By : Socks the Catt
© 2002 Socks Furrotica Press, all right reserved
Sounds. Lights, Chaos. All around, uncontrollable images that made no sense. Terradene watched from outside the sphere at Bob's dreams. He shook his head slowly, in a part disbelief and a part humoring himself. Terradene decided to intrude.
Bob's dream slowly faded to black. At first he was confused as he felt his feet leave the ground, but as he felt the transformation from his human form to the feline form of Socks he smiled to himself. As his tail reached it's full length, and his fur covered his now naked body, he felt a pair of strong wings envelop him. Then a pair of large paw-like claws reached around his body as it hung weightless in space.
"Are your dreams always this erratic?" the dragon asked.
"Well, you didn't let me get to the part where I can tap dance, but only in golf shoes." Socks craned his head back and licked the underside of the dragon's muzzle, which was wrinkled in confusion. "Hi Terra." he said innocently.
"Socks, my young warrior… You're a dream weaver. Why are you letting your dreams run this wild?" Terra asked.
"Because I like the chaos?" Socks answered as Terra hugged the cat gently. "If I make every dream the same life would get boring. Besides, I get great ideas from wild dreams like that." Socks snuggled against Terra, and could feel the dragon's bulging excitement. "Is this a pleasure trip?"
"No." Terradene said. "I was asked to come here by a friend of mine named Sharptooth. He lives in your area, and he would like to ask your help."
Socks nodded. "How close?"
"Do you know where this… Ho.. Chunk? Does that name ring any bells?" Terradene asked.
Socks smiled "Yeah, the casino down in the 'dells. Been there a lot. Why?"
"That's where he is." Terra said, rubbing his muzzle against the back of Sock's neck. "He needs a small recon group to investigate something. There's going to be an alignment of the planets, and we think that members of the Darkness will be trying to summon something in a dream realm."
Socks closed his eyes and nodded. "Hiro?"
"I talked to him already, he's willing to attempt this." Terradene said.
"Then I'm in!" Socks said with purpose. "So you talked to Hiro already?" Terradene nodded. "I'm almost hurt!" Socks faked melodrama as he pretended to faint in Terradene's arms.
Terradene simply smiled, and brought a paw down to Sock's groin while positioning his bulging tip under Sock's tail hole. "Only because I wanted to spend more time with you." Socks purred, and rolled his tail around the dragon as he felt the first wonderful slow thrust into him.
Tony woke up at his normal time, and could sense Socks was in the throes of pleasure. Tony smiled as he pulled on a shirt over the "Clan Terra" disk symbol etched on his shoulder. Fox's marks were also upon him, as Panther's were on his friend Bob. Tony thought of interrupting, but didn't want to bother Socks in his afterglow. "I know someone will be washing sheets today…" he muttered to himself.
Tony was eating a bowl of cereal as Socks came stumbling out of his room. Tony looked up to his friend. "You're still furry." he said casually.
Socks looked down to his fur. "Right now I don't care." he said dreamily. "I know that really didn't happen but, wow, that was intense." Tony laughed a little bit as Socks wandered to the bathroom, then to the kitchen. "Terra talked to you too?" Socks asked to the air.
"Yeah." Tony said. "Saturday night we go if you want to."
Socks came back into the living room with a glass of milk. "Yeah, I'm good." He lapped at the glass in his paws as Tony looked up to him with a sideways glance. "What? I like milk!"
"I didn't say anything!" Tony said. It was Wednesday morning, there was a lot yet to plan.
Terradene contacted Socks that night through his circle. They were to check into the hotel at the casino Friday night, and Sharptooth would send someone to meet them then. "Pack like you normally would for a weekend getaway, nothing unusual." Terradene said. "We don't want to get anyone's attention."
Bob and Tony both went to classes as normal, and had a weekender pack ready for Friday night. Terradene arranged for their traveling, and made sure everything was set up. After classes, Bob and Tony both threw their backpacks in the car and jumped into the front seat.
"Ready?" Tony asked.
"Yeah." Bob said, and after a moment's thought, added "You know, I'm with Delenn. We always ask 'are you ready' just before we do something really stupid. Ever notice that?"
"It's better than just flooring it when you're not ready, right?" Bob nodded, and Tony started the car. "See? It serves a purpose."
