The instant the news of the ghost train leaving Wysper City reached the citizens, the relief that was felt was intense. Passengers and goods clients returned to the railways and business returned to normal. As an added bonus, the story of the ghost train’s passengers passing on their last message to their loved ones caused the general mood to improve. On top of that, while the rails were still icy and there was still snow, the fog had lifted. Trains could go just a little faster, but only by so much. Now, as Arsha mentioned before, the snow brings other problems too, snow drifts being chief among them. As snow didn’t care where it landed, certain parts of the tracks would be buried, forcing the engines to take up snowplows. Some of the Mechanica engines found them to be uncomfortable, but put up with them to keep the lines cleared. This was a boon for the newly formed Rail Rescue Service. They helped whatever engine they could from any disaster, no matter the livery. As such, they were funded by the government instead of the citizens. Because there were only so many engines in the organization, the others had to help out. Out of all the engines, there were two who excelled in clearing snow; a duo of male Mechanica tender engines named Yalso and Yalsu. They once worked for the railways of the Ralandren plains, just as flat as Wysper City, before they consented to being sent to Northern Regional a month before the Over-union Festival. To hear them talk, the snow drifts they used to clear were twice the size of the ones that appeared on Wysper City’s rails. Thanks to their efforts, many an engine was rescued from a snowy situation. During the festival, they were called to the site of a really large drift. “SWEET ONES!” swore Yalso. “We’ve got a doozy, Yalsu!”
“That thing’s nothing we can’t handle, I’m sure,” mused Yalsu.
“I never said I was worried, just impressed!” chuckled Yalso. “Did Intal want us to wait?”
“No, he said to make a head start on it and…” Yalsu was interrupted by a noise. “…Did…you hear that?”
“It sounded like a whistle,” replied Yalso. “It’s one I recognize, but I can’t place my finger on it.” The whistle sounded again.
“Well, better find out,” declared Yalsu. He cupped his hands to his mouth. “Hello!” he called. “Help is here!”
“Yalso?! Yalsu?! Is that one of you?!” replied a voice.
“Good grief, it’s Jenmar!” yelped Yalso. “Jenmar, are you all right?!”
“I’ve been better,” reported Jenmar. “By Nartor, am I glad it’s you two that are here.”
“How long have you been stuck there?” asked Yalsu.
“I don’t know,” answered Jenmar, “is it 4,006,300,079, TAU?”
“Don’t panic, now,” urged Yalso. “Just wait a moment and we’ll get you out.”
“Wait a moment?!” snapped Jenmar. “Like I’m capable of doing anything else right now!”
“Sorry!” yelped Yalso. “Poor choice of words!”
Arsha and her lovers sat on a hill in the park, taking in the view of the city. “You know,” sighed Arsha, “it’s really nice looking at the festival from a distance.”
“Especially one that isn’t haunted by ghosts,” mused Lardeth. “Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I could say goodbye to Dad, but ghosts tend to cause a dip in morale.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” muttered Malnar. “Still, what happened at the station was really sweet.”
“I’m really glad the train made it to the Heights,” sighed Arsha. “Although, if I may be frank, I kind of want to bring the Heights to the mortal plane, continue having moments like this together.”
“Funny you should mention ‘together’,” mused Lardeth. Arsha arched an eyebrow.
“We just got the paperwork approved,” explained Falnii. Arsha was still a little confused until she recalled Foresna and Gorfanth’s arrival on the Endeavor.
“…Are you guys serious?!” she squeaked happily.
“We’re all living together once the festival is over!” confirmed Falnii. Arsha squeed in happiness.
“BEST! NEWS! EVER!” she announced as she tightly hugged her lovers.
“I can’t wait to see what the Endeavor looks like from the inside,” giggled Malnar. It was only after she completed her sentence that everyone realized something was not usual.
“…Malnar, black mist just came out of your mouth,” remarked Gorfanth.
“Oh, how embarrassing!” groaned Malnar as the embrace broke off. “I have dark breath again!”
“Have you been eating bananas again?” asked Foresna.
“I know they don’t agree with me,” sighed Malnar, “but I had such a craving for them! …Is it bad?” She opened her mouth and everyone goggled.
“Malnar, I can only see your teeth,” reported Lardeth. “Everything else is just obscured by black mist.”
“Have you got something for that?” asked Falnii. Malnar nodded as she tightly closed her mouth. “Well, then, let’s go use it,” declared Falnii. “Where is it?” Malnar, too embarrassed to open her mouth, pointed to Lardeth’s castle off in the distance.
“Then let’s head home and get it cleared,” affirmed Lardeth. He led the way back to the castle. The instant they went into the castle and the door shut behind them, Malnar dashed to the bathroom near Lardeth’s room and brushed her teeth furiously and then gargled with mouthwash. After that, she checked her breath, then sighed once she was satisfied. She was still blushing like mad over the whole thing. As she and her lovers met up in the castle’s foyer, she was holding her arm and looking sideways.
“It’s all right,” soothed Gorfanth. “It happens to the best of us.”
“Still embarrassing,” mumbled Malnar. That was when someone stormed past them. “…Was that…Rokalla?” muttered Malnar.
“It was,” confirmed Lardeth. “What’s he doing here?”
“No sense in staying ignorant about it,” mused Gorfanth.
