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Spyro: Legacy of Dragon Force Book I


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In this Spyro series, the purple dragon we all love is taking on a new look... and a new quest. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the first book in this series, Spyro: Legacy of Dragon Force Book One: Birth of Dragon Force


Legacy of Dragon Force

Book One: Birth of Dragon Force


Vacation Ideas

A vacation. That’s exactly what Spyro thought he needed. To Avalar, perhaps? Visit his old friend, Alora? Or maybe to the beaches of Dragon Shores? Spyro couldn’t decide. What he knew for sure was that he and Cynder needed a vacation. Someplace peaceful, but adventurous at the same time. Someplace with untold treasures and no perilous danger.

So, as Spyro approached his lover, his girlfriend, and for all intents and purposes, his wife, Cynder slept peacefully. If she knew of Spyro’s plans, she certainly didn’t make any indication.

But she spoke before Spyro could. “You want to take a vacation, huh?”

“How did you know?” Spyro asked.

“I couldn’t help but overhear you talking to Hunter and Bianca about it.” Cynder replied. She lifted her head and opened her beautiful, sapphire-blue eyes.

“And... you did what?” Spyro inquired.

“I dug around for Moneybags.” Cynder answered.

“Moneybags?” Spyro repeated. “What does he have to do with any of this?”

“He found a place that perfectly fits your vacation ideas.” Cynder responded.

Spyro sighed and shook his head. “Sweetheart, you know I don’t trust Moneybags,” he said. He looked to her and added, “For all we know, he could have been paid to back-stab us, and I’d end up paying yet another monumental sum--” The rest of his words were cut off when Cynder kissed Spyro.

“I don’t trust the greedy bear, either,” she whispered. “But I want to go there.”

“But, Cynder--” Spyro protested.

“It has an oasis, darling,” Cynder interrupted, circling behind Spyro. “A beautiful... romantic... oasis.”

Spyro’s romantic side kicked in as he faced Cynder. “Maybe with palm trees... coconut drinks... all the food we can eat... and the unfound treasures...” He snapped back in a millisecond. “What’s the catch?”

“We have to take Hunter and Bianca with us.” Cynder replied. Spyro raised an eye ridge.

“Just them?”

“Well, when you put it that way,” Cynder responded, “Agent Nine has been bragging about this place, and he would be a good guide. On top of that, you promised Sheila that you’d take her with us on your next vacation.”

“Yeah,” Spyro murmured, “And I know for a fact that Sergeant Byrd needs a break from the hustle-and-bustle of his military life.” He looked into Cyder’s pleading eyes.

Dammit, he thought. Every time he looked into Cynder’s pleading eyes, he felt romantically compelled to do as she asked.

“Alright, you win,” he said. “Get the others. I’ll pack our bags.”

Cynder smiled, kissed Spyro lightly, and dashed off.

* * *

Moneybags read the note carefully, so he knew there were no mistakes. The one who gave him the note was very specific. He even gave him a massive sum. The note contained a single, cryptic message: “The Rhinoharadan requires the following individuals: Spyro and Cynder Nightscales, Hunter and Bianca Warmage, Sergeant Byrd, Sheila Kangaroo, and Agent Nine. Bring them all to the designated coordinates or not at all.”

While he was tempted to question the motives of this “Rhinoharadan,” he was paid another hefty sum to shut up. Whatever this secret organization wanted with Spyro and his friends, he could only trust it was for their own good. Or to save yet another world. Moneybags didn’t know for sure.

He stuffed the note into a pocket in his new tuxedo when he heard the voices coming around a corner. Agent nine was the first around the corner, with his monkey tail twitching this-way-and-that and his energy sidearm in its holster. Next around the corner was Sgt. Byrd. The penguin noncom didn’t have his shoulder-mounted bird-to-air missile launchers. Moneybags shuddered as he remembered his last encounter with those, which involved Moneybags getting blown through a wall.

After Byrd was Sheila, the first companion Spyro freed in the forgotten world. After her was Hunter and Bianca Warmage, the couple that married after Spyro found love in Cynder. The “Warmage” part of their name they agreed to adopt upon marriage, reflecting Bianca’s magical skills and Hunter’s warrior prowess. Last around the corner was the fairly-new happy couple, Spyro and Cynder Nightscales. When they “married,” they had learned – by chance or design – how to stand upright. Thus increased in stature and fame, Spyro and Cynder walked upright whenever they deemed it prudent—which was normally when they were away from their home. After they married, they developed a sense of modesty, and wore clothes outside of home.

With the exception of Agent Nine, none of them were armed. Good. The Rhinoharadan contact asked for them to come unarmed. Moneybags had warned his Rhinoharadan contact about Agent Nine, and he said he’d already known of him, and therefore knew of his tendency to go anywhere armed.

As the party approached Moneybags, He could hear Agent Nine talking. “... Just let me do the talking. While the people there speak our language, most prefer to stick to their native tongue.”

“Don’t you thing that going armed will attract attention?” Spyro asked.

“No worries,” Agent Nine responded. “They know me. I am welcome to carry arms to their world.”

“If you say so,” Hunter murmured.

“Ready to go?” Moneybags asked.

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” Sheila replied. Moneybags nodded, then began to fiddle with the controls of the portal. Seconds later, the portal was open. Nine stuck his head through, and then jumped in. A split second later, he called out, “Come on down, and watch your step.” Everyone entered the portal, one by one, until the last person went through and Moneybags shut the Portal down. He took the note out of his pocket and noticed an insignia on one of the folded faces.

It wasn’t one he recognized, as it had three dual-bladed wrist blades in a Y formation and a red eye in the middle. Moneybags paid this little heed as he shredded the note, erasing any evidence of his involvement in this... whatever it was.

Regardless, it would be good to be away from them for a while...

* * *

Agent Nine led the team through a twisting series of dark halls and eerily-silent rooms until they came upon a door. When Nine opened it, bright light shone through. It took a few seconds for Spyro’s eyes to focus. When they did, what he saw was truly unbelievable; a bustling city-port of walking, bipedal dragons. Agent Nine looked one way, then the other, and proclaimed,

“Ah! There it is.” He led the party to one such dragon figure wearing a set of ruby-red red armor with two sword hilts clipped to D-rings on his belt. He held up a clawed hand and asked,

“Idtufkki’catus paprees, elpps?”

Agent Nine reached into a pocket and retrieved a small book. He flipped it open and flashed whatever was on the first page to the requesting dragon. The dragon studied the papers, then spoke.

“Vatn wenn. Haat ish youk’r bussnuse id Dragonaria fuer?”

When Agent Nine replied to whatever the dragon person was asking, he spoke in the same language. “Ves pled’ett a vakett’catus tok thi osias hert.”

The dragon laughed. “Ith youk’r pled’innt tok goff tert bei boit, seff thi habru mas’krim.” the dragon person opened the gate he was standing in front of, and Agent Nine led the party through.

“What was that about?” Bianca asked.

“He just said to see the harbormaster if we want to board the boat, which to do so, you need passports, which I had pre-made prior to coming here.” Agent Nine stated.

“What, did you plan to take us all here?” Spyro inquired.

“At one point or another, yes.” Nine replied. He opened the door, led the party up a flight of stairs, and the Harbormaster was seen talking to a sailor.

“Recladd’tess okh youk’r feil’innt’ss, ish waast ip’pruttor beheffoir,” the harbormaster said. The sailor grumbled and walked off, visibly irritated. Agent Nine walked up, flashed what Spyro and the others could assume were his identification papers, and said,

“Ves wutr tolk tok seff youk abott burrd’innt thi boit.”

“Ah! Ikh n’kenn youk!” the harbormaster exclaimed. “Hagk odn, Ikh heff youk’r pesspurt ofdur hert.” The harbormaster retreated to the back of the room he was in, and came back a moment later with several passports. “Juss schou theesh tok thi gaurdd ath thi burrd’innt ranp.”

“Thakk youk,” Agent Nine said. As the others turned and left with Agent Nine, they looked at their passports.

“I can’t even read mine,” Bianca complained.

“You don’t need to,” Nine stated. “The only people that need to read it are the Dragonarian guards.”

“Jeez,” Spyro mumbled. “I look cheesy in this photo.”

“It’s not that bad, Spyro,” Cynder said. She put her left arm through Spyro’s right, and they walked like a happy couple.

They came to the boarding ramp, and the guard held up a hand. “Youk’r paprees, elpps?”

Agent nine flashed his passport, and the others followed suit. The guard studied them closely, then stopped at Spyro. He looked at the photo, then at Spyro, then back at the photo. Spyro could tell he wanted to burst out laughing, but passed it off as a snort. Before he was overcome with laughter, he motioned for them to board the boat. As they headed up the boarding ramp, Spyro looked over his shoulder in time to see the guard snicker to himself.

As the party got onto the boat, they heard a guitar playing notes.

“Thought so,” Nine mumbled, leading the group to a dining hall with a stage at the far end. And on that stage was another of the bipedal dragons. He sat in a half-crouch, ready to spring up at a moment’s notice, with a guitar in his lap. He played a peculiar melody, one Spyro had never heard. The party approached this person, and noticed he had his eyes closed.

As if he sensed their presence, he opened up his ruby-red dragon eyes. “You must be the elusive Agent Nine,” he said. His gaze studied the group until they fell upon Spyro. He stared at him, his face showing no visible expression, until he spoke, “Gretunnos, Spyro Nightscales.”

Spyro got the distinct impression that “Gretunnos” meant “greetings.”

“I... see that you’ve heard of me,” Spyro answered.

“More or less,” the dragon said. “My name is Keldon’takk Assinara, but most call me Kell.”

“Keldon’takk Assinara?” Cynder repeated.

“It means ‘Merciless Assassin,’” Nine stated.

“And it is something I am not,” the dragon added, looking over the dining hall and back to Spyro and his group. “Look, I’ll be blunt – any of you know how to work musical instruments? My band was supposed to show up, and they never did, so I’m a few men short.”

“I used to play a mean guitar in high school, if you need a hand,” Bianca said.

“And I played drums in my grade school years as part of a band my friends and I came up with,” Hunter added.

“I can also play guitar, if you need another.” Sheila stated.

“Cool,” Kell replied. “Get up here and get tuned up. I’m supposed to be playing in a few minutes.” Looking to Byrd, Nine, Spyro and Cynder, he added, “You four just... find a seat, no offense.”

Cynder smiled. “None taken.” she answered. She and Spyro sat at a table in the front row. Seconds later, an alien waiter approached them. He was dressed in a white tunic, with muscular arms and legs, white pants, clawed five-fingered hands, and the head of a cobra, complete with lavender-tinted skin and ivory-white fangs protruding from his upper lip.

“May I get you anything?” he asked in a serpentine voice. “Food, drinks, appetizers?”

“What’s there to drink?” Spyro inquired.

“Well, we have my personal favorite, Kemorainian mead, then there’s Dragonarian Jek’ari’s Ale...” The waiter said.

“Are they alcoholic?” Cynder queried.

“No,” the waiter responded. “Dragonarian and Kemorainian beverages aren’t alcoholic. It’s the Terran drinks you want to watch out for.”

“Thanks for the advice,” Spyro said. “How much are Dragonarian and Kemorainian drinks?”

“If you came onto this boat by passport, they’re free,” the waiter replied. “If you came by boat tickets, they’re both twenty credits – or, for ones such as you, three gems each.”

Spyro raised an eye ridge. He and Cynder showed their passports, and the waiter queried, “Very well... what’ll it be? Be advised, Jek’ari’s ale comes only in one-liter bottles, and Kemorainian mead comes in twenty-ounce glasses and thirty-ounce bottles and cans.”

“Kemorainian mead, thirty-ounce cans,” Spyro and Cynder said simultaneously. The waiter chuckled.

“Good choice,” he commented. “We don’t get many couples that ask for that. I’ll be right back.” As the waiter left, Spyro looked around. There were more people in the dining hall than when Spyro saw it a few minutes ago. They all varied in race. He thought he could see a few Rhynocs, but he banished the image from mind. He saw humans, Dragons, Foxes, Moles, and...

... He squinted at the figure he saw sitting directly across from him. A faun, with her back turned to him. “Alora?” he inquired.

The faun turned her head. There was no doubt. It was her. “Spyro!” she exclaimed. “What’re you doing here?”

“I was going to an oasis for a vacation,” Spyro answered. “You?”

“Same thing,” Alora commented. “Moneybags talked me into coming here.”

