The Hero

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Chapter 7: Level Nine

Night led them through Firefly Cove and into caves and tunnels, they walked for hours it seemed like, and every now and then, they stopped for Hugh’s sake.

“Well Night, do you think the healing tank is going to give me back my eyes?” Alistair asked.

“I don’t know,” Night replied. “We’re almost there. Shade, Kale and Naya will meet us in town before we enter into the portal to level nine.”

“How did you get access to level nine for three others?” Hugh asked.

“Well, actually, I’ve already made it to level nine with Victoria, and if five people make it to level nine, then all of them can take one extra teammate. It’s just the way the system was created.” Night shrugged his shoulders.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel and when they embraced it, it ended up being a large cavern.

Night didn’t mention the part about it being so he could gain my trust and help me control it, she thought.

“Victoria, remember when Naya was stabbed by the boss on level eight?” Night asked.

Victoria nodded. A few days ago, they’d adventured the levels and had finished all eight, two a day. Naya had almost been killed by the ‘Cryptface Knight’ in the previous level from nine. He had black thick armor and held a scythe; he could float around and hide in shadows. Victoria had almost lost the control she’d gained in the past seven levels, but instead, she healed Naya and they’d found it’s weakness. Night said he’d forgotten what it’s weakness was and the mainframe couldn’t be hacked because that’s the way he’d programed it.

“I think you can heal Hugh with your powers,” Night finished. They stopped again.

Victoria took a deep breath, she barely touched him on his lower arm with her hand when he pulled away, he rubbed the spot where she’d touched.

“That was cold!” Hugh exclaimed. He pulled up his sleeve and then he shivered, but then his eyes got wide. “I… my headache is gone!” he took off all of his bandages and threw them aside. “Thanks Vic.”

She smiled slightly and they continued downward to the cavern’s surface.

“Hey Night, can you tell me how all of the dragons in this world can’t remember their old lives?” Hugh asked. He ducked under a rock arch.

“Well, my father made an agreement with the royals of your dimension that he would take all of the dragons and their accomplices like the Dragonborn and dragon riders to his world so that the royals wouldn’t have to deal with them. Some of the royals disagreed and believed that they could live in peace, but the war had already started. So the dragons were heavily wounded, and the humans would have killed them, but my father opened a portal and saved them, taking them into my world and placing them in healing tanks. I created this world for my sister originally, but I made it by my dad’s request that they would forget everything, or just think it was a dream so that when they left Traum, it would make my dad look like a hero. Everyone gets their memories back when they get out of the tanks.” Night stopped at a stone wall, then he pulled out a key and pushed it into a crack in the wall.

“Was there by any chance that you saved a dragon rider’s parents?” Hugh asked.

“If you want to find that out, you’d have to go to the Traum records on Safire Peak. Everyone who has entered into this world has been recorded there,” Night replied as he pushed opened the door.

“You might even find your dragon,” said Naya.

“Really?” Hugh asked.

They entered in through a wall and Victoria saw the small village lit up with golden lights in a forest. The stone door shut behind them and they made their way to the leader’s wooden hut.

“How long has that secret entrance been there?” Hugh asked.

“When I created Firefly Cove,” Night replied.

They walked through the entrance into the small hut and two figures were going over the map that was carved into the table in the center of the room.

“Kale, Shade,” said Night. “Glad you got my message.”

“Likewise, hey Hugh,” said Shade. “Glad you didn’t die in Ash Guard.”

“Same, I still don’t know how I survived,” Hugh replied. “Hi Kale.”

“Hey Hugh,” said Kai. “I guess I’d better call you by your pen name.”

“Yeah,” Hugh replied.

“Alright, let’s get started on where we’re headed,” said Shade. He pointed at a unfinished corner of the table and unsheathed his razor sharp knife. “I think the boss room must be somewhere in the end or next to the border of the level, but this level is so difficult, the monsters spawned after three days. We have to find the boss room and kill whatever stupid monster lies behind those doors!” He struck the wood and left the knife wobbling as he let go of it.

Victoria looked over at Alistair and something about him was uneasy.

“Everything ok, Alistair?” Victoria whispered.

He blinked and rubbed his forehead with his index finger and his thumb. “Yeah I’m fine,” he whispered. He looked at Night who exchanged the glance.

Victoria knew they weren’t telling her something, but she would keep her mouth shut for now, she would find out sooner or later.

“We’ll take this path until further notice,” said Shade. He traced his finger down an invisible path through a city looking area. “The worst part about this place is that it’s floating above dark clouds. Every wicked henchman from all levels comes out of them, including a new type.”

“I’m going to need an update on them, but I got through the first three levels,” said Hugh.

“Level four was a desert with a canyon and scorpions and the boss was a giant crab. Level five was a tortoise that could turn you into a smaller turtle, no henchmen. Level six was facing your fear in henchmen and the boss was a golden eagle. Level seven was facing illusions made by a girl with shadow powers. Level eight was a bunch of warriors in black armor and the boss was named Cryptface,” Shade ended.

