Somewhere deep underground there is a place of darkness. Catacombs within stone walls and arched ceilings. Mostly it is quiet down there. Stifling and hot. The kind of hot where there is stale hard to breathe air with no drafts, and everything feels sticky. Nothing ever moves down there. That is, until now.
Mostly it is quiet, but not this day. This day thing are moving, many things. Two voices can be heard above the quiet din.
"Lord," Jevier spoke with the same condescending arrogance that he spoke to everyone with. "Things appear to be going as you stipulated. I've bargained with Limburger, the aid of his men in capturing our prey. In return for relieving him of his enemies. I have also tricked the biker mice into joining us in the hunt. They will all be in position by sunrise tomorrow, and if I play my cards right you may have a bonus along with them."
"Ahh the fat one."
"Limburger? No, not him. But I do guarantee that you will like this surprise."
"Yes. Limburger, that was the name. Such passion! Such resilience! I have only known one other mind with that kind of durability. What a filling meal. What a filling meal... No, no no," The deep voice sighed, "Alas such a weak soul and unfit body would not survive long in my land. But no matter," the voice chuckled contently, "I have yet to be disappointed by one of your surprises."
"I am honored that you think so highly of me, lord Korack." Jevier said not losing his haughty demeanor for a second.
"I would not be paying you so much if I didn't think highly of you." Korack's gnarled leathery green hand reached out and touched Jevier's shoulder hungrily. A look that was almost parallel to fear crossed Jevier's face. He pulled away too hard and tripped over one of Korack's infinites. It yelped and scurried away. Korack said ominously, "See that my faith and my gold have not been miss placed."
Jevier nodded his head curtly and began to march away at a swift gate. It was all he could do to keep from running madly for the surface. Korack's laughter echoed behind him and he could still see those bright yellow cat eyes in his mind. Flashing dangerously and watching his every move.
Modo walked in through the open dragon doors and looked around the main room. The table hadn't been cleared of the last meal. Soup bowls, and half eaten buns lay scattered. Troth's bed was empty. Muddy footprints lead up the ladder and out the terrace door. Things were smelling more than a little suspicious.
Modo follow the footprints out the door. They stopped just a few feet from where he stood. It was as if whomever had made the tracks just dropped from the sky. Muffled clangs sounded from the other side of the building. Modo eased along the wall of the big central tower until he could see what was going on.
An eight foot tall cat with wings was battling Jeanie. They seemed to be fairly even matched at the moment, leaping from battlement to battlement. Remembering the incident with the dragon, Modo decided to wait until he knew more. But he had his arm canon ready should he need it.
The cat carried a curved and nasty looking broad sword. Jeanie appeared to be winning although she was the underdog, being smaller and having only a two foot short sword. She tripped him and set him rocking backward. A stray swing of the broad sword almost got her but she leapt back just in time. Losing her own footing and tumbling back. She landed somewhat squished between two battlements. By this time her opponent had regained balance. He knocked the sword out of her hand and sent it sliding across the stone terrace.
With a cocky cat smile he put his sword to her throat and was about to say "I win," when a loud shot rang out. With typical cat instincts and luck he leaned far forward just in time to have a laser go by and singe the tips of his feathered wings. Jeanie took advantage of the sudden shift in sword and weight. She plunged her feet into his stomach. Lifted him over her head and sent him hurling over the side of the wall.
Then taking his sword and her own shouted to the flying cat, "I win!"
Trothina had sensed something lurking below where she was perched on top of the cone shaped red roof of the central tower. Normally she would have stunned or pounced on so bold an intruder. This one however was familiar and didn't seem to have any ill intent. Something about the small creature still bothered her as she listened in on his thoughts. Something wasn't quite right with his mind. Something was missing. When her receptors picked up the sound of the shot something clicked in her dragon mind and she pounced!
"TRRROOOTTHHHIIIIINNNNAAAAAAA!!!" cried a shouted a startled Rowina.
She had been sitting on Troth's back watching the sparing match. Thinking how gorgeous he was. Trothina had mumbled something at her but she didn't listen. Then her daydreams were rudely interrupted as Troth plunged straight down. Pinning one of those weird mice on the ground.
"Jeanniieeee!" Modo shouted. He hadn't seen her little victory and was concerned for her as well as himself.
Rowina slid off of Troth's back and knelt down beside Modo. "Whu happun' the big mouse fall down?" she teased.
"Cute. Can you get her off me?"
"I can try. Trothina! Could you? Would you? Relieve this mouse," Rowina almost burst out laughing. There was no Dr Sues on her world but it was the first thing Jeanie had taught her to read. When she understood what the words meant she thought them silly and childish. Now she realized she was using the same trigger of speech she was tempted to add, `On top of a house? Eating green eggs and ham?' but she thought the better of it. "Troth only listens to me sometimes but I'll try again." Rowina vaulted up, catching one of Troth's receptors and using it to pull herself up on top of the dragons head. "Dragon!!!" she shouted right into the little knob. "HO DRAGON!!!" There now if that wasn't painful it would at the very least catch her attention. Rowina lay on her belly hooking her feet on one of the neck ridges and stretched so that she was upside down looking the dragon right in the eyes. Her cape fell over her head and tickled Troth's nose. "I think you better put this one back. He really not your type. Heck he'd not eveaaaaaaah!!!" Troth sneezed and Rowina fell to the floor in a puddle of mush.
