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Red Eye Brigade: Among Demons (Full Manuscript)

By Quinn Fletcher All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Red Eye Brigade: Among Demons (Full Manuscript)


Red Eye Brigade Manuscript:

Among Demons

Prologue:

This is Argus in the Evening with Clos Set Wailing. It is a lovely night in the empire’s capital city of Hellengaruo. The sky is a beautiful shade of black with both moons full and bright. “The red eyes of the doom are fully opened now”, as you religious demons would say. First up tonight will be news on the Argus Alliances campaign against the Omniverse. Sad news folks, it seems that another realm has averted conquest yet again thanks to those self-righteous troopers. But before that listen to the much anticipated fan favorite song by…”

CRACK

“Ah nuts.” Morphan picked up the pieces of the dropped radio and tried to put them back together, he quickly lost his cool and exerted too much strength thus breaking the handheld radio even more. He then let out a heavy sigh and put the pieces into his sack, figuring he would throw them away once he came across a proper garbage can “It’s not like a broken radio will really make this day that much worse.”

It was nothing that he had not been through already. The community he was living in found out he was a half-demon, otherwise known as a Hanyou or Damos Cross. Other titles included freak, mutant, abomination, mutt etc. As always once it was discovered that Morphan was a half-demon his social life was no more.

Morphan didn’t have very many worldly possessions but the few he did have were very easy to pack and carry, which was convenient when angry mobs were converging on him. He had figured today’s mob would be the “all-talk” variety and would run away once it became obvious that he could actually fight back thus giving him a chance to flee.

Unfortunately that had not been the case.

Apparently, the Hellengaruo’s suburban population was not as pampered and pathetic as the comedians said they were, although it was nothing a half-demon’s decade’s experience of defending himself from rioters couldn’t handle. Unfortunately fighting back always gave the rioters a reason to tell on him. All the more reason for Morphan to move to a different part of the city. “Lucky for me the city is so big or I’d have run out of places to hide long ago.” Morphan said to himself.

“I probably should stop talking to myself.” Morphan stated glumly.

Soon he found his destination a bus stop bench. He threw away the broken radio into a nearby garbage can, checked the bus schedule and lay down for some rest.

Later…

Sleeping on a bus bench is never cozy, even less so when you have a brown carapace covering your forearms, lower legs, upper chest and the top of your head. The parts that weren’t covered in a carapace were covered in thick, leather like skin making it even more uncomfortable. “It’s not like I have a lot of options” thought Morphan at one point. His “genetic alterations” powers as they were scientifically called granted him three forms: Human form, Half form and Demon form.

Demon form was extremely useful for defending himself with the enhanced strength he got from it. But outside combat, the thick, bulky armor-like carapace covering his body seemed ludicrously unnecessary, not to mention uncomfortable. Plus, the community had seen him in his Demon form so by now they all had it memorized.

Human form was an even worse idea because walking around as a human in Argus was the equivalent of a sheep walking into lion territory. Although the soft flesh he had in that form was certainly a lot comfier then any of his other forms, it just wasn’t worth the risk. “Sleeping in my human form is what got me into this mess in the first place” he thought at one point while trying to sleep.

His half form was the only form that no one in the nearby community had seen him in. It wasn’t as strong as his demon form or as comfy as his human form but it was by far the least conspicuous.

Another reason he didn’t sleep well was because of his clothing. He had not expected to be “going out” when he dressed himself that morning. All he wore was some black sweatpants, some loose sandals, and a thin black vest with the Argus logo on the back.

The Argus logo was basically a demon head caricature. Why the Argus Empire felt the need to put their logo on everything Morphan would never know.

Plus memories from his past played over and over again in his head.

All and all Morphan did not sleep well.

HOOOOOOOONK

Morphan woke with a comical startle.

“You getting on?” asked a cheerful voice.

Morphan eventually calmed down and focused on the sound of the voice, Morphan quickly discovered it belonged to a bus driver.

The bus driver was a large burly demon covered in thick brown shaggy fur, he wore no clothing (which was common for the more animalistic demons) save for a bus driver’s cap which looked comically small on his large head. Like all demons of Argus he had bright red eyes. To other beings of the Omniverse his red eyes would have appeared malicious or frightening but to Morphan who was raised were nearly everyone had eyes like that he found the bus drivers eyes friendly and pleasing.

“I said are you getting on?” the bus driver asked kindly as he kept the door opened.

“Yeah, sure I’m on.” Morphan stuttered as he rushed onto the bus, paid the fine and went to the farthest seat in the back.

“So, where are you headed at this hour?”

“Look, buddy normally I’d love to have a chat with you but I’ve had a long day and would really like to get some rest.” Morphan spoke in the friendliest tone he could muster so as to not hurt the nice demons feelings, Morphan then plopped his head onto his sack as a makeshift pillow “Just wake me when we reach the end of the line please.”

“Well, rest well,” the bus driver continued “Because we’re in for a long journey!”

Chapter 1: New day

HOOOOOOOONK

Morphan woke with a comical start. He took a moment to rub the sleep out of his eyes and as he did, he noticed the bus driver walking up to him.

“Morning Pal” said the bus driver cheerfully.

“Morning,” said Morphan now completely awake. If a life constantly on the run taught him anything it was how to get up quickly. “We at the end of the line?” he asked as he prepared to get off the bus.

“End of the line?” the bus driver asked, “It’s only been one night; hell we haven’t even reached the halfway point.” The bus driver stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Well where is the end of the line for this bus?” Morphan sat back down. “And when will we get there?”

“Mirabilis” the bus driver stated casually “and we should be there in about, oh” the bus driver leaned on the top of a bus seat as he thought “a week, maybe more if traffic is bad. I mean there’s always some kind of trouble in the Null lands.”

“WAIT A MINUTE! Are you telling me that this bus goes all the way to Mirabilis?” Morphan asked skeptically “and what’s more I can get there in a WEEK?” the bus driver nodded in response “Mirabilis the city on the other side of Argus in a WEEK? I know I wanted to get far but Mirabilis that seems way too good to be true.” Morphan thought to himself, he then stared at the bus driver suspiciously. “Did this guy figure out I’m a half-demon? Is he setting up some kind of trap?”

“YUP all the way to Mirabilis in a week.” The bus driver stated proudly, oblivious to Morphan’s suspicious glare. The bus driver then took off his hat (revealing a bald spot on the top of his head) and held it by his chest as if it were a Bible “There aint no finer bus in all of Argus then my precious Gale” the bus driver said his eyes sparkling with pride.

“On second thought he doesn’t seem like the type of demon who could lay an elaborate trap.” Morphan thought to himself. “So, Mirabilis, huh.”

“Yeah” said the bus driver as he put his hat back on. Then he looked at Morphan curiously. “Didn’t you know that when you got on the bus?”

“Look I didn’t care what bus it was, I just wanted the first bus out of town.” Morphan stated, he then scrunched up his face. He knew he needed to think of a lie and fast, in case the bus driver asked any questions.

“Really?” said the bus driver as he eyed his passenger carefully, the bus driver then had an epiphany. “I got it; I know exactly what’s going on.” He stated seriously.

Morphan stood up and clenched his fists “You do?”

“Yes I know exactly what’s going on.” With that the bus driver pointed accusingly at Morphan and yelled “YOUR ELOPING WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND!”

Morphan was so shocked by the bus drivers answer that he lost balance in a comical fashion.

“ELOPING? With who?” Morphan asked annoyed “You and I are the only ones on this bus.”

“Oh I won’t try to understand you young lovers.” The bus driver chuckled light-heartedly. With that he turned and headed towards the driver’s seat chuckling.

Morphan stood still for a while trying to comprehend what just happened before he gave up and slumped into the seat he had slept on. He then looked out the window on his left to get a grasp as to where he was. Judging by the small rural buildings and relatively flat landscape, he figured he was on the outskirts of Hellengaruo. And considering how small and rural the buildings were compared to Hellengaruos city buildings he guessed he was really far out, by the outskirts. “Hard to believe he drove me all the way here in one night,” Morphan thought to himself.

“OH I can’t believe how stupid I am,” yelled the bus driver as he was about to sit back down “I forgot the whole reason I went up to you in the first place.” He then went up to Morphan and asked “Would you like some breakfast?”

Morphan raised an eyebrow. “This bus does catering?”

The bus driver shook his head. “Nah I just figured since I was at a gas station refueling I might as well get something to eat, and since you’re here I figured you might be hungry too.”

Morphan sat there with a blank expression for a while before saying “I’m not a picky eater so you can go ahead and serve me whatever you want.”

“Alright be back in a jiff.” With that the bus driver headed out the door “Oh by the way my name is Crax, Harry Crax at your service.” said the bus driver.

“Morphan”.

“Okay Morphan see you soon.” With that Harry left the bus to go get their meals.

It was at that moment that Morphan realized how much the weather had changed. When he woke up the sky was a deep onyx, but now the red sun was rising, casting the sky in a bright shade of early morning orange.

Chapter 2: Entering the maze

Argus. 

The Demon world. Bathed in the light of a red sun and ruled by the militaristic Argus Empire.

The Null Lands.

The areas between Argus’s cities that are known for their lawlessness. The only thing that keeps any real order in those areas is the “Representatives” from the Argus Military.

Weasels in charge of Chicken coops.

“You sure this is a good Idea?” asked a young voice. The voice belonged to a 5’6 human demon crossbred named Morphan. Morphan had brown leather-like skin with dark brown armor-like carapaces covering his forearms, lower legs, upper chest, shoulders and the top of his head. For clothing he wore black sweatpants, some loose sandals and a black vest. Like a lot of things in Argus his vest had the symbol of the empire (a caricature of a demon head) on its back.

“I’ve heard this is a pretty shady area of the Null lands,” he continued as his red eyes scanned the dry, desolate wasteland outside the bus window.

“Don’t worry, Bus Driver Prodigy Harry Crax is on the job.” Harry was a big burly demon at 6’5 and covered in thick shaggy brown fur. The fur covered nearly all of his body save for his forearms, revealing ink-black skin with small claws at the end. The only clothing he wore was a small bus driver’s cap on his head to cover his bald spot. “Trust me, taking my special shortcut through Labirinth Canyons will cut our time in half.”

Labirinth Canyons was a series of interlocking canyons located deep in the Null Lands. Its unforgiving landscape, complicated maze like structure and bogyman stories of brigands kept most demons out of the area.

As Morphan looked out the window he could see the imposing mountainous canyons in the distance. “Harry did it ever occur to you there’s a reason demons don’t take this route?”

“Relax, will ya.” said Harry as he confidently stroked his large bushy mustache. “I told you before I personally know the Representative in this region. All I got to do is wave a little cash under his nose and TA-DAAA he’ll take us through there with a skip in his step.”

“So, that’s the secret to your success, huh bribery.” Morphan stated, a little harsher then he intended.

“Ah don’t be so naïve, you’d be surprised how cutthroat the transit business is.” Harry stated casually “Besides what right do you have to judge me. You’re eloping.”

Morphan smacked his forehead in chagrin. “For the last time I’m not eloping.”

“Sure you are, why else would a strapping young demon like you be going to Mirabilis?”

Morphan tried desperately to think of a comeback. What was he supposed to tell him, telling the truth would be a bad idea. The bus driver had been kind to him so far but Morphan knew all too well how easily that changed at the mention of being a half demon.

“(Sigh) I guess I’ll just have to trust you.”

“That’s what I’d like to hear.” Said Harry, with that he switched gears and sped his little red bus towards the canyons. “Believe me, friend, nothing is going to go wrong.”

An hour later…

Harry’s little red bus rushed through the canyon. “I can’t believe how quickly everything went wrong?” exclaimed Harry as he frantically drove his bus.

“Half-Demon Scum” yelled the Argus Representative- Straight Arrow. Straight Arrow was a massive crocodilian demon standing ten feet tall and built every inch of the way with thick, muscular scaly flesh. The only clothing he wore was a pair of black boxers and the Shadow Emperies- an emblem with the Argus logo-embedded into his chest. “DIE!” he roared, showing off his rows of razor sharp teeth, with that he focused his demonic aura into the two barnacle like bone structures on his back and with a burst of purple energy propelled him forward in a manner similar to that of a jet pack.

“That’s some Aura he’s got.” Harry exclaimed “My precious bus Gale is going as fast as she can go but he’s gaining up to us with just one burst.”

“What did you expect he may be bottom rung but he’s still a military demon.” Morphan explained.

By now Straight Arrow was touching Gale with the tips of his short, sharp claws. “I’ve got you now!” he yelled.

“That’s what you think!” Harry retorted. With that he made a hard right causing Straight Arrow to continue forward straight into a canyon wall.

CRASH

The impact shrouded Straight Arrow in a cloud of dust and debris. “Lucky for us this aint the first time I’ve dealt with trouble on the Null lands.” Harry bragged.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was a half-hater?” Morphan asked sternly.

“I didn’t think it mattered.” Harry answered, because he was currently focused on the road Morphan could not see his face. “Besides why didn’t you tell me you were a half-demon?”

“Because I was chased out of every home I had for BEING a half-demon.” Morphan yelled angrily, the entirety of the situation frustrating him. “I was on the run AGAIN, and when you’re on the run you don’t tell the first demon you meet that you’re a half demon.”

Harry said nothing.

“So now you know the truth, I was taking the first bus out of town to escape an angry mob of half-haters.” He continued.

Harry said nothing.

CRASH

Bursting out of the wall to their right was a large, spinning, black mass. “Drill Attack” the mass yelled, it slowed its spinning to reveal it was Straight Arrow who had apparently bored through the earth snout first like a drill.

Before they could comprehend what was going on, Straight Arrow grabbed onto the moving bus and broke a window with his pointy snout.

“How did you…”

“He he he you didn’t think I was just blowing hot air all those times I told you I knew this canyons inside AND out.” Straight Arrow bragged. “I drill through the walls to make shortcuts all the time.”

“Boulder!” Morphan yelled pointing frantically forward.

Apparently Harry was so awestricken with Straight Arrow’s appearance that he wasn’t paying attention to the road. As a result he had to slam the brakes to prevent them from crashing into a large boulder on the road.

“Face it, you’re completely out of your league.” Straight Arrow bragged. “You don’t know the land nearly as well as I do so you can’t hope to outrun me, and as military demon my combat Prowers naturally exceed yours so you can’t hope to fight me. Your only option is to lay down and die.”

“Look, half-hater, I’m the one you want to take me and leave him alone.” Morphan stated defiantly.

“Shut up you MUTT!” roared Straight Arrow his red eyes burning with racial hate. “Anyone who’s willing to help one of you disgusting freaks is automatically my enemy.”

“But how do you know if he’s a half-demon?” Harry pleaded. “This could all be just a big misunderstanding.”

“It’s his EYES you brainless idiot, his EYES!” Straight Arrow yelled, with that he opened his eyes wide for emphasis. “You see, natural pure blood demons like you and me have eyes that are completely red just as the Doom intended. But freaks like him…” he gestured to Morphan “Their eyes are only red in the iris and the pupil.”

With that Harry slowly turned around and looked at Morphan’s eyes. For the first time Harry noticed the white surrounded the red in his eyes. Harry also noticed although the rest of Morphan’s face was stern and unreadable his eyes were apologetic either sorry for dragging Harry into this mess or sorry for being born a half-demon.

Perhaps both.

For the first time since he meet him Harry’s face was completely devoid of emotion.

“Aww isn’t that just the cutest thing.” Straight Arrow mocked. “Tell you what Harry this little love fest has touched me so much that I’m willing to forgive you IF you hand over the freak to me.”

Harry said nothing.

“What’s more, if you pay me double I’ll forget all about this little incident.”

Harry said nothing.

“Pay me triple, and I’ll guide you out of this canyon, what do you say?”

Harry said nothing

“Surely you’re not willing to DIE for a half-demon of all things?”

Harry said nothing for a while before inhaling and exhaling deeply. “Listen here Morphan is MY passenger, and if I let anything bad happen to my passengers I’d be a disgrace to bus drivers everywhere.”

Morphan was shocked for a moment before smiling warmly then starring down Straight Arrow defiantly.

Straight Arrow snarled loudly “Fine then you two will face the abyss together.”

“BRING IT ON!” Harry proceeded to rapidly open and close the bus doors causing them to bang Arrow on the shoulder. Eventually Straight Arrow growled in annoyance before grabbing the doors and ripping them off the bus.

“Oh it’s on now,” yelled Harry. With that he suddenly pulled the bus into reverse, causing Arrow to lose his balance. While Arrow was struggling to retain his grip Harry drove his bus forward.

“Gale Crushing Attack” Harry proceeded to scrape Arrow along the wall of the canyon.

“You call that an attack!” Straight Arrow boasted. “Let me show how a REAL demon does it.” With that Straight Arrow grabbed the bus and activated his jets. He then rammed the bus into the adjacent wall and started to scrape it.

Harry scrunched at the sound of scraping metal “Ahhh I hate it when people hurt my precious Gale.”

“Then you’re not going to like this!” stated Morphan.

“Richter Punch.”

POW

Morphan punched through the bus’s metal wall straight into Arrows gut. The impact caused Arrow to let go of the bus in recoil and thanks to the momentum fall to the ground and tumble with the bus continuing forward.

As Arrow slowly got up, Morphan detached the bus’s emergency exit door and threw it at Arrow like a javelin. The door impacted with Arrow’s chest sending him flying into a boulder in the distance. The boulder shattered on impact.

Harry stopped the bus so he could look back. In the distance he saw Arrow groaning in pain. He then looked at his bus, noticing its broken window, big hole on the side and lack of emergency door. “Don’t like your methods but can’t argue with the results.” Harry said, with shrugged shoulders “Anyways you better buckle up pal, I’m going to get as much distance between us and him before he comes too.”

“No need, this is my stop.”

“Alright thank you for choosing Red-Eye Express for your transporting… wait WHAT?” Before Harry could form a question Morphan jumped out of the back of the bus.

“What are you doing?” Harry hysterically asked “Get in here so we can go.”

“You go I’ll stay and hold him off.” Morphan stated sternly as he took off his vest.

“HOLD HIM OFF, but isn’t he…” Before he finished Harry looked into the distance to notice Straight Arrow getting up with a sore midsection and scrapped flesh on his back.

“Listen to me, Harry.” Morphan continued, as he slipped off his sandals. “Half-haters like him are all over Argus. And as long as you’re with me you’ll be in constant danger.”

“Bu… but I… but”
As Harry stuttered Morphan stood up with his back straight, fists clenched and gaze forward. “Being a half demon has messed up my life, I won’t allow it to mess up others.”

Harry kept opening and closing his mouth trying to say something, anything.

But Harry couldn’t say anything.

“Harry…” Morphan continued his voice so soft and quiet it was practically a coo. “Please, just go.”

Without another word Harry drove his wounded bus into the distance.

A few seconds later Straight Arrow showed up, floating above Morphan, arms crossed arrogantly, face full of contempt. “You must be the biggest idiot in the Omniverse if you think you can take me on.”

“Don’t care if I win or lose.” Morphan retorted.

“Oh?” with that Straight Arrow shifted his eyes into the distance and noticed the bus driving off “I see trying to play hero huh.” With that, Straight Arrow deactivated his jets causing him to land right in front of Morphan; taking some delight in showing his would-be opponent the difference in size between them “I’ll deal with that traitor later.”

Morphan looked up and glared furiously at Straight Arrow. “Don’t give me that look.” Straight Arrow snarled. “What I going to do to him won’t be half as bad as what I’m going to do to you right NOW!”

POW

Straight Arrow punched Morphan in the face. The force of the impact sent Morphan tumbling backwards before he managed to regain his footing.

“Missile Attack” Straight Arrow activated his jets flying snout first into Morphan. Luckily Morphan managed to dodge Arrows attack. Realizing his attack had failed Arrow growled in annoyance before trying again. Arrow kept trying to hit Morphan with his Missile Attack only to have him dodge each time.

“Time for a new a tactic.” Arrow said to himself. He deactivated his jets and jumped into the air, limbs outstretched.

“Fat Missile Attack” Straight Arrow activated his jets in an attempt to crush his opponent with a jet-propelled body slam.

SLAAAAM

Fortunately Morphan managed to back-flip out of the way. Shortly after he regained his footing Arrow charged forward and attempted to hit Morphan with a barrage of punches. Morphan managed to dodge his punches with some degree of difficulty. After ducking from a powerful right hook Morphan jumped up to hit Arrow in the snot with an uppercut.

SMASH

There was a moment of silence as Morphan landed in a battle ready stance. Arrow stood with his snout raised into the air, his face un-seeable due to their positions.

“HA HA that all you got.” Straight Arrow boasted. “My snout is my pride and joy, even if you had real strength you’d be lucky to dent it.”

In anticipation of his next move Morphan jumped back a distance and got into a battle ready stance.

“Don’t believe me, then see for yourself.” Straight Arrow then activated his jets “Short-Range Missile Attack”

Morphan managed to grab Arrow by the snout and hold him in place. Arrow growled at being outdone. He focused more aura into his jets causing a larger burst of purple energy. Despite the extra ignition Morphan still stood his ground.

“Let go of me, half demon scum!” Arrow yelled furiously.

“As you wish.” Morphan leaned back and let go causing Arrow to fly over him. Due to the extra momentum he built up Arrow couldn’t help crashing into a wall.

CRAAASH

Morphan stood there while he waited for Arrow to pull his snout out of the wall which in the crash had got stuck in a rather comical fashion.

After Arrow got his snout out and turned to face his opponent, Morphan jumped forward and hit him in the chest with a flying sidekick.

SMAASH

The force of the impact not only damaged his chest but smashed him into the wall.

Arrow stood there gasping in pain.

“Your snout may be strong too bad I can’t say the same for the rest of your body.” Morphan stated.

Arrow growled furiously before trying to punch Morphan. He then dodged the attack grabbed Arrow’s arm and threw him judo style. While Arrow was on the ground, he jumped and did a flying elbow slam into his gut. Morphan straddled him and proceeded to punch Arrow in the chest.

POW POW POW

Arrow lay there groaning in pain as Morphan got up and went to a massive nearby boulder. He then lifted it above his head, and moved to his fallen adversary. Realizing what was in store for him, Arrow could do nothing but whimper in terror.

Morphan stood above Arrow with a strong grip on the boulder, his face unreadable as his opponent cowered beneath him.

Morphan then placed the boulder gently onto Arrows chest. As Arrow squirmed under the boulder, Morphan turned around and walked off “That should keep you pinned down for a while” he said.

Arrow looked curiously at the boulder. Although its weight was painful on his bruised chest it wasn’t doing any real damage. “That’s it; you’re just going to leave me like this?” Arrow asked as he apparently struggled to lift the boulder off himself.

“You military demons are known for your tenacity.” Said Morphan as he continued to walk into the distance. “I have no doubt in my mind you’ll be fine.”

“Your going to let me live even after I tried to kill you and your friend?” Arrow asked his voice in his softest tone.

Morphan stopped walking “If I had killed every being in Argus that wronged me, there would be a significant loss to Argus’s population.” Morphan stated his back still facing Arrow.

“But why?”

“It’s nothing complicated I just don’t want to kill.” Morphan stated.

“You know if the shoe was on the other foot, I wouldn’t be so nice to you.” Arrow stated softly.

“Good.” Morphan stated with that he briefly looked back and said “The last thing in the Omniverse I want to do is end up like you.”

There was a moment of silence before Morphan faced forward and started to walk away.

CRAAAASH

A boulder impacted Morphan’s back. The force of the impact shattered the boulder and brought Morphan to his knees.

“Take this!” Arrow rushed forward and kicked Morphan into a corner. “HA HA HA you stupid little freak!” Arrow boasted. “If a weak little half breed like you could lift that pebble then what made you think that a fully fledged demon like me wouldn’t be able to.”

As Morphan tried to get back up Arrow continued to kick Morphan into the corner “You think you’re some kind of hero with your whole I don’t to kill speech,” Arrow mocked. “You think you’re a hero because you helped out your little bus driver friend, BHAK you just don’t understand do you.” Arrow stopped kicking him so he could loom over Morphan “You’re a half breed, that’s all you are and that’s all you ever be. And the only kindness that can be offered to a half breed…” with that Arrow walked  till he found a pointy piece of boulder shrapnel “… is to put them out of their misery.”

Morphan, too sore to stand, could do nothing but lie on the ground, close his eyes and await his fate.

Arrow raised the shrapnel into the air and yelled “SAY GOODBYE!”

HOOOOOOOONK 

Harry drove in seemingly out of nowhere and rammed his bus into Arrow. “Goodbye!” Harry yelled as he rammed Arrow and his bus into a wall.

CRAAAAASH

After the crash Harry rushed out of the bus to help Morphan up. “You okay pal?”

“Ya I’m fine,” said Morphan as he started to rub the sore parts of his body. “Just give me a moment to catch my… wait, wait, wait what are you doing here?”

“I noticed you were in trouble so I rescued you.” Harry stated simply.

“Noticed?” Morphan asked “I thought you left like I asked you too?”

  “I did leave; I went about a mile or two when I had a thought.” Harry explained “I realized it isn’t right to abandon a friend, no matter what the circumstances. Especially if that friend as great a guy as you.”

“Great a guy as me?” Morphan asked.

“You were willing to risk your life for me, I could not call myself a real demon if I let such nobility go unrewarded.”

Morphan was in a state of shock and awe over Harry’s kindness. “I don’t know what to say.” Morphan stuttered.

“A simple thank you would be more than enough.”

Morphan smiled the warmest he had in long time before slowly uttering, “Thank you.” Morphans expression dampened when he saw Harry's precious bus imbedded in the wall. “Sorry about Gale.”.

“Oh don’t worry about it.” Harry scoffed. “Gale’s a tough girl, she’ll pull through no problem.”

Suddenly Straight Arrow pushed the bus away and furiously stomped towards Morphan and Harry. “That is it, I’ve had all I can take from you two.” Straight Arrow snarled “Now the gloves are officially off.”

Morphan struck a wobbly battle-ready pose, only to have Harry step in front of him “You’ve done more than enough, now it’s my turn to fight for you.” said Harry.

“You audacious little prick.” Straight Arrow snarled. “I am a representative of the Argus Empire, you are a bus driver. With my jet powers I am invincible.” For reference he caused some short burst of aura from his jets.

“Hairy Situation” before anyone else could react, the fur on his left arm grew to an incredible length. He then swung it causing the fur to wrap around Arrow like a whip.

“What in the world?”

“Typical military demon arrogance.” Harry stated “You guys think you’re the only ones in Argus who have powers. While as anyone will tell you ALL demons in Argus have powers. Mine is to control the fur all over my body, I can make it as long or as short as I want. I can also control its, texture, density and even hardness.” Arrow struggled to break out of Harry’s makeshift lasso “At the moment I’m using my Aura to make my fur as hard a steel cables, so you’ll never be able to break…”

With a burst of strength Straight Arrow broke Harry’s fur lasso, Straight Arrow then grabbed Harry’s strand of fur and yanked Harry towards him. Harry flew towards Straight Arrows fist, the force of the impact sent Harry flying back to the wall.

CRASH

As a result of the impact Harry slumped down in a daze.

“All right, you’ve wasted enough of my time.” Snarled Straight Arrow “This ends NOW!”

Morphan took a moment to look at his injured friend. “You’re absolutely right,” Morphan stated fiercely as he crossed his arms in an X formation “This will end now.”

With that slim film of blue Aura surrounded Morphan, then his carapaces got thicker and stronger, a second thinner layer of carapaces started to form over his skin, he also grew at least three inches taller and a good deal buffer, some carapaces grew on his head to form a design similar to a knight’s helmet. The final part of his transformation was his eyes, no longer red in the iris but fully red. Morphan’s Aura dissipated once his transformation was complete.

“What in the name of the Doom?” Arrow asked.

“My power is genetic alteration.” Morphan answered “You see as a half demon I have one half human genes one half demon genes. My power is that I can choose which of those genes to be dominant. The form I was in all this time was a form where my human genes and my demon genes were in perfect balance. I call it my half-form.”

Arrow simply nodded to show he more or less understood.

“In this form however,” Morphan gestured to himself, “My demon genes are dominate. I call it my Demon-form.”

Arrow stood confused.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but when we fought earlier I had no intention of winning only to buy time so my friend Harry could get away.” Morphan then struck a battle ready posse “But now that my friend Harry’s life is on the line I have every reason in the Omniverse to win.”

“GRRRR if you think splicing your genes will make you a fully fledged demon you got another thing coming. Allow me to show you the power of a TRUE FULL FLEDGED DEMON!” Straight Arrow then squatted and started charging his Aura. As his Aura got charged his snout started to glow with a burning purple light, when he was doing charging his snout was glowing ominously “You see. I too was holding back, never occurred to me that I’d have to go all out on such a worthless opponent. But you forced my hand.” Straight Arrow pointed proudly to his snout. “You see the reason my snout is so strong is because the Aura in that area is exceptionally strong, it’s like a lightning rod for my Aura. In this state my attack strength is increased two-fold. What do you say about that.”

Morphan clenched his fists before saying “I’m really sick of hearing your voice.”

“Richter…”

“Atomic Missile Attack” with a huge burst of aura, Straight Arrow soared snout first towards Morphan.

“… PUNCH”

SMAAASH

Morphan punched Arrow in the snout. The impact sent Arrow tumbling backwards till he hit the wall; he then slumped to the ground defeated. His beloved snout no longer glowing was now bent in a zigzag formation that was both comical and grotesque.

Morphan stood with his fist outstretched for a moment before relaxing and reverting back to his half-form.

“That was AWSOME!”

Morphan took a startled battle ready pose only to realize that the loud voice was that of his friend Harry Crax, “I thought you were unconscious?” he asked.

“I was.” Harry answered he then took off his cap and tapped his skull. “I’ve taken so many blows to the head that head injuries are no threet to me.” He stated as he put his cap back on.

“Threet?” Morphan asked, he then shook his head with a smile “Well in any case I’m glad you’re okay.” With that Morphan went to pick up his sandals which he took off before the fight.

“Great I’ll get Gale up and running then we’re off to Mirabilis.” With that Harry went to his bus to do said task.

“Yes Harry about that.” Morphan stated with the utmost seriousness, his tone stopped Harry in his tracks “Argus information network is top notch they’ll eventually find out that I took down one of their representatives.”

“Relax; they say anything goes in the Null lands.” Harry stated casually.

“Let me rephrase that.” Morphan continued still serious “They’ll find out that a HALF-DEMON took down one of their representatives. They won’t stand for the idea of a half-breed being powerful, they’ll throw the book at me and by extension YOU for helping me.”

Harry said nothing.

“Knowing this do you still want to help me?” Morphan asked.

“You apparently have trouble hearing.” Harry stated seriously. “I said I’d take you to Mirabilis and I’ll take you there.”

No more words being needed, they two of them hopped into Gale and Harry drove the two of them into the distance.

A few minutes later…

As Arrow lay down unconscious, a mighty desert breeze blew by, the kind of breeze that foretells a powerful storm coming. Morphan’s vest with the symbol of Argus which was forgotten in the excitement was blown away. 

Chapter 3: From the Sky

It was a warm summer day in Labirinth Canyons. The red sun of Argus cast the sky in a blaze of orange; the midday sky was completely cloudless.

“I see skies of blue

And clouds of white”

Harry Crax sang while he worked on the bus engine.

“The bright blessed day”

Meanwhile Morphan stood on top of the bus acting like a sentry.

“The dark sacred night”

“And I think to myself

What a wonderful world!”

“Hey Harry would you mind not singing?” Morphan asked.

“Not a Louis Armstrong fan huh.” Said Harry as he lifted his head out of the engine.

“Well no not particularly but that’s not important.” Morphan stuttered “Besides isn’t that song a remnant from a conquered world?”

“Oh please!” Harry rolled his eyes “pretty much everything Argus owns is plundered goods. Hell the clothes on your back might be from some world Argus took over.”

Morphan took the time to look over the blue vest he was wearing; to his chagrin he noticed the words “Made in China” on the tag. “Look the point is...” before continuing he jumped off the bus and landed next to Harry “... we are on the RUN, as in we don’t want people to find us. Your loud singing might give away our position.”

“Well we might as well give away our position, because we aint going to be in our position much longer.” Said Harry as if it was the smartest thing in the world, he then went back to working on the bus “A little tinkering here and some hinkering there and we are ready to...”

BOOOM

As quickly as it started, the large cloud of smoke disappeared leaving Harry with a shock on his face and black soot covering his fur. He then coughed out some smoke that got in his mouth.

Morphan couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight in spite of the situation. Morphan then reminded himself what that situation was “Just my luck that our bus would break down in the middle of the canyons, Arrow has probably come to by now and won’t take his defeat lying down.”

While Harry was patting the soot out of his fur, Morphan said “Uh Harry maybe we should proceed on foot.”

“NO WAY PAL!” Harry yelled his face now clean of soot “There is no way I’m leaving without Gale.” He stated as he patted his bus affectionately, the bus let out another smaller burst of smoke. Morphan raised an eyebrow at the burst of smoke.

“Look personal feelings aside, it’ll take us weeks to reach the nearest bus stop by foot.” Harry explained “Let’s not forget that Gale can protect us from the elements. She may not be a hotel suite but she IS the closest thing we have to shelter at the moment.”

“(Sigh) you sure you can fix her up?”

Harry’s chest swelled with pride “You worry too much; I assure you Gale has taken far worse punishment then this.” At the moment Morphan found that very hard to believe “Like the perfect womon, Gale always comes through for you.”

Harry started to rub Gale affectionately “Gale has all the qualities of the ideal women, she’s tough, loyal, dependable, hard working and gooooood looking.” Gale let out another burst of smoke “Granted she can be hard to deal with at times, but hey lovers bicker.” With that Harry stroked his bus even more affectionately.

“Ooookay?” Morphan shuffled a little farther from Harry.

“By the way Morphan do you have a special lady in your life?” Harry asked for curiosities sake.

“By lady you mean a girl right, not a vehicle or anything?”

“Whatever you got is fine.” Harry stated as he started to work on the engine.

“No I don’t have a special lady in my life.” said Morphan as he leaned on the bus arms crossed “And just to clarify by lady I mean female.”

“Well that’s very hard to believe.” Said Harry while still working on the engine “You’re young, strong and handsome. Plus chicks dig the “heroic” types. You should be a real Casanova.”

Not used to being held in such high regard Morphan could only roll his eyes good naturally “Well throughout my life I’ve pursued many females, some human, some demon I even tried to pursuing males if you can believe it.”

“I aint judging.” Harry said while waving his arm dismally “So how come you’re still single?”

Morphan pointed at his eyes, the red and white eyes that half demons were known for and said “Why do you think?”

There was an awkward moment of silence.

“Well have you ever tried dating a half-demon?” Harry asked sheepishly.

Morphan rubbed his temples in annoyance “(Sigh) Look it not like we have a secret club or anything, in fact half-demons do everything in their power to hide the fact that are half-demons. I’ve probably walked right past half-demons on the street without knowing what they were, and they me.”

There was another awkward moment of silence.

“Look just hear me out.” Harry said, Morphan perked his head up “You’ve got plenty of life in you and you’re a real prince as far as I’m concerned, all you’ve got to do is lay out your arms...” Harry stretched out his arms for emphasis “... look to the sky...” Harry looked to the sky “... and the girl of the dreams will fall right into them. I’m being metaphorical of course, I don’t literally expect a girl to just fall out of the sky...”

“Please be quiet.”

“I know it’s a bit corny, but come on...”

“I said be QUIET!”

“Now don’t-be-like-that, I’m only trying to help...” before Harry could finish Morphan rushed up to him and grabbed him by the lips.

Before letting go of Harry’s lips, Morphan whispered “I hear something!”

Harry put a hand to his ear “I don’t hear anything.”

“Well I do.” With that Morphan started to scan the area.

“Look no offence but SCIENTIFICULLY speaking half-demons senses aren’t as strong as regular demons, so if I don’t hear anything...”

“Unlike you or half the other demons in Argus, I’ve spent nearly all my years on the run so I’ve more experience when it comes to being tracked.”

Then they both heard the sound of pebbles falling. They both looked around but saw nothing but canyon walls; they kept hearing the sound of movement but every time they looked to the source they found that whatever it was had moved before they could get a good look.

“You think it’s some kind of wild animal?” Harry asked.

“Could be but somehow I don’t think so.” Morphan then took a battle ready stance.

“All right whoever you are!” Harry yelled into the sky “Come out and face us!”

“HIYAAAAAA!”

SMAASH

Before anyone could react a demon fell out of the sky and kicked Harry in the face. Before Harry even hit the ground the demon started to back-flip till it jumped into the air twirling ostentatiously before landing perfectly onto the tip of a sharp boulder.

Morphan moved in front of his now unconscious friend before yelling “Who are you and what do you want?”

“Who am I, I’m glad you asked!” the demon yelled boisterously. She was apparently some sort of cat demon, judging by her tail, ears and claws at the end of her fingers and toes. She had short, thick, shiny golden blonde fur that covered almost all of her body save for her face, midriff and upper arms revealing white skin, she also had long, wild hair of the same color. She was about Morphans height and possessed an athletic, voluptuous build.

“I am the one who strikes like lighting and roars like thunder!” the cat demon continued boisterously “I am the Golden Bandit of Labirinth canyons Neko Maneki! And I’m here to take your valuables.” she then pointed at her latest victims in an ostentatious pose.

“Earlier today I fought a Representative now I have to fight a bandit?” Morphan thought “Then again maybe I can solve this peacefully.”

“HEY did you hear me? I said I’m Neko Maneki, the golden bandit!” She yelled believing herself to be ignored.

Morphan walked into the bus grabbed his sack, walked outside and held it up “Here this is all we have, search it as much as you like you won’t find anything worth stealing.”

Suddenly Neko Maneki rushed up to Morphan till her face was near centimeters from his own. This disturbed Morphan for multiple reasons, for starters the obvious invasion of his personal space, second was how remarkably fast she moved up to him, another thing was the blank expression she stared at him with. Morphan tried to avoid showing her his eyes but it was ultimately useless since she grabbed him by the chin and forced him to look her in the eyes.

It didn’t take long for Morphan to be shocked by her eyes.

“Okay you’re clean.” Neko stated as if nothing happened; while Morphan stood gawking she yanked the bag out of his grasp.

“Uh excuse me?”

“Oh right, I was checking you out.” Neko said as she poured the contents of the bag onto the floor.

“Checking-me-OUT?” Morphan started to blush when he realized what he asked.

“I thought you might be trying to trick me, so I looked you in the eye to measure what kind of person you are.” Neko then took a moment from rummaging through her spoils to look at Morphan and point to her eyes “The eyes are the window to the soul as my mentor taught me.” She then went back to looking through the stuff she took.

Morphan had no idea how to respond to Neko’s behavior but at the moment that had little meaning due to an even more perplexing characteristic of her. “Uh Neko I couldn’t help but notice your eyes.” Morphan said shyly “And well there like mine, does that make you a half-demon?”

“Yeah so what of it?”

If Morphan wasn’t shocked before then he was now. Morphan had met a few half-demons in his life but not one of them ever handled their “linage” so casually. It was as if this girl had no idea of the implications that came with being a half-demon.

“What is with this woman?”

“Oh man what hit me?” Asked Harry as he regained consciousness.

“She hit you.” Morphan stated as he pointed to Neko who was currently inspecting Morphans things to see if any of them had any value. So far all she found was spare cloths and a few knick-knacks.

Harry squinted his eyes to get a look at his assailant.

“Is that female a...?”

“Yup a half-demon.” Morphan answered “I gave her my stuff in an attempt to avoid a fight, if all goes according to plan she’ll realize we have nothing on us and leave.”

“But what if she decides to just take your things anyways?”

Morphan put his hand in his vest pocket “Don’t worry Harry there’s nothing in that bag of any real value to me.” As he said that he felt the photo that was currently in his pocket.

There was a moment of silence as Neko looked meticulously through Morphans things to see if they had any hidden value.

“You knoooow!” Harry said while slyly elbowing Morphan in the gut “Maybe you should go and talk to her.”

Morphan kept switching his gaze from Harry to Neko “Are you serious? Are you actually suggesting that I flirt with a bandit that kicked you in the face and tried to mug us?”

“Hey she’s a half-demon you’re a half-demon. You said so yourself that it hard to come across another one of your kind.” Harry explained “And to be one hundred percent honest... she-is-HOT!”

As Harry said that Neko held up a pair of boxer shorts that were in the pile and then started to sniff them like a hound believing its smell could somehow determine its value. All it did was make her gag.

“Yeah she’s a real catch.” Morphan said sarcastically.

“Okay” Neko quickly shoved all the stuff back into Morphans bag and gave it back to him “Looks like you’ve got nothing to take in that bag.”

“I believe I already told you that.”

“You’d be surprised.” Neko bragged “People can have all sorts of neat stuff on them and not even know it.”

“But now that it’s obvious that is not the case, I trust you’ll leave us in peace?”

“Nope.” She said bluntly “Like I said people can have valuables that they don’t know about.”

“But you just said...”

“I said there was nothing in the BAG!” She corrected “And you can keep the junk in your bag. But your bus on the other hand once fixed up a bit should catch a hefty price.”

Harry shrieked in terror and held his bus “There is no way in hell I’m letting you take Gale!”

“Gale?” Neko asked.

“Yeah he named his bus Gale.” Morphan explained.

“That’s silly.” Neko laughed “Bartholomew is much better name for a bus; anyways you might as well let me have it.”

“Oh I’ll let you have it alright!” With that Harry charged forward and tried to punch Neko, only to have her dodge effortlessly. Harry continued to try and punch Neko but she backed away each time. She quickly found herself cornered against the boulder. “Take this!” Harry threw a punch at Neko only to have her jump and land a good distance away.

“Don’t underestimate me just because you got off guard.” Harry Crax said as he drew his fist away from the indent his fist made on the boulder “Now with Gale on the line there am no way I can lose.” Harry then struck a battle ready pose.

“He he he no matter how many times I hear that it still makes me laugh.” Neko bragged “Well bring it!” her claws elongated, her pupils morphed to become slit-like and she let out a loud hiss showing off her fangs.

“Hairy Situation” Harry elongated the fur on his right arm and swung it at her.

SLICE

Neko Maneki effortlessly cut Harry’s whip with her claws.

“My turn!”

POW

Before Harry could react she rushed up and punched him in the gut.

POWW

She then side-kicked Harry in the head sending him into the air. Before he came down Neko jumped into the air, grabbed him and slammed him head first into the boulder.

POWWW

The impact shattered the boulder and left Harry on the ground unconscious.

“All right now you’ll have to deal with me!” yelled Morphan.

“I thought you wanted to solve this peacefully?” Neko asked.

