"Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors: Death Magicks"
Author: April Richards
Rating: R for violence and some swearing
Plot/Warning: The Wheelies land on a planet to help the people fight off the Monster Minds. However, Saw Boss has contacted a local wizard, a Necromancer, to whip up a special surprise for the Wheelies.
Setting: Right after the last episode of the show.
Stars lazily floated pass the window as Jayce looked out. He had a heavy blanket draped around him as he sighed and rubbed a bandaged shoulder. Jayce gripped an old fashioned pen and opened a black, leather bound book.
" 'Date: 3rd Day of the Month of the Harvest Moon, Time: half past one in the morning.
This has definitely one of the worst days I've experienced since joining Herc on the PRIDE. We received a distress call from Alana XII three days ago. Monster Minds had invaded them and they needed help. Herc had wanted to set down on Alana XII anyway because we were running low on supplies again. We were only a day or so away from the planet and agreed to help them fight off the Monster Minds.
As soon as we landed, we came under fire from Terror Tanks. I hate Terror Tanks. I've never liked snakes before, but now, forget it. I jump if I see a little green snake! Herc thinks it's funny. The oh-so brave leader of the Lightning League is afraid of snakes. Well, next time I find a spider in the PRIDE, we'll see if Herc finds it funny. A nice spider in your bed, Herc...
I've gotten off topic, haven't I? Blame what ever it was that Gillian made me drink. I've felt like some one has stuffed cotton in my head ever since. But, it's helped the pain, so I shouldn't complain.
Anyway, as soon as we landed, Terror Tanks attacked us. We could see a horde of Saw Troopers and K.O. Kruisers. The Gun Grinners were behind the Terror Tanks. The PRIDE's masts took a direct hit and we crash landed. (Never a fun thing. I always end up hitting my head off the consul when we do that. Either Herc needs to put padding on that thing or maybe I'll move my chair away from it.)
Herc and I ran to the vehicles and went into battle. Gillian and Flora stayed behind to try to repair the masts. Oon was with me, naturally.
At first, it was a normal battle. The Monsters Minds were strong, but nothing to make us worried. But for some reason, Flora kept sensing something else. Some other evil, but she couldn't clearly describe it. Either way, Herc and I were on guard.
Herc had just smashed through a line of K.O. Kruisers when our sensors picked up something new coming towards us. Smaller than the Monster Minds, but not living.
"So, ole Tomato Head is usin' robots now?" Herc asked over his communicator.
"I don't know. The computer just says what ever it is, it's not alive and there are a lot of them," I answered, a strange cold feeling filling my stomach.
Suddenly, the Monster Minds broke away and we saw what Flora had first picked up on. Zombies. A lot of them. It looked like Saw Boss had revived an entire cemetery.
"Gillian, how do you fight Zombies?" I asked.
"Zombies?" Gillian repeated, shocked. "I can't believe that Saw Boss has stooped so low."
"Well, either Saw Boss is going to do one of those 'Night of the Living Dead' movies, or he has stooped that low," I answered back.
"Oh my... Fire is the best weapon against Zombies. They are relentless in their pursuit, Jayce. Especially if they smell flesh."
"Lovely," Herc groaned. "Here they come, Kid!"
The Zombies surrounded us. I tried to use Armed Force's crank to push them away so I could use lasers, but they would come right back. Two large Zombies crawled on top of Armed Force and hammered against the canopy with their fists. It was distracting, but there was no way that they could break in.
The Zombies roared in anger and toppled Armed Force, slamming Oon into my side. His Magic Lance just missed piercing my ear. Again the Zombies jumped onto the canopy and started pounding on it. They didn't try to use tools or even rocks. Just their fists and their heads.
Just then, one of the Zombies accidentally tripped the emergency escape button on the outside of Armed Force. Gillian installed those just in case one of us ever got stuck inside a vehicle after a battle. The canopy blew off and Oon and I were exposed to them.
The Zombies ignored Oon, but grabbed me and pulled me out.
"MASTER!" Oon screamed.
"KID!" I heard Herc yell as he ran over several Zombies to try to get to me.
God, I can still feel their horrible, slimy hands on me!
They shredded my shirt and some of my skin got caught in their frenzy. One Zombie, a man in the dark tunic of a cleric, bared his teeth and sunk his teeth into my shoulder. I always thought it was VAMPIRES that did that. Not Zombies. At least, all the horror movies I liked as a kid said that. Either way, it hurt!
"Get away from my Master!" Oon yelled and bopped the hungry Zombie on the head with his lance. The Zombie looked at Oon, but ignored him. His pause was what I needed to slip away from him.
Herc pulled up beside me in Spike Trike. He opened the canopy. "Come on, Tin Head! Jayce! Get in!" He yelled. Oon and I scrambled into Spike Trike.
I was holding onto my shoulder. Blood flowed from in-between my fingers. Herc looked at it. "Geez, Kid, you OK?"
"I'll be OK," I answered, my teeth clenched.
"Right, Hot shot!" Herc snorted. "Have Gillian look at that when we get back."
I didn't answer him. Instead, I turned on my communicator and said, "Drill Sergeant, Rescue Plan "D", Armed Force."
*Command Acknowledged! *
Drill Sergeant drilled through the Zombies and nudged Armed Force back onto its feet, er, wheels.
"Good Job, Drill Sergeant!" I said. "Everyone, Attack Plan "F"! Full Power!" I ordered. All the vehicles faced the Zombies. The lasers hummed as they went to full power. Bright red energy heated up at the tips of guns. "FIRE!" I yelled. All the guns fired at once and the Zombies combusted.
"Good job, Master!" Oon cheered.
"We'd better head in now, Kid," Herc suggested. "You look like hell."
"Thanks, Herc," I frowned. "And you look as lovely as usual."
"I'm serious," Herc started to turn Spike Trike around.
"OK. Everyone, head home!" I ordered the vehicles.
We turned around and headed back to the PRIDE. Gillian was waiting for us in the Vehicle Bay.
"Jayce, my boy, are you all right?" Gillian demanded as Herc helped me out of Spike Trike.
"I'll be fine," I lied. I was exhausted and I wanted to take a hot bath. A long hot bath. I felt like I'd never get clean.
"What happened?" Gillian asked Herc.
"The Zombies decided that our Jayce would make a wonderful meal," Herc said.
"Shut up," I groaned quietly.
Gillian examined my shoulder. I winced as he poked at it. Flora stood by my side and hugged my legs. Gillian and Herc frowned as they saw the injury. "I'm sorry, Jayce, but we'll need to purify this wound immediately," Gillian finally said.
"Purify?" I repeated. "I don't think I'll like that."
"It's not pleasant, I'll admit," Gillian said. "But, it's better than the alternative." Gillian turned to Flora. "Child, why don't you and Oon wait for us on the bridge. This will take a while." Gillian paused. "And, please, no matter what you may sense from Jayce, please do not come to him."
"Why?" I asked. Gillian didn't answer. He and Herc continued to look grimly at me.
Jayce closed his journal as he heard Herc enter his room. The older man frowned at the boy.
"You should be sleeping, Kid."
"I don't want to," Jayce admitted. He shivered, sending shards of pain down his shoulder. "Every time I close my eyes..."
Herc sat on the bed next to Jayce. He put a hand on Jayce's good shoulder. Jayce looked away from his friend. "I know, Kid, I know," Herc whispered.
"No, you don't know, Herc," Jayce growled softly. "You're not the one who had Holy Water poured on him for over an hour!" Then, Jayce sighed. "I'm sorry, Herc."
"That's OK, Jayce, you deserve to be in a bad mood right now," Herc ruffled Jayce's hair.
Jayce closed his eyes. He could still smell the Zombies on his body, despite the purification and the long bath he took afterwards.
Herc held Jayce down as Gillian bared the wounded shoulder. Once it healed, the shoulder would be scarred.
"I'm afraid this will hurt, Jayce," Gillian apologized as he opened a crystal bottle. He poured a clear liquid on the raw flesh. Jayce screamed and tried to jerk away from Herc, but the ex-space pirate's grip was firm. The flesh sizzled and bubbled as the taint of the Zombie was forced out.
"Gillian, what in the nine hells are you doing to him?" Herc yelled at the wizard as more Holy Water rained down on Jayce. "What is that? Acid?"
"No. It feels like acid, but it's only Holy Water. We have to force this taint out of Jayce or it could kill him," Gillian answered, tears falling down his wrinkled face.
"Well, the purification could kill him! Dammit!" Herc swore when Jayce suddenly vomited. "It's OK, Kid, it's OK," Herc whispered to Jayce. Herc wiped the sweat from Jayce's pale face. "You gotta stop it, Gillian!"
"I can not stop until all the taint is out," Gillian said regretfully.
The first crystal bottle emptied quickly. Gillian pulled out a second from his voluminous sleeves. With out any warning, more of the blessed liquid gushed onto Jayce. Jayce sobbed, but did not try to pull away from Herc. He was too weak to move.
A third and a fourth bottle soon joined the first two empty ones on the edge of the large sink. Gillian paused before he pulled out the fifth bottle. He sprinkled some of the liquid on Jayce's shoulder. Jayce did not even flinch. A hopeful look filled Gillian's eyes.
"How will you know if you got it all?" Herc asked, his face streaked with tears and sweat after an hour in the stuffy room.
"I will place something against the wound. If it burns, then the taint is not gone," Gillian answered quietly. Jayce's blue eyes were closed; he appeared to be sleeping. Gillian pulled out a silver object from his pocket. Herc recognized it as a cross. "Evil beings hate Silver. It is made out of Moonlight, one of the purest substances in the universe."
