• Published 25th Jul 2020
  • 1,311 Views, 71 Comments

Shy and Aggressive: Book 2 - Johng117

After thwarting a horde of malevolent mutations, The Main 7, The Dazzlings and Mutant 4 find themselves marooned onto a foreign world.

  • ...

Chapter 15: The Eloi

Malicia stood at a balcony from her grand citadel. She over looked the city below. Her cold eyes reflected the coldness of this city. The skies in this area were grey and clouded. The atmosphere greatly contrasted that of the land beyond the capital. This was a sight that the empress came to be too familiar with. She turned away and returned to her throne, her footsteps echoed in this large room.

Malicia returned to her seat and began to look through her crystal ball. She placed a hand on it, causing it to glow.

"Sigyn," said Malicia.

"Y-Your majesty!" Sigyn stuttered. Malicia furrowed her brows. Rarely did this woman respond shakily. She knew something was wrong.

"Report," said Malicia.

"I-I regret to inform you... We were just attacked," said Sigyn. Malicia deeply inhaled through her nostrils.

"Explain," said Malicia, her tone calm.

"Our platoon was struck from Sacramentonian forces. A great flock of Argentavis descended on our campsite, carrying Sacramentonian forces. We were forced to flee," said Sigyn.

"How did they discover your location? I made it clear that you were supposed to stay out of sight until I gave the order," said Malicia, her tone growing stern.

"Unknown, your majesty. They caught us by surprise," said Sigyn. Malicia furrowed her brows.

"Have the reinforcements arrived near the location?" asked Malicia.

"No, we haven't encountered them yet," answered Sigyn.

"If you do, tell them to fall back to another location. I can't risk them falling into an ambush," said Malicia.

"Understood," said Sigyn. The crystal ball went dim. The empress sighed as she rubbed her brow.

"Incompetent fools. No matter," said Malicia to herself. She looked to where trap door remained sealed.

"I still have an ace up my sleeve."

The noon sun hung high above. The weather was much cooler compared to the previous day. This was much to the relief of Junior and the gang.

Angirasu and Junior remained seated at the front of their gifted wagon, staring off the vast land ahead of them. They passed over a hill and towards a flat landscape, where tall grass stood.

"Eyes peeled around this area. This is a perfect place for predators," said Junior.

"10-4," nodded Angirasu.

"No way in hell," said Dwan.

"I'm not kidding," said Rodan.

"Dude, get out! That's crazy!" said Dwan in disbelief. Junior sighed.

"What's the commotion back there?" asked Junior in annoyance. At this rate, he thought their voices would draw unwanted attention.

"Meh Rodan told me that you played on the soccer team," said Dwan.

"Please stop calling me that," deadpanned Rodan. Adagio looked to Junior in surprise.

"Hey, I didn't know you were on the soccer team," said Adagio.

"Only temporarily. Rainbow Dash asked me to fill in since a big game was coming up," said Junior .

"I never imagined you'd be capable of doing something like that. So how'd it go?" asked Dwan.

"We won," said Junior, nonchalant.

"Riveting storytelling," deadpanned Dwan.

"What do you want from me? Ask them for details since they were there," said Junior in annoyance.

"Still, you must've gotten popular after that!" said Dwan. Surely Angirasu was mistaken about this boy being unpopular. Someone who's on a school's sports team and helped win the 'big game' was sure to get notoriety.

"Oh I was popular alright," said Junior in a bitter tone. Dwan bore an odd look.

"He's still sore about the fact that after the game, he was mostly known as the goalie that kept getting hit in the face," said Sunset. Junior's brows furrowed.

"It was an intense game. But poor Goji's face was swollen because he kept getting hit in the face," said Mosura. Dwan snorted in amusement.

"I would've loved to see that," said Dwan.

"Ha ha," said Junior sarcastically. He sighed.

"They didn't even appreciate my effort neither. People forgot about it over the damn weekend," said Junior in annoyance.

"Rainbow appreciated it," interjected Rodan.

"Yeah, but she's obligated to. After all, it was her team that was-" Junior stopped himself.

"What?" asked Adagio in confusion. Junior cleared his throat. He never actually told anyone that he was close to quitting. This was due to the fact that he was lousy as a player, and that the team was talking about him behind his back. The only ones who knew were a few of the soccer team members, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy. He didn't want anyone
to think less of him if they thought he was going to quit just because of trash talkers.

"Uh... Her team did all the work. I was just a goalie the whole game. I guess since I pushed myself, even when the coach tried to bench me, she was obligated to appreciate the minimal work I did," said Junior, scratching at his head.

"Oh. Well, I don't think that's true," said Adagio, a sweet smile on her face. Sunset's expression softened. There was that knot feeling again. Just looking at Junior and hearing his words and his tone caused this.

'Why am I feeling like this?' thought Sunset, feeling her chest, where her heart lied.

"Hey, how much further to the next town?" asked Mosura.

"Uh... We still have a long way to go," said Junior, looking at the map.

"Wait, there it is!" said Angirasu, pointing ahead. Junior bore an odd look as he noticed a village just beyond the fields of tall grass. It was completely wooden, and stood far out in the open. It was odd, since it didn't look fortified to protect it from any external threats.

"Wait, this isn't right. There shouldn't be a settlement in this area," said Junior, looking through the map.

"Maybe the map is a bit outdated," suggested Sunset.

"Hey, it just means we lucked out! We can take a quick break before heading off," said Dwan.

"Only if you promise to behave yourself," deadpanned Junior. Dwan pouted.

"Fine," said Dwan.

"Alright. Aang, take us in," said Junior.

"Got it," said Angirasu, keeping a hold on the reigns. He had the triceratops pull the wagon through the tall grass, heading for the village. The gang soon made it beyond the grass, now on a clear path to their destination. The wagon was towed into the village.

Junior and Angirasu noticed the denizens of this mysterious settlement. They were clad in less refined clothes that they had seen from the last two towns. The people stared and watched as they passed by.

"Whoa, where's..." Angirasu looked around, holding a confused expression.

"You noticed too, huh?" asked Junior.

"Noticed what?" asked Sunset, peeping from the back of the wagon.

"It's just women and children," said Junior. Sunset looked around, finding what the boy had said was true. From what she could see, the majority of the population composed of women, ranging from young and old, and children of all ages.

"You're right. Where are all the men?" asked Sunset.

The wagon stopped on the side of the road. The teens got off of the wagon, where they were met with more stares.

"Maybe we should move on," whispered Junior.

"But we're already here," whispered Adagio.

"What is your business here?" asked a nearby woman.

"Business? We're just passing through," said Dwan.

"We were hoping to rest here for a bit before moving on our journey. Sorry for any disturbance we might've caused," said Mosura, apologetically.

