“Do you think we’ve gone a bit overboard on the weapons?” Kindyna asked as she inspected a large, decorated sword and started tying ribbons on it. “I mean, we have eight rifles and there’s only four of us and Ct’Era can’t even use them so you brought two extra large grip rifles for her.”
“We’re heading off to the northernmost point of Portalia to save an aspect of time who has been captured by someone who is essentially the big daddy of all Deitics,” Arksi explained as he lugged heavy canisters of fuel into the back of the beige truck, before securing them in place. “You can’t have too many weapons.”
Kindyna nodded in understanding, before coming up with a second question. “Why are you lugging all that stuff around if you have telekinetic powers?”
Arksi stood up, grunting. “I need to keep my body strong as well. Have to consider what happens when something gets past my shields and attempts to punch me in the face…”
“I guess…” Kindyna shrugged as she left the truck, to see what was going on outside. Verlais was standing on top of the truck while Ct’Era handed him various tools. “What are you doing, guys?”
“Just making one final adjustment before we head off. Is everything ready inside?” Verlais asked as he screwed something in place. “I think a top-mounted gun is a good idea, yes?”
“It shoots nets and bullets.” Ct’Era added. “It is good. Perhaps a little offensive to some Banikans. Not to me.”
“Well, alright… I think Arksi has everything sorted out inside. Dunno what he was doing with all those barrels though…”
As Kindyna spoke, Arksi leaped out of the back of the truck, explanation at hand. “It’s a multi-fuelled truck, both solar and fossil-fueled. Old Cassid invention, but there are no power stations and little sunlight the further north we go, so the fossil fuels will come in handy.”
Ct’Era gave Arksi a funny look. She knew what fossil fuels were made of and she had never liked it. But this truck was their best bet.
It was a large, 8-wheeled vehicle, separated into three compartments – four conventional seats at the front, intended for use by the more bipedal races, and two rear sections designed to contain sedated beasts. The back section had been filled up with supplies, leaving enough space for a certain Banikan in the middle section.
“I’m driving by the way!” Verlais suddenly proclaimed. “I know how to drive these things.”
“I bagsie the passenger seat!” Kindyna quickly shouted. “Sorry you two, you’re in the back.”
Ct’Era tutted and walked up to the truck. She opened a sliding door and climbed into the middle compartment. It wasn’t quite large enough for her to sit up, but if she slouched or laid down, her horns wouldn’t scrape across the ceiling. Peering through a small view window, she noticed that Kindna had already jumped into the front seat, map at the ready.
“Come on, you two!”
Verlais grinned at Arksi then climbed into the driver’s seat, while Arksi got in to the rear seat behind Kindyna, cautiously strapping himself in. Once everyone was ready, Verlais inserted the key into the ignition and turned it.
The engine hissed, revved a few times then blasted into life.
Verlais continued to grin as he put the truck into gear, then proceeded to do the best three point turn ever.
“You guys ready?” he smiled as he turned to face his passengers.
“Just fucking drive already!” Ct’Era growled from the back.
The trip to Plasta Island was pretty smooth. Mostly tarmac, with the occasional pothole. The only problem was that they couldn’t take the main roads, because they were too blocked up by now stationary vehicles. Everything from large delivery lorries to Thanatian motorbikes and Rethan hovercrafts and Cassid smart-cars.
Of course, that hadn’t occurred to the team until they reached the non-pedestrian outskirts of Palaestra. The city had always been vehicle-free except for deliveries, but the problem of too many vehicles was apparent the second they tried to get into the main highway heading north.
What would have normally been a two hour trip took far longer, as they’d had to constantly stop and move other vehicles off the road.
Moving vehicles though had been a major boon to Ct’Era, who had found herself feeling rather bruised sitting in the middle compartment. She unfortunately didn’t have the comfort of padded seats or even a proper seat belt.
But finally, five hours later, they made it to the Plasta Island Ferries.
“Wait, where are all the ferries?” Verlais exclaimed as they pulled up along the side of the road.
“In the water…” Kindyna replied, pointing off into the distance. The four ferries that normally served the small, Thanatian-owned island were half-way across the river, both only partially through their short journeys. Normally, it was a twenty minute boat ride from the south port to the island and another twenty minutes to the northern port, with two boats serving each side. “How the fuck are we going to get across now?”
“Could Arksi carry us across telekinetically in the truck?” Ct’Era suggested as she stretched her legs out.
“No, no way…” Arksi muttered. “I’d end up giving myself a stroke from the stress.”
“I thought you were a super powerful fucking Ksa though!” Kindyna interrupted. “Were you fucking lying about that?”
“I’m not lying. There’s a difference between carrying the four of us and carrying a two ton truck across the river.”
