Heroes of Lunde, Episode 8

WITCHES THREE, PART 2

“Where are the chitlins?” Quil shouted, pointing his finger accusingly at the witches. “I demand that your release them into our custody.” 

“The what?” Hermi asked, not sure she heard him correctly. 

“Chitlins! Where are the chitlins? What are you, deaf?” Quil shook his fist at them. 

The witches laughed with delight at Quil’s declaration. “You poor, poor little man! I think the word you’re looking for is children.” Ronnie let out a boisterous laugh. 

“I think you should sit this one out,” Jaco said to the wizard. “Everett and I will take care of this.” 

“I cannot stand by and let them laugh at us. It insults our honor as heroes!” Quil replied. Jaco tried to push Quil to the back, but the wizard would not be stopped. “Prepare to meet your doom!” 

Quil attempted to gather his powers to his hands so that he could blast the smiles off the witches’ faces, but he found it difficult to concentrate. Visions of sugar plums danced about in his mind, keeping him from accessing his powers. He tried to shake them out of his head, but the sugar plums were persistent in wanting to show him their dance moves. He had to admit they were quite good. “Get out of my head!” he mumbled. Maybe if he just said the name of the spell he wanted to use, he’d surpass the dancing fruit. He opened his mouth to utter the summoning words, but no sound came out. He cleared his throat and tried again. No sound. This frustrated him greatly. He opened his mouth to say some choice words about this new development, but the words would not leave his throat. 

“Cat got your tongue?” Harri asked cheerfully. Quil gave her a one fingered gesture. This made her heart swell with pride. “Let’s get them, sisters!” 

The sisters produced umbrellas and opened them. When the wind was just right, they all took a leap off the ledge. The air caught in their umbrellas and they slowly drifted down to the ground. When they arrived, the Heroes all took a step back.  

“Don’t be shy, Heroes,” Hermi said. “Come here and I’ll make it all better!” She blew a kiss at Andrada, who gave her a confused look in return. 

“Bite me,” Andrada uttered. 

“Don’t tempt me!” Hermi winked at her. 

The sisters pointed their open umbrellas at the Heroes and on the count of three, lightning bolts shot out of the tips. The Heroes scattered as the bolts hit the ground in front of them. The witches followed them as they moved about. The Heroes were under constant attack, always on the move. 

Andrada knew they had to go on the offense. She grabbed her new dagger and gripped it tightly. She wondered how close to them she could get before getting hit. She was willing to give it a try. She immediately broke formation and rushed toward Hermi. The lightning bolts came fast and furious, but Andrada was able to dodge them all until she was face to face with Hermi. She gleefully giggled as she ripped the umbrella to ribbons.  

“My umbrella!” Hermi cried out in sadness. She glared at Andrada with a tear in her eye. “I got this on sale at Placy’s! You will suffer!” Hermi produced a staff with a green crystal ball on top of it. She spun it above her head before she brought it down on Andrada’s head. The warrior princess buckled. 

Andrada did not plan on going down that easily. She sprang up and made a lunge at Hermi’s rotund stomach. Hermi deftly blocked with the staff. Andrada made another jab with the dagger. It was at this time that she experienced problems with her mobility. Her right arm moved jerkily as she tried to bring the dagger down upon Hermi’s head. She heard something crack as her arm froze in place. What was happening and why was it happening now? 

Hermi saw the opportunity to strike and brought her staff up into Andrada’s chin. The princess stumbled backward. Hermi did a dramatic spin and smacked Andrada right in the side of the face. “I hope you liked the taste of wood!” 

Andrada recovered and smirked. “That’s what he said.” She gripped her dagger tighter. The desire to pierce flesh was overwhelming. She moved as quickly as she could to reach Hermi before she could attack again. Her blade successfully connected with Hermi’s soft belly and cut a nice slice. “Ha!” she exclaimed.  

She withdrew her dagger expecting to see blood dripping from it, but instead she found a thick, green goo dripping from it. She scrunched her face in disgust as she tried to wipe the goop off her hand. A moment later, she realized she had another problem. She wanted to drop the dagger, but her hand wouldn’t obey her. In fact, she couldn’t even feel her hand. She looked at it and saw that beneath the goo was a layer of stone, and it was spreading up her wrist.  

Hermi touched her wound and it healed up. She saw the look of horror on Andrada’s face and giggled. “The girls I dated always said that I had a heart of stone. Soon, you will, too. We’ll be the perfect couple.” 

“What the hell?” Andrada backed away. “Look, I’m flattered, but as you asserted earlier, I enjoy the taste of wood!” 

“You won’t be tasting much of anything in a minute.” Hermi stood there and watched her spell do her dirty work.  

The stone quickly crept up Andrada’s arm and onto her shoulders. Her legs were doing the same, expanding quicker and quicker. She couldn’t move as she lost feeling in her extremities. “Help!” She cried out. And then a second later, she was completely transformed to stone.  

“Andy!” Jaco shouted, but it was too late.  

Harri and Ronnie squealed with delight. “Great job, Hermi!” they cheered. 

Reese saw that her friends were in trouble and wanted to do something about it, but she felt her energy leaving her. She reached out her hand to summon her earthen hammer and noticed the many wrinkles on it. She examined both of her hands and saw that they looked to be thousands of years old. The skin sagged, and the bones were more evident now. She touched her face and discover that the wrinkles were there also. She gasped and let out a soft cry. How could she have aged so quickly?  

“Oh honey, time has not been kind to you,” Ronnie said. She let out a laugh as she twirled her blonde hair. “You thought just because you’re an elf that your looks would last forever? I’m sorry, but that’s just not true!” 

“You did this…” Reese said. “You will pay for this!”  

She mustered as much energy as she could to summon her hammer. It materialized in her left hand. Instead of its usual lightness, it suddenly felt hard and heavy. She had a difficult time wielding it. She couldn’t even lift it. She moaned as her arm succumbed to the weight. She fell to the ground and her hammer disappeared. She looked up at Ronnie as she approached and stood over her. 

“You poor, unfortunate soul. Tsk tsk tsk.” Ronnie held her umbrella at Reese’s face. “You’ve lived a nice long life. You should be proud of yourself for making it this long. There’s no shame in dying old. You’ve accomplished a lot…” 

“Are you going to kill me before I die of natural causes?” Reese asked, irritated. 

“I was trying to say something nice, but I guess if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere…” Ronnie raised her umbrella and the sparks danced at the tip, illuminating Reese’s eyes. “Goodbye, honey.”  

Just as she was about to fire, she received a sharp pain in her shoulder. She spun around to see that the dwarf had shot her with an arrow. She growled at him as she ripped the arrow out. “I will get to you later, little one!” She was about to return her attention to Reese, but found that her feet had been kicked out from underneath her. She fell to the ground hard. She attempted to sit up, but old, and dry vines erupted from the ground and wrapped themselves around her body. “Fuck!” she screamed. The vines tightened with every movement she made. 

Everett rushed over to help Reese up off the ground. There was only so much he could do since he was so small, but Reese appreciated the gesture. She stood up feeling every ache in her body. She spat at Ronnie as she walked away. 

“Where do you think you’re going?” Ronnie shouted. She strained against the vines. With enough power, she was able to flex her muscles and rip through them. She screamed as she stood up. “You bitch! Don’t you fucking walk away from me!” 

Everett readied his crossbow and shot an arrow at Ronnie’s head. He was surprised as she reached up and grabbed the arrow just as it was about to hit her. She snapped it and tossed it aside. “I really wish people would quit doing that.” He quickly fired another one. This one was too fast to catch and hit her in the right shoulder. Ice immediately began to spread down her arm and up her neck. 

Ronnie screamed as the ice crawled up her chin. She spoke a word of ancient magic and her skin began to heat up and melted the ice. She sat up and pulled the arrow out of her shoulder. She stood up and screamed like a banshee. As she opened her mouth, a large bubble formed and floated over to Reese and Everett. While Everett was able to jump out of the way, Reese, in her old and wizen condition was not able to move as quickly and was captured by the bubble. It floated above the ground for a second before it popped and disappeared. Reese was nowhere to be found. 

Everett looked back and saw this. He shouted for Reese, but she wasn’t there to respond. He stood up and prepared another arrow. “Bring her back!” Ronnie walked past him like she didn’t see him. “Get back here!” He shot another arrow at her, but she deflected it from behind her back without looking. “I hate her.” 

Harri fought against Jaco and Quil. She was done using her umbrella as a lightning gun. She began launching various curses at them with rapid fire. Quil still tried to fight back using his spells, but without his voice, they fell flat. The best he could do was try to fight her with his fists. Whenever he attempted to get close, Harri evaded him, and smacked him with a fire curse, temporarily immobilizing him.  

Jaco watched Quil suffer as the fight continued. He wished Quil had the foresight to take some kind of self defense class so when something like this happened, he could still be useful. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could continue to watch Quil get his ass kicked. If he transformed, he would have to take off the necklaces. That would leave him vulnerable to Harri’s attacks. He thought about this as he watched Quil take another fire spell to the face. He decided that he would gladly sacrifice himself for Quil if it meant that Quil would be spared a terrible death. 

Everett wandered over to Jaco and tapped his lower back. “Reese is gone.” 

Jaco patted Everett on his head. He was more concentrated on Quil. He took off his necklaces and deposited them on Everett’s head. “Here, hold these.” 

Everett pulled the necklaces off and held them in his hands. His eyes widened with fear. “What are you doing?” 

“I’m going to save Quil!” Jaco said. He began to breathe heavily as his nose elongated into a wolf’s snout. He grew larger in height as his legs stretched and curved into canine paws. Hair sprouted from all over his body. His head was the last to catch up with the transformation. Soon, a seven foot, black werewolf wearing red spandex pants and bracelets on his arms and feet. His belt popped off and fell to the ground. Everett promptly picked it up. When the transformation was done, Jaco stood panting, waiting to rip into some witches. 

Harri was really laying into Quil, who was taking attack after attack. Jaco saw that he was in danger and jumped into the fray. Just as Harri as launched another spell, Jaco dove in front of Quil and took the hit himself. It burned the hairs on his chest. When he touched ground, he patted the embers off and rubbed the burn. He growled at the witch and brandished his large claws as he made a few swipes at her. 

“Bad dog,” Harri said. She unleashed a string of lightning at the werewolf. The wolf took it in stride as he shielded Quil behind his back. Quil took this as a cue to run, but instead of running away, he ran in circles. Jaco was distracted by this and didn’t see the fire spell coming at him. It smacked him in the side of his face, singing his whiskers. 

Jaco roared and charged at Harri. The witch raised her umbrella and issued a force wave at him, knocking him backward. He tumbled a couple of times before he stopped. He looked at Everett and barked for his support. The dwarf nodded and took aim. 

“You have no idea who you’re dealing with!” Harri uttered a spell and a string of light erupted from the ground, separating the Heroes from her and her sisters. “Come to the light, little puppy!” 

Jaco accepted the challenge and charged toward the light. He expected to pass through it, but it stopped him cold as if he hit a brick wall. He rubbed his nose and sniffed, whimpering softly.  

Everett didn’t bother to fire at it and settled his crossbow. He studied the wall and saw that it wasn’t that high. He surmised he could easily shoot over it with his bow. He reached back and grabbed his bow from its harness. He produced an arrow and took aim into the sky. He released the arrow and it sailed over the light wall. As it reached its peak, it exploded and showered down micro darts upon the sisters. He grinned as he heard their screams from the other side.  

The Lindstrom Sisters raised their umbrellas and shielded themselves after being struck by some of the darts. Since the light wall was concentration based, the darts provided enough of a distraction that Harri couldn’t focus on it. The light wall weakened and Jaco didn’t waste a second in running through it.  

Harri didn’t see Jaco coming until it was too late. He tackled her at the waist and they tumbled to the ground. He wound up on top, his favorite position. He licked his chops as he raised his claws dramatically.  

Harri saw the wild look in his eyes and knew that he was ready to lay into her. She raised her umbrella and shoved it in Jaco’s face. He quickly bit the umbrella and tore at the fabric, rendering it useless. Jaco went in for the kill. Harri threw the umbrella away and grabbed Jaco’s arms to stop him from ravaging her.  

“Sisters, take the wizard and flee!” Harri commanded. 

Jaco heard this and turned in Quil’s direction to see Ronnie and Hermi chasing after Quil, who was still running in circles. He was conflicted; he wanted to tear Harri to shreds, but he also wanted to protect Quil. After a moment’s deliberation, he leapt off Harri and ran toward the sisters. Alas, he was too late. The sisters managed to tackle Quil and then they suddenly disappeared into thin air. 

Harri stood up and brushed herself off. “Well, it’s been real. It’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun. Buh bye!” She snapped her fingers and she disappeared in a puff of smoke. 

