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The Second War

by Young Penn

Chapter 1: A Trip to the Country

Artha and his dragon bolt around the track at speeds nearing that of sound. The other dragons seem just as fast. It is near the end of the race and the track will soon bottleneck to raise the difficulty. Only two dragons stand in the way of victory for Artha, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Artha smiles and shifts his weight forward. Beau slowly begins to accelerate due to the shift in weight towards the head. The first of the two dragon’s rider turns his head and sees Artha gaining. Then he turns back and squeezes a button. An orange box pops up and three small dragons drop out.

The communication link pops up and Parmon Sean’s face pops up.

“Watch your path, Artha, traps lie ahead!” Parm yells.

“I know, Parm, I’m not blind.” Artha says back.

The link then disappears.

He immediately gets Beau to swerve to the side, effectively avoiding the trap. Artha then returns Beau to gaining on the rider in front of him. As he gains, the rider pulls a staff to fight. Artha takes hold tight and readies himself for the fight. He also takes into notice that the lead dragon has numerous pieces of T-Class armor, a fairly new armor used by the highest of classes, the elitist of the elite, and the richest of the rich.

“Artha!” A voice calls as Kitt pulls up behind him.

“What is it, Kitt, I’m kinda busy here?” Artha says as he looks over his shoulder.

“Something awful has happened!” Kitt calls out. “The news has spread of a possible second dragon-human war! The city council of Dragon City has called out to all warriors and racers for help!”

“Can’t this wait until after the race?” Artha calls.

He quickly turns and watches the two racers in front of him as well as the oncoming bottleneck.

“The race might be canceled for the announce---” Kitt is cut off by a loud blast.

All the racers suddenly come to a squealing halt for the announcement. Artha looks up to the air where loudspeakers are hovering for the announcement. The loudspeakers screech once and a voice comes through.

“Attention all Dragon City race and clan members, the news has been broken of an impending dragon-human war and all those who wish to help must report to City Hall immediately. I repeat all those who can and wish to help must report to City Hall immediately!”

The loud speaker is cut off and all the racers look around confused. The communication link between Artha and Parm reestablishes and Parm’s face shows through.

“That’s it, Artha, the race has been called off. With a crisis on their hands, it’s been rescheduled for another time. I think we need to get to City Hall, now!” Parm says.

“Come on Artha, this could be exciting!” Lance adds just before the link is broken once again.

Artha turns and looks to Kitt who stands just behind him with a look of confusion, of which all the racers seem to uniformly wear.

A small crowd of people stand about in the high-ceilinged court of the City Hall building, waiting for more news on the impending war. Finally a fat man, known only as the Mayor, stands up and raises his arms above his head to silence the crowd. When the crowd is silenced, the Mayor puts his hands on his suit and looks over the people.

“As you all know, a dragon-human war would destroy our beloved city as well as cause unnecessary destruction and chaos. This war must be prevented at all costs! I now ask you to do everything you can to prevent this! Please, form a single file line and you shall find out how you can help and where you must go to do so. Some of you will simply stay here and help out with guard duty while some of you may be sent to the vast reaches of the world to visit eccentric places and meet eccentric people! Now, please get in line to find information as well as do as you can!”

The racers, who once were a mass of confused and scared people, now managed to get into a straight line to meet the council members and receive duties. Artha and his friends are pushed to the back. Kitt is just in front of him.

“Do you know what’s going on exactly?” Artha asks.

Kitt turns and looks to Artha.

“Not much more than you do, Artha. But I do know that somebody evil has amassed an army and is threatening the city with it. I don’t know exactly who, but I do have a good guess.” Kitt says.

“Paynn.” They both say in unison.

“Is that all?” Artha says. Kitt nods. Artha looks to the ground before looking back to Parm and Lance who are looking at a holoviewer with something on the other side. They are too busy to notice him. “Well, let’s just find out what’s going on and see what we can do.”

“Ah, Artha Penn, we've been expecting you. Please, step forward.” The Mayor says. “You as well, Kitt Wonn.”

The fat man clasps his hands together and laces his fingers between each other. Artha and Kitt both step forward and stand shoulder-to-shoulder as the Mayor looks them over. “Well, let’s see what we have in store for you, my young friend.”

The Mayor looks down and picks up a cream colored piece of paper with gently looping writing on it. The Mayor pushes up the bottle-cap glasses up the bridge of his nose and reads the paper. After a few lines, his eyes become wide and he slowly lowers the paper.

“Mister Penn and Miss Wonn, it seems you will be assigned to be with Troy Du Pont in La Chateau de la Castile out in the Draconian Countryside.”

“Yes!” Parmon says as he and Lance walk up to them from the sidelines. “Artha, do you know who that is?”

Artha turns and looks to Parm as if he were insane.

“Troy Du Pont owns the largest and most exclusive dragon gear company in the entire world! He also is one of the most intelligent people and invents things everyday! We should consider ourselves lucky just to meet him let alone go to his manor and meet him!”

“Calm down Parm, he’s just a businessman.” Artha says.

“But you don’t understand the importance of his company and his being alive!” Parm continues.

The Mayor clears his throat and leans across his desk.

“As I said, you will be working with Mister Du Pont and do as he says. Leave for his estate as soon as possible. This map should lead you to his manor. If it does not, ask someone and they shall point you towards his huge manor.”

The Mayor tosses a holoviewer to Parm who easily catches it. He quickly looks to it and back up to the Mayor.

“Well, what are you waiting for? You do not wish to keep him waiting, do you? Go on, get moving!” The Mayor says.

As they begin to walk away, Artha swears he can hear the mayor laughing from under clenched lips. But he puts it off as his imagination. Why would the mayor be laughing at him anyway?

Artha and his friends ride their dragons as they begin towards the Du Pont estate. Dragon City has disappeared from sight about thirty minutes ago and the roads have turned into a simple concrete path. Parm has talked for most of the trip, his excitement not understood by anyone but himself.

Beau looks around at the grassy fields and rolling hills around the path. He also notices all of the forests beyond them. It’s seems a stark contradiction to the underbelly of Dragon City. His wandering eyes catch the attention of the riders as well as the other dragons.

“Who knew places like this still existed.” Kitt says.

“Yes, it’s just most people and dragons do not leave the city as there is no need for it.” Parm explains.

Twenty more minutes of slow travel suddenly bring into view row after row of large, purple grapes, fields of greens and, most obvious of all, a large, white castle with blue details.

“That’s this guy’s place?” Artha says.

Beau looks up to Artha and slowly cocks his head.

“That’s Du Pont’s place to be exact.” Parm says. “It’s an old fortress that he repaired and made his home. its walls are some sort of reinforced stone with steel rows down the middle, with a defense that is not known even to the most important people besides the ones who run it.”

