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Rise of the elements cover sky

Authors Note

This is part two of Slave of the Phantoms. If you haven't read that yet, please do.

The story will contain a bit of blood. If you aren't comfortable with blood than don't read this story. It won't be as intense as the other one until farther into the story, but I reccomend you don't skip any parts. And in case you get confused by all the characters, here is a list of the characters and what they look like:

Star: White and yellow arctic wolf with yellow star pattern. (F)

Mari: White and light blue eagle with a light purple blocky pattern. (F)

Infinity: Blue snow leopard with lighter blue underbelly and dark blue spots. (M)

Arim: Dark purple phantom with an iron helmet and spiked wristbands on his bottom tentacles. (M)

Smog: Dark green phantom with spiked wristbands on his top and bottom tentacles. Arim's assistant. (M)

Miaklianne (Mia): Dark green lemur with silver rings around his tail and eyes, one green eye and one red eye. (M)

Carrot: A yellow bunny with tan splotches, green eyes, pink ears, yellow flower crown and yellow worn. (F)

Carrot (Insane): A black bunny with red fox hat, red worn, red ears, red splotches, and red evil eyes. (F)

Prologue: The Creation

(Gore warning)

3 years earlier...

The frightened wolf looked around. He wasn't sure what was happening. He had been eating food in his cell a minute ago, and now he was trapped inside a capsule attached to a wall in the phantom laboratory. Along the wall were four other capsules, almost touching. Tubes attached to the top and hung down into the capsules. All the tubes attached to the muddle capsule, for some odd reason. In the other capsules were a crocodile, a cheetah, and a lemur. The middle capsule, the largest one, was empty.

This section of the laboratory was mostly empty. It was a separate room that was very dark. On the left wall was a simple door. On the wall opposite the capsules were several tables with syringes, whips, chains, and bottles of glowing liquid. There was also a long desk with three computers on it. The computers were the brightest thing in the dark room, but it wasn't enough light to light up even half the room.

The door opened with a loud creeeaaak.

Arim, the head general, floated into the dark laboratory with an evil expression. Beside him were six other phantoms. Three phantoms rushed over to the table with the computers and started tapping away at the keyboard. Two stayed where they were. The last one floated over to the middle capsule and opened it. Almost casually, he floated inside the capsule and closed it. The capsule was far too big for him.

The phantom in the capsule grabbed the tube that was hanging down. Tiny suction cups were on the bottom and sides. The phantom stuck the tube onto his head and sat there silently.

The last two phantoms opened the cheetah's capsule. He started hissing and attempted to escape. The Phantoms held him still and attached the tube to his head. They slammed the capsule shut. The cheetah tried taking the tube off, but the phantoms on the computers tapped a button and the cheetah went still. The two phantoms went to the next capsule, the lemur. They did the same thing. As the phantoms went from capsule to capsule, the wolf had an odd realization. All the animals with him were male. Why?

The phantoms reached the wolf's capsule. They opened it by pressing a button on the outside. The capsule opening slid open, and the wolf jumped out. The phantoms lurched forward and grabbed him before he could get far. They shoved him in the capsule and stuck the tube to his head. The capsule slid shut.

The wolf grabbed the tube on his head and tried to pull it off. He didn't know what they were doing to him, but he couldn't let it happen. He tried to pull, but it wouldn't budge. One of the phantoms at a computer pressed a button. The wolf felt a slimy feeling on his head, and suddenly he lost the will to keep pulling. He felt too weak, it was too hopeless. He let go. At the same time, his arms went numb, leaving him no way to get the tube off if he wanted to. And he did, but he couldn't find the strength to do it.

The phantoms at the computers started rapidly tapping buttons. The two phantoms hovered beside Arim, who just sat there staring at the animals in the capsules. Lights appeared above the capsules. The wolf felt an odd feeling in his head. Suddenly there was a flash of pain. The pain came back, stronger than before, and kept getting worse. The wolf tried to scream, but nothing came out. He grabbed his head, then let go and started banging on the walls with his front paws. The other animals were doing the same.

The phantom in the middle capsule was doing the worst. He was waving his tentacles around, making it look as if he was growing. But when he looked closer, the wolf realized that he was growing bigger. His body was getting longer, less slimy. In fact, it was looking... scalier. The four top tentacles started to melt, and soon there was nothing left. The bottom four tentacles began to grow and stretch. Claws sprouted from the bottom.

Suddenly, the crocodile beside the wolf dropped down and went still. The phantom started to grow thick scales on his stomach, and his head stretched out similar to a crocodile's. His gurgling cries turned to roars. He grew a long, thick tail. Spikes sprouted from his back. The phantom was changing into something completely different. He wasn't a phantom anymore. The wolf wasn't even sure if he should be calling that monstrosity a 'he'.

Then, suddenly, it stopped. It was all silent. The wolf looked around at his companions. They were all lying on the ground, unmoving. Arim opened the capsule with the cheetah and poked him.

"Dead," Arim muttered. He moved to the next one. Same result. Then he moved on to the capsule with the monster in it. Arim paused, then opened the capsule. The monster was lying on the ground, also unmoving. Arim poked it with his spear, but it didn't move. It wasn't even breathing.

Arim snorted angrily. "Useless. All this work, and it doesn't even-" Before Arim could finish, the monster jumped up and leaped out of the cell. It had bright blue eyes. It turned to look at Arim and snarled. Then, the last change happened.

Very, very slowly, its eyes turned yellow. Its pupils turned into slits. None of the subjects used in the experiment had yellow eyes.

The experiment had gone wrong. Terribly wrong.

Tube backgrounded for life with shadowy harharhar i diead

Art by Nkurle

Arim knew this instantly. Only a second later, the monster slashed at Arim with its claws.

"Stop!" Arim shouted. Instead of obeying Arim's commands like it was supposed to, the monster lurched forward and grabbed Arim's bottom tentacle in its jaws. Arim attempted to stab the monster, but it let go and jumped backward. The five phantoms tried to grab it, but the monster swung around, hitting all the phantoms with its tail. The phantoms flew back. One hit a table and a potion fell over and poured yellow liquid all over the phantom. The Phantom made a gurgling scream and disappeared in a puff of black dust.

The monster jumped forward and smashed the second phantom in its jaws. The phantom exploded into dust instantly. Arim threw his spear, but the monster jumped onto the ceiling. The lights above the capsules shined behind the monster, making it look like it was made of shadow. Then it jumped down and sliced its claws through another phantom, then blasted lightning from its mouth at Arim. Arim didn't move. When the lightning hit him, his body simply absorbed it. The wolf gasped.

Arim picked up his spear, then raised it in the air. A huge bolt of lightning came down from nowhere and blasted the monster. It dropped down, unconscious.

There was a long moment of silence. The remaining two phantoms floated up behind Arim.

"We should kill it," One of the phantoms said.

"No," Arim growled. "We have to keep it. This monster, the... the ShadowKiller, is perfect. If we make a few adjustments, or maybe train it, it will obey our commands. This ShadowKiller is perfect for capturing the Elementals."

The wolf was confused. What were Elementals?

One of the phantoms grumbled angrily. "We can't keep it alive. The experiment went wrong! It will never listen-"

"Quiet! I make the orders around here!" Arim shouted. "I don't care if it doesn't obey me, I will make it obey me, no matter how long it takes! Put it in a cell and lock it with two keys."