The two drove from their home out to the Wisconsin Dells, a few hour trip. The whole way they played CD's, talked about nothing in particular, and took some time to fill the tank with gas. They arrived at the hotel in record time. Surrounded by sounds and lights, they walked to the front desk to check in. They were asked for ID's, and the woman behind the desk returned it to them, along with a pair of keys.
"You have a welcome pack waiting for you in the room." she said to them. "As members in the points club I can offer you a room upgrade if you want."
Bob and Tony looked at each other. "That's ok." Tony said. "We're good. When does the pool close?"
"11 PM. Enjoy your stay!"
They both walked to the elevator and went up to the third floor. They popped the key, and went into the dark room. "We could have gotten a bigger room!" Bob said.
"Business before pleasure." Tony replied. "Ok, so where's this package?"
"I got it." Bob opened up the envelope and read it aloud as Tony closed the door and looked around the room. "Welcome to the nation. in the box you'll find some clothing that we think will fit you. Please don't wear anything bright or obvious. I will be sending someone up to come get you around 8 PM. I look forward to seeing you. Sharptooth."
Bob looked up to Tony. "Bright or obvious? Does my reputation precede me?"
"Not sure, has Terra seen you outside of the con and your room?" Bob shook his head. "You gotta admit Socks' clothing is pretty bright."
"Well yeah, but that's a character thing. Anything else kinda sinks into the black of the suit." Bob said, opening the box. He poured the contents on the bed, two pairs of jeans, sneakers, plain shirts, and a button down shirt to be worn over it. "Well, it's not as bad as I expected."
"What, you expected native garb and a headdress?" Tony laughed.
"No, actually janitorial staff." Tony looked at Bob. "Look, how many native Americans do you see here that aren't gambling?"
"Good point." Tony said. "That's one for you, but I'm still up on you by four."
"No way." They joked back and forth for an hour until there was a knock at the door. Bob answered it. He opened the door to find a younger man with darker skin standing there. "Can I help you?"
The man raised his sleeve, and showed Bob a symbol on his shoulder. It wasn't the same as the one Bob and Tony had, but the style of how it appeared there was similar. "My name is Blackdeer. I've been asked to bring you to a meeting."
Bob nodded, and showed the symbol on his own shoulder. "My name is Bob, and this is Tony. I think we're ready to go." Tony grabbed the key to the room, and they left their backpacks behind to follow Blackdeer.
The three left the hotel and casino, and got into a hatchback in the lot. "You guys like your room?" Blackdeer asked.
"It's not bad." Tony said. "Hey, they said we're points members or something, what's up with the room upgrade?"
"Oh that!" Blackdeer said with a laugh. "I think Sharptooth wanted to test you both to see how vain you were. We have a lot of protected rooms in the hotel for guests like us. Your room upgrade would have been one of the other protected ones."
"And that would have been…" Bob was leading.
"Oh, the honeymoon suite." Bob and Tony broke out laughing with Blackdeer. "Hey, what better way to get off to a good start in a marriage than in a room protected from the Darkness?"
"Good point." Bob said. He opened his mouth, but Tony tuned around form the front seat and quieted him. Bob did mouth to Tony "one point!"
They drove away from the hotel and to a quieter area on the reservation. Blackdeer explained to them that, as white folks, they wouldn't be able to drive where they needed to go and they wouldn’t be able to explain to other members of the tribe why they were there. "And besides, your car is safe there. If this all goes well, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the hotel."
Blackdeer turned off the lights and drove the last turn in the dark. He pulled up to a building that was set apart from all the others. "Ok, we're here." he said getting out. "Sharptooth is waiting for you both." The trio walked into the home, and Blackdeer took off his shoes.
"Is this an elder respect thing?" Tony asked quietly.
"No." Blackdeer said. "He just put in new carpeting and doesn't want to get it too dirty." Bob held back another snicker as he took his shoes off with Tony. They walked into the living room, and eventually into a dimply lit room with a few candles burning.
"I brought them here, Sharptooth."
"Very good Blackdeer." a voice said. It sounded old, almost ancient. "I will call you once we are all ready." Blackdeer nodded, and walked out of the room. "You will have to forgive me not coming to see you myself at first. I'm old." A chair turned around and sitting in it was a gray wolf. Not a werewolf, more wolf than man, but he still had human qualities. "It's hard for me to switch back and forth like Terradene."
