"Tachyon you slime of scum! Where is my son?!" A voice full of righteous anger hit in full force upon the cragmite emperor's ears. But the sensation only made him smile with cruel pleasure to hear the distress in his most hated enemy. He turned with a slither to see a small yet firmly built figure stalking toward him. The figure came with no army behind him and no friends beside. Just a weaponized wrench in one hand and a look of pure hatred in his eyes.
"Well, well, well," the deformed and puny looking cragmite rasped from atop his robotic throne. "If it isn't the great and mighty Kaden, Keeper of the Dimensionator. I'm so glad you finally decided to crawl out of whatever hole you were hiding in. Tell me, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"You know full well traitor. Where is my son?"
"You mean this?" Tachyon lifted up his slithery hand to reveal the teeny body of a Lombax pup. It wriggled and screamed in protest to the sharp claws that dug into the velvet fur and pierced the vulnerable skin underneath. "Funny story really. I was taking a little pleasure stroll around my new domain destroying buildings and killing space rats, you know what I like. Anyway, while I was out I heard this crying, and low and behold I found this defenseless little whelp under a pile of rubble. The poor thing had been abandoned and forgotten by its own kind when the cowards fled this dimension. Well, I guess he technically wasn't alone. His mother was there too, but she only lived long enough to tell me the child's name."
Here Tachyon paused to give the lombax a look with his beady eyes, a smile curled on his lips when he saw the despair in the lombaxes eyes. "Imagine my pleasure to find out that the Keeper of the Dimensionator had a son? I'm hurt you didn't tell me. Although I guess I can forgive you seeing how busy you've been of late what with the end of your civilization and all. You must be very proud, he is quite a strong thing." The baby kicked the cragmite in the head right then as if to prove the point.
"Ow, why you..." Tachyon shook the child violently, his claws digging even deeper into the child's side
Kaden's hand tightened on the wrench and he growled. "Tachyon, I'm warning you. Give me my son now or I'll make you suffer."
"I have a better idea. How about I make you suffer. Slowly."
"Stop toying with me," Kaden voice shook with rage, " and just tell me what you want?"
"What do you think I want you brainless fur ball!" The cragmite yelled, all of a sudden bored of his own little game. "Where is the dimensionator?!"
The lombax paused and lowered his head with a heavy sigh, his ears casting shadows over his face so that the cragmite could not read his expression. Then he looked up with those intense green eyes, oh how Tachyon hated those eyes. "If I tell you where it is you'll use it too bring back the cragmites, dominate the universe, and destroy my entire race."
"And if you don't I'll shred this little brat stripe by stripe and make you watch as it screams to death. So which is it; save the one thing you have left in this world, or save the universe that never cared about you and a people that abandoned you. If you ask me, it's not really a choice."
There was silence broken only by the pitiful crying of the baby who still struggled ferociously in the tight grip of the cragmite. Then the lombax laughed which held no happiness in it. A sound so deep and hollow full of hate, rage, hurt, despair, and sadness it froze for a moment the darkened heart of the cragmite emperor.
Kaden raised his head and looked up into the black beady eyes of the creature who had destroyed all that he had loved and worked for and who now held his son's life in his claws. And when their eyes met, so terrible was the rage in the lombax's eyes that it actually froze the cragmite emperor with fear.
"Your right, its not a choice at all."
"You want me to fly up that?" The young lombax asked in disbelief as he looked in the direction the jagged claw was pointing.
"Hey, if you want in you gotta play by our rules." A large cragmite teen looked down condescendingly at the smaller lombax.
The lombax, who was around 15, looked again at the big building. It was a claw shaped structure rising high into the air and then curving down at its pinnacle as if poised to rake the ground with its sharp point. Extremely tall and dark black the building also had grooves circling up its length almost like a spiraling staircase. Large silver letters along its ridge said Tachyon Tech Claw Inc..
"You want me to ride on the top of the buildings curve, right?" The lombax asked, hoping he had heard wrong.
"No. That would be too easy. You have to travel down from the top of this building, through traffic, then up the inner curve of the Tachyon Tech Claw, and finally back here in under 95 seconds."
"But that's impossible. There is no way anyone could ride the curve of that thing without gravity splattering them on the street below."
