Okay so real talk: this has been one of the hardest chapters for me to write. I don't want to poison the well, so I'll have my reasoning at the end if anyone wants to know why, instead of coloring your perception of it too much up here. On to the best part of all this now: the reviews!
Beasty12321: The flashbacks were a nice change of pace and finished the little arc that was Patrick.
Glad you thought so, but honestly I'm just more glad that I wrote them. I think Reaper was right about a lot of the story seeming a bit unrealistic without them.
SolidReaperJj: See this is what I was talking about, this fills in all the voids you left in before. Now I can move on lol.
The more we poke at each others stories, the stronger they will be. Plus my ocd was getting to meon the last chapter.
Now we have a little more solid ground on how he feels about Hekapoo, that little date night was cute. You did a great job and now I feel so special lol.
Hey thanks a lot for the recommendation of writing it, yanno? I never really thought about how inconsistent it seemed before with his attitude, since I knew his motivations from the get go. Without that chapter, those little inconsistencies could've really devalued the quality I'm trying my damnedest to build in this story, so you should feel special bud! ;P
The Book of Eli: And the teasing continues as Marco sets out to warm Hekapoo to him more. Still got to say I like all the call backs to the episode Running with Scissors. Plus I'm pretty sure Hekapoo misses messing with Marco...
Oh those years of Marco being caged up were extremely boring for Hekapoo, I promise. I do like to think she genuinely loves and enjoys interaction with him, so trust me there will be more teasing and banter as we move forward. Also, I'm glad my hard work isn't going unnoticed: I've been trying to build continuity with canon into this story as often as I possibly can, and sometimes it really can be a bit constraining. But that's part of what I like about writing this fanfic, yanno? It's like, a challenge to take these already established characters in an already established universe, and write them in such a way that they remain true to themselves yet also true to my own expression in the narrative.
Tonyfalcon: So far this fiction has been my favorite and I hope in the future this story gets more "juicy" in upcoming chapters. ;)
First off, love your name: I don't know if the Tony Hawk pun in it is intentional or not, but it makes me smile so I love it. Secondly, It's crazy you can say this fic has been your favorite, because it's my first one and I never thought it'd ever really get more attention than like one dissinterested person, but wow am I honored you feel that way. Also, this story has far from reached peak juiciness yet, so hopefully you'll stay along for the ride as big things will be coming. ;)
Lachatnoire: Great story so far! Unfortunately I can't continue past chapter 3 because chapter 4 seems to be chapter 6... I'm on the fanfiction app so maybe that's the issue? If not, please fix! This is great for a first time fic and I'm dying to read more!
Thanks for such kind praise about my first awful little fanfic! Hopefully I fixed it before you died completely! XP
Chapter 8: The Exploding Plains of Flendor
Marco's feet skid along the bright blue grass below them, as he abruptly tries to stop his forward momentum. The portal he threw himself through seemed to be situated peculiarly close to a cliff, and he just manages to stop himself from flying off the edge. As he looks down into the chasm below, he notices that there is no discernible end in sight. Gulping hard, he slowly backs away from the steep drop, after having been filled with a strong sense of vertigo.
He falls flat on his back and takes some time to let the tension leave his body. As Marco is staring in the sky, he notices something quite peculiar: Dragons sail through it like ships, on a never ending ocean dotted with islands that seem to take the place of clouds. The sky here is a breathtaking sight in itself: it appears to be only midday, yet the firey oranges and hot pinks typically reserved for sunsets explode into the eyes of anyone lucky enough to see it. Marco grips the silky soft grass he's laying on in awe. It was one of the most beautiful sights he'd ever seen.
After taking some time to enjoy the simple beauty of this place, and breathe in its crisp, refreshing air, Marco picks himself up and looks around the rolling plains he's standing on. It appears to be one of the larger sky islands, probably five miles in length, with a strange neon green lake about a mile away from where he now stands. Deciding it would be best to check out the lake, Marco begins a trek en route to it. After about an hour and a half, he arrives at the lake.
Immediately Marco notices that the strange green fluid appears to be bubbling and fizzing. 'I'm not sure I can even drink that', he thinks to himself frustratedly, 'How am I going to find any Hekapoo here if I can't even spend more than a couple days here without dying of dehydration?' He eyes the strange substance once more and wearily decides, 'Well, I've lived an interesting life right? Far more dangerous and awesome then I ever imagined it would be: might as well just try the stuff: You only live once.' He dips his face in and takes a sip, surprised by what he finds, he takes another. "It's just sparkling water", he says aloud in confirmation to himself. 'And I thought these places couldn't get any stranger...', he begins to let his mind drift away from the problems at hand then looks around and realises one more huge problem he'd have to overcome. "Now how am I supposed to go anywhere out here!?", he shouts out in exasperation. As if to show things could always get worse, the ground beneath his feet shook in reply.
