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.

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 31: Military Exercises

The Skarloey Railway is a railway run by engines that run on narrower tracks than the North Western Engines. Its main industries are passenger work (both locals and tourists) and slate. It once used a slate quarry near the end of the line, but the UK’s Ministry of Defense bought it to be used as an ammunition dump in 1960. To this day, the SKR get their slate from the Sodor Slate Quarry at the bottom of Shane Dooiney (Sudric for The Old Man), one of Sodor’s mountains. It was during one of these runs that Sir Handel, a blue saddle tank engine and the SKR’s number 3 engine, was grumbling as usual. His crew consisted of Brittney and Swalmu. “Rotten trucks!” he grumbled. “Why can’t they just come along quietly!?”

“They don’t exactly have bogies, for a start,” remarked Swalmu.

“Do we look like stuffy old coaches to you?!” snapped the lead truck.

“Oh, shut up, you lot!” snarled Sir Handel as he bumped them to keep them quiet.

“Do you really need to do that?” asked Brittney.

“Bumping them is the only way they’ll behave,” replied Sir Handel. “I, for one-!” That was when they heard a loud boom!

“Please tell me that wasn’t an explosion!” yelped Brittney.

“It came from the old Slate Quarry!” replied Sir Handel.

“We gotta check it out!” urged Swalmu.

“We can’t go there anymore! The M.O.D’s got guards around it!”

“We have to make sure they’re all right!” Swalmu unhooked a radio from Sir Handel’s cab and called Mr. Percival. “Sir, we just heard an explosion at the-!”

“At the munitions dump,” finished an upper-class voice. “I just got off the radio with Rheneas and his crew. Medical teams are already there. Continue with your delivery, then return to the sheds at Crovan’s Gate. I have a feeling the Dump’s Commanding Officer will want to investigate us.”

“Investigate, Sir?” asked Brittney.

Everyone had gathered at the sheds near the transfer yards at Crovan’s Gate. The Dump’s Commanding Officer arrived with Mr. Percival. “Everyone, I believe most of you know Lieutenant Andrews,” introduced Mr. Percival.

“Good afternoon,” rumbled Andrews. “Now, as you all have heard, there was an explosion at the Munitions’ Dump. What many of you don’t know, but from what Duncan told Mr. Percival, was that there is an id on the person who set off the explosion. Although Duncan was hesitant, and frankly, both he and I had a hard time believing it ourselves, even when security footage revealed he was telling the truth, he told me what the person looked like.”

“The only reason I had to tell him was because my crew confirmed seeing what I saw,” said Duncan, a yellow narrow gauge tank engine and the SKR’s number 6. “I still can’t believe it was real.”

“Well, don’t leave us in suspense!” said a red saddle tank engine, the SKR’s number 1, Skarloey. “Who was it?”

“First off, any Star Trek fans here?” asked Duncan. A few crew members raised their hands.

“I watched a few episodes with my driver,” offered Skarloey’s best friend, Rheneas, the railway’s number 2 engine.

“Well, this character looked like a member of the Borg,” explained Duncan.

“Give over!” protested the railway’s number 4, Peter Sam.

“He’s being serious,” replied Andrews. “As I said, security footage confirmed Duncan’s words. Mr. Percival, I understand you have members of your staff that aren’t exactly native to this island.”

“That would be us,” said Flora as she, Brittney, Hanako, Swalmu, and Daniel stepped forward.

“Do you know anything about these…Borgs?”

“That rather depends on whether or not they’re standard Borg Drones,” replied Flora. “Duncan, did this Borg Drone act monolithic? Did it hide any emotion?”

“…Now that I think about it,” remarked Duncan. “This Borg was looking around as if it knew it wasn’t supposed to be there in normal circumstances. I had to tell the Dump’s guards about that. I thought it was a guy in a Borg costume.”

