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Tales of the Paragon Raiders Episode 2: The Rivals by ImaginationPersona

Tales of the Paragon Raiders Episode 2: The Rivals

Tales of the Paragon Raiders

Episode II

The Rivals

written by Imagination Persona

The front door of a Yellow Jeep Wrangler parked near the edge of a small cliff overlooking a valley was wide open, a calm, gentle breeze softly caressing the leathery interior before the radio switched from a static frequency to a well-known, popular station called The Great Nebula.

“Good morning, ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, galactic visitors from all seven dimensions! I'm your host, Devon Rex, master DJ here at the Great Nebula, ready to entertain all of you fine folk who have just tuned in! Oh, do I have a great track in mind to start off your day, folks! A beautiful melody that captures the essence of the morning sun slowly peaking over the horizon! Here is Morning Mood by Edward Grieg!” the DJ announced with enthusiasm in his tone.

The harmonious musical composition flooded proudly through the speakers, soon reaching the ears of one sleeping Paragon Raider by the name of Milo Velox who was resting against the vehicle's rear door alongside his partner, Isabella Vulpea, who had her head planted in Milo's lap. Opening his eyes at a slow pace, Milo yawned lazily, raising the over-sized brim of his dark blue fedora hat so that it would no longer obstruct his vision. Stretching his arms, the fox glanced over at his partner with a warm smile formed on his lips before reaching out with his hand and caressed the vixen softly on the head. Isabella, undisturbed by the tranquil music, smiled the moment she felt the tender touch of Milo's hand and stirred lightly, her tail swishing happily before resuming her trip down dreamland, fully appreciating her partner's gesture.

After carefully lifting himself from the ground without waking Isabella up and placing her head on a spare pillow they had in the back of the car, Milo ventured to the edge of the cliff to feast his eyes on what lied beneath his feet. One could not deny that it was quite a difference compared to their previous expedition in Egypt. Instead of blazing, harsh and scorching sand, a picturesque green meadow, the perfect playground for the local fauna. A pack of deer emerged from a forest to reach the river splitting the valley in half for a drink of water. Small critters such as rabbits and other small rodents used the cover of the flowered bushes to keep an eye out for predators before making their move, looking both left and right as if crossing a street. As if in tune with the melody, birds started their matrimonial ritual of singing, composing their own beautiful and melodious symphony. The morning sun's powerful rays shun brightly over the valley, passing through the mountainous chain like a herd of wild horses. Beyond the forest from which the deers had trotted from, was an ancient, long-forgotten temple carved entirely from crystallized rocks that the locals named as The Prism Temple. Despite hidden among the trees, its brightness twinkled like a star making it impossible to not be spotted from a great distance, especially during the daytime. Bearing the design of a Mayan temple with an elevated platform placed beneath a monumental stairway, with a central building facing the stairs, and two lateral structures facing each other on both sides of the platform. But what was located within its confines was what had drawn Milo and Isabella to this historical landmark in the first place: the Diamond of Light, a lost relic from ancient times, one that would make a fine addition to a museum or to the highest bidder to add to their collection.

But that was not what was on Milo's mind for the fox was more entranced by both the beauty of Mother Nature and the works of Grieg. Brushing off a fly from his jacket, Milo wasted no time and rushed back to Isabella, waking her up with a shake on her shoulder.

“What the? Milo!? What are you-?”

The vixen didn't have time to finish the sentence as she was swept off her feet, feeling his left hand latch onto her waist and being pulled closer to him, his right hand grasping her left hand as the dance commenced. Initially annoyed, Isabella's mood changed in a matter of moments once she had figured out his intentions and looked into his eyes dreamily as they let the music carry them away, placing her left hand on his shoulder. Milo then closed his eyes and kissed the vixen on the lips with a deep passion to which the vixen accepted with no hesitation as she kissed him back. It was truly a magical moment between these two. Despite their differences and often moments of bickering and arguing, they couldn't deny the attraction they felt towards each other and were not afraid to show off their romantic sides. Milo then let go of Isabella before inviting her to participate in a game of chase. The vixen giggled happily as she ran after him, scaring off any animals near them, including the pack of deers that scampared off when Isabella pinned Milo in the water. Blinking seductively, Isabella helped him back on his feet before kissing him once more. When Milo opened his eyes to be blessed once more with the image of his beloved, his eyes widened in shock when he found himself in the arms of another woman.

