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RainyMeadows
Caitlin
Artist | Student | Varied
Australia
Caitlin / 19 / English / digital and traditional artist / Photoshop and pencils / writing

Talk cartoons to me. Or FMA. Whichever suits you best.

rainymeadows.tumblr.com - My Tumblr
rainymeadowsartyfarts.tumblr.c… - My art blog
askthenorthernladies.tumblr.co… - My OC RP blog
www.redbubble.com/people/rainy… - My Redbubble
www.fanfiction.net/u/4356032/R… - My Fanfiction.net page
www.wattpad.com/user/RainyMead… - My Wattpad page

Unless it's the armour kind, complete with plating over the top for extra protection or a really nice tabard, do NOT send me chain mail.
Interests
I told myself I was going to host another of these after the new year. Well, 2016 is upon us and I already figured out what the theme was going to be long ago:

Wayward Son

For those who don't know, Wayward Son is a pet project that I've been working on for far longer than is probably necessary. A multi-part series of Storm Hawks and Fullmetal Alchemist crossover, with elements from either world - and citizens - trickling into one-another and the consequences that come as a result.

Aside from being character focused, this will be a free-for-all. Maybe you could draw Edward Elric and his brother standing on the runway of the Condor. Maybe you could draw Aerrow performing a transmutation. Maybe you could draw Finn and Hawkeye having a shooting contest or Junko and Alex Louis Armstrong having a flexing contest. In terms of scenes from the fics themselves, there's plenty to choose from: Aerrow taking Ed out on his first open-air flight? Alphonse talking down the Sky Knight Council? Or maybe you could just have fun with it: how would Finn react to seeing Mustang flirting with Piper? I doubt it would be pleasant.

The closing date will be February 28th, which should give you plenty of time to figure out what you want to do and get it done.

The same rules from last time apply:
  • No NSFW, e.g. gore, nudity, all that stuff
  • No plagiarism
  • No romance
  • One entry per contestant
  • Please limit prize characters to humans/human passing (except in writing, of course)
Yes, prizes! First prize will be a fully digital full-body picture of whichever character you choose, a la

Hot Water by RainyMeadows

Second prize will be a fully digital bust picture of whichever character you choose, e.g.

Art trade - JackieWinters by RainyMeadows

Third prize, however, will be a ficlet of a premise of your choice. And if you're taking part in this contest, I can only assume you've read my stuff. And if you haven't and just want to take part in a contest or draw something cool, then I'm down with that.

Go for it and have fun!

Activity


Point Commission Prices by RainyMeadows
Point Commission Prices
I'm going to start taking point commissions and figured this would be an easy, comprehensive means of working how much a thing would cost. As of now, I'll only be taking commissions for human characters or, if they aren't human, they're human-looking enough to pass for one (since I'm not too good at non-humans).

I will do OCs, but I won't draw anything NSFW, which includes pornography and gore (though I'm okay with scars)

EXAMPLES:

Headshot/bust, shaded colour with background
fav.me/d9lzccm

Half body, shaded colour with background
fav.me/d9mesx9

Full body, flat colour, no background
fav.me/d9nzvg1

Full body, shaded colour, no background
fav.me/d9p8bgb

Please send me a message either here or on my Tumblr (URL is the same as my username) if you want to commission me!
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"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From glen to glen and down the mountainside..."

Neither slinger spoke a word as they laid the bodies in the little wooden boat, on the mounds of twigs and sticks that they had scavenged from around the island.

"The summer's gone and all the roses falling

'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide."

After covering the siblings with sheets woven by their Arachnets, they took hold of the sides of the boat and gently pushed it out onto the cold northern waters.

"But come ye back when summer's in the meadow

Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow..."

Together they stepped up, back onto the rocks, and watched as the four siblings were carried away from the island's shore.

"'Tis I'll be here in sunshine and in shadow

Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
"

As one, they slotted their respective Infurnus slugs into their respective blasters.

"But when ye come and all the flowers are dying

If I am dead, as dead I well may be...
"

And as one, they fired.

"Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying

And kneel and sing an ave there for me.
"

Slug Fu was unneeded. Both of the blazing creatures knew exactly where they had to go and what they had to do.

"And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me

And all my grave shall warmer sweeter be...
"

They breathed torrents of fire into the boat, setting its wood alight, and the burning vessel continued floating onward across the strait.

"For ye shall bend and tell me that you love me..."

Their job done, the two slugs curved around and flew back to their slingers.

"And I shall sleep in peace... until you come...

...to me.
"

Aside from the gentle babbling of the water around the rocky shore, there was absolute silence as the trio watched the burning boat shrinking into the distance. Junjie carefully sat down on the rocks for a more comfortable vantage point.

"Thank you, Lenny," Perry said. "That was beautiful."

"It's nothing," Lenny replied. "It just... it just felt right. I mean, I know half the words in that song don't even make sense, but it... it seemed appropriate."

"You think you could fire Flare? Let those blokes know we want out?"

"...sure."

Lenny picked her way off the rocks and made for the jetty as Perry sat down next to Junjie, taking care not to slip off.

"I hate not being able to save people," she said. "It's my job as McLinden to preserve the lives of people in the North, and when I can't..."

She didn't need to finish the sentence.

"It's never pleasant," Junjie confirmed.

The salty water lapped playfully at their toes. Junjie was tempted to jump in and try to wash himself clean - both of the thoughts of what had happened on this island and the hot, sticky reminder that had near-blackened his clothes - but he knew he probably wouldn't be able to resurface.

"And I can't help wondering," Perry continued, "how different their lives could've been if they weren't taken in by that Blakk scuggan. If they'd been taken care of properly by someone who actually had an ounce of humanity about them. They could've..."

She trailed off, seemingly unable to end her sentence.

"They could have been happy," Junjie finished for her.

Perry nodded.

Up on the jetty, as the slingers continued watching the little burning boat, Lenny fired the Phosphoro slug into the air, and Flare dazzled bright enough to be seen all the way from the mainland.

"So Junjie," Perry said, "what're you going to do now?"

His attention was caught by the use of his name, as opposed to 'JJ' or 'lad'. When he looked to her, she was still watching the distant floating pyre with a strange, almost dreamy glint in her eyes.

"You'll be wanting to go home, right?" she said. "That little group of yours; you want to go back to them, don't you?"

She turned and looked to him.

"But there's room at our place," she suggested. "You can use the spare room. It used to be me mam's, but it's been empty since she died. Lenny uses it if she stays the night, but that doesn't happen as much as it used to a few years back, and I don't want it just getting dusty and unused. If you ain't needed in the East no more, you could always stay and lend me a hand or two."

A smile crept across her lips.

"Not like it'll ever get boring round here," she pointed out.

"I've only known you for three days," Junjie said, "and you're offering to let me live with you?"

"It's as good a chance as any for us to get to know each other better, right?" said Perry. "Though I ain't the best cook in the world, so when we ain't getting take-aways, we'll probably be popping down to the Harpers and sharing Mama Cathleen's lovely cooking."

"I know how to cook," said Junjie, "though due to my inexperience with Western food, it's mostly meals from my homeland."

"That'll work!" Perry said optimistically. "So what do you say?"

Junjie wasn't sure how to respond.

He looked back out across the water, where the flickers of the floating pyre were shrinking even further into the distance and the lights of the approaching ferry began to pierce through the fog. His fingers ran over the stains of Porthos' blood that were drying on his chest and stomach.

