This article, Nightwing, was written by Bioniclepluslotr. Please do not edit this fanfiction without the writer's permission.
Nightwing a sequel to Darkwing. It is about Dusk, a bat in a prehistoric world. Dusk returns to his colony after living with other bats. He feels that he belongs with his colony of chiropters, rather than bats. When he returned, he found that felids and other predators constantly attacked his colony and a new species of birds, owls, have driven other birds into his colony's territory. He discovers an unknown group of strange chiropters.
Part 1: The Tree Bark Regiment Edit
Chapter 1 - BirdsEdit
Dawn crept over the hill. The first light of the day struck Dusk straight in the face.
Dusk stirred. He yawned and rubbed his eyes with his sails. The chiropter rose and scrambled over to the edge of the branch he had slept on. He peered over the edge of it. As he admired the view from the tree, a voice behind him screamed, “Roar!”
“AAAG!” he cried as he fell over the edge of the branch. Instinctively, he opened his sails and started flapping. He turned around and looked at the branch he had just been on. On the branch, laughing her head off was his sister, Sylph.
“Sylph!” yelled Dusk, “That wasn’t funny!”
“Says you!” giggled Sylph. “You should’ve seen the look on your face!”
Dusk thought for a moment and started laughing too. He felt very silly.
“Let’s go hunting!” Sylph suggested.
“Race ya!” said Dusk, “Catch the most bugs to win!”
Both chiropters leaped off the branch. Dusk flapped his sails and Sylph glided.
Dusk had always been different. He was born with only two claws on each sail and his sails had no fur. His ears were extra large and he had weak feet. He had abnormally strong chest and shoulder muscles. He also had the ability to see in the dark with sound, echolocation.
Most of his colony had shunned him because of his differences. His only friend had been his sister. Now Dusk was a hero in his colony. When the colony was attacked by a prowl of felids, Dusk helped lead and protect the colony from felids, birds, and saurians. His father, the colony’s leader, had told him to scout ahead for danger because of his abilities to fly instead of gliding, and his echovision. When they had left the island and got to the mainland, Dusk had found other chiropters that were just like him. One of them told him that he was not a chiropter, but a bat.
Dusk cut through the air, using his echovision to find bugs, instead of sight. As usual, Dusk beat Sylph in the race.
“How many did you get?” asked Sylph, “I got 12.”
“27,” said Dusk, proudly.
“What?” cried his sister, “No one has ever gotten 27! The record is only 21.”
“Fine,” said Dusk, “I only got 26. I spat that last bug out.”
Sylph stared at him for a few moments, and then said, “Let’s go see if the rest of the colony is awake.”
At the tree, most of the other chiropters were climbing or gliding around. Some were eating grubs out of the trunk of the tree. A few newborns were chasing each other. Several elders had gathered together discussing the future movements of the colony.
The rest of the day was casual and normal, at least until the evening.
Dusk was chattering with a few other younger chiropters when a shrill warbling call sounded through out the land. Several chiropters looked around, alarmed.
In the distance, on the island, a large black mass was rising. It started swarming toward the mainland like a storm cloud. Suddenly, the strange cry came again and several chiropters glided out of the way of a large bird crashing through the air. It landed on the same branch that Dusk was on.
The bird was much larger than he was. Its head was a light gray color. Yellow and white feathers lined its body. Blood was streaked all over its chest.
The bird craned its head toward Dusk.
Dusk studied the bird for a moment, then, in a surprised tone, said, “Teryx?”
The bird looked at him and replied, “Hello Dusk.”
Then the large bird went limp.
By now, most of the chiropters had gathered around the bird or were watching the dark cloud coming closer. The faint outlined showed that the cloud was made of birds of all shapes and sizes.
“What is this!?” demanded an elder.
“It’s a bird,” someone said.
“Yes, we all know that,” said another.
“Don’t worry,” said Dusk, “I know this one.”
“How?” asked the elder, “These creatures are our enemies!”
“We met on the island. He helped show me how to land after flying,” explained Dusk, “His name is Teryx.”
The chiropters dragged the bird over to one of the nests. Others went out to meet the cloud of birds. Dusk had stayed with Teryx with Sylph to get some answers when he woke. Someone gave Dusk a leaf filled with water.
“Use this to wake him,” someone had told him.
Dusk dumped the water on Teryx’s head. The bird sputtered and groaned.
“Where am I?” he managed to ask.
“Safe,” reassured Dusk.
“The others,” cried Teryx, “Where are they?”
“Our elders are going to meet with them,” Dusk explained, “Get some rest and tell us what’s going on.”
“Attack,” wheezed the bird, “Other species of birds invaded. Owls, they call themselves.”
Dusk’s oldest brother, Auster, who had gained the leadership of the colony after his father had died, watched from the front of the crowd at the mass of birds, which was dangerously close now. The chiropters could see the angry expressions on the birds’ faces.
The cloud of birds swerved into a tree near the chiropters’ tree. The largest bird approached the chiropters.
“Beast of this territory,” he boomed, “we have taken this tree as our own. Do not interfere with us and we shall not harm you.”
Auster moved closer to the bird.
“Welcome to our land,” he said, “May I ask why you have migrated from the island?”
“Invaders,” the leader of the birds simply said.
Chapter 2 - Ghost ChiropterEdit
A murmur traveled through the colony. Several chiropters shuddered in fear at what could have driven these great birds from the island.
“Our scout headed to this tree,” said the bird leader, “Has he arrived?”
“I believe so,” answered Auster, “Do you mean… um… oh yeah, Teryx?
“He was pretty beat up when he arrived,” Auster informed.
“Oh, really,” said the bird, leaning forward, “He was in good conditions when he left, and he wasn’t attacked along the way.”
“You’re meaning of ‘good condition’ must be different than ours,” muttered Auster to himself.
“What are ‘Owls’?” asked Sylph.
“Big birds,” explained Teryx, “Big, traitorous, birds.”
“What do they look like,” Dusk asked, eagerly.
“Yes, we all know that. What else?”
“Sort of round-headed. Big eyes. And its head! Its head spun around in a circle without breaking its neck!” Teryx cried out.
“Strange…” said Sylph.
“Creepy…” said Dusk.
“Disturbing!” said Teryx, before falling limp again.
A chiropter crawled over to the nest.
“The birds want their scout back,” she said.
“Um,” said Sylph, “Now’s not a good time.”
Dusk poured some more water on Teryx, who sputtered to life.
“The birds want you back,” he said.
“They came here?”
“I was supposed to report back to them, but they followed me?”
Teryx stood up on his talons. Dusk helped the injured bird to the birds’ tree. Once they got there, a large she-bird hurried over to Teryx. Dusk recognized her as Teryx’s mother. He had seen her when she chased him away while he was talking to Teryx by the colony’s old home.
The birds stayed all through the night. No one could sleep with the constant chirping and cawing of the birds. It was so irritating that when it stopped, it made all the chiropters quite frightened.
“Why have they stopped?” said Sylph.
“They must need sleep, too,” Dusk said, hoping he was right.
“It just doesn’t feel right.”
“I’ll take a look then.”
