This article, Shadowwing, was written by Bioniclepluslotr. Please do not edit this fanfiction without the writer's permission.
This article, Shadowwing, is currently unfinished and is under construction.
Shadowwing is a sequel to Nightwing.
The humans have destroyed too much of the earth and the animals don't like it. Regiments of the Animal Union fight humans.
In alphabetical order:
A technician sat down at his station with a cup of coffee. He was tired. All night, he had been up watching the computer screen for any potential enemy activity, such as incoming planes, other vehicles, missiles, and radiation.
The technician sighed and rubbed his forehead. He stared bleakly at the never changing screen in front of him. He watched the green lines move about the black background. The technician pressed a button and the screen changed. Now it was showing radiation levels. The entire East Coast was the same blue color, with a few lighter and darker spots here and there. But then he saw something.
Near the US-Canada border, on the Canadian side, was a blotch of red. The technician quickly called for his superiors.
“Colonel,” he called, “Take a look at this.”
A man walked over. He bent over to look at the screen. The red blotch suddenly grew larger and larger, until it covered half of the state of Maine. Suddenly it was gone.
The Colonel narrowed his eyes. He waved another man over.
“Get two pilots over the Canadian border. Tell them to be on the look out for radiation signs,” he told the man.
“Sir,” said the technician, “What was that?”
“I don’t know.”
The technician switched back to the radar screen. He noticed a small shape moving towards the base quickly. A plane. Moments later, two more shapes left the base toward the site of the radioactivity. They were the planes the Colonel called for. The first shape disappeared from the screen as it passed the two planes.
“Sir, look at this.”
“What?” the Colonel came back.
“There was an incoming bogy a moment ago, but it disappeared. Could be a stealth plane.”
Suddenly the two planes disappeared from the screen.
“What the-“ the technician began. Suddenly, the sound of a plane came over the base. There was an explosion outside. All the men in the room crowded around the window just in time to see a cargo plane burst into flames.
Then they saw the enemy plane. It was a fighter jet. But it wasn’t like any they had ever seen. The nose was rounded and the cockpit was bulbous. Most of its edges were rounded. On the side, the number 54 was printed. Next to it, in smaller font, “F-89” was printed. The plane spun around and flew towards the window. It fired a missile. The technician dropped his cup of coffee.
Part 1: Ghosts of the PastEdit
Chapter 1 - AwakeningEdit
Shade dived through the forest effortlessly. He dodged the branches and leaves. Suddenly, a tree loomed in front of him. Shade closed his eyes and dived towards the tree. As he passed through the tree, he became the tree. He felt old and worn. He felt his branches stretched out and leaves blowing in the wind. The feeling passed as he left the tree.
Shade was a ghost. He was dead. But he felt alive. Free. Gliding through the forest. Reaching places he would never have reached if he were alive. But he also felt loneliness. Everyone he saw was alive. His mate Marina and son Griffin were alive. But no one could see him. It crossed his mind why there weren’t other ghosts around. Simple, they were all in the realm of the god Cama Zotz. In the land of the undead. Shade would have been there, too, but he had escaped with Griffin after his son had been trapped there. Shade could still remember the endless changing desert.
Shade flew back to where his colony lived. He landed on a tree and could see his family down below. He sighed. How he longed to be with them. Maybe he could, someday.
“Awaken.” The voice sounded through endless echoes and space.
“You have been called upon to serve.” Once again, the echoes passed through the spherical room.
Lance Corporal Franck Graywing’s eyes fluttered. His vision was blurred. He closed his eyes again. He thought he had heard a voice. He was tired. Why? Franck tried to remember what had happened. Suddenly, he bolted up. He didn’t why, but it felt like someone had pricked him with a needle. He was in an enormous room. The ceiling was rounded. There was no light source, yet the ceiling seemed to glow. All around him were members from his regiment.
Then it all came back to him. His regiment had been deployed in northern France to destroy a human base, but they were caught in a storm and they had all died. They all awoke in this same room. The realm of the god Fleesh. Then he heard God’s voice. He told them to sleep. Then, after the sleep, he thought he had heard it again.
“Awaken,” the voice said.
Franck stood. His bones cracked. He had no clue of how long he had slept. But he was dead and that didn’t matter. The rest of the regiment stirred.
Next to Franck was Sergeant Alain. He sat up and tapped his helmet.
“Hey, Boss,” said Franck, “Didja hear that voice?”
“Oui,” grumbled the sergeant, “Why do you think we’re all awake?”
Franck looked down. His metal helmet lay on the ground, next to his belt. He put both on. Through the helmet’s visor, he could see the body heat of every bat in the room. Franck noticed that the bats were all restless. He couldn’t blame them. They had been sleeping in the room for who knows how long. He could remember the voice of Fleesh saying something about sleeping until they were called for. Now they had been called for.
Already, officers were grouping the bats.
“Archer Company, fall in!” shouted a Lieutenant.
“That’s us,” said Alain.
“Gear up,” said the Lieutenant, who was named Roland, “We’re moving out, but who knows how?”
I am life, I am peace. You have been called upon to serve.
Those were the words that had been circulating in Dusk’s head forever. Like an eternal dream, for he had been hearing those words in his head for eternity.
Dusk shook his head in his sleep. He thought he was sleeping. Everything seemed like a dream. Perhaps it was a dream. Then he woke. The dim light was blinding for one who had not opened his eyes for millions of years. Dusk squinted. He could barely see. He heard groaning next to him. Suddenly, everything came into focus in a second. Dusk jolted. He shook his head. His neck cracked. He heard the groaning again and he groaned himself. He was sore. Then he remembered everything. The Tree Bark Regiment, the Warriors of the Gods, the flash and bang, and the heat.
Dusk looked around. The members of the regiment were scattered in the round room. Dusk assumed that they had all died in the heat and this was the afterlife the regiment had been talking about. Afterlife was sure boring.
“Rise, my warriors,” said the voice. It was the same voice that had spoke before and was stuck in his head. Most of the regiment was awake. The regiment’s leader, Lord Shadow, was already standing a little further down from where Dusk was.
“Who’s there?” he demanded.
“I am life, I am peace,” said the voice, “I am your god Fleesh!” The voice got very loud.
The God. Dusk shuddered. So this was the one the regiment believed the Warriors of the Gods were commanded by.
Shadow looked embarrassed.
“My apologies, my Lord,” he quickly said.
“Gather your troops,” said Fleesh’s voice, “You have been called upon to serve.”
“Yes, sir,” said Shadow. Then he turned around and looked at the many chiropters watching him anxiously.
“Lieutenants, gather your troops. We’re moving out.”
Chapter 2 - Bud SilverwingEdit
Franck flew over to where Lt. Roland was barking orders.
“Sir,” he saluted, “Any idea how we’re gonna get out of this place?”
Roland turned towards him. “Non,” he said, “But the dieu Fleesh would have a way.” He turned back to the other bats.
