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    Thread: what happened on summer vacation

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      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Default what happened on summer vacation

      ok, firstly this has Empires and Kingdoms in it..cant be helped since 90% of all governments ever were such, democracy's are rare, so we have to live with it.


      Dog Days of Summer...The Silent Death Comes


      Intro: If you had an enemy that knew you well...well enough to know your every weakness and every want and need...and if that enemy was vast in numbers and patient in their attacks. What would you do to survive as a people?

      Even the greatest civilizations with the best technology have problems, and sometimes need help.No matter the cost or the loss involved, there are limits to what we can do as one people on one world.What if, that world was different to the point of distraction...if the inhabitants were not really human at all but sentient animals instead... would they still use sense to think ahead and plan for their future?

      Evolution is a funny thing, on our world we seemed to be the only people to grow and advance from it...but what about other worlds? If evolution changed every animal on that world what would it be like to see a mermaid swim by waving and smiling, or see a hawk man swooping in to gather fruit from a tree.Would their leaders be chosen by vote, or by sheer strength alone? Would intelligence matter or be second to size and strength?

      And what would it take for an entire world like this to need help, seriously enough to leave it looking for that which they do not possess? And where would they find their help...and at what cost?


      Chapter 1: Summer Vacation


      Stan White was having a great time. He loved the outdoors and sat quietly contemplating the sounds of nature on quiet summer evenings out on the mountainside under the stars. He poked at his campfire and smiled and had a cup of coffee brewed from the purest water, straight from the creek right next to his camp.

      He was warned by his parents and friends back in the city, not to go out alone, bad things happen on the mountain or in the woods...but they didn’t know what they were talking about. He had seen deer, even a bear, and they seemed happy to see him and he smiled and left them alone, and they him. Once a fox walked right into his camp as he cooked fish caught from the stream and he gave it the parts he didn’t eat. He loved Nature in all its glory, and he loved getting away from the crowds to be alone for a few days at a time.

      Back home he was a student and athlete at his high school, running track and wrestling in competitions. His mom and dad were proud he was doing so well, and he had won a second place in State competitions last year. Now out here he could train and run for miles if he felt like it without anyone watching or complaining, and thats the way he liked it, since many people he knew were ‘city’ people who thought nothing of wasting everything they ever had, and everything they ever touched.


      He liked conserving things, and his idea of his future plans included college, and a degree in biology or maybe environmental studies. Since his people had hurt the ecology of their world so terribly, he thought perhaps he was the one to help fix it. It would be a life long ambition for sure, but he liked challenges, and so his future was laid out already and he thought nothing of it after he made his mind up, because now he felt it was a done deal.

      But at this moment a ship drifted into orbit and a massive soldier sat looking down on this new world. World C-175, a medium technology world just getting into high speed computing and nuclear energy. He’d have to be careful here, but if the Queen thought it was this bad, then he would do as he was told, and find someone to help them.

      He began his scans and after well over an hour he got a spike. One young man far from the city and very well endowed...spiritually...and the scans showed a prime example of Humanity...small and frail...but the scans do not lie, his energy readings were off the scale and thats what was needed, not the soldiers personal opinions of Humans, or their shortcomings.

      He set the transporter and dropped down to see, it was nighttime, and that would help but even as he snuck to within a few meters from the camp, the young man looked up from drinking from his cup and ask who was there, and the soldier smiled that he wasn’t as trusting, or as stupid as he first thought.

      “I know you’re out there, come in closer to the fire, its too cool a night to be stalking someone.” Stan said and looked to make sure his walking stick was close by, just in case.

      “I mean you no harm,” he heard a deep, gruff voice say, as he nodded and waited as a massive figure stepped out of the brush, and Stan’s eyes popped nearly out of his head.There standing before him just 3 meters away was...a silver back gorilla... and it was talking and wearing a uniform, and Stan nearly fainted... and thought for a second that he had fallen asleep and was dreaming. “I am Zorn, a Captain of the Atreus Empire.”

      “O...K...” Stan started looking around for proof he was awake and he wrapped his knuckles on the large rock he was sitting on and winced at the pain as the big soldier smiled at his attempt. “I guess I’m not dreaming then.” he said as blood dripped off his knuckles into the dirt, and the big ape walked over and ran a light across his hand and the blood, and broken skin was all gone.

      “Well then,” Stan said after thanking him, and as the ape sat down by his fire.”You certainly aren’t from around here...our gorillas cant talk and there is no Atreus Empire on my world, so...why are you here?” He asked, more to keep moving than anything else, as he kept looking for a place to run and the big ape smiled at him, now from just over a meter away.

      “I was sent to find people with a certain ability,” Zorn started as Stan nodded and waited,” My scan shows you are rich in power, we call it Spirit Energy, but I cant explain it to you, since there’s no such thing being used or studied on your world.”

      “OK...” Stan said again and tried sliding further away towards the woods as Zorn watched him out of the corner of his large dark eyes.

      “We are in the middle of a centuries long war...our world is divided into parts according to power levels. I earned the rank of Captain from working in our military, but my superior isn’t a Simian like me, he’s a Caterian, and very fast and powerful, so that makes him my superior, understand?” He asked as Stan was almost off the rock now and Zorn sighed heavily to see this might turn into a race.

      “So...wait...can Caterians talk too?” Stan asked and for a second he stopped fidgeting and waited for an answer.

      “Cant everyone?” Zorn asked as Stan finally just sat back and laughed, it all seemed so ridiculous, here he was miles from home, or even a paved road, and he was sitting having a nice conversation with a talking ape soldier, and he felt his sanity slipping just a little.

      “Fine then.. lets get right to it...are you going to strip me of my power or kill me... or what? Lets not waste time on small talk if I’m going to die here tonight.” Stan said suddenly and his eyes looked scared but his legs were solidly placed and his instincts told him to run and run now, as Zorn looked up and he smiled, and the sight of that alone made Stan pause for a second.

      “If you can be trained to use your abilities, you’ll probably be my superior soon, I wouldn’t dare harm you because the Queen herself sent me out looking, and your power level is the highest I’ve seen by far.” He said as Stan was starting to be less afraid, but not enough to completely trust him yet.

      “You keep saying power level but what power? I’m just an average human here who likes being out in the woods and fishing. I don’t have anything a million others like me don’t have here.” Stan remarked as the big man shook his head no, that it wasn’t true.

      “On this world you’re one in a Billion, there are a few others with high levels, but one was very old, another very large and weak, many were children, so you were the best choice by far.” he said as Stan looked curious at least.

      “Here look...” Zorn said and handed Stan a small device with a screen on it and Zorn told him to hit the button and read what it said and when he did, he couldn’t understand a word...of course...but the charge that hit him was substantial, and when he tried to run the world spun and he blacked out.



      Chapter 2: Rude Awakening



      Stan had no idea how long he was out, but when he opened his eyes he saw a metal looking ceiling with lights on it and when he raised his head he bumped into something, and dropped back down. He reached up and out and every few feet he hit something clear, and he discovered he was in a tube or box, and as he turned and looked to the left, he saw the back of the large simian and in front of him, black with streaks of light going by at enormous speeds.
      “Zorn...can you hear me?” Stan called as Zorn turned around to look his way.

      “Wake already? Thats impressive.” he said as Stan felt like he was teasing him, and it felt bad to think that they were that close.

      “I’m obviously not going to get away, so let me out of here please?” Stan asked as politely as he could, as Zorn left him know right away that he wouldn’t last a minute out here, and Stan asked why.

      “The speed we are traveling and the sudden acceleration and deceleration we’ll be going through would crush someone as weak as you.” he said as Stan grumbled and whispered ‘thanks for that’ as the big ape smiled wider yet. “Its hard even on me, and I’ve been injected with medical nanos to help me heal and keep me going in emergencies, without them even I’d take damage at this enormous speed.”

      “That was a dirty trick, and I thought we were getting along back there,” Stan said and even now he was looking for some way out, as Zorn laughed silently that this one was more entertaining than any other he’d seen.

      “You were going to run, and you might have been hurt worse if I had to chase you in the dark.” he admitted as Stan had to admit that was very possible.”We’ll be home soon, then I’ll let you out... but behave...not every citizen will let being stubborn or stupid slide like me.”

      “Is that a threat Zorn?” Stan asked and he wasn’t too happy asking either.

      “Its a FACT, take it as you like.” he said as Stan saw maybe he was trying to get him ready after all. This was all very sudden,and he needed to know a lot about where he was going and what they wanted him to do, so he better wait and see and not do anything to get himself killed prematurely.

      “Well since we aren’t there yet and have the time, want to tell me more about your world?” Stan asked as Zorn just shook his head no and smiled that toothy smile.

      “I’m not a researcher, I’m just a gatherer, they will tell you all there is to know at the Center, and you’ll be tested and examined inside and out so we don’t carry any diseases to our world from your weak little body.” he said as Stan could see some odd,and every painful tests coming, and he was sure he wasn’t going to like it. “Ten minutes until landing, so just be quiet for a little while longer.” And with that he refused to talk any more and Stan laid back to wait for the inevitable research center he was headed to.

      Soon enough they stopped and as Zorn got up to go, the tube Stan was in moved right along beside him, seeming to float on air. Then he handed him over to a few others and Stan looked surprised.

      Three new people took him from there, two cat ladies, with ears and big toothy grins, but they stood on two legs and seemed not only partially human but actually quite attractive, as one smiled at him and told him he’d be alright, not to worry.The third was a reptilian, and he nodded and seemed more interested in reading his scans then talking, but he was only medium sized, not even as tall as the ladies but seemed very serious indeed.

      “Into the machine with you then,” he said finally as Stan braced himself for some pain but only saw a set of varying lights, one white then one blue that came on and nearly blinded him as the reptilian screamed to keep his eyes open, as Stan screamed it was too bright for that, and someone chuckled in the distance.

      In a few minutes the tube moved on and into a different room and there, it just disappeared, like it had never been there, and Stan was laying on a small bed looking around as two cat ladies smiled and asked if he was alright, and he nodded agreement.

      “This is a hospital room you can use for now. There will be new cloths coming for you since we got your measurements a minute ago, and then your training will start, and you’ll move into a training facility after that.” One said as Stan sat up and gave them a good serious look, as one asked if something was wrong.

      “On my world, we have dogs and cats and reptiles too but none that can talk or walk upright. Its a little hard to get used to, much less talk with.” Stan admitted as they both smiled and nodded.

      “What are cats like on your world?” One asked as the other tried to get her to leave.

      “Oh from this big,” Stan said holding out his hands,” to as big as you, house cats are domesticated animals for pets, but there are Lions and Tigers and other predators all over the world.”

      “ Wait...there are Lions on your world?” They asked as he agreed and they looked really surprised. “On this world Lions are Royalty, many times at least, our Queen and Princess are Lioness’s.” She remarked as Stan looked impressed and thanked her for telling him.

      “Don’t get friendly with the Subject, you know the rules, he’ll probably not survive the training.” the one whispered as they both looked sad and left him there, wondering why they looked so sad just now, and they still hadn’t told him how they could speak to each other, perhaps things like this were second nature all over the Universe, but he wouldn’t bet on it.

      He checked out the room they gave him and found a natural looking shower in the back. Like a small waterfall that never stops, it was a little cool but he stepped in and got clean after all he had been through, and then got out and looked for a towel. He found something like a small blanket or something in a cabinet and dried off and wrapped it around himself, toga style, and waited until a very small little dog looking person came in and handed him a bundle of cloths, and he thanked him but looked at him oddly.

      “Is something the matter?” It asked as Stan cleared his throat and admitted he was the first dog he had seen, and he was much smaller than the people he had met so far.

      “You haven’t been trained yet, but you’ll see. I am a Dogitian...bred as a servant and worker. Not all people are big enough to be soldiers or Rentu.” he said and left as Stan tried to ask some more questions but he wouldn’t stay.

      He tried getting into the new cloths but was surprised that they looked more like what some Gladiator might have worn in the past. He had calf high boots that had strings in them and a pair of shorts that were very short indeed, and a chest plate or some type of body armor that dropped down over his head and tied along the sides, and after a little while he looked at himself in the mirror he found and shook his head. This look wasn’t very convincing for someone who wanted to take some time and talk, but he barely thought that when a medium sized reptilian walked in with a pad in his hands and waved for him to follow.

      They left the hospital and walked a few blocks with the man looking very seriously at all the information they had given him and nodding the whole time, as Stan got looked at seriously by many who saw them walking by.

      “There’s a lot of different species in one town aren’t there?” Stan asked waving as a young woman Caterian chuckled and looked away.

      “Why wouldn’t there be? Different people have different skills, obviously.” The reptile mentioned as Stan could tell a nerd when he saw one, or heard one in this case.

      “So...your a researcher here then, how can I talk and be understood by everyone here?” Stan asked as the man looked up and gave him a serious stare.

      “I will be your trainer while your here...and if you survive...and talking is done by telepathy, as it always has been.” It said as Stan reached out a hand with a smile.

      “I’m Stanley White,” he said as the man looked at him oddly, and Stan lowered his hand a minute later.

      “Its not important we get to know each other until we see if your going to be of any use to us.” he said seriously as Stan growled a bit under his breath and the man smiled for a second.”Riz...is fine...” he said finally as Stan nodded and they entered what looked like a small stadium and he was led to a room off the side where many people waited and Stan looked as ready as he was going to get.


