Emotional Spectrum Ballgown Corps Heroines

Black Reaper Heroines

Noralis (Left) is the first member of the Black Reapers. When she died, she was brought back to life by Necrisna and Mortimpii to help found a new corp centered around death-related magic. Lately, she’s taken an interest in the planet Earth and even recruited Jessica after her death, taking on the name Necromistress.

Jessica Hayes (Right) had taken a shine to Noralis and wanted to be a part of her world while she was alive. Sadly, a drunk driver ran her down and killed her. However, she still joined with Noralis (Necromistress) as her partner, Resurecta. Now the two Reapers are in a romantic relationship with each other.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 40: Ridge

The next morning, Patrick and his crew, Glanthel and Endram, were taking a passenger run to the Summit. The train went without incident, but that didn’t stop Patrick from grumbling about what was said last night. “Ghosts on Sodor,” he scoffed as he climbed Devil’s Back. “The only ‘ghost’ here was Percy tricking Thomas on the NWR! He got his comeuppance later on! There’s no such thing as ghosts here!”

“There is some truth to ghost stories,” remarked Endram as he checked Patrick’s fire, “even if the ghosts themselves are fake.”

“Oh, really? And did you happen to see any ghosts?”

“As a matter of fact, the Under-realm, the home of my son’s beloved Malnar and Gorfanth, is the ghost capital of the Realms.”

“Back before the Realms fully united,” explained Glanthel, “the Under-realm was very liberal with necromancy.”

“Death-related magic, yes?” asked Patrick.

“That’s right. Because of their frequent use of it, the veil between the living and the dead was permanently weakened and so ghosts are a common sight there. It’s usually unheard of when a ghost pops up in any other Realm.”

“I do recall one incident,” said Endram. “It happened during-”

“THERE’S AN ENGINE ROLLING DOWN THE LINE!” called the coach. Patrick braked to a halt and his crew and passengers saw a single engine going backwards down Devil’s Back. It then rolled off the tracks and down the mountain. Patrick could see that it almost looked like Culdee!

“Quick! Get Control on the line! Culdee’s had an accident!” urged Patrick. Glanthel quickly took the radio and call Control.

“Emergency!” he said. “Culdee’s derailed off Devil’s Back! Repeat, Culdee has rolled off of Devil’s Back!”

“…Are you being funny?” asked Control.

“We’re not! Culdee’s had an accident!”

“That’s impossible. Summit’s reported that he delivered his passengers to the Summit Hotel safely. He’s still waiting for you to come up so he can come down.”

“Then it was probably Shane Dooiney! Or Wilfred! Or Ernest!”

“Shane Dooiney is currently arranging the Truck and Wilfred and Ernest are coming back from their maintenance.”

“Well, whatever engine that fell down the mountain wasn’t to Superheat Design, I can tell you that!” snapped Patrick. “I know Alaric and Eric are doing track maintenance around Skarloey Road! And I’m still on the rails!”

“Then you were mistaken and there WAS no engine derailment! Quit wasting our time!” Control then ended the call.

“Bu-but-!” stammered Patrick.

“We saw it too,” assured Glanthel. “And so did the passengers, from the sound of things.” While the passengers talked about what happened, Patrick resumed his journey up the mountain. His smokebox was all a blur with his thoughts.

Later in the evening, Patrick told everyone what happened on Devil’s Back. “I’m telling you; I saw that engine as he tumbled down the mountainside! It looked almost like Culdee!”

“I’m surprised Control didn’t send someone over to the crash site,” muttered Shane Dooiney, the number five engine.

“They did,” replied Glanthel, “but there was nothing there.”

“What is going on around here?” muttered Yufantel. “If it IS Godred’s ghost, why hasn’t he appeared before now?”

“Someone may have artificially weakened the veil between the living and the dead,” guessed Irina.

“There’s merit in that theory,” said Endram. “I was about to tell Patrick about it before we saw the crash.”

“About when you saw the ghost of Daddy Lardeth’s father?” asked Yufantel.

“That’s the one. I take it someone told you about it?”

“It was Grandma Olmarfa who told me.”

“Do you want to tell the story or should I?”

“You tell the story.”

“Very well.” Endram then took in a breath and began. “First off, we all must get clear that I am NOT Lardeth’s father. Oh, yes, I married his moms, but that was after their previous husband, the father of their children died. His father, the previous Over-King before me, a human called Yentil, was once an engine driver for the Great Wysper Northern Railway. Even when he was King, he would always find time to work there with his firewoman. From my wives and children’s description, he was also very boastful and so was the firewoman. They always talked about their spotless record, how they had never once been late or had an accident. The real kicker of it was that it was all true.”

“True?” asked Sira incredulously.

“I didn’t believe it myself until I saw the documentation to prove it. They were quick to criticize anyone, even their own crew, if they were late in any capacity. Their Controller always praised them whenever they delivered their trains on time. That’s ultimately what caused the accident.”

“What happened?” asked Culdee. He had a guess but wanted confirmation.

“Yentil and his firewoman had to take a late-night express passenger train. They suffered a delay and couldn’t get out of the station fast enough when the Conductor finally blew his whistle. Back when the Great Wysper Norther Railway was in operation, their main line went around a mountain and there was a deep ravine. The night they took that train was foggy and there was snow on the ground. With the poor visibility, icy rails, and Yentil and his firewoman’s desire to maintain their spotless record, thus causing them to go at a criminally reckless speed, the outcome was inevitable.”

“They crashed,” summed up Irina.

“Came right off the rails at the first sharp bend. Yentil, his firewoman, all the passengers, and the Conductor lost their lives that night and the accident ruined the railway’s reputation forever. It closed and the mountain line was ripped up and the engines and rolling stock were sold to other railways so they could regain some of their financial loss.”

“What does that have to do with ghosts?” asked Patrick.

“For a while, there was a story that, on the anniversary of the accident, a ghost train would go along the old mountain road to try and finally complete its journey. Lardeth didn’t believe it until his Tour of Duty came to an end. A week before, our Destroyer brought a Wraith to the Over-realm and it’s believed that his actions weakened the veil between the living and the dead for that moment in the Over-realm, thus allowing everyone, even Lardeth, to see the ghost train. We managed to intercept it and the old Railway Controller asked forgiveness for cultivating their ego to the point it led to a fatal accident. Yentil and his firewoman forgave him and one of our former Gods gave the ghost train a new path to the eternal rest they craved while also restoring the barrier between living and dead to its former state.”

“And if that mystery engine IS Godred’s ghost,” remarked Culdee, “we need to help him achieve his rest.”

“And how, pray tell,” grunted Patrick, “do we do that?”

“…I don’t know.”

“We can’t exactly plan with no sleep,” said Irina. “We need to discuss this in the morning.”

“Irina’s right,” agreed Alaric, the number seven engine. “We need some shut eye. Good night.”

“Good night,” replied everyone else. The engines went to sleep as their crews went home.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 39: Mountain Base

The Culdee Fell Railway is a mountain railway that travels up Sodor’s tallest mountain, Culdee Fell. It is a rack-railway, meaning that there’s a third line with teeth that allows the trains to climb the 8-mile trip to the summit with one or more cog wheels. The engines boilers are tilted down so the water would be level when climbing the mountain. There are no turntables, so the engines push their loads up and then carefully go backwards down the mountain. Because of the dangers, even the trucks that make up the goods trains don’t dare play tricks on the engines. They’re the only railway to not have a number one engine. The engines don’t like to talk about it. Right now, it was a beautiful morning and the weatherman said it would be a calm day for the area. Irina and Sira were getting their engine, the railway’s number four named Culdee after the railway and mountain, ready for the day’s work. Culdee’s fire was burning nicely and he had plenty of steam. It was time for his morning passenger run. Once he was ready, Culdee and his crew set off to collect their coach, Catherine. He buffered up to Catherine and pushed her to the platform. The passengers then boarded the coach and the guard blew his whistle. “Right away!” called Sira. The train then set off with Culdee pushing from behind.

“I’ve never been on a mountain railway,” admitted Irina as she checked Culdee’s fire.

“I have,” said Sira. “Quite a few exist in my universe.”

“Perhaps you and Culdee can tell me why only one coach. Surely, we can do two.”

“Only on a trial run. Even then, the coaches have to be empty. This line’s pretty steep for two fully loaded coaches.”

“And it’s because it’s so steep,” continued Culdee, “that we’re only allowed one. That’s why the coaches look ahead to make sure everything’s all right. Catherine here is so clever that I know at once if anything’s wrong.”

“That’s got to be a load off your mind,” mused Sira.

