Title: A Million Miles from Nowhere

By: Lana

Description: Well, they get stuck out in a desert. That's all I'll say.

Disclaimer: I own no part of Diadem except the stuff I made up for the purpose of this story

Additional Notes: I wrote parts of this after the second book, so some of it may seem outdated (example: there is no Score/Helaine pairing, or pairing of any kind for that matter.) Hope you like the story, and remember.feedback is lovely.

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They had faced goblins, trolls, evil wizards, and snakes, but Score was sure they were facing their biggest challenge of all on this strange desert planet. It wasn't because of any magical influence, but rather the total lack of magic altogether. He didn't think any of them, even Helaine, and Pixel in particular, were used to being outside in the scorching heat for hours. Without their powers, it seemed dubious that they would even make it out alive.

This brought up the issue of how they had gotten there. Score had finally convinced his friends to take a vacation with him to Earth, for old times' sake. Helaine had been the most reluctant; she had not wanted to wear the scandalous clothing that Earth girls wore. They had been creating a portal, jumping through.and then they had ended up here. Wherever "here" was. Everything was beginning to look the same in this place, even the dunes. Finally, he just sat in the sand and started wallowing in self-pity. Helaine and Pixel sat beside him, each looking worn out and at their wits end. The first thing they had done when they arrived was to try and create another portal to get out. It had done nothing but left them tired and confused. Score had then tried to create water, and discovered he could not, even with the use of the gemstones.

"This is stupid. I know our powers aren't supposed to work as well on the Rim Worlds, but they don't work at all!"

"Maybe we're not on a Rim World. Maybe we're on the outside." Pixel mused, mostly to himself.

Score flopped onto his back, ignoring the feel of the burning sand through his shirt, and stared at the immense, clear sky. Not a cloud, certainly no chance of rain in this godforsaken place. Wait, he did see a cloud. A small, almost invisible puff was gliding gently along on the breeze. Score suddenly sat up straight, sending sand flying everywhere. There was no breeze, how could that cloud be moving toward them as they sat in the sand? Stumbling to his feet, he glanced again at the vapor, which was suddenly taking on a head, wings, body, feet, and tail.

The dragon was immense, nearly 100 feet long, and was the color of dust, the sand which they sat on. The gigantic beast alighted only yards from the space they occupied. The majestic head swung around to reveal blood-red eyes, lacking pupils and whites, and a mouthful of glistening, drooling teeth. Score wanted to cry out, but his parched throat refused to cooperate, all he could do was stare, open-mouthed, at the colossal monster which filled his vision.

Out of the corner of his eye, Score saw that Helaine had stood up and drawn her sword. Pixel was frozen to the ground, lips parted in a silent scream, much like his own.

The glint of metal from Helaine's blade seemed to enrage the beast further. Score wanted to tell her to put it away, but this dragon held him in a trance, and he could not speak to save his life, which appeared to be about to end soon, the savage animal was crouching, ready to pounce upon Helaine. He sprung up, and Score tried to close his eyes so he wouldn't see his friend torn to shreds, but couldn't.

"Iliac!" A biting shout came out of nowhere, and suddenly, the dragon pulled back in mid-air, touched back down to earth, and roared indignantly. Shakily, Score glanced around for the source of the voice that had saved them. He saw a woman making her way along the colossal side of the beast, scowling at their party of three. The dragon seemed to shrink under her glare, and lay down on his stomach, resting his head on his paws. Yes, paws, they were more like paws than any reptilian feet, Score thought. The woman herself looked human. No extra eye or leg that he could see. Just an average sized woman with hair that matched her dragon and an apathetic face, save for the grimace.

"He's such a devil," the woman remarked, laying her hand on the giant's head and patting him gently. "Swords anger him. Hand it over," she said, indicating Helaine's sword. She clutched it tightly. "No."

Abruptly, the woman nodded to the dragon, and he in turn advanced upon Helaine again. When he was a few feet away, he reluctantly stopped.

"Give it here," she repeated, holding out her hand. Helaine handed it to her shakily, keeping her eye on the dragon's red, furious eyes. Once the weapon was in the woman's possession, she held it up and studied it, making a face. "Cheap metal. What the hell do they make swords out of these days? This came from Ordin, right?" at her nod, "Figures. It reeks of bad craftsmanship. The most I'll get for this is 10 subgen, assuming anyone is thick enough to buy it." This didn't seem to sit well with Helaine, who scowled at the woman's rude comments on her prized possession.

"Who are you?" Score asked her. Or what, he mentally added.

"My name is Yarra, Earth boy. And it looks like Iliac and I are your only hope of rescue." She smiled nastily, her dragon companion eyeing them up hungrily.

"What are you doing here anyway? It's not like this is a prime vacation spot," Helaine muttered, still aggravated about her sword.

"Hey, how did you know I'm from Earth?" Score interrupted.

"You stink of air pollution, a quality unique to your fair planet. And to answer this rude girl's question," that earned her another scathing look from Helaine, "I am here because you are."

"Oh, no. You aren't another person who was mad at us in another life and now wants to kill us, are you?" Pixel wondered.

"That's ridiculous. I had no quarrel with the Three. It's just that sometimes people who get stranded here have something of more value than an Ordin sword." That last jab was the final straw. Helaine was taking no more insults about her weapon.

"So you're a thief." Helaine accused crossly.

"Don't be vulgar! Just for that, I won't even help you off this planet, like I did with the others."

Yarra tossed Helaine's sword onto the dragon's back, and climbed up after it. Iliac reluctantly started to move away from Pixel, Helaine, and himself.

"Wait!" Helaine shouted. "You can't leave us here!"

"Yes I can," Yarra responded, and as if to prove her point, Iliac crouched and leapt into the air, beating his huge wings to keep him aloft. Soon they were merely a speck in the huge, cloudless sky. And the three friends were back where they started.

"Now you've done it, Helaine. If you could have controlled that tongue of yours, we could have been out of here."

"Score, I don't think she can get out of here. Remember, magic doesn't work here."

"The dragon," Pixel, who had been quiet until then, said abruptly.

"Don't even mention that thing to me again. I lost my sword because of him," Helaine growled.

"No, that's how she gets off the planet. He must be able to make the jump somehow."

"Well, that does us a whole lot of good now. He's gone."

"I guess we'll just have to go until we can find a town or something."

The burning sun was lower in the sky, and the air was getting cooler. Score's mind turned uncomfortably to the fact that human can only survive three days without water. It had already been two.