My voice came out as nothing more than a whisper as the dust cleared and the tall figure's identity made itself apparent. When the dust finally settled enough to a point where we could all breathe more easily, I looked around expecting to see a gaping hole in the cave wall or maybe even the entire side of the mountain wiped away. Instead, I saw the same thing I'd been seeing: rocks of all sizes surrounding us on every side.
I'd forgotten that Pandora was able to materialize like that. It's a strange thing to watch. It really seems like the walls were falling down on us once more and we would be crushed. But as time happened to go on we just ended up covered in more dust.
Pandora broke the stunned silence with a slight cough.
"So this is where you two ran off to."
"How…" my voice trailed off as I tried to make sense of the situation.
"How did I find you?"
"It was simple really. You're both very easy to track, if I may say so myself. You two are like wild animals trapped in a small room. I just had to follow the path of destruction."
"We couldn't have been that bad!"
"No. But between you and the Soldiers you have following you, it is pretty bad, Juilliard."
Pip interrupted with a sudden inquiry, "We… We were being followed?"
"Are being followed. I can't say for exactly how long they have been following you, but it's been quite a while. They're still out there in the forest around the mountain. I believe you've caught them off guard with your abrupt disappearance into the mountain, but it could also be the Superiors that have left them with orders not to attack. Of course, it could also be them that have you now trapped in this wretched mess."
"You mean to say that we've had Soldiers tracking us for some time now? We haven't even been here in Deff for long. Why would they want to harm the people here?"
"Oh Juilliard… You have yet to accept that you are very much wanted by the Superiors—dead or alive. Once they realized who you are, you became their top priority. Anyone who comes to your aide is a criminal, someone who shouldn't even be on Earth according to their belief system."
"So you're saying that because Deff helped me the people are all in danger, even if they all had no real say in the matter?"
"I'm saying that the Superiors aren't fair people. The simple fact that they are after you should have proven that already."
At that we all left the conversation with an awkward silence; me trying to process everything Pandora had said, Pandora waiting for me to process the situation, and Pip waiting for something to happen. And something did happen.
We all heard it. It was like a very synchronized march, but clearly it wasn't marching. From behind the barricade separating us from Mige we could hear people working toward something. Like the band of dwarves in that old story my mother used to tell me, their synchronized sounds seemed to be no more than their whistling and whittling away at something. I called to Mige but no response emanated from his side of the barricade. I looked at Pip and we looked at Pandora.
"Please," I begged. "You came in here for us; you can go over there to check on Mige. There's no telling if the others are good. Mige took us in with almost no questions; we can't let him go so easily."
"You don't understand my powers do you, Juilliard?"
"You materialize from point A to point B, right?"
"Essentially, yes. But it's not that simple. I can't do it as often as I'd like to. I only have so much energy… I can't just use it as I please. I'm not in complete control of what I can do. You see, if I overuse my power I could potentially lose it. It's one of the 'gifts' the Superiors left me with."
"Pandora, I'm sorry. I didn't know any of that. I just assumed…"
"Oh Juilliard, you mustn't assume things—especially not in this world. Not everything is as it seems. Not anymore at least."
"She's right, Juilliard. Assuming things will get you into more problems than you want." Pip's typically jovial tone gained its abnormal seriousness as he joined in on the conversation once again.
"Is there any way for you to calculate how much of your power you have left? Or how much you'll use in one teleportation?"
"Not that I have encountered. That's why I rarely teleport anywhere. I make exceptions for things like this, where there isn't any other way in. Occasionally I may need to teleport long distances in a small time period. That's rare, however."
"Have you ever come close to losing your power? Or is it something that you can't feel coming until your power is already gone?"
"It's something that gradually weakens as I use it. It takes me longer to reach my destination and I lose my physical strength as well as my teleportation strength. I have come close to losing my power once. That's why I take such caution with the use. I need to be safe."
"That's understandable. May I ask you one last question?"
"Can you teleport others as well?"
Pandora paused briefly and her reply was short, "No."
It was clear that something horrible had occurred in her past, but what exactly it was remained a mystery.
At that moment screams erupted from the other side of the barricade. They sounded close enough to be where Mige was trapped. There was no other noise though, which led us all to wonder what caused such a panic. I looked at Pandora but she simply shook her head. Clearly she wouldn't help whoever was on the other side.
"Pip, Juilliard, I need to get you two out of here as fast as possible. I'm going back out to warn the others. I don't know how deep this mass of rocks is so you may want to stand as far back as possible. And shield yourselves as best as possible. We're going to get you out of here before whatever is on the other side gets here. There is one thing I must warn you of, though. There's no telling how thick this wall is, but to get you out quickly we have no other option than to blow it up. Because we can only estimate, there is a fair chance you may be seriously injured or even killed in the process. I believe it's a risk we must take if you want out, but I can't make the choice for you…"
Without a moment of hesitation I answered. "We'll do it."
And with that she was gone, as if she just evaporated into thin air.
It felt like half a lifetime before anything happened, but we finally heard a somewhat distant rumbling as the explosion finally occurred and rocks began to tumble. Without warning, the cave itself began to crumble and the explosion carried itself through the wall barricading us from the outside. Rocks flew toward us and against our better judgment we took cover behind a boulder. Just as everything goes dark, I hear Pip scream my name and then there's silence. Just deafening silence.