"If that is the case, then welcome to Eloi," said the woman with a brief bow of her head. "Please, come with me."

The teens followed this woman over to a larger structure. It was a tavern, but much smaller compared to the ones in the cities, it was almost empty. Only one or two women sat there, present with drinks. The gang was led to a counter, where a woman began to pour cups of water.

"It's rather quiet," said Sunset.

"Mm," said the tavern owner, as she passed on the drinks.

"If you need anything, just call for me," said the woman, before leaving to the back.

"If not for the few people we saw outside, I'd say this was a freakin' ghost town," said Dwan.

"I actually like it. It's nice to have some peace and quiet," said Junior.

"Heheh." Rodan chuckled.

"What's so funny?" asked Junior.

"Is it me or are those girls checking me out?" asked Rodan. Junior cocked a brow. He turned in his seat, finding a small group of girls around their age, standing at the window, outside of the tavern. They quickly ducked out of sight once the teens looked their way.

"What the...?" Junior scratched his chin.

"They're probably just curious about us," said Mosura dismissively.

"Whatever you have to say to rest easy at night," said Rodan. Mosura scoffed.

"Get over yourself. Girls aren't attracted to every single guy they see" said Mosura. The tavern door suddenly opened. A girl stumbled in, as though she was pushed. She anxiously looked back and forth between the teens and the door. She then steeled herself and approached.

"E-Excuse me... I am, Selena," said the girl. She was a cute girl, with long reddish brown hair, and steely blue eyes. She was clad in a light brown dress, with short sleeves.

"Hi there," greeted Sunset with a welcoming tone.

"Can we help you?" asked Angirasu. The girl twiddled her fingers, appearing hesitant and flustered.

"I-I just wanted to ask... If it wouldn't be too much trouble..." the girl stuttered. "Might my friends and I join you?"

"Friends?" Junior looked to the door, finding a group of girls around the same age to be peeking from a corner.

"Sure! Always nice to meet new people," said Sunset.

"Eh..." Adagio grimaced. Junior cocked a brow at her.

In just moments, the strange new girls rushed over, startling the other teens. The girls began to speak over each other, their excited words becoming incoherent. They were also attractive young ladies, with beaming smiles that would make any boy's heart flutter.

"Friendly bunch, aren't they?" Mosura laughed.

"A little too friendly," said Adagio to herself.

"Dude, these girls are freaking hot!" whispered Rodan leaning close to Angirasu.

"Behave yourself. First impressions are everything," whispered Angirasu with an amused smile.

"So, what do you girls-" Sunset spoke, but found that these new girls were totally ignoring her. In fact, they seemed to be ignoring everyone but the boys.

"Wow! Look at his hair! Its so prickly!" said a girl.

"That tanned one is kinda cute," said a girl with a shy giggle.

"I knew it! Who's 'Meh' now, Dwan?!" Rodan laughed, victoriously. Dwan scoffed with an annoyed look.

"Look at him! He's so tall," gasped a girl, her cheeks red. Junior gulped as he found himself surrounded by all of the girls. Mosura gasped as she saw this. Adagio scowled.

"Hey!" said Rodan in annoyance, now that the girls had suddenly turned their attention to the largest boy in the room.

"He's so manly looking!" said a girl.

"M-May I feel your muscles?" asked a girl shyly.

"Geez Goji, save some for the rest of us!" said Rodan.

"I don't think that's appropriate," said Junior, in a mix of embarrassment and discomfort. Adagio suddenly made her way passed the girls and stood at Junior's side. Her scowl suddenly became a confident smirk.

"Sorry, girls. He's with me," said Adagio. She locked her arm around Junior's and pulled him close. Mosura gritted her teeth as she grew flustered.

"With you?" asked a girl in disbelief.

"Yeah. As in, this hunk is mine to fondle," said Adagio.

"Fondle?!" Junior exclaimed. Adagio chuckled with a mischievous smile. She took her free hand began to grope Junior's bicep.

"Honk! Honk! Tee hee!" Adagio giggled. Junior sighed, his face flushed.

"Adagio!" growled Mosura.

"Darn..." said one of the girls in disappointment. They then returned their attention to the rest of the boys.

"What the heck kind of village is this?" asked Sunset incredulously.

Adagio continued to cling to Junior's arm. Even as Mosura approached with a death glare.

"You can let go, now," deadpanned Mosura.

"And break the illusion for these boy crazy chicks? No way!" said Adagio. Mosura growled.

"It's fine, Mosu," said Junior. Mosura scoffed.

"Fine?!" Mosura whined in shock.

"Look, let's find someone in charge. Maybe we can get a place to stay," said Junior.

"You want to stay?" asked Mosura in disbelief.

"To be frank, not really. It's like these chicks have never seen a boy before," said Junior.

"That's because we haven't," said a familiar voice. Junior, Mosura and Adagio jumped with a start, as Selena appeared by their side.

"Wait, what do you mean?" asked Mosura.

"As you've noticed, there are mainly females in our village. The only males are children under a certain age," said Selena.

"Why is that?" asked Adagio.

"Well, the men of our village are required to go off into the wilderness to serve the Zetas," said Selena.

"Zetas? Serve?" asked Junior.

"Oh yes. A male that is mature enough to plant his own seed must go and serve the Zetas. Divine beings that have graced us with their presence. In exchange of their sacrifice via lifetime of servitude, the Zetas give us food and bless our men to protect us from the dreaded lizard and crocodile men" said Selena. Junior cocked a brow while Rodan gulped.

"Ro?" Angirasu looked to the boy in concern.

"Sorry. I was just having terrible flashbacks," said Rodan.

"So, every man in your village is gone to serve these 'Zetas'?" asked Sunset. Selena nodded.

"How... How long has this been going on? That doesn't seem stable for a small village like this," said Junior.

"Stable?" asked Selena.

"Think about it. The men are gone. That's like what? Half the population cut out. And you're expected to send out sexually mature males to serve these Zetas? How can you keep your population up?" asked Junior.

"Well, when a boy is old enough, he is able to take one girl from the village as his own. After he plants his seed in her womb, he must leave," said Selena.

"Jesus. So the women are raising the children on their own?" asked Junior in disbelief.

"W-Well..." Selena stood timidly. She wondered if she did something to upset the boy, based on his tone.

"Oh what? Women can't raise a kid on their own?" scoffed Dwan.

"I know what you're gonna try to say, but save it. I was raised by a single mother with no other family members to help for half my life. It wasn't like what those out of touch wretches in Applewood would make you believe," said Junior, glaring at Dwan. There was a brief moment of tense silence. Junior turned to Selena, who flinched at his gaze.