“That was before you hurt my friend,” Morphan stated as he took a battle ready stance “Besides me and Harry need this bus in order to get out of here.”

“So you’re going to fight to avenge your friend. That’s real admirable.” Said Neko Maneki “Doesn’t really matter I suppose either way that bus will be mine.” Without another word she rushed up and started claw at him

SLASH SLASH SLASH

Morphan could do nothing but block her claws with his forearms. Eventually Neko Maneki jumped up and tried to kick him, only for Morphan to dodge the attack, grab her by the leg, twirl her around and throw her a good distance.

Neko managed to land on her feet and then immediately jumped to pounce.

SMAASH

Morphan managed to intercept her with an upwards punch to the face. The force of the impact sent her tumbling backwards across the dirt.

There was a brief moment of silence before Neko jumped back up and yelled “I can’t believe me you hit me in face!”

“Excuse me?” Morphan asked bluntly.

“Don’t you know a gentlemon never strikes a girl in the face! You should get punished for unnecessary roughness!”

“Unnecessary roughness! This isn’t some sporting event, this is a FIGHT a real live FIGHT!”

“Well haven’t you ever heard of women’s rights and chivalry and all that jazz.”

“For your information chivalry is considered a form of women’s possessionism. It strengthens the belief that women are prizes to be won as well as the belief that they are too weak to fend for themselves.”

“Really? Interesting, where’d you hear that?”

“I think I read an article about that while I was in... WAIT, WAIT, WAIT how the hell did we get on this subject?”Morphan then eyed Neko suspiciously “You played some sort of mind game on me, didn’t you?”

“Uhhhhh yeah, YEAH that’s exactly what I was planning . HA HA!” Neko laughed while shifting her eyes nervously, “Rats I figured this would be one of those fights where my opponent doesn’t take me seriously because I’m a girl. Those kinds of fights always give me an edge. Oh well Ce la vie that just means I’ll have to stop holding back.” Neko thought.

“Again I ask what is with this womon?” Morphan thought as he stared down Neko “Still despite her quirks she is certainly an able fighter. I don’t think she shown her power yet, she is fast but I don’t think fast enough to count as a power? In any case I better stay on my toes.”

The two of them had a stare down as they thought their various thoughts. Then they suddenly rushed to each other to continue the fight.

An hour later...

“Oh man two in a row.” Harry groaned as he got up “And to think my parents told me my thick-headedness was a bad thing. Well jokes on them cause my melon still in one piece.” Harry then got up while rubbing his sore head “Hmm let’s see if I can get a hold of the situation.”

Harry looked around to try and assess the situation “Sun hasn’t moved that much meaning little time has passed, Gale is just as I left her that’s good news, Morphan is laying on his back wheezing that’s good, that’s good, WAIT WHAT?” with that Harry rushed to check up on his friend.

Fortunately Morphan had no serious injuries, just some scratches and bruises “You okay buddy?”

“(Huff) (huff) yeah I’m fine, just really exhausted, that female really took a lot out of Me.” said Morphan.

“But you managed to chase her off right?”

“(Huff) not exactly.” Morphan then gestured behind himself showing the Neko was in a similar state as Morphan, in fact she was so close behind him that Harry was curious as to how he didn’t notice her earlier.

“So it’s a draw?” Harry asked.

“Yeah! She was too fast for me to get any good blows on her and I was too durable for her to do any real damage. We kept going at it till we both got too tired to continue, so yeah it’s a draw.”

“You keep telling yourself that.” Neko bragged “I can still get up and go if I wanted...” she tried to get up but found her body too sore “... I just don’t want to.”

“So what do we do now?” Harry asked “Gale’s still broken down so we can’t leave. Plus we can’t just leave Cat girl on the floor, once she gets second wind she might try to mug us again. If I know Straight Arrow he’ll be here any minute with an army in front of him.”

Morphan thought for a moment “I think I might have an idea, but first Harry I have a question about your power.”

A few minutes later...

“You bastards will never get away with this!” Neko yelled furiously. She tried to get up but found herself unable to properly move.

“There we go, that should keep her out of our hair.” Morphan then made a slight chuckle “Hey I just made a funny.”

Indeed Neko was currently cocooned in a rope made out of Harry’s elongated fur “Ha ha you were right to ask if I could disconnect my fur from my body, which I can. Now, TADAAA instant rope.”

“Yeah, yeah so you can shed at will, big whoop!” yelled Neko as she writhed on the ground trying to break her bonds.

“So how long do you think this will hold her?” Morphan whispered.

“Hard to say, with my Aura seeping through them my fur is a strong as steel cables. But now that my fur has been disconnected from my body it will soon just become regular hair, hopefully by then she’ll run out of energy.”

With that they both looked to Neko to see her bouncing around trying to break the ropes, when that didn’t work she tried to gnaw them with her teeth.

Harry and Morphan decided to keep their comments to themselves “No matter I’ll just fix the engine before she breaks free.”

“I hope it will be that simple.” Morphan stated “I don’t want to have to fight her again.”

“You know I can hear you two!” Neko yelled, she had somehow managed to balance herself on her feet and was currently hoping up and down furiously “These ears of mine aint for show. Now you better untie me and hand over that bus or I’m gonna have to get ugly.”

“You mean you can actually get uglier?” said a voice “And here I was thinking that your human parts couldn’t get any more unsightly.”

Everyone looked around to try and find the source of the voice.

“Frankly I think the “charm” of her demon parts more than makes up for that.” A second voice said perversely.

Eventually everyone located the source of the voices to find two demons standing on top of a cliff on the canyon wall.

Morphan gasped in shock before asking “What in the name of the Doom?”

Neko Maneki growled before snarling “What are you two doing here?”

Harry Crax could only ask “How did they get up their?”

Chapter 4: Wonderland Circus

Standing on top of the cliff were two demons.

The first was a massive walrus like demon standing seven feet tall. His big beer belly and powerful arms made his legs seem thin and lanky in comparison, even more so since he was wearing fancy tight dress pants along with fancy black leather dress shoes. He had thick tusks of the whitest ivory reaching down to his chest.

The second demon was a vulture like demon that barely stood five feet tall. A combination of a large head with a big yellow beak and a small neck caused him to have a bit of hunch. For clothing he wore baggy jeans, a T-shirt, shoes, a white apron and a small white square hat. Like his accomplice he had the Argus demons standard ink black skin with bright red eyes.

“What in the name of the abyss are you two doing here?” Neko yelled as she hopped up and down furiously. An impressive feat considering she was still tied up.

“You know those guys?” Morphan asked.

“Unfortunately yes.” Neko muttered “I’m sad to say that their my comrades. They call themselves…” she gestured to the demon that looked like a walrus “… The Walrus…” she then gestured to the other demon “… and the Carpenter.”

“Always the audacious one aren’t you half-breed.” Said the Carpenter “Putting us and you in the same category.”

“Yeah!” the Walrus snorted “How can you say you’re in our troupe when you don’t even bear our mark.” With that he showed off the tattoo on his left shoulder, the tattoo was that of a red and white playing card with an extravagant hand mirror as its symbol, the most striking feature about the hand mirror was its “W” shaped cross guard. It’s worth noting that the Carpenter had the same logo on the stomach region of his apron.

While a human would not have been able to see the logo from such a distance, with Morphans and Harry’s enhanced eyesight that came from being Argus demons, they were able to see the logo quite well.

“Wait a minute I know that logo!” Harry yelled “I’ve seen it in the papers, that is the mark of the Wonderland Circus, one of the toughest most elite group of bandits in Argus.”

“He he I guess since introductions are out of the way…” the Walrus jumped off the cliff and landed in front of them, the weight of his girth causing the ground to shake considerably.

“Hold on if you think I’m just going to let you take that bus without a fight you’ve got another thing coming.” Morphan yelled.

BOOOOM

Before anyone could react Morphan was blasted by some demonic aura. The Walrus continued to chuckle as his tusks stopped glowing “Awwww did playing with the little kitty cat tucker you out.” The Walrus cooed mockingly, unable to get up Morphan could only glare “You can blame the kitty all you want but truth is it wouldn’t have made any difference if you took me on at full strength or not. I’m just that good.”

“If you’re so good why are you trying to share in the glory of MY conquest?” Neko asked.

“I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood the situation.” Said the Carpenter who jumped onto the bus while no one was watching “We have no intention of sharing the credit with you half-breed, we intend to take ALL the credit.”

Neko was literally hopping mad as she was jumping ten-feet into the air with her face bright red “YOU JERKS CALL YOURSELVES BANDITS! IF YOU WERE REAL BANDITS YOU WOULDN’T BE SUCKING OFF YOUR TEAMMATES SPOILS YOU’D STEAL YOUR OWN TREASURES ALL BY YOUR STINKING SELF!”

“You mean like we’re doing right now!” the Carpenter retorted smugly “If I recall correctly you failed to steal this bus when you lost to that half-demon over there, so technically it was never your spoil.”

Neko unable to think of a proper comeback could only snarl “Fine then I guess I have no choice but to fight you for it, and if you think that me being tied up will give you an advantage then you’re sorely mistaken.”

BOOOOM

The Walrus blasted Neko with some indigo aura. Apparently the Walrus’s power was that he could conduct his aura between his tusks like electricity between the metal points of a taser and then blast things with it.

The blast knocked the wind out of Neko “I don’t see why Jabberwocky keeps her around.” The Walrus grumbled to himself “The only place she’d have any real use would be in bed.” He then chuckled perversely “Well no point in putting it off any longer, time to get out of here.” The Walrus then grabbed the bus, then using his impressive strength managed to lift the bus and position it so he was carrying it on his back.

“Hold it right there tubby!” yelled Harry as he zoomed in front of the Walrus “The only way you’re getting that bus is over my cold dead bod... YEOW!” Suddenly Harry leapt into the air holding his rear in pain; he then started running around in circles yelping in pain.

Eventually he discovered the cause and pulled it out “A Nail?” he asked “But how...” before he could question it further the unassuming nail glowed with a faint green aura before it floated out of his hand and then started to hover near the Carpenter like some sort of bird.

“Oh I get it now!” Said Harry “Your one of those demons that needs to use a weapon as a conduit for their powers. A daemon tallum.”

“That’s daemon telum, you idiot.” The Carpenter replied arrogantly “Though honestly speaking most of us prefer to be called Weapon Demons. Not that, that information will do you any good.” At his psychic command a dozen nails floated out of his pockets and pointed at Harry.

“Well...” Harry elongated the fur on his arm and started to swing it around yelling “I don’t care if you’re a daemon telum, daemon infirmum or even a Damos novas. I am not letting you take my precious bus and that’s final.”

BOOOOM

Harry fell down unconscious after the Walrus blasted him. Morphan and Neko were still on the ground with the wind knocked out of them so they could only glare furiously at the bandits.

“(Sigh) you know I could have taken him.” Said the Carpenter dully as his nails floated back into his pockets.

“You would have killed him.” The Walrus retorted “And you know Jabberwocky likes to leave them alive so they can spread our story. YOU HEAR THAT YOU TWO!” the Walrus yelled to the defeated Morphan and Harry “... YOU HAVE BEEN ROBBED BY THE WONDERLAND CIRCUS! NEVER EVER FORGOT THAT!” the Walrus then carried the bus away into the distance, the ground shaking with every step he took.

Half an hour later...

SLAP SLAP SLAP SLAP

“All right, all right. I’m up, I’m up.” Said Harry groggily, he got up and started to rub his sore cheeks which had recently been smacked.

“See told ya it would work.” Neko bragged.

Morphan simply rolled his eyes.

“What a minute!” Harry got up and started to look around in a panic “Where’s Gale?”

“Don’t you remember those two bandits took her, uh it, the bus, they took the bus.” Morphan stuttered.

“W-well why didn’t you go after them?”

“With my exhaustion from fighting Neko plus the fact that I was BLASTED in the chest!” Morphan made sure to emphasize that last point “I needed time to catch my breath and once I did I had to wait for you to come too.”

“We would have been waiting for hours if I hadn’t slapped some sense into ya.” Neko bragged.

“Oh well thank you I suppose... wait a minute why aren’t you in bonds?” Harry asked as he pointed to Neko who he just noticed was no longer tied up.

“I don’t know, one minute your hair was as tough as steel then next it was just like string. So I forced myself out and now I’m here in all my glory.” Neko explained.

“Clearly my Aura seeped out of my hair while I was unconscious. A w-w-wait that’s not important right now, what are you even doing here?” Harry stuttered.

“That’s what I’d like to know too?” Morphan asked.

“I’m here because I need you two to help me steal that bus back.” Neko exclaimed dramatically.

“I thought those two were your allies?” Morphan asked.

“Look they stole something I was going to steal, attacked me and left me in the dirt. Teammates or not they are going DOWN!”

“What the hell makes you think we are going to help you? If you hadn’t shown up none of this would have happened!” Harry yelled furiously.

“Listen I got a plan that could benefit both of us greatly.”

“I don’t want to hear any plans from some crazy bandit girl. I WANT MY BUS BACK!”

“HEY you want me to beat you up again, cause if you don’t shut up, I bop you on the head.”

“BRING IT ON! YOU HAVE NOT SEEN WHAT HARRY CRAX CAN DO WHEN HE IS FULLY ENRAGED!”

“GUYS LISTEN!” Morphan yelled as he got between them “arguing isn’t going to help any of us so STOP IT.”

Both Harry and Neko huffed indignantly.

Morphan looked to Harry “Harry you have done more for me then anyone has in decades, and for that I promise we’ll get your precious bus back.” Harry smiled at Morphans courage.

Morphan looked to Neko “Forgive me for my brutal honesty Neko, but given your “occupation” I find it hard to trust you. In any case I think we can handle this on our own.”

“Oh really and just HOW do you intend to find your bus without my help, HMMMM?” Neko asked smugly.

“The tracks.” Morphan gestured to the Walrus’s tracks “Carrying such a large amount of weight should leave some deep imprints on the ground, plus with such a weight slowing that oaf down he couldn’t have gotten far.”

“Well clearly you don’t know about the White Rabbit.” Neko replied faux-casually, Morphan raised an eyebrow in curiosity, taking it as a cue to explain she continued “The White Rabbit is a member of Wonderland Circus who pilots a Jubilation airship...”
“A JubJub I thought they stopped making those before even the Recreation Wars?” Harry asked.

“Look I don’t know how he got his hands on that old thing and honestly I don’t think that’s important right now.” Neko stated “Now where was I... oh right... we use the White Rabbits JubJub to carry the real heavy loads to our base. By my calculations those two wannabe bandits have already hitched a ride on the old bird and unless I’m mistaken airships don’t leave tracks in the dirt.”

“So the bus was carried to the base by an airship, no matter.” Morphan stated “We’ll just find the base.”

“Easier said than done, our base is hidden. Unless you know where it is and how to get inside you guys will probably walk right past it.”

Morphan and Harry looked to each other for guidance.

“So you can either trust me and follow my plan or spend the rest of your lives wondering through the canyons. It’s your choice.” Neko Maneki then crossed her arms and smiled arrogantly as she awaited their response.

“(Sigh) what did you have in mind?” Morphan asked reluctantly.

“All right here’s the plan.” Neko then proceeded to doodle in the dirt to illustrate her plan “Step one: First I sneak you two bozos into the base. Step two: we go to the lower levels and find someone named “Mad Hat” he’ll help you get your bus out. Step three: I’ll tell Jabberwocky... that’s not a nickname by the way that’s his real name, don’t know what his parents were thinking... of a possible breakout. Step four: while you two are getting the bus out of the base I’ll get Jabberwocky to a large rock formation. Step five: When you two pass the rock formation on your way out I’ll “ambush” you guys then we fight. If you win you drive off into the distance if I win I take the bus back and show everyone I’m top cat.” Neko then finished doodling in the dirt; she then looked to her two new “accomplices” and asked “Any Questions?”

Morphan and Harry both looked at Neko’s incomprehensible doodles and Harry asked “I have one question about your plan...”
“Just one?” Morphan asked annoyed.

Harry continued unhindered “How do we know that this Jibberjocky or whatever he’s called, won’t take the bus from us once we win it from you.”

“(Sigh) I’m not very liked back at the hideout.” Neko muttered glumly “Jabberwocky would gladly let any kind of treasure slip away if it meant he could punish me for it.”

“So let’s see if I got this straight!” Morphan verified “Your plan is to sneak us into a dangerous bandit infested lair only to end up with a fifty-fifty chance of getting the bus.”

“More like eighty-twenty.” Neko retorted cockily “Besides basic mathematics will tell you that fifty percent is way better than zero.”

“That doesn’t sound right, where did you get those statistics?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know I’m not Galileo.”

“Wasn’t Galileo a human astronomer not a mathematician?”

“Enough!” Morphan yelled “We are here discussing plans to get our bus back not geniuses from other dimensions. Neko since we have no other available options were going to have to go along with your plan.” 

Neko smirked victoriously “I knew you guys would see things my way eventually. Alright no time like the present let’s go Lobster boy.”

“Lobster boy?” Morphan asked insulted by his new nickname.

“Yeah your shell looks kinda like the shell of a lobster hence the name Lobster boy.”

“I already have a name you know.” Morphan scolded.

“I know your Morphan and baldy over there is named Harry, I heard you guys chat to each other while I was preparing to pounce.” Said Neko while she continued to walk forward.

“Baldy.” Harry subconsciously rubbed the bald spot on the top of his head.

“Come on you two, I don’t have all day.” Neko yelled, she then proceeded to move off into the distance.

Morphan and Harry looked to each other before sighing and following her, both of them wondering what they got themselves into.

Another half an hour later...

Morphan, Harry Crax and Neko Maneki followed the deeply imprinted footprints of the Walrus. They then noticed that the tracks stopped abruptly.

“Okay the tracks end here, meaning that those two must have been picked up around here.” Harry pointed out.

“Gee that’s amazing.” Neko said sarcastically “what else have you got captain obvious.”

“I was only trying to help you don’t have to insult me.” Harry retorted.

“Of course I don’t have to insult you, but it’s fun.” Neko then giggled at her own joke.

“Hey Morphan buddy.” Harry yelled “Remember when I suggested you ask this female out?”

Morphan blushed at Harry’s question but nodded none the less.

“Well forget it this bitch is mean.” Harry said.

“Queen!” Neko responded.

“Excuse me?”
“A female dog is a called a bitch and female cat is called a queen.”

“Oh so a male cat is called a king?”

“No their called toms.”

“Huh that-a doesn’t make a lot of sense. You sure that information is right.”

“GUYS!” Morphan yelled “How does this conversation, have any relationship to our current situation.”

Harry and Neko stood silently for a moment before Neko said “Man you’re starting to be a real kill joy Lobster boy.”

“Stop-calling-me-Lobster-boy!” Morphan growled.

“Would you rather I call you Cactus head.”

“Cactus head?” Morphan asked angrily.

“Yeah you know because of your spiky hairdo.”

At Neko’s comment Morphan started to feel the short spikes on his brown hair.

“You know I didn’t notice before but now that I really look at it your hairdo makes you look kinda like one them Japanese super heroes.” Hairy pointed out “Though I suppose it’s not quite as wild as most of their crazy hairstyles.”

“Now that you mention it.” Neko continued “The armor around the top of his head looks kind of like a mask. Is this whole masked spiky haired wannabe hero look natural or do you work on it.”

“GUYS!” Morphan yelled “What does my appearance have to do with getting the bus back.”

Neko put on a serious face “Your right, no more getting distracted by idle chitchat, we’ve got a job to do.” She then looked around “Now where is it... AH HA!” she then rushed up to a stalagmite, she then flipped open the top revealing a hidden switch, which she then pressed. She then stepped back, as she did the stalagmite let out a burst of steam before the top part split open, hidden mechanics popped out and stretched and morphed until the top half of the stalagmite was transformed into a flat, rusted radio device.

“Amazing!” Harry exclaimed “A radio receiver hidden in a rock.”

“Yep we’ve got these things hidden all over the place.” Neko bragged, “You see the base that the Wonderland Circus calls it own, was created during the Recreation wars. After the wars the place was abandoned and centuries later the Circus moved in. Unless I’m mistaken the soldiers who built the place specialized in hit and run tactics, so they made these radio receivers so they could attack the enemy, run away, call for a lift then disappear.”

“That’s very fascinating.” Morphan stated “But also irrelevant. Now do whatever it is you half to do on that machine so we can get on the airship and get this crazy plan of yours done and over with.”

“Geez lighten up Lobster boy. Why are you in such a rush?”

“Yeah Morphan why are you so tense?” Harry asked.

Morphan slapped his forehead in chagrin “The reason I’m so tense is because I defeated and ARGUS REPRESENTATIVE! You remember what that means?”

“Oh right that whole “Argus wont except a half-demon being powerful” speech.”

“WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT?” Neko interrupted “You iced Straight Arrow?”

“I defeated him if that’s what you’re asking?” Morphan answered “And as a member of the Argus military he can report to his superiors about the incident. They may be on their way here now.”

“WOW you defeated Straight Arrow you’re a lot stronger than I thought. Then again he did tend to be more flash then substance.” Neko commented, “In any case you’ve got nothing to worry about Lobster boy. Arrows too much of an egomaniac to ask for help.”

 “How do you know that?” Morphan asked, still tense as before.

 “Arrow and Jabberwocky do business together all the time.” Neko explained “Basically we give him money and he pretends we don’t exist.”

“(HMPH) I always thought the crime rate in this area was so high do to his incompetence, it never occurred to me that he was deliberately looking the other way.” Harry grumbled “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.”

The stereotypical Representative was either fanatically devoted or hopelessly corrupt.

“Anyways you’re giving yourself a little too much credit Lobster boy.” Neko continued “You see those high and mighty generals of the Argus Empire are so concerned with conquering the Omniverse that they don’t care what happens out here in the Null lands. Had something like this happened in a city they might have ordered in the troops but fortunately for all our sakes that’s not the case. So do me and Baldy a favor and RELAX.”

Morphan breathed in and out before saying “Your right getting worked up won’t accomplish anything. For now let’s just focus on the mission at hand.”

Neko smiled triumphantly before turning to the radio receiver “All right how do you work this thing again. Ah now I remember.” She then pressed a large red button causing a huge amount of white noise to come out of the speaker.

“Neko to Rabbit, Neko to Rabbit come in Rabbit.” Neko spoke in the speaker.

“Baaaah what do you want I just got back to the base.” The voice on the other end sounded gruff and obnoxious.

“Neko requesting pick up to the base.” She continued.

“DE-NIED! You can walk to the base for all I care, it’s not like your carrying any heavy loads!” The White Rabbit cackled rudely.

“Could you repeat that?” Neko asked in an unusually quiet voice.

“Oh you see the Walrus and the Carpenter spent the entire trip bragging about how they swiped that bus from under your nose. There probably telling the entire base about it as we speak.” The White Rabbit cackled some more.

Neko stood there in silent rage for a moment before saying “Look I’m going to ask you nicely one more time take me to the base!”

“Are you deaf half-breed I just said NO!” the White Rabbit snarled “You are not carrying any big loads and you are in no way impaired from getting to the base on your own two finely shaped legs so give ONE good reason why I should give you a lift?”

While the White Rabbit waited on the other end, Neko remained silent. Since her back was facing them, neither Morphan or Harry could see her expression, though they could sense by her stiff body that she was mad.

Then she raised her hand into the air and from her palm glowed a ominous yellow light.

One could hear the sound of the White Rabbit thrashing and yelping in pain before he managed to sputter out “Your using THAT? NOW? FOR THIS?”

Neko said nothing but her palm continued to glow.

“ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT YOU WIN!” the rabbit pleaded, victorious Neko deactivated whatever was causing her palm to glow. “Just let me fuel up the JubJub and I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. But if you’re not there when I get there, then I’m leaving GOT IT!”

“Don’t worry I’ll be waiting.” Neko Maneki said in the utmost seriousness. She then turned off the receiver causing it to revert back into a stalagmite.

Everyone stood in silence for a moment.

“Was that a...”

Neko answered Morphan with a simple nod.

“So ummmm, how will the Rabbity-guy find us?” Harry asked.

“Oh that’s easy.” Neko explained with her usual amount of perkiness “You see the location of each of the receivers is in the JubJub’s tracking thingy. The receivers communicate directly with the JubJub and automatically traces the signal. He knew where I was before I even finished talking.” She then clapped her hands gleefully before asking “So what do you guys want to do till he gets here?”

Morphan and Harry stared at each other nervously “I think we should smooth out the detail of your plan.” Morphan suggested “I don’t think we want to mess this up.”

Chapter 5: Up high

Morphan, Harry Crax and Neko Maneki stood around the stalagmite waiting for the JubJub to come and pick them up. Although there was an awkward atmosphere Neko didn’t seem to notice as she continued to hum a happy little tune.

Five minutes had passed in silence since Neko made her call and Morphan and Harry had not managed to go over any details about Neko’s plan. This was due to a disturbing question buzzing in the back of their heads.

Harry unable to bear the awkwardness anymore decided to ask the question “So you and the White Rabbit formed a Blood Oath?”

“Yeah he crashed the JubJub during a sandstorm and since I was flying with him at the time he begged me to take the fall for him.” Neko explained casually “I agreed to take the blame in exchange for one favor in a time of need. He was so desperate to avoid Jabberwocky’s wrath that he was even willing to seal the deal with the blood oath. Lucky for us he did or we wouldn’t be able to put my brilliant plan into action.” She added that last part with an enthusiastic chuckle.

Blood oaths were rarely done in Argus and when they were they were considered matters of the utmost seriousness. To see Neko handle the matter so light-heartedly disturbed Morphan and Harry.

“Are you sure your okay with using it now?” Harry asked “We all know how it works, when a demon makes a deal with a Blood Oath they are bound against their will to do it! Are you sure you really want to give up that kind of hold over someone?”

“Eh I was bound to use it sooner or later.” Neko stated dismissively “Now seemed like a good as time as any. It’s not like I had any idea of what to use him for anyway.”

“I for one am impressed you could pull it off in the first place.” Morphan stated “Although I do not know the specific sciences behind it I do know that a Blood Oath requires extensive skill with Aura Control.”

“Aura Control?” She asked.

“The term used for being able to control ones aura outside of their powers.” Morphan explained confused that she could do it without knowing what it was called.

“Oh yeah that’s what it’s called. I’ve always had such a talent for it that I’ve never really had to think about it?” Neko exclaimed with a laugh.

“Talk about lucky!” Harry exclaimed “Most demons have to train halve their lives to be able to use decent Aura control, but for it to come so easy for you. That must give you a huge advantage over others.”

“Thanks for the compliments Baldy, you’re real easy to impress!” Neko exclaimed “Now on to more pressing matters you said you wanted to go over some details about my plan.”

“For starters how do we find this “Mad Hat” character who’s supposed to help us?” Morphan asked.

“Oh that’s easy.” Neko said in a light-hearted belittling tone, as if he was stupid for not knowing in advance “The Wonderland Circus’s base has this big spiral staircase. Just go down it and it’ll take you right to the bottom of the base. Once there just go straight through till you come across the control room that’s where you’ll find him.” She then proceeded to stare at Morphan “Now that I think about it we’re going to have to find something to cover Lobster-Boys eyes.”

Morphan nodded in agreement while Harry just looked confused “Why do we need to cover his eyes?”

“Because the best way to tell a half-demon apart from regular demons is by their red iris’s.” Neko stretched her eyelids drawing emphasis to her eyes “The Wonderland Circus can barley stomach one half-demon in their ranks, another one would defiantly cause a stir.”

“And I’m guessing this mission requires stealth.” Morphan stated.

“Exactly.” Neko stated “So what do you have a pair of sunglasses or something.”

“Actually I got something even better!” Morphan bragged a little, he then crossed his arms in an X formation; Neko stared in shock as Morphan started to transform into a buffer more armored version. He then opened his now fully red eyes and said “Does this count.” He stated smartly as he pointed to his eyes.

“Uh yeah that’ll do nicely.” Said Neko “So what’s the deal you never told me you were a shape shifter.”

“I’m not; shape shifters are able to take on any form they wish. I on the other hand am limited to three forms; I believe the correct term for my power is...” Morphan was interrupted by Harry rubbing the top of his head looking very closely at it “Wh-what are you doing?” asked a very uncomfortable Morphan.

“I’m wondering where your hair goes when you transform.” Harry explained looking very closely at Morphans head “When you activate your armor does your hair sink into your skull or does your armor go over top of it.”

Annoyed Morphan batted away Harry’s arms “I don’t know, I’ve never cared enough to ask. And even if I did how would you figure something like that out.”

“You could ask a Seer.” Said Neko.

“Excuse me?” Morphan asked.

“You know a Seer, someone who specializes in studying demons powers.”

“I know what a Seer is, look can we move on from my head?” Morphan asked annoyed.

Then they all went quiet as they heard the sound of engines above them, they looked up to find the Jubilation airship (otherwise known as the JubJub) coming towards them. The JubJubs body consisted of a large metal tube with a cockpit at the front and a collection of sputtering thrusters at the back, near the back were wings with large fans in their centers assumedly for steering; the two wings and tubular body gave the JubJub the appearance of a 50 foot mechanical bird. The JubJub was a combination of rusted browns with black metal, with several other pieces of patch work metal used as “bandages” of sorts.

As the JubJub descended hatches opened on the bottom revealing the JubJub’s three “legs” all of which surrounded a large circular hatch at the back. The JubJub then landed, its fans stopped spinning and the thrusters let out a few more pitiful spurts of fire before stopping.

Morphan, Neko and Harry waited for the JubJub to open its door so they could get in.

They waited.

And waited.

And waited?

Suddenly a series of yells could be heard, followed by some stomping then the door was forcefully kicked open by the White Rabbit followed by a series of cusses.

The White Rabbit was a large demon standing 10 feet tall. A combination of a fat body and a small head gave him an eggish shaped body. He had short powerful legs with large rabbit feet and big bulky arms. For clothing he wore a light brown tool vest and an old fashioned pilot hat complete with goggles. His namesake white fur was caked in dust and had splotches of grease here and there.

“Stupid old thing always breaking down.” The White Rabbit complained, once he was done with his colorful series of swearwords he looked down upon Neko “All right the doors are open so get in so I can get back to the... who the hell are those two?”

“These two...” Neko exclaimed as she forcefully grabbed Morphan and Harry by the shoulders “... are two aspiring bandits wishing to join the Wonderland Circus.”

“We are?” Harry asked.

STOMP

“OW, uh yeah, yeah we are. We are the dreaded duo known as uhhhhh... Baldy and Lobster-boy.”

Morphan briefly glared at Harry, but unable to think of better names himself, he quickly decided to go with it.

The White Rabbit glared at them from the doorway above them “The Wonderland Circus is a highly exclusive bandit team, what makes you think these two schmucks are worthy of joining.”

“With all due respect White Rabbit that’s not up to me or you to decide.” Neko retorted “That’s solely up to Jabberwocky to decide.” The White Rabbit continued to inspect the possible “recruits” “They don’t look like anything special to me.”

“Yeah well know what! You no longer have any say in this matter.” Desperate to get the two of them onto the airship she tried to activate her Blood Oath.

Only nothing happened.

“The deal we made with the blood oath was that I’d do one favor for you in exchange for taking the fall for me that one time.” The White Rabbit explained arrogantly “And the favor you asked me of today was that I fly YOU to the base. There was nothing about these two bozos in the agreement.

Aghast by this turn of events, Neko helplessly shifted her gaze from her palm to the White Rabbit.

The White Rabbit then started to saunter back to the cockpit “In any case no skin off my nose. So you three just get in, sit down and shut up.”

Neko, Morphan and Harry all let out a huge sigh of relief “Wait isn’t there supposed to be a stairway thingy or something.”

The White Rabbit rushed back and proceeded to speak in a sarcastic tone “Oh yeah you see there is this amazing button on the ship that causes this magnificent metal plank to “magically” appear underneath the doorway. BUT-ITS-NOT-WORKING!” He yelled that last part at the inanimate controls “So I’m afraid you’re just going to haft-ta jump up.”

“Jump? But the doorway is like twenty feet off the ground.”

“You don’t have to be an athlete to jump twenty feet, Baldy. Any demon that can’t make such a puny jump couldn’t possibly make it in the Wonderland Circus.” The White Rabbit then stood to the side while glaring at Harry, silently daring him to come up.

Harry looked to both Neko and Morphan for guidance; they answered him by gesturing to the doorway. Left with no choice Harry rushed and jumped up to the doorway, although he managed to grab onto it without much difficulty the hard part was lifting his considerable girth. For a while he was halfway up with his legs dangling comically beneath him. With a loud grunt he managed to get himself all the way onto the airship.

“(Huff)(huff) how do you like that Bucky.” Harry exclaimed while lying on the floor.

“Bucky?” The White Rabbit asked, involuntarily showing off his large yellow buck-teeth.

“That’s a good one baldy.” Neko exclaimed as she walked by Harry, obviously she managed to make the jump without any difficulties “Can’t believe I never thought of that myself. I CALL SHOTGUN!”

Soon after Morphan made the jump. The first thing he noticed was the odor, the inside of the JubJub smelled of copper, rust and flatulence. There were no windows save for the ones at the front of the cockpit and combined with the dim lighting on the ceiling made the insides very dark. The split padding on the chairs along the sides were feebly mended with duct tape. At the back of the airship was a large plastic dome on the ceiling which seemed oddly out of place. Underneath the dome was the previously mentioned circular hatch.

While Hairy and Neko sat themselves down, Morphan stared at the accommodations, “Are you sure it’s safe in here?” after he asked that a loose piece of the wall fell down with a loud “clunk”.

“As long as you don’t piss me off then ya its safe.” The White Rabbit then slammed the door shut, the sound of the door locking echoed loudly in the small dark, smelly innards of the JubJub. 

As the White Rabbit took his place at the pilot seat, Morphan sat down next to Harry, which also happened to be across from Neko. Out of boredom Neko stretched herself involuntarily pushing out her sizeable chest... something Morphan tried very hard not to focus on.

After putting on some large headphones the White Rabbit turned on the JubJub and it took off with a lot of noise and shaking.

The JubJub had only just started to go forward when Neko asked “So I trust Jabberwocky is in his chambers like always?”

“No!” the White Rabbit said bluntly eyes still forward “He’s at his monthly meeting with Arrow.”

“Oh right I forgot about that?” Neko said grouchily “Well do you know when he’ll be back.”

“I aint his bloody secretary!” the White Rabbit snarled “He’ll get back when he gets back, now keep quiet back there!” Neko stared at her palm, for a while she considered using the blood oath to punish him for his brutish behavior but then decided against it figuring he wasn’t worth the effort. Plus there was the chance that it would not work.

“Just out of curiosity’s sake what would happen if Arrow doesn’t show up?” Morphan asked, managing to keep his tone indifferent.

“Don’t know, don’t care.” The White Rabbit retorted dismissively “Besides what reason would Arrow have for not showing up?”

“Getting his butt kicked!” Harry said plainly, Morphan then elbowed him in the gut “Not that, that would actually happen I mean come on he’s a Representative, a whole different league then those dime a dozen Maintainers that you find in the cities.” Morphan elbowed him in the gut again “Not that I would know, I mean it’s not like I’ve ever fought a Maintainer or a Representative...” Morphan elbowed him in the gut again this time harder “All right I’m just going to be quiet now.”

“I’d better keep quiet for the rest of the trip, if I’m going to get Harry’s bus back; I need to make sure none of us arouse any suspicions.” Morphan thought “I just hope Harry and Neko think the same.”

“So anyone know any travel games?” Neko asked.

“Are you kidding bus driver prodigy Har... uh Baldy knows every travel game in the world.”

“We’re doomed.” Morphan thought.

Elsewhere...

Jabberwocky awaited Straight Arrow at the usual meeting place atop of a large rock pillar in Labirinth Canyon.

Jabberwocky was a tall broad shouldered reptilian demon standing 7 feet tall, 7’5 if one counted the large bony frill spread atop his head like an Aztec crown. The frill was decorated with various earrings, nose rings; belly button rings any kind of jewelry one could pierce on. The most prominent of these decorations was a large pale blue oval gem glued to his forehead. For clothing he wore a large purple robe of fine silk, held at the front by a large extravagant jeweled brooch portraying the symbol of the Wonderland Circus. The robe covered most of his body save for the lower half of his raptor like legs and tail.

“Where the hell is he?” Jabberwocky asked his rectangular head scrunched up in annoyance “Despite his many faults, Arrow is at least punctual.”

The red sunlight was hard on his gray scaly skin “I’ll give him a few more minutes then I’m out of here.” No sooner then he finished did he see the all too familiar silhouette of Arrow.

At first Jabberwocky was delighted that his accomplice had managed to show up but then he started to notice something strange. Arrow was slower than usual and his flight path was wobblier as opposed to his namesake straightness.

Arrow flew above the pillar before deactivating his jets, causing him to fall and land dramatically in front of Jabberwocky. The first thing Jabberwocky noticed about Arrow was the thick cast around his snout with two holes where the nostrils were for breathing. In addition to the cast he also had bandages wrapped all over his torso, as well as other small bandages here and there.

“You’re late.” Jabberwocky stated sharply.

“Well excuse me!” said a robotic voice; Jabberwocky quickly looked to find the source of the voice was a hi-tech metal collar around Arrows neck. 

“This is some kind of communication do-dad that’s going to talk for as long as I’m wearing this cast.” Arrow explained pointing to the collar “So the bandit lord Jabberwocky wants to know why I was late for his little tea-party.”

“Oh boy here we go.” Jabberwocky stated while rolling his eyes.

If Arrow heard him he didn’t acknowledge, unhindered he started to pace about for his rant “After I got beaten up, I had to fly back to my base so my medics could patch me up. And because of my BROKEN SNOUT I was in so much pain that I had trouble concentrating so my flying was off...”

“Why didn’t you just call the medics to pick you up?” Jabberwocky asked “Isn’t that why Representatives are given on-call medics in the first place?”

“I never thought I’d need Twidledee and Twidledum so I didn’t bring my communicator with me.”

“That was pretty irresponsible of you.” Jabberwocky mocked “Don’t they teach you better at the Remolding?”

“SHUT IT! Now let me finish!” Jabberwocky gestured smugly to let Arrow know he had his attention, Arrow then continued to pace about furiously “So anyway after some time I managed to get back to my base so my medics could fix me up, after that they had the nerve to ask me how I got injured...”

“Aren’t they required by law to do that?”

 “I know the freaking laws, I know they’re supposed to ask and I’m supposed to tell them. But that’s not why I’m pissed, I’m angry because I had to swallow my pride and admit to those morons that I got beaten up so “as protocol dictates” they going to put it in their report and pretty soon the Empire is going to know that I lost to a Half-demon and that puts my job on the line. SOOO the reason I was late to our get together was because I was lying in bed recovering from injuries and lamenting over what could possibly be the worst day of my life.”

Jabberwocky was somewhat amused by hearing Arrow talk, as his collar projected no tone only volume, it was still quite easy to tell his mood by body language and facial expressions. Jabberwocky had to resist chuckling to himself as Arrow stood in front of him calming down from his tantrum, loudly breathing in and out through his nostrils (as his mouth was clamped shut).

“So you lost to a half-demon?” Jabberwocky asked.

Both of them were silent as a breeze blew by them. Arrow then smacked his head “I should have stayed quiet.”

“You never do.” Jabberwocky remarked smugly choosing to ignore the irony of Arrows words “Just to be clear I didn’t really care why you were late, I just wanted to point it out.” Arrow glared at Jabberwocky, he was so angry that his arms were shaking, Jabberwocky was unfazed “In any case your half-demon story intrigues me.”

Arrow looked confused.

“Tell me the half-demon that defeated you was it MY half-demon?”

“You mean the cat-girl with the hourglass figure?” Arrow asked “No this was a MALE half-demon he came here in Harry’s bus.”

“Harry?”

“I’ve told you about him. That dumbass bus driver who comes through here.”

“Ah yes I think I remember you telling me about him.” Jabberwocky continued “anyways what did this half-demon look like, what was his power?”

“Why do you want to know so much about him, he’s just a worthless mutt?”

“A worthless mutt that managed to defeat you.” Arrow angrily cringed at being ridiculed “Your fighting skills are quite impressive even by Representative standards. It is not easy to find non-militant demons who can take you on.”

“Meaning?” Arrow asked irritated.

“Meaning there is a half-demon strong enough to fight you currently running around in the canyon.” Jabberwocky replied “and a creature that powerful will either be a great pain in the ass for me OR a marvelous new addition to my bandit group.”

“I won’t allow it!” Straight Arrow yelled “I want that half-breed to pay for what he did to me. And enslavement, even by YOU is not enough. I want him dead; I don’t care how or by whom but DEAD! So you listen here Jabberwocky if you ever see that half-breed you better kill him on sight or I’ll...”

“You’ll what?” Jabberwocky asked.

There was a moment of silence as Jabberwocky stood tall smirking ominously.

“Now you know you can’t kill me.” Arrow stammered “If I go the Empire will replace me with a new Representative and this one might not corrupt like I am.”

“You speak as though corrupt Representatives are hard to find.” Said Jabberwocky as he moved to his Duchess.

A Duchess Personal Airship (or Pairship) was the latest in Pairships. While most Pairships were designed to carry one passenger alone, the Duchess was larger in order to carry belongings in its trunk. The inside of its bullet shaped body was roomy for comforts sake and its insides were lighted by its glowing hi-tech buttons and dials. The outside consisted of shiny orange metal and black glass covered the top for vision, finally anti-gravity plates covered the bottom and back for thrust and mobility.

Jabberwocky pressed a practically invisible button causing the on the side to slide open. He then reached in grabbed a suitcase, closed the trunk and threw the suitcase so it would land at Arrow’s feet.

“That’s this month’s bribe, so I trust you’ll keep your mouth… shut!” Jabberwocky snickered to himself as Arrow subconsciously felt the cast around his snout.

“Back to the serious issue.” Jabberwocky got inside his Pairship and turned on a high-tech communicator on the dashboard “I’m going to find that half-demon, whether he lives or dies will be up to me not you. SO you can either help me or stay out my way, and I think it’s in both our best interests for you to help me. Who knows you might get lucky, the half-breed may prove to be too much trouble and I’ll have to kill him.”

Arrow stood with the suitcase by his feet, his collar making faint growling sounds.

“Wellllllll?” Jabberwocky asked.

“Morphan.”

“Excuse me.”
“The half-breeds name is Morphan.”

Elsewhere…

The ride seemed like it was taking forever.

Any attempt Harry or Neko made at trying to make the ride more fun was immediately shushed by the White Rabbit. They were left with nothing they were allowed to do except sit down and be quiet.

In an attempt to relieve her boredom Neko got up and started to pace about. It was remarkably easy to move around on the JubJub despite it being in the air.

