Pairing: None. Young Hercules
Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?
Teaser: This is Part 8 of Dragons of Despair
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA or
Whoever owns the Rights to Young Hercules. This is just for fun.
"Hurry up, Iolaus!" Jason called as he and Hercules ran ahead. It was late and the three friends were running back to the Academy from Kora's. "We're going to be late! You know what Chiron does if we're late! We'll get in trouble!"
Iolaus hung onto his stomach and doubled over. He gasped for breath and his curly blonde hair fell in his face. "I can't, guys. I ate too much. My stomach is too packed to run."
"Well, you shouldn't have eaten all that food!" Jason laughed. He punched Herc on his shoulder. "Come on. If we hurry we can make it back just in time."
"OK. Bye Iolaus! See you later!" Hercules and Jason took off.
"Hey! Wait for me! It's dark out here!" Iolaus nervously peered about. Normally the dark didn't bother him, but this night seemed different somehow. Fall had just set in and some of the trees were already bare. He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. The air was cool but not that cold. The air hung perfectly still. It reminded him of the calm before a storm. Iolaus stared up into the night sky and only saw blackness. A few stars twinkled.
"Well, while I'm out here might as well work on those lousy constellations. At least then I'll have an excuse for Chiron." Iolaus frowned. He could still hear Jason and Herc laughing as they ran back to the school. Soon they would be curled up in their bunks and he would be left out here by himself. He gazed up at the stars, trying to see bears and people and all the other stuff Chiron said was up there. But Iolaus only saw twinkling stars. "Ah, this is stupid! There's nothing up there!"
Iolaus gasped as one of the brighter stars moved. It zipped up and back across the sky. Then it grew larger until it seemed to hover just above the tree tops. Pink, blue and green lights flashed on it.
Iolaus shrieked and took off for the Academy as quick as he could.
Iolaus ran as quickly as he could. Unfortunately with a packed stomach that was pretty slow. His foot tangled on a root and he fell on his face. Pain exploded in his mouth as he bit his own tongue. Iolaus rolled over onto his back and saw the eerie thing. It seemed to be right above him. The lights flashed faster and spun around it.
"Iolaus!" Hercules called. He and Jason had almost been at the Academy's gate when they had heard their friend scream. It had been the most terrifying sound either had ever heard. They raced back down the dark path. As they rounded a corner, they both skidded to a halt. Bright light glared in their eyes, blinding them. They tried to cover their eyes with their hands.
"What the...?" Jason said in shock. Some kind of large object was descending from the sky. It was HUGE. It was at least as tall as the Academy and narrow enough to fit on the path. It was shaped like a great bell, the bottom wider than the top. Colored lights flashed and circled around the bottom part. "What the heck is that?"
"I...I don't know!" Hercules shook his head, snapping out of his fright. He looked on the path. There was Iolaus! The strange thing was only a few feet away from his friend. Hercules ran over to Iolaus and pulled him to his feet. Jason quickly joined them.
A loud clank echoed through the night air. A door appeared on the thing. It slowly rose upward and they could see red light inside. A figure appeared in the doorway, blocking the light. A metal ramp descended and the strange creature began to emerge.
Hercules, Iolaus and Jason gasped when they saw the strange creature. The colored lights from the odd vehicle gave enough light to see it clearly. The thing stood about nine feet tall. Its slate gray body was bell shaped just like the ship and round like a pillar. It didn't have any legs or feet but its flat bottom oozed down the metal ramp, leaving a wet trail of slime behind it. A single large green eye was at the upper part of its body, although it didn't have a head. Right below the eye was a round mouth filled with sharp teeth. Its entire body just seemed to be one big piece; with the top being slightly more narrow. Six long tentacles waved around it, three on each side of the creature. Its skin glistened in the flashing lights.
"What is that?" Iolaus asked Jason and Hercules in a whisper. He wiped a thin trail of blood off his mouth. His tongue still ached from where he had bit it.
"I don't know!" Hercules admitted. He glanced quickly at Iolaus. "Why should I know?"
"Because Zeus is your father! You're a Demi-God!" Iolaus watched the odd thing as it oozed toward them. He had to crane his neck upward to see it. It was that tall. "Geez, I hope that thing doesn't think we're lunch. Look at the teeth on it."
The creature stopped in front of them. "Bleez. Blooob. Buubb."