"A people are only as strong as their family unit. I don't care how much mommy loves you. She can't teach you everything that you need to know," said Junior. His stern gaze caused the girl to the shrink away with a whimper.

"Dude, chill out! You're scaring the poor girl" said Dwan. Junior merely turned back to the table, his expression hard. Sunset's expression softened at the boy.

"Please don't mind him. It's just that we don't know how things work around here, so it's a bit jarring," said Mosura, apologetically.

"It's alright," said Selena, sneaking a glance at Junior.

It was later into the day. The triceratops was resting by the wagon, its nostrils flaring with each intake of breath.

There was a small building nearby. Junior and the gang were being escorted by Selena and an older woman, dressed in robes. Selena opened the door.

"This home was abandoned when its previous owners went off to the Zetas. You may rest here for as long as you please," said the older woman. The teens entered the house, finding it to be cold and dark. Dust covered the furniture, and some cob webs covered the corners. The house looked like it hadn't been inhabited in years.

"Thank you, Madam Tria," said Mosura. As the woman and Selena left, the teens began to set there things down. Junior kept his brows furrowed, while Sunset took notice of his mood.

"Whew. Looks like we need to get started on some spring cleaning!" said Mosura.

"Why? We're just gonna leave in the morning. Besides, it's not like anyone lives here," said Junior. The teens briefly looked to each other. Junior sighed, knowing something was up.

"What?" asked Junior.

"Well... We've been making good time, I think," said Mosura scratching her head.

"And we have been doing a lot of travelling," said Adagio.

"It wouldn't hurt if we... stayed a few days?" asked Dwan. Junior glared at them.

"What?" asked Junior.

"Dude, I'm sick of sitting in that wagon all day, every day! My butt is sore!" said Dwan.

"But we're getting close to Elsinore! I don't want to keep Fluttershy and the rest of the Dazzlings waiting!" said Junior.

"They're safe with the Iwi. It won't hurt to properly rest. This place is perfect. It's small, no noisy denizens, and has friendly people," said Mosura.

"This place? It's nothing but kids and women," said Junior.

"Dude, why are you hung up on that?" asked Dwan, oddly.

"Why aren't you? Didn't the story by that girl sound off? Why would these people consent to sending their men away? Their sons too!" said Junior.

"I'll admit that the story seems strange, but we can't exactly verify it," said Dwan.

"That's my problem! This entire village is giving me bad vibes. There's no protection either. We can't stay here," said Junior.

"Selena mentioned 'The Zetas', didn't she?" asked Angirasu.

"Yeah, what the hell is a Zeta? If these are divine beings, why do they need to take the males? What kind of-" Junior was interrupted as Sunset stepped over, tugging at his sleeve, a look of concern on her face.

"Well, why not stay here and observe? If you're really worried about these people," suggested Sunset. Junior was silent for a moment, pondering. He sighed.

"Fine," said Junior.

Just moments later, the teens had taken up to cleaning up the house. They worked together to sweep up any dirt and dust every furniture. They had designated their own roles to each other for a more efficient cleaning effort.

Sunset found herself taking a feather duster and started to dust off some furniture. During this, she found the cob webs that filled a corner in the house. She took a chair and began to dust them away. As Sunset moved to the next net of web, she froze in place as she found a spider to be resting on the webs.

Sunset shuddered as she had a sudden flood of memories of spiders and losing her dear friend. Sunset quickly smacked the small spider on the web. She panted, her heart raced, and her eyes wide and alert.

"Sheesh, and I thought I was afraid of spiders."

Sunset turned, finding Mosura holding a broom in her hands. An amused look was on her face. Sunset cleared her throat as she got off the chair.

"I thought it was venomous," said Sunset. She looked around briefly, and leaned close to Mosura.

"Hey... You think Goji's OK?" asked Sunset. The mutant girl hummed with a thoughtful look.

"I don't know. He did seem upset though. Even after we left that tavern," said Mosura.

"Why don't you talk to him?" suggested Sunset. Mosura winced as she held the broom close.

"I uh... I don't know if that's a good idea," said Mosura.

"Why not?" asked Sunset in confusion. Mosura's face grew red as she shifted in place.

"I uh...Things have gotten a bit awkward since Ecstasia," said Mosura.

"Awkward?" Sunset squinted. The mutant girl timidly nodded. Sunset felt her own face beginning to redden.

"W-What happened?" asked Sunset, now curious.

"I-I don't wanna say," Mosura squeaked. Sunset cupped a hand to her mouth.

"Mosu... You didn't..."

"I didn't say anything! Don't let your imagination run wild!" said Mosura.

"Oh geez. I don't even know if this world has condoms," said Sunset, biting her thumb.

"Shut up! That didn't happen!" said Mosura.

"Then what?" asked Sunset.

"Forget it! Why don't you talk to him about today?" asked Mosura.

"Wait, me?" asked Sunset.

"Yeah. I mean, I don't trust Adagio and Dwan hates him. The guys, I don't know can get him to open up. So that leaves you," said Mosura. Sunset scratched her chin thoughtfully.

"Well, I guess I can. I've been meaning to talk to him anyway," said Sunset, handing Mosura the feather duster. The mutant scowled.

"Hey, I didn't mean now."

Sunset walked around the house, searching high and low for the boy. A confused look was on her face.

"Hey, Rodan. Have you seen Goji?" asked Sunset. Rodan peered from a corner, carrying a wash cloth.

"Goji? Yeah, I think I saw him outside. Jerk's probably trying to push all of the work onto us," chuckled Rodan. Sunset softly chuckled.


Sunset quickly made her way out of the house. She looked around, her eyes squinting under the afternoon sun. She then found Junior carrying stacks of long grass over his shoulder. He approached the triceratops that pulled the wagon and dropped the grass down.

"There you go, Stinky," said Junior. The large reptile groaned as it stood up and approached the grass. It dipped its head and began to eat. Sunset smiled as she made her way over.

"Stinky? That doesn't seem like a nice name," said Sunset. Junior looked her way and then returned his attention onto the dinosaur.

"You don't think so? Have you smelled this thing's crap? It's like being at a dairy farm," said Junior.

"Ah. Have you ever been to one?" asked Sunset.

"Once. For a field trip in elementary school," answered Junior. They were silent with only the sound of the triceratops eating being present.

"We shouldn't be here," said Junior. Sunset looked at him, surprised by him suddenly speaking up.

"Goji... About what Selena told us..."

"This isn't a safe place to be. I can feel it," said Junior.

"Gojira, are you sure you're not letting your personal feelings get into this?" asked Sunset. Junior sighed.

"Is it that obvious?" asked Junior.


