Smoggit’s house shook the night Xocotí arrived. It was like an earthquake, only the sky shook too. Pamela shot out of bed, clutching the sheets, as Smoggit raced into the room.
“Pamela, get down!” he said.
She ducked her head down right as the roof was sucked off the rafters. She found herself looking up into a dust cloud, a tornado, a vortex looming threateningly above her head. At the center of the vortex was the Queen of the Dragon-lands: Xocotí. The Queen glared down at her with flaming eyes and, with a rotten, boney finger, pointed at her.
Pamela screamed. Xocotí lunged forward, fast as a missile, toward her. Smoggit teleported into the hair, disappearing, reappearing, meeting her in the air. He balled up his fist and, with a limb full of lightning, struck her.
She reeled back, shook her head, and lunged forward again.
Smoggit teleported back to Pamela’s side.
“Take my hand,” he said.
She paused. He seized it- strongly, firmly, but without anger or fear.
“Remember your star training? Use it now,” he said.
“I don’t know if I-” she said.
He squeezed her hand.
“You can. I believe in you,” he said.
As Xocotí speeded towards them, she closed her eyes and reached into herself. Her soul met her thundering heartbeat and latched onto it like an anchor. Sparks flew out of that pulsating organ, sparks but no flames as of yet.
“Hurry,” he said.
“I’m trying!” she exclaimed.
She reached back into herself and blew upon her spark with all her soul. It set ablaze and ran through her like a wildfire, finally erupting out of her chest and fingertips in a resplendent display of pyrotechnics.
Xocotí ran smack dab into Pamela’s luminous net. The cinders exploding out of her burned the Queen’s rancid flesh. She dropped to the ground.
Smoggit patted his apprentice on the back.
“Great work,” he said. “We’ve got her now.”
They marched forward toward the Queen, who shook violently as she rose to her feet.
“Do you surrender?” he said. “We harbor no ill will. Leave now and you do so with your life.”
The Queen hissed at them.
She stomped her foot. The ground rippled. Smoggit’s things went flying. He and Pamela were knocked to their feet. Xocotí approached, first at a walk and then in a dead sprint.
Smoggit thrust his hands forward.
“Brace yourself, Pamela!” he said.
When Xocotí was in arm’s reach, a forcefield erupted from Smoggit’s fingertips. An azure energy surged out of him. The Queen met it with a crimson light. Soon, the two became locked together, their energies intermingling as they wrestled for dominance. The Queen ripped at him with her boney fingers. Smoggit maneuvered and blocked as best he could. Pamela tried to get into the fray, but the competing energies would not allow her.
Xocotí marked Smoggit with some deep gashes. Soon, Pamela grew tired of seeing her master so ill-treated.
“Stop!” she said.
A green energy burst out of her mouth, counteracting the other two. When the energies dissipated, Xocotí glared at her. Pamela rolled up her robes and beckoned the evil Queen. Biting, clawing, Xocotí struck at her opponent. Pamela fought off the onslaught as best as she could. Her robes went to tatters around her as she suffered several near misses. She grit her teeth when the hits failed to miss. Finally, they ended in a stalemate with both parties gasping for breath. They stood there, glaring at each other.
“I know you,” said Pamela. “You will not triumph.”
We shall see.
Suddenly, a burst of blue light surged into Xocotí’s chest. She screeched as she burst into a million fragments. Pamela dropped to her knees. As the dust settled, Smoggit set a hand on her shoulder.
“Well done,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said, “what now?!”
She looked to him. He looked to the horizon.
“Now, we go on the offensive,” he said. “She’s hurt, but she’s not finished, not yet. If we can catch her before she regenerates fully, maybe we can rid the Universe of her for good.” He took several deep breaths. “The journey to her land will be dangerous. I cannot make you go. It must be of your own free will.”
“I’m in,” she said.
“Thank you, Pamela,” he said and looked around. His home had been decimated in the fight.
“Sorry about your home,” she said.
“No matter. We can rebuild,” he said, “but later. Our job is not yet done.”
“When do we leave?” she said.
“At dawn,” he said.
She sorted through the rubble, found a tea kettle, and handed it to him.
“Suppose we make some tea,” she said, “to pass the time?”
He took the kettle.
“I would like that very much,” he said.