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Chapter 33-Taking WingEdit

An Hour Later, RefugiuEdit

The Vampiri of Refugiu wasted no time when Omen ordered transport for a small army the minute her foot hit the dock. They nearly stampeded each other rushing to prepare. Aang blinked as the crowd of Vampiri assembled to greet them disappeared with such speed that he could barely see them go. He looked at Omen out the corner of his eye as he shouldered his scythe, "Wow." She looked ahead so as not to paralyze him, "They know who's in charge," she said with a smile.

She looked over her shoulder at the Beinstyrke, "Prepare to move quickly. If any of you are afraid of heights, get over it. We'll be in Etake Vale before noon." Everyone except Tonis and Mundo Churaian stared. The Churaians laughed, war whooped and slapped each other high-fives as they ran to rouse Chuckles and prepare to depart. "Etake Vale by noon?" Katrina asked, "How?" Suddenly she and Aang tensed as a sound like a distant thunder clap echoed through the city, prompting Ochi and Fidi to hide in Katrina's gi rather than upon their usual perch on her shoulder and Appa to snarl as he sensed something huge waking in the city.

Omen smiled, only Vampiri and Spirit Callers would've been able to hear the distant unfurling of wings. Then as a dozen more sets of wings opened, she pointed to the air over the wings freshly unfurled as a massive shape as wide as the Albatross was long erupted into the sky over the city, "Mammothines."

Sokka nearly fell off the gangplank in shock, "Mammothines?! I thought those were extinct!" Omen smiled, "Maybe in the south. In the north though," A huge form well deserving the title "Mammothine" slammed into the ground in front of them, its blood red fur bristling at being woken in the day and its nose and ears twitching furiously as it sought to see with scent and sound while the blinders on its harness protected its fragile night eyes from the early morning sun. "Mammothine Devil Bats are anything but extinct," Omen continued smugly.

Even Appa, big as he was, looked ready to dive into the sea to escape the immense Devil Bat as it settled onto the ground, resting the claws at the corners of its wings upon the stone wharf. It hissed a warning and Omen raised a hand to it. She frowned at it and it immediately cringed and laid its head on the stone whimpering like a scolded puppy. Omen stepped forward and laid a hand on its massive wet nose, "Now you be good. We've got an important journey ahead of us and we need you to behave. Can you do that for me?"

The house sized Devil Bat snuffled her hand and snorted submissively, Omen smiled, "Good." The bat's rider hopped down, a furious red rash bubbling up all over his body. He saluted, wincing in pain, "My deepest apologies for his behavior your highness. Rip-Red is very high spirited." Omen smiled, "Don't worry about it. Sorry about the rash."

The rider winced again, "Not to worry your highness, my wife is high spirited as well. This isn't the first time I've had a rash like this." Omen smiled and snapped her fingers at him, forcing the swelling to recede, "Nevertheless, it was clumsy of me." The man drew a shuddering breath as the swelling receded completely and bowed, "Thank you your highness."

He straightened back up, "Will you be riding Rip-Red your highness? He seems to like you and my family would be deeply honored." Omen smiled, "I wish I could, but I will be riding with my fiancé on his chimera Appa." The rider nodded and bowed again with a smile, "Of course your highness, and congratulations to the happy couple."

Aang tilted his head as the rider went to adjust Rip-Red's harness, "Fiancé?" Omen turned a dangerous gaze on him, "If you even think of marrying anyone other than me, I'll kill you both. You said you love me, and even if you didn't, there can't be two sets of Imperials so you're either stuck with me or dead, because I'm not giving up the throne, and you couldn't take it from me if you wanted to." Her face had grown very red and she was standing on her toes so she could get right in Aang's face as she finished.

Katrina, Sokka, Dread-Eye and Chit-Sang had all backed up a little bit as her voice rose in volume, never to more than just above angry speaking voice, but all-out screaming couldn't have conveyed the anger in her voice any more effectively. Aang was leaned back slightly away from her, almost on his toes himself, a bewildered look on his face. Then he blinked and suddenly started laughing. Omen's face twitched with rage and turned beet red. Then Aang suddenly wrapped her in a hug and kissed her. She blinked and the color faded from her face in confusion as he hugged her tighter.

"I just hadn't thought about it Omen," Aang said quietly in her ear, "It just didn't seem real yet," He added with a smile. "What?" Omen asked impatiently, some of the irritation returning to her features. "I couldn't quite believe you were mine," Aang replied so softly nobody but Omen and Katrina could hear him, "You're so good I couldn't believe it was true, but it is, and nothing could make me happier." Omen snorted with laughter as a smile spread across her face, "You big dummy of course I'm real."

"I know," Aang replied with a smile, "I know."

Katrina looked at Sokka, Dread-Eye and Chit-Sang, "When did Aang get so smooth?" The three shrugged, completely dumbfounded but far less than by Aang's newfound capacity for saying the right thing than by Omen's tremendous capacity for rapid mood swings. Tonis and Mundo huffed past, laden with suitcases, their instruments slung across their backs. Chuckles moseyed along behind them, yawning and holding a pillow under one arm. He paused and looked at them blearily, "Shouldn't you guys be getting packed?"

The four blinked, and then, realizing he was correct hurried to get back to their cabins and pack.

Half An Hour LaterEdit

Aang helped Omen onto Appa's back and then climbed on behind her as the Mammothines took wing, twenty Beinstyrke on each of their backs and enough of their "special equipment" to fill the Albatross. Appa tensed slightly as Aang patted his back, "Yipyip." Then suddenly Appa erupted upward from the ground, it couldn't truly be called a jump; one instant he was on the ground, the next he was hanging in the air above even the rapidly climbing Mammothines.

The leader of the Mammothine Handlers signaled the massive beasts into formation and in mere moments the immense beasts had formed a ring around Appa and their wings beat in unison as they began the final leg of the journey to Etake Vale.

Three Hours Later, Halfway Between Refugiu and Etake ValeEdit

Omen started slightly as the Beinstyrke Agent appeared in the air next to them, effortlessly keeping pace with Appa, hanging in the air just as effortlessly. She and Aang wondered at him, then he pointed two fingers towards his eyes then he pointed them towards the south, turning his own gaze as if to say, "look". Omen and Aang looked and their breath caught as they saw the hundred meter high cloud of snow whipped up by the rapid passage of massive machines and smoke from War-Mech engines, "Is that them?" Omen asked in horror.

The Beinstyrke Agent pointed to himself and raised two fingers before pointing towards the Republic's Army, he then lifted a pocket watch from within his robes and pointed to it. Omen frowned then Aang translated, "He wants to take two squadrons of Beinstyrke and buy us some time. He's right, for them to have made it this far so soon, we won't make it in time to warn Etake Vale if those things aren't slowed down." He nodded at the Beinstyrke agent and saluted. Omen shakily saluted as well, she hadn't considered the possibility that they might not make it in time.

The Beinstyrke Agent snapped a salute back and then swooped over to one of the Mammothines. A few moments later, forty black clad figures peeled off the back of the immense Mammothine, carrying strange glinting things that Omen could only guess to be their "Special Equipment". They flew away so quickly that even Omen almost didn't see them go.

Nearly an hour later, the explosions started.

Next Time: The Black Lion's FangsEdit