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Ghostchasers: Part Six


by tamia_silverwing

--------

Kiyoshi stared in alarm at the Eyrie who now stood before him. How could he be here? He couldn't. Not now, not when they had thought it was all over....

      "Go," he said, not really thinking about how he formed his sentences, only dreading what might be about to happen. He nodded in the direction of the Woods on his left, but his gaze didn't lift from Cosmo. "Go out of the way. Just for now."

      The Eyrie's feathers ruffled, his tail twitched. It was as if he were waiting for the Shoyru to make a move before he pounced.

      Kiyoshi had fought several battles in the Battledome, but he'd never been pitted against an Eyrie. He wasn't accustomed to their unreadable, yet deadly fashion. It was unnerving, almost too much to bear.

      His three friends hadn't moved. Kiyoshi could picture Jeri's savvy mind working, trying to decide what really would be best.

      "Please," he urged quietly, not moving. "You have to. Don't worry, I don't exactly have a death wish."

      "How do we know he won't go after us as soon as we move?" Aley whispered from behind him.

      He didn't have time to answer. The Eyrie lunged at him, opening his beak to utter a bloodcurdling shriek that completely caught him off guard.

      Cosmo's agility was superior. Kiyoshi had only managed a few awkward steps away before the Eyrie swiped at him with the knife, catching his shoulder.

      Immediately he felt a warm trickle of blood under his jacket sleeve, almost before he could feel the burning pain.

      He heard Aley's voice cry out something unintelligible, and Cosmo's head whipped around. His eyes narrowed as they fixed on the escaping pets. It seemed like predator-like instinct was taking over. Cocking his head at Kiyoshi, who was standing defenceless and gripping an injured arm, he seemed to decide he'd rather go after them.

      "You would destroy everything I've worked for," he whispered, his voice barely a rasp. "All of you!" He pumped his wings impressively, and dove towards the three pets.

      Kiyoshi gritted his teeth, pretending he was uninjured. Summoning his strength, he pushed off and left the ground behind.

      "Cosmo!" he shouted.

      At first, the air felt funny under him. His body felt too light. His wings occasionally trembled, felt brittle. The air felt too thin -- not strong enough to sustain his presence in it. It didn't take so much effort to maneuver. But he would have to do his best.

      Cosmo turned and looked up. Clearly, the Shoyru looked a more inviting target now that he was airborne. The Eyrie snarled and lifted off as well. He raced up to meet the hovering Shoyru.

      Kiyoshi darted quickly backwards. Up in the air, he did have an advantage: he was smaller by far, and could dip and turn and roll much better than the bulky Eyrie could.

      The knife glinted as Cosmo dove. Kiyoshi dodged to the side, narrowly missing it. How long would he be able to avoid the Eyrie's weapon? He had no weapons of any use; trying to use his slingshot from this distance would do about as much good as beating him over the head with a plushie. He had to do something.

      As the Eyrie gracefully angled his wings to soar back up again, he brandished the knife in front of him, slashing through the air. Try as he might, Kiyoshi couldn't ignore the red glint on its tip.

      No more blood, he told himself.

      This time, as Cosmo grew near, the Shoyru plunged towards him. Before the Eyrie could react, Kiyoshi had latched onto his arm, trying to take control of the deadly weapon. Cosmo's muscular arm strained, trying to push the knife toward Kiyoshi.

      To this day he couldn't tell why, but for some reason their eyes locked. However, he was taken aback by what he saw. Where only earlier that day had been traces of curiosity and ambition not unfamiliar to Kiyoshi himself, now only hatred dwelt. This was the face of someone who was thinking, You've ruined my life -- watch me ruin yours. His eyes were new to Kiyoshi, unlike those of any living, breathing pet he'd ever come across. They said he wanted to kill him.

      "Why did you have to destroy it all?" Cosmo hissed. "I only had an idea. Where was the crime in that?"

      "Just the kidnapping, assault, terrorizing and attempted murder parts," Kiyoshi choked, struggling to twist the blade away from his neck.

      "You didn't just steal my force," the Eyrie growled. "You stole my life."

      And with that, he beat his wings once. Kiyoshi had forgotten about those wings -- forgotten that they were like a concealed weapon the Eyrie permanently carried and could use at any time.

