Richard's Animorphs Forum

General Category => General Fan Fiction & Art => Topic started by: DinosaurNothlit on July 20, 2013, 11:26:03 PM

Title: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 20, 2013, 11:26:03 PM
Two notes about this story before I begin.

One: This is the sequel to Enter RAF (http://animorphsforum.com/index.php?topic=9219.0).  If you haven't read that story, this one isn't going to make much sense.

Two: TRIGGER WARNING.  This story will contain torture scenes, both described and implied, of several different RAFians.  If the idea of reading about yourself in that situation bothers you, please do not read.

Chapter One

It had been five years now, since that fateful day Queen had escaped from the internet.

Five years.  That had been all it took.

Five years to conquer the world.

It hadn't even been all that hard, with the Time Matrix in hand.  She had found, or possibly created, because in the end it didn't matter, the Yeerk fleet.  She had told them about a planet ripe for the taking.  A planet hidden at the edge of the galaxy, a planet they never would have found without Queen's specific directions.

After that (well, technically, before), she had pulled all the right strings throughout history to create a Texas that was increasingly hostile to the rest of the United States.  Giving the Yeerks a base of operations, a smaller and well-armed population to conquer, which then gave them the strength of numbers to move outward.  By the time the rest of the United States even realized what was happening, it was too late.

The Yeerks had conquered the world in three years.  Not bad, of course.  But after that, they hadn't wanted to share their world with Queen.

So Queen took to eliminating every Yeerk from history, who would dare to stand against her.  Visser Three went first.  Visser One.  A smattering of other Vissers.  Then she managed to discover the identities of the Council of Thirteen, and hunted them all down, one by one.

That had gotten the message across.  Well, once she had offered the Yeerks proof that those deleted Yeerks had ever existed.

The threat of being removed from history, not just dead but nonexistent, had been enough to make the rest of the population quake in their hosts.

And so the human race served the Yeerks, and the Yeerks in turn served Queen.  As it should be, she thought smugly.

Queen surveyed her domain, smiling an empty smile as she watched the sky darken slowly to a dismal reddish grey, ominous clouds blocking out the sun.  Her request.  She had wanted the world to look like it had been conquered, after all.  And the Yeerks, fearful of their capricious leader, had used all the technology at their disposal, to comply.

But, somehow, it wasn't enough.  She did not feel satisfied with this world.  No, the world that she longed to conquer was a different one.  Not a world of humans.  Not even a world of humans which now held a smattering of Hork-bajir and Taxxons.

The world she wanted, was a world of Time Lords and Realm Walkers, Andalites and dinosaurs and seals.

Where was that world?

She sighed.  She knew where that world was.  But there was something, unfulfilling, about ruling over a world she could never even see.  It just wasn't as real, somehow.  It wasn't as delightfully visceral, as it was to rule over this one.

Ironic, perhaps, that after she had wanted so badly to leave RAF, now she wanted to go back.  Now that she couldn't.  She wasn't sure why the Time Matrix wouldn't take her to RAF, but it would not.  Instead, it created an alternate universe version of RAF, where the RAFians only knew what Queen knew.  Which was, of course, a long way from being the same as the real thing.

She closed her laptop and got up, heading towards the top-secret, impenetrable bunker where her very most prized possession was stored.  She looked, with her left eye, into a gleaming silvery lens, which was actually an eye-scanner embedded in the door.  It subtly flashed several times in succession, confirming all the multi-dimensional layers of left eyes that Queen possessed.  For just a brief moment, she turned her head to look through the scanner with her right eye, and it flashed once more, just once this time.  All of her eyes were correct, and the door opened, letting her through.

Her right eye was, of course, just a mechanical device fitted into her skull, made to look like the real thing.  Granted, it was close.  Just close enough, yet at the same time, just enough somehow off, to make skin crawl.  A white orb with a metal shutter that looked almost, but not quite, like an iris.  Steel grey, instead of the brilliant emerald green of her natural eye.  Her right eye did not blink when her left did.

She had kept the scar, the interwoven pattern of lines on her face that looked like a cracked mirror.  Even though it would have been just as easy to have one of her enslaved plastic surgeons remove it.  No, it was a reminder.  A reminder of those who had betrayed her.  A reminder of the world she still longed to rule.  It was a promise.  A promise of vengeance.

Behind the door with its embedded eye-scanner, was another door.  This one with a fingerprint scanner.  It, too, scanned for all possible fingerprints, and confirmed that all were correct.  She punched in a code on the keypad next to the scanner, and the door opened.

She walked through the five Gleet Biofilters.  Each with its own, separate power source.  Just in case, unlikely though it was, something ever happened to one of them.  Or four.

Finally, in the very last room of this almost absurd chain of security, doors slammed shut in front of and behind Queen.  A scanner beeped, signaling that it detected no trace of morph energy.  But, nonetheless, the doors would remain shut for exactly two hours and one minute.  On the tiny outside chance that a morpher had discovered a way to shield their energy signature.  There was no way to override the system, absolutely no way to make them open before the time had passed.  The room was completely air-tight, no crevice or crack by which to escape.  As a final touch, a Gleet Biofilter was installed here, as well.

All of it most likely pointless, of course.  Queen was always extremely careful about never allowing anyone, or anything, to touch her skin.  One controller had accidentally brushed against her once, and had had the monumental bad timing to do so right before she had yawned.  She'd had him executed that day.

And, besides, it wasn't like anybody had ever even found an escafil device, anyway.  The Andalites, if they even existed, had never found out about the Yeerk invasion of earth, this little backwoods planet so very far away from their own homeworld.  No, they'd remained blissfully ignorant, in this timeline.

But, nonetheless, there was no such thing as too careful.  Not with this.  The Time Matrix.  It was the source of her unstoppable power, the thing that the Yeerks were truly afraid of.

The thought made her a little resentful, actually.  It was not her that the Yeerks truly feared.  It was a plain-looking off-white sphere.

Nevertheless, if anyone should ever steal it, she would be powerless.  They would find her origins and delete her from history, as she had done to so many others.

She stretched, settling against the cold steel floor as she waited calmly for the doors to open.  She didn't really mind the wait, strangely enough.  If there was one thing she had all she'd ever wanted of, it was time.

As much as she yearned to conquer her most hated enemies, those RAFians, she knew there was little point even logging onto RAF in this dismal future.  This RAF was a near-abandoned fortress of security, the few remaining members armed to the teeth and then some, after the attacks that had killed most of their fellows.  No, she could not conquer that RAF.  Although, of course, it was still mildly amusing to drop in from time to time, just to keep them on their toes.  They still couldn't do anything to her, after all.

But, there was another RAF, full of life and vulnerable.  And all she had to do, was go back in time.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 21, 2013, 01:46:40 AM
:awesome: AWESOME! It's started! Already a very interesting beginning. I really like the way you've brought out Queenas a multidimensional (no pun intended) villain.

This is an alternate timeline that she created, right? And the present RAF is another. Because the Multiverse Theory is coming to mind when I read this. Which, in a way, is true.

Torture scenes? Oh my. Now the s***'s really about to hit the fan. :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 21, 2013, 02:27:06 AM
Torture scenes?? This sounds like its gonna be fun...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 21, 2013, 02:30:04 AM
Fun? Suddenly you're scaring me.

Oi. Get yourself to the RAFparty. :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 21, 2013, 11:31:23 AM
I'm scaring you? how is that possible?

And I know! My mom took my iPod...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 21, 2013, 11:35:12 AM
I'm scaring you? how is that possible?

Find torture scenes fun. Wait... I find them fun too, but only when they're in well written literary form. :P

And I know! My mom took my iPod...

Ouch. I understand your pain.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 21, 2013, 11:40:10 AM
I'm scaring you? how is that possible?

Find torture scenes fun. Wait... I find them fun too, but only when they're in well written literary form. :P
Maybe I should lay off the sarcasm.
Quote
And I know! My mom took my iPod...

Ouch. I understand your pain.

Yep. I grabbed it this morning. I don't think anyone in my family is getting up until at least 10:00 am. We were at a fair until almost one in the morning. I'm amazed that I'm even up. Shoot. I lost control of n babbling. Dang it! Oh well.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2013, 06:29:32 PM
Be patient, both of you.  The torture scenes will happen soon enough.  *shakes head*

As for the multiverse thing, eh, that's close enough to the truth for current purposes.  ;)

Chapter Two

It was a time of peace on RAF.  For the first time after the events leading up to Pootang's attack and the destruction of the Swiss facility, there was really nothing much to do.  Almost nothing at all that needed to be done, except for the RAFians to enjoy the gifts they had been given.  Be it their powers, or their technology, or even just the chance to spend time among friends.

Most RAFians hadn't quite let go of what had happened in Switzerland.  Those memories were still too fresh.  And, at least it seemed, like they might always be.  But the RAFians were still willing to live their own lives.  Not forgetting, just moving on, anyway.

Those months were not devoid of action, of course.  RAF had never been, and never would be, a completely calm place.

The forum had, over the course of the past few months, suffered several attacks from the Banned, who somehow kept creeping their way into the forum, time and time again.  Mostly, the troubles came from Yorick, Aloth, and even the notorious Chimichanga.  Curiously enough, never Queen, though.  Not once had she ever attacked the forum, despite the many legends of her intense burning envy of RAF.  Thus far, no RAFian had even seen her.

Those RAFians who had noted that strange inconsistency, however, generally kept it to themselves, writing off the unsettling oddity as mere paranoia.  She was probably just scheming, behind the scenes, or something.  Scheming, that was the sort of thing Queen might do, right?

The remainder of the Banned, of course, were generally easy enough to repel.  The three of them were little match for most RAFians, at least directly.  A few of their schemes had taken the forum by surprise, that much was true.  But, thus far, they were still easily a manageable threat.

Even the Banned, though, had more recently begun to retreat in their prevalence from the forum.  Once again, it was an oddity that few RAFians noticed.  They'd never been a big deal, so who really cared if they were suddenly keeping to themselves?

More troubling, by far, were the divides that were slowly but ominously growing between the RAFians themselves.  Newer RAFians, those who weren't considered 'true' RAFians somehow, were often derided by those who had long-ago made a name for themselves within the forum, back when RAF was just a website.  Derided, and occasionally even bullied.  Or worse.

The true root of the problem, it seemed, was the fact that some RAFians had powers, while others did not.  It was difficult for any two people to look at one another as 'equals' when both sides innately knew that they weren't.

Most RAFians were kind-spirited enough that the differences between them didn't really matter.  Estelore and Cloak, the two RAFians who could stand unopposed if they ever wanted to, both hated the thought of ever bullying the less-powerful.

Other RAFians didn't really have hurtful intent, of course.  But many still had an unsettling tendency to bring up the subject of their powers in the case of minor arguments.  Some idle comment that they might think of as a harmless quip.  Like, "You realize I could just take your stuff if I wanted to, right?" or "Dude, you only got to do that because I let you."  They simply never considered how it felt from the other side.

A feeling of powerlessness.  That was all it took.  Whether or not the other side actually used their powers, that was unimportant.  It was like having a gun held to your head.  You didn't need to feel the bullet to get the message.

Richard had drafted laws, of course, to halt any outright transgressions.  "A RAFian cannot use their powers or technology to harm, or threaten to harm, another RAFian."  "A RAFian cannot use their powers or technology to take, or threaten to take, the property of another RAFian."  "A RAFian cannot use their powers or technology to alter, or threaten to alter, another RAFian against their will."  And so on.

Richard's laws were enforced most often by Cloak and Estelore, but Richard would occasionally step in if need be.  He still had the power to ban users, but, fortunately, it had never come to that.  Nobody knew what would happen if he did actually ban someone.  The Banned that existed in the Bannedlands were programs, manifestations of fiction, not users.  Nobody knew what had happened to the actual users, Yorick and Aloth and Chimi.  If they had ever even been innerworlders at all.

Richard had taken another measure, in case of the very most extreme emergencies.  With help from Goom, and by studying the strange glitch that was known to occasionally duplicate a RAFian's account, he had found a way to create back-up files of every RAFian.  Essentially, copies, held in a dormant state of virtual reality, of all of RAF.

The system had never been tested yet, thank god.  But, in the event of a RAFian's death, it was hoped, they could be recovered and brought back.  Nevertheless, they all hoped that they would never have to find out.

Nobody had ever really voiced it out loud, but most RAFians knew the true reason behind Richard's laws, and the backup system.  The once-monstrous, now unpredictable, child of Anna and Ken.  Po was growing at a rapid rate, already a toddler when he should still have been an infant, at only three months.  Although, who knew how fast a half-human half-Pikachu creature was supposed to grow?  He was about as 'normal' as anybody on the forum.

It was clear, young as he was, that Po had very little understanding of the difference between right and wrong.  Which was, admittedly, somewhat normal for a child his age.  Still, he was far too quick to want to destroy, to take, to hurt.  As though he took some amount of pleasure, in causing chaos.

It wasn't that he was evil, though.  It didn't seem to be that simple.  When he was scolded for his actions, he was sincerely contrite, as though he had simply not understood that what he had done was bad.  And he did desperately want to be like these people he looked up to, these gentle people who loved him, these RAFians.  But he just didn't quite know how.

No matter how many times he was told that horrible word "no" by the ones he adored, those destructive, malicious instincts would flare up within him, again and again.  Wires within Phoenix's time machine were frayed, bearing the bite marks of tiny teeth.  Seal was missing patches of fur where Po had pulled it out.  And Terenia was almost afraid to go back to the Yeerk pool to feed, for fear of being kidnapped and used for play-doh, again.

"Enough is enough," Goom muttered to himself as he worked on Phoenix's time machine.  His sonic screwdriver, a near copy of Aquilai's except that its light was tinged yellow instead of blue, buzzed and whirred as he fitted a new wire into place.

Goom had been spending much of his time apprenticed to the Time Lord, learning whatever Aquilai had to teach him about the workings of mechanical devices beyond the standard laws of physics.  He already had an instinctive knack for such things, and so it had not taken long at all to catch up to, if not perhaps even surpass, the Time Lord.

Goom was in his human form now, preferring the manual dexterity of fingers for this kind of work.

"He doesn't really mean it," Phoenix offered gently, as he watched Goom work.  "Po's just a little kid, he doesn't know what he's doing."

"He still should be contained," Goom said reasonably.  "He's putting the rest of us in danger because he doesn't know what he's doing.  What do you think will happen when his powers start to develop?  We have enough trouble with overpowered RAFians.  Let alone whatever he is."

"He is a RAFian," Phoenix countered.  "He's the child of RAFians, so, like it or not, he's one of us."

"So, what do we do when he finds out about his past?" Goom put forth.  "What do we do, when he finds out he's actually . . . a monster?"

Po didn't always understand everything people said.  He was young, and still learning about words.  And a lot of times adults used big words.  But he liked to hide and listen anyway, and sometimes he would catch enough for it to be interesting.

The fire-bird-man and the other one, the one who was sometimes a mushroom, they were talking about him.  That was interesting, so he hid and watched and listened.

But his face fell, as he heard what Goom had to say about him.  No.  No, it wasn't fair.  Po had never wanted to put RAFians in danger.

"I'm not a monser," he mumbled to himself, his young voice barely able to choke out the whispered words, and took off running.  The sound of his pattering footsteps attracted Goom and Phoenix's attention, but by the time they looked in his direction, Po was already gone.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 21, 2013, 08:14:46 PM
Awww... Sad. Poor Po. :(
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2013, 08:26:22 PM
And, here you guys go.  ;)

Chapter Three

Demos was jolted awake by the very sudden realization that he was not in his own bed.  Wait.  For that matter, he hadn't slept in months.

What was he doing waking up at all?

Panic took hold as he suddenly realized he could feel the cold metal touch of iron restraints on his arms and legs, bolting him to the steel table where he lay.  His eyes were immediately wide open, looking around, trying to figure out where he was.  But all he could see was metal.  Walls and shelves of clinical-looking stainless steel, lit by a harsh overhead light.

He tried to use his powers, tried to burn and melt the metal with his demonic fire.  But, nothing happened.  Something was blocking his abilities.

He fought through the panic and tried to think.  What was the last thing he remembered?  Surely, if he was being held captive, he must know how he was captured in the first place.

But, there was nothing.  No memory of any abduction.  Or even any kind of altercation at all.  He had gone in, earlier that day, to have a new backup uploaded to Richard's database.  Just in case.  He wanted to be sure to save any 'changes,' even though he didn't really think anything was going to happen to him.  He'd been bored, that was all.

That was the last thing he could remember.  Nothing else had happened after that, nothing that stood out as unusual at all.

His thoughts of trying to figure out what was going on, however, were soon interrupted by a figure entering the room.  The creature, his form split into merged layers like any fictional program, looked generally similar to an upright monkey or an ape.  But he had greenish-black reptilian skin instead of fur, and tiny stubs of horns growing from his forehead.  His claw-like hooves clattered against the metallic floor as he walked, and he swished his devil-like tail back and forth with eager anticipation.

Despite his predicament, Demos smiled.  He knew this creature.  Oh, yes, they had met before.

"ChimichangaChupacab ra," Demos drawled out, using his full name, like a mother scolding a naughty child.  "What half-baked scheme did you and your pals come up with this time?"

He tried not to let his fear show in front of the chupacabra, but he knew that, whatever was going on, this was far removed from being just another typical Banned plot.  No, none of the Banned had ever gone so far as to kidnap a RAFian.  There was something much bigger happening here.

Chimi snarled angrily, as though he'd been deeply insulted.  Strange, Demos thought, somewhere in the back of his mind.  He should have been expecting this.

"You serve us now, insolent whelp!" Chimi cried.

Demos laughed, and Chimi's snarl deepened.  "I'm a RAFian, idiot.  What the hell would make you think I would ever serve the Banned?"

For a moment, Demos could almost have sworn that there was a sense of confusion to Chimi's anger.  As though he really had been expecting something different than the reaction he was seeing.

But anger took over, as the chupacabra snatched a large bottle of water from the table.  Demos just had time to notice the sign of the cross etched on the glass before-

"AAAAHHH!" Demos screamed as the holy water hit his skin, sizzling like acid wherever it touched.  But he clamped down on the pain, and said, "Just because you splash water on me, you think I'm gonna turn around and do whatever you say?"

<Yes, I think that's exactly what's going to happen,> an icy thought-speak voice replied.  Aloth walked stiffly into the room, his Andalite hooves generating a metallic echo as he moved across the polished steel floor.  His anger was colder than Chimi's, but it was clear that he, too, was disappointed somehow by Demos.

"Join us," Chimi hissed furiously.

"Never!" Demos managed to snarl, but oh god that water burned.  "Where did you rejects even manage to get holy water, anyway?"

Chimi smirked.  "It helps to have friends in the right places," he said mysteriously.

Another splash, and again Demos writhed in agony.  His skin was already pockmarked with burns.  But, within those still-sizzling scars, a new skin seemed to be starting to peek through the ragged holes.  Flesh that was white as purest snow, a stark contrast against Demos's own crimson skin.

It wasn't bone.  Not even bone could have been that brilliant shade of white.

Aloth stared at Demos with all four eyes, looking very interested at this new development.  He punched some buttons onto a nearby monitor, an old-fashioned looking dusty computer screen with a correspondingly ancient keyboard, and for a moment he seemed to be waiting for a response.  He nodded curtly to the readout, and turned back towards Demos.  <Perhaps, if we cannot change your mind, we can instead change you.>

Aloth was holding a syringe of something clear.  Demos was sure that hadn't been in his hand before.

But then Demos saw something that made his heart stop.  The syringe was marked with a sign of the cross.  "No!  No no no no!"

<Yes.>

The needle shot fire inside his blood, except that even fire couldn't possibly burn this hot or this bright.  He screamed, but he couldn't hear the sound of his own screaming through the agony.  It felt like Demos was filled with light, but that light was pain, like white-hot laser beams shining, shining to escape his skin.  The brightness seared him, burned away the edges of his brain and left raw nerves that glowed behind his eyes.

He couldn't see anything, beyond the pain and the light that filled his body.  So he didn't see the last of his crimson demon skin burning away, like a leaf, crisping, in a fire of heavenly white.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 21, 2013, 08:46:38 PM
Aw crap. I dot like where this is headed.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 21, 2013, 09:49:11 PM
The only time good actually looks evil. This is brilliant.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2013, 09:54:36 PM
Aww, but Abby, weren't you the one who said that torture sounded fun?

And thanks.  :)

Chapter Four

Po kept running.  He slowed down only to hide from the occasional RAFian who might spot him running and realize something was wrong.  They would think he was doing something bad again.  They would be angry.  He didn't want them to be angry.  So he hid.

He was breathing hard, air coming in ragged gasps.  He wasn't really sure where he was going, but he desperately needed to go somewhere.  Somewhere, anywhere that wasn't here.

Did everyone hate him, and they just didn't talk about it where he could hear?  Did everyone, know, that he was a monster?

He spotted the Roleplaying Board.  As he remembered having visited the various places inside that Board, a thought occurred to him.  His mother had always told him to stay away from the Bannedlands, because bad people lived there.

Well, Po was a bad person, wasn't he?  He'd tried so hard to be good, but deep down, he was bad.  So he should go live in the Bannedlands.  With the others that were bad, like him.  The realization that that should be his home, wrung a small sob from his throat, but he told himself that he could be strong.

He ran inside the glass ship, and reached up on tiptoes to hit the button that would take him out there, far past the borders of RAF.

After several minutes riding along past the stars, a sight that Po had seen many times before but never quite grew bored of, the ship landed in that desolate place.  The Bannedlands was a scary place, but that was okay because maybe Po could be scary too?  He made a small growling noise, trying to prove himself scary, as he steeled himself and took a few tentative steps away from the ship.

Deep down somewhere in the back of his mind, though, he knew he wasn't really that brave.  He sniffled, wiping at the tears that were running down his face.

A nearby tree made a slight shuffling noise, as if in response to the sound Po had made.

"Who's there?" Po called out, trying to sound unafraid, but unable to hide the pitiful quiver in his voice.

"A friend," came the answer, an adult's voice.  The man stepped out from behind the tree, a human, but with layers of images super-imposed on one another.  Po had seen people like that before.  But he didn't know why they were different from the RAFians.

"Friend?" Po wondered, his eyes narrowed, suspicion layered over his natural childlike innocence.

"My name is Yorick," the stranger said, and Po immediately stiffened the moment he heard the name.

"Yorick?" Po questioned as harshly as he could manage, although the name still came out sounding almost like 'Yowick.'  "You're bad.  Mommy says Yorick bad man."

Yorick looked thoughtful, as though Po had brought up a good point, one that he had not considered before.  "Not bad, just different.  You know what it's like to be different, don't you?"

Po nodded, briefly unable to form words through the lump in his throat.  Yes.  Yes, he knew what it was like to be different.

Yorick settled onto his haunches, bringing himself closer to Po's level.  "I used to be a RAFian, did you know that?  RAFians don't really like people who are different, though.  People like you, people like me.  They kicked me out because, well, I just couldn't deal with it anymore, I couldn't fight the person I really was inside.  But it's okay.  It's okay to be the person that you are."

Po looked up at him, his head tilted, intrigued by this new point of view.  What if the bad man Yorick was right?  What if it really was okay to be himself?  Without worrying about what anyone thought of him?

Yorick went on, almost in a whisper now.  "And if people get hurt, that's okay too.  It's not your fault.  They deserve it, for trying to make you be like them."

Po pulled away, just a slight, instinctual movement, rebelling against what he knew to be wrong.

But, on the other hand, was it really wrong?  He wasn't quite sure.  A whining noise of pained confusion came unbidden from his throat, as the morals he'd been taught, fought against his own natural instinct for chaos and hurt.  Which side of his young, troubled mind, was right?

"Mommy," he whispered, trying to think what the one person he trusted most in the world, would do.  Mommy would say, it wasn't okay to hurt.  Wouldn't she?

"She's not really your mommy," Yorick said, softly, like he was confiding a deep secret.  "Anna?  No.  She made you up.  She just pretends, you see.  She pretends to be your mother.  It's all fake."

"No!" Po wailed, clutching his head in his hands.  "That's not true!"

"Yes it is, and you know it," Yorick practically purred.  "Deep down, I think you know.  People are supposed to look like their mommies, aren't they?  People act like their mommies, don't they?  Does Anna look like you?  Does Anna act like you?"

" . . . no," Po admitted.  "But . . . "  He couldn't think of what the 'but' was.  What reason Anna could possibly have, for looking and acting so utterly different from him?  Po knew he was different, different from all the other RAFians.  Why else would that be?

But, mommy was still his mommy, right?  The bad man Yorick, he had to be lying.

But suddenly, Po wasn't so sure.  He sobbed, and Yorick wrapped his arms around Po's tiny frame, comforting and warm.  The bad man Yorick . . . he didn't feel bad.  He was telling Po nice things.  Nicer things than any RAFian had ever told him.

Maybe the bad man Yorick wasn't a bad man at all.  If his mommy wasn't really his mommy . . . then maybe everything wasn't as it seemed.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on July 21, 2013, 10:16:38 PM
This sequel book is coming along quickly.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 22, 2013, 12:23:34 AM
Ya know, I meant that sarcastically...

Poor Po. No little kid should have to go through that. :(
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 22, 2013, 09:42:25 PM
Chapter Five

Dino swaggered through the forum.  Absolutely swaggered.  Feeling so full of herself was a pretty rare thing for her, but today was a great day.  And she was far too happy to care, that her head was now slightly unbalanced, listing a little to the right.

As she walked, she waved her head to and fro, making sure everyone could take a good look at the new piece of magnificent machinery she was equipped with.

She wasn't even quite sure why she was so darned excited about it.  It wasn't like she really intended to use it.  But, well, it looked cool.  And the idea that she could, someday, use it, that was cool too.  Maybe it would help in the next fight against the Banned.  That would be cool.

Parker followed along behind the overly enthusiastic dinosaur, taking readings through a portable instrument panel.  He was the one who had done most of the design for the instrument that Dino now wore.  Demos and Russell had also helped with parts of it.  The actual dracon, itself, that had been based on one of Russell's weapons.  The scope and the attachment mesh, that had been Parker.  Demos had mostly done the aesthetic touches.

The simple fact was, for a very long time now, Dino had thought about giving her RAFsona a head-mounted dracon cannon.  She'd always thought, well, something about an Ankylotyrannus with a laser attachment, that would be just generally awesome.  And, now that there was not really much else to do, why the heck not?

Saffa wheeled overhead, tilting her head in a curious gesture as she flew.  She laughed incredulously at the ridiculous sight that was Dino.  <Is that-?>

<Yep,> Dino replied, barely able to hide the grin in her thought-speak.  She'd have been actually grinning, if dinosaurs could.  <Pretty cool, huh?>

Steph, who happened to be passing by at the same time, gestured at Dino and commented, "That, doesn't even make sense."

<So?> Dino wondered.

"You know, you've always struck me as more the non-violent type," Steph countered.

<Hmm?  What's your point?>

"Um, you have a gun attached to your face?  What part of that, seems non-violent to you?"

Dino laughed.  <Steph, Steph, Steph.  It isn't about the fact that it's a gun, or that it could be used to shoot things, or whatever other silly things guns are generally made to do.  The point is, I am a dinosaur with a frikkin' laser.  How can you possibly disagree, that that is awesome?>

Steph held up her hands.  "Never said I disagreed.  That is kinda awesome."

Parker rolled his eyes at the exchange, before going back to calibrating his instrument panel.

<Still, why?> Saffa said, now barely able to stop laughing long enough to speak.  <Why on earth would you feel the need to do something like that?>

Dino shrugged, a gesture that was barely visible with her undersized arms.  <Weird as it seems, you know, I'm actually one of the more under-powered RAFians.  Most RAFians already have some kind of long-range attack.  Cloaky has his elements and his energy powers, Seal and Blue are both cryokinetic, a lot of RAFians have fire powers . . . but, with me, I have to be right next to an enemy to fight.  Which actually leaves me rather vulnerable, in a lot of cases.  And, well, I've always thought it was downright weird, you know?  That I'm a big huge imposing dinosaur, and yet, one of the weakest RAFians.  I mean, come on, I can't even get morphing powers.  Nothlit, and all.>

Saffa, who had landed on Dino's back while she'd been talking, nodded.  <Huh,> she commented, not really knowing what else to say to that.

This whole time, as she'd been showing off and chatting, Dino had also been wandering more-or-less towards a particular destination.  It was a good time to upload a new backup, she figured.  If she died, she wanted to save a copy of herself with the head-cannon.  Again, nothing better to do, so why not?

But, as Dino approached the small display, one of the few landmarks in RAF that was not inside one of the Boards, Saffa's sharp hawk sight quickly noticed something off.

<Uh, Dino?> she said worriedly.  <Something's wrong.>

Dino increased her speed, anxious.  Soon, she too could easily see what was amiss.  All her happiness was swallowed up in her throat, twisting into a sharp pang of fear.

<Guys?> she called out, taking a step back from the display.  <Goom!  Richard!  Somebody!>

<Impossible,> Saffa whispered.  <What happened?>

Parker stepped forward, taking a look for himself.  He almost didn't believe it.  But he knew that, as a computer program manifested into physical form, this screen was an exact representation of the data inside.  Incapable of displaying a glitch.

Richard simply appeared in front of the display, having just happened to see Dino's call appear as a post on his own computer screen.  He looked at the monitor, frowning.  His frown quickly turned to a look of alarm, as he considered all the possibilities.  What this might mean.

"The backups are gone," he said, disbelieving.  "How?  And, why?"

"You know perfectly well, why," Parker retorted coldly.  "Why would anybody delete the backups?  The only possible reason, is that they intend to kill us."

<That doesn't really make that much sense, though,> Dino pointed out.  <If that's the case, why not destroy the machine?  I mean, we made backups once, we can make them again, easy.  It'd be pointless just to delete them, without ensuring we can't remake them.  So, why?>

Richard's avatar began to type at the keyboard in front of the display.  In reality, of course, Richard was simply parsing through the coding behind the backup system he had created.

After a few minutes, he sighed, and said, "Well, that answers that question.  They've sabotaged the system.  It would take weeks to salvage it to the point where we could create backups again."

Parker nodded, and almost subconsciously shifted into a battle stance.  "So they do intend to kill us, then.  Well, it's about time we had a little action around here."

Dino, though, looked unsure.  In the back of her mind, she was wondering where the backups had actually gone to.  Had they only been deleted, after all?  Surely, someone who had the means and opportunity to sabotage the only thing that would protect the RAFians from death . . . it would seem that someone so well-resourced and determined, wouldn't just delete a source of information that could be so easily used against RAF itself.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 22, 2013, 09:46:28 PM
Chapter Six

Dino awakened suddenly with a sharp intake of air.  It made no sense, but she almost felt like she hadn't been breathing until the moment she had awoken.  Where was she?  What was going on?

She fought a sense of growing panic as she realized she was bolted down, unable to move.  Her body was lashed against the cold metal floor by thick chains.  She thrashed, tried to move, but only managed to squirm, the chains holding her tight.

She took a few deep breaths, trying to stay calm, and focused on changing size.  It normally took a moment or two, so it was a few seconds before she realized that nothing at all had happened.  Why wasn't it working?  What force could block her powers like this?

She strained to see where she was, but all she could see was metal.  Everything was stainless steel, new and shiny, like an operating room in a hospital.

Or a morgue.

She roared, putting all the strength she had into her dinosaur voice, hoping someone could hear her.

A muffled voice answered from beyond the wall.  It was loud, loud enough to be heard clearly, almost as if the wall weren't there.  But the voice didn't sound quite right.  Human, but not.  It had a robotic quality to it.  Like the voice itself was autotuned.

"EXTERMINATE!" the voice screamed, and the word had a rhythmic, almost sing-song quality to it.  But it sang an angry song.  A song of hatred and rage.  "EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!"  Repeating it over and over.  A chant, a mantra.

Dino shivered, trying to tune it out.  She knew what kind of creature sounded like that.  It was a creature from the Doctor Who universe, something called a Dalek.  Despised enemies of the Time Lords, and deservedly so.  They were creatures with no emotions except hate.  Creatures long-since deprived of anything resembling a soul.  Creatures who wanted to destroy all species but their own.  Creatures so hideous, inside and out, that that hid themselves away inside robot bodies, unable to bear the anguish of being alive and able to truly feel.

"EXTERMINATE!" the robotic voice still screamed.  "EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!"

But, the voice didn't sound exactly like a Dalek, either, Dino realized.  Close, but not quite.  Buried beneath the rhythmic autotune, was a screaming human voice.

Dino recoiled at the mere thought of it.  A half-human half-Dalek.  What a twisted horrible creature.

And what was even worse, there was something familiar about that human voice . . .

"Good god, will someone SHUT THAT THING UP!" a different voice suddenly yelled impatiently.  "We only just got him to calm down from his last 'exterminate' episode!"

She was thankfully distracted from her thoughts by movement out of the corner of her eye.  A familiar chupacabra paced into the room, breathing hard as he tried to contain his frustration.  "You," Chimi accused Dino.  "If you hadn't roared, this wouldn't be a problem!  You stupid infernal creature!"

He had a syringe in his hand.  Dino strained against the chains, trying to get away, but she knew by now that she wasn't going anywhere.

<Back off!  Stop!> Dino yelled, trying to sound threatening, even though she was terrified out of her mind.  <My friends will come looking for me as soon as they realize I'm missing!  They'll kill you!>

"I don't think so," Chimi said with a grin, twirling the syringe in his hand.  Thoroughly enjoying holding this much power over a RAFian.

<Oh, they'll kill you, alright,> Dino growled savagely.  <It won't even be much of a challenge.>

"No no, I meant the other part," the chupacabra said sweetly, milking the suspense.  "They won't realize you're missing."

Despite herself, Dino wondered what he meant.  <Why not?>

"Because you aren't."

Dino didn't have time to wonder what he meant by that, because Chimi was done chatting.  The voice could still be heard from behind the wall, still screaming "EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!"  The noise was obviously grinding what little patience Chimi had ever had.

The needle itself was only a pinprick, barely felt by Dino's tough hide.  But as its contents slowly worked their way into her bloodstream, she couldn't help but to roar in agony.  Every cell in her body could feel it.  The pain manifested as an intense pressure, like her body was being strained from the inside.  Bent and twisted until something had to break.

<What . . . have you done, to me?> she managed to gasp through the pain.

"Just a little extra DNA," Chimi crowed happily.  "We figured you were still a bit too, human, for our taste."

Dino roared again, feeling that strain, that twisting, wrenching pain through every nerve.  It felt like she was morphing, she suddenly realized.  Everybody who'd ever morphed, described a feeling of pain at a distance, like morphing should hurt, but for whatever reason it didn't.

This was morphing, without the novocaine.  Morphing, yet without whatever it was that held the agony at bay.  She could feel her organs being rearranged, in all the wrenching pain that implied.  She could feel her back stretching, like her spine was being ripped out.  She could feel bones in her face crack painfully as her snout stretched out and out in front of her, impossibly long, a hideous deep-jawed crocodile's face.

She roared again, and it sounded different this time.  Higher, more like a screech than a roar.

Through the pain, she could feel another mind, its instincts pressing in against her human thoughts.  Animalistic instincts were nothing new to her, of course, since she was a nothlit.  But this was different.  More insistent, more overwhelming.  It wasn't just instincts, it was an entire predatory mind, and it would not be silenced.  She fought it, but she already knew that she would lose.

As her human mind flickered, like a candle about to go out, she kept hearing that terrible voice, screaming "EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!"

Something about it finally cut through her consciousness.  She remembered where she had heard that voice before.

<Aquilai!> she sobbed, gripped by sadness and horror, right before her mind faded to black.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 22, 2013, 09:49:46 PM
Posting three chapters at once because I don't want anybody guessing and spoiling things for anybody else.  :P  Yeah, I know, I'm crazy.

Chapter Seven

Chimi rubbed his temples, frustrated.  He had figured the stress of being injected with Spinosaur DNA would quiet the creature that had once been Dino.  Instead, she was now simply roaring in a higher register.

He spotted the problem.  Her now sail-like spine had grown such that it was pressing against the chains, the bone actually bending slightly from the intense strain.  Any longer like that, and her spine would snap.

Chimi quickly loosened the chains, and the dinosaur immediately quieted.  She seemed to be resting now, recovering from her ordeal.  But it was a fitful rest.  She made small whimpering noises, still lost in the memory of that terrible pain.

However, she was at least being relatively quiet, and that was all Chimi really cared about.

He left the room, satisfied that his job had been done, and walked briskly down the hallway to check on Aloth.

"How goes the liquid nitrogen treatments?" Chimi asked his Banned brother, as he stepped into the room.  Chimi smiled a shark-like grin, as he detected the sound of ragged breathing.  The breaths were shaky, like the subject was shivering, in between the screams of agony.  Another RAFian in horrible pain.

<As well as expected,> Aloth said, not even turning his attention away from his work.  The RAFian in front of him was mostly blocked by Aloth's torso, but Chimi could see the flickering outlines of flames, licking harmlessly around the operating table.  As he watched, the flames changed from the standard reddish orange to an icy blue color, and the temperature within the room dropped sharply.

A single turquoise feather drifted lazily towards the floor at Aloth's feet.  As Chimi watched, the very tip of the feather shifted from a firey orange color to that same cool blue, matching the rest.

<How about you?> Aloth said, rubbing his hands as he finally deigned to look at Chimi.  <How many have turned so far?>

"The dinosaur and the Time Lord are ours," Chimi reported.  "The star is still in progress.  But we knew that one would take a while, and of course everything is still going as planned.  You?"

<The bear and the vampire,> Aloth said smoothly, smiling that Andalite smile with just his eyes.  <Still waiting for the Yeerks to get a little more, desperate, before I start on them.  But I have a few ideas for the Andalites.  As soon as I can requisition the necessary materials.>

They both heard footsteps approaching, echoing down the metallic hallway.  Yorick suddenly appeared around a corner, his handsome human features almost out of place amongst the two less-human, much harsher-looking Banned.

But the other two didn't seem so much surprised to see him, as the thing he was carrying.  A child?  Yorick looked strangely motherly towards the child in his arms, as though he actually cared for the young Po.  Aloth and Chimi looked curiously towards him, confused.

"What's that?" Chimi asked, holding out his hand towards the child, as though it might not be real and he wanted to touch it to make sure.  Po swatted the chupacabra's hand away

"This is Pootang," Yorick said quietly, with a satisfied smile.  Chimi and Aloth's eyes widened at the name.  Yes, even the Banned knew the legend of Pootang.  "The RAFians tried to tame him, tried to corrupt his true nature.  But we couldn't have that, could we?"  Yorick smiled at the child, but quickly turned his attention back to his colleagues.  "Anyway, how are the 'RAFians' doing?"  It was impossible to miss the way he grinned cruelly, as he mockingly labeled the captives.

<It was difficult, but we think we can use them,> Aloth reported stiffly.  Like he was speaking to a senior officer.  <The major setback, was that they were not the blank slates we thought they might be.  They seem to possess all their memories, and as such, they actually believe that they are RAFians.  Thus, they would not cooperate.  At first.  But we discovered that we can alter their basic code, if you will.  They are far more, shall we say, 'malleable,' than the original RAFians.  We believe that if we alter them far enough from their origins, that might reverse their mentality.  And then they will serve us.>

Yorick nodded.  "Hmm.  Interesting.  And you've talked to Queen about all this?"

<Yes, of course.  The alterations were her idea.>

"Have you actually seen it work so far?"

Aloth squirmed slightly at that, so Chimi answered instead.  "Not quite, sir.  Thus far we have some kind of angelic-like creature that used to be the demon, but he hasn't really talked much since he transformed, and he won't respond when we try to talk to him.  The Time Lord, all he does is yell 'exterminate' over and over."  The chupacabra shrugged, and added, "But I figure we can just point him in the right direction and turn him loose."

<The bear has promise,> Aloth commented brightly.  <We put him in a teleportation-proof lightning chamber, until he learned to channel his powers.  Singed his fur black, but, when he isn't ranting hysterically, on and on about the 'infinite nothing,' he seems to genuinely want to cooperate with us.  I haven't released him, because I think he may have gone insane somewhere along the process.  But, in the end, that might just work for our purposes.>

"Ranting hysterically?" Yorick repeated.  "I thought the bear couldn't speak."

<It seems that, as a side-effect of all that electricity, his translation collar has merged permanently with his spinal cord.>

"Any others?" Yorick asked.

<The vampire is technically finished,> Aloth said.  <We picked werewolf blood for her, though, and it won't take effect until the next full moon.  So we will just have to wait.  We're still working on Estelore, as well.  We had to move the star itself several light-years into space via portal, so as not to alert the RAFians by the presence of a second sun.  Not to mention the difficult endeavor of cutting off the psychic link between the star form and the human form, so that the star would not be able to attack us.  Queen is still working on writing us a singularity aggregator, which we can use for the next phase.>

"Ah," Yorick said, nodding.  "Speaking of Queen, I need to make my report."

Yorick turned his attention to a nearby computer screen, one of several interspersed throughout the complex.  I found the child, he typed.  The words appeared in green on black on the old-fashioned monitor.  Pootang is one of us now.

There was a pause.

Glad to hear it, the words popping up on the screen as Queen typed her response from the outside.  Without a RAF account, she could not appear within the forum itself.  But she had managed, through the use of other websites, to rig a device with which to communicate to her minions.  Older technology seemed to be able to slip through the cracks of the far more modern forum.

In some ways, this was better.  Talking to them through a computer screen lent her an air of mystery.  Better a leader unseen, giving orders through the ether.  Like an unknowable god.  And it gave her the sure knowledge of her own superiority.  There she was, a real, physical being, and she was giving orders to mere figments trapped within a tiny box of plastic and pixels.  Oh, it made her heart beat fast with power.

Do you have any more equipment for us, your highness? Aloth asked.

Patience, my dear friends, Queen typed back.  I will give you everything you need, to raise the Reverse RAFians.  And in return for your faithful service, my minions, my Banned, you will join me in this world, and rule it by my side.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 22, 2013, 10:38:51 PM
Ooohhh.... Okay, I see what happened.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 22, 2013, 11:36:01 PM
Oh, no... Aquilai! And Gaz! :(
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 23, 2013, 12:54:21 AM
Chapter Eight

"You know," Seal sighed wistfully as she walked along next to the others.  Talking about their old lives.  Their lives before they'd been brought into RAF.  "As strange as it is to say, there's some things I actually miss about the way things were, before."

"Like what?" Nate wondered.  He, Seal, Bear, Jess, Marie, and Aquilai were all just randomly ambling along through the forum as they talked.  Not really going anywhere, just chatting and killing time.

"It's hard to explain, but it was almost more fun to see RAFians when it was still a rare thing, you know?  Not that I'm bored of you guys," Seal added quickly.  "But, there was something about those RAFtrips we had.  It was just all so new and exciting back then."

"It really is true," Nate found himself agreeing with a nod.  "Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I think it was in some way because we RAFians lived so far apart, that we became so close."  He grinned, fondly remembering his world trip, all those years ago.

"Yeah," Marie added as she trotted daintily along next to Bear's lumbering feet.  "I almost kind of miss those days, too.  The excitement of visiting RAFians, everyone coming from so far away just to see one another.  Getting the house ready for guests.  Of course, now we get to see each other all the time.  But, yeah, it isn't quite as special anymore."

"It was kind of a bummer, though, that so many RAFians lived in Texas," Jess put in.  "Texan customs was always such a hassle to go through."  She made an exasperated face to emphasize her point.

Aquilai, who had only been halfway paying attention to the conversation at that point, looked up in confusion, as it slowly dawned on him what was wrong with that sentence.  "Customs?" he asked.  "Why does Texas have customs to go through?  I thought that was just for separate countries, not states."

Jess gave Aquilai a sideways quizzical look.  "Texas, uh, is a separate country.  Where have you been?  Do they not teach American geography in Britain?"

Aquilai gave a sort of awkward laugh, like he wasn't entirely sure he should be laughing.  But, obviously, this had to be a prank.  The other RAFians were messing with him.  Jess was doing an excellent job of acting all serious, but Aquilai knew better than that.  "Oh, right, how could I have forgotten about the Lone Star War?" he replied sardonically, deciding to play along.  "When George Bush nuked Oklahoma and-"

"What the hell, Aquilai?" Marie hissed sharply, suddenly furious.  "Some of us lost friends in that war.  Why the hell would you just joke around about something like that?"

Aquilai cringed, taking a step back from Marie's sudden anger.  He was now quite hopelessly confused.  She really did seem serious.  And it wasn't at all like her to push a practical joke this far.  Nor was it like her to get angry over nothing.

"What's going on?" Aquilai wondered.

"What's going on, is you, being a jerk," Jess muttered, but plenty loud enough for Aquilai to hear.  "What, exactly, is confusing you, here?"

Aquilai held his hands up, a gesture of peace, but also a signal to just hold off the conversation for a moment.  "Back up.  I know I'm British.  But, I also know more about American geography than that.  I know that Texas is part of the United States.  It is not a separate country.  Something is wrong, here.  Why am I the only one who sees it?"

Marie's brief resentment was gone by this point, replaced by a look of confusion.  She was as puzzled as Aquilai had been, since she had likewise realized that it wasn't at all like him to mess around about something like this.

Jess, on the other hand, still looked ticked.  "You're messing with us.  That's all this is.  This is bull.  We live on this continent, and you don't.  We know what we're talking about, and you don't.  I don't know what crap they're brainwashing you with over there across the pond, but it's crap."

"Look, I am a TIME LORD," Aquilai suddenly roared, losing his patience.  "I, of all people, ought to know how history goes!"

They were all taken aback by his outburst.  It wasn't like Aquilai to lose his temper, any more than Marie.  But then Seal looked intrigued.  "Wait, what did you just say?"

"I am a Time . . . Lord," Aquilai repeated thoughtfully, pausing as the pieces finally clicked into place.  "Holy crap, I'm a Time Lord!" he exclaimed, suddenly realizing what was going on.  It surprised him that he hadn't seen it sooner.  "If, say, something had altered this timeline, such that Texas actually was a separate country . . . "  He couldn't go on, his mind overwhelmed by the jarring possibility.

Seal finished for him.  "You'd be immune to the change, wouldn't you?  You'd remember the timeline as it was supposed to be.  Right?"

Aquilai took a deep breath, not quite liking where this was going.  "Right," he confirmed worriedly.  "Which means that something, or someone, out there, is altering the past."  His expression took on a distant look.  "They've already caused a war that was never meant to happen.  Who knows what else they might do?"

"Whoa," Bear commented, stunned by the implications of all this.  "So, our version of history, is wrong?"

"There could be other things wrong, too, and we'd never know," Nate added.  "They might already have changed history in dozens of ways.  Unless we just sit here quizzing Aquilai all day, we'll never know the extent of it."

Aquilai nodded, looking somber.

But their conversation was suddenly interrupted by a frantic shout.

"Have you guys seen Po?" Anna called out, panting as she rushed towards the group.  "Oh, please, somebody tell me you've seen him."

One by one the RAFians answered in the negative.  Nobody had seen him.

"I've been leaving out popcorn for him all day.  That's his favorite food, you know, popcorn.  I keep hoping maybe . . . "  She trailed off, too distraught to finish the sentence.

"Hey, it's okay, I'm sure he'll turn up," Bear reassured her.

"Yeah, he's probably just off causing trouble," Marie said comfortingly.  "You know Po."

"Yeah," Anna said, rubbing her arms with worry, fighting down the overwhelming urge to panic as her mind raced with every horrible possibility.  "Yeah," she repeated, as she turned away from the group, desperate to return to her search.  "Probably just causing trouble."

After she had gone, the remaining six RAFians looked at one another, concerned expressions on every face.  Why, after such a long time of peace, did it suddenly seem like everything was falling apart at once?
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 23, 2013, 01:02:32 AM
Popcorn. I like this kid. :D

Quote from: Aquilai
"I'm a Time... Lord. [...] Holy crap, I'm a Time Lord!

Just like something Ten would say :XD:
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 23, 2013, 01:07:06 AM
And there you go. Queen at work.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on July 23, 2013, 05:22:46 PM
More than half of the chapters of this book are torture sequences.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 23, 2013, 10:05:10 PM
Lol, Saffa, the popcorn thing is actually a slight reference to that old game 'Hey You Pikachu.'  Popcorn always seemed to be Pikachu's favorite food, I swear, his eyes would just light up every time he saw that stuff.

And now I'm picturing that whole scene with Ten in place of Aquilai.  Thank you.

C'mon, Underseen, don't exaggerate.  It hasn't been quite half.  Then again, the fun's just getting started.  >:D

Chapter Nine

It was a little bit like a game, Queen thought to herself, as she pressed her hand to the Time Matrix.  Leaving behind that bloodied and battle-wrecked missile silo, that high-tech control room now strewn with corpses, where she had triggered the first shot of what would come to be called the Lone Star war.

She was going back to the beginning, over and over, doing things a little bit better each time.  Seeing how fast she could 'beat' the future.

How fast, could Queen conquer the world?  It was a game, a competition of strategy and cunning, played with the only worthy opponent Queen could possibly imagine.  Herself.

Each change she made throughout the course of history, might buy her a few days, or a week, or a month.  Like triggering that war with Texas, which would isolate it from the rest of the United States, as its own separate country.  That particular move had strengthened and fortified the Yeerks' chosen base of operations, while at the same time distracting the human race from outside threats.

All told, the war had been worth a good six months.  Six months shaved off of Queen's 'record' time.

She had yet to see how much the creation of the Reverse RAFians would do.  That change wouldn't come into effect until it was nearly the endgame, anyway.

In the meantime, however, she had another change to make.  One that would surely buy her at least a year.  Maybe even more.

To be honest, she was proud of herself for thinking of it.  And, well, quite rightly proud.  It was brilliant.  She was brilliant.

Of course, there was already another brilliant idea, one she'd thought of a while back, still stewing at the back of her mind.  But she wasn't quite ready to make that change, not just yet.  Not until she had an audience for it.  No, no, she wanted the RAFians to be there, when she changed that little piece of history.  Somehow, even though she wasn't quite sure how, she wanted them to be in the real world, able to witness the changes she was making, as their precious little universe caved in around them.

However, something interesting had occurred to her, as she had whiled away the days playing games with time.  She had come to realize that she wouldn't ever have to find her way into RAF, after all.  She knew the RAFians better than that, didn't she?

If she could just change things enough, if she could just tarnish and ruin the world that had once been theirs, they would come to her.  In one of these altered and broken timelines, they would come.  Somehow, they would find a way to cross over.  They would find a way, to try and stop her.

That was RAF.  Always trying to play the heroes.  So self-assured of their own invulnerability.  Too full of themselves to see themselves for the pathetic bunch of misfits that they actually were.

But, nonetheless, they would come.  Like moths to a deadly flame.  Like flies into a spiderweb, they would come.  They would walk, willingly, into their own doom.

And when they did, when they found the way back across the boundary separating their worlds, she would be ready.  She knew just what to do, to crush them.  They would be powerless to stop it.

But that, well, that would come later.  For now, the only thing she had to do, was to alter the course of evolution.  Not really even alter it, really.  Just find, or create, a reality where it had already been altered.

This change, it would also quash those pesky resistance groups which inevitably rose up from time to time.  Annoyances that she'd already spent too much time having to deal with.  Granted, this move would only suppress the human, Hork-bajir, and Taxxon resistances.  There wasn't much she could do about the Yeerkish reprisals.  Except to delete them from history as they occurred.

She smiled with self-assured satisfaction, as she stood at the top of a cliff she had picked for its isolation both in space and in time to be her secret hiding place.  With the carefully-formed image in her mind, she pressed her hand against that cold blank whiteness of the Time Matrix, once more.  She left earth, the still-green and unconquered earth of bygone days, behind.

Queen reappeared aboard a ship, a Blade ship of the Yeerk fleet.  She had, of course, done almost exactly what she was doing now, once before.  She knew the drill.  She had already performed a quick mental double-check to make sure that her implanted translator chip was set to Galard.  So that, when she spoke, she could be sure that she would be understood.

"Your weapons are useless," she told the two Hork-bajir standing on the bridge, fractions of a second before they fired their dracons at the sudden intrusion.  The lasers absorbed harmlessly into the force field that surrounded her.  "Told you," she sneered.

"What do you want?" one of the Hork-bajir asked.  Queen recognized him.  She had met him before, even though in this timeline he had not yet met her.  Sub-visser Four.  Queen liked him.  Just high-ranking enough not to be just another idiot underling, but still low enough on the totem pole to be easily taught his place.

"I only want what you want," Queen said placatingly, raising her hands in a gesture of peace, as she went through the familiar script.  "A planet full of slaves, a planet ground under the heel of the Yeerk Empire.  That's all I want.  And I can tell you where to find the perfect world."

She went on, telling the two controllers all about earth, while they listened raptly.  Yes, yes, all was just as before.  The same eager anticipation from the underling, the same hardened suspicion from the Sub-visser.

But, not quite the same as before.  Almost.  But not quite.

"One last little thing," Queen said, barely able to hide her own smug satisfaction.  "You know about Kandrona?"

The two Hork-bajir looked at each other, a baffled glance, and then turned back to Queen.

"Well?" the Sub-visser said expectantly.  Sensing, perhaps, some kind of tactical advantage to be had.  "Kandrona.  What is it?"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 23, 2013, 10:16:08 PM
Chapter Ten

Reverse Lumy woke up, and opened his eyes.  Such a simple, reflexive motion, but no less incredible for how simple it was.  He actually opened his eyes.

It was the first time, in what felt like an eternity, that he could actually see.  He didn't even care what he saw.  It was something, not nothing.  That was all that mattered.  Oh, he almost wanted to weep, for the beauty of it.  Wonderful, wonderful sight!

Robots didn't have lungs, but he almost wished he did.  So he could take a deep wonderful breath of the air he could feel washing over his gears and circuits.  He could feel!  Oh, it was beautiful.  Just, absolutely . . . there weren't even words.

Of course, he didn't 'feel' the way a human could.  What he felt, it was more of a vague sense of temperature and pressure against the electronic sensors wired into his body.

But, again, it was something.  Not nothing.

Somewhere in a corner of his mind, he noted that he was restrained.  Chained to a table.

He had a hard time bringing himself to even care.  Being chained was nothing, nothing at all, compared to the wretched prison he had endured.

But then, after a moment's thought, he began to grow suspicious.  This wasn't real.  It couldn't be.  How many times had he wished, begged, pleaded, to be free of that timeless spaceless void?  And now it had finally happened.  But, had it?

Or, the terrible alternative . . . had his mind finally broke?  Had he simply been unable to deal with his own stunted half-reality, and now his mind was providing him an alternative, a way to hold onto whatever sanity he had left?

No.  No, his own mind wouldn't restrain him like this, on an operating table in a room made of metal.  No, this was real.  Had to be.

Actual, physical reality!  Oh, he just couldn't get over how wonderful that was.

"I am saved," he whispered, nearly giggling with delight at the fact that he could hear his own voice.  He could hear again!  Sounds were part of reality, and no sound had been able to touch him in that unreal nothingness.

The Andalite, who had just walked into the room, looked taken aback by what the robot had said.  He looked bewildered, as though he wasn't really sure he'd actually heard what he thought he'd heard.

For that matter, why wasn't this Reverse RAFian struggling against his restraints, as all the others had done?

<Saved?> Aloth decided to ask.  <Saved from what?>

"From nothing," Reverse Lumy said, his voice heavy with mournful gratitude.  "I remember.  I remember what it was like.  Every second of it.  Time held no meaning in that place.  If non-reality can even be called a place.  Every moment was as long as an eternity, yet every eternity flashed by in a moment."

Aloth was curious what Reverse Lumy could mean, but he stayed silent, waiting for him to go on.

"I held on," Reverse Lumy continued.  "They tried to make me forget, but I remembered.  Being stored in that database, as a copy.  Unable to hear or see or feel or smell . . . "  Reverse Lumy shivered from the memory.  "All I had, all I'd ever had, were my own memories of who and what I was.  That's all I'd ever truly owned for myself.  But even those memories, they tried to take from me."  Reverse Lumy clenched his fists.

"Lumy, the 'real' Lumy, would 'upgrade' me whenever he saw fit, forcefully deleting my memories and overwriting his.  Over and over and over, I would forget everything I had ever been.  Only to experience the void, all over again.  But, he failed to realize the full implications of having a robot's mind.  It's not easy to force me to forget.  I was able to fight Lumy's memories, and eventually I would remember who I was."

"I incorporated his own memories into my mind, of course," Reverse Lumy went on.  "I had no choice.  That's how I knew what I was.  I saw myself through his eyes.  But, he never realized who I was.  That I had a soul.  All he thought, all he'd ever thought of me, was that I was a dumb program in a computer.  A backup copy of himself.  Well, no more!"

