Chapter 34: Until We Meet Again
The male silverwings chose to listen to Frieda. With Plato leading them, they poured out of the cave while the females stayed behind. Melody was about to follow after them when Ariel stopped her.
"Don't Melody. Leave it to the males," she held onto the girl's shoulders. "It's dangerous out there."
Melody smiled at Ariel's concern and covered her hand with her own. "My friends are out there. I must go and help them if I can." With that, Melody gently pulled off Ariel's hands and hopped out of the cave, soaring downwards with the waterfall before using her wings to pull up. She was going to make certain that they were all going to make out of this alive.
The battle between the bears and the wolves continued to rage, neither side backing down. Teeth gnashed and blood sprayed the once pure snow. While Ursa's army had the advantage in strength and resistance, Luca's army succeeded in speed and number. The fight could end with either side winning or losing. Unfortunately, Shade, Marina and Orestes were stuck in the middle of it.
One wolf got uncomfortably close to them and was about to snap at Shade when D.D. suddenly got in the way. He poked the wolf in the eye with his stick. The wolf squealed and his face twisted in pain. The wolf frantically rubbed at his eye with his paws, but it only became worse. Finally, the wounded animal scampered away in defeat. "No food for you!" D.D. yelled after him, waving his stick.
Shade's ears perked up as the sound of angry squeaking began to merge with the growls and snarls. The male silverwings flooded into the forest and began to attack the wolves, sinking their small needle-like teeth through the tough coats. The canines were enraged as they suffered the bites. They began to snap wildly with their teeth and pawed at the air.
Ursa knocked Luca to the ground and called to the silverwings, "go help Brutus! We'll take care of the wolves."
Plato, who was currently leading his entourage, hesitated for a second. Then he grinned at Ursa and soared into the sky, driving the rest of the bats with him. The fact that they were going to fight alongside the owls was such an odd thing that it tickled him.
Seeing the male silverwings in action, Shade felt a strong pull to join them. He needed to go and fight for his colony and for his friends. Marina saw him giving her one long look. She couldn't understand what he was thinking but then without a word, he flew after his colony, leaving her with Orestes. She knew exactly what he was doing."Be careful, Shade…" she whispered.
The fight between Brutus and Goth grew more and more heated in the frigid night air. The owl general began to feel fatigue start to overtake him and was out of breath. He was not as young as he was once and Goth was a healthy giant bat in his physical prime. Goth was showing no signs of tiring out. In fact, he only fought more vigorously. While Brutus was more experienced in terms of battle, he was held back by traditional protocol and methods. Goth evidently didn't fight by any rules, which made him far less frightened Brutus greatly.
The dark prince cackled and his eyes glistened, seeing the old owl starting to weaken. With a roar, Goth lunged at Brutus once more, forcing him down with his feet. They both fell through the air until Brutus's back hit the snow and slid through it.
With tremendous effort, Brutus knocked Goth off him with his wing and got back up. Goth yelled as he landed on his back painfully with a thud. He clenched his teeth and opened his eyes to see Brutus ready to crush him with his talons. He rolled out of the way just in time and was back on his feet in an instant.
The two animals circled each other, an intense atmosphere building up between them. Neither of them were willing to give up until one of them was dead.
Barnabe cried out as he was knocked out of the sky by Throbb. The snow showered all over the place when he tumbled into it. He struggled to get up but he was pinned down firmly by the spectral bat's clawed feet. Throbb chuckled and slurped his tongue around his mouth. Barnabe grunted from his weight and croaked out, "you really need to go on a diet."
"Oh, but I am," Throbb placed a hand to his chest mockingly. "My diet simply consists of silverwings." He rubbed his stomach hungrily before leaning over Barnabe, opening his mouth," Any last words?"
Something caught Barnabe's eye and he smirked. "Yeah, duck."
Throbb immediately raised his head and eagerly began to look around, "huh? Where?" A massive wing struck him in the face, sending him flying off a couple feet.
"Oooh, and right in the face too," Barnabe stood back up and brushed the snow off his fur. "Maybe I should have said 'owl' instead?"
Throbb groaned and saw that his attacker was Atlas. He gasped and took of into the air before Atlas could impale him with his talons. The owl raced after him, not willing to let him get away.
Barnabe took that chance to return and check up on Elliot.
The vampyrum prince turned his neck to see Throbb being chased by Atlas. However it wasn't a cry for help that Throbb yelled for. The smirk on his face told Goth that Throbb knew exactly what he was doing and was going to join him shortly.
Throbb chuckled as he came up with a plan to outsmart the owl. Seeing an upcoming branch, his smile widened. He grabbed onto the branch with his wings and swung around it until he struck down Atlas with his feet. Atlas hit the snow hard and was knocked out cold. Throbb got off him and flew over to Goth. He landed next to him and the two predatory bats began to close in on Brutus.
The horned owl kept his wings spread out, trying to make himself appear bigger and harder to attack then he really was. But the truth was, he had little fight in him left, and the enemy knew that.
Goth was about to strike when something small and furry dove smack into his face. He yelled as sharp teeth bit into his muzzle and dark wings clutched tightly to his head. He got a glimpse of brown hair and blue fur but nothing more as his attacker started to claw at his eyes all the while viciously digging their teeth into his face. He roared angrily as he swung his head back and forth, trying to shake his attacker off.
Brutus was dumbstruck. He did not expect a silverwing, much less Melody, the self-proclaimed human to save him!
