1 The inside of the eggsack was so dark and desolate, the light breaking through the thick layer of V-blak barricading the space was but a small pond of visible light in a sea of grayish darkness. If it wasn t for the fact it was tinged blue in color, the entire place would just a monochrome mess occupying Skye s entire vision. She had to blink several times just to make sure she was seeing things right. While her eyes got used to the pitch darkness of traveling through the Varenoblak barrier, it didn t prepare her quite yet to the sights inside the cloud-like shell. First was the egg itself, upside-down and almost perfectly oval shaped and eggshell colored. Upon looking at it a bit closer and for longer, Skye could notice peculiar patterns strewn on the shiny white surface of the egg. Tiny creeks and ravines ran down its length and around its eggy circumference like a battle-scarred terrain. Some of the ravines were old and faded, and deposits of some sort of mineral colored their walls a browny orangy color. Some holes and chasms looked a lot newer, and at their valleys was freshly frozen ice, glistening in the dim light like a river under starlight. It was hard focusing on the features of the land from this distance. Every time she tried to narrow down her eyes she d get distracted by a variety of blue-gray specs, swarming across her vision like flies, making her feel insecure in her own sight. It was a little chilling. Skye shook the feeling off and ignored the specs that were dancing in the faint halo of light around the flipped egg. Non-brown ravine seem to be a lot newer, like it s been carved out recently from individual holes. My theory is the giant sized makeup station outside with their mirrors. They must have been here for at least a while. Skye spoke into her recorder/communication device, hoping her info was being recorded not just in the memory banks of the small gadget, but also in Andrew s brain. Andy, you re listening? Skye asked, a little bit wary of the situation she was in. Nothing seemed too dangerous so far, but it was eerily cold, even inside her protective bubble. Yes. I am. Not to your rambling about ravines though. I need to know what s up with you in there. Are you okay? Andrew s voice was muffled through the communication device, more than usual. It sounded like he was taking a little whiff from a helium balloon every half a second or so, and the effect would only last for about a quarter of a second. It was a bit distracting. And Skye couldn t afford to be distracted, or at least she didn t want to. Listen, it s cute you re worrying about me, but it s alright. I m not being held at gunpoint or something. You re more of a distraction right now anyway. Skye said and regained her focus. Her eyes were getting a bit weary though. As the egg seemed closer, the tiny particles were still swarming in her vision, running in circles and annoying her.
2 Okay okay, that s good. You ll tell me what a gunpoint is later, but no guns sounds pretty good to me. Now, stop rambling about holes and tell me your vital signs. Andrew said, he was still in the yard, pacing back and forth between the dead plants that should ve been alive and the thriving culture of plants that shouldn t have been dead. Temperature: cold. Heartbeat: pumped up, but like excited pumped up, not heart failure. Um what else is there? Skye joked around. She did stop her drone s movement, waiting for confirmation from Andrew before continuing onward. He did know more about conditions in the sky, after all. Skye, you know that s not what I m talking about He said and his body s center of mass drifted downward a bit. Their home s island was now floating above the Varenoblak. Andrew was standing next to the docking port for bridges and ships. He looked downward at the dent Skye made in her entrance to the shell. He stared at it for a while, trying to imagine his companion s face in the white fluff. Vargas, you re not answering. The man grabbed a strand of hair that got loose over his forehead and moved it out of the way. He knew it was pointless, but he kept driving it back to his head over and over. Of course not. I told you, there s no need to worry about it until the 26 th. I m doing fine, honestly. If you could see, you d witness for yourself how fit I am. Skye brushed off his concerns and made an exaggerated movement with her arm, like she was testing it to see if it works. Well, can you see at least? He asked. Yes. Barely. It s very grey and blue here. There s a bunch of light coming out of Gennai, so I can see what s in front of me, and the controls. Light doesn t come in bunches. It does on the surface. Everything comes in whatever quantity we say it does. I m sure the optic differences between the Land Above and the surfaceworld are fascinating. It s more of a cultural difference, really. Skye chuckled. She started going in circles mid-air out of boredom. She looked up, and could see past her Gennai s gyroscope that she was still very close to the ceiling of the eggsack. Still, no giant eggs in the surface. I can see that just fine though. It reflects light and it s a little shiny and particle-y. Can I keep talking about that?