      He felt the strong bones of Cosmo's wings crash into his temple, the searing pain, like pressure that had been gradually been building up and now exploded in his head. He saw what looked like coloured lights dancing in to fill up his vision, and felt himself falling, falling, but he was stunned and unable to do anything about it.

      He hit the ground sooner than he'd expected. He only felt the shock of impact; in his murky mind none of the pain he should be feeling registered.

      But in a few moments, his eyes focussed and his head cleared enough for him to somewhat regain a sense of awareness, leaving him a wreck of agony. He felt like he should be dead. But he wasn't. And that could only be used to his advantage, sooner or later.

      Then he realized that what he lay on was too hard to be the ground. He glanced around, past the point of being overwhelmed, trying not to move his head any more than was necessary.

      By some strange twist of fate, he'd fallen onto the inner ledge running above Cosmo's base. It had probably saved his life.

      "Kiyoshi!"

      "Aley," he groaned. "Go away. I'll be fine."

      "No, listen," she called from below, on the outside of the wall. "I need to know. Your comm system... does it operate on altered Virtupets technology?"

      "Aley--"

      "Please, Kiyoshi. It's important."

      He was too dazed to argue. "Yes."

      Suddenly, he felt a small tremor in the platform. Cosmo had landed right in front of him. He felt a few shudders more, and the red Eyrie was standing over him, fingering the knife calmly.

      Kiyoshi wanted to move, knew his life depended on it, but couldn't. His body was completely traumatized both by the fall and his injuries.

      "You've been quite the entertaining escape artist, Mr. Ghostchaser."

      "I try," he said weakly.

      "Quite entertaining indeed," Cosmo mused. "I'd like to say I'll miss you, but I won't." He grasped the knife.

      There was absolutely nothing he could do. Kiyoshi screwed his eyes shut and prepared for the worst --

      Something hit his chest. Something large, and heavy, almost enough to knock the wind out of him, and as unlike a knife as possible.

      Clang!

      With a start, Kiyoshi opened his eyes in time to see the blade leave Cosmo's grasp and go spinning over the wall. It had glanced off of whatever had landed on Kiyoshi.

      Looking up, he saw a hovering green Shoyru smile, nod, then fly off.

      Something falling from that height must be fairly light to land like it did on him. It could only be one thing...

      Kiyoshi struggled to see himself. Balanced on his chest and midriff was his most valuable possession.

      "What is that?" Cosmo snarled in outrage.

      Kiyoshi could feel the life coming back into him, encouraged by the magical aura that now surrounded him.

      "That," Kiyoshi murmured, sitting up slowly and holding the Shoyru Battle Shield in front of him, "is the little system I carry worth at least 50 000 NP."

      There was a noise behind him, from the outside of the wall. Cosmo, who had been staring at the shield, now glanced over Kiyoshi's shoulder. The older pet's eyes widened in terror.

      Kiyoshi turned to see what he was looking at, and his blood seemed to turn to slush.

      They'd been followed.

      As a reflex, Kiyoshi raised the shield. Great sharp claws from an enormous, fur-covered paw gouged into it, but it had protected him.

      There was a hum that seemed to draw light from around them into the battle shield as it built up energy. Suddenly, it issued a blinding flash of twisting green light that blasted towards the snowbeast. The attacking creature roared furiously and stumbled backwards.

      When it approached again, it headed for Cosmo. Kiyoshi didn't want to see this, but he could only stand, riveted, unable to look away.

      The snowbeast was enraged, and Cosmo was vulnerable, not knowing how to act without a weapon.

      He shouted as it loomed above him, as the paw struck him.

      As if in slow motion, he tumbled over the top of the parapet, still yelling belligerently.

      Kiyoshi stood, not knowing what to do. It would be coming after him now.

      As if on cue, the terrifying creature turned to face him.

      But at that moment, several voices filled the air, calling out, faintly at first, but becoming louder and louder every second.

      The snowbeast's head whipped up, and he bellowed as if scalded before crashing off into the surrounding Woods.

      Now Kiyoshi's gaze too met the sky.

