This fan fiction has been in my head for a long time. I got the idea from watching a CSI episode back in September/October of 2010. This story has some elements of that episode. I do not own Chaotic, (and just to cover myself, I don't own CSI either), but the characters of Claudi and Tony are mine. I'm doing the best I can with the horror genre, but in case I miss it completely, I apologize and I hope you enjoy the story anyway. All reviews and feedback welcome so please review.
How did this happen? Maybe I should start at the beginning. Although I don't know where the beginning is. I guess several things contributed to what happened to me. I really need to stop watching horror movies, because I know that added to the hell I was put through. Forget all of the factors; you can decide them yourself. All I know is that I never want to go through anything like that again.
Here's what I remember for sure: everything started on a Tuesday. Tom and I planned to go to Chaotic after school. He had a match with Sarah and I was going to Perim to get a bag of Dractyl scales for H'earring. I'm pretty sure that's when everything began to go downhill.
My name is Kaz. This is my Halloween Horror.
Kaz climbed the giant tree to Dractyl's nest. He figured he had about twenty minutes before Dractyl returned. It was more than enough time to get what he needed and get out of there.
As he picked up the disgusting scales, Kaz felt like someone or something was watching him. He looked around and saw no one.
"Easy, Kazzie," he told himself. "You're just paranoid. No more all-night horror flick marathons."
Kaz shook off the feeling and continued collecting H'earring's favorite snack. He pulled off the rubber gloves he was wearing, got his scanner, and transported to Underworld City.
"H'earring," Kaz called as he stood outside of H'earring's house. "You home?"
There was no answer. Kaz smirked and opened the bag of Dractyl scales. The window on the second floor flew open.
"Dractyl scales?" H'earring cried. He sniffed the air. "Yep, I know that wonderful smell anywhere. I'll be right down, Kaz."
H'earring came out and Kaz handed the bag of scales to him. H'earring scooped out a handful and shoved them into his mouth.
"Mmm-mmm! This is why I love doing business with you," said H'earring with his mouth full.
"As long as you keep giving me good intel, we won't have a problem," said Kaz. "So what do you got?"
"Chaor had Ulmar build him a new mowercycle," said H'earring. "Did you hear that he wrecked the last one? Anyway it's supposed to be supercharged, faster than the last."
Kaz raised an eyebrow. "I want to get a scan of that," he said.
"I'll see what I can do," said H'earring.
"Thanks, buddy," said Kaz.
"Oh, I'm supposed to tell you that Chaor's looking for you," said H'earring.
Kaz frowned in confusion. "Chaor's looking for me? Why?"
H'earring shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, he just told me to tell you that he wants to talk to you. I think he has a mission for you."
"Oh, joy," groaned Kaz. "I better head over there. I'll see you later, H'earring."
Kaz pulled out his scanner and was about to 'port to Chaor's castle when he felt something watching him again.
"What's wrong, Kaz?" H'earring asked, noticing Kaz's uneasiness.
Kaz rubbed his arms. "Feels like something's watching me," he told H'earring. "The same thing happened at Dractyl's nest."
H'earring looked around, lifting a floppy ear to listen. "I don't hear anything out of the ordinary," he said.
"Anyway, I better get going," said Kaz. "Enjoy the scales."
"Oh, I will," said H'earring, licking his lips.
Kaz 'ported into Chaor's castle.
It was quiet and gloomy, which was perfectly normal, yet Kaz still felt that he was being watched. He looked around and only saw a few suits of armor that Chaor had decorated the corridors with.
Shaking off the feeling again, Kaz began taking the secret passages to Chaor's throne room. He walked out of the passageway into the corridor. Kaz heard something move. He ducked into the shadows, thinking that a soldier was coming. When no one came down the corridor, Kaz stepped out of the shadows and headed for the next passage.
Kaz was about to open the passageway when he felt someone watching him again. He paused and listened. Something was moving directly behind him! Kaz whipped around.
Kaz saw a shadow behind him and red eyes. The shadow pulled out a blade and began slashing at Kaz. Kaz shouted, throwing his arms up to protect himself. The blade mercilessly cut into his skin, blood splattering the wall behind him in wide arches. Kaz was forced to the ground, but continued to protect himself, trying to get his assailant off of him.
At last, everything went black.
From a pit of sleep, Kaz formed a coherent thought.
It was a dream. It was all just a dream. I'm in my own bed and the nightmare has ended. It's morning now, and I'm fine.
Kaz twitched his fingers and felt a stabbing pain shoot up his arm. Slowly, he opened his eyes to see the blurry world before him. This was not his room and most definitely not his bed. Kaz sat up and fumbled for his glasses on the bedside table. Once placing them on his face, Kaz saw that his nightmare had been very real. His arms were neatly bandaged and Kaz could feel the stitches pulling under the gauze. In his sleep, someone had removed his vest and shirt, placing them within his reach. Both were stained with blood.
The door to the room opened.
"So you're awake, Kazzie," said Chaor.
"Chaor," murmured Kaz. "What happened?"
Chaor's eyes widened. "You don't remember?"
"The last thing I remember is meeting with H'earring," Kaz said.
Chaor growled. "You were attacked," he explained. "I'm surprised you survived. You've been asleep since yesterday."
Kaz leaned against the headboard. He felt sick. Since yesterday? The others must have been worried about him.
"You're white as a sheet, Kaz," said Chaor. "You better lie down."