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      Chapter 3: Training to Survive


      They took Stan into a room with a large glass window in the one side. There he looked out at a larger room with dirt floor and dummies standing all around. One small Dogitian walked over and had a box full of round plastic dowels in it, each about an inch thick and 6 inches long, and they looked all the part of a small flashlight with a button on one end.

      “Training dowel...” he said as Stan nodded,” these don’t contain any information about anyone yet, they will learn from you as you use them, so choose.” he said holding the box higher as Stan thanked him and took a red one and that seemed to mean something to the researchers there.

      “Color matters?” Stan asked as many turned away, and Riz opened the door and waved him through. Stan walked in and looked the place over and Riz ordered him to the center of the room and Stan went and waited.

      “The first thing we will try is a very advanced style called...'Visualization’...” He said as Stan laughed and Riz asked what was so funny.

      “I always had a good imagination.” Stan mentioned as they all looked odd and Riz asked what was an ‘imagination’ and Stan told him it meant he could see things in his mind that weren’t really there, or sometimes had never even existed, and people all over the room gasped, as Riz cleared his throat, and they became silent again.

      “We’ll see...” Riz said and ordered Stan to turn on the dowel,and he did and the end lit up like an electric crayon or something.”Now...draw a line in front of you on the floor.” he added as Stan leaned over and Riz rolled his eyes as people laughed.

      “Focus your mind, and draw a line, bending over is not necessary.” he screamed as Stan stood back up looking upset and pointed the dowel and drew and a blue line formed about 3 feet long on the ground and Stan looked impressed.”Now hold that thought and see how long you can keep that solid.” he said as a timer started and after a little while Stan could look all around and the line still stayed solid, like it had a real body in itself and new info was gathered about Stans ability to focus and form ‘Metaphysical’ things.

      “Hmm...” Stan whispered after a while as the researchers turned to see.”Can I use this and make things with it?”

      “Like what?” Someone asked as Riz screamed for him to quit messing around and focus, as Stan told him in no uncertain terms he was bored standing there, and even now the line was rock solid.

      “Alright then hot shot...try expanding the line into a short wall. try reaching out and forming a wall with the line in front of you...do it now!” Riz screamed as Stan nodded and pointed the dowel and focused and nothing happened and he tried again, as finally Riz laughed at him.”See you’re not ready yet, now be quiet for a while while we gather information.” he said but Stan wasn’t through yet and after staring and forcing himself and trying many times he got angry, he knew he could do it, it seemed simple enough, and he finally caught on. It wasn’t a muscle thing... his body strength wasn’t needed... he just needed to see it happen, and a second later he settled down, as one researcher tapped Riz on the shoulder and he turned to see Stan relaxing, and smiling and a second later he pointed the dowel at the line and said, quite softly..'rise’...and the line became a wall, three feet high right in front of him as researchers ran wild getting readings and Riz had never smiled so wide before.

      “Unbelievable!” One said as they ran from one side of the room to another getting readings as Stan smiled wide seeing it there and asked if that was OK, and Riz agreed and told him to hold it there for a minute and Stan laughed and said ‘no problem’ as even Riz looked surprised.

      “Now that I know how, this isn’t going to be a problem, believe me.” Stan mentioned as he reached out and touched the wall and his hand made a mark in it and it stayed there, and he smiled and wrote his name on it with his finger, as people all around gasped, as even Riz looked faint.”Its like Art Class...” he said and laughed as many there stood by wide eyed, and Riz had to demand they get the proper readings, as Stan fiddled with his arty little wall while the researchers tried to focus themselves on their work.

      “You have a short attention span don’t you?” Riz asked like it was a fact, and Stan laughed and asked how much power he had to use here, and Riz just shrugged and said only time, and training would tell.

      “If only seeing it in my mind is all thats necessary...” Stan started as Riz screamed at him to stop, as Stan looked tired waiting.

      “We need to get the proper readings for our research, try and be a little more patient,please.” Riz added and many there smiled wider. He was a Royal Trainer and research was the least of his worries, but today he was on their side... and many here knew why. Making solid lines was a weeks work. Making solid objects, a months at least and this young man thought it all too funny and did it in less than a day, and they saw a report coming that would shake the foundations of their Kingdom and maybe beyond.

      Stan was forced to stand there staring at his wall and looking around like he was bored for more than an hour until the researchers nodded it was OK again.

      “OK hot shot what else did you want to try today? Its nearly lunch time so if you want..try it now.” Riz said as many gasped he gave Stan full control the first day.

      “Not a lot...” Stan said looking happy he was now allowed to play,” It makes sense to me that seeing something is great but making it solid only took a mind set that said ‘its solid’ right?” he asked as Riz nodded he agreed.”So what if I want to really make it solid so it lasts long after I’m gone?”

      “Impossible,” Riz demanded as Stan asked why.” The controller you’re using has a limited range, inside that it’ll do almost anything you can imagine, out side that everything will disappear wither it looks solid or not.” He explained as Stan took a minute to think and even the researchers looked on curiously.

      “Unless...” Stan started and pointed at the wall again and stepped back as researchers ran everywhere resetting tests and waited again. Stan turned on the dowel again...to the surprise of everyone who thought it had been on all this time... and pointed it and said, softly. “solidify’ and the dirt from the ground rushed in to cover the wall and dug right into it and slowly the wall became...a wall...with all the carvings and his name written into it and he screamed and dropped the dowel that was now smoking, and a researcher ran in to scan it and wrapped a rag around it and returned and laid it on a test bed and scanned it again, as Riz walked inside and kicked the wall...and it never moved.

      “Passed...for today.” he said trying to hold a straight face, as Stan smiled wide and they got first aid for his burned fingers, where the dowel overheated and caught fire.


      Chapter 4: New Challenges


      Stan was pretty happy now...not with his cloths, but with everything else. He felt everyone was staring at him this way, and it wasn’t all his imagination either. His name got around pretty fast and even though people from other worlds weren’t that unusual here he found out, seeing someone with his abilities was.

      He got taken to the cafeteria where Riz explained about getting food from the many machines here, but nothing had a name like cheeseburger...or fries ...here so he had to experiment to see what some things were, until some lady walked over and asked what he usually ate.

      “Fruit, vegetables, sandwiches sometimes...” he said as she looked serious and asked what a ‘sandwich’ was and he explained that it was meat and cheese or one or the other, between two pieces of bread and she finally turned to the machine and tried herself and something looking like a hoagie sandwich came out,a long crunchy roll filled with meat resembling steak, and some odd smelling cheese and leafy things he didn’t even recognize. But he was up for the challenge and gave it a try, and it wasn’t that bad and he thanked her for her help, and she nodded and told him what number that was...for future reference.

      His attempt at a drink went better, and he decided that some odd orange drink he found wasn’t too bad at all, and he took that to wash down his sandwich with.

      By now he was alone for the first time, since Riz told him to eat and sit here until he came back for him, and many people all around were watching him from a distance as Stan laughed and waved and one or two waved back.

      “You think he’s a Rentu?” One girl whispered as someone mentioned those were all starter equipment and she looked impressed.

      “He’s new no doubt about it, but the researchers say he’s a rare one, and Master Riz is in a meeting right now discussing his next training session.” he heard as he pretended not to listen in.

      But Riz was also having a tense meeting as he reported to the Head of Security that he had to completely rethink his training.

      “Why?” The Lion asked as Riz cleared his throat and admitted that Stan was a month ahead of him, and he was just surprised, thats all.”But...this is his first day isn’t it?” he asked as Riz agreed.

      “Honestly sir...” Riz said softly and looking embarrassed,”I haven’t trained anyone this skilled since the First King arrived.” he said, but refused to look up at the shocked look on his Masters face.

      “What!??” The man said and even Riz knew it wasn’t really a question, just another’s shock to hear the obvious.

      “He understands forming Metaphysical bonds instantly, and carried that thought on to make a solid, intractable object his first day. Honestly? I’m at a loss what to do this afternoon much less tomorrow.” he said as the man nodded he understood.” But I will prevail...so do not worry. I have a few ideas for our new trainee, but thinking he’ll be in training for months is just ludicrous.”

      “I wait patiently for your next report.” the man said as the link went down, and Riz went back to see Stan sitting talking to a few others who just couldn’t wait to see the new man.

      “Done eating yet?” he asked as he approached and everyone scattered as Stan agreed, and they led him away again. “This afternoon you’ll be taking a lesson explaining the nature of things. Its fine to see you make things work, but do you even know what this new science is?” Riz asked as Stan admitted he didn’t at all.

      They walked into a classroom and Stan got a seat right up front, as an older looking Caterian walked in and nodded as she started to talk.

      “Metaphysics here describes the action of or nature of, all Things.” The teacher said as Stan nodded and waited,” I understand you went right to the training hall, I’m sure that was confusing to you, Master Riz should have known better.” She went on smugly, as even Riz grumbled behind them as she spoke.

      “The power you use comes from an interaction between our sun and the magnetosphere of our world. Rare particles are formed and slowly drift to the surface of the land and get deposited there. These particles, called Mana here, can be absorbed and used as a power source, so what you learned to do earlier used this new power to make things appear or disappear at your call, understand?” She asked but Stan was having a hard time concentrating as she saw.

      “Whats the matter?” She asked as he said he needed to ‘use the facilities’ as she said he was now, but his actions and looks made Riz understand right away, and he led him out and across the hall and as he walked in there was another shower running in the corner and Stan asked where the bathroom was, and Riz pointed saying that was a Latrine, and Stan looked odd for a second but nodded and Riz saw this wasn’t what he had used before and did his best to explain and finally Stan got it done and the running water cleaned him instantly, and he made sure not to mention anything about earlier.

      “Where do I wash up after a hard practice then?” Stan asked, as Riz pointed to a small sink and said that there were always rags and towels under it for their use, and it had hot and cold water both, and Stan thanked him for saying so,and they went back for more lessons and tests, and Stan decided that no one needed to know he used a latrine for his first bath on this world.

      For 2 months things went on like this and Stan’s training got more intense. Now he could use a energy pedestal to lift things many times bigger than him, and throw objects like a sling for yards and yards. He managed to use electricity, and his walls became fortresses and enemies were killed just by touching them. He mastered fire, and with a wave of his wand set trees, grass and enemies on fire from good distances away.

      Even the most strenuous exercise became second nature, and Stan made friends between times that now joined him for lunch or walked along showing him streams nearby where he could fish on his rare days off.

      Riz was in his glory and even his superior changed and he reported directly to the Queen now, as it should have been at this stage in the game.

      “So, Master Riz...what do you think?” She asked after a meeting that seemed to go on and on and he finally agreed. “The Quest then?” She asked as he nodded, and she looked happy to see it.

      The Quest was a one time trip for a new Rentu, and many never returned from it. The walled cities were safe and secure but out there...in the fields and mountains in the far reaches of the Kingdom and the Kingdoms beyond... there were many dangerous and deadly things lurking.

      From pirates, bandits and people of ill repute, to Demons, creatures of pure Hate that attacked ,killed and ate anything they could get. The Quest was more than just a test of survival. The new Rentu went out a single man with little to nothing but his basic equipment, and was expected to survive for 1 year alone in the far reaches, and return not just alive, but better off then when he left.

      Documented Friends, materials of worth, objects of great power, anything that showed he deserved to be their Hero here, and it was not an easy task.Many had disappeared and were imagined dead, others returned, maimed and worthless to anyone while still barely alive, well short of their 1 year time limit.It was something first started by the First King...a man from a different world that came here and became not just the most powerful Rentu ever... but their King after wooing and subduing the Queen of the time, many, many years ago. It was a legend now, and many weren’t sure it was even real, but the Royal Court had official records that proved it, and that made it official.

      Any Rentu that survived and returned successful and well, was given great riches and a job working for the Royal Family for life. Some wandered the world doing good deeds in the Family name, others lived inside the walls and defended them from any attacks. It was the Families decision how that went, and there were many stories of great deeds, and many times the people of the land cheered to see one just walk by their village or welcomed him in for the night, because just seeing one meant your family was safe tonight, and possibly for many to come and Riz went to prepare Stanley for his Quest, and the Queen thought about making it a time to remember forever, even while no one knew a thing about what she had in mind.


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      Chapter 5: Quest


      The official announcement was made, and a small ceremony held at the cities north gate. Stan was there with his best armored suit, his newest most powerful Dowel, and a small carrying bag with enough food for a week inside.His hair was just so and he smiled and waved to everyone.

      Riz gave him a small pep talk before they came down to the gate, and Stan knew that he had 4 months before winter and since he was starting out North he should slowly turn his travels and spend the winter months in the southern part of the Kingdom.

      “This is the 20th day of Eventide...” Riz reminded him as he nodded,” return next year on the same day, if it takes longer to return don’t worry, we’ll watch for you for weeks just in case something happens, its not surprising.” He said and he actually looked worried about the test as Stan shook his hand and smiled wide and called him Master for the first time.

      “I’ll not disgrace you Master,” he said as even Riz smiled and nodded as they shook. They walked down now, and as the Queen and her daughter... the pure white lioness Liz... stood at the podium in their Royal best, she went on about duty and strength and how honored they’d be when he returned. It was all very nice and official. But on a world that had starships and super highways, a walking tour of the Kingdom was more than a test, it was a sign that some things never change, and as she nodded to them Riz removed the blue cape that Stan had worn for a few weeks and replaced it with a red one, a sign of graduation, and the crowd cheered.”Let the Quest begin!” The Queen said as the gate was opened wide for Stan and he stepped forward as she called to him even now.

      “Return victorious and well, and get my daughters hand in marriage!” She yelled, as people gasped, Riz looked faint and whipped around to see if she was joking, and Liz did faint... dead away...as Stan tried not to look, and kept up his pace out the door as it closed behind him and would remain that way for the next year.

