Shattered wooden boards flew across the beach with a resounding POW! After a brief flight, they littered in the wet sand.
"Sensei! I broke all of the boards this time!" The gleeful catgirl grinned with pride, tail swishing happily as she collected the smashed boards that she had just chopped with her bare hand. She was a tall teenage catgirl with brown hair, green eyes, wearing her jiu-jitsu gi There was no response to her achievement, neither of approval or disapproval.
Sensei?" Puzzled, she turned to locate her Teacher- and a look of horror replaced her happy smile. She screamed, dropping the boardsas she saw him perched on a log eating HER lunch!
"Mmm, did you say something, Nya-chan?" Her old Orangutan of a Master slurped up the noodles that she was hoping for. Then a wooden board hurled right smack into his bald monkey head, knocking him clean off the log.
"Nyanko and the Eye of the Idol", A Tale of Catgirl Island by Mike Moon
© 2000 Mike Moon, revised edition 2007
Later at the Dojo, Bubbah Sensei was icing the huge lump on his forehead and pulling out wood slivers from his ape scalp.
"Nya-chan, if you wanted the noodles back you should have hit me in the GUT instead of the HEAD! A blow that fierce would've most certainly sent them BACK UP! Then I could have eaten them all over again, heh heh!"
"EWWW! YUCK! You grody old monkey!"
"Heh heh heh, but at least I have a full belly! And I'd say it's time for a nap after such a fine meal-" Which was exactly the wrong, provocative thing to say to her, as far as she was concerned.
Nyanko threw a fifty-pound barbell at him. This was of course the reaction he hoped for, and was already ELSEWHERE. Nyanko might be impressively strong and a have 2nd degree Brown Belt, but HE was still MASTER here and after eighty years, he had plenty of tricks he had not yet taught her. One of them was the legendary 'Screaming Monkey Falling from the Ceiling' technique.
"Wha-" She exclaimed, knocked backwards on to the dojo floor. Although the floor was covered with training mats, it was far from a pleasant drop for a 6'2" catgirl. Instinctively she attempted to flip up, but Bubbah Sensei had Nyanko pinned with a submission- hold elbow lock.
Nyanko struggled as Bubah-Sensei maintained the hold and sipped his sports drink.
"Now, Nya-chan, what lesson have we learned from this manuever?"
"To spike my bowl of noodles with laxative next time-" she started.
"Incorrect, young student! Try again!" He tightened up on the hold.
" -like I did with that drink you just chugged down!", she finished.
A large bead of sweat appeared at Bubbuh-Sensei's brow, as he felt the dire need to focus his CHI on his Gluteus Maximus. He-directed his strength to other, lower muscle groups as his intestines attacked him from within. Crossing his legs, he released the joint lock and knuckle-walked to the bathroom. Nyanko rolled over on to her side, and studied the drink bottle.
"Lesson: an opponent's threat of chemical weapons MIGHT just be a BLUFF," she said to herself as she sipped the last of the beverage. "
The hypochondriac Orangutan may not have been truly dosed with laxative, but he was convincedenough that his guts were about to flow like Niagra Falls. Nyanko was convinced that the bathroom was going to smell like-"
"Oh Nyyy-aahhn-kohhh dear!"
Enter: Princess Sparkles , Nyanko's archrival at school and probably the closest thing to a best friend.
"Well gosh- I was JUST thinking about you, Princess!" Sparkles was not actually royalty, but she was from an affluent, high- society family, and winner of many a pageant title. Prissy, prim, and as concerned about style and fashion as much as Nyanko was martial arts, they
were the unlikeliest of compatriots, seeming to have almost nothing in common
"Sigh", (grin), "I know- who DOESN'T think about me?", the oft-snobby girl chimed, admiring her hair in a mirror.
"Um Rich Brasswell, perhaps?" Oh that hurt! If they had just ONE THING in common, it was that they both had the hots for that local teen heartthrob, Rich Brasswell. (But then, EVERY girl at school had the hots for him.)
"Ha ha, very funny", the Princess pouted. "Well, just for that snipe, I ought not to show you my latest acquisition."
The Princess was a notorious shopper, and was always eager to flaunt her most recent purchases. Sometimes this sadden Nyanko, as it was a reminder that she had few worldly goods; today she didn't even have a bowl of noodles.
"What is it THIS time, Sparky?" sighed Nyanko as she rolled up on to her feet.
"Take a look at THIS!" The Princess presented a golfball size iridescent orb, with archaic runes carved across the surface.
"It is a rare antique, too. The vender said there were only two of them on the whole island. I'm going to find out who has the other one and buy it so I'll have BOTH! Pretty, ne?"
Nyanko was actually mildly curious about the item.
"Yeah, It's cool. Whatcha call that thing, anyway?"
"He said it was one of the Eyes of the Idol."
"The Eye of the Idol?? Let me see that!!!"
" I had no idea you even cared about jewelry!"
"Well, I don't care about jewelry but I think the old monkey has a big book on local treasure 'n stuff."
"Oh, I MUST see that book! It might reveal who owns the other Eye!"
The two girls walked from the dojo to Sensei's office. As far as offices went, it was a small, plain room, crammed full of books, scrolls, ledgers, files, all sorts of odd trinkets, baubles, bananas and Sake bottles. Nyanko did not relish the notion that Sensei was buying Sake when they had barely enough money to keep up the dojo, or buy more than rice and ramen for supper but, she always reconciled this with the fact that he DID after all provide her with a roof over her head, her own room, food, school supplies, and expert training.
"Here it is..." Nyanko unshelved a large, dusty book The two girls certainly had their differences, but on occasion they would both get immersed in an activity. "Wow, look at all the ancient relics and treasure. Okay, here they are- The Eyes" Nyanko read the chapter, which detailed the origin, history, and rumors pertaining to the orbs.
"Hey guess what- that Eye you bought is cursed!"
"A famous curse only makes a gem more alluring and famous!" Sparkles beamed. " Besides, you don't actually believe in ghosts-"
Her sentence was interrupted by a most ghastly, startling wail.
The Princess's own two eyes rolled up into her eyelids as she fainted backwards on to the floor as Nyanko instinctively assumed a defensive stance. The Eye of the Idol fell from Sparkle's hand and rolled out of the office and into the hall. A moment of silence, then again the groans:
"H-H-H-OHHOHHOHHOHHOHYeahoh I feel much better now! Ahhhh!" groaned Bubbah Sensei again, from still within the bathroom.
"Gee thanks a lot- we've got company, y'know!" Nyanko snapped, embarrassed over Bubbah Sensei's most uncooth bellowing.
"And turn on the fan in there!"
A bit later, he emerged looking most sedate, just in time to see Nyanko rouse Sparkles with a bucket of water.
"What are you two girls up t- OH MY GOD- IT'S THE EYE OF THE IDOL" he exclaimed, then fainted backwards into the hall with a dull monkey thud. Nyanko sighed heavily and shook her head, ears adroop.
Over a supper of Tsukemono, Miso Soup, steamed rice, Nori and tea, the three discussed the cursed stone. Sparkles recounted how she got it from a new vender at the riverwalk boutiques. Bubbah Sensei's texts gave limited information about the nature of the stone, but it was clear that all who possessed it would suffer terribly, until the eyes were returned to the empty sockets of the idol. The Idol was described to be a seven foot tall stone statue, residing somewhere near the Lost City of Angora Kat or in Akikiku Forest at the Northern end of the Island. Unfortunately, although the ruins of Angora Kat had been fairly well explored and documented by university archaeologists and park rangers, the exact location of the Idol was unknown.
The gist of it was that Sparkles could heed the legend and rid herself of the Eye in the prescribed manner, or she keep it, ignore the curse at her peril hopes that it was merely superstitious fantasy. Erring on the side of greed, she decided to retain her pretty new gem- quite clear that she hoped to eventually own its counterpart. After Sparkles went home, Nyanko washed the dishes, reviewed her homework, and went to bed. Bubbah Sensei took the liberty of hanging talismans and spirit wards outside the doors- just in case.