3 Were you talking about that before? Yeah! She raised her voice an octave, sounding squeaky before she came down from it. Oh yeah the ravines. I m sorry, I m just not really concerned about the topology of things like that. What about their numbers, sizes? You re treating this from the wrong approach. Don t think about it like selling actual eggs, it s more like selling real estate. I m not selling it. We are not selling anything, Skye. But you said we would! That was when I had visual on you, and your voice didn t sound like it s echoing forever. The creeks that are old seem to have a cap limit, not reaching higher than 15% of the distance from the top or lower than 5% of distance from the bottom. I think the composition causing their brown-ish color is salt, perhaps composed in a new crystal due to Sky physics. Okay fine, just don t stay there forever counting salt. Yay. Skye made an unexcited shout of glee before she spun around in the air, which made her shriek for real as she felt the cold air make unique patterns as it travels through the filter of her bubble. So, real questions now. How many eggs are in there? Just one. It s upside-down. Really? Yeah, all turned up and pointing downwards. No, yeah I know that. I mean, is there really only one? Are you sure you didn t miss any? It s dark, is it not? It s dark yeah, but it s not like I can miss one of them. I pretty much have visual on the entire sack from up here. And there s the whole reflecting glow thing. It has this halo of light, actually hurts my eyes a little in this darkness, makes bits fly over and about my retina. Skye said as she scanned the interior of the large V-blak casing. Don t worry though, we could market a single large egg as community strengthening and the public transportation fees will be miniscule. We ll make a huge profit. We are not selling real estate, I told you. We re selling water.
4 Well at least I got you down from selling nothing. Skye stuck out her tongue at nothing, before quickly receding it from the cold air almost making her tongue feel like it is getting shrunken. Andrew just stretched his neck, releasing the built up tension and looking up. He was surprised to find the concrete undercarriage of the work station. Tubes, wires and boxes of metals were sticking out and in from the concrete and a square of engines illuminated the center of it. The station was close enough to make out how many workers were tending to the mirror and how many were out of sights. He looked down to the craterlike dent Skye left in the pillowy white exterior of the sack. It was proof that he wasn t moving, and it just meant he had two concerns now. Now you re not answering, Mr. Oblak. Skye teased. By the way, how did you know the egg is upside-down? Skye asked, pulling Andrew out of his little paranoid spiral of feeling flanked by two threats. Okay okay, yeah the egg. Sorry What for? Never mind. I never do. Andrew responded to her little remark with a chuckle and coughed twice before continuing to talk. Just try and look past the ice and all of your funny ravines. Can you see the water below? I think maybe. Skye s pupils were wide due to the enclosing darkness. She wasn t focused enough to see anything, and when she squinted gradually, getting her eyelids close together, not enough light entered her eyes to make out anything in the darkness, except a single feature. She put Gennai out of suspension mode and started descending slowly downward to get a better view of the egg. Her hands were a little shaky, and held onto the motion controller too tightly. It seemed like she was veering a little bit backwards in a 5 degree angle, yet for some reason it was the bottom of Skye s feet that were the center point of the tilt. She corrected for that mistake as she got closer and closer until the ravines became visible even when squinting. She was on the same plane as the egg s center. That s when the blurry feature she spotted became the clearest. But for some reason her vision was still full of spots and particles. Huh, nice. This egg has a yolk. Is it literally an egg? Skye asked, tilting the drone back and forth to try and get a better angle at it. It looked like just a regular shadow at first, but it was fairly clear from here that she was looking at the underwater silhouette of a big dark sphere within the egg s watery depth, just where a yolk is expected to be in a boiled egg.