“And it seems a bit pointless to leave the truck here…” Verlais added. “We’ll need it for when we get across the river. Shame. If they were closer, I could probably swim to them and drive one back to the shore here…”
A light bulb lit up in Arksi’s brain. “Now that is more plausible! I could telekinetically carry Verlais and myself over to that ship, Verlais pilots it back here and we take it across the river, skipping the island entirely..! Why didn’t I think of that when Ct’Era suggested it..?”
Verlais slapped Arksi across the shoulders. “Do not fret, little one. We all have lapses of the mind! Come on, carry me over.”
“What should we do while you’re gone?” Kindyna asked.
“Move the other vehicles out the way so I can dock,” Verlais explained. “Get them out the way so I can move the truck onto the ferry when I arrive.”
The two females nodded in understanding, as Arksi lifted himself and Verlais into the air and slowly made their way over to the ferry. Ct’Era started making herself useful by gently dragging or headbutting smaller vehicles and their occupants to the grass, while Kindyna had to individually wedge the door open on most other vehicles, start their engines and awkwardly move them out of the way.
Over at the ferry though, things were just as tedious. There was a full load of vehicles on the back. The pair touched down gently on the weirdly empty pedestrian area.
“Do you know how to drive a ferry?” Arksi asked as he followed Verlais’s lead.
“I’ve driven a boat before. Not a ferry though. Shouldn’t be too hard to work out.”
Verlais quickened his pace as he worked out which way the ship’s controls were located. Arksi though had slowed down.
“Is there something wrong?”
“There’s something here…” Arksi sped up and ran past Verlais. “… I don’t know… We need to get this ship moving.”
Verlais chased after Arksi, who almost flew into the control room, before skidding to a halt.
“Arksi? What’s wrong? You look spooked!”
Arksi glanced around the room for any sort of weapon. “I saw it. Or where it should have been. A Zonta.”
Verlais growled. “We’ll fight it. We’ll kill it. But how did it even get here?”
The Rethan wasn’t listening. Instead, he had found a fire axe and was focused on the doorway from which they’d just entered.
“Get the ship moving. I’ll keep it at bay. I’ve done this before.”
“Fine. I’ll close the door behind you and lock it though. If it gets through you, I’ll be defenceless as I pilot the ship.”
Arksi nodded then headed off. He closed the heavy metal door, then blocked it with a chair and a metal dustbin. Outside, a foghorn sounded. At least Verlais had found the important stuff.
The Zonta was still in the pedestrian area. That was where Arksi had sensed it. It wasn’t so much that Arksi could see it though. Zonta had always been monsters created by Deitics, and there were very few ways of accurately pinpointing them. The trick to seeing Zonta was to see the black hole where their minds should be.
Something crashed to Arksi’s left. This Zonta must have been either clumsy or large. Possibly both. It appeared, only for a moment, flying past Arksi and down a set of stairs. Arksi chased after it as it ran down a corridor and into a storage room. The room contained several Thanatians loading boxes, all of whom were frozen in place.
The Zonta homed in on the closest Thanatian, only to be pushed away by Arksi. He sealed the door behind him and swing his axe menacingly at the creature.
“Do not touch them!” Arksi shouted as he took a single swing, only to narrowly miss the Zonta. It bounced away and tried to have a nibble at the frozen Thanatian, but yet again, Arksi telepathically pushed it away. He then pushed the Thanatians to the back of the room and taunted the Zonta, distracting it from its helpless, would-be victims.
Angered by this strange, non-frozen mortal’s defiance, the Zonta charged forward. Arksi lifted his axe up to deflect the blow, and found himself skidding across the floor, through the door he had just closed and back into the corridor.
The Zonta had turned around, ready to jump back into the storage room and feast on the time-trapped Thanatians, but yet again, Arksi slammed the door shut.
“Leave them alone!” Arksi stuttered this time. The Zonta growled, then hesitated. There was a screeching noise over the intercom. It then went silent, only to be replaced with a door being opened and someone shouting.
“ARKSI, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?”
Immediately, the Zonta turned around and raced back upstairs, back to the control room.
On the shore, Kindyna was getting worried. The ship was coming in way too fast. The long drawbridge to get onto the ship was already open and ready for vehicles to dock.
“Something is wrong…” Ct’Era muttered as she finished moving vehicles and joined Kindyna.
Suddenly, the ship hit the shore with a loud crash. From the control room window, a large, black figure flew out and collapsed in a crumpled heap in front of Kindyna and Ct’Era. Without hesitation, Ct’Era grabbed the black creature, tore its head off and swallowed it.
“WHAT THE FUCK?” Kindyna screamed as she backed away from the Banikan.
“What?” Ct’Era smiled as she chewed through the body of the dead Zonta. “These particular critters are a delicacy back home!”
Kindyna shuddered as Ct’Era continued eating. “Okay… Let’s just get the truck onto the damn boat…”