The heart of the Big Apple contained a large laboratory building with its logo on the front --- Ultratech. There was an upcoming twisted tournament that Ultratech threw annually, and the mad scientists were busy in the labs creating their participants. In a particular room, a group of scientists were either at computers/machines or gathered around the table. On the table was just an ordinary skeleton nearly covered with wires and other electric junk. It appeared that the scientists were about to bring the skeleton to life like Frankenstein.
"One more injection into the skull should do it," said Carl Taylor.
"What are you putting in that skull?" Marty Boyd asked.
"Cells, of course. We're using cell regeneration techniques; he needs live cells if he's going to come to life."
"Look, we've already got Riptor, Cinder, and Fulgore going. What are we going to do with a puny skeleton?"
"Marty, Marty, we're opening up doors here," Carl explained. "If this works, we'll create a whole skeleton army to help Ultratech gain control of this planet."
"Let me get this straight. If Ultratech wins the tournament, the planet will be overrun by man-eating dinosaurs, killer cyborgs, and the deadly army of the dead!?" Marty cried. "Uh-uh. After this tournament's over, I'm quitting. This whole Killer Instinct thing is beginning to make me throw up."
"Fine with me.......but you'll have to answer to Eyedol if you plan on quitting."
"Eyedol? Who's Eyedol?"
"He's this creature we brought out from the limbo. He was locked in battle with this other creature.......I think his name is......Gargos? Anyway, Eyedol is huge; he's like a two-headed cyclops. He has this big ol' club with spikes on it. We're using him to battle the finalist in the tournament."
"Even if the finalist is one of our guys?"
"Of course. There has to be a final battle. Anyway, if you really want to quit.......don't let me stop you."
Marty gulped with nervousness.
"We're ready, Carl," Joe called.
"Wait, something's missing," Carl said.
"What? We got cells, thunderstorms; what could be missing?"
"He needs a name."
"How about Bones?" Marty suggested.
"Nah, too lame," Carl told him.
"How about Skullhead?" Joe suggested.
"Oh God; that's even worse." Carl thought for a moment.
Joe thought of every bone name possible. "Femur? Sternum? Patella?"
"No, no, no, no, no!" Carl cried. "Come on, people; put some backbone into it!"
"Backbone?" asked Mike. "I have an idea. Let's name him after my favorite band --- Spinal Tap!"
Carl gave him a confused look. "Spinal Tap? Never heard of 'em. Hmm......maybe we can compromise. Take out the 'Tap,' and what do we get........Spinal."
"Spinal?" One by one, the other scientists nodded in approval.
"Everyone likes it," Carl announced. "All right. Spinal, it is. Now let's get this baby running and let 'er rip!"
Joe threw on the switch. The electricity flowed through the wires, charging up the skeleton. After a minute, Joe turned off the massive machine. Then silence.
"Did it work?" Marty asked.
Mike looked into the skeleton's eyes. Suddenly, they gave a red glow.
"Hey, it worked; his eyes are glowing!" he called.
The scientists watched eagerly as the skeleton's fingers began to twitch. Slowly, he sat up and looked down at all the wires attached to him.
"It's alive!! ALIVE!!!!" Carl screamed. "I've always wanted to say that."
"Uh.....here, let us get all those wires off you," Marty said as the scientists pulled off the wires.
The skeleton looked at his hands and curled up his fingers to make sure they were his. Then he looked at all the scientists, thoroughly confused. Finally, he spoke.
"What......what am I?"
"You are Spinal," Carl told him.
"Spinal.......I am Spinal."
"Right. Now that you're......alive, we need to get going."
"Go......where?" Spinal asked.
"President Sheridan wants to meet you," Carl explained. "His office is three doors down to the left. I'll call him and tell him that you're on your way."
He led Spinal out the door and pointed in the direction. Spinal took small steps, repeating Sheridan's name to himself.
"President Sheridan.......President Sheridan......"
Robert Sheridan is the President of Ultratech. His goal was to conquer the world using advanced technology and artillery.
When Spinal reached Sheridan's office, he saw the sign with the President's name. Spinal examined the sign carefully.
"P...Pres.....Pres....id....ent.....Sh....Sher...i....dan....." he muttered to himself. "This must be the place."
He grasped the doorknob and opened the door slowly. He stuck his head inside and looked about. President Sheridan sat behind his desk with the other Ultratech fighters standing in front of the desk. There was Riptor, the velociraptor-type creature with human intelligence; Cinder, a human turned into a being of living flame; and Fulgore, a deadly cyborg with the ponytail to kill. Upon Spinal's entry, the three Ultratech fighters turned simultaneously to face him. Spinal didn't exactly enter the room. Upon seeing his terrifying comrades, he shut the door and leaned against it.
"Wow! They actually brought a skeleton to life!" Cinder exclaimed. "That is so cool!"
"I wonder why he walked out like that?" Riptor asked.
"Because he's scared, you idiot," Fulgore told him.
"Quiet," Sheridan ordered. "Cinder, would you bring that skeleton back here?"
"Yes Sir, Mr. Sheridan," Cinder replied. "Yoo-hoo, skeleton man....."
Meanwhile, Spinal continued to lean against Sheridan's door. "I can't go in there! There are monsters in there!"
Suddenly, Cinder pulled the door open, causing Spinal to tumble into the office. Cinder and Riptor snickered as Fulgore didn't respond. Cinder quickly closed the door, trapping Spinal. Spinal stood up shakily and backed away from Cinder.
Sheridan called out to Spinal. "Hey, you. Come here."
Spinal approached the desk slowly and reluctantly, taking his place next to Fulgore. Fulgore looked down at him with his warm cyborg expression. Spinal looked back up at Fulgore, but interpreted that expression as saying, "I'm going to get you."
"So...." Sheridan called, grabbing Spinal's attention. "Did they give you a name yet?"
"Uh.......I am Spinal."
"Spinal......interesting," Sheridan said. "These are your Ultratech partners: Fulgore, Cinder, and Riptor. Yes, they look like killers......and they are.....but they won't hurt you. Well, now that everyone's here, I'll explain our agenda. You four are to participate in the Killer Instinct tournament. This tournament will be the key to world conquest; therefore, it is imperative that you all weed out those who seek to stop us. Any questions?"
Cinder raised his hand. "Do we get the tournament rules?"
"Yes, I'll get the rules to you prior to the beginning date. Any other questions?"
Spinal raised his hand reluctantly.
"Yes, Spinal? You have a question?"
Spinal kept his hand up and hesitated before asking his question. "What's a tournament?"
Riptor and Cinder chuckled yet again. Sheridan covered his eyes and groaned in frustration. Fulgore just looked up at the ceiling. Spinal slowly put his hand down and sighed, feeling ashamed of himself.
"Look, Sir, don't worry about it," Fulgore said, grasping Spinal's shoulders with his cold, metallic hands. "I'll explain the whole thing to him."
"Very well, Fulgore," Sheridan said.
"Well, Spinal, ready to go?" asked Fulgore.
Spinal stared up at him. The red glow in his eyes grew brighter and brighter, then disappeared abruptly. The skeleton tipped over, falling to the ground. Cinder and Riptor laughed even harder.
"What happened?" Sheridan asked.
"He's still alive; I can tell," Fulgore said.
"He fainted!" Riptor cried.
"I'll take care of him," Fulgore said, scooping Spinal into his arms. "I'll train him to become a fine warrior."
"While you're at it, take one of those acid gauze and wipe off that unsightly rotten flesh," Sheridan ordered. "I want him to be clean for the tournament."
Fulgore carried Spinal out of the office. Cinder and Riptor continued their senseless chuckling.
"And as for you two...." Sheridan began. "GET OUT!!!!"
"Whoa; yes, Sir!!" Riptor and Cinder replied in unison, running out of the room.
Fulgore paused in the hallway. "I heard that." He chuckled as he continued down the hall.
In an abandoned factory near the Ultratech lab, Spinal slowly came to. Fulgore was dipping a thin white gauze into a bowl and wiping Spinal's bones. He didn't even realize that Spinal was awake. Spinal tried to get up, but discovered that he was strapped to the table had had been placed on.
Fulgore paused. "Oh, Spinal, I didn't realize you were awake," he said. "You all right?"
"I think so......but where am I?" Spinal asked. "And why....?"
"It's all right, Spinal," Fulgore said. "This is the factory where I was built. I've only strapped you down so that you wouldn't fall off. Now let's get to it, shall we? You wanted to know what a tournament was?"
"Well, it's a competition where players go against one another. The winners move on while the losers are out. The number of players decreases until only one remains. That one player wins the tournament."
"President Sheridan wants us to eliminate the do-gooders so that Ultratech will reign supreme."
"Do-gooders?" Spinal asked. "What are do-gooders?"
"Do-gooders are opponents other than me, Cinder, Riptor, or Sabrewulf," Fulgore told him. "You haven't met Sabrewulf yet."
"Okay. So if we take out all the do-gooders, does that mean we'll have to fight each other?"
"Well.....I don't see why we have to. But even if the do-gooders defeat all five of us, there's still the secret weapon --- Eyedol."
"Uh.....I really can't describe him to you. They're setting him aside to fight the finalist. There's no way Ultratech can lose. Who knows, Spinal; maybe you'll be the lucky finalist to fight Eyedol."
"But Fulgore.....I don't even know how to fight," Spinal protested.
"That's about to change," Fulgore said. "You know why? Because I'm going to teach you."
He unstrapped Spinal from the table, and Spinal stood up.
"But first, I have something for you." Fulgore took out a small, red article of clothing.
"What is it?" Spinal asked.
"It's a headband. Just slip it onto your head."
Spinal tried fitting the headband around his face like a birthday party hat.
"No, no, no; you put it on like this....." Fulgore showed him how to put it on correctly. "There; it looks good on you. Now let the training begin. Follow me."
Fulgore and Spinal walked out of the factory together. Unknown to Spinal, Fulgore was taking him to a castle also near the main Ultratech building. Along the way, they passed Riptor and Cinder, who were ready to cause more trouble.
"Hey, girls, nice touch-up," Riptor said in a joking manner.
As they passed, Cinder reached out and slipped Spinal's headband off.
"Hey! Return my article of clothing!" cried Spinal. "Come on; Fulgore gave me that!"
"Aww, how sweet," Cinder gushed.
Spinal lunged at Cinder to get it back, but Cinder gave him a powerful thrust kick to the ribs, knocking him to the ground. Fulgore then grabbed Cinder's wrist tightly, loosening his grip on the headband. Fulgore snatched it and gave it back to Spinal.
"Well, Fulgore, I see you haven't turned this toothpick into a warrior yet," said Cinder.
"Listen, you snippy little upstart!" Fulgore snapped.
"You heard me. Spinal will be ready for the Killer Instinct tournament; I'll see to that."
"Oh.....right," Cinder said in disbelief.
"How will you manage that?" Riptor asked.
"I'll teach him all I know," Fulgore told them.
"Oh.....that shouldn't take too long." Riptor and Cinder cracked up again.
"It'll take longer than you think," Fulgore explained. "Not only will I teach him the way of the warrior, but I also need to help him understand the modern world."
"Well, you better move it, 'cause you ain't got much time, tin man," Cinder said.
"Why don't you two hyenas go back to the zoo where you belong?" Fulgore suggested. "Mark my words, Cinder; if Glacius doesn't make short work of you, then I will."
"Empty threats, Fulgore."
"See you later, girls," Riptor sang.
He and Cinder turned and walked away. Fulgore gave an exasperated sigh and took a few steps in the opposite direction. Spinal continued to stare at Riptor and Cinder, so Fulgore came back for him.
"Pay no attention to them; they're just a couple of jerks."
Fulgore and Spinal proceeded to the castle. There were skulls hanging all over the place.
"Hey, this is my kind of place," Spinal said.
Fulgore picked up a sword and shield that were propped against the wall. When he gave them to Spinal, he began to swing the sword around. Spinal seemed to swing it expertly.
"Spinal, that's good; you're a natural," Fulgore said. "Let's learn how to use your powers."
"But I don't have any powers," Spinal protested.
"Oh yes, you do, and I'm going to teach you how to use them. You need to scream and throw powerful flaming skulls."
To demonstrate his own power, Fulgore threw a powerful laser storm from his claws. The shot struck the wall, creating an explosion. Spinal was so shocked, he jumped back and fell to the floor.
"Good grief!" he cried.
"Now, Spinal, stand up and show me what you've got," Fulgore ordered, grabbing Spinal and pulling him to his feet.
"No, no, no, no, no!" Spinal sobbed. "I can't be like you, Fulgore! I can't blow things up! It's loud, it's messy, and-and-and it makes people mad!"
"Just do it!" Fulgore poked Spinal's back with his claws.
"All right; I'll do it!" Spinal launched a flaming skull out of his shield. The skull slammed into the wall and exploded. Spinal's eyes glowed bright with surprise.
"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" Fulgore asked. "Just do that to your opponents in the tournament, and put your name in the history books."
"In the history books? Yeah! Why couldn't I?" Spinal ran to Fulgore and joined hands with him. "I'm as good as warriors come!"
Cinder and Riptor went into a room in the Ultratech building. There was a cage in the back of the room, which inside stood some alien ice creature. His eyes narrowed upon Cinder and Riptor's entrance. Cinder dropped into a chair and couldn't stop laughing.
"Come on, Cinder, it's not that funny," Riptor said, swaying his tail back and forth.
"What are you laughing at!?" the alien demanded.
"It's nothing personal, Glacius, so just shut up and relax," Cinder replied.
"You know I'll be out of here before the tournament starts!" Glacius shouted.
"I'd like to see ya," Cinder taunted him.
Glacius used his morphing ability to attempt to squeeze between the cage bars, but he discovered that the space between the bars was protected in some kind of force field. Glacius gave up and backed toward the center of the cage.
"Now what was I laughing at?" Cinder asked himself. "Oh yeah!"
He broke into laughter again.
"Seriously, what's so funny?" asked Glacius.
"Fulgore needs his bolts tightened!" Cinder practically screamed. "He thinks he can turn that rag doll Spinal into a warrior!"
"You'd be amazed, Cinder," Riptor said. "What if Spinal turns out to be good?"
"Are you getting soft on me, Riptor?"
"You know that the one who loses is the one who underestimates his opponent."
"Spinal is not going to be our opponent."
"But Spinal is not going to underestimate his opponent."
"Okay, enough arguing," Cinder snapped. "Let's get out of here."
They began trudging out of the room.
"Hey!" Glacius screamed.
"Later, Frosty!" Riptor called.
Using his tail, he closed the door behind him.
"Okay, Spinal," Fulgore said. "Now that you've got your basic fighting style figured out, you need to work on your special moves, then we'll move on to combinations. You have a skeleport move."
"Yes, you do."
"Wait.....I think I've got it." Spinal slammed his hand on the ground. In a puff of smoke, he vanished for a split second, then reappeared in the same place.
"Hmm......that might work if you want to confuse and trick your opponent," Fulgore said with a chuckle. "But you need to do it for real so that you can gain your advantage. Try to reappear in another spot."
"Okay." Spinal disappeared again, then reappeared on Fulgore's shoulders. Fulgore looked up at him.
"Do you really want to reappear on your opponent's shoulders?"
"Sorry; I messed up." Spinal skeleported back to his original location.
"Okay, let's work on that...."
"When's the tournament?"
"Oh, it's only a week from now," Fulgore responded. "We have plenty of time."
Fulgore spent most of the time training Spinal to be a fighter, and it all paid off in the end. By the day of the tournament, Spinal was a formidable warrior. However, he kept his shy, harmless personality.
"Hey, Spinal, today's the day. Let's go, or we'll be late!" Fulgore exclaimed.
Spinal stood up, sword and shield in hand. He noticed a rat creeping by in his direction. With a yell, he raised his sword and brought it down on the rat, slicing in cleanly in half. Then he looked at the blood on the sword.
"Whoa, Spinal, you're letting your Killer Instinct loose already," Fulgore said. "I'm impressed. Now let's go!"
The pair raced out of the castle and headed for the Ultratech building.
Robert Sheridan stood in the auditorium of the Ultratech building. There was a really long bench where the competitors sat. The Ultratech creations sat together on one side while the "do-gooders" sat on the other. On the side were a ninja named Jago, an Indian named Chief Thunder, a boxer named T.J. Combo, a female agent named B. Orchid, and of course Glacius.
Combo was only in it for the money, but he wanted to be a good sport, too. He looked at Jago.
"What's up?" he asked. "What are you in here for?"
"I'm here to destroy the evil and to find my destiny," Jago told him.
"Well, I'm not evil," Combo said.
"You're not, but they are," Jago told him, pointing at Cinder, Riptor, and Sabrewulf.
"Uh.....we're still waiting for two more competitors, so we'll begin as soon as they arrive," Sheridan announced.
"Okay. By the way, I'm T.J. Combo." He extended his hand out to Jago.
"I know who you are," Jago said flatly. "I've seen your fights on Pay-Per-View."
"Okay.....then who are you?"
"My name's Jago."
"Well, let's be friends.....before we end up dead in this tournament."
"Okay." Jago and Combo shook hands.
Combo turned to Orchid. "Hey! Pssst, lady!"
Orchid gave him a grimace. "Just call me Orchid, you filthy punk."
"Okay......Orchid, want to join this perhaps short-time friendship?"
"Sure. Everybody needs friends," Orchid said flatly.
"You really think we're going to die, T.J.?" asked Jago.
"Hey, they don't call it the KILLER Instinct tournament for nothing," Combo told him. "Look at what we're up against: a werewolf, a dinosaur, a fireman. Do we stand a chance?"
"If we believe in ourselves, we do," Jago said. "So if you're so afraid of dying, why did you enter?"
"Hell, I'd give my life for fame and fortune."
Jago chuckled. "Sick. You are really sick. So, Orchid, what are you in for?"
"I can't tell you that," Orchid said.
"I know why; she wants to prove that women can fight just as well as men, right?" Combo asked.
Orchid shrugged as if to say, "Could be."
Combo looked at Glacius, who sat quite still.
"Oh, nuts," Glacius muttered under his breath.
"So......you new around here?" Combo asked.
Glacius turned to him slowly. "Yeah. I just dropped by......literally. Then those Ultratech creeps captured me and forced me into this freak show."
"Gee.....I'm sorry. Maybe you'll win and get your one-way ticket home."
"I know I will. I'm not staying in this death trap."
"So what planet do you come from?" Jago asked.
"If I tell you that, you'll launch a full-scale attack," Glacius said.
"We can't do that," Combo said. "We haven't been able to get past the moon. Do you live on the moon?"
"No; my planet is a lot farther than the moon," Glacius told him.
"Maybe we can help you get home somehow," Orchid said.
"That's very neighborly, but I don't think you'd understand the terms needed for the task."
Finally, Fulgore and Spinal raced into the auditorium.
"Hey, it's about time y'all got here!" Cinder shouted.
"What took you so long?" Sheridan asked.
"We made some final preparations," Fulgore told him.
"Mr. Sheridan.....it's early," Spinal groaned weakly.
"The early bird catches the worm, Spinal," Sheridan whispered. "Now take your seats, you two."
"Aww, look at the little skeleton," Combo gushed. "Isn't he cute?"
"Yeah, just adorable," Jago replied sarcastically.
Combo stood up and approached Spinal. "Look at this guy. So, what are you in the tournament for?"
"For no reason whatsoever," Spinal told him.
"Oh, you're so cute, I'd almost hate to break your neck," Combo said.
"Hey, leave him alone!" Fulgore ordered.
"Who's gonna make me?"
"I am, you geeky, pencil-necked, poor excuse for a human!"
"Hey, hey, save it for the tournament," Sheridan interrupted. "Now sit."
Combo returned to his seat. Meanwhile, Spinal was staring at Orchid. This was the first time he'd ever seen a woman, and she was truly intriguing.
"Fulgore, what's that?" he asked, pointing at her.
"That's a do-gooder," Fulgore told him. "Stay away from her."
