Bad news

"Skipper!" Toby’s voice echoed down the tunnel moments before he emerged around the bend and came running down the straight away. His eyes were frantic as he reached Skipper. He skidded to a clumsy stop on the muddy ground crashing into Skipper. Skipper steadied him looking him over with a quizzical brow.

"Are you okay Toby."

"Is everything alright?" Kat asked knowing full well it was not. "Did you find the Hellman still exists?"

Toby shook his head frantically. He's eyes seemed to say, worse.

He leaned and whispered quickly into Skippers ear. Skipper frowned trying to decipher Toby's hurried whispered speech. However, that confusion slowly turned to a horrified comprehension, the color drained from his skin. He turned to face Kat an expression of the utmost sympathy on his face. Toby gave her an apologetic look. Kat felt like the floor had just been pulled out from under her. She felt dizzy. Her breath grew short. She took a wobbly step to Skipper. Toby rushed to her side. He caught her by the arm.

"I'm sorry Kat. We can still do something. They won't bring him here for a couple of more days." Toby looked over to Skipper for support. Skipper was little help.  He looked miserably towards the cage his eyes unfocused as he slumped to the ground.

Kat turned to Toby.

"Who told you? How did you find out? Do you know if they found my mother?" She asked, tears running uncontrolled down her face.

"No, no news of your mother."

Kat tried to take this as good news. At least this meant her mother was ok, but no news, wasn't necessarily good news. Kat steadied herself against Toby. She removed his arm from hers with a determined gesture. She clutched her fists tightly together and cleared her throat.

"Well this is an interesting development." She said in an indifferent voice that shook even herself with its control. She turned to Skipper.

"You get your wish. You don't have to use me. We can use the real thing."

Skipper looked at her as if she were crazy but he didn't protest.

"What exactly are you planning?" He asked.

"We put my father into there and we find some way to make it work."

"Kat that's insane Stratagus will never let that be so!" Skipper shouted. "Look I know your upset but this won't work and your risking more than your own life!"

"Well Stratagus is going to have to find another way to satisfy his grudge. He's not the only one who is willing to kill to get what he wants!" Kat hissed fiercely.

Skipper sighed pityingly, feeling too sorry for her to be angry with her.

"Emmlia won't like it. You heard what she said. Look Kat twenty years ago we put our all into saving Adrian Parker. We risked everything and we've been paying for that decision for twenty years only to have it come full swing! What are we doing now? saving Adrian Parker! What else is new? Nothing. I've lived long enough to know that nothing will change and unlike you I know when to stop." Skipper explained as kindly as he could but there was an undeniable undertone of bitterness. He turned.

"I can't help you. We can't go public Stratagus will hurt anyone how helped us and we promised Emmlia to leave her and Gword out of it but I can guarantee Stratagus will do that so I'm out. Kat I'm sorry."  Skipper said over his shoulder. He strode off down the tunnel. Kat watched him go her heart caught in her throat. She opened her mouth to call out to him, to make him stay. But her pride reached up and blocked the words from leaving her lips.

Kat shut her mouth defiantly, clenching her teeth tightly together. She growled in frustration as Skipper disappeared into the engulfing darkness of the tunnel.

"I think I found the Hellman demon." Toby joked, laughing lightly. Kat turned and glared at him. She began gathering all their tools.

"Kat." Toby called softly.

"What?" Kat demanded without looking at him.

"Whoa…you and Stratagus have a lot in common actually.”  Toby mused aloud. Kat whipped around affronted. “You both blame the messenger." He finished.

Kat straightened up and fixed Toby with a venomous stare. Toby didn't flinch he took a step towards her.

"What do you want?!" Kat demanded pointedly.

"Right now, you just need to shut up, sit down and listen!" Toby said. His voice boomed throughout the tunnel.  Kat flinched taken aback by the commanding tone. She recovered quickly, standing her ground  she clenched her fists menacingly.

"Make me."

"I believe shutting up was the first step, frankly I don't care about the second part that was for your comfort but the first and third step correlate closely so I repeat, Shut up!"

Before she could stop herself, Kat swung her arm around to slap him. Toby caught it easily. Kat swung at him with her free hand. He caught that with the same hand.

"Will you shut up now?" He asked politely, which only vexed her more. She struggled against his grip but it was like a steel vise.  

"Who the hell do you think you are?!" She spat. If only she could reach her sword she'd teach him a lesson.

"I'm Toby I fight for a living...men three times your size."  He replied. He looked her over before correcting it to, “Four times your size."

Kat took in a deep breath.

"You finished?" Toby asked.

Kat grinned mischievously.

"Just getting started."

The End

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