Monday, February 2, 2015

Returning to the Gemnodes

I seem to be getting these out faster than usual! My pre-publish reading group got back to me very quickly concerning this one, so I am happy to be showing it on my blog. I hope you will all enjoy it. This is the first real step into the final events of my story. We still have a long way to go, but once these events start happening there is no real stopping the plot. We are done with smaller conflicts, now the real war is beginning. I hope you will like it. If you have any questions please feel free to ask, and please leave your thoughts in the comments. Anyway, here you have it.

Dimension Splash Chronicles
Event: Returning to the Gemnodes
Pov: Hiccup, Toothless
Time: Year 10.5 of Hiccup and Link’s existence in the game

     Hiccup walked along the grassy cliff, his prosthetic making tiny clinks as it bounced against small stones. Toothless was standing a good distance from him, his large green eyes focused on him with a worried expression. Hiccup stooped, picked something up off the ground and rolled it in the palm of his hand. It was black, round, and perfectly smooth. Hiccup had found dozens of these marble sized shrouding spheres in his last hour of searching, but this had not been a pleasant outing. Only twenty yards away was a large, smooth patch of ground covered in slick green crystal. It was covered in the moss and scratches of the last three months, but the blood stains were still sickeningly clear. This was the cliff Sardilic had brought Hiccup to in order to execute him, and this is where Toothless had put an end to the Gemnode once and for all. 

     Toothless was watching, worried that Hiccup might succumb to a memory of the nightmares he had endured at the hand of Sardilic. However, Hiccup did not. He looked over the area where the fateful battle had been fought, a somber gleam in his eye. He still regretted what he had allowed to happen to Dagur, but there were worse things than his guilt about to come into play. Hiccup was collecting shrouding spheres for a reason; he was going back into the world of the Gemnodes.

     After his return to Berk a week ago, things had been hectic to say the least. Half of the Berserkers that had moved into Berk had called for his own execution, and if it had not been for the strong military presence of the vikings of Herkja, Hiccup might have fallen yet again into a Berkian prison. Hiccup treated the Berserkers with respect, but he would not allow them to stay on the island. The Berkians were not of much help, for many of them were confused or still angry with the Haddock line. However, Hiccup had ignored their grumblings, and as his first act as standing chief he had walked personally into the dungeon of Berk, taken a key in his hand, and freed the elderly Mulch from his imprisonment. With Mulch’s help, most of the Berkians came to believe in Hiccup’s ability to lead, and when Hiccup promised that he was going to free his father and bring him back, the village’s response was positive. Link and the Doctor had hidden in the cove, and with an expert hand the Doctor had nearly nursed him back to health. Skari and Fenriss had flown to Berk, but the young Skrill was unpredictable and still clearly resentful towards both his father and Toothless. Nevertheless, the two Skrills were a welcome sight for Link. Now the the village was in a form of peace, Hiccup needed to move onto the next phase of his plan: saving as many people as he could from the Gemnodes world and bringing them into his own. 

     Back on the cliffs, Hiccup had found the remains of his satchel and picked up the various useful items he found lying around it. He dipped his hand down deftly and picked up Deathquencher. This was the remarkable knife that had saved him from deletion. Hiccup also found most of Link’s equipment. His brother would be happy to have it back. Toothless walked up next to Hiccup, allowing the viking to slip Link’s hookshot and boomerang into the pouches on the side of his saddle. Then the Dragon’s eyes shot downward, and his pupils contracted into slits. He used the crook in his wing to pull Hiccup back as his lip curled up in a snarl. Hiccup’s eyes darted downward to see what his dragon was growling at. Hiccup’s eye caught onto a beautiful glint, but at the same time the eerie green light filled his heart with instinctive fear. A piece of Sardilic was laying at his feet. It was no bigger than his finger, and apparently it hadn’t flown fast enough from Sardilic’s exploding body to create a rift. Hiccup put his hand on Toothless’s head, calming him. “It’s okay, Bud. We need it.” Hiccup leaned down, and after hesitating for a moment, touched his finger to the shard.