"What did it say?" Jason asked as he watched it carefully. Two more of the odd creatures appeared in the doorway and began to ooze down the ramp toward them. "Oh-oh. Here come two more."
"You know, Jason. I think it wants you." Iolaus said as he inched behind Hercules and Jason.
"Why in the world would it want me?" Jason turned to look at Iolaus.
"Because you're the Prince of Corinth! No doubt it wants to talk to an authority figure." Iolaus explained as he shoved Jason forward toward the creature. "You've been trained for this! Now go talk to it!"
"But I don't even know what it said!" Jason protested as he tried to dig his heels into the ground.
The creature waved its tentacles faster as its two companions joined it. One was slightly shorter with light gray skin. The other was closer to ten feet tall with mottled skin. The original creature spoke again. "Bleeze blubbo beezz beeennoo?"
"Umm, Hi. I'm Jason, the Crown Prince of Corinth." Jason said as he extended his hand. The creature did not take it. Jason turned to look at Iolaus. "See? I told you this was stupid! It doesn't even understand me!"
"No, no! You're doing it all wrong." Iolaus said. "You got to talk like it does. See, like this! Beeze beennguu bluurb buunngoo bliieenkk." For good measure, Iolaus let out a loud burp at the end of the sentence.
The creature thrashed the air with its tentacles. Then it gripped Jason around the waist and lifted him up into the air. Its mouth opened, revealing rows of sharp teeth.
"Aaahhhh!" Jason screamed as he saw the mouth open. He was trapped in the creature's strong tentacles. Nor could he use his arms as they were pressed against his sides, trapped under the tentacles. All he could do was wiggle his fingers and kick with his legs. He kicked at the creature's side as hard as he could. A second later he screamed in pain. "That thing is as hard as a rock!"
"Now look what you did, Iolaus! If he gets ate it's your fault!" Hercules rushed forward and tried to pull Jason free of the creature. But it was no use, even with his Godly strength. He watched in horror, helpless, as the creature's mouth opened wider and its tongue protruded.
"Don't eat me! He's an imbecile! He didn't mean whatever he said!" Jason's mind whirled as he tried to think of more to say. There had to be something. "If you're hungry, you can have some of the royal cows! Or dinars! You can go buy your food. Anything!"
The tongue touched Jason on his forehead. It felt wet and hot against his skin.
"Please don't eat my friend!" Iolaus cried as he sunk down to his knees before the creature. He wrapped his arms around its large circular base. It felt like he was hugging a stone pillar on a building. "Whatever I said, I didn't mean it! Really!"
Hercules didn't know what to do. His strength was useless. The thing was like stone. And the other creatures just stood there behind the one that had Jason. He wandered why they didn't try to eat someone, too. If only they could communicate with each other! But how? Sign language? He had to hurry! The thing already tasted Jason to see if he tasted good!
"Hercules." Hercules said as he touched his own chest. Then he pointed at Jason, saying his friend's name. Then he pointed at the ground. "Jason. Ground. Put Jason on the ground."
Hercules prayed to Zeus that the odd creature would understand him.
The creature retracted its tongue back into its mouth and placed Jason on the ground. Jason staggered backward and fell over Iolaus. He collided with Hercules and all three ended up in a heap on the ground. They struggled to untangle themselves so they could escape.
"You will take me to your leader." The creature told them. It stared at them with its single green eye. A tentacle snaked out and gripped Iolaus around his throat. It was just tight enough to hang onto him but not to choke. "We will conquer you Soft-Skins and rule this planet."
"You...you can talk?" Hercules asked as he shoved Jason off himself. The Prince rolled onto his knees and then stood. Hercules got up, too.
Iolaus clawed at the tentacle around his neck. He sighed and gave up. "Ugh. How do I get myself into these problems?"
"We have learned the language from the Soft-Skin. We took it from his puny mind." The creature explained. "You waste most of your brains. It will be easy to keep all of you as slaves."
Jason dusted off his clothes. "You weren't going to eat me?"
The creature rolled its single large eye. "Don't be stupid! We are vegetarians. Eating something like you is disgusting! Now take as to your leader or this one dies."
Iolaus' eyes grew wide. The tentacle around his throat tightened. "Umm, guys! You better listen to it before it chokes me!"