Hekapoo had noticed Marco enter the dimension from a few landmasses away, and was quickly approaching his position. She jumps from one rolling plain to another on her dragoncycle, hoping she's not too late. As she looks off to her left, she notices him very confused and looking at the shaking island beneath his feet. A sharp turn and a jump off the edge, and she's soaring through the sky in his direction: her dragons wings stretch out catching the air, giving a few flaps to help them get high enough to glide the distance. Within seconds she lands on the shaking ground and dismounts her companion as an awestruck Marco stares. "That was so coo...", he begins before she cuts him off. "We need to go. Now!", she says authoritatively, causing Marco to try and say something else in response. Before he can get the words out; however, he's smacked in the back of the head just hard enough for him to lose balance and go plummeting off the edge. "AHHHHH!", he screams as he stares down into an unending drop below him.
(Music if you like: Deja Vu by Dave Rodgers)
Marco's heart races at speeds he didn't know possible, and his breathing turns to hyperventilation. Within seconds of looking into what it would mean to fall forever, Marco passes out. Hekapoo, after chastising herself for being so stupid, throws herself off the edge after him. She tucks her arms and legs in tightly, and angles herself as directly as she can to eliminate as much drag as possible, then reaches out when he seems close enough. After missing her grip the first few tries, she eventually catches him by the arm and let's out a high pitched whistle. Her dragon arrives at her side at record speed, and within only seconds the entire crises is solved. 'Oh shit, that's right', Hekapoo thinks as she remembers why she knocked him off in the first place.
Her dragoncycle's wheels impact with the ground of the nearest island but they are by no means safe. Without stopping, they speed to the edge of this island and jump for the next one as the original landmass they were on explodes in a cacophony of noise and silver light. A chain reaction occurs as island after island pop behind them. Looking far ahead Hekapoo sees an island much like the others inhabiting the sky, except the grass on this one is a dull grey color, and it's soil is a darker grey color as opposed to the rich brown color every other one has. She looks back to see that the exploding island chain is gaining on them, and knows that her dragoncycle can't carry them both over to safety, so she commits to the ultimate sacrifice: as they approach the end of the plains they'd landed on only seconds ago, Hekapoo jumps off towards the one in the distance and then jumps off her companion in midair.
The dragoncycle continues to carry Marco's limp body onward as Hekapoo falls swiftly through the never ending sky. "Whelp, that was pretty badass if I do say so myself", she comments aloud, for only herself to hear. Then she smirks as the explosion chain loudly approaches and hits the island right above her. BOOM! Her flame is instantly put out by the shock wave and the last thing she sees as she departs from this world is her majestic companion landing on the lifeless land far out of the reach of the chain reaction.
A few hours later
Marco comes to screaming, the last thing he remembers being falling into what seemed like an infinite void. He turns onto his other side to see he's woke his saviour, a large dragoncycle, up and freaks out about it as well. And finally Marco looks up to see an annoyed looking Hekapoo tapping her foot impatiently at him, making him scream even louder in shock. Not taking to kindly to being shouted about as if she was the scariest thing he'd ever seen, Hekapoo kicks Marco hard in the side. "You're safe now idiot, so you don't have to wake up screaming all cowardly at me like I'm some hideous beast", she says with a huff. Marco coughs and sputters as his screaming lungs are silenced and replaced by a screaming feeling of emptiness inside them as her kick winds him. After a few moments of catching his breath and getting his bearings, Marco looks up to his noble, self-sacrificing saviour in anger. "OW!?", he says as he rubs the back of his head, feeling that the hair back there was scorched against his skin.
"Ow? Really hot stuff? I save you and that's the first thing you say to me?", she asks in faux indignation, "And to think I actually threw myself off a cliff for you. Shoulda just let you fall", she finishes with her tongue out.
Slightly annoyed that she's teasing him right after a near death experience, Marco fires back, "Yes ow! You wouldn't have had to save me if you hadn't have smacked me in the back of the head in the first place...and while we're on the subject would you stop with that!? I'm gonna get a bald spot if you keep burning my hair like that!"