"Like Mosu and Shy, you seem to know what's on my mind," said Junior.

"Yeah, they do. But I think I'm better at knowing how you feel," said Sunset.


"Yeah. I guess you can call me an 'Empath'. I always had a knack for knowing how most people feel. Kinda funny how that's one of my powers now too," said Sunset with a small laugh. She found that Junior wasn't amused. He just kept staring to the ground. Sunset cleared her throat.

"Listen, I lost a parent too. I know how it feels. Someone you know and loved to suddenly be gone, and only having one other person to look after you. But hey, at least your dad came back. Not all of us are as lucky," said Sunset. Junior frowned.

"True, but even still, I think we adapted very differently," said Junior.

"Everyone does. Doesn't mean we can't look out for each other," said Sunset, a warm smile on her face. Junior sighed.

"It just bothers me. Why would they leave? I mean, these men were fathers, sons, brothers, cousins... Just... How can any father leave like that?" asked Junior. Sunset didn't have to guess. She knew that the boy was thinking of his own father when he asked that question. While she didn't know Gojira Senior very well, she knew that he must've loved his family enough if he decided to come back. Sunset placed a comforting hand on Junior's shoulder.

"That's what we're here to find out," said Sunset.

There was a sudden horn that blew. Junior and Sunset whipped around, hearing the low bellow of the horn. Birds began to fly away from the tall grass fields beyond the village. Junior felt himself growing more alert, his nerves tensing.

"What is that?" Junior squinted. The two heard feminine screams. They found that the villagers were running away, tripping over themselves.

Junior and Sunset turned to find that from the tall grass, large inhuman creatures came sprinting out. The teens' eyes widened as a group of them burst out from hiding. They were anthropomorphic lizards. They were covered from head to toe in bright colorful scales. They had human-like torsos and stood upright or hunched over. Their head shapes varied, but they were certainly lizard like, with narrow snouts and jaws full of sharp teeth. They bore black eyes that stared at the village. They appeared ravenous, as they stood naked and slobbered at the mouth. One of them, bearing a crest of quills over its skull gave a loud shriek, causing more of the villagers to flee in fright.

"Oh God!" exclaimed Sunset.

"Well, looks like the story is partially verified," said Junior. He gasped as he found a villager trip over herself and fell to the ground. The crested lizard snarled as it dropped to all fours and began to sprint to her. The woman screamed as she shielded her face, bracing for her demise.

Junior had suddenly slammed into the lizard, knocking it back off of its feet. The lizard hissed as it glared at the boy, while Junior stood tall, towering just a foot over the beast, his expression hard. The villager took the opportunity to escape. The rest of the pack of lizards rushed over, slamming their hands to the ground, shrieking at Junior. The boy looked at his left arm, finding it still wrapped in cloth. He removed the cloth and threw it aside. He raised both fists, keeping a brave face. While he was confident in taking on one of these monsters, he didn't know about multiple. After all, he didn't know what they were capable of. One in particular was larger than the rest, appearing more crocodile-like compared to the others. It had a bulky body, covered in rough scales, and with a crocodile head to boot. The crested lizard seemed to bark, prompting the crocodile to bellow as it lunged for Junior, opening its jaws wide.

The crocodile man was then struck by a bolt of flame, causing it to drop down and roll along the dirt in pain. Junior turned, finding Sunset charging over, her hands covered in flames. She quickly stepped to Junior's side and stood back to back with him.

"You know, I hate it when you try to pick a fight! Especially on your own!" said Sunset.

"Hey, I don't start fights. I just finish them," said Junior. A lizard man lunged for Junior. The boy swiftly landed an uppercut at the creature's jaw, causing it to fall back, as teeth fell from its mouth. Another lizard man facing Sunset's direction lunged as well. The fire haired teen reached to her palm, drawing out a magic tendril. She swung the tendril like a whip, wrapping the creature by the muzzle. She ran towards it and raised a boot, as her sole began to glow a teal aura. She kicked the creature with a magic enhanced strike, sending it flying a couple feet away. Sunset retreated to Junior's back, as the lizards began to circle the two.

"Don't worry, I got your six," said Junior, his eyes hardening.

"And I got yours," said Sunset. The lizards began to strike at once.

"Duck!" cried Junior. Sunset did as told. She gasped as she found herself spun with Junior, who met the crocodile man with a slash of his own reptilian claws. The creature bellowed as it stumbled back, clutching its face that now bore deep gashes. While Sunset was low, she found that another lizard man was nearing Junior's back, its jaws wide open. On instinct, her hand flashed with flame. She shot upright with her fist, sending a flaming punch against the lizard. The creature backed off, its face covered in burns.

"Goji, boost me!" cried Sunset. Junior sent her a brief look of confusion but nodded. He quickly turned to face her, which was a dangerous thing to do around bloodthirsty lizard men, but he trusted the girl. Sunset rushed over to the boy, who had his arms lowered, while slightly crouched. She jumped and stepped onto his hands, allowing Junior to send her flying several feet high up into the air. Sunset raised her glowing hands, as her hair began to flow in the wind. She was levitating in midair as her hands glowed brighter.

"Get back!!" cried Sunset. Junior quickly ran back, as the reptilians looked up at her, eyes wide. The girl sent forth a large beam down to the earth, just near their feet. The beam caused an explosive force that sent them flying back. The lizards slammed to the ground, covered in burns and bruises, while winded from the concussive force the spell had on them. They scampered to their feet and retreated back to the forest. Sunset suddenly dropped from the air with a yelp. Before she could slam to the ground, Junior swept in and caught her. She found Junior panting as he held her bridal style. Sunset smirked. She suddenly rested her head on the boy, while wrapping her arms around him and raised a leg.

"My hero~!" said Sunset teasingly.

"You're the one who saved my skin," said Junior with a chuckle, before setting Sunset down to her feet. The two turned to find the lizards retreating back to the tall grass. Not before the crested one turned back and shrieked at the two. It then joined its pack into the grass.

"I gotta say, you hold your own pretty well," said Junior in approval.

"Ah you know. I was kind of a delinquent myself back then," said Sunset.

"Really?" Junior cocked a brow. Sunset a cupped a hand to her mouth.

"Oop! I wasn't supposed to say that out loud," said Sunset, berating herself.

"I'd like to hear that story sometime," said Junior. Sunset awkwardly glanced at the boy. She then lightly smiled.

"Maybe someday," said Sunset. The two noticed the rest of their group to be rushing outside.

"Whoa! What the heck happened?!" exclaimed Rodan.

"What I was afraid of. Trouble," said Junior. There was a sudden eruption of cheers from the villagers, as they emerged from hiding. Junior and Sunset shared an awkward smile as they were praised for their feat. Junior suddenly found Selena running by, a bright smile on her face.