Dusk flew through the canopy of the trees. As he reached the top of a tree, he scanned the area for anything out of place. Something moved. Dusk held his breath. Another shape followed the first one, then another, and another.
“Felids!” Dusk cried under his breath.
He remembered the large beasts that had broken the Pact that let all the beasts live in harmony, fighting the saurians. They had started to eat other beasts and they terrorized his colony and killed both his parents.
He quickly flew down to his colony.
“Everyone!” he yelled as loud as he could without letting the felids underneath the tree hear, “The Felids are here.”
Several chiropters looked around frightened. Some cried out in panic. Most started to climb up to the narrowest branches that couldn’t support the felids. Several birds started to call out again, flying to the highest branches.
The felids below jumped on to the trees. They snatched at chiropters that were just out of reach. Unfortunately, chiropters could not climb as fast as the felids. Fortunately, most of them were already on the upper branches already.
Dusk heard one of the felids growl something. The yellow-brown, cat-like creatures slowly crept up the tree.
“Hurry,” he whispered to the chiropters around him.
Then, Dusk noticed a row of chiropters with strangely large, bulbous, horned heads, lining the highest branches of the trees all around. Suddenly, they all dove at once, free falling with their wings tuck by their sides. They started to collide with the felids. The felids roared in fury. The falling chiropters looked as if they were using their heads as weapons.
One of the chiropters zipped by Dusk and he noticed that its strangely shaped head was actually a nutshell that it was wearing on its head. Thorns were stuck on the shell.
They’re using the shells as protection, thought Dusk, The thorns will hurt the felids on impact.
He looked back down. The felids were retreating. The chiropters were driving them back. Dusk let out a barrage of echovision, but got nothing but the felids. The chiropters on the ground had disappeared. He sat on the branch trying to make sense of it all.
Who were they? he thought.
Then he noticed there was someone on a tree across from the one he was on. He could make out the shell with the thorns on its head.
“Hey, you!” Dusk called.
The chiropter jerked its head toward him, his eyes glistening in the moonlight.
“Who are you?” Dusk yelled.
The chiropter looked straight at him and just faded into the darkness.
Chapter 3 - Ghost ChiropterEdit
In the morning, the chiropters were gathering in one tree making sure no one was hurt. Dusk got stuck in a group of wailing elders who wouldn’t stop making a fuss about the raid. Most of the chiropters had decided to stay and live in the upper branches.
“We should send scouts to find the felids and their homes,” one of the elders said. The others agreed.
“I need volunteers to scout for felids,” said Auster to the chiropters. Dusk waved his sail high into the air.
“I will go,” he said.
“So will I,” said Sylph.
Soon, a group of young chiropters had been sent out to glide over the surrounding trees to find any movement. Dusk became a valuable member once again, because of his special abilities. The forest looked blotchy from the sky so Dusk let his echovision take over him and he scanned the forest floor. Something scurried across the forest floor.
First, Dusk thought it was a soricid (he shuddered at the thought of the small rodents that had almost killed him), but it moved too slowly. A few more looks with echovision showed that it had sails. It was a chiropter. On its head was a shell with thorns.
He signaled his sister over.
“What is it?” asked Sylph.
“Look,” replied Dusk, gluing his eyes to the grounded chiropter.
“What is that? Who is that?”
“I’ll go down and take a look. Tell the others.”
Dusk circled around it once and descended. By now, the chiropter had started to climb up the trunk of a massive tree.
“You there!” cried Dusk, “Stop!”
The chiropter stopped on a low branch and stared at him. Dusk felt a chill go down his spine, causing him to lose his balance for a moment. He got even lower.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The chiropter stared at him and said, “That is for me to know and you to find out,” and he glided into the undergrowth and was gone.
Dusk was shaken. The chiropters voice was not natural. It sounded like the wind whispering to him. He flew back up into the air and found the rest of the group waiting for him in a tall sequoia.
“Well…?” asked Sylph.
“That was very strange,” Dusk said, slowly.
Suddenly, the branches of the sequoia started shaking as a mass of chiropters leaped from branch to branch. All of them had a shell on their head, but most didn’t have thorns on it.
“That!” cried Dusk.
The chiropters stopped and turned to them. Their eyes glowed in the light. Slowly, they moved up toward them.
“Run!” cried Sylph.
They started to flee but the chiropters had surrounded them.
Chapter 4 - The Tree Bark RegimentEdit
Dusk noticed that most of the chiropters had scratches and cuts. Some were covered in blood; others looked like they had broken bones. On some of their helmets, he noticed spots of what looked like fruit syrups, tree sap, or mud where thorns should be. Then he figured it out. These were the chiropters he had seen last night at the attack.
A chiropter with a helmet covered with leaves and thorns stepped forward.
“Who are you and what is your business?” he demanded.
“We… um… uh…” Dusk didn’t know what to say.
“We are scouting for our colony,” said Sylph, “There are felids in this land.”
A whisper went around the helmeted chiropters.
“Silence!” boomed the leader. He turned to Dusk, “I am Shadow, commander of the Tree Bark Regiment. We are friends.”
“Huh?” said Dusk, not understanding a single word he heard.
“The Tree Bark Regiment is the group of warriors that defend this area of the forest. Unfortunately, the saurians have taken over our territory and we have been forced to move into your colony’s territory.”
“You have heard enough.”
Suddenly, the chiropters surrounding them sank into the canopy of the trees and disappeared.
“Better report this to Auster,” whispered Sylph.
“Dusk was too stunned to do anything but nod.
“Explain again please,” said Auster.
Dusk sighed. He had tried to tell his older brother about the strange group of chiropters but no one understood what he was talking about.
“Listen. A bunch of chiropters with shells and thorns on their heads that call them selves ‘the Tree Bark Regiment’ moved to our territory! Not that hard to understand!”
“And you saw them several times?”
“Once during the attack, twice on the scouting trip.”
“Are they friendly?”
“They said that they were, but do you think you should trust them?”
“What do you think?
“You’re the leader!”
Dusk sighed again. His brother must have been the most inexperienced leader the colony had ever had.
“Go find them”, he said, “Talk to them. I think I know where they are.”
Auster took a handful of chiropters with him to find the Tree Bark regiment. Dusk and Sylph acted as guides to find them.
“This was the place where we last saw them,” said Dusk, “They have to be somewhere.”
He quietly used his echovision to look around the area. Several shapes lay motionless in the bushes and trees. He recognized the shapes,
“They’re watching us,” he whispered, “Let’s keep going.”
Something moved nearby. When Dusk looked, it had disappeared. He listened for a sound. There was nothing but bugs stirring. With another echovision glance, he saw another shape in the ground below them. There was some whispering coming from the leaves.
Suddenly, something knocked Dusk to the ground. The rest of the group was also knocked down. Dusk looked up. A chiropter with a helmet had him pinned down; his claws at his throat. Several other chiropters were surrounding them and others pushed the rest of his group together.
“Stop this!” shouted Auster, “We want to talk!”
A single chiropter stepped forward. Others bowed slightly to him as he passed. It was Shadow.
“What do we have here?” he asked the chiropter holding down Dusk.
“Spies, sir,” they were coming through the Tree Line Pass.
Shadow looked down at Dusk.
“You again?” he said.