Franck looked down at his belt. He had a few sharp sticks and metal shards. Hoe they were supposed to defeat the humans was unknown. They had taken metal from them and made helmets and spears. They had also stolen a special human object that could display body heat of any living thing. Somehow, an engineer managed to hook it up to all the helmets of the regiment. Now, they could all see with feature, making it easier to spot where someone was, but it also made things confusing, with all the assortments of color. Franck raised his visor. The colors were giving him a headache.
Suddenly, the room started rumbling. Several bats fell on their backs.
The voice of God filled the room. “Prepare to live again!”
The room seemed to move upward at an amazing speed. Everyone was pushed onto the floor by the momentum. They had been underground. There was a loud crash and they had returned to the surface. The roof of the room disappeared. Outside was the clear blue sky. Franck breathed in fresh air.
Dusk fell back as the room went upwards. He could feel the speed. The room broke the surface and the ceiling disappeared. Dusk looked at the sky he had not seen in millions of years. He looked at the nature and was shocked. The world was nothing like he had ever seen. All the plants were different and the ground was different. The air was different and the smell was too. Several of the chiropters were exclaiming about the view.
Dusk found his squad’s Lieutenant, a chiropter named Tark.
“Sir,” he said, “What do we do now?”
“I don’t know,” Lt. Tark said quietly, shocked by what he was seeing.
Dusk noticed that around the open room they were in, were several other of the same rooms, but they were filled with bats, not chiropters, but bats. Dusk was a bat, not a chiropter like the rest of his regiment. Many considered him a freak of nature, but after many encounters with other bats, he knew he wasn’t alone. Dusk put on his helmet. It had two upward angles scratched on it, designating him as a Corporal. He left the straps loose. If he ties the straps, he would have trouble breathing.
“Spread out,” ordered Shadow.
“My squad, form up,” said Lt. Tark.
Dusk and a few chiropters followed Tark away from the main group.
“Look for a sign for what to do. The God wouldn’t just dump us here,” said one of the chiropters, a Corporal named Indar.
Suddenly, he heard a familiar humming sound. It got louder and louder until it became a whirring sound. Then he saw it. It was an immense black thing. Dusk didn’t know what it was. Judged by the looks of the others, they didn’t know either. But dusk had seen them before. It was rectangular and long. On top were spinning blades that spun so fast they became a circular blur. It had white marks on the side, but Dusk didn’t what they meant. The front and side of the thing had clear spots and Dusk could see inside. There was a bat in the front. The inside was almost the same as the inside of the object that had crashed in the forest millions of years ago. The side of the thing popped out slightly and slid to the side, revealing a hole into the whatever-it-was. The bat that was in the front stepped to the opening. On his head was a helmet like the ones Dusk saw on the dead bats a long time ago when the larger thing crashed in the forest. On the side of the helmet was a gold upwards arrow. The sign of a Private. But what was with the color? Dusk knew that he would not understand a lot of things in this new world.
“Lieutenant,” said the bat to Tark. The bat brought his claws to his head to salute.
“Private Bud Silverwing, Air Regiment,” he introduced himself. He looked at the chiropters. “Tree Bark, I presume?”
“That’s right, Private,” Tark said hesitantly.
“Get in,” said Bud, gesturing into the thing.
“What is that, exactly?” asked Tark.
“Oh, this? This is a helicopter. A human vehicle. Well, not a human one, but one designed by Fleesh, the God. This is Rotor-10.”
Dusk flew into the helicopter. He had not understood the terms “helicopter” and “human vehicle,” but he figured he would find out. There were easily a hundred seats in the helicopter. There were about five levels. Inside, it was dark, but luminous glowing panels on the ceiling provided light.
Dusk felt the helicopter moving. It felt like flying, except something else was doing it for him.
Bud’s voice came from somewhere on the ceiling. It sounded like the voices that came from the small black objects that Dusk had found on the dead Warriors of the Gods. “We’re going to pick up the rest of your kompanie.”
“What?” Tark shouted over the sound of the helicopter.
“I said, we’re gonna pick up the rest of your regiment.”
Dusk looked out of the clear hole on the side of the helicopter. He saw drifting clouds and the tops of the trees. He also saw the unbelievable. There were long straight stretches of black and gray lines going across the endless land. There were bunches of strange, rectangular things. Dusk didn’t know what other word to use for all the strange things he had seen. The things were huge. Behind each thing was a small field. Some had other smaller things in the field.
“What are those?” he asked.
“Those are häuser. Houses. The humans live in them.”
“What are humans?”
“Sie sind eine art von tier.”
“They are beasts! Like you and me, just a different species.”
“What’s with all those weird words you just said?” asked one of the other chiropter, a small fast chiropter known as Private Hujaska.
“Es ist Deutsch!” Bud said, irritated, “Ruhig sein!”
“What?” asked Hujaska.
Chapter 3 - HelicopterEdit
Shade heard the ominous whirring sound of a human vehicle. He spun around and saw it. It was much like the ones he had encountered when he was alive. This one was more rectangular than the other he had seen, but they were of the same kind.
Shade flew up to the vehicle. The moment he touched it, he became the vehicle. He felt the cold wind and the moisture of the clouds. Then he noticed something.
Instead of humans in the vehicle, there were bats. Most of them weren’t bats, but bat-like creatures. But what were bats doing in a human vehicle. He would have thought they had been captured if a bat hadn’t been controlling the vehicle. Shade’s head spun. It was a strange sight for him.
Shade listened to the conversation of the bats and the other creatures. One of the other creatures was saying, “If the God brought us back to life, then there has to be a reason for it.” Shade felt a funny feeling. Brought us back to life. Shade longed to live again. Maybe there was a way.
“Probably,” said the bat in the back with the other creatures, “He said something about us serving him.”
Then, the bat in the front controlling the vehicle stepped into the part of the vehicle where the others were.
“I’ve located the rest of your regiment. We’ll be landing shortly.”
Then the bat turned to him. On his head was a metal helmet, like the ones the humans wore. Over the bat’s eyes was a visor. The bat looked at him and shouted, “Dämon! Umbringen er!” He pulled something off of his waist. It was a human weapon. Shade had seen them before. They fired projectiles and what ever they hit would most likely die. The one the bat had was much smaller so it scaled with the bat. The bat fired. The projectile passed through Shade because he was a ghost. But how had the bat seen him.
“Sterben,” shouted the bat. The others in the vehicle were cringing from the shots. They obviously couldn’t see him.
Shade quickly flew out of the vehicle. He floated in the air watching the vehicle fly away. Then he followed it. He wanted to know how to live again.
“What was that about, Private?” demanded Indar.
“There w-was a ghost! Right there!” Bud stuttered.
“I didn’t see anything,” said the chiropter known as Pvt. Grif.
“Neither did I,” said another chiropter, Pvt. Loyan.
“I did,” said Bud, “With my helmet’s visor.”
“Ghosts,” said Tark, unbelievingly.
