Chapter 1 Okay, this hardly can´t get any weirder
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“This is as easy as it gets,“ said Mike with satisfaction, while arming another nuclear mine and concealing it between shrubs. “Once we blow the gravity train to bits the Redz are fucked and HQ will have no problem wiping up the rest of their resistance in this sector. Shame about the cargo though, we surely could use it.”

“You mean you could use it to finance one of your absurdly long night outs, again,” Shady said dryly, handing him one more greenish metal cylinder. Not that her augmented voice bared any emotions. But he knew her long enough to interpret the monotone comment. He grinned and took one more drag from his joint. “It’s not a night out if it goes for multiple days, also time doesn´t matter when you got the right stuff.” He blew some of the sweet smoke in her direction. “If you know what I mean.”

“So glad I don’t,” Shady sighed. She lifted the huge supply box swiftly with her cyber arms. They made a weird-looking couple as they trotted to their next objective point. He was an almost too skinny looking, 192cm tall man with a long unshaved face and deep-set eyes, slightly red from the cannabis.

She, much smaller than him, her blue hair bonded as pigtails with an oval display for a face. Some years ago she had lost both her arms and the front side of her head in an explosion. Since most of her Brain wasn´t damaged the field medics had managed to save her life and upgraded her arms. Even a synthetic face reconstruction would have been possible back at HQ, but by the time the mission was over, she refused it.

Back in the day, when Mike asked her why she just replied: “I kinda got used to it by now. It feels like a part of me, I don’t want to change it anymore.” Shame. He thought, sneaking a look at her gazelle-like body. I would hit that. But the cyber stuff is disgusting. (Certainly a surprising viewpoint for anybody who would have seen his intranet search history. Believe me)

Although face displays were capable of emulating a human face Shady chose to express herself with basic text smileys, so her display usually looked like this:

(-.-) or (._.) or (°-°) sometimes even a (^^) etc.

Both Mercenaries tried to conceal their identity by wearing tunics of the local steppe clan over the armored body suits, which wouldn’t have fooled anybody within half a kilometer. Maybe not even someone within one. “I still don’t like these kinds of jobs. I prefer attacking directly instead of setting up traps like a lowly bandit,” she complained. Mike shook his head. “First off, we ain’t robbing anyone. This is a find & destroy mission so technically we can´t even be bandits, in this case. Secondly, anyone who lures their enemy into a well-set trap is a tactical genius in my eyes. And finally, how do you plan on attacking a gravity train moving at speeds up to 500 km/h?”

“Don’t you mean search & destroy?” She asked. “dOn’T YoU mEaN sEaRch & DeStrOy” he copied her in a whining tone. “Nooo, I mean find & destroy because we already know the route the gravity train is going. So we are just chilling till it shows up. Then we blow it to shreds and kill everyone who might have survived, which in my experience usually is nobody using these babies.” Mike patted the last mine like it was a pet.

“So it’s more of a wait & destroy mission,” she replied. “Since you have to search for something to find it and we´re just chilling.” He spat his joint into the tall grass and activated the mine´s mini screen. “Jesus fucking Christ woman…” but before he could continue a crackling voice in the earpieces demanded attention: “Schwarz here, is the kill zone set up?” Bernhard Schwarz´s voice sounded deep and composed, even through the static. “Almost done Boss.” Mike typed the Code into the screen, 42069, and the nuclear beast was armed. “Whoever is in that train gonna think they´re back in World War 4.”

“Good, come back. The trackers picked up movement. Contact in approximately 2 minutes.” Schwarz cut the connection abruptly. “Love it when he blindly trusts us,” said Mike. “Can you connect to the mines?” he looked at Shady. She nodded and a loading sign appeared on her face display, shortly after it changed to a smiley. “We are in business” her monotone voice a slight pitch higher than before. Or was he imagining things? 

They jogged back to their personal transportation drone, in short PTD, leaving the now empty supply box behind. Fun fact: According to HQ´s database the first personal transportation drone had been invented by Rednecks from Alabama in 2032. Back then the delivery giant Amashroom used drones to deliver packages to more remote locations. Some crazy farmers hijacked them and build the first-ever PTD. When Shady started it the rotors began to hum in that annoying way only the cheap PTDs did. On the way back neither said a word, staring at the horizon where it seemed like something silver was reflecting the sun.