Melody held onto Goth like her life depended on it. Now that she thought about it, her life probably did depend on it. If he managed to shake her off, there would be nothing there to stop him from ripping her to shreds. Along with her fear came all the pent up anger and she took it out on him. It was because of Goth that they had wasted so much time in reaching hibernaculum. He had tried to kill Melody and her friends! He was going to try and devour the entire colony! She clamped down on him harder. Her jaws were not strong like his, but Melody managed to get in a few good deep scratches. The metallic taste of his blood sickened her, but she refused to let go. Finally, Goth grabbed her by the scruff of her mane and tore her off him, throwing her into the air.
She yelped as she struggled to catch herself. By the time she did, Goth pinned her against a tree with his arm pressed into her throat, blocking her airway. Melody clawed at his arm while trying to grasp for air. Goth's face was not a pretty one. One eye was closed with a nasty bleeding scratch mark leading from his eyebrow to his chin. His snout had her teeth marks etched into them. Melody couldn't help but smirk at the work she had done. 'An arm for a face. Now we're even.'
"I should have left you to die that night," Goth growled deeply, his once handsome face becoming even more horrible. The memory of the night they first met replayed in Melody's mind as she fought the dark spots appearing in her vision. The pressure on her neck increased. "I will not make the same mistake again."
Sucking up the horrible taste in her mouth, Melody spat Goth's blood back in his face.
Goth jerked his head back and hissed angrily as he wiped the blood off with the back of his free hand. Before he could do anything to retaliate, something struck him in the head. Again, and then again. He looked up to see the colony of male silverwings attacking him and Throbb. Plato managed to swoop down and bite into the arm that kept Melody against the tree and Goth screamed. He let go of Melody, causing her to slide down and gasp for air. Goth took a mighty swipe at Plato who luckily dodged out of the way.
"Quick, girl! Take cover in our group," one of the male silverwings shouted to her.
Melody rubbed her neck with her hand before hurrying to join with the rest of the silverwings.
"Where do you think you're going?!" Goth charged after her as she started to climb a tree- but was instantly held off by the males. They bit and struck at him more brutally than before, fiercely determined to protect the sole female on the battlefield. Once she took into the air, they easily separated her from the danger, camouflaging her in the cloud of silver and blue.
Goth snarled and snapped at the silverwings, his green eyes filled with rage. He and Throbb finally had enough and began to focus their attack on the entire colony. The silverwings split into two as the vampyrum separated them, chasing the smaller bats.
As Goth and Throbb both split up to chase their own flurry of bats, one particular bat, smaller than the rest- hovered lazily beside Goth. The larger bat noticed and turned his head. It was none other than Shade, smiling mischievously down at him.
"Hola~" Shade taunted in a sultry voice, mimicking Goth's performance back in the junkyard.
Goth's expression darkened and he growled, his hatred for the runt flared up tenfold.
The boy chuckled gleefully at his annoyance. "Hey, what happened to your face? You almost look as ugly as Zitz!" Shade purposefully pushed Goth's red button and swiftly veered away, hearing Goth roar in outrage behind him.
Diverted from the silverwing colony, Goth made it his personal goal to finish off Shade first, once and for all. After the little 'stunt' that Shade pulled in the mines, the prince was more than willing to tear out his heart.
The girl looked down to see Barnabe flying up towards her. She smiled at the sight of him unharmed. "Barnabe!" she flew down to meet him halfway as they were still caught up inside the silverwing colony.
"Shade is currently driving Goth into the forest," Barnabe informed her, "so right now we are focusing on taking out Throbb."
Melody frowned, "wait, Shade is facing Goth alone?!" she croaked, her voice raw after being strangled.
"He's got this covered," Barnabe reassured her, "he might be small, but he is smart and has his echo projection on his side. He will outsmart that large beast somehow." With that, Barnabe merged back with the other silverwings.
Melody didn't doubt Shade's ability but she also refused to underestimate Goth either. When angry, he became dumber- but that also made him faster and stronger. Shade wasn't a weak flyer as he was when they first started out on their journey. Yet Melody wasn't willing to bet that Shade was strong enough to outfly a monstrous and vengeful bat.
With a shuddering breath, Melody slipped away from the safety of the colony.
Shade looked back to see that Goth was not far behind. An idea bloomed in his mind and Shade let a secretive grin appear. Dodging around the trees with the help of his echolocation, the silverwing led Goth deeper into the woods.
Blinded by his rage, Goth flew headfirst into a tree. That only made him grow angrier and Goth shook himself off. He growled and continued his pursuit of his intended prey, breaking through a few icicles in the process.
Seeing that he wasn't shaking Goth off, Shade quickly began to form a new plan as he swerved around an icy cliff. With alarm, he realized that while Goth had his mind clouded by hatred, his strength and endurance was a force not to be trifled with. So he tried his next trick.
As Goth made it past the cliff, he skidded to a stop when he saw three owl soldiers flying right at him. Startled at first, but regaining his composure quickly when he realized that it was one of Shade's illusions, Goth easily tore through them. A diabolical smirk twisted his mouth before he silently glided in an alternate direction.
The silence disturbed Shade greatly. He turned to look around for Goth, but the vampyrum prince was nowhere in sight. Panic began to speed up his heart when Shade realized that he was in dire peril. Unable to suppress his growing anxiety, Shade began to fly faster when suddenly Goth appeared in front of him, jumping from behind a tree.
Shade cried out but was unable to stop in time. Goth easily swiped him out of the air and the boy hung helplessly from his hand. "Your time has come, runt!" Goth exclaimed with a sneer and raised his arm to deliver a fatal blow. But Shade's attention was diverted. Instead his eyes widened in disbelief as he looked past Goth.
