|The Battle is Won |
A hush fell over Cruithne, a deafening silence that rang throughout the land. Across the deserts of Harena, people and pets alike drew their swords and readied their weapons, ready to die for their side. The final battle had begun.
On one side of the field, Brandhart stood tall among the sun-tanned Harenians. The other side, Pathogen swayed with the diseased licking at her heels. Both sides were ready to fight to the end.
Brandhardt ended the silence. “For many months, these disgusting beings have ruined our peace. Now, it is time for them to pay for what they’ve done! Leave no survivors, my fellow Harenians! Kill them all!” Brandhart turned and roared, signaling the Harenian army to attack.
Pathogen stood watching as Brandhardt and his army inched ever so closer. She turned and faced her accomplices.
“We end this, now!” Pathogen paused, letting the blood thirsty roar of the diseased fill her ears. She looked over her shoulder to see Brandhardt and his pack of Harenians billowing closer.
“Bring every last one of them to the ground - but leave Brandhardt for me.” Pathogen raised her matted paw into the air, “For freedom!”
Callie paced back and forth across the scratched and splintering floorboards, each of her movements echoed by Cassiopeia. Across the room, Ng sat, ripping through the pages of a medical journal. Reaching the end of the book, she shook her head, a heavy sigh escaping her as she tossed it on a pile of similar books beside her.
"Anything yet?" Callie questioned, her voice an odd mixture of hope and anxiety.
"Nothing," Ng murmured. "Absolutely nothing. I thought that maybe a concentrated solution of penicillin would work...but it wouldn't be strong enough."
Suddenly, she paused, head snapping up to look at Callie.
"Well," started Ng, picking a book out form another stack,"it says here that, combined with Cruithnean spores, the Penicillin's effect is multiplied to a degree which could, in theory, cure the disease."
"Go on," Callie said, the hope growing in her eyes.
"Now, finding these spores is no problem - I have several samples in my laboratory, all fresh and ready for use. The problem is, the spores can cause terrible infections. They'd need to be sterilized, but the heat needed for that would be tremendous."
The two of them paused a moment, thinking about the dilemma. Then, simultaneously, they both turned their heads to look at the figure sitting in the corner of the room - Cassiopeia. Shaking their heads, grins spread across both of their faces. Finally, they knew what to do.
Sweat dripped from Ng's forehead, down the curvature of her cheek bones, and onto the ceramic-tiled floor. She was shaking from excitement. Finally, a cure could be made - right in front of her eyes. She turned to Callie.
"Stay here - it will make it much simpler if it is just Cassiopeia and me."
Callie nodded her head in agreement. "You do what you have to, Professor."
Ng lead Cassiopeia outside, not wishing to lose her life's work in medical science in the blaze. She ran in front of Cassiopeia and placed the spores in front of her on the ground.
"Cassiopeia," Ng shrieked with enthusiasm, "This is it. Just, you know, burn those babies up!"
Cassiopeia replied with a confused glare.
Ng cleared her throat, "What? You haven't ever seen someone excited before?" Ng sighed, then continued, "I shall be waiting back at the door. Give it all you got."
As she turned and ran, she could feel the heat rise behind her. The roar of the blaze was spectacular, wild and ferocious, as Cassiopeia danced with the flame, creating a blaze hotter than any she had ever known.
The heavy clash of metal on metal resounded across the battlefield, accented by the grunts, screams and cries of those in the fray. Claws scraped at flesh, fangs buried into muscle. Blood began to stain the ground black.
Neither side had had a casualty yet, but it was inevitable. Pathogen ran through the field, darting between locked pairs of fighters with a surprising fluidity. She was going for Brandhart, and she would make sure he did not leave this field.
Pathogen leaped, her barren wings moving in a vain attempt to propel her faster as she sunk her claws into Brandhart's back. One back leg pinned the hissing tail from biting her - not that its venom would do much.
"It ends, Brandhart. You thought you could escape it, didn't you? But no. I'll infect you personally." Her voice rasped in his ear, and his head turned just fast enough to feel the click of teeth next to his neck, the putrid stink of her breath wafting over him.
"I think not, you dirty beast!" Brandhart roared and slammed his side to the ground, rolling to crush Pathogen under his weight.
Pathogen's gaunt frame fell and tumbled a bit, but she stood right back up, spit and blood dripping from her gaping maw. Her sides heaved, eyes wild as the blood poured rapidly from her tear-ducts. Shifting, her claws stretched a bit, gripping at the dirt as she launched again, an unearthly screech ripping from her throat as she landed on him again. A heavy paw came up, smashing into her as she sunk her teeth into Brandhart's shoulder, a roar of pain echoing across the field.
Once more, Brandhart rolled and cast Pathogen aside, his shoulder bleeding heavily. He shifted and crouched, springing on top of her. His jaws clapped closed right in front of her muzzle, his eyes narrowed in anger and sparkling with victory.
"You're right. This ends now."
"We're not going to make it in time!" Callie's eyes were wide with fear, something telling her that one second would be one second too late.
Ng turned, her own eyes filled with worry as she shook. They had done it, but for what? If they couldn't make it in time...
"Fear not," Both women snapped their heads up to look at where the voice came from. "For I shall help."
"Agorr!" Callie's voice hitched, too amazed to speak further.
"Oh, thank goodness! We might actually make it in time!" Ng clasped her hands together, staggering to her feet. "Please, Agorr, the cure...We have no time!"
Agorr swept one hand to the side, and in bursts as bright as the birth of a star, several nebula pets stood behind him. They stood quietly, the sparkling pieces of cosmos that were tied to them rippling in anticipation.
"They shall carry it for you, and spread it over the battlefield. All those alive will be healed, but the damage can not be reversed." He turned to them, eyes flickering a bit. "May they travel at the speed of light and more to the fray."
The battlefield was alive with pets and people alike, biting, stabbing, clawing their way through. The sounds of growls and yells rose up, almost deafening. It seemed that there would be no end to the bloodshed...
All of the sudden, the noise began to die down, silence ringing out as the warriors ceased their fighting and looked to the skies. Above them, hundreds of pets soared hovered, each seeming to carry a bottle of some sorts with them. Soon, it became clear that they were steadily flying downwards towards the battlefield. Within seconds, they had all swooped close enough to hear the soldiers, had any of them dared to speak.
Then, without warning, they all began to let from the bottles a fine mist, which coated the field in no time. It was miraculous - before everyone's eyes, boils and sores seemed to disappear, skin gaining color as fur quickly grew from bare flesh.
Finally, they were being cured! Swords and shields were dropped as the citizens of Cruithne rejoiced - at last, the suffering was over. Months of pain and sorrow, of death and destruction, and it had all ended. For the first time in a very, very long while, they were celebrating.
A day of celebration was held, in honor of the cure. The markets were stocked with delicacies of all kinds, from ripe, juicy fruit to freshly-baked sweets. All over the asteroid, there was music and dancing - no longer was there reason to fear one another, and the people rejoiced.
Though almost nobody noticed, there was one person absent from the festivities that day - Callie. She had instead chosen to survey the battlefield, looking over the barren, windswept land. As she walked, she found the ground to be bare; there had been but one casualty. In the middle of the field lay a crumpled body, withered and broken. It was Pathogen.
The battle had been simply too much for her. Of all the things which had come to a halt that day, Pathogen's life of treachery was the only thing left stopped for good.
As Callie shook her head, she turned away, breathing in the fresh air of a new day.
"One day," she whispered to herself. "One day they'll learn."