The agents’ helicopter flew toward the island of Voyo, looking for a place to land. Jungle stretched as far as the eye could see, with the canopy blocking out any view of the ground below. The only parts of the island that weren’t covered in trees were the beaches and the volcano in the middle of the island. They couldn’t really land on the volcano, so Agent Jackson decided to land on the nearest beach.
“So this is the island that my father was so fond of,” Tyler said as he stepped out of the helicopter. He had waited behind during the battle at Dr. Evileye’s base, so it felt good to finally get out of the helicopter. He stood on the beach and soaked in the humid air from the nearby jungle, the bright sun shining overhead, and the salty smell from the ocean.
Hunter looked from one side of the beach to the other. He saw a pair of discarded life jackets lying on the sand forty feet away. “Guys, I think those were Isaac’s and Ellie’s life jackets!”
Hunter ran over to the life jackets to get a better look. They were of a small size, built to fit around a first-grader’s body. Hunter looked around for footprints, but there weren’t any. The tides had long washed away any impressions left in the wet sand, and the dry sand was too uneven to make out any footprints.
“Well, at least we know your siblings are here,” Pyras said as he, Hydras, Terras, Glacias, Tyler, Kylie, and the four spies came up to him.
“You guys don’t know anything about tracking, do you?” Hunter asked.
“I know some stuff,” said Tyler. “I can’t know for sure how long ago your brother and sister washed up here, but if we go into the trees, then I might be able to find some clues.”
So they started toward the trees, hoping that they would find some sign of Isaac or Ellie. But as the sand was turning to dirt, they heard someone calling out to them. They turned to see a tall, biomechanical warrior running in their direction. His color scheme was mostly black, with a rusty gray chestplate and shoulder armor. On his head, he wore a helmet/mask combination that was so round, it was almost spherical. On top of his helmet was a tall, sharp ridge shaped like a scythe blade welded to the helmet. In his hands, he carried a long scythe with a thick, sharp blade attached to the end.
“Pyras! Terras! Hydras!” the warrior called. His voice was a deep baritone with a growling undertone.
The four Elemental Masters turned to face the warrior. “Scythax,” said Pyras. “It’s been a while.”
“Yes, it has,” said the warrior. “I take it you’re here to deal with Tenebris?”
“We are,” said Pyras. “And to find a few of our friends’ family members.”
The warrior looked at the seven humans accompanying the Elemental Masters. “So you’re travelling with humans…” he said.
“Oh-we need introductions,” said Hydras. “This is Tyler Kane, and Kylie Krout. And this is Hunter Brooks, the Outsider.”
The warrior nodded. “I’ve heard of all of you,” he said.
“This is Scythax,” said Glacias. “He was part of Claritas’ cult that worshipped Light and fought with us against Tenebris. He’s the jailer for the rogue Elemental Masters that are imprisoned here on Mahra.”
“Was,” said Scythax. “Tenebris came into my prison, disguised as one of my guard robots, and he freed all of my prisoners. He and the rogue Elemental Masters destroyed all of my guard robots and forced me out of there.”
“I would’ve thought they’d have killed you,” said Terras. “Not that I’m complaining.”
“Oh, they tried,” said Scythax. “But I was able to escape. I’ve been living undercover in the jungle ever since, spying on my enemies and plotting ways to deal with them. But I’m glad you’re here to help.”
“Hold on,” said Hunter. “I’m not here to fight Tenebris or whatever. I’m here to find my brother and sister.”
“Your brother and sister,” said Scythax.
“Yes,” said Hunter. “They’re both six. Have you seen anyone or anything wash up on this beach in the past few hours?”
“The only activity on this beach today was your helicopter landing,” said Scythax.
“Well, then, haven’t you seen anyone who isn’t an islander or rogue Elemental Master roaming around the jungle?”
“I actually did,” said Scythax. “It was a human boy and girl, six years old like you said. The boy was wearing a gray shirt and blue shorts, and the girl had a purple nightgown.”
“Yes. That’s them!” Hunter exclaimed. The attire Scythax described was exactly what Isaac and Ellie were wearing when Hunter put them to bed earlier that evening-in his world, anyway. Here, in this dimension, it was currently early afternoon.
“Ah,” said Scythax. “Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but they were found by four of the rogue Elemental Masters. I watched as they bound them and took them off to Tenebris. I would’ve tried to rescue them, but they outnumbered me.”
