need you either."

"I know that."

He turned and looked at her then. "My crew is still going to keep fighting. And some day the Sphere is going to fall. Whether by them, or by someone else."

Diwan snorted. "The Sphere's too powerful."

"Read your history books, Diwan. Every power fails. Or blows up the planet."

"Look, I don't have to listen to you patronising me," she snapped, turning so that she was almost in his face.

Cortes stared back into her eyes.


"Nothing." Cortes stopped looking at her and leaned back against the wall.

"Well, you're not going to see the day it falls at any rate," she growled.

"What does that matter?"

"Oh, come on. Don't tell me you don't care whether everything you've done has made a difference? Which it hasn't."

"Are you trying to make our dying moments unpleasant?"

"You're avoiding the question."

"I don't think you really care about the answer." Cortes paused. "Of course, I do," he finally said. "Happy?"

"Well, at least I'm not the only one then. Although I'm sure Oslo will have no trouble finding someone to replace me..." she trailed off when Cortes looked at her. "Never mind."

"Unfortunately, he probably won't. Otherwise I'd find it a bit more satisfying that you're going to die down here as well."

"Who's being unpleasant now? Face it, Cortes. We're enemies. Dying together is hardly going to be pleasant."

"Dying never is. I've seen enough people die to know it's not."

"The ones you killed or the ones we killed?" Diwan asked, raising an eyebrow.

She got a cold glare in reply. "I hate you and everything you stand for, alright? The Sphere are murderers. You're a murderer..."

"Have you heard yourself!?" Diwan growled. She leaned up from the wall so that she could get right in Cortes' face. "All you're doing is trying to make what you're doing right. You don't care that we 'murdered' anyone. You just need some excuse to grab all of our water and do whatever you like. When's the last time you fought us off a block for the sake of 'saving' those on it? Not since the rebellion was crushed and Marcus Farrel was killed. And even then who's to say you weren't just doing it because you wanted the block?"

"You don't know that, Diwan!" Cortes shouted. The cold anger had suddenly dropped. Cortes grabbed her arm and pointed with his other in her face. "Don't think we wouldn't if we could."

"But we're too powerful... right?"

"Right..." Cortes sighed and let her go. "Diwan... do you think you could shift off of me a bit?"

"I wasn't that close until you pulled me there," Diwan growled. She moved out of his face and leaned up against the wall again. "Getting a bit too happy there, Cortes?"

Cortes sat up and faced her. "Oh, will you just grow up..." he paused as he found himself staring into Diwan's eyes. "I told you, I hate you."

"And I hate you. Trust me, if I had my seijin powers now, I'd probably kill you."

"You're lucky I'm more restrained," growled Cortes.

He was angry. And he was right in her face. She could feel his warm breath. "Funny, you didn't feel so restrained a moment ago," prodded Diwan. But even as she said it she could feel her own body responding to his closeness.

Cortes didn't answer. He just kept looking at her. Then he swallowed hard. "We are going to die here... right?"

"Right..." Even as she finished saying it she felt Cortes press his lips against hers. At first he was just barely touching hers, as if he didn't really want to be doing this. Or maybe he was just waiting for her to respond. Because when she did he pulled her closer until they're bodies were right up against each other.

Cortes didn't know why he'd started this. All he knew was that he was suddenly playing tonsil hockey with a Sphere operative. And he couldn't stop. Diwan was pressed right up against him. He could feel her warmth and her breath and her hands roving around his clothing looking for a way past it.

But he felt nothing for Diwan. Nothing that should make him do this. He hated her. And he was sure she felt the same about him.

So why was his body reacting so strongly to her? Perhaps, he thought, the hate they felt for each other had built to such a level that it was evoking a passion just as strong as love would. But that didn't make them the same thing. Far from it. "Diwan..." he started, and then was cut off as her lips pushed back against his again. "Stop..."

She paused, her forehead against his, glaring up into his eyes. "You stop," she growled, "You started it."

"Stop. Because I can't. And I still hate you."

Diwan stared at him for a moment. And then Cortes felt her hands move, find his and move them from off of her. She shifted off him and leaned back against the wall.

Cortes gritted his teeth and closed his eyes, forcing himself to relax. He could feel the vibrations of the block falling apart. And they were getting stronger. Diwan was still next to him; she hadn't moved very far. And while he was pretty sure that she hadn't been any more comfortable with that situation than he had, she didn't seem like she was going to move any further. Cortes didn't feel like moving either.
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