Chapter 6:

Tighten Formation

The Blood Of Palken

  Wills could hear the monsters talking only a few feet from his hiding place. The words were delivered in raspy voices that chilled him to the very essence of his being. They were discussing how soft and easy to chew humans were. The conversation was beginning to turn his stomach but the sound of retching would alert them to his presence, he contained it. He really hoped that Chief and Whitaker were close. Bookmark here

  “Ahh!!!” Chief’s overly enthusiastic shout was music to his ears. Bookmark here

  The multiple shotgun blasts that followed were shocking and loud. Palken brains sprayed over the concession stand, splattering Wills in the face. “Shit,” he jumped to his feet as Chief, Whitaker and Nora walked into view.Bookmark here

  Chief wore a mile wide grin that showed he was clearly enjoying this. Whitaker was alert, and Nora was covered in more gunk than he was.Bookmark here

  Nora ran up and threw her arms around him.Bookmark here

  “You guys saved Nora? That’s great!”Bookmark here

  Nora hugged him tighter.Bookmark here

  Whitaker hadn’t realized it until that moment, but he might’ve been a little jealous of the attention that his friend received from Nora. He cleared his throat. “We haven’t seen anyone else on staff.”Bookmark here

  Wills was about to say something but Chief cut him off.Bookmark here

  “Alright everyone that’s enough grab-ass. We gotta go.”Bookmark here

  Wills looked sideways at Chief.Bookmark here

  “He’s been like this since we were first attacked,” Whitaker told him. “Hey Chief, you aren’t in an eighties action movie!”Bookmark here

  Just then Wills saw the heat they were packing. “Jesus Chief, you had two semi-automatic combat shotguns in your truck? That’s... insane man.”Bookmark here

  “Don’t worry bud, I got one for you too. For now just use this.” Chief handed him a .44 magnum.Bookmark here

  Wills looked at it uncertainly. “Wow this is big. Why do you own this?”Bookmark here

  Chief laughed the question off.Bookmark here

  Whitaker nodded his head. “ I know right, he’s a little crazier than we thought man.”Bookmark here

  “Nonsense! Let’s move out.”Bookmark here

  Whitaker turned to Wills. “We’re going to be calling him General soon. Come on.”Bookmark here

  Wills took Nora by the hand and smiled. “You heard ‘em.”Bookmark here

  “Right,”Bookmark here

  The security squad stealthily made their way to the parking garage.Bookmark here

  At first glance it appeared to be empty but something told Whitaker to stop.Bookmark here

  “Chief, something’s down here.”Bookmark here

  “Okay squad, tighten formation.”Bookmark here

  The four of them walked cautiously forward.Bookmark here

  “How far Chief?” Wills asked.Bookmark here

  “It’s here on level one, not far now.”Bookmark here

  “Thank god.” Nora couldn’t wait to get out of the stadium. Work wasn’t supposed to be fun but it certainly wasn’t supposed to be deadly, and she was already sick of it.Bookmark here

  The squad made it a little further, Chief’s truck was in sight.Bookmark here

  “There it is.”Bookmark here

  For one glorious moment they all thought they’d be able to jump in and drive away. Their hopes of course were dashed.Bookmark here

  “Grrr...” A low growl reverberated throughout the structure.Bookmark here

  Nora froze. “Wills,”Bookmark here

  “Yeah, I heard it.”Bookmark here

  There was a deafening roar and a car that was about fifteen feet away from them suddenly flew through the air.Bookmark here

  It was the biggest monster they’d seen so far, it looked like an ogre from a fairy tale.Bookmark here

  The ogre-like Palken roared again while raising its left arm above its head. Instead of a clawed hand as expected, the monster’s arm ended in a large chunk of bone, there was no elbow.Bookmark here

  “Scatter!” Chief jumped as the club smashed into the pavement he had been standing on.Bookmark here

  He rolled then began firing.Bookmark here

  Whitaker joined him.Bookmark here

  Wills and Nora hung back to observe.Bookmark here

  Shells bounced off of the Palken’s body.Bookmark here

  “Um...” Chief was stuck.Bookmark here

  “Run idiot!” Nora shouted.Bookmark here

  The squad attempted to retreat with their attacker close behind.Bookmark here

  “What now Chief?” Bookmark here

  There was another loud roar.Bookmark here

  Wills stumbled but Nora retained her grip and pulled him forward.Bookmark here

  The Palken was upon the two of them, it swung its arm.Bookmark here

  “No!” Chief quickly put himself between them and used his shotgun to block the hit.Bookmark here

  The last thing he saw was his own gun barrel coming straight for his face.Bookmark here

  “Chief!” Whitaker launched himself at the monster.Bookmark here

                                                                             ~~~Bookmark here

  The screams within the department store had died out some time ago but the monsters hadn’t come out yet. Apparently they were slow eaters. As you’d imagine the crawl space was cramped and uncomfortable and Erica surely wished the damned things would leave already.Bookmark here