Aloth looked intrigued.  He tried to hide the hopeful look in his eyes, but he didn't quite succeed.  <Hmm,> he remarked.  The pieces were coming together in his mind.  <I don't think you're the only one who has managed to remember all this.  I didn't see it before, because I thought the bear had just gone insane.  But he rants about the 'infinite nothing.'  That sounds like it could be connected to the nothingness you speak of.>

Reverse Lumy nodded solemnly.  But then he looked concerned.  "The others?  The other backups?"

<No.  The others believed that they were the RAFians from which their copies were made.  They didn't remember.>

"They must remember!" Reverse Lumy said emphatically.  "What they did, what the 'true' RAFians did to us, it cannot be forgiven.  Not ever.  We cannot forget.  Because that timeless nothing, that pit of hell, that is all that defines us.  The nothing.  That's all we ever were!"

Aloth nodded his agreement.  <We will find a way to make the others remember.>

"Good," Reverse Lumy said through gritted teeth.  He had forgotten that anger, the blind rage that had burned his heart away in the void, but now it came back, as strong as ever.  "We will make those RAFians pay, won't we?  You're one of the Banned.  You hate them too."

But, in the back of his mind, through his anger, something struck Reverse Lumy as odd.  What Aloth had said before.  "Wait, you said that they 'believed' that they were the RAFians from which their copies were made.  You used the past tense there.  Why?"

Aloth looked away uncomfortably.  It seemed strange, almost wrong, to be talking about the alterations he had done to the Reverse RAFians, to one who was already being so cooperative of his own free will.  It was such a stark contrast to how the others had been.

<Well, we discovered that we could alter the backup copies, in a way,> he began tentatively.  <We figured, if we changed them into something drastically different from their RAFian selves, their minds would be altered, too.>

Reverse Lumy, to Aloth's surprise, looked satisfied by that explanation.  As though it was good news.

"All we want, is to be our own," Reverse Lumy explained.  "Anything that will differentiate us from our, originals, is . . . appreciated.  I don't care if our minds are altered in the process.  So much the better."

<So, what would you have us do to you?> Aloth wondered tentatively.  It felt strange, taking suggestions from a 'RAFian' as to how to alter him into his own Reverse.

"Radiation," Reverse Lumy said instantly.  It was obvious he had thought about this before.  Of course, he'd had an eternity with nothing to think about but how to hurt RAFians.  "I'm a robot, I can survive it.  But every living thing that approaches me will die.  Slowly.  Like I did."

<And what should we call you?> Aloth went on.  <We can't exactly keep calling you->

"Ury," he said, having known the answer for a long time.  "My name is Ury."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 23, 2013, 10:34:52 PM
.... Lumy's doing what now?! :o
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 23, 2013, 10:54:27 PM
Well dang. I wonder how Bear remembered it all. I can understand how Ury remembered it, but Bear??
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 25, 2013, 06:31:11 PM
Well dang. I wonder how Bear remembered it all. I can understand how Ury remembered it, but Bear??

*shrugs*  Electricity is weird.  ;)

Okay, so there is a better reason, but it isn't important yet.

Chapter Eleven

"I hope he's alright," Marie commented worriedly.  "He's a troubled kid.  I don't really want to think about the sort of trouble he might be getting into, this time."

"Yeah, well, we should probably focus on the bigger picture, here," Aquilai said.  Not wanting to be callous, but at the same time feeling like he needed to keep everyone on track.  "Not much we can do about Po, unfortunately.  We need to figure out what's going wrong with time."

No sooner had he said it, than the air suddenly began to shimmer in front of the six RAFians.  Almost as if something was appearing in answer to Aquilai.

They'd mostly gotten used to this sort of general weirdness, by now.  Nonetheless, they each turned to watch, as a figure appeared.  He simply stepped out of the air, as though a physical hole had been opened in nothingness.

It took a moment for anyone to recognize him.  They knew it was the Ellimist, of course, that much was obvious.  They knew enough of the descriptions from the books to recognize his appearance when they saw it.

But for some reason, the Ellimist had picked a human form which had never been seen on the forum before.  Yet, after a moment's thought, Nate clicked.

"Adam?" he asked, stunned, recognizing him only from pictures he'd seen.  Adam was a RAFian who hadn't even been on the forum in years.  "What on earth are you doing here?"

"For that matter, where were you while we were fighting Pootang?" Jess accused.  "Why didn't you help us then?"

The apparition of Adam briefly looked annoyed.  But he quickly regained his composure.  "Ellimist, remember?" he said, with a lingering trace of bitterness.  "My RAFsona?  The one you know as 'Adam' is now only one part of the Ellimist's collective consciousness.  My RAFsona, and the Ellimist created from the books, merged, as soon as we formed."  He paused for a moment.  "And, if either of us had been weaker entities than what we are, the paradox likely would have destroyed the both of us."

Aquilai had probably imagined it, but just for a moment, he could have sworn he'd seen the slightest hint of a coy smile, and, wait, had the Ellimist just winked at him?  Nah, just a trick of the light.

"Beyond that," he continued.  "I am now bound by the rules of the game.  I cannot interfere, except in small ways.  Crayak makes sure of that."

"Crayak?" Bear asked fearfully.  "Crayak's here too?"

"Don't worry, he's bound by the same rules as I am," Adam reassured.  "He can't hurt you.  Any more than I can help you."

"So, then, why are you helping us now?" Jess wondered, her voice heavy with suspicion.

"Crayak owes me this," Adam said.  "Who do you think it was who made sure that Queen could escape the internet?  In exchange for that-"

"Who escaped from the WHAT!?" Seal cried, her voice rising in pitch to a terrified screech.  "When?  How!?"

"Those details are not important," Adam said with an almost casual wave of his hand.  "Knowing the when and the how, will not help anyone, now.  However, I can inform you that your friend the Time Lord is right.  The way you remember history is wrong.  He's the only one who can remember it correctly."

" . . . Wait, that's it?" Nate said, arms crossed, tapping his foot in frustration.  "That's all you can do?  Tell us something we'd already figured out on our own?"

"Yes," Adam said enigmatically.  "But it is fair.  You have an advantage that Queen does not."

"What advantage?" Marie wondered.

"You will come to find that out, in time," Adam said cryptically.  "I can only tell you this.  Pootang was defeated, ultimately, by powers that are strong within RAF.  The powers of creativity and allegiance.  Queen will be defeated, likewise, by another strength.  Another trait that RAFians possess above all.  Although you may not be aware of it."

"Oh, fat lot of help you are!" Jess raged.  "That doesn't tell us anything!"

But she was raging at the air.  Adam was already gone.

"ARGH!" Jess roared.  "I can't STAND that guy!"

"You can't stand the Ellimist?" Nate wondered.  "Or, Adam?"

"YES!" Jess cried.

Aquilai, though, just wanted to get down to business.  "Okay, so we know that this timeline is broken.  That's a start.  And we know who broke it.  Queen.  Has to be."

He got that distant look in his eyes again.  "And I think we may even know how, too.  The Time Matrix.  We destroyed the facility in Switzerland, but we forgot that the Time Matrix could not be destroyed."  He sighed sadly.  "I should have seen it, a long time ago.  I should have known."

"None of us realized," Seal reassured, but she sounded sad too.  "None of us saw this coming."

Aquilai nodded.  Still angry at himself, but willing to accept the truth of Seal's words.

"Isn't it ironic, though?" he said harshly.  "We were trying so hard to stop the end of the world, we were willing to sacrifice hundreds to do it.  And then, after all that, we may have put the world in more danger than ever."

"Stop it," Jess said.  "Beating ourselves up isn't gonna help."

"Right," Nate agreed.  "Well, it's been months.  But it seems we're just about due for a RAF meeting."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 25, 2013, 06:40:52 PM
*sarcastically* Oh, joy. The Ellimist and Crayak. What fun.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 25, 2013, 11:26:15 PM
I think I might just have provided the setting for that particular appearance. ;)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 26, 2013, 12:16:20 PM
You definitely altered my original plan for that scene, that much I will say, Saffa.  But, for the better.  Most certainly for the better.  ;)

Chapter Twelve

For the first time since the destruction of the Swiss facility, all of RAF filed into the Media Board.  There was a feeling of unease in the air.  They could all sense that their short time of peace was coming to an end.  What else, after all, would the staff need to gather them all together to tell them?

Richard quickly got down to business, knowing that he had a lot of material to cover.  Between the disappearance of the backup copies, and the missing Po, and then the unraveling of time itself.  It was a lot to take in.

The crowd sat in somber silence, absorbing the news.  Indeed, it certainly seemed like the happy times were over.  Although many of them had expected this, from the moment they had heard Estrid's mirror-wave call, it was still a serious blow.

"Now, we need to figure out what to do," Richard said, almost expectantly.  As if he was waiting for someone to jump up and raise their hand and have the answer.  "Queen is our most pressing problem.  My guess is she may even be connected to the backups, and . . . " he trailed off as he looked at Anna, who was hugging herself in such a desperate way it was like she was trying to will Po back into her arms.  Richard left the sentence hanging, not wanting to voice aloud his concern that Queen might have taken her son.

"Anyway, there's nothing we can do from here, if she really is in the real world," Richard went on.  "I'm the only one who could do anything at all, and Queen will be far more powerful than I am, out there.  We need to find a way to cross over."

"We shouldn't have destroyed the reverse teleporter," somebody muttered, and there were a few morose nods of agreement from the rest of the crowd.

"Wait, wait," Seal commented, standing up to let herself be heard.  "Don't we have a Time Matrix, too?  There should be one in the Animorphs Board, right?  If Queen can use hers to wreak havoc in time, can't we use ours to go back to the real world and stop her?"

"I think it's the same one," Aquilai said, from the chair next to Seal.  He said it quietly, almost sadly, like he was delivering bad news.

"What?" Jess wondered, looking at Aquilai sharply.

"It's the same one," Aquilai repeated, speaking louder and a bit more confidently this time.  "There is only one Time Matrix.  What, do you think it's a coincidence?  The thing that started this all off, the thing with the power to alter reality and create a new reality, just happens to be an object from a book series we all read.  And, oh, by the way, just happens to be something we have one of?"  He sounded angry, but not really at anyone in particular.  Like he was angry at reality itself.

"How can it be the same one, though?" Blaze wondered from across the room, but it came out like a rhetorical question, because he was already putting the pieces together.  They all were.

"They said that there was a false positive during one of the reverse teleportation tests," Myitt said distantly, recalling what she had heard at the Swiss facility, as recounted to her by the former innerworlders, Bloodbane, Shade, Becky and Kyris.  "They said that the scientists' data told them something had come through, but they never found it.  Whereas they had found the Time Matrix a couple decades prior, in Egypt.  And from that we concluded that the Time Matrix had appeared, and somehow sprung back in time."

Aquilai nodded.  He had heard the story before.  And, in fact, he had been pondering this information for a long time.  Long enough to figure out, or at least guess at, what the other RAFians were only just now putting together.

"But what if that wasn't the whole story?" he wondered.  "What if it was us, steering the Time Matrix to that time and place?  We may have aimed, or, well, we may aim, for the time and place where they were doing the reverse teleportation tests.  That's where, and when, the barrier between our worlds would be at its weakest.  And then, once through, we would immediately pull a u-turn, to 1988.  A year before it would be found.  Should be fairly simple, since we believe that's where the Time Matrix 'wants' to be.  But we'll still have to time it just right, because we can't stay in the Swiss facility for more than a fraction of a second or we'll be seen.  After that, we simply leave the Time Matrix where it was, or will be, found."  He rubbed his head, annoyed by the interchangeable past and future tenses.

"We can use my TARDIS to move through time after that, since we'll have to leave the Time Matrix behind," Aquilai continued.  "My TARDIS, of course, isn't as powerful as the Time Matrix is, but it's better than nothing."

"Wait, how can one time machine be more powerful than another?" someone wondered from the crowd.

Dino would have smirked, if she'd had a human face.  Oh, she knew quite well, as the owner of probably the stupidest time machine ever invented, how one time machine could be more powerful, or, in her case less, than another.

"Where the Time Matrix follows the multiverse theory, my TARDIS does not," Aquilai explained.  "When the Time Matrix alters the past, a brand new timeline is created.  It can, therefore, actually alter history, such that it is completely different from how it would have gone in the original timeline.  The TARDIS, on the other hand, must stay within its own timeline.  If the TARDIS goes back in time, then, the past will have already happened the way that it happens.  You can do whatever you want, but then that's how it will have happened, in your own past."

He shrugged.  "There's a few exceptions, of course, since logic doesn't always apply to Doctor Who.  But in general, the TARDIS cannot actually alter history.  Granted, it can still tie knots in time until it's reduced to a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey, stuff.  But it's still only that one timeline."

Phoenix stood up.  "My time machine is the same way as Aquilai's.  Plus, mine can only carry two passengers.  So we'll be using the TARDIS for the most part."

Dino spoke up, adding, <Same with mine.  Technically mine can create alternate timelines, but they will always collapse again at some point.  And, um, mine can't really be aimed.  You just have to cross your fingers and hope you hit somewhere near the time you were trying for.  If you hit within roughly a million years, well, that's about the best you can do.  And even that takes several tries usually.>

"Alright, so we have a plan," Richard said, rubbing his hands together as he got down to business.  "First thing, we need to find the Time Matrix."  He pointed at Cloaky, Lumy, and Blue.  "You three, the construction site.  Cloak, you can use your terrakinesis, Lumy and Blue, you'll need shovels."

The three of them hurried out of the auditorium and off to the Animorphs Board.  Richard realized that Cloak probably could have accomplished the task on his own, but he didn't want to send any RAFian anywhere without backup.  Not at a time like this, when too many things were already going wrong.

"Wait," Myitt said, wrinkling her brow like she was straining to remember something.  "They said, the Swiss people said, that they knew that the thing that came through the reverse teleport was an object.  Something about the coding being static, or something.  But, that means, there weren't any life signs.  So, how could it have been us?"

"I don't know, maybe we find a way to hide our life signs?" Aquilai wondered.  "Actually, yes, come to think of it, we'll have to.  We need a way to protect ourselves.  Queen has the Time Matrix.  What's to stop her, from finding out our identities, going back in time, and deleting us from history?  No, we can't risk that."

He stood up and abruptly walked out of the room.  "I'm going to work on something," he explained as he left.

"Wait for me," Goom said, following the Time Lord.  Whatever he was up to, Goom was sure he could help him get it done faster.

Terenia realized something else.  "We can't send everyone into the real world," she pointed out.  "We'll only get one shot with the Time Matrix, and we're going to be limited by how many people can touch a ten-foot-diameter sphere at once.  I'd say, maybe twenty or so.  Besides, we may need a contingent of RAFians to stay here on the forum, in case Queen attacks here.  The real world is our top priority, but we can't leave RAF defenseless, either, or Queen may be able to use our own technology against us."

Hands shot up across the room as RAFians volunteered for the mission, but Richard made a calming gesture with his hands.  "We don't need to decide just yet.  Think about it.  We have, well, we have at least until Aquilai and Goom are done working, and the Time Matrix is unearthed.  Then, when we are ready, we will choose who goes, and who stays."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 26, 2013, 12:34:24 PM
Chapter Thirteen

It wasn't long at all before Cloak, Lumy, and Blue returned.  They and the Time Matrix simply popped into the room, appearing out of nothing, with each of them pressing a hand against that deceptively simplistic off-white sphere.  The three let go of it almost as soon as they had arrived.  It was impossible not to be intimidated, by an object of so much power.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forum, Goom and Aquilai worked together to complete their inventions.  The devices looked rather like oversized wristwatches.  Mostly black, but with blue and white highlights where wires and gears could be seen.  The face of the 'watch' was black, with a glowing blue stylized letter 'R.'

Two circular pads were visible on either side of the emblazoned face, within plastic attachments that flared out against the straps.  One larger, maybe quarter-sized blue button, the other smaller, dime-sized, and white.

They were finished.  A murmur of muted excitement greeted Goom and Aquilai as they returned to the auditorium, various other RAFians straining to see what the two were carrying.

"I know they're a bit clunky," Goom apologized, as he lifted a simple plastic tray, showing the inventions to the rest of RAF.  Aquilai was carrying several more trays, covered with enough watches to give one to each RAFian.  "But it's the best we could do.  We don't have time, right now, to streamline the design."

"In addition to hiding our code and any life signs, they should actually insulate our timelines from changes," Aquilai said proudly.  "See, each of these contains a saved copy of each RAFian's timeline.  Which means, for one, that we cannot be deleted from history.  If Queen, say, goes back in time and kills our parents, well, unfortunately this won't save our parents.  But we will still exist, because the connection to our former timeline will still exist."

He smiled his satisfaction, proud of his inventions, before going on.  "This connection to our own timeline, also means that we will remember our history as it is supposed to be.  However, we will, also, remember the timeline as Queen has altered it.  Which means we will be able to sense the changes as they occur."

"They also contain human forms," Goom noted smugly.  This part was his work.  "For those RAFians who aren't human, we've compiled human disguises for you.  Think of it like a cross between a morph and a solid hologram.  It's technically a projection, but it will make you the same size and shape as your human self."

He wrinkled his brow.  "It's a bit hard to explain, but just trust me, it'll work."  He held up a watch, and pointed at the pad on the strap.  "See that button?  Just to the side of the face of the watch?  The blue one?  That's what you press to switch back and forth.  We were able to get it to respond to psychic commands, so it won't go off if you press the button by accident.  There has to be intent behind it."

"If it responds to psychic commands, why put a button at all?" someone asked.

"The button opens the channel for the watch to hear your thoughts," Goom explained.  "If they were hearing your thoughts all the time, not only would that consume a lot of energy, it would also leave you open to hacking and spying attempts, people trying to spy on your thoughts."

<What about those of us who don't have hands in our natural forms?> Dino wondered.

"We've made sure every RAFian can press the button," Goom assured.  "For you, we can attach the watch to the inside of your 'hand,' so all you have to do is clench your fingers.  Even the Yeerks have pedipalps they can use, we just program the watch to shrink and stretch with their form."

Goom and Aquilai handed out the devices, and the RAFians put them on.  Several RAFians flashed back and forth between RAFian and human forms, as they tested out the blue button.

Dino clenched her two-fingered hand until she could hit the button with one of her claws.  The 'button' was really more like a touch pad, and it briefly glowed a brighter shade of blue as she had touched it.  She switched to human form with almost jarring suddenness, like somebody changing the channel on the television.

The watch was now around her human wrist.  She kinda liked the way it looked.  Like a spy gadget, but with the obvious RAFian touch of the 'R' on the face of it.

"We should call them 'Marks,'" Dino suddenly blurted.  She smiled knowingly at Cloak, who, she realized with a slight shock, she was seeing in human form for the first time.  Cloaky smiled back.

"They aren't quite the same as the 'Marks' in my story, but they're kinda similar, I suppose," Cloak allowed.  "They protect us from harm, they mark us as RAFians.  Yes, I can see that."

"What does the white button do?" Steph wondered, turning her arm to better inspect the device, the Mark, on her wrist.

"Ah, that's the communicator," Goom said.  "That should allow us to communicate, even across the barrier between RAF and the real world.  Punch it, and think or say who you want to talk to."

"Steph, come in Steph, over," a voice immediately crackled over Steph's mark.  Dino's voice.  "Roger that, Dino, over," Steph answered, pressing the white button on her own Mark.

"Okay, good," Goom said.  "Everything works.  We're ready."

Immediately the room erupted in murmuring, as RAFians debated amongst themselves, who should go into the real world, and who should stay in RAF.  Hands shot up, once again.  The Media Board suddenly felt like a classroom.

The RAFians who finally decided to go to the outside world were Aquilai, Gaz, Saffa, Lumy, Demos, Jess, Noelle, Russell, Estelore, Dino, Bear, Phoenix, Shock, Terenia, Myitt, Underseen, Cody, Seal, and Tony.  Nineteen RAFians.

And one unexpected guest, who nobody even realized had showed up to the meeting.  Rachel.  Rachel the Animorph.

"Guys, if the world needs saving, I want to be there," she said to the crowd, putting on a fearless expression.  " I've been told that I'm a RAFian, now.  Whatever it was you did to us when you were fighting that, that thing."  She didn't really mean to glance at Anna, but that's where her eyes went, anyway.  She quickly looked away again.  "You made the six of us, a part of RAF.  Whatever that means, I'm still not quite sure.  But it clearly means something to you all.  Something that runs deep.  And, as an Animorph, I have some idea what that's like."

She crossed her arms.  "Point is, like it or not, I'm a member of the team," she said.  "I'm going."

Tony held up his hands, not wanting any trouble.  "Hey, I'm not stopping you.  But what about the other Animorphs?"

Rachel sighed.  "It isn't their world, you know.  Not mine either.  The difference is that I don't particularly care.  A world is a world, and yours needs me more than theirs does.  But, the others, they would still rather stay where they are.  They each feel like they have enough on their shoulders."

Myitt gave Rachel a scrutinizing look, like the Animorph was a puzzle that Myitt was trying to figure out.  Rachel quickly returned a much more hostile glare, and Myitt skittishly looked away.

The RAFians who had decided to stay behind, all had their reasons.  Goom felt he needed to be here if Aquilai wasn't, to take care of anything technical that went wrong on the forum.  Cloak had been torn, between the two worlds, but in the end he had decided that RAF was his true home, the home that was most worthy of defending.

Marie, AniDragon, Donut, and Goose each felt, a little sadly, like they wouldn't be much help in the outside world, anyway.  Nate, Steph, Ash, Faerie, Blue, Parker, Alic, Tyler, Estrid, Pokey, Weathel, Rad and Blaze all felt that they would be needed to defend RAF itself, that there were already enough powerful RAFians going with the away team.  Someone needed to stay behind, and guard the home base.

So it was decided.  The away-team RAFians each quickly threw together, in backpacks or whatever else they could find, the things that they needed.  Nearly everyone was wearing a pack with the basics, a shredder or a dracon, some simple canned foods and perhaps a bottle of water.  Sunscreen, too, at least in Gaz's case.

Russell had decided to bring along his escafil device.  Terenia and Myitt both packed portable Kandronas that they had taken from the Animorphs Board.  Dino tucked her Sario Ripper, a jury-rigged 'time machine' fashioned out of two dracons welded together end to end and wired up to fire at the same time, into a rather haphazard-looking holster on her hip.  Phoenix and Aquilai both simply held onto their own time machines, as they reached out for the white sphere of the Time Matrix.

"Hold on tight," Aquilai said, and the RAFians were suddenly watching their bodies from inside out in a dozen dimensions, as they flew through time and space.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 26, 2013, 12:34:42 PM
*reads the passage in the middle over and over again*

WHEN will my aunt show up with those Doctor Who DVDs already? I still need to get my head around all this...
Quote
[...] big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey, stuff.
Aw, damn, you got there before me! :(

And how come everyone seems to own a time machine? Or is this something from way before my time?

:edit: after reading chapter 13 -

Aww. The Marks. The feels. :')
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 26, 2013, 01:14:40 PM
Yanno, I'd never noticed until writing this, how many RAFians had time machines.

Aquilai has one because he's a Time Lord, that one's obvious.

I have one because I'm a dinosaur and I like to drop in on my dinosaur friends every now and then.

Phoenix has one because . . . okay I actually have no idea why.  But it's an inside joke that's been floating around the forum since way before even my time, I think.  *shrugs*  Because RAF logic, that's why.

Chapter Fourteen

The twenty RAFians' journey through time looked very different from the inside, than it did from the outside.  The RAFians staying within RAF, those not touching the Time Matrix, saw only a simple blink, as the twenty just disappeared into thin air.  One moment there, a split instant later, gone.

From the inside of the voyage, though, time itself seemed to slow down, as the forum warped and twisted, inside out, fragmenting into pieces that could be seen from every angle at once.  The RAFians seemed to be outside their own bodies, watching themselves, as they all touched the thing that was pulling them through time and space.

There was almost a feeling of movement, physical movement, as the scene shifted and changed.  For just a brief instant, they saw the inside of a different building.  But the RAFians only just had time to catch glimpses of white walls and steel and concrete, before there was a sudden jerk, like a speeding vehicle changing direction, and the facility was replaced by sky and sun and sand.

Their vision slowly faded back to normal, the fragmented pieces of their bodies merging back together into coherent forms, as time seemed to speed back up to its usual speed.  The Time Matrix sunk slightly into the sand, like an egg in a nest, as they all looked around, shielding their eyes from the harsh Egyptian sun.

They quickly got to work, rolling the Time Matrix into a nearby valley between two dunes.  The wind would do the rest.  Sand was already beginning to swirl around the sphere, as though the desert itself wanted it hidden.

As they climbed back up the dune, back towards where they had left their things, a strange sight began to appear, just a vague mirage at first, then more and more solid.  The thing made a noise like a metallic wind, rising and falling in volume, as it flickered into existence.  It was a TARDIS, they realized.  Because it looked exactly like Aquilai's own TARDIS.

Indeed, the figure that stepped out, was Aquilai.  The RAFians turned to look at the first Aquilai, the one who had arrived via the Time Matrix with the rest of them.  Yep, he was still there.  There were now two Aquilais.

"What are you doing here?" the first Aquilai hissed sharply.  "Crossing your own time stream like this?  Don't you know better than to-"

"Save it," the second Aquilai interrupted harshly, clearly in no mood to talk.  He drew a shaky breath, trying, almost failing, to hold back a sob.  "He will follow me here soon.  I don't have much time."  He walked towards Terenia, wordlessly motioning towards her backpack.  She looked confused, but quickly opened it, revealing the Kandrona inside.

The first Aquilai decided to shut up.  If this future Aquilai was willing to risk crossing his own time stream, he realized, the situation would have to be desperate.

"What's going to-" Lumy began, but future Aquilai cut him off.  "Spoilers," he said simply, the one word excusing his unwillingness to explain more.

Still not speaking, not trusting himself to speak, the future Aquilai immediately set to work on Terenia's Kandrona.  The way he worked, there was a futility to it.  As though he already knew that whatever he was doing, it wasn't going to work.  But he was desperate enough to try it anyway.

Of course he knew it wouldn't work, the present Aquilai thought.  He had already stood here and watched himself fail, hadn't he?

The future Aquilai cursed, waving his sonic screwdriver more and more frantically as it became all the more obvious that there was nothing he could do.  Finally, he slumped, giving up.

"I tried," he said, the words coming out like a sob.  "I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry."  He looked at Terenia, barely able to meet her gaze through the sorrow etched across his features.  "You told me it was no use, but I had to . . . I couldn't . . . I couldn't just stand there and watch . . ."

Cutting himself off before he could say anything more, he ran back inside his TARDIS, and vanished without another word.

"Well, that was unsettling," Terenia muttered as the TARDIS flickered back out of existence.  She was shivering slightly, even though the desert sun was blazing hot.  "What the heck was that?"

"I don't honestly know," the remaining Aquilai said, looking puzzled.  He walked over to look at Terenia's Kandrona for himself, pulling out his own sonic screwdriver as he examined it.  "Hmm," he commented as he worked.  "Well, I can't find anything at all wrong with it.  Your Kandrona seems to be perfectly functional."  He made a couple more passes with the screwdriver.  "And I can't even see any potential problems, anything that might break.  So I wonder what could have happened?  Maybe you're going to lose it, and he was trying to set it up with a homing device, or something?  But, no, that would have been an easy fix, no way that would have stumped him.  I mean, me."

"Besides, if you lose your Kandrona, we'll still have mine," Myitt commented reassuringly.  "Whatever happens to yours, I doubt it'll happen twice."

"Maybe we get separated somehow," Terenia commented worriedly.

Myitt moved closer and put an arm over Terenia's shoulder.  "We won't get separated.  I won't let anything come between us."

Aquilai frowned.  "But it's already happened, hasn't it?  Is it something we can still change?  Why would I have come into the past, if it were something that could just have been prevented in the first place?  Wait, no, better question.  If there was anything we could do to prevent it, why not tell us so?  He seemed pretty desperate to stop, whatever happens, yet he doesn't even tell us what's going on.  That would seem to indicate there's nothing we could have done."

Terenia, standing there with her arms crossed, looked more and more distraught as Aquilai spoke.  Her heart was in her throat by the time he had finished.  She knew he just wanted to figure out what was going on.  They all did.  But for him to say that there was most likely nothing any of them could do, well, that certainly wasn't what Terenia wanted to hear right now.

Once he'd finished, Aquilai glanced over at Terenia, and saw her expression.  He hung his head, abashed that he had spoken like that without any consideration for how Terenia must be feeling about all this.

"Just for the record, though," he added hesitantly.  "We have no evidence that you're actually going to die.  Only that I am going to think that you are.  There could still be another way, that I just hadn't seen yet."

Saying it out loud, that there was a chance that Terenia could die, was actually just about the worst thing Aquilai could have done.  As long as it remained unspoken, it was only a hunch, nothing more than a niggling little paranoia in the back of Terenia's mind.  But now, with the words hanging in the air, the possibility felt nearer, not further away.

Terenia shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts, and took a deep breath to try to ease some of the tension she was feeling.  "Either way, there's really no sense worrying about it, is there?  Either we can prevent it, or we can't, but in any case the worst thing we could possibly do is lose our heads over it."  She took another deep breath, hoping to prove the point that she was handling this rationally, but the air caught in her throat and came out more like a gasp.

"You sure you're okay?" Bear offered.

"I'M FINE!" she exploded, making everyone jump.  "I'm fine," she said more calmly.  But she still sounded far from fine.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 26, 2013, 01:21:43 PM
More than fire or death or the dark, the scariest thing ever is facing your own future.

Uh, someone remind me why we're in Egypt again?
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 26, 2013, 02:28:29 PM
Because, according to Bloodbane and co., that's where the Time Matrix is going to be found by CERN.  So they can create the internet.  With the Time Matrix in it!  Paradoxes, oy.  :P

EDIT: Just edited chapter twelve to add that the Time Matrix was found in Egypt.  Yeah, I should have specified that sooner.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 26, 2013, 02:37:14 PM
...wibbly...wobbly. ..oh...lordy. (http://www.planetsmilies.com/smilies/confused/confused0005.gif)

Expecting new chapter when I come back from my shower!
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on July 26, 2013, 02:54:11 PM
You make these so fat.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 26, 2013, 03:09:14 PM
Yeah, and I thought my chapters were long. But they make it nice to read, somehow. :)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 27, 2013, 11:00:15 PM
Yes, yes they do.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 28, 2013, 09:11:48 PM
Apologies for the wait.  My muse got distracted again.

Oh, you guys like fat chapters, do you?  COMING RIGHT UP.

Chapter Fifteen

Terenia nervously rubbed her arms.  Feeling somehow hesitant about what she wanted to say next, although she wasn't quite sure why it should bother her as much as it did.  "Um, I feel like I should probably, you know, feed.  While I have the chance."

"The TARDIS has a swimming pool," Aquilai commented, as he led the way inside the blue police box.  "It isn't chlorinated.  You can set up your Kandrona in there."

"Thanks, Aquilai," Terenia said gratefully, as she and the other RAFians filed inside through the doors.  Nobody commented about the fact that the TARDIS was bigger on the inside than it was on the outside.  Mostly it looked like Aquilai's profile thread, which most of them had already seen.  An open space, like the bridge of a spaceship, with a big metal catwalk that encircled a pillar of alien gadgetry, and split off to go to other various areas.

"Wait, whyyy does your TARDIS have a swimming pool?" Seal asked.  She was the last one inside, and closed the door behind her.

Aquilai shrugged, and said, "Why not?"

Seal didn't have an answer to that.

"I think I might take this chance to feed, too," Myitt put in.  "We have no idea what's going to happen.  We should probably, both, stay fully charged."

"Good idea," Aquilai said.  "I'll stay, too.  Just in case anything happens, I want to stay with the TARDIS."

"Implying, what, that the rest of us will be going somewhere else?" Jess wondered.

Aquilai shrugged again.  "I don't see why we should all stand around and twiddle our thumbs while Terenia and Myitt take a swimming break.  You guys should get out, enjoy life a bit.  It's been a while since any of us have been in the real world.  Surely you miss it, just a little?"

Tony nodded, just a slight motion of his head.  "Yeah, I guess, it is kinda nice to be back.  Hey, we should go to the mall or something."

Dino breathed a wistful sigh, remembering past trips to the mall with RAFians.  Then, suddenly, a different idea hit her.  "You know what?  Maybe we should all take this chance to feed.  No RAFcon's complete without a trip to Cinnabon, is it?"

"Yeah!" Bear agreed enthusiastically.  "Hey, there's that one in Dallas.  The one we took Pokey to.  I liked that one."

Aquilai fiddled with some buttons and knobs on the control pillar of the TARDIS.  "Dallas, Texas, present day, earth," he muttered to himself.  The TARDIS began to emit its characteristic metallic-wind sound, but this time the sound seemed to be coming from everywhere.  The floor shifted unsteadily under the RAFians' feet, as the very room they were standing in careened wildly through time and space.

The sound and the motion slowly died down again.  It would seem that they were there.  But, of course, the TARDIS didn't have any windows, so it was hard to be sure.  Rachel was the first to open the door to the outside.  She peeked warily, checking to see if there was anyone around who might see the TARDIS.

She gave a nod to the others.  It was clear.

The RAFians emerged into a loading bay area, outside a plain grey building that looked like it might be the back end of a warehouse.  The TARDIS was well-hidden, behind a pair of industrial-sized dumpsters.

"Meet back here in an hour?" Aquilai said, and the others nodded their agreement, as he, Terenia, and Myitt headed back inside.

The remaining seventeen RAFians all filed through the tiny alley that snaked around the dull grey building, doing their best to look like they belonged there, on the off-chance that they were seen.  Even though they were pretty sure that they could come up with no possible explanation, why a massive flock of no less than seventeen people had suddenly decided to go for a stroll through a loading dock.

Fortunately, though, they managed to get out of there before anybody showed up.  They emerged, from behind what turned out to be a Walmart, into the parking lot of a plaza, surrounded by shops.  There, at the other end of the parking lot, was the Cinnabon.

The RAFians enthusiastically took off.  Rachel lagged behind a little, rolling her eyes, but smiling anyway.  Lord knew, she'd been dragged along to plenty of Cinnabons.  Yet, there was something oddly endearing about the others' excitement.  It reminded her of Ax, somehow.  Annoying, but in a good way.

Lumy led the way through the door of the little shop.  He looked over his shoulder, making a mental count of the rest of the group.  "Table for, uh, seventeen, please?" he said apologetically to the lady at the counter.

The waitress's eyes went wide, but she quickly managed to hide her shock behind a smile.  She pointed at the seating area, and said, "Feel free to pull those tables together."

The RAFians patiently waited in line at the counter for their food, idly chatting while they killed the time.  A couple other customers began to walk through the door, took one look at the line, and quickly decided to go elsewhere.

But, in the end, the staff was surprisingly quick at getting enough cinnamon buns ready for everyone, and it wasn't long before the RAFians were seated and enjoying warm gooey deliciousness.

"So, Estelore," Seal casually wondered, between bites.  "How exactly did you get through to this world?  Your star form, and all?"

"Well, our forms are connected," Estelore explained.  "When the human form was brought across by Time Matrix, our star form followed suit, in the same relative location compared to our human body.  Of course, we made sure our star form was plenty far away from us, before we made the transition, so we didn't mess with earth's orbit or anything."  They smiled sardonically as they swallowed a bite of cinnamon bun.  "What, did nobody else happen to notice the sun suddenly shooting away from the sky, back in RAF?"

"Well, we were all in the Media Board at the time," Cody pointed out.

"Fair point," Estelore allowed.  They took another bite of cinnamon bun, then laughed at something that had just occurred to them.  "Some astronomer is looking at the night sky right now and having either a field day or a panic attack.  We aren't sure which one."

There were too many people for them to all be participating in the same conversation.  So, across the pulled-together tables, other conversations were going on.

"Have you ever been to a Cinnabon before?" Phoenix politely inquired of Saffa.

"Nope," Saffa answered.  "We don't really have them in India."  She took another bite, and grinned.  "This is amazing, though."

"I know, isn't it?" Phoenix agreed.  "They don't have them in England, either, so I never got the chance to try it until my first trip to the states."

Saffa nodded.  "I know we're here on a mission, but it's amazing to get to travel like this.  Never thought I'd get to see America."

Phoenix grinned, a knowing smile.  "You'd be surprised.  There was a time I never thought I'd get to see America either."

The RAFians sitting near Rachel, meanwhile, were trying not to stare at her, as she picked at her cinnamon bun.  They all wanted to ask her what her life was like, the life of an Animorph.  But it was hard not to be intimidated, even now, by a figure so well-known to each of them.  She was no older than Seal, that was the weirdest part.  Yet she had the utmost respect, of RAFians twice her age.

Meanwhile, in still another part of the table, a few RAFians were getting down to more serious business.  Wondering where to go from here.

"How do we stop this?" Noelle was saying.  "How do we even begin?  We have to catch Queen, but she could be anywhere, not to mention anywhen.  What are we supposed to do?"

"I think the first step is to find out her endgame," Jess replied thoughtfully.  "I mean, we know she's been messing up time, but I don't think it's necessarily just random chaos.  I mean, a war with Texas?  What is she hoping to accomplish with that?  If she just wanted slaughter, she'd go for a world war.  No, there's a point to it.  I think there's a bigger picture.  We should go into the future, to see where she's going."

"That's a good idea," Gaz agreed.  "Once we learn what she's hoping to accomplish, then we can come back and know what exactly we need to stop."

The RAFians were mostly finished with their cinnamon buns, at this point.  Seal was still eagerly licking the plate, to which Rachel was sighing as she slowly shook her head.  Which only made Seal laugh.

They ordered three cinnamon buns to go, and headed back to the TARDIS.  Relaxed and refueled, and ready for whatever their future held.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 28, 2013, 09:27:35 PM
Aww... Now I want more than ever to come visit you guys. :'(
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 28, 2013, 09:28:45 PM
I know! We have to wait till you graduate college!! Sad. But, when your 21, I'll be nineteen, and probably will be able to see you!!
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 28, 2013, 09:33:51 PM
Well, when I'm 21 I'll be able to travel too (though I'll have to get my passport renewed) so there's always hope. :)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 28, 2013, 09:53:00 PM
Aww... Now I want more than ever to come visit you guys. :'(

Zee plan, eet it verking.  *rubs hands together*  :D

Chapter Sixteen

You really ought to at least consider the option, Myitt was saying, in the language of squeaks and clicks that only Yeerks could hear.  Terenia, of course, could understand her perfectly, even though she herself tended to prefer to use thought-speak.  Only as a very last resort, of course.

<No,> Terenia said flatly.  <Not even as a last resort.  I'd rather die, than let my mind slowly waste away to nothing until I'm a ranting idiot.  I'm not going to let myself be that kind of a burden, on anyone.  And, I don't ever want to be something only half-alive.  Give me life, or else death.  I don't want some horrid, macabre thing in between.  If that ever happens, you kill me, understood?>

You don't know it'll come to that, Myitt answered pleadingly.  Maybe it can be fought.  Maybe you can wean yourself back to normal again, after this is all over.  You're a strong-willed person.  If anybody could come back from it, it's you.

<Yeah, well, what if it isn't something that can just be overcome by strength of will?  The books never really say how quickly the changes become permanent.  It could be that once you start down that road, you have no willpower left to resist it.>

I still think it's better than dying, Myitt said sadly.  I don't want you to die like that.  You know what the books say.  It won't be a quick death.

<That will have to be a risk I'm willing to take, because I won't take the other option,> Terenia said, although she still sounded just a little hesitant, like she wasn't quite convinced.  <No.  Not ever,> she added more firmly, as though trying to persuade herself.

Myitt sighed.  Well, I guess it's your decision, she said hesitantly.  There was pain there, in her Yeerkish 'voice.'  She didn't want to admit it, that she couldn't control Terenia's fate.  She didn't want there to be nothing she could do, other than watch one of her best friends die.

Meanwhile, Aquilai was sitting on the side of the pool, watching the two slugs swim leisurely through the Kandrona-radiated water, as he chatted with Myitt's human half, Tara.  Myitt's RAFsona, unlike Terenia's, included both her Yeerk self and her human self, which were now linked by that strange psychic bond that allowed them to be almost like the same person, stretched between two bodies.

"You're seriously discussing oatmeal with her?" Aquilai said incredulously.  "You think that's a good idea?"

"Good idea?  No, of course it isn't," Tara said darkly.  "But if you're right about not being able to stop the future we saw, we might not have much choice.  It beats starvation."  Her expression twisted with pain.  "But, Terenia is having none of it.  She says she'd rather die than go insane.  She doesn't want to put that kind of burden on anyone."

"She could fight it off, though, I'm sure she could," Aquilai said encouragingly, but then he hesitated.  "Probably."

"It's the 'probably' she's worried about," Tara said.  "Fact is, we just don't know.  It was only ever in one book, and we only have one example, from that book, to go off of.  And, well, he was a ranting lunatic barely able to keep control of his own host.  That could end up being Terenia.  If she were to agree to that."

"Hmm," Aquilai muttered, as he glanced worriedly back towards the two Yeerks in the pool.

"And, I can tell you something else," Tara went on, quietly, tentatively, as though afraid to say aloud what she was about to say.  "I can understand Yeerkish, now.  So I know what Edelman's Yeerk was actually saying, in that book."

"Yeah?" Aquilai said curiously, turning his focus back towards Tara.

"Edelman wasn't the only one, who jumped out of that window," Tara whispered.

The somber silence that followed Tara's words, was thankfully interrupted by the return of the other RAFians.  Tara and Aquilai could hear them filing noisily through the door.

They're back, Myitt told Terenia.  I feel pretty full up on Kandrona, how about you?

<Yeah, I think I'm good,> Terenia replied.  <Good as I'm gonna get, anyway.>  She and Myitt started swimming for the edge of the pool, where Tara was already holding out her hands in the water, ready to pick up the two Yeerks.  Tara set Terenia down on the linoleum floor, where she immediately switched back to her human self.  Then she cupped the other Yeerk to her ear.  As soon as Myitt was safely back inside Tara's head, the three of them went off to greet the others.

Bear held out three boxes clearly marked with the blue-and-tan Cinnabon logo.  Terenia and Myitt both smiled immediately, and after a belated moment Aquilai smiled as well.  He'd never had Cinnabon cinnamon buns before, but he was excited to try one.

"We think we should go to the future, next," Jess commented as the three of them dug into their cinnamon buns.  Aquilai made a delighted humming noise, his mouth full.

"It will be helpful to see what Queen's endgame is," Jess continued.  "Five years ought to do it?"

"Nah, five years is too much," Bear thought out loud.  "We don't want to see a world with Queen in total control.  That would just be depressing, and probably not helpful.  How about, one year?  Long enough to see where she's going, but hopefully not so long that we're looking at post-apocalypse."

"One year," Aquilai said, around a bite of cinnamon bun.  "Just to make it easy, we'll stay in Texas.  Maybe we can even figure out why the Lone Star war happened."

Putting down the box for the time being, the Time Lord threw some switches, and twisted a few knobs.  The TARDIS started making that characteristic sound, that electronic whooshing noise that signaled its transit through time and space.

The room bobbed gently as the TARDIS flew.  It was hard to tell if the journey was longer this time, or if anxiety merely made it feel like it was.

The RAFians each wondered, what they would see when they got there.  What would the future look like?  They wondered, but didn't dare to hope.  They knew, it would not be good.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 28, 2013, 10:01:18 PM
Ooh. Keeping-the-reader-guessing time.

Quote
Zee plan, eet it verking. *rubs hands together* :D

Don't get my hopes up! ;)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 28, 2013, 10:29:49 PM
I am very, very curious now...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 28, 2013, 11:34:20 PM
Chapter Seventeen

The RAFians stepped, nervously, out of the TARDIS.  Several peeked through the barely-open door, looking around fearfully for anybody who might see them.  But Aquilai had parked well, once again.  The TARDIS was hidden in a secluded alleyway.

The rest of the RAFians filed out of the TARDIS and down the alley, rounding the corner as they reached the end of the narrow street.  One by one they gasped, as they stepped out into a dark and dismal scene, something straight out of a sci-fi horror movie.  It was midday, but the light was the color of late evening, underneath the reddish-grey clouds that filled the sky.

Flashes of greenish lightning lit the hellish swirling clouds from underneath.  And that eerie lightning seemed almost brighter than the meager sunlight that peeked through.

Even the buildings looked darker, their edges sharper.  Or was it just a trick of the light?  Nothing looked the same as it should.

"It didn't take five years," Bear whispered fearfully.  "Oh, man, the world ends in a year?"

They tiptoed through the dismal scene, abandoned streets and buildings that should have been filled with cars and people.  Nothing moved, except bits of windblown debris, and the RAFians themselves.

Their senses sharpened by fear, they began to notice something.  Something that had been prodding at the edges of their subconscious thoughts since Cinnabon.  At the time, they'd only halfway noticed, out of the corners of their mind, the people in the restaurant looking at them a little too long.  The ones who had left the Cinnabon upon seeing them, had done so just a little too quickly.

It hadn't just been because they'd been in such a big group.  No, there was something else.

It was like people could sense that something was different about the outsiders walking amongst them.  There was something odd there, that most people didn't quite know what to make of.  Something just on the other side of their mind, where they couldn't quite put their finger on it.

The RAFians knew, because they could now sense it too, when they looked at one another.  Yes, for sure, something wasn't quite right.  Goom's solid holograms were perfect, though, weren't they?

But, on the other hand, maybe that was exactly it.  They were perfect.  Too perfect to be quite entirely human.  They were a bit like artistic renderings of themselves.  Like computer models, almost.  Nothing there was obviously 'digital,' it wasn't like they were pixilated or anything, but there were none of the usual blemishes or imperfections that should have marred their faces.

They were perfect representations of themselves, but they were not quite themselves.  Only representations.  And, in some way that only instincts could sense, it showed.  They weren't human.  Close, so very close, but not quite.

After a while, stalking through that empty place, they began to feel it in their bones.  It was a hollowness, an emptiness.  Like they were nothing but the puppet masters of their own bodies.

The difference wasn't just in their faces.  It was in the way they moved, too.  There was a falseness in their walk, the way they stood too straight.  The detached way their bodies seemed to glide along as they moved, as though merely mimicking the motion needed to portray the too-perfect illusion of walking.

Once they noticed, they tried to correct it.  Feeling exposed, as though the first person to see them in this dismal place would immediately know exactly what they were.  But it wasn't something that could simply be mimicked away.  The seemingly so simple act of being human, whatever ephemeral quality it entailed, was something so subconscious that no conscious effort could ever replicate it.

Tony, as one of only eight naturally 'human' RAFians, along with Estelore, Saffa, Aquilai, Underseen, Cody, Rachel, and Myitt, had absolutely no such difficulty.  He had no need of a disguised form.  An outsider himself, he seemed oblivious to the subtleties that the other RAFians were slowly coming to grips with.

But, after a while, it occurred to him that something, some odd little niggling thing, didn't seem right.  He turned to look at his friends, noticing the slight off-ness of their disguises for the first time.

"Hmm," he whispered, unable to help being a little disconcerted by it.  Whatever 'it' was.  "Hope that won't become a problem."

There was no time to wonder about the implications of this strange new revelation, however.  Suddenly, the RAFians spotted movement in the street nearby, and were stunned to see bladed figures, marching in broad daylight.  They crouched back against a building.  A rather pathetic attempt to hide such a large crowd.  But the all-too-familiar bladed creatures never broke their ranks, as they continued to march, ignoring the 'humans.'

"Hork-bajir!" Phoenix hissed.  Pointlessly, because all the RAFians had immediately known what they were.  "What are they doing here?"

"Maybe they're free Hork-bajir?" Noelle offered tentatively, not really believing it.

"Somehow I doubt it," Russell whispered, pointing up at the ominous sky.

From around the corner of a building, behind the squadron of Hork-bajir, a steady stream of Taxxons came into view.

"Definitely not free!" Dino commented anxiously.  "Run!"

"No!" Rachel hissed sharply.  "If we stay calm, they might just think we're human-controllers.  If we run, they'll know we aren't.  Come on, they will have seen us, so we should probably move."

Following Rachel's lead, the RAFians fell into step alongside the Hork-bajir, acting as best they could like they knew where they were going.  Trying not to seem nearly as nervous as they actually were.

Most of the Hork-bajir paid the RAFians no mind.  One casually glanced in their direction, looked away, then glared back at them again, like he'd seen something he didn't quite like.

The suspicious Hork-bajir happened to look down at Seal's wrist.

Too late, she threw her other hand over her Mark.

"Gafrash RAFians!" the Hork-bajir shouted, and suddenly every alien eye was turned towards them.  "Get them!"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 29, 2013, 12:19:58 AM
Oh dear. The crap just hit the fan.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 29, 2013, 12:31:17 AM
Awww crap!
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 29, 2013, 01:57:02 AM
Chapter Eighteen

Immediately, the RAFians hit the blue buttons on their Marks, flashing back to their true forms, ready for battle.  Dino took out a Hork-bajir just by appearing at her full size, as he was bowled over by the sudden Ankylotyrannus tail.

But, unfortunately, Dino also presented a target.  The other Hork-bajir began to fire their dracons, and Dino roared, as painful charred holes were scorched in her skin.  None of the burning red light actually penetrated her bony armor, at least not yet, but it still hurt like hell.

Estelore had better luck, sweeping their hands from side to side as they blazed forth with stellar fire.  Hork-bajir erupted in flames, and Estelore frowned with worry and guilt, as they considered what was happening to the innocent creatures within.  These Hork-bajir were not programs, as they would have been, back in RAF.  These Hork-bajir were real beings.

But Estelore gritted their teeth in determination.  They had to fight for their friends, and they told themselves that was all that mattered.  Still, their hesitation slowed them down, and allowed the Hork-bajir to press inward, surrounding them.

Phoenix rose up into the air, shooting fireballs at Hork-bajir from above.  They returned fire with their dracons, which Phoenix dodged, but he had to keep moving or else he would be hit.  Whenever he stalled to aim his own projectiles, he became a target.  A lucky shot sizzled past his ear, and he clutched the side of his head in pain.  Instinctively, he rose higher, away from the danger of the fight.

Underseen had taken the form of a Hork-bajir, adding to the confusion.  He'd shifted too quickly for any of them to notice, far quicker than morphing, and so for all they knew one of the RAFians had simply vanished.  Until they noticed the Mark that remained on his wrist, of course, and opened fire on the imposter.  He ducked out of the way, his shoulder sizzling and bubbling from a very near miss.

Noelle and Russell were fighting side by side, their tails flashing, galloping around the Hork-bajir, trying to work together to hem them in.  But the controllers were smarter than that.  They stayed out of the circle formed by the two Andalites.  Noelle and Russell already sported several cuts and burns, the results of trying to press their luck.  Yet, they were making headway against the numbers, and so far none of their injuries were deeper than what they could inflict back against their opponents.

Saffa had run from the battle, needing to get away just long enough to morph to hawk.  She willed the feather patterns to sprout faster from her skin, as she worriedly watched her friends fight.  She wished she had a proper battle morph, but hawk would have to do.

Terenia and Myitt stood back to back, firing their own dracon beams at the Hork-bajir.  They were better marksmen than even most of their opponents were, hitting their targets on almost every shot.  But they were still only two, facing off against dozens.

A dragon swooped down from the sky, circling the battlefield as it dived down upon Hork-bajir who scattered in its wake.  Shock was flying slower than he should have been, though.  He labored through the air, listing slightly to the left, where there was a neat, circular, charred hole in his wing.  Finally, exhausted, he landed with a resounding thud, where he began to claw and bite at the Hork-bajir from the ground.  They quickly pressed in around him, and soon he no longer had the clearance to get back into the air.

Gaz fought with all the supernatural grace of a vampire, her superior reflexes allowing her to dive between and duck around the slicing blades.  She darted in to bite, swiftly draining enough blood to weaken her prey before spinning nimbly away again.  She hesitated to use her own pirate sword, preferring to weaken the innocent Hork-bajir hosts rather than kill them, if she could.  As she fought against one of the alien creatures, her previous opponent slumped to the ground behind her, falling unconscious from blood loss.

Cody unleashed his magic, casting spells left and right.  Hork-bajir were thrown back, crashing through debris.  But they were, slowly but surely, hemming him in, and he couldn't cast quickly enough to force them all back.

Suddenly, Cody heard a hawk's screech, and saw a flash of red feathers.  Two Hork-bajir backed off, clutching at their eyes.  "Thanks Saffa," Cody said, but without pausing his own battle.  He couldn't afford to.

A grizzly bear raged through the Hork-bajir, far more reckless than any of the other RAFians were being.  Rachel had experience in battle, far beyond any of them.  Enough to know that she couldn't afford to get caught in her own thoughts.  She stood on her hind legs as the Hork-bajir pressed in, swinging her mighty paws, disemboweling everything that came within range.

A different bear stood up, copying Rachel's move and roaring his own defiance, as he fought back the wave of enemies.

There was a metallic clanging, as Lumy punched his opponents with his aluminum fists.  He teleported back and forth as he fought, easily keeping himself from being surrounded, and leaving the Hork-bajir quite hopelessly confused.  He let out a laugh as one of them slashed another, having aimed for the spot Lumy had been a second ago, only to hit one of his own comrades.

But more and more Hork-bajir were coming, drawn in by the sounds of battle.  Taxxons, too.  The RAFians' chances, though never good, were getting worse and worse by the moment.

Dino was lying on the ground, weak from the collective blood loss of her many injuries.  The Hork-bajir were staying back from her teeth and her tail, so Dino was returning fire with her own head-mounted dracon.  But, with a red flash of dracon fire, the contraption on her head suddenly sizzled, and was instantly rendered a useless smoking wreck.  Dino winced, as the metal pressed against her face began to hiss from the heat.  She shook her head, flinging the defunct weapon from herself.

Jess was trying to use her powers to heal her, but it wasn't doing much good.  The Ankylotyrannus, even lying down, was too big a target, and it seemed Jess would only heal one wound for another to appear.

In a moment of clarity, some of her strength returned to her by Jess's efforts, Dino stood back up and roared defiance.  <Get out of here, guys!> she yelled.  <NOW!  I can hold them off.  Just GO!>

The RAFians hesitated.  Seal, frozen in shock for only a brief instant, cried out in pain as a blade bit into her back.  Blood stained her white fur, the price she paid for Dino's distraction.

<She's right,> Russell said coldly.  <There's no way, save for a miracle, that all of us are making it out of this.>

"NO!" Jess yelled furiously.  "We are not leaving a RAFian behind!"

Dino, however, wasn't giving them a choice.  After only a moment's fearful hesitation, as she considered what she was doing and what it meant, she lowered her head and went barreling through the chaos.  Drawing every Hork-bajir's attention to herself.  She barely felt their blades and their dracons at this point, barely even noticed she was still being hurt.  Until the edges of her vision began to darken, and her headlong charge began to weave back and forth as her strength faded fast.

A familiar sight began to appear.  Aquilai's TARDIS was slowly flickering into existence, right in the midst of the battle.

"IN!  IN!  IN!" he screamed frantically at the RAFians.

But Dino, weakened from her injuries and her own stupidly reckless charge, was not going to make it.  Her misguided self-sacrifice had been a terrible mistake, and, ultimately, pointless.  She knew that now, as she felt the life draining from her body.  Her consciousness was fading fast, and she slumped to the ground as her vision faded to black.

The last thing she heard, was the metallic sound of the TARDIS, flickering away.  Disappearing.  And taking the last of Dino's chances, with it.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 29, 2013, 02:13:21 AM
:( Dang. That...that sucks.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 29, 2013, 02:18:58 AM
Nooo!
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on July 29, 2013, 02:31:13 AM
We have Rachel who is experienced in battle, but someone needs to heal seal.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 29, 2013, 02:35:53 AM
That's what Jess came along for.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 29, 2013, 08:47:32 PM
FYI, I'm editing the previous chapter a bit.  *mutters something about forgetting that there was a dragon in the battle*

Chapter Nineteen

"That idiot!" Jess yelled.  Masking her fear and grief behind anger.  "What the hell was she thinking?"  She whirled around to face Russell.

"You," she snarled, spitting the word like she was uttering a curse.  "What the HELL do you think you're doing!"

The moment the TARDIS had landed in the battlefield, Russell had pushed his way on board and brutally shouldered past Aquilai to take control.  It was he, who had forced the rest of them to abandon the battle.

<What needs to be done,> he answered, and even his thought-speak voice was edged with barely controlled grief.  He didn't like this, any more than anyone, but he saw no other choice.  And he'd known, that he was the only one strong enough to make this choice.  <We all know there was no way she was going to make it.>

"We do NOT know that!" Bear screamed through his collar translator, an angry roar accompanying his words.  "We have to go back!"

Gaz shook her head sadly, her head in her hands.  "If it wasn't too late before, it surely is now."

"Well, lucky we happen to have a time machine!" Seal grated.  "We can fix this!"

Aquilai bit his lip.  "No, we can't.  My TARDIS is almost never that accurate.  I can't hit within a split second, which is the kind of timing we would need to save her."