“We only want to talk,” said Dusk.
“Who is your leader,” he demanded.
“Him,” Dusk pointed at Auster, “My brother Auster.”
Shadow pointed at a chiropter to hold Dusk down as he turned his attention to Auster.
“What do you want?”
“We just heard that you moved here and wanted to… um…”
Dusk sighed. His brother had no clue of what to say.
“We have come to see if you can help us,” he said.
“Silence!” the chiropter holding him down pressed his foot down on Dusk’s head.
“Hey!” shouted Sylph, “Stop hurting my brother!”
The chiropter holding Dusk down plucked a thorn from his helmet.
“See this?” he said, “This is tipped with soricid venom and poison berry juice. When the two mix, they make a deadly mixture. One prick and your dead,” he presses it to Dusk’s neck, “You wouldn’t want that to happen to your brother, would you?”
Sylph stopped talking. The chiropter snickered.
“Stop this!” shouted Shadow, “Let him speak.”
Dusk spoke up again, “If you help us fight the felids, we will offer you hospitality. We know this land, you don’t.”
“How do you know we don’t?” sneered the chiropter holding Dusk down.
“You wouldn’t be living here if you did.”
“Why?” Shadow leaned over Dusk.
“You currently happen to living in soricid nesting ground. A wonder you haven’t been attacked.”
“Actually we have,” exclaimed the chiropter holding down Sylph.
Shadow shot him a deadly glare. The chiropter winced and backed off. Shadow turned back to Dusk.
“What do you propose?”
“Help us defend our colony, and you can join it.”
Shadow looked around at the members of the Tree Bark Regiment.
“We will give you our answer tomorrow.”
Chapter 5 - Rounded UpEdit
The next day nothing happened. No one from the regiment had come to give their answer.
“I knew that they were liars,” muttered Sylph.
“Shush,” said Dusk, “They may still come.”
Dusk’s heart pounded with excitement. He wanted to know more about the Tree Bark Regiment. How they had formed, what they did, how they lived. His mind buzzed with questions.
“They’re not coming,” Sylph said again.
Night came. All daylight was gone. Sylph had gone, but Dusk waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing came.
Sylph was right, he thought, They lied.
He drifted off to sleep, still thinking of the recent events.
Dusk woke to the sound of rustling leaves and branches. He lay still, waiting for something unexpected to happen like a felid attack.
Dusk slowly sat up, using echovision to check the area. Several dark shapes were nearby. One of them moved forward and the others followed. The one in the lead pointed to Dusk. His blood chilled.
“Round them up!” the shape suddenly shouted.
All the others seemed to multiply to hundreds.
The Tree Bark Regiment had arrived.
Part 2: FireEdit
Chapter 6 - Answers RecruitmentEdit
Panic swept through the colony. Hundreds of the regiment’s warriors surrounded the entire Colony Tree.
Shadow stepped out of the shadows. He turned to the cowering chiropters around him.
“Where is your leader!” he cried.
“What do you want?” Auster stepped forward.
“Ah,” said Shadow, suddenly going from intimidating, to a calm stance, “We have our answer. We will join you.”
Dusk, who had come over, sighed with relief. They had protection now against the felids.
“Now,” said Shadow, “Where can we stay?”
Auster pointed at a neighboring tree.
“You may stay there.”
The Tree Bark Regiment glided as one like a black cloud to the large tree.
Suddenly, there was a loud cry and chiropters and birds swarmed out of the tree.
Shadow dived at Auster. He grabbed his head with his foot and slammed him against the trunk of the tree.
“Are you trying to get us all killed?” Shadow shouted in fury, “The birds occupy that tree. They will kill us!”
“I’m sorry!” cried Auster, “I forgot! The birds only arrived a few days ago! You can stay in this tree.”
“Fine,” said Shadow, “But anymore tricks and we’re leaving, and you will pay!”
Excitement rushed through Dusk in the morning. He wanted to know all about the Tree Bark Regiment, but his brother’s flaws last night, limited his sources for answers.
He was so lost in thought that he didn’t notice Shadow coming up behind him.
“You’re Dusk aren’t you?” said Shadow.
Dusk nearly fell out of the tree.
“Um, yes,” he said, “How did you know?”
“I overheard some of you colony talking about how you saved them from felids. They described you as the ‘different one.’”
“Oh, yeah,” Dusk had almost forgotten that he was different from all the others because he had now been accepted in his colony.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” said Shadow, “how do you feel about your… differences?”
“I feel, just fine,” said Dusk, “now that my colony has understood how valuable my abilities are.”
“I can fly upward, I can see in the dark with sound, I can do things the other can’t.”
Shadow looked away into the distance.
“I’ve seen how special you are. Your colony was right; you are a valuable member to them.”
“I wonder, did it occur to you why you were given these abilities?”
“No. I always thought I was a freak, until I was accepted.”
“Would you like to join the regiment?”
Dusk was caught off guard.
“I think you can make a great member to the Tree Bark Regiment. The fact that you saved your colony alone is enough to make me wonder, if you joined us, you could help us a lot!”
Dusk thought about it for a moment.
“Yes” he said, “I’ll join you.”
“Sylph!” shouted Dusk, “I did it! I did it!”
“Slow down, Dusk,” said his sister, “What are you blabbering about?”
“The Regiment! I’ve gotten in!”
“You got into the Tree Bark Regiment? How?”
“Their leader, Shadow, over heard some of the colony talking about how I helped bring them here. He thought my special abilities could help the regiment!”
“Too bad,” Sylph turned away, “I don’t trust them.”
“What?” Dusk was stunned. He thought the regiment members were great.
“Look how they treated our brother! I know he made a few mistakes, but Shadow almost broke his neck!”
“Because they almost got killed by birds!”
“Whatever. Do what you like, but I still don’t trust them.”
Later in the day, a regiment member came to Dusk. He was much bigger than any other chiropter he’d ever seen and towered over him.
“You the new recruit?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Dusk, looking up.
“Name’s Tark. Shadow assigned me to you. He wants to make sure that you know all about the regiment. A member’s no good if they don’t know how to make a helmet,” Tark tapped the nutshell on his head, “Come.”
He led Dusk to the lower parts of the tree where the Tree Bark Regiment dwelled.
“Look,” said one the members, “It’s the new guy. Shadow says he might be able to help us out a lot!”
Dusk felt pride swell up in him. He barely knew this chiropter, but he had already heard of him apparently. So had many others, he learned moments later.
There was a lot of chattering around Dusk.
“Ignore them,” said Tark, “They haven’t seen a new member for a while.”
Tark took Dusk lower in the tree. Finally, they stopped by a very small chiropter, barely older than a newborn. Seeing him and Tark together was like seeing a pebble and a boulder next to each other.
“This is Grif,” said Tark, “He is our second newest member, our medic, and our helmet builder. He will help you build a helmet.”
He left and Dusk was alone with Grif.
“Hello,” said Grif, “Grab a shell.”
Dusk turned to the side, where stacks of nutshells were placed by size.
“Which one?” he asked.
“Whichever one fits you,’ said Grif, “I recommend the second stack.”
Dusk pulled one of the shells out of the stack and placed it on his head. It fit comfortably.