“Not his buffers!” laughed Catherine. “It’s hard work for-CULDEE, STOP!” Culdee quickly put his brakes on.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“There’s an engine on the line ahead of us!” Irina and Sira poked their heads out of the cab to see the engine. It was shaped like Culdee and had a blank face. The Guard then stepped out of Catherine.

“Excuse me!” he barked. “You’re not supposed to be on the line! Explain yourself!” The engine didn’t reply. “I’m talking to you!” Still no response. “Right! That’s it! You’re coming with us down the line! Where’s your crew?!” The engine stared silently. “All right! I’ll be taking your controls! Culdee, you lead the-!” As the Guard attempted to climb into the cab, his hand passed through the engine’s outer metal! Once that happened, the engine vanished! The Guard was stammering at the whole thing. “Wh-wha-what…? What just-?!”

“I think it’d be best,” said Catherine, “if we get to Shiloh at once and explain what happened.”

“G-Good idea!” The Guard quickly got back into Catherine and the train set off again. As they reached the next station, Culdee was deep in thought.

“It couldn’t have been. …Could it?” he muttered to himself.

The rest of the day went without incident, but the story of the engine spread up and down the mountain. Patrick, the number six engine, scoffed at the idea. “Rubbish!” he said when everyone was at the sheds at the foot of the mountain.

“It’s not rubbish!” argued Sira. “It was there! We all saw it!”

“Sira, did anyone see any number on it?” asked Culdee.

“…I didn’t see anything.”

“Neither did I,” replied Irina.

“Oh, come on, Culdee!” remarked the number two engine, Ernest. “It can’t be his ghost! We’d have seen him during the beginning!”

“Well, around this time IS the anniversary of his accident,” replied Culdee.

“Who are you talking about?” asked Endram.

“The former number one engine,” said Culdee. “His name was Godred, named after King Godred of Sodor. I’m sorry to say that the prestige that went with the name went into his smokebox. He never kept a good lookout. He’d roll down the line and look anywhere but the track. I warned him to be careful, but he wouldn’t listen. He’d always depend on his automatic brakes and his driver’s air brakes.”

“That’s dangerous!” shuddered Irina. “How could he obey his driver’s controls if something goes wrong?”

“That’s what I tried to tell him. So did his crew and the Manager at the time. They took him apart and put him back together to see if anything was wrong, but he still carried on in the same way.”

“…Is that why there’s no number one engine on your railway?” asked Glanthel. “That attitude of his did him in?”

“Yes. In the deadliest way possible. It was a miracle his crew, passengers, and Guard didn’t suffer any injury. I saw it happen. It was on the fourth of June in 1900, a month after the railway officially opened. He was coming back down the mountain when he derailed on Devil’s Back and rolled down the mountain. The Guard braked the coach to a halt and Godred’s crew jumped clear. Unfortunately, Godred was damaged beyond repair and it would have been too expensive to fix him, so he was scrapped and…and cannibalized for parts so we could be mended until our overhauls in Switzerland. That was later in 1962, and Patrick, Alaric, and Eric were bought to help.”

“And Godred’s accident,” continued Patrick, “was used as a cautionary tale ever since. But his ghost?! Come on! You never mentioned that you believe in such things!” Irina leaned against the shed wall and pondered.

“Maybe we can get the Ghostbusters to help,” she mused.

“Ghostbusters? What are they?” asked Endram.

“They’re like pest control, but they deal with ghosts.”

“You know, the ghosts of my home,” remarked Yufantel, “would take offense to being compared to pests.”

“This is absurd!” snapped Patrick. “There might be ghosts where you’re from, but here on Sodor, there’s no such thing! Now, I’m going to sleep! Good night!” He promptly fell asleep.

“While I don’t agree with his tone,” muttered the number three engine, Wilfred, “I think Patrick’s right. We need some sleep to puzzle this out. Good night.” Everyone wished each other good night and the engines drifted off to sleep while their crews headed for home.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 38: Return

Falnii woke up the next day feeling much more refreshed. After taking Yulduk prisoner, she felt more at ease. She came down to breakfast and saw Hejema cooking. “Good morning!” she called.

“Good morning, Your Majesty,” replied Hejema. “You’re looking happy today.”

“I’m FEELING happy today!” Wilson then came into the room. “Good morning, Wilson!”

“Morning!” answered Wilson. “Feeling better?”

“Much!” Emma was the last to enter the room. “Good morning, Emma!”

“And good morning to you, Falnii!” said Emma. “Sleep well?”

“Slept like a log! I feel like I can take on the world!”

“Well, we’ve only got our jobs to take on today,” remarked Hejema as she served breakfast.

“A pity, but I’m sure we can do them easily!”

After breakfast, everyone arrived at the sheds. The Small Controller wasn’t there yet. “Where is he?” muttered Wilson.

“It’s not like him to be late,” replied Mike.

“No, it usually isn’t,” came the Small Controller’s voice. He was running to the sheds and carrying a newspaper. “I do apologize for my lateness, but after seeing the headline, I had to share it with everyone.” He opened up the newspaper and displayed the headline. It read “Arlesdale Railway Delivers Victory!” “The article,” continued the Small Controller, “talks about what happened yesterday and how we’re joining the efforts to end a conspiracy against this island! We’ve been called heroes! I’m proud of you all! Not only will this spark a tourist boom, but it also sparked a goods traffic boom! Everyone is learning how Really Useful we are! There will be plenty to do during the tourist season!”

“Great, maybe passenger trains might prove a challenge,” mused Mike.

“Oh, come on, Mike!” protested Wilson.

“Given the projected uptick in passengers, I’d say yes, Mike, it might prove to test your strength,” chuckled the Small Controller.

“YOU’RE STROKING HIS-! I give up!” grunted Wilson.

“Now, this DOES mean that our new staff members have proven themselves, so I am giving them the week off after that Yulduk business. Your regular crews will be in charge.”

“Very well, Sir,” replied Falnii. “To be frank, I’m eager to see how well Yulduk’s handling life inside a cell.”

“Before you go, would you mind picking up your paychecks?”

“Will do, Sir.”

After Falnii collected the paychecks, she teleported herself and her teammates to the ships. “So, how was life on the Arlesdale Railway?” asked Richard.

“Barring Yulduk’s shenanigans,” replied Hejema, “quite pleasant.”

“Speaking of which, he’s been trying to break out of the Glanthelantir’s brig.”

“I’ll chat with him,” said Falnii. “How about our two mystery Lords?”

“We have medical scans and determined what at least one of them was. The lady was an Elf, but there’s nothing in the medical database about her type of Elf. I’m thinking of speaking with them both after I talked to Boulton.”

Falnii made her way to Yulduk’s cell. Yulduk was throwing himself against the energy field locking him in. “How long has-?” she asked Glanthel.

“Since he was put in there, Your Majesty,” replied Glanthel. Falnii rolled her eyes before speaking to Yulduk.

“You know, they say the definition of insanity is repeating an action while hoping to get a different result.” Yulduk stopped to catch his breath.

“I’m undead!” he hissed. “This field will only be deadly to a living person!”

“It’s been modified for Revenants too, Yulduk. We had to make the modifications in case modern Revenants went as crazy and as criminal as you.”

“…How are there Revenants now? The spell can’t work without Oyed.”

“The Divine Mana that you guys drained spread throughout the Realms. The spell only needs to draw from that.”

“I see. I must admit, I thought you a shrinking violet during the Final War. When you killed me, then stared me down when you saw me again, you proved me wrong. Then your plan succeeded, and you became the first one to put me behind bars where others had failed. For that, you have my respect.”

“I’m flattered.”

“You should be. When one earns my respect, that means I don’t rest. I devote all my energy, everything I have…TO KILLING THEM!” Yulduk punched the wall for emphasis, then he sat down on the bunk. “I don’t care what your social status is, ‘Your Majesty’. You’re dying just the same.”

“We all have to die at some point, but my death is not today.” Falnii then left the brig.

Richard was in a different section of the brig, where Boulton and the two mystery Lords sat. Boulton was looking at the floor as he sat on his bunk. “How are you holding up?” Richard asked Boulton.

“I’ll live,” replied Boulton. “Funny, I always dreamed of seeing you and your family again. …Never thought it’d be like this.”

“Neither did I. It’s good to see you again, in any case. I’m glad you’re fighting for right again.”

“I thought I was when Khan said that you were dead. I was hoping to see a multiverse where you died after me. I guess you just moved to another universe so you’d be among fellow immortals.”

“There’s a place for you in Beyond City if you want to atone.”

“…I’ll leave that to the judges. I betrayed the USA and those close to me. Whatever happens, I deserve it.”

“You still have allies.”

“I’d be surprised if that were true.” Boulton sat back down and hung his head in shame. Richard sighed before turning to the next cell with the Elder Lord.

