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by Twiga
Rated: 18+ · Campfire Creative · Novella · Animal · #2122647
RP Campfire A Rag Tag Bunch of Anthro Heroes tracking a missing person to a strange place.
[Introduction] 'I. O. U. 11 Quid' Was the last thing Ms. Emily Bronte (No not the Author. This Emily Bronte is a Brontosaurus Humanimal ) wrote at Seedy's Diner before she mysteriously vanished, the 18 year old Art Student completely vanished without a trace! And when these sorts of things happen you need a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits!

So let's see what we create shall we?
Here we make our profiles for our characters as per usual.

Name: Marrow Swamp
Age: 16
Sex: Male
Species Lambeosaurus (Kind of Duck-Billed Dinosaur http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/l/lambeosaurus.html)
Personality: Oddly quiet for a Duck-Bill (seems to have grown cynical after being defeated in the Strongest Dino in the Galaxy Contest)
Occupation: Former Athlete Currently Detective
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Music: Classic Rock
Favorite Food: Natto

(Please note your character doesn't have to be a Dinosaur, any Animal can be your character)

Name: Rawhide Threetoes
Age: 37
Sex: Male
Species: Ankylosaurus
Personality: Placid, fearless
Occupation: Detective
Favorite Color: Silver
Favorite Music: Swing jazz
Favorite Food: Tofu
Rawhide had taken the younger Marrow as an Apprentice when they got the case, it was Ms. Bronte's Teacher Ms. Farley who was a Swamp Dragon.

"Emily Bronte has vanished!" Said Ms. Farley
"Really?" said Rawhide. "How do you know? Perhaps she is just somewhere else."

Ms. Farley wrung her hands. "No, Emily would never skip class! She's a straight A student. Something terrible has happened to her."

"Let's not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. Now when was the last time you saw her?"
"She was last seen at Seedy's Diner." Said Ms. Farley "Seedy said she could have her meal for free if she gave him the Quid when she got it."
Rawhide turned to Marrow. "Let's go talk to Seedy."

Seedy's diner was cleaner than the name implied, with bright lighting, clean counters, and a smiling waitress.
Seedy himself was also a Swamp Dragon. He handed them the I.O.U Note
Name: Mackenzie "Mack" Gray
Age: 30
Sex: Male
Species: Gray Wolf
Personality: Usually calm, but can be very aggressive.
Occupation: Spectral Investigator/Con-Artist
Favorite Color: Green, or whatever the color of money is.
Favorite Music: Western-Country
Favorite Food: Tacos

Bio: Blessed, or Cursed, with the ability to see, and hear, the spirits of the departed, Mack decided to use his gift of communicating with the dead as a means of making money, charging folks for his services, as he dealt with the ghosts - in fact, he has been known to get some ghosts, who being bored and looking for something to do while dead, to haunt previously unhaunted homes owned by the very wealthy, as a means of conning the rich out of their money, believing them to be fair game. That being said, if the haunted home is owned by the average person, and the ghost was just the average person, he doesn't charge as much, and is usually able to get both the home owner, and the spirit, to reach a mutual agreement - after all, you don't need to hire a babysitter when a ghost is there to look after the kids. Of course, should the ghost not be of the friendly sort, the ghost soon finds out that Mack can physically remove them, but this tends to result in damage to the home, as it is not easy to toss ghosts out of their Haunts. That being said, there is one group he always has issues with - cats, who, for whatever reason, try to ignore him, but they tend to get surprised when he grabs them by the scruff of the neck - sometimes they'll unwillingly walk out afterwards, and other times Mack gets scratched.

Mack was down at the end of the counter at the restaurant, watching, and listening.

"Sounds like they're worried about that girl from the other day," said the person on the working side.

Mack looked at him. "Mind getting me a Coke, Charlie?" he said, quietly.

"Seedy doesn't stock Coke," Charlie said. "Will a Pepsi do?"

Mack nodded.

Charlie opened the fridge door, and got out a Pepsi, and placed it on the counter. "There you are Mack."

Mack opened up the bottle, and took a sip.

"Did you hop the counter again?" Speedy asked.

Mack looked down at him. "Nooooo, I used my psychic powers to open the door, lift the bottle from the fridge, and bring it to me."

"Smartass," Speedy grumbled. "Two dollars either way."

Mack got out his wallet, and put down some bills.

"Used to be more fun when he had a soda fountain," said Charlie. "I'd pull the handles, and he'd try to figure out what was wrong with the system."

"You could still unplug the fridge, and shake the bottles, just before they got served," Mack muttered.

Charlie grinned. "Yeah, but it still wouldn't be as much fun."

