Ghostchasers: Part Six
Kiyoshi stared in alarm at the Eyrie who now stood before
him. How could he be here? He couldn't. Not now, not when they had thought it
was all over....
"Go," he said, not really thinking about how
he formed his sentences, only dreading what might be about to happen. He nodded
in the direction of the Woods on his left, but his gaze didn't lift from Cosmo.
"Go out of the way. Just for now."
The Eyrie's feathers ruffled, his tail twitched.
It was as if he were waiting for the Shoyru to make a move before he pounced.
Kiyoshi had fought several battles in the Battledome,
but he'd never been pitted against an Eyrie. He wasn't accustomed to their unreadable,
yet deadly fashion. It was unnerving, almost too much to bear.
His three friends hadn't moved. Kiyoshi could
picture Jeri's savvy mind working, trying to decide what really would be best.
"Please," he urged quietly, not moving. "You
have to. Don't worry, I don't exactly have a death wish."
"How do we know he won't go after us as soon
as we move?" Aley whispered from behind him.
He didn't have time to answer. The Eyrie lunged
at him, opening his beak to utter a bloodcurdling shriek that completely caught
him off guard.
Cosmo's agility was superior. Kiyoshi had only
managed a few awkward steps away before the Eyrie swiped at him with the knife,
catching his shoulder.
Immediately he felt a warm trickle of blood
under his jacket sleeve, almost before he could feel the burning pain.
He heard Aley's voice cry out something unintelligible,
and Cosmo's head whipped around. His eyes narrowed as they fixed on the escaping
pets. It seemed like predator-like instinct was taking over. Cocking his head
at Kiyoshi, who was standing defenceless and gripping an injured arm, he seemed
to decide he'd rather go after them.
"You would destroy everything I've worked for,"
he whispered, his voice barely a rasp. "All of you!" He pumped his wings impressively,
and dove towards the three pets.
Kiyoshi gritted his teeth, pretending he was
uninjured. Summoning his strength, he pushed off and left the ground behind.
"Cosmo!" he shouted.
At first, the air felt funny under him. His
body felt too light. His wings occasionally trembled, felt brittle. The air
felt too thin -- not strong enough to sustain his presence in it. It didn't
take so much effort to maneuver. But he would have to do his best.
Cosmo turned and looked up. Clearly, the Shoyru
looked a more inviting target now that he was airborne. The Eyrie snarled and
lifted off as well. He raced up to meet the hovering Shoyru.
Kiyoshi darted quickly backwards. Up in the
air, he did have an advantage: he was smaller by far, and could dip and turn
and roll much better than the bulky Eyrie could.
The knife glinted as Cosmo dove. Kiyoshi dodged
to the side, narrowly missing it. How long would he be able to avoid the Eyrie's
weapon? He had no weapons of any use; trying to use his slingshot from this
distance would do about as much good as beating him over the head with a plushie.
He had to do something.
As the Eyrie gracefully angled his wings to
soar back up again, he brandished the knife in front of him, slashing through
the air. Try as he might, Kiyoshi couldn't ignore the red glint on its tip.
No more blood, he told himself.
This time, as Cosmo grew near, the Shoyru plunged
towards him. Before the Eyrie could react, Kiyoshi had latched onto his arm,
trying to take control of the deadly weapon. Cosmo's muscular arm strained,
trying to push the knife toward Kiyoshi.
To this day he couldn't tell why, but for some
reason their eyes locked. However, he was taken aback by what he saw. Where
only earlier that day had been traces of curiosity and ambition not unfamiliar
to Kiyoshi himself, now only hatred dwelt. This was the face of someone who
was thinking, You've ruined my life -- watch me ruin yours. His eyes
were new to Kiyoshi, unlike those of any living, breathing pet he'd ever come
across. They said he wanted to kill him.
"Why did you have to destroy it all?" Cosmo
hissed. "I only had an idea. Where was the crime in that?"
"Just the kidnapping, assault, terrorizing and
attempted murder parts," Kiyoshi choked, struggling to twist the blade away
from his neck.
"You didn't just steal my force," the Eyrie
growled. "You stole my life."
