Highrock Pack History Songs: Song for Three Voices - Part Ten
Kris had never felt so helpless. He disliked violence, and as such had never learned how to fight. The Gelert had him more than outmatched. How could he possibly...
Wait. He had something the Gelert didn’t have. He had wings.
With a grunt of effort, he kicked the mutant with his hind legs, managing to knock it off of him. He got his legs under him and quickly leapt into the air, wings pumping. From the air, he could see Strike, who was getting the better of his opponent, and Shriek, who was struggling. Lou had run into the other room, and was franticly trying to stop the countdown.
Kris yelped. The ceiling in the room was low, and his Gelert had managed to leap up and grab his tail. It tried to drag him down, and it was everything that Kris could do to keep himself up. How could he stop this thing? Even Shriek’s light magic...
Wait a minute! Light magic was now useless, but what about dark magic? “I’ve given you the dark skill Drain Life. Use it to drain the energy of your enemies and make it your own.”
The faerie may have been a thankless runt, but perhaps her reluctantly given gift could be useful after all. Kris closed his eyes, searching for the flash of energy he had felt before. He knew it was somehow a part of him now, but how to access it...
Suddenly, he felt a flash of insight. Opening his eyes, he howled, “Drain Life!” His wings spread to their fullest extent, and his eyes flared deep crimson. A purple flame engulfed his body, and tentacles of the flame licked away from him. Three of them solidified and flashed towards Proto and the two Gelerts, engulfing them with a deep violet inferno. The Gelert beneath him released his tail, its eyes drooping. It collapsed on the floor, and as it did so Kris felt a rush of pure, intoxicating power rush into his body. The other Gelert went down as well, giving Kris another burst of dark energy. The Darigan Lupe now understood why Lord Darigan had fallen to the power of the orb. Darkness was a heady force, alluring in a sinister fashion.
Kris turned to face Proto, who had released Shriek and was thrashing wildly. “What is this magic! It should not work within my barrier!”
The Darigan laughed. “This is not light magic, Prototype 12047! It is the magic blessing of a dark faerie. Your barrier has no effect on it.”
Proto’s eyes widened, but only for a moment. Though he struggled, his genetic advancements had all been directed towards physical characteristics. Magic was his one, major weakness. His legs collapsed underneath him; his scarlet eyes drooped. His head lolled on his neck, and with a wrench of effort, he forced himself to meet Kris’s eyes. “This is not over,” he gasped. “I will... return... to take... my... revenge...” His head fell to the ground, and his eyes were the merest slits. Kris felt so full of energy he was likely to burst with it.
The Xweetok lifted a single, weak paw, and pressed a button on his armband. His form blurred for an instant, and then he vanished.
“He transported himself!” Strike snarled, his tail lashing. “He got away!”
“We’ve got bigger issues, guys!” Lou cried from the other room. Kris and the other Lupes dashed in, skidding to a halt in front of the computer.
Lou spun around and looked at Strike, his eyes frantic. “Alright, Mr. Hero. You’re on. Time to save the world, let's go! Whatever it is you have the ability to do, it needs to be done RIGHT NOW!”
The split Lupe was panicked. “I don’t know what to do! If I’m supposed to be some special long lost brother of Shriek's, I don’t feel like one! I’ve got no idea what to do!”
Shriek’s tail lashed. “Skysong Pack decreed that you alone could save the pack. They have never been wrong before. Think, Strike! There must be a way...”
“Well, I don’t know it!” he exploded. “I can’t do this; I don’t know why, but-”
“It’s because you’re not Venom Of Striking Cobrall.”
Everyone turned, dumbstruck, towards Kris. He didn’t know where this knowledge had come from, but he suddenly knew beyond a shadow of doubt that the split Lupe was not Shriek’s brother.
Strike- No, William- looked directly into Kris’s eyes. “If it isn’t me, than who could it possibly be? Who is Strike?” Kris frowned, thinking. Memories swamped him...
“It humiliates me to be helped by one such as you. Still, You did help me, and just this once I will respond with compassion.”...
It seemed like an ordinary enough, slightly threadbare bit of fabric. Something about its smell was vaguely familiar...
Kris was falling amidst a sea 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...
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.”...
Suddenly, he felt a flash of insight. Opening his eyes, he howled, “Drain Life!” His wings spread to their fullest extent, and his eyes flared deep crimson. A purple flame engulfed his body, and tentacles of the flame licked away from him. Three of them solidified and flashed towards Proto and the two Gelerts, engulfing them with a deep violet inferno...
Papa’s weakened paws crumbled under him, and he fell sideways into the canyon, his teeth still clamped on Kris’ scruff. The pup felt a surge of panic, of fear so overwhelming that for years it would seal his ability to properly remember...
