Hi, there! Years and years ago, I found a show on Jetix that I fell in love with, and I, like most of you, was frustrated that the next season was canceled. Recently, I discovered the show again and renewed my love for it. I've introduced my niece and nephew to it as well, and they have fallen for it.
This is my first Dragon Booster story, and it's a remake of "When Opposites Attract", the episode where Artha and Beau are drained of energy. I've taken out the Prophets, as I just couldn't quite fit them in, and added in some other elements that I think would have made the episode better. I've added in some things, and made some changes as well, as any who have read my stories know I'm apt to do.
I doubt I've gotten all the characters correct, but I tried my best. This is the result of a week's worth of writing/watching the episodes again. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a review! Maybe I'll write another story!
.~*Winds of Change*~.
Artha Penn yelled as the Shadow Booster's purple mag-powers threw him side to side, into buildings, and into the street. He felt powerless to retaliate against the powerful abilities that he had not yet fully learned. Why was the Shadow Booster, someone so new, able to use these abilities this well? He didn't have time to think on it as he crashed into another building with enough force to crack a few of his ribs.
Falling to the ground, he groaned, holding his side, and looked over at his black and gold dragon, who was battling the black and purple dragon that belonged to the Shadow Booster. Beau had his work cut out for him, and was struggling. Was it perhaps because Artha was in trouble? Their energies had been so mixed lately... Artha could feel his own energy ebbing away as he fought to get back up. "Beau..." he murmured, watching him try his best to fight against the other dragon.
Where had these enemies come from, anyway? Strong and powerful... How did he get that way in just a few months since their first meeting? Who was teaching them? Someone more powerful than Mortis, it seemed.
Finally standing, he jumped to the side in time to avoid another blast from the Shadow Booster and held up his arms, blocking the mag-balls that were thrown at him. Before he could even form his own attacks, he was picked up and thrown into another building, for sure breaking a few ribs with a pained cry.
Beau, noticing him at last, made a run for his Booster, but was struck hard by the other dragon and knocked to the ground with a screech as his leg was sliced open by a sharp claw.
Struggling to his feet, Artha let out a yelp as he was picked up by the purple mag-energy and was thrown towards his dragon. Ah, well, at least that's where he had been aiming to go! He didn't make it all the way from the fall, and instead forced himself up and he crouched down beside his injured dragon.
Putting an armored hand on his dragon's head, Artha examined him. "Beau?" He could see that his foreleg had a nasty cut on it, and he knew that Beau wouldn't be able to support himself walking. Where were the others? Were they safely watching him get his butt kicked? He was glad they hadn't stepped in. This had gotten nasty fast. Honestly, he was surprised no one had guessed his identity as Artha Penn, given how often the others were seen at the scenes of Dragon Booster exploits without him.
Hearing a strange voice, he lifted his head and looked at the Shadow Booster, who seemed to be looking at his gauntlet. Was the gauntlet... talking? Mag-rip? His eyes widened, seeing his enemy gathering quite a lot of energy to him, and covered Beau, trying to protect his dragon from the oncoming attack.
Feeling the mag-energy connect, he and Beau were both screaming in an instant as their energies were pulled away from them. This wasn't like how it was with regular energy drain whips. This was something much more powerful; something that seemed to be draining their very life essence along with their energy.
Growing weaker by the second, Artha could feel the painful process of his fused-to-his-body armor fading in and out of existence. It was as if his own flesh was being ripped away and glued back on repeatedly.
The attack ended after what seemed like hours, and Artha opened his eyes to see why, only to find Wyldfyr there with Kitt Wonn, using their red thruster gear to create a wall of flames.
"Artha!" Kitt called, looking back at him. "You have to get up!"
She paused a moment as he let out another cry, his armor fading in and out again. "What's happening? You're losing your armor!"
He never had the chance to respond to her as a mag-energy wave sent the two of them flying through the wall and into a large pipe.
Moordryd grinned within his armor, but was also troubled. He hadn't been trying to form a mag-wave, but another mag-rip to drain the energy out of Kitt's dragon as well... but his gauntlet seemed to have other plans. It wouldn't let him form the rip! An ancient voice had fought against him and Armeggaddon, telling them that enough was enough.
Moordryd was confused, wondering if he had imagined it. "Armeggaddon, what was that?" he asked, looking at his gauntlet amulet.
"Never you mind. The Dragon Booster still draws breath. Follow them and finish the job!"
"I've taken enough, haven't I? He won't be bothering us for a long time!" Moordryd, while not above causing injury to further his goals, had never taken a life. Not intentionally, at least. Accidents happened, but he had never outright murdered anyone. Looked them in the eye as he stole their life.
"No! Moordryd, he will come back and be stronger! Taken him while he's weakened! Do as I say, boy!"
"V-Very well," he muttered, directing Decepshun down into the same pipe the Dragon Booster had taken.
Flying out of the pipe into the Wastelands of Loane, Artha lay still on the ground, his armor continuing to faze in and out of existence. Beau also did not move, his black and gold form shifting back and forth to his red and blue form with a scream of pain from his energy drain and injury.
Kitt and Wyldfyr were the first to get up, and Kitt looked around, confused for a moment, and then horrified upon realizing where they were. The pink and blue-haired girl got up and hurried over to Artha, trying to help him up. "Are you okay?"
"No... got my butt kicked pretty good," he muttered, coughing and splattering her uniform with a bit of blood. "Lost my jackstick. Couldn't tune to their mag-wave. Probably broke a rib or two, too, and breathing hurts. Everything hurts."
She frowned. "We need to get you hidden. Both you and Beau. Wildfyr, mag him onto your back!" Waiting until after her red dragon did so, she moved over to Beau, looking at his leg. "Yikes. I'd treat you now, but we need to get out of here. They could be coming after us. Can you walk?"
The dragon struggled to his feet, his legs shaking as he tried to remain upright, but he managed to hobble a bit, putting very little weight on his leg.
"Good. Now come on. You and Artha need help, but we're not going to make it up to Dragon City until you rest. Wyldfyr! Mag me!" Once on her saddle and making sure that Artha was on as well as he could, held on by mag-energy, she directed her dragon to walk as she scouted out somewhere safe for them to reside.
From behind her, she could hear Artha's ragged breaths as Wyldfyr walked slow enough that Beau could keep up. 'He sounds terrible... I've never seen him this bad before, and his armor's still fizzing in and out.' She flinched as Beau fell with a scream as his forms shifted back and forth.
"B-Beau..." Artha breathed, looking over at his injured dragon.
"Keep quiet, Artha. Tell him to get up! We're too exposed out here!" Kitt hissed warningly as she looked around for any potential enemies.
"Beau... you gotta get... get up..." Artha began coughing again, ribs shifting within his fizzling armor. "Please, Beau..."
Kitt looked back at him, frowning at the dribble of blood slipping down his chin. If only she could get ahold of Connor or the others! She turned her head and watched as Beau struggled back to his feet, his bleeding leg leaving a trail as he hobbled forward some more.
Making their way slowly into a nearby cave, Kitt let Wyldfyr stand by the entrance on guard while the teenager walked her friend to a spot to lay down in the cave, glancing over as Beau simply collapsed once he was far enough in.