“How did you get out of level nine without finishing it?” Hugh asked.

“I picked up a teleporting device from defeating level seven,” Shade replied.

Victoria remembered that Alistair was a human, is that what’s bothering him? She thought. It doesn’t make him that different, but if that were it, how would he even remember that? What’s bothering him? I wonder what’s under his blind fold…

“Victoria,” said Naya, loudly.

Victoria snapped out of a daze. Everyone stared.

“Yes?” Victoria replied.

Shade traced his finger over a carved area. “You’re going to guard our backs, mostly take out the archers but make sure no one gets past you, Night and Naya will take the front, being the most advanced warriors—”

“Uh, can I say something?” Alistair asked.

Shade gestured him to go forward with it.

“I think that in the last few levels the boss room has been at the far end of the level, am I correct?” Alistair asked.

Shade and Kai nodded.

“But this map looks like you haven’t even found out how big it is; you might have already found the border but not know it. What if it’s more up or down? What if the boss isn’t in a room? They might appear when you’ve gotten on top of the building,” Alistair traced a finger on top of the buildings. It stopped at a certain one in the very middle of the city. “Here,” he said.

“What? How do you know?” asked Shade.

“I probably went to level nine a long time ago and died, you know the story,” said Alistair.

He’s hiding something, I know it. How did he even get to level nine? He didn’t come with us and by the looks of it, he didn’t get there with Shade and Kai. What is his secret? Victoria saw the unease in Alistair, but Night had something hidden too, is it the same secret? It’s not really a surprise to me, we are all dragons trapped in a world of wonders and only Night and Naya know the treasures in this world.

“We don’t know what the boss’s powers are so make sure to use only your Penn names,” Shade paused for a moment. “Let’s review them for Hugh’s sake. My Penn name stays Shade.”

“Kale,” said Kai.

“Day,” said Night.

“Dawn,” said Naya.

“KyuExec,” said Alistair.

His name means ‘nine’ in Japanese, does it have to do with level nine? she thought. “Cre,” said Victoria.

“My Penn name’s Blade. So now that we know where we’re going and which road we’re taking, what are we waiting for?” Hugh asked. He adjusted his belt and checked his gear.

“Let’s move out, we might get lucky and get there at dawn, that would give us enough light until dusk,” said Shade. “It gets crazy at night with all the streetlights.”

They checked their gear for the fourth time before they went through the gate of level nine named ‘King City’, but something was definitely off with Alistair as they walked through the light of the gateway.

Is that fear in his eyes, or excitement?

Cromose

“Where’s Draya?” Honiccu said in a panic.

Everyone looked around, but Draya was not in the shelter.

“She’ll die out there!” said Talon. He was getting up to go out into the storm when Gem grabbed his arm.

“I’ll go,” she said.

“No, I can find her,” said Talon.

“Wait, Gem has a heat sensor in her eye, if she points us in the right direction we can find her faster,” said Cromose. Hopefully it didn’t break in the pipes, if that were the case then I think this would be problematic, but aren’t these people from the desert? She might have made a shelter already.

“Conner, she can survive without us,” said Honiccu. “She did before we came along.”

“Yes, but don’t you remember what she lost and why she was in the desert in the first place?” Talon replied.

“You know she doesn’t like us talking about that!” said Honiccu.

Cromose looked from Honiccu to Talon, then signaled Gem and Snowfly to follow him and they all snuck out of the shelter and Cromose almost fell over by the intensity of the wind and sand. He signaled Snowfly to keep her wings tucked to her back so she wouldn’t break a wing or fly off. “Gem, scan the area and find her!” he yelled over the wind.

“What?” she asked/ yelled back.

“Scan the area!” he repeated. He looked around and could barely see three feet in front of him. “Snowfly, where are you?”

No reply came, just the roar of the wind.

“I scanned the area, there is a massive object crashing and the wind is pulling it toward us!” yelled Gem. “Snow fly is out of earshot, but she found Draya, they’re about fifty feet ahead, but the object will hit them in about ten seconds!”

Cromose used his speed to get to them, but the wind was working against him and he fell over several times, but he finally reached them. Draya had her foot stuck in a hole and rocks had filled it up. Cromose pulled, but it wouldn’t budge. If he pulled to hard she would lose her foot and bleed out. He finally saw the object Gem told him about. He spread his wings over them just as the battleship crashed into them.

Josh

“We’ve lost altitude! Prepare for impact!” Josh yelled into the microphone that carried throughout the ship. He looked over to Fey who had a slight limp from the broken leg and he seemed to be slightly out of it.

“Josh, hold onto something.” Fey broke the window and flew out into the sandstorm.

“Fey!” Josh yelled. He must have had some good reason, but why in the world would he jump out a window? He thought. “Abandon ship! Abandon ship!” he held onto the railing as the ship went upside-down and was spinning through the air. It made a jolt as it hit the ground and rolled. Then something hit the front and it came to an abrupt halt which launched Josh forward into the steering wheel. He laid on the floor and listened to the roar of the wind outside. “Ow,” he rubbed his head and reached up for the mic. “Is everyone ok?” he asked after he pulled it down.

