Cobalt was running as fast as he could, with his rifle in hand. When he reached the road, he did not look, and quickly heard a loud horn as he started to cross. The crazy delivery driver in the brown truck nearly ran him over and shouted a loud swear word at him through the open door. Of course, when the driver saw the rifle, he sped up to get out of there. Cobalt flipped off the truck, and then ran into the woods, leaping down the embankment. He kept an eye to the trees, as well as the ground in front of him, with one intent in mind: get to Pudgy’s home.
The man saw the gray fluffy bunnies hopping in front of the underground home and were knocking on the door. The one turned, seeing the man running across the creek. “Pudgy open up, let them in!” Cobalt shouted, while pointing the rifle into the treetops. The shade was translucent, but had a dull shimmer, and it was moving quickly through the trees. When the bunnies saw Cobalt charging through the forest with the rifle, they started pounding on the door, which was quickly opened. As they shot inside the home, the little door slammed shut. Pudgy started peeking out of one of his little round windows.
The shade was staying just out of reach and seemed to be observing the forest. Every time Cobalt would sight it in his scope, the creature would skirt away to another tree. Pale yellow orbs glowed with a dull shimmer, and seemingly was more intent to watch from afar. Cobalt put the rifle down, aiming the barrel to the ground, “what are you doing?” The creature floated down to the ground, with its shroud tightly formed around its body. A female voice called out, with a dull echoing effect. “The Kaiser sends his regards, Cobalt.” The voice had a Russian accent, which took the man off guard, as everything seemingly pointed to Germany up to this point.
The man nodded, “I see, and is there a purpose to this meeting? Obviously, you wanted to get my attention.” The shade pointed to Pudgy’s home, “not you, but Pudgy. I will not give you the message.” Walking in front of the home, in the direction of the slender fingers, “I don’t trust you. If I call him out, you will attack.” The shade moved its hand through a tree, “I am not here, this is merely a projection.” Nodding, Cobalt called out, “Pudgy, get out here. The Shade wants to us.” Raising the rifle once more, the shade laughed quietly, but watched as the tiny set of doors opened and a timid hedgehog peeked outside. Pudgy scampered up to Cobalt and sat on the ground beside the man’s left boot. “Shade want to talk to Pudgy?”
The shade’s golden orbs blinked and started to inspect the hedgehog. While its motives could not be ascertained, both friends listened intently as it spoke. “The Kaiser sends his regards and invites you to join him within his lair. Be not late and arrive upon the Autumnal equinox.” Pudgy looked up at Cobalt, “what is an equinox?” The man nodded, “The first day of fall, it is usually 2 am.” The hedgehog nodded, “where is lair?” The shade giggled in a thick accent and said several unintelligible words in Russian. “The Kaiser’s dwelling, it lies within the copper mountain. He looks forward to your visit.” Pudgy wiggled his nose at the shade, “Why did you take Hecates’ Daughter?” The shade laughed again, “all will be explained when you arrive. Do not be tardy, little one., lest the Kaiser change his mind. She is safe for now, as long as you arrive by the Autumnal Equinox.”
The shade faded away, and quiet returned to the forest. Cobalt cursed, and looked around, but found no sign of the creature. “Pudgy this doesn’t make sense? Kaiser is German for king, yet this shade spoke with a Russian accent. The other shades you met, did not speak this way?” The man looked down and saw Pudgy shaking his head. Sighing, Cobalt nodded, “but we now know where the Kaiser is. There is a copper mine in the south western side of Mt. Rainier. I looked at the maps online Pudgy, and it is a heavily forested mountain area. There is no easy way to walk, and even if you could, it would take several days to get to the mountain where the copper mine is. We need an airplane, hmm…”
Pudgy tugged at Cobalt’s pant leg, “Sandra can help, she said if Pudgy ever needed help, Pudgy can ask.” Cobalt nodded, “Yes, that is true, and I have already contacted her. She is on board for another adventure, though I need to pay for fuel. It is going to cost about $1,100. I was not expecting to have to pay that much, but this is serious, so I will spend the money. But her plane cannot land where you need to go, so … I guess…I will need to build you a plane too.” The hedgehog bounced at his feet and scampered around happily. “Pudgy get to fly, yay!” While Cobalt wanted to laugh, he was on edge with the appearance and disappearance of the shade. 2 shades had been destroyed so far, with one injured, and one seemingly able to project herself. The Kaiser would be powerful, and if Pudgy were to cross him, who knows what might happen? “Pudgy, I need to order supplies.” The man said and started to walk quickly back through the forest. As the hedgehog watched his friend quickly walk off, the gray fluffy bunnies hopped out. The scary monster had left, and it was safe once more. They waved at their friend, and then hopped quickly away to run around and play in the tall plants along the creek.