"It's a kind offer," he said. "It's one of the most generous things any person has ever willingly suggested to me."

"But?" said Perry. "There's a 'but' isn't there?"

"Yes," Junjie replied. "Trust me, Perry. Under any other circumstance, it's likely I would accept without any kind of hesitation, but my life in the West is already one that I'm satisfied with. My residence with Eli Shane and his comrades may have had a rocky start, but I'm comfortable there. I'm accepted. I'm happy."

Standing at the end of the jetty, Lenny waved to the approaching ferry.

"And you ain't about to give that up to live with a lady you've only known for half a week," Perry said. "Aye. Aye, I understand. And I doubt what happened here was very encouraging, was it?"

Junjie smiled. He felt as though he had needed something to at least attempt to cheer him up, even if her comment had been a little distasteful.

Perry stood up and stretched her arms behind her head.

"Looks like our ride's here," she said. "At least let me go with you to the coast, 'kay? I'd do better knowing you made it that far in one piece."

"I'm fine with that," Junjie said, and he too rose to his feet.

O-o-O

The black sand still sparkled ever so faintly as the pair of mechas approached over the bank. They had made sure Lenny returned safely to her home - insisting that they didn't have time to stop for tea - after they had departed Highland Cavern and a majority of their journey since then had been made in silence, save for a few moments ago when Perry had requested a look at one of Junjie's slug canisters.

She stared at it, turning the glass this way and that, smiling faintly at Joo-Joo's confusion as he tried to keep his grip and stay inside.

"Don't think I'll ever get used to how this looks," she said, "with the blue and all. I'm way too used to having them white."

She passed it back to Junjie.

"Do you want these back?" he asked, and reached for the scarf and earmuffs he still wore.

"Nah, keep 'em," said Perry. "The colours never did wonders for me. On you, though..."

With a faint smile, Junjie tucked his scarf back into his collar.

"I won't forget this," Perry told him. "I won't forget you helping me. I don't even know if it'd be possible to thank you properly."

"It was no trouble," said Junjie. "Given the opportunity, I would gladly do it again."

This time, her smile was peaceful and calm.

"Good luck, Junjie," she said.

Junjie nodded.

"The same to you," he replied.

He galloped to the water's edge and transformed his mecha to jetski mode, and then he was cruising across the surface of the Cavern Sea and leaving the North far, far behind.

O-o-O

"So let me see if I've got this figured out," said Eli as he sat down on the couch. "There's not just the 99 Caverns that I and my family take care of, and there's not just Junjie's Eastern Caverns that he was the protector for. There's not just those two realms. There's five."

"Finally he gets it!" Trixie threw her arms up in the air.

"So you might think of ours as the 99 Caverns," Kord explained, "but to everyone else, we're just the West."

"And while Junjie presided over the East, the McLinden family is there for the North, you see?" Pronto said cheerfully.

"Yeah, yeah, I see," Eli said. "But how does it work for the other realms? Is it like here, where it's passed down through the generations?"

"It is for the North," Kord told him. "They've been at it for centuries and judging by the lady they got now, I don't think they'll be slowing down anytime soon."

"It makes me wish Junjie would tell us a little more about how his home worked," Trixie sighed. "Makes me wish we'd got to see more of that place that wasn't a warzone."

"I believe in the swelteringly hot Central realms, it is a case of Master and Apprentice," Pronto declared, "while the South follows a process of popular vote. Pronto has often considered travelling there and ensuring his election as their new guardian."

"You sure about that?" asked Kord. "From what I've heard, it can get pretty nuts down there. They serve pies in soup, for crying out loud."

"But the people are so friendly!" Pronto argued. "I have no doubt that there is more than enough room in the Caverns Down Under for Pronto the Magnificent!"

"Ignoring the prospect of Pronto achieving that level of fame and glory," Eli said, "what are the guardians they've got at that moment like? You guys knew about that McLinden woman, so surely you've got at least some clue."

His enquiry was met with a trio of shrugs.

"All I've heard about the South guy they've got at the moment is that he's super friendly," Trixie explained. "And that's literally it. I think the Slugnet there must be permanently on the fritz."

"And I've heard that the lady they've got in the Central caverns at the moment is crazy tall even by their standards," said Kord, and he seemed almost frightened by the prospect. "She'd be taller than Blakk. Probably even taller than I am!"

For a few seconds, Eli was stunned by the prospect.

"That," he said after a moment, "sounds terrifying."

"You think that sounds terrifying?" Pronto said angrily. "What about me?! I'm less than half the troll's height! This lady could probably squish me like a bug!"

"If she did," said Kord, "it would be a stink bug."

Eli couldn't avoid snickering at that remark, and neither could Trixie, while Kord smiled smugly and Pronto glowered at him in quiet rage.

There was a quiet knock at the front door. Nobody had noticed it opening.

"If this is a private conversation," the knocker said, "I would gladly come back later."

"Junjie!" Eli vaulted the couch to run over and wrap his friend in a hug so massive they almost fell over.

"Whoa!" Junjie had to stagger backwards to avoid toppling. "Be careful, Eli; you might trick me into thinking you missed me."

"I did miss you, idiot!" Eli said as he pushed himself out of the hug and the rest of the group crowded round enthusiastically.

"What happened?!" Trixie demanded. "You have to tell us everything!"

"Did you manage to stop Blakk's goons?" asked Kord. "What was the McLinden lady like? You gotta tell us how much ass she kicked!"

"And what in the world possessed you to wear THOSE earmuffs with THESE shoes?!" Pronto practically shouted.

"Wait a sec," said Eli, face falling as he properly looked the returnee over. "Whose blood is that and how the heck did you get covered in it?"

Junjie waited until they had all stopped talking, and pulled the earmuffs he still wore from his head.

"Would it be possible for us to sit down first?" he requested, feeling the exhaustion making itself evident in his voice.

O-o-O

"So she accompanied me to the beach where we first landed, and I departed," Junjie finished. "The Cavern Sea was a challenge, of course, but it didn't take me as long to find my way back here as I had feared it would."

"That doesn't surprise me in the least," Pronto scoffed. "For a quote-unquote hideout, this building is not what one would call inconspicuous."

"Sucks that you couldn't save those people," commented Kord. "Yeah, they worked for Blakk and all, but a life's a life, right?"

"Right," Junjie agreed.

"It was nice of you guys to give them a proper send-off," said Trixie. "I guess that lady wasn't a total delinquent after all."

"I can confirm that her heart is in the right place," Junjie said, "even if her actions are more than a little questionable."

"Yeah," said Eli, "and, uh..."

Junjie turned his attention to his student, who had worn a thoughtful expression for quite some time now.

"Be honest, Junjie," he said. "If it wasn't for me and the rest of us - if there was no Shane Gang - would you have taken her up on that offer? Would you have stayed behind with her in the North?"

"No," Junjie replied, quicker than even he had expected. "Even if it weren't for the awful memories I now possess regarding Fogfall Island, the Northern Caverns are far too... far too cold for my liking. And besides, I think three and a half days with Perry McLinden is about as much as I could handle."

He stood up and stretched his back.

"If it's fine with all of you, I would like to take a shower," he said. "It isn't exactly fun being covered in another person's blood for several hours."

"Fair enough," said Eli, and he got up too. "I'll see if there's any of my dad's old clothes you can borrow."

