Chapter 22 – The Director and the Shard

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The cave was just as dark and confining as the Lieutenant had dreaded. Had it been up on the surface in the side of a mountain, it wouldn’t be so bad, but so deep beneath the ocean in a chasm filled with boiling lava, there were so many things that could go wrong. He shuffled along, finding the passage to be less than accommodating for someone in a suit. His lights shined brightly across the rough textured surfaces of the tunnel as he worked his way towards what he felt was the source of the energy his palm reacted to. As he walked, the sound of something bubbling away in the water–boiling violently–filled his ears. As he rounded a bend, he came upon a figure dressed lightly in the uniform of the Zora civilians and scientists above holding a long device burning its way through the rock.

“Director Ralin!” Link cried.

He lowered his hand and stepped closer. As he did so, the plasma drill was swung about, aimed quickly at the armored man.

“Back off!” She growled angrily but quickly softened her expression and lowered the drill, “Oh… you’re not one of the insane ones. You’re not even Zora.”

“No, I’m not. And I’m rather glad you’re not one of the insane ones either.” Link replied.

It took the Director only a brief instant to piece together what was happening.

“Well it’s about damn time your people got here! There aren’t many of us left!” she cried, leading Link to assume she must have lost contact with much of the platform while doing whatever it was she was occupied with, “You can help me cut through the rock and get to whatever it is in here that’s creating the radiation!”

The Director spun back around and resumed drilling. Link took hold of the drill and pulled it away from where she was aiming rather sharply.

“No! You can’t do this!” he shouted.

“The hell I can’t! That whatever-it-is has turned half my crew into monsters and killers!” Ralin shouted right back.

She tried to jerk the drill back into position but Link fought her.

“You don’t know what forces you’re dealing with!” he cried, holding fast to the drill.

“I know it’s enough to turn peaceful people violent! I’m going to find it and destroy it!” Ralin practically snarled.

Either she was beginning to succumb or the fate of her people had gotten her just that riled up. It reminded the Lieutenant of Exal’s reaction, and it was similarly unnerving. Their tug of war continued, Link keeping the upper hand thanks to his armor.

“You can’t!” the Hylian cried.

“Yes I can! Just watch me!” Ralin retorted angrily.

She somehow managed to wrench the drill away and began firing anew, more aggressively than before. Link threw himself against the drill, knocking it away.

“No! You can’t! It can’t be destroyed! And I don’t mean I won’t let you do it, I mean it literally cannot be destroyed!” he shouted, ready to anchor himself in place should she try to remove him.

By now, the Director was rather annoyed. She gave Link a firm kick to the stomach, knocking him onto his back. How she was able to so easily handle the Lieutenant shocked him. It had to be the water. He wasn’t used to sub-aquatic combat and she was a Zora. Even the civilians were able to out maneuver any non-Zora when in their element.

“How the hell do you know!?” Ralin roared angrily.

“It’s part of the Triforce!” Link roared right back.

Ralin froze, blinking at the armored Hylian. Her fins fluttered softly in the water under the defense screen shielding her from the heat. She couldn’t have all that much time left to go before she ran out of power. There were so many different clocks they were all racing against at this point.

“The Triforce?” the Director asked as her face contorted into disgust, “Really!? You’re trying to use that bedtime story garbage on me!? I’m a scientist! I don’t believe in fairy tales!”

Link lifted his hand, showing her the back of his palm, “Then believe this.”

She froze again, gazing at the glowing triangle on the back of his hand. She reached out and carefully ran a hand over the shape. It pulsed gently as she watched, her doubts beginning to melt away.

“Is that… really… part of the Triforce?”

Link nodded, “Yeah, and there’s a shard from one of the other parts down here. It’s what’s causing all this trouble. We have to pull it out and put it in a containment field. It will block the radiation and interference.”

Ralin, her world shaken rather powerfully, fluttered her eyes, nodding as she picked her drill back up.

“Then… then let’s cut that damn thing out of the rock.” she said, sounding as though she was beginning to sort through a number of beliefs she held and how they would all need realigning, some might even need casting aside.

She lifted the drill to resume, trying to regain her composure. She had been through so much and this latest revelation had only given her yet another reason to feel the terrible weight of mental exhaustion pressing on her, demanding she pay it attention.

“No, not like that,” Link said, much more gently this time, “Like I said, the shard can’t be destroyed. If you hit it with the drill, it might reflect it back and hit either of us, maybe collapse the tunnel in on us.”

“So how do we get at it? It’s buried at least half a meter into the rock! I’m almost there!” Ralin complained, frustrated to the point of wanting to break something.

Link’s mind raced. There had to be a way to extract the shard without putting anyone in mortal danger. He looked around the cave before his eyes returned to his hand. He was just as frustrated as the Director. The emblem on the back of his palm had been the cause of a great deal of trouble. He stared at it wishing the thing could just give him the answer he sought. In that moment, in a sense, it did.

“The pieces of the Triforce… they’re connected. Maybe… maybe I can use mine to pull it out, like drawing a sliver of metal out with a magnet.” Link said.

“Are you sure?” Ralin asked.

“It’s worth a try.” Link said.

He reached out towards the wall, watching as the mark on his hand glowed brighter. It pulsed as he eased it closer to the rock. He then found himself inexplicably trying to pull his hand back. Some great force had taken hold of it and was trying to drag him forward. He struggled and strained, holding his wrist with his other hand as he watched the stony surface before him crack and fracture.

It was working. He wasn’t sure why. The shard from the temple had not reacted this way. Maybe it was a response to his need to get at the shard. Or maybe something about the shard itself had changed. Whatever the case, it was working, and he wasn’t going to question why until he was topside and the mission was over.

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