Okay everybody, we're almost at the endgame.
Deep down in the caves of the New Mobotropolis a mysterious ritual was under preparations by the one and only Ixis Naugus, an anthropomorphic amalgamation of a rhino, a bat and a lobster, ex-member of the ancient and abandoned Order of Ixis and current king of the city now currently making sure that everything was in place before he started and thanks to his apprentice, Geoffrey St. John who retrieved certain items from a cave, he had all the elements he needed.
"Ah… everything is proceeding perfectly!" he said to himself with a rasp and hissy voice "In a matter of minutes the eldritch rites will be complete! The minds of the council of Acorn will be bound to my will! And the Order of Ixis will rise anew!"
"Sure. Splendid" Geoffrey said next to him very apathetic holding his master's staff.
Six out of the seven members of the Secret Freedom Fighters were already moving in to their big attack, the seventh one being Larry because his role right now was being the big defense leaving the rest to go and fight against only two individuals, six versus two seems outnumbering but these two had already faced our heroes and in both times they got the upper hand. But this was on itself a good thing because it meant that the team already knew what to expect.
Most of them, there are still some foes that you need more than one encounter to get used to.
"No one told me it was another cave!" Tangle complained the more they approached the giant hole in the city.
"It's an underground base, what did you expected?" asked Elias "What's wrong with it anyway?"
"Uh- it's nothing".
Silver and Shard looked at each other with a considerable amount of concern because the last time this happened it didn't turn out so well but neither of them knew what to do about it, they didn't even knew how to resolve it back in their 'own cave' let alone here. But anyway they had arrived at the entrance of the long rocky corridor so there was no need to resolve it because it was about to resolve itself.
"Alright guys," began Elias "Ace, the second we reach Naugus you're taking on him, Jack assist him as much as you can, Queens distract St. John, our focus is still Naugus, I'll make sure to take care of the place itself and Spades y-"
"I can surely be a lookout right?"
The group looked at her puzzled.
"I mean- we don't want to be seen and all that jizz, heh-heh, so maybe…"
"I want you to confuse them," Elias finished his sentence "you can use your tail to our advantage and put them off the ground, they haven't seen it… and neither have we but-".
"B-But I ca- I don't-".
"I don't like heights myself" Leeta stated with a smile "Look where I had to jump from, several times may I add, I'm sure you can get through this cave and… I understood that you guys were in a cave?" she asked looking at Shard who looked at Silver who looked away trying to hide that event.
"We're racing against time here! Larry is helping us gain some of it up there but we can't rely solely on him. Now let's get going" said Elias and storming off into the cave making clear for his team to follow him.
"It's not like it was going to come up again" Shard whispered at Silver mockingly clearing his throat and following Elias into the tunnel followed by everyone else with the hedgehog being the last one in line giving one last 'c'mon' look at the lemur before heading off with the rest. So now she was out there looking into the distance wondering what her next move should although it was quite obvious.
Meanwhile, in the dark sky of the night and directly above the ritual place, there was the military Royal HQ where the six members of the Council of Acorn were going to be gathered to ratify the new constitution; however, there was one slight yet crucial detail that stopped them from simply entering the building.
"No luck Charles?"
"I'm afraid not Rosemary, the lock's busted," 'Chuck' explained "Of course if Nicole were here, we wouldn't have this problem".
"Don't get your mustache in a knot Chuck" Hamlinsaid a bit annoyed at this topic once again "The vote to exile was unanimous".
"Even if some of us didn't like it" Rosemary reaffirmed.
"What's wrong councilor Dylan" asked Vanilla the Rabbit who was nearby.
"Heh, heh, well… it seems we are locked out of the building," the porcupineexplained "We can't really ratify the new constitution if we can't get inside y'know?"
This little event was incredibly lucky for our heroes, a jammed door minutes away from Naugus' spell to take place… it would be convenient if a certain young lynx wasn't around making sure these conveniences were no luck.
'Which keeps you out of harm's way. C'mon Larry, keep working your bad luck on their favor- or mine favor- or… gah!' hethought while hiding behind a bush near them but far enough from the crowd of people 'The rest of the team better kick Naugus' butt though, there's no telling when my luck will change!'