Bob and Tony looked astonished. Finally Ton cleared his mind. "Yes sir. Umm, I'm To…"
"Please, show me your true selves." Sharptooth asked. Both humans shifted forms, one a fox and the other a cat. Their clothing shifted around them, having been altered. "That's better. Now, you were saying?"
The fox shook his head roughly. "Yeah. I'm Hiro, this is my friend Socks." Socks nodded, as he was reaching into his pocket for his collar to put it on. "We're honored to make your acquaintance."
"You haven't made it yet. Come here young ones, let me look at you both." They approached the wolf slowly. The wolf put his paw out to touch them, and when he could he traced around their shoulder. "Have either of you been out on something like this?" Both shook their heads. "Terradene warned me of that."
The wolf stretched, his joints popping and creaking. He settled back into his chair and looked over the two. He spoke deliberately, like each word took effort. "I wanted you two for this anyway. You are a cat, and you are the dog who would be cat. And both of you know a little about being subtle. Do you know anything of my clan?"
"No, well, what I remember." Socks said. "I know you're all wolves."
"Yes." Sharptooth said. "But do you know what a wolf thinks is subtle?" He looked at the two of them. "Hmm?" Hiro shook his head. "To my pack, subtle is sending only twelve to destroy a place. It's the young ones who need to prove themselves that do it."
Socks looked to Hiro, and both seemed confused. "So that's why us?" Hiro asked.
"That's right." Sharptooth said with some force. "I can't do these things anymore. But what needs to be done needs to be done. I want you two to talk to Blackdeer, and get from him what you need to know." Socks and Hiro nodded. "And one more thing. While you're in my home, keep that appearance. I hate looking at hairless apes."
Socks and Hiro nodded. "When do we go then?"
Socks and Hiro walked out of the room, and were met by a black wolf morph sitting on the floor. Before they could say anything, he motioned for them to follow him. They did, and once they got into a kitchen he spoke. "I didn't know how much you like to be in that form or not."
"I like it." Socks said. Hiro nodded in agreement. "It kinda grows on you, ya know?"
"So what do you think of Sharptooth?"
Hiro cleared his throat. "Nice guy, I'd like to really talk to him sometime. How old is he?"
"Depends who you ask." Blackdeer said, his tail curling up behind him. "Anywhere from 100 to 600 years old. He says he can remember the 'white man' coming into his area, but he also says he took down a saber tooth once with his bare teeth."
"He's not… I mean he hasn't lost it, right?" Socks asked
"Depends who you ask. I think it's an act."
"Ok, so what are we doing?" Hiro said quickly. "We'll talk shop later."
Blackdeer nodded. "Down in the basement we have what we call a medicine lodge. You might call it a laboratory, or a spell library, or whatever else it's called all around the world. Tonight is the alignment. So tonight we're going to travel to the abandoned dream realm. What we need you two to do is one of a few things.
"One, you can destroy the dream realm. We would try this ourselves, but we would never make it past the first layer of sentries. And if we failed we'd probably lose the chance to get back in there and try it again.
"Two, find out what they are doing, an stop it. Or at least find out what they are doing so we can match a force to meet it on our terms.
"Three, and this is the very least you can do, look over the main building of the area, which is a castle. If you can map it, do so. But it all has to be by hand."
"Wait." Socks said. "A building?"
"The dream realm we're taking you to is at least fifty years old. It's gained a sort of life of it's own. The realm is actually very small, it mainly has a castle on it. We found a place that we can gate into and out of unseen, but we're not suited to do a stealth mission. Once it was formed in someone's nightmares the darkness moved in and kept it going."
Socks closed his eyes, like he was thinking hard. He suddenly opened them wide. "So the original dreamer is dead or incapacitated?"
Hiro looked at Socks. "What?"
"Ok, it's the whole fake memory thing. If you have a dream like a nightmare or a recurring fantasy dream, if… how do I put this in words… spirits. Yeah, that will work. If spirits find that dream, and occupy it, they can take it over and keep it going if you die or go insane or go into a coma. If you don't get closure on a strong dream, it stays open for others to enter it."
Blackdeer performed a sarcastic 'golf clap'. "You're not a manipulator of dreams, are you fox?"
"Umm, no." Hiro said. "I speak magic and languages. Terra said it tied into my fox spirit and my major."
"Computer sciences, programming." Hiro answered.
Blackdeer rolled his eyes. "I always knew programmers were wizards. I'm a shaman myself. If this all works out, I'll train you if Sharptooth lets me."