  “Paul, how long has it been?”Bookmark here

  “At least twenty minutes.”Bookmark here

  “Unghh, they have to be done soon right?”Bookmark here

  “Why are you asking me? They’re monsters.”Bookmark here

  Just then two Palken lumbered out of the store and looked up and down the street, there was no movement. One grunted and walked off, the other followed.Bookmark here

  “They finally left.”Bookmark here

  “Good, my legs are killing me in here.”Bookmark here

  “Me too, let’s give it a minute or two before we go back out there though.”Bookmark here

  “Yeah, that’s probably smart.”Bookmark here

  They waited closer to five before exiting the crawl space. That area of the city was completely silent, the destruction was unimaginable and the amount of dead bodies was horrifying.Bookmark here

  A shiver went down Erica’s spine. She was startled when Paul touched her arm.Bookmark here

  “You still with me?”Bookmark here

  “Yeah, sorry babe. I was a million miles away for a second.”Bookmark here

  “I understand Erica, try and keep it together though, I’m useless without you.” Bookmark here

  Paul said the words in an effort to comfort her but the pang of guilt he felt told him that they hit a little too close to home.Bookmark here

  She shook her head. “I’m back, I swear, I was just feeling sorry for myself.”Bookmark here

  Her statement was like a punch in the gut. “I get it.” Paul rubbed his wounds thoughtfully.Bookmark here

  Erica saw the expression on his face and mistook it for worry. We’re making it out of this Paul.”Bookmark here

  “Of course we are! We’re tough right?” He was never a poker player so he never had the chance to learn the art of the bluff.Bookmark here

  “Hey don’t be like that. If we’re not now then we sure will be.”Bookmark here

  Paul sighed. He knew she was right, it was either that or be killed. “I think we should find weapons.”Bookmark here

  “Yeah, we need big guns and stuff.”Bookmark here

  “Girl, I’m sure you’d do just fine with nothing but a sledgehammer.”Bookmark here

  Erica considered this. “Damn straight.”Bookmark here

  He was relieved to see her regain some of her composure. “I think Hammer Time Hardware is only a few blocks up.”Bookmark here

  “Let’s go shopping.”Bookmark here

  Hammer Time Hardware was in surprisingly good shape. Erica went straight for the hammers but Paul was still undecided. He wasn’t sure what would suit him best, he just knew that it wasn’t the cheap hammer in his bag.Bookmark here

  Paul decided on an axe, he figured he should take a page out of Erica’s book and keep it simple.Bookmark here

  He returned to find her swinging her new toy. “You sure about that? I was mostly kidding you know.”Bookmark here

  “It’s heavy but I think I’m strong enough.”Bookmark here

  She then grabbed two thin tool belts and stuck a ball-peen hammer in each.Bookmark here

  Paul was again struck by her fortitude.Bookmark here

  “What did you pick? Ooh, an axe. Nice.”Bookmark here

  Paul posed for her. “You like?”Bookmark here

  “You should get a belt and a hatchet too.”Bookmark here

                                                                                 ~~~Bookmark here

  Strup grunted in frustration as he wiped blood from his face, his left eye was gone and the flow would not stop. Even in his enhanced form, Rox was tearing him apart.Bookmark here

  For his part, Rox was finally having fun. “Come at me Strup!”Bookmark here

  “Curse you Prince!”Bookmark here

  “Are you going to just let me eat you?”Bookmark here

  “Priiiiiince!!!” Strup took the bait and slammed his body into him.Bookmark here

  Rox accepted the blow then climbed up onto him.Bookmark here

  Strup was humiliated. “Get off of me!”Bookmark here

  Rox began chewing on his back with a grimace. “On second thought Strup I won’t eat you, you’re disgusting.”Bookmark here

  The humiliation was unbearable. Strup rolled over, grinding Rox into the pavement.Bookmark here

  “Well Strup, I don’t find this fun anymore.” Rox dug his claws in and gripped tightly.Bookmark here

  Strup felt a growing heat on his back. “What?” The heat became worse. “No!!!” He fought violently to get free.Bookmark here

  Rox fanned the flames of his inner furnace, raising his temperature higher than ever before. His entire body was a red hot coal.Bookmark here

  Strup died in agony as the top half of his body melted away.Bookmark here

  Rox stood and stepped away from the remnants of his enemy. The heat burned off any leftover Strup and he allowed himself to cool down. The red of his skin gradually returned to its original color of granite and he gave a howl of triumph.Bookmark here

  Alex, Sensei Tainaka, Nick, and Timothy watched the fight from the alley. By the time the stench of burning flesh hit them they were slack jawed.Bookmark here

  Nick’s shout broke the tension. “Yeah! Go Rock Guy!”Bookmark here

  Alex was amazed. “That was incredible.”Bookmark here

  “It looked like a coal.” Sensei Tainaka mused.Bookmark here

  Rox was looking up the street where he had left the children.Bookmark here

  “Rock Guy, we’re over here!.” Timothy called.Bookmark here

  Alex whipped his head around. “Hey, wait...”Bookmark here

  Rox ran over to the alley.Bookmark here

  Sensei Tainaka’s eyes widened. “Um...hello...”Bookmark here

  Rox looked from Nick to Timothy, they didn’t appear to be injured any further. These other humans seemed non threatening. Bookmark here