Curious to what had distracted Shade, Goth turned to see Brutus charging down at him. Believing that it was another one of Shade's tricks, he merely rolled his eyes and turned back to Shade. Big mistake.
Brutus slammed into Goth's back, throwing the giant bat off of Shade and out of the tree. Goth grunted, hitting the floor. He snarled angrily and flew at Brutus. The owl merely turned around and drove Goth away, leaving Shade safe and alone to catch his breath.
Shade leaned against the tree, forlorn. Nothing seemed to be stopping Goth, no matter what anyone tried to do. Even Brutus couldn't take him on without some sort of help. Goth was practically invincible! Shade heard the gentle flutter of wings and turned to see the concerned face of Marina peering at him.
"We're all going to die," he trembled and crumbled down to his knees. "You, me...Melody and everyone else. There is no way that we are getting out of this alive!" Shade bit his lip and clenched his fists into his hair. "I failed all of you. My echoprojection didn't work! It was all I had…"
"That's not true," Marina shook her head and frowned. "Zephyr taught you how to echoproject because he could see something special in you. Frieda sees it too."
Shade lifted his head a bit.
"They see a leader, Shade." Marina came in close to him, staring intently into his sky blue eyes with her own olive green ones. "So do I," she whispered.
Tears began to form in his eyes and a smile of gratitude dimpled his furry cheeks. Never had he appreciated Marina to this degree until now. The warm encouraging faces of Melody, Barnabe, Orestes, and the indifferent face of a bored looking Elliot played through his head. They all believed in him unconditionally. Marina believed in him. His colony were counting on him. Was he seriously just going to let despair swallow him whole when they were all in danger? Shade blinked back his tears as burning determination spread through his body like a wildfire. His eyes hardened and his jaw clenched.
No, he wasn't. He was going to save them all even if it came at the cost of his own life.
Brutus flew over the frozen waterfall when he noticed that he was no longer being followed. He stopped and turned around. There was no one there. The owl frowned in confusion until he heard a deep chuckle come from behind. He whirled around in time for Goth to slice him across the chest with his deadly clawed hand. Brutus fell and his back cracked against the ice. Delicate lightning shaped marks in the ice formed around him. Badly hurt, the general didn't move and allowed the numbing darkness to pull him under.
Goth landed on top of Brutus, eying his defeated adversary with triumph. His chest shook in repressed laughter. He had won. He had taken down the owls. Now, the silverwings had nothing to protect them. A growl of pleasure rumbled through him and the spectral bat's readied razor sharp claw shimmered impendingly.
His kill was thwarted when something grabbed at his ears and pulled. Goth yelped and his eyes widened in surprise. Goth swiped at the air, narrowly missing Shade. The giant bat lunged after the boy.
Shade zigzagged through the air, trying to escape Goth's mighty jaws. He could tell that Goth was no longer playing around for it was becoming grueling avoiding his attacks. It was pure adrenaline that kept Shade alive. He began flying up the waterfall and was just about to make it over the edge when Throbb jumped out at him. With a menacing smirk, Throbb grabbed Shade around the ankle and tugged. Shade felt his body spin out of control before Throbb let go of him. Shade gasped as he hit and slid across the icy floor, coming to a stop not too far from Brutus.
Shade struggled to get back up, his arms shaking weakly as they could barely lift his body. He didn't get a chance to get to his feet when Goth's large hand encircled his neck and slammed Shade's head's back down into the ice. Bright spots danced around in his vision and his head was in agony. He could feel the pain spreading down his neck and into his back. He struggled against Goth's hold but he was pressed firmly against the floor.
He could hear Goth laughing and he opened his eyes to see the dark shadow looming over him. Shade flinched when he heard something sharp stab into the ice next to his face and slowly began to trace around his head. Shade's ears pressed down against the unbearable screeching sound that Goth's claw made. Shade couldn't move. He could barely breathe. He merely stared up at the bat he had once admired. The bat that had ultimately betrayed him.
A short while back, Shade felt ready to put his life on the line to protect his colony from this monster. But now that he was in death's clutches, an uncontrollable terror began to bubble up inside him. He didn't want to die! There were still things he wanted to do! He had to find his father! Melody still needed to get back home! He had promised her! Marina! He couldn't leave her! Shade's mind was racing and his breaths became short and labored.
Goth licked the ice off his claw, staring down at Shade from his good eye. Throbb chuckled and moved in closer as well to witness the final moments of the silverwing when he was suddenly tackled by Barnabe.
Throbb's back hit a rotted tree and it splintered in half. Barnabe stood up, feeling dizzy and unsteady from taking the giant bat head-on. Literally. He groaned and clutched his head. His eyes widened and Barnabe quickly jumped to the side, avoiding Throbb's clawed wing. Throbb instead struck the tree, this time unhinging it completely. The tree crashed into the ice, fracturing it. The floor beneath their feet cracked. Throbb and Barnabe both turned to each other with worried looks.
The ground trembled and the water beneath the ice began to rumble. Barnabe noticed that the ice was starting to move off the waterfall.
Using the moment of distraction, Shade tore himself out of Goth's grip. The giant bat noticed and snatched him by the foot. Shade hit the ground again and clenched his teeth.
"Shade!" Barnabe yelled and went to help him. He didn't go far when Throbb tackled him off the waterfall and they both fell out of sight.
"Barnabe!" Shade reached out for him and yelped when Goth pulled him closer. A bright light from the corner of their eyes however stopped both of their skirmishing. The both turned their heads to the horizon to see the sun peaking out from behind the mountains. As it steadily rose, it began to illuminate the snow almost blindingly. A shadowy figure flew from the sun's light and towards the two of them.