"It doesn't even feel like I slept," Kaz said, snuggling under the blankets.
"Your body is working to heal itself," Chaor said. "You'll feel better after you rest more."
Kaz took his glasses off and closed his eyes. After he heard Chaor leave, Kaz grabbed his glasses and took his scanner from his pants pocket.
"Kaz, where are you?" asked Tom. "Whoa, you look like crap."
"I feel like crap, too," Kaz said. "I got attacked in Chaor's castle."
"What? Are you okay?" Now Kaz could see Sarah and Peyton moving behind Tom. "It's not serious, is it?"
"No, I'm just very tired," said Kaz.
"Who did this to you?" asked Tom.
"I'm not sure," said Kaz. "I just called to tell you that I'm okay."
"You better get back to Chaotic," said Tom.
Kaz shook his head. "This is the safest place I can be right now," he said. "I want to try and put this together. I'll be back soon."
Tom sighed. There was no reasoning with Kaz. "Be careful, okay?"
"I will," Kaz replied with a weak smile.
Kaz clicked off his scanner and fell back on his pillow. "This sucks," he muttered. "This really sucks."
Sitting up again, he called another scanner. This wasn't a person he would normally go to for help, but he wasn't sure what else to do.
"Hello?" the British accented voice of a girl came. She was a little older than Kaz, her ink black hair cut in a bob and her dark eyes lined with dark makeup.
"Yes," she said.
"This is Kaz. I was wondering if you could help me."
"I'll see what I can do for you, love," said Claudi.
Kaz bit his lip. "You might think that I'm crazy."
Claudi laughed. "Don't assume. Just tell me what your problem is."
Kaz sighed. "I was attacked by a demon," he said.
Kaz braced himself for a fit of giggles, but none came. Claudi was patiently waiting for Kaz to tell her what happened.
"Go on," said Claudi. "I'm sure that isn't the end of the story."
"Well." Kaz held up his bandaged arm. He watched Claudi's lips part in surprise. "I felt like someone was following me for most of the day. I thought it was just my imagination because I have been watching a lot of monster movies — you know, Halloween horror fest. Anyway, when I came to Chaor's castle, I was going to enter one of the secret passages when I heard something behind me. I turned around and there was this shadow. It pulled out a blade and began slashing my arms."
Claudi's face was a mask of concern. "Did it say anything to you?" she asked sternly.
Kaz thought for a moment. "Yeah, it said 'hello'."
Claudi frowned. "Do you remember anything else?"
"I fought back, that I remember," said Kaz. "Its body was slippery. It had red eyes."
"Slippery? Like latex?"
Kaz nodded. "Yeah," he replied. "Like doctor's gloves."
Claudi leaned back. Then she giggled.
Kaz groaned. "I knew you wouldn't believe me," he said.
"It's not that I don't believe you were attacked, love," said Claudi. "It's because your shadow assailant is human."
"I'm sure of it," said Claudi. "What you felt was a head-to-toe latex suit. Probably skintight."
"A skintight latex suit?" Kaz asked. "Who would wear something like that?"
Claudi was about to answer when something distracted her. Someone was moving off to her side. She looked over. Kaz heard a voice.
"It's KidChaor," Claudi told the other person.
Another face took up part of the screen. It was a young man older than Kaz with rumpled, dirty blonde hair. The first thing that Kaz noticed that he was dichromatic, having one blue eye and one green eye. He looked like he was still half asleep.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Not much," Kaz replied nervously.
"This is Tony," said Claudi. "My boyfriend."
Kaz flushed. "Oh, geez! I am so sorry. I didn't know I was interrupting anything."
"It's cool," said Claudi. "He was sleeping, I was awake. You didn't interrupt anything."
"You wanted to know what a skintight latex suit was for?" said Tony. "I have two explanations: One, somebody has a fetish."
Kaz's pale cheeks flushed briefly. "And the other?"
"What I use it for," said Tony.
"And what do you use it for?" Kaz inquired, a little afraid to ask.
Tony and Claudi smiled. "I was hoping you would ask," said Tony.
Tony got up and Claudi aimed the scanner's camera at Tony.
"Can you see?" asked Claudi.
"Yeah, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at," Kaz replied.
"Watch," said Tony.
Tony bent over backwards, walking his hands under his legs so his body was completely folded in half. He then rested all his weight on his elbows and chest, raising his feet just enough that he could tickle his own ear with his big toe.
Kaz thought he was going to be sick. "Oh, God!" gagged Kaz.
Claudi turned the scanner back to herself. "Tony's a contortionist."
"Really? I wouldn't have guessed," Kaz said sarcastically, trying to keep what little stomach contents he had in his stomach.
"You know, it's time to get up anyway," said Claudi. "We'll see what we can find where you were attacked. You get some sleep. You're probably safe where you are."
"Okay," said Kaz.
Kaz put his scanner away and took his glasses off.
Kaz wasn't sure how long he had been asleep, but he felt a lot better. His stomach had settled and he felt some of his strength returning. He rolled over in bed, pulling the sheet up to his ear. Then heard something move.
Kaz jumped up and looked around. The only thing he could see was a giant red blur.
"Holy crap!" muttered Kaz, rubbing his eyes. He picked up his glasses and put them on. "You scared the hell out of me, Chaor."
Chaor stood at the side of the bed. "Sorry, Kaz. I thought you were still asleep."
Kaz looked up at Chaor with a baffled look. Chaor? Apologizing? That was just too weird.