“Man, you really love this guy, don’t you, Parm?” Artha says.

Parm sits embarrassed as his friends burst out into laughter at his seeming infatuation with Du Pont.

No! I just know the best of supplies. I mean, I am your technician, aren’t I?” Parm says.

“Sure, whatever you say---” Artha is cut off by a loud boom that rings out from far away.

They each look up to where the sound has originated from and see a large, black plume rise from over the tallest tops of the trees. It looks like something has exploded! Artha turns and looks to Kitt. She gives a determined look back to Artha.

“Somebody may be hurt, let’s move!” Artha calls. Kitt nods in answer.

They then each rush off through the rows of grapes towards the forest and the origin of the explosion.

“Guys, don’t go---” Parm calls out. “Ugh, no one ever listens to me! Come on, Lance, we have to catch them.” Lance nods and they both turn their dragons towards the path that Kitt and Artha have both bolted down.

Artha and Kitt both bolt through the thick forest towards the site of the explosion.

“Artha, be ready for anything!” Kitt calls out.

“I know, Kitt!” Artha calls back.

“Get ready, Beau.” Artha says to Beau. He growls in response and speeds up the pace. Kitt keeps pace on Wyldfyre just behind Artha on Beau. The trees whip by at high speed as Kitt and Artha speed towards the site. The light that shines in from the bright sun outside, making it hard to see what is out in the clearing beyond the trees.

Once the dragons run out of the canopy, the riders see what the origin of the explosion is. They see a large gun aimed towards the sky sitting atop what looks to be a hover-train car which is perched atop a hover-train path.

At least twenty men stand about the gun, loading a large, brass shell into the barrel. The riders stop their dragons as they try to figure out what is going on.

“What is it?” Kitt asks as she pulls up next to Artha. Artha simply shakes his head.

“I don’t know.” Artha replies. “But I don’t like it. We have to stop it.”

Artha looks around the men standing about the cannon and spots one standing on a small hill off to the side. He is wearing a mercenary’s getup and holding a pair of binocs to his eyes. Artha identifies him as the leader and decides to take him down.

“Stay here, I’ll get him!” Artha says.

Artha pulls a staff from his saddle and urges Beau to charge towards the man. Beau rears, lets out a loud roar, and begins a charge towards the man. Artha focuses himself, expands the staff and readies it. He begins up the hill, growing closer and closer to the man with the binocs.

The man is too busy looking through the binocs to notice that Artha is charging towards him with the power and speed of a five charging rhinos. Artha nears the man and lets out a cry as he lifts the staff out in front of him.

Parmon and Lance rush out from the rows of trees and see Artha rushing to attack this man. Parmon identifies the man and stands up on the saddle of Cyrano and calls out to Artha.

“Artha, stop now!” Parm calls. “Don’t hurt that man, it’s Du Pont!”

Chapter 2: The Inventions of a Lord

Artha hears Parm’s call at just the last moment. Beau skitters to a stop at Du Pont’s feet. Du Pont lowers the binocs and turns his head towards the kid on his dragon. Then he frowns and shakes his head.

“I bet you thought you had the drop on me, didn’t you kid?” Du Pont asks. “Truth is, I’ve had three riflemen with crosshairs on you for about the last ten minutes, now. I have also known of your approach for the last twenty.”

Artha sits on Beau and looks over the man with surprise.

“I didn’t know you were Du Pont.” Artha says. “But what are you doing out here?”

“As I please.” Du Pont responds. He slowly returns the binocs over his eyes and looks at the large cannon. “This is my land and I may do as I please on it and with it. I need to test my track gun and this seemed like a good spot.”

The ground rocks as Kitt and Parm come riding up. Lance is at their heels, but Fracshun’s light weight causes no sound.

“Mister Du Pont, Artha is entirely sorry for his actions as he did not know what he was doing.” Parm says.

“Shut up, Parm, I just didn’t know he was who we were supposed to meet.” Artha quickly says.

“Well, it’s true.” Parm says.

There is a long silence as view is returned to Du Pont. Then sight is quickly moved to the lumbering cannon with its four-story high barrel pointing off into the distance. The men around it’s base move it every-so-slowly as not to damage it, nor aim it in a place need not be aimed at. A large brass shell is slowly pushed into the back of the cannon before it is shut.

“Earplugs, everybody!” Du Pont suddenly hollers.

Each man puts a thumb up into the air and Du Pont nods. Then he takes a pair of earmuffs from his belt and places them over his head.

“Extra earplugs needed, people, we cannot fire without every single person having earplugs!” Du Pont calls.

A small man in a suit that is standing near the cannon turns and slowly begins to walk towards the group of riders on their dragons. He pulls several pairs of earmuffs from his belt and gives them a hard toss once he is halfway between the cannon and the group. Each pair of earmuffs land in hand and are quickly placed over a pair of ears.

Artha, feeling tough, decides against wearing the plugs. Du Pont takes notice and decides to give one last warning.

“You should put them on, you’ll thank me if you do.” Du Pont says.

“Nah, I’ll be fine.” Artha says. “One little boom won’t hurt.”

Du Pont rolls his eyes as he slowly shakes his head. But, not bothering to press the matter, he turns away from Artha. He nods to the men on the large track gun and presses the muffs against his ear.

“Ready?” The artillerist calls from the car. When no one vocalizes any objection, he turns away and takes hold of a long cord. Each man gets as far away from the barrel as they can.

“Fire!” The artillerist calls.

The cannon explodes, the entire barrel recoiling back and pushing the entire track car back with the force of ten thousand charging dragons. The explosion hits Artha’s ears like a stick hits a drum. He quickly covers his ears as his eyes begin to water. Du Pont’s mouth curls into a small smile as he knows Artha has learned his lesson.

“I knew you and your team were coming, kid.” Du Pont says as they enter the keep of La Chateau de la Castile.

“My name’s Artha, Du Pont.” Artha says before Du Pont can say anything more.

“And my name’s Troy, kid.” Du Pont says quickly.

“As I was saying, I knew you were coming.” Du Pont says. “It's just there was no need to. You are not needed for anything.”

Beau rolls his eyes at the petty fight and continues to follow. The halls are wide and high enough to accommodate the large dragon without it being cramped as well as letting others coming the other way pass by them with ease.

“Well then you know that we are supposed to protect you.” Artha says.

“From what?” Du Pont says. “This castle is the best defended place in all of the Draconian Countryside, beating out even Dragon City.”

“Even so, sir, there are evils at work.” Parm says.

“Yeah, we’ve fought them before.” Lance adds.

“And what makes you so sure that these ‘evils’ will want to harm me?” Du Pont says. He stops walking and turns around to face Artha.

