Heyo, interwebz. It's been some time, hasn't it? My sincerest apologies. Life got in the way, and by that I mean I started writing another fic. *shrugs* No need to worry, though. I intend to finish this.

sssssssssSSSSSSSSSSSsssssss…

"Joseph, look out!"

Boom!

The force of the explosion sent Joseph flying. He tumbled and landed awkwardly in the cobblestone generator. After a moment, he pulled himself out of the frigid water, thoroughly soaked. "That's it," he declared, shivering, "I'm making us some swords." Punching down the last of the tree, he retreated to the Crafting Table and began the process of fashioning the weapons. "Be sure to get any saplings that drop from the leaves," he instructed Travis.

Travis nodded. Ignoring the rumblings in his stomach, the Minecrafter gazed up at the decaying remains of the tree, watching for any seedlings that might fall.

"There," Joseph said, inspecting the swords he had created. "That'll do it." He handed one to Travis before making a few experimental swipes with his own. "Hm. Not my best work, but they'll be enough for now." Sheathing the makeshift blade, he destroyed the last of the floating leaves, harvesting a few saplings in the process. "How many saplings did you get?" he asked, planting two of the small sprouts.

"Only one," Travis replied, placing it inside the chest. "We should make that portal now if we're going to the Nether before sunset," he said, retrieving the ten Blocks.

"Mm."

The portal was constructed quickly. Instead of the standard version of the portal, which required a total of fourteen Blocks of Obsidian, the two Minecrafters placed blocks of Cobblestone along the corners of the hellgate.

"Nether Portal: Economy Version," Joseph announced, taking a step back to admire their work.

"Yeah… how are we going to light it?" Travis asked, gesturing about the floating island. "It's not like we have a surplus of flint and steel lying around."

Joseph smiled. "Not to worry, my friend," he said, grabbing the bucket, along with a wooden plank, from the chest. "We can use the lava from our generator to light it." Scooping the molten material up, he created a small cobblestone barrier between them and the unlit Portal. "Sima taught me this." Placing the lava down nest to the portal, he positioned the wooden plank next to the Portal. "Now, we wait for the lava to ignite the plank, and the fire will (hopefully) spread to the Portal."

They waited. Parts of the plank began to melt under the extreme heat of the lava. The wooden board glowed red along the edges, and suddenly –

"Fire!"

Joseph grinned. "Yes! Come on, fire, light the Portal!"

The small flame danced along the edge of the portal, as if contemplating whether or not it should move further. It touched the Block of Obsidian and disappeared, replaced by a screen of purple light. The Portal was open.

Wordlessly, Joseph refilled the bucket with lava and tossed it in the generator, placing the bucket back in the chest. He drew his sword. "Shall we?" he asked.

Travis nodded, drawing his blade as well. He stepped into the portal, turning to face his friend.

"Hey, Travis," the blond said, grinning. "Go to Hell."

Travis rolled his eyes and waited. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, his vision began to swim. Everything turned a violent shade of purple before fading to black.

When Travis opened his eyes again, he was in the Nether. The sky was red as blood. Travis stepped out of the Portal, clutching the hilt of his sword so hard his knuckles whitened.

The Glowstone platform threatened to crumble underfoot. At least, that's how it seemed to Travis. With each step the ethereal Block made a sickening crackling sound that gave the impression of walking on glass. Palms sweating and heart racing faster than a pig after a carrot, Travis peered over the edge of the platform. All this Glowstone had to be connected to Netherrack somewhere, right? In his many excursions to the Nether, never before had the Minecrafter seen the golden light-sources just floating like this.

Then again, he'd never seen a floating island of sand before, either.

Joseph appeared in the portal. "Movin' to the Nether, I'm movin' to the Nether~" he sang, eyes closed. He'd never cared for the way portals made his eyes swim. It gave him a headache.

"Joseph," Travis's voice wavered. "Open your eyes."

"But this is the best part!" he complained, eyes still squeezed shut. "OoooOOOOoooo the Nether – Movin' to the Nether, Movin' to the Nether, ooooOOOOoooo the Neth-"

"Joseph!"

"What?" Joseph's eyes finally opened. Blinking once or twice to adjust to the light emitting from the Glowstone underneath him, Joseph glanced irritably at Travis. "I always let you finish when you're singing annoying songs. I don't see why-"

"Joseph. Look," the ebony-haired Minecrafter said softly, gesturing out over the nothingness before them.

