71 Return to Aries
As the days passed, the Aries rescue team was inching closer to completing the modifications they developed for their journey back inside the artificial world. They knew they had to hurry, but they also knew that time was needed to ensure better success.
"Is that everything?" Tank asked.
"Yeah. We completed everything on the list," replied Astrid.
"Does this mean we're good to go?" Luna couldn't believe it.
"Seems like it."
"We've worked hard to come this far. There's no turning back now," Garth said.
"What if we fail? What if some of us won't survive?" Lyria was beginning to feel uneasy as she entertained thoughts about the consequences of failure. She couldn't bear to see any more people lose their lives.
Astrid wasn't sure what to say to console her. It was true that they were taking a huge risk, like running straight into a battlefield as an infantry soldier. Every fight from then on would mean life or death. Every failure had dire consequences.
"If you want to stay behind, you're free to do so. We'd also need an anchor in the real world in case we mess up," Tank said. Everyone looked towards his direction. "I'm honestly afraid of what might happen when we go back inside, but my guild members need me. If I can rescue at least a single person, then it's worth taking the risk."
Luna was proud of Tank. She knew that true bravery was in overcoming your fears, not from the lack of fear. She wanted to overcome her fear as well and be selfless like Tank. For the sake of the players left behind. And for Amelie too.
Frisk looked a little embarrassed. "I wish I could be as brave as everyone, but I can't imagine myself surviving in there. I'd hate it if I die in Magnus' hands. I'm sorry, Lady Epsilon. I won't be able to accompany you in your journey."
Epsilon folded her arms. "Alright. But if we all make it out of here in one piece, you're going to have to treat us to a luxurious feast."
"Aye. That I can do."
"Although Frisk won't be with us physically, he will be our informant while we're inside," Tank explained Frisk's role. "One of the apps we created in the modified menu tablet is a communication line that connects to Frisk. If we need more information or some help, we can contact him through there."
"From here, I can slightly affect the weather inside the game. I'll continue experimenting on codes while you're inside so I can aid you in more ways," said Frisk. "If things get worse, I'll have to look for help."
"If you don't pick up when I call you, you're going to be my next guinea pig," Epsilon told him with a menacing aura.
"Y-Yes, Lady Epsilon!" He cowered in fear.
"Let's get everything we need prepared and meet back here in two hours. Then, we're going inside," instructed Tank.
"We're going in today?" Luna was shocked to hear the sudden schedule.
"The longer we delay this, the more players are lost. Time is critical in an emergency situation."
"Tank is right," Lyria agreed. "The sooner the better."
"Bid goodbye to everything you love in the real world because we're going to be stuck in Aries for a while. Make sure your houses are all locked and electronics unplugged."
Everyone left the apartment except Garth, Frisk, and Tank. They made sure they didn't miss anything and rechecked the codes while waiting for the girls to return. An hour before the agreed time, everyone was back in the apartment.
"Good luck in there, everyone. Stay safe and may everything turn out alright," Frisk said as he joined them in a group hug.
"We're counting on you, Frisk," said Astrid.
"Aye. I'll do what I can from here."
"Ready?" Garth asked everyone.
The rest nodded in reply. He typed a few things on the laptop keyboard and hit enter. The spare gate Frisk lent Garth made a sound before lighting up. The familiar doorway to Aries appeared before them once more after a long time. They all took a deep breath and braced themselves.
"This is it," Luna said nervously.
"In case we die, I'm leaving all my poisons to Frisk," said Epsilon.
"I don't need them!" Frisk reacted.
"You can take my romance novel collection, Frisk. They might teach you a thing or two about how to deal with women," Lyria followed.
"Aye. Thanks for the offer."
"You can take all my booze," said Luna. "They're all inside my kitchen cabinet."
"I don't have much on me, but here's five dollars." Tank handed him a bill.
Frisk received the money. "Thanks for your generosity."
Garth gave Frisk a brown bottle. Everyone was giving gifts to Frisk so he grabbed the first thing he saw in the room.
"What's this?" Frisk asked as he examined the mysterious bottle.
"Hair growth tonic," Garth replied.
"You could use some."
"Alright. Let's go before Frisk ends up as the sole heir of all our properties." Tank was the first one who stepped into the portal.
Garth followed behind him. Then Luna, Astrid, Lyria, and Epsilon.
Once Frisk was all alone in the apartment, he closed the gate and began to monitor them through the laptop screen. Information was scarce, but at the very least he could track their location. It made him feel at ease knowing that they were still alive.
"Stay alive, guys," Frisk whispered under his breath without taking his eyes off the screen.
The real game begins now.