There was static until Josh heard a beep.

“Still alive,” said Jethro.

“Same here,” said Hotaru.

Josh got up slowly and then balanced himself on the dashboard. Then he looked around to see if he could find his pilot goggles he’d taken off and hung on a small hook on the dash board. They were nowhere to be found in the low lighting of the extra battery.

Jethro and Hotaru opened the hatch and climbed onto the bridge.

“Have you guys seen my goggles?” Josh asked.

Hotaru let out a small chuckle. “What’s that on your face?”

“What do you mean?” Josh reached up and felt the plastic and leather over his eyes. “Oh.”

Jethro and Hotaru started laughing historically. Josh smiled. And they started laughing even harder.

“What?” Josh asked.

The laughter died down.

Jethro looked around, a worried expression on his face. “Where’s Fey?” he asked.

Josh looked at the broken window. “He jumped out,” he said.

The howl of the wind calmed down, then ceased entirely.

“We’d better go look for him,” said Josh.

Victoria

They followed the pathway Shade and Kale had showed them and it was chaos, every monster they’d ever faced was against them, they were coming from all directions as Victoria tried to guard the flank. Night and Naya did a good job of hacking through their defenses, while Shade and Kale defended the sides. Hugh and Alistair were all over the place, it seemed like they were taking out the archers and other larger foes. Victoria concentrated on her side at the monsters, all of the sudden all of them dropped to the ground holding their heads in agony. Victoria slowly clenched her fist and her enemies completely lay still.

She turned and saw the shocked expression on everyone’s faces as she hadn’t just killed the monsters in the back, she had killed all of them. No one made a sound. She noticed Alistair adjusting his blind fold.

“How did you…?” Hugh’s voice trailed off.

“I… I don’t know,” she replied. She looked at her hands and then back at them, they all were at least cut once, Shade and Kale were badly wounded and Naya had a cut across her cheek and bleeding at her left arm. Night had been stabbed at the knee, but Alistair had a knife in his shoulder, but seemed fine. Something was definitely wrong.

“Nice work Cre. Let’s heal up and keep moving,” said Night. He stepped forward and took off his glove to touch Victoria’s wrist. Naya stopped him. “Naya, what are you doing?”

“You can’t, not after that,” she said.

Victoria was shocked, she felt tears forming in her eyes. She swallowed. “I’ll meet you guys in the boss room.” she turned and ran. They were calling her name as it echoed through the lifeless streets. She’d memorized the map and knew exactly where she was, but right now she didn’t care, she jumped onto a building and sat behind a chimney and just let the tears flow down her cheeks. She wiped them from her eyes and noticed that her tears had turned into snowflakes. Victoria climbed onto a taller building and continued until she was on the tallest one in the area. She went to the edge of the round building and climbed up a large pole in the middle of it. For the first time in a long time, she felt free. She let one arm hang and held on with her other hand as she watched the city lights turn on by the setting of the sun. The city, she realized was not in the clouds like Ash Guard had been set up, but above them. She looked up as the breeze blew her hair in her face. She moved it out of the way and saw the stars sparkling like a million fireflies, and then they gently descended, their blue lights dancing all around her. They started forming a picture... “Fey?” she reached forward to touch him, but the fireflies dispersed, then reformed. He pointed to words written in the sky: I’LL BE THERE SOON, I PROMISE. Then the blue fireflies dispersed into the sky and disappeared among the stars.

She didn’t feel tired, she felt as if she could conquer the world. She leaped forward and landed with a somersault. She kept running, and leaping over large gaps. Her momentum allowed her to do inhuman things, she felt like she was flying. She stopped a few minutes later to catch her breath. She realized that she was on the building that Alistair had pointed to… when he appeared. He was in front of a glowing bright blue light and had something in his hand, it was obviously a cloth…

“Hey Victoria, sorry for the grand entrance, but I always teleport here if someone makes it to the ‘boss room’,” said Alistair.

It finally clicked. Alistair is the level nine boss. That’s why he was so hesitant to tell me what was wrong, and why he and Night kept exchanging glances, and why his Penn name is KyuExec. Nine Boss. It makes sense now! “Why did you come out of the level?”

“No one has ever beaten me. I was lonely and so my desire to leave started corrupting my programing. Night saw the problem and started coming to this level. Soon after we became best friends and he snuck me out of this world a few times, but the scientist tracked us down in your world and permanently disabled me—”

“Who is the scientist?” she asked.

“Night and Naya’s dad, he’s one of the last Onyx Drakes and he can travel through dimensions. I’m his first of many humans that he’s going to bring into this world.” Alistair saw a question brewing in her mouth, but held up a finger to stop her. “The system is almost a replica of the world I’m from and I was adopted by the scientist after being a street rat and in the experimental stuff Gem’s dad produced. He was basically making an army, but also taking us into this world. He mass produced a game just like this world and he was also working for the scientist. I was the best player, so the scientist took me to his lab and put me in one of the tanks, there was a small dysfunction because the system was originally meant for dragons, but there was one loop hole that Night found: making me the level nine boss.” He finished.

