The Tale of Xanim
The Origins of Calico Briggs
By James L. King
Warnings: Language, Violence
Summary: Queen Callista the Second, having been forced to flee her home, seeks out the SWAT Kats, who had served her mother many years before. Can they save her and save her bloodline? Or will History continue unaltered despite their attempt?
Legal: Swat Kat and all related personas, locations, etc are the property of Hanna/Barbera.
1000 years before present day:
You shall go no further in your pursuit of my Queen,” the old Guard said, sword in his right hand.
Xanim cast a spell, and the charged purple bolt raced toward him. To her surprise, he raised his left hand and made a swiping move with it.
The bolt hit the ground and dissipated as the old tom grinned at the Sorceress.
“Seem familiar?” he taunted.
She cast another spell, and a ball of flames sprang from her hands, only to be deflected as had the death bolt.
“Honestly, these attacks are kitten’s play to deal with, Xanim. Your magic could not touch my great grandfather, and he destroyed you.”
“So, you are descended from that by-blow Selaris.”
“I am the grandson of his daughter Celayes.”
“It does not matter. You are not as strong as he.”
“My daughter exceeds my strength, Xanim. And, she has fled to call her mother’s Heroes from the future.”
“My daughter, my Queen. She is both.”
“Then she must not be merely captured, she must die, as must the kitten.”
“My grand-daughter has been blessed and cannot die before her time. Use her as you will to bring my daughter back to the castle, but you cannot kill her.”
“I decide who will and will not die!’ Xanim screamed, then went into a rage, casting bolt after bolt in rapid succession. He dropped the sword and held both hands out as he focused his entire telekinetic ability into blocking the attack.
One of the charged purple bolts slid past his defensive gesturing and hit the Guard Captain in the chest, knocking him off his feet.
“Ahh, release,” the old tom said as his life’s blood poured from the wound in his chest. As she began an incantation, he raised his hand and focused everything into one last gesture.
An incredible telekinetic force slammed into Xanim, throwing her backwards into a tree. As she struggled to her feet, he drew his last breath.
Golden eyes set in a furless, pale oval face stared at the body, then with a toss of her head, she strode off, her long black hair settling around her shoulders like a cape.
Then she looked back as she said, “Too bad I could not steal your spirit. And, perhaps you are right. The daughter alive would be effective in bringing the Queen back to me.”
* * *
Chance closed the hood of the customer’s car. He pulled the rag out of his back pocket and wiped his hands off, then got in the car and backed it out of the garage. He walked back in, toward the customer lounge, which doubled as a daytime living room.
“Ma’am, it’s done,” he said to the dark gray female.
“Excellent,” she replied, “How much do I owe you?”
He told her, and she dug through her purse for the money. Chance walked into the office and made out a receipt. Then he grabbed two lollipops from a jar. He walked up to the quiet she-kitten on the couch and said, “Here ya go, kitten. Since you were so good for your mommy today, I’m giving you two lollipops.”
He held them out and she cautiously took them.
“What do you tell him?” her mother asked.
He smiled at the kitten and replied, “You’re welcome.”
He accepted the cash and gave her a receipt and change. As he walked them to the car, he said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I don’t have to see you soon.”
“Meaning for the car,” she asked.
She replied warmly, “Well, you guys have always treated us well.”
“Thanks. Have a good day, Ma’am.” Chance said, grinning.
She smiled as she got in her car and left.
He waved and muttered to himself, “Cute kid.”
With a sigh, he walked back into the house. Jake still wasn’t back from his parts run, and it had been over an hour. Should he call or should he wait?
* * *
Jake cut the wheel and floored it, spitting sand and gravel from one of the rear wheels of the new parts truck, which was actually a fifteen year old pickup with a bent frame that had seen better days, as it slid into the Salvage yard sideways.
Chance peeked out at the truck and, through the tumult of engine revs and sand being angrily displaced from the ground, he heard ‘Beer is good! Beer is good! Beer is good! And stuff!’ blaring from the speakers. As the truck came to rest mere inches from a mound of scrap, he glimpsed a maniac grin on Jake’s face.