“Yes, sir. Ghosts. Geister. Is it that hard to understand?”
Pvt. Hujaska turned to Tark. “It’s logical, actually. Ghosts are the undead, without the physical body. We should be ghosts, but we have physical bodies. If we were to have left the underworld before called upon, we would not have a physical body. Therefore, we’d be ghosts. Whatever spooked Buddy here was probably a lost spirit.”
Tark thought a moment. “Good thinking, Hujaska. You got a promotion for that. Congrats, Corporal.” Tark took Hujaska’s helmet and scratched a second mark above the Private sign, turning it into the sign of a Corporal.
“Thank you, sir” said Hujaska, proudly. Grif and Loyan looked at him jealously, as they were the only Privates left in the squad. They would be the only ones in the entire helicopter, if it weren’t for Bud.
“Let’s forget about the ghost and get the rest of the regiment,” said Dusk. He looked out the window. He was higher than ever.
“Landing now,” said Bud as he went back to the controls.
The descent was quick. Dusk could feel the pressure change in the helicopter. They landed next to Shadow’s squad. Bud opened the side, which was called a door.
“Sir,” Bud introduced himself to Shadow, “Private Bud Silverwing, Air Company.” He saluted.
Shadow stared at the helicopter. Tark stepped into view. “It’s okay, sir. This is a helicopter. Something made by the Gods. Come on in!”
Shadow’s squad took the seats across from Tark’s squad. They flew back up, in search of more groups. Shadow directed Bud in the direction of the nearest squad.
While they were flying, Bud stepped into the main seating area, called the cabin.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” Bud said, “What are you? You look like bats but your wings are too furry and you have more claws.”
“We’re chiropters,” said Pvt. Loyan, “But Dusk here is a bat, probably one of the first ones ever.”
“You see,” explained Hujaska, “Chiropters are basically related to bats, but we don’t have the ability to fly, just glide. Also, we’re don’t have the echovision that bats seem to have.”
“Echovision would have been very handy back then,” said Grif, “We could spot the enemy before they ambush us.”
“Hey, you had me,” said Dusk, “I’ve got echovision.”
“Too bad we got blown up before it came in handy,” said Shadow.
Franck stared at the sky. It had been a while since he had seen it.
“Move out,” shouted Lt. Roland, “Aller! Get a move on it, God’s Regiment.”
Franck sighed. They had finally been called back to live again and already the officers were ordering them around. Franck followed Sgt. Alain to where the rest of his squad was. They all had their equipment ready, stolen technology taken from the humans. They had several things that the humans had, such as weapons and helmet visors that could sense heat.
The squad looked at Alain for orders. Alain looked towards Lt. Roland for orders. Roland looked at the leader of God’s Regiment, Commander V’ilbar. The Commander looked blank.
“Sir?” asked Roland, “Orders?”
“Stay put,” said V’ilbar, “We’ll be given a sign for what to do.”
Franck sighed. They would get a break first.
“There are several things that you still haven’t explained to us,” Shadow told Bud.
“Das stimmt,” said Bud, “There is too much to tell you. But the God will explain everything when we get to the headquarters. Basically, I was the first bat to be brought back to life. Fleesh is the god of all the regiments, you know. I don’t know why he chose me, but he did. He created this vehicle for me at the headquarters. It was amazing. He gave it to me and told me to find all of the other regiments scattered all over this area.
“Where are we, exactly?” asked one of Shadow’s squad members.
“East coast, United States of America,” said Bud.
“Huh?” asked Dusk. He didn’t understand any of that.
“It’s an area, named by the humans,” Bud explained as they prepared to pick up another squad.
By the time they had picked up the entire tree Bark Regiment, the sun had set. It had taken longer to locate the rest of the squads in the dark but they had done it. Pvt. Bud was now taken them to the headquarters where he said Fleesh would be.
They flew down towards a rocky hill, where an enormous cave lay. The helicopter flew right into the cavern.
“This is your stop,” said Bud, “I have to pick up the rest of the regiments scattered all over this area.”
“What do we do here?” asked Shadow.
“Go down that tunnel right there,” Bud pointed towards the tunnel. “It’ll lead straight to the center room. That’s where the God will brief you.”
The helicopter lifted up into the air, leaving the Tree Bark Regiment alone in the unfamiliar world.
Shade had followed the vehicle all the way to the cave. He managed to stay clear of the bat with the headgear. Shade wanted to know the secrets of their so-called God that he had overheard them talking about. He wanted to know the secret of living again. The other Gods he knew, Nocturna and Cama Zotz, did not hint about being brought back to life. The only way he knew to live again was to take the life essence from another being, but he didn’t want to do that. Shade entered the dark cave. He could feel an indescribable force, urging him to go on.
“You do not belong,” a voice said. Shade looked around. He saw nothing and he was sure that nothing could see him. It was probably someone else talking to another person.
“Why have you come?” the voice said.
“Me?” asked Shade. If he was mistaken about the voice, then no one else could hear him, but if it was talking to him, it could most likely hear him.
“Yes,” said the voice, “I know what you seek. You seek life.”
“That’s right,” said Shade, uncertainly. He had no clue who he was talking to.
“You know how to find life. Take the life of another. Why didn’t you?”
“Because I shouldn’t be dead, so I shouldn’t take life as the dead try.”
“I died to save my son. He shouldn’t have been dead either, if the dead hadn’t killed him.”
“You died to save the one you love.”
There was a pause. Then the voice spoke. “You have earned the right of life, Shade Silverwing.”
Shade was surprised that whatever he was talking to knew his name.
A yellow glow appeared in front of his face. Life essence. Shade breathed it in. Suddenly, he felt the warmth in the air. He felt the dampness of the cave. He felt the soft wind blowing. He was alive.
“Thank you,” Shade whispered.
“Know this, Silverwing. You did not take this life without a price. You will serve under me, the God Fleesh!”
“What?” Shade exclaimed.
“You will serve the Animal Union in exchange for your new life. Don’t worry, you will see your loved ones again, very soon.”
Chapter 5 - KnowledgeEdit
Franck jumped down to the ground, under a fallen branch, to where Lt. Roland was waiting.
“Human vehicle,” he panted, “Coming quick. None like I’ve ever seen before.”
Roland narrowed his eyes. “There are several strange things in this new life.”
Alain flew over. “Our engineer says that the human markings on that structure there indicate that we’ve been ‘dead’ for only nine months.” He pointed over the top of a hill at a nearby human facility.
“Technology can’t age that fast in nine months,” said Franck.
The familiar humming of a human vehicle filled the air and it came into view.
“Stay down,” ordered Roland.
“Staying down, sir,” replied Franck.
The vehicle landed. The rotors on top slowly came to a halt.
A voice came from the vehicle, artificially enhanced for volume. “God’s Regiment, step forth. The God Fleesh orders it.”
The side of the vehicle opened, revealing a singe bat. Franck noticed the helmet on the bat’s head. It was much like his, but a lot more advanced, Franck could tell.