Mondays weren't usually quite so disastrous. Nyanko was running late for school, groggy from a very fitful sleep. Sensei had already left, having said something about meeting people. Whereas Nyanko did not get much good sleep, Sparkles hadn't slept one bitt, too twitchy
from all the creepy noises and shadows that plagued her all night. Worse, at 6am, a large palm tree had fallen on her parent's car, which was odd since there'd been no palm trees planted in their yard. Her parents without a car to drive her to school, Sparkles resorted to riding The Raptor, (a giant lizard which served as one of the island's busses), and ripped her skirt when she disembarked. There would be further bizarre incidents and mishaps at school that day.
8am Phys Ed class: three soccer players sent to the hospital when an exercise machine curiously exploded.
9am English Class: one teacher and two students are harmed in a freak accident involving a paper cutter.
10am Math Class: Rich Brasswell barely escapes falling debris from outer space.
11 am Philosophy Class: if not for Nyanko's fast reflexes and great strength, the entire class would have been gobbled up by a large sinkhole. Noon: a disaster in the cafeteria when an overly acidic juicer goes haywire.
1pm: Biology Class: frogs grab scalpels and attempt to dissect the students, but Nyanko engages the armed amphibians in melee combat, resulting in enough frog legs to feed the whole school ( which was good given most of the cafeteria food had been ruined earlier).
2pm: Music Class: the entire Glee Club told by doctors that they'll dining intravenously for a while, unable open their mouths having come down with a sudden case of Sardonicusitis.
3pm: time to go home- but with Wisteria Bridge blocked by a sixty-ton boulder, the Raptor Bus could not take that usual route. Kids who attempted to fjord the river sadly discovered that it was teaming with Mako Sharks.
4pm: Sparkles decides to return The Eye for a refund. Weary from lack of sleep and saving the lives of 150 classmates, an exhausted Nyanko carries Sparkles into town, where Bubbah Sensei meets them.
"Ohhh I'm sooo tired" moaned Nyanko as she stretched on to a bench.
"Get up, lazy girl!" Sensei insisted. "While you were in class all day, I 've been pounding the pavement all day trying to-"
With great anger, Nyanko flung one of her sandals, which caught him right in the mouth and knocked him backwards ten feet.
She threw the other one at him as he sat up- but he anticipated this gesture and in a blur of speed, caught it and lobbed it right back at Nyanko- knocking her out cold on to the damp grass.
As her eyes shut, a dreaming Nyanko drifted off to a more peaceful part of the isle, where no gluttonous orangutans feared to tread. Lying in a green meadow with shimmering, colorful lights all around, that hot beefcake Rich Brasswell ran towards her. The studmuffin scooped her in his arms, whirling her off her feat, his lips parted as they covered hers, then suddenly- an unexpected, shocking downpour of ice cold water rained down upon her.
"Hah?" She gasped, jumping to her feet upon being jolted back to consciousness. Standing to one side of her was Sparkles in a dreamy daze as the real Rich Brasswell inquired if she was okay. To her other side was Bubbah, with a just-emptied water bucket.
"He looked like he was going to give you mouth-to-mouth recitation- but luckily I was able to awaken you with this water first!" the ape said.
"Ahhh" Poor Nyanko was too stupefied to coherently respond- let alone beat her Sensei into a pile of monkey crap. "Not fair!!!"
Later, the four of them sat at a round outdoor café table on the lantern-lit riverwalk as Bubbah Sensei told them of his research.
He'd pieced together a few more details about the history of the cursed, but alas he gained no further clues regarding supposed location of the idol. Nevertheless, he made appointments to consult a few other experts for tomorrow.
"So THAT'S why everything was going nuts at school today!" realized Rich.
"Yep- and if you think it hurts now- wait until tomorrow!" Bubbah snorted.
"From what I have gleaned, the curse gets worse until-" he was drowned out by the loud siren of the Island Police Jeep and Ambulance.
"I wonder what's up now?" Nyanko pondered, watching the vehicles zoom by.
"Oh, they're taking away the body of that vender who you the gem, "Bubbah quipped as he sipped his tea. "He was the first person I wanted to question about it, but when I arrived at his shop they were dragging him out of the river."
"AND YOU DIDN'T TELL US THAT BEFORE?" yelled Nyanko as Sparkles broke out into a torrent of tears.
"I knew it would only upset The Princess."
"Oh well, that was pretty important, I should think. You should have told us that no matter how upsetting it might be!" Nyanko stammered.
"Well, there's more, but I don't think you wanna hear it" he added.
"Wahhhhhhh! I'm gonna die! Waaaaaaaaah!" Sparkles lamented, tears spraying them like a lawn sprinkler.
"After the day I have had, I don't think there's anything you could tell me that'd make me any more upset - now out with it!"
Nyanko stared intently at Bubbah Sensei as he calmly continued his sipping.
"Very well. There's a slug on your tail."
"A slug. A big one; musta crawled on you while you were out cold in the grass."
She was very still as her wide eyes blinked once, then twice. Slowly her tail curved higher and she felt a slimy item on it. Bubbah handed Rich a pair of earplugs and put on his own earmuffs. Nyanko's scream was 20 decibels higher than the police sirens that had just left.
"So, I hear that you're an idol singer! You must be used to screaming girls" Bubbah said to Rich, as the two girls continued their lhysterics.
"Uh, you'd think" Rich nervously replied.
Nyanko escorted Sparkles home. Sadly, the mishaps of the day were far from over, as the two girls discovered that Sparkles' kitchen had been covered in slime. All the food was ruined, covered with gooey green ectoplasm. Between this, Bubbah sensei's antics, and the traumatic incident at the schoolcafeteria, poor Nyanko was so hungry! Although Sparkleswas too scared to leave her house, she offered to loan Nyanko some money, to buy something to eat on the way back to the dojo. When Sparkles opened her purse, inside was a big fat slimy slug. Nyanko screamed out the door and to the street before Sparkles noticed the gooey bug.
"Wahhh! I'm never gonna get to eat!" She cried as her catgirl tummy grumbled. On her hungry way home, she stopped by the Library to do some of her own research. She sat down at a computer, and eventually found some information at a neat web site about famous myths & legends.
According to one legend she read, centuries ago, a mysterious tribe dominate most of the islands. Their ruler was a very territorial, proud and jealous man. He commanded fierce warriors and lived in a majestic tower built by in the city of Angora-Kat. He owned huge herds of livestock, hundreds of dedicated servants, and a treasure hall filled with fabulous wealth... but the one thing he prized most of all were his many wives.
Those of his elite royal court were the privileged few who could mingle with his wives, and among these few were the Chief's Shaman. One day he caught the two of them hugging, and that was all she wrote; the Shaman was arrested, tortured and executed. The enraged Chief
refused to believe his wife was innocent, but instead of killing her he banished her from the tribal lands. Things were never the same after that day, and what little joy there was under his reign soon dwindled. Years later, amidst a growing public discontent, the was a palace revolution led by his furious remaining wives, and the old tyrant was similarly publicly executed. Myth had it that the last thing he saw before his eyes popped out was his exiled wife, who returned to take part in the event. Despite his dying curses, the tribe enjoyed many years of peace and prosperity never forgetting the evil ruler of the past thanks to a statue that had been erected, designed to both condemn his spirit into the earth and to remind future generations.
"Ahem! The library is closed. Miss, you need to log off now!" the Librarian alerted. Nyanko had lost track of the time, so engrossed in the legend. She returned home, to a kitchen with bare cupboards. That mean old Sensei had eaten all of the food! She wandered into the dojo, and noticed that Sensei was not to be found. Exhausted from lack of proper sleep and a busy day of rescuing students, she retired to her bedroom and collapsed on her futon, tail twitching as she started to dream.
Meanwhile, Sparkles was still very much awake, too scared to sleep. Her bedroom windows were barricaded, decorated with cloves of garlic. At her bedside was a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, cell phone, pepper spray canister, family bible, a silver cross, and a titanium chipping wedge. She wanted one of her Dad's rifles, but he was not keen on that notion, so she sufficed for a BB Gun. For added security, she hid under the bed with all of her seven hundred and forty stuffed plush animals. There was a knock at her bedroom door-
"Who is it?" She nervously inquired.
"Princess, may wecome in?" her mother asked.
"YAMS?" Princess asked, awaiting the correct response.
"Baked", her mother sighed.