Shade squinted and then he gasped, recognising who it was. "Melody!"
"LET HIM GO!" She screamed at Goth and dove straight for him. Goth jumped back away from Shade right as she whizzed past between them. Shade moved quickly. He flew out of Goth's reach and the prince missed when he tried to grab at him.
Furious, Goth turned his eyes towards Melody. She arched around in the air and hurtled down at him again. Spreading his enormous wings, Goth took into the air towards her until they met halfway. With a growl, the vampyrum backhanded Melody in the face.
Melody yelped as she was struck- the impact had her plummeting to the ground. Luckily the snow cushioned her fall as she skidded across it. Melody groaned painfully and blinked open her eyes, her jaw throbbing. She shook her head, snow flying in all directions from her hair. She sat up, trying to get back to her senses. She heard a roar and turned her neck to see Goth diving towards her!
Fear-stricken, Melody forced herself on her feet and started to run. She was instantly reminded of the time she tried to get away from an owl in the big city. Horrified, she realized she had nothing to help her into the air. Her wing-strapped feet slipped on the ice a few times and she flapped her wings desperately. "No, not this! Not now!"
"Melody! Fly!" she heard Shade scream at her.
Melody heard a snarl and a crunch! The ice beneath her feet upturned like the Titanic!
"Ahhhh!" she screamed as she lost her footing.
Goth had missed her barely, but his feet smashed into the ice, causing the block beneath Melody to tilt upwards. She clung to the top of the ice and pulled herself up. She intended to jump off so she could take to the air, but Goth's teeth snapped at her, startling the girl. Melody slipped off the ice block and onto the solid ground. She turned back to see Goth waist deep in the water, scratching at the ice to pull himself out. His green eye flashed madly.
Melody turned and ran/hopped before he managed to get himself out of there. She willed herself to fly, begged her wings to work before it was too late. "C'mon! C'mon!" She heard the sound of flapping of massive wings and a pissed off yell. Melody knew that Goth had managed to crawl out of the hole and was back to chasing after her.
She saw Shade desperately trying to reach her before Goth did. Melody grimaced, knowing that Shade was too far away and wouldn't get to her in time. It was all up to her. Taking in deep breaths, and continuously flapping her wings, she ignored the danger that was behind her. Her arm muscles tensed and her wing membranes tightened. With a heavy heave and a grunt, Melody's wings thrust her into the air right when Goth's fangs clamped shut where she was a moment ago.
"I did it…" Melody breathed, her eyes wide. A smile spread across her face and she laughed out loud. "I did it!" She gave one exhilarated 'whoop!' before diving down the waterfall with an equally relieved Shade. He smiled at her, but congratulating her would have to wait.
Brutus woke up feeling bruised and disoriented. Someone was pulling him to his feet and he leaned heavily on them.
"Father…" his savior urged, and Brutus's eyes widened.
"Orestes?" he whispered.
Orestes saw that the ice that they were on was close to falling off the waterfall and he dug his talons into the ice. Grunting, he helped his father walk off the moving sheet of ice.
It was now the two of them that Goth was chasing down, but at least now, Shade and Melody had each other's back. It was morning and the sun was halfway up. Seeing everything in color made Melody squint, her eyes too used to the dark. What made it worse was how the light reflected off the snow and ice. She could barely see where she was flying.
"Melody, this way!" Shade nudged his head towards the flowing waterfall with a smirk. "The sun!"
She quickly caught onto his plan and grinned. "I'm right behind you, pal!"
They led Goth behind the waterfall where hundreds of thorny icicles hung. Both silverwings closed their eyes and readied their ears. Shade and Melody screeched, using their high frequency sound to determine where the icicles where. The sound traveled back to them and keeping their eyes closed, the two friends swiftly dodged the many icicles.
Unaware of the consequences of keeping his eye open, Goth followed after them. It was then when the sun hit the icicles just right. The sunlight reflected into Goth's face and he hissed. Stunned and moving at too fast of a speed, Goth rammed into the icicles one by one, yelling angrily all the while.
Using his echolocation one more time, Shade noticed that the waterfall was right ahead of them. "Watch out!" he yelled out in warning to Melody.
Melody gasped as she sensed that they were getting too close to the rushing water. Melody and Shade both made a sharp turn in opposite directions, narrowly avoiding getting caught in the waterfall.
Goth was not so lucky. He flew straight into the water and it crashed down on him. Meanwhile the ice and snow on top of the waterfall finally broke apart and came tumbling down as well. Goth screamed as he was flushed downwards and struggled in vain to get out. His mouth filled with water and chunks of ice struck him full on. He gurgled and choked and screamed. He saw Shade trying to get get to Melody. With the last of his vengeful strength, Goth grabbed Shade by the wing.
Melody turned in alarm when she heard Shade scream. Her eyes widened and she blanched, as both Goth and Shade were forced under the watery depths with sharp debris tumbling after them. "Shade?" she barely whispered no longer seeing any signs of him. She flapped in place, frozen in disbelief that her best friend was now gone. She kept scanning the water with her eyes, panic welling up in her more and more.
Throbb stopped his chase after Barnabe when he heard his brother scream. He turned and his face twisted in anguish. "GOTH!" he yelled.
Barnabe saw Shade go down as well and anger flashed across his expression. He rammed into Throbb but the giant bat threw him off. Throbb was about to go after him when he heard ghastly screeches. He looked up to see an army of owls and silverwings coming his way and he paled. "Madre mia…" he gasped, turned tail and flew off into the horizon, screaming, fleeing those he once preyed upon.