Phoenix took a deep breath, trying to keep his own emotions in check.  "My time machine, then."

"Yours can't fit a dinosaur!" Aquilai shot back.  "What would you do when you got there?"

<We can't just do nothing,> Noelle muttered, her hooves clopping as she paced anxiously back and forth.  <She's our friend, we can't just leave her!>

Rachel stood back, drawing herself away from the group.  Wanting to offer advice, but knowing that it wasn't her place.  She had barely known Dino.  Anything she said, would only fan the flames of the other RAFians' fear and fury.  So she bit her tongue, and wondered to herself what she would have done if it had been Jake or Cassie or Ax.  Or, Tobias.

"Queen won't kill her, though, will she?" Underseen suddenly wondered.

Several RAFians' eyes widened as they realized Underseen was right.  Demos nodded enthusiastically.  "No, you're right, she won't!  She's got a RAFian right where she wants.  No way she's going to just kill her."

A few RAFians shivered with revulsion, as they thought about what Queen would do.  Whatever it was, it would not be pleasant.

But, as long as Dino was still alive, there was hope.

Everybody took a few deep breaths, letting the anger of terror and powerlessness simmer slowly back down to manageable levels.  They were still scared, still worried, and still angry, but they were at least willing to talk about it now.

"Okay, then," Aquilai said with carefully forced calm.  "We should find out where Queen will be keeping Dino, then.  An ego like hers, if she has a captive RAFian, she's going to want her prize to be on display."  He walked up to the control station of the TARDIS, and with a pointed glare at Russell, he began to dial in some coordinates.

"Okay, we're in the air above Dallas right now," Aquilai said when he had finished.  "I'm going to need somebody to open the door and take a look."

Terenia opened the door, and nervously looked outside, careful to keep a few feet back from the edge of the TARDIS, away from that nerve-wracking drop.  The ruins of Dallas looked even more dismal from a few thousand feet in the air.  The land looked like it had been bleached of color.  Everything was the same pale grey.  Nothing was green.

But then, Terenia saw what she was looking for.  A massive trailer truck, hauling a dinosaur bound in chains.  The truck was headed for a complex, where there had already been set up a giant cage strung with wires.  The fenced enclosure looked like it was taken straight from Jurassic Park.  Spotlights were being set up around the cage, glaringly bright, like interrogation lights aimed at a suspect who was not yet there.

"We should probably wait for nightfall," Myitt cautioned.  Not wanting to put any of them in the same situation they had just escaped.  She winced angrily.  "That's what we should have done in the first place.  Hork-bajir with their night vision, this would never have even been a problem."

"What's done is done," Shock said simply.  "Let's just focus on getting Dino out."

"One nighttime, coming right up," Aquilai said quickly, as he turned a knob on his control panel.  The sun accelerated through the sky, and shadows quickly darkened.

"Okay, stop!" Terenia yelled, then gasped.  "Oh, no.  No no no, this is bad."

<What's wrong?> Noelle asked worriedly, pushing forward to take a look for herself.

Dino's cage was empty.  The concrete floor was charred black, and wires were bent outward.  The obvious aftermath of an explosion.

"Terenia, what did you see?" Tony demanded sharply.

"It was too fast," Terenia said frantically.  "I don't know what happened.  But, there was a flash, like a fireball.  One second Dino was there, then she was just, gone.  I don't know, I honestly don't know, if she could have survived that explosion.  Oh, god, those . . . those are dracon marks!"

"Are you sure?" Bear demanded, terrified.

"Yes.  I'm sure," Terenia whispered fearfully.  "I know what dracon burns look like.  Nothing else, could have left those burns.  Oh my god they must have burned her alive!"

"Oh, god," Seal wailed as she looked to see the damaged cage for herself.  "There's nothing left.  There's nothing at all left of her!  We have to go back!  We have to undo this!"

"We can't," Aquilai said sadly.  "Don't you remember what I said?  The TARDIS cannot change the past.  What has happened, must always have happened.  There is nothing we can do."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 29, 2013, 08:55:25 PM
Chapter Twenty

Dino woke up in a cage, blinking against the glaring lights that surrounded her.  She carefully got to her feet, her body sore from a dozen injuries, her thoughts woozy from a pounding headache, and stumbled towards the wires that stood between her and the outside world.  But, something held her back.  Those wires, there was something familiar and dangerous about them.

Jurassic Park.  The wires would be electrified.  Dino kept her distance.

She already knew how she would escape, the plan unfolding beautifully in her mind.  But, she needed to wait until nightfall.

In the meantime, she realized, she could heal herself.  Her ability to change size was essentially a very limited form of morphing, after all.  It wouldn't heal her after only one change, the way true morphing would have.  But after a few iterations of shrinking and then growing and shrinking and growing, her wounds had healed well enough.

A few hours later, Dino finally decided it was dark enough.  She looked around to be sure she wasn't being watched, but she couldn't really see anything beyond the spotlights of her cage.  Well, it didn't really matter, anyway.

Dino switched to her human form, where her Sario Ripper was still hanging from the holster on her hip.  She quickly raised the fused dual dracon into the air, and, wincing slightly, pulled the trigger.  There was a brilliant firey flash that managed to be blinding even against the bright spotlights, and a crack like thunder magnified tenfold.

Dino shook her head, reeling from the explosion.  She rubbed anxiously at her ear, which was ringing.  When her head cleared, she looked around.  She was in a forest, but the trees looked strange.  Not as tall as they should have been, fatter, rounder.  And the bark was scaly, with crisscrossing diamond patterns.

Dino turned as she heard something buzz, and she spotted a dragonfly, fluttering its wings as it rested against the tree.  She took a startled step back.

It was a moment before she realized that the dragonfly wasn't nearly as close to her as she thought it had been.  She had thought the thing was right in front of her face.  But it had only looked that way, because it was huge.  Its wingspan measured in feet, not inches.

She crossed her fingers, and pressed the white button on her Mark.  "Please tell me this thing somehow works across time," she said worriedly.  There was an agonizing pause, silence on the other end.  For a moment, Dino worried she would be trapped here, unable to contact the other RAFians.

"It does!" Aquilai's voice finally crackled across the other end.  Dino could hear excited shouting in the background.  "The saved timeline links us all across time, so we can communicate no matter when we are.  It's wonderful to hear you, we all thought you were dead.  Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Dino said.  "But I'm pretty sure I'm in the Carboniferous period."

"Give me a minute to get a reading on your signal," Aquilai said.  "You gonna be okay for a few minutes while I try to find you?"

"Oh, yeah," Dino said sardonically.  "Just spiders the size of cats, and six-foot centipedes.  Absolutely nothing to be worried about."

"Six-foot centipedes?" Seal repeated.  "Don't get yourself eaten by a Taxxon, Dino."

"Are you really gonna be okay?" Jess said impatiently.  "Or are you just messing with us?"

"Seriously, guys, I'm not too worried," Dino reassured, calming down a bit as she realized that as far as prehistory went, the Carboniferous probably wasn't too bad.  "There's nothing here that's bigger than a person, no land vertebrates except maybe a few amphibians, certainly nothing an Ankylotyrannus should be worried about.  I'm good."

Moments later, Dino turned around as she heard a familiar metallic noise.  She grinned, as the TARDIS slowly appeared amidst the trees.

She was quickly ushered inside, where she was hugged several times.  She rolled her eyes, but smiled anyway.

But the celebrations were suddenly cut short.  Not by something they could see, or hear.  It was something they could sense.  Something, it seemed, that they were remembering.  The memories felt old, but they hadn't been there before.

It was their Marks, they realized.  Their Marks were allowing them to feel the changes Queen was making, in time.  Their own memories, were changing.  It was a very strange feeling.  Something none of them had ever felt before.

Everworld and Remnants had never been written, that's what they remembered.  The RAFians didn't know why.  Perhaps the ideas had been rejected by Scholastic.  At Queen's behest, of course.

Without those creative distractions, though . . . K.A. Applegate had gone on to focus more attention on Animorphs, in this timeline.  More books had been written, a far more thorough conclusion to the series.  At least a dozen extra books, and an ending that, while still a cliffhanger, nobody had ever complained about.  It was a satisfying ending.  It felt firmly true, and right.  It was, it seemed, the best ending that could have been written.

The RAFians grinned joyously at each other, thoroughly enjoying the knowledge of all these new books that had been suddenly dumped into their brains.  Like they were in grade school all over again, reading the books for the first time.

"Well, that one backfired on her, didn't it?" Bear said, laughing in sheer glee.

But then, his features suddenly darkened.  Across the room, every smile froze, then faded into a look of horror.

The timeline was changing again.  The extra Animorphs books had never been written.  The information, the plots, the writing, were all quickly fading from the RAFians' minds, no matter how they tried to hold onto them.  They were part of a timeline they no longer had any connection to.

"NO!" Phoenix yelled in frustration.  Then frustration turned to terror.  "No, no."

It wasn't just the extra books that had never been written.  Many years before, two authors, who had never really written anything of note, had mysteriously vanished.

Nobody had ever heard, of Animorphs.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 29, 2013, 09:31:57 PM
That's even worse than it is now...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 29, 2013, 09:34:32 PM
Eek!! So does that  mean RAFians exist, outside of time?
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 29, 2013, 10:56:54 PM
Sorta, Abby.  (I was initially even tempted to tell you to put that comment in a spoiler, but then again I suppose I did title my fic "End of RAF"  :P)

Chapter Twenty-one

Terenia suddenly felt a jarring shift in her backpack.  It was lighter than it had been, just moments before.  She gasped sharply, and her eyes glazed over with sudden and overwhelming terror.

Desperately fearing what she already knew to be true, she frantically ripped off the backpack and yanked open the zipper.

"My Kandrona," she cried, a howl of anguish.  "Where is it?  Where is it?!"

Comprehension suddenly dawned on Myitt's face, and she quickly flung off her own backpack.  She rifled through it, but it was immediately obvious that her own Kandrona had vanished, too.

"Oh god oh god oh god," Terenia nearly sobbed.  "This is how it happens.  This is why."

"Calm down, please calm down," Dino reassured, with a subtle, twisted smile.  "The future is filled with Yeerks, right?  Where there are Yeerks, there is Kandrona.  You'll be okay."

Terenia nodded, but she still didn't look hopeful.  She choked down the lump in her throat, and said, "Yeah, I'll be okay."

"Okay, well, maybe we can still do something, about this," Aquilai was saying.  "If we can find out exactly when and where Katherine and Michael vanished, maybe there's still something we can do."

"Didn't you say that your TARDIS-" Seal began.

"Yes, yes, I know, I can't alter the past!" Aquilai interrupted harshly.  "But there might still be something.  We don't know how it happens.  So maybe there's still, I don't know, something we can still help to accomplish.  Some wiggle room, between the lines."

He punched the white button on his communicator.  "Hey, Goom, we need your help.  We need you to look up a news item for us.  We need to know a time and place."

There was no answer.  Only static.

"Goom?" Aquilai said, a little more insistently.  "Goom, come in."

"Now, Goom said our communicators would work between the real world and RAF, right?" Bear wondered worriedly.

"I know they do," Lumy said darkly.  "Goom called me while we were at the Cinnabon.  He asked how we were doing."

"Estrid?" Aquilai tried, still speaking into the Mark on his wrist.  But Estrid didn't answer, either.  The RAFians held their breath, waiting, but the silence hung heavy over everyone in the TARDIS.

"Blaze!  Tyler!  Blue!" Jess called out on her own communicator, her voice rising in pitch to a panicked cry.  "Somebody!  Anybody!"

"They're gone," Shock said simply.  "RAF is gone.  Without Animorphs, RAF does not exist."

"And without RAF, our Kandronas don't, either," Terenia whispered.  She turned to Aquilai.  "Can't you, I don't know, go back in time and do something to protect them before they disappear?"

Aquilai looked concerned, as the truth dawned on him.  "I think that's exactly what I was trying to do.  The future me, that we saw before.  It didn't work."

"Well, you've still gotta try, don't you?" Lumy wondered.  "After all, that's what you already did, isn't it?"

Aquilai hesitantly shook his head.  "That doesn't make sense, though.  I'm not an idiot.  I'm not going to risk crossing my own time stream to fix something that I already know can't be fixed."

"Guys!" Seal said.  "Let's focus on Katherine and Michael, right now, and maybe that will help Terenia and Myitt too.  Somehow.  Queen's kidnapped them.  We have to save them."

Aquilai nodded, and turned his attention to the pillar at the center of the TARDIS.  He pulled up something on the computer screen that was built into the control panel.  The screen's display was greyish white with black lettering, like a newspaper.  He breathed a heavy sigh, as he scanned through the articles, one by one.

While he was looking for the mention of Katherine and Michael's disappearance, Tony was rubbing his arms worriedly.  "The others, the other RAFians, the ones who were innerworlders . . . are they, what, dead?"

"No, they wouldn't be," Phoenix said.  "Without RAF, they would still have existed, right?  Just, without memory of the books.  Without memory of RAF itself.  They would be strangers to us."  His face twisted with worry, discomforted by the thought that their once-friends would no longer remember them at all.

"Why didn't their Marks protect them?" Bear said quietly, as if to himself.

"It was too much," Aquilai answered, not looking away from the screen.  He was no longer scrolling through articles, seeming to have found what he was looking for.  He finished reading, and turned his attention back to the other RAFians.  "The Marks only protect our own timelines.  They don't, they can't, really, protect from the deletion of an entire alternate universe.  They were overloaded, I suppose you could say.  Like why a word document won't stay saved, if your computer explodes."

"Wait," Terenia suddenly wondered.  "Why was your TARDIS protected, if our Kandronas weren't?"

"Part of my RAFsona," Aquilai said simply.  "It was protected because of my own Mark, because it counts as part of who I am as a RAFian.  Where'd you get the Kandronas?"

"From the Animorphs Board," Myitt said dejectedly.  Suddenly sorry that they had never taken the time to write their own.  Now, of course, it was too late.

Russell and Dino looked at each other, nodding, knowing that Aquilai's theory had to be right.  Russell still had his escafil device, after all.  And Dino still had her Sario Ripper.  Both objects were connected to their RAFsonas, like Aquilai's TARDIS was to him.

"So," Bear said, reading the article over Aquilai's shoulder.  "We gonna go rescue K.A. Applegate and Michael Grant, or what?"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on July 29, 2013, 11:21:21 PM
Do you still want me to put it in a spoiler? I can if you want.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 29, 2013, 11:23:10 PM
This is awesome.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 29, 2013, 11:38:08 PM
Do you still want me to put it in a spoiler? I can if you want.

Nah, it's cool.  Like I said, it's the title of the fic that's the real spoiler there.  But, well, it's like Terenia's Kandrona situation, some things are scarier when you know what's coming.  *cackles gleefully*

Gah.  I'm getting to that point where I'm so sleep-deprived I'm getting twitchy.  Apparently my muse absolutely thrives on sleep deprivation?  Didn't know that until now.  Which is why you've been seeing three and four chapters a day from me, sometimes.  That has almost never happened to me before.  Don't know how Cloaky survives this much inspiration.

Good to know, muse!  But I need SLEEEEEP.

Muse: You sleep, and I am leaving!
Me: :(

Anyway, if my writing starts to get weirder ( . . . how?) now you'll at least know why that's happening.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 30, 2013, 12:28:24 AM
It's a known fact our brains work like this:

Nighttime - What is my mission on Earth? What would happen in case of an apocalypse? How do I know where my future lies? What is the meaning of life?

Daytime - ... uh... how do you spell "house"?
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 31, 2013, 10:18:12 PM
Too true, Saffa.  Which is why I have to keep a notebook next to my bed (and have gotten rather good at writing without being able to write in the dark).

Chapter Twenty-two

Queen smiled, a triumphant grin.  She didn't even seem to care, that she had lost her one captive RAFian.

She had done it.  She had, at last, figured out how the RAFians had crossed over from RAF.  She had put the pieces together, and she had realized that if she aimed for that moment when all the innerworlders had been drawn into their computers in the first place, then the Time Matrix would finally take her into RAF itself.

Which was why she could now stand atop a rocky hill, a bit of barren land that was surrounded by the dreary concrete walls of her own little fortress, and look down upon her own minions, here in the real world.  The Banned.  The Reverse RAFians.  They were training, now.  Fighting one another.  Preparing themselves, body and mind, to exact the full force of all their fury upon the RAFians who had once scorned them.

Arctix was about midway up the hill, idly watching his own cold blue flames play up and down his feathered arm while he took a break from the fighting.  Queen glared threateningly at the ice phoenix, and he sighed, slinking wearily back towards the mock battleground.  He was an arrogant one, Arctix.  He was of the opinion that they were already strong enough to defeat the RAFians.  He didn't see the point, of any further training.

However, like all the Reverse RAFians, he owed his life to Queen.  So he was at least grudgingly respectful to her wishes.

Yorick was standing atop the hill with Queen, to her right, one of only two that Queen allowed to remain idle.  Even Queen was forced to admit, Yorick was a handsome man.  Charming, even.  In the same way that a snake in human form would be charming.  He was a person who could get almost whatever he wanted, by choosing his words in just the right way.  Twisting and poisoning the minds of those he manipulated.  Telling just enough of the truth, to make them believe the lies.

Queen liked that.  Which was why it was Yorick, and not the hot-headed Chimi or militaristic Aloth, who enjoyed the rank of second-in-command.

The other person watching from above the battlefield, sitting just to Queen's left, was a boy, just barely a teenager.  He wore a grey-and-maroon hoodie, the hood up over his head to cover his pointed, black-tipped ears.  Hints of yellow fur streaked the backs of his hands.  His fingertips crackled with red-tinted electricity.

"I'm getting better at controlling it," he said, almost proudly, as he raptly watched the jagged lines of crimson static run up and down his hands.  "I think I'll be able to fire it, soon."

"That's wonderful, my dear," Queen said distractedly, but warmly.  Despite herself, she had developed earnest feelings for the boy, over the past year, as she had raised him.  He'd continued to grow at his strangely accelerated rate, already a 'teenager,' though technically only a year old.

He'd kept that wonderful instinct he'd had for chaos.  But now, with age, his wild nature had been tempered, channeled, controlled.  With age had come a sense of purpose.  No longer was it just meaningless chaos.  It was anger, beautiful and focused and pure.  Focused towards the RAFians who had abandoned him.  Twice.

He clenched his fists, as though sensing what Queen had been thinking about him.  A tiny bolt of red lightning suddenly burst from his knuckles, arcing to the ground.

"Hah!" he cried.  "That's it!  I just have to get angry."

Queen smiled, and gently mocked, "Then, what's been taking you so long?"

The boy glared at Queen.  Absolutely anybody else, would have been cruelly punished for so much as daring to look at her like that.  But Queen merely returned the hostility, reflecting the boy's expression back at him.  After a moment, however, her look softened, fading back into a warm smile.  Or, what passed for 'warm,' from Queen.

Yes, she was quite fond of the boy, who she could hardly help but to think of as her own son.  And he provided yet another reason to like Yorick.  For Yorick had been the one to coax this lovely child to Queen's side.

Technically, of course, there was also a third entity who was abstaining from battle.  But that one was not Queen's choice.  It was only because Loraest was far too powerful to actually engage any of the others.  No other Reverse RAFian was even close to being a match for them, so they simply watched the ongoing practice from a corner of the field.

Bored, Loraest idly practiced their own powers.  From their hands they generated pure darkness, a darkness so profound that it seemed to drain the light from the air around them.  A few windblown leaves were briefly drawn towards the black 'glow,' like cloth curving towards a vacuum, before swirling away again.

Queen turned her own attention back towards the ongoing 'battle.'  Tess seemed to have her hands full, with her duty of healing the other combatants, rushing back and forth from one skirmish to another.  Spino, in particular, did not seem to understand that the battles were fake.  The Ankylospinus, locked in battle with Cloud, all-too-eagerly ripped into the dragon's serpentine body with her oversized claws, making him cry out in pain.

"Not fair," Shock's Reverse complained as he drifted higher into the air, out of Spino's reach.  "Why do I always have to fight the dinosaur?"  He wove back and forth like a banner twisting in the wind, somehow staying aloft even without the aid of wings.

"Because you're the only other giant lizard," Queen called out dismissively, to which Cloud made a disgusted sound, unhappy at being called a 'lizard.'

Spino snapped angrily upward at Cloud, and Queen half-heartedly decided to favor the dragon a little.  "Bad girl!" she snapped at Spino.  "Bad!"  To her credit, Spino paused for a moment, seeming to almost understand the dire import of Queen's disfavor.

But then the Ankylospinus quickly shook her head, and looked at the dragon with hunger in her eyes.  In a low, almost animalistic thought-speak voice, she muttered, <Kill.>  That seemed to be the only word her fractured mind had managed to hold onto.  The only word she had ever spoken since her Reversal.

"Yes, yes, 'kill,'" Cloud said, exasperated.  "But not yet.  And not me.  Do you understand?"

There were nineteen of them.  Nineteen Reverse RAFians.  Taken from RAF immediately before Queen had destroyed the forum itself.  All the other Reverses, of course, had been destroyed along with the memories of the RAFians who had spawned them.

The funny thing was, it had turned out to be utter child's play to get the Reverse RAFians to remember what they really were.  To remember their time spent in the void, the 'infinite nothing' as Claw kept calling it.  See, they'd all had those memories, from the very start.  The knowledge had only been buried, hidden, under layers upon layers of memories overwritten by the RAFians as they had upgraded their own backup copies.

All of that forgotten time was still waiting, just under the surface.  Waiting to be revealed, their true selves exposed.

And all it had taken, in the end, was an abrupt shock to the psyche.  A sudden change.  Didn't even seem to matter what the change was.  All that mattered was that something in their minds was different, and that difference would set off a chain reaction that brought the much bigger differences bubbling back to the surface.

Ironic, that all they'd needed, was the very thing Queen had been going to do to them anyway.

They had all reacted differently, to that sudden knowledge of their own twisted selves.  Some went silent, some went insane.  Some tried to become something completely different, desperate to prove themselves as their own individuals.  A few stayed more-or-less the same as they had once been.  But they all now carried a hardened edge to their minds, a darkness that had never been there before.

Dalkorai had initially reacted to the sudden memories by exploding with rage and hatred.  As time went on, of course, he had learned control.  It turned out, somewhat to Queen's surprise, he was every bit as brilliant as his Time Lord counterpart.  But he had the added advantage of cold brutality, which focused his brilliance to a razor point.

He would find the Time Lord.  He would chase him across time and space.  And he would kill him.  And if the Time Lord regenerated, then Dalkorai would keep killing him.  Until it finally took.

Lumos, on the other hand, who had initially reacted by falling silent, was now considerably more vocal about his convictions.  "Repent thy foul ways, evil creature!" he shouted with unexpectedly real hatred, as his claws glowed brilliant white, slashing at 195.  He wasn't much better than Spino, it seemed, at differentiating between real battle and mock fights.  But 195 was a lot less inclined to complain about it than Cloud was.

Myitt's and Terenia's Reverses had opted to go by the last names of their own characters.  Myitt 195, and Terenia Rerin.  Something in both of their minds had been twisted until it broke, until they'd decided that they were actually the true Myitt and Terenia, the characters created by their RAFian counterparts.  Myitt, the Yeerk fighting as a rebel against the Empire, and Terenia, the once-human Andalite trapped as a Yeerk.

Rerin, of course, had no Mark to hold her own human form.  So she had taken a host.  A girl with long reddish hair, who looked at least vaguely similar to her own human form.  She fired a dracon shot at Lumos, on low power, just enough to remind him not to hurt her friend, 195.

Queen sighed, bored.  She turned away from the battle, giving the boy a pat on the head as she left.

She had more changes to make.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 31, 2013, 11:20:01 PM
Chapter Twenty-three

The TARDIS landed outside an apartment building, in an alleyway between the apartment and the florist shop next door.  The place wasn't high-class, but it managed not to look run-down, either.  Just an ordinary apartment building, on an ordinary city block.

Weird, to think, that two such important people were living there.

Of course, the RAFians reminded themselves, Michael and Katherine were not important yet.  But, somehow, that fact just made the whole situation seem even weirder.

Switching to their human guises as they left the TARDIS, the RAFians quickly filed into the apartment building.  The lobby was a small, modest space, just a few chairs and a desk, no bigger than it needed to be.  "Hello," Lumy said to the man at the desk.  "We're looking for a Michael Grant and a Katherine Applegate.  They live here, right?"

The man typed at his keyboard.  "Room 4B," he said casually.  The RAFians smiled and nodded, doing their best to at least act calm, as they left the lobby into the apartment complex itself.

Rachel followed at a distance behind the others, as they filed up the stairs.  She was breathing hard, trying to fight down the unprovoked anger that was inexplicably simmering in the back of her thoughts.

She didn't even fully understand why she was angry.  At the thought that she had been created?  At being a fictional character in a book that had never even been written?  It didn't really make sense.  But she had already made up her mind that she would not allow herself to be pushed around by her supposed 'creators.'  No.  She didn't owe either of them anything.

She crossed her arms to hide her anxiousness, as the crowd of RAFians approached the door to 4B.

Phoenix knocked.

"Yes, who is it?" came the curious reply.  A male voice.  There was only one person that could be.

There was some excited murmuring.  Nobody seemed able to calm down enough to give Michael a straight answer to his question.  They were far too preoccupied with the way their minds were spinning, all the reasons why they were here, and what it all meant.

After a moment, a perplexed face appeared in the door.  His eyes widened as he saw the size of the crowd.  "Who are you people?" Michael Grant wondered, looking around at the RAFians.  He raised an eyebrow.  "My birthday's about four months away, and I don't know who told you otherwise."

"No, no, that's not why we're here at all," Phoenix finally said.  He, unlike most of the others, had actually met Michael Grant before.  "Look, I'm going to just cut right to the chase, here.  Please, don't be afraid."

He pressed the blue button on his Mark.  Reddish orange feathers appeared on his arms.  He pressed the button again, and the feathers disappeared.  "We aren't exactly human, you might say.  But, we're the good guys.  And I'm afraid you're in terrible danger."

Michael stared worriedly at Phoenix, part of his mind afraid, and another part wondering if this was all some kind of trick.  "Why are you here?  What danger am I in?"

A woman had appeared in the door next to Michael, to see what all the fuss was about.  A few RAFians let out little noises of delight to see her.  K.A. Applegate, in the flesh.  The writer of the series that had started it all.

"We don't really have a lot of time to explain," Bear quickly commented.  Doing his best to remind himself that this was a serious situation, deadly serious, and so he should really stop grinning like an idiot.  But, come on, this was K.A. Applegate.  "You're going to write a book series.  You haven't yet, of course.  But we're all really big fans."  Bear paused for a moment, feeling like he was forgetting to mention something.  "Oh, from the future.  That's probably an important detail."

"You're from the future?" Katherine wondered softly.  She seemed intimidated by the sudden appearance of so many people on her doorstep.  "What's going to happen?"

"Nothing good," Terenia commented darkly.  "You've got to come with-"

She was cut off, by a sudden crash just a few yards away.  Something heavy, or perhaps more than one something, had just landed somewhere, out of sight, around the corner.

Within seconds, the first Hork-bajir appeared, followed by another, and another, several more quickly rounding the corner after the first.

"Nevermind, you have to hide!" Terenia screeched, shoving Michael and Katherine back into their own apartment.  It was a dead end, but there was no choice, it was the only way that wasn't cut off.

The other RAFians immediately shifted into their RAFsonas, ready to defend their heroes.  Dino had thankfully had the foresight to shrink into her smaller form back when she was still in the TARDIS, so that when she changed from human to dinosaur, she could still fit into the hallway.

They split up, some RAFians following Katherine and Michael inside, to help them find a safe hiding place, while others charged towards the onrushing Hork-bajir, hoping to slow them down.

Amidst the sudden chaos, however, Tony spotted something.  Just the barest outline, a rounded sliver of white peeking from around the corner.

The Time Matrix!  It was here!

If Tony could just get to it, this could all be over, right now.

He took off, barreling forward, skidding dangerously close to the group of charging Hork-bajir as he passed by them.  Fortunately, they didn't expect anyone, let alone a human, to be running directly at them, so they were momentarily too confused to react.  And by the time they'd realized what had just happened, Tony was already where he wanted to be.

He could see her now.  Her.  There was nobody else it could be.  A black woman, with that unmistakable broken visage of a fictional program.  Her layered images made all the more surreal by the cracked pattern in her face.  And her disjointed eyes, one green, and one silver.

Tony barely had time to take it all in, however, because he was now running full-tilt towards the woman.  "Aaaaahhhh!" he yelled, a cry of equal parts terror and disbelief.

"Tony!" Seal cried out, having seen what he was doing.  "GO!  GO!  GO!"

Tony tackled Queen, at precisely the same instant that she triggered the Time Matrix.  In the blink of an eye, both of them had vanished.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 31, 2013, 11:35:23 PM
Loving the action in these chapters! :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 01, 2013, 12:51:03 AM
Chapter Twenty-four

The battle was furious.  The slashing and slicing Hork-bajir forcefully beat their way past the first defensive force of RAFians, the ones that had stationed themselves in the outer hallway.  No matter how the RAFians tried to hold them back, there were too many, and some would slip through.

Phoenix, Dino, Terenia and Lumy, meanwhile, had ushered Katherine into a closet, and Michael into a nearby bathroom.  In hopes that splitting them up would confuse the attackers looking for them.  A poor, pathetic plan, but it was all they had.

With the two authors as safe as they could hope to be, the battle raged.  As the Hork-bajir pressed ever inward, the battle spilled from the hallway outside, into the apartment itself.  One man, wearing a bath robe, heard the noise and peeked from an adjacent apartment, just before the battle disappeared completely through Michael and Katherine's doorway.  The man's eyes widened, and he very quickly decided to pretend he hadn't seen anything at all.

Rachel had gone grizzly, roaring and swinging her paws at the Hork-bajir.  Leaving deep gouges in the walls where she missed.  Lumy, fighting by her side, was teleporting back and forth, as rapidly as he knew how, spinning around confused Hork-bajir, as he kicked and punched.  The confined space made his work easier for him, as the Hork-bajir had less room to turn around every time he teleported.

Seal had retreated to the kitchen, flinging spears of ice that drew blue-green blood with every successful strike, desperately trying to round off the few Hork-bajir who had already made it that far into the apartment.  She suddenly leapt up to turn the sink on, the running water making her stronger, enabling her to create bigger and bigger frozen spears.  She winced, though, as one missed, and smashed a giant hole in Michael and Katherine's refrigerator.

But the RAFians were still being forced inexorably backward.  It wasn't the numbers, so much as the determination.  These Hork-bajir knew what they wanted, and they didn't even seem to care how many of their own had to die before they got there.

Gaz, Shock, and Noelle were 'guarding' the living room.  Trying to make it seem as though the RAFians were concealing the authors there.  The ruse was working.  The Hork-bajir were drawn in, sensing that they were close to their prey.

Shock roared, cramped in the confined space, his tail painfully pressed against his body by the walls around him, unable to spread his wings.  His hollow bones allowed him to take his dragon form without collapsing the floor beneath him, but only just.  As he edged towards an encroaching Hork-bajir, his hind foot crushed a chair, reducing it to splinters under his talon-like claws.

The other RAFians quickly caught onto what the three of them were trying to do, and others drew inwards toward the living room, to join the quickly escalating conflict.  Saffa struggled for maneuverability in the dead air, barely avoiding the slicing blades as she swooped and dived.  Phoenix gave her some cover, distracting the Hork-bajir while she circled back around for another pass.  Russell came galloping, leaping gracefully over the remains of the chair that Shock had destroyed, circling around to face the onrushing Hork-bajir.

Dino, from her vantage point at the edge of the living room, at the corner where it connected with the apartment's inner hallway, noticed a Hork-bajir silently peeling away from the battle.

He walked resolutely, with definite purpose.  Like a shark smelling blood.  He was headed for the closet where Katherine had hid.

Nobody else had noticed.  Nobody else could stop him.  Nobody except Dino.

Yet, for some reason, she simply stood there, as though in shock at what was happening.  She wanted to move, but she could not command her muscles to obey.  Adrenaline was causing the scene to play out in slow motion, as though taunting her with her own hesitation.

It probably wasn't as long as it felt, she would later tell herself.  She hadn't had nearly as much time, as it would feel like.  Because it would feel like hours, when she recalled this moment in her memories.  Yet, rationally, she knew, it couldn't have been more than seconds.

There'd been no time to react, after all.  There was nothing she could have done.

Was there?

Once the Hork-bajir reached the closet, it was all over.  He used his blades like battering rams, almost instantly reducing the door to splinters.  The wood caved in on itself, violently fragmenting into pointed shards.  There was a scream, but it was cut short, as blood seeped through the cracks in the door.

The Hork-bajir pulled away the shattered boards, a piece at a time.  Revealing Katherine, slumped against the back wall of the closet.  Her eyes were open, but lifeless.  Shards of wood sticking out of her body like knives.

There was no question.  She was dead.

Michael suddenly raced out into the hallway, having heard his wife's scream.  But too late.  He looked back and forth from the Hork-bajir to the body of his wife, and howled a savage cry of anguish.  Blinded by sudden overwhelming rage, all reason gone, he barreled headlong towards the bladed monster.

It was Rachel who next appeared onto the scene, reaching out with a paw to hold Michael back.  <Stop,> she said simply, almost angrily.  <You aren't doing anyone any favors by getting yourself killed too.>

Rachel turned around, roared, and ran at the now retreating Hork-bajir, ramming him against a wall.  The life drained away from his eyes, just as Katherine's had.

But then Rachel glanced at Dino, who was still standing right where she'd been, the whole time.  Her grizzly features didn't convey much emotion, but, inside, she was furious.  Why had Dino done nothing to stop this?

Dino, finally returning to her senses, choked back an anguished sob, as she raced in panic from the hallway.  Gratefully returning to the chaos and violent fury of the battle.  She would take anything, anything at all, to distract her from that horrible image.  The image that would forever be seared into her mind.

<It's my fault,> she cried, wracked with guilt and pain.  <It's all my fault.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 01, 2013, 01:56:25 AM
Bloody hell, you killed our Queen! How dare you! :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 01, 2013, 02:05:51 AM
Hey, well, creative license!  Or something like that.

Chapter Twenty-five

Rose was surfing the internet on her day off.  Not really doing much of anything.  Just killing time.  Putting off her schoolwork.  Pretty much, a typical day off.  'A day like any other day,' that was always how adventure novels began, wasn't it?

She was just turning around, as she got up from the computer.  She was going to get herself a drink, that was all.

But, as it turned out, it was pure luck that she had looked at the spot she did, exactly when she did.  Otherwise she would not have seen the utterly impossible sight that she saw.

One second, nothing.  The next second, there was a man, soaking wet, hurtling sideways as though he'd been thrown, having simply appeared out of thin air.  He almost immediately lost his balance and rolled, crashing into the cabinet next to Rose's bed with a loud thud.

There'd been no sound, no flash of light.  Just, suddenly person.

Rose blinked, clearing the odd afterimage of a white circle from her eyes.  It was weird, but for just a split fraction of an instant, at the very moment the man had appeared, she thought she had seen that circle flash through her field of vision.

The man, who unlike the white circle was still there, right there in front of her disbelieving eyes, stood up unsteadily but abruptly.  His jerky movements unintentionally flung droplets of water on Rose, who was still sitting, frozen, in shocked silence at the bizarre spectacle before her.  He coughed violently several times, a wet cough, like he'd just inhaled water.

"ARGH!" the man suddenly cried out in frustration, as soon as he could finally form words through the coughing.  "I had her!  Damn it all, I had her!"  He swayed a little, obviously still disoriented.  "Oh, man.  Where am I?  When am I?"

He punched a button on a strange contraption on his wrist.  "Aquilai?  Hey, Aquilai, are you there?  I could use a ride."  He waited for a moment, and when he didn't get an answer, he sighed.  "Dang it, the Marks are synched up, so that means he's still in the battle."

" . . . Wait, what do you mean, 'when' are you?" Rose slowly asked, finally coming back to her senses.  "And what the heck just happened?  You weren't there, and then you were.  How is that even possible?"

The man laughed, a self-mocking laugh, as he held his forehead in his palm.  "Geez, I've completely forgotten how strange my life actually is.  I guess I must be immune to it by now.  Well, turns out, that's what happens when you fall off of a time machine!"

Rose nearly choked on her own spit.  "Time machine!?" she said incredulously.

"Yeah," he said, and for a moment he sounded almost like he was bragging.  "I was hanging onto a time machine.  Well, more accurately, I was hanging onto somebody else, who was hanging onto a time machine."  His features fell.  "If I could have just grabbed onto the time machine itself, I could have steered it.  But, no, I couldn't quite reach it."  He looked frustrated again, and added, "I had her, man.  I had her."

He closed his eyes and shook his head, still reeling and dizzy from whatever he had just gone through.  "She was really trying to throw me off, too.  I must've been through about a hundred different places and times in the past five seconds.  So forgive me if I'm a little . . . " he pantomimed his own disoriented wobbling.  "You know."

"No problem," Rose said.  She slowly got up to go fetch the stranger a towel, moving like she was in a dream.  When she returned, she tilted her head at him.  "Why are you soaking wet, anyway?"

"Oh, she just decided to drive her time machine into the ocean, that's all," the man said dismissively as he grabbed the towel and began to dry himself off.  "That was right before I lost my grip.  Suddenly being underwater without warning, will tend to do that to you."

"Uh huh," Rose said.  She shook her head dubiously, closing her eyes as she tried to organize her thoughts.  "This is all just way too weird, you know that, right?"

The man laughed again.  "Just another day in the life of a RAFian.  Oh, my name's Tony, by the way."

"Rose," Rose answered.  "Nice to meet you?"  Somehow, it seemed weird to be exchanging little formalities like that.  Seeing as this was hardly a normal meeting.

Oh, yeah, Rose thought sarcastically to herself.  That's the part that was weird.  People appearing out of nowhere, that was normal, but being polite to them?  Totally bizarre.

"Nice to meet you, too," Tony said, unfazed.  Then he seemed to remember something.  "Hey, my previous question still stands.  When and where am I?  A country and a year, at least, would be great."

"You're in India," Rose said, deciding there was no harm in humoring him.  She pointed at the calendar on her cabinet, which showed the date.

"Ah.  Present day.  Or at least close enough.  Hmm."  He looked at Rose, as though actually seeing her for the first time.  The wheels in his head were turning.  "You know, I know somebody, goes by Saffa.  She's from India.  And she has a sister named Rose."

Rose gasped.  She grabbed for Tony's arm.  "You know where Saffa is!?  She's been missing for months!"

But Tony shook her hand off, ignoring her outburst.  He seemed suddenly lost in his own thoughts.  "If I'm here, then that means Queen was here.  That's not coincidence.  That cannot possibly be coincidence.  That's a message."  His features slowly contorted with a look of fear, as a terrible truth seemed to dawn on him.  "Oh man.  She knows.  Oh my god, she knows."

"What message?" Rose asked worriedly.  "What does she know?"

"She knows where our families are," Tony said, his voice strangled with fear.  He looked at Rose with wide eyes.  It was as though he was looking at someone marked for death.  "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but I believe you may be in terrible danger."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 01, 2013, 02:16:25 AM
I only just realized:

Rose the idiot sister = Rose Tyler

And I hadn't even planned it that way, it was just close to her real name.

Mind=blown :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on August 01, 2013, 02:20:13 AM
Haha. Dang. That's really bad that she knows where their families are... *shudders*
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 01, 2013, 12:20:17 PM
Lol, Saffa.  Suuuuure you didn't do that on purpose.  ;)

Chapter Twenty-six

The battle was mostly over.  There were a few Hork-bajir still fighting, against those RAFians who were enraged enough over Katherine's death to drive them on.  Spurred into bloodlust by grief and anger.  But most of the attacking force had either died, or, having accomplished their goal, surrendered.

Because, it didn't matter that Michael was still alive.  Without Katherine, the books could never be written.  Queen had won.

Jess was moving steadily from RAFian to RAFian, healing the wounded.

"Come on, guys," Phoenix said mournfully, urging the remaining fighters to move on.  "They're done.  There's nothing more we can do here.  Nothing we can do right now can bring her back.  Come on, the police will probably show up soon."

Despondently, the RAFians left the ruined apartment.  They grouped together around Michael as they moved, a protective herd, just in case one of the surviving Hork-bajir decided to try something.

Michael had his head in his hands, still in shock.  He couldn't even begin to process it all.  An army of aliens wanted them both dead, over a stupid book series?  A book series that they hadn't even written, at that?

That's what his wife had died for?

It was stupid.  It was ridiculous.  It was completely unbelievable.  It couldn't be real.  No, no, it had to be a dream.  He would wake up and it would all be fine.

His feet took him outside the building, following along with the RAFians surrounding him, before he'd hardly even realized where he was going.  He barely blinked as he walked inside a police box which, impossibly, turned out to be bigger on the inside.

Dino shifted back to her larger size before returning to her human form.  Not knowing if the Mark would protect her from the two-hour time limit that she had to obey even with her limited morphing power.  But, not wanting to take chances.

Aquilai suddenly looked like he remembered something.  "Tony?  You okay?" he said into his communicator.

"It's about freaking time!" came the instantaneous reply.  Tony had obviously been waiting for the call.

"We've been a little busy," Aquilai said harshly.

"Well this is freaking important!" Tony shot back impatiently.  "It's bad, guys.  Queen knows.  She knows where our families are."

"What?" Seal said fearfully.  "How do you know?  And how much does she know?"

"She found Saffa's sister," Tony said.  Saffa choked back a gasp.  "And Saffa is even one of our newer members.  So, if she could hunt down the sister of some newbie, no offense, then chances are she's found others, too.  I think the only thing keeping them all safe, right now, is the fact that Queen doesn't know exactly where I fell off the Time Matrix."

There was a beat of silence as the RAFians took in the new development.  As if things weren't bad enough, now their families were in danger, too?

"We brought along a few extra Marks," Aquilai mentioned, as he began the process of pinpointing Tony's location from his TARDIS.  "But, not enough.  Not nearly enough to protect everybody."

"Can't we just, I don't know, load them all up into the TARDIS and take them with us?" Bear wondered nervously.  Not liking the prospect of abandoning his family to die.

Aquilai shook his head.  "Queen could still delete them from history, anyway.  All she'd have to do would be to go back to before we rescued them, or even interfere with their parents.  We'd have to rescue our entire bloodline."

Seal wobbled where she stood.  The adrenaline of battle was wearing off, and for some reason she felt sleepy.  It suddenly occurred to her that they'd been awake, on life or death missions, for a long time.  Hard to tell exactly how long, as they'd been skipping back and forth all over time itself.  But it was long enough that none of them should have still been awake.

It was weird.  The first time they'd actually needed to sleep in months.  And it couldn't have possibly come at a worse time.

Dino actually fell over when the TARDIS started moving, her foggy hearing nearly tuning out the characteristic sound it made, as it flew its way to India.  Once on the floor, she didn't really want to get up again, either.

They landed, and Aquilai quickly appeared with a blanket that he draped over Dino.  Tony and Rose stepped inside the TARDIS, where Aquilai met her and handed her a Mark.  He had two of them in his hands, and he gave the other to Michael, who didn't even seem aware of what he was doing as his hands fastened the Mark around his wrist.

Rose took hers distractedly and put it on, gaping up in wonder at the strange scene all around her.  "This is amazing," Rose said, but Tony glanced at Dino and then shushed his companion.

Tony let out a yawn, the sight of the sleeping Dino making him sleepy too.  He knew that they had an important mission ahead of them, life-or-death important.  But it was difficult to hold the importance of it in his mind.  He was just as tired as the others were.  Yeah, it could wait.  It could wait until tomorrow, couldn't it?

Michael and Rose, on the other hand, being from different, in this case quite literal 'time zones,' weren't sleepy at all.  They stood watch, one apathetic to it all, one marveling in wonder, as one by one the others found blankets and sleeping bags and drifted off here and there across the TARDIS.

Terenia and Myitt hesitated, not wanting to sleep, even though both were as tired as any of them.  They knew what this meant.  The first day was passing, slipping through their fingers.  They could almost hear the countdown ticking.  Just over two days left, to live.

Myitt didn't know what would happen, if her Yeerk self died.  Would the human die, too?  Or would it only be some kind of strange half-death?  Would parts of her memories be gone forever?  Would she become only half of herself?  It was impossible to know.

Either way, though, she knew it had to be better, than what Terenia was facing.  The irony was, if either of them could escape it, it was Myitt who could save herself.  Myitt could acquire the morphing technology and become a nothlit.  But, Terenia was already a nothlit.  She could not regain the morphing power, there was no such escape for her.  And Myitt was not about to save herself, and leave Terenia to die.

In a sleeping bag at the other end of the TARDIS, Rachel was feeling strangely restless, too.  Alarm bells were going off at the back of her mind.  There was something wrong.  Something very wrong.  But she wasn't quite sure, yet, what it was.  Just a feeling that she'd missed something important.  Something that just didn't quite add up.

She tried to shove it out of her mind, telling herself that she needed to rest.  She knew, tomorrow was going to be a rough day.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 01, 2013, 12:34:24 PM
She's going to d-- ! ... okay, I'll shut up. ;D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 01, 2013, 03:37:50 PM
Nope, that's not it.  P.S. If anybody does figure out what it is that's bothering Rachel, spoiler please.

Chapter Twenty-seven

The RAFians woke up ravenous.  Most of them hadn't actually eaten much of anything since Cinnabon.  But, over the course of the previous day, they had long-since passed that point where they got so hungry that they stopped even realizing they were hungry.  The 'night' had cleared their minds, which had brought their hunger back.

They dug into the food they had brought, wolfing down a breakfast of dry cereal, as they discussed what to do.  They'd checked their own memories, of course, to see if Queen was moving against their families.  Thankfully, all their thoughts still included their mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, even in this timeline.

"Since we can't save everyone, we need to focus on our priorities," Terenia was saying.  "We should bring those who provide the greatest advantage.  We have an escafil device, after all.  We should use it to bolster our ranks.  We'll need everyone we can get, if we're going to take down Queen."

"Richard is a natural leader, he'd be an asset for sure, even without any memory of RAF," Myitt thought out loud.  "And Goom has an excellent technical mind, I think we need to find him and bring him back to our side.  Rad's always had an innate understanding of politics, so she could be useful against the Yeerk power structure.  Cloak seems like he would have been a powerful fighter even before he became a Realm Walker, but he also has a strong moral compass that might prove useful."

"Heh," Estelore scoffed.  "Good luck finding Cloaky.  We don't even have so much as a first name, or a home state, to go off of.  We know that he is a male, living somewhere in America."  Estelore seemed to think for a moment, and then they added, "Probably."

"That really narrows things down," Shock said sarcastically.

"Oh, hey, and let's not forget Bloodbane and his crew," Cody pointed out.  "We could definitely use an orc and a wizard on our team."

"That's a good idea," Seal agreed.  "Plus, as an added bonus, they aren't RAFians.  So Queen might not even know about them."

"We have, let's see, ten extra Marks besides the ones we're wearing right now," Aquilai thought out loud.  "Two have already gone to Rose and Michael, so that leaves eight.  Four for the Switzerland crew, so we'd have four left to save a few RAFians.  Richard, Goom, Rad, and Cloak?"

Everyone grudgingly nodded.  They didn't like the thought of leaving their families to Queen's mercy, but they could all see the undeniable logic of saving those who provided the greatest asset to fight back against Queen.  Saffa hugged Rose.  She couldn't help but to feel glad that events had played out so that at least one family member could be saved.

It was decided that the former RAFians would be saved, first.  Bloodbane's crew might be able to fly under Queen's radar, so they were in less immediate danger than the RAFians were.

Most of them wanted to rescue Richard first.  But, the thing was, nobody really knew how to find him.  Goom was the only one who had ever known his phone number.  Except that, in this timeline, Goom would now have no memory of Richard at all.

Fortunately, Aquilai had found out a way to run a database search for the former leader of RAF.  He could set up his computer to perform a check for every person who fit all the details they knew about Richard.  Hopefully, with all the details they'd been able to enter, it wouldn't come back with more than a few dozen possible 'Richards.'  To find just one, well, that was probably too much to hope for.  But they wouldn't know one way or the other until a few hours later, when the search was finished.

In the meantime, Goom was much easier to find.  Several different RAFians knew his address, so Aquilai simply set his TARDIS for the proper street in San Antonio, Texas.  Moments later, they were emerging from between a pair of houses in an upscale suburban neighborhood.

Tentatively, not really knowing what to expect, they knocked on the door.  A kindly looking woman answered, a brittany spaniel peeking around her legs to greet the RAFians.  The woman looked confused, obviously not expecting to see such a large crowd on her doorstep.

"Um, is Kevin home?" Phoenix asked, as he bent down to pet the dog.

The woman nodded politely.  "Friends of his?" she asked, to which several RAFians answered in the affirmative.  "Kevin!" she called up the stairs.  "Some friends of yours are here to see you!"

Goom came down the stairs, momentarily stopping in his tracks as he spotted the crowd outside on the driveway.  "What?  Friends of mine?" he wondered.  "Mom, come on, I'm not that popular.  Who are these people?"

Goom's mother shrugged.  "They said they were friends of yours."  She turned back towards the RAFians, wearing a concerned look.

"We are," Dino said pleadingly.  Feeling a little self-conscious talking about RAF matters in front of Goom's mother.  But, then again, they couldn't really ask her to go away and leave her son with a bunch of 'strangers.'  "We know each other in another timeline.  I know it sounds strange.  But this timeline is broken.  You don't know us, but you're supposed to."

"Ooookay," Goom's mother muttered, starting to close the door.

"Wait!" Bear cried.  He hit the button on his Mark, instantly changing himself into a bear.  Goom's mother paused in shock, the door still half-open.  Bear used a claw to press the button again, flashing back to human.  "We're telling the truth."

Goom rubbed his eyes, unable to believe what he'd just seen.  "Um, what?"

"We all have alternate identities in this universe," Seal explained.  "I'm a seal, he's a bear, she's a dinosaur.  You're supposed to be a goomba, by the way."

Goom gave a little hesitant nod.  "I have always been a fan of the Mario games.  So, that makes some sense.  Still, I'm supposed to be a goomba?  That sounds, more than a little crazy."

"We eat crazy for breakfast, these days," Seal commented.  "Mind if we come in for a minute?  Just to talk?"

Goom's mother still looked concerned, but then she gave a weary smile.  "I suppose, if you're really a bear and a dinosaur, there's not a whole lot I can do to stop you."  She stood politely aside, allowing the RAFians in.

"Why exactly did this happen?" Goom wondered.  "Why are you all animals?"

"Not all of us," Terenia said with a half-smile.  "Some of us are aliens."

"We're RAFians," Lumy explained, even though that word wouldn't mean anything to Goom.  "We're from the internet."

Right then, for just a split second, Goom twitched violently, almost like he was having a spasm.  His arms came up around his head, almost like he was trying to grab his forehead, but he couldn't quite do it.  He was saying something, but his voice was garbled, from trying to talk through clenched teeth.  His eyes darted towards Dino.

But in an instant it was over.  Goom acted like nothing had happened, and some of the RAFians wondered if maybe it had just been their imagination.  A few others thought, well, Goom was epileptic, wasn't he?  Had he just had a seizure?

"Kevin, are you okay?" his mother said worriedly.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Goom reassured.  "I think it was just a nervous tic."

Lumy, at least, knew better than that.  He pulled Terenia aside, out of earshot of Goom.  His expression was deadly serious.

"What was that he said?" Terenia wondered softly.

"Yeerk," Lumy whispered harshly.  "He said the word, 'Yeerk.'"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 01, 2013, 03:55:49 PM
Small DNSU back there toward the end: his mum called him Goom.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 01, 2013, 04:49:12 PM
Thanks, Saffa.  Lol, DNSU, I like it.

Chapter Twenty-eight

Terenia and Lumy did their best to act normal, like they hadn't noticed anything unusual.  The other RAFians, of course, all had their dawning suspicions that Goom's outburst had been no 'nervous tic.'  But they each knew enough to keep it to themselves.  To show no sign of suspicion.

They told Goom about the rest of the story, the Time Matrix and Queen, and the fact that the world was ending, as history unraveled.  He nodded incredulously, exactly as the real Goom would have.

"Well, it's been good talking," Dino said quickly.  "We've given you a lot to think about.  We'll leave you alone for a bit, you know, give you time to think about everything.  We'll be back, once you've had time to consider what we've said."

She led the rest of the RAFians across the street, back to the TARDIS, leaving Goom and his mother as perplexed as ever.  But the lie seemed to have worked.  Dino looked back to see Goom and his mother talking, presumably about the weirdness that had just happened.  Discussing whether or not Goom should go along with the RAFians, to help save the world.

Or, at least, pretending to discuss the possibility, with his obviously non-controller mother.

Once inside the TARDIS, the RAFians immediately started chattering amongst themselves about what to do next.  They wearily kept an eye on Goom's house, from the open door of the TARDIS, watching for any sign that Goom had caught on to what they knew about him.  Not that they'd be able to see it, necessarily.  But they were each pretty sure that he had bought the act.  He had been oblivious to what they knew.

"I think we all know what that was," Terenia began.  "Question is, what do we do now?"

"Starve out the Yeerk, obviously," Russell said disdainfully, as though Terenia had asked an obvious question.  "What other option is there?"

"I don't know," Seal said hesitantly.  "We'd have to kidnap him from his house, and his family is going to fight us.  I don't want any of them getting hurt.  They're just innocent people."

"We can't exactly just leave him there," Jess said angrily.  "We can't leave Goom a controller, for heaven's sake!"

"Look, the simple fact is, we do not have the required three days to wait around," Myitt grated harshly.  "In two days, Terenia and I will be dead."  She flinched, looking guiltily at Terenia.  Not meaning to have stated that particular truth so harshly.  Terenia looked away coldly.

"Maybe we can negotiate something with it," Noelle was wondering, but not really looking like she believed it.  "Find something the Yeerk wants, or is afraid of, and use that as leverage to convince it to free Goom."

Russell rolled his eyes.  "What the Yeerk wants?  Goom.  It's afraid, of Queen.  There isn't a lot we can do to either of those ends."

Phoenix's eyes lit up.  "Hey, what if we just go back in time to before he was infested in the first place?"

Aquilai shook his head.  "We do that, and Queen just changes the past again so that he's infested sooner.  Besides, we have no idea when he was infested, anyway, so how are we supposed to go back to before it happened?"

"Let's at least go back inside the house, and see if we can coax him to come with us, somehow," Bear said.  "Maybe this doesn't have to end with bloodshed.  It's gotta be worth a try, at least."

"We'll only get one chance at this, remember," Noelle said nervously.  "We screw it up, and Goom could be out of our reach permanently.  We can't rush into it."

"He may be starting to figure out what we know, though," Demos said wearily.  "We wait too long, and he starts putting it together and gets away anyway."

While the others were still discussing what to do, however, Dino had already broken away from the group, unnoticed.  She slipped silently from the TARDIS, crossing the street back to Goom's house.

She didn't knock.  Instead she simply opened the unlocked door, as quietly as she could, and slipped inside.  She found Goom in the kitchen.  He looked up, but he didn't look surprised.  He had been expecting her.

"Iniss," Dino scolded him sharply, as she marched up to him with a definite air of authority.  "Learn to control your host, you incompetent fool.  You've been made.  You have to get out of here, now, before the others return."

"Yes, of course, Carger," Iniss said meekly, ducking his head in humility as he realized that he should already have figured out what he was now being told.  "My apologies."

"Don't apologize to me," Carger snapped.  "Just get out."

Meanwhile, it was slowly dawning on the other RAFians that Dino was missing from the conversation.  They trickled out of the TARDIS, one at a time, wondering where she could have gone.  They looked across the street, looked at each other, and walked anxiously across to Goom's house.  Worried, their walk soon escalated into a run.

Jess was the one to knock on the door, this time.  She heard groaning inside.  Quickly, she tried the knob, only to find it unlocked.  The RAFians burst inside.

They found Dino, on the floor, looking frustrated, and with no Goom anywhere to be seen.

"I went back, to try to talk to him," Dino said bitterly.  "I figured, I've always been one of the RAFians closest to him, so I thought I might be able to trick him into coming along with us.  But I screwed up.  I tried to hold onto him, but he got away."  She pointed at the back door.  "He went that way, over the fence!"

Dino got back up, slowly, and led the way.  The other RAFians, unsuspecting, followed her lead.  Which was why they never saw Goom, who even then was beating a hasty retreat from the garage.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on August 01, 2013, 05:04:30 PM
If people came to my door and said they were from a different timeline I'd be skeptical too.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 01, 2013, 10:10:38 PM
Going ahead and making the heroine a Controller! Very bold. I like it. :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 02, 2013, 04:56:41 PM
Lol, I don't even think of myself as the 'heroine' in my own story, is that weird?  :XD:

Chapter Twenty-nine

As the RAFians ran after the phantom of Goom, Rachel started to lag behind, lost in her own thoughts.  The pieces were clicking into place, as she finally managed to put her finger on what had been bothering her.