"Incredible! You two single handily sent those dreadful lizard men away!" said Selena, hugging Junior tightly. Mosura sighed in annoyance, while Adagio walked over to Junior.

"Hey, Selena. Remember, my man," said Adagio with a smirk.

"Oh! I apologize! I-I'm just so overjoyed!" said Selena with an embarrassed titter.

"He's not your man!" said Mosura in annoyance.

"He's not exactly yours, neither," said Rodan under his breath. He was met with a smack on the shoulder by the girl, who glared at him.

"Those were the things that you were talking about? I thought that your men were supposed to fight them off," said Junior.

"Usually they don't come here. Something must be wrong," said Selena, her expression turning to worry. Tria stepped forward.

"We may have to contact the Zetas. Only they may be able to help us," said Tria.

It was evening. The sky had darkened, with a full moon hanging high in the sky. The village of Eloi was silent for the most part. But in the center of this village, there stood a large obelisk. It was etched with foreign symbols along its sides.

Around the obelisk, torches stood, being lit up by women dressed in brown robes. There was a quire of Eloi vocalizing, their tone ranging from low to high. Tria walked to a large tub, where tons of dry grass and wood was placed. She lit the tub up, causing a greater flame to rise. She then took a powder from her robe and threw it into the flame, causing it to burst and grow brighter.

Meanwhile, Junior and gang stood by the sidelines with the rest of the villagers. They watched as this ritual took place. Junior shook his head, crossing his arms.

"Question, has anyone ever seen the Zetas?" asked Junior.

"Hold on, let's see what happens," said Angirasu. Junior sighed.

"Prayers aren't gonna stop a bunch of lizard men from attacking," said Junior.

"Oh, great Zetas! Head our call! The people of Eloi plead for your help!" cried Tria, raising her hands, standing before the flames. As the chants grew, the fires grew more intense. A sudden gust of wind filled the area.

"Whoa," said Rodan, growing anxious. Adagio gasped as a light above the obelisk appeared.

"Look!" Said Adagio, pointing. The teens were in shock as the light grew brighter.

From the smoke, above the obelisk, an apparition appeared. The apparition appeared as a metallic head, with a sleek curved dome. It bore large black eyes, almost like an insect's. A trunk-like protrusion hung from the face of this mysterious being.

"Oh shit!" exclaimed Dwan in shock and awe.

"Who summons me?" The being spoke in a distorted voice.

"Oh great Zeta, we summon you in need of your power," said Tria, as she and the other villagers bowed to the apparition.

"The lizard men had attacked our village. We're vulnerable to these savage monsters. We plea for your help," said Tria.

"To prevent future attacks, you must send forth any man or boy in your village," said the Zeta. The villagers began to murmur amongst themselves. Junior bore an incredulous look as he had this.

"But.. T-The only males we have left are but children," said Tria.

"They will do. Our divine power will infuse them with the strength needed to finally conquer your enemies," said the Zeta.

"But they are still young! They can not make the journey, let alone plant a seed for future generations!" said Tria.

"It is our will. If you will not offer up your sacrifice, then you shall not receive salvation," said the Zeta. In just moments, the apparition faded from sight. The flames were doused in an instant, leaving nothing but the darkness of night. The village was full of murmurs of distress.

"No way," said Junior in disbelief.

It was the early next morning. Junior was sitting outside of the house that he and his friends were staying in. He had his brows furrowed as he looked to the villagers. It was solemn, with no one saying a word to another. No children were out playing on this day.

"Unbelievable," said Junior, shaking his head. Selena was making her way over, a frown on her face.

"I... I wanted to see if you and your friends were alright," said Selena.

"Maybe you should worry about your own people," said Junior with a glare. Selena flinched.

"I-I just..."

"Just beat it. I don't want to look at any your faces," said Junior.

"Hey! Hey! That's no way to talk to girl that's trying to be nice," said Adagio, walking over with a disapproving look. She was followed by the rest of the gang.

"I don't care. I can't believe these women are considering sending off their young sons off to God knows where," said Junior.

"Gojira, not everyone agrees with it. But what choice do we have?" asked Selena.

"How about not complying with this nonsense just for cheap promises of safety? I'm not a religious guy, but if I was, I sure wouldn't put my faith in whatever the hell that thing was," said Junior.

"But it's the only way we can go on. These lizard men have brought years of pain and suffering that has lead us to this point," said Selena.

"If those things are so bad, then why not abandon this village? It seems like more trouble than it's worth," said Junior.

"We don't even know what dangers lie beyond. We just have to keep our faith that the Zetas will deliver us," said Selena. Junior hardened his expression.

"These Zetas are exploiting you. Why can't they do something themselves? What do they want with the men?" asked Junior incredulously. Selena didn't answer. The boy shook his head.

"Your village isn't long for this world. You know that, right?" asked Junior. "In the end, you brought this on yourselves,"

"Gojira!" exclaimed Mosura in shock. The rest looked to the boy in disapproval.

"That's pretty harsh, bro," said Rodan.

"Look, they consented to it. They allowed their fear to drive them and cast off half their village, leaving them more vulnerable than ever," said Junior.

"Then help us! Protect us from the lizards!" pleaded Selena.

"Selena, we can't stick around and protect you forever. We have friends that we have to find," said Junior.

"Goji..." Adagio frowned. Junior sighed in exasperation, turning his attention to the Dazzling.

"Look, I sympathize with their situation. I really do. But we can't help them," said Junior. Selena trembled, clenching his fist close to her chest.

"T-Then let us bear your children!" cried Selena. Junior gasped as he recoiled in shock.

"Huh?!" Adagio went slack jawed.

"What the fuck?!" Mosura exclaimed.

"Did I just hear-" Rodan was blushing furiously.

"Please! There are three young men among you! If you cant protect us, the least you can do is leave us sons to continue our legacy," said Selena. Dwan then clung herself onto Angirasu, holding him rather tightly.

"Nice Aang is Mine!" Dwan growled, holding Aang possessively.

"OK, first off! What are the odds of us giving you sons? Besides, you're just gonna send them off like the others! Secondly, I'm not impregnating girls that I barely know, let alone don't have feelings for!" said Junior.

"Oh thank God," said Mosura in relief.

"Yeah, I have to agree. I'm not fond of the thought of leaving behind a girl with my child we conceived to raise alone," said Angirasu.

"Ugh. Yeah, that'd make us pretty lousy," said Rodan scratching his head. Selena sniffled as her eyes welled up with tears.

"So you won't lift a finger to help us at all?" whimpered Selena. Junior grimaced.

"Please don't cry," said Junior.