     Instantly it felt as though something had bitten him, and not just bitten his finger. Hiccup’s whole body convulsed in mental pain, and he fell backwards. Hiccup’s mind flashed with dozens of images, too fast and blurred to be completely recognizable, but all filled with a sickening sense of terror. Above all this, his mind filled with an electrified scream of anger and pain, the scream of a Gemnode in his death agony. Hiccup did not know how long this lasted, but when he came to his senses, Toothless was standing over him. He got to his feet and looked back down at the shard. The Doctor had said that these pieces of crystal still had a powerful psychic remnant, so perhaps that is why he had reacted so strongly to them. He glanced over at Toothless and whispered quietly under his breath, “These thing still seem to have a really nasty personality…” Hiccup thought for a moment. He’d seen the Doctor handle a piece of Sardilic before without any real side effects. Perhaps it was just the fact that the Doctor had such a brilliant mind; over the last three months Hiccup had developed a deep respect and awe for the Time Lord’s abilities. Or maybe it was because the Doctor had never met Sardilic, and Hiccup had not only encountered him, but been tortured by him for what felt like life-times. Whatever the reason, the Doctor seemed to be fine handling these object, and Hiccup most certainly was not. 

     Hiccup continued to look down at the shard pondering, and Toothless nudged him gently, moaning a plea for him to just leave it alone. Hiccup touched Toothless gently and gave him a reassuring nod. “I’m just gonna try one more time, and if it does it again I’ll leave alone. We need these things, bud.” Hiccup reached into his gauntlet and pulled out a sheet of pliable parchment. He used it to cover his hand, and the reached back down towards the glistening shard. This time nothing happened, and Hiccup quickly crumpled the paper up, wrapping the shard inside. He then dropped it into Toothless’s saddle with a sigh of relief. Hiccup looked over the equipment he had found, and he felt now that he had enough. He removed the small steal knife from his gauntlet and replaced it with Deathquencher. Then he opened a small pouch on the side of his flight suit and dropped the twelve shrouding spheres he had found into it. He was packing an arsenal of Gemnode avoiding treasures, and hopefully they would keep him safe in the journey ahead.

     Two days passed as Hiccup finished his preparations. Link had almost fully recovered, but the wounds on his back still hindered him from moving as quickly as he would have usually. Hiccup knew this, and he had already made up his mind what to do. Just one day earlier he had flown the Doctor back to his TARDIS, and the Doctor had, with some difficulty, opened a rift back into his own world and gotten the TARDIS through it. The Time Lord promised he would return, but he could not stay while his universe was in such danger. He had a plan that he said could insure at least his dimension’s complete safety, maybe others, and he would return as soon as he had accomplished it. Hiccup let him go willingly, for both he and the Doctor knew that without any power gems, the Doctor would be of little help in the world of the Gemnodes, while in his own world he could save the lives of billions. Hiccup would return to the world of his foes without the Doctor’s help, but the Time Lord was not the only one of Hiccup’s companions that was going to be left behind.

     Hiccup walked up to Link who was sitting on the steps of the Mead Hall. The hylian was gently cleaning his sword and humming quietly to himself. Hiccup recognized the tune, it was a song from Link’s own world. Even though they were close, Link had rarely spoken to Hiccup about Skyloft and the life he had lost. Hiccup knew that Link had determined that everyone who he had once cared about was now long dead, including the best friend Link had ever known. It was her favorite song Link was humming now, and it was a strange and sad thing to listen to the melody escaping from his lips. Hiccup suddenly realized that though his world had suffered greatly, and though the Gemnodes had taken so much from him, his brother had suffered no less than him, and he wished he could do something to help him. 

     Link glanced up at his silent brother. The hylian’s eye was still badly bruised, but he gave Hiccup a confident smile nonetheless. Hiccup tried to smile back, but he knew Link would not like what he was about to say. Link noted Hiccup’s full gear and asked, “So, when will we be going back?”