"What's wrong, lombax," the tall cragmite taunted. "Your species' cowardly instincts kickin' in? You gonna run away just like they did?" The other teen cragmites snickered at the lombax.
Tightening his hands into fists the lombax fought to keep his emotions in check. He was used to these laughs, the taunting jeers and cruel sneers. He had learned long ago not to let the words get to him. But still, they hurt.
The leader of the group looked at the lombax with his beady eyes as if searching for something. "Too bad, I thought maybe you could fit in with us. But there's just too much lombax in you."
"He is a lombax," one of the other cragmites rasped in delight. "All lombaxs are cowards."
"No," the lombax eyes shot up and stared at the cragmite gang, determination and desperation illuminating his green eyes. "I am not a coward and I'm not a lombax."
The tall cragmite leaned in till the two were almost touching, his small yellow eyes staring into the large green irises of the lombax. "Than prove it."
The lombax turned and stalked purposely toward the edge of the building that he and his peers stood atop. His eyes studied the path he would take, the strait drop down to the streets below, the busy hover roads and eight way intersection, and finally the Tachyon Tech Claw building. Everything looked fairly easy to him till his eyes traced the curve of the clawed building. His first instinct told him it was impossible, but... if he gained enough speed then hypothetically the pull of gravity wouldn't have time to take affect before he would be shooting off the building and flying through the air. Of course, no one had ever achieved this... not yet.
The lombax set his hoverboard down and stepped on. He crouched; his knees bent, hands poised out, and body tilted forward in anticipation of what would come next."Ready."
"95 seconds. Remember."
The lombax smiled back. "See you in 70 seconds."
Tachyon screamed in rage as his drophyd soldiers struggled and fought to untangle themselves from the jigsaw puzzle made up of their own bodies. The cragmites own robotic throne was on the ground pinning him so that all he could do was scream out orders and abuses at his soldiers. Again and again his voice could be here yelling out, "Get that lombax you idiots. Get him."
But by now Kaden was far gone, only a trail of dust that stretched over the landscape and disappeared into the thick forest.
Hugging his whimpering son tightly to his chest Kaden continued at his hover boots top speed through the forest, zipping and weaving in and out of trees like a maniac. Though he had escaped into the dense forest he knew the danger was far from over. He still had to get off this planet and out of the Polaris galaxy. Even then he wouldn't be safe with Tachyon's army hunting for him.
He looked behind him to see snatches of Drophyds through the trees. They had already disentangled themselves and were on his trail. Kaden bit his lip in frustration, he had been hoping for more of a head start.
"Aphelion!" he spoke into a com that was inserted in his head gear. "Mission was successful. Pick me up now."
"I am afraid I cannot," a computerized voice spoke back to him. "Aerial and land options are too hazardous. The trees are too dense to travel through and the skies are heavily guarded by drophyd battle ships. Any rescue attempt made here will lead to 99.5% chance of failure. Perhaps you could travel to a more convenient location?"
Already he had zoomed passed several startled drophyd troops who quickly joined the chase along with his original pursuers. He could hear them crashing through the woods behind him. He didn't have time to travel to a better location, not if he wanted his son to live.
The lombax looked down at his son who for some odd reason was completely at ease, as if his father's reckless speeding had calmed the child. The baby was even smiling up at his father, a plea of joy escaping his lips whenever the father made a quick turn or banked deep.
"Never mind the danger. Pick me up a mile from here in fifteen seconds. You know the place."
"Plan B?" Aphelion asked.
Kaden had grown up with this forest as his back yard so he knew it like the back of his hand. Right ahead of him was a ledge that dropped about fifty feet into a valley below. The view was beautiful with dark ocean of forest stretching out below you and billions of stars swimming above. It was at that very ledge Kaden had proposed to his wife. And now he was planning to do something on that ledge even crazier than asking to marry the most beautiful girl in Fastoon. But it would work. It has to.
Behind him the pursuers were catching up while in front the line of trees were thinning out. Suddenly he shot out into open air, the rockets on his hover boots frantically blowing blue flame. The wind swept through his fur and cooled his face. Despite the danger Kaden found himself smiling as adrenaline and excitement flowed through him. He was flying, actually flying! His son gave a boisterous laugh and almost toppled out of his father's arms as he stretched his hands out to grasp at the empty air around them.