"I came in to change your bandages," Chaor said.
"Oh." Kaz sat up.
Chaor carefully unwrapped the bandages. Kaz stared at the cuts on his arms. Some of them were stitched up, the shallower cuts were left to heal on their own. He noticed that the cuts were clean. A kitchen knife didn't do this. If this guy was human, it would be tough to get a weapon into Chaotic. It would have to be easily concealed. Kaz thought for a moment, reliving those horrid moments. It wasn't shaped right to be a pocketknife or any type of knife. It was rectangular — a straight razor!
"Kaz? Are you all right?"
Kaz looked up at Chaor, who was holding Kaz's wrist with one hand.
"I'm okay," said Kaz, forcing the memories to the back of his mind.
Chaor finished bandaging Kaz's arms.
"Get some sleep, Kaz," said Chaor.
Chaor left the room before Kaz could settle down. Kaz closed his eyes and heard the door open again. He thought Chaor left something behind. But if that were it, why would he be smelling pizza?
Kaz jumped up. He grabbed his glasses off the table and shoved them on his face. What he saw made him wish that he hadn't grabbed his glasses.
"Whoa, crap!" he cried.
Claudi was standing at the side of the bed holding a pizza. She was dressed in a black corset with crimson laces, a short black skirt with a studded belt, her wallet chain hanging down to her knee. She had on fishnet stockings and knee-high, red plaid, double-decker boots. Her arms were adorned with chunky jewelry and she had a studded collar around her neck. Her face was heavily made up with dark eye makeup and plum lipstick. Kaz noticed that her black hair had a section dyed deep purple.
"Good day, love," she said. "I brought you sustenance."
Claudi placed the pizza on the table and opened the lid. It was a Perim pizza with the works. Kaz sat up and took a slice. Claudi watched Kaz fress two slices before saying anything.
"Tony found where you were attacked," she said. "And judging by your injuries, I don't think this guy wanted to kill you. At least now right away."
Kaz choked on his pizza. He managed to dislodge it and swallow it properly. "You think he just wanted to hurt me for fun? What the hell is wrong with this psychopath?"
"There's no need for a foul mouth," said Claudi. "Are you sure he didn't say anything else to you?"
"Positive," replied Kaz. "I was too busy yelling to hear anything else. I wasn't exactly playing the 'Name That Sound In the Background of a Teenage Boy's Screams' game at the time."
The door to the room opened and Tony slipped in. Kaz thought he was scrawny before, but he realized that the camera definitely added ten pounds. Tony was 5'7'' and maybe weighed a buck thirty, tops. He was wearing a pair of skinny jeans, a gray Zoo York sweatshirt, and slip-on shoes.
"Hey, I found the place," Tony announced. He saw the pizza box. "Ooh, pizza!"
Tony reached for a slice and Claudi slapped his hand away. "That's Kaz's!"
"Ow," muttered Tony, rubbing his hand. "Meany."
"So what did you find?" asked Claudi.
"A lot of blood, a few bloody footprints and hand prints, more blood. Oh, did I mention blood?" Tony continued. Claudi glared at him. "Moving on. Whoever this guy was, he spider walks."
"Huh?" asked Kaz.
"Like this." Tony dropped down on all fours and began putting foot in front of hand and hand in front of foot. "He's agile for one thing."
"And he's good at hiding," Kaz added. "I knew he was there, but I couldn't find him."
"How about you get dressed and we'll go back to Chaotic together," said Claudi. "We'll figure out what happened there."
Kaz pulled himself out of bed and pulled on his bloody clothes. The three of them 'ported back to Chaotic. They found a table and ordered some snacks.
"You know, I heard someone saying about some whack job who hangs out at the Labyrinth of Lyssk," said Tony. He picked up a french fry and dipped it in ketchup. "Real piece of work from what I'm told."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Kaz.
"Talking to himself, saying his 'little friends' told him to do these sick things, I can go on," Tony said.
"We get the picture, Tony," said Claudi. "We think it's him because I saw him a drome match before and he had red contacts in."
Kaz sighed. "Now we know who it is," he said, "but what are we going to do about it?"
"I already contacted the Codemasters," said Claudi. "If we can catch him, they will ship him off."
"Great," groaned Kaz.
"Chill," said Tony. "We'll be with you."
"To the Labyrinth!" said Claudi, jumping up and running to the transport disks.
The three of them transported to the Labyrinth of Lyssk.
"This place is creepy," said Tony.
Claudi smiled. "I like it."
"My friend Tom was here before," said Kaz.
The three of them began wandering the labyrinth, keeping each other in sight. It was dark and shadows and rocks made things appear that weren't really there.
"Maybe he's not here," stammered Kaz.
"Let's hope he is," said Claudi. "It'll be a real pain to track him down if he isn't."
Tony froze. "Did you two hear that?"
"Hear what?" whimpered Kaz.
Claudi listened intently. There were footsteps echoing through the labyrinth. They sounded far away, but none of them could be certain. The three of them moved back to back. The footsteps became louder and it sounded that there was more than one person.
"What are you three doing?" someone shouted.
All three of them screamed. Kaz was the first to recognize the voice and the face that went with it.
"Najarin!" he cried.
"Bloody hell!" Claudi shouted.
Najarin and Intress had come around the corner. They were just as surprised to see the three humans. Either that or the company Kaz was happening to keep at the moment.
