Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Dragon Knights Sentai ❯ Stepping Up To The Challenge ( Chapter 6 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Welcome back to Dragon Knights Sentai, a fanfiction based on the works of Mineko Okhami's Dragon Knights. This is chapter six, so we're about halfway through the main story. Working out the story beforehand and typing up skeletons for the chapters worked really well, although it has taken far longer than I thought it would to post the whole thing. I've edited and re-edited and by the time I've finished with the last chapter, there'll probably be glaring mistakes in the first chapter again. It hasn't been worked to death though, still feels fresh and I'm still very proud of it.

Read on and enjoy.

Lykouleon found out about Nadil's plan very shortly after. It wasn't that Dragoon Pictures had a better spy network than Kainaldia Productions, just that Kharl had to bargain for time off, so that he could make his big debut in Youkai Sentai. They battled in the cosy office, checked out the view and re-read the contract, before Lykouleon agreed to let Kharl off the leash.

"That leaves me in a spot, though," the producer mused. "What do I do if I need a bad guy in a hurry and you're stuck at Nadil's beck and call?"

"Can I recommend a young actor named Garfakcy," replied Kharl, helping himself to the sweets on Lykouleon's desk. "I've worked with him before and he's very good."

Lykouleon got the boy's number and promised to call. As soon as Kharl had cleared the building, Lykouleon pushed a button and his assistant put out the word to the production staff: crisis meeting, fully catered. He lounged back in the plush chair and twiddled his thumbs while he waited and then stuffed himself with chicken wings and finished off the chocolate truffles. The staff arrived in dribs and drabs, shuffled into the room, greeted each other, settled into chairs and started picking at the remains. When the buzz of conversation died down, Lykouleon broke the news, his familiar smile oddly absent:

"We've had free reign for the first three episodes, but Kainaldia is playing catch-up and their storyline looks good."

Choruses of moans and reverse sighs echoed through the room. "Kainaldia? They're a good company," stated Tetheus, resisting the urge to suck air in through his teeth.

"Kharl's been hired by them, too," admitted Lykouleon, tempted by another spicy piece of chicken. He tore it into pieces and then popped them into his mouth.

"How can that happen?" asked Cernozura. She was still in the middle of pulling draft scripts and notes out of her bag.

"Well, he insisted that his contract allow for public appearances at children's hospitals and television interviews, as well as one-off pieces of theatre." Lykouleon shrugged: Kharl's riders were notorious, but he was usually worth the extra effort it took to hire him. "It turns out that what was signed also covers long stretches in rival company productions."

"I'd fire whoever drew up that contract," Alfeegi muttered, pushing himself back from the table and looking grimly to either side.

"Oh, we won't see Lamganas again. Anyway, Cernozura," he said, focusing on the script-writer, "we really need you now. They've made overtures to Kirikulus and we need to ramp up our show to match his cred. What's the latest trend?"

Her mouth bobbed open and it was Kai-Stern that piped up: "Boys' love!"

Lykouleon looked past him and spoke directly to Ruwalk. "What's really now?"

"He's right, sir," sighed the designer, tapping his pen against his sketchpad. "It is boys' love. Even shows that aren't aimed directly at women are slipping some in."

"Boys' love it is then!" exclaimed Lykouleon, with a sudden burst of enthusiasm. Kai-Stern was the only one to join in, letting out a hearty "Woo-hoo!"

"Sir?" asked Cernozura, linking names on her notepad with arrows, hearts and mathematical symbols. "Are you sure that you want your son to be in a boys' love show?"

"You're right," he replied, smashing a fist into an open hand. "She'll use that to try and get custody back." Kai-Stern deflated and so did Cernozura. "Still, who said that it had to be the boys?" They looked at him, hope gleaming in their eyes. "I don't want Rath to feel left out, but how about we chuck in a few attractive older guys, some sort of older brother types and then put vaseline on the lens and give them soft focus shots whenever they're together?"

"How're we going to find some hot guys at short notice?" asked Kai-Stern.

"Do you still have an equity card?" replied the producer, face carefully impassive.

Kai-Stern nodded.

Lykouleon smiled. "That's one."

Kai-Stern's face froze while he tried to process the information and Ruwalk laughed.

Lykouleon chuckled along. "Once we organise a card for Ruwalk, that'll be two."

"Me, sir? I'm flattered," started Ruwalk. He didn't finish, just rubbed the back of his head and grinned.

"Okay then, that's a start." The producer brought his hands together and rubbed them briskly. "What else can we do to compete with Nadil?"

"Maybe we could add a darker twist to the storyline," rumbled Tetheus from his corner.