"EEEWWWW! dragon loogies!" Modo would have wiped the gook from his face but he couldn't move his arms. Troth sneezed three more times and Modo groaned helplessly.
Jeanie approached the trio. She had a big grin on her face. "Now Modo I know you guys don't come to my house just to start fights with my friend and play in dragon goobers. I'd be insulted if you did. By the way this is Talmor. So far the only person I know that knows enough about sword play to give this little Kythe master a half decent workout. So I kinda need to keep him in good condition," she punched playfully at Talmor's iron hard stomach.
"Only HALF decent? My dear Jeanie, might I say that your reaction time was a little slow. After all, if I hadn't had to dodge that shot I would have had you licked."
"My dear Talmor," Jeanie replied teasing, "might I say that if MY reaction time was a little slow YOURS rivaled that of a snail. Why I could have blown your head off three times! The only reason I didn't was because... because..."
"Admit it," Talmor cut in, "your just madly in love with me and you can't stand to be wrong so you just won't say!"
"Talmor," she said laying a hand tenderly on his shoulder. Talmor smiled expectantly. "In this rough cruel world of ours everybody needs a dream to hang onto. Never lose that." She turned her attention to Modo leaving Talmor right and properly silenced.
She almost tripped over something on the way. "Why Row' what ever are you doing down there?"
"I'm... I'm... *Sigh* I don't know."
Jeanie shook her head. "Sometimes I wonder about you, I really wonder... So Modo I see you've had another close encounter," she fought hard against impending giggles. Looking over her shoulder she asked "Could one of you guys bring this poor guy a cloth or something while I try and talk some sense into this big lizard?"
Lizards have scales. I'm not a lizard. Troth sounded contrite.
Aah. You wouldn't talk to Row' but you'll talk to me. I think you hurt her feelings. Look at her she hasn't moved since she fell.
She was and still is being silly.
Maybe but you could at least let Modo's arms loose. He's probably awful uncomfortable.
He is but what does that have to do with Rowina?
"I will," said Talmor heading for the door. He paused by Rowina. Who was still lying on her back. "Enjoying the view?"
Row rolled her head over to look at him. "Mmh hm."
"Your an odd little duck," Talmor said shaking his head.
When Talmor was through the door and out of earshot she groaned. How humiliating!
I thought that it was the subject of conversation.
I thought hurting Rowina's feelings was the subject of the conversation.
You brought it up.
"Now you listen to me lizard lips!" she said aloud Your gotta at least let him wipe his face. I mean what your doing is just plain rude."
"LIZARD LIPS!" Modo and Troth thought/said in unison.
I told you I'm not a lizard. And if I let his arms go he'll shoot me like he did last time.
So only let go of his nonbionic arm.
I don't want to, but ok.
Talmor came back and handed Modo a wet towel. "I gotta go back or Aniky is going to have my hide for a throw rug." said Talmor changing back into a human and putting his shirt on.
"Oohoo, sounds serious. Good luck!"
"You too," he said including Modo with a smile and a nod. With that he took a glowing white ball out of his pocket and held it up to the sky. A warp opened and he jumped through it.
Modo finished cleaning himself off and threw the towel to the side. Troth pinned his arm down before he could do much else.
You've made it quite plain that you don't want to let him go. Why?
Don't know. Something bad, can't make my head think of what it is.
Jeanie was concerned. Troth was well endowed mentally and rarely had problems thinking anything out. If she thought something was wrong she usually turned out to be right.
He's bad? Jeanie inclined her head at Modo.
No, not him. He's good. Something has been taken away. There's a big hole in his head.
IS THAT ALL! C'mon people forget things all the time..
No, not forgot. When you forget your mind just misplaced it. This is GONE.
You win lizard lips...
NOT A LIZARD!! NOT A LIZARD!! NOT A LIZARD!! Troth's eyes formed purple flecks of annoyance.
I believe you but you can't hold him down forever. You both hav'ta eat sometime. I'm sure I can handle whatever might be wrong. You oughta know by now that yours truly can't be stopped by just one little mouse. You can let him up.
Now Jeanie was really beginning to wonder. Troth could be stubborn sometimes but she never downright refused on something so important.
Eventually Jeanie convinced her to let Modo go but Troth kept a wary eye on him after that.
Troth finally grew tired of watching Modo and went back to her bed. Modo was sitting outside with his bike. What ever had gotten into that dragon he didn't know. What he did know was that he wasn't going to get in her way, just in case it decided to get in her again.
