An intrepid journey across the ice plains was all that stood in the team's way. To avoid running into any encounters with the Cartisacs, they set out at night, with no intention of stopping.
As a consequence, fierce, whipping blizzards streamed over the hills. Struggling to breath, Willurby collapsed and sank into the bottomless ice.
"Game over man," he whimpered. The other two waited for him to get a grip but Drake found he was a little less than compassionate. He laired above Willurby, the snowdrops flying his lush coat.
"Game over, it's barely just begun," Drake attempted to raise everyone's spirits. Gasping even heavier, Monty remained ever-vigilant while wading through hazy mist and deep snow.
"We were just a little foolish to think we could come this far from the village with our lives," he admitted. Furious, Drake eyed the doctor and growled.
"Foolish?! What happened to the welfare of the village, I mean we weren't just going to stay cooped up in the village just because life is boring and sustainable... right?" Snow wasn't the only thing falling; damp looks like a wet weekend and silence were also thinning their way into Willurby's and Monty's hearts. Drake needed reassurance and an answer to his question but the other two in the gang look set for an early frostbitten bath. They both looked glum and the future bleak. "So you were just going to stay safe, never live on the edge." Approaching the explorer of tatty, snow-drenched clothes, Monty answered.
"Never try, never fail. I lived through The Big Move. Out of all of us, I was the only one to see suffering and scientists let the world fall to chaos. I never wanted to see that monstrosity again but then came the Cartisacs. This world is perfect we can live here," he then imitated. "Taking no time to consider their effect on Earth's peoples, they came, not knowing how high tensions were and if it weren't for them... we wouldn't be here in this mess." The aurora fields lit bright blue in the sombre darkness. ‘Twas these very lights that empowered everyone's spirits. The faint glowing leading in the direction of The Three Atmosphere Gates. But was it the aurora or something much more worrying?
"'Tis nature," Drake whispered, standing tall above the crying hills.
"'Tis destiny," Monty sobbed for the beautiful landscape.
"'Tis going to run us over!" Willurby shouted, still immobilized on the ground.
Two spotlights beamed in their eyes, revealing the heavy snowfall as a perfectly-built metal machine ploughed over them. The force flung them back 50 metres. Startled, it swerved and paused just sitting there behind the crew. Bravely, Drake shimmied up to the huge headlamps whilst the others crawled shortly behind. At first it seemed uninhabited but in an instant, lasers fired past them in an array of death. Monty and Willurby retreated further back into the chilly snow. However, Drake braved the storm long enough to see five ranger-looking characters in thick jump-suits. They were the sharpshooters. Extremely agile soldiers circled him rifles ablaze. Carefully, they examined his movement when one opened his helmet and welcomed.
"We are the Croton Federation, protecting the world against the Cartisacs." Monty and Willurby summoned strength and dug themselves out of the blanket.
"Well, you're not doing a very good job," Monty riled.
"I don't care. As long as you guys are alive for the resistance," the soldier outstretched his arm. "I'm Captain Vichavic and you, my friend are screwed unless you escape this place. Come on in."
Vichavic lead the crew into warmth and salvation. Inside was quite cramped and narrow but it was an improvement to the harsh conditions outside. They passed a gigantic hangar full of bobsleighs. Monty vigorously shoved to the front.
"Why on Earth do you have an ice-shifting shifty shifter, ay?" Vichavic was put on the spot; gladly he was not worried for he wasn't some sort of Cartisac double agent. No, he told them some tales of jacked Cartisac vehicle after a piping hot cup of tea in the surprisingly spacious hangar. The seats were a bit low though. Seeing everyone in awkward positions, a soldier entered and asked.
"Which one of you was interested in science?" Monty didn't hesitate.
"Me, me, me!"
His infantile "Mes" sent him to a claustrophobic control room. Monty from there browsed an arsenal of weapon triggers, lighted bulbs and boxes of doughnuts. Vichavic copied Monty's shoving and quickly hid his beloved doughnuts.
"Why would you need so many weapons on this thing?" Monty questioned.
"Well, yesterday, we ran into an ice whale, a shivery penguin mage and the occasional snow walrus," Vichavic explained. He was right, not many survive even past their own village in the cryo atmosphere let alone the dreaded Aurora fields.
Day was drawing to its anticipated close. In the case they might attract predators; the headlamps were a no, no. A dim lamp was ignited by the short electricity source. Captain Vichavic, whilst everyone else was asleep, had shown Monty a secret study. Jumping for joy, Monty took his comfy seat and asked.