“Bring it over,” instructed Grif.
He pulled out a shell filled with sticky tree sap and put a stick in it.
“Use the stick to apply the sap to the helmet to keep the thorns in place.”
Dusk used his sails to hold the stick and placed tree sap in areas where he thought thorns might be placed.
“Good,” said Grif, “Now place the thorns.”
He put another shell out, this one filled with thorns.
Dusk put thorns on the areas where he had put sap. When he was done, Grif took the helmet.
“Very good,” he said, “Now for the final step. I’ll do it.”
Grif took a thorn and started stabbing the sides on the helmet with it. Once he got two holes opposite of each other, he strung a strong, thin vine through them for a strap to keep the helmet on.
“Congratulations,” said Grif, “Your helmet is finished. Go speak with Tark. He’s a few branches above us.”
Dusk put on his new helmet, feeling more excitement than ever.
Chapter 8 - HistoryEdit
Tark was waiting for Dusk higher up in the tree.
“Shadow wishes to speak with you,” he said, “He’s over in the highest branches.”
Dusk was grateful for his ability to fly upward, unlike other chiropters, which could only glide down. Otherwise, he would have to climb the whole way up and his weak legs would slow him down.
The top of the tree was cooler than the bottom.
A large part of the regiment had gathered there, making it very crowded.
Dusk turned around. Shadow was behind him.
“I see you have your helmet made,” he said.
“You’re wondering why you are here.”
“I think your purpose, here in this world, is to be of a new line of species of chiropters.”
“What?” Dusk was confused.
“I have seen more of your kind, with very similar differences. You are one of the future chiropters.”
“I have seen others of my kind too,” Dusk said, remembering a group of bats he had met on his colony’s journey. He had actually live with them for a while after the colony’s journey, but he felt that he belonged with his colony.
“Enough of that,” said Shadow, “You need to learn about the history of the Tree Bark Regiment.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Long ago, when saurians were many, they terrorized the beasts until The Pact was formed. The beasts made several regiments of many species. The Tree Bark Regiment was one of them. They hunted down the saurians’ nests and destroyed their eggs and young ones. Once the reign of the saurians was over, the beasts turned on each other and the regiments fought until none of the beasts kept the regiments in order except the Tree Bark Regiment.”
Shadow looked down, “That’s how we came to be.”
“Wow,” said Dusk.
He had gotten the information he wanted.
Suddenly, one of the chiropters cried out.
“Felids! Over there!”
All eyes turned in the direction the chiropter was pointing. Several dark shapes were moving around, deep in the foliage.
“Those aren’t felids,” said Dusk, “They’re too big.”
“You’re right,” said Shadow, “They look like…”
“Hyaenodons!” shouted one of the chiropters, “Look! They’re closing in!”
“Get everyone to the top of the trees. Get the regiment battle ready!”
“Shadow,” shouted one of the chiropters, “What about the trap.”
“Trap?” asked Dusk puzzled.
“We’ll spring it when they get close.”
“What trap?” Dusk was even more confused.
“What you’re about to see,” said Shadow, “was what led us to victory many times.”
“What are you talking about?”
Dusk had heard of fire, coming from lightning, but he had never actually seen it himself. Excitement stirred in his chest.
“We’ve collected fire and stored it in that tree over there,” Shadow gestured over to the tree next to the one they were on, “The tree’s trunk is thick enough to stop the fire from spreading, but keep it burning. Now you will see what the Tree Bark Regiment can do.”
Chapter 9 - Fire TrapEdit
“Head over to the fire tree,” Shadow commanded Dusk, “Warn them about the hyaenodons!”
When Dusk got to the fire tree, he could smell something that made his throat burn. The tree was warmer than the rest. There were a few chiropters stationed there.
“What’s going on?” asked one of the sentries.
“Hyaenodons! Over there!” warned Dusk, “Shadow said he wants to spring a trap, but I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
“Well, I do,” said the sentry, “Look closely over there. There is a ring of darker ground.”
Dusk look closely. He could see it.
“Here, take this,” the sentry took a stick and put it in a knothole in the tree. It burst into flames on one end, “When the hyaenodons get in the ring, drop this on the black part and stay back, way back and watch.”
Dusk took the burning stick, admiring the pretty flames one the end.
He looked down; the large dog-like hyaenodons were almost there. Then he spotted felids, coming up close behind the hyaenodons. They would all be in the ring at the same time. Perfect.
The moment the hyaenodons stepped in, Dusk dropped the stick, letting the felids enter the ring as the stick fell.
Then, right when the stick touched the black stuff, there was a flash and a roar and dusk was knocked out of the air. Fortunately, he landed in the tree where Shadow was. He looked back at the ring. It was burning fiercely. He could not see any of the beasts.
Shadow came up behind him.
“Poor beasts,” he said, “If only they had stayed with the pact, we would have saved the trap for the saurians, if any remained.”
Dusk was too stunned to say anything. The blast had left a scorched circle in the forest.
“Yeah. What was that?”
“Fire rocks. We discovered it in a saurian cave. One of our members accidentally dropped a flame on one and we discovered what they could do.”
“Look!” cried one of the sentries.
A group of felids were moving away from the fire.
“Survivors. Can’t have that. We gotta get outta here,” said Shadow, “Move back to the home tree. Make sure they don’t follow us.”
Back at the home tree, half the colony had seen the blast or smoke from the trap. Several were wondering about it.
When Dusk got back, Sylph immediately found him.
“What was with all the smoke and rumbles?” she demanded.
“Felids and hyaenodons.”
“They did that?”
“No. The regiment set a trap and I got to spring it on them!”
“Are they gone?”
Before Dusk could answer, some one shouted, “Felids!”
Dusk flew up to the top of the tree. Many chiropters had gathered there, whispering.
“Look!” someone pointed into the thick forest. Several dark shapes were moving in.
“Not again!” a chiropter wailed.
Dusk looked down.
“Shadow!” he called, “The felids are coming!”
Lower in the tree, Shadow and Auster were talking. When they heard Dusk’s call, Auster looked Shadow straight in the eye.
“This is what you are here for,” he said, “Let’s see what you can do.”
Part 3: BatsEdit
Chapter 10 - BattleEdit
Most of the regiment members had moved to the top of the tree by the entire colony was warned of the danger. The chiropters that weren’t part of the regiment hid in the hollow tree trunks.
“Stay hidden and stay quiet,” Auster had told them, “but keep your eyes open, for you are about to see how the Tree Bark Regiment handles these foul beasts.”
On the top of the tree, Dusk used echolocation to locate the felids’ position. In his mind, he could see the silvery images of the forest and several specks that were bugs and particles in the air. But he did not see the felids.
“Where’d they go?” he asked aloud.
“There!” one of the chiropters pointed with his sail to the base of a nearby tree.
The felids were sniffing at the base of the tree. Suddenly, one of then snatched a small rodent out of a fern with his powerful jaws and crushed it with his teeth and devoured it.
“Be quiet and still,” someone said, “They may not notice us.”
The felids were at the tree for sometime. Then they moved on to the next tree to find what they could eat. The one turned to the chiropters’ tree and sniffed. He growled something to the others and they started to move toward the large tree.