"Hey, you need a haircut anyways Shaggy", she replies, sticking her tongue back out at him and blowing an agitated raspberry at him.
He eyes her up and down, waiting for some explanation as to why she did what she did. Instead of wasting her breath trying to explain herself; however, Hekapoo figures seeing for himself would be best, so she searches along the skyline for any trembling islands. As soon as she spots one, she interrupts an agitated Marco who was about start chastising her again, and turns his head to see an incredible sight.
Marco stares at the trembling Ilse far off into the distance curiously, and is blown away as it explodes in a flash of bright silver light. Within seconds all of the islands within about a ten mile radius of it had also been reduced to floating rubble by multiple brilliant chain reactions occurring all at once. "Woah", was all he could even think to say in response. "What was that?", he asks with a genuine sense of wonder shining in his eyes.
"Welcome to the Exploding Plains of Flendor, bud", she deadpans as if the amazing display before them was nothing to write home about. Marco's thoughts remain captivated with the incredible sight he'd just seen for a few minutes before a panic creeps within him. He begins to look around him for the nearest island he could jump to in case this one explodes, only to see that the closest one would be a thirty yard jump up and away from his current position. Dread pools in his stomach as he realises he's a sitting duck here, and it doesn't go unnoticed by Hekapoo. She touches him on the shoulder and he jumps defensively at the contact: the gears working behind his eyes were the primal gears within all humans that were hardwired to survive, and she could see that they were hard at work because her test had activated them within him.
"Marco", she calls out in a voice more soothing than even she thought she could make, "it's okay, okay?", she asks her frightened friend. Almost immediately, her soothing voice puts Marco at ease. His gaze softens and he nods, though it's clear he's still a bit shaken inside. "Look", she says as she plucks some of the ashen colored grass from beneath their feet and shows it to him, "This island is inactive Marco. It's why all the plants here look like they've been burnt to ash", she explains. Marco takes in the scene around her and realizes that what she's saying is true. All the grass that grows here is patchy and sparse, with dry grey earth showing bare in many places. A few trees are scattered throughout the landmass, but they have no leaves and are a similar ashen color to the grass: they reach up to the colorful heavens around them in a twisted and gnarled growth, providing a stark juxtaposition to the bright vibrancy that exists everywhere else around them.
"But...how?", Marco asks, bewildered by the surreal scene around him. "How are we even standing on this thing", he ponders aloud, "Surely it isn't big enough for the gravity to keep us attached?"
Hekapoo remained silent, for she'd never had the patience to listen to Omnitraxus Prime's ramblings about the variations of physical laws in different dimensions of space time, so truthfully she had no answer that would satisfy her curious companion. She simply walked to a nearby tree and sat up against its large trunk: she enjoyed the partial shade it provided her, and patted a spot next to her for Marco to join her. He walked up next to her and sat down, resting his back against the tree to. He looked to the fiery haired woman next to him and felt shaken. To look upon her was to look upon the chaos of the multiverse, he'd come to realize, and his mortal mind couldn't handle the myriad of shifting forms and ideas it dredged up from his depths: it played into his fear that everything was ejected into a cold, dark void from the center, screaming and with no purpose to it all. But then such awful thoughts ceased as he felt her lay her head on his shoulder softly.
They sat and enjoyed each others company for quite some time before Marco's anxieties began to creep back through him. His conscientiousness was screaming at him to get back to work, and he wasn't going to deny it's request, so he asks Hekapoo, "So how am I supposed to get around without a friend like yours?" They look at her dragoncycle and see it watching the various islands, curiously like a cat, as if it could see things in them that were invisible to their own senses. Not wanting the simple pleasure of a peaceful respite in her normally all too chaotic existence to end, she considers not answering him before ultimately deciding that she must.
"Well", she begins with a smirk, "who said you wouldn't be getting your own little friend?" Marco's eyes go wide and his mind starts racing about all the possibilities.
"How? When? Now?", Marco fires off questions, tripping over his words as he can hardly contain his excitement. Hekapoo can't help but smile at the big dumb grin on his face. It reminds her that no matter how much he's been changed by the game, he's still got the same heart he's always had. She climbs onto her dragoncycle and pats the seat behind her. Marco climbs on eagerly and holds on to the seat, before Hekapoo takes his hands and wraps them around her waist.