      With the little bag he carried he had some storage space for food if little else. He had enough with him for a while but he stopped and picked a fruit once in a while, or fished some evening when he camped by a stream.

      He got invited in a few times by people who saw him going by, and his first month went pretty fast, and he was having a decent time actually. He didn’t see any bandits or maybe they saw him first and left him alone. Villagers waved as he walked through and he got a free meal from time to time. Every town that had a reporter asked for an interview, and he smiled and agreed and they watched his travels closely as he moved from place to place helping people and making friends.

      Once he stopped to get water from a well along the road and a young girl told him the thing had collapsed a while ago and little came out of it now. Stan looked and saw a lot of rock obstructing the flow and he waved his dowel and it disappeared and many people thanked him saying that one man got hurt trying to dig it all out again, and Stan waved it away saying it was his pleasure.

      Another time he saw a black glowing object attacking cattle, and the farmer was trying to chase it away. Stan sent a charge and electrocuted the thing and as it fell dead, the farmer cheered and saw to it Stan had a bag full of the best food before he left their area.

      It was the first real Demon Stan had seen and killed, and he was surprised that after it was dead, it was really just an animal from the forest, under some kind of dark energy that controlled it.

      “I saw one killed by a Hunter once,” The farmer said as Stan listened. It was a deer under a spell or something. When we first saw it it looked weird, with red eyes that glowed and all black and glowing. Then after it fell dead...nothing different... thats the curse of a Demon.” he said as Stan nodded and thought that was terrible, and wondered how any animal could fight something so dark and deadly, and saw why many succumbed to the power.

      “People who are attacked by animals like this die a slow and painful death. They scream and asked to die...its awful to see.” he went on as Stan nodded and thanked him for the information and went along his way again.

      Another few weeks and Stan was just leaving the Forest Glade, a land of small streams and lakes and fertile lands. He saw some people there, but they just nodded or waved and pretended not to see him, and he figured that they were just hermits this far out and left them alone.

      But when he was camped just a few miles away he heard a scream and ran to see a young gray wolf girl being attacked by a black pig like creature with glowing red eyes and he pulled out his dowel and wasted it quickly as she jumped back, looking very scared and upset for letting herself be seen.

      “You’re safe now don’t be scared.” he said with a smile but she growled and said he wasn’t though, and lunged at him, teeth bared to find herself face first into a blue wall and she slowly slid down the wall to the ground and shook her head angrily as he laughed at her for it.

      “You...you...looked so silly, sliding down the wall with your mouth hanging open, like this...” he said with a funny look as his mouth was all twisted and she tried again but even over his head was a barrier now.”Come on settle down no harm was done.”

      “I will not be humiliated like this, I am a proud and powerful Wolf, and we don’t take embarrassment lightly.” She demanded and try as she might she couldn’t touch him, as he rolled in the isles laughing at her, and she finally just whimpered and sat back in the grass panting for breath.

      “You’re not normal...” she said like it was a real surprise, and Stan stopped laughing and told her he was sorry for teasing her.

      “ You think not...after all those tries?” They heard as she jumped up with her teeth showing and looked around to see an older, wiser Wolf man come walking up using a cane and smiling until his teeth showed. “I thought I taught you better than being seen in this form by a Human.” He said.

      “Thats a Human??” She asked as he looked sad for her and shook his head, as Stan smiled and asked him to join him at his camp, and the man agreed. They all went back and Stan explained what had happened as the old Wolf gave the young girl a dirty look, and she swore she almost had him...almost... as the old man looked tired just trying all this time.

      “I am called Gollun, Master of the Wolf Tribe, and this little pup is Helena, daughter of one of my best students and my worst failure so far.” he said as she demanded she was not a pup but a full grown female warrior, and the old man teased her about running full force into a wall, and she looked sadly away.

      “I am Rentu White, from the Capital of Atreus, on my Quest mission. I was happy to help her get away from that Demon, it was part of my job after all.” he said as the old man turned on her again as she looked away as quickly as possible.

      “You attacked a Demon...at your skill level??” He demanded as she whimpered a little and said it attacked her she had no choice, but it was smaller than her so she felt she had a chance, as he looked ready to scream but held it in and shook his head.”Rentu White, try as I might I cant seem to have any effect on this girl. Her speed is outstanding but her brain... needs a little work.” he said as her mouth fell open and he pretended not to see.

      “Who was your Master in the Capital?” he asked as Stan told him Master Riz, and the man nodded with a huge grin.”Then you were well trained, take this little thing with you on your journey, us her as a pillow or bed warmer if you like, but bring her back a real warrior, if not a real woman.” he declared as Helena screamed he had no right to give her away... not as anything... much less a bedwarmer.

      “I refuse, but the thought certainly was a thoughtful one on your part. It does get cold at night sometimes.” Stan said as they both laughed as Helena demanded they stop acting like she wasn’t there. “I am still learning myself, and as such I feel I can not become someone’s Master yet, so that is my decision.”

      “Ohhh,” Master Gollun said all smiles,” an honest and honorable student...so very hard to find these days.” he said looking out of the corner of his eyes as Helena sat there, mouth hanging open in shock and disgust.”You sure? Shes well padded...for her age.” he hinted as Helena refused to be spoken about like this any more, and walked out of the camp as the old man got a good laugh at her antics.

      He slowly got to his feet and shook Stan’s hand and said that they’d help keep an eye on him while he was in their valley, and he thanked him as he disappeared out into the night,and Stan felt like he had made a friend, and made a note that he had met Master Gollun of the Wolf Tribe, so he could tell Riz when he returned.



      Chapter 6: Student and Companion


      The next day Stan gathered some extra food while he had the chance, and as he made sure he had enough fresh water he heard a sound and turned to see three Wolves approaching and he stood and smiled his best smile.

      “You are Rentu White?” The large male asked as Stan said he was.”Then here, take Helena with you, she allowed herself to be seen by a Human male in her true form, so she can never marry anyone in the village again. Train her as a warrior, so she will someday have a purpose.” he said and threw her backpack at him as Stan reminded them he had already refused this offer from Master Gollun, and the pair agreed they had heard it from him.

      “I’m not questioning your ways,” Stan said softly,”but I only saw her during a fight, no other purpose was intended I assure you, and as a healthy young female, doesn’t she already have a purpose in the village?” he asked, as the couple had to talk that over for a second, but their decision stood and Helena was left there as they walked away and her father told her not to return until she had a purpose in life, and a minute later they were gone.

      “I will not be in the way Master, I promise.” She said sadly, and it was clear she had given up fighting this, and so he nodded and agreed.

      “You will work hard and train harder,” Stan added seriously as she nodded she would.”The only thing I guarantee is your virtue will be safe with me.” he added and she seemed to feel better about that anyways, and they gathered their things and started out, working their way West towards a major highway that would run South and he hoped they made good time before Winter came.

      They’d travel a day or two, find a place where they could camp and either hunt or fish for supplies. Then on again, and as that went on Riz and the head of security watched them via the satellite feed from his dowel and they soon found he wasn’t alone any more.

      “A friend?” The security chief asked as Riz shrugged and thought about it for a while. The area they had been in wasn’t well known for being friendly, the people there could be as violent as the demons given the chance.

      “No...it cant be...” Riz whispered as his boss asked what and he laid out a map and saw the spot where Stan got his new friend and they both agreed it was something special for sure.”Dire Wolves, the domain of Master Gollun and his people.” Riz added and even he looked impressed. Dire Wolves were no ones fool and fewer peoples friend, but once one befriended you, it was for life, and he smiled wide and one addition was linked to Stan’s file and he couldn’t wait to see them when they returned.

      Stan and Helena trained every day and soon he saw her speed was her best trait, but her only attack was teeth and claws, and against a Demon biting it was as bad as it biting you.

      “Hmm you’ll need to train a weapon type.” He mentioned as she said that her natural abilities were the same as any wolf, and they had used them for generations, as he nodded but made her see that against a truly dangerous enemy teeth and claws weren’t enough. “Anything that can hold back an enemy and give you a better chance will do.” he added as she finally agreed and they went for a nice walk and he found a small bush type thing that had many branches coming off one root and he cut one about 5 feet long, straight as an arrow and 2 inches thick and took it back to camp with him.

      “A stick?” She asked and didn’t look too happy as Stan smiled and sat there, slowly removing the thin bark to reveal the pure white wood underneath. He then carved her name into it and then slid it back and forth over the fire until it started to boil out the ends then he left it lay for a while and did it again. Now it looked like a well made and slightly worn staff and he showed her what a ‘stick’ could do by knocking small branches and leaves off a bush before she could even see him move, and he showed her three different moves, straight down from the top, side to side swipes, and an uppercut that ripped a small branch off while he stayed well back and she looked a little impressed at least.

      “Your turn,” he said handing it to her and she attacked the bush with great furiosity as he laughed and told her all that energy was being wasted. The weight and strength of the staff did the work, you just needed to make sure it hit, and she slowed down and tried again and after a while there wasn’t a leaf on any bush within sight of the camp, and he called enough, as they sat back and ate dinner and got a good nights sleep.

      But the next day she was really sore from all that exercise and he asked if she wanted to wait a day before trying again, but she got her nose up and said she was fine, and by nightfall again, she could barely feed herself.

      “Tomorrow we rest,” Stan announced as she asked why.”If you keep going like this it will take twice as long to heal your muscles. A warrior has to know when to fight, when to watch and learn, and when to rest between fights.” he said as she thought that sounded pretty good to her too, and part of the next day they spent laying around in the warm sun and she took a nice long nap even after her nights sleep, and Stan watched out for trouble while she healed a little and they were on the way again by the middle of the day.

      Winter was fast approaching now and they started South again, following a major highway for a few miles. But the two of them walking along got some attention and one truck pulled over and asked where they were headed, as Stan smiled and told their story.

      “I’m making a delivery at Smithton, thats 50 miles South of here, if it helps you can hop in the back that far at least.” the man offered as Stan thanked him and an hour later they had a new campsite along a nice little river, and were many miles further than they could have managed on their own.

      “That was nice of him,” Helena said as Stan agreed, and since they didn’t need to walk this far they got a good days training in and then went hunting. Her great speed came in very handy and after a little while they had a good amount of supplies again, and got a good nights sleep and started out after a morning meal, always heading further South to avoid the bitter cold that was, even now, sneaking into the Northern boarders.

      Three more days travel time and they set up near a grassy meadow and got some sleep, and when they went hunting they found a nice young boar, and had it on a spit over their fire for lunch time, and they took turns watching it while the other went for a bath at a nearby stream. But when Stan came walking back, he saw a sight that surprised him, as Helena, standing with her staff at the ready was facing off against a large animal weighing several tons that looked all the while like a huge squirrel but with small fleshy wings very much like flying squirrels on his world.

      “Master, your back...” Helena said as the massive creature turned to see him and the armor and cape he was wearing were a dead give away.”this PERSON, refuses to even speak and our meal will be ruined soon because of him.” She grumbled as Stan smiled and walked by the great creature and asked who he might be speaking to, and as the creature slowly disappeared a strong and tall man stood there looking down on them both.

      7 feet tall and with shoulders half the size of his body, he was a soldier for sure, or if not he had missed his calling, but a second later he smiled and gave Stanley a respectful bow while his light brown hair fell over his eyes, that he pushed back again.

      “We heard you were traveling South for the Winter and hoped you’d pass this way.” he said as Stan nodded and waved as Helena stood down and went back to watching their meal cook. “I am Glom, and my people are the Glorium...we are officially called Land Dragons because of our large size.” he said as Stan said he was honored to meet him and offered to let him join them.

      “I can offer you a better meal than this, if you come with me.” He said as Stan just smiled and said ‘maybe later’ and the young man looked curious and asked why.

      “The fine young animal gave its life to be our meal, I refuse to let that offering be wasted. After we have feasted, then I will gladly listen to what you have to say.” he said and sat down to eat like that was settled, and the big man finally nodded and joined them and they ate and talked and Stan heard that demons had been seen in greater numbers in the last few weeks, and he looked sad to hear it.

      “It might be because of Winter coming.” Helena said as she growled and chomped down her food and Stan agreed, even the animals that were being attacked by the Great Darkness knew to head South to avoid possibly freezing to death during the Winter...as Glom nodded that it did make sense.

      “Were you out patrolling this morning then?” Stan asked as Glom just laughed and said he liked being out in the mornings... the fresh air and open fields gave him a chance to stretch and get some exercise... as Stan agreed he enjoyed just being out in Nature too, and Helena smiled that they weren’t so different.

      “So...is she your woman?” Glom asked as Helena gave him a dirty look and declared she was a warrior and Master Rentu’s student...as Glom smiled and apologized for the question.

      “Helena has been with me for quite some time, and her skills are...improving...” Stan added as Helena smiled wide hearing it, because she felt like she had earned some respect after all.

      “If you stay with us for a while, I’d like to take a few lessons from you too, if thats alright.” Glom added as Helena made a soft sound that got his attention and he asked what was the matter.

      “You are big and strong, but slow and less than impressive.” She hinted as Glom’s mouth dropped open in shock and Stan mentioned that Helena didn’t talk a lot...but when she did it was seldom good... as her face grew red and she looked away, while Stanley smiled and looked Glom up and down.