"Go ahead and cry, Selena. Make this heartless jerk feel guilty," said Dwan.

"I'm not heartless! I-" Junior was interrupted as Selena broke into a sob. As she cried, the hearts of the teens ached. Adagio looked to Junior.

"Come on. There's gotta be something we can do," said Adagio. Junior sighed as he scratched his head. Sunset was looking down in thought.

"I think I know," said Sunset.

Later that day, Junior and the gang were in the process of doing hard manual labor. Junior and Angirasu hauled over a large heavy log, while Rodan pulled along a sled, with piles of stone stacked on. He grunted as he pulled with all of his might.

Meanwhile, the girls were fortifying the houses in the village. They took bundles of sticks and planks of wood. Sunset was hammering a metallic hinge onto a door frame. She held up a plank of wood to the door, checking to see if it was the correct length and width to use for barricading the door.

Mosura grunted as she sawed at gathered wood, while Adagio and Dwan dug holes outside of the village. Some of the villagers pitched in as well, following the instructions of their guests.

The remainder of the day was long and hard. With nightfall approaching, the working had ceased. The teens were seated and slouched around the house they were in.

"Whatever happened to resting for a few days?" asked Dwan.

"You guys wanted to stop traveling for a few days. You never said anything about not working," deadpanned Junior.

"Semantics," retorted Dwan.

"Well, at least we can help these people protect themselves," said Adagio.

"Yeah, but a few traps and fortifications can only do so much. They have to fight," said Angirasu.

"Bbut these people are living like livestock. They rely on their 'gods' to give them food and protection by sacrificing their own. I don't have confidence in them fighting off lizardmen. You saw them yesterday," said Junior.

"You may have a point," sighed Sunset. She sat up and faced her friends.

"OK, let’s review. What do we have set up?" asked Sunset.

"Aside from the barricades for some of the houses, we have a couple of pits dug in certain spots. All covered up in leaves," said Angirasu.

"So more of those?" asked Sunset, looking to Junior.

"Yeah. But if we're talking about dangerous lizard men, then we should make the traps more lethal. How does a spike pit sound?" asked Junior.

"Gruesome, but that will work," said Sunset with a nod.

"What if we took the fight to those monsters? That way these people won't have to worry when we leave," suggested Adagio.

"Too risky. We don't know the land. That could be to their advantage. Besides, we take them out, it's only a matter of time until something else threatens these people," said Junior. Mosura sighed in exasperation.

"This is frustrating! It's like nothing we do can truly help them," said Mosura solemnly.

"Seems that way," sighed Rodan.

"Let's call it a night, guys. All we can do is what we can," said Junior as he stood up.

As the teens entered the house, they went to the couple of rooms that were available. The girls shared a single room, with mattresses on the wooden floor. Adagio was staring up at the ceiling. She hadn't been able to sleep a wink.

Adagio quietly got up and left the room. Her bare feet stepped over the cold wooden floor of the house. She took a cup from the kitchen area of the house and poured water from a clay pitcher. After taking a drink, she noticed that the front door was open just a crack. The Dazzling tip toed over and peeked through. She found Junior sitting alone outside. Adagio took a step back. She began to brush her hair out of her face, while adjusting her top.

The girl stepped out of the house, tip toeing over to Junior. She had her hands raised, wiggling her fingers in a mischievous manner.

"It's late you know," said Junior. Adagio froze in place.

"Come have a seat," said Junior, patting the porch next to himself. Adagio gave a pout as she took a seat next to the boy.

"Since when did you get a sixth sense?" asked Adagio.

"I'm just alert. I had a hard time sleeping," said Junior, glancing at Adagio. The Dazzling's expression softened.

"You too, huh?" asked Adagio. The boy merely nodded.


"Well, a bit. I don't know. I guess I'm just home sick. Plus I'm worried about my little sisters," said Adagio.

"Then why didn't you stay with them?" asked Junior.

"Ah. They're big girls. They can take care of themselves. It's just a big sister's nature to get worried," said Adagio, stretching her arms forward. She then looked at Junior with a flirtatious smile.

"Besides, I'd just be worried about you if I stayed," said Adagio. Junior softly chuckled.

"What's so funny?" asked Adagio in offense.

"Nothing. I just kinda miss you flirting with me," said Junior. Adagio softly gasped, her cheeks growing red.

"Y-You do?" asked Adagio.

"Yeah. It keeps me at ease that your still yourself after all that's happened," said Junior.

"Oh, is that all?" asked Adagio, a tad disappointed.

"Yeah, I've been worried about you. It's part of the reason why I'm up. Those things could be lurking," said Junior, turning his attention to the tall grasslands.

"Honestly, I don't know if we can be much help to these people. We have our priorities and it seems like they're at the point of no return," said Junior. Adagio frowned.

"You really think so?" asked Adagio.

"Yeah," said Junior. Adagio sighed.

"You know, seeing their faces after that day has gotten to me," said Adagio. Junior glanced at the Dazzling, seeing that she was holding her arms, appearing sympathetic.

"It must have been how I looked when faced with a predator of my own," said Adagio. Her lips were quivering as she sniffled. The boy frowned.

"I just... I don't understand why they have to be in their position. Or why I was," said Adagio. "I mean... they brought it on themselves, right? I guess I did too, with all of the terrible things I did."

"Ada..." Junior turned to face the girl. Adagio had broken into a sob, burying her face into her hands.

"Adagio, listen to me," said Junior, firmly. The girl kept crying, but her ears still picked up on his words.

"Look, what happened to you is not the same thing as what the Eloi did. While yes, you were careless and acted out, that was different compared to what happened to them," said Junior.

"How?" muttered Adagio.

"Adagio, what happened to the Eloi is pretty much as old as human existence. When a population gets traumatized to the point that almost everyone is reacting on base instincts, that leaves them vulnerable to being manipulated. It's what happened to us in our world," said Junior, prompting Adagio to look his way, her face red and stained with hot tears.

"MONARCH, the Purists, the Revolutionaries, any terrorist organization, or even our own government being basically a police state was brought on ourselves in a way," said Junior.

"But you're a mutant. How can you say the Purists were brought on by yourself?" asked Adagio incredulously.

"Believe me, it's not something I like saying. But I've thought about it for a while and even looked to some who asked questions," said Junior. "When I say this though, I mean collectively. We, as people, have a collective consciousness. Sometimes, when the majority has a similar thought, it can carry on and determine what happens within a population."

"You're gonna have to explain that to me. I-I don't..." Adagio sniffled, appearing puzzled.

