Tyrants and Heroes: Part Three
It never mattered to me whether I was a true hero or not. I just wanted to be able to be myself. In fact, being a huge idol... It wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. But Callie was about to show me as a big hero to them, just because I was a little hero to her. After all, I decided to sacrifice myself to save her and Bronco and Hill from the Huntress; and I lived in the end.
Taking a deep breath, I took a drawn out look at the four assembled in front of me. There was Callie, winking and smiling; the hardy, quiet and calm Bronco; Rhubarb, sitting there like he had nothing better to do; and Tor, who could tell that I had done something great before my mouth even opened. He saw what others couldn’t (even though he turned out to be blind. He only told me three months after I met him).
Callie started. “Cerulean has realized that there was a very specific reason that the Aishas lost in that battle. While they were a thousand or two in number, we’re five. But in other terms, they were just one. They had one person controlling them, and if that one were knocked unconscious, the others would wake up and be caught as well before they could discover the situation.”
I continued. “Each of us is an independent unit, completely capable of action on our own. If two or three of us are put out of action, the others can continue. None of us will have the load of controlling the other four, and we’ll be able to perform better. Callie also pointed out the possibility of the hunk of the Boomerang being cursed. We can make it in, and we can make it out,” I further explained.
“Two last things: Who is to say that they still live, or that Hunters don’t take their prey back to the distance with them? I don’t see any reason for our families to still be alive. But we can still try,” Callie finished.
Bronco nodded with a deep understanding. Rhubarb scratched the ear that made him a lop, trying to understand. But Tor stepped in front of me, sightless eyes seeing all.
“Bravo. We have no idea what it’s like inside the ships, though, so I don’t think we can have much of a plan.”
“Actually, Callie thought up of something. She could try to lure Chix outside of her shuttle while we went inside. She would be able to distract Chix and get her out of our way.”
“That sounds like plan enough for me. I like the simplicity of it. Let’s go, I guess.”
One after the other, they followed me out the door. I have no idea what they felt, but I felt excited, angry at the Huntress, and scared, all at the same time. We set out, oblivious to the sixth set of feet toddling out behind us.
Actually, it was just one foot.
Because the other one was holding a jaw harp.
I peered out over Cerulean’s shoulder from where we were nestled in the giant oak. Our pelts were soggy, chilling us to our very cores. But it was nothing we ever worried about.
We were too used to it to do that.
Instead, we completely ignored it, focusing on the task at hand. It had been about three hours since we had started watching. My gaze wandered to the sky; as if on cue, a goliath object pierced the clouds and its tip impacted with the ground. Four steel legs protruded from it and dug their ends into the ground. A walkway swung from the side of the ship, a door slid upwards and the Huntress alertly stepped out.
Her eyes darted to the left and then darted to the right, taking in her surroundings. I was astonished to see Chix when that horrible scowl wasn’t plastered onto her face; she was beautiful! The grimace was a mere hunting expression.
She flipped her brunette, wavy hair out of her face and further studied the trees, cautiously scanning them for any hidden foresters. I shuddered as her eyes passed over us several times. Fortunately, not once did she notice us, our high nest in the treetops was so well-hidden. Quickly, I scurried across the branch and down the tree.
“What have we here...?” she whispered to herself, and then softly and slowly treaded to where I pretended to be interested in a cluster of berries growing on an oak. I let my striped tail flick left and right over and over, my paw making a motion to collect a bushel of the raspberries. The click of her cannon being set was heard and an ascending sound of it charging followed.
At the instant before the net fired, I dashed out of the nook, taking note that my companions were safely at the entrance to the shuttle, which Chix faced away from. Unfortunately, she remembered to close the door! They’ll find a way, I thought. At least, I hope so. The walkway is still down, anyways.
Aiming to give the boys more time, I scurried up a tree which was half of a bound away from the Blank. For a second, the Xweetok scratched her head, looking for me. When she noticed me continuing to flick my topaz-embedded tail, this time inspecting a set of mushrooms, I picked a couple up, zipped across a branch and safely perched on another tree; Chix still thinking that I didn’t know she was there.
Actually, no matter how much I tempted her, she wasn’t after ME anymore.
“Twang twang, twang.”
“What’s this?” She turned around, noticing Hill. He sat on a tree stump in the Blank, buzzing his jaw harp. I quickly dropped the berries and mushrooms I was holding, darted to the stump, and swept the baby JubJub up in one paw. “Why are you here?!” I hissed, hoping the Xweetok behind me didn’t hear. “The Huntress could get you!”
My head lashed around, with the sound of a net charging. With a rush, I flung Hill into the air, and started bounding across the Blank as swiftly as I possibly could. Not once did I turn around. Using the age-old trick, I ran in a zigzag, until the net finally fired. When it did, it entangled one of my hind feet, but I still didn’t stop. Instead, I chose to lash around and actually run towards Chix.
She snickered and started charging yet another net. But, as I had some experience with escaping, I knew that she would miss. All the strength I had went into running directly towards her, and before the net launched, I managed to go straight between her legs, which is always the best thing to do when you have no way out, or in that case, if you were trying to distract the Xweetok.