“Same here... sorta.” Spyro said. No sooner than he said this, Kell started playing a melody different than what Spyro heard when he came in. After a few moments, he began to sing.

I’m still trying to figure out how to tell you

I was wrong.

I can’t fill the emptiness inside since you’ve been gone.

So is it you, or is it me?

I know I said things that I didn’t mean

but you should’ve known me by now...”

Even as he sang, both Spyro and Cynder could detect the subtle changes. This song was painful for him to sing. Cynder could see the single tear that dropped from his eye as he played.

... If you believed when I said

I’d be better off without you,

then you never really knew me at all.

If you believed when I said

That I wouldn’t be thinking about you

you thought you knew the truth, but you’re wrong.

You’re all that I need,

Just tell me that you still believe.”

Spyro could see the pain in the song becoming more evident. Hell, he could practically feel Kell’s pain. If anyone else saw the tears on his face, they didn’t say anything about it, not even after the song ended. After the applause, a piano could faintly be heard. Abruptly, Kell’s entire demeanor went from one side of the spectrum to the other in less than a second, and he began,

Despite the lies that you’re making,

Your love is mine for the taking.

My love is just waiting

to turn your tears to roses.”

The guitars and drums almost went wild in a up-beat, spirited melody that Spyro and Cynder could feel lifting the weight of the past from their shoulders. As far as Spyro could tell, this was going to be a great vacation...

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OMG Spyro is brilliant! I've only played 1-3 though, so I'm not too sure about what happened in the others, but I know who most people are (Cynder? Google :D) so I'll read it now.

Wow, nothing's gone wrong so far (but what will?) and it seems Moneybags is a villain again.

Is the professor going to be in this? But don't spoil it for me! This seems interesting!

Hurry up spyrojam86 with a new Spyro video!

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Hey, don't sweat it - I'm currently on Book III. Books I & II are already finished. Anyway...

Chapter One

Echoes of the Past

Spyro awoke with a gasp. Something had woken him... a sound. An echo, distant and faint. Cynder stirred gently next to him. Spyro looked up to find that the ceiling of his room wasn’t there. He saw beautiful stars, and then...

... He heard it again. The eerie echo. He looked around to see what was causing the source, but couldn’t find anything. He looked up once more, and caught a glimpse of a giant rock before his eyes snapped open for a second time. He was in bed, but Cynder wasn’t with him. Spyro looked up to the ceiling, and it was where it was supposed to be. He simply stared at the ceiling, trying to figure out what that giant rock in the stars was, oblivious to Cynder walking in.

“See something up there?” she asked. Spyro jumped at the sound of her voice. She frowned. “Are you alright? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I... I had a rough night,” Spyro admitted. “I had a strange dream.”

“What did you see?” Cynder queried.

“I’m not sure... it looked like a giant... rock... in space.” Spyro stated.


“Oddly enough, in the skies above this world, whatever it’s called.”

“Dragonaria IV.”


“That’s what this world is called. Dragonaria IV. Agent Nine told me.”


“By the way,” Cynder said, “Did you know Kell invited us to the holographic Program room?”

“What is it?” Spyro asked.

“It’s a room where you can live adventures that you would read about in books,” Cynder replied.


“He’s waiting for us now.”

“Then let’s go.” Spyro stated. He hurried into his clothes and followed Cynder until they came upon Kell standing near a set of double-doors.

“It’s about time you guys showed up,” he commented. “Any later and I’d have called this thing off.”

“You know damn good and well, you call off anything good on my vacation, I’ll burn you.” Spyro remarked.

“Yeah, you keep talking smack, you’re liable to make me kick you down a set of stairs,” Kell stated. The three of them shared a laugh as Hunter, Bianca and Agent Nine came up.

Spyro couldn’t help but feel spirited. In the past three days of his vacation, he’d warmed up to Kell, and vice versa.

“So,” Hunter said, “What are we doing?”

“Thought you’d ask that,” Kell stated. He turned to the computer panel and tapped in a few commands. The computer spoke,

“Command code?” it requested.

“Four-seven-eight-Beta-Tango-Alpha.” Kell replied. The computer beeped in response, and a list of programs appeared. “How’s cliff racing on Dragonaria II sound?” he asked.

“Cliff racing?” Bianca asked.

“Sounds good to me,” Nine responded.

“Hold on a second,” Spyro interrupted. There was something he saw on the list. Looking to Kell, he asked, “May I?”

“Certainly,” Kell answered. Spyro scrolled through the list until he saw what caught his attention at the center of the list. The program was marked “Boonta Eve Swoop Race,” and the description described a fast, deadly race in the canyons of Tatooine. Of course, from what Cynder told Spyro of Holo-programs, such deadliness meant nothing with the holographic safety measures.

“Let’s try this one,” Spyro said, highlighting the program.

Kell blinked a few times, and Spyro and Cynder could see the subtle expression on his face. He was worried. Why?

“You have to be joking,” he finally said. “Since when did you get into swoop racing?”

“There’s a first for everything,” Spyro said, ignoring Kell’s tension.

“True, but I... strongly disagree,” Kell protested.

“Why?” Spyro asked. “Afraid you’ll lose?”

Kell frowned. “Am not!” he exclaimed with a smile. Though Spyro didn’t notice it, Cynder did; he was worried, scared. But there was no logic to his fear.

“Don’t goad him, Spyro,” Hunter warned. Spyro ignored him and hit the ACTIVATE command for the program.

“Please,” he said, “It’s just a race. How bad could it be?” As the others filed into the room, Cynder could see the message that played across Kell’s face. He didn’t speak it as he stared at the floor, but Cynder knew what he was saying;

It’s worse than you know.

As Cynder and Kell entered the room, the door disappeared behind a holographic mirage of a massive, expansive desert. On either side of the group were bleachers, filled with cheering fans. As Spyro, Hunter, Bianca and Nine got on their respective swoops, Cynder noticed Kell staring intently at the desert expanse before them. Something was wrong. This was her last chance to end this and avert a potential disaster.

“Are you alright?” she asked. Kell didn’t answer, he just stared at the desert expanse. “Kell,” she said gently.

Kell snapped out of his reverie, blinked, and looked to Cynder. “Did you say something?”

“I was asking if you were alright,” Cynder stated.

“Yeah... I’m fine.” Kell responded.

Cynder looked imploringly at Spyro. He nodded. He got the message. Something was wrong with Kell.

“Hey, man... if you have a problem with this program, tell me, and we’ll do something else.” he said.

Kell shook his head. “No, no problem.” he said.

Strange. A moment ago, Kell was reluctant to start this program, now he was eager to finish it. Spyro looked to the sky, and he heard it again; the echo. Faint. Lingering. Calling out.

Spyro banished the echo from his awareness. It was time to race. The announcer gave the order to start engines, and all six of them did so.

When the gong rang, all six swoop bikes raced forward, kicking up a cloud of dust in the process.

* * *

The first circuit of the race was flawless, more or less. But Bianca knew all too well that something was wrong. Everyone was worried about Kell. It was decided a quarter into the second circuit that letting him win would diffuse the situation. If Kell could hear the chatter between them over the private channels, he certainly didn’t show it. In fact, he showed even more ominous signs that the situation was getting worse. There was something in these canyons that he saw. Or knew about. Something that had happened in the past, perhaps? There was no way to be sure. About a third of the way into the final circuit, everyone knew that there was no way Kell would make it to the finish line. His breathing was getting more and more rapid with each minute, and everyone could see the expressions of horror on his face. Spyro tried to end the program with Kell’s command code, to no avail. The code was useless unless spoken by Kell. No one could snap Kell out of his reverie. He was more and more disturbed by whatever he was seeing. As they entered the final stretch, Bianca – with her perceptive grip of sorcery – sensed things were about to go from bad to impossibly worse. Behind her was Nine, Cynder and Hunter. Ahead of her was Kell and Spyro. And Kell was drifting toward a service ramp. Spyro screamed at Kell, trying to wake him up, and Bianca tried to get into his mind and end Kell’s dream remotely.

But she had a tough time as Kell drifted ever closer to the ramp. This was their last chance. It was now or never. Bianca forced her way into Kell’s mind, and at last, saw the true extent of the danger. She was in a dark, gray canyon, almost an exact replica of the Tatooine canyon. Kell still drifted closer to the ramp. In the sky, a massive battle raged between alien ships. It was war that Kell was dreaming of. And she heard it; a faint, distant echo.

Bianca focused all her energy on ending this vision – for the both of them – but it was too late. Kell crashed through the gate, raced up the service ramp, and shot high up into the air, clearing the canyon at the same time the others did. Kell’s swoop crashed and crumbled upon impact with the ground, fragments tumbling in every direction. Kell was sent flying for a good fifty feet, and skipped across the ground like a rock as the vision finally ended. They were back on Tatooine. Kell had still crashed, and Spyro raced past him and across the finish line. The program ended.

But it was far too late. Bianca could sense a power emanating from Kell that she didn’t think possible. She knew it was too late. God help them all.

* * *

By the time Spyro had finished the race, he knew that something was terribly wrong. Kell was seeing something in the Canyons of Tatooine that no one else saw. Even as the program ended, and Tatooine dissolved around them, Kell continued to breathe rapidly.

“Spyro, don’t get too close,” Bianca warned.

“What do you expect me to do, let him die?!” Spyro exclaimed. “We have to help him!”

Hunter was the first to try to do just that. “Hey—Kell, it’s over! The program’s over! Wake up!”

Hunter’s words didn’t help. Kell continued to breathe rapidly. Then, that breathing turned to mumbling so fast in Dragonarian, Nine hadn’t a clue what he said. It then turned to yelling, then finally morphed into a blood-curdling war cry. The floor shook beneath them. Kell dropped to his hands and knees, screaming Dragonarian war cries as the cruise ship shook beneath them. When it all stopped, Kell stopped breathing.

But it was far from over. Hunter knelt down beside Kell, who was now lifelessly still.

“Hunter, Spyro,” Bianca said as calmly as possible, “Step away from him. Now.”

“It’s okay, I think it’s over,” Hunter replied.

“No, Hunter. It’s not,” Bianca murmured.

“How do you know?” Hunter asked.

As if to answer his question, Kell came up with a fist and upper-cut Hunter in the jaw.

“Hey, man, take it--” Hunter never finished his sentence before Kell whirled around and kicked Hunter in the abdomen, sending him flying across the room and into the room’s door control panel. He slammed into it with a loud wham, and as he fell, the control panel sparked and died. The door, previously open, slammed shut and locked.

Drat. Double drat. Triple drat. They were stuck in a room with a Ryukaissen Dragonarian gone haywire. Before Bianca could warn him, Spyro readied himself for a fight. Everyone in the room saw the look on Kell’s face. His eyes were obsidian black, glowing with a blood-red outline.

“Cool it, Kell—There’s no need for--” Spyro began. The rest of his words were cut off as Kell rushed Spyro at an impossible speed and connected a blow to his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Spyro gasped for air like a dying fish, and Kell snarled a dragon snarl as he seized Spyro by the neck and lifted him off his feet. With what little air Spyro had, Spyro worked up a flame and spat it as Kell brought his nose up to Spyro’s. Surprised, Kell staggered backward. Spyro took this moment to recover and try to get through to Kell.

“Kell, calm you fury! The program’s over!”

“No,” Kell growled, his face showing an expression of sheer rage, “The war’s not over – not by a long shot.”

“War?” Spyro repeated. “There is no war! What’re you talking--” Spyro was cut off as Kell kicked Spyro in the chest and sent him flying into the wall. Drained by this blow, Spyro crumpled to the floor in a heap, and he heard Cynder screaming for him. He heard a disembodied voice cry, “Nach Ghrel Maq’Migh!” as everything went black, and the last thing he heard was the echo he’d heard in his dream.

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Have you got a http://www.fanfiction.net/ account? You should post it there as well as here :)

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My problem with FanFiction.net is I NEVER GET AN ANSWER there! I'm like a f***ing ghost there. Anyway...

Chapter Two

Tales of the Past

Spyro heard a faint beeping noise. And he could hear his heart beating in his ears. Strangely enough, the beep sounded at the exact moment his heart beat. He opened his eyes, and found himself in a secluded Medical Bay. Hunter was on a bed across from him, and a voice stated,

“Welcome back, Mr. Nightscales.” Spyro turned his head slowly to see a Terran doctor standing over him with a scanning device, scanning his bandaged head. Spyro looked down and saw his chest was bandaged.

“What happened?” Spyro groaned.