Gillian took a deep breath. Herc closed his eyes, unwilling to watch his friend's flesh be cauterized. Gillian pressed the cross to the still raw flesh. Jayce whimpered from pain, but the wound did not sizzle. Herc looked up at Gillian. Gillian dumped the rest of the Holy Water on to the wound. Nothing happened.
"It's over," Gillian announced. Herc sagged with relief. He leaned Jayce against his own broad shoulder so Gillian could finish treating the wound. The ancient wizard applied a cooling, soothing healing gel onto the wound and bandaged it. The young leader of the Lightning League opened his watery eyes.
"Gillian?" Jayce asked, his voice hoarse from screaming.
"The taint is gone from your body, Jayce. You need only to rest and regain your strength," Gillian said in a gentle voice.
Herc stood up and picked Jayce up. Jayce looked up at his friend. Herc's dark green eyes were still shiny from crying. The boy started to say something, but decided to be quiet. As Herc strolled to the door, it opened, revealing a wide-eyed Flora and Oon.
"Is Jayce OK?" Flora asked.
"Child, how long where you there?" Gillian demanded.
"Since Jayce started screaming," Flora admitted.
"I told you not to come here," Gillian started to scold, but Oon cut him off.
"My Master was in pain!" Oon responded. "Is he OK now, Gillian?"
"Yes," Gillian answered. "Jayce will be fine."
"YAY!" Flora jumped up and down. She ran to Herc and hugged his legs. Herc stumbled and almost dropped Jayce.
"Watch it, Spinach Nose! Unless you want me to drop your big brother on you!" Herc yelped.
"Sorry," Flora blushed and she and Oon let Herc and Gillian pass through the door.
Tears fell down Jayce's face. Herc wiped them away. "Hey, Jayce, do you want me to sit with you for a while? Until you feel like sleeping?"
"No," Jayce wiped his nose. "I think I'll just stay up tonight. Maybe finishing reading that book I started before we landed here." Herc snorted. He picked up the book. The title proclaimed "Bloody Bones."
"I'd lay off scary stuff for a while, Kid." Herc knelt in front of a box marked "Jayce's Movies." "You have to have something to watch in here." Herc sorted through the small tapes. " 'Night of the Living Dead,' 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' 'Friday the Thirteenth,' 'Sleepy Hollow,' 'Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad'..."
"That's Flora's. I borrowed it back when we were in Gillian's garden. I keep forgetting to give it back to her," Jayce spoke up.
"Kid, you have got to stop watching horror movies!" Herc sighed as he shoved the box away. "Don't you have any normal movies?"
"You borrowed all of the Anime I had," Jayce pointed out.
"You're too young for most of that stuff," Herc laughed.
"Hey, my friend gave me those!" Jayce protested, then yawned. He blinked his eyes.
"Get some sleep," Herc eased Jayce back into his pillow. "We'll finish this conversation later."
Jayce was already asleep when Herc left the room.
The next morning dawned clear and cool. The only traces of the Zombie attack of yesterday were the patches of burnt grass that surrounded the PRIDE. A bleary eyed Jayce stumbled into the bridge. Herc, Gillian, Oon, and Flora were already in their normal seats.
"I thought you'd sleep in," Gillian said.
"I had a hard time sleeping last night," Jayce admitted. He sat next to Oon. The Eternal Squire smiled hopefully up at his master. "Gillian, we need a crash course on Zombies."
"Your movies should have taught you something, Jayce," Gillian grinned at the boy. Jayce raised an eyebrow. "But, for those of us who can not stomach movies that consider decapitation a work of art," Herc and Flora laughed at their leader's outraged expression. "Zombies are re-animated corpses, often brought to back to life for evil reasons."
"Like killing?" Flora chimed in.
"Yes, dear," Gillian answered.
"Who would call up a Zombie?" Herc asked.
"A Necromancer would be the best person to do it. They have a familiarity with the dead. They're born with it," Jayce explained. Herc and Flora gawked at him. "My books," Jayce defended himself.
"Jayce is correct. However, just because a person is a necromancer, doesn't mean that person is evil," Gillian added.
"What would a good necromancer do?" Flora asked.
"Use their powers to find murderers, find missing people, mostly," Gillian answered.
"So a good necromancer wouldn't raise a Zombie?" Herc asked.
"Only if they needed to learn who killed the person," Jayce responded. "The dead can't lie so what ever they say has to be accepted."
"Books again, Hot Shot?" Herc shook his head. "So where do we find this necromancer?"
"The one raising the Zombies? Look for a near by cemetery, first. Most Zombies will not travel a kilometer or so beyond their graves," Gillian called up a map for the surrounding area. "We should also look for signs of Verve, including chicken feathers, flour, and of course blood."
"I don't think we'll find feathers, Gillian," Jayce spoke up, his face grim. "To get that many Zombies, you'd need a 'hornless goat.' A lot of them."
Herc and Flora looked at each other confused, while Gillian stroked his beard. "I'm afraid you're right, Jayce."
"What does goats have to do with this?" Herc demanded.
" 'Hornless Goat' is a term for human sacrifice. To raise that many Zombies, this necromancer would have to be killing humans during the ritual. He or she could also have to be a practitioner of Vaudun, er, VooDoo," Jayce clarified.
"Oh great, this just gets better and better! First Monster Minds and now VooDoo wackos who kill hornless goats or whatever!" Herc yelled. "How do you stop the necromancer?"
"I'm afraid you'd have to kill him or her," Gillian said quietly. "A person like that can not be trusted to normal prisons. An evil necromancer is a danger to everyone."
"Especially one that has allied himself with Saw Boss," Jayce said in a dark voice.
Suddenly, Jayce drifted off, staring hard at the view screen, which showed the quiet morning outside. Oon shivered, and touched his master's arm. "A-a-are you OK, Master Jayce?" Before Jayce could answer a bright glow surrounded Flora.
"Some one's outside," Flora said.
"Activate the intercom," Jayce ordered Herc.
"She's ready, Kid," Herc flashed the thumbs up.
"This is Jayce of the Lightning League. Identify yourself."
*This is Aurok of Alana XII. *
"Aurok, you old dog!" Gillian laughed. "Come on in!" The ancient wizard stood up and ran off to the vehicle bay. The rest of the Lightning League followed him. On the ramp stood a man, possibly Gillian's age, but it was hard to tell. The two men hugged each other.
"Old dog?" Aurok laughed. "You're older than me by almost a year."
"Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, if I remember correctly," Gillian laughed. "Oh, where are my manners? Aurok, I'd like you to meet Herc, Flora and Jayce."
"Hey," Herc shook hands. Flora smiled shyly, her eyes guarded.
"Hello," Jayce took the offered hand and froze.
...The machete was heavy with blood. Jayce looked down and saw a pale figure at his feet, lifeless. In the trampled grass the verve, a circular design use to summon great powers, hummed and shone through the blood that encircled it. In the middle of the circle stood a tombstone. The writing was obscured by electric fog. Underneath the ground, something stirred to life...
"Jayce!" Herc yelled as Jayce awoke from his trance and pulled away from Aurok. Jayce stumbled over one of the Zoggies. "What's wrong, Kid?"
"I don't know," Jayce frowned.
Flora ran to her brother's side and hugged him. When her cheek pressed close to Jayce's she whispered "I felt something too."
"I don't think I trust Aurok. Even if he's Gillian's friend," Jayce hissed in Flora's ear. Herc hulled Jayce to his feet. The ex-space pirate lay a hand on Jayce's forehead, checking for fever. Gillian glanced at the pair.
"No fever," Herc shrugged.
"Is the boy ill?" Aurok asked, concerned.
"I'm fine," Jayce said before anyone could answer. His loose tunic slipped down off his injured shoulder. Aurok raised an eyebrow.
"What happened to you, Jayce?" Aurok asked.
"Accident," Jayce said in a guarded voice. He stooped and picked up Flora, resting her on his left (-uninjured) side. Flora's body also hid Jayce's laser pistol from view and the fact that his hand now rested only an inch or so from it.
"Are you sure?" Aurok moved towards Jayce. The boy backed up the ramp, trying to keep out of Aurok's grip.
"I said I'm fine," Jayce growled at Aurok. Flora glared at the new wizard. Herc looked confused while he and Gillian tried to understand the sudden hostility in Jayce. Aurok slowly advanced on Jayce and reached out towards the bandaged shoulder. Aurok's fingers rested against Jayce's neck. Jayce stiffened as an unseen bolt of energy shot through him.
...Jayce saw himself in the cemetery again. He kicked the dead body out of his way and approached a girl who was about his age, her hands and feet tied tightly and her cries muffled by a gag. Her amber eyes were uncovered and she saw what had happened to the first victim. Tears rolled down her face as Jayce yanked back on the champagne colored hair. He showed her the machete, lightly caressing her face with it. A black marble tombstone shone in the eerie fog and reflected everything like an ancient mirror. The girl watched, helpless, as the machete was slowly drawn across her throat and her lifeblood filled the circle with more Power...
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" Jayce screamed and pushed Aurok away and hurried up the ramp, still clutching Flora close to him. He turned so that his injured shoulder faced Aurok and his body safely shielded Flora. Sweat ran down his face as he trembled.
"Jayce," Gillian hurried over to the boy. "What is going on?"
"Murder," Jayce gasped out. "I saw murder..."
Aurok laughed softly. "I see the boy is a touch telepath. Haven't you been training him, Gillian?"
"We did not know about this," Gillian admitted, his voice hard.
"Jayce, my dear boy," Aurok smiled. "I am a wizard, yes, but I also work with the local law enforcement. I have been helping them solve a recent rash of killings. What you saw must have been the crime scene."