The other phantoms sighed and dragged the monster away.

Once the door closed, Arim turned toward the wolf. "Ah, the only survivor, apart from the Shadowkiller. Now, what might I do with you?"

The wolf didn't answer. Answering Arim is never good.

Arim grunted and opened the capsule. He took off the tube and grabbed a syringe filled with transparent gray liquid, holding it in front of the wolf. Before the wolf could run away, Arim grabbed him and held him down.

"Why don't I try this out, eh?" He poked the wolf with the syringe.

And everything went black.

Chapter 1: A New Beginning

Chapter 1 beginning

3 Years later...

Star padded through Jamaa Township, fallen leaves crunching under her paws. Star sniffed the cool October air, thinking about all that had happened over the past months.

Ever since Star, Mari, and Infinity had escaped to Jamaa, things had gotten so much better. Despite the Jammers who laughed at them, tons of kind-hearted Jammers had helped them. An honorable lemur named Miaklianne (Mia for short) had helped with their injuries and let them stay at his house.

Thankfully, Mari's wing was not broken, and she had healed up quite nicely thanks to Miaklianne. Star's wound on her shoulder had healed as well. Now that she wasn't in the mucky phantom prisons, the wound had fully healed, all that was left is a thin scar.

Unfortunately, there were no signs of the other elemental Jammers yet. Mari says that they just need time, but Infinity thinks they aren't in the main eight lands of Jamaa (Not counting the ocean lands). They don't have Miaklianne's opinion, because they haven't told him about the elemental powers. Yet.

Star soon came across a grocery store and walked inside. She took a bag of carrots and walked up to the register. She put the bag on the shelf, along with the last of her gems. She sure hoped that Mia would continue to share his food with them, or else she wouldn't know what to do. Infinity had been earning the three of them gems for a while now, but everything was so expensive and Infinity wasn't earning enough gems.

Star woke up from her thoughts when the deer at the register tapped her shoulder and handed her the bag of carrots. She smiled at him as she walked out of the store. The brown leaves scattered all over the ground crunched loudly under her paws as she headed back to Miaklianne's place. October had come so quickly, and Night of the Phantoms was in a few weeks. Jammers were already decorating their yards with pumpkins, plastic spiders and fake phantoms.

As Star was walking, she saw a stray bunny lying next to a tree. She was yellow with tan splotches and green eyes, and she wore a yellow flower crown and yellow worn. Star hesitated before walking up to the bunny and asking "Are you okay?". The bunny didn't move at first, but then jumped up and grabbed her bag of carrots. The bunny started biting frantically at Star and digging her claws into her fur. Star yelped and dropped the bag of carrots on the ground. The bunny jumped off Star and started eating the carrots out of the bag.

"What did you do that for!" Star yelped, rubbing her cuts. The yellow bunny stopped eating the carrots and looked up at her. "Oh... I'm, um... Sorry." The little bunny stammered, looking fearfully at Star. "I... I can't help it." She gave the bag back to Star, which now only had three carrots left. Star snatched it back and was about to walk away, but turned back to the bunny.

"Well... are you okay? You could stay at my friend's house for a few days if you wanted..." Star asked. She was pretty sure Infinity, Mari, and Miaklianne would be okay with it. The bunny hesitated before nervously answering. "I have to, um... Nah, I'm fine." The bunny looked at the carrots for a moment before hopping away.

Star watched the bunny wander off until she was out of sight. She shrugged and padded off to Mia's house.

....

Star walked into Mia's house and into the living room. Miaklianne was sitting on the couch with Infinity, and Mari was preening her feathers on the opposite side of the room. Infinity looked up at her and noticed the bag of carrots.

"Woah. I didn't know you were that hungry." Infinity said with a laugh. Mari saw the bag and frowned.

"Um, I didn't eat them all. A homeless bunny ate the rest." Star decided to leave out the part where the bunny grabbed the bag out of her paws and ate the carrots without even asking.

"Oh. And what about all those cuts?" Mari said sternly.

"Oh... I... tripped?" Star said nervously. She really didn't want to tell them that the bunny had attacked her, of all things.

"I can help," Miaklianne said. Star had totally forgotten that he was there. He rarely spoke and mostly stayed quiet. It wasn't that he was shy, he just hated small talk and meaningless conversations.

The lemur stood up and looked at Star's injuries. He had dark green fur with silver rings, he wore a red sword, brown gloves and old boots that he refused to throw away. Star already knew that he was a skilled doctor, though she was not sure why he decided to leave his home. 

Star suddenly felt a strange tingling sensation where her cuts were. When she looked down, the cuts had already scabbed over. But strange enough, Mia had healed them without any medical equipment.

"Woah... how did you do that? I swear it couldn't have healed that quickly..." Star gasped, pulling her arm away. The green and silver lemur looked up at Star with his eyes wide.

Infinity and Mari looked concerned. "What's wrong, Star?" Mari asked.

"I... don't know..." Star answered nervously. Suddenly, it struck her. "Oh my... you have healing powers!" Star exclaimed. 

"Great Mira! What did you say?!" Mari gasped.

Infinity shook his head. "Can someone explain what's going on, because I have no clue what is making you all gasp so much." Infinity said, scratching his head.

Miaklianne looked up at the three animals, then sighed and stood up.

"Okay, I do have healing powers." He started. "I discovered them during a test to earn a doctor's title, and my father told me nothing in my home village would satisfy me and I could use my powers for good. So I headed to Jamaa township... but I kept my powers a secret so no one could use these powers against my will." Miaklianne explained. He looked up at the three animals, hoping they'd understand. Instead, their surprised expressions turned to smiles.

"Well... I guess we have to tell him now." Infinity muttered. With that, the trio told Mia their big secret.

Chapter 2: The Vision

Chapter 2 vision

"Do you think he's an elemental?" Infinity asked. The sun had set not too long ago, and the trio sat in the room Miaklianne had given them to sleep in. There were three mattresses spread out along the floor. 

Mia had been greatly surprised when they told him that they had elemental powers and that they were trying to find the other elementals. But he wasn't as surprised as they were when he revealed his power of healing. It was obvious that he wasn't an elemental, but then why would he have magic powers?

"I'm not sure. Healing isn't really an element of nature, and the only elements were fire, ice, wind, sun, shadow, nature, rock, water and thunder. None of those are healing." Mari said, tapping her wing against her chin thoughtfully.

"But then why does he have magic powers? HOW does he have powers?" Star asked, shaking her head in confusion.

"Maybe it's a sign." Mari murmured.

"A sign of what?" Both Infinity and Star said in unison.

"A sign to show us where the other chosen ones are, or where to find them," Mari explained. Her voice was stern and commanding, which made it seem as if she was absolutely sure that that was the case.

Star slowly nodded her head, even though she was pretty sure Miaklianne hadn't been given powers just so they knew they would find an elemental soon.

"I understand what you mean, but I don't think that's the case. Maybe he can help us on our journey to find the elementals. It would be kinda silly if he had been given these incredible powers just to show us we might find a chosen one." Star thought aloud. Infinity nodded his head in agreement

"True," Mari muttered. She fluffed up her feathers and looked at the ceiling thoughtfully.