“You suffered a severe head trauma, your spine came close to snapping, and your right lung was one step shy of being punctured by a broken rib.” The doctor replied. “Frankly, you’re lucky to be alive, given how much you bled internally. Luckily, your attacker had a change of heart and stopped the internal bleeding, and I was able to save you.”

Attacker? Spyro then remembered it all; how he’d goaded Kell into participating in a swoop race in the Tatooine Canyons, and Kell’s power-induced rampage.

“Where is Kell?” Spyro asked.

“He’s around, but there are others who want to see you first,” the doctor said as Bianca and Cynder walked in. Cynder had tears flowing like rivers down her face.

“Hi, baby,” she said with a trembling voice. She kissed Spyro tenderly.

“Is Hunter okay?” Spyro inquired.

“He is, surprisingly enough, more or less unharmed,” The Doc answered. “You got the worst of the injuries, by far. Mr. Warmage only suffered a mild head trauma and some bruises, so he’ll wake up with a bit of a headache.”

Cynder sniffled. “Oh, Spyro... It’s all my fault,” she cried as she buried her head in Spyro’s chest. “I should have stopped this when I had the chance—averted disaster before it struck.”

Spyro shushed his wife and looked to the Doc. “What caused Kell to snap?” he queried.

“It was a memory,” Bianca stated, taking the unconscious Hunter’s hand. “He’s a veteran of three wars, and the memory that caused him to... snap... was one of the final battle of the third Kemoran War.”

“But--” Spyro protested.

“With all due respect, Mr. Nightscales, Mrs. Warmage is right; he was having a flashback of the Massacre of Kemoran IV.” The doc interrupted.

“What happened at the Massacre of Kemoran IV?” Spyro asked.

The doc heaved a sigh. “The Massacre of Kemoran IV is, to date, the greatest unsolved war mystery in the galaxy. Kemoran IV was destroyed – so to speak – by an antimatter device enhanced with a tri-cobalt Quantum-Atomic Graviton warhead. When the device detonated under the surface of the planet, well over twenty million Kemorainians were killed simultaneously within the span of a few seconds.” The doc explained.

“But the planet wasn’t completely destroyed... was it?” Cynder inquired.

“Not completely,” the doc affirmed. “The graviton warhead rendered the planet into a graveyard world, surrounded by a fleet of dead ships. Some call it a giant rock in space, but all historians know it to be the graveyard of the Kemorainian Imperial Remnant and the site of the Old Kemorainian Empire’s last stand.”

“What does this have to do with Kell?” Spyro asked.

“Keldon’takk Assinara was the only known non-Kemorainian survivor of the Massacre that was planetside,” Doc replied. “If you seek answers to his past, they lay buried in his head beneath layers of repressed memories and mental trauma. However, I think it best if you not go digging in his past; the captain of this ship was able to keep the incident quiet, but if it happens a second time, he won’t be able to do so again. Clear?”

Spyro nodded. As the doc went to Hunter’s side, Cynder kissed Spyro gently. “I don’t know what I would have done,” she cried.

“It’s not your fault, Cynder,” Spyro said. Looking up at the ceiling, he added, “If anything, the blame lies with me, for creating the situation and bringing this memory out.”

“No,” Cynder whispered, turning Spyro’s head to face her. “Don’t beat yourself up. How could you have known?” She sniffled, then lay her head on Spyro’s chest. He looked to the doc as he placed a hand on his wife’s cheek.

“Doc... what’s the connection between Kell’s flashback and the... power-induced rage he nearly killed me in?”

“Well, in Terrans, such flashbacks of mental traumas is common, sometimes resulting in violent rampages. But in Dragonarians... it’s much more complicated,” the doc explained.

“Please,” Bianca said hoarsely. “In Dragonarians, such flashbacks are exceedingly rare. They can push their traumas into their unconscious minds and forget about them. But very rarely does a Dragonarian – especially a Ryukaissen Dragonarian – have a flashback. Only one out of thirty million are unable or unwilling to forget such things.”

“Moreover,” the Doc added, “only one out of six billion Dragonarians go into blood rage upon such flashbacks. In their medical history, when they have a flashback – such as the one that induced Mr. Assinara’s blood rage – their minds distort reality. In essence, they literally re-live such memories.”

There was a groan from Hunter as he woke up. As Bianca comforted him, the Doc approached Spyro and Cynder.

“Mister and Misses Nightscales, there is... something else I’d like to discuss.” he said. “Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary? Did any enemy of yours follow you here?”

“None that we’re--” Cinder started.

“Actually,” Spyro interrupted, “I thought I saw a few Rhynocs here, but I only caught a glimpse of them—not enough for a positive ID. Why?”

“I think this will interest you,” the doc stated. “Mr. Assinara gave me permission to access his private holo-programs. They are quite interesting, but the one you activated – the alleged ‘Boonta Eve Swoop Race’ – was not created by Mr. Assinara. In fact, it’s addition to his list of holo-programs was on Drakkus 3, 4018 – two days ago.”

“So you believe that whoever created that program intended for Kell to kill me?” Spyro surmised.

“Not only that,” the doc affirmed, “but this program is a copy of another – the historical program of the Battle of Kemoran IV. The parameters were altered to make it look like the desert world of Tatooine – seen only in the Terran sci-fi series Star Wars, I might add – and the goal parameters were altered to make it end whenever someone won the ‘race,’ but there is no mistake; the program was meant to manipulate Mr. Assinara into killing off you and anyone in the room you were in.”

“So someone on this ship wants us dead?” Cynder inquired.

“That’s why I had Mr. Assinara hidden here and silent. He has a request to make of you,” the doc said.

No sooner than the doc said this, Kell appeared out of thin air. He wore a crimson set of battle armor, with his hands clasped behind his back and an emotionless expression on his face.

“Doctor, leave us.” Kell ordered. The doc complied. As soon as he was out the door, Kell spoke, “First of all, I wanted to apologize for the way in which I nearly killed you.” Even as he said this, a single tear fell from his left eye.

Spyro looked to Cynder and back at Kyle and said, “The way I see it, you atoned for that when you saved my life.”

“Secondly, before I go on, there is someone who wants to speak to you,” Kell stated. He gestured, and a window slid open. Seconds later, Sparx, Spyro’s dragonfly companion, zipped through the window holding a note.

“Sparx?” Spyro inquired, “What’re you doing here?”

“Later,” Sparx stated, tossing the note to Spyro and Cynder. “Read that.”

Spyro unfolded the hastily-assembled note and read aloud, “The Rhinoharadan requires the following individuals: Spyro and Cynder Nightscales, Hunter and Bianca Warmage, Sergeant Byrd, Sheila Kangaroo, and Agent Nine. Bring them all to the designated coordinates or not at all.”

“Who are the Rhinoharadan?” Hunter groaned.

“Beats me,” Spyro said. “I’ve never heard of them.”

“No one has,” Bianca put in.

“On the contrary,” Kell stated. “I know of them. I know the name, and few other details.”

“Like what?” Cynder inquired.

“They’re a very secretive guild of Rhynoc assassins,” Kell explained. “They target different, high-importance targets for those capable of finding them and paying for their services.”

“What else do you know about them?” Spyro inquired.

“Little else,” Kell replied. “Just that their leader, though shrouded in mystery, sees you as a threat to the Rhinoharadan, and that there may be one member of that guild who may be... ‘persuaded’ to help us.”

“How do you figure?” Hunter asked as he sat up.

“He’s the only Non-Rhynoc member of the guild,” Kell stated. “He fears dragons and hates the guild.”

“Where is he?” Cynder inquired.

“In a port at a city that is this ship’s pit-stop before heading out to the oasis,” Kell responded. He sighed, then added, “Look, I’ll get to the point – I will understand if you say no, or if you don’t trust me, but I ask that you assist me in eliminating this threat. They are as much a danger to me as they are to you.”

“Count me in,” Hunter proclaimed.

“If Hunter’s in, so am I,” Bianca put in.

“Count us in, as well,” Agent Nine stated as he walked in with Byrd and Sheila.

“It’s settled, then,” Spyro mumbled. “We’re all in.”

“Very well,” Kell stated.

“If we’re all in this together,” Byrd commented, “then perhaps we should... come up with a name for our little squad.”

“I vote Dragon Force,” Hunter stated.

“I’ll just let you guys discuss this,” Kell said. “In the meantime, Hunter, Spyro, get some rest. We arrive at the port in four days, and you’re not going in there without some form of protection.” Kell walked to the door, and stopped as the doors parted. Looking over his shoulder at Spyro, he stated, “Sierra-November-seven-two-two-four. Use that code to end any program we’re in if you so much as suspect a flashback, and when you and Hunter get out of here, see Valen down below and give him the code Alpha-Lima-seven-two-three-oh-eight. I left some things for you and your friends.”

Without another word, Kell marched out of the Medical Bay. Spyro stared after him for a moment, then lay his head back down. So much for a vacation.

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I'm glad you like it. Now for chapter Three...

Chapter Three

Pain of the Past

Spyro’s wounds were healed, more or less, within a day, thanks to many medical nano-probes that were released into his and Hunter’s bloodstream. Cynder waited for Spyro outside the Medical bay as he and Hunter exited. As Spyro walked out the door, Cynder hugged him tight. As Hunter embraced Bianca, Cynder whispered in Spyro’s ear,

“Promise me something, Spyro,”

“What’s that?” came Spyro’s reply.

“Don’t bring out any more of Kell’s memories,” Cynder whispered. “I can’t bear the thought of losing you,”

Spyro held his lover close and whispered, “I promise,”

With the initial “welcome back” out of the way, Spyro, Hunter, Bianca and Cynder headed below decks and found Valen – a Terran Dragonarian – working as the head of security.

“Ah – Spyro Nightscales. What brings you and your friends here?” he asked.

“ Alpha-Lima-seven-two-three-oh-eight.” Spyro answered without hesitation.

“Oh, I see,” Valen stated. “Follow me.” Valen led the group to a secluded area, where he entered a code to a vault. The massive door clicked several times as its locks were released, and Valen entered. Shortly thereafter, he came back with a crate, about the size of a trash can, and opened it. He reached in, and tossed a pair of gauntlets to each of them. Hunter got black, Bianca got white, Cynder got maroon, and Spyro got purple. “Put those on, and go see Kell up topside,” Valen said. “He must think you’re heading into some serious trouble if he’s giving you those.”

The group put the gauntlets on, and headed topside. Kell was standing on the starboard side of the ship, leaning on a handrail as he looked out to sea.

“Find what I left you?” he asked.

“More or less,” Spyro said. “How do they work?”

“Each of your armor sets have established a neural link with your minds. You control them with your thoughts,” Kell explained as he turned to face them. “Just think, ‘deploy armor,’ and the armor will literally materialize over you – weather you walk upright or as a dragon.”

“That’s cool,” Cynder commented.

“And now, for what Valen probably didn’t mention,” Kell stated, “you each have a special ability to your armor, in addition to private radio channels that no one can eavesdrop on.

“Hunter, seeing your... mastery of ranged combat, you have been equipped with an Infiltrator-grade Personal Cloaking Device. Your armor can turn invisible on your command, and can materialize any form of long-range weapons you can think of; Sniper rifles, compound bows, combat crossbows – you name it. You also have been equipped with enhanced optics capable of spotting an enemy in any spectrum. For defense, you have twin plasma katanas.

“Bianca, I knew of your grasp of sorcery since the holo-room incident. Your armor can interface directly with your powers, allowing you to not only manipulate your surroundings, but also other beings, bots, and electronics, among other things. You can also heal others. To defend yourself, you have been equipped with a plasma katana staff and an SG-25 Riot Shotgun you can materialize on command.

“Cynder, given your history with Spyro, you have been equipped to defend him should the need arise. To this end, you have been equipped with dual plasma wrist blades, numerous special attacks – such as firebolts, ice shards, and others – and you have been equipped with an SG-30 Sabot Cannon, capable of using either 12-gauge sabot shells or slugs – whichever you deem prudent.

“Lastly, Spyro, seeing that I talked to your friend, Alora, and therefore know your long career as a warrior, you have been enhanced with speed and protection – you will be faster, stronger, and better, and your energy shield can take more damage than anybody else. You will have a plasma katana, an A50 Cobra sidearm, and an H40 Assault Rifle, capable of firing .308-caliber uranium-ferrite caseless rounds. It also comes standard with a grenade launcher.

