Mystery Girl (1)

The Showdown Part 1

16. The Showdown Part 1

Sydney thrust her arms in front of her to counter Mad Jack's magic with her own. They clashed in a blinding explosion of light between them. Mad Jack twirled his cane around, transforming it into a sword, and pitched it at Joe and Sydney. They dove to the ground for cover and rolled out of the way.

"Good thing we got those self-defense lessons in yesterday," Joe said sarcastically, realizing the irony in the situation. He and Sydney clambered to their feet and circled around Mad Jack while he tried to pull his sword out of the ground.

"We need to take him out. If we don't, he'll just keep coming after us." Sydney spoke through gritted teeth. Her hands charged up yet again. Despite the contacts, Joe could see a faint green glow coming from her eyes.

"Take him out? You mean kill him?" Joe's stomach churned at the thought. He didn't like his uncle and he certainly needed to be taken care of, but Joe was not a killer. There was no way he could do that, even if Mad Jack was evil and trying to kill them.

"No!" Sydney stared at him in shock, as if she was surprised Joe would ever think of such a thing. "I meant knock him unconscious or something. We can try to take him back to Draylon and have Nicole and Kayla take care of him."

Joe shook his head, clearing away any thoughts of murdering his uncle. "Right. What's the plan?"

"We fight." Sydney launched a green ball of energy just to the left of Mad Jack's head in an attempt to capture his attention. It worked, but only because Mad Jack had successfully managed to pull his sword out of the ground.

He spun around with revived energy and anger and glared at his opponents. His sword reflected an ominous glow from the yellow smog around them. He stalked towards Joe and Sydney, sword aimed high, and circled them like a shark preparing to strike. Sydney and Joe stood back to back, never letting their eyes leave Mad Jack. He had the full advantage over them now. They had nowhere to run and even if they did, they wouldn't know where to go. They were trapped in his element.

Joe ran through a million escape possibilities in his mind. If this situation wasn't so dire, Joe could talk his way out of this and trick Mad Jack like he always did. But this was no time for talking. It was time for action and the short self-defense lessons he and Sydney had yesterday did not prepare them for this.

With a swift spin, Mad Jack's sword turned back into a cane and the hourglass tip fired at Sydney and Joe. They jumped apart, the attack barely slipping by. It exploded against the wall behind them, destroying several items near it. Their arms flew up to their faces to shield their eyes, distracting them from Mad Jack, who was already charging up his magic cane again. He aimed it right at Sydney and cast it at her back.

Sydney turned around at the last second, but it was too late. She shifted to jump out of the way, but the shot still scraped her side and burnt her clothes. She cried out, clutched her wound, and stumbled back, falling into the throne. It toppled over with a thunderous crash. The hourglass armrests shattered and sand spilled everywhere.

"Sydney!" Joe reached an arm out to help her even though she was too far away from him. He moved toward her as quick as he could, but Mad Jack appeared in front of him, effectively blocking his path to her. Joe clenched his fists, figuring out where to hit Mad Jack.

"Not so fast, nephew," his venom laced voice made Joe cringe. "Don't think I forgot about you." The cane had converted back into a sharp-edged sword. He pointed it at Joe's throat, and stepped forward, pushing Joe backward and away from Sydney. "Now isn't this a pleasant turn of events. It appears that you are unable to defeat me. I'm afraid there's no more room for any of your tricks. I hoped you've lived a good life, because it's about to be over." Mad Jack raised the sword above his head, enjoying the look of terror on Joe's face.

There was a warlike howl and suddenly Sydney was on Mad Jack's back. She wrapped her arms tightly around his neck and flailed her legs in an attempt to knock him off his feet. It worked luckily. Sydney pushed off of Mad Jack just as he plunged to the ground. Unfortunately, it didn't knock him out.

Sydney grabbed Joe before Mad Jack could get back up. "We need to get out of here." She winced with every step she took. The wound on her side would need medical attention soon.

"Where are we going?" Joe leaned into Sydney without thinking about it, helping her walk. They wound their way through Mad Jack's lair, slipping through piles of junk and historic relics. Joe recognized something from nearly every adventure he and his friends had with The Book. How long had Mad Jack been stalking him?

"Back to Draylon," Sydney answered, pulling Joe out of his thoughts. "We can't stay here. There's no way we can beat him. We're not ready for this kind of battle. Can you keep him occupied if he gets up while I warp us out?" Sydney stopped and started to call up time to warp them away.

Joe nodded once firmly. He kept his eyes on Mad Jack while Sydney did her thing. She was still hanging onto him for support. Joe knew her injury was hurting her more than she was letting on. Mad Jack was struggling to stand up and had not yet realized what Sydney and Joe were trying to do. Joe hoped it would stay that way.