Desert dust obscured the truck and driver as he got out and retrieved a box filled with gaskets and bolts. He walked toward the house, and Chance stepped out and yelled, “Hey, you complain about how I drive on my shortcuts and then have the gall to powerslide into here like that?”
“I can’t help it; this thing has blown rear shocks and a peg-leg diff!” Jake shot back. He stepped into the garage and plopped the box onto the bench. “Sort through these willya? I gotta get that starter for Mr. Carter’s car from the truck.”
“Ain’t in the bed, is it?”
“As expensive as it is, no,” Jake replied, then paused and turned, grinning, “Correction: ‘hell no’.”
“Don’t let me rub off on you too much, or I’ll have to call you ‘Hotshot’.”
“No chance of that happening, I’d think.”
Chance rolled his eyes and retorted, “You’re inna downright feisty mood today.”
“Heh,” Jake grunted as he slammed the truck door and carried the starter over.
Chance grinned and said, “Maybe we should get the Lieutenant and have her and Razor go at it for the night? Eh? A little bit of lovin’?”
Jake dropped the starter on the workbench and pointed at Chance, “Oh, no. Uh-uh. Never. You are not gonna ever hook me up with that she-kat. Feral’d kill the both of us!”
Chance grinned and shot back, “C’mon, bud, you know she’s got the hots for ya!”
“One more word, Furlong, and I’ll shave your back fur off in your sleep,” Jake growled as he headed for the door.
Chance laughed as Jake started inside the house.
Jake called back, “I’ve got a few guidance circuit boards to finish up. I’ll be back up in a couple hours.”
Jake pulled the rug away and opened the hatch as Chance replied, “All right then. I’ll handle the last bits of work today and close shop in an hour. Got any plans for dinner?”
Jake’s voice carried up the hatch, “Nope.”
“Pizza it is then.”
“The usual toppings,” came Jake’s echo.
* * *
1000 years before present day:
Queen Callista the Second had been forced to flee her castle when Xanim attacked. Her Royal Guard had whisked her away, and the Guard Captain, her own father, had sacrificed himself to slow the pursuit of the evil Enchantress. Unfortunately, Xanim had killed her husband and captured her daughter, Callista the Third.
It must have been the Triad who had restored life to the alien General that had led an army against Derilag and met with death at the hands of her ancestor, the Champion, Selaris.
She had no chance to mourn, and no other choices. She had managed to retrieve the Crystal Amulet of her mother, and the Dragon Sword, the emblem of her mother’s two heroes from a future time.
She had to break the Holy Laws and use the Forbidden Powers of Magic to summon them back in time. She entered the PastMaster’s abandoned keep and made her way to the top floor. She slipped on the amulet, and prepared the spell. She finally set the sword in the center of a circle and focused her spell through the amulet.
A small, glowing portal formed, and she looked through to see the massive black flying craft her mother had described as belonging to Sir Razor and Sir T-Bone.
She strode forward and stepped through…
* * *
…Into a well-lit space. She saw a slim copper tom leaning over a table muttering as he was assembling something very delicate. She walked toward him, calling out, “Sir Razor?”
He started in surprise and spun around to face her. Just at that moment, something felt bad. She pushed the feeling aside as he stammered in surprise, “M—my Queen?”
“You served my mother once, and now, I need you and Sir T-Bone. She’s killed my husband, has captured my daughter, and seeks to kill me.” She’d never felt unsafe around anyone before. It was an odd feeling that she should feel that around one of her mother’s heroes. Could it be something related to her father’s side?
Unbeknownst to her, Jake also felt ill. What Jake had never told anyone was that his father and grandfather were Trackers. He sensed something from her, but couldn’t tell what it was. Unlike his father and brothers, he didn’t have all the Tracker gifts.
A voice echoed from up top, shaking Jake out of his thoughts, “Hey, an alarm just went off down there. You want me to kill it?”
Jake yelled back, “Yes, then get down here.”
Jake asked, his voice tremulous, “So, you’re not the Queen Callista we met?”
“I am her daughter.”
Chance dropped down, asking, “So what’s this all… ohhh, crud.” He looked her over, then asked, “Queen Callista? What are you doing here?”