“In addition to your abilities, your sets of armor also act as an environment suit – you can wade through toxic sludge without any side-effects, breathe in radioactive conditions with no harm, and swim indefinitely underwater.”

“What about Agent Nine?” Spyro asked. “And Sheila and Sgt. Byrd?”

“Agent nine has his own armor, which was brought aboard prior to coming here, and Sheila and Byrd have been equipped as well. Byrd has an enhanced weapon system and armor, while Sheila is armored and strength-enhanced. She could kick me through a wall, if only she wanted to.” Kell explained.

“Sounds like you’ve got your bases covered,” Hunter remarked.

Kell smiled. “You don’t survive three wars against the same enemy unless you know all the angles.”

* * *

The next night, there was a barbeque above decks. They had a special Dragonarian orchestra play, and everyone attended – even Spyro, Cynder, Hunter, Bianca, Nine and Kell. They sat at a circular table talking and swapping stories as the Orchestra played.

It was when the orchestra started a certain song that Kell looked at them for more than half a second. Electrical instruments started in a low, depressing theme. Spyro and Cynder got the impression that something was wrong. Kell closed his eyes and looked away, tears now flowing down his face like rivers. He got up and left, followed closely by Spyro and Cynder.

It wasn’t until he stopped to lean against a handrail overlooking the sea that he let loose a trembling sigh. He was crying. Because of a song? No, Cynder thought to herself. It wasn’t the song. It was something deeper. Etched into his mind. Another battle scar, perhaps? Maybe, but neither Cynder nor Spyro would know until they asked.

Cynder and Spyro came up on either side of Kell as his tears fell to the sea.

“Are you alright?” Cynder asked.

“Yeah, you seem... depressed.” Spyro added.

“I... can’t stand this song.” Kell stated. “It brings back... memories.”

“Of the war?” Cynder asked.

“Of... death,” Kell cried. “This was played at my father’s funeral.”

“What--” Spyro started. He stopped midsentence. Cynder knew he didn’t want to trigger another flashback.

“I was only twelve when he died,” Kell said. “I never got to tell him how much he meant to me. Our last words in this galaxy were spoken in anger.” Kell sniffled and looked mournfully to sea. “I never thought that the last time I saw him would be the last time ever,” he stated.

“What did you do?” Spyro inquired.

“I went to the life my grandfather knew; a life in the military,” Kell replied. “From then on, there was always another war to fight, until I was discharged, and I ended up here, with nowhere left to go.”

Unaware that the others were behind them, eavesdropping on this exchange, Kell sniffled and wiped away tears from his face. Now, Cynder felt pity. A warrior Kell may be, he had nothing. No one. No home. No family. No allies, friends, or anybody that cared. All of these factors only fed his hate, made it easier for him to have a flashback, to go into a blood-drunk rage. She looked to Spyro, and he nodded. He felt the same. Something had to be done for him.

“Jeez, Kell, I... I’m sorry,” Cynder said softly.

“Save it, Cynder,” Kell stated, his voice trembling with grief. He looked to her with watery eyes and added, “You didn’t pull the trigger that ended his life, and you certainly didn’t put me on the path I took.” He looked to sea as more tears fell and said, “Whatever mistakes I’ve made in my youth, I’ve paid for them and then some.”

“Is that why you’re on this ship?” Cynder queried. “You’re trying to make peace with what happened to you over the years?”

Kell didn’t answer – directly. His knees buckled and gave in, and he dropped to the deck in tears. Cynder looked to Spyro, and he nodded. She knelt down beside Kell and took his trembling, clawed hand. He leaned against her shoulder, sobbing softly. As he cried, Cynder, Spyro and the others saw not a battle-hardened warrior, but a person, a fellow dragon, sick and tormented over what he had experienced. They saw the extent of which he was physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically scarred. Cynder finally noticed the others standing there. If Kell noticed, he didn’t say anything as he sobbed on Cynder’s shoulder.

They all knew what was going on; because of their history with him – if short – they had become the only family Kell had left...

... For better or worse, he was a part of their family as much as they were of his.

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Ah, yes - time to update this story. This chapter features another familiar character.

Chapter Four

Enter Ember

The following morning, Kell and Spyro headed into the port-city of Spireish Dragons’okh. Both of them were armored from head to toe, and both were armed. If the authorities had any problems with this, they certainly didn’t say anything about it. But as Spyro looked around, he saw that many people in Spireish Dragons’okh were armed, in one form or another.

A private radio channel opened up. “Hotel-Whiskey to Kilo-Alpha, over.” Hunter said. “Hotel-Whiskey” was his Radio name, while Bravo-Whiskey was Bianca’s, Sierra-November was Spyro, Charlie-November was Cynder, Alpha-Nine was Agent Nine, Sierra-Kilo was Sheila, Sierra-Bravo was Sgt. Byrd, and Kilo-Alpha was Kell.

“Kilo-Alpha here,” Kell answered. “Go ahead, Hotel-Whiskey, over.”

“Don’t look now, but we have several Rhynocs entering the ship. Over.” Hunter said.

“Acknowledged, Hotel-Whiskey,” Kell replied. “Bravo-Whiskey, keep a tab on them, and don’t be seen. Hotel-Whiskey, keep an eye on Sierra-November and I. If you see anything out of the ordinary, signal us. Over.”

“Roger, Kilo-Alpha,” Hunter responded. “Hotel-Whiskey out.” Kell and Spyro continued to wind their way through the crowds, moving up alleys and across streets. It wasn’t until ten minutes passed that Kell opened a private channel to Spyro.

“Kilo-Alpha to Sierra-November, over.”

“Sierra-November here,” Spyro responded. “Go ahead, over.”

“I see our contact. The one in Emerald bio-mechanical armor up ahead, over.” Kell stated. A NAV point appeared on Spyro’s HUD, and he followed Kell to a vacant building. Inside, Spyro and Kell stopped. The person that stared back at them under his emerald-green armor was a purple-scaled dragon, just as tall as Spyro.

A dragon in the Rhinoharadan? Such a thing didn’t seem possible, Spyro thought.

“I’ll say this for him,” Kell stated over the radio channel, “He’s not what I expected him to be.”

“You can stop talking over those coded radio channels; I don’t bite.” the dragon said with a low, mechanical voice.

“Who are you?” Spyro asked.

“My name is unimportant, but if it matters to you, you may call me Mal.” the dragon said. He looked to Kell. “Why are you here?”

“We seek information on the Rhinoharadan.” Kell stated.

“Of what interest is the Rhinoharadan to you?” Mal inquired.

“The Rhinoharadan tried to manipulate Kell to kill me.” Spyro replied. Mal turned his yellow eyes to Spyro. If he could see Spyro’s face under the armor, he didn’t show any signs.

“It is indeed strange that the Rhynoc assassins of the Rhinoharadan didn’t kill you directly,” Mal finally said. “Whoever wants you dead wishes to make others think that someone else did the deed. They are taking a... different approach to your assassination.”

“What would they normally do?” Spyro queried, his curiosity piqued.

“On any typical assassination,” Mal explained, “the Rhinoharadan would send an assassin to kill you. For a few days, the assailant would watch you, observe you, until he was sure he could kill you without drawing any attention. Once you were dead, your body would be disintegrated, to erase any evidence of your death.”

“That’s it?” Spyro asked. “No manipulation, no special tricks of any kind?”

“None,” Mal answered. “As I have mentioned before, this is not a typical Rhinoharadan assassination. You must have angered them greatly for them to consider such means.”

A private radio line opened. “Sierra-Bravo to Kilo-Alpha and Sierra-November, over.” came Byrd’s voice.

“Kilo-Alpha here,” Kell stated. “Go ahead, over.”

“The ship’s leaving in fifteen,” Byrd announced. “Get back here ASAP, over.”

“Acknowledged,” Kell commented. “We’re on our way. Kilo-Alpha out.”

“We have to go,” Spyro told Mal. “Thanks for the info.”

“Before you go,” Mal said, “a word of warning; now that the Rhinoharadan assassination attempt failed, they will resort to more... direct methods. Be prepared.”

Spyro nodded and left with Kell. It took a full ten minutes to hike back to the ship and get on board. Once aboard, Kell sent the rally signal to everyone, and sent the rally point – Spyro’s quarters. Once there, Kell began to recount the details that Mal had told them. When he finished, Hunter let loose a long sigh.

“That’s... quite a tale,” he said.

“But there’s one thing I don’t get,” Spyro stated. “Mal gave us this information to us willingly. And when we left, he said that now that the initial attempt failed, the Rhinoharadan would use more ‘direct’ methods.”

“You think he was threatening you?” Cynder asked.

“No,” Spyro replied. “I think he set us up.”

“Why do you think that?” Bianca inquired.

“I don’t know... the way he willingly gave us what we wanted to know suggests that he was either setting us up, or...” Spyro let the thought hang in the air.

“So basically, you’re thinking he might know more about the Rhinoharadan than he was letting on,” Kell surmised.

“Moreover, he knows why the Rhinoharadan are after me,” Spyro added.

There was a long pause before Kell spoke up again. “Very well. In a few days’ time, we’ll be arriving at the Oasis of Dragonaria IV. Spyro, there is a... private matter I wish to speak to you about.”

As the others filed out of the room, Spyro remained behind. “What was it that you want to talk about?” he asked once the others were gone.

“Are you familiar with a person named Ember?” Kell asked.

“She’s... an old colleague of mine,” Spyro answered. “Why?”

“Because she’s coming onto this team to help us,” Kell stated. “She has... abilities and connections we may find of use.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Spyro asked.

“Because you know her, and I don’t. The reason behind this is... something personal.”

“She has a crush on you... doesn’t she?”

“I wouldn’t say a crush,” Kell answered. “She... stood up for me over the Dragonarian Interstellar Network. Called me an honorable hero that exemplifies the Dragonarian Warrior Code when others called me a war criminal that disgraces the Dragonarian Empire.”

“What do you mean?” Spyro inquired.

“It’s a long story,” Kell responded. “But suffice to say that there are... certain details behind the Massacre of Kemoran IV that people found out. Details that made me look... evil.”

“... And you want to know if she’s really sincere, or trying to set you up,” Spyro surmised.

“I want to know if I can trust her,” Kell affirmed. “If I can let my guard down for her. I am cautious because gullibility has harmed me in the past.”

“It would help if I knew exactly what happened,” Spyro said.

Kell hesitated. “Fair enough, but what I am about to tell you... will disturb you.”

“Well, it can’t be that bad, man—I’ve already seen the worst part of you.” Spyro stated.

“I...” Kell began. “I am responsible for the massacre of Kemoran IV. It was by my hand that well over twenty million Kemorainians were killed simultaneously.”

“You created the weapon that destroyed the planet?”

“No,” Kell replied. “A colleague of mine did, but I was the one that used it. To my everlasting shame, my hands were guided by hate and vengeance. Information leaked out, and I was proclaimed a free war criminal; your friend, Ember, stood up for me. Made everyone see the truth. I want to know why she would do such a thing, and if she’s setting me up.”

“Well, Kell, truth be told, I know Ember very well. I’ve never known her to set somebody up,” Spyro explained. “Strictly speaking, you must have won great favor with her for her to come along and bail you out like you say she did.”

“But I can trust her?” Kell queried. “She won’t back-stab me? She won’t manipulate me, or leave me for dead?”

“No, she won’t.” Spyro replied. “I could introduce you to her, but I’d have to find her, first.”

“Already found; she’s on this ship.”

“Say what?

“She arrived at the same time you did,” Kell stated. “I sent her a passport and a set of armor, and I had her keeping a tab on... various things on this ship.”

“Like what?”

“Like the dealings of this ship’s XO,” Kell answered. “I told her I’d send someone to meet her in an isolated spot in a few hours; I’ll transmit the location to your suit. I’ll contact you if and when this goes hot.”

Spyro got out of the chair to leave and asked as he headed to the door, “What do you mean by that?”

“You’ll know it when it happens,” Kell replied. As Spyro left, he materialized his armor and checked the map for the location; a boiler room below decks. He headed down there as stealthily as possible, and when he reached that location, he checked the clock in his armor: 3:40 PM. He still had a few minutes before Ember would make her appearance.

So, if only to pass the time, Spyro thought it a good idea to get a feel for his weapons. He first materialized his H40 Assault Rifle, ejected the magazine, removed the unspent round in the chamber, and inserted it at the top of the magazine. Upon examination, Spyro noted the rifle came equipped with an adjustable stock, enhanced adjustable holo-sights, an M900 Grenade Launcher, and a Fire mode selector. He aimed the unloaded rifle at an unimportant part of the boiler room, and imagined that he was aiming at a Rhynoc.

