CHAPTER 3: THE INNER STRUGGLE
Elrod groaned as he slowly opened his eyes. He looked up and around, blinking in confusion as he saw he was… in a cage? All kinds of smells and sounds surrounded him as he slowly raised up, grabbing the bars of the cage and looking out. He was in some kind of market where odd creatures with more arms and legs than they had teeth walked around, bargained with other creatures, shouted about what kind of things they sold or were just hanging on corners, smoking on some odd-looking pipes. As Elrod tried to stand up, he was held back by something cold around his ankle. Looking down, he saw he was dressed in nothing but a dirty loincloth, a chain locked close around his foot, locked to a ring in the floor with no sort of lock.
“What is this? Where am I?” Elrod muttered, then looked up as some large goblin-creature talked in a gurgling and growling language to a creature with body of man and head of a bull… a minotaur!
“Hrrmmm….a bit scrawny, ain’t he?” the minotaur said cooly, stroking his furry chin and glaring at Elrod with deep-black eyes that glittered with dangerous intelligence.
The goblin grinned nervously.
“He may be scrawny, milord Tarkan, but he *is* strong! Very good for hard work!” The goblin snapped into the cage and grabbed Elrod by the scruff of his neck and forced his mouth open. The goblin’s fingers weren’t the cleanest and Elrod angrilly bit down *hard*!
The goblin HOWLED with pain and retreated quickly, nursing his bleeding fingers while the minotaur was roaring with laughter.
“And, with strong teeth I see! A stubborn little critter, but I’ll beat that off him. How much?”
The goblin mumbled a price and the minotaur threw a small bag with coins to him. The goblin opened the cage Elrod was in, opening the end of the chain locked to the ring in the floor and yanked on it, pulling Elrod out of the cage and down onto the muddy ground. Elrod yelped at the sudden movement and was pulled roughly to his feet by the minotaur who at the same time smacked an ice-cold metal-ring around his neck that was so tight it threatened to strangle him. Elrod gagged as the minotaur roughly pulled on his chain, forcing him to follow.
“Now, my new slave. First off, we are going to get you washed. I hate filthy slaves. And then, we will see what you are capable of.”
“My name is not “slave”, minotaur,” Elrod growled.
The minotaur stopped and turned around, looking at Elrod with a mixed expression of irritation and amusement. “Then if your name is not ‘slave’, then what is it?” he asked in a calm, monotonous voice.
“My name is Elrod Purvis, and I am no slave!” Elrod growled, baring his fangs.
The minotaur only snorked with laughter, then snapped out with an enormous hand, wrapping it tightly round Elrod’s throat and making it difficult to breathe. Before he knew it, Elrod was dangling above the ground, struggling to get air despite the minotaur’s strong grip around his throat.
“You have no name, pathetic little critter,” the minotaur sneered, showing sharp teeth that were definitely not used to chew grass with. “You are my slave, you are to obey each of my orders. I do not tolerate disobedience. Espeacially not from a filthy slave like you!” With that, the minotaurus flung Elrod from him.
Elrod felt himself hit the muddy ground, a sharp kick to his gut causing him to lose his breathe. A large hand grabbed around his neck and sent him hard into a nearby wall.
A sharp surge of pain, and everything turned black.
Kathy placed a slim paw on the glass, looking at the person in the hospital bed on the other side….
They had found his car wrecked, and himself unconcious. His legs had been stuck under the board and if a few teenagers hadn´t gotten him out and called the hospital, Elrod would had been killed in the following explosion that emerged when the fire had reached the fuel tank. How Elrod, who normally was a skilled driver, had crashed was a mystery. They had taken tests and had found no drugs or alcohol in his blood, but a wound in the back of his head had testified to a sort of ambush. The doctors had a theory that someone had hidden in the back of the car and had attacked from behind, causing the crash… whoever had attacked had gotten away.
“How is he?” a voice sounded.
Kathy turned her head and saw Samantha, Elrod’s sister. Like her brother, Samantha had tan/golden fur and coal-black hair that was tied up in a pony-tail. Her son and Kathy and Elrod’s nephew, Nicky was by her side, holding her hand.
The kitten beamed and waved at Kathy. “Hi, Aunt Kathy!”
Kathy smiled a little and waved slightly. “Hi Nicky…” She then sighed and looked at Samantha. “He´s in a coma…. The doctors don´t know for how long… or if he even will survive…” The last bit was almost choked out and Kathy turned away, covering her mouth with her hand.
Samantha sent her sister-in-law a concerned look and glanced down at Nicky.
“Nicky, sweetie, why don´t you go over to the play-room?”
“OK mommy.” After Nicky had left, escorted by a friendly nurse, Samantha went over to Kathy and placed a paw on the she-kat’s quivering shoulder.
“He´s going to be OK Kathy. He´s a Purvis! And, we don´t just give up at once.”
Kathy managed a small, yet lightly depressed, smile. “I know… I remember when we were in school and there was that contest… Elrod went through hundreds of ideas for a project… and he was glad he made it though he only got a second place and… Samantha, I don´t know what I am going to do!! David is still missing and Elrod….”