In a short time, Cobalt had reached his home once again, and entered through the basement patio door. Opening his locked storage locker, he placed the rifle inside. Generally, he would unload it, but he was unsure when he would need it, so he left it loaded. Firing up his computer, he quickly found what he needed. There were various places online that had plans for model aircraft, on a variety of hobby places. He located a world war one biplane kit, which had a 5 feet wingspan on it. The pictures showed camera equipment inside, as well as a bombing hatch, which the user had rigged to shower birthday parties with candy. The engine was gasoline powered and could keep the plane aloft for 3 to 4 hours. Rubbing his chin, and checking a couple other reference materials he had, this plane would be a match for what they needed.
Checking the availability, the soonest the kit could be delivered would be in a month. There was one remaining, in a store only about an hour away. Quickly he called the shop and reached a tired but friendly older gentleman. Describing what he needed, the man checked, and it was still in the back. The item was a special order, that was never picked up and taking space. The store was open for another couple of hours, and he would hold the item. After hanging up the call, Cobalt checked his wallet for the credit card. The card rewards points were going to be good this quarter. Quickly ascending the steps, he turned the corner in the hallway, and exited his home through the front door. He hopped in his big red Jeep, and then backed out. He quickly sped off, in a race to get to the store.
Pudgy was just starting to scamper up past the thorn bush, when he saw the big red vehicle fly past the bushes on the road. Wiggling his nose, “boy, Cobalt is going fast, wonder where he is going?” Argente padded up beside him, and folded one of her ears down, “Pudgy, is it safe to be out? The bunnies told me about the monster.” The hedgehog nodded, “Miss Shade went away now, she was not really here. She was like a ghost. Cobalt just went away amazingly fast, hope he ok.” The fox nodded, “Most likely, he found something to help you. Pudgy, please, do not go.” The hedgehog looked up at her, “Pudgy have to save Angeliki.” The female fox stomped her foot, “what did she ever do for you? Why should you risk your life?” The hedgehog placed a paw on her leg and started to tell her about all the times Hecate’s daughter helped. The female fox calmed down, and afterwards started to feel a little bad for snapping like that. The woman seemed all right, and helpful after an initial scary moment.
As the two critters scampered through the forest back to the underground home, a woman dressed in a traditional Greek dress was standing there. She had long black hair, that hung around her shoulders. Her eyes were glowing blue, but had a kind look about them. Pudgy waved, “Hello Goddess Hecates, this is Pudgy friend Argente.” The silver fox wiggled her ears but was cautious. The woman clearly standing in front of them was seen, but she could not smell her. The Goddess nodded and motioned with her hand to Pudgy. Pudgy bounced, and soon felt his body being pulled up from the ground and he was quickly placed into her hand. As the hedgehog looked up at her face, the Goddess smiled. “Tell me what you have found out.” So, while Pudgy explained everything that had happened, Argente was polite and kept a watch over the woman. As Argente turned her head, she noticed an identical version of the woman with blonde hair standing several feet up the hill behind her, facing the opposite direction. Turning her head, the other way, she found another woman with white hair.
Argente raised her paw, “Who are the other women?” Pudgy looked around but felt his gaze snap back to the raven-haired Goddess. After several quiet moments, Hecates spoke clearly with a pained tone. “I see, so the false king has my daughter, in a mountain of copper. You will be heading there by the Autumnal equinox. But when then?” Pudgy bounced, “Pudgy save day! Talisman made shade go away, just like Goddess told Pudgy.” The hedgehog floated temporarily upwards, and then dropped back down into the Goddess’s hands, but this time the woman was with white hair. Wiggling his nose, “Pudgy confused, who are you?” The new Goddess smiled, “I watch the crossroads, and beginnings as well as endings. Thrice I be, but one Goddess am I.” The hedgehog wiggled his ears, “Oh ok. If the cookies are gone, you can blame the blonde haired one.” The silver fox watched as the blonde-haired Goddess turned and stuck her tongue out at Pudgy, before turning around to face her direction.
The hedgehog was gently petted by the Goddess, and she smiled at him warmly. “Please, free my daughter, and get her to safety. Do not engage the false king, run away. I do not know the extent of his power. I am not sure how he can prevent me from approaching the mountain. Whatever power he has, it must be of a dark nature. Heed my words, Pudgy Hedgehog.” The critter bounced and nodded in her hands, but soon was floating back down to site beside Argente on the ground. One by one, the Goddesses disappeared, and soon the forest was quiet once more. The silver fox hugged her friend, “Pudgy, I do not like this. But you must go, I don’t think I can help you.” The hedgehog looked up at his friend’s sad brown eyes. “Argente help Pudgy a lot, show Pudgy all she knew about the mountain. That will help.”