"Sorry `bout that." Jeanie said coming through the door holding two mugs of home brew root beer. "She said something was wrong but she didn't know what and she didn't want to move until she figured out what it was." Jeanie plunked herself down, leaning against one of the battlements
"What did you say to talk her out of that?" Modo asked sipping at his root beer. He plunked down beside her.
"I really don't know. Everything's just been weird these past few days. I can't think why but maybe it finally affected her." Jeanie chugged down half of hers and wiped her mouth.
"How long you been traveling?"
"I mean since you left your home world."
"I've been on the road since I was thirteen." Jeanie sounded sad.
"Your parents must miss you."
"I never had any parents."
"How could you not have parents? Everybody has parents."
"Not me. I was adopted by an old couple when I was five. Then their son and his wife died in a car crash and I got a big brother. I do miss them though. Grandma was really sick when I left." At that she slammed down the rest of her root beer to keep the lump that was forming in her throat at bay.
"How come you left?" Modo probed gently, sensing it was a sensitive subject.
"I was out on a walk and saw some things I shouldn't have seen. The guy in charge of the whole operation was fairly reasonable. He told me to get outa' town and keep my trap shut or he'd kill my family. I split."
"You ain't been back since?"
"Only once for Christmas. I just left some gifts on the doorstep. That's all I could risk.
"Because of the gang?"
"No, there are other people that would sell their soul to know where my family is."
"Man you are one curious mouse!" she tweaked his nose and leapt to her feet. The discussion was going all to hell, fast. "I can't tell you that."
"Because then I'd hafta let my dragon eat you." She headed for the door and made a motion for Modo to follow.
The door opened noiselessly. Jeanie pointed at Troth, a big smile played across her mouth.
" Aww the big baby's sleepin'," Modo chuckled.
"Watch this," Jeanie sprung through the door and landed with a loud boom on the iron wood floor.
Below the dragon still slept soundly. She took up a pot and a ladle and started banging them furiously, then she dropped them and jumped through the door, slamming it behind her. A great roar was heard from inside. Troth burst through the dragon doors howling like a banshee. There was a low pitched whistle as she launched herself into the air.
"Run!" she took Modo's arm and hauled him over to the edge of the wall. Without hesitation she threw herself over the edge, bringing Modo with her.
Vinnie and Throttle were waiting on top of a five story building overlooking
a park and pond.
"I wonder what's taking them," Throttle said noting the sun hovering low over the horizon, "it's been hours since Modo left."
"Don't worry bro, he's probably having a blast. Lucky bum, I miss out on all the fun stuff." Vinnie adjusted his rear view mirror so he could look at himself. "AAAAAAAH!!"
"What is it?" Throttle said with a start.
"I can't believe I've been ridin' around for two days like this!"
"Like this!!" Vinnie turned to face him rubbing at the spaghetti stain on his chin.
Throttle smiled and immediately brought his hand up to hide it. Then he started to snicker. Laughter exploded from him uncontrollably.
"It's not funny! I look like a flippin' flappin' vampire!" At this Vinnie looked into the mirror again, he smiled in spite of himself.
"...AAAAAAAAH!!!" Modo stopped screaming when he realized they
weren't falling but flying. He looked at the ground below and at dragonhold
behind them. Then he looked at Jeanie and squeezed her hand tighter. She
looked at him with a brilliant smile. "Are you doing this?"
"Mmmhmm." she nodded.
They looked behind them only to find that Troth had given up and went to back to bed.
"Oh mama, I suppose this means that there is still more a lot more things that you got to tell us."
Jeanie nodded her head emphatically, "Perhaps I'll tell you the whole story someday when the time is right. Right now it'ld be too dangerous."
"Like I said before, there are people out there that would sell what small scrap of a soul they have left to know where I am. If I told you more they'd know the truth just by looking in your eyes. As it is I think I'm doing you and this world a disservice by doing what I'm doing now."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Just taking a time out from being on the run for a little bit of r and r," she sighed contentedly and barrel rolled into the sunset.
Modo's heart almost stopped beating as he saw her let go of his hand. Then he realized he wasn't falling at all. He was flying all by himself! "How'd you do that?" He asked breathlessly.
"I've gotten attuned enough to your vibration so now I've got a geomagnetic field around both of us."
Modo turned a backflip. "There's a park right over there. I'm going to go get some munchies and I'll meet you there."
"Kay." Jeanie flew away.
"Oh Trodar, I don't know if we'll find them in time." Rowina
sounded worried and about to loose hope."
"Take heart child. Lost souls like you and I don't have the time nor the strength to fight off such torrents of self doubt.
Rowina smiled to herself. It was a lie of course, a well constructed, well placed, well intentioned lie. Trodar was the rock that everybody came to lean on when things weren't going right. She wished she could lean over and give him a big hug but Charlie was riding in front of her. Charlie reached forward and timidly ran her fingers through his silver black mane. She looked back and smiled at Rowina. It was like looking into the eyes of her twin sister. They smiled shyly at one another.