"And some light romance, to balance it and make the dark bits harder to bear," added Cernozura. "Our young heroes should have girls to take some of the burden away and shore them up in dark moments.

"Good call," said Lykouleon. "Now, then, possible choices for the love interests?"

"How about Cesia, the girl from the first episode?" asked Ruwalk. "She's about the right height for Rath and they'd look good together."

"I liked her," agreed Tetheus. "She was easy to work with."

"Rune is an elf," added Alfeegi, making a note to call Cesia's agent, "so we could say that he's actually a few hundred years old and already married."

"Then why doesn't he live with her, or mention her at all?" said Kai-Stern, pouring scorn on Alfeegi's idea.

"What if their love is a tragic one?" asked Cernozura, scribbling away furiously. "Elves are magical, so Rune's story should be a fairy-tale."

"And his wife's Cinderella?" joked Ruwalk.

"Or Sleeping Beauty," corrected Tetheus. "If some tragedy made her fall asleep, then Rune wouldn't want to talk about it and it'd explain the nervous energy that the actor has on camera."

"And Thatz?" asked Kai-Stern.

"I can't see Thatz in any sort of relationship," muttered Cernozura. "Besides, we can't pair them all up that neatly or that quickly."

Tetheus nodded and Lykouleon drew the meeting to a close.

"That's settled then. Alfeegi, sign up Cesia and we'll re-introduce her in the episode after next. The current arc should wrap up in one more, right?" Cernozura responded by pulling a script out of her bag and sliding it across the table. "Okay, then so next week, the Dragon Queen sends the boys on a mission of great danger and urgency. Someone gets badly hurt and a few innocent extras die on camera. Anything else? Oh yes: Kai-Stern and Ruwalk should appear, even briefly, and fawn over each other a bit. We don't want it to seem as though this new direction is a response to Nadil. It should appear as though this was planned from the very start."


Of course, no-one told Rath. He was surprised when Bierrez broke off their unfriendly sparring to go and talk to a girl who'd just stepped out of wardrobe. "You know her?" he asked, trying to remember where he'd seen the girl before. She was dressed in high quality clothing, although it was without the brocade and frills that marked a noble of Dragon Knights Sentai.

"This is Cesia," said Bierrez, reluctantly stepping aside long enough for Rath to see her face. "We went to the same acting school for a few years. I dropped out to concentrate on stunt choreography, but she stayed."

"At least until my evil aunt died and I had to make my own way," said Cesia, pushing Bierrez aside and offering her hand to Rath. "I've been offered enough work to keep me. I was in the first episode as the witch's ward."

"That drippy, little peasant was you?" said Rath. "But you were a demon, weren't you? I hate demons!" With that, he stormed off.

"What's crawled up his ass?" asked Cesia.

"Method acting," responded Bierrez, morosely. "Anyway how're you?"

"Not too bad. I'm looking after a kid part-time to pay my rent." She frowned and scanned the area, before biting her lip and leaning in to whisper, "look you haven't seen him have you? His name's Zoma. I stashed him in the prop room before my scene, but he was gone when I came back, along with a space hopper."

"We'd better find him before the producer hires him," sighed Bierrez, shouldering his sword and offering her his free hand.

Rune waved at them on his way to fetch Raseleane. He had jumped at the chance to escort her onto set and talk a little bit about her music. It was funny, but three episodes in and he still hadn't seen her around set much. Lykouleon, the producer, tended to monopolise her, even when she was shooting a scene, miming encouragement from the sidelines and annoying everyone. Raseleane took it all in good grace. She was a lady and above pesky annoyances, like huge fans asking for autographs. Yes, Raseleane wouldn't mind signing a few albums, pictures, or toilet covers.

He sang as he rapped on the door to her trailer. "Knock, knock, knock."

"Come in."

Rune took a huge breath, puffed out his chest and climbed into the trailer. It was decorated in soft pinks and was more luxurious than the one he shared with Thatz and Rath. It was also bereft of one Raseleane. A small, blonde girl sat by the table, smiling gently at him instead.

Rune crooked a half smile as he tried to figure out whether make-up could make that much of a difference to someone's appearance. "Could it be a wig? That marvellous crown of hair?" he muttered under his breath as he timorously approached.

"Sorry," said the girl. "Can I help you?"

Soft, blonde hair, prettier even than Rune's own wig, framed a lovely face. She wasn't Raseleane, but she might have been cast from the same china.

"Um," he stammered, stepping closer. "They, they, uh, they, want Lady Raseleane on set. It's um, it's um, our, our big scene."

The gentle smile froze. "She's not here."

"She's not?" repeated Rune, mouth gaping like a fish. "Who're you?"