Infinity spoke up. "I think we should get to bed now. If we keep thinking so hard like this, our brains are going to explode." Infinity joked. He gave his chest a quick lick and curled up in one of the mattresses. Mari flew up to a perch on the wall and Star plopped down in her mattress.

....

Star woke up in a dark metal room. The horrible stench of phantoms filled her nostrils. She jerked awake and looked around. She was standing beside another phantom with full armor, and in front of her was a huge metal throne covered with spikes and engravings of phantoms. Sitting upon the throne was none other than Arim, holding a large spear crackling with electricity.

Star tried to back away, but her legs betrayed her and brought her forward instead. The phantom beside her moved forward as well, then gestured her to stop. Arim towered above them, scowling. One of his top tentacles had been ripped off and hadn't grown back, which Star had done herself.

Arim stepped off the throne and hovered just above the ground. "Bring me to the prisoner." He growled.

Star swung around and walked toward a huge metal door at the other end of the room. She tried to turn back and face Arim, but her body wouldn't obey. The phantom beside her opened the door and hovered down a long corridor. The ceiling was lined with pipes of all sizes, and a transparent tube filled with glowing green phantom tar lined each wall, filling the hallway with a green glow. Star turned around to see Arim following close behind her. His gaze was fixed on the end of the hallway.

Star turned her head back. The hallway opened up to a huge circular room. A few small pipes ran along the ground and all connected to an enormous pipe In the center of the room that stretched up from the ground to the ceiling. A section of the tube was made of glass, revealing tons of phantoms traveling up through the tube. Along the walls were many smaller pipes going up to the ceiling and disappearing into the walls. Several parts of the floor were made of glass, revealing more glowing green tar that lit up the room. And throughout the whole room, there were openings to other corridors and hallways.

The largest hallway had a big metal gate covering it. Star was able to slow down so she could peer into it, but she couldn't see what was on the other side before Arim prodded her with his spear to make her speed up.

"What are you staring at? Hurry up, guard." Arim hissed in her ear. Star lost control of her body again and moved forward against her will.

Guard? Star wondered. She hesitated before looking down at her paws. But instead, she saw tentacles. At that moment, Star realized she was dreaming, and in her dream, she was one of Arim's phantom guards.

Star turned to look at the gate again, but then she entered one of the tunnels and lost sight of it. She walked -or hovered- down the hallway for a long time before entering another room. The pipes on the walls disappeared, along with the green glow of the phantom tar. She was now in a dark room, not much bigger than the hallway, that smelled faintly of rot. It was awfully dark, and it took a while for Star to realize she was in a long, twisting cave lined with stalactites reaching up to the ceiling.

Star moved into the dark cave, and once her eyes had adjusted to the dark, she saw that some of the stalactites were made of dark purple phantom goop. She turned to see a fairly large hole in the wall of the cave, with metal bars covering it. A red panda was cowering inside, with a small dish of rotting food beside it. There was no bed in the small cell, and only a small dish of brown water. The red panda was very skinny, with every one of its ribs showing.

Star looked around and saw even more cells lining the twisting, dark cave. This prison was even worse than the one Star had been in. All the cells were dirty, dark, and unkempt. One of the imprisoned animals glanced fearfully at Star and then curled up on the rocky ground.

The other phantom guard led them to a dark cell near the back of the long cave. This part of the cave was so dark it was almost impossible to see anything more than a few feet in front of her. Unlike the other cells, this one had an extra wall of metal over the bars, with a tiny window at the top. Arim turned to Star and gestured to a key hanging on one of the stalactites. His folded his tentacles and glared at Star while she picked up the key and nervously fit it into the lock on the metal door. She heard a click and opened the door, then stepped back to let Arim pass.

The cell was so dark inside, Star could only see a faint silhouette of the animal inside. Arim hovered in front of the cell and glared at the animal inside.

"Well? Have you thought about my deal?" Arim growled. Star heard a hiss from inside the cell before the animal started talking.

"Yes. And why do you think I would accept? Half the stuff you were telling me made no sense, so why should I even think twice of it?" The prisoner's voice was hoarse and raspy. It was hard to tell whether it was a girl or a boy talking.

Arim chuckled. "First, everything I have told you, no matter how crazy it sounds, it's true. As to why you should accept, the answer is simple. You can either stand by my side, with everything you could possibly want or die in this dark, cold prison. After all, you won't last much longer without any food."

Star looked closer at the cell and realized there was no food, only a small cup of water. Whatever Arim wanted from this prisoner was very important to him.

The animal growled. "Well, I don't care! What can you give me? Your just a phantom, and there is nothing I could possibly want worth joining you!" Suddenly the animal broke out into a fit of coughing.

Arim waiting until the prisoner had stopped coughing before talking again. "Well, here is what I can give you. I can give you something you never had before... a purpose. You were never loved in Jamaa, without a single purpose to serve. Jammers were nice to you just to spare your feelings. But did you ever feel truly loved? Did you ever feel like you were really wanted? Did you ever feel truly special, that you ever had a real purpose? I think you know the answer to that. It is a simple NO. By joining me, I can give you a purpose. I can give you what you never had before. Something no one in Jamaa can give you. By coming to stand by my side, you can have what you have always wanted. A purpose. And once I get rid of them.. you can have anything you could ever want." Arim seemed to smile as he waited for an answer from the prisoner.

There was a long time of silence before an answer came from the dark prison. "How do you know that? You're phantom, you can't come anywhere near Jamaa."

Arim snorted. "I know what happens in Jamaa. You'd be wrong to think I don't have at least a few spies in Jamaa. Now give me an answer. This is your last chance." Arim hissed.

"You know what.. I don't care. Go ahead and do what you want.. I don't want any part in it." The animal growled.

Arim sighed as if he knew this was going to happen. "Fine. Have it your way. Guards, take away her water and chain her down. If she escapes or harms anyone, you have permission to kill her." Arim ordered. He turned to hover away as the other guard grabbed the prisoners water dish through the bars.

Just before Arim disappeared from sight, the prisoner called out. "Wait! I accept your deal... and agree to do anything you tell me to."

Arim stopped, then slowly turned around, a triumphant look in his eye. He hovered over to the cell and held out his tentacle. "Welcome to the phantoms side." A scarred paw reached out to shake his tentacle.

Then suddenly, the whole cavern began to fade to darkness, and Star woke up with a jolt. Panting, she looked around her room, but Infinity and Mari hadn't moved from their spots. She had her real body back, but she knew she had to tell Infinity and Mari about this.

It may have just been a dream.. but she felt as if it meant something. And if it did, then it was important.

Chapter 3: Training

Star yawned and padded outside. The sun was shining, and a cool breeze drifted through the air. She was going into the backyard to practice her powers with Mari, Infinity and maybe even Mia, now that he knew about their powers. But they could only practice minor abilities because, although there was a slim chance Arim was alive, they could alert Arim of their presence.

Infinity and Mari were sitting in the shade of one of the many maple trees that lined Miaklianne's yard. Miaklianne was standing beside the fence, quietly watching them with interest. The ground was littered with fallen leaves. The maples lining Mia's yard had only a few clumps of golden brown leaves left in their branches. The leaves crunched under Star's paws as she walked through the gate and rushed into the yard.

"Sorry I'm late!" She said, sitting beside Infinity.