Green mist gathered around his feet. In a flash, he and Sydney were gone.

And reappeared right back in Mad Jack's lair.

They landed with a thud on the ground just outside where the entrance to the tunnel should have been. Joe knew something was wrong with the warp the minute they were sucked away. As the green mist tried to pull them away to Draylon, something else swooped in and yanked them back down into Mad Jack's hideout. Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant experience. Whatever had pulled them back down had been aggressive and the landing was rough.

Joe heard Sydney groan as she tried to stand. He glanced over at her and noticed the side of her shirt was almost completed covered in blood. The odd thing, was that her blood appeared to be green. Joe didn't think about it for long. He scurried to his feet and helped Sydney stand up. "You okay?" Dumb question. She was obviously not okay, but Joe couldn't stop himself from asking.

"Fine." Joe could see the tension in her jaw. She was obviously not fine, but he didn't question it.

"Maybe The Book can get us out of here." Joe pulled out The Book and started to flip to the transporter page. They needed to flee and fast. Joe didn't want to think about what would happen if they didn't.

"The Book can't help you now, warp runts." Mad Jack had finally gotten up during their escape attempt. He bared his teeth in a venomous grin. "Any time you try to leave this place, the time bomb will pull you right back in. There is no escape. You either work for me or you die." His cane began to glow a dangerous green. "And since neither of you seem interested in switching careers, I'm afraid death is the only answer. Pity, we could've have ruled the entire space-time continuum side by side. I would have given you your own world and everything."

He tilted his cane forward and fired. Joe knew instantly that there was no way both he and Sydney could get out of the way, not with her leaning on him for support. He made the decision in an instant. He pushed Sydney away, careful to avoid her injury, but knowing it was going to hurt her regardless. She stumbled into a pile of miscellaneous junk. Joe swiftly turned to avoid the magic hitting him square in the chest. It collided with his arm, sending searing pain through his body and throwing him to the ground. He cried out in pain, clutching his arm. He was sure it was broken. He had never felt such intense agony before.

"Joe!" Sydney moved to help him, but Mad Jack directed his cane at her, effectively keeping her in place and away from Joe. Her eyes flicked back and forth between the glowing hourglass cane and Joe, weighing the pros and cons of moving and staying still.

"Ah, ah, ah, little goddess. I wouldn't do that if I were you. After all, we wouldn't want that little dream of yours to come true, now would we?" Mad Jack smirked, knowing he had Sydney cornered.

Dream? Joe blinked, confused. What dream? What was Mad Jack going on about now? He looked to Sydney to see if she knew what was going on, and the terrified look on her face told him that she did. Her eyes widened in fear and her head moved in all directions, as if she was just now realizing where she was. Was he missing something? Or was the pain in his arm making it hard to think?

Joe narrowed his eyes at his uncle. If he had the energy he would have attacked Mad Jack with everything he had. He regretted ever bringing Sydney into this. If he had never showed up at her concert and taken her to Greece, none of this would be happening. "Leave her alone, Jack."

Mad Jack chuckled and shook his head in response. He cast a sidelong glance at Joe. "Easy there, boy. You should be careful what you say. You're closer to repeating her dream than you think. Trust me when I say you do not want that to happen. It didn't have a good ending for you."

Joe looked back at Sydney, who was avoiding eye contact with him. Her head hung low and he could see a slight shaking in her hands. Joe's lips tilted down in a frown. Sydney had had a dream about Mad Jack and apparently, did not tell Joe about it. When did this happen? His mind reached back, trying to remember.

The memory of Sydney clinging to him and mumbling in her sleep two days ago played before Joe's eyes. She had refused to talk about her nightmare, and now Joe knew why. He mentally smacked himself for not realizing it sooner. He sneered at his uncle with renewed anger. "You gave her that nightmare. You manipulated her dream like you did to me in Antarctica."

"Well, aren't you a clever one?" Mad Jack spoke to Joe as if he were a toddler, making him even more irritated. "Yes, Joseph, that is exactly what I did. However, the dream I showed her was a warning, a premonition of what was to come. That day is finally here. And unless she wants it to come true, she will do exactly as I tell her to."

"Don't talk like I'm not here," Sydney snapped. Her fists flared to life in a dazzling green glow. "Your stupid little dream trick doesn't scare me. Because that's all it was, a dream. You cannot manipulate me because you do not control me. I will not work for you. And Joe and I will escape this hell-hole alive. Your fate may not be so pleasant."

Her dark words sent a disturbing chill down Joe's spine, but he didn't have time to think about them because Mad Jack chose that moment to charge at Sydney, his sword pointed directly at her heart.

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