They were standing in front of the bunker. It was a bit north of lake Sewi, in a part of Majala that although barren, was no longer a desert. The bunker was hidden beneath the ground. A staircase dug in the earth led to the metallic door, from behind of which a bluish-whitish light escaped, reflecting on the fog inside.
They got closer. They could not see beyond the fog, and so went in. At first they saw only the fog, luminous. It gave them an idea of space that was much bigger than it was. Then, they walked a bit forward on the nude concrete ground, and saw that no, the space really was much bigger. The fog separated for a bit and they could see a gigantic space, filled with the bluish fog. The bottomless abyss was punctuated with square concrete towers that reached far into the fog above and below. The towers were linked together by walkways of concrete; reddish pink banners were hung on the towers and were flapping aimlessly in the wind.
They continued on their walkway, careful not to slip into the void. The concrete was slippery, due to the humid fog all around, so they had to do their best. There was a little wind in the Gut, but not enough to push them. After a bit of walking, they arrived inside a tower. The tower seemed completely filled up, except for the part at which they arrived, which was completely hollowed out and led to more walkways. There were no decorations inside the tower. Just raw, brutal, oppressing concrete.
A figure in a blanket was laying in a corner. They got closer, the figure shuffled and a dirty, unwashed face emerged. "Got some food ? I don't like to ask, but I'm starving." Melissa gave some food to the woman, and as she ate, Melissa asked a question. "What Ideal is this the gut of ?
-How can we get to that Ideal ?
-How long have you been here ?
Jhin took Melissa up and they left, as they wouldn't gain any information. This all had made Melissa much more determined to destroy that gut and let the people inside leave. As they meandered through the towers, they saw many other people, all asking for food. They didn't have many rations left, so Jhin convinced Melissa to stop giving them away after a certain point.
They got to a staircase. Up until now, they had always been on the same level. They went downstairs, and emerged in a well-lit room. The stone floor of the room was tiled with square stone blocks, the walls were of stone blocks as well, and lightly ornate columns were stretching to the ceiling. In between two colons, under two of the yellow lights, another figure in a blanket was sitting straight, with another blanket on the floor in front of them. "Care to buy something ?" They asked, and pointed to the various canned food on the blanket before them.
Jhin checked if these were the cans they had given, but these were different. "Why... don't you give any of the cans to the others ?" asked Melissa. "Well, the Ideal ruling this gut said that the one who was the most like them would be able to escape," the figure answered, "So, i'm keeping them under my domination."
Jhin dragged Melissa to a staircase going down before she hurt the merchant. The following floor was so similar to the one before that they wondered if Jhin confused the staircases and went upstairs again. But no, behind them the stairs were going up. They continued on the concrete. A few times, they slipped and nearly fell, if it wasn't for the other one. They went down a few more stairs, and as they descended, the fog around them got darker, as if they were descending into the night. On the towers, strong sodium lamps showered the space with a yellow light.
After a bit, everything was completely dark around them, save for the lamps. And finally, they were at the bottommost tower. But, looking upward, they couldn't see the maze they had just gone through, and downward, where there should only be naked towers, was a maze of concrete passages of which they could only see the fractions illuminated by the yellow glare.
Inside the tower was a much greater space than they would have thought. It was dark, but unlike outside they could still see details, which they interpreted as stormy clouds. Occasionally, lightning flashes let them see that they were standing on a transparent glass floor, under which they could see more of the stormy clouds.
"And here are the interlopers..." A loud voice, ringing thunderous. "Those who would break that dear system I put in place."
-Dear system ?
-Yes ! If they try hard enough and shoot high enough, anyone can reach the top.
-Reaching the top means you have to walk on others. After all, there can only be one person at the top in this system.
-That's what makes it so interesting."
Below the glass floor, a hole in the clouds let the concrete bridges, illuminated by a golden glare. In a lightning strike, a giant silhouette cut itself out in the sky. Without warning, the next thunderstrike hit the ground next to Melissa. An easy invitation.
They both ran in opposite directions. Equality stayed in the middle and rose, its blade skyward, drawing in arcs of lightning. With every arc, it flinched to the side then reverted to its orientation, still rising.
The clouds around the shadow in the sky parted, and the figure was revealed. Multiple great pairs of horns, each adorned with gold and rare fabric. Three eyes, observing and dissecting the world. A strong body, in a light leather bind. A long piece of the same fabric as the flags, ever powerful legs. Gold bangles on all limbs. A long, angular pointed tail, and a red leather whip, coursing with thunder. This was the Ideal of domination.
Equality stopped rising. Domination cracked its whip, and a wave of lightning spread out. Equality endured it, but Jhin and Melissa were sent back. Melissa took aim with her rifle, and shot a few rust bullets toward Domination, but with a wave of their hand, Domination made them drop to the ground. Jhin ran back until they were under Domination, going left and right and jumping around to dodge lightning strikes, then made a wave in reality. Domination writhed, but Jhin couldn't make constructs as strong as Melissa's.
"Melissa !" Melissa understood. She took aim, and fired a simple bullet. However, she fired it not toward Domination, but toward Jhin. At the same time she fired, Jhin made a wave in reality in the direction of Equality, who at the same time was winding back. The bullet bounced on the waves and imbued itself with it, Its new trajectory was toward Equality, which, as soon as the bullet arrived in range, absorbed a lightning strike while whipping back toward the bullet and domination. The bullet bounced on the sword, and the lightning arced around it. Domination made lightning fall on the bullet, but it was already protected by its own thunder, and the bullet hit Domination's third eye.
Domination howled in pain and writhed, holding its forehead. It looked back through its fingers, with a gaze so spiteful that Melissa felt shivers. The giant turned, and a great wave came by. It wasn't lightning, instead they felt like they were drowning. Equality fell to the ground, and so did Melissa. Jhin was standing alone.
Panicked, he tried to make waves again toward Domination, but he couldn't focus and Domination started to laugh at them. Jhin saw Melissa's body. He saw her try to stand up, but get struck down by lightning again and again. They felt their heart twinge a little bit, and were surprised. Surprised that their heart twinged at all. Since when do I care about people ? Since wh- Lightning. Why do I- Thunder.
He tried t- Craaaaack - to focus. To for- rrRRRRr- get the world outside. And to view a wave. A wave, in water. A wave, that ripples in a tight canal. that gets higher and higher. They stuck their arm out toward Domination. It decided to let them finish his attack to mock them more. Two long cracks ran parallel from Jhin's hands. Domination understood just in time what was happening, but it was too late. The wave coursed between the cracks, like a wave getting amplified in a canal.
Domination hit the wave in full force, and was sent back to the ground. Melissa stood up, and went toward Jhin. They looked at each other, and nodded. Melissa took aim, Jhin focusing on the mouth of the cannon, and Melissa fired a volley of shots. All of them hit Domination, all imbued with the waves in reality.
A few moments later, the space around them disappeared. They were standing in front of the bunker, and it was noon. The sky was clear. In front of them, on the ground, was an old stone key.