Jaco and Everett were the only ones left on the battlefield. They regrouped and settled down. Jaco transformed back into his human form, scratched and bloodied.  

“That could have gone better,” Everett said. 

“You think?” Jaco dabbed the burn on his chest and sighed. “So, we have another goal. Save the children, and save our friends.” 

“Those hexes looked serious. It’s going to take some major mojo to break them.” Everett returned his bow to its harness. “I think we need to hit the books.” 

“Ugh.” Jaco hated doing research. “I think you can do that. I’m going to hunt down those bitches and get our friends back.” 

“You’re going to need more than luck to go up against them. You’re going to need me.” Everett said this in a sing song tone.  

Jaco growled because he knew that Everett was right. It would make no sense to go attack the witches without some kind of upper hand. He didn’t expect those witches to be as young and powerful as they were. He would have to endure sitting in a library for an indeterminate amount of time. Meanwhile there were frightened children who needed their help. He thought that this was not the best time to be rifling through books. He didn’t have any better ideas, so he agreed to go with Everett. They left the field and headed back into the village of Euclidia. Jaco chuckled under his breath after thinking of the name of the village. What a stupid name. 

*** 

“Now can we eat them?” Ronnie asked. The sisters were back at their house reveling in their success. They had three of the Heroes tied up in their living room. With their hexes slowly draining the life out of them, it was only a matter of time before they became deceased.  

Ronnie and Hermi were still fixated on wanting to eat the children they left in the cave. Harri was running out of reasons to say no. The truth of the matter was that she was really looking forward to eating them too. She was holding out as an exercise of self-control. As far as her sisters were concerned, it was just a matter of control.  

“No, we can’t eat them yet,” Harri said. “We have to complete the task at hand.” 

“They’re going to die any minute,” Ronnie said with a pleading voice. 

“We could help it along, couldn’t we, Ronnie?” Hermi clapped excitedly in favor of the idea, her mouth watering. 

“We sure could.” Ronnie winked. 

“No, we still have the other two Heroes our hexes didn’t catch.” Harri pondered how Jaco and Everett had evaded their curses. It had to be the ridiculous amount of charms they were wearing. They looked like cheap children’s jewelry, how could they have possibly circumnavigated their magic? Where did they get those charms? She made a mental note to seek out that information and kill the vendor.  

“How are we going to get them, Harri?” Hermi asked. “They looked crunchy enough to succumb to our magic. Why didn’t they?” 

“It’s not fair,” Ronnie complained.  

“We just have to up our game,” Harri suggested. “We’re going to need to amp up our powers to overcome those stupid charms they have on.” She grabbed the Book of Shadows and flipped through the pages to find something that would give them an advantage. “There has to be a power amplification spell in here.” She growled under her breath as she grew frustrated that she wasn’t finding what she was looking for. “I could have swore Mother put something like that in here.” 

“If anyone can find it, it’s you,” Ronnie said. 

Reese mumbled something from underneath them. Ronnie kicked her in the stomach as a response.   

Harri sat the book on the table and waved her hands over the book. The pages flipped furiously on their own until it opened to the spell she was looking for. She and her sisters leaned over the book to gaze upon the sacred words.  

“Yes, sisters, here it is.” Harri picked up the book and read the spell first before she let the others see it. “We will need a few items from the store. Ronnie, get a pencil.” 

“Do we have to go to Witch Mart?” Hermi asked, whining. 

“What’s wrong with Witch Mart? Everything there is so cheap!” Harri countered. 

“Yeah, but they treat their employees so awfully, and they only hire ugly people.” Hermi sighed because she could see that Harri was going to make them go to Witch-Mart. Harri seemed to think that they were on a budget even though their mother left them a huge trust fund. “Fine, support the corrupt establishment.” She folded her arms. 

“Whatever.” Harri rolled her eyes. “Soon we’ll be more powerful and then we’ll be famous for taking down the Heroes of Lunde! Keep your eyes on the prize, dear sister. Now, Ronnie, write this down.” Harri went down the list of ingredients and Ronnie wrote them down. When she was done, she tasked Hermi with acquiring said ingredients, much to Hermi’s chagrin, much to Harri’s delight. “And hurry back! We don’t have much time!” 

Hermi stood up and snatched the list from Ronnie’s hand. She let Harri know that she was not pleased by slamming the door on her way out. 

Ronnie snickered. “I hope she ends up in the ‘People of Witch Mart’ newsletter.” 

Harri cracked a smile. “That would be hilarious!” The two of them laughed for five minutes about this. Then when the laughter died down, they went their separate ways in the house; one to read, and the other to start cooking dinner. Reese, Quil, and the stone Andrada just laid on the floor, waiting for rescue. 

*** 

The patrons of the Euclidian Library were in a tizzy about having a bloody, shirtless man wandering the aisles. They whispered and murmured to themselves as they stared at him as he passed. They all wanted to offer him aid, but they were afraid to get involved. They settled on just talking about him behind his back and hoped that a staff member would throw him out or something. 

Jaco sat impatiently at a table that had a pile of books stacked on it. Everett was poring through them, manically flipping through the pages. He mumbled audibly under his breath as he read, garnering hateful glares from the irritated. Everett paid them no mind.

Jaco yawned loudly to indicate he was bored. He was bloody and cold; he wanted nothing more than to leave and kill some witches. He tried to come up with excuses to get away, but each one he thought of was lame and Everett would have seen right through it. So, he decided to go the direct approach. 

“Ev, this is boring me to tears. I need to get out of here. I need to clean myself up.” He looked at the back of the chair he was sitting in and saw he had soaked it with blood. “I’m bleeding on the upholstery.” 

Everett took his eyes off the book and looked at Jaco and the chair. “Yeah, you should probably do that. You’re a bloody mess, literally.” 

“You think?” Jaco stood up and moaned as his aches addressed him.  

He left the table and started his quest for the bathroom. He ignored the whispers as he finally found it in the back. He opened the bathroom door and left a bloody handprint on it. He made the urinal his first stop, then he went to the sink and washed his chest with paper towels. The blood slithered its way down the white sides of the sink and down the drain. He felt bad for the poor sap who’d have to clean this up. 

Jaco thought about Quil and how the witches were probably torturing him. It pained his heart to know he wasn’t able to protect him. He gripped the sink’s edge and bent over crying. How could he let Quil down so much? He was depending on him and he couldn’t save him. He let the sobs come loud and hard. When his legs failed to support his weight, he simply fell to the floor and continued to cry. He hoped for a brief moment that the floor had been cleaned recently.  

He prayed to God that Quil was alright and safe; safe as he could be in the custody of three heinous witches. He imagined them preparing a stew to put Quil in. He gritted his teeth and let out one last sob before he attempted to pull himself together. He knew he had been gone a while. It was possible Everett found something that could help them. He found the strength to get to his feet and splashed some water on his face. His eyes were red from crying. He hoped Everett wouldn’t notice. 

He left the bathroom and found Everett standing by the table looking impatient. He had a piece of paper in his hand which Jaco assumed he had ripped right out of the book. “Sorry for taking so long.” 

“Well, I didn’t want to interrupt the sob fest,” Everett commented. He saw the look of surprise on Jaco’s face. “Oh yeah, we all heard. I swear some little old ladies went ‘awww’. It was very touching.” He tapped Jaco on his arm and smiled. “Come on. We’re going shopping.” 

“What?” 

Everett shook the piece of paper. “I’ve found ingredients that we’re going to need to make our charms more effective against those witches. We’re going to have to go to Witch Mart to get them.” 

Jaco moaned. “That place is awful!” 

Everett shrugged. “Do you want to get Quil and the others back?” Jaco nodded. “Sometimes we have to venture to the dark side to do work for the light.” 

Jaco smirked and asked, “Where did you get that from?” 

“My brain!” Everett snapped. He stormed off grumbling about how his originality was never appreciated.  

“Touchy!” Jaco followed Everett toward the exit. He stopped by the front desk to apologize for the mess he made on the chair and in the bathroom, and then left. The staff member just blinked at him in a confused manner and watched him leave. The doors shut behind him and he was gone. The night was much more quiet after that. 

*** 

Everett and Jaco arrived at Witch Mart, a chain store that boasted to be the primary source of witchcraft supplies in all of Petoria, the continent they live on. The store was pretty busy with all of the hustle and bustle of people roaming back and forth. There were long lines of people waiting to check out, but only two cashiers were actively serving customers. This made the air thick with angry vibes and heavy moods. Jaco was not looking forward to standing in that mess. 

Everett read the ingredients they needed off the list, but Jaco wasn’t paying attention. His thoughts were on Quil, hoping he was alright, hoping he wasn’t seasoning a stew or something. It wasn’t until he heard Everett say something with a high inflection that he realized that he had probably been asked a question.  

“What?” 

“Do you think you could manage getting the spark root?” Everett stared up at him with a semi irritated expression on his face. Jaco didn’t have the heart to tell him no, so he just nodded. “Good. It should be in the root aisle, but they’re always moving shit around in here, so it’s hard to know where anything is ever. Call me if you get lost.” He walked away and headed towards the spice aisle with his nose on the page he stole. 

Jaco sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He spun around in a circle in an attempt to spot where he was supposed to go. He picked a direction and headed in it. He found many things, but none of them were what he was looking for. He wasn’t even sure what spark root looked like. After searching for ten minutes, he finally decided it was time to look for an employee. 

He searched the store for five minutes asking for help from anyone wearing orange. It wasn’t until the fifth person he found that actually worked there and wasn’t just wearing orange to fuck with people. He was so grateful. 

“I’m looking for spark root! Could you please point me in the right direction?” Jaco was almost to the point of getting on his knees and begging. The employee, Roy, could see this and hoped that he wouldn’t. Roy pointed him to Aisle 23 and wished him a good night. Jaco praised him profusely and made his way to Aisle 23. 

When he arrived, he scanned every bottle on the shelves on either side. Each of them were clear and contained a little bit of fluid to keep the roots fresh. He tried to read the labels written on them, but since they were handwritten, it was difficult for him to discern the words. This person decided that cursive would look best on the labels instead of print. He silently cursed under his breath. 

He reached the end of the aisle and there it was, a single bottle of spark root. The plant sat comfortably inside its cell, half submerged in a clear liquid, just waiting for him to grab it. He felt elated that he hadn’t screwed this up. While he wasn’t sure why, he wanted Everett to be proud of him.  

He grabbed the bottle and was surprised when he also grabbed another hand. He looked on the other side into the next aisle and saw that a woman had also reached for the bottle. He pulled back, hoping to snatch the bottle out of her hand. She pulled back, hoping to achieve the same end. It was a silent tug of war at first, but then the woman cursed out loud. 

“Give me the fucking bottle,” she said. 

He immediately recognized Hermi’s voice and growled. “Back off, witch! The bottle is mine!” Jaco yanked hard on the bottle, and subsequently, the hand. 

“I touched it first!” Hermi pulled harder on the bottle, causing Jaco to slam into the shelf, shaking it free of some of its products. Fortunately, the store had switched from glass bottles to plastic, so nothing was broken. 

“Bad dog!” Hermi shouted. 

“No one calls me a bad dog and gets to live!” Jaco got the idea to shove the shelf over. It was wood so it was easier to push than steel would have been. Without releasing the bottle, he gave the tall shelf a hard push and it toppled over on Hermi. She cried out in pain as it landed on her chest. She still held on tightly to the spark root. “Let go!” 

“No, you let go!” 

For being a mere human, Hermi had a particularly firm grip. Jaco knew that he would need more strength to pry it from her. He focused his power on transforming his left arm into werewolf mode. With the added strength he successfully got her to release the bottle. He held it up triumphantly. “Ha!” 

“Nooo!” Hermi cried out. She uttered a spell and Jaco and the shelf were propelled into the air. They landed against the shelf behind them and toppled it over, leading to a messy domino effect, knocking down all the shelves after it. 

Jaco was pressed between shelves on top of the messy heap. He still held the bottle in his left hand. Hermi stood up, stomped over to him, and relieved him of possession of it. 

“Tough break, puppy.” Hermi spit on him and proceeded to walk away. 

Jaco wiped the mucus from his chest and thrust the shelf upward. It flew through the air for a few seconds before it crashed down on top of retreating witch. The bottle slipped from her hand and rolled down the main walkway toward the broomsticks. He rushed toward it while Hermi attempted to crawl out from underneath the shelf. As he passed her, she reached out and grabbed his ankle and successfully tripped him. He landed hard on his chest. He let out an “oof!” He wasn’t going to let her stop him. He then started crawling while trying to kick his leg free of Hermi’s grip. 

“Everett!” Jaco shouted. “Everett! Get your ass over here!” He was within an arm’s length away from the bottle. He wished that he had telekinetic powers so that he could just command it to come to him.  

Unfortunately for him, Hermi did. She tossed the shelf off of her and extended her right hand and uttered a word. The bottle shook and rattled briefly before it flew up and zipped right into her hand.  

