Dark Realms 5: The Duchess of FelWord Count:
4017Brought to you by puzzleprompts
Wincet called everyone together in the Vision Cave. “We have a mission. The Duchess of Fel is going to attack the Metalis Alliance outpost on Greeda. We need to stop her.”
“It sounds like she’s doing us a favor so why should we try to stop her?” Jace asked.
“It’s because that outpost is in the middle of a human settlement.” Borne told them. “The humans are there to keep anyone from destroying the planet.”
“I get it. No one wants to kill all those people just to get at the outpost.” Jace nodded. “There are sickos on Earth that do the same thing.”
“What does a ‘sicko’ look like?” Nellis asked.
“They’re human but they are the lowest of the low. Cowards really.” Jace explained.
“I think every militia uses that tactic to some degree. I saw if far too often when I worked as a mercenary.” Tona put her hand on the knife at her belt. “Just point me in the right direction and I will take care of this. It sounds like she just needs to be taken out.”
“That wasn’t what I was suggesting. The Duchess of Fel is a resourceful woman. She wouldn’t hire a mercenary like you. She prefers to enslave her soldiers with spells and potions.” Wincet explained. “She’s been out there for years not causing any trouble until recently. She lost the love of her life. He was killed by the Metalis Alliance for not surrendering his vessel when told. They blew him and the ship up. That is why she is targeting them and Greeda is the most vulnerable of all their outposts.”
“She’s grieving. No one makes a rational decision when they’re grieving.” Dallys looked around the room and realized that everyone there knew exactly what she meant. “What are we going to do?”
“I was thinking that one of you could go undercover and act as a saboteur on the ship while the others sabotage the weapons on the ground.” Wincet looked at Nellis. “I would send you in with a partner of course.”
“Why are looking at me?” Nellis took a step back from the group. “I’m not going to like this plan, am I?”
Wincet sighed. “The Duchess has a fondness for cats. If the stories that I have heard are correct, her ship is teeming with them. Nellis you are the logical choice. She won’t be able to resist another cat.”
“I’m a Caspirian shape shifter, now a cat.” Nellis shook his head. “Cats run around naked, drink toilet water and lick themselves in public. No! Find someone else to do it. Tona can glamour into anyone. Send her.”
“Look Nellis, if you’re worried that some girl kitty will fancy you, it’s never going to happen.” Jace laughed.
“We need to give him a bath.” Tona picked something out of Nellis’ fur. He’s going to need a good brushing too. He’s sort of matted in spots.”
“Wait a minute! I haven’t agreed to this.” Nellis started to back away from the group.
Tona and Jace looked at each other and then tackled Nellis.
“Suck it up, kitten boy. You have a space ship to sabotage.” Jace said as he and Tona picked him up off the floor and carried him to the showers.
“What are we going to do while he’s on the inside?” Dallys asked.
“I want you to go in with him. Stay a point of light as much as you can and stay out of sight.” Wincet said. “Borne, I need you to monitor the communications of the outpost.”
“Of course.” Borne nodded. “I will search for the frequency now.”
“How are we getting on board a space ship?” Dallys finally asked.
“I will open a portal on the ship. It will be tricky but I can do it.” Wincet tapped the table. “Once we get the ship on the ground then I can portal you back from there.”
“I hope you’re thinking of landing it not crashing it.” Dallys looked worried.
“I am. I need to get my supplies for the portals. I will meet you all at the Travelers Bridge.” Wincet walked off.
“Borne, why do I get the feeling this is going to end badly?” Dallys looked up at the android.
“Nellis is unpredictable and illogical.” Borne confirmed her worst fears.
“Wonderful!” Dallys threw her hands up and went to get ready to leave.
It was almost two hours later when everyone assembled at the Travelers Bridge to leave. Jace and Tona were going to the planet to do surveillance and disarm the ground weapons while Dallys and Nellis were going on board the ship to sabotage it.
