A small black and blue, swirling ball generated in front of Dr. Andonuts' ex-chimera lab. It expanded, creating an opening for the 4 heroes to arrive followed by a trail of fire.
"That always makes me dizzy..." Claus said, recovering from the blurry vision Teleporting caused him.
"You will get used. Trust me," Ness reassured.
"Are the others here already?" Lucas asked.
"Yes, with the exception of Duster, whom Poo went to pick up."
"Good–" Lucas couldn't finish his words, as a powerful wind entered the area. An instant later Poo and Duster came out from a portal.
"Just in time," Claus said. He approached the other two and greeted them.
"Now that we're all here let's go inside and make the best of the time we have left." Lucas was the first to enter the lab.
"That sounds a bit creepy, you know," Ness whispered to Claus.
The people from Nowhere were greeted in sight by Jeff and Paula, and later by Andonuts, who joined them all on the common room.
"Are you ready for tomorrow?" Dr. Andonuts broke the silence.
"That is something one can't be ready for, Dr." Poo replied without hesitating.
"I know, I know, but I just want to think everything will go fine."
Claus sighed, getting everyone's attention. "At least are we sure the Needle is located near Summers?"
"No, we don't," Kumatora started. "Aside from the possible Magypsy location, we have nothing."
"And…" Jeff knew this was a sensible topic for the twins. "Do we already have a plan to use against… Claus' clone."
Claus was visibly troubled when the topic was brought up. Nonetheless, he said nothing.
Since his brother was silent, Lucas decided to talk, "Well, strangely enough the Commander's–"
"Wait, the Commander?" Poo asked.
Dusted picked up the question this time, "Back in the day, Claus used to be the Commander of the Pigmask Army, the ones who wants to find the Needle, and that's why we call his clone like that."
"I resume," Lucas said, waited until he got the attention back, and proceeded. "Claus used to be weak against electricity, I suppose it's due to his body being part machine and the electricity made short circuit or something…"
"Yeah, that sounds probable," Jeff added.
"Okay, but what about Boney? Remember?" Ness asked, having in mind what Boney means for the twins, and even for Duster and Kumatora.
Lucas was instantly hit by the memory; his shoulders were overwhelmed by the mental image of his dog, now a chimera. "I found out he is weak to ice. It takes a lot, though."
"Hey, doctor, what happened to that chimera Kumatora brought a couple of days ago?" Claus asked. He wasn't sure if he wanted the answer, but if it involved a possible hope for his dog, he had to risk it.
"The chimera is still under supervision," Andonuts started. "I was able to remove its 'orders'–"
"The orders?" Jeff asked.
"A group of codes inserted into a chip inside the chimera," the scientist responded. "However, I didn't notice that certain codes in the group had a great importance for the chimera's survival."
"And that means…" Claus said, expecting the doctor to continue.
"I can only wait and see how the chimera's body reacts. Although, I hate to say it, the chimera doesn't seem to have a good chance of survival."
The twins, Kumatora and Duster didn't take the information nicely. For the twins it meant a very low probability of saving Boney… in the case Boney didn't finish them off first, of course.
The air in the room was tense, so Kumatora decided to change into another important topic. "And Neyv… He will be a problem as well."
"He will probably be where the rest of the army is. Besides, I doubt Neyv is their only PSI-user," Paula said.
Ness yawned. "There's still much to arrange, and I am tired. Can't we do this tomorrow?"
"Well, I thought the plan was to go to sleep and tomorrow at first hour depart to Summers," Andonuts said.
"Unfortunately, that's the best we can do now."
Kumatora knew the why of "unfortunately", Lucas just wanted this to end–and so did the others–and having to wait a few more hours was painful. After all, just like Ness she needed sleep as well. Kumatora raised her hand just above her head. "I'm with Ness, for now we should try to sleep and tomorrow we can tie any loose end."
Dr. Andonuts clapped once, forcing a brief smile. "I rearranged four rooms just for you; there are bathrooms in each one, if any of you wish to use them. Sleep well," he finished.
It seemed like an abrupt way of finishing their "top priority meeting", that's what Claus thought. He, however, knew that the topic about his clone was going to be a huge part of their meeting, and he wanted to forget about that… at least for the few hours before they departed towards Summers.