"We are definitely going to have to launder that equipment of yours," said Pronto. "I have never kept up with the bizarre and often laughable fashions of the modern day, but I doubt bloodstains will ever be current or hip."

As conversation resumed, Junjie took to the bathroom and for perhaps the first time in days, he was able to see himself in the mirror.

Almost his entire midsection - from his chest to his hips, and his lower arms - was covered in blood. There were even smears of it on his face, and he saw that his eyes looked reddened and hollow. No wonder Perry had offered him the chance to stay with her; he looked exhausted.

He reached up and removed his pauldrons, which fell to the floor with heavy clunks slightly mufled by his fur, and pulled his feet out of his boots where they immediately began to chill on the cold floor. He removed his gauntlets and rested them down, not wanting to damage his blasters, and then looked at himself in the mirror again.

He could never get over how much smaller he looked without his armaments. It was true that he had more than a fair amount of muscle, but he still felt a little vulnerable without that kind of external protection.

With his cleaner hand, he rubbed his eye, and allowed himself a deep sigh of relief.

He was home now. Home and safe.

He was going to be fine.

There was a knock on the door.

"You decent, Junjie?" asked Eli.

"Yes," Junjie replied, thankful that he had taken his time.

The door swung open and Eli appeared, holding a couple of neatly-folded garments.

"Whoa," he said upon catching sight of his older friend. "Dude, I am not used to seeing you without that armour of yours. You almost look kinda weird."

"Thank you," Junjie said dryly.

"Anyway, uh, here." Eli presented him with the clothes. "I found these in my dad's closet. They should keep you good 'til we can clean up your stuff."

"Are you totally sure you want me wearing your father's clothing?" asked Junjie.

Eli shrugged.

"Not like he's around to wear it," he commented.

And with that, he left.

Junjie couldn't avoid feeling pangs of worry for the boy as he took off the rest of his bloodstained clothes and pulled his hair from its clip. Sooner or later, if he hadn't already, it was likely Eli would have to face a situation not unlike one the Eastern man had experienced that morning. Given his profession - his position as protector of the 99 Caverns - it was inevitable, or at least worryingly likely.

Hopefully he wouldn't have to go through something like that until he was at least Perry's age.

Perry...

She had made it to her home safely. Junjie told himself that as he finished undressing and stepped into the shower. A woman like her was more than capable of finding her way from that beach to her home. He didn't have anything to worry about.

Aside from the potential psychological effects of watching 3 people die and not being able to prevent it.

But that was something he'd have to deal with himself, and considering how she was now half a world away, it wasn't like he'd be able to talk to her about it.

He put all those thoughts aside as he turned on the shower and hot water poured down onto his body, soaking his skin and saturating his hair and cleaning away all traces of blood that had still been clinging to his body. He pulled his fingers through his hair, making sure every last lock of black strands was well and truly sodden, and rubbed his face as hard as he dared.

It seemed like forever that he had felt so clean. All the memories of Fogfall Island and the days preceding it faded into the background as the heat and steam unlocked the tension that had built in his bones and muscles, making him feel more relaxed than he had in months.

He didn't even bother to use soap. Just standing here under the hot water had him feeling as though he had been resurrected.

Were it not for the threat of using up all the hot water, he could happily have stood there for the rest of the evening, but he only allowed himself a couple of minutes of showering before he switched the water off and reluctantly stepped out and started drying himself with a towel.

He noticed himself in the mirror again, and took a moment to examine his marred skin.

There were more scars covering his body than he would ever dare to count. Burns, animal scratches, stab wounds, punctures where broken bones had cut through his skin; you name it, he had it. Many were more faded than others, but still gave him a nasty ache every now and again, though he hadn't seemed to have noticed it over the past few days. It was amazing the kind of distraction a mission could bring.

It was remarkable how scar-free Perry had been, save for her right hand.

Hopefully Eli could be as lucky, whatever the future brought.

Once he considered himself dry enough, he pulled on the clothes Eli had supplied: a plain dark blue vest and black slacks that fitted him better than he had expected. He all but forgot about the clothes and equipment he had removed and emerged, staggering a little, from the bathroom.

He ignored the discussion that was going on - a debate over what should be ordered for dinner - found his way to the nearby hammock and was asleep within seconds of collapsing upon it.

O-o-O

When he awoke, he wasn't on the hammock anymore. Somebody had moved him from there to his bed, and even been considerate enough to cover him with the sheets.

He could see Joo-Joo sleeping soundly beside his pillow, and smiled and gave him an affectionate rub on the head.

Feeling more well-rested than he had in weeks, Junjie sat up and swung his legs off the bed, and quickly prevented himself from falling over in dizziness as his blood started moving again. He stood up and stretched, listening as his bones clicked into place, and left his room even though he still felt a little bleary.

"Hey."

And was rather surprised to find Eli, up and awake, sitting on the couch rubbing over Junjie's slug canisters with a cloth.

"Eli," said Junjie. "You're up early."

"Yeah, I know," Eli responded. "Got woken up by a nightmare at about 6 and I knew I didn't want to go back to sleep if it meant running the risk of more of that, so I figured I might make a bit of headway. You know you left all your stuff on the bathroom floor, right?"

"Oh," Junjie said as he remembered. "Sorry."

"Nah, don't worry about it," Eli said as Junjie made his way down to the couch. "You were totally worn out by the time you got back. I'm surprised you didn't drop down asleep the moment you got through the door!"

Junjie smiled as he made a beeline for the kitchen, wondering if there were any leftovers from last night that he could steal.

"Oh, hey, before I forget..."

He looked back to see Eli holding up a small, tightly folded wad of paper.

"I found this tucked into one of the tubes," he explained. "I don't know what it is but I figured you might want to look at it first."

Curious, Junjie took the paper and unfolded it, and was both surprised and confused to see a series of eight numbers written there in rough pen.

"Do you know what this might mean?" he asked, showing it to his friend.

Eli leaned over and examined it.

"If I didn't know any better," he said, smiling coyly, "I'd say it was a phone number. Made a friend while you were over there, did you?"

A phone number?

But how would that be...?

No, when Perry had asked to look at his tubes, she must've... but how did she get the paper? When did she write it down? When they had dropped off Lenny? That would make the most sense...

"Do we have a phone?" asked Junjie, feeling a little foolish for still not knowing for sure.

"Under the stairs," said Eli, and jabbed a thumb over his shoulder.

Junjie practically power-walked over to the indicated area and snatched up the receiver, and started pressing in the buttons.

"7..." he muttered as he did so, "6... 2... 4... 1... 8... 2... 3."

He held the receiver to his ear and waited.

He could hear the phone ringing.

Was anyone there to pick it up?

Then he heard a click.

"Aye?"

It was her.

"Is that you, Blue?" he asked, just to make sure.

"Crivens, you sure as smeg took your time!" Perry exclaimed. "I was beginning to think you'd crashed and drowned!"

"No, I made it safely home," Junjie clarified. "Eli is sitting right behind me."

He held out the receiver.

"Hello!" Eli called.

"You see?" Junjie said cheerfully once he'd brought the phone back to his ear.

"Well, obviously not, since this ain't a video call," Perry replied, "but it's good to know you made it back safe. Didn't have any trouble, did you?"

"Thankfully, no," said Junjie. "No cannon fire halting my progress this time and I think the blood covering my clothes put off any bandits who may have considered attacking me."

