It was a dark night. Overcast, the clouds hung like demons over the sky. A storm brewed in the stillness. It wasn't a good night to be out flying but the Nightmaren knew they had to defend their lairs whatever the weather. Trespassers, burglars and vandals or random lucid dreamers could ruin things at any moment. Midnight Levelwalker still didn't have a lair of her own as she was a new Nightmaren. She wanted a lair that looked like a 24 hour shop but evil with shelves that fell on people, cash registers that ate people and price tag guns with deadly lasers. She wanted to prowl around it in a pretty security guard's uniform, preferably in black. She wanted her own theme tune. As she didn't have a lair yet, she went to Stick Canyon to help Reala guard his.
She noticed something wrong as soon as she stepped past the barbed wire fence that said 'No Trespassing'. The music was wrong. It was usually quite harmonious as Reala's Nightopians were very happy. Today it jarred a little. What was wrong with the Nightopians? Levelwalker flew to find them. They were crowded around the huge structure in the middle of the Stick Canyon made of scaffolding, metal platforms and a magnetic lift thing. Reala usually perched right on the top of this industrial tower. He was nowhere to be seen. The Nightopians were crowded around the bottom, yelling and chattering. Midnight walked up to the nearest one and asked what was happening. The little creature pointed to a figure floating in the middle of the crowd. It was Reala in a flying wheelchair. He looked like he was in pain.
"What happened?" asked Levelwalker.
"I fell into the machinery!" said Reala.
"How'd you manage that?"
"I was perched on some scaffolding and fell asleep. Don't tell anyone!" he said, "If it wasn't for my Nightopians spotting me and pulling me out, I'd be dead."
The Nightopians jumped up and down chittering, proud of themselves.
"Please tell Wizeman that I can't guard Stick Canyon for a while. I need to wait until my legs heal."
Levelwalker flew away back to their headquarters in Twin Seeds. She saw Jackle and NiGHTs playing poker. NiGHTs was losing so Levelwalker pulled him away. She told him all about what had happened. They arranged a meeting of all the Nightmaren.
"We can't leave Stick Canyon unguarded." said Levelwalker, "I'll cover for Reala."
"We need to find Reala a get present." said Jackle.
"How about an owl?" asked NiGHTs.
"You get everyone owls for birthdays, christmas, weddings and funerals. Its getting kinda old." said Gillwing.
"I've got a better idea." said Midnight, "Claws, you're a qualified surgeon right?"
Claws extended his claws, "I'm a cat, but that's close enough."
"So you could do cybernetic surgery, right?"
"Er... what are you getting at?"
"Let's replace Reala's arms and legs with cybernetic parts and UPGRADE him so he won't be dented by machinery again!"
"Erm..." Jackle began, "Why does this sound like a good idea?"
"Because we're nightmares incarnate. Come on, let's get some parts. Can't have a cybernetic operation without machine parts, right?"
The best place to look for cybernetic parts was, of course, Stick Canyon which was full of bits of machines. Aided by Jackle and NiGHTs, Levelwalker picked up bits of wires, metal girders, hinges and bolts. They started welding together to make movable hands and feet. Midnight found what looked like a coffee machine that she could use to bring the machines to life. Reala's coffee could bring anything to life. She reached down to it and jumped six feet in the air, dropping it with a clang.
"WHO DARES DEFILE THIS INDUSTRIAL CHAPEL OF REGULUS?" said a loud, terrible voice that clanged. It filled Levelwalker with an unholy fear. She ran for it.
"DIE, APOSTATES OF THE GODDESS REGULUS!" there was a great rumbling. The tower was coming to life! Levelwalker felt barbed wire whip at her feet, threatening to pull her down into the earth, the cold grave. She ran faster. The lunch whistle was sounding, the terrible siren that should have been silenced a thousand years ago when Stick Canyon became derelict. Ghosts everywhere, going about their eternal duties, their touch cold as they passed right through her. She flew on, never surrendering to Stick Canyon's cold embrace.
"NO! I WILL NOT BE DENIED YOUR SOULS, TRESPASSERS!" screamed the voice. The whole thing was collapsing on her now, bricks, scaffolding, electric cables and whole platforms raining down on her head. She was near the exit. Using the last of her adrenaline, fueled by the fumes from the coffee machine, she darted for the barbed wire and practically crashed through it. She was out. The air was cooler, clearer. She could breathe again. She passed out.
Reala emerged from underneath a crane. He laughed.
"Upgrade me with cybernetic parts indeed." he laughed, "I don't need arms and legs to scare people the hell away from Stick Canyon. I'm a nightmare. The most important thing for a nightmare is imagination, atmosphere and timing. A nightmare has to be real but not real at the same time, surreal and distorted reality that jumps in when you least expect it. It doesn't matter if you're disabled or not, you can always do a Nightmaren's job."
Claws bought him an owl after all. He released it into a tree with the others. They hooted to his theme tune. The Nightopians were happy again.