Highrock Pack History Songs: Song for Three Voices - Part Seven
Kris trotted along the familiar road, a few blocks from his house. The faerie Lupess who called herself Shriek was behind him, limping only slightly now. They had been discharged from the hospital, and now they were on their way to the Darigan Lupe’s home to come up with a plan. Suddenly, Shriek lifted her nose, sniffing the air.
“I smell smoke...” she looked at Kris with horror, “a fire. There’s a fire somewhere nearby.”
The Darigan Lupe bristled with alarm. His sense of smell wasn’t as keen as Shriek’s, but concentrating, he realized that there was indeed a fire nearby. “C’mon,” he said. “Let’s just get to my house.” He picked up his pacing a little. He tried to tell himself that someone was having a backyard barbecue, but for some reason he could not shake a vague feeling of alarm. As he turned onto Bone Marrow Ave, he could see a column of smoke rising into the air.
It was coming from the direction of his neohome!
“No!” Kris yowled, darting forward. He exploded down the street, panic giving his paws wings, though his Darigan wings were still in no shape to fly. Shriek plowed after him, hampered by her wounded leg. Kris rounded the corner into the yard, and his jaw dropped in horror.
His neohome was ablaze. Standing in front of it was a split Lupe with a metal collar around his neck and a blank expression in his eyes. He was walking away from the blaze with Lou’s shirt collar in his mouth, dragging the unconscious youth.
“Will!” Kris yelped, dashing towards his brother. Was he trying to help Lou? Had he come home after all? The split Lupe turned around, and smacked Kris, sending him sprawling. “What... what...” he gasped.
Strike said in a flat, toneless voice, “I am exacting retribution. Do not interfere.” He turned around and pressed a button on his collar. In the next instant, he was gone.
“What the-” Kris started.
“Was that Strike?” Shriek asked, panting as she caught up with the Darigan Lupe. Kris nodded, and she went on, “It is as we feared. That band around his neck is one of Prototype’s obedience collars. It turns any Neopian wearing it into a slave.” She sniffed. “I still smell life in the house.”
Kris stiffened. “Seth! Yuki! Fang!” He scrambled up and dashed towards the house. As if summoned by his name, the little gruslen named Fang limped out of the burning building, whimpering. Kris nudged the petpet, checking him for injuries, but he seemed fine. “Watch him for me,” he said to Shriek. She nodded, and gathered Fang close to herself, licking the soot out of his fur.
The Darigan Lupe threw himself into the burning building. Little was visible through the smoke, and he crouched low to the ground to stay clear of it. “Seth!” he called. “Yuki!”
“Over here!” That was Yuki’s voice! Kris dashed towards her, dodging falling debris. He entered what had once been the kitchen, with a gasp of horror. The ceiling had fallen in. The splintered wood beams had given way, and through the haze of the smoke, he could make out two forms underneath the debris. Was he too late?
Looking closer, Kris realized that, though Seth was unconscious, he seemed otherwise fine. The beams just above him were being supported by a huge faerie Grarrl. Seth realized instantly that the lab ray must have finally done something right. As a Gelert, Yuki would have been crushed, but Grarrls were big and strong. Not only was Yuki holding the ceiling up, she was standing over Seth to protect him. Her wings were spread over the limp Halloween Zafara, shielding him from the blaze.
Recognizing Kris instantly, she bellowed, “Get Seth out of here!” With a nod, the Darigan Lupe grabbed the hood of Seth’s robe, and began dragging him out of the building. The Zafara groaned, and his eyes opened, but he was in shock and unresponsive. Managing to get him into the yard, he was surrounded by a flood of Neopets and humans. It seemed that the fire had at last gotten the attention of his neighbors. Shaking himself roughly, he dove back into the building, intent on getting Yuki to safety.
He dashed through the living room back into the kitchen, where Yuki was still pinned under the beams. Suddenly there was a resounding crash. Spinning around, Kris realized that the walls of the living room had just collapsed. There would be no getting out that way. Thinking fast, he managed to get the beams off of the Grarrl and bark, “Upstairs! NOW!”
The stairs to get to the second floor led directly into the kitchen. Lou had built the house this way so that he wouldn’t have to go far to get his breakfast in the morning. Unfortunately, he had also only installed windows in the second floor. He didn’t want sunlight to ruin the dark, dreary mood in the downstairs area of the house. This meant that the two Neopets had to get upstairs if they wanted to have a prayer of escaping.
Kris winced. Most of the floor in the upstairs rooms of the house had collapsed. The only place still stable was Seth’s room, and the hallway just in front of it. To get there, they would have to glide over the holes in the floor. Yuki did this immediately, with the effortless grace of long practice. Kris gulped, tentatively spread his splinted wing, and bit back a yelp of pain as he glided across the gap. Refolding his wings, he and Yuki rushed into the room.
