The Legend of Premium Bat: Part Four
Also by jair_lorce
Straightening his shoulders and lifting his chin, Battius continued along the path to the cave. He felt very alone on that cold mountain ridge. He could feel fear spreading through him like ice. He knew the dangers of facing this group of thugs that were willing to take what didn't belong to them, and bully those weaker than they. He knew they could hurt him very badly. His wings started shaking as he walked along the path. His legs felt weak and trembly.
As he came around the curve of the mountain and saw the cave opening, he also saw the brilliant sky of Neopia. His nose was filled with the crisply biting air of the mountains. The beauty of the land before him reminded him sharply of all he loved about Neopia, the hidden magic of the different lands, the camaraderie of its people. Then he also remembered the sight of the young Aisha's ears dragging through the mud of the streets of Premium... and once more his heart was filled with righteous resolve. No more.
He strode to the cave entrance and passed inside. The cold seemed to increase as he entered. He looked around at stacks and stacks of boxes. He continued on into the cave and noticed a cleared area with a roaring campfire. A group of neopets sat around the fire holding bowls and spoons, eating a meal.
There were at least a dozen Krawks around the fire, Battius noted. Probably that many more that he couldn't immediately identify. Kyrii perhaps. Separated from the main group was a proper table. Sitting at this table were a Baby Bruce and the Krawk Battius had met on Mystery Island.
Just as this recognition sparked in Battius, the Krawk looked up and caught sight of him. The face of the Krawk showed surprise at first, then rage as he recognized the Korbat that had embarrassed him on Mystery Island.
"You!!" the Krawk shouted, pointing at Battius. Everyone at the fire and the Bruce at the table turned to look at Battius.
Battius stood his ground. Leaning casually on his walking stick, he addressed the Bruce at the table.
"You must be Boochi," he stated.
"I am not called that any longer!!!" the Bruce screamed at Battius. "I am The Bruce! Don't you call me Boochi ever again!! These are my guild mates. I am a great leader!"
"Very well," Battius agreed. "I am Battius Battington. I am here to ask you to come with me to Faerieland to restore the Space Faerie to her normal age, or to lend me the use of your ray gun that I might do so myself."
The Bruce looked at his Krawk companion, then at the area around Battius.
"You are alone?" the Bruce asked him.
"Yes, I am alone," Battius replied.
The Bruce looked at the Korbat in front of him for a few more moments and then started to laugh. The rest of the pets in the room laughed with him. Then the Bruce seemed to get his amusement under control.
"I will not come with you to Faerieland, and I will not give you my ray gun. What do you intend to do about it?" the Bruce sneered at him.
Battius straightened his back and looked at the Bruce directly in the eyes.
"I intend to make you," he stated, and began walking toward the table.
"Stop him!" the Bruce ordered the Krawk at his side.
The Krawk leapt to his feet, a gloating look of pleasure on his face. He was looking forward to getting some payback on this uppity Korbat.
Battius continued to walk toward the table. He could see the ray gun lying there beside Boochi's plate. If he could just get his hands on it and get out of the cave, he knew he could fly with it to where Thorn and Fauton waited.
The Krawk stepped away from the table and rushed Battius. Battius jumped and spread his wings to fly over the charging Krawk. The Krawk jumped up and slapped Battius right out of the air. He tumbled end over end and hit the wall. Sliding down to the floor, his head throbbed painfully where it had cracked against the stone. He heard the other pets in the cave cheer, and heard them laughing again.
Hearing a step on stone beside him, he looked up to see the Krawk leaning over him. A huge clawed paw reached down and closed around him, lifting him from the floor. The Krawk held him in front of his face and laughed at him.
"Not so tough now, are we, little Korbat?" the Krawk taunted Battius. The Krawk squeezed him in his fist, and Battius groaned in pain as his body was squished in the cruel grip.