"He's just too stupid to realize that you're here, and messing with him," said Mack.

"Being dead has its benefits," said Charlie. "Listen, if you're interested in locating that girl, I could help you out."

"Thanks, but, I have plenty of contacts."

"You take care Mack," said Charlie.

"Actually, I wouldn't mind another pop, but, wait until I get ten feet away before you bring it to me."

Charlie grinned, as the wolf walked away from the counter. Then, he opened the fridge, got another bottle, and walking through the counter, brought the pop to the wolf, who accepted it.

Mack turned, and looked at Speedy, and the two people he'd been talking to, who had their mouths open in astonishment. "Two dollars, right?" He took the money out of his wallet, and placed it on a table. He then walked out and Charlie burst out in laughter, before he walked back to his usual Haunt behind the counter.

"Freak," Speedy muttered. "He must have rigged it up or something."

That was when the fridge quit on him, and the faucet turned on.

"Same with that as well?" Rawhide asked.
Name: Sergeant Rex Tracer
Age: 32
Sex: Male
Species: T. Rex
Personality: Tough but fair, can be aggressive if angry.
Occupation: Police Sergeant

Bio: Rex Tracer started off as a beat cop but he eventually was to promoted to Sergeant after he helped with a big drug bust when his partner was killed on duty. Now he's investigating the disappearance of Emily Bronte.

Sgt. Rex came into the Diner, the waitress says "Sergeant Rex Tracer, what can I serve you big guy?"

Rex smiles and says "Decaf coffee, black, no sugar."
"Hello, Rex," Rawhide said. "Heard about the missing girl?"

"Yeah. What was her name again?"

"Emily Bronte," Marrow said. "An art student. Her teacher, Ms. Farley, reported her missing. She was last seen here at Seedy's."

"What does Seedy have to say about it?"

"I don't know," Rawhide said. "He's been so busy we haven't had a chance to talk to him yet."

"Don't be so timid," Rex said. "Pull out your badges and say you want to ask him some questions."

Rawhide looked at Marrow then back at Rex, "We know how to do our jobs, Rex."
Seedy said "Emily came here last night...She had taken an impromptu trip to the mall and had come back, all she had done at the mall was window shop as she currently had no Quid, so she initially just asked for a glass of water...I said to her, I'll give a meal and you can give me the Quid later...So she ordered a bowl of Fern Stew and a Soda and she wrote me this I.O.U. think you can track it?"

Marrow looked at Rawhide "Both of us barely have any scent tracking ability."
"No, but we know that wolves do," said Rawhide. He looked over at Seedy, who was busy trying to plug the fridge. "Hey, do you know who that wolf was?"

"What about him?" Seedy asked. "You plan on arresting him?"

"He might be able to help us locate that girl," said Rawhide. "He's a psychic, right?"

"He's always hopping the counter and taking what he wants, when I'm busy," said Seedy. "He pays afterwards, but it's like he can't wait. Now I see how he gets his stuff."

Charlie laughed at this - he knew how the wolf got his stuff - he gave it to him. Of course, it wasn't like Speedy had the ability to see or listen to him.

"What's the wolf's name?" Rawhide asked.

"Mack Gray, or something like that," said Seedy.

Rex chuckled at this. "Heard of him. He was in court last week - allegedly he conned this wealthy businessman out of a hundred thousand dollars, to remove a ghost from the guy's house. He won the case though, and then, to top it all off, he donated the money to a church that this businessman was trying to buy to turn into a condo - seems that Mack was Heaven-sent for them."

"So, where do you think he is?" Rawhide asked.

"Probably charming some rich woman out of her money."

In truth, Mack was at a home owned by a single mother, who was holding onto her two-year old.

"Are you sure my home is haunted?" the woman asked.

"Yes, by three spirits," Mack said. "One stays mainly in the kitchen, where she loved to to a lot of cooking. The second mainly stays in the living room, where he liked watching TV. These two are very friendly, and even protective. However, the third one, he is not so friendly. He's down in the basement, but, whenever you go down there, one of the other two goes with you, and keeps you safe from harm. Do you know anything about the previous owners?"

"Not really," said the woman. "I only got the house three months back, and I got it for a very good price."

"I figured as much," said Mack. He looked over at the spirits of the previous owners. One seemed to look like the grandmother-type, who was always baking cookies. The other seemed to be the grandfather-type, who liked to enjoy a pipe every now and then. But both kept looking at the basement door, and there was a look of fear as they did so. He looked back at the woman. "Do not speak, unless I'm looking at you."

"Why?" the woman asked.

"I'm going to talk to the previous owners." Mack looked at the spirits. "What happened?"

