Tristan turned to Tommy with a sense of urgency.
"Crispuds can…seen one?"
Tommy shook his head slowly. "No…why—are you going back to that place? You're gonna to try take it all away from me, aren't you?"
Tristan's eyes stared Tommy down for a few seconds before his eyes shifted and began scanning the room. "No I'm—just help me look."
Tristan began tossing around his clothes on the floor in his search, but Tommy stood still with his arms folded. He raised his eyebrow as Tristan knocked his lamp off the nightstand and out the window.
"You're paying for that."
"If you're not going to help me, then will you get out of my way?" Tristan said, pushing Tommy aside so he can look under the bed. "The Greatest Power in the world is at stake here."
Tommy's eyebrows cocked. "A Crispuds can? You mean like that one?" He motioned to a waste bin behind the door as Tristan got to his feet.
Tristan stared at him with his lips thinned, as though trying to come up with something spiteful to say, but then pouted and snatched the can from the trash. He gave Tommy another long hard stare, as he spoke clearly into the can. "Open Street."
The familiar light shot out and gobbled him up, and the can then clattered to the floor. Tommy knelt down and picked it up hastily, not wanting Tristan to get too much of a head start. Just as he was about to yell the magic words, the flickering lamppost outside caught his eye.
"Hmm," he muttered, but focused his attention on the can. "Open Street!" He yelled.
- - -
Tristan shielded his ears as Tommy's voice boomed in reverberation that seemed to get louder and louder, before stopping abruptly with a thud behind him. He turned around and saw Tommy planted firmly on his seat in the blue grass.
"What the hell is this place?" Tommy muttered.
Tristan smirked; although Tommy's surprise was understandable—the blue grass might have freaked him out himself if he didn't see it before in his dream—he was acting like he didn't just come back from a golden fountain with water that defied physics, and granted its drinker ancient magical powers.
It didn't take long for him to spot the tree. It did, after all, stretch far up beyond the grey clouds and into the pink sky.
"What do you think that is?" Tommy asked.
"It's a tree…" Tristan said.
Tommy frowned and turned to him. "I'm sensing hostility, Trist. You got a problem with me or something?"
"Look, we just need to figure out a way to climb it."
"Are you serious? Do you realize just how tall that thing might be?" Tommy asked, staring up to where the tree met the clouds, but he was forced to look away when his eyes started to hurt. "I say 'might' because we can't really see for sure…"
Tristan ignored him and started towards the tree, and Tommy followed just two feet behind. There had to be some way to get up there without passing out from exhaustion and falling to his death. It had been simple enough getting to this mysterious place and the fountain before it, surely there was something he was missing. Something he was not remembering.
He reached where the trunk met the glowing grass, having to tread carefully across the long and slippery roots that extended for yards.
"Do we really have to climb this thing, Trist?" Tommy asked, beginning to circle the massive trunk, and glancing upwards at the same time.
"I'm trying to figure it out Tommy," Tristan replied impatiently. "I just know there's something I'm not remembering."
And just then he remembered his vision. He remembered placing his hands on the trunk and saying something, something that would cause the tree to sway. He just knew that would be the answer; that would be the way to get up there.
"I just don't remember what the words are." He muttered. "Just perfect."
Tommy halted once he was at the direct opposite to where Tristan was standing by the trunk. He seemed to be looking at something. "Wait, what words?"
"I don't remember them Tommy," Tristan growled. "Weren't you listening?"
"It says here: say these words," Tommy said. "But that's it; there's no words to say."
For a second, a mixture of confusion and annoyance splashed onto Tristan's face, but slowly it was replaced by a smile. They had made it so incredibly simple—to get to the fountain, and now to get here—before, that it made perfect sense that it would be this simple now to get up there. He wouldn't put it past them, whoever they were.
He placed his hand on the trunk and said "Say these words…"
And almost instantly it happened. The tree made a giant movement to Tristan's right, a sort of lean. It had been so steep that for a second he thought their only chance of ever getting up there was going to uproot itself, but then it just returned to normal. Tristan glanced around the trunk at Tommy, who glared back him equally confused. He almost leapt a yard back in surprise when a rope ladder fell down in front of him.
"Waaaaa!" He screamed.
He looked up at where it came from; it just seemed to go literally straight through the branches until it became invisible.
Tommy starting coming around the trunk, pausing once he saw what Tristan was so excited about. "Oh yeah…because that's so much better."
- - -
F.A.T.E. was one of the more ambitious undertakings by the Diland government in the 20th century. Where most other countries hid theirs in secret underground lairs, Diland's Prime Minister didn't like the symbolism so much. So he hired a band of scientists to develop a technology that would enable them to build the agency on clouds (needless to say the Prime Minister was a hippie). The scientists' solution was to seize one of Diland's many mysterious realms, particularly one with static grey clouds, since building it anywhere else could result in them falling out of the sky on a sunny day. They still had a little turbulence from time to time, but that was to be expected. It was never anything that resulted in a rupture, although the government always insisted on airtight emergency plans in the event that that should happen.
For a building on clouds, it wasn't too shabby either. It was a modern structure of steel and glass that would certainly blind anyone who managed to venture up there and stare at it during the day, since there was nothing but space between it and the sun. It was built on a solid concrete foundation, except for the lobby, whose floor was left to be dark grey airy matter for aesthetic reasons.
It was into the lobby that the tree grew. Two men in jumpsuits and goggles stood by it, one grinning his teeth away, and the other laughing as he operated a pulley machine that had a rope ladder attached to it.
"It's ironic right? They won the day I died," the grinning one said.
"Ironic? Knowing the way these people operate, I'd say that was on purpose. I'd say if you didn't go around saying that team would win over your dead body you'd still be alive. They got a really messed up sense 'o humor up here." Said the one at the pulley.
The grinning one started to laugh, but then his face fell flat as though he were reflecting.
There was a loud pop as two men—one blond and one black haired—clinging unto the rope ladder broke through the surface of the gray matter. The man at the pulley flicked a switch and approached them.
"What the hell is this place?" Asked one of the men who came up on the rope ladder.
"You must be Mr. Cummings," said the man in the jumpsuit, and then he turned to the other one with a false smile. "Which makes you Mr. Dherbes. Welcome to the Federal Agency Terminal Interesties. Now, if you'd just go over to the receptionist and check in, she'll let you know where to go next."
The black-haired man nodded and turned to the blond.
The man in the jumpsuit turned to the other one dressed like him, who was still standing on spot with a blank expression.
"C'mon Randy, we gotta go fix that leak outside."
"Are we on clouds?" The blond man asked the black hair one, who just shrugged and approached the receptionist.
"Good day, gentlemen," she said. "Welcome to the Federal Agency for Terminated Entities."
Author Note: What a long absence that was. I have no excuses to bombard you with. Anyway, as a goodwill present for those of you who stuck with Tommy and Tristan, they have a Christmas special for you next Sunday. So look out for that :-), you might just see some interesting things about them both. I still stand by my pledge to finish this, although the sequel I had planned seems out of scope for the time being. I hope you enjoy what's left.