Jayce didn't agree with the wizard or correct him. His pale blue eyes hardened, taking on a steely color. Herc walked over to Jayce and took Flora off him. Then, he eased Jayce down on to the floor of the vehicle bay. "Sit down, Kid, before you faint," Herc said. Flora squirmed out of Herc's grip and sat next to her brother.
"Aurok," Gillian spoke up. "About these murders..."
"Oh, are you interested? Always was the crime buff, Gillian. Even when we were younger," Aurok sighed, as his eyes grew distant. "Well, eight people have been found dead in a local cemetery."
"Well, you're going to find dead people in cemeteries," Herc pointed out. Flora giggled at the man.
"Not unburied and with their throats slit," Aurok corrected.
"Ah, no," Herc agreed sheepishly.
"Was the most recent a girl about my age?" Jayce asked suddenly. "Long champagne colored hair, amber eyes?"
"Yes," Aurok answered, shocked. "You saw that?"
Jayce didn't answer back. He bit his lip as he remember the girl's death and his strange feeling of euphoria he felt when he saw her die. *What the hell is going on with me? * He thought.
Jayce moved farther away from Aurok, still making sure that his body blocked Flora from the danger that Jayce felt all around him. Flora hugged his legs, her eyes wide and confused. Jayce shivered again despite the sweat that poured down his face. Herc reached over and brushed the boy's shaggy hair out of his face.
"Are you sure you're all right, Kid?" Herc asked.
Jayce nodded his head so that his head touched Herc's stooped shoulder, then hissed; "Something's wrong here."
Suddenly, the sweet stench of decay filled the open vehicle bay. Herc swore and pulled out his laser pistol. Jayce shoved Flora farther into the PRIDE and joined Herc, his own weapon drawn.
"What is going on?" Gillian gagged.
"More Zombies!" Jayce yelled. "Gillian, we need fire spells!"
"Of course..." Gillian's voice trailed off as he recalled the words for the spells. "Aurok, please stand by me," Gillian asked, trying to remove his friend from danger. "Is Flora safe?"
"Yeah," Herc grunted. The shambling gray forms formed up in front of the ramp. "Keep those monkeys off my ship!" Herc screamed as the first Zombie stepped onto the PRIDE and was zapped by Herc.
"Kakkazan!" Gillian intoned. Fire shot out of his fingers and took out a line of the Zombies.
Jayce and Herc fired their lasers at the remaining Zombies. Some of the Zombies were from yesterday's attack and remembered Jayce's smell. They closed in on Jayce, trying to force him to the ground. Their rotting hands covered Jayce's mouth and Herc and Gillian were unable to get in a clear shot. Suddenly, the Right of Light, the ancient symbol of the Lightning League, flashed into life, catching the Zombies in a magical fire that incinerated them, but left Jayce and the PRIDE untouched.
"Jayce!" Herc ran to his young friend. Fresh blood spotted the white bandage on his shoulder. Herc pulled Jayce into a tight embrace and let the shaken boy lean on him.
Suddenly, Jayce pulled away from Herc and pointed his laser pistol at Aurok. "Jayce?"
"I want answers, Aurok!" Jayce hissed. Gillian moved towards the boy. "Stay away from him, Gillian! He's doing something, I know it! Some kind of Magicks!"
"Nemuru," Gillian gently intoned, sending glittery purple dust motes towards Jayce. The boy's eyes fluttered, then he collapsed on the floor. Herc picked Jayce up. Gillian turned towards his friend. "I'm so sorry, Aurok. Normally Jayce is much friendlier. But, being attacked by Zombies twice in as many days has left him a little...distraught."
"That is perfectly understandable, Gillian," Aurok smiled again.
Herc carried Jayce into the PRIDE's main area. Flora followed the pair with Oon at her side. As soon as they were clear of the vehicle bay, Jayce opened his eyes and exhaled. Herc set Jayce down.
"OK, Hot Shot, what was that all about," Herc demanded.
"I held my breath when the cloud came towards me. It's an old trick my father taught me to avoid Sleep Magicks," Jayce confessed.
"Not that!" Herc grabbed Jayce's good shoulder. "The going gonzo on Aurok."
"He's using some sort of Magicks on us, Herc. Flora," Jayce turned to his sister. "Did you sense the Zombies?"
"Not until they were fighting you and Jayce," Flora said. She paused. "I could feel something not...right about Aurok. Jayce is right. There is Magic involved, but nothing I've felt before."
The group walked towards Jayce's room. "Master Jayce, I've felt Magic like that once," Oon said. "A few hundred years ago. A Fairy was trying to use Glamour Magicks on my Master at the time. Master Andrel, I think it was."
"Oon, Aurok is human, as far as I can tell," Flora disagreed. "He couldn't use Glamour."
"What is Glamour?" Herc snapped.
"Fairy Magicks. They can make you see what you want to see. Humans can't use it..." Jayce's voice trailed off as he thought. "Unless Aurok stole it from a Fairy. Maybe killed one to get it."
"Damn," Herc whispered and flopped down on Jayce's bed and on top of a frightened Zoggie. "GALLOPING GALAXIES!" Herc yelled and leaped up again. The tiny yellow Zoggie whimpered and scampered to Flora. Herc checked the bed again before sitting down. "So, Kid, how do we fight Glamour?"
Jayce handed Herc, Oon, and Flora pendants. "These aren't for Glamour, but if evil Magicks are being used, we'll need them." Jayce slipped a similar pendant, a silver Pentagram with a Tiger's Eye gem center; over his head and hid it in his shirt. The rest followed suit. "Pentagrams are used for protection. As is Tiger's Eye." Jayce held up a book on Magicks.
"What about Glamour in particular?" Herc asked.
"Carrying salt and using ointment made from Four Leaf Clover," Jayce consulted the book again. "The ointment goes on the forehead and the heart. Glamour Magicks won't work on you then. It's best that the person doing the Glamour doesn't know that you've taken any precautions against it. Same the with the Pentagram."
"What about Gillian? He's unprotected!" Flora wailed.
"We'll have to hide a Pentagram on him. It won't be easy," Jayce sat next to Herc and took Flora onto his lap. "We can't tell him anything, until we have proof. Aurok is his friend and Gillian doesn't want to believe the worst about anyone."
"Well, Kid, looks like we have some shopping to do," Herc said.
"Herc, can you get something to shoot fire? Like napalm guns?" Jayce asked suddenly.
"What in space do you want that for? Those guns are hotter than a super nova on a Saturday night!"
"The Zombies. Even Gillian would have to agree that we need some sort of flame gun to use against the Zombies," Jayce said. "And, we'd need...other supplies."
"I get it, Kid."
Just then, the Zoggies barked and Gillian's voice could be heard in the hallway. Jayce scrambled under the covers and pretended to be asleep. Flora curled up by his side, also faking sleep. Herc sat on a chair and flipped through the nearest horror novel from Jayce's over filled shelves. Gillian opened the door.
"How is he?" Gillian whispered.
"They're both asleep," Herc lied. "I thought I'd sit with the kid for a while. Just in case."
"Good." Gillian looked sadly at Jayce. "Poor Jayce." He shook his head and left.
As soon as Gillian was gone, Jayce sat up. "Herc, can we do this shopping trip soon?"
The sun fell over the clearing the PRIDE rested in. Jayce pulled his distinctive striped hair into a ponytail and placed a cap over it. A plain, dark gray and red tunic replaced his normal blue tunic and he had donned a pair of dark pants. Jayce grabbed his old book bag and slung it over his uninjured shoulder.
"Ready, Herc?" Jayce asked.
"Sure, Kid," Herc said, dressed in denim pants and a white work shirt.
"I wish I could go with you guys," Flora pouted. Jayce knelt in front of his sister.
"Flora, you and Oon have to stay here and keep an eye on Gillian," Jayce said. He hugged his sister tightly.
"Becareful, Jayce," Flora whispered. Jayce kissed her cheek, then the pair climbed on to space scooters and left the PRIDE.
The pair zoomed through the sky, heading for Kyrs, the capital city of Alana XII. A mile outside of the city, Herc and Jayce landed the space scooters.
"Will your friend be able to get what we asked for?" Jayce asked suddenly.
"Grimms is not what you'd call a friend," Herc admitted. "But, he was the best gun runner I knew. Back in the old days, of course."
"Two napalm guns, a piece or two for both of us," Herc paused. "Anything else." Jayce frowned, then nodded his head. "A small piece? Something that would maybe fit in the hands of a certain Little Orchid we both know?"
"I'm afraid so," Jayce's shoulders slumped. "I can't believe this! I'm asking you to buy my little sister a gun! What is wrong with this picture?"
Herc grabbed Jayce's shoulder, his injured one, causing the boy to cry out in pain. "Jayce, the problem is that some one, possibly Gillian's old friend, is killing people to make killing machines. You know Gillian wouldn't carry a gun. He doesn't believe in them. If we go down fighting this guy, Flora and Gillian wouldn't have a chance unless one of them was armed."
"I'm not sure that conventional bullets would stop this guy," Jayce shivered as he remembered the Power that flowed off Aurok. "But we have to try."
"I'm sure Grimms has something that would at slow this bastard down."
"Good luck, Herc."
"You too, Kid."
The pair separated. Jayce wondered into the crowded streets of Kyrs. He swallowed as people brushed past him, ignoring him. His sharp eyes scanned the wooden signs until he found the one he wanted on a side street. He paused at the dusty window, looking for signs of life. A woman him smiled and motioned for him to enter the store. Jayce entered the store and was overwhelmed by the warm, rich smells of various burning incense sticks and other potpourri.
"Can I help you?" She asked. Jayce gasped. This woman resembled the murder victim he had seen in his vision. "Are you OK, friend?"