“Because you own the largest dragon equipment company in Dragon City and have a very large arsenal.” Artha says.

“Then I’ll use it to protect myself.” Du Pont says and turns around to face them. “What good is a gun if you don't know how to use it? I know how to run each and every piece of equipment, weapon and defense system in here.”

“And how can we trust that you do?” Kitt asks.

“Because I invented, designed and built them myself.” Du Pont says and leans towards her.

Du Pont leans back and straightens his back. Then he steps to the side of the hallway and presses a button. A doorway appears from the stone wall and the doors slide open. An elevator is revealed to be hidden inside the walls of the main hallway of the keep.

“Follow me, if you don’t believe me,” Du Pont says, “and I will show you my arsenal.”

Beau and Artha make eye contact for just a second before they all enter the elevator. Fracshun, Wyldfyre and Cyrano are left outside. Beau, on the other hand, refuses to leave Artha’s side. They easily fit inside the large elevator and the doors slide shut. The elevator begins to descend.

“Where are we going?” Kitt asks.

“The armory and my research lab.” Du Pont says.

The elevator quickly zips downwards at high speeds until it screeches to a stop. It feels like they are still being pulled downwards even though the elevator has come to a stop. The elevator clangs before stopping entirely. There is a ding and the doors slowly slide open, revealing a dark, dank garage filled with machines, gadgets and other such items.

Du Pont steps out and begins to stride up a small aisle between the large inventions.

“Whoa, look at all this stuff!” Lance calls out as he runs out of the elevator.

“Don’t touch anything, Lance, you don’t know what you’re doing.” Parm scolds.

“I know, I know, I’m just looking.” Lance whines.

Beau sticks his head out of the elevator and slowly up the aisle to where Du Pont is walking. Artha and Kitt slowly move out, followed by Beau, and begin to follow Du Pont. Parmon walks out of the elevator and over to where Lance is standing. Before them is a large, smooth metal cylinder with a rounded end at the bottom and what looks to be a cap atop it.

“What do you suppose it is?” Parm asks quietly.

Lance shrugs as they look up at the ten story device.

“It’s a bomb.” Du Pont yells. Parm and Lance look up at awe at the device. “It’s meant to drill into the ground, explode and cause a catastrophic earthquake.”

Parm and Lance make eye contact and slowly back away from the bomb.

“Then maybe it’s his inventions we’re supposed to protect.” Kitt says.

“I doubt it.” Du Pont adds as the two catch up to him. “I don’t keep functioning inventions, whether harmful or helpful, out here. They’re all kept in a heavily-guarded vault in a secret place.”

“Well, I suppose that’s a good precaution.” Kitt says.

“Damn straight.” Du Pont says. “If just one of my deadly devices were to come into the hands of an evil man, this world would be in terrible danger. The only working devices I keep up here are ones I am still working on or am simply designing for another company.”

Du Pont, Kitt, Artha and Beau work down to the end of the large workshop before Du Pont stops walking and turns about. He looks to Lance and Parm who are still looking at each device as if they were in a museum. Then he looks to Kitt and Artha.

“Well, as you can see, there is no danger to me. My castle and it’s surrounding countryside are protected by secret devices I wish not to disclose.” Du Pont states proudly. “Besides, I have my own private military here in the castle to protect the valuable and dangerous weapons here in my workshop. I do thank whoever it is that sent you out here, but I have no need. If they wish you to stay here, you may, but do not get in the way.”

“Moordryd!” Word calls out as he stands over a darkened table.

The son moves slowly, gracefully, out of the shadows and looks to his father.

“What is it you want, Father?” Moordryd asks, annoyed by his father’s demand. Word smiles wide and puts his hands down on the table and leans over it.

“The time has finally come.” Word says. “I’ve kept out of the spotlight to hire mercenaries and use you to steal dragons for months, and now the time has come to use what I have gained.”

Word smiles, obviously amused by his own success, and looks up to his son.

“But you let all of those dragon’s go free once I got them, we don’t have them anymore.” Moordryd says.

“That’s what you think.” Word says. “It is not of importance right now, only one more thing is needed until my plans are complete.”

“And what do you want with me, Father?” Moordryd asks. The smile runs away from Word’s face and he stands up straight once again.

“I need you to steal just one more thing for me.” Word says. “It’s highly guarded and will require a high level of patience and skill.”

“What is it, Father, tell me and I will go and get it.” Moordryd demands.

It is a large transmitter, and by large, I mean in power. It is of high enough power to transmit something to the entire city as well as the surrounding countryside. The transmitter is about the size of your head and is currently being held in the bowels of Du Pont’s manor. Once you get it, steal the blueprints and kill Troy Du Pont. We don’t want anyone being able to stop our plots and Du Pont knows how to stop his device.”

Moordryd claps his boots together to straighten his body and bows to his father.

“I will get the transmitter immediately and it will be returned to you by tomorrow morning.” Moordryd says.

“No, you fool! I do not need it fast, I need it without being caught! I don’t care if0 it takes you a week, just get it without being seen or recorded.” Word says. “Now go!”

Moordryd turns about and leaves the presence of his father. Word, on the other hand, slowly turns to face a series of large monitors with the streets of Dragon City upon them. He rubs his chin and smiles dastardly, deviously, thinking of his plan.

“The fools won’t even see it coming.” Word says.

Du Pont leans over a small box that he has been working on for days. It isn’t overly complicated; the device simply has many small parts that take a steady hand and a lot of patience. He holds a welding torch and prepares to put the final part on. He places the piece of metal on the side of the box and begins to weld. It takes him but a second, but it seems as if it took him a decade.

He puts down the torch and looks to his invention.

“Finally, a week’s worth of work is finally complete.” Du Pont says tiredly. Then he looks up to a large object that is covered by a sheet. “Now if only that thing could be finished in a week. It just needs one more part, but I just don’t have the energy to do it.”

He turns and puts his hand across a silver sword, something he carries around with him at night always. Once his castle was targeted for burglary and that sword protected him, his possessions as well as a maid that was being attacked. He also takes the main-gauche that accompanies it and ties them both at his waist.

Once tied tight, Du Pont turns about and begins to walk towards the elevator, still looking down at his sword. He hears footsteps that are not his own and looks up. A pale man emerges from the shadows. He holds in his hands an electric staff in one hand and approaches Du Pont.

“Well, well, Du Pont, it seems I won’t have to hunt you down.” Moordryd says slyly.

“How did you get in here?” Du Pont demands angrily.

He puts his hands on the hilts of both of his weapons and readies for a fight.

“It wasn’t hard, hit a guard over the head, use his body to gain entrance to the castle and hold him captive until he tells us where the transmitter is.” Moordryd says. “Now hand it over!”