But Kaden's boots were meant to hover over ground, not air. They began to sputter and he started falling. Then there was a flash of color and Kaden landed hard upon metal surface. He opened his eyes to see his orange and aerodynamic spaceship underneath his feat.
"Good girl!" He praised the ship as the airlock opened and he jumped into the driver's seat. "Now go, go, go!"
The exclamation of excitement was ripped from the lombaxes lips even as it came out. But he didn't mind. The rush of wind sifting through his silky yellow fur, the feeling of his large striped ears and tail being pulled behind him through the sheer strength of g-force, the blend of colors as light and shadows zipped past him, and the sight of the ground rushing to meet him.
Faster, faster, faster!
Then suddenly he grabbed the lip of his board and pushed off the slick surface of the building causing him to shoot out ten feet into open air. His board began to fall back down, the walls of the building no longer there for his board to hover against. But the lombax only smiled, he didn't need the wall anymore. His board stopped falling with a jolt as it came in contact with a surface and the lombax shot forward, riding a thin grind line. Below him the eight way intersection was a chaos of hovercrafts. He gave a laugh as he imagined the surprised look on the cragmite teens who were watching. They never said he couldn't go over the traffic.
But fun and games were over and now speed was the lombaxes best friend. Faster and faster he went, not once letting off on the throttle. The large black claw loomed above him and the young boy felt his heart quicken. His eyes settled on the building a little too long.
The lombax gasped to see a speed train emerging out from a tunnel and racing straight for him on the grind rail. His eyes searched frantically for an escape; if he continued on the grind line he would smack head on with the train, if he jumped now he would land right in the center of the intersection. Either way he would end up as splattered paint on someone's windshield. Then his eyes rested on the dark walls of the tunnel the train was emerging from. He bit his lip, but his mind was set on it.
Pressing harder on his pedal, the lombax leaned forward to gain more speed. The train rushed to meet him, looming in front of him like a giant one eyed caterpillar. A very fast and scary one eyed caterpillar.
The great train gave a last cry of alarm as its glowing eye bore down on him not a yard away. Then he leaned left and shot out of the trains way and into thin air. For a moment he looked like he would fall to his certain death, then his board made contact with the circular wall of the tunnel and he sped off, twisting around the tube like the rivet on a screw. The train's cars zipped by brushing the tips of his ears as he sped toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Shadow was replaced by light and the lombax landed back on the now empty train line with a triumphant laugh, the whole misadventure having taken up only ten seconds.
Then came the building. The lombax abandoned the grind line and shot up the wall of the dark claw. Up, up he went circling up the building as he traveled on its rivet going higher and higher. At first he was as fast as a spinning bullet, but then he felt his speed begin to slow. It was only by fractions but he knew it was enough. Leaning in, his knees touched his chest as he tried to make himself as small as possible. His foot never left the gas pedal.
Then he began to ride the inner curve and he found himself hanging upside down. He knew this by his vision which told him he was looking at the world upside down, but he didn't feel the difference. It was funny really how he felt as if he were right side up and everything else was wrong, but then gravity began to pull him down. His feet left the board, the petal of the gas was let up.
No! You came this far, you're almost through.
He shot off the pinnacle, righting himself as his hand desperately grabbing at his board before he lost it. He made it!
The slight panic pumping in his heart left with the danger and his breath caught in his chest as he took in the scenery around him. The sun was shining down on him in its full brilliance while around him was only air with a landscape of a busy city far below. He was flying, actually flying. And it felt amazing.
His flight quickly became a decent, gravity pulling him down as if to remind him it still existed. But the kid couldn't care less.
His descent brought him to the building where the cragmite gang was waiting, their mouths wide open and beady eyes enlarged. Suddenly they realized he was coming down and scattered as his board hit the rooftop and he slammed on the break. The board flipped and the lombax went flying off tumbling head over heals a few feat.
Ow. He pulled himself off the ground, all the adrenaline was gone replaced by a few bruises. Guess I need to work on my landing.
"Hey, lombax!" The lombax looked up to see the leader cragmite standing over him. He gulped.
"66 seconds. Nice work."
All the others came rushing toward him whooping in excitement. The lombax boy flinched in fear before he realized they weren't swarming to beat him up but to congratulate him.