Fulgore took a seat next to Cinder, leaving a space next to Sabrewulf. Of course, Spinal wasn't about to sit next to a drooling werewolf. Although there was no space between Fulgore and Cinder, he crammed himself between them, forcing Fulgore to scoot closer to Sabrewulf. Sheridan spoke aloud.
"Now that everyone's here, we'll introduce the competitors. When I call your name, come up here and stand on this little platform so that everyone can get a look at you," he announced. "First up, we have Chief Thunder."
Thunder stood up and walked over to the platform. The other fighters stared at him as he waved his tomahawks around.
"Now, Chief, why don't you tell everyone why you've decided to compete in the Killer Instinct tournament," Sheridan instructed.
"Because my brother Eagle entered the tournament last year, and I haven't seen him since," Thunder replied. "So I'm here to find out what happened to him."
"Good luck!" Combo called out of nowhere.
"Gee, thanks," Thunder said with a confused tone.
"You may sit down," Sheridan told him. "Next, we have Orchid. Come on up and tell us why you're here."
Orchid walked up and stood on the platform. "A lot of disappearances have occurred at the Killer Instinct tournaments, so I've been sent to find out what the hell's going on. I'm also here to put an end to Ultratech's threat once and for all."
"You poor woman," Cinder called.
"Well, good luck; I'm sure the good citizens of Earth are counting on you," Sheridan said. "Jago, you're up next."
As Orchid returned to her seat, Jago stood up on the platform.
"I've been led to this tournament as a fulfillment of my destiny, and I'm also here to destroy the evil within the competition," he announced.
"Yeah!" Combo yelled.
"Boo! Boo!" Cinder yelled.
Jago looked back and forth at them. "I should kill you both."
"Yes......thank you, Jago," Sheridan said. "Next is T.J. Combo, the King of the Ring."
Combo stepped up to the platform.
"King of the Ring?" asked Cinder. "I'd call him the Sultan of Steroids."
Combo stared at him wide-eyed. "Well, I'm here for the money, baby!" he announced. "My fame and fortune was lost after I was stripped of my heavyweight title."
"Didn't your mother ever teach you that cheaters never prosper?" Orchid asked.
Without answering, Combo returned to his seat.
"Glacius," Sheridan called. "Why are you in the tournament?"
Glacius stood on the platform. "Need I answer such a question? I'm going to escape from this place and get back home."
Sheridan stared at him. "Sit down, Glacius. Sabrewulf, you're next."
Glacius returned to his seat as Sabrewulf headed to the platform.
"I'm here to get a cure for my disease. I'm not supposed to be like this; I'm supposed to be human. This disease is killing me; I can't stand the hunger anymore!"
"Did he say 'hunger?' " Spinal asked, his voice trembling.
"It'll be okay," Fulgore told him.
"Fulgore, you're next," Sheridan called.
Fulgore stiffly walked up to the platform. "I'm Fulgore; I'm a cyborg prototype. I'm here to test my combat capabilities."
"Thank you. Spinal, get up here."
Spinal reluctantly stood up and walked to the platform. "Um......I am Spinal....."
"We know who you are; tell us why you're in the tournament."
"Uh...." Spinal thought for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know."
"Bonehead!" Combo shouted.
Riptor and Cinder cracked up. "Loser!!"
Sheridan sighed. "Sit down."
Spinal gladly returned to his seat. Cinder knew he was up next, so he raced to the platform.
"I'm supposed to be human, too, but a failed chemical experiment made me like this. These nice people from Ultratech are gonna give me freedom if I beat Glacius. Thank you, Mr. Sheridan; I could kiss you! Mm-wah!"
"Yeah, who are you?" Sheridan asked.
"You know who I am; I'm Cinder."
"Thank you. Last, but not least, we have Riptor."
Riptor walked up to the platform as Cinder sat down.
"I'm here to......show off my human intelligence in my dinosaur skills......and that's about it....." He sat back down.
"All right, the warriors have been introduced, and now we all know that from this group, a finalist will emerge," Sheridan announced. "That finalist will have the honor to face Ultratech's secret weapon. Eyedol, come in, please."
A large creature stepped into the room. Eyedol looked like a two-headed cyclops, with an eye and a horn on each head. He had two goat legs. In his right hand, he carried a large club with spikes. The tournament fighters stared at him in awe. Only T.J. Combo was able to emit a verbal response.
"Good God!" he exclaimed.
Although Spinal had no lungs, he was hyperventilating. "I'm not fighting that guy."
"If you win the tournament, you have to," Cinder told him.
"No way! I don't care if I win or not; I'm not fighting that guy."
"These Ultratech people sure are persistent to take over the world," Jago said.
"Come on; are you going to let Eyedol psyche you out?" Orchid asked.
Combo noticed a physical feature on Eyedol. "Eeeuw; he's wearing earrings!!!"
"T.J., get ahold of yourself!" Jago ordered.
"Well.....everybody," Sheridan called. "Eyedol is our trump card. He can't wait to kill somebody, so stay out of his presence until the final battle. You're all dismissed."
Spinal instantly jumped out of his seat and rushed out of the room. Fulgore followed.
"Wow; did you see how fast that skeleton took off?" Combo asked.
"His name is Spinal," Jago told him. "Remember that."
One by one, the tournament competitors walked out of the room, surprisingly calm. Sheridan looked up at Eyedol.
"Which one of those weaklings is going to be your finalist?" the two-headed creature asked.
"Well, there's no telling until the tournament is actually fought," Sheridan replied. "But my guess is that it'll either be Jago or Fulgore."
"I'll be ready to crush my opponent."
"I'm sure you will. Now I need to figure out who's fighting who."
"I'd like to see that cowardly little pile of bones in action."
"That can be arranged. I'll have him fight in the second battle. In fact, I'm kind of curious myself. I'm also suspicious. I'd better warn Fulgore..... Eyedol, you're dismissed."
"Catch you later, Sheridan," Eyedol said in a low, somewhat threatening voice. He turned and left the room.
Sheridan looked back in Eyedol's direction, then walked out the opposite direction.
Spinal rushed into a random room with Fulgore on his heels. Spinal immediately sat down.
"Where did he COME from?" he asked.
"Who, Eyedol? The scientists pulled him out of Limbo. They say he was locked in battle with another warlord named Gargos," Fulgore explained.
"Gargos? What does Gargos look like?"
"I have no idea."
Spinal sighed. "Man, I made myself look like a fool in there!"
"Calm down, Spinal; you still have a chance to prove your worth," Fulgore told him. "It's not like it's the end of the world."
"If Ultratech wins the tournament, then it will be the end of the world."
"What makes you think that?"
"Tell me this: What did Jago mean by 'evil in the competition?' " Spinal asked.
"Ultratech is evil. They want to take over the world; that is an evil thing," Fulgore explained. "Jago is a do-gooder; he wants to stop the evil. Understand?"
"Does that mean you're evil?"
"Of course I am. You should be evil, too."
"I'm not evil. At least I don't feel evil. I'm not sure that I know what 'evil' means."
Suddenly, Sheridan's voice boomed over the intercom.
"Fulgore, I need you in my office on the double. I have an urgent matter to speak to you about."
"On my way, Mr. Sheridan," Fulgore replied.
"What's going on?" Spinal asked.
"I'm sure it's nothing. Spinal, just stay here, and I'll be right back."
Fulgore left the room and Spinal sighed.
"An urgent matter cannot be nothing," he told himself. "I'm really confused."
"You wanted to see me, Sir?" asked Fulgore when he arrived in Sheridan's office.
"Yes, Fulgore. This urgent matter I mentioned concerns your pupil," Sheridan replied.
"You mean Spinal? What about him?"
"I'm just curious about him. Have you noticed how he's been acting; always looking frightened and confused. Did you see how he spoke to T.J. Combo? Did you see how he looked at Orchid?"
"He was just curious," Fulgore protested. "Are you implying that Spinal is going up against Ultratech?"
"It's a possibility, but I have no evidence," Sheridan told him. "All I ask is that you keep an eye on him. If he does try anything to thwart Ultratech, terminate him."
Fulgore's eyes grew brighter. "Terminate him........you want me to.......kill Spinal?"
"Yes, but remember, only if he acts against Ultratech. Will that be such a difficult task?"
"Very well. You're dismissed," said Sheridan.
"Yes, Sir." Fulgore turned sharply and left the room, hanging his head.
Fulgore was on his way back to the room where Spinal had temporarily taken refuge. He wasn't too happy with Sheridan's orders.
"I don't get it," he thought. "Spinal can't really be against Ultratech......can he? Whether he is or not, I can't just kill him."
He went back into the room. Spinal sat in an office chair drumming his fingers on the desk.
"What happened?" he asked innocently.
"Mmm.......Let's just say that Sheridan is disappointed in you," Fulgore told him.
"What have I done?"
"Nothing.....yet. Sheridan believes that you might be going up against Ultratech."
"I am against them.......emotionally," Spinal explained. "What is so important about taking over the world?"
"They're only changing the world for the better," Fulgore said. "Just think; we'll be using lasers instead of bullets. We'll be using television communication instead of some boring telephone. We're taking steps into the future; it'll all pay off."
"Of course it'll pay off! I've heard Ultratech's plans; they're going to enslave mankind! I also feel that Sheridan is enslaving me, just like he's enslaving you."
"He's not enslaving me; I serve him loyally."
Spinal only stared up at Fulgore as if to say, "How could you do this?"
Fulgore sighed. "Sheridan is right about you. You are against Ultratech."
"I just don't agree with them! They're going to take over the world. Why?"
"Why?" Fulgore thought for a moment. "I dunno. They just want to be superior, I suppose."
"I hate this!" Spinal cried. "I'm stuck here as a slave, I can't stop Ultratech, and I can't run away."
"Okay, okay; so you don't feel that taking over the world is right. Do you know what that means?"
"It means you're a do-gooder. All I can do is advise you not to try and stop Ultratech. Sheridan says that I have to terminate you if you do."
"You know, kill," Fulgore said.
"Oh, Fulgore, you might as well terminate me now," Spinal said.
"I......I can't do that."
"Spinal......I know that this is going to sound absurd, and I do feel ridiculous about saying this......" Fulgore stammered, "but......I......I love you."
Spinal's eyes conveyed a look of confusion. "What?"
"Yes, Spinal, you heard me right. I love you; you're special to me, like a little brother."
"I find that extremely hard to believe!"
Before the touching conversation could go on, Cinder charged into the room.
"Hey! Guess what!?"
Fulgore turned to Cinder and sighed. "Oh, Cinder, you spoiled a very special moment."
"Oh, too bad," Cinder said. "Anyway, the first battle's going to be between me and Glacius."
He began to dance around, singing. "I'm gonna win my freedom, I'm gonna win my freedom......."
Fulgore and Spinal glanced at each other.
"Hey, hey! Hold on, Cinder; you actually have to defeat Glacius first," Fulgore told him. "What's going to happen if he beats you?"
Cinder paused. "I dunno. Oh well, come on, Spinal!"
He grabbed Spinal's arm and pulled him out of the chair.
"Hey, wait! Where are you taking me!?" Spinal cried.
"You and I are going on a spy mission," Cinder told him.
"Oh really? Going to spy on Jago, Orchid, and the other do-gooders?" Fulgore asked.
"Hell no; we're going to spy on Eyedol," Cinder replied.
"Eyedol?!?!? No way! You're not getting me anywhere NEAR that guy!" Spinal screamed.
"Oh come on, Spinal; be a man," Cinder said, continuing to drag Spinal towards the door.
"No! Let me go!! Besides, Sheridan told us to stay out of Eyedol's presence!"
"We will be out of his presence; trust me. He won't see us."
Spinal stopped struggling. He looked at Fulgore.
"Go ahead, Spinal. As long as Eyedol doesn't see you, you'll be fine," Fulgore said.
Spinal turned to Cinder. "All right, but this is the last time I listen to you."
"Have fun," called Fulgore. "By the way, Cinder, when is your fight with Glacius?"
"Great; we have to wait ANOTHER day," Spinal sighed.
"Come on, Spinal," Cinder said. "I know just where Eyedol is."
Spinal reluctantly followed him back to the auditorium. Since Eyedol wasn't there, Cinder walked over to another door. Together, he and Spinal looked through the window. Eyedol was indeed standing in there holding some sort of book. In his other hand, he held a large pen and appeared to be writing in the book. Cinder caught a glimpse of the book's cover, then gasped.
"What is he doing?" Spinal asked.
"Eyedol has a diary!" Cinder exclaimed.
"Looks like a book to me."
"No, no. A diary is kind of a book. Some people like to write about their experiences in it. Frankly, I've always thought that diaries were for women."
"What do you suppose he's writing in there?" asked the always-curious skeleton.
"I don't know. Probably about how all the tournament competitors are a bunch of weaklings."
Eyedol looked up from his diary. He noticed the flickering orange light shining through the window. He closed his diary and slowly began to approach the door.
Spinal began shivering. "He's......he's coming this way!"
"You're right. Time to split." Cinder took off suddenly, like a rocket.
Spinal looked around, stunned to find Cinder gone. "Cinder?" He peeked through the window again. Eyedol was getting closer to the door. Trembling, Spinal rushed out of the room.
Meanwhile, Jago, Orchid, T.J. Combo, and Chief Thunder walked into their "apartment" in the Ultratech building. Inside the apartment were four separate beds adjacent to one another, and there was a window opposite the door. Jago immediately sat cross-legged on his bed.
"Boy, that Eyedol was really something, huh?" Combo asked.
"Not really. He never showed us his fighting skills," Orchid replied.
"He's not supposed to show us his skills," Jago said. "If we knew his skills, he wouldn't be so frightening, would he?"
"Well, we don't know that Eyedol can actually fight," Orchid said.
"We don't know that Eyedol can't fight either," Combo protested.
"What I want to know is what Sheridan meant by staying out of Eyedol's presence," Thunder said.
"It's simple," Combo told him. "He means if we see Eyedol, run for it! Apparently, Eyedol's not willing to wait until the final match to kill somebody. He sort of looks like a two-headed cyclops, don't you think?"
"Well, Thunder and I are going to grab something to eat," Orchid called. "You guys want anything?"
"I'll just have a salad," Jago replied.
"Hey, I like salad, too," Orchid said. "We already have something in common. T.J.?"
"Oh, I'll go for a liver," Combo told her.
"Eeeuw.......well, if that's what you want.......Come on, Thunder. Do you mind if I call you Thunder?"
"No, that's fine," Thunder said.
The two walked out of the room to pick up the food. Jago closed his eyes and began to concentrate.
"You know, I'm really curious about Spinal," Combo said, interrupting Jago's concentration.
"Why?" Jago asked, without opening his eyes.
"I don't think he likes working for Ultratech. He went up there and said that he doesn't know why he's in that tournament. He didn't say that he was loyal to Ultratech, and then he didn't want to incriminate himself by saying that he's against them."
"But then again, he might be pretending to be cute and charming to gain our sympathy. I think it's working; I feel sorry for the little guy."
"And then why would Riptor and Cinder laugh at him and call him a loser?" Combo babbled.
Jago groaned and hung his head down. "Oh, T.J., would you give your motor mouth a rest so that I can meditate!?"
"Okay." Combo sighed with boredom as he reclined on his bed. "What do we do? When's the first fight? Who's the first fight?"
As Jago meditated, a black cat entered the room, jumped onto his bed, and started rubbing itself against his knee. It purred and meowed. Jago opened his eyes.
"Yes.......the Tiger Spirit has come to watch over me during this tournament......" he muttered, stroking the cat's fur.
Combo sat up. "Tiger Spirit?"
"Yeah; it's my all-time master. I have dedicated my life to it, and it has guided me all the way," Jago explained.
Combo nodded. "Cool."
Orchid and Thunder returned to the apartment with the food.
"Okay, we're back," Orchid called. "Ohhh, where'd the cat come from?"
"I don't know; it just walked in here," Combo told her.
"Aww, I love cats," Orchid cooed, joining Jago in petting it. "Kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty......"
Suddenly, the cat hopped off the bed and left the room.
"Where's it going?" Combo asked. "Oh well; let's eat!"
Sheridan was changing his mind in his office. Instead of waiting until tomorrow, he decided to have Glacius and Cinder fight today. While he was pondering, Cinder raced into the office, still at rocket speed. He stopped abruptly in front of Sheridan's desk, blowing a puff of smoke all over the room.
"Hey, Mr. Sheridan, guess what!?" Cinder exclaimed.
Sheridan coughed the smoke and waved it away with his hand. "Yes....Cinder, what is it?" he gasped.
"Eyedol has a diary!" Cinder told him.
"Really? How did you discover this?"
"Oh, Spinal and I just happened on by and saw him writing his diary."
"I see. Well, Cinder, since you're here, I'll inform you that I've moved your fight with Glacius to today instead of tomorrow," Sheridan said.
"Really? Cool," Cinder replied.
"Better tell Glacius to get his cold butt into the battlefield. Let the tournament begin!"
"All right!!" Cinder started out of the room.
"And Cinder...." Sheridan called.
"Don't jet into my office like that again."
"Oh. Sorry 'bout that." Cinder left the office.
The cat skipped through the hallway until it was suddenly seized by two reptilian claws. Riptor slowly lifted it from the ground. The cat gave a meow of fear.
"Aww, life's not fair, is it?" Riptor asked. "Nature can be cruel.......because you shall never again see the light of day."
He opened his mouth wide, drooling. Little did he realize that Spinal had dropped by and witnessed Riptor's playing with his "food." Riptor's mouth opened even wider and he slowly lowered the cat into it. At the last second, Spinal reached out and snatched the cat from him.
"Hey! That's my lunch!" Riptor shouted. "Give that back, you little brat!!!"
Spinal clutched the cat tightly in his arms, backed away from Riptor, and finally turned around and ran. The hungry velociraptor gave chase. With a clever skeleporting tactic, Spinal managed to lose him, then he walked into a room. Fulgore was in the room watching the Glacius/Cinder fight in the monitors. He turned as Spinal came in.
"Ah, Spinal, nice of you to visit."
"What's going on?" Spinal asked.
"Cinder is fighting Glacius," Fulgore told him.
"I thought that wasn't until tomorrow."
"Well, Sheridan decided that there was no reason to wait."
"It's hard to tell."
Spinal sat down and released the cat. To his surprise, the cat began rubbing its body against his ribcage, meowing with gratitude. Fulgore turned.
"Where'd you get the cat?" he asked.
"I just found it in the hallway; Riptor was about to have it for lunch," Spinal replied.
"He's a velociraptor; they eat meat."
"Haven't they heard of a steak? Or Riptor could eat the rats in the castle."
Fulgore turned back to the fight. Cinder was throwing numerous attacks in every direction, but Glacius kept on liquidizing to avoid him. Cinder was getting frustrated.
"Hold still, damn it!" he cried.
Jago and T.J. Combo were watching the fight from their apartment. Upon Cinder's swearing, they chuckled. Combo was munching on popcorn while Jago was nibbling on a sandwich. Orchid came in and sat down next to Combo. She picked up some popcorn from his bowl.
"Who's winning?" she asked.
"Apparently Glacius," Jago said.
Glacius came up from his liquid state, morphed his fist into an axe, and nicked Cinder's shoulderblade.
Orchid grimaced. "I'm not hungry anymore," she sighed.
"All right, then." Combo continued to pig out on the popcorn, and Jago continued nibbling on his sandwich.
"How can you guys eat while watching all this gore?" Orchid asked.
Jago and Combo shrugged their shoulders.
"Yeah, this is my kind of fight," Combo said. "Go, Glacius!!"
In the other room, Fulgore noticed the cat rubbing against Spinal.
"Oh, Spinal, I think it likes you," he cooed.
"I'm flattered," Spinal said. "Wow, that Glacius looks tough. I wonder if he'll get to fight Eyedol?"
"Maybe. I heard that Eyedol is going to show up after every match and attempt to kill the winner."
"Yeah. He'll try to kill the loser, too, if the winner wins by means of surrender. So if a person wins the match, he or she has to run away from Eyedol. Luckily, Eyedol usually won't give chase."