Her parents opened the bedroom door, and gingerly stepped over the tripwire connected to a tea cozy. Sparkles slid out from underneath the bed, assured her parents that she was okay, and kissed them goodnight. As they carefully exited the room, her father noticed an errant plus fish doll lying outside her bedroom door. "Princess, you dropped your Pirana Doll!" and tossed it to her bedside.
"Thanks Daddy Goodnight." She reached out from underneath the bed
to retrieve the doll. "Wait a minute I don't own a Pirana Dolll" she realized…
Bubbah noticed that Nyanko was asleep by the time he returned home with the groceries. After preparing supper, he took steps to protect the place from evil spirits, by hanging up more spirit wards. When he was eventually satisified that he had enough wards hanging from the eaves he retired their pretty little courtyard of a Japanese garden. Save for the call of the cicada, crickets, and the occasional bell-chime from the hanging spirit wards, it was a fairly quiet summer night. He hoped that Nyanko enjoyed the very large bowl of udon, suimono soup, rice, kelp salad, green tea and baked yams that he'd left for her.
Waking from her nap, Nyanko looked around her bedroom, noticing a small flickering candle and a yummy aroma. As she scrutinized the glowing light, she noticed that it was sitting atop a tray full of food, just inside her bedroom door. Oh, it smelled so good! She gently folded her favorite old blanket across her pillow, patted it lightly, bowed her head as she put her hands together, then crawled over to eat her supper.
When she finished her meal it was 1 am. She tiptoed into the kitchen with her tray, noticing that Sensei was sitting out on the back porch.
Just as she ever so quietly put the dishes into the sink, the PHONE RANG! Unaccustomed to such a late call, Nyanko was a bit perplexed but picked it up after the second ring. Sensei ventured back indoors to upon hearing this.
"Moshi moshi?" Nyanko addressed the caller "Spar, what's wrong?"
At 1:45 am, The Sparkle'sparents were defenestrated from the second floor of their dark house. Just before impacting upon the ground below, each was snatched mid-fall by two amazingly fast figures, who then broke the decent with the most agile of acrobatic maneuvers. Nyanko and Bubbah Sensei had arrived just in time. Although they had suffered some cuts, bumps, and bruises, Sparkles' mom and dad were more frantic than harmed, in desperation over their daughter who was alone in the dark house with some... thing.
"Nya-chan, oh god- what is happening to our daughter?"The mother sobbed to their rescuers.
"That doll t-tried to kill us and she's alone in there with it!! her husband shouted, picingk up the metal doughnut that was once his skeet gun.
"It is the vengeful spirit of an ancient chief who lost his Eyes, manifesting itself in physical objects!" determined Bubbah.
They could hear Sparkles screaming, and flinched the sound of expensive furniture breaking
"Oh No- that sounded like my China Cabinate!" Mrs. Gendo cried.
"LOOKOUT!" shouted Nyanko, as she grabbed the couple and dove for cover behind their palm-crushed car, avoiding the flatware and cutlery that was hurled at them. Thanks to Nyanko's fast reflexes, only the yard was stabbed by the sharp rain of kitchen utensils.
"We've got to save her!" Sparkles' Mom cried.
"Did y'all the police?" Nyanko asked.
"Yes- and they should have arrived by now!" replied Sparkle's Dad.
"I'm going in!" Nyanko volunteered."
"Me too" said Bubbah, as they charged the house, dodging a lethal rain of lawnmower blades. "You take the front, I'll swing around back!"
"Why do I get the frontal assault? " Nyanko exclaimed as she evaded a barrage of spiked golf shoes.
Nyanko entered from a front door, whilst Bubbah climbed to the roof so that he could swing in from the rear terrace. Armed with a few weapons and the spirit wards which she and Bubbah Sensei brought from the dojo, she parried with more flying objects, and with catgirl-like grace, she quickly ascended to the second floor towards her screaming friend's voice.
With a blood-curdling shriek from it's fangy mouth, the Pirana flew towards Nyanko who rolled backwards into the parent's bedroom and with a leg sweepslammed the door hard into its ugly face. As she kipped back to her feet, it managed to wrench itself the heavy door. She sprang upwards, twisting in mid air, and clung backwards to the stucco ceiling, as the bedroom door burst inwards. The horrid creature cruised in with mouth wide open, just in time for one hundred and sixty pounds of 6'2" athletic teenage catgirl to come came crashing straight down upon it. She stomped and it face first into the hardwood floor, as she glimpsed the old monkey swinging into Sparkle's room while placing spirit wards here and there.
With super strength, the doll tossed Nyanko off and to the floor. She rolled aside as the razor sharp teeth chomped down a centimeter to the right her head. She grabbed its it's fishy tail and flipped the doll back to the floor, holding it down in a masterful joint-lock, but being a jointless plus doll, it merely spun around and bit her on the arm.
Bubbah dove off the upstairs railing with Sparkles under one arm, swang off of the chandelier, and hurried her out the door. As he delivered her to her parents, now joined by neighbors behind the relative safety of parked cars, they wondered how Nyano was faring.
Nyanko, the killer fish, and more spirit-hurled objects sailed out of a rear second-story window toward the swimming pool below. She had a nunchaku chain wrapped around the doll's neck, not so much strangle it, but to keep it off her. The hit the diving board, and then spiraled into the pool, where her foe now had the upper fin. Huge fangs gnashing about, the horrid fish was free from Nyanko's hold and sped through the water towards her legs, She kicked off the pool bottom, cat-apulting herself back into the air. The fish followed, close to chomping her tail. Arcing above the water, she unsheathed her knife and brought it down upon the fish. A blur of motion later, summersalted out of the pool.
"Ta-dah!" the wet catgirl beamed, presenting Sensei with a platter of Pirana sushi. Sparkles was passed out in his arms.
"Very good!" They glanced at the faint glow of the spirit wards placed around the house, which presumably would deter any
further assaults for a while. Nyanko and Bubbah walked back to the front yard, to reunite Sparkles with her parents as the Police arrived.
Later that morning, Sparkle's parents were busy canceling appointments, notifying the school, calling into work, contacting their insurance agent, and ordering a lavish brunch for the rescuers. Everyone showered, dressed, and soon enjoyed the delicious meal that was delivered. After the brunch, it was time to get busy again. Nyanko spent several hours assisting Sparkles's family clean up the mess, particularly helpful with some of the heavy lifting. Most of their work was putting things back in their proper places, and clearing some of the unsafe broken glass and debris. A hired professional cleaning company would later the majority of the clean up work.
The neighbors later arrived with a picnic basket full of yet more food, which they all enjoyed by the swimming pool. Although Nyanko wore a much bigger size swimsuit than Sparkles or her Mom, she was able to make do wearing a pair of Sparkle's father's shorts and tee shirts. Bubbah Sensei dropped by the house, to see the two girls laughing and splashing in the pool. He walked over to the edge, and jerked Nyanko out of the water.
"Breaktime is now over. Much to do. Now, get dressed and let's go home."
"Where did you disappear to old man? You ate and ran!" she muttered.
"I had to see a someone about a dog."
"Yeah, right!" Nyanko unhappily toweled off and went inside to change. Moments later, she emerged wearing her Gi, hugged Sparkles
and headed home.As they strolled home, Nyanko complained about a new list of chores that Bubbah had given her.
"This totally sucks! Why do I have to do all this?"
"Part of your training. Besides, I am keeping you from school today, so you need to be doing more important things than swimming."
"We were swimming for ten minutes! And I was hefting furniture all morning while you were supposedly... shopping for for a dog?"
"This is a very special dog, one not so easily found."
Nyanko scrutinized the list of things to do, which also included shopping for food. The grocery list included STEAK.
"The steaks are not for us, Nya-chan," he pointed out upon seeing her fixate upon that one meaty word.
"Not for us-- do you mean they are just for YOU?"
"Well, who the hell are the steaks for, then?"
"WHAT? We can barely afford to feed ourselves and you wanna buy a dog and feed it steak? You care to explain that?"
"Because he likes steaks."
"Ah--! Ah, and I suppose I will be the one having to feed and take care of this dog, too!" She was NOT happy.
"We take care of the dog, and he'll take care of us."
"So we're getting a dog, huh?" Nyanko broke the silence.