Something pricked at the edge of her senses. Several somethings. She couldn’t understand the other two she felt, but she knew the two before her were powerful in ways that defied logic. Despite the confusion, she smiled slightly. “Mayhap you are thinking of my Mother, whom you met some sixty years ago.”
An expression of awe crossed the tiger tabby’s face.
“Sixty years?” Jake asked, “But, you’re so young!”
“Uhh,” Chance interjected, “You forget, Razor, in her time, it’s only been a few generations removed from life on the Dead Continent, Am’elis. Our ancestors there lived to three hundred. The Queen here could very well live to two-hundred years old herself,” Chance said, then turned to the Queen, “What brings you to our time?”
Surprised at his apparent knowledge of what would be to this time ancient history, the Queen nodded and replied, “My husband is dead, and my daughter kidnapped. Xanim seeks to kill me as well. I need you to help me rescue my daughter, and if I fall, I need you to bring her forward in time with you.”
‘She had a daughter? History said she was childless…’ Chance mused, looking at her skeptically, ‘And, we”ll gain this child? What the heck?’
“Well, let’s get ready to roll, T-Bone,” Jake said, starting toward the lockers. He inwardly nodded; then it was true. She felt like Chance, but stronger. Much stronger. This wasn’t something he hadn’t sensed from her mother, however. He was starting to come into his abilities as a Tracker, however, whereas at the time they’d met her mother, he hadn’t yet developed the senses.
“Yeah, let’s get ready,” Chance replied. Something about this didn’t seem quite right. Suddenly, a vision flashed before his eyes, and he staggered backward. He caught himself and heard Jake say something.
“You okay, buddy?” he heard Jake repeat, and he held his head as he sighed and answered, “Yeah. I’ll be fine.”
* * *
T-Bone inventoried the equipment while Razor checked off the list on a clipboard. Callista impatiently crossed her arms and stared at them. Again, Razor felt a sense of familiarity with the Queen, as if they’d crossed paths in the past.
“Dual Cyclotron,” he started off, and Razor replied, “Check.”
“The other Dual Cyclotron.” T-Bone touched the windshield of it as Razor came back, “Check.”
“Dual Glovatrixes for both of us.”
“Four checks,” Razor muttered, then said, “Bazooka for me, missiles for bazooka. Check on both.”
“Yep. Hey, what about extra ammo for the glovatrixes?” T-Bone arched an eyebrow, and Razor nodded.
“Check. A whole backpack for you, and as many clips as I can carry around my missiles.”
“You gas up the bikes and load ’em out?”
“Yep, and I also topped off the reserve tanks.”
A grin appeared on the tiger’s face, “Cool. What about some of the extra stuff?”
“Two bricks of home-made C4, a remote detonator, half a dozen small charges and micro-detonator?”
Razor pointed at one of the Dual Cyclotrons. “Packed in its saddlebags, along with three grapple guns and zipline handles.”
“Gotcha. You, me, and the Queen?”
“Check, check and check. I think we’re ready. So, what’s the plan?”
“Simple. We get to the Castle cliff, then climb it.”
“But, the cliff is too steep. There’s no way to climb it.”
“My Queen, I’ve studied the ruins of your castle extensively. The cliff side is the only real weakness, and a major blind spot. The cliff can’t be climbed with equipment from your time, although it can with our equipment. We’ll make it up there.”
Her expression was stony as she asked, “You’ve studied my castle. Does that mean you’ve also studied me?”
His expression was stoic as he replied, “Yes, I have. It seems history left out a few details. Like you having a daughter, and this whole adventure. History bears out that you disappeared, and were assumed dead from when you killed Xanim. There was no record of us being here.”
“Then it seems that I’ve changed history.”
T-Bone growled, “Not yet, you haven’t. We haven’t saved your life yet. And, there’s still a battle between you and Xanim.”
Razor asked, “So, what’ll we do when we get in the castle?”
Callista said, “Xanim has shown power to raise the recently dead to do her bidding.”
T-Bone said, “She’ll have a good portion of these zombies guarding her, and quite likely have many more in the town outside the castle. It’d be wise to close the castle gate.”
“I’d agree. Split your forces between an outer perimeter, the City, and then as many in the inner keep to safeguard.”
By closing the gate and jamming it, we cut in half what we have to deal with.”