“Good morning,” he said. The Elder Lord looked at him curiously.

“What do you mean by it?” he asked. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“…I swear I heard that before. In any case, it’s all of them at once. I’d offer you a pipe of tobacco, but I don’t smoke. At the moment, we have no hurry. …At least not until another disaster strikes this island.”

“Then you are in the middle of an adventure?”

“Yep. This is one fragment of a greater crisis. One that YOU guys and your boss started. Good morning.”

“What a lot of things you use ‘Good morning’ for!” chuckled the Lord. “Now you wish to no longer see me and that it won’t be good until I’m out of your sight! To think that I should be good-morninged by Michael Archer’s best friend and the inheritor of the Shift Keystone as if I were a common criminal!” Richard goggled at that statement. The Lords, to his knowledge, didn’t know either of those things.

“…I’m sorry, do I know you?” he asked.

“You know my name, though all this Lord garb has made you forget that I belong to it. I am Gandalf! And Gandalf means…me!”

“…Gandalf? …GANDALF?!” Richard turned to the brig guard, a female Orc.

“…Lie detectors are silent,” she replied. “He IS this…Gandalf person.”

“Then the Elf lady with you is-?!” Richard looked to the female Elf Lord. She smiled.

“I am,” she said in an ethereal voice.

“…Lady Galadriel,” whispered Richard as he knelt.

“Please, rise, hero of the multiverse,” said Galadriel. Richard rose, then his face became one of confusion.

“Wait, how did the Lords get to Aman in the first place?” he asked. “I mean, you two went to the Undying Lands with the remaining Ring-bearers and the rest of the Elves. Eru Ilúvatar should have stopped them from coming anywhere near Aman.”

“That is Khan’s doing,” replied Galadriel.

“He sought out the ones closest to the F.N.S and warped us into what you see now,” continued Gandalf. “Luckily, Batman helped us block out the rest of the Lord Collective.”

“Well, we better get all that stuff off of you two,” said Richard. “We can’t keep you wired in forever.”

“Sir, you’re gonna have trouble with that,” remarked the Orc guard. “I can’t lower the energy fields on just their cells, I have to open all of them in both this block and the other one. Yulduk’s still in the other one.”

“And I ain’t leaving this cell until this whole Sodor mess is over,” called Boulton after he overheard everything.

“…You’re sure?” asked Richard.

“Positive. I’m sorry, Richard.”

“It’s all right. I understand.” Richard then fastened a gauntlet onto his hand. It was a Keystone Gauntlet like Megumi’s, but the symbol was different. It was an upside-down triangle with a different colored circle on each vertex, cyan, yellow, and magenta, with arrows pointing to them, one going from cyan to yellow, the next going from yellow to magenta, and the last from magenta to cyan. “Let’s see if I remember how Batman used this thing. Shift Keystone, activate! Cyan, by the door leading out to the hallway! Yellow, by the guard’s console! Magenta, on the ceiling above the guard!” The guard then got away from her console as portals of the colors on the Keystone appeared where Richard wanted them. “Shift! Gandalf! Yellow! Shift! Galadriel! Magenta!” Copies of the yellow and magenta portals appeared beneath Gandalf and Galadriel and they were sucked into them. They then tumbled out of the ones Richard had already placed. Gandalf quickly caught Galadriel, then set her down. Richard chuckled. “Man, your shippers would have-!” The Elf woman and Wizard then loomed over Richard. “…Right, not funny,” he gulped. “Er, how about I show you to the med-bay so you can get all that stuff off?”

“That sounds splendid,” grunted Gandalf. Richard then led the two out of the brig. He then turned back to call to Boulton.

“When I get back, I’m filling you in on what happened to me,” he promised.

“I’ll be here,” replied Boulton. The brig block was then filled with only himself and the guard.

“…You know, you and I are a lot alike,” she said. “We both did what we thought was the right thing only for it to bite us in the rear.”

“…You were assimilated?” asked Boulton.

“No, but the enemy of the Realms lied to me and I betrayed those closest to me because of it.” Boulton gave a sad smile.

“Well, I’ll be. You know what’s going through my head.”

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 37: Revelation

Emma’s mind raced as she thought about what Falnii told everyone about Yulduk and the conversation she had with him the previous night. As she and her team headed to the sheds, she couldn’t help but think about what to do. They arrived just as the Small Controller strolled up. “Ah, excellent!” he said. “Good morning, everyone!”

“Good morning,” replied the engines and their crews.

“Now,” began the Small Controller, “as you all know, the NWR has ordered a large load of ballast. However, given the danger Yulduk presented yesterday by attacking Rex’s wool train, it’s clear that he’s not all that picky about what he wishes to steal.” As the Small Controller continued, Emma’s mind raced. She then gasped in surprise.

“The ballast trains!” she said. Everyone looked to her in confusion. “That’s what he’s after! Yulduk knows how valuable your ballast trains are! The spoil heaps of the old Mid-Sodor railway are great weedkillers!”

“She’s right,” remarked Bert. “If our ballast trains were seized, our main business would dry up.”

“…Unless we try something rather drastic,” mused Falnii.

“…I may have something for that,” said the Small Controller. “I just need to make some arrangements.” He then whispered his plans to everyone.

“That’ll teach him!” chuckled Bert.

“We’ll be ready for him,” assured Jock. “Count on it!”

Jock and Emma took the ballast trucks from the quarry, and they were loaded with their goods. The guard soon blew his whistle. “All right!” said Jock. “Off we go!” Emma unscrewed his brakes and opened his regulator and the train set off. Once they left Arlesdale, they went through a short belt of woodland with an unfenced lane. Jock chuckled. “You know, two men drove down that lane and drenched Bert during the railway’s first year in operation.”

“I’ve heard about that incident,” replied Falnii. “A pair of clergymen, one thin and one fat, were the culprits, yes?”

“The Thin Clergyman was the father of the man who wrote about me.”

“Usually, I heard him called the Reverend Wilbert Awdry.”

“That’s the one. And the Fat Clergyman was his friend, Teddy Boston.”

“And he was the one that Bert soaked, right?”

“That’s right. That’s why all the trees are continually cut back.” The conversation kept their spirits up for a bit.

Emma and Jock stopped to fill up on coal and water on the way to Arlesdale, unaware that they were being observed. A Lord had called up Yulduk. “Sir, ballast hoppers confirmed. Repeat, ballast hoppers confirmed.”

“Excellent,” replied Yulduk. “Regroup with us outside Arlesdale. It’s time to shake the NWR’s trust in these toy engines.”

“Roger that.” The Lord ended the call and headed off to his team’s position.

Jock and Emma were making good time with their train. They approached the outskirts of Arlesdale as expected. That was when someone wearing a cloak and cowl jumped onto the tracks. “EMMA! BRAKES!” called Jock. Emma quickly screwed on the brakes and Jock stopped just an inch away from the person. “You blithering idiot!” snapped Jock. “Even an engine my size can cause an accident that can hurt fools like you!”

“Doubtful,” replied the person. They spoke through some sort of voice synthesizer. They pulled their cowl back to reveal a Lord.

“Uh oh,” gulped Emma. The Lord’s teammates and commander then sprang out of the bushes and leveled their disruptors at Emma. Yulduk then motioned for Emma to get out of Jock. Emma held her hands up and got away from Jock.

“Foolish girl,” scoffed Yulduk. “…Not you, but me and Yamta’s commander. She thought that simply running through a populated area and causing slight property damage would be the way to instill fear. No, you have to hit the supplies first, then run through a populated area and cause slight property damage. Only when there are no ways to fix the damage can there be real terror.” He turned to the Lords. “Get the ballast. The North Western Railway won’t be killing weeds anytime soon.” The ballast train was 10 trucks long and a brake-van. A Lord went to each truck and pulled its tarp off. They all then goggled in horror.

“N-No! That can’t be!” yelped a Ferengi Lord. “There’s no ballast in these hoppers!”

“What?!” asked Yulduk. Jock and Emma then grinned.

“Someone’s put the wrong goods in these trucks!” elaborated the Ferengi Lord. “There’s nothing here but worthless wool!” He pulled a bit of wool out to prove he was telling the truth.

“The North Western Railway already got its ballast delivery,” explained Emma. “We had to make some arrangements so they would know that the chute wasn’t gonna be used, but we worked it out. We just needed to lure you out!”

“Lure me out?!” Yulduk then realized what was going on. “IT’S A TRAP! EVERYONE-!” Too late. Someone fired lightning at the Lords and disabled them.

“They’re small fry, if you can believe it!” hissed Falnii as she, Wilson, and Hejema stepped out of the bushes. Yulduk then realized what was going on.