"Not exactly." Bubbah insufficiently answered.
"Um, I don't suppose you'd care to explain this dog matter, would you?"
"Today I went on a solo scouting journey into the forest and the lost city, to get a feel of the current geography, landmarks and foliage factors which would affect how we should pack our equipment. After that, I arranged to meet with Officer Murrey at the Police Station to discuss this case. She referred me a colleague of hers, a retired detective who prospects for treasure these days. He's also an archaeologist well suited to search for the legendary idol, but he's retired into a reclusive life with an unlisted phone number and no forwarding address. I hoped that Murrey might be able to introduce us to him."
"Okayyy ...so what has that got to do with the dog?" she wondered. "Does the detective own a tracking dog or what?"
"The detective IS the dog." Bubbah finally indicated.
"The steaks are to bribe the him to help us. Murrey told me that he has a weakness for choice cuts of meat."
"Well, if he's our best hope of helping Sparkles, then we should definitely try to coax 'im to lead the search for the idol!"
"That is the plan. Come along Nya-chan, we'll be meeting Officer Meryl when she gets off work!"
"Assuming we survive the end of the day..." Nyanko mewsed.
Nyanko packed the steaks, Bubbah Sensei gathered his notes on the recent incidents, and they walked across town to the Police Station. They strolled down the street, which was illuminated by pretty hanging lanterns and street lamp globes; many other folks were out enjoying the riverside cafes, marina, music in the outdoor amphitheater, and the park. No doubt the evil spirits were only interested at getting at
Sparkles, who was hopefully still defended by the wards around her house.
They reached the Central Town Plaza, which consisted of two three-story, "L" -shaped buildings, which contained the government offices and other important island establishments. Between the buildings was a courtyard, where stood a magnificent wood-carved relief and statuary composition of similar height, depicting a glorious herd of giraffe amidst real towering palm trees. It was Nyanko's favorite sculpture!
To the left of this was Town Hall Building, which housed the Police, Rescue Team, Fire Department, and other agencies. Aside from a few people gathered in the grass conversing, little was happening at this end of the Plaza. At the front desk of the Police Station, Officer Meryl Murrey awaited. She was a cheery, athletic-looking, brown-haired catgirl, with a jovial cockney accent. She wore a red blouse, black jeans, and packed a pistol in a shoulder rig. Bubbah Sensei introduced Nyanko to Meryl.
"Pleased to meetcha, Nyanko!" the Inspector declared.
"Oh and you as well. Thank you so much for helping us!"
"Been keeping up with this curse, I 'ave. Real shame, but were gonna make it all royt, just you see! Got the meat? Good! Well then, shall we?" She gestured to her motorcycle - a red Italian touring morocycle with a sidecar.
Bubbah hopped into the sidecar with the cooler, as Nyanko sat on the back seat. They drove south, eventually, they turned off of the main road on to a private road that was barely visible to all but those who knew to look for it. At the end of the road was a two-story house in a holler, enshrouded by towering willows, oaks,and a bamboo grove. There was a meter-tall stone signpost that read "Beware of the Dog".
The house was a two-story, half-timbered chalet, with a covered front door tucked between large bay windows. The lights were on, and Nyanko noticed someone peering out at them from between the curtains. Inspector Murrey banged on the door with the huge iron knocker. The door opened-
"Can I help you? Oh- why Murrey! What brings you here?" asked the greying, black-and-tan dachshund, wearing a smoking jacket.
"Wot brings me 'ere? Why you're the lucky winner of the Police Raffle! The prize is this 'ere twenty pounds of bloody steaks innit!" Murrey gestured, as Nyanko opened the cooler, eyes shut, with a big catgirl smile. The dog's ear flaps perked.
"Yep! Grade A, nicely marbled, thick juicy rib-aye steaks!" Bubah proclaimed.
"With sauce!" Nyanko added, tail swishing happily at the thought of grilled steaks.
The weener dog's eyes bulged and his tongue rolled out like a pink carpet.
Then he collected his composure, reeled in his tongue, and invited them inside.
"Please, do come in! It has been so long since I have had stea- I mean- guests! Let me carry that for you! Oh where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself- my name's Dach!"
Dach Savage was an upright, miniature black and tan weener dog of indeterminate age, but was getting up there in his years as he was turning grey. He showed the guests into a comfortable sitting room with leather wingback chairs, ceiling fan overhead and an intricately woven oriental carpet on the floor. Lush green plants brimmed out of large urns. There were floor-to-ceiling bookcases on two walls of the room, and glass display cases containing various curios and relics between the windows. Above the fireplace was a huge painting of Rorke's Drift, and atop the mantle were some handsome antique swords. Nyanko glanced down the central hallway, which was decorated with exotic tribal masks, spears, and shields.
"Oh, this is such a neat place!" she thought.
"Please make yourselves comfortable. Lemonade anyone?"
"Most kind, sir" Bubbah responded, never one to refuse free refreshments.
The dachshund put the meat in the fridge and brought out the beverage. Bubbah downed his glass before the others had sipped theirs.
"I suppose you are here to discuss that nasty curse, which I hear has been wrecking some havoc the past day or so?"
"Quite. We were hoping to locate the ancient idol, and soon." Murrey added. "I've already filed the permits to go diggin' 'round the park."
"It only seems to be after Sparkles, and we have her house warded for now", Nyanko added.
"Good, good, that'll buy some time, provided they are not damaged or removed, but they won't last forever. One stiff breeze cloud blow them down and then your friend would be attacked again. We will need to mobilize as soon as possible!"
Savage waved goodbye as Murrey, Bubbah, and Nyanko drove out of sight. He sighed heavily, for he knew for years that this time would eventually come. This wouldn't be the first search for the idol; every previous attempt by anyone to locate the idol had met with tragedy. The last attempt to find the idol was in the early 70's, and that too ended in disaster, but that was many years ago, and he was a wiser, better equipped weener dog these days. His thoughts then turned from the past and to the present- for now it was steak time.
A Blue-gray mist hung over the island as the ambient light of day reached across the sea. The air was moist, the grass, palms and palmettos dripping with dew. The long trail of Nyanko's footprints spanned the length of Susanowo Beach, terminating in her dojo garden where she stood in her morning martial stance. Her brown hair flowed in an ocean breeze as she finished another determined katta. Bubbah was in the kitchen, stuffing his face with monkey cereal behind the just-delivered newspaper.
At Sparkle's home, the family and neighbors were busy, constantly checking on the wards that temporarily shielded against the curse.
In a moments notice, the gem, along with plenty of food to feed the expedition, could be transported under guard to wherever instructed.
Sitting cross-legged on her bed, Inspector Murrey finished making a few phone calls, cleaning her weapons and assembled her tactical gear. Since this was on the books as an official investigation, she had signed for an impressive array communications and surveillance devices.
At the southern end of the island, Dach Savage stepped out his front door. He wore a Boony Hat, sunglasses, fishing vest, breeches and boots. With his custom-made internal frame backpack and burlap shoulder satchel smartly packed with all sorts of goodies, he embarked.
Nyanko, Bubbah Sensei, Dach Savage, and Meryl Murrey arrived at Sparkle's house at 5:00 am for breakfast. While Sparkle's parents were close to serving the food, over coffee and juice the Dachshund detective tried to minimize the family's fears by explaining that Sparkles was not required to be in the field for the duration of the search- but merely the moment at which they actually located the idol. There was no telling how long the search might take, but he'd called in a few favors to speed the search process.
"Folks, we're pretty handsomely outfitted, probably the best equipped team to ever go after that darn idol. There are places previous expeditions examined that we need not cover again. I have it on good authority from the Fae Council that the idol is NOT in their forest, and our Mer Friends have eliminated a lot of submerged locations from the search," Dach declared. "Some friends from the Universities are arriving later to lend a hand too!"
Sparkles brought the Eye gem into the dining room and placed it gingerly on the table by a a small stack of wards.
Dach picked it up, examining it with a jeweler's loop, nodding.
"Amazing how such a small thing can cause so much trouble!" Bubbah commented as Dach passed the gem around. Meryl glanced at it
then passed it to Nyanko, who stared intently at the gem, pondering all the tragedy it'd caused to her friends. Then she glanced at the
wards, wondering how well they'd shield against the evil, which had given her the toughest battle of her life. Sparkles Mom entered the room with a serving cart of grits, potatoes, cantaloup, ham, bacon, eggs, and biscuits, sufficiently distracting most everyone from the unpleasant business at hand.