     Hiccup sighed, looked down at the broken stone steps, and then looked back into Link’s eye. “We will not be going.” He said firmly.

     “What do you mean?” Link said, shifting in his position.

     “Toothless and I are going alone.”

     Link stood to his feet. “No you aren’t. I’m coming. You’ll need more protection than ever in that world. I have fifty of those wretched power gems, at least let me use them.” Link was beginning to get angry. “I won’t slow you down. You need me.”

     “Yes.” Hiccup breathed. “I do need you. But I need you here. It doesn’t matter how strong you are… if the Gemnodes find us, we will die. They are all powerful in their world, you know this. What is the point in risking anyone other than myself?”

     “You are taking Toothless.”

     “And that is because he can fly and keep me hidden… and you know he would never let me leave him.”

     “And I won’t let you leave me.” Link stepped forward, looking at Hiccup’s face. He was not going to let his brother face the dangers of that world without him. 

     “I expected you to be more rational than him.” Hiccup said quietly. He felt guilty, for he had hoped that Link would not fight against his decision. Link noted Hiccup’s expression, and his own visage softened.

     “Look, you can’t expect me to sit here and do nothing. I want to help you.”

     Hiccup looked up. “You can.” Link raised his eyebrows, and Hiccup continued. “I want you to unite the islands around Berk, and I want Skari to start bringing dragons back to this island. I want you to amass an army, you and him. We need every single dragon of this world to be ready in case the Gemnodes invade. If I bring people here, who knows how they will retaliate.” Hiccup looked off over the broken village. If Dagur could cause this much destruction, imagine what the wrath of the Gemnodes would be. “Besides, Toothless and I will only be conducting a stealth operation. We’ll need to move light and fast. The less people who come with me, the less likely I am to get noticed. I know it is risky, but you have to trust me. Please, Link. I need you to have Berk ready for when I return.” Hiccup looked at Link pleadingly. The two boys stood staring at each other for a long while, the cold air blowing across their faces and the sky growing grey.

     Finally Link answered. “Alright.” Hiccup exhaled quietly in relief. “I’ll stay with Skari, and we’ll have everything ready when you bring people back. But…” Link’s look became grim. “What is your plan? You’ll need to get a lot of people out at once. The Gemnodes won’t just let you slip out one at a time.”

     “Don’t worry, I’ve got an idea. Toothless still has the Legendary Fire Gem.”

     “He does?” Link asked, surprised.

     “Yes, he does, and I can use that both as a beacon and as bait. If there is one thing that can draw the people of the Gemnodes’ world to one location, it is a battle of terrible proportions.” Link began to nod at this statement, and Hiccup continued. “If the Gemnodes want to stir up conflict, I am going to use their own system against them. With any luck, we’ll be able to rescue hundreds. Just watch for the rift when I come back, because less friendly company might tag along behind me.” 

     So the Haddock boys crafted their plan carefully. Link began exploring with Skari. The Skrill had once been a raid leader, and he was surprisingly good at convincing dragons to join his cause. Link brought the story of Hiccup and the oncoming war to all the islands of the archipelago. Not many believed him at first, but Hiccup had given Link the piece of Sardilic, and when you combined that with all the other extraordinary items Link was holding along with the Skrill he was riding, at least a few chiefs were willing to ally with Berk. Some of them were happy to be out from under the maniacal rule of Dagur, and this too played in Link’s favor. Slowly but surely the world around Berk was arming itself for war.


     Hiccup sat on Toothless’s back. The dragon was perched high on an isolated crag in the harbor of Berk. The sky above was bright and the waves beneath dark and frothing. Both boy and dragon stared out across the sea. The task before them was clear, and they had done everything they possibly could to prepare. The everlasting expanse of the sea before them was a mysterious, uncertain, and dangerous place, but nowhere near as vast, mysterious, and fatal as the world the were about to jump into.