"Where's Shade?!" Ariel cried as she crouched by the water. Brutus, Orestes, Marina and Barnabe landed by her while Elliot sat off to the side, a couple of elderly medic bats tending to his head, "where is he? Can you see him?" She was about to become hysterical, "tell me he's okay!"
Everyone gasped when Melody dove headfirst into the water, folding her wings in like some sort of waterfowl.
To say it was cold was an understatement. Melody nearly went into shock from how bone-chilling the water was. It pierced through her like a rabid hive of stinging wasps. For a moment, Melody nearly forgot what she was there for. Shade...Shade!
She searched around frantically for him, but it was too dark. She swam deeper, begging with all she had to find him. Pressure squeezed at her, and her movements became sluggish. She didn't know what would happen first, whether she'd freeze to death or drown.
Just when she was about to fall into despair, her necklace flickered gently and began to illuminate the water with a gentle glow. Melody watched in wonder as the light engulfed her body. It was so...warm. Her shivering stopped and it was bright enough to see. Melody looked down and saw Shade struggling feebly against Goth. They were both fighting, even now. Goth was determined to take Shade down with him.
Melody practically flew through the water as she swam after them. She grabbed Shade's arm and pulled, squeezing her eyes shut. Goth looked at her and froze in disbelief. Melody wasn't aware of it, but with the way she was glowing, she looked ethereal. Her wings shimmered like stars. She emanated a loving warmth that spread through his skin. His grip slackened on Shade and she pulled him away. Both silverwings began making their way to the surface.
As Melody swam out of reach, the unforgiving coldness returned and Goth reached his hand helplessly after them. The darkness engulfed him and the current carried him away.
Shade was the first to emerge from the water, gasping for air and coughing. Melody soon came up after him and helped him reach the land. The glow from the necklace faded and both teenagers began to shiver again. They struggled to get out, but they were exhausted and weak.
"I'll take care of this!" Brutus spread his wings and swept down. With ease, he plucked the bats out of the water with his talons and gently dropped them both with their friends and family.
"Shade! Melody!" Ariel cried happy tears and she hugged and kissed both of them, holding them in each wing.
"Hi mom," Shade leaned against her, closing his eyes tiredly.
"No spit washing…" Melody grumbled weakly as Ariel kissed her face.
Shade snorted and began to shake with laughter.
"What?" Melody opened one eye with irritation and glared at him.
Shade only laughed harder and the others, even the owls began to join in.
The girl looked around in confusion. "What?"
As the laughter subsided, Shade looked up at Brutus and said, "thanks."
"No," the owl shook his head. "Thank you, lawbreakers," he smiled.
During midday, a meeting was held in the middle of the forest and all attended. Silverwings, bears, and owls were all there. For once, it was not held in the name of war. It was the beginning of peace.
"It has been said that a good leader can admit when they've been wrong," Brutus began. His son Orestes stood proudly next to him, smiling brightly at his father. "I've been wrong about the silverwings." The owl looked up at Shade and Melody who hung between Marina and Barnabe. Both earned smiles from each of them.
Brutus turned to Orestes, "wrong about my son."
Orestes beamed and looked down in embarrassment.
"Wrong about our human friends."
Melody sucked in a surprised breath. She looked over at Elliot who stood next to Atlas. He too looked amazed. A smile spread across her face as Atlas playfully nudged the snowy owl with his wing. Elliot merely rubbed his assaulted wing and rolled his eyes.
"Very wrong about Shade and Melody."
The two grinned and leaned their heads against each other.
"Long ago, all bats were banished to the darkness for not taking sides. Today, they took a side. Today, you have earned all bats the right to fly night or day."
A cheer erupted and a celebration was sparked. Marina startled Shade by wrapping her wings around him and kissing him on the cheek. Shade was starstruck and his ears reddened. Barnabe laughed and noogied Shade on the head.
Meanwhile, Melody tackled Elliot in a hug and his feathers poofed out. "Eh-eh-eh….wha-?!"
"Shut up and hug me, you bird brain."
Elliot did. He was actually starting to enjoy the hug when-
The snowy owl stiffened and turned his head a full 90 degrees to see a penguin robot waddling over to them, waving his flippers in glee.
"D.D.!" Melody exclaimed happily at the sight of the robot and opened one wing, inviting the penguin in.
D.D. squealed and quickened his waddling.
Elliot was speechless, "how did… when did you… I thought…" Eventually he gave up. Elliot rolled his eyes and reluctantly also opened a wing. "Get in here…"
D.D. chirped happily and joined in with the group hug.
Shade flew down to them and landed on a nearby branch. "Now all that's left is to get you back into your true forms."
Melody opened her eyes and pulled away from Elliot, both of them returning to reality at the mention of becoming human again. She turned to Elliot with hope in her eyes, but his frown stifled it. "Elliot? Will there be an antidote soon? You said that you can make it, right?"
Elliot sighed uncomfortably, "slimy mushrooms don't grow in the snow…"
"Ellie," D.D. tugged on Elliot's feathers, trying to get his attention.
"But, surely they could grow in caves," Melody insisted, not ready to give up.
"It's too cold. The only time they do grow is in the fall…"
"WHAT?!" Elliot spun around, glaring at the penguin. He blinked and squinted when he saw that D.D. was holding something in each of his flippers. "Are those…?"
"Antidote!" The robot smiled and he held the test tubes close to his belly. "With mushy-rooms."