"It's fine." Mari muttered. She flew into the sunlight and turned to face Infinity and Star. She noted that Mari's wing was completely healed now. Since Miaklianne had revealed his magical healing powers, he had probably fully healed Mari's wing.

"So" Mari started "As I've probably told you before, in order to trigger your powers you need to do a certain thing, which can be different for the kind of magic you're using. Every Elemental has three types of powers; attack, defense, and vision. Attack powers are triggered by putting all your focus on your target, then thrusting out your paw or talons toward them, or an action similar to that. Defense magic is hardest to do, it requires being somewhat calm, and you have to be very alert and put all your focus on what you are trying to defend. Defensive powers can be very different from each other, but all have the same purpose. And lastly, visions. Visions normally aren't triggered when you want them to, but it is possible to give yourself a vision. It requires a lot of focus, and you need to be relaxed. While doing what is needed to get a vision isn't as hard to do as defensive magic, most times you don't actually get a vision. Visions most commonly occur in dreams, against your will. Now, lets try some attacks."

Visions occur in dreams? If that was true, then what could Star's dream have meant?

"Wait! Hold on, can I say something?" Star blurted out. Mari turned around to face her, folding her wings over her chest. "What do you want?"

Star hesitated. "Erm... what exactly happens.. in visions? Do they mean anything?"

Mari nodded. "While I don't know as much about visions, I do know that they always mean something, important or not. Sometimes they show things that will happen in the future, the past, and maybe the present. Some visions show things that don't actually happen, but they show something that means something else. But that is all I know." Mari explained.

Suddenly Star wasn't so sure about telling Mari her dream in front of everyone else. What if the dream was showing something, but meant something even worse? Or perhaps she didn't need to worry about it, and it had happened a long time ago. But it could also be something that was going to happen in the future.. and that would mean Arim had survived the explosion. But Mari had also said visions could mean something that wasn't very important. She could be worrying everyone about something that wasn't to worry about. I should tell this to Mari alone. Star decided.

"Anything else you need to ask?" Mari asked.

"Actually... yes." Star began, picking her words carefully. "What if Arim is out for us... the chances he survived that explosion are slim, but then why else are we being so careful about not using too much of our magic? Do you think he is alive?" Star was suddenly worried she could have angered Mari.

"Do I? No. And why would he be out for us? Did you have a vision?" Mari narrowed her eyes, looking suspicious.

Star hesitated, taken back by her reaction. "Not... really. But... I think he would be coming after us because of something he said to me. He said I would be very useful to him, and I know that meant more than just being his slave." Star remembered Arim had said something getting rid of them in her dream, but she decided not to mention that. "Arim was also pleased when I almost turned into a Phantimal, AKA the Unknown. And after the explosion, the phantoms started chasing us. Arim could have been alive and sent them after us to he could capture us again. The phantoms chased us all the way to the border of Jamaa, and they never would have done that unless Arim ordered them to." Star hoped Mari would understand.

There was a long moment of deadly silence as Mari glared at Star. Finally, she spoke. "That is true, but Arim never could have survived that explosion after we beat him up. It was bad luck that the phantoms chased us to Jamaa. Arim is dead, Star, and there is no denying it."

Star quietly growled and glared at Mari. "But your not listening, the evidence says-"

"NO! You're not listening! Arim is dead, Star! DEAD!" Mari screeched, ruffling her feathers angrily. Before Star could respond, Mari turned away and flew into the center of the yard. "Now, as I was saying before.." she glared at Star "..we are going to practice our attacks. So get over here and practice your attacks on the trees." She gestured with her wing to three trees in front of her. Miaklianne didn't look very pleased to have the trees in his yard getting destroyed, but no one dared bother Mari right then.

Infinity padded over to stand beside Mari and shot Star a sympathetic glance, too quick for Mari to see. Star stood next to Infinity, opposite of Mari. She faced the large maple in front of her and closed her eyes briefly to let her anger drain away. She concentrated on the tree in front of her, putting all her focus on her target. Then she thrust out her paw and a thin beam of light exploded from it. The beam of light soared right past the tree, but left a burn mark along the trunk.

Star turned to see Mari staring at her angrily. "Work on your aim. A blow like that couldn't harm a snail." She let out an angry sigh and glanced at Infinity, who slammed his paws to the ground, and the leaves in the tree shriveled as the water was drained out of them.

Star growled quietly and turned toward the tree in front of her. She concentrated on the center of its trunk, but her focus was clouded by anger. Star threw her paw toward the tree with as much force as she dared. For a split second, nothing happened. Then pain flared up from her paw and spread through her whole body. Star cried out, and suddenly her world turned black.

It seemed like forever once the darkness faded. Star was in Kimbara Outback, looking down across the desert from atop a cliff. As usual, there were almost no Jammers there, but something seemed off. Nothing moved, except the waterfall, and there wasn't a single animal, wild or tame, which was unusual. Suddenly the whole land shuddered.

Then there was another shudder, even stronger then the last, that seemed to shake everything for miles. The ground split open, revealing a never-ending pit of darkness. Cracks appeared all over the ground, splitting into huge crevices and ravines. The waterfall poured into one of the pits, until a rock covered the water. The earthquake got even stronger until the hospital collapsed and the debris fell into the dark cracks in the ground. Huge chunks of rock jutted out of the ground, creating even more cracks along the ground.

But the terrifying earthquake didn't seem very terrifying. There was something powerful and magical about it, as if an ancient power was rising from one the endless pits in the ground.

Then, without warning, a giant black tentacle covered Kimbara, crushing it. Star's vision faded to darkness again, and she could feel a dull throbbing pain in her head. She could hear faint voices somewhere near her, talking in urgent voices. Then her eyes snapped open to see Mari, Infinity and Miaklianne standing over her. She was still outside, laying on the ground.

"Oh my word! Star, are you okay?" Mari asked.

"Of course she's not okay! She just randomly blacked out, do you think that means she's okay?" Infinity yowled.

"I... I feel okay..." Star muttered. She sat up and rubbed her head, wondering what in Jamaa just happened. Her head still hurt, but other than that she felt fine.

"What happened?" Mia asked quietly, looking concerned. "You aren't hurt."

Star didn't know the answer to that. What exactly had happened? She had been trying to use her powers on the tree, when pain shot up her arm and she blacked out. She could have twisted her arm, but that wouldn't have been enough to knock her unconscious. Besides, Miaklianne said she wasn't injured, and wouldn't explain why her head hurt. But then the weird dream she had? Or had that been a vision?

"So? What happened?" Mari snapped. The anger had returned to her voice, and it sounded like she was still furious with Star for whatever reason.

"I don't know. I was trying to use my powers, and then my arm hurt...."

"Then you misused your powers. Be careful next time." Mari grumbled.

"Hey, she never finished." Infinity snapped, nudging Mari's wing with his paw.

Star sighed gratefully and continued. "As I was saying, pain spread up through my arm and then I blacked out, and... something happened." Star expected someone to interrupt, but they were all staring intently at her. "I had a dream... that I was in Kimbara Outback. Nothing was there, and everything was still and silent. Then I felt a shudder, and an earthquake struck. Huge chunks of rock shot up from out of the ground. Everything was torn to pieces, rocks were flying everywhere, and before it could get any worse, a huge phantom tentacle grabbed Kimbara and crushed everything. Then it all went black." Star took a deep breath and looked up at the surprised faces of her friends.