“Oh no! I am NOT your prisoner!” He then dashed off. Emma caught up to him and pinned him to the ground, pressing her hand on the back of his neck for a chokehold. “Revenants don’t need to breathe!” gasped Yulduk.

“Oh, the hold’s just a temporary thing!” chuckled Emma as she removed her hand. Yulduk then realized that there was something digging into his flesh where her hand was.

“What did you do?!” he demanded. He then vanished in a teleport beam. Emma then awaited a call. Her comms then rang and she picked up.

“This is Emma,” she said.

“It’s Richard,” replied the caller. “We just got the prisoner and wow! Revenants from Falnii’s home really ARE ugly!” Falnii then took the call.

“Don’t say that around modern Revenants,” she advised. “They’re very touchy about their appearance.”

“Understood. We’ll mine him for information.”

“Keep a guard on him at all times. He’s crafty.”

“Will do. Richard out.” Once the call ended, Falnii sighed in relief.

“…You doing all right?” Hejema asked Falnii.

“…Much better,” replied Falnii with a genuine smile. “I guess I needed proof that I wasn’t the only one that could take him down.”

“Do you want to help us take care of this train?” offered Jock. Falnii then recalled something.

“I can’t. Rex and I have a passenger run coming up. I gotta get him ready.”

“And I’ve got some work to do with Frank,” remarked Hejema.

“And Mike and I have a goods train to pull,” finished Wilson.

“All right then, we’ll see you later tonight,” said Emma. Falnii teleported herself, Wilson, and Hejema back to the sheds as Emma returned to Jock’s cab. “Come on, Jock. We’ve got a delivery to complete.”

“You’re right there,” agreed Jock. They went a little faster to make up for lost time. They soon arrived at the transfer yards at Arlesdale and met with Donald, one of the Fat Controller’s engines, a blue Caledonian Railway 812 Class engine with the number 9 on his tender and his name on either side of his smokebox to avoid people confusing him with his twin, Douglas.

“Losh sakes, Jock!” remarked Donald in his usual Scots Brogue. “What was all the blither going on?!”

“Oh, there’s a story to tell!” chuckled Jock. He then explained what happened earlier.

“Grief!” swore Donald. “Sounds like ye’ve had a rough time of it! Good thing yer new staff members helped ye out!”

“Yes, they certainly were a blessing. From all the horror stories I’ve heard about Richard Saunders, I was afraid we’d lose our business!”

“Hey, I’m still here!” grunted Emma.

“It’s all right,” soothed Donald. “Richard more than made up for it by helping clear Edward’s name and ye’ve got people that know how to keep the excitement to manageable levels. I’d say ye’re well on yer way to proving yourself to the entire island.”

“Well, thank you, Do-” Emma stopped herself when she saw Donald’s twin, Douglas, talking to a green GWR 1400 Class tank engine, Oliver, after he had a horrible nightmare.

“It’s all right,” Douglas assured Oliver. “We’re all safe here. Look. This is nae scrap yard.”

“It’s…it’s not that,” mumbled Oliver as he looked embarrassed.

“What was it?” asked Emma.

“It…it’s a little silly, actually.”

“Tell us,” urged Donald.

“…All right. We were all painted Duncan’s ugly yellow and everyone’s personality’s flopped. Thomas was as arrogant as Gordon. You two had James’ vanity, and Henry hated trees. Honestly, it was a very tame nightmare compared to the ones about the scrap yard.”

“…Er, Ollie,” said Douglas, “ye havnae been sleeping all that well lately. Mebbe ye should take a nap.”

“I’m sleeping fine, Donald, and I DON’T need a nap!” snapped Oliver.

“AH’M DOUGLAS, YE LANG STREAK O’ MISERY!” snarled Douglas as he steamed out of the shed, wheeshing angrily. Oliver realized his mistake as he saw Douglas’ nameplate. Donald glared at Oliver.

“…Then again, a quick nap couldn’t hurt,” he gulped. Just then, Donald’s guard blew his whistle and waved his flag.

“Gotta go,” he said as he puffed off. “Good luck to ye, Emma!”

“You too!” replied Emma.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 36: Remembrance

The next day, Falnii and Hejema came down to have breakfast with Wilson and Emma. Emma looked to Falnii as she sat down. “Your Majesty?” she asked with care. “How did you sleep?”

“…Not very well,” replied Falnii. “I had nightmares about my home. Nightmares about the Final War. Seeing him again…” Falnii shuddered, then steadied herself. “…I saw Yulduk last night.” Hejema’s eyes goggled.

“Th…the Dark Revenant Father?” she gulped.

“The same.”

“Hoo boy!”

“Revenant?” asked Emma. “As in a zombie?”

“Zombie 2.0,” corrected Hejema. “In the Realms, while Zombies are just mindless beasts that don’t remember anything and are still decomposing, Revenants remember everything about themselves when they’re brought to life. Their soul is returned to their original corpse, and they can take in mana through the air to continue living as they once did. Only old age can kill them.”

“Or a restricted spell known as Ensakunde,” supplied Falnii. “But, given that I personally sent his soul to the place of eternal torment and he got back out with the Author’s help, according to Megumi, Optimus, and Arsha, it’s safe to say that that spell won’t work.”

“Right, he’s most likely got a body like mine,” muttered Wilson.

“…Do you think he stole Mike’s roof?” asked Hejema.

“And the Blister Twins’ roofs too,” recalled Emma.

“…You know, it’s a possibility,” mused Falnii. “He likes to get his hands dirty. It inspired the troops under his command during the Final War.”

“Well, we’re gonna stop him!” declared Wilson. “We won’t let him torment you!”

“…I need to tell the Small Controller,” resolved Falnii.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay here and recover?” asked Emma.

“I DO want to stay, but the railway’s under threat of an enemy after my head and we need all the help we can get. We’re telling him when we get to work.”

They arrived at the sheds as the Small Controller was ready to give out the assignments. “Ah, right on time!” greeted the Small Controller. “That will perfect! Now, everyone-”

“Sir,” interrupted Falnii, “I hate to interrupt, but we’ve got a big problem, one that the four of us believe is linked to the roof thefts.”

“You have a lead?!” asked Mike. “Who did it?!”

“This is gonna sound weird, but I need to tell you what I learned last night.” Falnii then told everyone what happened and who Yulduk was.

“…Interesting story,” remarked Mike.

“Mike!” hissed his green friend, Rex.

“You seriously expect me to believe that a glorified zombie’s stealing roofs?!” argued Mike.

“Mike, enough!” snapped the Small Controller. “Given what the Skarloey Railway went through two days ago with an enemy of their visitors coming back from the dead, it’s not entirely implausible.”

“What can we do to help?” asked a yellow engine with a tall funnel, Jock.

“Right now,” replied Falnii, “we need a constant look-out for him AND the Lords.” She was feeling a little better now that someone outside her circle of friends offered to help.

“Well, we have numerous opportunities to spot him on today’s jobs,” remarked a blue engine with a tall funnel, Bert.

“Speaking of which,” said the Small Controller. He then assigned everyone their duties.

Rex and Falnii were on wool-delivery duties. Rex looked a little more cautious than one would normally be allowed. Falnii didn’t understand it. “Okay, I’m nervous because of Yulduk coming after my head,” she said, “but why do you look so nervous? It’s not like you’re herding the sheep.”

“It’s not that,” explained Rex. “I just had a bit of an accident during the first wool delivery of our railway. I was boasting, you see, saying that this kind of job would be easy, but I reckoned without a man named Willie dawdling and spilling his load of wool onto the line. He tried to warn me and I tried to stop, but the trucks pushed me forward and I ran into the load, getting myself knocked onto my side. The cleanup took no time at all, but I was teased ruthlessly for my boasting. Oddly enough, that accident boosted the railway’s reputation. Still, these days, I’d rather not be so careless about wool deliveries.” Falnii grinned.

“You know, I had something like that,” she remarked as they got underway. “This was during the first days of the Final War. Apparently, there was some trouble in casting the strength-enhancing spell, Taravimday. I couldn’t understand how anyone could have trouble with that simple spell. All you do is thrust your wand at yourself or someone else and call ‘Taravimday’, then the person would have the strength of ten Trolls and Dryads for an hour. Apparently, it was the wand thrust that people were having trouble with. I offered to demonstrate with the Orc in charge as my target. During the demonstration, however, things went a bit wrong. I thrust my wand at him and…well…I THOUGHT I said ‘Taravimday’. But, given that the Orc in charge was a sheep, it was painfully clear that I said ‘TaravimBAY’, the target to sheep transformation spell. I was never so embarrassed in my life. They got him back to his Orc form and he told me to find someone else to demonstrate Taravimday instead of Taravimbay. I did and then hid in Arsha’s quarters on the Endeavor for the rest of the day.”