Greeting him with narrowed, light brown eyes and a wide grin spreading across her cheeks was an anthropomorphic light brown female kangaroo with a beige color spreading from her cheeks all the way down to her pouch. She was sporting an orange tank and a pair of red cargo shorts over her thick, and powerful thighs along with a black cowboy hat above a long, blond ponytail and a string necklace with a lucky coin around her neck.

“Still puckerin' those darn lips like a fish out of water, I see!”

The kangaroo didn't even give Milo a chance to reply as she then leaned backwards, supporting her own weight by her strong tail, and kicked him in the chest so hard that the fox hit a large boulder before falling face flat into the icy river.

“Fiona...” Milo grunted underwater, bubbles popping up beside his floating hat.

Meanwhile, Isabella had a new dance partner herself in the shape of a small, silvery-furred, beady-eyed koala. Unlike his skimpily-dressed partner, the koala preferred a more snappily choice consisting of a brown, tailored one-piece suit, black, buttoned shirt and a slim white tie with a matching fedora hat with a pair dual laser pistols in his hands. Despite his appearance as an armed mafioso, his sheer, small size was his disadvantage. Isabella rolled her eyes and yawned as she had extended her leg, blocking the koala that was charging at her like a rampaging bull with her boot, blinding him entirely as the brim of his hat had been lowered over his eyes.

“COME ON! LET ME AT HER! LET ME AT HER! I'LL TEAR HER APART!” the koala shrilled in anger, firing his guns wildly in random directions.

“Friends of yours, Milo?” Isabella glanced at her soaked boyfriend.

Milo lifted himself from the water, spitting out a fish from his mouth before replying.

“Not even close. This is Fiona Wallaroo. My former partner and... ex-girlfriend.” Milo made the introductions, uttering the last words with venom. “And the other is her partner, Tony Arktos.”

“Your ex-girlfriend?” Isabella raised an eyebrow, contemplating in deep thought as to what had been said and ignoring the loud ramblings of the tiny koala. “You never told me you had an ex-girlfriend.”

“It must have slipped my mind or I didn't think it was that important to mention...”

“OOOOH, YA DIRTY, LITTLE WEASEL!” Fiona grit her teeth angrily as she shoved Milo's face back into the water with her foot pressed against his neck.

“Isabella! Help!” Milo croaked.

The vixen turned to look back at the koala before getting an idea. She then rotated her body in order for her back to be parallel with Fiona's current position before she leaped over Tony, whose legs had turned into wheels as he rushed blindly towards the kangaroo, completely unaware of his surroundings. Her little satisfying moment of torturing Milo ended when Fiona looked up and saw Tony speeding towards them like a train. Using her fast reflexes and the strength in her legs, Fiona dodged Tony by jumping very high in the air which resulted in the koala crashing into a tree.

“Daggnabbit! Watch where ya headin', ya nincompoop!” Fiona shouted at Tony.

“Sorry...” Tony apologized with stars swirling around his head and his tongue sticking out of his mouth.

“Why are you here, Fiona?” Milo asked, wringing his hat dry before putting it back on his head. “Cause I'm pretty sure it's not because of the scenery.”

“Yer still the sharpest tool in the barn, I see.” Fiona pointed out. “And you'd be correct, darling. Mr. Runaway-Train over there and yours truly came all this way from New Vista into this here valley to snag that little gem called the Diamond of Light.”

“Well, you're going to have go back home empty-handed cause WE are getting our hands on that diamond first!” Isabella cried out, pointing her forefinger at both herself and Milo.

Fiona just snorted. “Hehehe! Really? Y'all think that you two can outwit me and my partner? Is this the part where I'm supposed to be scared by the competition?”

“Oh, you will be after I'm done with you!” Isabella growled dangerously, cracking her knuckles.

“You must have woken up on the wrong side of reality there, darling.” Fiona remarked with an unfazed tone. “You see these here calves? Just one is enough to send y'all on a one-way ticket into the stratosphere.”