"This might be a stupid question, but how do we know the idol still exists, or if it is even still here on the island?" Sparkles' Mom asked.
"Not a stupid question at all. If anyone had discovered the whereabouts of the statue and had moved it on the black market, believe me I'd know all about it!" Dach said most assuredly.
"He's very well connected when it comes to valuable artifacts!" Meryl noted.
"So you're not concerned that pirates that might have it, ready to auction it off to the highest bidder?" Sparkle's father queried.
"Oh believe me sir, if there were any, um, private enterprises moving relics offshore... I'd know about it. Let's just keep it at that, shall we?
Now then, It's logical to assume the idol is beneath the ruins of Angora-Kat. Narrowed down, but still a fair amount of territory to search".
"We've got all these experts with all their equipment looking for that statue! As soon as we find it, I'll get The Eye from you and then
I'll go shove it into that stupid statue's eye socket!" Nyanko asserted, hoping to cheer up her friend. Nyanko hugged Sparkles goodbye,
who nervously clutched her lucky putter in case more dolls attacked. Her parents thanked the team as they climbed into Dach and Meryl's vehicles to head to the ruins in the State Park.
Gathered there at the gates of Angora-Kat were not just the alerted Park Rangers, but dozens of people with various tools for digging and treasure hunting. The crowd consisted of Bubbah's other Dojo Pupils, members of the Sparkle's Golf Club, several law enforcement officers, professors, Public Works crew with their utility vehicles, religious leaders of various faiths, and many of Nyanko's fellow students including-
"RICH!" Nyanko cooed, as her eyes beat like little valentine hearts, her cat ears and tail excited.
"Well, you couldn't expect us all to stand around and do nothing, after you've already saved our lives at school!" Rich in a dreamy voice.
"I told the students they either attend class, or could help here, under the strict supervision of their science teachers who would of course be, following your expert instructions!" The school Principal said to Dach Savage. "I understand some college professors on the way too!"
"We hope that our presence here will diminish the effect of the curse," a cleric nodded.
"Our prayers and blessings will help to protect the people gathered here!" The eldest of the Shrine Maidens with great determination.
"Hai! Just point us to where you need us," said the monk.
"Some of us are gonna go check on your friend's house!" a preacher offered. "We'll kick that evil spirit's butt, alright!"
Nyanko was still all bubbly over Rich, with a huge shut-eyed, open-mouthed gleeful expression, unaware that Bubbah Sensei was stealing
the Sporty Drink from her backpack.
"Dach, I thoughtcha said thought the Faeries weren't gonna get involved," Meryl wondered, spotting one of the Fae hovering high in the sky
"They usually won't because of some ancient accord they're pretty tight-lipped about, but... they seem to be curious about this one..."
"Why does my back pack feel LIGHTER???" She spun to deliver a crushing Black Gibbon Gut Strike only to snatch a fluttering, empty bottle from mid air where Bubbah stood a moment before. "Grr!"
"Thank you all for coming on such short notice," the sage weenerdog barked from atop a truck. "Now, first, we need to be organized. I would like each of the Parks Officials, Cave & Cliff Authorities, and Science Professors to raise their hands... splendid! I hope you've had time to read the packets I hastily emailed you last night...? Super Super! Everyone else, these will be your group leaders, who will give you your directions..." Dach's announcements marshaled the crowd into cool effectiveness.
As they began their search, the morning sky darkened. Some dreaded this as a bad omen, whilst less superstitious folks were relieved that they got to work in the cloud's shade and ocean breeze. For the most part, everyone was fascinated by the archaeological process which they were a part of, wondering what sorts of treasures they might unearth, and whatever sense of impending doom lingered over them was neatly counterbalanced by a healthy sense of community spirit.
The day progressed into the afternoon, with nary a sign of the Idol. The dark clouds eventually began to leak, a downpour that was sufficient to drive away a good portion of the searchers, but not enough to deter the hardiest ones. Some folks concentrated on sheltered grids to excavate, whilst others donned rainwear to continue in the uncovered grids. Nyanko resumed her digging, having changed into her tank top, shorts, athletic sandals and work gloves, not allowing the rain to deter her from saving her friend. But even the most dedicated, industrious catgirl has to take a break from thirsty work sometime, and a few hours later, she took a break from the excavation.
Searching for a dry spot, she noticed most of the tents were crowded by other tired, wet workers in need of respite. The weather worsened, almost as if the evil spirit was angry at their intrusions. She headed for one of the lost citiy's buildings, passing by Dach who was scanning the ruins with a ground-penetrating radar device, his ear flaps fluttering as the wind intensified. Meryl ran past, soaked to the bone as she talked to someone on her radio. Nyanko went into the park's office building, which was fairly crowded. She got a pimento cheese sandwich and bottle of water, then looked for a less crowded indoor location- hopefully away from an ape that would covet her lunch.
She descended the mammoth steps up to a second temple level and found a pleasant balcony perch over an undisturbed inner courtyard from which tall Cypress trees spired, their massive roots almost curvilinear walls themselves. The black smooth rocks shined from the water, as colossal stone sculpted faces of towered above her, silent sentinels of their domain. She dangled her feet in the small waterfall that streamed out of an ancient stone gargoyle face, and softly chewed her sandwich.
Bubbah Sensei knew his students were tired, et, and cold, and was about to tell them to take a break when he sensed something.
Despite the worsening weather, he smelled something in the air that drew his attention. But what he smelled was not a new meal
with his name on it, but something far less desirable... and decidedly more dangerous lurking about.
The ranks were thinning, less work was getting done between those who left altogether and those who were presently seeking. shelter from the storm at the Park Office and Visitors' Center. The Public Works Crew was summoned to elsewhere on the island to deal with another emergency. Several of the Clerics, Rabbi and Ministers had gone to check on Sparkle's home during the storm. The Cave & Cliff Response Team and the Public Works Crew bolted to rescue several parked vehicles from a sudden sinkhole in the parking lot. The folks from the University were delayed on the mainland, still a couple of hours away.
20 people remained within the actual ancient ruins of Angora-Kat. There was Nyanko, Bubbah Sensei, Meryl, Dach and Rich. Bubbah Sensei's other six martial art students were still there. The Principal and three of her high school teachers remained, as did three of Nyanko's classmates Kyle, Yuriko, and Jaejae. The two shrine maidens Leilani and Alanasera weren't giving up either, no matter that it was now thundering and lightning in addition to the strong wind and rain.
It was getting very dark, and the rain was showering upon them quite heavily. Alone in that particular part of the sprawling, hoary ruins, Nyanko finished her meal, and glanced around the archaic citadel of stone. The huge stone faces almost seemed to follow her, whispering her name, leaping out at her when illuminated by the lightning. As she felt the water, heard the thunder, saw the electricity arc in the air,
she hoped the spirit wards at Sparkle's house had not been blown away.
Dach and Meryl realized that they had to make a very hard decision: leave or stay. If they left the ruins, they MIGHT make it home safely, to return later after the weather had calmed; but there was no telling if/ when that might be, and the longer they waited, the longer it would be until they lifted the curse. If they stayed the night, they could stay outside the buildings or retreat indoors. The former meant exposure to the elements and whatever it was watching them from the forest; the latter offered the possibility of being trapped and entombed deep within the mysterious structures, if the recent freakish sinkholes were any sort of warning. Before a decision could be made, they needed to ascertain where exactly everyone was. Then they heard a scream from the shrine maidens.
They rounded a corner of one of the ancient palatial buildings and spotted Leilani and Alanasera cowering atop stone alter. Noting that the girls seemed to be unharmed but scared, Meryl and Dach drew their weapons and ran toward the alter. Suddenly from behind the stonework charged a huge alligator. Dach yelped with surprise, then let the gator have it with his .45 as Meryl popped off a 9mm round.
"Man, that's the biggest alligator I've ever seen!" Dach said as he joined the frightened girls on the alter.
"Ahhh I see one bigger---!" a wide-eyed Meryl noted as more of the leathery beasts headed towards them.
