The Pain Gang drove into the monkey business area. Every ape hustles at every corner of the city. Civilities cloned from nadir, ambitious primates now flood every market. The Pain Gang roved on their bikes next to the hottest casino on the block.

Daisy stopped them in their tracks. “The man who owns this casino,” she said walking towards Sticks, “is not the man who owns this casino.”

“But he is the man who owns this casino.”

“Tell him we want the cash!” Master Pain commanded.

“He’s fifteen grand short,” James said, adjusting his firm shoulders. “Actually, we’re 15 grand short,” he complained, adjusting his black shades.

“Take no deal less than ten grand. Next time we’ll take a ten or settle for a five on a seven point five deal.” Daisy said, cementing his debt profile, she then took off.

Sticks frowned at her as she was leaving. “Where are you going?”

“A lady needs some air. Catch you later!” she waved her hand behind her.

“I need to put on some weight. Knock on a local gym, if you don’t find me there, it means I’m at the bar,” Master Pain said as he grabbed his fist, growling with hunger.

James murmured, “Check mate.” playing again with the shades. “Something smells fishy out here and I trust my senses,” he said, sniffing the air.

“Kick that friend of yours real good. I’ll check you later,” Master Pain said, bouncing off his belly to the nearest restaurant.

Sticks pulled off his two combat sticks, unfolding them from the back and wrestled around spherically on his way to the casino.


Tom and Freddy stood in line with a unit of ten other young men. They stood clothed in black while Tom had a white arm. Blade lectured them about the upcoming battle between men and the beast. Stationed above thousands and thousands, unattended Cobos awaited their burdens.

“Ever since we last broke apart from the animals four years back,” Blade said, standing before them, “we have managed to survive on our own. Built our homes in isolation while they settled on the surface. Now!” he roared. “Now we need to own our place back in the world!”

The flock got excited.

“And you’re the top ten young men who are most likely to get the job done!” Blade saw that Tom was not impressed. “In the next few weeks, we may launch the attack at any time. I need all of you well prepared. Those who succeed will officially earn their place in the high ranks of the human dominance!” he promised, flaring up. “Now go back there and breed a strong army.” The crowd flew off while Blade seized Tom and Freddy.

“You don’t seem to be getting along with the crew,” he said, staring at Tom.

“We’re getting along just fine,” and he noticed that Freddy’s gesture revealed that there wouldn’t be any problems.

“Great!” Then, “go join the others,” Blade said, pacified.

Tom looked back at Blade with the same posture getting his wings worked up. Hosted by a diligent man, Kate along with Ember folded their wings over Mifflin’s front yard with a large gathering. They both walked towards Mr Mifflin who was credited with the drinks.

Kate said, loudly enough for everyone to hear, “Excuse me sir! Can we find Gabriel? We’re both her friends!”

“Yeah, she’s at the house!” Mr Mifflin said putting up a bottle to show his new mates.

Kate pushed through to the house, pulling Ember along. “Excuse us!” pausing in her path. “Excuse us please!” they finally met Mrs Mifflin who sat in isolation while her neighbour shielded her grin.

“Hi! Can we see Gabriel?”

“Everybody wants to meet Gabriel,” the neighbour said, and they all laughed until the girls gave up asking.

“She’s locked herself up in her room!” Cindy shouted grabbing Kate’s attention from beneath. Kate and Ember knocked at her door within the noisy house.

“Gabriel open up! It’s us, Kate and Ember!”

Moving hair from her forehead, Gabriel raised up from her bed surprised and unbarred a mesh. “Wow! It’s really you guys! Come on in!” Kate embraced her first, then Ember.

Cindy ran in as Gabriel said: “You also come in quickly!”

“Ken paid you a visit and you’re still here?!” Kate gasped, studying her room.

“This is my boy friend’s house,” Gabriel said, rushing to her bed and called for Cindy to join her.

“What do you expect? Come join your big sister!” and they both settled on her huge pillows.

“I thought you said you couldn’t come with us?” Ember said, as she went to sit close to Gabriel while Kate stood far off, wondering the same thing.

“I guess I was wrong,” Gabriel said caressing Cindy’s hair with tenderness.