5 No, it s not literally an egg. That yolk is the core of the egg, it s like the bottom of a pool in normal gravity. Andrew explained. Is this egg not in normal gravity? Sort of. It doesn t really have a gravitational pull of its own like a planet, but from a certain distance it can have an effect that s similar to a planet s gravity by manipulating Earth s gravity. It has to do with the water, basically the transition from the metallic core to the water surface creates a field of intersecting forces in 90 degree angles which together create a zero sum. The oval shape is created when the water is pulled by both the core and Earth, that s why it s upside-down, Earth is pulling it downward. Oh my god, no. No physics lesson! Skye complained as she kept flying closer to the egg. Last time you refused a physics lesson you ended up expecting a pool of water and finding an egg. And weren t you just talking about the physics of salt and ice deposits? And that was a pleasant surprise and it made me want to know more about the egg, like its chemistry and stuff. I m not looking for what makes it an egg at the deepest regions of its icy pools. I m not gonna go explore deep waters Pythagorean triangles any time soon. No, that would be inadvisable, whatever those are. Okay so how far does the gravity thing work? How close are you? About meters away. Should I get closer? Oh yeah definitely. You need to be practically on the ice in order to be affected by the gravity. I ve been to one egg once where the water were so shallow you could raise your hand up and feel your fingers being pulled in a different direction than your feet. Of course, it wasn t frozen. That s cool, so I can basically just fly to it and land? She flew closer at a rapid rate, feeling the cold air soaring through her hair like she was in a wind tunnel. She rarely ever got to travel in such high speeds. There were no airplanes or cars in the Land Above, after all. She made a little woo sound but soon closed her mouth, the lessons from her previous attempts to expose her tongue to the cold air not quite scorched in her memory. She opened her eyes wider and wider as she got closer, letting the light reflecting from the egg illuminate her vision like the nightlight in her room or the light of a fridge. She could see everything better now. The color of the salt deposits at the bottoms of the little ravines, the texture of the ice, its flats and wave-like slopes. But also the disturbances. The little spots in her vision were worse. Not larger in numbers or more distracting. Just, bigger.
6 Oh my god, they re not in my eyes! They re not in my eyes! Skye shouted, the tone and intonation of her voice were difficult to decipher through the muffled and jumpy signals coming through the Varenoblak barrier separating the two of them. After that, there was silence. The device s signal indicator decreased to a zero. Andrew bit the inside of his cheek and let out cold air through his nostrils. This is bad he muttered to himself. He knew better than to try to screaming into the device, since such a thing would cause it to break even further. Andrew tried listening in again to make sure everything was alright, but the replayed recording wasn t much clearer about what happened in there. Something worse than V-blak must have been blocking their signal. Andrew looked up and saw how the station was hovering above him, and the men working were shouting at his other in angry tones, made to sound even angrier by the fact Andrew couldn t tell what they were saying. He took back a few steps as the factory-like station aligned its position once again, but not with the house. The large cement square was floating gently with surgeon like precision to the dent in the V-blak cloud Skye made in her entry. Are you jamming the signals?! He shouted up to them, but they didn t answer. He tried his best to remember the words appropriate for that situation, but his memory failed him. He just shouted at them again, his throat a little hurting from screaming, and also from perhaps a little bit of worrying. More than just his regular concern. Only after a few minutes did somebody approach him. They pulled up their own crossing bridge, which was more advanced and at much better shape than the one Andrew and Skye used to cross over to them just this morning. The home s bridge was a simple arched strip of metal where one side would detach from a magnetic hook on the side of their little island and then reattach on a similar hook on their target connecting the two. The station s bridge was a prehensile piece made out of interconnected parts that formed a variety of bridge shapes. Right now their bridge was similar to a staircase made out of long elongated steps. Andrew was hoping for cooperation, surely in this extreme circumstance he could trust professionals to help him out. His posture was relaxed and his stance more or less welcoming when the workers started descending down the ladder from their station to the extended staircase. But they were not alone, or carried any construction equipment so to speak. They were carrying something Andrew knew perfectly well. He quickly ran over to the hook of the bridge and inputted the password to disengage. The workers saw him and sped up their movements. They got on their feet and two of them held onto the two back handles of a large riot shield. The shield was the height of an average man and nearly twice as wide, but was a little smaller than both of them so they had to cower behind it with their shoulders out. From Andrew s perspective it was a shiny black glassy material, but the workers, one which was the boss, could see through from the transparent side of the reinforced glass.