      The sight of the flock of Pteri, the Neopets who might have the abilities to end this forever, mixed with the flashy uniforms they displayed, announcing the arrival of "The Pteri Patrol" was enough to convince him that now, it was well and truly over.

      He remembered Cosmo then. Stumbling over to the wall's edge, he could see the Eyrie far below, sprawled on the ground. Kiyoshi wasn't sure anything could have survived that fall.

      Turning away weakly, he shut his eyes. All because of an idea.

      What if he had been right?

      Far from satisfied, but exhausted, Kiyoshi lowered himself down on the ledge. He leaned back against the wall and slipped into a deep, deep sleep.

     *

      When Kiyoshi woke up, he felt, if anything, worse than he had when he'd fallen asleep. He suspected it had to do with leaving the comforting power of his shield.

      "Kiyoshi!" exclaimed Jeri when he saw he was awake. "Good to see you back among the living! 'Course, that's rather daft saying that so close to the Haunted Woods... all those ghosts and whatnot floating around...."

      The Shoyru rolled over on the lush grass that carpeted the ground. "Ow."

      "Miraculously, nothing broken, mate. Though you did give it a good try. Cuts and bruises, I'd imagine that's the worst of it. Oh, and a sprained wrist."

      Wincing, Kiyoshi took his weight off that wrist with a wry glance at the Bori. "So, where are we now?" he mumbled. Here and there stood a few trees of different varieties, but most of what he saw was a quiet-looking, rolling grassland lying as far as the eye could see. On one side, pushed up against the horizon and stretching almost as far in either direction, he could see a faint line of deep green that could only be dense forest.

      "The Pteri police-watchamacallit lifted us over here, to this meadow. Border of the Woods and Neopia Central. I do believe we get transport to Crystal Valley when they comes back. They managed to round up all Cosmo's villains, an' had to take them away. Y'know, they're calling us heroes," he added thoughtfully, as if this deserved a lot of contemplation.

      Kiyoshi sure didn't feel like a hero. He felt like a squished Slorg.

      "And do you know what they're saying?"

      "No."

      "They say the Neopian Times headlines all over will read, 'Ghostchasers Put an End to Attacks!'."

      Kiyoshi's eyes widened. "Ghostchasers?"

      "That's what they're calling us," Jeri beamed.

      "They've got to be kidding," Kiyoshi muttered. Then he thought of something. "How did they find us anyway?"

      "Ah. You've got our young friend Aley to thank for that. You see, she had the bright idea of sending an SOS telling them to pinpoint our position using the Virtupets station's sensor capabilities."

      Kiyoshi thought about this, admiring her resourcefulness. Then he remembered the green Shoyru who dropped him the shield -- what might have happened if he hadn't had it...?

      "'Ghostchasers'. Huh," Jeri mused. "D'you think -- Kiyoshi?"

      But he'd already fallen back asleep.

     *

      "... And with the combined forces of the Pteri Patrol, and Kiyoshi, with his great shield, the snowbeast was driven away forever! Evil was defeated, once and for all!" Aley emphasized the importance of these last words by leaping up and down, grinning dementedly and punching the air.

      This caused quite a commotion in Mrs. Park's classroom. Thirty-seven junior high students, who had been listening raptly (mouths open in some cases) for the last hour, burst from theirs seats in unison, as if they'd rehearsed it, cheering and applauding wildly. They loved it. It was better than their favourite comic books.

      Even Kiyoshi, sitting in a stool that had been placed in one corner at the front, couldn't help smiling. The young Lupe certainly had the makings of a fine storyteller.

      "Well, Miss Aley!" Mrs. Park exclaimed delightedly, perched on the edge of her oversized black leather armchair. "That was SPLENDID! I cannot be exactly sure if it was a region summary, but -- I do not care. I liked it."

      "Thank you, Mrs. Park," Aley said sweetly.

      "We shall make this an ANNUAL event!"

      "Wha--?" Kiyoshi said, incredulous. "No!"

      "But it was so successful!" the Techo said in shock, as if she couldn't believe that anyone could possibly pass up the chance to almost get killed every year for the rest of their life.

      "I'm busy. Bye now! Nice talking to you again." Kiyoshi made to push his way through the throng of excited students, towards the door. The babble was so loud he couldn't have heard Mrs. Park, even if she had been trying to argue some more. But she was a clever one.