      Hiccup pulled down the mask of his helmet and breathed out slowly. Toothless glanced up at him, knowing instinctively what would come next. He could feel Hiccup’s legs tense around his own shoulders, and then as they relaxed Toothless prepared for what they were about to do. Hiccup didn’t speak, didn’t ask if Toothless was ready. The truth is that they knew they were not. Hiccup saw Toothless’s eyes looking back into his own, and then the boy nodded his helmeted head. Without hesitation Toothless dove off of the crag, Hiccup changed the gears of the tailfin, and they shot off across the sea. Hiccup reached to his side and drew his sword. He could feel the wind stinging into his eyes and the mighty, hard, pulsing muscles of Toothless’s shoulders flexing beneath him. Toothless was ripping through the air, his body filled with strength and his form perfectly designed for this kind of flight. Toothless and Hiccup became nothing more than a dark blur, and then a shimmering light exploded in front of them. Hiccup had Endeavor outstretched, the Gemshard in the blade glowing brighter than the sun, and in Hiccup’s mind was the world he had escaped. Both he and Toothless filled their minds with memories of loved ones still trapped there. They would save them, or they would die trying. Just as Toothless felt he could fly no faster, Endeavor sliced through the dimensional fabric, and the blur that was Hiccup and Toothless vanished into an endless world of light. 

     When Hiccup and Toothless came out of the void, they found themselves unable to see as usual, but they knew they were free falling. This frightened Hiccup for a moment, but he and Toothless soon regained composure. They had fallen many times, and by now they were experts at leveling off even at the last second. Hiccup realized happily that Toothless’s ears were waving around, twitching and vibrating as the dragon used his incredibly accurate sonar. Both their visions were still blurred, but Hiccup’s was returning more quickly than Toothless’s. He could barley make out shapes in the blackness, the clearest of them being the moon. This was fortunate, they had arrived in the dimension at night. The other shape he saw was the rift behind him. “We need to move away from that.” Hiccup leaned down to Toothless turning the dragon’s blurry vision towards the huge, glowing gash in the sky. Toothless grunted in agreement and began flying as fast as he could. They didn’t know where they were, but they knew they did not want to be near their own point of entry.

     Both Toothless and Hiccup were shocked at how fast Toothless was able to fly. Within their chests they could feel the power gems humming to life again. Normally, the feeling of health and power these objects gave had been a pleasant thing, but now it was only a reminder of why they were here. This system needed to end. Hiccup’s vision had now cleared completely, and he could see that he and Toothless were out over the open ocean in the blackest of nights. He couldn’t be sure where he was, but that would soon become the least of their worries. Far behind them the rift was slowly starting to close. Suddenly, something like lighting struck beside the rift. The sound was so piercing that Toothless could not help but shriek in pain and Hiccup’s hands clenching his ears violently. Then it happened again. There was a flash, a throbbing pulse through the air, and another unendurably loud sound. Hiccup and Toothless were now flying away from the sounds as fast as Toothless’s terror filled body could carry them. the dragon’s eyes were wide, his pupils contacted, and his mouth open with teeth bare. He’d seen this kind of lightning before, seen it on the day Oninonix came and deleted Hiccup before his eyes. 

     The lightning continued. Again and again and again. When it finally stopped, nineteen brilliant blasts of light had appeared above the ocean, and nineteen glowing forms floated above the sea making the water beneath them boil. The Gemnodes had come, and in this world they were all powerful. Hiccup glanced behind his shoulder, he could barely make out the rift and glowing forms, but he knew the distance was not sufficient. 

     A blazing red Gemnode turned to the others. His form was bristling with spikes of crystal and bright orange flames were licking from his arms, chest, and crown. “Find them! That rift was not of our own creation. An opposer has entered the dimension. I do not care if he has a shrouding sphere, I do not care if you must destroy this planet, find him!”

     The Gemnodes acted with terrifying efficiency. Each one shot out in an opposite direction, their mathematically perfect minds calculating all the likeliest routes an enemy could have taken. They were scanning everything, heat in the air, radiation, magic, teleportation fields. No stone was being left unturned. Hiccup could see that one of them was coming up directly behind him. No matter how fast he and Toothless fled, this creature would be faster. In this world they could do anything, and it was just a matter of time before Hiccup and Toothless were seen. The shrouding sphere very effectively covered their tracks and made them difficult to locate using scans or magic, but with this many Gemnodes searching for them, capture seemed inevitable.

