Here's chapter number 21, and... wow! This took a lot of patience and time. Anyway, enjoy!
Private's cheek stung as a drop of cave water plopped gently into his half-clotted gash, the clear liquid seeping slowly into the wound. The cadet let out an inaudible yelp, his flipper twitching at his sides in a resistant urge to not show any signs of pain or weakness. The rope tied around him chafed his bruised sides like sandpaper to wood as Alpha roughly pushed the poor penguin into the ancient cave. He winced slightly at the pain burning in his muscles, its entanglement of discomfort throbbing mercilessly through his veins and overwhelming his nervous system.
At first, it was somewhat unbelievable to the trainee that the very Doberman that had provided him and his friends shelter, food and hospitality unlike anything else; could suddenly turn. Personally, the youth felt responsible for his relinquished friend's sudden change.
If he hadn't gone and taken that infernal bracelet in the first place, none of this would have ever happened.
Private inwardly sighed; allowing a tear to escape his soft, baby blue eyes and fall upon the hard ground as he slowly cast his tired gaze into the moist den. The recognizable smell of dampness and fungi hit his nose, its strong scent snapping him out of his dazed and battered state.
Alpha waited impatiently behind him, his face contorted into a threatening glare at the small avian before him. The dog raised a paw, and once again shoved the black and white bird further into the dimness of the stone grotto, his hostile growl bouncing of the cavern's rough, moist walls.
"Come on then!" he barked, jerking his snout towards the mysterious black box that stood at the end of the den (which wasn't very far), "Hurry up and open the tomb!" the vicious canine grew silent as a loud rumble boomed through the cave for a brief yet terrifying moment. Private trembled slightly at the tone of harshness ringing from Alpha's voice, "B-but the volcano's going to explode!" he stammered, casting a flipper out towards the image of the smoking volcano that reflected in the waterfall's spray that flowed rapidly at the entrance. The canine ignored the flight-deprived bird's pitiful cries, "Now!" he yapped.
Private's eyes widened, "Oh dear…" he whispered anxiously to himself, unaware of the snarling Doberman behind him. "Go!" he once again yowled, the hairs at the back of his neck bristling with vexation.
The youngster reluctantly obeyed, taking several paces forward and placing his flippers gently upon the sturdy plank that was pushed through the golden latch staples. Bright rays of white, blinding light shot out of the sarcophagus' sides, the ancient carvings etched on its door gleaming a blood red as the little tuxedo bird pushed the sturdy and heavy wooden stave away, steadily unlocking the mysterious coffin that towered over him and Alpha.
The bar of solid timber was almost out of the clasps, its rough surface scraping the insides of the fasteners. The dog standing several feet behind Private let out a gleeful somewhat psychotic laugh, throwing his head back as he did so. "Finally! After all this time… all my research!" he proclaimed, his gaze fixed upon the strange object before him. "Victory is mi-" the black canine was cut off by a familiar sounding voice that suddenly reverberated from the mouth of the cave, the noise bouncing randomly off its rounded walls.
Private immediately withdrew the strength from his muscles at the sound of his name, glancing briefly behind his back towards an angry looking Doberman. "Did you hear that?" asked the chubby Brit, his flipper's slipping slowly of the wooden crosspiece that held the sarcophagus shut, causing the shafts of light beaming out of the ancient coffin's sides' to cease their radiance. "What are you doing?" exclaimed Alpha furiously, lowering his head and pushing closer towards the cadet's face. The raging flames of his anger burning brightly within his amber coloured eyes. "Hurry up and open it!" he ordered, brutally shoving his paw into little penguin's chest.
The Doberman was suddenly kicked to the side, away from the youngster- by none other than his commanding officer. The sleek haired dog was then knocked unconscious, his head hitting forcefully against the stone enclosure.
"Skipper!" Private gratefully exclaimed, his battered and tired face brightening at the sight of the flathead, his beak widening into a wide smile.
Skipper grinned back as he reached out to pat his student quickly on the back, "No problem young Private." he replied. The captain paused for a moment, clutching his head yet again as the drowsiness and pain entered his nervous system and pumped quickly through his brain. The trainee gasped, "Sir! Are you alright?" he asked worriedly.