"So she and Modo took off after teasing Troth you say?" from Trodar.
"Uh huh." Rowina confirmed.
"What were you doing lying on the floor anyway?"
"Hey Jeanie I forgot to ask you what you wanted to eat." Modo
came swooping down to where she sat by the pond.
"Aw thanks that's sweet of you. I'll actually eat just about anything right now. I haven't had anything since this morning."
"Sure," he said grinning and launched himself into the air.
A scream echoed from the air. There was a flash of silver in the azure end of the sky. Modo came swooping down. He back watered before he hit the ground and turned to scan the sky. Another scream sounded behind him. He turned too late and was struck in the head by a golden hoof.
Trodar floated over the unconscious Modo and landed on the ground in front of a dumb founded Jeanie.
"Have to leave. Now! Jevere!"
"What about Modo?" Jeanie said kneeling down to make sure he was ok.
"He's a TRAITOR!!" Trodar stomped his feet angrily. "Sent by Jevere to lure us here."
At this Jeanie pulled away from Modo in disgust and anger. "I should have recognized the warning signs," she mumbled to herself then to Trodar, "How do you suppose he'll try and catch us this time?"
"I don't know but we better take action quickly."
"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!" Two bikers rocketed off of a roof top of a nearby building. One of them wrapped his tail around Modo's waste and pulled him onto the bike, the other snatched Charlie off of Trodar and hauled her onto his bike. They regrouped and started firing on the other three.
Rowina was hit and she screamed in pain. Trodar squealed leaned back slightly from the pressure of a hit to the chest. He spread his wings to shield the now unconscious Rowina.
Jeanie looked back at them. Trodar could heal himself automatically and instantly. But otherwise he was defenseless against attack via projectiles. Not wanting Rowina to get injured any more he did not move in closer.
They weren't fighting fair, they had betrayed her before even knowing her and they had hurt her friends. Needless to say she was not pleased.
"Stop it!" she cried angrily. The beautiful fire that always sparkled behind her deep green eyes now ate away at the green and Jeanie's eyes began to glow a ghostly white. She held her cupped hands close together. A look of intense concentration crossed her face. Almost instantly a spark alighted and a ball of fire was held firmly between her two palms. The fire got bigger and quickly engulfed her hands. With an evil smile she clasped her hands together in the shape of a gun and fired upon them.
The bikes split up before the fire ball hit. In the place where they had been was a black circle of charred grass. The two bikers looked at each other and nodded understandingly. They double back as if to retreat, but instead they drop off Charlie and the still unconscious Modo behind some trees. Trodar took the break in laser fire to do the same for Rowina. The mice came back with a vengeance, advancing twice as fast upon the lone two.
"It seems like their trying to steer us some where." Trodar said using his invulnerable body as a shield for Jeanie.
"We can't let them. We have to get back to Dragonhold and warn the others."
"Couldn't you do that from here? I mean they're all telepaths."
"I've been trying since the attack started and I can't get through! It must be a side effect of Korack's presence here."
A figure dashed around front of the bikes and help up it's hands to them. It was Charlie. "Hey guys wait! She's not what you think!"
"They programmed you to think that. It's Jeveer who's the good guy. She's a convict! Now get out of the cross fire!" Throttle shouted above the noise of battle.
Trodar, take Row and get back to Dragonhold on your own. Get the place evacuated and prepped for departure so I can pull out as soon as I get there!" Jeanie motioned to him between shots. She had chosen her short sword in favor of the clumsier fire balls.
"Don't worry I can handle this myself. Just GO!!
Trodar reared up in frustration but obeyed none the less. He took Rowina up in his teeth by the back of her shirt and galloped off. But a sound from behind made him stop in his tracks before he had gotten too far.
Jeanie was covering him with her short sword, using it's hidden laser. Charlie was still trying to convince the guys that she was not under any influence by Jeanie and her crew. Modo was just coming to. He was already confused and groggy. The flashing bright lights and small explosions didn't help any.
There was a scream from Charlie. A stray laser shot reflected off of Jeanie's sword had just ripped through her side. She gripped Vinnie's arm and looked into his eyes. A look of fear and pain crossed his face.
"Charlie!" Vinnie exclaimed weakly. He reached down and tenderly wrapped his arm around her. He looks so worried and confused, Charlie thought to herself.
"I- I'm ok," she used his shoulder to pull herself to her feet. She stood there tottering and clutching her ribs before she could brace herself against a tree. "I'm ok Vinnie." she repeated again, more to reassure herself than anything else.
Vinnie gave her one more long critical look just to make sure, then turned back to the matter at hand.
"You're gonna pay for that!" he gunned his motor for the charge.
"I didn't mean..." Jeanie cried. She had been worried too when she saw what had happened. But now it was too late.
