The Neo-Rakarr: Part Two
Marko and Kokyu regarded one another with something akin
to despair. Neither of them could believe it. Such pets who were so careless as
to leave such a clear trail behind them surely could not dissolve into the air
as if by magic. There had to be some kind of explanation.
"They couldn't have just vanished," Kokyu murmured,
as Marko lowered his head to the spot. The Kougra's topaz eyes glinted.
"Look carefully, Kokyu-Master, there are these
heavy paw-marks. And the grass is all blown flat…I'm guessing they flew away,
perhaps on some winged pet."
Kokyu glanced up to see an open patch of sky,
broken through the canopy of leaves far above. Marko was right. "How will we
follow them now," he groaned softly to himself. The Eyrie kits, Keota and Koura,
and Emlyn the Shoyru were the only flying pets at the training hall, and they
were far to young and small to be carrying a relatively heavy load like Kokyu.
Moreover, aerial-tracking was a difficult business. Though it was possible,
only experts trained in such an art could ever hope to do it...Then it struck
him. Aerial tracking could be an innate ability to certain creatures... perhaps
pets whose instincts had not been dulled by living with humans. Or even Petpets...
"Marko," he said quickly. "You said Manny once
called a Bearog to aid in battling a Monocerous. Couldn't we ask him to call
some sort of flying Petpet to track them and to carry me there?"
"It's worth a shot," Marko agreed. "Probably
the only one we'll ever get."
The white-belts' fear was rampant throughout
the room as Kokyu told them of what he suspected had happened to their Master.
He tried to reassure them by pushing out calming energy to all, though he himself
had his own misgivings about the whole situation. Pushing those misgivings aside,
he outlined his plan to use Mandrake's unique ability.
Mandrake, though he was anxious for Aihami,
was all too eager to try out the plan, and the others were equally elated to
be able to watch him do it. None of them had observed him do it the first time,
and they were all very curious as to how it worked.
"Try and get a big, strong Petpet," Marko cautioned,
"or it won't be able to carry Kokyu-Master."
Remember to be careful, Didicus yapped.
You don't want any nasty accidents.
Mandrake nodded and closed his eyes, concentrating
hard on extending his lifeforce awareness to every click, squeak, burble or
chirrup the Petpets were making in the jungle around them. He could feel them
there, all of them, scurrying about their business or simply dozing. Ignoring
the sleeping ones, he focused on the ones he could tell were awake.
"Help. Help…Can any of you fly? Strong, powerful
wings and lots of endurance, and aerial tracking skills…I need you…follow my
voice…please come to help me..."
He could hear the answers from all around him,
mainly chirps and protests. Of course we can't. Too small. Wings too weak.
Could never help you, no, no...
They were all small sized, it seemed, Beekadoodles,
Crokabeks...the Flightning Bugs weren't even awake. It seemed there were no
Petpets around appropriate for the job.
Suddenly, a sonorous grey voice cut through
the rest. Relief spread through Mandrake's little round form at the sound of
it. It reminded him of Columba's answer when he had called her out of the brush,
strong and sure and ready. It seemed to him the most beautiful he had ever heard.
I can fly. Fly long and swiftly. Big, too.
Where are you, small one?
"Here," he cried aloud in his excitement. "Here,
here, here! Come, please hurry…"
A rushing wind from outside the training hall
soon heralded the arrival of the visitor. The white-belts got up to rush eagerly
outside. As they vanished through the door gasps of astonishment and awe broke
from each throat. The booming voice echoed again, although all but Mandrake
heard nothing save a resounding keening cry.
Where is the small one who called me?
"I'm here, I'm here," Mandrake called as he
followed the rest, almost tripping over his own large feet in his haste. As
he tumbled out and raised his eyes to the creature he had called he found it
almost impossible not to gasp himself. Kokyu and Marko, standing behind him,
were equally at a loss for words.
He towered over them like a massive statue of
steel grey granite, perhaps three times Kokyu's height. With his large yellow
eyes, pug nose and wide grinning mouth, he might have looked ugly to most eyes,
but there was a noble air about him that surpassed outward appearance. His Korbat-like
grey wings, with a grain in them that resembled granite, were large and powerful,
but the fact that they were light enough to propel him through the air was believable.