“Who’s in charge here?” asked the bat.
“I am,” said Roland, “Who are you and what is this place?”
“Private Bud Silverwing, Air Regiment,” said the Private, “I’m supposed to take you to the Animal Union headquarters.”
“You’re from the Animal Union?” asked Franck.
“Das ist richtig, sir,” said Bud, “Get in.”
Franck realized that the bat was speaking German, but he did not understand.
He looked at Roland, who shrugged. Then he got in, followed by Alain and the rest of the bats there.
“Rest of the regiment is down that path,” Roland pointed, before finally getting in.
The inside of the vehicle was lined with seats like human ones, but much smaller. Glowing lights lit up the main room. There were several levels of seats, enough for the entire regiment.
The vehicle lifted off the ground quickly. They flew down the road, where they picked up the rest of the regiment.
“Where are we going?” asked V’ilbar.
“Animal Union base,” said Bud.
“Welcome to the Animal Union base,” said Fleesh’s voice.
Dusk looked up. The ceiling of the cave was rounded, like the rooms they had been in when they died. But what was more interesting was what was in the room. Thousands of small glowing rectangles lined walls in levels. Each was complete with a futuristic helmet and a seat.
“Find a seat and place the helmet on you head,” instructed Fleesh, “When you do so, all knowledge of this world will be yours. It is the envy of all.”
Dusk put on a helmet and looked at the rectangle. Suddenly, the screen changed. Millions of images flashed by in seconds. To the normal eye, nothing would have made sense. But to the wearer’s, he would understand all.
Dusk felt the rush of knowledge. He felt dizzy. Then he knew everything. All the terms, all the facts, all the history of the world. He knew all the saurians were dead. All felids were dead, too. He knew that humans were destructive, evil beings. He knew everything about their creations. He knew the rules of the Animal Union. He knew what the Animal Union was. He knew millions of other things that had come during his death. He knew the union’s ultimate plan.
Suddenly, he involuntarily pulled off his helmet. Indar, who sat next to him, said, “Damn. What was that?”
“Congratulations,” said Fleesh’s voice, “You now know everything anyone has wanted to know. Now, report to your quarters. You will each receive a number and a placement when you put your helmets back on.”
Dusk wouldn’t have understood any of this a minute ago, but now he did. He slid the helmet back on. He noticed that these helmets were much more comfortable than his nutshell ones. On the screen, the digits “904” showed up. Dusk understood these numbers. A map of the cave showed up. Even with the knowledge they had received, the cave was still extremely confusing. Dusk’s quarters were the same as the rest in his squad. Apparently the screen, commonly called a computer, knew which squad he belonged to. Dusk followed the others down one of the many tunnels.
Shade flew down the largest tunnel. He saw at the end thousands of glowing screens that humans used. He heard the god’s voice again.
“Put on a helmet.”
Shade saw a helmet lying by one of the screens. He put it on.
“You already know much of this world. All you need to know now is how our society functions.”
A female voice came through the helmet.
“Welcome to the Animal Union. We are the military union of many species of animals. Our society has stood for millions of years, and it still holds. We have defended our territories and helped one another in our times of need. Now, another threat has come, larger than any before. The humans. They are destroying our habitats, polluting our earth and burning and destroying everything in their paths.”
Several images were being shown on the screen. Most were of animals fighting others, most with helmets and other forms of crude armor. Others were of humans destroying things with weapons of destruction. Shade thought about when he destroyed a temple of the cannibalistic bats, the vampyrum spectrum, and wondered if he was any less destructive than humans.
“We have a plan,” said the voice, “The union will be armed with weapons. But not simple sticks and rocks as before. New weapons. Human ones. Let them be destroyed by their own creation.”
The screen showed a very fake looking bat wearing helmets like he’d seen on the bat that shot at him. This bat, however, had more on it. On its chest was a large plate of metal. On its arms and feet were large wire frames. They looked like extended claws and toes. The bat was carrying a human weapon: a gun.
“We hope to expand our knowledge of human technology and use it against them. We have already created the Rotors, advanced helicopters fit for the Animal Union’s many species.”
Shade remembered the vehicle.
The screen went blank. The god’s voice came back.
“You now know our secrets. Now we need your help.”
Chapter 6 - PrototypeEdit
“Go to your colony,” said Fleesh, “Go with my troops.”
“Why?” asked Shade.
“I want you to recruit bats from your colony to join the union.”
Shade thought for a moment. He had been given life back. Now he had to pay for it by drawing his colony into this union of strange creatures. He was reluctant, but kept to his word.
“Good, good. My pilot is coming in right now. He and a squad will escort you. But first, come this way.”
Shade suddenly felt a strong wind. It whizzed past his face, making his fur bristle. Then the wind blew him away. He flew through a series of tunnels shouting out in panic. Finally, he dropped to the ground.
“Welcome to the armory.”
Shade looked around and gasped. On the walls of this room were shelves. On these shelves were rows of gleaming silver helmets. They were designed to fit any bat-like creature. The helmets covered all of the head except for the mouth. On top was a large pointed crest. The eyeholes were shaped to give the wearer an angry look.
“What you see here are prototypes for the final armor for the plan. Take a helmet.”
Shade picked one up. The face of the helmet was menacing. He slipped it on his head. It was heavy.
“These helmets do not have any sort of electronic devices, but the final versions will.” Fleesh’s voice seemed to come out of nowhere. “Now come.”
Shade was blown away again.
Dusk’s quarters was a large central room with small halls leading to smaller dark rooms for sleeping. This part of the headquarters was not anywhere close to the main cavern. The walls were smooth and white, not stone. Lights were on the ceiling. There were soft seats and tables around. There was a large screen on the wall and several smaller ones around the room.
“Wow,” said Hujaska, “This is just different.”
“Really?” said Indar, “Different from the forest? You don’t say.”
Fleesh’s loud voice came once again. “Please direct you attention to the main screen.”
On the screen, many symbols showed up. “The Animal Union has a written language. This is the alphabet. All members of the union must understand it. The written language allows easy message transfer. Also, we can record events and archive them.”
“What happened to good old messengers?” asked Hujaska.
“Death rates were too high,” said Loyan, “I like this new idea.”
“Our written language is based off of the humans’. Our written words are just translations of human words.”
“That’s a bit confusing,” said Dusk, “If the humans speak a completely different language, then won’t our words make no sense?”
As if Fleesh could hear him (which he probably could), the voice said, “These symbols will not make any sense to you, but remember them as characters, not spellings. Other human languages also use characters. Watch the screen closely.”
The screen suddenly flashed brightly and started scrolling through thousands of human words. All these characters and their meanings were imprinted in Dusk’s mind. So was the alphabet that made up these characters. Then the screen went blank. Dusk was still dizzy from the experience.
“You know,” said Indar, “I could get used to all this ‘sticking-knowledge-in-you-mind’ thing.”
“I won’t,” said Grif.