      “Show me your fighting style.” he said as even Helena dropped her food to see this, her Master testing a new student, and she giggled to herself while Stan gave her a dirty look. He stepped out into the edge of a small field and waved for Glom to attack and he changed back into his full sized self and charged after looking very pleased and jumping around trying to impress people. But the charge ended much like Helena’s had with a much larger face this time smashed against the wall, as Helena laughed out loud and Glom gave her a dirty look too, as he got to his feet again.

      “Happens every time,” She hinted as Glom was now sure he had it figured out and swung around and dove in from the side and at the last second switched and made a jump, and landed on top of the wall looking down through yet another layer that stopped him from getting closer.

      “That was better. “ Stan said “ But not fast enough, you’re relying on power to do everything but speed is also needed, if you were a second faster making the switch, it would have had a better chance of getting through.” he hinted as Glom nodded and smiled. This little man had things to teach him after all. “Now watch this...Helena..come.” he said as Glom stepped back and Helena became the Wolf she was and in a blinding flash she was on him... top, side, other side, front then top again... and not a single attack got through, as Glom sat back in the grass in shock at her sheer speed, and Stan’s, and knew he never had a chance.


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      WEEKEND EDITION

      Chapter 7: Winter Barracks



      “That was incredible...” Glom said after a minute, as Helena twirled her staff and smiled.

      “Shes getting better all the time, someday she’ll actually get me.” Stan said as Helena nearly howled with joy that he thought so, as Glom nodded seriously saying he really did have a long ways to go.

      “Please, spend the Winter with my Family, we have lots of room and you can help train me and my sister in return. The Demons come more often now, and even using guns we sometimes get overwhelmed and have to fall back and barricade ourselves in our homes.” He said as Stan nodded and said it sounded pretty bad.

      “A warm bed instead of a snow covered tent,” Helena whispered as Stan finally laughed and agreed, and they took down their little dome tent and gathered their things, and Glom gave them a ride back, as Stan and Helena sat near his front shoulder, and he ran through the fields and across a stream and down into a small valley, to a town that was nestled there.

      He stopped by a large farmhouse and Stan slid off to meet a tall couple of older creatures that came walking out, all smiles.

      “I found him Father...” Glom said as the older man nodded and smiled.

      “Welcome to the village of Closem, I am Glem, Glom’s father and this is Marl, his mother. We hope your stay here is both restful and enlightening.” he said with a bow as Stan thanked him and mentioned that he was taking Glom as a student, and his father looked extremely happy to hear it.

      “He is a strong young man, but sheer strength alone is not always enough.” Stan hinted as the older man agreed and it looked like that might have been mentioned before. “ And he has a sister too?” Stan asked as they both agreed, and a tall young woman walked out smiling while wiping her hands on her apron.

      “My sister, Glim...” Stan heard as he came her a polite bow, and she thanked him for his courtesy. “She’s strong and faster than me and a good shot with a gun too.” Glom admitted and Stan mentioned that against Demons ranged weapons were a good idea, and she looked happy to hear it. “I asked the Rentu to train us during his stay, is that alright Father?” Glom asked as the older man nodded and smiled.

      “I’d be honored,” he said as Stan nodded agreement and their deal was struck.”Please help our guests settle in, and see they get a hot bath before dinner.” Glem said as they were led inside and Glom whispered that with them there the Demons wouldn’t dare attack the village again, and his dad smiled and nodded his agreement to that too.

      “The Rentu has reached Closem...” Riz reported as the head of security nodded and smiled.Land Dragons lived there...large and powerful creatures that were for the most part friendly.But the area was plagued with Demon attacks and many had died. It might be a good test of the new Rentu, and he approved of it as Riz went back to training a new recruit and watched the reports coming in of Demons getting more active now that Winter was upon them.


      For a few days Stan trained everyone, and Helena made sure the two new kids knew she was their superior, a senior student and they needed to listen when she spoke. Stan heard it mentioned once and left it go, because on this world class and strength mean everything, and as a senior student she made herself seem half way between them now, and the Teacher, saying she had more time and training than them, and it was true.

      In the 8 months they had been together she had changed and matured, and now was capable of giving advice and helping with training new people. Even Stan didn’t feel he knew it all, and he tried new things constantly to see what else he could learn, but she did very well now, and he gave her credit and left the others know that they too could have her skills and confidence someday if they just tried harder.

      Another week and a call came in, a pair of Demons was seen close to the town out in the surrounding fields and Stan and his team went to see as many others stayed back waiting.

      There were 6 really, one large creature screaming orders or something that others seemed to follow and as they saw the Team approaching they charged, screaming all the time, and Stan made everyone get ready, and Glim fired a shot and one small animal went down, and as they got to the group Stan’s wall went up and he electrocuted 4 more. But one got around and Helena was on it in a second, and another small Demon was smashed into the ground as she made a crater a foot wide under her staff point, as Stan laughed and asked if she thought that was enough, and both the others got a good laugh to.

      “I got excited...” She said laughing along, as even Glim nodded that was true.

      “Remind me not to get you excited...” Glom mentioned as she got her nose up and said there was no way that was happening, and they went back to town and a report was sent out saying Rentu White and his new squad destroyed 6 Demons at the town of Closem, and the report made it all the way to the Queen, and she smiled that he was gaining friends and allies everywhere, and from some of the most respected and feared people on the planet.


      Chapter 8: Winter Training Ends


      For a month they trained daily and twice saw a few Demons that were immediately dispatched.Glom got faster and more maneuverable, as did Glim, but they both got training in ranged weapons too and soon could hit anything moving or standing still, and Stan decided that shotguns with multiple types of ammo were best, and each one had a nice one and an ammo belt for when they were needed.

      They ran daily for exercise and then worked around the town doing little things to help others. One old lady had a house whose roof leaked in the rain and Stan and Glom spent a day on top of it patching things, and she was so happy she made them pies to take home, and they thanked her.

      Being two girls training together, Glim and Helena became friends and talked when they weren’t busy about all the things teenaged girls talk about. Money, Family, work and boys or men, and Stan saw having her around helped Helena a good deal because she hadnt been home for a long time, and even with him there she got lonely.

      But now the weather started getting better and some days were downright balmy now. Spring had come to the meadows and valleys and Stan saw his year of travel and testing coming to an end.

      “The 20th of Eventide huh?” Glom asked as Stan agreed saying they still had time, and everyone smiled. A month was time for sure but they were hundreds of miles from the Capital, and Stan already said he was going to resume his journey soon, to the sadness of some friends he made there. “Where will you go from here?”

      “West to Kilgarn, there are reports of Demons there that seemed to move into the area and stayed all Winter. Those poor people need some assistance, so we’ll travel there for a few days then start North again, I think.” he said as Helena nodded it sounded about right.

      “When will you leave?” Glim asked sadly and Stan smiled and said ‘in a few days’ and it seemed settled.

      Everyone seemed sad for the rest of the day but the next day things were back to normal and Stan told Glom’s dad that his son had learned a lot and that the two of them would be a huge help in protecting the town now, as he smiled and thanked him for saying so.

      “It was an honor teaching them and staying here with your Family, you were very kind to us and we appreciate it.” Stan said seriously as the older man nodded and walked away and Stan and Helena started gathering their things... and some extra food for their trip... and when they found themselves standing out front of the house fully loaded to go, the entire Family was there to see them off, and Glom and Glim had their camping equipment too, and Stan looked sad asking why.

      “They both came to me separately,” Glem said as Stan smiled wider.”They feel they have much more to learn, and they want you to teach them. Being in your group has given them a purpose and their lives meaning. They want to assist in saving others and removing Demons from this world.” he explained as Stan nodded sadly and turned to look at the two kids that looked scared he might turn them down.

      “It will be hard,” he started as they both agreed,” The fights we already saw were small compared to many that will come after this.” he said, as they swallowed hard, but agreed.

      “I cant guarantee you’ll come home alive either.” he reminded them as they still agreed, and even their Father and Mother looked proud of them.”Then I accept you as members of my team, together we will work hard to make this world safe.” he said as they agreed all smiles, and they all shook hands with the elders that came to see them off, and they turned and walked away, as friends and family cried thinking they had grown up so much this Winter, and they might never see them again.

      They walked for hours and were passing some large fields that were grown over in high grass when a sound caught them, and Stan stuck his arm out, and everyone froze.

      “Helena, what do you think?” he asked as she laid her staff down and drew in a big deep breath, then ran to the edge of the field and did it again and then returned and grabbed her weapon and held it firmly, staring out in the direction of the woods beyond.

      “Geese,” she mentioned as Stan agreed,” but they aren’t normal. I can smell the darkness from here...and there are a LOT of them.”

      “Geese are large birds that fly and can travel for hundreds of miles...” Stan mentioned as everyone agreed,” if there are that many we cant just pass by, they will spread into other areas and infect other animals there.” he said as Glom and Glim swapped out their single projectile ammo for heavy bird shot, and Stan looked around trying to find the best spot to attack from, and found none.

      “Its too flat here and the field is grown up too high.” Helena added as Stan agreed, but that didn’t make what he said any less true.

      “Make sure that you have a lot of ammo ready, you’ll be the best chance we have for flying birds.” Stan mentioned as the two shot gunners told him they were ready.”Then there’s no choice...” Stan said and drew a circle on the ground big enough for everyone to stand in and after a second he pointed to it and said ‘rise’ and it became solid and they were lifted up a good 15 feet into the air, and from here it was clear the field was full of geese, all black and glowing and squawking loudly now that they were visible.

      “I’m going to owe whoever owns this land an apology.” Stan said and waved his pointer around and made a large square in the field and it covered a lot of area and black birds, and he called loudly,’incinerate!’ and the entire area covered by the square became an inferno and dozens of birds became cooked instantly..but not all.”Here they come, you two get any that gets past us out here.” he called over his shoulder as Glim and Helena got ready and watched as well as they could, as Stan threw up a small shield and electrocuted a few more that slammed into it and Glom was aiming and firing as fast as he could, and birds fell everywhere.

      But a few got past, and Glim’s gun fired three times fast, and there was the sound of swinging clubs and growling animals behind them, but Stan was getting really tired by now, and Helena saw it right away.

      “Just a few more minutes...” She whispered as he nodded and took a deep breath and Glom realized for the first time how hard it might be to hold the 4 of them this high in the air, and protect them as well for such a long time, and he fired even faster, as Stan ordered him to slow down and ‘hit every target’ and Glom nodded and got a lot more accurate again.

      Now there were just a handful and Glim got two more and Helena one as it flew in to grab them from behind. Glom got one too and a lightning bolt fried the last, as Stan was on one knee by now, and Helena grabbed his hand and said it was over, and they lowered to the ground and he looked exhausted.

      They looked around carefully and after a minute decided they got them all, and Glom had Stan get on his back and they walked another mile or two and found a nice camping spot for the night and got a fire going and had a meal, and Stan was in bed before it even got dark...and everyone took turns standing guard all night to make sure nothing else happened.

      “Rentu White and his Team destroyed 35 Demon geese in the Hallway Valley?” The Queen asked as she was told it was true.” If there were so many, why didn’t the military strike them first?” She asked and was told it was because of ‘territorial problems’ and she looked tired too. Nobles and other members of Royalty get testy about everything, even killing Demons on their lands, while they do little if anything themselves. But a Rentu has jurisdiction anywhere, and is welcomed because they fight for everyone. One man that can go and do whatever it takes, and this one might have saved an entire region this week, and it was written into his files again, and she saw he was back out and on the move again.


      Chapter 9: The Return

      A couple weeks longer and they were walking back towards the Capital and the end of Stan’s Quest. It was early in the morning when they stopped for fresh water, and a Military patrol rode by and waved and tooted and everyone waved back. During the Quest communications with the Capital were not allowed, so the Team knew nothing that had been going on, while Riz and the Queen kept close tabs on them via satellite feeds and calls from Mayors or people who they had helped.

      This patrol was heading home after a long nights work, and their message about the return of the Rentu was the icing on the cake, since they knew days ago they were headed back. Now the announcement went out and the Queen got ready for the entrance back into the city. The stands were set up and her and Liz went to wait when they heard he was coming into sight down the road. But when the gate opened, up rode two people on massive beasts, and even the Queen was impressed, and Liz looked faint. They rode in and dismounted and Stan thanked them for the entrance, and as people watched they turned back into the large and strong man and woman they were, and Helena handed them back their weapons and ammo and they all walked up to the podium and bowed before Royalty.

      “I have returned your Majesty, on the appointed day and time.” Stan said seriously as she nodded yes with a big smile.

      “You have served well, better than many before you...listen People... this is the tale of Rentu White and his Team over the last year!” And she read the many good deeds, and many battles and numbers of Demons killed as many people there cheered and applauded at every turn. Stan tried to hold a serious look as everyone smiled and cheered and he saw Riz, his Master off to the side waiting, and he couldn’t wait to tell him everything he had seen on his trip. “52 dead Demons while on this trip..more than many military patrols have to their credit!” The Queen ended with as hundreds there cheered and hooted, and the entire Team looked embarrassed by it all.

      “Rentu White will you introduce us to your friends now?” She asked as Stan agreed and introduced Helena as a Female Wolf Warrior, and many oohed and ahhed. Then Glom and Glim the brother and sister team and his ranged specialists, and they bowed for the Queen once more as people cheered until the ground shook.

      “Ground Dragons I see, magnificent.” the Queen declared as Stan wholeheartedly agreed. “Now that you have returned, we gladly accept you into the service of the Royal Family. No longer will you walk the land, but will have special vehicles to use for your team. New cloths and weapons, ammo and food all supplied. We hope to see many more good deeds from you in the future.” She said as Stan thanked her saying they would always do their best.