Throttle had spotted the small break in her guard and her confidence and chose that time for the attack. With turbos on full power and guns a blazing he lead the charge.
NOOOOOOOO!!! two minds joined to form one large blast of over mastering will power. Everyone, save Jeanie and Charlie fell over and lay quivering on the ground. Modo, now fully recovered from the blow to the head just barely managed to lift his head and look up.
Troth and Binxe stood just behind Vinnie and Throttle, snarling and growling like demons. Binxe's chocolate eyes were glinted red in the darkness and Troth's had turned an ominous fiery orange.
Trodar warned us. All is in readiness for departure, Binxe intoned. his fir was still standing up on his back and his eyes still red in anger.
"Good, then we best go." Jeanie leapt up to Troth's harnessed back and helped Binxe up too.
With a leap and a bound Troth was air born. Charlie wrecked out imploringly with her hands. She did her best and mustered up her concentration. A weak mental signal managed to make it's way up to the two and a half telepaths above. Hey me, the transition was fuzzy and half of the words were missing but they got the general idea. Troth pulled a backflip and swooped down, catching Charlie up in two four fingered blue hands.
When they got to Dragonhold every thing had been cleaned up and put away. Modo's bike stood outside on the terrace along with Talmor, Trodar, Rowina and the dragonets. As soon as they landed Jeanie gave orders to move Modo's bike and for everyone to get off her house.
She knelt down on the the terrace and slid her hands over the smooth adamantine stone floor. With closed eyes she imagined Kythe light seeping between the particles of her home. Words of a beautiful forgotten language began to spill from her lips. Words of a simple spell taught to her by Aniky. The spell made simpler still by being intertwined with Kythe power. The light began to contract and push the particles closer together until they couldn't be packed any tighter. Soon they began to shrink. When the terrace became too small Jeanie got off and kept shrinking until it was no bigger than a chess piece. With that she picked it up and placed it in a pouch of her utility belt.
Charlie stood blinking and smiling. All wounds forgotten. "So it's true. Everything you've told us is all true! The multiverse, the Kythe, everything. It's all true!!" Charlie was grinning ear to ear now and doing everything in her power to keep from dancing ecstatically as new worlds of possibility opened up before her.
Jeanie grinned "Was there ever a doubt? You're going to explore those worlds Charlie. You're going to find so much adventure and excitement that you'll come to know them by their scent alone. There will be places so joyous and light that you'll want to dance till your feet fall off. Then they'll be places so calm and welcoming that you'll never want to leave it ever." Row gave her friend an inquisitive look.
"But the garage, the guys and what about...."
"Don't get me wrong Charlie, it's only for a few days, two weeks or so..."
"Two weeks!" she exclaimed.
"Relax! That's about how long you guys were going on vacation before I came along and cut it short." She took Charlie's hand and lead her over to where Talmor and Rowina stood. "Talmor would you consent to being her guide?" she placed Charlie's hand in his.
"How could I resist? It's not every day that I'm offered the hand of such a beautiful lady. Even if only for a few days." He went down on one knee and bowed his head as if to kiss her hand. Instead he only touched it to his forehead. "Pleased to make your acquaintance," he said getting to his feet. "I'm flattered," Charlie said smiling. "I'll need to pack before I go though."
"No time. Need to leave now before the chaos starts." Talmor said pushing back a forelock of thick black hair.
Four pairs of smiling green eyes locked in a long conspiratory grin fest. Jeanie was the first to break. She lifted out of her pocket a softly glowing orb, much like the one Talmor was using a little earlier. Holding it out in both hands she summoned fourth a warp.
"Trodar, Rowina and Binxe go through first. Charlie you ride in on Troth. Talmor you and the dragonets stay with me in case trouble starts before the second group gets through. Lets move!"
"What about you?" asked Charlie as she buckled the harness attachments to her belt.
"I'm staying back to help your friends get out of the little pickle they've gotten themselves into and to give you a better chance at escape. Once Korack's on a trail it's pretty hard to lose him."
"I'm staying to fight with you." Trodar turned from the vortex and faced her.
"No you're not." Jeanie replied sternly.
Trodar's laughter came out as a horsy whicker. "It's been a long time since one small girl has built up enough gall to order the king of unicorns around like a trick pony." his laughter became an all out whinny.
"Listen to me!" Jeanie reached up and caught him by his thick blacksilver forelock and yanked his head down to eye level.
"Ow! Hey!!" Trodar's voice sounded more surprised than hurt.
"If Korack ever gets his filthy claws on you he won't ever let you go." Now she threw her arms around his neck. "Everything would fall apart without you."
Trodar turned to leave but paused and gave her one last look, "be careful."
"I will. Now GO!"
Talmor gave him a slap on the rump that sent him squealing into warp with Binxe not far behind. "Now you." he pointed at Charlie.