As if summoned by his thoughts, a black-clad Rhynoc with a rifle of some sort shimmered into appearance.

What the--?! Spyro thought. He tried to load his weapon when he realized it was already loaded. Sliding the magazine into his ammo pouch, he racked a round into the chamber, took aim, and waited for the Rhynoc to fire.

Surely enough, the Rhynoc fired, and a bolt of blue-white plasma stuttered through the air and missed Spyro’s head by a matter of inches. Now, Spyro was clear to fire, and fire he did. He fired a six-round burst that caught the Rhynoc in the chest and threw him into the floor. No sooner did he hit the deck, the Rhynoc disappeared like a hologram.

Spyro hesitated. It was a mistake. A Rhynoc tackled him from behind and knocked his H40 away. Spyro kicked himself up, brandishing his plasma katana. Two more went active, but they weren’t in the assailant’s hands.

A dragon in Pink armor dropped down from somewhere above, two plasma katanas in her hands, and chained four strikes against the Rhynoc before he disappeared. She then rushed to Spyro, grabbed his arm, and hit a button before he could react. The instant she hit that button, the two Rhynocs that came around the corner disappeared.

“Who are you?” Spyro asked. The dragon in pink armor dematerialized her armor to reveal a face Spyro knew all too well.

“I’m Ember,” she said. “Who might you be?”

In response, Spyro dematerialized his armor, and Ember looked genuinely surprised. “Spyro!” she whispered. Without a second thought, she grabbed his hand and dragged him to a secluded corner. “You shouldn’t be here!”

“Know something I don’t?” Spyro whispered back as he telekinetically pulled his H40 into his hands.

“Listen fast,” Ember murmured, “I managed to track down the creator of the swoop race you were nearly killed in; It was created by this ship’s XO, and they had a Mech Assassin mimic Kell’s voice code to add the program to his list.”

“So the XO is a part of the Rhinoharadan?” Spyro surmised.

“Exactly,” Ember affirmed. “And I believe I know why they are after you.”

“What? Why?” Spyro asked.

“Do you remember that time when you and Cynder got trapped in the tomb of that strange valley?” Ember inquired. “The one filled with those zombie things?”

“How could I forget?” Spyro answered. “It took us days to reach the surface. Why?”

“The leader of the Rhinoharadan – someone by the name of Lord Malkorr – is after you because you stumbled across something there that Malkorr is only dimly aware of.”

“What was in that valley besides a swarm of walking alien horror-show freaks?” Spyro queried.

“From the comm fragment I managed to decipher, the Rhinoharadan – along with several other factions – believe it to be the location of something called the ‘Valley of the Seven Dragon Lords.’ ” Ember explained. “What they want with it, I don’t know.”

A staccato of automatic fire cut the conversation short. In the blink of an eye, the two dragons materialized their armor, and readied their weapons.

They did so just in time. No sooner did they ready themselves, Kell’s voice came over their private COM channels. “Kilo-Alpha to Dragon Force: It’s go-time. The band has struck the chord, rally at the following location, and avoid any contact whatsoever. Out.”

“What does he mean by that?” Spyro inquired as he received the signal to rally at a location on the area of the ship opposite to his current location.

“He means that the suspicious band that came on board has started a hostile takeover of this ship.” Ember responded.

They headed to a waiting door when a team of four Rhynocs appeared.

“The last signal we got said that the target was in here,” the leader said. “Spread out and find him.”

Because there were only four Rhynocs, Spyro and Ember found it relatively easy to slip past them. They took a maintenance shaft toward the rally point, during which Ember opened a private COM channel to Spyro.

“So, tell me about Kell,” she said. “What does he think of me?”

“If one were to go by what I heard, he is eternally grateful to you for what you did for him,” Spyro answered.

“What can I say?” Ember chuckled. “I’m an empathetic person at times.”

“Funny,” Spyro responded. “But, in truth, he doesn’t know if he can trust you.”

“Why not?”

“You could say...” Spyro paused to silently remove a maintenance hatch. “... that his military career – plus his troubled past – have taught him not to trust others.”

Spyro dropped through the hatch and unlimbered his H40. He pointed it to both directions of the adjacent hall. “Clear,” he whispered. Ember dropped through and unlimbered an MP340.

“Look, I know he’s mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically scarred beyond recognition--” Ember started.

“You really don’t,” Spyro interrupted. His mind whisked him back to the night Kell spoke of his father’s death for a split second.

Ember nodded. “Fair to say, but the least you could do is help me out here,” she said. “After all, I just want to be there for him.” She paused as Spyro looked around the corner, then motioned for her to follow. “Would he believe me if I told him I cared about how he felt?” she asked as they stopped at a corner.

“I wouldn’t be the one to know,” Spyro answered. “I’ve only known him for a couple of weeks, at most. If you want to find out, tell him that yourself. I can’t do that for you.”

Ember nodded subtly as they headed down another hall. They wound their way through the underworks of the ship and stopped in a room with a hatch above their heads. The ladder, however, was missing – it had been retracted. No problem. Spyro telekinetically flipped a switch, and the ladder descended down toward them. Spyro hurried up the ladder, followed by Ember, opened the hatch...

... and found himself staring down the barrel of Kell’s MP340A2. Realizing who he was holding at gunpoint, he lowered his weapon. “How’d you get past all the Rhynocs down there? My sensors read that area was hostile central!” Kell whispered.

“If it was, I certainly didn’t see anyone down there,” Spyro answered. He helped Ember through the hatch, and Ember stopped upon sight of Kell. She hesitated, and finally managed to say, “Keldon’takk Assinara, I presume?”

Kell nodded. “You must be Ember.”

“We’ll get to introductions later,” Bianca stated. In an instant, Kell snapped back to his military nature.

“Alright, based on observations we all made, we can reason that we’re dealing with a professional,” he said. “He’s managed to take over the ship in the short time we were taking to rally here.”

“So what do we do?” Cynder inquired.

“We do what we do best,” Kell replied. “Hunter, Ember – you two are the expert snipers.” Kell placed a device on the floor, and projected a holographic version of the ship. “You two will take up a position here,” he highlighted an isolated area above the bridge. “This spot overlooks the exterior of the ship. Keep your weapons silenced and if you see a target of opportunity, you are cleared to take it out.

“Agent Nine, I need you here,” Kell highlighted an isolated room near the forecastle. “This is the location of the main computer core. Use your computer and get access to the ship’s systems, and do everything you can to help us and hamper the enemy.”

“Right,” Nine said with a nod.

“Bianca, you and Sheila find a way to free the hostages from the forecastle and the brig, use any means at your disposal and try not to attract too much attention.

“Byrd, you need to head down to the engine room and do whatever you can to stop this ship in its tracks. But, as I am aware that the engine room will be heavily guarded, you will need to create a distraction.” Kell highlighted the galley near the engine room. “Setting off an explosion here should be sufficient to draw a good portion of the guards away.”

“What about us?” Spyro asked, indicating himself and Cynder.

“You two will be with me in causing as much chaos and mayhem as we can manage,” Kell responded. “We will roam the ship and wreck havoc in any way possible.”

Cynder grinned. “That’s what we specialize in,” she said.

“If we run into any problems,” Kell stated, “we will rally up here,” he highlighted an area of the ship one floor above the engine room. “If all goes well, we should have a better idea of who and what we’re dealing with.”

The others nodded, and they all split up to head to their various objectives.

This was no longer a vacation, Spyro realized. No, this was a fight to survive against an enemy shrouded in mystery. A fight, Spyro thought, that would decide his future...

... One way or another.

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It's getting good story! With Ember in there that should definitely spice things up! :D

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Oh, trust me - it gets better.

Chapter Five

Dragon Force

In all the hustle and bustle of the Rhinoharadan’s search for Spyro, no one was looking in the general direction of the bridge to see two shimmering apparitions scaling the wall and getting on the roof of the bridge. As Ember and Hunter set up shop, Ember opened a private channel to Hunter.

“Hunter,” she said, “May I pose a personal question?”

“Sure,” Hunter answered as he loaded his AD400. “We’re going to be here for god-only-knows how long.”

Ember hesitated before she posed her question. “Would you call me crazy if I told you that I find Kell... attractive?”

“Pah,” Hunter scoffed. “I’d probably laugh by bottom off, but I wouldn’t call you crazy.”

“Why not?” Ember inquired as she deployed the bipod of her Dragunov SVD60.

“To be honest, Ember,” Hunter stated, “That Ryukaissen needs you more than you know. I don’t think you realize just how scarred he is.”

“So I’m told,” Ember responded.

“Kilo-Alpha to Hotel-Whiskey,” Kell said over the radio, “Are you in position?”

“Ready and waiting,” Hunter affirmed. “I have the aft covered; Echo has the Bow covered.”

“Acknowledged,” Kell radioed. “Echo, I’ll be heading into your field in two. At the edge of the Bow there should be a Helo. See it?”

Ember looked to the tip of the ship’s bow and saw it; a cargo helicopter. “Affirmative,” she replied.

“I’m going to ‘convince’ the Rhynocs to blow it up,” Kell stated. “When it goes, give me sniper cover. Hunter, watch the aft for any reinforcements.”

“Understood,” Hunter said. “Hotel-Whiskey out.”

“Be careful, Kilo-Sierra.” Ember whispered.

“I... appreciate your concern, Echo,” Kell whispered. “But I’m incapable of that. Out.”

Ember directed a comment to Hunter. “What’s with all the military call-signs?”

“To make sure any enemy listening in on us doesn’t know who we really are.” Hunter answered.

“I thought these Comm channels were coded,” Ember said.

“They are. Kell doesn’t take chances, not with stuff like this.” Hunter affirmed.

Then, consistent with his plan, Kell entered Ember’s field of vision, stealthily heading up the starboard side of the ship and behind the Helo...

* * *

As Kell got behind the cargo helicopter, he opened a private channel to Spyro and Cynder.

“Sierra, Charlie, get ready to come out swinging; when this Helo blows, it’s going to stir up a hornet’s nest.”

“Acknowledged,” Cynder answered. “Awaiting your signal.”

Kell cut the channel off, and opened a side panel in the chopper. Inside was a grenade, a knife, and a small canister of fuel. Kell grabbed all three, stored the grenade, and used the knife to puncture two holes in the can of fuel. He sprayed the Helo’s fuel tank and the deck around it, then stuffed a long, thin cloth in the leaking hole and let the cloth drape down to the deck.

He then knelt near the cover of the helo, but left himself exposed enough to...

“There’s someone on the deck!” a Rhynoc shouted. Then the gunfire started, and Kell was quick to jump ship. As he jumped, he spread his wings and raced along the port side of the ship. He stopped himself on a ladder and opened a channel to Spyro and Cynder.

“Sierra- and Charlie-November, hit ‘em! Proceed to planned waypoint Gamma!”

A hatch opening on the deck – muffled by the explosion of the helo – signaled Spyro and Cynder going on-deck. Kell scrambled up the ladder to join them, and caught up to them as Cynder’s Sabot Cannon discharged and blew an unsuspecting Rhynoc out of his boots.

Spyro was no kinder; he opened fire on a surprised Rhynoc guarding the target hatch, and dropped him like a rock. Kell charged the Kadgeron Disruptor on his MP340A2, and as it charged, turned around long enough to grease a pair of overly-ambitious Rhynocs intent on taking his head.

Spyro gestured, and the hatch they were heading to opened. Cynder was the first one through; Spyro followed, and Kell came in last, shut the hatch, and placed the grenade he’d taken from the Helo on the hatch’s operating mechanism. He pulled the pin, and took off with Spyro and Cynder. They pounded down a hallway, stealth temporarily forgotten, and took cover in a dark alcove to allow two Rhynocs to run past. All three of them were still enough to hear the Rhynoc leader shout from somewhere above outside,

“Stand fast! Do not man that hatch!”

Too late. By the time the order came, one of the Rhynocs had operated the hatch, and the grenade detonated and blew the hatch off it’s hinges, taking the operating Rhynoc with it and critically wounding two others and blasting the other two already inside back six feet in the direction they just came from.

“Jeez... this guy’s a pain in the neck!” Spyro heard the leader say.

Kell, however, was busy with another task. “Kilo-Alpha to Alpha-Nine, come in. Over.”

“Alpha-Nine, here. Go ahead, Kilo-Alpha. Over.” Agent Nine replied.