“Well, then, where did they take them?”
“Probably back to Tenebris’ stronghold,” said Scythax.
“Then we have to go there,” said Hunter. “Can you show us the way?”
“Of course I can,” said Scythax.
“Right,” said Kylie as she turned to her agents. “Agent Jackson, you and the other agents get back to the helicopter and bring our captives back to the mainland.”
The young black-haired agent spoke up. “Uh, maybe we should go with you to-”
Kylie made a tsk-tsk sound with her tongue between her teeth. “Agent Giles, did you just question an order from your squad leader?”
The young agent pursed his lips, but forced out, “No.”
However, Kylie still felt compelled to answer his question. “If we keep our big helicopter sitting on the beach, then Tenebris will know we’re here. If Scythax saw us landing, then who’s to say Tenebris or the rogue Elemental Masters didn’t? Besides, if they come and break Dr. Evileye out of his prison pod…”
“C’mon, guys,” said Agent Jackson. “We’ll come back for them.”
As the agents went back to the helicopter, Scythax led Hunter, Pyras, Hydras, Tyler, Terras, Glacias, and Kylie into the jungle. They trudged their way through the thick, green undergrowth. “You see, after Tenebris broke the rogue Elemental Masters out of jail, he converted the jail into a stronghold for himself,” Scythax explained. “And they’ve been enslaving the native islanders.”
“But they haven’t been successful, I’d imagine,” said Pyras. “The islanders swore sacred oaths to the Great Creators, that they would not divulge the Spear of Life to anyone. I can tell you, even I have never been entrusted with that information.”
Hunter turned to Tyler. “Did your dad ever find anything out?”
“He did not,” said Tyler. “Once he learned how important the protection of the Spear of Life was to the islanders, he refrained from asking about it, though he still harbored a curiosity.”
“Although,” Terras added, “There are rumors that the islanders hid the Spear of Life underneath their island, protected by a guardian more powerful than an Elemental Master.”
“Hogwash,” Glacias scoffed. “Those are just legends villagers tell to make each other’s eyes grow big.”
“Every legend has a basis on fact,” said Tyler. “That is something I have learned through trial and error.”
“Which raises the question,” said Terras. “What inspired this legend?”
“We’ll have to find out when the time comes,” said Pyras. “Right now…” He trailed off as Scythax held up his hand to stop them.
“Are we getting close?” Hunter whispered.
“We are,” said Scythax. “Stick right with me.”
They started climbing a series of hills where the trees started to thin out. As they reached the crest of the hill, they found themselves overlooking a large, tree-less valley. The valley was taken up by a fairly large stronghold made of wicked dark gray metal. The fact that it used to be a jail was obvious; the main building was large and shoddy with no windows, and it was all surrounded by thick concrete walls. Its overall appearance wasn’t as malevolent or “pure evil” as Lord Vulcon’s fortress had been. But it did have a front gate in the shape of Tenebris’ upper torso, arms, and head, which wasn’t a good sign. The gate’s statue depicted Tenebris reaching his arms out over the burning torches that stood on either side of the gate, as if he was using his powers to keep the flames burning. The head sculpt up top was as big as a baby killer whale, made from pitch-black metal and depicting a face so menacing, so fearsome, it immediately told any passerby that the guy in charge of this place was not one to cross.
“So that’s it,” said Tyler.
“It is,” said Scythax. “This should show you just how much of an ego Tenebris has.”
Pyras squinted at the stronghold. “Where does he keep the enslaved islanders?” he asked.
“In the former jail,” said Scythax. “I’ve spied on the rogue Elemental Masters, and it seems that they like seeing the enslaved islanders in the same predicament they were once in. Especially Clockas, and Sonas, and Toxas.”
“We-we have to save them,” said Hydras. “We can’t just let them rot away in jail!”
“We won’t,” said Pyras. He motioned for everyone to get in a circle. “Okay, troops, I have a game plan,” he said. “Scythax, Terras, Glacias, and Kylie, you go and free the enslaved islanders. Hydras and Tyler, you and I will accompany Hunter to find and rescue his brother and sister. That is, unless they have already joined the enslaved islanders.”
Hunter nodded. “Sounds good,” he said.
Tyler loaded his pistol. “I’m with you, bub,” he said.