"Fine. I'm fine," Jayce shook himself. "Um, do you sell Four Leaf Clover Ointment here?"
"Of course we do," The woman smiled at him. "That is a power herb. What do you need it for?"
"Protection against Glamour Magicks." Jayce looked again at the woman. Her amber eyes were so sad. "Ma'am? Is something wrong?"
"Nothing, my friend." She looked down at the jars of ointments.
"Are you sure? Maybe I can help you if you need help?" Jayce offered. He looked around the store and uttered a small cry of amazement. The murdered girl's picture hung in the store.
"Did you know my daughter?" The woman asked, tears falling down her face.
"No..." Jayce hesitated. "Ma'am?"
"I'm sorry," She sniffled. Jayce handed her a handkerchief. Flora had made it for his birthday the year before the Monster Minds attacked for the first time. She managed to embroider his name on the corner. The woman looked at it. "Jayce?"
"Yes?" Jayce looked at her, then blanched. *So much for undercover. *
The woman handed him back his handkerchief. She raised an eyebrow. "I always thought that the leader of the Lightning League would have been bigger." Jayce groaned. She giggled softly at Jayce's pained expression. "As for your offer of help, my problem is hopefully best solved by the police."
"Was your daughter murdered?" Jayce asked suddenly. The woman glared at him.
"What do you know?" She demanded.
"I think I may have seen her murder...in a vision, I guess you'd call it," Jayce explained.
"How did you get this vision?"
"I touched some one. Well, he touched me."
The woman motioned for Jayce to come into the back room, behind the counter. "We should talk."
Jayce sat down on a thickly cushioned chair and sneezed. The potpourri smells were even stronger back here. He looked at another picture of the murdered girl. This looked like a school picture, maybe a senior picture, with a name, Jerri-Anne, embossed on the bottom. "She was very pretty," Jayce commented. "She really looked like you."
"Thank you," Jerri-Anne's mother smiled through her tears. "Jerri-Anne would have found you cute, too." Jayce turned bright red and looked at his shoes. "I didn't mean to embarrass you, Jayce."
"That's OK. Um, what did you want to talk about?" Jayce forced himself to look at the woman.
"I want to know what happened. Maybe I can help you...and you can help me," She leaned forward.
Herc strolled deeper into the heart of Krys. He passed the stands and stores that grew shabbier as he walked closer to the small lake that sat in the center of the city. The streets thinned out as he entered a street called Oshi Avenue.
Broken windows gaped in the harsh glow of streetlights; the autumn winds howled through these windows, sounding like wild animals. Herc shivered. The few people he saw on these dark streets, mainly homeless and drunk, ignored Herc. His dark green eyes scanned the pitted signs for the one he wanted.
"Here!" Herc whispered to himself. He entered a broken down building proclaiming it to be the Golden Dolphin Tavern.
Herc paused at the door to let his eyes adjust to the thick darkness inside. Very few patrons frequented the Golden Dolphin Tavern. The only congregation sat together in a rag-tag lump at a table, far from the bar.
"Welcome, Stranger," A hoarse voice said as Herc marched up to the bar. "What'll it be."
"A shot of Zassoo and a chaser of Sun Beer," Herc ordered.
The bartender looked up. "Only one person ever ordered that, Herc Stormsailor!" He grinned. He slapped the requested booze down on the bar. "On the house, you ole Space Rat!"
"Thanks, Grimms," Herc downed the Sun Beer in a gulp.
"So, what brings you to Alana XII's worst bar?" Grimms asked. "I thought you were all legit now. Workin' with that Lightning League and stuff."
"I'm lookin' for some Super Novas," Herc said quietly, using the smuggler slang for napalm guns. Grimms' small eyes widened.
"What in the nine hells do you need them fer?"
"For an extermination project the Kid and I are doing," Herc answered, glancing at the lump of rags.
"Don't worry about them," Grimms waved his hand towards the group. "They always come in here around noon on Friday and drink themselves silly. They've been passed out for a few hours now. I jus' let 'em sleep it off in here."
"All right." Herc tossed back the Zassoo and grimaced at the bitter, flowery taste of the liquor. Herc leaned forward and dramatically lowered his voice. "The Kid and I are fightin' against those Zombies that are working for the Monster Minds. We need Super Novas and a few other pieces."
Grimms sighed. "I'm officially out of that business, but I did keep a few things, just in case. Come on." Grimms lead Herc to a door that led to the upstairs of the bar. The upstairs was darker than the bar downstairs. Grimms lit a small candle and apologized. "I can't afford electricity up here."
"That's OK," Herc stumbled over a large rat. He picked it up and scratched it behind the ears. "Hey, Nezumi! I'm surprised Nezumi's still goin'!"
"Nezumi'll out live us all, I'm afraid," Grimms smiled fondly at his pet.
The pair sat down at a ramshackle table. Grimms pulled out heavy trunk and opened it. He placed two, large bulbous guns on the table. Herc picked them up and looked at them. Then, he nodded his head. Grimms put more guns on the table. Herc picked through then added six to the pile started by the napalm guns. The sixth gun was a small, lightweight four shot option. Herc weighed it in his palm, then sighed sadly. Grimms saw the sad look on his friend's face, but remained silent, as was the custom during illegal gun deals. Grimms added accessories to the pile: holsters, bullets. Herc picked out two boots holsters, one inner pant holster, plus a normal shoulder one. He also took the heavy, thigh holsters for the napalm guns. Then, he found the small holster that went with the smallest piece. It was made to go around an ankle. Herc looked at the ammo. He naturally selected the large canisters for the napalm guns. He held up one of the bullets and shook his head. Grimms dug through his ammunition stores in the trunk and found a few boxes of hollow point rounds filled with silver buckshot. Herc smiled and added as many boxes as Grimms had to the pile.
Now it was Herc's turn to do show and tell, as the smugglers called dealings. He laid out his money for Grimms to make an offer. Grimms put aside a very small pile of coins. Enough to cover the normal guns, but no where near the worth of the napalm guns. Herc pointed to the "Super Novas" and started to add more money to the pile. Grimms put his hand on top of the pile, refusing Herc's offer. Herc raised an eyebrow.
Grimms pointed to a picture taken of Grimms and a pretty woman...the same woman who was talking with Jayce at that same moment in her store. Of course, Herc had no way of knowing this. Grimms then held up a newspaper with the headline "EIGHTH VICTIM OF THE SLAYER FOUND IN GRAY SEAS CEMETERY." He pointed to the picture of the victim, Jerri-Anne, and to the picture of the lady. Herc nodded his head in understanding and gripped Grimms' hand.
Herc loaded up two of the guns and placed one in the shoulder holster and the other in one of the boot holsters. Then, the rest of the guns were placed gingerly in special wrappings, then in the knap sack Herc brought with him. The knap sack, when slung over Herc's shoulder, hid the second exposed gun from view.
The pair, with Nezumi riding on Grimms' shoulder, strolled back down. As soon as they were in the bar again, Herc sighed. "I'm sorry, Grimms, you know that."
"Yeah," Grimms smiled sadly. Another picture of Jerri-Anne stood over the bar.
"I didn't know you were married..."
"I met her ma a few years ago. Jerri-Anne was a great girl," Grimms cried. "This has broken her mother's poor heart."
Herc gripped Grimms' shoulder. "The Kid'll get that bastard, I can promise you that. He's probably already has some crazy plan hatched in that striped head of his."
Jayce frowned as Sarah, Jerri-Anne's mother, reached over and took his hands. "Jayce, try to recall the visions, and I'll be able to see them."
"Are you sure?" Jayce asked. "I mean, one of them dealt with Jerri-Anne."
"I know..." Sarah took a deep breath.
Jayce closed his eyes and focused on the horrible visions. Images flowed through Jayce in a mass of energy. Sarah cried out as she absorbed them. Aurok's face floated over the killings in the cemetery.
"MY BABY!" She screamed as she saw her daughter's murder.
Suddenly, the Ring of Light flashed and shot out a gold beam that encased both Sarah and Jayce.
...Gray Seas Cemetery lay obscured in the same electric fog that had covered it for weeks now. A new verve lay around a new grave, one for a murderer who had been executed three days ago. Aurok leaned over a boy in a school uniform, bound just as Jerri-Anne had been. The machete rested by Aurok's side. The boy cried as Aurok started his evil chanting...
"Damn!" Jayce yelled as he pulled out of the trance. "He's going to kill that kid!"
"Here," Sarah handed Jayce a Katana blade. "Jerri-Anne used to study sword fighting."
"Thank you, Sarah!" Jayce ran out of the store, guided by the Ring of Light to Gray Seas Cemetery. Jayce's route took him past the Golden Dolphin Tavern. Herc looked up as Jayce ran past him.
"Shit! Kid, wait up!" Herc ran after Jayce. Jayce looked at Herc. "What's wrong?" Herc huffed as he pulled up even with Jayce's panic driven strides.
"Aurok's going to kill again, if we don't get to Gray Seas Cemetery!" Jayce puffed out.
"Right," Herc nodded his head as the cemetery's rusted gates came into view. Jayce poured on more speed and vaulted over the fence. Herc blew the lock off the gate and ran after his jumpy friend. They found Aurok in the center of the verve, holding onto the boy's hair.
"Stop right there, Aurok!" Jayce ordered. The evil wizard looked at Jayce.
"You can't stop us, boy, the Circle is set. No one can break it."
Jayce gritted his teeth and ran into the Circle. Power flared around the boy. Aurok dropped his victim and snatched up the machete. No one had ever broken through his Circles before. "I'll use your blood to call up my servants!" Aurok growled.