      People stepped forward and handed the Team new uniforms of medium blue with brass buttons and trim. Then Riz stepped out and smiled and took Stan’s old red cape that had by now seen better days, and replaced it with a new red one, with fine golden trim and an emblem of a white shield with a large number 1 on it and said that this was their Unit Icon, White 1, and Stan thanked him as the crowd roared.

      “Do you have anything to add, Liz?” The Queen asked and her nod towards the Team made it clear she should have. But as she stepped forward, she wasn’t smiling a bit, and even Stan saw her mothers offer when he left had not gone over well at home.

      “I welcome you back, Rentu White, and hope you serve us for many years to come.” Liz said and stepped back as her mother gave her dirty looks then shook her head and said that there was going to be a banquet that evening in the castle hall, and they were the guests of honor, and then they waved and walked off the stand and stopped to shake everyone hands as Helena looks shy being so close to the Queen, but Glom looked more interested in Liz, who of course ignored them completely.

      A few hours later, and music played and a band wove a sound that just made you want to dance, even if you weren’t good at it. Glom gave it a shot and Glim and Helena both got one with Stan, as they all now wore their new uniforms for everyone to see.

      The meal was fabulous and Helena made sure to get her share of the meat they had as Stan tried not to say anything to upset her, while Glim mentioned that she’d get fat if she kept that up, and they grumbled to each other for a while.

      But Riz got his chance to talk to Stan now, and they smiled a lot, and Stanley told him about the massive flock of geese and how they defeated them and he looked impressed.

      “Your capacity for holding and channeling Manna has improved a great deal since you left.” Riz mentioned as Stanley agreed.”To gather and use such a large amount in a short time, you’ve learned a lot more than even I had hoped.”

      “We train daily, and I don’t go easy on them or myself.” Stan mentioned as Riz smiled and nodded.

      “So...which one is your favorite...you can tell me...” Riz hinted as Stan looked oddly at him for a second.

      “They are my students they are equally my favorites.” he added as Riz rolled his eyes and nodded towards the girls.

      “You can be a Master and still remember to be a man.” Riz hinted as Stan just shook his head sadly.

      “I have no such intentions on either of them.” He said and his tone said that he really meant it, and Riz stepped back and left that go for now. But a minute later he got a tap and someone pointed towards the head table as the Queen was waving him to join them and he walked over and gave her a quick bow again, and she waved it away all smiles.

      “The news crews are waiting for an announcement from the new Rentu, and I’d like to get some pictures with you dancing with the Princess if you don’t mind.” She said as Stan smiled and agreed but not Liz, as her face looked like it would crack if her lips moved a single millimeter as her mom gave her a little push to get her moving and Stan saw it clearly.

      He led her onto the dance floor as many people applauded and the Team turned to see. But even now if Liz could have gotten any further away she would have but arms are just so long, as her mother looked livid from the table as she watched Stanley do his best to smile while Liz grumped and refused to even look at him.

      “Have I offended you, your Majesty?” Stan offered as she shook her head no but still didn’t say a word. “I hope this isn’t about what your mother said the day I left, I assure you I never took it seriously.” he added as she looked up for a second there then looked away again.

      “Good...don’t...” She managed to get out as Stan finally just smiled and left it go again until the end of the song and Liz thanked him for the dance...in front of a dozen sets of news cameras, and he thanked her for joining him, as she returned to her table and mother who almost jerked her out of her cloths to get her to sit and talk about her actions.

      “You’re embarrassing us all, and ruining the Families name on nationwide TV.” The Queen said as Liz just huffed and looked away.

      “You’re the one who tried to prostitute your own daughter to some alien as a wife.” Liz grumbled while no one was looking.” But I fixed that misunderstanding already tonight.” She declared as her mom looked sad for her.

      “Smile for the rest of the night regardless of your feelings! We are Royalty, and all those perks you love so much have a cost, so you better learn to live with it.” She demanded as she went right back to smiling wide and waving, and Liz saw her usual job of ignoring her mothers wishes wasn’t going to work tonight.


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      well I dont know whats going on now. I demanded something brand new from myself, and threw out all the old stuff I wrote for a long time (figuratively) and now...nothing looks good to me. I dont know if that means I'm lost or halfway to a new place, but for a few days, nothing sounds or looks good to me. I started 3 new stories, and didnt finish any or even halfway yet.I think my 'rutt' was really my spot, where it was easy to write stuff, but since I forced myself out...well...I dont know where to go from here. so it might be a while before I finish something else for here...the only idea I had lately that was truly new was a story about a game I was playing..Hunter Primal...about inmates being sent to help colonize a new world...populated by dinosaurs...lots to kill just to stay alive and cargo crates dropped from orbit with equipment and supplies...if you can get to them.


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      Chapter 10: Royal Bribery



      When Stan returned after his dance, Glom walked over all smiles and Stan just shook his head sadly.

      “That young lady has a fire in her belly about something.” he said as Stan smiled and agreed." But that just proves she has spirit, so maybe I should try?” he asked as Stan waved for him to go, and Glom leaned in and whispered that even if she refused, it would be something to brag about later, and Stanley laughed, as Glom walked over very politely and asked for the next dance, and to everyone’s surprise, Liz agreed.

      The next song started and the mountainous man led the little Princess onto the dance floor as Glim and Helena looked too shocked to speak,but half way through the dance, Liz smiled and asked if his family was well off, as Glom laughed and said no, not at all, and she asked if he wanted to help them a great deal, as he looked surprised.

      “I need you to get your Master and Team out of the Capital as quickly as possible.” She whispered as Glom almost laughed at the sound of it.” I will guarantee that your family is well taken care of because of it, can you do it Glom?” She asked as he looked too shocked to speak for a second.

      “He is my Master after all, I doubt he’ll take orders from me.” he hinted as she said they were getting a large armored bus with running water and bunks in it for their travels. If he could get Stan to take it out for a test for a few days it would give her some time...but she didn’t say what for...as he agreed he’d try and she smiled for the first time tonight, and gave him a respectful bow and thanked him for the dance when it was over, and he went back to sit with the Team, and Glim asked what that was all about.

      “We’re getting a new armored bus,” he said as she looked happy with that, as Helena mentioned it would beat sleeping outside all the time, and he agreed. “It should be ready tomorrow the Princess said, so we can take it out for a test drive.” he added as they all agreed, and Stan saw that things were not as he had hoped when they finally got back, and he thought maybe he knew why.

      The middle of the next day they were putting their things in the new vehicle and Glim said she could drive it easily, and Stan agreed saying it was a lot like trucks on his world too. They had food stacked in storage, and boxes of ammo, and even an autoloading shotgun with a huge round clip for heavy battles, and Glom claimed that one for himself, while Glim took a heavy duty riot gun for her normal weapon.

      There was something for everyone, and Stan saw that someone had spent some serious time trying to find anything they might ask for before they even had a chance to ask. That meant they had no real reason to stay in the city, and lots of reasons to be outside, hunting Demons and chasing Bandits and he saw a plan coming into play.

      The bus was fueled and loaded and soon Glim fired it up and away they went. Not walking was nice and after a short drive they stopped when Stan ordered it, and pulled over by a small field near a stream.

      Everyone got out to look around and Helena’s eyes opened wide as Stan gave her a wink that made the other two look at them curiously.

      “Remember this place?” he asked as she did and her eyes welled up and it looked like she’d cry.

      “He saved me from a Demon here...” She informed the others as they both got a huge grin.” and its where my family gave me to him, and then walked away.”

      “Gave?” Glim asked as Helena looked embarrassed and she left them know how it had happened.”But...you two aren’t like that...are you?”

      “Of course not...” Stan declared as Helena said nothing.”It was all a misunderstanding, so I offered to take her with me because her family wanted her to train and become a great warrior.” he went on as Glim gave Helena a funny look and she refused to say anything right now. But just them a voice ran out and everyone turned to see an older wolf walk up all smiles and Stan met him and they shook like old friends.

      “Master Gollun, I knew you wouldn’t be too far away.” Stan said as they both shook hands and smiled wide.

      “Rentu White, good to see you again, and with such a nice group too...all students I assume?” He asked with a wink and Stan admitted it had started out that way.

      “We are officially a Squad now...the White Squad number 1...” Helena said as she stepped up and shook his hand too and Gollun gave her a big grin as she looked happy to see him.

      “You’ve matured, and gotten stronger too, I can tell.” He said as she thanked him for saying so.

      “Helena is truly a Warrior now...with 6 Demon kills to her name...and many more coming I’m sure.” Stan said and for a minute Helena looked embarrassed he was bragging about her to her old Master. “She quickly accepted a staff as a weapon, silent and deadly at close range, and with her impressive speed she uses it well.”

      “Well done Helena...” Master Gollun said as she thanked him for saying so,” Your family will be most pleased.”

      “Can she visit them while she’s here? We have the time.” Stan hinted as the old man looked shocked and Helena said nothing else until Gollun took Stan to the side and reminded him that she had been shunned by her parents for being seen by a man she wasn’t married to.

      “They came and told me she needed a purpose for her life and now she has one, and she’s skilled at it. That was all a misunderstanding, there’s isn’t or hasn’t been anything between us.” Stan added as silently as possible, as the old Wolf looked sad and Stan asked why.

      “That is all irrelevant to their decision,” he mentioned as Stan looked shocked now,” To them the decision was made and she was given to you freely and you accepted her, something I thank you for. If you hadn’t she would have been shunned anyways, and sent out to wander the world alone forever, its the way of our people, we may be too old fashioned by a large measure but it has kept us pure and independent for many centuries.” He said as Stan looked sadder still.

      “I thought she’d be accepted again after she was properly trained.” Stan hinted as the old man smiled wider and said he wished it were so, as Stan agreed.

      “But you did well, Rentu...she stayed and trained and now she does have a purpose, she follows you and fights for us all, a mission many would die for easily, and her family will be pleased she doesn’t wander alone and lonely, she has friends that care for her and she can fight alongside of.” he hinted as Stan agreed she had a place in his unit for as long as she wanted, and Gollun thanked him for that.

      “Then keep her safe and take her as family, and she’ll be happier for it. She too knew all along that it would happen, so I’m sure shes much happier this way, and seems to like being here with you and your Team.” Gollun added as Stan agreed and they parted ways with Gollun saying he’d let her family know she found her place, and Stan nodded sadly and they walked away and Gollun disappeared back into the forest.

      Stan turned to Helena and looked like he might cry himself, and he laid a hand on her shoulder as she looked sad too.

      “You will always have a place here, I’ll never let you travel alone.” he said seriously as a tear slid down her cheek and she thanked him, as Glom and Glim stayed back silently and waited for things to settle down.

      It took a while but they were back on the road seeing how the big machine handled with Stan at the wheel this time, as Glim sat beside a sad looking Helena and asked if she was alright, as she tried to smile and nodded she was.

      “Our people are much the same,” She hinted as Helena nodded it wasn’t unusual.” does he know...he’s not from this world. Does he understand that your family gave you to him and they think you’re his wife now because of this?” She asked as Helena shook her head no, saying it wasn’t important so long as she had the Team she’d be fine, and Glim looked sad for her and Helena made her say she’d never tell him. Stan was doing what he thought was best for everyone and he had no one either, she was sure, so if he had that kind of strength then she could too, and Glim just smiled and agreed and they didn’t talk about it any more.


      Chapter 11: A Small Job that Grows on You


      They rode around then camped over night at a professional campsite near a small river, and as they signed in the manger saw the icons and decals on their vehicle and ran out to meet them and thanked the Gods they had come, as Stan looked surprised and asked why.

      “The river is polluted with Demon fish, waves after waves of them. Our swimming area has been closed all season and the silver trout many fished for here are all gone now. Its a disaster! If this continues we’ll be ruined.” He cried as Stan told him not to worry they’d do what they could to help, and the man gave them a large private site next to the shower rooms, and they set up camp not 50 feet from the rivers edge.

      They got a nice meal and after eating Stan took a folding chair and went and sat next to the large stream as the Team walked over to see what he was up to. He pointed and from time to time a wave of small black fish swam by many times a large mass that took minutes just to pass and Helena looked surprised and asked what they could do about so many at once.

      “Explosives!” glom said happily as he turned to go back to the vehicle as Glim growled at him and Stan just laughed.

      “I don’t think that’ll be necessary...” Stan said as he laid his dowel on his lap and asked for a cup of coffee and Helena ran to get it. They all got chairs and just sat there as Stan smiled and said it was really peaceful here, and just then a wave of black started downstream, and he grabbed his dowel and made a line across the stream and waved it as a energy wall went up just high enough to reach the top of the water, and while the water seemed able to get through, the fish did not and soon there was a boiling mass of fish there, trying their best to get past, like they had someplace they needed to be, and Stan saw it right away.

      “Its like they have a purpose,” he hinted as many there seemed shocked,”like a Hive Mind...all thinking the same thing, maybe the reason they came here started downstream, and they need to go there from time to time.” He said as even Glom thought it possible. “Glom take Glim and go see, follow the river for a little while and see of you find anything odd, take a few small charges...SMALL CHARGES...” he insisted as Glom looked sad and Glim said she’d watch him and Stan agreed as they went and got their equipment and started down the river, watching for anything big or odd as they went.

