By Alpha the Beta

A teenage girl sat on the cold, hard floor of a cell resembling that of one you would find in a national prison. Her legs were bent into a sitting position. A bowl full of cold, hard grits sat next to her. She eyed it with repugnance, and pinched her forefinger and thumb over her nostrils. They were clearly revolting. Suddenly, a light streamed through the door several feet away, and in it a figure resembling that of the common adult man appeared. But, he was wearing a mask that vaguely resembled the face of a mythical dragon.

“Miz Prophet, ma’am, have you learned y’all a lesson here?” His voice slurred. He was not intoxicated with alcohol, he just had a rather thick accent.

The girl’s thin, blonde hair swayed with her face to meet the eyes of the odd man.

“Um…yes. Just, please, let me see my friends again.” She asked in a quiet, polite voice. She clearly did not want her friends to be punished for her own misgivings.

“Urm, yes, y’all friends ure okay. Jus’ don’ do anythin’ like tha’ again, mizzy.” His eyes whirled around the room. They seemed to have difficulty looking directly at the girl. He knew that the powers of a Prophet were not to be taken lightly.

“Um…thank you.” She muttered in a small voice.

The dragon-faced man extended his arm, and she took an unsteady hold of it. He pulled her up with ease. Their hands became separate again, and she walked timidly behind him to the room where she had eaten food the night before. Or, one could just replace the word “food” with “grits”, because it seemed as if that was all these dragon-y folk consumed.

The dragon-man’s pace quickened, and the girl’s red dress flowed behind her as she struggled to keep up. It seemed her friends were being held in a cell on the opposite side of the main cult building.

“…And uvv course, y’all know we’ll have to re-in-statuh yer clothin’s. Miz Cazula dun like vivud cullers.”

“Um, yes sir.” The girl didn’t know what else to say. She was awfully nervous.

They entered into a room that contained three cells. Like hers, the room was dank, cold, and musty. Hardly fitful for living.

“Tracy!” A girl’s voice yelled from one of the cells. “Tell this idiot to let me out of here! I’m serious, my dad’ll have you on trial!”

“I will ask yoo wunce, li’tl mizzy, to keep quiet. Miz Cazula won’ like it if yer shootin’ off words like a buncha fireworks. She dun like fireworks, eithurr. Too noisy, she says.”

“Why, you! I’ll have you incarcerated, you hear me!” Afterwhich, the girl shot off a volley of curses and insults that Tracy wouldn’t say to her worst enemy.

“Lydia, um…it’s probably better that you do be a little quieter,” Tracy spoke up.

“Ugh, fine, whatever you say! What am I, chopped liver…?” The girl called Lydia choked out.

“So, uh…could you let them out, please?” Tracy said, her voice small.

“Yeah, c’mon!” A young boy’s voice bounced off of the walls of the dank room. “I’m not gettin’ any younger here!”

“Kang, you’re really not helping the situation,” An older boy said sagely. “I mean, Tracy’s trying to get us out as quick as she can. And if we don’t get out of here, it’ll be your fault, not hers.”

“Ugh, fine!” Kang huffed, clearly defeated.

“Thank you, Picky…” Tracy said, a grateful look in her large, blue eyes.

“We-yull…” The man with the dragon mask spoke up again. “I guess I’ll let ‘em out. Just promise not to do that again.”

“Thank you!” Tracy whispered loudly, a sincerely gracious tone in her voice. A feeling of relief spread throughout her body and her muscles relaxed. She released a puff of air that seemed to have been stuck in her lungs ever since she was thrown into that jail cell.

The dragon-ish man quickly unlocked the cell doors, and opened them. Three people came pouring out. The one in the cell closest to the exit of the room was the teenage boy, adorned in a leather jacket, a gray undershirt, and worn-out blue jeans, with shaggy, blonde hair concealing most of his face. The person that had been in the cell to his right, the young boy, was fashioned with a yellow robe set tucked neatly inside a pair of puffy, black pants. His head was topped with a yellow cap, covering most of his black hair, the rest of which was faltering behind him in the way of a royal ponytail. He looked a bit like a child martial artist. The cell farthest right had contained a teenage girl with a large, ginger, heart-shaped hairstyle. She sported a light purple button-top and a deep purple dress bottom. She also wore large, oval shaped, red-rimmed glasses that vaguely concealed her eyes in the right lighting. The bottom half of her legs were covered with white, knee-high socks

Tracy spread her arms around the three with a sigh of relief. The other girl seemed somewhat apprehensive to this idea, claiming it was a “corny charade of happiness”. Nobody could care less about what she had to say at that moment, however.