Jaco gasped and looked back at her. “That’s not fair!” 

Hermi only responded with a wink. She let go of Jaco’s foot and stood up. She brushed the dirt off and walked away. She heard Jaco growl behind her and knew that an attack was imminent. She waited until she heard him stand up and approach before she teleported away, leaving Jaco to fly through the space she used to be. 

He slammed his hand on the floor in frustration. He heard the footsteps of people coming to witness the calamity. He sat up and saw that he was surrounded by angry staff and onlookers. He waved sheepishly at them as he stood up. “Hi, folks! Nothing to see here. Just uh… doing some last minute shopping. 

The store security arrived on the scene and promptly escorted Jaco out of the store. He shouted for Everett to help him, but the dwarf stayed hidden. So, he sat outside on the planter and waited for Everett to come out. This didn’t happen for another fifteen minutes. When Everett arrived, Jaco stood up and yelled at him. 

“Where the hell were you all this time?”  

“I was trying to avoid being thrown out,” he said. “I didn’t want to be seen with you and lose our shot at getting what you failed to get.” 

“Hey, I had it in my hands!” Jaco flexed his fingers as if to summon the bottle to him. “That witch took it from me.” 

“I assumed that.” Everett held up an orange Witch Mart bag filled with ingredients. “I found something else that might work with our spell. It may not be as good as the spark root, but it’ll do fine. Let’s go.” 

Jaco and Everett quickly left the store front before security saw them together. They had work to do.

To be continued…

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks! 

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 23

Episode 23: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part VIII: Behind the Mask

“You didn’t think Obsidia would be taken down that easy, did you?” Iphigenia asked as she loomed over Astralyn.

Astralyn glared at her and smirked. “Actually, I kinda did.”

“Obsidia is all powerful, nothing can touch him.”

“Then why can’t he stay in a body for longer than a few moments?” Astralyn challenged.

“It will not matter,” Obsidia said, joining the conversation. “Once this body dies, my revenge will be complete.” He continued to stare ahead at Timmy being lowered into the Pit of Eternal Flames.

“Revenge?” Astralyn didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter. Timmy was running out of time. If she couldn’t simply take the mask off, she would have to try another approach.

“You say revenge as if you’ve met Sundance before.” Obsidia was silent. “As far as I know, Sundance has never been to this planet. If that’s true, then you can’t be a god.”

Iphigenia reached down and smacked Astralyn across the face. “You watch your mouth, maiden.”

“I am not one of your stupid maidens!” Astralyn stood up and smacked her back. “Don’t you see me in the middle of a conversation? Don’t interrupt!” Iphigenia looked shocked. Astralyn ignored her and sat next to Obsidia.

“Sundance, I know you’re in there! I know you can hear me!” she pleaded.

“He hears nothing,” Obsidia replied calmly. “He is deaf to your cries, woman.”

“Sundance, he’s not a god. You can defeat him. You can break free of him! You just have to fight back!.”

“That’ll be just about enough of that!” Iphigenia walked over and pulled Astralyn up by the hair. She went to give her another smack, but Astralyn got there first.

The two women stood on stage, glaring at each other. The fight was on. Astralyn tore off her robe and threw it to the ground, revealing her executive attire. Iphigenia cracked her knuckles. The two of them threw punches and kicks, upsetting the table full of food and candles. Obsidia was unmoved by this. The crowd was too busy dancing and cheering on Timmy’s slow demise.

“This is going much too slowly,” Obsidia said. He raised his hands in Timmy’s direction and made a slight tugging motion. Timmy found himself being lowered into the pit quicker than he had been before. He gave a whimper as the heat rose up to greet him. Even though the mask remained emotionless, the glee in Obsidia’s eyes was beyond measure.

———-

Sundance stood in the dark wondering what had just happened. He had been talking to a masked man who was able to control him. He made it seem like a game. He was controlled so easily, like a kid playing with a puppet. This did not sit well with him. He resented being controlled in such a manner.

“No one takes possession of my body and gets away with it,” he mumbled. He rolled up his sleeves and hunkered down. He focused all of his energy on ousting the foreign entity from his body. He closed his eyes and visualized the outcome he wanted to achieve.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asked a soft voice. “You know, your friend is going to burn up rather nicely.”

“Don’t bother me,” Sundance said.

“You look constipated.” Obsidia sat down with him. “You’re trying to think me out of your head, aren’t you? Not gonna happen. You’re my little doll.”

Obsidia took control of Sundance’s left hand and made it into a fist. He opened and closed it repeatedly. He then took his fist and punched himself in the face. Sundance was obliged to do the same. Obsidia kept the hits coming until Sundance was a blooded heap on the floor.

“Poor Sunny D, reduced to a child’s play thing.” Obsidia stood over Sundance and chuckled. “You are, by far, the best puppet I’ve had in years. Cheer up.” Obsidia opened his hand and expected Sundance’s to do the same… only it didn’t.

“Surprise, bitch!” Sundance said. He quickly jumped up and punched Obsidia in the face. The masked man fell backward. “That’s for making me act like a monkey. This body is mine, buddy!”

Obsidia struggled for control of Sundance’s body. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t control him. “Looks like this game is over. Don’t worry, Captain, we’ll play again. I have more in store for you. Compared to what’s coming, the Space Chickens and the Minotaur were just warmups.” And with that, Obsidia was gone again.

“Space Chickens?” Sundance was on the verge of making a connection when he realized that he had other things to worry about.

———–

“A little help!” Timmy cried from the Pit of Eternal Flames. “That, or a quicker death, whichever comes first.” The cult followers were still lowering him down with Obsidia’s help. He imagined that he’d be an old man before he burned to death.

“Choo-choo-choo-balla! Choo-choo-choo-balla! Choo-choo-choo-balla!” the cultists chanted.

On stage, Astralyn and Iphigenia were still battling it out. Astralyn caught Iphigenia in a headlock before finally flipping her off the stage. She, then, noticed that Sundance was shaking his head. “Sundance? Is that you?”

Sundance reached up and pulled the mask off his face. He promptly snapped it in half. “I am nobody’s puppet!” He tossed the pieces onto the floor by Iphigenia. “Tell your buddy that he’s a creep.”

“Captain!” Timmy shouted just as he lowered out of view.

“Timmy!” Sundance raced towards the pit, but Iphigenia grabbed his leg and tripped him.

“Release him into the flames!” Iphigenia commanded.

Astralyn jumped off the stage and kicked Iphigenia into freeing Sundance. “Your business is with me.” She picked her up by her hair and round two started.

Sundance ran over to the cultists at the pulley and pushed them out of the way. He quickly raised him back up onto the floor. Timmy looked sweaty, but relieved.

“Timmy!”

“Captain!”

They hugged once Sundance cut Timmy free. The cultists were drawn between wanting more blood and loving the reunion scene. Sensing that things were about to end, they decided to calm down. All eyes turned to Astralyn and Iphigenia.

“You ruined everything, you stupid bitch!” Iphigenia said, placing a high kick to Astralyn’s face. “You will burn for this.”

Astralyn reached up and caught Iphigenia’s leg and swiftly kicked her remaining leg out from underneath her. She threw Iphigenia to the floor and panted. “In your dreams.”

The cultists rushed over to Iphigenia and picked up her unconscious body.

“It’s over,” Astralyn said, stepping over Iphigenia. “It’s all over, folks. Nothing to see here. Go home!” She wiped some sweat off her forehead. “Timmy, you look tan. I’m jealous.” Timmy chuckled.

As the cultists left the temple, Sundance heard some of them wondering what they were going to do next. “I hear scrapbooking is making a comeback,” was his response.

The happy trio followed the emancipated cultists out of the temple into the moonlight. They stood at the top of the temple and watched as people wandered into the jungle below.

“What happened back there?” Astralyn asked. “How were you able to regain control?”

“I don’t really know,” Sundance admitted. “I just thought him out of my head. Though, I have the impression that he got bored and left me alone.”

“Well, to be fair, there isn’t much to do in there.” Astralyn knocked on Sundance’s head and laughed.

Sundance rubbed his head and forced a laugh. He didn’t have the heart to tell them the message the Obsidia left with him. Instead, he led his friends back towards the StarTango and hoped against hope that he’d seen the last of him.

End of Season 1

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

Heroes of Lunde, Episode 7

WITCHES THREE, PART 1

PART 1 

It was late when Harriet got the call. She had been asleep, dreaming about roasting children over a spit, when she was so rudely awakened. She reached for her talkie, which was nestled underneath her pillow in case of emergencies. She opened one eye and checked the Caller ID. When she saw the name of her disturber of sleep, she opened both eyes and fumbled to hit the talk button. 

“Hello, Mistress.”  

“Which one am I talking to? I can never tell; you all sound the same to me,” Mistress L said, trying to sound as polite as possible. She didn’t want to hack off the three best witches she knew, after Maltrice, of course. 

“It’s Harri.” She rubbed her eyes open to appear more awake. She didn’t know why she since she couldn’t see Mistress L, but she supposed if she looked more awake, she’d sound more awake. “How may the Lindstrom Sisters be of service to the Dark Circle?” 

“I’m experiencing some problems with a certain group of people. I need them exterminated pronto.” She waited for Harri’s response with bated breath. It sounded like she had woken her up. She would have to be extra nice to her for this. “Do you think you could handle that problem for me?” 

Harri thought she detected a hint of desperation in the mistress’ voice. It must be a really big deal if she had to call at this late hour. There could be a really big pay off if they pulled off bumping off these people. It wasn’t every day they got a call from the Dark Circle. This could elevate the sisters’ status to badass bitches. No one would dare to go up against them if they had the Dark Circle on their side. She thought about how she should accept the job without sounding just as desperate. Should she tell her to call back in the morning after she’d talked it over with her sisters? She liked that option, but then she remembered who she was dealing with. It was best not to play games with the Dark Circle. She figured they owed her one anyway. “We’ll do it,” she said, resigning herself to the desperation tactic. 

“Excellent!” Mistress didn’t bother to hide how relieved she was. If the sisters could get rid of the Heroes, then everything can proceed as planned. She was also glad she didn’t have to remind Harri that they owed her. It was always a messy ordeal when one had to pull rank. “I will pay you, of course, and as a bonus, I’ll throw in some cinnamon raisin muffins!” 

Harri’s stomach growled. She loved muffins and now she was hungry. “Fantastic. We’ll get started on a plan in the morning.” 

“Thank you so much! Sorry to have called so late, but I wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t important.” 

“Girl, we got you! We’ll talk in the morning! Have a good night!” Harri waited for the mistress to hang up before she disconnected. She returned the talkie under her pillow and laid back down.  

“Who was that?” asked her sister, Veronica. She was lying between Harri and her other sister, Hermine in the same king sized bed.  

“I’ll tell you in the morning,” Harri said, already drowsy. “Go back to sleep, Ronnie.” 

“Fine.” Ronnie rolled back over and drifted off to sleep. She dreamt of roasting children over a spit. 

*** 

The next morning, Jaco woke up next to Quil as per usual. He smiled when he heard him snoring. The lovely prince could suck carriages off the streets, Jaco liked to say when teasing him about it. It was mid morning, which was when the rest of the family ate breakfast. He wondered if he should wake Quil after the day he had yesterday. He decided to put the carriages in further danger by allowing him to continue sleeping. 

He snuck out of bed and put on his red spandex pants. He was usually devoid of a shirt, but he decided if he planned on eating breakfast with the family, he should appear like a presentable citizen. He opened Quil’s closet and found a clean black shirt. He put it on and left the room. Quil didn’t wake up despite the loud creak of the door. Jaco thought about adding some lubricant to the hinges, but that would have been a waste of perfectly good lube which could be used for personal applications. 

He wandered the halls and ignored the looks from the staff he passed. They always objected to his lack of shoes and a shirt. Jaco thought they should be happy he’s even wearing a shirt today. He was tempted to take it off just to spite them.  

He made it to the dining hall and found King Oleander and Queen Jasmine just sitting down for breakfast. They welcomed him to sit down with them. A servant pulled out a chair for him. He graciously sat down and was gently pushed toward the table. 

“Good morning, Jaco,” Jasmine said, smiling at him. “It’s good to see you.” 

“Thank you, my queen.” Jaco bowed his head. 

“I trust you and Quil had a wonderful night of lovemaking last night.” Oleander winked at Jaco. He was pleased to see the young man blush a bright shade of red. “Oh, I remember the lust filled nights of my youth. I was a thin, insatiable sex machine! Women, men, I didn’t care! I was up and ready at all times!” 

Jasmine cleared her throat politely. “Lee, perhaps Jaco doesn’t want to hear about how thin and insatiable you were.” She placed a napkin on her lap as a servant served her a plate of scrambled eggs, waffles, and bacon. “You can just ignore him, dear.” 