  Two of them smelled familiar.Bookmark here

  Alex wasn’t sure what to think as Rox began sniffing him. “Excuse me...”Bookmark here

  “Brother,” was all he said.Bookmark here

  “What? No I don’t have a brother.”Bookmark here

  “We have the same father.”Bookmark here

  “Wait, you’re saying that we’re brothers?”Bookmark here

  “Correct, you’re also of Palken.”Bookmark here

  “...” Alex was speechless.Bookmark here

  “Rock Guy, you know him?” Timothy asked.Bookmark here

  “No, but I know that he is Palken, I can smell it.”Bookmark here

  “What’s Palken?” Bookmark here

  “It’s what I am, it’s my world.”Bookmark here

  Nick giggled. “You got that written down somewhere?”Bookmark here

  Rox didn’t respond, he was now sniffing Terra. “Sister,”Bookmark here

  “Sister!” Alex spat. “Okay man tell me what’s going on here.”Bookmark here

  “This human also has the same father.”Bookmark here

  “This is crazy.”Bookmark here

  “Alex, be calm. For the moment we’re safe, our group has grown some, introductions first.”Bookmark here

  They all introduced themselves.Bookmark here

  “You’re name’s Rox?” Timothy asked.Bookmark here

  Alex chuckled. “Kind of on the nose don’t you think?”Bookmark here

  “Don’t be rude.”Bookmark here

  “Sorry Sensei. Okay Rox, so you and all of these other monsters are from Palken.”Bookmark here

  “Where is Palken anyway?” Nick asked.Bookmark here

  “I don’t know, far from Earth.”Bookmark here

  “How did you get here? Where’s your ship?” Even with an injured leg Timothy had it in him to be enthusiastic.Bookmark here

  “Ship?”Bookmark here

  “How did you get here then?”Bookmark here

  “There are gates that connect our worlds.”Bookmark here

  “Fascinating, and why have you come?”Bookmark here

  “Our father, the Lord Dragon is a powerful but rational ruler. Our elder sister Ember, thinks him weak for not conquering everything. Dissatisfied with the state of affairs, she decided to rule over her own world, she came to Earth.”Bookmark here

  “Why Earth?”Bookmark here

  “My father told us many tales of your world and its people, you’re soft. Ember knew she could be victorious.”Bookmark here

  “So then Ember brought the other Palken to aid in her subjugation. How many are there?”Bookmark here

  “She brought four spikes with her.”Bookmark here

  “What’s a spike Rox?”Bookmark here

  “One hundred Palken.”Bookmark here

  Alex jumped. “There’s four hundred of those monsters here!”Bookmark here

  Timothy took hold of Nick’s hand. “That’s too many.”Bookmark here

  “The whole city is going to be wiped out.”Bookmark here

  “Rox, is there any way to get them back home?”Bookmark here

  “Doubtful Tainaka, we’d need to force each one back through the gate.”Bookmark here

  Alex sighed. “Or kill them all. Maybe the army will get here soon.”Bookmark here

  “If you aren’t here to help our people then why have you come?”Bookmark here

  “I was sent for Father’s progeny.”Bookmark here

  Sensei Tainaka’s patience was growing thin. “We understand that Rox. Why though, to save them?”Bookmark here

  “To bring them to our father.”Bookmark here

  “I’m not going to another planet.”Bookmark here

  “Palken is in another dimension.”Bookmark here

  “That’s comforting, thank you Rox.”Bookmark here

  “You’re welcome.” He picked up the still unconscious Terra and slung her over his shoulder. “Come, follow me to the gate.”Bookmark here

  “Be careful with her, you’re a rock! And I’m not leaving, I have to check on Mom and I have to get Sensei there. I can’t just go.”Bookmark here

  “We must.”Bookmark here

  “I’m not going to run away.”Bookmark here

  “You aren’t running Alex. You must go to the mountain so that Father may light your inner fire.”Bookmark here

  “Rox, you can’t take Alex and Terra and just leave me here with the kids, at least help us to Alex’s mother’s house.” Bookmark here

  Alex was filled with confusion and just wanted to get off the street.Bookmark here

  Timothy groaned in pain. “Nick, I need to sit down.”Bookmark here

  Nick turned to Rox. “Please help us.”Bookmark here

  “Ahh!!! What the hell? Put me down!” Terra woke up in the arms of a monster.Bookmark here

                                                                                  ~~~Bookmark here

  The Lord Dragon watched the scene unfold with interest. He felt that Rox always prolonged his battles unnecessarily, he should simply use the fire within from the start and lay waste to his enemies immediately. Rox enjoyed playing a little too much for his taste but that no longer mattered, he had finally met his other siblings.Bookmark here

  Soon the Lord Dragon would light the fire inside of his children and the pieces would be in place.Bookmark here

  Which outcome is more likely? Ember’s conquest or her defeat.Bookmark here

  The bigger question though, would it go the way that he desired?Bookmark here

Joe Gold
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