Artha reached over and pulled off his amulet, groaning at the effort. Without his armor on, Kitt immediately began to exam him, getting him out of his racing jacket, wincing at his pained yelp, and cut through his shirt, eyes widening at the angry black bruise that was forming on his sides. Carefully, she felt his ribs, frowning at the breaks she could feel. His breathing was very raspy, causing her to believe that he may have a punctured lung as well.
"I'm hurt, Kitt," he murmured, eyes closed and skin paler than she had ever seen before as she pulled his helmet off of him. "I'm really hurt."
"I can see that, Stable Boy," she muttered, folding his racing jacket into a thin pillow for him to rest his head on. "There's nothing I can do for you here... I'm going to go patch up Beau's leg." She hurried back to her dragon and retrieved her satchel off the saddle, and returned to the now blue-and-red dragon, who let out a scream yet again as he struggled to get up and move to his rider. "Easy, big guy!" she exclaimed, trying to get him to stop, but the dragon was determined to get to Artha, and only laid down when he was in a somewhat protective position beside the boy. "Easy..."
"Hey, boy," Artha murmured, reaching over and running a hand over his dragon's head as Beau rested it beside him. "Guess we're both hu-hurt, huh?" He could smell the blood that oozed from Beau's leg wound. "Take c-ca-care of him, Kitt."
"I am," she responded, kneeling beside the duo and began wrapping the leg injury with a large bandage roll. "I don't know what we're going to do. The Shadow Booster could have followed us down here, we're out of range... Beau can barely support himself, let alone carry anyone."
"You have to go back..." he whispered. "Get my Dad and the others. Bring the trailer or something."
"I can't just leave you here alone, Artha!" she argued.
"Kitt, I'm not... leaving Beau behind, and I'm... too hurt to ride any further," he responded reasonably, followed by another bloody cough. "You have to go! If something happens... I have to try to protect Beau."
She bit her lip, but nodded, knowing he was correct, even though him saying he was going to protect Beau was insane. They both needed medical attention and quickly. As it were, it'd take her at least an hour or more to get back up to Dragon City, provided she didn't run into any trouble along the way. Given their location, trouble was guaranteed. "All right, Hero Boy. All right."
"Hey... if you find my jackstick..."
"Yeah, I know. Make sure to get it back to you." She smiled a bit and tied off the bandage. "There. I'll be back soon."
Artha smiled, turning his head and watching her leave on her dragon. "Be careful," he murmured.
Beau groaned and shifted his head to gently touch his rider's head. He was worried. That energy drain the Shadow Booster had used was something he only barely remembered from his past life, and had killed many a human and dragon, used to serve only one person: a warrior named Armeggaddon. The original Dragon Booster and original Beau had fallen to the move, losing their life in an effort to seal the warrior in the Shadow Track with the original Shadow Booster.
Was it possible that the human warrior had survived these past 3,000 years? The Shadow Track had been destroyed by Artha, Lance, and Moordryd as they beat their fears. Had he been released with the other riders and dragons that had been freed? That had to be it. If he was free and training the Shadow Booster, that explained why the newcomer was so strong.
However, if he remembered right, the original Shadow Booster had been his, the Dragon of Legend, ally... if Armeggaddon had truly escaped, he had corrupted the new Shadow Booster. In the two warriors' final battle, Armeggaddon had taken down the Shadow Booster, as he had taken down all the other Boosters, and perhaps had connected himself to the amulet, as it had vanished after the original Shadow Booster had died.
So, Armeggaddon had returned and chosen a Shadow Booster he could control. With at least one of the Boosters under his control, the upcoming Dragon-Human War would never end.
Hearing Artha's groan of pain, Beau returned from his thoughts and looked at his young rider unhappily. He had known Artha all his life – they were born on the same day, after all, and grew together. He loved the boy dearly, despite their arguments and playful bantering, and to see him in such pain because he had failed to protect him...
He was bleeding, too, from his mouth. That was new. Beau had never seen his rider so hurt before. In all their crashes, battles, and accidents, Artha had never bled from the mouth. The dragon knew nothing about human anatomy, but he knew that this was something serious.
Gently, he nuzzled him, trying to offer some comfort and apology for not getting to him fast enough, even if he had had his paws tied with battling the Shadow Booster's dragon.
"Think we're gonna get... out of this, boy?" the teen asked weakly, leaning against Beau's chin from where he lied on the ground. "Some birthday, huh?"
Beau chortled softly.
"So many years... Used to get... cough... into so much trouble..." Artha smirked, thinking back on the years. He and Beau, having grown up together, had quite the history.
Ever since he could remember, he and Beau would play with each other, and Artha would crawl after Beau and play-race him across the stable yard until their mother's would pull them apart. There were often times that Artha was found in Beau's nest with him, or Beau had found his way to Artha's room and spent the night with him.
As Beau grew bigger, he would take Artha on races around his father's test track. Neither were very experienced, but it was fun for them, and both would be excited as they played around, many times almost crashing because of their inexperience. Artha wouldn't be in a saddle, either, but riding bareback.
Beau had even tried following Artha to school one day, but Connor had quickly stopped that after the young dragon had almost been captured. Beau and Artha had both been cranky about that, and finally Connor had relented and let Artha be tutored at home, which was how Artha had met Parmon, as his mother had been the teacher, and it was thought best to teach them together.
As Artha began to grow closer to other humans, he had started pushing Beau away, much to the hurt of the dragon, but the dragon was always pleased when Artha came out to play and show off his "racing skills" to his new friend.
Connor and Fira would always joke that Artha had already chosen his future dragon, and that maybe he was the Dragon Booster if Beau was indeed the Dragon of Legend. Artha hadn't understood their statements before, but now that he thought about it, it made sense. Years ago, they had already formed a bond. It made sense that Beau would choose him.
All that changed, however, with his mother's accident that took her life when he was eight, just a few months after his baby brother's birth. The accident had put a semi-fear of dragons into him. A fear that caused him to swear off riding, dragons, and his father's stables in general. As the years went on and he matured, he began growing closer to his father's dragons again, especially Beau, but still held that fear of riding them.
On his sixteenth birthday, his father was holding auditions to try to find a rider for Beau since Artha had outright denounced riding in general, and after everyone else had backed off, the teenager had tried getting on Beau's back, but the darn dragon had gotten distracted by a candy bar.
Embarrassed and humiliated, he had stormed off. That night, however, everything had changed. His home was attacked by dragon thieves, he had become trapped in his house, and Beau had rescued him, crouching down to allow him on his back.
That's when their bond had taken a physical form in a bright golden light and the amulet star had appeared on Beau's head in the same shape as the amulet his father had given him earlier that day.
Now here they were, a year later, both injured and lying in a cave. "Yeah... I think... we'll get out of this..."
Beau merely nuzzled him in response and lifted his head, hearing footsteps. The girl, Kitt, couldn't possibly be back already! He sniffed the air and began to growl, struggling to his feet, nudging Artha's gauntlet, hoping he'd get the message to change back into his warrior form, even though it would only give him minimal protection due to the energy drain.
Thankfully, Artha understood it, and though he struggled, he moved the amulet towards the golden gauntlet. "Release... the... dragon," he whispered, connecting the two together, flinching as the armor flowed and covered his body. It flickered a bit, but remained, and with Beau's help, he got to his feet, leaning against him heavily as his ribs shifted again, nearly causing him to double over as he gasped for breath.