Oleander placed his napkin on his lap, hurt. “I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t realize that we couldn’t have a civilized conversation about sex. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, Jas.” He looked to Jaco and grinned. “I think it’s healthy to talk openly about sex to break the stigma. People are way too uptight about a perfectly natural activity. Everyone has sex!” 

Jaco spoke up and said, “Not everyone, sire. Some people are asexual.” 

Oleander frowned. “I suppose you’re right. They don’t know what they’re missing.” 

Jasmine cleared her throat again. “So, is Quil still sleeping?” 

Jaco nodded his head. “I figured I’d let him since he had an awful day yesterday.” 

“I guess being possessed by a hell demon can take the life right out of you.” Oleander allowed a servant to serve him his breakfast; the same as everyone else, just a bigger quantity. “I suppose there wasn’t much sex happening last night.” 

“Lee!” Jasmine was done with that kind of talk at the breakfast table. 

When Jaco was served his plate, the three of them ate their food in silence. It was awkward sitting down not saying anything considering what the last topic was. Jaco was sure his face hadn’t lightened because he could still feel the heat in his cheeks. He was definitely not going to tell Quil this conversation happened. 

Breakfast was just about over when there was a knock on the door. Jaco knew that whoever was on the other side had bad news.  

Oleander bid the person in. It was a nervous looking messenger with his hands behind his back. When the king beckoned him to come forward, the messenger scuttled over as quick as he could. He bowed and took a deep breath, but said nothing. His mouth was open, but no sound came out. 

“Speak up, lad!” Oleander commanded. 

“Yes, sire,” the messenger squeaked. “Horrible news from Euclidia.” Jaco snickered. This distracted the messenger for a brief moment before returning his attention to the king. “It has been reported that children have suddenly turned up missing.” 

Jaco furrowed his brow. “How could something be missing, but still be turned up?” He didn’t realize he had said this out loud until he received dirty looks from everyone in the room. His face couldn’t have been redder if he tried. “Sorry.” 

“Are there any suspects?” Oleander asked. 

“Yes, sire. We believe evil witches, the Lindstrom Sisters, are responsible.” The messenger was afraid to make eye contact with His Magnificence. He had always longed for the duty to report to the King. Now that it had happened, he couldn’t contain his nervousness. 

“Witches?” Jasmine asked. “How horrible! Those poor children.” 

“Chances are those children are already dead,” the messenger added, gazing up from the floor. “It is known the sisters like to eat children, especially the little fat ones. I hear they like to slather them in butter and other seasonings like turmeric and cumin. But I just hear rumors.” He returned his gaze to the floor. 

The king frowned at this news. He turned to Jaco and with a grim face he said, “I think it’s time to wake up Quil. Assemble the Heroes and rescue those children.” 

“Yes, sire.” Jaco stood up and left the dining hall.  

As he traveled down the halls toward Quil’s room, Jaco couldn’t help but think that there was something more to the witches’ actions. It couldn’t be a coincidence that there were two unlikely events in as many days. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear that someone was trying to trap them. He made a mental note to mention this to Quil once he was fully awake, which would take a miracle at this point. Quil slept like a rock. 

*** 

Harri, Ronnie, and Hermi stepped out of a hidden cave into the morning sun. They squinted until their eyes adjusted to the light. Hermi took a moment to hiss at the sun, which earned her a strange look from her sisters. Hermi shrugged her shoulders. “I like to pretend I’m a vampire. What? Everyone does it.” 

“So, while I enjoy scooping up children early in the morning, why are we doing this again?” Ronnie asked, bending backward to realign her back. She was usually the one who had to carry the fat children because she was the strongest. She was not a waif like Harri, and not as wide as Hermi. She was perfect with just the right amount of muscle in the right places. She also thought she was the prettiest sister. They were not the haggard, old women one would expect from witches. They were moderately not unfortunate looking, each one capable of snagging a man, well, a woman in Hermi’s case. 

“Mistress L called us last night and asked us to do her a favor!” Harri replied breathlessly. She had just lugged two children on her back up a mountain and locked them in a cage, she wanted a nap. “We owe her and we owe it to ourselves to do right by her.” 

“Yes, but why would she ask us to do something we were already planning on doing next Wednesday?” Hermi asked. 

“It’s a trap to lure the Heroes of Lunde here.” Harri took a deep breath and held it in for a few seconds. She exhaled and bent over to touch her toes. “When they come, we whomp them and put them in a stew!” Ronnie and Hermi clapped excitedly. “Word has probably already reached them, so they should be here by afternoon’s end. Come, sisters! We must prepare!” 

Hermi gave Harri a sad look. “Can’t we eat a child first? Just a little one?” 

“No! They’re the bait,” Harri replied. 

“How about just a leg?” Ronnie chimed in.  

Hermi nodded with enthusiasm. “Yes, a nice, fat, juicy leg!” 

Harri shook her head.  

“Well, honestly, Harri. It’s not nice to make us kidnap them and expect us to not want to eat them.” Ronnie pouted. 

“We will after we kill the Heroes! I promise.” Harri sighed. She was exasperated by her sisters. She likened them to small children that she couldn’t eat because she would feel bad about it later when she passed them. 

“You promise?” Hermi asked, her voice high and childlike. 

“I swear on our mother’s grave!” 

All three of them looked toward the sky, placed their hands on their hearts, and said, “Mother!” 

“Okay, we must go. We must be ready!” Harri ushered her sisters down the mountain. She had such beautiful plans for the Heroes; all they had to do was show up. Today was going to be glorious, she could feel it. Things were going to happen. And happen they did. 

*** 

After Quil woke up, he made the call for the Heroes to assemble outside of the castle. Jaco left to get something and vowed to return. Andrada and Reese showed up on time. For this Quil was thankful. He filled them in on what happened in Euclidia based on what Jaco told him. Andrada was excited to get some witch blood on her blade. Reese had no emotions about it whatsoever. Quil just wanted to go back to bed. 

The three of them waited for twenty minutes before Everett and Jaco arrived. Quil was about to ask them what had taken them so long, but stopped when he saw what they were wearing. Jaco was dressed, or rather half dressed, he had lost his shirt somewhere along the way, in silver necklaces draped around his neck, bracelets with various charms on them all the way up to his elbows, a black belt with small bones (Quil hoped that they were chicken bones) attached to it, and more anklets with small teeth (no chance that they were chicken teeth) strung through them. Everett was dressed similarly, only he also had blue face paint on the right half of his face and a pentagram drawn in black make up pen on his left cheek. 

“What the actual fuck?” Quil asked. 

Jaco and Everett just stared at him with a confused look. “What?” 

Andrada scratched her head. “What’s with all the jewelry?” 

Everett and Jaco gasped collectively. “Jewelry? Jewelry!” Everett said indignantly. “These are anti magic charms! These will protect us from being hexed by those witchy bitches!” 

“Damn right!” Jaco added. 

“You look ridiculous,” Andrada replied. 

“It’s not just for us!” Everett took off a few bracelets. 

 “We brought enough for everyone!” Jaco started to take off several silver necklaces to distribute.   

Andrada, Quil, and Reese all took a step back as Everett and Jaco tried to offer them the charms.  

“You’re not going to catch me wearing any of that,” Andrada stared at the charms as if they were snakes wriggling around their arms.  “You two really can’t be serious.” 

“Serious as a heart attack!” Jaco looked to Quil for support, unfortunately, he did not find any.  

“Sorry, babe.” Quil gave him an apologetic look. “I can’t believe you’re afraid of witches. Weren’t you the one who took me to see a witch doctor yesterday?” 

“Mama Kaina, God rest her soul, was different. She helped people! She cast spells for the greater good.” Jaco couldn’t believe that he was having this conversation. “These bitches eat children! They probably dip them in butter and other spices like turmeric and cumin or something! We have to be protected from their evil spells!” 

“Honey, I’m a motherfucking wizard. I think I’ve got us covered.” Quil smirked and folded his arms. “Come on, we gotta get going. If we leave now, we can be in Euclidia by afternoon’s end.” Then he gave a chuckle. “Euclidia. What a stupid name.” 

Quil led the way toward the train station. Everett and Jaco exchanged glances of resignation. They failed to impress the importance of witch protection upon the others. They hoped that they would be okay, but they all knew that knowing them, they probably wouldn’t be. 

*** 

“Maybe we can turn them into frogs!” Hermi suggested. “Frogs are always really good in stews.” 

“But rabbit is better,” Ronnie interjected. “We should definitely turn them into rabbits.” 

“But bunnies are too cute to eat!” Hermi moaned at the thought of killing the cute little bunny rabbits. She had tasted rabbit before and claimed that she liked it, but she didn’t feel comfortable about eating it knowing what it used to be when it was alive. 

The Lindstrom Sisters were back in their two story, three bedroom house at the bottom of the Jusnic Mountains. They were trying to agree on what kind of punishment the Heroes should endure. Harri made the mistake of asking her sisters their opinions and the two of them hadn’t shut up or agreed on anything for thirty minutes. Harri stopped trying to interfere fifteen minutes ago. She thought maybe if she allowed them to free think, they might accidentally stumble upon something that made sense. So far, nothing like that had surfaced. She wondered just how much longer she should let this go on. Hopefully, not too much longer. It was hard for her to hear herself think with the two of them mattering on. Unfortunately, she couldn’t come up with anything better, so she let them continue. 

Harri checked the clock on her wall and saw that it was approaching three o’clock. If the Heroes left as soon as they heard the news, they could be expected to arrive any minute. They wasted half the afternoon arguing about their plan. Harri wished that she hadn’t wanted to include her sisters in the planning. It was obvious that she was the leader, so she should have had everything planned and instructed them on what to do. Ronnie and Hermi did not like that approach and wanted to be included. So, she lets them, much to her chagrin. 

“Look, why don’t we just kill them the good old fashioned way,” Harri said, speaking louder than both of them. “Why don’t we just kill them with curses? Sure, we could just blast them until they explode, but where’s the fun in that? Why don’t we kill them slowly? Watch them wither away minute by minute?” Ronnie and Hermi grinned as they listened. This was music to their ears. “Yes, we could have loads of fun.” 

“We’ll give each one of them a different curse to maximize our enjoyment,” Ronnie suggested.  

“Yes!” Hermi clapped her hands like a seal. “I love this plan.” 

Harri laughed as she walked into the kitchen and pulled their Book of Curses from the cabinet above the sink. “Alright, sisters! Let’s pick our curses!” She walked back into the living room and set the book on the coffee table. 

Pictures of the Heroes greeted the sisters as Harri opened the book. Ronnie picked up the picture of Reese and scrunched her face. “She’s too pretty. I hate her. Let’s cast the withering curse on her!” Harri and Hermi agreed. 

Harri picked up the picture of Quil and smiled. “Oooh, he’s a looker!” 

“Let me see!” Hermi took the picture out of Harri’s hand and glanced at it. “Tall, dark, and handsome. He is so your type!” 

“Yes, he is.” She snatched the picture back. “What to do with you, my pretty one. You, my pretty wizard will be silenced and befuddled, complete with mind numbing!” She smiled as she imagined the fun she was going to have with him. “And who have your got, Hermi?” 

Hermi picked up Andrada’s picture and hugged it. “She’s beautiful! She’s perfect!” 

Ronnie pouted. “She should get a withering spell as well.” 

Hermi glared at her and said, “I know you’re under the illusion that you have to be the prettiest in all the land, but you’re more than wrong on that point, dear sister.” Ronnie gasped and pouted harder. Hermi returned her gaze to Andrada’s picture. “I think that I would love to preserve her body… in stone.” Harri clapped excitedly for her sister’s ingenious plan. This made Hermi feel great about herself. 

Harri picked up the pictures of Jaco and Everettand held them in front of her face. She wasn’t sure what to do with them. She was getting a strange feeling about them. When she concentrated some of her power on their pictures, she sensed some kind of energy pushing back at her. The more that she focused on it, the more she found her mind began to fog. She had to pull back if she wanted to keep her mental faculties. She set the pictures down before she realized what she was doing. Before long, she found her thoughts drifting back to the other three pictures. 

“I think we’ve done it, sisters,” Harri said, snapping to get their attention. “Now, let us prepare to spring the trap!” 

The three of them huddled around the pictures and chanted the words that would ensnare their victims into a period of misery. They waved their hands over the pictures and objects began to materialize. It was difficult to see the shapes until the hex was complete. The sisters separated to reveal a shiny green and silver dagger, a gold ring with a purple jewel set in it, and leafy garland complete with daisies intertwined in it. The sisters uttered another magic word and the objects disappeared. 

“And now we wait,” Harri said, rubbing her hands together. Her sisters giggled excitedly. Oh, they couldn’t wait for all of the fun to begin. They wouldn’t have to wait for very much longer. Let the games begin. 