Jayce tackled the wizard. The machete flew from Aurok's hand, spinning through the cemetery.
"HEY!" Herc yelled as the machete pieced the tree next to him. Herc ran to the bound boy and pulled out a smaller hunting knife. He cut the boy free. "Go to the Golden Dolphin Tavern. Grimms'll get you safely home. Tell him Herc told you he would." The boy nodded and scampered off. A human assistant started to follow the boy, but Herc stopped him with a quick punch to the stomach.
Jayce and Aurok battled in the center of the verve. Aurok tried to summon up his Magicks, but the Circle had taken too much Power from the wizard. Jayce tagged Aurok across the chin with a hard right. Aurok fell back, blurring the verve's clear lines. Power flowed out of the ground and dissipated in the night air. Aurok shook his head to clear his mind and screamed; "VINES! Stop him!"
"KID, LOOK OUT!" Herc yelled as a mass of Monster Mind Vines burst out of an old mausoleum. Skeletons, caught on the vines, seemed to dance as the vines writhed and jerked with the power that filled the air.
The vines grabbed Jayce and pulled him into the air. The vines wrapped around Jayce's neck, slowly strangling him. Jayce tugged on the vines, trying to get enough air to summon the Ring of Light, if he could. His blurry eyes picked out new shapes lumbering towards Herc.
"Herc!" Jayce gasped out, using what precious air he had managed to suck in.
"Shit!" Herc swore and dug out a "Super Nova." Grimms had loaded it for him before Herc had left the tavern. The vines knocked the gun out of Herc's hands. An especially thick vine slammed Herc into the tree that held the machete. The machete fell out of the tree and landed on Herc's lap. Herc grabbed it and sliced through the vines. He ran to his fallen gun and snatched it up. By this time, the Zombies had come into range. Herc fired the napalm gun and the Zombies burned in a foul smelling mass. He dropped the gun back into the sack and ran towards his friend, afraid to use napalm on the vines with Jayce trapped in them.
The Ring of Light pulsed as it absorbed the Power floating in the air. Suddenly, the Ring let loose a horde of rainbow colored disks that sliced through the vines and cut down the few Zombies that Herc had not aimed at because they had been too close to his friend. Jayce fell to the ground and lay still, fighting for air.
"Kid. Oh, god, Jayce," Herc ran over to Jayce and helped him sit up. "You OK?"
"I'll be OK, I think," Jayce gasped out and rubbed his sore neck. "Where's the boy?"
"At the Golden Dolphin Tavern. Grimms runs it."
"Great." Jayce stood up and stumbled. Herc grabbed onto him and steadied him. Herc picked up his sack and the pair slowly made their way out of the cemetery. Suddenly, a pair of uniformed police officers stopped them.
"Can I help you?" Herc asked politely.
"We are looking for this boy," The first officer held out a picture of the intended victim for that night. "Have you seen him?"
"We did. He's safe now at the Golden Dolphin Tavern. My friend and I were just heading there," Herc answered truthfully.
"What the hell happened in there?" The second officer looked into the cemetery.
"Monster Minds," Jayce gasped out.
The officers looked at the bedraggled pair. Moonlight shone off the white stripe in Jayce's hair. The officers broke out into grins. "The Lightning League. I'll be go to hell!"
Just then, a beat up car pulled up in front of the cemetery. The rescued boy waved to the officers from the back seat, then jumped out of the car. He ran to the arms of the first officer.
"DADDY!" The boy squealed with laughter.
"Oh, my baby boy," The officer sobbed.
Jayce and Herc smiled at the reunion. Grimms and Sarah motioned for the pair to get into the car. As soon as Jayce was seated, Sarah handed him a bag. Jayce opened it. It was four big jars of Four-Leaf Clover ointment. Jayce started to dig for his wallet, but Sarah shook her head.
"You paid tonight by saving that boy's life, Jayce."
Jayce blushed and Herc ruffled his friend's hair. "Where to, Herc?" Grimms asked.
"A mile out of town. We left our scooters there," Herc answered.
"Are you sure the kid can drive a scooter right now? He looks beat. So do you."
"We have to. If Gillian finds them missing..."
"Ah, I understand." Grimms drove to where the scooters were parked. Jayce and Herc got out of the cramped car, calling out their thanks for the ride and supplies. As soon as Sarah and Grimms were gone, the pair jumped onto the scooters and headed for the PRIDE.
A new morning dawned over the PRIDE. Jayce groaned softly and rolled over, trying to block the sunlight out of his eyes with his pillow. But, nothing could block out the incessant creaking and rocking that kept disturbing his sleep.
"Master Jayce, wake up!" Oon called out as he and Flora shook the sleeping teen.
"C'mon Jayce, Herc said that he'd eat all the pancakes if you didn't get up!" Flora urged.
"Go away," Jayce growled and turned away from his tiny tormentors.
"Brock!" Flora called and the flying Koi squeaked a response. Suddenly, Jayce was drenched with icy water.
"What the...?" Jayce bolted up and looked around. His hair was a tangled mess, especially the white stripe. Brock stopped squirting the water and chirped a hello. Jayce glared at Brock and muttered the word "Sushi." Then, he flopped back down on his pillow.
"Jayce!" Flora yelled in his ear.
"I'm awake, Flora. Half the planet is awake now, happy?" Jayce rubbed his eyes. He sat back up and sighed. His neck still hurt him. Flora and Oon gasped when they saw the massive bruises that decorated Jayce's neck. Flora hugged him.
"You OK, Jayce?" She asked, concerned.
"I'm OK, Flora," Jayce smiled at his little sister. "Now, if you two will give me some privacy, I'll get up and get dressed." Flora sat on the edge of his bed and didn't move.
"You heard him, Flower head, out," Herc stepped into Jayce's room and shooed the small pair out.
"Thanks, Herc," Jayce smiled as Herc threw a pair of Jayce's tight denim pants at him. Jayce scrambled into them, then got out of bed. Shirtless, Jayce pawed through the tunics he owned.
"Have anything with a high neck?" Herc asked.
"No. I hate having stuff around my neck," Jayce admitted. Herc tossed Jayce a large, high-necked tunic.
"Figured you didn't," Herc smiled. "I found it in my closet. It'll be a little big, but it should hide your souvenirs from Gillian."
"Good idea," Jayce slipped it on, then belted it around his trim waist. Herc handed Jayce the two guns he had purchased for the boy. Jayce slipped one into the pant holster and the other into the boot one. Jayce slung his laser pistol low on his right hip, like normal and added his light sword to the belt. Then, he clipped his communicator onto his left arm. Jayce pressed a button on his communicator brace and a small space opened. Jayce slid a sharp hunting knife into the space. Herc was similarly armed.
"What are our plans for today, Jayce?" Herc asked.
"Find Aurok and stop him," Jayce said quietly.
"Sounds good. I'll put that on my to do list. Get more fuel for the PRIDE, then kill a deranged wizard," Herc laughed. Jayce tried not to smile, but failed.
"You'd better add syrup and butter to your list, Herc," Gillian said as he entered the room, having overheard the last part of the conversation. "Flora has eaten not only her share of the pancakes but yours and Jayce's as well." The two friends burst into laughter. Gillian chuckled also as Flora, with a syrup-smeared face, tottered into the room.
"Come here, Flora," Jayce laughed and grabbed a washcloth from his bathroom. He knelt down and wiped his sister's face clean. "You sure love your sweets."
"I can't help it. I'm part plant. Plants like sugar!" Flora protested and licked some of the syrup from the corner of her mouth before her brother could clean it off.
"No, plants make sugar, not eat it," Jayce corrected. He lightly tugged on Flora's braid then stood back up. Flora stuck her tongue out at her older brother and scampered behind Herc's legs.
Gillian looked at Herc and Jayce. He noticed the gun that Herc carried in the shoulder holster. "So, did anything exciting happen last night while I was sleeping?" Gillian asked innocently.
"What do you mean?" Jayce stiffened in alarm.
"Well, when I went to turn on the radio this morning, I heard a report that two members of the Lightning League stopped a murder from occurring last night. They also fight some Monster Mind Vines."
Jayce and Herc blushed. "Well, um, Gillian," Herc started, but Jayce cut him off.
"Herc and I went to Krys to find special weapons to use against the Zombies. You're Fire spells are powerful, but there is only one of you, Gillian and the rest of us can't do magic," Jayce said. "We encountered the killer while in Kyrs and he is definitely in league with Saw Boss. He can control the Vines." Jayce rubbed his neck as the memory of the Vines strangling him returned. Gillian saw the motion and peeled away the high collar of the tunic.
"Goodness!" Gillian gasped as he examined the bruising. "Those Vines sure like your neck, Jayce."
"Tell me about it," Jayce groaned.
"Did you see who the murderer was?" Gillian asked. Flora, Oon, Jayce and Herc exchanged worried looks. "Do you know who it is?"
"Yesss..." Jayce hesitated. How do you tell a man who was like your grandfather that his dear friend was a killer? "Gillian, maybe you should sit down," Jayce suggested. Gillian sat on Jayce's bed.
"What is it, Jayce?"
"Gillian, I'm so sorry, but the killer is Aurok," Jayce explained gently. Gillian shook his head in disbelief.
"Impossible. Why, I've known Aurok for years. He'd never do something like this lunatic is doing!" Gillian stood up. "I know you don't like Aurok, Jayce, but to accuse him of being a serial killer..."
"Why would anyone want to kill cereal?" Flora piped up.
"Flora, a serial killer is a person who kills four or more people in a similar, usually ritualistic way," Jayce explained. Flora's mouth opened in a silent "Oh." "Gillian, you know I wouldn't make an accusation like that with out proof. Herc and I saw him about to kill a boy a little older than Flora last night in Gray Seas Cemetery."