Hiro nodded. "Ok, so how do we destroy it?"
"I'm not sure. We'd have to do something powerful or something big." Socks said. "Let's get there and see what we got, ok?" Hiro raised his eyebrows and nodded.
Blackdeer went into the refrigerator and pulled out three beers. "It's a tradition to drink before a mission like this. Terra told us you were a tea totaler Socks, but I want you to try this first. It’s not a normal beer."
Socks took the bottle, and looked at it intently. Clear glass bottle, but no markings. "Ok, what's in it?"
"It will help us cross the plane." Blackdeer said. "It’s not our tradition to toast with these, but I think you both will approve if we toast to the mission?"
Socks pulled off the cap and took a sniff. He figured that it wouldn't kill him. "Ok, but one sip."
Blackdeer nodded with Hiro. They all touched bottles. "May we all come home safely." And they all took a drink. Socks came up coughing and gasping for air as Hiro looked at the bottle.
"That's some strong stuff there." he said, looking at it appreciatively. Socks kept it down, but had to be helped back up to his feet from coughing.
Blackdeer led Hiro and Socks down into the basement of the house. It was like Socks remembered Terra's hotel room being like. Fetishes, talismans, animal skins, and all sorts of other things were hanging from the walls. Blackdeer stripped off his clothing, and casually changed into a more traditional outfit of leathers and beads. "The other two are warriors from our pack. The power of the dream realm is very strong, so we can't bring modern weapons. Will either of you need something?"
"You can bring guns into a dream plane?" Socks asked.
"Not this time. It's got too much power, and we wouldn't have anything in the style."
"What IS the 'style'?" Hiro asked.
"The dream realm exerts power on the people in it." Socks explained. "It has it's own rules, but once defined they're strict to the dreamer. If he wants a flying car, it's real, and like that."
"Well that's all fine and dandy." Hiro said. "But what is real in the place we're going?"
"It's an old realm." Blackdeer said. "We think it was formed sometime between 1938 and 1943. It's Nazi Germany."
"What?" Socks cried out. "World War TWO?"
"Hey, think of it as studying for history." Hiro said sarcastically.
"It won't be, it's more stylized, it may not even be close to the real reality." Socks looked at the wall. "I think I'll be ok with stuff. I hope I can do my end ok."
"We'll be ok." Hiro said. "The less we have the less we get noticed."
"Suit yourself." Blackdeer said. As he was speaking the basement door opened and closed, and two more wolves came down.
"It smells like a cat house in here!" one bellowed. "Oh, there it is!" The wolf was brown, and wearing only his leathers. He also had a large Ka-Bar military knife on his hip.
Blackdeer stepped in before anything else could be said. "Zip it CS. Guys, this is "Cut Slash", or just CS for short. The other is "Rain". They are both warriors in our pack." Hiro offered his paw, as did Socks. CS took Hiro's, but not Socks.
"I don't like cats." CS snarled.
"Umm, whatever dude." Socks said.
Rain put her bow down to shake with Hiro and Socks. Socks kissed her white paw gallantly. Hiro shook his head as he looked over the female white wolf. She was wearing leathers as well, meant for maneuvering more than fighting up close. She also had a quiver of arrows on her back. She leaned into Socks ear and whispered "Don't mind him. He's trying to impress me." Socks closed his eyes and bit his lip to keep from laughing.
"Are we set?" Blackdeer asked.
"Yes, we drank upstairs." CS said. "Tell the old man his brew master make it weak again." Hiro looked at CS, and shrugged.
Blackdeer began his incantation. He burned some components in a clay jar, and placed it on a small stand. Blackdeer kept his incantations going as red smoke began to rise out of the jar. Within minutes the wall glowed to life, and a red swirling portal appeared in the wall. Blackdeer made a few more incantations, and the portal stayed open. He shook his head a little, and took in a deep breath. "Ok, we're in. Let's go."
The five of them stepped into the portal. Hiro and Socks expected more of a trip, but in one stride they moved from the basement lodge to another world. They were standing in a cave entrance, about five feet from the mouth. The five of them walked to the cave entrance to see a blood red sky with black clouds swirling above.
Socks looked up to them. "Woah." They could clearly see a tall castle with one central tower. The brickwork looked very European, and had moss growing on it. They could also see the black and grey vehicles all around the castle compound, each one with it's own swastika symbol. There was a lot of activity around the castle, but none of the bridges were drawn up.