Argente watched as Pudgy scampered back to his home’s front door and motioned for her to follow. The fox had told him everything she remembered about Mt. Rainier, and when she lived there with her mother. The memories were painful but needed to be brought up to help her friend. As the fox padded inside, the hedgehog was already making tea. He was humming a little tune and was setting her mind at ease. The fox was worried still but was happy to spend the time she had with him. In time, talk of monsters subsided, and it was just two friends having tea and watching the late summer sun pass through the trees. As the shadows danced on the ground, Pudgy’s cell phone in the home made a bell noise. Cobalt has sent a picture, showing Pudgy he was home and the basement was full of parts. Argente peeked at the photo, then looked at Pudgy.
Cobalt had returned after a trip to the hobby store, the gas station, the grocery store, and the hardware store to buy supplies. His basement was full of bags and boxes, with a scattering of airplane parts everywhere. The model of plane he was able to locate was a biplane design and could be painted in either Axis or Allied colors. Painting would be of concern, and while it would be historically accurate for an allied format, that was not of primary concern. The instruction manual was about a hundred pages. After setting up the ice bucket, a couple of 2 liters of pop, and the coffee pot: the man started to set out the parts into little piles. The sun set, and with his basement lights on and the speakers blaring metal music, the man was hard at work on plane assembly. The equinox was in 4 days, and he had to have everything ready.
The music ceased, and the phone started to ring with a message: Sandra calling. Pressing the answer button, he put the call on video chat. “Hi Sandra, thank you for calling me back!” The brunette woman appeared on the video chat square and waved, looking at the swath of parts and tools everywhere. “Hi Cobalt, I see you are busy again. Does Pudgy need help?” The man nodded, “We have a big problem, and Hecates Daughter was kidnapped. Pudgy and I think we know where she is, but it’s located to the south west of Mt. Rainier in Washington state.” The woman smiled, “I can definitely fly him out Cobalt. Business has been good as of late, I now have a twin-engine Cessna. It has the range to get there in 2 trips, or about 12 hours. When do we need to leave?”
The man nodded, “Pudgy needs to get there by the first day of Fall, so can you leave Sunday? I was checking the airports, and it looks like there is an airport nearby to the mountain, called Packwood.” The woman nodded, “I have flown there once. It is an airport, but no real services available. It is mainly used by personal craft, and tours to the mountain. There is a much nicer airport, but it is farther out. Cobalt, I can fly him there, but it will be expensive. Can you guys afford $1,100?” The man nodded, “Ouch, that is crazy, but I know gas costs a lot. Yes, I can go to the bank tomorrow, and withdraw the funds. Do you want pennies?” The woman laughed, “no coins, paper bills please. Ok, I will tell Raymond to prep for flight to Latrobe. Arrival Sunday morning, and departure Sunday afternoon.” Cobalt nodded, “Where is the halfway refuel point?” Raymond called out from the background, “Aberdeen South Dakota. You have to buy us lunch, in addition to the fuel cost.” Sandra laughed, and the call ended with Cobalt laughing and nodding.
Working through the night, Cobalt built the airplane. It was as the first light of dawn crested over the hill, that Pudgy started to peek inside of the glass patio doors. Cobalt waved from inside and motioned for Pudgy to come inside. As the little hedgehog opened the small door that he used to enter, he saw the assembled biplane sitting on the beige carpeted basement floor. As the hedgehog scampered up to the plane, he started to wave and point excitedly. The smell of glue was overpowering, only masked by the smell of strong coffee. Cobalt had broken out the Cuban coffee, from the yellow can. He had been up for close to 18 hours, and it was clear he was starting to drag. The hedgehog could not wait, and excitedly climbed up and sat into the pilot’s seat. Like the rocket, it was deceptively empty inside. The man laughed and showed Pudgy where certain things were going to go.
“Pudgy, I talked to Sandra, she will be arriving at Latrobe Airport on Sunday morning. I need you to go back to your home, and pack. Get your things, lock up the house, and come back today. Bring Argente too, she will want to see you off as well.” The hedgehog nodded and bounced out of the little plane. He scampered through the basement, and out the hedgehog sized door. Taking another cup of coffee, and adding some milk to it, he sipped. This stuff was good, but it ripped his stomach apart if he drank too much of it. That was 2 pots of coffee ago, but he could not stop work on the plane. He was working on the gasoline powered engine assembly, though the instructions were not clear. He was on the phone with technical support, asking about parts, and with the haughty words and smart-alecky tone of the operator, figured out where to connect the fuel line and spark plug assemblies. One thing that was not in the instructions, was the inclusion of a belt fed machine gun. Cobalt knew what Pudgy was going to run into up there, and he wanted his friend to be able to defend himself.