"Star, that wasn't a dream." Mari said quietly. "That was a vision."

Chapter 4: A Sign

Chapter 4 sign

"A... vision?" Star muttered. Two visions in one day? Mari had to be kidding!

"What else do you think I said? Yes, a vision." Mari answered, looking deadly serious.

"Sounds more like a sign to me. A sign to show us something." Infinity remarked, staring up at the sky. "Something important, that's for sure."

Mari shook her head in frustration. "Whatever it means, Star must have been using her powers wrong in order to trigger it. You need to try better next time, Star." She gave Star a quick glare, who responded with a quiet growl. Why was Mari so cranky?

Miaklianne looked eager to break the tension between Mari and Star. Quickly, he added "You should rest, Star. You look like you're in pain." Star nodded, remembering how much her head hurt.

Mari nodded as well. "Mia is right. Why don't you go rest in your room. Infinity, go with her. And while your at it, try to decipher the vision." She gave them a quick nod and lifted off into the air. Star watched her fly past the tops of the trees and wondered where she was going.

Infinity nudged Star to her paws and walked inside the house. Star followed him, with Miaklianne beside her. Star couldn't help but wondering why she had had two visions in one day. Maybe there was some sort of mistake, or was one just a normal dream? And what had Star said that had angered Mari so much? Star entered her room with Mia just a few paces behind her.

"Do you need anything for the pain? I can only heal wounds and broken bones because of the way my powers work, so you would need to take a medication for it." Miaklianne asked, sitting down beside Star.

"It's okay, I'm fine." Star answered. It was true, her headache was beginning to fade. Mia nodded and left the room.

"So." Infinity mewed after a while of silence. "What in Jamaa did you say that ticked Mari off like that? I've never seen her so angry before. I mean, she can be pretty stern, but not like that."

Star shrugged. "I don't know. It might have been something about Arim. She seemed determined to make me believe Arim is dead, but I don't understand why. Arim is her brother, why would she try to convince me, and herself, that he is gone forever? I know he is evil, but she still has to care about him a little bit." Star sighed and looked out the window, expecting to see Mari flying around out there.

"What do you think it means?" Infinity suddenly blurted out.

"What?

"The vision you had. What do you think it means?"

Star shrugged. "I really have no idea. But the whole thing unnerves me.. the earthquake, how silent Kimbara was, and the giant tentacle crushing it all. The only thing it seems to be showing is the end of the world."

"If it were the end of the world, I'd think we would all have visions of that." Infinity suddenly looked guilty, but only for a split second. He continued "And didn't you say something else happened? Something about rocks?" Infinity asked.

Star nodded. "Yeah. Big, sharp pieces of rock were coming out of the ground. Why do you ask?"

"Just wondering. Was there anything else that happened? Any little details that could mean something?" He looked up at Star expectantly, curling his tail around his paws.

"Well..." Star muttered, "There was something odd about the earthquake. It felt... magical. It didn't feel very natural. There was definitely something magical about it."

Infinity perked up and snapped his fingers. "Thats it! The earthquake wasn't a natural cause, something else caused it. Something with magic. Perhaps... an Elemental?"

Star let that sink in. Had she really had a vision that they were going to find one of the Elementals?

"That must mean they're in Kimbara. And we need to hurry, or the next part of my vision will come true." Star stood up. She was about to leave and tell Mari, when she suddenly came in.

"I have bad news." She said. "Miaklianne won't have enough gems to support all of us anymore. We'll need to leave soon."

Infinity came up behind Star. "Actually, that's good news."

Mari stared at him. "What?"

"Tell her, Star."

Chapter 5: The Hidden Camp

Chapter 5 hidden

Star stuffed her things in her suitcase. They had all decided to pack their items, take as many gems as Mia would allow, and set off to Kimbara. They had agreed to take a few weapons too, in case they met some phantoms. They still hadn't mastered their powers, especially Star, so they needed a way to defend themselves. Mari still had her ice sword she had taken from the Phantom prisons. Infinity and Star had bought swords from Jam Mart Clothing.

Star put on the leather strap and placed the sword in its sheath. She adjusted the buckle and looked in the mirror. She had to admit, it looked pretty good on her.
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"Hey Star! Quit admiring yourself and finish packing!" Infinity teased, peeking into the room.

"I'm not admiring myself."

"Mhmm?" He smiled.

"Go away." She said, then laughed.

"Aww, fine." He chuckled and closed the door.

Star looked back into the mirror. She reminded herself of the heroes she would read out in books when she was younger. Superheroes with magical powers, bravery that went to no limit, and the selflessness to risk their lives for anyone. The heroes that traveled Jamaa, invading phantom factories and defeating evil villains. She might as well be one of those superheroes in the books. Here she was, about to travel Jamaa to find the remaining Elementals, stop Arim, and defeat the ultimate enemy....

But now that she thought about, who was the ultimate enemy? It couldn't be Arim, because he was an Elemental who had been turned into a phantom. Why had Mira called back the Elementals when there wasn't even an enemy to defeat? Zios had originally gave the Elementals their powers so they could protect Jamaa from evil. Once the phantoms came, the Elementals were killed by them because their powers couldn't stop the pollution they caused. Then the Alphas rose to power, and the Elementals were never seen again. The elemental power only passed on from animal to animal, and Star, Mari, and Infinity were the first ones with elemental powers for thousands of years. If they had powers, that meant the other elements must be out there.

Star looked away from the mirror and zipped up her small suitcase. She had packed food, water, bandages, and other things she may need. Plus Infinity's and Mari's luggage, they had enough food and water to last them a whole week.

Star slung the suitcase over her shoulder and ran into the living room. Infinity and Mari were waiting for her.

"Hey, what took so long?" Mari asked. She didn't seem to be angry at Star anymore, but it seemed like she was trying to avoid talking about what had happened.

"Sorry. I was thinking about something." She responded. "Where's Mia?"

"Here." Miaklianne came into the room with a suitcase in his paws. "I'm coming with."

"Woah, woah, woah! slow down there. You can't come with." Mari said.

"Yes I can. My healing powers can be very useful, and you may need some extra help out there." He answered, standing up straight and waving his striped tail.

"But..." Star stuttered. Then she realized that he was right. He may not know how to fight, but his healing powers would be incredibly useful.

"We should let him come. He is right, actually." Infinity answered her thoughts.

Mari sighed. "Fine. But what about the gem-"

"8,900 gems right here." Miaklianne cut in, waving a few bags of gems in the air.

Mari stared at him, eyes wide. "That's..... a lot."

He nodded. Without another word, he turned off all the lights in the house and walked outside. Star and the others followed him, and he locked the door behind them.

"Alrighty, to Kimbara we go." Infinity sang happily. He checked a map on the wall of a building, tapping his chin thoughtfully.

"Oookay... I think we have to go this way." He muttered, pointing down the road.

"Think?" Mari questioned. She flew up behind him and looked at the map. "Oh, you're actually right."

"Of course I am! Now, let's go. I'm not sure I liked that last part of Star's vision, and I want to get there before it happens."

Star thought about that. The giant black tentacle crushing Kimbara Outback like you would crumple a piece of paper wasn't very reassuring. She ran to catch up to the others and followed close behind. She turned around and saw Mia behind her.

After a few minutes of walking, a carriage pulled by two Clydesdales passed by.