“Hey cat-slut sit down!” the White Rabbit yelled without turning to look at her.

“OH come ON!” Neko whined “You won’t even let me stretch my legs! Geez what’s your problem BUCKY!”

“My problem is that I’m trying to focus on flying which is twice as hard as trying to drive a land vehicle. Annnnnd…” the White Rabbit pointed to the headphones he was wearing. “I have to listen in for messages as well so sorry if I ask the passengers to sit still for a measly hour or two.”

“Fine!” Neko huffed “You don’t need to blow a blood vessel.” With that she flopped into a chair which ended her up right next to Morphan.

Suddenly there was a loud staticy sound which hurt everyone’s ears except the White Rabbits. 

“AAAH what is that awful sound?” Harry complained.

“Relax stupid the noise means I’m picking up a message.” With that the White Rabbit twisting some knobs till he got the right frequency.

 Morphan, Neko, and Harry heard nothing but inaudible muffles from the headphones but the White Rabbit heard “Attention all members of the Wonderland Circus,” the White Rabbit rolled his eyes at what he thought would be another one of Jabberwocky’s pointless announcements. “Be on the lookout for a half-demon covered in a brown beetle like shell, wearing sweatpants, a vest and sandals. He is likely accompanied by a large demon covered everywhere in thick brown fur save for the top of his head. If you see a fully fledged demon who bears a resemblance to the half-demon by informed that they are likely the same creature.”

With that the White Rabbit subtly turned his gaze over to Baldy and Lobster boy, neither of which was paying any attention to what was happening.

The message finished saying “Although it’s vital that the half-demon be brought to me alive the use of force is not only authorized… its encouraged.”

Chapter 6: View from the sky

“Awwww how much longer do we have to wait?” Harry whined, he then gestured outside the cockpit window “look it’s almost night time.”

“Oh come on it not even evening yet.” Morphan retorted “It’s still the afternoon, granted late afternoon.”

“But it’s been hours!”

“It’s been exactly thirty minutes so please be quiet.”

“How do you know that?” Harry asked; he then had an epiphany “Do you have some kind of Kung-fu time telling technique!”

“Kung-fu time... No it’s nothing like that I’m just really good at telling time.” Morphan then rubbed his temples in chagrin “Look just be quiet before White Rabbit snaps at us again.”

“Strange how he hasn’t done that already!” Neko quipped.

Harry opened his mouth to say something in his defense but unable to think of anything he just crossed his arms and pouted childishly.

“This is ironic behavior for him considering he’s a bus driver.” Neko thought “You’d think he’d be against such behavior.”

Suddenly she noticed that Morphan discreetly leaned against her. It was slow and subtle but she noticed, apparently Harry did too based on his “oooh” facial expression.

Morphan’s out-of-the-blue action caused Neko’s mind to race a mile-a-minute.

“By the abyss is he coming on to me now? NOW? Jeez this guy obviously has no sense in romance. SHEESH I should have known that whole cool-guy act was just an act, well if he thinks I can be won over by cheap one liners he’s got another thing coming. On the other hand from what I’ve seen of him so far he doesn’t seem like a BAD fella; though admitingly a bit of a kill-joy. And let’s face it he’s is... minorly attractive in a rugged sort of way. Then again I haven’t known him long enough to make any real judgments. That’s it I’ve made up my mind I’ll hear him out and then make my choice on how to reject him.”

“You okay Neko?” Morphan whispered.

“What?”

“I said are you OKAY?” Morphan whispered again “You kinda blanked out for a second?”

“Oh I’m fine.” Neko stated, across from her she noticed Harry leaning forward with his ear faced to them obviously trying to listen in on their conversation. Although he tried to be discreet about it he failed miserably.

“So what did you want to talk to me about?” Neko asked.

Morphan shushed her and then gestured to the White Rabbit who was busy driving the airship.

“Oh right him.” She made sure to whisper this time “So again I ask, what did you want to talk to me about?”

“Well I wanted to ask you...”

“Yess?” She leaned in a little more to hear better.

“...If you noticed anything odd?”

Neko leaned back slightly in surprise “That’s what you wanted to ask me?”

“Yeah? Why? What did you think I wanted to say to you?”

“Nothing it’s not important.” Neko felt embarrassed, relieved, and insulted at the same time.

Embarrassed to have jumped to such a ridicules conclusion.

Relieved that he wasn’t going to hit on her.

And insulted that he didn’t want to hit on her.

THUMP

Both Morphan and Neko stared at Harry who was currently on the ground. Apparently when he leaned forward to hear their conversation he leaned forward so much that he lost fell off his chair. With both Morphan and Neko staring he quickly got up and back onto his chair twiddling his thumbs and trying to look innocent.

“Sooooo what specifically did you mean when you said odd?” Neko whispered.

“Well we’ve been in the air for about thirty five minutes.” Morphan continued.

“Yeah?”

“And remember when you called the White Rabbit from that communicator and he said he just got back to the base?”

“Yeah?”

“And then it took him roughly ten minutes to come and pick us up?”

“Ten minutes?” she asked.

“Five minutes of us waiting and another five of us talking... onto my point.” Morphan leaned in closer to her “My point is if it took him ten minutes for him to get from the base to our destination...”

“Why is it taking thirty for him to get back.” Neko stated. Morphan nodded.

“Huh that is weird.” Neko stated “Well I know one way to find out.” With that Neko got up and marched towards the White Rabbit despite Morphans feeble inaudible protests.

“Hey Bucky!” Neko yelled standing tall with her fists on her waist “What the hell is going, we should have been at the base twenty minutes ago?”

The Rabbit said nothing.

“Well, I’m waiting for an answer!” Neko demanded at the top of her voice.

Without turning around the White Rabbit pressed a big button on the controller. Whatever he pressed caused scratchy techno sounds to reverberate across the innards of the JubJub.

“What did you press?” Neko asked.

“I just activated the auto-pilot.”

“...”

“HIYA!”

Quick as a flash the White Rabbit drew a wrench from his tool vest and spun his chair around so he could swing the wrench horizontally. Neko managed to react quick enough to duck under the attack. She then uppercuted the Rabbit in the chin. The force of the blow caused him to fall back onto the controls. Neko then jumped onto his chest grabbed the fur near his neck with one hand and drew her other hand back dramatically.

“I’ve got you now!” She yelled as she extended her claws.

“That’s what you think! Bunny Blast!” suddenly from out of the White Rabbits ears came a large orange glob of sorts. The glob pushed Neko off the White Rabbit and onto the floor.

Harry and Morphan rushed to her aid.

“You okay?” Harry asked.

“I’m fine!” Neko said as she wiped the glob of herself “his earwax doesn’t do any real damaged it’s just really gross.”

“His power is that he shoots earwax from his ears?” Harry asked “Wow what a Lamerz.”

“Don’t call me THAT!” yelled the Rabbit as he threw his wrench at Harry.

CONK

The wrench hit Harry’s head so hard that it ricocheted off him.

“Ow.” Harry said as he rubbed his head “Typical Lamerz response.”

“Don’t speak of Lamerz like their some kind of separate species.” The White Rabbit scolded “It’s not an exact science or anything, the term Lamerz was made up by demons like you so you could bully demons who had powers that you think are “uncool”.” The White Rabbit said the word “uncool” with bitter sarcasm.

“Huh interesting cause historically speaking demons like me were either servants, victims or food.” Harry retorted.

“Enough!” Morphan commanded “Tell me where are you taking us?”

As he spoke the JubJub’s auto-pilot flew the airship to an as-of-yet unknown location.

“Why Hellengaruo.” The White Rabbit chuckled.

“Hellengaruo? Why are you taking us there?” Morphan asked.

“I suppose at the very least you deserve an explanation.” Said the White Rabbit.

“Jabberwocky just broadcasted another one of his speeches which I heard on the JubJub’s radio.”

“If that’s true how come we didn’t hear anything?” Harry asked.

“Maybe because he was wearing HEADPHONES?” Morphan stated.

“Oh right.” Harry said sheepishly.

“MAY I CONTINUE YOU IDIOTS?” The White Rabbit yelled “Anyways in that message he told me to be on the lookout for a half-demon with a brown shell covering him...”
At that remark Morphan stared at his shell.

“... and his furry friend.”

Harry stared at his fur.

Neko who by now had wiped off most of the ear wax covering her fur got up “Any idea what Jabberwocky wants with these two?” she asked.

“Don’t know, don’t care. BUT I’m willing to wager that it may have something to do with these two guys having bounties on their heads.”

“So this JibbleJabble, JubbleJeeby...”

“Jabberwocky.” Morphan corrected.

“Yeah that guy he put bounties on our heads?” Harry asked.

“Yes, no I don’t know, WHY are you asking so many questions?” said the Rabbit “Look Jabberwocky keeps his announcements on a need to know basis, so I all I know is that he wants Baldy and Lobster-boy. And the only reasons I can come up with as to why he wants you all involve you having bounties. That’s why I’m taking you guys to a hunter district on the outskirts of Hellengaruo.”

“Hunter district?” Harry asked.

“A street name given to areas where Bounty hunters bring their catches.” Morphan explained.

“Well, well, well the jokes on you BUCKY!” Harry gloated “Because me and Morphan here don’t have bounties on our head. Right buddy.”

“Well we did recently defeat a Representative, and putting bounties on our heads would be well within his authority.”

The White Rabbit grinned greedily “Wow even a small bounty would be enough to retire on but defeating a Representative, Mon that rewards going to be bigger then I hoped.”

“Taking an awful big gamble huh that’s not like you.” Said Neko “You don’t know for sure whether these two are worth anything and if they’re not then you would have wasted your time, AND if Jabberwocky were to find out that you tried to screw him over, well I’d hate to be in your shoes.”

Neko then put on a cocky smirk and crossed her arms “If you turn this ship around and take me and my lackeys to the base, I promise you Jabberwocky will never find out about this from me. What do you say?”

The White Rabbit chuckled a bit “Don’t you see that’s exactly why I want to leave?” The White Rabbit explained to a confused Neko “Everyone in the Circus is always blackmailing and bribing each other. I’m tired of always having to hide my stuff in a holes so they don’t get stolen, I’m tired of always looking behind my back to make sure that no one is trying to stick a knife in it. And most of all I’m tired of being everyone’s low paying chore-boy.”

“Bandit gangs don’t have to be like that.” Neko said in an unusually quiet voice, she almost sounded sad.

“Oh and what gives you the right to speak of morals to me. You treat me just as badly as everyone else does.” The White Rabbit scolded “No that’s not true you treat me worse than the other cut-throats, at the very least they never forced me into taking a blood oath.”

“Forced YOU!” Neko yelled “If anything you forced ME into taking that oath because you thought it would be the only I wouldn’t rat you out. Well guess what Bucky I would have kept my word WITHOUT the blood oath.”
“You honestly expect me to believe that?” The White Rabbit yelled.

“YES!” Neko Maneki roared.

“Okay, okay. Look let’s talk things over.” Morphan said calmly “I am sure we can come up with an arrangement that suits both of us.”

 “NO! No more talking your heads are what’s going to get me out of the bandit business so I’m bringing them to a hunter district with or without the rest of your bodies.” The White Rabbit then reached into one of the pockets and threw some hi-tech suction darts of sorts.

One dart hit Harry in the forehead.

Morphan reacted fast and held up his forearms to block, all it caused was for the dart to stick to his forearm.

Neko who unlike the previous two knew the White Rabbits tricks was prepared and sliced the dart to bits with her claws.

Morphan stared at the dart sticking to his arm curiously “What the hell are these for?”

“THIS!” The White Rabbit snarled as he slammed a large green button.

The button activated the plastic dome at the back causing it to glow bright green. A beam of energy shot out from the dome and struck Harry in the back, the beam of energy then dragged Harry to the dome where he stuck to it.

The dome then shot out another beam this one aimed at Morphan but he dodged the beam only to have it curve around and strike him causing him to stick to the dome just like Harry did.

“How did the beam curve like that?” Morphan thought as he and Harry struggled to break from the energy restraints, as his head jerked around his gaze went to the dart on his arm “Of course the Darts!” Morphan exclaimed.

The White Rabbit chuckled arrogantly “Very good you figured it out.” The White Rabbit then drew a dart for emphasis “Anything this little do-hickies get stuck to becomes susceptible to the JubJub’s tractor beam.”

“This thing has a tractor beam?” Harry asked.

“Of course how else do you think I got that bus on board in the first place?”

“All right Bucky you’ve had your fun but I’m putting an end to it.” Neko boasted “I need these two for a plan I concocted and I won’t let it be foiled by the likes of you.”

“Oh really?” asked the White Rabbit “And what are you going to do about it?”

“The real question is what are going to do about ME?” She retorted “I know for a fact that I don’t have a bounty on my head so selling me to the hunter district won’t get you anything, so as members of the same bandit group we neither of us have any reason to beat the other up.”

“(HMPH) since when do you need a reason to take out a half-breed?” The White Rabbit then drew out a long pointy screwdriver “If this plan doesn’t work out I’ll at least earn praise for being the one who finally got rid of YOU!”

“Time for you to remember your place!” Neko yelled, she then held out her palm dramatically.

Only nothing happened.

“Forgotten already?” The White Rabbit mocked “The terms for the Blood Oath have already been met, you asked me to pick you up and I did, you no longer have any power over me.”

Neko Maneki glared at the White Rabbit.

“Don’t get mad at me it’s not my fault you made the terms so vague. A smarter demon would have been way more specific. Oh wait your not a demon your just a furry half-breed whore.”

Neko Maneki then struck a battle ready pose.

“So any last words.” The White Rabbit gloated.

“Lamerz!” She yelled.

“GRRRRRRR Bunny Blast” He then shot out a glob of earwax which Neko ducked under after successfully dodging the attack she got back up and made a “bring-it-on” gesture.

The White Rabbit growled in annoyance “Stampeding Bunnies” he then shot out a barrage of smaller globs in a machinegun like fashion. Neko kept deflecting the globs with the back of her fists.

“Now to catch her off guard.” Using his bunny legs the White Rabbit jumped forward hoping to stab Neko with his screwdriver.

When he came close enough she grabbed the Rabbit and using the momentum threw him onto the metal ground judo style.

While he groaned in pain, Neko wasted no time and smashed his face with a falling elbow slam.

POWWW

By the time the Rabbit collected his bearing Neko was already at the controls.

As the Rabbit struggled to get up he realized the position he was in. He was currently on top of the hatch beneath the tractor beam.

Neko raised her hand and aimed for a button.

“No no Wait...”

BEEP

Neko slammed her hand onto the button causing the hatch to open.

The sounds of the Rabbits plummeting screams was quickly swallowed up by the sound of rushing air.

“Wow you got the moves lady.” Harry complimented having to scream due to the loud noise of rushing air.

“Thanks!” Neko yelled back.

“Now can you get us down, please?”

“Sure!” she then pressed the button to deactivate the tractor beam.

This was followed by a loud yelping noise.

She immediately rushed to the source of the yelping noise to find that when she turned off the tractor beam she forgot to close the hatch as a result Morphan was holding on to the ledge with Harry clutching his legs for dear life.

Neko Maneki looked over the edge to find Morphan glaring at her.

“Sorry” she muttered while smiling sheepishly.

A few minutes later...

After a comical struggle to pulling both Morphan and Harry up Neko went to the control panel and closed the hatch.

Morphan and Harry then proceeded to remove the suction darts, which proved to be a more difficult task then they anticipated as the darts were stuck on pretty hard. Harry managed to painfully pull off some hairs along with the dart. After removing them they squished the darts.

Once that was done there was an awkward moment of silence.

“So now what do we do?” Harry asked.

“Don’t worry Baldy, the plan is still on.” Neko answered “I’ll fly this thing!”

“You can fly this thing?” Morphan asked “then why didn’t you just fly it yourself in the first place.”

“Before I didn’t have a reason to...” Neko took a moment to think of a proper word “...dump the White Rabbit. I assumed Bucky would take us there.” She then stared at the hatch “But that aint the case now so sit down and enjoy the ride.”

While Neko walked to the controls and Harry to his seat, she noticed that Morphan was standing by the hatch staring at it. She sighed in annoyance before walking up to him.

“He’s dead isn’t he?” Morphan asked glumly.

Neko put a hand on his shoulder “Yep falling out of an airship at this height should just about do it. One of those mercenaries they ship out for the campaign could have survived but Bucky was nowhere near their level.” Although Neko spoke in a cheerful casual tone Morphan noticed that it lacked her usual amount of bravado.

“You killed him.”

Neko glared at Morphan “Don’t give that. HE was going to kill ME; I acted on impulse and killed HIM, FIRST!” She turned around to walk to the controls “Had I the time to slow down and think things through I MIGHT, MIGHT have let him live. But that’s a luxury we can’t always afford.”

“WE?”

Morphan asked without taking his eyes of the hatch.

“Half-demons like us.”

Neko explained her back still turned to him “Any half-demon will tell you that their lives consist of being hated by both demons and humans. Attacked pretty much everywhere they go. Those that fight back get hated even more those that don’t end up dead. YOUR alive meaning you must have fought back and if that aint enough I can tell from your blows during our fight that you have plenty of battle experience. You honestly expect me to believe that you never killed anyone in those fights?”

Morphan stared at the hatch.

“How dare you!” Harry yelled.

“Were you eavesdropping again?” Neko asked angrily.

“Yes I was, but that’s not important right now.” Harry quickly retorted “What gives you the right to judge him. Why during his fight with Straight Arrow he could have killed that dirt bag but he didn’t because he said.... well I don’t remember the specific words, but he said something along the lines of he never killed anyone before. SO THERE!” Harry look real smug feeling proud of himself for defending his friend’s honor.

“Thank you for your gesture Harry but I’m afraid that you’ve misunderstood.” Harry stared at Morphan curiously “I meant I PREFER not to kill that does not I won’t if I have to... or that I haven’t already.”

There was an awkward moment of silence.

“Baaaah Lighten up!” Neko said as she patted Morphan on the back, albeit more painfully then she intended “So we’ve killed demons is being sad going to bring any of them back?”

Although Morphan accepted the legitimacy of her question he couldn’t help but be insulted by the tone in which it was asked.

“The Omniverse is full of problems but not one of them can be solved by moping around.”

Morphan visibly lightened up at Neko’s remark.

“But we’re not here to solve any of Argus’s problems only our own.” Neko jumped into the pilot seat and turned off the auto-pilot “You two wants your bus back so you can get to where-ever it is you want to go and I want to restore my damaged pride. So Let’s GO!”

Before she flew off she waited for Morphan to take his seat “Hey Neko.”

“Yes?”

“Thanks for your little pep-talk; you’re not as bad as I thought you were.”

“Your right I’m not as bad as you thought I was.” Neko then turned around to grin at him; the grin was an in-between point for mischievous and malicious “I’m way worse! And when the time comes for us to go toe-to-toe you’ll find out just how bad I really am.”

“Bring it on.” Said Morphan.

Chapter 7: Down the Rabbit hole 

Neko Maneki was not a good pilot.

Her poor piloting skills caused the JubJub to swerve and dip and ascended at complete random intervals. There were quite a few times when she would bang into one of the canyons walls only with the sturdy frame of the airship preventing any real damage.

Since there were no seatbelts (save for those on the pilot’s seat) Morphan and Harry tumbled and jumbled a banged all over the insides. Neko ignored their comical bouncing around so that she could focus on flying.

Suddenly she came to a stop so abrupt that it caused Morphan and Harry to fly face first into the cockpit window. They stuck there for a while before they slid off onto the controls then onto the ground.

“We’re here!” Neko yelled full of her usual amount of energy.

Morphan and Harry got up while rubbing the sore parts of their bodies only to look out the window and find...

...nothing, just another canyon wall.

“What in the, where’s the base?” Harry sputtered.

“Right in front of us.” Said Neko as she twisted a certain knob.

“But, but that’s a...”

“Weren’t you paying attention Baldy? It’s a HIDDEN base, whole things built into the wall, wouldn’t be much of a hidden base if you could see it.” Neko continued to turn the knob till the sound of static came out of the radio, with the headphones disconnected a while ago the radio could now be heard by everyone.

“PASSWORD” asked a robotic monotone voice.

“Now let’s see where’s that button?” Neko then looked for unspecified button.

“PASSWORD” the robotic voice asked again.

“Oh be patient you’ll get it.” Neko’s eyes then lit up when she saw a small glowing button “Ah there it is.” She then pressed it activating the communicator on her end she then said into the radio “Cabbages and Kings!”

There was a moment of silence.

“You sure that was the right one?” Harry asked nervously, he had heard all sorts of rumors and news reports about the infamous Wonderland Circus and couldn’t help but fear what may happen to them if the bandit troupe found out about them.

“Give it a minute; this place is old and ill-kept.” Neko explained calmly.

“ACKNOWLEDGED” said the robotic voice.

Under Neko’s control the airship ascended till it was above the canyon. Then the top of the wall opened up revealing a hatch that was so well hidden that it was previously invisible. Neko flew the JubJub till it was right above the hatch “Now for a graceful landing.”

CRAAAAAAASH

She cut the engines too quickly causing the JubJub to fall through the hatch with a loud crash causing a huge explosion of dust and dirt.

“Oopsie!” Neko mutter sheepishly as the dust and dirt floated in the air.

As Neko, Harry and Morphan got out of the JubJub the hatch closed plunging the room into darkness. Then one by one the lights came on each accompanied by a loud dimming sound.

“Welcome to the hanger” Neko said as she landed on the floor of the hanger bay.

As Morphan and Harry landed they looked around.

The JubJub was the only large scale airship, the rest were of the smaller Pairships. Neither Morphan nor Harry were experts on Pairships but they could tell that most of them were very old models. With the exception of a few brand new looking ones.

None of this meant anything to Harry at the moment “Gale, Gale where are you girl.” Harry yelled his voice echoing off the thick metal walls.

SMACK

Neko slapped Harry in the back of the head “Your here for a BUS not a lap dog. You should keep your voice down unless you want the other bandits to hear you.”

“Doubt it.” Morphan said calmly “If the sound of that massive airship slamming into the ground didn’t raise the alarm then I doubt some loud talking will.”

Neko glared at Morphan for lecturing her on what is supposed to be her field of expertise, but realizing he was right dropped the subject.

“So where is Gale?” Harry asked as he nervously rushed around the place looking for his bus.

“If it’s not here it must be in the treasure vault.” Neko explained.

“The treasure vault?”

“Yeah where else do you think bandits put their stolen goods?” Neko asked smugly “And that’s where it will stay until the Circus finds someone to sell it to.”

“You know something just occurred to me?” Morphan stated “Who WOULD want to buy the bus?”

“HEY are saying Gale isn’t worth anything?” Harry asked angrily.

“No I’m just saying I can’t think of anyone who would want buy a bus?”

“Maybe a rival transit company.” Harry smirked thinking he had won the debate.

“Why would a transit company buy from bandits? Don’t they have LEGAL ways of getting Buses?”

“Well I told you before that Argus’s transit business is surprisingly cut-throat. Besides it’s probably cheaper to buy them from bandits.”

“True-that Baldy.” Neko retorted “SO to sum up your Bus will remain in the treasure vault till they find someone to sell it to... or if that doesn’t work they’ll tear it apart for scrap metal.”

“Scrap metal!” Harry visible paled at the thought “GRRR what with these demons don’t they know the true value of a bus is to drive IT?”

“Why would they need a bus to take them where they need to go when they have an airship? And Pairships too?” Neko responded.

Harry opened his mouth to try and retort but unable to think of anything he could only slump in depression. Neko walked up to him and patted him on the shoulder “Hey Baldy you’re lucky that only Military Demons are allowed to have Airships and Pairships else you bus drivers would be out of a job.” Her eyes then focused on something “On the subject of illegal tech.” She then rushed over to what she was focusing on, which happened to be an unidentified object covered in a large dirty tarp.

She pulled off the tarp revealing a large laser gun of sorts suspended on a strong metal tri-pod. The most eye-catching detail about the laser was the two bottles attached on the sides near the handles. On the left side was a blue bottle with a blue liquid in it while on the right side there was a red bottle with a red liquid inside.

“So I bet you two were wondering how they got the bus out of here and into the treasure vault.” Neko asked smugly.

Morphan nodded while Harry shook his head in response, realizing Harry was shaking his head both Morphan and Harry glared at him, “What?” he asked.

“You didn’t wonder how they got a BUS out of here?” Morphan asked skeptically.

“No why?”

“It's just that the only way to get deeper into the base is apparently through that door...” Morphan gestured towards a metal door in the corner “...Over there.”

“Well sorry for not noticing, I was looking for a bus not a door.” Harry shrugged “Doesn’t really matter anyways Neko was about to explain how they did it anyways, isn’t that right Neko.”

“Huh oh right.” Neko cleared her throat “This here is a Shrink-ray!” as a demonstration she flipped a toggle causing the blue bottle to glow “The blue stuff makes things small...” she then flipped the toggle again causing the red bottle to glow “... and the red stuff makes them big again.” She flipped the toggle once again to shut it off “At least I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.”

“So what you’re saying is that they used this shrink-ray to shrink down the Bus so they could carry it and fit it in the vault.” Morphan answered.

“Bingo Lobster-boy.” Neko yelled “At the moment your little bus is an even littler bus. So unless you want a bus the size of a toy car you’ll need this thing.” For emphasis she tapped the shrink-ray loudly.

“I get ya we need to take this thing with us.” Said Harry, with that he went to the Shrink-ray to carry it. He quickly found out however that the device would not budge no matter how hard he struggled.

And oh how he struggled.

Neko chuckled at the sight of Harry’s laughable attempts to move it; she enjoyed it so much that she reframed from telling Harry why he couldn’t move it.

Realizing this Morphan glared at her.

“(Huh) Fine I’ve had my fun. Hey Baldy.”

“What?” Harry barked while in a comical and ineffective lifting position.

“You can’t move thing it’s magnetically locked.”

“Magnetically locked?”

“That means it’s locked into the ground with super powerful magnets or something along those lines.”

“Why the hell would they put magnets in a Shrink-ray?”

Neko shrugged her shoulders “Probably to keep it from getting stolen. Though obviously it didn’t work else it wouldn’t be here in the first place. ANYWAYS the only way to deactivate the lock is with a password that you type in to the keypad.”

“Keypad?” Harry asked.

Harry looked to the Shrink-ray to notice a keypad on the controls, apparently he didn’t notice it earlier when he was busy trying to move it “So could you give me the code?”

“Can’t Baldy don’t know it.” Neko stated “They never trusted me with any of the codes save for the password I just used to get in the base. BUUUUUT my friend Mad-Hat knows the password for the Shrink-ray as well as the password for the treasure vault.”

“SOOOOO...” Neko continued “...after we get the passwords from Mad-Hat, I’ll go and set things up with Jabberwocky while you go to the vault and get your little bus. Once you got it close the vault and come back here to get the Shrink-ray, then you’ll carry the Shrink-ray outside where you’ll use it to un-shrink your bus back to normal size. It’s imperative that you wait until you are outside else you’ll have a Bus in a building with no way off getting it out. Then you drive to the rendezvous point we have our battle. You win you keep the bus and drive off into the sunset, I win I keep the bus and you guys... uh... you guys...”

“What? We what? What happens to me and Harry if you get our bus?” Morphan asked sharply “In case you haven’t figured it out without that bus we’ll essentially be stranded in the canyon miles away from civilization with no food or water.”

“I didn’t think of that actually.” Neko said quietly, she then started to rub the back of her head “Look guys I’m starting to get fond of you two so if you guys find yourself stuck in the canyon I might find some way to help you.”

Morphan glared at her suspiciously before asking “Do you promise?”

Neko glared back “You’d take the word of a bandit?”

“I don’t have much of a choice.” Morphan retorted seriously.

There was a brief moment of intense silence. With Harry shifting his eyes nervously between the two in the background.

“Fine, fine I promise, jeez if looks could kill. Do you want me to cut my hand to seal the deal?” that last part was meant to be sarcastic.

“That won’t be necessary.” Morphan responded “Even if it was I don’t really know how to do a blood oath anyway.”

“If you really want I could show you?” Neko asked without thinking.

Morphan thought carefully for a second “Nah this will do.”

There was another moment of silence between the two of them, time with no specific mood.

“Uhm I have a few questions about your plan?” Harry spoke sheepishly.

“Shoot.” Neko said casually.

“First of all WHERE IS the rendezvous point?”

Neko thought for a moment “I don’t know?”

Morphan and Harry both face-faulted.

“You are making this up as you go along aren’t you?” Morphan asked as he got up.

“That’s how I roll!” Neko grinned widely showing of her canines “Don’t worry about it we’ll find a map or something along the way.”

“Second of all...” Harry continued “... How do you know we won’t take JUST Gale. I mean you’re basically letting us in your vault how do you know we won’t loot the whole thing.”

“Let me answer that with a question of my own.” Neko continued “How would you carry the loot out.”

Morphan stood waiting for her to explain further while Harry put some actual thought into it.

“You guys don’t have any bags or anything; I’ll doubt you’ll be able to stuff anything of real value into those pockets of yours. Plus there’s like a dozen bandits in here in order to steal everything and get it out safely would require a certain amount of cunning and ruthlessness that you two clearly do not posses. In short you guys are completely trustworthy.”

Morphan and Harry were unsure how to respond to that.

“Okay last question, last question and then we get going?” Harry asked “How do we get out of here once we’re done.”

“Do you mean out of the canyon or out of the base.”

“The base.”

“Ah that’s easy just go through the front door.”

“And that would be where?”

“At the front, duh.”

“...”

“...”

“I’ll show you where it is on the way.” Neko finished up.

“Good to know.”

“Well now that, that’s out of the way lets go.” Neko said as she rushed to the door “Follow me I’ll take you to the stairway no problem.”

A few minutes later...

“Ok problem.” When the gang got to the door to the stairway they found a sign on it that said “Sorry out of order” and had a picture of a demon bowing apologetically.

“How can stairs be out of order?” Harry asked, he decided to ignore the sign and try the stair anyways he immediately changed his mind after opening the door “I see that’s how.”

Out of curiosity Neko and Morphan looked in the doorway too “Well we can’t take the stair no more ifs, ands, or buts about it.” Morphan said, the others glumly agreed.

“So now what?” Morphan asked as he and Neko moved back into the hallway.

“Whelp we’ll just have to take the long way.” As Neko spoke Harry carefully shut the door believing that if he didn’t the stairway would get wrecked even more. He then walked away slowly and nervously.

So the gang continued on with Neko in the lead, before getting too far Harry looked back curiously towards the door and asked “What could have caused such wreckage?”

“My guess feuding bandits.” Neko stated casually, Morphan nodded in agreement while Harry looked shocked.

“You mean some of the demons here are capable of that much destruction?” Harry became far more nervous.

“I’d wager it was one of the stronger demons, like Gobbling Crow or those two morons you had the pleasure of meeting today, who knows it might have been Jabberwocky himself. Turn here.”

As they continued to follow Neko they noticed they were now going in a downward slope.

“So you’re telling me it was one of the stronger demons around here that did that to the stairs.” Morphan asked.

“Yeah pretty much.”

“Well that’s a relief.

“Say wha?” said both Neko and Harry.

“Consider the alternative if a WEAK demon was capable of that then imagine what a strong demon could do.”

Harry nervously agreed, and as they descended into the bandit filled lair, following a plan they were improvising along the way he thought “Just what have I gotten myself into? Only for Gale, only for Gale.”

Later...

Neko Maneki the golden bandit of Labirinth was visibly tense as she was standing in front of a large pair of thin metal double doors. The sound of rowdy and rude behavior was only slightly muffled by the doors.

She then turned to Harry and Morphan “Okay this here is the mess hall, there’s no way we can proceed without going through here so no whining. It’s around supper time so most of the bandits should be in here. Now you guys just walk in and try to be inconspicuous. That shouldn’t be too hard for you their probably too busy to notice you.”

“Busy doing what?” Harry asked.

As if on cue a beaten-up drunken demon was thrown out of the room and landed behind them in a rather undignified position “ask a stupid question.” Harry muttered sheepishly.

“I propose we split up, we’ll attract less attention individually then if we’re all together.” Morphan stated bluntly.

“Good idea Lobster-boy.” Neko stated with that she put her hands on the door handles “Whelp no time like the present.” She then opened the door and they went in.

The noise hit Morphan and Harry hard and fast while Neko was who was used to such behavior remained unaffected. The first thing one would notice when entering that there was every size, shape, and color of demon imaginable. There were Damos Mediums as well as the more humanoid Damos Maximus, there were even a few Damos Minimus kept as pets there were also the assortment of demons that weren’t so easy to classify. There were the standard black skinned demons as well as white skinned, red skinned, blue skinned and the occasional odd skinned demon. They were covered in scales, shells, fur, feathers and had tusks, fangs, claws, talons, horns, spikes, tails; some demons would posses all these things and some none of them. The weapons they held were just as diverse; some wielded old fashioned medieval style weapons while others would be considered modern earth culture weapons and some would be quite futuristic and some would deify simpler explanations.

Although the weapons made them understandably nervous, neither Morphan, Harry nor Neko were very much impressed by the diversity, having lived in Argus where such an assortment was considered the norm.

Morphan had the easiest time making it through. Morphan learned the hard way that the best way for someone of his “heritage” to survive was to not draw attention to themselves. As such he was a pro when it came to being inconspicuous, so aside from the occasional brief curious glance from one of the bandits no one seemed to pay much attention to him.

“I guess no one payed attention to... what’s his name... Jabberwocky’s announcement.” Morphan thought “I guess it’s a good thing for me that he is obviously a poor leader.”

Harry on the other hand tried too hard to be inconspicuous, he waltzed about in what was supposed to be “casual” walk but only ended up making himself look silly. In addition to the fact that he was whistling loudly and avoiding eye-contact with everyone made for quite a skeptical. Thankfully the bandits were so engrossed with their own activities that they didn’t pay Harry any mind.

As Neko stated it was around supper time so naturally Harry was getting a little hungry, so noticing a loaf of bread in a basket on one of the tables he snatched it while the nearby bandits weren’t looking and started munching it.

“YOU STOLE MY BREAD YOU SCUMBAG!”

Harry froze.

“I didn’t steal nothing stupid!” the accused bandits retorted.

With the rest of his body frozen by shock he turned his head around to notice to demons arguing over whether one of them stole the others bread or not. The argument quickly degraded into a brawl with the two of them falling off the table to beat each other. The sound of their scuffle being drowned out by the rest of the noise in the room.

Before moving on Harry quickly wolf down the bread and hastily wiped away the crumbs that got into his fur. Once he was certain the evidence was gone he left as quickly as possible.

Neko walked right through the center of the room since it was the fastest way to get across. As she did the other bandits started to notice her and started to make a combination of hateful insults and lewd comments. Some of the demons would glare at her then look away and try to pretend she wasn’t there others would whistle and cat-call as she walked by.

All of this just rolled off Neko’s shoulders like it was nothing.

“Mon that girl is tough!” Harry thought “All that abuse isn’t causing her to so much as flinch.” Harry then got depressed “She’s probably used to it by now.” With some minor difficulty Harry managed to spot Morphan “I wonder if he could handle that much abuse as well as she can? Bah all this negativity isn’t helping thanks to my super-sleuthing we are almost at the door. As long as we don’t get a bad break we should be okay.”

SMACK

POW

The whole room got quiet.

One of the bandits a particularly large and macho looking demon had the audacity to slap Neko on the rear. Neko responded with an uppercut to the chin.

The demon groaned in pain for a moment before falling onto the table unconscious.

Some of the demon glared at her and started to draw their weapons; others smirked as they drew their weapons anxious for a chance to kill the half-breed.

“What! You think this is enough of an excuse to put me down?” Neko asked sarcastically “You really think HES worth the effort?” Neko pointed at the demon she recently knocked out.

Everyone’s gaze turned to the demon that was still unconscious on the table, another demon in the commotion attempted to put the unconscious demons hand in a glass of water for mischief’s sake. When he realized that everyone was looking at him he smiled nervously and sulked away.

When that was over Neko jumped onto a chair and started yelling “Fine then, bring it!” Everyone remained where they stood or sat “come on, what are you waiting for, surly one of you got the guts to take me on.”

All the bandits looked to each other nervously waiting for one of them to step up.

“Once again you’ve managed to overstep your boundaries...” everyone in the dining hall turned to a dark corner of the room where a single demon dined alone, the next part he spoke with an arrogant giggle “...Golden Bandit.”

He reached for his bandana and wrapped it around his mouth before he stood up and stepped into the light to reveal his form. He was around 7 feet tall, with a slight hunch on his back, the hunch was made even more prominent with the puffy gray feathers covering the upper part of his body. Another set of puffy black feathers covered his legs like a pair of pants; they covered them all the way to his knees revealing his bird like feet. His whole body was colored black, from his black skin to his black feathers to his black claws. For clothing he wore a bandit mask covering his mouth, the bandana was blood red and had the Wonderland Circus logo on the front. In addition to the mask he also wore a Chinese straw hat enshrouding the upper part of his head. He also wore a belt of thick brown leather with a holster on each hip containing a hi-tech pistols as well as a harness of a similar material to carry a hi-tech shotgun on his back.

With a quick flutter of his big black wings he managed to close the distance till he was standing on top of a table looking down on her.

“Neko Maneki.” The demon said mockingly.

“Gobbling Crow!” Neko spat.

Chapter 8: Worthless

The entire dining hall waited anxiously for the outcome of Neko Maneki and Gobbling Crows confrontation.

For the moment all was quiet as Neko merely glared at Gobbling Crow hatefully, while Gobbling Crow loomed over Neko with a look of smugness and arrogant disdain.

Although Morphan looked as impassive as usual on the outside, inside he was frantically weighing his options.

On one hand he was close enough to the door that he could just sneak out and leave before things got out of hand, but that would mean abandoning Harry and Neko, he couldn’t abandon Neko because he still needed her to help him find the bus and get out plus he couldn’t abandon Harry especially after Harry already risked so much.

On the other hand he could help Neko out of her predicament. But that would probably just antagonize the bandits and put both him and Neko into previously avoidable danger. Besides Neko didn’t seem like the type to ask for help anyway.

He could also do nothing but there was no way of knowing how things would go. They could escalate completely beyond his control and end up putting Harry, Neko and himself into even greater danger.

Before he could figure out what to do Gobbling Crow started to speak “Well go on take your best shot half-breed.”

Neko only scowled.

“What’s the matter, where are your boasts now?” Gobbling Crow asked mockingly.

Neko continued to glare at Gobbling Crow, with her fists clenched tightly.

“Tell you what I’ll let you have the first blow.” He then protruded his cheek for emphasis “Go ahead hit me, come on I dare ya.”

By now Neko’s arm was shaking with rage and her teeth were visibly grating. Neko started to shake in rage so much that it looked like she would lose it at any moment while Gobbling Crow stood on the table with his cheek out silently edging her on moving ever closer to. And then just when it seemed like she was about to explode with anger...

... She turned around and started to walk away.

While the rest of the bandits where either confused or disappointed, Gobbling Crow smirked as if he knowing in advance that was going to happen. He then started to clap slowly and sarcastically.

“Smart move, very smart move.” Gobbling Crow cooed “walking away will just make this whole little incident disappear. A dumber creature would try to fight me, and that would lead to you getting kicked out of the trope.”

Neko then stood still.

“I mean lets all look at the facts half-breed, these ladies and gentlemon don’t need much motivation to kick you out. And you can’t really afford to get kicked out of here. Now can you.”

Neko said nothing; head dipped low, her upper bangs shadowing her eyes.

“You’ve got no family, no friends, and no home. You lose this place and you’ve got nowhere to go and no one to take care of you.”

Neko said nothing.

“By the abyss even other half-breeds wouldn’t take you in.” Gobbling Crow chuckled. Some of the other bandits even started to chuckle with him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Harry blurted out. Instantly everyone’s gaze turned to Harry, who could only stand there in the metaphorical “spotlight”.

“Just asking.” Harry squeaked sheepishly.

“Well since you asked.” Gobbling Crow stepped down from the table behind Neko “As well as being a Damos Cross she is also a Damos Infirmum.”

“Damos Infirmum! You mean she’s a demon born without powers!” Harry was shocked by that news, while most of the other demons where pleased to be reminded of that fact.

Neko bared her fangs furiously.

The Gobbling Crow continued his demeaning speech “Neko is what you would call a Damos Infirmum Cross. No, no scratch that calling her that would be an insult to demons all over the Omniverse. An appropriate definition would be an Infirmum Cross.”  Gobbling Crow then started to chuckle. “You’re a minority among minorities.” He then started to laugh at what he thought was a truly hilarious joke.

Almost instantly all the other bandits started to laugh as well.

Thankfully they were so busy laughing that they didn’t notice that neither Harry nor Morphan were laughing with them. Harry was confused and heartbroken to see how anyone could find this sort of thing funny. And Morphan stood stone faced, straight back, rigid body and shaking fists.

“You’re an outcast among outcasts!” yelled a laughing demon.

“A misfit among misfits!” yelled another.

“A FREAK among FREAKS!” another yelled particularly loudly. The whole trope then exploded into even louder laughter, with Neko remaining completely impassive.

“Your right.” She said, the entire troupe started to quiet down “I am a Damos Infirmum Cross; a half-demon born without powers, being a regular Damos Infirmum is enough of a handicap but to be a half-demon with only half the in-born combat prowess of a regular demon is a truly terrible handicap.”

Gobbling Crow and the rest of the bandits stood there on the verge of laughter.

“And yet...” as Neko yelled that the entire room got quiet “... even with this terrible handicap...” she turned around and glared mischievously at Gobbling Crow right in the eye before stating “... I am still the best bandit here!”

Gobbling Crow let out a bestial growl before jumping back, and then he drew his energy pistols and let loose a volley of purple energy blasts.

Neko dodged them before she managed to grab a metal tray and use it to deflect the projectiles.

While this was going on Morphan, Harry and the rest of the bandits all ducked to avoid the projectiles.

Gobbling Crow continued to try and shoot Neko and Neko continued to deflect them with the remarkably sturdy tray.

Realizing shooting her with his pistols wasn’t working he snarled loudly before holstering them. He then decided to go for more firepower and reached for his energy shotgun.

Before he could fully draw it however, Neko Maneki threw the tray like a discus right at Crows face.

POWWWW

As Crow was left dazed by the blow, Neko Maneki jumped and kicked him the chest.

After Crow was knocked to the ground, Neko Maneki jumped onto his chest grabbed him by the scruff of his neck with one hand and drew her claws threateningly with the other.

As everyone in the room peaked out from their tables they then loomed forward anxious to see what would happen. Neko Maneki let go of Crow stood up and asked “How does it feel to have lost to an Infirmum Cross... again!”