Strangely enough, the twins decided to sleep in different rooms, not because they didn't want to be with the other but because Claus knew Duster better, while Lucas got along with Kumatora better than his brother. And for Kumatora it served as an excuse to be like herself. She told Lucas about the fear she had for being lonely (Lucas doubted for a second if it was real: Kumatora fearing something; but, indeed it was real).
"I-I don't know what to expect Luke," she said. "This last Magypsy will have a countdown on her life as soon as we meet her."
Lucas listened, recording each detail of her words. "Well…" he needed to think on the correct words for this situation. The scenario, however, just left him with the typical words. "You know you will have us, Kumatora. Not only Duster and I, but Claus, Mr. Wester, my parents… the whole town. And I can only tell that I will do all that is within my reach to make sure you don't feel like this anymore."
"I know you will, Lucas." She looked straight in his eyes, as if disapproving something. "You always put yourself after the people around you."
Indeed, just like Lucas thought, his words weren't the most reassuring. Still, she was thankful, and that was what mattered. Thankful for having Lucas as a friend.
"Don't worry," Lucas said, approaching Kumatora and placing a hand on her shoulder. "We'll make it through this, and everything will be back to normal. You will not be lonely anymore."
Ness had thought that once his body touched the mattress his eyes would instantly close. Unfortunately, he was wrong. He rolled over, threw the sheets to the floor and changed position several times, but he couldn't get himself to sleep.
"Lucky girl," he whispered to himself, as he watched Paula sleeping on the other side of the room. He noticed if he actually stopped making noise, Paula's breathing was the only sound on the room. An almost silent and calm breathing, he thought.
"Are you sleeping?" Ness heard Paula's voice through the darkness of the room.
"I thought you were," he replied.
"With all the noise you're doing it's quite hard," she said, and then her tone turned serious. "Besides, with that army almost knocking on the door I can't even relax."
"I know," Ness sighed.
She could hear the tension on Ness' words. She sat up and said. "Hopefully you won't mind this…"
"Ah…?" he wondered what she meant. He didn't have more than a couple of seconds to think, since Paula had used PSI Hypnosis on him.
After everyone had left the common room Dr. Andonuts switched off every light and headed to his room. He sat in his bed, feet on the floor.
His conscience had not overcome the guilt he felt. He told the twins the kangaroo-shark chimera that they brought were still alive. It was not, however. He spent countless hours, reviewing past experiences with chimeras, and how the process of creating them was. He tried following his process backwards to hopefully save the creature's mind from Porky, at least. It worked for a few hours… after that, the chimera's body started failing. It was going to be a slow death. Dr. Andonuts decided to put an end to the poor creature, however.
After the chimera's body was altered to endure and survive with machine parts on it, there wasn't a way to release it and let it live like before. Andonuts did delete the group of codes that had Porky's orders on them. But just like he said, that group contained precious codes to keep the chimera alive. That, along with certain machine parts was what caused the chimera's death.
He recalled something, and a thought bothered him. He switched on the lamp on the night table, and took a journal, where he kept vital information from his projects. Andonuts noticed that at some point on the deletion of specific core codes, he had doubts about the function of one of them. He deleted it, nonetheless…
"Could that be what killed seven-b?" Seven-b was the unique code with which a Kangashark was identified inside the group of scientist that worked on the chimeras.
Maybe… If he could ever lay hands of Boney, he could cure him. If he could cure Boney, he could cure any other chimera. That was if the entire world didn't die before.
Lucas heard a knock on his door. He didn't want to respond to it, not even open his eyes. There was something wrong, though. A light was entering the room. "Morning already?" he asked himself.
"Lucas! It's time to go, hurry!" The voice came from Claus on the other side of the door.
Lucas sat up and stretched. He looked to his left, Kumatora was fast asleep. He sighed; he was going to have to wake her up. "I see you in five, Claus!" he called back.
Lucas heard Claus' steps fading, until he was gone.
He threw a pillow to Kumatora's head. "Time to get up, princess."
She grunted, "Alright…"
Lucas got up from the bed and headed to the bathroom. He stripped his pajama, and took a 2 minute bath just to wake up completely. He exited the bathroom and glanced at Kumatora. "Come on, we need every minute!"
