Notes: The characters aren't mine, and the story is! As always, fictional/animated bros from the show only. This ficlit is for and was inspired by Winterbolt, specifically due to one of many amazing WK drawings on tumblr. The fic title was lovingly spoofed from Sherlock.
Gliding from tree to tree in the draco lizard power suit in and of itself wasn't a terribly difficult thing to do. In fact, it was one of the many things that Martin found enjoyable in the creature adventures that he shared with his younger brother Chris. Trying to leap from tree to tree at top speed? Well, that was slightly more difficult, but not by much—he and Chris had races all the time; their draco races often ended with Chris, being the superior climber, emerging as the victor. So, no; that wasn't too bad.
But trying to leap from tree to tree top speed while being pursued by an army of Zachbots? Ah, well, now that was crossing into the realm of the concerning. And when those Zachbots had succeeded in separating Martin from his younger brother, who was not answering either Martin's shouts or the attempts of the Tortuga crew to call him on his Creature Pod, well… that was downright terrifying.
Martin bounded off of a couple trees, trying to clutch onto one long enough to catch his breath. The sun had gone down about an hour ago, leaving the forest in absolute darkness, for the moonlight was not bright enough to filter through the trees. The sandy-haired man pulled in the ray-like wing-fans of his draco power suit, trying to hide behind the tree trunk as he desperately scanned the nearby trees for just a glimpse of green—the sign that would tell him that his brother was alright.
"C'mon, Bro, where are you…?" he whispered, the rising panic evident in his voice. He wanted to call out for his brother, but he knew that if he did so, the Zachbots would hear him and close in on the sound of his voice.
Why didn't I take up ventriloquism when I had the chance? he idly wondered. I could've gone into the performing arts, but no, I spent my afternoons in Biology Club…
A mechanical whirring sound drew him out of his thoughts abruptly; the Zachbots were closing in again. This time, he was wondering if he could somehow remain unseen and let them overtake him. Then he could look for Chris with some amount of relative peace… assuming he hadn't already been caught.
Martin suppressed a shudder. The last time Zach had Chris captive, he swapped him with a double that had taken Martin far too long to realize that it was a fake. They had both realized that day that Zach was capable of just about anything—and he would gleefully do anything out of spite for the brothers. Zach had called them up earlier to boast that he had developed his own version of a miniaturizer (which Aviva had been convinced was a cheap ripoff of her own—assuming he was telling the truth about having one), and had boasted that he had written the codes so that not even Aviva's machine could undo whatever his machine was capable of. The team had accused him of bluffing—to which Zach replied that he would gladly demonstrate his new machine… provided that he had a test subject or two.
It was then that the Zachbots had crashed through the Tortuga's skylight, and the brothers, who had been playing around with the draco lizard suits to pass the time had both run for it while Aviva, Koki, and Jimmy scrambled to the garage to hide. The Zachbots had left the crew alone, instead pursuing the brothers. There had been so many of them, the brothers had found themselves surrounded.
And that was when Chris had pulled away from his slower-climbing brother and began taunting the Zachbots into following him and him alone, despite Martin's horrified protests for him not to.
Chris had not listened, and had continued drawing the Zachbots away. Soon, he had glided out of sight with about fifteen of the droids on his tail, and that was the last Martin had seen of him. Martin had tried to keep up, of course, but another seven Zachbots remained to go after him, diverting him from his intended path and putting more distance between him and his brother.
He had done enough running now, Martin decided, as he clung to the tree and managed to remain silent as the Zachbots whirred past him, each waving one of their telescoping arms out like Daleks ready to strike. Spotlights shone from their heads, the beams just missing Martin and keeping him out of sight. Silently thanking his lucky stars that Zach hadn't installed tarsier-esque night vision into the droids, he watched in trepidation as they all passed by him, continuing to press on ahead.
It was only after they had gone, and their spotlights had blinked out from the distance between him and them, did Martin breathe out a sigh of relief. But it was short-lived; there was no telling what had happened to Chris. True, Chris's climbing skills would have allowed him to easily outdistance the Zachbots if Martin had managed to do so, but Martin had to remind himself that Chris had been dealing with far more of them. It would have been too easy for them to arrange themselves in a circle, surrounding Chris and closing in further and further, like a pride of lions on a lone zebra, until…
Martin tried to push the image aside, but couldn't. What if Zach hadn't been bluffing about the irreversible miniaturizer? Would Chris really be permanently shrunken? And, if so, by how much? Would Martin even be able to see his brother without the aid of a microscope ever again?
Martin now succeeded in pushing aside the despairing feeling and resumed leaping from tree to tree again, his mind repeating the silent mantra of how he had to find his younger brother before that happened.
He wasn't sure for how much longer he had continued onward; worry made time immeasurable, as far as he was concerned. But a gasp of horror escaped his lips as he heard his brother let out a cry of alarm from several yards up ahead.
"Chris!" he yelled, without thinking.
The seven Zachbots that had been seeking Martin out were now rapidly returning to the point where he had called from, but Martin didn't care; squinting through the trees, he had seen, for the briefest instant as the scene had been illuminated by the Zachbots' spotlights, his brother suspended in midair, wrapped up in the telescoping arms of his Zachbots pursuers like they were python coils.