“Is this it?” asked Hujaska, “Spending the rest of our lives here being implanted with knowledge?”
“I’m sure there’s more,” said Dusk, half hoping it was true. He had no idea what was going to happen and the God did not explain anything in advance.
The large screen lit up. The words “Incoming Message” came up in white text on a blue background.
“Hello!” came Fleesh’s voice again, “Now that you are equipped with knowledge of the new world, you are free to go!”
Part 2: The New WorldEdit
Chapter 7 - The New WorldEdit
“Orders, sir?” Loyan asked Tark.
“None. Let’s go outside.”
Dusk followed the others back the way they came. When they got to the main room with all the “knowledge caps”, another regiment of bats was just entering. Several chiropters from the Tree Bark Regiment were also leaving. Dusk noticed that most of the bats also had helmets. These helmets were made from metal, rather than nutshells. They seemed to be from a more modern time. They, too, looked unsure of what was going on.
As they passed, one of the bats spoke up. “Hey, Lieutenant,” he said to Tark, “Do you know what’s going on?”
Tark shook his head. “The god was vague on that, but you’ll see.”
Outside, the sun was shining clearly and there was a forest right next to the cave. There was an unfamiliar odor in the air. It smelled like smoke, only stronger. The trees here were much smaller.
“Where to, sir,” asked Dusk.
“Forest,” said Tark, “Let’s hunt.”
The forest seemed strange, but more comforting than the dark cave from which they came. Dusk listened for any familiar sounds. He heard chirps, but he didn’t recognize them. Suddenly, a moth flew in front of him. Dusk dove towards it and caught it in his mouth. He had forgotten the taste of moth. It was slightly different that the ones he used to eat, but it was better than nothing.
“The world seems so… weird!” said Grif.
“Of course,” said Hujaska, “Seeing as we are in the ‘future’, everything is bound to be different.”
“Really?” asked Indar in a mock surprised voice.
Two black birds with blue tints flew by them. They were smaller and duller than the birds from the past. They stopped next to the group.
“Howdy,” said one of the birds, “Haven’t seen any of you around. Who are you?”
The birds here seemed friendlier than the birds Dusk had known, so he answered. “Um, we… just moved here.”
“Oh,” said the bird. The other bird stepped forward. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Exploring,” said Indar. In an intimidating voice, he said, “What are you doin’ here?”
“We live here,” said one of the birds.
“Indar, shut up,” whispered Tark. To the birds, he said, “I apologize for our manners. I’m Tark, and these are my friends.”
Dusk noticed that Tark was avoiding saying anything about the Animal Union. That was wise, as none of them really knew about it, though they had unknowingly been part of it.
“What’s with the nutshells?” asked the bird.
“Yeah, what’s with the nutshells?” asked the other bird.
“See these thorns?” asked Indar.
“Yeah,” both birds said.
“They’re tipped with the most powerful poison ever that can kill in seconds. These nutshells say ‘don’t mess with us.'”
“Ah,” both birds said in unison.
“I’m Jeremy,” said the larger bird, “and this is my brother Jeremiah.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Tark, “We should get going now. Bye”
The chiropters quickly glided away into the trees. When they were out of view of the birds, Tark pushed Indar into a tree, grabbed his shoulders, and held him in place.
“What did you think you were doing?” shouted Tark, “You can’t just go around into other creatures’ territories and threaten them. We are new here and we need to get along with the residents here, not make more enemies.”
“The birds were-”
Tark punched Indar across the face. “I don’t want to hear about what they did.”
“Sir,” said Hujaska, “Calm down. You’ll attract attention.”
Tark gave Indar another shove and let go of him. Indar gave him a glare and rubbed his shoulder. Dusk glanced back and forth at the two chiropters. The others were doing the same. Tark glided off again. Dusk and Grif exchanged glances and followed him.
“What’s their problem?” Dusk asked Grif.
“Tark doesn’t want anyone messing around here, as no one really knows much yet. For now, he wants us to keep a low profile.”
A while later, Hujaska took point to scout ahead. The rest of them waited in the shadows. Hujaska returned with interesting news.
“There’s a group of bats up ahead. They’re part of the Animal Union, but it doesn’t look like they’ve been to the cave yet. They look confused.”
“Who’s their leader?”
“Two stripes; a corporal. They look really lost and confused. Wanna give them a hand?”
The squad stepped out of the shadows, where they saw the other group.
“Who’s in charge here?” demanded Tark.
“I am, sir,” one of the bats saluted as he saw Tark’s rank.
“What regiment are you from?”
“River Regiment,” said the Corporal in charge.
“When are you from?”
“Cold time called the Ice Age. What’s this place?”
“When are you from?” asked one of the other bats.
“Time of the saurians, long, long ago,” said Dusk.
“That’s not that long from us.”
Tark pointed towards the direction of the cave. “Go there,” he said, “You’ll get orders there.”
Chapter 8 - HomecomingEdit
Bud landed the vehicle with a small thump on to the ground in front of a large cave. The door slid open and Franck spelled the exhaust of the vehicle. It was different from what he was used to. Human vehicles stank of smoke and fumes. This smell lacked the stench. Instead, it was somewhat sweet, like a fruit.
Bud’s voice came from the ceiling. “Please exit the Rotor and make your way into the cave. Thank you for flying Rotor-10.”
Frank hopped off his seat and glided to the ground. He followed the rest of his regiment to the cave. It was breezy inside. The only light came from the cave opening and somewhere down the tunnels. Franck glanced at Sgt. Alain who shrugged. More bats from another regiment were also filing in.
“Welcome,” boomed a loud voice from nowhere.
“Listen,” whispered Indar. Dusk’s strained his ears. He heard the sound of the vehicle that had flown them in. Rotor-10 came into view. The door slid open and Bud leaned out of the cockpit into view.
Tark climbed up into the Rotor. “What’s up?” he asked.
“Sir, the God Fleesh has ordered me to find a squad to escort some new member back to his colony.” Bud replied, “Sounds easy enough for his to go alone, but there’s something about needing an escort to explain things.”
Tark looked towards his squad. “Ok, boys. Get in.”
Shade tumbled out of a small hole in the ground. He shook his head to clear it of stars and let his eyes adjust to the bright light. He heard a thumping noise and the human vehicle came into view. Its metal side gleamed in the slowly setting sun. The door slid open, and Shade saw the same group of bat like creatures in the vehicle as before. One of them jumped out.
“I’m Lt. Tark,” he said, “and this is my squad. We’re here to escort you to where ever you need to go and tell whoever whatever, so GET IN, PRIVATE!” The shout startled Shade.
Are all these guys so rude? he thought.
Inside, there were five others. The door to the cockpit opened, and the pilot that had shot him earlier peeked out.
“Mein Gott. I could’ve sworn you were a ghost.”
“I was dead before. I think you saw me.”
“Mein Gott. I’m the only live bat on my craft. Why is everyone dead?”
“Shut up,” said the largest bat-like creature, “or I’ll make you dead.”