Joseph's face changed, first from one of minor annoyance to one of confusion, then to disbelief. His sword fell from his hand and clattered noisily on the Glowstone. "No," he breathed, taking a small step forwards. His expression changed again, to shock. "No," he repeated, shaking his head violently. His eyes narrowed and tendons on his neck stood taught. Hands clenched themselves into fists as his entire body began to tremble. "NO!" He screamed loud enough to wake the Enderdragon itself.

Travis flinched back. "Joe, calm down. It's oka-"

"No!" Joseph spun suddenly, fist lashing out at the portal that had brought them here. Flesh and bone met Obsidian in a brutal battle for dominance. The Obsidian won, hands-down. Roaring, Joseph continued the useless assault, fists flying into the purple Block. Crimson blood began to pour as the jagged dark rock tore skin from his knuckles.

"Joseph, enough!" Travis bellowed, grabbing his friend from behind. Joseph resisted his confinement, but Travis held on.

After a few more attempts to break free, Joseph calmed down. "I'm okay," he said at last.

Travis let go and backed away. "Listen, bro. I don't know what you were hoping to find down here, but even I'm smart enough to know this wasn't what you wanted."

Joseph laughed weakly. "No shi-"

"Quiet, you. I'm trying to be nice here. Now listen. Sure, we woke up on a floating island in the middle of Notch-knows where. Sure, we're sitting on a five-by-five hunk of Glowstone. I'm sure Herobrine's out there somewhere, laughing his ass off.

"But it doesn't matter. You know why?" Travis asked, looking Joseph straight in the eye. "Because I'm also sure Lindsay, Ashley, and Sima are out there too. They're probably worried sick. They've probably looked everywhere for us."

"Is this supposed to make me feel better?" Joseph asked.

"We know they're out there. Nether, they're probably back at home. I'd bet you my diamond pick Sima's eating all the cookies." The two chuckled weakly. "Anyways, the point is that you and I, me and you, we're going back. It doesn't matter how long it takes. We will make it back home. I swear it."

Joseph nodded. Neither said anything for a minute of two.

Joseph stood. "Well, I don't know about you, but I for one am done with Hell." His gaze fell upon a chest. Resting by the portal, it had been overlooked by both Minecrafters. "Eh…" Joseph glanced at Travis. "Care to do the honors?"

"Don't mind if I do." Travis knelt in front of the wooden chest, eyes gleaming with excitement. The container opened with an audible creak.

"Well?" Joseph asked, unable to see. "What's our loot?"

"Erm…" Travis lifted an almost transparent Block from the chest. "One Block of Ice – because that makes complete sense – Ah… Twenty-seven Blocks of Glowstone… Mushrooms, one brown, one red; a cane of sugar, and one birch sapling."

"…Well, that's random," said Captain Obvious.

"Yeah, no kidding." Travis stood, depositing the items into this pockets. Joseph retrieved his sword and shrugged.

"Let's go back."

Sunset found the two Minecrafters remarkably better off than they had expected. With the Ice Block, Travis had constructed an infinite water supply – because who needs physics? – and had remade the cobblestone generator to maximize production. Meanwhile, Joseph had planted the birch sapling and was currently expanding the island, creating a space for mobs to spawn "so we can get bone meal. With that, we can make a tree farm really easily, and make some Epic 'Shrooms, cut 'em down and make soup." Five of the Glowstone Blocks had gone into lighting up the main island, the rest – along with the sugarcane – rested safely in the chest.

All in all, things were looking up for Joseph and Travis.

As night began to fall on what Joseph had affectionately dubbed 'Skyblock', the two friends lay down near the generator to get some sleep. "I'll get first watch," Travis offered.

Joseph nodded his thanks and rolled over. Finding a relatively comfortable patch of grass, he unbuckled the sword from his belt, lay it next to him, and closed his eyes. Within moments he was asleep.

Annnnddddd Done! Yay! I have no idea when chapter four will be written, but Muse has a few things in mind. So who knows? Stay frosty comrades. And as always, have nice day. (I've been watching FPSRussia recently. Does it show?)

See you next chapter.

-Wolverinejoe