If the steppe tunic couldn´t fool anyone while Mike and Shady were wearing them, seeing them on Bernhard Schwarz had an even worse effect. With his 210cm height and body shape like he was doing nothing besides hitting the gym, the normal-sized tunic looked ridiculous. He looked like a sauna guest who wrapped a towel around him to cool off a bit outside. The polished titanium armor that marked him as squad leader underneath didn’t help much as well.

He was one of the few people with bio upgrades. Only around 2 out of 10 people who agreed to the necessary procedures to enhance their body beyond the natural human limit came out almost without any side effects. The others, while indeed gaining some kind of extraordinary abilities, ended up crippling the rest of the body or simply dying. In other cases, the body turned out just fine but the mental functionality was gone. Imagine the most dangerous killing machine unable to follow orders, playing with toys and blabbering like a baby. That was the reason why most organizations didn’t see the creation of those super soldiers as financially attractive. Despite those who made it being valuable assets to their combat units. 

Schwarz turned out as one of the best and most famous leaders HQ ever had the luck to contract. Occasionally an enemy also just surrendered when they knew he was present.

Probably got some gorilla DNA spliced in as well. Mike thought not for the first time, looking at the flat big nose and the angular face surrounded by a grey beard, while they approached him. Standing on the hillside scanning the rest of the grassland with his binoculars Schwarz looked more like Zeus looking for his next date and less like the great leader he most certainly was.

“Alright, everyone down,” he said. The three of them hid in the tall grass as a light humming reached their ears from the gravity train coming into sight on the horizon. Contrary to normal trains a gravity train doesn’t come as a line of wagons connected to each other, it was one snake-like body composed of hundreds of ring-like parts, around 3 meters in diameter. “Neon Rat 1 here. Neon Rat 2, do you copy?” Schwarz radioed the other team. “Neon Rat 2 here, loud and clear boss. We are ready to rumble.” Team 2 answered, hiding somewhere in the hills on the other side of the relatively flat valley. All Squads employed by the mercenary guild were allowed to pick their code name. After a long night of drinking, they decided on Neon Rats. Rats because it was their specialty to annoy the enemy like a pest, Neon because somebody thought it was cool. By the time anyone sober could complain about it the name had been officially registered within HQ´s system. And changing a registered name was apparently expensive.

“Whenever you are ready.” he gave Shady an approving nod. She displayed the XD smiley and lifted her head a bit. Then the gravity train rushed through the valley, hovering a meter over the ground and cutting everything into shape that dared to be taller than that. Grass shreds, stones, insects and tiny critters that looked like mice were sucked in by the vacuum of the high-speed vehicle passing by. “Sayonara Motherfuckers!” Shady stood up her arms raised as if she was at a rave. Just a heartbeat more and…….nothing happened. "WTF!” Mike jumped up. “I don’t understand, the connection to the mines is there!” she cried out flustered. “Try it again!” barked Schwarz. He usually was one of the most patient people Mike knew but when it came to screwing up the mission his tolerance was practically zero.

"I don’t get it. When I ping them every single mine is answering.“ her display switched to (>.<) “Man, fuck this shit. I knew we should have wired them! “ raged Mike. “Silence you two!“ With a grim look on his face, Schwarz stared after the silver metal snake. “We have to…“ a high sizzling sound pierced the air. Underneath the gravity train, a laser beam shot into the sky, perfectly splitting the fast vehicle horizontally. From the distance it had already made it look quite comical like somebody was slicing a baguette with a samurai sword, a split second later the real chaos began. One half of the gravity train hit the ground a bit faster than the other, its halved ring segments flying off into all directions partly ripping through the other side before everything lit up in a giant explosion. It almost looked like fireworks, deadly metal fireworks.

“Damn, what the hell?” Team 2 cut into the connection. “What now Boss?” There was some movement between the flames that were scorching the grassland, too far away to clearly see what was going on. “Everyone mount up. We have to check out what exactly we´re dealing with. Expect enemy contact.” Schwarz had his temper under control again and was giving the orders in his usual stoic way. Both teams reached their PTDs and almost simultaneously got airborne, Shady on the controls, Mike in the gunner seat, while Schwarz was observing the crash side through his binoculars. Team 2 a little bit ahead confirmed the first visual. “Still waiting for the ground scan to complete but if I can trust my eyes they look like mole tanks, a bit smaller maybe?” “Mole tanks? Never seen bandits using those.” You could hear how Mike was trying to zoom onto the area using the cheap scope of the rail gun they quickly had welded into the back seat. It almost felt wrong to call it a gunner seat, but they had to improvise with anything the locals were willing to sell.