“Well, telling the Dump about a trespasser minimized casualties to only injuries,” reported Andrews. “Thank you for telling us.” Duncan stayed quiet. He figured Andrews would trounce him when it came to being plain and blunt. Andrews returned his attention to Flora. “So, these aren’t the usual Borgs?”

“In all likelihood,” replied Flora, “they’re agents of our enemies.”

“I expect every scrap of intelligence you can reveal about them.”

“You’ll have it once this meeting is over. I can tell you this, though; they have shields that are only set for energy-based weapons, not ballistic rounds. Aim for the exposed skin if you’re ever in combat with them.”

“Thank you for that, Ma’am. I just pray no one ever has to fight them. Everyone, confer with your new friends on how to spot them. I will be returning to the Dump. The mess will be too much for our one engine to clear up, so the M.O.D’s authorized us to give you all permission to help.” Andrews returned to his jeep and sped off.

“Everyone, we’re in a critical stage here,” warned Mr. Percival. “Skarloey, Duke, I want you two to help with the cleanup. Other engines will help when they’re available.”

“You can count on us, Sir,” assured Skarloey.

“We’ll clear the Dump AND catch the saboteur,” promised the single tender engine of the SKR, Duke. “Letting this villain run wild would never-!”

“Suit his Grace,” interrupted Sir Handel and Peter Sam.

“…Well, it wouldn’t,” muttered Duke. “Impudent scallywags.”

“In the meantime, we have duties to perform,” finished Mr. Percival. “Back to work, everyone.” Brittney and Swalmu returned to Sir Handel’s cab as Flora and Hanako boarded Rheneas and Daniel entered Rusty’s cab. They resumed work soon enough.

Sir Handel was lost in thought as he pulled his passenger train the next day. He had heard about what the Fat Controller’s engines went through and wondered if Edward’s false accusation and the current incident were connected. “Swalmu,” he asked during his run, “are we free after this run?”

“We are, so we’re going to be heading to the Dump,” replied Swalmu.

“Perhaps we can spot one of the Lords there,” mused Brittney. “If we do, then we can-” She then groaned and put her hand to her head.

“Brittney?!” asked Swalmu.

“Dizzy…” Brittney then shook her head. “There we go.”

“Did you drink enough?”

“Is it a heat stroke?” asked Sir Handel.

“Okay, you saw my fangs, yes?”

“…Those are fake, yes?” gulped the saddle-tank.

“No, they’re not. I really am a Vampire, and I can’t get a decent drink here. Your butchers don’t sell animal blood and I can’t just drain a cow or a sheep. The farmers here would get suspicious.”

“Wait, you prefer animal blood?” asked Sir Handel.

“It’s more nutritious for Vampires like me.”

“Maybe I should call a relief,” suggested Swalmu. “You can head back to the ships when you get a chance. At least the Glanthelantir’s sure to have some blood on board.” Brittney’s eyes then went wide.

“That ship’s got Vampire crewmembers! I can just ask them to send me what I need! Man, I’m so dumb!”

“No, no, you’re not,” assured Swalmu. “You just didn’t think clearly. We’ll call the Glanthelantir at the next station.”

“Here it comes!” called Sir Handel. Swalmu pulled on the whistle cord and announced the train’s arrival at Cros Ny Cuirn.

When night fell, a Lord dashed across the Munitions’ Dump. He looked around nervously before bumping into a figure with a cloak drawn around its arms. It wore a helmet and stared at the Lord. “You’re creepy when you do that!” he hissed.

“That’s the point,” replied the figure through the voice modulator in its helmet. “So, you were sure you were spotted?”

“Why else would the engines here be on the lookout?! I’m sure that yellow complainer spotted me! It must be why no one died in the explosion!”

“It would have sweetened the deal. No matter. We’ve sown the seeds of fear on this railway. There will be no going back to normal from this.”

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 30: Case Closed

“I…er…” Katie was struggling to find the words.

“Ms. Barker, we’re waiting,” warned the Fat Controller. Katie sighed.