Zach's voice was cackling over the intercom, instructing the Zachbots to bring Chris to his ship.
"NO!" Martin yelled, furious.
They were several yards away, but it was not an impossible distance. He could not—would not—stand helplessly by and watch as his brother was carted off to be the subject of a miniaturization experiment!
Heedless of the Zachbots pursuing him, which were all launching their arms at Martin now to capture him in a similar manner, Martin leaped and bounded ahead as the Zachbots holding his struggling brother began to hover away with their quarry.
"Chris, hold on!" Martin called to him. "I'll save you—just hang on!"
Chris heard him that time, looking back at him with pleading eyes. Only once had Martin ever seen his brother look like that—many, many years ago when they had been kids; Chris had wanted to observe salamanders at a creek that had swollen up dangerously after a particularly vicious rain. Chris's foot had slipped, and the current had quickly pulled him from the bank and had taken him downstream; he had managed to grab onto a large rock not too far from the bank as Martin had yelled out in worry, and that was when Chris had looked to him—that look that said that he was depending entirely on his elder brother to save him. Martin, thinking quickly, had used a rope to anchor himself to a larger rock on the bank and had then waded out to Chris, successfully rescuing him.
And nothing—but nothing—would stop him from helping his little brother again now. Chris had put himself in danger this time to spare Martin from the same fate, and there was no way that Martin was going to let him make such a sacrifice.
But the Zachbots, clearly, had other plans. Zach's taunts filled Martin's ears as Zachbot arms appeared from all directions now, but he did his best to ignore them. He focused on his brother as he leaped from tree to tree; sheer adrenaline was making him go faster, slowly but surely narrowing the gap between him and his unfortunate brother…
And that was when a Zachbot arm telescoped right into his path, with no time or means to dodge. Martin collided with the robot arm, the force knocking the wind out of him. With his flight stopped in midair, gravity took hold of him.
He could see Chris's eyes widen in horror as he fell back, increasing the distance between him and his brother once again as he hurtled to the forest floor.
"CHRIS!" he yelled, as the full horror of the moment descended upon him. He had failed. He had failed his little brother, who had silently been pleading for him to help. Zach was going to take him as Martin would painfully crash-land.
No! Martin silently vowed, as he fell. Not today. Not ever!
He had seen Chris pull off the grab-a-branch-as-you-fell-and-swing-back-up trick once, and only once. And his brother's success had been limited. But Martin didn't care if he wasn't as good a climber as his brother. Right now, he was willing to try anything. And, whispering a silent plea that this would work, he reached out for a branch.
His fall broke, but the branch started to break, as well. Martin used it to plant his feet against the tree trunk and leap off, draco-style, as the branch fell to earth. But Martin was airborne again—unfortunately, several yards below Chris, who was still being carted off by the Zachbots.
Worse yet, they were rapidly reaching the forest's edge; Zach's ship was waiting, its bay doors open, all ready to receive Chris as the Zachbots drew closer. Martin was running out of time—and trees.
He saw another Zachbot arm head towards him out of the corner of his eye and got an idea. Hadn't Chris used the Zachbots as impromptu trees when Donita had captured Martin himself the first time they had encountered the draco lizards?
He didn't even wait for his mind to answer; he grabbed the robot's arm and swung upward. Another arm hurtled towards him, and he grabbed it and swung upward again. Again and again… And, before he knew it, he had landed atop one of the Zachbots holding his brother, landing with such a force that the robot's head telescoped inward, loosening the grip its arms had around Chris.
As the arms of the first bot loosened, the other arms, which had been wrapped around the first set of arms, loosened as well. The Zachbots whirred, attempting to readjust their grip around Chris, but Martin seized his chance; he extended a hand to his brother, who managed to free one of his own hands and take it. Martin pulled him out of the mechanical coils just as they closed in further.
"Jump!" Martin ordered.
Both in their lizard suits, they both took a flying leap and glided off together. Zach's frustrated yells followed them, as did the Zachbots, prompting the brothers to swerve and dive to avoid a sea of robot arms. And soon, they realized another problem.
"We've got nowhere to land!" Chris exclaimed, as the ground started to come up closer and closer to them. At the rate of speed they were gliding, a crash-landing the ground would be very painful indeed
"There's a small barn over there!" Martin pointed out, now able to see with the unhindered moonlight. "We've gotta try for it!"
Chris hesitated for a moment, but looked from the barn to the Zachbots behind them and finally nodded.
They pulled away from each other for a moment as a Zachbot arm zipped between them, but Chris caught his brother's eye followed his lead. They swooped up towards the barn in perfect unison, trying to land on it as though it was a tree trunk. The barn was old, however, and the moment they did, that part of the wall gave way, sending the brothers tumbling right into a hayloft, which stopped their movement. The Zachbots, unable to see them buried in the hay, scanned the area and moved on.
Slowly both heads popped out of the hay, both trying to catch their breath, hardly daring to believe their narrow escape.
"I… I owe you one, Bro," Chris gasped.
But Martin shook his head, relaxing at last as relief cocooned him. He had managed to help his little brother, and that was more than enough for him.
"Nah, Chris…" he said, managing a smile. "This one's on me."