At that moment, Riptor came into the room. He pointed directly at Spinal, who again clutched the cat tightly.
"You stole my lunch!" he growled.
"Riptor, leave the pussycat alone," Fulgore said. "You can wolf down the rats at the castle if you're that hungry."
"Wait a minute; I thought that Cinder was supposed to fight tomorrow," Riptor cried out of nowhere.
"That's what we all thought," Fulgore told him. "Glacius is really putting Cinder's fire out. So Spinal, did you find out anything on your little spy mission?"
"Oh yeah," Spinal replied. "Eyedol has a diary."
Riptor burst out laughing while Fulgore slowly turned to his pupil.
"Are you serious?" the cyborg asked.
"That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!" Riptor exclaimed. "Eyedol, a diary!?!?!"
"It's true," Spinal told him. "If you don't believe me, just ask Cinder."
"Too late," Fulgore snapped.
The other fighters turned to the monitor. Glacius knocked Cinder to the ground with a fierce headbutt. Cinder stood up, then clutched his head tightly. Glacius grasped Cinder's shoulders. Little by little, Cinder's body began to freeze, turning into an ice block.
"What is that snowman doing?" Riptor demanded.
Soon, Cinder was nothing but a fragile ice statue. Glacius took a step back, then gave him a gentle shove to the forehead. The ice statue tipped over, shattering as it hit the ground.
"Well, he's dead," Combo muttered from the apartment. "Way to go, Iceman!!!"
"Wait 'til I get my hands on that guy!" Riptor yelled.
"Cinder's dead; big deal," Spinal muttered.
"Aren't you the least bit sorry?" asked Riptor.
"Why should I be? All he did was laugh at me, ridicule me, and call me a loser; so did you! He deserved to die. Now that the fight's over, I'll be going home."
"You hear that, dino? You hurt his feelings!" Fulgore added. "Wait, Spinal, the fight's not over yet. Glacius still has to escape from Eyedol."
Spinal returned his attention to the screen. Glacius roared into the air, relishing his victory. As Fulgore had said, Eyedol appeared in the battlefield. Glacius turned and backed away.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Eyedol has appeared, Glacius is backing up. What will he do, folks?" the announcer called.
Glacius noticed a vent on the ground behind him. So he quickly stood on top of it. Suddenly, he dropped into liquid form, sinking into the vent. Eyedol rushed over, but Glacius was already out of his reach. Eyedol raised his club and smashed the vent with it, but it did no good.
"What an escape, folks!" the announcer yelled. "Glacius escapes through a vent! Don't you wish you could liquefy yourself like that?"
"Well.......it could come in handy every now and then," Combo replied. Jago and Orchid nodded.
Eyedol disappeared from the battlefield.
"Okay, now I'm leaving," Spinal announced.
He turned and left the room. Of course, the black cat followed.
Spinal was on his way out of the Ultratech building. Suddenly, Sabrewulf leaped in front of him, drooling hideously. Spinal screamed, turned, and ran down the hall as Sabrewulf gave chase. Spinal rushed into a random room to escape. That random room was President Sheridan's office.
Sheridan looked up from his tournament schedule to see Spinal leaning against the door, gasping.
"Is there a problem, Spinal?" he asked.
"Uh.....not really," Spinal replied.
"Come on, Spinal; be honest."
"Well......Sabrewulf was chasing me, trying to eat me. Sabrewulf scares me; I hate dogs."
Sheridan chuckled. "Well, Spinal, you're going to have to get over it, because Sabrewulf is your first opponent."
"WHAT?!?!?" Spinal screamed. "Mr. Sheridan, you can't do this to me!?"
"Yes, I can, and I just did. The fight is tomorrow morning; don't be late."
Spinal groaned with fear and walked out of the office. The black cat was waiting right outside. Spinal proceeded on to the castle and sat on a hard, wooden bed. The cat followed him the whole way.
"Oh, what a day," he sighed, petting the cat. "Can you believe it, kitty? Sheridan expects me to fight Sabrewulf!? He knows I hate dogs!"
The cat purred with pleasure as it rubbed itself against Spinal's ribcage.
"AAIIIIEEE, that tickles!" he squealed. "I've found myself another friend in this savage world. At least a cat won't chew up your bones."
He reclined in his bed and went to sleep. When he woke up the next morning, the sun was already in the sky. Spinal sat up and stretched thoroughly. The cat copied his action. Spinal picked up his sword and shield.
"Just stay here, kitty," he said. "This is my home now. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to return."
He ran out of the castle and into the Ultratech building. But where to go from there? Spinal went into Sheridan's office.
"Hello? Mr. Sheridan?"
"Spinal, what are you doing here?" Sheridan asked. "You're supposed to be in the Control Room."
"Oh. That's just why I came here." Spinal walked out and looked for the Control Room. He finally found it about five minutes later. Sabrewulf was waiting in there, along with Riptor and Fulgore.
"Spinal, you made it!" Fulgore exclaimed.
"Took you long enough," Riptor muttered.
"I am sorry; I still don't know my way around this labyrinth," Spinal said.
Sabrewulf licked his lips, drooling excessively. Suddenly, he growled ferociously at his opponent. Spinal let out a shriek and jumped back.
"I don't know if I can do this, Fulgore," he said.
"Look, I know that you've only been trained for a week, and you've never been in a real fight before," Fulgore told him. "Therefore, you have every right to be nervous. But just remember what I taught you, and you'll be fine. Have confidence in yourself; even us bad guys have to follow that rule. Now get out there and make me proud."
Spinal sighed. "Okay....."
"Okay, get ready to teleport to your battle location."
"Where's that?" Spinal asked.
"The castle rooftop," Fulgore told him. "Ready, go!"
He pressed a button, causing Spinal and Sabrewulf to teleport out of the Control Room. Fulgore quickly rushed to turn on the monitors. The two fighters reappeared on the castle rooftop.
"Ready!" the announcer called.
Sabrewulf immediately charged at Spinal, growling viciously. Spinal screamed and quickly moved aside. Sabrewulf jumped on Spinal, grabbing his shoulders. With a yell, Spinal threw the wolf's arms away, then gave him a thrust kick to his chest. Sabrewulf lowered his stance and lashed out with his jaws, trying to bite Spinal's ankles. Spinal staggered back, then lost his balance and fell down. Sabrewulf jumped on top of him, clawing his face. Spinal struggled to get his shield over his face. When he finally succeeded, he shoved Sabrewulf away and kicked his stomach. Spinal stood up quickly.
"Yes! He's doing all right, so far," Fulgore yelled.
"So far, yeah; but Sabrewulf is going to let him have it," Riptor said. "If Cinder didn't survive, neither will Spinal."
"Cinder only died because of his own foolishness," Fulgore told him. "Spinal knows better."
Meanwhile, T.J. Combo was in the apartment watching the fight from there. Jago, Orchid, and Chief Thunder were still asleep. As the fight progressed, Jago woke up. He stretched himself and yawned, then looked at Combo.
"T.J., you're up early," he said.
"I wouldn't miss any of these fights for the world," Combo told him. "Especially a fight between a dog and his breakfast. Jago, I am literally on the edge of my seat."
"So, who're you rooting for?"
"I don't know. I'm kinda leaning towards Spinal."
Spinal lashed out with his sword, swinging it in loops, nicking Sabrewulf here and there. Then Spinal jumped back again. Sabrewulf moved in with a claw, which Spinal stopped with his shield. Then Sabrewulf used his other claw and scratched Spinal's ribcage. The terrified skeleton warrior attempted a roundhouse, but the werewolf grabbed his ankle and turned him around. Before Spinal could recover, Sabrewulf hooked his massive, hairy arms under Spinal's, catching him in a full nelson wrestling hold. Spinal lunged forward, trying to break free, but the wolf was just too strong. Sabrewulf gave him a rough jerk, causing him to drop his weapons. Spinal grabbed Sabrewulf's wrists and tried to pull them off, but that was just as futile. Sabrewulf sniffed at his healthy bones.
"Let go of me, you disgusting beast!!!" Spinal screamed.
Fulgore was also on the edge of his seat in the Control Room. "Come on, Spinal; you can escape!"
"Fat chance, Fulgore," Riptor said. "There's no way he can escape that carnivorous canine."
"He can escape," Fulgore told him. "He can if he'd just use his power."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk." Riptor shook his head, swaying his tail back and forth.
"Come on, Spinal!" Combo cried from the apartment. "You can't let that wolf eat you!"
"You really trust him?" Jago asked.
"Let's just say this: Whether he's good or bad, I like him."
Sabrewulf opened his mouth wide and bit Spinal's right shoulder. Spinal screamed in pain and panic as the wolf began chewing him up vigorously.
"I can't let this predator eat me!" Spinal thought frantically. "I have to remember what Fulgore taught me! He taught me something.......but what was it?"
"Come on, Spinal," Fulgore thought from the Control Room. "Use the skeleport!"
"Oh yeah," Spinal thought as if he'd heard Fulgore. Suddenly, he disappeared from the wolf's furry grip. Sabrewulf lost his balance and fell to the ground. Spinal reappeared right behind him, then stomped on him with both feet. Of course, Spinal's little feet can't do much damage, as Sabrewulf quickly stood up. Spinal quickly grabbed his weapons again. The wolf charged at him, but Spinal moved aside and tripped him over with his sword. As Sabrewulf pushed himself off the ground, Spinal brought both his shield and the handle of his sword down on the back of the canine's head. Sabrewulf lay motionless after that as the fatigued skeleton backed away. Spinal started crying as he thought about his close victory.
"I did it," he sobbed. "I beat him. I really beat him!"
His crying slowly lessened, and soon he was laughing menacingly.
"See, Riptor, I told you he'd win," Fulgore said with a chuckle.
"I'm surprised," Riptor said.
In the apartment, Spinal's laughter made Jago and Combo laugh.
"Way to go, Spinal," Combo said. "He's so cute."
"Uh-oh," Jago muttered out of nowhere.
Eyedol teleported to the castle rooftop to attack Spinal. The skeleton warrior gasped and backed toward the edge. Eyedol raised his club.
"Time to die, little coward.......again," he said in a low voice.
Spinal stood at the very edge of the roof as Eyedol charged toward him, yelling. Spinal shivered so hard, his teeth were chattering. As Eyedol came near, Spinal skeleported to the center of the roof. Eyedol was unable to stop himself, and flew off the roof. Spinal gasped again.
"What have I done?" he asked himself, skeleporting back to the roof edge.
Fortunately, Eyedol landed in the black moat surrounding the castle. He leaped out quickly, as piranhas were attacking him. He pulled off the piranhas that had stuck to him. Then he looked up at the top of the castle.
"He'll pay for that......dearly."
Back in the Control Room.......
"I'd better teleport Spinal back here," Fulgore said, pressing some buttons on the control console.
"Eyedol is not happy with what Spinal did," Riptor told him.
Within seconds, Spinal was teleported to the Control Room.
"Hey, Spinal, you did it!" Fulgore called. "Good job!"
Spinal dropped his weapons and clutched his right shoulder tightly. There were many nasty teeth marks on it, as well as claw marks all over his body.
"He's hurt," Riptor said. "Better lay him to rest."
"Oh, you'll be okay, won't you, Spinal?" Fulgore asked.
Spinal groaned in pain, then passed out. Fulgore and Riptor looked down at him. Fulgore picked him up and draped him over his shoulder, then picked up his weapons.
"I'm taking him to the castle. He seems to like it there," the cyborg announced.
"Fine, fine," Riptor said.
Fulgore carried Spinal out of the room. "Too bad Cinder wasn't around to witness his victory."
Fulgore reached the castle. Fortunately, there was no sign of Eyedol. Fulgore carried Spinal inside and placed him on his bed. The black cat stared up at the cyborg innocently.
"Well done, Spinal," Fulgore said aloud. "Poor thing; he's exhausted."
He gently touched Spinal's forehead, then walked out of the castle.
Chief Thunder and Orchid woke up in the apartment. Combo stood up to greet them.
"Hey, you guys missed the fight," he said.
"Fight? What fight?" Orchid asked.
"You know, Spinal versus Sabrewulf," Combo explained. "Spinal won the fight, man; it was so cool. And you should've seen what he did to Eyedol at the end. He made Eyedol fall off the castle rooftop."
"Uh-oh. That's not good," Thunder said. "No more Eyedol, huh?"
"No, Eyedol survived."
"How did Spinal manage to defeat Sabrewulf?" Orchid asked.
"Hey, he was clever," Combo said. "Wasn't he, Jago?"
"Yeah, I suppose," Jago replied. "Hey, T.J., when's your fight?"
"I don't know yet."
At that moment, Sheridan's voice spoke over the intercom.
"T.J. Combo, may I see you in my office, please?"
"Uh......yes, Mr. Sheridan; I'm on my way," Combo called back. "Hmm, I wonder why?"
"I'll go with you," Jago said.
The two left the room. Orchid looked at Thunder.
"Now how do we find out what Spinal's capable of?" she asked.
"We really don't need to know," Thunder said. "A little sap like him shouldn't be much trouble."
Meanwhile, Jago and Combo reached Sheridan's office.
"I'll wait here," Jago said.
"See you." Combo stepped inside. "Mr. Sheridan?"
"T.J., come in," Sheridan called.
Riptor was already standing in front of Sheridan's desk, swaying his tail back and forth. Combo stepped in and stood next to him.
"T.J., meet your opponent," Sheridan said, gesturing to Riptor.
"Wassap?" Combo said to Riptor.
Riptor snorted in response.
"Okay, be at the Control Room at 3 p.m. sharp," Sheridan continued.
"You got it, Mr. Sheridan," Combo said.
Riptor nodded, then turned to Combo and flapped his tongue out like a lizard. Combo turned to him and gave him the raspberry.
"You're both dismissed."
Combo turned around and left the office while Riptor walked in another direction. Jago waited outside.
"What happened?" he asked.
"It was just a notice. I get to fight Riptor at 3 p.m. sharp."
"Whoa, Riptor, huh? Let's get back and tell the others."
The boys began walking in the hallway. When they made a turn, they saw Spinal walking a distance ahead of them.
"Hey, it's Spinal," Combo whispered. "Come on."
"T.J., leave him alone," Jago said. "Who cares what he's doing when he's not fighting?"
"I'm just curious. I just want to know what he's up to."
Spinal walked into a room without bothering to close the door. Jago and Combo stopped outside of that room and looked in. It was some sort of kitchen. Spinal pulled a large bowl out of the cabinet and set it on the counter. Then he opened the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of milk. He turned the carton upside down over the bowl and shook it. Nothing came out. Spinal looked at the carton, then tried again. Still nothing.
"What's the matter with this thing?" he asked himself, banging the carton on the counter.
Jago and Combo kept a laugh in.
"I think he needs a little help," Combo whispered.
"I wouldn't," Jago replied.
Ignoring Jago, Combo tiptoed into the kitchen with a wide grin on his face.
"Hello, little bone boy," he said in a singsong voice. "You having problems?"
"Leave me alone," Spinal ordered. "Can't you see I'm busy?"
"Hey, I just wanted to help out. Take my advice, Spinal." Combo snatched the carton from Spinal and opened it. "Open it first."
He poured the milk into the bowl, crushed the carton, and threw it in Spinal's face. "How hard can that be?"
"Thank you," Spinal said coldly, shoving Combo aside. He reached into a drawer and pulled out a kitchen towel. He dipped the towel into the milk and pressed it against his wounded shoulder.
"Oh, I see; calcium is good for bones," Combo said. "So.....you beat Sabrewulf, huh? Impressive."
"Well......I didn't have much of a choice," Spinal said.
"Hey, Spinal, guess what? I get to fight this afternoon. I get to fight the big lizard."
"Oh. Good luck."
"Good luck? What do you mean by 'good luck'?" Combo asked.
"I never liked Riptor. He's a jerk," Spinal told him.
He dipped the towel into the milk again and rubbed his entire body.
"So, what abilities does Riptor have?" Combo asked.
"I don't know what Riptor's abilities are," replied Spinal. "Look, I gotta go."
He walked out of the room. Combo stepped outside, then he and Jago walked the rest of the way to the apartment.
Spinal walked around the Ultratech building. He eventually found Fulgore practicing his moves in the Training Room. So Spinal felt free to walk in. Fulgore paused and turned.
"Ah, Spinal, you're back," he said. "How do you feel?"
"I'm still sore," Spinal replied. "What are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?" Fulgore threw an inward kick to a punching bag, destroying it. The beans spilled all over the floor.
"Exactly! Come here, Spinal, have a seat."
Fulgore led Spinal to the bench press, sat him down and stood behind him.
"What are you doing now?" Spinal asked.
"I just want to talk to you, that's all," Fulgore said. "So you beat Sabrewulf. I knew you could do it. I really enjoy having you for a pupil."
"Fulgore.....I don't know what to say," Spinal stammered.
Fulgore clamped his hand over Spinal's mouth, firmly holding his jaws together. "Then don't say anything. People get speechless sometimes. I found out about the next fight. Do you know who's fighting next?"
Spinal knew, but was unable to respond.
"Riptor is fighting T.J. Combo," Fulgore went on. "Cool, huh?"
"In fact, the fight is going to take place in this very room."
"Mmph! Mmmph!!!" Spinal screamed through Fulgore's hand.
"You wanted to say something, Spinal?" Fulgore asked, releasing him.
"Thank you!" Spinal cried wearily.
"For letting me go!"
"Oh, no problem. By the way, Spinal, I'm sure that Eyedol's not happy with what you did."
"I didn't mean to make him run off the edge like that. I figured that he would stop before he fell."
"Apparently, you figured wrong," Fulgore said. "Frankly, I think it gave the other warriors an easy tactic to use against him. So much for the final fight."
"Well, I can't do anything right, can I?" Spinal asked.
"Oh yeah, there's one other thing," Fulgore said. "Sheridan wanted to see you in his office as soon as you came back."
"Okay, I'm going." Spinal walked out of the Training Room and straight to Sheridan's office. "Mr. Sheridan?"
"Spinal, do come in," Sheridan called.
Spinal walked up to the desk. "Fulgore says that you wanted to see me."
"True. I just wanted to congratulate you on your first round victory."
"Yeah......good for me....." Spinal said in a depressed tone.
"Yes, good for you, Spinal. I must say that I am surprised. Well done!"
"Spinal, is there something wrong that I should know about?"
"No, Sir. I'm just......tired."
"Very well then," said Sheridan. "Good luck the rest of the way. I know you'll make me proud."
"Yes, Sir. Bye, Mr. Sheridan," Spinal said softly as he walked out of the office.
Orchid and Chief Thunder sat in the apartment. Thunder was singing some Indian song while Orchid was reading a romance novel. They both became anxious when Jago and T.J. Combo returned.
"We're back," Jago said.
"What did Sheridan want?" Orchid asked.
"He just wanted to tell me that I'm fighting Riptor this afternoon," Combo told her. "I gotta be there at 3 p.m. sharp."
"Riptor, huh? I don't know what to say."
"Hey, look at that," Thunder said out of nowhere.
The group turned to the vent. They all saw what Thunder saw. Some glowing blue slime oozed out of the tiny crevices. When it was all out, it formed puddle on the floor, and the center began to rise and take shape. Finally, a familiar alien figure was formed.
"Phew! Glacius, you had us scared!" Jago cried.
"What were you doing in the air conditioner?" Combo asked.
"T.J., you remember; Glacius oozed into the vent to escape from Eyedol," Jago told him.
"That's something I'll never do again," Glacius said. "I thought I'd never find my way out of there."
"So, are you ready for round two?" Combo asked.
"No. I don't care about this tournament," Glacius explained. "I'm going to look for supplies so that I can fix my ship and get home. Where could I find the supplies?"
"There's the Good-Year store down the street," Combo said. "If that's not enough, you could try the nearest airport. I'm sure they have supplies for their airplanes."
"I wouldn't know about that," Jago said. "I'm sure Ultratech has something that might help, although I don't know where."
"Oh never mind. I'll just ask the Ultratech creeps."
