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Fan Fiction - Hero's Nightmare: Chapter Three, by Digi-Dolphin
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Night fell over Pirates Island as the crows took to relaxing and enjoying themselves with moon-bathing and drinking contests. Victory had come to them easily, with the opposition offering very little resistance once they saw Billy leading the Crescent Crow Army into battle. One of these feasts and contests was being held in the mess hall of the pirate ship docked in the bay. A huge table was fully stocked with food and crows all around it were helping themselves to the bounty. Various kegs found in the cargo hold were hauled up and the occasional Larpee would spin about drunkenly before collapsing to the floor. With bad singing and coarse laughter filling the air, the mess hall became exactly that: a mess.

Scowling at the scene before him with his feet propped up on the table, Billy leaned back in his chair and held his cup out to be fill with whatever drink was so intoxicating to the crows. Larpees, Grays and Gellys sang praises to the glorious King Raven as the bubbling liquid filled the glass to the brim. A glare at the servant ensured not a drop spilled onto his glove and he lifted the cup to his lips, watching the party ramble on.

"I don't know which are more useless, the chickens or the crows." Billy muttered and sat up. Leaving the crow army to their feast, he headed to the deck and looked out at the ocean, taking another drink from the cup. Moonlight shone on the surface of the sea as he gazed out at the stars. "It's only a matter of time before...." he started to stay, then paused as a faint image flickered in his mind. Before what? There was something that he was supposed to be doing, but what?

Growling in frustration, Billy hurled the cup aside and held his head in his hands. Memories bubbled, more faint images coming to mind. There had been a plan somewhere, a message....

Thinking about it was making his head hurt, yet he felt that he had to remember. A familiar voice called to him, pleaded for him to fight and follow a different path. But fight what? Who was that voice?

Suddenly, the pain, the voice and the visions were gone. Billy jerked up and looked around quickly, determined to make sure no one saw his momentary loss of control. The fits weren't uncommon; they had started sometime before Dark Raven had him prepare the first wave of crows to attack Sand Ruins. He tightened one hand into a fist and stomped away. A few hours' practice with the Crescent Crow Egg would release any pent up energies.

~*~*~*~*

Oma-Oma crowed to bring the dawn again. Rolly, Chick and Bantam sat around the dining table, plotting and planning. Finally, they had an idea they agreed on and rushed to make their way back to Pirates Island.

"Are you sure about this plan?" Chick asked Bantam as they rode King Cipher back to the fallen land, "It still sounds stupid to me."

"Trust me. I saw it in a movie." Bantam replied with a grin, "Now think of lots of good memories to tell him! We'll get him to remember us if we tell him about his life with us!"

King Cipher dropped the three heroes off at the beach and watched them make their way to the pirate ship. The decks were crowded with Larpees and Gellys, and they spotted a brief flash of white and red on board.

"It's gotta be Billy! Hurry!" Rolly shouted as they collected eggs and began dashing towards it. "Before the crows start pulling themselves together, let's get to the ship!" The teens cheered and ran down Anters and Grays as they boarded the pirate ship. Doras and Batters hopped around in a panic, still suffering from the rambunctious parties of the night before and in no shape for serious battle. Each one burst back to normal form and fluttered away cawing with every blow the large eggs landed.

"Billy Hatcher! We know you're here! Show yourself!" Rolly demanded once the deck was cleared of enemies.

From the crow's nest at the top of the mast, the familiar figure of their old friend appeared. Billy watched the three heroes regroup and stare up at him, and blinked slowly. He yawned, stretched, and folded his arms on the wooden nest, resting his chin on them.

"Billy! Remember me? I'm Bantam Scrambled! Remember how I played your goalie during practice?!" the oldest boy shouted up at him. "How I used to pick on you and Chick a lot before we became friends? You were the one who took a chance on me being someone good as a friend and teammate!" Billy blinked again, still lazily gazing down at them as they pleaded their cases.

"How about the birthday party I helped set up?" Chick yelled next, hoping to get some reaction from him, "C'mon, Billy! I know you loved it! You tripped and fell in the cake!"