"You two scared the hell out of us," Tony half laughed.
"What in the name of Perim are you three doing here?" asked Intress. She turned to Kaz. "What happened to you?"
"Some crazy attacked him," Tony said.
"We think he might be down here," said Kaz.
"So you came down here, looking for the human who attacked you?" Najarin shook his head. "I am unsure whether you humans are brave or foolish."
"Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out who's the bigger ass myself," said Tony. "Claudi for leading, me for following, or Kaz for not running home and hiding under the bed."
Kaz glared at Tony. "Shut up. I'm pissed off enough already."
"Oh, what are you going to do?" sniped Tony.
"I'm thinking about kicking your ass, Anthony," growled Kaz.
"Really? Let's see what you got, Kalinkas!"
Intress and Najarin showed no sign of putting a stop to their fighting, but Claudi certainly had enough.
"Will you two wankers quit your bitching?" she yelled. "What's past is past and now we're here. Now, stop fighting or it's my boot up your arse!"
The boys turned to her, afraid she would make good on her threat.
Kaz took a chance and said, "And you yell at me for having a foul mouth?"
Tony would have laughed if he had not been petrified by his girlfriend's angered expression.
Neither Najarin nor Intress said anything.
Claudi turned to the Creatures. "What are you two doing here?" she asked. "Isn't this UnderWorld territory?"
They didn't say anything. Kaz narrowed his eyes, looking closely at Intress and Najarin. There was something wrong with this picture. Very wrong.
"Run!" Kaz yelled, grabbing Claudi's arm.
Intress fired an ember swarm in their direction and a wind slash from Najarin missed Tony by inches. The three of them ran deeper into the labyrinth. By survival instinct, they managed to lose them and they hid amongst some rocks.
"What was that?" Tony asked, panting in Kaz's ear.
"They weren't Intress and Najarin," whispered Kaz.
"Clones? Oh, fricking great!" hissed Tony. "Just what we need."
"How did you know?" asked Claudi. "They looked like them."
"They are similar," said Kaz. "You never met Najarin and Intress. I have. Intress would have put a stop to our fighting before Claudi could get a word out of her mouth. If not, she would have scolded Claudi for her mouth. She hates it when friends fight. And Najarin's eyes weren't right."
"They're blue," said Tony. "What's not right about them?"
"You've never met Najarin," said Kaz. "It's not something I can explain. There's this sternness you see in his eyes. He doesn't have to speak and you know not to mess with him. I didn't see it back there. And neither of them would be in UnderWorld territory unless they had a good reason."
"Well, apparently they do because they want to kill us," snapped Claudi.
"Come on," said Kaz. "We have to keep moving. Even if that Intress is a fake, there's still a good chance that she could sniff us out."
The three of them wandered the labyrinth as quietly as they could. Any sound made them freeze and listen.
"We are so lost," said Kaz after a half an hour of walking.
There was a noise behind them!
The three of them felt a sharp pain and fell to the ground, asleep.
Kaz regained consciousness slowly, listening to the sound of scraping and something falling on the ground. It didn't sound like rain; no, it was more muffled. He opened his eyes and found himself staring at the labyrinth ceiling. Not far from him, someone was singing.
"Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's going to buy you a mocking bird. If that mocking bird don't sing, Papa's going to buy you a diamond ring."
Kaz winced. The voice was almost Mipedian like. It was more of a hiss than a singing voice. As the person sang, the scraping and the strange noise continued. Kaz quickly realized there was a pattern. Scrape, then a dull thunk, over and over. It was a shovel and dirt!
Slowly and carefully, Kaz sat up and turned his head. A shadow was holding a shovel and he was filling in a hole. There were two pine boxes that looked a lot like coffins off to one side. He looked around and saw Tony lying not too far from him. But where was Claudi?
Kaz felt his stomach fall into his abdomen as sickening realization sank in. The dirt was hitting something wooden and hollow. The shadow was burying Claudi alive!
Before he knew it, Kaz had leapt up and slammed his full weight into the shadow and they both tumbled into the semi-filled hole. Kaz punched the shadow in the face as hard as he could. The shadow slipped away and got on top of Kaz.
"Intress, hold him!" the shadow shouted.
Kaz was yanked out of the hole and trapped by Intress's powerful arms. He struggled to get free.
"You're not going to get away with this!" shouted Kaz.
"I think I am," replied the shadow, its red eyes fixed on Kaz. "Especially when I have these." It held up three scanners, one of which Kaz recognized as his own. It turned around and went back to filling the hole.
Kaz fought with Intress, but her grip kept getting tighter, forcing all of the air out of Kaz's lungs.
The shadow finished filling in the hole. "Najarin, bring me the boy," the shadow commanded.
Najarin picked up Tony and carried him to the shadow. The shadow took Tony and placed him in a pine box. It turned to Kaz.
"Say good-bye to your friend," it hissed.
"Bastard!" shouted Kaz.
The shadow turned around and stalked up to Kaz, its body moving strangely.
Kaz remembered what Claudi and Tony had said about the shadow, about it being human. There was nothing Kaz needed to be afraid of. This shadow was just a man in a latex suit.
"You have a big mouth on you," the shadow said.
"And you sure have a lot of balls, but that's just from playing dress up," Kaz snarled back. "I know who you are. Underneath that mask, you're just an insecure, little man who is afraid of losing control."
The shadow pulled out the straight razor and cut Kaz across the cheek. Kaz looked into his red eyes with contempt.