"How are you going to get them to cooperate?" Orchid asked.
"Interrogation. Let's see, Riptor and Fulgore are too strong, so that leaves the little skeleton as my best bet."
"Don't be too hard on him," Combo said. "He'll tell you what he knows......if he knows anything."
"Do you know what you're saying?" Orchid asked.
"Of course. Believe me, I know; I just talked to him," Combo told her. "He's really not that bad."
"Well, I'll just look around some," Glacius said. "But first, I'd better pick up a few things from my ship."
Glacius left the apartment to begin his search. When he arrived at his crashed ship, however, Carl and Marty were already digging around. Glacius went to a unoccupied drawer. He pushed a button that caused it to open and pulled out a disk of some sort.
Carl pulled out a laser gun. "Hey, Marty, check this out!"
Glacius quickly rushed over and snatched the gun. "I'll just relieve you of that, if you don't mind."
"Glacius!" Carl gasped. "I didn't hear you come in."
"This is MY ship. Nobody gave you permission to rob me blind," Glacius scolded.
"Mr. Sheridan did," Carl said.
Glacius aimed the weapon at him. "Get out."
"Marty, let's go."
"You don't have to tell me twice."
The trembling scientists scrambled out of the ship. Glacius glanced at the disk in his hand.
"I think this is all I'll need. Now to find supplies."
The alien returned to the Ultratech building. Jago, Orchid, Combo, and Thunder joined him.
"Glacius, we're going to help you," Jago said.
"Thanks, people," Glacius said. "It's good to know that not ALL Earthlings are bad."
"Some people do have very small minds," Combo said. "Just ignore them."
"This looks like a good place to look," Thunder called, pointing to the storage room.
The group walked inside. Glacius set the laser weapon down and began digging through a drawer. The others dug through other drawers, pulling out whatever they thought would be useful. As they searched, Spinal suddenly walked into the room.
"Uh-oh," he muttered.
Glacius instantly snatched his laser weapon and fired it at Spinal. The shots made tiny explosions when they hit the wall. Spinal screamed and ran out of the room. Glacius took a puddle form and slid under the closed door in pursuit. Spinal ran through the halls as fast as he could. Unfortunately, Glacius managed to get his puddle under Spinal's feet. Two alien hands shot up from the puddle and grabbed Spinal's ankles, causing him to trip over. More alien hands rose from the puddle, grabbing Spinal all over. It was like being stuck in a puddle of tar. Spinal's desperate struggles were quite futile, so he started screaming.
"Let me go, you!!" he screamed. "Fulgore!!"
The four humans trailed behind and stared in confusion. Suddenly, Fulgore teleported to the hallway. When he saw Spinal stuck in Glacius' trap, he reached down and pulled him out. Glacius rose to his warrior form.
"Glacius, what on Earth are you doing!?" Fulgore scolded.
"I was trying to interrogate him, but he wouldn't cooperate," Glacius told him.
"He would've cooperated if you hadn't fired that cosmo-blaster at him," Combo snapped. "Right, Spinal?"
"I don't know," Spinal said weakly.
"Listen, blob-eo," Fulgore went on. "If I catch you picking on my pupil again, you'll end up as ice cubes in the kitchen, you got it!? You big, blue booger!!"
He turned around sharply and stormed down the hall with Spinal. Glacius tried to lunge at them, but Jago and Combo grabbed his arms.
"Now, now, Glacius; there's a time and a place for everything," Jago said. "But this isn't it."
"You'll have your chance to loosen a few screws in the tournament," Combo added. "Now come on; let's continue our search for supplies."
"T.J., isn't it about time for your fight?" Thunder asked.
"Oh snap; you're right!" Combo cried. "See y'all later......I hope."
"Good luck, T.J......ugh," Orchid muttered.
Combo rushed all the way to the control room. To his surprise, Fulgore and Spinal were in there, along with Riptor swaying his tail again.
"Wow, you showed up!" Fulgore exclaimed.
"Spare me the praise, tin man," Combo said. "I just want to get this over with."
"Don't mess with me!" Riptor cried. "I'm hungry, and you wouldn't like me when I'm hungry."
"I don't like you now," Combo snapped.
Fulgore and Spinal snickered at the remark.
"You two ready?" Fulgore asked.
"Yeah. This guy's gonna be on my dinner plate," Riptor responded.
"In your dreams," Combo told him.
"Teleporting now," Fulgore announced.
Combo and Riptor were teleported out of the Control Room and into the Training Room. Fulgore switched on the monitor and sat down.
"Come on, Spinal; have a seat."
"Fulgore, I am not going to sit in your lap," Spinal told him. "There's gotta be another chair around here somewhere."
"Oh, forget it. I'll stand." Fulgore stood up and Spinal sat in the chair.
Combo and Riptor reappeared in the Training Room. They started the match by giving each other the raspberry. Riptor charged at Combo and attempted a headbutt, but Combo jumped, using Riptor as a boost to land behind him. A puzzled Riptor looked back, then snatched Combo's ankle with his tail and yanked him off his feet. Riptor started dragging him across the room.
Jago, Orchid, Thunder, and Glacius were watching once again from the apartment.
"What is he doing!?" Orchid asked.
"I have no idea," Jago said. "But they're not getting anywhere."
Combo grabbed a small weight and smashed Riptor's tail with it. Riptor pulled his tail back.
"Ow......you're gonna pay for that."
"I'm waiting," Combo taunted him.
Riptor paused. "I think it's your turn."
So Combo slowly approached Riptor, who waited patiently for the attack. When Combo was close enough, he punched Riptor repeatedly in the face. Riptor could only scream with pain until he suddenly shoved his hard head into Combo's stomach. Combo stood up, groaning. He raced around to behind Riptor and grabbed his tail.
"I got your tail!" he yelled.
"Not for long," Riptor replied calmly as he threw Combo down in front of him with his tail.
Combo stood up again, punched Riptor's chin, then elbowed his head. Riptor shook his head vigorously. He lunged suddenly and clawed Combo in the face. After about a moment, Combo staggered back, screaming and covering his face.
Jago gasped in the apartment. "Oh yuck! He took T.J.'s eye out!"
Orchid groaned pitifully as she fainted into Jago's lap.
"Hey!" Jago picked her up and placed her on the bed.
"Whoa; he took his eye out!" Fulgore called from the Control Room. "Now that's entertainment!"
"That is disgusting," Spinal told him.
"Yummy....." Riptor gushed.
Combo opened his remaining eye. He has had it! He rushed toward Riptor and jumped onto his back. Riptor wrapped his tail around Combo's neck to get him off, but Combo wrapped his arms around Riptor's neck. Riptor tried everything else: biting Combo's arms, clawing, etc. As they staggered around the room, the audience was getting confused.
"Come on, T.J.," Jago whispered. "Do something already!"
"I've gotta do something before he chokes me to death!" Combo thought.
He positioned one hand on Riptor's nose, and the other on the back of his head. With a sharp twist, Combo heard Riptor's neck snap. Then Combo felt the tail loosen its grip on his neck. He climbed off of the dead dinosaur and covered his face again. As he would after any battle, Eyedol teleported to the Training Room. Combo gasped in horror.
"Oh no; not him," he muttered.
Eyedol approached Combo and began swinging his club. Combo ducked, jumped, and dodged the attacks. He raced past Eyedol and was out the door before the two-headed creature could turn around. Instead of chasing Combo, Eyedol slowly approached Riptor's corpse. He set his club down and examined the corpse carefully. Finally, he pulled out the cuffs from Riptor's wrists. He picked up his club again and calmly left the room.
Glacius and the other humans sat silently in the apartment.
"I guess T.J. won't be coming back tonight," Jago said. "He's got to do something about that missing eye."
Orchid woke up with a groan. "Is it over?"
"Yes, it's over," Thunder replied. "T.J. won the fight."
"Thank goodness." Orchid sat up.
"My guess is that he'll be back in the morning," Jago said. "He's got to get treatment for his eye."
Fulgore and Spinal were in the Control Room, just as silent.
"Riptor's......dead?" Spinal asked.
"I'm afraid so," Fulgore told him, placing both hands on his shoulders. "It's just you and me now, the way it always should have been."
"Fulgore, I don't like this tournament."
"I know, but what can you do about it?"
Without waiting for a response, Fulgore left the room. Spinal sighed and became lost in thought.
T.J. Combo returned to the apartment the morning after his fight with Riptor. He had a white gauze covering his empty eye socket and he carried an eye patch to wear after it healed. The others were already awake and were relieved to see him.
"T.J., you're back," Jago cried.
"Are you all right?" Orchid asked.
"I'll be fine, I guess," Combo told them. "I'm just really sore right now. These Ultratech scientists are mad. You'll never believe how they treated my eye."
"Quite frankly, T.J., we don't want to hear about it," Jago said.
"I didn't think you would."
"I'll tell you this, though. When Orchid saw what happened to your eye, she fainted."
"Oh, how sweet."
"Shut up, both of you!" Orchid shouted. "What Riptor did was totally sick."
"Hey, at least T.J. snapped Riptor's neck," Thunder said. "He already got his revenge."
Suddenly, they heard a soft knock on the door. Orchid stood up and answered it. Her face looked confused as she looked down at the visitor --- Spinal.
"What are you doing here?" she asked rudely.
"Um.....is Jago here?" Spinal asked nervously, twirling his thumbs.
Orchid grinned. "Hey, Jago! The bone boy wants to talk to you!"
Spinal felt offended. "My name is Spinal," he said coldly.
Jago stepped outside of the apartment and closed the door. "Okay, Spinal, what is it?"
"Mr. Sheridan sent me down to tell you that you're scheduled to fight Fulgore tomorrow at noon," Spinal said.
"Tomorrow?" Jago asked.
"Yes, tomorrow. The tournament is taking a break today."
"Okay. Thanks for telling me. See ya."
Spinal nodded, then walked down the hall. Jago stared at him.
"Maybe T.J. was right," he thought. "Maybe Spinal isn't so bad after all."
Jago went back into the apartment. The others waited eagerly for the news.
"So what happened?" Orchid asked.
"I get to fight Fulgore tomorrow!" Jago announced, feigning excitement.
"Fulgore? Isn't that the big robot?" Combo asked.
"Wait, you're fighting him tomorrow? Who's fighting today?" Thunder asked.
"Nobody," Jago responded. "Everybody's taking a break today."
"Well, I heard that there was a cafeteria somewhere," Combo said. "Let's see what's in there."
"Good idea," Orchid said. "By the way, has anyone seen Glacius?"
"I thought he was with you," Combo replied.
"He was. I guess he left while we were asleep," Jago said.
"Oh well. Let's go!"
The group walked to Sheridan's office to ask him where the cafeteria was. Jago walked inside.
"Hello? Mr. Sheridan?" Jago looked around, but Sheridan wasn't there. Jago stepped out. "He's not in there."
"I guess we'll just have to find it ourselves," Thunder said.
They looked around the building for what felt like forever. When they finally found the cafeteria, they were surprised at what they saw. It looked like an ordinary cafeteria with long tables. There was even a row of ping pong tables. The Ultratech scientists occupied most of the lunch tables chatting away. What was even more shocking was that Fulgore and Spinal were playing table tennis.
"Look at that! I wonder how Spinal learned to play table tennis?" Jago asked.
"Fulgore probably taught him," Combo said. "Wow, look at that. That's so cute!"
Fulgore and Spinal tapped the ball to each other with their paddles. The ball never made contact with the table.
"Oh well," Orchid said. "Even bad guys have to have fun."
"Let's sit down," Thunder suggested.
The others nodded, then picked an unoccupied table. They looked at the table tennis duo again. Spinal missed the ball as it came toward him.
"Oops. Too bad," Fulgore said. "I thought I'd never have this much fun. Great game, Spinal!"
Suddenly, Fulgore hugged Spinal. The humans gasped.
"Now I've seen everything," Orchid muttered.
"Fulgore, please......" Spinal said. "Not in front of all these people! Especially them!"
He pointed to the humans. Fulgore stared at them.
"Well, Spinal, what do you say we have a seat?" he suggested.
"Okay," Spinal said.
They chose another unoccupied table. A punk-looking dude approached them.
"Hey, aren't you that skeleton that beat that big werewolf?" he asked.
"Oh.....yeah...." Spinal replied.
"Well, can I have your autograph?" the man asked.
Spinal looked confused. "Autograph? What's an autograph?"
"It's like a signature," Fulgore explained. "Just write your name down."
"I can't write," Spinal protested.
"Okay. Just lay your hand flat." Fulgore positioned Spinal's hand on the notebook. He took the man's pen and traced the outline of Spinal's hand. "There you go."
"Thanks, man! Guess what else I found?" The man pulled out a laser weapon identical to Glacius'. He aimed it directly at Spinal, who looked up innocently. Spinal quickly kicked the back of the man's leg, sending him down on his back. The man also let go of the gun, so Spinal caught it and aimed it at him.
"Nice move, Spinal!" Combo shouted.
Spinal stood over the man condescendingly. "Now that you have my.......autograph......get out of here before you hurt someone."
"Okay.....don't shoot!" the man stammered, scrambling to his feet.
Spinal continued to aim until the man was out of sight. When the man was gone, Spinal sighed.
"He's lucky that I don't know how to fire this thing," he said. "How do you fire this thing anyway?"
He shook the weapon, accidentally pulling the trigger. The shot exploded on the ceiling.
"Careful," Fulgore instructed.
Spinal dropped the weapon. "Sorry."
"Let's just get lunch to go," Orchid said. "I can't take this anymore."
"Me neither," Jago said. "Fulgore's beginning to scare me."
The humans got their lunches and left the cafeteria. When they were gone, Fulgore laughed. Spinal looked up at Fulgore, once again in a state of confusion.
"Hey, Jago!" Combo called. "Wake up, sleepyhead!"
"Huh.....what.....?" Jago mumbled.
"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Combo asked. "You only have two hours until your match with Fulgore."
Jago sat up quickly.
"Ready for breakfast?" Orchid asked.
"No thanks. I need to prepare," Jago replied.
"You nervous?" Combo asked.
"Just a little bit, but I need the challenge."
"That's the spirit."
Jago left the apartment and ran all the way to the Training Room. Spinal was already in there lifting a bench pressing bar without the weights. Jago was still catching his breath as he approached the skeleton warrior.
"Okay, I'm dumb for asking what you're doing, but what ARE you doing?"
Spinal paused and looked at him. "I'm working out."
"Uh.....shouldn't you put some weights on that bar?" Jago asked.
"Then I wouldn't be able to lift it."
"Okay, that makes sense.......I guess...."
Jago walked on to the mat in the center of the room and performed his favorite katas. Spinal continued his set of weightless exercises, then tossed the bar aside and sat up. He froze when he saw Jago's quick and powerful moves.
"Whoa...." he muttered.
Jago performed a chain of quick tornado kicks, trying to figure out how many he could do without getting dizzy or falling over. After six kicks, he stopped.
"Whoa.....six isn't bad," he told himself.
"You must have been fighting all your life," Spinal called.
"Yes, I have, actually," Jago told him. "Now that I'm physically prepared, I need to prepare mentally."
He sat down on the mat and began meditating.
"Well, I'm done with my workout," Spinal called. "Please don't be too hard on Fulgore; he's the only friend I've got.....other than that black cat."
Jago looked up. "Black cat?"
It was too late; Spinal had already left the room. Jago sighed and went back to his meditation.
When it was almost time for the fight, Spinal went into the Control Room. Fulgore was already there waiting.
"Hey, Spinal!" he called. "Come to wish me luck?"
"Oh yes," Spinal replied with great sincerity.
"Well, Spinal, remember this," Fulgore said. "If I should fall, I want you to be strong."
"I don't know if I could do that, Fulgore," Spinal said. "You're the only thing I've got to live for. If you fall, I won't be able to go on. Besides, do you really think you'll lose to Jago?"
"Not really, but I won't underestimate my opponent."
"Well, I saw Jago in the Training Room. He's pretty agile."
"Thanks for the tip, Spinal; I'll keep that in mind."
Fulgore positioned himself next to the door. A minute later, Jago entered the room. He didn't see Fulgore hiding.
"Spinal.....is Fulgore not here yet?" he asked.
"Uh....." Spinal muttered.
Fulgore snuck up on Jago. "BOO!!!"
Jago jumped about three feet. Fulgore chuckled with triumph.
"Don't you ever do that to me again!?" Jago demanded.
"Aww, did I scare you, young man?" Fulgore asked sweetly.
Jago stared at him wide-eyed. Fulgore continued.
"Shall we get to it, hmm?"
Jago's eyes conveyed confusion. Fulgore's eyes brightened.
"Let's fight, dummy!"
"Fulgore....." Spinal began. "I don't believe this!"
"Okay, you're right," Fulgore said. "I apologize. Now, as I said, let's get ready."
"How do I work this thing?" Spinal asked.
"Just push that button and that button," Fulgore explained.
"Oooh....." Fulgore walked over to the controls and moved Spinal aside. "Step aside, kid."
Fulgore pressed the buttons himself, and he and Jago were teleported to the factory.
"Oh great. Home!" he exclaimed.
Jago took a fighting stance. "All right, tin man, you're going down."
"Let's get nasty...." Fulgore taunted him.
"Come on, Fulgore," Spinal thought, clasping his hands together tightly. "Please don't end up like Cinder and Riptor."
"Come on, Jago," T.J. Combo muttered from the apartment. "You can beat that walking trash can."
"You really think so?" Orchid asked.
"Yeah. Come on, Orchid; have faith in our friend."
"I don't know; Fulgore looks kind of tough."
Jago rushed toward Fulgore and attempted to ram him with his shoulder, but Fulgore was too heavy. Jago ended up bouncing right off Fulgore's chest. Fulgore lifted a foot and attempted to stomp on Jago, but the ninja quickly moved out of the way. Fulgore moved in with his claw. Jago blocked it, then threw a roundhouse, which Fulgore blocked. Jago paused, then threw a tornado kick. Fulgore ducked under it, then threw his own roundhouse. Jago blocked it, then gave Fulgore a side kick to his solid abdomen. Fulgore retaliated with a backhand to Jago's face, sending the ninja spinning to the ground. Jago paused again, covering his forehead, which was bleeding from Fulgore's claws.
Spinal watched the fight from the Control Room. He was in deep suspense.
"Oh man," he thought. "I really don't care who wins as long as nobody ends up dead."
Fulgore advanced on Jago, his eyes and claws glowing brightly. Jago could only scoot back helplessly.
"Come on, Jago, get up!" Combo said encouragingly. "Get up!"
Fulgore knelt down on Jago, digging his knee into the ninja's stomach. Jago groaned in pain as Fulgore hovered his claws over him.
"Man.....how much do you weigh?" Jago asked.
"Oh.....about 560 lbs.," the cyborg replied.
"I'm sorry the fight had to end so soon, Jago. Trust me, I really enjoyed it. I hope you did, too."
"No way." Jago reached up and pulled on Fulgore's ponytail. That's the one thing that Fulgore hates most. Jago took the opportunity to get up and shove the cyborg against some kind of crushing machine. Fulgore started toward Jago again, but the ninja gave him a jump kick to the chest, pushing him onto the bottom platform.
"Come on, Fulgore, get out of that thing!" Spinal yelled.
The platform was only as wide as Fulgore's body, so he had no place to push himself off. Jago quickly searched the factory until he found the switch. With a smile, he turned on the machine. Fulgore looked up as the crushing part came down on him rapidly. He held his arms up, hoping that he was strong enough to prevent being crushed. His plan failed. Within seconds, the cyborg's body was flatter than a pancake.
Jago smiled again. "The Terminator is terminated."
In the Control Room, Spinal stood up and gasped. "NNNOOOO!!!!!"
In the apartment, the others cheered. "Way to go, Jago!!"
"Uh-oh, there's Eyedol again," Thunder said.
Eyedol appeared in the factory to attack Jago. The ninja turned to the two-headed creature and gasped.