“Oh dear,” sympathized Rex. “I’m sorry that…” he trailed off when he saw something moving behind the bushes near the line. “Hang about!” he said. He then called to the person. “Hey! You’re way too near railway-!” Yulduk then sprang out of the bushes and ran along the line!

“AFTER HIM!” shouted Falnii. Rex increased his speed and Falnii drew her wand. She then swung it across her front and fired a magic blast. Yulduk rolled out of the way and threw a small fireball at them. “CANURTO!” shouted Falnii as she held her wand in a reverse grip and thrust her hand forward. A large stream of water then spouted from the grip of the wand and doused the fireball. Yulduk took the opportunity to sneak away, out of Falnii and Rex’s sight. Falnii hissed in irritation.

“Yulduk was by the line?!” yelped Bert once Rex told his fellow engines about the incident at the end of the day.

“What was he doing?” asked Blister I.

“Well, we’re not too sure what he was doing before we arrived,” remarked Rex, “but he was certainly trying to roast us after we made it clear we saw him.”

“Are you all right?” asked Jock.

“Believe it or not, we ARE all right. Falnii’s magic saved us AND the wool.”

“Thank goodness for that,” sighed Sigrid.

“That still begs the question,” remarked Mike, “of what he was doing there in the first place.”

“Scouting,” said Falnii to her team outside the cottage at the end of the day. “It has to be scouting. He won’t send his troops into a battlefield he doesn’t know about.”

“Another commander who cares about their troops,” remarked Wilson, remembering the reports of Team SKR.

“The councilors of the Realm Trinity Empire all cared about their troops. That’s what made the Final War drag on for so long.”

“We need to find him,” declared Hejema. “We strike at their base of operations-!”

“We go right into a hornet’s nest. No, we have to maintain our position here on the railway. He needs to make the mistake of coming after us, not the other way around.”

“…You’re sure about this?” asked Emma.


“…Well, if you’re sure, then we’ll do as you suggest,” said Hejema. “You coming in?”

“Not yet. I’ll be with you shortly.”

“All right. But please be careful.” Falnii’s teammates entered the cottage and she looked out beyond the fence.

“…I know you’re there.” Yulduk came out from the bushes. “Ah, there you are, right on schedule.”

“Tattling on me?” chuckled Yulduk.

“You know what Dr. Borg said about information. It’s one of the few things our side ever agreed with her about.”

“So, we ARE alike in some respects. We know how people are interdependent.”


“…Well, I think I’ve seen enough. I’ll see you again, but it won’t be as pleasant as tonight.” Yulduk then vanished. Falnii sighed, thinking about how to stop Yulduk.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 35: Resurrection

The Arlesdale Railway is a Miniature gauge railway that runs from Arlesburgh West along the old track bed of Duke’s old home, the Mid-Sodor Railway, and ends in Arlesdale, where it meets the North Western Railway at a transfer yard for ballast and wool. The railway is run by Mr. Fergus Duncan, affectionately called the Small Controller. The railway fleet consists of four steam engines and four diesels. Right now, one of the steam engines, a red one named Mike, was shouting like a distressed animal. “BLISTERS!” he shouted angrily, calling for the twin Diesels. “BLISTERS! WHERE’S MY ROOF?!” His cab roof was gone! His driver, Wilson, was trying to keep a lid on his temper.

“Can’t be helped, mate,” he grumbled. “We’ll have to go roof-less on the passenger run today.”

“Great! Stupid coaches without a roof! Can anything else go wrong today?!” Mike moved onto the turntable to get turned around for the morning passenger run. Wilson soon got out of Mike and moved the turntable, only to stop when they heard a crunch.

“What was tha…no, you’re joking!” wailed Wilson. Mike then got the same idea.

“No, they’re not THAT sick!” he protested.

“Morning,” came a voice. Frank, a gray diesel engine, rolled up to them.

“What?!” snapped Mike.

“Morning,” repeated Frank.

“Yeah, whatever.” Wilson got into the turntable well and pulled out a bent sheet of metal. He presented it to Mike. “NO!” wailed the red engine.

“Wait, why’s your cab roof down there?” asked Frank.

“The Blister Twins!” hissed Wilson as he got out of the turntable well. “They’re SICK!”

“Can’t exactly prove it was them. They were in their shed all night last night.”

“Come on, this is RIGHT up their alley!”

“We can have the security footage prove it. I mean, there ARE cameras near your sheds.”

“Let’s get Control to pull it up,” declared Wilson.

The Small Controller had arrived with the security guard to speak to Mike. Since this mystery needed to be solved, Sigrid of Arlesdale, the one female engine, would be taking Mike’s passenger run. The security guard pulled up the footage from the previous night. The security cameras showed nothing going on with Mike or the Blister Twins. “…That doesn’t make sense!” protested Mike. “How’d my cab roof get in the turntable well?!”

“We’ll find out,” said the security guard. “In the meantime, you better get a new roof.” He then got up and left the sheds.

“…Yeah, like I couldn’t figure that out myself!” snarled Mike.

“It can’t be helped now, Mike,” said the Small Controller. “I’ll tell the works to expect you. After which, I need you at the quarry for a ballast delivery.”

“Right,” sighed Mike. “…At least I’m working with sensible trucks.”

“Come on, Mike,” urged Wilson. “We gotta get a new roof for you.” He boarded Mike and the red engine set off.

Mike arrived at the works to see two identical diesels with a standing cab…and roof-less. Mike was surprised. “You too?!” he yelped.

“Wait, then this wasn’t you?” asked one of the twins, Blister I.

“Then who was it?” asked Blister II.

“Security footage revealed nothing!” grunted Mike. Hejema then approached the three.

“We got your roofs all set to go,” she said. “This is gonna be just like making pets!”

“…MAKING pets?” asked Mike.

“…Was that out loud?” gulped Hejema.

Mike returned to work later in the afternoon. He was feeling a little better once he got underway with his goods work. “This is proper work,” he said. “No need to pull light coaches every day. Just a day of proving you can pull the heaviest loads.”

“Sounds to me like you’ve got a complex,” scoffed Wilson.

“EVERYONE has something to prove. You said you’re a sculptor, yes?”

“I’m not looking to prove that my artwork’s the best. I simply want to create. Nothing more.”

“Sounds pretty dull to me.”

“I’d say that living with the attitude that you’re always being tested is dull.”

“We ARE always being tested! We have to prove your worth somehow!”

“Mike, you’re a miniature gauge engine that lives on an island that never considers scrapping its vehicles unless they die somehow! I’m part of an organization that doesn’t care if you’re a fighter or not! Neither of us have ANYTHING to prove!” Mike stayed silent for the rest of the journey, unconvinced about Wilson’s words.

Once the day was done, Wilson made his way to the cottage he, Emma, Hejema, and Falnii stayed at. He was in a bit of a mood. “Stubborn old engine!” he grunted. “Why can’t Mike understand that he’s not being eternally tested?!”

“If I had to hazard a guess,” replied Falnii, “probably because he’s one of the last of a great era in rail traction.” Wilson arched an eyebrow. “Having to prove yourself is a symptom of someone who’s scared of the future. Who knows what will happen when the Small Controller retires?”

“Come on, Mr. Duncan wouldn’t pick someone who didn’t care about the engines as his successor,” remarked Wilson.

“But that person might prove to be a liar and a mere bean-counter.”

“…Queen Falnii,” remarked Hejema as she checked her face’s stitches, “it sounds like you experienced that.”

“No, but a few of my sisters do. Their Mechanica engines, living ones similar to those found on this island, used to have a kindly controller, but their successor was a tin-pincher. He was all too happy to scrap a few engines if it meant making a quick gold. He never really trusted them or put his faith in them. It took the engines delivering a deputation to the Board of Directors to put a stop to that before they lost any of their friends.”

“…Was the successor prejudiced against living machines?” asked Emma.

“No, just tunnel-visioned when it came to feelings outside his ledger. It was all he could focus on during the Final War. No one really learned why. My point is that it left the engines a little on-edge when it came to another new controller and they were left feeling like they had to prove themselves to her. They don’t, though. Especially when the controller’s a Mechanica like them. So, please, for my sake, be a little more understanding of Mike.” Falnii then left the cottage. Wilson sat on the couch, pondering what Falnii said and trying to figure out what made Mike the way he was.

Falnii stood outside the cottage and sighed. She then heard the rustling of the wind in the trees and a few animals making noises. She smiled as she shut her eyes. “…Speak, Sodor,” she said. “I’m listening.”

“I should hope so!” hissed a man’s voice. Falnii gasped as she saw a hooded figure standing on the other side of the fence. She then put her hand to her chest to calm her heartbeat.