"Hey! Could we get a ride?" Star asked, waving her paws in the air.

"Sure. 150 gems." One of the Clydesdales answered.

Star nodded and fished out some gems from her suitcase. She handed them to the Clydesdale, who grabbed them in his hoof. "Hop on."

Star opened the door and jumped in. She motioned for the others to follow, and, one by one, they all climbed in. It was a lot larger inside than she expected, with four seats facing each other.

"So, where to?" The other Clydesdale, a female, asked.

"Can you take us to Kimbara?" Infinity asked.

"Mmm, we can do that. You want us to bring you to a certain house, or just the main square?" The female horse responded.

"Err... main square, please."

" 'Kay." The two clydesdales turned around and took down the road, going at incredible speed. The carriage bumped along.

Infinity looked like he was going to die of fear. His eyes were completely dilated, and he was grabbing onto the seat as if his life depended on it. "N-not so fast please!"

"Oh come on, we will get there in no time if we keep going at this speed!" Star interjected.

"Well, my stomach is caught in my throat because of all these bumps! Slow down!" He yelled.

The two clydesdales immediately slowed down. They were still going fast, but not as fast as before. Infinity seemed to relax, though he was still a bit tense. After twenty minutes or so, they crossed over the bridge and into the main square of Kimbara Outback.

Star opened the door and hopped onto the hot sands of Kimbara. The sun was blazing hot and bright in the sky. A waterfall cascaded down from an overhanging cliff. Gabby's Animal Hospital was nestled in between two orange cliffs. Short wooden buildings were laid around it, and it looked like they were building a new shop. Orange rocks were scattered around, along with a few scraggly trees and bushes.

Infinity jumped down behind her. His face had a tint of green, and he looked sick. His ears were drooping down. Mari flew out of the carriage and landed on the top of a clump of orange rocks. Miaklianne was the last one out, and he just stared around in wonder.

"Happy to be in service." The male clydesdale waved to them and trotted back to Jamaa.

"Thanks!" Star called to them.

"I'm not thanking them. That was horrendous!" Infinity whined.

"Oh, come on. It wasn't that bad."

"Yes it was!" Infinity flopped down on the hot ground.

"Stop complaining Infinity, we have work to do. Try to use your powers to sense where the Elemental is." Mari scolded. She ruffled her feathers and looked up at the clear sky.

Star closed her eyes and tried to do what she had done at the phantom prison. She took a long, deep breath to calm herself, and concentrated on her powers. She'd only done it a few times, most of which she had done during training and totally failed.

The sounds of birds and crickets chirping in the distance muted. The scents of Kimbara seemed to fade around her. The heat coming from the dirt under her paws cooled down. She felt a familiar tingling sensation in her head. Then, it stopped.

Star looked at the others. They shook their heads.

Star sighed and looked around. She noticed the same bunny she had seen earlier wandering around. Suddenly an idea struck her mind. "We could walk around the houses. Maybe we will sense the Elemental when we get close to him or her."

"Maybe." Infinity muttered. Mari shrugged.

Star sighed. Having no other ideas, she walked up to the bunny.

"Hey, can I ask you a question?" she asked.

The bunny sighed. "This is about the carrots, right?"

"No. But I'm still angry about that."

"Hey, I'm sorry! I just can't help it. I dunno why I do it, but I do."

Star raised an eyebrow, but forgave her anyway. She couldn't keep a grudge for long. "Alright, I forgive you. But to my actual question, have you seen anything... strange going on?"

The bunny tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Hmm. Well, Boomer, the kangaroo alpha, has forbid anyone from going to the outskirts of Kimbara. I'm not sure why, it doesn't make sense. But nothing else seems off, and I've only been here for a day."

20180818 201655

This is Carrot (art by me, character by AdorableEspurr)

"That's okay. Thank you!" Star turned around to walk away, then stopped. She turned around. "Oh, by the way, my name is Star."

"The name's Carrot. Nice too meet ya." Carrot tipped her flower crown like a hat and hopped away, to a nearby tree.

Star smiled to herself and ran off to the others. "Hey! I think I got a clue!"

Infinity was lying on a rock. At the sound of Star's voice, he sat up so quick that he almost fell off. "What? What is it?"

Star stopped at the foot of the rock, panting. "Someone told me that Boomer has banned Jammers from going near the outskirts of Kimbara. It has to be something important."

Infinity's shoulders slumped. "I hope you're not suggesting what I think you are. What if someone catches us?"

"There's barely anyone here, Infinity. What else are we to do?" Mari asked.

"Because....." he trailed off. After a few second, he sighed. "Ugh, you're right. But it hasn't even been a day and we are breaking an Alpha's rules!"

"Better than being in a prison," Star muttered. She looked out across the arid biome, expecting to see something odd. But it was just as hot and lonely as always. The only movement was the occasional kangaroo bouncing around or a tumbleweed rolling across the rocky ground.

"What about your opinion?" Infinity asked Miaklianne. Mia was sitting on a small rock, sifting through his suitcase. He simply shrugged and continued looking through his suitcase.

"Should we wait until nightfall?" Mari suggested.

"No, we shouldn't wait that long. We should do it at midday, when it is hottest. Everyone will be inside instead of roasting in the sun," Star answered.

"But that's right now," Infinity stated, sitting up on the rock.

"I know." Star was already walking away. Mia zipped up his suitcase, slung it over his shoulder, and followed Star. Mari turned to Infinity and shrugged, then flew off after the two. She stayed up high, where she was less likely to be seen. Infinity sighed and leaped off the rock, easily catching up to Star.

They passed by a small village made up of small wooden houses. It was made similarly to the main square of Jamaa township, with a clothing and den shop, a recreation of Club Geoz, and a fountain. Instead of a Mira statue, there was a well that looked empty. The fountain was only spurting a tiny bit of water.

Infinity, Mia and Star snuck behind the houses, not trying to look too suspicious but also trying not to be easily seen. Infinity stopped at the well and looked down sadly.

"There isn't a drop of water in here," He said quietly.

"It all evaporated," Star said, coming up behind him. Mia followed, looking around to make sure no one was watching.

"No, I mean there isn't water anywhere in the dirt around here. This is a bad spot to put a well, there was never any water in here."

Star stifled a gasp. "H-how do you know that?"

Infinity suddenly looked surprised, then confused. "I'm not sure. It... it must be my powers, I think."

"That's pretty cool. I wish I could do that." Star muttered.

"Oh, come on. I know you have cool powers just waiting to be discovered." Infinity smiled warmly and rested his paw on her shoulder.

"We should go." Miaklianne said. A second later, the door of a house opened and someone came out. Star pulled away from Infinity and walked down the path that lead away from the village, trying to look as normal as possible. Mia ran up behind her, along with Infinity.

"So," Infinity started after they had gotten far from the village. "Where is the border of Kimbara?"

Mia tapped his shoulder and pointed to a sign not far from the group. As they got closer, Star realized that it said 'By order of Boomer the kangaroo Alpha, DO NOT PASS.' Behind that was a tall wooden fence that looked very worn down.

"Yikes," Infinity muttered as they got closer. "Do we climb it?"

"I guess," Star answered. She looked up at the fence. "I'm really starting to regret this. What if it has nothing to do with the Elementals? What if we get in trouble and get put in prison and then Arim do-"

"Woah! Calm down! You're the one who got us into this, you don't get to be the one to complain," Infinity said with a laugh.