Jago trembled as Eyedol advanced on him slowly. When Eyedol raised his club, Jago quickly got on all fours and crawled in between the monster's legs. As Eyedol turned, Jago was already on his feet and running out of the factory. Eyedol snapped his fingers in frustration.
"Phew! Jago got away," Combo sighed with relief.
Eyedol turned his attention to the dead Fulgore. He was strong enough to lift the crushing machine off the cyborg's body. Although the rest of Fulgore's body was completely destroyed, his head was still intact. Eyedol opened up his head and pulled out Fulgore's memory circuit board. He examined it carefully and left the factory with a smile.
Spinal froze in the Control Room. "No.....it can't be......Fulgore......" Spinal stood up and turned off the monitor. He sat back down and covered his face, mourning the loss of his mentor.
Now that Fulgore was dead, Spinal was beside himself with anger. His plan now was to let Sheridan know that he wasn't going to be a part of this death trap anymore, but did he have the guts? Spinal walked straight to Sheridan's office. When he put his hand on the doorknob, Sheridan's voice came over the intercom.
"Spinal, get in my office, now!" he demanded.
Spinal shrugged his shoulders and stepped inside. "Yes, Mr. Sheridan?"
Sheridan chuckled. "Spinal, record timing," he said. "Come in, please."
"Well, I was right outside the door," Spinal said as he walked up to the desk.
"I see. Well, Spinal.......Fulgore is dead. Do you know what that means?"
Spinal shook his head.
Sheridan sighed. "It means that you are my last hope. You must eliminate Orchid and the other competitors."
Spinal clenched his fists, trying to hold in his "tears."
"Mr. Sheridan, I don't think that what Jago did to Fulgore was fair," he said.
Sheridan laughed. "Where was it written that these fights had to be fair? I've scheduled for you to fight Chief Thunder tomorrow at 9 a.m. After you defeated Sabrewulf, you should be able to defeat the others......right, Spinal?"
Spinal remained silent, for his effort to cover up his anger was failing quickly.
"I can't hear you!" Sheridan said loudly.
"Yes, Sir," Spinal replied softly.
"Good. You're dismissed now, Spinal. Feel free to cry your eyes out. I can tell that's what you want to do."
Spinal turned around sharply and ran out of the office.
T.J. Combo and Orchid walked down the hall of the Ultratech Building.
"Boy, that Jago really did away with Fulgore!" Combo babbled. "I'll bet that Mr. Sheridan is shaking in his space boots now. Some warrior Fulgore turned out to be---"
"Shh!" Orchid cut him off. She leaned against the wall and motioned for Combo to follow. They crept over to the edge and peeked around the corner. They saw Spinal trudging down the hall sadly.
"There he is," Orchid whispered. "The last of Ultratech's creeps."
"Gee......he looks kind of bummed," Combo observed.
"Let's see what he's up to."
Spinal walked into an empty office and didn't bother to close the door. He sat at a desk, his back turned to the doorway. Combo and Orchid peered through. Spinal buried his face in his arms and cried. The two spies glanced at each other in confusion as they listened to his tearless sobs. The black cat hopped onto the desk and rubbed its body against Spinal's arm. Spinal looked up.
"Oh, it's you, kitty," he sobbed, rubbing the cat's head. "Fulgore was the only friend I had, and now he's dead! I've never felt more alone! I hate Ultratech! But I can't just run away; the world out there would never accept me. What am I to do?"
Combo looked at Orchid. "Still think he's evil?"
Orchid stared back at Combo. She wasn't about to admit that she was wrong about Spinal.
The cat continued to rub against Spinal, apparently attempting to comfort him. When the cat spotted the spies, it hopped off the desk and stared at them. Spinal watched the cat, then saw Combo and Orchid. He became really upset and embarrassed.
"You!! Get out of here!!" he screamed.
He stormed up and slammed the door so hard, it knocked a picture down right next to it. The protective glass had shattered.
Combo and Orchid were stunned by Spinal's sudden outburst.
"I've never seen him with that kind of attitude before," Orchid said.
"Now that's what I call angry," Combo said.
Spinal picked up the broken picture and looked into it. It was a picture of Fulgore standing inside some kind of cage surrounded by glowing blue bars. Spinal dropped the picture and started crying again as he collapsed back into the chair.
"I have no choice," he said to the cat. "I'll have to end it all. It would be the best thing for me. Face it; I have no place in this world."
With that said, he walked out of the room. Combo and Orchid had already left.
Meanwhile, Jago had discovered a statue of a panther's head inside the castle. He approached it slowly and got down on his knees. He put his palms together and lowered his forehead to the ground.
"O mighty Tiger Spirit," he said softly. "I have defeated Fulgore under your guidance. I request your support once again."
In response, there was a laugh. A deep, evil laugh. It began as a chuckle, then it grew louder. Jago looked up, confused.
Suddenly, the panther head statue shattered as a large, bald, purple gargoyle burst out. It flew over Jago's head, then landed to face him. Jago turned around, completely stunned.
"Who are you!?" he demanded.
The gargoyle smiled. "Allow me to introduce myself," he said. "My name is Gargos. Little did you know, but I was actually posing as the Tiger Spirit so that you would help me escape from that Limbo. Now that I'm free, I can destroy Eyedol once and for all and conquer this world."
"You......you betrayed me!" Jago shouted. "I trusted the Tiger Spirit with my life!!"
Gargos chuckled. "So long, sucker."
He turned around and flew out of the castle at top speed. Jago chased him only a few steps, then collapsed to the floor.
"Damn you!! I'll get you for this!! I'll find you; you can't get away from me so easily!!"
At the same time, Spinal was crossing the bridge to get into the castle. As Gargos flew by, he shoved Spinal aside, causing him to fall off the bridge with a scream. Combo, Orchid, and Thunder were also on their way to the castle. They quickly ducked as Gargos flew over their heads.
"Whoa, what was that!?" Combo shouted.
They looked forward again and saw Spinal trying to get out of the piranha-infested moat. However, his grip kept slipping and he couldn't climb out.
"Oh man, Spinal!" Combo quickly raced over to the moat.
"You're not going to help him, are you!?" Orchid called as she and Thunder trailed behind.
Combo reached Spinal, grabbed his wrist, and pulled him out of the moat. There was a piranha nibbling on his toes, so Combo snatched it and threw it back into the moat.
"Hey, you okay, buddy?"
"No, I'm not," Spinal replied. "I'm sick and tired of being Ultratech's little puppet! Sheridan wants me to get rid of all of you, but I don't think I can do that."
"Are you saying that you can't or you won't?" Orchid asked.
"He can't," Combo told her.
"And I won't either," Spinal added.
He walked into the castle, followed by the humans. They were shocked to see Jago still prone on the floor.
"Jago!!" The humans ran up to him.
Jago slowly pushed himself off the ground, trembling. A tear fell from his eyes.
"Damn you," he muttered under his breath.
"What happened?" Orchid asked as Spinal retreated to his bed and reclined on it.
"The Tiger Spirit......it......betrayed me," Jago replied. "It was actually Gargos in disguise."
"Gargos? Is that the thing that flew out of the castle?" Combo asked.
Spinal sat up upon hearing Gargos' name. "Gargos? Oh my God!!"
The humans looked at him.
"What's up, Spinal?"
"You know how they dragged Eyedol out of the Limbo?" Spinal explained. "Well, Gargos came from the same place."
"Oh no. The last thing we need is ANOTHER Eyedol," Thunder muttered.
"Look on the bright side, Chief Thunder," Spinal went on. "Eyedol and Gargos won't be joining forces. They were locked in battle."
"That's right," Jago said. "Gargos did mention his plan to destroy Eyedol and take over the world."
"Well, it doesn't matter which destroys which, but they both have to be stopped," Orchid said.
"Come on, Jago, let's get some sleep," Thunder suggested. "I need sleep, too, because I have to fight Spinal tomorrow."
"Hey, Orchid, when's your fight?" Combo asked.
"I don't know, but I'm getting awfully tired of waiting," Orchid told him.
The humans helped Jago up, then started out of the castle. Spinal climbed back into bed and went to sleep.
"All my life I've trusted the Tiger Spirit," Jago muttered. "I'll probably never find my destiny."
"Jago, you'll find it," Combo said. "You're just looking in the wrong place. The only place you'll find your destiny is in here." He pointed to Jago's chest.
"He's right, Jago," Orchid said.
"You see, Jago, this is YOUR destiny," Combo went on. "Gargos and that Tiger Spirit aren't in charge of it; you are. Only you can choose your own destiny. I'll admit that I chose a bad destiny."
"Money is not a destiny; it's an ambition," Jago said.
Combo chuckled. "Yeah, you're right."
They walked back to their apartments and went to sleep.
Spinal woke up in his castle. Today was the day he would fight Chief Thunder. But he had no desire to destroy the native, and he was tired of being bossed around by Sheridan. He turned to the black cat that was so attached to him.
"It ends today," he said flatly. "After today, I'll no longer be involved in this war."
He left the castle and walked straight to the Control Room.
Meanwhile, Thunder was on his way to the Control Room accompanied by his friends.
"Okay, Chief, try not to be hard on him," Combo said. "I know he could help us out."
"What gave you that idea?" Thunder asked.
"He already told us a mouthful about Gargos. He also said that he doesn't want to kill us."
"Liar, liar, pants on fire," Orchid muttered.
Combo glared at her. The group was silent the rest of the way. Spinal let out a sigh as they walked in the Control Room.
"Now look, Orchid," Combo said, placing both palms on either side of Spinal's head. "Does this look like the face of a guy who would lie to you?"
Orchid stared into Spinal's glowing red eyes. She shrugged her shoulders.
"Okay, Thunder, you know where the fight is?" Jago asked.
"Castle rooftop," Thunder replied.
"What? You mean again?" Spinal asked.
"Okay, get ready, you two." Jago pressed buttons at random, trying to figure out how the teleportation works. Spinal sighed again.
"Aww, still blue?" Combo asked.
"Of course I'm still blue!" Spinal said abruptly.
"Blue? What for?" Jago asked.
"He's mad because you killed Fulgore," Combo told him. "You should've seen him earlier, crying his little eyes out."
Spinal glared at him. The humans could see fire flashing in his eyes. Jago shook his head and went back to the control terminal. As he pressed more buttons, Sheridan himself walked into the room. His eyes widened when he saw Jago fooling with the controls.
"Hey, don't touch that!!" Sheridan shoved Jago aside.
"Excuse me, Mr. Sheridan, but I was trying to figure out how to teleport these people," Jago said calmly.
"Well, here's the first rule of Ultratech: If you don't know how to use it, don't touch it." Sheridan turned to Spinal and whispered in his ear. "Now Spinal, I'm counting on you."
"Please don't," Spinal told him.
"I know you're shaken by Fulgore's death, but we must go on," Sheridan lectured. "You must win this tournament."
"No, I can't," Spinal thought to himself. "I don't stand a chance."
"Okay, enough talk. Chief Thunder, good luck."
With that, Sheridan teleported the fighters to the castle rooftop. When they appeared, they took their basic fighting stances. Sheridan rushed back to his office while the others rushed back to their apartment.
"Okay......." Sheridan announced through a microphone. "Ready!"
Spinal and Thunder lowered their stances, waiting for the signal to fight. They didn't realize that, "Ready," was the signal, so they just stood and stared at each other. Sheridan sighed and picked up the microphone.
"What are you waiting for!?" he demanded. "Fight!"
"It's about time," Thunder muttered.
He rushed toward Spinal, gripping his tomahawks tightly. Spinal quickly moved aside. Thunder turned and struck overhead, which Spinal blocked with his shield. The skeleton attempted a horizontal strike, but Thunder blocked that move. Thunder blocked a roundhouse, then shoved Spinal to the ground with a thrust kick to the chest. Spinal stood up and approached the Indian slowly. Thunder stood with his arms crossed. Suddenly, he gave Spinal a headbutt, then nicked his ribcage with an outward horizontal motion, sending the skeleton to the ground again.
"Wow, Spinal seems to be fighting a lot harder this time," Jago said from the apartment.
"That's because he knows that Thunder won't eat him," Combo said.
"I missed the whole thing," Orchid complained.
Meanwhile, Gargos explored the halls of the Ultratech building.
"Come on, Eyedol; I know you're in here somewhere," he muttered. "And when I find you, you're going to start seeing things my way."
He wandered into the office where Spinal had cried and spotted the shattered picture frame on the floor. Gargos picked it up and gazed at it. He smiled.
"Hmm.....this cyborg looks strong.....and useful," he told himself. "I'll have to find out more about it."
He pulled the picture of Fulgore out of the frame and left the room to explore some more. Still no sign of Eyedol. Gargos' journey led him into the Control Room where he saw the fight happening in the monitor. Gargos looked closely at Spinal, intrigued by his inferior appearance.
"Oh, what a delightful little skeleton," he said. "He looks puny and small enough.......to be a good slave."
In the monitor, Thunder turned his back to Spinal and began singing his Indian song. Spinal ran up and threw his arms around Thunder's neck. After a few struggles, Thunder threw him over his shoulder. Spinal dropped his artillery.
"Why am I even trying to beat this guy?" he thought. "I have nothing to live for!"
Thunder watched Spinal patiently, waiting for him to attack. Amazingly, Spinal remained on all fours, sighing sadly. Thunder began to lose his patience.
"You know, Spinal, if you don't want to fight, you can just surrender," he called.
But Spinal didn't want to just lose the fight. He stood up and approached his opponent.
"I can't just surrender. I need to ask a favor of you."
"What kind of favor?" Thunder asked.
Spinal sighed again, then dropped his request. "Kill me."
Thunder froze, not sure he had heard correctly. "What?"
"I said kill me. I'm sick of Ultratech, but I can't run away. The world will fear and hate me."
"T.J. Combo asked me not to kill you."
"Never mind what he said!" Spinal cried. "I can't go on like this; I'm too miserable! Please, Chief Thunder, I beg of you! Please let me rest in peace once again.......forever......"
Thunder paused, considering Spinal's stunning request. "Well.......when you put it like that, I don't see why I shouldn't. Okay, Spinal........as much as I hate to do this......"
Spinal dropped to his knees and covered his face, awaiting his much desired fate.
"What are they doing?" Jago asked.
"Beats me," Orchid replied.
"Looks like Spinal is surrendering," Combo said. "I wonder what they were saying?"
Only Gargos was able to hear the conversation. He wiped a fake tear from his eye.
"What a heartfelt speech," he muttered to himself.
Thunder shrugged his shoulders, then looked up at the sky and sang some kind of Indian song. After a minute, lightning began to flash in the sky. Suddenly, the lightning struck Spinal ruthlessly, leaving a puff of smoke. When the smoke cleared, Thunder looked to see Spinal's badly charred bones in a lifeless pile. Thunder sighed with regret.
"No, he didn't have to kill him!" Combo cried. "Oh, I want to cry, but I'm afraid my eye will hurt. I'm going to miss the little creep."
"He got what was coming to him," Orchid said.
"I feel bad for him," Jago said.
Once again, Eyedol appeared on the castle rooftop. Thunder turned and gasped.
"Uh-oh." Without thinking, he rushed to the edge and leaped off the rooftop before Eyedol could make a move.
Gargos spotted Eyedol in the monitor and became excited. "Eyedol! You're mine!!"
He rushed out of the room and out of the Ultratech Building to find Eyedol.
Chief Thunder quickly climbed out of the moat with the piranhas nibbling at him. He kicked the escaped piranhas back into the moat.
"Oh man! I forgot about the piranhas!" he gasped.
Eyedol, meanwhile, slowly approached Spinal's corpse. He picked up Spinal's skull and slipped the headband off. Finally, he teleported out of the battlefield just as Gargos flew up to the rooftop.
"Damn it; he was just here!" he yelled.
He approached Spinal's corpse and picked up the skull. "Alas, poor Spinal...."
Gargos carried the skull back into the Ultratech Building.
Chief Thunder returned to the apartment after the fight. His three friends were ready to complain.
"Hey, Chief, what gives?" Combo asked. "Why'd you have to go and kill Spinal for?"
"He asked me to do it, T.J.," Thunder replied. "I did it as a favor. Think of it this way: Spinal is back where he belongs --- in the valley of the dead."
"You're right," Jago said. "Spinal's gone to a much better place.
"Excuse me, but I have a score to settle with Mr. Sheridan," Orchid said out of nowhere.
She marched out of the apartment and straight into Sheridan's office.
Sheridan looked up from his paperwork. "Ah, Orchid the Wallflower, please come in. Now what's on your mind?"
"I'll tell you what's on my mind," Orchid said. "When do I get to fight? I'm tired of waiting."
"As a matter of fact, I have you scheduled to fight T.J. Combo at midnight tonight," Sheridan told her.
"Sure. Remember, Orchid, you're fresh out of enemies. Of course, you don't have to kill each other if you don't want to."
"Okay......but midnight tonight?" Orchid asked.
"Yeah, on top of the Ultratech Building," Sheridan said. "I think it has a beautiful view."
"All right then," Orchid groaned, satisfied with her first fight schedule. She turned and left the office. She returned to the apartment to deliver the news.
"Orchid, what happened?" Thunder asked.
"I finally get to fight," Orchid replied. "I get to fight T.J."
"Really?" Combo asked, putting an arm around Orchid's shoulder. "Honey, it would be an honor."
"At midnight tonight," Orchid added.
Combo backed up. "Excuse me?"
"Midnight tonight," Orchid repeated.
Combo glanced at the others. "Better catch a few Z's."
He and Orchid climbed into their beds to take a nap.
"Now that T.J.'s asleep, we can get some peace and quiet," Jago whispered.
"I'll say," Thunder replied.
"I heard that," Combo called.
"Uh....then again, maybe not," Jago admitted. "Let's go to the cafeteria."
"I'm with you," Thunder said as they made a rapid exit.
Along the way, they bumped into Carl and Marty, who stopped them.
"Hey, are you two aware that Glacius' ship is gone?" Carl asked.
"It is? He must have made it home!" Thunder cried.
"Okay.....have you seen Sabrewulf?" Marty asked.
"Uh.....not if you haven't," Jago replied.
"Oh Jago, you killed Fulgore and drove Spinal to suicide," Carl said. "You must be pretty evil."
"Me, evil? That's the silliest thing I've ever heard," Jago said. "Evil Jago, ha!!"
"Come on, we're wasting our time," Thunder said.
"You're right. Bye-bye, mad scientists."
The fighters continued on to the cafeteria.
Meanwhile, Gargos was still in the Control Room studying video profiles and recorded events involving Ultratech's fighters. He observed Riptor and Cinder constantly insulting Spinal.
"What a couple of incompetent ninnies," he sighed. "Fulgore and Spinal made an excellent team. If I could just revive them somehow, we'll take over this planet. Yeah, just the three of us.....but I still have to get rid of Eyedol first. Yes, yes, yes!!!"
Gargos left the Control Room in search of his archenemy.
Orchid woke up in her apartment. Chief Thunder and Jago were still out doing whatever. Orchid's first move was to wake up her opponent.
"Think you could stay awake for the next three hours?"
"Mmmm.......yeah, I think so."
Combo sat up in his bed and rubbed his only eye. Then he gently pressed on the gauze over his other eye to see if it was still sore. It was.
Jago and Chief Thunder peeked into the apartment, then stepped inside.
"Well, you guys slept longer than we thought," Jago said.
"Well, at least now we'll be fresh for the fight tonight," Orchid told him.
"Right now we need something to do," Combo said.
"Let's find that Gargos guy before he causes any trouble," Thunder suggested.
"Good idea," Jago said.
They spent the next few hours searching for Gargos.
Gargos, meanwhile, was still lost in the hallways. He suddenly looked down and spotted the black cat, still searching for a new friend. Gargos knelt down over it.
"Well, what have we here?" he asked himself. "A black cat? How unlucky."
As he stroked the cat's fir, the cat meowed with pleasure. Gargos came to a conclusion.
"Maybe you can help me. Maybe you know where Eyedol is."
The cat rubbed itself against Gargos' knee, then walked down the hall. The gargoyle followed........