“Sorry, Sir,” she stammered. “I didn’t see you there! I don’t think we’ve met. I’m-”

“We HAVE met, Falnii, False Queen of the Realms.” Falnii’s expression darkened.

“…You’re not a hanger-on of the Realm Trinity Empire, are you?” she hissed.

“You’ve forgotten me, haven’t you?!” snarled the man. It was then Falnii saw glowing blue veins under the hood. She goggled in horror and her breathing became more ragged.

“You’re here too?!” she gulped.

“Figured me out, did you?!” The man pulled his hood back to reveal it was Yulduk. “I still remember that day. You remember, right? The one where you and your lovers took away the godhood that was rightfully ours!! You then fired that Revenant-killing spell at me and sent me to unwarranted torment!!!” Falnii then shook her head and steeled herself.

“I did what was necessary to save the Realms!” she growled. “Your torment WAS warranted, your escape from that place WASN’T! If you didn’t have the same kind of immortal body Wilson and Emma have, I’d be firing Ensakunde again!”

“Well, know this,” warned the Elf Revenant, “I won’t be allowing you to interrupt my plans!” He snapped his fingers and vanished in a premade teleport circle.

“Falnii!” called Hejema as she dashed out to Falnii. “Your Majesty, we heard you talking to someone! Are you-?” She cut herself off when she saw Falnii shaking in fear and tears coming down her face. “Oh my word! Come on, let’s get inside!” She helped Falnii back into the cottage. Wilson and Emma saw this.

“Falnii!” called Wilson.

“Please, give her some space!” urged Hejema. “Someone decided it would be fun to frighten her! She needs rest!” Everyone backed off as Hejema brought Falnii to bed. As she was being tucked in, Falnii grabbed Hejema’s arm. Hejema then realized that whatever frightened her made her that scared of being left alone. She pulled up a chair and sat down. “Do you need anything?” asked Hejema.

“…No,” replied Falnii. “Just…just stay.”

“Will do.” That’s how Hejema spent her night. Outside, Yulduk looked at the cottage again.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 34: Victory

The cavalcade arrived outside the Munitions Dump. Andrews held up his hand and the group halted. “So, what’s the plan?” whispered Skarloey.

“You engines hang back,” said Hanako as she and Flora left Rheneas’ cab. “Yamta and the Lords are ours to deal with.”

“Hold on, this is our railway!” snapped Duncan.

“Exactly. If any of you were to get harmed or worse…this place would shut down. Hang back and stay alive.”

“She’s right, my engines,” said Mr. Percival. He then removed his coat and hat, hanging them on Skarloey’s lamp irons. “I promise you; we WILL be back.”

“Move out!” Andrews called to his men. Everyone then left the bewildered engines behind.

“He…he IS coming back, right Granpuff?” Peter Sam asked Duke.

“…I certainly hope so, Stuart,” replied Duke as he used Peter Sam’s old name. “…I really do.”

Yamta and the Lords stood by. She had the detonator in her hand, ready to blow up the railway. A Lord then approached her. “Yes?” she asked.

“The enemy has been spotted coming here,” reported the Lord. Yamta then put her helmet on.

“Take up your positions,” she ordered through her helmet’s voice synthesizer. The Lords scrambled around the Munitions’ Dump and hid behind various objects as Hanako led everyone into the area. She looked around with a grim look on her face.

“…We know you’re here, Yamta,” she called. “There’s no point in hiding from us.”

“Not one step further, Hanako,” warned Yamta as she made her altered voice bounce off every object, confusing the Kitsune. “Things won’t end for the Skarloey Railway unless you agree to let us leave with Bounty.” Hanako smirked

“Your bombs have been disabled thanks to Boulton telling us once he learned the truth. Go ahead and press the button. The railway will still be safe.”

“Idle bluffs are dangerous. Just know this; the railway’s demise is on your head.” Yamta pressed the button on the detonator. The Lord next to her widened his eye in surprise.

“They…they didn’t go off!” he reported.

“An idle bluff, was it?” taunted Hanako.

“THAT’S IT!” shouted a female Lord. She fired at Hanako’s group, prompting the rest of the Lords to open fire.

“TAKE COVER!” shouted Andrews. Everyone was quick to obey that order.

“STOP SHOOTING! STOP!” Yamta shouted to the Lords. She then grabbed the one near her and got into his face. “I gave you an order to cease fire!” The Lord quickly sent that order through the Collective. “The risks at an ammo dump are clear! One shot could have blown us sky-high! Who fired the first shot?!”

“…Lieutenant Sophia Nevel, Four of Twenty.”

“She’s demoted to Sergeant. The plan’s a failure. All forces, return to base. The Skarloey Narrow Gauge Railway’s too strong for us. I’ll draw their attention away from you.” The Lord nodded and sent the order through the Collective. Yamta then charged at the heroes as the Lords abandoned the Munitions’ Dump. The soldiers were knocked down like bowling pins while Hanako and her friends were more steadfast. Eventually, Yamta plowed through them and made her way to the engines. “…Time for some boilers to explode!” she hissed. That scared the engines. Someone then swung a large branch onto her head from behind her. She had to take her helmet off to massage the area and looked behind to see Mr. Percival looking very angry.

“NOT MY FAMILY!” he shouted as he swung the club again. Yamta then vanished in a pillar of light, then it died to reveal that she was gone. Mr. Percival adjusted his tie, then simply retrieved his coat and hat from Skarloey’s lamp irons as everyone else returned.

“The Dump’s been cleared of the enemy,” said Andrews.

“Then we’ve beaten her back sufficiently,” replied Hanako. “But I know her. She’ll be back in some capacity.”

“When she does, I’m sure you will be ready for her,” remarked Mr. Percival. “…In the meantime, we must go home.”

Everyone made it back to Crovan’s Gate and just sat there, processing what just happened on the railway. “…At least she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her troops,” muttered Duke.

“She never did like using her troops like pawns,” replied Hanako.

“Like I don’t like doing so with my engines,” mumbled Mr. Percival.

“…I know I complain a lot,” remarked Duncan, “but I never felt like a pawn. Ever. Still don’t.”

“None of us do, Sir,” said Skarloey.

“Even those who just started working for you,” chuckled Flora. Mr. Percival smiled.

“That’s very reassuring to hear, everyone,” he said. He then stood up. “Hanako, you and your friends have proven yourselves to this railway a hundred-fold these past three days. Please, enjoy a week-long break. Catch up with your friends.”

“Will do, Sir!” Hanako and her friends then gathered, and Flora called up Richard.

“Richard, we have the SKR’s trust. We’re returning to the ships for a week-long break.”

“Good to hear, Flora,” replied Richard. “We’re halfway there to gaining the island’s trust. We’ll see you later.” The call then ended.

“Time to go,” said Flora. Hanako then made a teleport circle under everyone, and they all vanished.

“…I’m never gonna understand them,” muttered Duncan. “…Still, at least Swalmu had taste in comedians.”

“That was a near victory for us,” remarked Duke.

“I’d like to think of it as a near defeat.” The engines and Mr. Percival stared at Duncan in confusion.

“…Beg pardon?” asked Rusty.

“Well, a near victory implies that a person almost won, but didn’t. We almost lost, but we didn’t, so it’s a near defeat.”

“…Have you been listening to George Carlin again?” asked Mr. Percival.

“Aye, I have.”

Everyone returned to the ships and met with Richard. “So, how was SKR life?” asked Richard.

“Quite…thrilling,” sighed Hanako.

“Well, we’ve got id on Yamta,” said Richard. “Thundercracker’s doing an air patrol for her right now.”

“How’s Boulton holding up?” Richard sighed.

“Riddled with regret. He’s not happy that he’s been duped.”

“Have you seen him?”

“Yeah, I have. I just got out of the brig when Flora called. He’s holding up, but the experience isn’t something he can easily wish away.”

“I know the feeling.”

“Sounds like Yamta’s a nasty piece of work.”

“You mean she’s a pig-headed idiot,” corrected Swalmu. “She’s a woman, not a machine. A nasty piece of work could mean anything.”

“…That sounded like a comedian my dad and I like.”

“Yeah, my husband, for reasons that elude me completely, is a fan of George Carlin!” hissed Flora.

“Well, why not?! The guy told it like it was!” protested Swalmu.

“I’d say he’d be happy to know that we talked about him while on Sodor,” chuckled Richard. Swalmu arched an eyebrow.

“Did he perform here? I don’t think his material would have been appropriate.”

“Nah, it’s something else. Follow me.” Richard led Swalmu to the Ark’s bridge. “Tell me, have you heard about a t.v. show centered around Sodor?” Richard asked while they walked through the corridors.