Having gotten a running start, I successfully managed to leap into a tree’s foliage, where the chase would continue. Then I remembered: Hill! Recalling the direction I had thrown him in, I jumped out of the oak and ran along the border of the Blank. When I made it to the general area, my eyes rapidly scanned the trees, until I noticed him nestled in a cluster of leaves. With agility, I zipped up the tree, used my teeth to grab Hill by his scruff, and returned to the ground, where Chix would continue taking after me.
Tor muscled Bronco (who had been pushing against the sliding door) aside. He studied the door for a split moment, and then reared up on his hind legs. A long, razor-sharp claw was unsheathed, which he used to dig into the crack of where the door met the side of the ship. He grunted as he managed to slide it open with pure strength. We entered.
It looked very small from the inside. In one part of the circular room, there was a giant glass tube stretching from floor to ceiling. Seconds after we came in, fluorescent lights automatically flicked on.
The walls were steel, and the floor was steel tiles. A clear bin was attached to a part of the wall, secured shut by a locked lid. Plastic crates were opposite to the bin, stuck to the floor and also secured with locks.
I picked the lock on a crate successfully, and it popped open. It was empty.
“The locks on these crates aren’t too tough, guys. If we’re lucky, maybe Rubia will still be in one.”
The others all unsheathed claws, stuck them in locks and picked them. The other five were all empty.
“Nuts,” Bronco growled.
“Guys, she’s coming!” Rhubarb exclaimed. We all ducked into crates and pulled the lids over us.
In the woods, I lost Chix. But, knowing her from past chases, she never gave up easily.
That was knowledge I took advantage of.
She probably didn’t know that I had been able to drop Hill off at home before I returned to her sight, and the pursuit could continue. It was much too dangerous to have a child like the JubJub in a chase, but now I could concentrate on not going out of her vision. However, my plan went astray.
It all went wrong when I tripped.
I watched Callie close the door behind her. I had to stay home while others had fun? But that’s so unfair!
My eyes fell upon a leaf on the table. It was very large, like all of the leaves. Hmm, this couldn’t be too hard, could it?
For a moment, I set my jaw harp down on the floor. Then I got a running start (which wasn’t that fast, considering my JubJub feet) and I managed to make it onto the chair.
Aiming at the tabletop, I blew as hard as I could. It was just enough to carry the leaf to the ground. I waddled over to the end of the chair and rolled off.
With two of my toes, I clutched the leaf. My feet took me to the door, where I swung the leaf over the knob. I grabbed the end with my other foot and pulled.
The door opened. Jaw harp in foot, I strolled outside. After repeating what I had done to open the door and thus closing it again, I found Callie’s tracks and followed them.
I had been a bound in front of Chix. My foot had suddenly gone in a muddy patch, and I couldn’t get it out. For several moments, I tried struggling and yanking. It was no use. Of course, the Huntress could pull me out.
Not before she netted me, though.
Defeated, I watched the forest slowly slip away. Of course, there were more trees right behind the ones I left, but there wouldn’t be for long. It saddened me: I was still with my home, but I wouldn’t be for much longer. The forests were beautiful, but not so much when you were watching them from a net slung around your enemy’s shoulder. There was no way I would be able to actually enjoy the woodland for much longer, before I would be-
Be what, other than captured, defeated, and shamed? What did they do with us? If they took us away by the thousands, then they had to do something with us. I shuddered, and pondered which would be worse.
Would I become a rug spread across a shuttle floor, or on a platter with an apple in my mouth?
I slapped my forehead when I saw that Hill was dangling in a net slumped over her other shoulder, still carrying his jaw harp.
I’m sure we were all horrified to see Chix stroll into the shuttle with both Callie and Hill hanging around in nets. Thankfully, the plastic of the crates was dark enough so that she didn’t notice us hiding in them. She thrust a key into the keyholes of two empty crates. The lids popped off, and she put each of her prizes in a separate crate. A sliding door on the glass tube opened on contact, and she stepped inside. Seconds later, a “shoonk” sounded and she was gone.
Before I could register how she disappeared, an engine’s rumbling could be heard, and the sensation of being in motion began.
“No... no... No! Not the Distance!” I whispered. As if it would do anything to protect me, I put my paws on my head and cowered.
Rubia wouldn’t want me to do this.
There was nothing I could do. Show me! Show me what could be more terrifying; I have nothing to lose now!
How much time passed? Or rather, how much time didn’t pass? Either way, I couldn’t have been more relieved when it stopped.
That was until I came upon the unfortunate discovery that the crates were locked from the inside.
My stomach felt cold. My gaze shifted around, searching for something that could possibly help. The form of Callie huddled in the crate next to my own. I rapped on the wall of the boxes.
She appeared surprised. I carried on. “I think Chix will take you out of there sooner or later. When she does, fight back. Come back here and pick the locks of our boxes when you get the chance.”
There was nothing more that could be said. The Huntress re-entered through the mysterious tube, took her prizes from their crates without so much as removing their nets and she once more went through the pipe.
To be continued...