"You're certain you found nothing of the fools who tried to spy on me?!" Naugus asked to his apprentice.
"Yes sir, certain!" Geoffrey replied while hiding a little smirk
"Keep a weather eye on the door then. This incantation is too complex and taxing to repeat, I cannot be interrupted at this delicate-"
And, boom, straight from the door an interruption came in the form of an ESP attack sending him directly into the wall.
"You were saying?" Silver mockingly asked with the cavalry arriving next to his side.
Naugus quickly incorporated hissing while getting ready.
"You'll pay for your interference!" he shouted facing directly at Silver and Shard both of them with smirks on their faces.
"Big talk!" said Shard "For a guy who's retreating!"
"Apprentice! My wand, now!" Naugus commanded Geoffrey who was currently using it to defend himself against Leeta and Lyco.
"Little busy at the moment!" the skunk replied holding up the fight.
And finally Elias was running around the room setting up some explosives around the place that the Director handed him -from somewhere- trying not to get interrupted by one of the two fights.
"I have no need for it! My elemental sorcery is unsurpassed!" shouted Naugus creating with one move of his hand a straight line of [pointy]? rocks from the ground that Shard easily blasted through.
"Man, are you in for a rude awakening!" Silver commented while grabbing one of the pillars and throwing it right at the wizard who managed to break it apart and out of his path only to be met by a curled up Shard heading straight at his face knocking him down.
"Good distraction Ace!" the robot said.
Naugus incorporated quickly not letting his guard down giving a payback to Shard trying to cast a little spell "I'll rip the very air from your lungs!"
However, as expected, nothing happened despite the spell having worked perfectly.
"That'd work..!" Shard laughed blasting the old wizard again "If I had lungs!"
"Fie! Another cursed robot! Apprentice, my wand! I'll crystalize the wretch!"
This time Geoffrey was still handling the wolves but he was free enough to throw the staff back to his master, however, something else catched it in mid-air.
Back with the little problem above on the Royal HQ, Rotor had found a way to open the locks and allow the council to finally enter after many attempts, there were some compliments and comments here and there but now it was time to ratify the new constitution and all the members were ready for it… except that no one in the meeting seemed to have the documents, it was apparently lost.
On top of the building Larry was once again celebrating this very clear victory of his.
"Yes! Now everybody go home and go look for it!" the lynx cheered.
Naugus' staff never reached its destination because it was a gray tail who intercepted the thing. Tangle had arrived on scene… and just in time.
"I believe this is important!" she said with her usual energy standing at the entrance of the room doing some tricks with it.
"Way to go Spades!" Leeta said while Geoffrey was now engaging in a mano-a-mano fight with Elias once he was aware of the distraction, a fight where both of them were on the same level in which the skunk saw the opportunity to remove his facemask. Objective he achieved.
"Agent King, huh? Going for 'so obvious it's overlooked'?" Geoffrey taunted "There was a time I had you wrapped around my finger. Poor naïve little prince".
"I've come a long way since then" Elias replied.
"Yeah you have," he said handing back the mask "Alright mysterious agents- time for round two? No more surprises".
Meanwhile, Tangle was checking the whole room along with the two fights with Naugus and St. John separately and in the middle of wondering what she should do, she spotted that in the center of the room there was this sort of altar.
"Now that seems important!" she thought and without much effort she pointed the staff to the most 'important-looking' thing there which "is always at the middle" and with a single shot the stand that was the main point of ritual was destroyed causing her to tumble a bit due to the backfire.
"NO!" shouted Naugus "I can still finish it! I can still take control!"
Two kicks to the face were enough to put him out of the fight for good.
"-You can't" Leeta and Lyco said in unison.
"Nice work agents!" Elias congratulated.
"Took you a while to do that" said Geoffrey who got instantly launched into a wall with a cyan aura.
"You don't get to judge us," said Silver "Let's wrap this up King!"
"Jack, get the Queens! We're pulling out!"
With the last command the team immediately left the room with Tangle simply leaving the staff behind as it was of no more use and Silver carrying Elias who -once they reached a safe zone- detonated the explosives he had set up earlier bringing the whole place down and slowly burying Naugus whose looks seemed to be deteriorating
"Apprentice! Help me!"