She was sitting in the bed, trying to overcome her tiredness. "I know. Go with the others, I see you there."
Lucas left the room without replying. He ran down the hall until he arrived to the common room, where everyone else was either eating breakfast or just talking.
"Ready, Luke?" Ness asked; his words barely understandable since he had his mouth filled with cereal.
"We only have to wait for Kumatora and we're ready to go."
A minute later she entered the common room… jumping on one foot, as she put on her left boot. "You're getting too relaxed, ladies, let's go."
Everyone agreed, and exited the laboratory. "Good luck. I'll see you soon," Dr Andonuts said, as the heroes formed two lines.
Every hero responded with a 'see you later' or a simple nod. They formed two lines. In the one that led Ness, Jeff, Paula, and Claus were with him. In the second line, which was led by Poo, were Lucas, Kumatora and Duster.
"We'll meet at Summers' boundaries," Ness told Poo.
The prince nodded. The two PSI Teleport-wielders were ready. They warned the integrants of their lines and started running.
The heroes traveled inside an alternate space for an instant before they arrived where an ice-coated sign stood. WELCOME TO SUMMERS, it read.
Still dizzy, Lucas took the lead and said, "Let's go."
They walked 200 meters from the sign to Summer's entrance. They traveled between the largest buildings they could find.
The streets continued to be empty. They didn't want to risk the element of surprise, though, at any moment a Pigmask soldier could come out from nowhere.
Suddenly, they halted; a wide street was in front of them. It was empty, but they could smell the danger.
"I will get to the top of those buildings, when I see it's safe to cross, I tell you," Poo said.
Ness nodded, "Go."
The heroes took cover in the shadows of an alley, while Poo dashed upstairs through eight floors of abandoned apartments. When he reached the last floor, he exited to the rooftop, and crouch-walked across it.
Careful he couldn't be seen from other building, Poo inspected the street first. He spotted a handful of war vehicles and soldiers, but they were four or five streets farther.
"Alright…" he muttered, recording in his mind exactly what he saw.
His eyes shifted from the streets to the rooftops that shadowed nearby streets as if they were clouds. Poo's eyes swept the area. From left to right he carefully inspected the rooftops until his eyes froze on a rooftop at his three o' clock.
A winged beast stood in its two mole-like legs. It was the last adjective what confused Poo. The beast was coated with what looked like its own wings… two wings that possibly belonged to a bat. He couldn't make out what exactly the strange creature was, though, since his head was sheltered inside his wings, with the exception of his ears, which perked out.
Poo backed up carefully, turned around and began his way down the apartment. It was important to let the others know about the beast–or chimera, as he remembered they were called. He recalled the bat are like a living radar, so if they moved in the wrong direction, the chimera could possibly alert every soldier in the area. Also, the mole is known for having an excellent sense of hearing. He knew they were not going to go anywhere with that thing there, they needed to eliminate it.
He counted 18 seconds to get down and exit the eight floor apartments. Not bad, he thought. A few meters away the heroes were still in the same alley as silent as possible.
"And?" Jeff asked.
Poo joined the heroes inside the alley. "There's a chimera on top of a building," he pointed out of the alley and into the distance, "in that direction."
"A chimera?" Lucas wondered out loud.
"And a handful of vehicles and soldiers, but they are farther."
"Can't we sneak around the chimera?" Duster's thief skills asked for themselves.
"I doubt it. It seems to be a mix between a bat and a mole," Poo paused, expecting the others to realize the skill both animals had to detect… their preys. Nobody seemed to understand the point, though.
"The problem is," Jeff took the word. "A bat works as a radar so to speak. In the other side, the mole also has outstanding hearing sense."
"I see, now," Ness muttered.
"In that case, how are we gonna get across?" Claus asked.
"We will have to kill it, right?" Paula asked. Nobody responded for a brief moment.
"It's a shame to do that to an innocent creature," Lucas commented, knowing what they had to do, but not happy with it.
"Since Pokey put a hand on it it's not an innocent creature anymore," Kumatora said.
The heroes followed Poo through the same apartment he had been before. When they reached the rooftop Poo told them to keep themselves as low as possible.