"Well, don't you look terrible," the voice of the Shadow Booster asked as he walked into the cave on the back of his dragon. "I'm guessing your friend went to find help. Too bad she's too late."
Artha sighed. "Great. Just who I wanted to see," he muttered, stifling a cough.
"I really should just put you out of your misery, Dragon Loser." He looked down from his dragon with contempt. "You barely have the strength to stand. Simply pathetic!"
"I'm... fine," he murmured.
"Well, in that case..." He began to power up, blinking when he saw the Dragon Booster once more stand protectively in front of his dragon. "What are you doing? You keep standing in front of him and get hit with another blast and you'll die."
"I'm going to protect him," he responded, locking his knees and trying not to wobble as he stood defensively.
"You're a fool, you know that, right?"
"A fool who is willing to die protecting my dragon!" he growled out, ignoring Beau's gentle nudges.
Beau, seeing that his human wasn't going to stand down, gathered what strength he had left and hobbled over, standing beside him as equals. As long as his life-long best friend was going to stand up to protect him, he would do the same!
"Hmph. Fine, then fall as fools." He no longer had any interest in taking the black and gold dragon of legend. Taking him always failed, as did using mind-control gear on him. It'd be better to get him out of the way, right? Kill him, like Armeggaddon said. Yet... Moordryd had to admire the guts of the duo, willing to face him though they could barely stand.
"Do it, boy. Finish the job!" Armeggaddon ordered from the Shadow Booster's amulet.
"The five empires of draconium once worked together to stop the Dragon-Human war, Shadow Booster!" Artha tried to explain. "Red, blue, green, black, and gold. If you kill us, you throw everything out of balance. Another dragon-human war would destroy everything! There would be nothing left for anyone!" He coughed a bit more; just saying all that in one or two breaths had taken it out of him.
Moordryd frowned. The Shadow Booster had once helped the original Dragon Booster end the Great War? "Enough of this foolishness," he growled, charging his energy.
Artha looked at Beau sadly and put a hand on his head, as if saying goodbye and a thousand other thoughts. Blood dribbled out of his mouth as he held his side with his other hand, and he turned his gaze back towards his enemy and closed his eyes, preparing himself for the end. He knew that his friends would move on and hopefully protect the world. His father might even breed a new Beau. Lance would move on and hopefully forgive him. If he was going to die, he was glad it was here, by his best friend.
Moordryd hesitated, seeing this. Such a bond between human and dragon was unheard of, even by him. It was almost an honor to witness.
"MOORDRYD! NOW!" Armeggaddon ordered.
"Ugh! Fine!" He launched his attack, connecting with his weakened enemies and drawing out their energies even further, taking the spoils of battle. He tried to close his ears off to the screams of the dragon and warrior as he watched them both fall. To his surprise, they shifted. The black-and-gold dragon shifted to red-and-blue, and the Dragon Booster... turned into Artha Penn.
"Stable brat?!" Startled, Moordryd released the mag-rip and stared at them both in shock.
Artha lifted his head, looking at him a moment before falling beside his dragon. "Only one... group calls me... that..." he muttered. "You gotta be... Moordryd. Makes sense." He coughed harshly, more blood spewing out of his mouth.
Moordryd stared at him. All this time, he had put up a front, that the Dragon Booster was his enemy. That underneath the armor, he had no other identity. Now knowing who he really was, he stood down. Artha, while a thorn in his side, was not a real enemy to him. Just another fool beneath his feet.
Somehow, seeing the real face of the Dragon Booster froze the Shadow Booster. Artha was just another kid like himself, though more stupid and naïve in nobility. This certainly answered why the 'crew' of Penn Stables was always around the Dragon Booster with no Artha in sight. Why had it taken him so long to figure out?
Beau let out another weakened scream that belonged to a dying dragon, pulling Moordryd from his shocked state.
The Shadow Booster stared at the red-and-blue dragon, watching as he laid beside his rider, his energy well below safety limits. His breathing was labored and weak, as was the teenager's.
He backed Decepshun up. This was wrong. Artha, while a pain, was someone's child. An older brother to an equally annoying brat named Lance that Moordryd was also fond of.
Lance... That kid full of big hopes and dreams, and sometimes wise behind his years. How would Moordryd ever look at him again if he took the life of his older brother? Heck, if he and Artha were in reversed roles, how would he allow himself to die, leaving behind a younger brother? Perhaps it was only because Connor Penn had returned. Moordryd had always admired the way Artha had stepped up and taken care of his younger brother, even to the point of entering dangerous races he wasn't prepared for, just to make sure his brother had food and shelter.
To top it off, Artha had become the Dragon Booster, and Moordryd knew from his own experience with his father, that the pressure was immeasurable. How the Stable Brat had remained sane was astonishing.
Cain was the closest thing Moordryd had to a brother, and would be completely lost if he fell. How would Lance be? Would he take a dark path?
There was once a time where Moordryd didn't do his father's bidding. Where he loved all dragons and was kind to others. Truthfully, Moordryd was more like his mother than his father, but when he had lost her in an racing accident eight years prior, he had turned to darkness at merely eight years of age, becoming like his father before him. The only dragon he loved after that was Decepshun, the dragon his mother had given him, daughter of her own dragon. He raised her, trained her, and they bonded.
If Lance lost his brother, he would turn to darkness, too. If he came and found his lifeless body, he'd cease being the sweet boy and probably become like Moordryd, doing anything to make the pain of loss stop. Cain had pulled Moordryd out of his pain when they had met, but Lance would have no brotherly figure left other than oaf, Parmon Sean.
He didn't want Lance to turn out like he had. He still had a good heart, despite being lost inside. The other part that played into his thinking was that once the Dragon of Legend had chosen him, too.
"Moordryd, why do you hesitate? They are ready to be taken down! Finish them!"
"No, Armeggaddon. This is wrong. They're already very weak."
"They are your enemies! With the Stable Brat out of your way, you have a clear shot to the Academy. The black-and-gold dragon will be out of my way!"
Moordryd blinked. "Your way?" His eyes narrowed. "What am I, just your pawn?" He shook his head. "I am no one's pawn! Not anymore!"
Armeggaddon chuckled from within the amulet. "When I ripped this amulet away from the original Shadow Booster right before I slaughtered him, he said the same thing. Defy me, and you will meet the same fate!"
"You... what?" He shook his head. "If you want to kill the Dragon Booster, do it yourself. I'll have no more part in this!" He removed the amulet from the gauntlet and dropped it on the ground, relaxing now that he had returned to his usual self. "Decepshun, let me down." After she lowered her head, he hopped off his saddle and retrieved his first-aid kit and approached.
"Easy, dragon," he said softly, moving with caution. "I may be your enemy, but I am no murderer."
Beau looked at him, his eyes half closed, and moved his head away from Artha slightly, but near enough to defend him should it come up. He gave a warning growl, telling that he would bite him if he hurt Artha further.
Moordryd knelt beside the fallen hero and frowned as he carefully turned him onto his back. "I did this?" he asked softly, seeing the angry purple-black bruise on the teen's torso. Feeling it, he frowned. "I don't have anything that's really going to help with this, but I can at least bandage them up enough that you can move a bit." He called Decepshun over, having her hold the younger teen up with her teeth as he wrapped the bandage around Artha's torso, binding his ribs together under Beau's careful watch. "Easy, kid. Decepshun, lay him down gently over here."