“He’s heading to the throne room. Come on,” declared Lardeth. They arrived at the throne room’s doors to see Rokalla throw the doors open. “Okay, NONE of my parents like that!” gulped Lardeth. “Maybe we should defuse the situation, somehow.”
“Not a bad idea,” agreed Arsha. They entered the throne room just as Rokalla began heaping verbal abuse!
“WHAT IN THE DEEPEST PARTS OF THE DEPTHS ARE YOU DOING, LETTING HER GO LIKE THAT?!” he shouted at Lardeth’s parents. “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU LOT WOULD DO SOMETHING SO DUMB AFTER WHAT SHE DID! SHE’S MINE! I’LL…!”
“HOW DARE YOU BURST IN HERE AND ADDRESS US IN SUCH A MANNER!” thundered Roomef.
“But…!” stammered Rokalla.
“BE SILENT AND STAND TO ATTENTION!” roared Endram. He then drew in a breath before continuing. “We have company.” He pointed out a female Troll in full Realmfleet Regalia. Arsha and her lovers gasped before saluting with Rokalla.
“Supreme Admiral Aldarval!” gulped Rokalla. “Please, excuse my outburst, but…”
“No, Admiral Rokalla, I won’t!” snarled Aldarval. “That was completely unacceptable and unbecoming of a Realmfleet Officer! Do that again and I’ll have your balls on a plate! Out!”
“Just a moment, Supreme Admiral!” called Lardeth. “What’s going on here? I didn’t know you were coming.”
“I’m simply here on your parents’ summons,” explained Aldarval.
“Summons?” asked Arsha. “Why were you summoned here?”
“To ensure that Wysper City would be ready for war, should the situation with Dr. Borg and her cronies escalate that far,” replied Olmarfa.
“War?” gulped Falnii. “Has it…?”
“The Final War hasn’t begun yet,” assured Aldarval, “but we must be ready. With Remsu escaping, there’s no telling when that will happen.”
“That’s why I came in here!” snapped Rokalla. “They gave the order to recapture her to Onfuu!”
“Onfuu?” asked Malnar. “I hate to say it, but he’s an utter incompetent when it comes to his job. And, just to clarify, are we talking about the Succubus/Zephyr Blender who was my original First Officer when I did my tour of duty?”
“The same,” confirmed Aldarval.
“I’m lost here,” admitted Arsha.
“I’m sure I told you I didn’t really have the best relationship with my old First officer,” began Malnar. Her lovers nodded. “Well, it all came to a head during the Galdredan affair. The Meteor was tasked with bringing in a Realmfleet Officer turned mass-murderer. Remsu’s someone who believes in putting people in the ground to solve problems, so, during the chase, she went to the ground, cornered the guy, and went against our orders to bring him alive.”
“…She…KILLED…?” gulped Arsha.
“Sliced the poor guy’s head off,” confirmed Malnar. “During her arrest, she killed a few of our crewmates. I had to have her court-martialed and she was sentenced to life in prison. If she’s escaped, then Onfuu’s a terrible choice. Aldarval, I really recommend that you let Rokalla find her!”
“Onfuu’s a solid, reliable Officer,” countered Aldarval, “unlike Rokalla at the moment. He used to be our best man, but, ever since the destruction of the Skyshell, he’s gone to pieces. Rokalla, your wife told me you had to take some time off for mental issues!”
“Why would she tell you that?!” snapped Rokalla.
“Admiral, with all due respect,” interjected Malnar, “I can’t let Onfuu go through with this case without someone like Rokalla. I’m going to have Daddy implement Paragraph 37 of the Realmfleet Accords.”
“You want him to order me to let someone that is mentally unfit in every respect to take this case?!” growled Aldarval. “I highly doubt he’d do something that dumb on your say-so, even if you’re his future replacement!”
“Maybe he won’t,” called Olmarfa, “but I would.”
“…You wouldn’t dare!” hissed Aldarval.
“Try me,” challenged Olmarfa. The tension could be cut with a knife!
“…Fine, fine, Rokalla, you can find Remsu,” grumbled Aldarval. “But, know this, you WILL be working with Onfuu.”
“Understood, Supreme Admiral,” confirmed Rokalla.
“Dismissed,” growled Aldarval. Rokalla saluted and left the throne room. “Now, with that out of the way, once the festival is over,” declared Aldarval, “I’ll need to visit the Drelda Forest. The Fae will be excellent if it ever comes to war.”
“Rellmeer will NOT like it, I can tell you,” muttered Lardeth.
“No, but she’ll understand the necessity,” remarked Aldarval. “I must go. Farewell.” She left the throne room and Lardeth and his parents and lovers released their breath.
“Man, she is intense!” shuddered Arsha.
“She DOES get the job done,” replied Endram.
“In any event, preparing for war is what Dr. Borg’s master wants!” argued Arsha.
“We’ve tried the diplomatic route,” answered Olmarfa, “but Dr. Borg’s refused to reply to us. We need to cover all bases before we take any further action.”
“Lardeth, Falnii, Arsha, Foresna, Malnar, Gorfanth,” proclaimed Roomef, “what you’ve seen today does NOT leave this room, is that clear?” Arsha and her lovers looked at each other before nodding.
“Crystal, Your Majesty,” answered Gorfanth. “We won’t discuss this with anyone.”
“Thank you,” bid Roomef. “Now, come here and give us all a hug!” Lardeth, his parents, and his lovers then joined together in a mutual embrace.