"Oh why would Aurok do something like this?" Gillian asked.
"Saw Boss' power is very tempting, Gillian," Jayce laid a hand on Gillian's shoulder in an effort to comfort him. Suddenly, Jayce stiffened as the Ring shone. His eyes widened as he felt a new vision slam into his mind.
...Aurok stood before Saw Boss in his headquarters. The wizard looked up at Saw Boss with fear. "Please, Your Excellency! I didn't mean to fail you! The boy attacked me in my own Circle! He has great Powers that extend beyond the Root!" Saw Boss didn't respond. Instead, he signaled to K.O. Kruiser. K.O. Kruiser raised his wrecking ball fist and slammed it into Aurok. Aurok screamed as his ribs broke. Another blow sent the wizard falling into the wall. Saw Boss held up his hand and K.O. Kruiser stopped.
"You get one more chance, Aurok. Kill the boy or I will kill you!"...
"Jayce!" Herc yelped when Jayce's legs gave out from under him. Jayce rested his head on the edge of his bed.
"What did you see, my boy?" Gillian asked.
"Aurok and Saw Boss," Jayce swallowed. "We've got trouble, big time."
Jayce paced back and forth across the bridge of the PRIDE. Oon sat in his normal seat, watching his master. Flora and Brock floated over head. Herc held a small package on his lap as he sat in his normal captain's chair. Gillian had left the bridge to lay down, his mind still in a deep state of shock.
"Is something else wrong, Jayce?" Flora asked. "Besides Aurok, I mean."
Jayce sighed and faced his little sister. "Flora, Herc and I have to talk to you. It's very important." Flora floated over to the pair. "Flora, you know that Herc went to the market yesterday to buy guns for us to use in self defense against Aurok and any of his servants, right?"
"Yes," Flora answered slowly.
Herc handed Jayce the package. Jayce unwrapped it, exposing a small handgun. Flora looked it over. There was also a small holster to go with it. Jayce opened the barrel so that Flora could see that it was loaded with four of the special bullets. Jayce closed it, then slid it into the holster. Jayce held up the gun, and his eyes seemed to age about twenty years.
"Flora, if for some reason, Herc and I are not here to protect you and Gillian from Aurok and his followers, you'll have to do it," Jayce said. He handed the gun to Flora. "I know you know how to use this, thanks to Herc's constant training." Jayce paused as he recalled the mandatory training they did whenever there was a break from the fighting. Thanks to Herc's days as an Intergalactic Commando, he was able to pass on needed military skills to Jayce and even Flora. Flora nodded her head, her green eyes solemn. "Flora, I don't want to do this, but I have to," Jayce sighed again.
"You can trust me, Jayce," Flora stated firmly.
"I know I can, Flora," Jayce showed her how to put the holster on her ankle and cover it with the boot. "You'll have to keep this a secret from Gillian, you know that."
"Yes, Jayce," Flora nodded her head. She could feel the extra weight on her right leg from the gun, but it was not too heavy for her to walk normally or for Brock to fly her around. "Do you have one?" Flora asked suddenly. Jayce showed her the one in the boot holster. She also noticed the thigh holster for the Super Nova. Flora tilted her head. "There is something on your shoulder."
"Just this," Jayce pulled the Katana blade out of a spine sheath. The blade glimmered in the lights of the bridge.
"Where did you get that, Kid?" Herc asked.
"Sarah, Jerri-Anne's mother gave it to me," Jayce answered. "Jerri-Anne used to study sword fighting. She said that Jerri-Anne would want it used to defeat her killer." Jayce paused as he twirled it in the air. "I stayed up almost all night after we got back to hone this edge. I modified my laser pistol to do it."
"You were up all night?" Herc demanded. Jayce nodded. "Kid, we need you at your best right now! It's bad enough we didn't even return until almost two in the morning! How much sleep did you get?"
"An hour or two," Jayce admitted.
"Geez, Jayce!" Herc yelled. He wanted to use something stronger, but he always modified his rough mouth when Flora was around. * Not that it does any good. * Herc thought with a wry grin.
Jayce looked at Herc, but didn't answer at first. Flora and Brock hovered near Jayce's shoulder. "Well, I would have gotten more sleep, but a certain flying fish tried to freeze me this morning!"
"Sorry, Jayce," Flora blushed and looked down at the floor. "I didn't know."
"That's OK, Flora-Bell," Jayce hugged his little sister, using an old nickname for her.
"So, Jayce, how do we find Aurok?" Herc asked.
"He'll need another victim to try to raise more Zombies."
"Is there any particular type of person he'd need?" Herc frowned.
"Any one would do. But the bigger the death the more Zombies. If Saw Boss wants Zombies, I think Aurok would stick with adults. That boy he tried to kill last night would have only raised one Zombie, if it was not too old."
"So, would some one older get more Zombies?" Flora asked.
"In theory, yes," Jayce said. "But, all I know about Zombies come from books and movies."
"You've been right so far, Jayce," Flora pointed out.
"That's what scares me," Jayce growled softly. "We'd better start looking for Aurok. We could use search spells, but I don't want Gillian to get any deeper into this. "
"How else could we look?" Flora asked.
"The PRIDE has sensors. We can use them. I'm pretty sure the monitors in the vehicle bay picked up his readings when he was here. We can use those to search. Herc,"
"Right on it, Kid!" Herc's strong fingers flew over the panel at his station. "OK, I've isolated that loony wizard's patterns. Scanning one hundred square meter area now." Herc's eyes studied the readouts. "It's picked something up. Aurok is moving away from the ship!"
"What?" Flora and Jayce gathered around Herc. "What do you mean?"
"He's moving away from the ship. According to these readings, he was standing right outside the PRIDE for a while, then he left..." Herc's voice trailed off as he noticed a second set of specs. "Damn!" He called them over to his screen.
"Herc, what is it?" Jayce asked, a strange feeling of dread covering him. Just then, the familiar gold light covered Flora.
"Jayce, Gillian's gone! Aurok has him!" The young girl cried out.
Jayce trembled as he murmured, "Aurok has his new hornless goat!"
"Damn!" Jayce swore as he and Herc studied the crime scene.
"I can't believe that Aurok just came up here and took Gillian! What didn't the sensors go off?" Herc growled and kicked the PRIDE. "Stupid ship!"
"It's not the PRIDE's fault," Flora protested. "I couldn't sense him either. Even with the Four-Leaf Clover ointment. Aurok is powerful. He could hide himself from us."
"Flora's right. The ointment is only good for Glamour Magicks. Normal Magicks, if there is such a thing, is different. Also, you'd have to face to face with the wizard for any ointment to work. Aurok by-passed us."
Herc grunted and focused on the mass of tracks in front of the PRIDE. He picked up a scrap of purple cloth. "From what I can tell," Herc finally spoke. "Gillian come out willingly. At least, I think it was willingly. Maybe he wanted some air." Herc strode over to a second set of tracks. "Aurok was waiting behind this tree. Here," Herc pointed to a pair of tracks. "Gillian and Aurok met. There was some struggle. Not much, considering that both were one thousand and change years old."
"But, what about that that piece of Gillian's robe?" Flora asked.
Herc held it up and let both Jayce and Flora look at it. They could see grease stains on it. "Looks like Gillian snagged it on a piece of the PRIDE. There's that damn loose bolt I've been meaning to fix on the ramp. That's probably what snagged him." Herc walked back over to the tree. He poked around, then frowned.
"What are you looking for?" Jayce asked, looking over Herc's shoulder. A strange icy breeze flowed over his arms. Jayce shivered.
"Trying to see if I can figure out what Aurok used to spirit our wizard away."
"He teleported," Jayce answered. "I can feel...I guess it's Magick residue in the air."
"How can we track him them?" Herc rubbed his chin. "Flora, can you track Gillian?"
Flora closed her eyes and concentrated. "No. He's too far away."
Jayce stood next to his sister. "Maybe, if we combine Powers, you can sense Gillian."
"Give your sister a jump start?" Herc asked, doubtful. Then, he bit his lip. "It might work. Touch telepathy and empathy are alike."
"Let's do it!" Flora grabbed Jayce's hand. Both siblings closed their eyes and focused their Energies on Gillian. A gold-blue glow encased the pair. Herc covered his eyes, as did Oon, who had just joined the group. Brock whistled and hid behind Herc. Suddenly, the glow faded and Jayce and Flora fell to their knees.
"You guys OK?" Herc ran to them. He picked up Flora and sat her on Brock. Then, he helped Jayce to his feet.
"I'm OK," Jayce panted. He turned to his sister. Flora's eyes were wide, but she was sitting up in Brock's saddle.
"Did you find Gillian?" Herc asked.
"Yes. He's being held near Gray Seas Cemetery. We couldn't see what building, though," Jayce answered.
"I could see a small cabin," Flora frowned as she tried to put her visions into words. "There was a dead space in it. I couldn't sense anything there. I couldn't go there."
"I could," Jayce shivered. "Zombies. Not too many though."
"Could Aurok have held back a few from the two attacks on us?" Herc asked.
"No. These were fairly new. He probably just raised them the night of the first attack."
"How can you tell a new Zombie from an older one?" Herc asked.
"Rot. If it's newly risen, it's not too rotten. But the longer it's out of its grave, the more it decays."
"Lovely," Herc groaned. "So, what do we do now?"
"Locate that cabin and get Gillian out of there," Jayce stated. "Then, put Aurok out of business for good."