“Would she not think of this?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
Razor finished, “It’s a risk we’ll have to take.”
Callista performed an incantation on her mother’s amulet, and a second portal formed. They all stepped through into a past time.
* * *
Something was very wrong. They heard the moans of undead in the tower. Razor wasted no time and aimed his bazooka at a wall, blowing the wall out.
Callista scooped up the Dragon Sword and got on T-Bone’s Cyclotron as he sat down on it and started it up.
Razor got on the Single Cyclotron and said, “I’ll lead them away, and you head toward the Castle through the Canyon route. I’ll meet up with you near the base of the cliff.”
Razor revved his engine and launched out of the several story high hole. His voice carried back, “Best of luck, buddy!”
T-Bone heard the sounds of engine revs, missiles launching and explosions and smiled as the sounds began to fade into the distance. Hopefully, the diversion worked.
He revved the dual’s engine and launched out of the hole himself. The Queen screamed in terror as the ground closed rapidly. T-Bone revved in mid-air, leaning back a bit to pitch the bike backward. A trio of zombies cushioned the long drop, and T-Bone rapidly accelerated away.
She clung to the grips for dear life as T-Bone wove around trees.
* * *
Razor landed just past the crowd of zombies and kicked the bike’s back end around. He activated the Cyclotron launcher systems and targeted a small cluster of zombies. He fired, destroying several zombies. Bodies flew through the air whole and in pieces as he targeted another missile at zombies and launched it.
Seeing that the vast majority of them had now turned and were shambling toward him, he drove off. A short distance away, he skidded to a halt and spun the Cyclotron around and launched a couple more missiles.
He fishtailed again and sped off, stopping and firing again to keep the zombies after him, and away from T-Bone and Callista.
As he skidded to another stop, he heard a scream and glanced up to see the other Cyclotron in mid-air and land on a few zombies. He fired again, then left another sweeping rut in the clay as he drove off again.
* * *
Several hours later:
Razor came to a stop near the other Cyclotron. He dismounted and said, “I lost ’em. They tried to cross a raging spring river after I blew up the bridge. They were swept downstream.”
“Positive. By the time they get here, we should be all the way up the cliff, or maybe even have dealt with Xanim. Let’s get to climbing.”
“Are you sure this is wise?” Callista asked.
T-Bone nodded. “Probably not. But, do we have a choice? The main entrance will be guarded, and I’m not sure we can handle that many zombies.”
* * *
They climbed over the cliff’s edge and onto a small spot of ground outside the castle wall.
The Queen felt around her neck and exhaled, “I lost the Amulet. I’m not sure I can send you back without it.”
“We’ll worry about it later, my Queen,” Razor said, “First, we have to deal with Xanim.”
“My Queen,” T-Bone started, “it would be safer and faster if I carried you than if you tried to use a grapple yourself.”
“How would you carry me?”
He squatted and replied, “Stand behind me and hold on to my neck.”
She set her jaw, “Then let us do this.”
She reached over his shoulders and grasped the front of his G-suit. He straightened, lifting her off the ground. He aimed his grapple and fired. At the top, he climbed up, then squatted to set her down on flat stone.
Razor pulled the Grappler guns out of his pack, then aimed one and fired. He pulled it tight and tied it off on a crenellation, then grabbed the next gun.
After a few minutes, he showed the Queen how to hold onto the zip line handles and then went down a line as demonstration. He landed on the stable roof and waved. Reluctantly, she followed just after T-Bone.
T-Bone dropped off the stables first and cursed aloud as an armored zombie came toward him, halberd at the ready. He launched a pair of explosive missiles, which only served to slow the monstrosity.
Claws out, he ducked under its swing and came up close to it. He grasped the helm and ripped it off. The zombie hissed at him and snapped its teeth at his face. He dropped the helm, and at that instant, he reared back and slammed his fist into the dead kat’s face. Blood splattered from the zombie’s face and the audible crack of bones could be heard as it flew backwards a few feet and landed.
He felt the halberd’s shaft smack him in the back as he aimed. T-Bone launched the third missile in his glovatrix at the zombie’s head, and it twitched as it died for the second time.