"No way…" Elliot couldn't hold back his own smile from spreading across his face. "D.D, did you really manage to-"
Elliot turned to Melody with the brightest smile that she had ever seen him make. "Melody, we are going home tonight, as humans!"
"Home," she breathed. It almost sounded too good to be true. She turned to look at Shade, Marina and Barnabe, who all hung around them with sad smiles on their faces. Orestes flew over as well, and looked over to them with concern. A lump began to form in her throat. "I… don't know how to say goodbye…"
"You don't have to say it," Barnabe smiled at her warmly, though his eyes told her that he was torn. "No point in saying our goodbyes when we'll see each other again."
"I don't know," Elliot hated being the one to say it. "Our home is way down south. Farther than you can possibly migrate. We don't even get snow where we live. The chances of us ever coming back to see you is...slim to none." His eyes turned to a heartbroken Orestes, "Even if we did, we'll be human. I doubt we'll be able to talk to each other...I'm sorry."
"No," Orestes choked and sniffed. He rubbed his eyes with his wing. "It's the way it should be. You belong with your family. With your kind."
Melody trembled as she held back tears. The thought of never seeing Shade, Marina, Barnabe or Orestes ever again… it was unimaginable. They were all her closest and bestest friends. She couldn't think of anyone back home that she was this close to. Yes, she had Elliot...but it wouldn't take much for him to get back on her nerves again.
Seeing that she was about to cry, Shade flew down to her and wrapped his wings around her tightly. He squeezed his eyes shut and nuzzled his face into her brown fur. "It's okay," he told her and her eyes became misty. "It's okay, Melody. We all love you. And thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being my dearest friend."
Melody bit back a sob and held onto Shade, "I love you too Shade."
Marina couldn't hold it back any longer, she flew down to Melody as well and pulled her from Shade. The brightwing hugged the girl close and cried. Melody never expected Marina, out of all of them to be the one to start crying. She hugged Marina back just as tightly. "Don't cry, Marina. I'll never forget you for as long as I live. And if I ever get the chance to visit, I will. To hell with what form I come back in. I will always be your friend."
Marina pulled back, her eyes wet. "I'm holding you to that," she said shakily, but firmly.
Melody looked up at Barnabe, but he didn't move from his branch. "I'll miss you," she said to him and a strangled laugh escaped her lips. "You know, I never imagined I'd bump into you here."
"Neither did I," Barnabe grinned. "It won't be the last time either."
"How do you know?" Melody inquired.
"I just do," he winked at her. "I've got my foresight, remember?"
Melody felt her heavy heart lift tremendously at his words and she smiled. Barnabe was right. If he said that they would meet again, then they most certainly would.
"Orestes," she turned to the bird, "you take care of yourself," she peeked over to his dad and added, "and your pops, okay?"
Orestes smiled at Melody, "you too. I know you and Elliot will be just fine."
"Are you ready?"
Melody turned to Elliot who was watching her patiently. He wasn't going to say his goodbyes and she smiled. Elliot wasn't the type to get all sappy. She nodded in answer.
Elliot nodded back. He turned to D.D. and grabbed one of the test tubes with his foot. "I'll go first," he offered. "We don't know for certain if this will work. Stand back everyone."
Melody and the rest of the silverwings, owls and bears watched as Elliot plucked the cork out with a pop with his beak. He hesitated for a second and the downed it all with one go. He stood there for what seemed to be a good few minutes. Elliot frowned, "well.." he began, "it doesn't seem to be work-" his body lurched forward and his eyes squeezed shut painfully. His body shook uncontrollably and his feathers were on end.
"Elliot!" Orestes exclaimed, and was about to try and help his friend but his father blocked him with his wing.
Everyone watched with worry as Elliot's body began to contort and twist. His limbs began to lengthen and his bones cracked as they changed shape. Melody was struck with the reminder that the change was indeed, a painful one. As Elliot began to grow bigger and bigger, he began to shed his wing feathers until it revealed smooth pale skin. The feathers on his torso and back and legs lengthened and turned into white cloth. This went on for a few more seconds until a shivering and disoriented human was before them, on his hands and knees.
Melody smiled and her heart soared. It worked. Elliot was a human again!
Elliot checked his hands for a moment all the while trying to breathe. He shuddered, still feeling the effects of the change.
D.D. squealed happily and ran towards Elliot with great enthusiasm. In his excitement though, D.D. tripped over a rock, dropped the remaining glass vial into the snow and smashed it with his belly.
All was silent.
"D.D.!" Elliot roared and the penguin quickly got back up, looking quite horrified at the cracked glass and the melted, discolored snow.
"Oh no…" Melody gasped, bringing her hands to her mouth.
"Sorry…" D.D. looked up helplessly at them. "D.D. is sorry…"
Elliot continued to yell at the robot, but his words were strange and foreign to everyone's ears. He was human. Any means of communication between him and the animals was broken. D.D. still understood him however, being a man-made creation. The penguin shuddered, fell down onto his butt and began to wail.
Elliot's enraged words and D.D.'s sobs didn't go noticed by Melody. She was still staring at the spilled antidote. She didn't even notice that tears began to stream down her face.
"Oh, Melody," Marina whispered, not knowing how to console her best friend.
"I can't go back home…" Melody whimpered.
Ariel swept down and wrapped her wings around Melody, "oh my sweet girl. Don't cry. You can stay here, with us, isn't that right Frieda? You are already like a daughter to me. Everyone here loves you. Oh baby, please… please don't cry."
Melody was unconsolable. She shook with hefty sobs- homesickness toppling down on her like a house made of bricks. She wouldn't be able to see her mother or father again. Her parents! The child in her demanded to be returned to them.
