Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Thirty-Six)
Chapter Thirty-Six In Which A Doctor Goes On A Delivery
Sparrow, Jane, and Master Da rapidly went to work, scouring the ancient ape's old notebooks. There was a computer panel with dust recently swiped off by Jane's bare hands. Her fingers danced across the keyboard as her eyes scanned the lit screen occupied by words that only she would understand.
"I'm impressed," Master Da said. "All I did was set the translator to her language, and she's already using that old thing like a pro."
"Yes, well, Jane isn't called one of Vai's most brilliant minds for nothing," Sparrow said as he placed another book he finished stacked with the others.
"The same could be said of you, I suppose," Master Da remarked as he eyed the impressively tall stacks of books Sparrow had finished reading.
While Sparrow, Jane, and Master Da looked through the old records, Xiao Mei and her sister went to work cleaning and organizing the laboratory. It's not an impressive thing to do while a dragon terrorized a valley with an army of hideous monsters, but it was better than doing nothing while the grownups were all hard at work trying to save the world. Jing was already working getting all the machines up and running again as fast as he could to make what he hoped would defeat the dragon.
Everyone worked together, moving as fast as they could while on a large dusty monitor that took up most of the back space played the unfolding battle. The two visitors from another world held the dragon at bay, fighting on equal footing against him while soldiers and warriors below contended with the monsters the dragon had spawned with his terrible power.
"Hey," Xiao Yang called out. "What does that blinking red light mean?"
Master Da looked up.
"Oh, that's just a trespass alert," he said, resuming his work. "We probably tripped it when we came in here. It's fine. Just leave it alone."
"Hmm," went Jing. "That's odd. I don't recall there being any working alarm triggers when we came in here."
"Of course not," said Master Da. He held up a notebook to the alchemist. "What would be the point of alarms if there triggers were easy to find?"
"Oh, that's not what I meant," said Jing, accepting the notebook. He quickly flipped through the pages before putting it aside to begin work with the chemicals he had assembled. "All the alarm triggers we passed were how you would say, busted up. There's no way they would do anything. And if they could, that red light on the ceiling would've been blinking long before we came inside. But it's just started right now. Isn't that right, Xiao Yang?"
"Huh? Y-yeah," the girl replied. "It just started a few minutes ago."
"Then that means . . ."
Everyone exchanged looks. Then Master Da tossed up tables and chairs, whatever heavy thing he could find and barricaded the doors. After that, he took the sword on a decorative display and unsheathed it. Its blade had a menacing glint against the light.
"Continue work," he said. "Whatever comes, leave it to me."
Jing nodded. He took out some sheets of yellowing paper and wrote on it while flipping through the notes that the others had gathered. Jane walked over and added her own notes to the mix. Together with Sparrow, the last to join by wheeling himself towards the others on the serving cart, they began to make their formula with Jing and Jane splitting the tasks evenly between them. Sparrow used his knowledge on ancient texts to translate while Jane and Jing used their scientific expertise to create the ingredients that they needed.
"You . . . will . . . not . . ."
Xiao Mei looked up. Where did that come from? It almost sounded like -
"Was that Geoffrey?" Xiao Yang wondered aloud.
"This power . . . I . . . need!"
"But that's impossible!" Jane shouted. "He should be out there getting his tail handed to him by that other world Jing!"
"It must be a remnant of his heart," said Master Da.
"Those monsters that the Dragon of Calamity spawns are no mere minions that were born to serve. They are the dark feelings of the dragon manifested in physical form!"
"Is such a thing even possible?" asked Jane. "This sounds like something out of a magical fantasy novel!"
"That's just how powerful the scientific work of our ancestors were," Master Da said.
"But why are they coming here?" asked Xiao Mei. "Don't tell me they know what we're up to!"
"I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case," said Jing as he circled a test tube of purple formula. "Actually, that probably IS the case."
"Less talking, more cure making!" Master Da snapped. Jing looked like he wanted to make a retort but decided not to. Instead, he went right back to work.
There was a loud thump. Whatever hit the door was strong enough to make the furniture rattle as it continued to drum on it. And it wasn't just that door. There was another door to the side that was being repeatedly rammed against. Bam! Bam! Bam!
Master Da looked right and left as if he was unable to decide which door he should really be wary of.