*** 

The Heroes arrived in Euclidia exactly when the sisters predicted. They got off the train and sniffed the air. Euclidia was famous for its artisan bread shops so the air was full of the smell of freshly baked bread. This instantly made them hungry. Jaco made an argument to make their way through the marketplace on their way to their first point of investigation. His stomach was rumbling. Quil made the executive order to acquiesce to this request. There was no argument from the others. 

Jaco and Everett received many strange looks as they traversed the marketplace. The two of them were confident enough to ignore them and kept walking with their heads held high. There was no way they were going to feel self-conscious if it meant that they weren’t going to be hexed. Though, Everett did wish that Jaco had allowed him to wear a shirt underneath all of the silver necklaces. They were quite chilly against his skin and they made his nipples harder than rocks, not that it didn’t look appealing. He caught several women checking him out. Yeah, he knew he made this look good. 

The team debated whether they should take a moment to eat something before they started their investigation or wait until after the children were rescued on the off chance they could get a free meal out of it. They were actively in the middle of this conversation when they passed a certain table with a woman wrapped in a black shawl sitting at it. She called out to them. At first, the Heroes ignored her, but when she called Quil by name, this got their attention. 

They approached the table and looked at the woman expectantly. She gazed up at them with her innocent looking green eyes hiding behind thick rimmed glasses with circular lenses. “Oh, I’m so glad I caught you. You look like you’re on a mission of great importance,” said the woman. 

“Yes, ma’am,” Quil replied. “Is there something that you need from me?” The woman looked confused. “You called me by name.” 

“I did? Hmm, imagine that.” The woman rubbed her chin. “I think it’s not a matter of me needing something from you, but rather, you needing something from me.” She gestured to her table. There were three items resting on three small black pillows. The Heroes looked at them and nodded their heads. “See anything that catches your eyes, Master Wizard?” 

Quil chuckled, embarrassed at the reverence. “Oh, I’m not a Master yet.” He placed his hand behind his head and continued to chuckle.  

The woman was amused by his embarrassment. “I’m sure you’ll get there soon. Anything you like, dearie?” She could see that Quil’s eyes had fallen upon the gold ring. She picked it up and held it in her palm. “It is quite lovely, isn’t it?” Quil nodded his head, his eyes were transfixed on it. “It’s been said that it’s supposed to increase a wizard’s powers tenfold.” The wizard’s eyes widened with want. “It’s yours if you want it.” 

“How much?” Quil asked right away. 

“Oh, not much. Just your soul!” the woman said. Quil looked shocked. She laughed. “I was joking. Two gold pieces will be just fine!” 

“You’ve got yourself a deal!” Quil reached into his pocket and pulled out his pouch. He fished in it for two pieces and then gave them to her. She gave him the ring and he immediately put it on. He instantly felt more powerful. “This is awesome.” He turned to Jaco, who did not look as enthused. “Look, babe! Isn’t it pretty.” 

“Gold isn’t really your color,” Jaco teased. He looked at the ring suspiciously. There was something not right about it, but he couldn’t figure out what. 

“And for the elf?” the woman asked. She waved her hand over the garland with a flourish. Reese’s eyes were immediately drawn to it. “Such a pretty crown for such a pretty lady, yes?” 

“Yes, it is pretty,” Reese admitted. “I used to make garlands like these when I was younger.” 

“So, it’s a bit of nostalgia you’re looking for, eh dearie?” The woman daintily lifted the garland from the table and placed it on Reese’s head. She watched as a chill came over her. Reese reached up and readjusted the garland to her liking. A smile came to her face. “You’re an absolute shining delight.” 

“How much for the garland?” Reese asked, reaching for her pouch. 

“Oh, you don’t owe me anything.” The woman giggled and placed her hands on her heart. “Just seeing your beautessence is enough for me.” 

“Beautessence?” Everett repeated. “I don’t think that’s a word.” He exchanged an “Is this for real?” look with Jaco. 

The woman turned to Andrada and saw that she was eyeing the silver and green dagger. “Oh yes, the Dagger of Agathorn, a prize for any warrior.” She picked it up and held it up to Andrada’s face. “Feel the coldness of the steel.” She grabbed Andrada’s left hand and placed her fingers on the edge of the blade. The warrior princess gave a small shiver as she connected with it. “It’s speaking to you, isn’t it?” 

“It’s very shiny,” Andrada said. She loved how cold the steel felt against her fingers. She imagined how great it would feel when she thrusted it into the chest of her enemies. The slickness of the blood as it ran over the blade and wrist would be almost orgasmic. She had to have this dagger. “I need this.” 

“For the low, low price of three gold coins, it can be yours!” The woman gave her a toothy grin. 

Andrada tapped on Quil’s shoulder. “What?” Andrada held out her hand expectantly. Quil looked at it and then slapped it.  

“No, that’s not what I meant,” Andrada said. 

“I know what you meant, Andy, and it’s not happening.” Quil gave her a smug look. “Pay for your own shit.”  

Andrada frowned as she reached for her own money pouch. “I’ll remember this.” She produced three gold coins and gave them to the woman. The woman relinquished her hold on the dagger and smiled as Andrada held it up to her face. “This is awesome! I can’t wait to use this!” 

“Neither can it,” the woman added for dramatics. “It appears you’ve bought me out. I do hope you enjoy your items.” 

“Enjoy them? We love them!” Quil said, holding the ring up to the sunlight. “Are you going to be here later? I hope to see what else you got.” He turned to look at the woman, but she was no longer there. This surprised him. He didn’t even see her leave. He looked to Reese and Andrada to see if they noticed the woman leave, but they were caught up in their items. 

Jaco and Everett didn’t see her leave either. It was as if she vanished into thin air. They must have missed it when they blinked. This made them even more suspicious. 

“I think you should throw those things away,” Jaco suggested. He didn’t like the way that the three of them were looking at their newly bought toys. “There was something not right about that woman.” 

“Yeah, she didn’t even look at my nipples,” Everett joked. He made them more noticeable by rearranging the necklaces.  

“She probably couldn’t even see you because you didn’t reach the top of the table,” Jaco joked. 

“Screw you, wolf boy,” Everett shot back. 

“Oh hush, you two. Let’s get something to eat before the sun sets,” Andrada said. “I wish they had food on the train. I’m starving.” 

The team agreed that food was probably in their best interests. They found a good bakery and ordered some food. Jaco and Everett found the table conversation to be quite lacking since there was none. Quil, Andrada, and Reese were entranced by their items. It was then that Everett decided that those things were bad news. 

“It’s not natural for people to be obsessed like that,” he said to Jaco. “There must be some kind of spell on them… a witch’s spell.” 

“That would explain why there weren’t any items for us, we’re protected.” Jaco picked up a wad of his necklaces and kissed them. “Now to get rid of those things.” Jaco reached over the table to grab Quil’s hand, but Quil pulled his hand back just in the nick of time. Quil gave him an unsettling glare. 

“What do you think you’re doing?” Quil asked. 

“I just wanted to look at it, babe,” Jaco lied. 

“Well, look with your eyes, not your hands.” Quil hesitated to put his hand back on the table, so he readjusted in his seat so that he wasn’t facing it. “It’s my precious.” 

“I thought I was your precious,” Jaco said, teasing. His mood lowered when he saw the confused look on Quil’s face. 

“And you are?” Quil blinked at him for a few moments. Jaco wasn’t sure if Quil was joking or not. “Oh, yes, Franco! Of course you’re my precious. Don’t be silly.” He went back to admiring his ring. There seemed to be a glint in his eyes as he gazed upon its shiny beauty.  

“That’s some effed up ess right there,” Everett said sadly. He looked to Reese and saw that she brushing her long, silky, white blonde hair. This was odd because she wasn’t usually worried about her hair, but it appeared that now she did. She was vigorously pulling the wooden brush through it, so much so that it started to fall out in small clumps. Reese didn’t seem to notice.  

“Reese, girl, stop!” Everett said. He looked for something to throw at her since she was at the other end of the table from him. He picked up a fry and tossed it at her. It hit her in the forehead, but she was otherwise undaunted. He looked for something heavier. Since they were sitting on the patio of the bakery, he found a small pebble on the ground and picked it up. He examined the white pebble carefully, admiring its ‘beautessence’. He deemed it a shame that he would have to toss it at a beautiful elf who was losing her hair. Everyone had their burden to bear.  

He simply flicked the pebble and it sailed across the table and pecked Reese in the forehead. It bounced off and landed on the table. Reese stopped momentarily, blinked, and then went back to brushing. Everett exchanged a worried glance at Jaco.  

Andrada stared at her dagger and smiled dreamily. Jaco stood up and waved his hand in front of Andrada’s face. Her gaze was broken, and she blinked at him. “What?” 

Jaco breathed a sigh of relief. “I thought that you might be under a spell.” He pointed to Quil and Reese. Andrada raised an eyebrow and shook her head. “That’s only within a couple of minutes ago. You three have been making goo goo eyes at your shiny toys and acting really weird. How are you feeling right now?” 

“I feel good.” Andrada casually scratched her elbow. That patch felt flakier than usual, but she didn’t think anything of it. “What are we going to do with them?” 

Jaco shook his head. “I’m not sure. Maybe if we get start the investigation, they will snap out of it?” Everett and Andrada nodded their heads. 

Jaco turned to Quil and said, “Quil, honey? Do you think it’s about time we get started working? We’ve got children to save.”  

It took Quil a lot of effort to tear his eyes away from the ring to look at Jaco, but he did it. He gave him an empty smile and said, “Yes, dear. I think that would be most appropriate. Come on, team! Let’s go get some babies!” 

Everyone stood up from the table and threw away their trash. Jaco and Everett observed Quil and Reese. They seemed to be alright for the moment. They were focused on the task of throwing things away. Jaco hoped if they are actually doing something, then they would be less likely to indulge in their items. That was going to be difficult. 

Quil led the team out into the marketplace and down the main street. Jaco and Everett kept an eye out for any weird, mysterious women wanting to sell them things. They also kept an active eye on their friends. They were sure now more than ever that they had been cursed by one of the witches. It had to be that woman. She obscured herself well, so it would be difficult to recognize her if they saw her again. They would have to be aware of every woman they passed by. How exhausting. 

“I think we should stop by the constable’s office to get the names of the children who were kidnapped,” Quil said. “They might be able to point us in the right direction.” 

Jaco nodded his agreement. 

Everything went well on the way to the constable’s office. No one freaked out or anything. Everyone acted normal. When they entered the office, they asked for the one in charge. Constable Reeves was on duty and approached them. 

“Heroes, I’m glad to see that you’ve come so quickly,” she said. She bowed before them and then shook Quil’s hand, the hand with the ring on it. “Three families have had their children abducted and we’re at a loss at where to find them. There are a lot of rumors that the witches live up on the mountain, but my staff are too afraid to go up there and look.” 

“Don’t worry about it, ma’am… we’ll save those piglets!” Quil said. Constable Reeves looked confused. “What?” 

“Children, Mr. Wizard,” Constable Reeves corrected. 

“Children? Oh no, I’m gay. I’m not going to have children.” Quil chuckled and grabbed Jaco by the arm and pulled him close. “He’s my lover! We’re going to get a farm one day.” 

Constable Reeves looked at Jaco, who only offered an apologetic smile. 

“We’ll go up the mountain to check for the children, ma’am,” Everett said, giving her the sexy eye. He rearranged his necklaces to showcase his chest. She briefly nodded and found something else to look at. 

“Yes. Thanks for the lead,” Jaco said. “Let’s go, Mr. Wizard.” He pulled Quil toward the door. The rest of the team followed. Everett gave Constable Reeves a wink as he exited. She grimaced and waved reluctantly as he closed the door behind him. She rolled her eyes once she was sure he was gone. 

*** 

As the team marched toward the mountain just outside of Euclidia, Jaco noticed that Quil was acting stranger. He would stop to talk to random people about sheep herding. Jaco knew that Quil knew nothing about sheep herding, but it suddenly became his new favorite subject. Then the bleating began. He would ‘baa’ at anyone who looked at him. Jaco knew that he was in no condition to lead the team.  

Normally, Andrada would be second in command, but she wasn’t that focused on the mission either. Jaco noticed that she was really picking at the skin on her elbow. Her skin was flaking off as she scratched. He approached her and asked her how she was doing. She insisted that she was doing fine, but it was obvious to him that was further than the truth. Jaco risked a surreptitious glance at her arm and saw that there were spotty grey patches that traveled up to her shoulders. That couldn’t be good.  

“You might want to get that checked,” Jaco suggested. 

“Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing,” she said. She assumed that she might have had an allergic reaction to something she ate. She assumed otherwise when she got the idea to touch the grey spots. They were hard and rough. She gasped, which startled Jaco. When he asked what was wrong, she said that she was fine. She tried to hide the concern from her face. She wasn’t sure if he bought it or not. Something was wrong with her, but she didn’t know what could have brought this on. She just hoped that she could figure it out before things got too bad. 