Skipper didn't respond, but instead doubled over slightly as he placed his other flipper on the other side of his head, clutching it tighter. Private frowned, watching his leader helplessly grapple with the strange, agonizing, and drowsy discomfort.
Angelique and Kowalski quickly slid up followed swiftly by the badger twins. "Skipper what's wrong? Is there so-" asked the female penguin, her eyebrows arched with concern. The captain raised a flipper, interrupting the violet eyed penguin, "I'm fine, miss Angelique." he snapped, jerking his head up to face said avian with his signature scowl. The female scientist sighed, "but sir you're suffering…" she replied, annoying the commander immensely.
Kowalski could sense a senseless fight coming on between the two, and decided to interject. "Sir. I hate to barge in but Alpha's coming to," he warned, pointing towards the canine, who was beginning to stir and slowly wake up. Skipper narrowed his eyes at the dog, then without taking his eyes off him, silently leaned over to Stacy and tapped her gently on the shoulder; thus gaining her attention.
"Red head," he whispered quickly, "Get the others. We may need backup."
The badger nodded, and quickly scampered off on all fours to recruit the others, and she left just in time too.
Alpha was starting to get up.
The Doberman shook his head vigorously, his breaths coming out in strained gasps as his blurry vision focused on the animals surrounding him, all of them posed in a rigid fighting stance. "Might as well spill pup. It's the end of the line." declared Skipper, smug superiority dripping from his voice, accompanied by his complacent grin.
All of a sudden, much to their surprise and shock, Alpha started to laugh. It began with a low chuckle, then gradually increased to a sadistic, demented laugh. A disturbing smile was stretched across his snout, his eyes sparkling with instability through the feeble light. "Oh you ignoramus saps…" he spat out between the last of his twisted laugh, "Did you really think I would do this without having a back up plan first?"
Kowalski knitted his non-existent brow in confusion, "What plan? You never knew of this cave until as recently as yesterday afternoon! I-it's scientifically impossible to come up with anything during that period of time- we were with you the whole way." he objected, still maintaining his stance as he glared at the mutt that had proven himself mad. Alpha held his ground, not even flinching the slightest while the egghead spoke.
"You're both right and wrong Kowalski." Alpha began, shifting slightly into a sitting position. "I couldn't have possibly concocted my scheme overnight." the rest of the group mimicked Kowalski's puzzled expression. "So I did it before I slept. It was ridiculously simple. I knew about the volcano from the start, since I always get up at dawn to restock." explained the Doberman dryly, pausing for a moment to a swipe his tongue over his nose. "To bottom-line this- you zoo animals are so predictable. So really I just had put two and two together; which isn't that hard."
Skipper growled, "Cut to the chase!" he ordered, narrowing his eyes at Alpha who sat casually against the wall of the cave. The dog continued, "My first step was to take out the big guns. Which meant slipping sleeping herbs mixed with a Jin-seng muscle relaxant into your breakfast. Not to mention a touch of poison." Alpha pointed towards the captain, grinning from ear to ear.
Skipper's eyes widened, "You did what!" he exclaimed, advancing the deranged canine and clutching him by the chest, suspending him slightly as he did so.
Alpha didn't flinch, and held his gaze steadily, "You heard me," he hissed, "I already knew of your regarding distrust and took you out first."
The captain let go of the dog, his eyes widening with shock.
"Speaking of which, I believe my concoction should take full effect in around ten to seventeen minutes. That gives you plenty of time to stop the army and leave the island before the volcano explodes."
Alpha's jeers were definitely provoking and nonsensical-sounding, but unmistakably true. Becky knitted her brow, "Army?" she inquired, turning towards Kowalski, who ignored the badger and brushed the comment aside. "Don't be so smug, there isn't even an army here." he scoffed, pausing for a moment as he swiveled his head to his left to face Skipper. "And his handiwork does explain your condition".
The captain blinked, masking the fear gleaming in his topaz blue eyes before glowering menacingly at the canine sitting coolly in front of him. The mutt gave off yet another hearty, crazed chuckle. "Didn't see that one coming. Did you?" he asked, cocking a brow as he flashed a toothy smile at the flat head.
"You're under our roof now, bowwow. So I strongly advice you to shut it." Skipper commanded, thrusting a clenched flipper threateningly in front of Alpha's face. "My iron constitution doesn't allow for things like these to affect my health condition." he argued.