“Not good,” whispered Dusk.
Suddenly, from a sequoia above the felids, a large group of the Tree Bark Regiment dove out in a tuck-dive and buffeted the felids with their helmets. Every time one of the felids would try to bite a chiropter, another one would ram into it. Then, one of the felids cried out in pain ad collapsed. Moments later, the others did the same. They were dead. The chiropters cheered.
Everyone in Dusk’s tree glided down (with the exception of Dusk, who flew down). The colony’s chiropters poked their heads out of the trees.
From the mass of chiropters on the ground, Shadow climbed on to the top of a dead felid. Then he bent down and sank his teeth into the felid’s body, drawing blood. He spat out the blood and raised his sail in the air, a sign of victory. The crowd cheered louder.
Then, slowly, the cheer died out and suddenly everyone started to panic. They climbed the trees as fast as they could. Dusk looked around frantically and saw what had disturbed everyone.
Five more felids were moving in, fast. Dusk flew up into a tree. Shadow was in the same tree.
“Regiment!” he shouted, “Prepare to dive!”
Then, someone grabbed Dusk on the shoulder. It was Tark.
“Sit this one out, kid,” he said, “Wait at the fire tree and help Grif with the wounded.”
Dusk flapped his wings as hard as he could and took off from the tree and started to head for the fire tree. Behind him, he could hear the roars of the felids and the yells of the chiropters.
When he reached the fire tree, there was no one there.
“Hello?” he called.
“Who’s there?” someone asked.
“It’s Dusk,” he answered, closing his eyes against the heat generated from the fire in the tree.
“What’s going on?” Grif stepped out from the shadows of the leaves.
“There’s a felid raid.”
Grif sighed, “As long as they don’t find this tree, we’re safe.”
Dusk looked around. There was no one else there. All he could hear was the crackling of the fire inside the tree, but nothing else.
“Where is everyone?” he asked.
“Follow me,” Grif said and turned to a knothole in the tree.
He climbed inside and Dusk followed.
Inside, it was fiercely hot and Dusk found it hard to breathe. There were many passages in the tree. One side of the tunnel was the side facing outwards away from the tree. The other side was a wall that blocked the core of the tree, where the fire is, from the tunnels. The Tree Bark Regiment had obviously occupied this tree for a long time for them to create these tunnels.
The two chiropters followed the largest tunnel down to the lower parts of the tree’s interior.
“This tree was once the regiment’s home, before the Pact was broken and we moved away,” Grif explained, “The traitors knew that we lived here so we left, but we came back and the now felids don’t know we’re here.”
The farther they went down, the cooler it got, until it was the same temperature as the outside air.
“Behold our old home,” said Grif.
Chapter 11 - The Fire TreeEdit
Dusk and Grif reached the end of the tunnel. There was nothing there except a wall of wood.
“Well?” Dusk looked at Grif, expectantly.
Grif pushed on the wood wall and it tilted down revealing a small hole.
“This way,” Grif pointed.
Dusk had a hard time getting through the hole because it required him to crawl on his chest and his top-heavy body made it more difficult.
When he finally got through he was too shocked to move. The core of the tree was much larger than it looked from the outside. Many regiment members glided from wall to wall, carrying wood and other supplies in their mouths. In the center of the tree was a massive plume of fire that reached the length of the tree. The fire was constantly being fed to keep it going. Lookouts were stationed at every hole in the tree.
“This is our base,” explained Grif, grinning at Dusk’s expression.
He pointed at the plume of fire. “That’s what the fire tree is all about. The fire climbs up the sides of the tree, but the wood is too thick to burn through.”
“What’s that?” Dusk asked turning his head to a small area enclosed by a curtain of leaves.
“That’s the infirmary, where we keep the injured. I have to check on them often,” said Grif, “and you’re helping me.”
Inside the infirmary there were many small piles of leaves that the injured lay on. They turned their heads toward the entrance as Grif and Dusk entered.
“Hey, look,” said one of the injured chiropters. He had a long gash down his side. It was mostly covered by leaves with some sort of sticky liquid on it, but Dusk could still see the wound. “It’s the new recruit.”
He turned to the chiropter next to him. “Shadow must be quite desperate to start recruiting from the colony. And look! He started with the freak!”
“Shut up,” muttered the other chiropter, “or I’ll make sure that you get more cuts on your head.”
Grif turned to Dusk. “Don’t mind him. He’s just upset that he can’t be out with the rest of the regiment.” He looked back out the entrance. “Wait here.”
Grif left and Dusk was alone with the injured. One of them, who was sleeping soundlessly before, looked up at Dusk.
“Hey!” he exclaimed, “You’re the one that can fly!”
“Yep. That’s me.” Word travels fast.
“What’s it like?” asked the injured one.
Dusk was silent. He did not know how to describe it. “Kind of like gliding, but flapping your sails and going up, instead of down.”
“Wow. That must be handy escaping the felids.”
“Yes, it is.”
Just then, Grif returned with a small pile of leaves in his mouth. He spat them on the ground.
“These leaves are our painkiller herbs. They help ease the pain.”
He put the leaves in his mouth and chewed it up. Then he spat it back out in a nutshell.
Suddenly, he turned to Dusk and said, “Did Tark start your training yet?”
“No? Then this is your first lesson: medications. Let’s begin.”
Chapter 12 - Mistake?Edit
“This herb is for infections,” said Grif.
Dusk didn’t notice. He had gotten so bored for the past half hour that he had stopped listening to Grif and was grooming himself when Grif took an empty nutshell and slammed it on his head.
“Ow!” cried Dusk, “What was that for?”
“You weren’t paying attention. The Tree Bark Regiment has no time to train chiropters who don’t listen to their teachers.”
“Teachers, huh?” Dusk muttered. Grif must be at least 3 years younger than him and he was his teacher.
“Now tell me, which herb is good for infections?” Grif asked.
Dusk looked at the piles of leaves. They all looked the same.
“This one.” Grif pointed at a pile of ground up leaves. “Remember it.”
As Dusk sniffed the herb, a loud thump echoed through the tree. Several of the workers looked up. Something rammed into the tree again.
“What was that?” Dusk wondered aloud.
A regiment member flew in through a hole in the bark.
‘The felids found the tree!” he shouted, “Evacuate!”
“We can’t!” cried Grif, “The wounded can’t move.”
“Then we must hold here,” said the regiment member.
Just then, Tark flew in through the same hole.
He looked at Dusk and said, “Come with me.”
He climbed up the walls as Dusk flew along.
“The felids are trying to break through the wall,” Tark explained.
There was another thump against the wall. Dusk could hear the roaring of the felids. The wall couldn’t hold any longer.
As they neared the hole, Tark suddenly glided out and tuck his wings and dived at the felid ramming into the wall with his helmet aimed at the felid’s head. The felid roared at the impact and thrashed around for a few seconds before falling down dead. Dusk flew down next to Tark.
“How did you do that?” he asked, surprised.
“We’ve tipped our helmet thorns with poison. Very deadly poison.” He looked into the forest. “You better get back to your colony. They’ll be wondering about you.”
“Don’t you need help?” asked Dusk.
“I don’t think you can help very much. You haven’t even had your training yet.”