“That doesn’t make any sense. No mole tank I´ve ever seen would be capable of destroying a gravity train. They are usually made to infiltrate outposts from below and annihilate everything in a short distance.” Schwarz frowned. “Scans at 98%” Shady announced. “Good.” he took off his binoculars for the first time in the entire flight. “Whoever they are, they shouldn’t have the firepower to shoot us down. But just in case let´s not go there directly. We´ll land behind these hills and walk the rest. Don’t give them a chance to use whatever that was before on us.” he pointed at one of the rockier areas that pierced through the grass.

Almost as just to underline what he said bullets started to hail against the windshield. Out of the fire and smoke, an oval vehicle drove into sight on spiked chains. Not just on the bottom of it, but on every centimeter of the vehicle, chains ran across the entire body in an almost spiral-like pattern. With all spikes on every single chain spinning around them self the mole tank looked like and pulsating egg. “Reminds me of those semi-alive butt plugs” Shady let slip. “What?” Schwarz and Mike gave her a surprised look. “What?” She replied. “Oh, shit. Did I just say that out loud?” her face display went blank. Before anyone could dig deeper into the topic a slit opened at the top of the mole tank accompanied by a deep humming and a red glow started to get brighter with every moment. “That doesn´t look, good Boss.” A blinding laser beam breached out of the egg and vaporized the entire middle compartment of Team 2´s PTDs. They didn´t even had enough time to scream. “Get us out of here!” Schwarz yelled and Mike smacked Shady on the head. Without saying anything she brought them down to the place Schwarz had indicated before.

“Nooo, Team 2!” Mike cried out. “Don’t worry we will avenge them. They were all good warriors.” Schwarz gave him a tap on the shoulder. “It´s not that” Mike shook his head. “They still owed me money from last week’s poker game.” Schwarz turned to Shady “Get a hold of yourself soldier.” Her face display came back alive with a typical (._.) “Sir, yes Sir!” she saluted stiffly. “Alright listen up, that’s the plan.” Schwarz continued. “We will split up, remain in sight but keep around twenty meters between us in case they throw grenades or use that laser again. Radios on the whole time, report anything you see. Try not to engage, recon only. We will decide what comes next after we assess the situation. Go Neon Rats!” they fist bumped each other and moved out.

They crawled the last few meters to the top of the hill, just in time to see one more mole tank digging itself out of the dirt in the valley. The others stood still, their drivers outside extinguishing flames or carrying supply crates the gravity train had dropped. Most supply crates were built to hold out drops out of orbit, so even though they had been tossed around in an inferno they were fine. “I don’t believe it. Red Dragon.” Schwarz took a look through his binoculars. He could see the infamous emblem on the soldier's uniforms. A Dragon wearing an Ushanka and dual wielding two Kalashnikovs. “Reds? Why would they raid their own supply run?” Mike took a small drone out of his pocket and activated it. “Time to get a closer look.” The hornet-shaped drone flew away and started to transmit her video feed on his utility bracelet shortly after. “Maybe they are a splinter group? Trying to make something extra on the side?” Shady guessed. “Maybe.” Schwarz didn´t sound convinced.

The live feed revealed a total of twelve mole tanks, most of the crews were outside plundering but two still slowly circled the area. “No way. It can´t be.” Shady gasped. “What?” Mike threw a questioning look in her direction. “The HQ databank is showing me that one of the people down there is David Manch. But that is impossible because it also states that he is dead for more than ten years. “Oh no.” Mike turned his head to Schwarz. “Manch?” Schwarz asked, his face taking an even harder expression than it naturally had. “David Manch?” At that moment a strong wind came up and blew away the last smoke that had engulfed the crash site. In the middle of the Red Dragon Soldiers was standing a man, dressed in a slightly dirty laboratory coat, his head shaved at both sides but the rest of the blond hair slicked back, wearing A.I. glasses that kept scanning everything and everyone.