There were also bridges leading to and from the central tower to the outer walls. Around the walls was a moat of some length. And over the castle, the clouds gave way to the blackness of space. A clear channel from the heavens to this one point in space. It was beginning to rain, softly, giving an air of doom over the entire plane.
"How much larger is this plane?" Hiro asked.
"Not very." Blackdeer said. "We've explored a little of it, and we're on the boundary of it here. We know that they enter this plane in the same way that we did, but we think their portal is in the tower there, or in the walls of the castle. We will guard this opening. From what we estimate you might only have a few hours to investigate. If we see something bad happen, we'll hold off as long as we can but we will leave without you. Backsplash into the medicine lodge would be bad."
Socks and Hiro nodded. Socks looked to Hiro. "Ready?"
Hiro opened his mouth, stopped himself, and looked at Socks with a sly look. "You're a smartass."
"I know. Let's roll."
Socks and Hiro descended from the cave mouth to the castle area. They could see that they would be able to walk to within a short distance of it unseen, but the closer they got, the harder it would get. When they were within a few hundred yards of the activity, they stopped to get their bearings.
"How do you expect us to get in there?" Hiro asked. "We're not dressed for the part."
"Yes we are." Socks said, raising his paw to Hiro's chest. A few ripples of energy washed from his paw, and Hiro's clothing transformed into a German SS uniform. Socks took in a deep breath, and his own clothing also shimmered, and took a similar form.
"Nice trick!" Hiro said, then suddenly he reached to grab Socks before he fell. "You ok?"
"Yeah, I'm good." Socks said. "I haven't don’t that for real ever before. This place is powerful Hiro. It's freakin' evil too. We need to do this and leave."
"I agree. But how do we get in?" Hiro asked.
"Steal a bike?"
"Making the uniforms nearly knocked you out, how do you expect to conjure a bike?"
"Umm, we can probably just take that one." Socks pointed to a two seater motorcycle with Nazi symbols on it.
Hiro laughed. "And why is it left there?"
"Don't ask questions, let's just get it and go." The two of them scrambled into the bike, fired it up, and took off down the road. Just as they left, a creature stumbled out of the wood line zipping up his pants, looking very confused as to where his motorcycle went.
Hiro drove up to the main wall area of the castle. The activity died down a lot, and only the guards were left outside. Socks and Hiro looked around, as it started to rain a little. "Oh great." Socks said. "Where did they all go?"
"They're probably inside." Hiro said. "Odds are they'll all want to be inside, or at least shielded when they conjure whatever it is they're doing. There's a lot of excess from those."
"So we should get inside?"
"How do we get in?"
Hiro looked around. He looked at a guard by a gate and gave an evil grin. "Follow my lead." The two of them crossed the bridge over the moat to walk up to the guard station. They both looked into the water, expecting to see an alligator or a shark, but saw nothing. They approached the guard, and sized him up expecting the worst. It looked to be a small humanoid, bulging eyes, large forehead, wearing a Nazi army uniform. He held a rifle that almost looked comically oversized.
"HALT! Who GOES there?" it sneered out.
"Oh crimeny" Socks mumbled to himself. "He even sounds like Peter Lorrie."
Hiro ignored it. "I am here to oversee the proceedings."
"Who are YOU?" the sentry asked.
"Who am I?" Hiro looked at Socks, laying the acting on thick. "I am Commander Nobody! This is my brother Commander Somebody."
"You don't LOOK like brothers." the sentry said.
"He's adopted." Hiro said.
"WHAT?" Socks said quickly, shocked.
"Shush." Hiro looked back to the sentry. "I want you to get on your radio and tell then that Nobody is coming in!"
The sentry looked at the fox and cat, both in SS uniforms, and figured that they were important enough. He leaned into his booth and picked up the phone radio. "Commander? Nobody is coming in through the West gate."
A moment later the radio crackled to life. "Very good. Keep up the good work. Command out."
Hiro threw his arms up in disgust. "What?!? HOW can they do this to me! I will NOT be letting them get away with treating me like this!" Hiro grabbed the sentry by the lapels and looked him square in the eye. "You tell them that Nobody will be reprimanding all of them for their behavior!" Hiro then stormed through the gate himself, knocking over a small stack of barrels by the front door and walked in a doorway into the main defensive wall area..