The machine gun was a pistol, but with some enhancements, it could be turned into a semi-automatic. After studying a video on how the timing gears worked on actual world war one and two era propellor planes, he realized he could do the same in miniature. Luckily, after many Pudgy adventures, he had the tools to be able to build such a thing. Cobalt assembled the engine and connected the fuel tanks inside the plane’s fuselage. Making the required parts for the machine gun, the tired man got out his magnifying goggles, and started the intricate assembly of the tiny gun parts. The plan itself had a 5-foot wingspan, so the gun assembly would fit within the palm of his hand. The gun itself was going to shot 2 mm caliber rounds. In the grand scheme of things, the 22 calibers had barely enough stopping power to hurt the shade. But it was the number of bullets that did the trick, and while Cobalt was not the best of shots, he had tagged the creature enough times to slow it down.
This gun was meant to take the creature by surprise and allow Pudgy time to get away. The hardware store had a few bottle rockets remaining after Labor Day, so Cobalt was planning on rigging them to the plane wings as emergency rocket engines. Walking back out to the main area of his basement from the mechanical room, he picked up the plane and sat it on a folding table. With jeweler tools and his lighted magnifying goggles, the tired man started to do the delicate assembly work to connect the machine gun. His eyes were heavy, and his fingers shaky, but in time finished the assembly. The pile of porch cushions was still laying on the floor in the same spot as he had left them. Sitting down, the tired man decided to just stretch out temporarily. He had a dozen more things to do, but before he knew it, he involuntarily fell asleep.
Cobalt slept for several hours, and when he awoke, found Argente and Pudgy had curled up against his chest. He had fallen asleep on his side, and chuckled as he woke up. He moved his arm, and gently petted the hedgehog and fox, who both woke up quickly. “Good morning, or afternoon, whatever the time it is?” The critters bounced and pointed at the plane up on the folding table. “It is mostly finished; I need to test and fix the controls. Then Pudgy will need to test fly it.” Argente padded over and touched her nose with Cobalt’s and looked into his eyes. “What do you mean fly?” Pudgy bounced and started to fill her in on the plan, which drew a terrified series of looks from the fox.
The plan was that on Sunday, Sandra would fly Pudgy with his plane and gear to Packwood Airport. That airport is located to the south east of Mount Rainier. Once there, the hedgehog would ready the plan for flight, and fly to the north then west to reach Copper Mountain. The mountain was located to the south west of Mount Rainier. There is a copper mine, somewhere on the mountain. Pudgy after locating the mine, would land his plane nearby. The hedgehog would enter the mine, and then locate Angeliki. After freeing her, the two would then escape the mine. The Goddess’s daughter had the ability to teleport, so once she was safe, Pudgy could use the plan to get back to Packwood. Argente looked at the two of them and stomped her foot. “I do not like this plan! Why is always Pudgy that must do this?” The man nodded, “I agree, I say Pudgy should stay home. But, Angeliki has been a good friend, we must do what we can to save her. I can go, but you saw with the rifle, it almost does nothing. Only Pudgy can use the talisman, that is the one thing that makes the shades go away.”
The fox nodded, “I don’t like it, but I understand. After this adventure, I want Pudgy to stay home!” Pudgy nodded, and so did Cobalt. So, after a quick upstairs to do something, the man returned and headed over to the patio door. He pulled it open, and then went to gently pick up the airplane, and carry it out to the patio. Sitting it down, he went back inside to get the fuel can and filling funnel. Pudgy and Argente scampered out and ran around the biplane looking at everything. The man returned, and then opened a tiny cap, and connected the funnel to it. Picking up a small handheld gasoline can, he started to gingerly fill the fuel tanks. The plane started to lower as the weight filled the plane. After a couple of minutes, the fueling was done, and the gas can stowed safely away. Pulling the patio door shut, Cobalt knelt beside the plane. He instructed Pudgy what to do, and the fox watched as the flaps moved up and down on the wings. The tail rudder moved left and right as well. All mechanical parts seemed to be working. “Ok Pudgy, fire up the engine.”