“Never!” Du Pont yells as his weapons emerge from their scabbards. Du Pont swings the sword up while holding the main-gauche in front of him. Moordryd lifts the end of the staff up and thrusts it forward, hitting the main-gauche and sending a shock through it and into Du Pont’s body.

Du Pont lets out a scream and drops the sword. The silver sword clangs to the ground just seconds before his body falls to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Moordryd holds the staff out in front of him and folds it up. Then he looks down to the man he has just killed. He shakes his head and smiles deviously.

“You should have just surrendered old man.” Moordryd says. “Get the transmitter and the blueprints, boys!”

Chapter 3: Master of Survival

“How could this happen, Mortis?” Artha says as he paces about the temple. “I trusted that his compound was impenetrable. How could he have been murdered?”

“The most likely cause is invisibility as well as a few other elements of surprise.” Mortis responds. “Either way, you must get out there. Who killed him, that is important, but what did they kill him for, now that is the question. I suggest you do some investigating at his compound. If you move fast, you can be there before the evening meal.”

The castle comes into sight quickly. Parmon and Lance are staying behind at the city today to keep track of what is going on. Kitt is the only one accompanying Artha today. Artha leads on Beau while Kitt runs along side of him on Wyldfyre. Neither one of them have spoken. It seems as if neither one knows exactly what to say. The castle is in the same shape it was in, so there was no assault, but that was obvious.

They make a turn and begin to run towards the open gate of the castle. The sun is setting slowly out to their left and the workers are returning to their homes from the field. They don’t seem to notice the dragons running towards the castle, or they just do not care. They enter the courtyard of the castle and bring the dragons to a halt. A tall, thin man in a suit stands near the large door to the castle. He seems as if he were waiting for them.

When he sees them stop and begin to demount their dragons, he steps down the three smalls steps and slowly walks towards them. Artha walks towards the man as well, Kitt just beside him. When they near the suited man, he bows low before straightening again.

“My name is Winston.” The man says. “I am Troy Du Pont’s butler. As you know the master was taken from this world last night. I, as well as others, thought you would be returning today. Do you wish to see the body, sirs and madam?”

“Yes, please, we need to know why he was killed.” Kitt says.

Artha and Kitt make eye contact before looking back to the butler.

“Yes, well, this way, please.” The butler says.

He turns on heel and begins to walk towards the door. Artha and his friends follow just behind him, slowly trailing the old man.

“Just follow the elevator down, you two, and you shall easily find the body. The police have made an appearance but cannot do anything for the time being. It seems they’ve bigger problems than a murdered gear tycoon.” The butler says as he opens the door revealing the elevator. “Just leave when you please, or contact me if you need something.”

“Thank you, sir.” Kitt says.

They both enter the elevator and press the down button. The door closes and the elevator begins to descend. As they sit silently in the elevator, the silence becomes awkward before quickly becoming intolerable.

“I don’t believe this was just to kill Troy Du Pont.” Kitt says.

Artha turns his head and looks to her.

“And why do you say that?” Artha asks.

“Because there would be no reason to go through the hassle of making invisibility gear and breaking into one of the best defended places just to kill one man.” Kitt says.

“Well, than what do you suggest?” Artha asks and turns his head towards her.

“I think some good thieves wanted something and Du Pont got in the way.” Kitt explains.

Artha turns his head away as the elevator begins to slow. Then the elevator comes to a complete stop. It beeps and the doors slide open. The workshop has now been lit up fully by large lights that hang from the ceiling of the room. It clearly shows every detail of every device in the workshop.

Kitt and Artha step out of the elevator and turn towards the other end of the workshop, where a slumped body lay on the ground. They quickly run down the room to the body of Troy Du Pont. They slow down and stop as they look over it. The skin is pale white and the left hand has been burned black by something.

Kitt walks up to the left side of the body and reaches out to touch the left hand. She lifts it up and shows it to Artha. Artha grits his teeth and cringes at it. The hand has been burn to a crisply black.

“It’s been burnt and badly.” Kitt says. “Maybe fire or electricity.”

“Why electricity?” Artha says.

“Because of the hot energy that it is. It could have burnt his hand to the shade of black that it is.” Kitt says.

She stands up and wipes her hands on her shirt before looking back to the body. Artha walks around the other side of the body and looks to a very odd sight. He sees what looks to be wires coming up and out of a hold in his head. Artha kneels down and forces himself to touch one of the two wires.

“What does it mean?” Artha says. “Did somebody try the Frankenstein way of revival?”

Kitt walks around to look at the wires, her back facing a corner as well as the workbench that has been situated underneath a low light. She then puts her hands on her hips and looks to the wires.

“I doubt it.” Kitt says. “What I see doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would somebody do this to a dead body?”

Artha stands up and walks away from the body. He turns his attention to a silver saber and a smaller dagger that lay on the ground about six feet away from the workbench. He looks to it before back to Kitt.

“Hey, it looks like Troy made a stand before he lost his life.” Artha says and points to swords. “I wonder who would do this.”

Kitt looks up and to the swords. Artha looks to her as she examines the swords from eight feet away. Artha’s eyes widen and he takes in a deep breathe. He notices something happening behind Kitt’s back but doesn’t know how to tell her. What he sees are two, large, glowing, blue eyes. The eyes of a dragon to be precise.

“K-k-k-kitt . . .” Artha says. “You might want to look behind you.”

Kitt looks up and slowly looks over her shoulder. She steps forward and trips over the dead body before falling to the ground. She rolls onto her behind and begins to scoot away.

“We should have brought our dragon’s down with us.” Kitt says.

Artha grabs the golden pendant and readies for a fight. The eyes slowly come forward, the sound of grinding gears and moving machinery comes to life.

“A pale man.” A voice says.

A dragon emerges from the shadows, but no ordinary dragon, a robotic dragon. It slowly moves towards them two mores steps and stops.

“A pale man.” The voice repeats. The lips of the dragon move with the words. “He had long, white hair and one, long, white, bushy eyebrow. He is the murderer. He took my life.”

Artha lowers the pendant and looks to the robot.

Your life?” He asks.

Artha steps forward and helps Kitt up to her feet. Kitt dusts herself off and looks up to the machine with the same confusion as Artha does.

“Yes, my life. I saved my life by transferring my consciousness to the machine when I knew my body wouldn’t survive. I was working on this monster for months. It’s meant to save people’s minds while their body dies. I just cannot believe I had to use it to save my own life.”

“Troy?” Artha says. “You’re a dragon now?”

“For the most part.” Troy says.

“But how is that even possible?” Kitt says.

“A little bit of science, a little bit of magic and a little bit of luck, I suppose.” Troy says.