"Please fight the evil magic, Billy! You're stronger than those crows! Come back to us!" Rolly pleaded, her hands clasped together and green eyes looking up at him with desperate hope. Billy propped his cheek on one fist and lifted an eyebrow.

"Are you done?" he asked. The teens stared up at him in confusion. "Look, I don't know what the heck got into your heads to tell me stuff that, frankly, I don't care about, but it did keep me from being bored out of my head today." Billy continued, "So, I'm not going to kill you right away." He smiled and lifted his other hand to snap his fingers, summoning a horde of Big Doras to the deck. "But they will!" he added and laughed as the crows chased after Rolly, Chick and Bantam. "You'll have to excuse me. Dark Raven's here to pick me up so I can conquer Dino Mountain for him." Billy remarked off-handedly, "I could do with some fried chicken for dinner, if you get my drift! Ha, ha, ha!"

A bubble of violet energy surrounded the boy and lifted him into the air to float beside Dark Raven, who had watched the whole exchange in amusement. The two of them grinned down at the heroes fighting fiercely on the ship before vanishing in a burst of black feathers.

"'Trust me!', he says! 'It'll work!', he says!" Chick griped as he slapped the egg into a horde of Big Doras, "We should've gone with my idea and hit him with an oversized egg!"

"And what good would that have done us, besides make him mad?!" Bantam snapped as he opted to trade punches with one of the big cats in a fury. Chick leaped into an Egg Drill to finish off a batch of Grays.

"Make me feel better." he grumbled.

~*~*~*~*

After finally getting free of the crows, Rolly, Chick and Bantam made their way to Dino Mountain, trying to think of another strategy to use.

"Reasoning didn't work on him. So what now?" Rolly asked as King Cipher winged his way to the fiery land.

"We can't give up. Let's try taking Billy away from the crows!" Bantam declared, "If we can get him away from the crows, especially Dark Raven, we can figure out how to break the spell! As long as he's around, Billy can't fight that magic!"

"So we grab Billy?" Chick asked doubtfully as King Cipher touched down on the rocky ground, "How? We can't exactly walk up to him and carry him off at Egg-Point or something! He's not just the leader of the crow army, he's the captain of the soccer team! He's too fast!"

"We'll have to take him down then. Let's get him away from the crows, then keep him from using that speed of his." Bantam replied as he grabbed a Peliwan egg, "He's going to get hurt, but it's the only way to keep him from achieving full speed to use the Crescent Crow Egg against us." The other two selected eggs and raced towards the masses of crows, planning their attack along the way.

~*~*~*~*

Within his steel cage egg, Ura-Ura could only watch helplessly as the Crescent Crow Army overtook the land. Billy dashed all over the area, flushing out baby chicks for capture and destroying what few eggs were scattered about for the heroes of Morning Land. Dark Raven watched as the boy ran up to him, stopping to set one foot down on the mysterious ball.

"No signs of the Giant Egg anywhere, Master." Billy reported, slightly breathless. He flipped the egg onto the toe of his shoe and bounced it there expertly. "Even though I know this crow egg is made of metal, it feels like a...." Billy paused and looked at the egg strangely, "soccer ball." Dark Raven blinked and a whispering wind began to blow around them. Billy looked up and cocked his head, listening. "Soccer. I played that sport, didn't I? Who...?"

"No!" Dark Raven bellowed, "You will not have him!" He grabbed Billy's arm and the boy jumped in surprise. "You have no power here, old foe!" the king declared as Billy's eyes began to clear.

"The balcony!" he cried in realization and screamed in pain, struggling to escape Dark Raven as the Lord of Crows covered his face with his hand, muttering a strange spell under his breath.

"Let him go, Dark Raven! The boy wasn't meant for your darkness!" Ura-Ura suddenly yelled, a booming voice that wasn't his own, "You are the one who has no power here!"

"Fall, Hatcher! FALL!" Dark Raven ordered as Billy struggled fiercely and clawed at his hand. Finally, he stiffened, then fell limp, hand dropping to his side. The Crow King turned and cast a second spell on the Chicken Elder. "Intruder in the world I reign, vanish from this land again!" he declared and the Elder bounced in the steel cage, feathers ruffling.