      "Class dismissed!" The Techo's voice rose above the rest.

      If there was one thing that could create an even more sizeable uproar in that classroom than there was already, that was it. Kiyoshi was almost trampled as the class pounded out the door ecstatically, but moved off to the side just in time.

      "Oh, Mr. Paco..?" Mrs. Park said when the room had cleared. "Busy for how long?"

      "For the next ten years," said Kiyoshi firmly. Then he realized he'd made a terrible mistake.

      "Ah." She smiled deviously. "Then we will have you back in ten years to talk over our arrangement, yes?"

     *

      "There you are!"

      Following the voice, Kiyoshi stepped out onto the icy sidewalk and carefully approached Jeri, Trick and Aley, who by the looks of their tussled hair and sodden clothes had just finished one killer snowball fight.

      "You missed all the fun," Jeri commented. "Naturally, I won. So no one was upset that I didn't come with you into that boring old icebox, were they?" he asked at the same time as placing a rather large snowball down the back of Trick's shirt.

      "Mrs. Park was devastated."

      "Oh. Pity. But you see, I think I've developed this allergy to reptiles. Tragic."

      Trick snuck up behind the Bori and dropped a heaping armload of snow onto his head. Then, out of the blue, they were both bombarded with myriad flying snowballs from Aley, forcing them to dive for cover.

      Aley doubled over, laughing with a sort of barking noise. She stopped after awhile, and ploughed through the snow, over to Kiyoshi. "I think I have to thank you again for our adventure. And for all the times you saved our skins."

      He smiled wryly. "You don't have to thank me. I mean, you were the one who figured out the satellite business. And Trick," he said to the Shoyru who now stood beside them, brushing snow from his clothes, "I didn't even know you could fly. But you did, and you were the one who gave me the shield. You saved my life."

      "Pff," Aley said dismissively. "It wasn't that hard."

      "Yeah," Trick agreed. "What else could we do?"

      "No," Kiyoshi mumbled. "You don't understand. I thought you were too inexperienced. Right from the start, I thought you did things all wrong, that you should stay out of the way. But I was wrong. You saved the day in the end."

      Aley bit her lip. "I understand." She smiled broadly. "But we all saved the day. We're a team!"

      "Ghostchasers!" Trick shouted.

      Aley threw her arms around Kiyoshi. Surprised, he hugged his friend back.

      The Lupe let go. "I'll miss you. You too, Jeri!" she called, receiving a wave and a grin from the Bori. "You'd better be back before the end of ten years."

      He smiled. "We'll see."

      "Yeah, well we'll do better than 'see'," said Trick. "We'll distract Mrs. Park with a fire in the staff room closet."

      As they walked towards the entrance to the school, Kiyoshi called after them, "Don't get into any trouble."

      "Don't worry," came Aley's voice from around the door.

      Then he heard Trick's voice finish, "We will!"

      "Kiyoshi!" called Jeri from where it seemed he'd set up the comm system, under the eaves of the school. "Look who I've got on the line!"

      "Tyra!" exclaimed Kiyoshi when he could see the image.

      "Good to see you! I heard all about it -- sounded brilliant. Nice going."

      "Hey, I'll be coming back to Neopia Central pretty soon. See you then?"

      "Kiyoshi," Tyra sounded, looking somewhat deflated, "Remember the farmer in Meridell?"

      "Oh right," he said, deeply resenting this next mission.

      "No sweat. I'll talk to you as soon as I get the details."

      "Wait --" He kept thinking of Aley and Trick, and the parts they'd ended up playing. He'd been thinking about how he'd been pushing his friends onto the sidelines. And he had an idea that there was an important lesson to be learned here. "Tyra," he said slowly. "How'd you like to come on a little excursion with us?"

The End

Author's note: Most of the characters in the story are real pets that belong to real people, and their personalities go with some of their various quirks. I'd really like to thank betazoid_telepath for lending me Trick for this story. Thanks for all your help! Couldn't have done it without you!

 
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Other Episodes


» Ghostchasers: Part One
» Ghostchasers: Part Two
» Ghostchasers: Part Three
» Ghostchasers: Part Four
» Ghostchasers: Part Five



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