It was almost sunset when they left the border of Euclidia. The mountain range lay just before them. The sun was just setting behind them, casting hues of orange and purple into the sky. It would have been a beautiful sight, but for some reason, this was more sinister than met the eye. The idea that witches might be nearby gave the sight a chilling feeling to Jaco and Everett.  

Jaco and Everett took stock of the team: Quil was off his rocker; Reese sang sweetly the songs from her village in Elvish, and Andrada was increasingly itchy. This did not bode well. 

“I’m fine,” Andrada insisted. “I’m going to be okay. Let’s just find those bitches and get those kids.” 

“I don’t think you’ll be any use to us,” Everett replied. “Unless you’re going to flake them to death.” He winced at the sight of Andrada’s skin peeling off with each scratch. “You should really find a cream or something.” 

Andrada was on the cusp of telling him to go fuck himself, but she decided that it was a brilliant suggestion. What would she do about the parts that were turning to stone? What kind of moisturizer would one use for that? 

Jaco was going to suggest that she turn back and take Quil and Reese with her, but the air suddenly turned cold, and the hair on the back of his neck stood up on end. Something dangerous was near. He sniffed the air to see if he could pick up a scent of whatever was nearby. It was then that he smelled three distinct smells, all of them with hints of cinnamon. He instantly knew what the threat was. Before he could alert the team, the sound of cackling startled him.  

Everyone looked up at the first mountain and saw the three witches they were after. They stood on a ledge above them staring down at them. They were all wearing different colored dresses. The one in the middle, Harri, was wearing a red dress, the one to her left, Hermi, was wearing green, the one to her right, Ronnie, was wearing blue.  

“Oh, it’s the Heroes of Lunde! I do hope that you are enjoying the gifts I provided you,” Harri said, tossing her red hair over her shoulder. “They seem to be doing their jobs. I couldn’t be happier. Now to take care of you once and for all!”  

“You witch!” Everett shouted.  

Jaco turned to Everett with a smirk. “How original.” 

“Meh,” and a shrug was the response.

To be continued…

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks! 


Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 22

Episode 22: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part VII: Obsidia

As the mask touched Sundance’s face, yellow light poured from every crack: the eyes, the lips, and the sides. The crowd cheered and jumped about as their god was made flesh! Astralyn and Timmy looked up and saw that there was nothing they could do to stop it.

Sundance fell to his knees and panted from behind the mask. The light slowly faded away. Iphigenia ran to his side. “Master, are you alright?”

Sundance slowly looked up at the crowd and chuckled. Everyone stared at him, waiting for him to say something, Astralyn and Timmy especially. He stood up and raised his hands into the air. “I have never felt better. I AM OBSIDIA!” His voice was a soft hiss instead of Sundance’s usual timbre.

The people cheered.

“Sundance,” Astralyn moaned. She lowered her head in despair. She had lost him. She had come so close only to be denied.

“Guards, bring the intruders to me,” Iphigenia commanded. The guards picked Timmy and Astralyn up from the floor and pushed them through the crowd. Astralyn struggled the entire way and when she looked up at Iphigenia, she looked exhausted and angry. “You have caused us quite a bit of trouble, maiden.” She reached down and held Astralyn’s chin. Astralyn jerked it away. “I think a sacrifice is in order, do you not, Master?”

“I haven’t had a good sacrifice in ages,” Obsidia said. He rubbed his hands, or rather Sundance’s hands.

“Send them to the Pit of Eternal Flames!” Iphigenia pointed to a dark hallway to her left. “Burn them! Burn them!”

“Oh god, not another pit,” Timmy moaned.

“This one even has flames,” Astralyn added.

“Terrific.”

The crowd began to chant “Burn them! Burn them!” as they carried Timmy and Astralyn away.

“WAIT!”

The crowd stopped and looked back to see Obsidia pointing at them. Timmy and Astralyn hoped against hope that Sundance had returned.

“Bring me the woman…” Obisidia hissed. “She will be my slave.”

“Excellent choice, Master,” Iphigenia said. She waved the command to bring Astralyn back.

The crowd carried Timmy towards the Pit of Eternal Flames while chanting their desire to burn him. They quickly tied him up and attached him to a pulley system. A man cranked the pulley and Timmy was raised into the air.  He struggled against his bounds as he dangled helplessly above the open pit of fire.

“Astralyn!” Timmy shouted.

Astralyn reached the stage with her hands tied. The guard shoved her down next to the table. Obsidia and Iphigenia sat down to enjoy the event. Iphigenia sent Astralyn a smug look before returning her attention to the spectacle that was Timmy’s demise.

Astralyn stared at the mask that sat on Sundance’s face and examined it. There wasn’t anything keeping it attached other than pure evil. She looked up and saw that the people were slowly lowering Timmy into the pit.

“Sundance…” Astralyn whispered. “Sundance, snap out of it! Look at what they’re doing to Timmy.” There was no response. “Sundance! You don’t want to do this. You have to fight it!”

Astralyn wriggled her hands and eventually freed herself from the ropes. She swiftly reached up and made a grab for the mask. A spark of electricity zapped her hands and threw her back. “What the…”

Iphigenia let out a sick chuckle as she stood up and walked over to her. “You didn’t think Obsidia would be taken down that easy, did you?”

“Actually, I kinda did.” Astralyn rolled her eyes and awaited her fate.

————

Sundance woke up when he heard someone say his name. He opened his eyes and found that he was in a dark space. Again. “I really need to stop waking up like this. Hello?” He sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Hello?”

“Sundance,” said a soft voice.

“Yes?”

“Captain Sundance Starmont!”

“That’s my name, yes… very good.” Sundance was starting to get annoyed. “I am Captain Sundance D’Artagnan Starmont. Anything else?” Sundance looked around for any sign of the mysterious floating voice.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Captain.” There was a certain amount of venom in the pronunciation of ‘captain’.

“Well, I’m still waiting. Come out here and face me!”

The sound of leaking air surrounded him in the darkness. A light suddenly shone from above. Standing right next to him was a tall man wearing a black mask, black suit with a red cape. Sundance jumped away from him and yelped. He clutched his chest and panted.

“Who the hell are you?” Sundance asked. “Where the hell am I?”

The man pointed to Sundance’s head. He then cocked his head to the left. The mask stared at him quizzically, even though its blank expression never changed. “Do you not realize who I am?” Sundance shook his head. “Well, I have to admit, I’m a little hurt.” He placed his hands on his heart. “And to think that I requested you specifically.”

Sundance raised an eyebrow. “You requested me?”

“You don’t think it’s a coincidence that you arrived on this planet, do you?” The man stepped forward. Sundance took a step back. “Oh, you did, didn’t you? That’s adorable.”

Sundance reached for his laser pistol, but it wasn’t there. “I’m going to ask you again. Who are you?”

“I’m the great and powerful Obsidia, obviously,” the man hissed with a flourish of his cape. “And you are now my slave.”

“I’m no one’s slave!” Sundance growled.

Obsidia raised his left hand and patted his head. Sundance found himself doing the same as well. When Obsidia placed his right hand on his stomach and rubbed it, Sundance copied him. Obsidia’s raspy laugh echoed all around them.

“You see, your body is mine.” Obsidia stopped the rubbing. “But don’t worry. It won’t last long.”

“What does that mean?” Sundance asked.

“This isn’t my first rodeo.” Obsidia replied. “As the true essence of my power flows into you, your body will burn away, just as Timmy’s will in a few moments.”

“Timmy?” Sundance clenched his fists. “What about Timmy? If you hurt him…”

“There isn’t a thing you can do about it!” Obsidia cackled hoarsely. “It’s showtime. Goodbye, Sunny.” In the blink of an eye Obsidia was gone.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 23!

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 21

Episode 21: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part VI: Pit of Unbelievers

Astralyn led Sundance through the halls of the temple in the hopes of not running into any trouble. She had placed the hood over her face so that no one would identify her as a stranger. Sundance walked drunkenly behind her.

A few cult members walked past them and they just nodded at them. Astralyn was beginning to feel better about this escape. Hopefully, Timmy would have finished the repairs and they could get the hell out of there. This caused her to walk a little bit quicker.

They were just about to reach the main hall when they heard, “Chosen One, there you are.” Iphigenia’s voice caused both of them to stop. “Leaving us so soon?”

Sundance turned around and waved at her and chuckled awkwardly. Astralyn froze with her back to Iphigenia, trying to decide if they should make a run for it.

“There’s no use running.” As Iphigenia spoke, cult members arrived and blocked their exit. Astralyn reached for the laser pistol, not afraid to shoot them down. “I wouldn’t do that either.” Iphigenia swiftly walked over to Astralyn and held her arm. She angrily ripped the hood off, revealing Astralyn’s face. Iphigenia smirked as she took the laser pistol from her.

“You thought that you just could waltz in here and take him from me, didn’t you?” Iphigenia made a mock pouty face before she laughed in Astralyn’s face. “Seize her and take her to the Pit of the Unbelievers!”

Two buff men stepped forward and grabbed Astralyn’s arms.

“Sundance, do something!” Astralyn shouted as she struggled.

“I’m afraid he won’t be doing much of anything.” Iphigenia walked over to Sundance and looked into his eyes. Green and white light flashed from her eyes and hypnotized the captain into submission. He fell to his knees in a daze. “He’s mine now.” She looked at Astralyn and gloated. “Sound the drums. The Ceremony is taking place early this year.” She and the cult members left for the main hall and the two men took Astralyn away.

——-

“Please don’t do this,” Astralyn pleaded to the guard. She stood before a huge black hole in the ground. She couldn’t tell how far it was to the bottom, but she knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant trip. The guard shoved her hard into the hole and she screamed on her way down.

The ground came much sooner than Astralyn anticipated. She landed on her back and immediately pain paralyzed her. All the air left her body. They could have at least had a pillow down here. It’s like they don’t even care, she thought. 

Feeling slowly returned to her and she was able to sit up. She looked up at the surface and saw that the guard didn’t stick around to see if she had broken her neck. That’s not a good sign. The growl that she heard come from somewhere in the hole confirmed this fact.

“Hello?” she asked. She knew better than to expect a human response. She reached for the laser pistol and remembered that Iphigenia had taken it. “Man, when I get out of here, I’m going to kick her ass.”

Astralyn blinked her eyes and found that she could see that there was a tunnel attached to the pit. Something from within growled at her. She heard something moving inside, heavy footsteps, something with four feet.

Above ground, the drums started up again. The Ceremony was getting ready to take place. 

Inside the pit, the creature let out another growl. Astralyn backed up against the wall and wondered how many others had been thrown in here. She looked for the remains of the other victims and was disturbed by the sheer lack of remnants. Either they cleaned the pit regularly or the creature left nothing behind.

A large bear like creature stomped out of the tunnel and roared. It sniffed in Astralyn’s direction. Its interest was piqued. Saliva and goo dripped from its mouth.

“Nice kitty,” Astralyn said. With her back against the wall, she crept to the left. The bear creature followed her with its pitch black eyes. It took another step towards her. “Bad kitty!”

The bear creature took a swipe at her with its massive claws. Astralyn ducked and rolled out of the way. On her back, she crawled away from the creature, but it walked faster than she could move. The creature batted at her and threw her against the wall to her right.

The force with which she hit the wall caused everything to turn white. She blinked her eyes frantically in the hopes her vision would return. She didn’t like the idea of not being able to see the bear creature.

She got down on her knees and tried to become as small as possible. She heard the creature give a short grunt. It pounded its front paws into the dirt, as if preparing to attack. She wanted to panic, not knowing which way she should run. Fortunately, her eyes were beginning to recover.

“Catch!” cried a voice on the surface.

Astralyn looked up and saw a shiny silver object fall into the pit. It landed by the creature. She looked at it and then up at the surface. She saw someone point to the object, but couldn’t discern who it was.

“Here goes nothing,” Astralyn said to herself. As the bear creature ran toward her with its claws ready to shred, Astralyn ran to the right and quickly crawled to the object. It was a laser pistol. Perfect!

Just as the bear creature prepared for another attack, Astralyn set the gun to KILL and fired the shot. The creature roared and fell to the ground dead. Astralyn breathed a sigh of relief. She looked up at the surface to see who rescued her. There she saw Timmy waving down at her.

“Timmy, you son of a gun! Where did you come from?” Astralyn asked. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see you, but what about the ship?”

“Fixed.” Timmy looked around the chamber and found a ladder resting against a wall. “Hang on tight.” He lifted the ladder and lowered it into the pit. Astralyn quickly climbed up. She looked down to make sure that the creature was really dead. She, then, hugged Timmy.