As if on cue the entire bandit troupe pointed and laughed at Crows “humiliating” situation.

Neko Maneki stood up and started to saunter over to the door. After a series of jumbling and angry grunts Crow managed to get up “Mark my word half-breed, you’ll pay for this, PAY I tell you.”

He then flew out the other door in a huff.

Immediately sensing that the action was done with, the rest of the bandit troupe went about their respective businesses. Harry and Morphan meanwhile used the quieter atmosphere to make their escape.

Once outside the dining hall Harry yelled “Way to go Neko!” he then held his hand up in a “high-five”, Neko enthusiastically high-fived Harry back.

“I wouldn’t celebrate too loudly if I were you.” Morphan said “I suggest we move forward, Neko if you would kindly lead the way.”

“Alright alright follow me... killjoy.” With that Neko moved forward with Harry and Morphan following her.

For a while they walked in silence till they came across a fork in the pathway “Okay the path to the left will take us down further into the base, while the path to the right leads to the vault, remember it because if you bozos forget you’re screwed.”

“I don’t see any guards.” Morphan pointed out.

“The password to open the vault is only given to select few, and besides most of the bandits focus on stealing the lesser treasures from each other. SO according to Jabberwocky there’s no need for a guard. Never-mind what I say, sometimes I think the reason he refuses to put a guard there is because I suggested we put one there, (humph) idiot.”

“You know if everyone is so mean to you why don’t you just leave.” Harry asked.

“Didn’t you listen to what Gobbling Crow said in the mess hall? I’ve got nowhere else to go! As much as I don’t like it here this place is all I got.”

There was an awkward moment of silence, and then suddenly Harry snapped his fingers “I know you could come with us.”

“Excuse me?” Neko and Morphan asked.

Much to Morphans discomfort Harry grabbed him tightly by the shoulders “You see Morphan here was chased out of Hellengaruo for being a half-demon so he is on his way to Mirabilis to start a new life...” Harry then grabbed Neko by the shoulders and held the two of them really close to himself “...So Neko should come with us to Mirabilis, and then you and Morphan can start a new life together.”

Morphan and Neko both shifted their gaze from Harry to each other with the word “together” echoing in their heads.

“I mean let’s face it if you half-demons don’t look out for each other then who will?”

Neko then forced her way out of Harry’s grip “Listen Harry that was kind of you to suggest that but as I said this place is my home.” She then focused her gaze on Morphan who had also forced his way out of Harry’s grip “So Lobster boy you plan to go to Mirabilis, huh?”

Morphan nodded in approval.

“You think Mirabilis is some sort of Utopia?”

Morphan went rigid.

“You think they are no half-haters in Mirabilis?”

Morphan said nothing.

“You honestly believe that life will be better in Mirabilis?”

 “I have to believe that.” Morphan stated “I have to believe that somewhere there is a place I’ll fit in and that someday I will find it. Because if I don’t then there no point in living now is there.”

Neko was taken aback by Morphans statement, try as she might she couldn’t help but acknowledge the truth in his words.

“Look we’ve wasted enough time here let’s just get going.” With that Neko marched down the hall to the left.

“I thought our destination was to the right?” Morphan asked.

Neko tensed up “UH right I was testing you, yes testing you.” She then went down the left path.

Elsewhere...

Jabberwocky landed his Pairship the Duchess into the bases hangar. He had only just gotten out when Gobbling Crow came flying in a tizzy.

“Boss, Boss, I’ve been ATTACKED!” Crow yelled.

Jabberwocky simply stood there with a “please don’t bother me” smile on his face.

“By the half-breed!” Crow continued.

Jabberwocky remained unfazed. Unhindered he continued to walk forward “This is a bandit base not a pre-school if you lose a fight that’s your own problem.”

“But the last time the half-breed assaulted someone you disciplined her harshly.”

“Apples and Oranges, the demon that tried to rape her was killed before he could perform a very important mission. Your still alive aren’t you and at the very least in good enough condition to work. And that’s all I honestly care about.”

“I was attacked unprovoked and without purpose I demand the half-breed be PUNISHED!”

Jabberwocky stopped walking near the door, “You demand?” he asked with his back turned. Suddenly the spikes at the end of his frill disconnected and started to slither into the air via wire-like trendels of flesh. The spikes then flew over to Crow and stabbed him in various places.

ZAAAAAAP

“I am the leader of the Wonderland Circus, I make the demands and if anyone says otherwise then it’s off with their heads.” Jabberwocky said in a sinisterly calm voice as he continued to zap Crow with his Aura. The zapping caused Crow to buckle and fall down in pain. Once he was down Jabberwocky disconnected his spikes and they reconnected to his frill.

“Why?” Crow whispered on the floor, too injured to get up he could only growl on the floor “why do you keep her around, she’s a half-breed and what’s more she is an Infirmum.”

“What’s wrong with being an Infirmum?” Jabberwocky asked “after all you’re an Infirmum.”

Crow glared at Jabberwocky in utter shock.

“That’s right, I know, everyone knows.” Then he activated one of his spikes causing to slither in front of him with his power he caused some static-like yellow Aura to crackle around the spike “fascinating substance Aura, it can burn, freeze, cut, zap, pulverize or disintegrate. Heck it can do all those things at once if a demon is born with the right power. I have even seen demons that can use their Aura to defy the laws a nature and science.”

 Jabberwocky retracted his spike so he could look at Crow who was still on the ground “Demons who can harness their Aura through guns and fire them off instead of bullets is certainly nothing un-heard of.” He then smirked arrogantly “I don’t know what powers those frog-blasters off yours but I know it’s not your Aura.”

“Frog-blasters?” Out of curiosity Crow took out on his pistols, he noticed for the first time that the green oval shape of the pistol combined with the bulging purple eye-like lights on at the front did make it look like a frog. He scowled in humiliation over not noticing that himself “So what if I use stolen guns instead powers who cares? You still haven’t told me why you insist on keeping the half-breed around.”

Jabberwocky stared at Crow for a moment before sighing loudly “Seeing as how you’re not going to let this drop, I might as well tell you the truth.”

Crow craned his ear to hear better.

“You see Neko Maneki used to be an apprentice to the legendary Bandit Siberian Jesus.”

“Siberian Jesus, you mean the leader of the Cat’s Meow Gang, the Robin Hood of Argus, that Siberian Jesus”

Jabberwocky chuckled to himself “Robin hood of Argus that’s a new one.” He then composed himself “As you’ve probably heard Siberian Jesus was among the few bandits that the Empire feared. Not just for his legendary skills in banditry but because he inspired others demons to secede from the empire. And that half-breed Infirmum contains all the secret techniques of that legendary bandit. Those secret make her more valuable than any pure-blooded fully powered demon. That is why I keep her around to learn those secrets so I can become a bandit as awed and feared as he was.”

“Are you sure you WANT to be a legendary bandit?” Crow asked as he got up, by now he had recovered from the pain of Jabberwocky’s shocking spikes “I mean considering what Argus DID to Siberian Jesus once they finally caught him?”

“A talented bandit he may have been, Siberian Jesus was also a naive idealist. I will not have the same weakness he had. With his apprentice at my disposal I will rule the Null Lands like a king.” Jabberwocky then headed out the door “Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll be in my quarters.”

Soon Jabberwocky was out of sight and Crow was still in the room, tight fisted.

Elsewhere...

“OK here’s the way out!” Neko stated gesturing to what looked like a large metal double door.

Neko, Morphan and Harry had just come down some stairs into a large room that not only contained the metal double door at the end, but what looked like a giant closet to the left and to the right was a dark stairway leading deeper into the base. At the back of the room was the other end of the big spiral staircase they originally planned on taking before they discovered it was broke.

“Where does this door come out exactly?” Harry asked “I didn’t see any doorways on that wall when we got here.”

“This is a hidden base...”

“Right, right I forgot about that. I suppose a metal doorway in the middle of a stone wall in a desert canyon would look somewhat suspicious.” Harry then started to chuckle to himself “Even the Argus military wouldn’t be dum enough not to notice something like that.”

“I wouldn’t underestimate the military if I were you.” Morphan said warningly “Need I remind you that they have already conquered an uncountable amount of worlds.”

“Yeah they are great at conquering.” Neko stated “however that’s the only thing they seem to be good at. I mean maybe if they spent more time running the Empire and less time conquering alien planets Argus might be in better conditions.”

Harry rolled his eyes “It funny you know, a hundred years ago nobody believed in alternate dimensions, now everyone acts like they couldn’t have survived without them.”

“And now the F-Troop is around to really make those military demons work for it.” Neko stated “Honestly the war between Argus and the F-Troop has only being happening for like a decade and everyone in Argus acts like it has been going on forever.”

“I’m surprised to hear you say that Neko.”

“What do you mean by that Harry?”

“I mean ten years is nothing for a regular demon but for a half-demon...” Harry immediately shut himself up.

“What do you mean by for a half-demon?” Neko asked irritably.

Harry stood sweating furiously trying to think of a proper answer.

“What Harry meant...” Morphan intervened “...was that half-demons don’t live as long as regular demons. It’s a biological fact not a racial stereotype.”

Neko glared at Harry for a while before, dropping the subject “anyways over there you’ll see the supply closet. In there you’ll find bags, rations and maps.”

Morphan and Harry looked to the supply closet “Is it really a good idea putting a supply closet so close to the exit, I mean someone could just come in through the front door and take them?”

“I know what you’re saying Lobster-boy.” Neko griped “I suggested putting it somewhere out of the way so that someone would have to find it before they could steal from it. But Jabberwocky preferred his idea saying that it would be more convenient for the workers if they could pick it up as they left. I don’t get that guy, Jabberwocky says he wants me around to reveal my secrets of banditry to him but every time I offer advice he ignores it. What’s up with that?”

Neko then took a moment to rub her temples “(sigh) All-right anyways I’ll head into the supply closet and get a map for you guys you two stay here and try to stay out of trouble. OK.” Neko then left to do just that.

Morphan and Harry stood outside waiting while the sound of Neko furiously rummaging could be heard. The two of them got even quieter when they heard a series of profanities relating to her dropping something on her toes.

Morphan then heard something and looked around to investigate; he then found a small loaf of half-eaten bread on the ground. He went to pick it as he held it wondering how it got down here when he noticed something else in the adjacent stairway.

Suddenly lumbering down the hallway was one of the bandits. Morphan recognized him as the bandit that slapped Neko on the rear; he had a bruised chin to prove it.

“AH-HA!” he yelled as he pointed at Morphan.

Harry took on a battle ready pose only for Morphan to raise his arm to stop him “Listen Harry.” He whispered as the big demon marched up to him “No matter what happens don’t do or say anything.”

Before Harry could question him, the bandit was upon them. He was roughly 8 feet tall, covered head to toe in muscular red flesh. The only clothing he wore was a kilt (one can only hope he was wearing undergarments). His weapon was medieval knobbed club called a Kanabo. He had two natural bumps on his head with small curved horns coming out of them.

Basically he looked like the red ogres from Japanese mythology.

“Did you steal my bread?” the demon asked furiously while holding his Kanabo in a threatening manner.

Morphan stared at the bread in his hand before saying “Yes!”

Before Harry could react, the red demon swung his Kanabo into the side of Morphans face.

SMAAASH

The impact sent Morphan to the wall where the red demon continued to pound Morphan with his Kanabo.

Harry kept his promise not to interfere even though he had no idea why.

Eventually the red demon stopped hitting Morphan with his Kanabo and instead proceeded to kick him. The red demon then got tired while Morphan slumped onto the floor numb from pain.

The red demon then walked over to the loaf of bread which Morphan dropped when he was getting beaten up “You want my bread go ahead and have it.” He then stomped the bread till it was flat and slid the dirty loaf towards a numb Morphan.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” Harry yelled.

“Who am I, I’m the bloody King of Hearts. Dubbed so because of my handsome heart shaped head” yelled the red demon proudly “surely you’ve heard of me.”

Harry watched nervously as the King of Hearts tapped his big, heavy, metal Kanabo on his shoulder “UHHH yes.” Harry lied sheepishly.

“Good fatty.” The King of Hearts then kicked Harry in the gut. While Harry was keeling over, the King of Hearts sauntered back up the stairs laughing all the way.

When he was gone Harry rushed up to Morphan and asked “What the hell was that about?”

Morphan didn’t answer bur simply picked up the dirty, squished piece of bread.

“Why did you let that bastard walk all over, we both know you could have taken him down no problem.”

Morphan then proceeded to pick and brush off the pieces of dirt from the bread.

“Come on pal give me a bloody answer!”

Morphan then stood up and walked towards the stairway leading downward “Come on its safe now you can come out.”

Coming out of the shadows so quietly that it appeared almost mystically was a small human boy. They could tell he was human because of his nose (as opposed to the reptile like slits that most demons had) and his ears (as opposed to the reptile like holes that most demons had). The human whore an oversized, brown work jacket that covered most of his body, he may have been white skinned but it was hard to tell with the amount of grim and filth covering him, he also had short fuzzy brown hair and big blue puppy-dog eyes.

“A human? Here?” Harry asked still confused.

Morphan got onto his knee and held the bread in front of the child “Go on take it.”

The boy stared at the bread “I promise, I’m not going to hurt you.” Morphan said.

With an almost rodent like nervousness, the boy slowly reached for the bread and then stuffed it into his shirt; in the brief time it took him to stuff the bread into his shirt a whole lot of bread could be seen.

“I don’t get it what’s a human doing here?” Harry asked.

“He’s a slave, stupid.”

Morphan and Harry looked behind themselves to see who was talking.

Chapter 9: The Rose Garden

Whereas Morphan understood instantly, Harry took a moment to process what Neko just said.

“This kid is a slave.”

“I’m sorry to say he is.” Neko stated as she walked up to the little boy.

POW

She then punched the slave boy on the top of his head; he rubbed his head in pain for a moment before Neko started to yell “Hedgehog, how many times do I have to tell you not to go about stealing? Honestly one of these days I’m not going to be around to protect you and then where will you be?” After the slave boy was done rubbing his head he looked up at Neko and gave her a big pair of bambi eyes “Don’t give me that look Hedgehog, you know what the other demons would do to you if they caught you stealing from them.”

Hedgehog started to rub his arms recalling old wounds.

“Can, I interrupt for a moment?” Harry asked sheepishly, Neko glared at Harry in annoyance before nodding to let him know he could continue “Uh Hedgehog? Seriously?”

“What’s wrong with Hedgehog it’s a good enough name as any.” Neko retorted “I should know I’m the one who gave it to him. On the count of his spiky little crew-cut.” For the last part she pointed at his hairdo for emphasis.

“You named him?” Morphan asked “Doesn’t he have a name of his own?”

“Maybe? I don’t know he never told me his name or anything about himself really.” Neko then thought for a moment “Come to think of it I don’t think he’s ever said a word since he got here.”

Hedgehog nodded silently.

“Is he a mute or something?” Harry asked.

“Harry this boy came here from a world that Argus conquered.” Morphan pointed out “He probably saw his home destroyed before his very eyes, and then he was captured and enslaved by demons from another dimension. The terror of what he’s seen would render anybody a mute.”

“So I’m right he is a mute.” Harry continued.

“You’ve gotten the facts right but you’re missing their meaning.” Morphan pointed out chagrined.

Throughout the conversation Hedgehog held on very tightly to Neko’s leg.

“It’s OK Hedgehog, these two are real nice.” Neko cooed “Not particularly intelligent or useful but nice.” Hedgehog looked up at Neko with his big blue eyes “Trust me they are not going to hurt you.” Hedgehog then let go of Neko but still stood very close to her.

“Oh I almost forgot!” Harry exclaimed “Neko did you get that map you were supposed to get.”

“Yes I did, here you go.” She then handed Morphan a small black, plastic, rectangle, the front of the rectangle was covered in glass with a small square button on the bottom.

Harry looked over Morphans shoulder and stared curiously at the plastic rectangle “What the hell is that?” Harry asked.

“That’s the map?” Neko exclaimed, Harry stood still visibly confused “What you were expecting some scraggily piece of paper? Get with the times old mon.”

Morphan pressed the single button on the map turning it on, the screen showed a beeping red dot on a digital map “How does this thing work?” he asked looking it over.

“Don’t really know.” Neko stated casually, Morphan continued to look over the map “I wouldn’t try to do anything fancy with it if I were you, that thing can be a real bitch to use. And there isn’t any tech-support way out here in the Null Lands. As long as you can turn it on and off it’ll lead to where you want to go.”

“Looks just like an I-Phone.” Morphan stated.

“A what?” Harry asked.

“I-Phone, another one of Argus’s stolen goods.” Morphan thanked Neko for the map and the advice as he turned it off and pocketed it “Well we got the map that means if everything turns out OK we’ll be able to get out of the canyon. So that’s one problem solved, we still need those codes from Mad-Hat.”

“Well let’s go the sooner the better.” Neko stated “Come along Hedgehog.” Hedgehog then grabbed Neko’s hand as she led him down the dark staircase. Morphan and Harry followed her close behind.

A few minutes later...

“What is that horrible smell?” Harry asked.

They descended deeper down the dark stairway, emphasis on dark since there were no lights. Even for the advanced eyesight of a demon the three of them had a hard time seeing. Thankfully Neko knew the stairway well enough to navigate even without sight.

Like Neko, the human boy Hedgehog knew the stairway well enough to move without sight which was fortunate for him since as previously stated humans can’t see as well as demons and half-demons.

“Where exactly does this staircase lead to?” Morphan asked.

“Hey listen Lobster-boy if I wanted you guys dead I would have fed you guys to those bandits in the mess hall.” Neko snarled.

“I wasn’t implying anything of that nature I’m just curious where this staircase goes.” Morphan stated.

“Oh” Neko was glad for the dark for it hid the embarrassed look on her face “Well it takes us to the basement.”

“You know nobody answered my question about the funny smell I smell?” Harry exclaimed annoyed.

“He who smelt it dealt it!” Neko chuckled.

“Very funny Neko. But I know farts, and what I’m smelling aint farts.” Harry pointed out.

“Then what is it that you think your smelling?” Morphan asked.

“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking. Oh finally some light!” Harry then rushed to the lights at the bottom of the stairway. However due to the darkness he could not see where he was going so he tripped and tumbled down the stairs landing on the hard floor loudly.

TUMBLE TUMBLE TUMBLE

BONK

Harry lied on the floor groaning in pain for a few moments before picking himself up and brushing himself off.

Harry was set to complain but when he got up he found himself utterly speechless. While Harry stood mouth agape, Neko, Hedgehog and Morphan walked right past him.

“Now you know what that smell is.” Neko stated.

Inside the basement was a large colony of humans, the humans were clearly un-bathed and malnourished. Dressed in rags and covered in filth they at the moment did little more than just sit on the floor looking forlorn, a few wandered about in an almost zombie-like fashion. The human slaves had piles of wreckage and garbage arranged to form meager shelter, as well as various discarded junk as furniture and belongings. The drippings from various water pipes acted as the human’s water supply.

“What is this place?” Harry asked aghast by what he saw.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Neko stated bluntly, by now she and Morphan stopped walking to let Harry catch up “This is where the humans go when they’re not busy with slave work.”

“Do they live here?” Harry asked.

“NO they just hang out here they live in a bloody five-star hotel OF COURSE THEY LIVE HERE STUPID!”

“Harry this can’t be that much of a surprise.” Morphan stated bluntly “Argus has made it no secret that this is how slaves are treated.”

“Well yeah I’ve heard but, but to actually see it with your own eyes.” Harry's gaze shifted all over the place “It just takes your breath away, in a bad way of course. I mean how can you guys act so calm in the face of...” he gestured to the whole basement “...This.”

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been to a human colony.” Neko stated “And I’ll bet money that Lobster-boy here has been to a few human colonies himself.”

Morphan nodded solemnly in response.

“So anyways this is nothing we haven’t already seen before.” Neko stated.

“In fact I’ve seen conditions even worse than this.” Morphan stated.

Neko, Harry and Hedgehog stared at Morphan in shock “How can there be conditions even worse than this?” asked Harry.

“Are you aware that there are some parts in Argus where humans are considered a delicacy?” The others needed no more explanation then that.

“C’mon Mad-Hat is this way.” Neko then got eye level with Hedgehog “OK little guy you head home now.” Hedgehog nodded then rushed off “Stay out of trouble!” Neko yelled before Hedgehog disappeared.

Morphan and Harry stared at Neko “WHAT?” She snarled.

“I should have known.” Harry grinned widely then sauntered over to her “You may act like an obnoxious bitc... uh queen, but deep down your a real sweet female aint ya.” Harry patted her on the back playfully.

Neko slapped away Harry’s hand “Yeah I look after the little guy, someone has to. These humans they are kind to each other when it’s easy, when they all desperately need each other. But trust me when things get bad they turn on each other just...” she snapped her fingers “... like that.” 

“I get it the kid was orphaned during the attack wasn’t he?” Harry asked.

“I can only assume so; I’ve never seen him with parents or anyone who could qualify as a parental figure.” Neko stated.

“SO that’s it!” Harry yelled excited over his little epiphany “Hedgehog is all alone in this world, and you are also alone in this world so you feel a connection with him, am I right or am I right.”

POW

Neko punched Harry in the gut “Just follow me.” She snarled, she walked off with Morphan and Harry behind her.

Neko marched forward, giving off waves of displeasure, all the while trying to keep herself ahead of the others by as much distance as she could. Which wasn’t hard since Harry moved slowly thanks to pain in his gut “What’d she do that for?” he groaned.

“She’s angry with you because you claimed you understood her.” Morphan spoke, while still moving forward.

“Isn’t understanding a good thing? You know empathy and all that jazz.”

Morphan sighed heavily before taking a moment to think of a proper explanation “Harry I know you meant well but you need to understand that the suffering of a half-demon isn’t something that can be understood so easily, you understand.”

“Uhhhhhhhhh YYYYYYYea No. Your gonna have ta be clearer than that.”

Morphans body went rigid; he then held his hand in front of his face “You cannot possibly comprehend what it like to spend your life alone...” Morphan said while staring at his carapace “...hated by everyone for something you never asked for...” he clenched his fist “...the years of prejudice and ostracization. The sorrow, the fear and the anger that goes through you day by day by bloody day.” as he clenched his fist tightly his body started to glow with a film of blue aura, some aura managed to seep off like steam.

Harry was visibly nervous as he recalled his school lessons on Demonic Aura. Aura was controlled by a demons mind, so when they are in mentally unstable state their Aura also becomes unstable.

OK Harry remembers those lessons on how to deal with demons with out of control Aura.” Harry tried even harder to remember the lessons “Oh mon I wish I paid more attention in class, I think it all comes down talking to them slowly and calmly.”

Harry then tried to get closer to Morphan who was now just standing in one spot seeping Aura, it was a bit difficult to get close to Morphan as the seeping Aura made him hotter than a cast-iron stove.

“Morphan buddy?”

Morphan glared at Harry in response “You don’t have to be alone anymore you’ve got me now?”

Morphan exhaled to calm down, deactivating his Aura “Your right can’t do anything about the past. Thanks Harry I’d hate to think what would have happened if I... lost control.”

“I know what you’re saying mon, it’s dangerous enough when a regular demon loses control but if someone as powerful as you would lose control, well I’d hate to think what would happen.”

“Trust me you have no idea.” Morphans voice was laced with genuine fear as he spoke.

Now that the two of them were calmed down they caught up with Neko who was waiting for them down the path, impatiently tapping her foot “Yo Lobster-boy you done blowing off some steam.”

Morphan nodded unable to react in any other way at the moment.

“Good you should uh blow of some steam once in a while. It must be a real hard putting on that tough guy act all the time.” Neko turned to move forward “Though not here of course, a glowing demon has never meant anything good for these people.”

They continued on their way, as the humans cowered in their presence.

A few minutes later...

They walked through a door at the end of the basement to find themselves in a large dark cylinder shaped room, in the room was a tall metal tower that reached not only to the top of the room but judging by the height of the room could very well reach the top of the base itself. The metal tower had large pipes and wires coiled around it. The pipes and wires would attach themselves to the wall of the room like veins connecting an organ. On the tower were various disc shaped lights changing from white to red at seemingly random intervals, some of the lights were no bigger than regular light bulbs while others were massive.

“What is this place?” Harry asked nervously.

“This area is basically a control station for the entire base.” Neko explained “They call this place the “Rose Garden”. Some of the guys think that the lights and the wires look like giant roses or something.”

At the mention of their supposed similarity to giant roses Morphan stared at the lights and as he stared he began to wonder “What is the purpose of those lights?”

Neko shrugged her shoulders “No idea, we bandits didn’t build this base we just found it.” Neko turned around so that she was staring at the two of them “All right it’s important that you let me do the talking all-right.”

Morphan and Harry nodded.

“You understand no talking especially you Baldy.”

Harry scowled but nodded all the same “Trust me Neko I’ll behave.” “I can’t imagine what kind of demon would live in this dark and creepy tower. He must be something really nasty.”

So they went inside the tower, inside they found a large room cramped with computers of various shapes and sizes including a huge one at the end. There were no lights in the room but fortunately the glow from the computer made the room bright enough. On the screens were various graphs, charts and other things of that sort that seemed indescribable save for someone fluent in them. Even more confusing was that the graphs and charts kept changing at random moments. Every now and then some surveillance footage would come up and then disappear just as quickly as it appeared.

In the center of the room was a large wooden table, covered in a raggedy moth-eaten, patched up, dirty old table cloth. Upon closer inspection it could be surmised that it was in fact multiple table clothes stitched together.

On the table was a menagerie, of tea party cutlery, none of which appeared to belong to the same set.

Most bizarre of all was at the end of the room in front of the giant computer screen was a five foot green top-hat on a chair.

“OK Mad-Hat you can come out of hiding it’s me Neko.” The room was silent save for the buzzing of the machines “I brought two guys with me that need your help, I promise you there on the level.”

Again the buzzing of machines filled the room.

“(Sigh) please don’t do this pal.” Neko huffed in annoyance “All right fine have it your way.” She then walked up to the hat grabbed it and held it in the air, then a small creature fell out of the hat. The creature was humanoid and stood roughly four feet tall, with a rotund body and skinny limbs with comparatively large hands and feet. It also had a comparatively large head with a huge droopy nose and elephant like ears along with wild snow white hair, done up in a “mad scientist” style. For clothing he wore what used to be a fine old fashioned suit but was now torn and stained.

“Is that a goblin?” Morphan asked “Mad-Hat is a goblin.”

“Goblins!” Harry chuckled “Don’t be silly goblins are make believe, he’s just a weird looking human. ”

“Human, goblin doesn’t matter, does-not mat-ter, nope nope.” Mad-Hat spoke in a high pitch voice “Nor does it matter if I’m a dwarf, a giant, a prince, a pauper, a caterpillar, a butterfly, a raven or BLOODY WRITING DESK!” He roared the last part “No, no, no, no only thing that matters now is that I’m a slave in Argus.”

Harry leaned into Morphan and whispered “No wonder they call this guy MAD-hat.” He then twirled his finger around his ear for emphasis.

“The attack on his realm must have been quite traumatic.” Morphan pointed out.

“Is it safe to come out now?” said a squeaky voice from under the table.

“Never truly safe here, no, no, no, sometimes safer than other though, this time, this time safer than others.” Mad-Hat rambled.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Said a second voice from under a table.

Then two humans came out to reveal themselves.

The first human was a tall voluptuous woman with ebony skin and brownish-blonde hair. She wore a red one-piece suit that although torn and raggedy managed to remain very tight. In addition she wore black stockings which were torn in certain areas and a red head band with what looked like bunny ears on top. She also wore a stitched up sash that said “March” on it. To Morphan she looked like someone who had once been very lovely, but now had to wear excessive make-up to cover her beaten face.

The second human was as big as Harry and just as burly. He had a very small timid face with beady almost dot-like black eyes. He wore a purple t-shirt with red short both of which looked to be two-sizes too small for him. He also wore a small round purple hat, with a wool ball at top. He nervously jerked his head around in an almost rodent like fashion.

“I’d like you to meet my assistants, you won’t remember them, why should you their just slaves.” Mad-Hat then cackled at what he thought was a funny joke, or perhaps he just simply cackled.

“Anyways...” Mad-Hat continued “The lady is named Miss Hare.”

“No I’m the lovely Miss March.” Miss Hare/Miss March then started to strike a series of poses that would have once been considered sexy, and might still had been had she not been cackling bulgy-eyed and muttering over how beautiful she thought she was.

Everyone waited till she was done before continuing “And the large fella is named Dormos.”

“Awww what a cute little hat you’re wearing.” Harry coed as he reached his hand for the hat. Dormos then squealed loudly before curling down on to the floor whimpering loudly.

“Wow, wow easy pal, I don’t want to hurt you I just what look at your hat.” Harry explained.

Without getting up from his position, Dormos took off his hat and held it for Harry, Harry then took it out of his hand to inspect it, “He he, it’s so cute it looks just like a lid for a teapot.” Harry giggled as he put it on. Dormos continued to cower on the floor.

“I believe that hat is called a Kippah.” Morphan explained “I believe it worn by humans from a certain religious order.”

“Huh you mean Dormos is some sort of holy man?” Harry asked.

“Was a holy man of sorts.” Mad-Hat said as he jumped onto the table wearing his incredibly large hat, how the hat didn’t simply swallow him up again was a real mystery. “Just as Miss Hare...”

“Miss March!” she snarled.

“... Miss March, was once a Playboy bunny.”

“What’s a playboy bunny?” Harry asked.

“In certain realms certain old guys collects pretty women and has them dress up as bunnies.” Neko explained.

Harry then imagined a human woman dressed up in fuzzy bunny pajamas “Well I don’t see the sex appeal in that at all.”

“Ok now that introductions are out of the way I need a favor from you Mad-Hat.” Neko explained. Mad-Hat gestured with his hand to show he was listening. “I’d like you to give me the codes for the vault and the Shrink-Ray please.”

“Sooooooorrrrrrrry I won’t give them to you.” Said Mad-Hat, he then hoped back into his chair at the front of the room.

“What do you mean you can’t give them to me?” Neko yelled, at the sound of her heightened voice Miss Hare and Dormos started to cower by Mad-Hat’s chair, Mad-Hat on the other hand didn’t look afraid at all.

“You misheard me.” Mad-Hat continued “I CAN give you the codes but I WONT!”

“Why not?” Neko asked with clenched teeth.

“Because the only reason you could possibly want those codes is because you want to steal something from Jabberwocky.”

Morphan and Harry looked to each other in worry figuring Mad-Hat was on to them.

“Actually we are planning on stealing something from the Wonderland Circus not Jabberwocky personally.” Neko corrected smugly. 

 “In Jabberwocky’s eyes they are one in the same. SoOoOo regardless of whether you succeed in what-ever you’re planning Jabberwocky will figure out that we helped you. And I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail over what he’d do to us if we helped you.” At the mere thought of what Jabberwocky would do to them Miss Hare and Dormos screamed hysterically before diving under the table to hide.

“Look Mad-Hat I’m the only bandit in this trope who’s ever tried to help you people. I’ve never asked for anything in return before so just give me the codes.” Neko got close to Mad-Hats face before saying “I PROMISE to take full responsibility for what I do.”

“Your promise means absolutely, positively nothing.” Mad-Hat retorted as if speaking to a child “For there is nothing you can say or do that would prevent Jabberwocky or any of the other bandits from punishing us. AW but don’t feel bad...” Mad-Hat cooed the last part as if speaking to a kitten “... we’ll probably still be punished even if we don’t do anything.”

“Maybe Jabberwocky would go easier on you if he found out I forced you to tell me!” She drew her claws and bared her fangs as she said that.

“Everyone both slave and bandit know you’d never do that to us.” Said Mad-Hat “And even if you did, anything less than killing us would prevent them from coming down here to punish us. Don’t you see? Whether you succeed or fail whether we help you or not, IT WILL end badly for us slaves.”

 Everyone got quiet, so quiet that the gentle humming of the machines seemed as loud as an orchestra.

Neko stepped back till she was on the other side of the room “I didn’t think of that.” Said Neko Maneki sadly.

“You never do.” Mad-Hat remarked.

“You know for a human or goblin or whatever you are you’ve got some real cheek talking to Neko like that.” Harry retorted.

“I thought I told you to let me do the talking?” Neko said half-heartily.

Harry made no implication that he heard her “Anyways Neko may be nicer to you then the other bandits but she’s still a member of the troupe there for your master. Not very many slaves would talk to their master in such a way.”

Mad-Hat slumped down into his chair looking his most serious before saying “One who has given up on life, does not fear death.”

“If you don’t care what happens to you then why not help us?” Morphan asked “You seem to think you’ll end up dead no matter what we do so why not help us before you die.”

“I may not care about my life but the other slaves do care. About their own lives I mean not mine, just figured I’d make that clear.” Said Mad-Hat while mood swinging. “Any-ways I’m the closest thing these slaves have to a leader, a true testament as to how desperate they are if I ever heard one, so even if I never wanted to be I’m in charge of these people and I will not put them in any more danger then they are already in.”

Neko, Harry and Morphan got quiet unsure of how to proceed.

Harry then took off his hat and placed it on the table, “Hey Dormos you can have your hat back.” Harry said softly.

Dormos continued to cower under the table “(Sigh) come on guys lets go and think of something else.” Harry and Neko started to leave the tower saddened by not only their plans gone wrong but also by the slave’s position.

“WAIT!” yelled Morphan, Neko, Harry and Mad-Hat all gave Morphan their undivided attention, even Miss Hare and Dormos peaked from under the table to hear him “What if we offered you a trade?”

“What could you possibly give me that would be worth my services, my time, very likely my life?”

“You’re Freedom!”

Chapter 10: Uprising

The whole Rose Garden tower went completely silent. Even the humming of the machines seemed to have quieted down in shock. Everyone stared at Morphan bug-eyed and slack jawed over what he said.

Mad-Hat eyed Morphan to see if there was any sign, any little sign at all to tell if he was lying “So you say you’ll FREE us if we help you!” Mad-Hat asked looking his most serious.

“Yes!”

Mad-Hat stood on his chair as still as a statue for a few moments before bursting out in a huge fit of laughter. He quickly started to laugh so hard that he fell off his chair and started to roll around on the floor. Neko, Harry, Dormos and Miss Hare keep shifting their gazes to each-other both wondering what to make of the situation. Morphan on the other hand stood still and silent waiting for Mad-Hats answer.

Eventually Mad-Hat calmed down and crawled back onto his chair.

“You say you’ll free the slaves hmmm... and just how do you plan on doing that.” Mad-Hat asked.

“I’m planning it out as we speak.”

“In other words you don’t know.” Mad-Hat leered at Neko and said “Hey Neko you finally found someone who thinks the same way you do.”

Neko refused to acknowledge the statement.

“So you plan on taking on one of the strongest, most ruthless bandit groups in all of Argus all by yourself.” Mad-Hat asked mockingly.

“Not by himself.” Harry Crax said as he wrapped an arm around Morphans shoulder, he then turned to Morphan and said “Now don’t give me any ‘Lone Wolf’ crap, I’m your best friend, I go where you go and your problems are my problems.”

Morphan could only smile and scoff, he faced then hardened as he stared at Mad-Hat.

“Two times zero is still zero.” Mad-Hat remarked “Besides even if you do manage to somehow defeat the bandits and free us, WHERE-WILL-WE-GO! It aint a good life here but it’s a life all the same. Which is much more than can be promised if we leave this place?”

Morphan and Harry dipped their heads in thought, till Harry snapped his fingers “I know we can send them all back to their home realms!”

“Two things wrong with that plan!” Mad-Hat pointed out “First of all in case you’ve forgotten our home realms were already conquered by Argus we’d be no safer there then we are here. Second of all only the elites of the Argus Military and their allies from across the Omniverse posses the power to travel to parallel universes. Nobody knows how they do it but everybody knows they can.”

 “What’s with this guy?” Harry thought “a few minutes ago he was babbling nonsense, now he’s talking like some high profile professor.”

“Maybe you don’t have to move.” Morphan deduced “This Rose Garden or whatever they call it is basically the heart of the whole base, surly you...” Morphan pointed at Mad-Hat “... the one controls the heart can control the base itself. There has to be something you can do.”

Mad-Hat started to stroke his chin in thought before slumping down in his chair and turning around to look at the screen “Yes, yes, yesss what your suggesting is intriguing.”

Everyone widened their eyes in shock over what Mad-Hat was saying.

“Running the Rose Garden is full of tedious, boring tasks which is the whole reason they dumped it on me. And in their arrogance they can’t imagine a human ever having the will to truly turn on them, much less be able to harm them. So I should have the element of surprise. So all I got to do activate the right system and bye-bye bandits.” Mad-Hats tone appeared to get higher and more excited with each word.

Morphan and Harry stared at each other, excited at the notion that their plan was coming to form.

“EXCEPT...” Mad-Hat yelled.

“... I already found such a system and it aint going to work.” Mad-Hat turned around to stare at Morphan and Harry “There is a laser defense system powerful enough to drive even the great Wonderland Circus away, which I can activate with a push of a button. Buuuut it is located OUTSIDE of the base, in order to use it all the bandits would have to be outside. You think you can pull that off tough guy?”

“As a matter of fact...” Morphan banged his fists together and said “I do!”

“Ha, typical!” Mad-Hat chortled “You demons think you can solve all your problems with violence. But let me tell you something, your plan to beat up all the bad-guys will only work if you get EVERY-SINGLE-ONE, because all it will take is one angry straggler to come in and kill all us humans.”

Morphan and Harry sighed heavily, believing what Mad-Hat was saying, “There’s got to be something someone can do!” Harry yelled.

Dormos then spoke.

When Dormos was done everyone was utterly shocked by what he said.

“Uhhhhh that’ll do nicely I guess.” Said Harry both shocked, thrilled and slightly afraid of what he just heard.

Miss Hare then roared in fury and tackled Dormos to the ground, she then grabbed him by the collar and started to shake him furiously “You could do that all along WHY didn’t you tell us, or better yet WHY didn’t you just do it. Do you not remember all the fear and abuse we’ve had to take all this time and you let those... those... DEMONS... do it to us when you could have done that!”

“He didn’t have the courage to do it before.” Neko said suddenly, though in very tell-it-as it is sort-of voice that those that knew her weren’t used to hearing “It appears Morphan here has inspired him to start a revolution.”

“YEAH VIVA LA REVOLUTION!” Yelled Harry enthusiastically.

 “Revolution?” Mad-Hat asked, and then slowly smiled as widely as possible and shouted “REVOLUTION!” he then started to laugh manically, with his mouth wide, his tongue squirming and his eyes bulging “Forgot every damn thing I said till now, LETS KICK THOSE BASTARDS OUT!”

He then turned to the computer to started typing into the controls furiously.

“I’m sorry I can’t let you do that.”

Everyone turned in shock to Neko who was blocking the doorway, standing firm with her arms crossed.

“You are going to stop us, YOU!” Miss Hare yelled hysterically “But, but I thought you were our friend.”

Neko turned her head in a huff doing everything she could to prevent looking the slaves in the eyes “I’m sorry but if I allowed this so called “Revolution” I would be betraying the Wonderland Circus.”

“But you HATE those guys!” Harry yelled “and I’m pretty sure they hate you too.”

Neko refusing to look at anyone turned her back to them with her arms crossed “Listen Baldy you may not believe it but I do have a code of ethics, chief among them is an “honor amongst thieves” sort of belief.”

“Honor! Honor! HONOUR!” as Mad-Hat was yelling he grabbed his white hair and pulled so hard that it looked like he would tear a chunk off “None of the other bandits care about honor, NO-ONE in the Null lands cares about honor, why should YOU care about honor?”

“I have a habit of caring for things that no-one else does.” Neko explained, realizing what she was saying Mad-Hat let go off his hair and slumped down into his chair.

Morphan marched up to Neko and said “Look Neko we’re going through this with or without your approval. So you can either help us or stand aside.”

Neko turned around sharply and glared “Oh the great hero has spoken huh? Because freeing slaves was the whoooooole reason you came down here in the first place.”

Morphan glared in response.

“I think I know you pretty well by now, Lobster-boy.” Neko stated “you’re cold, pessimistic, and overly-serious. But I know you’re not stupid.”

Morphan and everyone else remained silent waiting to see where Neko was going with it.

“You know there is a good chance that you’ll end up killed in all this?” Neko stated.

Morphan said nothing.

“You also know that the slaves almost literally have nothing to give you as a reward. At least not anything worth your life.”

Morphan said nothing.

“And worst case scenario, Argus hears about this uprising and decides to do something about before other humans get the same idea.” Neko then moved her face till it was inches away from Morphans “And for the military wiping this place out will be as easy as wiping a stain off a table.”

“You know some stains are really hard to wash off.” Said Harry in a genuine attempt to sound dark and serious, everyone glared at Harry, “Right shutting up.”

“So tell me Lobster-boy, WHY are you doing this, what EXACTLY are you trying to accomplish?”

Morphan stood for a while arms crossed in deep thought trying to come up with a proper way to express his answer, he then decided on how to say it he opened his mouth to speak.

BOOOOOM

Suddenly a loud explosion shook the place as the slaves and Harry all ran around in sheer panic while Morphan and Neko managed to keep a cooler head. Then Hedgehog came rushing into the Rose Garden in tears, in a silent panicked frenzy he grabbed Neko by her hand and tried desperately to drag her to the source of the explosion.

“All right.” Neko said in the utmost seriousness “Lobster-boy, Baldy you two stay here, I’ll go deal with whatever’s going down.”

 “Do you want us here to guard your friends or do you want us “intruders” here to stay out of sight?” Morphan asked.

“Little of column A, little of column B doesn’t fully matter right now JUST STAY PUT ALL RIGHT!” with that Neko let Hedgehog lead her out of the Rose Garden.

“(Sniff) what a brave young demon facing the danger all on he own like that it really warms your heart doesn’t it.” Harry said while sniffling.

Morphan said nothing and just stared ahead.

Harry eyes then dried up as he glumly said “We’re going to help her aren’t we.”

Morphan nodded.

“Whelp I did say I’d go where you go.” With nothing more to say Morphan and Harry stormed out the door with Harry yelling “CHAAAARGE!”

In the slave section...

 Neko and Hedgehog came into the room to find all the slaves cowered together in the corner of the room, as smoking remains of a “building” continued to burn. At the end of the room was the Walrus and the Carpenter.

“Aw nuts I didn’t get any humans in that blast.” The Walrus griped.

“Don’t worry you’ll have your chance to kill some humans.” The Carpenter stated.

Neko growled at the two of them while Hedgehog hid behind her leg “REALLY killing slaves for fun, that’s low even for you guys. Why don’t you bozos get out and get a hobby.”