As the sentry was standing there, bewildered, the radio crackled to life. "West Gate, is somebody at your gate?"
The sentry gathered himself, and looked around. The black cat was nowhere to be seen. "No. But Nobody just went through the gate."
After a moment of silence, the radio crackled to life. "If you make any more false alarm calls like that again I'll see to it you're fed to one of the Wizard's pets! Don't radio back unless you have something REAL to report! OUT!"
The sentry looked at the radio receiver with a confused look, picked up his rifle, and got back into his booth. From the cave, CS lowered his binoculars. "I'll be damned. They're in."
"You almost sound disappointed." Rain said quietly. "Were you hoping for a blood bath?"
"It's a stupid risk to leave that guard alive." CS snarled out. "These two don't understand anything about tactics."
"And you do?" Rain asked.
"Hey. Focus." Blackdeer snapped. "Plenty of time to discuss this later. Keep your eyes open for bad guys."
Hiro walked up a staircase. "Socks?" He whispered. "Socks? You here?"
Socks dropped down from the brickwork he was holding onto and brushed his hands off. "Homer's Odyssey?"
"Very good! You're ready for the lit test Monday."
"Just be thankful that all peons aren't required to read classical literature!" Socks said. "What for the next guard? Are we going to quote Hemmingway's old man and the sea? Or will Dandelion Wine suffice?"
"It got us in the front door, didn't it?" Hiro said. Socks lowered his finger, as his only good argument ran out of steam. "Another point for me." Socks snarled in a mocking manner. "Come on, we should get up to the walls so we can cross to the center."
They both scurried up the staircase, dodging guards and others. Finally they made it to the top of the wall. Once there, they looked up to the tower, and saw the walkways from the center of the walls leading up to the tower. The rain began to pick up, with larger and heavier drops.
Hiro looked up through the rain. "I think we can make it to the top of the central tower, and stop the ceremony. Come on, I can see an easy way there."
"Wait." Socks said. "Look, that walkway is a kill zone. We'll never be able to cross it without being seen. And that just feels all wrong."
"Feels all wrong?" Hiro said.
"Yeah, just don't think they'd do it that obvious. Bad ju-ju stuff." Socks said. The two of them surveyed the area quickly.
"So let's think like a thief Hiro." Hiro said to himself quietly. "Would you put the priceless gem in the middle of a necklace, or put a fake there and put the real thing somewhere… else?" He pointed to another tower between the north and west wall.
"Well yeah, but where would…" Socks looked up to the sky, and looked at the swirling clouds. The hole in the sky was a funnel, leading to that one tower. From where they got into the realm they couldn't see it. "I could kiss you."
"Don't and we'll call it even." Hiro said, wiping the rain away from his eyes.
"Then it's Socks 3, Hiro 3, right?" Socks snickered. The two of them walked along the back of the wall and made it through to the corner tower. Silently, Socks tried the door. It opened with only a light creak. He shrugged, and held the door with a flourish for Hiro to go in. There were stairs going up, and down.
"Pick one." Socks said.
Hiro looked down, then up. "Up. I'll bet you that they need the power of the alignment, and the closer they can get to it the better." Socks nodded, and the two of them took the first stair. The click of their boot heels stopped them in their tracks. "Can we ditch the boots?"
"I though you'd never ask." Socks said, and used a paw to touch Hiro's uniform. It rippled again, and the fabric altered into that of a ninja style uniform, with the proper soft boots. Sock's own clothing also altered in the same way.
"This isn't really what I had in mind." Hiro said flatly.
"But you see what I mean about black sinking into my fur?" Hiro rolled his eyes and started up the stairs quietly. Socks followed behind. The two of them made it all the way up to the top room, and found there was no door blocking their path.
Hiro and Socks both tried to con the other into looking in first. Silently, Hiro held up a fist, Socks nodded and did the same. Hiro had Rock, Socks had scissors. Socks wrinkled his muzzle, and closed his eyes. With some caution, Socks peered around the corner, and saw the room was empty. He motioned to Hiro, and they both explored the room.
It was a wizards room, that was certain. Books, tapestries, vials of goop, all cluttered around in the not-so random pattern that made sense to the one who worked here. Hiro found the spell book, opened to a specific page. "Watch your step bro." he said. "That's a power circle." Socks stopped walking, and looked at the floor.