“I’m Bud,” said the pilot, “Bud Silverwing.”
“Shade Silverwing,” said Shade.
Bud nodded. “Silverwing, eh?”
“Where to?” asked Bud.
Shade thought for a moment. He knew where his colony was, but he was thinking about his family and friends. What would they do when they saw him? Would they rejoice or would they be frightened? Would they even recognize him and what would he do or say?
“Sorry,” Shade said, “My colony’s somewhere in that forest in that direction. I’ll tell you when we get there.”
“Come in here,” said Bud, gesturing towards the front of the vehicle.
The cockpit of the helicopter was spacey, with a several seats and a glowing panel under the large window. There were a few levels to the cockpit, but only one needed to be manned to actually fly it. The others were for more advanced maneuvers. The helicopter was sized to fit humans, but the interior was built for small animals, probably rodents and bats.
“So what’s your story?” asked Bud.
“My story?” asked Shade. He wasn’t really thinking about what had happened, but what was to come. “Well, I’m basically currently a ‘popular’ one in my colony right now. I saved a bunch of my fellow Silverwings in the southern jungles from the Vampyrum Spectrum.” Shade shuddered at the thought of the Vampyrum. They were huge meat eating bats that worshipped Cama Zotz, the god of the underworld. The one thought that really got to him was of Goth, the Vampyrum Prince.
“Right. Then what?”
“Well, we came home,” Shade recalled, “And I had a son. Then something happened and he got trapped in the underworld and I killed myself and my son took my life force and he returned to the surface.” Shade didn’t include very many details. The story would sound too weird, then.
But isn’t this already weird enough? Shade thought, All the strange bats coming from nowhere and these vehicles…
Chapter 9 - TanksEdit
Franck sat at the end of human-based resting nest, called a bed. He had just gotten his room assignment with the rest of his squad. The other bats sat around. Sgt. Alain hung upside-down from the roosting bars from the ceiling.
“It’s really dull here,” said the hanging bat, “Anyone want to go out and check this place out?”
Moments later, Franck and Alain and a few others were flying through the tunnels of the cave. Small doors to the rooms lined in rows down the tunnel up to the ceiling. Most of the bats here were from his regiment, though further down the tunnel were bats and chiropters from other regiments and times. This wing of the cave was meant for bats and chiropters. Other tunnels had larger doors for other species of larger animals. At the front of the bat tunnel were the modern day Animal Union members. They knew much about what was going on.
From what Franck heard, the Animal Union was planning to use human technology to help protect the earth from the destructive power of humans. The vehicle he flew in before was one of the first to be made. To avoid being hypocritical, the Animal Union’s vehicles used environmentally friendly energy so it wouldn’t pollute like the human vehicles.
As they flew down the tunnel, the bats came across a long hole in the side of the tunnel that acted as a view port into the next chamber. Franck gaped at what he saw.
Countless machines worked to build machines. Metal arms placed parts together while others used fire to wield them. The products were large land vehicles. They had a rectangular with a round cylinder sticking out of the top with another skinnier cylinder sticking out of that. On the front were two pieces of metal that stuck out like tusks. One the bottom were two wheels covered with long treads. They were sized the same as the humans’, but the insides were sized for small animals, such as rodents or bats. The squad watched in silence as the large vehicles passed through more machines that turned it different shades of green and brown.
A rat poked its head into view. He wore the signs of a Lieutenant.
“Welcome to the assembly chamber,” said the rat, “What you’re seeing is the assembly of tanks. You will be working with these babies later, when the real action starts.”
“Wait, hold on,” said Alain, holding up his hand, “What do these do and what ‘real action’?”
“These tanks are the ultimate battle machine. The round upper part is the turret, and the thing sticking out of it is the barrel. That fires special explosive rounds, but unlike human ones, these degrade so it won’t litter the earth.”
“And ‘real action’?”
“When we go to war with the humans.”
“You know,” said Alain, “I’m wondering what’s the point of this war. Haven’t we lived with the humans for a long while already? We’ve had no major conflicts so far and they pose no threat to us currently.”
Franck agreed. What harm had humans done? He knew that their vehicles caused a foul smell, but that was about all he could think of. Also, wouldn’t conflict with the humans cause a larger threat to the animals? He shared his thoughts with the Lieutenant.
“You want to see what they’ve done?” asked the rat, “Come with me.”
The rat stepped into another smaller metal vehicle that was on a track built into the wall. It zipped at a fast speed across the cave towards the opening. They stepped out of the vehicle and out of the cave. Franck frowned.
Outside was the forest. But half of it was gone. He could see the stumps of trees at the edge of the rest of the forest, but past that was just yellow human vehicles digging and driving. Out of the pipes on their top leaked black smoke.
“That was once a forest and a home to many. Now look at it. The humans are destroying it and killing all in their way. This is why they must be stopped.”
Chapter 10 - Drop SiteEdit
A panel on the controls of the helicopter started flashing and an irritating beeping filled the cockpit of Rotor-10. The door slid open and the chiropters filed in.
“What is that noise?” demanded Indar.
“We’ve got company,” said Bud in a slightly nervous voice.
“What kind of company?” asked Dusk.
A strange voice filled the room. It was low and slow.
“The human kind,” said Bud, flipping a few switches. He turned to the bat besides him.
“Is this near your colony?” he asked. Shade glanced out the window and nodded. “I recognize this place.”
“Good, because you’re going to have to jump out.”
“What?” asked Loyan, “Why?”
“The humans don’t like an unknown vehicle flying in their space. They’ll shoot us.”
The low human voice came again and a roar came as two human planes shot past the helicopter. They swerved around and flew back towards them.
“You have to jump now,” said Bud, “You guys (gesturing towards the chiropters) help Shady here explain everything. I’ll pick you guys up later. Go now!” He hit a switch and the door in the main cabin slid open. The others moved back into the cabin.
The helicopter tilted to one side so the open door faced downwards. All of them tumbled out. Dusk quickly spread out his wings and flapped instinctively. The rest of the chiropters opened their sails and glided.
“Now that was just rude,” said Indar.
Dusk looked around. The forest looked the same as before. He was getting used to the smells of the world. The forest’s trees were shorter, making it easier for the chiropters to climb to the top of a tree to plan their next move.
“Ok, here’s the plan,” said Tark, “Indar, you take Grif and Loyan and secure this area. Hujaska, you’re with me on scouting. Dusk, you and Shade figure out where to go.”
Dusk looked at Shade. The bat was a bit older than him, but seeing a modern bat up close reminded him that now he wasn’t different anymore. In fact, the chiropters were the different ones now.
“Ok, Shade,” said Dusk, “We haven’t been properly introduced yet. I’m Cpl. Dusk of the Tree Bark Regiment.” Dusk felt good saying that. It sounded formal and convincing to one who was new, although he was pretty new himself.
“I’m Shade,” said Shade, “Could you tell me a bit more about what we’re doing? What’s the purpose of all this? What is going on?”