"Gator at ten o'clock!" Dach yelled, blasting the other nearest reptile as Meryl scrambled up the stone platform. They were now under siege, and heard more screams amidst the ruins in the night. Things were looking dire for the teachers and Principal,whose radios ceased to function. Trapped in Grid C-2, they scaled a tall palm tree which a furious Black Bear was now shaking. Meanwhile in Grid N-4, Bubbah and his dojo pupils were busy in martial combat with risen animated mummies of ancient tribal warriors.
As for Rich, Kyle, Yuriko,and Jaejae, they was fleeing from a foaming wild boar. They rounded a corner and then tripped over a stone step, barely noticing that they were in line of sight of Meryl Murrey and Dach Savage. Horrible rabid piggy tusks were about to rip them apart, until it was turned into barbeque by their gunfire. It was about to get very crowded on top of that alter.
As they climbed on to the rain-slick altar, everyone turned to the weener dog for an explanation.
"What the hell's going on?" Rich asked as Kyle, Yuriko,and Jaejae clung to him.
"The evil spirits must be possessing the animals!" Leilani decided.
"This will not do!" said Alansera.
"Dach, whatcha think- the curse?" Meryl asked as she watched more critters headed their way.
"Now hold on, what we were attacked by were wild animals, but that doesn't necessarily me-" Then he saw Bubbah Sensei's group battling the mummies.
"Yeah, it's the curse..." Dach sighed.
"But is it not only after Sparkles?" asked a timid Kyle.
"Initially yes," replied Dach, who fired at Water Moccasin that was getting too close. "I'm guessing it's gone into a berserk rage, and lashing
out at everybody... either because it still can't get close to Sparkles, or..."
"Or maybe we're getting we're getting close to the idol?" Meryl theorized.
"Has anyone seen Nyanko?" queried a distraught Yuriko.
"Or our teachers?" added Jaejae. "I don't think they brought any guns..."
"Nyanko?" Rich's voice faintly echoed through the cavernous stone stairwell, causing her ears to perk.
"RICH?" She called out, turning briskly, and wandered that way, further into the vast, dark reaches of Angora-Kat. Her flashlight revealed passageways wrought with intricate wall carvings and glyphs; huge walls with layer upon layer of stone faces and skulls and scenes from the netherworld. At times it was difficult to tell where what were pillars of rock and what were massive trees, with walls of roots and intricate carved lattice-work overhead, intertwined with branches and vines. There would be the noises as if trapped trickster spirits were mocking her, or if long-dormant specters were now groaning back into our realm with her every step. The wind and rain were less audible as Nyanko ventured deeper…
The wind and the rain were quite apparent to everyone else. Savage shot venomous snake after snake that slithered his way. Murrey blasted swooping vampire bats as if she were shooting skeet. Leilani and Alanasera hurled spirit wards at the attacking raccoons, which
disrupted the demonic possession upon them. The others used their shovels and Meryl's can of Mace to keep the animals at bay.
Periodically, Bubbah Sensei and his team would lap the ruins, having defeated the mummies, now with crazed deer, wild horses and angry foxes in hot pursuit.- along with the bear that was previously after the teachers. The teachers, now at the very top of the palm trees, sighed in relief- until they heard the searing cry of various birds of prey that swopped towards them with talons sharp.
"We gotta find Nyanko- no telling what may have happened to her!" Rich said.
"We also need to help the others. We're going to have to split up!" said Dach. "Meryl?"
"We need to make a run for it anyway... we'll just run out of ammo up here. Kids, You need to run as fast as you can to the office building.
We'll lay down cover fire to keep those things off you. Once there we can either reload or get to the vehicles..." Meryl planned.
"That was my last ward!" Leilana reported.
"I'm out too!" Alanasera noted.
"Is it like this everywhere on the island?" Kyle nervously asked.
"What if it's like this everywhere?" Yuriko fretted.
"Well, anywhere would be better than being stuck up here!' JaeJae muttered.
"OK, on the count of three, we run for it. One... two... three!"
The group hopped off of the stone alter and dashed in the direction of the office building. En route, they ran past an exhausted pile of
martial artists and wild animals. The orangutan was sitting on top of the the unconscious bruin.
"Don't worry about me- where's Nyanko?"
"We don't know. Hey, have you seen the faculty members?"
"Yeah we passed them a little while ago- they're up a tree back that way..."
"We're headed to the office to get more ammo- maybe Nyanko's there. Does she have a cell phone?"
"No, we... YOWWW!" The startled ape exclaimed as grabby skeletal hands reached up from the muddy earth.
In another sector of the ancient ruins, The school faculty members ran out of coconuts to throw at the diving birds.
"We should climb down and make a run for it!" The principal decided.
"Agreed!" concurred the history professor.
"I still can't reach anybody on my cell phone," noted the social sciences teacher
"Oh my god!" blurted the chemistry instructor, There was a blur of wood chips as possessed beavers went to work, gnawing the trees like buzz saws.
Meryl's guns were empty as they neared the office. She sighed in relief upon seeing at a distance what appeared to be a group of people milling about, But as Meryl and the youngsters got closer to the building, the crowd turned out to be shaggy, decaying walking corpses.
"Zombies!" The shrine maidens exclaimed, with tails all rigid. "Let us handle this!"
"I'll save you" Rich's voice traveled along the walls, luring Nyanko deeper into the ethereal ruins. She had no idea where she was, but at least had left behind a trail of pimento cheese flavored bread crumbs so that she could return from whence she came assuming nothing gobbled them up.
"Rich I'm okay- just head toward my voice!" She called out, waving the flashlight around. Then she heard his voice scream, the sort of scream one might scream if about to be gored by a wild animal. Her kitty tail went rigid as if electrified, ears clocked in the direction of the din as she broke into a run toward the scream.
"RICH!!! I'm--" She started to yell, as the floor disappeared beneath her Despite her amazing agility, into the darkness she fell.
Deep down in a vast subterranean cavern, the walls glistened with bio-luminous fungi. Waterfalls were filling up chambers, some parts of this underground realm now waist deep. Nyanko had dropped perhaps a hundred feet. When she regained her senses, she was dazed but unbroken, luckily having made a four-point catgirl landing on an enormous soft, squishy slimy surface. The slime was somehow familiar.
"Na ni?" She quizzed allowed. The surface she was sprawled across then moved, and a big white face with antenna-like eyestalks rose up to look her over. She blinked, gazing right into the icky but sedate maw of a giant cave slug, which was innocently chewing its cud.
The slug's eyes bulged in surprise as she screamed in horror. She tried to leap off the slug's back, but was too mired in slime for a nimble maneuver. With not so much grace, she managed to slowly slide down its back, nauseous from the goo that adhered to her. She shook nervously, wincing fearfully as she made her way out of the herd of giant cave slugs, too overcome with her phobia to reason that these were quite gentle creatures. She saw a radiant glow from another gallery and headed that way, away from the herd.
Meanwhile, back at Sparkles' house-
"Um, has anyone seen that cursed Eye?" Sparkles asked, unable to find the vile jewel. Her parents and visiting holy men hadn't seen it.
In fact it was all peaceful blues skies above her house, unlike at the other end of the island above the park and ruins site.
A discreet distance from the slugs, which returned to their late night grazing, she sighed and dropped down to a ledge by a waterfall to clean the slime off. The ground was now knee deep in water. On the ledge, she rummaged through what little equipment she brought in her small backpack The only real useful items she brought with her was the flashlight.. and The Eye of the Idol!
"Boy, are you gonna be sorry after I'm done with you!" she warned the cursed gem that she'd secretly palmed during breakfast. Hoping it would go undetected wrapped inside one of the spirit wards from Sparkles' house. She returned it to her pocket, gathered her items back into the backpack, and resumed her course for the glowing gallery. Then, almost in response to her threatening statement, she heard a loud groaning sound from whence she came. Five giant cave slugs were undulating her way, but their expressions were now far from docile, their eyestalks blazing red with possessed rage. A large bead of sweat nervously rolled down the side of her forehead, then she ran like hell.