Desperate to get out of the tightening grasp, Battius turned his head and bit the Krawk on his paw. A yell confirmed the pain of that bite, and suddenly the Krawk threw Battius away from him hard. Once again, Battius hit the wall, and this time, he fought to remain conscious. His head throbbed so loudly he couldn't hear anything else. His vision was blurry, and he couldn't make sense of things. He knew he needed to do something, but he couldn't remember what it was. He shook his head, trying to clear it.
Boochi waddled over to where Battius lay gasping on the floor, his ray gun in his hand.
"You should have known better to show up here, Korbat," he stated contemptuously. "No one can stop me or get in the way of my plans. I can't have you running around causing trouble. The easiest way to solve that problem is to make you helpless, and I'm very good at that!"
Boochi manipulated a lever on his ray gun and then pointed it at the Korbat.
Suddenly, an eerie howl echoed through the cavern and a flash of fur and fang flew into Battius, knocking him into the wall for a third time. Bouncing off the wall, the Korbat tumbled hard into the Krawk that stood beside Boochi. The Krawk then struggled to keep his balance and toppled into Boochi just as his finger tightened on the trigger of the ray gun. A mechanical "Pzzzap!" and a bright flash of light echoed around the cave. Then there was silence.
Battius groaned and stood up. He looked around, his vision still a little blurry, his head pounding fiercely.
A baby Lupe lay on the floor where he had been standing just a few moments ago. He recognized the clothing piled around the baby Lupe as the coat and hat Fauton had been wearing. His throat got tight as he realized the Lupe had saved him from Boochi's shot.
Battius turned his head and saw Boochi's hands and feet sticking out from under the body of the Krawk, who had fallen on him. The Krawk was partially wedged between some stones on the floor of the cave and was struggling to get up.
Battius stepped forward and picked up the ray gun from the floor of the cave where it had fallen. He pointed it at the Krawk and then at the rest of the pets in the cave as they advanced on him. The Krawk lay still, and the other pets stopped when they saw the weapon.
"Please don't make me use this," Battius stated quietly. "I have no wish to harm you, but I must take this for a time. I will return it. I will also take my friend with me. Allow us to leave and we will not harm you."
The Krawk glared at him from his back on the floor.
"Get out then," he growled. "And see that you keep your word and return that ray gun."
"I shall," Battius replied.
Battius carefully tied the ray gun to his back after putting the safety on. He bent to pick up Fauton, struggling with the weight of the pup. The Lupe promptly licked his face and Battius giggled at the utter silliness of it all.
Leaving the cave, Battius flew carefully, as he was unable to hold Fauton aloft and fly in the wind gusts of the Terror Mountains for long. Taking frequent rest breaks, he carefully made his way back around the mountain to Thorn.
Thorn lifted his head as they came into view. He'd been watching for them to return, his worry growing with each passing minute. A frown creased his face as he took in the sight of Battius carrying what was obviously a Lupe pup, and then smoothed into comprehension as he realized what must have occurred.
Battius landed heavily beside Thorn, his breaths coming in ragged pants as he recovered from the difficult flight, shivering in the cold of the mountain winds. He exchanged a wing-touch with the Draik, happy to have made it back at last.
"Would you like a fire?" Thorn asked him after giving the Korbat a few moments to recover.
"No we need to... go as quickly as possible," Battius replied between deep breaths. "Time is of the essence."
Together they secured Fauton to the cargo straps, and then Battius climbed up to take his seat. Once more, Thorn launched himself into the air with an enormous leap, and they were on their way.
Battius noted idly that flying on a Draik was vastly different than flying on an Eyrie. The Draik dipped his body with each sweep of his wings, causing a wave-like up and down motion in flight. An Eyrie maintained a strong firm line of body while flying, with the wings doing the work of movement. It had never occurred to him to wonder before about any differences there might be in the actual movement of flight. Pondering this, he relaxed back into the netting straps that held his tired and aching body secure... and fell asleep.
To be continued...