"It was just a regular day really," the grandmotherly spirit said. "I was baking, like normal, when this madman broke in." She placed a hand on her chest. "The brute stabbed me for no reason."

"I tried to help her, but he was too strong for me," the grandfatherly spirit said. "I grabbed my shotgun, which I'd been cleaning just prior, loaded one shell, and I blasted him. He crashed through the basement door. Then, my heart, it just gave out."

"I see," said Mack. He gestured to the mother. "What about her?"

"Well, she's a nice enough sort, with a nice kid, we don't mind her staying here," said the grandmotherly spirit.

"But the other one, you don't want to know what he wants to do to her," said the grandfatherly spirit. "It's all we can do to keep him trapped down there, and keep them safe from him."

Mack looked at the mother. "Find a place top stay at for a few days; hostile spirits always destroy things when they get forced out, and are forced to go to where they belong."
Arrangements were made and the single mother and her 2-year-old son went to live in a motel for a week.

Mack sat down in the now empty house and meditated. He could feel the hostility of the spirit locked in the basement. It was a tribute to the strength of the ghosts of the two old people, the grandfather and grandmother, that they could keep such a hostile ghost restrained.

Mack sighed. This would probably not be easy. He planned his next moves. He would have to make sure he could control the hostile ghost. It wasn't guaranteed that he could. If he couldn't then the project became infinitely harder to accomplish.
Marrow was with Rawhide, they weren't sure if they wanted to recruit the Wolf or not
Mack got out of the chair he'd been sitting in. It had been a comfortable chair. "I'm guessing most everything has been left the way it was when you were alive," he said.

"Well, a few things have been altered, like that television, which we've owned for over thirty years," the grandfatherly spirit said. "She had one of those flat-screened things, and well, maybe it was better, but I didn't feel comfortable with it. Then she brought ours back, with some minor alterations, but I felt comfortable with it."

Mack chuckled as he walked up to the television. While it looked like one of the old big box ones, the screen revealed the truth. "She used your old one as a shell, to make hers fit the place, as if it belonged. Very smart. I'd wager that most of the kitchen equipment also looks the why things would have, when you were living here."

"That she has," said the grandmotherly spirit.

"Very good intuitive properties, if nothing else," said Mack.

"Well, she's old enough to have been our daughter," the grandfatherly spirit said. He looked over at his wife. "Part of me regrets that we never got around to having any of our own, before we became too old."

The grandmotherly spirit kissed her husband. "We have a chance now, with this mother and her child; we'll do right by them, as much as we can."

"I'm glad for you there," said Mack. "Now, I'm going to deal with your unwanted guest."

"Are you sure you can take him?" the grandfatherly spirit asked. "He's very strong; it's all we can do to keep him trapped in the cellar at times."

"Just keep the door shut, until I send him where he belongs," said Mack. "That's my only advantage." He opened the cellar door, got onto the steps, and shut the door, and turned on the light. However, before he could move any further, he was flung from the stairs, to the floor.

"You Asshole!" the voice said. "They've kept me trapped for months! Now, I'm going to kill you!"

Mack looked around, as he stood up. At the foot of the stairs was a faint red glow. "I see you haven't crossed over."

"Why should I?" came the spirit's voice, from behind him. "I'm going to have fun with you, those two upstairs, as that woman, and her kid!"

Mack turned, and found himself looking at the spirit.

When one was alive, their body was just a shell, hiding what was truly real - a person's spirit revealed the true nature of the person, and this spirit was one malevolent person. Their hands were wicked sharp claws, their teeth, vicious fangs, and their eyes were just evil.

Mack glanced upwards, and saw that the door was closed. As long as the door was closed, this spirit was unable to leave the basement through that entrance, for he knew not was on the other side. The other two could travel through a closed door, for they knew their own home better than anyone; that was how spirits worked - if they knew the area, they could travel through walls and the like, but if they lacked the knowledge, then even a broom closet could keep them trapped, so long as the door was shut.

He moved, just as the spirit lunged for him.

"You're quick," the spirit said.

Mack got over to the stairs, just as the spirit pounced on him, knocking him down to the floor, covering the red glow.

"Keep moving," the spirit said. "I plan to enjoy watching you die!"

Mack grinned. "See you in Hell!"

A bright red light surrounded them, along with flames.

"What? No!" the spirit called. "Not now!"

Mack shut his eyes, as he heard the roar. The spirit screamed. Then, silence. Mack opened his eyes, and found himself in the cellar once more. Standing with difficulty, he grabbed the railing, painfully walked up the stairs, opened the door, and smiled as he looked at the two elderly spirits.