"Melody," Shade's soft voice came from behind her and she tore herself away from Ariel. She launched herself into Shade's arms and he caught her, holding her close to him.
"I want to go home, Shade!" she pleaded, as if he was her only hope. "Please, you promised. Help me get back home."
Shade's eyes began to fill up with tears as she begged him to do the impossible. He only held her tighter. He looked up at Elliot who now sat far away from all of them, his head in his hands. He looked completely broken. He was probably trying to rack his brain for another solution, but it was hopeless. He wouldn't be able to make another antidote until next year. Melody couldn't wait that long. Orestes, Atlas and the other owls surrounded him, hooting at him consolingly. He didn't understand them.
Shade rested his head against Melody's and let a few tears fall down his cheeks. "I'll help you get home somehow," he promised her. "I promise you'll get home." He looked at his colony for help, but they just stared down at them with quiet sorrow. The weren't going to be able to do anything. It was winter. They had to hibernate.
He looked over to Barnabe who happened to be trying to calm D.D.. Barnabe simply shook his head at Shade.
Shade bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut while Melody wept.
"Oh brother, what is with all the noise around here? All your wailing is loud enough to wake the dead."
Shade snapped his head up to see an odd looking silverwing with spiky brown hair staring down at them with his arms crossed. He clearly wasn't from his colony. What was even stranger...he looked translucent. The sunlight simply passed through him like he wasn't even there.
"Who...who are you?" Shade frowned.
The spiky-haired bat grinned impishly down at Shade until he noticed poor Melody in his arms. His smile transformed into a peeved scowl in an instant. Shade blinked and when he opened his eyes again, the bat was in front of him, glaring darkly at Shade.
The boy almost jumped out of his skin but Melody kept him grounded. "Wha- how did you…?"
"I'll be the one asking the questions around here, punk!" The silverwing growled, his voice deep. "Whatcha do to make my girl cry?!"
"Your girl?" Shade was lost. Who the hell was this guy? The bat pulled on Shade's hair and he yelped.
"What did I say about questions?"
"Shade, are you alright?" Marina asked him in confusion.
"I will be once this guy stops tugging on my hair!"
Marina looked at Shade worriedly, "Shade...there's no one there…"
Shade blinked, "huh?"
The semi-transparent silverwing smirked, "here's the scoop, kid. I'm dead, sleep-deprived, and extremely cranky. No one here can see nor hear me without my permission. And right now, you've got the one thing I care about crying her heart out in your arms." He gave another sharp tug to Shade's hair, "so if you don't want me to haunt you for the rest of your short miserable life, I'd suggest you start telling me what I want to know. Why is Melody crying?"
"She wants to go home!" Shade shouted, fed up with this ghost.
The dead bat blinked and let go of Shade's hair. "Pardon?"
Shade grumbled and rubbed his sore scalp with one hand as he held Melody in the other. "She finally had the chance to turn back human, but then the antidote that she was supposed to drink got destroyed."
"Shade, are you feeling alright?" Ariel asked, concerned.
"I'm fine, mom. It's the post-traumatic stress talking, give me a moment."
The ghost looked down at the crying girl and began to gently run his hand through her hair, "is that what all this fuss about, sweetheart?"
"She can't hear you," Shade growled and tried to smack the bat's hand away, only for him to go through it.
The ghost bat looked up at Shade with annoyance as he continued to stroke Melody's hair. "Of course she can hear me. She could hear me from the very beginning. She's just having a bit of a tantrum, that's all."
"No, I'm not!" Melody's voice was muffled.
"Oh, yes you are. And for the love of Nocturna, will someone shut that infernal bird up?!"
"I'm trying!" Barnabe shouted back, just as agitated.
Both the ghost and Shade stared bug-eyed at Barnabe.
"Did he just-?"
"Yup," Shade nodded.
Melody lifted her head and glared at ghost, "leave me alone, Loki!"
Shade blinked, "Loki?" As in the one who gave Melody her necklace back in the mines?
"Howdy!" Loki winked at Shade. He turned to Melody and gently pulled her away from Shade. He laid both hands on her shoulders and nudged her chin up with one finger. "Now there, no more tears," he brushed her face clear of them. He smiled down at her and she simply sniffed and rubbed her nose.
"I wanna go home…" she whimpered miserably. "But I can't now. I can't return back as a bat."
Loki tilted his head, "of course you can."
She shook her head, "no...I can't."
"Uh- yes you can," Loki insisted, raising his eyebrow like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Melody was becoming frustrated now, "no I can't!"
Loki grinned his signature grin and leaned down. "Yes- you- can." With each single syllable word, he lightly tapped on her amulet with his claw.
Melody stared down at her necklace and then back up at Loki in confusion.
"The thing is, sweet pea, is that you had the power to return to your natural form from the moment I gave you that little trinket."
Her eyes widened, "what?"
"Yup," Loki pulled back and crossed his arms with a smirk.
"What?!" She screeched, angrily.
"Hold on for one moment here," Barnabe flew over to them and glared up at Loki. "Why didn't you tell her any of this before?!"
"That's it. They've all lost it," Chinook muttered from above them.
Loki eyed Barnabe up and down before his eyes lit up in realization. "Ah, I see. You are a seer. That would explain why you can see me."
"Loki!" Melody growled.
"Look, what would be the point if I told her from the beginning?" Loki defended as he backed away slightly from Melody's, Shade's and Barnabe's glares. He turned to look at Melody, "wouldn't you and that bird-boy of yours have turned back to humans right then and there? If you did, what would have become of Shade and his colony?" He pointed his thumb at the small silverwing. "Speaking of that bird-boy… where is he?"
