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Rated: ASR · Chapter · Fantasy · #1957142
Parll's dad! where did he come from? What new twist is in store for our heroine?
         Before Parll or his father could say anything else I heard a wild howling sound coming down the road. Parll’s dad looked over his shoulder for a moment before making a tsking sound while the side of his mouth went up in a snarl.

         “They caught up faster then I expected. No time to explain, we need to go.”

         Even as he said that four of the wild Yildnar that had chased me in the last two worlds came around the corner, making a bee line for us. I could just make them out over the small fence separating the yard from the road. Parll’s dad turned and held up his hand to keep us back as he cracked his neck from side to side with a grin.

         “Just four? Who do they think I am? He must really be underestimating me in my old age. Just sit tight kids, this should only take a minute.”

         Just as the four frothing Yildnar jumped, Parll’s dad leapt off the porch as well letting out a deep throated growl of challenge. As he flew through the air towards them he grew a thick mane of white-gray fur with an even thicker skunk line down his back. His face elongated as his teeth grew out into his wolf form, grew slightly taller as claws sprouted from his fingers. He met the first Yildnar in mid air as it slashed at him. He shifted his head to the side and grabbed the outstretched arm before bringing his left fist around to slam into the things head and shoved it to the ground.

         Even as the head exploded he swung his foot around in an arc that caught the next Yildnar in the side while it was in mid leap hard enough to send it flying into the third one who was right next to it. He continued to swing in a circle on one hand as he twisted yet again. His movements were so fast I didn’t even see how exactly he had contorted his body to bring the foot he hadn’t slammed into the second opponent around to shove into the gut of the last enemy who was now above him. I saw the claws extend, ripping out of his shoes to rake the opponents stomach from neck to knee as the thing flew overhead. Even as it landed on the ground dead he was shoving off of the ground and flipping through the air to impale the two Yildnar he had kicked in the neck with his claws before they had a chance to get up from where they had fallen to the ground.

         The fight had lasted only a few seconds and it took my brain a moment to catch up and process what I had just seen. He threw back his head and howled with his hands out at his sides. There was an answering howl as another pack of around twenty or thirty of the crazed beasts came swarming around every corner. Parll’s dad grinned again as he began to laugh.

         “That’s more like it! Now this is a challenge worthy of me!”

         They swarmed over and through the fence. Breaking it down from sheer power and speed. As they came, he stood his ground. Slicing them with his claws and ducking their attacks. He flowed through them and around their strikes. But even I could tell there were too many. He took a claw to his shoulder as he tried to dodge a downward thrust. I heard an explosion above us, looking up just in time to see a humanoid shape hurtling through the sky to smash into the ground on top of three Yildnar that had leapt at Parll’s dad with their mouths wide open.

         Parll’s father had jumped backwards right before the shape hit the ground, throwing up a giant cloud of dust at its impact. He hadn’t even looked up before dodging out of the way. Parll's father dashed to the side to grab another enemy by both hands and kick him in the chest, ripping both arms off before backhanding someone else with one of the bloody limbs. A figure emerged from the cloud of dust, beheading a Yildnar with the sword in his right hand, using a backhanded strike as he came, before twirling to blocking a claw with a dagger in his other hand.  He was a blur as well but I clearly saw the green cloth wrapped around his head and trailing behind him like a banner of defiance.

         “You’re late.”

         “Well excuse me. Taking down a flying machine while getting shot at by this worlds military isn’t easy. If you aren’t satisfied then you can get over your fear of flying and do it yourself.”

         Even as he said that, metal parts from some machine in question rained down from the sky. As a gear fell almost on top of my dad’s head he bent his knees and leaned back. His sword and dagger turned a blue color as he reached out to capture the gear between two bubbles of power. He spun on his heels, bringing it around in a circle over his head as he straightened up and let the chunk of metal fly into the mass of Yildnar. The makeshift weapon sliced off the top of the first ones head, decapitated the next one and shot through the chest of a third like soft butter before coming to rest lodged in the stomach of a forth. He stabbed another one in the eye with his dagger before pulling it out and throwing it at the back of Parll’s father’s head while he spun around. Parll's dad moved out of the way at the last second to let the knife imbed into the creatures open mouth even as he slipped past it to grab the next one by its snout and pull the lower jaw off.

         “If Yildnar were meant to fly, we would have grown wings.”

         “So says you fleet admiral Warrl.”

         “Hey a spaceship is different! At least you can imagine you are on solid ground in one of those.”