Troth launched herself into the air. She would circle round until she faced the warp, then she would pin down her wings and dive. Twice they circled around the tower until Jeanie managed to enlarge the vortex. Halfway through the second pass a harpoon was shot from one of the nearby buildings. It tore deep into Troth's thigh. She began screaming ear piercing wails aimed at the person who should have been there. But no one was there to be affected, only a machine at the end of a long steel cable attached to the harpoon. Troth began to struggle, great gusts of wind that could bowl a man over were generated by her frantically flapping wings. For all the effort it only made the wretched barbed thing tear more cruelly at her flesh. A whirling sound came from the machine and Trothina found herself being reeled in. She gnashed her gleaming sharp teeth together angrily. Sparks flew out of her gaping maw as she belched fourth a sweet smelling gas that ignited the sparks into one long column of red fire. The machine remained stubbornly unaffected.
Jeanie had already taken to the air with her dragonets. One sweep from her keen sword snapped the thick cable in two. Sending Troth and Charlie plummeting for the warp feet first.
Charlie was in awe as she entered limbo. ribbons of calor spiraled round each other and merged as a with light at the other end of a giant tunnel. She could hear people talking, screams for mercy, sounds of war, a mother's tender good night, children playing and singing. Once in a while something would happen that allowed her to catch a glimpse of somewhere or some when. Then the dimensional fabric would weave itself back together and the vision would be lost.
Get ready we're almost there. Troth's message interrupted the dreaminess of limbo.
Charlie had to close her eyes because as they got closer the light grew unbearable. There was a jolt as they departed dimensional limbo and fell into darkness.
Talmor and Jeanie looked up to the sound of a thousand battle cries.
Korack's infinites floated above them. Half of them looked like long haired
grey polar bears with long bushy tails and tiny bat like wings. The others
were like little greyish brown and pink goblins. Jeanie closed the warp
before any could dive through.
"Remember go for the ones without collars. We'll deal with the others later." Jeanie reminded him.
"Check. Good luck Red."
They split the dragonetts up into two wings and began the gory task of fighting their way through the swarming cloud of enemies.
Modo sat up in the darkness. All he remembered was that he and a beautiful girl named Jeanie were going to have a picnic by a beautiful pond at sunset. He was just going to go get some food. Then it was dark and Jeanie's two friends were standing there looking really mad and he was on the ground. Now the only light that shone came from a half covered sliver of the moon and a few burning embers. Black circles of burnt grass lay scattered everywhere. A few of the tall trees that had stood around the area were either burnt and glowing or lay in a heap of slivers.
In the middle of the leftover chaos lay his bros wide eyed and shivering, their bikes standing guard loyally. They didn't know there riders had been under psychic attack. All they could make of the situation was that their riders had fallen down and the advassary sportingly called off the battle until such a time as when they could get up again. Very unlikely, but for now the most logical explanation.
Modo walked over to them and the bikes bleeped in recognition. He checked both their pulses, they were alive and well with no signs of physical injury. Then it seemed to click in his mind, the explosions, the laser shots, the big voices in his head, a tall bearded man in a cape, the puzzle was beginning to piece itself together. But he couldn't be of any use to his bros or anyone else without his bike though. So he slung Vinnie and Throttle over his shoulders and began to trudge back to where he remembered Dragonhold to be.
I wonder if I can still fly? He thought to himself. He tried a couple of experimental hops to see if he could and found that he floated for a few seconds before touching down. Modo paused to concentrated for a moment then launched himself into the air. He was flying all right but it was hard going, about as hard as running and he couldn't negotiate the air currants as well as he could before. It was faster than walking and easier than trying to ride and carry both of them at the same time. Whistling he motioned for the bikes to follow him.
His concentration gave way as he was greeted by the trail of destruction that lead from where Dragonhold used to be and he dropped from the sky landing hard on the roof of the building. All around the ground was splattered with blood and the bodies of dead or almost dead creatures lay scattered. For a moment he crouched there panting and surveying his surroundings, looking for a place to hide his bros until they came to.
He spotted a door leading into the building and dragged them through it. There was a roar of engines outside as the two bikes pulled up the wall and were talking to his bike. When they saw Modo standing in the door they pulled to him blinking and beeping as if to ask him what next.
"I don't know!" Modo said exasperated. "I wish Throttle were awake instead of me, he would know what to do. You better come in though. It looks like there's been a big fight and I don't feel safe leaving them all alone. Except for you Lil hoss," he put a hand out to stop his bike. "I don't know if it's the best thing but right now it's the only thing that makes sense. You and me are gonna ride out and see if we can't find out what's really happening here."
He picked a bit of burnt stick out of his fur and used it to scribble on the wall.
With that Modo jumped onto his bike and road off following the trail
of destruction to Limburger tower.
The faint grey light of early dawn began to spill over the horizon. A
few sleepy birds somewhere began murmuring their good mornings to each other.
On the roof of the Limburger tower Jeanie and Talmor found themselves surrounded
by infinites and goons alike. Inside Limburger watched the scene on his
monitor laughing malevolently. Then he noticed something amiss.