"Well like... Think of it this way. Remember the 'Uprising of Solgell'? The trauma from that led to the 'Inhibitor Act', which allowed the government to enforce inhibitor chip implantation in mutants as far as in the womb. Transmutants were seen as rabid animals that needed to be tamed. But in all honesty, who could blame them? After what my dad did, I probably would've felt the same way," said Junior, his expression solemn. He made sure that Adagio was listening, which she was given that her puffy eyes were on him.

"That entire thing led to a domino effect. The slavery of mutants by corporations in Solgell led to the first Revolutionaries. That led to the war, then the government seeking ways to keep mutants in line. This led to more mutants to start attacks, which led to MONARCH, and the Purists. And what next? Well, it keeps going back and forth. But on every side, people consented to it. People allowed these forces to run free or said nothing because they thought they'd feel safe. The Purists and MONARCH made humans feel safe from mutants, and the Revolutionaries made the Transmutants feel safe from the humans that hated them," said Junior.

"That's... depressing. So, basically these things wouldn't have so much power over us if we didn't just go along with it?" asked Adagio.

"Well, it's very broad to say that all of us went along with it. I sure as hell didn't. It's just the unfortunate reality. I think a healthy mindset would be is to not put your emotions into it so much if you hadn't personally contributed. I mean, I never praised the Revolutionaries for the things they do. Just like you don't praise the Purists for what they do. Does that make sense?" asked Junior.

"I think so," answered Adagio.

"Sorry, I was rambling. Look, the point is, don't view what I said to apply to you. You didn't deserve being attacked. As callous as I am with the Eloi right now, I don't think they deserve what's happened to them. They just made bad calls and now they're reaping what's been sown. I wish we can do more, but we'd have to live here if we wanted to help. But I don't plan on sticking around," said Junior. Adagio chuckled.

"Yeah, I don't like the idea of any of those girls making you have their children," said Adagio. The two shared a laugh. Adagio scooted closer to Junior and leaned against his shoulder. She sighed as she relaxed against the boy, feeling a sense of security being this close to him. How she wished she had this feeling back in Equestria when she felt in danger.

"You should head inside. It's late," said Junior. Adagio merely wrapped her arm around the boy's. She leaned her head closer against him.

"I rather hang with you, if it's all the same," said Adagio.

"O-OK. But do you mind? I can feel them," muttered Junior, glancing at his arm. He found Adagio's chest pressed against him, cushioning his arm. Adagio giggled with a cheeky smile.

"They're just boobs. They won't hurt you," said Adagio.

"No, but..." Junior gulped.

"Alright, then let me sit on your lap," said Adagio.

"Bad idea," said Junior quickly. Adagio giggled in response. She sighed and brought the boy's arm around her shoulders.

"Just kidding," said Adagio.

It was the next day. Junior and the gang continued to help fortify the village of the Eloi.

Though at the moment, Junior was staring at the obelisk that stood in the center of the village. He bore an analytical look.

"Hey Goji. What are you doing?" asked Sunset, walking by.

"This thing," said Junior. Sunset looked at him and then looked to the object.

"There's something about what we saw that doesn't sit right with me," said Junior.

"You mean how creepy the Zetas look?" asked Sunset.

"Well, yes. But no. No, it's just something about this whole thing. What kind of deities are called 'Zetas'? What does it mean?" asked Junior.

"Well, it does seem odd for a name. I'd imagine something more mystical sounding," said Sunset.

"I wonder... who made this?" asked Junior.

"Huh?" Sunset.

"The obelisk. Who made it? Why? How do they know it contacts the Zetas?" asked Junior as he began to look over the structure.

"It could function in ways we can't understand," said Sunset.

"I thought you were a brainiac," said Junior.

"Only in stuff related to engineering and math. I'm a dunce when it comes to magic and the supernatural," said Sunset.

"Ugh. Whatever. I just hope-"

"Goji!" Rodan called out. Junior and Sunset turned to find Rodan rushing over.

"What's up?" asked Junior in worry, finding the urgent look that Rodan had.

"We caught one of those things in one of the traps! Come on!" said Rodan before running off. Both Sunset and Junior took off running after him. They were just outside of the town near the tall grasslands. They found Angirasu kneeling by the pit, looking down.

"Look! It's right down there!" said Rodan, pointing. Junior and Sunset looked down into the pit, finding a lizard man down below.

The creature was a forest green shade, with grey speckles on its body. It was much leaner than the others they've seen, with big yellow eyes. It bore a stubby snout and four clawed paws. The lizard scrapped at the walls frantically as it attempted to climb out. But the pit was much too deep and wide. It was impossible to get a grip onto the walls.

"You weren't kidding," said Sunset, wide eyed.

"So what do we do with it?" asked Angirasu.

"We could always roast it and have a nice meal," said Junior jokingly.

"You'll eat anything," said Sunset in amusement.

"I plead you! Have mercy!" cried a young, slightly rasped voice. The teens froze. They looked down to the pit, finding the reptilian to be looking up at them.

"You heard that too, right?" asked Rodan. "I mean, I'm still not trippin' on hallucinogens, am I?"

"Spare me, humans!" cried the lizard.

"They talk?!" cried Junior.

"Yeah and you were talking about cooking and eating it, you sicko," deadpanned Angirasu.

"I was kidding!" said Junior.

"Why are you attacking this village?" demanded Sunset.

"I was not attacking it," said the lizard.

"Oh yeah? What about your buddies? They caused plenty of trouble the other day!" said Junior.

"I am alone! I'm fleeing for my life!" said the lizard.

"Your life?" asked Rodan in confusion

"Well, you fled to the wrong place!" said Junior.

"Guys, wait! Maybe we should hear him out," suggested Angirasu.

"Hear him out?!" exclaimed Junior and Rodan in unison.

"Yeah. I mean, this one doesn't seem like the ones that you and Sunset fought. He might know something," said Angirasu. Sunset nodded in agreement.

"I'm with Aang. This could be a lead," said Sunset. Junior grumbled as he looked back down to the pit, where the lizard man stood.

Later, the lizard man found himself sitting in the middle of a house, his wrists and tail bounded in magic cuffs, courtesy of Sunset. The gang stood around, along with Tria and Selena.

"Alright, start talking," said Junior.

"I am called, Lightfoot. I come from the Lizard folk tribe known as the 'Tree Hoppers'."

"OK, 'Lightfoot'. Explain to me why your kind is terrorizing this small village? Is it for food? Trinkets? Or is it a pastime for you?" questioned Junior, narrowing his eyes. Lightfoot kept a brave look. His eyes locked with Junior's.

"While my kind vary on behavior, I assure you that my tribe and the crocodile folk tribe in this region are but a peaceful community. We harbor no ill will towards you humans or this village," said Lightfoot.

"Then why did four of you attack our village?" demanded Tria.