His stance changed and Victoria felt hostility in the air. She moved to the left just in time as a scythe crashed into the roof, barley missing her face. Cryptface? she thought. She dodged a crab pincher as it broke a hole in the sealing. She flipped and shot a powerful blast of diamond ice at Cryptface’s weapon, but he disappeared into smoke. A giant tortoise crashed down and she almost was squished. She shielded herself from all of the debris that flew at her and she landed into water from the top floor. A giant squid came out of nowhere and wrapped it’s tentacles around her so that she was dragged under into the darkness of the water. She couldn’t breathe and couldn’t move out of the tight grasp of the squid. All ten of its tentacles were stuck to her skin. It took her upward and she started to freeze it, but then she felt the same thing that made her stuck to that table underground. The squid floated to the surface and she coughed out water and took a deep breath. The grip of the squid tightened and wrapped one of its tentacles wrapped around her head, covering her mouth and tilting her head up leaving only her eyes open so that she was face to face with Alistair. His eyes were closed and Victoria saw the seven other bosses standing or floating behind him.

“I promise, it will be quick,” he said. He opened his eyes to reveal a pair of a deep scarlet color.

Victoria squeezed her eyes shut, ready for him to hit a vital part of her to make an instant kill.

“You have tremendous power, it’s sad that I have to kill you off, I wish I’d gotten to know you a little better.” He pulled the tentacle down from her mouth. “I boosted your power and linked it toward all of the monsters. That’s how they all dropped dead.”

What is he doing? She opened her eyes and noticed him looking down. His look was of sadness and gilt. Is he trying to delay my death? Wait, my hand is free! She created a diamond dagger and stabbed the squid’s tentacle, it let her go and Alistair looked up with surprise. She swam upward, but the squid wrapped a tentacle around her ankle, trying the same tactic. She decided to freeze the water around her until the whole room was encased in ice. She couldn’t move, but neither could the squid. She’d learned a technique from dealing with the same problem in level seven with one of the illusions from the shadow girl, it was a blast that felt like it came from her heart. It completely obliterated the diamond ice and the squid. She dodged a shadow spike and then shot a ice sphere bomb at the tortoise. It exploded completely encasing it’s shell and stubby legs in diamond. The crab, golden eagle and a full black armored knight surrounded her, slowly circling. Victoria ducked as the knight swung it’s sword over her. She hit the floor with both hands and deadly spikes of diamond appeared then they split up and hit the crab in his weak spot, right under his third leg on his left side. Then she blocked a blow of the sword with her arm, the pain of the sword in her arm stung, then she touched the breastplate and the knight fell over, first shaking, then turned into smoke. Its sword disappeared, leaving her wound open, and she made the dagger long skinny sword and impaled the golden eagle behind her without turning around while healing her wound. Victoria backed into the shadows away from the light in the center. Dark Star from level three jumped into the hole through in the roof, but before he landed Victoria had killed him. the lion was a lot smaller then she remembered, but it made a larger hole and started cracking the floor on the level she was on, he roared, showing it’s deadly teeth and then leaped at her. She made a diamond wall, but it broke, on the impact and sent her flying through the wall. As she was falling the lion above her continued to growl as it reached its claws out for the kill, she blasted it with diamond and it went limp. Then the shadow girl and Cryptface appeared, flying down at her like bullets, the wind in her ears roared like the lion, she twisted her body around so that she was facing the ground hundreds of feet below her.

Did the building grow? Victoria thought. She formed another sword as she turned the side, avoiding a shot by the shadow girl. Cryptface appeared next to her and she blocked his scythe and thrust her sword, but he disappeared. The shadow girl finally caught up with her and had a midnight blade that could go through anything. Victoria noticed something as she dodged the blade and smashed into the wall of the building… the floor wasn’t getting any closer. The wall debris had cut her face and she was in the building, Cryptface and the shadow girl appeared over her and she felt her vision leaving, she felt her hands being encased by shadow and the blurry images of Cryptface and the shadow girl seemed like they just stood there. Victoria refused to fall asleep, so she tried to get up, but she was stuck to the floor, her vision was cleared by her healing. Alistair came into the room and pulled off the hoods of the shadow girl and Cryptface as they picked Victoria off the floor and placed her on her knees. Cryptface took off his mask with his free hand so did the shadow girl… they were human.

“I just wanted you to see us as what we are instead of being monsters,” said Alistair.

“Why? You’re going to kill me, why would you show me this?” Victoria asked.

“We’re what’s going to happen if the scientist succeeds,” said Cryptface. “Then, our world will end and we won’t be able to stop it. We’ll just be malfunctions in a software device, unless night fixes that, then we’ll be warriors in a software device.”

“Why haven’t you talked to Night about this?” Victoria asked. The tension from their grip left and they let her go. She stretched her arms and relaxed.