"I meant to apologise for that," said Perry. "I wouldn't have brought you with me to Fogfall Island if it meant you having to go through what you did."

"Don't beat yourself up about it," Junjie told her. "It was worth it to give you help. Besides, I've had worse."

"You what?!" cried Perry. "Crivens, I'll happily let me tea go cold if it means hearing what's worse!"

"I'd... I'd rather not," said Junjie. "Not right now. I only woke up a few minutes ago. Not to offend you by any means, but our mission over the past few days was exhausting."

"Aye, I know how you feel," said Perry. "Me socks are still drying from spray that got into 'em. Dead Man's Dardanelles was trying to follow me home."

Junjie smiled. All the things she could have mentioned and it was her socks.

"In any case," said Perry, "I'm betting you got a good welcome once you were home, right?"

He sat down and made himself comfortable against the wall.

"Well," he began, "when I got back..."
Cold Northern Waters epilogue: Oh Danny Boy
Story synopsis: A woman comes to the 99 Caverns in search of help. She receives it, but not from the person she had hoped for, and even then there's a good chance that both of them are now in way over their heads.

Chapter theme:
Oh Danny Boy
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(DEATH WARNING - This chapter will contain scenes of death and mild gore. Read at your own risk)

As they approached the intimidating building, Junjie caught sight of something shiny that Perry was fiddling with.

"Why do you have that?" he asked.

"While you were oh so fascinated by the graveyard otherwise known as Dead Man's Dardanelles," she said, "Lenny told me she wouldn't feel good knowing we were heading into this hellhole if I didn't have this with me."

She held up a pot that Junjie recognised as the Boon Doc salve which had healed his hands.

"And considering what happened the last couple of times we tried a thing like this," she continued, "I get the feeling we might need it."

The building seemed to grow even more looming and eerie as they approached, and Junjie could have sworn he heard a not-too-distant groaning.

"I have a feeling they won't want us walking in through the front door," he mentioned.

"Not to worry, JJ," said Perry. "It's a factory. There'll be plenty of entrances and exits for emergencies and maintenance. The trick is finding one that opens without letting the whole of Slugterra know where we are, because with how old this place is, I'm betting it'll squeak."

Junjie looked up at the monstrosity as they drew closer. He could see a thin, flimsy-looking set of steps zigzagging up one side, chimneys that towered above like massive snuffed-out cigarettes, surprisingly lush green vines reaching up the concrete and steel walls and the few visible windows were long since shattered and opaque with caked-on dirt.

"We'll check round the sides," said Perry. "There's bound to be a way in somewhere along here."

The building groaned again, unsettling in its volume, as the pair crept along the rusting steel walls. Despite its obvious disrepair, Junjie somehow got the feeling that this place wasn't going to collapse anytime soon. It seemed like it had definitely been built to last, as opposed to the theatre and the power station, which would have had round-the-clock repairs and maintenance during their heyday. And there were certainly some parts that were obviously newer than others, so despite Perry and Lenny's explanation of its liquidation, it was clear that someone had meant for the place to stay in business.

Perhaps, then, they really should have reconsidered their hiring practices and not made 12 years old the maximum age.

"Over there!" Perry suddenly whispered.

She grabbed his wrist and pulled him over rough rocks and sharp saplings to where a door labelled "Emergency Exit" stood out from the steel wall.

"This will be troublesome," he pointed out. "Doors like these are designed to open outward, so breaking it inward may be a challenge."

"Not to worry," said Perry, and she pulled up one of her canisters. "Fury will be able to handle it, won't you?"

The reddish Infurnus nodded confidently, and she slotted him into her blaster, took aim-

-and the door opened.

Both slingers stared in befuddlement at the teen who now stood there, staring at them both.

"You came," they said, their voice a mixture of resignation and relief.

Fury hopped out, taking a place on Perry's shoulder, and she holstered her blaster.

"Of course we did, ladsie," she said. "It's my job to make sure folks like your sisters don't get away with what they're doing."

"I knew you would," said d'Artagnan, and stood aside to allow them entrance. "I knew you'd come for us. I've been going around this whole place opening doors for you because I knew you'd want a way in."

"Your sisters will be angry that you've betrayed them," Junjie pointed out as they entered the building.

"Not as angry as our parents would be if they could see what we've done!" cried d'Artagnan. "If Mom and Dad knew the horrible things we've had to do and what we're still trying to do, they'd sell us all over again!"

"Sell you?!" Perry could barely contain her outrage.

"This isn't the time," Junjie said, and he tried to subtly press her back. "I assume there's a drill here trying to access dark water, correct?"

"It's true," said d'Artagnan. "But it hasn't actually dug anything up yet. Those ghouls you've seen Athos, Porthos and Aramis using? They're left over from when we worked for Dr Blakk. We haven't been able to ghoul any slugs since we got here. We just haven't found enough dark water. Or enough slugs to use it on."

"Thank crivens," Perry sighed.

"But they won't stop," d'Artagnan said. "I already told you they won't stop. Listen; Athos is on the main factory floor, Porthos is in the refinery and Aramis is standing guard near the front entrance. Please try to talk them down and tell them what they're doing is wrong!"

"We will," Junjie assured the frightened youth. "We'll find them and we'll put a stop to this whole operation."

"Thank you," d'Artagnan sighed. "I'm sure they'll thank you too once they realise what they were doing. I'll go and find Aramis and try to keep her distracted while you guys move in, is that okay?"

"That would be very helpful," Junjie replied as he recalled his and Perry's first encounter with the braided woman.

"Hang on a tick," Perry said.

Before d'Artagnan had a chance to run away, she presented them with the pot.

"This stuff was made for cuts and bruises, so I'm not sure how much help it'll be," she explained, "but it should at least take the edge off on your neck, okay? And don't worry about giving it back. We can always find a way to make more."

Still nervous, d'Artagnan accepted the pot.

"Thank you," they repeated.

And then they ran.

"Poor kid," muttered Perry. "Wish there was something else I could do for 'em."

"For now, we should focus on the sisters," said Junjie. "Do you have a plan?"

"Actually, this time, I do," Perry said, and Junjie couldn't avoid feeling a little annoyed by how surprised and proud she sounded. "If that bairn can keep the one by the door distracted, that just leaves the refinery and the main factory floor. If I head to the latter, will you be able to go to the former and talk the mad lass down?"

"Talk down?" Junjie was confused by the order. "You aren't interested in fighting anymore?"

"Not if they're sick and dying, no," said Perry, and she pointed at directory signs on the wall nearby. "Got a problem with that?"

"No," Junjie said. "You just caught me a little off-guard, that's all."

"Well, for criven's sake, get on-guard," said Perry. "Meet up with me here afterwards if you make it out alive, got it?"

"Got it," Junjie said with a nod.

The determination in his heart now feeling rather grim, Junjie followed the arrow labelled 'refinery' while Perry hurried in the other direction.

O-o-O

The walls were still groaning, but Junjie forced himself to ignore it. The building was old, sure, but if it was structurally unsound it would likely have collapsed by now, as he could feel the same vibrations in the floor as he had felt in the theatre and the power station.

He took a deep breath. The air was musty and smelled of iron and rust, and it chilled his nostrils to breathe, and he could have sworn that right on the edge was the faintest possible scent of rotten meat.

He tried to ignore it. It wasn't possible for it to exist. It was just his mind playing a trick on him.

Focus. Focus on the job. Focus on the goal. He had to focus.