"So when will we reach the Three Atmosphere Gates?"
"Tomorrow morning if we don't encounter any Cartisacs or ice whales. I swear they want my blubber," Vichavic left the scientist to his work. Cracking his fingers, he prepared for inventing.
All through the night, as everyone was sleeping peacefully, a faint buzzing, drilling, piercing emitted from the small, enclosed cabin. It was either the welding tools Monty was using (or his brain conking out.) Anyway, the result remained the same... a new idea was brought to life.
The very next morning, when Drake awoke, he had this notion to meet his pal Monty. Slouching over the desk, asleep, Monty looked like a drunken corpse. Drake gave a shrill shriek and soon, Monty was awake too.
"Can't a guy sleep, I mean put this on," Monty rapidly changed to a multiple personality. He had placed a circular illuminating pad on Drake's chest. It gave the current temperature. "I want you to give one to Willurby too. Seeing as we've arrived at the Three Atmosphere Gates. It will change the temperature to the very opposite of its original form. Say you're in the pyro atmosphere, this device will manipulate your body to make it feel cold." Notoriously, Captain Vichavic peered down a pothole above a ladder.
"Sorry to rain on your parade but you know I said we'd be at our destination if we didn't get caught up in Cartisac conflict. Well, we ran into a fleet of ice-shifting shifty shifters. What were the odds of that hey?" he laughed hypothetically.
The gang joined Vichavic at the rendezvous point perched on top of the convoy-type vehicle. They gasped in horror as a shifter swooped above their heads, knocking them onto the back of the vessel.
"When you said fleet, I thought you had gone nuts!" Drake whined over the belting roar of the shifters scratching the ice. They failed to take note that Willurby was sliding down the right edge. "But this is insane." Drake lunged out, clinging to Monty's feeble arm in a desperate effort to save his friend. Although he managed to grip Willurby's arm, heaving him back from the edge was like trying to separate a child from a sweet shop. Vichavic wasn't living up to his heroic reputation, standing by the sidelines. Out of the blue flew another shifter but it was coming up to strike Drake, thus letting both of them plunge to their doom.
"If I don't come back, you can probably guess where I'll be," he cried. With mighty force, Vichavic leapt onto the shifter before it had a chance even to scrape Willurby. Out of control, the pilot's vision was highly impaired. It dumbly tried to shake the captain off but the pilot's struggling in doing so let Vichavic whip out his gun. Ferociously, he roared, blasting the imbecile to death. This however gave the rear gunner a chance to finish of the captain himself. In a flurry of snow, whilst the craft was swindling into the dust the gunner popped out unexpectedly and took the captain's life. Vichavic's eyes gawped like his trembling mouth as the shot gave the unwanted gift of silence. His lifeless body, along with the Cartisac gunner crashed into an eternal bond.
"Vichavic!" squealed Monty, the very thought of his vain death gave him incredible mourning strength. Throwing the dangling people back onto the vehicle, he demanded. "We must stop this vehicle!"
"No!" screamed Drake. "If we stop, we're sitting ducks. Why does Fong want to kill us if we're on a quest for him anyway?"
Back at the Cartisac fortress, Fong watched the heroes die.
"Funny. They thought by escaping to the pyro atmosphere, they could elude me," he manically chuckled. One his advisers panted pathetically and tripped up trying to speak to the general. Grabbing him by the shoulders, Fong straightened him up and gave him permission to speak.
"Sir, why are you killing your only chance of completing Frosty Jaws?"
"Silly adviser, they don't want to follow the mission, they wished only to escape my clutches. They've even tried to get to the pyro atmosphere," Fong plotted.
"Even though the pyro atmosphere is the only place to get what you require," the adviser snorted. Embarrassed, the genral requested the retreat of his men.
Obeying their dictator's words, they took evasive actions in returning to the base. Victorious, Willurby muttered.
"What the hell was that about?" Drake was just glad to be alive so wiped the snow from his cap.
"We might've lost the Croton Federation's leading man but that is the reason why we need to carry on, we have him to avenge now. We can't let him die in vain!" Drake spoke. His gang agreed with their rightful leader. As Vichavic did, a soldier peered through the same portal (but not upside down) and remarked.
"Sir, we've successfully stopped at the Three Atmosphere Gates," and he saluted honourably. As a tip, Drake gifted the man with a potato and disembarked the machine.