“They did, but I can’t do it fast enough to actually update the process, and my dad won’t let me,” said Night. “Sorry I’m late, I had to face a few of your illusions, Peety.” He gestured to the shadow girl. She made a small apologetic nod. “I really wish I could get to Cromose and tell him, but my telepathy doesn’t work inside the sphere.”

“Then how am I able to communicate with Fey?” Victoria asked.

Everyone in the room turned their attention toward Victoria.

“Well, only a few words, but he talked to me on a building, using the lightning bugs, saying he’d be here soon,” said Victoria. She didn’t see what was so significant about this. Do they need me to contact him, or did something happen to him?

“He must be using dream speech,” said Night.

“Dream speech, what’s that?” Hugh jumped into the room from a hole in the ceiling. “Hey Alistair, who are they?”

Alistair made sure never to make eye contact, with anyone except Cryptface and the shadow girl. He nodded to them and they both changed stances from ready to attack to friendly.

“This is Jeak,” Alistair said about Cryptface, “And Peety,” he gestured to the shadow girl. “So now that all of the team is watching, shall we get started?”

“Just one question, whose side are you on Victoria?” said Naya from above them.

“Uh, I don’t really know, can’t we just not fight and settle this by negotiating?” Victoria replied.

Alistair nodded ‘no’.

Victoria felt a sharp pain under her shoulder blade. She turned around to see Dusk, holding a gun, standing next to Rogan, Tkar, Tarak, Elisabeth and a kid on an Air-board.

“Hey gang, why are you all here?” Alistair asked.

“No… he didn’t… how did he…?” Night mumbled. “Naya, code red, He tempered with the system.” Night ducked as they started firing at everyone in sight. “Naya!”

Naya grabbed her head like when all of the minions died. She started screaming, so did Shade and Kai. Hugh seemed unaffected by what was taking place, he rushed over to Kai and Shade, but then the screaming stopped and they all lay still. Victoria by instinct, pulled Hugh away from the still bodies and ran, just in time to, because they all got up and started chasing after them with all of their power and speed of… dragons.

Night stood still. “Please, stop! Father!”

Victoria saw that they were pointing their weapons at him and in passing, she grabbed his wrist and they ran upward to the top of the building. When they got to the roof, Alistair, Jeak and Peety stood there with their defenses up.

Victoria got ready to blast them, but they waved their hands in front of them, with facial expressions that told Victoria that they were on her side.

“We can only let one of you pass through the portal because you didn’t kill us, I’m sorry, that’s the way the scientist reprogramed it,” said Alistair. “Wait, we’re getting a new program. No! I won’t, I can’t, No!”

“Get through the portal fast! We’re ordered to kill you!” said Jeak.

“Then why is Hugh and Night not affected?” Victoria asked. “Never mind, just open the portal.”

Hugh looked from her to Night. “Alright, who’s going through?”

Night and Victoria exchanged a glance.

“If I leave, then the system dies with me. I’ve got lung issues,” said Night.

“I can’t because I’ve got poison in my blood only toxic to dragons,” said Victoria. She’d read Night’s mind and even though she wanted to leave this nightmare, she couldn’t until she was completely healed. Why didn’t you say anything? I would have gladly accepted my fate.

“I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how to tell you,” Night replied in his mind. “It’s already begun in my mind to.”

Alistair drew a circle with his finger in front of him while holding his head. A swirl of green and blue appeared with the portal. “Just think of who you want to see the most and the portal will take you to them.” he dropped to his knees.

“I can’t go! Fey wants to see you Victoria!” Hugh exclaimed.

Victoria through him in like a slingshot, having a gunshot miss him just barley. A fireball almost hit her, but she jumped and flipped over. All of them came after her with incredible speed. She ducked from the scythe and jumped over a sword swing at the same time by twisting sideways. The corner that hadn’t been destroyed by the previous battle was packed by brainwashed people and Victoria was right next to the edged, almost sliding off. She blocked bullets with two new swords and made sure not to kill, Maybe they’ll stop? I don’t know how long I can go without hurting them. C’mon Victoria, you can do it!

Night had been the last to have the brain washing and Victoria didn’t know when it was her turn. Four hooded men armed with whips appeared behind her and all of them drew their arms back at the same time, and launched. Victoria instinctively blocked all of them with one of her swords, which concluded with her sword flying out of her hand and all of the others saw the dictation and took the chance to leap on her, securing her arms, legs and wrapping chains around her legs which held her to the ground. They pushed her to her knees, holding her head up. The only one who wasn’t holding her down was… Alistair. He stood in front of her, eyes closed.

“Please! Stop!” Victoria felt a blow to the back of her head.

He opened his eyes and she felt enormous pain in her head, but only for a moment. The others let go of her arms and the shadows disappeared. Her eyes were still open, but her body didn’t move to catch itself as she hit the stone floor… dead.

Jethro Chapter 8: The Hero And The Tears Of A Dragonborn

Jethro Firefly (Hotaru) and Josh came to the bow of the ship and saw a bump in the sand, and Fey lying beside a dent in the ship.

The bump started moving, then shook off the sand with wings of silver. The silver and white hair was unmistakable, he’d only seen it once, but he remembered it clearly. It was the day after he’d recovered from the explosion and had broken his helmet, but Jethro had only seen his back that day.