“Huh, and I thought you were gonna slip on a pair of boxing gloves to clobber me.” Isabella said, unaware of the hurricane she had, accidentally, unleashed.

An immeasurable level of rage was building inside Fiona, her eyes morphing into flickering flames, her fists trembling like they were made of gelatin, her nostrils flaring with steam blown out of them. If there was one thing that really pissed Fiona off was for someone to associate her with a stereotypical boxing kangaroo.

As fast as lightning, Milo grabbed Isabella's hand and the foxes bolted out of there in a flash, heading straight for the forest.

“What the? Milo!? Why are we running away from them?” Isabella asked her partner. “I was ready to go downtown with that kangaroo!”
“Are you blind, Isabella?” Milo replied, keeping his eyes focused on the path ahead. “You're lucky I got you out of there before Fiona ripped you to shreds.”

“Was it something I said?”

“Ugh! I don't know if you're being sarcastic right now, and I, honestly, don't care. There's something you must know about Fiona; never call her a boxer.” Milo emphasized the last word. “It could cost your life!”

“I'm not scared of her!” Isabella cried out stubbornly.

“Isabella, I, once, witnessed what she did to a drunken panther who had called her Rocky Balboa.” Milo turned his head to face Isabella with a grim expression. “And there wasn't anything left of him to even fit in a match box! I'm being dead serious! She's unlike your regular dancing partners.”

“Fine, fine! I get it, I get it!” Isabella said, sounding annoyed by how much big of a case this was to Milo.

“Let's just get to the temple and recover that diamond as soon as possible. I don't want to be here any longer than needed, not with Bonnie and Clyde after the same relic as we are.”

-~o~-

To gain access inside, a beam of light shooting from the sun had to cross over the valley to hit a green jewel encrusted in the wall above the main temple's entrance in order for its massive door to slide upwards, revealing a large staircase leading into the depths of the temple. The downside was that when the jewel was no longer touched by the beam, the door would seal itself and would not open till the following day.

“Man, there sure are a lot of stairs...” Milo complained as he climbed up the main stairway, wheezing and wiping away the sweat from his forehead.

“See? That's what happens when you neglect your physique, sweetie.” Isabella pointed out, already having a lead with about seven steps ahead of her partner.

“What are you talking about? I ain't fat.” Milo placed his hands over his soft belly. “Well, I don't have muscles, but I'm tired because I had to drag the both of us away from our rivals!”

“Excuses, excuses.” Isabella shook her head disapprovingly.

“Ugh, just get to the top of the stairway and see if the door is open. I'll be there shortly.”

Isabella nodded and, after a quick jog, she set foot on the final step before shifting her eyes back to Milo.

“It's still closed...”

Huffing and puffing, Milo, eventually, joined her and examined both the main door and the jewel on top of it. “Seems that we are still early. It, probably, won't be long till it opens. However, that means we lose our advantage and they'll-”

“Catch up?”

Both Milo and Isabella, reluctantly, turned around slowly and, sure enough, there stood Fiona with Tony beside her. The kangaroo had made up for lost time by carrying her partner in her pouch for she was fully aware that Tony's tiny feet would severely hamper any chances they had to beat the foxes to the diamond.

“When this is over, you and I are gonna have them words, fox.” Fiona pointed her forefinger at Isabella, shooting her a deadly glare as she was still boiling like a cauldron.

“I can hardly wait...” Isabella said with a sarcastic tone.

Fiona was just about to punch her when Tony intervened.

“Eyes on the prize, Fiona. Eyes on the prize.”

Fiona took a deep breath and exhaled, calming herself down. “Guess yer right, partner. I shouldn't be wastin' my energy on these two losers.”

“HEY! Who are you calling a-” Isabella started before being silenced Milo who had placed his hand over her mouth.

“Not worth it. Besides, there's nothing we can do to change our present scenario. Let's just wait till the door opens and then we'll see who gets the diamond first.”

Fiona, Tony and Isabella nodded their heads in agreement.

It wasn't long before a beam of light was shot above their heads and hit the green jewel and, right before their eyes, the door began to move upwards. All four of them were ready to rush in, fully determined to claim the prize within and leave their rivals to bite the dust. There was only one problem: the door was sliding at a snail's pace.