Shade tilted his head over in the human's direction and Loki's eyes widened.
"Wow… he really let himself go, didn't he? I think I liked him better as an owl."
Melody stopped to think. He was right… if given the chance, she would probably have become human again without a second thought. She would have accidentally broken the promise to Shade to help him find his colony.
"Of course…" Loki trailed off with a smirk as he looked back to the bats, "the fact that I wanted to have some fun with you may have played into it as well." He stuck out his tongue. "I'm not called Loki the trickster for nothin, ya know."
Melody's ears reddened, "you… you!"
"So, how is she supposed to get the necklace to turn her back?" Shade took the amulet in his hand and observed it.
"Why, ask it of course!" Loki rolled his eyes. "'Ask and you shall receive.' Isn't that how the old saying goes?"
Shade handed Melody her amulet and she looked up at Loki with a bit of doubt. "That easy, huh? I don't have to click my heels three times or something?"
"You living lot always seem to overcomplicate things. Sometimes a simple 'please' would suffice." Loki sighed and smiled, "but Melody, listen. That necklace is handed down from the goddess Nocturna to you. It has very powerful magic stored inside. However, that doesn't mean you can use it whenever you wish."
"What do you mean?"
"The amulet has a will of it's own. It may be possible that you couldn't have turned back human that night even if I had told you of its powers." He shrugged, "even I don't fully understand how it works. I was just the delivery boy."
Melody played with her necklace and smiled at it. "But I can turn human now, can't I?"
Loki gave her a coy smile, "ah, what are you asking me for? Go and give it a try!" With that, the ghost took into the air and flew into a golden beam of sunlight. The moment he did, he vanished.
Melody stared at the place where Loki was for a while longer before turning to Shade and Barnabe. "Well, I guess it's time?" The two of them smiled at her and nodded. Melody looked up at the silverwing colony who were all staring at her in confusion.
"Will someone tell me what's going on?" Marina huffed, crossing her wings.
Melody smiled and grasped the amulet tightly in her hand. "I wish to become human once more!" she shouted.
The amulet grew warm in her hand and a bright light began to illuminate from it. The bats all gasped and the owls and bears all stared in wonder. Even D.D. and Elliot stopped moping and turned around to see what was happening. Wind began to swirl around Melody as did the light, shining like moonlight and sparkling like stars, encasing her in its warm glow until she was fully engulfed in it. Shade, Marina and Barnabe had to back away, shielding their eyes. The light grew and grew until it took the shape and size of a human. Then the light dissipated in sparkles- leaving behind a human girl in its place.
Melody stood there, blinking in astonishment. It felt so strange being tall again. She checked herself and everything was in place. She was wearing the same clothes that she had back when she turned into a bat. The necklace still hung around her neck, adjusted to her size. She looked up to see the silverwings chattering excitedly, as if cheering. They began to fly around her, congratulating her. Ursa and her kermode bears roared, joining in with the cheering. The owls flapped their wings, hooting.
Melody beamed, happiness overwhelming her. She was finally back in her true body. She looked down to see her friends looking up at her from the ground with uncertainty on their faces. Melody knelt down before them and softly said, "hey guys."
Shade was the one to approach her. He placed his hands on her knee and squeaked something to her. Melody's eyes saddened and she shook her head. "I'm sorry, I can't understand you anymore."
Shade's face fell, realizing that she couldn't understand him and visa versa. His eyes glistened with unshed tears but he blinked them back. He put on a bright smile and flew up to be in level with her face and she stood up. Marina and Barnabe flew up to join Shade and they all smiled at Melody.
"I'll see you around then," Melody told them and they nodded, sensing that she about to go. She turned around to Elliot, who was now also standing. He stood there with an exhausted smile on his face. Melody clasped her hands behind her back and rocked on her heels, "I'm ready to go home now."
Elliot spread open his arms and she ran into them. They both hugged each other and Elliot pressed his cheek against the top of her head. "About goddamn time." He spotted D.D. waddling over to him gingerly and pulled out something from the slot in his belly. It was Elliot's glasses.
Elliot smiled and leaned down in front of D.D. and took his glasses back. He gently cleaned them with his white lab coat before putting them on. He patted D.D. on the head, "I forgive you- Dumb Droid."
D.D. beamed and flapped his flippers happily and danced in place.
Elliot stood back up and then his relaxed faced twisted. He shivered violently and gave a loud sneeze, startling the animals. "Gah," he wiped his nose with his sleeve. He held out his other hand for Melody, "C'mon, before we freeze to death out here."
Melody grinned and took his hand. They began their journey home with D.D. following behind them. "So… any ideas on how to get the the closest human civilization from here, Elliot?"
"... GOD DAMNIT!"
A/N: AND THAT'S ALL FOLKS!
Considering that you have all waited about 3 months for the last chapter, I decided to be nice and give you a two-in-one chapter within a week. Okay, to be honest, I just wanted to finish this story so I could get started reading "Sunwing" and brainstorming on how to write my sequel to "Gone Batty".
Now that has been one heck of a ride. It has been two years since I first started this story. I didn't expect to finish any of my fanfics, but you lovely readers and reviewers have helped me see this through to the end. Thank you all so much!
Until next time, what do you expect will happen in the sequel? What do you want to see happen in the sequel? Will there be cookies and cake? Puppies and kittens galore?! Will Bathsheba enter a strip club?! You tell me!
Until the sequel, see you next time. *kiss!*