Cromose looked behind him and saw Fey collapsed, then moved something out of the way, a large piece of metal which was stuck in the ground and helped another girl out of a hole. At first Jethro thought the girl was Gem, until she ran over with two more boys.

Jethro wanted to charge him and make him pay for killing Fey, turning Gem into a cyborg and for kidnaping both her and Fi’s friend, but he had to come up with a plan.

Josh had trotted over there before Josh could say anything. So he followed, using the darkness of night as his hiding place. Somehow, from Jethro’s perch he could see that Fi had changed his cloths and looked like he was born here… He probably was, he thought.

Josh

“Fey!” Josh ran to him and broke through the crowd around him. Fey had a trickle of blood going down his wrist and Josh tore part of the bottom of his shirt to bandage the broken hand.

“Hey aren’t you Joshua Macerov?” asked a taller boy.

“Yeah. Hotaru, hand me some of your water.” Josh reached out his hand, but the tall boy grabbed his wrist.

“You’re a royal,” he said.

“Let his go,” said Hotaru in a cold deep voice, almost imitating Fey exactly.

The hostility in the air raised higher and higher.

“No point in hiding Jethro, we can read your thoughts,” said the other boy that looked just like Jethro, but it was hard to tell with the lack of light.

It was like a shadow that came down and knocked the duplicate of Jethro that was when the fighting began. Josh had taken a long dagger and only blocked blows, for some reason, they were going after Fey.

“Hotaru, defend Fey!” Josh yelled between the chaos of the battle.

Hotaru lit up the whole area with his fire and the Soarenborn stared in awe.

“Are you the lost prince of the Tameth Kingdom?” asked the Soarenborn.

Hotaru nodded.

He got on one knee, like a knight would. “I can’t fight for you, but I can choose not to fight you.”

Hotaru reached out a hand for him to help him up, but something happened, there opened up a portal and the Soarenborn was sucked through.

Someone screamed, then ignited like Hotaru.

“Conner!” yelled the tall boy and he jumped into the portal.

Josh looked around and saw that a girl had a knife at Fey’s throat. “No!” he jumped at the girl before she made the kill.

She blocked the knife that Josh was holding and now he was making deadly blows with his knife, he just barely missed her face, but cut her mask.

“Still trying to be a leader Josh?” she asked. She ran at him while he was in shock.

He shook it off and blocked the blade and swung his knife at her once more, this time he cut her mask off. “How do you know about that?” he demanded.

She walked forward into the light of the moon and Josh dropped his knife. “Draya?” She’s alive…

She ran forward and then rolled, putting her knife in his stomach; he looked down and then looked back at her. She dragged him into the portal, as he fell unconscious, paralyzed by the short blade she’d carried.

Jethro

“Fi, Snowfly’s on Cromose’s team!” Jethro yelled.

“I know! They took Josh through the portal!” Fi blocked an ice ball blown at him and didn’t really fight back, just dodged and blocked. “Gem to.”

“I can see that!” he waved one of his hands which made dark solid energy to block the blade Gem had. “Why are you fighting me, Gem? Why aren’t you on our side?” he pushed her back with a dark wall. She looked at him with surprise. “What?” he asked.

“You killed his best friend,” said Gem.

Night, the sidekick… right? Jethro thought. “First of all, it was an accident, second of all, it was an explosion that killed him, not me.” he blocked another blow from the blade that had poisoned Fey. He had a quick glance of the portal as it seemed to slowly grow bigger. They had battled about twenty paces from the ship, when the debris starred flying in like a tornado, sucking the whole ship in. One of the pieces flew toward them and Jethro jumped at Gem, knocking her down as the piece just barely missed them by a hair.

Gem rolled over him and had her blade at his throat.

“I have a chip in my central nerve system!” Cromose yelled. “Gem don’t do it!”

Gem took the blade away from him and went into a neutral position.

“What?” Jethro asked. What is he talking about? What’s going on?

“Everyone, run from me!” his head dropped and his eyes closed, then he raised his head slowly and lit on blue fire. His expression was angry, but it didn’t meet his eyes.

Oh! I get it, his cerebrum has a chip that turns his consciousness off, but controls the basic movements of his soma! It makes perfect sense!

“What?” Fi asked in his mind.

“How long have you been— oh never mind, so basically there is a chip in his head that controls his actions by shutting him off,” Jethro thought. He started to feel the tug of the portal as it got bigger and bigger. Gem was starting to slide and reached for Jethro, her hand was centimeters away from his, then some of the larger pieces of debris were sucked in, so he ducked as one flew over him, but Gem wasn’t so lucky. It hit her and she flew into the tornado of sand the portal had created. “Gem!”

“Cromose, we’re friends, snap out of it!” Snowfly was slowly backing toward the portal with Cromose in front of her. Fi got in front of Snowfly, but Cromose punched him. Fi blocked, but the force of it sent him flying backwards into Snowfly and they both got caught by the wind and fell into the portal.