Click, click, click, for some reason the engine would not start. As Pudgy looked up at his friend, he watched as the man started to diagnose the engine problems. Several attempts were made, and after a series of frustrating attempts, the started clicked hard, and the wooden propellor blade started to turn by itself. The engine roared up, and the propellor started to spin at full speed. The noise from the engine was noticeable, but not too loud. Pudgy looked up at Cobalt, “what does this button do?” He said while pointing at a button on the flight control stick. The man looked down, “Pudgy, don’t push the button yet.” The Hedgehog nodded and pushed the button. The machine gun started to fire, and while the first shell was fine, then second and third shells hit the propellor blade and shattered it into a cloud of splinters. The small tree that was in front of the patio took the brunt of it, and sizeable chunks were ripped out of the leaves and branches.
The man shot him a cross look and motioned with his hand to shut the engine down. As the engine turned off, the noise subsided. “Pudgy push button just like Cobalt said!” The man grumbled, “I said not to push the button. But now we know the timing gear is off. Do you see a pin on a chain? That is the safety, please put it in.” The hedgehog nodded and put the safety pin into the spot where his friend instructed him. The man disconnected the propeller and started to tinker with the interrupter gear. It was a gear from the main engine, that allowed the gun to fire a round between the propellor blades. “Pudgy, I know you will be getting into trouble, so I wanted you to be able to defend yourself. I loaded a couple of test rounds, so we know the gun works. The timing gears will let you shoot while flying, just like the air force. I will load about twenty rounds, as that is all your plane will carry. So be sparing with the gun, this is to protect you only. I will also be connecting bottle rockets to the wings. In an absolute emergency, you will be able to light the rockets, for a one-time boost.”
The fox’s eyes went wide, and she stayed to the side of the patio where she would be out of the way. The man finished the adjustments, and then attached a new propellor blade to the front of the plane. After some further adjustments. He motioned for the hedgehog to turn on the plane engine once more. The starter clicked, and the engine fired up. As the blade reached full speed, Pudgy watched for Cobalt’s direction. The man nodded, and the hedgehog pressed the trigger once again. This time, the machine gun fired, and did not hit the blades. The tree continued to be ripped apart, which drew a cheer from the hedgehog and man. But with the plane in full throttle, it started to quickly move forward, and then bounce along the back yard towards the hill that lead down to the road. The hedgehog pulled the stick back, and once he had reached proper speed, the plane lifted off and shot up into the air, just clearing the fence.
Pudgy could not believe it, he was flying. The little plane was holding up well, and little gauges showed a variety of measurements. The fuel tank read three quarter full, the compass read west, altimeter 20, bullets zero, and engine temperature was green. The hedgehog decided to visit his woodland friends, and flew over the treetops, past the cardinals. The birds chirped happily and waved as Pudgy passed by in his plane. Around the clearing of Mister Bear’s cabin, he went, with the large brown bear waving at him as he circled overhead. Circling around, he flew up to the big cave where Mister Dinosaur lived. The door was shut, and there was no sign of his Dino friend. Making another wide bank, the little plane headed back to Cobalt’s house. As the plane approached, he could see his friend standing and waving. He had a long orange stick and was motioning. It was to narrow for Pudgy to land on approaching the house, so he would need to circle around, and land parallel. All the back yards behind the various neighbors’ houses did not have fences, so it was a straight shot of grass, that narrowed to a 5-foot width behind his next-door neighbor’s house.
Pudgy nodded, and did as his friend directed, circling over the houses, and lining up with the back yards. The plan started to descend too quickly, and Pudgy was afraid he might crash it, so he pulled back, which caused the plane to level off. Too quickly for Cobalt’s liking, the plane landed, and bounced a couple of times. But it pulled up behind his house, which drew out a collection of neighbors on the patios and decks to see what had landed. The man waved, “sorry about the noise!” The old timers grumbled that lived nearby and went back inside. Pudgy waved at his friend, as the engine sputtered and died out from lack of fuel. The man was laughing, “You were out and about Pudgy for almost an hour, and that was only a quarter tank full of gasoline.” Pudgy nodded, he was reading the fuel gauge wrong, and told his friend everything eh saw and how the plane reacted. Helping his little friend out of the plane, the man pulled it to the spot behind his house where he assembled many contraptions for Pudgy.
With the engine cooling, he headed inside the house. Returning with cans of spray paint, plastic bags, and masking tape: he masked off the areas to not require paint. Carefully he painted a base coat of olive drab green, and then randomly sprayed brown paint, then black paint as well. Pudgy bounced, as he recognized that to be a camouflage pattern. With the paint drying, the man nodded as he stared out into the forest. “Plane is ready and will be dried soon. I have a variety of supplies, which can be stowed in a compartment behind the pilot seat. I checked the weather on Mount Rainier, and it said snow in a couple of days. So, winter gear will be required, do you agree?” Argente nodded, “yes, it got very cold on the mountain this time of year. I am glad it is still warm here, even this late into the season.” Pudgy looked at his two friend and bounced happily. He was so lucky to have them, and they would be willing to help him. He scampered over and hugged Argente. Then over and hugged Cobalt’s ankle. The two laughed and smiled.