"Jevier! Where are those miscreant marmosets! You promised to dispose of them in return for my help!" Limburger shouted pounding on his desk making the monitor jump and the picture scramble.
"They will be here." Jevier said confidently and calmly. "See there," he touched the monitor and the image cleared. Atop one of the buildings on the far side of the plaza the outline of a bike and rider cut a clear silluette against the city lights.
"But that's only one! Where are the other two?" Limburger shouted impatiently.
"Birds of a feather..." Jevier shrugged nonchalantly feeling no need to add the rest of the fraise.
Modo layed low and quiet upon the building. There were too many goons and whatever those weird creatures were for him to do anything now.
Four streaks of tiny colour and claws darted about, flying in formation with the smallest and the largest at the head. Streams of sweet smelling fire flowed from there gaping mouths. A broad katana blade was hurled down at them from one of the gremlin thingies. The two wing leaders split, their partners did the same. The big ones flew straight for the offending infinite. The smaller, faster couple glided around and positioned themselves behind it.
Belle dug her needle sharp teeth into it's throat with a ferocity shown only by rats and mad things. She wrapped her tail around it's neck and proceeded to throttle it. Her mate kept spitting short bursts of white flame into the creature's eyes. Suz and Forest took their que and crowded in scratching and scarring with wing, claw, flame and fang! Rolling it's wide eyes in panic the gremlin started wailing and snorting as it realised it was slowly dying. Forest had an idea: such a thing is a rare occurrence so he darted away to the front of the gremlin's steed. With a few quick sparks in it's eye he set the thing reeling back and shaking it's head in protest. This sent the goblin, now laced in long fine cuts tumbling back. It screamed as it fell to it's death.
It's steed was on of the polar bear-like creatures: who now without a rider to be obedient to could focus on fulfilling the one thing it was created to do, capture Jeanie and deliver her to his master!
Realising this the dragonetts were about to dispose of the beast the same way they had it's rider. Collectively they noticed a glint of something shiny about his neck. They immediately whirled around to find other prey, ones that didn't have the saving grace of a collar.
They had destroyed quite a few of the infinites Modo noticed. If this was any suggestion of their potential he knew mars could use a few of their kind. Friendly, ferocious, obviously trainable and they could bond with other beings: yes he'd have to talk to Jeanie about them. He watched as they cheerfully went about their impossible task.
"I bet they'd go on like that even if they knew they were bound to fail. And I wouldn't be surprised if they did know." he mumbled.
There came a shrill cry as the dragonetts' tried and true formula for success finally failed them. Belle had the beast by the throat and was about to wrap her tail round it's neck when it caught her tail in it's mouth and bit down hard! Jeanie yipped and stopped in mid battle to grab her own rump! She turned to glare at Talmor who rased his hands in plea of innocence. Then she looked up to see her Belle being slammed against a wall. Jeanie found herself being picked up by an unseen force and hurled against Talmor. Forest went for the steed's head, but before he could do anything the bat winged beast opened it's maw and engulfed him. It would have swallowed him whole had he not sent a burst of flame down it's throat. Back on the roof Jeanie was now lying flat on her stomach as though two massive jaws were clamping her down. Instinctively she shot a bolt of fire at nothing in particular and she was released.
Belle was flying in a pinwheel fashion now. Wildly flapping around in circles and crying like an out of tune flute. Jeanie found herself screaming running around in circles like a chicken with it's head cut off. The other three dragonetts flew for Belle and carried her off to where Talmor stood and lay her in his arms. The panic that had filled the courageous little beast now dissipated and she became calm. Jeanie came to her senses and found herself at the edge of the roof, one foot firmly planted on solid cement, the other stretched out in mid air about to take its last step. For a moment she leaned forward, hovering in a frozen pose over the abyss like someone had just pushed the great pause button for the entire universe. Bellow there were lights. In a sudden panic she began waving her arms backwards in big circles. She managed to bring her foot back so that her heel just barely touched the edge. Infinites were gathering to catch her. No they would not let her fall, she was far too valuable to their master. In a last ditch effort to get away she launched herself backwards with a calculated force. Her efforts were in vain however and her feet slipped upon the spilt blood of her enemies.
Talmor had drawn back his arm for the knock out punch when he heard her
gasp close behind him. He realised she would fall if he didn't do something.
The goon had ducked instinctively so instead of punching he fell onto his
back and planted his feet into the other's face. With his drawn arm he reached
back over the ledge and caught her firmly by the wrist.
A goon saw him laying there vulnerably one arm holding Jeanie and the other wrapped around the wounded Belle. Talmor saw him coming and purposely waited until he was almost ontop of him, the long slender knife only inches from the centner of his chest. Then he thrust his feet up between the mans legs and hurled him over his head and down to the street bellow. His plan didn't turn out just right for the goon managed to get a hold on Jeanie's ankles. He rolled over and stood up without squishing Belle too much. With his one arm he lifted Jeanie until she was above his head and kicked the man still attached to her ankle.