“Fi!” Jethro yelled. He dashed forward and slammed himself into Cromose, knocking them both over.

Cromose got hold of a block of a structure and tried to shake Jethro off of his arm. Jethro held on for dear life and started to feel his hands burning. He looked up and saw that Cromose was focusing all of his heat on the spot where Jethro was holding him and winced.

This is not good, he thought, squeezing his eyes closed and gritting his teeth against the pain.

The portal closed an instant later and they both fell into the sand.

Jethro gasped, trying to catch his breath as he laid on the floor. Before he could get in a full breath, though, he was grabbed by the back of his shirt and felt the burn again.

He flipped backwards, trying to get out of Cromose’s iron grip, but Cromose just went with it, planting his feet into Jethro and kicking him to the ground.

Jethro landed hard, dust and sand kicking up around him in a cloud. He coughed and sputtered, tears rolling down his cheeks as he tried to get the sand out of his eyes.

Cromose was flying and Jethro was seeing him in blurs, his eyes refused to focus as he seemed to get closer and closer. He tried to move, but Cromose had hit one of his nerve points and burned him in the back of the neck to the point that it hurt to move.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Cromose’s descent got nearer.

Jethro closed his eyes, knowing his death had finally come. Then, he opened his eyes, determined to face death with at least a little bravery. He crossed his arms and put up a shield, knowing that it wouldn’t hold. How do I get out of this? I feel like I can’t move, he thought. He looked up and saw that Cromose was about two inches from the shield. Is this the end?

Fey appeared at Jethro’s side, paler than ever. “Someday, hopefully, you’ll understand how to use the speed you have. Victoria was the first to naturally use it.” The last part he mumbled under his breath as he pushed Cromose’s elbow, then slammed into him.

Time sped up as Fey sent himself and Cromose flying into a sand mountain.

Fey is at his last draw and all I can do is sit here? pitiful.

A bright light flashed in front of him. Jethro shielded his eyes and, as the light disappeared, he let his arm drop and in place of the light he could see a short boy with white hair.

His whole face lit up. “Fey!” he leaped on Jethro, wrapping his arms around him, squeezing the burn on the back of his neck, sending a sharp pain shooting down his spine and he let out a loud groan. Then he pushed the boy away.

“Who are you?” Jethro yelled angrily. I probably shouldn’t have reacted that way.

“It’s me, Hugh. What’s up with you?” the boy asked.

Jethro noticed the boy’s disappointment and it gripped him in the heart. “I’m sorry, but my name is Jethro, Fey’s over there.” he pointed at a cloud of dust and light shooting, making more dust fly.

Hugh looked in that direction and started running, then was out of breath within the first twenty meters. “Why… huh… am I… huh… so outta shape?” he wheezed. Was it because of the prosthetic water that basically paralyzed me? Why am I thinking in these technical terms?!

Jethro read his thoughts and then saw that Cromose and Fey were flying back this way. “Kid, duck!”

A blue light of fire was approaching the kid, but he stood firm.

Jethro ran toward Hugh to get him outta the way. His heart was racing as he felt the pain, but ignored it. “Get outta the way!” he repeated. He grabbed Hugh’s arm and pulled.

“Hey! Fey’s in that ball of fire! I can cool it down!” said Hugh.

“But you’re human!” said Jethro. He pulled harder, but Hugh wouldn’t budge, he seemed to have glued his feet to the sandy floor.

“Move!” Hugh shoved Jethro to the side and took the full impact of the fire ball.

Jethro spit out the sand that entered his mouth and saw Hugh ignite like Cromose, except that Jethro could feel the cold burning off of Hugh.

“Hugh! He has the onyx blade!” Fey yelled.

Cromose’s attention turned from Hugh to Fey, then he cut Hugh on the nose as he left it the only place vulnerable in his attack.

Hugh held his nose and shrieked in pain.

Cromose stopped right over Fey and extended the sword.

Where did he get that? Jethro thought. I’ve got to help him! he tried to get up, but he was slow and shaking. I’m not gonna make it!

The blade of the sword had oil dripping off the end of it; it caught ablaze with a orange reddish glow. The sword ready to make it’s kill, Cromose raised it above his head, making a frown of anger, but it never met his eyes.

Cromose let out a yelp as he fell backwards, Hugh had kicked the back of Cromose’s knees and then punched him in the face as he was on the ground.

Jethro glanced at Fey and noticed that Fey had been stabbed in the kidney and his leg’s wound reopened from when it was broken. Jethro crawled over to him, the pain was intense as he almost blacked out twice.

“Fey, are you ok?” Jethro asked.

Fey’s body was limp, then he started twitching like he was on fire, he was mumbling something, but Jethro couldn’t make it out. Jethro put his ear to Fey’s mouth, “Out of the darkness and into the light, out of the cave and into the night, out of the shadow and into the fight. Out of the darkness and into the light, the touch of ice come’s with fire so bright. Out of the blaze and into the light, Ice like the fire shall burn in the night. Death shall come to the hero –at dawn or at night? The hero will come in an unlikely form, with a strength in his soul that can withstand any storm, with ice shall he rise up from the ground, and all that knew him shall utter a sound, like the trees in the morning after the frost, after he pays the ultimate cost!” his voice raised for the last two words as he sat up just to witness Cromose had impaled Hugh under the fifth rib with the sword still on fire. “No!” he screamed as he beat the ground with his fists and blew everyone backwards with a sonic blast.

