Survival: Chapter 8 of 9


Whateley: “Survival”

[A Whately Universe FanFic]

By Zapper

***

Chapter Eight

***

Kate raced through the trees, her feet barely touching the ground. From up ahead she could see flashes of light and knew her friends were fighting to free her parents. A sense of urgency filled Kate and she pushed herself to run even faster.

***

Devon sank to his knees as the pain from his severed hand hit him. Even as he did he had the presence of mind to use his good hand to slap the ground. There was a ripple of telekinetic energy that flew out knocking both brothers from their feet. Taking advantage of the momentary opportunity he glanced at the bricked up window and gestured. Cinder blocks, brinks, and dirt exploded out from the wall turning into projectiles that flew out darting over Devon’s head toward Flurry and Ripple.

The spinning cloud of water, that Ripple had pulled up from the bucket turned into a column of spinning water in front of Ripple deflecting the debris to one side. Next to him Flurry created a miniature tornado that protected him from Devon’s attack. In a few seconds the attack was over and the two brothers grinned evilly at Devon. The little man was now holding the stump of his arm to his side focusing on staunching the flow of blood.

Ripple gestured and a bolt of water broke away from the whirlpool over his head becoming a spear of water that jetted toward Devon. Devon lifted his hand in a blocking gesture and the water struck an invisible telekinetic field. Devon sank to a knee. He felt dizzy from the loss of blood and it was getting harder and harder to focus his power.

***

Eawren fought a mostly defensive battle as Allura slashed in with one attack spell after another. She’d overcome the crushing grief and guilt in time to defeat a shadow snake that had tried to catch her in its coils. She’d responded by asking the grass at Allura’s feet to grow and entangle her. The grass had reacted with enthusiasm, growing to nearly five feet in length in less than two seconds and snaking around Allura.

Allura had cut a circle around her with her Kirs and then fire blazed up in response, burning out and away from Allura’s body turning the grass to ash in seconds. This had bought Eawren time and she’d used a spell that created seven duplicates of her. Each illusionary replica blinked in and out of existence in a circle around Allura making it difficult for her to target any of them, while cloaking the real Eawren in an illusion that made her unnoticeable. One of Eawren’s doppelgangers sent a dazzling beam of illusionary magic at Allura.

“How much time does Devon need?” Eawren hissed to herself.

***

The brothers had moved apart to give themselves room to move and to allow an effective crossfire. Jets of water and spears of hardened air struck in a rapid staccato against Devon’s shield. He could tell that it was failing, it would only be another second or two and then one of the strikes would break through.

Ripple moved closer to the kneeling Devon. “You should have come better prepared, if you wanted to play in the big leagues.” With that he gestured with both hands like he was about to push Devon and the jet of water hit with enough force to shatter Devon’s shield. The feedback caused Devon to slump forward an ice pick of pain digging in at his temple.

“If you’re counting on your friends to help you then you’ve miscalculated.” Ripple gloated. “They are chained and warded.” At this he started laughing.

Devon glanced back at the gaping hole that was once the wall of the basement cell. He saw the glow from a pair of silvery eyes.

Devon grinned up at Ripple. “You might be right . . . or not!”

“Ripple, look out!” Flurry screamed.

Ripple turned his head just in time to see a large wolf like creature made entirely of liquid silver make an impossible leap from the dark maw of the basement toward him. He lifted his hand and the water he’d been controlling formed a curtain between him and the beast and then hardened so that it was harder than ice. The water shattered under the impact of the beast. Ripple fell backward stunned as the metallic jaws of the monster close on his throat.

A razor thin whip of air struck the silver wolf but the creature ignored it. White hot pain filled Ripple’s mind as a flood of blood pumped out of his ravaged throat.

The silver wolf looked up at Flurry with intelligent eyes and changed, going from silver wolf to silver human in a heartbeat.