"That aside," Angelique began, "What are you up to? And why did you kidnap Private?" she interrogated, changing her fighting stance as she glared at Alpha ominously.
The dog gave the she-penguin a glower of his own before responding. "Smart girl. Wanting to get to the point. " he idly remarked, twitching his ears in the girl's direction as he threw the lieutenant to his right a mischievous smirk.
"Anyway, you're chubby little friend here was the only one that could open the sarcophagus and free my people." elucidated Alpha. He paused for a moment, eyeing the stares of confusion combined with anger that followed. "What in the world are you talking about?" derided Kowalski, jerking his flippers to his sides in a gesture of disbelief, "You're but a mere Doberman! There's lots of your kind spread out across the world. Surely you know this."
Alpha shook his head as he pushed up from his haunches and into a standing position, "Ah… now that is where you're wrong. I am not an ordinary Doberman; but a Doberman warrior. A descendant of a proud race that once ruled this island; until we were banished to our prison by our gods." he lifted a paw and motioned towards the black coffin close by them, "I'm the only descendant of my ancient race, and I have had intentions of setting them free for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately that couldn't have happened any sooner unless Private was the one who did it."
Private narrowed his baby blues at Alpha, "Me? Why couldn't you have done it yourself?" he asked, his voice high pitched and furious. The canine rolled his eyes, "Don't you think I would have done that years ago if I could?" he snapped. The cadet cocked his head in surprise, "Well… if you couldn't do it yourself; why did it have to be me?"
Alpha cleared his throat before replying, "According to prophecy, only the purest, and cleanest of souls are able to open the prison. During your stay here with me, I've been able to monitor you closely, and observe your actions." he turned his head slowly as he glared at each of the animals that surrounded him, their faces contorted into their own hostile scowls of vigilance.
The Doberman faced Private once more, "Soon, I could see that you were the one. The key that could finally complete my task, but all of you had to interfere!" he angrily spat, the recognizable flame of pure loathe and hatred burning ferociously in his amber coloured eyes; the same fire that ignited when he and the elite strike force animals first stumbled upon each other.
Alpha let out a strained, slightly frustrated chuckle, madness creeping along the edges of his deep baritone voice. "This was the only reason why I came to this island!"
Angelique widened her eyes in horror, "So you didn't crash land by accident?" she asked icily, pointing an accusing flipper at the unstable dog. He nodded in response, "Got that right. I made my owner crash land the cargo plane." he chuckled.
The female standing before him gaped in disgust, lowering her flippers and shifting out of her fighting stance as she clenched her flippers angrily. "You insane monster…" she hissed, her voice shaking with silent rage. "You murdered your own owner…" Angelique could already fill the tears of bitter outrage well up in the corner of her eyes, "the one that raised you, cared for you- loved you… and without a single hint of regret. How do you live with yourself? Knowing that you were the one responsible for a loved one's death…"
The scientist paused, giving a quiet sniff as she wiped away the tears running down her cheeks, "I still grieve for my father, who was murdered out of unjust causes when I was only a child…. and you- You sit back like the sick person you are and not undergo even the slightest tinge of remorse… How twisted are you?" she whispered the last part silently, glowering even darkly at the deranged dog.
"Twisted enough to see you're too late." he quipped, "It looks like Private actually did open the tomb enough."
The animals whipped around towards the now violently trembling sarcophagus, collectively gasping as they helplessly watched the coffin doors fling open, the sturdy latch holding them shut snapping swiftly in half like a toothpick.
A mystic smoke of some sort flowed out of the ancient relic, followed quickly by numerous shadowy figures silhouetted faintly against its cryptic physique. Alpha smiled as he pushed past the barrier of still gawking animal commandos, positioning himself before the great army of undead Dobermans lead by the largest one coated in golden plating, that exited through the once locked entrance of the historic sarcophagus.
"Welcome Lord Adofo. Your presence in this world has been dearly missed." he quickly spluttered, dropping down to a respectful kneel, his forehead rested gently against the cave's moist ground.
The apparent Doberman king that had stepped forward and towered tremendously over Alpha nodded his head in acknowledgment. "Thank you brother." he replied, his blood red eyes shining with nobility and gratitude.
The canine soldiers of the undead marched towards their leaders side, armor blinking faintly in the dim light, their golden and bronze colours bouncing lightly off the cave's rounded walls.