Ness made a low whistle when he saw the creature. "That thing is scary."
"Scary we'll be when you alert that chimera with your whistle," Jeff said, and Ness rolled his eyes.
"And what's the plan?" Duster asked.
"A PK Rockin' won't take that chimera down in one shot, for sure," Ness said.
"Startorm?" Jeff asked, without thinking.
"The meteors falling 'may' attract attention," Claus replied.
"And a multi-PK Thunder?" Kumatora asked.
Paula shook her head, "I doubt we would be able to time it correctly…"
"Wait… Claus, doesn't you sword channels electricity?" Lucas asked his twin.
"Well, yeah…" Lucas raised an eyebrow in response to make it look even more obvious. "Oh! We can channel everyone's thunders in the sword and shoot the chimera."
"In that case, you will have one shot only," Poo warned Claus.
"I know," Claus responded, confident. "Let's do it. Charge my sword using PK Thunder."
The heroes who could use PK Thunder hesitated; it was a risky move… with a huge reward, if pulled off, though. Kumatora, Poo and Paula approached Claus. Their faces lighted up as they charged a PK Thunder of different levels. Claus' gaze shifted between the three heroes. They were concentrating on their part, and he had, too. There was only one shot: if he failed, the chimera would alert the whole army, but if he succeeded, they could cross a huge part of the city without much danger.
"I am ready," Paula said.
"Me too," Poo added.
Claus looked at Kumatora, she nodded.
"Okay, do it."
Claus grasped his sword with two hands–his knuckles turned white and he could clearly see the veins in his arms. Poo released the thunder first, followed by Paula, and lastly by Kumatora. Claus' eyes mirrored in a green tone the thunders consumed by the sword. He felt the electricity running through the unknown material the sword was made of. He didn't let go the sword, but the sheer force pushed him backwards; thankfully, Ness and Lucas supported him putting a hand on his back.
As the sword consumed several PK Thunders, Claus prepared his own: a Gamma level one. The sword glowed a bright and powerful lighting-yellow (Jeff thanked the chimera was blind). Claus closed his eyes just an instant and opened them again when he was ready. The sword spat sparks in random directions, as if telling Claus it was time to let it go. He aimed as perfectly as he could, and thrust the sword forward. A war cry was followed by the crackling, giant thunder coming out of the sword. The noise made the chimera react in godly-like time… the thunder, however, roared with the force of a lion and flew with the speed of a divine eagle.
The chimera tried evading to the left, not fast enough, though. Luckily, the thunder struck on the creature's heart, piercing across its body, and leaving a hole on the chimera's left side. It emitted a low whimper as the light left its blinded eyes. The inside of its body suffered various bleedings and incurable wounds. A black shape fell from the top of a nine-floor building, causing a thump as it hit the floor and created a small crater. The thunder continued traveling, crossing kilometers in an instant. Nobody saw it.
"That was awesome!" Ness said.
Claus only heard a part of Ness' words. His body was concentrated on the leftover electricity running through it. He fell backwards on the rooftop.
"Quickly, heal him," Lucas said, concern creeping up his voice.
Kumatora stepped forward and crouched in front of Claus. She muttered the necessary words and a green glow emerged from her hands. She placed her hands on Claus' chest.
Claus opened his eyes after a few seconds passed. He inhaled and exhaled. It felt good. "Did I do it?"
"Perfectly." Poo nodded, showing respect to the amazing stunt Claus had made.
Lucas was glad his brother was okay. He, however, noticed how tired Claus looked. He may slow everyone down. "Are you okay to continue?"
"I just…" His words were slow. "I can continue."
Lucas didn't agree with his brother. Claus sat up, put a hand on his knee and sprang to his feet. "See? I'm okay."
As soon as Claus' words finished, his knees gave up. He felt a shock going across his body, and then fell to the floor. Duster and Ness–who reacted the fastest–caught Claus mid-fall. "You're definitely not okay."
"It seems like Claus will need some time to recover. What if I go to the shore to scout in the meantime?" Poo said.
"I go with you," Duster added.
"No way. You can't go that far by yourselves," Ness shook his head.
"It would be quite helpful, Ness," Jeff interrupted. "That will give time to Claus to recover… and is not that far from here."