"It's over?" the grandmotherly one asked.

Mack nodded. "He's where he belongs."

"What about us?" the grandfatherly spirit asked.

"When you wish to depart, go to the exact place you died, and your portal will open for you," said Mack. "And, if the light is any indication, it will be someplace nice."

The two looked.

"How long will the glow last?"

"Until you cross over," said Mack.

"Are you alright? You don't look so good."

"I'll be fine, in a day or two," said Mack. "I'll let the woman know that the evil spirit is gone from her home, but you two are still here, and I'll give her some tips on how to live with you."

"Thank you, so much."

"Just doing the right thing, for once," said Mack.
Meanwhile Rex looked up the records of the past owners of the house, "Hmm, Harriet and George Velt, I remember Dad told me that they had a very violent grandson nicknamed 'The Ripper'. Sad case, he even killed his sister and parents."
The next day Mack was in Seedy's again, still feeling stiff and sore. He sat with his hands around a mug of hot coffee, slowly drinking it and letting the warmth fill him.

Rawhide and Marrow walked in with the intention of asking Seedy some more questions.

"Look," Marrow said. "It's that wolf again."

"Yeah," Rawhide said, "this is our chance to ask him for help."

Rawhide sat down at the counter next to the wolf. "Excuse me, sir, but we're detectives investigating the case of a missing girl. We've got something with her scent on it, but neither of us has any ability to track scent. We were told to find a wolf. Their reputation for scent tracking is excellent."

When the wolf didn't say anything, Marrow said, "Please? She might still be alive."
"What do you have?" Mack asked.

Rawhide got out the letter, and passed it to the wolf.

Mack looked at it, picked it up, and sniffed it. "Has everyone and their brother been reading this I.O.U.? There's five scents on this thing; luckily, only one of them is female."

"Well, can you track the scent?" Marrow asked.

"She wears expensive perfume," said Mack. "Anyone with half a nose could track her."

"But, can you locate her?" Rawhide asked.

"Do you have a picture?" Mack asked. "I have plenty of sources; one of them might have seen her."
Rawhide holds up a picture of a Brontosaurus humanimal girl with raven black hair and wearing a green dress with a daisy print on it "Will this due?"
"Yes," Rawhide said. "OK, you can put it away. I've memorized it. I'll be in here tomorrow and tell you what I've found."

"We're kind of in a hurry," Rawhide said. "She might be in trouble and need help."

The wolf stared at him. "Yeah, I get it. OK. As soon as I know anything I will call you."

"Thanks," Rawhide said.

Later, Rawhide and Marrow met up with Rex and he told them about the Velt house and Mack's encounter with the ghost of the evil son. "He got pretty banged up. Probably not feeling too great right now."
The next day Mack called both Rex and Rawhide.

"Guys..." Mack said sounding concerned "...I tracked her scent to...The Spaceport."

"You mean..." Rawhide said

"She's been taken off-planet." Said Mack "We're gonna have to ask the Spaceport to hand over all footage and records."

(The Planet our heroes inhabit isn't Earth, the Planet is the Earthling Colonized Poseidos)
Mack was at his home, dividing some daffodil bulbs. He paused for a moment, sighed, and said, "I'll be going off-world for a while." He felt a hand on his face. He looked up, and looked at his wife.

"How long will it be?" she asked.

Mack frowned. "A few weeks, I hope. I've been asked to locate a missing girl."

His wife nodded. "I've heard about it."

He finished burying the bulbs, stood up, walked to the door, opened it, and stepped inside, watching as his wife carefully avoided a dim glowing light.

"Do you ever think about crossing over?" he asked.

His wife smiled. "Yes, but not without you."

"I wish I could have done something to prevent that robber from breaking in," said Mack. "There must have been something I could have done."

He felt his wife's hands on his shoulders. "It's not your fault, and you made sure he'd never harm another person."

Mack looked at his hands. "Yeah, I choked him to death, and then I sent his soul to Hell, or whatever. Thought it was my time for a moment-"

"But it wasn't," his wife said.

"And after that, I started to see the dead."

"Yeah, that you did," his wife said.

"Mary, tell me; what would you do if I died someplace else?" Mack asked.

Mary gave him a careful kiss. "I would know, and you would know, and we'd cross over, and meet up on the other side."

"But, what if I'm not destined for Heaven?" Mack asked. "What if I'm supposed to go to Hell?"

Mary smiled. "Then I'd go to Hell with you." She placed her hand on his. "I'll go wherever you go."

Mack smiled. "Then let's hope it isn't Hell, for I'd feel sorry for those there, to have to put up with you."