“You've got to be kidding me!” Isabella shrieked loudly. “Can't this thing go any slower?”

“Patience, Isabella.” Milo patted her shoulder. “It won't be long till we are inside.”

Several hours later...

Both teams were still standing on their original spots, the spark of competition still shining brightly in their spirits.

Several seasons later...

The valley was now drenched in snow, and all four of them, despite wearing winter gear, were trembling in their boots.

Five centuries later...

The valley was now a ruined wasteland with dead and rotting trees with no animals in sight and the vegetation long gone. Nothing was left of the treasure hunters but their skeletons, still in the same standing poses.

One rebirth of the universe later...

Milo, Isabella, Fiona and Tony, brimming with life once more just like the valley as well, were all having their arms crossed and frowned angrily at the door, tapping their feet impatiently on the steps of the stairway before, finally, the door opened. Time was of the essence and neither of them wasted a second to dash through the entrance.

-~o~-

Despite its radiant exterior, the interior was a different story. Although it was constructed with the same crystallized materials, there was barely any room for the light to penetrate the heart of the temple and illuminate every single inch of the secrets it held within. To navigate, one had to use one of the many crystal torches burning with a blue flame that were scattered across various spots on the rigid walls. To add more weight to the challenge, at the last step of the stairway stood multiple passageways, all leading into different sections of the interior. It was clear that the architects had designed it to serve as another obstacle so that it would be tricky for anyone to both find the diamond and the way out at the same time. And to put the final nail in the coffin, the temple was rigged with all sorts of traps, those unprepared were sure to meet a fatal death, their bones remaining within the crystallized halls for all of eternity.

That didn't discourage the Raiders as each team took a separate passageway, hoping that Lady Luck was on their side and that the diamond was located at the opposite end.

Milo and Isabella stumbled upon a squared-shaped room with a checkered floorboard, each square engraved with a different symbol, ranging from a pair of lightning bolts striking down an unsuspecting couple of stick figures all the way to a toxic green smoke with several of the stick figures chocking to death. Not quite a pleasant welcome for the Paragon Raiders as it seemed they had to traverse this life-threatening room for them to reach the other side. It was far too late to go back and choose another path.

“Why did you want me to stop, Milo?” Isabella asked. “Come on! We're wasting-”

“Don't take another step!” Milo warned her, grabbing her by the tail. “Don't you see the symbols on the ground? This room is clearly a death trap! Give me some time, okay?”

After a careful examination, Milo deduced that each of the symbols represent a cause of death, each more gruesome than the last, and formed a possible solution on how to pass the room unharmed. A pattern. The less horrific death was represented by a symbol representing a the funeral of a figure in which all of their family members had gathered for the final moments and out of all of them, this symbol repeated itself, forming a zig-zag pattern to the other side. It was a gamble, but what other choice did they have?

However, before he could relay the information to her partner...

“Alright! I'm done waiting! That over-sized rabbit and her hobbit must be way ahead of us!”

“Isabella! NOOOO!”

Isabella jumped forward and landed on a square which had the symbol of...

“Darts!? Oh no! Look out!”

In just seconds, the walls moved to a side, revealing thousands upon thousands of tiny holes where numerous darts were shot from, each one hitting their target with pinpoint accuracy as Isabella slumped to the ground, unconscious.

“ISABELLA!” Milo cried out and rushed over to her, not even caring on what squares his boots were stepping on. The Raider was sure lucky for the other remaining traps had been disabled once one of them had been activated. But as for Isabella...

“Isabella? Isabella! Wake up! Wake up! Please, wake up!” a desperate and panicked Milo called her out, crouching beside the fallen vixen and lifted her slowly, holding her tightly in his arms. Milo's eyes filled with tears as he sobbed on her shoulder, rocking her back and forth, believing that he had lost the one woman he truly loved forever. But, all was not lost as when Milo glanced at the square she had stepped on, he noticed that, while it did have darts in the symbol, the figures beside them were drawn as if they were sleeping. After checking her pulse and her heartbeat, Milo came to the conclusion that the arrows had been dipped with an anesthetic substance. Looks like his deduction was incorrect and if they had followed through with his logic, who knows what would have happened. In addition, Milo had failed to notice that there were even more squares with that particular symbol than the others, all leading towards the other side of the room. The puzzle of the room was deciphered. It appeared that even if the solution had been figured out, it wouldn't have been exactly a walk in the park to venture across.

