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 favour 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 armoured 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 armour does your hair sink into your skull or does your armour 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.
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.
“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 favour for you in exchange for taking the fall for me that one time.” The White Rabbit explained arrogantly “And the favour 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 behaviour 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.
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.”
“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 marvellous 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.
“The half-breeds name is Morphan.”
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.”
To be continued…