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.
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.”
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.”
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 emphasise 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.
“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 armour 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 favour 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.”
To be continued...