“Now to get Sundance. By the way, the robe looks nice on you.” Astralyn led Timmy through the halls until they reached the main hall.

People were once again gathered there and their attention was fixed on the stage where Iphigenia and Sundance stood dressed in red ceremonial robes. She held the black mask in her hands.

“And now, this mask will bring forth our god, Obsidia! COME FORTH!” Iphigenia raised the mask above her head and prepared to place it on Sundance.

“NO!” Astralyn took out the pistol and aimed. The guards were quickly upon her and threw her to the floor. Timmy dove for the pistol, but he, too, was apprehended just long enough for Iphigenia place the Obsidian Mask onto Sundance’s face.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 22

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 20

Episode 20: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part V: The Chosen One

The people in the crowd continued to chant “Obsidia! Obsidia! Obsidia!”. The woman standing next to Astralyn turned to give her more information on the ceremony, but Astralyn was no longer there.

Astralyn pushed her way up to the front of the table and began to shout at Sundance. “Sundance! Sundance! It’s Astralyn!” But Sundance was too busy staring at the maidens to pay attention. She rolled her eyes and considered climbing up on the platform. She assumed only the Chosen One and his attendants were allowed up there and she would be torn apart for even daring to approach. The time was not now. She would have to wait for the right moment.

She turned her back to Sundance and pushed her way to the back of the crowd. When she reached the back wall, she surreptitiously pulled her communicator out of her robe.

“Timmy, I found Sundance.”

“Astralyn! Thank God. I was beginning to get worried,” Timmy whispered back. “Is he okay?”

“Yeah, he’s fine.” Astralyn looked up and saw that Sundance was now partaking in a hand fed banana. “I’m going to go collect him and then we’ll be back.”

“Good luck,” Timmy said.

Astralyn turned off the communicator. She stayed in the back and watched the festivities commence. She couldn’t take her eyes off Sundance. He looked so happy being up there and this irritated her. Didn’t he realize what was going to happen to him? Why was he having such a good time?

Thirty minutes passed and the party broke up. Sundance was being led off the stage by the woman in the black robe and her maidens. Astralyn knew that now was the time to act.

She joined the maidens as they placed their robes back on and followed them. They soon arrived at a room with two large metallic doors.

“This is where you will be staying tonight,” the woman in the black robe said. “I hope that you will find your room to be most satisfactory.”

“Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me, Iphigenia,” Sundance said. It sounded like he had been drinking.

“Not to worry.” Iphigenia caressed his face and gave him a kiss on the cheek. It was everything Astralyn could do to keep from revealing herself and punching both of them. “I will see you in the morning.” She walked away and just as she was about to pass Astralyn, she stopped and said, “Please take extra care of him tonight. He’s our special guest.”

Astralyn, without missing a beat replied, “Yes, mistress,” and bowed. She watched Iphigenia walk away and thought, I sure will.

The maidens opened the doors which gave a low moan as they swung inward. Sundance was escorted inside and Astralyn quickly followed. The room was lit in a lovely sky blue. The walls were covered in sheer white cloth. There was a white fluffy bed in the center of the room. Just before it was a blue couch complete with cushions made of silk. The maidens set him down on the couch.

“Oh, this is nice,” Sundance said, feeling the cushions. “How much do you think it costs for these pillows?”

The maidens giggled but said nothing. They promptly began to massage his arms, his chest, his thighs. Astralyn just stood there, the hood cloaking her irritation.

“You ladies don’t have to do this, you know.” Sundance tried to wave them away, but he didn’t try too hard.

The maiden at his feet slowly took off his boots while the maidens at his head reached down and pulled his uniform over his head. Another maiden retrieved a pitcher full of orange oil and poured it over Sundance’s smooth chest. When the maidens got around to removing his shorts, Astralyn turned around.

“There’s no need to be shy, lady,” Sundance said.

“You could try resisting just a little bit more,” Astralyn said.

“Astralyn?”

She turned around and revealed herself. She averted her eyes and concentrated on Sundance’s face. “Well, aren’t you pleased as punch? Nevermind. We have to get out of here. They’re going to make you into some kind of God and it’s not going to be pretty.”

“I know,” Sundance said, holding his arms at his side. The maidens were quick to oil them. “I keep trying to tell them they don’t need to do that, but Iphigenia insists.”

“On a first name basis are you?” Astralyn walked over to Sundance and tried to pull him from his seat, but he slipped through her hands. “Sundance.”

“Look, I’m being anointed with oil! I’ve never been anointed before.”

“You’re being quite annoying.” Astralyn couldn’t help herself. “Iphigenia is going to kill you if I don’t get you out of here. Timmy is waiting for us.”

“Iphi? She wouldn’t do that,” Sundance countered. “She’s been nothing but nice to me.” He flexed his right arm and the maidens were quick to oil it some more. “She said that they were waiting for me. This is why I’m here.”

“To have scantily clad women ‘anoint’ you?” Astralyn seethed. “Why do I find that hard to believe?”

“I’m sure they have some nice studly men to rub you down if you ask nicely.”

“I’ll pass.” Astralyn felt their time was running short. “We need to get out of here. If you don’t come peacefully, I’ll have to stun you and drag you back to the ship myself.”

Sundance gave a sad look to the maidens and sighed. “Alright. Sorry ladies. She seems really upset. I think I should go.” He stood up and slipped his shorts back on. One of the maidens handed him back his shirt. After he put on his shirt, he and Astralyn opened the doors and left the room.

——–

Iphigenia stood in front of her mirror as it turned black. The waves rippled as the soft voice hissed from between them. “You have Captain Sundance in your possession, correct?”

“Yes, Master,” Iphigenia replied. “He is being made ready for the Ceremony tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” hissed the voice. “Do it tonight!”

Iphigenia looked confused. “But, Master, the ceremony is always…”

“TONIGHT!” The mirror quickly brightened as Iphigenia’s reflection became visible. It was the voice’s final word. She had no choice.

Iphigenia walked out of her room and headed down the hallway to Sundance’s room. When she arrived, she saw that he was no longer there. “Where is he?” she asked the maidens. They pointed to the door. “I want him found now! Tonight he dies!”

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 21

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 19

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Sundance meets the cultist leader Iphigenia, who quickly forcefully seduces him to do her bidding.


Episode 19: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part IV: The Vessel

Astralyn sat in Sundance’s chair and watched Timmy work. She held the communicator in her hands and waited for Sundance to report in, but it had been almost an hour since his last check in. “Something’s gone wrong. I can feel it.”

“The captain’s probably on his way back,” Timmy suggested.

Astralyn shook her head and stood up. “No, I think he’s in trouble otherwise he would have checked in or been back already. I’m going out there.”

Timmy sat up and bumped his head on the console. He cursed and rubbed his forehead. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. The captain said that we should stick together.”

“Well, I can’t sit here and wait around anymore,” said Astralyn. She walked over to the cabinet by the door and pulled out another communicator. She tossed it to Timmy, who caught it for a second and then dropped it into his lap. “I’ll keep close radio contact and alert you if I’m in any danger.”

“I should probably come with you,” Timmy said, standing up. “I don’t think you should go out there alone. Who knows where we are and what’s out there?”

“We’re on the third planet of the Venga Star System, and Sundance is out there somewhere.” Timmy smiled at having his own response thrown back at him. “You stay here and fix the controls. I’ll be back soon.”

Timmy smiled and said, “You sound just like him.” Timmy pulled his laser pistol from his side holster and handed it to Astralyn. “You should take this, just in case. Be careful.”

Astralyn nodded and placed the pistol in her jacket pocket. She opened the back door and stepped outside. As she closed the door, she noticed that the ground was muddy. She wished that she had worn different shoes instead of her executive heels. She was thankful that she wasn’t wearing a dress today.

She looked down to see if she could see any footprints that Sundance might have left. When she found them, she followed them into the jungle, but the trail ended there. The shoulder height grass made it difficult to find anything. She did her best to look for branches that might have been cut the further into the jungle she got. She wasn’t much of a tracker, but she had learned a little bit from the survivalist books her father had left her.

Astralyn didn’t like how eerily silent the jungle was. She thought it peculiar that not even birds were singing. She hadn’t seen any animals, nor did she want to run into any.

Straining her ears for any sounds at all, she stopped when she heard the splashing of water. She ducked down into the grass and moved closer. She saw people gathering water at a lake. Sundance must have made his report from here, she thought. She looked beyond the lake and found the temple Sundance had mentioned earlier.

“Timmy, I found the temple,” Astralyn whispered into the communicator. “I’m going in to see if Sundance is inside.” She turned the device off before Timmy could reply.

She silently made her way around the lake and observed some of the robe clad men talking to each other. They must have made some kind of joke because they both laughed.

The sound of drums began to emanate from the red temple. The men dropped their buckets and headed back towards it. When they passed her, Astralyn jumped out of the grass and shot both of them with the laser pistol. Stunned, both of them fell to the ground. She pulled the men off the trail they were on and into the tall grass. Knowing she would need a disguise, she quickly disrobed one of the men and put it on herself. She chose to ignore the smell. She pulled the hood over her face and swiftly made her way into the temple.

The temple was lit by torches on the walls. She followed the dark hallway until it opened up into a large room. There were ink drawings on the walls and several of them were of a haunting black face, similar to masks found on the continent of Africa on Old Earth.

A large crowd of people were present. Some were facing the front of the room where a black mask sat on a pedestal. They were on their knees, bowing and praying to it. The others were facing a long table full of food and candles. What caught Astralyn’s attention were the people sitting at the table. There was a woman wearing a black robe and next to her was Sundance, eating some grapes that were being fed to him by maidens.

“Bingo,” she whispered to herself.

Astralyn joined the crowd and made her way toward the table. She hoped that Sundance would see her, but he was distracted by the scantily clad maidens. He looked like he was having the time of his life. She rolled her eyes as she pretended this didn’t bother her.

“My followers! My people!” The woman in the black robe stood up and walked behind Sundance. She placed her hands on his chest and rubbed him. “I have convened with the stars and the heavens. They have told me that this man will be our Chosen One this year. He has been selected and brought to us from another world. The Ceremony will be glorious and our god, Obsidia will walk among us once more!”

“Obsidia! Obsidia! Obsidia!” the people chanted. They raised their arms in the air and swayed. Not wanting to look out of place, Astralyn did the same.

She leaned over to the person to her left and whispered. “The Ceremony? What is that?”

The woman turned to her and smiled. “Oh, you must have just joined. Every year, a Chosen One is picked to become the vessel for our god, Obsidia.”

“A vessel?”

“Yes, though it doesn’t last long,” the woman replied. “The power is so great that the body will soon burn and release Obsidia back to the heavens. It’s a glorious occasion. That man is very lucky.”

Astralyn returned her gaze to the carefree Sundance and gulped. “Yep, he’s lucky alright.”

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 20!

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 18

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Against Astralyn’s advice, Sundance leaves the StarTango to explore the planet and successfully gets himself captured by the residing cultists.


Episode 18: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part III: Green Eyes

“I should have gone with him,” Astralyn said. She held the yellow communicator in her hands and waited for Sundance to say something else. “I should have gone with him.”

“He’s going to be fine.” Timmy sat up from underneath his console and sighed. “The captain will be back before you know it.”

Astralyn shook her head. “I don’t know about that. If what he said is true, something brought us here and I think it’s lurking around out there.”

“I can’t argue with that,” Timmy replied. “But I assure you that the captain can take care of himself.” He laid back down and continued working.

“You sure have a lot of faith in him,” noted Astralyn.

“He’s never given me a reason not to.”

Astralyn stared at the back door and debated whether she should go out there and try to find Sundance. She took another step towards the door and placed her hand on it. She looked back at Timmy and saw how calm he was. He didn’t appear to be worried. She paused and stepped away from the door. She figured maybe she should take a page from him and just relax. Little did she know, Timmy was getting that feeling in his stomach.

——-

Deep inside the temple, a woman sat in her dressing room, which was decorated in the furs of the animals that inhabit the jungle. She had light brown skin, long black hair that was done up in a beehive. She wore a long black robe, which she opened just enough to reveal her cleavage. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and admired her green eyes. As she checked her hair, she saw that her reflection began to fade away to black. She rolled her eyes and straightened her posture. This couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“What is it this time?” she asked.

The mirror began to ripple like dark water. A soft voice slithered between the waves. “Are you ready, Iphigenia?”

“Ready? I’ve been ready for weeks,” she replied. “The others are ready to begin the Transference Ceremony.”

“Perfect.” The ripples quivered rapidly. “Your Chosen One has been apprehended. He is coming to you now.”

There was a knock on the door to the dressing room. Iphigenia looked behind her just as two men in robes entered carrying an unconscious man.

“Is this who you’re talking about?” She turned back to the mirror, but all she saw was her reflection. “Of course.”

“We found him snooping around outside,” one of the men said. “What do you want us to do with him?”