And with that, he beat his wings once. Kiyoshi
had forgotten about those wings -- forgotten that they were like a concealed
weapon the Eyrie permanently carried and could use at any time.
He felt the strong bones of Cosmo's wings crash
into his temple, the searing pain, like pressure that had been gradually been
building up and now exploded in his head. He saw what looked like coloured lights
dancing in to fill up his vision, and felt himself falling, falling, but he
was stunned and unable to do anything about it.
He hit the ground sooner than he'd expected.
He only felt the shock of impact; in his murky mind none of the pain he should
be feeling registered.
But in a few moments, his eyes focussed and
his head cleared enough for him to somewhat regain a sense of awareness, leaving
him a wreck of agony. He felt like he should be dead. But he wasn't. And that
could only be used to his advantage, sooner or later.
Then he realized that what he lay on was too
hard to be the ground. He glanced around, past the point of being overwhelmed,
trying not to move his head any more than was necessary.
By some strange twist of fate, he'd fallen onto
the inner ledge running above Cosmo's base. It had probably saved his life.
"Aley," he groaned. "Go away. I'll be fine."
"No, listen," she called from below, on the
outside of the wall. "I need to know. Your comm system... does it operate on
altered Virtupets technology?"
"Please, Kiyoshi. It's important."
He was too dazed to argue. "Yes."
Suddenly, he felt a small tremor in the platform.
Cosmo had landed right in front of him. He felt a few shudders more, and the
red Eyrie was standing over him, fingering the knife calmly.
Kiyoshi wanted to move, knew his life depended
on it, but couldn't. His body was completely traumatized both by the fall and
"You've been quite the entertaining escape artist,
"I try," he said weakly.
"Quite entertaining indeed," Cosmo mused. "I'd
like to say I'll miss you, but I won't." He grasped the knife.
There was absolutely nothing he could do. Kiyoshi
screwed his eyes shut and prepared for the worst --
Something hit his chest. Something large, and
heavy, almost enough to knock the wind out of him, and as unlike a knife as
With a start, Kiyoshi opened his eyes in time
to see the blade leave Cosmo's grasp and go spinning over the wall. It had glanced
off of whatever had landed on Kiyoshi.
Looking up, he saw a hovering green Shoyru smile,
nod, then fly off.
Something falling from that height must be fairly
light to land like it did on him. It could only be one thing...
Kiyoshi struggled to see himself. Balanced on
his chest and midriff was his most valuable possession.
"What is that?" Cosmo snarled in outrage.
Kiyoshi could feel the life coming back into
him, encouraged by the magical aura that now surrounded him.
"That," Kiyoshi murmured, sitting up slowly
and holding the Shoyru Battle Shield in front of him, "is the little system
I carry worth at least 50 000 NP."
There was a noise behind him, from the outside
of the wall. Cosmo, who had been staring at the shield, now glanced over Kiyoshi's
shoulder. The older pet's eyes widened in terror.
Kiyoshi turned to see what he was looking at,
and his blood seemed to turn to slush.
They'd been followed.
As a reflex, Kiyoshi raised the shield. Great
sharp claws from an enormous, fur-covered paw gouged into it, but it had protected
There was a hum that seemed to draw light from
around them into the battle shield as it built up energy. Suddenly, it issued
a blinding flash of twisting green light that blasted towards the snowbeast.
The attacking creature roared furiously and stumbled backwards.
When it approached again, it headed for Cosmo.
Kiyoshi didn't want to see this, but he could only stand, riveted, unable to
The snowbeast was enraged, and Cosmo was vulnerable,
not knowing how to act without a weapon.
He shouted as it loomed above him, as the paw
As if in slow motion, he tumbled over the top
of the parapet, still yelling belligerently.
Kiyoshi stood, not knowing what to do. It would
be coming after him now.
As if on cue, the terrifying creature turned
to face him.
But at that moment, several voices filled the
air, calling out, faintly at first, but becoming louder and louder every second.
The snowbeast's head whipped up, and he bellowed
as if scalded before crashing off into the surrounding Woods.
Now Kiyoshi's gaze too met the sky.