Moordryd then changed Beau's bandage, as the blood had already seeped through. "Look, dragon, I didn't realize... just how powerful that move was. Armeggaddon told me it only drained energy. I figured I'd drain you, knock you two out for a while to get you out of the way... but you don't seem to be regathering energy," he spoke, pushing the bloody bandages aside and wrapping fresh ones on. "I was a fool, letting myself be played for one. First, by my father, and now by Armeggaddon."
Beau lifted his head and reached out with a paw, resting a claw on the black gauntlet.
"What are you..." The white-haired teen's eyes widened as images flashed before him. Voices of the past. The original Dragon and Shadow Boosters working together. Talking. Laughing. Friends. The fall of the Shadow Booster, dying in the Dragon Booster's arms. The Dragon Booster and original Beau falling to Armeggaddon as he sealed him in the Shadow Track, finishing what the other Boosters had been working towards, ushering in a new era of peace.
Shaking his head, he pulled himself out of the visions, startled. "We were friends?"
Beau nodded, happy to have gotten through.
"That... This is... hard to believe. How could we ever be friends now, though? We've been enemies for so long."
Beau looked over at Artha with a worried smile, staring at the bandages.
"Oh. Well, I suppose..." He fell silent for a few minutes. "Is that why he's been fighting so hard to get into the Academy? To get the training he needs to further his abilities, like me. Huh." He sighed. "And now I've probably taken away any chance of peace the future has. My father and Armeggaddon are out of control. I don't deserve to be a Booster."
Beau frowned and nudged him.
"What? Are you trying to tell me that the original Boosters fought, too?" At his nod, Moordryd laughed a bit, looking over at Decepshun, who had moved back to him. "What, did the Shadow Booster do this to him before?" Another nod, and he frowned. "Really? Was a pawn then, too?"
The dragon nodded yet again, a sad look in his eyes.
He frowned and glanced around, distracting himself for a few minutes as he gathered his thoughts. "Would you really have picked me as the Dragon Booster?"
Beau looked thoughtful, but tapped the gauntlet again.
"You would have picked me for this role? Why?"
Beau pointed his tail at Decepshun.
"Oh, because I already had a dragon?" He smiled at his nod. "Yeah... I wouldn't give her up, either. She was my mother's last gift to me." He reached up and pet his own dragon with a smile.
The dragon of legend smiled as well and looked down at his human, nudging him slightly, trying to get him to respond, but he was out cold. Beau wasn't doing so hot himself, either. He was so tired...
"Easy, dragon. He's hurt pretty bad and pretty weak. If I could return energy, I would, but it's not going to happen. Armeggaddon absorbed it through my amulet. I should have realized... I'm so stupid." He sighed and looked back at the dragon, whose head was now on the ground, his eyes closed. "Oh..." He looked up at his own dragon worriedly for a moment before going over to Artha and checking for a pulse. It was weak, but there. Good. There was still a chance, however faint, that he would survive.
"Kitt needs to get here soon with help, or he's going to die. They both will. Despite how that would help us out, this isn't the way to go about it. My mother died much the same way, wasted away because help didn't come fast enough during that relay race." He sighed, thinking for a moment. "There was someone with her, though, when she passed... I can't believe I forgot, but the Stable Brat's father... it was so long ago, I forgot. He tried his best, carrying her to the medics as fast as he could, but nothing could be done."
His father must have forgotten that part in his attacks against the Penn family, or perhaps he blamed Connor Penn for his wife's death? Connor's own wife, Fira, had died in that dreaded relay race in a similar accident, but Connor hadn't been able to save her, arriving too late. The two wives had collided when their gear had failed, from what Moordryd remembered seeing on the viewing screen, and Connor had stopped to help them, but had already found his wife dead, neck broken. To his credit, he hadn't broken down but had instead went to help out the Paynn wife, Zulay, to safety, but ultimately had not been able to save her, either.
"I will... return the favor that my father failed to. I will return Connor Penn's son to him. Then the Paynn debt will be paid."
Decepshun frowned and lifted her head, looking out the cave entrance. Help would not arrive in time unless they did something to help the other two. Like her rider, she had a good heart, and only followed his orders. She had never liked Armeggaddon and his dark teachings. Something had always felt off about him and the way he tried to turn Moordryd, using him like his father did.
She could sense someone outside and perked her head, listening to an odd song.
Oh, I am a Keeper
A scavagin's what I do
I find things and fix 'em
And make 'em all anew
Yes, I find things and fix 'em
And make 'em all work sweeter
For my name is Stewardd
And it's I that leads the Keepers!
Grinning, she walked as quietly as she could towards the entrance and, upon finding the small creature, reached out and yanked him into the cave, almost laughing at his startled shriek.
Moordryd looked up in confusion at the sound, but smile upon seeing who it was Decepshun carried to him. "Ah, Stewardd... Nice to see you again."
The little Keeper looked at him in fright, before his attention was drawn to the fallen dragon and rider. "Dragon Booster!" he said without thinking. Realizing, he quickly covered his mouth.
"Relax. I already know Penn's little secret. I'm trying to... save him. Can you help or not? Decepshun seems to think you can," the Dragon Eyes' crew leader asked bluntly.
"His energy is drained, this is not good." He looked thoughtful. "On my cart, I may have something that will help him at least a little. I found a discarded tandum gear pod. If we attach it to him and your dragon's saddle, we should be able to give him enough energy that would let him survive, yes." He nodded eagerly. "Both of them, as they are connected."
"Dragon Booster tells me they were born on the same day. I was there for story. Beau chose him at hatching, yes. They grew together, side by side entire life."
Moordryd blinked. Was that why the pairing always seemed so in-tune with each other? He had never had a chance to be chosen as the Dragon Booster... but Beau would have chosen him as another Booster. "Hmph. Decepshun, drop him. Stewardd, show me this device."
The short human nodded and hurried out of the cave upon being released, Moordryd running after him.
"This, yes!" Stewardd grinned and grabbed the purple device off his cart along with the Dragon Booster's special green jackstick. "We need much power to transfer the energy."
"Won't my black draconium cause too much trouble for him? We're opposites."
"Need multiple dragons of same draconium color," Stewardd explained. "One is not enough. Your dragon is not evolved enough to be that powerful."
"Then, we have a problem. I assume that Kitt went to get her crew, and all of them are different draconium colors."
Stewardd looked troubled, unsure of what to do. "An evolved dragon may be able to be powerful enough... or I will have to tune to each different frequency one at a time."
Moordryd blinked at that. That was why the jackstick was so powerful! It was able to adapt to different colors! That would be something he could use... but his dragon wouldn't accept other colors, only black. It'd be useless to him. "How much time does he have?"
The odd being frowned a little. "Energy reserves extremely low, bodily injury... not long at all. His energy reserves are going to trying to heal him and that is why they do not recharge. His body is killing itself trying to save itself."
The seventeen-year-old blinked at that. Was the mag-rip really that powerful to cause that? No wonder Armeggaddon wanted him to use it against him so badly. "Can we move him to Dragon City? Do you have anything that would help?"
"Yes, I believe so. Stay here. I have an idea." He passed him the gear and disappeared quickly into the Wastelands.