“Have you managed to get into the computer core?” Kell asked. “Over.”

“Affirmative,” Nine confirmed. “I have a number of systems under my control, including security. Over.”

“Can you monitor the enemy’s comm traffic?”

“That’s what I’ve been doing,” Nine said. “Aside from the typical check-ins and status reports, they’re trying to find Spyro. Also, the XO is going to rendezvous with a Submarine loaded with reinforcements heading this way in five minutes. Over.”

“Acknowledged,” Kell replied. “I’m sending comm routines to contact a few friends in the Dragonarian military. Call in the cavalry, over and out.” Kell looked to Spyro and Cynder. “We’ll all be in a tight spot if we don’t stop these guys before additional reinforcements arrive,”

“How do we stop thirty or so Rhynocs in five minutes?” Cynder inquired.

Kell hesitated, then chuckled. “Strength in numbers.” he said. He then opened a channel to Bianca. “Kilo-Alpha to Bravo-Whiskey, come in, over.”

“Bravo-Whiskey here, over.” came Bianca’s reply.

“Bravo, have you freed any hostages?”

“Affirmative,” Bianca stated. “We freed six from the brig and rescued three more that were on their way there; all of them are security patrols, and they are armed. We’re working on getting through the door to the forecastle.”

“How much longer to get through?”

“About two minutes,” Bianca answered. “Why?”

“ ‘Cause we’re going to have a world of trouble come down on us like an anvil in five. Free those hostages, and get the security personnel among them armed.”

“Confirmed,” Bianca replied. “Bravo-Whiskey out.”

“Kilo-Alpha to Echo, come in. Over.”

“Echo here,” Ember replied. “What’s your status? Over.”

“We’ve got a world of hurt heading for us in five,” Kell stated. “Is the enemy still outside?”

“Negative,” Hunter answered. “They’re looking for you, deck by deck. Over.”

“Get their attention and draw them outside,” Kell ordered. “Once outside, keep them there. Out.”

“Acknowledged, Kilo-Alpha.” Ember responded. “Do what you do best, Kilo. Echo out.”

Kell directed a comment to Spyro. “You know, I’m starting to like Ember.” he murmured.

“I’ll bet,” Spyro acknowledged.

“I don’t know – would you say I was losing my mind if I told you I think she’d make a good companion?” Kell asked.

“No,” Spyro and Cynder stated simultaneously.

A noisemaker arrow screaming down to the deck cut the conversation short. Several Rhynocs ran past to investigate, and Kell, Spyro and Cynder slipped out of the alcove and deeper into the ship...

* * *

Ember loaded a magazine into the receiver of her Dragunov SVD60 and checked her ammo. She had four mags left, plus six mags of ammo for her MP340. She then returned her attention to the Rhynocs running hither and yon above-decks. One stopped to look around. Ember targeted him immediately and fired. The Rhynoc was thrown to the deck like a rag doll as Ember shifted her aim to another Rhynoc talking with...

... the ship’s XO? Hold on, Ember thought. She zoomed in on the Rhynoc. He bore a distinctive badge of honor. This was their leader.

So which one should she kill? The Rhynoc leader, or the XO? She thought it a good idea to grease them both, so she settled her sight over the Rhynoc’s head and squeezed the trigger. The bullet nailed the Rhynoc, but by the time Ember had shifted to aim at the XO, he had already moved and started running inside.

Drat. Ember took out eight more Rhynocs before reloading, at which point she slung her Dragunov and unlimbered her MP340. She loaded it, and told Hunter, “I’m going after that XO. Cover me.”

“Get going,” Hunter said. “I can handle things up here.”

Ember leapt off the roof of the bridge, and spread her wings to slow her descent. She hit the deck and rolled, coming up to ice a surprised Rhynoc. She then darted after the XO, who was heading below decks.

Somehow, she got the feeling he was after Kell...

* * *

“That’s it! It’s cut!” Bianca shouted over the hiss of the plasma torch. “Sheila, kick the door in!”

Sheila stepped over and did just that. The door broke loose from it’s hinges and slammed into the floor with a loud CLANG just before one of the security personnel fired his Kadgeron autopulser rifles and shouted, “Contact! Enemy engaged!”

Bianca extinguished the plasma torch and unlimbered her SG-25. It was already loaded, so she whipped around, pointed it down the hall, and fired. The Rhynoc that was in Bianca’s line of fire was blown off his feet, and his weapon was flung high into the air and into the hands of another security patrol.

Bianca’s SG-25 discharged again, and sent a Rhynoc scurrying for cover. Another security patrol rallied the other patrolmen to the armory while three others escorted the civilians to safety.

“Bravo-Whiskey to Kilo-Sierra, come in! Over.” Bianca shouted over the gunfire.

“I’m a little busy, Bravo-Whiskey,” Came Kell’s reply, marred by gunfire. “What’s your status? Over.”

“The hostages are free,” Bianca reported. “What’s your location? Over.”

“Near the bridge,” Kell answered. “We’re pinned down under heavy fire and could use the help, over.”

“Acknowledged,” Bianca replied. “I’m on my way. Over and out.” Bianca looked to the security captain. “Captain, get your men to the bridge. I’ll meet them there!” she ordered as she hurried off...

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  • 3 weeks later...

And here's yet another chapter of Book one of Spyro: Legacy of Dragon Force! Don't worry, this isn't the end.

Chapter Six

Love Confirmed

The enemy’s operation on the luxury cruiser was falling apart rapidly. More than half of their group lay dead, and the half that remained – with the exception of a portion of the remaining enemies scattered about the ship – was under heavy fire by both Dragon Force operatives and the ship’s security personnel.

Confident that Spyro could handle this threat, Kell headed off in search of the leader of this attack. His first instinct was to go below decks. As soon as he did, he was fired upon by a Rhynoc brandishing an M242 Assault Carbine. His armor’s shields took the blow of the first three shots fired before he took cover. He grabbed a flashbang, primed it, and lobbed it down the hall. The loud bang accompanied by the blinding flash took the Rhynoc by surprise, and Kell emerged from the corner and gunned the Rhynoc down. He sprinted down the hall, and stopped just shy of the intersection. His motion sensor painted three red contacts around the left corner, heading right for him. He readied his MP340A2, and as the first one came around the corner, he ran right into the barrel of Kell’s weapon as the built-in disruptor fired. As the hapless moron disintegrated, Kell wasted no time gunning down the other two with auto fire.

He was about to head down the hall when a pistol cocked behind him.

“Drop it, son.” commanded a Terran voice that had a southern drawl. Kell complied, and as he turned around, he stated,

“Commander Peter McFarland, we meet at last.”

“Major General Keldon’takk Assinara,” the Terran responded. “I see we’ve heard about each other.”

“What makes you think you can take on a Ryukaissen like myself?” Kell asked, de-materializing his armor.

“I snuck up on you, didn’t I?” Peter countered. “Now, I’ll give you five seconds to call off your little insurrection before I blow your head off.”

“You might as well just shoot,” Kell stated, “Because I won’t do it.”

“Commander McFarland!” Screamed Ember’s voice. “Leave him alone!”

Peter turned his head to see Ember heading down the hallway. Kell took advantage of this momentary distraction and attacked, but he acted a split-second too late. Commander McFarland fired his pistol, and it hit Kell in the chest.

Ember, outraged, charged Peter at super-speed and kicked him, brandishing her plasma katanas. Peter grabbed a plasma katana and activated it, ready for the next attack. When it didn’t come, he went on the attack, which Ember deflected.

They engaged in a game of attack-and-defense, forcing each other back and fourth, until Ember leapt over Commander McFarland, back-stabbed him, then whirled around and cut him in two.

“Rest in pieces,” she growled.

* * *

In Ember’s fit of rage to kill Commander McFarland, she had forgotten that Kell was lying on the floor bleeding to death. The first clue she got was when he spoke.

“You about through?” Kell asked as he tried to sit up. Ember dropped her Plasma Katanas, de-materialized her armor, and knelt down next to Kell.

“Kell, don’t move.” she said.

Kell brought a hand up to his chest, and it came away with a splotch of neon-green blood.

“That’s going to leave a mark,” he coughed.

“Please, Kell,” Ember stated, her voice amiss with concern, “Don’t move.”

“Won’t go far,” Kell responded.

“No, you wont,” Ember said. “I didn’t stand up for you over the ‘net to let you die here in my arms.”

“Ember...” Kell murmured, the darkness closing in around him. “Let... Let me die in peace.”

“No,” Ember replied firmly. “You’re not going to die; the doc will bring you around. I look to fight by your side in many more battles before I let you slip.”

Kell chuckled weakly. “And what is it about me that you’re trying to save?” he asked. “We barely know each other.”

“No, we know each other very well,” Ember said. “Remember that network friend of yours by the name of Ember3490?”

Kell frowned. “That was you?”

Ember nodded, trying to fight tears. “That was me. I’m not about to let you die when I went through all that trouble just to find you.”

“Well...” Kell grunted. “That makes this scene ironic as hell.”

Ember laughed softly as the ship’s medic came around the corner. Kell coughed again, spitting blood on the deck. The doc scanned him with his medical scanner, and looked to Ember.

“His wound is serious, but treatable. We have to get him to Medbay.”

Ember picked Kell up and dragged him to Medbay, where she set him down so the doc could operate. Before she could leave, however, Kell grabbed her hand.

“No,” he whispered like a dying child. “Don’t... don’t leave me.”

“What is it?” she asked with a soft tone.

“Your...” he stopped to cough. “Your presence is... calming. Soothing.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” Ember said. She looked imploringly to the doc, who smiled and nodded.

“Mr. Assinara, I’m going to give you a sedative so I can operate. Just keep your thoughts on Ember.” he said. Kell nodded, and looked back to Ember.

“You saved my life,” he murmured, fighting to stay conscious.

“Like I said; I didn’t stand up for you over the ‘net to let you die in my arms.” Ember whispered.

“So you said,” Kell stated, his voice fading, “But I wanted to know... why?”

Ember smiled, nuzzling her nose against Kell’s, and whispered, “Because I care about you. I read your records, I know the pain you suffer from. As I saw it, you needed me more than you knew.”

Kell chuckled weakly, and murmured “Thank you,” before going unconscious.

“He’ll be fine,” the doc said. “When I’m through, I’ll leave you two alone.”

Ember nodded, left, and waited outside for the doc to finish. For what seemed to be hours, she waited, and when the doc finally stepped trough the door, he had a smile on his face. “He’s going to make it,” he told Ember. “He will, however, need a few days’ rest.” Ember nodded. She entered the room, and sat next to Kell. He was sleeping peacefully, his chest bandaged and a small blotch of blood where he’d been shot could be seen.

Without consciously thinking about it, Ember began to sing through the verses of Nickelback’s “If Everyone Cared” as Kell slept.

She must’ve spent hours sitting next to Kell, because she found herself falling asleep on Kell’s chest. Before drifting to sleep, she could’ve sworn she saw Kell smile.

She woke some hours later as Spyro brought a tray of food to her and set it down on the table.

“Thought you could use a meal,” Spyro said, “You’ve been out for eight hours straight.”

“Thanks,” Ember responded. Spyro must’ve noticed how she kept her attention fixed on Kell, because his next words were,

“If you care for him so much, why don’t you tell him?”

“I did,” Ember answered. “He fell asleep before he could express what he felt.” She took his hand and held it. “I can only speculate how he feels about me,” She added.

Spyro chuckled. “I know you’ve probably heard this before, but he needs you more than you know.”

“But how do I show him that?” Ember asked. “How do I tell him in his language that I care? That I will stand with him, at his side, against the enemies that face him?”

“You won’t have to; he already knows,” Spyro said as he left.

Ember frowned, then looked back to Kell in time to see him open his eyes...

* * *

Though Kell was only semi-conscious, he could hear the conversation Ember had with Spyro. From what he gathered, she loved him. She needed him as much as he needed her.

Love. It was not an emotion Kell was accustomed to sharing. He never shared it because he never trusted anyone, not even amongst the Ryukaissen. He would’ve appeared soft, weak. Gullible.

Not this time. He wouldn’t turn away from someone that loved him, not when she’d already done so much for him. Not when she’d saved his life. She was his guide, his loving guide back to peace. Back to the life he once lived before the war. She was his loving guide back to what he’d wanted all along; somewhere he belonged.

As he opened his eyes, he found himself staring into Ember’s bright blue eyes.

“Can you hear me?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he answered. “I can. I...” he paused, searching for the right words.