"OK! OK!" Hercules said quickly. "Just calm down! We'll take you to our leader. Just follow us." Hercules turned around and began to walk back toward the Academy. He glanced behind him and saw the three creatures were following them.
Jason wiped at his forehead frantically. "Ugh! That was the most disgusting thing that ever happened to me! I'd rather do Chiron's fire baton practice than have that happen!"
So," Iolaus said to the creature that had him in its grasp. "Where you guys from? Do you have girls there? Or are you girls? No offense, but I have no idea what you are!"
"Silence!" the creature hissed as it oozed along the trail. Soon they reached the Academy gates and passed through. It studied the Academy with its one huge eye. "I see you Soft-Shells live above ground in false caves. That will change. In the future, all will live underground in caves."
The other two creatures looked about in amazement, their single eyes wide open. They gibbered at each other in their own language and pointed at things with their tentacles. One poked at the wooden door and made a wheezing sound. Then a ton of words poured out of its mouth to its companion.
"You know, these things can't be too smart if they still live in caves." Jason told Hercules as he pushed the creature out of the way. Then he opened the door and led the way inside the Academy. "I'll keep them busy while you go get Chiron."
"OK." Hercules ran off down the hall to go find their teacher.
"Hercules went to go get our leader. Would you like some refreshments while you wait? I got the perfect thing!" Jason found a big pot of cooked oats. He stared at the stuff in disgust. He hoped the things ate it all so Chiron couldn't force him to eat it in the morning! Talk about nasty stuff. Just because centaurs liked the stuff didn't mean humans did. Of course, Chiron thought oats were good for everyone! "Here, why don't you try some of this? It's our leader's favorite food! Yummy!"
The creature holding onto Iolaus stuck a tentacle into the pot of oats. It pulled out a big wad and stuck it into its mouth. It hummed while it ate the oats. Jason hoped that meant it liked them. Sure enough, the thing soon reached for more oats. A few moments later, the pot was empty.
"More! Give me more!" the creature said as it threw the empty oat pot at Jason.
"Well, I got to cook more." Jason explained and hoped it knew what cooking was. He peered around the room. Where had the other two creatures gone? He moaned when he saw one was climbing on the balance equipment. It had heaved its big body onto it and was now leaving a wet trail of slime. In fact, the entire floor of the room was covered with the sickening yellow-green-white slime. Chiron was going to kill them! His eyes frantically searched the room for the third creature but it was no one to be seen. Then he spotted a trail going down the hallway to the classrooms, toward Feducious' room. Oh no!
"I demand more of the food! NOW!" the creature ordered as it slapped Jason on the chest with a tentacle.
A crash echoed through the room and the floor shook. The mottled creature had broke Chiron's balance equipment! It had been too heavy. It wiggled among the shattered pieces and flung them off itself. Then it heaved itself out of the wreckage. Once free, it oozed over to study the practice dummy.
Oh, I am so dead." Jason moaned as he hurried over to the mess on the floor. He picked up a broken piece and quickly threw it down. The awful slime now coated his hand. It was enough to make him sick.
"Jason! What's going on here?" Chiron called angrily from the doorway. Hercules stood next to him.
"Well, these creatures took us prisoner." Jason explained. He automatically knew it was the wrong thing to say, because he and Hercules were not prisoners. "That is, they have Iolaus captured. See? That dark gray one has its tentacle wrapped around his throat. He forced us to bring them here by you." Jason pointed to the leader of the creatures.
The creature oozed over to Chiron and stared at him, its green eye wide open in shock. It reached out a tentacle and touched one of Chiron's legs. It quickly snatched its tentacle back and hopped backward. Iolaus was dragged along. It bleebed to itself in its own language as it backed away from the centaur.
"Well, what do you want?" Chiron asked the creature that towered above him. "Why are you holding one of my students prisoner? And why are you destroying my Academy?"
"Yeah," said Jason. "And ask it what the heck it is."
The mottled creature had oozed over to the practice dummy. It bent its big body down to peer more closely at the object. It gave the dummy a poke. The dummy swung around and hit the creature on one of its tentacles. It screeched and took off wildly down a hallway, its six tentacles waving in the air. Jason had never imagined a creature without legs or feet could move so quickly! A few moments later it raced back through the room, a pack of cadets hot on its slime trail. The cadets, though, didn't get very far. They slipped and slid on the slimy ick in its wake, falling to the floor in tangled groups of arms and legs.