Moordryd watched him go before taking the gear and jackstick back into the cave and sat down next to his dragon, bored. "Now we wait, Decepshun." He glanced over at Artha, who had opened his eyes and was staring at him. "Oh, you're awake."
The teen groaned, trying to sit up, but the other human's firm hand on his shoulder stopped him. He gave him an odd look, but settled back down. "You're... helping me?"
"Against my better judgement."
"Yeah, I know, I hurt you. I was lied to about what the mag-rip was, and I... I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to cause so much pain to you. I'm no killer. Accidents may happen, but that's what they are. Accidents. Like the explosion at your father's stables. I didn't set those mines. I didn't want them used as nothing more than a distraction. Where they were set... was not where I said to put them."
He shook his head. "You shouldn't move. You're pretty banged up, Penn. Your teacher is terrible, to be honest. You've been the Dragon Booster far longer than I've been the Shadow Booster, so why are you so far behind me?"
"I've... been wondering that... myself," he responded, cracking a small smile.
"Heh." He shook his head. "Your dragon apparently... You remember when he let me ride him?"
"He saw me as a future Booster, apparently. Not as the Dragon Booster, but the Shadow Booster. He showed me... memories, I guess? Of the gauntlet and his own. Apparently the two Boosters were friends, and my so-called current teacher... murdered the previous Shadow Booster," he said with bitterness.
Artha blinked and stared at him. "What, really?"
"Yeah. The original Dragon Booster held him as he... passed." He frowned. "It reminded me of something that happened to my mother years ago, on the track that killed both our mothers. Your father held her as she died. He tried so hard to get her to us, but it was too late."
The black-haired boy was startled. He had never seen this side of his competition before. It was actually a nice change from the usually moody guy with a bad attitude. He remembered that it his memory. Had tried so hard to block it from his memory.
"After my mother died, my Dad had me raised by a nanny dragon. Guess that's why I don't like people too much." He shrugged. "You're lucky, Artha Penn." He looked over at him as the teen shifted wrong and began coughing up blood, the coppery scent causing the white-haired boy to wrinkle his nose in disgust.
"Geez, you're really in bad shape. Hey. Hey! Stop coughing!" His eyes widened and he got up, helping him onto his side so he didn't choke on it. "Note to self – don't throw you against any buildings. Your armor is terrible when attacked by one just as powerful." He shook his head. "That Stewardd guy is taking too long. Decepshun! Mag-us."
"No... can't leave him..." Artha whispered, drawing ragged breaths.
"Look, it's either get you to a hospital or you both die here!" Moordryd argued as Decepshun got them onto her saddle. "I owe your father a debt, and I make sure my debts are paid, unlike my father. Especially this one." Making sure that Artha was secure behind him, he looked back at Beau, who had opened his eyes and let out a weak whine. "I'll get him to safety. I promise. Hyah!"
Beau whined again, watching as his rider and best friend rode away on the back of another dragon, barely clinging to life. He could sense a faintly familiar wicked energy coming closer and closer. Artha was in danger, and he was helpless to save him!
They had maybe gone half a mile from the cave when a powerful energy wave sent both humans and dragon flying to the ground and skidding until they hit a mound of old pillars.
Moordryd groaned and sat up, looking at their attacker with confusion. "Who...?" His body ached, but he was glad of Decepshun who had maneuvered herself enough that she took the brunt of the hit. He checked on her quickly, and then on Artha, pleased to see that he was still breathing.
"I trained you! Taught you! Was there for you when your father was not! How dare you betray me?!" the figure, dressed in the armor of ancient warriors with four almost claw-like arms on his back, demanded, his eyes a narrow red.
"Oh." The white-haired boy looked at Artha. "I have an idea. I have that gear with me, and your jackstick... We can hook it up to Decepshun and you, and try to get him to target the jackstick, can we not?"
Artha nodded weakly. "Let me set the jackstick." He took the device, unlocked it to its full length, and began to tune it to their enemy's frequency.
"Now you work with him?! Your enemy, who has caused you so much grief?!" Armeggaddon demanded, furious.
"I've told you before! If you want to kill him, do it yourself! I'm no murderer!" Moordryd growled, standing up and blocking Artha from sight as he worked on the devices. He moved towards his amulet, only to freeze and hold up the empty necklace carrier. "My amulet! I..."
"Foolish child!" Armeggaddon cackled, gathering his strength. "This will be easier than I thought!"
Moordryd looked back at Artha, watching as he used his own amulet to form his fizzling armor, attaching the tandum pod to his back between his small glide blades. Taking the offered cord, Moordryd attached it to a spot on his saddle, and then thrust the jackstick into the port next to it. "Is that right?"
"We have to draw his power," the young warrior responded, standing up on shaky legs. "Without your armor..." He took a hobbled step forward, followed by another, until he was standing in front of the other teenager. "You may be able to use mag, but wi-without – cough – your armor..."
"Dragon Booster, if you get hit, he'll kill you!"
"I know. That's why you... gotta make sure... I duck in time." He glanced back at him with a small smile.
"I... You're an idiot, you know that?"
"So they say." He looked back at the ancient warrior. "I'm right here! It's me you want! Leave Moordryd alone!"
The ancient warrior cackled. "Once I finish with you, I'll destroy him as well and rip the gauntlets off your corpses! Display your bodies in the front of my army!"
"Oh, he's a charmer," Artha commented, eyebrow raised. "And you worked... with him why?"
"He, uh, promised me power?"
"Now who's the idiot?"
"Shut up, Stable Brat."
"Look, if this doesn't work... you have to get out of here fast... Moordryd, and leave me behind."
"I can't do that! I owe your family a debt!"
"And you've repaid it... by trying to help me. No one said you had... to return me alive. My father failed in that, too. Just... if you get away, keep Lance out of trouble, okay?"
"Yeah... I can try that."
Artha smiled and looked back at the warrior. "This is probably going to hurt a lot," he muttered to himself, making sure he was blocking their plan from view, as Decepshun was keeping her head lowered next to her rider. "But if it works... Ohh..." He wobbled a bit, legs barely staying locked. "Come at me! Or are you all talk?!" he asked, egging on his new enemy.
Armeggaddon growled and attacked at last, sending a high-powered nag-burst towards them.
Moordryd tackled him to the ground, feeling some of his hairs get singed from the high-powered beam. He rolled away from his dragon and the Booster, watching as the beam went into the top of the jackstick instead and flowed down to Decepshun's saddle, causing her to scream as it flowed through her and into the cord, and finally down into the tandum pod, forcing energy into the Dragon Booster armor and ultimately into Artha.
Artha began to yell as the energy lifted him off the ground, filling him with a lot more energy than he had been expecting. A golden beam flew from him towards the cave where Beau remained, sending him the same energy flow that Artha was now receiving.
Armeggaddon looked startled at this. If the Boosters started working together now, all would be lost! "No!" he roared, charging towards them, firing multiple blasts.
Seeing that Artha was defenseless at the moment as he absorbed the energy and sent it to his dragon as well, Moordryd connected himself to his dragon and let his own mag energy flow through him. He may not be at full power, but he could still use mag-claw!
Firing a few short bursts, he fought as well as he could, dodging any return attacks. He could see that the energy burst to the Dragon Booster had drained off at last, and heard a mighty roar as the black-and-gold dragon came charging out of the cave towards them.