“I’ll tell you tomorrow. I am your trainer, by the way.”
“Great,” said Dusk, not very excited. There was so much going on and he couldn’t even help.
“Go, quickly,” said Tark, hurriedly.
Dusk flew back to the Colony’s tree thinking. Was joining the regiment a good choice? It seemed to be a lot more work than he’d expected and he was starting to feel bored by it. Maybe I shouldn’t have joined, he thought.
Chapter 13 - Owls and Fire From the SkyEdit
“Where were you?” Sylph asked immediately as Dusk got back.
“Doing ‘training’ at the Fire Tree,” said Dusk.
“The regiment again?” his sister sighed, “Why do you spend so much time with them?”
“Because I joined them,” said Dusk.
“I still don’t know why you like them. They’re just a bunch of chiropters with funny things on their heads!” His sister glided off the branch, leaving Dusk alone.
His sister had a point. Why had he joined them?
Because I was curious, he thought. He was now starting to regret joining. I wasn’t like an adventure, like how he’d though it would be. It was boring and took up much of his day. Besides, Tark said he couldn’t do anything, so what was the point?
Just then, he noticed the chirping of birds, first gently, then louder and louder, until the forest shook with their squawks. Dusk looked around frantically. The sky was suddenly filled with a cloud of birds. In the midst of the birds, several larger birds were swooping around, snatching smaller birds out of the sky. These birds were like none he had ever seen.
The birds started scattering and one group was headed in Dusk’s direction. Quickly, Dusk swooped down onto the trunk of the tree and clung to it as the birds passed through. He thought he saw Teryx fly past but he wasn’t sure. After all, many of the birds looked the same.
Then one of the larger birds flew by. It was huge, twice the size of some of the other birds. Its head had no crest, unlike most of the other birds. Its sharp talons were stretched out and it snatched a straggling bird out of the air. The bird chirped and struggles and was still.
Owls, though Dusk.
Another owl flew past. It perched on a branch near Dusk. Dusk drew back into the leaves. The owl’s head suddenly turned at an odd angle, facing where Dusk was. Dusk held his breath. The owl hopped on to his branch. It peered through the leaves and stared with its huge eyes right into Dusk’s eyes.
It hopped a little closer. Suddenly, something flying at an amazing speed smashed right into the owls face. It screeched and fell. Whatever hit the owl fell with it. Dusk had not seen what or who it was, but he was grateful for it.
Something landed behind Dusk. It was one of the regiment’s members.
“Come this way,” he said hurriedly. Dusk followed. They flew to the Fire Tree.
“Go in. We’ve gotten as many chiropters as we could in there.”
Inside the tree, it was much more crowded that it was the first time Dusk had gone in. Many of the non-regiment chiropters were staring at the huge blazing flame in the center of the tree. On one of the small ledges on the interior of the tree, several of the elders had gathered with Auster and Shadow. Dusk flew closer to hear what they were saying.
“-are attacking for no reason!” an elder was exclaiming.
“The felids attack us to eat us,” said another. Many of the elders nodded and murmured.
In the back, Shadow whispered something to Auster, who nodded. Shadow stepped forward. “The felids did not attack for food.”
The elders looked at him like he was a stupid fool. “Then what did they want?” asked one of them.
“They wanted to kill us.” One of the elders laughed. “Isn’t that the same thing as eating us?”
“No. They weren’t killing to eat. I saw them; killing my troops, and just leaving their bodies there, for scavengers.”
“What about those birds? Those monsters?”
Shadow hesitated. “Those birds attacked other birds. They truly are monsters. They can snatch a felid off the ground with ease.”
“What are they?” one of the elders asked.
“Owls!” Dusk blurted out before he had a thought.
All the elders and the leaders turned their heads. Dusk looked around, embarrassed.
“What?” asked Auster.
“Owls,” Dusk repeated, “One of the birds told me. You know, the one that crashed into the tree a while ago.”
“What did he say about them?” one of the elders demanded.
Dusk thought for a moment. What did Teryx say about the owls? “Well, they’re big… and they have big eyes… That’s about all I remember.” “Didn’t he say something about their heads?” Dusk turned around to find Sylph behind him. “Oh, yeah. They can turn their heads in a full circle.”
“They kill to eat,” said Shadow.
All of a sudden, the ground shook intensely. Chiropters were thrown across the hollow trunk. The column of fire wavered. There was a loud crack, like a twig snapping, but about a thousand times louder. A bright flash of blue light shone throw a knothole. Several chiropters peered out of the tree. A very bright blue circle was just floating in the air. Then something came through. At first, it looked like a log. But it was too big to be a tree, much too big, and it had strange limbs hanging out of the middle and the back of the object. And the object was on fire. The bright blue circle suddenly shrunk to nothing and the flaming object fell the ground. Dusk looked in awe at the sight.
“What is that?” someone whispered.
The ground shook again as the object hit the ground. It had landed not far from the Fire Tree, but there was too much foliage to see it. The only thing that marked its location was the blazing fire that was shooting up into the air.
Chapter 14 - RanksEdit
The next day, Shadow called a gathering of the regiment.
“Today, we are going to bring back the ranks,” he said loudly. The many of the regiment cheered. Dusk had no clue what the ranks were. He turned to Tark, who was next to him.
“What are the ranks?” he asked.
“Shh. You will see.”
Dusk looked around. He saw that Grif was also confused.
“… and once we are ranked, we shall investigate the mysterious fire that came to us for the heavens last night,” Shadow finished.
“Heavens?” Dusk asked again.
“The place of the Gods,” Tark answered, not looking at him.
Tark sighed. “I’ll tell you everything during training, if we ever get to that.”
Shadow cleared his throat. “For those who are new to our regiment, ranks are used to hold this regiment together. Each and every one of you will be given a rank. One must address a higher ranking as ‘sir’. I am ranking my self as Lord, so you must address me as Lord Shadow. I shall now rank my lieutenants.”
Shadow said several names of chiropters, including Tark (who seemed extremely happy).
“Lieutenants, break up the regiment to several groups and rank your group.”
Dusk was placed under Tark’s command. Tark named several chiropters with the rank Sergeant. Then, the Sergeants ranked the Corporals. Finally, the Corporals broke the original group up in to groups of five or six to be named Private. Dusk was ranked Private.
Each rank has a small symbol carved into their helmets with a small stone. The symbol for Private, which was carved into Dusk’s helmet, looked something like a branch bent at an angle.
After every chiropter in the Tree Bark Regiment was ranked, Lord Shadow climbed up to a high ledge in the tree.
“Now we shall find out what that object from the heavens is.”
In the forest, the smoldering mass of what came last night was still visible, making it much easier to spot.
Dusk’s heart was in his throat. After seeing it coming from the blue light, he didn’t know what to expect. He had seen it falling from the sky, but it was hard to see because of the bright light. Dusk was placed in a group of five others, including Private Grif, and Lieutenant Tark. The others in his group were Private Loyan, a tall chiropter with large sails, Private Hujaska, a small and fast chiropter, and Corporal Indar, a large, muscular chiropter.
The regiment had spread out through the forest, making it harder for felids to spot them. Dusk’s group glided through the trees silently. Suddenly, Private Hujaska stopped on a branch.
