Chapter 8 – Winter

Bolt snuggled tightly to Mittens, wanting nothing more than to chase away her fears. The crying she did before hand was so difficult to bear, he almost cried himself, but now she was calm, asleep and next to him. He heard the door open and felt the cold air his fur. Apparently Mittens felt it to because she pushed her paws against the covers to snuggle in closer to him and fell right back to sleep. 'Nightmare can't have followed us here, we didn't even leave a scent trail…did we?' Bolt thought to himself as he slowly opened his eyes. "What the…" he heard a woman say, and his eyes opened all the way. She was short but anything except petit, wore a thick fur orange coat and mittens, most likely to stave off the cold and had thin circle rimmed glasses over her baby blue eyes. She also wore thick orange pants, most likely for the snow, and thick black winter boots on her feet. "When did this dog and cat get in here?" she asked in a kind of surprised huff. "SHHHHH!" Bolt shushed. The girl was surprised to hear a talking dog to say the least, "Don't wake her." he whispered. Mittens shifted in her sleep again, only to push her head into his chest and fall back to sleep. The girl pointed at him, shock settling in, "You can talk." she squeaked. "How long have you been out here?" he asked, "Everyone knows about us."

"Bolt the super Dog, Mittens the Magic Cat, and me, Rhino the Genius." the two of them heard the hamster say as he rolled his ball into the room. Bolt simply looked at his friend, and chuckled, "The most tech savvy Hamster in the world." he said with a smile. Rhino glared at Bolt teasingly, "You try building a matter transmitter and see how far you get." he challenged. "Eh, not my thing." Bolt whispered smoothly. "Wait, I remember hearing about you two on the radio once." the girl said, "I thought it was a book reading." Bolt and Rhino looked at her as if she was crazy, "I know, I should have figured it out, they've never done book readings on that station." she said. "Who are you?" Rhino finally asked, trying to seem tough and skeptical, "I'm Mina, Mina Winters."

"The scientist?" Rhino nearly shouted in excitement. "SHHH!" Bolt shushed quickly. "Oh, sorry." Rhino apologized, "I've read all of your news paper articles. Though I find it rather difficult to believe that the land mass is actually shifting back into its original geographical location from Pangaea." Mina the placed her hands to her hips, glared at the hamster, and then to Bolt, his 'don't you dare wake her' look planted firmly on his face. "Let's take this to my office." she whispered and shut the door. Rhino rolled his ball back into the other room while she removed her gloves and coat. She was rather trim and as shown even through her coat, had a large bust size. Her purple and grey stripped shirt did almost nothing to hide it as she excitedly skipped into her office to debate quietly with the little hamster with the big brain. "Heh, maybe she can get us out of here." Bolt whispered to himself and settled his head back down to encircle Mittens and go back to sleep.

Several hours later Mittens finally shifted in her sleep, waking Bolt up as she awoke herself. Bolt lifted his head and yawned deeply before Mittens could lift her own head, and uncurled her front legs to stretch out. Bolt licked her on the side of her head twice before asking, "Feel better?"

"Yes" she yawned and turned to him to lick his cheek, "Thank you Bolt."

"Any time." he responded and rubbed his cheek into hers. With another yawn, Mittens looked around the room, "Where's Rhino?" she asked. Bolt looked to the door that leads into the office, "In there with a girl named Mina Winters."

"The scientist?" Mittens asked. "Am I the only one who hasn't heard of her?" Bolt asked. "Probably." Mittens laughed, "Rhino's been bugging everyone with her articles for almost eight weeks now." The two of them fell into a comfortable silence, simply enjoying each other's company, "We can't stay here." Bolt finally said, bringing up what he knew Mittens didn't want to hear. Mittens pulled her head away from Bolt to look the dog in the eyes, fear driving her actions again, "Why not?" she asked in a small panic. "Mittens, you know the answer." he told her. "No," she said, trying to convince herself, "I don't know the answer Bolt, why can't we just stay here where it's safe?"