Chiron raised an eyebrow and he frowned at Jason, Hercules and Iolaus. "How is it that a creature frightened of a practice dummy took you three prisoner? You have explaining to do!"
Chiron was interrupted when the oats pot hit him on the head. The dark gray creature had thrown it at him. "Creature with four legs go get me more food! NOW! Me hungry!"
Feducious ran into the room screaming. His feet slipped out from under him and he slid on his backside until he plowed into the mass of cadets. The light gray creature hurried into the room hot on Feducious' heels. It had one of his robes over the top part of its body and had scrolls in each tentacle. It waved the scrolls around wildly and then tossed them up in the air. As the scrolls fell, it batted at them and they flew back up in the air again. The creature bleebed happily to itself as it continued to toss and bat the scrolls.
The cadets tried to climb to their feet but kept falling down again on the slick slime. A few decided to crawl, but they were all crawling in different directions. Everywhere they looked there was the horrible slime! No one knew what to do, where to go or what the strange creatures were!
"Hercules! What are those things?" Lilith asked from a spot on the floor.
"I don't know." Hercules shook his head and frowned. "I don't know what they are and I hope they leave soon. I don't want to know what they are, either."
Chiron tore his eyes off his cadets once he was satisfied they were safe. He had to talk to the leader of these creatures. It was very rude of it to have thrown the oats pot at his head. But he had a suspicion about them. He had to discover if it were true.
But the creature....and Iolaus, were gone.
"Hercules." Chiron said. "Did you see where that creature and Iolaus went?"
"Huh? Are they gone?" Hercules asked. He searched the messy slime-filled room and didn't see them anywhere. His heart began to pound fast in his chest. What had the awful thing done with Iolaus? "I got to find them!" Hercules started to run but his boots slid on the thick layer of slime that coated the floor.
"Hercules! Be careful!" Chiron yelled.
"Whoa!" Hercules pinwheeled his arms as he slid across the floor. So far he had managed to keep on his feet. He relaxed a bit as he slid toward one of the doorways and zipped through it. He smiled a bit. This was lots of fun! He gripped a passing doorway and spun around the turn.
What was that sound?
Hercules listened more carefully. Yes, there it was again. The clanking of metal!
He followed the sound all the way to the kitchen. Hercules laughed as he slid into the kitchen on a trail of slime. There was Iolaus slaving away by a hot stove cooking oats for the slimy beast! His friend still had the tentacle around his neck and for some odd reason he was covered in flour. In fact, the entire kitchen was coated white. The creature was busy shoveling tentacles of cooked oats into its gaping mouth from a huge pot. It was using four of its tentacles to feed itself! The last tentacle gripped a large pitcher of water.
"It's about time you got here! I'm almost out of oats!" Iolaus complained. "This thing is a bottomless pit! You won't believe how many oats it already ate! This is the last bunch I could find. Hey! Watch out!"
Hercules realized he was still sliding forward...fast. In fact, he didn't know how to stop! Iolaus moved out of the way and Hercules slid right past him. There was a window right in front of him now. Hercules collided with the open window and tumbled outside head first. He landed in some bushes upside-down.
Iolaus stuck his head out the window. "Are you OK, Herc? You really should watch out for that slime."
"Yeah, I'll live." Hercules crawled out of the bushes and examined himself. Except for a few minor scratches and some leaves jammed down the front of his tunic, he was OK. "I gotta remember that. Sliding on slime is OK only if you know how to stop."
Herc jumped back in through the kitchen window. "Come on, you." Hercules swipped the big pot of oats on the creature. He held it out as he very carefully walked backward out of the kitchen. "Chiron wants to see you."
"Those are MINE!" the creature bellowed as it tried to snatch the pot back from Hercules. It started he move faster, pulling Iolaus along. Iolaus just hung onto the tentacle, kept his feet together and leaned back a bit. The creature just pulled him along.
Hercules soon realized it was not a good idea to have a very heavy, nine foot tall creature chasing you on a slimed floor! For one, he would not want to be crushed between it and something like a wall. And what if the creature couldn't stop, either? Not a good thought. He somehow managed to make it around the appropriate corners and slid full speed into the big room. The creature was hot on his tail.