“You enjoy hurting people, do you?” Menace took a step toward Flurry and the ground shook. The metal buckle on Flurry’s pants ripped loose and flew toward Menace as did Flurry’s watch as Menace drew on his power.

***

Eawren danced away from the grasping hands of a spectral crone. All of her decoys were gone and Allura was still hitting her. Eawren was now becoming desperate, Allura should have run out of power long ago. ‘Where the hell is Devon,’ she wondered. Then a dart of dark energy broke through her shield tossing Eawren onto her back and causing her entire body to spasm. For the first time Eawren considered the unfortunate possibility that Allura might actually best her. She pushed herself up onto her elbows as Allura closed in. Allura’s clothes were singed and a large chunk of hair had been burned off, but she showed no other signs of damage.

“I don’t know why you’re involved with this, what is Menace to you? If you surrender and swear to me I’ll spare your life. Join me and I’ll even share the cave’s power with you!”

Eawren blinked, it was a generous offer. Allura had defeated her and in a few minutes would break through Eawren’s last defenses and kill her. By binding Eawren to her, Allura increased her power and status while avoiding killing another who practiced the Art.

“No one will be surrendering today!” The words thundered over the yard.

Both Allura and Eawren looked over in time to see Carl, carrying Maria while Devon limped along next to him, cradling his injured arm. A hasty tourniquet made from a belt had been applied to stop the bleeding.

“Your goons are dead. Now, where is my daughter!?” Carl’s voice thundered over the farm yard with a raw ragged power. Electricity seemed to leap from him in random bolts hitting anything metallic within ten feat of Menace. Before Allura could react Menace sat the semi-conscious Maria on the grass and stepped away. Then he started changing and growing. His silvery skin glowed with power and his height doubled and then tripled.

Eawren pushed herself to her feet. “It seems this fight isn’t over just yet.”

Rather than answer Allura gestured with her wand and three glowing purple rings appeared around Eawren. The rings cut through her remaining spells and immobilized her. Then Allura spun back to Menace.

“I appreciate your tenacity, but you will lead me to the cave, or lose everyone you love.”

Menace leapt forward and ran into an invisible wall. Menace stumbled back and the struck the wall with a double fisted blow that caused it to shimmer into view for a second before it disappeared. Menace raised his hands to strike again and Allura pointed her Kris at Maria.

“Obviously you don’t believe me when I threaten you, perhaps your wife’s death will show you the gravity of my purpose.”

However, before she could bring her arm down a roar from the trees echoed over the yard. Kate burst from the tree line at a full run. At nearly six and a half feet tall Kate’s body blazed with energy. In an eye blink she was looming over Allura. Kate reached out and grabbed Allura’s arm and her energy shield flared up, stopping Kate. Then Kate squeezed and the shield collapsed.

At point blank range Allura put the tip of her wand against Kate’s chest and spoke a Word of Power. The blast of energy lifted Kate tossing her back several feet energy arcing like purple electricity through and around her body. For a second Kate wondered if she was still alive. And then she almost started laughing, electricity . . . really? Instead of being hurt Kate felt supercharged.

*It’s time.*

*Time for what?*

*To be what you were born to be.*

As Dux’Tueor spoke Kate felt the world slip away.

“Noooo . . .” Eawren wailed. “If you’ve killed him, I swear I’ll make you wish you’d never been born!”

Allura glanced over at Eawren, “You shouldn’t let your minions attack their betters, if you value them.” She then dismissed Eawren and looked back over at Menace. He’d taken advantage of the distraction to return to pounding on the shield. At his third blow it failed and he stumbled toward Allura.

“You’ll pay now bitch!” Menace said.

Allura spoke a word and suddenly there were three of her standing in front of Menace while a veiled Allura was transported several feet away. When she opened her mouth to speak the sound came from one of her doubles.

“You are stronger than I thought. Work with me and I’ll see to it you are reunited with your family.”

Menace swung a fist at the double that had spoken and it popped like a soap bubble.

“Menace, don’t listen to her, she’s lying!” Eawren said.