Artha crouched on the ground a moment, trying to stabilize himself. He could hear Beau running towards them, a small mag beam holding onto something. "Beau..." Relief flooded him as he stood up and made a jagged run towards his dragon. He had to help Moordryd.
"Dragon Booster!" Moordryd shouted, the only warning that Artha had before a bolt of energy sent him flying through the pillars and rocks surrounding them.
Beau didn't stop running, and sent the small object he had magged towards Moordryd with a roar. After making sure he caught it, he went to try and get his rider, digging in the rubble and magging the larger bits out of the way.
Moordryd looked at the object, surprised to find that it was his amulet. "Thank you, dragon," he muttered. "Unleash the Shadow!" he said, connecting the amulet to his gauntlet and cackling as his armor took form upon him. "Now you face me!" he roared as Decepshun joined him in her pure black draconium state.
Armeggaddon laughed. "You think you can take me on, boy? I trained you! I'm going to teach you a lesson you'll never forget before I destroy you!"
"I'd like to see you try!" he challenged, building up with energy. "You have no dragon!"
"Oh, not one dragon. I have many!" He, too, began to concentrate his energy, pulling it from eight pure black draconium dragons with purple markings that ran out from behind the pillar he rose to stand upon.
Meanwhile, Beau used his mag energy to move boulder after boulder in an effort to get to his fallen rider. He could sense strong draconium of many colors coming their way, including another of almost pure gold bone, and knew that help was arriving.
Finally finding a bit of the blue and gold armor, Beau moved a few more bits of rubble out of the way and freed his rider and friend, nuzzling him with worry.
"That... kinda hurt," Artha muttered unhappily, holding his side and standing up next to his dragon. "Good thing the armor's at full power, or that could have been worse than before." He was still aching horribly, his bones barely mending despite the energy he had gathered. At least his armor had tightened the bracing on his ribs so they didn't shift as much. His breathing, however, left some to be desired, but he couldn't worry about that now. "Let's get going."
Beau magged him safely into the saddle and charged towards the fray, ready to help battle the ancient warrior alongside his fellow dragon and Booster. He roared a challenge as he stood next to Decepshun and Artha began his mag-claw attack alongside his possible former enemy.
"Good to see you're back fighting, Stable Brat," Moordryd called over as he fired more blasts.
"Oh, I'm not 100%, but I'm well enough that we can fight this guy. Listen, I have an idea! We need to pool our powers and try to form a mag-fury!"
"Mortis told me about it. He said that I'm not ready, but if we work together, we can combine and do it! Beau, Decepshun, mag us and prepare for a mag-fury!" As they were lifted up, Artha turned his back to the Shadow Booster and locked arms with him. "You ready?!"
"Not at all. Let's do this!"
They began to spin, Decepshun and Beau pouring as much energy as they could spare to their riders, and balls of gold and purple-black mag energy began to shoot out of the spinning duo.
Armeggaddon was startled at this development, and blocked a few, yet ultimately had to hide behind a cliff to regather his strength. He knew that this would drain the fools quickly, as they were too young and inexperienced to keep it up for long. "Soon, my dragons, they will feel my full fury."
"I... I have to stop..." Shadow Booster complained, breathing heavily.
"Yeah, me, too," Artha responded, letting himself be lowered back down to his dragon at the same time as Moordryd. "Think we got him?"
"Maybe we should take this chance to get out of here? Before he comes back."
"Yeah. Let's go, Beau!"
"Come on, Decepshun!"
The two dragons began sprint as far away from the enemy as they could, both exhausted but determined to get out of there and find safety.
"I bet we're quite the sight," Artha groaned as he and Beau ran alongside the other pair.
"If word gets out, it'll be chaos. You know that, right? They'll think you turned bad." Moordryd snorted at that thought.
"Or you turned good," Artha shot back with a laugh that had him clutching his side again.
"I thought that energy boost would heal you?"
"Doesn't quite work like that. Speeds it up, yeah, but it's gonna have to heal on its own. I'm bound pretty tight right now, but it's getting harder to breathe again," he panted.
"One of your ribs probably punctured your lung. You shouldn't fight if he catches us. You'll die!" He looked at him worriedly. If Artha couldn't fight, he'd be on his own, and he wasn't strong enough to take on Armeggaddon alone! "We need to find a place to lay low before he finds us."
"You won't have to worry so much, ya know. It's me he wants."
"Yeah, but I betrayed him, so he wants both of us."
"I have the dragon that can stop him if I learn to fully release our power. I'm the more dangerous to his plans, though!"
"Are we really going to argue over how much he hates us now? You realize how ridiculous that is, right?" Moordryd had to laugh, though. It was ridiculous, but also fairly amusing.
"Yeah, it kinda is, to be honest, but who cares? Let's just agree that he really hates us."
"Deal." Moordryd stared on ahead, eyes widening when he saw four dragons running towards them. Green, red, blue, and a very large dragon that he recognized from when he battled Artha for the shadow gauntlet. "Ah, looks like your team's arrived finally. But who is that?!" he asked, referring to the giant dragon.
"Oh, that's Mortis, my teacher." Artha wasn't about to admit that Mortis was none other than Connor Penn, his father. "Whoa!" he dodged to the side as a bolt of black draconium mag energy struck the ground beside them. He crashed into an unsuspecting Moordryd, and all four went tumbling, the two boosters thrown from their dragons.
"Watch where you're going!" Moordryd argued, getting up and dusting himself off and stretching.
"He's back!" Artha got to his knees, his ribs knocked around a bit from the fall. A fresh trail of blood rolled down his chin, joining the already crusty blood-covered flesh.
The Shadow Booster turned and looked at the oncoming menace flying through the air, magged up by the eight dragons. "This is not good."
"Nope." He hobbled back to his dragon and got back on, ignoring his pain. "We gotta run!"
Beau roared in response, and as soon as the other rider was on his own dragon, they took off again, dodging and weaving away from the oncoming blasts.
Artha turned around, hitting back mag-balls with his jackstick, trying to ignore the ache in his ribs as he turned side to side.
Moordryd turned in his own saddle, on the defense, as they ran on. "Whoa! Watch it!" he called, having Decepshun barrel into Beau and knock him off course as a large pillar fell in front of them.
Beau screeched to a halt as another pillar blocked their path, and the eight dragons blocked the other exits, and the pillar rubbles were too high to jump over or safely mag the riders.
"Now, my student, you will learn what real pain is!" Armeggaddon gathered his energy into a ball, and then shot a beam out at the Shadow Booster and his dragon, before splitting the beam into a second, connecting with the Dragon Booster and Beau, performing a double mag-rip. "Your energy is now my energy!"
Finally realizing what Artha had gone through less than a few hours before, Moordryd was feeling the flames of pain that raced through his veins as he was robbed of energy, his dragon screeching as she, too, was drained. So, this is what the mag-rip was; this painful energy draining. Did regular energy whips cause this much pain? They must, since whenever he used them against dragons they always let out a cry. Now that he knew what it felt like, he wasn't too keen on using it or whips again.
He couldn't move. He couldn't make a sound. The pain was so terrible! He had never felt anything like it before! How often did he receive a beating? Hardly ever. Yet, looking over at the Dragon Booster, Moordryd began to realize just how much Artha put up with. How much he dealt with, trying to be a hero. So much pain, yet he never gave up.