As Nyanko ran toward the glowing gallery, she heard Rich's voice calling to her again, but as she got closer, the voice changed, becoming a mocking, evil ghostly laugh. She realized it was all a trick, but still she continued onward, trying to more carefully mind her steps. The water was knee deep and rising, and high overhead, roots of trees from the world above mingled and entertwined with the through the cavern ceiling's stalactites. The groaning of the giant cave slugs drew closer and then, she stopped. Several yards away from her, half submerged in water there was The Idol, just like the drawings she'd seen in her research, except that it was covered in a greenish coat of luminous fungi, the sort that the slugs included in their diet. The stone was all cracked and weathered from centuries of abandonment.
"Now why hasn't anyone found you before now? Oh well, what matters is that I"VE found you!" She smirked as she advanced- until she sensed a slug right behind her.
Nyanko shot up into the air, performing a graceful backward Squirrel Monkey Ukemi flip back on to the slug's head, then power-slammed it's eye-stalks into the cavern floor. The slug's squishy body and the several feet of water cushioned the blow to a degree, but nevertheless the beast was quite stunned. The rest of the herd was upon her, but they were no match for her speed and agility, even on their home ground. Her tactic was to strike at their eyes, delivering fast stunning blows, to buy her enough time to shove the gem into the idol's face and then retreat as fast as she could back to the world above. Despite her phobia of these creatures, her courage and resolve to save Sparkles fueled her fighting spirit.
When the whole herd of giant cave slugs was nicely dazed, she ran full speed back to the idol. She held the gem tightly in her right hand, and with a loud, angry banzai yell, she slammed the gem into the idol's face. Were this a human target, she would have driven her hand straight through it's skull. Her heart thumping like a locomotive, she stood there, pondering the moment.
"It's done!" She said, catching her excited breath.
"Nyanko!" Dach Savage called out.
She turned in the now waist-deep water, to see her friends swimming towards her, passing feeble-minded slugs as if they were sleepy cows.
"I found the idol- I did it!" The happy catgirl cheered.
"Well I'll be... looks like it's been in the belly of one of those big slugs for a long time!" Dach surmised. "No wonder nobody ever found it!"
"I hate slugs!" Nyanko said.
"Nyanko dear, those slugs are the most docile and harmless of creatures!"
"Tell that to the slugs! They tried to graze on ME!"
"They must have been possessed like the other animals", Dach observed.
"Other animals?" Nyanko quizzed, having been unaware of the incidents outside the ancient structure. Dach told her of how the animals
of the woods had been possessed by the evil spirit.
"Possessed the dwellers of the forest? Boy, the Faeries will not be amused when they find out!" Nyanko said.
"They'll will be outraged," Savage expounded. "Supposedly they have some sort of old code, where evil spirits stay the heck out of their
forest, but the Fae mind their own business regarding other parts of the world."
"Well at least we can go now! It's done!" Nyanko beamed.
"Ahh... I'm afraid not," Dach cautioned. "Only the true owner of the gem is the one who can stop the curse. That's why we needed to
bring Sparkles here once we found the idol! Otherwise, I'd have done like you did and brought it myself. It's not over yet!"
"Nyahhhh!" Nyanko sighed, hanging her head low, tail dropping wearily. "Sigh, well, let's phone her and--"
"The phones are out in the park." he said. "We'll have to-- uh oh!" Dach fearfully noticed the slugs' regained composure, and rage.
"I don't think those slugs are done with you, kid!"
Nyanko's teary eyes and quivering jaw revealed just how anxious she was to deal with giant slugs again.
Topside, the trees were leaning at a greater angle as the beavers gnawed away. The nearby bears chortled wickedly, ready to be served the school lunch. Bubbah and his dojo team were exhausted, still breaking the bones of the advancing skeletons. Rich and his classmates
managed to get into the office building, as Leilani and Alanasera fought the zombies. More sinkholes were appearing around the park,
as Meryl and the Park Rangers reloaded their weapons.
Nyanko fiddled with the statue, attempting to pluck the eye back out, which she'd slammed it in there pretty tightly.
"This is taking too long- look, I'll stay here and try to loosen the Eye- you run back up there and go get Sparkles!"
"But you'll be down here alone with those slugs... and those sinkholes are causing some cave-ins..." Dach warned.
"That idol could wind up buried under tons of rock!"
"But I can't drive a car!" Nyanko revealed.
"Ahhh... good point... you sure?"
"OK I'll race like the wind- but here- take this-" Dach reached into his mess kit and tossed her a packet of salt. "It's not much, but slugs hate it!"
"And take my tool bag- it might help you extract that rock!"
"Good luck Mr. Savage!" Nyanko wished him, catching the packet in her teeth, the tool bag on her arm. The Dachshund scurried away.
Nyanko continued her attempt to pry the eye, but soon the slugs were too close. She lept into the air, salting the lead slug in the chops.
It bellowed in irritation, the small amount of salt only deterring it for a moment. This was going to be a fierce battle...
The aging weener dog ran as fast as he could, but had to gasp for breath by the time he emerged from the catacombs. The teachers in the tree screamed as it continued to drop... suddenly a Public Works utility truck zipped their way.
"Banzai!" Meryl yelled from behind the wheel. She drifted into the tree and yelled for the teachers to hop on. The bears gave chase as she passed the Rangers' trucks that were picking up Bubbah's bunch. The miko girls waved from another truck. As the dachshund stood up, he stared straight into the maw of another gator. His pistol was out of ammo. Suddenly from behind him, a screaming catgirl came bolting out of the dark interior, all covered with icky slug goo. Without breaking her speedy stride, she scooped up the dog and kept going towards the parking lot, passing all the trucks and their pursuers.
Back at the office building & visitors center, Bubbah Sensei was hosing off a grumbling Nyanko.
"Mmm, did you say something, Nya-chan?" asked the orangutan, over the noise of trucks and guns taking out the zombies.
"I wonder how they're doing?" her Mom wondered.
"I hear a siren!" her Dad perceived.
"Look out!" yelled a visiting Deacon, as the roar of a motorcycle approached the newly repaired front door. The doorbell rang. Sparkles
opened the door, and was thrown into Meryl's sidecar by the weener dog. They sped off.
By the time they motored back to the park, it had been better secured. Most of the undead had been dispatched, and the larger animals tranqued and subdued. Smaller creatures such as birds, reptiles and bugs still encroached, but the tide was turning as Mery Murrey's motorcycle returned with Sparkles aboard. The task now, it seemed, was simple: with the idol precisely located, it was a matter of holding off the possessed critters long enough to get Sparkles down there to replace the Eye. Hopefully the ground would not cave in beforehand.
Sparkles' parents and the various clergy arrived a few minutes later. It seemed like all the island's local religious leaders- be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist or other- had joined together to stand against the evil curse, but then Catgirl Island has been a pretty happy little coastal carolina community where folks all tend to get along anyway, showing exceptionally neighborly support in times of need.
Reinforcements from the Police and Rescue agencies were also standing by, and even some of the Fae were there, discussing the crisis with
Venturing back into the deepest depths of the ancient ruins would be a smaller group though, comprised of Nyanko, Bubbah, Meryl, Dach, Sparkles and her parents, who insisted on going with their daughter. The Cave & Cliff Response Team would accompany them part way, waiting above the lowermost idol chamber in case a rescue was in order., and with the rain still pouring, flooding of the lower levels was as much a concern as the possibility of a cave-in.It was going to be tricky enough for seven people to easily get past the giant cave slugs.
This time they went in with a couple of pump sprayers full of salty water.
Although they better equipped and were clear on the route to the idol chamber, it was still a most unnerving descent into the eerie passages,
where green vines crept through the cracks of the dark stone walls, where the giant carved stone faces of deities seemed to scornfully watch the intrusion of their catacombs. But now, the team managed to journey unimpeded most of the way, until they reached the lair of the slugs.
If they were lucky, Nyanko and Bubbah would get Sparkles to the idol quickly, while the others distracted the slimy herd. Then they all would retreat like hell out of there. With the curse lifted, the slugs would hopefully return to their more benign demeanor, but they were still large wild animals that Nyanko wanted no part of.
Bubbah Sensei climbed up the wall to the ceiling and tested the vines.
"Nya-chan, the vines seem strong enough- we can climb along the ceiling over the herd, then drop down on the other side at the idol!"