"This world . . . filled with . . . evil! Leaders . . . all corrupt! People . . . all foolish! No more. No more! No more WAR! Enough! Enough! Enough! ENOUGH!"
"Enough" was the right word to describe what Xiao Mei was feeling then. She could feel her heart throb painfully with each scream from Sir Geoffrey's soul. It was enough to make her head hurt, literally. She was only able to hold on thanks to a reassuring pat on the shoulder from Xiao Yang.
"Come on!" she said. "We have to help out!"
One by one, the tables and chairs blocking the entrances were knocked away by the tremors the thumping caused. Xiao Mei and Xiao Yang pushed whatever furniture they could back up the pile, but most of it all were just too heavy for them to lift. While they worked together to lift a chair up the table, Xiao Mei could hear the moaning of Sir Geoffrey's heart joined by the familiar squeals of the monster spawns of the Dragon of Calamity.
The sisters exchanged looks before Xiao Yang rolled her eyes up in exasperation.
"This seriously can't get any worse," she said.
Then something like an insect limb punched a hole through the door.
The sisters exchanged looks again. This time, it was Xiao Mei's turn to be exasperated.
"You just had to say that, didn't you?" she said, sharply glaring at her sister.
Xiao Yang gave her twin a sheepish shrug before both girls were yanked away by Master Da.
"Stay away from the doors!" he barked at them.
"Alright!" Jing cried out. "We're done!"
He held up a small, brilliant blue tube vial. The way it glowed so brightly made it look more like a light bulb than a mix of chemicals.
"Do you think it'll work?" Sparrow asked, staring at the small vial with doubt. "I mean, all that work, all those ingredients, to make something so . . . small? And we expect that to stop that monstrous titan?"
Jane sniffed indignantly.
"Who do you think I am?" she said. "I'm the great scientist of Vai, Jane Mortimer!"
"Um . . . I think you're forgetting something," Jing said. "Or someone. Oh, well. It doesn't matter right now. Regardless of its size, it is our only hope at this point. We've run out of ingredients to make more. It's actually a miracle we've managed to make this much with what was available."
"Well, it's better than nothing," said Sparrow. "Let's just get out of here. Where's an exit we can go through?"
Master Da did not reply.
"Oh, don't tell me . . ."
"These two doors were our only way in or out of this place," said Master Da. "And as luck would have it . . ."
"Both of them have monsters outside waiting to tear us apart," Sparrow finished. "What are we to do now?"
They really didn't have long to think of an answer because the hole in one of the doors was rapidly getting bigger as the monster's four jaws snapped at the edges while other limbs clawed through the gaps.
Jing sighed, as if the monsters almost breaking in was a mere minor annoyance to him. "Well, if we can't use the exits that are already here, we'll just have to make our own exit," he said. He stuffed the vial into his pocket before he picked up his staff and aimed it at the ceiling. "Hiyah!"
Red psychic energy was built up at the end of the staff pointed towards the ceiling, rolled up into a ball. Jing hurled the staff as hard as he could and the energy ball burst with explosive power. The staff, unscathed from the energy burst, dropped down into Jing's waiting outstretched hand before being placed leaning against a table.
After pretending to brush sweat from his forehead, Jing turned to the others and said, "I know that it's improper, but please bear with me." Before they could ask what he was talking about, Sparrow and Jane were both lifted off their feet by Jing in one hand each and tossed into the floor above.
"Whoa!" the two scholars cried out as they flew through the hole. "Ow!"
"Alright, next," Jing said. Just as he did with Jane and Sparrow, he lifted Xiao Mei and Xiao Yang off their feet and tossed them through the hole in the ceiling before they had time to even protest. Xiao Mei's stomach churned as she flew up, and her knees, wrist, and right shoulder ached after hitting the floor.
"Sorry about that!" Jing called out from below.
Finally, the last of the barricades were cast off and the doors shattered beneath the weight of dozens of monsters. The children above could only watch helplessly while the two adults below fought for their lives.
Jing unleashed a blast of energy from his power gauntlets, destroying a good half of the present monsters, but more came to take their place. Master Da entered a deadly dance, twirling his sword about like a gymnast would twirl a baton. The blade sharpened by the ape's qi energy, cut through the monsters like butter. They all vanished into smoke as they were slain.