      The first mile or so they saw only black fish, some larger than others but nothing bad or big enough to mess with. The next mile and they were nearing the lake the river ran into, and here there were more black fish than before and bigger ones, as Glom looked happy and bombed a large school that covered the entire river side to side, and they turned into dead bodies and drifted down towards the lake and he looked happy he got to use his new toys, but a minute later a crashing sound was heard as Glim turned to see a large reptile running though the brush towards them and it was every bit as big as they were in their real bodies, and she screamed and opened fire with her gun and Glom yelled ‘fall back’ and they started running, and being chased through the woods and back up the path they followed to get here.

      The explosions were heard all the way back to camp and Stan looked tired as Helena laughed saying he knew Glom would find an excuse to use them and he agreed. Then a second explosion and then gunfire, and they looked oddly at each other as the gun fire got closer and Stan jumped up and they ran to the bus and got armed as quickly as possible.

      Glom and Glim burst from the brush a minute later and he dove in and got his gun too, and one by one massive crocodiles came running in and got shot or electrocuted until the wave was over and Glom looked like he was tired enough to fall over, and Glim said it was his fault for throwing explosives into the river. And he explained what happened and Stan said he might have been right to kill a large group like that, but it didn’t explain how they upset the bigger animals unless the sound bothered them. But either way this little camping trip had become a real job now, and they called it in and a research team was dispatched to see what they could find out while Stan took the entire team down stream again to see what was going on.

      They silently snuck along seeing a few other dead animals that they had killed as they ran, and Stan mentioned that these were the first he had seen like this, as a second voice was heard and a silent hovercraft drifted in and stopped beside them and a pair of researchers got out to examine the dead bodies.

      “Creticious Crocodiles...you haven’t seen any before because they aren’t native here.” the older reptile mentioned as Stan nodded and waited for more.” The last reports of these are from islands 900 miles to the west. There’s no good reason for them to be here, and this might well be the furthest a Demon spawn has ever migrated.” he said as everyone looked shocked again.

      “Rentu White I presume?” he asked with his hand out as Stan shook it and the man told him he represented the Royal Science Academy, and they were sent to examine the bodies and identify the animals they found here, and he was glad they came because this was a major scientific find, as Stan smiled seeing that scientists were the same no matter where you find them, and he thanked them for coming. “As you get closer to the lake, I think you’ll find bigger animals. These are average sizes here, but they can get up to 50 feet long, so be very careful. We’ll stay back here and examine these for now, I have other teams back at the camp.” he said as Stan agreed and they started down stream again with their new knowledge and the warning of bigger troubles ahead.

      They were within sight of the beach when Stan stopped everyone and took out his pocket binoculars and got a good look. It was like a war zone, with several very large creatures walking the beach right at the rivers entrance and the black cloud reached out almost as far as the eye could see and he sighed heavily and said this one was beyond them, as he handed the glasses to Glom who looked and passed them around.

      Stan reached inside his armor and pulled out the satellite phone that was built in and made the call. His contact was the head of Kingdom Security and when he left him know what they found he dispatched fighters right away to help.

      “Satellite images are reading thousands of Demon signatures. Protect the researchers and act as our spotters for this mission.” The General said as Stan agreed, and a few minutes later three fighters streaked in and then stopped and hovered over their Team and Stan got a second call and he looked up to see a pilot waving from above.

      “Hold that position, believe me you wont want to be any closer.” He said as Stan said they’d dig in there and the man agreed. They fell back a few yards and ducked behind some bushes for cover, and a second later missiles rained down on the beach, and bombs into the lake, and thousands of dead animals drifted to the top and up onto the beach. It took a long time and a lot of noise but just as suddenly as it started it stopped, and the pilot left them know any stragglers were their’s, and Stanley thanked them for coming as they turned and left the area.

      Now they walked out slowly and looked at the devastation, craters as big as cars, dead bits and pieces of animals everywhere and trees and even grass and rocks that had been set up for looks along the stream were wiped out to nothing but holes and blood splatters. This was why the military only got involved in major attacks, because the ecological damage was nearly as bad as the attack itself, and everyone agreed it had been necessary...this time...but that they’d do their best to avoid it when possible.

      The report and video came back to the castle an hour later as the Queen fumed that Stanley and his crew were thrown into a battle so soon after returning from his Quest. She had a good idea how this had happened, and when Liz walked in asking what the excitement was about, she threw the report at her, and she sat down to read it and looked away sadly.

      “How many times must you embarrass yourself and US??” Her mother asked as Liz said she didnt know what she was talking about, and refused to even look at her.”Don’t worry, the engagement I promised the new Rentu is canceled permanently...not because you won... but because he deserves better than a lying bitch who sends loyal people to die!” She screamed as even Liz got quiet and walked away, as her mother fumed all day, and Stanley and his crew were recalled for a nice rest and resupply, and he wondered when he’d find out what really happened.


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      WEEKEND EDITION

      Chapter 12: Research Pays Off



      Elisabeth was hurt by her mothers words, but she wouldn’t let it show. She stayed away from her the rest of the day and when evening fell she got into some normal cloths and snuck out and caught a cab to the Noble District, where rows of small mansions were found and families of Noble birth lived along the edge of the Capital.

      There she opened a back gate, using a key given just to her, and went to the kitchen entrance and knocked. The door opened immediately as a young Lynx girl ran out and threw her arms around her and they hugged happily for a minute, standing there in the doorway.

      “I missed you...” Casi said as Liz nodded agreement with tears running down her cheeks. They held hands and went inside and she stayed for the evening, and it was late at night when she finally went home, feeling much stronger and more determined than ever not to let her mother win, and get her married off to some man she didn’t care for.

      Of course this wasn’t the first time,and these types of things don’t go unnoticed, as Castle Security had long since learned to turn a blind eye, and yes... the Queen knew too...and waited as patiently as she could for Liz to mature into a woman who would stand up and admit her feelings for an old friend. But it hadn’t happened yet, and that was sad, because they were the last women to ever hold the title of Queen and Princess in their family.

      Elisabeth was an only child, and the Queen could never have another. This meant that even if Liz married her name would change, and the next ruler of the Kingdom would start a new lineage, a new name for the future.But one thing that any Royal Family needs is children to carry on, and same sex couples cant have any,period, its a decision that they both have to agree to, since the only chance would mean bringing in a third party, but that would never happen here. So, the Queen was on the lookout for a new person of better than average skills and great kindness and compassion to lead after she stepped down, and she thought she found one.

      Even throwing the idea of marrying Liz into the mix she had hoped to force her to admit her relationship with Casi, but she still refused, and spent her time instead buying off people and dropping gifts for favors. Sometimes she just wished she could scream that she knew and get it over with! Nothing would change by holding back now, nothing, and she was sure this game of hide and seek made them both feel dirty and cheap, and it didn’t need to.If this went on much longer she would do it...and then give them both a long speech about growing up and taking responsibility for themselves... but that was then and not today, as she sat back and finished her work and wondered what would become of them all.

      The next day the research came back and it was clear what had happened. The huge black cloud that Glom had attacked with explosives held a hundred smaller fish as well as Demon animals like frogs and lizards and anything else they found as they traveled up the river. But it also held dozens of baby crocodiles, and their parents saw their destruction immediately and attacked. Thats what started the big battle, and when Stan saw the report he agreed it couldn’t have been helped. Under the same circumstances he too would have attacked such a large number of animals, and Glom didn’t need to feel bad or face any charges for misconduct.

      But it still showed animals that should never have been there, since their home area was hundreds of miles away, deep inside another Empire, and the Queen called their leader and asked and he admitted that they had seen many Demons as well, and his Army was on constant alert.

      “I don’t know whats worse,” he admitted as the Queen listened.” seeing hundreds of animals become Demons and attack everything in sight, or destroying mile after mile of farmland and watershed in each attack. It makes it seem I cant win no matter what.” The Emperor of Zion said, as she agreed.

      “I am lucky to have our Rentu,” She admitted as he nodded agreement,” With your permission perhaps he can check out these attacks for you? He has a heavily armed unit with him and has been very successful here.” She offered as he smiled wide and agreed on the spot, and Stan and Unit 1 got more area to search on their next patrol.

      “Maybe you should get a Rentu of your own?” She hinted as he looked thoughtful, but sending out an interstellar expedition was no small task, and he said he’d think about it, as she smiled and agreed as the link went down.

      Now as Stan and his Team checked their supplies for their next trip a second vehicle pulled in along side, as a young Captain got out and saluted him and Stan returned it.

      “Since things are getting so bad, especially in the neighboring region, we are ordered to assist you. I have my own vehicle, and supplies and a Squad of 6 marines with me, is that alright?” He asked, as Stan agreed, saying that they were grateful for the help.

      “I heard...” The young officer whispered looking to see if anyone was listening,” that your Team has the most kills of any since records have been kept, up to 35 in one attack, unaided, is that true?” he asked as Stan just laughed, and said they seemed to find trouble everywhere, as the young officer nodded and seemed happy to be along.

      “My Squad has the best kill ratio of any Marine Unit, so the Queen thought we’d be a good mix.” he said as Stan agreed and said they’d be leaving shortly, and they planned their trip on a map the officer carried, and then they both entered their vehicles and started out on what would be a 2 week trip through the Kingdom and over into the Empire next door, looking for a link for why the crocodiles made such a long trip just to lay eggs here.

      Their first stop was the campground, and they all walked out to the beach to see if there was any evidence they had missed before, and the locals had a crew out there trying to close all the holes made during the bombing run and the Marines said it looked like a heck of a fight, as Stan agreed saying that the fighter pilots got all the kills this time, as Glom looked sad he forgot to mention his volley of explosives practice that started the whole thing.

      They walked back to the camp then and the manger stopped to say that now that the Demons were gone some of the original fish were returning to the river, and he showed them several nice sized Silver Trout that were chasing minnows and jumping for bugs nearby.

      “Thats a nice sized fish,” Stan said, pointing and the manger said that they could stop by any time for free, because he would have lost everything if not for them, and Stan looked embarrassed by the mans bragging, while the young Captain elbowed his second and smiled, seeing that helping people does have rewards.

      “Lets get a hot meal and then some sleep, we can cross the boarder tomorrow around noon.” Stan offered as everyone agreed, and the two vehicles parked next to each other and shared a campsite, and the Marines looked impressed that two Land Dragons were in his Team and one kept winking at Helena all evening, as she tried hard not to notice.

      She went to the bathroom a while later and Glim went along, as Helena fumed about the flirty Marine that just wouldn’t leave her alone.

      “He’s kind of cute,” Glim offered as Helena looked tired and refused to say anything for a second, as they came walking out the door towards the campsite.

      “I’m a married woman, so that kind of thing doesn’t interest me now.” She hinted as Glim gave her a dirty look because she knew for a fact that Stan never thought that way at all.

      “Married really? To who and where does he live? Maybe you could have visited once in a while, if you’d told me.” They heard as Glim’s face fell as Stan came over to use the bathrooms too.

      “You know...” Glim hinted as she winked and Stan looked even more tired.

      “If you mean that Family thing... I never took it seriously... so if you get a chance, for Gods sake take it.” he said as Helena looked upset and angry and ran back and into the bus as Glim was giving Stan a really cold stare just now.”What??” he asked as she just shook her head, and heaved a huge sigh.

      “You... are an idiot...” She mentioned as she too went back to the bus and Stan just stood there looking like someone had slipped something past him, and finally just went inside to do his business and then went on to bed.


      Chapter 13: Day Two



      They traveled West again and soon crossed into the Zion Empire, and the boarder guards welcomed them with open arms.

      “We were told a Rentu was coming,” One young man said as Stan nodded agreement,” please, do what you can to help us, even here we are attacked almost daily, the numbers of Demons is outrageous further into the Empire.” he reported as Stand said they’d do their best and the man thanked him and as they cleared the checkpoint and drove on, he called in that the Rentu had arrived and even the Emperor was happy to hear that.

      They drove for another 20 miles and stopped for lunch and to do some scouting of the area. The Marines volunteered and went out looking while Stan and his Team waited at the camp. It didnt take long for a call to come in and they went to see what the excitement was all about. But when they arrived they saw a small puddle of glowing water and two little frog like animals glowing too, sitting there looking tired and sick.

      “Oh my God!” Glim whispered as Stan asked why she was so excited.” Their Spirits of the Land. They protect the very ground we walk on and help make crops grow and water flow where it is needed. To see one in person is rare indeed, these few must be fighting the Demon energy that is attacking the land, and getting weaker too from the way they look.”

      “Spirits of the Land? Its good to see they still exist here anyways.” Glom mentioned as even Helena agreed.

      “We are few and very tired...” They heard as the bushes opened and out stepped a young Fox...pure white and looking like she had been attacked repeatedly, hurt and sickly and tired as she took a sip from the puddle and it seemed to help heal her slightly. “I am Yu...a Fox Spirit and guardian of this land... I am honored to see a Rentu here, we need you badly.”

      “So this little puddle has spirit energy in it then?” He asked as she nodded sadly.

      “There are many like this, but in days past the water bubbled up from an everlasting stream underground. Now...its all but shut off. The evil that penetrated the ground is working to starve us out, and for weeks now it has been winning.” She said sadly as Stan looked upset to see things were so bad.

      “So...this connects to a source many times greater than this underground then?” Stan asked as she agreed saying that many like this served to heal the land and its spirits for ages but were now under attack by the dark energy that came from the sky. “Wait...from the sky? When?” He asked as she said that many years ago rocks fell and with them dark energy that swept across the land, killing everything. Over time the energy got less and just attacked animals driving them mad and thats where the Demons of today come from.

