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.
“Ahh!!!” Chief’s overly enthusiastic shout was music to his ears.
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.
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.
Nora ran up and threw her arms around him.
“You guys saved Nora? That’s great!”
Nora hugged him tighter.
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.”
Wills was about to say something but Chief cut him off.
“Alright everyone that’s enough grab-ass. We gotta go.”
Wills looked sideways at Chief.
“He’s been like this since we were first attacked,” Whitaker told him. “Hey Chief, you aren’t in an eighties action movie!”
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.”
“Don’t worry bud, I got one for you too. For now just use this.” Chief handed him a .44 magnum.
Wills looked at it uncertainly. “Wow this is big. Why do you own this?”
Chief laughed the question off.
Whitaker nodded his head. “ I know right, he’s a little crazier than we thought man.”
“Nonsense! Let’s move out.”
Whitaker turned to Wills. “We’re going to be calling him General soon. Come on.”
Wills took Nora by the hand and smiled. “You heard ‘em.”
The security squad stealthily made their way to the parking garage.
At first glance it appeared to be empty but something told Whitaker to stop.
“Chief, something’s down here.”
“Okay squad, tighten formation.”
The four of them walked cautiously forward.
“How far Chief?” Wills asked.
“It’s here on level one, not far now.”
“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.
The squad made it a little further, Chief’s truck was in sight.
“There it is.”
For one glorious moment they all thought they’d be able to jump in and drive away. Their hopes of course were dashed.
“Grrr...” A low growl reverberated throughout the structure.
Nora froze. “Wills,”
“Yeah, I heard it.”
There was a deafening roar and a car that was about fifteen feet away from them suddenly flew through the air.
It was the biggest monster they’d seen so far, it looked like an ogre from a fairy tale.
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.
“Scatter!” Chief jumped as the club smashed into the pavement he had been standing on.
He rolled then began firing.
Whitaker joined him.
Wills and Nora hung back to observe.
Shells bounced off of the Palken’s body.
“Um...” Chief was stuck.
“Run idiot!” Nora shouted.
The squad attempted to retreat with their attacker close behind.
“What now Chief?”
There was another loud roar.
Wills stumbled but Nora retained her grip and pulled him forward.
The Palken was upon the two of them, it swung its arm.
“No!” Chief quickly put himself between them and used his shotgun to block the hit.
The last thing he saw was his own gun barrel coming straight for his face.
“Chief!” Whitaker launched himself at the monster.
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.
“Paul, how long has it been?”
“At least twenty minutes.”
“Unghh, they have to be done soon right?”
“Why are you asking me? They’re monsters.”
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.
“They finally left.”
“Good, my legs are killing me in here.”
“Me too, let’s give it a minute or two before we go back out there though.”
“Yeah, that’s probably smart.”
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.
A shiver went down Erica’s spine. She was startled when Paul touched her arm.
“You still with me?”
“Yeah, sorry babe. I was a million miles away for a second.”
“I understand Erica, try and keep it together though, I’m useless without you.”
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.
She shook her head. “I’m back, I swear, I was just feeling sorry for myself.”
Her statement was like a punch in the gut. “I get it.” Paul rubbed his wounds thoughtfully.
Erica saw the expression on his face and mistook it for worry. We’re making it out of this Paul.”
“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.
“Hey don’t be like that. If we’re not now then we sure will be.”
Paul sighed. He knew she was right, it was either that or be killed. “I think we should find weapons.”
“Yeah, we need big guns and stuff.”
“Girl, I’m sure you’d do just fine with nothing but a sledgehammer.”
Erica considered this. “Damn straight.”
He was relieved to see her regain some of her composure. “I think Hammer Time Hardware is only a few blocks up.”
“Let’s go shopping.”
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.
Paul decided on an axe, he figured he should take a page out of Erica’s book and keep it simple.
He returned to find her swinging her new toy. “You sure about that? I was mostly kidding you know.”
“It’s heavy but I think I’m strong enough.”
She then grabbed two thin tool belts and stuck a ball-peen hammer in each.
Paul was again struck by her fortitude.
“What did you pick? Ooh, an axe. Nice.”
Paul posed for her. “You like?”
“You should get a belt and a hatchet too.”
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.
For his part, Rox was finally having fun. “Come at me Strup!”
“Curse you Prince!”