"Just one thing: why are you doing this?" Kaz asked.
"Because they said," replied the shadow.
"You mean the voices? I know you're nuts," Kaz said.
The shadow raised the razor again, but didn't slash. Instead he turned around and walked back to where Tony was. "They were the ones who taught me this," the shadow said. "How to hypnotize, bend the will of anyone to my will."
So these two really were Intress and Najarin! Now all Kaz had to do was snap them out of their trances and they could stop this creep together. But how?
The shadow placed the lid on Tony's box and laid the nails where he wanted to seal it.
"Intress, snap out of it!" cried Kaz. "You're stronger than this!"
"They can't hear you," snickered the shadow.
"Najarin!" Kaz shouted, but the old muge didn't respond. "Oh, God!"
Kaz continued to struggle. Intress's grip threatened to break his ribs. Kaz did the only thing he could think of. He bent his head down and bit Intress as hard as he could.
Intress screamed in pain, dropping Kaz. At the same time, Tony's coffin lid flew open, striking the shadow. Tony leaped out and tackled the shadow. The shadow tried to slip away, but Tony had a better hold on him than Kaz did.
"You're not the only contortionist here," Tony said with a vicious smile.
"Intress, Najarin, restrain them!" shouted the shadow.
Najarin was quick to respond to the order, trying to catch Kaz, who was diving for the shovel. Najarin caught Kaz's ankle. Kaz whipped around, shovel in hand, and struck Najarin across the side of the head.
"Sorry!" Kaz cried as Najarin fell senseless.
"Intress, stop them!" the shadow screeched.
Intress shook her head, walked over to the shadow and Tony and pulled them apart. She looked at Tony and then to the shadow. The shadow noticed something different about her. Intress smiled and she threw him into the coffin made for Tony. Tony grabbed a few nails and began hammering them into the coffin.
"Kaz, help me dig!" Intress commanded, kneeling where Claudi was buried.
The two of them, and then Tony, quickly began digging up Claudi. They heard pounding and screaming inside of the box. Intress ripped the lid off the box, an easy feat for a Creature. Claudi jumped up, tears running down her face, smearing her makeup.
"It's okay," Tony said, catching his girlfriend. He held her and gently rocked her. "It's okay. It's over."
Claudi continued to cry.
They heard a groan and turned to see Najarin sit up and rub the side of his head. Kaz felt really bad for having to hit the old muge.
"Are you going to okay, Najarin?" Kaz asked.
Najarin turned to him, the sternness returning to his eyes although they were a little unfocused.
"I will be all right," Najarin said, getting to his feet and staggering.
"Sorry for having to hit you," said Kaz, taking Najarin by the arm to steady him. "I didn't know what else to do."
"I thank you for hitting me, Kaz," said Najarin. "There is no reason to be sorry for it. It is very scary thing being trapped inside your body and not being able to stop yourself from harming your friends."
Intress nodded. "You have very strong jaws, Kaz," she said, looking at her arm.
"Can we go home now?" quivered Claudi.
"Sure," said Tony. "Let's just call the Codemasters and tell them we caught the guy." Tony got up to retrieve their scanners.
"Are you okay, Claudi?" asked Kaz.
Claudi wiped her smudge makeup. "I'm going to have to go on a bender to get my sanity back," she said with a nervous laugh.
They all turned to see Tony staring at the coffin. The lid was laying off to the side and there was no sign of the shadow.
"You got to be fricking kidding!" Tony said.
"Oh, smeg," cursed Claudi.
Kaz was white as a sheet.
"Don't worry, I'll find him," said Intress.
"No," Najarin told her. "We take care of ourselves first. Come, you three."
Kaz, Claudi, and Tony stood next to Najarin and Intress. Najarin raised his hands and blue light engulfed them. Soon, they were standing in Najarin's castle.
Deep in the Labyrinth of Lyssk, the shadow was conversing with the voices in his head.
"Leave them be," one voice said.
"Why?" asked the shadow. "I can get them again. I can finish this."
"It's not worth the risk of being captured," said a second voice.
"Time to move on," a third said.
"Yes," agreed the shadow. "Time for new victims."
It was three days after Kaz and his two new friends had almost been buried alive. No one said anything to anyone, being sworn to secrecy by the Codemasters. The Codemasters were investigating everyone in Chaotic, searching for signs that the shadow surfaced.
Kaz was sitting at the gang's usual table by himself with his drink, chewing on the straw. Tom was in Perim and Sarah and Peyton had matches. Kaz couldn't stop thinking about what happened three days ago. He wondered if Claudi and Tony were okay. He had only talked to Claudi once after the incident. She was the one who came up with the shadow's name: Maere, the Old English word for an incubus and where the Current English word for "nightmare" stemmed from. After all, their encounter with Maere was enough to give them nightmares for a very long time.
Kaz's scanner rang.
"Hey, Kaz." It was Tony.
"Hey, Tony, how are you?" Kaz asked.
"I'm okay," said Tony. "I can't say the same for Claudi."
"What's wrong with Claudi?"
"Tony!" Claudi yelled off screen.
Tony made a face. "Claudi's been on a bender for the past two days. Hold on, love! I'm coming! I'm trying to get her sober so she can go to Perim."
"How's that working out for you?"
"Tony! Come on, one more," slurred Claudi.
"Not so well," replied Tony. "I have to go. I'll see you later."