      “I’d like to see these dark rocks, but...one thing at a time.” Stan said and he pulled out his Dowel and aimed it at the little puddle and whispered ‘purify this land’ and it started to glow, and after a few minutes even he looked tired and dropped to one knee, but he wouldn’t give up, and after a few more minutes water bubbled up from a small crack, and the hole started to fill again, as the little spirits cheered and dove in and Yu joined them, as Stan smiled and got back to his feet, and the marine Captain was smiling all too wide as he helped Stan as they went back to the camp and Stan got time to rest.

      After a good meal and time for a nap, Stan looked much better and as evening fell, Yu walked out of the woods and joined them and now was the sight of a perfect young woman, with pure white hair and tail and a big smile as she thanked Stanley for his help.

      “There hasn’t been this much energy here for ages, so we the Spirits thank you.” She said and she gave him a peck on the cheek as he just smiled and Helena looked sick someone beat her to it. “Be blessed, Rentu White.” She said as she glowed and Stan did too and everyone there sat back in shock.

      “Getting a Spirits Blessing is almost unheard of.” Glom whispered as Yu heard him and looked a little embarrassed she did it right here, and asked Stan to come with her and they went inside and the entire bus glowed for a while as Helena asked what they were doing in there, and Glim smiled at her worried face.

      “Spirits are not like us, so what you’re worrying about probably isn’t even possible.” She mentioned as everyone chuckled, and Helena looked embarrassed just thinking it.”But Master drove his energy through the land into the very center of the pool beneath us, and opened a new path for the energy and water to resume flowing. That took everything he had, so now that there is plenty of energy for the Spirits again, she is recharging him, I’m sure.”

      “Shes really pretty,” One Marine added as everyone agreed,” she can recharge me any time.” And they laughed as Glim gave them a sour look and the Captain reminded them that Land Spirits weren’t like that, they were mostly energy, and pretty or not she could probably kill them all with a wave of her hand, now that her strength had returned.

      “Like an Angel of times gone by, they serve a higher power.” he said as everyone got less dirty minded, and he sat back smiling too. In a short time they came back out and Stan was glowing even now a little and the energy from him could be felt from a step or two away, as Yu took her leave and disappeared back into the forest and Glom asked if he was going to glow like that all night and Stan just laughed and said he had no idea...but after trying for a few minutes it subsided... and he felt better than he had for a long time, as he sat there poking the fire and smiling.

      “Tomorrow we attack a Dark Rock, Yu says there’s one just a few miles from here, and its the main reason this area is so badly infected. So be ready, I’m sure it’ll be well guarded if its the center of this problem.” he said as everyone agreed and Captain Hans made a call saying the Rentu had gotten a blessing from a Spirit of the Land named Yu, a Fox Spirit, and they were using her information to attack a Dark Rock tomorrow,as his superiors were never more surprised and agreed and told them to be careful, and they all got a good nights sleep and were up at the crack of dawn ready for battle.


      Chapter 14: Day three...the Battle


      Yu was there at dawn, and she never looked stronger. She led them across a ridge line and down a slope into a small gully that was now completely filled with a black fog, and she stop them just short of it saying that any ‘people of the land’ that entered would be attacked and changed and become Demons themselves.

      “Captain, spread your men out here then,” Stan said as they did, and got ready.”Glom and Glim, you watch this side,” he said as they moved to his left.”As always, Helena has my back, so now, lets see whats behind that curtain.” he said and waved his Dowel and made a square in his mind and after a second he called for ‘purification’ and there was a bright blue box sitting there, partially hidden by the fog but slowly the fog lifted or was consumed, as Yu cheered at the sight of it.

      “Just a little longer and we’ll see whats there,” She announced as a wave of Demons ran out and the Marines opened fire and they fell before they got close. Now Glom opened fire with his auto shot gun and soon Glim too. Every Demon nearby was rushing them to stop the work and Stan looked more stubborn than ever as he poured his energy into purifying the land and the evil energy that seeped out of that gully.

      By now Yu called she could see it, and Stan saw a black rock about 4 feet wide just oozing black energy. She called on her friends for help and many small spirits jumped in and surrounded the rock, pouring energy into it too and the fog ended and the air got clear.

      “Now Stan, do it now!” She screamed as Stanley dropped his large square and took a deep breath and made a much smaller one just big enough to surround the rock and called for ‘white light of purification’ that Yu had taught him. The next few minutes things went into overdrive. Demons rushed from everywhere and the little box lit up so bright even the Demons had to look away. Some close by returned to normal and ran away, as others kept attacking and died in a hail of gunfire.

      The rock itself started snapping and popping and soon small bits fell off and disappeared and after a while, and a dozen or more Demon attacks, the rock disappeared into dust, as Stan fell to his knees with sweat dripping from his nose onto the ground, and Yu looked down at him with a huge grin and said she was right about him, and disappeared in a flash of white light.

      “Its over...” Captain Hans said as even his men looked exhausted, and Glom helped Stan back to his feet and they went back to camp and for the first time in a while saw regular animals along the way, dancing and running everywhere as Helena smiled and said the curse was broken.

      They sat down and rested and after a while as Stan had a snack and some coffee, the Captain sat down next to him all smiles and said that he was right, trouble does follow him, as they both laughed.

      “If Yu was right, then this whole region will be free from Demons now.” He said as the young officer nodded, all smiles.

      “Then why the grim looks, we did well and saved many people and animals today.” he said as Stanley agreed, sadly.

      “She also said that other Spirits had told her these things dropped all over the world, bits here and there everywhere. Thats what started the Demon Wars all those ages ago. We cleared one small rock and saved a lot of people. But what about all those other ones, all over the world? It’ll be a lifetime of work just to track them down.” he said as Captain Hans agreed, but added that now that they know what to look for maybe satellite imagining could help, and he called it in and a new research team got built and started right away. Their mission: find every area deep in black fog worldwide, and map them all, and then and only then would they know how many of these rocks had fallen.

      Meanwhile the report made it all the way to the Queen, and she sat back in utter shock. To see spirits was one thing, even she had seen one or two in her lifetime, but to make a pact with one and get her blessing was unheard of, mentioned only in legends from long ago. And now they hunted down and destroyed a Black Rock, an immense evil from ages ago that no one had dared to approach, and purified and saved an entire region, maybe even all the way back to her Capital, in one fail swoop. This new Rentu was doing things that no other had done in centuries, and she was more sure by the day that his name would lead her Kingdom into the future.

      The real problem now was, how to do it? Liz was most certainly not going to marry him and without that their names would end here. Of course they would anyways but a certain pride came over her thinking that they would hold onto their titles as long as possible, even knowing it was for pride only. Stanley’s name would replace them for generations after this and she saw that maybe it had been some huge plan all along, but she didn’t believe deeply in any religion so...maybe Fate...and she was satisfied with that.

      Now to figure out how to basically give the Kingdom to Stan when he was ready...and this was going to take some planning for sure... as she called to report what happened to her friend across the boarder, and he called back and offered a medal for their hard work and she accepted, and a week later they were in dress uniform in the Capital, and two Monarchs were there giving away medals... and the entire world heard the news...that a Rentu strong enough to destroy Black Rocks was here, and offers for his services from all over the world came pouring in.

      Stan thought it was all just too much though, and as they sat in their barracks watching the entertainment channel for a while, as the girls went out for a walk, and Glom sat back smiling and Stan saw something was up.

      “What now?” Stan finally asked as Glom just chuckled.

      “I was asked to find out a few things, if thats OK.” he hinted as Stan rolled his eyes but nodded agreement.”Do you think Helena is pretty or maybe even just cute?”

      “This again?” Stan asked as Glom just shrugged and said until the truth got out no one would be happy, and Stan looked too sad to say anything for a minute. “Shes good looking I guess.” he added as Glom nodded he thought so too.

      “So, why don’t you like her then? Its clear she likes you more than you like her, so I think the pressure is on to see why you’re fighting the idea so much.” Glom mentioned as Stan looked at the floor and looked sadder by the minute.

      “I wasn’t given a choice to come here...” He started as Glom looked surprised,” so when I found out that I was needed and that battles were being fought every day, then I had a reason to be here, and that helped me a lot. Without that, my normal life would have ended without a reason at all. If I hadn’t been the Rentu they wanted, then what? What could a Human do here with a world of sentient animals? Sure, you guys are great and I hope we’re good friends, but its not the same as having girls back home around, girls here are just...too different...for me to think like that yet. I mean the ears and tails are nice and I like a girl with nice hair, but...I wasn’t even dating seriously back home...so its not like its something I miss. The job keeps me going, and helps me not to think about this world I’ve been dropped into. Its just about helping people, so I don’t have to think about other things. For now thats the way it has to be.” He said softly as Glom looked seriously at him as Stan felt the weight of his stare and looked up.

      “You were abducted by the guard they sent for you?” He asked as Stan nodded and told the story.”Then I can see why being here has been a shock, but you’re here now and will be, probably forever, so why not make the most of it?” he asked as Stan nodded but didn’t look convinced.

      “Heres a bit of info I’m sure you don’t know. Even though many communities are very old fashioned, seeing someone naked doesn’t usually end in them getting shunned or expelled. I think it happened because it was YOU who saw her. Her master was having second thoughts, and then you showed up. Now her parents had to make a decision and so they gave her to you, a young Rentu with a promising future. Even if she stayed your student forever, she’d get to see new places and have a more prosperous life than in that small village, so they probably thought they were helping her no matter what.” Glom added as Stan looked surprised.

      “If that happens, usually when asked the girl would say that her parents ‘owned him a great debt’ and let it go at that. Its not that unusual...but for someone to say they are married, shows intent... because marrying them isn’t necessarily part of the deal, thats an option the woman has, and Helena has used it saying shes not just a student, shes your wife, a bold move in my village that would turn heads.” he explained as Stan looked unsure of what to think. “Just keep it in mind, and I’ll try and explain what you said. If done right then maybe this will settle down again for a while.” He added as Stan agreed and the discussion was over for now.


      Chapter 15: Realizing the Truth



      Stan made sure they had time together without him around, as Glom told the story and even Helena looked surprised.

      “He was abducted? I wonder what the Queen would say if she found out?” She asked, because this was not the usual way of doing things.
      “I cant believe it...” Helena said as Glim agreed saying it bordered on barbaric...” My Master is a Racist?? Unbelievable!” She went on as both Glim and Glom looked shocked that she was going that direction with this.

      “I don’t think thats exactly the way he meant that.” Glim mentioned as Helena fumed that she hadn’t seen it sooner.

      “In his defense, we are different from pure bred Humans.” Glom added as Helena just waved it away and kept right on grumbling about not being ‘Human enough’ for him, as both the others saw this wasn’t going away soon.

      “Such a petty little man, and I thought better of him, you wait until I find him!” She went on and stormed out, as Glom looked at his sister and she just shrugged saying she wasn’t going to settle down until she had her say, and they looked sad knowing this could not turn out well in her present mood.

      She looked everywhere and got angrier as she went. She found him checking out the Vehicle and making sure their supplies and fuel were topped off for their next patrol. She stormed over and started screaming, and everyone on the docks looked to see what was happening, as Stan grabbed her arm and threw her inside and closed the door.

      “What is your problem??” he demanded as she went on about being his and he didn’t care, and she gave up a chance at an even better life because of him, and she went on and on until he turned to leave, and she forced the door shut again, and gave him a big hot kiss between screams, and he asked her if that was the way she wanted it? As she looked shocked. “I understand that wolves are strong, fierce animals, but do they all attack someone they care about violently instead of softly and with feelings?” he demanded as she left him know that if he was under attack THEN he’d know it... as he said ‘fine then’ and threw her down on a bed and started taking her cloths off... as she screamed he was being a pig, and several other animals, and he said she started it because she was acting like a tramp, and she screamed it wasnt true, and screamed ...

      “If you think I’m a tramp then I’ll act like it!” And grabbed him and pulled him on top of her and started pulling his cloths off too.

      The dock didn’t get quiet again for a while, and even some workers tried to get a better listen as things went on. But finally things settled down and the word got around that the Rentu was into rough play, and everyone laughed as they came out a while later, and went back to their barracks very quietly, but with big smiles.

      After they got back Stan went for a bath, and Helena curled up on the sofa watching the TV, but her eyes and the look on her face said she wasn’t really there, and her lips had never seen such a smile while they had been together, and Glom looked at her and over at Glim for a second, and she tried to look away so as not to laugh openly. But it was a chore, and finally she slid over next to Helena and asked if it was finally settled, and she smiled and said ‘for tonight it is’ and they laughed as silently as they could, and Helena looked to see if Stan was coming and said she’d tell her about it later, and they both agreed.

      But the story of Stan being knocked out and brought here against his will wouldn’t go away, and after some serious thought a message was sent to their superiors asking if they knew about this...and the Colonel most obviously didn’t. So he sent for Zorn and when he came in and sat down the first thing he asked was if they needed more Rentu candidates and Colonel Harris gave him a sour look that made him think twice.

      “Lets not beat around the bush here,” he declared as Zorn nodded seriously,” did you knock out the last Rentu and force him into your ship and then drop him off here for training?” he asked and his eyes and facial expressions showed he was not pleased even at the thought of it.

      “He was going to run...” Zorn said softly as Harris looked like he’d scream any second. “I didn’t force him intentionally, I showed him the scanner and his readings on it and the feedback was too high for him and he passed out. And since I was told to get the very best I could find, I felt we had no choice, so I brought him back here. I thought he was doing great...everyone’s talking about him, didn’t he just destroy a Black Rock in the Zion Empire?” he asked, as the good Colonel demanded that even if he was a great Rentu, they had many good offers of money and even women and land to get them to come, and people had wondered why Stanley never seemed to ask about any of that, and now they knew for sure.