"That's what they look like?" he marveled, looking down at the floor.
"Yeah. We gotta hurry." Hiro read the book quietly as Socks explored, and found another book. He started reading that one too, mostly in a language he didn't understand. Hiro looked over to his friend. "Umm, according to this book we have until local time 11:28 to do something. Because that's when the planets align."
"Hiro? Do that voodoo you do over here. What's this book say?"
Hiro read the passage, and slowly dropped his jaw and shoulders. "Umm, it says that whatevers going to be in that circle in…" he looked at the clock "nine minutes is a major evil McNasty."
"Scale of 1 to 10?"
"about a 7 or 8."
"Wait, where's the dude doing the yabbledy gook?"
"His other spell book says he won't teleport in until after the demon thing is trapped in the circle. Something about it being unsafe to be in the room when it comes. It's like radiation but more like being exposed to pure evil and being contaminated by it. That's why there's no guard up here neither. They're all hiding in the bunkers."
"Oh great." Socks said. "So we gotta get the hell out of here."
"Intresting way to put that." Hiro said. "But you're right. We gotta do something to the spell somehow."
"Can't we stop it?"
"No, it's all on self-activation."
Socks looked at the book in front of him, and thought a moment. He looked around, and grabbed a small dagger from a desk top. He knelt down next to the circle. Hiro looked at him and finally asked "What do you think you're doing?"
"Old D&D trick." Socks said. "And you say that those role-playing games are a waste of time!" Socks made a hairline cut in the carpeting that the circle was printed upon. Hiro tried to jump on him to stop it, but nothing happened when he did it. "No spell, no problem. You said it's all on timers, right?"
Hiro held his chest. "Don't scare me like that! Dammit! Ok, damage done, the demon won't be bound into the circle when the… oh fuck…. We go. Now."
Socks watched as his friend looked out the open door. "What?"
"Fast, we have to get down, and back to the cave. NOW!"
"Shouldn't we grab the books?"
"No, they're evil, and besides it's nothing I don't know already. We gotta get down and fast."
Socks looked out the window at the moat. "Feel like doing that midnight swim?"
The guard on the west bridge was looking out through the rain. It was starting to get heavier, and the lightning was rolling in too. He thought he heard two splashes to his right, but brushed it off as the rain. Besides, he was under orders to only report important things.
Socks and Hiro climbed out of the moat. Socks shook himself dry, but still looked like a drowned cat. Hiro looked at Socks, and stifled laughter. Socks held both hands open, gesturing like he was asking for clarification. "You've lost weight!"
"Shut… up…." Socks said, feeling uncomfortable being drenched. "We gotta roll."
"Ok, fastest way back there?" Hiro said, pointing up the road.
"Right. Let's go." Hiro hopped into the passenger side, and Socks smashed the headlight with a crack of lighting overhead. "Run silent!" He said to Hiro as he fired up the engine. They roared up the road, passing another sentry on foot wearing motorcycle goggles. Hiro held on for dear life as Socks drove around the bad potholes in the road back to where they came down the mountain. They ditched the bike and clamored up the side of the cliff on all fours as the downpour reached flooding levels. The sky turned a sickly red as the clock ticked one more time.
11:28. The planets aligned over the north west tower. A shaft of black light pierced through the roof, and into the circle of power. A glow came from the circle, and something was thrust up from the floor with a primal scream of pain and agony. It writhed on the circle, covered in slime and mucus that ate away at the carpeting it was laying upon. The creature screamed in defiance, having been ripped from it's previous realm and thrust into this one.
Minutes later, a spell caster of the castle appeared in the room. He looked over his newest prize, who was now beginning to recover his strength. "Now, my powerful friend, I'm going to bind you to me, and take your powers for my own. What do you have to say about that?"
The creature looked up, took in a deep breath, pointed at the hole in the carpeted circle and in a raspy voice said "You missed a spot."
Socks got to the cave entrance before Hiro. Water and mud poured down from the cave entrance as he scrambled over the edge. "Ok, we gotta go. Now." he said, scrambling into the cave.
"Why? Big bad guards chasing you kitty cat?" CS mocked.
"No." Hiro said, coming over the lip himself. "THAT is!" He pointed to the tower behind him.