Jethro flew at least fifty yards away, flipping over and over backwards uncontrollably. Is this Fey’s full power? How do I stop?! If only I had wings! he hit the sand and rolled a few paces, he finally slowed down just to turn his head and see a bright light shoot up into the exosphere and was blown away another fifty meters. When he came to a stop again, he felt the sand under him disappear and he was tumbling and twisting head first into a swirling blue, pink, green and many other colors in which he couldn’t describe as he blacked out.

Fey

Tears were rolling down his cheeks as the pain of losing all he had left in the world had left him. Hugh, why did you have to save me? Why couldn’t you just have let me die? Why didn’t I do anything? The bright light around him faded and he was lying on his back, watching the blurry image of the stars as more tears filled his eyes.

“Hello Feogo,” said the familiar voice of his old mentor.

Zane. Fey wiped the tears away from his eyes. The pain in his chest was still there, heart was still aching. “Have you come to torment me again?”

The scientist chuckled. “Long have I waited to kill you, and the opportunity has finally arrived.” He looked over at Cromose. “Kill him.”

The order has been given, but I still need to save my brother. The Drain will save him, I know it! I can’t die yet! Fey saw the blade falling in slow motion and smiled darkly. He rolled over with adrenalin and got on his feet, ignoring the pain in his leg and stomach.

“For a long time, I’ve been delaying your plan, but you will never take the crystal heart, I am it’s defender,” said Fey.

“Then why do I have the other half?” said Zane.

Fey made sure he was looking at the scientist, but in reality, he was searching Hugh. “You might have come from the future, but you will never keep the Diamonds in the Rough down!” he couldn’t find Hugh. All of the sudden his chest tightened up and he dropped to the knee that wasn’t shattered. “What is this?” he put his hand on his chest.

“It’s a fragment of the onyx blade, it’s as small as a blood vessel and travels to your heart, causing it to burn,” said Zane.

Hugh, I can’t die until I save you, Fey let the thought drive him, even though he felt like he was going to die, he stood up.

Cromose thrusted the sword, but Hugh took the blow and shifted to the right so that the blade missed Fey by centimeters.

Hugh glared at Cromose. “I told you,” he coughed “I wouldn’t let you kill Fey.” He took the sword and broke it.

Cromose dropped his sword and held his head as Hugh fell, no one catching him as he hit the floor and the dust fluffed up like a cloud.

Fey was in complete shock as he could feel the life of Hugh slip away. One of the torments of being half onyx drake is that you can feel the pain and loss of the people close to you. Hugh had closed his eyes and was smiling as the last of his life was taken from him.

Fey, don’t show emotion over me ok…?

Fey read Hugh’s last thoughts, every emotion he’d bottled up was bursting. Please no.

“Feogo, don’t you see that everyone you hold dear to you will be taken away?” asked Zane. “Why do you call them your brothers when you are just their clone specimen, a human that received half of the drain from both of them to create a perfect weapon against me!”

“What?” Cromose asked.

“You where lied to, Cromose. From the implants of memories, to your name, Den is your real name and Jethro is Drake. You both will bow to me!” said the scientist.

“Who?” Cromose asked.

Zane let out a sigh. “Well, you won’t even remember anyway, so there is really nothing more to say.” he opened a portal and sent Cromose through.

Fey dropped to his knees and bowed his head. He hadn’t felt the pain of his shattered knee until he’d dropped. For the first time in his life, he let the tears flow freely, not fighting back them, he just let it flow down his cheeks.

“You are pitiful,” said the scientist. “The Diamonds in the Rough shall never shine! They can never stop what I’ve created!”

Fey felt the floor underneath him. He could tell that it was hollow, I can still save him… “Uh—augh!” he screamed, balling his hands into fists and letting out a low scream. There was a bright flash of light and he fell on top of Hugh, letting out his last breath. Please, let that have been enough to break the surface, please… let the cavern open into the healing chamber.

Zane

It’s a pity I couldn’t have used them for my new world I’m going to create, a world that serves only me and you, thought Zane. He touched the tank of his sleeping wife. “Then we shall finally have peace.”

“You know that when an Onyx Dragon dies, he turns back into a baby right?” asked Night. He shook off the effects of the mind control by getting out of the tank. He stopped in front of the tank his mother was in.

“Yes, that’s why I took him here and put him in the system,” said Zane.

“What about his younger brother? He was a dragon rider,” Night replied.

“His body fell through a crack that Feogo had made as he was regenerating,” Zane replied. He’s quite impressive for dying. When he gets out of the tank he shall find that his petty group known as the Diamonds in the Rough is eradicated and the dimensions are ours… Taevarth.

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