A couple friends and I are writing a Combo Story over email, and this crossover between them was the result. This story is now considered canon in the Underground Series, but (spoiler alert) it takes place well into the future of the story. At the time I'm posting this, I haven't even finished the second chapter of book 2 (but I am close). Still, considering how quickly this is coming, and since it shows my readers the kinds of adventures they can look forward to, I have obtained permission from my fellow authors to start posting it.
Starland reported to his master's summoning expecting to receive orders about another attack or some other such thing. He certainly didn't expect to see a holographic projection of the Dark Lord in Devios's chamber. If the most secretive mastermind in the world was personally contacting them rather than using that messenger robot of his, this must be important. Devios Sneakay Longdrake 10th was standing next to the hologram, and once the entrance was closed, proceeded to instruct Starland. "Starland, you remember our little excursion to the Aboveground thirty years ago, yes?" Starland nodded, being sure to use the appropriate head. How could he forget the rush to grab the Elemental Orb of Darkness? By all reports the queen and her lot were still puzzling over where it disappeared to. And understandably so; the Dark Lord's Nazgul had come rushing in out of nowhere, taking advantage of the fight between Devios's and the queen's forces to grab the Orb and take it back to the Dark Lord. Only Devios and Starland had known prior to the battle that the Orb would go to the Dark Lord; few others even knew the Dark Lord existed. "So then," the Dark Lord stated, "you remember that I have the Orb of Darkness as is proper?" Again Starland nodded. "Then you can imagine my confusion at receiving the report on the screen in front of you." Starland hadn't noticed the screen in front of him. He glanced through it and then went back and reread it his interest increasing with each word he read. It was impossible, but the energy signatures could only mean one thing; a second Dark Orb had been detected! "This requires our immediate attention. Your orders are to select a small but strong scout force of no more than twelve to go and retrieve whatever is causing these readings."
Bang! Sparks flew everywhere. Bang! Lucia brought down her hammer with great force, striking the metal, causing more sparks. A look around the room left in no doubt her skill; shining helmets, flashy swords, and pieces of armor scattered around the room. Lucia focused all her thoughts on the metal, bringing the hammer back for another strike. She tried not to let her thoughts wander to other things, to other people, to him. Bang, she slammed the hammer down angry that she let herself worry about his situation. She stormed from the forge room, tears welling up in her eyes, and flung herself onto the mat lying on the ground.
She woke up to a chorus of pots and pans crashing to the floor. Confused, she sat up to see him in the kitchen. Turning to pick up the pans, he made eye contact. "My fingers slipped," he said grinning. He quickly gathered up the pans. He mumbled out something that sounded like: "I fixed you up some food. Eat it quick, we've been summoned." She jumped up and walked over to the table. "Oh you made sausage and eggs" she said, trying to sound surprised. "At least I can cook something," he said while pulling her chair out for her. "I have to go, they asked me to show up early." She said nothing, knowing he wanted an excuse to groom his horse. He left nodding to her; she nodded back. After he left she crammed down the rest of the food and rushed out the door, grabbing her cloak as she went, and slammed the door.
Tahir looked around at his three cohorts uneasily. He wasn't sure whether it was forflex or just his gut, but he had a bad feeling about this assignment. It didn't help that all three of his companions were science-bound. Oh sure they were strong in their own right- heck, he'd trust any of them with his life, especially Richard -but being the only one in the group with powers put more responsibility on him than he was comfortable with. But with Cevin and Ava having disappeared off the edge of the earth, and Andy having to guard the castle, this was the most elite force the queen could muster without sending her aides or going on the mission herself. It also didn't help that Richard kept fumbling with the scanner. The closer they got to this mysterious power source, the more trouble Richard had pinpointing it or anything else for that matter. Twice they had almost bumped into some gold armored soldiers patrolling Sorcerer Tumar's borders.
Finally, Richard threw his hands up in exasperation. "It's got to be from the dark powers or a chaos artifact; there's no other explanation for the craziness of these readings." "Well, do we at least have a general search radius?" Tahir asked trying to sound more like a squad leader than he felt. Richard raised his eyebrows and exhaled loudly. "Maybe somewhere within 500 meters in a westerly direction, but with readings like this, we could end up with a much larger search radius." "Maybe we should go back with the information we have." This suggestion came from Commander Michal, leader over all of the troopers in the queen's forces. Right now though, the only person he outranked was the elite trooper Tero, a soldier who had proved his value on many occasions but refused all offers of promotion. Michal continued saying, "We're obviously dealing with something that requires the attention of a small task force, not a four man scout team." Tahir mulled it over. On the one hand, all the evidence suggested that Michal was right, but being as close to enemy territory as they were, if they went back for reinforcements, would the mystery energy source even be there when they got back, or would it have been discovered and spirited away for malicious purposes?
Tahir had just decided that they needed to keep going when Richard piped up. "Hang on, going back may be out of the question." Richard stared at his scanner for what felt like hours while everyone waited. At last he shook his head. "Sorry I must've imagined it. These readings are so chaotic I-wait!" Richard practically shoved the scanner into his nose. "Okay, this time I know I saw it. These readings may be all over the place, but that was definitely a twin agrarial levitator." Tahir's face turned a few shades lighter. This object had to be important for Devios to send T.A.L.S. this far away from his fortress.
Obviously, these chapters are shorter than normal, but that's the price you pay for writing a combo story. I'll put up more ASAP.