His energy was draining rapidly; his armor starting to phase in and out of existence. Decepshun changing between her forms.
Beside him, Artha was in much the same shape, being drained yet again. Blood pounded in his ears as he tried to fight back against the energy drain, trying to summon a mag-burst, but all that did was feed his enemy that much more energy. "Beau..." His dragon's screams tore at his heart as his armor fizzled away, leaving him just Artha Penn, dragon racer. He couldn't even hold onto the saddle, and he knew Moordryd was in much the same way.
Everything was starting to go black. So much was lost. Sounds began to soften and fade. There was a flash of golden and purple light, and Artha slumped against his dragon's saddle, the world darkening around him until there was nothing left.
"Artha... Artha...! Wake up!"
Blue eyes opened slowly to the sound of Lance Penn being his annoyingly chipper morning self. "Ugh, Lance, go away. I'm trying to sleep," Artha muttered, turning his head.
"You've done enough sleeping!" Lance argued. "You've been out for a week!"
Artha's eyes shot open at that. "What?"
"I'm gonna go tell the others that you're finally awake!" The ten-year-old quickly got up and ran out the door.
The older Penn frowned and looked around the room. It'd been a while since he'd been here in a hospital room, not since when he first started as the Dragon Booster and got his butt kicked for being cocky. At first, he wondered why he was there, but memories soon began to surface of the losing battle with Armeggaddon, yet he couldn't remember how they escaped. Just a burst of light.
"So, you're awake, Stable Brat."
He looked over in surprise to see Moordryd standing in the doorway. "Oh... hey." He shifted a bit, trying to sit up, only to wince and clutch his side.
"You're still banged up, Penn. Don't be a fool and rehurt yourself now. We have a race coming up."
"Huh? Oh, no, the races!"
"Relax. They postponed the season until we are both able to compete in light of recent events. There's an investigation going on as to why the top two point-holders were... attacked. I don't know who it was that came to our rescue, but we barely made it out of there. I woke up yesterday." He shook his head. "Of course, I'm not as banged up as you are."
"Well, you did throw me into several buildings and then blasted me down a pipe into the Wastelands," he snarked.
"There's that, yes. From what I hear, you're going to make a full recovery. I just wanted... to see it for myself." He shook his head. "My family debt is repaid. I owe you nothing more, Dragon Booster."
"Ah... yes... That."
"Oh, I already know what would happen if this got out about us. We'd get thrown out of the Academy races. Dragon City security would be after me and the Down City crews would be after you from now on." He shook his head. "So this will be our little secret. You, me, and your crew, as I guess they saved us. I saw them briefly a few times while I drifted in and out of consciousness."
"Huh... I'll make sure they tell no one."
"Our cover story, by the way, is that we were training together and were attacked by rogue dragons."
"Ah. Okay, then." He groaned a bit. "How's Decepshun?"
"Recovering, like your own." Moordryd looked over the younger teen. "You know I'm not going to take it easy on you now that I know, right? If anything, I'm going to be tougher."
"I wouldn't want it any other way."
"I'm still ahead of you in points, after all."
"Oh, just barely." Artha cracked a smile.
"Hmph. See ya, Stable Brat." The white-haired teen turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
The black-haired teen snorted, watching him go, and settled back. He was already itching to get back in the saddle, to see how Beau was doing after being drained so badly twice in one day. He wanted to get back to racing and crime-fighting – the two things he was actually good at.
"Your brother was right, then. You're awake at last." Connor Penn walked into the room, a broad smile running across his face. He stopped beside his eldest son's bed and put a hand on his shoulder.
Artha looked up at him. "Hey, Dad. Guess I was out for a while?"
"Drained of energy, broken ribs, and punctured lung. We barely got you here in time." He frowned, stroking his beard. "Maybe you are too young to be the Dragon Booster..."
"No. I'm old enough, and Beau chose me for a reason. I'm young enough to be among the street crew racers and not be suspected for who I am, and I can find out things I otherwise couldn't if I was older. This injury? Let's just say it's not likely to happen again. The Shadow Booster and I... reached an understanding of sorts." At least, he hoped they had. Moordryd really was more powerful, but only because his teacher had rushed him into power instead of explaining things properly. Because of that, Moordryd was using moves that he didn't know the consequences of, such as the mag-rip.
Connor frowned. "What's to stop Moordryd from telling the truth about you?"
"The same thing that's keeping me from telling about him. We both want to get into the Academy, and if we're revealed, we'd get pulled. Neither of us want that, so we're going to keep our mouths shut, and... and I want you to, as well."
Connor stared at his son in shock. He had waited to say anything about the Shadow Booster until his son awoke and he could ask him what had happened. "Artha, he tried to kill you!"
"He didn't know what the mag-rip really was. He was going to kill me, yes, but he ended up saving my life instead. He said it himself, and his actions speak it – he's no killer. Accidents happen, but he never purposely killed anyone, Dad," he muttered. "And Beau would have chosen him." He recounted that day so long ago where he as the Dragon Booster had challenged Moordryd to see if he could ride Beau, and to his surprise, Beau had accepted him.
"Hm. Maybe he is more like his mother than I previously thought."
"Yeah... he wanted me to tell you that the Paynn family debt is repaid, too."
"Debt?" The older man looked perplexed. "I don't know of any debt."
"He said it was because you tried to help save his Mom."
"Oh... Zulay... I understand that now. I just wish I had been able to save her... or at least your mother, but when I reached her, it was already too late." Connor looked out the window, remembering the crash like it was yesterday. "There's nothing I regret more."
"Yeah... I guess he only just remembered it or something. Who knows. All I know is that he saved me."
"Stewardd confirmed that much," the father responded. "He sent out a signal to us about where you were. We barely got to you in time. Either of you... Drakkus appeared, too, and helped us fight against Armeggaddon. As it were, we almost didn't win. He backed off instead of finishing us off. I don't know why, but I fear he knows your identity as well."
"Probably, given that our armor faded away as he used that mag-rip on us. Moordryd betrayed him. That's why he was attacked. We're both in trouble when that guy comes back, which is why we agreed to fight over getting into the Academy to get the training we need fairly." He smirked a bit. "He's not all that bad, actually, when given the chance."
"He saved you, Artha, going beyond what he had to... So, no, he's not all bad. But what does it mean?"
"Hope, Dad. It means hope. Perhaps the winds might finally be bringing change."
Beau, in his red-and-blue state, rested in his stall, bored and worried. It had been a week since he had seen Artha, and though the other humans reassured him that Artha was alive and well, he was still worried about him.
He had been locked in his stall ever since he woke due to him going berserk in trying to find Artha. Never in his life had he spent so much time apart from the human, never seeing him, and it was driving him insane.
He missed the days of innocence and playtime. He wished he didn't have to battle or be a hero sometimes, but knew it was his duty and he could not back down from that. Not now, not ever. He had somehow always known that Artha was going to be his Dragon Booster, ever since they were little. The black-and-blue haired boy had always had a heart of gold and a power within him. It was probably why the duo had bonded so well as youths.