The remainder of the Lightning League hurried back into the PRIDE then loaded up their weapons. Herc input a code into the computer, rendering the ship invisible. As Jayce slipped the inner pant holster into place, Oon commented shakily, "Master, I haven't felt Power like yours in a long time." Jayce turned to his Eternal Squire.
"You've never been around telepaths before?" Jayce asked.
"I have and you felt...different when you were searching for Gillian. Telepathy and something else," Oon stated.
"Let me guess, something scary?" Jayce smiled slightly at his friend.
"Very scary, Master. Almost like how Aurok feels, but not quite."
"Aurok's a Necromancer. I'm not one," Jayce said. Oon didn't answer, but his metal face was etched in deep concern for his young Master.
The Lightning League gathered in the Vehicle Bay. Herc glanced warily at the Space Scooters. "We're taking those to fight against Aurok?"
"The Vehicles won't help us against Zombies. They'll be on alert if Monster Minds show up, but it would be better if we didn't drive through town announcing our presence," Jayce stated. "The Scooters are fast and quiet. We'll get where we need to get to just fine."
"Right, Kid," Herc sighed.
"OK, everyone saddle up. I'm sorry, Brock," Jayce turned to the flying Koi. "You'll have to stay here." Brock squeaked in disappointment. "A flying fish is too conspicuous. And, I'm afraid that Aurok would try to hurt you. He has to know that you are bonded to Flora."
"How would Aurok know that?" Herc asked.
"I'm sure Gillian's told him a lot about us before we ever came here," Jayce said. "That means that he knows any potential weaknesses we might have." Jayce paused. "Oon, I want you to stay here and guard the Root," Jayce placed the medallion in Oon's hand. "If I don't return, please, tell Father that I tried." Tears formed in Jayce's sky colored eyes.
"You'll make it back, Master Jayce," Oon slipped the Root around his neck. Jayce smiled sadly at the small Squire. The Lightning League blasted off from the now invisible PRIDE. "Good luck, Master Jayce," Oon whispered as he watched the small group depart. Brock and the Zoggies huddled around the metal figure.
"The sun's setting!" Flora yelled as rosy-gold light shone off the white scooters.
"Want to be that those Vines we tangled with were a little "gift" from Aurok?" Herc snorted, his black braid streaming out behind him.
"You can count on it, Herc. Aurok needs total darkness, True Night, to work his Magicks. You can bet that his Circle will be harder to break this time too, if he's already set it." Jayce answered in a slightly breathless voice. The force of the cold air slamming into his chest drove his breath out.
"We'll soon see," Herc commented as True Night descended over Kyrs. "We're over Gray Seas Cemetery."
"Prepare for battle," Jayce responded tersely.
The Space Scooters hovered over the trees that outlined the cemetery. Jayce closed his eyes, then concentrated on the cemetery below him. Dry voices whispered in his mind. Too many voices complaining and demanding his attention.
"I can't find them," Jayce shook his head. "Too many voices call out."
Flora tilted her head. "I feel maybe six people down there. One's Gillian," She said. She shivered. "I can feel Power down there." She faced her brother. "The same Power I can feel coming from you, Jayce."
Before Jayce could answer, a bolt of energy slammed into his Scooter. Jayce tumbled into the cold air as Herc and Flora screamed in shock. Jayce closed his eyes; the impact of compressing air against his chest prevented him from speaking. *Help, * Jayce thought, trying to call out for the Ring of Light with his mind. Instead of the Ring responding to his plea, chill hands grabbed him and lowered him to the ground.
"What the...?" Jayce turned to face his rescuers and found himself surrounded by glowing mists. "Ghosts," Jayce hissed.
*You summoned us, Master, * The ghost closest to Jayce hummed in Jayce's head. *We are yours to command. *
"Are you aware of what has been going on in this cemetery?" Jayce asked the ghost.
*An evil one is desecrating our graves and disturbing our Rest, * The ghost answered and Jayce could feel the anger of the entire Gray Seas Cemetery rising up his spine.
"KID!" Herc yelled as he and Flora landed their Scooters and ran towards their leader. "You OK?"
"I'm fine, Herc," Jayce answered. The Ghosts hovered behind Jayce's shoulder. Herc blanched and started to draw his gun. "Herc, these good Ghosts are not our enemy. They want the desecration of their resting places stopped." Herc nodded his head.
"Um," Flora walked up to the Ghosts. "Do you know where our friend, Gillian, is being held?" She asked.
*The center of the cemetery. Great Power is flowing into it already. *
"Damn!" Jayce swore. The group ran towards the cemetery, following the Ghosts. As Jayce ran past graves already disturbed by the Power in the middle of the graveyard, the residents of the tombs crawled to the surface. A foul wind filled the noses of the Lightning League.
"Hey, Kid, look out!" Herc yelled as Zombies started following them. Jayce spun around. The lead Ghost hovered by Jayce.
*Do not fear these poor things. Your Power calls them. They will obey you, Master. *
Jayce didn't answer the ghost as they approached the cabin that had once belonged to the undertaker. Power, sliding over Jayce's skin like an icy wind, swirled around the cabin, centering on an ancient headstone. Jayce's eyes widened as he saw the Circle clearly; the Power pulsing gray and purple. In the center, Aurok held up his machete and a silver bowl. Zombies stood behind the Circle, the Power agitating them. Behind the Zombies stood three people in robes and a man in leather: assistants and a bodyguard. Aurok looked over at the Lightning League, the Power's shimmering waves distorting his face.
"You're too late, Jayce!" Aurok gloated. "Not even you can break this Circle!" The assistants and the bodyguard rushed around the circle, surrounding the Lightning League. Then, the Zombies on Aurok's side followed suit.
"Any ideas, Hot Shot?" Herc asked quietly.
Jayce turned his head and saw the Zombies and Ghosts that gathered behind him. "Let the Dead handle the Dead." As Jayce spoke, the Zombies moaned and surged forward, avoiding the Circle. The two groups of Zombies clashed, filling the air with shrieks and foul odors.
The bodyguard rushed Herc, knocking him to the ground. The two men tumbled through the overgrown grass. Jayce and Flora avoided the fighters and approached the Circle. Flora's aura flared gold as they neared it.
"There's no way we can cross that!" Flora whispered to her brother.
Jayce didn't answer. Instead, he drew the Katana and focused on the Circle. His blue aura flowed through the blade. Suddenly, Jayce leapt high into the air and sliced through the Circle, his sword absorbing the energy. The Circle's energy swirled around the blade of the Katana as Jayce entered the shattered remains of the Circle.
"Gillian!" Jayce gasped as he saw his old friend bedraggled and bound. Aurok turned to the young man and snarled.
"How did you?" He demanded, then paused as a new understanding dawned on the wizard. "Well, my boy, you are filled with surprised. I'm sure Lord Saw Boss would love to know that his enemy is also so familiar with the Dead."
"I'm not a necromancer, Aurok," Jayce growled at the wizard.
"Oh, but you are. The legions that followed you prove it. And, I know some one else who can confirm it. You see, Necromancy runs in the family. Isn't that right, Adrienne?" Aurok turned to a luminous figure. Jayce cried out and lowered the sword.
Flora hid behind her brother as the glowing figure approached Jayce. Her eyes were the same icy blue of her brother's while her hair was a rich copper. Flora's own green eyes widened as she realized that while she could see this woman, she couldn't sense her. Adrienne might as well have been a picture. Flora looked away from Adrienne and saw Gillian all trussed up. Flora pulled a small knife out of her pompom, where Jayce told her to hide it when he first gave it to her. It had a high silver content, but was still very sharp. Aurok was focused on Jayce and Adrienne, so he didn't see Flora slip around Jayce and run to Gillian.
"Oh, my..."Gillian gasped as the gag fell away.
"Quiet!" Flora hissed as she cut through the ropes. As soon as Gillian was free, she grabbed the old wizard's hand. "Let's go!" Gillian and Flora ran out of remains of the Circle. The pair quickly located Herc who was still slugging it out with the bodyguard.
Herc flung the bodyguard off him, slamming the large bodyguard into a broken, limestone tombstone. The bodyguard grunted, but jumped back up. Herc scrambled to his feet, his neck red from the bodyguard's attempts at manual strangulation. A large bruise covered the left half of Herc's face; blood trickled down his nose.
"You OK, Herc?" Flora ran to his side, Gillian stumbling behind them.
"I'm OK, Spinach Nose," Herc smiled. "What about you, Gillian?"
"I'll be all right in a moment, Herc my boy," Gillian answered, his eyes unfocused.
"We don't have a moment," Herc growled as the bodyguard rushed him again. Herc blocked the tackle, then threw the bodyguard down to the ground. The guard pulled Herc down too, but Herc was ready this time. He had one of his guns, a Glock .45 caliber, loaded with the special bullets, out. Herc pinned the bodyguard and pressed the gun to the man's chin. Then, he pulled the trigger. The gunshot echoed over the graveyard as blood sprayed over Herc and soaked into the ground.
The Zombies stopped fighting, smelling the blood. Herc ran to Flora and Gillian as the Zombies swarmed on to the still warm body. Flora covered her eyes as the sound of teeth crunching on bone replaced the echo of the gunshot.
Herc unholstered the Super Nova and let loose a stream of curses as he fired napalm into the Zombies. The stench of burning flesh and numerous small explosions as napalm hit pockets of methane gas trapped in the Zombies' bodies quickly filled the area with a thick, noxious smoke.
Through the turbid smoke, the three assistants dashed towards Herc, Gillian and Flora. They all carried smaller versions of their master's machete.
"Spread out!" Herc ordered. Flora pulled Gillian, who was still horribly dazed, away from the assistants.