Jace and Tona walked through the first portal onto Greeda. They appeared just outside of the outpost and. had to take cover immediately.
Four soldiers from the Metalis Alliance came around the corner and almost caught them as they walked out of the portal.
“That was close.” Tona looked out from behind the crate they had ducked behind. She rubbed her sweaty hands on her thighs. “Wincet didn’t say it would be so hot here.”
“Too close. Borne didn’t say anything about patrols. This is going to be harder than we thought.” Jace pulled a dagger from his jacket. “We need to get to the control room and disable the weapons. We should do it quickly before we melt. This heat is unbearable.”
“Wait. I think I have an easier way to get through the patrols.” Tona put her hands over her face and whispered something when she took them away she looked like an android.
“Neat trick.” Jace smiled. “Let me guess. I’m the prisoner.”
Tona stood up and grabbed Jace by the arm. “That’s what they will believe.”
Tona was right. She marched Jace into the outpost and down the hall toward the holding cells without being questioned. Before she got to the cells, she took a left. There was a maintenance closet at the end of the corridor. She pulled Jace inside and turned on the light.
“Bloody hell! It’s just as hot in here as it was outside.” Jace wiped the sweat off his face. He looked over the circuits on the wall. “Now we need to find the power source of the weapons. Can you read any of this?”
“It’s the one to your left. It says pulse cannon.” Tona pointed to a large switch on the wall.
Jace laughed and moved the switch to the off position. “Who would have thought that when I left London I would be living like Doctor Who? Pulse cannon deactivated.”
“Who is ‘Doctor Who’?” Tona asked.
“One night, when we aren’t busy, I will tell you all about Doctor Who. Right now we need to stay quiet and out of sight.” Jace reached over and turned out the light.
Dallys and Nellis walked out of the portal into a cargo hold. They looked around and didn’t any crew. The only beings around were about a dozen cats.
“You’re going to have to shrink and walk on all fours to blend in.” Dallys looked him over. “They did a nice job brushing out those mats. You fur is really shiny.”
Nellis sighed. “They brushed me within an inch of my life. Nellis pulled at the yellow ribbon on his neck. “This is humiliating.”
“Nellis? Nellis is that you?” A voice across the room whispered.
“Did you say something?” Nellis looked at Dallys.
“No. It wasn’t me.” Dallys looked around. “I don’t see anyone.”
Suddenly, a black cat stood on its back legs and grew in size. “I thought that was you. I’ve been looking for you.”
“Izzie? What are you doing here?” Nellis asked. “I thought you were on Caspire.”
“I was but there has been a rash of disappearances and I volunteered to check it out.” Izzy looked at him. “I haven’t seen you look that pretty since we were in school. Love the ribbon. Yellow was always your color.” She turned to Dallys. “His mum would brush him just like that for portrait day.”
“Don’t tell her that. Why are you here? You’re not an investigator or anything.” Nellis asked.
“No but I am one of the ones missing a loved one. That’s you, by the way.” Izzie sighed. “What are you doing here and what was that thing you just came out of?”
“It’s a portal. That’s how we travel around.” Nellis nodded towards Dallys. “This is Dallys. She’s a part of the Dark Army too.”
“Dark Army? Nellis, what have you gotten yourself into now?” Izzie put her hands on her hips and glared at him.
“No time to explain it all now.” Dallys cut in. “Do you know where the power grid is? We need to disable the ship when it gets to Greeda.”
“Yes.” Izzie looked at Nellis. “You’re going to have to shift to get around. You might want to stay here and hide.”
“I’m a fae. I can make myself small and stay close to the ceiling.” Dallys took a deep breath and turned into a point of light.
Nellis shrank a little then dropped to all fours. “Let’s go.”
Izzie returned to her cat form and led them out of the cargo hold and down the corridor to the auxiliary power control room. Izzie returned to her normal size and waited for the others to do the same.