But then, the dragon-faced man quickly led them to a small room that contained four comfortable-looking cots and scattered bedside tables, each of which were adorned with a uniquely colored flower. Tracy dragged the table that held a pink rose next to one of the similar looking cots and she sniffed it, her nose seemed to defy the laws of gravity as it almost comically rose into the air. Kang snorted at this strange display, and then coughed, as Picky had elbowed him in the stomach just then. They all assorted into their respective cots, and quickly fell into a deep sleep.

Where was she? Tracy observed her surroundings, but the most she could see was a strange spotlight centered on her person.

“Uh, hello?” She said as bravely as her meek voice could muster.

“Hello?” She said, with a bit more confidence.

“Greetings, child.”

Tracy subconsciously jumped with fright. She was not honestly expecting anyone to answer back. When she peered into the air, she observed a pair of deep, shining, red eyes, glowing through the dark haze surrounding her.

“U-uh, who are you?!” She demanded, frightened curiosity encompassing her being. It may not have been the right question to ask, however, as the strange being speaking to her growled. Though, a split-second later she noticed there was no animosity in the vocal utterance.

“I, my child, am what you humans know as the ‘Dark Dragon’. I am as large as an island, more powerful than the forces of Mother Nature, and wiser than the most intelligent philosophers of mankind’s feeble existence.”

“S-so, uh, what am I doing here? What do you want from me? Please don’t hurt me!” She pleaded feebly.

The Dark Dragon let out what could be interpreted as a hearty guffaw.

“I have merely appeared to you in this vision to tell you that this ‘cult’ dedicated to I that you have encountered is nothing more than a scheme devised by their leader to receive power. Cazula, the wicked girl who rules over these people, is nothing more than a harmless little girl without her henchmen…huh. They seem to have taken most of the world into their grasp. You must act quickly, and defy them at any cost. Make no mistake though, you cannot go on without your companions. They are very important to you. If you were a fraction, combining with the three of them would make you whole. Escape their headquarters tomorrow evening, but do not forget its location. I must leave you now.”

“W-w-wait! I have to ask you something!” Tracy called out.

The Dark Dragon’s gleaming red eyes focused on her.

“This question may sound weird, but, uh, I really want to know what’s going on. There isn’t something right about all of this…”

The Dragon merely snorted. “Girl, I have not time for your pathetic excuses for questions. Begone.”

And so, Tracy bolted upright, waking up in a cold sweat. It was the most surreal and vivid dream she had ever had. It almost seemed…real. But it was real. She supposed if the Dark Dragon had told her to escape, she might as well have. That was going to be her next course of action anyway.

Tracy was the last one to arrive to breakfast. She had woken up late, and spent a few minutes picking out the minute details of the new and drab clothes she had been given. It was a simple gray dress, no frills attached. It was the most boring piece of clothing she had ever worn. She said nothing about her dream when she sat down at the table, but talked quietly amongst her friends about how wanted to escape.

“I was sick of this place anyway,” Lydia remarked emptily.

“Hey, Tracy!” Kang spoke up. “That thing you did the other night was hilarious! I mean, you threw the grits at that prophet and – ack-ha-ha!” He seemed to choke on his words, and his grits.

Tracy threw the most vicious glare she could muster at Kang. It did not seem to faze him much, but he dropped his ridiculous grin.

“The most important part, though, is…how are we gonna do that?” Picky questioned with concern. “I mean, they’re all over the place! It’s not like this is just a couple of guys, there are thousands!”

“I, uh, I…” To be honest, Tracy had not thought out a decent plan. Really, all she came up with was “run away and beat up as few people as possible”. Obviously, this wasn’t a very well-thought out method.

“Oh, this is hopeless,” she said to herself, all the while burying her face in her arms. “I wish my big brother was here! He would sort it all out! I mean, when we defeated your older brother, Picky, it was only because he helped…”

“Er. Well, what about that Cerberus thing? The four of us did that on our own!” Picky stated.

“Well, yeah,” Lydia commented. “And that thing was a total freak. Good thing we beat the crap out of it.”

“Well,” Tracy spoke again. “Does anyone else have any ideas?”

Lydia, Kang, and Picky all shrugged.

“Well, uh, it’s decided then. I guess we’ll just storm out tomorrow evening, when the security isn’t so tight, and beat everyone up, then?”

Picky and Kang nodded in agreement. Lydia did not look satisfied by this course of action, however.

“We can’t just, like, charge in like neanderthals. We gotta have, uh, grace and finesse. Like this.”

The girl began to dance around. Well, at least it kind of looked like it. She was more or less just flaying her arms about like jell-o. Dragonist cult members, whom were also sitting about, glared at her, perturbed and not at all happy with what they were seeing. Dancing was frowned upon in this culture.

A dragonist couple promptly seized her under her armpits and hurled her out an open window onto the soft grass outside.