“What’s wrong?” Ember inquired.

“I... couldn’t help but overhear you and Spyro talking.” Kell replied. “And... I’m grateful for how you feel for me. But... I feel as though I have to apologize.”

“For what?” Ember asked.

“When... when I asked you why you’ve done everything you did for me, I had... thought that you were setting me up.” Kell shook his head. “I’m sorry. Too long have I lived my life in the cold and the dark. I was...”

Ember smiled and chuckled. “You were afraid to love someone who had shown you love first?” she surmised. Kell nodded, not looking at Ember. She reached over and picked Kell’s head up. “Love is a good thing, Kell. Perhaps the best of things, and the most effective love – such as the love I share for you – emerges from mutual necessity. I’ve needed you as much as you’ve needed me.”

“True,” Kell stated. “And if there’s anything I’ve learned in my time with you, it’s that in solitude, no warrior prospers. In love, both lovers are strengthened. When you saved my life, you gave me your heart, so I believe it only fair that I give you mine.”

“You’re not afraid to love anymore?” Ember asked.

“No,” Kell answered. “I’m not.”

Without another word, Ember leaned over and brought her lips to Kell’s. They kissed, and for the first time in many years, Kell was at peace, and he was in love...

* * *

Kell was out of Medbay in a week, during which Ember was with him every chance she got. Once he was out, she was waiting for him. She embraced him, and kissed him lightly.

“What did I miss?” Kell asked.

“I managed to get in contact with your friends in the Dragonarian military,” Agent Nine said, “and they gave us a starship to commend your bravery.”

“Where is it?” Kell inquired.

“Waiting for us in orbit,” Spyro answered. “We’ll take it back to my home world, and we should finally be able to rest easy...”

“... But?” Kell queried.

“There is another matter I wish to take care of first,” Spyro finished. “A planet I wish to visit that Cynder and I got trapped on years ago that may hold some clue as to what we’re up against.”

Kell nodded. “If it will shed some light on this situation, then let’s get to it.”

“Come on; there’s a shuttle waiting for us.” Ember said, tugging on Kell’s arm.

Kell walked with the group, and boarded the shuttle. For better or worse, a new squad had been born. Dragon Force had been born, and Kell had a feeling that this was the start of a new adventure...

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Just wait - this is book one of a planned series of eight. It gets better, trust me.

Chapter Seven

The Valley of the Seven Dragon Lords

The Dragonarian Warship Dragon’s Rage dropped out of translight speed to a brown planet floating around a blue star.

“Standard orbit,” Kell ordered. “Spyro, Cynder, are you ready?”

“Yeah,” Came Spyro’s answer.

Kell looked to his newfound brother-in-arms. “Now, you’re sure about this?”

“Absolutely,” Spyro replied. “Whatever’s down there, we have to destroy.”

“Alright,” Kell said. “We’ll monitor your progress from orbit. Anything goes pear-shaped down there, don’t try to be a hero. Radio for help.”

“I will.” Spyro responded as he stepped onto the elevator with Cynder.

* * *

Spyro and Cynder were translocated down to the surface of the nameless planet. As they got there, they noticed that the place looked no different than when they saw it all those years ago.

“Spyro, are you sure that these are the right coordinates?” Cynder inquired.

“I am,” Spyro answered. He looked around, keeping his H40 ready, and spotted what he was looking for: a structure in the distance. This structure was squat, shaped like the letter A with a flat top, and looked vaguely arachnid. This was the structure Spyro and Cynder had passed through to get out of the tomb.

Now, Spyro was sure this tomb was the Valley of the Seven Dragon Lords. Whatever was here, it must be eliminated.

“Let’s go,” Spyro said, hunching over low and moving silently. Cynder followed behind him, and they headed toward the structure. They waded through plants and rotten vegetation, and they were approaching a fallen tree when Spyro stopped and raised his weapon up at a thick root that stuck high up in the air. Cynder looked up and caught a glimpse of something before it disappeared. She readied her SG-30 and came closer to Spyro.

“What was that?” she whispered.

“I’m not sure,” Spyro answered. “But I don’t like it.” Spyro moved forward and hopped up onto the fallen tree. Cynder followed, and saw something in the shadows. It was small, sat on four legs, and had an open pod on top with an energy shield on its front with two guns on either side of the pod, plus an additional third gun below the energy shield.

A Kemorainian Death Turret, a staple in the Kemorainians’ anti-armor and anti-aircraft defenses. The turret sat atop a steep slope, and commanded both that slope and the one behind it, or it would have, had someone been at the controls.

Spyro stopped upon sight of the turret, and raised his weapon to fire when Cynder stopped him. “Don’t shoot – it’s unmanned.”

Spyro squinted and saw what Cynder was referring to. The two of them continued on, headed up the slope, and stopped just shy of the downward slope. Something wasn’t right.

No, something was different, Spyro realized. He moved silently into the foliage before the structure, and stopped halfway through. He looked down and found something; a discarded, dried-up energy cell from an energy-based weapon. Moreover, it was still warm. This cell was discarded recently.

As Cynder came behind him, Spyro opened a channel to Kell.

“Sierra-November to Kilo-Alpha, come in, over.”

“Kilo-Alpha here,” Kell answered. “Go ahead, Sierra-November.”

“Are the ship’s sensors picking up any life down here?” Spyro asked.

“I can’t get a clear reading,” Sheila responded. “Something down there is blocking our scanners. Moreover, it’s emitting a signal that will scatter a Translocator beam. If you go in there, I won’t be able to get you out of there until you either exit the field, or shut the signal down.”

“Understood,” Spyro answered. “But, unfortunately, staying out is not an option. Will it block our communications?”

“I’m not sure,” Sheila said. “I don’t detect any radio interference there, but if you go too deep, the signal might not hold.”

“I don’t need to tell you to watch your back, Spyro.” Kell stated.

“Hardly,” Spyro affirmed before he cut the radio off. He tossed the dried energy cell aside and motioned for Cynder to follow. They entered the structure, and paused just shy of the entrance, where a pool of commingled neon-purple blood and a gray-green ichor sat. Several trails extended from the pool, indicating that whoever – or whatever – was killed here was dragged away.

Spyro and Cynder continued on past a deep shaft and to a dead end. “I guess the only way to move on is... down.” Cynder said.

“Obviously,” Spyro remarked.

The sudden sound of machinery startled them both, and they both turned to the shaft with weapons ready.

Summoned by an unknown mechanism, a lift surfaced in front of them in the shaft. With nowhere else left to go, Spyro and Cynder stepped onto the lift and Spyro hit the controls. The lift descended, and Cynder asked Spyro, “You think anything’s changed since the last time we were here?”

“Well, I doubt those zombie things are gone, but I know for a fact that we’re not the only ones exploring this place.”

Spyro’s motion sensors painted several overlapping red blobs nearby. There was a screech of tortured metal as the lift came to a stop, and rather than rush he and Cynder as Spyro expected them to, the blobs remained stationary.

They had heard that sound many times before, the duo reasoned, and probably figured it was loaded with some of their friends. That suggested Rhynocs – stupid Rhynocs. Spyro’s favorite kind, in fact – apart from the dead kind.

Careful to avoid any sort of sound that might give them away, Spyro and Cynder made a circuit of the room and discovered the enemy they were up against – five Rhynocs, dressed in black armor, all clustered around a barricaded hatch. It was as if they were waiting for something.

Whatever they were waiting for didn’t matter. In the end, Spyro would make sure that they never lived to see it. A grenade – launched from the M900 – followed by short bursts from Spyro’s H40 and a series of shots from Cynder’s SG-30, was sufficient to eliminate the waiting Rhynocs.

But the way the Rhynocs had been guarding the hatch, waiting for their unseen enemy to come, the way they left their six exposed and didn’t react to the lift arriving, for that matter, all suggested that they had seen something horrible.

Spyro was beginning to wonder if he should go back up the lift and scrub this mission, but he resigned himself to keep going deeper into the structure. He held up a hand to signal Cynder to stop. He listened to the environment around him; an instinct he’d learned to do years ago. One that served him well in this situation.

In contrast to the area outside this alien structure, where the constant drip, drip, drip, of the rain served to provide a constant flow of sound, the interior was deathly quiet, with only a hollow booming to disturb the otherwise perfect silence.

Spyro gave a hand signal to make a full sweep of the room. He and Cynder circled the room, and were about to head through a waiting hatch when Spyro came across two corpses. Judging by the wounds, they were fresh. Two Kemorainians, recently killed, their identification tags taken and their weapons missing.

Cynder came over to Spyro’s side and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright?”

“Something’s not right,” Spyro murmured. “These Kemorainians were killed recently.”

“So?” Cynder inquired. “What does that mean?”

“It means,” Spyro answered, “That someone came through here, and whoever was here – and whoever they were fighting – may still be in the area.” Spyro stood up, and the duo crossed the troughlike depression that split the room in two and headed through a waiting hatch. Once through the hatch, Spyro and Cynder were forced to navigate through a series of rooms, all empty, but painted with all manner of blood – Dragonarian, Kemorainian, and Terran.

Finally, Spyro and Cynder were wondering if they should turn back when they stepped through a hatch and found themselves face-to-face with a fear-crazed Terran. His eyes jerked from side to side, as if seeking something hidden within the shadows, and his mouth was twisted into a horrible grimace. There was no sign of the soldier’s primary weapon, but he had a pistol, which he used to fire at a shadow in the corner. “Stay back! Stay back! You’re not turning me into one of those things!”

Spyro raised a hand, palm out, and tried to talk to the soldier.

“Put the weapon down, soldier... we’re on the same side.”

But the marine wasn’t having any of that, and pressed his back against the solidity of the wall. “Get away from me! Don’t touch me, you freak! I’ll die first!”

The pistol discharged. Spyro felt the impact on his shields as the pistol’s 12.7mm slug rocked him back on his heels, and decided that enough was enough.

Before the marine had time to act, Spyro snatched the pistol out of his hand. “I’ll take that,” he growled. The marine leapt to his feet, but Spyro planted his feet and gently but firmly shoved the marine back to the floor.

“Now,” Spyro said, “Where is your CO, and the rest of your unit?”

The marine turned fierce, his features contorted, spittle flying from his lips. “Find your own hiding place!” he screamed. “The monsters are everywhere! God, I can still hear them! Just leave me alone!”

“What monsters?” Cynder asked gently. “The Rhynocs? The Kemorainians?”

“No! Not the Kemorainians. Them!”

That was all the duo could get from the crazed marine.

“Alright, the surface is back that way,” Spyro said, pointing the direction he came from. “I suggest you reload this weapon, quit wasting ammo, and head back topside. There’ll be a dust-off later on. Got it?”

The marine nodded and accepted the weapon, but continued to blather. A moment later, he curled up into a fetal ball, whimpered, and fell silent. The marine had clearly been through the wringer. Spyro simply stared at him, even as Cynder nudged him.

“What’s got you so jittery?” she asked him.

“Something’s wrong here,” Spyro said, looking to Cynder. “In every room we’ve come across, we’ve seen Terran, Kemorainian, and Dragonarian blood, no bodies, and all the signs of combat.”

“Are you saying that the Rhynocs killed them?” Cynder inquired.

“No,” Spyro answered. “Remember what the marine said? He knew that whatever killed everyone else who’d been here weren’t Rhynocs.”

Cynder hesitated as the ramifications of what Spyro said hit home. Now she felt as he did. With a growing sense of dread, the duo continued on their mission. They headed through a series of doors and mysteriously empty rooms until they came to the top of a ramp, where a dead Kemorainian in a pool of neon-purple blood caused them to pause.

Spyro had long ago learned to trust his instincts, and they nagged at him now. Something was wrong. For a place that had seen recent combat, it was entirely too quiet. They were close to something. They could feel it, but what?

Spyro and Cynder headed down the ramp and arrived at the level spot at the bottom, where a hatch sat closed to their left. They cautiously approached the door, and as they neared it, it sensed their presence, and slid open, dumping a dead Terran marine into Spyro’s arms. His pulse quickened as he bent over slightly to catch the falling body. He held his H40 one-handed and covered the room beyond as best he could, searching for a target. Nothing. Cynder had her weapon pointed back the way they came, and the duo covered both directions as they headed into the room. As the door slid shut behind them, Cynder turned around as Spyro set the dead marine on the floor, and her foot hit some spent bullet casings, which rolled away. That’s when she realized there were thousands of spent bullet casings; so many that they nearly carpeted the floor.