“I won’t deny there is some fun in killing slaves,” The Carpenter said smugly “But this time we have a greater purpose, to stop a revolution.”

“And while we’re at it KILL a certain yellow haired traitor!” yelled the Walrus as his aura started to glow around his tusks.

“Traitor, muh, I don’t know what you idiots are talking about.”

Suddenly Harry and Morphan jumped through the door and into the slave section, Harry then took on a battle ready pose and yelled “Don’t worry Neko were here to help you just like you helped us sneak into the base.”

There was a moment of silence as Neko glared at Harry.

“WHAT?” Harry then recognized the Walrus and the Carpenter and realized what he just said “OH, uhhhhh I mean the opposite of what I just said.”

SMACK

Neko smacked her forehead.

“Don’t be mad at him.” The Carpenter said smugly “Even if he didn’t open his big fat mouth we still would have all the evidence we need.”

On cue a small tubular metal device taped to one of the Carpenters nails. In order to mock them the Carpenter had the device circle around there heads.

“A camera device!” Neko yelled “How long has that thing been following us?”

“Ever since we saw you in the mess hall.” Said the Walrus “The guy with the shell may have gotten a little more muscle on him but we could still tell it was him.”

“When we saw you guys we figured you’d be up to no good so I had one of my spy cameras follow you.” The Carpenter boasted, he then lifted up a device that looked like the map.

“Another I-thingy?” Morphan asked.

“This “I-thingy” has recorded everything my camera saw and heard, and in addition this “I-thingy” allowed us to know just the right distance to follow you from.”

“These two oafs were following us and none of us noticed?” Neko thought as she clenched her fists “I can’t believe we were so careless.”

“Anyways we finally got you half-breed! As of this moment you...” the Walrus pointed at Neko “...are done, finished, ka-put, washed-up, no longer a member.”

“No longer a member you say?” Neko then smirked and said “Then I have no reason to be loyal to you jerks.”

Then Hedgehog excited the Rose Garden and handed Neko Maneki a piece of paper.

“Is that?”

“Yup, this Lobster-boy...” Neko held the piece of paper “... are the codes you wanted.”

“When did Hedgehog?” Harry asked.

“While these two were busy bragging I had Hedgehog run to Mad-Hat and get them.” Neko bragged “I doesn’t take a genius to know that they were planning on kicking me out.”

“But I didn’t hear you say anything? How’d he know what you were planning?” Harry asked.

Neko then started to ruffle Hedgehogs hair “Me and Hedgehog have such a tight bond that we can practically read each other thoughts, all it took was a few silent gestures.”

Hedgehog smiled in response.

“Did you make sure to tell Mad-Hat to go ahead with the plan?”

Hedgehog nodded proudly.

“Now without further ado the time has come for the great-SLAVE UPRISING!”

Then as if signaled by Neko’s yelling a loud siren roared throughout the base.

Elsewhere...

Jabberwocky was in his private quarters when he heard the sound of the siren. He did nothing more than mutter a “humph”.

Elsewhere...

Gobbling Crow was going somewhere when he heard the siren go off; as the sirens continued to blare he grabbed one of his energy pistols and held it tight.

Elsewhere...

King of Hearts was heading to his room when he heard the siren; he panicked and grabbed his Kanabo.

“What’s going on? What does that siren mean?” he asked nervously. The siren continued to blare loudly.

“Come on show yourself, take your best shot!” he yelled voice full of bravado.

Suddenly the siren blared it loudest before stopping and the sprinklers turned on.

The King of Hearts stood dumbfounded as the water poured onto him, “Grrr I knew it was nothing to worry about.” He then clenched his fist in front of his face and snarled “When I find the demon responsible for this little prank I’m gonna... huh?”

He then noticed that small bits of steam were coming of his fist where the water hit, soon he noticed that it was not just his fist but everywhere the water hit. Then the water started to sting him slightly, then it stung more, and then it started to burn. In a matter of seconds it went from feeling like a warm shower to having acid poured onto him.

Confused, scared and in pain the King of Hearts could do nothing but run around in panic.

“WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE DOOM AND THE ABYESS IS GOING ON!” he screamed.

Meanwhile...

In the Rose Garden Mad-Hat sat at the computer all the screens switched to camera videos showing the Wonderland Circus running around screaming as the acidic water poured all over them.

While watching the cameras Mad-Hat smiled and giggled and clapped his hands like a toddler watching a puppet show “Never in a thousand years did I imagine that it would be this easy!”

As he watched the uprising Dormos had his left hand on a large water pipe while his right hand was in front of his face in praying position. He was chanting a long holy verse with all his might causing his body to glow with faint white spirit energy.

Miss Hare desiring to help but unsure what to do acted as a cheerleader to Dormos using some spare rags as makeshift pom-poms.

“Hard to imagine that sniveling little Dormos is a holy man, even more so a holy man powerful enough to convert the bases entire water supply in to holy water.” Mad-Hat then laughed manically as he watched the demons getting holy water sprinkled onto them.

Meanwhile...

While the rest of the cowering slaves wondered what was going on, Morphan, Harry and Neko had a stare down with the Walrus and the Carpenter as the sound of the sprinklers going off upstairs echoed into the room.

“SOO it seems you decided to go along with your so called Revolution plan” after all.” Said the Carpenter mockingly.

 “(GASP) they know about the revolution plan?” Harry asked shocked.

“Weren’t you paying attention?” Neko scolded “They were spying on us, they heard the entire conversation we had with Mad-Hat, Mon you’re slow.”

“Well we can’t all be as fast as you.” Harry said indignantly. Harry’s friends could only sigh in annoyance; even Hedgehog slapped his head in annoyance.

“Look you guys might as well give up.” Morphan said “With the sprinklers pouring holy water you guys are trapped in here where it’s dry.”

“That holy water may be enough for you and those pansies upstairs.” said the Walrus “Put I doubt that slave has enough holy crap to damage REAL demons like me and Carpenter. It sure as hell won’t be able to stop Jabberwocky.”

“SO that means I’ll eventually have to go up against the boss himself, huh.” Said Neko “Why does that not surprise me.” She then held the piece of paper with the codes on it to her face “Doesn’t really matter I suppose as long as we still got these codes we’ll come out on top.”

“YOINK!”

Suddenly Neko noticed the codes were snatched out of her hands, she frantically looked around to notice that the Carpenter had his back facing her while floating in the air “That’s the second time I’ve stolen from you today!” said the Carpenter as he waved the codes mockingly “Perhaps your not as good of a bandit as you claim to be.”

“He can fly?” yelled Morphan, Harry, and Neko in surprise “Since when can you fly?” Neko asked.

The Carpenter gestured to his shoes which were currently glowing green with his aura “I cobbled my new shoes with my own nails. Now without further ado.” the Carpenter then put the codes in his pocket to keep them safe “With all the bandits heading for the exit, now’s the perfect time for me and my accomplice...” The Walrus banged his fists together for emphasis “... to make off like BANDITS!” he then flew off into the base laughing at his pun.

“He going for the treasure vault!” yelled Neko.

“(GASP) GALE!” yelled Harry.

“After him!” yelled Morphan, with that the three of them started charging.

“You’re not going anywhere!” yelled the Walrus as he blasted them with his aura.

Seeing it coming Morphan rushed forward and deflected the aura with his right forearm, where it blew up away from everyone.

BOOOOOM

Morphan then charged towards the Walrus, after making contact they then started to grapple with each other.

“You two go on ahead I’ll take care of this guy.” Yelled Morphan.

With no time to argue, Neko and Harry left Morphan to pursue the Carpenter.

 BOOOOOOM

While they were grappling the Walrus blasted Morphan with his aura at point-blank, the blast sent Morphan soaring back a good distance before he managed to back-flip and recover.

“You obviously didn’t learn anything from that smacking I gave you earlier today.” The Walrus bragged “You honestly think that just because you have a little more armor that all the sudden you take me on?”

“As a matter of fact...” Morphan then struck a battle ready pose “... I DO!”

Elsewhere...

The Carpenter flew out of the stairway and into the hallway leading to the entrance; he then floated in place for a moment to allow the holy water to shower onto him.

He then smiled maliciously “Just as I thought, to create water powerful enough to hurt a demon of my level would take a holy guy of significantly greater power.”

As he spoke the sound of multiple demons stampeding could be heard, realizing they were coming he went to the exit and opened the big metal doors via the controls next to them.

Soon he saw the sight of the entire Wonderland Circus running towards the recently opened door screaming in pain, with their skin burnt red and raw and even steaming in some areas.

“Quick everyone outside where it’s safe!” The Carpenter yelled in faux-concern.

Driven by sheer panic they exited the base in droves, when Carpenter was sure everyone was out, he shut the door then he stabbed the controls with one of nails, causing them to fizzle and sizzle till they let out a small explosion.

“There we go, with the controls destroyed all those idiots are trapped outside.” The Carpenter chuckled to himself; he then started to float deeper into the base “Now once I get the treasure, I’ll hijack that airship and then me and the Walrus will fly out of here laughing.”

“Not so Fast!”

The Carpenter looked to the source of the voice to find Neko charging out into the hallway she then started to move forward while yelling “In the name of myself, NEKO MANEKI the golden bandit of Labirinth Canyon you...shall...not...”

SLIP “WOOOOOW!” CRASH

Before Neko could finish her speech Harry came out and slipped on the now wet floor of the base causing to land face first onto the ground and slide till he hit the adjacent wall head first.

Neko scowled at having her moment ruined before continuing “As I was saying, in the name of...”

Suddenly Harry started to scream and convulse on the floor, splashing the small amount of water that managed to accumulate on the floor “AHHHHH IT BURNS IT BURNS IT BURNS IT waits a minute?” Harry then stopped thrashing and sat up he held his hand out to feel the water “...humph this doesn’t hurt at all, in fact it feels kind of nice, like a warm summer shower.”

“This is unexpected that hairy one must have aura as strong as my own if he can survive the holy water.” The Carpenter then shifted his gaze to Neko who after staring at Harry in confusion over his reaction went back to glaring at the Carpenter when she sensed his gaze upon her “And since she’s only half demon the holy water is only half as effective on her, plus her powerful aura helps her a good deal.”

“Take this!” the Carpenter yelled as he telepathically threw some nails at Neko, Neko managed to deflect the nails with her claws, the nails bent from her blows fell to the ground and stopped glowing.

“I know your weakness Carpenter.” Neko boosted “You can’t use your nails if their bent or broken.” She then showed off her claws while Harry struck a battle-ready pose behind her “So how do you plan on taking both of us?” she asked mockingly.

“I don’t.” The Carpenter then flew off deeper into the base.

Neko growled in annoyance before pursuing him using her claws to gain traction on the slippery floor.

“Wait for me Neko!” yelled Harry as he ran too but thanks to the slippery floor Harry could only run in place, he then put more effort into his running believing it might help but in addition to gaining no extra distance he only managed to tire himself out. Eventually he slipped and landed on his butt.

Harry just sat on the cold wet floor with his fur continued to get wetter and wetter, though strangely still managing to keep its signature shagginess, he looked down in depression, then he looked down the staircase leading to the slaves section, although it was too dark to see Harry knew what was going on.

“Right now Morphan is fighting to save the slaves and Gale, and so are those slaves in the Rose Garden. Even Neko who just this morning didn’t seem to care about anyone but herself is fighting to save Gale and the slaves though I doubt she’ll admit it. And yet once again I ‘am unable to do anything because I’m such a stupid, clumsy, goofball. Story of my life.” Harry continued to sit in despair.

He then clenched his fists.

“No, I swore a long time ago that I would never again let those I care about down.” Harry slowly got up one part to prevent slipping and another for dramatic effect “Morphans counting on me to do my part to help and so are the slaves and I’m sure some small part of Neko is counting on me... at least a small part... but most of all GALE IS COUNTING ON ME TO RESCUE HER!” Harry Crax stood tall and ready. He then noticed the door leading to the broken stairway and said

“And I now know just how to do it!”

Chapter 11: Guns against Fists, Morphan vs. the Walrus

“(Huff) (Huff) (Huff) by the abyss what happened in there?” asked an exhausted bandit.

By now all the members of the Wonderland Circus including the Damos Minimus pets, or Damos Minor, were now outside the base, the door to the base disappeared as soon as it was no longer needed making it look like just another canyon wall.

The cool night air was a minor comfort to the demons swollen burning skin.

“What are you doing?” asked one bandit to another.

“Taking my clothes off!”

“Why are you doing THAT?”

“Because thanks to that holy water my clothes are wet, and my wet clothes are BURNING MY SKIN!”

“Well keep them on I don’t want to see your funny business!”

“Oh so I’m suppose to stand here and let the water burn me just because you’re so squeamish.”

“You want a “better” reason, well I’ve got two right here!” the demon bandit then raised his fists threateningly, needing no further motivation the two bandits started to get into a grappling match while the other demons gathered around them egging them on.

“ENOUGH!” yelled a voice.

The two demons that were fighting stopped while the rest of the Wonderland Circus looked to the source of the voice. The voice came from the King of Hearts who had his Kanabo stabbed into the ground. He was currently balancing on top of the Kanabo, trying to look formidable; he would have succeeded if he didn’t wobble every few minutes to keep his balance.

“I think it’s obvious who is responsible for this little prank.” The King of Hearts then waited for everyone to catch on.

The Wonderland Circus stood racking their brains.

“It was the humans, it was the humans you idiots!” yelled the King of Hearts, in his anger he nearly lost his balance but quickly managed to regain it.

“Uh King, are you saying it was our humans?” a bandit asked obviously unable to grasp the idea of the slaves having the guts to try and overthrow them.

“Of course OUR humans what else could it have been?”

“I heard there are demons who gained holy powers by becoming christen or Jews or whatever, maybe it could have been one of them.” Another bandit pointed out.

The bandits started nodding agreeing that made much more sense than humans revolting.

“No, are you guys listening to yourselves,” in Kings anger he started to flail about which caused him to fall off his Kanabo.

“OOF”

While the bandits were snickering at Kings situation he climbed back onto his Kanabo trying to act like it didn’t happen “SO as I was saying this was an act of revolt from the slaves, and as such should be meet with equal retribution.”

“How exactly do we do that, the holy water in the building proves that they got one of them, uhhhhh...” the bandit turned to the bandit next to him “... what do you call the head of a church-thing.”

“I think you call them a Llama.” She answered.

“If the holy man/women/person/thing was that powerful we would all be nothing but vapors by now.” King corrected, he then sighed heavily while rubbing his temples “Look holy water is created when humans use holy-molly whats-its, which he can’t use forever, when he runs out...”

“How do you know it’s a he?” yelled a feminist bandit.

Kings eye twitched a moment before continuing “It’s only a matter of time before he OR SHE...” the feminist bandit nodded in approval “... runs out of holy... stuff and then that holy water becomes just plain water. And when that happens we move in and KILL THEM ALL!”

 “WO, wo, wo, wo.” yelled a bandit “We can’t kill ALL the humans, if we do that then who’ll do all them chores we don’t like to do.”

“I say we kill one of them to show were serious, that’s usually enough.”

“We should also make it a real spectacle, something long and flashy.”

“I say we just hurt em all real bad, not enough so they can’t work but enough so that they get the message.”

‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU DEMONS?” King yelled, he then jumped down and picked up his Kanabo, “They are HUMANS the cheapest and most abundant of all the enslaved races, we can replace them as quickly and as easily...” he snaps his fingers “... as that. (Sigh) Forget this, I’m killing those humans so the rest of you morons can either help me or stay out of my way.” As he spoke he goose-stepped towards the entrance to the base. Before entering he looked to the bandits to see what their intentions were.

The bandits all looked to each other for a bit. Before they all grinned maliciously bearing their fangs while drawing their weapons, even the Damos Minor started to growl in anticipation for the upcoming slaughter.

“All right let’s do this!” yelled the King of Hearts as he found the hidden switch to the base, he then banged on the button using an ostentatious amount of strength, and stood triumphantly waiting for the door to open.

Only nothing happened.

King pressed the button again this time normally, only for nothing to happen again. So he kept pressing it again and again, quickly losing his cool and repeatedly banging on the button.

“Could someone please tell me what’s wrong with the base this time?” King yelled.

The bandits stood in place faces pale, weapons held much more loosely, some even dropped them. The Damos Minor even started to whimper.

“What you guys aint losing your nerve just because of a door now are you?” King asked. The bandits didn’t answer; it was then that King noticed that they were all staring upwards. Out of curiosity King also looked upwards only to notice that everyone was staring at a collection of huge energy cannons, shaped sort of like giant white chess pieces, covering the wall all the way to the top.

As the sound of the cannons heating up filled the air, King could only feebly utter “by the Doom!”

The cannons opened fire.

Elsewhere...

“HA HA HA HA you see you are nothing more than a feeble stack of cards?” Mad-Hat cackled as he watched the cannons shoot at the Wonderland Circus.

From the Rose Gardens many screens one could see most of the demons ran around in panic to avoid the gun fire, a few others cowered behind boulders, others tried to fight back using guns and/or long ranged attacks of their own and others fled screaming.

Ultimately the bandits were no match for the cannons, and were being driven back.

“So sad to see that time has not been kind to the “white soldiers” said Mad-Hat in a faux-depressed term “In their prime the Wonderland circus would be nothing but little bits of roasted demon meat, now all the cannons can do is break a few bones and pierce a few organs.” Mad-Hats face distorted with a malevolent Cheshire cat grin “At least they are hurting!

BOOOOOOM

“Keep it down out there!” yelled Mad-Hat annoyed “I know Morphan is fighting to protect us, but does he have to do it so loudly. I almost can’t hear the sound of the bandits getting their comeuppance.”

Hedgehog stared at Mad-Hat in worry, for as long as he known him he was always “Mad” but now for the first-time Hedgehog was genuinely afraid of him, as he seemed to take a disturbing amount of joy from watching living creatures suffer. Granted those living creatures were abusive demon criminals but still.

As Hedgehog thought these things Miss Hare held him trying to comfort him in this terrifying moment, though on closer inspection it looked more like the other way around.

Dormos on the other hand was having trouble keeping up, his voice was giving out due to constant praying and the white aura surrounding him was far dimmer now then it was when he started. In addition the aura would dim out before diming up again.

BOOOOOOOM

The Walrus’s last energy blast must have struck particularly close to the Rose Garden as it caused the whole room to shake. Hedgehog looked at the door leading to the slaves quarters and in his head prayed to any and all higher powers that, for all their sakes, Morphan would win.

Elsewhere...

While the slaves cowered in the area between the Rose Garden and the slaves Quarters, Morphan and the Walrus continued their battle. They would timidly poke their heads out to see what was going on but would quickly duck them back at the first hint of danger.

The Walrus tried to blast Morphan with barrage of smaller weaker energy blasts, but Morphan would run around dodging them, when dodging proved ineffective he would deflect them with arm swipes and kicks.

“You’d think he’d be slower with all that extra armor on.” Thought the Walrus “But he’s actually faster now! His transformation must have made his legs stronger as well!”

Morphan then rushed forward to go onto the offensive. The Walrus seeing it coming charged up his aura before trying to blast him with a fully charged shot. This forced Morphan to jump to the side to dodge. Before he landed the Walrus grabbed Morphan by the arm and then started to throw him onto the floor repeatedly.

SMASH

SMAASH

SMAAASH

SMAAAASH

After he was done he threw Morphan into the air and shot him with a fully charged aura blast.

BOOOOOOOM

Before crashing Morphan managed to regain his senses, flip until he landed in an ideal position. He then stood up ready to continue.

“Well I’ll be dammed you’re actually pretty strong?” said the Walrus “Hard to believe your that same moron, I spanked in the canyons earlier today.”

“In this form I was able to defeat the Representative of Labirinth canyons, Straight Arrow!” Morphan boasted, he hoped that fact would intimidate his opponent into submission. Instead the Walrus just chuckled loudly.

“Why doesn’t it surprise me to know that Arrow lost to a half-breed? How that weakling became a Representative I’ll never know.” Said the Walrus “Any ways it doesn’t matter how strong you are because I’ve already figured out your weakness.”

Morphan remained steadfast, appearing visually unafraid.

“You half-breed are a close quarter’s type fighter.” The Walrus announced while pointing at Morphan in a demeaning fashion “Your CQC is BS if you can’t get close to me. And with my power...” he activated the Aura around his tusks for emphasis “... you’ll never be able to touch me.”

“I got pretty close to you a few minutes ago.” Morphan pointed out.

The Walrus gestured to the cracks on the floor caused by him slamming Morphan into it “And you see where that got ya. So even if you get past these guns...” the Walrus pointed to his tusks “... you still will have to get past THESE GUNS!” he then flexed the muscles on his large arms.

“So you’re saying I’m unarmed in a gun fight.” said Morphan.

“I guess so, if you wanted to be poetic.” The Walrus responded “But this aint the time for poetry.”

“I agree!” Morphan then charged forward, the Walrus tried to blast him, but Morphan managed to dodge and deflect all his energy blasts. Morphan quickly got close and engaged the Walrus in close quarters combat. In addition to his fists the Walrus also tried to stab Morphan with his tusks, though Morphan managed to dodge his large spear-like teeth. For a while the fight seemed like it could go either way until they got into a grappling match.

“You know I managed to figure out your weaknesses as well.” Said Morphan as he briefly had the upper hand.

“Weaknes-SES?” the Walrus asked as he managed to overpower Morphan.

“Yeah” Morphan continued as he again gained the upper hand “For starters you need time to charge if your blasts are to do any REAL damage, brief time granted but time which anyone can use to get close to you.” As he spoke he continued to push Walrus down “secondly you can’t use your blast at close range or you risk hurting yourself.”

By now Walrus was almost taken down by Morphans strength, suddenly when it seemed that Morphan had cemented his victory the Walrus smiled “Your right I can’t use my blasts so close without hurting myself...” then he started charging his Aura to its maximum, this caught Morphan by surprise and in his shock loosened his hold momentarily. The Walrus used this brief moment to grab Morphan by the shoulders to hold him in place. As Morphan struggled the Walrus continued to charge his Aura “But to beat you I’ll gladly take a few bumps and bruises.”

“Big Clam Cannon”

BOOOOOOOOM

The resulting indigo explosion propelled both fighters back a good distance, they both managed to slide into ideal positions with mild damage. While Morphan was still woozy from the attack, the Walrus took the opportunity to get ready for his next attack.

He squatted down and clenched his body to charge his aura quickly creating a sphere of indigo Aura between his tusks.

“Oyster Fest”

From out of the sphere came thousands of tiny energy blasts that pelted Morphan relentlessly.

BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG

When the attack was finished Morphan stood rigid and stiff in pain as smoking imprints were left on his body.

The Walrus stood huffing and puffing from the exertion of Aura “(huff) (huff) how’d you like THEM oysters!”

“I didn’t!”

Walrus stood in shock as Morphan revealed himself to be unharmed by Walrus’s attack, the smoke on the imprints having already dispersed “No way! Even if the blasts didn’t pierce his armor the shockwaves should have reduced his innards to mush! Just how strong is this guy?” thought the Walrus nervously.

Without another word Morphan charged forward while the Walrus desperately tried to shoot him, but all the aura he could conjure up only made his tusks flicker.

“Out of ammo.” Said Morphan as he was a few feet in front of Walrus.

POWWWW

Morphan slammed Walrus’s head downward with an elbow smash; the force of the blow caused his tusks to be nailed into the ground. As he struggled to pull himself out of his humiliating position, he snarled and glared at Morphan “Damn you half-breed, damn you to the eternal abyss!”

“You know you’re not the first guy I’ve gone up against who uses “guns” so to speak.” Morphan boasted coldly “With the life I live I doubt you’ll be the last either.” He then charged his aura into his fist for the finisher.

“WAIT, WAIT!” the Walrus pleaded “All right, you win, I admit defeat. Now spare me and I promise to leave you alone. I’m sure it would be no hardship for either of us if we never to see each other again.” He then stretched his hand forward in a friendly manner “What do you say! Get me out of this “position” and let by-gones be by-gones.”

Morphan reached out his hand before drawing it back “No” he said “I can’t risk it. I’ve met too many demons like you before you and you always turn on me.” Morphan prepared his attack.

“I swear in the name of the Doom and the Discarded Gods I won’t harm you!” Walrus practically sobbed “I’ll even do the blood oath, just don’t hurt me.”

Morphan fists unclenched and his face softened before clenching again “No I know your type all too well. Even if you don’t hurt me, you’ll undoubtedly take this loss out on those humans hiding over their or anyone else unfortunate enough to be in your presence at the time. I won’t allow that to happen!”

Realizing his ploy wouldn’t work Walrus tried desperately to remove his tusks from the ground.

“Richter Punch”

SMAAAAASH

The blow to the middle of his face was so powerful that it broke the Walrus’s tusks off in addition to several of his teeth while sending him flying back into the wall, plowing through a slave’s makeshift house.

CRAAAAAAAASH

When Walrus hit the wall, he hit it so hard it left a deep Walrus shaped imprint, he then feel to the ground semi-conscious.

While Walrus lay on his front tusks face bloody, Morphan looked around at the damage the battle caused. To his guilt many of the poorly built shacks that served as the slaves homes where now reduced to even greater rubble, still the slaves themselves weren’t complaining as they continued to cower, unharmed in the room between the Rose Garden and the slaves quarters.

The Walrus’s tusks were still firmly imbedded in the ground, like some sort of monument to his victory.

Eventually he found what he was looking for, a long thin metal column used to hold up a roof of one of the shacks. Morphan then used his strength to bend the column tying up Walrus. Once he was done he lifted Walrus over his head and started to carry Walrus up the stairs.

Before leaving he looked back once out of curiosity only to find that the slaves were still cowering in the previously mentioned area. As far as the slaves were concerned, Morphan defeating the Walrus only proved himself the greater of two evils. Morphan sensed this by the vibes they were giving off and although this was entirely expected it still saddened him to an extent.

Morphan then carried Walrus up the wet stairs; he had to move slowly and carefully to prevent slipping. As the likely result of a concussion Walrus keep singing songs about how he loved to shellfish, which made it hard for Morphan to concentrate.

Eventually Morphan made it to the top of the stairway. First thing he noticed besides the wet floor was that the sprinklers had been turned off.

“Must have run out of water.” Morphan stated to himself, he silently wondered to himself how the slaves would get more water once the base was theirs especially since they were in the middle of a dry canyon in a desert, miles away from civilization. Morphan then discarded such thoughts as they were irrelevant to the current situation.

He found the closest, the same one he got the map from and put Walrus in it. The Walrus sat in the closet bloody face, tied up in metal and deliriously singing songs about how he loved shellfish. Morphan then shut the door then used some aura from his hand to heat up and melt the door knob essentially forcing it shut.

“There you shouldn’t be a threat to anyone in there.” Morphan thought to himself. He then noticed that the controls for the door into the base were destroyed “Odd but that means that no one from the outside is getting in, meaning the slaves should be safe for the time being.” Needing no further motivation Morphan moved up the stairs to help his friends.

Suddenly half way up he started to feel woozy “That’s right I’ve been in this form all day, I often forget how the increased aura takes its toll on my body.” Morphan then started to weigh his options he could stay in his more powerful Demon form in case of future battles, or he could revert to his Half form to conserve energy. Deciding the latter would be safer and that keeping his heritage hidden at this point would be redundant, he decided to revert to his Half form.

Before continuing on Morphan stretched a little now that the extra weight from his armor had been lifted. Feeling good he left.

Meanwhile...

Neko Maneki chased the Carpenter through the halls of the Wonderland Circuses base. Neko had to run carefully so as not to slip on the wet floor, so her speed was hampered. The Carpenter on the other hand thanks to his flying shoes had no such drawback.

He would use Neko’s unsteadiness as an opportunity to try and stab her with his telepathically controlled nails. One would think with their small size and speed in addition to the slippery ground Neko would have difficulty dodging the attacks. But Neko Maneki as a testament to her skill she managed to dodge the nails with little to no difficulty.

“You really think you can beat me with such cheap shots!” Neko Maneki boasted.

“Cheap shots are what I do best!” The Carpenter brags, as he continued to fly forward he patted his pockets “Good still dry!” He thought “I can’t let the codes get damaged by all this water else this will all be for nothing.” He then looked up “Speaking of water guess the sprinklers are finally out soon enough this place will be as dry as a bone, and then those slaves will get what’s coming to them.”

The Carpenter then realized where he was and laughed triumphantly “just around this corner is the vault and once I steal from it I’ll be living on easy street!” He then used a burst of aura from his shoes to increase his speed causing him fly forward and turn the corner.

“Oh no you don’t!” Neko Maneki yelled. She got on her hands and feet and rushed with surge of speed.

“GOTCHA!” she yelled as she grabbed Carpenter by the back of his shirt “You thought you could beat me in a contest of speed did ya! Well ya thought wrong!” Neko Maneki then remained silent waiting to hear what Carpenter would say next, would he beg for mercy, would he try to swindle his way out, would he be defiant, or would he simply insult her in his usual pompous manner. As she waited she was shocked to discover that he did not say anything.

“Carpenter, Hello, hello anyone there?” she shook him hoping to get an answer out of him instead he just floated in his spot silent and rigid. Neko then realized that she didn’t catch Carpenter like she thought.

He stopped moving. Stopped moving in sheer terror over what he saw for leaning next to the vault door was the last demon either of them wanted to see.

“Jabberwocky!”

Elsewhere...

Dormos lay on the ground passed out. Hedgehog, Miss Hare and Mad Hat stood around him in a circle unsure how to react.

Mad-Hat poked Dormos with the tip of his shoe “Looks like he finally tuckered himself out, suppose I can’t really ask for more of him. Well actually I could ask for more, a lot more but that would be cruel.” Mad-Hat sighed heavily before marching back to his console “everything seems under control outside but there are still two other demons in this base that pose a threat to us, we can only hope that Neko and her friends can handle them or we are all sunk.”

“I say we round up the rest of the slaves and take those demons out ourselves.” Said Miss Hare as she grabbed a knife from the table and held it offensively.

“Miss April Blossom Hare, that’s the craziest thing you’ve ever said, and coming from me that’s really something.” Said Mad-Hat “You know as well as I do that a civilian demon is as strong as ten humans. And these bandits are all experienced fighters, well above the civilian level. And even if we both got on our hands and knees and begged the other slaves to fight they’d refuse out of a displeasing but still appropriate sense of fear.”

“But I heard the F-Troop has humans who can go toe-to-toe with the Argus super elite!”

“WE ARE NOT THE F-TROOP!”

 There was a moment of depressed silence as the words sank in.

“Soooo what do we do with Dormos?” Miss Hare asked.

“Let him rest lord knows he deserves it.” said Mad-Hat.

And they did just that for there was nothing else they could really do.

Meanwhile...

Walrus sat tied up in the darkness of the closet, with his face still bleeding and his beloved tusks broken off.

One would think that Walrus would be angry or upset that he lost his tusks. For demons their powers meant everything and there were few things in the Omniverse more damaging for a demon then to lose their powers. Since Walrus’s power revolved around him using his tusks as conduits, losing his tusks was the same as losing his powers.

In spite of this he seemed to be in a good mood as he continued to sing songs about shellfish and how much he loved them. The obvious answer was that the blow to his head left him delirious.

Ignorance is apparently bliss.

Suddenly the door was kicked open.

Walrus stared at the intruder and with a friendly, delirious, almost child-like tone said hello.

A few minutes later...

The Walrus was dead.

Chapter 12: Marshmallows in Milk, Harry Crax vs. the Carpenter

Inside the Wonderland Circus Base, Neko Maneki and the Carpenter stood (or in the Carpenters case floated) in place transfixed as Jabberwocky leaned next to the vault door.

With a twitching eye Jabberwocky stared at his wet silk robe “Did you know that this robe came from a realm called Lunatopia?” Jabberwocky asked his voice in forced out faux-sweetness “Through the native’s eyes, the city for which the realm was named after was the center of the universe, the city of cites, the cornerstone of the world, a shining utopia is what they called it. Of course as far as the army was concerned it was just another town to burn. No the only thing that really separated it from all the other kingdoms that fell beneath them was the silk. Believed by many demons to be the finest their world had to offer. ” At this point Jabberwocky stood up and faced them his rage barley hidden behind his sophisticated smile “Had the idiotic demon who sold this to me knew its true worth I would never be able to afford it, even if I sold everything down to the fillings in my teeth.”

This time he spoke with his rage a bit more obvious “Now because of this little revolution it’s ruined.”

While Carpenter shivered in terror Neko Maneki rolled her eyes “Don’t get hysterical, just dry it off and it will be fine.”

“I AM NOT HERE TO DISCUSS FINE FABRICS WITH YOU HALF BREED WHORE!” after Jabberwocky’s outburst he quickly breathed in to compose himself.

“Then why are you here?” Neko Maneki asked cheekily with hints of genuine curiosity.

“I figured with all the chaos that occurred thanks to the holy water, someone would try to steal from the vault and would you believe it here you two are.”

“Listen my lord I can explain everything...” Jabberwocky managed to silence Carpenter by glaring at him.

“Do you think I am deaf, that I cannot hear what you’re saying behind the corner?” Said Jabberwocky.

“So you heard that?” Carpenter asked timidly.

“I heard enough!” With that Jabberwocky started to move forward.

“WAIT!” yelled Carpenter, Jabberwocky stopped with an annoyed look on his face.

“I admit I planned to steal from your vault.” Carpenter then hide behind Neko and pushed her forward “But so did she! Not only did she a HALF-BREED have the nerve to try and steal from you but she is also the mastermind behind the holy water.”

Jabberwocky raised an eyebrow (or the reptilian equivalent as he did not have literal eyebrows) “Is this true?”

“Not only is it true but I have the proof right here!” yelled the Carpenter as he held up the “I-thingy” “I can show it to you if you’ll let me.”

“Don’t bother!” Neko Maneki yelled, she then walked forward breathed in for a moment before shouting “I admit it! It is all true! Though if you want the whole truth, it was my new friend Morphan and my old friend Mad-Hat who came up with the idea together. At first such an idea clashed with my “honor amongst thieves” philosophy but then Walrus fired me, sending that belief out the window.”

A vein appeared on Jabberwocky’s forehead “Walrus fired you? That’s why you’re doing this?”

“Wars have been started for less.”

Jabberwocky activated his trendels the sharp tips fuming with Aura.

“Seems you have forgotten WHO is in charge! I JABBERWOCKY am the one who decides who does and doesn’t get fired no one else, I decide who lives and who dies! And if anyone disagrees with that then it’s OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!”

“So does this mean I’m not fired?” Neko Maneki asked smugly.

“RAAAAAA!”

SLAAASH

“AHHHHHHH!”

ZOOOOOOOM

Jabberwocky kneeled in pain his trendels lashing uncontrollably, spraying blood like water from hoses. He glared hatefully at Neko Maneki as she flexed her clawed fingers.

As he tried to gain control of his trendels, which was difficult because of the pain he was in, he mentally went over what happened in the last few seconds. When he tried to stab Neko Maneki with Aura powered spikes, she in a burst of movement cut them off; Carpenter then used the chaos as a chance to flee.

“How, when did you get such speed?” Jabberwocky snarled.

“Since always!” Neko Maneki bragged “Remember all those times you disciplined me with those horns and then you thought you were the bee’s knees. Well the truth is all those times I LET you taser me, I could have dodged or cut them off any time I wanted. But I needed a place to stay and you would never have let me in if I did.”

By now the trendels had gone limp and useless, oozing blood into the holy water that had accumulated.

“Ironic isn’t it how a one-trick pony like you, figured I would give you the secrets to becoming the number one bandit in the Null Lands.” Neko Maneki then glared fully at Jabberwocky for the last part “And yet every piece of advice I gave you on how to be a truly great bandit, even though they were taught to me by Siberian Jesus himself, you spat on, mocked and discarded.”

Jabberwocky then roared furiously grabbing the bleeding ends of his trendels and using his Aura to burn therefore cauterize the ends, his determination greater than the pain. His tactic managed to stop the bleeding, once they stopped bleeding they slithered back into his frill. He then stood up to his full height, throwing his robe off showing off the hugely muscular upper half of his body. In addition to being covered in thick gray scales his back was covered in a dozen thick, flat spikes.

Neko was clearly shocked to see that Jabberwocky had more spikes, and that they were a good deal larger than the ones she just cut off.

“You know what half-breed whore!” Jabberwocky gloated “I’ve decided that even ruling the Null Lands isn’t worth dealing with you. After I kill you, I’m going to have to some serious re-staffing because if one weak-ass priest is all it takes to defeat these so-called bandits then there is no way I can become the ruler of the Null Lands.” Jabberwocky then concentrated his Aura into the spikes on his back, this caused them to glow bright yellow before expanding and sharpening, soon all the spikes became a foot long and a sharp cone shape. They then dislocated from his back, not on thin little trendels like the ones from before but large thick barbed tentacles of tar black flesh.

“So Half-breed whore are you ready to meet your fate!” Jabberwocky boasted as he positioned his Aura charged horns to attack.

Neko Maneki crossed her arms, shook her head and clicked her tongue “You know its real funny how many demons I’ve met who say things along those lines. And I always enjoy the look on their faces when they realize...” she then scratched her claws along the metal wall creating a quick burst of sparks “... that my “fate” is to kick their asses!”

Neko Maneki then hissed loudly as she charged forward, while Jabberwocky extended his tentacles with Aura infused tips.

Elsewhere...

Carpenter landed to catch his breath, the excessive use of Aura left him winded “I should have known that if the holy water wasn’t strong enough to deal with me, then there is no way it would be enough for Jabberwocky, after he kills that half-breed I’ll be next.” he looked around to see where he was and found out that in his haste to get away he had managed to float close to the hangar bay “Well this is quite a turn of events, now I can just hijack the JubJub, stash it with as much valuables as I can find, and then fly on out of here.”

“Not so faaaaaast!” yelled Harry Crax as he ran out of the supposedly broken staircase but in his haste he nearly slipped on the wet floor but managed to regain his balance and dignity.

“You again!” yelled Carpenter in shock “That staircase is supposed to be broken how did you manage use it safely.”

“Oh I wouldn’t say I got up here safely.” Harry Crax boasted “a bit of jumping, a bit of climbing and a lot of luck. If you played a platform game you know what to expect. Plus there were no sprinklers in there so I didn’t have to worry about holy water or slipping because of it at least not by water, though I suppose there are other ways I could have...”

“Hold on a minute!” Carpenter interrupted “I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around the idea of someone of your girth being capable of making such feats of athleticism.”

Harry Crax put his knuckles on his hips, puffed out his chest and laughed loudly before saying “I wouldn’t expect a villain like you to understand, but with the power of the bond of friendship I have acquired with Morphan and Neko and those slaves living in that tower thingy... I CAN DO ANYTHING!” In Harry's mind he said it in front of a truly epic background.

 “...”

“...”

“...”

“AHA the sheer awesomeness of my speech has left you dumbfounded huh!”

“Yeah whatever floats your boat.” The Carpenter said sarcastically “Look time is precious, I can’t waste it to kill you so MOVE-ASIDE!”

Harry Crax smiled and waved his finger confidently “You are not in any position to make demands.”

“Oh really,” the tone of the Carpenter proved he was doubtful “Alright stupid indulge me, what is your oh-so-great advantage.”

Harry Crax smiled proudly as if he had already won the fight “You think I wasn’t paying attention to your conversation with Neko downstairs, I heard that I have just as much Aura as you do, AND I’m at least twice your size, AND I am fighting for the sake of my friends. SO THERE!” he then blew an audacious raspberry.

The Carpenter rolled his eyes “Tell me stupid, have you ever been in a fight?”

“Sure, bullies used to pick fights with me all the time.” Harry answered half causally, half proudly.

“Did you WIN any of those fights?” the Carpenter smiled anticipating what Harry’s answer would be.

“UHHHHHHH, yes, yes I did, I beat all the bullies, wasn’t long before every bully around was scared of me, yup Harry the uhhhh Bully Buster is what the used to call me.”

“Seriously?” the Carpenter asked with a cocky smile.

“Alright fine so I got my ass kicked daily, what difference does it make?”

The Carpenter chuckled maliciously “Your a city demon aren’t you, born and raised in one of the many suburbs of Hellengaruo. You city demons, especially Hellenites, had it so easy before the war. And with the war you have it even easier. You soak up all the riches and resources from all the worlds your oh-so precious army conquers, all the while growing bloated and soft. Like marshmallows in milk.”

Harry couldn’t help but think back to his childhood, where he would put marshmallows in his cereal, loving how the marshmallows would taste mixed with milk. Harry shook his head to get his mind to refocus on the situation at hand.

“But the empire tells us that everyone prospers from the conquests rich and poor?” Harry said sincerely.

“If the poor are prospering as well as the rich why are bandit groups around?”

“Well according to what they teach us bandits are nothing but evil demons, either too immoral or too incompetent to get decent jobs in the city.”

The Carpenter burst out laughing “If you honestly believe everything that the Empire wants you to believe, then I bet you also believe that the thirteen generals are gods of the Omniverse, or that Emperor Tasin is the Doom incarnate. That little bit of propaganda may be true for some bandits but the rest of us have reasons so varied so complicated that it would take hours to explain them all, and days to make someone like you understand. ”

“You know just because you’re a murdering, thieving, scheming outlaw, doesn’t mean you can rude.” Harry Crax said while pouting.

Carpenter stood dumbfounded once again before shaking his head in annoyance “You know what I’ve wasted far too much time talking to you...” the Carpenter then started to float with glowing nails floating out of his pockets “... fortunately during our little chat I have managed to rest up enough to use my Aura to its fullest.”

He then telepathically pointed his nails at Harry.

“NOW DIE!”

His nails flew forward stabbing Harry in several vital spots on his torso, the Carpenter smirked in satisfaction.

“Not today bub!” yelled Harry Crax very much alive. Before the nails hit Harry Crax used his hair manipulation powers to cause the fur on his body to puff up like that of an afro.

“WHAT, HOW?” Carpenter looked to the floor to see his nails on the floor; he activated them and tried to stab Harry Crax again only to realize that his fur had become so springy that the nails would literally bounce right off.

Harry’s arms which were previously bare and scaly were now covered in the afro like fur, he even had large afros were his hands were giving him the appearance of having furry boxing gloves. His large once shaggy moustache was also springy and he even had a little bush like afro were his bald spot used to be “You like what you see, I have been theorizing a move like this for some time but this is the first time

I’ve actually used it, you villain should be honored to face the wrath of my Poodle Sponge Super Armor!”

“...”

“...”

“Poodle Sponge Super Armor?”

“Cut me slack mon, it’s hard to come up with cool attacks names on the spot.” Harry Crax then composed himself to boast some more “Not that it matters what it’s called because pretty soon, AAAAAAH!”