Mary chuckled. "You just come home safe."

"I will," said Mack. "I'll see that someone opens the open for a few hours of the day, so that you can see what the outside looks like."
Rex, Rawhide and Marrow went to the spaceport and spoke to the commander, a stegosaur named Colonel Spike, "Excuse me Commander, didn't mean to intrude but we are looking for a Brontosaurus Humanimal named Emily, The Colonel responded, "Yeah, I've seen someone like her, strange thing is, she was escorted by three humans, one of them was wearing a strange mask. They boarded a custom-made space ship."
"Custom-made?" Rawhide asked, "Yeah," the colonel says, "Looks like one of those earth pirate ships from the 18th. century." "Sounds like trouble." says a voice from behind. They turned around an saw a raccoon dressed in a space ranger uniform. The raccoon says "By description, Emily was kidnapped by Space Pirates, The Black Brigade and their leader is Captain Talon."
"How do you know so much about them?" Rawhide asked.

The raccoon put out his paw. "I'm Captain John Marley of the Federated Space Rangers. It's our job, sir, to know about them."

Rawhide shook hands with Marley. "And we are all glad the rangers are on the job. You say the Federated Space Rangers? I don't think I'm familiar with that branch of the Space Rangers."

Marley ignored the question. "Talon and the Black Brigade have been terrorizing this quadrant of the galaxy. They steal young girls and turn them into prostitutes."

Marrow gasped. "Oh, poor Emily! We have got to find her quickly. What happened to that wolf with the powerful nose?"

"He's coming," Rex said. "Should be here any moment. Ranger Marley, can we follow the pirates?"

"I don't see why not," Marley said. "Any fast ship with good scanners could do it. In fact, that's what my ship is doing. As soon as we're finished restocking and refueling, we're leaving in pursuit of Captain Talon and the Black Brigade."

"Can we go with you?" Marrow asked.

Marley laughed. "I'm afraid not. Not only do regulations prevent it, but there simply isn't any room for you. However, if you can get a ship of your own, we'll feed you all the information we have and you can follow my ship."

"That's a good idea," Rawhide said. "Colonel Spike, how quickly can you find a fast ship we can rent?"

Spike nodded. "I think I already know of one."
"What's this about following Space Rangers?"

Rawhide turned, and saw Mack standing a few feet from them. "Well, it seems that Emily was abducted by Space Pirates from the Black Brigade, under the command of Captain Talon."

"Phft, I knew that," said Mack. "My contacts told me that piece of information."

"And you didn't tell us why?" Marrow asked.

"Because then someone would bring out the big guns, meaning I'd get shot at, and I don't like getting shot at," said Mack.

"And just what would you do to them?" Rex asked.

"Pirates have always been superstitious, and are still superstitious," said Mack. "You might say I have protection."

"What kind of protection?" Marley asked.

Mack grinned. "Johnny says that your tattoo is still stupid, even if it is hidden by your fur."

Marley's eyes widened. "What tattoo?"

Mack turned, and patted his left butt cheek. "Kristina Melisa Anderson - only you got the initials K. M. A. instead of her name - and your commanding officer at the time thought that you were telling him 'Kiss My Ass', and thus wrote you up for it."

Marley chuckled nervously. "How do you know that?"

"You told your previous partner, Johnny Rico, about it, and he told me," said Mack.

"But, he died-"

"Six months ago, and is why you've been chasing the Black Brigade and Captain Talon," said Mack. "He also says that it wasn't your fault."
Rex turned to John, "Do you know what this Captain Talon looks like?" John says "Better yet, I'll show you, I have an archive footage of him back when he stole a powerful weapon and held a crew of Colonists hostage." He takes out a portable video player. "This is back then when a star ranger was recruited, it starts off as a call for help." He presses play.

As the video ends, John puts his video player away..
Mack says "That's Talon all right, can't forget that ugly face."
Rawhide says "He sounds like a cyborg."
** Image ID #2123268 Unavailable **

"And looks like one," Rex said, "with that laser eye."

Colonel Spike found a ship for them, The Dancing Dragon, once used by Chinese smugglers, later by a gang of renegade chipmunks. She was old but she was still fast and had been upgraded to the latest comm gear.

Rawhide whistled when Spike quoted the rent to him. "So much? That's a lot of cash."

Spike said, "If we take more time I can find you a better deal."

"No, we'll take it. We want to get on the move right now. The space ranger has already blasted off."
Marrow was prepared for we brought forth a bag of jewels for a down part of it.

"Where did you get those jewels?!" Exclaimed Rawhide

"I inherited from my Grandma." Said Marrow "These are jewels for 'emergency situations'
Mack scoffed at the jewels. "Let me guess, ransom in case we got captured?"