     Hiccup’s mind was racing. The Gemnode heading in their direction would be right on top of them within thirty seconds. Toothless looked back into his eyes, and both the boy’s and the dragon’s hearts were snapping in panic. Hiccup glanced back at the Gemnode one last time, and then he looked at Toothless and said, “Dive.” The dragon didn’t hesitate, and almost without making a splash he and Hiccup’s streamlined form disappeared into the waves. This was not as safe as Hiccup was hoping. Immediately they discovered that the ocean water was blazingly hot. The life provided by the power gems was draining rapidly, especially for Hiccup. Still Hiccup pushed down hard on Toothless’s back, telling him to dive deeper. The dragon obeyed. Both boy and dragon activated an air gem, and with it a bubble of oxygen encompassed their heads. Hiccup opened his eyes in relief, and the skin that had been scorched around his face slowly began to heal. His life was still being drained away by the water outside, but what could he do? He looked down at Toothless, his vision made hazy by the bubble of air around his head. Hiccup would not last long. It wasn’t the most painful way to go, but he could feel his body shutting down. The power gems could only do so much to null the pain. Toothless looked up at him. Within the dragon’s heart, he knew Hiccup was dying. He swam down deeper, as fast as his pumping wings would let him, but still the water around them boiled. Even Toothless was beginning to feel faint. Then the dragon saw something, and it filled his heart with bitter grief. The bottom of the ocean floor was right before him, and still the water surrounding them was unbearably hot. Hiccup’s skin was scorched and blistered now, and Toothless could do nothing to protect him. The dragon turned upwards to look at his boy, but Hiccup’s gaze was fixed on the ocean surface above. They could both see a dazzlingly bright light moving towards where they had dove into the sea, and to Hiccup’s great relief, the bright form did not stop. It kept moving at its constant speed, like a shooting star blazing across a hazy sky. As the Gemnode passed over, the darkness of the ocean encompassed Hiccup and Toothless, and the heat became intolerable. Hiccup gasped out in pain, and in a spasm his foot unlatched from his harness. His limp form began to float up as thought became impossible. Toothless’s heart broke in unbelief, and the dragon swam up and gently gripped Hiccup in his claws. Toothless’s body encircled Hiccup, trying to protect him from the burning world around him. Toothless pressed his face into the bubble around Hiccup’s, and the dragon nuzzled Hiccup’s now unconscious form. This was the end. When Hiccup died, he would appear at the nearest portal weak and exhausted, and worst of all they would have no shrouding spheres. The Gemnodes would find him, and Hiccup would be killed for the murder of Sardilic. Toothless’s heart hurt, the dragon’s form floated limply around Hiccup, and with all his soul he wished that there was something he could do to save his boy. 

     The life of the power gems faded, and with them Hiccup’s body died. In an instant his soul would flee to the nearest portal, but something happened, something wonderful. The knife on Hiccup’s gauntlet began to glow, white, brilliant. Toothless opened his eyes, and the dragon’s heart filled with hope and wonder. The knife was now surrounded by dancing tendrils of light, and the magic of the blade was now visibly embracing Hiccup’s limp body. Then with a jolt, Hiccup’s eyes opened and he gasped for air. He moved under the water, looking at his arms and legs and then noticing Deathquencher. The knife’s glow was slowly fading away, and beneath the mask Hiccup smiled. The blade had saved him yet again. The water was still boiling hot, but Hiccup could tell that the temperature was dropping. Toothless was ecstatic. He shoved his face into the bubble of Hiccup’s air gem and pushed the boy’s mask up with his snout. Hiccup chuckled even though he was still in pain. Toothless licked him broadly across the face, and since they were now sharing a bubble, Hiccup spoke very clearly to him. “Yeah, we’re really lucky, bud. I didn’t know it would do that.” Hiccup drew the blade from its sheath, and looked over the delicate white hilt. At the bottom there was a glowing blue gem. The stone looked as though it had some sort of liquid inside of it. Souldrinker had once had a red gem in the exact same position, and it filled over time as it was used to delete characters. Legend had it that if it filled completely, the blade would destroy itself. Hopefully the legends were not true, but if they were it looked as though Hiccup had used half of Deathquencher’s energies. 