"Oh my! Dino Mountain is being attacked by Billy?!" he stammered in a panic, "Whatever shall we do?!" Dark Raven let the boy go and scowled as he dropped onto the ground in a deep sleep. The Crescent Crow Egg slowly rolled to his side.

"I have you under my will again, Hatcher. You will not escape until I have what I seek; the location of the Giant Egg's power." Dark Raven hissed and glanced aside. "When you awaken, you will continue to search the lands in my name, for I am your Master and King. Never forget that. Kill the heroes of Morning Land if they stand in your way. That is a standing order!" With that, the King of Crows vanished again, his work there done. The wind had died with the spell the king had cast and Billy lay there, lost to the dark magic that wrapped his mind in veils.

It wasn't long before the Elder's yells for help drew Rolly and her friends to the large caged egg. Billy was standing up in front of it, shaking his head and rubbing his face. He looked as if he had just woken up from some nap. Confused by this, the teens looked at each other, then decided it wouldn't affect the plan.

"Okay, ready?" Rolly called back. The boys nodded. "Let's go!" They raced through a flock of Doras and Gaters, then called up to him. "Billy! Come and get us!" she cried.

"Yeah! You're not so hot! I dare you to kill us all right here!" Chick taunted, "Bet you can't do it! Nyah, nyah!"

"Chicken!" Bantam threw in, "Chicken posing as a Rooster! You don't deserve that suit, you already have your feathers! Buckaw!" Billy blinked and raced down to face them, kicking the crow egg before him.

"You're dead meat, you pathetic brats!" he yelled in a fury, "I was going to kill you all quickly, but I've changed my mind!"

"Run!" Bantam cried, dashing away with his egg as he and the others led Billy away from the crows towards an open area of Dino Mountain, the General of the Crescent Crow Army shrieking in rage the whole way.

~*~*~*~*

Rolly and her friends had cleared an open area by vanquishing the Armas and Gaters that roamed it, then stored what few eggs they could find in all parts of the semi-circular field. There was plenty of room to maneuver and she declared it the perfect place to catch Billy. It was here they led the boy and split up once he was near the center of the open field.

"Get him!" Chick yelled, dashing at Billy suddenly, large Recky Egg ready to strike. Taken by surprise, Billy barely swerved aside to avoid it and kept running. He spun in place and kicked the Crescent Crow Egg at him, then leaped aside in shock as Bantam dashed at him. The crow egg smashed Chick's egg, then glowed a soft violet as it began to speed back to Billy.

"What the-?" Billy murmured as Chick ran off. This was something he wasn't expecting, an all out offense against him? He grinned, maybe these guys would give him some fun after all.

"Hurry! Get him!" Chick yelled as he grabbed another egg and began dashing back in. Rolly shot her egg at Billy, who smiled and back-flipped away from it, landing on his feet as the crow egg returned. He raced on, circling the field and laughing.

"He keeps dodging!" Rolly cried as Billy positioned himself across the field and kicked the crow egg again. "Bantam! Look out!"

"Why couldn't Billy play baseball for a sport?! Or street hockey?!" Bantam yelled as his egg was shattered and he was forced to seek another, "Noooo! He had to be a soccer player! He wanted to run around and kick stuff and get dirty without getting yelled at by his mom!"

"Whatever it is you're trying to do isn't gonna work!" Billy called out to them, already getting bored again, "So knock it off and die already!" He spotted Chick circling around to get behind him and raced away, gathering speed for another powerful kick.

"Then why are you just hitting our eggs?!" Rolly demanded, "Why not just shoot your stupid crow egg right at us?! You know it would crush us if you did! So why don't you get it over with, huh?!"

Billy blinked and looked in her direction in confusion as Chick dashed with the egg to pull alongside him. The smaller boy was familiar with the soccer team setup Billy had placed them all in; his speed influenced his power and made him captain, Chick was small and agile, so his high maneuverability landed him positions where he could steal the ball and make trick shots, Rolly's speed was second to Billy's and often made the flying shots that no goalie could see coming until it was in the net, and Bantam was the obvious choice for goalie, using power to stop balls dead and hurl them deep into the field towards his friends.