"That's the idea," said Marrow. "After all, pirates like precious gems."

"They also have knives to cut your clothes off, and unless you can use some sort of trick to magic those jewels out of thin air, they'll kill you, and still get them," said Mack.

"And your supposed protection?" Rawhide asked. "Just how good is it?"

"Ever hear of Don Giovanni?" Mack asked.

"Who hasn't?" Rawhide asked. "He's suspected in over twenty murders, but no one has any definable proof of it."

Mack grinned. "He made the mistake of trying to acquire Protection Money from this Asian-style restaurant I was at. He came in with five guards, and one of them shoved me out of the way. Made me spill this dish I really like. But, the thing is, my ability is this; I see, and talk to ghosts, and one in particular was following him, and they realized what I was, and they told me all about them and Giovanni, and what Giovanni did to them."

"So, you blackmailed Giovanni with the information?" Rawhide asked.

Mack chuckled. "Only an idiot does that, and expects to live; I dug up the evidence, placed it in a secure place, left letters with a number of people, which were not to be opened until I died, or mysteriously disappeared, said letters telling these people where the evidence was, as well as instructions to get said evidence to a reliable police officer, and said evidence is enough to put Don Giovanni to Death."

"Why not just give it to the police?" Rawhide asked.

"They'd ask too many questions, none of which were the right ones," said Mack. "Anyways, after hiding the evidence, and placing the letters in their places, I went to Giovanni, and told him word-for-word what happened between him and this person. The look on his face more than made up for the fact that his goon ruined my meal,and he asked my how I knew, for no one else was there when the incident occurred. I told him that the person themself told me, and told him a few other things, like the fact that I took precautions, and that the information would go to the police if I disappeared, to say nothing about certain other pieces of information. Needless to say, he was very reasonable afterwards, paid for my meal, and put the word out that no one was to mess with me."

"And just what is this information that has him protecting you?" Rawhide asked.

"Seems that, back what he was and Enforcer for 'Fat Tony', Giovanni had a relationship with this prostitute. One day, there was an altercation, and he accidentally killed her, and thus decided to hide her in the foundation of this building that was being made at the time," said Mack.

"So, you took a jackhammer and chiseled out the body, and you're holding that detail over him," said Rawhide.

Mack laughed. "He wasn't scared about that detail. No, the detail that I have over him is the fact that the woman was pregnant, with his child, and I have that body as well."

Rawhide's eyes widened. "He killed his own unborn son?"

"Daughter actually," said Mack. "And it was an accident, so the woman and her daughter aren't feeling too vengeful over that, although they wish he'd change and be a better person. That being said, if word got out that he killed a kid, even by accident, all of his enemies would come for him, and even his own people would turn on him. After all, these guys might be dangerous criminals, but even they have standards, least of which being you don't harm children."
Rawhide asks "What would we do if we catch up to the Black Dragon? According to the video you showed us, it was armed to the teeth, especially that Star-splitter cannon." John just chuckled, "I won't worry about that weapon, Talon's Star-splitter was damaged beyond repair after the Star Ranger gave a big shake up to him and his crew after gathering the jewels for the other Star-splitter Paralax had." He pulled on his chin fur "But the question is, how is he still alive after a showdown with the Star Ranger?"
"Maybe he's just too tough to die," Rawhide said.

On the comm screen John Marley chuckled and his coal black raccoon eyes twinkled. "Nobody is that tough."

"What about Mack?" Morrow said.

They all laughed and Mack grinned.

For two days the three ships raced through space. Captain Talon's Black Dragon in the lead, followed by the Space Rangers' cruiser Fortitude with the rented Dancing Dragon taking the third position.

John Marley messaged them: Looks like Talon is going in for a landing on that planet up ahead. Be ready for some action.
Mack looked at the planet. "I hope there's someone there to talk to."

"There's us," said Rawhide.

"I'm talking about the Dead, especially if one of them knows Talon.," said Mack.

"I still don't buy the whole 'I talk to ghosts' thing; although I will say you have some sort of psychic abilities," said Rawhide. "I say you're reading peoples' minds, and you have that telekinesis going on."

Mack chuckled. "I don't have those going on; just the talking to dead people."
As the two ships landed, John says "Careful, most of the inhabitants are hostile so think twice when you decide to talk to any of the locals. Usually the merchants are more friendly here. Most of them are allies to the Black Brigade and some don't like strangers." Rawhide says "How can we tell the ones who are friends with Talon?" John says "They will bare their space pirate mark."
They set up an ambush for Captain Talon and Emily in a hiding spot near the Slave Market. Planet Decapolis was so decadent that it had a special area devoted to the buying and selling of slaves stolen from ordinary civilizations for use as prostitutes.