The three remaining friends stared in shock, at least, until Kang began to laugh.

“Ahahahaha! Did you see how she was dancing?! And the way they threw her out like that! I would pay good money to see that again!” He guffawed.

Picky snapped out of his trance and glanced at the floor absentmindedly, as if he had been doing that the entire time.

Tracy strode out the doors to help Lydia.

But none of them forgot. Tonight, seven PM. It was about time they got out of here.

Kang’s head protruded from the slightly open door, pupils shifting about to check his surroundings.

“Everything’s clear,” He stated in a raspy whisper.

“Alright,” came the small but clear voice of Tracy. Kang tiptoed out of the room, followed by Tracy, then Picky and Lydia.

Tracy glanced at the door located at the end of the hallway. The wholesome guards were quite asleep.

Kang was about to say something, perhaps tell a joke or make a humorous comment about the guards or something relating to the two men, but Tracy’s harsh shushing interrupted him. When the four came to the door, one of the guards was beginning to stir. Tracy managed a hoarse “PSI Hypnosis Alpha!” and the man fell to the ground, and began to snore. Very loudly, too. The other guard quickly was quickly awoke due to the noise. While he was still in a state of catatonic shock, Picky threw a swift punch, and the dragon-like guard was knocked out cold. The four friends rushed through the door and into a round room, hoping not to attract too much attention.

However, their hopes would quickly be dashed when a Dragonist cult member burst through the wooden ceiling! Tracy shrieked as he started after Picky, but Lydia quickly shot him, and he fell to the ground, limp and unconscious.

“Damn!” Kang swore loudly, but Lydia had elbowed him to stop him from going on a further tangent and attracting more guards.

They quickly scrambled to a door on the left side of the room. When the opened it, however, they came upon a wispy looking man in white. He, unlike the other Dragonists, was wearing a pure black Dragon mask. This may have signified a certain elite position.

“Face,” he began, his voice barely above a rasp. “The wrath of the Choir.”

The man slowly stepped into the center of the next room (which was oval shaped), and looked to both his immediate right and left. As if out of thin air, seven more of the Choir had appeared, all looking quite similar to the one wispy man they had originally faced.

The four quickly gathered their bearings and fled to the door at the opposite side of the room they had been in previous. It was an empty corridor, save for another oak-wood door on the side adjacent of them. They scrambled across the corridor as the door in the Oval Room had been projected from its hinges, somehow flying through the hole in the ceiling a Dragon cultist had made just moments ago. It bounced off of the unseen support beams above and crashed through the corridor ceiling, nearly crushing Picky who held the rear.

As they flew threw the door, Tracy had the strangest feeling that they were drawing nearer to the exit of this confounded place.

They had entered another oval shaped room. There was a door on the other side. But unfortunately, standing between them and the door was a member of the Choir.

He smiled, and merely chortled.

“Well, well, well, y’all complacent lit’tl children. Seems y’all’ve have gone as far as you could. Might as well give up now. The Choir is much too much for y’all to handle.”

“Well, uh…” Tracy couldn’t find the words to speak correctly. “What exactly is ‘the Choir’?”

“Oh, y’all wanna know what we do and such, iz that right, lit’tl Mizzy? Well, we began in the ‘umble year of 200X an’-“

His speech was interrupted by a flying kick, promptly delivered by Kang. However, as the Choir member was merely in a state of shock, the others ran around him and fled through the door. They recognized this as the food hall. However, there were many members of the Choir, along with regular Dragonists standing in a neat, formed line at the other side of the tables. On a table nearest the Dragonists, was a small, red-adorned girl. She, too, wore a Dragon mask. A look of triumph and glee filled her face, and she began to speak as her black locks swung behind her.

“Well, y’all somehow made it this far, didn’tcha? Well, you lot’re in a whole messa trouble. You know how much damage you’ve cost in money, y’all? About eightee dollars. You see, thas not a lot to most people, but to li’l ol’ me, it’s a fortune! Plus, y’all were in-soh-lent, and you broke the laws of this commun-eh-tey. Prophets are never ‘llowed to leave, o’ course. Choir, seize them criminals!”

The men moved in, and it seemed to spell the end for the four. Picky looked on at Tracy in despair and panic, but she seemed to be concentrating on something. And finally, it happened. She procured a psychic wave of some kind, knocking the Choir, the regular Dragonists, and the wicked girl Cazula off their feet.

“W-whut?! What was that?! Was that the power of the Prophets?! They really that strong?!” She yelled in disbelief as she struggled to get to her feet. When she finally regained her footing, she looked around to see that the four insolent children were gone. She looked out of the window, to see them running at top speed out of Starlight Valley, and onto elsewhere, to begin a new adventure and defeat the Dark Dragon cult.

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