The North-West tower exploded in a fireball of white heat. Erupting from the top was a humanoid form with glowing white eyes and spikes down it's back. It reeked of power, and pure evil. The sound of agony and anguish erupted from the castle grounds as all the soldiers of Darkness that there were being consumed in the rage of the summoned demon. "GO GO GO!" Blackdeer screamed as Socks ran through the open portal. Rain and Hiro also went through. Blackdeer stepped in, but Cut Slash stared at the rolling implosion as it started to overtake the castle, then the moat, then the grounds, then up the side of the hill.
Socks finally reached through the portal and yanked the wolf through violently by the scruff of his neck. Blackdeer ran to the other side of the room and kicked a clay pot he had used in the earlier ceremony. It shattered into dozens of pieces, and the portal instantly disappeared. All five of them were standing in the basement of the medicine lodge catching their breath in the eerie silence of the lodge.
Bob and Tony were back in their hotel room that night. Thy gave a mission debriefing to Sharptooth, who was pleased to hear of the outcome. It was about 3 AM, and Sharptooth said they should relax for the night. Bob was laying on the bed, looking at the ceiling. Tony was watching TV, catching the rerun of ESPN's "Sportcenter."
"That was really fucking dumb, wasn't it?" Bob asked.
"Yeah." Tony said.
"Remind me next time to not do that." Bob said.
Tony turned down the TV. "So why'd you do that?"
"Because I knew that we had to destroy that dream realm. When I altered or uniforms the first time I was overwhelmed with the power of the thing. The second time I changed the reality of the dream, but only for us. So when you told me it was a nasty thing in the circle, I figured it'd do some damage to the dream plane, but you didn't tell me it was that powerful." Bob shook his head.
Tony turned off the TV. "Next time, let's not cut it so close."
"So we're still friends?"
"Yeah. Just next time warn me." Tony thought a moment longer. "What did you mean about that D&D thing?"
"Oh, the last campaign we played in. I have this thief named Jander that used a dagger to put a cut in a summoners circle."
"And it worked like that?" Tony asked.
"No, It was a dummy circle." Bob said. "But the GM said I had a good idea."
Tony fell back into the bed. "Tomorrow, I am so going to kick your ass."
"You gotta catch me first."
The next morning Blackdeer knocked on the door of the hotel room. Bob invited him in, and the guest with him. Tony was mostly dressed by then. "Sharptooth wanted to thank you two for your efforts. The dream realm is destroyed, and all the creatures in it are as well."
"It's what I signed up for." Bob said.
"What he said." Tony said.
The guest cleared his throat. Barely a teenager, but looked in good shape. "Hey, umm, I wanted to say thanks to ya, which of you is the cat?" Bob waived. "Yeah, thanks. Umm, I just kinda locked up on that flame thing. Thanks for hauling my ass out of there."
"We're on the same team. Anytime." Bob offered his hand, and the man took it.
The weekend went by uneventfully from there. A little gambling in the casino, some swimming, some tickets to hang out at an indoor water park, a good get-away. They drove home Sunday afternoon with the radio cranked up again. That night Tony was sleeping when he felt the presence of another in his dreams. "Dammit stop that Socks! You know I hate that!"
"It's not Socks." Hiro spun around to look at the dragon behind him.
"I'm sorry Terradene. Socks plays with my head sometimes."
The dragon nodded. "I'll ask him to stop. Sharptooth told me all about your adventures. Assuming he's not exaggerating, you two did a lot of damage in one night. You are to be commended."
Hiro kinked his tail without much thought. "Yeah, well, save it. Or give it to Socks, he did the killing cut."
Terradene looked confused. "Funny, He said the same about you, that without your bravado and insight you would have never gotten into the castle."
Hiro dropped his tail slightly. "He said that?"
"And a lot more. I already talked to him." Terradene said.
"I'm surprised you had time to see me then." Hiro said sarcastically.
"We don't always fuck." Terradene said. "As much as I like to. But I wanted to thank you myself before I had to move on. Fox would also like to meet with you herself to talk about your mission, but she will wait another night or two."
"Ok, I'll be ready for Fox." Hiro said. Terradene started to fade. "Wait a sec." Terradene came back into existence before his young clan member. "Everyone said that there was a convergence of the planets, and we had to stop this whole thing before the planets aligned and all that." Terradene nodded. "I keep up with astronomy. There's no alignment of the planets this week."
"Not in your solar system, my young magi." And Terradene faded away, leaving Hiro a little more confused than he started off.
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