Those years when Artha barely spoke to him, pushed him away, had nearly broken Beau's heart as he watched him grow without a mother. In that aspect, they were the same – Fira had been riding on Beau's mother when the accident happened, and they had both lost their lives. Yet, Artha stayed away from him out of fear of what a dragon-human accident could do. Beau didn't blame him too much, but he was still hurt at being shunned by his best friend, though he saw him every day.
As the years went on, Artha began to return to him, but never once got on the back of a dragon again until that fateful day when Beau was ready to choose a rider at last. Sure, he had had fun rejecting all those other riders, and it pleased him to see Artha laughing at it. He had fully intended to let Artha get on his back, but then... he had noticed Lance holding candy and couldn't resist. He hadn't meant to humiliate the boy.
That night, though... hearing their cries for help as they were trapped in that burning building, Beau had felt something in him shift. He was no longer a weak young dragon, and he wasn't about to let that gear stop him from saving his humans. He broke free, magged away those that had caused all this, and went running to find Artha.
He was more than pleased when he found the teen, though he was suffering from smoke inhalation and slight burns from the fire, and crouched down to allow Artha on his back with no games this time. For one, it was the fastest way out of there if the teen was on him, and for another, he had missed him.
That moment, everything had changed. A burning golden energy filled him, merging his and Artha's very souls together, strengthening the bond that was already there between them. He had found his Dragon Booster, and now that he had, he wasn't about to lose him again.
Yet, here he was, separated and locked away, absolutely hating every second of it. At least it was only because Artha was recovering in a hospital and not because Beau had been changed by black draconium again. That had not been fun – he had almost killed him because of Word Paynn, and for that, he would never forgive the man.
Now they had a new enemy, one Beau wished had not come back – Armeggaddon. He would have to be more careful with Artha from now on, and he couldn't do that from within this stall!
Getting to his feet, he let out a furious roar at being caged up and began stalking towards the door, peering out the opening for a moment, before getting on his hind legs and pushing on the door, trying to get it open.
To his surprise, the door opened, and he immediately charged out, briefly getting a glance at a figure with blue and black hair. It wasn't until he was at the entrance to the stables that the red and blue dragon skidded to a stop and looked back with confusion. Artha?
Standing unsteadily beside his father, brother, Kitt, and Parm, Artha held his side as he looked at his dragon. "Did you really have to keep him locked up, Dad? He sounded pretty mad."
"He kept trying to get out and find you, and I don't think the hospital would have been pleased with a twenty-ton dragon rampaging through the hallways, son," Connor laughed.
"He was that worried about me?"
"And then some," Kitt mused.
"Here he comes!" Lance dove behind Parm as Beau charged over, stopping in front of the group and roaring ferociously, letting out his anger at being locked up.
Artha snorted and laughed, holding his side tighter as it jarred his still-healing ribs. "Are you done having your tantrum?"
Beau finally stopped roaring at the others, all of whom looked petrified, and instead looked at Artha, head tilted slightly. His eyes ran over him, taking in every detail. He was still holding his side, so he was still hurt, so instead of giving him a smack over the head, he instead licked him happily.
"Agh! Dragon drool!" Artha complained, but didn't wipe it away as he hugged his large head, grinning. "It's good to see you, too, boy. How's your leg?"
Beau pulled away and looked down at his scarred leg, but stood on it firmly. He grunted and looked back at Artha before gently pressing against his side.
The teen hissed a bit, but remained upright. "I'll be fine soon enough. Hopefully in time for the next race. Gotta beat Moordryd." He winked at him and grinned.
The dragon grinned as well and nodded. Yes. They would definitely get back into the race and battle, and this time, they would win. For now, though, he would settle. Artha was home, safe and sound as promised, and they had made a new ally, possibly, in the Shadow Booster. The winds had definitely brought change with them.
"Come on. How about we go on a run?"
"Artha, that's not a good idea," Connor argued.
"You'll make your injury worse!" Parm complained.
"Ah, we'll be fine. We're just gonna walk around the track!" Artha grinned.
Beau snorted and magged his rider onto his saddle-less back, and eagerly trotted off, making sure he tripped the others so they couldn't follow right away. Once they were a bit further away, he ran a little until they were far enough away, and stopped, turning his head to look at Artha.
"Yeah, I know. Ah, this feels so good. You get to stretch out, and I don't have to go lay in my room just yet." Artha leaned against him happily, feeling his lungs fill with air and his powerful heart beat strong beneath him. "I hope Dragon City Security's been able to keep on top of any incidents since I've been, uh, out." He shrugged, closing his eyes.
Beau snorted again as he walked along the track, taking his time.
"Taking a break's nice, but I want to get back to protecting people." He sighed. "But I'm afraid, too. That guy's gonna be back. We barely made it out of there... and it was thanks to Moordryd." He frowned, remembering the last few times Moordryd had saved him. "We might have a rivalry, but... he's not really all that bad. Wow, did that just come out of my mouth?"
Beau chuckled and grinned playfully.
"And you would have chosen him as a Booster, too. Guess you knew all along what he was going to be, huh?"
"And you didn't care to clue me in?"
He snorted and shook his head.
"So not drac, Beau."
The dragon grinned and sped up a bit.
"Oh, you want to run, huh? Think that's such a good idea?"
Beau frowned, looking back at him worriedly.
Artha laughed. "Gotta take it easy. Dad'd be after both of us if I ended up back in the hospital again right after getting out. I can't blame you about wanting to run. How long's it been since I rode you bareback like this? Months? One run shouldn't hurt, right? I wonder how fast we can go?"
Beau grinned and nodded briefly. He knew that Artha was a fast healer at times, what with the golden draconium in his bones. He channeled his own healing abilities into the boy as they began to run, focusing and both releasing the dragon.
Watching from the sidelines, Connor shook his head as the duo sped past the stables going almost two hundred miles per hour. "Figured he wouldn't rest. Never did. Growing up, he'd break an arm and would be back on that dragon in hours."
Lance looked up at his father in amusement. "That's so drac."
"Your brother would give your mother and me so many anxiety attacks."
"Well, we all knew he'd be a great dragon rider," Parm laughed. "And it did make sense that Beau would choose him, given how often they were seen together."
"Every single day until Fira's death." The bald man sighed. "But enough on that. Let's just be happy that they're back together."
"Yeah, and Beau isn't going to snap at us anymore for locking him up," Kitt snickered. "Don't think I ever saw that dragon so angry before."
"Probably not, Kitt. Then again, they've always had a soft spot for each other. Connected so long ago."
"Huh." Kitt watched the sprinting Beau and grinned. "He's not a bad bareback rider, actually. I'm guessing that's how he used to ride?" At Connor's nod, she snorted. "That explains why he was so bad with gear use at first."
Lance blinked. "Artha used to ride bareback? Now I get why he was so good at it when Beau first chose him!"
His father smiled and looked back at the running duo. "This is how Artha always was. It's been a long time since I've seen the pair so carefree." He knew part of that was his fault. Artha barely had time to be a kid, and had sacrificed so many things in order to be the Dragon Booster, race, and take care of Lance. To see them both so happy brought joy to his heart.
He watched as they finally slowed and came into the stables, laughing and grinning after an extraordinary run. The duo disappeared into Beau's stall, and by the time the others got there, they found Beau curled up protectively around a sleeping Artha.
Yes, the winds of change had indeed brought a new dawn to them all, and while some things would be different, there were some things that would never change, such as the bond between a boy and his dragon.