7 Though he couldn t see the look in their eyes, he knew he was in deep trouble, they fucked up for real this time. This wasn t just any construction company. Skye! Emergency! Emergency! They re soldiers, Skye! We fucked up! Andrew tried to call in desperately as he was running away from the soldiers coming down the now detached staircase. He ran into the house. As he climbed up the house s stairs to the attic control room he heard the booming voice of a woman. The announcer was speaking in English from a pre-recorded message. You have breached J.Gita property, please cease all acceleration and await arrest. Hah. I always wanted to say something vague like that. Skye after she had a good laugh and swung around in her drone, not caring for the slight tilt that much. You know, something super unclear and then people have to piece together what it meant? Aren t you in suspense? She chuckled and waited for another groan or maybe some banter from Andrew. But Andrew remained quiet. In fact, the distorted static from the other side was replaced with an uneasy silence. Skye stopped her swinging about and looked down at her device, which was secured to one of the chains holding her up to the large drone. It had no signal. It had the option to connect to a network called J.Gita OSJ but it had zero bars and so was the near-distance communication. Fuck. So typical. Well not of him just typical I guess. She complained to nobody in particular. She decided instead to activate the recording function and record another log for her little sky exploration audiolog , Varenoblak Eggsack 001, 15:40-ish Skye tried estimating time. Without connection, it was hard for her device s watch to work properly. Time in the Land Above was not quite like time on the surface, both literally and in the way it was measured. Skye leaned back and tried relaxing. She knew Andrew was more or less a buff guy, and the house was a well-stocked small fortress if it needed to be. He s ought to be fine. She took advantage of the little unexplained pull making her back support rod tilt in a pretty comfortable angle. She checked everything there was need to check: gyroscope, rotor speed and condition, and battery. Everything was working fine. The controls were confused a little because of the tilt, but it wasn t something Skye couldn t enjoy. For the next few minutes she blabbered on into the device about what she saw and felt in the interior of the sack and on the way inside it. She took a few pics of her shield, but it was too dark for the device s crummy camera. After mouthing off about upside-down eggs and blue glows she finally got to the interesting part.
8 What was first thought to be spots and splotches or particles in my vision, or perhaps some optic illusion, turned out to be quite literal. Skye recited into the mic with gusto. The egg is surrounded by them, literally. They re dancing in circles around the eggy little bastard, swimming through the air in elliptic orbits. Yeah, I suppose they are literally orbiting the egg, considering its pseudo-gravity. Skye was proud of herself for her deduction, smiling widely. She had no idea what was going on with her partner and landlord, but didn t bug her right now. She needed to get closer. She was at a distance of about 250 meters from the egg at first, and the diameter of the thing was about 100 meters at the widest point. She got closer just a bit, trying to make out details on the orbiting objects without being picked up by the gravitational effect herself. Not yet at least. She followed one particular flying anomaly that seemed slow enough to track. She saw it emerge from behind the egg and start flying closer to Skye in a very far orbit. I should have brought my binoculars with me. I didn t expect this place to be so spacey. Skye commented. In her imagination she was hoping from egg to egg in a giant space packed full of them. She tried concentrating on the object without being distracted by her own thoughts and the dozens of other similar objects that were orbiting in lower orbits around the reflective shiny eggy orb. She was tempted to drive her trusty Gennai even closer and closer, making it tilt more and more which made it move ever so closer still. She was now leaning almost 30 degrees more than she was outside. She looked more like somebody watching the game while sprawled over their couch, rather than a young person suspended by chain from a drone inside a cold space thousands of meters up in the air. Or maybe she was actually bird-watching. Yeah, that analogy seemed more and more true to her as the object drew nearer, except it wasn t an object at all. Skye took a deep breath, ignoring the cold air rushing through her throat and screamed out loud. Partly a scream of horror and partly excitement, when she saw the small spot wasn t so small, or a spot. It was a bird. A light blue and rather enormous bird from a type she never saw before on the surface or in the sky. It feathers were wrapped up around its body, and its beaks was pointing inwards and eyes were closed, so Skye could only see part of the large creature s visage. Its feathers were of two kinds. An array of long and curvy feathers that covered up the bird s torso and most of its legs in its cradled up form. And a second kind, smaller and chubbier. A bright and shinier blue than the other feathers, almost crystal like in its texture. They were strewn about the bird s wings like confetti spilled on a kid s arts-andcrafts. The last part of the bird s body Skye noticed before it became really close was its feet, not quite uncovered by the wings. They were the same crystal blue as the strewn about small feathers. They shaped quite weirdly though, not like chicken legs as Skye excepted, but more like a backwards and complex shape of talons.
