Chapter 37 - An Abrupt Goodbye

Guile and Skell trudged along, bodies weak. The scent of a storm lingered around them. Flack took enormous steps that beckoned quick walking. How Skell managed to keep up with his short legs and wounds, Guile couldn’t understand. He felt like giving up on his four legs already. How long had they been walking? The sun hadn’t moved much, but the wear of being escorted by this rough group of Zinnals—Star and Hyanga walking unnecessarily close behind—exacerbated his anxiety and perception of time.


From the corner of his eye, Guile spotted something in the sky. Flack, too, noticed it as he halted his expedition by rubbing his scaled feet into the grass.


“Ah, we have another guest?” The Dirnazor turned toward the fleck in the sky and pointed a claw at the mysterious shape.


“You don’t think…?” Guile whispered to Skell.


“It’s Retta. Let’s just hope she didn’t bring—” Skelll slapped his skull. “…And there’s Chya being held by Retta’s talons.”


Flack roared with laughter. “See, Star? How easy is this? Another Charthu is being delivered to us!” He stomped his feet like a child receiving a treat.


Star took to the sky, hovering around Flack’s head. “What…? Your luck is unbelievable. They are literally coming to us. Why?”


Hyanga slithered up to the top of Flack’s head. “I don’t think they are friendly, my tail is gathering bad energy, but I’m not sure what they expect to do.” He glanced back at Guile and Skell, as if checking to see if they ran away. His tongue whipped in and out of his mouth.


All five of them stared up to the sky as Retta came closer. She flapped her wings in infrequent forceful pushes and plummeted toward the ground and landed. Retta and Chya stared at the Zinnals before them.


Guile groaned. Why did they have to come right to them? He wanted to shout to run away, but remained silent. Instead, Guile attempted to use body language to suggest for them to run. Though, that proved ineffective.


“Guile? Skell? What are you guys doing? We found the Krulon’s home. We should stake out there tonight.” Retta stepped forward, a drop of poison dribbled off her tongue. “Who are these guys?”


No one said a word, but Star and Hyanga approached the newcomers. A steady stream of gazes glanced from one Zinnal to the next, followed by a powerful gust of wind that broke the tension.



“We’re going with these guys,” Skell said to Retta. “You guys hurry and get out of here.” His arms twitched.


“Now, now.” Flack brought his head toward the ground. “Why don’t we invite them to tag along with us? It’s just as we were saying before, we’re always looking for more Charthus.”


Before Guile could give a warning to Chya, or even comprehend what was happening, a large blur slashed through the air, and in the next second, Chya’s head rolled onto the ground. Another moment passed, and her body collapsed, pouring blood.


“Stuff that one’s body in with the other,” Flack said. “Lorang’s gonna be happy with how big our haul of Charthu meat is this time. He won’t be able to complain even a little.”


“Yes, sir.” Star swooped toward Chya’s decapitated body and was met with Retta vomiting a large waterfall of sludge right at her face. Star rolled out of the way mid air, but some of the poison splashed on her wings. The feathers shriveled up and broke off of her skin, dropping to the ground. The tips of her wings dripped red. “You are going to wish you never did that.”


Star dove straight toward Retta, dodging the next onslaught of toxins.


“Don’t touch her!” Skell shouted.


Guile remained too shocked to do anything. He stood, mind blank.


Skell’s eyes flared bright yellow as if trying to overtake the sun.


“Oh?” Flack cackled. “I don’t mind this, continue.”


Skell glared at Flack, but continued toward Retta. Retta took to the sky and Star chased. Guile watched the ground as blood formed a puddle around Chya’s body, and from the outer edges, Hyanga lapped up the blood like a dehydrated Gurden.


With his short legs, Skell changed directions from the flying Zinnals, and targeted the Dirnazor. “Just because you are large doesn’t mean shit. In fact, large Zinnals are best for me to deal with. You won’t get away with murdering Chya.”


