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This is the first part of the story written [email protected] :
As the Kunst Meister tried to move with caution, the twist brought him a chorus of pangs along the neck, till exploding within his head its white vowel of pain.
Far away, to the south, the white smoke of the stalled hoverbike no longer stood out from the purple sky.
Everything in that cursed place was wrong and the black powder was a whisk, shaken by the suffocating wind of a perverse and tireless djinn.
Now he had the certainty that all those stories whispered by candlelight were not only true, but also a pale and dull representation of the deafening truth in front of his eyes.
At every shallow breath, the macabre dunes of the Obsidian Desert reminded him of the long distance covered.
Since he had left the hoverbike behind him, he had tried to taunt himself about the creeping and imperceptible movements of the sand. By now, however, it was no longer possible to ignore it: the dunes had definitively assumed the shape of deformed faces. The Meister struggled not to look at them but could not ignore those soulless empty orbits, which peered his every uncertain step. Those mounds were reproducing his face, multiplied in a kaleidoscope of abomination.
Among the dunes, madness used to arrive well before dehydration.
He almost did not notice that the Tesseract 19 could be seen to the naked eye, right at the horizon. The column pierced the black sea and challenged the streaked clouds. The awareness of his distance made him wince. That construction was huge, that artifact was Moloch's sharpest tooth.
The warm wind delivered to him, intertwined with dust, an imperceptible howl: the wail of the monolith, an omen of death.
The man waited, an immobile exoskeleton bent over the black sand. The helmet laying abandoned beside him. Soon everything would be accomplished, one way or another.
My contribution to the story:
A sun spider ran out of the mouth of one of the distorted faces plaguing the sand dunes. Was this the Obsidian Desert’s mirage or the Djinn’s mimicry test? The sun spider was closing its distance with lightning speed. A bite from it would certainly be the death of him, a slow and agonizing one. A choice had to be made. Keeping his face steady without showing the slightest amount of fear, the spider got within a foot of his face, changed into a giant centipede, crawled up onto his face, and down the back of his suit through a small opening. He had to remain motionless. One move and the Djinn may deliver the nasty blow that would be the end of him. Choices.
This is the best that you’ve got? Kunst said only in his thoughts. The negative energy this Djinn was seeking was not there. So it teleported itself out of Kunst’s suit and onto the sand dune. It stared at him. The eyes were searching for the weakness in his opponent. Making a man go mad was this Djinn’s game. Kunst know it. As long as Kunst could shield his mind against the psychological attacks, there wasn’t much the Djinn could do. Kunst had to know what he saw was real, while letting the fantasy play itself out.
A helicopter sound could be heard off in the distance. The Djinn’s attention was now distracted. The dunes became their normal shapes again. Kunst turns up the radio’s speaker, the most valuable piece of equipment he had left that could possibly save his life. In an effort to keep the helicopter from discovering where Kunst lay, sand in the shape of funnels began to rise all around, reaching the height of twelve feet and spanning a diameter of twelve feet at the top. The Djinn didn’t have the option to fail the task he was given. It would mean the end for him, but he wasn’t allowed to physically kill Kunst.
Kunst heard some crackling over the radio but nothing was coming through. The sand was creating an electrical disturbance; radio communication became almost impossible.
The helicopter was getting closer. It was above the funnels of sand. Mustering up his last bit of strength, Kunst’s laborious body shifting got his arm moving down to where the flare was. Time was ending. His consciousness turned to a black screen. Where he was he could no longer remember. Saliva had stopped producing in his mouth. He crunched down on the sand, wanting to spit it out, but where? He became conscious again with the flare in his hand. Letting his arm fall, the flair ignited. A cloud of yellow smoke instantly swirled up through the funnels closest to him. The sand abruptly stopped its motion, falling back down to the earth.
A metal claw wrapped itself around Kunst’s body, lifting him up into the air and away from the scene. This was not going to be the last of the Djinn. It had its mission to complete; its master was not one to let failure go unpunished.