"Congrats champ! You are officially a member," the large cragmite announced as his hard claw slapped the lombax on the back. "And now that you're one of us you can join our hoverboard team. We're doing a race this weekend. What-d-ya say?"
But before the bewildered and excited lombax could reply a huge dark ship cast its shadow upon the group. "This is the Home Force Enforcer Force. Put your hands in the air and remain calm as the Enforcers arrest you for illegal activity as decreed by Emperor Tachyon."
"Scatter!" The older cragmite cried in alarm and everyone ran, everyone but the lombax. He couldn't disappear into a crowd like they could, running for him only got him in more trouble. So he stood as his new friends abandoned him, his hands in the air and head down. He knew the drill.
Stars zipped by as they traveled through the eternal emptiness of space. Kaden gave a sigh of relief as he relaxed in his chair. His respite was short lived however and he crumpled in his chair, his body racked by heavy sobbing. His friends, family, world, and wife were all gone. How had everything gone wrong so fast.
He wept until his already exhausted body could take it no longer and he fell into a deep slumber.
When he woke he felt no better; his tongue was thick and stuck to the roof of his mouth while his eyes burned and ached. His limbs felt stiff from sleeping in the cabin chair and his sorrows were still fresh.
But he knew he couldn't wallow in his pain forever, he had responsibilities. Of course there was the Demensionator to protect, but above all was his son.
How long had it been since they had escaped into space, and how long had it been since the child had been fed? Fear gripped the new father's heart when he realized just how quiet the cabin was. Turning over to the seat beside him he gasped to see it empty, his son gone.
"Don't worry sir," The ship answered knowing exactly what he was thinking. "I am picking up his readings inside this ship. His heartbeat and his mind active are normal. Though I do sense his energy levels are low and need to be replenished."
Kaden got out of his seat and turned his attention to the back of the ship. The place was empty except for his omniwrench, plasma blaster, food supplies, and a couple of tanks of fuel. But his son wasn't there. Looking behind the fuel tanks and in the supply cupboard Kaden began calling out his son's name, but there was no answer. His heart beat faster.
"Are you sure he is in here?" He asked Aphelion.
"Positive... Unless my scanners were damaged during the escape."
"Can't you just tell what is damaged?"
"Normally yes, but if my internal and scanners were damaged and giving off false reading then I would not know of the discrepancy."
"Perfect." Kaden muttered under his breath, his heart quickening with every second. Then he stopped. He had heard something small and echoey. A giggle. Looking toward the sound he saw the puff of a yellow striped tail sticking out from under a large and awkward helmet thingy.
"Wait, I found him." Kaden said as he walked over to the Demensionator and lifted it up. Sure enough the little rascal was sitting under the hat sucking on a morph-o-ray. With a petrified gasp the father snatched the gun out of his son's hands causing the infant to fall over onto its back. He sighed with relief to find that the safety had been on...but still, that was close. His son started balling.
"No wait, don't do that. Shh, shhh. Come on, don't cry." The father picked his pup up and cradled him in his arms. The child's little hands grasped at his father's fur and held it tightly so that Kaden winced. "There, there. Don't cry. I've already done enough crying for the both of us. You have to be brave now. Okay. I know things are going to be hard and dangerous, but I promised your mother I would keep you alive. I intend to keep that promise. So you have to stop crying and trust me. Can you do that?" The father continued whispering to his child and rocking him back and forth. But the babies crying only became louder.
"Sir," Aphelion interjected. "I believe the baby is asking for nourishment."
Kaden almost slapped himself in the head. "Of course. I really am a poor excuse for a father, aren't I." He jumped up and began searching through the coolers for milk with one hand while the other continued to rock the child. Finally he pulled out a small bottle of chocolate milk. Kaden grimaced, knowing it was not proper for a young lombax pup, but he had nothing else to offer. Grabbing latex glove he tied all the fingers in knots except for the thumb which he poked a hole in. He then wrapped the glove around the carton creating a makeshift baby bottle which he offered to his son. At first the child couldn't figure out how to get at the drink and both father and son struggled till the baby finally clasped on with his mouth and started sucking. Both lombaxes gave a sigh of relief.