The sight of the flock of Pteri, the Neopets
who might have the abilities to end this forever, mixed with the flashy uniforms
they displayed, announcing the arrival of "The Pteri Patrol" was enough to convince
him that now, it was well and truly over.
He remembered Cosmo then. Stumbling over to
the wall's edge, he could see the Eyrie far below, sprawled on the ground. Kiyoshi
wasn't sure anything could have survived that fall.
Turning away weakly, he shut his eyes. All because
of an idea.
What if he had been right?
Far from satisfied, but exhausted, Kiyoshi lowered
himself down on the ledge. He leaned back against the wall and slipped into
a deep, deep sleep.
When Kiyoshi woke up, he felt, if anything,
worse than he had when he'd fallen asleep. He suspected it had to do with leaving
the comforting power of his shield.
"Kiyoshi!" exclaimed Jeri when he saw he was
awake. "Good to see you back among the living! 'Course, that's rather daft saying
that so close to the Haunted Woods... all those ghosts and whatnot floating
The Shoyru rolled over on the lush grass that
carpeted the ground. "Ow."
"Miraculously, nothing broken, mate. Though
you did give it a good try. Cuts and bruises, I'd imagine that's the worst of
it. Oh, and a sprained wrist."
Wincing, Kiyoshi took his weight off that wrist
with a wry glance at the Bori. "So, where are we now?" he mumbled. Here and
there stood a few trees of different varieties, but most of what he saw was
a quiet-looking, rolling grassland lying as far as the eye could see. On one
side, pushed up against the horizon and stretching almost as far in either direction,
he could see a faint line of deep green that could only be dense forest.
"The Pteri police-watchamacallit lifted us over
here, to this meadow. Border of the Woods and Neopia Central. I do believe we
get transport to Crystal Valley when they comes back. They managed to round
up all Cosmo's villains, an' had to take them away. Y'know, they're calling
us heroes," he added thoughtfully, as if this deserved a lot of contemplation.
Kiyoshi sure didn't feel like a hero. He felt
like a squished Slorg.
"And do you know what they're saying?"
"They say the Neopian Times headlines all over
will read, 'Ghostchasers Put an End to Attacks!'."
Kiyoshi's eyes widened. "Ghostchasers?"
"That's what they're calling us," Jeri beamed.
"They've got to be kidding," Kiyoshi muttered.
Then he thought of something. "How did they find us anyway?"
"Ah. You've got our young friend Aley to thank
for that. You see, she had the bright idea of sending an SOS telling them to
pinpoint our position using the Virtupets station's sensor capabilities."
Kiyoshi thought about this, admiring her resourcefulness.
Then he remembered the green Shoyru who dropped him the shield -- what might
have happened if he hadn't had it...?
"'Ghostchasers'. Huh," Jeri mused. "D'you think
But he'd already fallen back asleep.
"... And with the combined forces of the Pteri
Patrol, and Kiyoshi, with his great shield, the snowbeast was driven away forever!
Evil was defeated, once and for all!" Aley emphasized the importance of these
last words by leaping up and down, grinning dementedly and punching the air.
This caused quite a commotion in Mrs. Park's
classroom. Thirty-seven junior high students, who had been listening raptly
(mouths open in some cases) for the last hour, burst from theirs seats in unison,
as if they'd rehearsed it, cheering and applauding wildly. They loved it. It
was better than their favourite comic books.
Even Kiyoshi, sitting in a stool that had been
placed in one corner at the front, couldn't help smiling. The young Lupe certainly
had the makings of a fine storyteller.
"Well, Miss Aley!" Mrs. Park exclaimed delightedly,
perched on the edge of her oversized black leather armchair. "That was SPLENDID!
I cannot be exactly sure if it was a region summary, but -- I do not care. I
"Thank you, Mrs. Park," Aley said sweetly.
"We shall make this an ANNUAL event!"
"Wha--?" Kiyoshi said, incredulous. "No!"
"But it was so successful!" the Techo said in
shock, as if she couldn't believe that anyone could possibly pass up the chance
to almost get killed every year for the rest of their life.
"I'm busy. Bye now! Nice talking to you again."