With a sly grin, Manch turned around and locked directly in their direction. “Bernhard, Buddy, what's up? Long time no see.” He snapped his fingers. The hornet drone turned off and fell to the ground. The Red Dragon Soldiers cocked their weapons and aimed for the hillside. “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaanch!” roared Schwarz. He usually was one of the most patient people Mike knew but when it came to traitorous scum his tolerance was practically zero. Oh no.

Under covering fire from his Team Schwarz rushed downhill, his own rifle at full auto. He unloaded half a magazine into the first soldier’s stomach that was unlucky to be the closest to him. Then he smashed his giant hand through the wound, up into the poor guy’s chest lifting him and holding him like a shield. Still running he used the rest of the magazine on another one. Mike and Shady gunning down their fair share, but no bullet seemed to even scratch Manch. Schwarz improvised Shield slowly got blown to bits by the soldiers trying to stop the rampaging man. But that doesn´t seem like a problem, dodging bullets he threw the bloody torso away and smashed his empty weapon through another soldier’s helmet visor. The dying man still stumbled around for a bit but Schwarz pressured on, by the time the soldier fell with a last gurgling sound Schwarz had pulled out his overly sized battle ax and was about to make minced meat out of his old colleague.

Just centimeters before he reached Manch a flicker appeared in the air between them and with a loud bang, Schwarz got thrown back a couple of meters. Merely a little bit irritated he threw himself at his target over and over again. Steam began to evaporate from his body armor and the smell of ozone filled the air. After what felt like a small eternity he fell to his knees gasping for air. "He, he, he, he. You still seem to underestimate me, my old friend.” Manch adjusted his glasses with an evil laugh. (Yes, that typical anime glasses adjustment move.) “But it’s good to see that you haven’t lost anything of your former energy. The number of discharges would have killed an elephant.” Schwarz slowly got back on his feet, still steaming like freshly cooked rice, raised his ax and replied “I´m gonna kill you.” Manch smirked “Sure you will, buddy. But first, it’s time to sleep.” After that, he said something that didn’t sound like an actual language, more like a random rambling of letters and numbers. Schwarz's eyes rolled back and with foam from his mouth, he fell like a tree.

“Man, I love technology. It´s time to come out now.” Manch looked in Mike's and Shady's direction. Meanwhile, the other two mole tanks had stopped patrolling. Even some more came out of the ground, soldiers spilling out of them like maggots out of foul apples. “Unless of course, you don’t care about your leader.” One of the Soldiers gave Manch his Revolver which he then held against Schwarz´s head, squatting next to him. “So what´s gonna be?” Mike gave Shady a hand sign which meant to escape and inform HQ. She nodded and disappeared into the tall grass. “You sick fuck, what did you do to him?” Mike answered him, playing for time. “Me?” Manch theatrical scratched his head. “Not much. I just activated his emergency code. And where the hell do you think you’re going?” *Bang!* *Bang!* Manch shot into the air. “You know that I can see you bitch!? Stand Up!” Shit, how can he see her? Mike saw how Shady stood up a couple of meters down the hill. I´ve never seen anything that would be able to scan through meters of rock, at least not on equipment that a person could wear. Is he connected to a Satellite? “Get over here!” Manch waved around his gun. “You too, don’t test my patience!” he glared at Mike's position. There must be something we can do.

Slowly as possible Shady walked forward with her hands up. Mike, still in cover, gave her the sign to get her hidden weapons ready. “Holy shit! Hahaha, what’s with your face?” Manch laughed when she stepped into view. “You look like a toaster.” Her display showed a slight disturbed (-.-). Mike tried to distract him again with conversation. “Before I come out, just answer me one question. Why would a Red steal from his government? I always thought you all are mindless fanatics who dance to your master’s strings.” “Steal from the high leader? What?” for the first time Manch´s smug facial expression got a crack. “You think the train was ours?” he looked puzzled for a moment. “You, open a crate!” he dictated to the Soldier that had given him the revolver before. Together with another Red, they carried one of the heavy boxes to Manch who then casually hacked the electronic lock. A professional would have needed at least a couple of minutes. Damn that bastard is well equipped. Mike thought while he dared a look over the boulders he was hiding behind.

When the crate opened all they could see was rubble and other trash. Oh no. Manch soldiers looked confused the man himself struck by a harsh realization. “Evacuate immediately!” he shouted. Shady used the moment to dash back into the grass. “It´s a trap!” she shouted to Mike and he nodded. Everybody was on the move now, Shady and Mike running for the PTD, Manch and his henchman boarding their tanks. 