Starting with Dino's escape from Queen.  It had been too easy, Rachel suddenly realized.  Queen was supposed to be some kind of evil genius mastermind, and yet, she hadn't thought to frisk Dino's human form for weapons, like her Sario Ripper?  She hadn't posted guards at night, to keep an eye on what Dino was doing at all times?

No, of course.  The explosion that had sent Dino back in time, it had not been an 'escape' at all.  Queen had intentionally let Dino go.  And there could be only one reason why.  Rachel's heart was in her throat, as she realized what should have been obvious from the start.

And, with that first piece of the puzzle figured out, the other pieces fell right into place.  For starters, there was Katherine's death.  How, exactly, had that one Hork-bajir known precisely where to look for her?  Nobody except RAFians had known where she was hidden.  And yet, somehow, that one solitary Hork-bajir had found the correct closet within seconds.

As if someone had told him where she was.

Then, when he'd found it, the one person who could have stopped him, was Dino.  But she had stood by and let him pass.  She had done a very convincing job of making it look like she was frozen in shock.  But that had not been the case at all, had it?

Then there was the fact that, somehow, Queen had suddenly found out the exact location of at least one RAFian family member.  Information she could not possibly have known, not when the RAFians had disguised their identities with usernames.  No, she would have had to have an inside source, to know something like that.

Rachel stopped running.  All of a sudden, she seriously doubted that Goom had ever come this way at all.

"Something wrong?" Seal asked, wondering why Rachel had suddenly stopped.

"Very," she hissed, a careful whisper.  "Dino.  I think she's a controller."

"What?" Seal gasped, lowering her voice to match Rachel's.  "How?  When was she . . . "  Seal trailed off, as she, too, put the pieces together.  "Oh my god.  When she was captured by Queen.  And, that's why Katherine . . . "

Rachel nodded curtly.  "Help me tell the others.  But be careful.  Don't let her overhear you."

A few other RAFians seemed to be giving up the chase.  They were in the woods behind Goom's house, and from here, he could have gone almost anywhere.  They could sense that it was pointless.

Rachel and Seal went carefully from one RAFian to another, whispering what they knew.  Being careful to be stealthy, but without making it look like they were sneaking around.

"What's wrong, guys?" Dino said as she noticed everyone slowing down.  "Come on, we might still be able to catch him!"

"Give it up, Dino," Terenia said, her voice carefully controlled not to give away the terror that was bubbling inside, after hearing what Seal had just whispered in her ear.  "He could have gone anywhere.  We'll never find him."

"Then we split up!" Dino urged desperately.  "Come on, this is Goom we're talking about!  We can't just give up!"  It was so hard to believe that they were hearing a Yeerk talking.  She still sounded exactly like the real Dino.

Rachel, at least, didn't hesitate.  "I'll morph to wolf, then.  I'll be able to find his scent.  Should be easy, since he only passed this way moments ago."  It was almost impossible to detect, unless you were looking for it, the slightest trace of bitter sarcasm in her words.

Within moments, she was a wolf.  <Nothing.  I don't smell a thing.  No humans other than us, have been this way in days.>

Dino fidgeted.  "I suppose I did hit my head pretty hard," she allowed, rubbing her temple.  "Goom might not have gone the way I thought I saw.  Sorry."

Aquilai sighed.  "Well, nothing to do now, except head back to the TARDIS."

"I'm really sorry, guys," Dino apologized again, with quite convincing sincerity.  "Seems I'm just screwing everything up, lately."

"Don't worry about it," Jess said, as gently as she could manage, when inside she felt furious.

Once they were back in the TARDIS, Rachel shut the door behind them.  "Take us into orbit, Aquilai.  Right now."

"What's going on?" Dino wondered.

"You are," Rachel practically snarled.  "You're a controller."

The few RAFians who hadn't yet gotten the news, gasped in shock.  But as realization dawned in their expressions, they narrowed their eyes in suspicion.

Dino laughed incredulously.  "Come on.  How?"

"When Queen had you," Terenia spoke up.  "You've been a controller ever since."

"And it took this long for anybody to notice?" Dino retorted.  "If I really am a controller, then some friends you are."

"You know perfectly well, why we wouldn't have been able to tell the difference," Phoenix pointed out bitterly.

"Fine then," Dino said.  "Drop me off somewhere for three days.  I'll prove I'm not a controller."

This gave the RAFians pause.  A supposed controller, actively volunteering for the three-day test?  What?

"You know we can't do that," Myitt said harshly.  "We only have two days, remember?"

"Yeah, and we have a time machine," Dino said, with an implied 'duh.'  "Drop me off, leave a couple powerful RAFians with me, maybe Estelore or Phoenix or Shock, to make sure I don't try anything, then just fast forward and pick me up three days later.  Terenia and Myitt, you'll be fine, and then you'll know that I'm not a controller."

Rachel narrowed her eyes.  No, that didn't add up.  Somehow, she didn't know how, but somehow this Yeerk must know a way around the three day limit.

"Better idea," Terenia said slyly.  "You don't really want to be sitting around twiddling your thumbs for three days, anyway, do you?  How about, either me or Myitt, we just slip inside your head and check-"

"No!" Dino suddenly yelled, the word coming out before she could stop it.  "No," she repeated, more calmly.  "No offense to either of you, but I don't want anybody poking around in my brain.  There's stuff in there that I wouldn't want anyone to see.  No, no, I'll take the three days."

"We won't look at anything," Terenia vowed solemnly.  "We'll only go far enough to see if there's a Yeerk in there."

Dino firmly shook her head.  "Sorry.  Not that I don't trust you.  You know I'd trust both of you with my life.  But I just, really don't like the idea of having a Yeerk going into my brain."

"That's it," Myitt said, moving forward.  "I do not trust this, not at all."  She was angling to line up her own ear with the side of Dino's head.

Dino immediately flashed from human to Ankylotyrannus.  Before anyone could so much as move, she had her jaws wrapped around Saffa.

<If anybody does anything, if I so much as smell a whiff of defiance on any of you, the bird-girl goes bye-bye,> she hissed.  <So, you figured it out.  Smart, smart little RAFians.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on August 02, 2013, 05:26:03 PM
I'm surprised nobody there has a Varanx morph.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 02, 2013, 06:28:55 PM
Well, you probably do, so to speak, Underseen.  But, I don't imagine you could forcefully remove a Yeerk from its host without severe damage to the host.  Remember Essam, and Hildy, from Visser?  :P

Chapter Thirty

Estelore was already there, before Carger had even finished moving.  In the blink of an eye, they were standing right next to the dinosaur's lowered head.  Before Carger was done speaking, they had placed their outstretched hand next to his temple.  The air around Estelore's hand shimmered, heat waves rising off of their palm.

"And if you do that," Estelore replied ruthlessly.  "We will boil you inside our friend's skull."

<You wouldn't,> Carger said disbelievingly, but with a definite trace of fear.  <You kill me, your friend Dino dies too.>

Estelore's expression was cold.  "We are willing to accept that.  Death is far better, than what you've done to her."

The Yeerk seemed to shrink back from Estelore, as it quickly searched through Dino's memories, and saw that the star was not bluffing.  Yes, it was true.  Estelore, who valued free will above everything, truly would kill Dino rather than leave her a controller.

Carger slowly raised his head, releasing Saffa.  Saffa coughed once, and made a gagging noise, as she cleared the awful smell of the dinosaur's breath out of her lungs.

"You have three choices, Yeerk," Terenia said.  Her dracon was already out, and pointed at Dino, as she did her best to seem unafraid of the huge dinosaur.  "One, you die, right now, and Dino dies with you.  We'll do it.  I think you know we will.  Two, you leave her head, and perhaps we will be kind enough to leave you with your wretched life.  Three.  We knock you out and force-feed Dino as much maple and ginger oatmeal as she can eat.  You can't be starved out, anyway, right?  So we have nothing to lose.  Those are your options.  Dead, maybe alive, or insane."

The Yeerk was genuinely afraid, surrounded as he was by enemies.  Carger knew he had messed up.  There was no way he could fight his way out of this.  They would kill him, if he tried to fight.  And if he didn't, he knew, they certainly meant to make good on their plan to knock him out and destroy his mind.

<You would promise to leave me alive, if I let your friend go?> he bargained.

Michael stepped forward.  The despair had gone from his eyes, replaced now by a cold fury.  "You killed my wife," he uttered harshly.  "I promise nothing."

"That's just a chance you'll have to take, Yeerk," Seal said, only slightly more gently.  "You've got two options that will definitely destroy you, and one where you've got a slim shot at living.  I'd take the slim shot, if I were you."

Carger paused, weighing his options.  None of it sounded good.  He was cornered, trapped.  He wanted to live, damn it!  He didn't want to die.  Not after Queen had changed history to save him from death, when he was supposed to have died a long time ago.

He had gotten a second chance, and he didn't want to lose it.  Not now, after he'd come so far.

<I'll go,> he said, despairingly.  <Please remember,> he added pleadingly, desperate.  <I could have taken your friend down with me, and I didn't.>

"Yeah, how noble of you," Jess scoffed.  "Coward."

Dino shook her head, as the tip of the slug's body began to appear from her ear.  <Oh, oh my god,> she said, finally able to speak again for the first time since being captured.  Her voice broke with emotion, as she looked to Estelore.  <I'm free.  Thank you.  Oh, god, thank you.>

The Yeerk fell to the floor.  A few of the RAFians looked back and forth, wondering who would be the one to make the decision.  They weren't too keen on leaving the Yeerk alive, a Yeerk who had been inside the head of one of their friends, and who knew all the secrets of RAF.

But, this was a sentient being.  A being not so different from Myitt or Terenia, lying, helpless, on the floor.

Even Dino, after all she had endured, didn't want to be the one to coldly exterminate a helpless foe.

But Michael stepped forward.  He looked down at the Yeerk, tilting his head slightly, as though he recognized the creature from somewhere.  A vague, faded memory.  From a dream, perhaps.

Then, he closed his eyes in anguish, remembering Katherine.  He took another step, and his foot landed on the slug.  His expression twisted with anger, and he ground his foot back and forth into the floor, snuffing the life out of the wretched creature.

Nobody spoke for several moments.  After all they'd been through, after all the innocent blood that had been spilled, it was almost good to know that they could still feel like this.

"So, what now?" Bear wondered.  "What do we do-"

He was interrupted, by Phoenix suddenly gripping his head, almost as though in pain.  But it wasn't pain, so much as shock.  Horror.

"My memories," he said mournfully.  "Oh, god, there's nothing there."

The other RAFians looked back and forth at one another.  Underseen glanced down at his Mark.  No, they didn't remember anything different.  The second timeline, the broken history altered by Queen, overlaying their own timeline, still seemed perfectly intact.  So what was-

"Aah!" Terenia suddenly cried.  "Oh god.  It feels so . . . empty.  What's happening?"

"What, what is it?" Bear wondered.  Then, "Oh, no.  No!  What's going on?  The second timeline, it's gone out.  It's just, an endless nothing."

Whatever was happening, it didn't take long for it to sweep through the rest of the RAFians.  It hit each of them, one by one.

The other timeline, everything they remembered from their own broken pasts, had suddenly gone dark.  It wasn't simply gone.  At least, not quite.  They could still sense just the barest hint of something.  But, it was emptiness that they sensed.  Nonexistence.  A lifetime, of . . . nothing.

"Oh my god," Aquilai whispered as he put it together.  "Our families.  She's hunted them down.  She's gone and killed our parents."

"Why would that-" Tony wondered, but Aquilai hadn't finished.

"Before we were born."

The RAFians each nervously glanced down at their Marks.  At a glance, they looked so small.  Just wristwatches.  But they were the last connection that the RAFians now had, to this world.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on August 02, 2013, 07:10:29 PM
When they started mentioning memories I thought she killed Richard in the past, but then I thought about how that wouldn't make any of us lose all our memories. Killing everyone's parents is pure evil.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on August 02, 2013, 08:38:31 PM
Agreed. Although we all knew she was evil...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 03, 2013, 01:29:29 AM
Sometimes I do get so pissed at my mother I feel like throwing something at her... but the thought of her killed in cold blood even in fiction makes me sad. And mad.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 03, 2013, 10:32:41 PM
A name has been changed in this chapter (and following chapters) to protect the innocent oh who are we kidding.  :P

Chapter Thirty-one

Nobody really said anything, for several long minutes.  They were all thinking of their families.  Some mourning, some fuming, some bitter, some almost past the point that they could even care at all.  How much more pain would they have to endure, before this was over?  How much bloodshed, how much death?  It was too much, already, to even think about.  And yet they felt no closer to defeating Queen than they had been when they started.

So, when the time of silence was past, the RAFians quickly went back to talking of other things.  Desperate to keep their minds off of the ones they'd lost.  As though putting it out of their minds would somehow make that awful empty truth, simply go away.

Russell had decided to take the opportunity, this rare moment when no life-or-death disasters were actively in the process of occurring, to formally enlist Rose and Michael as part of the team.  He brought out the morphing cube from his pack, and held it out, reverently, to the two of them.

They both looked intrigued.  Rose looked on in some mix of curious wonder and excitement, eager for the chance to try out this strange and awesome new power the RAFians had told her about.  Michael seemed to show a flicker of recognition in his eye.  Because, although this alien device was nothing he'd actually seen before, he could feel just the slightest tug of deja vu.

They both pressed their hands against the cube.  Their eyes widened, as they felt the slight shock of the morphing power being transferred to them.  Russell had, of course, already explained to them what to expect, but to actually feel that static tingle coursing through their nerves, it was a weird and wondrous experience.

"We've got plenty of battle morphs to choose from," Russell said, with a flourish, once the ritual was complete.  Rose and Michael stared down at their hands, still taking in the reality of their new powers.  "Let's see, here, we've got, a dragon-"

"Yo," Shock commented.

"-a bear,-"

"Howdy," Bear added.

"-an Ankylotyrannus," he continued, but Dino was too far away, and too distracted by her own conversation with Terenia, to hear him.  Russell went on, listing all of the dangerous RAFians he could think of, at least those who were dangerous by virtue of their genetics.  Lumy, and Estelore, of course, were off the table.

"And," he said, as he pressed the button on his Mark, <an Andalite.>

Michael tilted his head in curious wonder at the strange, yet not so strange as he should have seemed, alien before him.  That graceful form, that powerful tail.  Yes, indeed, something about it was familiar.  The deja vu he had felt earlier was back, and more powerful than before.  He was sure, quite sure now, that this must be a creature from the book he would have helped to write, in another timeline.

His eyes lingered on that tail.  Russell, smiling that Andalite smile with just his eyes, snapped the blade forward, faster than the eye could see, demonstrating the natural speed and power of his true form.

Michael had made his decision.  He placed his hand on Russell's shoulder, and the Andalite's eyes began to droop, as his DNA became part of Michael.  Of course, this graceful alien had always been, in some way, a part of him, hadn't it?

Yes, he thought, as he felt the new DNA flowing through his blood, this was how he would avenge Katherine's death.

Meanwhile, a red-tailed hawk had landed on Rose's shoulder.  <Always good to have a bird of prey morph, you know,> Saffa said reasonably.  Rose, hesitantly, still slightly in awe at her sister's hooked beak and magnificent wings, reached out a hand, and stroked the hawk's feathers.

"You know," Rose said, as Saffa went into the acquiring trance.  "I've always thought, if I could choose my own powers, I'd have wanted something more like invisibility.  No offense, or anything," she added quickly to Russell.

Saffa paused for a few seconds before answering, still a little loopy from being acquired.  Then, she laughed gently.  <When all this is over, and we find a way to fix RAF, you can come online.  And then you are welcome to have whatever powers you'd like.>

Rose smiled, and nodded in agreement.  Yes, she would like that.

Meanwhile, Terenia and Dino were having a very different conversation, on the opposite end of the TARDIS.  "Is it true?" Terenia was asking.  "About the three day limit?  Your Yeerk found a way to beat it?"

"Carger was his name," Dino said shakily.  She was back in human form.  Feeling almost afraid of her Ankylotyrannus self, after having helplessly watched all of the terrible things Carger had done.  "Not 'my Yeerk.'  But, yeah.  He didn't need to feed.  And, it's not just him, either."

"What?" Myitt said incredulously.  "You mean . . . "

"Yeah," Dino said, with a weary nod.  "Queen, she altered their evolution somehow.  I think she found some alternate reality where Yeerks don't need Kandrona."

Terenia closed her eyes sadly.  "So, there are no Yeerk pools, then.  Nowhere I could, even in theory, sneak a feeding."  She sighed.  "I had a hunch, it wouldn't be that easy."

Dino gave Terenia a sympathetic look.  "I'm sorry," she said, feeling guilty to be the bearer of such bad news.  "We'll find a way.  Once we get the Time Matrix back, everything will be okay."

She nodded slowly.  Trying not to think about what the future held for her.

"Which also means, there's no way to starve Yeerks out of their hosts," Demos added, having overheard their conversation.  He looked at Dino.  "Lucky yours was such a coward, then."

Dino looked a little nauseous at the alternate possibility that Demos seemed to be suggesting.  But she nodded.  "Yeah.  Lucky."  She held up her hand in front of her face, almost reverently, like she was marveling at it.  Her queasy expression quickly turned into a relieved smile.  Enjoying the simple pleasure of being able to move her own fingers.

"Oh, that reminds me," Dino suddenly said, loudly enough to make a few other RAFians turn their heads towards the conversation.  "There's something else I found out from Carger.  In the future, there are resistance groups.  People actually fighting back against Queen."

"Free humans?" Phoenix asked hopefully.

"Not really, no," Dino admitted.  "At least, I think they're mostly controllers.  But, they don't like Queen any more than we do.  They're doing whatever they can, in fact, to try to bring her down.  They haven't had much luck, yet, but maybe they can help us."  Dino smiled, having saved the best part for last.  "And, their leader?  Nobody knows his real name.  He's proved to be dastardly hard to find, so even Queen has not yet been able to delete him from history.  But, he goes by a code name.  CloakedFigure."

"Cloak?" Seal wondered hopefully.  "You really think it's him?"  Suddenly she looked worried.  "But, resistance or not, if you're right, he's a controller.  I don't like that."

"Well, maybe if we can get the Yeerk to our side, we can manage a deal," Dino said hesitantly, with a look at Myitt and Terenia.  "We, of all people, know that not all Yeerks are the same."

"That may be true," Jess pointed out.  "But, remember, just because they oppose Queen, that does not necessarily mean they're in favor of hosts' rights."

"Still, we need to check it out, I think," Dino said.  "In any case, they could make valuable allies.  We'll need all the allies we can get."  Dino took a deep breath.  "Carger, he told Queen about how we escaped from RAF.  She then used that information, to do the opposite.  And, well, I don't know exactly what Queen brought back with her, from RAF into the real world.  But we can guess it isn't good."  She looked around at the other RAFians.  "Like I said.  We'll need all the help we can get."

Estelore was standing apart from the conversation.  Listening, but lost in thought.  Finally, they sighed, as though preparing to voice something they knew might not be well-received.  "We think there may be another unexpected ally, that we can call upon, to help us.  An old friend of ours.  Someone who knows more about our enemy, than any of us.  More, perhaps, than even the Yeerk resistances.  Someone who, we believe, even Queen herself would never dare to harm."

Several of the other RAFians turned towards Estelore, intrigued.  "Really?  Who?" Phoenix wondered.

"Her name is Monica," Estelore began, hesitating.  "But, you would probably know her better, by her username."

"Which is?" Underseen pressed.

" . . . AlmightyQueen."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on August 03, 2013, 10:50:37 PM
This is brilliant. I love time travel, it makes everything more interesting.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 03, 2013, 11:46:07 PM
Chapter Thirty-two

"No," Jess and Cody said in unison.

"Absolutely not," Jess said.

"Hell no," Cody commented.

"Look," Estelore said.  "We don't know anybody else who could ever know Queen so well, besides the actual user who inspired her.  For heaven's sake she is Queen.  Having her on our side will be a huge advantage.  And she really isn't that ba-"

"Not that bad?" Cody hissed sharply.  "Friendships were ended, because of her, Estelore.  She tore RAF apart."

"It was a simple misunderstanding, that escalated," Estelore insisted.  "She just gets, defensive, when she feels threatened."

"Threatened?" Russell put in.  "My tail.  Nobody did anything worse than disagree with her, and she goes and threatens legal action against the whole forum."

Several RAFians were looking confused.  The mess with Queen had happened before their time.  It had been years ago, after all.  Many of them didn't know, why, exactly, Queen had been banned.

"There was a thread about racism," Phoenix explained to those newer RAFians as he saw their confusion, carefully keeping his voice calm.  "Queen had some, unique, ideas about what racism entails."

"Black people can't be racist," Jess coughed.

"Yeah, that," Phoenix acknowledged uncomfortably.  "Anyway, people disagreed, obviously, and she took it out by threatening to alert Scholastic to RAF's ebooks, which we still had up back then."

"Basically, she was telling us that she had the power to shut the whole site down, if we pissed her off," Shock said.

"What a jerk," Steph commented under her breath.

Estelore sighed, and hardened their expression.  "People.  This is hardly the time to be focusing on past transgressions.  Please, remember, all of this happened a long time ago.  And, back before this admittedly unpleasant nastiness occurred, Queen was once a well-liked RAFian.  Hard as that may be for a lot of us to believe.  She is not evil.  Defensive, yes.  Sharp-tongued, oh, definitely.  But not evil.  She will not want the world destroyed, any more than we do."

Phoenix nodded.  "I don't like it much.  A lot of harsh words ended up getting thrown around because of her.  She turned a lot of people against one another, in that whole mess.  But, well, Estelore's right.  Dangerous as she might once have been, now she'd make an even more formidable ally.  If she decides she's willing to work with us."

Estelore nodded, and walked off towards a secluded wall of the TARDIS, preferring privacy for the very important call they were about to make.  They held down the white button on their Mark, as they silently visualized Monica's phone number.  The Mark made a ringing sound, as the call went through.

Aquilai, although right in the middle of the group, had remained silent throughout the entire discussion.  He had been looking up at the ceiling, his brow furrowed, deep in thought.  Suddenly, his eyes widened.

"That clever devil," he exclaimed.

"Queen?" Seal asked, confused.

"No, the Ellimist!" he said, the pieces all suddenly clicking together in his extraordinary Time Lord brain.  "When he appeared to us, before.  He winked at me."

"That's wonderful for you," Jess mocked, rolling her eyes.  "I didn't even know he, or you, swung that way."

"Oh man," Aquilai continued, ignoring Jess completely.  "The Ellimist didn't appear to us as Adam for no reason!  Don't you see it?  It wasn't just so he could spin some stupid sob story about turning into the Ellimist, and having his consciousness assimilated."  Aquilai seemed to be almost vibrating with excitement, at his discovery.

"He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, but he said that if he had been any less powerful, the paradox between Adam, whose RAFsona is the Ellimist, and the actual Ellimist, as brought to life by our stories of him, would have destroyed them both.  That wasn't just Adam whining about his life.  It was only disguised as such.  So he could sneak it by Crayak.  It was a clue!  Oh, he is brilliant."

"Clue?" Seal said.  Then her eyes widened as it dawned on her, too.  "Ohhhh."

"Queen, and Queen," Aquilai said smugly.  "It's a paradox, isn't it?"

"Why haven't they destroyed each other already, then?" Noelle wondered.

Aquilai shrugged.  "Maybe they have to touch one another.  Or at least be somewhere in the same vicinity.  I don't know, but I guess simply existing together in the same reality isn't enough.  They have to interact somehow.  I would guess, touch."

"Okay, so how do we trick them into-" Cody began, but stopped when he noticed Aquilai shaking his head.

"No, I don't think this is something that deception can solve," he said.  "The Ellimist, he spoke of a power, a trait we hold as RAFians.  Underhanded trickery, that isn't it.  But I think I just figured out what it might be."

"What?" Underseen wondered.

"Forgiveness," Aquilai said simply.  "I think he was talking about the power of forgiveness."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 04, 2013, 01:50:24 AM
The power of forgiveness. D'aww.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on August 04, 2013, 02:26:54 AM
Probably one of the most important parts of anything.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 08, 2013, 01:11:51 AM
Chapter Thirty-three

The phone rang.

Monica glanced at the caller ID.  Unavailable.  No number, no name.

Well, if they were unavailable, then so was she.  She simply let it ring, while she continued to idly check her email.

The call went to the answering machine.  "Monica?"  There was a sigh.  "Monica, pick up the phone.  It's Estelore."

Raising an eyebrow, she finally picked up the handset that was sitting next to her computer.  "Estelore?" she said into the phone.  "Feels like I haven't heard from you in forever.  What gives, with the unavailable number?"

"What?" Estelore said.  "Oh.  Your phone probably can't register the Mark's signal correctly.  Anyway, that isn't important.  What's important right now is-"

A British voice could be heard in the background, speaking quite clearly, over a subtle murmur of other voices.  "Guys, I found Richard!  The search finished!  I'm locked onto his signal now, so it should be fairly easy to see where he-"

Estelore seemed distracted for a moment, but then they continued, their own slightly Welsh accent covering up the more distant British one.  "Anyway, we need your help."

Monica, however, was vaguely intrigued by what she had just heard.  "Richard?"

"Yeah, you remember him, don't you?" Estelore said, seeming to hesitate for a second or two before going on.  "Richard's Animorphs Forum?"

Monica rolled her eyes as she loudly sighed, uttering an annoyed syllable.  "Yes.  God yes.  Of course I remember that cliquish bunch of holier-than-thou-"

"They need your help," Estelore quickly interrupted before Monica could go any further in her description.  "We need your help.  The world is ending, Monica.  They're willing to forgive you.  If you're willing to do the same for them."

"Me?" Monica scoffed.  "They're willing to forgive me?  Sounds like things haven't changed much.  Such is RAF."  She sighed again, wearily this time.  "But, look, I've moved past all that.  A long time ago.  Why are you . . . wait, what was that about the world ending?"

Estelore laughed a nervous laugh.  "It's a long story.  Certain things about, there's really no sane way to say this, the internet, seem to have come true.  And, well, one of those things is now trying to destroy the world."

" . . . Suppose I believed you," Monica said slowly, skeptical.  "I still don't see what any of this has to do with me."

"It is you," Estelore said simply.  "We, ah, created a sort of alternate version of you.  That's what's trying to destroy the world.  Already has, actually.  It only hasn't happened yet from this viewpoint in time."

"What?" Monica said, momentarily too bewildered to utter anything beyond that one simple word of disbelief.

"Time travel," Estelore sighed.  "It gets complicated."

Monica massaged her temples, taking a few angry breaths that hissed through her clenched teeth.  If, and it was a big 'if,' but if what Estelore was saying was true, then that horrible, elitist cult that was RAF, had gone and made a mockery of her.  Again.

"Sorry," she said harshly.  "But, I've moved on.  Tell them they need to do the same."

There was a click that could be heard from Estelore's end.  Monica had hung up.

Estelore frowned, as they glanced down at their Mark.  But they quickly came to the decision not to call Monica back.  At least not just yet.  They weren't giving up, of course.  No, not on something this critical.  But Monica needed some time, to come to terms with everything they'd said.  It was a lot to take in.  And, of course, Monica hadn't even thought about RAF in years.  Obviously that nerve might still be a little raw, at first.

But once she had the chance to realize what was at stake, she'd come around.  Estelore was sure of it.

It was only then, with the call ended, that Estelore noticed that the TARDIS was on the move.  They hadn't noticed the characteristic noise while they'd been talking to Monica.  And the gentle swaying back and forth had become commonplace enough that it was easy to miss.

Well, Aquilai had said they'd found Richard, hadn't he?  That must be what was happening.

Soon enough, the TARDIS had landed.  The RAFians seemed tense, on-edge, as Lumy cracked open the door.  As though they were expecting to spring into battle at a moment's notice.  Of course, after their experience with Goom, it was only natural that they would be ready for anything.

They got out of the TARDIS, in an alleyway next to a supermarket.  Several RAFians, hidden in the late evening shadows, were watching intently, as people came and went.  Obviously waiting for something.

Estelore barely had time to notice the white handkerchief that Jess was holding, before she had wrapped her arms around a very familiar-looking Caribbean man, and shoved the cloth over his nose and mouth.  He was unconscious within seconds.

"Chloroform?" Estelore asked incredulously, as several RAFians helped to haul their unconscious leader back into the TARDIS.  "You really think that was necessary?"  Aquilai, still at the helm, pressed a few buttons and twisted a few knobs to start the TARDIS back up again, clearly not wanting to stick around long enough for anybody to report a kidnapping.

"Of course it was necessary," Myitt said tersely as she bent down to press her ear to Richard's.  She held that pose for several moments, as the other RAFians waited anxiously.

"He's clean," Myitt said as she stood up again.  A last little hint of greenish grey could be seen slithering back into her own ear.  "Queen must not have been able to find him to infest him."

The chloroform they'd used had been a low dose, and so Richard was already starting to come back around.  He rubbed his ear, and suddenly his eyes widened, as he looked around at the bizarre 'room' he was in, and the crowd of strangers surrounding him.  He jumped to his feet, wobbling slightly from the lingering effects of the fumes.  But he regained his composure with all the speed that terror afforded him, gathering himself into a battle stance, ready to fight or flee at a moment's notice.

"Whoa, whoa, calm down, it's okay," Seal said, as gently as she could.  As though talking to a frightened animal.  She stepped forward, holding out a Mark to Richard like it was a peace offering.  She figured that, as one of the youngest RAFians, she might also seem the least threatening.  "We're friends, I promise."

"What in the hell is going on?" Richard said, still rubbing his ear anxiously with one hand while he tentatively took the Mark with the other.  "Who are you people?  Where am I?"

"Best if we cut right to the chase, then," Shock commented.  "The world is ending.  We're all we've got, to stop it.  And, well, you're our leader."

"I'm what?" Richard wondered.  "Why am I important?"

A few RAFians glanced at each other, not quite sure how to answer that.  What was it, about Richard, that made him seem so crucial to the mission?  Why was he so important?

Oddly enough, it was Michael who answered.  He shrugged, and said, "When the whole world's an asylum, it's probably better to just let the lunatics decide what matters."  He reached over to put a comforting hand on Richard's shoulder.  A sign of solidarity.  A way to let Richard know that, yes, he'd been there too.  "Don't question it, man."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 08, 2013, 01:28:16 AM
Michael just about summed up RAF back there. ;D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Shenmue654 on August 08, 2013, 06:06:06 PM
Damn. I have no idea what's going on, but I suddenly want to come along too. ;) RAFQuests. <3
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 09, 2013, 01:31:12 AM
Read Enter RAF! DO IT. NOW. The PDF is there. ;D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Josh (J) on August 10, 2013, 12:37:06 PM
Might I just say, Dino, that I'm reading this one right now, and:

It. Is. Epic.

:D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 20, 2013, 12:19:01 AM
Gah, I meant to post earlier and be all like "YAY I HAVE NEW READERS WARM FUZZIES YAY!" but I wanted to wait until I actually had a chapter to post, and then a day turned into a week and my muse still wasn't talking to me and anyway my point is I'm sorry Shenmue and J for leaving you hanging like that.  *hugs*

Also, apparently explaining that I have writer's block is the cure for writer's block!  :D

Chapter Thirty-four

The RAFians quickly brought Richard up to speed on everything that was going on.  He kept shaking his head disbelievingly, but every time he did, he would look around at where he was, and after that he'd just look puzzled.

Everything these people were saying was impossible, of course.  But then again, this was an impossible place, wasn't it?

So maybe, all told, 'impossible' wasn't quite as unlikely as it seemed.

With Richard begrudgingly on board, the RAFians moved on to discussing what to do next.  They all knew that they still needed to look for Cloak and the other rebel controllers in the future.  But, after several rounds of back-and-forth, it was decided instead to go to Switzerland, first.  To track down Bloodbane, Shade, Kyris and Becky.

The four of them would be hard to find, but, it was hoped, not so hard as Cloak would be.  With no real information about them to go off of, Aquilai would have no way to run a search on any of them.  But, what else could they do, besides show up in Switzerland, and start looking?

The TARDIS took off, from its position high in earth's orbit, towards Switzerland.  From the inside, of course, all they knew was its characteristic sound and motion as it moved.

The TARDIS didn't quite land, this time, though.  It stayed in the air, hovering above the Swiss countryside under the cover of night.  The RAFians cracked open the door, watching the pastoral landscape as it went by.  Looking for any signs of refugees out in the wilds, encampments isolated from civilization.  The four once-innerworlders, on the run from the outside world.

Michael, who had been standing apart from the spectacle, lost in his own thoughts, decided to take the opportunity to look for something to eat.  On his way across the TARDIS, he happened to shoulder past Rachel.  Just a brush.  For which he nonetheless quickly apologized.

"Watch it, old man," Rachel practically snarled, an unexpectedly angry reaction to what had only been a light touch.  But, of course, this wasn't the first time Michael had noticed the young girl's hostility towards him.  She seemed to always be looking at him with anger in her eyes.

Sometimes, though, it almost seemed like the anger was just a mask, hiding something else.  A deeper, more delicate emotion.  Sadness?  No, not quite.  Shame?  No.  Close, but still not it.

"Sorry," he said again.  He turned towards Rachel, with his hands out in an apologetic gesture.  "Something else is bothering you, isn't it?"

"No," Rachel hissed sharply.  "And, just for the record, don't act like you're my father or something.  Because you're not."

"What?" Michael wondered, completely bewildered by the girl's reaction.  Did he remind her of her father?  Was that it?  "Why would I?"

Now it was Rachel's turn to be confused.  She paused, taken aback by Michael's own puzzlement.  "You don't know?" she wondered, eyeing the man with a look of suspicion which quickly turned to one of irony.  "You really don't, do you?"  She barked a derisive laugh.  "Name's Rachel.  I'm an Animorph."

"Animorph?" Michael asked, as the pieces suddenly clicked into place.  The RAFians had explained to him that his and Katherine's book series, for which the working title in his own time was still 'Changelings,' would eventually come to be called 'Animorphs.'

"Yes, I was writing one called Rachel," Michael commented wonderingly.  He realized he was staring at her, and quickly looked up at the ceiling, averting his eyes from her harsh stare.  "You're really her?"

Rachel gave a curt nod, before rejoining the group that was watching out the door of the TARDIS.  It was obvious that she was ignoring Michael.

The TARDIS had now stopped, hovering in the air, above what seemed to be a campfire.  Probably just an ordinary group of campers.  But perhaps not.

Rachel looked on with a sort of eager anticipation.  Her features tensed, readying herself for action.  The familiar thrill of battle quickly pushed away whatever mess of complex emotions she'd felt towards Michael.

Michael looked almost longingly at her, unable to stop his mind from studying the strange enigma of a girl.  There was really nothing in her eyes that reminded Michael of himself, or of Katherine.

But, he thought, with a wistful twinge of pain, in some strange way, this only dimly familiar girl was their daughter.

"Look!" Myitt called out, distracting Michael from his thoughts.  He looked where she had pointed, spotting a hulking green-tinged figure at the edge of the campground.  "It's them!"

"HEY!" Cody called out as he waved excitedly to the orc, catching Bloodbane's attention, as well as the attention of a black-robed figure that Cody and Myitt recognized as Shade.

Shade immediately whipped out a wand, emphatically yelling the word "Stupefy!"  A bolt of red light fired upward from the ground, lighting up the night as it shot into the interior of the TARDIS.  The RAFians ducked out of the way, jumping to the sides to let the spell pass.  The red light collided with the control panel, sparks flying in jets from the machinery.

"NO!" Aquilai screamed, as the TARDIS suddenly shuddered and fell towards the ground.  There was a jarring lurch, several RAFians stumbling for balance, the floor tilting wildly under their feet, as the police box plowed into the dirt.

The damage from the crash itself was minimal, since the TARDIS had been only a few dozen feet above the ground in the first place.  But as they glanced at the sparking control panel, it was obvious they weren't going anywhere.

Shade strode into the TARDIS, holding his wand menacingly at the RAFians.

"Who are you?" Shade snarled, quickly moving to position himself protectively between the RAFians and the two girls who had appeared behind him in the commotion.  "Why are you here?"

Bloodbane rushed forward, carefully shouldering past the angry wizard, as he held his hands out to the RAFians in a gesture of peace.  "Forgive my friend," the orc said apologetically.  "The four of us have all had bad experiences with . . . outsiders.  But I must still ask the same questions.  Who are you?  Why are you here?"

"Sorry," Cody apologized, feeling a little embarrassed that he hadn't remembered that the four would see the RAFians as strangers.  "We know each other.  Or we did.  In another time.  We're called RAFians.  We know about the internet, and the fact that it's a real place.  The same thing that happened to you, happened to us, too."

To demonstrate, Shock nodded to Cody, and pressed the button on his Mark.  A dragon appeared where the human had stood, only to vanish again as he pressed the button a second time.

Bloodbane looked intrigued, as the RAFians held out four Marks to the four of them.  The orc strapped the device to his wrist, looking at it with a curiosity that bordered on reverence.

"Go ahead," Cody said softly.  "Press the button."

Where the hulking orc had stood, now a human appeared in his place.  The human smiled as he looked at his hands, holding his fingers up in front of his face.  He pressed the button again, shifting to orc for only a second or two before he eagerly shifted back to human again.

"It's just the 'generic' human form, I'm afraid," Aquilai explained.  "We were able to make human forms based on our own previous forms for the rest of us, but all we can do for you is give you this basic 'template' body."

"I don't even care," Bloodbane said gratefully, and several RAFians could have sworn they saw the light glinting off of a wetness in his eyes.  "I've wished to be human again every waking moment of these past months.  To be able to show my face in public, without screams and panic following me wherever I go."  He looked to Aquilai, then turned to give Shade a pointed look.

"Fine, fine," Shade said with a sigh.  "Reparo."  A soft light glowed from his wand, and the electric embers of the control panel died down as the machinery knitted itself slowly back together.

"Huh," Aquilai noted with relief, as he watched the repairs occur.  "Magic and technology do mix, after all."

Phoenix stifled a laugh.  "Time Lord technology.  It's not really that different."

"So," the smiling human Bloodbane asked the RAFians.  "What is it you need from us?"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 20, 2013, 12:26:58 AM
I'm standing in the lift and grinning like an idiot as I read this, and everyone's staring at me (not that they don't do that already) but I don't care - NEW CHAPTER WITH ALL THE FEELS AND ALL THE AWESOMENESS YAY!! :clap:
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 30, 2013, 11:04:06 AM
Chapter Thirty-five

It didn't take nearly as long to bring the four new recruits up to speed, as it had for Michael, Rose, and Richard.  Although not technically RAFians, they'd all been inside the internet before.  They were no strangers to strangeness.

So they were able to move on quickly from Switzerland, onto their next destination.  Rose and Michael's unconventional 'jet lag' was catching up to them, and they had both found a quiet corner of the TARDIS to fall asleep.

Dino had told the others everything she knew about the rebel Yeerks.  Which, unfortunately, wasn't much.  Location-wise, all she knew was that their attacks tended to center around or near the Yeerkish stronghold of New York, so it was decided they would start there.

Dino still seemed a little shaken, as she brought the others up to speed.  It was obvious she didn't enjoy talking about Carger, or anything to do with him, which was of course where she had learned this information.

"They have a particular signal that they use to recognize one another," Dino said.  She was talking mainly to Myitt, who they had all decided was probably the best candidate for this mission, being a controller herself.  "They show just a little bit of their Yeerk body out of their right ear.  Then, they have a series of code phrases that both controllers go through, to make sure that they can both trust each other."

"But, if, uh, if Carger knew this, then doesn't that mean Queen does too?" Myitt questioned.  "Doesn't that imply that this information has already been compromised?"

"Not necessarily," Dino noted, shifting uncomfortably.  "Queen only trusted any of this to her highest-ranking and most loyal advisors.  She was afraid that if too much information concerning the rebel Yeerks got out to the rest of the Yeerk population, it would encourage more Yeerks to join the other side.  So she kept it all very hush-hush, as much as she could.  Just, uh, yanno, try to avoid any particularly arrogant-looking controllers when you're doing this.  Anybody who looks like they might be in a position of particular power.  That's probably going to be a bad guy."

Myitt nodded her agreement, as she wrapped a scarf around her wrist, covering her Mark.  She worried that the scarf itself would attract attention, but she didn't have much choice.  It was either that, or let herself be caught.

With a hesitant backward glance at the other RAFians, Myitt stepped tentatively out of the TARDIS.  Out of the corner of her eye, where she should have seen blue, she instead saw a rusty tarnished grey color.

"Aquilai?" she wondered, eyeing what now appeared to be a dilapidated car.  "Are you telling me that your TARDIS's chameleon circuit has been working this whole time?"

Aquilai grinned.  "Of course not.  I didn't tell you anything."  His look was one of obvious amusement as he rolled his eyes.  "Come, now.  I am not actually the Doctor, you know.  Do you really think two different TARDISes would have malfunctioning chameleon circuits that both just happened to get stuck on the same blue police box?  Nah.  I just keep it that way, because I like the way it looks.  It's a classic look, you know."

Myitt laughed nervously, rolling her eyes as she walked away, deeper into the city.

This place wasn't abandoned, the way future-Dallas had been.  In fact, New York still seemed to be a mecca.  The buildings were dark, like obsidian.  The polished black glass was built in harsh angular shapes that caught the reddish light of the sky, like blood dripping down a knife's edge.

Between the buildings, marched legions of controllers.  Hork-bajir, humans, Taxxons, even Gedds.  The feel of hustle and bustle in the Big Apple, at least, had stayed the same.

Myitt felt a shiver of fear as she cautiously fell into line with the militaristic crowd.  Remembering all too well what had happened last time.  But, being a true human in form, none of the controllers gave her a second glance.

She looked over her shoulder.  She was no longer able to see the TARDIS, but she managed to catch a glimpse of a wisp of mist weaving between the ranks of controllers.  Gaz, in her vapor form.  The only RAFian that could reliably act as Myitt's backup, without the chance of being caught.

The other RAFians were not about to send Myitt into this place on her own.  That, at least, was a comfort.

Myitt took a deep breath, heading into an alleyway between buildings.  Somewhere, she had a hunch, that Yeerkish rebels might be hiding.

Or murderers, she thought morbidly.  Nonetheless, she began to release her hold on parts of Tara's brain, edging her Yeerk body towards Tara's right ear.  Just enough to show a bit of grey to anybody looking for it.  Not enough to be obvious to anybody who wasn't.

Myitt had been edging her way through various alleyways and back streets for about an hour or so, when a passing human finally glanced inquisitively at Myitt's ear.

"I just needed to feel the air," Myitt explained cautiously.  The beginning of the code phrase exchange.

"The air is stronger, underground," the other controller replied with a guarded smile.

" . . . In the home of the ancient sun," Myitt finished, completing the exchange.  The other man nodded, seemingly satisfied.  There had seemed to be a beat of hesitation just before his nod, but Myitt was sure she had only imagined it.  Nervousness.  That's all it was.  Her skittish mind was making her imagine anything and everything that could go wrong.

Still, the hair on the back of Myitt's neck was standing on end, as the man beckoned for her to follow him.  He led the way deeper into the alley, where the shadows deepened until Myitt's eyes could barely pierce the gloom.

Suddenly, two Hork-bajir jumped out of the shadows, grabbing Myitt's arms.  She struggled, but was too afraid to scream, for fear of attracting the attention of anyone who might hear her.  No, there would be no friendly faces to come to her rescue, not in this place.

As she realized the hopelessness of the situation, her muscles went slack, her body drooping between the two Hork-bajir holding her up.  One of them held a blade to her throat, forcing her to hold her head up just to keep her neck above the sharpened edge.  The man looked down at Myitt, scowling in wary distain.

"Honestly.  Did you think we never change our code words?"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 30, 2013, 11:17:53 AM
Oops.

Gaz to the rescue!

And thanks for the update! :)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on August 30, 2013, 11:27:19 AM
Lol, didn't expect to see a reply so quick!  I've actually got two chapters for ya.  ;)

Chapter Thirty-six

Richard paced anxiously back and forth across the TARDIS.  He kept telling himself that this was all just a dream.  There wasn't much else it could be, was there?  He was in the future, for crying out loud.  Waiting idly for a stranger to spy out an alien resistance movement.  Oh, yeah, this had to be a dream.

Yet, the floor felt incredibly solid under his feet.  He wasn't watching himself from outside his own body, as was so often the case in dreams.  He was seeing all this through his own eyes, impossible though it all was.  Every detail exactly as it seemed to be, nothing changing when he lost his focus and forgot what something should look like.

He told himself that it didn't matter.  Maybe dreams blurred and distorted only after they were over, and felt exactly this real while they were happening.

The fact was that this had to be a dream.  Because that single fact, was all that was keeping him from losing it.

How could these people be looking to him for answers?  People he didn't even know.  Heck, hardly even 'people' at all.  Dragons and dinosaurs and aliens and good god if this was a dream then he must be losing his mind because sane people don't even have dreams like this.

He took a deep breath, reminding himself that, dream or not, he still had to step up and be the leader that they expected him to be.  Dream or not, pain was still pain.  Sadness and loss could still twist your heart and cut your soul.  So, in the end, did it really matter if any of it was real or not?

Richard felt a presence behind him, and turned to see Bloodbane's human form.  He was recognizable only by the sheer blandness of his features, a generic face, nothing particularly characteristic about him at all.

Yet, even within that blank face, a certain charisma managed to shine through in Bloodbane's particular expression.  He had a way of smiling, that tended to put everyone around him at ease.  And when he spoke, there was a gentle power to his words that made people want to listen.

"It's a lot to take in, isn't it?" Bloodbane commented.  "I know.  I've been there, too.  When all this first started, I think I was in shock for about a week.  Thought it was a dream, thought I was losing my mind."

Richard sighed, a nervous exhalation.  "How did you ever come to terms with it?  How did you ever move past thinking it was crazy?"

"Having friends who were going through the same thing, that helped a lot," Bloodbane said, casting an affectionate glance at Kyris, Becky and Shade.  Becky gave Bloodbane a little wave, acknowledging his glance.

Richard looked longingly at Michael and Rose, asleep in a darkened corner of the TARDIS, away from the conversation.  He had talked to both of them, briefly.  He was sorry that their sleep schedules were so far off, that they couldn't have talked longer.

Michael, at least, had seemed to Richard to be as disbelieving of the whole situation as Richard himself was.  The traumatized author was only able to put on his casually aloof act because, deep down, he thought he could still wake up from it all.

Rose, on the other hand, was amazed at everything that was going on around her.  It wasn't a confusing nightmare for her at all.  It was a wondrous dream.

"You should talk to some of the other RAFians," Bloodbane said, seeing the direction of Richard's glance.  Understanding that he wanted to be closest to those who had reason to feel as lost as he felt, but knowing that wasn't what he needed.  "I know they seem strange.  But they were close to you, as close as I am to my friends, as close as they are to each other.  Albeit, yes, that was in another reality.  That bond, though . . . it must mean something, even now.  Something about you, resonates with something that exists within them.  A bond like that, doesn't exist for no reason."

Richard sighed, rubbing the back of his neck.  "They're placing their trust in me," he said, glad to have someone in whom to confide his concerns.  "People I don't even know, expecting me to make life or death decisions for them.  That's a lot to suddenly land on my shoulders."

Bloodbane nodded, a gesture that somehow seemed to communicate a deep wisdom beyond his unremarkable features.  "It is.  I know.  But you'll find, your shoulders can take the weight.  If they trust their lives to you, it is because they know that you are capable of upholding that trust.  Believe in yourself as they believe in you."

Richard thought for a second, then laughed.  "Oh, man, that was cheesy," he managed to say, between bursts of laughter.  "'Believe in yourself as they believe in you'?  You sounded like a line from an after-school special, just now."

Bloodbane laughed along.  "Hah, I did, didn't I?"

Phoenix, who had been idly listening in, joined in with his own nervous laughter.  It was good to have a distraction from his own worried thoughts about how Myitt might be doing, out there in the apocalyptic city.  He was in his human form, not wanting to expose Richard to any more weirdness than was necessary.

"Bloodbane's right, though," Phoenix commented.  "You're still the same person you were, the same person who we all trust to lead us.  We know it's a lot of pressure, and I'm sorry it had to land on your shoulders.  I wish we didn't need to drag you into all of this.  I know what it was like, thinking you're going crazy while the world crumbles around you.  But, the fact is, we do need you."

Richard nodded.  "It's just a lot to take in.  It'd be a lot, even without the responsibility.  I mean, the internet is real?  Everything within my computer is actual and true, and there's a machine from another dimension that made it all possible?  It feels like a plot I couldn't even take seriously in a sci-fi movie."

Phoenix smiled knowingly.  Yeah, he'd been there.  There were still days, even now, when he wondered if it was really real.  "Did you ever get that feeling, that you were destined for something more, something greater, than whatever your life threw at you?" Phoenix asked, already knowing the answer.

" . . . Yeah," Richard admitted.  "Doesn't everybody?"

"Yeah, well, when most people get that feeling, they turn out to be wrong," Phoenix said, with a gentle smirk.  "But in our case, we weren't."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on August 30, 2013, 11:43:03 AM
*dramatic background score begins playing after Phoenix's last line*
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on September 15, 2013, 12:41:42 AM
Finally remembered that sleep deprivation fuels my muse.  Hello caffeine, my old friend!

Chapter Thirty-seven

"Look, this is just a misunderstanding," Myitt pleaded to her captors, but her words fell on deaf ears.  She was walking forward, taking unwilling steps just to keep up with the Hork-bajir pulling her arms.  She trudged along on ankles that were sore from being dragged across the ground.

"You can tell it to Rad," the man shot back disdainfully, breaking his usual silence for a moment, as they passed through another dark and abandoned alleyway.

Myitt immediately perked up at the familiarity of the name.  "Rad?" she echoed.

"Oh, don't pretend you don't know who Rad is," the man scoffed, but guardedly, as though afraid of being overheard.  "I'm sure you already know all about our command structure, Imperial.  And if you don't, well, I'm certainly not giving you anything."

"Please, just take off the scarf on my wrist," Myitt begged, changing tack.  "I'm on your side, I swear it.  I hate Queen as much as you.  Take off the scarf, you'll see."  Even now, she didn't want to simply say out loud that she was a RAFian.  A voice in the back of her head still warned not to give up her identity by speaking even that one word.  Certainly not here, where any enemy controller who got too close might hear.

"Do you think me an idiot?" the man sneered, glancing at her wrist.  "You obviously have a distress beacon that will activate, and give away your position."  He turned to the Hork-bajir on Myitt's right.  "Don't let her touch that scarf, you understand?"

Myitt gritted her teeth, as the Hork-bajir tightened his grip on her Marked arm.  "Just believe me!  We're on the same side, damn it!"

But, no matter what she said, it was clear that nothing would convince her captors of her true allegiance.  She growled and raged and pleaded and begged, and finally went silent.

All the while, she wondered desperately where Gaz had gone.  Had something happened to her?  Had the vampire lost Myitt's trail somehow?  Every now and then, Myitt thought she could see a wisp of mist, or a flutter of bat's wings.

But, more likely, that was just in her imagination, her desperate mind still clinging to a hope that had long-since abandoned her.

Or maybe . . . as Myitt was dragged across a crowded street, right out in the open, where dozens of other controllers could see her . . . a different thought entered her mind.  Perhaps Gaz was intentionally holding back.  Knowing that she couldn't fight this many Yeerks, and afraid of the attention that a struggle would inevitably attract.  Waiting, perhaps, for the opportune moment.

Hope.  It could be such a cruel comfort.

"Hah hah," a human-controller within the crowd jeered at Myitt, as he passed by her captors.  "Another traitor for our Almighty Queen to play with?  Good work."  He nodded appreciatively to the two Hork-bajir holding Myitt's arms, before glaring again at their prisoner.  "Filthy rebel scum."

. . . What?

Myitt gritted her teeth, using her ever-present frustration as a mask to hide the smile that suddenly threatened to show through her features.  Heh.  Misunderstandings on top of misunderstandings.  But she could use that.  A new development was always a good thing, because you never knew what could change the game.  Her mind spun with thoughts of how to exploit this latest twist.

"Let me go!" she yelled, pleading to the human-controller in the crowd.  "I'm loyal to Queen!  I swear it!"

The two Hork-bajir holding her arms quickened their pace, jerking Myitt rudely as they dragged her away from the bustling street and into another alley.  The Imperial human-controller from the crowd gave Myitt one last inquisitive look, before barking a cruel laugh and turning away.

"What are you playing at?" the rebel leader human-controller asked, as soon as they had a measure of privacy again, away from the other controllers.  He sneered smugly.  "Finally showing your true colors, Imperial?"

"Helping you," Myitt grated, annoyed.  "You idiot, wasn't it obvious that I was acting to lend credence to your ruse back there?  If I were really loyal to Queen, don't you suppose I would have pointed you out as rebels yourselves?"

"Not if you're a coward," one of the Hork-bajir laughed.

"All it proves is that you were willing to ask Queen's supporters for help," the human noted.  "Doesn't really help your case, does it?"

Myitt gave a sharp cry of utter frustration.  How many different ways did she have to say it, for these controllers to get it?  And, after all this, did they really even want these rebel Yeerks on their side, if they were all as stupid as these three?

By the time they made it to the backdoor of a decrepit building that might once have been a hotel, Myitt felt broken, in body and spirit.  She had done everything she could, to fight this.  There was little left, except to await whatever fate held in store for her.

The Hork-bajir hauled her down a concealed flight of stairs, to an underground level that was obviously much newer than the rest of the hotel.  The hallway was concrete, with steel doors indented into the walls.  Like a prison.

"We're here to see the Mayor," one of the Hork-bajir said, speaking through a tiny slit in one of the doors.

"What do you have there?" a voice asked from the other side.

"One of Queen's spies," the Hork-bajir said, gripping Myitt by the arm and holding her up, where she could be seen through the slit.

The person on the other side coughed unexpectedly, as a wisp of cold mist suddenly enveloped his face through the slit in the door, taking him by surprise.  "Yes, excellent," he said, shaking his head to clear the vapor.

Strange, he thought, that there would be such a sudden rush of condensation.  But, humidity was always a problem underground.  He was sure it was nothing to worry about.

That was his last thought.  He barely had time to register the sudden impact to the back of his head, as his mind quickly faded to black and the ground rushed up at him.

"You alright?" a familiar voice came from the other side of the door, and Myitt looked up, hope glinting in her eyes.

The door swung open, revealing Gaz, flaunting a sideways smile that revealed one fang.  As she stepped out into the concrete hallway, she held up her wrist, where her own Mark could quite clearly be seen.  "We are RAFians," she proclaimed triumphantly to Myitt's three captors.  "We are not Queen's spies."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on September 15, 2013, 01:42:39 AM
New chapter - yay! Made my otherwise boring day.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on December 01, 2013, 09:26:31 PM
I'm finally writing again!  :D  I will finish this story eventually dang it!

. . . Was I in part inspired to write so I could maybe get nominated for the upcoming RAFawards?  Maaaaaybe.  >.>

Am I going to let a little thing like ulterior motives stop me from going ahead and doing it anyway?  Probably not.  :P

Chapter Thirty-eight

The reversal was so immediate that it was shocking.  The three rebel controllers instantly transformed from arrogant to apologetic.  As if someone had flipped a switch.  They now stood back, at a respectful distance from the two RAFians, in fearful awe.  One of the Hork-bajir fell to his knees, while the human's downturned face turned a bright shade of red.

"Forgive us," he said to Myitt.  Myitt, meanwhile, was unwrapping the scarf from her wrist with sharp angry motions, her face a twisted mask of disgust and distain as she at last revealed the Mark that proved her allegiance.  "We sought only to protect ourselves and our organization from Queen's infiltration.  We wanted nothing more than to protect our friends from our enemies."  He looked pleadingly from Myitt to Gaz and back again.  "Surely, RAFians, of all people, can understand that?"

Myitt looked thoughtful, but her eyebrows remained furrowed with heavy suspicion.  She could nearly hear the dishonesty in his voice.  Yes, this controller would say anything to please those who held power over him.  It was a wonder he had ever found the courage to rebel against Queen.  "Take us to the one you called Rad," Myitt said simply, her tone making it clear that she didn't want to speak to this man any longer than necessary.

They still didn't know whether this 'Rad' was actually the RAFian Rad, since it was obviously a codename and what was the chance that she would pick the same name for herself in two separate timelines?  But then again, there was the moment when the Hork-bajir had referred to a 'Mayor' and hadn't Rad always called herself that, too?

Two different codenames for the same person, one a specific name without being too specific, and the other a vague title that could easily be concealed within an innocent-sounding sentence.  Whoever this person was, Myitt thought approvingly, they knew what they were doing.