The situation being too much for her caused her to break into unbearable tears. Samantha helped her sit down and hugged her gently.
“He´s going to be OK, Kathy….He´s going to be OK….”
“But, what if he isn´t, Samantha? I…I don´t want to be alone with our baby….”
Samantha’s eyes widened slightly. “Kathy…you’re pregnant!?”
The she-kat nodded tiredly, wiping away tears.
“I just found out today…. I´m three weeks ahead…. and I wanted to tell it to Elrod but….” She shook her head.
Samantha smiled softly and hugged her. “Everything will be OK, Kathy….. It will….”
It was night at the hospital. Only a few nurses and doctors were walking around, making sure nothing was wrong with the different patients, young and old. Kathy had returned home while Samantha had stayed to “stand guard”. Kathy had promised to take care of Nicky in the meantime. The older she-kat sat, half-dozing in a chair next to Elrod’s bed when a clatter from the window alerted her. She stood up and looked over at the window, seeing a familiar skeleton face.
“Pastmaster!” she whispered and went over, quickly opening the window. The gnomish sorceror hopped down on the floor and growled at a wyvern that was placed in a tree outside the window. “I´ll call for you when I need you.”
The wyvern hissed and took off.
“I took off as soon as I got your message,” the Pastmaster said calmly, his single eye glowing in the half darkness of the room.
Samantha nodded and sighed. “I hope you can find out what has really happened…..”
“Just make sure I don´t get disturbed,” the sorceror mumbled as he headed for the bed.
Samantha nodded and pulled a curtain for the glass door and window in the room, then turned and watched the Pastmaster do his work.
The sorceror placed his skeleton paws on Elrod’s chest and closed his eyes, concentrating. A slight chanting escaped his lips and a deep-orange glow surrounded his and Elrod’s body. He went into Elrod’s mind, searching through the deepest parts of his subconcious self…..
Samantha turned around in a snap, hearing a startled gasp from the Pastmaster. “What? What is it!?” she asked.
The Pastmaster looked from the kat in the bed and to the she-kat. “Syphon is alive.”
“So, there he was, standing in thin air as if it was solid ground!” Jake said as he and Chance had returned to the salvage yard.
Felina and Callie listened worried as their husbands informed them of their encounter with the Doctor Viper look-alike Nexus.
“Do you think he could have something to do with Viper?” Felina asked with a frown.
“Who knows? One thing is certain…. he looked like one that could snap over a iron-bar as if it was a dry twig!” Chance muttered, feeling an odd chill up his spine. He could tell it was not the usual chill of excitement he would get because of an upcoming mission, or the chill he felt when they chased a criminal.
It was the chill you feel when you are frightened.
“Well at least that giant worm is gone…” Jake sighed as he cast a glance at the TV, where Ann Gora was telling about how the enormous swamp-beast had finally gotten done chewing down the tower and had left the same way it had come. By diving into the ground as if it was water.
“….Several kats are surprised about, how neither the Enforcers or the SWATKATS could handle the mysterious monster. It is a riddle how it appeared and who sent it. Most clues are aimed towards Doctor Viper who no one has heard from in over six years, and…what the…?!”
Jake, Chance, Callie and Felina gasped as a sudden flash appeared, and they saw none other than Nexus. He stood there, smirking arrogantly, his tail going slowly from one side to another.
Ann quickly recovered from the surprise and spoke into her mic.
“This is Ann Gora, Katseye News. It seems as if the guilty party returns to the scene of the crime! Ladies and gentlekats, it looks like Doctor Viper is back and-….”
“Ms. Gora, I hate to dissssappoint you, but I am not Doctor Viper. The SWATKATS already know that, and now every viewer of Katseye Newsss knows as well,” Nexus said with a calm grin.
Ann blinked, surprised.
“If you are not Doctor Viper, then who are you? Do you have any relation to him perhaps? Family, friend or rival?”
Nexus narrowed his eyes with a cold glint.
“I am in no way related to that foul reptile more than I am a so-called creepling. I would rather let myself be infected with the plague before I would become friend with him, and rival? What is there to be rival of when there isn´t one?”
Ann got surprised once more. Being her daredevil self, she reached her mic towards Nexus.
“Are you saying you perhaps have killed Doctor Viper? Or are you keeping him prisoner?”
Nexus let out a snort of laughter. “Oh he is alive. But, for how long depends on how he can stand the inner struggle.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Nexus’ face cracked in a cruel grin. “His body is in this world, while his soul is in the demon-world. His body is alive, as long as his soul can stand against the torments in the other world. Allow me to demonstrate!!”
Before Ann could react, Nexus snapped out and grabbed her by her neck. He lifted her up in the air and let out a odd chanting. Ann’s eyes widened, her pupils turning small and her breath came in struggling gasps. Nexus grinned, keeping his grasp, ignoring her struggling. His grin widened as her struggling ceased and her body went limp. Then, he dumped her on the ground. He glared coldly into the camera.
“Let this be known, MegaKat City! No one can stand against the power of Nexus, the servant of Hei Ying!”
Then he vanished into thin air.
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