So he did. He narrowed his mind and reached forward, and he noticed the presences of corrupted slugs in the room he was making his way to. A very small number of them. The woman he sought had a very small arsenal.

Behind him, something moaned.

Quick as a whip, he looked round.

There was nothing and nobody.

'It's in my head,' he told himself as turned back and kept walking. 'There's nothing there. It's all in my head.'

Steeling his resolve, he kept walking, and when he finally reached a large set of double doors labelled "Refinery" he pushed them open.

The ceiling reached so high that it was lost to darkness, thanks in part to the narrow streaks of daylight that streamed in and didn't even touch the ground. The massive vats that had once brimmed with molten metal towered overhead, long since emptied if not sitting with hardened residue in their corners and draughts whistling around their walls. Dust was drifting down from the ceiling and only barely magnifying the light from the boarded up, broken windows.

After a few more tentative steps forward, Junjie looked up. He could see a catwalk high above, suspended by cables and stretching over the abandoned vats, and when he focused, he could tell that up there was where the corrupted slugs were.

And over there, on the far side of the huge room, was a narrow spiral staircase.

If that woman was up there, she would definitely see him.

Nothing else for it.

He took a deep breath, forcing himself once again to ignore the scent of blood.

And he ran for it. He pressed forward as hard and fast as his legs would allow him and sprinted across the floor. Above him he heard a yell of alarm as the woman noticed him, but by then he was already at the staircase and climbing as quickly as he could.

"STOP WHERE YOU ARE!" the woman - Porthos - shouted.

Junjie didn't obey. With the state of the woman's arm, there wasn't any way she'd be able to fire very many slugs at a time, so he considered himself relatively safe.

About halfway up, he paused and looked up at the catwalk, where Porthos was struggling to reload her blaster with only one hand.

It didn't take him long to figure out what to do. He slotted his Thresher into a blaster and fired, and guided the rapidly spinning Megamorph through the air, slicing through the catwalk's floors and railings until the woman was left on an isolated stretch no more than three metres long, swinging slowly from side to side.

Knowing she was contained, Junjie ran up the rest of the stairs and jumped onto the secured end of the catwalk.

"You don't have anywhere else to run," he told her. "So let's talk."

"Talk?" Porthos didn't seem happy, to say the least. "What the hell do we have to talk about?!"

She fired. Junjie got a glance of something angry speeding towards him before he dodged aside and it slammed into the wall.

"You should know by now that Ms McLinden and I will be able to defeat you and your siblings," he told her. "So the least-"

"How do you know we're siblings?!" Porthos demanded. "Was it d'Artagnan? D'Artagnan told you, didn't they? They always were the weakest. I swear, if you hurt them-"

"We didn't," Junjie interjected. "All we did was talk to them. And they wanted us to talk to you too. They're very worried about you... Porthos? Is it alright if I call you that?"

At the mention of her name, the woman's anger seemed to ever-so-slightly subside.

"Listen, Porthos," he continued, taking a few steps forward onto the groaning catwalk. "D'Artagnan told us about how you've all been hurt by dark water. If you stop trying to continue Dr Blakk's work, or at least explain why you're doing it, we can try to help you. I'm sure it isn't too late for us to find some kind of cure for the Deep Caverns' effects on your bodies."

He continued moving towards her, even though he did not like how the cables seemed to be groaning.

"You should know what will happen if more ghouls are created," he told her. "Your actions have already made people sick and corrupted plants and the land they grow on. Ghouls were never supposed to exist and the presence of them and the dark water that creates them is hurting Slugterra. Is the destruction of this world really what you and your siblings want?"

He halted right where his slug had cut through the floor, and he offered his hand for the woman to take.

"Please," he said. "Allow us to help you. Whatever happened in the 99 Caverns, please don't allow it to continue here."

The severed catwalk continued to swing gently to and fro as he waited for her response.

Porthos' face creased into a scowl.

"Your precious 99 Caverns never did anything for us," she snarled, "and neither has the rest of this wretched world. So if we're going down, we're taking this hellhole with us!"

She raised her blaster again. At this range Junjie would have no chance of dodging in time.

Unfortunately, he didn't need to.

As Porthos' reddened, weeping finger tightened on her trigger, the cables supporting the section of walkway where she stood gave a final, almighty, heaving groan and snapped, and she fell forward with a yelp of shock.

Not even thinking, Junjie dived forward and caught her wrist, and only just managed to grab hold of the railing in time to avoid falling with her. The snapped off-catwalk dangled freely as Porthos' blaster toppled down and bounced twice on the ground far below before smashing to pieces.

Junjie could feel his teeth grinding and arms screaming with the effort of holding onto her weight. He could barely even breathe as he opened his eyes and saw her staring up at him in shock, seemingly amazed that somebody was honestly and unironically trying to save her life.

"Just hold on!" he gasped, forcing his feet back onto the walkway. "I can pull you up, just hold on!"

Porthos glanced from his desperate face to her arm, where the sleeve bore a growing patch of crimson.

"Please," she said, "tell Athos-"

She never got to finish.

The sound of ripping flesh was sickening as her withered, bleeding arm finally gave way, and while Junjie's body was relieved to no longer bear the stress of another person's weight, he could only watch in horror as Porthos fell, eyes wide and mouth gaping in a final silent scream.

Her body slammed into the ground with a stomach-churning crunch.

Seconds ticked past as Junjie hung there, clinging to the railing, looking down past the arm he still held at her crumpled, lifeless body.

His glove was wet with her blood.

Numb with shock, he pulled his body up onto the catwalk, then fired his Arachnet at the ceiling and held onto its silk. He couldn't tear his eyes away from Porthos, who lay motionless in a small pool of blood, as he was lowered down to the ground beside her corpse.

He'd failed.

He'd agreed to talk her down.

He'd promised it.

And now...

Now he'd failed.

She was dead.

She was dead.

She was.

Dead.

Her eyes were still wide and her mouth hanging open in confusion. She stared up at the ceiling, her eyes glassy and devoid of...

Everything.

And he still held her torn-off arm in his hand, leaking her blood all over his fingers.

Junjie couldn't breathe. He felt bile rising in his throat and quickly turned away, finally dropping the disembodied arm, and only managed to stagger a few steps before he fell to his knees and vomited onto the floor, clutching his stomach as it writhed painfully inside his body.

He coughed.

He felt disgusting.

Once the last foul-tasting dregs were gone, he wiped his mouth on the back of his glove.

He felt Joo-Joo leap onto his shoulder, and when he looked, the greying Infurnus was eyeing him with worry.

But Junjie couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't sound like an excuse.

He stood up, even though his legs barely seemed strong enough to hold his weight, and he forced himself to walk back to where Porthos lay, still staring emptily into nothingness.

"...I'm sorry..." was all he could mutter. "...I'm sorry... I'm so sorry..."

He kneeled beside her, reached forward with a trembling hand, and closed her eyes.

Had this been inevitable?

Had this woman been doomed from the start?

Had his promises been as empty as he had been trying to avoid?

He didn't know.

In any case...

He reached back and picked up the arm he had dropped, and rested it across her stomach.

Then he slipped his arms under her chest and knees and pulled her from the ground.

Forcing himself to ignore the blood now spreading across his clothes and struggling a little to support her weight, he carried her away from the refinery.

O-o-O

Her fists were clenched as she strode through the building, ignoring the deep groaning from the walls that seemed to surround and follow her with every step she took.

