I tried to scream her name, but all that escaped my throat was a croaking sound due to my coração clogging my airways. It was as if I’d found Marlene and then lost her all over again. When I turned to go to her, I found a group of lobsters blocking my path.
“Oops,” one of the five said to me, though he obviously couldn’t care less. Rage churned in my stomach and simmered into my cheeks and I started forward.
“You son of a—!”
Let’s just say that the last part of that sentence was censored when all he was able to hear was the sound of my fist making friends with his jaw. I don’t think I need to explain that it wasn’t difficult to take out the other four lobsters. When you have the determination that I had at the moment, the Devil himself wouldn’t stand in your way.
After fighting the lobsters out of my way, I sprinted to the staircase that lead to the floor below and slid to her so fast that I honestly hardly remember doing it.
When I reached her, I dropped to my knees at her side. Yeah, I know, cliché much? But who said I cared? Marlene was unconscious and lying motionless on her side, but she was still alive. Seeing the rise and fall of her chest indicating that she was still breathing was a relief, but it still didn’t tell me if she was okay or if she was going to be. I gently shook her shoulder in hopes of receiving a response, but Marlene was out cold.
“You’re pathetic, Skipper.”
I turned around at the sound of Blowhole’s voice and found him standing behind me on his segway.
“Blowhole, I swear, you do not want to be in my peripheral vision right now,” I warned with the muscles in my body tensing with agitation as I got to my feet.
“Ooh, I’m so scared,” Blowhole sneered. “I’m actually very surprised at you, Skipper. I can’t believe you’re actually in love,” he said teasingly.
“And you know the meaning of the word?” I shot back.
“We villains only know of a different kind of love. It’s called power,” Blowhole answered. His smile widened so much that all I wanted to do was rip it off his face and cram it down his throat. Trust me, if you were in my situation and seeing the sadistic glee on his face, you would’ve felt the same way. Before I could say anything, he hit a button on his segway and a moment later, I was surrounded.
There was Mason, Phil, Ringtail, Maurice, Sad Eyes, Becky, and Stacy all standing around me, awaiting the order to rip my guts out. But just when I thought that was it…My team trailed in behind them.
They were wearing the same expression that the others were.
I don’t know how he managed to inject my men with that Serum, but I didn’t really care. All that mattered was that he did it in the first place.
“I’d like to see you amor your way out of this one, Skipper. Oh, how marvelous it will be to see you finally meet your doom. And por your own friends, of all things,” Blowhole taunted.
“You’re a coward! Why don’t you fight me yourself instead of sending someone to do it for you?!” I retorted.
“As much as I would absolutely adore pummelling you into the ground, Skipper, I’m afraid I have a show to watch. But don’t worry, I will be the one with the pleasure of finishing you off once and for all. Look on the bright side, you’ll get to say goodbye to your friends before you die. mais or less, that is,” Blowhole said moving to the other side of the lair.
I desperately clawed at different solutions in my mind, but my adrenaline was so high that I could barely make sense of what I was trying to find a solution to. Each segundo that ticked por was another segundo wasted. Was this really how it was going to end for me? Being pounded into dust por my own friends? The thought made me sick to my stomach. I heard Blowhole laugh from across the room.
“It’s so amusing to see you indefinitely helpless, Skipper. But, I’m afraid I’ve grown quite bored of just watching you fidget. Minions, bring Skipper to me on his knees,” he ordered them.
Becky and Stacy both lunged at me simultaneously and I pomba to the side, sliding away from Marlene. I didn’t want her to accidentally get hurt in the middle of my fight. Or one-sided fight, rather.
I didn’t get far before someone else was on topo, início of me. I drove my elbow into a ribcage and was able to grab a precious segundo to get to my feet just as Mason’s fist crashed down where my head had been just a segundo ago. Had he always been that strong?
I’ve battled the strongest of foes before, been surrounded por far worse, and never have I been so frightened. Yes, you heard me. I was frightened. Not of losing, not of my friends, but the fact that if I did lose, who knows what Blowhole would do to them? That, and the fact that I didn’t know how to win this without harming any of them. Blowhole was right, I couldn’t amor my way out of this one.