“…I lied so Edward would be sent away,” she finally revealed. Vulgar noises from the engines and their crews greeted this.

“SILENCE!” boomed the Fat Controller. “Ms. Barker, I demand an explanation! Why would you have me send away one of my engines?!”

“Because the railways on this island are operated by dated forms of locomotive power! Sodor Electric doesn’t use coal to fuel its plant! The average person’s car is tilting towards electric power! Why do you still have coal-burning and diesel-powered engines?!”

“Because the railways here are the most active and productive heritage railways in the whole of the entire United Kingdom, if not the world! I thought working here would help you understand that! You’re too obsessed with what’s new!”

“And YOU’RE too obsessed with the past! We can’t crowd the rails with dated machinery!”

“Ms. Barker, you have caused considerable confusion! We’re lucky this incident hasn’t caused any delays! You have clearly proven that you care only for mere aesthetics instead of the emotions that come with the past, present, and future! Your employment is hereby terminated!”

“You’re seriously firing me over this?” asked Katie.

“That’s right. I’m seriously firing you over this. Now collect your things and leave my railway at once!”

“I’ll leave the railway, but Auriella and I will be back! So, sleep lightly, Sir Stephen Topham Hatt!” She stormed off and left the railway. The Fat Controller then turned to Edward.

“Edward, I owe you an apology for this mess,” he said. “I should have done more to investigate this. When the fog clears tomorrow, you will return to your branch line to resume your duties. Until then, the painters will give you a fresh coat of paint.”

“Thank you, Sir!” beamed Edward. “It will be lovely to stretch my wheels tomorrow and look my best!”

“James, you and your team have done splendidly today! You shall return to passenger duties when the weather gets better.”

“Yes, Sir!” cheered James.

“Percy, Boco, I know you were eager for some minor maintenance. I believe a full overhaul is needed. Report to the Works at your earliest convenience today.”

“Yes, Sir!” replied Percy and Boco happily.

“As for you, Mr. Saunders.”

“Yes, Sir?” asked Richard. The Fat Controller was beaming.

“I’m not sure I can fully forget the party in my office, but I CAN forgive it! You and your team proved to be a credit to my railway! Once Percy and Boco are dropped off at the Works, you all can take the week off to assist your Transformer friends in keeping a lookout for your enemies. Perhaps you should add Ms. Barker to your list.”

“Don’t worry, Sir, we won’t let her get anywhere near the railways on this island. I’m glad we were able to prove ourselves to you. Now, we better drop Boco and Percy off at the Works. Crovan’s Gate, yes?”

“That’s correct.”

“Hold on, Sir,” interjected James. “Amy and Teletraan are my crew, so who’s going to be at my controls when they’re taking a holiday?”

“Your old crew’s coming back,” replied the Fat Controller. “They had taken their much-needed paid holiday while Amy and Teletraan were your crew. Speaking of which, Amy, Teletraan, do you mind collecting you and your team’s paychecks on their behalf?”

“Paychecks?” asked Teletraan.

“Hold on, we’re getting paid?” quizzed Richard.

“Well, you DID work for me, yes?” replied the Fat Controller.

“…Okay, fair enough. In the meantime, Kaitlyn, Percy, time to go.”

“You too, Boco,” said Azuliterii as she climbed into Boco’s cab. The Fat Controller invited Amy and Teletraan into his car and the three groups headed off to their respective destinations. Edward then grinned at James.

“…What?” asked James.

“I think I’ve figured out why you didn’t parade around about being the greatest detective on Sodor,” replied Edward. “You wanted your passenger duties back and figured that your boasting would land you into trouble, and to be fair, you would have been right.”

“I admit nothing!” hissed James. His scowl then vanished as he got his usual smug look. “Still, it WAS rather dashing of me to clear your name, wasn’t it?”

“…Need I remind you of the incident that took your passenger duties in the first place?” James scowled again, but said nothing.