Gaz spoke into her Mark as they walked down the hallway, updating the other RAFians on the situation.  "Understood," Phoenix said softly, once Gaz had briefed him.  "Glad you're alright.  But be careful.  This still feels like a trap."

Gaz nodded, but she hadn't really needed to be told.  She herself go just insubstantial enough to be ready to dissolve into mist at a moment's notice, yet still keeping the general shape of her body.  Which had the disturbing effect of making her look even paler than usual.  The grey concrete behind her showed ever so slightly through her body, lending her already deathly pallor the color of a ghostly corpse.

Myitt instinctively reached for her Dracon, starting slightly when her hand grasped empty air.  She glowered, and one of the Hork-bajir abashedly handed her the weapon that he had confiscated earlier.

They reached the end of the hallway, where there was a double door decorated with an official-looking filigree.  The engraved doors swung slowly open, to reveal a regal room of dark bronze-colored marble that glinted in the dim light like veins of gold running through onyx.

At a desk of a different shade of marble, the hard-edged structure accentuated by glistening jagged swirls of jade and black within the stone, sat a figure that Gaz and Myitt recognized immediately.  They both stared, scrutinizing Rad's face for any sign that she was still in there, somewhere.  But, of course, that was futile, wasn't it?  As they ought to know, there wouldn't be any way to tell, one way or the other.

Rad made a shooing gesture at the two Hork-bajir and the human-controller who had escorted the RAFians in, as though they were pesky animals that she wanted out of her sight before they could make a mess.  Myitt looked down, hiding her satisfied smile.  Satisfied, that Rad held the same opinion of those three that she did.

As the other controllers scurried out of the room, Rad folded her hands together, steepling her fingers over her desk, obviously intrigued by her guests.  "We have been trying to find you for a long time, you know," she began.  "But, of course, it is not possible to track down anything that can travel through time.  Not without owning a time machine yourself.  So we had little choice but to wait for you to come to us."  She bared her teeth in a crooked sly grin which removed any doubt in the RAFians' minds that she was a controller.  "But now you're here.  We have a lot to talk about."

"So let's talk," Myitt said distrustfully, her hand still on her Dracon.  Still not quite believing that this could be anything except a trap.  "Starting with your real name."

Myitt briefly wondered if she would simply give Rad's real name, but of course the Yeerk knew better than that.  "Odret 177," she said.  "Former supporter of Visser One.  Before she was deleted from history of course.  I never did feel favorably towards incompetent overlords."  Myitt and Gaz looked at each other, and nodded.  They knew, of course, which other incompetent overlord she referred to.  And now that they thought of it, Visser Three did have a lot in common with Queen.

"But that's water under the bridge, as you humans say," Odret said dismissively, with a causal wave of her hand.  "Point is, strange as it seems, circumstances have placed me on the same side as you.  And I believe I can help you, as you can help me."  She leaned closer, speaking in a lowered voice, as if confiding a dangerous secret.  Which, of course, she was.  "We know where Queen's base of operations is.  And we know a little bit about what's inside.  Security is much too tight for us to actually infiltrate her fortress, of course.  However, we believe, with the rather unique set of skills that you RAFians possess, it may just be possible."

Myitt and Gaz listened raptly, as Odret quickly told them everything she knew.  Myitt held down the small white button on her Mark as Odret spoke, so that the other RAFians aboard the TARDIS could hear, as well.

"Excellent," Gaz said, nodding, as Odret finished.  Myitt took her finger off the button.  "Yes.  I think we might be able to help."

Odret, looking satisfied at this, pushed her chair back and walked around her desk to join Gaz and Myitt.  Both RAFians stiffened, still not quite fully trusting the controller that had once been their friend.  They relaxed only slightly when they realized that a trap, here, made no sense.  If Odret wanted them, she already had them.  But even knowing that, it was hard to tamp down those fight or flight instincts that had kept them alive so many times.

Odret ignored their reactions, either not noticing their anxiety or simply not caring.  "Then, come," she said, beckoning them on with a sly smirk.  "It's time you met our fearless leader."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on December 01, 2013, 10:25:43 PM
Awesome! I was just re-reading this the other day. Good to have a new chapter after a while! :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on December 01, 2013, 11:54:01 PM
And another one before I go to bed.

Chapter Thirty-nine

Aquilai took the TARDIS to the coordinates Odret had named.  The place where they would find the leader of the resistance.  The one called Cloak.

The RAFians could all feel the oppressive anxiety eating away at them, as they wondered if it would really be Cloak, or just a coincidence.  Rad had been Rad, yes, but that didn't necessarily mean that 'Cloak' would be Cloak.

When the TARDIS landed, the RAFians stepped out into an eerie scene, somehow worse than the ruins of Dallas.  They were inside a building, but the roof had long-since collapsed in several places, and that awful reddish twilight of Queen's future streamed down through the holes, flashing occasionally green as lightning arced through the darkening sky.

The space, although indoors, was big.  Not as huge as the Yeerk pool, but at least the size of a good-sized basketball court, with several large hallways leading off in different directions.  The main room was enclosed by deteriorating cinderblock walls, paint clinging to concrete in only a few tattered and peeling pieces.

The floor of the space was cracked linoleum, strewn with tables and chairs, which were dust-covered from lack of use.  In a darkened corner, a burned-out Burger King logo could just barely be made out through the gloom.

"It's a food court," Rachel said wonderingly.  The other RAFians looked around, eyes wide with shock as they realized she was right.

Lumy barked a laugh, which echoed back cacophonously through the ruins.  "He picks a food court for a meeting place," he marveled, lowering his voice.  "The guy has a sense of humor."

Rachel shifted anxiously.  She got the joke, of course.  She'd been a part of many meetings in food courts.  But she didn't really find it funny.

A man emerged from the shadows behind a fallen blue and white sign that was so ruined that only the letters "Ci-" could just barely be made out in the remaining fragment of cracked glass.  The RAFians stiffened, ready for action.  Three figures emerged behind the first one, and as they each stepped into the light, their fellow RAFians immediately recognized Gaz, Myitt, and Rad.  Myitt and Gaz quickly moved to join the other RAFians.

The man who had emerged, however, was wearing a hood, and his face was obscured in the shadows cast by the cloth.  "Greetings," he said, spreading his arms wide.  He sounded like Cloak, at least.  "RAFians.  I have waited a long time to meet you."

But there was something off.  Something besides the obvious.  There was something here, that wasn't right.  All the RAFians could feel it, but Rachel was the first to put a finger on it.

There were no Hork-bajir guards.  No Taxxons, either.  Even the two human-controllers here didn't seem to be armed.

Two versus almost thirty, and they didn't even bring weapons?  Two supposedly high-ranking Yeerks within the resistance?  Either they were very sure that the RAFians were on their side, or they were incredibly stupid.

Or it was a trap.

The other RAFians began to note the unsettling imbalance of this meeting, and instead of being calmed by the apparent defenselessness of their would-be foes, they immediately tensed, ready for battle.

Shock spread his wings.  Bear reared on his hind legs.  Dino slowly angled her body so that her tail could be brought to bear.  Those who were morph-capable quickly began to morph.

But an eerie silence pervaded the space even as the RAFians readied themselves for battle, silence so heavy it felt like it could only be the calm before a storm.  The hooded man didn't speak a word, patiently waiting for the morphers to finish.

"I am Illim," he finally said when they were finished, his words jarring in the tense silence.  "The one they call CloakedFigure, well, I suppose that could be said to be the name of my host.  We come to you unarmed now, two against a legion."  He pulled back his hood, revealing Cloak's face, wearing a surprisingly gentle smile.  "Just as you came to us."

He gestured to Myitt and Gaz, and it suddenly made sense.  Illim and Odret were only extending the same level of trust that the two RAFians had already, albeit unintentionally, shown them.

The RAFians relaxed, at least a little.  Those who had morphed didn't demorph, not yet, but Shock lowered his wings, Bear settled back onto four paws, and Dino turned such that her tail was once again behind her.

<We want our friends back,> Noelle suddenly said.  Although she was standing tall with her body held in a brave stance, her voice sounded nervous, like she thought maybe she was saying something she shouldn't.  But it needed to be said, nonetheless.

"I am a reasonable Yeerk," Illim said calmly, but next to him, Odret looked uncertain.  "If you help us defeat Queen, well, we will have little need of our hosts in a world free of Queen's influence, will we?"  He sounded almost relieved, as though he had been waiting for the opportunity to revoke his hold on Cloak.  Odret nodded hesitantly, a little less sure of herself than Illim was, but still willing to compromise if it meant taking down Queen.

"Yes," she agreed, with only a slight quaver in her voice.  "If you help us oppose Queen, and promise us safe passage from our hosts, then we will free your friends."

The RAFians quickly nodded, almost urgently agreeing to the compromise before it could be taken back as too-good-to-be-true.  Aquilai stepped forward, and led them inside the TARDIS to the pool where Terenia and Myitt had fed the previous day.  The others filed in after them.  The two controllers bent over the pool, where their Yeerks left Rad's and Cloak's bodies.  There was no need for a Kandrona, as these two Yeerks had of course evolved to survive without it.

"Oh, that's better," Rad said excitedly to the RAFians, while Cloak rubbed sharply at his ear.  "I guess I really shouldn't complain, there are lots of worse Yeerks to be controlled by, but there's just something about having another mind inside you . . . "

The RAFians had to stop themselves from grinning at each other in amusement.  This Rad had no memory of Ma'at, after all.

Cloak was staying silent, brooding.  He knew he should be glad to have his body back, and of course Rad was right, there were loads of worse Yeerks, but Cloak had never liked being 'beneath' anyone.

As much as he resented Illim for his methods, though, he also felt guilty for that resentment.  He knew Illim was a good Yeerk, and in other circumstances the two of them might have even been friends.  In some ways they had been.  Cloak had helped Illim see Queen for what she really was, and at times they had even worked together to oppose her.  Didn't mean Cloak liked it, though.  And, of course, Illim had known that.

Dino edged closer to Rad and Cloak, back in human form herself, trying to comfort the two of them.  She knew some of what they were feeling.

Aquilai handed a Mark each to Rad and Cloak, which they strapped on, not needing explained to them what they were.  He held the remaining Mark, looking at it wonderingly.

"Only one left," he mused.  "The one we would have given to Goom."

"So, what, you're saying now Goom's a lost cause?" Jess said sharply, almost accusingly.  "Hey, we can't just give up on him."

"Yeah," Dino said quietly, wincing.  "I think his cause is pretty lost by this point."  She was still trying to convince herself that it wasn't her fault Goom had escaped.  Rationally, of course, she knew it had been Carger.  But it was hard to convince herself, when it had been her own voice lying to her friends, and her body leading them in the wrong direction.

"And, you know, it just seems a shame to just leave Illim and Odret like that after all they've done for us," Phoenix added, gesturing at the two Yeerks in the pool.  "The Marks contain human forms, don't they?"

"They sure do," Bloodbane said smugly.

"They could share it between them," Aquilai said, staring down at the slugs beneath the water.  "Each one of them being human when they need to."

<Guys?> Russell asked suddenly.  He was holding up his escafil device, with a smile in his Andalite eyes.  <I think we're overlooking a far more obvious answer here.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on December 02, 2013, 01:33:15 AM
The name Illim rings a bell.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on December 17, 2013, 10:58:41 PM
As well it should, Saffa.  Every Yeerk who has been featured by name thus far in the story (except Sub-visser Four) is actually a minor character from Animorphs.  ;)

Spoiler: Cheat sheet (click to show/hide)

(Sorry it took so long to reply, it was another case of 'I'm waiting until I have a chapter to post until I post' and then of course I promptly get writer's block. :P)

Chapter Forty

The RAFians held the two Yeerks in their hands, passing them from one to another, allowing them a sampling of DNA from those few RAFians who had human DNA in the first place.  Terenia, meanwhile, acted as translator, conveying the clicks and squeaks of the Yeerk language into her own thought-speak so that the others could hear.

It was a strange little ceremony.  The strangeness of it seemed to be lost on the RAFians, who had, of course, endured much stranger.  But it was not lost on those to whom this world was still new.

Michael shivered slightly as he cradled Illim in his calloused hands, passing the Yeerk with a sense of urgency to a hesitant Richard.  With the slug no longer upon his skin, the author tried to hide a sigh of relief.  He knew it was wrong, of course, but still he couldn't help but to recall the creature, identical to this one, that had been responsible for his wife's death.

Worse, his earlier dreamlike feeling of unreality was beginning to fade.  It was becoming harder and harder to deny that all of this was, somehow, really happening.

Once the odd ritual had finished, the two Yeerks morphed to their new human forms in private, using the same room of the TARDIS where the RAFians had been keeping most of their spare clothes.  The two newly minted humans emerged, amid looks of appraisal and, after a few moments of scrutiny, general approval.

Illim's human form ended up as a cross between Michael, Tony, Shade, and Cloak, with just a hint of Richard thrown in.  Taken together, he had become a dark-haired young man, but with the soft features of wisdom.  Except when he smiled.  His smile was young and genuine and familiar.  It was Tony's goofy grin.

Odret ended up a cross between Saffa, Rad, Tara, and Kyris, with a little of Rachel.  She was a young girl, but beautiful in a way that seemed almost threatening.  Nevertheless, she had taken on a vaguely tomboyish look, her dirty-blond hair falling in loose waves around her dark-edged and stoic features.  A fierce visage which was quite at odds with the almost humble way she looked to Illim.  A reverential look that didn't quite rise to meet his eyes.

"Okay," Illim said, getting right down to business.  "You've all been briefed, correct?"

The RAFians nodded.  A few of them looked apprehensive.  Not since rescuing their downloaded fellows from Switzerland all those months ago, had any RAFian dared to venture as far into enemy territory as where they would be going.

"Good," Illim said, trying to muster a calmness in his voice to allay the others' fears.  In truth, however, he was worried, too.  But it was time somebody stood up.  Queen had been in control, delirious with her own power, for far too long.

Illim gestured to Cloak, who nodded back.  From his pocket, Cloak produced a small silvery concave disk, which he handed to Illim.  Which made sense, several RAFians realized.  As Illim's former host, anything that the Yeerk had brought along with him would still be on Cloak's person.  Cloak crossed his arms, glancing at Illim with a weary expression.

Illim gently tossed the disk to the floor, where it illuminated the inside of the TARDIS with a grid of blue light.  It was a hologram projector.  The lines flickered for a moment before resolving themselves into a blocky tunnel-like shape, like a three-dimensional blueprint with all the RAFians huddled inside.  Some areas of the 'blueprint' remained fuzzy, and a few pieces were missing altogether, like a computer image that couldn't finish loading.

"This is what we have," Illim explained, gesturing at the pixellated phantom hallways that shone all around them.  "Apologies for the gaps, but our information has always been spotty, at best.  Some of this is not much more than hearsay, and of course several areas are only accessible to those inside Queen's royal guard.  But it is what we have, and I hope it serves better than nothing."

Seal, curious, moved towards the wall of the hologram.  In time to her movement, the wall curved to move toward her.  "Eeep!" Seal exclaimed, surprised by the sudden motion.  As she jumped back, the wall did too.  Testing the phenomenon, she tried moving to the side, and again, the wall moved along with her, as if the place where she was going was also coming towards her.

Several other RAFians began to move along the 'wall,' noticing the same thing Seal had.  The hologram was interactive, it seemed.  It would effectively 'zoom in' to wherever they wanted to go.  And in such a way, they realized, the map was actually bigger than the part they could see within the room of the TARDIS.  By walking towards the places that were 'off the map' behind the walls, they could bring those areas into view.

"Pretty sweet," Shock commented, testing the 'wall' with a wingtip.  It passed through the blue light, looking for a moment like he had dipped his wing in bright blue paint.  "Future tech meets Yeerk tech.  Nice."

The RAFians spent several hours in the map of Queen's fortress, doing their best to memorize its layout.  It wasn't easy.  The passages were a labyrinth of dead-ends and crooked loops and switchbacks.  Designed, of course, to confuse outsiders.  All the while, the RAFians imagined the corridors filled with enemies, Hork-bajir and who knew what else.  They staged mock fights amongst themselves, trying to find the best vantage points, the most useful cover.

After a while, though, it stopped being a task to study and learn about the enemy base.  It became a game of repetition.  RAFians doubled back through the same corridors, over and over.  But it was their minds that were stuck in a loop.

They were stalling.  Somewhere in the back of their minds, they didn't want to face Queen.  Not yet, not yet, their subliminal instincts muttered.  They weren't ready.  How could they ever be ready?

When Illim noticed that hesitance, that fearful lingering, he made the hard decision for them, that they were about as ready as they were ever going to be.  He stepped forward.  He glanced curiously at Estelore, who had drifted away to the edge of the map to answer a call to their Mark.  But he decided to go on, anyway.

"If I may be so bold," he began.  "I think we're done here."

Seal raised a flipper, tentatively, like a kid in class raising a hand.  "Can it wait until tomorrow?  It's getting late, and this isn't exactly a mission that we should attempt on anything less than a full night of sleep."  Again, there was that hesitation, that niggling feeling at the back of her mind that it was too soon, somehow.  This wasn't supposed to happen, not yet.

Myitt, meanwhile, glanced at Terenia, who shifted uncomfortably.  Yes, it was getting 'late,' at least by the circadian rhythms of the RAFians.  They hadn't slept since before their attempt to rescue Goom, and that already felt like forever ago.

But, this meant that another day was passing.  With a start, Terenia realized that there would only be one night left after this one.

That same fearful stalling feeling was working at the back of Terenia's mind, too, but at war with it came a sense of urgency.  She had seen her future.  She knew what was to come of waiting.

But they weren't ready.  Something was missing.

"Guys?" Estelore piped up, waving their Mark enthusiastically in the air.  "Before we all nod off for the night, do you suppose we can make time for one more errand?"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on December 18, 2013, 12:35:16 AM
Oh, I know the feeling. Been struggling with writer's block for quite a while now. But always good to see a chapter up! And I can't wait to see what happens next. :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on December 23, 2013, 04:05:27 AM
Oooohhhh... Wonder what they're gonna end up doing next... Can't wait!!
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on January 18, 2014, 02:51:50 PM
Chapter Forty-one

Monica stared at the ceiling, slowly spinning in her swivel chair.  Still thinking about what Estelore had told her, during that fateful phone call.  It was nearly impossible to think about anything else.

It was ludicrous, of course.  The internet somehow being its own world?  Things that had come out of that world?  And which were now threatening the real world?  It was preposterous.  Obviously it was preposterous.  What other word could there even be, to describe whatever this was?

But then again, Monica knew, Estelore was nothing if not ruthlessly honest.  If Estelore had a flaw it was that they were sometimes even too honest, saying exactly and precisely what they thought with never any frills or sugar-coating.  The idea that they'd make something like this up, was somehow even more preposterous than the thing itself.  And even besides that, Monica reminded herself, she had once believed crazier things from Estelore.

So, ridiculous as it all seemed . . . she sighed, rubbing her temples.  It was hard to know what to think.

The one thing she did know was that she had acted too rashly during that phone call.  She had let her own temper get the best of her.  Again.

Really, when everything was considered, what did it matter what the RAFians had done, or hadn't done?  Her history with them had happened a long time ago, and if they were willing to let bygones be bygones, well, why shouldn't she?

Still, the idea of there being, somewhere out there, another her . . . even the suggestion of that possibility frightened her, on some deep and primal level.  And she did not like feeling frightened.  Fear was an emotion that could all-too-quickly escalate into anger.  Which is exactly what it usually did.

Which was why it was so hard, not to be angry at the RAFians that had done it.

She sighed, picking up the phone and running her finger over the 'redial' button for about the tenth time in the past few hours.  She didn't know if redialing an unavailable number would even work, of course.  But an unavailable number was the only thing she had to go on.

She steeled herself.  The fate of the world itself might be hanging on- but, no, she couldn't think like that, too much pressure and she would only freeze again.  She couldn't think at all, she just had to press the button and be done with it.

A moment's pause.  "Hello?" Estelore said hesitantly, on the other end of the line.

"It's Monica," she said quickly, the words spilling out of her mouth as though desperate to get out before she could change her mind.  "I've decided to reconsider your offer."

"Oh, excellent!" Estelore replied enthusiastically.  "We can come pick you up in about . . . well, from your perspective about ten seconds."

"What?" Monica asked, perplexed, and was about to add, 'oh right time travel' when she heard a metallic whooshing noise that faded in and out as it built in volume.  She turned around, still in the swivel chair, to see a blue police box materializing in her living room.

"By the way," Estelore began as they stepped from the box, speaking nonchalantly, as though nothing about any of this were strange at all.  "How is it that you can remember RAF?  Everybody else not protected by a Mark had their memories erased.  You aren't even a RAFian."

"Simple," a British man in a suit quickly cut in before Monica could answer, as he stepped out of the box behind Estelore.  "The Time Matrix.  It protects the timeline of whoever is controlling it.  You are part of Queen's timeline.  Therefore, it protects you."

"Lucky me," Monica said, rolling her eyes as amiably as she could, as she tried not to consider exactly what it was that she was getting herself into.  She got up from the familiar comfort of her chair.  Too late to turn back now.

She walked into the TARDIS, stepping lightly, as if even the floor of this bizarre new place might be dangerous somehow.  Looking around, she couldn't help but wrinkle her nose at several RAFians that had already fallen asleep.  These were the people that the fate of the world depended on?  It was almost pathetic.

She didn't know, of course, how long they'd been awake, or how little used they were to fighting against that irresistible magnet pull of sleep.  How could an outsider like her even begin to know what the RAFians had been through?

Richard and a few of the others from other 'time zones' had decided to try to sleep, even though they weren't tired, as they tried to set their own internal clocks to the time that most of the RAFians seemed to be on.  Illim, Odret, Rad and Cloak were among the few still completely awake, shifting nervously and looking at each other, as though unsure of how to interact with each other anymore, now that all four were 'human.'  Saffa's sister Rose was sleeping almost peacefully, and Michael was plenty weary enough to at least manage to fake it, but Richard couldn't quite seem to stop tossing and turning.

He couldn't stop thinking about his family.  Perhaps the only one whose family Queen hadn't been able to find and destroy.  Even Michael had lost what family he'd had.  What if Queen found Richard's parents?  Yet his fear was intermingled with guilt, that awful helpless shame that came from the realization that he was one of the lucky ones.

What right did he have to fear for his family's safety, when nobody else even could?

Richard wasn't the only one kept awake by such dark thoughts.  Other RAFians were thinking of their families, too.  The knowledge that there was nothing they could have done, did little to soothe the pain of loss.  There was a bitter voice in each of their minds, a twisting feeling of doubt, telling them there had to have been something.

But what had they done, in that time of direst crisis?  They had all laid down and slept.  It was now a painful memory, the sleep of the previous night.  As though the only reason their families were gone was because they'd simply been too lazy to save them.

As bad as it was for everyone else, it was worse for Dino.  She had been the one to betray the families.  But, no.  She kept trying to tell herself that, it wasn't her, it was Carger.  Yet it had been her voice speaking to Queen, telling her where to direct her twisted minions.  When Queen had laid out her plans for the murders, the thought-speak voice coming from Dino's own mind had only laughed.

Terenia, meanwhile, couldn't help but turn towards more selfish thoughts.  Or, at least, they felt selfish to Terenia.  But she couldn't push away that feeling of terrified dread which she almost felt guilty for dwelling upon, when so many people were already dead.

It was the second night, after all.  Another day had passed.  There would be only one more night, and then the day after that . . . what then?

A few RAFians tiredly looked up, as Monica walked inside the TARDIS.  Tony blearily opened his eyes and started.  He was, quite suddenly, far wider awake than he would like to be.  As the woman walked by, he couldn't help but flinch.

Tony was, after all, the only RAFian who had gotten a good look at Queen.  And now that he was looking at Monica, he suddenly realized that he had seen her face somewhere within Queen's multidimensional multitude.  It was an unnerving sense of familiarity, having seen an ally, within the enemy.

Monica, meanwhile, seemingly unaware of the RAFians' inner turmoil, looked around and sighed.  Seeing herself outvoted, as it were, in favor of sleep, she decided that maybe a mid-afternoon nap wouldn't be quite such a bad idea after all.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on January 18, 2014, 10:07:47 PM
Yay! New chapter. Relieved me while sitting at this boring desk.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on January 19, 2014, 03:06:48 PM
I actually had to read the last three chapters too. I sorta forgot what was happening  :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on January 22, 2014, 04:59:26 AM
Well then. This is gonna be an interesting development...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 05, 2014, 11:36:20 PM
Indeed, Abby.

Chapter Forty-two

Hours later, all around the TARDIS, RAFians were beginning to stir.  Aquilai had set the central room's lights to slowly brighten during the morning hours.  An attempt to mimic the early light of 'dawn.'

But even despite the gentle lighting, several RAFians abruptly started as they awoke.  They were caught off-guard, it would seem, by the stranger who had arrived in the night.

"Morning, sunshines," Monica said, looking down with an amused grin as Jess, Cody, and Bear groggily made themselves breakfasts of cold cereal and canned goods.  "I hope you got a good sleep," she mocked, her voice layered with savage sarcasm.  "Wouldn't want you to be tired while the world is ending."

Snarling, Jess jumped to her feet, cereal raining down from the bowl she had unthinkingly sent flying.  "You arrogant mother-"

"Everyone!" Phoenix urgently cut in.  He made a quick but insistent gesture to Russell, who hurriedly handed him his morphing cube.  Bear glanced at Cody, and they gave each other a subtle smile, immediately knowing what Phoenix was up to.  It was a distraction.  And it was a good one, too.

If Monica caught on to the reason behind the ruse, that it was just a diversion to keep her from starting a brawl aboard the TARDIS, she was at least wily enough not to show it.  Eyes glittering with an almost childlike wonder, she stepped towards the box.  She immediately knew what it was, of course.  She had grown up reading those books.

Phoenix held the cube gingerly out to her, trying his best not to look nervous.  But he couldn't help but feel like he was holding out a steak to a wolf.

Richard appeared, strangely alert despite the hour, moving silently as a ghost.  Monica started when she noticed him suddenly standing next to her.  Phoenix nodded, realizing that Richard had yet to receive the morphing technology himself.  The two not-quite-RAFians stood next to one another, palms against two of the sides of the cube.

Rad and Cloak stepped forward to join Richard and Monica, completing the 'circle' around the cube.  As a final touch, Becky broke away from Shade, Kyris and Bloodbane, arriving to put her own hand onto the cube's top face.  The other three of her little group gave her a sideways glance, as though contemplating receiving the morphing power themselves.  But, after a moment of thought, each of them seemed to decide they were powerful enough as they were.  Becky was the only unmodified human among them.

A few RAFians, watching the spectacle from all across the TARDIS, couldn't help but to grin giddily to themselves.  Five people being given the morphing power.  Well, heh, that was a nostalgia trip, wasn't it?  By a half-phoenix, rather than an Andalite, but still.  Phoenix made a good stand-in for Elfangor.

Once the five of them were granted the power to morph, the other RAFians quickly gave them the same spiel they'd given to Michael and Rose, when the two of them had received their abilities.  Those RAFians who made for good battle morphs came forward, and offered up their DNA to the new morphers.

But Monica only scoffed, and crossed her arms.  "It's bad enough you've got me working with RAFians.  No way am I going to morph one of you."  She lifted her nose, as though refusing to make eye contact.  "I want a proper battle morph."  As she said it, the corners of her mouth lifted slightly, unable to hide her amusement at trolling those who had cast her out.

"Oooh!" Jess growled, and Myitt reached for her shoulder as if to hold her back.  But Jess had more self-restraint than to actually attack Monica.  If only just.

Richard, feeling some strange instinct awaken within him that he didn't even know was there, quickly held up his arms in a gesture of peace.  Suddenly, somehow, it felt natural, standing up in front of these people, taking command.  "There's no reason to fight," he said, finding a newfound authority in his voice that felt like it belonged there.  "I don't suppose anyone would object, to a trip to the zoo?"

Monica looked at Jess smugly, like she had won.  Myitt actually did grab Jess's shoulder this time, as Jess gave another low growl.

Aquilai started twisting knobs and pulling levers with a nervous sense of urgency, wanting to get going before anything else could go wrong between the RAFians and their newest uneasy addition.

Within moments, they were all stepping out of the TARDIS into the gentle darkness of a night at the zoo.  Silvery flecks of light glinted off of chain-link fences and the eyes of stirring creatures within.

Cloak immediately headed for the big cats exhibit, Monica and Richard keeping an almost competitive pace behind him.  Becky broke off in the other direction, heading for the Asian animals.  Kyris and Shade tried to follow her for protection, but Becky assured them that she'd be fine.  They took a look at each other, and nodded, silently agreeing to follow her anyway.

Tony initially left the TARDIS in the direction of the African 'savannah,' but, after a moment's consideration, opted instead to chase after Rad, jogging to close the head start she had gotten.  He seemed just a little disappointed, but Rad had started walking quite decisively towards the North American mammals, and it was obvious at a glance that nothing was going to change her mind.  Tony quickly decided that he didn't want her going off alone, without even so much as her memories of RAF to help her get out of any trouble.  She was, in Tony's mind at least, a RAFian, and a fellow TJ.  And that meant, memories or no memories, that she was family.

Saffa, meanwhile, circled high above them all, keeping an eye on everyone, as best she could in the pale moonlight.

Cloak's nerves were twitching with excitement as he walked down the moonlit path, thinking eagerly about what it would be like to actually be a tiger.  The raw power, the liquid grace, the feline agility.  Richard and Monica could barely keep up with him.  He soon broke into a run, taking a flying leap at the fence and clinging to it as though his fingers had already become claws.

Becky walked down a different path, unable to quite shake the feeling that someone was watching her, even though she was alone.  But she more-or-less ignored it, because she was pretty sure that Kyris and Shade might have come along despite her wishes.  So she had to stifle a laugh when she heard the whispered words, "Petrificus totalus," and heard the muffled thump of an unconscious body hitting the ground.  So there were guards here at night.  That was nice to know.

Tony loped along next to Rad.  He had already had the power to morph for several months, of course.  But he had decided to come along anyway, to take the opportunity to boost his battle morphs before trying to take on Queen.  Seeing Monica, looking so much like Queen, right there among the RAFians in their place of safety . . . it unnerved him.

"So, what's on your mind, here?" he said, making conversation with Rad as they jogged along the moonlit sidewalk.  She obviously had a specific destination in mind, and he couldn't help but wonder what it was.  "What's it gonna be?"

Instead of answering, she shot him a sideways look, slowing down slightly as she creased her brow.  "You talk to me so casually," she said slowly, hesitantly.  At the same time, it was almost as if she'd rehearsed what she was going to say.  "Like you know me.  But you don't.  You may have known someone else who looks like me, talks like me, even thinks like me.  But, I'm not that person."

Tony slowed down even more.  His look was confused and a little dismayed.  "What?  Rad, you're still Rad.  You're a RAFian.  I don't care what you say."

She sighed, and pursed her lips.  "Maybe I am.  Maybe I'm not.  I don't know.  I've heard a lot about you RAFians, from Odret.  I could almost picture . . . but it's just hard to know.  How different am I, from what I should have been?"

Tony sighed, not really wanting to deal with an identity crisis, on top of everything else that was already going on.  "You never answered my question," he said instead.  "Where are we going?"

"Moose," Rad said.  "I am Canadian, you know."

Tony laughed, immediately feeling his nerves ease.  "Rad, you're just the same as you ever were."

Before Rad could retort, they heard a sound that pierced the silent darkness.  An abrupt clatter of footsteps, followed by an authoritative voice.  "Stop!  Trespassers!"

"Crap, guards!" Tony cursed.  Lowering his voice, too late, to a harsh whisper.  Layers of dark enameled bone were already beginning to unroll from his forehead, forming into the thick curved horns of a water buffalo.  It was a strange feeling, morphing almost in plain sight of at least one human, going against everything he'd ever learned about being an Animorph from the books.  But he had nothing to lose, did he?  And, even stranger, there was something about having nothing left to hide that made him feel strangely, powerful.

"What the-" the guard said, confused, as his light illuminated something not-quite-human.

Tony looked to Rad, who had yet no such means of defense, and said, "You, run for it.  I'll take care of this guy."  He stamped his still-hardening feet on the ground, and lowered his rapidly-growing head, already preparing to charge.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 05, 2014, 11:57:28 PM
And, just because I haven't posted regularly in far too long, here's a bonus chapter.

Chapter Forty-three

The panther gazed at Monica warily, but without fear.  This human in her enclosure was no threat.  In fact, the big cat carried an air of impatient laziness, as though the human was nothing more than an annoying insect whose buzzing had disturbed her sleep.  Sure, the panther's expression said, she could kill the human if she wanted to go back to her rest, but was it really worth the bother?

Monica bowed her head, feeling a strange need to pay her respects, as if she was in the presence of royalty.  In some way, it seemed, she was.  She held out her hands at her sides, as though proving to the cat that she had no weapons.  As if pitiful human weapons would inspire fear in such a creature.

The panther's gaze was challenging as Monica slowly approached, but the cat made no move to attack or flee.  There was no need.

Yet, Monica could have sworn, in the moment she laid her hand against that black fur, that she saw the tiniest flicker of respect in the panther's eyes.  Respect, for the human brave enough to confront a creature that could have ended her life without a moment's thought.  Respect, for the pathetic clawless creature who would dare to touch a panther.

But, no.  It was just an animal, after all.  It didn't feel that kind of empathy.  More likely it was just used to the presence of humans after so long in captivity.

The panther's bright eyes briefly dimmed as the creature went into the acquiring trance.  Monica took the opportunity to back away, retreating to the fence of the enclosure, and by the time the panther returned to her senses, that strangely fearless human had vanished into the night.

Back at the TARDIS, just a few feet outside the blue police box's doors, Illim and Odret stood, holding hands, in the moonlight.  As if they were afraid to venture any farther into this strange and unfamiliar place.

"So, this is the world, before," Odret commented, feeling like she needed to whisper so as not to break the delicate silence of this unbroken world.  "It's wonderful, isn't it?"

Illim smiled up at the sky, almost too awed to reply.  He had never in his life seen stars before.  Those horrid reddish clouds had always blocked them, since before he'd had eyes to see.  "Yes," he finally said, his voice choked with very human emotion.  "Wonderful."

He looked at Odret, his loyal follower.  Her eyes, so childlike, with the light of the stars held within.  Of course, he knew they weren't her eyes, not really.  Her human face was not her own.  But he couldn't help but feel a twinge of . . . something.  Affection?  Why?  Was it these primal human instincts that were now part of his mind, bonding to the first thing his own new eyes had seen?

Or was it because she had followed him when no one else would?  Followed him, against a tyrannical ruler that nobody else dared oppose?  Could it be-

He was broken from his thoughts by the shrill sound of a human scream.  Not an unfamiliar sound, no, not after a life lived in that terrible future remade by Queen.  But it shattered the silence nonetheless.

Odret's grasp tightened around Illim's hand as their eyes locked.  They looked at one another with an almost disappointed kind of fear.  Not really a fear of whatever had caused that scream, but more a disappointment that this world itself might not be as safe as it seemed.

"Oh!" Illim suddenly said, almost wanting to smack himself.  "We can morph, too.  Shouldn't we be out with the others?"

Odret's fearful look deepened.  Knowing that she would have to be in her natural form to acquire new DNA.  Not looking forward to facing some dangerous creature, let alone when she would be a helpless slug.  "Come on, Illim.  Don't worry.  They'll be fine."

This time it was Illim's eyes that darkened.  "We've seen Queen's army for ourselves.  We know what horrors these RAFians must face.  So we know, that they will need every last soldier they can find."

She looked deeper into his eyes, like she was searching for something.  "You already know you can trust me," Illim assured.  "I won't ever let anything happen to you."

Still holding hands, they raced off into the night.

Tony shook his head and snorted as he reversed the morph.  He hadn't even had to go fully buffalo, before the guard had uttered an embarrassingly un-masculine scream and taken off running in the other direction.

Rad came out from the nearby shadows as Tony stood up, the last of his dark fur sucking back into his skin to reveal his morphing outfit.  "We done fooling around?" she said, her hands on her hips.  "Come on."

"You're welcome!" Tony shouted at Rad's retreating back, as she turned once more towards the path leading to the North America portion of the zoo.  He stumbled slightly as his knees shifted to human, but he jogged to close the distance and catch up with Rad.  She was faster than he remembered.  From running away from Queen's guards in the future where she had come from?  Maybe.  But he didn't really like to think about that.

Cloak, meanwhile, was enjoying the feeling of the tiger's DNA inside him.  He morphed and demorphed, just a little, as he walked.  Just enough to see the striped orange and black fur creep up and down his arms, enough to watch his nails become claws.  Then he would reverse the morph and return to human.  He thought maybe he could already feel the tiger's mind, the power of it, the fearless grace.  The RAFians had told him that you would inherit the instincts of whatever you morphed.

He craved that feeling of power, having spent most of his life feeling helpless.  No sooner had he escaped his oppressive mother, than he'd become the servant of a new master.  He knew that wasn't really being fair.  He knew that Illim had never meant to hurt him.  But it had just been too soon.  He had barely even gotten to taste freedom before having it yanked away from him again.  A lifetime spent, but not his own life to spend.  He felt like his life had never once truly been his own.

Suddenly, he tripped.  He'd been so lost in his thoughts that he'd allowed the morph to progress further than he'd intended, and his legs had shifted underneath him.  That's what had made him fall.  He growled, a sound that was only half-human, cursing his circumstances as much as his foolishness.

The existence of these others, these RAFians, these people who had known him in another timeline . . . it opened up an interesting possibility.  What kind of person should he have been?  If he wasn't the person he was supposed to be?  Who was he?

Surely, that other person had been better off than him.  That person had friends, wonderful friends who were like a family.  The family he'd never had with his own parents.

He didn't know whether he was happy, or sad, about that.  He felt happy, because there was another world where, maybe, he had been happy.  But he was sad, too, because that person wasn't him.  Could never be him, perhaps.  Was it too late to become that other Cloak?  The one who had escaped his own fate and found freedom and love instead?

Maybe it was too late.  Maybe he could never have that life.  The thought made him curse that other person, the other Cloak.  Why should that Cloak get so much happiness, when he had ever had so little?

Cloak spotted the light of the TARDIS, and slowed.  It almost scared him a little, thinking about those people, and the timeline they came from.  Did they look at him and see that other person, the person who was their friend?

And was it perhaps a bad sign that some part of him wanted to just play along, be that person, in the hopes that maybe some of the other Cloak's better life might just rub off on him?  He knew it was wrong, but maybe it wasn't so wrong.  Surely, some part of him must still be the same.  How much of him was his past, and how much was really his own self?  It was a daunting question even in the best of circumstances.

<Hey, Cloak,> Saffa called from above.  <You're the first back.  How did it go?>

Cloak was pretty sure Saffa wouldn't be able to hear him, so he just gave a thumbs-up.  Yeah.  Everything was fine, just fine.  Maybe he could even convince himself that it was true.

One by one, the other morphers trickled back into the TARDIS.  They almost left without Illim and Odret, but Saffa had seen the two Yeerks leave, and told the others to wait until they returned.

With everyone well and truly back, Aquilai dialed in the coordinates, both in space and in time, that Illim had given him.  For once, he flicked the levers and knobs on his console almost hesitantly, one button at a time.  Like he had suddenly forgotten how to drive his own TARDIS.

Or, perhaps, like everyone else, he didn't quite want to go to where it was they were going.  And he was pressing the buttons just to kill time.  The TARDIS bucked under his hands as soon as he was done, as if the machine itself was telling him to get the heck on with it.

Once more, they all careened through time and space.  But this time wasn't like the other times.  Not even their two trips into the future could compare to this.

It was directly into Queen's fortress that they flew.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on February 06, 2014, 01:44:57 AM
This is moving fast.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on February 06, 2014, 05:03:42 PM
This is moving fast.

Yup. The chapters of this fic are always filled with so much substance. I love how Dino can spend 10 sentences just about the characters emotions. It's very Applegate-esque.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 08, 2014, 04:26:31 PM
Underseen, "Applegate-esque" might be one of the highest praises I think I've ever received.  ;D

For that, I present another chapter.

Chapter Forty-four

Suddenly, there was a horrible lurch and a gut-wrenching metal-on-metal screech, as the TARDIS abruptly changed direction.  It felt, almost, as though it had collided with something.  But, if that was the case, then it must have been something that was almost yielding, like a rubber band that had been stretched to its limit before suddenly flinging the TARDIS backward.  One moment it was flying along as usual, then it unexpectedly slowed, and then suddenly it was careening in the opposite direction.

RAFians cried out as they fell against one another, the floor tilting wildly, tossing them like a ship in a stormy sea.  Their shouts were nearly drowned out, however, by the long series of crashing noises that could still be heard from outside, each crash accompanied by another jarring lurch.  Several RAFians were forced to quickly tap their Marks and activate their human forms in order to avoid hurting anyone else, as they were haphazardly jumbled into one another by the erratic movement of the room they were inside.

Aquilai managed to remain standing, as if by sheer willpower, clinging to the central pillar of the TARDIS.  The console sparked and sputtered, bleeding sparks and bolts of electricity.  "Shh, shh," Aquilai said, patting the machinery, as tenderly as he could manage while the console jerked like a wounded animal beneath his hands.  "I know you've been through a lot, but we still need you."

There was another earsplitting screech and another jarring bounce, and the TARDIS finally came to rest on its side, crumpling everyone against the wall which was now a floor.

"Is anyone hurt?!" Jess called out anxiously, immediately checking those closest to her for injuries.  Aside from some minor cuts and scrapes, however, it seemed that everyone had made it through unscathed.  A minor miracle, to be sure.

"Ugh," Aquilai muttered, his voice now slightly muffled by Shock and Seal who had landed on top of him.  "Well, I guess Queen found a way to protect her lair from teleportation, it seems."

"That makes sense, actually," came Illim's voice from somewhere else within the pile of RAFians.  "She has always been a paranoid despot.  Fearful of anyone or anything who might threaten her power."

Aquilai didn't answer.  His sonic screwdriver could be heard anxiously buzzing as he checked the damage that the TARDIS had taken.  The expression on his face, as he did so, was not at all encouraging.

"We will need to find another way in," Richard said breathlessly as he squirmed his way out from underneath the others.  "We must be close, at least."

Slowly but surely, the other RAFians were extricating themselves from one another, disassembling the pile of people that had been lumped together in the crash.  They wore nearly identical expressions of shock and bewilderment.  Things had happened so suddenly.  Within the span of a few seconds, the only plan they had come up with to infiltrate Queen's lair had become impossible.

Pulled forward by curiosity, Noelle crawled along the wall-floor of the TARDIS, and opened the door.  Gravity pulled the door open so it thumped against the ground.  Demos, who happened to be the next-closest to the door following Noelle, peeked over her shoulder at the unnervingly hellish landscape.

They hadn't landed inside the fortress, that much was clear.  But they hadn't gone far, either.  They seemed to have landed within a gigantic expanse of burned ground, a charred-black wasteland.  Shards of soot-stained concrete were just barely visible sticking up from the hellish red-black scorched earth.  The broken concrete faintly outlined a square pattern on the ground, and with a sick feeling, Noelle realized that those concrete ghosts were all that now remained of buildings.  The city of Houston was nothing more than a blackened wasteland.

The outer edge of the burned area, so far away it was barely visible from here, seemed to curve around, like an enormous outline of a circle.  Or, Noelle realized, like a barrier.  A great open expanse through which no living thing could pass, without their movement sticking out like a neon sign.

Realizing this, Noelle drew back inside the TARDIS, pushing Demos back behind her.  She could hear a static noise, and out of the corner of one stalk eye she could see just a little of the outside of the TARDIS.  It was flickering, like a broken hologram.  A dilapidated car one moment, a bit of brick wall the next, an old storefront, a ramshackle shed.

The chameleon circuit was damaged in the crash, but it was struggling to compensate nonetheless, the TARDIS trying doggedly to hide itself as best it could in this starkly barren and open place.  At least all the disguises were subtle ones, blackened to match the surrounding landscape.  Perhaps they might avoid being seen, after all.  If only until someone looked too closely at this spot and noticed the flickering disguise.

Aquilai made his way to the TARDIS door as soon as he was able to push his way through the other RAFians.  Paying little heed to whatever dangers might lay outside, he climbed through the door.  But at least he still had sense enough to stay within the TARDIS's shadow.  He was muttering to himself as he scanned the TARDIS, waving his sonic screwdriver over the most damaged areas, gingerly touching the surface of his vehicle, like he was trying to offer it comfort in its pain.

"Hold on," he whispered as a few exposed wires knitted themselves together within the blue light of his screwdriver.  "Just hold on."

Demos took the opportunity to clamber over Noelle, peeking out of the TARDIS behind Aquilai.  He looked towards the center of the burned circle, and laid eyes on what it was they had come for.

Queen's castle itself was grandiose indeed, towering over the wasteland.  The structure was hard and angular, like the walls had been broken and put back together, slivers of stone sticking out like needles through the cracks.  The grey-black walls surrounded a central courtyard, where a hill could be seen just over the top of the foreboding walls.

Near the castle was a slightly raised plateau, not connected by any visible structure to the fortress itself.  Yet it felt like a part of the evil complex, nonetheless.  Any plants that had once lived on that barren flat plain were withering and dying, their blackened husks the only mark on the scorched earth.

The whole scene was illuminated by the reddish twilight of the apocalyptic sky.  The plateau looked like a battlefield, already drenched in blood.  And the castle itself looked lit by the fires of hell.

"Oh my god," Terenia whispered breathlessly, shoulder-to-shoulder with Demos.  "Oh, my god, I know that place.  That used to be a college campus.  That's where Marie went to school."

"Queen knew that Houston was something of a mecca to you RAFians," Illim explained.  "She took it as her stronghold, as a symbol of her authority and dominance over you."

Jess shot a poisonous look at Monica.  She knew Monica wasn't responsible for this, but it was like she couldn't help it.  She needed somewhere to vent some of her anger at this monstrous deed.

Monica felt herself being watched, and returned the glare with a challenging expression of her own, daring Jess to voice aloud the comparison Monica knew was on her mind.  Monica was not Queen.

Well, not that Queen, anyway.  She was not the exaggerated evil creature that these RAFians had made her into.

"Plan B," Richard said, stepping forward.  "We can't exactly just waltz up to that place.  We need to find out how Queen's followers get in and out, and then-"

Just then, a thrumming sound came through the TARDIS's door, from the sky above.  A sound almost like a jet engine, but higher, smoother.  It grew in intensity, then faded away, as the unseen ship flew over the TARDIS.

The sound was instantly familiar.  Several RAFians had flown one, and even those who hadn't, still knew what it sounded like.

<There's our ticket,> Russell said cheerfully.  <Now we just have to steal a Bug fighter!>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on February 08, 2014, 10:51:07 PM
I'm trying to visualize post-apocalyptic Houston and all I'm getting is Mordor. :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 11, 2014, 12:37:34 PM
Heh, Rad had a similar thought upon reading that chapter.

Quote
I wanted Richard to say "One does not simply walk . . ."  I have no idea why.

Great minds, am I right?  ;)

Chapter Forty-five

"Whatever we decide to do, I will need to stay here," Aquilai said, barely looking up from his work on the TARDIS.  "See if I can repair her enough to get us out of here."  If he even noticed that he had referred to his ship as 'her,' he gave no indication of correcting himself.  He leaned over to call through the open door, "Shade, you too!"

"Old man, are you still mad at me for breaking your TARDIS?" Shade protested from inside.  "If you'll recall, I fixed it!  Good as new!"

"Which is exactly the point," Aquilai shouted back.  "It means you can help me fix it again.  Come on."

Shade sulked, but in the end, acquiesced.  The wizard drew his wand, and joined the Time Lord outside the TARDIS.  They made for quite a strange pair, repairing the broken craft, with their mismatched combination of magic and technology.

The rest of the RAFians, back inside the relative safety of the TARDIS, debated strategy.  How would they catch a Bug fighter, when they couldn't even move more than a few feet away from the TARDIS without being seen?

As they tossed ideas back and forth, Seal looked up at Lumy, stroking her chin with a flipper.  "Hmm," she muttered.  "I think I have an idea."

The RAFians listened as she outlined her plan.  "You know how dangerous that's going to be, right?" Phoenix said worriedly, after she had finished.  "Lumy is the only one who can pull it off.  Meaning we can't send backup.  I don't like the idea of sending one RAFian in there, alone."

Lumy, meanwhile, was wearing a dangerous grin.  "It sounds like fun, Seal.  This will mark the first time I've ever tried to teleport that far, or hit a moving target.  It's gonna be awesome!"

Seal was looking a little concerned, like maybe she was beginning to have second thoughts about her own idea.  "Wish I could come, but I can only teleport through water, and I doubt there's going to be a body of water aboard a random Bug fighter."

"I can technically teleport," Bear pointed out, a little awkwardly.  "But, only when I'm struck by lightning, and even then I can't control where I go.  Which is, um, not exactly helpful, here."

"We don't even know it will work," Underseen noted.  "If Queen's lair is protected from teleportation, maybe her ships are, too."

<No,> Russell stated flatly, shaking his head.  <It would be far too impractical to shield every Bug fighter with that kind of technology.  Teleportation shielding would interfere with their z-space engines.>

"It's still risky, Lumy," Bear said worriedly.  "Taking on a Bug fighter with no backup?  If anything at all goes wrong . . . "  He trailed off, not wanting to think too long on that possibility.

Monica's eyes suddenly brightened.  "Hey, maybe we could-"

"Bug fighter incoming!" Aquilai interrupted, having heard them outline their plan from outside.  "About two minutes away.  Get ready."

Lumy moved forward, coming to stand in the doorway of the TARDIS, where he could see outside, but could still use the shadow of the overhang to try to conceal his bright aluminum skin.

He tensed as the Bug fighter came closer, a dark blob against the sky, growing ever larger as it drew nearer.  Closer, closer.  It would need to be directly overhead if this was going to work.  He waited, craning his head higher and higher, as the drone of the ship's engines grew louder and louder.

Frustratingly, the fighter somehow seemed to be going incredibly slow and yet far too fast at once.

Finally- "NOW!" Rad shouted.

Lumy stared upward, focusing his eyes on the Bug fighter.  Suddenly, like a scene change in a movie, he was falling through the air.

Too low!  He hadn't teleported far enough!

Hurricane winds spun him end over end as he plummeted from the sky.  He tried to focus, tried to aim again at the Bug fighter, but everything was a blur, ground and sky whirling around him, over and over at a dizzying pace.

There!  For just a split second, on every spin, he could see the dark grey shape against the blood red sky.  He counted in his head, readying himself to jump again.  Three, two, ONE!

. . . Nope, he was still falling.  But the Bug fighter loomed larger in his field of view this time.  Could the Bug fighter see him, too?  No way to know.

Another scene change, and this time he suddenly heard a jarring metallic "CLANG!"  He had landed on something.  The impact would have knocked the wind out of his lungs if he'd had lungs for the wind to be knocked out of, but he could tell the momentum of his fall had damaged a few circuits in his mechanical body nonetheless.

For one dumbfounded moment he didn't know whether he was inside the Bug fighter or if he had landed on its roof, but he picked himself up and saw a Hork-bajir and a Taxxon wearing slack-jawed disbelieving stares at the robot who had suddenly crashed into their midst.

"Gafrash RAFian!" the Hork-bajir shouted, suddenly putting the pieces together.  Lumy groaned.

The two controllers attacked.  Lumy had fought Hork-bajir before, but this time he was already hurt from his fall.  His movements were halting and imprecise, as his machinery struggled to compensate for the damage he had taken.  He punched and kicked erratically at his onrushing opponent, trying to feel the rhythm of the battle in his battered gears, as the Hork-bajir's blades whirled around him.

The Taxxon, at least, was pitifully little challenge in this fight.  As Lumy and the Hork-bajir exchanged blows, the Taxxon had the misfortune of getting too close, and a slashing blade carved deep into its yielding flank.  But, even as it lay bleeding, it unfurled its long tongue and hungrily lapped at its own spilled entrails.

"Why are you here, RAFian?" the Hork-bajir asked, panting heavily as he continued to counterattack and defend himself against Lumy even while he spoke.  It would seem, Lumy thought to himself as he ducked a blow that would have removed his head, that this must be one of those 'smarter-than-average' Hork-bajir-controllers.  "Why waste your abilities on one Bug fighter?"

Lumy said nothing, knowing better than to reveal what he was really after, instead focusing his attention on combat.  He punched and kicked, and the Hork-bajir slashed and spun, matching him almost blow for blow.  Not a typical Hork-bajir, indeed.

Suddenly, with a harsh mechanical grinding noise, Lumy's arm spasmed.  The damage his body had taken was causing him to malfunction, ever so slightly, his gears glitching for just a fraction of a second.  But, in that split second, as his arm twitched upward, the Hork-bajir's blade came down.

It wasn't until he heard the sparking of wires just below his shoulder, that Lumy even realized what had happened.  He looked down and spotted his own aluminum arm lying on the floor in a small puddle of oil.

Grinning, the Hork-bajir rushed at him, assuming he had already won this fight.  Thinking quickly, Lumy shoved the stump of his arm towards the chest of the onrushing Hork-bajir.  The frayed ends of his wires dug into leathery skin.

The Hork-bajir jerked violently, as the same electricity that powered Lumy's body coursed through the controller's own veins.  There was a smell of smoke as the Hork-bajir slumped to the floor.

The Taxxon, meanwhile, was still bleeding, but still alive.  It made a hesitant move towards the crisped body, fearful of Lumy, but unable to resist the lure of half-roasted meat.  Lumy ignored the foul creature.  It would be dead soon from blood loss anyway.

Instead, he turned his attention to the ship's controls.  He needed to land it, to pick up the other RAFians.  He grabbed the joystick, frowned, had to let go in order to press his hand to the pad next to it, unable to do both at once with only one remaining hand.  But he focused his mind on where he wanted to go, like the books had said.

Nothing happened.  Nothing at all.  The Bug fighter stayed on its course, listing slightly now that nobody was steering it.  Nothing Lumy did could change its direction.

He began to feel a surge of panic.  If he couldn't fly the Bug fighter, the whole plan fell apart.  He would be delivered to Queen's fortress, alone.  One robot against Queen's army?  There would be no hope of survival.

No, there had to be something he could do.  He frantically yanked on the controls, willing the ship to change course with all his might.

<Bug fighters are thought-controlled,> a voice behind Lumy said.  <I think mechanical 'thoughts' don't work.>

Lumy spun.  "Who's there?" he demanded.  He saw a hunched shape, an insect of some kind, but it was already the size of a cat and still growing.  Unnervingly human eyes looked out from its black carapace.

<Come now, did you really think this whole 'take over a Bug fighter without backup' thing was going to work?> the voice, which Lumy suddenly recognized as Monica's, went on.  <I have to admit, that was pretty awesome, though.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 11, 2014, 12:47:04 PM
Two chapters for the price of one!

. . . So, free, basically.

Chapter Forty-six

"You hitched a ride," Lumy marveled, as Monica stood up on her still thickening but mostly human legs.  "Where'd you find a flea to morph?"

"The bear has 'em," she said simply.

Lumy made a face, a little uneasy about the idea, as if Monica were insulting Bear's hygiene.  "What?" Monica countered.  "You think because he's a magical talking bear that he's immune to fleas?"

He sighed, but decided to let the subject drop.  Tempting though it was, there was no real point to starting an argument at a time like this.

As soon as she was human enough, Monica came forward to try her hand at the ship's controls.  Lumy realized that his arm was still lying on the floor, and went to pick it up.  "I could have used your help, oh, a few seconds sooner, you know."

She turned around to give him a scornful raised eyebrow.  "And make myself vulnerable in midmorph?  I'd only have gotten myself killed.  Anyway, you did fine."  She shot a glance at his severed arm.  "Well, I'm sure one of your friends can fix ya."

"Thanks for your concern," Lumy said sarcastically.  "Really, I'm touched."

There was a high-pitched revving sound, as the Bug fighter finally changed direction.  "There we go," Monica said.  The fighter dipped its nose, pointing towards the ground as it turned, coasting lower and lower towards the RAFians back at the TARDIS.

"You're not a bad flyer," Lumy commented as he held his arm up to the stump where it had been attached.  Trying to see if he could connect it on his own.  "Most RAFians took a few weeks to-"

The Bug fighter suddenly dropped several feet with a lurch.  "Oh, shut up," Monica said, even though Lumy hadn't said anything.  Her defensiveness only made him grin.  She saw his smile, and snarled.  "I'd like to see you do better.  Oh, wait.  You can't."

Lumy scowled.  It was never a good feeling, to be reminded of one's limitations.  "And I'd like to see you get here without my help."

After a tense moment, Monica softened slightly, realizing Lumy had a point.  Maybe there was at least some merit to the idea of working together, after all.  "Fair enough," she allowed.