And then Milo got an idea. An evil, wicked idea.

Grinning rather mischievously, Milo placed Isabella back on the floor and raised his palm above her head. “Oh, Sleeping Beauty~! Time to wake up~!”

And then the vixen was assaulted by a barrage of slaps across the face.

“Fine then! That's for not listening to me! That's for being reckless! That's for eating all the ice-cream in the fridge! That's for making me look like a fool before Arnab! That's for dragging me into that swamp filled with alligators! That's for not taking history seriously! WHY! WON'T! YOU! WAKE!-”

And then, a white hand reached out and snatched him by the wrist.

“Up?” Milo gulped nervously before being tossed into a wall, the fox hitting it pretty hard as it cracked like an egg, slumping to the floor like a bug on a windshield.

Shaking his head and rubbing his forehead with his left hand, Milo looked up and saw a very miffed Isabella staring down at him.

“Don't. You. Ever. Do. That. Again.” she warned him with a demonic tone.

“Well, it was fun while it lasted...” Milo said in his thoughts.

-~o~-

“Gosh darn it, darling!” Fiona said, wiping off the sweat from her forehead before placing her hat back on. “I feel like we've been running in circles looking for a darn needle in a haystack! At this rate, those pesky foxes will get their hands on that diamond faster than Mama Murphy baking an apple pie back at the farm!”

The kangaroo's ears perked after picking up a loud buzzing noise like the humming of a power generator, spinning helicopter propellers, an ominous and foreboding sound that echoed menacingly through the halls. It didn't help that this particular area was poorly lit, the two barely able to make out what was in front of them.

“What in tarnation was that?”

Shaking a little, Fiona raised her legs, ready to kick whatever was lurking in the shadows and making that noise into oblivion. Her fear then turned to mild irritation as she then found out the source.

“You've got to be pullin' my leg here!”
Tony blushed as he rubbed his stomach before reaching into Fiona's pouch and taking out a sandwich and a can of soda.

“Sorry, Fiona. But you did bring up apple pie and we also skipped breakfast this morning.” Tony said, sitting down on the ground and taking a healthy bite out of the sandwich. “Want some?”

“No, thank you. I'd rather not.” she responded with a sour tone, tapping her fingers on the wall in frustration.

After finishing his sandwich, Tony emptied the can of soda with one large gulp and then wiped his cheeks clean of any breadcrumbs with a napkin.

“Are ya full?”

“Yup!” Tony licked his lips. “I'm ready to go!”

But then the noise returned, this time louder than ever.

“Something tells me that yer stomach disagrees with ya.” Fiona said sarcastically.

“Um, Fiona? That wasn't me...” Tony said, pointing at something behind Fiona.

It turned out that the real source for the noise consisted of a swarm of large, crystallized flying beetles forming a barricade to halt their advance as neither of one of them was behaving like a normal insect. Instead, they were all synchronized with their flight and movement pattern like a battalion of soldiers. They were not advancing towards them, nor were they retreating back into the darkness. Only one objective; protect the Diamond of Light from any intruders.

“BUGS!” Fiona screamed in horror, leaping from the ground so hard that her head went through the ceiling, her body dangling from above like a piniata.

Tony, on the other hand, was not intimidated by the beetles. To him, they were nothing more but small pests that were standing in their way and needed to be exterminated. Dragging out his coat and after digging with his hand in the interior pocket, the beetles let out a cry similar to a cricket's chirp as Tony pulled out a flame-thrower. Tony showed them no mercy and roasted the beetles into tiny, crispy remains.

Blowing off the smoke emanating from the flame-thrower's top part, Tony put it back in his coat and raised his head to look at his partner.

“Hey, baby! How's the view from up there?” Tony joked, chuckling. “Any sign of the diamond?”

“SHUT YER PIE HOLE AND GET ME DOWN FROM HERE!” Fiona shouted from the floor above.

“What's the magic word?”

“NOOOOOW!”