         My dad jumped over another Yildnar, grabbing it around the head with his legs, twisting to snap the neck even as he rolled over his companions back to fling the dead body into a group of four more. A blaster appeared in his hand as he fell off the other side to fire four quick rounds into the enemy before he threw it into the air and Parll’s dad launched himself skyward to grab it, raining down destruction on the few remaining enemy. When he landed the battle was over and the two of them stood surrounded by blood, gore, and dead bodies.

         “Well that was a nice little workout. So when do we get the main event?”

         “Yildnars.”

         “Humans.”

         The two of them began to laugh as the crazed Yildnar that had gotten his jaw ripped off suddenly lunged up from the ground and shot out a clawed hand at Parll’s father’s back. He didn’t even look behind him, simply stepped to the side while shooting out his clawed palm to smash it into the things chest right around where the heart would be. I saw the claws sink into flesh and crush bone before he tightened it into a fist and shook off the corpse. With that the two of them turned to us, giving a thumbs up and a half smile full of teeth. I couldn’t contain myself as I ran into my dad’s open arms.

         “Daddy! I’m so glad to see you!”

         “Dad? You mean Kapachaki is your father!”

         “That’s right Parll. I’m Kapachaki. You’ve grown taller since I last saw you. Filled out a bit too. I hope you are still chasing your dreams.”

         “Right, right. Enough chit chat. We got time for that later. We need to go. Now.”

         Warrl. That was his name. My brain remembered my dad saying something to that effect while they were fighting. Warrl pulled out a pure black key and headed for the door. Just then the ground began to shake as the most ear shattering scream pierced my ears. My eyes were drawn to a shadow even as my dad and Parll’s turned to look. A metal robot thing came into view, towering at least ten stories over us. It had four arms and two heads but it moved incredibly slowly. The two adults looked at each other and sighed at the same time.

         “I took the last one hero. It’s your turn.”

         “Yeah, yeah I know. Sure you don’t want to trade?”

         “Nope. I might like a good battle but I know when to avoid a fight I don’t need.”

         “Fine. But you owe me one of those Rokotti’s you keep going on about. See you back at base.”

         My dad gave me a final squeeze before pushing me away.

         “Sweetie. Go with Warrl. He will keep you safe. Don’t worry, you are in good hands.”

         With that he began stretching out his legs and doing a few squats. He got into a sprinter’s position and I could see his legs bunching up in preparation to leave again when he stopped and looked over at me.

         “Oh and Renna.”

         “Yeah dad?”

         “I found you. Just like I promised. It might have taken me a bit longer then expected but I found you. Remember that. I will always find you. No matter what you do or where you go, I will find you. Now and forever. I love you. Never forget that.”

         “I love you too dad.”

         With that he launched himself into the air to land on the roof of a building down the street. He sat there only a second before he was off jumping again. Making his way to the giant robot creature. Parll’s dad pushed us ahead of him to the front door before inserting the key and turning it to the left and opening it. I could do nothing to resist the arm that pushed me through the portal.

********************

         Unlike when I had gone through one of these portals before, the trip wasn’t instantaneous. I felt a bit of tilting to the world before the darkness around me disappeared, letting me get my first look at this place. It looked like any empty flatland with a few trees littering it that you could find on Earth. The only big difference that I could see was the giant airstrip like buildings and sections fenced off that people were training in en mass. It reminded me a bit of a military base.

         “It’s Yil! This smell! These trees. This grass! I’m home!”

         “Not quite son. This is still the anime reality. But this is as close a replica of our world as we could make it. At least this ten square miles or so. The Narleps have their patch to the east and the Jarleps boarder us on the north. Halinians to the west and Clith a bit farther in that direction. Wibbles have an area to the south though they rarely use it. This world is kind of a patchwork of all our worlds put together. We’ve been training our new recruits here since we can let loose without worrying about the damage we might do to our real world.”

         I followed along quietly as Warrl spoke about the training that was going on and led us into the grounds which seemed to be an ant nest of activity wherever you looked. Runners came up to Parll’s dad, who by this time had returned to his human looking state, calling him General Warrl. I hadn’t even noticed when exactly he had donned his disguise again, too busy looking around me and trying to take it all in.

         “Sheelin! Your footwork is too sloppy! You need to move when you fight girl! Otherwise someone is going to put a hole in you! After your training go play four hours of DDJ on hard difficulty. If you can’t get your feet working by then do another four!”

         “Uh Commander Warrl? What is DDJ?”

         “Please just call me Warrl, Renna. I feel like I already know a lot about you anyway. As for DDJ, it’s a dance game. Your father came up with the idea. He said there was a video game on Earth where the player has to move their feet to hit one or more of four arrows as instructed by a screen to the beat of music. Since this is still the anime reality we couldn’t use the actual name so we recreated it with some of our own touches and called it Dance Dance Jammer. We have found it works wonders to teach footwork to the newer recruits and hone the skills of the older ones as well. Even I find it quite challenging and enjoyable at times.”