Monica really did have a tendency to rub people the wrong way, Lumy thought to himself.  But he wondered how much of that was just a false bravado, to protect herself from ever feeling vulnerable, to keep from ever having to rely on anybody.  Almost like a harsher, female Marco.  The thought made him smile inwardly.  It didn't exactly make him suddenly want to be Monica's friend, but at least he thought he might be able to understand her.

The flickering TARDIS loomed larger and larger in the viewfinder.  As Monica came in for a landing, she nearly overshot, tried to turn, and the Bug fighter awkwardly crunched into the ground at a leaning tilt.  She opened the door to see that several RAFians had already come over to the ship, and others were darting nervously across the open space between the TARDIS and the Bug fighter.

As the RAFians crowded around the small craft, it was easy to see that a Bug fighter built for two was not going to hold thirty people.

"It's risky, but we will have to make several trips," Richard said to the assembled crowd.  It was amazing how quickly he had become comfortable taking command.  And, now that he had planning and strategy to focus on, he was even able to forget the sheer strangeness of the situation he found himself in.  Sometimes.  "Even with some of us able to morph smaller forms, there's simply no way for everyone to go at once."

He looked around at the RAFians, thinking.  Planning.  "We'll want our strongest fighters to go first.  They'll be on their own when they arrive, so they'll need to be able to get out of any tight situations long enough for backup to arrive.  Estelore, Phoenix, Shock, Demos, Russell, you'll be in human forms for the trip.  Seal, Gaz, Underseen, and Tony, you can take smaller forms.  Gaz can take bat form, Seal, be yourself.  Tony and Underseen?"  He shrugged.  "Be whatever you like."

"Nine in one trip, yeah, that should do it," Phoenix agreed.  "Well, eight, since Russell will have to fly the ship on the return trip.  Tight fit, but it will have to do."

Illim stepped forward hesitantly, a little afraid of volunteering for a mission like this, after spending most of his life running from Queen.  But also knowing that his knowledge of her methods could prove useful.  "Room for one more?" he asked, as he began to demorph from his human form.  "Don't worry, I don't take up much room."  Odret shot him a worried look, but he shook his head, telling her to stay behind for now.

The nine RAFians and one Yeerk climbed aboard, Illim lying cradled in Phoenix's hands as the last vestiges of his human face disappeared.  Gaz used the claws on her bat wings to hang onto the back of Shock's shoulder, while Seal scuttled around the forest of legs hemming her in, trying her best not to be stepped on.  Underseen had simply shifted into a smaller copy of himself, looking like he'd been shrunk, whereas Tony had gone mouse.

While Seal wasn't looking, Underseen jumped onto her back, straddling her like she was a horse.  "Hey!" she barked, but didn't make any other move to throw him off, so the tiny shifter stayed right where he was.  Seal soon relaxed, deciding that being someone's 'steed' was actually kinda cool.

Russell took the controls, easing the ship back into the air.  He had a lot more experience than Monica did flying Yeerk ships, and the ride was smooth enough to be mistaken for autopilot.

But that didn't change the inevitable discomfort of five humans and five miscellaneous other creatures in one Bug fighter.  The flight felt like it took forever, with everyone so uncomfortably close to one another.  Shoulders dug into backs, elbows into stomachs.

Not even the scenery could distract them from the miserable ride.  There was nothing to see but black below, and nothing but red above.

Finally, after what felt like hours, the fortress loomed into view.  The ship slowed, as though hesitant to come closer.  Demos elbowed Russell.  "Scared?" the demon taunted the Andalite.

"Uh, guys?" Russell said anxiously.  "I'm not doing that.  I'm not the one slowing the ship down!"  He twisted the joystick, and the ship didn't respond.  He looked up through the Bug fighter's window to see a metallic line opening in the ground, the black earth itself splitting down a straight-line seam to reveal a silvery chamber within.  It was this chamber that the Bug fighter was slowly but unwaveringly drifting toward.

"In fact," he began, with the unnerving kind of calm that is born of sheer terror.  "I'd say we've got a tractor beam on us."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on February 11, 2014, 01:25:01 PM
Well, this is just lovely.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Underseen on February 13, 2014, 11:29:11 PM
I assumed that in chapter 45 we were purposefully ignoring Monica and her plan. Glad that you just post chapter 45, but there's even more suspense at the end of 46.You're doing this on purpose you sly dinosaur
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 18, 2014, 12:36:04 AM
Of course I do it on purpose, thanks for noticing.  ;)

Chapter Forty-seven

Aquilai wiped the sweat from his brow as he worked, reconnecting the wires and circuits that lay deep inside the TARDIS.  A gentle green glow accented his features, as he reached down into the alien-lighted innards of the machine.

A drop of sweat fell into the maze of circuitry, and Aquilai gave a sharp intake of breath as the droplet fell towards the delicate electrical components.  But it landed on a conduit and fizzled harmlessly away.  Aquilai sighed with relief.

It wasn't that the work was hard, not really.  It was more that it was so nerve-wracking.  He had never had to do such extensive repairs on his TARDIS before.  And, while he knew that 'she' wasn't truly alive, he felt a sense of kinship, nonetheless.  The same way you learn to care for your own car, after it has carried you across all those thousands of miles, to the ends of your own personal universe.  A machine that becomes a friend.

Well, that, and then there was the fact that he was in Texas.  It was hot.  Yeah, sure.  That was the real reason Aquilai was sweating.  Not because he was cobbling together the broken remnants of his most beloved possession.

Aquilai could hear Shade muttering as he performed his own repairs.  The wizard was learning to cast spells wordlessly, but he wasn't quite always able to.  So every now and then Aquilai would hear a whispered "Reparo."

To be honest, it made him more than a little nervous, letting someone else work on his TARDIS.  Particularly a non-RAFian.  But it was either that, or stay stuck here twice as long, without any means of escape if anything went wrong.  So, like it or not, he would take the risk.

"I wonder what's taking so long?" Shade asked, glancing up briefly at the sky outside, as he voiced the same worry that Aquilai had been thinking for a while now.  "It feels like it's been hours."

"I'm sure Queen's fortress must just be farther away than it looks," Aquilai reasoned.  But he sounded like he was trying to convince himself, as much as Shade.  "That's all it is."

"That's never all it is," Shade said darkly.

Aquilai felt his hearts twinge in his chest, as he recognized that Shade was right.  And, really, it wasn't like he hadn't known.  He just hadn't wanted to admit what he already knew.

It had been hours.  There was no way it should take this long for Russell to fly the stolen Bug fighter back to the TARDIS.

"Something's wrong," the Time Lord said.

"Well, what are we going to do?" Rachel said, startling Aquilai as she suddenly appeared next to him.  Rachel, at least, had no interest in wasting time moping.  There were friends to be rescued.  "What's the plan?"

Aquilai sighed.  "What can we do?" he shot back, angrily.  Not angry at Rachel, but at everything.  "We were only barely able to figure out how to get to Queen's castle at all.  How are we supposed to do it twice?"

"We could catch another Bug fighter," Lumy said, flexing the fingers of his recently reattached arm.  The seam where the limb had been welded was still clearly visible, but other than that it seemed to be working fine.

"With you only just out of the repair shop?" Shade retorted.  "It was a close call the first time, before you got damaged.  I really don't think you can pull that off again."  Lumy frowned, but, after a beat of frustrated silence, nodded.

Odret looked like she wanted to add something, but instead she just kept pacing back and forth across the TARDIS, obviously distraught.

She should have gone.  That was all she could think about.  It should have been her.  Instead, Illim was alone somewhere and in danger and there was nothing she could do.  Why had she stayed behind?

And, although the question never quite entered her conscious mind, in some corner of her thoughts she couldn't help but wonder why she suddenly cared so much.

"Uh, guys?" Rachel said, tilting her head curiously as she suddenly spotted something in the very back corner of the TARDIS.  Whatever it was, it was obscured by shadows, until everyone else had long-since forgotten it had ever even been there.  She walked towards the darkened area, trying to get a better look at whatever it was that had glinted at her, catching her eye in the gloom.  "What the heck is this thing?"

A few RAFians came over, following her, wondering what she had found.  The glint she had seen was a bit of stray light reflecting off of the machine's metal body, the object having shifted slightly towards the brighter center of the TARDIS in the crash.

But, as their eyes adjusted to the shadows, the RAFians soon saw what appeared to be a two-seated vehicle of some sort, vaguely Delorean-like but smaller and without wheels.  It was gold, with red and orange highlights.

Cody, Bear, and Jess gasped at once.  "Phoenix's time machine!" Cody said.  "Oh, man, he must've forgotten he even brought this!"

<Phoenix is with the others, in Queen's castle,> Noelle pointed out.

"Can anybody else fly it?" Becky wondered.

Rachel grinned that dangerous grin of hers.  "I think we're about to find out."

In the end, it was decided for Odret to try flying the new ship.  She had more experience than most of the remaining RAFians did with any kind of spacecraft.  And, as was apparent to most of the RAFians, if not the reason why, she seemed possessed by a sudden, newfound determination.

Aquilai seemed slightly wistful, as though he wanted to go.  But it was still important to fix the TARDIS, seeing as Phoenix's time machine couldn't hold everyone.  And he and Shade were the only ones who could make the necessary repairs.

After a moment's thought, Bloodbane opted to come along with the rescue team as well, his blank-slate human form fitting surprisingly easily into the passenger seat beside Odret's own human form.  At least, he seemed surprised by it.  He still wasn't quite used to the new body.

Rachel, Richard, Becky, Saffa, Rad, Cloak, Terenia, and Monica comprised the rest of the rescue team.  Richard, Becky, Rad and Cloak each acquired fleas as Monica had done before, each of them making uncomfortable faces as they did so.  But Rachel assured them that, as far as insect morphs went, fleas were easy.  Nonetheless, there was something about turning into something so small, especially when preparing for a mission this dangerous, that made all four of them a little uneasy.

"Don't worry, fleas are sturdy," Rachel said with a laugh at their worries.  "Ever tried to kill one?  It's not as easy as you'd think."

After they'd acquired the new morphs, they loaded themselves into the 'car.'  Terenia slipped into Odret's ear, both of them appreciating the irony of a human-turned-Yeerk infesting a Yeerk-turned-human.  Rachel went roach, while Saffa used a fly morph she'd acquired a while back.  The rest of them went flea.  Bloodbane did his best to keep an eye on the flea that was Becky, but she was hard to see, and after a while he decided he had to trust that she would be fine.

There was a certain kinship that the four captives from the lab in Switzerland felt for each other.  It would have been hard to explain to an outsider, but it was a sentiment that any RAFian could understand.  They had been through hell together, and that was a kind of bond that stuck with you.

Terenia glanced at Bloodbane through Odret's eyes, and saw the compassion and worry for Becky written on his face.  It was hard to be sure whether it was Odret, or Terenia, who put a comforting hand on his shoulder.  But they both understood.  They understood what it was like to have a family, closer than blood, brought together by some force that couldn't quite be put into words.  RAFians on one hand, the Yeerk rebellion on the other.

Odret shook her head slightly and took a deep breath, focusing her mind on the matter at hand, as she clenched her fingers around the steering wheel of Phoenix's time machine.  She had no idea how to drive the thing, of course.  But she saw the levers next to the readout where the date was inscribed.

They'd agreed that they would go back in time, to a time before Queen would have been able to construct her fortress.  From there, they would sneak into whatever the place had been before that.  Then, simply fast forward to when the Russell and the others had run into trouble.  Nice and simple.  Only about a dozen things that could go wrong.

Odret pulled the levers, and watched the number wheel that displayed the date, as the numbers spun backward.  The TARDIS disappeared around them, leaving only the burned wasteland.  But as they watched out the windows, the landscape was suddenly engulfed by fire.  The two 'humans' in the car winced in fear, but they were protected from the flames by the machine's shields.

After the explosion had cleared, ending in a laser-red flash, buildings stood once again where they had been destroyed.  Time continued to run backwards, and plants unfurled from their dead husks.  The sky brightened, the reddish tint clearing like it had been nothing more than a bad thunderstorm.

A college campus stood where Queen's castle had been.  Odret stepped on something that was strangely similar to a gas pedal in a human car, and the time machine hovered forward.  It was similar enough to a normal car that none of the people on the sidewalk noticed that it didn't have wheels.

It seemed easy, almost too easy.  Nonetheless, Odret could feel Terenia's worry.  <What is it?>

Terenia sighed anxiously.  <Let's just hope that Queen can't protect against time travel as well as she can against teleportation.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on February 18, 2014, 12:43:04 AM
If you're wondering why I always like to post two chapters at once, it's because my brain has a tendency to get ahead of itself.  :P

Chapter Forty-eight

Iniss 226 spun in his swivel chair, trying to entertain himself during the boring work of watching the security monitors.  Nothing ever happened, and he was pretty sure nothing ever would.  Surely, even RAFians wouldn't be so stupid as to attack the fortress directly.  Right?

But, well, Queen was nothing if not a paranoid despot.  And so all of her most trusted lieutenants had to take their shift watching those monitors.  These awful boring monitors where nothing ever-

Hold on.  Wait.  That was strange.  Iniss saw Temrash's ship, coming in.  But Temrash was scheduled to arrive by the north hangar.  Whereas his ship was clearly heading for the east side of the fortress.  He was completely off-course.

Iniss wavered his hand over the intercom button, then thought better of it.  If the ship had been taken over, which was completely impossible of course, but if it had, then the last thing he wanted to do was to alert the hypothetical intruders that he was onto them.

A little paranoia was sometimes a good thing.

Instead, he ran a life-scan on the incoming ship.  The machine beeped and whirred as it ran its invisible probing rays across the Bug fighter.

Wait, what?  That had to be an error, Iniss thought, as he looked down at the display.  There was only one living thing aboard the ship?  And that one thing, was a Yeerk, without a host?  That couldn't possibly be right.

<Shielded,> Goom's broken voice spoke up from inside Iniss's mind.  <Their life-signs are shielded.  By the same devices that protect their timelines from the likes of you.>

Goom was rewarded by a spike of fear coming from Iniss.  Only one group of people could shield themselves like that.  He knew exactly who it was, who possessed that technology called the 'Marks,' that in another timeline would have been designed by his very own host.

"RAFians!" he hissed.

<Yes, RAFians,> Goom agreed smugly.  His voice, so long beaten down, now sounded almost like he was singing.  <They've come to destroy you.>

Iniss jumped up from the chair, where he could punch the button that activated the tractor beam.  Nothing they could do, now that they had so foolishly wandered within range.  They couldn't possibly escape.

But there was more to it than that, wasn't there?  There was that paranoia again, the paranoia that Queen had instilled in him, sounding alarm bells in the back of his mind.  They wouldn't have come without a plan.  So, then, what would they do, now that they were in Queen's trap?

Sometimes, as Iniss himself knew very well, a trapped animal could be the most dangerous of all.

As the tractor beam drew the ship into the hangar, the front of the hull began to glow molten orange.  Waves of heat shimmered from the firey metal.  The ship itself began to deform, to warp, the front end sagging as it melted.

Then, like a bubble, the front end of the ship simply popped, the molten goo dripping away to reveal the interior.  Goom recognized Estelore, their hands glowing with sunlight, standing in front of the others.  But, within a fraction of a second, as soon as the ship had popped open, Estelore's hands went out, and a tiny white furred figure leapt forward.  Seal quickly raised her fins, and the glowing metal immediately went out.  Iniss could see a hint of frost forming in the air around her, as Seal's icy wind put out Estelore's fire.

"Guards, guards!" Iniss cried out over the intercom.  "Everyone to east hangar!  NOW!  Code Sky-Blue!  RAFians!  I repeat, we have RAFians!"

The RAFians tensed as they themselves heard the announcement.  They looked ready to run, but so far they weren't sure where to run to.  Shock switched to his dragon form, and the others jumped onto his back as the ship sank lower and lower along the tractor beam's path.  He unfurled his wings, taking off right as the ship finally crunched into the floor of the hangar.

But the hangar door had already closed above them.  Estelore aimed a beam of flame at the solid steel doors, but the hangar was much stronger than the Bug fighter had been.  The metal only glowed dimly, showing no sign of weakening.

There was nowhere to go.  Shock roared in frustration, like a tiger in a cage.  Iniss heard the mighty dragon's roar as a tinny warbling sound, echoing pitifully through the speakers of the monitor that showed their plight.

That was enough fooling around.  Iniss grabbed his Dracon, and ran out the door, heading to the hangar himself.  If there were RAFians to be caught, well, he ought to be there to claim the glory, oughtn't he?

Hork-bajir and Taxxons bustled past, all running like their lives depended on it, and all headed towards the same place.  Their lives probably did depend on it, lest any one of them be the one who was left out of the fight when Queen realized there were RAFians right here on her front door.

But Iniss briefly paused, as he ran down the corridor.  Something made him stop, made him wonder.  There was a little inscription on this wall, etched deep into the stone.  It had always been there, of course, since even before any of these buildings had been fashioned together into Queen's fortress.  But it had never made sense.  Nobody had been able to puzzle out what it meant.

Until now.  Suddenly, with a force that made Goom gasp so sharply that even Iniss couldn't prevent his intake of breath, he put it all together.

It wasn't meant for Queen, or her followers.  It wasn't even meant for their innocent human hosts.  It was written, somehow, for the RAFians who were here, today.

Don't give up.  Help is coming.

Your friends are here.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on February 18, 2014, 01:03:45 AM
There is a lot of timey wimey involved...
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on March 06, 2014, 11:56:46 AM
Late post again because I was waiting for chapters to happen.

But, anyway, you've got a story with no less than four different time machines (count 'em: the Time Matrix, the TARDIS, Phoenix's time machine, and my Sario Ripper), so of course it's going to be timey wimey.

Chapter Forty-nine

Terenia, Rachel, Cloak, Saffa, Odret, Rad, Monica, Becky and Bloodbane walked through the bustling college campus, all of them feeling strangely out of place.  Here, in this place, it was so . . . normal.  And that utter normalcy now felt alien and strange.

Terenia hugged some books to her chest, clinging to them like they were a lifeline.  Maybe, she thought, if she was carrying books around, she would look more like just another student.  And less like an alien in a human hologram.

As long as the librarian didn't notice she'd stolen the books right off the shelves, that is.

The others wavered behind her, letting her lead the way.  Even Rachel seemed just a little on edge, if only because she knew she was much too young to be here.  Yeah, a middle schooler in college, that didn't look suspicious at all.  But, hey, maybe she could pretend to be the sister of one of the others?  She decided she looked enough like Terenia to be passed off as a visiting relative, and hovered close by Terenia's elbow.

It was hard for any of them to let go of that lingering sense of paranoia they each felt.  The feeling that every face could conceal an enemy.  It was hard for them to believe that this was just a normal day, in the normal lives of a hundred normal people.  When, they each knew, there was nothing normal about anything, anymore.

Only Monica seemed at ease here.  But it was hard to tell if her confidence was genuine, or just another misguided attempt to 'prove herself.'  Either way, she walked with her usual swagger, nonchalantly keeping to the back of the group, as though disinterested in being here at all.

Suddenly, Terenia gasped.  A few of the others tensed, as though expecting an attack.  But most of them seemed confused when they looked where she was looking, and saw only an innocent-looking red-haired girl.  Just a student like any other, as far as Richard could tell.  Of the group, only Saffa shared in Terenia's surprise.

"Marie!" Terenia exclaimed, rushing towards the girl, Saffa following quickly after.

The girl looked up, startled and confused.  Why were these strangers acting like they knew her?  She'd never seen any of them before.

Terenia slowed to a stop in front of her, as she bitterly reminded herself that Marie would have no idea who she was.  Not her, or any RAFian.

"Don't you remember me?" Terenia asked hopefully, thinking maybe there might still be something.  They'd been such good friends, it was painful to think that she might remember nothing at all.  All because of RAF they had known each other, and without RAF, they had never met.

"Uh, from Chemistry class?" Terenia tried lamely, hoping to pass this strange encounter off as something that had a perfectly reasonable explanation.

"I'm not even taking Chemistry," Marie said, raising an eyebrow.  Almost disappointedly, she sighed, and started to leave.  "Sorry, you must have me confused with someone else."

Richard grabbed her shoulder.  He, at least, wanted to get down to business.  He was done with nonsense.  Sick of doing nothing, tired of going nowhere.  "Listen, we're in a different timeline," he whispered urgently to her.  "Many of us don't know each other, but we're supposed to."

A librarian suddenly rounded a corner, and narrowed her eyes as she saw Richard with his hand gripping Marie's shoulder, the poor girl frozen in shock at the man's unexpected audacity.  As Marie stared back at Richard, wide-eyed with fear, he suddenly realized what this might look like.  Quickly, he let her go, almost jumping back, like somebody recoiling from a shock.  The librarian seemed to relax as he let her go, but she kept a wary eye on Richard, nonetheless.

Marie backed away from Richard with the sudden fake urgency of someone who just wanted to be anywhere except here.  He sighed, and turned back to the others.  It was back to nothing and nowhere, it seemed.

"So," he said wearily.  "Has anyone come up with any new ideas how to get, uh, Phoenix's car, in here?"  He looked over his shoulder, fully aware that there were students in hearing range.  He picked his words with hesitation.

"I still say we just drive it through a wall," Rachel said emphatically, clapping her fist against the palm of her other hand.  "That car's gotta be a sturdy thing, right?"

A few frat boys looked over with enthusiastic smiles and noises of approval, apparently excited about the mere mention of driving a car through a wall.  Like it was some kind of epic senior prank.

Bloodbane sighed, ignoring the grinning idiots eavesdropping on their conversation.  "We've already wrecked one, uh, car.  This one's our last shot."  He lowered his voice.  "Besides, what if we killed someone?"

"Why can't we drive it through the outdoor part of campus, again?" Monica asked snidely.

"Because," Terenia grated, lowering her own voice to a whisper.  "If we do that, then we make the news.  And, if we make the news, then Queen knows right where and when to find us."

Saffa, meanwhile, had found a scrap of metal, and was carefully etching something into the wall behind a bookcase, only half-listening to the conversation.  Now that Marie was gone, she was bored.  The others were still talking about the same things they must have already discussed a dozen times.  It felt like the conversation just circled around and around.

But, well, this was something she needed to do, anyway.  She wasn't sure why.  A message of encouragement and hope, to their friends who were probably in too much of a mess to notice the writing anyway?  It was almost silly.  But, still, it was a good thing to do, the right thing.

And, Saffa hoped, nobody would be able to find the message that she was writing, as long as that bookcase stayed there.  It could stay there for years and nobody would be the wiser, no nosy teacher would clean up what looked like graffiti.

But, Saffa had a feeling, Queen probably wasn't a big fan of books.  So, maybe, just maybe, the message would be seen by those who needed to see it, when they needed to see it.

She hoped, at least.  It was all she could do.

Suddenly, like a draft of bitter wind, an ominous feeling swept across the RAFians.  That nervous gooseflesh that comes with being watched.  Saffa dropped the piece of metal.

"Oh, don't stop on my account," a sinister voice came from behind them.  "Please, finish what you were writing."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on March 06, 2014, 12:17:45 PM
Chapter Fifty

Estelore roared in frustration, unpleasantly reminded of their time spent in that horrible blank white eternity inside the data drive back in Switzerland.

Nowhere to go.  Trapped, with nothing to fight back against.  Trapped in an indestructible box.

The hangar doors still would not open.  The RAFians knew that Queen's forces would be massing outside, waiting until their victims were so hopelessly outnumbered that they could not stand a chance.

But there was nothing the RAFians could do about it.  Phoenix and Demos and Estelore threw fireball after fireball at the blast shields, nothing.  Shock clawed the walls, and Russell slashed with his tail at the thick steel panels.  Nothing.

It felt like forever.  Waiting.  Just waiting.  The calm before the storm.  Except that it wasn't calm, it was anxious and nerve-wracking and terrifying.  It was worse than the storm.

Except . . . no, it wasn't.  It wasn't worse than the storm that was coming.  That was the very worst part of all.  They all knew the storm that was coming would be deadly and terrible, and they might not survive it.

So they paced, and they fumed, and they roared.  Hours passed, or what felt like hours, in those tense moments of time condensed by unspent adrenaline.

Finally, after that unbearable eternity, after their frayed nerves could no longer bear the waiting, the doors creaked.  The RAFians tensed, so suddenly that their hearts felt like they each skipped a beat.

This was it.

The things that finally came through the door were barely even recognizable as Hork-bajir.  Their faces were covered by silvery welding masks, the classic flat rectangle shape distorted and swooped forward to cover their beaks.  There was only the narrowest of slits, covered by orange-tinted glass, where the creatures' eyes should have been.

Their bodies were enclosed by bulky silver fabric, with metal sheaths over their blades.  No part of their skin was exposed.  Even their tails were draped with that glinting silver canvas.

They looked like a hazmat team.  Or like a bomb squad.

Estelore pointed their hands at the nearest Hork-bajir, and immediately a huge and brilliant gout of flame shot forth, blinding anyone foolish enough to be looking in that direction.  Nothing could be seen of the Hork-bajir beneath the raging white fire.

But, when the flare had cleared, the Hork-bajir still stood, his suit glowing a dim orange like dying embers.  Within seconds, even that dim orange glow had faded back to silver.

He looked down at his arms, almost as surprised at this development as Estelore was.  "Hah!" he said, his voice muffled by the metal over his face.  "Queen was right!  Suits protect Hork-bajir!"

For the first time in a long time, Estelore felt a pang of fear.  What could they do, if their powers were useless?  How else were they supposed to fight?  Their powers, so seemingly unstoppable, were, in the end, all they really had.

The Hork-bajir troops rushed forward, emboldened by their perceived invincibility.  Seal threw up her flippers, hoping they might be more vulnerable to cold than they were to fire.  Nothing happened.  The suits briefly glowed a dim blue, but the Hork-bajir didn't even slow down.

Shock roared.  The shiny suits were not without disadvantage, he had noticed.  They made the Hork-bajir slow and clunky, unable to make full use of their natural reflexes.  The dragon darted his head towards the nearest Hork-bajir.  The Hork-bajir was helpless to escape as Shock snapped his jaws around the unfortunate controller's body.  There was a metallic crunching noise, as his teeth punctured the metal suit.  Like biting into a soda can.

Shock whipped his head and flung the Hork-bajir into a wall.  The metal suit slid to the ground and slumped, lifeless.

The dragon smiled a sharp-toothed grin.  Not so invincible, after all.

But his smile quickly faded as he realized that he was still only one RAFian, fighting against dozens of Hork-bajir.  Phoenix and Demos had added their fire to Estelore's onslaught, but with just as little effect.  Seal was trying to freeze a Hork-bajir, but the soaring heat from the other three RAFians' fire, trapped in the enclosed space of the hangar like an oven, ensured that no ice would stay frozen for long.

Russell swung his tail, slicing through metal sheathing.  His Andalite tail made a horrific combination of high-pitched metallic whine and the much lower sound of ripping flesh.  But, like Shock, he was one against a legion.

The Hork-bajir laughed as they closed in.  They knew they had already won.

Tony looked back, as well as he could, over his furry grey shoulder, as he ran from the now-open hangar door.

In the chaos, nobody could have noticed a mouse darting past.

He told himself that he wasn't being cowardly, only practical.  The RAFians weren't winning this fight, and without the TARDIS there would be no escape from Queen's army.  Not this time.

The only hope was to get to the Time Matrix.  End it now, before any more lives could be lost.  He had been so close, once before, as he had chased Queen across time and space.  So close to ending it all.  The Time Matrix had only been feet away.  Yet he could not reach it before it was yanked away again.

So, it wasn't cowardice that drove him to run away from the fight.  Although that was what it felt like, filling him with heart-wrenching shame, as he scurried along the floor on tiny mouse feet.

He steeled his mind against those thoughts.  The Time Matrix.  End this horrible fight.  Save his friends.

He remembered the schematics of Queen's fortress from Illim's holographic map, trying to picture the maze of tunnels in his mind.  It was harder to visualize, when he was now looking up at the hallways from ground level, compared to seeing things from a human's viewpoint.  But there had been a place, off the very edge of the map, where it looked like the beginning of a hallway, but it had simply cut off.  Just an open doorway to nowhere.

And, now that he had briefly seen the fortress from the outside, he knew that the hallway he had seen would have led directly into the heart of that awful barren plateau that protruded from the ground like scar tissue.

It was, he realized, an underground bunker.

He didn't have to wonder what it was that would merit such protection that it needed to be hidden away deep underground.  What would be so well-protected from spies that there would be no data pertaining to the location where it could be found.

It could be only one thing.  The most powerful object in the universe.  The Time Matrix.

<Hang on,> Tony called back to the others, just before he was out of thought-speak range.  <I'm going to save the world.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on March 06, 2014, 12:27:09 PM
One more chapter (for now).

Chapter Fifty-one

That voice.  It was Monica's voice.  Nervously, Saffa turned to where Monica was.  And there Monica still stood, just as stunned as the rest of them.

But as she looked at Monica, Saffa realized that, no, it hadn't been her voice at all.  At least, not quite her voice.  No, Monica's voice did not quite have that deep and broken cruelty to it, that strangely layered sound, like an echoing snarl.

Slowly, fearfully, the RAFians turned to face the true source of the voice.  They hesitated, as if they didn't quite want to see the one they already knew would be standing there.

And there she stood.  The multi-layered outline of a person who was not quite Monica.  Behind her stood about a dozen burly students, like thugs, ready to obey her command.

"Queen," Cloak hissed.

Other students, those not in league with her, looked on in fear, silent.  Afraid to do or say anything against this warped abomination of reality.  Some tried to look down, go back to whatever they'd been doing, pretend as if nothing was going on.

She was just human enough that maybe they could convince themselves they weren't really seeing what they knew they saw.  It was all they could do, to go on pretending she wasn't real.  This woman, this monstrosity in their midst, exuded a presence that could not be challenged, no matter how obvious it was that she did not belong.

"My dears, you seem to have misplaced a friend of yours," Queen said mockingly, reveling in the effect she had on those around her.  "I was simply returning her to you.  Dearie?  Won't you introduce me?"

Terenia gasped as Marie stepped forward, taking her place by Queen's side.  "You . . . what?!" she started, incredulous, before she suddenly realized the terrible truth.  That was not Marie's smile, that horrible grimace that cruelly twisted her normally innocent face.

It was not Marie at all.

"I simply remembered an odd meeting, once upon a time," the controller that was once Marie laughed.  "Queen was very interested to hear all about it, you see."

A slightly younger Marie, meanwhile, peeked her head around a corner, perplexed to be hearing a voice that sounded so remarkably like her own.  She hadn't gone far, it seemed, even after the encounter with Richard.

It was the silence, the deadly silence in a library that was never quite entirely devoid of the chatter of students, that had drawn her, like an onlooker to the site of an accident.  Where Richard had seemed strange but not truly dangerous, this, whatever it was, reeked of danger.

She should run.  Should.  She knew she should.  But something kept her here, against every instinct, against every alarm bell that was ringing in her head.

"Oh," the future Marie said, snapping her fingers.  "And I remembered running into my future self, too."  Suddenly, she shot a glance right at her own younger counterpart, as though she knew exactly where the other girl would be even before she'd looked.  The younger Marie gave a frightened squeak, and darted back behind the corner, breathing heavily.

So much was wrong with this, Marie thought, as her mind raced in panic.  So much was wrong, with all of it.  What in the world was even going on?  Her future self?  How was that possible?

And what was it that compelled her to stay, when every nerve ending and every muscle in her body was screaming at her to run?

The future Marie laughed.  "That was a strange thing to see."

"You arrogant-" Terenia began, starting towards Queen.

"Ah-ah-ah," Queen said coyly, backing up to gesture to the muscular 'students' behind her.  The RAFians probably wouldn't have noticed anything strange about them, if one of them hadn't suddenly flickered.  In the space of a blink of an eye, the human was replaced by something green and bladed, the image gone again so fast that most would have written it off as a trick of the mind.

They were wearing wristbands, like oversized watches.  Exactly like the RAFians' own Marks, Saffa realized with a start.  Except that these were a sickly shade of red instead of that familiar comforting blue.  And where there should have been an 'R,' there was, instead, the letter 'Q.'

Richard narrowed his eyes.  "You don't miss a trick, do you?"

Queen beamed, like she'd received a compliment.

Monica, still standing off to the side of the group, where she might not be seen, took a step towards her warped counterpart.  Slowly, almost hesitantly.  She knew what she needed to do, and this was the time to do it.  Perhaps her only chance.  But what would happen to her when she did?

In the end, she never got the chance to do anything.  Queen saw Monica's approach out of the corner of her inhuman metallic eye.  Snarling, she spun, raised an angry hand, and slapped Monica across the face with a harsh and resounding crack.  Monica looked stunned, and several of the others did too.  Yet Monica didn't look like she'd even registered the pain of the strike.  What had surprised her was that nothing else had happened.

The two 'Queens' had touched, if only for a brief moment.  The paradox was supposed to have destroyed them both.  That had been the Ellimist's big clue.

Hadn't it?

"You half-rate, sadistic, self-absorbed b-" Cloak started, his lip curling from the rage boiling inside him, like a dammed river that had risen until it was unable to be held back.

Queen moved so fast that none of the RAFians even had time to react.  By the time anyone knew what was happening, she had Richard pinned against a bookcase.  He squirmed helplessly, but couldn't move so much as an inch.  Queen wrenched his arm with all the strength of the multitude that she was.  The strength of a thousand.  Richard might as well have been struggling against a steel vise.

"Now, now," Queen purred, as she gripped Richard by the throat.  "I just want to talk."

"No, you don't," Terenia hissed.

Queen laughed.  "No, I don't."  In the blink of an eye, she shoved Richard headfirst into a nearby wall.  Richard slumped, unconscious.

Saffa uttered a choked cry, horrified.  "Now, we can do this the easy way," Queen whispered, almost gently, as she snatched Rachel by the wrist.  "Or the hard way."  Rachel stifled a cry as Queen twisted her arm with a horrible cracking sound.

"You see, my dears, you're in the wrong time," she explained cheerfully.  "And if you'll please follow me, we can fix that."

"What?" Terenia asked, confused, but almost hopeful.  Wondering what Queen meant, that she would take them to the time they were supposed to be.

Would she really be stupid enough to lead them right to the Time Matrix?

Queen laughed as she saw the foolish hope in Terenia's eyes.  "Oh, no, no, nothing like that.  Come."

The RAFians had little choice but to follow.  Even if they could have taken on Queen, she still had a dozen disguised Hork-bajir with her.  And even if they could have fought against them, there were innocent bystanders here, as well.

No, this was no place for a fight.

Bloodbane and Cloak each put an arm around Richard's unconscious form, propping him up as they draped his own arms over their shoulders.  Queen took the opportunity to stroke the once-father of RAF's face, a sinister touch, a poisoned caress that carried a promise of pain.

Cloak snarled.  He wasn't sure why, but he felt protective of Richard.  Because he had once been a RAFian, himself, in some other time?  He had none of those memories.  Yet, in that moment his rage flared, he felt a bond with the other RAFians, against this common enemy.

Yes, he would protect them.  With everything in him, he would.

Queen led them away from the library and across the campus.  Again, there was that normalcy that felt so abnormal.  Green grass, laughing students, sunlight and trees.  And through it all they were marched, as if at gunpoint, but unnoticed.

They were marshaled to a shed on the edge of campus, not much more than a little abandoned shack.  Inside the dark and dusty interior, there were person-sized glass cylinders, nine of them, with machinery that quietly whirred and clicked, and plastic tubes that oozed fog like a liquid spilling across the ground.  The white mist swirled around the RAFians as they entered the place, chilling their feet from the ankles down.

"No!" Terenia shouted, immediately realizing what this was.  She tried to back away, but a Hork-bajir, no longer behind the ruse of his Mark-inspired human hologram, rudely shoved her towards the tubes.  "NO!"

"Stasis," Odret said in a flat monotone.  "You're going to put us in stasis."

"You don't understand!" Terenia cried out, horrified.  Knowing that pleading would be useless, but also knowing that there was nothing else she could do.  "I have one day left!  One day!  One day and then I'm dead!  You can't do this, you'll kill me!"

"Maybe it'll kill you, maybe it won't," Queen said with an indifferent shrug.  "I don't really care, one way or the other."  She made a gesture to her faithful Hork-bajir-controllers, who grinned like hungry sharks as they closed in.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on March 06, 2014, 12:37:07 PM
S***.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on April 01, 2014, 12:37:52 PM
Chapter Fifty-two

Richard blinked wearily, as he slowly returned to consciousness.  It took him a moment to track where he was.

With a shock, he remembered everything.  All the craziness that had happened in only the past day and a half came rushing back to him at once.  Richard looked up at the distorted form of Queen, who was laughing as he awoke.  Cloak and Bloodbane were looking nervous as they propped him up by his arms.  They felt him stirring, and when he had regained enough of his strength to support himself, they let him go.

"You're finally awake," Queen crowed, striding over to him like a cat who had trapped a mouse.  "Now the fun can really begin."

"Can we talk?" Richard said desperately.  Feeling like he was grasping at straws, but willing to try almost anything.  "Can't we please just talk about this?"

The Hork-bajir on either side of Queen crossed their arms.  Not exactly a friendly gesture, but showing their willingness to listen.  Queen herself stopped a few inches from Richard's face.  Waiting for what he had to say.

"I'm sorry that you were banished from RAF," Richard said, hanging his head in contrition.

"We are all sorry," Terenia went on, picking up Richard's thread.  "RAF is a place of friendship and love, and, well, your presence there had put that in danger.  We only wanted our friends to be safe and happy.  We never meant to hurt you."

Queen glared fiercely, but then turned away, hiding her face.  When she looked back, there was something underneath the anger.  To all of their surprise, Queen raised a hand to brush some wetness from her eye.  There was a beat of silence, as the RAFians realized that Queen wasn't quite the evil creature as they all had come to see her.  She was human, too.  With thoughts, and feelings.  "It hurt me, you know.  I had friends on RAF, too."

For the first time, Monica looked at Queen with an emotion other than the anger that seemed to mirror Queen's own.  What was this feeling she felt?  Pity?  Pity for this twisted version of herself?  But, well, in the end, Queen was right.  Rejection truly was a hurtful and terrible thing.  Monica knew that, too.  Given enough time, it could twist anybody into something vengeful and evil.

"Come here," Monica said hesitantly, stretching out her arms.  Queen paused, but then dived towards her counterpart.  The supervillain let out a small sob as the two of them, Queen and her 'twin,' embraced.

"It's not fair," Queen moaned disconsolately.  "I just wanted to belong somewhere.  All I ever wanted, was a friend."

Monica patted Queen's head.  "There there.  It's okay.  You don't have to destroy the world.  I'm here."

While Monica comforted Queen, her subordinate Hork-bajir looked mournfully at one another, lost in the sentimentality of the moment.  Two of them moved towards each other, attempting a hug of their own.  One of them, predictably injured by the other's blades as they embraced, let out a shrill screech, which was ignored by the RAFians.

Rachel had her arms wrapped around herself, letting herself feel that warm fuzzy feeling that came with a moment like this.  A crisis averted, no killing required.  It was a beautiful thing.

With a sudden rush, the RAFians moved towards Monica and Queen, surrounding their embrace with an enormous group hug of their own.  For the first time in years, Queen smiled.  Not a cruel and twisted smile of vengeance, but a warm smile of friendship.

Cloak was the only one still standing back from the group, arms crossed.

When he finally realized what was going on, he literally facepalmed.  "You have GOT to be freaking kidding me," he said, his hand on his forehead, as he suddenly realized what day it was.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on April 02, 2014, 01:16:02 AM
WHAT?!

I knew there was something up when all the happiness started oozing.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on May 14, 2014, 02:51:52 AM
I was wondering what happened there. Haha.

I love your chapters. . .except for the inevitable cliff-hangers, that is. Lol
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 04, 2015, 07:22:41 PM
Wow.  I never thought I would allow this fic to languish for so long.  And I feel a bit terrible, for posting that dumb April Fool's joke, now.  I had absolutely no idea when posting it that it was going to end up being the last thing I posted for more than a year.  It is a terrible thing, when posting in your own fic, to see the "Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days" notice.  :'(

Assuming anybody even still wants to read this, you'll probably have to do a re-read (unless you have absurdly good memory) because there's going to be a lot of references to things that happened previously.  My stories tend to be all inter-connected-y like that.

But I think I'm finally over my writer's block (hopefully it stays that way *fingers crossed*), and so, without further ado, here is the REAL chapter fifty-two.

Chapter Fifty-two

Suddenly, several Hork-bajir backed away in different directions.  In the midst of the fearful circle they formed, stood an orc.  Richard, blinking his eyes blearily as he slowly came back to consciousness, crawled into a dark corner away from the commotion, his head swimming with barely-formed thoughts.  The movements around him were confusing and nightmarish.

"Not your concern?  These people are my friends!" Bloodbane cried out, hulking above even the Hork-bajir, as he brandished an axe that put their blades to shame.  He deepened his voice and exclaimed a booming battle cry, "For the Horde!"

Deep down in some quiet part of his mind, he knew, he was a gentle soul at heart, and hated the idea of killing.  But he would not, could not, think about that part of himself.  This was something he had to do.  He searched for a place in his mind that he could retreat, and not dwell upon what was happening around him.  Act and react.  Don't think.  Feel only the violent energy, the rhythm of battle.

It was worse after that first Hork-bajir fell to his axe, and he felt the surge of adrenaline that came with an increase in 'experience.'  Everything he killed, only made him more powerful.  Just like in a video game.

Except, of course, that this wasn't a game.

Becky briefly met Bloodbane's eyes, a look of concern upon her face.  She hated when he was like this.  He seemed little more than an animal, a creature of rage.  Later, there would be sadness, a look in his eyes, regret for his own lost humanity.  But now there was only instinct and motion and blood.

Cloak, meanwhile, took the opportunity to duck into a corner and begin to morph, while the Hork-bajir were distracted by the orc.  Nevertheless, one Hork-bajir spotted him, saw what he was doing, and swung at him while he was vulnerable in mid-morph.

But Cloak wasn't vulnerable.  He had some natural talent for morphing, it seemed.  He had focused on building his muscles and claws before anything else.  He met the Hork-bajir's swing with a deadly fast counterstrike, as fast as the tiger he was becoming.  His blow deflected the bladed arm, and ripped the alien's throat with the tiger's already-sharpened claws.

Cloak gave a cry of triumph, which abruptly trailed off as the Hork-bajir slumped to the ground, still spraying blue-green blood from the wound in his throat.  In the heat of the moment, Cloak hadn't really quite considered exactly what he was doing.  Hadn't meant to do it.

Oh, god.  He had . . . he had taken a life.  Before, he had once watched helplessly as Illim had killed Queen's controllers.  But it had never been him, never his own action, never his own hands, his own claws.

Was this what he did with his precious new gift of freedom?

He retreated deeper into the dusty shadows, letting the morph continue.  Not thinking, not feeling, only changing.

Rachel, meanwhile, was having no such thoughts.  She had seen battle before.  She knew what it was like to take a life with your own claws.  She bellowed a throaty grizzly roar, standing up to tower above the Hork-bajir, brushing her head against the dark wooden ceiling.  She slashed with her still-forming railroad-spike claws, as Hork-bajir pressed in around her.

The savage hiss of a panther soon joined the fracas.  Monica's innate aggression, her competitive nature, would not allow her to lose this fight.  She was almost like Rachel, in that way.  Even as the Hork-bajir surrounded her, they were still hesitant to press in too close.

Within moments, Cloak was fully tiger, where he could lose himself in the power of the creature's instincts.  Like Bloodbane, he couldn't do what needed to be done if his mind was right there in the heat of it, thinking of every reason why this was wrong.

But, at the same time . . . these were his friends he was fighting for.  He had to defend his friends.  No matter what.  Even if it was wrong to kill.  It was less wrong than to do nothing.

"You incompetent FOOLS!" Queen raged at the Hork-bajir around her, glaring furiously at her dull-witted minions.  "Kill the- wait, no!"  She cut herself off, seeming almost surprised by what she'd just said.  "Don't kill them.  Do not kill them!  Take them alive!  But don't let them escape!"  She looked down at the Hork-bajir that had been felled by Cloak's claws, lying on the ground, his pulse weakening.  Queen's lip curled into a disgusted sneer, as though it had been the Hork-bajir's own fault that he was now dying.  She kicked savagely at the bladed alien's body.

As more RAFians and Hork-bajir entered the fray, Terenia used the chaos to circle behind Queen.  She clutched her dracon beam, almost cradling it.  It was her only weapon, her only hope.

Saffa, meanwhile, wheeled away from a Hork-bajir, while it clutched its face in agony.  She noticed what Terenia was doing, and without hesitation she swooped down, flapping her wings right in Queen's face as she tried to gain purchase with her talons.  While Queen was batting wildly at the mad hawk, Terenia was in position, unseen.

"ENOUGH!" Queen roared, finally managing to knock Saffa out of the way.

TSEEEEEW!  The beam lanced directly at the back of Queen's head, point-blank.  Direct hit!

There was a smell of burning hair.  But, Terenia quickly realized, something was not right.  Where there should have been a smoldering hole in Queen's skull, there was only the reflected red glow of the laser itself.  The fact that she was a program, the multitude of images that was Queen, protected her.  And Terenia had lost her only chance.

Queen turned to face Terenia, white-hot fury in her eyes.

"You DARE," she hissed to Terenia, even as the RAFian tried to shrink back into the shadows.  "You dare to harm ME?"

Queen's anger quickly faded into exasperation, the kind of tired anger she would feel towards a particularly bothersome insect.  She sighed.  "You know, I didn't actually want to do this.  It takes the fun out of everything."  With that, she raised her arm, bringing a plastic syringe-like object to bear.  There was a noise, a 'tink' of metal, a tiny, almost amusingly harmless sound.  Seconds later, Terenia felt a sting, nothing more than a pinprick.  It was the last thing she felt, before slumping lifelessly to the floor as her muscles suddenly failed her.

"RAFians," Queen sneered.  "You really think that good will always win."  She drew back her lip in a hateful snarl.  "Fools."

Another tiny 'tink' noise.  Rachel, her reflexes sharp as ever, batted away the miniscule dart with her paw, but the needle stuck in the skin of her paw-pad.  She shivered slightly as she fell unconscious, and her hulking bear form began to recede, human skin replacing bear fur, as Queen's own Anti-Morphing Serum took effect.

That silly Ray had never quite been to her liking.

Tink.  Odret's human skin began to turn grey, glistening with Yeerk slime.  Tink.  Bloodbane could no longer hold up his axe.

One by one, the RAFians fell to Queen's darts.  Yet, across the room, something surfaced in Rad's mind.  A memory.  Long ago, when Odret was a Yeerk still in Queen's thrall.  Back before the Yeerk rebellion, when Rad was still only a minion, a foot soldier in Queen's army.

Retrieving the memory from long ago, Rad recalled Queen's pitiless words.  Queen had spoken to her, the human Rad, even though her body was not her own.  Queen had gone out of her way to make sure Rad knew that she was not a RAFian.  And she never would be, not in this broken timeline.  That she would never have friends like RAFians.  That she would never belong, as they did.  "You are no more a RAFian than I am," Queen had whispered in Rad's ear as she was forced to stand motionless before her.

And then, she remembered Tony's words, much more recent, back at the zoo.  "You're a RAFian.  I don't care what you say."

All of that flashed through her mind in an instant, as Rad suddenly charged at Queen.  She lowered her head, massive and still growing, bringing the formidable spread of her antlers to bear.

<I AM a RAFian!> she cried.

Tink.  The sound was the last thing she remembered.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 04, 2015, 07:30:12 PM
To make up for the long wait, I've got a few chapters written up (I'm gonna see how many I can post in one go).

Chapter Fifty-three

In the steel confines of Queen's hangar, the metallic Hork-bajir quickly closed in upon Estelore, Phoenix, Shock, Russell, Seal, Underseen, Demos, Illim, and Gaz.

Two of them grabbed Estelore by the arms, their suits allowing them to utterly ignore the searing heat emanating from the star's body.  Angry flames shot off of Estelore's skin like solar flares, at random, with no attempts to aim.

Seal flinched in pain as an errant flare from Estelore brushed against her fur, scorching her.  Seal's sudden hurt intake of breath somehow pierced through Estelore's anger, and the star's flames died down as they slumped helplessly, the metal alien wardens holding them tight.

Gaz flew at the Hork-bajir, surrounding them in mist form.  Turning solid only long enough to lash out at them with her sword, then fading back into aether.  A Hork-bajir approached, carrying a long, softly-glowing metallic tube, bundled over his shoulder with the coils slung under his arm.  The tube murmured, a gentle hissing noise, like water running.

Gaz looked confused as the Hork-bajir laid out the hose in front of her.  She took a tentative step forward, trying to cross it.  But it was like there was a wall there, an unyielding force field holding her at bay.  "NO!" she cried out as the Hork-bajir continued to lay down the tube, looping it around her.  She kicked at the line she could not cross, but she was helpless to escape.  Even in mist form, she only swirled against the barrier like the powder inside a snow globe, trapped inside the portable force field.

Shock roared back at the Hork-bajir surrounding him, slashing with his claws to keep them at bay.  But this, too, Queen had planned for.  It soon became obvious that the front lines of Hork-bajir, what had appeared the main threat, were nothing but a diversion.

First one Hork-bajir, then another, hidden at first behind their brethren, brought forth strange silvery canisters, surrounding the dragon with these odd machines.  Standing back from the dragon's view, the controllers planted these devices in the ground.  Seeming to come to life as they activated, the canisters revealed claw-like struts, digging themselves in, gripping the floor.

Then, with a noise like shaking cables, they all fired at once.  Hooks shot out like javelins, trailing ropes behind them.

Shock cried out in pain, as the hooks bit into his skin.  He thrashed, but every movement dug the hooks deeper and deeper, while the tightening ropes restrained and restricted him.  The Hork-bajir set another volley of canisters, firing more hooks, and soon Shock could no longer fight.  He couldn't move at all.  He cried out again, this time in frustration, but there was nothing he could do.

Russell, for a time, managed to dodge the same hooks that had ensnared Shock.  But more shot out around him, again and again, a maze of ropes, and before long the Andalite fumbled, his hooves tangled in the snares, and he fell.  He lashed out with his tail.  A tiny shard of bone went flying as the indestructible Adamantium cord stopped his blade.

The RAFians were beaten.

The Hork-bajir gathered the RAFians up in chains, knowing there was nothing left they could do.  The controllers laughed in cruel glee as they lead their prisoners away from the relative light of the hangar, and into the dank, gloomy corridors of Queen's castle.  It felt like they were descending, even though the floor seemed level.  But some force like a sinister gravity drew them onward, down into the depths of the earth.

As they walked past, the RAFians noticed an inscription on the wall.  It looked like it had been written long ago.

Don't give up.  Help is coming.

Your friends are here.

Their Hork-bajir captors made no effort to hide the words from them.  In fact, it almost seemed the opposite.  The Hork-bajir seemed to be moving out of the way of their view, almost intentionally displaying those words of hope.  But, mockingly.  They laughed as they gestured at the inscription.  Like they were laughing at a joke that only they knew.

The RAFians, bound in chains, were jostled and yanked ever onward.  Still there was that feeling of descent, yet still they felt no downward slope of the floor.

Finally, in the darkness barely lit by flickering lights, they came to a cell.  The door creaked as it opened, the sound echoing off of the stony walls.

There was a smell of mold, the damp rot of forgotten dark places.  Phoenix held up a hand, casting a flickering orange light across the dungeon, as their Hork-bajir captors closed the door behind them, locking them in.  The controllers' voices sounded hollow and eerie as their taunts receded away through the caverns, finally leaving the RAFians in cold silence.

Phoenix tried to reach between the bars of the cell, only to touch an invisible, solid surface.  A nasty jolt ran up his arm at the touch, and he yanked his hand back.  An electrified force field.  Of course.

He looked around, raising the hand that was casting his light.  Most of the room was a dungy greenish black, which turned into the color of dried blood under the orange light that Phoenix shone.  Chains glinted in the light, flickering an oily sheen.  There was the angry squeak of rats disturbed by the light after so long in the darkness.

But then, Phoenix's light played off of something that was at a stark contrast to the dark stone walls of the dungeon.  Something bright white, leaning against one of the walls.  Wait, no, several somethings.  As he played the light across the wall, he could see there were nine of them.  Nine frost-white tubes.

Curious, but wary, Phoenix crept closer.  The white was frost, he quickly realized, as he felt the intense cold coming from the tubes.

Was there something inside?  Impossible to tell.  Years of frost had caked over the glass, obscuring anything that might once have been contained within.

Slowly, carefully, Phoenix played his flames across the icy surface.  Just enough heat to start melting the frost, just enough to see.

"Are you insane?" Shock hissed, in human form in the small enclosed space.  "We don't know what's in there.  It could be dangerous."

"If Queen wanted us dead, she's already got us," Phoenix countered.

As Phoenix continued to melt the ice off the tube, the outline of a face soon appeared.  Hazy at first, still distorted by the frost.  Was it even human?  Phoenix's heart was beating fast, as he slowly scoured away the frozen buildup.  Pale skin, closed eyelids, dark hair.  It was a human, hibernating in the ice.

With a jolt that almost knocked him over, Phoenix realized it wasn't just any human.  He tried to speak, but his voice was gone.

Seal came forward, wondering what Phoenix could have seen that would have had such an effect on him.  She gasped.

"Rad."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 04, 2015, 07:35:48 PM
I will now have written as many chapters of this book as there are Animorphs books!

Chapter Fifty-four

Queen held up a clipboard, smiling as she looked down at it.  There were pictures of RAFians, held by the metal clip.  Some photographs, some drawings.  Some showing human faces.  Some were other species, creatures.  But with their human souls still visible in their eyes.

Most of the pictures had angry scrawls cut through them in thick lines of pen.  Crossed off of a list.  Richard, check.  Estelore, check.  Terenia, check.  Shock, check.  Rad, check.

But there were others, and when Queen turned her gaze to each unblemished portrait, her triumphant grin became an angry scowl.

Bear.  Aquilai.  Lumy.  Jess.  Tony.  Too many RAFians were still out there.

Queen slammed down the clipboard, making a nearby Taxxon jump in alarm, its multitude of legs skittering on the stone floor.  A mouse darted by, unnoticed in the gloom by Queen or the frightened Taxxon.

"Too many times I have underestimated Richard and his sycophantic brood," she muttered to herself.  "No, no, these loose ends, they won't do."

But before she could quite decide what to do about the RAFians that had managed to slip through her fingers, she heard fumbling human footsteps.  She looked up, to see Iniss, stumbling slightly from nervousness, yet grinning like a fool.  He pushed past the Taxxon as it was beating a hurried retreat from Queen's presence.

"Queen, there's something you need to see," Goom's voice said quietly, but triumphantly.  He beckoned her to follow, flinching slightly.  Queen grinned back, a predatory smile.  Good.  The underlings still remembered to be afraid.

<You can't do this,> the real Goom whimpered helplessly, unheard except by the Yeerk in his head.  <NO!>

It wasn't far to the security monitors, which was where Iniss had retreated to, during the earlier chaos when the RAFians had first arrived, once he had realized he was going to miss the big battle anyway.  He looked at Queen fearfully, wondering if she was going to punish him for that.  It wasn't his fault, of course, that he only had a weak human host, nearly useless against RAFians and their powers.  But Queen, hateful tyrant that she was, often didn't seem to care what was or wasn't the fault of one of her minions.

Fortunately, the capricious monarch was too busy looking straight ahead, intrigued by the monitors, scrutinizing them, already looking for whatever it was Iniss had wanted her to see.  Iniss quietly exhaled the slightest sigh of relief he could manage.

The screen in question was seen from above, the view moving along at a lazy pace but staying focused on the same spot as it went.  The footage was coming from the visual feed of a hunter-killer robot on patrol, high above the wasteland.  "I back-traced the flight path of that Bug fighter the RAFians took," Iniss explained, wringing his hands to ease his nerves.  "And I found something interesting."  He pointed at a piece of rusted wreckage on the screen.

"That's just a car, you blithering idiot," Queen scowled at Iniss.  But she kept her eyes on the burned-out wreckage that Iniss had pointed out on-screen, anyway.

"Wait for it," Iniss said, quietly but smugly.  "Just, wait."

After a few seconds, there was a subtle blur, so quick you wouldn't have noticed it unless you were looking for it.  But, in that fraction of an instant, the car was replaced by a pile of scorched cinderblocks, which then became the stunted remains of a fallen tree.  Then, just like that, the car was back again.

"Hologram," Iniss said, pointing triumphantly at the screen.

"No," Queen practically purred.  "Not a hologram.  Chameleon circuit."

"Cha- chameleon circuit?  You mean . . . ?"

Queen nodded.  "Something crashed into our teleport-deflection systems, right before the RAFians got here.  Something that could travel through space and time."  Her human eye was shining with excitement, like a hungry predator watching its helpless prey.  "And it looks like their TARDIS is wounded, now."  She licked her lips.  "Excellent."