It all came into play as Chick used the moment of distraction to slide under Billy and kick out at his legs, tripping the former hero up. Tumbling and rolling with a cry of pain and anger, Billy thought briefly of the question, then swept it from his mind. The metal egg, forced from its master, spun and shone brightly, summoning a horde of crows that emerged onto the field from multiple dark portals and chased after the teenagers.

"Run! The crows are back! What called them in?!" Bantam yelled, "Hurry! Everyone, get out of here!"

"Get Billy! We'll distract the crow army!" Rolly ordered as she grabbed a fresh egg and fired it at the Batters. Chick followed her lead, letting his own egg loose every few seconds to knock the crows around as Bantam huffed and puffed around them to where the boy lay sprawled on the ground.

~*~*~*~*

Billy got to his feet and limped away quickly, cringing. He was furious at several people; Rolly, for the question he couldn't answer; himself, for being foolish enough to fall for her distraction; and Chick, for injuring his left leg with the surprise attack. He continued along, muttering to himself and unaware of Bantam following him, until a sharp pain coursed through him, stealing his breath away. Billy dropped to his knees and bent over, clutching the knot of his scarf and gasping for air. The sounds of dying crows and screaming teens sounded distant as the roaring of something like rushing water pounded through his mind.

Something felt like it was slipping away. A voice called to him faintly, begging him to remember... what? A faint image appeared in his mind, a blur of black and violet and silver.

"Balcony...." Billy whispered, struggling to stay above the ocean of darkness suffocating him, "The balcony.... Dark Raven...!"

~*~*~*~*

"Where'd he go? The kid couldn't have gone far." Bantam muttered as he clambered up a trail and rounded the bend, "Chick had to have forced a pulled muscle or something, the way he was limping around like that." He spotted Billy on the ground ahead of him, doubled over and breathing hard as he stared, wide-eyed, at the ground. "Billy!" the older boy called out. Billy turned to look at him with clear aquamarine eyes, the normal color they had always been when he was younger.

"B-Bantam!" he managed to cry, "Help m-me! Please!"

"You remember!" Bantam cheered and ran up to him, "I'll be with you in a flash!" The Crescent Crow Egg zipped in from behind Bantam, shoving one of his legs aside as it sped towards Billy, who screamed in anguish for a moment before falling silent. Bantam fell back, then scrambled to his feet in time to watch Billy vanish in a burst of black feathers, a cold expression on his face.

"Not again." Bantam sighed sadly and shook his head, "Not again."

~*~*~*~*

Dino Mountain fell to Dark Raven's forces and the heroes retreated to Forest Village to recover and plan anew. Bantam continued to berate himself as Chick kicked around a piece of eggshell and Rolly gazed into the bonfire. Night had fallen, bringing the chickens out to watch the flames and comfort their protectors.

"I was right there!" Bantam muttered, "I could see his face! He looked so hurt and terrified. If I had moved just a bit faster...." He reached out and clenched his hands tightly into fists, "I would have had him in my hands. We would have had Billy here right now, if I had moved just a little faster."

"Don't beat yourself up, Bantam." Rolly murmured and put on a cheerful face, trying to sound upbeat even as her voice cracked and her eyes began to tear up. "You did your best and brought hope. We know now that our Billy is still out there and that we can get to him." She shrugged and turned back to the fire. "We just have to keep trying."

"Well, at least we know he can't do as much damage as before. I hit his left leg and that's the one he power kicks with, so he should be easier to handle next time." Chick pointed out, "In fact, let's forget about Billy for a while! An idea will come to us soon enough on how to rescue him! Let's rescue the Elders and maybe they can help us!"

"Yeah! They may have seen or heard something that can help us break the spell on Billy!" Bantam added, cheering up at the idea.

"So it's settled!" Rolly said brightly, "Tomorrow, we'll go save Meri-Meri!" The boys cheered and set to work on a plan to save the Elder, unaware that the threat Billy posed was still as great as ever.

>> Chapter Four >>

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