When I turned back around I barely had time to react before Kowalski made a jab for my jaw, but I did manage to block the attack and push him back a few feet. In the seguinte second, I was somersaulting between Phil and Mason’s grasp and backflipping over Sad Eyes. Unfortunately, the attacks were just coming too fast and I couldn’t dodge the fierce blow that Rico delivered to my temple and I was thrown on my backside with stars exploding in my vision.
Before I could regain my footing, Kowalski had me pinned to the ground por my shoulders. I struggled against his grip, but I underestimated Kowalski’s strength and he reared his fist back and brought it down into my jaw, causing me to black out for a second. As I tried to regain my sight, I heard something, along with the tickle of air brushing past my ear hole.
“Sorry, Skipper, but I had to do that.”
It took me a moment to realize that it was Kowalski. I turned my numb head around to see him and through my groggy vision, I could see him shaking his head at me before he lurched back when a pair of hands pushed him off of me.
Finally, my vision cleared enough to see what was going on and I rolled out of the way before Rico caught my gut with a lead hammer. When I pushed myself to my feet, my eyes found Kowalski, who was poising himself for another attack.
Of course what’d I’d heard was just the fuzziness of my mind getting to me. How convenient would it be for Kowalski to not be affected por the Serum? It was too good to be true. Then again, there was something about his expression that separated himself from the others…
It wasn’t blank.
In fact, it looked concentrated. His eyes flitted back and forth between my opponents and I. I had to avert my curiosity when Mort pounced on my back and pulled at the feathers on my head…And I think he was biting me…
I cried out in frustration and thrashed back and forth, trying to shake him off, but the little guy had a death grip onto me. I felt a few of my feathers pluck free and an extremely annoying itchy sensation replaced them. I was so frustrated that I wasn’t watching where I was going and stumbled right into Ringtail’s fist.
And I thought Mort was bothering me. Now I was being beaten up por Ringtail? That was not going to fly. Finally, I managed to wrench Sad Eyes off of me and before I could react, Becky and Stacy got their chance to take me to the ground.
I was too outnumbered. One against ten. And I was the one covered in lacerations and running out of breath. Me thinking that I had a chance at winning without hurting them was like thinking that Alice would be elected President of the United States: unlikely.
After a couple mais minutes, I realized that they were just toying with me because the chimps grabbed my flippers and restrained me. They could’ve done that before now, but I suppose they were getting bored. As I pulled and thrashed to free myself, Kowalski strided up to me and drove his fist into my gut, knocking the wind out of me. With his fist still digging into my abdomen, he leaned into the side of my face.
“Hang in there, Skipper,” he whispered, “once we get close enough to Blowhole, this will all be over.” He pulled back and turned to follow the others, who were making their way to Blowhole’s position. Phil and Mason yanked at my flippers and dragged me along. I was too weak to object.
When we reached Blowhole, the simians threw me forward, causing me to land on my knees in front of him. Just like he wanted. I kept myself propped up por my flippers and took deep breaths. Blowhole’s satisfaction was so great that I could feel it por just being near him, as if he was crawling inside my head.
“This was much simpler that I thought it’d be,” I heard Blowhole say. I lifted my head slowly, first seeing the wheel of his segway, then his body, then his face. I didn’t know it was possible to smile that wide…Or that demonically. My anger was so vehement that I swear I could feel heat radiating off of my body like a demon with a fever. I jerked progressivo, para a frente slightly with intention of barrelling into him, but stopped abruptly when Blowhole waved his flipper side to side and said, “Ah, ah, ah. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
At first I was confused, but a sound caught my attention from my left. A couple of lobsters were holding Marlene—still unconscious—and had a blade to her jugular. My breath caught in my throat and I glanced at Kowalski, who was doing his best to keep his eyes blank and emotionless. When I turned back to Blowhole, his expression was unchanged. I felt like a small child being bullied por a kid four times my own size—powerless. I could only think to do one thing, something that I’d never imagined that I’d be forced to do for any enemy of mine. I pleaded.
“Blowhole, leave her out of this. Leave them all out of this! Just take me instead!”