“Sir,” he said, addressing Tark, “Felids, up ahead.”
Tark peered forward. “Keep an eye on them. Stay swift and silent.”
The felids down below were snarling at each other. Dusk saw that they were eating the carcass of an equid, a small mammal.
“Crash site, up ahead,” Corporal Indar whispered.
Through the trees, Dusk could see other groups moving in.
“There it is,” Grif exclaimed.
Dusk held his breath and looked ahead.
Chapter 15 - Something UnbelievableEdit
What Dusk saw was something that that was impossible. A massive tree shaped object was planted into the ground at an angle. It was massive. The “trunk” was smooth, too smooth to be wood, and there were clear spaces placed equally along its sides. Flames were scattered all over the structure and a large hole had formed.
“My god,” whispered Tark.
Lord Shadow appeared by Dusk’s group.
“Form up, troops,” he shouted, “Move in!” He pointed at the hole. “Get in there and find out what this thing is.”
Many of the regiment members immediately started to climb up the smooth wall of the mysterious object.
Several gasped when they peered inside.
“Sir,” one of the regiment members said, “you’d better look at this.”
Dusk followed Shadow and some other curious troops over to the flaming object. He flew into the hole and gasped at what was inside.
The inside of the object was filled with rows and rows of strange-shaped object. There were several broken pieces of things Dusk had never seen before. But what startled the chiropters the most was what lay in the strange objects that were arranged in rows. Bodies. Many of them were empty, but the rest of the objects were occupied with bodies. Dusk drew close to one and gasped again. The structure of the body’s limbs and the wings could only mean one thing; it was a bat. On its face was a gray piece of material that Dusk had never seen or felt. It looked like a bird’s face, a mask of terror. It looked like a helmet. On top of the helmet were short spikes. The helmet covered where the bat’s eyes should have been, with a long gold strip running across the eyes.
The front and back of the body was covered with the same material that made the helmet. More pieces of the material lined the membranes of the wing.
“What are those?” someone asked.
Dusk did not answer. He used his claws and pulled off the helmet. Underneath was the face of a bat, eyes wide with terror. A streak of dried blood trailed out of his mouth. Dusk looked down at the bat’s waist. A strand of something hard, yet flexible, was tied around it.
Suddenly, a crack sounded through the air. Then it came again, and again. Suddenly, a repeated crackling that sounded like twigs snapping shot through the air. Several of the troops looked into the air. Suddenly, there was a roar.
“Felids,” Dusk whispered to Grif, who was beside him. Grif nodded.
The roar cam again, this time it sounded pained. The crackling came again and all was still and silent.
“What was that?” Private Loyan asked.
“Someone check that out!” Shadow commanded, “Lieutenant Tark, take your team toward that sound. I want to find out what it is and if it a threat to us.”
The forest seemed much darker with the smoke in the air from the mysterious “object from heaven”. There was much less noise; no chirping of birds, no sounds of insects. The place seemed dead at the moment.
“Watch for felids,” Tark said quietly.
As soon as he said it, a felid ran below them. The group quickly stopped on a branch and stayed low. The felid stopped and sniffed. It looked around and started running again.
“That’s strange,” said Hujaska, “He couldn’t smell us.”
“I think he did, but wasn’t interested,” Grif exclaimed.
“Look,” cried Tark.
An owl swooped through the trees and snatched the felid off the ground. It snarled and thrashed around, but the owl was too strong. It flew back into the sky a disappeared.
“No doubt there will be more,” Dusk said, hoping it wasn’t true.
Chapter 16 - Warriors of the GodsEdit
“Stay low and quite,” said Tark. He turned to Dusk and said, “I noticed that we’ve never gotten to your training, so I’m gonna use this mission as your training. Watch and learn.”
Dusk nodded. He had already learned a lot from watching the troops fight felids. The helmet was their main weapon and defense he figured out. Stealth was also important.
“Wait,” Indar said suddenly. He pointed at a spot on the ground. Dusk could see the outline of a fire-circle. “Who left that there?” Indar asked, “I don’t remember anyone from Tree Bark doing this.”
“Must be one of the older ones from the battle with saurians,” said Private Loyan, “One of the other groups may have left it. Probably the Brownfield Brigade. They worked heavily in this area.”
“I’m surprised it’s still intact. I would’ve thought the wind and beasts might have already disturbed it,” Hujaska commented.
“Focus,” growled Tark. He looked forward. Up ahead were more felids. “Stay still,” he ordered. From the trees came a blaze of light and a loud crackle. The felids roared and one of them fell. There was more crackling and the felid was still.
The group heard some distant shouting. Suddenly, several chiropters- no, not chiropters- bats flew from the trees. Bats. “Look!” exclaimed Dusk.
“By the gods…” Loyan whispered.
The bats were covered in a shiny material that Dusk had never seen. On their heads were helmets, made with the same material. They did not look anything like the Tree Bark Regiment’s helmets. The designs on them looked more ornamental and covered their entire face. One of the bats landed on the dead felid. On his wing were large skinny objects that looked like extensions of claws. In it was a small stick that looked unnatural. The bat put the stick on his back, where it magically stuck. Then the claws folded over the membranes on the bat’s wings.
Dusk stared in disbelief. The rest of the group has the same reaction.
Then one of the bat’s spoke.
“Ugly bastards,” he said, “Reminds me of those tigers back at home, just much, much smaller.”
“You and your tigers,” another one said, “these things are more like those house cats. Same size.”
“Cut the chatter,” one of the others said, “We need to clear this area for the rest of the company.”
“Bah,” the first one spat, “Just use the bombs. Cleared away an entire forest during the Rock War.”
“Our supplies are limited right now,” said the one Dusk assumed was the team leader.
Dusk remained still as he listened on.
“What’re we going to do when we find it anyways?” asked one of the other bats.
“We’re going to find it. And we’re going destroy it.”
Suddenly there was a buzzing noise. One of the bats took a small black object off of his waist.
“Come in Recon 3,” a voice came out of nowhere.
“This is Recon 3, go ahead,” said the bat.
“This is Alpha Base T-54 Crash of Air Regiment. Return to base.”
“Copy,” the bat put the object on his waist again and the bats started flying away.
Suddenly, an owl swooped down and snatched two of the bats out of the air. Two more owls came and they caught the rest of the bats. Dusk saw one of the bats looking straight at him as the owl flew overhead, or at least he thought the bat had seen him but he couldn’t tell with the bat’s helmet.”
“What… was… that…?” Indar stuttered.
“Warriors of the Gods,” Tark said quietly.
“What are gods?” asked Dusk.
“Gods are the creator of all things. You didn’t think life came by its self did it?”
“But what was that?” asked Indar again.
“I think they came from above,” Hujaska said, “From that thing that came from the sky.”
“They said ‘regiment’,” said Loyan.
“Then they are one of us,” said Tark.
Part 4: Warriors of the GodsEdit
Chapter 17 - Weird StuffEdit
“Where’s Grif?” asked Dusk. He noticed that the little chiropter had disappeared.
“He was here a minute ago,” said Tark.
The group looked around.
“Grif!” called Dusk.