When the paint was tacky, Cobalt pulled the plane onto the back patio underneath his deck. Taking the plastic bags off, he unmasked the areas he had sealed off. Pudgy had already gone inside, and was busy packing, and repacking the variety of items that Cobalt had purchased for him. It was unclear how long Pudgy would need to be on the mountain, so it was helpful to have a week’s worth of supplies. In hedgehog terms, that would not be a lot of weight, and could fit within the tiny plane. The man sat on his patio chair and sipped directly from a 2-liter bottle of a bargain brand cola. He burped loudly and excused himself. When Argente looked at him. The frenzy of building and testing was catching up to the man, who yawned. They would need to be up early tomorrow, to drive out to Latrobe. While it was not an exceptionally long trip, he did not exactly know when Sandra and Raymond would arrive. They gave a window, because of certain requirements necessary to fly, required time to prep and fly.
The man headed inside and made supper for everyone and brought it back downstairs to the patio. With little bowls set up for Pudgy and Argente, everyone munched happily on loaded nachos. Cobalt made thing a tad hot, so the spices were a little too much for Argente, so she got extra sour cream. With full bellies, Pudgy started to make trips back and forth, loading the plane with the variety of supplies. The hedgehog climbed back into the pilot seat and bounced. He was so happy and waved at Cobalt. Argente could not help but smile, though she would cast long sad gazes at the man, who would return her look with a nod. With supper over, the plane was pulled back inside the basement, and placed on a drop cloth in case of any issues overnight. The man locked the doors, and then headed upstairs. The critters followed him upstairs and sat in front of the giant television set in the living room.
“Ok, you two be good, I need a shower.” He turned on a show about hand puppets that terrorize a southwestern desert town with their hijinks. The man headed upstairs, shut his bedroom door and got undressed. As he was standing in the shower, with the hot water streaming over his body, he started to relax. The hot water felt good, and after quickly washing himself off, the man turned the water off. Stepping out from the shower, he found Argente standing there looking up at him. “Cobalt, that show is really dumb. I….” She took one look, and then backed out of the bathroom, and tried to pull the door shut with her paw. He laughed and looked at himself in the steamy mirror. “Yup still got it.” He smirked as he shut the bathroom door and locked it. He shaved, and then exited the bathroom. Argente was in the bedroom still, but thankful for the towel around his waist.
“Cobalt, I’m sorry, the door was open.” The fox stammered out, with a bashful look on her face. The man chuckled, “Well Argente, I will chalk this up to an accident. If I catch you here a second time, I think you might like me.” The female fox giggled, and padded out of the bedroom, and watched as the door shut behind her softly. Argente padded down the stairs and shook her head. She had seen a little too much of Cobalt, and that would take awhile for her to forget. But still, that show was dumb, and when she returned to Pudgy: he was bouncing. The puppets were driving a gremlin and running a charger off the road. In a couple of minutes Cobalt returned to the living room. He sat down on the couch, and soon were joined by the hedgehog and fox. The move indeed was dumb, but silly. And ended soon enough. After getting out the blankets, he wrapped up Pudgy and Argente on the couch, and kissed each of their heads. “Good night you two, we need to get up early tomorrow, so we need to sleep.”
The critters soon drifted off to sleep, and Cobalt turned off the lamps. Walking quietly through his home, he checked the doors, and then headed upstairs to his bedroom. As soon as he laid down on the bed, he fell asleep. The sheer exhaustion had caught up to him, and he slept soundly throughout the night. Like the day before, as he woke up in the morning, he found Pudgy on his chest and Argente curled up beside him. The phone’s alarm was beeping, and after gently moving the two critters, the man got out of bed. The two critters heard the water running as he got ready, and soon found him getting dressed. For pudgy, this was not shocking, he had seen it many times before. Argente hid her eyes, though peeked towards the end. The man laughed, and then headed downstairs.
The plane would not fit through the doors of the home, so he had to carry it out the back and around the house to reach the parking spot where his red Jeep was located. The critters followed him, and in a couple of minutes the plane was no longer inside the basement. The plane was loaded into the back of the vehicle. He shut the back hatch, and then went back around. Several trips made to get fuel, and other supplies, again loaded on each subsequent trip. After locking the basement door, he exited through the front door, and locked that behind him. Cobalt opened the passenger door and helped load Argente and then Pudgy inside the Jeep. The man shut the door, and then walked around the vehicle to get into the driver’s seat. He opened the glove compartment and found an envelope from the bank. Counting the bills, he had enough money for Sandra. Pudgy noticed and looked up at his friend, “Cobalt, what is the money for?”