“And once we’ve done what we have to do, we flee,” said Pyras. “We’ll rendezvous right here, on this hill. Everybody clear?”
There was a murmur of assent. “Right then,” said Pyras. “Let’s go.”
Hunter looked at the stronghold once again. Isaac and Ellie were both in there. Hunter was going to go in there, snatch them from the clutches of Tenebris, hug them both, and then slap them across the face for getting him into this mess.
The eight of them immediately charged down the hill and toward the open gates of the stronghold. Not surprisingly, there was only one rogue Elemental Master patrolling the front area of the stronghold. It was another female one, with poisonous green armor and a spiked flail for a weapon. It was Toxas, master of poisons. She froze in her tracks when she saw the charging group of heroes coming for the gates.
“Intruders!” she shouted as she started swinging her flail.
Unfortunately for Toxas, no one was in the vicinity. Pyras and Terras went right for her, ready to take her down. Toxas swung her flail at Terras first and knocked his combat drills out of his hands. She thrust her hand out at Pyras and sprayed him with a torrent of corrosive liquid that knocked Pyras off his feet. Pyras groaned in pain as he hit the ground. Toxas’ corrosive liquid was eating its way at his armor, threatening to reach the organic heart inside of him. Seeing this, Hydras stopped to spray Pyras with a shower of water. The water washed away the corrosive liquid, but Pyras will still feeling pain.
Meanwhile, Terras was still doing battle with Toxas. Toxas summoned an even bigger jet of poison to throw at him, but Terras was ready. He stamped his foot, and a slab of earth grew out of the ground and shielded him from the blast. Terras dove and somersaulted his way to his discarded combat drills, scooping them up and coming to a stop in a crouched position. As Toxas swung her flail at him, Terras spun his drills like mad and stabbed his right drill at the flail’s spiked ball as it swung toward him. Terras knocked the spiked ball backward, and it smashed into Toxas’ face. Disoriented, Toxas stumbled backward and fell over counting stars.
“You okay?” Terras called back to Pyras, who was still lying on the ground with Hydras looking over him.
“I’ll be fine,” Pyras insisted. “Just go. Help everyone else!”
Terras joined Glacias and Kylie in following Scythax to where the enslaved islanders were being held. The four of them ran toward the main jail building, which could only be entered by a small door on the side. They entered the door to see a line of about eighteen prison cells, each of which had a cluster of islanders locked inside. In the middle of all the cells was a door leading to an interrogation room.
“Scythax? Is that you?” one of the imprisoned islanders asked. He, along with the rest of the islanders, was about the height of a Voyo villager, with green metal plating, a mask carved from wood, and deep blue eyes.
“It is,” said Scythax. “We’re here to break you out.”
“And once we get your cells open, get out of this stronghold,” Terras added. “Get as far away from here as you can.”
“Enough talk, let’s get to it,” said Scythax. “Kylie, if you’ve got any lock picks, now’s a good time to use them.”
Kylie immediately got to picking the lock on the nearest cell, while everyone else used their own methods to break the cells. Glacias froze the lock on one cell in ice, then sliced through the lock with his sword. Terras used his drills to drill through the lock on another cell door.
The group had broke through five of the cells when an Elemental Master stumbled out of the interrogation room. He was a dark gray with dashes of black visible under his armor plating. His mask was rough and hard-edged, like a chunk of metal taken from a deposit. In his hands, he carried two large metal fists like those rubber Hulk fists kids play with. Except these were made of a hard, heavy metal that could crush through solid rock.
“What’s going on-” the Elemental Master broke off when he saw the islanders running from their escaped cells.
Terras started spinning his drills again. “Titanias, master of metal,” he said. “It’s been a long time.”
Titantias ground his teeth. “You’ve got some nerve showing your face here, brother.”
“You lost the right to call me brother a long time ago!” Terras said as he charged Titanias. He sent his drill hurtling toward Titanias’ chest, but Titanias was quick to respond. He grabbed Terras’ wrist and threw him against the wall. Titanias stomped over to Terras and repeatedly slammed his fists into him like Donkey Kong pummeling the ground.