"Because we have to stop him Mittens, and that crazy alien that wants to concur us." he said, concern and determination both swirling in his gaze. "Why do we have to be the heroes again?" Mittens asked, her tears once again falling to her cheeks, staining her fur. "Because Nightmare won't stop until he finds us, and we are the only ones who have the power to defeat him." Bolt reminded her. Mittens bit her lip, thoughts of other plans running through her head, "We could just run away to Neutros." she suggested, the shame in such a plan keeping her from looking her husband in the eyes. Bolt sighed, wrapping her up in his paws as he brought her face into his furry chest, "If you want to, but we might as well just take care of him on the way there," he finally said, trying to comfort his wife, the tuxedo cat. "Yah," she whispered, "might as well." and wrapped her own paws around his waist, holding him as tight as she could.

Rhino waved to the human scientist as he rolled his ball on top of the snow, "By!" he shouted, "Keep in touch!" Mittens smiled mischievously, her eyes lowering themselves to half way as she glanced sideways to her hamster friend, "Sounds like someone has a new girlfriend." she teased. Rhino turned to her with both a hurt look and an angry one, "Hey, it's not my fault we broke up." he said in his defense. "Yah it is Rhino, you started spending way too much time in the basement with your 'mad scientist' projects, and you nearly blew her up once. So she broke it off with you." Bolt told his friend. "Wha…but…I…" the hamster stuttered as he stopped in his tracks completely awestruck that Bolt didn't support him in his decision, "That's not my fault!" he finished and ran to catch up with his two friends, "Yah it is Rhino." Mittens said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Rhino folded his paws, refusing to admit fault or talk about it further. Bolt and Mittens both started chuckling to each other, "You don't think Mina would go out with me do you?" Rhino suddenly asked, causing the two of them to start laughing again.

Bolt stood on the deck of the ship as it sailed across the nearly frozen waters, he just stood there, letting the cold breeze of the ocean both wake him and clear his head, 'So much has happened,' he thought to himself, 'Nightmare, and now this Savage girl.'

"Mittens is right you know." he heard from inside his own mind. 'What are you doing here?' he asked as his darkness rose up. Bolt could fell the power of his own sins enveloping him as he stood there, "Why should we be the heroes?" Dark Bolt asked. Bolt focused as hard as he could, holding the black power down. "He he he, you think that will subdue me?" the black incarnation asked, and Bolt watched as his own shadow lifted up to take the same form he remembered Dark Bolt having, "What?" he asked in surprise, right before his dark half lunged for him at speed matching Bolt's. The teeth that wrapped around the back of his neck were like vices, and with a single second of immense power, Dark Bolt hurled him up to the front of the boat, startling every one of the sailors that manned the ship. Bolt tried to lift himself to his feet, only to be once again tossed aside by Dark Bolt. As he lay there, every man pulled out a pistol of their choice, and began firing at the black dog. The bullets did nothing at all to him, he simply lifted his malicious eyes at the nearest man, and jumped at him, grabbing a hold of the front of his shirt and spinning the man in a circle before deliberately throwing him over board. "Man Overboard!" one of the sailors called out, "Man O…" he tried to call again, Dark Bolt slammed himself into the man, toppling him over the railing of the ship. Dark Bolt once again dashed to try and throw another poor soul into Davy Jones' Locker, only to be stopped by Bolt himself slamming into his side, "Stop!" the white shepherd shouted as he stood there, "Why are you doing this?"

"Because you don't have the strength to win this, and I'll prove it. Once you lose to me, I'll be in control of our body, and do as I see fit with every living thing." Dark Bolt said as he smiled maliciously. "Not me." he heard from his right, and turned to find the Captain standing there defiantly, "I'll defy you all the way."

"Oh really?" Dark Bolt asked, and again, was slammed into by Bolt. "Knock it off!" the white dog shouted. "Gladly." his dark half said, and stood up before running head first into Bolt's head. The super dog flinched in pain and lifted his paw to rub his head. Dark Bolt then grabbed that same paw and bit down hard, dragging Bolt to the floor and releasing him to grab him by the neck and toss him across the long part of the ship again. The shepherd skid across the deck, coming to a stop only when he had Dark Bolt's paw placed on his neck, choking the life from him, "Ha, I am the stronger one Bolt, compassion is a weakness that should be ignored." the black dog said, and stood there unflinching as the humans aimed and fired their guns at him, letting the bullets get caught in his armored fur. It seemed as if the black shepherd increased his pressure, Bolt losing consciousness until, "BOLT?" he heard Mittens shout. 'Mittens?' he thought to himself. "Bolt, where are you?" she called out again. Bolt once again tried to release himself from the grip of his captor, Dark Bolt only slipping once from Bolt's neck allowing the dog to regain some breath. "Give it up!" Dark Bolt growled, failing to notice that the gunfire had stopped, "There is nothing you can do to win this!" He just as quickly felt a sharp pain in the back of his head, and toppled across the floor.