"Aaahhh!" Hercules cried. He had steered his path back to Chiron too perfectly. Now he was on a collision course with the centaur. And he didn't have any way to stop! Chiron was struggling to stay upright the way it was. Boots on slime was bad, but hooves on slime was worst! A lot worst! If Chiron fell and broke a leg... It was almost impossible to heal a broken horse leg. Horses that broke their leg had to be put down.
Hercules slid closer and closer. Now there was just a few feet between them.
"Hercules! Watch out!" Chiron called loudly.
"Jason! Catch!" Hercules tossed the pot of oats to the Prince, who was still standing next to Chiron. Then Herc jumped into the air and managed to grab one of the ropes hanging from the ceiling. He swung up and back wildly before coming to a stop. "Boy. I'm glad none of that slime is on my hands!"
"Got it!" Jason caught the pot as it flew at him. Some of the oats sloshed out and splattered on his vest. He could feel the hot food dripping down his chest. He was very glad it wasn't hot enough to burn. "Man. And I just had this vest cleaned, too. Oh-oh!" The large slate gray creature was heading right for him!
Chiron snatched the pot of oats from Jason and held it against his chest. He gazed calmly at the large creature as it stopped in front of him. "No oats until you answer my questions! Why did you come here? Why are you holding one of my cadets prisoner?"
The creature reached for the oats with two tentacles.
"Answer the questions first." Chiron slapped the tentacles away.
"But we forgot to bring food and I'm still hungry!" the creature whined loudly. Its entire body quivered.
Hercules climbed down from the rope and carefully walked over to Jason, Chiron, Iolaus and the creature. "How can you go on a trip and forget the food?"
"The ship was just sitting there and Dad had left the power on. We wanted to go see the pretty blue-and-white ball up close. So we came here. Then when we saw you, we decided to play with you."
"So you're not really here to conquer us?" Iolaus asked as he let go of the tentacle. It had been fun being pulled behind the creature. He glanced down at his pants and grimaced. The icky slime had splattered all the way up to his knees. Uggh!
"No. I got that idea from a holo-vid. It's like a story that you watch and actors play the characters." the creature explained.
"Like a play?" Iolaus asked.
The creature nodded its head and stared down at the floor. "My friends didn't mean to break your false cave. They were just very excited. We never saw anything like this before."
"You know," Jason said to Hercules. "I think these are kids that stole their Dad's chariot. They're just very BIG kids!"
"What is it like where you live?" Iolaus asked as the tentacle released him. He rubbed his neck. It was itchy.
"There's lots of blowing sand. We live underground in caves." the creature told them. "Our Dad makes us go to school. But going on an adventure is more fun so we came here."
Chiron gave the creature the pot of oats. His suspicion had been correct. "Remember, one gets in trouble for borrowing the chariot without asking."
Brilliant white light glared in through the Academy's windows. It was night still and this light seemed ten times brighter than sunlight on a hot summer day. A loud thrumming filled the air and vibrated the floor beneath them.
Oh-oh. It's Dad in the big chariot." The creature slowly oozed toward the door. The other two followed it.
Outside a huge thing hung in the air. Hercules gasped in amazement. He had thought the other "chariot" had been big! But it was like comparing a rowboat to a ship with three masts! He couldn't tell if it was the same shape as the other because he could only see the bottom on this one. The bottom was round. A white stream of light came out and touched the three creatures. They were sucked up inside and the light disappeared. Then the thing was just gone. One moment it was hanging there in the air, the next he just saw the night sky.
"Whoa! That chariot was fast!" Iolaus whistled as he shook his head.
"Yeah," agreed Jason. "But if those were kids, I wonder how big the adults are."
"Hercules! iolaus! Jason!" Chiron called angrily. "You have an awfully lot of cleaning to do! I suggest you get started. Then after all that dreaded slime is gone, you and the rest of the cadets can begin rebuilding the broken equipment. You may start by cleaning me a path to the kitchen so I can cook some oats for all us."
"Umm...Chiron?" Iolaus stared at the floor before glancing up at his centaur teacher. "I think we're going to eat something else. All the oats are gone."
"What? How can all the oats be gone? There was enough to last all winter!" Chiron told Iolaus.
"Yeah, and that thing was a bottomless pit!" Iolaus cried as he dusted flour off himself. "It ate all the oats! Then when I was cooking the last batch it threw a bag of flour at me! I think it thought it was more oats! So, I guess we all just have to eat at Kora's. Besides, that thing took your oats pot."