On the way to Crovan’s Gate, Richard tried to puzzle James’ unusually quiet behavior. “…Percy,” he called, “could you help me solve a mystery?”

“What’s on your mind?” asked Percy.

“It’s about James. He wasn’t parading around when we were clearing Edward’s name.”

“Oh, I know why he was quiet,” chuckled Percy. “Have you heard about the Bootlace Incident?”

“Practically every fan of your island heard about that.”

“Well, it happened to him again! He woke up in a foul mood one morning and banged the coaches about when he was getting ready for his morning passenger run. You see, there wasn’t a shunter at the time.”

“He didn’t!” said Kaitlyn

“Another broken brake-pipe that had to be patched up with newspapers and bootlaces! The woman who surrendered them was a lot more pleasant to deal with than Jeremiah Jobling was. But the Fat Controller still had a few words for James and had him do goods work only until he could be trusted.” Richard and Kaitlyn howled with laughter.

While she was getting Boco to the Works, Azuliterii pondered about what was said at the sheds. “…Did she say…but she didn’t…did she?”

“Something on your mind?” asked Boco.

“Just thinking about a name Katie mentioned. Nothing you need concern yourself with…I hope.”

The NWR Team returned to the Ark and Glanthelantir once Percy and Boco were at the Works. Azuliterii still looked lost in thought when she arrived. “…Something up?” asked Richard.

“Richard, did Katie mention an ‘Auriella’?” quizzed Azuliterii.

“…I think so. Why, does that name mean anything to you?”

“That’s the name of an Adrexian that’s not the most…Adrexian in terms of attitude.”

“I see.” Richard then got a call from Thundercracker. “What is it?” he asked once he answered his phone.

“I did a little aerial patrol,” explained Thundercracker. “I found two people lying on the island’s southern shores. They’re Lords, one elderly male, one female with pointy ears, they’re badly hurt.”

“…Were you spotted?”


“Then bring them here. We’ll fix them up in the Glanthelantir’s medical ward near its brig.”

“Understood.” He ended the call.

“Bring who here?” asked Kaitlyn.

“We have a pair of Lord prisoners that need medical attention.”

“Daddy, are you sure that’s a good idea?!”

“They might be friends that were kidnapped,” remarked Amy.

“That’s a pretty big unknown!”

“Batman said that other friends were assimilated,” replied Richard. “We need to take that chance.

Katie stormed into a house in a foul mood. “Oh dear,” sighed a woman’s voice, “someone’s not happy.”

“Fat Hat just fired me!” snarled Katie.

“What?!” A tall woman in a green dress then came up to her. “Why would he do that?!”

“My cousin, Richard, turned him against me!”

“Oh, poor baby!” The woman brought Katie’s head to her chest and cradled her. “My poor, upset, glamourous girl!” Katie wrapped her arms around the woman and sighed.

“I’m not in the best of moods,” admitted Katie.

“Well, I know what can help cheer you up. Shall we get some new outfits?” Katie smiled.

“…Yeah, I could do with some new dresses.”

“There’s my darling!” The woman bent down and kissed Katie on the lips.

“Auriella, what would I do without you?”

“Probably spin your wheels,” said the woman, Auriella.

“Katie, you will go nowhere,” called a third woman’s voice. The woman stepped into the room to reveal that she was of Japanese origin, had one brown eye and one black one, and had a right arm made of solid space. “Remain here for further orders. Auriella, you are to go to Culdee Fell’s summit.”

“Hold on, who died and left you in charge?!” demanded Auriella.

“Khan made me team leader, remember?”

“You forget your place, Igura!” snarled Auriella. She grabbed the woman’s left arm. “Don’t forget that Adrexians have powers beyond your imagination!”