Troy slowly moves his dragon body out and around his human one. The dragon is a blue and white, quadrupedal dragon with a nearly triangular head, sharp teeth, horns jutting out from near the back of the head as well as, what looks to be, folded wings on its back. Troy then lays his body down and looks to Artha and Kitt with open eyes.

Kitt moves over to Troy and touches the nose of the dragon. Troy’s eyes close from reflex and open once again to look up at Kitt.

“You’re still alive.” Kitt says. “That’s a miracle.”

“Tell me about it.” Troy says. “Now, about my killer?”

“Oh, ugh, yes.” Artha says. “Who killed you?”

“All I know is what I’ve told you. The white-haired man with a white eyebrow and pale skin,” Troy says, “is who killed me.”

“Could it really have been Moordryd?” Artha says. “He wouldn’t sink so low as simple murder, would he?”

“My transmitter!” Troy suddenly cries. “Those bastards stole my transmitter! That’s what he came for! And the blueprints, he stole that too!”

Kitt and Artha look to each other before back to Troy.

“A transmitter?” Artha says. “What would they---?”

The holoviewer on Artha’s wrist suddenly begins to beep frantically. Artha pulls it up and turns it on, letting the message come through. Parmon’s face shows through it, and he doesn’t look to happy.

“Artha!” He calls. “Artha, you have to get back here!”

Artha turns around to put his back to Kitt and looks to Parm.

“Parm, what’s going on?” He calls.

Parmon seems to be running as the holoviewer is banking from right to left as he moves.

“The city, Artha, it’s under attack!” Parm calls. “All the dragons in the city have suddenly begun attacking humans, they’re killing people, Artha, you have to get back here!”

“What?” Artha calls out at Parm. There is a sudden explosion in the background and the sound of electrical devices shorting out.

“It’s something absolutely nutty, Artha; something’s driven the dragons to rebellion against humans!” Parm calls. “Just get back here!” The holoviewer begins to become fuzzy. “All the electrical devices . . . gone screwy!” Parm screams. “Nothing . . . controlled! It’s like . . . electrical devices . . . hit by . . . EMP! Just . . .”

The transmission between the two holoviewers is completely cut out after a few seconds.

“It sounds like our friend has put their stolen transmitter to use.” Troy says.

“We got to get back, now!” Artha says as the holoviewer disappears.

“And what are we going to do, charge in and defeat the entire city’s dragons?” Kitt says.

“She’s right, you can’t do it alone.” Troy says calmly.

Artha turns around and glares at Troy and Kitt.

“Well, do you have a better idea?” Artha yells.

Troy rises to his feet and slowly moves across the room and slowly past Artha. Once he’s past Artha, he bends his head back around and looks to him with a serious face.

“Yes.” Troy says. “You’ll have to go and find the transmitter. I have no idea what that man is doing with it, but somehow I know it’s connected with this. Just figure out where the transmitter went and you’ll find your answer. As for me, I need to call upon my troops. All my weaponry doesn’t rely on electronics. I’ll amass my army and assault the city to regain control. Don’t worry about it or any of the strange machines that will assault the city, just find the transmitter and figure out how to stop this. The dragons wouldn’t just turn on humans on a dime, there must be a puppeteer pulling the strings of this puppet show. Now go!”

Chapter 4: The Battle of Dragon City

Artha and Kitt enter the city at blazing speeds. The city is in chaos and smoke rises from many parts of this burning city. People run for cover in any place they can, running from mad dragons with glowing red eyes that chase them around like a cat does a mouse.

“Augh, this place is pure chaos!” Artha says as he pulls Beau to a stop.

“But what could cause this?” Kitt says. “What would Paynn want with a transmitter?”

“I don’t know but . . .” Artha begins. He suddenly pulls Beau backwards as a dragon charges at them and by them like a bull. “But we have to stop it soon!”

“Spread out, look for any place that transmitter could be placed to cover the entire city!” Kitt calls out.

“Right!” Kitt says before turning Wyldfyre around and blasting off up an alleyway and out of sight.

Artha turns and looks around before up to the large buildings of Dragon City. He notices the tallest building in the city is City Hall and decides to go there first. It’s an obvious choice as the tallest building and is easily accessed.

A figure stands on the roof and looks out over the chaotic city. His fingers are laced behind his back as he watches the dragons chase the humans around with silent humor and hatred. He smiles wide as he watches his success in throwing the most powerful city in the world into pure and utter anarchy.

But suddenly his smile turns to an angered frown as he sees one dragon rushing towards him. The dragon and its rider rush beneath a large bridge and disappear from sight for awhile. There is a bright light and a different dragon emerges from beneath to the bridge, colored black and gold.

The man quickly identifies him as the Dragon of Legend. The man turns around and waddles towards a pillar in the center of the roof. At the top of the pillar is the transmitter. He doesn’t move fast, sure that he and his plan is safe. He walks to the pillar and presses a button on it.

“Moordryd, he’s arrived.” The man says. “Swoop in on him and prevent him from reaching the building.”

The telecommunicator he talks into crackles and a voice comes back through to him.

“It’s already underway, sir.” Moordryd’s voice comes through.

Artha and Beau charge towards the base of City Hall, sure it is where the transmitter is. He then pulls backwards on the grips as five dragons emerge from dark spots on the edge of the street, blocking his path to City Hall. Moordryd rides the head dragon and looks to Artha with a malevolent look on his face.

“That’ll be far enough, Dragon Booster.” Moordryd says.

“Get out of the way, Moordryd, you don’t know what you’re protecting!” Artha yells from his saddle.

“I know exactly what I’m protecting, knave.” Moordryd says calmly and evilly. “The power up there is a power no one else will ever know.”

“It’s thrown the entire city into chaos!” Artha calls out in anger and frustration.

“Exactly!” Moordryd says. “And when outsiders see what is going on here, they’ll blame the dragons! Then they’ll be another . . .”

“Dragon-Human war . . .” Artha finishes.

“Exactly.” Moordryd says.

Artha looks to the ground and cringes in fear of what could happen. Then he looks up again and frowns hard at Moordryd. He bears his teeth and leans forward. Beau suddenly baulks and lets out a loud roar before slamming back to the concrete road.

“I’m not going to let you do this!” Artha yells in anger.

Moordryd laughs menacingly and looks back with an amused angered face.

“Let’s see you try to stop me.” Moordryd says.

Beau darts forward like a bullet down the barrel and Artha gets ready to mag-jump. Moordryd charges backwards and leads the four others with him. The two parties charge towards each other like two advancing armies on a battlefield. They soon get close, close enough for close combat.

Artha pulls a staff from his belt and expands it. At the same moment, Beau takes a hold of Artha and launches him into the air. Artha flies through the air, the staff ready to knock somebody from their dragon. He aims for the rider in the back and points the staff towards him.