Dusk shrugged. “I don’t know my self. I’m new to this too. I only joined a few million years ago, which to me is about a month ago.”
“Great,” muttered Shade.
“So… where to?”
Shade looked around. This part of the forest was familiar to him. Memories came back of his family and colony. His heart beat faster. He was almost home.
“That way,” Shade said, pointing.
At that moment, Tark returned.
“Surrounding area is safe. No predators.”
“Lieutenant,” Dusk said, saluting. “We’ve got our directions.”
As the group flew (and glided), Shade couldn’t take his mind off of what his colony would say. Would they take him in or act as if he were an outcast? He tried to shrug off the though, but he couldn’t.
“You all right?” asked Dusk.
“Yeah,” said Shade swallowing. For some reason, he felt sad, though he should be happy he could return.
Chapter 11 - DogfightEdit
Pvt. Bud Silverwing turned the helicopter sharply to the right. The two planes shot past him. He had to get out of there. Quick. Without a second thought, Bud put his vehicle into full speed back towards the base.
Bud wanted to disappear from their view. They couldn’t find out about the base, but it was the only place he could go. He switched on the radio. “Animal Union HQ, this is Rotor-10. Come in.”
“Rotor-10, this is AUHQ. What’s going on?” the voice of a modern bat radio operator replied.
“I’ve got two human planes on my tail.”
The distinctive voice of Fleesh came on the radio. “Humans?”
“Yes, sir. They’re going hostile.”
“Lure them to the hanger.”
“Sir, won’t we reveal ourselves?”
“Just do it.”
“How much further,” asked Dusk. The sun was setting and it was getting dark.
“I can barely see,” said Hujaska, “At least you bats have that ‘echo-sight’ thing.”
Dusk nodded. He called out a wave of echoes. The silver images came into his brain. He saw several bugs flying around and trees with lots of leaves. Whatever life was out there was hiding well. He could hear the last sounds of the birds as the sun disappeared.
Tark moved forward. “Here’s the plan,” he said, “We’re going to go ghost until we spot Shade’s colony. We’ll let Shade go in first and explain.”
“Me?” asked Shade, “I barely know anything!”
“Fine, we get to that later. But first, lets get there. Squad, go ghost.”
Tark backed into the shadows and disappeared. Dusk had seen the Tree Bark Regiment members do this before when he had first seen them. He might’ve actually thought they were ghosts if he didn’t get to know them. Going ghost was their way of camouflage. They just blend into the shadows and leave without a trace. But there was a problem. He didn’t know how. And neither did Shade, and possibly Grif, by the look on his face.
“Wait, how do we do that?” asked Grif.
“Follow me,” a strange whispery voice barely distinguishable as Tark’s replied. They followed the voice. In the shadows, they couldn’t be seen.
“Be swift,” said Indar (in his “wind voice” as Dusk liked to call it).
They moved along the edges of trees. Dusk didn’t know chiropters could move so fast on the ground. He had to half fly to keep up with them. Shade was doing the same thing.
“Stop,” Hujaska whispered, “We’ve got bats.”
Bud steered the Rotor towards the ground near the hidden cave entrance covered by the trees. The planes flew by overhead, and prepared to turn away to avoid collision with the cliff wall. Suddenly, both planes jerked to a stop and hovered in midair. Bud stared up at the planes as he brought the helicopter into the cave. The planes floated behind him into the cave. The radio came on again.
“Stay in the vehicle. We don’t want to reveal who we are,” said the bat on the other end in the control room.
The invisible force gently set down the two planes. Several human-sized drones came out of the tunnels leading to the hanger. These were Class-1 Drones. They were large robots with a beetle-like body and head. It had four limbs: two legs and two arms, which one was equipped with a weapon. These weapons were not the barbaric sharp sticks and rocks used by most animals. They were human-technology based weapons; firepower.
The drones surrounded the planes. One of them spoke human speech to the pilots of the planes. They slowly came out with their hands in the air. The drones escorted them away. The bat in the control room came back on the radio.
“Ok, you can come out now.”
“What was that?” asked Bud, puzzled at what he had just seen.
“Lord Fleesh wanted to take prisoners. Word has it that we’ll be making our reveal as soon as everyone is here.”
Chapter 12 - SilverwingsEdit
Dusk peered through the shrubs. Several bats hung upside down on the branches of large trees. It was one of those peculiar things Dusk had seen bats do, but did not do himself. He didn’t like the feel if blood rushing into his head. Other bats me had met also did this, but not him.
“What do we do?” asked Grif.
“Shade,” called Tark, “These your bats?”
Shade came closer and looked. “Yes. Yes! I know these bats! That’s my son right there!” he cried excitedly.
“Hang on,” said Indar, “How do we explain ourselves? We don’t know anything about this modern Animal Union. God couldn’t have picked a worse group.”
“Yes, he could,” said Hujaska, “Aphid.”
Indar chuckled. “Now there’s a thought.”
“Who’s Aphid,” asked Dusk.
“Sergeant Aphid. A complete idiot. He can’t tell a felid from a hyaenodon.”
“Stow it,” ordered Tark, “Ok, here’s the plan: everyone remove helmets. I’ll go in first and ask them to speak with their leaders. Then we’ll bring in Shade, watch them gasp in amazement, and explain stuff as best we can.”
“Why not tell them what we were trained to tell recruits?” asked Loyan.
Tark glared at him. “I’m afraid ‘fight the felids’ and ‘beat the birds’ are not common phrases around here.” Loyan nodded.
“I’m going to go in now,” said Tark.
Suddenly, the flapping of a large bird’s wings made the whole team spin around. Dusk cried out and shielded his face with his arm at the sight of a giant black bird flying towards him. He felt a gush of wind as the bird slowed and landed. On it’s body was a vest with the single bar of a Private on it. The bird looked around. “Which one of you is the leader?”
Since none of the chiropters had helmets, rank was impossible to tell, so Tark spoke up. “I’m Lt. Tark of the Tree Bark Regiment. Who are you?”
“Pvt. Crackbeak, ROC,” said the bird.
“What’s ROC?” asked Dusk.
“Regiment of Crows. I know, dumb name isn’t it? What are you? Tree Bark Regiment? That makes you TBR. It’s abbreviating. Easier and quicker to say. So you can just be like, ‘Pvt. Crackbeak, ROC, reporting for duty.’” The crow stiffly saluted. Everyone stared. Crackbeak chuckled nervously, and then hopped back to a relaxed stance. “Anyways, AUHQ, that’s Animal Union Headquarters, by the way, sent me to help explain the Animal Union stuff. Lord Fleesh decided that you weren’t so well equipped with the knowledge of this stuff, as the knowledge caps aren’t that thorough.”
“Right,” said Indar, “I don’t know what you just said, but you’re helping us explain?”
“Well, Lieutenant,” said the big chiropter, “We need to rethink the plan again.”
