After Hiro, it was Dag's turn, which was dragged to the alien machine without struggling.
The hand of the guard, who grabbed him by the arm, seemed human only in appearance: indeed, his strength was superhuman.
The belt with which he was tied inside the Temporum's cylindrical room was so tight that he could not even move his wrists.
After the hatch closed, the three tubes hit him, penetrating inside his flesh, one on the back of his head and two on his arms.
Dag felt a pain he had never felt before: he was not only superficial but came from within his body.
When they began to aspire, he felt a horrible sensation, as if his lungs were emptying and the blood flowing through his veins was completely drained.
The level of pain was maximum in the center of the chest, at the sternum, which seemed to be imploding in the rib cage.
Dag managed to hold back the cries, but a few tears poured from his eyes. He could not take away from his mind the image of Hiro who, a few moments before, had suffered like him and who had been taken away, forever.
The tubes stopped to withdraw and detached from his body, returning to the inside of the machine.
The monitor at the top displayed:
- HUMAN C0DE _ DAG 813666
- NORSE: 94%
- ROMAN: 4%
- UNKNOWN: 2%_SYST_ERR0R_
Reading these numbers, most of the people between the crowd reacted with nervousness. They began to chat to each other, and soon the order of the room vanished.
"Order! Order!" said one of the Xis men sitting at the stone table.
"Brothers, this is the first time that the Temporum analysis returns such confusing results. Probably, despite the perfection of our advanced technology, it also needs maintenance".
The crowd was incredulous.
"Anyway, the Temporum has spoken: the human 'Dag' has been classified by as belonging to the Norse Pantheon. Despite the error code, the highest blood percentage is worth: 94%. He will be sent to Planet Skjold".
Dag looked at the old Lady. She reciprocated his gaze with sadness, standing still beside the other children. Two guards pulled the young kid outside of the glass cylinder, carrying him away from the hall.
In the mess of the moment, he looked back, noticing that the jury was perplexed, maybe worried.
After several minutes of walking, he reached a metal door. One of the guards, with a small blade, cut his wrist.
The man, wearing a light, glossy armor, collected some blood with the same blade and put it on a bright sensor, on the door side. It suddenly opened.
They escorted him through: the interior of the chamber was very small, no more than one person could fill that space. Dag entered, then the door was closed from the outside.
"Please, don't hurt me, I'm a good kid! I never disobeyed the Ladies, and I've always been kind to my friends! Please, let me out!"
The guard typed a code on the panel. In no time, Dag stopped sensing space and time and everything around him became dark as if his brain was shutting down. In a few seconds, he fainted.
"Another one is here […] must be warned. […] I think he's about to wake up…"
Dag began to regain consciousness. He started feeling his breath on the ground, an earthy ground. His eyes started to blink. The smell of that ground was dry and barren.
"Here he is, he's coming in the land of the living! […] hahaha […]"
When he finally opened his eyes, the indistinct voices took shape.
Some faint figures were staring at him.
"Aaaah! What..what..?!" Dag screamed scared.
"Hahaha, hey there, lil' guy. Welcome!"
"Where am I? Did I travel between planets? I don't know, my head is spinning…"
He quickly stood up.
"Well, it seems that you were a good student. Maybe you can tell me where we are, don't you?"
Now Dag could see clearly. The man who's talking was a fat man, with a long black beard, and few, messy hair, however, his deep voice seemed friendly.
"We're on the planet where I should be, my ancestor's home. On the machine, it was written 94% Norse, so… am I on Skjold?"
"Hahahah, yes childling! You're only 8 years old, but you're clever! Haahahah" replied the man.
"Thank you… anyway, my name's Dag".
"Yes, yes, I know your name, you teleported yourself with the Vortex. Every time some kid comes here, his name appears written up here, see?" said the man, pointing at a small monitor at the top of the cabin Dag was teleported in.
"Anyway" continued the man.
"You're a Viking now! Follow me, come!"
Dag obeyed. In the meanwhile, he looked around: the walls of the room were made of wood. They were adorned by drawings and banners, mostly red, and axes were hanging on both sides, with boar and deer heads.
They walked along a corridor. The Viking man seemed to know exactly the direction, probably he did this introduction to newcomers as a routine.
"Anyway childling, my name's Hallr. If you need anything, just ask of me".
"Thank you" answered Dag.
The corridor led to the outside of the wood structure. Once outside, Dag was blinded by warm sunlight.
"How is it possible? Is this light coming from the Sun? Was it not dead?" he asked.
"Yes childling, the Sun is dead, you're right. This light is artificial, it has been made by the Xis. They created a synthetic atmosphere, able to recreate the optimal conditions for our lives, allowing us to populate this and other planets" Hallr answered.
Dag couldn't believe in his own eyes, that took seconds to open again. His skin was actually feeling the sun heat.
"On earth, they force us to live underground. They use this principle to get our lives under control".
After a few steps through the first building's courtyard, a second one appeared: it was larger and taller, with high stone walls, and a circular ground at the center. A lot of children, boys and girls were fighting against each other, holding wood weapons and shields.
A tall, blonde woman came out opening a door behind the arena.
"Is the little blonde guy a novice?"
"Yes Taya, he's all yours!" said Hallr.
"Good luck Dag, see you around, then" he replied.
"Yes, see you Hallr!"
The walked towards Dag: "well, well... here we are, kid. Hallr used to be a great warrior when he was young before he was nominated Guardian of the Vortex. I'm Taya and I'm a Skyaldmaer. With my help, you'll be able to forge your destiny".
"I've learned a lot about you Shieldmaidens by Lady Ysabel. You are great female warriors that protect the Viking King!" answered Dag.
"Haha! Yes, a kind of. Now go change these ridiculous clothes you're wearing. Hurry up! You look more like a woman than I do" the woman chuckled.
Taya pointed to the door from which she had come out seconds earlier. Without saying a word, Dag opened that door.
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