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The Rescue Mission
Agent Lopez (for that is what he preferred to go by) stood up to begin the day's training. They were seated on the small sofas in the cramped bunker.
"We will carry out a rescue mission as soon as you’re ready. On the rescue mission, you will use the Beat and the flowing to keep you safe. The Manforms can’t hurt you if you stay strong with the Beat and flowing. They will flee from you.
"You will free the captives by flowing the truth flow to them. Flow that they must keep longing. They must hold on to this when they return to Back or Beyond. At the same time flow the healing stream to them to calm their fear and give them the ability to hear you.
“Practice this type of flowing for up until now you have used the flowing only against the Dark Forms. Focus on flowing what I told you."
They spent the rest of the day practicing. Each passing hour found their flows stronger. Their confidence was greater, too. Their shared experiences in Beyond were bonding them in ways not possible when they were in Back.
“Not bad,” Agent Lopez observed.
The day of the rescue arrived after days of cultivating their flowing. Agent Lopez had also trained them on rock climbing by having them scale some nearby small cliffs. At first, they would climb up and become entangled in rope ladders and dangle helplessly in the air. But soon they became reasonably proficient, though none of them had any illusions they were ready for the Alps. Agent Lopez said these skills were needed to gain access to the tower entrances.
"You have trained for this. Don't be afraid. Remember your training."
Devan was still afraid, anyway. The others were apprehensive, but ready to go, the way an athlete is before a big game. They traveled through the bleak terrain for several hours in silence until Agent Lopez raised his hand.
"From here on don't long for anything, don't flow anything. The enemy can detect these things."
They left the road and made their way until they were behind a small ridge. Agent Lopez motioned for them to climb. He stopped them at a point where they could just see over the top of the ridge. They stared wordlessly at what they saw.
Ahead was a tower, a round column of dark stone rising fifteen stories high. Dark clouds swirled at the top. Hundreds of circular openings were evenly spaced on the tower's outer surface. No ground-level opening of any type could be seen. But what held them speechless was the sight of scores of Dark Forms flying in and out of the openings, each with a person clutched at their shoulder blades by the Dark Form’s talons. It was a nightmarish bee hive.
"Those people's only crime was longing for more from life," Agent Lopez said.
"It's horrible!" Isabella cried, turning away.
"What’s that noise?" Kamiko asked.
"It is the moaning and screaming from those being tortured inside," Agent Lopez answered.
And indeed, the sound of tormented souls never abated, becoming louder at times, but always loud.
"As bad as it sounds, it will help our rescue. We will climb to one of the lowest openings. The noise will mask the sound of our climbing. With luck, we will be in the first cell without being detected. Usually they are too involved with their victim to notice us. Well, let's go.”
Taking a deep breath, the four followed. They wore black gear to better blend in with the perpetually dark state of this strange and terrible land. At the base of the tower Agent Lopez opened his bag, took out some pitons and began his ascent, hammering pitons as he went up.
The moaning and screaming coming from the tower was now deafening. The four couldn't hear the hammering after Agent Lopez had climbed only a short distance. He reached the nearest opening, but didn't go in. He dropped a rope ladder down to the four. Leif climbed up first as planned. Agent Lopez beckoned for him to raise his head high enough to look in.
Inside was a small cell. A woman writhed on the floor, screaming. A Manform stood over her and the Dark Form that had brought her watched from a corner. The Manform was the size of a man and didn’t have a solid body. Swirling dark clouds in a body shape, Leif decided.
Leif could discern from his Sensing what the Manform was doing. He was sending images into her mind of her children taken from her as an unfit mother. Leif had visions of the courtroom, her kids dragged from her, and her returning to an empty apartment. The scenes were played over and over while the woman screamed and screamed.
Leif had seen enough. He was furious with the Manform, furious at the Pulsing, furious that people were caught and didn't know a way out existed. Agent Lopez motioned for the others to climb as high up the ladder as possible. When he said "Showtime,” they entered the cell quickly.
The Manform didn't notice them at first, so great was the screaming. But he definitely noticed when he felt the burning from the truth flow from all five of them. Howling, he and the Dark Form ran through the door on the side opposite the one they had entered.
"That door leads into the interior of the tower," Agent Lopez informed, "where he can raise the alarm to the other cells. We must hurry and rescue as many as we can.”
Agent Lopez hurried to the woman on the floor.
"Flow what I told you to flow. Both the truth stream and the healing stream."
As they flowed to her, Agent Lopez told her over and over, "Keep longing for more! There are answers to your torments, but you must keep longing!"
The woman's face changed from terror to wonder to hope. Her body gradually went limp. She disappeared before their eyes. The four were completely shocked.
"What happened to her?" Leif shouted. "We have to save her!"
"She's okay," Agent Lopez quickly answered. "With no interference from the Manform, her longing for where she came from took her back there, just as your Longing for Beyond brought you here. She is still open to attacks, but maybe she is stronger now than she was."
"You might have warned us," Leif exclaimed.
"But it would have lessened the impact," Agent Lopez replied, grinning. "You saw how I did it, now go to as many cells as you can. Leif, you and Isabella pair up. Same for you, Kamiko and Devan. Now go."
Leif lost track of how many cells they went to. Each time was the same as Manforms fled and people were rescued and disappeared. After all cells were cleared on one level, they climbed interior stairs to the next. Agent Lopez had told them earlier that as soon as the word was out, the Dark Forms would fly their victims out of the tower, so their time was limited. Even so, Leif estimated they’d rescued at least 20 people. He felt good about himself.
"Hey, we make a pretty good team," he remarked.
"I think so, too," Isabella responded, smiling at him.
I can see myself married to this guy, she thought.
Their contentment was quickly shattered. Kamiko ran up to them.
"They have him…the Manforms…they've captured Devan."