“Okay, okay! Sheesh, she really can't take a joke.”

-~o~-

The further they ventured in, the darker the temple seemed to become. It was as if the temple held a secret, one that should never reach the surface. Like taking a bite out of a ripe juicy apple only to discover that it's rotten to the core. Regardless, Milo and Isabella resorted to use a torch to continue their exploration.

“This torch won't last for much longer, Isabella.” Milo said, as the flame on the torch showed signs of fading away. “And we have this big unlit gap we need to cross to the reach the far end of this tunnel.”

“What's the matter, honey bun? Afraid of the dark?” Isabella smirked with her eyebrow raised.

“No!” Milo protested. “It's just... I hate the fact that I can't see anything. I'm as blind as a bat in these circumstances. I mean, think about it. What sort of surprises await for us? For all we know, we could be heading onto a path made of trapdoors with each one potentially leading to our demise.”

“So, what do you propose we do?” Isabella questioned.

“We will use the buddy system.” Milo answered, extending his hand towards her. “And don't let go of it till we're at the far end of this tunnel.”

“Oh, sweetie~! You know you don't need to use the buddy system as an excuse to hold my hand.” Isabella cooed playfully, giggling.

Milo shook his head and grunted. “Just give me your hand...”

The light faded inch by inch till they were shrouded in complete darkness with the only things visible being their eyes before they heard a cracking sound, like someone had stepped on a twig.

“EEEEK!” Isabella shrieked.

“What? What is it? What was that sound?” Milo asked, panicking.

“I think I stepped on something but I can't see a thing!”

“Just calm down and hold my hand again. We'll get through this.”

“Okay then.”

After a while of walking in utter darkness...

“All good, my love?” Milo's voice echoed through the tunnel.

“Yeah, but I gotta say, Milo, your hand is... really cold and bone-like.” Isabella made an observation.

“Strange. I can say the same about your hand. Don't tell me you decided to go on another diet!”

“I did not! Although, I think I did put on a few more pounds at your brother's marriage.”

“Anyway, we're almost there. Let's quicken our pace.”

Only a matter of time before they reached the end of the tunnel without any more incidents and both breathed a sigh of relief as they were greeted by the light emanating from a massive pillar with an orb floating on top of it. They made it. They had traversed the dark tunnel and reached sanctuary.

“See, Milo?” Isabella said. “There was nothing to be afraid of.”

“I guess so.” Milo agreed, but then he felt a long, skeletal forefinger tapping his shoulder.

With a slow turn of the head, Milo's heart skipped a beat as soon as a pair of skeletons emerged from the tunnel, their bones covered in dust and webs dangling from their lower jaws complete with a set of spiders scurrying all over them.

“And just where do you think you're going with those?” one of the skeletons asked indignantly.

“What are you talking about, bone-face?” Isabella raised her right fist, ready to teach those piles of bones a lesson they wouldn't forget.

Milo nudged Isabella with his elbow, indicating her to look down at what she was holding in her other hand. Isabella's eyes widened upon realizing that they had been holding onto the skeletons' left arms all the time they were in the tunnel.

“I believe those appendages belong to us.” the other skeleton said.

“Oh! Hehehehehe! Sorry...” both Milo and Isabella chuckled nervously before handing back the arms to their rightful owners.

One of the skeletons yanked them from their hands before both he and his twin vanished into the tunnel.

“I swear, Conrad, this happens every time these explorers use the buddy system!” one of the skeletons mumbled.

“I agree, Mike. Perhaps we should relocate our remains?”

Milo and Isabella just stood there with their mouths wide open, unable to form words.

-~o~-

Meanwhile, Fiona and Tony weren't that fortunate either as their own path led them straight a dead end, a massive statue representing a Crystal Guardian blocking the way. Its size paled in comparison to its design with its spiked armor, the serrated horns protruding from its helmet and the razor-sharp, shiny blade held tightly in its right hand. Despite its pristine condition, the armor looked rather chipped and damaged, scars of possible previous fights.

“Oh great! Just what we needed! As if our day couldn't get any worse!” Tony facepalmed himself. “First those bugs and now this! Fantastic job, Fiona!

“Are you implyin' it's my fault?” Fiona glared down at him.