"This entire planet gives me the creeps," Rawhide said.

"It should," Marrow said. "It's evil to the core. If this planet was an apple there would be a big ugly worm in it."

The Slave Market was a large brick building with an elevated stage across the front of it. There the slaves would be paraded while buyers called out their bids.

Rawhide checked his Dukane energy pistol to make sure it was fully charged. The tiny fusion reactor in it slowly recharged it over time and he hadn't fired it lately. As he expected, the blue bar glowed at 100%. Still, it was good to be sure. It only took 20 medium power shots to discharge the battery completely. Or one big "let's blow the house down" shot. There were better energy pistols than the Dukane, but none quite as rugged and reliable, qualities that Rawhide valued.
"Let's hope you don't have to use that," said Mack. "And, you won't have to."

"Why?" Rawhide asked.

"The place has a back door," said Mack. "Just follow me."

"How do you know about it?" John asked.

"I just located some friends," said Mack.

Soon enough, the group stood outside a back alley door, and Mack looked at what seemed to be an empty space. "Are you sure this is the back of Market?"

"Who are you talking to?" Rawhide asked.

"A young woman who died while in the line, not too far from the door," said Mack. "She doesn't know what's inside, but she sees the slaves go in through this door, and sees them get bought at the front door, usually after a few days inside. Also, I can hear those inside."

"So, now what?" Rawhide asked.

"We open the door, sneak in, get the young woman, and the others, if possible, and get out," said Mack.

"Say, what happened to the ghost who died here?" Marrow asked. "I mean, how did she die?"

"Let's just say that she was pregnant, and the baby died in the womb, and there was no doctor to take the fetus out, and enough said about that," said Mack.
As they snuck in, John spotted Talon on stage and he spotted Emily bound to a pole "Next up to bid," Captain Talon says "Is this lovely creature from the planet Poseidos. She'll make a perfect servant to the highest bidder. "We'll start the bid at 5,000 credits. Any bidders?"
"Yeah, I've got a bid," Rawhide yelled. "One million joules!" and he pointed his Dukane energy pistol at Talon. People screamed and ran for the exits.

"Dammit!" Mack said. "I said you wouldn't need the gun."

Rawhide thumbed the energy level down to a lower setting and pulled the trigger. Talon fell to the floor, writhing in agony, but not dead at such a low power setting on the pistol. "Get Emily," he said.

Marrow untied Emily from the pole and she fell into his arms. "I think she fainted!"

Energy beams were zapping across the room from several directions.

"Carry her if you have to. We need to get out of here fast."

John Marley had his gun out. Three space rangers stood with him. "You were lucky none of the pirates in here got you before we got them. I'm counting seven bodies on the floor. That still leaves a lot of pirates outside."

Mack surveyed the damage. "It just wasn't necessary."
"What would you have done?" Rawhide asked.

"I make friends real easy, and there's a number here who might have helped out, if you waited thirty seconds!" Mack exclaimed. Suddenly, the wolf's eyes went real wide. "Oh shit! Get down!"

"Why? Ooph!"

Mack managed to shove Rawhide away from him, just as the wolf went flying.

Rawhide looked around. "What's happening?" he asked.

"Don't move, don't any of you move," said Mack, as he stood up. "Don't move, and he won't bother you, not until he's killed me at any rate."

"What are you talking about?" John asked. "What do you see?"

"A pirate that hasn't crossed over, and that's putting it mildly," said Mack.

He looked at his foe. The pirate ghost had a large blade for one limb, and a large gun for the other, and he looked like something out of Davy Jones' Locker, to say the least.

"You think that you can stop me, Ghost Talker?" the Pirate asked.

"I'm going to send you to where you belong," said Mack.

The Pirate swung his blade, and would have beheaded the wolf, if a set of chains hadn't wrapped around it.

Mack looked at the holder of the chains; it was a young female ghost.

"Run," she said.

"Can't," said Mack. "Got a whole host of foes out there."

The Pirate shook the other ghost off, and shot her, blasting her to the other side of the wall. "Know your place, Slave!" He pointed his gun at the other ghosts. "And that goes for the rest of you!"

"They aren't slaves," said Mack. "They are free spirits, and they can take you straight to the Locker!"

"These pathetic weaklings couldn't take me in a fight," the Pirate said.

Mack grinned. "That's where you're wrong." He threw a punch, which sent the pirate to the other side of the room.