The humans searched for Gargos. When time was running short, they decided to ask Sheridan. They walked into his office together.
"Oh, hello, people," Sheridan said. "What brings you here?"
"Have you heard of a demon lord named Gargos?" Jago asked.
"Yes; he's trapped in Limbo, where we pulled Eyedol from," Sheridan replied.
"Not anymore," Combo said.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Gargos is on the loose," Orchid said. "And he's after Eyedol."
"He wants the world to himself," Jago added.
"Well, I'm sorry; I have not seen Gargos at all," Sheridan told them.
At that moment, Carl walked into the office. "Sir, I have a few things to tell you."
"Yes, Carl?" Sheridan asked.
"First of all, Glacius has escaped in his spaceship," Carl said.
"Really? He chickened out, huh? No matter."
"Okay. Also, Sabrewulf ran away."
"Find him and bring him back," Sheridan ordered.
"Yes, Sir," Carl replied. He turned to the KI Warriors. "Why are you all here?"
"They tell me that Gargos has escaped from Limbo," Sheridan told him.
"Yeah right; get out of here!" Carl chuckled with disbelief. "I haven't seen Gargos anywhere."
"It's true; we saw him," Thunder said.
"In fact, Jago let him out," Combo added.
"Shut up," Jago snapped.
"T.J......" Orchid pointed at the clock.
"Ooops. Five 'til midnight," Combo observed.
"Now please don't take it easy on each other just because you're friends," Sheridan said. "You don't have to kill each other if you don't want to. Carl, kindly help them out with the teleportation."
The KI Warriors rushed out of the office. Carl was stunned.
"What's their hurry?" he asked.
"They're young. Kids will be kids," Sheridan said.
Carl was gasping for breath when he finally reached the Control Room. "Phew! Okay, I'm sure you know the rules and everything. Ready?"
Orchid and Combo nodded. Carl pressed the buttons that teleported them to the rooftop of the Ultratech building. The fighters took their basic offensive pose. Orchid smiled as she began to circle around. Combo shivered.
"Oh boy. This is embarrassing; I don't want to do this," he muttered to himself.
"Come on, T.J.," Orchid called, smacking her lips.
"All right," Combo muttered. "Here goes nothing."
He rushed toward Orchid, then stopped suddenly. Then he stepped on her foot. Orchid jumped back in pain, then kicked Combo in the stomach with the same foot. Combo attempted a spinning backfist, which Orchid ducked under, then she kicked the back of his leg. Combo then kicked the back of her leg, then uppercutted her in the stomach.
"Oh man, they're going to kill each other out there," Thunder said in the Control Room.
"Oh, I'm sure they know what they're doing," Jago said, a hint of doubt in his voice.
They watched some more as Combo and Orchid suddenly grabbed each other's shoulders. Orchid buried her knee in Combo's stomach several times, then rolled onto her back, tossing him away. Combo hit the ground, rolling right up to his feet. He stood up and spread his arms out like a cheerleader. Orchid sneered at him. She dove into him; they both fell to the ground. Now it was beginning to look more like a high school wrestling match.
"I could've sworn that T.J. was a boxer," Thunder said. "And what on Earth are they doing?"
"Looks like they're getting jiggy wit it," Jago replied. "Ugh."
"Okay, okay, I've had enough!" Combo stammered. "I give up, I surrender; stop it, stop it, stop it!!!"
Orchid sighed as they untangled themselves. Combo got on one knee and put his right fist on his left shoulder, giving the surrender signal.
"Good match," he said.
"You weren't too bad," Orchid said. "But I expected more from you."
"Hey, I'm a boxer; you don't get much out of us," Combo told her. "I'm not like Jago; he'd be a good match."
Eyedol appeared at the other side of the roof.
"Uh-oh," Orchid muttered.
"Not again," Combo whined.
Eyedol smiled on both of his heads. "Ready to die?"
Combo embraced Orchid suddenly. "Save me!" he cried jokingly.
Eyedol rushed at both of them. Orchid broke the embrace as she and Combo ran in opposite directions. Eyedol turned to Combo.
"Hey, you already went after me. Go after her," Combo suggested nervously.
He looked around Eyedol and witnessed a shocking sight. Orchid stood at the very edge of the rooftop. To Combo's surprise, she spread her arms out and dove into the streets below as if diving into a pool. Eyedol raised his club over Combo.
"Now, now, now hold up!" he cried.
He dove out of the way just in time. He looked down where Orchid had jumped. There was no sign of her.
"Well, I'd rather commit suicide myself than have Eyedol kill me," Combo thought.
He turned back to Eyedol and blew a kiss. Then he prepared to make the jump.
"Look out below!!"
He jumped off the building. Eyedol froze and smiled again......
Orchid stood in the alley right next to the Ultratech Building. She had used some rather dangerous gymnastics moves to survive the leap from the rooftop. She looked up, wondering what had happened to Combo.
"Hey, lady, get out of the way!" a man screamed.
Orchid turned to see a dump truck backing up in her direction. She quickly moved out of the way. The dump truck was filled with garbage. When it reached the dumpster, it turned its back to it and moved closer to it. Finally, the driver recognized Orchid.
"Hey, you're Orchid!" he cried with excitement. "I just heard about the last fight on the radio. T.J. Combo sounded pretty intense."
"Yeah. I'd just like to know what happened to him," Orchid sighed.
"Well, if Eyedol doesn't get him, he'll be all right," the driver said. "Right?"
Orchid heard a scream coming from the sky. She looked up and saw Combo falling. He landed right into the back of the dump truck. The driver turned in response to the abrupt crash in the garbage.
"What was that?" he asked.
"What was what?" Orchid asked, playing it off.
"Hmm. I'm so concerned at picking up garbage at this hour, I'm hearing things. Well, it was an honor to meet you, Orchid."
The driver returned to the truck and dumped the garbage into the dumpster. When the truck was emptied out, it drove away. Orchid looked around, making sure that no one was watching, then she leaped onto the dumpster and began digging.
"T.J.? Are you in there?" she called.
Combo groaned with soreness as he slowly emerged from the trash. "Yeah, I'm in here."
"You okay? Anything broken?" Orchid asked.
"Not that I know of," Combo said weakly as he slowly climbed out of the dump heap. "Man, now I know what a postal package feels like."
"Well, you certainly don't smell like a postal package; that's for sure."
The two fighters went back into the Ultratech building to clean up.
"Hey there, Killer Instinct fans," a blonde-haired reporter announced on worldwide television. "I'm Alan Diggs, better known as Digger. The Killer Instinct tournament has been a killer indeed. It appears that Chief Thunder only destroyed Spinal at his request. Spinal was an honorable warrior......rather cute, too. He wanted nothing more than to return to Heaven.
"In the fight with T.J. Combo and Orchid, they were really just playing with each other. That's what many people believe, including me. What's even weirder is that they both jumped off the Ultratech Building in order to escape from Eyedol. Is that crazy or what? Amazingly, they both survived unharmed.
"The fight between Jago and Chief Thunder was a bit more serious, although they also shared a friendship. The fight was good and clean. Chief Thunder eventually surrendered. They, too, managed to escape from Eyedol in a more sensible manner.
"And finally, Jago got to fight Orchid. Another good fight. Many say that they'd make a good couple. But they share so many common characters, one would think that they were related. Amazingly enough, Jago surrendered to Orchid. This means that Orchid is the finalist that will face Eyedol. Let's all have a moment of silence to wish her luck. Good luck, Orchid, wherever you are."
Digger remained silent for the next moment. How will Orchid do against Eyedol........?
Combo and Orchid returned to the apartment. Jago and Thunder instantly held their noses.
"What happened?" Jago asked.
"When T.J. jumped off the building, he landed in the dump," Orchid said.
Without a word, Combo grabbed a spare torn-flag shirt, a pair of military jeans, and his eyepatch and went straight into the bathroom to clean up. A while later, he came out with his new uniform.
"Ta-da! Good as new!"
The others nodded sarcastically.
Gargos walked into the factory. There were scientists in there. Upon Gargos' entry, they all screamed and evacuated. Gargos chuckled.
"Suckers," he muttered to himself. "Now let's see, how can I rebuild Fulgore?"
He examined the photo of Fulgore and searched the factory for parts. He got the necessary tools and got to work on building the complex machine.....
Meanwhile, it was time for Orchid to face Ultratech's trump card. She had a pretty positive attitude about it.
"Orchid, aren't you the least bit scared?" Combo asked.
"If I was scared, I wouldn't have entered this tournament," Orchid told him. "Now stop worrying. I will defeat Eyedol, or die trying. And if I do fall, you three just get on with your lives. Forget you ever knew me."
"We can't do that; you're too attractive," Combo said.
Orchid shot him a look.
Jago took a deep breath and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Orchid......good luck. We'll cheer for you, as usual."
Orchid smiled. "Thanks, guys."
With a sigh, she left the room. The others prayed hard. They were all hopeful, but feared the worst.
Orchid reported straight to the Control Room. Sheridan was waiting with a smile.
"Amazing you had the guts to show up."
Orchid smiled. "Surprise can get you everywhere. Your scheme is over, Sheridan."
Sheridan chuckled. "All right then. Prepare to teleport."
Orchid stood quite still as Sheridan pressed the necessary buttons. The teleportation carried her into the deepest dungeon of the castle. Eyedol was ready and waiting.
"You've got to be kidding me," he scoffed. "A woman? No woman could defeat the mighty Eyedol. In fact, neither could any man."
Orchid shook her head. "If you're going to talk like that, then you've already lost the fight," she said.
"So do you doubt me? When I'm through with you, you and the world will start seeing things my way."
"You won't be alive to have your way."
Eyedol raised his club as Orchid narrowed her eyes and assumed her fighting position. Eyedol lunged at Orchid, but she quickly rolled onto her back, tossing him over her. She sat up, exhausted.
"That guy's heavy," she told herself.
They both stood up. Eyedol charged again, but Orchid moved out of the way. She stood proudly, smiling, keeping her hands behind her back. Eyedol approached slowly this time and whacked Orchid with his club, knocking her down. She sat up, gasping. She glared at her opponent and started swinging her sabers at him. Eyedol barely blinked in response to the blows. Orchid threw an inward spin kick, catching Eyedol in both faces. The two-headed creature staggered back......
Orchid's friends were watching from their apartment. They were all nibbling their fingernails.
"She's doing pretty good," Thunder said.
"Look how much blood that one blow drew," Combo said. "Orchid can't take many more like that."
"Orchid is strong," Jago assured them. "It'll take a lot more than what Eyedol's doing to beat her."
"I hope you're right," Combo said.
In the factory, Gargos discovered that he didn't have all the supplies he needed to rebuild Fulgore.
"Oh, drat!" he cried. "I'll have to search the Ultratech Building. I understand that they have a storage room. Glacius found the supplies he needed to repair his spaceship. I know I can find what I need to rebuild Fulgore."
Gargos flew out of the factory and into the Ultratech Building. He went straight into the Control Room to mess with the computers, hoping that they had a map somewhere. He was distracted by the fight in the dungeon.
"Ah ha! Eyedol, I've found you at last."
Orchid attempted a jump kick, but only bounced off Eyedol's chest. As she got up, Eyedol kicked her squarely with a snap kick.
Gargos made a fist. "Come on, woman; beat him! Kill him!"
Orchid continued to take a beating from Eyedol, which got Gargos mad.
"Perhaps you need a hand. This whole tournament was a piece of crap anyway," he said.
The gargoyle was in so much of a hurry, he burst out the window and flew into the castle. He went straight into the dungeon. Orchid had gotten the upper hand by then. She was circling Eyedol, who was unable to turn quickly enough to face her. She swung her sabers at him a few more times.
"I've got to find some way to disable him if I'm going to beat him," she thought. "I know!"
She remembered the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops. Eyedol was a two-headed Cyclops. Just as Odysseus had, Orchid would poke out Eyedol's eyes, leaving him blind. She thrust her sabers into his eyes. Eyedol screamed in pain.
"Oooh, nice move, Orchid," Gargos muttered, being careful to stay out of sight. "I'll not interfere as long as you appear to be winning."
The boys were getting concerned in the apartment.
"That does it," Jago shouted, slapping a magazine on the floor. He started out of the apartment.
"Where're you going?" Combo asked.
"I'm going down there to help Orchid," Jago told him.
"But you can't!"
"Why not? The fate of the planet is hanging in the balance. If Orchid loses, Ultratech will release a whole slew of Fulgore cyborgs, Riptor dinosaurs, and skeleton warriors. We shouldn't have to play fair in order to save the world."
"You're right, Jago," Thunder said. "Sheridan never said that we can't render assistance. We'll all go."
They switched off the TV and quickly left the apartment.
Eyedol's consciousness was beginning to fade. He swayed back and forth, swinging his club blindly. Orchid didn't care about Eyedol's well-being. She continued to swing her sabers at him furiously. She even got a little carried away, swinging them like a clumsy ballerina. Then she got serious, stopped swinging, and kicked him to the ground.
"Yes!" Gargos whispered in excitement.
"Orchid!" a familiar voice called.
Orchid turned, surprised to see Jago, Combo, and Thunder running to her side.
"What are you doing here?" she gasped.
"We're here to help," Combo replied.
"This isn't a tournament anymore," Jago said. "This is a fight to save our beloved planet."
"Futuristic technology is great," Combo explained. "But Ultratech is moving us forward a little too fast, which only leads to disaster and chaos."
"Well, thanks for the offer, boys, but I've already won the fight," Orchid said, gesturing to the badly wounded warlord.
"What are you talking about? I'm still alive!" Eyedol protested. "Come on; come and get me. I will crush you!"
"Hmph!" Gargos snorted from his hiding place. "Such foolishness. Well, Eyedol is as good as dead. Thank you, sweet Orchid; you're so kind to me....."
He carefully crept out of the dungeon to return to his previous task.
"Come on, Eyedol!" Orchid cried. "Don't you know when you're beaten?"
"You......can't.....beat.....me," Eyedol groaned.
"I already did," Orchid said flatly. She smiled.
Without warning, Eyedol teleported out of the dungeon. The humans gasped.
"Where did he go?"
On his way back to the Control Room, Gargos passed Sheridan's office and stopped. He read the sign.
"President of Ultratech, huh?" he asked. "It would be a pleasure to meet him."
Gargos stepped into the office only to find that Sheridan wasn't there. Upon further inspection, Gargos noticed something on Sheridan's desk. There was a box with a book on top of it. The gargoyle moved in for a closer look. The book was Eyedol's diary. Gargos opened it up and read Eyedol's most recent entry. He nodded with interest, then turned his attention to the box. He creaked it open and examined its contents: Riptor's bracelets, Fulgore's memory circuit board, and Spinal's headband. Gargos pulled out the circuit board.
"Here's one thing I'll need to rebuild Fulgore," he told himself.
Suddenly, Eyedol appeared in the office. Remembering that Eyedol was blind, Gargos quickly flew to the door, stepped out, and stuck his head back in. Eyedol staggered his way over to Sheridan's desk and fumbled around for his diary and pen. The diary fell to the floor with a distinct thud. When Eyedol finally found his pen, he collapsed face-first in front of the diary, felt for his bookmark, and began writing his final entry. Gargos waited patiently. After a few minutes of writing, Eyedol's grip on the pen loosened. Slowly, the pen slipped out of his hand, then the hand suddenly dropped to the floor, completely lifeless.
Gargos waited for another moment to make sure that Eyedol was really dead. When he figured it was safe, he went back inside. His first move was to check Eyedol's pulse.
Nothing. Eyedol was truly dead.
Gargos picked up the diary and collected the box in his arms. Then he heard a noise.
Gargos looked down. The black cat casually walked over and sniffed at Eyedol's corpse. Then it sat down and looked up at Gargos.
"Yes, he's dead," the gargoyle said. "Let's go."
As if the cat could understand him, it followed Gargos out of the office.
Meanwhile, the KI Warriors walked out of the castle.
"Boy, we really socked it to Ultratech!" Combo yelled. "We all did our part. Glacius killed Cinder, Jago killed Fulgore, I killed Riptor.....and Thunder, I don't know if Spinal would count."
"Now that Eyedol is dead, we've won the tournament," Jago said. "Now Ultratech can't conquer the world."
"I say we destroy Ultratech Headquarters and make sure that they don't try this again," Orchid suggested.
"Yeah, that would take care of Ultratech, but aren't we forgetting something?" Thunder asked. "What about Gargos?"
The others froze.
"Oh shoot," Combo muttered. "We did forget about him, didn't we?"
"What could he possibly be up to?" Jago wondered.
They stared at each other, suddenly alarmed.....
Gargos was on his way back to the factory with Eyedol's diary, the box of "souvenirs," and the remaining supplies to build Fulgore. The cat followed him faithfully. Gargos stopped abruptly.
"I am detecting an enormous amount of energy nearby," he said aloud.
He turned to face the Ultratech Building. A yellow glow began to emit from all the window, starting at the middle floor, where Sheridan's office was located. Gargos was thoroughly confused.
The KI Warriors were still discussing whether or not Gargos was a big threat until Combo noticed the glow in the building.
"Whoa, check that out!" he cried, pointing to it.
The others turned to see the glow, which was slowly brightening. They all wondered what was going on.
"She's gonna blow!" Thunder cried. "Run for it!!"
He turned sharply and ran away from the Ultratech Building. Jago and Combo started to turn as well, but Orchid stopped them.
"Wait a minute; that's no explosion!"
The remaining three fighters stared at the building again. The glow got brighter still. The KI Warriors stood helplessly, unable to cover their eyes or even close them.
Gargos stood on the other side of the Ultratech Building just as helpless. He dropped the box and cyborg supplies, then covered his face with the diary. The light was blinding now as it appeared to engulf the warriors, the Ultratech Building, the factory, and the castle......
Jago, Orchid, and Combo's minds were all foggy as the light enveloped them. They felt as if they were floating to a different location. Suddenly, the light disappeared. The three warriors groaned, rubbing their eyes to get their vision back in focus.
"What happened?" Combo asked.
"I have no idea," Jago replied. "It felt like I was being picked up and carried off......but everything seems to be the same."
Orchid stared down at her body. All the wounds she had taken from Eyedol were gone, instantly healed.
"What happened to my injuries?" she asked.
Jago and Combo took a look.
"Maybe that light did it," Combo suggested.
"Maybe....but what caused it? And why do I feel like we're in a different place?" Orchid asked.
"I don't know, but since the light came from the Ultratech Building, I suggest we search for its source," Jago explained. "Then afterwards, we can go to the rooftop to make sure we're still in New York."
"Sounds like a plan; let's do it," Combo declared.
Without hesitation, the trio ran into the Ultratech Building.
Gargos uncovered his face when the light vanished. He clutched his head, also sensing that he was somewhere else. He looked down at the black cat once again staring at him.
"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto," he said. "Perhaps an airborne view will give me more explanation. You stay there, all right?"
Gargos set the diary down and took off into the air.
The Ultratech Building looked exactly the same, as if nothing ever happened. Jago, Combo, and Orchid couldn't find anything that could have caused the mysterious bright light. They wandered into Sheridan's office. It was still empty.
"Mr. Sheridan?" Combo called.
The group spread out and searched the office. All the monitors were working fine, but none gave any clues. Combo peeked into a room offset the office.
"Sheridan!!" Orchid screamed. "Show yourself!!"
That's when the group realized that the building was much quieter than it had been.
"He's not here," Combo said.
Jago began coughing suddenly. "P.U.! Smells like something died in here!"
"That's because something DID die in here," Combo told him. "Take a look at this!"
Jago and Orchid ran over to see what Combo saw.
"Oh yuck!" Orchid cried.
They looked upon Eyedol's corpse. Only his flesh had completely rotted away.
"How could his flesh rot away so quickly?" Jago asked.
"I don't know, and I don't care!" Orchid groaned. "Let's get out before we all suffocate!"
Holding their breaths, they staggered out of the office, then started gasping for air.
"Now what?" Combo asked.
"I'm beginning to wonder if there's even anyone in this building," Jago said.
