Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)
By Kenn Allan
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Static, then only silence.
Joy snapped off the neuronic transmitter. "Well, it looks like we're on our own."
"Are you sure they've cut all communication?" asked Hope. "Maybe they missed one of the lesser neuron receivers."
Joy shook her head. "No, I'm afraid the brain is completely under their control. We have no choice now but to continue with our original mission and liberate the Heart."
We should have acted sooner, Joy scolded herself.
It was true—the Gloomtroopers had been infiltrating through the five sensory outposts for years. With diabolical precision, they marched thorough the circulatory system until reaching the Heart where they established their shadowy stronghold. They immediately began hardening the cardiac walls with thick callus plating, causing the entire organ to sag under the increased weight. It was only a matter of time before the Heart would break completely.
"I believe we can still do it," encouraged Faith. "All we need is a plan."
Just then, a distant rumbling rippled though the epithelial tissue, graduating in volume and intensity until becoming a sustained moan of despair. The entire vein shuddered violently then constricted, increasing the overall pressure of the surrounding fluid.
"That one really hurt," yelled Hope, grabbing at her ears.
“The Body can't take much more of this! We have to do something!" Faith wailed.
A desperate plan formed at the back of Joy's mind. "Okay, listen up."
"Please tell us you have an idea," begged Hope.
"I knew you'd come up with something," declared Faith.
Joy took a deep breath. "As I figure it, the Gloomtroopers will be expecting us to enter the Heart through the superior or inferior Vena Cava since the artery currents are too strong for us to fight. They will probably set up an ambush as far away from the Heart as possible to buy themselves some time."
"So, how do we get in?" asked Faith.
"Through the capillaries," Joy replied with a grin. "We can crawl through them unnoticed and pop out into the Vena Cava behind the Gloomtrooper's trap. We should be able to simply walk into the Heart unchallenged."
"It's certainly worth a try," Hope cheered. "Let's roll."
The three managed to creep through the tiny vessels in a single-file line. Hope took the lead, followed closely by Faith, while Joy stayed in the rear and calculated when they should emerge. Once they were safely past the most likely spot for a Gloomtrooper ambush, Joy tapped Faith who, in turn, tapped Hope.
"Okay, get us out of here."
Hope ripped through the tissue-thin wall and peeked into the Vena Cava. Except for the bouncing rhythm of a few passing corpuscles, everything was deathly still. She slid from the capillary into the larger vein, then turned around to help Faith do the same.
To their horror, their feet began slipping wildly. The Gloomtroopers hadn't set up an ambush at all. Instead, they had smeared the walls with lipoprotein, making it impossible for anyone approaching the Heart to remain standing. Caught in the strong current, Hope and Faith tumbled helplessly around a corner and toward the hulking shadows of several hundred Gloomtroopers.
Another agonizing moan rumbled through the Body.
“Hey, grab one of these,” called a voice behind them.
It was Joy, happily astride a white corpuscle and leading another in each hand. As she swept past, Hope and Faith managed to grab one of the blobby masses and scramble onto its back. Together, all three managed to steer into the strongest part of the current and swoosh safely over the heads of the befuddled Gloomtroopers.
Once inside, a myriad of cracks began creeping across the Heart’s heavily-calloused walls. The frantic Gloomtroopers scrambled to reinforce the fortifications but to no avail. Deep fissures plunged into the ventricle, sending large chunks of plating and screaming Gloomtroopers spinning away through the aortic valve.
“Listen!” Joy shouted as she steered her mount through the swirling chaos. “Can you hear it?”
A new melodic tone resonated throughout the Body...
I’ve got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy down in my Heart,
Down in my Heart, down in my Heart,
I've got Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy down in my Heart,
Down in my Heart to stay.
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