Twisted Shadows

A/N: Trying to go for a more serious style now. And yes, I'm making Artha more responsible now. If you have a problem with it, then I can't blame you, he may seem quite OOC throughout the series. Please read and review; I'd like some feedback on this…unless, of course, it's a pointless flame with no good reason of being posted.

Disclaimer: I said it before and I'll say it again. I don't own Dragon Booster, and this makes no profits.

Sounds. There were many sounds in Dragon City. The sound of traffic, horns blaring out and echoingthroughout the crowded Dragways. The sound of the humans talking, arguing about who had the better dragon or who had the better gear. The sound of the dragons, who grunted and groaned. The sound of a dragon's feet struggling to stay on his feet. The sound of that dragon hitting the ground. The sound, an unpleasant moan, escaping the dragon's lips.

The sound of a human crying out.

"Artha! Artha, Parm, something's wrong with Fracshun! Hurry, hurry!"

- - -

"I don't like emergency rooms," Kitt Wonn announced irritably. Her green eyes flickered angrily. "I hate them. People should know what an emergency really is instead of crowding in here thinking that their itsy bitsy booboo needs special caring!"

The nurse who was at the main desk frowned down at the teenage girl. "Miss Wonn, if you don't like our service, I suggest that you leave," the nurse told her. "Dragon City Medical is doing its best to help its patients, and if you don't like it, fine. It's your opinion."

"It's your opinion," Kitt mimicked in a squeaky voice. "Uh, if you haven't noticed already, we had a very sick dragon, and it was only a child!"

"We've had many child dragons in here these past few days," the nurse said firmly. "That dragon you brought in wasn't the only young dragon here today! I understand how upset you are, Miss Wonn, but please, quit complaining like a spoiled little girl. It isn't even your dragon."

The bipedal Magma-class dragon next to the seat Kitt sat in grunted. Wyldfyr lifted her head up as two white doors slid apart, and a four-legged dragon with gold eyes walked out, followed by a teenage boy wearing a white racing jacket. The side of the jacket had been charred, and on the back of the jacket was the name "Artha".

Kitt bolted upwards. "Well?" she asked, a bit impatiently. "What happened?"

Artha Penn groaned. "Not much," he said. "The doctors aren't sure what's wrong with him. And the thing is that Fracshun wasn't the only dragon that has the same problem! A lot of other dragons are coming down with his case too!"

"I think I noticed that when we waiting in the emergency room," Kitt replied dryly, ignoring the glance from the nurse.

"Kitt, you can't blame Dragon City Medical on what's happening!" Artha said. "Didn't you see how sick those dragons were?"

The blue-haired girl nodded grimly. "Still, Fracshun was younger than most of them," Kitt pointed out. "Couldn't they have taken care of him first?"

The gold-eyed dragon with a red and blue design grunted in approval and nodded his head. "We all wanted Fracshun to have been checked up as quickly, but things happen, Kitt," Artha tried explaining. "It's like what Mortis said, things in life aren't always fair."

Kitt opened her mouth, but she decided that it was pointless to argue. "Well, is he okay?" she asked.

"Kitt, I told you – " Artha started.

"I meant Lance," Kitt said.

They both looked up as the doors slid open again, and two boys, one a young man, still in his teenage years, and the other a child with red hair, stepped out, followed by a green Bull-class dragon with green eyes. The child's eyes were swollen and red, as though he'd been crying minutes ago. "It's okay, Lance," the teenager wearing blue next to him said, a gloved hand on the boy's shoulder. "Fracshun is going to be okay."

"How do you know?" Lance responded sadly, grasping his friend's hand tightly. "This has never happened before!"

"Well, I am the Professor," the boy's friend, Parmon Sean, murmured, and gave a weak chuckle, trying to lighten the mood. The large, green dragon standing next to the two boys gave a grunt and shook his head. Parm sighed and walked up to Artha and Kitt. "They said that Fracshun will have to stay here until they can take care of the situation."

Artha walked up to his little brother and embraced him. "Lance, c'mon, I'll buy you some Draconee-Yum bars and then we can play some VIDDGames later on," he said, giving a smile. "How does that sound?"

Lance sniffed. "I just want to go home," he said, burying his head into Artha's shoulder. Kitt and Parm exchanged worried glances. Artha turned towards them with a nod of his head.

"Then let's go home, Lance," he said as the red and blue dragon walked over to him. "Beau?"