“You're supposed to be the brains of the group, aren't ya?” Tony mentioned. “Shouldn't you have figured out the correct path for the diamond by now? Seems to me you're doing a pretty bad job at it.”

Fiona then grabbed him by the ears, lifting him to her eye level, her eyes filling to the brim with inner rage.

“Did you just call me stupid, ya flea-ridden galoot?”

“Gee, I think that was on Jeopardy last night!” Tony replied mockingly, crossing his arms.

“OOOOOH YOU!”

While they were bickering and arguing, none of them were paying attention to their surroundings, completely oblivious that the crystal guardian behind sprung to life, its helmet now gleaming with a pair of glowing white orbs serving as its eyes. Given its massive size, the guardian lowered itself and let out an ear-piercing howl, shaking the temple to its very foundation.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH SHUT UP!” Fiona shouted in an irritated tone, not even bothering to turn her gaze towards the guardian as she raised her left leg and kicked it into the wall so hard that it shattered to a million pieces and left a hole for them to pass through.

Tony shook his head in disbelief after realizing what his partner had done and his anger melted almost immediately.

“Wow! That was amazing, Fiona!” Tony praised her.

“Don't change the subject, ya bamboo-eating shrimp!” she yelled with an ill-tempered tone.

“No, no! I mean it!” Tony waved his hands before her frantically. “Look!”

Fiona rotated her head almost mechanically, gasping upon spotting the hole in the wall.

“D-D-Did I do that?” she stammered, covering her mouth with her palm.

“You sure did, partner!”

Tony then lowered his head, feeling ashamed and apologized to her in a humble tone. “Look, I'm really sorry for what I said about you. I was just in a bad mood, that's all. I didn't mean anything I said. Can you, ever, forgive me?”

Tony yelped as he saw her lifting her other hand, cowering in fear before feeling his body pressed against her chest, her arms wrapped around his waist and her chin pressed against the top of his forehead.

“Aww, ya sure have a way with words if you can swoon the heart of this old gal, ya little pipsqueak. I can't stay mad at ya.” she said softly with tears in her eyes.

“Glad to hear that. Now, come on. We got a diamond to find.”

“Eeeyup.”

-~o~-

It took a lot of trail and error, narrow dodges of life-threatening scenarios and a little bit of luck, but it all came to an end when both parties managed to locate the center of the temple. Positioned in the middle of a circular room on a pedestal was the Diamond of Light, a large white gem gleaming with all seven colors of the rainbow as the light reflected upon it from an open hatch in the ceiling. Guarding the Diamond was a row of Crystal Guardians, identical to the one Fiona had destroyed, all of them facing the diamond as they made a protective ring around it.
This was it. The final showdown. No more games. The kid gloves were off. It was just them and the prize. Only one pair was going to leave this temple with the prize and neither one wanted for this expedition to end as a failure.

Isabella wasted no time and rushed towards the diamond, only to be hit in the head by Tony, who had curled into a ball and was used by Fiona as a projectile to knock Isabella off her feet. Seizing the opportunity, Fiona hopped towards pedestal, her hands reaching forward only to trip and fall to the ground as Milo grabbed her by the tail.

“Not so fast, Fiona!”

“You're gonna pay for that, ya long-eared, two-timing varmint!” Fiona barked, as she rolled over and kicked Milo in the stomach with her feet, the fox gliding across the room till colliding with one of the Crystal Guardians, the statue, dangerously, wobbling back and forth upon impact. Tony, after adjusting his hat and wiping off the dust from his suit, was ready to claim the diamond and score one for his team but there was one problem: the koala was too short to reach the top of the pedestal. Tony cursed loudly as he hopped like a rabbit in a futile attempt to snatch the diamond, only for Isabella to pick it up gracefully and laughing at the koala's “little” disadvantage.

“Milo, catch!” Isabella handed the diamond to Milo with a toss only for Fiona to catch it in mid-air.

Milo clenched his fists as he then wrapped his arms around Fiona, tickling her.

“HEY! LET GOAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH!” the kangaroo roared in laughter, trying to push the fox away with her tail.