It looked like Titanias would kill Terras, but Scythax stepped in. He swung his scythe at Titanias and hooked it around his arm. Scythax yanked Titanias away from Terras and hammered his torso with the butt of his scythe. Titanias swayed on the spot, but he was barely fazed. He clenched his fists as tight as they would go, and his whole body turned a darker shade of gray. Titanias turned his whole body into a solid, unbreakable metal. He charged toward Scythax, ready to flatten him into a metal pancake. But Scythax dove aside like a bullfighter and watched as Titanias slammed into the prison wall. He hit it so hard, cracks traveled up the wall and onto the ceiling. A piece of stone fell onto Titanias’ head and shattered into tiny pieces.
Titanias lost his concentration, and his body reverted back to its natural state. Scythax swung his scythe like a pickaxe and slammed it into Titanias’ chest. Reeling from the pain, Titanias fell against the wall as another chunk of the ceiling broke off and landed on top of him.
Meanwhile, Glacias and Kylie had entered the interrogation room and saw both Clockas and Attractas standing at a table, looking over a map. The two of them had heard the ruckus outside and drawn their weapons, and now they were facing both Glacias and Kylie.
Glacias was brandishing his double-bladed sword, but then his eyes fell upon the map on the table. He could immediately see that it was a map of Mahra, with various landmarks labeled in the language of the native islanders. If he could just get that map…
The keen eyes of Clockas followed Glacias’ gaze. “Oh, I don’t think so,” she said. She waved her hand, and time reversed around Glacias. He ran backward out of the room, directly to the spot where he had been right before he had charged in. Once Clockas had released Glacias, he started running in again. But Clockas was ready this time. She thrust herself in his way with her sword brandished, ready to impale Glacias. Glacias forced himself into such a hard stop, he slipped and fell. Clockas raised her sword over her head, ready to bring it down on Glacias. But Kylie, seeing this, pulled out her gun and shot Clockas in the back several times. The shots didn’t penetrate Clockas’ thick metal armor, but they inflicted pain nonetheless. Clockas angrily turned toward Kylie, who loaded her gun again.
But before Kylie could shoot, Attractas jerked her right combat hook backward. Kylie’s gun flew out of her hand like it was attracted to a magnet. Shocked, Kylie looked over at Attractas. “That’s my power,” Attractas explained. “Magnetism.”
Kylie pulled a taser out of her belt, but Attractas was ready for that, too. She telekinetically yanked it out of Kylie’s hand, sending it flying across the room. Attractas charged at Kylie and swung her hook at her. Kylie ducked out of the way and rolled under Attractas’ legs. She came up behind the rogue Elemental Master and kicked her in the back. Not bothering to look back, Kylie scooped up her discarded weapons and grabbed the map off the table.
“No!” Attractas protested. “Put that map back!”
Clockas, who had been advancing on Glacias again, heard Attractas’ words and whirled toward Kylie. She snapped her fingers, and time around Kylie froze. Kylie froze mid-step, still holding the map in her hand.
Glacias ground his teeth as Clockas turned back toward him. “You like freezing people so much?” he asked. “Then maybe you should be frozen yourself!” Before Clockas could respond, Glacias willed a huge block of ice to form around Clockas. Clockas strained against the ice, but it was too thick. At once, time around Kylie un-froze, and she started running again. Attractas tried to get in her way, but Glacias came from behind and slammed the flat of his blade against her head. Attractas grunted in anger and turned toward Glacias. Before Glacias could make another move, Attractas thrust out her left hook. Glacias, whose body was mostly made of metal, was hit by a repelling magnetic force from Attractas. Glacias was thrown across the room and into the wall, not too far from where Titanias had hit.
Attractas started to advance toward where Glacias had fallen, but she had forgotten about Kylie. Kylie came right up behind her and slapped a pair of handcuffs on Attractas’ wrists. Kylie then shot Attractas in the face, right in the middle of her forehead. The shot didn’t fully penetrate Attractas’ mask, but it hurt a lot no less. As Kylie ran out of the interrogation room, Glacias conjured a wall of ice inside the entrance.
“There,” said Glacias. “That should keep them in there for a while.”
Kylie looked around. “Is everybody out?”
“It looks like it,” said Scythax as he helped Terras stand up. After defeating Titanias, the two of them had got to busting open the rest of the cells. The last of the islanders were now fleeing the jail building, heading back out to the jungle where they belonged.
“Good,” said Kylie. “I got their map, too.”
“Excellent,” said Glacias. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Should we get Pyras?” Terras asked.
“Yes, I think so,” said Glacias. “We can’t afford to leave him behind.”
“But what about Hunter?”
End of Chapter 7...