         “So my dad helped build this place?”

         “Aye. This all started about ten years ago now. Shortly after I met him again at the site of the last battle. At first it was just this small space for us Yildnar. But then as the alliances between the United Planets grew, so did this little pocket reality. Until everyone had an embassy and a small patch of land to call their own. You can find teleporters to any of the other slices around if you need to go there yourself for whatever reason. So when the Oglians began this war we already had a base of operations that they couldn’t attack. This is a private universe that only those with the proper access can enter.

         “Oglians? You mean from the planet Oog? But I thought they weren’t capable of space travel yet. And why have I been chased by crazed Yildnar if the Oglians are the enemy?”

         “Ah, I suppose I should start at the beginning shouldn’t I? I’m sure you would like to know what’s going on. Okay let’s see if I can tell this straight without confusing you. Never was quite good at these long stories, always better at barking the orders. You are right, Oog is not technologically advanced. I would guess they are about the level of what you humans are at right now. In fact they are much like you humans in personality and culture as well.

         “I didn’t know if you knew any of that but there it is. The biggest difference between humans and them is they are more like Wibble’s. They have no true form. They are more like blobs and speak telepathically. Oog is close to the Wibble home world of Swiz and so both races evolved similarly from single celled organisms. What you would call amoeba. But somewhere along the way the two races diverged technologically and the Weeb’s soon far surpassed the Oglians. They entered space exploration and learned of the other races in the system while the Oglians did not. They were kept in the dark to lead their own lives in peace. We did not bother them since we considered them a lesser race.

         “I say lesser only in the fact that they were not as advanced as the rest of us. They had not even entered space yet. The most they had done was shoot a few rockets to the moons. But as of late they had been focusing on space more and more as a means to support their people. They were overcrowding their world and stripping it of all resources. Another thing you should know of their race is like a Wibble, they assimilate to evolve.

         “What I mean by this is they use the DNA of those they consume to alter their bodies and to grow smarter. I say alter their appearance but that is not quite right. It is more like they take on the traits of what they consume and are more prone to favor certain configurations when the need arises. But their assimilation is not infinite. They can only splice up to two different genes into their body at any time. Once a strand is replaced they must acquire it again. So while they can switch out their nature whenever they wish, at the same time they are frugal in doing so for they never know when they might get a hold of any given trait again. In this way do they alter the next generation as the children take on some of the qualities of the DNA that their parents currently possessed.

         “I only say this much about them so that you have an idea of what kind of people they are. We are still not entirely sure of how this war started you see. All we know is they somehow found out about not only the other races but also about this alternate reality. They wasted no time in infiltrating this space and exploiting it. How they managed to break past all the security measures in place we do not know either. What we do know is that the first species they encountered was a Jarlep. They assimilated the vast intelligence and used their newfound knowledge to invade Yil. We fought long and hard. You would know nothing of this Parll since you were inside this reality at that time.

         “We were taken by surprise, but only at first. We fought back fiercely. But the damage had already been done. They quickly assimilated our skills in war. And by using the great mind from the Jarlep they killed, they learned how to trigger the Yaspak within us. Not only trigger, but control those afflicted. They used our people as fodder. As mindless grunts in their war. Infiltrating and attacking the other worlds one by one. Then using the new genes they acquired to keep pushing us back. Combining them in ways we had never thought of due to their unique ability.

         “Eventually, thanks to the help of your father and the combined efforts of the best minds among the races, we have trapped the majority of their forces within this reality. Cutting off their lifeline with their home world. We used this same skill to shut down their entrance into any of our worlds as well. Unfortunately it also strands us in here too. Passage for anyone back home is severely limited and monitored. The doorways opened for only the gravest of circumstances and the shortest of times.

         “Already our troops are mobilizing and sending fleets to their home world to invade in reality. We have superior firepower and technology on our side. If they will not desist we will obliterate their planet. We will erase their people from existence. They are too dangerous to let live otherwise. Right now it is a bit of a waiting game while all the pieces are put into place.”

         “Then why did my dad have to go off fighting that giant robot thing? If this is a waiting game and these realities aren’t real, why not just let them run amok for now? And how did you find us?”