      “The Queen must be told...” Colonel Harris said as even Zorn looked scared,” shes even considering him for a marriage with her daughter, Elizabeth...and now to find out he thinks he had no choice coming here...he’s a more compassionate and hard working man than I could be under these circumstances.” He said and sent Zorn away and made an appointment to see the Queen, who herself looked surprised to see him looking so sober.

      “Have you ever talked to Rentu White about him coming here from his home world?” he asked as she said it had never come up at the few occasions they were both there, as he nodded seriously, and she looked a little worried.”Zorn left me know that during their initial meeting he saw the Rentu was scared and ready to run trying to escape, so he handed him his scanning device and activated it...not being used to it, he passed out...and Zorn carried him onto the ship and brought him here. He never knew he had a choice, but now works as hard as anyone to live up to our standards. I must say, hearing about this made me angry and happy he works for me at the same time. I couldn’t go on everyday thinking I was little more than a slave.” he added as her eyes looked like they’d fall out.

      “All this time....” She whispered as he nodded saying even thinking he was a slave he worked harder than anyone he had personally met in years.”well... he most certainly is NOT a slave, I’ll see to it he finds out myself, and you see to it Zorn gets an earful, because if he does this again he’ll find himself looking for new people on foot...out in the wastelands!” She declared as Harris nodded and left and she had Stan brought it immediately and he gave her a respectful bow and asked if she needed anything from him.

      “Why didn’t you ever tell anyone you were abducted form your home world?” She asked as he looked curious and asked if that wasn’t normal for getting Rentu...and she jumped up screaming that it certainly wasn’t...and he stepped back thinking he was in deep trouble.

      “We HIRE people to be Rentu, to be able to use the energy here is rare, so rare we have to look for people off world. So to find someone such as yourself is a great thing. People have been given land, titles, and even made Nobles or Royalty because of their deeds. I personally was thinking of asking you to marry my daughter, seriously this time, but to be honest it would never work out anyways...shes has...other preferences, and has found someone important to her. But thats for another time. So I ask you... now that you’re here and have done great things...what do you want more than anything else?” She asked with her nose high and without a seconds thought Stan said ...

      “I want to go home.” And her face fell into despair.


    8. #8
      TXU Full Member Dazzard's Avatar
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      Now you're killing me with the suspense of not knowing what will happen next ._. How can you leave me on such a cliffhanger?!?


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      ahahahahahah hehehehehe hahahahah hehehe got you...cant end it on a weekend after all.


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      OH ALRIGHT HERE..THE END

      Chapter 16: The Return


      “I was afraid you’d say that.” She said softly as Stan asked if it was even possible, and slowly she admitted it was.

      “But your Majesty...I’ve been gone for months now. My parents must think I’m dead or missing at least and to just show up again will start a huge investigation, I’m sure. I’ll need to explain where I was all this time and why I left so suddenly.” he hinted as she nodded and sat down with a thud, and he looked surprised she seemed to let her hair down a bit now that it had come to this, and her Royal stature cracked for a minute as she sat back thinking hard.

      “How long could you explain away then? Days...weeks?” She asked as he said that in the past he had gone camping for two weeks without any trouble, and she nodded and thought about it some more. “Not going into massive technical details...it might be possible to return you to your campsite right where we found you within that time frame. The reason our ships can travel 120+ lightyears in an hour or two is because they use a dimensional shift process...lets just say we control Time while in our travels...so it might be possible to send you back that far and drop you off again.” she said as Stan looked both happy and a little sad, as she saw and she asked if that was really what he wanted, and he slowly agreed.

      “But...” He said as she looked up, “ If I have enough time to make an excuse for why I’m leaving...then I’m not against coming back later on.” he said as she finally smiled again.”Its a nice world you have here...Demons not withstanding...but the biggest thing for me was my parents never knowing why I disappeared, and if I was even alive or not...you understand right?” he asked as she nodded she did and said she’d be more than grateful if he returned again, and the deal was done.

      “It’ll take a day or two to get ready, and since you were never paid for being here some ...compensation...should be arranged.” she said as he looked like a light came on in his eyes and he smiled and said that maybe he had an idea about that, and she sat back to hear what he had in mind.

      The day of his departure he got his old cloths back and got them on and as he walked out to the ship, everyone he had met was standing there, some looking surprised, and some not very happy at all.

      “I’ll be back shortly,” he reminded them as they all agreed and he gave Helena a big wink while everyone pretended not to see. “You’re in charge of the Team until I get back, don’t get them all killed.” He said as she snorted and said she knew better than that, and everyone smiled.

      “I need time to gradate from high school, so about 4 months yet, and then while doing that, I have a plan to show my parents that I’m not going to college, but will be doing just fine anyways.” he said as a few looked curious but didn’t ask, and he checked the little pouch by his side and waved as they went on board and the ship lifted off with everyone watching.

      He was back inside the tube again but this time he knew why. They jumped a second later and as the ship traveled Zorn made sure he knew that he didn’t try to kidnap him, not really, but Stan just laughed and said if he was angry then he wouldn’t be coming back, and Zorn smiled and nodded agreement.

      “I made a lot of good friends here.” Stan said just laying back relaxing.” I cant think of working anywhere else now.” he said as Zorn just smiled and said nothing else until they got back into orbit.

      “It looks like some people are walking all around your campsite.” he said scanning from orbit and Stan agreed saying they might have started looking for him by now...and he beamed down a few meters away and came wandering in all dirty and smiling as his cousin Phil screamed he found him, and Stan laughed and asked why everyone was out here.

      “You missed a week of school...again...” he said loudly as Stan apologized to everyone for making them worry and said he had been busy, and they all rolled their eyes because they had heard it all before.

      “Well come on, lets get your stuff back down home. Your dads furious with you for not calling in, and your mom got the entire high school track team out here looking for you, so be ready for some grumpy teammates when you get to school Monday.” he said as Stan agreed and they tore down his tent and gathered his things and he kept checking to make sure the little coms device was still there, and his little bag of reasons that he wasn’t going to college now, and they went home and he got an earful from everyone he met for a few days.

      “I cant believe it...” His dad said a week later,” a Prospector? You’re giving up a career in ecology to hunt rocks around the world?” he asked as Stan agreed and showed him the few tiny raw diamonds he had excavated from a coal seem on the side of the mountain. They weren’t worth a fortune, but they were somethin, and Stan’s eyes just lit up when he said he ‘found his calling’ and even his mom gave up after a while.

      “Diamonds in Africa...and gemstones of every type and size in nearly every country. Just one good find will make me a rich man, and don’t you worry, I’ll take care of you too.” He went on as finally it became a thing, and people didn’t even ask, because they knew he was just waiting.

      Time went on and soon he got his diploma, and went to a great after graduation party. A couple days laying around and finally a trip to the airport with his Family shaking their heads sadly.

      “Don’t forget to call from time to time.” His mom said as she gave him a hug and Stan agreed,” and stay out of trouble, the worlds a dangerous place for a young man alone.”

      “I’ll be just fine don’t worry.” Stan said and they asked where he was off to now, and he waved his ticket for them all to see...Africa..diamond hunting, he said as many just sighed and said ‘ya ya’ sure’ and they all expected him home before the end of the month.

      The ride was nice and he got off at the Capital just as planned. He mentioned to a cab driver he was a gem hunter and asked about places to look and of course they laughed saying the really good spots were owned by the big companies, and they didn’t share. He got info about a library that had old claims from way back, and he made sure he was seen there too, and then after dark, walked out of his hotel room with his camping equipment and got a ride to the edge of town, and walked out into the bush as the cab driver shook his head and went back to work himself.

      But little did anyone know it was all a plan, and a good one at that, and less than a mile off the road, Stan punched that little button and a transporter beam grabbed him and he was back inside that tube again as he waved and Zorn just laughed and away they went.

      “Did you do as I ask?” Stan asked as Zorn nodded me did.

      “Your camping equipment is set up near a small out cropping of rocks that do contain a few diamonds,” he said as Stan agreed. “If anyone ever looks, there’s a small hole where you were digging,and those notes you made saying that you suspected someone was watching you.” he said as Stan looked sad, but it needed done.

      “Now they will just think I got into trouble out all by myself, and it was all my fault, but they’ll have closure at least this way.” he said as Zorn smiled. This gave them closure, something his kid napping never would have done.”Did Helena get my Team all killed yet?” he asked as Zorn got that big toothy grin of his and reminded him he was ‘only gone 2 weeks’ again, as Stan laughed too and they landed a short while later.


      Chapter 17: Back Home at Last



      The ship touched down softly, and as the ramp lowered, Stan and Zorn walked off with big smiles. Stan had a small bag over his shoulder and his Team watched from the safety of a nearby building as Zorn shook his hand and welcomed him back, and Stan thanked him and came walking in.

      “Now things will get back to normal...” Glom said as he shook Stan’s hand and laughed.

      “Define ‘normal’ I thought we did ok,” Helena added sourly as Glim gave Stan a secretive wink that he saw immediately.

      “She went into ‘Stanley withdrawal’ the second you left, and we only went out on one patrol since, but the vehicles are the cleanest they’ve ever been!” She mentioned as Stan laughed and Helena growled that saying that was unnecessary.

      “Well I’m back now...for good...” Stan announced as everyone got a huge smile.” so we’ll be getting those vehicles dirty real soon, and we’ll get some mileage on them and some traveling done for sure.I’ll meet with the Head of Security right away and see what needs done the most.” he added as Helena left him know things along the Western boarder went very quiet after the Black Stone was destroyed, but Demons still were wandering the land coming in from all around them, and he nodded he understood.

      “Whats in the bag?” Glom asked as Helena gave him a dirty look for rushing things and he just smiled back.

      “Oh, a few little things for my friends.” Stan mentioned as he opened the bag and pulled out a magazine and handed it to Glom.”Not to be looked at in front of the girls...” He said with a wink as Glom looked thrilled and hid it right away under his tunic.

      “I know you can’t order anything but I thought you two might like to see what Earth females wear when they get the chance.” Stan added and handed them both their own magazines with stylish looking women wearing very fine looking cloths on them, as Glim gushed about how pretty they were.”And one more, tiny little thing,” he added as he pulled out a small box and flipped it open to show a gold band made very nicely with engravings all around it, and he took Helena’s hand and slid in on her finger as she looked shocked and surprised and Glim asked why she didn’t get one and he laughed.

      “We both have one that match each other, see?” he said holding up his left hand,” On my world these signify a marriage, together for life they say, and since Helena has demanded we were married all this time, now we’re officially married...on two worlds.” he added as Glim cheered for her and Helena gave him a big hug and admitted she missed him and he kissed her forehead and smiled at her happily.” You’ll not get rid of me now, so its too late for you to run.” He whispered as she huffed that she could always run...but she was smiling way too wide to have anyone think she would.

      “As far as that other thing goes...” They heard as Captain Hans walked up and gave Stan a snappy salute that he returned.” The Queen wants to see you before we go out running around again.I think she finally came up with some plan for you and Elisabeth.” he added as Helena growled and he stepped back saying he was only the messenger, and she left it go after a second.

      “I cant see this taking long, we both know Liz has no interest in me at all, so lets get this over with then.” he said as everyone piled into their vehicle, and they went to see what was going on and Stan got his uniform on while they drove, and when they entered the Mansion gates they were met by a group of people that seemed very happy to see them.

      Stan stepped out and the Queen and Elisabeth were there with several others, including an attractive young Lynx girl that gushed she finally got to meet him in person.

      “Rentu White ,you know Elisabeth my daughter, and this is Hillary, her private assistant and life partner.” The Queen said as Stan just smiled and shook her hand, knowing in that second things became a lot clearer.”Its no surprise that as the most powerful Rentu for a century, that I wanted you in the Royal Family, but as you can see that cant happen...that way...” She hinted as everyone gasped and Stan waited to see what was really going on.

      “I never had a son and cant, but we need a male child to carry on the Kingdom under a new name after we retire from public life. That was my plan all along, so please accept this instead. I want to adopt you, that makes you Elisabeth’s brother and heir to the throne, what do you say?" She added as everyone looked shocked and a few a bit faint as Liz announced that her and Hillary had no intention of fighting it, because her and her mother came to an understanding, and she was happy with that, as Stan nodded all smiles and said he was happy for her and she smiled too for the first time in a while, and said that she wanted him to know he really was the best choice, but just not for her, as everyone got a chuckle and he agreed.

      “I don’t think I’d be a very good Prince though.” he added as the Queen just smiled and said she had faith in him. He made friends easily and would help bring the Kingdom closer together, and after a few minutes discussing it he agreed, but mentioned that his duties as Rentu had to come first, as both Liz and her mother agreed

      They had a table already set up there and the Royal Family signed some papers and so did Stanley, and in a matter of minutes a Legend was born.

      Rentu Stanley White known for all time as the Traveling King, because he never really felt comfortable in the Mansion until he grew older and retired as Rentu. His lovely wife Helena gave birth to several healthy children and the Royal Family had heirs for another generation at least.

      They traveled the world, slowly wiping out every Black Rock they found and slowly the entire world got better,and Demons became rarer and rarer. Now, centuries later, they are something mentioned in tales told to children to scare them, about black glowing things that silently crept up on the unwary. But the Royal Academy of Sciences knew that nothing in the Universe happens just once, and if the Black Rocks fell once, they would again, and so Rentu’s were trained for every generation, and became athletes for show, but they never forgot that someday...they would fight again.


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