     Hiccup sheathed the knife, and then looked back into Toothless’s eyes, barley able to make them out in the pale blue light that was emanating from Deathquencher. The dragon was still right on top of him. The water was finally cold, in fact it was starting to get bitterly frigid in the oceanic depths. “Think it is safe?” Hiccup asked. Toothless glanced up. Nowhere was safe, but staying here was probably a bad idea as well. Toothless could fly incredibly fast, and considering his hide was dark he could become nearly invisible at night. If they did not follow the darkness, they would be a much easier target. Toothless looked back at Hiccup, waiting for his decision. “Hmmm… Our air gems will only last so long. Let’s head up.” 

     Hiccup locked back in to Toothless’s saddle. The dragon began pushing against the dark water. His tail and wings worked well to propel him through the pitch black liquid. After what felt like a long time, the moon became visible. This was fortunate because right as it happened the air gems expired, and the cold water closed in around Hiccup and Toothless’s faces. Toothless immediately worried that they were too deep, and the dragon doubled his efforts. With one more great surge the dragon surfaced with a terrific splash. Both Hiccup and Toothless gasped in the cold night air. Hiccup looked around, not a single Gemnode was in sight. Where they were, he did not know, but he was going to take advantage of their absence. “Well, we have no idea where we are, The Gemnodes may be invisible, probably half the people in this world hate us, and we just nearly drowned in a boiling ocean.” Hiccup said, glancing over at Toothless. “I’d say we’re off to a better start than I expected!” Hiccup smirked. “Let’s get out of here bud. Once we find land, we’ll be in much better shape.”

     Hiccup and Toothless lifted off from the open ocean. With a shrouding sphere and the stealth of the Night Fury, Hiccup and Toothless were invisible to every unfriendly eye. As unlikely as it seemed, they’d beaten the Gemnode’s at their own game yet again. 


     The cold night air left a small, lonely dragon curled into a ball, desperate to keep himself warm. Link’s Terrible Terror had been on the raw end of many events in the Gemnode’s world, and he dearly missed his former owner. The dragon peeked his bright yellow eyes out into the night, unable to sleep. He remembered how much fun he had once had with Link, how he and Toothless would work together to pin the hylian down and lick him silly. Most of all he missed climbing into Link’s packs or even beneath his hat. Link had never minded, and because of this the Terrible Terror had never really had to be alone. He had been with Link ever since he hatched from his egg, the egg Hiccup had given the hylian as his first expression of gratitude. This little dragon had been one of the most notable sparks that fed into the fire of Hiccup and Link’s friendship. The tiny dragon just wished he knew where his master was. He would give anything to see Link again.

     To most people, this Terrible Terror looked utterly ordinary. He was bright green with red spines and big yellow eyes. He was actually a little smaller than most of the other Terrible Terrors on the island, but his size was certainly deceiving. Battling with Link had allowed this little Terrible Terror to gain massive amounts of power gems. Forty three of these gems were hidden within the tiny body of this dragon. This Terrible Terror had defeated countless foes, the most recent of which was a Jaeger that even the Doomfang had been unable to stop. And, to top it all off, this Terrible Terror had a very special gift. Long ago, practically when he was still a chick, Link had infiltrated Meta Knight’s battleship, the Halberd. Inside Link had discover several black cloaks, the same capes that Meta Knight used to teleport. These valuable objects were known as Galaxia Darkness capes. The Terrible Terror had taken one. The cape had merged with his wings and turned them a dark purple, and now this Terrible Terror had the incredible ability of teleportation. As long as he could wrap himself in his wings, he could vanish and reaper a fair distance away in the blink of an eye. 