“Over here!” came the quiet distant reply.
Grif was on a different tree, watching something. “Look,” he said, pointing up. There was a humming sound, that got louder and louder. Suddenly a black object came into view. It was as large as a saurian, but was the wrong shape. It did not have wings or sails. It looked like a floating log. On top of it were spinning sticks that were rotating so fast it looked like a circle on top. It was gone in a second. Suddenly another flew overhead. This one was different, though. Instead of being shaped like a log, it was a large bulb, with the same circles on top. Then another passed, then another, each on of the tow shapes.
“What’s the hell is going on?” exclaimed Grif, “There’s all this… this…. weird stuff going on!”
“Better return to the rest of the regiment and report this,” said Tark, “Let’s go.”
Back at the crash site, Dusk’s group explained all that had happened to Lord Shadow.
“The Gods have sent warriors to us,” he exclaimed, “They will take care of the felids for us.”
“If they were warriors of the Gods, how were they killed by owls?” asked Tark.
“We don’t know if they were killed,” said Hujaska, “They were just taken away.”
“But what were those things that Grif saw?” asked Loyan, “Were those things like that?” Loyan pointed at the mysterious wreckage.
“Most likely,” said Shadow, “The Gods created them. The Gods control them.”
Dusk went back into the broken mess of the “God Thing”. On the belt of one of the bats was a black object like the one Dusk had seen being used by the warriors of the Gods. He picked it up. On the side was a small bump. Dusk tapped it and the object came to life.
“Recon 3 has gone missing,” it said, “Recon 6, move to Recon 3’s last know position.”
Dusk dropped the object in shock.
“Copy Alpha Crash, Recon 6 out,” the object continued in a different, lower voice. Different voices continued to pour out of the object until Dusk pressed the bump again.
At dusk, Dusk returned to his colony. Immediately, his sister knocked him down.
“Where were you,” she demanded, “I thought you were all dead!”
“What? Why?” Dusk asked, dazed from the sudden attack.
“There were big flames everywhere in the forest. Those ‘fire rocks’ that your regiment has went off a while ago! The whole forest was on fire!”
“Huh?” Dusk asked, puzzled. The forest hadn’t been on fire. He also hadn’t heard the exploding sound of the fire rocks. “Where’s the fire, then?”
“You won’t believe it,” Sylph said, “These great saurian-like monsters flew over the fire and dropped water all over it. It was incredible, but the monsters were frightening.”
“Remember that thing that came yesterday?” Dusk asked, “I think that was one of the ‘monsters’. Shadow says that they were created by the Gods.”
“What are Gods?” asked his sister.
“The regiment believes that the Gods created the world. They made everything, including us, birds, felids, and the ‘monsters’.” Dusk explained the best he could.
“And you believe that?”
Dusk thought for a moment. Did he really believe the Gods? Should he believe everything the regiment believed? Should he even trust the regiment? But what else could he do? He was part of the regiment, so he answered, “Yes.”
“Hmph,” Sylph grunted and glided away into the darkness.
Dusk turned his head, puzzled. He didn’t know what his sister had against the regiment, but she didn’t like it.
That night, as Dusk was about to sleep, Grif came and made Dusk follow him.
“It’s important,” was all Grif had to say.
They came to a large tree, where many of the regiment had already gathered. Tark greeted them quickly.
“Ah, Dusk, Grif, nice to see you. Dusk, Shadow’s put you in for a promotion. You’re a Corporal now.”
Dusk didn’t know how to respond. Something wasn’t right. He had been pulled here at night and promoted for something Dusk didn’t know, and judged by the worried looks on many of the chiropters’ faces, something was wrong.
“What’s going on?” Dusk asked Tark.
“The Warriors of the Gods have found something. Look,” Tark said, pointing out into the distance. There was a faint glow that was not caused by the light of the sun or moon.
“That thing that they were looking for this afternoon, that’s it.” Tark said, “Shadow is certain of it. The Warriors are going to destroy it. And everything with it.”
“Everything. That means the object, the warriors, the felids, and us.”
Dusk’s blood chilled. Us, Tark had said. That meant that they were going to die.
“We have to stop them!” he said, panicked.
“We can’t,” said Shadow, gliding over, “How can we stop the Warriors of the Gods?”
“Sir, with respect,” said Grif, “shouldn’t we try something? Are we just gonna sit here and wait for death?”
Shadow sighed. “Yes,” he said, “But there is something else. When we die, we will go to the world of the Gods. We can finally learn the secrets that we have all been craving for.”
Dusk suddenly felt a rush of anger. “I’m not going to stay here waiting to die!” he shouted, “You and all your beliefs, this is all you have ever known. This is all your doing! If you’d never come, this would never have happened. This is all you fault!”
Dusk flew as fast as he could away from the tree. He couldn’t stand it. Sylph was right. They shouldn’t have trusted the regiment.
When he reached his colony, he was almost crying from anger. When he found his sister, he told her that she was right. “The regiment only cares about themselves and their Gods,” he said.
“Told ya so,” said Sylph.
“But that’s not all. We’re all going to die now! Because of the Tree Bark Regiment and their Gods!”
“What do you mean?”
“Come with me,” Dusk led Sylph to a higher point.
“Look,” he pointed at the glow in the distance, “Something is going to happen there and we’re gonna die. All of us, everything.”
“Why?” asked Sylph, slightly frightened, more by Dusk’s ranting than what he had actually said.
“The Warriors of the Gods are going to destroy everything.”
Suddenly, in the distance, in the glow of light, there was a flash of blinding light. Then came a wave of heat. Dusk and Sylph huddled together as a mass of fire consumed all.
Dusk opened his eyes. Everything was blurry. He could barely feel his body. He felt as if he were floating in the air.
“Sylph?” he asked weakly.
There was no response. “Sylph?” he said again, louder.
“Dusk!” came a reply.
His sister was besides him.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“We’re still alive,” Dusk exclaimed in wonder. He thought back to a few moments ago. There was a flash and a bang and heat. That was all he remembered. There was also pain. Searing hot pain. But it was gone now. And he was unharmed.
Dusk looked around him. He was in an enclosed area. There were no trees, no grass, no sounds, nothing. Everything was dark. Suddenly, Dusk became aware of other chiropters near him. They were his colony. Then he also saw the Tree Bark Regiment. Dusk felt anger come into him, but then he noticed he still had his helmet on his head and it reminded him that he was still part of them.
It’s all their fault, he thought. But he wasn’t dead. Neither was everyone else. They were alive. Or were they?
Suddenly, all of his colony and his sister faded away and left Dusk alone with the regiment. All of them looked dazed.
“Sylph!” he cried.
“Do not fear,” a voice boomed out of nowhere. Dusk looked up. The “sky” was round and dark.
“Who are you?” Shadow’s voice came from somewhere further away.
“I am life, I am peace,” said the voice, “You have been called upon to serve. And served you have. Now, sleep, until you are called upon again. Do not fear. You will see you friends and families again, but not now. Now, sleep.”
Dusk’s eyes felt heavy. He was very tired, as if all the strength in him was pulled out. He tried lifting a wing, but he couldn’t. He curled up into a ball and slept.
Read the sequel, Shadowwing.