Harry held up his arms to block his face, and it was a good thing he did because had he not, the nails would have gone straight through his eyes. While Harry was still blocking his face, the Carpenter flew forward and rammed himself headfirst into Harry’s gut. His super springy hairstyle caused him to ricochet backwards till he hit a wall causing him to once again bounce forward. The Carpenter managed to dodge by casually moving to the left.

Harry continued to bounce for a while before he luckily managed to land on his feet, Harry tired to turn around but found it surprisingly difficult to walk “Maybe making my feet springy wasn’t such a good idea after all.”

“As I was going to say before we “strayed” off topic that the major advantage I have over you, is that you city demons live a lap of luxury never having to fight for anything, unlike here in the Null Lands where combat skill is key to survival. That also makes your other two so-called advantages absolutely worthless, JUST-LIKE-YOU!” The Carpenter laughed arrogantly while flying away.

“Your not getting away from me!” so Harry Crax waddled forward full of courage and determination. In his haste it did not occur to him to simply deactivate the fur on his legs so could walk properly.

As managed to finally enter the hangar bay, only to discover the Carpenter had already activated the Shrink-ray and was aiming it right at Harry.

The Carpenter smiled maliciously as he turned on the blue vial before laughing “Soon you’ll be a small insignificant speck of a demon, well even more of one then you are now.” By now the Shrink-Ray was fully charged “By this time tomorrow I will have cleaned you off my shoe, so any last words?”

“Would begging for my life help?” Harry Crax asked sheepishly.

The Carpenter shook his head with a violent grin.

“Then I got nothing do your worst.” Harry then covered his eyes in anticipation.

ZAAAAAAAP

Harry stood in place his body smoking as a result of the beam; he nervously uncovered his eyes to see how the world changed now that he was shrunk.

Only to find that he was the same size.

Carpenter stood eyes bulging and mouth wide in shock before firing again.

ZAAAAAAAP

Once again the blue lightning bolt like beam didn’t do anything to Harry.

ZAAAAAAAP

ZAAAAAAAP

Carpenter continued to blast Harry Crax with the beams only to discover that they didn’t work. In fact they didn’t even cause him any real pain despite its loud zapping.

Carpenter started banging on the machine asking why it wasn’t working.

“You haven’t figured it out yet smart guy!” Harry Crax stated “That Shrink-ray doesn’t work on living things but THIS always works.” Harry jumped into the air landing on his feet, thanks to the bouncy fur he sprung forward, with his foot outstretched, doing some poor kiai.

 The Carpenter then flew out of the way, dodging the attack. Harry landed and managed to bounce in place to keep his balance “Well that always works in stories!”

The Carpenter flew to get as much distance, before throwing more nails at Harry, Harry seeing his opponent bounced towards him, the nails bouncing off his fur. Harry Crax managed to clothesline Carpenter as he bounced past; this caused Carpenter to spin in a comical fashion as Harry landed for his next attack.

BOING

POW

Harry Crax bounced towards Carpenter and hit him in the beak. The blow itself did little damage but his spring fist-afros bounced Carpenter back till he hit a wall.

SLAM

Harry Crax landed and bounced again to attack, but the Carpenter flew off the wall. Harry Crax however reacted quickly and bounced off the wall grabbed Carpenter in the air and body slammed him into the ground.

SLAAAAM

The resulting impact caused Harry to bounce so high that he bounced off the ceiling back onto Carpenter again.

SLAAAAM

This repeated for a while.

BOING

SLAAAAM

BOING

SLAAAAM

BOING

SLAAAAM

BOING

The Carpenter then managed to come to and fly out of the way, this caused Harry to hit the ground and bounce back to the ceiling, then the floor then the ceiling again, like a bouncy ball.

Carpenter lay down on his hands and knees and watched the comical spectacle as he waited for feeling to come back into his bruised body.

“How is this possible, I THE CARPENTER one of the elites of the renowned Wonderland Circus Bandit troupe am being beaten by an idiot bus driver? What is even worse is that he is defeating me using completely ridiculous tactics?”

“I already TOLD you, THE reason YOU cannot BEAT me IS because I am FIGHTING for OTHERS which WILL always MAKE someone STRONGER than THOSE fighting FOR themselves!”

Not only did the Carpenter find Harry’s speech stupid on its own, but due to his bouncing the volume would change repeatedly, making it sound even stupider “Winning because he is fighting for others, ridiculous, only proves how little he knows about fighting, I have personally defeated several demons that were “fighting for others” and they were of a greater caliber then he will ever be.” He then activated his nails “Doesn’t matter he’ll be dead soon anyways.” Carpenter then stabbed his nails into a small Pairship.

“Mon I’m starting to get sick, I wish I could get out this bouncy loop.”

SMAAAAASH

The Carpenter used his psychically controlled nails to lift the Pairship and hit Harry with it as if it were a battering ram.

“I should have wished for omniversal peace!” Harry yelled. The resulting impact sent Harry to bounce of a wall, the Carpenter then used the Pairship to whack Harry back into the wall like a tennis ball.

SMAAAAASH

BOING

SMAAAAASH

BOING

SMAAAAASH

BOING

While continuing to use the Pairship as a tennis racket of sorts, he activated more nails and stabbed them into two extra Pairships. The Carpenter then moved the Pairships crushing Harry between all three of them.

SMAAAAAASH

The Carpenter then removed the Pairships and slammed them into Harry again.

SMAAAAAASH

He then repeated the attack again and again damaging the Pairships in the process. He would do this so fast that Harry would remain in the air dazed and helpless.

SMAAAAAASH

SMAAAAAASH

SMAAAAAASH

SMAAAAAASH

The Carpenter then compacted the three Pairships with Harry in-between them. Satisfied with his work he dropped the metal heap and removed his nails.

“There that should do.” He said smugly.

BANG

Harry Crax managed to punch a hole allowing him to stick his head, left arm and part of his upper body out of the heap; he then proceeded to gasp for air.

“YAHHOOOOO my Poodle Sponge... no, no my Ultra Plushy, yeah that’s much better, my Ultra Plushy armor is more powerful then I imagined, why I hardly felt those Pairships at all.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” Carpenter yelled dumbfounded.

“That’s right bird-boy your attack had no effect on me...” Harry then tried to break out of the heap “... as soon as I get out of this you are in a realm of pain.”

As Harry struggled to break out of the heap, Carpenter stood slack-jawed wondering how in the name of the Doom the bus driver survived for so long, he then noticed that the fuel tanks for one of the Pairships was exposed.

Already hatching a plan he stabbed the fuel tank with a nail before flying behind the JubJub. “Too bad I am only skilled enough to do this with one nail.” He thought to himself.

While safe behind the Pairship he concentrated his Aura into the nail, this eventually caused a burst of green fire like Aura to surround the nail.

KAOOOOOOOOM

The fire like Aura caused the engine to explode.

“Wow that explosion was a lot bigger than I thought it would be!” said the Carpenter as he hid from the explosion and the shrapnel “Well the important thing is that idiot is dead.”

As the ringing in his ears died down he started to hear a faint screaming. As he peaked over the JubJub he looked to the smoking rubble to find Harry running around screaming with all his fur on fire. The sound of his screaming growing steadily louder as Carpenters hearing returned.

Suddenly Harry stopped running; he then shed off his burning fur while growing a new batch of fur. This happened so fast that it looked like the burning fur “popped off” revealing a second batch of fur. He then proceeded to stomp the burning fur out in a frenzied manner.

When the burning fur was no more he breathed in deeply to calm himself “OK Harry the fires out, now is the time to focus on the fighhhhhh ayyyyyy I forgot about the flaming vehicles.” Harry rushed to the flaming vehicles and ran around them in a frenzy wondering how to put them out “Fire extinguishers, where are the stinking fire extinguishers, this place has got to have...”

“THAT IS ENOUGH!”

Harry looked to the source of the yelling to find the Carpenter high in the air green Aura seeping from his body in rage.

“I cannot fathom how you are still alive! Cannot-Fathom-It! Is it that you are so stupid that you don’t even know how to DIE?”

“I already told you the reason that you cannot win and it is because...”

“YEAH YEAH I heard you, your “fighting for others” nonsense. If being in the Null Lands teaches you anything, it that morals or philosophies do not affect battle at all. In the end it comes victory goes to the demons stronger END-OF-STORY!”

“Then obviously I am the stronger demon because I am winning!” Harry bragged.

“No you are not winning you are surviving; now it’s about time you learned the difference between the two.”

“Oh have you already forgotten about this!” Harry Crax struck a quick series of ostentatious poses “Ultra Plushy Armor Activate!”

POOF

On command his fur puffed up into its plushy like state.

“That sounded a lot cooler in my head but anyways with my, Ultra Plushy aint working out, Mega Afro Mode your little nails can’t hurt me, so what do you plan to do.”

The Carpenter smiled arrogantly before flying and then landing next to the Shrink-ray.

“Did that blow to the head I gave you give you memory problems? You already tried using that thing on me it doesn’t work on living things remember?”

‘Who said I was using it on you?” As the Carpenter said that he turned on the Red veil causing the machine to glow with an eerie red color, the red light making the Carpenter look particularly malevolent. He then moved his nail till it was floating in front of the Shrink-ray before activating it.

ZAAAAAAAP

After blasting the nail with the blood-red energy of the Shrink-ray the nail became the size of a javelin. Harry watched in horror as the Carpenter did it again and again until he had a dozen or so giant nails floating by him.

He then launched one forward although Harry managed to dodge it, the giant nail managed to tear out some fur along the way. Harry looked in shock to see part of his Mega Afro mode had been pierced then to the nail that had managed to pierce itself through the thick metal wall all the way to its end.

As a ploy to intimidate Harry the Carpenter telekinetically pulled the nail out as slowly and with as much scraping as possible. Once it was out he moved it to hover by himself with the rest of his nails and threw them at Harry laughing manically.

BOING

Harry used his springy fur to jump out of the way in time, causing the giant nails to be imbedded into the floor.

The Carpenter was not the least bit discouraged as he managed to easily pull the nails out and continue to through them at Harry, all the while laughing sadistically.

For a short but intense while the Carpenter threw the nails at Harry only for him to bounce away. In the chaos one of the giant nails hit a Pairship.

“Explosion Attack!”

The giant nail then unleashed a burst of green Aura which caused the Pairship to explode.

KABOOOOOOOOM

Fortunately Harry was far enough away to avoid any real damage from the explosion, including shrapnel.

“Really Explosion Attack that’s the best you can come up with, I tried to make my attack names sound a little more original...”

“SHUT UP!” the Carpenter yelled as he threw another giant nail at Harry.

Although it was far from graceful Harry managed to dodge it all the same, though the giant nail managed to pierce another Pairship which thanks to the Carpenters Explosion attack caused it to blow up.

This continued on for a while Harry bounced desperately all over the place dodging not only the giant nail but also the ensuing explosions that was caused when they stabbed into the Pairships. During the chaos Harry caught a glimpse of the Carpenter, saw the way he was wildly swinging his arms to help control the nails, saw the look on the Carpenters face.

After seeing that Harry Crax got a hardened look on his face, he then started to bounce around with less desperation and more determination. The Carpenter did not notice this in his homicidal adrenaline rush.

In the seconds that followed the Carpenter managed to destroy all the Pairships and a small portion of the walls. It became so that Harry not only had to dodge the giant nails he also had to watch were he landed as the ground become covered with sharp and/or flaming wreckages.

In the chaos the Carpenter managed to accidently stab through the switch which opened and closed the hangar door, this caused the hangar door to open letting out all the smoke that had accumulated.

Harry growing fatigued with all the jumping around hide inside the JubJub.

“THAT WON’T SAVE YOU!”

The Carpenter stabbed the JubJub hoping to skewer Harry inside, unable to see where Harry was hiding could only stab randomly allow Harry to dodge without moving “Just a little longer!” Harry thought.

“EXPLOSION!”

KABOOOOOOOOM

The Carpenter activated one of his giant nails causing an explosion within the JubJub. The explosion managed to send Harry bouncing about.

“EXPLOSION!”

KABOOOOOOOOM

“EXPLOSION!”

KABOOOOOOOOM

This went on for a while till the explosions tore the innards of the JubJub. It quickly became so that the JubJub collapsed in a heap of broken metal.

The Carpenter stood in place exhaling and inhaling loudly as the explosion attacks exerted a good deal of Aura “Finally (huff huff) he-is-dead!”

“Guess again bird-boy!”

Carpenter looked to see that Harry Crax was in-fact alive and well standing in front of the collapsed JubJub, his springy fur coat now covered in ash and grim, his usually jovial face looking its most serious.

“How, how, how, HOW, HOW!”

“I managed to control myself and eventually bounce out of the JubJub after the first explosion; you were so blinded by your desire to destroy me that you didn’t notice.”

“THAT CAN BE EASILY REMEDIED!” At his command the Carpenters giant nails started to move out of the JubJubs remains... only to stop half way. The Carpenter stood confused before trying to move them again the nails would glow but only briefly, the more Carpenter tried the weaker the glow got eventually they stopped glowing all together.

“I don’t understand what’s going on (gulp, gulp)...” suddenly Carpenter vomited a mass of blood and phlegm, Carpenter stared at the pile of fluids in terror and confusion.

“What’s happening to me?” Carpenter then had a horrifying epiphany “Aura Overdose!”

“That’s right Aura Overdose!” said Harry Crax “I saw your face earlier and could tell that you were pushing yourself too hard, after that I knew all I had to do was keep bouncing about and eventually your body would break down.”

“No I refuse to accept this!” Carpenter then threw up again, this time as a result of over exerting his body he collapsed and landed on his back-side.

Harry Crax deactivated his puffy fur “I no-longer need any Aura to defeat you.” He said as he charged towards Carpenter.

Carpenter tried to crawl away but it was for naught as Harry Crax quickly got on top of him, while straddling him he proceeded to punch Carpenter in the face.

POW

POW

POW

POW

POW

When he was done the Carpenter was beneath him unconscious, face bloody, beak slightly cracked, eyes rolled back.

Harry Crax stood up put his fists to his face and roared in victory, or so it would seem but it quickly became obvious he was roaring in pain as the punches hurt his knuckles.

So it came to be Harry Crax stood over his defeated adversary, in a room full of destroyed vehicles, burning wreckages and deep holes in the wall blowing feebly on his throbbing knuckles.

“You still alive jerk?” Harry Crax asked as he poked Carpenter with his foot Carpenter groaned “I’ll take that as a yes. So you said demons like me were marshmallows in milk huh, well this marshmallow just milked you.”

A breeze blew in from the opened hatch “Good thing no one was around to hear that?” Harry then thought for a moment about marshmallows and how they got on to that subject during the fight “You know what in honor of my first true victory I shall name my mode... MARSHMALLOW MODE! It’s got a certain ring to it.”

Carpenter then groaned again this time louder. For what reason it was hard to tell.

Chapter 13: Secrets Reveled, Neko Maneki vs. Jabberwocky

POW

Jabberwocky punched Neko Maneki in the face, the force from the impact sent her flying backwards till she managed to flip and land safely on the wet ground. After she wiped the small bit of blood off her mouth she had to jump to avoid Jabberwocky’s horn tipped tentacles.

When the horns stabbed into the ground the electricity like Aura zapped the ground, Neko Maneki managed to stay away from the electrified water by stretching her limbs out thus keeping her on the ceiling. Once the Aura had passed, Jabberwocky moved the tentacles back into place so that they were slithering above him like giant snakes.

She then landed and struck a battle ready pose, she put on a brave face even though she was clearly fatigued; Jabberwocky on the other hand hardly seemed tired at all.

“Those hornacles...”

“Hornacles?” Jabberwocky asked.

“That’s what I am calling those horny tentacle thingies.” Neko answered “Anyways I can’t help but wonder how is that they have electrified the floor like a dozen times since this fight began and yet they never seem to affect you.”

Jabberwocky responded by laughing arrogantly and flexing his muscles “My body is so strong that a puny current like that does about as much damage to me as static cling from a sock. So if you plan to use my own electric Aura against me you’ve got another thing coming.”

“I bet those hornacles could hurt you if I shoved them up your ass.” Neko Maneki said sharply. 

“You wouldn’t be the first to try!” he then sent his newly dubbed hornacles to stab her.

Neko Maneki dodged the hornacles for a while. While jumping about she tried to cut the horn off one of the ones passing her by.

ZAAAAAAAP

Once the electricity wore off she jumped to get out of range of the hornacles, once she was a safe distance away she shook her numb hand to get the feeling back.

“Good thing you were in the air when you tried that, had you been touching the water you’d have been fried.” Jabberwocky mocked “You should know by now that the barbs are not for show, they allow the whole “hornacles” to be charged.” He sent a charge of static Aura through the barbs for emphasis “I can assure you there are no weak points for you to exploit.” 

“Sorry I couldn’t hear you from all the way over there, why don’t you come over here and say that to my face.” She then hissed loudly to goad him.

“Only you would remain cocky in such a predicament.” Jabberwocky spat “You’re useless at long range and with my hornacles you will never get close enough.”

“Then I will get rid of the hornacles!” she yelled.

Jabberwocky laughed arrogantly “You already tried that; unless you can endure the voltage produced by my Aura you’ll never be able to accomplish that.”

“Then that’s what I’ll do I’ll endure that voltage.”

Jabberwocky looked at Neko’s face to see if she was bluffing, he could tell that she was dead serious even from the distance apart. Sick of the half-demon confidence, he sent one of his hornacles forward. Neko caught one with a bare-handed blade bloke of sorts.

ZAAAAAAAAP

She stood there with the electric Aura flowing through her with the water beneath her feet helping to conduct it. Suddenly she shouted at the top of her voice in exertion and threw the spike into the air.

Jabberwocky, who moments ago thought Neko would get electrocuted to death, was caught completely off-guard and stood transfixed as a result.

While it was in the air she grabbed the electric charged horn-tip and stabbed it into the wet ground, she then pounded it in a few times to nail it in.

POW

POW

POW

Once he came back to his senses, Jabberwocky tried to pull the hornacle out, realizing it was stuck he deactivated the Aura to conserve power. Confused and frustrated over the turn of the events Jabberwocky increased the Aura into his remaining hornacles increasing their voltage; he then sent them after Neko.

Neko Maneki eventually managed to dodge, grab, and then impale each of the horns into the walls, floor and ceiling.

POW

POW

POW

POW

POW

POW

Eventually all the horns were imbedded into the ground, walls and or ceiling “How did you survive such an amount of voltage, half of that was enough to kill any regular demon, so a half-demon...”

“I already told you, I said I would endure.” On closer inspection, Jabberwocky realized that the voltage had left Neko’s skin bright red, swollen and had tiny burn scabs here and there “One of the advantages of being a half-demon is that you learn to endure pain.”

Jabberwocky snarled in a beastly fashion.

“Don’t get so mad, after all you and your lackey’s help contribute to my extensive history of enduring.” Neko Maneki then clenched her fists “Let’s see if you can take it as well as you can dish it out.” She then charged forward.

Jabberwocky deactivated his hornacles electricity, then pulled hard essentially sling-shooting him forward.

Once they clashed they got into a furious close ranged fist-fight. Neko Maneki’s blows were fast and relentless, but Jabberwocky’s thick scaly body made it hard for her to do any real damage. Jabberwocky’s attacks on the other hand although comparatively slower and easier to dodge did great damage the few times they did hit.

POWWWWW

Neko’s fist collided with his palm.

POWWWWW

Jabberwocky’s other fist collided with Neko’s palm.

For a while they tried to overpower the other by pushing the others fists, their sense of bravado edging them on. The fight quickly turned to Jabberwocky’s favor as he slowly started to overpower Neko.

“And here you thought up-close and personal would give you an edge,” Jabberwocky mocked “I guess this means I got you beat at both long range and short range.”

Neko Maneki said nothing.

“Finally realized you never stood a chance huh!”

Neko Maneki said nothing.

“What’s the matter got nothing smart to say half-breed whor...” before he could finish Neko Maneki jumped back, this caused Jabberwocky to stumble forward, before he could regain balance Neko Maneki jumped forward grabbed Jabberwocky by the frill and head butted him.

SMAAAAAASH

The resulting impact shattered the gem on his forehead and even dug some small shards into him.

The blow to the head left them both woozy, but Neko Maneki through sheer force of will manage to attack Jabberwocky with a barrage of half-blind attacks in spite of her wooziness. The onslaught of attacks managed to push Jabberwocky back. When she regained her senses her attacks become more focused and stronger. She ended her assault with a punch to the neck.

As a reflex Jabberwocky grabbed his throat and started to breath heavily from the attack.

As he stood hunched over, winded and struggling to breath, Neko Maneki pulled back her left hand and concentrated her Aura into her palm; this caused glowing yellow patches to show up on her palm, the glowing patches looked like paw-pads. Once her Aura was significantly charged she hit Jabberwocky in the chest with a glowing palm strike.

“Cat-Paw Cannon”

BANNNNG

The attack left a small but powerful explosion that sent Jabberwocky flying backwards, he flew back so fast that it dislodged his horns from where-ever they were imbedded.

He then landed on the wet floor semi-conscious with his hornacles in heap.

Neko Maneki stood holding her throbbing left arm “The recoil on that attack is a real bitch.”

“WOW so that’s your power!”

Neko startled, looked to the source of the sound to find it was Harry who spoke. Harry had no visible injuries though his fur could have been covering his injuries.

“When did you get here Harry?” Neko asked somewhat embarrassed at being caught by surprise.

“Right before you blasted Jabble-jibbel-jubble-jabble, whatever. I never would have guessed your power was that you could shoot energy blasts.”

“That’s not a power that’s a skill.” Neko informed, with her adversary defeated she no longer felt any sense of urgency.

“What’s the difference?” Harry asked.

Neko slapped her forehead “You city demons, it really says something about their education system that I who has never been “formally” educated know more than a demon that has been “fully” educated.” Neko then looked over Harry “You are fully educated right; you’re not still in elementary school are you.” 

“Make jokes all you want because I’ve got...” Harry then lifted up the Shrink-Ray which he was carrying beneath his arm the whole time and showed it to Neko like a trophy “TA-DA HAIL THE CONQURING HERO NA NA NA NA NA...”

Neko shut Harry up by placing her fingers on his lips “I trust you have the codes too.”

“Yep!” Harry said proudly as he drew the piece of paper with the codes on them from... somewhere.

“Wait a minute last I checked Carpenter had the codes, that means...” Neko looked at Harry in awe “You defeated Carpenter, YOU!”

“Yep, and after I looted his unconscious body I used the codes to deactivate the magnets keeping the Shrink-Ray in place then rushed to find this place, so now all we have do is open the vault grab Gale and then the three of us will be in Mirabilis before you know it.”

Neko was silent for a moment “You want me to come to Mirabilis with you and Morphan?”

“Of course!” Harry answered in a very casual way, completely unable to read to atmosphere.

“And BOTH of you would be OK with having a BANDIT as a traveling companion?” She asked, now more skeptical then hopeful.

“I can see the flaw in that logic, but then ever since I first came into the Canyon I haven’t done a lot of “logical” things, then again coming into Labirinth Canyon in the first place was not very logical.” Harry Crax then focused his gaze back on Neko “So to sum up yes I will be fine with you as a traveling companion, and even if I wasn’t I’m a bus driver, it’s kind of my job to get people where they want to go.”

Neko chuckled lightly to herself “I suppose Morphan would want me around, what with the two of us being half demons.”

“Actually I don’t think that’s the issue.” Harry said with a thoughtful face “From what I’ve seen of Morphan he seems to be the type of guy who helps people just for the sake of helping.”

“WHAT A FOOL!”

Neko and Harry looked to the source of the voice to find that Jabberwocky had found his second wind and was currently getting up.

“Helping sapients for the sake of helping, what utter nonsense such a philosophy will only lead to being abused and taken advantage off.” Jabberwocky continued, his hornacles poised for battle.

“Sapients?” Harry asked.

“Don’t you know anything?” Neko asked frustrated “Ever heard the term sapient life form?”

“No”

 “By the abyss, Sapient is the general term used for sentient beings.” Neko answered in a frustrated tone, she could tell be the look on Harry’s face that he still didn’t quite get it “You know Demons, humans, half-demons and all the other intelligent life forms across the Omniverse.”

“Ohhhh got it!” Harry Crax then took the codes and hid them somewhere on his body while gently placing the Shrink-Ray down “So I take it we’ll still have to deal with this clown before we can leave.”

“Planning on double-teaming me huh?” said Jabberwocky “For me two opponents means two corpses to bury, even in the wrecked state I am in now I can easily take on ten of you.”

Neko Maneki struck a battle ready pose only for Harry to move forward “Don’t worry I’ll take it from here.” He bragged.

“SO you think you’re a brave knight saving a helpless princess are you.” Neko scolded, un-willing to accept his help and put himself in danger.

“Actually I think of myself as friend helping a friend out.”

Neko was briefly shocked by his kindness.

“No offense but you look and smell like a burnt tomato,” at Harry’s comment Neko sniffed herself out of curiosity “I doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you had quite the struggle, so take a load off you’ve earned it.”

“Marshmallow Mode Activate!” at his command Harry’s fur puffed up to become afro-like.

“You actually think any of that is going to make a difference.” Jabberwocky asked skeptical about his newest opponent’s abilities.

“Laugh at me if you want, but in the end I shall have the last laugh for you see this is the mood in which I defeated Carpenter in. TAKE THIS!” Harry Crax then bounced causing his springy fur to propel him forward in an epic pose.

Before Harry could get close, Jabberwocky wrapped one of his hornacles around Harry stopping him. Harry now as helpless as a mouse in the grip of a serpent was completely silent in awe and humiliation over how easily he was subdued.

“It was foolish of you to put me and Carpenter in the same league.” Jabberwocky said smugly.

“Squeeze me if you like but as long as I am in my Marshmallow mode you can’t hurt me.”
SQUEEEEEZE

“Scratch that you can hurt me! But at least you won’t be able to break any bones!”Although his tone was brave but his eyes were bulging and his voice was squeaky making him look and sound quite comical. Although one could not tell because of his fur his face was quickly turning purple. Plus the barbs poking him were adding to the pain, it was only thanks to his fur puffy state that prevented them from piercing his flesh.

“I can keep this up all day, how long can you keep up that... what did you call it Marshmallow mode. And even if I can’t crush you I can still suffocate you, or fry you with my Aura.” He gave Harry a quick zap as a demonstration, and then Jabberwocky put on a mockish thoughtful expression “So how to kill you, crush you, choke you or fry you. Thing is I do those all the time, NO in honor of the recent “ordeals” I have been though I feel a special form of murder is required.” As Jabberwocky monologue he kept his hornacle wrapped around Harry tight enough to cause him pain but not tight enough to cause him to suffocate (as much) “Time to show you my secret skill, the skill that allowed me to become the bandit lord I am today.” At his command one of his hornacles started to cackle with a high amount of Aura then a small dagger sized blade of pure yellow Aura appeared at the tip.

Harry’s already bulging eyes opened even wider at the sight “Aura Manifestation? To be able to make Aura into a solid stable form? That should only be possible for demons with that specific power? Is this his true power if so what was all stuff before?”

“I can see in your eyes that you are quite confused by what you see, I call it my Vorpal Blade, no more explanation then that is needed after all what good is that knowledge to a DEAD DEMON!”

He then threw Harry to the ground and then stepped on him keeping him in place. Harry who was too dazed from the near suffocation could only lay gasping for air beneath his foot.

“NO!”

Neko Maneki jumped towards Jabberwocky to try and stop him.

STAB

Jabberwocky used the moment for a sneak stab directly through Neko’s gut.

ZAAAAAAAAAP

In a loud but brief instant Neko was completely fried by the Vorpal blade. Jabberwocky threw her charred body where it landed a distance away in a heap. He then slowly walked towards her, till he was standing over her, he looked down on her body undisturbed by the smell of blackened skin, opened wounds and burnt organs.

Drunk on victory he started to laugh maniacally and started to stomp her body repeatedly.

“Not so high and mighty now are you! Even with the teachings of Siberian Jesus a half-demon is nothing but a half-demon!”

Harry was so shocked by the turn of events that he lost control of his “Marshmallow mode” causing his fur to revert to its original state. He lay for a while on his hands and knees with his soaked fur watching as Jabberwocky laughed manically.

 When he was done he turned to Harry and swung his Vorpal blade in an intimidating manner before saying “Your turn.”

Overcome with grief and fury Harry charged towards Jabberwocky swinging his fists wildly, roaring profanities such as “Archangel” and other such derogatory terms.

Jabberwocky just stood and took the blows, knowing in advance that his attacks were too weak to be worth dodging or defending, all the while taking pleasure in his enemy’s helplessness.

Harry just continued to punch Jabberwocky till his fists were numb, soon his anger turned to sorrow and he started to sob while hitting Jabberwocky with feeble attacks.

“Tell me why are you so upset?” Jabberwocky asked, there was no sympathy in his voice only curiosity and contempt.

“You killed my friend what kind of demon wouldn’t be sad? (Sniff) (Sniff)”

Jabberwocky was perplexed by Harry’s answer “How long have you known that half-breed?”

“Since this morning, I guess.”

Jabberwocky stood blinking for a few moments before bursting out laughing “You mean to tell me that you are actually sad for a half-breed you haven’t even known for a day!”

“A day is all you need to make a friend!”

“You actually consider that thing a friend!” Jabberwocky started to laugh even harder.

“Go ahead and laugh, what do you know.”

“What do I know you ask? You seem to forgot that the half-breed was my subordinate I have worked with her on many occasions so I in-fact know more about her then you do. For example I know she probably dragged you here with some poorly thought out, selfishly motivated plan that would probably leave you screwed in the end.”

Harry was about to deny it, but when he thought it over he realized that was pretty much what happened. Refusing to give Jabberwocky satisfaction he remained silent.

“I can tell by your face that is exactly what happened.” Jabberwocky continued “So even though she got you mixed up in all this madness you still consider her your friend?” He then started to chuckle some more “The only reason I can think of is that you are someone who is desperate for friendship, so desperate and lonely that you’re even willing to befriend a half-breed now that is truly laughable.” Jabberwocky laughed some more for emphasis.

“Oh you think so HUH!”

Jabberwocky stopped laughing.

Harry Crax stood up before continuing “Well I know of a few things myself, I can tell what kind of demon you are, if I am desperate for friendship then you are equally desperate for power.”

“Really?” Jabberwocky sighed and deactivated his Vorpal blade before crossing his arms “I’m guessing this is supposed to be the part where you tell me some sort of enlightening speech so go on humor me.”

Harry was briefly insulted with the way his enemy completely disrespected him but was so pumped for his speech that he got over it and continued “I know all too well where a pursuit of fame and power leads, you spend so much time and effort to obtain it and then it is gone so easily...”

“The same can be said for friendship, as I so recently proved.”

“I thought you were going to let me speak!” Harry yelled annoyed.

“You are lucky you’re not already dead.” Jabberwocky sighed “My apologies please continue.” The lack of genuine remorse verified that he only wished for Harry to finish up.

“OK answer me this when you feel sad and lonely does your power comfort you, does it try to make you happy, when a miserable demon obtains power they become a powerful miserable demon.”

“So you think I am un-happy?” Jabberwocky asked.

“You’re the type that focuses on making others un-happy that is the first sign of a seriously un-happy demon.”

“You know something what you said was really touching.”

Harry Crax smiled pleased with the apparent results of his speech, believing that he had reformed the evil bandit lord.

“Or it would be if the opinion of someone like you held even the tiniest bit of significance.” Jabberwocky then punched Harry in the face.

POW

The blow sent him rolling backwards till he landed on his back, as Harry lay on his back woozy, Jabberwocky reactivated his Vorpal Blade “Well you managed to kill a few minutes so now it is time to kill you!”

Harry gasped in horror as the Vorpal blade moved slowly towards him, in actuality it was moving very fast but only appeared to move slowly in his mind due to the terror.

SLAAAASH

Jabberwocky roared in anguish as he held what was left of his hornacle, when the pain subsided enough that he could see properly he saw that his hornacle was cut almost in half and that the area that was cut was instantly cauterized it leaving his ends a steaming burnt stub.

He looked to the source trying to find out who did but was left in complete shock when he found it was Neko Maneki!

Neko Maneki who a few seconds ago was a burnt corpse was now standing in front of him complexly unharmed with her claws covered in a yellow Aura. The Aura gave her the appearance of wearing glowing claw gloves, as well as making her claws a good deal longer and sharper.

“WHAT? HOW?”

“You are not the only one who has tricks up the sleeve!” Neko Maneki boasted “When I die in battle I can revive myself!”

“What impossible the amount of Aura required to use such a power would be phenomenal. No way a half demon could possess that level of Aura!”

“So tell me Jabberwocky...” Neko Maneki activated her Aura; the yellow Aura seeped off her body and caused the room to heat up and the water near her to boil till it was steaming. The Aura previously around her claw grew till it what almost half her size. Harry and Jabberwocky watched in shock at the amount of power she was showing off “...How do you explain this?”

Then she stopped and grinned triumphantly.

“You have been holding back ALL this time, WHY!”

“If I told you assholes my awesome power you would try to find a way to counter it. Besides my power is most useful when it is a surprise. What better time for a sneak attack then when your opponent think you are dead.”

“Hold on a minute I’m confused?” said Harry “If your power is that you can come back to life, then what about the energy blasts and the energy claws.”

“A power is something that is unique to the demon and the demon alone; a skill on the other hand can be learned by anyone with the talent for it. His Vorpal blade and my cat paw cannon are examples of skills. I told you before how I was an expert on Aura control, when you’re as good at controlling Aura as I am stuff like that comes easy to you.”

“Of course how could I have forgotten, they say experts on Aura control can do those sorts of things?” Harry then looked at Neko “Aura blasts, Aura manifestation, Blood Oaths! This girl is some sort of Aura control master!”

Neko Maneki reactivated her Aura claws in much smaller forms “Attack names are sacred to demons, so as a true bandit I will steal your attack name... from now one I shall call these... VORPAL CLAWS!” she then swung here newly dubbed Vorpal claws about in a dramatic fashion before striking a battle ready pose.

Jabberwocky roared in fury allowing his yellow Aura to go berserk “IT’S...OFF...WITH...YOUR...HEAD!” at the word “head” he concentrated his Aura into the rest his hornacles creating Vorpal blades for each of them.

Neko Maneki and Jabberwocky charged forward, her Vorpal claws clashed furiously with each other. The blade fight was fast and furious with both sides trying desperately to get a fatal blow onto the other.

SLASH

Neko Maneki managed to cut off one of Jabberwocky’s hornacles, the intense pain that followed only further angered Jabberwocky and made him all the more ferocious in his assault.

SLASH

SLASH

SLASH

SLASH

Neko Maneki managed to cut off four more hornacles, eventually she managed to cut off all of his hornacles. Once she was done Jabberwocky looked in furious horror at the smoking end of his hornacles and could do nothing but roar in desperation.

Neko Maneki ended the fight with one final punch in the face.

SMAAAAAAASH

As Jabberwocky fell to the ground his mind drifting in and out of consciousness time seemed to slow as his mind raced. He wondered how he the Bandit Lord of Labirinth Canyon, leader of elite Wonderland Circus bandit troop could have lost to a half-demon. He wished that he had killed her when he first met her instead of taking her under his wing, then he remembered why he hired her in the first place how he hoped that as the last remaining member of Siberian Jesus gang she would know his secrets. Then he remembered how she would tell him his secrets but how they were nonsense about; friendship, trust, and fun, he dismissed such notions as ridiculous and would demand she give him the real secrets. He could remember the looks of contempt and disappointed she would give him.

Jabberwocky laughed at himself mentally “All this time I boasted how I could steal anything I want, yet what I truly wanted was right in front of me all along, it was within my grasp and I refused to acknowledge it.”

SPLASH

Jabberwocky then landed unconscious.

For a while there was a moment of silence broken only by the Neko Maneki’s heavy breathing.

“ALL RIGHT!” Harry gleefully shouted as he wrapped his arm around Neko’s shoulder “You WON, I guess you really are the best bandit in Labirinth Canyon.”

“Was there ever any doubt!” Neko boasted.

“It is a little early to celebrate.” They looked to the source to find it was Morphan as he walked onto the scene.

Neko grinned widely before walking up to him and playfully punching him in the shoulder “And here is Lobster-boy bringing the mood down with his glass-half empty philosophy.”

“Glad to know I was missed!” Morphan said while smirking.

“Well do my eyes deceive me or are you actually smiling?” Neko asked in a playful teasing manner.

“I guess I am!” Morphan stated in a factually manner, he then went into his usual neutral face “So everything all-right on your end.”

“YUP!” Harry Crax said proudly “After I defeated the Carpenter, you know the Carpenter the elite bandit who likes to look down on people, that elite bandit the Carpenter. Right after I defeated him I took the Shrink-ray and the codes.” He presented both objects proudly for emphasis.

“What did you do with our big fat oyster loving friend?” Neko asked seriously.

“If you mean the Walrus, he is crippled, defeated, and alive but not an immediate threat.” Morphan stated, he then looked at Jabberwocky unconscious on the floor with his large tentacle like things cut up with burnt ends and the other halves littered about “I don’t think any explanation is needed for Jabberwocky.”

“All-right now that we are all up to speed, you just give me the codes and...” Neko reached over to grab the codes from Harry only for him to pull them out of her reach.

“NONONONO I got this.” Harry boasted “In one day I helped pirate an airship, I snuck into a fortified lair, helped drive a top level bandit group out of their own base, defeated one of their elites in single combat. AND to top it all off I am pretty sure I just helped free a group of slaves, I am on the roll of my life and I aint stopping now!”

Neko annoyed with Harry’s behavior, turned to Morphan silently asking for his help. Morphan merely shrugged and gestured to let him continue “Fine knock yourself out.” She conceded.

Harry gleefully typed in the code from the sheet before rushing into the vault; the vault was about the size of a small room and was filled to the brim with treasure, a single piece of the more valuable treasure could have set him up for life. He ignored all the other treasure as he searched for his bus. He quickly found it and rushed out to show his friends. Harry stroked the bus against his cheek like a kid with his favorite toy, which was actually quite accurate because the shrunken bus now had the size and appearance of a toy car.

Suddenly Neko marched past Harry carrying Jabberwocky and then dumped his unconscious body into the vault before shutting the door with a violent slam.

SLAM

Morphan and Harry stared at Neko for a while.

“WHAT?” she asked “Do you want him to regain consciousness and then stab us in the back.”

Morphan and Harry remained silent.

“How do we know he won’t just walk out of there?” Harry asked.

“It is a VAULT they are not meant to be opened from the inside!” Neko stated, she was quiet for a moment before continuing “But it would not surprise me if he installed some sort of secret passageway for just such a situation. And if not then I doubt anyone would lose a lot of sleep over him.”

Morphan walked up to the vault door and stared at it “You know it is almost humorous, a demon who devoted his life to avarice could very well die surrounded by his so called treasure. I wonder how long it will be before he is willing to give it all up just to escape.”

Neko stared at the vault just as intently “Knowing Jabberwocky it may be too long before he wishes that.”

Harry stood awkwardly, disbursed by his friend’s subtle but visible malice. Harry decided to change the subject “SOOOOOO... is that it did we win?”
Morphan looked towards Harry and smiled before saying “Yes we won!”

Chapter 14: The End of the Wonderland Circus

One of the demon bandit’s powers was a form of Tetrakinesis that allowed him to create walls of stone out of the ground. This provided convenient cover for the bandits as the White Soldiers continued to blast them. The demons tried to fight back with either projectile based weapons or powers but it proved futile.

The King of Hearts glared at the laser guns furious over how ineffective the bandits fighting was.

BANG

Another demon fell down beside him dead with a steaming hole where her heart once was.

“Most elite bandits in Argus my freaking ass!” King kicked the females corpse in frustration “Can’t any of you idiots do anything right!”

“Well I don’t see you doing anything useful!” yelled another demon; he had to yell particularly loud because of the battle noises.

BOOM

“You want to talk useless try that demon.” King pointed to the demon that created the walls, he was currently on his hands and knees desperately focusing his Aura into the ground, his hands glowing a fierce indigo light, however he had more than enough energy to sneer at King “You have power over earth! Can’t you make ANYTHING other than walls?”

“No I can’t happy!” the Wallmaker snarled.

BOOM

A wall got blasted; it stood for a few seconds till it crumbled to rubble, quick as a flash Wallmaker concentrated a huge burst of Aura creating a new wall complete with a hole to act as window to shoot from. “Besides my walls seem a lot more useful then you at the moment.” Wallmaker replied in an exhausted smart-aleck fashion.

“I am trying to lead you fools!” King retorted “If I had any projectile based powers or weapons I would gladly use them.”

One random demon raised two of his six arms shyly “I have a spare gun you can borr...”

“BUT since I don’t the best I can do is lead you idiots in this battle!”

“By barking orders!” Another demon yelled.

“By barking orders!” King replied curtly, they all groaned “Don’t think I didn’t see you roll your eyes, especially you with six of them.”

“Hey what’s that?” Asked a serpent like demon as he pointed his stinger, all the bandits gazed at where he was gesturing and saw a huge column of smoke rising from a hole in the cliff.

“Is that the hanger door?”

“Why is smoke coming out?”

“Is there a battle INSIDE the base?”

“By the abyss my Pairship?”

“Well BOSS! What do you think is going on?” a demon asked King in half spiteful and half worried manner.

King thought for a moment before answering “Of course, I was a fool to think otherwise, humans lack both the gumption and the intellect for such a feat.” When he was done talking to himself he raised his Kanabo dramatically and shouted “All-right idiots, it appears the masterminds behind this uprising are in the base. Once we get inside we’ll have to get back at them for all the trouble they caused us. But steel yourselves whoever they are they must be devastatingly terrifying opponents!”

Meanwhile inside the base...

“We are the champions my friends BUM BUM

And we’ll keep on fighting till the end DA DA DA DAN

We are the champions, we are the champions

No time for losers cause we are the champions...

OF THE OMNIVERRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSE!”

“WOULD YOU SHUT UP!” yelled Neko “I swear by the abyss, Jabberwocky’s attacks were not as painful as your singing!” with that they continued to walk down the corridors.

“Oh I’m sorry, I don’t have any reason to celebrate.” Harry sneered sarcastically “It's not like we just defeated Argus’s most elite bandit group, saved a group of slaves from a life of terror and abuse and managed to save my precious Gale.” On that note Harry Crax held up his shrunken bus to his face “Who kicked those meanie weenie bandits out of their own base, we did, yes we did yes we did.” Neko stared slack-jawed at Harry as he continued to baby-talk a shrunken bus.