“No one is ever in here.” Izzie told them. “This is the backup to the backups but you can access everything on the ship here. Do you know what you’re going to do the ship to make it crash?”
“Hopefully, we are going to make it land not crash.” Dallys said as she went over to the control panel. “Watch the door, Nellis, just in case.”
Nellis nodded. He stood next to the door and opened it a little to look out.
“Nellis, where have you been?” Izzie asked.
“I stepped through one of those portals and I found myself on another planet.” Nellis glanced back at her. “There was a sorcerer there. He summoned us. He wants to protect the universe from dark forces. So I go on missions with the others and fix things.”
“Are there any other shifters with you?” Izzie asked.
“No. I’m the only one.” Nellis shook his head. “How many are missing?”
“Twenty. I found ten so far but they were dead.” Izzie put her hand on Nellis’ chest. “I was afraid I would find you dead too.”
“What killed them?” Nellis asked. He didn’t look at her hand on his chest. If he did then he would give away how much he missed her.
“They were poisoned. I don’t know who is doing it yet.” Izzie took her hand off his chest. “I came here after I heard about the Duchess and her cats. I was hoping some of the shifters were hiding out here.”
“When we get done with this mission, I want you to come back with me and talk to Wincet, the sorcerer. He will help you.” Nellis smiled at her. “We all will.”
“Thank you.” Izzie gave him a kiss on the lips.
“We are almost to the planet. It looks like I can turn off weapons and disable the engine from here.” Dallys raised an eyebrow at the two shifters that were gazing in each other’s eyes. “Nellis, did you hear me?”
“Huh?” Nellis looked over a Dallys. “Yes I heard you. Just do it.”
“Yeah.” Dallys wrinkled her nose. “This may get a little bumpy.”
On the planet below, Tona and Jace heard a commotion outside the door. Tona turned off the light and opened the door a crack to hear what was being said.
“Hurry to the weapons! There is a ship in orbit and they are about to attack.” One of the soldiers yelled to another.
They could be heard running down the corridor when Tona closed the door.
“They’re here. Now all we have to do is wait.” Jace wiped his brow. “And sweat.”
“This is too easy.” Tona frowned. “They should know by now that the weapons are off line. Borne would have figured it out by now. Why can’t they?”
“Maybe the upgrades in the newer models took some of their sense away.” Jace shrugged. “Borne seems almost human sometimes.”
Tona smiled. “Yes he does. We better make sure the weapons are really off line. We need to find a control panel.”
“Unless you can glamour me, I should stay here.” Jace said.
“Fine. I’ll be back.” Tona opened the door and slipped out.
On the ship, Nellis, Dallys, and Izzie were still in the control room. The ship had begun its descent. It was shaking and it felt like it would come apart any minute.
“Dallys, what did you do?” Nellis asked. “It’s going to crash.”
“No its not. There is plenty of time to bring the engines back on line.” Dallys looked at the panel in front of her. “I think.”
“Great! I’m going to die naked with a yellow bow around my neck.” Nellis sighed dramatically. “There is someone coming.”
Nellis and Izzie shifted into cats and Dallys became a point of light.
The door opened and a man picked up Nellis and Izzie. “What are you two doing in here? Did you get shut in by accident? I better take you to the Duchess. She wants you all on the bridge.” He walked out with them and closed the door.
Dallys took her normal form as soon as he left. She had to keep the weapons off line but the engines needed to come back on before they crashed.
Nellis resisted the urge to bite the man as they were carried down the corridor. He looked over at Izzie and caught her winking at him.
The man turned into a room at the end of a long corridor. The walls were covered in gold curtains and there were pillows all over the floor. On the floor near the large throne like chair were several dishes of food. Along one wall there were several men at control panels. Music filled the room from a woman playing a harp near the door on the opposite wall.
The man bowed. “Duchess, I found two more.”
“Ah! Bring them here.” A dark skinned woman practically purred. She took them from the man. “Come here my darlings, are you afraid?”