Kaz sighed. At least Claudi found a way to cope although Kaz wouldn't have chosen a drinking binge. He decided to call Tom. They hadn't seen much of each other for a few days. Kaz knew he had Tom worried. Every time they saw each other, Kaz would put his head down. He couldn't look at Tom. Kaz knew that Tom knew he was keeping a secret from him.
Kaz called Tom's scanner.
Kaz frowned. Tom would have answered when he saw it was Kaz who was calling. He tried again.
Still no answer.
"Maybe Sarah knows where he is," Kaz said.
He called Sarah.
"That's strange," said Kaz. "Why would they both not answer."
Kaz tried Peyton.
Kaz began to think that something bad had happened to them. Maybe something did! Maere was still out there and who knew what he was planning next.
Kaz called Tony.
"Hey, Kaz, forget something?" Tony asked.
"No, but I think Maere's back again," said Kaz. He quickly told Tony what happened.
"You think Maere went after your friends?" asked Tony. "Ah, hell. Things keep getting better and better."
"How soon can you get to Perim?"
Tony shrugged. "With Claudi the way she is, we can't get there until tomorrow."
"They may not have until tomorrow!" cried Kaz.
"I know that! But that's the best I can do," said Tony. "I'm sorry, Kaz."
"You're doing the best you can," said Kaz. He hung up. "You may not be able to get to Perim, but I sure can."
Kaz hurried to the transport disks and transported to Perim. His first thought was to check the OverWorld arsenal to see if Bodal was working Tom like a dog and was not able to answer his scanner.
"Hey, Bodal!" called Kaz.
Bodal walked out of his office. "Yes?" he asked in his nasally voice. "If you're here for scans, you are out of luck."
"Is Tom here?" asked Kaz.
"No," said Bodal. "It figures. I'm very busy and he's not here to help."
"Was he here at all today?" asked Kaz.
"No," replied Bodal.
Kaz ran out of the arsenal. "Maybe Maxxor knows something," he muttered to himself, running to the castle.
Kaz did not have to go far to find Maxxor. Maxxor was on his way to the arsenal and Kaz almost ran into the OverWorld leader as he rounded a corner.
"Whoa!" Maxxor held Kaz by the shoulders. "Easy, Kaz," chuckled the leader of the OverWorld. "You act as if you saw a ghost."
"It would be better than what I think I'm facing," muttered Kaz. "Have you seen Tom today?"
"No," replied Maxxor.
"Is Intress around?" asked Kaz.
Maxxor frowned. Kaz was rattled by something. "Yes. Kaz, what is it?"
"Where's Intress?" Kaz asked, almost demanding in his tone.
"At the Mugic Academy," replied Maxxor. "Kaz, what is going on?"
Kaz whipped himself out of Maxxor's grip and sprinted toward the Mugic Academy. As he ran, he tried calling his friends again. No answer from any of them. By the time he finished calling them all a second time, he reached the academy. He blew by the Creature attending the door and almost ran into a young muge. He found Intress speaking to another Creature. Without thinking, he grabbed her arm.
"He's back," he panted.
"Who?" asked Intress.
Kaz saw that Intress' arm was bandaged. "The one who made me give you that," he answered, looking at the injury. "I think he's got Tom, Peyton, and Sarah."
Intress stopped what she was doing, took Kaz by the arm, and started leading him out of the backdoor of the academy.
"What?" she asked.
"I've been trying to contact the three of them all day," said Kaz. "I haven't seen Peyton or Sarah after their matches and Tom's been in Perim for most of the day."
"How do you know it's this human?" asked Intress.
"Call it intuition," said Kaz. "I've had a bad feeling since I couldn't contact Tom. I keep trying, but nothing."
"What about Claudi and Tony?" asked Intress.
"They're fine," said Kaz. "Tony's helping Claudi sober up. She's a mess."
Intress put her hands on Kaz's shoulders. "Listen to me. Keep trying to call Tom and the others. Go to Najarin's castle. Tell him what you told me."
"Okay," said Kaz, nodding.
"Go," said Intress, giving Kaz a small push.
Kaz 'ported to Lake Ken-i-po. He wasn't even at the door to the castle when Najarin called him up to the tower.
"I had a feeling you would be visiting me soon," said Najarin.
"Tom and —" started Kaz.
"I am aware," Najarin said with a sigh. "Where are Tony and Claudi?"
"Home," replied Kaz.
"Call them," said Najarin. "Tell them to come here."
"I'm not sure that's such a good idea," Kaz said slowly. "Claudi's not well. But I'll see if Tony can come."
Kaz called Tony.
"Not the best time, Kaz," said Tony.
There was the awful sound of retching. Tony made a face.
"I can guess," said Kaz. "Najarin wants us at his place. Can you make it?"
"We both can," came a moan.
"Not a good idea for you, Claudi," said Tony.
"I can do it," said Claudi.
"Okay," said Tony. "Give us a few minutes. We'll be there as soon as we can."
Kaz clicked off his scanner.
Najarin beckoned Kaz to follow him. He followed the old muge into another room where Najarin began to mix ingredients into a goblet. Kaz busied himself trying to contact his missing friends.
Soon Tony and Claudi arrived. Claudi was a complete mess. Tony helped her to sit in a chair.
Najarin brought the goblet to her. "Drink this," he said gently. "It will help."
Claudi looked up at Najarin and took the goblet, sipping at its contents. Najarin put his hand on her brow, then turned away.