“You mean the one with the models of the engines? Yeah,” replied Swalmu. “I never really cared for it myself. I don’t know why they kept Donald and Douglas in their black paintjob or why they named the whole thing after Thomas. You’d think he was the sole engine of Sodor!”

“Well, I liked the series when I was a little boy.”

“I don’t see why. I mean, it sounded like the narrator was an Elf high on something.”

“Oh, I didn’t grow up with Ringo Starr as the narrator.” They arrived on the bridge. “Teletraan, mind playing Donald and Douglas’ debut episode in Thomas and Friends? US narration, please.”

“Sure thing,” replied Teletraan. He pulled up the video and the narrator began the story.

“Donald and Douglas are twins and had arrived from Scotland to help Sir Topham Hatt, but only one engine had been expected.”

“THAT’S HIM!” gasped Swalmu. “THAT’S GEORGE CARLIN!”

“He narrated the first four seasons of the show for American audiences, so little boys from my home country could grow up with Sodor on their minds. Thank goodness too. I don’t think I’d be as interested in Thomas if I heard Ringo Starr. The few times I DID hear his narration, I nearly fell asleep.”

“Well, I’ve got some catching up to do! Teletraan, pull up the entire George Carlin library! I’m spending my break watching them!”

“Got it!” chuckled Teletraan.

Over with Igura, I’m sorry to say that she wasn’t happy with Yamta’s report. “WHY WERE MY ORDERS DISOBEYED?!” she shouted at Yamta.

“A traitor within the Lords,” replied Yamta, “revealed the bombs’ locations to the enemy and someone opened fire within the ammo dump, causing my unit to forget the risks. We had to abandon the base.”

“Where’s the traitor?!”

“With the enemy.”

“And where’s the Lord who fired that shot?!”

“Currently serving KP and demoted.”

“Give me their name!”

“They’ve been punished accordingly.”

“Their name!”

“I’ve already demoted them and put them on KP!”

“GIVE ME THEIR NAME!” An ashen gray hand with blue veins then grabbed her and whirled her around to face an Elf of the same skin tone and eyes glowing blue like the veins. He sported flaming red hair and looked angry.

“The soldier has already been disciplined accordingly!” he hissed. “There is no need for further punishment. You’ve clearly never learned how to command a unit properly. Yamta and I did during the Final War. We sowed fear and discord among the Realmfleeters with our command styles. I’ll prove it to you with the Arlesdale Railway.” He then made his way to the door.

“Yulduk,” Yamta called after the Elf. Yulduk then turned to her. “Good hunting.” Yulduk smiled.

“Always,” he said as he left.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 33: Mobilization

Rusty the Maintenance Diesel was the only diesel engine on the SKR. Initially, the other Narrow-Gauge engines were wary of diesel’s after Diesel’s first visit to the NWR. That feeling soon vanished when the rails were improved thanks to his efforts, and he became a good friend to the engines. After the rain from the previous day, Rusty and his driver, Daniel, were busy inspecting the line for rain damage. They stopped by a tree that had fallen onto the track. It was a small one, thankfully, so no one could think of any lasting damage. Still, it didn’t hurt to check. The maintenance crew got to work cutting the tree up and inspecting the rails. Daniel decided to take a look and saw a piece of rail bent upwards. “…That tree was way too small to make that kind of impact on the tracks,” he remarked.

“Looks like a pretty clean cut too,” replied Rusty. “Given what Hanako said about her conversation with Yamta last night…”

“It would stand to reason this is her work.” Daniel then switched a radio on in Rusty’s cab. “Control, be advised. We have evidence of sabotage near Lakeside. A rail was cut and ripped up, then a tree was used to cover up the crime to make it look like it fell onto the tracks during the rain last night.”

“Understood. We’ll have Lakeside closed until repairs are completed,” replied Control. The call ended.

“Right,” Rusty called to the team, “let’s get that rail replaced.” The team then cut the damaged rail and removed it, then cut a length of rail to the proper size, put it into the slot, welded it and smoothed it out, then were about to drive the nails in to hold it in place on the sleepers when they heard a cracking noise. One of the workmen then called out in alarm as a tree near Rusty fell towards him!

“LOOK OUT!” he shouted. Everyone dove out of the way as the tree landed on Rusty.

“OW!” cried the little diesel. Daniel and the team got up, checked themselves, and managed to get the tree off of Rusty. “Thank you,” he panted.

“Look!” called a workman. He pointed out a Lord that was using a claw to hack at another tree near the line!

“Oh no, you don’t!” called Daniel. He leapt to the tree and kicked it hard enough to send it tumbling to the Lord. The Lord tried to get away, but Daniel yanked a cable out of his opponent’s head. The Lord tried to put it back but was quickly overpowered by the rest of the team. He was pinned and Daniel called up his fellows.

“Everyone, we have a Lord prisoner! Have everyone meet Andrews at Crovan’s Gate!”

“Well done, Sir!” Andrews praised Daniel once everyone made it back to the SKR sheds at Crovan’s Gate. “You just handed us an opportunity to get some intel!”

“If he’s cooperative,” remarked Duncan, “which I doubt.”

“I can handle the interrogation,” offered Hanako. “Kitsunes have incredible mental powers. With enough training, we can read minds. I happen to have that training.”

“…You realize I’ll have to call that a polygraph in my report,” said Andrews. “That’s not admissible in court.”

“If he’s a native to Sodor, then he will be subjected to its laws,” assured Hanako. “Until then, this is a matter concerning me and my team.”

“…Very well. The prisoner is yours.” Hanako then approached the restrained Lord. The Lord glared at her in defiance.

“So, are you going to cooperate or will this interrogation hurt?” asked Hanako. The Lord spat at her. “…Very well.” Hanako then placed her hands on each side of his head. “Resist and you will feel pain,” she warned. The Lord smirked. “…Boulton. Former United States Marine. Native to Richard Saunders’ old universe. The same Richard Saunders who’s working on the NWR.”

“What?” asked the Lord, Boulton. “That’s impossible! He and his family are dead!”

“Hold up, he’s just made it easier for me.” Hanako read more into his mind. “…Oh dear, that’s why.”

“What is it?” asked Mr. Percival. Hanako then ended the treatment.

“Mr. Boulton, Khan lied to you. Yes, you were taken from your old universe, but Richard’s alive. He’s in Beyond City. You can see him again, but we need to know what Yamta’s planning for this railway.”

“How do I know this ain’t your voodoo talking?!” snarled Boulton. “For all I know, you’re using his name to get me to bend to your will!”

“Mr. Boulton-”

“SERGEANT Boulton!”

“…Sergeant Boulton, I’m allowing you access to my mind and allowing you to measure my heartbeat. You’ll see that I’m telling the truth.” Hanako then fiddled with his prosthesis and then placed her hands on his head again. They sat there in that manner for a good minute before a tear ran down Boulton’s eye.

“Well, I’ll be,” he chuckled. “He married that Megumi girl, and they have twin daughters. …So, he’s that karate bug-dude called Guard. …Good God, what have I done?!” He started crying.

“If you want to atone, tell us what Yamta’s planning,” urged Hanako.

“…That explosion at the Munitions’ Dump was just a test. We were trying to make a high-yield explosive according to Igura’s design, but we can’t make heads or tails of her notes. Igura’s the main boss on the island.”

“Adachi Igura?!” asked Flora.

“The same. She’s assigned Yulduk to the Arlesdale Railway and a lady named Auriella to Culdee Fell. She hasn’t given us much to go on with those two.”

“So, the Father of Revenants is here too,” hissed Hanako. “What’s the specific plan for the Skarloey Railway?”

“To have it shut down permanently. That’s the reason behind the bombs. We’re hiding munitions and fuel trucks at strategic points. One explosion will set them off and destroy the track beds. With the number of bombs set up, it would take every engine to repair the tracks and the railway would have lost a lot of money by then, enough money to close.”

“Fuel and munitions always result in an explosion.”

“And targeting the railway’s wallet is a rather ingenious plan,” mused Daniel. “Where are the bombs?”

“They’re hidden at each station, set to go off tomorrow.”

“Not if I have anything to say about that!” declared Mr. Percival. “Lieutenant Andrews, I believe this matter should be dealt with at once!”

“Tell your boys to cut the green wire when they pull the timers off the bombs!” urged Boulton. “That will make sure there’s no boom!”

“Understood,” replied Andrews as he made the call on his radio.

“…Now, as for you,” Hanako remarked to Boulton, “you need to be taken to base camp. You ARE still our prisoner.”

“Let me do it,” offered Swalmu. “I have a teleport spell for something like this.”

“Let me tell Richard first,” said Flora. She then pulled out her phone and dialed Richard.