"What happened doll face?" he asked as he set her down.
"Korack," she coughed, "I can- can't" she coughed again.
He was nearly twice her size but he bent down until he was almost at eye level with her. Their deep green gold and blue flecked eyes were so alike that they could have been brother and sister. When their gazes locked he understood everything she wanted to say. Even if she could get away and out run the infinites she couldn't leave the bikermice to be captured and possibly turned into infinites themselves. Having their souls slowly drained from them and consumed by Korack.
Jeanie handed him her pearl and her utility belt, taking only a slingshot and an ordinary whip. Then she slid off a silver coloured bracelet adorned with sixteen tiny adamantine daggers, of these she only took one. She handed him the braclete.
Before enveloping him in a Kythe shield she extended her hand as if to shake his. Instead they clutched each other's upper arm and tapped their own chests with the other fist. Two warriors' sign for greetings and goodbyes, an oath of lasting friendship and promise of return.
With that Talmor stepped back to where the dragonetts had gathered waiting for him. He pauses to check on Belle lying limp against his chest. An egg of Translucent white light had formed around them. Outside of it Jeanie was taking her time, sliding the tiny dagger into her head band and finding a place to tuck the slingshot. She was gathering her anger, he could tell. With every bit of dredged up pain and resentment the egg pulsed brighter until he couldn't see through it any more. He closed his eyes and saw her face looking back at him. Her energy had peaked and would need to be rechanelled into one last burst before it dissipated by Korack's will. He opened a warp and jumped through as the air itself exploded into fire around him.
Every moment Modo had sat back was a torchier to him. He stayed his hand
by repeating the question "What would Throttle do now?" and answering
it truthfully. "He would know that he'd only get caught or killed if
he went up against all of them by himself." Modo closed his eyes when
he saw her fall and kept repeating the same thing to himself over and over
again. When Jeanie and her friend stood talking he gazed about nervously
watching as millions of creatures pressed closer to them. Then the big man
stepped into an egg and that was the last he saw because the creatures had
packed themselves in tight as bricks one ontop of thee other and side by
side for half a city block all around the Limburger tower.
Modo stood before his bike every muscle in his body was taught, his fists were clenched and his one eye blazing. It was all unbearable now, every time he so much as blinked he caught flashes of her all alone in a dark stuffy room where everything smelled of death and hopelessness. She was sad and angry, confined and frightened. He turned away but then he started seeing her with his eyes open. Once more he asked himself, "What would Throttle do?" and again he answered truthfully. "Throttle would do anything for a friend!"
He leapt onto his bike, gunned the engine and rocketed into the air. There came a rumbling noise from inside the wall of infinites and shafts of light stabbed through. Suddenly the wall was engulfed in flames. Burning infinites were flung in all directions. Modo's bike flipped backwards three time before coming to rest right side up on the roof it had started at. In the middle of the wreckage stood Jeanie clear eyed and ready to fight some more. She surveyed the damage and grieved inside to find too many enchanted brass collars without owners. Ten, twenty, fifty strong, beautiful, living souls that could have been rescued from their private hell and given a new life, possibly a new body.
Presently her eyes fell on Modo who was still sitting on his bike looking at her.
"Modo, what are you doing here? How did you find me?"
"I came to..." he started then he and his bike promptly fell over.
She used her whip to swing over to his roof and ran over to him. First she stood his bike up then rolled him onto his back, knelt down and cushioned his head on her lap.
"Poor brave fool. I bet the shock from that explosion hurt something fierce. I don't have the energy to heal you now, I doubt I could even find out where you've been hurt." She looked up at the bikes cracked rear view mirror and noticed that her hair was still on fire. She tossed her head and the flames flickered out. "Your bike doesn't look so well either. I guess even if I could pick you up it wouldn't be able to take us too far."
Just then she heard engines two bikes flew up over the wall and landed on the roof. When they saw Modo they jumped off their bikes and ran over to him.
"Back away slowly and you won't get hurt." Vinnie said aiming his laser at her.
"You don't understand. I didn't do anything!" then as an afterthought she added, "Well I did but I didn't mean for him to get hurt."
"Just like you didn't mean for Charlie to get hurt?"
Jeanie was about to answer when her inner scenes warned her of danger. Instinctively she glanced upwards. "Take him and get out of here now!" Her voice was calm and commanding. But when she looked at them her eyes were pleading and urgent.
"Fat chance babe! Everything Javier said about you has turned out to be true. We're gonna take you in so that you can't hurt anyone anymore." Vinnie stepped forward to grab her but he fell down as a section of the roof rose up beneath them. A giant metal box fell from the sky. Anything else he wanted to say was stifled as sleeping gas filled the chamber through small vents in the floor.
Outside millions of creatures silently clustered `round the box clutching at it and hefting it into the air. Their tiny wings made no sound at all as they bore it away to their lord and master.