Yuki glanced at the Darigan Lupe, who gestured with his paw for her to go first. She nodded, and with a grunt of effort, squeezed out of the window. She flapped her way to the ground, and Kris heard a resounding thump as she landed. He shook his head; Grarrls weren’t meant to fly.
He started forward, but suddenly there was a groan. He leapt backwards, just in time. A beam from the ceiling had collapsed, blocking his route to the window. However, when it smashed into the floor, the already flame-weakened wood gave out. Before he knew what was happening, Kris was falling amidst a see of flame and splintered wood. He fell into the inferno that was the first floor of the house. Kris braced himself for impact, and felt a flicker in the back of his mind. He suddenly felt much smaller, and there was a slight pressure on his neck. Indistinctly, his mind registered the sound of howling, and his vision clouded with a faint pink mist...
* * * * *
And he was lying on his back in his front yard. Yuki leaned over him, her eyes alight with fear. He quickly stood up, and glanced in the direction of his house. It had collapsed entirely. How in the world had he escaped?
Looking at Shriek, he received a shock. She was cloaked in the same pink mist that he had seen seconds before he came too in his yard. “You have faerie magic?” he asked, aghast. It made sense. She was a faerie Lupess after all. As the mist faded, Shriek lifted a paw and brushed it across her ear. Kris guessed that this gesture must be the wild Lupe’s equivalent of blushing, since she looked embarrassed.
“My pack mates seemed to think it was funny when they saw me using the magic the first few times,” she mumbled. “I got tired of being teased, so I only ever practiced in private. I don’t like to use it except in emergencies.”
Kris smiled. “Well, I’m glad that you classified my impending doom as an emergency. I though I was a goner there for a minute. Thanks.”
The faerie Lupess smiled, and for a moment her eyes met Kris’ in friendship. The moment was interrupted by Yuki, who coughed politely to get the attention of her brother.
“Kris... Care to fill me in?” she said plaintively.
“Ah, it’s a long story,” Kris said softly, “but I guess you deserve an explanation...”
* * * * *
“And this little machine is going to help us how exactly?”
Kris sighed. Shriek was hovering over him, the thing that annoyed him the most while working. All of his siblings knew better than to harass him during what they jokingly called “tinker time”.
Seth saved him, saying, “That thing is a signal disrupter. It is one of many that were used during the war with Sloth to break up communications between Sloth and his minions. Kris is modifying it.”
The Darigan Lupe nodded absently. Yuki had managed to rent the two rooms in the Tyrannian outpost of the Hotel Opera, one each for the girls and the boys. Shriek, Yukimi, and Seth had all gathered in the courtyard outside to discuss plans for rescuing Lou, Strike, and Shriek’s missing pack mates. Kris had just returned from the trading post, where he had put his Werelupe Fang Necklace up in exchange for a signal disrupter. It had somewhat astonished him how quickly he had been attacked with offers. Not only did he have the disrupter, he had also secured twenty thousand neopoints and a skunk paintbrush. He hadn’t believed Lou when the man had insisted that the necklace was a hidden tower item, but it seemed that his owner had been telling the truth.
Kris said, “Screwdriver,” and Yuki handed him the requested tool. Carefully gripping it in his teeth, Kris pried open the side of the disrupter. Setting down the screwdriver, he said, “If all goes well, I’ll realign the signal disrupter to break the collars brainwashing affects. It’s simple really. From your descriptions of what Prototype 12047 claimed its effects were, and my own observations seeing it on Wi... er, Strike, I can guess how the collars work. It’s a simple matter of neuro-wave technology. Essentially, a probe is inserted into the central nervous system. The collar sends out electromagnetic pulses along the nerves, mimicking the effect of the brain sending signals to the various parts of the body. If I can reroute the inhibiter coil to allow for maximum wave output-”
Kris gave a yelp. Seth had smacked his ears with a bony hand, “Yo, genius! You saved me. Don’t undo it by killing me with biology and physics. I flunked those classes, remember?”
The Darigan Lupe turned around, sheepish. Seth looked annoyed, and Yuki amused. Shriek had an expression of complete and total bafflement. Kris mimicked Shriek's earlier gesture, pawing at his ear in embarrassment. “Sorry. My bad.”
“He gets carried away sometimes,” Yuki explained to the faerie Lupess. “If you let him start talking science at you, he won’t come back to the real world for hours. It’s best to break him off early before he gets on a roll.”
Kris coughed. “Anyway, the point is that I should be able to render the collars inert. At least I hope so.”
Shriek shook her head. “And you found my magic impressive.”
Kris grinned, his red eyes flashing. “With my tech skills and your magic, we’ll rescue our friends and stop Prototype. I’m sure of it.”
To be continued...