     The Terrible Terror eyed his surroundings. He felt sure he had heard something snap nearby. Then, before he could make a sound something huge and black jumped from the shadows and engulfed him. He shrieked, but the sound was muffled. Unsure of what was happening, the little creature struggled, only to find himself spat out in a dark corner and staring up into a pair of big green eyes he could never forget. The Terrible Terror squealed with joy, completely giddy to finally see Toothless again. Toothless hummed, and the dragons began to jabber and gurgle back and forth. They had a lot of catching up to do. Hiccup smiled as he watched the tiny dragon gleefully running up and down Toothless arms, back, and stomach. Hiccup and Toothless had flown all the way to what Hiccup now called pseudo-Berk in order to find this little dragon. He was the perfect ally, but more than that he was a dear friend. After many spastic outbursts the Terrible Terror finally calmed down and listened as Hiccup instructed him on what to do. The Terrible Terror was surprised to say the least to see that Hiccup was older, but he still recognized his master’s brother. Hiccup strapped a small harness with a shrouding sphere to the Terror’s back, and then he began to take sheets of paper out of his gauntlet. “Listen carefully, I have a very important mission for you. We are going back to Link, but I need your help.” The Terrible Terror looked up attentively, trying to impress Toothless. “I need you to deliver these messages. You have snuck into practically every base on this planet, so I trust you can do it again. Take these to everyone we can trust.”

     And so the Terrible Terror set off on his own epic quest. He had a lot of delivering to do. So many people needed to be told what was about to come to pass. Gandalf, Thor, and Stitch were the first people Hiccup sent the tiny dragon to contact, but many more would be needed before the exodus of this world could be achieved. 


      Astrid sat quietly in the Haven of Light. Gobber and Stoick were in one of the farther rooms, sharing everything from stories of days long past to plans on how to defeat the Gemnodes and escape the world. Most of the planning was being done by Gobber, and most of it was completely ridiculous and utterly impossible. Takanuva walked up quietly behind Astrid, the mechanical joints of his legs sliding in perfect silence as he paced the floor. She looked up at him and tried to smile, and beneath his mask he tried to do the same. They were both worried. It had been over a month since Hiccup had disappeared, and anything could have happened to him.

     Then there was a loud rolling sound. The exterior door was opening. Astrid jumped to her feet. She and Takanuva exchanged one hope filled glance before sprinting towards the noise. They could here the flood chamber emptying, and then the round door in front of them finally opened to reveal the soaking wet Hiccup and Toothless. Hiccup was helmet-less, and Astrid stepped back in shock. The boy she had last seen had grown so much. She rushed up to him, and unlike the last time they had been together, Hiccup’s heart was free of fear. He knelt down and hugged her warmly as Toothless bounced around both of them in glee-filled excitement. “Oh I could kill you for leaving me to worry.” Astrid nearly sobbed in relief. Many explanations would need to be given, but for now it was enough to just be together again. Takanuva stood and stared, shaking his head in joy filled unbelief. Hiccup had left a boy filled with memories of trauma, and he had returned a young man with a plan to save all worlds.


     Steve Rogers lay awake in his bed. Things had changed in America ever since the war with Berk, and he didn’t like it. The President was acting differently, and so was Stark. Rogers knew that he and Stark were very different people with different personalities and tastes, but the things Stark was doing now just seemed wrong. As many flaws as Stark had, Rogers felt sure that Tony Stark would not have been alright with what was done with the Jaeger program. Steve had tried once to confront him over it, but Stark ignored the questions and cut off communication. Something was going on under the surface, something downright ugly, and Steve Rogers wanted more than anything to figure out what.

     Rogers rolled over on his side, staring at the wall with his back to the window. The President had given him special quarters near the Pentagon just in case there was ever another attack. Then there was a sound, clear as could be. Someone knocked on the window. Rogers turned to face the glass, surprised that anyone who could reach the thirtieth floor would be tapping on the window. He could not see anyone there, but then a hand came down and tapped on the window again. Rogers swiveled and placed his feet on the floor. He paced over the carpet to the window, unlatched it, and opened it up. 