Callista and Razor got down as T-Bone reloaded another missile clip into his glovatrix. Then he took point, leading them toward the Castle gate.
“You remember this part, don’t ya?”
“We close the gate and seal it to prevent the zombies outside from getting in, then we enter the castle and make our way to the main hall, where Xanim presumably is, and has the Princess.”
* * *
T-Bone and Razor continued to fight zombies as they continued through the castle keep. Several corpses smacked into walls as T-Bone tossed a small explosive charge at them and then activated the detonator.
A pair more of the Royal Knight zombies stalked toward them from behind, but they succumbed to the explosive blast of a full C4 brick that Razor had dropped being detonated by their feet. Unfortunately, it also took out the nearby walls, and the trio had to run to avoid being crushed by tons of rubble.
They passed an archway, and Callista pointed at the massive double door at the end of the passageway.
“Here we are, at last,” Razor said as they looked at the Throne room door.
“Good thing, too. I’m almost outta ammo,” T-Bone replied.
“Same here. I’ve still got two missiles and a couple net cartridges.”
“I’ve got a few different kinds left,” T-Bone replied.
The door opened, and they heard a deep undead voice say, “Please enter, Honored guests.”
T-Bone started to step in, but Razor stopped him. “It’s a trap. Something is on the door threshold.”
“How is it trapped? If it were anything physical, I’d see it.”
“I’d see it too. No, this is some kind of energy.”
“I sense an enchantment, but I cannot tell what it is,” Callista said, “If I knew what it was, I could dispel it.”
“Well, let’s go,” T-Bone said.
Weapons at the ready, they stepped into the room…
…and found themselves half-way down the throne room, separate from each other, with two zombies close to each of them.
The beautiful, lithe alien female locked her golden eyes on the two SWAT Kats, and she smiled evilly, “So… you are the Heroes of the Dragon Sword legend?”
Razor and T-Bone aimed their weapons at her. Then Razor’s eyes widened. He saw. He saw! He could sense everything around him.
She threw back her head and laughed as a magical gust of wind made her long raven hair billow out behind her. “Your toys are no match for me. My Master has conquered worlds far more advanced than yours, Heroes from the Future.”
Jake had one of the Tracker gifts, The Calm, which was what he attributed to his preternatural aim. But, he had recently come into the sixth and seventh senses, simply called The Sight. Did the other abilities of the Trackers suddenly birth in him, or was he still a lesser child of his Tracker ancestors?
In any case, he began to fear. What he saw in Xanim was horrific. She could slaughter them all with a wave of her hand. He knew it, despite holding his weapon steady, despite maintaining the fierce expression of victory.
Callista looked at the threshold to her old Throne room, then placed her hands together, palms out. A focus of her abilities, and she destroyed the incantation. She stepped in, her face set.
“Welcome, Queen Callista,” Xanim said smoothly as she began to glow blue.
“Where is my daughter?” Callista said as she came to a stop between the positions of both SWAT Kats.
“She is safe here with me,” Xanim replied, gesturing to show a peach-colored blonde she-kitten trapped in a circular cage.
“Release her immediately,” Callista purred dangerously as she set her stance.
“I will not,” Xanim replied. She set her stance and held her hands open, smirking as she began to glow blue.
T-Bone froze. This was what he saw in his earlier vision…
Razor watched impassively, yet not without some surprise as Callista pointed at the cage and the bars bent, torn from their original positions. The kitten jumped out and dashed toward her mother.
“Run!” she cried, then gestured with two fingers, leaving twin trails of fire to a wall. “Between the fire!” With a punching gesture, she created a hole that appeared in the wall as if a giant had thrown a rock through it. The kitten obeyed and ran between the fire trails, and Xanim cast bolts of fire at her. The bolts were deflected by another several sweeps of Callista’s hand.
She readied herself for the next attack as her daughter scampered out through the hole in the wall.
* * *
Razor slowly nodded to himself. Callista had confirmed that Chance was indeed of Telekinetic descent. The usage of her powers felt the same as when Chance went into ‘superkat’ mode.
“How you’ve grown in power since we last met, Callista,” the Sorceress said in surprise, an evil smile growing on her face as she stepped down off the dais. “You are almost as powerful as your ancestor, Selaris.”