The building was haunted. She knew that for sure. Every single person who had insisted that believers were just silly, imagining things or jumping at shadows hadn't actually come to this hellhole, and everybody who had come here left saying the same thing. That there was something WRONG with this island and the building that sat upon it like an incurable disease.

But right now Perry was far too pissed off to actually think about that, and much more focused on getting these bastards to stop what they were doing and leave her homelands.

Upon finally finding the appropriate door, she decided that simply opening it - or even kicking it in - was far too soft for the likes of them.

She loaded up Fury and fired him, and the Infurnus' flames plunged into the door, heating it until it glowed a vivid cherry red.

Then she loaded Dave and fired him too, and the Frostcrawler spat sub-zero blizzards onto the door, rapidly freezing the metal until it splintered and cracked.

And then she fired Graeme, who punched forward, smashed into the crystallized metal and shattered it into smithereens.

Hoping that had got her point across, she stepped over the threshold and onto the factory floor, her slugs leaping back up to join her as she strode.

"Oi, bitchface!" she shouted. "I know you're in here somewhere, d'Artagnan told us you'd be! So come on out where I can get a good look at your ugly mug!"

She could see the drill grumbling up ahead, in an empty space surrounded by conveyor belts and assorted constructional machinery from days long past, and her fists clenched even tighter as she walked briskly over to where it was attacking the ground.

Along the way, an idea occurred to her, and she picked up a long exhaust pipe that had long since been left to rot and was now coated in a thick layer of reddish-brown rust that had made it almost as hard and heavy as a rock.

"Fine then," she decided, making sure her voice was as loud as possible. "If you ain't here to stop me-"

And that was when she was quite rudely cut off by blaster fire and a ghoul came rushing at her, screaming a high-pitched yowl of rage and hatred. Rather than standing there like a thick moron and letting herself get hit, she raised the pipe and whacked it aside, and it careened away and slammed into the wall.

"If you even think about damaging that drill-"

"Too late!" Perry shouted at the approaching woman - Athos was her name, right? - who still held her blaster aloft. "I'm already thinking about it! And you know what else I'm thinking?"

She brandished the rusty pipe again, the familiar heat of anger and power burning her face like a wildfire.

"I'm thinking if you try to slug me again," she said, "then I'll whack whatever shot you make straight into this thing and let you be the one to bring it down. Sound good? Or are you going to put that bloody blaster down?"

"As if I'd yield to you!" Athos scoffed, and she fired again.

Perry whacked the ghoul to her other side and it smashed into the side of the drill, which emitted a worrying low-pitched whining noise as a result. Athos glared at it in annoyance, then looked back at the woman who had caused it.

"What, you thought I was joshing you, did you?" Perry demanded. "Your next shot'll go right back in your face!"

Athos still didn't lower her blaster.

"Look, lass," said Perry, trying against her own will to calm down and lowering her improvised weapon as evidence. "You know this ain't ever going to end well for you. Stop now and you'll only have the rest of Slugterra hating you forever. Keep fighting me and you'll be beaten black and blue and you'll have the rest of Slugterra hating you forever."

"So what?!" said Athos. "He was one of the most hated men ever to live, but people were still afraid to speak his name!"

She fired again, and Perry knew all too well that she probably wouldn't be able to redirect it if she wasn't ready to, so she dodged aside with a quick spin on her toes and used her momentum to strengthen her arm as she threw the pipe in Athos' direction. When the brunette simply kicked it aside out of the air, Perry sighed in exasperation, slotted Brian into her own blaster and fired. The Arachnet spun a web which barreled into the scarred woman's chest and pinned her to the floor.

"And who would he be then?" asked Perry. "You're acting like I actually have a clue what you're going on about!"

"He took care of us!" Athos screamed as she struggled to get free. "He took us in when nobody else would! And all we had to do was a little manual labour! It's more than our parents ever offered us!"

As she shouted, Perry found the rusted pipe.

"People like you are the reason he's gone!" Athos continued as the Highlander walked back over to the drill. "People like you are the reason my siblings and I had to come here in the first place! People like you are the reason we had NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!"

"And what the bloody hell do you mean by that?!" Perry demanded, pausing in her approach. "What, you think you owed him, do you? Whoever this shithead was that inspired you to do this, you think you owe him some kind of favour?!"

"HE PRACTICALLY RAISED US!" Athos screamed. "HE GAVE US FOOD! HE GAVE US CLOTHES! HE GAVE US A ROOF TO SLEEP UNDER! AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON HE'S GONE! PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON WE'RE HOMELESS! PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON HE ISN'T HERE TO STOP US FROM DYING!!"

Perry had had enough.

She dropped the pipe, ignoring how it thudded on the cold concrete floor, and felt herself once again empowered by white-hot coals of rage burning in her body as she walked over to where Athos lay pinned to the floor, struggling uselessly against the sticky silk that bound her there.

Funnily enough, she stopped quite abruptly when she saw the blaster being aimed in her face, plus the angry little Infurnus that was scowling at her inside its barrel.

"How old were you when this bloke took you in?" asked Perry.

Athos seemed speechless.

"How old?" Perry prompted, forcing herself with all her might not to shout.

She tightened her finger on the trigger as a warning.

"Fourteen, okay?" Athos told her. "I was fourteen. Porthos was twelve, Aramis was eleven and d'Artagnan was only seven."

"And is this bloke, whoever he is, the reason you're dying?" asked Perry. "Mind telling me why?"

"I already said we worked for him!" Athos snapped. "We were old enough! All we had to do was pack up dark water and move it from place to place!"

"And in repayment, he treated you like human beings?" asked Perry.

"Yes!" cried Athos.

"So what the fuck do you owe him?"

After her question, Perry waited.

She shifted her finger off the trigger. After all, she didn't want to kill this woman.

But as seconds ticked by with no sound other than the rumbling and whining of the drill, Athos didn't reply.

"You don't know, do you?" asked Perry. "It's his work your trying to continue, isn't it? And you don't even know why?"

"Of course I know why!" Athos replied. "If we don't nobody else will!"

"Probably because nobody else wants to!" Perry pointed out, forcibly restraining herself from firing. "Drilling into the depths of hell for some magic bullshit that turns slugs evil, damages the land and makes people sick? Who the fuck in their right minds would WANT that?!"

The hatred she felt at this moment was almost indescribable. The fact that anybody could have raised children in such a way that they would be dedicated to destruction at the cost of their own lives...

...it was something she could barely even think about. It just pissed her off too much.

"Your name's Athos, right?" she asked.

Athos nodded.

"I'm going to stop that machine, Athos," Perry told her. "I'm going to wedge that pipe into its gears and I'm going to bring the whole thing down. And you're going to lie there and watch me."

She turned away, anger once again fueling her steps, picked up the pipe and wrenched open an access panel in the side of the drill.

And was extremely annoyed to discover a strong presence of wiring and electrical boards and a distinct lack of gears, cogs or anything else she tended to associate with heavy machinery.

Nearby, Athos chuckled, her voice rasping and rough.

"You didn't honestly think a Blakk Industries machine would have such low tech, did you?" she asked. "By now it's on automatic. Even I wouldn't be able to turn it off! You'd need a pretty damn powerful bomb to disable it!"

A powerful bomb, eh?

Good. This had almost been boring and anticlimactic.