Iphigenia looked to her bed and the men immediately knew what to do. Once they threw him onto the bed, the men bowed and then left the room. She stood up from her seat and sashayed over to her bed.

“So, you’re the Chosen One, huh?” Iphigenia looked down at the captain and admired him from top to bottom; she particularly enjoyed the pink shorts. “He always sends the best.”

She sat down on the bed and began to caress Sundance’s hair. This caused him to wake up. He lifted his head and the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was Iphigenia’s cleavage. He jerked his head back and rubbed his eyes. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy the view, it was the last thing he expected to see.

“Hello!” Sundance exclaimed. His eyes quickly darted to whom the bountiful bosom belonged to.

“Hello, Captain.” Iphigenia smiled at him and lifted him up from his sleeping position. “Do not worry. My followers found you in the jungle and brought you here to me.”

“Tell your followers that I’m very grateful.” Sundance trained his eyes to stay on her face. “Who, pray tell, are you?”

“I am Iphigenia, leader of the Obsidian Clan,” she replied. She smiled at him.

“Leader, huh?” Sundance attempted to roll off the bed, but Iphigenia held him in place. “Look, I didn’t mean to trespass. My ship was brought here and I was just looking around to see…”

Iphigenia placed her index finger on his lips and shushed him. “There’s no need to apologize. Your coming has been foretold. You are our Chosen One.” She started to caress his face. She could see the combination of discomfort and arousal in his eyes. “There’s no need to fear. I am going to take good care of you.”

“As much as I would like to stay and enjoy your hospitality,” Sundance took her hands and placed them on her lap. “I have a crew to get back to. They’re waiting for me.”

“Don’t you worry about them.” Sundance didn’t like the slight smirk on her face. She placed her hands on his shoulder, keeping him in place.

“No, no, I don’t think you understand.” Sundance tried to remove her hands, but they were suddenly like stone.

“No, you don’t understand.” She pushed him onto his back and climbed on top of him.

“Umm, do the words, ‘No means no’ mean anything to you?” Sundance tried to push her off, but once he looked into her eyes, all of his strength slowly faded away. His arms fell limply to his sides. The only thing he could do was look up into her eyes. They started to flash green and white. Sundance felt his thoughts of leaving, of Astralyn, of Timmy slip away. When his mind was a complete blank, his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he passed out. Iphigenia climbed off of him in triumph. He was hers now.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 19!

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

Perils of S.P.A.C.E Episode 17

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: After confronting Doctor Hartnell about the Minos Cube, Sundance, Timmy, and Astralyn are ready to go home and relax, but the StarTango becomes hijacked and taken to the Venga Star System on a crash course with a nearby planet.


Episode 17: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part II: Three Hour Tour

The StarTango dove straight into the planet’s atmosphere. The ship began to rock violently back and forth as it continued to plummet towards the surface. The nose of the ship was engulfed in flames, indicating the shields weren’t working at full capacity. 

Astralyn buckled her seat belt and prepared for the worst. Sundance and Timmy continued to try to regain control but the computer rejected their codes. They finally gave up and buckled their seat belts.

The ship passed through the atmosphere in one piece and the fire gave way to clouds. Once they were through the clouds, they could see the surface of the planet. It looked like it was a tropical planet complete with tall, green, leafy trees. The view would have been more breathtaking if there wasn’t the immediate threat of losing all capability of breathing altogether.

The StarTango navigated itself towards a clearing free of trees. As it neared the clearing, it slowed down and leveled off, and then gently touched ground. The engines turned off as if someone had just taken the key out of the ignition. Sundance and Timmy exchanged relieved glances and sighed in unison.

“Well, that went well,” Astralyn said as she unbuckled her seat belt. “Is it ironic the ship’s best landing was accomplished without Sundance at the helm?”

“Har de har har,” Sundance muttered.

Timmy leaned over and kissed the console. “We’re alive!” He hugged it tightly.

“Where are we?” Sundance asked. He unbuckled himself and stood up. He looked out the windshield and saw the jungle in front of them. He scoffed and said, The landscaper needs to be fired.”

“We’re on the third planet of the Venga Star System,” Timmy replied. “It’s always the third planet. Never the fourth.”

Sundance stared at the trees with intense curiosity. Astralyn didn’t like the looks of it.

“Can we take off again?” Astralyn looked to Timmy, who was still hugging his console. He sat up and tried to input the ignition sequence, but the computer stayed dormant. “Shoot.”

“How long do you think it’ll take to fix it?” asked Sundance.

“It depends on how extensive the damage is. It could take an hour, maybe three.” Timmy crawled underneath his console and prepared to give Sundance an answer, but he walked away.

“Perfect.” Sundance stepped away from his seat and headed for the back door of the ship. He checked his hip to make sure his trusty laser pistol was there.

“Where are you going?” Astralyn asked, following him.

“I want to take a look around this place.” The smile on Sundance’s face was akin to a child’s face when told that he was going to an amusement park. “I feel that we were brought here for a reason, I want to know why.”

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Who knows where we are?”

“I do. Third planet in the Venga Star System,” Timmy called out from underneath his console.

“Who knows what’s out there?”

“Trees.” Sundance smirked. “I just want to look around for a bit. I’ll be okay.” He walked over to a small cabinet just to the left of the door and pulled out a yellow box-like gadget. “This is my communicator. Timmy has one, too. I’ll keep in close contact.” Astralyn looked down at Sundance’s short pink shorts and wondered where he was going to put the communicator. “I won’t be gone too long. Timmy, you contact me as soon as you’re done.” Timmy gave him the thumbs up signal. “Astralyn, you stay here with Timmy. I’ll be right back.”

He waved the communicator in Astralyn’s face as he opened the back door. He stepped outside into the humid air and shut the door behind him. 

Astralyn felt in her chest that nothing good was going to come of this venture.

——

Sundance, excited to be away from the ship, ventured happily into the wilderness. He looked up into the green sky and saw the dark clouds that loomed overhead. He trudged his way through the tall grass and into the jungle. He hacked at the long branches that impeded his progress. For the moment, there was nothing of any real interest to look at. He reported back to Timmy and Astralyn as he promised, then he pressed forward.

After thirty more minutes of traipsing around, he finally stumbled upon a lake. There were several people dressed in white robes assembled there. Now this is interesting, Sundance thought. He crouched down into the grass and watched the people. They seemed to be collecting buckets of water. Okay, maybe not that interesting. A group of three left the lake carrying two buckets of water each. Where are they going? He was intrigued.

As stealthily as he could, he followed them until they reached a large musty, red pyramid structure. A stairway led them to a dark entrance where the water bearers disappeared.

Sundance turned on his communicator and whispered into it. “I found something. There are people living here! I followed them to a strange pyramid temple of some kind.”

“A temple?” Astralyn’s voice said. “What kind of temple?”

Sundance jumped at the sound of her voice and quickly turned the volume down. He waited for a few seconds to make sure no one else was around. “I don’t know. The people were wearing robes. Maybe it’s some kind of monastery.”

“That’s great, Sundance. You should probably get back here,” suggested Astralyn.

Sundance sighed. He knew she was probably right, but his curiosity won out. He turned off the communicator and stuffed it in the back of his shorts. He ducked down when he heard the sound of more people passing by. When they passed him, he stood up and turned to leave. It was then  he noticed two men in white robes standing in his way.

“Hello, gentlemen,” Sundance said. “I was hoping you might be able to…” He didn’t get to finish his sentence. One of the men took out a long tube and blew into it. Sundance felt a sharp sting on his neck. “That was rude.” His body began to tingle and then there was nothing.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 18!

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 16

Episode 16: Cult of the Obsidian Mask, Part I: Change of Plans

“I really don’t know what to tell you,” Doctor Hartnell said. He was surprised to see Sundance, Astralyn, and Timmy standing in his messy office in the Destin Museum once again. “I didn’t even really know what it did.” He looked desperately at his desk in hopes of finding something else to look at. After listening to what they said happened to them, he felt incredibly guilty. “I was just told to order it and contact you, Ms. Winner.”

Sundance’s right eyebrow raised. “Who told you to order it?”

“I don’t know,” the doctor said. He wrung his hands nervously. “I didn’t ask his name.”

“Could you describe him?” Timmy asked.

“I never saw him.” Doctor Hartnell fished around his desk drawers for a piece of paper. He pulled a few out and inspected them. When he determined that they were not the papers he sought, he shoved them back into the drawer. “There was an invoice…” He continued to fish around, embarrassed that other people were witnessing his filth. He pulled out a yellow piece of paper and held it up. “Here it is. This is the purchase order that was sent to me.” He handed it to Astralyn, who in turn handed it to Sundance.

“The Commander?” Sundance asked. “Who is that?”

“I didn’t ask questions,” Doctor Hartnell replied.

“I’m starting to get that impression,” Sundance added.

“Look, I’m dreadfully sorry for what happened to you, and Daniel and Petrina, but there’s only so much you can blame on me.” The doctor stood up and clenched his hands nervously. He needed to get away. He was on the verge of saying too much if this line of questioning continued. He attempted to avoid their gaze as he began to sweat. “Daniel and Petrina weren’t supposed to touch the box… I’m glad to see she’s okay. I was only following orders.”

“From the Commander,” Sundance reiterated. Doctor Hartnell nodded. Sundance could tell by the way the doctor was eyeing the exit that they weren’t going to get any more information from him. “That will be all for now, Doctor. Don’t leave the galaxy.”

Sundance led Astralyn and Timmy out of the office. He could hear the good doctor breathe a sigh of relief as he collapsed back into his chair.

“Well, was that as awkward for you as it was for me?” Astralyn asked.

“A tad bit,” answered Timmy. He did not like the idea of being near that man, or even being in the museum. “Did you see the way he was sweating?”

Sundance still held the invoice and looked at the signature of ‘The Commander’. What did that mean? He hoped that Admiral Graves could make some sense of it.

——

The StarTango took off from the surface of Destin and flew out of the atmosphere. Sundance punched in the coordinates for New Earth and let the ship do the flying. He couldn’t get the words ‘The Commander’ out of his mind. He had a nagging sense that it was important, but for the life of him, he couldn’t remember why.

“The first thing I’m going to do is take a nice long shower,” Astralyn said, running her fingers through her blonde hair. “Running from a giant minotaur will do that to you.”

“I suppose a shower wouldn’t be too bad,” Timmy agreed. “Captain, what about you?”

Sundance shook his head. He didn’t want a shower; he just wanted to go to bed. While he enjoyed piloting the StarTango, it was an old clunker by today’s standards. Most of the newer model ships were miniature battleships, complete with Captain’s Quarters and rooms for guests. The StarTango only had the cockpit and a couple of passenger seats. Sundance really could have used the Captain’s Quarters now.

“Captain.” Timmy tapped Sundance on the shoulder. He was unresponsive, so Timmy tried again. “Captain.”

“What is it, Timmy?” Sundance suddenly snapped back into the present.

“The autopilot is acting strange, sir.” Timmy looked down at the controls and tried to make sense of the direction they were heading. “Did you mean to program the ship to head into the Venga Star System?”

“No, I didn’t.” Sundance looked down at the controls and saw that they were veering off course. “Or at least I don’t remember setting that course.” He punched in the code to abort the autopilot, but the code didn’t take. Sundance cocked his head to the right and tried again. He even pressed each of the keys pointedly and slowly to make sure he was hitting the correct keys. The code was denied.

Astralyn picked up on the captain’s perplexed look and leaned over Sundance’s shoulder. “Is there a problem?”

“No, there’s no problem,” Sundance lied.

Timmy gave Sundance a disapproving look and turned to Astralyn. “We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with the autopilot. It’s not going where it’s supposed to be going.”

“I hate it when that happens,” Astralyn said. “Is there anything I can do?”

“No, you just sit back, Princess,” Sundance joked. “We’ll have this sorted out in a minute.” Sundance continued to enter his code into the computer and the computer continued to deny his request. He turned to Timmy and nodded.

Timmy quickly began punching in his code. The computer dismissed his code outright. “It’s got us completely locked out, Captain.” He slid out of his seat and ducked under the main console. There were many multicoloured wires and plugs, all flashing at him. He shook his head and sighed. “It’s a hot mess down here, Captain. I think someone messed with the control panel while we were in the Minos Cube.”

“The ship is being piloted by someone else.” Sundance watched his computer display as more coordinates for a far off location were entered in by what seemed to be an invisible hand.

Timmy sat back in his seat. “I can probably fix it, but it’s going to take me awhile.” He looked out the window and saw that they were quickly approaching a dark green planet. “Oh, that’s not good news.”

Sundance shook his head and sighed. “Everyone grab something and brace for impact!”

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 17

Hey! Thanks for reading! If you’d like to ensure I keep motivated to create content like this, please consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon! It would be super special awesome! Many thanks!