Blowhole’s eyes twinkled with cruel glee and he threw his head back laughing. When he regained his composure, he looked back to me with a sigh.
“First, I get to watch you get beaten into a pulp and now you’re begging? Oh, this is certainly one of the greatest dia of my life por far.”
I shook my head. “Nobody deserves to die because of me. Blowhole, please let them go.”
I fought back the tears that were pooling in my eyes and swallowed the lump in my throat. The seguinte words that I allowed to leave my beak felt like I was barfing up hot coals and I couldn’t bring myself to say it to his face. So, I looked down and said to the floor instead.
“I’ll do anything.”
And I meant it. I know it was taking a risk, considering Blowhole was never one to keep his word, but I didn’t have many options. I would do anything to keep my friends safe. I would sell my soul to Satan himself if it were the only way to keep them from harm.
“Anything, you say?” Blowhole purred. “How noble of you. But I already told you that I don’t negotiate with my enemies.”
“Then do it! Kill me! What are you waiting for!?” I screamed. I really don’t know why I was rushing it. I think I was just so exhausted—and possibly suffering from a concussion—to realize what I was saying.
“And make it so quick? Where’s the fun in that? The longer I make you suffer, the mais satisfying my revenge will be,” Blowhole cooed.
I looked back to Marlene, who was still resting in a lobster’s claws and a blade poised to lacerate her throat. My eyes found the lemurs, who were standing a few feet away. Then I turned to my right, where the badgers and chimps were. Finally, I let my eyes find Rico and Private, who were awaiting their orders from behind me. When I looked back to Blowhole, I got to my feet.
“Let me tell you something, Blowhole. There’s something you’ll never understand. It’s called sacrifice. It’s new, you should look it up sometime. And when you truly care about someone, you’ll do anything to protect them. No matter what it takes,” I said.
“Is there supposed to be some kind of point in telling me this? Because I’m starting to get a little bored,” Blowhole said with a fake yawn.
“No real point. I just wanted you to make a little mais sense on what’s gonna happen next,” I answered, unable to hold back the grin forming on my face. Blowhole’s expression went from mock fatigue to confusion just as Kowalski—who’d snuck away from the group and made his way to the upper platform about four minutos ago—pounced down onto him.
Without seeing how it played out, I charged for the lagosta threatening Marlene’s life and took him and his friend out in the midst of their shock. I whipped around and kicked Rico in the gut as he advanced, causing him to regurgitate a smoke bomb. It was unintentional, but I was glad it happened. Unable to see a thing, I picked Marlene up and took off in a direction seeking clean air and light. When I got clear of the smoke, I laid Marlene down and turned back. The smoke was starting to fã out and I could make out figures stumbling into each other.
This was going to end now.
I turned and saw a lagosta minion retreating to bring back reinforcements. I charged after him and took him to the ground.
“Tell me how to stop it!” I ordered into his ear.
“Stop what?!” he asked struggling against my grip.
“The Serum! How do you counteract it?!” I answered.
“You think I know?!”
“Don’t give me that! Why wouldn’t you?!” I asked pressing his face harder into the cold, concrete floor.
“Only Dr. Blowhole knows! I just work for him! Why would he give valuable information like that to me!?”
I leaned in closer to his face and hissed, “Look, crustacean, I happen to know what Blowhole threatens you with when you pergunta him. Don’t think I don’t know about that pot of boiling water he keeps in the back. So, unless you want to go for a quick swim, you’d better talk.”
For a moment, he looked at me out of the corner of his eye, surveying the seriousness of my expression. He cursed under his breath.
“The trigger word is ‘mastermind’. But it only works if it comes from Blowhole’s voice pattern,” he told me. I nodded.
“Much obliged,” I said before I knocked his lights out.
I turned around and saw that the smoke had cleared and my friends were just now realizing that Kowalski was attacking Blowhole and were advancing to help him—Blowhole, I mean. I charged forward, knowing that I only had a few precious segundos to stop them before it was over. As much as I hated doing what I had to do, I had no other alternative. At least, not one that I could fulfill before it was too late. I had to take out all nine of Blowhole’s minions.
And por Blowhole’s minions, I mean my friends.