Geoffrey incorporated from the explosions looking at his pleading master and actually hesitating his decision, but not for long, the option was simple and he left the scene leaving an angered Naugus even more outraged trying to make one last action against the agents –and Geoffrey- before being fully buried by the rubble.
"No… No escape!" as the cave was created by Naugus it was him who controlled the cave itself, managing to stop the skunk with some crystals inside and blocking the only way out for our heroes.
"Ohhh… no, no-nope, nuh-uh!" Shard complained "No more being buried alive! Ace, grab the others, I'm making us an exit and it's gonna get loud!"
"Right behind you!" Silver prepared himself while the robot 'spin-dashed' into the wall of crystals completely shattering it an instant without being too fancy –or even loud-.
"Freedom! Fresh air! Makes me wish I had to breathe so I could enjoy it!"
"Save the celebration for later, let's get back to the base unnoticed first" said Elias with the team flying away with its first victory with Leeta still avoiding looking down and Tangle just being happy that Shard was fast enough to make a way out, being back in the open never felt so well.
However, Geoffrey was having a different time being trapped in some crystals that really held him and now his master had caught up to him.
"Traitor..! Left me… Punish-"
"Ngh! No, sir! I went to chase down the enemy agents!"
"Council…" Naugus' focus shifted "No control… Will have felt tremors, must attack first!"
"Or-ngh- you play for sympathy! Say you were investigating instability of the ground and were caught in a cave-in. You saved the city from collapse! Hrk- get it?"
"Yes…" he replied now calming down and releasing Geoffrey from the crystals' grasp "Yes, that will do. Good thinking apprentice".
"Of course," the skunk replied with a really down-ish tone "I live to serve".
"And so, the night passes, the doom is adverted and the citizens none the wiser. But one success does not mean the mission is over, we must still keep to the shadows. We cannot share our victory with our friends, we cannot comfort our loved ones, and we cannot exist in more than rumors and second-glances. This is our sacrifice, to protect everything we hold dear we must give up what we want most…These are the hard lessons to learn but you and your team performed admirably" Harvey lectured Silver back at the Secret HQ.
"Thank you sir!" the hedgehog replied.
The Director had called Silver for a private meeting to inform him about something that everyone assumed it was about the 'traitor' –and they would be right- so that left Tangle wandering around the base waiting for Harvey to call on her once he finished with Silver which after a while she was called in. And everyone assumed it would have to do with dimensions… and they would be right.
"Ms. Tangle…" began Harvey with Silver in the background looking at a piece of paper "I'm afraid that unlike Silver I do not have such good news about your dimension situation".
Tangle mentally gulped "Wasn't the lynx girl doing… stuff?" she asked.
"And she still is, I assume you'll get news soon enough but for now I'm sorry to tell you that we don't have what you want".
Tangle sighed, she was really hoping to get at least some sort of explanation but after all of this it was still a bunch of unanswered questions, being part of the Secret Freedom Fighters was a blast and tons of fun especially for her and it's not that she hadn't enjoyed it –in fact, it worked as a distraction- but she was starting to miss her home and friends. Harvey said something about receiving news soon but how soon was that?
A few days later, the base was completely empty except for Harvey himself, Tangle and Larry, the rest of them were either doing normal and casual citizen things or being in a 'side-quest' because there hadn't been any physical sightings of Naugus, it was mostly Geoffrey just acting weird and talking on his behalf. So now there were two things that the two remaining members were not doing… yet. Harvey had received the information of curious –and known- guests in the Wolf Pack Nation in Soumerca so it was only natural to get the last two agents moving.
"Shouldn't Shard help us to get there?" asked Larry "Isn't it overseas?"
"Shard is… unavailable at the moment," Harvey replied trying to hide some sort of sadness which Tangle noticed "You'll be on your own this time".
"Don't sweat it Joker! I think we'll handle it just fine" Tangle reassured the little lynx getting ready for the journey.
Hey, hey! This story has ended but the adventure has not! It's time to return to the big story A Dimensional Rescue! Thanks for checking by this little side quest and don't worry, I'm still consistently working on the main fic so I'll check on you there once I update!
Hope you had fun reading this because I had fun writing this and… See you soon!