“A library,” scoffed Milo. “What a ridiculous idea.” They all now sat in a subway train car heading back home. Surprisingly, they were the only ones to board this particular car, so they were all taking advantage of the extra space by spreading out on the seats.
“I think the idea is really nice,” said Juno. “Hopefully he finds a new spot near us and builds one there. I’d love to be able to walk over to the library everyday on my way home.”
“It’s a little weird that he so specifically wanted to build it on our street,” said Milo. “Like, I can think of several streets around us where it would probably be easier to get a hold of the buildings he’d need to tear down. Hell, two streets away from us is a whole street of condemned buildings, but he chose ours? Seems fishy.”
“And what was up with that lady?” asked Charlie. “Daiyu, he said her name was, right? She just sat there the whole meal and only ever ate one bite. Was she supposed to intimidate us or something?”
“Were you intimidated by her?” Asked Juno with a little laugh. “Maybe she ate earlier or maybe she wasn’t that hungry. Maybe they have a weird relationship. Don’t just judge her cuz she looked a little intense.”
“You’re right,” said Charlie. “I’m just being paranoid.”
The train car emerged from a tunnel and was now speeding over the water below as it crossed over into Brooklyn. The train came to a slow stop and then an announcement came from overhead. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please excuse the delay, but this train has been stopped due to train traffic ahead of us. We will be moving shortly.”
“Unbelievable,” said Milo. This was the exact reason he preferred to travel on foot. Subways just had far too many delays.
“I’m sure we’ll be moving again soon,” said Juno. “Just relax.” Bear gave a soft bark which sounded almost worried.
Charlie pet him on the head to comfort him. “Don’t worry buddy. This happens all the time.” Bear still seemed tense though. “We’ll just sit here for a bit and then after a while the train will just—”
There was a sudden thump directly above them as if something had just landed on the roof of the train car.
“What the hell was that?” asked Charlie. Bear began to bark. Milo stood up, looking quizzically at the roof. Light padding sounds thumped above them as if someone was actually walking along the top of the train car.
“I’m going out,” said Milo.
“Absolutely not,” said Juno. “Are you insane?”
“I’ll be fine,” said Milo, moving to the back of the train car and opening the door. “I do this stuff all the time.”
‘That is not the comforting statement you think it is,” she replied.
Milo moved out onto the landing between cars and then used the ladder to climb up to the train car roof where he saw something, or rather someone, who took him completely by surprise.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
Daiyu’s back was to him, but as she turned to face him, dark wispy shadows formed around her, curling like black and red flames. “Looking for the four of you,” she said. “Looks like I landed on the right car.”
“Landed?” asked Milo, who was confused because this would imply that she could fly.
“Let me show you,” she said. And suddenly she was launching towards him, the shadows forming into wings behind her. She slammed into Milo and the two of them went careening across the roof of the train car behind them. They rolled and Milo managed to pull himself free. As he came to a stop, he righted himself into a crouch and pulled his umbrella from his back like a warrior unsheathing a sword.
Daiyu reached out a hand and a shadowy claw formed in its place, digging into the metal of the roof to stop her from rolling off the side. She launched at Milo again, but this time he was ready for her. She swiped at him with large shadowy claws over her fists. He deflected the claws with his umbrella, flipping over a dark tendril as it swiped at his legs. He swiped away two more attacks and then jumped at her, landing a kick square in her chest that sent her reeling backwards. Not missing a beat, he pounced forward using this hands and legs.
But just as he lunged, the train car lurched and suddenly began moving again. The shaking threw him off balance and he missed her, slamming himself into the roof instead and rolling away haphazardly towards the edge of the train car.
She stood and held out her arms. From her back emerged a large lion-like creature. The creature was made flesh by the swirling shadows rolling off of Daiyu. It had deep red fur adorned with swirling gold patterns, blood-red eyes and a large horn protruding from the center of its head like some sort of demonic unicorn. Two of its teeth protruded past its lower jaw like a saber tooth tiger.
“What the hell are you?” asked Milo, trying to get back on his feet.