“…You grabbed the wrong arm!” The woman, Adachi Igura, then grabbed Auriella’s face as her right hand glowed bright. That glow was accompanied by burning flesh. Auriella screamed in pain as she was shoved into Katie. “Don’t forget that your organization was built on the foundations of Shocker Rift! Also, I have Vortech’s powers. He made your universe bow to him for a while, did he not?” She left the room as Katie used her new powers to help Auriella heal.

“She’s a dead woman when this is over!” she hissed.

“In time,” said Auriella as the handprint slowly vanished. “For now, we need to suffer her. Besides, Khan can discipline her when he gets wind of this.”

Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 29: Interrogation

Diesel was a black BR Class 08 Diesel Shunter, the Diesel Engine equivalent to a Tank Engine. He sat in the shunting yards alone, enjoying some rest after arranging the few trains for the day. “A pity this day is so foggy,” he muttered to himself. “Otherwise, it would be perfect to bask in the sun and-” his thoughts were interrupted by James’ whistle. He then heard Percy’s whistle and Boco’s horn. “…That’s funny,” he remarked. “They’re not scheduled to come here today.” The three engines then bustled into the yard and parked themselves on the points which would have given Diesel a way out. “Wh-What is this?!” spluttered Diesel.

“All right, Diesel, you’re sprung!” replied James.

“Pardon me?”

“We know what you did! Don’t even try to deny it!”

“And what deed of mine are you talking about? I’ve caused quite a few stirs here and there.”

“Teletraan, the sugar! Right in his fuel tank!”

“Right!” replied Teletraan as he pulled out a bag of sugar and looked to either side of Diesel.

“S-S-Sugar?!” gulped Diesel. “You don’t have the gall!”

“You think I’m bluffing?!” snarled Teletraan as Amy held him back.

“I can’t hold him back for much longer,” she warned. “You’re gonna have to tell us something.” Diesel looked at the a.i. Lynx, then at the bag of sugar, then he growled.

“Fine! You got me! I was the one who told Emily that the tree was keeping all of Sodor’s plant life alive! I was the one who sent Donald and Douglas on a wild goose chase when they were looking for their trucks! I was the one who told Spencer that Boco was getting too weak to pull trains!”

“That was you?!” yelped Boco.

“Diesel, hold on!” called Percy. “We’re trying to figure out if you were behind the Special Coach’s vanishing act!”

“Oh, that?” asked Diesel, calming down quickly. “That, I wasn’t responsible for. Though, believe me, I WAS tempted to, after what Spencer said. He made his usual ‘unimportant shunter’ comment to Edward and named me as someone lower than him. I wanted to get back at him that day, but I had too much work. I was called away to collect some trucks from Knapford so Duck could take them. Ever since Rosie and Stanley were reassigned to their pilot duties, we’ve been overworked and understaffed here!”

“So, Duck came here?” asked Richard.

“Was he pulling anything unusual?” asked James. Diesel then got a faraway look.

“Now that you mention it,” he said, “he DID have what looked like an extra-long van with him. He coupled his train behind it to take back to the Little Western. I thought his dome finally cracked if he was carrying something like that with him.”

“You’re sure it wasn’t a coach?” asked Percy.

“It was too foggy that day to see clearly.”

“It WAS really foggy,” recalled James. “We’ll ask him, then.”

“Hey, don’t tell the Fat Controller about what I said earlier!” barked Diesel. “I don’t need to get in any hot water with him!”

“Oh, he won’t know,” promised Boco, “but you WILL be punished for that.”

“Oh, really? And how?” Richard then whispered something to Boco, then went back into Percy’s cab. Boco giggled, then looked to the trucks.

“Boys,” he said, “I believe there’s a song you all made about Diesel. May we hear it?” Diesel goggled in horror!

“You wouldn’t!” he spluttered.

“One! Two!” counted one of the trucks to his friends. “One, two, three, four!” They then launched into a song Diesel hated!

Trucks are waiting in the yard, tackling them with ease’ll!

‘Show the world what I can do!’ gaily boasts the Diesel!