“Hurry, sir,” said Hujaska, “I think I see movement. We might be spotted.” He turned to Dusk. “What do you see?”
Dusk looked back towards the bats’ tree. His echo vision showed bats hunting small bugs, swooping and flying. It reminded him of his hunger and hunting back home. The flying certainly helped fill one’s stomach faster than gliding and catching what you can.
“They’re just hunting right now. They don’t notice us.”
“Ok, we’ll stick to the original plan. Shade, I’ll signal for you when I’m ready. Crackbeak, I’ll call you after Shade. Dusk, Grif, you’re with me. The rest of you come with the bird. Let’s roll.”
“Yes, sir,” the team agreed.
Dusk held his breath as he climbed the tree. He wondered what the bats would think about them, especially the chiropters. They were probably the strange ones here, not him. I would be normal, he thought. Judging by how Shade acted and how he described his colony, they weren’t going to be hostile, but they still had to watch out, just to be careful. As they reached the top, Tark waved towards the bats.
“Hey,” he shouted, “Excuse me.”
The bats veered towards them. They landed near them, cautiously. Grif looked nervously at them and backed up. Dusk held his ground. Modern bats certainly looked very similar to him, and alien to the chiropters.
“Who are you,” asked the largest bat, “and what are you?”
“My name’s Tark,” said the chiropter, “And these are my friends Dusk and Grif. I need to speak with your leader.”
“What are you?” asked the bat again.
“We’re bats,” Dusk spoke up.
“But what are they?”
“We’re a different variant of bats,” Grif said quickly, “You know, just like how you’re Silverwings?”
“So what type of bat are you?”
“Nightwing,” said Tark quickly, “Tark Nightwing.”
“And you?” another bat asked Dusk.
“Uh, Darkwing,” said Dusk, “Dusk Darkwing.”
“Hmmm, Nightwings and Darkwings,” said the lead bat, “Well, forgive me for my curiosity, but I’ve been coming across other of your kind. My name is Chinook Silverwing.”
Chinook, thought Dusk. He had heard that name from Shade. His brother.
“Wait,” said Tark, “Others of our kind?”
“Yes,” said Chinook, “They’re staying with us. I’ll take you to them and our elders.”
Chapter 13 - The Old and the NewEdit
Franck raised his weapon to his face. He looked down the sights and pressed the trigger. The weapons exploded at the front and flew up at the recoil. Franck fell backwards.
“Easy,” said the rat that had shown them the damage the humans had done, “Hold the weapon steady.”
Franck looked around the shooting range. Other bats and rats were practicing with their weapons. “What are these for anyways?” he asked,
“Self defense,” said the Lieutenant, “You never know what’s coming. Most humans have their own versions of these. Ours’ are simply based off of theirs. They function the same.” The rat reached back onto the shelf and took another weapon off. He handed it to Franck. “Here. Shotgun.”
Franck gave back his rifle. “When are we ever going to use these? They’re too small to hurt humans and we’re not going to harm any animals, right?”
The rat shrugged. “Who knows? I’m just giving you practice because I was ordered to. By that one ‘Divine Voice’ that’s always telling us what to do.”
Franck raised the shotgun and fired. Tiny pellets shred the target in front of him. Next to him, Alain fired a small pistol into the target. “Lame,” said the Sergeant, “This isn’t going to do anything to anyone except mice or something.”
The rat Lieutenant picked up his radio and spoke with someone in the command center. Then he clapped his hands. “Boys, how would you like to take a ride in a tank?”
Shade waited in the shadows with the remaining chiropters and the crow. He watched as the three chiropters spoke with his brother, who really wasn’t his brother. Shade’s parents had adopted Chinook humans killed his. Shade sort of understood what the Animal Union’s dislike for humans was about, but he wondered if it was really necessary.
Dusk went inside the large hollow tree where the Silverwings’ leaders were. It reminded him of the Fire Tree, the Tree Bark Regiment’s first base, which was a giant hollow tree with an eternal flame burning inside. The inside of this tree was gnarly and cold. Much colder than the Fire Tree. Chinook led them to a ledge. Above them was another platform, where the elders were.
“My elders,” said Chinook, “I present to you-“
“Tark Nightwing,” Tark interrupted, “and this is Grif Nightwing and Dusk Darkwing.”
One of the elders, a female, peered down at them. “I am Ariel. What brings you to our colony?”
“One of your own,” Tark said calmly, “A bat named Shade.”
“Shade?” Ariel seemed surprised. Then she her tone turned stern. “Shade is dead.”
“I know,” Tark grinned, as if he enjoyed the elders’ confusion, “We made a deal with his soul and now we have to make a deal with you.”
The elder turned angry. “How dare you come in and joke about our dead?! Have you no respect for them?”
“Oh, you have it all wrong,” said Tark, smiling wide now. He turned to Grif. “Get Shade and the others. Tell the bird to wait,” he said quietly. Tark turned back to Ariel. “You’ll be thanking us soon.”
“That’s enough!” shouted the elder, “Chinook, take them to the others of their kinds.”
Chinook came back, with a serious look on his face. Dusk could see that he obviously did not like hearing about his brother like that.
Franck followed the rest of the bats and rats from the shooting range to the tank depot. It was buried deep underground due to the fact that the Animal Union wanted to shield any energy produced by the tank production.
“Welcome to the Tank Depot,” announced the rat lieutenant, “This is where were store the finished tanks for final touches.”
About twenty tanks were parked in two rows. Some had been painted green with darker or lighter spots on them, while others were a light beige color. A few animals were working on them. Franck saw a few raccoons scurrying around with tools. There were also large birds flying around. Most of the work was being done by machines set next to the tanks.
“Now,” said the rat, “If you like the feel of the tanks, I could set you up for the tank crews.”
“What if we don’t,” asked one of the bats.
“Then you can train to be regular infantry, like what you are now, or maybe join one of the flight crews.”
The rat turned to a bat on a metal perch that seemed to be monitoring the tank production.
“Sergeant, which one these are ready for a test drive?”
The bat looked down at them. “The last one over by the door, sir.”
The tank looked different up close. The previously shiny armor that Franck had seen before had been covered up with a thick, rough paint. Splotches of different natural colors covered the sides. The main color remained green. Vines were wrapped around it and logs and branches were tied on by ropes that had been punched through the tread covers. The rat explained that the foliage was for camouflage purposes and was mimicking human warfare.
The inside of the tank was rather large, though most of it was divide into rather small areas. The main driver area was the largest. Several seats for small animals were lined up in front of a view port. Other rooms were living quarters and lounges. It was almost like a small base inside. Because the tank was so large, and most animals controlling it were so small, it could hold a large crew, unlike the two or three a human tank could hold.
The second largest area was the turret. The turret had only one barrel, but fired rapidly, unlike the human tanks, which had to load each round. The Animal Union tanks could fire five rounds before being reloaded. Operators controlled automatic reloading systems.
Franck looked around the tank. He stepped into the main driving room.
“Who wants to drive?” asked the rat.