Beau lets go and charges toward the rest of the group like a bowling ball down an alleyway. Artha lets out a battle cry at the last moment and knocks into the far right rider. The rider is quickly propelled from his saddle. Beau collides with the far left rider just seconds afterwards and knocks the dragon and rider onto the ground.

Artha cries out and swings around, hitting the rider just diagonal to him off the saddle as the rider tries to figure out where his enemies are. The rider falls beneath his dragon and is out of the fight.

Moordryd, fuming with anger, launches from his dragon with a staff of his own. Artha takes a defensive stance as he waits for Beau to circle around and come back to get him. Moordryd’s staff knocks into his with a loud clash and he pushes back as hard as he can.

“You shall not pass!” Moordryd snarls through his teeth as they push against each other.

“You shall not win!” Artha calls back.

Artha shoves the staff away from him and flips from the back of the dragon. He lands gracefully on the ground and stands up straight. Moordryd jumps off as well and slashes downwards with the staff as he cries out in rage. Artha puts the staff over his head just in time to stop the blow from hitting him, but not in time to have it be solid. The blow sends him to the ground.

The staff flies from his hand as Moordryd pulls the staff upwards in a second attack. The staff flies across the street and lands against one of the buildings, far out of reach. Moordryd smiles and looks over Artha with contempt.

“It seems I win.” Moordryd says as he lifts the staff over his head for a final blow.

As Moordryd reels backwards for a crushing blow, there comes a whistling in the background. The whistling gets louder until it sounds almost as if it were above him. Moordryd and Artha, as well as everyone else look upwards to see where the sound is coming from.

They see something go up into the air from far off. The thing then explodes into a red star that hovers above the city. Nobody seems to know what it is, or what it is for. Artha then looks down and sees Moordryd is occupied by the flashing explosion in the sky.

Artha swings his leg across the ground and trips Moordryd when he is distracted. As Moordryd tumbles to the ground, Artha jumps to his feet and grabs the saddle on Beau as he runs by.

“Hey, come back here!” Moordryd yells. “You coward!”

Beau and Artha run from Moordryd and City Hall as Moordryd calls for more fighting.

Artha and Kitt meet up near where they entered, having to fight past renegade dragons as well as Word Paynn’s men. As they near the entrance to the city, a large force moves on the city. A solitary dragon runs ahead of the force as it nears the city. The force suddenly stops, but the dragon continues to run.

Troy comes into sight and enters the city and they each converge on each other. Kitt stops Wyldfyre with Parm and Lance behind her on her dragon. They each stop and look to each other as the chaos continues to rumble around them.

“They’re safe and most people are, Artha.” Kitt says.

“How can this happen, how can this city be turned to anarchy in but a solitary second?” Parm begins to question frantically. “Such a great place with great technology and social structure . . . gone, just like that!”

“Parm, calm down, I know where the transmitter is!” Artha says.

“Where?” Troy booms.

“City Hall, it’s atop City Hall!” Artha calls.

Before Artha can continue, Troy turns and looks towards his army, a mass of metal monsters and soldiers grasping weaponry. Troy spreads his robotic wings and flaps them once before folding them back against his back. The machines quickly begin to roll forward, smoke spewing from them as they begin forward.

The men dash forward and ready for a fight. They seem not to care what they are fighting for, but that they are fighting at all. Troy looks back to Artha and nods.

“Keep calm, it’ll be over soon, and would you stop and babbling, you twit!” Troy calls as Parmon continues to babbling rant of confusion and frustration. His speech quickly ends with that command. A small device appears out of the side of Troy’s dragon head and touches his ear and mouth together.

“City Hall, City Hall is your target.” Troy calls. “Flight Nineteen you are clear for take off and clear for action.”

And as quick as the device appears, it is gone once more, into someplace on the side of Troy’s head.

“This madness will be over soon.” Troy says.

“I think not.” A voice says.

All sight is put on a man that stands among raging dragons in the street. The man is a very portly man and quite short. He grasps his collar like a gentlemen and stands with complete trust in all the mad dragons that run around him. The dragons, although attacking everything that moves and everything that doesn’t, seem to circle around him, avoiding him.

“The mayor?” Kitt asks. “But why?”

The man, now identified as the mayor of Dragon City, steps through the paths of the mad dragons and chuckles quietly. He holds his head high and smiles large, obviously amused by the girl.

“Do you really believe this fat imbecile of a man could orchestrate such a usurpation of order and installment of the anarchy that you see now?” The mayor says. The mayor then touches a cufflink and a hologram disappears. Word Paynn now stands in his place, holding his head high and smiling with amusement at his own game.

“Paynn.” Kitt and Artha say in unison.

Paynn steps forward and holds one hand up beside his head. He takes but two more steps forward before stopping. He then snaps his fingers. The dragons who were charging around aimlessly suddenly stop. They stop in mid-action of whatever they are doing. They suddenly begin to drift towards Paynn like puppets on strings.

Kitt and Artha watch in awe as the dragons suddenly form rank behind Paynn like troops in an army. One of the larger dragons comes forth and lifts Paynn up and into its saddle. Paynn then looks down to his enemies and waits.

Troy’s private army storms through the gates of the city and begin to take defensive positions throughout buildings. They rush right by Kitt, Artha and Troy without even a glance.

“We should get to cover.” Troy says. “This isn’t going the way I planned. The plane carrying the 1000 kilogram bomb should be overhead in about two minutes. We just need to hold out until then.”

“But what until then?” Kitt asks.

Troy looks to her and shakes her head.

“My troops use high-powered tranquilizers that will knock out a dragon for a week. I can’t say the same for the artillery as well as my tanks. They use full rounds. I would hate to be any dragon that gets hit by one of those.” Troy says. “They are well trained.

When I became rich, I anticipated this and now I have the troops to fight the battle I foresaw. They should be able to hold out until the plane arrives. All we need to do is hold out until then. Get to cover; this is going to get messy.”

Chapter 5: The Bomb, the Building and the Battle

A building on the outskirts of town is the main center of refugees for the city, for those who could make it. Troy stands guard outside while gunshots ring out just feet outside thick walls. Parm and Lance try to keep order over the few hundred scared and panicked people.

While Lance and Parm keep order of the innocents, Kitt and Artha are outside fighting along with the soldiers, some of which they recognize from the vineyard on their trip out there. Kitt and Artha stand back-to-back as they fight off maddened dragons as well as strikes from Word Paynn.

“There are a lot of them!” Kitt says after ten full minutes of heavy fighting.

Artha looks over his shoulder and smiles. “What, too hard for the girl?”