The dragon nodded, and pulsed with gold mag-energy as he magged the two brothers on.

- - -

Dragon Eyes were not known to be caring people. In fact, they were the Down City crew most known for their dangerous and deceptive ways. They kidnapped people. They stole objects of great worth. They even stole dragons. And every time Dragon City Security was informed about this, they would arrive at the scene of the crime only to find the scene empty of crimes. The deed was done, and Dragon City Security had a few questionable policies, such as how they left these crimes alone, unless it was "urgent" to the city, such as the mysterious case of sick dragons.

Even the Dragon Eyes knew about these cases. The fact that three of their dragons, crew dragons, each collapsed without warning that night. A man with a Dragon Eye tattoo on his head turned towards the young leader of the Dragon Eyes. "Moordryd, what's happening?" the man cried.

"How should I know, Cain?" the white-haired leader, Moordryd Paynn, responded. He turned towards Swayy, one of his crewmembers. "What's going on?"

"I dunno!" the green-haired woman replied shakily. "Rancydd and Malyss' dragons just collapsed as well! They're making these weird moaning sounds!"

"I can see that!" Moordryd said, and looked down at the Psi-class dragon that was moaning pitifully on the ground. The dragon had magenta and green patterns, and Moordryd suddenly noticed how the color was fading, what usually happened when a dragon's energy was being drained. He also took attention to the broken green ramming gear that Swayy's dragon had magged at a lamp post.

Cain bent down next to Swayy, who was at the side of her dragon as well, and looked up desperately at Moordryd. "Well, are we just gonna stay here and watch this little horror movie we're getting?" Cain yelled.

Moordryd looked down at the poor dragon, and exchanged a glance with his own Psi-class black draconium dragon, Decepshun. The black and purple colored dragon gave a whine and hereyes showed concern and worry. Moordryd turned back towards Swayy's dragon. He heard the rumors; a dragon from the Inner Order crew had collapsed, and Khatah's crew couldn't do anything about it. "We need Dragon City Medical over here as quick as possible," Moordryd said, pressing a button on his wrist-comm. "Now!"

- - -

Artha had let Lance get some rest when they had gotten back to Penn Stables. He was about to leave when Lance whined. "Lance?" Artha said, turning his head towards his little brother.

Lance blinked. "I can't sleep," he whispered. "Fracshun was always with me."

Beau grunted and walked over to where Lance lay down, then placed himself next to the boy and nuzzled Lance's head. "There, Beau will stay with you," Artha said. He gave a smile. "Now get some sleep, Lance."

Lance nodded slowly and closed his eyes. Artha mouthed a quick "thank you" to his dragon before heading outside. Kitt was brushing Wyldfyr. She was still upset about the situation their team was stuck in.

"Hey, Kitt?" Artha asked, approaching her. "You okay?"

"Yes, I'm okay," Kitt said, a bit coldly. Artha flinched. "Will you stop looking at me like that, stable boy? I'm fine."

"When you say 'okay' and 'fine' in that kind of tone, that probably means that you're definitely not okay," Artha replied, giving a sheepish grin. Kitt groaned and continued brushing Wyldfyr. "Kitt, ever since this afternoon I haven't seen you smile."

"Well, here's one just for you," Kitt said, curving her lips for a few seconds before turning back towards her dragon.

Artha sighed. "Kitt…" the blue-eyed man said, and placed a hand on her shoulder. "C'mon."

Kitt looked at Artha, and her scowl softened. "Stable boy…" she mumbled, tossing the brush into a bucket. "Fine, I'll try calming down. Where's Parm?"

"Well, since the doctors can't come up with a cure for Fracshun, he decided to find out what might be wrong with him," Artha explained. He walked over to the stall where Parm was, sitting at a desk and looking through medical VIDDZines and many books, calculating all this onto his VIDDComp, which he had borrowed from his mother.

"So?" Kitt said.

"Don't distract me, don't distract me," Parm said, lifting up a hand as his finger skimmed through one of the books. He groaned and banged his head down on his desk. "It's no use! I can't find any legitimate reason for the occurring of this odd sickness!

"C'mon, Parm, you're the brains of this group!" Artha said. "You gotta help us."

"I am helping!" Parm suddenly screamed, standing up and balling his fists. "I am always the one helping this group, and do I get any recognition for helping this group? No, I don't! Do you realize how difficult this is, even for me!"