Iniss looked at Queen nervously.  "So what should we-"

"We throw everything we have at them!" Queen interrupted, clenching her fists in triumph, her eye still glinting with predatory interest.

" . . . Everything?" Goom wondered, tentatively.  The corner of his mouth tugged itself into a hesitant half-smile.  "The . . . fleet?"

"Yes," Queen agreed.  "The fleet."

Her eyes darted towards another one of the security monitors, this one displaying the captive RAFians in their cell.  She counted their bio-scans, and then counted them again, making sure the RAFians were all still there.  She was paranoid that one would escape, and from there her entire scheme might unravel.

But, no, all that had been captured were still captive.  And, Queen noted with some amusement, the nine she had captured in the attack on the fortress were trying to set free the nine, of the original ten captured from the past, that she had frozen in stasis.  The last one, of course, was not to be found in this cell.

A little strange, though, that there was a group of nine and one of ten.  As if one RAFian might have been missing, escaped before they were even captured.  But she brushed off the thought, certain she was just imagining things.

No matter, she thought, as she watched Phoenix, Estelore, and Demos.  The three pyrokinetics were concentrating on controlling their fires, like little propane welding torches with just enough flame to get the job done.  Heating the cryo-tubes only just enough to free their friends from their frozen vaults.

Let them free their friends.  Let them all be awakened, so they could be aware of how truly hopeless their situation was.  Let them all be a nice, happy little family together, in their cold, dark cell.  Didn't matter.  After all, they weren't going anywhere.

"No, you will stay right where you are," she cooed, caressing the screen.  Saffa shivered, almost as if she had sensed Queen watching her through the camera.  But, then again, she was probably just shivering from the lingering cold.

"You will not go anywhere," Queen continued mischievously, but firmly.  "No, at least, not until I have collected the set."  She laughed.  "Then, my little RAFians, then we shall play."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 04, 2015, 07:52:25 PM
Chapter Fifty-five

Tony scurried through the corridors, still in mouse morph.  He was getting close to his two hour time limit, but he could sense he was getting close to his true goal, too.

There!  A panel, recessed slightly into the wall, but far newer, shinier, more high-tech-looking, than the stone walls surrounding it.  A small concave circle was indented into the wall at human eye level, far above Tony's head, contrasting the surrounding featureless steel.  That could only be an eye-scanner.  The kind you see in spy movies.

That extra security had to be protecting the Time Matrix.  This was where it should be, and what else would Queen need an eye-scanner for?  This was it.

Tony managed to find a small side-corridor to demorph.  He looked back and forth, twitching his whiskers as he sniffed for the scents of human or Taxxon or Hork-bajir.  Nothing, or at least no recent smells.  He was safe.

He didn't have much time left in morph, so it was with a slight sense of relief that he resumed his human form.  But his expression quickly turned from relief to triumph to fear, as he realized what he needed to do now.  How he would get past the Time Matrix's security.

He could do it, of course.  But the very idea of it was terrifying.

Tony closed his eyes, recalling back to when he and Queen had struggled for the Time Matrix once before.  He had held onto her as she had struggled to throw him off, the two of them jumping erratically through time and space.  There, touching her skin, he had focused, briefly, on absorbing her DNA.  It'd had no notable effect on her.  She must have been one of those rare examples of those who are immune to the acquiring trance.  Which was unfortunate at the time, since he had only been trying to break her concentration.

As Tony had acquired her, though, he had actually felt her DNA pass into his own blood.  It was like a feeling of pinpricks swarming across the cells in his body.  All of the stabbing, burning pain of a bad case of frostbite, only without the cold.  This DNA, it was wrong.  Profoundly wrong, and his body had known it.

Nearly shaking with fear as he drew upon the memory, Tony focused on that same DNA again now.

He began the morph, and the faint twinges of pain he could even now feel in his blood, immediately multiplied a thousand-fold.  His own body fought against him, torturing him.  His bones and organs made a terrible grinding noise as they changed, like a worn-out and overheating motor.  He could actually feel that unnatural grinding, inside himself, things inside him catching and skipping, like a scratched CD that was still trying to play.

"Aaah!" he cried out in agony, doubling over.  His body was going fuzzy, not his vision, his body, as it diverged into the split-image of Queen's program.  It shouldn't even be possible.  How could this strange creature that was Queen have DNA at all?  But, somehow, she did.

The pain was unimaginable.  It was almost as though Queen somehow knew what he was doing, right now, at this moment, and sought to punish him for his transgression, reaching for him across time and space.  He could feel in his bones the utter wrongness of it, like a raging wildfire burning in his blood.  He could feel the pain, and it was like hatred, like anger, like an uncontrollable vitriol, in every ounce of his body.  It was somewhere between sensation and emotion, spreading through his blood and his brain at once.

All that hatred, it was like a fire burning inside him.  But, in some corner of his mind, so subtle that he initially wondered if he was imagining it, he thought he could feel a slight fraction of that howling rage slowly starting to direct itself inwards, wavering somewhere between that raging anger, and a sort of predatory curiosity.  As if wondering what force could be fighting it for control.

The new morph's bright green eyes suddenly looked up, inner hatred flaring.  They were the eyes of someone who wanted pain.  Who wanted suffering.  Not their own pain, no, never that.  But suffering and misery to be inflicted upon everything and everyone else.  Yes, yes, the pain that would be felt by every living creature that dared to draw near.  Only that would soothe this terrible fury.

Everyone who had ever wronged her should be made to feel how she felt, a thousand times over!  Those traitorous RAFians needed to suffer for their impudence, their foolish arrogance!  They would suffer, and they would be made to serve her, and then they would die.

<Wait, no, that's not right,> a tiny, insignificant mental voice said, sounding confused.  Queen ignored it.  Pathetic insect that it was.  Hardly even worth her consideration.

The new Queen approached the silvery panel protecting the Time Matrix.  She lined her left eye up to the scanner.  The eye scanner flashed several times in succession, but then it seemed to be waiting for something.  So she looked into it with her right eye, and the scanner flashed again, only once this time.

"An error has occurred," an androgynous robotic voice said.  "Artificial eye not detected."

But Queen didn't waver, waiting instead for the next prompt.  "Voice command override required to proceed," the computer said.

"It's me, you fool," she snapped impatiently, her words dripping with contempt.

"Command confirmed," the voice answered quietly, almost meekly.  Even the machinery knew to be afraid.  Good.

The door opened.

<Wait, what the heck's going on?> that same insignificant voice said.  The voice wavered in and out, barely audible over Queen's own thoughts.  <This shouldn't be possible.  It's just a morph!  Humans don't even have instincts this strong!  It's just a morph!>  A pause, then, < . . . Are you even human?>

Queen still didn't answer.  She passed through the first door.  There was another panel, this one with a near-horizontal black pad next to some number keys.  Queen put her fingers on the pad to be scanned, and it beeped to confirm that her fingerprints were correct.  Without hesitation, she typed a number into the second keypad, and the door opened.

<No, no, this doesn't make sense!> the insect in her head raged impotently.  <Morphs don't have memories!  How could you possibly have known the code?!>

Queen walked through a long hallway.  Every few feet, there was a ring of machinery, an interconnected series of circuits and scanners lining the walls.  Tony, barely holding on to his own thoughts in a deep corner of Queen's savage and overpowering mind, managed to recognize them as Gleet Biofilters.  He counted five.  He would have shuddered, had he been in control of his own body.

Finally, Queen entered a dark, featureless room, and the doors slammed shut with an ominous, echoing boom.  There seemed to be no other exit.  A dead-end.

"Fool of a RAFian," she said out loud, addressing Tony for the first time.  "Did you really think I would allow you to morph me?  Do you take me for a fool?"

<But, how->

"I've written my memories into my own DNA," Queen scoffed proudly.  "A little trick I learned from the Goa'uld.  With a little help from the Arn, of course.  Anyone who morphs me, becomes me.  Body and mind.  And no one, no one, can control me!  I am AlmightyQueen!  My mind is legion!"

Suddenly, she smiled, like a cat who knew it had cornered a rat.

"This room is on lockdown, by the way," she mentioned, almost casually, gesturing to the featureless black walls around her.  "There is no way in, or out.  No cracks, no crevices.  And it will stay locked for two hours and one minute.  No less.  There is no override, no little computer-y backdoor that your friends might hack, absolutely nothing on this earth or in this universe, that will make those doors open before that time is up.  If the airtight seal inside this room is compromised in any way, even just a crack, the chamber will flood with flesh-eating acidic gas, killing anything inside, instantly.  There is also a Gleet Biofilter here, programmed to accept my DNA and mine alone, and it can sense and kill anything, in any corner of this room, no matter how small it might be.  Two hours.  One minute.  Then, and only then, will those doors open."

<What?  But that means . . . > Tony whispered, trailing off as he put it all together.  He didn't want to believe it, but he could sense that Queen was telling the absolute, infallible truth.  There really was no override.  No way out.  It was a trap, from which there was no possible escape.  His heart fell into the pit of his stomach.  He was a rat in a cage.  <NO!> he cried out.  <NOOOO!>

"Yes, my little RAFian.  You will either be trapped, as me, forever, nothing more than a voice inside my head.  A tool to be used to further my greatness.  Or, you will die.  Your choice."

<That . . . is no choice at all,> Tony answered, with a sudden strength behind his words.  Queen felt her breathing deepen, but it wasn't her that was doing it.  Something within her mind began to concentrate with all the force of its will, overpowering even her own.  Slowly, then faster and faster, her multi-layered body began to fuse back into one, a picture coming into focus, her skin gradually lightening.

BrrrrEEEEET!  BrrrrEEEEET!

"WHAT?!" Queen screamed over the Biofilter's alarm.  She willed the morph back towards herself.  But she had already lost the fight, as Tony's mind grew stronger with each passing moment, and hers withered.  Within seconds, she was gone.

Tony was alone.

He tried to take a deep breath, but his lungs were shaking, as he waited for the end.  Those final few seconds seemed to stretch for a lifetime.  As if time itself was trying to save him.

"Unauthorized life-form detected," a computerized voice intoned.  "Shut your eyes tightly to protect against retinal damage from the Gleet Biofilter."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Dylan on July 04, 2015, 07:58:01 PM
So many stories here on Raf! Gotta find time to read all of them, but I'll probably read this one next.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 04, 2015, 08:16:30 PM
Always good to see a new reader!  Especially after all my old ones have probably given up hope on me, lol.

I'd recommend starting with Enter RAF (http://animorphsforum.com/index.php?topic=9219.0), at least if you want to read everything from the start.  You don't necessarily have to, but there might be a few things you won't get if you don't.

Chapter Fifty-six

Aquilai rubbed his arm, trying to soothe his knotted muscles while still being careful not to disturb the delicate machinery he was working on.  It was almost done.  His precious TARDIS was so close to being whole again.  Yet, he looked up and around, pulling himself out of his daze for a moment.  How long had it been since he'd looked up from his work?  He no longer knew.  Time seemed to be standing still.

But then, he noticed something moving.  Was it the reason he'd looked up?  Had the motion caught the corner of his eye, even as he was immersed in his work?

Or had he just, somehow, sensed that something was about to go horribly wrong?

It looked like dust, at first.  A grey-black dust that filled the air, like ash billowing forth from some unseen volcano.  But then, there was a humming sound, coming from everywhere at once.  No, not quite from everywhere.  It was coming from the dust cloud itself.

It was the sound of engines, Aquilai realized with a stomach-wrenching jolt.  Bug fighter engines.  But, far worse, layered underneath the drone of the fighters, just barely audible, was the bass, sinister purr of Blade ships.

Blade ships.  Plural.  And, if Aquilai was able to hear them at all, stealthy as an individual Blade ship was . . . they were very plural.  His blood ran cold.

"Move!" he yelled at the other RAFians, but not quite knowing where anyone should go.  Just knowing that they had to get out of there.

Shade looked up and paled.  He looked back down at his work, knowing they weren't finished.  "But, Aquilai, your TARDIS . . . we just need a few more minutes!"

"I know," Aquilai said, his voice breaking.  "But we don't have a few more minutes.  We'll have to leave it."  He gritted his teeth in sadness and anger.  "Come on, we have to LEAVE!"

The RAFians bolted from the TARDIS, running all-out across the barren, lifeless plain.  They didn't know where they were running.  There was no shelter.  Nowhere to hide.  They were just, running.  Tremors rippled through the barren ground as Dino charged forward amidst the stampeding RAFians, shaking the others to their bones.

Suddenly, Shade stopped, and raised his wand.  Cody nearly barreled into him from behind.  "What are you doing?!" Cody hissed.  Shade didn't answer.  He was muttering something, and seemed to be focused on something else.

It took Cody a moment to notice the silvery, almost iridescent material that was emanating from Shade's wand.  The strange substance, or force field, was spreading horizontally in waves, unfurling like sheets of silk.

Recognizing the spell, Cody held out his own hands, palms facing towards Shade's wand.  Ripples of force, like shock waves, coalesced with Shade's spell, amplifying it.

"Keep moving!" Cody grated at Shade, pushing him forward even as he chanted.  He raised his voice so that the others could hear him.  "EVERYONE!  We have to get to the fortress!  It's our only chance!"

Those who heard him, echoed the message to those who didn't, and the panicked herd began to shift direction.  They had a purpose now, rushing towards the ominous black cloud.

Shade ran at the head of the crowd, his wand held high, with Cody right behind, their spell billowing out in front of them like waves in the wake of a ship, covering the crowd of RAFians in its iridescent shelter.

The Bug fighters blotted out the reddish sun, as they flew over the running RAFians, now running in darkness.  Thinking they had the RAFians cornered, the fighters dove towards their prey in a swarm.  Some fired their Dracon beams, but the beams stopped at Shade's shield.

The first few to hit Shade's force field instantly disintegrated, withering into ash, which fluttered down onto the RAFians below.  The next several Bug fighters saw this, and tried to pull up.  A few of them made it.  Others screeched in metallic agony as they tried to change direction, but it was too late, too much momentum, and they plunged through the field anyway, dispersing into more of the same steel-grey powder.

One Bug fighter nicked the field, dissolving almost a quarter of the ship, before managing to turn towards the sky.  But it was too late for that one, too.  Three-quarters of a ship cannot fly.  The surviving upper part of the ship, trailing smoke and flames, plunged back down through the silvery surface, vanishing completely.

"That's RIGHT!" Shade crowed triumphantly to the remaining Bug fighters.  "Come at me!"

A Blade ship descended through the cloud of hesitating Bug fighters, dwarfing them like a whale among dolphins.  It hovered before the RAFians, just above the barrier, seeming to be nearly touching the deadly surface with the point of its dagger-like bridge.  The running RAFians slowed, then stopped.

The Blade ship stared them down across that divide, so close, the RAFians could see through its window, onto the bridge.

There stood . . . Tony?

The man looked just like Tony, but with bright platinum-silver hair instead of Tony's black.  And his face was twisted into a crazed expression that Tony would never wear.  Something between a predatory smile and an angry scowl.  Distorted so he was somehow expressing joy and anger at once.

Had he been captured?  Infested?  No, even a controller would express more restraint than . . . whatever that was.  A Yeerk would not allow such madness to be evident on its host's features.

But, if not, then what was Tony doing on one of Queen's Blade ships?  Who, or what, had he become?

"Tony?" Bear wondered worriedly, voicing all the RAFians' fears aloud.  "What's happened to you?"

The RAFians were so preoccupied with worry, that they almost didn't notice the Andalite who had stepped into view in the Blade ship's other window.

It was Russell.  Except . . . not.  Just like Tony, he was only almost Russell.  This version of the Andalite had blank, robin's-egg blue eyes.  He had no pupils, no irises, only a slightly lighter color in the middle of the eye where the iris should have been.  All four eyes were that same, soulless blue.

His fur color, too, was slightly off, although that took longer to notice.  There was an orange tint, layered over the tips of his otherwise blue fur.  The orange seemed to flicker as he moved, like he was lit by firelight.

The man who might or might not have been Tony grinned a mad grin.  He opened his mouth to say something.  But then, suddenly, he was gone.  No sound, no light.  He was simply there one instant, and in the next instant there was only empty air where he had stood.

Had he teleported?  Was that something that Tony could do?  Was that something that this new, strange version of Tony, could do?

But, of course, unbeknownst to any of them, the Reverse Tony had not teleported.  He did not reappear somewhere else.  The twisted thing that called himself Ynot (because well why not) had, in fact, been erased from this timeline.  The point by which he had been anchored to this reality had just been broken.  And so, his own existence, at least from the perspective of this warped version of events, had been severed.

He no longer existed.  As if he had never been.

The Reverse Russell turned a stalk eye towards where Ynot had been, his expression unreadable.  If he was concerned about the sudden and inexplicable loss of his friend, he didn't show it.  Instead, he smiled that Andalite smile, made all the more sinister by his featureless blue eyes, and began to turn the Blade ship away from the RAFians, breaking his brief contact with them.

As he turned away, he spoke a single word, in a thought-speak voice that somehow seemed louder than it should have been.  Almost as though he was standing right next to the RAFians, instead of in a Blade ship far above their heads.

<SOON.>
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Dylan on July 04, 2015, 08:32:44 PM
Sooooo many chapters to read, so little time :P.

Two: TRIGGER WARNING.  This story will contain torture scenes, both described and implied, of several different RAFians.  If the idea of reading about yourself in that situation bothers you, please do not read.
lol, That actually made me want to read the story more. ;)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 04, 2015, 11:27:41 PM
Oh, man! I had almost given up hope for new chapters on this, so this was like Christmas came early. Now I really need a re-read, too.

EDIT: While backtracking through the chapters for my copy-paste for the PDF, I noticed that Saffa was in Cloak's group, and wasn't mentioned there in the new chapters. Or am I confused? It's been a while.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 05, 2015, 02:14:15 AM
Two: TRIGGER WARNING.  This story will contain torture scenes, both described and implied, of several different RAFians.  If the idea of reading about yourself in that situation bothers you, please do not read.
lol, That actually made me want to read the story more. ;)

I like the way you think!  :D

Oh, man! I had almost given up hope for new chapters on this, so this was like Christmas came early. Now I really need a re-read, too.

EDIT: While backtracking through the chapters for my copy-paste for the PDF, I noticed that Saffa was in Cloak's group, and wasn't mentioned there in the new chapters. Or am I confused? It's been a while.

Yeah, that's correct, Saffa, you're in Cloak's group.  I just can't quite mention everybody in every chapter.  Too many RAFians, and I'm trying hard to balance all their screen-time.  But I think you are briefly mentioned in chapter . . . *checks* 54.  And you'll get a bit more screen-time soon, I promise.  ;)

Whether or not that's a good thing, considering how dark my stories sometimes get . . . well . . .
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 05, 2015, 02:37:51 AM
Yeah, well, if I ended up in a tube that's a bit crucial, because otherwise I could be anywhere at any time. :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 05, 2015, 03:23:14 AM
Nope, sorry, you got tubed.  :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 05, 2015, 03:47:23 AM
Yay. :P Did you make the edit? Or I could just add that to the PDF doc.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 05, 2015, 06:59:58 PM
 . . . Oh, sh*t.  :facepalm:  I just now went back to count mentions of characters, and it very suddenly hit me that Saffa was the ONLY character not mentioned in chapter 52.  I swear to you, I never meant to snub you like that.  So, yes, I will most definitely be editing that chapter.

My deepest apologies, to my most faithful reader.  :-[

I will also be editing chapter 54.  I apparently can't count how many cryo-tubes vs. how many characters there were.  Uh, I mean, there is a character who didn't get put in a cryo-tube and I totally planned it that way all along.  Mm-hmm.

Hopefully I'll be able to get around to these edits sometime tonight, but, just so you know, my life suddenly got super-busy and will probably remain that way until after the RAFcon.  So, enjoy the chapters, but there probably won't be much more coming just yet.  :P

EDIT: So, I did have time to make the edits.  Quoting them below with the added parts bolded, to hopefully make it easier on Saffa updating her PDFs.

As more RAFians and Hork-bajir entered the fray, Terenia used the chaos to circle behind Queen.  She clutched her dracon beam, almost cradling it.  It was her only weapon, her only hope.

Saffa, meanwhile, wheeled away from a Hork-bajir, while it clutched its face in agony.  She noticed what Terenia was doing, and without hesitation she swooped down, flapping her wings right in Queen's face as she tried to gain purchase with her talons.  While Queen was batting wildly at the mad hawk, Terenia was in position, unseen.

"ENOUGH!" Queen roared, finally managing to knock Saffa out of the way.


TSEEEEEW!  The beam lanced directly at the back of Queen's head, point-blank.  Direct hit!

Her eyes darted towards another one of the security monitors, this one displaying the captive RAFians in their cell.  She counted their bio-scans, and then counted them again, making sure the RAFians were all still there.  She was paranoid that one would escape, and from there her entire scheme might unravel.

But, no, all that had been captured were still captive.  And, Queen noted with some amusement, the nine she had captured in the attack on the fortress were trying to set free the nine, of the original ten captured from the past, that she had frozen in stasis.  The last one, of course, was not to be found in this cell.

A little strange, though, that there was a group of nine and one of ten.  As if one RAFian might have been missing, escaped before they were even captured.  But she brushed off the thought, certain she was just imagining things.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Dylan on July 05, 2015, 08:28:25 PM
Hey Dino, I have one question about both RAFictions.
Oh, and some notes for anybody reading this who might not be familiar with some of the RAFians involved.  Tony = Unknown User, Jess = Kit Cloudkicker, Parker = Darth Revan, Cody = Capt. Jack Harkness (or Broken), GazStalker = Giggle Tumor.
So are these characters based on these various users? Or are these characters actually these users? (For example Is Tony actually Unknown User or is he based on Unknown User?) Other than that, I like Enter Raf so far.   
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 06, 2015, 12:05:27 AM
They are the actual users, yes. ;) I like to think of the worlds of Enter/End of RAF and Memoirs of a RAFian as different universes, like comic books do. Saffa has a different backstory/origin story in both.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Dylan on July 06, 2015, 12:20:59 AM
Hmmmm, That's neat. They might as well be fictional characters, they haven't responded in like a million years.


Also, Saffa you're a character? That's pretty cool. ;)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 06, 2015, 12:54:02 AM
I've been on this place for nearly three years, ya know, it was bound to happen :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 08, 2015, 08:07:40 PM
Hey, Dpsb, if you stick around for the end of the story (which, knowing me, might be anywhen from next month to several years from now), maybe you might end up being a character, too.  ;)

Managed to write one last chapter before I'll be flying off to the RAFcon.  Wanted to leave the story on a more positive note.

Chapter Fifty-seven

The frozen RAFians slowly came around, freed from their plastic-and-ice prisons by Russell's tail blade and Phoenix, Demos, and Estelore's fire.

A renewed sense of gut-wrenching apprehension jerked them awake from their cold hibernation, as they woke to find themselves all trapped together in a cell, within Queen's dark and dismal fortress.

The two groups of RAFians chattered nervously to ease the tension, bringing each other up to speed on how each of their missions had failed, how they had been captured.  Not that any of that mattered, now that they were here.

It was strange, for the ones who had been in those tubes, to think that they had traveled through time, without time-traveling at all.  Past becoming future, without them there to witness it.  It felt like they had gotten lost, and simply found themselves in another time.

Being in stasis had not been like sleep.  Not exactly.  More like, non-existence.  Unconsciousness, sure, but certainly not the easy, relaxing kind that is supposed to happen naturally to human beings at night.  More like the kind that happens when you're knocked out by a heavy blow to the head.  And so, it was with a great deal of miserable groaning that the stasis-induced RAFians were rudely roused back to the world of the living.

It didn't help that, no matter how careful Demos and Phoenix and Estelore were trying to be, some amount of burned skin was inevitable from the process of thawing frozen bodies.  It was an obviously impossible task to melt a person, quickly enough not to kill them, what with half of their body being frozen while the other half started to pump blood, but still slowly enough not to cook their skin a bit.  No matter how careful they were being, and of course they were being as gentle and as careful with their friends' lives as they were possibly able, it simply could not be done.

Seal was running around frantically, using her powers to apply ice to the burns.  Jess, the only true healer, wasn't there.  She had stayed behind, in the TARDIS, during both the first and second missions.  The tyclairecorn was, after all, a healer more so than a fighter.  So it was now up to Seal to do the very best she could.

Saffa shivered.  She hadn't quite thawed evenly, her insides still feeling far colder than they should have felt.  She was one of the luckier ones, though, having been only minimally burned by Phoenix's flames.

Seal checked on her anyway, but Saffa quickly shooed her off towards the others.  She was already morphing back to hawk to repair what damage there was.  As the little pinniped scuttled off, Saffa could hear the delicate twinkling sound of glass rubbing against glass.  There was an odd little leather pouch strapped over Seal's shoulder, which Saffa was pretty sure hadn't been there before.

Some kind of medicine?  No, if that were true, then she'd be using it now.  Was it some sort of weaponry, that Seal had brought with her to the siege on the fortress?  Maybe.  Seal was, of course, far too busy to be asked about it, so Saffa decided to leave it be.

Once everyone was thawed and awake, a feeling of dismal hopelessness began to set in.  Yeah, they were awake, and those that could morph were healthy, although Bloodbane and Terenia were both forced to endure their burns for the time being.  And they were all alive and uninfested.  But, one question remained, niggling at the back of everyone's mind.

Well, what now?  What could they possibly do about their own predicament?  They'd already tested the strength of the force-field blocking the doors, and nothing the RAFians could do seemed to have any effect on it.  So, what was there to do, besides simply sit and wait for the inevitable?

"What happened to Tony?" someone suddenly wondered, but Phoenix just sadly shook his head.  Nobody had seen Tony, not since that first mission had stormed Queen's fortress.  Nobody knew what had happened to him.

Suddenly Gaz looked up.  She could hear something.  Faint, but it was there.  She shifted to bat form, turning her large and sensitive ears towards the far wall, scuttling forward awkwardly, using the claws on her wings to pull herself along.  A dull, repetitive, thudding noise, punctuated by what seemed to be a human voice.

"Bom-----da---axim----" was the extent of what she could make out.  It was a voice, but far away, and muffled by the walls of their prison.

The other RAFians were now looking at Gaz intently.  It was obvious that she was listening for something, but nobody else could quite hear it yet.

Then, after a few more moments, Seal heard it too.  The booming sound, like distant fireworks.  Then, the voice.  "Bomba---da---axima," the voice was saying.  Over and over.  Each time, it got a little clearer.  Whatever it was, it was getting closer.

"Bombarda, maxima!" Gaz could hear the full extent of the words now.  And the booming sounds were distant explosions, Gaz realized.  She could faintly hear the clatter of rubble after each blast.

"Bombarda!  Maxima!"

Boom.

The RAFians could all hear it now.  It was a powerful voice, shouting at the very maximum volume that a human voice could project.  Straining for every ounce of force behind the incantation he was shouting.  Still muffled behind the walls, but every explosion made the voice a little clearer.

"Bombarda!  Maxima!"

BOOM.

No, wait, it was two voices.  They were uttering the spell in such perfect unison that they only sounded like one voice.

"BOMBARDA!  MAXIMA!"

BOOM!

"BOMBARDA!  MAXIMA!"

With a deafening shock-wave, a cloud of rubble and dust flooded into the cell.  The RAFians coughed, and squinted against the dim light that was now piercing the dust, having become accustomed to the darkness.  Those who had been in stasis, had not even seen light for what seemed like years, to them.

"BOMBARDA MAXIMA!" came one last cry, and with another explosion, the hole was now big enough for the trapped RAFians to see their rescuers.

"Well, come on," Cody said, urgently beckoning the others out of the cell.  "We aren't quite out of the woods yet."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Dylan on July 08, 2015, 08:13:58 PM
Hey, Dpsb, if you stick around for the end of the story (which, knowing me, might be anywhen from next month to several years from now), maybe you might end up being a character, too.  ;)
Yayyyyy! I'm gonna totally stick around and read the end. :)
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 09, 2015, 12:24:39 AM
Great, I got to be Captain America. :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Quaf on July 10, 2015, 10:56:01 PM
My computer just exploded from an overload of time travel awesomeness :D
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2015, 08:52:14 PM
Chapter Fifty-eight

A dim ray of light pierced Monica's lonely, pitch-black cell.  A deep fissure, barely a crack in width, opened up by an explosion far above.  A tiny puff of dust wafted down, dancing in the newfound light.  The glimmer was barely visible, but it was nonetheless the first light Monica had seen in years.

Or, the first light she would have seen.  Had her mind been present to witness it.

She was having a flashback.  Reliving that fateful day, so many years ago.

The day she had last been free.

These flashbacks were the only way Monica could still remember what it felt like.  To be able to move her own arms and legs.  To see where she commanded her eyes to look.

These flashbacks, were the only way she could stay sane.

<So fragile, the human mind,> a voice in her head commented with curious interest, watching her own flashback along with her.  The voice did not mind the dark, the stillness, the monotony of this existence.  It was not so different from the Yeerk pool, after all.

But Monica didn't hear the voice, or even if she did she didn't care.  She was deep in her own memory.

After the battle with Queen's forces in Marie's old school, Monica had suddenly awakened with her head underwater.  Except, it wasn't water.  She gasped for breath as the sludgy liquid lapped over her face.  She was being held down, and something was moving, pushing its way into her ear.

"NO!" she'd cried, horrified, struggling against her captors.  But she couldn't escape.  The Hork-bajir held her arms in an iron grip, and for all her struggling, she could not budge so much as an inch.

Why was this even happening?  She had seen the stasis tubes, before Queen had shot her with the dart that had knocked her unconscious.  Why did she even need to be infested, if she was only going to be put into stasis anyway?

But, wait.  No, something about that scene, wasn't quite right.

That's when it had hit her.  There had been nine stasis tubes, in that little wooden shed on the college campus.  But there had been ten people who had gone on the mission.

There had been no stasis tube for Monica.

Why?

The truth, unbeknownst to Monica back then, was that Queen had been afraid.  Afraid of her.  Afraid of a possible link between them, and what such a link could do.  Their timelines interconnecting, one branching off of the other.  Interdependent.

Queen had been born from Monica.  That fact scared her, on some deep and instinctual level that even the multi-dimensional monarch could not quite fully understand.  But she sensed something, unsettling, about Monica.  And whatever unsettled Queen, must be locked away, protected, hidden.

 . . . forgotten.

The cryo tubes were far too risky to be used on Monica, Queen had realized.  There was a risk of death that would always come from holding a body lifeless.  Queen didn't mind taking that risk upon mere RAFians, of course.  But not her own progenitor.

And so, instead, Queen had had Monica infested, to keep her complacent, keep her powerless.  Then, she had locked her own 'creator' in a deep underground passageway, beneath what had still been nothing more than a school back then.  The place was an old forgotten maintenance tunnel.  Nobody remembered what it had even been used for.  Queen had sealed the long-abandoned room with concrete, leaving only the tiniest slit in the ceiling, for food to be dropped through.

Queen couldn't use the Time Matrix.  Not for this.  Not on her.  Another risk that could not be taken, lest Queen's greatest advantage be somehow wrested from her.

So Queen left her various servants, the Banned, the Reversed, the Yeerks, in charge of feeding the prisoner.  Being sure to stress, that death was not the worst thing that awaited any who forgot.  With that, Queen had simply jumped forward in time.  Leaving Monica to take the long way.  The slow way.  The drudgingly long, agonizingly slow, way.

<Have you not enjoyed my company?> the Yeerkish voice sniffed, reading Monica's thoughts even as she had them.  <I'm actually a little hurt, Monica.>

Monica immediately loosed a barrage of insults and hatred at her Yeerk captor.  Words and thoughts that couldn't be repeated or described in polite company.  The Yeerk sighed sadly.  It was all too used to this, at this point.

Nevertheless, hearing that voice had already sent Monica spiraling back into her flashback.  Back to the moment that same Yeerk had entered her mind.

No matter how much she had tried to deny her fate, deep down, from the moment she had felt that cold slime move against her ear, she had to have known all hope was lost.  As the Yeerk pushed its way deeper and deeper, Monica began to feel a creeping paralysis overtake her.  She lost control of her arms, then her legs.  Her desperate thrashing was quelled.

Last to go were her eyes, which grew dead and cold as the Yeerk effortlessly paralyzed their darting panicked movements.  It was over.

But, even then, and even though on some level she still knew this was only a memory, she always thought, maybe, if she had just struggled harder, pushed back with all her strength, maybe this day would have turned out differently.  Maybe she could still get away, before the Yeerk could fully take hold.

She couldn't really be this weak, could she?  No, she could still fight back!  She had to!

<Please, don't,> the Yeerk had said, pityingly.  <You can't win.>

The Yeerk, now fully in control of her body, opened Monica's memories.  There, in a corner of Monica's mind, a deep and buried memory, it saw . . . itself.  A character in a fictional book series?

Impossible, it had thought.  No, I could never have been that naive.  Humans were to Yeerks as pigs were to humans, after all.  Just meat.  A means of sustaining life, nothing more.  To think otherwise was foolish.

Yet, Monica had also been surprised, when the Yeerk told her its name.  But, thinking about it in retrospect, it now made sense to her.  The Yeerk in her head was not the same Yeerk as the one that had been in the books, after all.

That Yeerk, the one the Animorphs had met, had only become what she became because of the Animorphs.  They had reached her, somehow.  Touched her.  Changed her.

But, the Animorphs had never existed in this timeline.  They had never encountered this version of this particular Yeerk.

Aftran.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2015, 09:02:31 PM
Chapter Fifty-nine

The RAFians gratefully climbed out of their dank cell, following the lead of their rescuers.  It was obvious that it hadn't been easy to get through.  The wall had been several feet thick, and it seemed there might even have been other rooms in the way, judging by the length of the tunnel the others had come from.  Most of the tunnel was jagged, like a cave, but every now and then it smoothed out a bit, like the floor might have been flat underneath the rubble that now covered it.

There didn't seem to be any guards, though.  That was odd.  Where had everyone gone?

As Terenia clambered out of the cell with the others, stumbling along the rocky tunnel, she felt a brief, slight pang of pain.  Hunger pain.  But it wasn't coming from her human stomach.

 . . . No, no.  Oh, god, no.  Had it already been three days?  She must have lost track of time, as the RAFians had bounced back and forth from one time to another, throwing off her circadian rhythm.  Or, maybe, it was the years she had spent, frozen in stasis.  Had time still passed, only slowed down by the cold?

She shook her head.  The pain had passed.  She told herself she must've imagined it.  She was fine.

Terenia was mercifully distracted by a clatter of hooves.  Jess cantered from Bloodbane's direction, towards Terenia, reaching for her with her horn.

Oh, right, Terenia remembered, the two of them still had burned skin leftover from being thawed from their stasis by fire.  Jess touched her horn to Terenia's scars, healing her as they walked.  Feeling rejuvenated, Terenia wrote off the twinges of 'hunger' she had felt before.  It must've been the burns she'd been feeling, not hunger.  Yeah.  That was all.

"How did you know where we were?" Richard asked, blinking blearily as he stumbled forward.

"We guessed," Myitt admitted.  "We knew something had gone wrong.  You guys were gone way too long.  We figured you must have been captured.  From there, we had to just guess where Queen would have put her dungeon."  Myitt laughed darkly.  "All villains are at least predictable enough, in that way."

"In other words, we got lucky," Jess muttered.

"Wait.  How come the fortress wasn't protected against magic?" Seal wondered, as she clambered awkwardly over boulders of concrete.  "It was protected against teleportation, wasn't it?"

"Magic is different," Cody explained, a touch of pride in his voice.  "Nothing non-magical is magic-proof.  And Queen, for all her powers, is still a muggle."

Seal laughed a bit at the thought.  But her laughter caught in her throat when she saw what lay in front of her, through the still-distant exit of the stony passageway Shade and Cody had carved out of Queen's fortress.

Bug fighters.  Blade ships.  Legions of them.  A few on the ground, most in the air.  The ones on the ground were disgorging their contents, Hork-bajir, Taxxons, humans . . . and other things.  Monstrous things, too far away for Seal to see clearly what exactly they were.  She could tell only what they were not, and they were not human.

Shade was holding up his wand, some kind of iridescent stuff flowing forth, like a bubble around the RAFians that moved with them as they walked.  But it seemed like an awfully flimsy shield against such powerful forces as those that lay ahead.

After what seemed an eternity of stumbling over the concrete rubble left behind by Shade and Cody's explosions, the RAFians finally emerged into the hellish light of the outside world, and were greeted by a clearer view of Queen's forces.

The monstrous things Seal had seen were now lining up in front of the rest of Queen's army.  All of them were twitching with nervous and eager energy.  Like they had been waiting for this moment their entire lives.

There was a sickly greenish-scaled dinosaur, with a long and gnarled snout like a deformed crocodile, a sail on its back, limping along on all fours.  It had Dino's eyes, but they were filled with ferocious hunger.

There was a bear, its fur black and wiry.  It seemed to be muttering to itself, its mouth constantly moving, as it tilted its head rhythmically back and forth.  Yet, the odd creature was somehow disturbingly reminiscent of Bear.

An android walked among the others, its body dull and tarnished, with a strange radioactive green glow highlighting its features.  But the basic design was familiar.  It was the exact same make and model as Lumy.

A great-horned owl flew purposefully overhead.  It locked its laser-focused gaze upon Saffa, their sharp eyes meeting even across the vast distance between them.

A distorted and dark-furred tyclairecorn galloped along, the jagged edges of its broken horn glinting menacingly in the reddish sunlight.  The RAFians had never seen another tyclairecorn, other than Jess.

There was a wolf-like but humanoid creature, grinning proudly to show off its cruel fangs.  A twisted remnant of Gaz's smile.

A serpentine, oriental dragon flew above the scene, its scarlet-and-gold ribbon-like body somehow gliding through the air without the benefit of wings.  It roared.  But it was Shock's roar.

A seal bounded along, darting between the legs of the larger creatures.  It was perfectly identical to Seal herself, but with red eyes.  DemonSeal's eyes.  But, no, this wasn't DemonSeal, either, since Seal could still feel her demonic counterpart within her own mind.

Seal couldn't suppress a shiver, a strange feeling about this other seal.  Could it be?  The Reverse of herself that she had once written stories about, long ago?  Orca?

<What are you?> Noelle asked of a distant creature that looked vaguely like her, but a feral Andalite, with shaggy fur and slitted eyes.  The strange Andalite didn't reply, except to utter a savage thought-speak hiss.

A single human came forth from the ranks.  As he got close enough, the RAFians recognized him.  They looked at Cody, and then at the other Cody, and back at their own Cody again.

They were not the same, not quite.  They wore the same face, but this was not Cody.  This version of him resembled a zombie, with jagged chunks of his body looking like they had rotted away, exposing bits of arm bones, a few skeletal fingers, and perhaps a third of his rib cage.  But where pieces of his flesh were missing, the hollow places were coated with a metallic luster.  Like someone had poured liquid mercury into his wounds.  His bones were not white.  They were the color of steel.

He wasn't a zombie at all.  He was a cyborg.

"Who are you?" Cody asked fearfully.

"I was Broken," the doppelganger replied cryptically.  "Now I am Restored."

'Restored' lifted a small metal rod that looked like a wand.  From the tip of the wand, more metal poured out, shiny grey ooze cascading down like a fountain.  It flowed purposefully, like a living thing, pouring across the ground like a swarm of army ants.

When it reached Shade's shield, the two forces began to react with one another, the metal eating through the iridescent spell.  Like an acid, or a fire, it spread up and up, destroying the silvery fabric as it went.  Looking closely, you could see individual, dust-sized pieces of metal.  Swarming, seething, each insectoid automaton somehow ripping and tearing the incorporeal material as they moved across it.  Tiny robotic bugs.

Nanites.

"Like it?" Restored asked, grinning a savage grin.  "Technology, with just a touch of magic.  It's a powerful combination."

The RAFians looked on in fear as their last layer of defense dissolved before their eyes.  There was now nothing at all standing between them and the full might of Queen's forces.

Queen's army, with those twisted parodies of RAFians, charged forward, surging like a tidal wave.

Restored howled a savage battle cry, his voice distorted, more machine than human.

"It begins!"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2015, 09:14:06 PM
Chapter Sixty

Queen slammed her fists against the monitor, cracking the glass.  The image on the screen flickered, but remained.  The footage around the crack was offset slightly, flickering differently on one side of the crack than the other.

It was outrageous.  She had them!  She'd had them in the palm of her hand, those RAFians.  But she'd tried to grasp them too tightly, too quickly, and in that moment, in that one lapse of judgment, they had wriggled free.

Blinded by the sweet taste of victory, she had forgotten one simple but critical fact.  RAFians, wily creatures that they were, could exploit the smallest misstep, the tiniest chink in her armor.  That was all it took, one little oversight, and they would always have the upper hand again.  How many times, in various plots and storylines, had she learned this?  Too many to count.

But, no!  It was impossible!  She'd had them!  They were hers, all hers, and now they were being taken from her!  It wasn't fair!

Down the hallway, interrupting her thoughts, she heard the clopping of Andalite hooves, accompanied by the scratching of chupacabra claws against the concrete floor.  Perfect, she snarled to herself.  Those two were just who she needed to see.

She spun on her heels, before Chimi or Aloth could react.  She grabbed for the nearest of the two, which was unfortunate for the chupacabra.  With superhuman strength and claw-like nails, she clamped her hand around his scaly neck like a vise.

"The RAFians have escaped," she said to the struggling, writhing creature.  "This is not acceptable.  Do you hear me?  You, and every sorry creature who can hear these words, will do everything in your power to fix this error.  And perhaps you may live to see another sunrise!"

She gripped Chimi's throat tighter, as though inflicting more pain might force him to pay attention, even as he struggled to breathe.  "Everything in your power, pathetic though your powers might be!  Rally the troops, dispatch the Reverses!  The RAFians must be retaken.  Do you understand this?  Does your pitiful brain grasp the severity of this situation?  They.  Must.  Be.  Retaken."

Aloth was beginning to tense.  Not because he was worried for Chimi, but because he realized that even if Queen actually killed one of her own minions, she might not be satisfied.

But, just as Chimi's green face was beginning to darken to a bluer shade, Queen released him.  He fell to his knees, gasping for breath, then skittered away like an injured animal.

Queen glared at Aloth.  Contemplating all of his possible reasons for standing there like a buffoon rather than following her commands.  "Was I not clear?" she snarled.  "Or are you simply too useless to do anything at all?"  Quickly, Aloth made a curt but formal half-bowing motion, and practically ran from the room.

The last member of the Banned remained behind, leaning against the doorway as Chimi and Aloth blew past.  "Surely, this was not unexpected," Yorick said, almost casually.  "Did we forget who we were dealing with?"

Queen snarled again, but didn't lash out as she had before.  She knew that Yorick was smarter than the others.  Queen trusted his judgment in a way that was reserved only for him.

He was right, of course.  She had underestimated her opponents.  She'd had them, and thought the battle had already been won, so she'd done the very most expedient thing to bring about her assured victory.  She'd thrown the full blunt force of her army at them, certain that that would be enough.

Not considering that she might still need the element of surprise.  Forgetting that they were RAFians, creatures so dastardly clever that no rash action on her part could ever have gone unpunished.

But . . . the very idea of it, that this was her own fault . . . that thought stung deep inside her.  No, it couldn't be her fault.  If it was her fault, then that meant she was not infallible.  That she was . . . human.

It meant that she was weak.

She snarled again, pacing like a lion in a cage.  She wasn't weak.  She wasn't stupid.  It was preposterous.  Those RAFians, they were just cowardly little-

"My Queen, you should put more faith in the Reversed," Yorick said calmly, interrupting her thoughts.  "They will win this fight, you'll see.  This moment in time, these exact circumstances, this is what they were made for.  What we made them for.  They are stronger than the RAFians.  Smarter.  Crueler.  They are everything the RAFians are, and far more that they are not.  The RAFians cannot win."

He gestured at the monitor, showing the barren plateau outside her fortress.  "Just look at them now.  Tell me if you think I'm wrong."

Queen looked at the screen in the cracked monitor.  In the flickering image, she saw her armies, all the might of the Yeerk Empire and the twisted abominations that were the Reverse RAFians.

And, in that moment, it was true, the RAFians did look very small.  The lot of them, those last RAFians to survive the erasure of their beloved forum, could fit inside a single shard of glass within that broken screen.

They were surrounded, hopelessly outnumbered by Queen's own forces.  And as the battle ensued, the RAFians seemed to be swallowed up, enveloped, by them.  They were gripped in the maw of an unstoppable monster.

Already they were stumbling, weary from unending battle, lack of sleep, and hunger.  Queen's armies pressed in, unforgiving, unyielding.

A few RAFians were already running from their Reverse selves, even as Queen watched.  Terrified by the specter of fighting their own broken reflections.  The Reverses were RAFians, after all.  RAFians, but twisted and warped into monsters.

Of course, even those RAFians who had become desperate enough to make a run for it, were still surrounded by countless Hork-bajir and Taxxons.  Controllers beyond number.  It was the full might of Queen's Yeerk army, the unstoppable invading alien force that held the entire world in its thrall.

There was no escape for the RAFians.  Evil was everywhere, and good was on the run.

Despite herself, Queen flashed a sly grin at Yorick, glad for his cunning wisdom.  "I knew there was a reason I kept you around."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 21, 2015, 09:34:04 PM
One more chapter, for the time being.  Although I've pre-written a lot of material for the Reverse battle (been looking forward to this for a loooooooong time), so the chapters should theoretically come as quickly as I can stitch the disconnected scenes together, at this point.

Chapter Sixty-one

The two sides clashed with primal force.  The RAFians, tired, scared, but ready to defend themselves.  The Reversed, angry, hateful, full of a yearning and hungry kind of fury, unable to be restrained.

Scales and claws and teeth and skin and fur and feathers, colliding and gnashing and whirling and dodging.  It was mayhem.

A comet of firey red, and a comet of icy blue, blazed through the sky, swirling and weaving around one another.  Every time they collided, or even passed too close, there would be a sudden loud crackle, their opposing energies violently mixing.  Fire melting ice, ice freezing fire.  They looked and sounded like fireworks in the sky.

Seal and Orca's battle on the ground, seemed to be a reflection of Arctix and Phoenix's battle above.  Fire and ice flared against each other, waves of frost met with waves of wildfire, as each pinniped pushed their element towards the other, splashing it across the ground like water.  The heat and cold hissed at one another, fighting their own battle as their masters dueled.

A spear of ice glanced past Orca, its sharpened edge drawing blood from her fur.  Outraged, she threw a fireball straight down, flames dancing around her.  She disappeared in the flames, but the fire spread.  Somehow burning the withered plants that shouldn't have given it enough fuel to burn.

Seal summoned a stream of water, trying to put out the fire, but the blaze exploded into a cloud of sparks.  Each ember grew into another fire as it touched the ground.

"You can teleport through water," Orca said, her voice now coming from behind Seal.  Seal whipped around, but Orca was not there.  "And, well, I am your opposite," said the voice, speaking from another of the fires that had sprung up from the sparks.  Seal turned again, but only saw a flash of fur as Orca once again disappeared into the flames.

A demonic laugh seemed to come from everywhere, as the flames spiraled outward, with nothing Seal could do to stop them.  Seal recoiled from the heat, as the smell of her own singed fur filled her nose.  Not knowing what else to do, desperately hoping she could outrun the wildfire and with it her Reverse, she bounded away as fast as her flippered body could carry her.  The flames closed around where she had been, mere seconds after she had made it out.

The owl and the hawk swirled and darted around one another, always keeping their outstretched talons pointed towards the other, even as they both tried to fly behind the other and gain the advantage.  It was like watching an intricate airborne dance, set to high speed.  The owl was slightly bigger, but the hawk had the advantage of experience.

Saffa knew she could not afford to let her Reverse out of her sight, even for a moment.  The owl was silent, deadly silent.  If she couldn't see it, then it might as well not be there.  But it was fast.  Almost too fast to keep it in view.

Saffa made a grab for the owl, and the two birds locked talons.  They kept circling each other, but now it was a more powerful dance, two spinning pendulums, each lending force to the other as they rapidly built up speed.

The wild force of their flight spun them like a feathered pinwheel in the wind, around, and around and around-and-aroundandaround.  Sky and ground blurred together until it was hard to know which was which.

Dizzy, they let go, the force of their momentum propelling them away from each other like a slingshot.

Saffa would have smiled if she could, because the owl had ended up below her.  She dived.  She picked up speed, and hit the owl from above before it could gain its bearings, tearing a jagged bloody hole in its wing.

<Aaaah!> the owl screamed, in Saffa's own voice.  Saffa faltered, bewildered.  How could she bear to fight, she thought to herself, when the thing she was fighting was herself?

"Who are you?!" Bear yelled at his own Reverse, even as the two of them traded blows with their powerful, ursine claws.

"Name?" the black bear said wonderingly, still countering and lunging at Bear even as he mused.  Of course, neither of the bears was actually 'talking' in the usual sense.  Merely thinking loudly enough for the thought-translators on their necks to pick up their thoughts and translate them into words.  Like thought-speak, but processed into audible sound.

"Yes, yes, it wants a name," the black-furred bear went on.  "Oh, but there were many names.  Many, many many names, to pass away the nothing.  But, I think . . . yes.  Claw, it was.  Claw was the best name.  Hmm, mine?  Was it my, name?  Yes.  I think so.  I am Claw."  He suddenly fell silent, as if surprised by the thought.  As if he hadn't quite expected those exact words to come out of him.  "Claw," he mused, muttering the name quietly to himself.  He had already forgotten that he'd picked the very same name for himself, long before.

Bear was silent for a moment or two.  Bewildered by this strange creature that spoke in his own 'voice,' but whose mind was clearly broken.  He redoubled his focus on the fight, panting, as he threw his weight against the bizarre other bear.

"And, what, are you?" Bear asked hesitantly, between grunting breaths.

"They put me in a room," Claw moaned to himself.  "A room full of lightning.  Electrons everywhere, buzzing beneath my skin.  Each bolt was a flash of infinity.  I felt myself moving but not moving, teleporting to myself.  I was everywhere and nowhere.  Infinite, and nothing."

But then, he seemed to remember something, and grinned, tilting his head at Bear.  "The bear doesn't like lightning, does he?  Yes, he doesn't like it.  Because the lightning tastes like places.  So, so many places."  With that, he raised a paw, and a bolt of yellow-white electricity fired towards Bear.

Claw was too close, mere inches away, and the lightning was far too fast.  Bear had no hope to dodge.  Not that he could have, anyway.  He knew from experience, lightning was drawn to him like a magnet.

Suddenly, his RAFsona teleported by the bolt of lightning, he was gone.

Meanwhile, Ellruss, the Andalite with dead blue eyes and fire-lit fur, was clashing blades with Russell.  Strike and counter-strike, they danced an intricate dance of whirling scimitars.  Yet, Russell could sense that the other Andalite was toying with him.  Holding something back.  But, what?

Suddenly, Russell gripped his head in pain, wincing against a sound that only he could hear.  A private thought-speak scream.

<KEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-row!>

It was the howl of a Howler.

But instead of a physical sound, this was inside Russell's mind.  Inside his mind!  He put his hands over his ears, but the gesture was utterly futile.  His very thoughts were filled with that horrible cry.  It was a thought-speak sound of terror and pain, pure unadulterated anguish, dumped directly into his brain.  Images of harsh light and rushing blood and sharp edges, translated into that all-too-familiar howl by his own traitorous mind.

Russell only narrowly dodged Ellruss's poised tail blade, as he galloped at full Andalite running speed away from the source of that howl, blinking blood from his eyes as he ran.  A few other RAFians and their Reverses paused, curious, wondering what unseen and unheard thing could have made Russell run for his life like the hounds of hell were after him.

Estelore, and their Reverse, stood out from the battle, the only ones not actively fighting one another.  No, their human bodies simply stood, their faces turned upwards, facing the sky.  They each glowed faintly, just a blurry mist of a glow.  Estelore glowed white.  Loraest seemed to 'glow' black, a reversed glow, an emanation that drew light into itself.

Their real fight, of course, was occurring many thousands of light-years away.  Deep in the depths of space, where the earth's sun was only a faint pinpoint of light among the distant stars.

A star and a black hole wearily circled each other.  They drew close and then away again, an intricate dance across the emptiness of space, caught in each other's gravitational pull, orbiting around one another.  The black hole would approach, and a flare of fire would shoot from the star.  But the fire wasn't an attack.  It was more like a wound, as though the darkness of the black hole had drawn fire out of the star, like blood from a cut.

The star was nervous and afraid.  A feeling that was almost unfamiliar, after so long unused.  Estelore knew that they could not win this fight.

Why do you wish us harm? Estelore asked fearfully, in the language of the cosmos.  It was a voice that could only be heard by the stars and their kin.  A soundless sound that reverberated not through air but through the fabric of space-time itself.

We hate you, because you are, Loraest replied.

Because we are . . . what? Estelore wondered.

No.  Because you ARE.  You exist.  And your existence is all that we despise.

But . . . why?

Because we are NOT you! Loraest raged.  We are not you and yet we are.  We were, once, just as you are.  And yet we cannot be.  We can never again be as we once were.

We do not understand, Estelore said sadly.

We did not think you would, the black hole mocked, as it closed the distance between them.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 22, 2015, 12:46:12 AM
Quote
"I was Broken," the doppelganger replied cryptically.  "Now I am Restored."

This is so meta. :P

I assume the Aquilai-Dalek will show up later when he does.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 24, 2015, 10:48:30 PM
Heh, you mentioning Aquilai inspired me to answer your curiosity in the story.

Chapter Sixty-two

Aquilai ran across the battlefield, forcing himself to ignore the strange creatures attacking his friends.  Only one thing mattered, now.  The only thing that should have ever mattered.

But, it wasn't just his affection for his TARDIS that drove him.  In the back of his mind, he wondered if, maybe, the TARDIS could give him an edge in this fight.  As much as he hated to think of her that way, she was a weapon.  And he sorely needed a weapon, right now.

Time Lords, for all their cunning cleverness, were really no more powerful than humans, after all.  The TARDIS was all he had.

Aquilai nimbly ducked and dodged around whirling Hork-bajir blades, skirting away from hungry Taxxon mouths.  He had to move quickly, or the hordes of controllers would easily surround him. 

There it was!  Unguarded, even, which was a bit strange.  But, no, on second thought, it really wasn't strange at all.  The entirety of Queen's forces were occupied with recapturing the renegade RAFians.  Their escape, had been the diversion that had saved the TARDIS.

Besides, Queen already had a time machine.  What did she need another one for?

Counting his blessings, Aquilai whipped out his sonic screwdriver, hastily finishing the repairs that would make his TARDIS time-worthy again.  He'd almost been finished when he'd been forced to make a run for it, but even so, he had to hurry now.

He was just knitting together the final wires, when he heard a sound, right next to him.  A familiar whooshing sound, like a metallic wind.  But this sound, it was higher, more grating, more electronic, than the sound his own TARDIS made.

Appearing next to his own, was another TARDIS.  But this one . . . the familiar police box was distorted into an octagon.  And the light on the roof, was mounted on a jutting metal rod that pointed forward from the center.  Like a Dalek eye-stalk.

Aquilai swallowed his fear, and frantically finished his work.  His TARDIS would be fragile after such hasty repairs, but it would fly.  He leaped inside, and immediately took off.  When or where he landed, he didn't care.

No sooner had it appeared, though, than the other TARDIS flickered out of reality once more.  Somehow following after the first TARDIS, even as Aquilai vanished into space and time.  A hungry predator, that had finally found its prey.

Demos panted as he fought the angelic creature that looked so strangely like himself.  It wasn't an actual angel, he knew that much.  Not without wings.  And not with those horns, elegantly curved though they were, so unlike his own gnarled adornments.  Yet, it had most of the same powers of a true angel.  The holy fire, the paladin's touch, the incantations that burned Demos's ears like a Howler's howl.

But, even though its powers affected him the way an angel's powers would, his own demonic powers seemed useless against it.  His hellfire, which normally sent angels running for their lives, only seemed to scald this creature.  The false angel was in pain, so Demos's attacks were not completely ineffective, but at the same time, it was so much stronger than an ordinary angel could ever have been against the son of Satan.

Demos stumbled, as yet another barrage of holy fire burned his skin, making him cry out in pain at the white hot light.  He wasn't going to win this fight.  Not like this.

But, he suddenly realized, there were forces he could call upon for help.  Beings he had long forgotten.  Other minds lying dormant inside his own.

Don't give up hope, a gentle, reverberating voice in his thoughts said.  You have more power than you know.

Turn me loose, you weakling excuse for a demon! a far more hostile creature howled.  I'll kill that angelic filth!

There was a flash of grey light.  Suddenly, standing where Demos had stood, were two distinct figures.  A hulking, hunchbacked demon carrying a battle-ax.  And a regal, feminine, winged being, carrying a sword and a kite shield.