"She will be fine," he told Tony.
Kaz was finally got an answer from Tom, but relief was quickly turned to terror. "Maere," he whispered.
Just as quickly as the image of the black face and red eyes appeared, it disappeared.
Kaz looked at the others. "He's got them."
"You're sure?" asked Tony.
"Ah, smeg," cursed Claudi, paling more than she was. Her hand flew to her mouth before she swallowed hard. "Oh, bugger."
Najarin encouraged her to drink more from the goblet, insisting it would make her feel better. Claudi took a few more sips while Tony rubbed her back to keep her calm.
"So what are we going to do?" asked Claudi.
"You," Najarin said, looking at Claudi, "are going to finish the rest of your drink and have a short nap. Kaz, Tony, I will need some assistance."
Claudi drained the goblet and stretched out on a couch. After she was asleep, Tony joined Kaz and Najarin in another room.
"Out like a light," said Tony. "Haven't seen her fall asleep that fast in a while. What'd you give her, Najarin?"
"Just something to rid her of her hangover," said Najarin. "A little sleep and she will be fine."
While Claudi slept, the others pooled all of the information about Maere together for a plan of attack. The biggest question was his location.
"Somewhere in the UnderWorld, most likely," said Kaz. "It suits him."
"Do you think he hypnotized someone else?" asked Tony.
"Wouldn't surprise me," said Kaz.
"Can you think of anyone acting strangely?" asked Najarin.
Kaz thought for a moment. "Chaor," he replied. "He actually apologized to me when I was cut up. Something hasn't been sitting right with me."
"Wanna check things out there?" asked Tony. "It'll give us something to do until Claudi wakes up."
They turned to Najarin. The muge nodded. "Go on," he said. "Claudi can help me when she wakes."
Tony and Kaz 'ported to Chaor's castle. Kaz led the way, showing Tony the secret passageways.
"This is too cool," whispered Tony.
"Be quiet," Kaz hissed. "I don't want Spyder finding out we're here."
Tony fell silent and followed Kaz.
They exited out of the passageway.
"Where are we?" whispered Tony.
"Weapons chamber," replied Kaz. "One of them, anyway."
They kept going until Tony whispered again.
"I know this place," he said. "This is where you were attacked."
"Yeah," said Kaz, remembering what Maere did to him. "Thanks for reminding me."
Tony stopped and tapped Kaz's shoulder. "I had a thought. Do you think Maere would risk taking someone to a crowded place?"
"That would be crazy," said Kaz. Tony gave him a look. "Maere is crazy. What did you have in mind?"
"If I were a twisted dude like Maere is, I would do the craziest things," said Tony. "Taking my victims to a crowded city and hiding them somewhere where no one would think to look is one of them. You said Chaor was acting a little weird, right?"
"Yeah," said Kaz. He became frantic. "You think Maere has Chaor under his control?"
"It's a possibility," said Tony.
"Yikes! This could be more dangerous than we thought," said Kaz.
"Let's just observe for the time being," said Tony. He ran a hand through his brown hair. "Let's hope things go smoothly and Claudi tells us some good news when she wakes up."
"And in thinking with your twisted thought, let's check the dungeons," said Kaz. He winced. "I don't like the idea, but I'll show you down there. One of the creepiest spots in the UnderWorld."
"And that's saying something," muttered Tony.
Kaz and Tony went down to the dungeons. Before they were anywhere near them they could hear screams and yells of pain and terror. They exchanged looks. Neither of them wanted to be there. One scream in particular got Kaz's attention.
"Sarah," he whispered, horrified by the sound of his friend's voice. He never heard her scream like that, not once.
Kaz started forward, but Tony grabbed him by the arm. "No!" he hissed. "That's just what he wants. He wants us to walk into a trap. Sarah's the bait."
"I can't just stand here and do nothing," said Kaz.
"I'm not saying do nothing," said Tony. "I'm saying think this through. Let's check things out."
They continued to the dungeons. It hurt Kaz to hear his friend screaming like that, but there was nothing he could do. Not at the moment there wasn't.
Kaz carefully pushed open the secret door just a crack so they could see. It was hot, the burning air rushing over them immediately. There was the smell of burning and hot metal. Kaz saw Sarah sitting on the floor out in the open. Her arms were bound to her sides with chain and she was covered in cuts. There was quite a bit of blood on her skin and clothes.
Tony whispered in Kaz's ear, "The wounds are deep. They stopped bleeding already."
Kaz let out a sigh of relief. But where were Tom and Peyton? Kaz scanned the room and saw only one cell locked up.
"Well," hissed a voice. "What do we have here?"
Tony and Kaz whirled around to come face to face with Spyder. Spyder pounced and sent both players into the dungeons. Sarah let out a cry of alarm as the boys were thrown into a cell of their own. Spyder took their scanners and set them with three others on a table and locked them in.
"Two more insects in my web," said Spyder. "Lord Chaor will be most pleased." With that, Spyder went back into the passageway.
"Kaz, what are you doing here?" asked Sarah, wincing.
"Helping you," said Kaz.
"This is helping?" asked Sarah, looking at their situation. She turned to Tony. "Who're you?"
"The name's Tony," he replied.
"Tony," repeated Sarah. She looked over at a peg on the wall. There was a key hanging from it. "I can try to get the key to get you out."
"It's okay," said Tony. "I can get it."