Kitt growls and jumps from her position. She pulls her staff up over her head in midair and brings it down on the front of a charging dragon’s head, a battle cry roaring all the way down. The dragon staggers and falls to the ground unconscious. Kitt stops and plays with her hair for a few seconds. Then she slowly jumps back to Artha with a victorious look on her face.

“That’s more like it, Kitt.” Artha says just before another defensive slash.

“You fools, focus on the Booster and that girl!” Word calls out, pointing a boney finger at them.

A few of the dragons turn around and begin to stagger towards the two heroes like zombies. Then they begin to charge like angered bulls. Artha looks to them and smiles from under his visor. Then he readies himself for a pounce.

“I’ll handle these guys!” Artha says before launching into the air like a cat.

“Be my guest.” Kitt says and parries an attack from an enraged dragon.

Artha yells through clenched teeth as he strikes downward on one of the dragons. He strikes the dragon, lands on its neck and launches to another and repeats these actions. He does this for near five dragons before stopping and looking towards Word from a victory mount atop a defeated dragon.

“You can’t win, Paynn, soon you’ll be out of dragons!” Artha calls.

Word stands and leans on the saddle, looking to Artha with a sure look on his face.

“No, it is you that will soon be out of soldiers.” Word says calmly and points over Artha’s head from thirty yards away.

Artha turns his head and sees three dragons cornering five soldiers that have lost their guns to the jaws of the dragons. Artha gasps and grips his staff strong, ready to intervene. Several dragons step between him and the trapped group of soldiers and he calms himself, knowing they are out of reach.

“Beau!” Artha calls out. “The soldiers are being surrounded!”

He hears a loud roar and Beau drops down from a perch upon a roof above. He drops down like a missile and lands on one of the dragons, which crumples under Beau’s weight. Beau then whips his tail around, knocking one of the dragons onto his side and out of the fight.

Beau then faces the third dragon as it readies to attack him and charges up. He then lets out a mag-burst and knocks the dragon to the ground, also down and out of the fight. The soldiers, once huddled around fearing for their lives, now step forward in gratitude. They do a fancy bow before hightailing it towards the rear area to rearm and re-supply. Beau smiles in victory and looks over his shoulder to Word.

Word slams his fists down on the saddle and grits his teeth in anger. Then he returns to a neutral attitude and lifts up his wrist. He then pushes a button on it and something affects the dragons. They each let out a cry and begin to fight in frenzy. Artha looks to Word and knows he must get to him.

“Kitt!” Artha calls out.

“What?” Kitt replies as she looks over her shoulder to him.

“We have to get to Word!” Artha says. “If we can cut off the head, the body will die! Maybe if we crush the controller, the dragons will not be controlled anymore!”

Kitt nods in agreement and flips backwards to avoid a strike from a dragon. She then turns and begins to rush towards Word on his mount. Artha mirrors her movement and charges towards Word, but from a different direction.

Word doesn’t seem worried. In fact, he smiles. He then lets out a maniacal laugh as the two heroes charge towards him. Artha and Kitt yell out in rage as they converge on Word Paynn. They both jump and swing their staff at him. Word leaps off of his mount just seconds before he would have been hit.

The two staffs swing by him and to the other hero. The staffs of one smack the face of the other . . . hard. They both fall back and drop their staffs. They both then hit the ground and cover their faces.

“You hit me in the face!” Artha calls out in pain.

They both then hit the ground and cover their faces.

“You hit me in the face!” Artha calls out in pain.

“No, you hit me in the face!” Kitt calls back.

Word lands back on his saddle and looks over what has just occurred with a smirk and a laugh. Each of the heroes uncovers their face and look up to Word as he laughs at their misfortune.

“You cannot win; I’ve already illustrated this to you.” Word says confidently. “Cannot you understand this concept? I . . . win!”

Word begins to laugh once again in belief of his own success. Then he looks down and sneers. Artha rises to his to his feet as Kitt rises to his.

“You haven’t won yet.” Artha says. “You shall not win!”

Beau charges from behind and grasps Artha with his mag energy and whips him upwards. Artha hits Word on the face and knocks him clear off his dragon. Word flies several feet back and drops to the ground. Artha lands on the saddle of the dragon and looks to Word.

“See, it is not over.” Artha says. “You have not won this battle.”

Word sits up and rubs his chin.

“Why you insolent little fool.” Word says as he rubs his stinging chin. “You shall not be victorious!”

Word throws himself to his feet and pulls a sword from his belt. The sword expands and he lunges towards Artha. Kitt lets out a cry and jumps from the ground and at Word, grabbing her staff before she jumps. Artha jumps towards Word as well, ready to meet him in combat.

The three converge on each other and begin to fight savagely. Kitt and Artha begin to swing at Word. Word easily parries each and every swing they make. Word also makes swings of his own. Artha and Kitt also parry each swing like heroes. Finally, Word reels back and swings at Kitt.

He knocks her staff out of her hands with one solid swing. The staff flies off into the air and instantly becomes unusable. Word backswings and hits Kitt over the face. The strong swing knocks her onto the ground and quickly renders her unconscious. Artha watches her fall to the ground and turns to reach out and grab her before she hits the ground, but it does little. In fact, it does him harm.

Artha hears Word laugh and the swish of the sword piercing the air. He looks back and sees the sword flying towards him. He clamps down his jaw as the sword hits him square on the side of the face. The helmet smashes and chips from the decorations fly everywhere, but the structure stays intact.

Artha falls backwards and hits the ground hard. He lies on his side and moans just once before looking back up at Word. Word stands over him with a victorious grin displayed proudly across his face.

“The powerful always win, you insolent, little brat.” Word says. “Now, I believe I shall end this.”

Word presses a button on the pommel of his sword and the simple sword catches flame. The flames ungulate up and down the sword like a snake rapping around sugarcane. Word slowly raises the sword up and over his head with a solitary hand before taking hold of the sword with two hands.

Artha hears a cry from Beau as he tries to get to where they are, but the dragons keep him from reaching Artha and Kitt. Beau struggles and cries and roars, but none of this is any use, the six dragons pushing against him keep him back.

Artha sits on the ground, looking back and forth and listening to all the chaos. The world seems to slow before his eyes and ears. He sees Word reeling back for a crippling attack, hears his voice rising for a battle cry. He sees Kitt lying unconscious next to him, like an injured puppy on the side of the road.

He can see the flames that envelop several buildings raging and rising and falling. He can also hear the flicking of the flames as they move around like a living thing. He also hears the screams of fighting dragons, charging soldiers, and most of all, roars and cries from Beau.

Artha can hears the loud ‘bang, bang’ from the muzzle of the tanks nearby in the neighborhood as well as the silent ‘pom, pom’ from the guns outside pummeling strategic areas as commanded by Du Pont. He cannot focus on anything as everything seems joined together.