Hyanga slithered over from the puddle of blood, guarding Flack.


“Ah, right, you don’t have the confidence to fight me,” Skell taunted. “Going to use the Lazon to protect you, even though you are five times his size. What a pathetic excuse for a leader.”


Guile glanced over. Was Skell just playing along with them the whole time? Did he mean anything he said earlier? Perhaps some of the stuff he said was true, but what did he plan to do now?


Flack flashed his fangs and growled, but Hyanga remained in position. “You aren’t worth my energy, Skolorok. It’s a shame it already had to come to this. We were all getting along so well, too. Kill him, Hyanga.”


Guile’s gaze darted toward the ferocious words. The Lazon’s tail curled up and prepared for a full swing. Skell stretched his arms. If this was the same as last time, Skell didn’t stand a chance. Hyanga’s tail whipped toward Skell, but the Skolorok’s body had yet to move.


Guile ran as fireballs flung from his mouth. Three in quick succession. The first one blocked the Lazon’s tail from reaching Skell. Hyanga pulled back, but it was too late. The next two flames scorched his face, leaving his scaled skin a burnt orange.


Hyanga shut his eyes and attempted retreat. Flack seemed unimpressed with his lackey.


“Well then, guess it’s up to me to end my two newest members, after all.” Flack held out his claw as a small burst of electricity danced around his fingers.


Skell rushed forward, jumping atop the fleeing Lazon. Using Hyanga’s blue tail as a springboard, he launched himself up to Flack’s tail, managing to wrap his arms around the small corrupted crystal on the tip of his tail. During this time, Guile shot fireballs at Flack’s face, distracting him from Skell’s actions.


Guile had no clue what Skell planned to do, but the fire from Guile wouldn’t hold the Dirnazor back forever. Each fireball launched was meaningless against Flack’s helmet.


Guile continued his sporadic running and shooting, though his body lowered more toward the ground with each blast. He couldn’t keep this up much longer. Glancing over to see where Hyanga had run off too, he saw him with his head in the puddle of blood. As much as this enraged Guile, he was relieved to know the Lazon wasn’t coming back to attack.


“Retta!” Skell flung around on Flack’s tail as the Dirnazor attempted to fling him off. The two flying Zinnals were heading back toward the scene, Retta in the lead. She swooped down and grabbed hold of Skell by the horns, lifting him up and flying a small distance forward and up, then dropped him upon the fleshy shell on Flack’s back. He placed his front hooves onto the mushy surface and exclaimed, “It’s over!”


Skell’s hooves shook with a concentrated force in the same way they did in the battle against Guile. And after a few seconds, Skell ran out of stamina and slid off of Flack’s back. Retta swooped down and caught the unconscious Skolorok, but it was too late for Flack.


RIpples spread throughout Flack’s back. Fountains of blood shot out from newly created orifices. The snail-like shell deflated, but the ripples and tears expanded over Flack’s whole body. He cried out and stopped focusing on Guile. Instead, he tried zapping toward his back, but his arms were too small. He brought his focus back forward, sporadically shooting out small specks of lightning in all directions. Retta managed to evade all the strikes, though Guile was hit by a couple. Luckily, the strength of Flack at the time was minimal.


The Dirnazor’s body fell to the ground, and Retta landed beside Guile, placing Skell on the ground. Star panted as she stood across from the group, staring. Hyanga noticed what was going on and struggled to open his eyes while hobbling back to Star.


“We’ll be taking Chya’s body back,” Guile stated with a confidence he didn’t know he possessed. Something had shattered within him. He couldn’t be unsure of anything anymore. He needed to go forward with a defined purpose. If he let anxiety get the best of him, worse things would happen.


A final fireball grew in his mouth, but Star and Hyanga winded him down.


“Yeah, yeah, take it.” Star said. “I don’t really care anymore. Flack is dead. He’s the only reason we really followed along with The Parti Crashers.”


Everyone turned and watched Flack’s body hollow out in the field unnaturally.