"Ok, sounds like a plan- but what about Sparkles- she's not much of a climber..."
"Well it's true! When's the last time you went climbed through a department store?" Nyanko retorted.
"Yeah I'm a shopper not a climber..."
"I will carry her, being the superior climber here!" Bubbah said stressing the obvious. "Hang on to me, girl!"
Her parents nervously watched as Sparkles grabbed on to the ape's back, then he and Nyanko leapt to the ceiling
Halfway across the chamber, the plan seemed to be going without a hitch...but then the giant cave slugs' eye stalks glowed an angry red again.
"Ah, honey--?" Sparkles' mom tugged on her husband's arm, and pointed at the slugs.
"Um, what does it mean when they glow red like that?" He whispered.
"It means we're still in big trouble!" Dach sighed, readying his sprayer.
"I really think y'all should hang back and wait with the Responders!" Meryl advised.
The slugs lashed out, trying to gobble up the intruders. They spotted the three climbers overhead, and reared up to reach them.
"Fire fire fire!" Yelled Meryl. She and Dach sprayed a long jet of salty water at the slug who was trying to slide up the wall.
Some of the slugs were going after the climbing trio, some of the slugs approached the four on the ground. Sparkles screamed.
"We're almost there!" Nyanko assured her. "As soon as we drop down, all you hafta do is shove the eye in a little further!"
Meryl and Dach took the fight to the slugs, wading into the viscous water, driving the herd away from their climbing comrades.
"My spray tank's half empty!"
"Mine too- but it looks like they only have a few yards to go!"
"just a few more minutes-- YIPE!" Dach yelped as he was suddenly yanked off his feet.
"Dach-- UHH!" Meryl grunted as she too was pulled into the hip-deep water.
Sparkle's parents gasped as, under evil spiritual command, the vines from the ceiling, walls, and floor had lashed out to ensnare them all.
Dach had been pulled underwater, paws pinned to his sides by the constricting vines. Meryl continued spraying with one hand while she reached for her knife with the other. Sparkles screamed as the vines twined around her, Nyanko and Bubbah Sensei. The two martial artists
unsheathed their edged weapons and sliced at the slithering plants. Dach gasped for air having managed to cut himself free, but the slugs
and vines were advancing.
"Bloody hell- first the animals, now the plants?" Meryl cursed, emptying her sprayer.
"He's throwing his entire tackle box at us!" Dach quipped, continuing to struggle.
More vines shot towards them, but Nyanko sliced them like a cuisinart with her Spider Monkey Death Spiral Technique. With Sparkles in tow, she vaulted to the idol. The slugs were right behind her; although the salt caused some pain, it was too dilute to totally repel them.
Dach and Meryl had their knives and guns out. Bubbah jumped down, his steel whirling about to keep the vines off of Nyanko and Sparkles.
"OK NOW!" Nyanko yelled. Sparkles grabbed the gem that Nyanko had loosened, then shoved it all the way into the eye socket of the statue.
"Eye have had enough of you!" Nyanko cursed, ramming the knife into the other, empty stone socket as the killer vines still wove around her ankles. They thought they heard a ghostly groan as the vines relinquished their holds. The slugs quieted down and shuffled away from the saltier water, in search of more yummy luminous fungi.
A tearful Sparkles hugged her parents, then joyfully jumped for joy with an elated Nyanko. The Response Team slid into the idol chamber. As the everyone made their way back upstairs, to be met with cheers as the weather, flora and fauna returned to an idyllic norm.
"I don't care if it is a historic site, they oughtta fill that place full of concrete so this doesn't ever happen again!" an exhausted Nyanko sighed.
"Nyanko! I was so worried about you" Rich spoke with a hug.
"Oh Rich!" Nyanko cooed, as her eyes again beat like little valentine hearts, cat ears and tail excited in the romantic embrace.
"It looks like a happy ending for those catgirls!" Bubbah said to Meryl, watching Nyanko and Rich kiss, and Sparkles hugging her Mom.
"Yep- purrhaps that should be the headline on tomorrow's paper!" Meryl mewsed.
"I dunno about y'all, but I'm starved, and I see a great big ribeye steak in my immediate future." Dach suggested.
"I think we can arrange that!" Sparkle's Dad proposed. "A big celebration dinner party at our place!"
"Thank you very much! But first, now's my chance to find out something from the Faeries while they are still here..."
Dach ran over to the office building, where the Faeries were chatting with the Park Rangers. Meryl and Bubbah watched curiously, wondering
what the weenerdog had to ask of the Fae. Moments later, Dach thanked the Fae for their time and quietly wandered back to Bubah and Meryl, with a chagrined look on his face.
"So what was that all about?" Meryl queried.
"Huh. Do you recall how the Fae have some sort ancient dealings with the spirit world that they are so hush-hush about?"
"Hai... the Fae are very mysterious. So is that what you asked them about?" Bubbah pressed.
"Uh-uh... I asked her why it was shrouded in such secrecy..."
"They signed a big tell-all book deal with a major publisher that has a confidentiality clause. So if we want to know more, we have to wait and... buy the book..."
Meryl and Bubbah's jaws dropped, then they keeled over backwards. When Rich finally said goodbye, Nyanko also dropped down, laying on her back in the flowers with a most pleased and giggly expression.
The curse had been lifted, and throughout the night, the various emergencies across the island would be resolved. Folks would retire to their homes for the night, for a much-needed rest, recovery, and hot baths. The Fae would maintain a vigil over the ruins during the wee hours before the next dawn,they would see that a proper ritual was performed for the poor creatures that suffered from the evil spirit. There would be repairs and restoration needed to Angora-Kat, the idol would have to be securely entombed, and there would no doubt be a lot of paperwork.
The next day was the celebrative pool party and luau at Sparkle's house with dozens in attendance. They gave Nyanko a pretty one-piece swimsuit: a festive hibiscus-print malliot, with matching wrap, sandals, and sun bonnet. After fun in the pool, she took delight in helping prepare the big supper.
Meryl was rather fetching in her new white & amber brazil-cut swimsuit they gave her, with a pretty floral ring on her tail. She sat next to beside Bubbah Sensei, who was decked out in his gift of a new jet black silk haori. Despite the gifts and festivities, for the moment he was frowning.
"What's the matter with you?" Meryl asked.
"I am not allowed in the kitchen!" He grunted.
"Gee I wonder why?" Nyanko sarcastically responded. She waved to Alanasera and Leilani, who had been guarding the dessert cart from the orangutan all day.
"Or the grills!" He snorted. Nyanko glanced to the double grills on the terrace, which were surrounded by Nyanko's fellow dojo mates..
"Betrayed by my own men! Harumph!"
"Well I'm sure you'll get plenty to eat when dinner is served!" said Nyanko as she pattered around the pool to sip iced tea next to Rich, passing
Dach who was chomping on extra special baked yams while reading the advance copy of the book given to him by The Fae.
Sparkles rang the dinner gong, signaling that dinner was ready. Everyone emerged from the pool or rose from their seats, gathered 'round for a toast with glasses raised. Standing next to her parents, Sparkles addressed the crowd:
"Thank you all for joining us here tonight, as we all try to return to more normal lives after the recent crisis. Were it not for you folks, we would not even have any lives right now. I owe you all a debt of gratitude that no amount of wealth can sate, and hopefully this party will be merely the first welcome to many festive gatherings to come!"
The evening was beautiful as family and friend gathered in the garden by the pool. As the sun went down, party lanterns, sparklers, and colored lights illuminated the estate under a warm, clear, starry sky. There was plenty of festive fun and romance in the air. Later after midnight when goodbyes were said and the dishes were cleaned, Nyanko went home to enjoy the best sleep and fullest tummy a catgirl ever had.
"Oh Nyyy-aahhn-kohhh dear !!!!" Sparkles called into the dojo, where Nyanko was working out on the heavy bag.
"Hai! Take a look at THIS!" She held out an antique brooch. "I got it from a new boutique that opened in that vacant shop-"
Nyanko was already an eighth of a mile down the road before the door closed behind her.
Special thanks to JLH, Tiawyn, and Marc for helping to define the characters of Nyanko, Meryl, and Bubbah for this tale.
Nyanko will return in "Night of Dach Savage"!