9 She couldn t focus on more than that before something extraordinary happened. As the bird was flying jaw-droppingly close to the observing Skye, it suddenly flapped its wings with power, and the flapping noise was enough to make Skye s feet tremble with more than just excitement. She was shaking visibly. She grabbed onto the seat with one of her thighs and reflexively leaned back, but it didn t help much, the drone only propelled forward, closer to the orbit of the bird, which now was outright flying. Skye could see its entire wingspan from above as it flew sideway. Down for it was the egg, not the ground. Skye freaked out, but eventually got it together and moved the drone in the right angle and direction to get away from the reawakened creature. But it was too late. The creature noticed her and turned its long opaque head towards the whirring machine that got too close and disturbing its sleep. It looked at Skye with the top three of four blank white wide open eyes that spanned 360 degrees of its head. Its long and sharp beak looked more like a mosquito mouth than anything a bird should have. But when it opened its beak Skye could see, between the rapid beats of her heard clouding her vision, that it indeed was a beak, just one that opened in four directions instead of two. The scream was something else though. More than just a bird with alien features, it seemed to be a completely alien sound. Just as terrible as the screeching of any surface vulture (if you can even call a flying avian a surface dweller) it ringed and tingled at the same time. Like both a melody and a battlecry, it was foreboding. And its volume was strong enough to overpower even Skye s frantic screaming. The creature launched at her, leaving its orbit it now positioned its flight trajectory like a guided missile straight towards her. Its wings curved backwards and to the side to create a cilyndrical form as it dove through the air in the sound of fury and tiny jingling crystals. Before she knew what happened, the creature has clashed directly with her shield and sparks started flying both in and out of it. The bird startled and flew back, flapping its wings backwards a few times, trying to stabilize itself in place. Skye tried desperately to turn on her proverbial heels and run away but the thing was still ready for more. It spiraled upwards like a tornado, opened its wing span again as wide as possible. Its sillhouette was imposing even if Skye didn t know what it was capable of. It flew forward for only a few seconds until it was behind Skye, and her helpless little bubble was between it and the now a lot less majestic egg. The creature made its horrible cry once again and then and launched. But instead of trying to stab her with its mighty four-way beak, it tackled her with its shoulder. This time sending significantly less sparks, but much more screams from Skye, who couldn t see what was happening, the bird pushed her with its shoulder.
10 Skye cried out as her helmet was yanked by the chains and the entire construct of her bubble, herself and Gennai was pushed out of balance. She blacked out for just a few seconds as her head crashed into something she barely realized to be the inner wall of the bubble. When she came to, the bird left her alone. The bubble was shaking rapidly and filling up with smoke which came from the damaged engine of the drone. And worse of all, she was accelerating. Falling. Plummeting even. She looked forward, or more accurately, downward, at the shiny foreboding surface of The Egg. She was caught in The Egg s gravitational field, and now was falling towards it in an acceleration almost as fast as regular freefalling. She was freefalling. In a broken drone. From a height of 200 meters. F-fucking typical. She muttered.