"Let's try the cafeteria," Orchid suggested. "There're always people in there.
So the group hurried to the cafeteria. However, it was completely deserted. The silence was almost frightening.
"Where is everybody?" Combo asked.
The warriors leaned against the wall and sighed in frustration.
"I give up; I am completely confounded," Jago admitted.
"Well, let's at least stick to our original plan and check out the roof," Combo said.
They proceeded to the elevator and pushed the button. Nothing happened. Orchid pushed the button a second time, but the elevator was still dead.
"Forget it; it's busted," Jago said. "We'll have to take the stairs."
The group sighed as they started the long journey to the roof.
Meanwhile, Gargos had just finished his tour of the area. After digging into his memory, he finally came to his conclusion.
"Wait a minute; I recognize the terrain," he thought. "This is what the world looked like 2,000 years ago. So that's it! That bright light transported this area 2,000 years back in time!"
He looked around again, making sure that the castle and the factory were still there.
"Well, at least the factory was transported also, so I can still finish with Fulgore. Ah, what have we here......?"
Jago, Orchid, and Combo reached the roof, exhausted from the long staircase.
"I've never climbed stairs like those before," Jago groaned.
"Me neither," Combo said. "I think we passed a mountain goat a few floors back."
"Oh my gosh, look!" Orchid cried, pointing to her surroundings.
The boys looked around and gasped. Beyond the castle, they saw a forest stretching out for miles. Beyond the forest, they saw snow-capped mountains. One mountain peak had some kind of Chinese dojo with a lit torch on each corner.
"This is definitely not New York," Jago said.
"Then where are we?" Combo asked.
"The question isn't where....but when," a voice called from behind.
The trio spun around to face Gargos, who was hovering over the building.
"We've been transported 2,000 years back in time," he added.
Orchid stormed up as close as she could. "What have you done!?"
Gargos chuckled. "I haven't done anything......yet. I know some old friends that are dying to see you."
"Ooooh...." Jago growled as he started to lunge at Gargos. If Combo and Orchid hadn't seized his arms, Jago would've leaped off the building; and there would be no garbage truck to catch him. "Gargos, I'll get you yet!"
Gargos chuckled again. "Bye now." He waved, then dove backward down to the street below....
Gargos flew back to where he had left his collection. He gathered his stuff and walked over to the factory, followed by the black cat. Using a manual he found in the factory, Gargos resumed his task to rebuild Fulgore.
It took him about five or six hours to build the cyborg. When he was done, he compared his work to the Fulgore in the photo.
"Hmm. This Fulgore doesn't look quite like the one in this picture," he told himself. "In fact, it looks even better than the picture!"
"Meow," said the cat.
"Shh," snapped the gargoyle.
He picked up the manual again and read the directions on how to bring Fulgore to life. He read the directions out loud.
" 'Insert Tab A into Slot B, then insert Tab B into Slot A.' "
Gargos looked carefully at all the wires, but couldn't find any labels. He then examined the cyborg, but couldn't find any slots at all.
"I must have done something wrong." Gargos checked the manual again, then got a better idea. He tossed the manual over his shoulder. "Phooey! I'll just bring Fulgore to life with my own powers."
Gargos held his arm out, his palm facing up, and a glowing blue ball appeared and hovered over it. He gently picked up the cat with his other hand.
"You're going to have to step down, cat," he said, placing it on the floor.
The demon lord slowly lowered the energy ball onto Fulgore. Upon making contact with the cyborg's chest, the energy rapidly spread all over his body. At first it seemed to have no effect, but Gargos knew better.
"I'll just have to wait a minute for him to come to life." Gargos stepped back, opened Eyedol's diary, and read his final entry. However, it was crooked and sloppy due to Eyedol's condition as he wrote.
As Gargos carefully studied the preschool writing, Fulgore's eyes gave a red glow. His harpoon-shaped claws gave a blue glow. The cyborg sat up slowly and looked at his hands.
"I'm alive," he told himself. "I'm really alive again!"
Gargos calmly looked up from the diary. "Yes. I gave you life."
Fulgore looked at him, confused. "Who are you? And why did you give me life?"
Gargos smiled. "I'm just a demon lord. I've resurrected you because your warrior skills will be useful in my plan."
"My plan to conquer this planet. I have used the same memory circuit board, so you should remember your past. Tell me about it."
"I remember how I worked for Ultratech and participated in their tournament," the cyborg explained. "The tournament was to determine who Earth's greatest warrior was. All I remember was being crushed by this masked man. The tournament was to prove that Ultratech was unstoppable."
"Hmph!" Gargos shook his head. "If you ask me, the tournament proved nothing, except that President Sheridan was an old nincompoop."
"Sheridan? What happened to him?" Fulgore asked.
Gargos shrugged. "Don't know. I've never seen him at all. Now, Fulgore, tell me, do you recognize these items?"
He picked up Eyedol's keepsake box and pulled out Riptor's bracelets.
"Those were Riptor's," Fulgore said. "T.J. Combo snapped his neck."
"Yes, I am aware of what happened to all the fighters," Gargos told him. "Now what is this?"
He took Spinal's headband out of the box. Fulgore gasped in horror.
"That's Spinal's headband!" he cried. "I gave it to him myself. Where is he? Is he all right?"
"Spinal was destroyed not long after you were," Gargos replied. "I witnessed his fight with Chief Thunder. Spinal begged Thunder to kill him because he didn't like working for Ultratech, and he was disrespected by the rest of the world. He was an honorable little guy. That's why I have considered reviving him as well."
Fulgore's eyes brightened. "Oh, please do! I loved him. I loved him like he was my own little brother, easy to pick on, etc."
Gargos chuckled, then began flipping pages in Eyedol's diary. "If you loved him that much, you're going to love this diary entry that Eyedol wrote."
He cleared his throat and read the entry aloud.....
Another tournament battle has passed, Jago Vs. Fulgore. Jago used the equipment in the factory to destroy Fulgore. A little harsh for a pathetic human, I believe, but where was it written that the Killer Instinct fights had to be won fairly? Fulgore's destruction by Jago's hand has left Spinal in a state of severe grief. I spied on the cowardly little toothpick as he wandered into an empty office and broke down crying. When he realized that T.J. Combo and Orchid were spying on him, he got REALLY angry. His only desire now was to end it all.
Fulgore sighed. "Gee. That does get you right here," he said, pointing to his chest. "I could see Spinal now.... How did you get that diary? Eyedol is not going to be happy......"
"I think that Eyedol is perfectly happy where he's gone. I found the diary just before Eyedol died."
"Yes. He wrote this final entry with his dying breath."
Gargos showed Fulgore the last page. Fulgore squinted as he tried to interpret the sloppy writing.
"Eeeuw yuck. Looks like a preschooler's drawing. I can't even read it."
"Really? Well, I'll read it to you...."
Gargos read Eyedol's final entry aloud.....
Diary, these are my final words. It is evident that I must go down in shame, for I was defeated by a mere woman. I have underestimated a woman; I must pay for that mistake with my life. I am only relieved that Gargos is still trapped in Limbo, so he will not take the Earth. Farewell, cruel world....
"Well....." Gargos mumbled. "That's what HE thinks."
"What are you talking about?" Fulgore asked. "Has Gargos escaped?"
Gargos rolled his eyes and grinned. "Well.....yes.....he's escaped." He laughed.
"What's so funny?"
"Oh, you will understand in time, my friend."
"Eyedol was defeated by a woman, huh?" Fulgore asked. "Wait a minute; Orchid won the tournament!?!?!"
Gargos nodded, still grinning.
"So I suppose she's the only one who survived?"
"No; Jago, T.J. Combo, and Chief Thunder survived as well. They were friends, you know. In fact, Jago, Combo, and Orchid were the only people I've seen since the time jump."
Fulgore's eyes lit up. "Time jump?"
"Yeah. This factory, along with the Ultratech Building and the castle, was transported 2,000 back in time."
"Now, let's talk about you...."
"Oh, I know me. I remember that I have warrior abilities---"
"But I have given you new powers," Gargos said, cutting Fulgore off. "You now have the ability to camouflage yourself."
The gargoyle suddenly looked confused. "What??"
"Uh, 'cool' means, like, 'great,' " Fulgore told him.
"I see....." Gargos nodded. "Anyway, I've also given you a song."
"Song? How is that going to help me in battle?"
"Well, it's not really for battle purposes.....your song releases hypnotic waves to put people to sleep. I'll explain its use later."
"Okay. So when do we get Spinal back!?" Fulgore asked.
Gargos chuckled yet again. "If you're that eager, I guess we can bring him back now...."
"Great!!" The two fighters walked out of the factory and headed to a graveyard, followed by the cat.
Gargos and Fulgore set out to the graveyard on foot. The graveyard wasn't set up very well. Instead of tombstones, the graves were marked by wooden crosses, some of which had fallen apart. The graves were not arranged in diagonal rows like in the present. In fact, they were scattered about here and there. The bodies weren't necessarily buried facing the same direction either. The ground wasn't level at all.
"I feel sorry for these people," Fulgore said. "They must hate being buried on top of each other like this."
"It just goes to show how slow humans are," Gargos said. "It took them forever to discover fire, and I was born with it."
To demonstrate, Gargos blew a large flame from his mouth. Fulgore nodded.
"Well, I can dig it." The cyborg began to dig up one grave while Gargos started on another.
The grave that Fulgore dug up didn't even have a coffin. He pulled out the skeleton. A big blob of dirt dropped from its ribcage.
"This one looks good," he called, bouncing it slightly.
Just after he spoke, the skeleton's head fell off, then the right arm, then the left arm. Fulgore lifted the ribcage a little higher, but the lower body dropped back into the soil. Fulgore then dropped the ribcage, which shattered as it hit the ground.
"Did you say something, Fulgore?" Gargos asked.
Gargos uncovered a skeleton. With out the touch of a finger, the skull crumbled.
"Nope. This one will never do."
"Reviving Spinal is easier said that done," Fulgore called.
"It'll be easy once we find the right skeleton," Gargos told him.
"Meow!" The black cat stood on one grave, sniffed and scratched it a few times.
"What's up, cat?" Fulgore asked. "You want us to try that grave?"
The cat meowed again. Fulgore and Gargos looked upon the grave.
"I suppose this grave is as good as any to dig up," Gargos said.
Together, he and Fulgore dug up the grave with their fingers. Unlike the others, this grave contained an old, wooden box. Gargos reached in and pulled the lid off. Inside was a skeleton noticeably fresher than the others. This person had died more recently; the skeleton still had traces of rotten flesh stuck on it. It even wore some kind of spiked metal belt with red leather straps hanging from it. The cat sniffed at the skeleton. Fulgore pulled it out of the box and held it as if getting ready for a slow dance with it.
"What are you doing?" Gargos asked.
"I'm giving the endurance test," Fulgore said.
He rocked the skeleton from side to side, then made it lean back and brought it back up. Amazingly, the skeleton didn't fall apart. Fulgore carelessly dropped it back into the box.
"This one is strong. I think we should use it," he said.
"You're right," Gargos agreed. "Stand back."
He kneeled over the skeleton and held his palm up. A ball of energy appeared, then Gargos slowly brought it down onto the skeleton, just as he had with Fulgore. The energy rapidly spread all over the bony body. Gargos stood up and stepped back.
"Nothing happened," Fulgore observed.
"Just give it a moment," Gargos instructed.
They waited impatiently. The skeleton seemed to remain stubbornly lifeless. Suddenly, a red glow appeared in its eyes. The thing now known as Spinal lives again! Spinal sat up with a yawn. He stretched his arms out and apparently rubbed his eyes as if awakening from a deep sleep. Gargos looked at Fulgore and gave him the signal to "go ahead." Fulgore stepped up to Spinal, who was still trying to wake up. Spinal froze when he saw Fulgore, then slowly moved his gaze into Fulgore's eyes.
"Do you remember me?" the cyborg asked.
Spinal shook his head no. Fulgore thought for a moment.
"Are you sure you don't remember me?"
Spinal nodded, then spoke. "How......how could I remember you? I don't even remember who I am."
"You're Spinal," Fulgore told him. "I'm called Fulgore. We competed in the Killer Instinct tournament together. Concentrate, Spinal."
Spinal looked down for a moment, concentrating roughly. His memory remained blank. He looked up Fulgore again. "I remember nothing."
The cat rubbed its body against Spinal's ankles.
"See, Spinal, even the cat remembers you!"
Fulgore then looked back at Gargos and shrugged. Gargos stepped forward.
"No matter. All you need to know now, Spinal, is that you work for me from this day forward, and Fulgore here will be your partner."
"Just like the old days," Fulgore added.
"Old days?" Spinal asked.
"First off, we need to get rid of that unsightly rotten flesh," Gargos went on. "Unlike most owners, I like my slaves clean."
"Slaves?" Spinal was stunned. "You woke me up from eternal sleep just to make me your slave!?"
"Of course," Gargos replied. "I warn you now, don't try to overthrow me."
"Who are you?"
"Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gargos."
Fulgore's eyes lit up. "Wait a minute; YOU'RE Gargos?"
Gargos grinned. "Surprised?"
"Yeah, well.... you're the same Gargos that was trapped in Limbo with Eyedol?" Fulgore asked. "How did you get out?"
"I had a little help from a nice young man......by the name of.......Jago."
"Why would Jago help you?"
"A little deception is always in order. Now come on, you two; we have a planet to take over."
"No way!" Spinal said. "I don't like being denied my eternal sleep just to be your slave."
Gargos emitted a low growl as he stormed up to the box, grabbed Spinal, and picked him up violently.
"Listen, you worthless pile of bones! I have resurrected you for a few.....purposes! I figured that you would be delighted to be given the most important gift of all --- life."
"Well, you figured wrong!" Spinal told him.
"It's too late now; I've already brought you life. You will quit arguing with me now, understand!?" Gargos shoved Spinal back into the wooden coffin. "Now get up out of that shoebox and follow me!"
He turned around sharply and started to walk away. Fulgore and Spinal just stared. Fulgore's eyes narrowed; he didn't like how Gargos was being so rough on Spinal. He extended a hand to help Spinal out. Spinal gasped, frightened of Fulgore's claws.
"It's okay," Fulgore assured him.
Spinal reluctantly took the cyborg hand, and Fulgore pulled him out. Gargos turned around to face them.
"What are you guys waiting for --- Christmas? Come on!!" he demanded.
Fulgore sighed. "Come on, let's go," he muttered.
"What's Christmas?" Spinal asked.
"I've no idea."
The pair started following the warlord. Gargos immediately called on Fulgore.
"Fulgore, come here for a second."
"When you gave that headband to Spinal, did you enjoy that part?"
Gargos gave Fulgore the headband. "How would you like to give it to him again?"
"I'd love to." Fulgore returned to Spinal. "Spinal, do you remember this?"
"I told you, I remember nothing," Spinal told him.
"Well, I'd like to give this to you......again." Fulgore held out the clothing for Spinal to see, then secured it on his head. "See, it looks good with that......whatever that is."
"Wonderful," Spinal sighed.
"Come on, let's go."
Fulgore and Spinal followed Gargos back to the castle.
"Okay, you two, since we're stuck in the past, why don't you go out and become familiar with the terrain," Gargos instructed. "I must study this diary some more. Go on, go, go, go!"
Fulgore and Spinal silently left the castle.
After Fulgore took Spinal to the Ultratech building to clean off the rotten flesh, they trailed off into the woods for their tour. The woods looked pretty much the same as in the present, perhaps thicker.
"So, Spinal, tell me what your past life was like," Fulgore said. "You know, when you actually had flesh and blood."
Spinal thought for a moment. "I don't remember my past life either."
"Hmm....." Fulgore also appeared to be pondering. "You are hopeless, aren't you?"
Spinal nodded and sighed. "Gargos should have left me dead."
Fulgore had to be careful of what he said. He had wanted Spinal to live again, but he didn't want to let Spinal know. "Well, I can't say anything about that. I'm sure Gargos has his reasons. I doubt that he'll explain them to us, but he does have his reasons. Okay, Spinal, can you fight?"
"I remember that you were especially skilled with a sword and shield."
"I've never used a sword and shield before."
"Oh, you will," Fulgore said. "I'll teach you. The warrior is in you; we just need to dig it up. You'll be fighting in no time."
Spinal chuckled. "No way. You're going to teach ME how to fight!?"
The cyborg looked at him sweetly. "Spinal, it will be an honor," he said, placing a hand on Spinal's shoulder.
As they began to press onward, they heard some rustling in the bushes behind them. They spun around simultaneously to face it.
"What was that?" Spinal asked.
"Probably just an animal," Fulgore said. "Forget it; let's go."
They ignored the noise and continued their exploration of the past.
The rustling was actually caused by two women. One had nearly-blood red hair tied in a ponytail. She wore this pink Chinese silk uniform. The other woman was blonde and wore leopard skin. They stared in awe as the skeleton and cyborg walked on.
"You know, Kim," said the blonde. "I don't think we've seen those two before."
"They must be new around here," Kim Wu replied. "Wow.....look at those bones, Maya! I wonder if they feel as smooth as they look?"
Maya shot her a confused look. "Don't even ask."
"Oooh....but I must find out!" Kim cried. "I'm going out there."
Maya grabbed her shoulder before she could move. "You've got to be crazy! Look at that other thing! There's no telling what he can do."
"They look nice enough," Kim said.
"Okay, okay. You just stay here. I'll distract them, then you can grab those bones when the time is right, okay?"
Maya unsheathed one of her knives and threw it at the strange newcomers. It struck Fulgore's left shoulder.
"Ouch!" he cried, spinning around.
Spinal turned and spotted the knife now lying in the grass. "What kind of animal would throw a knife at us?" he asked.
"I guess I was wrong," Fulgore told him. "That's no animal. We're being followed."
Maya slowly stepped out of the bushes. She crept up to Fulgore, then bent over to pick up her knife. Before getting up, she tapped on Fulgore's foot, then his ankle. She finally stood up and looked into his eyes. Fulgore and Spinal were completely confused.
"Are.....are you real?" asked Maya.
Fulgore glanced at Spinal, surprised that someone would ask such a pointless question. He looked back at Maya.
"No, I'm not. It's only your imagination. Are YOU real?"
"Of course I'm real," Maya told him. "I'm as real as this."
She touched Fulgore's wounded shoulder and looked at the green oil on her fingers. She sniffed at it, then made a disgusted face.
"Who are you?" Spinal asked.
Maya looked at him. "Is it so important?"
Spinal stepped back, dejected. Suddenly, Kim leaped out from the bushes and dove into Spinal at full speed, knocking him down. Spinal gasped wildly as Kim pinned him down.
"Hey! Get off me!" he screamed.
"Shh. Relax," Kim said softly. "I won't hurt you."
"You already have!" Spinal told her. "What are you doing to me!?"
"I want to get to know you. My name's Kim Wu, and that's Maya. What's your name?"
"Yeah, who are you?" Maya asked.
"Is it so important?" Fulgore asked.
"Yes it is; we've never seen......whatever you are, and we never knew that skeletons can walk and talk."
"I'm a cyborg," Fulgore told her. "They call me Fulgore, and that's Spinal."
"Spinal....." Kim sighed. "I like it."
"You know, if I use my shrink beam, you'd make a lovely toy," Maya said to Fulgore.
"Sorry, I can't play," Fulgore said.
Meanwhile, Kim rubbed Spinal's ribcage. "Maya, these bones really are smooth!"
"That's nice, Kim," Maya said.
Spinal has had it. He threw his leg around Kim, and pulled her off. Screaming, he stood up and ran away. With a final glance at the girls, Fulgore ran to catch up with his partner. Kim stood up and sighed.
"He hates me," she muttered.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Maya said. "He's obviously shy. Just give him some time......and slow down a bit, and he'll be lying helpless in your arms before you know it."
Kim sighed again. "I have to get him. He is too adorable to ignore."
Once Fulgore and Spinal had their distance, they slowed down.
"Well, Spinal, looks like somebody has a crush! You're so lucky," Fulgore said.