“Hey, Flora,” greeted Richard once he picked up.

“Richard, be advised, we have a Lord prisoner who came from your universe. Swalmu’s teleporting him to the ships now.”

“Understood. Would this person be anyone I knew?”

“…Sergeant Boulton.”

“…That’s not funny!”

“I wasn’t joking.”

“Are you telling me that Sergeant Boulton, a US Marine that’s a family friend, is a Lord?!”

“He’s been duped and he helped us figure out who’s really in charge of our enemies. It’s Igura.”

“Great, first Megumi fights her old man, now we’ve gotta take care of his crazy wife. …As for Boulton, is he all right?”

“No. The regret of what he’s done is tearing him apart.”

“…I hate to say it, but he needs to be in the Glanthelantir’sbrig until this mess is over.”

“Understood. See you later.” Flora hung up, then told her husband where Boulton was to go. Swalmu then summoned a teleport circle under Boulton, and he vanished.

“In the meantime,” said Mr. Percival, “Sir Handel, Rheneas, Rusty, it’s time you, your crews, and I settle this at the Munitions’ Dump!”

“You’re not coming, Mr. Percival,” replied Daniel.

“I’ve gotten express permission from Andrews to enter the Dump. I’m coming!”

“Yamta’s too dangerous!” urged Hanako.

“With all due respect, that’s not your decision to make. My railway is being threatened and I won’t stand for it!”

“…You sound like me,” chuckled Duncan. “Not that I wouldn’t do what you’re doing right now.”

“We’re all coming, Sir,” declared Skarloey. “There’s strength in numbers.”

“Aye, it’s our home too!” agreed Duncan. Mr. Percival saw the determined faces of his engines.

“…Right then. Take a load of trucks each and follow Skarloey once the bombs on the line have been disarmed.”

“Yes, Sir!” called the engines. Their crews got them moving and they each collected a train of four trucks. Andrews and his men then boarded the trucks. He and Mr. Percival stood on Skarloey’s footplate. Andrews then got a call on his radio.

“…Understood, Sergeant. We’re on our way. Over and out.” He ended the call. “The bombs have been disarmed and are being transported away.”

“Then off we go!” called Mr. Percival. The engines gave a shout of determination as they set off.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 32: Tête-à-tête

Rheneas, Hanako, and Flora were doing some shunting in the yards nearby. There had been no word about any Lords running around the railway. Rain had come to Sodor at that time and, like any engine, Rheneas hated it. “You know,” he grunted to his crew, “when I was first built, I didn’t have a cab. I only got mine after Skarloey got his. I enjoyed not coming out for wet days.”

“I can’t say that I enjoy them,” grumbled Hanako as she shoveled some coal into Rheneas’ firebox.

“Why?” asked Flora. “Isn’t it nice to hear the rain falling?”

“Not when you’re in an engine’s cab with permanently open windows so the cold could get in.”

“Or when you’re the engine itself!” supplied Rheneas.

“I don’t know, I always enjoyed rainy weather,” sighed Flora happily. “It’s always nice to take a walk in the rain. Granted, I don’t go out in any extreme rain, but it’s nice to feel it fall on you. This, however, is the perfect kind of rain.”

“I beg to differ,” grunted Rheneas. “There’s no such thing as perfect rain.”

“Please yourself.” Flora’s attention was then caught by someone in the yard. “Hey, who’s that?” she asked.

“Who’s who?” asked Rheneas.

“Over by Siding 2.” Rheneas looked over to see a figure cloaked and wearing a full helmet that obscured their features.

“Excuse me!” he called. “I don’t recall seeing you among the staff! Who are you and what are you doing here?” The figure turned to him quickly, then ran off. “You’re getting reported still!” Rheneas called after it.

“Well, that was interesting,” remarked Flora. Hanako stayed unusually quiet. “…Hanako?”

“Mrs. Royana, are you all right?” asked Rheneas. Hanako then pulled out a communicator.

“All teammates, be advised! A villain from my world has been spotted at the shunting yards!”

“Hold on, what?!” asked Rheneas.

“Her name is Yamta Velonar,” explained Hanako to the railway’s staff, engines, and Andrews once the day was done. “She’s an assassin and saboteur who worked for the Realm Trinity Empire until her death.”

“Then she’s a ghost?” asked Rusty.

“Anything but,” replied Hanako, “she’s come back to life, thanks to Khan. We’re dealing with someone who’s out for revenge against anyone from the Realms.”

“And you think she’s the Lords’ boss?” asked Duncan.

“She’d have to be.”

“What next?” grunted Andrews. “Daleks?”

“Hopefully not,” shuddered Flora. “That’s the last thing this island needs.”

“…I was being sarcastic.”

“I wasn’t. We’ve fought Daleks before. Had the Doctor on our side.”

“No kidding?”

“She looks like Donna Noble now.”

“…Okay, we’re getting off topic here.” Andrews cleared his throat. “Everyone, thanks to Hanako, we have an id on who the commanding officer is. However, I doubt this…Yamta will be so eager to show her face around here, especially since there’s someone who knows her on this railway.”

“Did she even get a good look at you?” asked Sir Handel.

“I don’t know,” replied Hanako. “Frankly, I don’t care. She’s too dangerous to allow to run loose. Next time I see her, her legs WILL be broken!”

“…A little extreme,” muttered Flora.

“You don’t know the kind of cruelty she’s capable of.”

“You were seen?” Igura asked the figure as she took off her helmet to reveal a blond woman with a determined expression on her face.

“By Rheneas and his crew,” replied Yamta. “Arsha’s mother was among them and-” Igura then jabbed an electric rod into Yamta’s gut and shocked her for three seconds. Yamta then drew her knife and stabbed her starry arm, causing her to bleed. “…Just so we understand each other!” hissed Yamta. “I didn’t let Dr. Borg or Oyed punish me like that! What makes you think YOU have a chance?!”

“If you were mortal,” grunted Igura as she took the knife out of her arm and the wound healed, “you would have been executed for not taking your due punishment!”

“Due punishment?! This is excessive! Dr. Borg doesn’t go this far unless she has to!”

“I had to in that instance! I gave you an order and your childish incompetence-!” Yamta then punched Igura in the throat. Igura fell to the ground, coughing.

“Childish?! You think everyone under your command a child?! Team leaders aren’t gods! I briefly had godhood and I know what it’s like! Even gods don’t decide who lives and who dies!”

“Then the gods are fools! The decision IS the leader’s! The decision is MINE! It became mine when the Daleks gunned me down!”

“I heard about what the Daleks did during the Convergence.”

“And you judge me?!”


“…After I’ve properly disciplined you, I’ll show you all how to carry out a successful operation! When Dr. Borg sees the results, she’ll-!”

“She’ll be enraged at what you’ve done to one of her fellows!”


“What the Daleks did doesn’t justify-!”


“And you’re stealing any chances of victory with your untempered wrath! It’s time to put a leash on it!” Yamta then teleported away.

“…Order me around, will you?!” snarled Igura.

Yamta reappeared back at the shunting yards during the night. She put her helmet back on and looked around. “Might as well take that off,” called Hanako’s voice. “I already told everyone what you looked like under that thing.” Yamta sighed and turned to face her, taking the helmet off again.

“Been a long time, Your Majesty.”

“These days, the proper way to address me is ‘My Lady’. My daughter’s the one you should call ‘Your Majesty’.”

“To be perfectly frank, I was hoping for Lardeth since he ran me through the heart!”

“Well, too bad. You have me. What are you doing here? These people have done nothing to incur your wrath.”

“They’re your friends, are they not? You Royanas place a lot of value in your friends.”

“You need to leave. Now!”

“Not until you know what real pain is! I’ve already had to deal with a spoiled brat for a team leader, I don’t need Royana preaching!”

“And yet, that ‘preaching’ has kept the Realms together ever since Arsha’s first ancestor took the Mid-realm throne. Besides, it’s been working so far, given that the Realms are still standing 15,000 years after your death.”

“…15,000 years? It’s been that long?”


“…I see. So I’m nothing more than a monster to frighten the children of the winners into behaving.”

“Not yet. You’re still all too real. You and every single aspect of the Realm Trinity Empire. It’s gonna take at least 10 generations after our death before you become that.”

“Well, given that I stand here before you, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I may not have the powers of the Divine Ones and Oyed, but I can still cause enough havoc to the Realms until they bow to me and my friends!”

“Not happening.”

“It WILL happen, one way or another. Now, I’d suggest you get back to choking on coal in that useless little box on wheels you call a Mechanica engine. He can’t even move himself without someone at his controls.” Yamta then vanished.

“…Call Rheneas useless, will you?” hissed Hanako.