“Are you going to just let me eat you?”
“Priiiiiince!!!” Strup took the bait and slammed his body into him.
Rox accepted the blow then climbed up onto him.
Strup was humiliated. “Get off of me!”
Rox began chewing on his back with a grimace. “On second thought Strup I won’t eat you, you’re disgusting.”
The humiliation was unbearable. Strup rolled over, grinding Rox into the pavement.
“Well Strup, I don’t find this fun anymore.” Rox dug his claws in and gripped tightly.
Strup felt a growing heat on his back. “What?” The heat became worse. “No!!!” He fought violently to get free.
Rox fanned the flames of his inner furnace, raising his temperature higher than ever before. His entire body was a red hot coal.
Strup died in agony as the top half of his body melted away.
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.
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.
Nick’s shout broke the tension. “Yeah! Go Rock Guy!”
Alex was amazed. “That was incredible.”
“It looked like a coal.” Sensei Tainaka mused.
Rox was looking up the street where he had left the children.
“Rock Guy, we’re over here!.” Timothy called.
Alex whipped his head around. “Hey, wait...”
Rox ran over to the alley.
Sensei Tainaka’s eyes widened. “Um...hello...”
Rox looked from Nick to Timothy, they didn’t appear to be injured any further. These other humans seemed non threatening.
Two of them smelled familiar.
Alex wasn’t sure what to think as Rox began sniffing him. “Excuse me...”
“Brother,” was all he said.
“What? No I don’t have a brother.”
“We have the same father.”
“Wait, you’re saying that we’re brothers?”
“Correct, you’re also of Palken.”
“...” Alex was speechless.
“Rock Guy, you know him?” Timothy asked.
“No, but I know that he is Palken, I can smell it.”
“It’s what I am, it’s my world.”
Nick giggled. “You got that written down somewhere?”
Rox didn’t respond, he was now sniffing Terra. “Sister,”
“Sister!” Alex spat. “Okay man tell me what’s going on here.”
“This human also has the same father.”
“This is crazy.”
“Alex, be calm. For the moment we’re safe, our group has grown some, introductions first.”
They all introduced themselves.
“You’re name’s Rox?” Timothy asked.
Alex chuckled. “Kind of on the nose don’t you think?”
“Don’t be rude.”
“Sorry Sensei. Okay Rox, so you and all of these other monsters are from Palken.”
“Where is Palken anyway?” Nick asked.
“I don’t know, far from Earth.”
“How did you get here? Where’s your ship?” Even with an injured leg Timothy had it in him to be enthusiastic.
“How did you get here then?”
“There are gates that connect our worlds.”
“Fascinating, and why have you come?”
“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.”
“My father told us many tales of your world and its people, you’re soft. Ember knew she could be victorious.”
“So then Ember brought the other Palken to aid in her subjugation. How many are there?”
“She brought four spikes with her.”
“What’s a spike Rox?”
“One hundred Palken.”
Alex jumped. “There’s four hundred of those monsters here!”
Timothy took hold of Nick’s hand. “That’s too many.”
“The whole city is going to be wiped out.”
“Rox, is there any way to get them back home?”
“Doubtful Tainaka, we’d need to force each one back through the gate.”
Alex sighed. “Or kill them all. Maybe the army will get here soon.”
“If you aren’t here to help our people then why have you come?”
“I was sent for Father’s progeny.”
Sensei Tainaka’s patience was growing thin. “We understand that Rox. Why though, to save them?”
“To bring them to our father.”
“I’m not going to another planet.”
“Palken is in another dimension.”
“That’s comforting, thank you Rox.”
“You’re welcome.” He picked up the still unconscious Terra and slung her over his shoulder. “Come, follow me to the gate.”
“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.”
“I’m not going to run away.”
“You aren’t running Alex. You must go to the mountain so that Father may light your inner fire.”
“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.”
Alex was filled with confusion and just wanted to get off the street.
Timothy groaned in pain. “Nick, I need to sit down.”
Nick turned to Rox. “Please help us.”
“Ahh!!! What the hell? Put me down!” Terra woke up in the arms of a monster.
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.
Soon the Lord Dragon would light the fire inside of his children and the pieces would be in place.
Which outcome is more likely? Ember’s conquest or her defeat.
The bigger question though, would it go the way that he desired?