"Steve!" she said, and took out her Fandango. "Go find us an old mecha core. This place used to build 'em, so there should still be a few lying about."

She slotted him into her blaster and fired, and the pale Velocimorph sped away in search of the required part.

Perry took a few steps back, away from the drill until she was a safe distance, and pulled up Graeme again.

"I know you've been working a hell of a lot lately, Gray," she said, "especially for a newbie, but after this you can have a good long nap, okay? For now, I need you to make a nice deep dent in this son of a scuggan."

The one-legged Rammstone smiled and saluted, and Perry loaded him into her blaster and fired him at the machine. After hitting velocity, his fist plunged deep into the metal, which folded like paper under his rock-hard fist.

"What're you doing?" Athos demanded.

When Perry looked, she saw that the scarred woman had almost freed herself from Brian's web.

"Putting you out of business, what does it look like?" she said. "Ready to go, Mike? Make sure she's good and cozy."

The one-eyed Bubbaleone saluted and leaped into her blaster, and she fired him straight at Athos as she brushed off the last of the silk. The look on her face as she suddenly found herself encased in a bouncy pink prison was nothing short of priceless.

As Perry stood admiring her handiwork, Steve made his return. He came cruising in carrying a single still-glowing globe and dropped it into her hand.

"Nice work!" Perry made sure to give him the praise he'd earned as he landed on her shoulder in his protoform. "Looks like this one weren't used! 'Course, it'll probably be a bit unstable by now, so..."

As hard as her arms could manage, she shoved the core into the dent Graeme had made for her.

"Stop!" Athos shouted, her voice echoing off the walls of Mike's insides as Perry took cover behind a conveyor belt. "Stop it now! You're ruining EVERYTHING!"

"No," said Perry, and she loaded Greg into her blaster. "I'm saving everything."

She took careful aim at the half-hidden glow and fired, then ducked behind the conveyor and clutched her hands over her head.

Even so, the resulting blast was strong enough to rock the ground she lay on and dislodge several abandoned parts to fall on her in a few rather painful places. She was glad she had her eyes closed tightly, because if she'd been dumb enough to try to watch the explosion, it was likely she would have been blinded. She could tell by the red glow behind her eyelids and the rush of hot wind that swept over her body.

Only after the deafening blast had dissipated and the light had faded did she dare to look back at her handiwork.

From where she knelt behind the conveyor belt, she could see Athos, still safely encased in Mike, staring at the shattered, charred remains of her machine, which crackled with small flickers of fire in an odd shade of green.

Perry stood up and dusted herself off.

Job done.

"Okay, Mike!" she called. "You can let her go now!"

Obedient and happy, the Bubbaleone returned to his protoform and the scarred brunette thumped to the floor.

"So then," Perry said as her faithful slug hopped back to her. "No more drills and no more ways to make 'em. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you and yours have to live for yourselves now, rather than trying to avenge some bloke without even knowing why you're doing it. Don't you agree?"

She watched as Athos got to her unsteady feet.

"But I'm afraid you'll have to do that outside me North," Perry helpfully informed her. "I don't think anybody in these caverns will be happy to see you once I let 'em all know what you were doing. The folks in Firewall in particular might not be very pleased what with how many of 'em got sick thanks to you."

Athos didn't respond.

She reached up to her side - to the clasps which held a thick-looking reddish-black plate over her torso - and with two snaps, it was loose, and clanged loudly onto the ground.

Without it, she was worryingly skinny.

"What's the point?" she asked.

Something in Perry's mind told her she should ask her what she was doing, or at least move a little closer, but all she could do was stand in paralysed confusion and watch as the unarmed woman walked over to the burning wreckage of her machine.

"We don't have anything left," she explained. "This was our last chance. To go down strong and take the rest of this world with us. What else do we have without that?"

Perry felt a thrill of horror rush through her body as Athos picked up a sharp, jagged shard of metal.

"At least I'll know for sure you didn't get us!" she said, smiling at the Highland woman with teeth lined with blood.

"No, DON'T-" Perry shouted uselessly.

She had no chance to stop Athos as she plunged the shard into the softened, weak flesh of her chest, choking and smiling as it pierced her heart, and then she collapsed by the side of her beloved drill.

Perry stared in shock at the growing pool of blood.

Somehow, even though her feet suddenly seemed to weigh a thousand tonnes, she walked around the immobile conveyor and approached the now-lifeless Athos.

Of course she wasn't moving. Or breathing. It would have been stupid to expect otherwise. With her eyes closed and a gentle smile still locked in place on her face, she almost looked as though she could be sleeping.

But the truth was that she was gone.

Gone for good.

Her body had already stopped bleeding.

Fingers feeling numb, Perry took Keith off her belt.

"You think you could clean her up a little?" she asked.

The melanistic Aquabeek responded with a despondent nod and once his slinger had retreated to a safe distance, he was fired and squirted out a jet of water which washed the blood away from the lifeless Athos.

"Brian," Perry said, and loaded up her Arachnet, "we'll need some way of moving her."

She fired, and her loyal slug wove a thick sheet of webbing of the non-sticky variety which was large enough for an adult human to lay upon.

Still feeling numb, though a little relieved that at least she could manage this much, Perry pulled the sheet over to Athos' body and rolled her onto it.

"I'm sorry," she muttered. "I wish I could've done more for you."

Okay.

Time to stop thinking like that.

She didn't want to go there.

Not again.

She straightened up, rubbed her eyes of any intruding tears, took hold of the corners of the sheet and pulled the body of the scarred brunette along the floor to the exit.

O-o-O

"Ms McLinden!"

A pang of guilt shot through her heart as d'Artagnan came running down the corridor to her, their face written with worry.

"What happened?" they asked. "Did you talk to Athos? What did she..."

They trailed off when they caught sight of the look on Perry's face, and their gaze wandered to the sheet she dragged and the person who lay on it.

"Is..." they said weakly. "...is that..."

"I'm sorry," Perry told them as they approached their lifeless sister. "I thought if I just took the drill down, she'd find some other thing to do with her life."

D'Artagnan fell to their knees beside their sister's body.

"What did she do?" they cried. "Athos, what did you DO?!"

Their tears streamed fast and heavy and their sobs were wretched and near-silent.

"I promise I did talk to her," said Perry. "I made sure she wouldn't get hurt when I blew up the drill. I guess she just..."

D'Artagnan gulped. It sounded painful.

"You tried," they said. "You tried, right?"

Perry nodded.

But before she could offer any more words of comfort, she heard the sound of a blaster charging up to fire.

She and d'Artagnan looked up the corridor and saw Aramis standing there, glaring at them both in rage and aiming a ghoul right at Perry's face.

"Aramis, NO!" cried d'Artagnan.

They jumped up and ran towards their elder sister, holding up their hands to dissuade her, but Aramis didn't even flinch as she pulled the trigger and a Grimmstone blasted out and smached the teen in the chest. They were punched right in the chest with a stomach-churning crunch and fell painfully to the ground next to the Highland woman who held his sister.

Still holding the sheet bearing Athos, Perry couldn't bear the thought of just dropping her. Plus at this range, and still holding onto her, the odds of her successfully dodging were pretty damn low.

Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on perspective - she didn't need to.

A Slicksilver flew past the masked woman from behind, snatching her blaster clean out of her hand, and in her confusion she looked round just in time to see an extremely angry-looking man with slightly ragged earmuffs throwing a fist at her face. He hit her in the cheek hard enough to splinter the mask that covered her nose and mouth, and she fell to the floor struggling to breathe.