In and out he creeps about, like a big black weasel!

When he pulls the wrong trucks out, POP goes the Diesel!

“GRRRRRR!” growled Diesel as the three engines and their crews left the yards. “I’LL GET YOU FOR THIS, BOCO! YOU MARK MY WORDS!”

The three detective engines arrived at Arlesdale to speak with Duck, a green GWR 5700 Class Pannier Tank Engine with wide side tanks. They were led to the ballast chute the Arlesdale Miniature Railway ran. Duck had put the ballast hoppers under the chute and waited for the ballast to be dropped into them. He was surprised to see James, Percy, and Boco arrive. “What’s this then?” he asked. “A deputation?”

“Hello, Duck,” greeted James. “Gray day, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I suppose it is. Beg pardon, James, but what are you all doing here?”

“We’re doing some investigating,” explained James.

“Diesel said,” recalled Richard, “that you had an extra-long van when you picked up a train from the shunting yards last Friday. He also admitted that it was foggy that day, so he could have been mistaken.”

“He was,” replied Duck. “That wasn’t a van. That was one of my new coaches. I picked it up from Knapford Station that day.”

“You did?” asked Amy. “What siding?”

“…Siding 3, where the Stationmaster told me it would be. Why, is that important?”

“Duck, it sounds like you were unwittingly used in theft,” explained Boco. “That wasn’t a new coach for you. That was the new Special Coach.

“You mean the new one for Thomas’ branch line?! But the Stationmaster said-!”

“Either the Stationmaster is absentminded,” remarked James, “or-”

“Or, more likely, she did this on purpose!” interrupted Richard. “She’s obsessed with the newer things and probably thinks you guys are out-of-date, even the Diesels that work here!”

“In any event, we figured out where the Special Coach went,” said James.

“I suppose you’ll be wanting it back,” sighed Duck.

“We’ll get your new coaches once this mess is sorted,” promised Boco. “I know the Fat Controller doesn’t want the Little Western to fall.”

“It’s over in the carriage shed on the other end of the line,” explained Duck. The ballast train then shook as the chute loaded Duck’s hoppers. “I can point it out to you when I get this train going.”

“That would be nice,” replied Azuliterii. Once the ballast hoppers were full, Duck led everyone to the carriage shed.

“There it is,” announced Duck as his driver pointed to the coach.

“I’ll take it,” offered Percy. He buffered up to the coach and was coupled on. “Nicely done, Richard,” he praised.

“Thank you!” replied Richard. The three engines then headed back to Knapford.

The engines gathered at the sheds and were parked near Edward. “How did it go?” he asked.

“We figured out who really took the coach,” replied Boco. “It’s back in Siding 3.”

“You found it?!” asked Edward. “Who took it?!”

“It was Duck,” explained Percy. “And it sounds like he was a victim of some form of miscommunication.”

“Whether or not it was deliberate is still a mystery,” finished James. “The Fat Controller and Katie Barker should be coming any minute now.” A blue car then approached the sheds. The Fat Controller stepped out of the right-hand side (where the steering wheel would be since Sodor’s a UK country) and Katie stepping out of the left. She wore a dress and had her hair adorned with a floral arrangement this time.

“So, the mystery of the missing Special Coach is solved, is it?” asked the Fat Controller.

“That’s right, Sir,” replied Richard. “It turns out Duck was the one who took it. He was led to believe it was an extra coach for his branch line’s passenger service.”

“I can see where he would make that mistake.”

“But there’s something that’s not meshing well,” continued Amy. “Duck told us that Ms. Barker over there told him to collect that coach.”

“And, this morning, she told us,” continued Kaitlyn, “that the coach never got there.”

“Hold on,” said Edward, “when she accused me of stealing, she said that the coach was there, then it wasn’t!” The Fat Controller turned to Katie with a frown on his face.

“Ms. Barker, would you care to explain what’s going on?” he asked. Katie felt very scared indeed.