Tony approached the bars of the cell and carefully stuck one leg between the bars. With a little wriggling he was through. He got the key and let Kaz out. Kaz hurried to help Sarah.
"Where are Tom and Peyton?" he asked.
Sarah pointed to the other locked cell. Tony took the key over there and unlocked it. Tom and Peyton were curled up on the floor. Both had cuts from a straight razor on their arms.
"Hey," said Tony, shaking them. "Wake up! We gotta go!"
Tom stirred and opened his eyes. "Wha? Who are you?"
"No time," said Tony. "Come on. We gotta get your scanners and get out of here before they come back."
Peyton moaned. Tony got Tom to his feet and they went back to Peyton.
"The shadow," whispered Peyton.
"Maere," said Tony. "We know."
The three of them walked out of the cell. Kaz was still trying to get Sarah's chains off. He looked over at them.
"I don't think she can walk," he said somberly.
Tony looked at Sarah's feet and saw that they were cut up. "Sadistic son of a bitch," he muttered.
There were heavy footsteps outside. All five of them fell silent before Kaz and Tony frantically attempted to free Sarah. The chains fell away just as the door opened. Chaor's massive form filled the doorway. He looked at the five of them, took one step into the dungeons, and stepped aside. Maere stood behind the leader of the UnderWorld.
"You are cunning," Maere said in his reptilian voice. "I did not expect you to be here so soon. Oh, well. Chaor, kill them."
"Chaor, no!" shouted Kaz.
Chaor paid no mind to Kaz. A fight ensued. Tony went for Maere and the others desperately kept out of reach of Chaor and his attacks. Kaz managed to get Sarah free before things got out of hand and she was able to run.
"Get your scanners!" shouted Kaz to the others.
Kaz scrambled, following his own advice, and tripped. He looked up and saw Chaor looming above him. The Creature had his fists raised, prepared to bring them both down on Kaz's small form.
"Kaz!" yelled Tom.
"Hey, Chaor!" shouted an enraged female voice.
A shot from cyclance was fired and Chaor grunted in pain, his voice a bit higher than it should have been. He doubled over, clutching himself.
Kaz hurried to reach his scanner as did the others. Instead of 'porting out, he called the Codemasters.
Tony was still wrestling with Maere. Soon the others were joining in as well. There were shouts and curses coming from just about everyone who was in the fight. Tony finally got Maere on the ropes and pulled out a small roll of electrical tape. He bound Maere's hands and feet behind his back.
"Glad I brought that with me. Now let's see who you really are!" Tony snarled, ripping off the mask.
Maere's real face was nothing special except for the color contacts in his eyes. He looked like a regular person. It was disconcerting for all of them.
A streak of black and red came out of nowhere and kicked Maere in the stomach.
"God, that felt good!" shouted Claudi, cyclance still in her hands.
There was a groan. Kaz turned to see his favorite Creature curled up in a ball. He then turned to Claudi.
"You shot him in the groin?" he asked, shocked.
"Well, I didn't know where else to hit him," defended Claudi. "I remember what you said about having to bite Intress and whack Najarin upside the head to snap them out of his hypnotism. The only place I could think to cause any pain to Chaor was in the ballocks. You're welcome."
"I thought you were going to call," said Tony.
"Well, I was, then Najarin told me you were in trouble so I came straight here," said Claudi. "I didn't think you could get into so much trouble while I was sleeping."
It was at that moment the Codemasters came and took Maere away. Crellan stayed behind to check on Kaz and the others.
"We'll be okay," said Claudi.
Crellan nodded. "So you know, if you need to talk about this with someone."
Tony put his hand up. "We all have someone to talk to about this," he said.
Crellan nodded and left.
"Kaz," came Chaor's rumbling voice. They turned to see him on his feet. "Care to explain what happened?"
Claudi gave a nervous laugh. "Sorry, Chaor."
Chaor narrowed his eyes at her.
"I'm going to go," said Claudi, putting the cyclance down and 'porting out.
"Same with us," said Sarah.
Peyton, Sarah, and Tom left.
"Well, hate to bail on you," said Tony.
"Tony!" called Kaz, but Tony had already 'ported out. Kaz huffed. "Guess I'm the one who has to fill in the blanks to you, Chaor."
It was later that day that the six of them sat together in the Port Court. None of them said anything to each other or watched the large screens that were broadcasting various matches.
"He was so normal," said Sarah. She had 'ported home and came back so she was all healed up now. Peyton and Tom had done the same. "We trusted him."
"At first glance, we didn't see anything wrong," Peyton added, sounding deflated.
"Guess it goes to show that Creatures aren't the only ones we must be wary of," said Tony.
They all nodded in agreement.
"So what now?" asked Tom, looking at them.
"I think Claudi and I are going to stay on Earth for a while," said Tony, putting a hand on his girlfriend's shoulder.
Claudi nodded. "I'm not ready to go through something like that again."
"I'm going to go see H'earring," said Kaz.
"Guess I'll check in at the Mipedim Oasis," said Peyton.
"I'll come with you, Peyton," said Sarah.
"Then I'll go to Kiru City to let Intress know I'm okay," said Tom.
"Tell her Tony and I said hi," Claudi said, getting up. "Cheerio."
Tony and Claudi left.
The others got up and went their separate ways, each with an unsubtle of who they could trust.
Let me know what you think. This was one of my first fan fictions and I only came up with an ending three days ago, after nine months of not doing anything with it. Review!