Enormous grey claws digging into the soft earth completed the portrait.
"A Ganuthor," breathed Marko. "Native to Meridell.
I've heard of these. But what's one doing here in Mystery Island Jungle?"
"What's your name?" Mandrake asked in a whisper.
Named Stonewings, came the resonant tones.
Owner is a Doglefox-giant.
"You have an owner then?" Mandrake was surprised.
Yes. Live not far from here. Nice house.
Nice owner. Human calls him Nero. Take him for rides on my back sometimes. He
"Do you like your Doglefox-giant?" Mandrake
inquired, using the Petpets' term for Lupes.
Yes. He nice. Gives me Petpet treats.
Stonewings' tongue ran thoughtfully over his muzzle. Taste good.
"He won't mind that you're here?"
No. I fly off to roam the Island some days.
Sometimes gone for many days. He knows I always come back in the end. The
Ganuthor flexed his talons smugly. Who dare attack a Ganuthor?
"Manny," hissed Marko, nudging the young Jubjub
sharply back to reality. "I don't mean to interrupt, but we must move quickly
if we want to rescue Aihami-Master."
"Right, right, I'm sorry, Marko-Senior." Mandrake
lowered his eyes briefly to the Kougra and then turned back to the patient Stonewings.
"We need help," he said. "Our companion is missing, taken away by others."
"Yes. Other pets. She was flown away on the
back of some winged-pet. Could you possibly follow the trail of them? Is there
any way they can be tracked?"
Yes. If trail is fresh and rain not yet fallen,
scent will still be there, detectable to me. There are other signs, too, that
I can use, even if a trail is old. Stonewings's bulbous yellow eyes narrowed.
Take away creatures against their will is not good thing to do. I will help
you bring these 'others' to justice.
"Thank you," Mandrake burst out happily. Seeing
the others bursting with curiosity at the one-sided exchange they had witnessed,
he quickly related all he had learned from Stonewings.
"Then you must leave at once, Kokyu-Master,"
"Manny," Kokyu said, turning to his student.
"You must come with us…I can't talk to Stonewings otherwise. We must leave quickly."
"Yes, Kokyu-Master," Mandrake cried, half-excitedly
and half-fearfully as the Ganuthor lowered his regal head.
I'm coming with you, Didicus barked firmly.
No telling what kind of trouble you'll get into without me.
Mandrake took a moment to grin at his pet, and
climbed up onto Stonewings' broad back, the Anubis leaping up beside him. The
other white-belts were rather envious about not going, but they understood what
had to be done, and they were worried about Aihami too.
"Look after them, Marko," Kokyu shouted back
as he beckoned to Stonewings and raced off into the jungle, back on Aihami's
trail. Marko and the white-belts stood watching them go forlornly. None of them
was sure if they would ever see either of their Masters, or Manny, again.
Stonewings picked up the spoor quickly, and
as Kokyu climbed onto his back and held on he rose into the air with a great
clap of wings. Kokyu could feel the power and strength even more strongly now
through the Ganuthor's stone-like skin as they ascended, breaking through the
canopy with a shower of leaves.
A sharp growl from Stonewings made Kokyu start,
but as he began to breathe steadily and reach Stonewings through his lifeforce,
he realized the Ganuthor had only found the scent of the petnappers fresh in
the still air. Dislike was rippling under the creature's stony skin.
With a whoosh of air, they were off, hurtling
through the clouds at astonishing speed, hot on the track of the red-clothed
ones. Manny knows how to call the right ones for the job, Kokyu thought wryly
as he hung on, the wind whipping his ear stalks and uniform wildly behind him.
He had a feeling that if he let go he would be blown right off into the air.
Stonewings let out an exhilarated keen at the
joy of flight. Manny let out a whoop of excitement; Didicus barked. Kokyu laughed
along with them. But he felt a strange calm fill his soul too. They were on
their way to finding Aihami at last.
To be continued...