Suddenly, his eyes widen and his mind, eyes and ears clear. He hears a quiet buzzing somewhere nearby, high above him. His eyes flick upwards and he sees something flying just over the city. The thought of victory comes to him quickly. The buzzing gets louder and louder every moment as it nears the center of the city.

He then knows it is the bomb, coming to end this battle. Artha’s mind returns his existence to normal speed, or so it seems. He then smiles and begins to chuckle as he feels a trickle of blood running down his cheek and forehead. Word stops pulling back the sword and lowers it in front of him.

“What are you smiling at, knave?” Word says.

Artha holds his head up to show Word the plane. Word pulls back his head and looks up at the plane. His face twists into an expression of disbelief. Artha clenches his legs and leans forward. He lets out a cry and sweeps Word’s feet out from beneath him while he is looking upward at the plane. Word tumbles to the ground, dropping the sword to the ground between them.

Artha quickly darts forward and grabs the handle of the sword and jumps to his feet. He points the sword towards Word and holds it there. Word frowns with disbelief and looks back up at the sky.

“What is it?” Word asks.

“The end of this battle and of your ‘Second Dragon-Human War’,” Artha says, “that’s what it is.”

Word looks down to Artha with a gaping mouth. The mouth then slaps shut and Word throws himself at Artha.

“You shall not win!” Word calls out in frustration and desperation.

Artha calls out as Word rams into him and knocks him backwards. The sword quickly gets thrown to the ground, rolls out of reach and quickly becomes useless to either party. Word gets atop of Artha and begin to beat him on the face and neck. Artha fires back as quickly as he can and throws Word off of him and gets atop of him and begins to pound back.

All the while, the plane grows ever nearer to City Hall. Word, thinking that beating, maybe killing, the Dragon Booster will somehow alter the outcome of the battle and the war, continues to batter Artha with punches and elbows. But as quickly as Word can throw his punches out, Artha is quick to throw one right back.

Finally, there is a screeching sound and all eyes are turned on the plane. The plane has taken a nosedive over City Hall, making a wailing, whining, screeching sound that grabs the attention of those who have never heard it. Finally, the plane pulls up and something drops from its belly.

The object whistles down and strikes the top roof of City Hall. The roof of the building quickly turns to fire and begins to crumble. Word stands up and stands over Artha. He then steps away and towards the dragons that were holding back Beau. They, as well every other dragon, suddenly stop doing everything. They stand as still as statues for several silent seconds, before returning to normal.

Chapter 6: Armistice and Aftermath

Artha sits with Kitt as she holds an icepack to her head.

“So Word hit me?” Kitt says. “And I was out just like that?”

“Yeah, he hit your temple. That’s what Parm said, at least.” Artha says as a medic wraps gauze around his head.

Artha has returned from the state of Dragon Booster and sits after the battle. Parm and Lance gather around Du Pont, whose body seems to interest both of them. Du Pont bends his head down and licks Lance up the face before turning to Parm and saying something that is barely audible, but the words are not decipherable.

Kitt and Artha both watch the two of them as they are patched up. Artha pulls up his leg and rests it on the bench they sit on. Several tanks roll by with men in red uniforms on them. The commotion has died down for the moment. The dragons were revealed to have small transmitters on them, which linked with the large transmitter which was used to control the dragons.

Each of the dragons was de-transmittered and let free. The soldiers from out in the countryside suffered major casualties, but not one death. The dragons were not so lucky as rounds from tanks and artillery did strike down several dragons who were too close. The soldiers have now given up their weapons for firefighting tools as well as medic kits and have taken up the roles of good Samaritans.

“No!” Word calls out as he is taken towards a covered vehicle. “No, you shall not win, you shall not win!”

“Shut up, crazy, we’ve already won!” The soldier who holds his shackles says. The soldier then kicks Word in the back to get him to walk forward.

Artha pats Kitt’s shoulder and they both stand up. They then slowly walk toward the covered vehicle and Word. Du Pont as well as Lance and Parm have begun to walk towards them from the other side of the vehicle. Word is pushed up to the vehicle and fights when he is being forced into the back.

The soldiers cannot seem to force Word into the vehicle when they push with all their might. A large man comes out from the building that they are using as a command post and charges towards Word. He then punches Word in the back of the head and Word goes limp. The soldiers then throw Word in the back of the truck, where Moordryd as well as a few other lackeys sit already.

The man then dusts his hands off and walks back into the building. Du Pont walks to the truck and stops, looking in with mean, yet soft eyes. Lance sits on his back and Parm stands at his side. Artha and Kitt approach him and look into the truck for second before looking up to Du Pont.

“What are you going to do with them?” Kitt asks.

Du Pont looks to her and sighs. “I know how the justice system works here. So I’m going to take them out to my estate and punish them myself. I know how this all works so it shall be easy to give them a fair trial. That kid I’ll probably force into slavery, his companions will rot in jail. And as for Word, he’ll be quartered.”

“Quartered?” Kitt says. “You’re going to let him live there?”

Du Pont shakes his head. “Look it up on your ‘internet’ thing. Quartering is the most horrible punishment ever used in history. I’m not going to explain it, but his body won’t come out in less than five pieces. This is because of his war crimes as well as murder, arson, manslaughter, robbery, as well as an array of other various crimes.”

The vehicle rumbles to life and puffs some black smoke before rumbling out into the street and turning out of view. Du Pont lowers his head and looks to the ground.

“At least he’ll never cause trouble again.” Du Pont says. “I don’t think anything like what occurred today can ever happen again. Try to not to let too many people know about what did happen today. It’s gruesome and nobody should have to know about it.”

Kitt and Artha nod.

“You two keep doing your thing and I’ll do mine.” Du Pont says. “Somehow I know that this isn’t the last time we’ll meet. Keep in mind that I’ll always be out there or in the city in my company headquarters if you need me. I must be going. My soldiers will repair all the damage and will leave as well. Goodbye, Artha the Dragon Booster, Kitt, Lance and Beau, wherever he is.”

Du Pont snakes his head around and grabs Lance by the collar of his shirt with his teeth and slowly pulls him up and over his body before letting him down to the ground. He then looks back up, does an awkward bow, turns and begins to leave. Artha and Kitt watch him go and look to each other.

“Where is Beau?” Artha says.

Something bites Artha in the pants and he jumps. Beau then tears a chocolate bar from the pocket and swallows it whole. Artha turns and gives Beau an angry look. Beau simply opens his jaws and licks Artha across the face. Artha’s anger turns to calm and he leans on Beau’s muzzle.

“Ah, where would we be without ya, buddy?” Artha says calmly.



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