Perry stared in alarm at the man who had just saved her.

He was staring down at Aramis, trying to catch his breath, his eyes wide and empty like he was looking right through her. Somehow almost his entire midsection and his arms up to the elbow were covered in drying blood, some of which was even smeared on his cheeks.

"JJ...?" Perry said hestitantly.

He looked up at her, still wearing a face of horror.

"Blue..." he muttered.

On the floor, Aramis choked.

"No," Junjie said suddenly, and he crouched down beside her. "No, come on, keep it together, no."

There wasn't anything he could do. After a few more coughs, choking splutters and weak, rasping breaths, Aramis fell silent and still.

"No..." Junjie whispered weakly. "...not you too..."

"JJ," Perry said, "whose blood is that?"

When Junjie looked up at her, his face was a mixture of terror and desperate apology.

If he'd managed to successfully talk down that other woman - Porthos - then surely she'd be with him...

Oh.

"You couldn't talk her out of it, could you?" she asked.

"The cables broke," Junjie said softly. "I tried to save her but her arm came off in my hand... she was bleeding so much..."

Beside Perry, there was a sudden cough.

She quickly lowered the sheet to the ground and knelt down beside d'Artagnan, and rolled them onto their back as Junjie hurried over to join her.

"Hey," she said gently, and carefully cradled their head. "Look at me, okay?"

D'Artagnan looked up at her, their brown eyes wide and fearful.

"...Ms McLinden..." they choked.

"You're going to be fine," Perry told them, brushing their hair out of their eyes. "Don't look down, don't look at the sides, just look at me."

As they struggled to breathe, Junjie pulled away their scarf away from their neck, revealing the spreading patch of blood that was staining their slim chest.

"Your sisters are right here," said Perry, trying to keep her eyes on their face. "They're not going anywhere. We ain't going anywhere either. We're right here, okay?"

"...M-Miss..." d'Artagnan struggled to speak.

"Don't try to talk, love," Perry told them. "Just breathe."

Trying their best to obey, d'Artagnan reached into their pocket and pulled out the pot of Boon Doc salve.

"...thank you..." they sighed, and Junjie gently took hold of their hand. "...it doesn't hurt so much anymore... thank you..."

They blinked once, slowly, as though straining from the effort.

And then, with one final coarse and rasping breath, the slow rise and fall of their chest came to an end.

Resigned, Junjie rested their hand across their body, and Perry softly closed their lifeless eyes for the final time.
Cold Northern Waters chapter 11: I Want It All
Story synopsis: A woman comes to the 99 Caverns in search of help. She receives it, but not from the person she had hoped for, and even then there's a good chance that both of them are now in way over their heads.

Chapter theme:
I Want It All by Queen
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AMBE 4 by RainyMeadows
AMBE 4
The fourth member, Eli Shane. I changed the shade of blue in his trousers and gear because the hue I had previously seemed rather gaudy.
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AMBE 3 by RainyMeadows
AMBE 3
The third member of team AMBE, Ezra Bridger. I still enjoy him having the freckles he should have had if he’d grown up on the savannah-like planet of Lothal.
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AMBE 2 by RainyMeadows
AMBE 2
The second member of Team AMBE, Aerrow Martin. I’ve seen some people saying they ship Aerrow with Ruby Rose, so this would make it a little easier, right?
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:iconsiwyszczur:
SiwySzczur Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016
Nice gallery:)
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:iconrainymeadows:
RainyMeadows Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016  Student General Artist
Thanks. It's interesting going through and seeing the evolution of my styles and stuff.
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:iconsiwyszczur:
SiwySzczur Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016
No problem, I like good art:) I invite you to my gallery:)If you like my work, watch me :)
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:iconisadamu:
Isadamu Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Reply
:iconrainymeadows:
RainyMeadows Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2015  Student General Artist
...is there an English language version?

also, tv-headache doesn't like being tagged in journal memes.
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:iconisadamu:
Isadamu Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ooops...Omygosh im sorry...O_O I didnt know...

If you need traduction. I can Traduce Here: 

1. How do you think should be the course of the fanfic be? Should It end the good way or bad way? Do Eli and his friends ((Sunami, Karina, Gabe, Andi, Perry, Cat) Triumph? Or should Blakk and his team (Twist, Nacho, Goon) Triumph?

2. Who are your OTPS Of the fanfic?

3. Ok. How would you react to this image of Eli?
isadamu.deviantart.com/art/Pri…

4. What tipes of scenes do you think there should be? Ej. Comedy, action, suspense. And what happens in each of them?

5. Obvious question. Twist seems good or bad in the fanfic?

6. Why do you think Goon is in the fanfic? What do you think happens to him?

7. How do Eli and his friends escape? If they dont, what happens to them? And what does Blakk decide to do with them?

8. Eli and Twist become Friends or teammates? if not, What happens within them?

9. I dont know why in the earth i am going to ask this but *Sights* Why does Gabe steal Elis headband?

10. What is Elis Age in the fanfic? Hes older thats the clue!

11. Dont worry youre almost Done! Do you prefer the Heroes or the villains of the story?

12. Ok this may sound STUPID but, What happens in the first chapter of the fanfic?
If you havent read it: isadamu.deviantart.com/art/Pri…

13. Last question! Can you draw a mini Goon telling you youre done? XD
Reply
:iconrainymeadows:
RainyMeadows Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2015  Student General Artist
So this is, like, a journal meme for Slugterra fanfics? Is there an English version of the original?
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(1 Reply)
:iconisadamu:
Isadamu Featured By Owner Edited Dec 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you need traduction. I can Traduce Here: 

1. How do you think should be the course of the fanfic be? Should It end the good way or bad way? Do Eli and his friends ((Sunami, Karina, Gabe, Andi, Perry, Cat) Triumph? Or should Blakk and his team (Twist, Nacho, Goon) Triumph?

2. Who are your OTPS Of the fanfic?

3. Ok. How would you react to this image of Eli?
isadamu.deviantart.com/art/Pri…

4. What tipes of scenes do you think there should be? Ej. Comedy, action, suspense. And what happens in each of them?

5. Obvious question. Twist seems good or bad in the fanfic?

6. Why do you think Goon is in the fanfic? What do you think happens to him?

7. How do Eli and his friends escape? If they dont, what happens to them? And what does Blakk decide to do with them?

8. Eli and Twist become Friends or teammates? if not, What happens within them?

9. I dont know why in the earth i am going to ask this but *Sights* Why does Gabe steal Elis headband?

10. What is Elis Age in the fanfic? Hes older thats the clue!

11. Dont worry youre almost Done! Do you prefer the Heroes or the villains of the story?

12. Ok this may sound STUPID but, What happens in the first chapter of the fanfic?
If you havent read it: isadamu.deviantart.com/art/Pri…

13. Last question! Can you draw a mini Goon telling you youre done? XD
Reply
:iconisadamu:
Isadamu Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
isadamu.deviantart.com/art/Pri…

First Chapter Of The Fanfic Is Out!
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:iconrainymeadows:
RainyMeadows Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2015  Student General Artist
Good to know!

Also, a point: it would make sense if Perry didn't fully understand why she was arrested. Running down the street with your top off, screaming and totally drunk, would certainly be viewed as criminal activity or disturbing the peace in the 99 Caverns, but in her native North it's just Saturday.
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