Marco blushes a bit, causing Hekapoo to laugh her impish laugh and tease him. "What's the matter big boy, you scared of a five foot nothing woman like me?", she says with a sultry smile. He shakes his head no and she responds with, "Good. Just hold on tight and if I feel you poking into my back I might just throw you off...of course I might not", she finishes with a wink. Before a flustered Marco can respond, Hekapoo gets her scaled friend going and off they go, speeding off the edge and flying to a nearby island.
Many hours later
Marco yawns and says to Hekapoo, "Hey are we gonna be there soon? I'm pretty tired.."
"It's funny you mention that", she replies as they near another dull grey island, "because we're gonna make camp up ahead for the night", she says as she points to the nearby safe land. Marco follows her finger to the floating mass ahead and he's not sure if he's just tired or if she's nuts, because it looks to him like its covered in nesting dragons. He blinks some sleep out of his eyes and looks again to see that he, in fact, is not dreaming. Before he can protest they jump from their current location to the dead plains ahead. They slow to a stop nearby a varied group of dragons who are sleeping all nestled in with each other.
"Hpoo", Marco snaps in a hushed tone, "are you bonkers!?" She smacks him in the back of the head for using the nickname she hates so much and he has to bite down on his arm to keep from yelling out. After a moment spent composing himself he whispers, "Owwww! Why are we here, do you want me to get eaten alive?", he asks and shuts his mouth quite quickly afterwards when a nearby white dragon stirs.
"Look", Hekapoo begins in a hushed tone, "you can't get around here without a mount, so if we're going to continue our little game, I have to help you get yourself one. It's pretty easy relatively speaking", she continues, "all you gotta do is pick a dragon and sleep with it."
Marco gulps and is quite unsure of how to respond to this new revelation. "You mean like...", he slips one finger in and out of a hole he makes with two others on his other hand, earning himself another hard slap to his poor, gorwing bald spot. Hekapoo scolds his immaturity in such a crucial situation, but is internally laughing hysterically at the notion. They sit in silence for a moment while she musters every bit of self control she has in an effort to not bust out laughing.
"No, stupid, I don't mean for you to rape the beast", she says incredulously, "but simply to sleep, as they do, with one", she says as she points over to the large weyr of dragons. Marco looks over to the sleeping beasts then back to his companion, confusion and sleepiness very obviously present on his face. She looks back at him and says, "This place is very unstable: islands explode constantly, with little warning to when, so these dead ones are perfect nesting places. They're safe, and provide a great peace to these intelligent creatures", she explains, "the weyr is also a great burden lifter for our scaly friends over there. They nest so close to one another because they must trust and care for one another to exist in such a hectic world. So you're going to have to sleep among them, and hope that when they wake, one of them will see something in you that compels them to protect you from the rest...then you'll be one with your dragon", she finishes with a bit of flair.
The idea didn't sit well with Marco, but this whole dimension was starting to wear on him. Everything floating in a great sky except for them, somehow they manage to stay grounded on chunks of rock that could explode under their feet at any second, and the only way to really reconcile such issues is to travel on the backs of winged beasts who could destroy them at any moment: it just didn't sit right inside him. He loved his freedom, and the chaos it could bring, but at the end of the day he's still human. He still has some affinity to order, and a world that makes sense, so instead of continuing to argue, he steps carefully into a place amongst the dragons, and lays down for some sleep.
Okay so in continuing the real talk from before: I think I should give some explanation to why the chapter I consider to be the weakest in the story was also the chapter that took the longest time and most effort to produce. Put simply: I've got alot of life stuff going on. I'm only a young man, so I won't take you all the way back through my short life, into my childhood to give you a sob story far beyond what you would have the sympathy to spare for a total stranger online, but I do feel the need to be honest with you guys about this much. This story is partially in existence because I have a very hard time sticking to anything, so normally I just float from interest to interest aimlessly. It's not as if I have no passion for life, as I delve into these interests very deeply very quickly, I just feel all motivation to continue doing much of anything leave me after a week or a few of doing them. Alas it's not all doom and gloom friends! I'm on the fast track to putting my life back together and carving an ordered world from the dragon of chaos we call life, and this little endevour is just one baby step in the process of running dead on at my problems.
Truthfully, I'd like to take this opprotunity to thank every single one of you who reads my trash: It means the world to me goys.Either way, the next chapters are looking up to be much more interesting than this one, so stay tuned everybody!
Also, sorry for anyone who likes the music: I really did'nt have any scenes in this boring chapter that I thought could use music, but I might retroactively add it to the unpublished document and leave this bit in anyways cuz lulz.