The man nodded and shut the glove compartment. “It cost that much to fly to Packwood Pudgy. If you could use your teleportation stone, it would help, but that is too dangerous now. The Kaiser knows when it is used, and people are in danger, including you. This means you need to use conventional travel, and that needs money for fuel and other costs. So, can this be the last adventure for a long time? I need to work overtime to build up the Pudgy adventure funds again.” The hedgehog looked sad and nodded. “Thank you, Cobalt.” He whimpered but calmed down when his friend petted him gently. Starting the engine, the man backed out the jeep, and then started to drive. The trip to Latrobe was a scenic one, with many neat things to look at along the way. It took a little over an hour, and then around a strange circle road thing, the vehicle pulled up into the parking lots in front of the Arnold Palmer regional airport. The familiar green roofs were glistening from the heavy dew from the morning.
Exiting the vehicle, Cobalt walked around it, and opened the passenger door. The fox and hedgehog bounced out and let him shut the door. Locking it with the key fob, Pudgy climbed on top of Argente’s back, and held on as she padded along side Cobalt as he walked. Across the covered roadway, and in through the front doors, Argente saw a big sign of DeNunzios Italian Restaurant. All sorts of yummy smells were in the air, and a nice crowd of people heading up a long staircase to the restaurant on the second floor. “Cobalt!” A female voice rang out, and as the man turned towards where the airport started, he could see Sandra coming up an escalator. Her husband Raymond was behind her and waved happily. Once they had cleared the metal detectors, the couple walked up to the man. Cobalt shook both of their hands and smiled. “Hello Sandra, Hello Raymond. Thank you for coming to help with this adventure.”
Pudgy waved at Sandra and her husband, and Argente waved as well. The married couple smiled and waved back. As the woman pulled her long brown hair back into a ponytail, her husband looked down at the fox. “You must be Argente, Pudgy has told us a lot about you.” Cobalt smiled and nodded while motioning. “Breakfast is on me; they have a great buffet here.” Everyone cheered, and then followed Cobalt up the long set of stairs to the restaurant. Pudgy and Argente were allowed in if they were good. Bothe promised, and soon the group was shown to a table that was next to a big series of windows that looked out onto the airport tarmac. A big yellow plane was loading and getting ready for takeoff. The buffet was a brunch buffet of all manner of yummy things. Waffles, eggs, bacon, grits, hashed browns, ham, an omelet station, all sorts of silver trays full of Italian foods, a tiny salad bar tucked away in a corner, and a desert table. The breakfast was a fun time, and with many trips to get yummy foods.
Once everyone was full, and happy, the humans were sipping strong Italian coffee. Sandra nodded, and pulled out a blue leatherette pouch. She showed Cobalt the flight plan, and the cost breakdown. Raymond nodded, “Cobalt, I hate to ask you this, but can you really afford this?” Cobalt nodded, “Yes, I withdrew the funds yesterday. It is in the car, along with Pudgy’s plane with supplies.” Sandra blinked, “Pudgy’s … plane?” The hedgehog and fox bounced and explained what Cobalt had built. The married couple were dumbstruck and stared in amazement. Raymond took off his black rimmed glasses and rubbed his eyes. His brows furrowed a moment, as he ran his free hand though his dark hair. “Ok, Pudgy has a plane now. So what is the plan, you two?” Pudgy climbed up on the table, “Sandra and Raymond fly Pudgy out to Packwood Airport. Pudgy then gets plane ready, and flies to Copper Mountain. Pudgy rescues Hecates’ Daughter Angeliki from the Kaiser. Then Pudgy gets back to airport,” the hedgehog said matter of factly.
The two nodded and looked up at Cobalt. The tired man nodded, “That is the plan. Pudgy cannot use the magic stone to teleport, the Kaiser knows when he uses it. This is stealth, we need to get Pudgy there with as little fanfare as possible. Then Pudgy has a chance to sneak in and save her. This is not to stop the Kaiser, just save Angeliki, and get out. So, the plane and supplies are in my Jeep. How can I get to where your plane is?” Raymond nodded, “Oh, we have been here several times for clients. I ride down in the Jeep with you to the gates, and then they let us in. We will load the cargo, and then take off. Sandra will head down to the plane and prep it for flight to Aberdeen South Dakota. That is a refuel and layover spot, before the next leg of the trip. We’ll be flying over the northern tier of the country, so we won’t hit the mountains till about Montana.”