Menace glanced at her, “You must be the friend Devon told me about. Don’t worry I won’t help her.”

“Then I’ll have to get a little more creative.” One of Allura’s doubles said.

***

They circled the cluster of lights from ten thousand feet. It was a fascinating sight to Dux’Primus, as the lights moved, danced, changed color, and moved again. As they watched, sounds drifted into the night sky, music, laughter, and the buzz of conversation.

*What is it?*

Dux’Tueor responded, *A city of the Aes Sidhe, an Elven city.*

They continued to circle, watching, waiting, and then there was a green flash to one side of the city near a cluster of trees and a stream.

*There, come.* Dux’Tueor said, diving toward the source of the flash.

Dux’Primus followed. As he landed next to the larger dragon he scanned the area quickly spotting a two-leg. A female of the species, he recognized the signs.

“Well met, Dux’Tueor,” the woman said with a musical lilt to her voice. “Is this the young one we spoke of?”

*Yes.* the Elder dragon responded and then looked over at Dux’Primus.

*Watch closely and do what I do.*

Dux’Tueor flooded his body with his power and then somehow changed the tenor of the power, adjusting it, shifting it, while contracting the energy. As this happened Dux’Primus saw the elder dragon’s body shift and shrink until he was only a little larger than the female. Then it was over and to Dux’Primus’s eyes Dux’Tueor appeared to be nothing more than a pointy-eared two-leg.

“Can you do, what I just did?”

His mentor’s voice held a note of challenge, Dux’Primus never liked to fail when challenged. He considered the question.

*Yes, I think so.*

“Then show me.”

In a few seconds Dux’Primus stood on two legs looking over at his mentor. “Did I get it right?”

“Let me see,” the woman said walking slowly around his naked form. “Yes . . . mhmmm . . . I think you did. You make a very handsome Sidhe. If I didn’t know that you were of the Eldest Race I’d swear you were a young Aes Sidhe warrior.” She turned to Dux’Tueor, “I’ll teach him what I can.”

“Then I’ll count our bargain fulfilled.” Dux’Tueor said. Then he looked over at the younger drake. “Stay with Mistress Lanethial, learn what she teaches.”

Dux’Primus nodded, “For how long?”

“Until you’re done.” Then the older dragon said as though it were obvious. Then in a burst of power he returned to his natural form and jumped into the night sky. Dux’Primus turned toward the woman.

“I have clothes for you,” she said, gesturing toward a bundle.

“Why?”

“It is the custom of my people to clothe ourselves. They provide some protection and can be used socially to convey a variety of messages.”

“Alright.” Dux’Primus moved over to the pile of garments. With a little help he was soon dressed.

“You may call me Mistress Lanethial, but my full name is, Arawen Lanethial.”

***

Kate could hear Allura talking to her dad but the sound seemed to come from miles away. ‘Was this what it felt like to die,’ Kate wondered. By some instinct Kate reached in side and felt her power. It had never felt so close or so utterly cold. As she touched it she felt it respond in an eager wave and she embraced it. It flooded her body, pushing up and out filling her with a sweet agony of cold fire. Kate’s body spasmed, convulsed, and then rippled under the forces racing through her and then she began to change. She felt her clothes rip, burst, and fall away as her body expanded. Unnoticed, Kate rolled over onto all fours and dug at the ground with her new talons.

Kate shook his head and scales, in an undulating wave, rippled down his back. He looked up at the moon and rearing up onto his hind legs he flapped the wings the burst from his back. Icy POWER filled his veins, as Dux’Primus was born, and he ROARED in jubilation.

When he looked down on the two-legs and he saw that they’d stopped jumping about and were staring at him. This was as it should be, was he not magnificent?! Yet one of the two-legs needed to be chastised. But which one?

There was the two-leg trapped in rings of power. She resembled one of the Sidhe. Dux’Primus felt a memory stir, Mistress Lanethial, why did she allow herself to be held? Dux’Primus reached out with his power and unraveled the energy holding the Elf.