"Team! Containment mode! Go!" quickly ordered Skipper. The others rapidly responded to their superior's demands, and leapt in front of the army.
Lord Adofo scowled threateningly at Alpha, dipping his head downwards so that he could face him. "Who are these meddling creatures?" asked the undead ruler, a growl rumbling at the pit of his chest.
Alpha's ears drooped with fear, "They are but insignificant mortals, attempting to bar the way in a so called selfless strive to protect the feeble and defenseless." he responded, trying his best to sound confident.
The sovereign jerked his gaze towards the few animals that blocked the path, "Insignificant indeed." he replied, tensing his muscles as he shifted into a stance. His followers quickly followed, including Alpha, their fur bristling with malice.
The warrior dogs responded with a battle cry, charging towards the commandos, their armor clinking noisily as they rushed forward. Skipper didn't need to say anything- the zoosters had already bounded independently into battle.
The two sides met with a loud battle cry, the Doberman warriors filling the gaps found in the elite strike force's defense line.
Skipper brought his flipper down on a Doberman's head, then flung his foot into its gut, sending it flying backwards and crashing into a largely occupied area of the cave. The captain smiled in satisfaction, but was unaware of the two other undead canine warriors closing in on his left and right flank. The two mutts crouched low as they crept silently up on the lead penguin, their snouts wrinkled into a hostile scowl.
Once the flat head's surroundings were clear, the stalking dogs instantaneously hurled themselves at the penguin. Unfortunately for them, the commander had sensed their presence seconds ago. So just before either of them could make contact with Skipper, he jumped into the air and landed a safe distance away from the crashing canines. The avian chuckled silently before rushing back into the frenzy of the struggle, leaving his fallen attackers to lay motionless on the battlefield.
Private however, was not doing as well as his teacher was in the fight.
At the moment, the youngster was surrounded by around six of the Doberman warriors. He yelped as one of them attempted to snap his leg, but luckily he jerked back before its jaws could clamp shut on his webbed foot. The halo that separated the cadet from the canines was almost gone; he whimpered helplessly, using his flippers to protect himself from the incoming attack.
Suddenly, Becky appeared out of nowhere, leaping into the centre of the rapidly closing circle and posed into a defensive stance- she had come to the rescue.
Unsheathing her claws, the blonde furred badger lashed out at the closest dog, creating a long gash across its face as she did so. Another one sprung out her, but she swiftly gave a hard scissors kick to its abdomen and sent it hurdling towards a bunched up group of Dobermans nearby, knocking them over like bowling pins.
A third one swiped a paw out at the blondie, but she skillfully caught the incoming appendage, using it to hurl its owner away from the penguin behind her. The other three that were left cowered away in fear; then hightailed away from the angry mustelidae in retreat.
Private breathed a sigh of gratitude, throwing Becky a small smile as a quick 'thank you'. She nodded in response, before departing from the small empty area with the penguin, and towards several enemies that had been recruited by the ones that fled earlier.
Meanwhile, Angelique and Kowalski were doing just fine. The two of them worked harmoniously together like a well-oiled machine. Several of the dog warriors were charging towards them; but Angelique and her partner were ready.
"Fix and Flip maneuver, go!" shouted Kowalski over the various sounds of battle. His female companion nodded, and the two quickly joined flippers.
Holding on all the while, Kowalski threw the female avian over his head and she landed forcefully atop a nearby mongrel opponent, knocking it out cold. Once the she-scientist regained her footing, she repeated Kowalski's first motion- throwing him up over her head, and allowing him to come down on top of a nearby attacker with a mighty blow.
Skillfully they repeated this process, quickly taking down a considerable amount of enemies only within a few seconds.
To be honest, Alpha really was getting rather nervous.
Despite their lack in numbers, the commandos seemed to be holding up just fine. For every moment the Dobermans had managed to land a blow on one of them, the animal stowaways defeated three more. The battle against the off-drift zoosters seemed to be one of loss, and the time leading to the volcano's eruption was not slowing down for them anytime soon.
All hope seemed lost for his tribe, until he noticed the army steadily begin to enclose around the elite team of fighters, the canines of the undead impelling them towards a nearby wall. Their backs were now firmly pressed up against the cold, hard stonewall of the den.