Tony drew out his laser pistols before noticing a large shadow behind him. In their squabble, all of them had failed to notice that, after Isabella lifted the diamond from the pedestal, all of the Crystal Guardians had come to life and were closing in on the treasure hunters, ready to pummel the thieves.

“It seems that we are in a rather precarious situation. I think we should put aside our differences, for now, and remove the obstructions on our path, yes?” Milo suggested, letting go of Fiona and reaching into his jacket to pull out his own laser pistol.

“What?” Tony exclaimed. “You had a gun of your own and you didn't use it until now?”

“I only draw it when it's absolutely necessary.” Milo replied, recharging it.

“I thought I told you to leave that damn thing at home!” Isabella frowned at Milo, displeased that Milo had disobeyed her demand. Isabella wasn't that big of a fan of guns.

“We can discuss this later! Now, let's stop our petty fight and deal with these nuisances!”

Tony had no objections and neither did Isabella and Fiona as, after they glanced at each other for a few seconds, had come to conclusion that they had to work together or none of them would have left the temple alive and with the diamond.

The odds were not stacked in the guardians' favor as the combined strength of both parties was more than a match for them. Both Tony and Milo ripped through them with their laser pistols, the beams penetrating the guardians' torsos leaving them with numerous holes like they were made of swiss cheese, Fiona used her legs to kick one of the guardian that fell backwards, knocking the others standing behind him in a straight line like they were pieces of domino while Isabella used a different tactic by leaping in the air and slicing them in half with her fingers. One by one, the guardians fell, defeated by the Raiders.

Despite celebrating their triumphant victory, one of the fallen guardians wanted to make sure that, regardless of their losses, nobody would get their hands on the diamond as it rose its gargantuan fists and smashed it into millions of small fragments.

Milo, Isabella, Fiona ceased their laughter in a flash as they noticed the now shattered remains of the Diamond of Light while Tony was still cheering, oblivious to what had transpired as he was singing with his eyes shut tight. And that was when Fiona completely lost it. A pulsating vein was popping out of her vein, her eyes began to glow white as her entire body was engulfed with a reddish aura of fury, her teeth gritted to the point that they would crack like glass. Thinking fast, Milo swiped a few of the fragments with his tail, rushed over to Isabella, held her around the waist and picked a grappling hook, aiming it at the open hatch. Before Isabella could say anything, they were already outside, sliding down to the ground like they were snowboarding.

“Milo, what is-?”

“I'll explain later! Just run!”

After reaching a safe distance...

“Milo, what was going on back there?”

“You're about to find out one of the reasons I broke up with Fiona in three, two, one...” Milo checked his watch and soon enough, Fiona let out all of her rage in one powerful, booming shriek that shook the ground tremendously, reducing the temple to a pile of rubble.

“Woah!” Isabella exclaimed, taking a step backwards.

“Yup. She sure has one short fuse to complete her explosive personality.” Milo explained.

“I see what you did there.”

“Well, at least I managed to snag these.” Milo showed Isabella the smaller diamonds in his palm, sitting down on the grass. “We could get a good price on them at a jewelry store. Arnab will be at our throats for not recovering the diamond, but at least this adventure wasn't a total loss unlike last time.”

“You can say that again.” Isabella said, sitting down beside Milo.

“And I'm thinking of maybe having someone carve some earrings and some rings from these little babies-”

Milo didn't even have time to finish for Isabella pounced on him and kissed him deeply, the fox closing his eyes and kissing her back, hugging her tightly.

Meanwhile, at the now remains of the temple...

“If I told you once, Fiona, I've told you a million times. GIVE ME SOME WARNING BEFORE YOU BRING DOWN THE HOUSE!”

THE END!

Credits:

Written by Imagination Persona and all characters featured in this story have been created by Imagination Persona.

The story was written for entertainment purpose only.
Episode 3: I ain't scared of no ghost! (While searching for a lost family heirloom in an abandoned mansion, Milo and Isabella experience a number of paranormal events)

Tales of the Paragon Raiders Episode 2: The Rivals

ImaginationPersona

12 October 2016 at 14:10:55 MDT

Follow the expeditions of the treasure hunters, Milo Velox and Isabella Vulpea, that would take them to lost and forgotten locations, facing many dangers, and uncovering hidden truths!

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