Kate walked by. “I’m quite sure the king knows who your daddy is. So why did he forget you down here just like that?”

Cindy started, “She asked her…” but Gabriel playfully closed her mouth and said: “You talk a lot for a lady.” Cindy laughed as Kate set her suspicions high.

Ember grabbed her arms. “Come on Gabriel, you’re not good at keeping secrets!”

“You’ve got a point there, Ember,” said Kate, intruding with the bed set. “She’s going to tell us everything from the moment we lost her,” she said, crawling towards her sinfully.

“Okay! You can all chill your wings, it’s getting fluffy out here,” Gabriel muttered, puffing feathers in the ballpark. “Well, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received if I had come with you. On my way to the city, I caught up with Tom and his creepy buddy. He understood why I was heading back to my dad. His creepy buddy also withdrew, saying his place with Tom would put both their lives in danger because Ken wouldn’t think twice about them. I handed him my phone so we could stay in touch and since then I’ve found a way to escape the city to be with my love! Which got my dad agitated at times!” she said smugly.

“So he does not know you’re out here?” Ember asked.

“By now he probably does, but not with the rest of you,” she said frowning. “I mean I escaped from under his animal servants.”

Cindy was looking at her crown. “And if he attacked Porto?”

Gabriel rested her head. “It wouldn’t be because of me. He knows I hate it there without humans.” Looking at them all, she said, “I’m so happy to be re-united with you guys!”

Ember gave her a hug. “I’m also glad you’re back home, Gabriel!”

“And you also come here!” Gabriel, with her open arms, welcomed Kate.

“But tell me what happened when Ken came down here,” Kate said determined to carry on with the story. “The event seemed to have got everyone talking!”

Gabriel looked at her. “Now it’s your turn, Cindy.”

“He asked her to join him for a dinner at the castle!”

“Get out of here!” Ember yelled, ruffling her fur with great spirit as Gabriel approved.

Kate held Ember’s hand with great satisfaction. “No way! We’re going to the king’s castle!”

“No, I don’t trust this man’s intentions, girls,” said Gabriel, blocking the way to more fantasies.

They all lost it and started dancing on her bed, while Gabriel and Cindy laughed at them. Kate came to grab the resistant Gabriel who asked, “Am I the only one missing the picture here?” but she soon tagged along with little Cindy as they bounced in the air.

Late in the afternoon, Gabriel was accompanied by her two friends and they were making a noise outside the castle. “I’m not sure about this,” said Gabriel, unsure whether to proceed with the appointment. “He said at seven and we’re already one hour late.” She was impatient with the heavy make-up.

“But he said it’s a dinner and it’s like we’re late for a breakfast out here,” Ember kept checking Gabriel’s dress for perfection.

“The sun never falls around here!” Kate yelled.

“Tom doesn’t even know I’m here,” Gabriel was freaking out. “He will be furious to find me here, I mean he really hates the guy!” she said, crying dry tears.

“NO! NO! NO!” Kate shouted looking at her deeply. “Don’t you die on me here!” she held her head up. “We’ll always be there for you, okay?”

Guards played dead to their presence. Ember held Gabriel’s dress up on the stairs as Kate kept her hand, ringing the doorbell. Gabriel looked behind but could only witness an ever-smiling Ember. They were welcomed by a gentleman.

“We’re no longer in Porto!” Kate observed as Ember trailed behind. The paintings dated far back, observing each piece over the reddish aisle. They met at the sealed dinner table as the smell evoked an appetite. The gentleman unbound three recliners. It was a cabinet for kings.

“Can I get you anything, ladies?” he asked amiably

“Where is the man of the moment? We don’t like to be kept waiting!” Kate asked.

“You have bad manners, Kate!” Ember chided her.

“Yeah, but she usually has a point. We’ve got places to be.” Gabriel said cordially.

“In just a minute, Ken will shortly indulge in your presence.” The royal gentleman replied.

Four royal guards came down the stairs and followed Ken, carrying a red fur. The ladies were worried about Gabriel’s prospects. Ken was delighted with his own magnificence. “Ladies!” he shouted. “What a pleasant surprise that you’re all here to join me!” he said, taking a seat.

