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The ghostly fire spirit looked at the crowd in pity. Tasmanian quoll-men with their spotted coats contrasted against the striped pteroinans. Other creatures that had a soft look to them eyed the pteroinans’ spiny manes in fear. The pungent scent of spices drifted through the air, making Ralangta’s apprehension worse. Everyone here was chatting and murmuring. Ralangta’s brethren, candle cats, hovered about, sometimes flying around the heads of their bigger friends for the fun of it. Curious teenagers peered through the windows next to the front door, which was right across from where Ralangta was at. Nobody seemed to wonder why he and his three companions were here. They looked too joyful to receive the bad news well. Ralangta’s friend, Pakaa bent over to put a square ruby on the floor, and pulled another ruby the size of a cell phone out of his pocket. The shark man nodded.
Ralangta floated a little higher, “May I have everyone’s attention?”
All the chatting stopped. Knives and forks clinked as they were put down. Even the candle cats stopped their antics to hear what Ralangta had to say.
Ralangta looked at the two fine earth elementals standing next to his friend for a moment. A hologram appeared two feet above the ruby on the floor, and grew to the size of a bull. Heavy steps were heard as one of the earth elementals, named Tephra, stepped out of the hologram’s way. Tephra sighed.
An image appeared on the hologram. It depicted a strange humanoid that Ralangta had now seen many times over. He could imagine just what the audience was seeing, its geometric form, block-shaped head, jet black face, odd yellow and black coloration and ribbon-like flippers inspired confused expressions among the audience, especially among the earth elementals that looked much like it.
But about half of them looked about, with sweat beads decorating their faces.
Ralangta took notice of this, “Brave Tasmanians, you are very likely wondering why I have come to bother you and show you a poster depicting what looks like a nargun stuffed into a wetsuit. Your question will be answered if you can bear with me and watch this clip.”
Pakaa frowned at the audience and tapped the ruby in his hand.
The hologram then showed this same creature swimming with dolphins in a coral reef, exploring blue temples like an aquatic house cat, seeing what looked like an upside down pyramid, and doing other things that make it look like a modernist mermaid of sorts. All of this happened as an orchestra played in the background. Ralangta observed that some of them looked befuddled. But Ralangta thought he saw one pteroinan raise her spines in suspicion. Everyone else around her watched with open mouths.
The film ended with a chorus letting out one last note.
Ralangta beamed an ironic smile, “Cute, right?”
The multitude muttered in sincere agreement. That one pteroinan sitting far back expanded her gills in what must be disgust.
Ralangta’s smile snapped into a frown, “Wrong! See the proof that this diver has you all fooled!”
The hologram brightened, and its blue light changed to a hideous shade of red. The teenagers peering through the windows broke into a run. Tephra started to gag, and she threw open the door next to her and ran inside. Ralangta squinted in order to avoid seeing what was going on. Some hapless viewers covered their eyes, others ducked under their paper menus and covered their ears, still more couldn’t get themselves to move, and instead wore masks of horror and outrage. Spines exploded into position, and so did fur. Some even refused their orders after their waiters skirted the walls to avoid the show. Still more ran out of the restaurant, their slapping feet barely heard over the noise of the film.
All this sent shivers throughout Ralangta’s body.
Ralangta burned with anger, “You see what this sicko is doing? She masquerades as a sweet little robot of a nargun in order to give her human customers a thrill! They’re even showing this abomination to children! She has been doing this for months now. By this time, we should have known about it. But due to her still reckless behavior, this threat is going ignored.”
A pteroinan quickly rose from his chair and pointed at Ralangta, “Don’t listen to him, everyone. He’s obviously lying.”
Ralangta saw the sickly white on the youngster’s face. The candle cat felt a tug on his heart for the youngster. “Take a close look everyone.”
The hologram turned light blue, and dark green, and orange. The audience gasped.
Ralangta looked at the fish-man square in the eye, “All these fish here are mascots, sir. They are now being used as symbols for certain things. Do you know that? Did you learn this just now?”
The pteroinan’s spines rose up. His face looked like it was dusted with flour.
Ralangta looked past him, “I bet some of you guys know about this and chose not to intervene. I mean look at this male’s face.”
The pteroinan stuck his hands in his pockets as the crowd murmured. Seeing some of the monsters shoot dirty looks at their friends made Ralangta smile.
Ralangta continued, “You guys shouldn’t have ignored this, for if she and her accomplices go unpunished, human sin will rise to nightmarish levels, the sewer systems which keep this sin matter out will burst, and we will be subject to the worst sin epidemic since the Darwinian Disaster!”
The crowd gasped at the sight of the graph that appeared on the hologram.
“This can only be stopped by destroying the root before it has time to grow. We can end this diver’s schemes. We can destroy this sin root. We can save ourselves! Let’s end man’s folly before it’s too late!”
The crowd sprang from their seats, uttering cries and shaking fists.
Ralangta flew up over the crowd, “Come on, guys! Get your weapons! Get your money! Meet us at Bijou’s portal shop!”
Ralangta flew under the top of the door frame right after the crowd burst out of the restaurant. Ralangta watched everyone get in their cars. He turned and saw his group pile into Omeo’s shiny teal van. So he followed Pakaa into the van.
Tephra sat down and looked at a nearby crossbow, “It’s so crazy. Those humans found out what we look like. But how?”
There she was. Ralangta’s hero was turning white with shock. Now what does a leader do at a time like this?
The van shook a little. Pakaa gave Ralangta a worried look.
Ralangta hovered over to Tephra, “Hey, hey, hey. Don’t blanch over this. We’re about to hurry into my cousin’s portal shop, go into the Internet, and wallop that diver before anybody could realize she resembles you. And you’re Tephra the Unconquerable, you’d probably be the one who puts an end to this. If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Everyone felt the pull of the van slowing to a stop. Omeo disappeared from the driver’s seat. The doors in the back of the van opened as if by magic, and there stood Omeo with arms akimbo, her stony head glittering in the sun. Pakaa got a running start and jumped out of the van, with Ralangta following close behind him, leaving Tephra to lumber out of the van.
And so the group entered Bijou’s Portal Palace. There in the festive-looking building were several full length mirrors with swirling vortexes in them. Beside them was a candle cat that was a spitting image of Ralangta, except for the polka dot hat he wore.
Ralangta moved past Omeo to meet him, “Hey cousin, do you mind taking a whole mob to the Internet dimension?”