Miaklianne came up beside them. "Should we look for weak spots?" he asked. He placed his front paw on the fence and gently pushed. Instantly, the section of the wall fell down. Mia stepped back, startled.

"Well..." Star walked over to the fallen piece of the fence. "Looks like that's how we get in. Thanks, Mia."

Mia shrugged. Without waiting, he hopped through and started across the dry wasteland. Outside of Kimbara, the land was drier and had fewer plants. Star stepped through slowly, eyeing the rotting fence. Infinity ran through behind her.

Star looked up and saw Mari in the distance. She was circling in the air, and after a few minutes she turned left, the opposite way Star was. Star sighed and looked out across the distance. And that's when she heard it, a faint roar. Everyone froze. Seconds later, Miaklianne pointed to a plume of smoke drifting up in the distance. It didn't take long before everyone was charging forward at full speed. When Star looked up, she saw Mari change direction and turn toward the smoke. She had seen it too.

As Star got closer, she realized it was a camp in the distance. A small firepit in the center, with a poorly built tent and dry logs for seats. Papers and supplies were scattered across the ground, as well as a little bit of blood. There was a large scorch mark on the ground in the middle of the small camp, with a little flame still alight. That was where the smoke was coming from.

Star skidded to a stop in front of the camp. It was deserted. Infinity and Mia came up behind her and instantly started surveying the camp.

"Star, see if you can smell anything!" Infinity demanded.

"Oh, right." Star put her suitcase on the ground, then pushed her nose to the ground and started sniffing. Upon closer inspection, the logs were rotting and purplish. Star sniffed one of the logs and reeled back. It stank of phantoms. In fact, the whole camp smelled of the phantom's horrid stench.

"This is definitely a phantom camp," Star muttered. She observed one of the splatters of blood on the ground. It was fresh. It also had a tint of purple, meaning it was phantom blood. But there was also blood from some sort of animal that Star couldn't identify. Mia poked some papers beside her, but didn't move them.

"Hey, you might wanna look at this," He said. Star padded over and read one of the pieces of paper. It read:

☑ Sett cAmp nEXT too KimBARah

☑ fINd weekNesses

☐ MOOVe too aPPondail

☐ fIND weekNESSes

☐ reeport too ARIMz neerezt cAmp (coLLect TRappIN stuFFZ)

Star's heart stopped when she read the second part. Find Kimbara's weaknesses? What was Arim planning?

"I think there is something else," Mia muttered. Infinity popped up beside him and started reading the note. Miaklianne wiped a blob of phantom goop off the paper to reveal one more thing.

☐ FINd shaDOE keeluur an BRinG TOO aRim

Star gasped. She stepped back and closed her eyes, trying to slow down her heartbeat. This wasn't good. Not good at all.

"What did you find?" Mari flew down beside them and looked around at the abandoned camp.

"Mari..." Star paused and turned to look at her.

"The phantoms are hunting down the ShadowKiller."

Chapter 6: Boomer

Chapter 6 boom

"How do they even know if it survived the explosion?" Mari asked.

"I don't know," Star muttered, looking around. "But we need to keep searching. There could be something else here that could tell us what Arim is planning. Mia, show her the letter."

Miaklianne picked up the letter and gave it to Mari. She gasped when she saw it. "Oh, great Mira! Do you think they are planning an invasion?"

"I hope not," Infinity mumbled. He peeked inside the tent. Star ran up beside him and shoved her head in. There were supplies scattered across the ground, such as binoculars, spears, ropes, and splatters of goop. There was a shelf that had been tipped over, and a small, ripped cot on the left wall. On the right wall was another cot that had been flipped over.

"This place looks like it was ransacked. And it wasn't that long ago," Infinity observed. He padded inside and lifted the fallen shelf. There were more supplies underneath that had fallen out, and a few books. Infinity picked one up and looked at the title.

"What does it say?" Star asked.

"I dunno. It's written in Phantom." He picked up another book, but it was also written in the phantom language. Star backed out of the tent and accidentally bumped into Miaklianne, who was holding something.

"Sorry!" Star yelped.

"It's okay," He said. "But look at what I found." He showed Star the thing he had been holding. At first it looked like phantom goop, but when she looked closer, Star realized it was a pitch-black scale. "Where did you find that?"

Miaklianne pointed to one of the splatters of blood on the ground. Star nodded, grabbing the scale, and ran over to Mari. She was looking through the papers on the ground, but sadly, most of them were wrtten in Phantom. A few looked like they had been ripped out of books.

"Mari, look at what Mia found," Star said to her. Mari looked at the scale and grimaced.

"We need to tell Boomer about this. If Arim is planning an invasion, or something worse, we need to let the Alphas know," Mari explained.

"But he would know that we snuck out here against his orders!" Infinity interjected, running up behind them.

"We have to. If Arim is planning an invasion, keeping this secret could destroy Jamaa! We need to tell him. Right now. Star, put the evidence in your bag." Without waiting for a response, Mari jumped into the air and started flying.

"Ugh," Infinity complained.

"Oh, come on, Infinity. Give me the list, would you?' Star took a plastic back out of her bag and slipped the scale inside, then the list. She put the plastic bag in her suitcase, zipped it up, slung it over her shoulder, and ran after Mari.

....

Star caught up to Mari easily, leaving Infinity and Miaklianne far behind. She looked up and Mari flying just overhead and thought about their argument they had had earlier. She didn't want to start up another argument, but she had to know what was going on with Mari.

"Hey, I guess this counts as evidence that Arim is alive," Star said as calmly as she could. She hadn't tried to, but it came out a bit rudely.

"Yeah. Maybe I was wrong," she said quietly.

"Why did you think Arim was dead in the first place, anyway?"

Several minutes passed before Mari flew a little lower and slowed her pace so she was flying right beside Star. "Okay, look. I knew Arim was alive, but... I tried to convince myself he was dead. I didn't want to beleive that he was alive."

"What?! Why? He's your brother!" Star exclaimed.

Mari looked behind her, where Infinity and Miaklianne were still out of hearing distance. "Yes. But that just might be the problem. When we fought him back in the factory, I was... I was scared to hurt him. I didn't want to, even though I knew I had to. And that isn't the only problem. I've said many times that Zios called the Elementals back for a purpose, and that purpose must be a common enemy only we can defeat. But Arim is also one of us, and how are we supposed to stop evil when one of our own is trying to kill us? For some reason, Arim kept his powers when he turned into a phantom. That means that no one else can become the Thunder Elemental." Mari paused and took a deep breath. She had tears in her eyes.

"Star... I know this doesn't sound like me, but I'm scared. I don't know what to do. The only way we can defeat whatever Zios sent us here to defeat is to kill Arim. But... I don't want to kill him. He's my brother. I know he's still in there somewhere... I can feel it. I don't want to kill him if there is a chance to get him back. I told myself he was dead because that is the only way anything could possibly work out." Mari slowed down and squeezed her eyes shut.

"Mari..." Star slowed to a stop and Mari did the same. "I can't imagine what you are going through right now. But pretending Arim is dead isn't going to change anything."

Mari nodded. "I know that now. I should have known before. Just... don't tell anyone. I'm sure there is a way through it, but I don't want you to tell anyone. Please."