"Because they are but slaves," said Lightfoot.

"Explain," said Junior.

"It was 10 years ago. Our tribe was attacked and captured by mysterious men in armor. We've never seen anything like them. They took us and our crocodile neighbors from our home. Since then, we've been forced to toil away as slaves. Mining resources for them," said Lightfoot.

"Armored men?" Sunset asked.

"Some of us have even been corrupted in the mind as well. Turning us into violent savages for whatever deeds they planned for us. If what you said was true, then I believe the ones who attacked were my kin," said Lightfoot. Junior bore a pondering look. He wasn't sure if he could trust what this creature was saying. But, some things seemed to square with his story. After all, those lizards that attacked seemed much more animalistic than this one before him.

"Gojira, what if that's the reason why the Eloi were being attacked?" asked Sunset.

"Tria, I never asked. When did you the lizard men start attacking you?" asked Junior.

"About 8 years ago," answered Tria.

"So you guys have only been living like this for 8 years? Could you break down how exactly you worked out which males left to serve your gods? And where did that Obelisk come from?" asked Junior.

"The Obelisk just appeared one day, soon after the first attacks. We made contact with the Zetas, who requested we sacrifice one third of the adult men in our village, even the elders. By the years, that number increased, to the point where the last males to leave were around your age. This was a year ago," said Tria. Junior sighed as he scratched his head.

"And that didn't register as off to you?" asked Junior. Tria said nothing.

'Just stay on topic,' thought Junior, scolding himself.

"OK, something is definitely wrong around here," said Junior. He turned to Lightfoot with a firm expression.

"If we let you go, will you lead us to where you and your tribe are being held?" asked Junior.

"Only if you'll help me liberate them," replied Lightfoot.

"I can't promise anything, but we'll see," said Junior. Lightfoot then nodded to him. Junior sent Sunset a nod, prompting her to release Lightfoot of her spell. The lizard stood, rubbing his wrist.

"OK, lizard boy. Let's get going. I have somewhere else I need to be," said Junior.

"Cool. When are we going?" asked Rodan.

"Not everyone's coming. We need some to stay and look after the village. Too many of us going to this place is too risky," said Junior.

"Then who goes and who stays?" asked Adagio.

"We should have at least one mutant stay behind. Adagio, you stay since your powers allow for crowd control," said Junior. Adagio nodded with a mock salute.

"Dwan, you stay too," said Junior.

"Oh come on!" complained Dwan.

"If it's alright with you, Gojira. I think I should stay. I'm not exactly the stealthiest," said Angirasu. Dwan gasped, her mood lighting up.

"If you want. Rodan, Mosu, Sunset, you wanna come? Your magic might come in handy," said Junior. Sunset nodded with a determined smile.

"I got you, bro," said Rodan.

"Yeah," Mosura nodded.

"I-I'll come too!" said Selena.

"Ah... I don't think so," said Junior.

"Please? If it's where the Lizardmen are, then we might run into the men from our village. Perhaps the Zetas gave them another task. They might be trying to liberate them as we speak," said Selena. Junior glanced at his friends, who shrugged at him.

"Fine. Just stay low," said Junior.

It was later into the day. Junior found himself accompanied by Sunset, Mosura, Rodan and Selena. They followed Lightfoot across the land, passed the tall grass fields and away from the Eloi village. Selena took one last look back at the village, worry on her face.

"Come on. The faster we do this, the faster we get back," said Junior. This prompted Selena to jog after the group. The journey was quite long. They found themselves making their way to an empty field.

"So, Lightfoot. What's life like for you?" asked Sunset, hoping to strike a conversation to help pass the time.

"Before the slavery thing, of course," interjected Rodan.

"Life was relatively peaceful. My tribe dwelled on the tree tops in our forest. We built huts on the powerful branches of the great trees. As our name suggests, we utilized them for our daily lives," said Lightfoot.

"Ah. So you guys spend a lot of time above ground?" asked Mosura.

"Yes. It kept us out of reach of the dangerous beasts below, and proved as excellent resources for hunting, and battle" said Lightfoot.

"Battle? I thought you were peaceful," said Selena in confusion.

"Yes, we are peaceful. That does not mean that we are meek. We too at times have to fight for survival. We just do not seek fights," said Lightfoot.

"Did your tribe have a history of conflict?" asked Sunset.

"Not in my lifetime. Before, our neighbors the Moss Backs were our enemies. It took a pact between our tribes that led to peace," said Lightfoot.

"What kind of pact?" asked Rodan.

"The Moss Backs craved the fruits that grew on our trees. Because they could not climb our great trees, they only grabbed what fell. So as a peace offering, we trade them the fruits and they offered us protection on the ground," said Lightfoot.

"So just like that, you guys were at peace?" asked Junior in confusion.

"Yes." Lightfoot nodded.

"Huh. I guess Lizardmen are easier to please than most humans," said Sunset.

"I am ashamed," said Selena, prompting everyone to look her way. She had a grimace on her face.

"I grew up believing that your kind were but savage animals that wanted to feast on us. But here you show me that you are much more than what I thought. Just like us, you only wish to live in peace," said Selena. She bowed her head in shame.

"Forgive me for my ignorance, Lightfoot," said Selena.

"I hold no animosity to you. Most fear what they do not know. It is only natural for all living creatures. What sets us apart from the animals is that we are capable of seeing beneath the surface," said Lizardmen. Sunset nodded with a smile.

"Don't judge a book by its cover," said Sunset, glancing at Junior. The boy looked away, his eyes forward.

The group spent the whole day, walking across the land. The sun was setting, leading to the coming darkness of nightfall. The group soon came across a forest of dead bald trees. They stopped for the night to rest. They had sleeping bags set up, and a fire prepped, burning brightly. By now, the teens were cooking small rodent-like creatures that they had managed to catch.

"So how did you escape?" asked Junior, looking to Lightfoot.

"It was when our captors sought to corrupt more of us. While we were being taken to where the deed would be done, a Moss Back had broken free of his restraints and killed our escorts. That gave us an opportunity to escape," said Lightfoot.

"How many of you got out?" asked Junior.

"Most of us were caught inside of the fortress. The rest of us fled outside, but we separated. I don't even know if any of them are still out there. For all I know, they could have been recaptured if not killed," said Lightfoot, his tone solemn. Junior's expression softened.

"Do you... Do you have a family?" asked Selena.

"I did. Though I know not of their fate. Adolescents were separated from their parents," answered Lightfoot.

"I understand. I too lost family," said Selena. Junior sighed.

"It's getting late. Everyone eat up and get to bed," said Junior. Sunset looked his way, a soft expression on her face. There was that knot feeling again.