The man bowed and made a hasty exit.
The woman rubbed Nellis’ head then gave him a kiss on his cheek. She then gave Izzie a cuddle. “There is some nice fishy in the dishes. No worries now! Just have a nibble.” She put them down near several large dishes of something smelly. “Good kitties.”
A man standing near a control panel on the other side of the room called out. “Duchess, the engines are back on but the fuel is low. We are still leaking fuel. We have to land and fix the leak before we can continue with your plan.” .
The Duchess hissed. “Then find us a place to land. I will send in some soldiers instead. Either way that outpost will crumble. I will not be disappointed. I will have my revenge.”
“Now what?” Izzie whispered.
“We didn’t plan on her sending in troops.” Nellis whispered back. “I can’t get word to Tona and Jace about the change in her plan. This is not going to end well.”
Somehow, the crew of the ship managed to land without crashing them into a mountain. From one of the windows on the bridge, Nellis and Izzie could see that the outpost wasn’t very far away.
“We have to get out of here.” Nellis whispered as he looked around. “What is behind all these drapes?”
“There’s a door to the galley. We can get out that way. Come on.” Izzie led Nellis through one of the drapes to a door.
The door opened automatically and they found themselves in a large galley. There were tables set in long rows and the room smelled of cat food and steamed potatoes.
“I’m never eating fish again.” Nellis rubbed his nose against his shoulder. “This place reeks.”
“You always were a light weight.” Izzie led him to the door on the opposite side of the galley. “The soldiers will be going out this way. There’s a hatch at the end of the corridor. That’s how I got in.”
“We have to get Dallys first. We can’t leave her behind.” Nellis reminded her .
“Then we had better hurry. We can turn into birds once we are outside and get to the outpost faster.” Izzie looked up and down the corridor before she went through the door. “Stay close. This ship’s layout is a little confusing.”
Nellis followed as close as he could.
They got to the control room and opened the door. Dallys dropped down from the ceiling and took her normal form.
“I said it wouldn’t crash.” Dallys grinned.
“We need to get to the outpost and find Jace and Tona. The Duchess is sending troops in place of an orbital attack.” Nellis told her. “Izzie can get us out of here.”
Dallys took her form as a point of light again and followed them out of the room.
“This way!” Izzie led them down to the corridor by the galley.
By the time they got to the hatch, it was open and several soldiers were forming ranks on the ground beside the ship.
Izzie and Nellis shifted into turtle doves and took to the air with Dallys close behind as a point of light. They flew directly to the outpost.
Tona had found a control panel in a small room closer to the barracks. She was relieved to see that the weapons were down. She was just about to return to Jace when an officer caught her.
“Soldier, get back into uniform and report to your commander.” The officer ordered. “There are hostiles coming toward the outpost. You need to be ready to fight when they get here.”
“Yes sir.” Tona stood at attention and prayed that the officer didn’t look too closely at her.
“Carry on!” The officer walked off.
Tona breathed a sigh of relief and rushed back to where she left Jace. She opened the door and slipped inside.
“Finally! I think I’ve lost a stone while I’ve been in here.” Jace wiped his face. “Do you know if they managed to land the ship?”
“Yes and now the Duchess is sending her army to attack the outpost.” Tona grabbed him by the arm. “We have to warn the people around the outpost.”
“How do you propose we do that?” Jace asked as tona pulled him through the doorway into the corridor.
“They have to have a weather siren or something we can use to sound an alert.” Tona dragged him outside and looked up at the tops of the buildings. “There! That’s a weather siren. They have one on my planet. When it sounds the people go to their assigned bunkers to wait out the storm. I’m sure they have the same set up here.”
“How are we going to get there from here?” Jace asked.
Two turtle doves landed at their feet and turned into Nellis and Izzie. A point of light followed them then turned into Dallys.
“We are so glad we found you. The Duchess is sending her army to take out the place.” Nellis told them. “We have to do something.”