He glared at a surprised Artha and Kitt, then groaned and sat down and placed his head in his hands. "Oh, forget it," he said. "I'm sorry, you guys."

"Hey, we understand, Professor," Kitt said, walking up to Parm.

"And we're sorry too," Artha said, placing a hand on his best friend's shoulder. "Even if we can't understand a word you say, we appreciate all the stuff you do for us. Now, maybe we can help you out. What have you got for us?"

"Well," Parm said, looking at his VIDDComp. "I've researched all the sicknesses for dragons, and using what the doctors at the Dragon City Medical Center told me, applied the information to the researched data, then used manipulative methods to match up the possible diseases and viruses that match the data, but after comparing and contrasting each one with my information, I didn't find any matches."

Instead of rolling eyes at each other as they usually did, Artha and Kitt looked at the information on Parm's VIDDComp. "Well, this looks a bit easy to understand," Kitt murmured. "You're right, Parm, nothing seems to match any cases of what happened to Fracshun."

"Scales, this is complicated," Artha said. "Hey, have you found out how Fracshun just collapsed without warning?"

"Well, no," Parm said. "I don't think it was food poisoning, since all Fracshun ate today was a few Draconee-Yum bars and some dragon feed that the other dragons ate. And I don't think the case is contagious. Having faints and experiencing severe pain is not contagious for this matter."

"You have a point there," Kitt said. "You know who we need right now?"

"Mortis," the trio said in unison. If Parm was unfamiliar with anything at all, Mortis usually knew about that unfamiliar thing. The mysterious Dragon Priest had been helping them out ever since Artha became the Dragon Booster, a hero destined to save the world from chaos and destruction. He seemed familiar, but Artha just couldn't figure out why Mortis seemed that way…

His thoughts were interrupted by a yawn from Parm as he stretched out. "Well, maybe tomorrow," the brainy teenager mumbled, his eyelids drooping. "We should get some sleep."

Kitt looked up at the current moon in view, Drakkus. "Yeah, it is pretty late," she agreed. She hopped onto Wyldfyr.

"Wait!" Artha said. "You know, you can stay here for the night. Down City is a pretty long way, considering how late it is, as you said."

Kitt shrugged. "Nothing's gonna happen, Artha," she said. "I'll be at the racing track tomorrow morning, ready to compete in our next race." She smirked at the dark-haired leader of Penn Racing. "See you around, stable boy!"

Wyldfyr sprinted off into the darkness. Artha continued to stare off until he heard a loud snore. He turned to see Parm, his head resting on his desk. "Oh, Parm," Artha said, shaking his head with a smile. "I guess I should get some sleep too."

He was about to walk off when he heard beeping from Parm's wrist-comm. Artha pressed a button and found himself listening to the Dragon City news. "Reports claim that about forty-seven dragons these past few days have met this mysterious case," a lady reporter's voice announced. "These dragons, ranging from young to old, have been experiencing weakening and severe pain."

Tell us something we don't know, the stable boy thought, rolling his eyes.

"Our recent cases this evening were two taxi dragons, a forty-year-old Sky-class dragon from Work Town, and three Psi-class dragons from the Down City Dragon Eyes crew, known for their dragon thefts," the reporter continued. At the last part Artha came to attention. The Dragon Eyes weren't known to have any medical problems.

Drac, this is really serious, Artha thought. Maybe I should see Mortis right now…

Before he could do anything else, the reported finished off her report. "Dragon City Security is charging the Dragon Eyes for these thefts and other deeds, and speaking of thefts, there seems to be a bank heist happening at the Dragon City Bank right now," she said. "We are uncertain if the thief is a Dragon Eye or not."

Artha shut off Parm's wrist-comm and set it next to his friend. Mortis can wait, and so can sleep, Artha said to himself as he walked into the room where Lance slept. Beau looked up with a grunt. "We got to get busy, Beau!" Artha whispered. "C'mon, but be careful not to disturb Lance."

Beau nodded and stood up, walking quietly towards Artha. Artha jumped onto Beau's saddle as the dragon took off. There was a five-pointed star amulet hanging from Artha's neck, an amulet made of gold draconium. Artha removed the gold star off the amulet and looked down at another item of gold draconium, an armband with a small slot for the star.

Artha cried out, "Release the dragon!" and placed the star in the armband's slot.

To Be Continued…

A/N: Yes, I know, it was dull and the characters mayb be OOC. Hopefully things will liven up a bit in the next parts.