By this time the other two-legs had backed away. There was one, with the size of Frost Giant who looked dangerous. For a second he thought that hunting this powerful two-leg would prove a challenge worth the effort. Then from a corner of Dux’Primus mind he knew that this creature was a friend and more. He was someone that Dux’Primus cared for, ‘what an odd feeling,’ he thought. Then he spotted the two-leg with the purple aura. She gestured at Dux’Primus and a beam of purple energy leapt from the twig in her hand. Dux’ Primus ignored it and took a step toward the offensive two-leg and the bolt hit him on the chest. It hurt for a second and then the pain was gone. This was the two-leg that needed to be chastised!

Somehow he knew that he needed to be careful not to hurt the other two-legs. Dux’Primus circled to one side fixing the woman with the purple aura with his GAZE. The stare of a dragon has a power all of its own, the woman who called herself Allura couldn’t move as the Great Drake circled.

Then at the last second she shook herself, ‘this isn’t possible,’ Allura thought, ‘dragons don’t exist.’ Then the dragon inhaled and Allura held up both hands, arms crossed summoning her most potent shield.

The blast of super cold air was like nothing she’d experienced. Allura’s shield was designed to protect her from heat, cold, magic, and telekinetic force. But under the power of the dragon’s breath it nearly failed. Allura staggered back the frozen grass crunching and breaking under her feet her well of power used up in that one protective spell. This was impossible! She had paid deeply for that power and now it was almost gone!

“I don’t know who you are but this isn’t over.” Allura hissed and then she touched a ring of purple gold on her left hand. Even from where she was Eawren tell it was an evil thing. Then a cloud of purple black mist covered her in an instant. Dux’Primus opened his jaws and this time lightning lanced out slashing through the dissipating cloud and digging a trench of burned earth where Allura had stood.

Silence filled the yard.

Dux’Primus looked down at the two legs around him feeling confused. He wanted to blast, tear, rend, and shred . . . yet something told him that he shouldn’t hurt these two legs. They were shouting up at him but they were speaking gibberish. Dux’Primus crouched down readying a jump that take him in to the vaulted dome of the night.

*Remember what you learned, it is time to change.*

*Dux’Tueor?*

*Who else, young one. You need to change, these two-legs are important to you.*

Dux’Primus disagreed. He wanted to spread his wings and take to the air. He could smell the ocean and the woods around him looked like they might be filled with game. But even as he considered this he felt Dux’Tueor’s disapproval. He looked back down at the two legs and let out a disappointed sigh and summoned his power.

Kate stumbled, the change from dragon to human was disconcerting. He dropped to a knee barely aware that he was naked and let his body shake as he adjusted to the shift.

“Young man, you have my thanks for the help. Do you have a name?”

Kate looked up at his dad. Carl had returned to his normal form now that Allura had vanished. Kate glanced to one side and saw Molly move slowly toward him. With a groan Kate stood up, and had to fight the urge to cover his new organ.

“Daddy, don’t you recognize me? I . . . sortta went through my mutation and . . . well.” Kate trailed off.

“Cat, is that . . . you?” The shock and disbelief in his voice hurt Kate.

“I’m afraid so,” Kate said, softly, looking down and covering himself in embarrassment.

“Here, child, this should help.” Molly pulled the green cloak from around her shoulders and offered it to a very grateful Kate.

Carl looked at Molly and frowned. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduce. I’m Carl Henderson, how do you know my dau . . . child?”

“My name is Eawren Lanethial, Kate here stumbled onto my doorstep, after he escaped those criminals. I brought her to your house and once I realized that you were facing a wizard knew that you’d need my assistance.”

When Molly spoke, Kate felt his heart lurch recognizing the name, Lanethial, from his dragon dream. Kate peered closely at Molly, ‘she even looks like Mistress Arawen Lanethial,’ Kate thought.

Carl extended a huge hand, “Thank you.”