"Lucky!?" Spinal gasped. "She's already driving me crazy! That isn't lucky. That is the exact opposite of lucky!"
"Spinal, Kim Wu is pretty darn hyper, and she doesn't look like the person who will give up easily," Fulgore told him. "You might as well give in."
"No, no, no!" Spinal screamed, grabbing either side of his head. "I can't give in! I can't, I can't, I can't!!!" He dropped to his knees.
"You're taking this the wrong way, Spinal," Fulgore told him. "This is a grand opportunity for you! Love is a great feeling!"
"How would you know?" Spinal snapped. "You're an unfeeling machine!"
"Hey, I may be a machine, but that doesn't mean that I'm incapable of emotions. I know that you don't remember our......friendship.......during the tournament, but you haven't changed a bit. Spinal, just as I did before.....I love you."
Spinal's eyes conveyed the same confused look he had given the first time. "What?"
Fulgore chuckled. "Oh deja vu! That was the exact same reaction you gave me before!"
Before the cyborg could explain, he heard a gasp.
In response, Spinal jumped up and back away from the perpetrator. Fulgore gasped as well.
Yes, Jago was standing there, still accompanied by Orchid and T.J. Combo.
"And look who else is back --- little Spinal!" Combo cried.
"How did you know my name?" Spinal asked.
"They knew you, too, Spinal," Fulgore told him. "They were in the KI competition."
"Come on! You remember us, Spinal; we're your friends!" Combo yelled.
Jago and Orchid shot him a look.
"I do not know any of you!" Spinal said clearly.
Then he heard the familiar, hyper female voice calling. "Spinal!!"
Spinal spun around frantically to see Kim Wu racing in his direction.
"Oh no!!!" He leaped up into the nearest tree, just as Kim reached the fighters. She looked at Fulgore.
"He's up there," he told her.
Kim walked under the tree and looked up. "Are you up there, Spinal?"
"You're missing out on a lot, Spinal," Fulgore called. "This is love! She can help you out, so don't turn her down."
"It's okay, Spinal; I don't bite."
"Just stay away from me!" Spinal yelled. "And Fulgore, don't even try to tempt me!"
"What's going on?" Combo asked.
"She's in love with Spinal," Fulgore replied.
"Oh, how sweet!" Combo gushed.
"How disgusting," Orchid muttered.
Jago said nothing.
Kim turned to Jago suddenly and gasped. "A masked man! Haiiiiiiieeeeee!!!"
Jago gasped as soon as he realized that Kim was about to attack him. "What!?"
He blocked Kim's roundhouse, holding her ankle calmly. Orchid put both hands on Kim's shoulders.
"Hold it! Let's discuss this!"
"Yeah; what do you have against masked people?" Combo asked.
"They look evil," Kim said.
"Looks aren't everything," Combo said.
"Yeah. You fell in love with Spinal although he's a skeleton," Fulgore added.
At that moment, Spinal stepped on a branch that couldn't hold his weight, causing him to fall out of the tree. Fulgore quickly caught him in his arms. Spinal was too shocked to thank the cyborg. Fulgore looked up at Kim.
"Here you go," he said, shoving Spinal into her arms. "Don't you two just look natural together?"
Spinal stared at Fulgore for a second, then looked at Kim. She looked into his glowing red eyes.
Spinal let out a bloodcurdling scream. "GYAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!!!"
As he screamed, Kim closed her eyes and grinned. Spinal rolled out of her arms and took off again. Fulgore followed as he and Combo were laughing. Maya reached the group with a weary sigh.
"Kim, I told you to slow down," she gasped. "You're scaring him!"
"Oh Maya......I held him in my arms; it was so incredible!" Kim gushed. "And I just love the way he screams!"
Maya then noticed the three fighters from the future. "Oh, more strange ones!"
Combo walked up to Kim, then looked down at her feet. "Hmm.....interesting slippers, though not very modern."
"What do you mean?" Kim asked. "They were just made this year."
"What year is that?" Jago asked.
Maya and Kim glanced at each other and shrugged.
"Well, Orchid began. "According to Gargos, we were transported back---"
"Gargos!?" Maya and Kim screamed in unison, cutting Orchid off.
"You know Gargos?" Combo asked.
"Know him!? We banished him," Maya said.
"Well......my parents did; I had nothing to do with it," Kim admitted.
"Gargos is free!?" Maya asked.
" 'Fraid so," Combo told her. "We don't know much about him, though."
"Gargos is a monster," Maya said coldly.
"Yeah, we figured that," Orchid said.
"I just want to get him back for what he did to me," Jago growled. "He used me to escape by posing as my all-time master. I trusted it; it betrayed me!"
"We know how you feel, Jago; it's a real drag," Combo said.
"If Gargos isn't stopped, the world is doomed," Kim told them. "We have to find him."
"I think we know where to find him," Jago said flatly. "Follow us."
The three future fighters led Maya and Kim over to the Ultratech Building......
Fulgore and Spinal raced back into the castle. Gargos looked up from the diary and raised an eye.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"There's this red head," Fulgore said. "Her name's Kim Wu, and she's in love with Spinal."
"Aww, how cute," Gargos said. "Odd, but cute. Kim Wu, eh? The name sounds familiar.......oh yes! I hear she was next in line as guardian of her people."
"Anyway," Gargos continued. "Fulgore, are you ready to teach Spinal the way of the warrior?"
"Ready as I'll ever be," Fulgore replied.
"Here you go, Spinal." Gargos handed Spinal the sword and shield. However, the little slave was not impressed, even though the artillery was better-looking than the last.
"Well, Spinal, let's go." Fulgore escorted Spinal out onto the bridge. The moat was completely gone, and so were the piranhas.
Spinal swung his sword expertly once again. "Hey, I can get used to this."
"I told you the warrior was in you," Fulgore said. "You already have the skills. You just need to learn how to use them."
"Well......okay," Spinal stammered.
"Oh, don't be shy; you'll catch on before you know it. Okay, Spinal, here's what you do...."
Meanwhile, Jago, Orchid, T.J. Combo, Maya, and Kim Wu were nearing the Ultratech Building. When Maya and Kim saw it, they gasped.
"Whoa!" Maya cried. "That.....building is astounding! Simply astounding!"
"Yeah, look at the material," Kim added.
"Well, we're used to it," Orchid told them. "But I guess it would be impressive to an......out-of-towner."
"Hey, we don't even know who you are," Maya said from nowhere.
"Oh yeah. I'm Orchid, and this is Jago, and T.J. Combo."
"What's his name?" Kim asked of Combo.
"Just call me T.J.," Combo told her.
"T.J.....I'm Maya, and this is Kim Wu."
"Look!" Kim cried, grabbing Maya's arm.
They looked at the neighboring castle and saw Fulgore giving Spinal the warrior lessons.
"Oh, not him again," Maya sighed.
"I've got to get a closer look!"
"Kim, I believe we should stick together."
"You guys go on; I'll catch up."
"Are you sure, Kim?" Jago asked. "You probably won't be able to find us; it's a jungle in there!"
"Really? Just like home," Maya said.
"Uh......not really; it was just an expression," Jago explained. "It means that it's a big building, and there're a lot of rooms. Kim could get lost in there, just like she would in a jungle."
"Don't worry; I can find you guys," Kim said.
"Well, okay," Jago said. "But please don't scare him."
As the other four went into the Ultratech Building, Kim snuck off to the castle and hid behind a nearby tree. She watched as Fulgore and Spinal went through several drills. After a while, Fulgore went into the castle. While Spinal had his back turned, Kim quickly snuck up and hid under the bridge.
"There. Now I can hear him talk."
Spinal swung his sword and threw some kicks into the air. "Hmm. Fulgore was right; the warrior is in me."
"You're going to have to work harder than that, Spinal," Gargos called suddenly.
Spinal spun around, startled. "Gargos, don't scare me like that!"
"Gargos???" Kim whispered from under the bridge.
"I can scare you if I want," Gargos snapped. "I'll be telling you what not to do."
He threw a large blue fireball from his palm. It pounded Spinal in the chest, knocking him down. Spinal stood up quickly, but Gargos grabbed his bottom jaw as soon as he did.
"Look at you, you're pathetic!"
"Hey, let go!" Spinal groaned.
Gargos only tightened his grip. "You have no hope for anything good. If you want respect from me, you must earn it; and right now you're not doing well enough. You couldn't even defeat an infant with your skills."
"That's not true!" Spinal cried.
"Oh yes, it is," Gargos said forcefully. "So face it.......slave.......you'll never make it in this world. How am I supposed to conquer this poor excuse for a planet with an incompetent little fink like you!?"
He brutally shoved Spinal back ten feet, causing him to drop his sword and shield. Gargos narrowed his eyes as they gave a yellow flash.
"Now get up and get back to work, small fry!" He turned around sharply and his wings shot outward as he went back inside the castle.
"If this planet is so poor, then why conquer it?" Spinal called.
Gargos paused. "Because it exists." He went even deeper into the castle.
Kim Wu felt her heart crumble. Upon hearing Gargos' cruel treatment, she sank to the ground and a tear fell from her eyes.
"Spinal's a slave?" she thought. "Why does Gargos have to treat him so harshly? I've got to help him."
Spinal stood up and picked up his weapons. "I'll get to work all right," he said to himself. "I've got to put an end to this. I need to get back to my eternal sleep."
"Meow." The cat came out onto the bridge. Spinal only looked at it.
"But I can never defeat Gargos," he went on. "It'll be at least a millenium before I'm ready to take him on."
"Spinal wants to defeat Gargos, too," Kim thought. "I've got to tell the others. Maybe he can help us. But how can I get out of here without being seen?"
Spinal threw his attacks more fiercely. After a few more swipes, he threw his weapons down on the bridge. His shield rolled off the bridge. Kim looked down at it.
"I can't take this anymore!!" Spinal screamed.
"Spinal, is something wrong?" Fulgore called from behind.
Spinal just sighed in frustration.
"Oh, I see," Fulgore went on. "Look, don't worry about it. All Gargos is doing is trying to get you to work harder. He's trying to make you hope that if you satisfy him, he'll treat you better."
"I know what he's trying to do, and it isn't that," Spinal said. "I'm surprised that he's not doing the same thing to you."
"That's probably because I've already satisfied him. I don't mind working for Gargos at all; however, I don't like the way he's treating you either. I can't just confront him about it.....but I'll see what I can do."
The cyborg walked back into the castle. Spinal looked over the edge of the bridge, but his shield wasn't where it had fallen.
"Where's my shield?" he asked.
Spinal turned, startled again. Kim was standing behind him, clutching his shield. She held it out to him.
"You dropped this," she said.
Spinal snatched it from her. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Take a good guess, Spinal," Kim said. "I heard how Gargos treated you. I want to help you."
"Oh please. How could you possibly help me?"
Kim took Spinal's hand and led him away from the castle. Then they both sat down on the ground.
"You don't have to work for Gargos; he's pure evil," Kim went on.
"Yes, I know that, but there's nothing I can do," Spinal told her. "Gargos is far too powerful for me. I've been training for merely a few hours."
"You can join me and my friends. Together we can beat him."
"Your friends? I don't know, Kim. What about Fulgore?"
"Does Fulgore want to beat Gargos, too?" Kim asked.
"I don't think so, but he is my only friend so far," Spinal said.
"Well, you can talk to Fulgore and then get back to me. Spinal, I just want to be with you."
"Please......Kim, I don't think I can do this."
"Why not? Fulgore said we look natural together."
"What does Fulgore know!?"
Kim looked up and noticed Gargos standing in the doorway of the castle. "Uh-oh." Spinal turned back, also.
Gargos stood there, smiling. "Please!" he called. "Don't mind me!"
Fulgore joined him in the doorway. "Ah, I knew he'd give in."
"Fulgore, so glad you could join me. I need to talk to you," Gargos said. "I have the main duty ready for you."
"What's that?" Fulgore asked.
"I need you to torture Spinal every now and then."
"It's just coercion. Just think; you've been nice to Spinal so far."
"Is that bad?"
"Not at all. But when people are being nice to him, his confidence goes up. If he gets confident enough, he'll try to defeat me. So the torture is just to keep his hopes down."
"I see......but Gargos......I don't think I can bring myself to hurt him."
"You don't have to hurt him; leave that part to me," Gargos explained. "All you have to do is humiliate him, scare him, things like that. Just don't make it too regular. It has to be done when he least expects it. You can do it whenever you want; I won't even order you when to do so. It's all up to you."
"I don't understand. How can I torture him without inflicting physical pain?" Fulgore asked.
"There are plenty of ways. Just pick on him, or dress him up like a clown. That's why I gave you the song I told you about, to make it easier. It really wasn't meant for use in battle."
"And while we're talking about the song, why don't you try it on those two right now," Gargos suggested, pointing at Kim and Spinal. "Make it slow and sweet, and they'll fall asleep."
Fulgore nodded, then slowly approached the little couple. Gargos strolled back into the castle. Spinal and Kim looked up at Fulgore, who began to sing his lullaby.
"Hush little baby, don't say a word. Mama's gonna buy you a mocking bird. If that mocking bird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring. If that diamond ring turns brass, Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass."
Spinal and Kim stared up at him, looking confused. Fulgore continued to hum that sweet tune. Spinal groaned and clutched his head as he reclined on the ground. Kim slowly passed out as well.
"Hey, it worked!" Fulgore exclaimed, only to find that Gargos was no longer standing where he was. Fulgore shrugged, then picked up Spinal and draped him over his shoulder. The cyborg carried him into the castle. Gargos was inside still reading Eyedol's diary.
"It worked, eh?" he asked.
"Yeah, but what do I do with Kim?" Fulgore asked.
"Oh, just leave her out there. She won't do anything."
"Okay." Fulgore carried Spinal downstairs into the dungeon.
The other warriors looked around in the Ultratech Building for Gargos. Maya was especially impressed with all the advancements.
"Wow! What is all this neat stuff!?" she cried.
"Well.......just call it a glimpse of the future," Combo told her.
"This is pointless; there is just no sign of life in this building!" Orchid cried.
Maya stared at a computer, then looked down at the keyboard. "Hey, Jago, what are all these funny shapes?"
Jago looked at the keyboard. "We call them letters. It's our writing system."
"Orchid, I'd say you're right; we're not going to find Gargos here," Combo said. "Let's find Kim."
The warriors gave up and left the Ultratech Building.
Spinal woke up in the dungeon. "Whoa.....what happened? Did I fall asleep?"
"Oh......I see you're waking up," Fulgore said.
Spinal tried to get up.......but he couldn't. "Fulgore? What's going on? I can't move....."
"That's because I have you tied up, little one," Fulgore told him.
"Huh?" Spinal looked around to find himself bound to the floor in a spread-eagled position. "Fulgore, what are you doing!?"
"Gargos requires me to torture you on a regular basis, so you will be tied up quite often."
"Wait a minute. Your job is to nab me and tie me up on a regular basis!?"
"Well.....yeah. I'm also required to toy with you in some manner, but since this is only the first time, I won't do anything," Fulgore explained. "I'll just leave you here to think about the various possibilities."
"Fulgore, this isn't funny!" Spinal shouted. "Let me go!!"
"Not just yet, my little friend," Fulgore said. "I have one more thing for you."
He grabbed a towel and shoved it into Spinal's mouth. Then he took a piece of rope and tied it around Spinal's head to keep the towel in place. The cyborg stood up and towered over the helpless slave.
"Well, sweet dreams....."
Fulgore left the dungeon, closing the door behind him. Spinal dropped back and sighed, squirming against the ropes, but it was futile.
"What can he possibly do to me?" he wondered.
He pictured Fulgore beating him to a pulp. He had to escape. If not this time, then next time for sure! Spinal pulled on his restraints again....
The other warriors found Kim Wu fast asleep in front of the castle.
"Kim, wake up!" Jago cried, gently shaking her.
Kim's eyes fluttered open slowly. "Whoa....what happened?"
"You were sleeping," Maya said. "Did Spinal knock you out?"
"No......but Fulgore did. He did it to Spinal, too. He knocked both of us out without even touching us," Kim explained.
"How'd he do that?" Combo asked.
"I don't know. Where's Spinal?"
"We didn't see him."
"Well, would you like a tour of the Ultratech Building now?" Jago asked.
"Not now. I'd like a tour of this castle," Kim told him.
"I'll take a tour of that.......Ultratech Building," Maya said.
"Okay, Kim, we're going back in there," Orchid said. "Think you'll be all right?"
"I'll be fine."
So the other warriors returned to the Ultratech Building. When they were out of sight, Kim stood up and grinned. She raced into the castle at full speed. Fulgore was standing in there practically doing nothing.
"Looking for someone?" asked the cyborg.
"Yeah. Is Gargos still here?" Kim asked.
"Yeah, he's here. Would you like to see him?"
"Oh no!! Where's Spinal?"
"He's in the dungeon," Fulgore said.
"Can I see him?" Kim asked.
"Sure, but I warn you; he's a little tied up at the moment."
Kim rushed into the dungeon. Spinal was still on sprawled out on the floor. Upon Kim's entry, he looked around frantically. Kim walked straight up to him and looked down at him condescendingly. A terrified Spinal looked up at her. Kim kneeled down beside him. She smiled. Spinal squirmed against the ropes, squealing pitifully.
Kim squealed as well. "AIIIEEEEE, Spinal, you're so cute!!!"
Spinal only continued to sob through his gag. This was truly humiliating.
"Let's get this out of your mouth," Kim suggested.
She untied the rope, then pulled the towel out of his mouth. Spinal gasped with relief.
"So, what happened, Spinal?"
"Fulgore tied me up. He says he has to do it on a regular basis. What am I to do? I have to avoid it somehow."
"I don't know."
"Kim, you have to help me!" Spinal cried. "I'm scared, being tied up like this!"
"Okay......I'll help you.......on one condition," Kim said.
"Just be mine."
"I don't understand."
"Look, Kim, don't take this the wrong way; it's not that I hate you or anything," Spinal explained. "But I don't think I have what it takes to love."
"Are you kidding!? Sure you do!" Kim told him. "You may think that you don't know how to love, but you love all the time."
"What makes you so sure?"
"Think about it; Gargos is evil, and you don't like working for him."
"He hurts me."
"Come on, Spinal, please.....we'd be beautiful together!"
Spinal sighed in frustration as he pondered.
"And I'll give you something else," Kim went on. "I'll even help you in the future."
Spinal pondered again. "All right, all right; I give up!!"
Kim placed both hands firmly on his ribcage. "You won't regret it!"
She quickly untied Spinal. They walked out of the dungeon together. Fulgore was standing up there.
"So she freed you, huh?" he asked. "I told you she could really help you out."
"Okay, okay," Spinal mumbled.
"Well, Spinal, I gotta go before Gargos sees me," Kim said, racing out of the castle.
Little did she realize that Gargos had already seen her, but decided to do nothing. He was sitting in front of a pit. If a person leaned back too far, he could fall. Upon Kim's exit, he merely snickered under his breath. He sighed and looked into Eyedol's diary again. Suddenly, he laughed and leaned back, eventually falling off. Fulgore and Spinal gasped with anxiety.
However, Gargos flew back up and landed in front of them.
"I'm okay. I have wings, you know," he said.
"What was so funny?" Fulgore asked.
"It says here in Eyedol's diary," Gargos explained. " 'After Spinal defeated Sabrewulf, I attacked him on the castle rooftop. Spinal tricked me into running off the edge, and I nearly got eaten by a bunch of piranhas. I swore that I would get him back for it.' "
"Oh yes, I remember that," Fulgore said. "Pretty clever, Spinal."
Suddenly, Gargos gave an exhausted sigh. "Phew!!"
"What's wrong?" Fulgore asked.
"Well......I guess all that planning has made me tired. I'm sure that's it."
"Okay. Come on, Spinal; I'll show you the Ultratech Building."
"The what?" Spinal asked. "Fulgore, shouldn't I get back to my training?"
"I really want to show you the building; it's really cool."
"If you say so....."
Fulgore dragged Spinal out of the castle.