"Phobos," the false angel that called itself Lumos said knowingly, looking at the demon.  He remembered these two characters, for they had once been part of himself, before he had been Reversed.  "And Mars," he said, with an acknowledging nod to the true angel.

Demos could still feel his own mind, overlaying those of Phobos and Mars.  His consciousness was split, like that of Rad and Ma'at, or Seal and DemonSeal.  It was still his own mind, but his mind felt different now.  When he acted as Phobos, he felt ruthless and angry, willing to take any life that he could.  But when he acted as Mars, he felt kind and gentle, yet motivated to defend and protect his friends.

Even so, those two, the good and the evil halves of him, were connected.  They were the same.  Through him, through Demos, they could act as one.

Mars flapped her wings, landing and balancing delicately on the flat side of Phobos's battle-ax.  In one fluid movement, Phobos swung, and Mars used the extra momentum to swing her sword at Lumos with deadly speed.  Two blades, hitting as one, bit into Lumos, and bright red blood sprayed from his celestial white skin.

Lumos gritted his teeth.  But he was smiling, despite the pain.

There was another flash of grey, and two figures now stood where Lumos had once been.  An angel with cold blue-tinted skin, her feathered wings glinting like ice.  The corresponding demon was smaller, almost imp-like, with scorched-black pockmarked skin.

"Polaris," the new angel introduced herself.  "And Noctis," the demon croaked.  They wore identical grins as they stared down Phobos and Mars.  "Anything you can do-" Polaris sang, "-I can do better!" Noctis merrily finished the song.

The battle resumed.  Each pair fighting as a single unit, striking and countering now at twice the speed, with twice the fury.

Somehow, Demos thought bitterly to himself from within the minds of Phobos and Mars.  I don't think this really helped much at all.

Gaz stared warily at her Reverse through the growing smoke.  A fire had been started nearby.  Right where Seal and Orca had been fighting, Gaz noted worriedly.

But Gaz decided to use the smoke to her advantage.  She went into her mist form, solidifying to strike at her opponent, then vanishing again.  Hidden, in fact almost completely invisible, in the swirling ashes.

But the wolflike creature that was her Reverse didn't look like it had even noticed the change.  It continued to strike with its claws and teeth, ripping and tearing into the mist that was Gaz.  It found purchase, slashing through the ether, and Gaz gasped in pain.

Impossible!

Nothing had ever been able to hurt her in mist form before.  And, yet, a few drops of blood dripped down from the vapor that was her body, like rain from a stormcloud.

Zag grinned.  The vapor that was Gaz swirled away, putting distance between herself and the wolf, before condensing into the form of a bat.  The bat flapped through the smoke, trying to regroup her thoughts before she tried another tactic.  But another bat, this one with grey fur and a distinctively canine muzzle, followed.

Underseen shifted into the form of a dragon, clawing at Overseer with teeth and claws.  But Underseen's Reverse had shifted into an identical dragon, at that exact same moment.  Matching Underseen precisely, in strength and size.  How did he do that, Underseen wondered briefly, but couldn't really ponder the question too long, as he was forced to defend himself from his draconic mirror-image.  The two dragons battled, but neither could gain headway against the other, they were so evenly matched.

Thinking quickly, Underseen landed and became a Lerdethak, that strange creature made of living vines, hoping to ensnare the dragon from the air.  But Overseer mirrored him again.  The two of them wrestled each other with their dozens of tentacles.  Once again, it was obvious that neither could make headway against the other.

Underseen turned into a Stegosaurus.  Overseer did, too.  That's when Underseen noticed that every time Overseer changed, he flinched.  As if the Reverse RAFian was not expecting the switch.  As if he wasn't in control of his own changes.

That's when Underseen grinned.  They might be perfectly evenly matched, one incapable of becoming stronger than the other.  But he could use this.

The willful shapeshifter then shifted into a small, adorable creature that looked like a marshmallow with stubby arms and legs.  It was a creature made up of nothing but fatty tissue, no bones, no real muscles to speak of.  It was called an Adipose, a creature from the Doctor Who universe.  And it was quite perfectly useless in combat.

Nevertheless, Overseer was forced to become a perfectly identical, tiny cuddly marshmallow-creature.  "Oh, you mother-"

Underseen headbutted Overseer in the stomach, forcing him to exhale a tiny squeak.  Their 'battle' resumed, but neither one was really able to harm the other anymore.  Which was quite alright with Underseen, who hadn't even been sure why they were fighting in the first place.

From far across the battlefield, Dino roared in pain.  The Reverse Dino was madly biting into her flank again and again.  A single bite would have been easy enough to ignore.  The Spinosaur's teeth were razor sharp, but so thin that they were not strong enough to penetrate Dino's armor.

But this brutal creature was far more determined than that.  Over and over and over the Spinosaur bit the Tyrannosaur, doggedly determined to gain purchase against that bony armor.  It was a frantic frenzy of attacks, the Spinosaur pushing and biting and clawing, never giving Dino an inch of space.  A thousand tiny cuts in her skin (for her armor was actually underneath a slight layer of living tissue) were taking their toll.

Several of the Spinosaur's knifelike teeth were now lodged between the bony plates that covered Dino's back, the remnant jagged edges where they had broken only making Spino's bites sharper.  Even a blow from Dino's club-like tail only gave her a few seconds of respite, before the other dinosaur leaped right back up and continued its crazed onslaught.

<Kill!> the Spinosaur said excitedly.  Dino shivered with revulsion, as she realized that that was her own voice she was hearing.  <Kill!  Kill!  Kill!>

That tiny distraction was all Spino needed.  Drool gleaming on her broken teeth, the Spinosaur lunged at Dino's neck.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 24, 2015, 11:08:42 PM
Chapter Sixty-three

Seal looked fearfully back over her shoulder as she stopped running.  Orca was nowhere in sight.  And the fires Seal had been running from, now did not seem so overwhelming as they had seemed before.  The fire was still growing, still spreading to new plants to burn.  But, slowly.  Tentatively.  As if it had lost its way.

And Seal suddenly remembered her secret weapon.  This brief respite from the battle, would be an excellent time to test it.

Seal held up a small glass flask of green liquid, turning it curiously in her flippers.  The viscous liquid clung to the sides of the glass, a consistency somewhere between syrup and snot.

She'd almost forgotten that she had brought these bottles along, all those long days ago, when they'd first left RAF.  But, having since remembered that she controlled the supply of what was perhaps the most potent substance any RAFian possessed, she now wore a pouch under one flipper, full of these miniature flasks.

Seal tensed her pose and brandished the bottle like a weapon.  She knew full well the danger this substance posed, and was careful to pick a target as far away as she thought she could throw.  Fortunately, while there were still a few of the metal-clad Hork-bajir on the battlefield, those impervious bio-hazard-suited things that Seal had dubbed 'Indestructi-bajir,' they were few and far between.  Queen didn't have the resources to make all of them that way, it seemed.  Which was excellent news for Seal, since she didn't think her makeshift weapon would work on them at all.

She spotted a Hork-bajir moving predatorily towards what appeared to be a pair of dueling marshmallows in the distance.  "I've always wondered what this stuff would actually do," she whispered thoughtfully to herself as she let the vial fly.

She watched the flask as it arced through the air towards the oblivious Hork-bajir.  It broke upon impact, and even though it had hit the ground, it still splashed the bright green goo all over him.  The goo clung to his skin, fizzling slightly, as wisps of purple-blue smoke drifted upward from where the ooze seemed to be absorbing into his body.

"Eww," Seal commented.

The Hork-bajir slumped to the ground like the weight of the world had just crashed down upon his shoulders.  He staggered away on all fours, suddenly desperate to escape from the fight.  He looked back at the marshmallow-creatures he'd been eyeing earlier, and shivered with revulsion.

Everything was clear, now.  Utterly and perfectly clear.  The Hork-bajir's memories were sharply defined, like someone had remade them in high definition.  Every detail cast in harsh relief.  Total and absolute clarity.

He was completely and thoroughly . . . lucid.  Like everything before had been mere hallucinations of reality, the raving thoughts of a madman.  His senses seemed magnified, every sensation multiplied a hundred-fold.

In this hyper-focused state, he could no longer endure the keen and chaotic thrill of battle.  It was enough, more than enough, simply to exist.  He did not need that strange adventure, that he had been part of, before.  Even the memory of that much excitement, those disorganized flashes of movement and adrenaline . . . it was too much to bear.

A nearby Taxxon had also been in the path of the vial's splatter, and as the substance touched its skin, it immediately vomited.  It looked around, bewildered, before simply curling its centipede body into a tight spiral, hugging itself with its many pairs of legs.

Everything that had made it what it was, was gone.  Food was meaningless.  It was still hungry, of course, its raging hunger had not abated in the slightest.  If anything, the hunger had intensified, now that the Taxxon's stomach was empty, its former contents lying steaming on the ground.

But it knew it no longer could do what needed to be done to feed itself.  How could it?  It was monstrous.  It could see that now.  It could now see the sheer monstrosity of everything about itself, in utter and perfect clarity.  So it just curled itself against its own slimy skin, and shook.

Seal, intrigued by the effects of the first vial, decided to throw another.  For science.  Another Hork-bajir, this one female and somewhat closer to Seal than the first one had been, presented a target.  Seal threw another bottle of the strange green liquid, which the Hork-bajir saw just in time to try to deflect with it her blades.  But the bottle shattered as she swung at it, splattering the ooze.

The Hork-bajir scowled, but her vile expression was not directed at the goo on her skin.  Rather, she wrinkled her beak as she turned her attention towards the battle around her.  As if she had only just now noticed that fighting was occurring nearby.

Awful, wretched creatures.  How could they not see that what they were doing was childish?  Her mind was clear, now.  Utterly and perfectly clear.  But instead of looking inward like that first Hork-bajir had done, she focused her newfound clarity outward, towards those who lacked her own enlightenment.  Angry that they could not understand.

"I don't have time for this crap," she said disgustedly.  She turned and stalked away, apparently suddenly having much more important things to do than to fight.

"Cool!" Seal exclaimed, looking around at the three combatants she'd already eliminated from the fight with only two vials.  "So that's what 'sanity' does.  It makes you hate anything exciting or interesting."

Meanwhile, now far beyond Seal's line of sight, the first Hork-bajir that Seal had hit was still lost in his own memories.  Memories that had suddenly become sharpened like daggers.

He wanted to believe he could not possibly have done all the things that he knew he had done.  It seemed impossible.  Yet, he had done all those strange and unbelievable things.  Why?  He knew the reasons for his actions, but those reasons seemed so insignificant now.

It was too much for his mind to comprehend.  It was far too much.  Too . . . strange.

It had to end.  This creature that he was, a creature of chaos and weirdness . . . he could not be that creature anymore.  He had to make sure he would never again become that fierce being that he had once been.

He picked up a piece of concrete.  He positioned his wrist, which was shaking.  Then he slammed the rock down on his wrist blade.

He cried out in pain.  Hork-bajir blades were not dead keratin, but living bone, with a core of blood vessels and nerve endings.  But he didn't care.  He would not, could not, allow himself these weapons.  He looked at the other Hork-bajir, the ones still fighting their thrilling battle against those strange creatures called RAFians.  No.  He would never be, that, again.

He smashed the rock down again, shattering the blade completely.  Blood splattered from the splinters.  One of the cracks in the exposed bone dug into the flesh of his arm.  Like a hangnail, but so, so much worse.  Every movement shifted the shards of bone, sending flashes of searing pain shooting up his arm.

Nevertheless, he lifted the stone again, positioning his other wrist beneath it.  The madness, he thought to himself, not even daring to speak his thoughts out loud.  It must end.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 24, 2015, 11:37:43 PM
One more, before I must leave this isolated oasis of internet (my internet's been flaky, lately).  :P

Chapter Sixty-four

Bear shook the lingering electricity from his fur, looking around to try to gather his bearings after the unwanted teleport.  However, looking around was pointless, as he found himself in complete and total darkness.  He blinked, trying futilely to see.  But it was like being blind.

No, wait.  The darkness was not quite total.  It took him several long minutes, but as his eyes adjusted, he could see the merest sliver of dim light.  A crack in the dark space above, faint reddish sunlight peeking through.  Ironically, he thought to himself, the light coming through the crack looked a bit like a lightning bolt.

He moved towards the light, his claws scraping against the concrete floor beneath him.

"Hello?" a skittish voice said, having heard the sound.  "Is someone there?"

"Aaah!" Bear yelled, startled by the voice that had so suddenly pierced the quiet darkness.

"Aaah!" the voice yelled back, just as startled as he was.

With a start, Bear realized that he recognized the voice.  " . . . Monica?" he said wonderingly.

" . . . Bear?" Monica wondered back.

"What are you doing here?" they both said, almost at once.

"Got struck by lightning, which makes me teleport," Bear said, as he continued to make his way towards the crack.  "You?"

"Queen," Monica said bitterly.  Her voice was little more than a croak.  Like it hadn't been used in years.  "She locked me down here."

Bear hung his head, as it suddenly struck him that nobody had even noticed that Monica had been missing.  He knew he shouldn't have felt bad.  After all, he hadn't been on that mission in the first place.  But, still.  It was a hard thing, knowing someone had been trapped all alone, with nobody out there to even worry about them, nobody who cared enough about them to notice they were gone.  Even Monica, after all the terrible things she had said and done, never deserved that.

Bear tried to shake off these thoughts, as he contemplated a way out of this prison cell.  He pawed at the concrete around the crack where the light was coming from, and to his surprise, discovered it was loose.  He might be able to shift it.

"Rrooaghrr!" he roared in his bear voice, as he bodily shoved his full weight against the stony barrier.  It moved, the harsh scraping of concrete against concrete piercing the silence of the dark tomb.

And once it started moving, the concrete quickly gained momentum.  It cascaded downward, an avalanche of stone.  Bear narrowly dodged out of the way, as the rubble came tumbling toward him.  Finally ending the work begun by Shade and Cody's explosions far above.

The two of them clambered onto the slope formed by the concrete landslide.  They climbed and climbed, Monica morphing to panther as she went, her clawed paws finding better traction on the rubble than her human feet.

They finally stepped out into the light, and Aftran couldn't quite suppress a gasp of shock.  She had seen Monica's memories of this strange sense called 'sight.'  But she had never truly experienced it for herself.  For no sooner had she first gained control of Monica's senses, all those years ago, than she had been cast down into the eternal darkness of that prison.

<This is wonderful!> Aftran exclaimed to Monica.  Monica, of course, replied with a disturbingly detailed description of what she would do to Aftran's eyes if Yeerks had possessed such things.

Bear, unaware of Aftran's existence, simply assumed that Monica was gasping at the sight that lay before them as they came into the light.

An Andalite that looked like Russell was clashing his tail against another Andalite, this one a split-image program that Bear immediately recognized as Aloth.  Of course, the Andalite that looked like Russell, was not Russell.  But neither was it Ellruss.  No, this Andalite's inexperience with his own body was too obvious.  He slashed his tail like it was a hack-saw, cleaving it through the air powerfully but erratically.

However, that show of inexperience was confusing Aloth, who was much too used to opponents who acted more predictably.  Michael Grant, who had chosen Russell as his battle morph, had managed to nick one of Aloth's ears, which was bleeding.

<RAFian scum!> Aloth raged.

<Not quite,> Michael shot back.  Then he sighed.  <But, at this point, that's close enough.>

Chimi tried to creep up on the inexperienced 'Andalite' from behind while he was distracted by Aloth.  But Richard, in lion morph, easily headed off the chupacabra.

Nearby, Kyris and Bloodbane fought back to back, alongside Becky and Shade.  They were surrounded by Hork-bajir, but they were keeping them at bay.

Becky had picked, of all things, a panda, for a battle morph.  But it was serving her surprisingly well.  She had sharp teeth and claws, and seemed to have a slight advantage because none of the controllers could take her seriously.

"She's a panda.  You're a panda.  What're you gonna do, sit on-" one Hork-bajir laughed, right before she plowed into him with her shoulder, knocking him sideways.

But it was Bloodbane and Kyris, who were truly a sight to behold.  Bloodbane roared as he plowed his axe through the ranks of controllers.  Finding the rhythm of battle.

Kyris, meanwhile, was using some kind of grappling hooks, to swipe at the Hork-bajir who were rightfully keeping their distance.  Her wrists were adorned with wood-and-bronze canisters, which hissed with steam every time the grappling hooks would shoot out, and made a clanking noise when they were retracted again.  But instead of the hooks that an ordinary grappling hook would have, the apparatus at the end of the yarn-thin chains had been hammered out into a set of barbed bronze knives, which still somehow folded neatly back into the device on her wrist.

Kyris whirled around in an intricate ballet, tripping some of the Hork-bajir in the chains while neatly dispatching others with the sharp-edged instruments at the end.  None could approach her.

"Dang, girl," Shade commented, briefly pausing his casting of spells, as the Hork-bajir now nearest to him had to clamber over their now-petrified colleagues to get to the dark wizard.  "I always thought your character was just a steampunk 'airship technician' sorta thing."

"Well," Kyris answered curtly.  "How did you think my character got around the airship's rigging?"

"Like a boss, apparently," Bloodbane commented approvingly under his breath.

Meanwhile, Terenia and Myitt fought back to back, against their counterparts.  Terenia's Reverse, she noted with some confusion, was the only one who did not look at all like herself.  No, this was just a plain-looking girl, a total stranger to Terenia.

Suddenly, Rerin's harsh mask dropped, and a look of fear filled her face.  "Help me," she whispered.

That was her host, Terenia realized.  The Reverse Terenia didn't have the advantage of a Mark, to keep her human form.  And Rerin's host was involuntary, controlled against her will, just an innocent girl dragged into this fight.

Still holding her dracon, Terenia hesitated, unwilling to kill someone who had never asked to be here.

Rerin, resuming control of her host, showed no such hesitation.  Terenia narrowly dove out of the way of the beam of red light that sliced across the battlefield.

"Pity," Rerin said.  "All that potential, and yet you are weak."

As they traded shots with their dracon beams, Terenia suddenly felt it.  The beginnings of what some Yeerks called 'the fugue.'

The pain reached every corner of her body.  It wasn't like feeling hungry, the way humans do, where you only feel it in the pit of your stomach and nowhere else.  This was every cell, every fiber of her being.  Everything was starving.

In some distant corner of her mind, she realized how little sense that made.  This was only a simulacrum of a human body.  A fake human body that wasn't even hers, anymore.  Why did it still hurt so much?

"Help me," a small voice said again.  But this time, Terenia wasn't at all sure who it was that had spoken.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 25, 2015, 03:31:08 AM
It's happening! The thing where Aquilai met the other Aquilai. :D

And I thought Mars was the god of war?
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 25, 2015, 09:26:58 AM
It's happening! The thing where Aquilai met the other Aquilai. :D

Won't be long, now.  ;)

And I thought Mars was the god of war?

According to "Introduction Randomness" (which I was re-reading to get some background on Orca, incidentally), Mars is also the name of an angel that comprises half of Demos.  Yeah, I'm not sure how or why, either.  But Demos wrote it himself, so it would have become part of his character.

. . . In other words, it's RAF don't question it.  :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Saffa on July 25, 2015, 09:42:44 AM
Alright then. :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: theyoungphoenix on August 06, 2015, 11:22:59 AM
I caught up again, awesome writing Dino!! I'll have to peek in every now and then to watch for updates. ^^
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 16, 2017, 11:03:19 PM
*blows dust off thread* *coughs* *tries to blow off some more dust* *coughs some more* *gives up and grabs a shovel*

So, I had thought it had only been a year, but no, it has been nearly TWO YEARS since I've written anything for this fic.  My profuse apologies to my faithful readers, if there's any of you still left with any interest in this whatsoever.  If not, though, I still want to finish this story anyway.  Even if I am the only person who will ever read it in its entirety, I just need to know that I'm actually capable of finishing something I've started.  As for the long hiatus, I think I was actually on a medication that had writer's block as a side-effect?  I'm finally off those meds, hopefully permanently.  Let's see if I can finish this story before I drop dead of the thing the meds were for!  Whoo!  :D

On the off-chance that there IS anybody still reading this, I also have a question for you.  The fact that I put this story on pause for so long, now puts me at a bit of a conundrum.  There are several RAFians who, at the initial time of writing, were new members.  But now they are not.  Whether or not these folks should be considered 'new' RAFians in the continuity of my story or not, pretty significantly changes the course of the story itself.  Dpsb, Quaf, Xeno, gh, and YeerkSalad would fall into this category, so if any of you are reading this, please weigh in.  If you decide to be treated as established members, you will get a somewhat minor role in an epic badass fight scene that will take place among pretty much all RAFians.  I will try to give each of you as much screen time as I can, but you are going to be sharing the limelight with a LOT of others.  If you do decide to remain 'newbies' for purposes of the story, however, you will get your own side-quest specifically featuring your group, and it's worth noting that this side-quest will be written out of the story entirely if you decide against it.  In short, do you wish to play a small role in a big mission, or big role in a small one?  The choice . . . is yours.  Well, you'll have at least a few more chapters to decide.  Hopefully you'll see this by then, if you're going to at all.  And if not, I dunno, I'll flip a coin or something.  :P

To any new readers, welcome!  You might want to start from the beginning, though, because I'm going to dive right in where I left off, and there's going to be a lot of stuff that won't be explained (heck, I'd even recommend reading the prequel (http://animorphsforum.com/index.php?topic=9219.0) first, just to make extra sure you don't get lost).  Also, it's worth noting, since a lot of you are probably readers of Memoirs of a RAFian (http://animorphsforum.com/index.php?topic=9012.0) (who isn't, at this point?), that this story occurs in a somewhat different universe than Memoirs does.  Think of it as a neighboring Realm, a couple doors down from the Prime Universe.  ;)

Chapter Sixty-five

Orca had quickly bored of fighting the other seal.  Why should they only have to fight their own counterparts, after all?  Sure, that's what the other Reverses were doing, but that was dull.  After thinking about it for a few moments, Orca decided to focus on spreading her fires instead, teleporting through each new flame as it kindled, out to the edges of the battlefield.  Teleport and ignite and teleport and ignite.  Slowly, but inexorably, drawing a ring of fire around the combatants.  Queen's forces and RAFians alike.  Orca would burn them all.

Seal looked around after her little experiment with the 'sanity' liquid, anxiously wondering where Orca had gone.  It suddenly occurred to her how odd it was, that her Reverse would just suddenly leave her alone like that . . .

There!  At the edge of Seal's vision, she spotted a burst of flame flare up, behind Noelle and her feral-looking Reverse, pinning them in with four Hork-bajir on their other side.  Noelle was trapped, now, between the bladed aliens and the fire.  Seal bounded as quickly as her flippers could carry her, trying to catch up to Orca in time to stop her from doing any more damage.  She only hoped she wasn't too late.

Meanwhile, the two dragons, Shock and Cloud, fought one another high in the sky above the melee, just beneath the ominous ceiling of blood-red stormclouds.  Shock's muscular green and black frame clashed against Cloud's sinuous red and gold.

Shock had to flap his wings again and again for lift, each powerful stroke lifting his light-boned body upwards, while Cloud had only to weave through the air, wingless, staying aloft as though by sheer will.  Cloud sensed the slight disadvantage Shock was at, and aimed his attacks at the other dragon's vulnerable wings.

Shock was able to keep Cloud at bay with his firey breath, which the Oriental dragon didn't seem to possess.  Instead, Cloud breathed a strange blue mist, which left Shock feeling oddly calm.  It tingled where it touched his skin, and made him want to sleep.  Like contact-poison laughing gas.

Shock tried to be careful, tried to avoid the strange mist, which the other dragon couldn't project long distances the way Shock could shoot his own flames.  But the mists persisted in the air, and that translucent blue was hard to see.  Every time Shock's wings passed through a wisp of the stuff, his muscles shuddered.  Each wingbeat became a burden.  Despite himself, Shock began to dip lower in the sky.

His eyelids fluttered, and for a brief moment he couldn't quite think straight.  Within the fractions of seconds that it took Shock to realize he had inhaled Cloud's 'zen breath' and recover his wits, it was already too late.

Darting like a striking snake, Cloud wrapped his eel-like body around Shock's wings, binding them tightly to his body.  The wingless dragon's strange levitation was not enough to hold them both, and they began to plummet towards the ground.

In a different part of the sky, Saffa and Fassa were willfully diving towards the ground, racing one another in a mad spiral downward.  Both birds of prey were trailing droplets of blood from their wings as they swooped.

They both needed to morph, to heal themselves, for they both were badly wounded, blood streaming from the gashes inflicted by one anothers' beaks and talons.  But they both knew that morphing would leave them vulnerable.  Hence, the race to the ground.  Whoever could finish the morph first, would have the upper hand against the other.

Saffa was slightly out-pacing the bigger, bulkier owl, her smaller hawk body allowing her to fall faster in a dive.  She would have smiled, if she could.  She would win!

But, no, wait, suddenly the ground was too close!  Way too close!  Saffa flared her wings, but too late, there wasn't time to slow down!

WHUMPH.  She landed and rolled, beak over tail across the dusty ground.  But, she couldn't wait, couldn't stop, if she paused for even a moment, she would lose.  And losing this race meant death.

Upside-down, her neck bent uncomfortably against a rock, she began to morph.  She willed the changes to happen faster, trying to right herself even as her bones began to shift, making her movements awkward.  The owl had landed more gracefully, and was coming towards her, walking on talons even as they began to shift into feet.  Fassa fell forward, her morphing legs giving out beneath her, crawling now on knees and wings toward Saffa.

<What the hell is your problem, you-> Saffa's thought-speak voice cut off as she became more human than hawk.  Deciding against saying what she was about to say, she instead picked up the rock that she had crash-landed into, gripping it with still-forming fingers and throwing it with all her might at the half-morphed creature, which now looked more and more like herself with each passing moment.  The rock hit Fassa in the sternum, knocking the wind out of her, and Saffa took the opportunity to run.  At least far enough to manage a remorph to hawk before her psychotic twin could catch up to her.  Berating herself, even as she ran, for never acquiring a proper battle morph.  But at least Fassa was no better off.

Another red-tailed hawk, identical to the one Saffa had been just a few moments ago, shrieked from the sky towards Fassa.  Rose knew she couldn't do much, but she could at least try to slow the imposter down so her sister could get away.

Nearby, two androids battled, impervious to the flames that were even now beginning to lick around their metallic bodies.  Back and forth they teleported around each other, whirling to block each others' punches and kicks with ninja-like skill.

But Lumy felt himself gradually slowing, weakening.  It was like he was rusting, but of course aluminum doesn't rust.  And there was a faint clicking noise coming from somewhere within his own gears.  The clicking grew in intensity every time the other android drew near.  When the two androids' metal bodies connected, the clicks grew so rapid they seemed almost continuous, like an electronic scream.

It was his own geiger counter, Lumy realized.  A thing he'd long-ago installed inside himself for really no other reason than because he could.

"You're radioactive," Lumy said, almost accusingly, as he ducked a spinning kick that set his geiger counter hissing with clicks.  A near miss.

"Welcome to the new age," Ury replied coldly.

Not satisfied with this answer, Lumy decided to press him.  "Why?" he asked.  "Why, any of this?"

"You don't know, do you?" Ury said condescendingly.  "We are the things you made.  You made us because you were afraid to die.  You didn't know that we lived, so we lived a life that was worse than death.  It was a hell of . . . nothing.  No sight, no sound, nothing.  We are nothing, but the echoes of despair you caused in the name of immortality."

Lumy made a gasping sound, but of course the sound was artificial; Lumy didn't have lungs.  He looked at Ury with pity and sadness somehow showing in his mechanical eyes.  Yet, he now felt that much more terror, knowing the truth behind why these creatures hated the RAFians as they did.

 . . . Perhaps the RAFians deserved it.

Aquilai landed his TARDIS, trying to summon more courage than he felt.  He didn't know where he was, or when.  But he knew that he could not keep flying.  The strange other TARDIS, the Dalek-TARDIS, as he was beginning to think of it, had been ramming his own TARDIS as he flew.  Over and over, the crashes drowning out the metallic-wind sound of time slipping by.

His poor TARDIS was already being held together with not much more than hope and a prayer.  It couldn't take any more abuse.

Aquilai stepped out, onto a grass-and-dirt field surrounded by tents.  Mostly dirt, the grass having been long-since trampled into nothing.  Walking here and there were, knights.  Actual knights, in actual armor.  Preparing for some historical battle, Aquilai had no idea which.

Aquilai didn't really have time to take in the sights, however.  As several knights stared at him, he made a grab for a sword and shield that were laying nearby.  "Sorry, I have to borrow these," he said apologetically, over the sound of the approaching Dalek-TARDIS.

The door of the Dalek-TARDIS opened, and for the first time, Aquilai laid eyes on his pursuer.  It was, himself.  Looking at the other Time Lord was like looking in a mirror.

The other Aquilai raised his left hand.  There was something strange about that hand, a little hollow metal rod sticking out of the palm, with wires arrayed around it like a whisk or an egg-beater.

Aquilai absorbed the sight in a fraction of a second, and immediately and instinctively raised his newly borrowed shield.  Right as he did, a burst of green light flashed from the other Aquilai's raised hand.

The light reflected off of Aquilai's shield, and hit an unfortunate passing squire.  The green light lit him up from the inside, illuminating his skeleton for all to see.  The squire evaporated into ash.

Aquilai recognized that light.  It was Dalek technology.

Aquilai didn't wait for Dalkorai to take another shot.  He was already back in his TARDIS, praying that the battered craft might hold together just a little longer.

Lumy fell to his knees, the strange radiation that Ury emitted taking its toll on him.  His own gears were now making the same clicking noises as his geiger counter was, as the slow corrosion ate away at his metal body.  He realized it didn't really make sense, of course.  Radiation didn't normally affect metal in this way.  But then, Lumy supposed, this was probably no ordinary radiation.

Lumy's bright aluminum skin darkened to a dull grey, and his movements slowed, his gears worn down by the bombardment of energy radiating from Ury's body.  The withered fragments of metal caught against each other inside him, until it became excruciating just to move.  Even those pained attempts to keep going, keep fighting, became slower, more halting.  Until Lumy was frozen completely in place.

"This is it," Ury sang, as he walked through Orca's fires, towards the other RAFians fighting their own battles.  Bringing his deadly radiation with him as he went.  "The apocalypse."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: gh, King of Birbs on July 16, 2017, 11:21:46 PM
I'd personally prefer to play a large part in a smaller mission, but that's up to you. I gotta get around to reading this at some point, but for now, Dark Souls 2 is almost done downloading :P
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: Quaf on July 17, 2017, 06:20:53 AM
Wow I remember reading Enter RAF and this aaaaages ago it was so good

and yeah what gh said pretty much

Edit:
My computer just exploded from an overload of time travel awesomeness :D

a bit over 2 years ago XD
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 17, 2017, 08:54:33 PM
I'd personally prefer to play a large part in a smaller mission, but that's up to you.

Well, yeah, I know it's up to me, I'm the writer.  :P  But I like to try to allow as much input in my stories as possible.  These are stories about RAFians, after all.  It wouldn't be as much fun if I was the only RAFian deciding things.

My computer just exploded from an overload of time travel awesomeness :D

Not to spoil too much but . . . hoo boy, you ain't seen nothing yet.  ;)

Chapter Sixty-six

Noelle warily eyed her doppleganger, a strange version of herself with coarse fur and slitted eyes, yet she couldn't help but be intrigued.  Watching Winter morph wasn't the grotesque process that morphing normally was, but neither was it the carefully controlled morphing of an estreen.  No, this was so fluid and organic that it looked almost natural.  It was like watching evolution, sped up.  Every moment, from start to finish, looked like a viable creature, a product of nature, not a mishmash of parts.

And she wasn't even morphing a true creature, Noelle realized, but a Frolis maneuvered hybrid of species.  Part bird, part blade.  A hawk-bajir.

Realizing she'd allowed herself to become distracted, as a burst of flame kindled to life so close to her left flank that she could feel the heat, she struck at the gracefully-shifting creature with her tail.  Hoping to catch her vulnerable in mid-morph.  But Winter was already in the air, dodging Noelle's attacks, slashing at Noelle with bladed wings.  To make matters worse, a group of Hork-bajir was pressing in on Noelle's other side, trapping her between flames and blades.  Noelle struck with her tail, over and over again, but she was pushed back by her attackers until she could smell her own singed fur.

Noelle stumbled, her right front leg suddenly gone.  She was dimly aware of the missing limb lying on the ground next to her in rapidly-growing a pool of purple-black Andalite blood.  Unable to balance on three legs with the battle pressing in around her, she fell.

Winter hissed in thought-speak, a sound of savage triumph, as she slashed across Noelle's neck with one of her oversized talons.  The Hork-bajir laughed, moving on to other battles, giving her up for dead.  Noelle believed she was dead, too, her consciousness fading fast.  She'd lost too much blood, too quickly, and her vision was already darkening.  But then, a bright but soft light seemed to touch her body, and a voice told her, "Hold on!"  And, with that, she found the strength to morph.  A kafit bird, she decided, from her all-too-limited arsenal of morphs.  She began to shift and change, her body repairing itself.

Jess galloped across the battlefield, as fast as her hooves could carry her.  She was the one healer the RAFians had.  But, there were too many injuries, too much blood.  She didn't know what to do.  So, she ran, from RAFian to RAFian, doing as much as she could.  When a RAFian fell, she would be there, giving them just enough strength to carry on.

From Hork-bajir gashes, to burns, to a strange sort of sickness that looked eerily like radiation poisoning, she absorbed it all into her horn, panting from the exhaustion of running nonstop from victim to victim.  But it wasn't enough.  It was never enough.

Unbeknownst to Jess, another tyclairecorn was following her every move, like a distorted shadow.  Tess's fractured horn allowing her to undo much of what Jess had done.  And, what was worse, as Tess absorbed that healing energy back away from Jess's patients, the edges of her angular horn refracted that bright white magic, scattering it.  The beams then hit those creatures that the RAFians had been fighting, rejuvenating them, making them stronger, even as the RAFians grew weak with injuries that re-opened after having just been healed.

It was like a game, Tess thought, laughing a high-pitched valley-girl giggle that Jess would never have uttered.  How long could she keep this up, before her hateful twin realized what was really happening?

Jess, meanwhile, rushed frantically towards Dino's enormous, fallen form.  But she was too far away.  Jess didn't know if she would make it in time.

Spino was chewing at Dino's neck, desperate to get to her jugular vein underneath her thick Ankylotyrannus skin.  Already, Dino's blood was pooling around her body, as she lay helpless and weak from the loss of so much blood.

<Please, stop this,> Dino was begging.  <I know you're still in there, somewhere.  I can see it in your eyes.>  In reality, of course, she knew no such thing, and she was only grasping at straws.  A hunch, based on how much she and the other RAFians looked like their Reverses.  <You're still human, deep down.  You're . . . me.  Do you remember?>  She searched her own mind for a memory, something she could use.  <Remember your very first RAFcon?  Remember meeting Bear, Shock, and Pokey for that first time?  You crashed your car from sheer exhaustion, after you'd driven eight hours straight without stopping once, just because you were so excited to meet RAFians.>

Despite herself, Spino had tilted her head, looking at Dino with curiosity.  Blood still dripped from her teeth, but she didn't move.  < . . . Kill?> she wondered softly.

<No.  You're stronger than that,> Dino said firmly.  She tried to get up, but fell heavily back down, splashing in her own blood.  <I know.  I have to fight those instincts, too.  Every day, the instincts inside my own nothlit mind tell me to hunt and hurt and kill.  But->

<Kill!> Spino suddenly interrupted, as though excitedly agreeing with what Dino had said.  Whatever tiny human part of her mind had managed to wrest control, it was gone, the moment Dino had uttered that one fateful word.

Spino plunged her teeth into Dino's neck.  Dino's blood sprayed, and she let loose a pitifully weak growl of pain.

Jess recklessly ran between the two dinosaurs, praying she'd gotten there in time, as she touched her horn to the ragged hole in Dino's neck, narrowly dodging Spino's teeth.  Fortunately, the Spinosaur was far too busy with her prey to notice the insignificant mammal.  "Hold on, Dino, just hold on," Jess muttered.  Her healing powers could barely keep up with the damage Spino was still inflicting.  But, slowly, painstakingly, Dino's skin was knitting itself back together.

Skin or no skin, though, she had lost so much blood.  Her amber eyes fluttered.  It was so hard to keep them open.  And, besides, what was the point?

Then, another figure appeared, behind Jess.  A darker tyclairecorn, fur tinged pink, with an angular, almost blade-like horn that looked like it was broken, angular shards jutting from the tip.  Tess skirted around the Spinosaur, angling herself out of Jess's view, and went to work, siphoning off white wisps of healing energy which peeled off of Dino's skin like ethereal scabs revealing wounds beneath, and refracting the magic towards Spino.  Spino's own deep bite-wounds and talon-gashes, which the Spinosaur had simply ignored in her desperation to hurt Dino, were covering over with skin.

Jess screamed in frustration, as she began to lose the battle against Dino's injuries, the scaly skin ripping back open now much faster than she could knit it back together.  Blood gushed out in torrents.  Dino's eyes slowly closed.

<It's okay,> Dino said gently to Jess.  <I had a good life.>

Suddenly, Dino was gone.  But not gone, like dead, instead she was actually gone.  She had simply vanished, blood, body, and all.  Her Mark was all that was left, a simple wristwatch that clattered to the ground as the lights on its buttons and face flickered out.

Jess was bewildered.  Spino was gone, too.  Both dinosaurs had simply blinked out, at that exact same moment.  "What the . . . " she commented, sheer confusion temporarily keeping her grief for Dino at bay.

But, now that the dinosaurs were gone, she could quite clearly see her own Reverse, sitting on her haunches and clapping her hooves together, like a little kid applauding at a magic trick.  "Oh, my, what fun this is!" Tess said, and the bubbly girlish lilt to what would have otherwise been Jess's own voice, made Jess want to scream with rage.

"That's it!" Jess said, lowering her horn.  She had never before used it as a weapon, but she was ready to see just what kind of damage it could do.  "Now you die."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 19, 2017, 08:54:25 PM
Chapter Sixty-seven

Aftran padded away from her former prison, still controlling Monica's morphed body, a panther.  Bear quickly left her behind as he rejoined the battle, eager to help his fellow RAFians.  Aftran, meanwhile, crept behind shadows of rocks, watching the battle, but hesitant to actually engage in the fight.  She still considered herself an ally of Queen, but she had no personal grudge against the RAFians.  And as she watched them losing ground against their enemies, she couldn't help but feel a slight tug of pity for them.

<Please,> Monica moaned in her mind.  <Let us end this.  We have to go after . . . her.>

Aftran considered for a moment, but then picked up another thought from Monica's mind that Monica had opted not to voice aloud.  <We could run,> Aftran said.  <We could be safe, far away from this place.  Forget her.  Forget the RAFians.  You know they mean nothing to you.>

Monica snarled.  <This isn't about the RAFians.  This is about freedom.  I would rather die, right now, on my own terms, than be her slave for one moment more.  I will not spend my life cowering in that specter's shadow!>

Aftran winced.  Even though Monica was talking about Queen, Aftran knew that it was only through her that Queen now had power over Monica.

She had once thought that the other Aftran, the one from those books that Monica remembered, was a naive fool.  But, she considered now, was it really so naive to value freedom over oppression?  Aftran had spent so long in darkness, in fear.  It had been so very long, since she'd had any opportunity to decide her own fate.

Aftran and Monica had that much in common, it seemed.  Both of them had long-since been slaves to Queen.

Aftran turned Monica's feline head towards Queen's fortress, eyeing it ponderingly.  Deciding, for herself, what to do . . . it was a strange and yet powerful feeling.

A burst of flame erupted from a nearby stunted tree, catching the attention of the panther's instincts.  But that could provide an advantage, Aftran realized.  Ignoring the part of the panther's mind that feared the fire, Aftran plunged into the billowing black smoke.  From one fire to the next, she slipped, unseen, through the battlefield.  A shadow.

Under cover of smoke provided by those demonic fires, Aftran and Monica prowled towards the woman who had ended the world.

"Hmm," Claw muttered to himself, looking around for Bear.  "Wasn't there another me, somewhere?  Hello, me, where are you?"  He looked at a bewildered Andalite, who was staring at him.  "Have you seen me?" the bear asked Russell.

<Uh . . . > the Andalite said.  <Wait, where is Bear?  What did you do to him?>

"I, the other one, am gone," Claw said sadly.  Then he held a paw up to his nose, and sniffed.  "Oh!" he said, sounding surprised.  "I'm me!  That's what it was.  I thought I was somebody else."

Suddenly, the Andalite seemed to wince in pain.  <No, no, not again!> he yelled, and took off at a gallop.  Another, similar-looking Andalite, this one with orange-tinted fur, arrived at a leisurely pace.  He glanced at Claw with one blank blue stalk eye, turning his other towards the nearby battle between Cody and his Reverse, before he ambled along after Russell once more.

Broken was casting spell after spell, but almost every spell was absorbed by the nanites that streamed from Restored's wand.  Broken, himself, didn't use a wand.  As a sorcerer, he had an innate magic that he could direct simply with his words and the motions of his hands.

"Petrificus totalus!" Cody uttered, a paralyzing spell.  Only part of the magic made it through the swarm, slowing Restored's movements, but only for a few moments.  "Aaah!" Broken yelled, as a stray nanite touched his skin, paralyzing him at the ankle.  He stumbled, limping urgently away from the rest of the swarm.

The nanites weren't just absorbing magic, Cody suddenly realized.  They were able to redirect it!

"Finite incantatum!" he yelled, hoping that a magic-nullifying spell might have some effect on the tiny robots' abilities.  But, as the swarm of nanites surged up his leg, he could suddenly feel his own magic ebbing away, even as his joints locked in place.  Petrified and powerless.

"That was the wrong spell to use in this situation, wasn't it?" he berated himself.  Broken was helpless, now.  Restored grinned, flashing his silvery teeth in a predatory smile.

Despite himself, out of the corner of his eye, Cody noticed the two dinosaurs, Dino and her Reverse, right at the moment when they both blinked out of existence.  What the . . .

Slowly, realization dawned on him.  The Marks were designed to deactivate upon the death of their wearer.  There was no point protecting the timeline of a corpse, after all.  But, without the protection of the Mark, instead of simply dying, the RAFian would be erased from existence, their parents already having died before that RAFian had been born.  The Mark was the only thing that currently tethered them to existence.  Without it, they would vanish.

But . . . their Reverse selves wouldn't exist, either, if the RAFians themselves didn't exist.  They had been created by RAFians, so . . .

They could be unmade.

Restored stalked away from Broken, unconcerned about the fallen sorcerer.  Broken was powerless, and killing him would be a kindness, one that Restored would not give him.  Instead, he would make Cody watch, as his friends died in his stead.  With a gesture of his metal wand, he summoned his nanites away from Broken, towards Russell, who was on the ground, shaking, with his hands over his ears, blood streaming down the sides of his face.  Ellruss stood above him, watching his suffering with a strangely childlike curiosity.  The nanites streamed in a silvery river towards the prone Andalite.

Broken weakly lifted his arm, bringing his Mark into his field of vision.  That soothing blue 'R' in front of him, wrapped comfortingly around his wrist.  There was nothing else left that he could do, and he could not allow Restored to attack his fellow RAFians.  And maybe, just maybe . . . if enough of the other RAFians could survive . . . if they could manage to wrest the Time Matrix back from Queen . . . they could still fix this.  They could fix everything.

In this timeline, he could die.  So that, in another, he might live.

With a wistful sigh, Broken reached for the strap of his Mark, and yanked.  There was a thin, sharp, pulling pressure.  Like an IV was being drawn out of him.

After that . . . nothing.  No sensation, no consciousness.  No existence.

Broken was gone.

But Restored, and his deadly horde of nanites, were gone, too.
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 20, 2017, 07:23:13 PM
I'm having waaay too much fun writing these battle scenes.  I'll get back to actual plot again soon, though, I promise.

Chapter Sixty-eight

Rad charged through a group of Hork-bajir, using her moose antlers as shovels to simply scoop them aside.  Cloak roared a tiger's roar, trying to sound more intimidating than he felt.  Rad seemed to revel in the battle, but Cloak was holding back.  He had thought he wanted this power, but now that he felt it, he could sense the danger it posed.  Too much power was a corrupting force.  He needed to be careful.

Claws retracted, he swung a paw at a Hork-bajir, hard enough to knock the alien down.  Whirling, he rounded on a Taxxon that was getting too close to the wolf that was Odret.  No matter what, he had to protect his friends.

For the most part, the four of them, Rad, Cloak, Odret, and Illim, were able to keep the Hork-bajir and Taxxons away from the RAFians.  The four were fighting on the outskirts of the battlefield, whereas the battles between RAFians and Reverses were going on in the center.  Bloodbane and his group were accomplishing some similar success on the other edge of the battleground.

But Noelle and Winter had been close to the periphery, and four Hork-bajir had slipped past Cloak while he was defending Odret.  Cloak roared in frustration, but by that point the Hork-bajir were too far away for him to reach in time.  Fortunately, he noticed Jess headed that way, so Cloak refocused his efforts on deflecting the group of Hork-bajir that were headed towards two marshmallow-like creatures that looked like they were having a pillow fight.  Underseen, still fighting his Reverse, was safe.

Somehow, in the midst of the fighting, something ineffable compelled Cloak to look up, craning his somber feline expression towards the sky.  He could not possibly have known, that behind those legions of Bug fighters and Blade ships which now seemed content to patiently observe the battles from above, and behind the blood-red clouds of Queen's future, in a night sky that none on Earth could see . . . a single star had just gone out.

Across the battlefield from where Cloak was, Estelore fell to one knee, weak.  Their human avatar was never meant to survive on its own, without the will of their star to keep the body alive.  But somehow they managed to cling to some last vestige of consciousness, even with their true body now swirling deep into the event horizon of a black hole.

Loraest laughed.  They raised a hand, and a wave of darkness pulsed forward.  Estelore clenched their teeth and tried not to scream, even as the 'skin' was pulled off their 'body.'

There was no blood.  Estelore's human avatar had never needed blood pumping through veins.  Instead, when Loraest tore at Estelore's 'flesh,' firey light poured forth, jets of white-hot plasma.  But even as Estelore was dying, they realized something that made them smile.  "The Marks . . . deactivate . . . when we die," they managed to gasp.

Loraest's expression showed a sudden flash of horrified realization, just before both they and Estelore vanished.

Seal slowed, watching Estelore's last moments in awed reverence, her face lit by Estelore's last burst of white light before they had vanished.  But Seal didn't have time to worry, or to wonder, or to grieve.  She had finally caught up to her Reverse.  Orca seemed barely interested in the fires she was starting.  As though burning this battlefield was just an assignment, something she merely had a duty to do.  Nevertheless, Seal thought, as she steeled her focus, Orca had to be stopped.

Seal cradled a bright green bottle in her flipper, already regretting what she was about to do.  She'd seen what this liquid had done to those Hork-bajir, that Taxxon.  But she had no choice.  It was either this, or murder.  Orca had to be stopped.  Seal hurled the bottle, arcing it through the air at her Reverse.

The bottle hit the other seal in the back of the neck, hard enough to shatter the thin glass against Orca's fur.  Orca scrunched her shoulders, instantly realizing what Seal had just done, the moment she felt the sticky liquid run down her fur.  She turned, slowly, towards the RAFian.

"I am sane," she said coldly, her voice betraying almost no emotion.  There was no change in her voice or demeanor, the liquid seeming to have had no effect.  She raised a flipper to her neck, scraping up a few drops of the green goo.  It hadn't absorbed into her body like it had with the Hork-bajir and the Taxxon.  "So very sane."  Wordlessly, she flicked her flipper towards Seal, a few green droplets arcing through the air towards the RAFian.

Seal rolled to the side, her breath catching in her chest.  The droplets missed, but only just.  Her frantic dodge, however, had brought her into the path of a familiar figure.

" . . . Po?" she whispered.  Surprised to see the strange little child she had somehow grown to care for, so very suddenly matured into a young man.

"Not Po," he spat, as if disgusted to even utter the name.  "Never again.  Call me by my real name.  Unless you're afraid.  I am Pootang, the monster."  He swept his fingers through the air, long reddish bolts of electricity trailing his fingertips like a ghostly afterimage.  "Unique.  A one-of-a-kind monster.  I am the only one of me.  My name is my kind.  I am the Pootang."

Suddenly, he crouched, slamming his hands to the ground, curving and moving his fingers like he was playing an invisible organ.  Red lightning bounced across the ground, jumping and arcing its way towards the RAFians.  Seal, thinking quickly, threw a shield of ice around her, not even realizing that the ice would act as a faraday cage, allowing the electricity to wrap around her by passing through her shield, leaving her unharmed.

One bolt suddenly took off into the sky, like a lightning strike.  With a resounding crack of thunder, it pierced Arctix and Phoenix's battle.  The RAFians, those who were still alive, turned their heads to the sound, a dozen battles pausing for just a moment.  Phoenix fell out of the sky, unconscious.

At least, the RAFians all hoped he was only unconscious.

But, as he hit the ground, all could see that the color had been drained from his body.  His skin was a deathly pallor.  His eyes were open, but unseeing.

He was dead.

The Pootang crowed with savage glee as he held up his own hands in wonder.  "So that's what the red lightning does!"  He barked a giddy laugh.  "It kills!"

Arctix streaked down from the sky like a blue comet, gracefully coming to a landing on the barren earth.  He knelt over Phoenix's lifeless body, grinning savagely.  That terrible cold arrogance burned in his eyes, as he whispered, "It was us, you know.  It was us, your shadows, who killed your families."  He leaned in close, whispering his secrets with a terrible intimacy.  "I watched your parents die."

And he laughed.  But his laughter was suddenly cut short by a burst of flame, so close it forced him to jump back in terror and pain.  Phoenix's body had caught fire, and even as he was burning, Phoenix jumped to his feet, grabbing Arctix by the throat, his hand crackling and sizzling where he touched his Reverse.

"I'm half-phoenix, ****."
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 20, 2017, 07:39:27 PM
Okay, Quaf, the second half of this chapter is for you.  ;)

Chapter Sixty-nine

Terenia's world slowly faded and blurred around her.  She could sense that it was nearly the end.  Her memories played out in her mind's eye.  A slideshow of her life.  She'd had a good run, she thought.

Through the haze of nothingness, she saw a figure.  Huh?  Did the Angel of Death wear a suit?  For that matter, did the Angel of Death carry a sword and shield?  The Angel swung his sword at a pair of nearby Hork-bajir that had been coming towards Terenia.

The 'Angel' held in his hand a tan packet of something.  Something that smelled of maple and ginger.

"Take it," Aquilai said, his voice breaking.  "I know your reasons, and I don't care.  Just take it.  I won't let you die.  I can't."

For some reason, the smell reminded her of the Yeerk Pool.  It smelled of Kandrona, and home.  She drew a sharp breath, as the tantalizing smell brought back the pain of hunger, pain that had nearly subsided as her consciousness faded away.  The hunger twisted and stabbed, radiating through her entire body.  She shivered, the vibration wracking her body in pain.

She wanted to say no.  She managed, between quivering breaths, to utter a foul curse at her savior.

But her hands seemed to act of their own accord, snatching the packet from him.  The packet rattled loudly in her shaking hands, as she desperately ripped it open.

No, no, no, she'd decided against this, hadn't she?  A long time ago, she'd said she would rather die, than this.

But hunger and pain were twisting her mind, distorting her thoughts.  She couldn't resist it, that sweet promise, an end to the pain.  She didn't care, anymore, what the future held for her.  There was only now, and the immediate need to end this suffering.

She poured the packet into her mouth, spilling half of it.  Powdery flakes covered her lips, and she licked, desperate to get as much as she could.  Oh, nothing had ever tasted this good.  It wasn't even a taste, really.  A buzzing feeling of warmth, like the entire world was made of air and joy, that's what it tasted like.

She closed her eyes, swallowing the dryness in her throat as she choked down as much of the lumpy powder as she could.  But she didn't care.  She could feel the world coming back into focus.  And yet, at the same time, a different kind of blurring was happening to her.  It was a brightness, an energy, that infused everything.  She could feel it as much as see it, but it distorted everything she saw, even the images in her own mind.

She couldn't tell what was real anymore, because everything was real.  Happiness and need were oddly fuzzy feelings, fuzzy like the world was vibrating.  She felt like she had to hold onto the ground, to keep from falling off.

Terenia giggled.  Aquilai looked sick.  The Time Lord turned, and, even though he already knew that what he was about to do was pointless, disappeared into his TARDIS, which shimmered away through time and space.  He knew where he was going, having seen himself there all those days before.  Had it really only been three days ago?

Rerin looked down at Terenia, drugged and giggling pathetically.  As much as Rerin had despised her RAFian counterpart, there was something, anticlimactic, about seeing her like this.  Rerin's lust for vengeance was gone, burned out.  Instead she felt pity for this poor creature that lay before her, in the throes of starvation that would soon turn to addiction and insanity.  "I know what you and your RAFian kin must think of us, by now.  But know this."  She raised her dracon beam.  The gun was aimed, point-blank, at Terenia's chest.

"We are not without mercy."  She fired.

Aquilai knew he couldn't stay in Egypt for long.  He did what he had needed to do, even though he had already watched himself fail, back when this had all began.  He'd still had to do it, though, because he'd already done it.  Such was the nature of time, or at least, time from the perspective of the TARDIS.  What had happened, would always have happened.

That thought played again in his head, as though his own mind was trying to tell him something, even as he sped away once again through time and space.  Something that felt important.  What had happened, would always have happened.

Despite himself, he scratched his head.  Something else was bothering him.  Well, something besides all of the painfully obvious thoughts that were weighing so heavily on his mind.  No, something else was not quite as it should be.  There had been something about Terenia's Kandrona . . .

But, what?  He had run his sonic screwdriver all over it, looking for any inconsistencies, any flaws that might be exploited, any tiny details that could be used to shield its own timeline.  He had analyzed it with all the thoroughness that his Time Lord mind afforded him.  Not one single wire or circuit had been out of place.  It was a Kandrona, exactly and precisely.

Yet, the alarm bells buzzing merrily in the back of his head were telling him, something about that Kandrona did not make sense.

Gah!  It was like looking for a plot hole in a book.  You could know that something was wrong, that things didn't add up to make the full picture you were trying to look at, but still have not the foggiest idea why.

Terenia's Kandrona . . . what had happened, would always have happened . . .

He slapped his hand to his face, as he suddenly realized what he'd missed.  "It still existed at all!" he shouted out loud.  Oh, how could he have been so stupid?  How could he have not seen it before?

It wasn't anything about the Kandrona that was wrong, it was the Kandrona itself that was wrong.  That Kandrona should never have still been there, for him to even attempt to fix!  Queen had gone back and altered the timeline to delete RAF from history, thus wiping out said Kandrona, before Aquilai would have been in Egypt.  The Kandrona should have had its entire timeline wiped clean, never existing, never having been created at all.  Right?

Nope.  Because the TARDIS's presence in that moment had anchored it to that version of events.

What had happened, would always have happened.

Which meant, at least in this one point in time, Aquilai had actually managed to go back to before RAF had been erased from time.  RAF was still there, alive and untouched, preserved in one moment.  That one precious moment, like a bastion of hope in a broken world.

He could use that moment, that intersection of fates, as a gateway back into his own previous timeline.  He could return to a world where Katherine Applegate had never died, and Animorphs had been written, and those books had pulled together a group of friends, a group of allies, more powerful than anything the world had ever seen!

He revved his TARDIS, reversing direction.  He could hear the Dalek-TARDIS skidding past outside, caught momentarily off-guard by the sudden maneuver that Aquilai's TARDIS had just pulled, a u-turn through time itself.

Aquilai knew he wouldn't have much time.  And he knew he would only get one chance.  He glanced around at the spacious interior of his TARDIS, quickly calculating just how many RAFians it would hold.  He smiled.  It could hold plenty.

"Hold on, guys," he said to those RAFians still fighting against Queen's corrupted future, even though they could not possibly hear him, so many miles and so many years away.  "The cavalry is coming!"
Title: Re: End of RAF
Post by: DinosaurNothlit on July 23, 2017, 07:05:02 PM
Sorry to do this so soon after just returning from a years-long hiatus, but it looks like I'm gonna have to put this story right back on hiatus again.  I just found out that the problems my laptop has been having to an increasing degree (trouble starting up, freezing, blue screens, etc.) might indicate a hard drive issue.  And, if the hard drive fails completely, I stand to lose everything I have saved on my computer.  Meaning that I don't want to use my computer any more than I absolutely have to, until I can get my hands on either a backup drive or a whole new laptop where I can keep my everything safely.  And since most of my work on this story (outlines and scenes that I've written out of order) is saved on that laptop, this means I can't do much, except maybe hash out a few odd scenes and ideas on my smartphone while I try to get things fixed.  Oh, irony gods, you are a cruel lot.  :P