“Seriously Morphan how do you put up with this guy!”

“Hey he’s my friend.” Morphan said warmly “But on a more serious note I don’t think it’s wise for you to let your guard down.”

“But all the bandits have been beaten? What else can they throw at us?” Harry asked.

“All the bandit inside the base have been beaten but we don’t know anything about the bandits outside the base. That’s why were heading toward Mad-Hat to see how things are progressing outside.” Morphan explained.

“OHHHHH… but wait do we really need to worry about those guys I mean the entrance was destroyed so it’s not like they can just get in through the front door.”

“Harry, Harry, Harry did it not occur to you that a base this big might have a BACK DOOR!” Neko scolded.

“Well that ruined my good mood.” Said Harry “Just when I thought everything was good and done.”

“Well whining about it won’t help, come on let’s get going.” Said Neko “And try not to drop the Shrink-Ray!”

Harry, who used his hair powers to make a makeshift sling, felt the Shrink-Ray and sneered “I’d like to see her carry this thing” he then decided based on the brevity of the situation to drop the subject.

Later...

“Your saviors have returned!” Harry sang as he slid into the room arms stretched, face beaming and mouth wide.

“...”

While maintaining his pose Harry slowly open one of his eyes to find that all the slaves were cowering behind their newly rebuilt homes, “what’s the deal with everyone?”

“The deal, Harry, is that to them you are a giant furry monster!” Neko stated as she and Morphan continued to move forward.

“But, but I defeated the bad guys?”

“As far as they’re concerned, that merely proves you are the stronger of two evils!” Morphan said while moving forward.

Harry slumped for a while before rushing up to follow his friends, while Morphan and Neko seemed indifferent; Harry was saddened by the fearful looks the slaves gave him “Figures, I do something super heroic and still nobody likes me.”

“You’re preaching to the choir!” Neko snarled.

“What were you expecting a parade?” Morphan said in a friendlier but still callous tone.

“Well no but, is it so much to ask for applause...” Harry looked to the slaves hopping for said applause “...some cheering perhaps?” again he was met with nothing but fearful stares “a compliant, a pat on the back, a handshake...” still he was met with more fearful stares “... a friendly smile?” he practically pleaded but still he got nothing.

“Don’t let it bother you Harry, nothing you can do but grin and bear it!”

Harry unable to say anything else merely slumped in depression and headed for the Rose Garden.

Later...

“Hey guys we’re here (OOOOF)!” as Neko sauntered into the base she was ambushed by Hedgehog , the little orphan held Neko’s legs in a vice grip while she affectionately patted him on the head “Hey calm down little guy, I’m flattered that you’re so worried but come on you should know I don’t go down that easily.”

Hedgehog let go of Neko and sniffled slightly “Hey cheer up little guy.” Neko leaned down till she was closer to his eye level “Did you protect the place while I was gone.”

Hedgehog nodded smiling “Good boy!” Neko said sweetly.

“Hey how come she gets a welcome home hug and all I got was...”

Pow

Morphan softly punched Harry in the shoulder to shut him up. Harry scowled while rubbing his shoulder.

“So Mad-Hat...”

“YEEEEeeeeessss!” he replied deliberately as creepily as possible.

“Uh huuuuuh ANYWAYS! Everything is set on our side; we got the Shrink-Ray...”

“Hello!” Harry, now in a good mood, showed off the Shrink-Ray for emphasis, while simultaneously disassembling his hair sling.

“... and the bus...”

“Hello!” This time Harry showed off the bus for emphasis.

“And we have defeated, the Walrus, the Carpenter, and the big mon himself Jabberwocky.” She mentioned Jabberwocky’s defeat with greater pride.

Harry tried to find something on himself to emphasis the point “You’re going to have to take our word for it?”

“Excellent!” said Mad-Hat “Everything is progressing quite nicely on our side, or perhaps I should say THEIR side.” He then started to chuckle to himself. Everyone else just stared at him dryly “You know because everything is happening to the bandits on their side of the wall, anyone, come on folks. (SIGH) Back to the issue, a small number of the bandits are dead another large portion (mostly those ill-trained Damos Minor pets) have fled. Leaving a decent sized portion to fighting against the white soldiers. But don’t worry they’ll soon be overpowered and either run away or die, dying would be preferable but that’s just me.”

“What’s wrong with him?” Morphan pointed to Dormos who was unconscious, looking paler than ever.

“Oh don’t worry he’s fine he just used up all his holy shmoly stuff, he’ll be fine in about a day... or two... or three”

CLAP

“Well that’s that!” Neko exclaimed after she loudly clapped her hands, she then sat against one off the walls and slumped down.

“So wait were done? Just like that?” Harry asked.

“Just-Like-That!”

“But what about the bandits outside? We can’t just let those villains be!”

“Harry you just got your stinking bus back what more can you want! Is that not the whole reason you came here in the first place?”

Harry contemplated for a moment “You know it’s funny...” Harry took out his bus and stared at it while monologuing “With everything happening so fast I kind of forgot why I was doing what I was doing, you know!”

“It happens.” Neko shrugged “Look let’s put thing into perspective, my brilliant plan only worked half-way but in the end we are all alive, we got the bus back, I got back at those miserable bandits and in an act of either Karma or serendipity all the slaves are now free...ish.”

“Freeish?”

“What she means Harry, is that the slaves can’t go anywhere.” Said Morphan as he leaned on the opposing wall arms crossed “From Hellengaruo to Mirabilis this is quite possible the only safe place for humans. If demons don’t kill them then the landscape will.”

“Well all things considered this isn’t all that bad a place to be stuck in, I mean it’s not like they have to stay in the slave quarters anymore. Besides what are the odds that another group of baddies will find this place.”

“The Wonderland Circus found this place before; I’d say it is pretty likely that someone else could find it.”

Harry slumped; even his bushy moustache appeared to have slumped “So what you’re all telling me is that none of it mattered, that they could end up in the same position all over again.”

“DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT!”

CRACK

Everyone looked in awe at the teapot that was thrown against the wall near Harry, then to Miss Hare who was fuming. The gazes switched between the two repeatedly before she started to speak.

“Don’t you dare say it did not matter, thanks to you three we humans can live like actual humans.” she started to sob as she spoke “And that’s is worth more than all the junk in Jabberwocky’s vault” She started to sob so hard that she fell on her knees “And we can always hope, hope so strongly that no one will find this place, so strongly that maybe, just maybe we can live our days in peace. And even if we can’t that brief moment of peace, that small little speck is worth so much, so so very much.”

Miss Hare started sobbing with everyone else in the room awkwardly wondering what to do to help her. It was Hedgehog who decided to go and comfort her.

Morphan cleared his throat “You’ll all probably hate me for pointing this out, but I feel you should all know this… being demon free won’t prevent abuse.” Everybody stared (and in some cases glared) at Morphan “I have been in enough human colonies to know that humans are just as likely to get abused by another human as they are by a demon.”

“Neko’s right you really are a kill-joy.” Harry grumbled.

“I am just saying before you humans get your hopes up ask yourself, what’s to prevent humans from abusing humans?”

“ME!” Neko snarled with freighting seriousness.

“You mean you’re staying here?” Harry asked disappointed.

“Abused children often become abusive adults as the saying goes. As Lobster-boy so eloquently pointed out, someone has got to keep these humans from turning on each other.”

“You wish to control us?” asked Mad-Hat.

“I wish to help you!”

“You mean you are not coming with us?” Harry asked shocked and saddened.

“Morphan!” Harry whined “Tell her to come with us!”

“If she wishes to stay that’s her choice.” Morphan spoke sternly “I have no desire to force her to do anything, and you shouldn’t either.”

“But! But I thought we were friends!” Harry practically whimpered.

Neko sighed heavily before putting on a warm face “Harry we are friends, but sometimes friends just have to say goodbye.”

“GOODBYE!”

Suddenly a worm-like limb stretched out and grabbed Harry by the face, Harry started to fail his limbs hysterically while everyone else was transfixed.

Morphan, being the first to come to, rushed forward and grabbed the worm limb, while in his grip its three pronged mouth let go to hiss, squeal and writhe in pain. Morphan then lifted and slammed whatever was at the end of it onto the table.

 SLAAAAM

The impact caused a huge cloud of dust to surround whatever impacted it.

When the chaos started Mad-Hat, Miss Hare and Hedgehog ran to Neko’s side, and could only hold their breath as the awaited for the dust to settle.

“WOW! That was one dusty table?” Neko stated hoping to us humor to cope, her human companions could only stare at her questionable “What else should I say about this?” she asked.

“AVOVSAVINGSOMTHINGVILLYVAVEREED!”

“...”

SLUUUUUUURP

The worm limb went into whatever was in the dust cloud.

“Sorry I spoke with my mouth full! How embarrassing.”

“I know that voice...” said Neko “...Gobbling Crow!”

The dust settled revealing Gobbling Crow as he got up from the broken table “I guess the cat is out of the bag (snicker, snicker), you weren’t the only one hiding their true powers.” As a demonstration Gobbling Crows black beak opened like a four petal flower of bone and flesh the slimy, vein covered worm limb then slithered out and hissed loudly before quickly slithering back in.

“EWW now I know why you always covered your mouth.” Neko deduced.

With everything going on Harry had been unintentionally ignored “Uh guys I’m not feeling so hot!” he spoke in a groggy manner regaining everyone’s attention. Everyone saw him twirl around in a hazy fashion before flopping onto his bum.

Morphan then had an epiphany “That worm-tongue sucks Aura out of its victims!”

“You are a clever one aren’t you Morphan!” Gobbling Crow cackled.

“How did you know my name?”

“Let's just say I’ve been keeping a close eye on you.”

FIZZLE FIZZLE POP

“AH! Damn piece of junk!” Gobbling Crow furiously grabbed an item off his belt and threw it in a random direction.

The device happened to land at Neko’s feet, she looked at the device. It was a round sharp looking device with a plastic circle in the center. Even with the plastic cracked, the metal burnt in places and smoke rising out of it Neko could still recognize the device.

“It’s a Ghost Drive, he has a Ghost Drive? He had a Ghost Drive?”

“What’s a ghost drive?” asked Mad-Hat.

“Stolen from a conquered realm and improved by Argus scientists, it allows its user to become invisible and intangible. Basically it turns you into a “ghost” hence the name!”

“Wait, if the user becomes untouchable then how did it get broken?” asked Miss Hare.

“It’s meant t for spying on demons, but you can’t physically hurt someone with it, you have to solidify to do that, so when he solidified to attack it was left vulnerable.”

“The things are disappointingly fragile, that’s one of the reasons I kept it a secret so that no one would break it. Among other things of course” Gobbling Crow then cackled smugly “But thanks to you three I don’t need it anymore.” For intimidation purposes he secreted an intense purple Aura, the intense heat of the Aura increased the rooms temperature dramatically “After you defeated those bandits, I sucked up their Aura and made it my own. Now I am the most powerful Demon in the Null Lands! A perfect candidate for a new Bandit Lord, don’t you think.”

“Hold on JabberJabber was locked behind a safe how could you get to him?” Harry asked still a bit woozy.

“Hello Ghost Drive, intangibility? I could phase through the vault, solidify, suck him dry, and then desolidify to get out.”

“You killed your team-mates!” Neko spoke accusingly.

“Oh is a half-demon who turned traitor honestly going to lecture me on morals?”

Neko glared in response.

“Let put things into perspective shall we, both of us were keeping our full powers hidden from the rest of the bandits, we both betrayed them the first chance we got, and before you judge me for killing those three degenerates let’s not forget that it was you that locked Jabberwocky in the vault pretty much condemning him to death and if the situation asked for it you would have killed those two without a thought.”

“Plus we killed White Rabbit on the way here!” Harry pointed out.

“NOT HELPING!” The humans shouted annoyed.

“Based on all the evidence I ask you Miss Neko Maneki Golden Bandit of Labirinth Canyon... how-are-we-different?”

Neko racked her brain to come up with a decent answer but could not think of anything.

“What do you want?” Morphan interjected.

“Well originally I wanted to suck out your Aura to increase my power. But seeing as how that is no longer the case I have a proposition for you three. As the new leader of the Wonderland Circus, no I never liked that name, the Wonderland Conquerors; I hereby offer the three of you membership.”

“You’re as mad as a hatter? No offense!”

“None taken.” Said Mad-Hat some-what confused.

“As I was saying.” Harry continued now fully recharged “Why would anyone want to join up with a demon that could suck us dry at a moment’s notice?”

“Because he can’t do it at a moment’s notice.” Morphan pointed out “As we’ve seen earlier it takes time and effort to completely suck a demons Aura, which is why he waited till we rendered our enemies unconscious to do it, and remember when I grabbed the worm tongue and it hissed in pain, I’d wager that large mass of flesh is super sensitive, meaning that when he is siphoning off demons powers he’s vulnerable. Finally as your recharge proved it is only effective when it sucks out the entire demons Aura. Like Neko’s power it is best used as a secret attack.”

Gobbling Crow slowly clapped his hands in a minorly-sincere fashion “Very impressive, you figured all that out in a few short minutes. You’ve got a real talent for these sorts of things; one could even say you have experience with these sorts of things.”

Morphan clenched his fists and took on a stance.

“Oh you plan to fight me?” Gobbling Crow teased “When I and I alone can give you what you truly want.”

“You don’t know anything about me or what I want!” Morphan retorted defiantly.

“Oh but I do,” Gobbling Crow cooed “You want a home a place where you can be yourself. That’s why you want to go to Mirabilis is it not. Serve under me and I can guarantee that the troupe will accept you.”

“Oh you mean the way they accepted ME!?” Neko snarled.

“That was under Jabberwocky’s rule.” He stated dismissively “Under my rule things will be different. For example Neko Maneki I won’t hold you back, I’ll make your skills flourish as well as the skills of Siberian Jesus, who knows it might even lead to the revival of the Cat’s Meow Gang. So you both get the home you’ve always wanted, and if any subjects that have a problem with it then they’ll have to answer to me. Naturally I won’t make any promises to coddle or spoil you, you’ll still have to earn your keep and of course you will be disciplined if you misbehave. But I can say the punishments won’t be any harsher or more lenient then the others”

Morphan and Neko both thought the same thing! That despite the condescending way he was offering it Gobbling Crows deal sounded good.

“But wait there’s more, a lot more!” Gobbling Crow continued “I will also ensure that our property..." he stared at the slaves during the word “property” “... will be treated with a far greater degree of respect.”

“You mean no more beatings?” Miss Hare asked hopefully.

“I wouldn’t say that, more like they’ll be for disciplinary reasons only, no longer for pleasure or boredom.”

“Oh come on that is a shitty, shitty deal all around!” Harry shouted.

“True, but it’s the best deal any of these sapients can hope for. Don’t think I haven’t forgotten about you Mr. Crax, I know everything that goes on in the canyon, I know you bribe Straight Arrow for safe passage, under my leadership I can assure you safe passage at a quarter of the cost. Unless of course you wish to join my troupe I’m sure we can find a place for you.”

“How dumb do you think I am, you think I forgot that you tried to KILL ME like five minutes ago?”

“Neko mugged you this very morning and now your friends with her?” Gobbling Crow pointed out.

“Stop trying to mess with me, your little swindling act isn’t fooling me and it sure as abyss aint fooling these two.” Harry pointed at Neko and Morphan hoping to find some form of assurance. Instead however he found them both with their arms crossed staring at the floor in heavy contemplation.

“Come on guys you’re not really going along with it are you?”

“Oh but they are!” Gobbling Crow grinned in a way that truly frightened Harry, it made him think of a predator that had its prey completely and utterly trapped “You see my deal is the best everyone can hope for and they know it.”

“But Mirabilis, for Dooms sake MIRABILIS!” he feebly protested.

Gobbling Crow laughed at Harry “You cannot believe that Mirabilis will be all that grand? They’ll be treated no better there then they would be in Hellengaruo. And it’s not just the center of Argus. From the eastern mountains of Kali Yuga, to the western tropical Loa islands, to the frozen north of Judas or the volcanic south of Laviticus. North, south, east, west it is only in this EXACT place under these EXACT circumstances that things can possibly work out for them.”

“I feel the need to point out that you-are-a-Psycho! If they work for you then they’ll have to fear for their bloody LIVES!” Harry accused.

“They are half-demons they had to fear for their lives since the day they were born.” Gobbling Crow then stretched out his arms and looked to the ceiling “When you really think about the threat of death is everywhere, friends you’ve known your whole life can have frightening dark sides, total strangers can kill you for any number of reasons, authority figures can try to kill you for no reason other than they can...” he got out of his preacher like pose before continuing “The threat of death and betrayal is everywhere in some circumstances it is plain as day in others it is concealed and easy to ignore. Don’t give me that look what I say may sound nihilistic but it is the truth of the Omniverse.”

“Now let’s all forgo this talk of philosophy and get back down to brass tacks.” Gobbling Crow cleared his throat in a somewhat dramatic fashion, before asking “Do we have a deal?” he stretched his hand out.

Morphan, Neko and Harry went over the deal in their heads, and as much as they wished to deny it, Gobbling Crow was offering them the best deal they could ever get. Harry would be able to sneak through the Canyon at a quarter of a cost of what it would take with Straight Arrow, and he would still have his precious Gale which when he thought about it was the whole reason he came into the base in the first place. Neko didn’t have a lot of options about where she could live so an improvement on current conditions seemed great plus he promised better treatment of the slaves that she worked so hard to protect. In hindsight not the best treatment period but the best they can hope for. The whole reason Morphan left Hellengaruo was to get a new life, a better life, and with limited options a life of banditry and servitude towards Gobbling Crow sounded about as good a life as he could get. It would not be the first time he had to get involved in illegal dealing to survive. Finally if denied he could kill them and perhaps the slaves just for the heck of it. It all came down to what other choice did they have.

The slaves kept their opinions to themselves, as they couldn’t help but notice how Gobbling Crow casually felt the blaster on its holster.

“All right Gobbling Crow.” Morphan walked forward his face looking more impassive then usual “Before I give you my answer I feel I should tell you that it is my answer and mine alone, I make no claims to speaking on behalf of Neko or Harry.” As he spoke he walked towards his would-be master.

“Fair enough.” Gobbling Crow said nonchalantly.

“After going through everything you are offering and taking into account my situation and all foreseeable future situations, there is only one possible response.” By the time Morphan was done he was standing in front of Gobbling Crow as the bird-like demon eagerly awaited the answer, his beaked face in a triumphant grin.

“I…”

Everyone else in the room watched with wide-eyed curiosity.

“…REFUSE!”

Crow was so shocked by the response that he barely had time to collect himself before Morphan struck him. After dodging the attack he landed and righted himself his whole body shaking with anger and confusion.

“You fool! You maggot-headed fool! Don’t you know what you’re giving up?”

“I know when I am being deceived!” Morphan crossed his arms into an X-formation started to transform into his Demon form “Everything you did was to lure us in! You chose arrogance instead of flattery, and harsh realism over unbelievable goodness. You knew if you acted too nice we would suspect something was up and if the deal was too good to be true then we would assume it wasn’t.”

“It was no act I really meant my deal, really I did, honestly! And my ego was just that an ego.” Gobbling Crow sputtered confused over Morphans logic.

“Demons like you have made deals like that in the past for me and they always turned on me.” He held his fists up before exclaiming “I won’t be deceived again.”

“Oh so you are letting bitterness from past experiences cloud your judgment.” Gobbling Crow calmed slightly and regained some of his composure realizing that he once again had a hold “This could be your only chance?”

Morphans stance softened and he once again put on a contemplative look.

“The answer is far simpler then you realized, Gobble Turkey!” Harry Crax moved till he was right beside Morphan “Morphan is a hero and as a hero he will never align himself with an evildoer like you.”

Despite the nature of the current situation Morphan could not help but chuckle at Harry’s simplistic ideals and the charm that came with it. He re-took his battle ready stance, no longer a stance based on hard-focused determination but one based on pride, pride at having Harry at his side.

“Your naivety sickens me.” Gobbling Crow responded he then sighed heavily “Oh well doesn’t matter anymore, not if I was lying to you guys or telling the truth cause soon you two will be dead.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it!” Neko Maneki said as she jumped beside Morphan then she too took on a pose.

“YOU! WHY?”

“Cause I’m tired of being pushed around by Archangels like you. Who knows maybe things will be different in Mirabilis.” She said while giving a sly look to Harry and Morphan. The two of them stared back at Neko in shock over her apparent confession and Neko only responded with a smirk.

With Harry Crax on his left and Neko Maneki on his right Morphan confidently shouted “How do you plan on beating all three of us!”

“Like this!” Crow then casually lifted and pointed one of his frog-headed blasters and pulled the trigger.

KABOOOOOOOOOM

The shockwave from the explosion sent the humans tumbling back while Morphan, Harry and Neko stood enduring it. Gobbling Crow on the other hand didn’t seem the least bit affected.

Once Mad-Hat came to he saw to his complete horror that instead of shooting his would be adversaries he at the last minute switched his aim and shot the computer system completely destroying it and the wall behind it.

“NO! NOO! NOOOOO! NOOOOOOOO!” Mad-hat fell onto his hands and knees and started break down in terror.

“It’s OK! Just because he’s powerful enough to destroy a solid steel wall with-out any effort doesn’t mean Neko can’t win?” Miss Hare said soothingly though still evidently scared.

“You stupid slut!” Mad-Hat shouted as he jumped onto her, furiously grabbing her by the collar “You think this is about a wall? The computers that were controlling the white soldiers have just been disintegrated and that means…”

Meanwhile…

Everything became deathly quiet outside the Wonderland Circuses base. Slowly one by one each of the remaining demons peeked their heads out from behind the stone walls and one by one they noticed that the lasers were no longer working. The Wallmaker who earlier went unconscious after using up his Aura was thrown outside the walls in a quick-ditch effort to see if the lasers were still working.

When it became obvious that the lasers were no offline they all got out from behind the cover and started to wordlessly wonder, how it happened.

“What’s going on?”

“Did they run out of power?”

“Couldn’t have, the base is powered by an Eternex power-cell it could never run out of power.”

The King of Hearts started to laugh boisterously “What does it matter how it happened, whether it’s a fluke or the work of the Doom itself. The lasers are down and do you know what means?”

Once the situation sunk in the demon bandits all raised their weapons and roared battle cries. The King of hearts raised his Kanabo activating his powers causing it to glow with a blazing red Aura “Tonight we bath in the blood of human filth!”

They demon bandits charged towards the entrance mad with blood-lust.

Meanwhile...

Hedgehog went into a fetal position and started hyperventilating as repressed memories of the destruction of his home realm came charging back. They were memories of blood and fire, of havoc and death, memories of people, buildings and even landscapes being torn asunder.

And it was going to happen again.

“Don’t cry Hedgehog, we won’t let guys like Crow have their way anymore.” Neko shouted.

“Try and stop me!” Gobbling Crow mocked he then faster than anyone else could react flew out of the hole he created and flew around till he was facing the exit and activated his pistols, propelling him forward at blinding speed.

The slaves saw to their horror a demon flying as though jet propelled; the shockwaves produced toppling the meager houses, the sound of his maniacal laughter echoing all over the place.

Chapter 15: Murder of Crows

“Come on, come on, move it, move it, move it!” Harry egged them on as Morphan and Neko moved carefully in front of him. In pursuit of Gobbling Crow they followed his trail up the stairway leading out of the slave quarters. While Neko and Morphan remained stoic moving with slow determination Harry was so anxious that he was practically jogging in place “GO! We can’t afford to be slow! Gobbling Crow could come in at any moment with an army! The guy is already well ahead of us!”

“The room is DARK! And the stairway is still slippery from the sprinklers, it may be just regular water by now but we can still slip. It wouldn’t do any good to fall and break our necks before the big showdown now would it?” Morphan pointed out in a strict fashion.

“By the way Harry why are you so eager to fight?” Neko asked “You have no real obligations; you don’t gain anything by saving them slaves. Most Hellenites would just run and hide, and to be frank I can’t really blame them for that.”

“Neither do you two, I mean you’re a bandit traitor and Morphan is basically a hobo. Look the lives of the slaves and us are on the line here, we have no time for a moral debate. I don’t know how I managed to get mixed up in this but it doesn’t matter now! The choice is literally fight or die! And I don’t want to die!”

With no further explanation required they continued on their way.

Earlier...

 “All right! All right! Enough!” Shouted King of Hearts, for a short but intense while the bandits tried to bust down the door with everything they had but no matter how dented and damaged it got the door remained standing. After standing back and watching the chaos King got sick of their apparent incompetence and ordered them to stop.

“All right the door aint going down, looks like we’ll have to find the secret entrance.” The bandits groaned in frustration.

“Come on, its dark out and I would like to kill all the humans in time for a good night’s sleep.” So he lead the rest of the gang half-knowing where to go.

SMAAAAAAAASH

By a stroke of luck they had all got out of the way just before the door was busted down from the inside.

Whatever broke through the wall sped upwards at a blistering speed before stopping in the light of the red moons, the bandits watched as it was revealed to be Gobbling Crow as he fluttered down in a elegant fashion onto a ledge on the opposing cliff.

“Listen well! I Gobbling Crow have an announcement to make!”

The bandits listen eagerly, awed by Gobbling Crows newfound power and authority.

“As of now the Wonderland Circus is no more! Today marks the beginning of the Wonderland Conquerors! With myself as the leader! Now I know what you are thinking, what gives him the right to lead? Why should we follow him?” He pointed one of his pistols at the audience causing them to cringe fearfully, “In Argus leadership always goes to the strongest!” He then pointed the same pistol at the stone cliff with all the white soldier blasters on it “Behold the laser defense system that had you all at its mercy!”

He then unleashed a barrage of purple energy blasts; the blasts all hit their marks perfectly, destroying the ancient war machines in massive explosions.

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

When he was done the entire wall was covered in smoking craters, the cannons that were not entirely obliterated littered the ground as flaming wreckages alongside fallen rocks and rubble.

Everything was now silent, ordinarily faint sounds such as, the guns cooling or steam hissing from the craters and the occasionally bits of loosened rock falling now echoed over what felt like to the bandits the entire canyons.

“I didn’t know your blasters were that powerful?” said one of the bandits; the others were too shocked to say anything coherent. Just to be on the safe side they subtlety moved away from the bandit that spoke.

“My guns are powered by my Aura, with my Aura at its strongest so too are my guns! And in case any of you were told by Jabberwocky that my guns weren’t Aura powered know that Jabberwocky was a complete idiot who I never bothered to correct.” He snickered a bit before continuing “His ignorance kept me under his radar! Which was the perfect place for me to concoct my schemes!” he said the last part particularly smugly.

Suddenly Morphan, Neko Maneki and Harry Crax jumped through the flaming wreckage blocking the door and landed looking incredibly formidable, even Harry managed to give off an imposing feel to him.

 “Who are they?” asked the Wallmaker.

“I recognize our blonde half-breed but the other two are a mystery!”

“Wait a minute, those two match the descriptions of the bounty Jabberwocky gave off.”

“So those two are the guys we’re supposed to find?”

“Indeed!” said Gobbling Crow “I would like to introduce the two half-demons responsible for all today’s strife and their dimwitted associate.”

Harry dropped his fearsome appearance for one of annoyance “hey if I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to hurt my feelings!”

“Are you trying to be funny or do actual think anyone gives a damn about your feelings right now!” Neko barked.

“So boss I take it you want us to kill these bastards!” said King hoping to suck up to the new bandit lord but also feeling legitimately blood thirsty as usual.

“Not yet.” Said Gobbling Crow “First we’ll take them to a hunters district to see if their worth anything, if not we’ll take them back here for some... fun.” He chuckled maliciously for the last part.

“What about the humans?” asked Wallmaker.

“The best thing about humans is that their cheap to replace. Once we are done with these three kill the hairless apes in whatever fashion you deem fit!”

A six eyed bandit decided to put a word in “So just to clarify the plan is to beat these three into mush, then kill the humans, then take these three to a hunter district, then regardless of whether we get solzs or not we buy new slaves.”

“Correct!” Gobbling Crow said stridently “Does anyone have a problem with it?”

The bandits all started to cheer obviously loving their new master’s plan, they even started to chant his name as a sign of adoration (or duress) “Gobbling Crow, Gobbling Crow, Gobbling Crow, Gobbling Crow…”

“SILENCE!” Gobbling Crow yelled to everyone’s surprise, once everyone was silent he went back to his usually condescending arrogance. “It is not that I am not flattered by your cheering, because I assure you I most certainly am, it’s just that I have decided to go by my true name just like all the great demons of Argus…”

“Gobbling Crow isn’t his real name?” Harry asked.

“Of course not can you think any parents who would name their kid Gobbling Crow!” Neko snarled once again annoyed by Harry’s ignorance.

“Its is very common for demons in both military and banditry to go by aliases, for multiple reasons.” Morphan explained “Usually for safety reasons, other times it’s so they can have names that fit whatever cliché the gang is going for. You’d be surprised how many mercenary groups have themes, honestly sometimes it like they are playing dress-up!!”

Gobbling Crow flew into the air cloaked in a ferocious purple Aura “Tremble before me! For my true name, the name that will haunt the Null Lands for future generation is Chan Chu!”

“CHU? Chu, Chu, Chu, Chu, Chu, Chu, Chu, I know that name, I know that name.” Neko shouted as she raked her brain to remember “I heard it from an old legend, it said that before the empire there was an evil clan of crow demons name the Chu clan! But I thought it was just a myth!”

“Oh it is no myth!” Gobbling Crow now dubbed Chan Chu landed on the stone ledge deactivating his Aura; he then started to stare up at the stars in reminiscence “A long time ago in the forgotten ages before the empire, one of the areas that would be part of the city of Hellengaruo was a fertile land ruled by my ancestors the Chu Clan. While most demons are born with powers unique to themselves, all the members of the Chu Clan were born with the ability to absorb their enemies Aura for a temporary boost in strength, a rarity even for demons with hereditary powers. With this power we were respected, feared even worshipped by some. Our enemies fell whimpering while our servants trembled in our presence. It was a golden age for my ancestors!” Chen Chu’s tone then darkened “Then Lord Dark Matar came in for his famous campaign to bring “peace” and “order” to Argus...” he spat out the words peace and order “We were the rightful rulers of the land and refused to bow. We were determined to oppose him, but like leaves in a hurricane we were blown about by his unspeakable power. When our numbers dwindled to the point of extinction we fled into hiding, in the wastelands that would come to be known as the Null Lands, for many centuries we lived in hiding, we were proud that we had managed to elude the most powerful demon in Argus, but we were denied even that when we found out Dark Matar just didn’t think we were worth finishing off.” Now his tone was full of sorrow and regret “So it came to be that the Clan that was once proud and terrifying rulers were reduced to a life of banditry in order to survive.”

“A very nice bedtime story but what does it have to do anything?” Neko asked while cleaning her ears in a bored fashion.

“It has everything to do with everything!” Chan Chu continued “I carry within me the pain and humiliation of generations of demons that should have been kings! But I’ll change that; I’ll take my destined place as Ruler of the Null Lands, just as my clan should have been. As long as I don’t pick a fight with the Military I should be fine, their so busy in their campaign against the Omniverse that they won’t care what goes on in the Null Lands anyway!”

“Pain and humiliation of generations! What a load of bull!”

“Oh does the half breed wish to go on “horrors of a half-demons life” speech, (snicker) surely even you’re not arrogant enough to suggest that the pain of a single being is greater than that of millions of demons who came before you!”

Neko put a knuckle on her hip while giving of an angry yet somehow cocky look before, nodding to herself and stating “You know what I guess I am that arrogant, because I am willing to bet anything that I have suffered more in my half a century life than any of your so called fallen kings full lives!”

The bandits of the Wonderland Conquerors all gasped in over Neko's audacity, some in genuine awe and others hoping to not to anger their new boss.

Chan Chu breathed in and out heavily before continuing “I guess I should have expected such selfishness from you, half-breed whore.”

Neko started to pace about while continuing “Your right you should have known! You know why because we worked together on several missions, and when you work with someone you get to know them whether you want to or not. So by know we know each other real well which is probably why we hate each other so much.”

“Is there a point to your speech?” Chan Chu asked.

“The guy talks enough to fill a novel and complains about me?” Neko muttered to herself before continuing turning around disrespectfully “What I am saying little birdie is that since we know each other so well, I know what an opportunistic power monger you really are.”

She then turned around dramatically and pointed at Chan Chu who by now was standing on top of his cliff, fuming “Truth is you care about your “clans suffering” about as much as I do. You’re just using them as an excuse for your power grubbing ways.”

 Chan Chu’s body started to shake and seep out purple Aura “Time and time again I’ve endured your insults, but to imply that my feelings for my clan are anything but genuine, that is BAR-NONE the worst thing you can possibly say to me.” He then started to flap into the air “My original plan was to have my new subordinates skin you for a pelt, but now I shall not allow anyone to deny me that pleasure.”

“BRING-IT-ON!” she yelled dramatically.

Chan Chu then opened fire, Neko and Morphan managed to dodge his blasts quite gracefully, Harry not so much. With the majority of his rage focused on Neko, she dodged by running and jumping.

“Quick everyone inside! We don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.” Wallmaker's warning came a little too late as a bolt deflected by Morphan blew up above the door-frame sending the bandits into a nonsensical frenzy, during said frenzy they fled into the distance completely forgetting about the safety of their base. Needing no more motivation then that the most feared bandit groups in Argus fled hoping not to be suffer their new leader’s wrath or the wrath of his opponents, but mostly the former.

In order to get a better shot Chan Chu flew about, he quickly managed to get Neko cornered, he took sadistic joy looking down and seeing his adversary literally backed up against a wall “Time to die half-breed!”

“Take your best shoot!” Neko Maneki shouted.

“Oh brave aren’t you, but I suppose with the power to cheat death anyone would be brave!”

Neko gasped in shock.

“You seem to have already forgotten that I was spying on you with the Ghost Drive. I was there when you revealed your power to Jabberwocky. I won’t claim to know the full science behind it but I’m going to have quite a fun time figuring it out.”

Neko refused to show any sign of fear, she was not going to give him that satisfaction.

“I wonder if you can revive from complete disintegration or from decapitation, or if you can only revive yourself a certain number of times? Let’s find out!”

Suddenly he noticed a piece of flaming wreckage hurtling towards him, after moving out of the way of the large wreckage he at the last minute noticed smaller pieces of scrap metal flying towards him, spinning like a flying saw blades, he managed to escape from the flying scraps.

“HOW?” Chan then noticed Morphan running towards Neko in his full Demon form “YOU!” he realized “The half-breed with the beetle shell is nothing if not clever. He threw the large wreckage at me, and then threw those small sharp pieces hoping they would catch me off guard.”

“We’ll have to take him on together if we hope to win.” Morphan said as he rushed to Neko’s side.

Never one to let her ego get bruised Neko rudely replied “Are you saying I’m too weak to fight him on my own?”

“Yes I am, get over it!”

Realizing that Morphan was right she reluctantly took his advice, it was then that Chan Chu started to shoot at them again.

While still running they regrouped “So fearless leader got any ideas other than running around like headless Cockatrices?”

“I have fought flyers before; their specialty is usually attacking in the air from a distance. The secret is to bring them down to your level.”

“Or just shoot them out of the sky with long range attacks, which neither of us have.” Neko stared at her paw frustration evident on her face “My Cat-Paw Cannon could never hope to hit something that high in the air.”

BOOOOOOOOM

At the last second Morphan and Neko had jumped out of the way of a particularly close and particularly strong energy projectile. She stared at the smoking crater that had been the area she was just in “On second thought, considering our options I think it might be worth a shot. COVER ME!”

Neko then charged towards Chan Chu weaving around to avoid his deadly shots any shots that couldn’t be avoid Morphan would jump to intercept then deflect with either back hands or kicks.

“He is deflecting my shots with his bare hands and feet!” Chan Chu thought unable to suppress how impressed he was “A bold and foolish move, if he is off by a mere centimeter or a second he’ll get blown to bits. With such skill he would have made a fine subordinate, oh well.”

When Neko got close enough she aimed her paw at Chan Chu and fired a burst of Aura yelling the attack name as she did so. Chan Chu made no attempts to dodge or block the attack, and true to his estimations the energy bolt fizzled out before making contact.

“Well it was worth a shot!” was the only way Neko could respond.

Chan Chu then pointed his lasers the energy gathering as they prepared to fire.

WOOPISH

Chan held his face and roared in pain.

“Take that sucka!” yelled Harry Crax as he flexed his exceptionally long hair whip “Took forever to get enough Aura to make this whip this long but it was worth it!”

“DIE!” Chan hissed and pointed his fists at Harry only to realize they were empty, he dropped his blasters when he instinctively grabbed his face after it was whipped. Realizing this he furiously searched for his guns which was harder now since his eye was now swollen and clouded with tears.

“There they are!” said Harry as he pointed at them “Grab them!” he ordered.

They rushed over to the pistols hoping to grab them before Chan could get them back. But Chan Chu intercepted them with his energy shotgun drawn. He tried to blast them with short-ranged powerful bursts of energy but Morphan and Neko were able to dodge them. While trying to flee Harry tripped and before he could get up Chan Chu pointed his shotgun at the downed demon.

Harry curled up in fear.

“NO!” Morphan and Neko yelled simultaneously!

BANG

When the smoke from the explosion faded out everyone was shocked to see Harry was OK. Under closer inspection it was reveled that Harry’s fur was flat and shining as if made out of metal. While everyone was wondering what happened Harry’s fur reverted back to its usual bristly look. Taking advantage of his surprise Harry tackled the bird-like demon and tried to yank the shotgun out of his claws, but Chan was physically stronger then Harry and managed to pull out of his grip, he then conked him on the forehead with the butt of the gun...

CONK

 ...followed by side-kick to the gut. Harry fell down with a loud grunt. Neko then jumped him claws drawn forcing Chan to fly out of the way. Morphan rushed to help Harry up “You OK?”

“Yeah I’m fine!” Harry responded.

“I didn’t know you could do that?”

“Sure I can, didn’t I mention I can make harden my hair.” Harry boasted “I learned my “Impulse Harden” technique while getting beaten up by bullies.”

“How come you never used it before?” Neko asked.

“I got so many moves that I often forget I have them.” Harry said casually “before you judge me know that is actually quite a common problem amongst non-combat demons.”

“Well you shouldn’t do that, Siberian Jesus taught me that professional demons have all their moves memorized.” Neko lectured.

They suddenly dodged a energy beam, it was revealed that while they were talking Chan Chu managed to grab his pistols; he then threw his shotgun into the air and wrapped his tongue around it. Now he had a pistol in each hand and a shotgun around his tongue, which was proven to be strong enough to carry the shotgun without any difficulty.

Now armed with all three of his blasters he flew forward.

“Behind me” Neko went behind Harry as he used his impulse harden to make his body as harder then steel. Unperturbed Chan Chu shot Harry with all three of his guns, unable to move Harry was launched into the air by the blasts, his body maintained its position like a statue even while falling through the air. His body was impaled into the ground head first.

Harry unhardened his body and struggled to get out of his position. While this was going on Morphan and Neko engaged Chan in close-quarters combat forcing him to remain defensive, Chan would use his incredibly durable blasters to block blows as well as place some kicks in whenever he could. He then went onto the offensive using the gun at the end of tongue as a flail of sorts. While he was swinging it with lethal fury Morphan grabbed it, he then grabbed onto the tongue as hard as he could even secreting some Aura to burn it, as suspected the pain from the super sensitive flesh brought the bandit lord to tears, in his pain he made anguished gurgling sounds and stamped his feet desperately.

“Let’s see you suck up Aura...” Neko raised her claws “...when I chop it off!”

As she was just about to do that Chan blasted her in the face with his pistol the explosion catapulted her into the wall. Morphan let go of his adversary to rush to her aid. Chan used this as an opportunity to flee to a nearby ledge.

Harry having just managed to get his head out of the dirt rushed to his companions, “hey guys, you OK?”

“Fine!” Neko said, her faced was bruised and brunt from the attack and there were little cuts everywhere, though the damaged appeared to be superficial at best.

While Chan was busy nursing his sore worm-tongue, they took the opportunity to try and come up with a strategy “OK let’s go over the situation, armed with his guns Chan Chu is deadly at long range and he’s already proven capable in close quarters combat. His biggest advantage is that he can fly making him out of our reach and none of us have any particularly effective ranged attacks.”

“I’m hearing a lot of problems but no solutions.” Harry grimaced.

Morphan continued “His weakness is his worm-tongue which is super sensitive, and he makes himself vulnerable when he uses it. The best strategy I can think of is for one of us to let him get close enough to use his worm tongue, but if he successfully sucks up our Aura he’ll become even more powerful in addition to killing one of us.”

“Actually he has another weakness!”

Morphan and Harry looked at Neko wide-eyed “Why didn’t you tell us earlier?”

“I was too busy not getting blown up!” she hissed.

Neko looked to the ledge that Chan Chu was still on “Looks like he’s getting ready for round two so I’d better make this brief... remember earlier when he was going on about his traumatic past...” She waited to see if they were with her so far, they briefly nodded indecisively “... and he was standing on the ledge all dramatic like and going blah, blah, blah I’m an evil shmuck and then he said...”

Earlier...

“...all the members of the Chu Clan were born with the ability to absorb their enemies Aura for a temporary boost in strength...”

Now...

Morphan and Harry gasped in realization “So you’re saying he’ll eventually run out of power?”

“Not eventually, he already did!” Neko then pointed at her face “Think about it, earlier his Aura powered guns could blast craters into the ground but I took a straight shot to the face and survived. I’m hard headed but not that hard head.”

“But what about all the bragging about becoming the most powerful demon in the Null lands!” Harry pointed out.

Morphan stroked his chin for a moment “My guess is that he gets super charged after he consumes a demon but then the Aura adjusts to his body creating a smaller more permanent boost of strength.”

“In other words he’s weak now!”

“Of course I’m running on fumes as it is!” Harry pointed out. It was true to any observer that all the fighting and danger during that day had left its toll on Harry. Morphan and Neko being more used to days filled with violence were not as tired as Harry.

“All right!” Neko said pumped up “Final stretch, first we take him down to our level then we take him down period!”

Neko’s words ignited Harry’s fight-or-flight instinct emboldening him into action “Yeah the fight is as good as over!”

Click

“It sure is!”

During the strategy planning Chan Chu had used it as a chance to silently fly in close, then at the last minute jumped down and aimed one of his blasters right at the back of Harry’s skull. His shotgun was now holstered as was his tongue.

“ON YOUR KNEES!” he ordered pushing the pistol deeper, Harry hastily complied fearfully getting onto his knees with his arms raised “And you two hands up and back off!” he pointed his other pistol, using it to gesture where he wanted them to go, the two of them reluctantly agreed.