Molly looked at it for a minute as if remembering what she was supposed to do with it, and then shook it awkwardly. The formalities complete, Carl turned to Kate, “Is that really you Cat?”

“It’s really me, Daddy.”

Carl stepped over and gave Kate an uncomfortable hug. “You’ve grown.”

At this Kate started chuckling, the chuckling turned into chortling, and then he was gasping for breath. The relief at finding his parents alive, the after effect of the adrenalin from the fight, and the exhaustion of the last few days combined in the pure release of laughter was unbelievably cathartic. When Kate whipped his yes to clear them he looked at his dad, “You don’t know the half of it.”

Just then there was a moan from Maria. Carl spun around and rushed to his wife’s side, Kate only a step behind. Maria opened her eyes and smiled up at her husband, “Did I hear Kate’s name?”

“Yes, dear, Kate’s safe. But we need to get you to a hospital.”

“I don’t need a hospital, dear, my body’s already healed most of the damage. Now that we’re out of that damn room. I’m just really sleepy, and now that I know Kate’s safe, I think I can rest.” With that Maria closed her eyes and settled back into the grass.

“Is she?” Kate asked in a soft voice.

Carl looked up at him and seeing his concern shook his head. “No, she’s fine. She’s a very tough woman, in addition to being an Exemplar, she has a low level regeneration.

“Well, I don’t have regeneration, and could really use a hospital.” Devon said. Just then lights from the road caused everyone to glance at the SUV Trish was driving.

“It looks like your ride is here.” Molly said. “I’ll be going now, but if it’s alright, I’d like to come visit in a day or two.”

Carl nodded, but Kate spoke up, “I’d like that.”

Molly smiled, “Until then, goodnight.” Then she disappeared into the woods.

Kate hadn’t realized how tired he was until he climbed into the SUV. The trip to the hospital was a blur. Fortunately Devon had the presence of mind to grab his severed hand. Devon had lost a lot of blood, but the doctors told him that he’d been lucky the cut had been so clean. They’d also examined Maria but her wound had closed and even the scar was slowly fading.

Kate mostly slept in the waiting room as the doctors examined Maria and took Devon into surgery. By the time the sun was rising Carl had informed him that it was time to go home. During the drive back to their house Maria kept looking at Kate asking him question after question, as if to re-reconfirm his identity. Kate didn’t mind, he was just grateful that his mom was well enough to ask questions. During the interrogation Carl didn’t say much, just a grunt now and then. At last he pulled into their driveway.

“Why don’t you two sit down at the kitchen table? I’ll make some breakfast and then I think we all need some rest.”

Kate and Maria nodded and moved to the table. From here Kate could watch his father cook, a dozen scrambled eggs, a pound of bacon, and a dozen pieces of toast. The food was making Kate’s mouth water, “I didn’t know I was hungry until I smelled the food.” he commented.

Carl grunted, “That’s how it is after using so much power. Right honey.”

Maria nodded distractedly still looking at Kate. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine.”

“That’s not what I mean.” Maria gestured to Kate, “How are you doing with . . . you know . . . your change.”

“Oh,” Kate said looking down. “I’m mostly ignoring it right now.” Then before either of his parents could say anything. “I mean, right after I changed I had to escape, and then I was just trying to survive. Once I met Molly, I was more concerned with finding you and Dad and letting you know that I was okay. But when we got here we found Devon and Trish waiting, and well, you know the rest. I just really haven’t had time to . . . you know . . . figure this out.”

Maria reached over and patted Kate on the arm. “It’ll be okay dear. We love you.”

Carl started setting plates of food on the table. “You know Maria, the best thing for Cat might be Whateley.”

Maria glanced up at Carl, “but she . . . uh . . . he’s a little old. He’s getting ready to start his junior year.”

Carl shrugged, “We’ve got a few weeks to figure it out. But I’m sure Whateley accepts transfer students.”

Kate looked back and forth between his parents, “What’s Whateley?”



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