“I am the holy vessel of the Nian,” she said. The red lion sprung forward and grabbed his leg, throwing him from the train car. He twirled in midair, spinning the umbrella and using the hooked handle to catch the edge of the train. He swung into one of the windows and crashed back into the train car. This being the one behind where the others were sitting, there were a few bystanders sitting around. All of them gasped as he landed in a heap in the middle of the car. The breath had been knocked out of him, but even so, he pushed himself up on his elbows and yelled, which came out more like a gasp.
In the next car over, Juno and Charlie eyed each other and then made a dash for the door connecting the cars, jumping from their train car to the next one. There they saw Milo laying on the floor, trying to prop himself up and calling out for Juno.
“It’s okay. We’re here,” she said, kneeling down next to him and pulling her ukeytar from her back in order to heal his wounds. “What happened?”
A creaking groan came in response to her question. They all looked up to see part of the train car’s roof being ripped away as if it were nothing more than paper. In the hole above, they could make out the shape of a woman as well as some sort of large demonic lion.
“It’s Daiyu,” coughed Milo. “She’s like … super evil.”
Daiyu jumped down through the hole in the roof and landed right next to them, readying a fist which was quickly wrapped up in the shadows so that it became a large, claw-filled paw, ready to pulverize them.
SLAM! Bear crashed into her, the thrusters on his wheelchair blasting away behind him and propelling him like a rocket. She flipped backwards, slamming into the back of the train car as the other passengers screamed, running towards the other end of the train to use the emergency exit to escape.
Daiyu shook herself off as Bear wheeled around and launched himself at her again. This time, however, she was ready for him. She grabbed him out of the air with one of her clawed hands and then threw him through one of the train’s windows.
“Bear!” yelled Charlie in terror as he watched the corgi disappear into the night. He tried to go to the window to look out, but the train slipped into darkness as it entered a tunnel. “Shit!” he yelled, feeling anger and pain enveloping him. He turned to Daiyu, his face turning red. “That was my dog!”
“Don’t worry,” she said in a hiss. “You’ll all be joining him soon.” She lunged forward. Charlie grabbed his backpack under his arm and launched several ladders at her as an aimed creation. She ripped through the first one with one of her claws, barely managed to deflect the second, and then was hit in the stomach by the third which launched her backwards.
Juno helped Milo to his feet. He shook off the blow and turned, gritting his teeth and snarling as he jumped back into the fight. Juno began to play a fast song which enveloped Milo and Charlie in a protective bubble. The lion appeared above Daiyu and used its large teeth to bite into the bubble as Daiyu dug into it with the shadowy claws.
“I can’t hold her back much longer!” yelled Juno.
Charlie reached into his bag and pulled out a glimmering sword. Just as the bubble shattered around him, he stabbed the sword into one of the Daiyu’s hands. She let out a scream, reeling back in pain. But the lion seemed to be acting of its own volition as it roared and shot a stream of green fire at Milo. He dodged into a roll and then smack the lion’s head with his umbrella.
The train car came to a stop and the doors slid open. Daiyu spawned two large black tentacles, each of which wrapped around Milo and Charlie and threw them out the doors onto the station platform. She launched herself at Juno who played a high pitched set of notes which caused Daiyu to see a series of flashing lights, momentarily blinding her. Juno used the momentary distraction to jump off the train as well.
* * *
Not far away, in the Hudson River, Bear was slowly sinking deeper into the murky water. The impact of hitting the water caused him to lose consciousness and soon his little body would run out of breath. It wasn’t the worst way to go, saving the only friends you ever had in your short life from an evil demon woman, but Bear liked life with his new family. It seemed such a shame to leave it without making a few more memories.
His eyes burst open, and he started to paddle with his small feet. But even though he was awake, he realized it wouldn’t be enough. He was too deep. He was going to drown.
There was a sound from his wheelchair as it began to transform. Bear understood that something new was happening to him yet again. This time, not only did the chair sprout two little thrusters, but it also covered itself in thick blue metal along with two plane-like wings. The thrusters ignited, propelling him upwards.
He broke free of the water and kept soaring upwards. Bear zoomed into the air, flying like a small Corgi plane. He banked left and made for the tunnel where he had seen the train vanishing as he fell into the river. His friends were in trouble! Not to mention, if they died, who was going to serve him his dinner?
A new transformation for Bear? A fight scene on a train? A cliffhanger? How will they get out of this? Well, of course I know, but I’m excited for you all to find out!