         “Then what of the people? I’m not talking about the NPC’s. I’m talking about all the real people also inside that world. Those who came inside here to enjoy a small vacation? Or who came to meet one time enemies on neutral grounds and drink tea like old friends? You only see a part of each world when you jump from one to the next. You don’t realize it really is an entire world, not just a patch of one. With multiple countries, religions, languages and everything in between. You might be the only real people that you ever meet in your small section when you enter, but what about the rest of the world? There could be ten or ten hundred real people just like you. Should we simply ignore them and let them be killed simply because we do not see them right then?

         “As for finding you, your father used his magic and I used my tracking skills. We were searching for each of you separately, but we happened to meet up as we both caught your trail so we teamed up to find you two. We were worried that the Oglians had caught up and assimilated you. So we tracked you down and found you with the plan to bring you with us whether you wanted to come or not so that we could keep you safe. You could say our desires as fathers overrode our common sense. Allowing us to ignore our duties as Commander and General to these allied forces to go searching for you two. So while it is a bit belated, welcome to the planet Freedom. Where everyone has come together in this melting pot of cultures.”

         While we had been talking he had led us through the facilities and let us see the many different aspects of it. Aside from training yards and buildings, there were game rooms and other recreation rooms, a small garden with a wide variety of plants both to eat and for I assumed medicinal purposes. There were barracks but also private homes. Construction going on showing that more houses were going up. I saw tired and bedraggled people in tattered clothes and sunken eyes. I knew without being told that they were aliens that had been stranded in here or narrowly escaped being killed by the enemy. They were this worlds homeless and poor.

         But despite the hollowed looks and the wailing children. Despite the poor clothing and what I was sure was minimum shelter, they all looked happy. A few looked sullen but the majority were laughing and smiling like this was any other day. Warrl noticed my looks and nodded.

         “Aye. They are just a fraction of the casualties of this war. They are as you probably suspect, the homeless and the stranded. Until this war is over and it is safe to open the portals again, they have nowhere else to go that they can be safe. We have been evacuating the worlds as fast as we can but it is still slow going. We can provide them with at least some shelter, even if they have to share in a barracks style house. We can provide some clothing both from what we have on hand, what our seamstresses can make, and what we manage to steal on raids into the other realities. We do not have much time in the other realities anymore since the enemy ends up finding us quicker and quicker.

         “As for food, we do not have a lot of it, but we make do. That too we steal what we can and force grow the rest. All is shared here. Those of us who go out into the realities to fight do not hoard larger portions. Your father would not allow it and I support him in that regard. Indeed at first many were against it until we cracked open a few heads and made them see reason. They thought they were entitled to extra servings because they were out there doing the fighting. Your father told them they could eat whatever they wanted in those other worlds if they had a chance, but these people could not. So all get ration cards to sustain them, even your father and I.

         “He has enforced his rule upon this world, keeping us all together and acting as a cohesive unit. He understands the personalities and cultures of everyone on this world and juggles them skillfully. The only thing he does not allow either in this world of Freedom or any other reality is for the soldiers to rape. This is not a problem for most, but for some species this is. Yet somehow he manages. When they are sent on raiding parties they are given a quota of goods to retrieve. Needed supplies and the like. Anything they manage to bring back after that is theirs to keep and barter with.

         “This has weeded out the greedy and the weak or stupid. If they overburden themselves to satisfy their own ends they are caught and killed. Your father told them this from the start. He said not to expect anyone to help them if they encumbered themselves in their greed. Surprisingly we have lost few people in this manner. After the first few who did not heed the warning the rest have stayed relatively honest, bringing only a little extra back along with their quota. I am amazed at what he has accomplished here. Would that I could have done so well back on Yil. I am learning much in the ways of management from him and will be bringing many of these ideas back with me when this is over. Your father is a very great man Renna Reesin. It is an honor for me to know him.”

         I looked around me once again at everything going on and realized yet again how engulfed by his shadow I was. Why had I even tried to get better? Why had I even bothered to learn how to fight even a little bit? Doing so had been and was pointless. I could never hope to stand next to my dad. He was so far ahead of me he was already coming up behind me and was about to pass me again. He would never and could never just be my dad to me anymore. I would never be able to just think of him as my dad. He was too great, too high for me to be so intimate.

         I heard some of the homeless people around me begin to whisper and look behind me. As I began to turn around I was caught up in a giant bear hug and swung around slightly like a rag doll.

         “Renna! Oh Renna! I’m so happy to see you!”

         I felt the tears hitting the top of my head as I breathed in the all too familiar scent of lightly scented lavender oil and lilacs. Feeling the warm chest as it embraced me. I felt the tears welling up and beginning to soak into her shirt. Felt my arms lift of their own will to wrap around her waist and squeeze back.

         “Mom! I missed you.”



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