The baby sucked hungrily, his tail swishing back and forth in delight. The father stared down at his son as he drank, pride and wonder filling Kaden to see the strong and healthy child. Everything about the pup was mini and precious. The orangish striped ears flopped about as the child squirmed, often getting in the way as he tried to snuggle against his father's chest. A silky yellow fuzz covered the baby's body and on the end of his tail was the softest pom pom Kaden had ever seen. The little hands gripped tightly to his father's fur, the mini fists clasping and unclasping in a rhythmic pattern. The only thing not small were his eyes which looked disproportionate to the rest of him. Large and dilated, the father found himself lost staring into the black inkiness of the pupils before the lids closed over them and the child fell into slumber.
A tear of sadness and joy trickled down Kaden's cheek as he stared down at his little miracle. His hands traced the child's belly and side, feeling the new wombs from Tachyon's claws that scarred his perfect little skin.
"Oh my beautiful boy," He whispered into the sleeping child's ear. "I will always be here for you so you'll never alone. I promise."
The young lombax sat alone in the dim lighted room of the Detention center. His shoulders were hunched and his hands hung loosely by his side. The two large ears hid his face from view and his tail hung limply to the ground. His eyes, however, were sparkling with activity.
"Why," he whispered to himself. "Why does nothing ever seem to go right for me?"
The sound of footsteps caught the lombax's attention and he looked to the metal door straight ahead of him. Along with the footsteps was a sort of heavy clanging, metal points hitting on metal surface. His eyes flashed with recognition.
The door swung open and in walked several cragmite Enforcer Forces, followed by a tall and spindly robotic throne. The lombax didn't need to look up to know who was on the throne.
"You insubordinate offspring of pain!" The raspy and high pitched voice of the great cragmite emperor blasted him with insults. "Of all the idiotic and stupid things you've ever done this is by far the absolute winner of complete foolishness.. You of all people should know the rules. Is there even a brain inside that fuzzy skull?"
The lombax kept his head down, hiding the light in his eyes with the shadows from his large ears.
"Hey! Look at me when I'm talking to you."
The lombax remained in his hunched posture. Tachyod hissed then turned to the other guards. "Leave us."
The soldiers looked at each other as if they wanted to argue, but they nodded. Even though Tachyon was a puny cragmite he was emperor, liberator of their race, and a respected concurrer. In the end they trusted that their lord would know how to discipline the cursed lombax sitting in front of them.
The kids eyes flicked up when he heard the closing of the door echo in the now empty room. Good. "Dad-"
"Ractshet!" Tachyon almost screamed. Ractshet could feel Tachyon's beady black iris stared down at him with disdain and disappointment. "You striped livered fuzz brain. Boggled eyed bimbo. Colossal eared cork head. Plush tailed-"
"Alright, I get it! I messed up. But I don't see why you have to blow this out of proportion. It was only a small larceny."
"If you can't see why this is situation you've put me in is so bad then you truly are thick in the head. Your a descendent of cursed race, do you really need anymore bad press than that? And what about me, do you even think about how your stupid stunts reflect on me? I am an emperor of a great and powerful nation, do you know how much pressure I have on me to keep up my image. And add on to that you and your ridiculous antics, it's almost unbearable."
"I'm sorry, alright!" Ractshet burst out, no longer able to hold in his emotions.
Tachyon looked down on his adopted son. The kid was distressed and wretched looking. The emperor had to cough to hide the smile that flashed on his scaly lips. "What am I going to do with you? You know I'm only being hard on you to help you. Look at yourself. Your a lombax. Already I have to fight every day to keep you here without you stirring things up. The others, well, they just can't forget the heinous crimes your kind committed against us."
"I may look like them but I'm not one of them."
"I see that, you see that, but they don't. When they look at you they see their enemy. And can we blame them?"
"No," Ractshet eyes dropped a moment, but then they rose again with hope. "But I can prove it to them. I'll prove I'm loyal only to the cragmites. All I need is the chance to do that.."
Tachyon felt pride to see the desperate look in the eyes of the lombax, he really did hate his kind. "Honestly, I don't think there is anything you could do to change their mind. You will always remind them of their past sufferings. Any little thing you do could end all my years of hard work."
"I just wanted to make friends."
Tachyon saw the longing in the child's eyes."Oh, Ractshet, Ractshet, Ractshet. You should know by now you can never have friends."
Ractshet hung his head in defeat as the words sunk in.
And he believed them.