"I'm Tintlett," replied the girl, her head falling into her hands and her feet kicking the table. "I'm Raseleane's Personal Assistant and my first day is not going well at all."

"Tintlett," repeated Rune. "What a lovely name!"


Rune and Tintlett ran into the studio, hand in hand. The giddy knight pranced up to Tetheus and Alfeegi, suppressed the tingles in his stomach and put on his serious face before speaking to them. "There's a problem. Raseleane's not here."

"They've released the theme song as a single and she's promoting it," added Tintlett once she'd caught her breath.

"Whose idea was that!" snapped Tetheus, coldly.

Tintlett shrank under his glare, but found strength when Rune squeezed her hand. "Ugh, the producer rang this morning and said that he'd arranged a round of interviews. She sent me to her trailer to pick up her things and meet at the studio. Since Lykouleon was the show's producer, I didn't think that I needed to talk to anyone." She shook her head and sighed miserably. "I was hired so that this sort of thing wouldn't happen."

"That's it; we're screwed," stated Alfeegi, throwing some papers into the air which fluttered down as scurrying figures tried to catch them. "Who needs to worry about Nadil, when our own producer is sabotaging us? We need to shoot this scene today. We're on location tomorrow! There's nothing we can do."

"Calm down," said Tetheus. "We can improvise. Go to wardrobe and put on some sort of noble clothing."

"What?" replied Alfeegi.

"We'll see if we can shoot around you and then fix it all in the post production," responded Tetheus, moving around his production manager and looking at him through his viewfinder. "We need someone on set for the knights to react to. Don't worry."

Alfeegi smacked his hands off his thighs. "How could that possibly work?"

"We'll dub Raseleane's voice over you," mumbled Tetheus, while gesturing to Delte.

"I look nothing like her," expounded Alfeegi, grabbing onto Tetheus and pulling his attention back.

The director stared at him blankly. "We'll think of something."

His head dropped onto Tetheus's chest. "I thought that Ruwalk and Kai-Stern..."

"Ruwalk's applying make-up to some demons. That'll take hours and Kai's not here. Just go," he replied, shooing the reluctant actor away. "Ask Ruwalk for some make-up and a wig."


Alfeegi did not look comfortable on film. He moved stiffly, missed his marks and his expression implied that milk was curdling in his mouth. Tetheus eventually told him to stand still while they shot over his shoulder, but that came out badly too. While he and Delte looked over the playback and tried to work out a plan to get blood from Alfeegi, the knights grew bored.

"Alfeegi," shouted Rath. "Why's a girl doing all your talking for you?"

Rune elbowed him in the back and waved to Tintlett, who had been reading Raseleane's lines off-camera. She waved back. "Alfeegi's the boss," he hissed. "Behave."

"Actually," yawned Rath, without covering his mouth, "my dad's the boss. He hired Alfeegi."

"He wouldn't dare fire me," snapped Alfeegi, fire flaring in his eyes. "The amount of crap I have to deal with, he couldn't get anyone else to do it. He'd kill your character off before firing me. I have a better contract."

"Then why're you the stand-in for Raseleane? How come they didn't pick out some two bit ham? Anyone'd do a better job Alfeegi, you're awful at this," added Thatz, firing pot-shots from a safe position behind Rath.

"Kai-Stern and Ruwalk are supposed to handle this sort of thing." Alfeegi simmered, his clenched fists were trembling and his shoulders shook. "They were professional actors: I just wanted to direct! I didn't want money or girls, I wanted to create something of my own! I hate being on camera."

"I dunno, Alfeegi," Thatz consoled him. "You don't always look this bad." He passed a sly wink to Rath, who grinned.

Rath pouted and posed with a hand on his hip. "Hi there," he purred. "I'm Alfeegi and... Hey! What're you doing?"

Alfeegi pulled the wig from his head and threw it onto the ground. "I've had enough!" he screamed. "It should be bloody Ruwalk dealing with you three. Why in the hells is he so damn busy that he can't spare time to give you this stupid quest?" He thrust a bag into Rune's hands, who stumbled backwards and nearly dropped it. Alfeegi advanced on Thatz who was cowering behind Rath. "Take that and go to Mt. Emphaza!"

Rath opened his mouth and Alfeegi shouted "RATH! THATZ! JUST DO AS YOU'RE TOLD! TAKE IT AND GO!"

The troublesome twosome stumbled over each other in their haste to escape. Rune stayed behind, then gave a nervous grin, waved and ran off after them.

Alfeegi slumped and turned to the camera. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'll do it again when they come back."

"No need," replied Tetheus. "We got the shot we wanted."

Thanks for reading even more. I hope you liked it. All feedback is appreciated, so please click on the review button.