"How did you do that?" the Pirate asked. "No living person can harm me!"

"Just as I can see and hear you, I can smell, taste, and touch you, and punching you is touching you, and so's grabbing you so that I can send you to Hell!" Mack rushed over, but the Pirate swung his cannon, knocking him back.

"You're not sending me to Hell!" the Pirate said.

"Get him!" came a voice.

The Pirate turned, just in time to see the ghosts of the captives rush him, and grab a hold of him.

"Take him to his Light!" one said.

"What if we get caught in it?" asked another.

"Better to go to Hell than see him harm another!" said a third.

The Pirate screamed, as he was dragged to a red light, which flashed, with flames enveloping the ghosts.

When the flames were gone, only the ghosts of the captives remained.

"I thought for sure we'd be sent to Hell," the one said.

Mack chuckled painfully. "You weren't destined to be sent there. Your lights look like they'll be a nicer place."

"Is there anything we can do?" the spirits asked. "You gave us the courage we needed to fight him."

Mack grinned, as he stood up, and looked out at the front door. "Yeah - pick up the guns, and make it look like I have the ability to control objects with my mind."

"What are you talking about?" Rawhide asked, still trying to make sense of what he just saw. Then, he saw as the weapons on the ground started to hover in the air, as if someone was holding them. "Okay, now that is creepy."

Mack chuckled. "Now, let's open the door, and have some fun with these pirates."
When the door opens, Captain Talon looking madder then a bull on steriods and some of the surviving Black Brigade Pirates stormed in, "You have no idea how much trouble your in dinoboy, you may have saved your friend but you only made yourself go ext,,,," He saw a floating weapon pointing at Mack, "What in the name of Davy Jones?"
"Ghosts!" Rawhide said.

Talon did a doubletake. "G-g-ghosts?"

"That's right. This place is crawling with them and they don't like pirates. I'm surprised you didn't know that."

Talon looked left and right but couldn't see anything. "We didn't have any trouble last time we were here."

"That's because you didn't have a ghost talker with you. You're definitely going to have trouble now."

Talon backed slowly out of the room. His Black Brigade suddenly broke and ran. "Come back here, you cowards!" he yelled at them.

But it was obvious Captain Talon wasn't inclined to stick around either.
"Why did you call me a Ghost Talker?" Mack asked, looking at Rawhide.

"It seemed to fit," the dinosaur said. "You talk to ghosts, right?"

"Among other things," said Mack.

"How do you become a Ghost Talker?" Marrow asked.

"You have to see Hell," said Mack. "You have to watch someone you love die, and you have to kill someone destined for Hell with your bare hands, and end up going there, only to get sent back. Not a feat most people can claim to have done."

"Do you think that these ghosts can help us take on these pirates?" John asked.

"Accountants, teachers, farmers, and a nun," said Mack. "It's not like pirates abduct soldiers or police officers; they take the weak and helpless. Our advantage is this; the pirates don't know what these ghost can do."

"So, just what can these ghosts do?" Rawhide asked.

Mack's eyes widened. "You don't want to know, and those pirates don't want to know anyways."

"Suppose I do want to know," said Rawhide.

"Given proper motivation, they can lift you up off the ground, and snap you in half like a twig," said Mack. "Luckily, most are not that aggressive."
Rex says "How many of these ghosts we're dealing with?"
"About a hundred, I think, but I don't know the exact count. Not all ghosts come when you call."

"Why is that?" Rawhide asked.

"Who knows?" Mack said. "I get the impression that a lot of ghosts are just plain bored and come running if there is any hint of excitement. Maybe the other ones are too busy working on their own special project, like a haunting or something."

"Ghosts!" Rawhide said. "I never gave them much of a thought, and yet, considering how many people have died over the centuries, there must be a lot more ghosts than there are people."
"Most tend to cross over after a while," said Mack. "It can be boring when others don't interact with you. Then there are those with some sort of unfinished business - those are the ones that stick around."
Rex says "Could you at least describe the ghostly leader?"
"You've got a lot of questions," Mack said.

Rex shrugged. "I don't know much about ghosts and since you seem to be an expert maybe this is my chance to learn something."
Just then out of the ground, something appeared!

"Fear not Citizens!" Said the strange flying something. "I am Rectal Thermometer Man and I will save Emily Bronte!"

And the Flying Thermometer went about poking every pirate until they agreed to set Emily Bronte free

"Who are you?" Asked Emily

"I was created many years ago by a Mad Scientist." Said R.T.M. "Since then I've been waiting to get back to business."

And thus our adventurers had quite an interesting tale for when they returned and R.T.M. flew to outer space in search of new adventures.

The End!

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