Then the sky turned black, deep in the clouds purple lighting was illuminating a giant structure floating like a castle in the sky. No not floating, taking a closer look Mike realized the thing was falling. But because of its sheer size, it seemed to be stuck up there, seemingly moving in slow motion. When they reached the PTD Shady asked “What about Schwarz?” Mike busy with saving his own hide, awestruck by the building in the sky, had forgotten about him. “Yea… right. Let´s get him and then the hell out of here.” He pressed the button for the ignition, taking the pilot seat this time, but nothing happened. Small lights, like fireflies, started to dance around in the air occasionally and a faint wind indicating a storm came up. “The hell?” Mike smacked the dashboard. “Don’t you think it looks weird?” Shady said staring into the sky. “I have never seen anything like it.” The structure breached through the clouds, shaped like a Stronghold from the Middle Ages but made from solid metal. “Are those…Roller coasters?” Mike gave up on the PTD and also looked up. “Roller coasters?” Indeed it seemed like various roller coaster tracks were winding their way around the countless towers that stuck out behind the walls. Brightly colored, as if a child had painted it, the building itself wasn’t terrifying, if not for its size and the fact that it was falling from the sky, rapidly gaining speed. The gigantic size of the thing became clearer the closer it got. Now it was exactly above them, the side view no longer visible, only the bottom.

“Hahahahaha!” Mike started to laugh from all of his heart, like a mad man who realized that he become at least as twisted as the world he thought was. “All the fights and ridiculous undercover mission I survived. All the countless hours waiting for some random dudes to show up in the middle of nowhere for hostage exchanges, scavenging through radioactive wastelands just to recover old files, almost starving to death in a jungle. Hahaha! I survived everything to get squashed by a flying amusement park.” He let himself fall on the grass, which was now waving in the stronger getting wind. Shady took a side look at him not knowing what to say. The falling structure's size now spanned from one side of the horizon to the other, from their point of view it looked like a giant black hole about to swallow up the planet. “At least I can die high.” In Mike´s hand magically another joint had appeared. “Want sum? He asked Shady while exhaling. “Yea sure, why not? Fuck it.” Shady sat down next to him her legs crossed, taking the Joint from him. She held it in front of her air regulator and took a deep drag like she had seen him doing. She started to cough uncontrollably, her purifier was supposed to clean up anything she breathes in but damn was that stuff strong. “Holy *cough* fu..*cough* *cough* shit.” She passed the doobie back to Mike. He was laughing and gave her his hip flask, thankfully she drank a big sip. Whatever it was it was amazingly sweet and refreshing. “Umeshu” he answered her questioning look. “The Japanese invented it a long time ago, it’s made from plums.” Shady could feel a tingle in the back of her head and a relaxing wave smoothly flew down her spine through her whole body. “I wish we had some food,” she said. Mike passed her wordless a chocolate bar. On taking it she saw how his hand started to dematerialize. “Tha fuck?” she couldn´t say more because of the numbness in her head. “Well, that’s new.” Mike looked at his hands. “You too.” He nodded at her. She looked at her feet, seeing that also they had started to dematerialize and started to giggle.

It was a tickling sensation. The swirling lights in the air started to circle around them. There they were, two professional mercenaries, giggling like high school students on their first date, eating chocolate, waiting for the world to end while their bodies slowly dissolved into thin air. Then darkness.

“Hel…Hello?” Mike asked. “Am I dead?” he could hear somebody next to him. “I guess not” Shady’s voice answered. Then light. They found themselves in a room with no doors or windows, their bodies intact, also there was no visible light source but everything was clear as the day, no furniture whatsoever, the walls and ceiling seemed to be made out of pinkish fluffy carpet. “What is this place.“ she asked. „My first guess would be an insane asylum room. Kinda bouncy“ Mike hopped a bit, then inspected the fluffy wall with his fingers. A weird sound vibrated through the room, like a voice underwater, but they couldn’t understand anything. After a couple of more sounds, that were too difficult to describe to anyone who didn’t hear them, suddenly a friendly voice appeared. „Hello. Can you understand me?“ Mike and Shady looked at each other, and he shrugged. „Yes?…“ „Thank you.“ the voice replied. „Language sample confirmed. Welcome, dear guests.“