“A fight took place here,” Cynder said. But Spyro’s attention was elsewhere. “Spy--” Cynder started.

“Listen!” Spyro interrupted. Cynder quieted herself and heard what Spyro heard; an odd rustling sound that seemed to come from every direction at once.

A loud banging against the metal doorway sounded. Gripped with a growing sense of dread, Spyro and Cynder watched as the hatch on the far side of the room was hit repeatedly by something. Finally, the hatch gave way, and at least a hundred little gangrene-colored spiders flooded into the room.

In a deft, fluid move, Spyro loaded a HE grenade into the M900 launcher and fired without hesitation. The resulting explosion blew a hole in the oncoming swarm, and as the immediate batch was pulverized, the rest of them exploded like little firecrackers. Another hatch gave in, and a hundred more of the little spiders flooded into the room. Cynder tossed a grenade into their midst, which detonated as she opened up with the Sabot Cannon. A third hatch was forced open, and in addition to the fifty spiders that flooded into the room, several bipedal figures resembling Terrans, Dragonarians and Kemorainians tried to rush them.

Spyro opened up on one such figure with his H40. The 7.62x51mm rounds cut the monster in half, and Spyro sprayed the floor with auto fire as the spider creatures drew closer. Without consciously thinking about it, he punched an ex-human in the face, drew his arm back, and then launched it forward, palm exposed, and a concussive blast sent the ex-human and three of the other shambling corpses flying into the wall. They impacted with a loud crunch and slid down the wall as Spyro reloaded.

Cynder, having a weapon that works best in close quarters, waited for any of the enemies arrayed against them to get close, and then discharged a single shot that blew most of the zombies away and pulverized as many as twenty or thirty of the spiders. She had just blown an ex-Kemorainian out of his boots when another of the walking corpses – a horribly-ravaged Ryukaissen – made a vicious swing at her head with a tentacle growing out of his left arm. Cynder ducked the blow, pressed the muzzle of the SG-30 into the creature’s belly and pulled the trigger. The 12 gauge sabot shell blew the monster apart, and Cynder rose in time to fire again at an ex-Kemorainian.

As if this onslaught wasn’t bad enough, a fourth hatch gave way, and Spyro and Cynder were forced to deal with yet another complication; the walking corpses had acquired weapons, most likely from fallen victims, and knew how to use them.

Spyro and Cynder simultaneously greased one of the shambling monsters each, and as they fell on their comrades, the duo took the chance to dash through the hatch on the far side of the room. Once through, Spyro telekinetically bent the hatch door closed, and barricaded the door with several heavy objects.

“That should hold them for a few,” Spyro said. “Let’s get going before they manage to break through.” Cynder nodded, her heart still pounding from the encounter with these monsters. They headed deeper into the facility, drawn by some invisible force, to whatever awaited them...

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Book One of Eight? And there's multiple chapters. This is clearly going to be a story that keeps me occupied for a long time (but that's not a bad thing, most of the time I'm bored - and I like Spyro :D )

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Ah, yes - the eighth and final chapter of Book I. Book II is next, so watch out!

Chapter Eight

Endgame, or Prelude?

Spyro and Cynder continued to fight through hordes of shambling, half-naked corpses and swarms of fleshy, firecracker-popping, infectious spiders until they came upon a vast drilling device, where a mass of the bipedal, reanimated corpses held a convention at the bottom of the drill shaft, below the drill itself.

“Someone’s been doing some heavy excavation here,” Cynder commented.

“Yeah, I noticed,” Spyro said. “My main concern is getting down there without breaking my neck.”

Cynder took note of how the passage, though curved in a spiral all the way down to the bottom where the zombies were, had collapsed off to her left. She looked down, then suggested, “We could fly down there,”

“No,” Spyro said, “As soon as we enter their sight, they’d start shooting. The only way we could fly down there is if we could take them out before they knew we were there.”

There was a pause before Cynder looked to the drill, then to the bottom of the shaft, then made another suggestion. “Could we somehow use the drill to crush them?”

Spyro blinked twice as he thought it over, then looked to the drill. It was held in place by a massive magnetic plate. On the side of the plate’s support structure was what Spyro assumed to be the controls. He looked to Cynder and kissed her briefly.

“Wish me luck,” he said. He leapt before Cynder could react, and latched onto the drill with his claws. Using his claws as grappling hooks, he scaled up the drill and onto the magnetic platform. With some initial difficulties with the magnet itself, he managed to get to the controls. Though it was dark, Spyro managed to find the emergency magnetic shut-off switch. The magnet shut off in less than a second, and the drill dropped to the bottom of the shaft with a deafening boom!

Once Spyro was sure the zombies were effectively crushed, Spyro operated the magnet, lowered it to the top of the drill, and re-engaged the magnet. That done, he lifted the drill up until he was sure he would be able to fit under it with ample room.

He looked to Cynder in time to see her shake her head with a wry smile on her face.

“Not very subtle, Spyro,” she said.

“I know; but it seems to have gotten the job done,” Spyro replied before he leapt off the platform. He spread his wings to slow his descent, and when he was close enough, he flipped and landed on his feet in a half-kneeling, half-crouching position with his weapon held out to his right side. Cynder landed next to him, and they rose simultaneously.

Noticing the hole in the ground in the middle of the drill shaft, and seeing the evidence that the hole had been widened by the falling drill, Cynder said, “I guess we go down again,” and she and Spyro dropped down through the hole. When they landed, they pointed their weapons in opposite directions of the hall they were in.

“Okay,” Spyro said, “which way?”

Cynder looked to her right to see glyphs on the wall with arrows pointing both ways of the hall.

Not glyphs, she then realized upon a closer inspection, Dragon scripture. The arrow pointing down the hallway Cynder had her weapon pointed down said “This way to Dampening Field Power Station.” The arrow pointing down the opposite hall said “This way to the Tomb of the Dragon Lords.”

“We’ll have to split up from here,” Cynder finally said. “You head that way. Whatever’s controlling these mutants must be in the Tomb of the Dragon Lords.”

“What about you?” Spyro inquired.

“I’ll head this way,” Cynder answered. “Toward the power station generating the dampening field.”

“How do you know what’s down there?” Spyro queried before he noticed the Dragon writing on the wall. “Good luck, Cynder.”

Cynder kissed Spyro, and then whispered, “To both of us.”

Spyro then headed down the hall leading toward the Tomb of the Dragon Lords. He twisted through numerous halls, doorways, and empty rooms before coming into a room that was twenty, maybe twenty-five stories high. In the center, a dome-shaped rock sat, and at the top of that dome was...

One of the shambling, bipedal corpses, but unlike the vicious monstrosities that Spyro and Cynder had come across, this one was a near-undamaged Kemorainian.

“I have to admit, I didn’t expect you and your lover to make it this far,” the creature stated, his voice having a raspy, thrumming quality to it.

“Who are you?” Spyro asked.

“I am called Ravage, but do not let the name fool you.” the creature said.

“Do you control these monsters that have been attacking us from every imaginable direction?” Spyro inquired, lowering his H40.

“You imply dominance where none exists; I am the monsters that have been attacking you.” Ravage replied, leaping off the dome and landing twenty or so meters away from Spyro.

“An interesting, if cryptic response,” Spyro said as he and Ravage began circling each other. “So now that I have reached you, what happens now?”

“You have two options; leave, and you will not be harmed; or stay, duel me to the death, and fight your way back to the surface.” Ravage responded. “However, because you have done so well against my horde of mindless automatons, I am willing to allow you this third option; Join me, and you will have a power you’ve never known.”

“Power like what?” Spyro asked.

“The power to create and destroy life as you see fit; the power to affect an entire world, or the face of the galaxy, if you wanted to; the power to remold the universe in any way you wish.” Ravage answered.

Spyro realized what Ravage was trying to convince Spyro to do, and to accept Ravage’s offer would mean to turn against everything Spyro held dear; to betray Cynder, and Dragon Force for that matter.

“You are generous, Ravage,” Spyro said, setting his H40 down and brandishing his Plasma Katana. “Such an offer only a madman would turn away. However, it is my understanding that fate favors those who can turn away from such great power; not those who are slaves to it.”

“So be it, dragon,” Ravage responded with a scowl. He readied two wrist blades, and Spyro activated his plasma katana. They leapt for each other, and the battle was joined...

* * *

Cynder had just finished reloading her SG-30 after using the last eight shells to hose down a mob of the bipedal zombies. One of them tried to get up, but was cut down when Cynder shot it again.

Stay dead,” she said. She rounded a corner, crossed a hallway, and leapt over a downed bridge between the said hallway and another hallway. She then followed that hallway until it came to a steep ramp, and at the top, she paused.

She was in a circular room, with the controls to the Dampening Field on the far side of the room. It seemed too easy, which made Cynder feel uneasy. She cautiously approached the controls, and as she neared them, she reached out a hand. It glanced off of some sort of shield.

Drat. She looked to her right and saw three electrical routers connected to a generator at the side of the shield. There was a similar setup on the opposite wall.

She tried to shoot the generators, to no avail. They, too were shielded. That left Cynder with one option; the routers.

She shot one and ducked behind a wall as it exploded. She was glad she did this, however, because no sooner did the first router explode, it sent a fragment flying into the opposite router and disabled it. The shield flared, flickered, and died away. She approached the controls slowly, looking for another obstacle, but none presented itself.

She tapped the controls wearily, ready to call the Dragon’s Rage to get them back. It had been a hell of a day...

* * *

Spyro had battled Ravage to a defeat on Ravage’s part. Ravage had both his arms taken off, and was on his knees before Spyro.

“Fool!” Ravage hissed. “Do you realize what could happen should you strike me down?”

“I know exactly what would happen,” Spyro answered. “The tainted presence of evil will be gone from this valley. No one will be able to claim this valley’s power as a weapon.”

“A good cause, I am willing to admit,” Ravage said, “But there are consequences you are not seeing! For thirty years have I guarded this tomb from intruders! If you kill me, the guards of this tomb will fall silent and motionless, and anyone could walk in here to take this tomb’s power for themselves!”

“That is why I am prepared to guard this place myself,” Spyro said. “I cannot allow you to taint it any further.”

“And what should happen should you become corrupt?” Ravage asked. “What should happen if you should take the power of the Seven Dragon Lords for yourself?”

“I won’t,” Spyro replied. “I will not allow anyone to take this tomb’s power. I promise you that.”

Ravage simply stared at Spyro. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, Ravage said, “I can see you are sincere. But before you end my life and cleanse this ancient place, I would like to pass on a warning; You may have thwarted Lord Malkorr’s plan to take this place’s power, but he will not give up so easily. Tread carefully, for there will be blood and death before the end, and the enemy you face is closer to you than you realize.”

“I appreciate the warning,” Spyro said, “But I can handle it. I will not fall victim to the corruption that ensnared you.”

“Then finish it,” Ravage stated. “End me, and the tainted presence of evil will be gone.”

Spyro didn’t hesitate for a second as he killed Ravage. Right as the blade of his plasma katana sliced through Ravage, a bright light flashed, followed by another, and another, until lights were flashing all around him. When this light show finally ended, Spyro started back the way he came, and spotted Cynder. He walked towards her, collecting his H40 on the way, and as he reached her, collapsed in her arms.

“I’ve got you, baby,” Cynder said softly. Activating her comm unit, she said, “Charlie-November to Dragon’s Rage, come in. Over.”

“It’s about time,” Kell responded. “We lost your signal after you disappeared inside the structure. Now you’re coming in clear... except we’re picking you up almost a half-mile underground. How’d you get that deep?”

“It’s a long story,” Cynder replied as she dragged Spyro along. “Can you get us out of here?”

“Sure,” Kell answered. “Stand by.” Seconds later, Spyro and Cynder found themselves back on the ship. Noticing the way Cynder was carrying Spyro, Bianca asked,

“What happened to him?”

“He’s just tired; we both are.” Cynder replied.

“Did you accomplish what you had intended?” Kell inquired.

“We did,” Spyro said. “But for the sake of the galaxy at large, I think it best if Cynder and I keep to ourselves exactly what went on down there. If anyone knew what was down there, and how to use it, the... consequences... would be disastrous.”

Without another word, Spyro and Cynder left. They walked into their quarters and collapsed on the bed. None of the others spoke it, but something very important had been resolved. And because of the hell they went through together, they now were unified to one purpose; to destroy Lord Malkorr and combat whatever he threw their way.

So began the Legacy of Dragon Force...

To Be Continued...

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