Kiyoshi made to push his way through the throng of excited students, towards
the door. The babble was so loud he couldn't have heard Mrs. Park, even if she
had been trying to argue some more. But she was a clever one.
"Class dismissed!" The Techo's voice rose above
If there was one thing that could create an
even more sizeable uproar in that classroom than there was already, that was
it. Kiyoshi was almost trampled as the class pounded out the door ecstatically,
but moved off to the side just in time.
"Oh, Mr. Paco..?" Mrs. Park said when the room
had cleared. "Busy for how long?"
"For the next ten years," said Kiyoshi firmly.
Then he realized he'd made a terrible mistake.
"Ah." She smiled deviously. "Then we will have
you back in ten years to talk over our arrangement, yes?"
"There you are!"
Following the voice, Kiyoshi stepped out onto
the icy sidewalk and carefully approached Jeri, Trick and Aley, who by the looks
of their tussled hair and sodden clothes had just finished one killer snowball
"You missed all the fun," Jeri commented. "Naturally,
I won. So no one was upset that I didn't come with you into that boring old
icebox, were they?" he asked at the same time as placing a rather large snowball
down the back of Trick's shirt.
"Mrs. Park was devastated."
"Oh. Pity. But you see, I think I've developed
this allergy to reptiles. Tragic."
Trick snuck up behind the Bori and dropped a
heaping armload of snow onto his head. Then, out of the blue, they were both
bombarded with myriad flying snowballs from Aley, forcing them to dive for cover.
Aley doubled over, laughing with a sort of barking
noise. She stopped after awhile, and ploughed through the snow, over to Kiyoshi.
"I think I have to thank you again for our adventure. And for all the times
you saved our skins."
He smiled wryly. "You don't have to thank me.
I mean, you were the one who figured out the satellite business. And Trick,"
he said to the Shoyru who now stood beside them, brushing snow from his clothes,
"I didn't even know you could fly. But you did, and you were the one who gave
me the shield. You saved my life."
"Pff," Aley said dismissively. "It wasn't that
"Yeah," Trick agreed. "What else could we do?"
"No," Kiyoshi mumbled. "You don't understand.
I thought you were too inexperienced. Right from the start, I thought you did
things all wrong, that you should stay out of the way. But I was wrong. You
saved the day in the end."
Aley bit her lip. "I understand." She smiled
broadly. "But we all saved the day. We're a team!"
"Ghostchasers!" Trick shouted.
Aley threw her arms around Kiyoshi. Surprised,
he hugged his friend back.
The Lupe let go. "I'll miss you. You too, Jeri!"
she called, receiving a wave and a grin from the Bori. "You'd better be back
before the end of ten years."
He smiled. "We'll see."
"Yeah, well we'll do better than 'see'," said
Trick. "We'll distract Mrs. Park with a fire in the staff room closet."
As they walked towards the entrance to the school,
Kiyoshi called after them, "Don't get into any trouble."
"Don't worry," came Aley's voice from around
Then he heard Trick's voice finish, "We will!"
"Kiyoshi!" called Jeri from where it seemed
he'd set up the comm system, under the eaves of the school. "Look who I've got
on the line!"
"Tyra!" exclaimed Kiyoshi when he could see
"Good to see you! I heard all about it -- sounded
brilliant. Nice going."
"Hey, I'll be coming back to Neopia Central
pretty soon. See you then?"
"Kiyoshi," Tyra sounded, looking somewhat deflated,
"Remember the farmer in Meridell?"
"Oh right," he said, deeply resenting this next
"No sweat. I'll talk to you as soon as I get
"Wait --" He kept thinking of Aley and Trick,
and the parts they'd ended up playing. He'd been thinking about how he'd been
pushing his friends onto the sidelines. And he had an idea that there was an
important lesson to be learned here. "Tyra," he said slowly. "How'd you like
to come on a little excursion with us?"
Author's note: Most of the characters in the story are real pets that belong
to real people, and their personalities go with some of their various quirks.
I'd really like to thank betazoid_telepath for lending me Trick for this story.
Thanks for all your help! Couldn't have done it without you!