T-Bone and Razor both absorbed that knowledge.
Her gold and silver edged black and red robes trailed behind her on the steps. “You will empower me further, and then nothing shall be beyond my control. I shall ascend to the heavens and remake this world in my Master’s image!”
Xanim raised her hand and cast a purple bolt at the Queen. A surge of power came from T-Bone, and he glanced over as T-Bone screamed and pounced on the Queen. They rolled away as the bolt struck him in the back.
* * *
The Queen raised her hand and focused telekinetic abilities to deflect the bolt. For a moment, the bolt stopped, held away by Callista’s powers, but a zombie rushed toward her. She turned her attention to it, incinerating it with a magical gout of flame.
Then she felt the Naret’li’ian being used by someone nearby, then a bone-jarring impact as someone pounced on her and grabbed her. A second impact jolted her senses – and then, they were rolling.
* * *
Callista was the descendant of Selaris? But, her mother wasn’t. That meant her father was. Was she Faranith or Celayes? Did it truly matter? In either case, her bloodline had been missing for over a thousand years.
This was the time of his death. He had no choice. She had to be saved, her bloodline preserved so that the Prophecy could be fulfilled. His sister would have to carry on Filonis’ line.
He saw Xanim gesture and fire a purple bolt at Callista, then saw a Zombie rush her. He shouted “NO! MY QUEEN!”
He accessed the ancient Battle Rage and slapped the zombies near him away. He then pounced on Callista, scooping her into his arms in mid-air.
The bolt struck him in the small of his back, and he felt his life draining from his body. He also felt the impact as they landed and rolled on the cold stone floor.
His heart stopped, and he felt drawn out. He struggled to stay within his body. He focused his still-conscious mind on grasping the rapidly thinning silver cord that bound his spirit to his body. He struggled to hang on. He heard the name Callista uttered, and although he was dead, he saw her kindly face through his eyes.
She closed her eyes, and he felt a grasp on his soul… but it wasn’t the cold draw of magic… it was warm to him, familiar… and despite never experiencing it before, from his training, he recognized it. If he could’ve, he would’ve screamed.
‘NO! We’ll Bond! I can’t allow it! Callista, stop!’
Then she did stop. An expression of realization and awe crossed her face, then she stood and turned toward Xanim, holding out her left hand.
* * *
She found her gaze locked on his face as they landed and rolled. She felt his spirit separating from his body, but holding on – struggling. She gazed into his eyes, looking deeper. Then, she saw – she knew who he was.
Something about him had seen disquiet in her innermost being, a disquiet her father admitted to her that he also had during their brief encounter in the past. Now she knew what it was.
He was the son of the Outcast. She was the daughter of the Eldest. His ancestor was supposed to be responsible for murdering hers – but she didn’t see that evil act in his blood. Regardless of guilt or innocence, because of his sacrifice, his line would be Outcast no more. She felt a greater measure of telekinetic ability birth within her. With this selfless act on her part…
She whispered, “Filonis, all is forgiven.”
They stopped rolling and, his grip loose, he flopped onto his back. She crawled half onto him, laying across his chest. She closed her eyes, focusing her mind on pulling him out of Xanim’s spell and on healing his wound. The wound closed, and she focused more and more of her power on him.
She knew this kind of contact would bind their souls together, effectively making them husband and wife… but her husband was already dead, wasn’t he? Her Kingdom destroyed and gone…
She thought of the future. Of her daughter. Then she saw it – the vision her father had seen. Like her daughter, he was protected. Neither could be killed before their time. She did not need to draw him back to his body; it was instead her role to kill Xanim.
She had to go to the future, but not for herself. Her daughter needed her husband, and this tom was he.
She stood, turned, and focused all of her telekinetic abilities into a single blast…
* * *
“T-BONE!” Razor yelled, and fired nets at the two zombies. As it always did, The Calm infused him as he set his stance and wielded his Bazooka. As Xanim performed an incantation, Razor took aim at the Sorceress and fired. He automatically reloaded, and readied to fire again.
The missile hit in front of Xanim, staggering her, then something else threw her back onto a suit of armor. She landed on her two feet and tried to step forward, and felt something hard scrape against something soft in her chest as her weight shifted forward. She looked down to see the lance sticking out of her chest.