"Who are you?" he heard Mittens yell. Dark Bolt reached to the back of his head, felling the sting of broken skin and seared fur before bringing his paw around to look at the blood that stained it. He growled loudly, and slowly lifted himself up to look at her, flame claws and all, "You'll pay for that!" he snarled, and tried charging at her. She jumped over him, causing the black dog to skid across the floor of the deck, and slide over the exposed side. Down he fell, tumbling until he slammed into one of the railings and was knocked into the water below. The minute the water hit his fur, he felt the heat in his body retreat, and his strength disappear. He changed, vanishing in a dark haze as the icy waters seemed to claim him.

Bolt simply lay there, breathing in the fresh chilled air as he filled his lungs again, "Are you alright Bolt?" Mittens asked as she walked up to him. He coughed once, "Yah, thanks to you." he said. "Who was that?" she asked as she helped to lift him up to his paws. "I…" he began, and then second guessed himself, "I wish I knew." Mittens then ushered him inside the cabin, getting him to rest.

The fallen sailors recovered and the ship secured again, they once again sailed towards their home land. "Thank you captain!" Bolt said as he exited the boat behind Rhino and Mittens. "It may be none of my business, but I must ask, why didn't you just tell her?" the captain asked as the two fallen sailors were rushed off of the boat and to a hospital. "About what?" Bolt asked. "Come now, we all heard what that black dog said. He's the darker version of you, so why not tell your wife about it? Maybe she can help." the Captain suggested. Bolt turned his head to the floor, "Because if she knew, then he'd kill her." Bolt said simply, and descended the plank to join his family. "You know me so well!" he heard from the back of his mind. 'You, but I saw you fall into the water!' Bolt thought in surprise. "You can't get rid of me that easily," Dark Bolt said, "and one day, I'll get out for good, just you wait!"

'I'll never let you hurt her!' Bolt told his dark half. "Trust me, once I get out of your chains, you won't have a choice!" Dark Bolt nearly growled. "You ok Bolt?" Mittens asked, interrupting his argument with himself. "Huh?" he asked at first, "Oh, yah, just thinking." he lied. "About what?" Mittens asked. "The kits." he said smoothly, it disturbed him how easy it was for him to come up with a cover. "Yah," Mittens said, "I miss them too." and pushed her light tears into his chest fur.

"RHINO!?" they all heard as they reached the main street. "Oh, no!" he groaned, and turned around to see a very angry winged Neutrosian flying low to meet them. She now wore a pair of worn blue jeans and a green long sleeved top with the back cut out of it. Around her shoulder was a dark brown leather bag that looked as quite strikingly like a small travel case. "You two separated on good terms right?" Bolt asked in a whisper as he leaned his head down to the hamster's level. "Well…" Rhino tried to say, and was interrupted by Angelira. "What are you doing here, come to ask me to take you back?" she asked. Her tone of voice and folded arms suggested that she was doing just fine without him, but Mittens knew better. "As if," the hamster responded, "You broke up with me remember?"

"Well it was your idea to nearly incinerate my wings!" she said, "I still have a few scars to prove it!"

"I said I was sorry!" he told her. "This is going to be good!" Mittens whispered to the confused white shepherd. "Well 'SORRY' still isn't good enough." she told him and turned around, before shining white and shrinking to his size. "You did it again!" he said sarcastically. "Did what?" she asked and turned around, completely oblivious as to her new size. She opened her eyes in shock as she stared at his feet, and looked up to find him at her eye level, and stomped her foot as she growled in frustration. "DON'T LAUGH!" she yelled at the chuckling Rhino. "You were right, this is good!" Bolt whispered to his wife.

End Chapter 8