The waitress came over to the table and presented the bill to Cobalt. He placed his credit card on the little plastic tray, and she took it off to be charged. The tall Italian woman with braided brown hair smiled when she returned, and with the card charged, Cobalt filled out the gratuity. As everyone stood up, Raymond rubbed his belly. “Oh man, that was good. I definitely love this airport.” Cobalt laughed, and everyone followed him through the restaurant, and down the stairs. The exception was Sandra, who this time took the elevator, which went all the way down to the service deck for the airport. It was quick trip down the stairs, and out the front door to reach the big red Jeep that Cobalt drove. He opened the back-passenger doors and helped to load Pudgy then Argente inside. Raymond peeked over his shoulder, and sure enough there was a camouflaged bi-wing airplane in the back of the vehicle. As Cobalt shut the door, the wide-eyed expression of Raymond caught his attention.
One by one, the two men got into the vehicle, with Cobalt starting the engine. Raymond blinked, looking in the rearview mirror. “Cobalt, is that … armed?” Turning to face Raymond, the driver smiled, “2 mm shells by 20 rounds.” Sandra’s husband blinked and swallowed hard. Then looked back at Pudgy, “just what on earth are you up to this time?” As Raymond navigated, and asked questions about the plane, the jeep pulled out of the parking lot, and followed the road to the service gates of the airport. Upon reaching the security shack, the guard allowed the vehicle in when Raymond explained what they were doing. Sandra’s twin engine plane was sitting beside a hangar, and a fuel truck was filling the tanks. Cobalt swung wide, and then started to back in to where the plane’s doors were open. He popped his automatic hatch, and the back started to open. Sandra who had been checking the plane, noticed the cargo and Pudgy waving. She blinked, “he really does have a plane?”
With the jeep in park, Raymond helped Cobalt unload the plane from the vehicle and placed it inside the Cessna’s interior cabin. It just barely fit, after some careful positioning and pivoting. For safety purposes, the fuel tanks were empty. The safety was on for the machine gun, and the plane’s emergency rockets were not attached. In a couple of trips, all Pudgy’s equipment was loaded. It was time for goodbye, and first Argente hugged her hedgehog friend tightly. Cobalt then knelt and hugged Pudgy tightly for a long period of time. “Please Pudgy, be safe, and rescues Angeliki. Do not take on the Kaiser, just get in, and get out. Do you understand?” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy understand, Goddess tell Pudgy that too. Pudgy will be safe and come back. Pudgy promise.” Cobalt stood up, and then handed Pudgy to Raymond. The man smiled and helped load Pudgy inside of the aircraft. Sandra smiled at Cobalt, “We will get Pudgy there and back safely. There is only one more thing to start this adventure.” Nodding, Cobalt headed to the car, and opened the passenger door. Getting out the bank envelope, he returned to Sandra. “$1,100; as discussed.” She nodded, and wrote up the paperwork, and then had Cobalt sign it.
She counted the bills and nodded. Then took back the paperwork and put it in her blue paperwork pouch. “As soon as we hit each of our stops, we will text you.” Cobalt nodded, and then walked back to the Jeep, and loaded Argente into the vehicle. A security truck came up, with the window rolled down. “Sir, you need to move your Jeep during the take off.” Cobalt nodded and waved at Sandra while he hopped into his vehicle. Starting the engine, he followed the white security truck out through the service gates. Sandra nodded, and climbed the steps that lead into the aircraft. Pulling the lower steps up, and then the upper hatch down, the cabin of the plane was sealed. The bi-wing plane took up a big portion of the cabin’s cargo interior. There was an empty seat with Pudgy sitting on it, under a seatbelt. She laughed, and then ducked as she climbed through a small doorway, and into the pilot’s seat.
Sitting down into the gray leather cushioned seat, she placed the headset onto her head and positioned over each ear. “Tower, this is flight X23-4A, requesting taxi instructions.” The controller responded back, “the tarmac is clear, please proceed to runway alpha one.” The plane’s engines fired up, one by one, with the tri-blade propellers spinning quickly. The plane started to move forward and taxied along the tarmac. Crossing the landing strip, the plane reached the take off section of the tarmac. The tower responded, “clear to take off X23-4A, flight plan logged with the FAA for trip to Aberdeen. Good flight.” Raymond pointed, “hit it.” Sandra put the throttle to full, and the plane’s engines roared as the plane came up to speed. Pudgy could feel the nose pick up, and woosh they were off into the air. Pudgy settled in, it was going to be at least 6 hours before they reached their first stop. The plane’s engines caused a gentle vibration, that was soothing to the hedgehog. But with a nice full belly, he drifted off to sleep.
One reply on “Lord of Terror: Chapter 4: Aberdeen”