     Down popped the head of Toothless, pupils round and ears sticking up. Captain Rogers stepped back, completely unsure what to make of situation. According to the news, Toothless had been part of a vicious attack on the capitol, but Rogers had always struggled to believe that this was true. Then, to make matters even more unbelievable, down came the helmet free head of the now older Hiccup. “Hey, Cap.” Hiccup smiled. “Can we talk?”

     “Uh… sure.” Rogers stepped back and gestured so as to invite the Berkians inside. Hiccup slipped in first. Then Toothless clambered awkwardly through the window frame, his back legs getting stuck when his foot slipped. Steve, as grave as he was, could not help but smirk as the Night Fury looked back in annoyance at the windowsill. Toothless huffed and squeezed the rest of himself into the now crowded room. 

     Captain Rogers got directly to the point. “You know the whole world is looking for you. You may be older, but you’re not that hard to recognize. Also, Toothless is considered a terrorist, and according to the higher ups I should be trying to take both of you out right now.”

     “And you are not doing that because…” Hiccup lead.

     “Because something is up. I don’t know why you are here, but I hope you’ve got some answers.”

     “I know what Astrid has told me. I know about the terrorist attacks and why they happened. Things are not what they seem, Cap.” 

     “What happened?” Steve stepped forward slightly.

     “Have you ever heard of Shadoo?” Hiccup asked, glancing around the room as if someone might be listening.


     “Not many people have. He is a creature of shadow trapped in a realm inside of the Dark Forrest called The Mirror. If anyone touches this Mirror, Shadoo gains temporary control of their bodies. Astrid, Toothless, Link, and Tabuu touched the Mirror. They did this to save me.” Hiccup paused. “I am sorry for what happened, but it was Shadoo who did these things.”

     “Wait, hold on a second…” Captain Roger’s expression changed dramatically. “Your friends, or at least their bodies, they abducted the President.” 

     “Yes…” Hiccup said, unsure of where the Captain’s line of thought was going. 

     “Don’t you see? When American forces found the President, he was by himself, wandering around the Dark Forrest.” Hiccup’s eyes widened as Rogers swiped his hand through the air for emphasis. “I’ll bet anything that that monster used your friends to touch the President to the Mirror. He’s been acting strange, and now I finally know why.” 

     The idea seemed likely. Shadoo could control someone’s body as long as their consciousness remained trapped in his Mirror. Escaping the Mirror was a task that even the greatest warriors struggled to do, so perhaps the President had been unable to.

     “Right.” Hiccup said, turning towards the window. “I’m going to the Mirror.”

     “Wait, I can’t let you do that.” Captain Rogers stated bluntly. Hiccup turned to look at him, and then Rogers continued. “At least I can’t let you go alone. If you are going to save the president, then I am coming with you.”

     Hiccup nodded, and Captain America quickly walked to the corner of his room. With a metallic swoosh he picked up his shield. “Just give me minute to suit up.”

     A few moments later, Toothless flew off the side of an American skyscraper. His sleek dark form cut through the night. It would take several hours to reach the dark forrest, but once Hiccup reached the Mirror, that would be when the real danger would begin.


     Captain America slammed his shield into the smooth stone. Something had gone terribly wrong. The wall that used to be the Mirror was now sealed shut. It was nothing more than a smooth grey surface. Hiccup had not known it was possible, but Shadoo had locked himself into his own realm, and there was no way in. Rogers stood panting. It had not been safe to come into the abysmal forrest, and they were no closer to freeing President Grant. Then Hiccup looked up. “I think I know how to get in.” 

     Rogers turned. “How.”

     “We need an invitation. An invitation from Shadoo.” Hiccup began walking away from the Mirror with Toothless trailing close behind him.

     “And how are we gonna get that?” Rogers asked, jogging up behind them.

     “By having a private chat with President Grant. Whether he wants us to or not.”


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