Alpha grinned as he watched his fellows pad closer towards the commandos, growling ferociously all the while.
Angelique shut her eyes tightly and pressed the side of her face against the rock behind her, the tips of her flippers itching with fear. Kowalski stood rigid beside her, his face forced into an angry and confident glare; which was the complete opposite of what his current feelings were. The others were just as worried as Angelique, but decided not to show it and instead attempted to remain strong.
When the Dobermans were but a hair's breadth away from finishing off the zoosters, a loud yowl sounded through the cave; the source being Sienna, and the rest of the team. Alexander, who was running on all fours, bounded ahead and began to shout his commands. "Rico, Sienna, Marlene- you guy's are with me on the left wing! Becky, Julien and Iris, right!" he yelled, "Let's move!"
Iris took off, leading her assigned group en route to the militia's right side, "Roger that!" she hastily replied, before swooping down in towards a Doberman soldier and raking her talons powerfully against its side. Her party of fighters followed suit, loud battle cries escaping from their mouths. Despite his incredibly stubborn, conceited, narcissistic nature, Julien had finally managed to come to realize the severe circumstances of their situation and had decided to help- loving it and hating at the same time.
The self-proclaimed lemur king leapt into the air, bouncing vigorously across the sea of doggy heads, and knocking them out cold. Sienna, Alexander and Stacy were just doing their usual thing; slicing and dicing any enemy that got in their way. Marlene's fighting style was more of the 'confuse and manipulate' sort, expertly directing the Doberman's into attacking each other accidentally. Lastly, Rico was just doing what he was best at, going nuts.
On the sidelines, thanks to the others, Skipper and his group had been able to cope on their own, eventually getting back into the game.
"Skipper!" Private cried over the shouts and exclamations of the battle, his flippers cupped over his beak. "The tomb!" He pointed at the sarcophagus that was about a meter away from him, signaling towards the broken, wooden latch bar, "We need to get them back in!"
The captain gestured back his 'okay', then turned towards the others who were still fighting hard. "Team! Frontal assault!" he shouted, pausing for a second as he elbowed and punched an incoming canine soldier to the side, a wide grin curling at the sides of his beak. "We're delivering le Coup de Grâce!"
Marlene turned to Sienna nearby, "You heard the man." she said, a smirk plastered on her face. Sienna grinned back, "On it." she replied, then quickly scampered through the crowd towards the others, "File up!" she yelled, her tail swishing her tail excitedly behind her.
The rest of the team understood, each of them yelling their 'all-rights' and quickly forming a line in front of the army. Soon enough, the zoosters had carried out their task, forcing the Doberman warriors back in the direction of their prison.
"Hurry!" Skipper ordered, "It's about time before the volcano's going to-" the captain was interrupted as the pain returned. He groaned in agony, grasping the sides of his head and finally collapsing onto the ground.
Alpha laughed, "Ha! My poison's taken effect!" he jeered poking his head over the crowd and shooting the animal commandos a twisted grin. Marlene knitted her brow, "Poison?" she exclaimed disbelievingly, the worry rapidly increasing in her hazel eyes as she turned to Stacy for an explanation.
"I'm just as clueless as you are…" she replied, shrugging in reply. Angelique gulped, before quickly giving the chestnut furred mammal her desired answer. "Alpha poisoned him!" she cried out to her leader. Marlene gasped and ran frantically towards the unconscious leader.
Gently, the otter lifted his head onto her lap and placed a paw on his heart. It was still pumping, but slowly growing weaker by the second. Alexander suddenly ran up to her side, kneeling down and quickly checking his leader's vitals. "He's still alive, but we need to do something quick in order to counteract the poison that has already entered his bloodstream." he hastily explained, "Stay here with him while I try to find something that can help." With that, the water monitor dropped down on all limbs and bounded out the cave.
Marlene sighed, completely tuning out of the fight that transpired behind her.
"Come on Skipper…" she silently urged, "Don't give up on us…"
She paused as a tear rolled down her cheek and choked back yet another sob.
"Don't give up on me…"
I must admit, this chapter wasn't one of my best, and it was rather rushed; since I want to get this done ASAP to make room for the debut of my upcoming series. Hopefully this chapter wasn't too horrible for you guys. Also my next update, will be the final chapter for this story. Until then; REVIEW!