“She wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for all of us,” Kate mumbled. “I’m Kate,” she said.

Ken smiled at her. “Why, thank you for your trouble. I’m ravenous!”

“And this is Ember,” Kate added.

“It’s great to finally meet our king,” Ember expanded her greetings. Ken graciously bowed.

“You’re all welcome. And you’re Gabriel?” he asked in some confusion.

“Yep!” Gabriel said very fondly. “The offspring of your greatest enemy, I guess.”

“Hmmm. You don’t seem like an enemy to me,” he condensed his fears.

“I’m a free agent of course, if you ask,” she said and Ember glared at her.

Blade joined them. “Interesting, if I may add,” he said, slightly joking. “What I heard is that you’re here because of someone close to you,” he added as he moved behind his brother. “Ever thought of the consequences of trying to stay in Porto? Why would you possibly decide to come and join us, Gabriel, since your loving father is the great enemy of Porto?” he asked, coming out from behind the shoulders of Ken.

“As you will have heard,” Kate said smugly, “she’s not really considering taking part in your little dispute. She’s a free agent!” Blade and Kate shared a friendly rivalry.

“Okay. Now I’m feeling really hungry,” Ken said and rang the chef’s bell.

They all took some time to get to know each other informally. A companionable dinner was shared by a full house. The guards howled with laughter as fleshy bones dripped in the air. The chef brought more meat and wine wrapped on sundry trays. Gabriel and Ember experimented with large fruits, watching as Kate and Blade chattered to one side.

“Well, that one went quickly!” Gabriel said relieved, devouring grapes.

“She’s never been late for her opponents’ wallet harvests!” Ember chuckled.

In the dark, Ken was near the caged beastie, planning an appropriate approach to his objectives with Gabriel. “I have three ways to do this,” he pondered, walking past the bars behind which rested a twenty-seven-foot tall griffin. “One: I can ask her to help us defeat the world or maybe arrest them for violating the laws of Porto,” he said halting, “Or just tell her it’s not safe to go back out there,” he said, looking at the growling animal. “But, definitely, she’s never leaving this castle!” he said meaningfully. He walked over to the ladies. “Someone wants to meet you, Gabriel,” he said, undaunted.

Gabriel laughed. “One of dad’s pet buddies followed me. I have to go see her.” Ember stole a kiss before letting her go. They strolled away from the monstrosity trapped in the shade. “I never knew she would run all this way to try to bring me back,” she said, looking up at Ken’s shady face.

“At first, I also didn’t believe you would be here, but then again, we heard rumours that you might be, so we kept her safe.”

They reached the cage in which rested the big wild cat.

“Let me in, I want to talk to her,” Gabriel said, looking at the guards. Ken approved her request and they unlocked the bars. Ken and his guards drew their swords and followed Gabriel walking towards the enormous leopard. “Linda!” she whispered, and the leopard finally woke up, seeing Gabriel coming in. “Can you remember what happened?” Linda rose viciously on high alert.

“You’re sure it’s the same cat you once knew?” Ken asked from behind Gabriel.

“Gabriel, what are you doing here with those murderers?” Linda asked.

“To me they’re still a society I used to live with. I’ve always been part of them,” said Gabriel loyally.

“I see!” Linda responded from her dark corner, as she sat with her back against the wall.

“When you’re both done, you will let the guards know,” Ken said, and swept out of the room.


John Ferguson enhanced his vocation searching for improved experiments. Peter, as always, was the first to deliver the new discovery. “We can now determine the light of the universe,” he proclaimed, next to the scientist.

“And what is in it for me?” Dr Ferguson asked suspiciously, viewing the caged star.

“You can create a new sustainable sun for Earth,” said Peter, his glowing eyes glued near the solar unit.

“I don’t care about the Earth!” Dr Ferguson shouted. “I want my own invention! Your job is to give me a new world!”

“We are 45% complete with the mission, Master!” Peter simpered.

“And one more thing,” Dr Ferguson was engrossed with the burning solar system, “it’s time I re-invent myself again.” The bug repositioned himself far away from the mad scientist. “I want to become a Darden!” Dr Ferguson shocked them all with swaddled hands, he prolonged the evil laughter, intimidating every bug employee in the lab.