“All right nobody move, if you half-breeds try anything I’ll blow the sasquatches brains out, and YOU!” he pressed his pistol harder into Harry’s shaking skull “Don’t even think about using that cheap hair hardening technique, at this range you’ll be dead be dead before its complete.”

In slavering rage he pointed his pistols at his enemies. While Harry was shaking with fear, Morphan remained his usual stoic self, while Neko seems angry over the turn of events. Then her angry was replaced with cockiness as she put on a strident look before asking “So what now?”

“SHUT UP!” he shot the area by her feet as a show of force. Neko wasn’t the least bit afraid, after spending the fight dodging crater inducing projectiles the current little bolts did not impress her “OK I admit my pistols no longer have the same raw destructive power they used too, you assholes already figured that out. But they don’t need too in order to pierce your organs!”

“Yeah well I can regenerate and he’s got armor plating so you can freaking suck it.”

“But your friend here is completely vulnerable!” he pushed his pistol more desperately into Harry’s head “And you forget I have guns!”

“We were able to dodge your attacks when you were at your peak; you think we can’t dodge them now? Let’s put things into perspective, shall we!” Morphan tone was full of composed malice “You kill him, we’ll kill you, you kill me, they’ll kill you, you kill her, I’ll kill you.”

As the situation dawned on him he started sweating, he did his best to look terrifying but it quickly became clear that no one was buying it. Even Harry while on his knees with a gun to his head seemed less afraid of his would be killer.

“You only have one option... fly away!” everyone looked at Morphan in shock and confusion.

“You expect me to believe after everything I did you’d really just let me go, just like that?” Chan Chu asked dryly.

“If you flew off we couldn’t catch you any ways.”

“No matter how much we’d want to!” Neko interjected.

Chan Chu weighted his options “How do you know I won’t come back and kill you in your sleep?”

“I don’t but to be honest if you wanted to do that you’d probably have to get in line. I’m not one for speeches, so let’s just say I’ve pissed of a lot of sapients during my time in Argus.” It was true there was a long list of beings that for reasons justifiable or not hated Morphan with a passion, in time it became that Morphan would just brush off or ignore it when demons swore eternal vengeance, a lot of the time he wouldn’t even remember their names or even what they looked like. Neko was of a similar situation and when she heard Morphan say what he said a brief look of understanding flashed in her eyes. Chan Chu on the other hand went the extra mile to make sure his enemies would be good and dead so that they could not get to him later, if he could not kill them he would make sure they could not find them.

On that subject he realized that the half-breeds were right, as it was he could no longer hope to beat them, if he killed one the other two would pounce. He could as they said and fly away. The words “fly away” however brought up some painful memories.

Flowing into his heads were memories of his childhood, living in Hellengaruo with the remnants of his clan, living beneath his parents whom he both feared and admired. He would often eagerly listen to stories about how powerful their clan used to be, telling him that one day he would be part of a great and powerful clan again and that the slum they lived in would be remade into a grand palace. When feeling particularly bold they would say that their power would be enough to defeat the Thirteen Generals of Argus and the Emperor himself.

Of course that was ridiculous nothing and no-one in all the Omniverse could ever hope to defeat the Thirteen Generals or the Emperor, each of them having taken down enough gods, devils and empires to prove it.

To their shock some demons really did believe that the Chu clan would one day overthrow the empire, though ironically the empire itself was content to ignore the decrepit clan. This later found out fact, did not stop paranoid conspirators from riling up an angry mob to slaughter the bird demons! The young heir Chan Chu could do little but fly away from Hellengaruo terrified for his life.

It was shortly after that, when he read in the Forever Times that his entire clan was killed, later there were rumors that the rioters ripped off the Chus wings so that they could not fly away.

After he fled from the city he strived to make a better life for himself and eventually realized the only way to do that was by fulfilling his murdered clans desire to rise to power.

But it was hard life from then one, he often found himself having to fight and when he could not do that...

“Fly away” he said distantly, an entire lifetime worth of memories flowed through him in but an instant, granting him a sense of clarity “I’ve always flown away when things went wrong. In fact a key reason why I’m stuck in this wasteland is because I flew away.”

Morphan and Neko look at each other confused and slightly disturbed that Chan Chu wasn’t speaking with his usual bluster.

But then he started to laugh while backing away. Once Harry was certain he was free he rushed to his comrades for security. As Chan Chu backed off his laugh grew ever louder and more depraved “WELLLLLL NO MORE! Never again will I fly away, if I am to rule the Null Lands I MUST KILL THOSE AGAINST ME!” He then cackled some more, if Morphan and Neko weren’t nervous before they were now “It seems that in my panic I forgot I had one last ace in the hole.” He revealed a hidden button on his blaster which he then pressed.

Once pressed the eye like bulbs on the gun glowed as did the ones on his other two blasters. Then through some unidentified force the gun started to float in midair above Chan, as they rotated around each other bits of purple static flinging between them.

“What’s going on? I don’t like it? I’m getting a bad vibe! Please make it stop!” but Harry’s complaints fell on deaf ears as the rest watched transfixed by the spectacle “Prepare yourself for whatever stunt he’s about to pull!” Morphan commanded.

“Nothing can prepare you for this!” Chan Chu bragged, the guns started to spin faster and faster, higher and higher, more and more static building till the air was thick with the sound. Suddenly they clashed together causing a purple electric explosion.

Once the light went down it was revealed that the three guns had fused together into a large tank like turret. Chan Chu flew into the air grabbed it then stayed flapping in the sky to show off his new gun. It had the same color scheme as the previous guns and even had the same frog like design, though the end of the barrel the “mouth” of the frog was jagged as opposed to the former round shape and the “eyes” were more oval, the head almost looked Draconic. It was taller than him, and looked almost as heavy. There were three legs like fins on the back that also glowed. As a likely result of the fusion the massive gun had bits of steam fizzing off it as well as the occasionally bit of static, but they soon dissipated.

They stared in awe and terror at the weapon their enemy had just summoned, sensing their fear and not one to miss a chance to brag he showed off his massive gun “Those were not ordinary guns. They are named after a trio of warriors from some forgotten culture, who band together to defeat a rising evil. I prefer to call them the “Destruction Trinity” and this...” he pointed the barrel at them, it might have just been a coincidence but the “eyes” glowed in a manner that made them seem eager almost sadistic “... is its Fused form where their power is greatest! DESTRUCION TRINITY FINAL RUSH!”

“How is such a thing possible?” Harry asked.

“Anything is possible for Dr. Roach!”

That revelation shocked and horrified them more than the actual weapon did, “he has a weapon created by THE Dr. Roach!” kept echoing through their heads.

“You’re lying!” Morphan shouted in a panicked tone “Dr. Roach is one of the Thirteen Generals of Argus, General of Sciences. He’s got top secret laboratories in near unreachable areas all across the Conquered Realms, protect by the most advanced security and the strongest protection. His weapons are coveted by all of Argus’s aligned forces, the F-Troop and generally the Omniverse. There is no possible way you could have gotten them!”

“Let’s just say one demons trash is another demons treasure!” He pointed the gun at them, the energy churning inside as it prepared to fire “Any last words.”

For the first time in a long while Neko Maneki put some serious thought into what she was going to say, what she wanted her last words in the Omniverse to be, how did she want to end her life of surviving and thrill seeking? How did she want to be remembered, how did she want to go out?

“Do you know what they say about guys with big guns?”

“DIE!”

The gun released a blazing beam of purple energy that carved deeply into the ground after dodging the beam they noticed to their dismay how the newly made cut in the ground burned red from the heat of the blast, they noticed how deep the cut was and how long it went.

“How can his gun be so powerful?” Harry asked stammering “I thought he was running out of Aura!”

“The Destruction Trinity Final Rush enhances my Aura, so I can do twice as much damage at one tenth my Auras. Too bad I can’t use it all the time but a secret weapon is no good if everyone knows about it. As such I only use it when three conditions are met. Number one I have to be in an isolated location, number two it has to be used on sapients I absolutely must kill and number three said sapients must be so formidable that I cannot defeat them in any other way. Feel honored that you fulfilled the last two requirements.”

“You’re not going to feel ANYTHING when I’m done with you!” Neko Maneki threatened.

“All right everyone, final stretch it’s DO or DIE!” Morphans team-mates nodded in agreement before running about in a haphazard pattern, by doing this they hoped to make themselves harder to hit, which actually worked well.

All frustration and fear was now disappeared from Chan Chu, the feeling of the large gun in his hands, the sight of his advisories running around desperately assured him of his victory. He carved burning crevasses in a sadistic yet mellow fashion, he was staring to get irked when he realized that they were dodging all the high powered beams but he could also see that they were running out of steam and figured it would only be a matter of time before they tripped.

“Speak of the Angel!”

  Neko had just managed to trip over the edge on one of the many cuts along the ground that he made, her famous foot work finally letting her down.

Morphan seeing Neko in trouble punched the wall next to him causing large bits of rubble to fall. He then grabbed large pieces of rubble and threw them at Chan Chu, his strength causing them to fly with the same force as a cannon ball. Wielding his blaster like a bat he bashed the incoming rocks to pieces. This distracted him long enough for Harry to jump into the air and lasso his hair around Chan Chu’s feet, the unexpected weight gain caused Chan to lose his balance, as he struggled to maintain airborne, Neko ran up, literally up the canyon wall, her claws and super speed allowing her to run vertically. Chan Chu regained enough balance to aim his huge blaster; Harry then curled up and hardened his fur making himself a good deal heavier. So heavy in fact that Chan Chu was once again un-balanced causing him to sink in the air slightly while trying to regain his composure.

Neko then jumped towards Chan Chu and activated her Vorpal Claws.

“STAY BACK!” Chan Chu shouted cowering behind his giant blaster!

SLAAAAASH

The pieces of Destruction Trinity Final Rush fizzled and sparked for a few moments before exploding. While Neko had enough momentum to soar past Chan Chu and avoid the blast, the newly self-appointed Bandit Lord was caught in the full force of the blast.

Neko landed on the wall across from her and used her claws to dig into it slowing her descent. It was strenuous, painful and almost peeled the skin off her fingers but thanks to the traction she was able to land on the ground far safer than if she just fell. 

When she was on the ground she looked up to see that her long-time rival was now in the air flapping very weakly his body battered and burnt from the explosion, barely able to remain conscious he just flapped in the air in a groggy manner, his beak wide open and eyes almost rolled to the back of his head.

Harry landed on the ground and used his whip to yank Chan down; the pull proved enough to send the crow demon falling towards Morphan who during the battle was charging his Aura into his right arm. So much Aura was produced that it was steaming out of his arm.

Chan Chu ironically gained consciousness only to see himself heading towards Morphans super charged fist.

“Magnitude 2 Richter Punch”

SMAAAAAAAAASH

Morphan intercepted Chan Chu with an Aura powered right hook to the side of the face the blow was so powerful that it sent the crow demon rocketing sideways into a canyon wall

SMAAAAAAAAAASH

Elsewhere...

The Wonderland Conquerors waiting for the battle to be done heard the loud crashing sound and saw a huge cloud of dust rising from where they had heard the sound of battle.

Elsewhere...

Within the slave quarters the humans had barred the entrance with whatever they could find. They heard the mysterious rumbling and quivered wondering what terrible force could cause it.

Mad Hat on the other hand heard it and smiled as wide as his face would allow!

Elsewhere...

The impact was so strong that it caused a rock slide burying the remaining member of the once notorious Chu Clan and his ambitions with it. The dust cloud rising from the pile like a smoke stack.

Morphan, Neko and Harry stared at the pile assured of their victory but still remaining cautious!

Chapter 16: Good Night and Good Morning

Chan Chu burst out from the rock pile; too injured to stand he crawled out from the pile coughing out dust that had accumulated; such injuries included multiple fractures, broken ribs, broken wings, and a cracked beak. He also had various small cuts and bruises but they were irrelevant compared to his other injuries.

He looked upon the three that had defeated him. His loathed rival, a vagabond and a bus driver, all three of them were eyeing their fallen adversary having learned enough about Chan to remain cautious.

“How could I have been defeated?” He asked to no-one in particular, the question alone was not only physically straining, because of his injuries, but mentally straining, after all the adversaries he has fought over the years he could not imagine a less likely group to out-do him.

Harry puffed up his chest and pointed at Chan Chu before shouting “You foul criminal were defeated...” Harry then started to do some posing “... by the power of... TEAMWORK!” he finished off with an ostentatious pose.

Neko was tempted to berate Harry for his silliness but decided that he was actually right for a change and let it slide.

As Chan Chu soaked up the information, it dawned on him and he then laughed at the situation “Teamwork, yes I was defeated by your impeccable teamwork, but tell me where did it come from?”

The three of them cocked their heads unsure how to answer the question or even what he was really asking them.

“The synchronization you showed in the final minutes of our battle, there was no way you had time to plan that out. You all anticipated and improvised each other’s moves so perfectly. I have known demons that worked together for centuries that don’t work as well as you three just did. Yet you only knew each other for a day. How is it possible?”

“Sometimes a day is all that’s needed!” Morphan replied.

“...”

“What utter nonsense!” suddenly he activated his Worm-tongue sending it towards the nearest source of Aura, which happened to be Morphan. He didn’t honestly expect it to work but if it did the stolen Aura would heal his injuries and then he’d be strong enough to kill his enemies. Once they were dead he would rule Argus!

Quick as a bear-trap Morphan grabbed the Worm-tongue. With a sharp, piercing pain Chan Chu knew he was done for but refused to accept it. He used his tongue desperately, the three pronged limbs chomped away at Morphan in a sad attempt to get some Aura before finally falling limp in his grip.

Morphan covered his other hand in a thick blue Aura making it resemble a small blade, and he then cut the Worm-tongue in twain.

SLICE

Chan Chu made an incomprehensible sound as the severed limb flailed about as did the remainder of his tongue, able to feel and taste the burning flesh. He fell on his back writhing in pain while Morphan and Neko stared indifferently.

Harry one the other hand was deeply disturbed by seeing the demon, even one as wretched as he, in so much pain “Uhhhh was that really necessary?”

“Yes!” Morphan said no hint of doubt in his voice; “This is how to survive in Argus!” he clarified.

Harry turned his gaze onto their adversary, the fallen Bandit Lord now lay on the ground in so much pain he was barely conscious “But I never had to resort to such methods.” 

“Well bully for you and your happy sheltered life!” Neko Maneki unable to repress her disdain “I don’t brag about being mild-tempered, a lot of things anger me! But what really gets under my skin are demons like you!” She continued her rant marching onto a confused and frightened Harry as he back away timidly “Hellenites, and city dwelling demons in general, who don’t get enough sprinkles in their Ice-cream and then think they have the worst life in the world. Always complaining about how horrid your lives are without even the slightest clue as to what true misery is...” She then started banging her fists, had Harry not been so scared he would have noticed that she hit him far softer then she could have “... I HATE YOU HELLENITES! I HATE YOUR HOMES! I HATE YOUR FAMILIES! I HATE YOUR SAFETY AND YOUR WEALTH! I HATE HOW EVERYTHING IS HANDED TO YOU ON A SILVER PLATTER!”

“NEKO SHUT UP!” Morphan shouted.

Neko turned to glare at him, her teeth bared and her eyes watery.

“Harry has nothing to do with any of the things wrong with our life; taking it out on him won’t accomplish anything, least of all now of all times.” Harry couldn’t help but notice that Morphan was still holding onto the piece of tongue he cut off. He couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to keep it as some sort of morbid trophy.

Suddenly Chan Chu burst out laughing in some maniacal craze. The severed tongue and huge amount of saliva made his voice sound even more deranged than ever.

“The fight ended mere seconds ago and you’re all at each other’s throats already.” He continued to laugh “If that is all it takes to do away with your teamwork then you will never survive your quest to Mirabilis. YOU’LL ALL DIE BEFORE YOU GET THERE!”

He continued to laugh insanely, content in knowing that his enemies would fail in their journey despite all that they accomplished so far. As he laughed at their situation Neko stomped over to him and activated her Vorpal claws.

Meanwhile...

The Wonderland Conquerors heard the sound of screaming coming from the distance.

They all stood in front of the base clearing rubble away from the entrance partially out of boredom but more in the hopes of pleasing their new boss.

Wallmaker walked up to King of Hearts who was just staring off into the distance “So any idea what’s going on?”

King snarled in annoyance “I don’t have the power of Clairvoyance moron, though right now I regret killing that demon that did. All I can tell you is that the fight is over any minute now the victor is going to walk over here.”

“Speak of the Doom!”

The entire bandit trope gathered and silently watched as the Half-Breed her two companions paraded up to them. Neko was now holding the severed worm-tongue twirling it around swaying her hips in the smuggest manner she could. Behind her Morphan was marching solemnly holding a pair of black birds wings. Harry was dragging the now tongue-less and wing-less Bandit lord in a hair lasso through the dirt.

Once she was in front of the transfixed bandits she ordered Harry to slam Chan Chu on the ground in front of her.

She then leaned on her defeated opponent and looked around to see if everyone was looking at her. Everyone including her companions held they breathe curious as to what she would do or say next. Once she was sure they were she started to speak.

“Fellow members of the Wonderland Circus, or perhaps Wonderland Conquerors I’m not sure if that’s official yet. During my stay in this elitist bandit group, you have all spent your days looking down on me. WHY? Because I’m a female, because I’m a half-demon, because I have no powers? Whatever the reason I have endured much abuse from the fiercest and meanest bandits in the Null Lands, you TRIED to break my spirit, TRIED to assault me, TRIED to rob me, TRIED to do so many horrible things to me. BUT despite it all I triumphed and now here I stand, victorious. Today I orchestrated the attack on the base, I drove you all from your own base and I defeated not one but TWO of the gangs leaders, the former and the new. And here I stand haven risen above you ready to take charge as the NEW BANDIT LORD OF THE NULL LANDS!”

She then stepped forward the other Bandits as they backed off in terror, suddenly she activated a huge stream of burning yellow Aura which reached to the sky like an inferno “KNEEL BEFORE ME!” She ordered with a level of power not before witnessed.

The mighty bandit troupe did as she commanded got on their knees (save those without kneecaps). Neko was truly an ominous sight laughing gleefully while surrounded by an Aura resembling burning gold. Both Harry and Morphan were particularly disturbed by the way thing were progressing, even the usually stoic Morphan couldn’t keep a straight face.

“NOW AS THE NEW LEADER OF THIS BANDIT GANG I SAY...” she switched off her Aura suddenly and said “... Your all fired!”

“...”

“...”

“...”

“...”

There was a moment of extreme silence broken only by the sound of a breeze passing by. Everyone with the exception of Neko tried to process what just happened the bandits were just kneeling slack-jawed “OK since that wasn’t clear let me clarify, I’m your new boss and I’m firing all of you losers, so SCRAM!”

“Where will we go?” asked one the bandits.

“Don’t know, don’t care!”

“What will we do?” asked another.

“Join some other bandit troupe or something.”

“Can we get our stuff first?” asked another.

“HMMMMMM No!”

“Why should we listen to you?” asked King of Hearts defiantly. An action he quickly regretted as she marched right up to him till she was literally butting heads with him.

“Oh I’m sorry you want me and my subordinates to do to you what we did to Chan Chu over there.” She pointed at the now wingless, beaten, broken, tied up crow demon “Speaking of bird-boy take him off my hands for me will ya, do what want with him just get him out of here.”

Some bandit demons went to pick him up “You’re really just going to let me go?” Chan asked full of surprise and suspicion.

“I’d hardly call this letting you go, but I really don’t want waste any more effort on the likes of you.”

“Do you think I’ll just disappear, what makes you think I won’t just come after you?” For Chan Chu what he just said was equal parts threat and question.

“To be honest I hope you do come after me all the times you want. I look forward to kicking your ass again and again.”

Humiliated, Chan Chu the last of mighty Chu Clan remained silent as the former bandits all carried him away into the distance. Soon the most elite bandits in Argus all left in disgrace till they were gone from view.

Neko sighed somewhat overdramatically; she then slumped down completely spent “By the Doom I am TIRED!”

“You just did a pillar of fire! Only really strong demons can do that!” Harry pointed out.

“Yeah I had to really squeeze out the Aura needed to do that but it was worth it to see the look on those bozos faces” she then started to laugh a bit to herself “ I wish I had a camera on me at the moment so I could remember it forever. Anyways I’m tired, it’s been a long day so I’m just going to go into whoever’s room and sleep, and I suggest you guys do the same.”

So she and Morphan headed inside while Harry just stood looking to where the bandits just were and was silent for a moment “You know something...” Neko and Morphan stopped and stared at Harry eager to hear what he had to say “Those guys weren’t as tough as I thought they’d be.”

Neko and Morphan continued to stare at Harry a bit before starting to chuckle, then they giggled, then they laughed. Despite all the danger and stress recently overcome they just started laughing. Harry eventually got caught up in the frivolity and started laughing too even though he did not fully understand why. Truth be told none of them fully understood why they were laughing but Harry’s comment about how the stories of the supposedly fiercest bandits in Argus might have been blown out of proportion was defiantly the trigger.

Once they were done they continued into the base.

“Whelp I’ll go tell the slaves, I mean humans, what happened to their former masters. Oh they’ll just freak out when they learn.” Neko practically squeal at the notion of the humans joy “Anyways you two make yourselves at home.”

“OK me and Gale will hit the sack at the first room we can find.” Harry reached into his fur to pull out the shrunken bus which had miraculously remained unharmed through all the chaos; he went on his way cooing the little toy-sized bus along the way.

“Before you go there is actually something I’d like to talk to you about.” Morphan said to Neko.

“A little out of place but OK.”

“I noticed that when you cut off Chan’s wings it was with your Vorpal claws, instead of your regular ones.” Morphan stated.

“So what of it?”

“Well, it’s just that if you had used your regular claws he would have bled to death, but thanks to the Vorpal claws his wounds were cauterized so that he will live, crippled yes but still alive?”

“Are you suggesting that I mercifully and compassionately dismembered him?” Neko asked making sure to accentuate how silly it sounded “My claws are sharper when they are Aura infused that’s all. I genuinely don’t care whether he lives or dies... However the idea of him living his life as a broken crippled creature, doomed to forever remember how someone he spat on proved to be his better does have a certain... appeal... to it. Why are you asking this anyways?”

Morphan started to scratch the back of his head in a bashful fashion “No reason specifically I just wanted to get to know you a bit better.”

Neko actually giggled a little to his response but quickly composed herself “Thank Doom that no one else saw that, I’ve got a reputation to think of!” “On the subject of holding back I couldn’t help but notice the move you used to defeat Gobbling Crow what did you call Richter Punch Magnitude TWO?” she raised an eyebrow silently requesting an explanation.

Morphan relented “The Richter punches have levels like on the Richter scale. You know the scale for measuring earthquakes. In order to go up a level I have to charge a significant amount of Aura the higher the level the longer it takes, in that moment I am vulnerable.”

“Can you go up to level ten?”

“According to the one who taught it to me it could be possible, though I’ve never had too. And considering a level 10 earthquake is powerful enough to destroy a city I do not look forward to a situation where that kind of power is needed.”

Neko was intrigued at this point “You expect me to believe that you are powerful enough to destroy a city, just how strong are you?”

Morphan turned around and crossed his arms “I’m a lot more powerful than most realize, but every time I lose control of my powers...” Morphan hesitated a moment “...bad things happen.”

Neko wrapped an arm around his shoulder, an action that caught him off guard “Nothing you can do about it so don’t worry. Once you get to Mirabilis I’m sure everything will turn out great.”

Morphan didn’t say anything verbally but the grateful smile he gave said more than enough.

“Come on head to bed! I’ll talk to the humans.”

“Actually if it’s all right with you I’d like to be there when you tell them.”

“OK we’ll tell the slaves then we both go to bed.” She clarified.

“Correct!” Morphan grinned.

So they left to do just that.

Later...

When Harry awoke his whole body was as sore as can be. Now that the fight-or-flight instincts had gone his whole body ached in ways that haven’t ached in centuries.

“Oh I’m soooooo sooooooore! But it was worth it to get Gale back!” he turned to the night stand where he had previously put his shrunken bus only to find it was not there!

“Gale?” he started searching the place.

“GALE!” he started panicking throwing stuff all over the place in a desperate bid to find it.

“GAAAAAAALE!” he shouted so loud the whole base could hear.

He rushed all over the place in a tizzy, the sound of his frenzied searching could be heard from outside the base. He quickly found himself outside and spotted Neko minding her own business when Harry rushed up to her and grabbed her by the shoulders and started shaking her while shouting, Neko on the other hand tried to calmly diffuse the situation.

“Where is Gale?”

“Uh Harry...”

“Where is Gale?”

“Harry...”

“Where is Gale?”

“Harry please...”

“Where is Gale?”

BONK

She banged him on the head before shouting “FOR DOOMS SAKE ITS RIGHT OVER THERE BALDY MAC-STUPID!”

Harry realized that in his blind panic he did not see the bus he was so passionate about. Without wasting another moment he rushed towards it and hugged it, all the while Neko scoffing at his silliness. Once Harry came to his senses he realized that the bus was not only back to its original size but also looked as good as new “Wow Gale looks great. Thanks Neko!”

“Oh don’t thank me it was the humans who used the shrink-ray to bring it back to size and it was the humans who repaired it, I guess all that time fixing those crooks airships paid off in the end.”

“Well where are they I’d like to thank them.”

“They are right over there actually.” Neko said while pointing behind him.

Harry turned around with a big wide grin on his face, his face quickly deflated when he saw how the humans were still as lifeless and gray as always.

“What’s the deal? Their oppressors have been vanquished they should be bouncing off the walls.”

Neko sighed and leaned on the bus “It was like this last night too, me and Morphan told them the good news and expected them to break into cheers, I thought such a proclamation would make emotions run high. But there was no emotions of any kind, positive or negative just the same depressed apathy they always have.”

“It will take time for the true impact of the news to hit them!” said Mad-Hat seeming to appear out of nowhere; shocking both of them (Harry was particularly shocked).

Harry tried to regain his composure “So Mad-Hat...”

“Melvin!” He corrected.

“Huh?”

“My real name is Melvin, Melvin Madhatt.” For the umpteenth time Neko had no idea if Mad-Hat was serious or just screwing with them and decided to drop it.

Harry continued “Anyways Melvin, you sure you got things under control, I mean without the bandits income how are you going to survive, plus the security guns were destroyed by Gobbling Crow so you won’t have any defense if more bandits move in.”

“Oh it may take time but I’m sure we’ll be able to fix the cannons, as for food...”

Elsewhere...

One of the humans placed a single cracker on the ground and then activated the shrink ray setting it to grow mode causing the cracker to grow till it was the size of a person.

Elsewhere...

“We got that covered, besides thanks to our captors we are used to eating meager portions so rationing won’t be an issue. And if you’re worried about water don’t because this base has machines that absorb water from the air and recycles used water. Who ever built this place made it to be completely self sustaining. And the beauty part is...” before finishing up he gestured for Neko and Harry to come closer “... When you gave those bandits the boot they left without taking the Airships...”

“I thought I destroyed the Airships during my climatic battle against Carpenter?”

BONK

“DON’T INTERUPT ME!” shouted Mad-Hat after conking Harry on the head “Now turns out they hid some extra Airships in reserve, plus while ransacking through Jabberwocky’s things I found a map with the locations of back-ups bases and safe houses so if we ever run into trouble we can just fly away. SOOOO continue on your journey in peace and know you made our lives better.”

Harry whistled in awe “You guys did all this while I was sleeping?”

“It's almost noon!” Said Morphan as he walked up to the bus carrying a huge bag of supplies “The rest of us have been up for hours!”

“Really aren’t you all tired from yesterday?”

“Nope!” said Morphan.

“No!” said Neko.

“Not really.” Said Madhatt.

“Turns out Morphan and I are early wakers!” said Neko to Morphan, he then smiled at her in return. Harry then realized that Morphan was actually in a good mood for once, possible the best mood he had ever seen him in. He then noticed the large amount of supplies.

“Is all of this necessary?”

“My mentor Siberian Jesus used to tell me that a real bandit is always prepared so that’s why I’m bringing all this stuff!”

“You know guys I just had a thought, why are we leaving?” everyone looked at Harry funny but he continued unperturbed “I mean the whole reason you two want to get to Mirabilis was to have a home, so why don’t you just live here I’m sure the humans would love to have you stay with them right Madhatt!”

“Wrong!”

“Great you two stay here I’ll head back to Hellengaruo, mon am I going have a story to tell my wait what!”

“The humans want nothing to do with Morphan or Neko!”

Harry stood rooted on the spot trying to rationalize what he just heard “But, but, but, but they SAVED the humans, the fought for them, almost died for them, uh YOU Neko didn’t you tell me that you tried to help the humans before or something like that?”

Neko responded by turning away grunting.

“We are half-demons anything else...” Morphan let out a long depressed sigh “Is irrelevant.”

“I can’t stand for this, I won’t!” Harry being utterly infuriated rushed out to meet the humans “Hey ingrates!” his angry shouts caused the humans (minus Madhatt, Miss Hare and Dormos) to all huddle together quivering “What in the name of the abyss is your problems!” as Harry continued his tirade the humans all got on their knees in an instinctive manner “These two save you from tyrants and you kick them to the curb WHY!”

“They are half-demons!” one of the humans practically whispered.

“Half-demons? HALF-DEMONS!” By now Harry was so mad that he started to stomp about “First that crooked representative Straight Arrow, then pretty much all those bandits now you humans too? Am I the only one in Argus who isn’t a half-hater?” Harry Aura started to go out of control causing his whip to involuntarily appear.

“I’m so mad I could just...” everyone tensed in preparation.

“...I could just...” Morphan and Neko prepared to stop Harry should he go too far!

“GRAAAAAAAH!” Harry roared a whipped a nearby cliff gouging out large chunks of it. Eventually he ran out breath. He then inhaled and exhaled and in so doing caused the seeping Aura to subside “I’m good, it’s all good, I’m still disappointed but I’m fine. Just needed to blow off some steam.”

No one knew what to think of Harry’s actions, but decided to just be relieved.

“Well time to hit the road!”

“WAAAIIIIT!” shouted the voice of a little girl! Everyone watched as Hedgehog ran towards Neko and held her with all her might.

Everyone gasped in shock and awe over the development “Hedgehogs a girl!” they all shouted.

“Well this is quite a surprise, now I feel silly for always referring to you as “he” Sorry about that Hedgehog!” Neko said sheepishly.

“My name is not Hedgehog its Alice, Alice Valemsheky Maliton sixteenth heir to the throne of Lunatopia.”

“Heir? She’s a princess!” Everyone gasped!

“Why are you telling me now?” Neko asked.

Alice stepped back and almost hissed “Because every time I spoke in Argus THIS happened!” She took off her oversized coat revealing her white raggedy undershirt she showed everybody her arms which were covered almost entirely in scars of every type.

Neko sighed and kneeled down so her hands were on Alice’s shoulders “Hedge...eh...Alice I would love to take you with me but let’s not kid ourselves, I’m a magnet for trouble can’t go anywhere without someone trying to kill me, or me trying to kill someone. You’ll be much safer here!”

“SAFE!” she roared “No one protected me when the demons came after me, the humans here all just stood and watched but you did, you saved me time and again! And not all of these scars are from demons!”

Alice then broke down and embraced her beloved Neko “please don’t leave me, I’ve lost everything! My family, my friends, my home, my beloved kingdom. I’ve lost my future, my dignity, my innocence. I can’t lose you too, I just can’t.” Unable to talk coherently anymore Alice could only weep with Neko doing her best to comfort her, if one looked real closely one could see that her eyes were watering.

The others could only watch in silence.

“This time will be different!” said Dormos, his deep powerful voice brimming with determination “We’ll look after her, we all will!” the comment seemed directed at the other humans who were true to form still cowering.

“I’ve always wanted a daughter” said Miss Hare.

“From now on we’ll all have to look after each other! Anything else would be madness.” Said Madhatt “we are after all the only free humans in Argus... or are we?”

Hearing this Alice stopped sobbing and stared at the three humans “hey Alice you want to know a secret?” Neko semi-whispered “When I was young I was adopted by Siberian Jesus and his bandit troupe, everyone in the troupe loved each other and helped each other out, even I a half-demon was welcomed as one of their own. THAT is what made us strong, so strong that even Argus Empire was scared of us. Everyone in the Wonderland whatever was in it for themselves and look how easy they feel apart. Jabberwocky wanted to know what made the Cats Meow Gang so strong it was unity. Of course when I told him that he laughed at me.”

All the humans let Neko’s words sink into them.

“All right everything is loaded up, lets head on out!” Harry said with his usual amount of giddiness.

Neko and Morphan headed towards the bus that they fought so hard for but before he could reach it Alice intercepted him.

“Morphan was it?” she asked.

“Yes?”

“Promise me that you’ll protect her!” she asked/pleaded/ordered.

“I promise.” Morphan responded.

“Pinkie promise!” she held out her pinkie finger. Morphans stared at the digit in confusion “It’s kinda like the human equivalent to a blood oath.” She explained, satisfied with the answer Morphan did his best to wrap his large naturally armored pinkie with her small and frail one he then said “I Morphan Bjarnason, pinkie promise that I will protect Neko Maneki now and forever.” After the promise Alice’s whole body seemed to glow with happiness.

Once the task was completed Morphan got on the bus and as it started moving Morphan stared at his pinkie as Neko moved up to him “So Barn-a-son that your last name huh.”

“Yes.”

“Fitting, so just so you know humans can’t use Aura so that pinkie promise is pretty much void.”

“Oh don’t be like that Neko it meant the world to that little girl!” Harry interjected.

“Funny coming from you the guy that almost whipped them.”

“WHHHHHAT, I was planning on hitting the rocks from the get go.”

“No you were defiantly planning on hitting those humans.” Said Morphan.

“WHAT!”

From outside the bus all the humans with Alice in the front watched as the bus drove off the sound of its passengers sibling-like bickering echoing throughout the Labirinth Canyon.

Till it and the sound was gone.

Suddenly a great gust blew forward carrying Alice’s discarded jacket into the air.

Epilogue

It was now night-time, the once mighty and revered Wonderland Circus bandit troupe had been reduced to a sorry state, tired, battered, and humiliated they did little more then slowly trudge up a path to the top of a hill barely outside Labirinth Canyon. Only King seemed to know where they were going and he led them with focus and disdain!

“I want to go home!” Whined the Wallmaker.

“We don’t have a home anymore!” Yelled King “That half-breed cat kicked us out and with her two minions and those humans were not strong enough to take it back! Not without help at least, that is why, I explain yet again, we are going to Straight Arrow. He is a well known half hater we shouldn’t have any trouble convincing him to help us.”

“I heard he was recently injured!” said a demon bandit with tentacles.

“He’s a Representative of the Argus Military; heads of businesses don’t get better medical treatment he is probably fine and dandy by now.”

“Still” another demon interjected “It's quite an embarrassment to admit to being beaten by humans and half-breeds.”

“Well there’s nothing we can do about, the Argus Military has the best intelligence network in the Omniverse, they probably know everything about what just happened anyway, and the General of Media Ars Goetia is always looking for a good story so we can’t possible hide this. The least we can do is get back at them.” As King moved forward he noticed one of the bandits was standing in place staring up into the sky.

“Hey Chan, er Gobbling er whatever your name is what are you doing lazing about!”

Chan Chu shifted his gaze towards King almost scornfully before gazing back up at the sky “Tengus” he said this caused confused whispers to circulate amongst the group “There are Tengus in the sky!” everyone looked up to find he was right. A large group of three foot, three eyed, three legged black birds were hovering around the area.

“What about it!” King inquired.

“Tengus always appear where corpses are going to show up!”

“It’s true during the battle against the wall they swooped down and carried off all the corpses of our fallen soldiers!” said a demon with a head like a horse.

“That’s probably why there still following us!” said a demon with a head like a boar.

“By the abyss who cares about a few birds, let’s just go!” at his command the entire troupe continued up the hill towards Straight Arrows place, he noticed Chan Chu still staring at the birds “You coming, or what?” Chan Chu took his gaze off the skies for a moment only to sneer.

“Fine be that way, a paranoid, superstitious bird with clipped wings has no place in my new bandit troupe anyways!” He marched away to join up with the rest of the demon bandits. As he reached the top his confidence waned, the air seemed thick with tension as he continued to move the others awkwardly moving out of the way to let him pass. Soon he noticed that Straight Arrows base was on fire.

The culprit appeared to be a demon standing in front of the burning building, standing still as a sentry gazing into the inferno. His build was tall straight and strong like a sword, for clothing he wore a black cat suit along with a black high collar cape as well as a black wide brimmed hat. Thanks to the flames updraft the cape fluttered in an almost dramatic fashion.

King moved forward gripping his Kanabo tightly, he marched till he was right next to the demon in black “High Phantom of the bloody opera where is Straight Arrow!”

“Who?”

“The giant flying lizard! Now answer my question!” He held his Kanabo in threatening gesture. The demon in black completely unafraid simply pointed towards the building in flames.

“So you killed him! Why?”

“He was an arrogant, corrupt, racist failure of a Representative!”

“So you think you’re some kind of hero of justice?”

“No he just irritated me! Kind of like you are now!” the tone in which the demon in black spoke then had so much hidden malice that King jumped back shaking and sweating.

His gaze shifted to the other bandits all of them were watching eager to see what would happen next.

“I refuse to let this random punk show me up in front of my subordinates!” King thought “hey turn around and face me!”

The demon in black did just that, even though the majority of his face could not be seen in the shadow of his hat it was clear from the look of his glowing red eyes that he was livid.

“Do you know who we are? We are the Kings Army, the new rising stars of the bandit world! I’m going to teach you to show your betters such disrespect!”

“Take your best shot!” the demon in black uttered.

“ALL RIGHT have it your way!” King charged his aura to its maximum causing his Kanabo to be covered in a blazing red aura “Jokes on you!” he spoke through teeth clenched in concentration “I’m a weapons demon once fully charged my Kanabo can uproot a house with its power!”

“Then by all means take as much time as you want to charge up. I’ll neither dodge, block or attack.” Said the demon in black, still in a bad mood but now sounding more bored then angry.

“This jerk is underestimating me! No he can’t be that stupid he must be trying to psyche me out or something! My attacks need ample time in order to be effective, no matter whatever his reason is as long as he gives me an opportunity I cannot waste it!”

So it was that King continued to power up his weapon his aura burning brightly, veins pumping and throbbing throughout his body. The rest of the bandits watched in awe and curiosity wondering what would happen next.

The demon in black just stood scowling.

When King was done his Kanabo was glowing red as if it had just come out of a forge.

“Wow I’ve never seen King charge up so much Aura!”

“That jerk in the cape doesn’t stand a chance!”

“HERE I COME!” King shouted as he charged forward he then jumped into the air and prepared a downward strike right onto the cape wearing demons head “I’LL TEACH YOU TO DISRECPECT YOUR BETTERS!”

SMAAAAAAASH

The impact and explosive power of the aura cracked the ground and created an incredible shockwave, once done King jumped back grinning victoriously, his grin quickly turned to look of confusion, then surprise, then shock then utter horror when he fully realised that his opponent was completely un-harmed.

“No way that didn’t work, how, well no matter...” he charged up some more aura placing his Kanabo in front of him protectively “Then this time you’re going...”

SLICE

“I’ve grown tired of your existence!” said the demon in black.

Kings head landed at his feet a final look of horror engraved upon it.

“What just happened?” ask one of the horrified bandits.

“How did he do that?”

“Just what is his power?”

“It doesn’t matter; he won’t get a chance to use it!” Wallmaker used all his aura in a desperate attack which consisted of him slamming his hands onto the ground causing multiple wall to strike out of the ground. They came out at an angel thus creating a dome of sorts, unsatisfied with one dome Wallmaker continued putting more domes on top of one another, he stopped when he lost count.

After he was done he stood panting heavily, having worked up an intense sweat from “OK everyone position yourselves, once you’re ready I’ll lower my walls and you use that moment to KILL HIM!”

The rest of the bandits followed Wallmakers instructions and prepared themselves for a massacre!

BOOOOOOOOOM

A huge burst of black aura exploded utterly destroying the domes and knocking the bandits on their backsides. And as they watched the pillar of aura they realised that the demon inside did not appear to be straining himself at all.

“BLACK AURA!” gasped Wallmaker. “A type of aura that only one in ten thousand demons have, said to be the strongest aura of off all, the aura closest to the Doom itself! JUST WHO ARE YOU!”

Not bothering to answer the question the demon in black jumped forward.

A few minutes later...

Chan Chu sat on a tree sticking out off the cliff giving off an air of depression. Perched next to him were some Tengu’s, most of the Tengu’s disappeared, likely to feed off new corpses.

Now that the screaming stopped the night seemed almost unnaturally silent.

Chan Chu slowly almost tiredly looked up to see the demon in black standing on the edge above him, the wind blowing his cape.

“So they are all dead huh!”

The demon in black nodded in response.

“So does that mean you’re going to kill me too?” Chan asked.

The demon in black mulled over it for a bit before making his decision “No I won’t kill you?”

In a melancholy fashion Chan asked “You kill an entire bandit troupe then spare its remaining member, why?”

“Don’t assume it’s an act of compassion, I’m not sparing you out of mercy or any codes of honor. I don’t wish for you to reform your ways, suffer in misery or tell what has transpired. Let me put it this way; I can tell that you are scum BUT I can also tell that you want to die. When scum like you want something I make sure you don’t get it!”

“I see before you go could you answer me another question, why did you kill them?”

The demon in black looked at Chan in confusion/annoyance “Why do you want to know?”

“Curious!” was all Chan said.

“They angered me! So I killed them, from what I hear there are many people in the Null lands who would anger me so I will kill them! Unless like you they wish for death!” the demon in black then jumped high into the air landing perfectly on top of a cliff in the distance. So much power was in that jump that its recoil cracked the ground he was just standing on, plus Chan could hear the sound of the ground cracking from the impact on the other side.

The Tengu’s flew off the perch and started the follow the demon in black.

“I wonder could he be... I distinctly heard one of the demons shout how he had black Aura? I know of only a few demons with black Aura, the first is the Emperor of Argus himself, the second is Supreme General Scorpion and the third...”

As Chan thought his thoughts the demon in black ran along the cliffs top creating a large cloud of dust as he ran, the farther he ran the more Tengu’s that started to follow him.

“...  Spoken of in rumors. A renegade demon, travelling all across Argus killing bandits, Representatives and anyone else that crosses him. Considered by many to be the most dangerous criminal in Argus  the demon in black... Rancor!”

Rancor ran forward red eyes gazing towards the distance looking for his next opponent.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Quinn Fletcher
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