"Don't worry, I won't." Star turned and saw Infinity and Mia coming toward them. Mari quickly wiped the tears out of her eyes and took a deep breath.

Infinity came to a stop in front of Star, with Miaklianne close behind. "Hey, why did you stop?"

"We were just talking," Mari said. Every trace of how sad she had been before was gone. "Come on, we should hurry."

....

It didn't take long for them to get back to the main square of Kimbara. Star saw Carrot resting in the shade of a tree and ran over to her.

"Hey, is there any way to contact Boomer? We have something important to tell him."

Carrot looked up at her and noticed Mia, Infinity, and Mari standing behind her. She stood up slowly. "Um, yeah... What's so important?" she asked.

"Just something we found. How to we contact Boomer?"

Carrot gave her a suspicious glance, but didn't question her. "I'll show you. Follow me." Carrot started to hop away. Star and the others followed closely behind.

Slave laura

This is Laura

Carrot came up to a small wooden cottage surrounded by an old wooden fence. Carrot knocked on the door and waited. Only a few minutes later a tan and brown kangaroo with white swirls opened the door. She had bright pink eyes, a yellow head flower, and a pearl bracelet. "Oh, hello. Do you need something?" she asked in a sweet voice.

"Yeah. These guys need to tell Boomer something," Carrot answered.

"It's urgent," Star added.

The kangaroo looked at each of them. "It's not an autograph, is it?"

Infinity raised an eyebrow. "Are autographs urgent?"

"That's what the last Jammers said."

"Oh. Um... this is actually urgent. It's about phantoms," Infinity said.

The kangaroo gasped. "I'll get him right away!" With that, she closed the door.

"That was weird," Infinity mumbled.

"Who was she?" Star asked Carrot.

"Her name is Laura. She works for Boomer, which is why I asked her because she can get in touch with Boomer the quickest. There are other ways to contact him, but they usually take a while."

A second later, an expensive-looking car drove up. Boomer, the kangaroo Alpha himself, jumped out.

"See?" Carrot said with a laugh.

Slave boomer

This is Boomer. (At least, what I think he looked like.)

Boomer was muscular, large, reddish brown, with a red arrow pattern going down his back and tail. His underbelly was swamp green, along with his hair. He had bright lime eyes with a lime diamond pattern below his eyes. He wore a leather strap dotted with emeralds that held a large leather pouch that Star assumed was filled with boomseeds. He also had a leather band on his wrist dotted with emeralds and a spear with a large emerald as the head. Star also noticed that he had two scars on his leg.

Boomer came up to them and looked them over. Laura came out of the house.

"What is it that you want? Something about phantoms?" he asked in a deep voice. He crossed his arms.

Star gulped. "Erm... yeah. We found something you might want to see."

"Lets talk inside," he said, hopping past them and going into Laura's house. Star and the others followed him, but Star noticed that Carrot stayed outside. She stopped in the doorway and looked back at Carrot.

"You can come inside," Star said.

Carrot shrugged. "Nah... it's fine. I can just leave."

"No, you don't have to. You can wait outside, if that's fine with you."

Carrot made a small smile. "Okay."

Star padded inside and let Laura close the door. Laura's house was very nice on the inside. There was a large room that was lit by a stone fireplace on the far wall. In the left corner were two sofas, each on one side of a wooden table. On the left wall was an opening to what looked like the kitchen. There was a shelf on the right wall, with a closed door next to it. Despite how comfortable it looked, something felt off.

Boomer sat down on one of the sofas and crossed his legs, leaning his spear on the side of the table. Laura gestured for them to sit down. Star sat down on the cushion farthest from Boomer, in fear of getting poked by his spear. Miaklianne, Infinity, and Mari sat down on the other sofa. Laura didn't sit down.

"So, who are you guys?" Boomer asked.

"I'm Star, and these are my friends Infinity, Mari, and Miaklianne.

"Alright. Now, tell me what you found," Boomer demanded.

Star unzipped her suitcase and pulled out the plastic bag with the list and scale in it. "We found an abandoned phantom camp along the borders of Kim-" Star stopped with she saw the look on Boomer's face.

"You were at the border of Kimbara? Against my orders?" he snarled.

"We were looking for something," Star said quickly. "And we saw smoke in the distance, so we went to check it out-"

"You didn't inform me of this and just ran out there on your own?!" Boomer yelled.

"Look, we're sorry," Miaklianne interrupted. "But that doesn't matter right now. You need to see what we saw there."

Boomer stayed silent for a minute, then slowly relaxed. "Fine. Tell we what you saw."

Star gave Mia a quick smile and turned back to Boomer. "As I said, we found an abandoned camp that definitely belonged to the phantoms. It looked like it was sabotaged, stuff was scattered everywhere. There was blood and goop all over, and a huge scorch mark on the ground that was still smoking. We also found this," Star pulled the list and the scale out of the plastic bag and set them on the table.

Boomer picked up the list and read it. A minute later, he grimaced.

"They must be planning an invasion," Mari suggested.

Boomer nodded and put the list on the table. "Just as I feared."

"What do you mean?" Infinity asked.

"I closed off the borders because there had been several reports of phantoms there. Also-" he stopped suddenly.

"What?" Star asked.

"Don't tell anyone what I am about to say. I don't want to cause a panic." He paused. "Several eagle patrols came back just a few days ago and reported that the phantom Badlands had spread from the northeast down to the west, only a few miles from Kimbara Outback. After the phantom sightings, I knew that they were planning something. The phantom Badlands spread very slowly, which means that there must have been a ton of phantoms around the west side for the Badlands to have spread there so quickly."

Star gave the others a nervous glance. Arim had to be behind this.

"Also, who is Arim?" Boomer asked suddenly.

"He's a powerful phantom general. Mari, Infinity and I were his prisoners for a while. And in case your wondering, the ShadowKiller is a dangerous and powerful hybrid they created that escaped their factory."

Boomer looked closely at the scale. "Does this belong to that 'ShadowKiller'?"

Star was about to say no when she realized that he might be right. It hadn't even registered to her before.

"Maybe."

Boomer nodded and stood up. "Show me the camp. Right now."

....
After Star had told Carrot what happened, leaving out the part about the eagles seeing the Badlands expanding, Boomer had Star and Infinity show him where the camp was. He told Mari, Mia, and Carrot to stay behind at Laura's. Now, Star and Infinity were sitting in the backseats of Boomer's limo while he drove to the camp. Star had expected someone else to be driving for Boomer, but surprisingly, Boomer was actually the one driving.

In no time, they had arrived. Boomer quickly looked over the camp and observed the splatters of blood. Several minutes later, he came back to Star and Infinity, who were waiting patiently just outside the car.

"Definitely an ambush. I'm not sure what made the scorch mark, but it is most likely from some type of phantom. A very large phantom. Now, let's go to Appondale."

"Wait, Appondale? Why?" Infinity questioned.

"If the phantoms are alive, they most likely went to Appondale. That was the third part on their list. Now, hop inside and tell me if you see anything suspicious." With that, Boomer jumped into the car.

Infinity gave Star a questioning look, and she just shrugged. They jumped into the car and drove across the arid landscape. Eventually, the rocky ground turned into grassland as they entered the savanna of Appondale. They stayed along the border, but soon saw a small village in the distance as they got closer to the mainland.