Claus listened to the conversation. All of a sudden he felt like a burden for everyone. But he did what he was supposed to do, right? That should have make up for this.
"Don't take too long," Ness said, giving up on the discussion. "Come back as soon as possible."
Both, the thief and the prince nodded.
They crossed had several alleys with silent and quick strides. There were not as much enemy soldiers as they thought; still, they decided to avoid any unnecessary contact with them.
"We are not far from the bay," Poo said, recalling Summers map in his head.
"Alright," Duster replied. "Wait," he whispered. The sound of guns and equipment going up and down–as when a person marches–resounded on Duster's ears.
"I hear it," Poo said.
Duster crouch-walked a few meters forward. Between thrash-littered alleys, and the lack of a sun, he was just another shadow moving inside the alley. From inside the alley, Duster waited until the noise came back and showed up as two soldiers passing by. Duster looked back to Poo. With quick gestures it was decided they were going to take down the two soldiers with the less noise possible.
Duster and Poo took a long step out of the alley, covered the mouth of the two soldiers and dragged them inside the shadows. A quick punch turned off their lights.
After that small obstacle, the duo had arrived to the residential area, in which so far there were not soldiers. They walked all the way across the zone until they found a boat… then two… and then one dozen more.
The boats, however, were trapped in the ice that spread all across the ocean.
"We will have to cross this again," Duster said, his eyes examining the ice covering the ocean.
"Yeah, we will."
"Let's space ourselves." Duster distanced himself from Poo. "Be careful."
Without a doubt, they stepped into the ice floor. In a slow pace they crossed the frozen sea; also being careful on any enemy soldiers in the distance that could potentially spot them.
When Duster put the first foot on the small land, he sighed with relief. "Finally… Now, where is that shell house."
"Do you remember where you saw it?"
"Yes," Duster said, signaling Poo to follow him. They walked across the piece of land to the opposite end. Duster recalled when he first saw the shell house. He had seen it from the harbor, so it should be easier to find now.
"No?" Poo asked, noticing Duster's expression.
"Wait, I think there's something there." There was mist this time around–which there was not the last time Duster was here. But inside the thick mist there was a strange-shaped object on top of a hill, which was not easy to miss.
Duster squinted. He noticed the object was the size a typical Magypsy shell house would be. He wasn't yet sure it was the shell house, though. But then his eyes found the spiral top the object had. "Yes!"
Poo already knew what "yes" meant. "Where is it?"
Duster pointed at the distance, where Poo saw a black and electric blue colored shell… How a person is supposed to live in one of those? He wondered.
"We have to remember where it is exactly," Duster looked around. "With all this mist, we can easily get lost."
"Right," Poo said. "Come on, everyone must be wondering where are we."
Duster nodded. From there, the duo hurried back to the harbor, and then to the residential area, where they found the way they first came. Melting into the shadows on several alleys, and knowing the area better, they traveled back to where the others were.
With the exception of Poo and Duster, everyone decided to stay at the rooftop of the apartments. Lucas closely watched Claus' condition.
Ness, Paula and Jeff sat not far from the twins, just killing time.
Kumatora walked from one end of the roof to another, eager for the duo to come back and continue on the search of the eight Magypsy… and hopefully she wouldn't feel so lonely anymore.
The eaglelanders heard footsteps coming to the rooftop. Very fast footsteps. For a moment, Ness thought to relax since Poo and Duster were the only possible persons interested in getting up these apartments… However, he decided to prepare for a possible confrontation; Jeff and Paula followed him.
The footsteps halted. The door opened slowly and the tension was still flooding Ness… Until he saw Duster's boots stepping into the rooftop.
"Oh, it's only you," Ness said.
Duster nodded with a small smirk. He hurried over the twins and Kumatora. "We found the shell house."
Kumatora couldn't hide her amazed gesture. She glanced to the opposite side, whispering "yes".
"That's awesome!" Lucas added.
"Yeah, it is." Claus planted a hand in his knee to support himself and stand up.
"Are you okay? We weren't gone for more than half an hour," Duster said with a hint of concern.
"I'm wonderful here." He put a hand on his head, which seemed to tell him to stay down and relax. "Besides, we are wasting precious time."