“Be not afraid.” The voice continued. “Please put down all your belongings and take off your clothes.” “What?” Shady was startled. Mike raised his weapon “WTF?” The voice repeated itself “Please put down all your belongings and take off your clothes. Be not afraid.” Now also Shady raised her weapon, together they gave each other cover, back to back. “What kind of hentai porn scenario is this?!” he asked. They moved in circles, scanning the walls for anything. “Elevated heart rate detected. Be not afraid” the voice persisted. “How can we stay calm if we don’t know who you are? Show yourself!” Shady demanded. “Uncooperative behavior detected. Proceeding with shower” it continued. “Cleaning liquid will be dispensed 10, 9, 8…” while the voice counted down Mike and Shady braced themselves. “Shoot at anything you see!” he said, she nodded. “…, 2, 1, cleansing initialized.” As soon as the countdown was over within seconds a bunch of spongy, wet, like dog noses looking knobs appeared on the ceiling and pink liquid with the consistency of water and a smell like strawberries showered them completely. Mike tried to fire at one of the knobs but instead his rifle melted away like butter in a hot pan, same thing happened to Shady´s weapon. Everything they had begun to melt, the metal plates of their body armor, ammunition belts, combat boots, etc. They turned faster and faster, looking for someone or something to attack, with the guns gone both unsheathe knives just to see them melt away equally fast. Disarmed and disoriented both raised their bare fists. If they had to go down, then they would go down swinging, back to back, circling closer and closer.

And then their butt cheeks touched.

 “Kyaaa” Shady jumped away from him. He turned surprised around and saw that she was completely naked. Mike wanted to look away, he was gentleman enough to not stare at a naked woman without her consent, well… that was what he had thought so far. But as a man he couldn’t help himself, burned into his DNA, like an ancient gift from his ancestors, his eyes gave her a professional good ol´ ´hmm yummy´ body scan. Her natural petit body shape was steeled by hours of combat training, but not in a disgusting, overly trained way. Everything was perfect, her skin clean as silk, boobs that practically screamed 'play with me', not hanging too low nor too high, with nipples the size of a bottle cap. Pink liquid drops slowly ran down her body, like sweat in heat, glowing in the source less light, highlighting her curves and her heart-shaped butt. She was completely shaved with only a little blue pubic hair triangle left, like a pointy small arrow, inviting the lucky ones into her love temple. It took him less than two seconds to burn her image into his long-term memory and as soon his eyes listened to his will again he looked away. He could feel how blood was rushing into his best parts. Quick! Think of something disgusting: Cellulitis, cellulitis, cellulitis. Did she see me, looking? As an answer to his question, she sent him flying across the room with a roundhouse kick to the face. Ahh…she did. Her kick broke his nose. “Sorry, I didn´t mean to.” he managed to squeeze out, covering his face trying to stop the intense nosebleed.

Before she could give him another answer to that the voice spoke up again. “Injury detected.” Lights that resembled the ones that had dematerialized them beforehand started to dance around Mike´s head, soaring in and out of his nose. The pain went away, even though he could hear the cracking and grinding of his nasal septum being moved into place and being restored. His sense of smell came back and when he swiped his face he was surprised that even the blood was gone. “You…you pervert!” Shady hissed at him. Apologizing he raised his hand “Sorry my bad. To my defense, Mother Nature made me this way. Nothing I can do about it” trying not to grin he added “But that right now was some serious sci-fi mumbo jumbo.” he double checked his nose. “Cleansing complete. Please get dressed and proceed to the entrance hall.” As a follow-up to the voice demands the knobs on the ceiling disappeared and the fluffy mass that made up the walls started to move on one site. It started to grow, like thin hair, twisting and weaving something. After a while they could make out the rough shape, Shady raised an eyebrow “A pajama?” After the wall finished whatever it was doing Mike took the bigger piece “Seems like it.” he held up the cozy looking, with cute animals and shapes decorated, pink pajama. “Okay, this hardly can´t get any weirder.” He said. After a moment of hesitation, they both put on their new outfit and a doorway opened up in the wall left from them. “Please proceed to the entrance hall. Be not afraid” said the voice friendly as ever. “What now?” Shady asked, still a bit pouting. He shrugged and pointed to the doorway with his thumb “I guess we proceed to the entrance hall, without getting afraid.”