“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” said Jade, cradling her head in her palms. Fat Solomon only frowned.
Eden shrugged. “I’m in the exact same boat. Been here for years.”
The three of them were sitting in a large room deep within the Oasis. Eden had shut down the defense systems long enough for the detectives to make their way inside, but there was still a general sense of unease lingering throughout the area. The Oasis itself was unlike anything Jade has experienced before; an enormous dome carved up into an almost uncountable amount of rooms and levels. Although the walls were the same white material as the outside, they had been covered by an array of vines, flowers, and exotic plants to reduce the eye-blinding brightness. In fact, almost everything was composed of some form of plant life, including the giant leafy chairs they were currently sitting on. It was almost enough to give the illusion of being in a sprawling rain forest, if it wasn’t for the bizarre creatures that roamed the halls.
When Eden had first brought them into the Oasis, Jade almost thought the walls and floors were shifting. It was only upon closer inspection that she realized the area was covered with small creatures composed of wood and grass. Vaguely human shaped, they marched stiffly and silently across the ground, tending to plants, carrying items, and serving general upkeep of the Oasis. Eden referred to them as “Wildwood” and despite their unnatural yet cute appearance; Jade couldn’t help but feel that they were mindless soldiers, and would act as such if duty called. She pictured an army of them swarming over her, and then decided she was glad they were on her side…so far.
“So, no magic portal?” said Jade. “No crystals, teleportation spells, dimensional rifts, anything like that?”
“Do you think I would still be here if I could return home so easily?” asked Eden.
“You’d be surprised how often people want to stay. I mean, look at you. You’ve got magical plant super powers and a legion of loyal minions.”
Eden leaned forward in her chair. “And I would give it all up if it meant I could see my parents again, be a normal person, and leave this hell for good.” She folded her hands and stared at the two detectives. “But that’s not what you came here for, is it?”
Jade gave a short laugh. “She’s good, huh, Fats? Got us all figured out.”
Eden smiled, drawing her lips into a tight line. “More than you might expect.” She stood up and walked over to the side of the room, where a Wildwood stood holding a piece of paper. She glanced at it, made a note, and the Wildwood scurried off. “I have to thank you for taking care of the Minotaur. At least on that part, our goals met. I wish I could have been there to see it myself, but my Wildwoods say that it was pretty explosive.”
“The Minotaur…?” said Jade. “Ah. The Anomaly. I see where this is going.”
Eden turned around, facing them. “What was it you said? ‘Access the portal, eliminate the Anomaly, get the hell out. Finding the kids was an excuse to get to the portal, nothing more.”
“And that’s why I hate magical creatures,” said Fat Solomon.
“I don’t appreciate you lying to my parents,” said Eden.
“If you knew what the Anomalies are capable of, you’d understand why we did,” said Jade.
“The Minotaur ripped a hole through my friend’s chest,” said Eden. “I think I know what it’s capable of.”
“Well, then excuse me for trying to make sure it didn’t get out,” said Jade. “Yeah, I get it. It sucks we got your parent’s hopes up and all, but everything considered, it’s probably better than being killed by one of those things in the middle of their house. And believe me, there’s more out there. So unless we get back to our own dimension soon, there won’t be a home for you and your friends to go back to.”
At that, Eden became silent. She walked back over to a chair and sat down, looking at the ground. “The others didn’t make it.”
“You’re the only one that didn’t bite it? Well, at least that Hope kid won’t be a problem,” said Fat Solomon.
Eden looked up, her eyes red, but tearless. “Don’t you dare say anything about Harold. You have no idea what type of person he is.”
Fat Solomon smirked. “Well if he’s anything like his Dad, he’s a complete asshat-“
Eden moved a hand through the air, and a spiked vine streamed out from the ground, wrapping around Jade and Fat Solomon’s ankles. Within seconds, both detectives had their guns drawn.
“Not a good move,” said Jade. “On both your parts. Fats, remind me to hit you when I’m not being attacked by plants. Eden, we’re trained killers. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the opposite side of these barrels.”
At that moment, the Wildwoods throughout the Oasis began screeching, an abnormally high sound for a bunch of wood.
“Shit,” said Eden, removing the vines. “We’ll have to deal with this later.”
“Why, what’s going on?” asked Jade.
“I hope you’re as good at killing as you say you are,” said Eden, her grass robe shifting and hardening into a tight battle suit. “Because we’re about to be attacked.”