"Claus's right," Paula approached the group. "We better hurry."
Poo and Duster led the rest of the group through the path they had created to get to the harbor. Even though they were more people this time, they got to their destiny faster. A few of soldiers marched near them. With stealth, they let those soldiers continue their way, and then continued.
The first thing Lucas thought when arriving to the bay was how they were going to go across. The ice covering the water was frozen solid… or at least that was what nature wanted them to think.
"The shell house is not that far," Duster broke the silence. "We can go from here to the nearest piece of land, and from there the mist is hiding the shell house."
"The problem is, Duster," Jeff said. "We may be able to walk a few meters into the ice, but after that it will break below us. It's risky."
"Duster and I expected you to come up with something," Poo shrugged.
Paula's mind lighted up as an idea came to her head. "And what if we take a boat–"
"Obviously, the ice won't let us go through the water," Kumatora said, lightly annoyed by the ridiculousness of the suggestion… at least that was before Paula corrected her.
"No, of course no. We can take a boat, and use PK Fire to melt the ice that's in our way."
"That might work," Jeff stroke his chin as he pondered on the idea. "It will be very tiring, though."
"In that case…" Claus walked between everyone else, heading to the nearest boat. "Let's get this thing going."
Everyone stepped inside the boat. There was just one more thing to sort out: How to drive a boat?
As in signal, the three eaglelanders looked at Jeff, who rolled his eyes. "I have read about this, maybe I can make it work."
After seven minutes and thirty six seconds (Poo counted) Jeff deciphered the basics of the boat. And so, as a surprise for everyone else, the engine roared to life.
"Well done," Ness said, tapping Jeff in the shoulder.
"Since that worked," Paula walked over to Kumatora. "You and I are going to be at the bow to melt the ice blocking the way."
It seemed like a great idea for Kumatora… It's just that… "Bow?"
Kumatora followed Paula to the bow of the boat. They stood almost at the edge, being careful of not slipping off into the water or ice (the boat had an increasing layer of ice).
Before anything, Kumatora had still to try and see if she could use PSI normally again. Since she was rescued from that Monotoli building her ability to use PSI had been slowly recovering. Before departing, she took a little moment to try and create a small fire. She achieved it, but her mental stamina quickly drained after several seconds. Kumatora hoped her fire would burn good enough to make Paula's idea work. Yes! Her fire would burn just as those monsters, the Pigmasks, burned the beautiful Sunshine forest years ago. Just as the fire burned and killed several poor and innocent creatures…
Paula looked back at Jeff, and said, "When the ice starts melting you start the boat."
Jeff nodded, signal for the two girls to start working. "Now!" Paula commanded Kumatora.
The two girls shot a continued stream of fire from their hands. The twin fires quickly melted the solid ice blocking the front way. Paula stopped for a moment and walked all across the edge to get rid of the ice around the boat. When she returned to Kumatora's side, Jeff knew it was time to start moving.
Even though Duster noticed how slow they moved on the boat in comparison to Poo and himself, it was the best option for the number of people they were.
From the bow, Kumatora and Paula took turns to burn the ice in the way. Paula took note of how longer her "turns" were compared to those of Kumatora; she recalled how Kumatora was having problems with her PSI after she came back from the Monotoli building, so she didn't mind the longer turns.
After realizing the fact that there was snow falling, and ice covering everything, but with no real cold for their bodies, Ness and Lucas came up with various theories–involving the Dark Dragon's release side effects.
Duster stayed at Jeff's side, leading him through the strange waters. He used the small piece of land he was on before as a guide to find the shell house within the mist.
Suddenly, after 15 minutes, the boat stopped, Paula's fire faded, and the whole team looked to the front. A few meters from the bow there was a shell house on top of a hill. The electric blue and black shell Duster and Poo saw before.
The group observed their destination upon them. It was a strangely feeling, some of them thought. The time seemed to slow down as a strange sensation blended with the air. Ness broke the silence.
"We can't get up there from here," he said, emotionless.
"Let me search a place to dock, then." Jeff started the boat again.
Kumatora observed with nostalgia the shell house as the boat moved away from it. She inhaled and exhaled when she realized this was may be the end of their journey.