One of the assistants grabbed Flora by the arm. He pulled her close and leered at her. Flora squealed, then tightened her grip on her knife. As the man leaned close, she stabbed him in the neck. The assistant cried out then dropped Flora as he collapsed in a heap; a gurgling sound issuing from the torn remains of his throat. He crawled after the child as she fled. Flora spun around and pulled out the small gun she carried in her boot. She aimed and fired one round into the assistant's head. The assistant flopped to the ground.
"Flora!" Herc yelled and ran over to her. He saw that the little girl was all right, then turned his attention to Gillian. The ancient wizard tried to cast a spell against the final assistant, but his mind was too fogged to focus correctly and the spell died in a weak shower of purple sparks. "Dammit!" Herc growled and he and Flora rushed over to Gillian as the assistant raised his machete to strike Gillian. Flora slammed her small body into Gillian's, knocking him off balance and out of harm's way. Herc drew his long sword and sliced off the assistant's head. The head flew into the air, landing against a grave with a wet *thunk*. Herc wiped the drying blood, most of it not his own, off his face and turned to his companions. "Everyone alive?" He asked.
"We're fine, Herc," Flora answered for the still stunned Gillian and herself. She discretely slipped the gun and knife into their hiding places before Gillian could see them.
Suddenly, a flash of brilliant blue lightning shot down from the sky where the Circle once stood.
Jayce knew when Flora had freed Gillian and they both left the Circle, even though his eyes never left Aurok and Adrienne.
"What did you do to my mother?" Jayce demanded.
"Why, nothing, my boy," Aurok smiled his innocent smile.
"Bastard," Jayce hissed. "What did you do to her?"
"Can't you tell, Jayce? You're a Necromancer like me. And her. Can't you tell what I've done?" Aurok taunted Jayce.
Jayce swallowed. "You've trapped her Spirit some how."
"Yes, dear Adrienne's Spirit never left this mortal plane, as it were, to go where all good Ghosts go. She was still trying to watch out for you, Jayce."
"You trapped her when you were aboard the PRIDE," Jayce accused the wizard.
"Yes, after you pulled your laser pistol on me. She was quite distressed and distracted. I was able to utter a quick spell and trap her. I figured sooner or later you'd come after me and I wanted some insurance against you trying anything heroic."
"What can you do to her? She's been dead for almost eight years," Jayce frowned, his sword still held up in a defensive posture.
"Why, Jayce, my dear boy, don't you know anything about your Powers? Didn't Adrienne ever tell you what a Necromancer can do to a Spirit?" Aurok sneered. Jayce shook his head. "What about those horrid novels Gillian said that you love so much. Didn't they tell you that a Necromancer can "kill" a Spirit? A second, most horrible and painful Death." A leer creased Aurok's face. "I shall kill her again and then I'll kill you twice..."
Jayce didn't answer. Instead, he lashed out with his sword, the blade missing a fatal strike, but still scored a deep gash across the wizard's shoulder, severing muscles and nerves. The machete dropped out of his left hand, but Aurok caught it in his right one.
"Good try, my boy," Aurok applauded. Then, he held up the machete and a bolt of Gray Energy shot out of it. The bolt slammed into Jayce's chest, knocking him into a tree. Aurok stood over Jayce. "But very pitiful. I expected so much more from Adrienne's son."
Jayce narrowed his eyes. Aurok raised his machete again. The blade whistled as it cut through the air. Jayce jerked away from the blade, but not far enough, as the blade sliced into Jayce's already wounded shoulder. Jayce hissed in pain, but managed to land a hard left into Aurok's smirking face. Aurok stumbled back, blood flowing from his broken nose. Jayce hulled himself to his feet and tightly gripped the Katana. Blood poured out of a cut on his head, thanks to making contact with the rough bark of the tree, and clouded his vision. Jayce shook his head as Aurok's image wavered before him.
*Magicks, * Jayce thought. He closed his eyes, briefly ignoring the wizard. He focused on the Power he felt hovering over the ground like the electric fog he had seen in his visions. He saw the Power dance and circle around the evil wizard; and gush out of him in an unnatural manner. Aurok wasn't using that Power, Jayce realized. That Power was flowing like blood. When Jayce had broken the wizard's Circles twice in as many nights, Jayce had injured something deep in the wizard.
Jayce's eyes snapped open. "Lightning Strikes!" Jayce yelled out the Lightning League's battle cry and ran towards Aurok, his Katana glowing with Power. Aurok raised his machete in defense, but Jayce's blade sliced through Aurok's. Aurok had only a moment to be outraged as Jayce's Katana decapitated him. The wizard's head flew only a short distance before coming to rest in the middle of the Circle.
A soft voice filled Jayce's mind with one word, *Denkoo! *
"DENKOO!" Jayce screamed out as he pointed his Katana towards the stars. A brilliant flash of blue lightning engulfed the wizard's corpse, turning Aurok's mortal remains to dust.
"Jayce!" Flora yelled as the rest of the Lightning League joined their leader.
"It's over, Flora," Jayce answered tiredly. "Aurok is gone."
Flora flung herself into her older brother's arms and hugged him tightly. Herc and Gillian gathered around the pair. Flora looked up as she felt a new presence. She gasped as she realized that she could sense Adrienne. Part of Aurok's entrapment spell cut off any and all telepathic communication. The gentle Spirit smiled at the little plant child. Then, she turned her delicate gaze onto Jayce.
*Jayce, my baby boy! * Her thoughts reached the Lightning League's minds. Her translucent hand stroked Jayce's face. *I'm so proud of you, my son. *
"Mother..." Jayce's voice choked off as tears fell down his face.
Adrienne's figure wavered as her mental voice grew weaker. *I love you Jayce, Flora. Please, tell Audric when you see him that I will always love him and that I will be waiting for him when his day comes. *
"Mother..." Jayce whispered as his mother's Spirit faded from sight. Flora let go of her brother as he fell to his knees. Herc quietly wrapped his arms around Jayce and pulled the boy into an embrace and let him cry.
Jayce sighed as he watched the stars float pass his window again. His right arm was strapped in a sling, the shoulder covered in a new mass of bandages. He rubbed it and sighed. Dark shadows underscored his pale eyes, blanching out the color. He turned his tired eyes to what he had just written in his journal.
*Date: 10th Day of the Harvest Moon. Time: I don't even know. Late.
I'm sorry it took so long to write to you, but things have been crazy since I killed Aurok. The police know now who the Slayer had been and they agree that killing him was the only way to stop him. Since Aurok had allied himself with Saw Boss, and was working for that overgrown zucchini, he was considered "Lightning League Business." So, I'm not in any trouble. (Hell, they even figured out that we had Super Novas and where we got them. Again it was over looked. I guess they figured it was safer letting us have them then letting Saw Boss over run the planet with Zombies.) Aurok and friends had been the only Necromancers on the planet. With Aurok's assistants gone (read: dead), Alana XII doesn't have to worry about any more Zombie outbreaks.
That doesn't make the nightmares go away.
I should know. I don't think I've slept through the night since the fifth! Flora's been having trouble too. She'd never seen death up close before and being an empath makes it harder. She had been spending a lot of time with Sarah before we left. I hope that helped her. Sarah told me to keep Jerri-Anne's Katana. I still don't feel comfortable with it, but I do appreciate it.
I wonder if Mother is getting to know Jerri-Anne? I'd like to think that.
It's strange. Before that night, I never knew Mother's Spirit was around. Now that it's gone, I miss her. It's like she died again. Herc says that I never fully mourned her death the first time around. That's why her Spirit was hanging around me. I couldn't let go. I guess I've been blaming myself for her death for the past eight years. I was only ten when she died. I couldn't have saved her back then. I know that now. But, I did get a second chance. I stopped Aurok from "killing" her a second time.
I get the chills thinking of Mother going through that.
Somehow, when Mother told me to cast that Lightning spell, she imparted all her memories and skills into my head. It's scary. I've gone from being unable to control this crazy power to her level in seconds. I guess she saw a Spirit "die" once and it haunted her until she died. Now, it's haunting me.
Like Herc says, don't I have enough material for light years therapy already?
Amazingly, I haven't lost my desire for horror movies. While I was recovering from having my shoulder stitched back up, I watched "Sleepy Hollow" for the billionth time, probably. You'd think that after cutting off Aurok's head, I wouldn't be able to watch it. I guess I have more respect for the Horseman than I ever did. I don't think I want to do any more deceptions myself ever again!
Besides, it's a funny movie. Not that the Horseman's funny. In case your Spirit's hanging around: I don't find you funny. You're very scary! Now, Ichabod is funny. Kinda reminds me of Oon. Must be the fainting.
Gods, I'm rambling again. Maybe I should get some sleep. I can hear Herc coming down the hallway. Oon must have tattled that I was awake again. I'll get Oon back. I have pictures (recent ones) of him sucking his thumb while he sleeps. Oon denies it, but I have proof...*
"Kid," Herc took the journal off Jayce. "You need your sleep." He placed the journal on a shelf that hung over Jayce's bed, next to a patch work bunny, a memento from Jayce's childhood. "Here," Herc handed Jayce a mug of steaming liquid.
"Something to help you sleep," Herc answered. "It's an old Stormsailor family recipe. It's called warm milk and honey."
Jayce sipped it. "It tastes good."
"Do you want to talk, Jayce?" Herc asked as he sat on the edge of Jayce's bed.
"About what's been upsetting you. I think I know what it is. But, you know, Kid, if you need some one to talk to, I'm here."
Jayce smiled sadly into his milk. "Maybe later."
"OK," Herc stood up. "Try to get some sleep." Herc ruffled Jayce's striped head.
Jayce lay back down on his bed and watched as the lights dimmed and star shadows danced on the wall.
The End, For Now!
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