Callista focused a second time, and the second blast threw the entangled Xanim into the wall.
“Now, Sir Razor!” she called, and he fired. She focused the last of her willpower into a third blast and struck Xanim with it as Razor’s missile hit.
With a scream and a shockwave burst of light, Xanim dissolved into ash as the spirits of those she’d killed were freed. Razor was knocked on his tail from the shockwave, whereas Callista remained standing.
The zombies all turned to dust as she died. T-Bone lurched on the floor and, as he stood, Razor saw Callista still standing, her arm outstretched, an angered expression leaving her face. She knelt by T-Bone and touched his chest.
She felt the warmth of his spirit within his body and smiled.
Razor skidded to a stop next to them.
The darkness of sleep, not death, clouded T-Bone’s vision as Razor asked if he was okay. He smiled, then all went black.
* * *
T-Bone woke up on something somewhat soft and felt a warm, vibrating something at his side. He opened his eyes and saw the royally furnished bed he was lying on. The she-kitten princess was asleep next to him, using his chest as a pillow.
Carefully, he shifted his weight and slid out from under her. He sat up and glanced over to see Callista napping in a chair and Razor snoring away in a make-shift hammock.
He looked out the window at the darkened, rainy sky. It was a miracle he was alive. A miracle she was alive. A miracle that had saved the so-called ‘dead’ line of Selaris, whichever one she happened to be. But, why did she totally disappear and make history think that she had died?
He placed his head in his hands. After a moment, he forced himself to a stand and walked out to the hallway. He sat down on the floor near the door. He needed to think. He stared at his hands and thought. He almost jumped as he felt a tiny hand on his shoulder and looked up to see the bright green eyes of the Princess – a green that reminded him of Callie – staring at him. She asked, “Sir T-Bone?”
He gazed at his hands and replied softly, “Just call me T-Bone.”
“It’s your mother. She wants something that can’t be,” he paused. With a sigh he continued, “Even if I weren’t in love with someone else, it still couldn’t be like she wants. I don’t think I’d be a good husband… or father. I only barely tolerate kittens.”
Unseen by T-Bone and the Princess, Callista appeared in the doorway behind them as the Princess sat down next to him on the stone floor and hugged his arm, resting against him.
“Who are you in love with, Sir T-Bone?” she asked.
His jaw worked silently. Finally, he said, “Her name is… Calico Briggs. She’s the Dep… the Queen of my City. I don’t deserve her either. But, I’d sacrifice anything for her.”
“You are wrong, son of Filonis. I am not destined for you. I have seen her face, however.”
They looked up, and Callista smiled. “What is a Queen without her kingdom? My Kingdom died. So must I and my line. We shall disappear from History to protect ourselves and give the Triad their victory. It will be in your time we are rediscovered, and it is you and you alone who shall rediscover us.”
“Which is your line, if I may ask?”
“Through my father, I am descended from the last Triarch of Derilag, I am of the Seer, Celayes.”
“I rather thought as much.”
“It is time for me to send you back to your time. As soon as Sir Razor awakens, we shall proceed to the PastMaster’s Tower.”
* * *
Two weeks later:
The Queen stared at her castle one last time, from the top of the PastMaster’s old Tower. She glanced down at her daughter, the exact image of herself at that age. She felt weak. She’d not eaten in over a week, saving the meager food she could find for her daughter. Having lost the Amulet of her mother, she had expended considerable energy to send her Heroes back forward in time. She intended to follow them now that she had recovered enough of it.
“Come, we must flee this time and go to when our Heroes live.”
Her four year old daughter took her outstretched hand. They looked at the castle, saying good-bye to the dead there for the final time. Her heart felt empty as she remembered her husband’s kindly face and then he whom she knew her daughter must marry. She would go to when he was a kitten. Mayhaps some happiness also lay in that time for herself.
She must commit this one sin, the usage of the Forbidden Powers, one last time. ‘May the Creator forgive me this desperate act and restore my salvation’.
The Queen stretched out her hand and finished the incantation that allowed the Time Portal to form. She lowered her hand and, severely weakened, stepped through with her daughter.
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