"Jing! Master Da!" screamed Xiao Mei.
As the number of monsters was reduced, that was when it showed up. A mass of tar muck slithered into the room. It had the shape of Sir Geoffrey, and its mouth was open in a silent scream of rage. The tar's eye holes were fixed only on Jing.
"You!" it said, pointing at the hero alchemist. "I will not let you ruin everything!"
"For a remnant of someone's heart, it's surprisingly smart," Jing muttered.
"Maybe the fact that whatever you made is glowing so bright that we can all see it through your pocket has something to do with that," Master Da said.
"Right . . ."
Jing looked up to the children.
"All of you run!" Jing said, before jumping out of the way of Tar Geoffrey's outstretched arm as it lashed out like a whip. "They're only after me! You should all be safe once you get as far away from here as possible!"
"But-!" Xiao Mei was cut off by Jane pulling her back.
"There's no time to argue," she snapped. "We need to get out of here. And I need all the help I can get carrying Sparrow's sorry behind to safety! And don't you start saying nonsense like 'Leave me and save yourselves'! I'll have none of that, you hear me?"
Sparrow closed his mouth.
"Oh no!" Xiao Yang suddenly cried out.
"What is it?" Jane asked.
"The vial with the cure you and Jing made fell out of Jing's pocket!"
"What!?" Jane screamed. She pushed Xiao Yang aside and peered through the gap on the floor. There at Jing's feet was the glass container that housed the formula she and the alchemist had just worked on. If must have fallen out of his pocket as he jumped away from the tar monster's whipping arms.
Jing saw what had happened and bent down to pick the vial up. But just as his fingers reached the vial, the tar monster attacked again. Master Da managed to sever the stream of tar from the rest of the monster but the rest continued to fly towards the alchemist. On instinct, Jing jumped back to safety, but away from the vial. Then the monster lunged towards the vial just as Jing did. The two ended up clashing, with Jing beating away at the monster with his staff while the monster tried lunging for Jing's throat.
The monster was pushed back by Jing's onslaught of attacks, but now he was even further away from the cure than he was before. Master Da also tried reaching for it, but it was all he could do just keeping the monsters' snapping jaws away from him.
One monster, however, managed to slip past the ape warrior and made its way to the cure.
"Oh no!" Jane cried out. "That monster's going to eat the cure!"
"No!" Xiao Mei cried. If that cure is destroyed, then there'll be nothing to stop Geoffrey from ruining the world. That couldn't be allowed to happen.
"H-hey! Xiao Mei, what are you doing?"
Xiao Mei got up and jumped down through the hole back into the room.
"No, don't!" shouted Sparrow. But it was already too late.
Xiao Mei landed on a nearby table and rolled across it before dropping to the floor. Living close to a Kung Fu master really paid off for her today. She sprang toward the vial, caught it into her hand and then pulled away just as the monster was about to snap its four jaws on her hand.
The radiance of the vial's contents caught Tar Geoffrey's "eyes". It broke away from its fight with Jing and lunged toward Xiao Mei next.
"Oh, no you don't!" Jing shouted. He made energy ball up at the end of his staff and brought it down with a mighty swing over Tar Geoffrey's head. Needless to say, the monster went splat. But that wasn't the end of Tar Geoffrey.
"The girl!" its voice rang. "Get the girl!"
Jing clicked his tongue, distorting his usual face of gentle calm. He dropped his staff, kicked off and scooped Xiao Mei off her feet before running as fast as he could.
"No choice," Xiao Mei heard him say. "It looks like you're going to help me deliver our medicine."
He unleashed a bolt of energy from his outstretched gauntlet-clad hand, creating a searing hole in the wall that he ran through.
The monsters turned away from Master Da and gave chase after the alchemist and the doctor's apprentice.
Everyone watched in silence as the room was emptied of monsters. Xiao Yang was frozen, watching her sister get carried off. She felt helpless staring where Xiao Mei had disappeared into. After all, her sister was now being chased by monsters and there was nothing she could do.
Finally, Jane broke the quiet, giving Xiao Yang a gentle tap on the shoulder.
"Come on," she said. "We better get going."
- Wisdom of the Dragon (Chapter Thirty-Five)
In Which Heroes Face Monsters