The Darigan Lupe squared his shoulder, and said softly, “Me. I am Shriek’s brother. I am Venom Of Striking Cobrall.”
Kris shouldered Lou aside, and began typing like crazy.
“Kris, hurry!” Lou cried. One of the mutant Lupes had suddenly opened its dull, unfocused eyes. More and more of them were awakening, and the fluid was draining from the vats. The control collars winked to life around their necks.
Frantic now, Kris hacked furiously at the encrypted codes on the monitor. Suddenly, a little voice issued from the computer, “Welcome to the self-destruct system. This safety function was designed in the event that evidence from the laboratory must be destroyed. Please enter the appropriate password, then press pound.”
Password? What could it possibly be? Kris’s mind raced, and settled on a single memory.
“Will, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”... Will’s eyes flew open.
“THAT’S IT!” Kris yelped, carefully typing in the password with his claws.
The vats opened, and the snarling mutants climbed out, flexing claws and baring teeth. Their eye’s locked on Lou, who was paralyzed with horror.
“Kris!” Will yelped. “Any day now, please!” He and Shriek leapt in front of Lou, snarling at the brainwashed mutants.
I am sorry#
“Self destruct is now engaged,” the shrill computer voice announced. Kris didn’t want to be a martyr, but if that’s what it took, he would take the lab down. He and the mutant army would go down with it.
The world exploded in a whirlwind of flame and force, and then it went black...
* * * * *
All was quiet at the edge of the Tyrannian Plateau. The rising sun crested over the jungle blow, bathing it in a rich, golden light. Standing at the edge were two Lupes, a Lupess, and a young human boy. A playful breeze tugged at the fur of the Lupes and set the chains on the boy’s pants jingling.
“So Will got to play the hero after all,” Lou said with a laugh.
Kris chuckled, shaking his head. “Who would’ve thought? I guess you being a slave for a week had an upside, hey, Will?”
The split Lupe lazily scratched his ear. “Well, knowing the layout of the lab and the location of the emergency evacuation transporter could be considered an upside. If you want to look at it that way, I suppose.”
Shriek snorted. “Yes, but could you have cut it any closer?” she demanded. “That doctor said that it will be another week before Kris can take the wrap off of his burns, and the stubborn Lupe won’t let me magic his wounds!”
Kris drew himself up, nose in the air, eyes sparkling with amusement. “I am he who is blessed by a dark faerie. To lower myself to accepting help from a mere light faerie- OW!” he yelped as Will prodded him in the side with a gentle claw.
“Sorry, bro,” he said, looking not the least bit sorry. “Had to deflate that ego a bit before it exploded. Wouldn’t want to waste all that money on vet bills.”
Kris growled playfully. The four sat in silence for a moment, enjoying the sunrise. Finally, Shriek spoke up, her tone heavy, “So, you are certain that you will not join the pack, Kris? We would welcome you.”
The Darigan Lupe shook his head, pain in his eyes, but no hesitation in his voice. “Maybe I was born into your world, but I no longer belong there. My memories of the forest are still hazy, and I’ve changed too much. I’m sorry.”
The faerie Lupess brushed her tail across Kris’ shoulder comfortingly. “You will always be my brother. Nothing can change that. Should you wish to visit me, the territory of the Dragon Canyon Pack will always be open to you.” She turned to Will. “And you as well.”
The split Lupe cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable. “Actually, if you don’t mind... I’d like to go with you.”
Shriek blinked. “You wish to join the Dragon Canyon Pack?” she asked.
Will nodded. “I really enjoyed the time I spent there. With Ingway leaving, you’ll be short a member. And...” he coughed, pawing at his ear in embarrassment, “and you are the most fascinating Lupess I have ever met. I would really like to get to know you better.”
Kris exchanged a knowing glance with Lou. The boy said, “I’ll miss you, Will, but I know better than to try and stop you. If this is what you really want, then so be it.”
The split Lupe nodded, gratitude in his eyes. For a while, they sat together in silence. The faerie Lupess stood up. “Time to go. If we’re going to make it back to the territory by dusk, we have to leave now.”
Will nodded. The two nodded a final farewell to their friends, and dashed off into the distance, pelts brushing. Kris turned to Lou. The human smiled. “Take as long as you need to.” He walked away.
Kris looked over the Jungle. He knew now that he had been born there, the twin brother of the leader of a pack of wild Lupes. It was his heritage. It was his birthright. Furthermore, Prototype 12047 was still out there somewhere. Surely it was his duty to be ready for the day that he would return?
The Darigan Lupe extended his wings and took to the air. He circled over the edge of the jungle for a few moments, then pumped his wings and banked hard towards the town. He had a home to rebuild.