“We know.” Tona eyed the stranger. “Who is she?”
“This is Izzie. She’s an old friend.” Nellis introduced her. “She was looking for missing shifters on the Duchess’ ship.”
“Nellis, can you shift back into a bird and turn on the weather siren.” Jace asked. “We need to get the people to safety.”
Izzie laughed. “Of course he can. He and his troublemaking friends used to do it all the time.”
“I’ll be right back.” Nellis shot Izzie a glare before he turned back into a turtle dove and flew off.
“So, how long have you know our Nellis?” Jace asked.
“We grew up together. We were even engaged once.” Izzie smiled. “He has always been in trouble of one kind or another that was why we called it off. Shortly after that, he disappeared.”
Tona and Jace looked at each other and laughed.
“You realize they are going to tease him about that now.” Dallys told Izzie.
“I can’t believe kitten boy was engaged.” Jace shook his head. “Were you drunk?”
“I was in love.” Izzie smiled. “I still am or I wouldn’t have taken on the task of finding the missing shifters.”
Suddenly the weather siren came on and people started to pour out of buildings and head for the storm bunkers.
“We had better make sure everyone is down there.” Tona looked down the street. “Dallys and I will take this side you and Izzie take that side. She pointed east. Nellis can catch up with us when he gets back.”
A dove landed and turned into Nellis. “I’m back. I’ll go with Jace and Izzie.”
The groups split up and checked to make sure all the houses were empty on either side of the outpost.
“So Izzie who called it off? You or him?” Jace asked.
“Don’t answer that!” Nellis looked at Izzie. “He just wants more to tease me about.”
“Don’t ruin my fun, kitten boy.” Jace gave Nellis a little shove on the arm.
“Kitten boy?” Izzie giggled. “That’s cute.”
“When is the portal? I want to get out of here before the fighting starts.” Nellis changed the subject.
Jace looked at his watch. “We have a half an hour. Let’s get this done I don’t want to be here when they start either.”
Tona and Dallys walked through their side of the settlement. “Do you trust her?”
“She helped us get around on the ship and I think she’s still in love with him.” Dallys answered. “I don’t feel uncomfortable around her. Nellis promised we would help her find the rest of the missing shifters. So far she’s found ten and they were all dead. She thinks someone is killing them with poison.”
“We better keep an eye on Nellis.” Tona said as she looked into another house. “If there is a killer out there he could be a target.”
“Who would want to kill shifters?” Dallys shook he head. “They’re really sweet people.”
“Someone who thinks they aren’t so sweet.” Tona answered. “It’s all clear here. Let’s get back to the portal sight. We need to be clear of here before the fighting starts.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Dallys turned and followed Tona back to the alley where she and Jace came out of the portal.
By the time everyone arrived at the portal sight, the two armies had met a short distance from the outpost in an open field.
“I hope everyone stays in the bunker until it’s over.” Dallys said as she peered through a hole in the wall surrounding the outpost.
“The bunker doors won’t unlock for at least six hours if they are like the ones on my planet.” Tona said. “They’ll be safe.”
“What’s to keep the duchess from carrying out her original plan?” Izzie asked.
“The ship is out of fuel. I drained the tanks,” Dallys said. “She will either be captured or her forces will take the outpost.”
“Is this what you do all the time? Keep innocent people safe?” Izzie asked.
“Sometimes. Mostly we just annoy the bad guys.” Nellis laughed.
“Wincet better be on time the heat is killing me.” Jace looked at Nellis and Izzie. “Why aren’t you two melting?”
"It gets hotter than this on Caspire." Izzie sighed. “This feels like early summer.”
“Late spring.” Nellis corrected her.
Jace rolled his eyes.
The portal appeared in the alley. One by one they stepped through until it was just Nellis and Izzie,
“Is it safe?” Izzie asked nervously.
“Here, hold my hand.” Nellis took her hand. “Just step through. It’s that simple.”