Kai Vs. Deranxio: Part 1 1/2
Art by katopia12
It was darker than black in the hole of a room she was shut in. Despicable conditions for a prisoner to be abandoned in... like being left in a desert. But then she was like a cockroach, and not even the desert could destroy her or her will to live.
She smashed one of the vermin under her foot, because she wasn't actually one of them. She was far more beautiful.
And smarter, she considered. And stronger!
She realized suddenly that she had just stepped on a cockroach. She snapped out of her daydreaming and reeled in horror, screaming wildly. The Xweetok ran back up the stairs and began pounding on the door of the basement, yelling, "Let me out already, Deli!"
The door opened promptly and a dirt-smeared, shivering Kai was suddenly looking up wide-eyed at a mutant gripping the handle. A tear was already falling down her cheek, but as she gaped at the mutant she found it even harder to stop herself from shaking. It wasn't her cousin leering down at her; it was a Flotsam, even more metaphorically disfigured.
"What do you think you're doing?" he questioned, his intonation so slight and his eyes so calm it frightened her.
She stumbled backward. As her vision blurred from her tears, she suddenly sprinted past the mutant and out of sight, barely hearing his call after her.
"That's my dirt!"
Kai fell against the wall with a heave. She had run herself out of energy, the jelly feeling in her legs confirming it. But for all of her flapping around, she had remembered what was going on. The bamboo floor, the high temperature, the aroma-ish smell: she was in Shenkuu.
Deli had locked her in the basement of the home of her cousin Flame's friends, as she and the rest of her family had been paying a visit for some reason she hadn't paid attention to. Instead of mingling, Kai had played outside most of the time; when she finally came in, Deli had trapped her and stuck her in the basement for who knows how many hours or days. She gritted her small teeth as she thought what a fool she had been to believe that there was a cookie tree down there.
She pulled herself up again and heaved one last deep breath, fully recovered. For the full minute she had spent hurtling through the strange house, she had discovered her family was gone. Very gone, for they had probably left and gone home to peaceful Neopia Central.
Despite that, she was done panicking. She had two objectives: find her family, and escape.
Carefully, she tiptoed down the hallway; stopping at the end of it, she peeked around the corner to discover the living room, brightly lit and well-decorated and not at all what Kai had hoped for. A Halloween Jetsam lounged on the couch, eyes closed and fins crossed over his chest; perhaps napping, perhaps dead.
The dull scene was interrupted as the Flotsam from before skipped in from the other side of the room, humming loudly. He halted immediately when he noticed the Jetsam. Kai, unnoticed, smiled. Excellent, more necessary exposition.
"Scep, I found another thing somewhere."
The Jetsam opened a single eye and frowned, apparently not slumbering. "Does it have tangible mass this time?"
"Yes!" the Flotsam assured. But he considered his word for a moment, then continued, "Yes!"
Scep rolled his eyes with much exaggeration and sighed. He lifted his head from a cushion and leaned upward, opening both of his eyes and glaring directly at the Flotsam.
The Flotsam stared back at him for a few seconds without responding. But with visible realization as he realized his friend expected something of him, he perked up and held up a crumbled ball of paper for the Jetsam to see.
Kai raised an eyebrow, wondering if he had been holding it when she first saw him.
He took a good minute to smooth it out, but finally cleared his throat and read, "Dear guys: our little cousin just couldn't get enough of your place, so she wanted to stay a bit longer. Don't mind her; she loves cold, dark places like this. Feel free to keep her for as long as you want, too, like forever."
The Flotsam looked back up at his friend and grinned. "It was on the basement door! A piece of tape was there, too."
The Jetsam's surprise, however much it amounted to, was nothing compared to Kai's. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped as she pulled her head back from the corner, processing the new information in melodramatic silence.
Deli! I'd expect as much from him, but if he and everyone else have left now, there's one thing I can't understand... she thought with a pause, significantly longer than necessary, how could he possibly have convinced the others to leave without me?
She clenched her teeth. I've got to learn more before I take any action!
With another peek around the corner to make sure the two residents were remaining in that room, Kai nodded in satisfaction. Scep was napping again and the Flotsam was now chewing on the paper.
Kai dashed away down the hall, resisting the innate urge to cartwheel. She was slowly creating a map inside her head of the house, remembering some faint directions from her earlier runaround.
The next room she found was unfamiliar, but looked like just the kind of lounge-ish guest place her family and their hosts could have been gathered in originally. Quickly, she darted forward and examined the most conspicuous objects about the room that might help her. First, a glass popcorn bowl with some fluffy pieces left; next, a highly stylized comic book; then, a different comic book she took five excellent minutes to enjoy; finally, some stupid pen-pal letters of her cousin's.
She stood in the middle of it all, looked around once more, and sighed. Of course she hadn't found any confirming clues as to if they had really gone home: she didn't have anything with which to dust for pawprints!
The sudden sound of thumping in the hallway disturbed her from her daydreams, the sound growing louder quickly. She glanced at the doorway to the room, her eyes wide and sharp, and without a second thought dived under one of the chairs.
Moments later she saw a set of red fins rush into the room followed by a dark blue set. Now fully conscious, Scep was saying frantically, "This is exactly the sort of thing you need to tell me sooner, Der! I'll go check the basement for her; it doesn't matter where you check because you're useless anyway!"
Kai nudged forward as Scep stomped off again. They're after me now? she thought, anxiousness slowly dominating her senses. Then, in that case... maybe there were no clues to find about my family after all. These fiends must have done something with them!
As a single drop of sweat trickled down her cheek, she gritted her teeth again but stopped quickly after she found them sore from previous heavy gritting. But the Flotsam, while Kai had been pondering, hadn't moved from where he stood after Scep left.
Kai edged as close as she could to the chair's flap, finally able to peek under it enough to see the Flotsam's face. He had no expression, and his eyes were frighteningly blank. Her pulse quickened. His nose twitched upward for a moment, then again, as she realized he was sniffing the air.
Like a reanimated corpse, he turned slowly in her direction, moving forward as he continued to check for some scent. Kai pulled up one of her arms nervously and sniffed it; she couldn't detect any odors strong enough for him to smell, but she looked back up just as he knelt down and whisked up the flap of the couch to her left. She cupped her paw over her mouth to restrain a gasp.
But her eyes widened in terror as she took it off to look at her arm once more, suddenly realizing what he could smell: the dirt she had accidentally rubbed into her fur! Whether he had a mental connection with it or something else, he was zoning in on it.
As she turned her head back up, the Flotsam had gotten back up, turning next to the chair Kai was under. He was now so close that she couldn't see his upper half. Slowly, he crept forward even farther, stopping inches away from his prey's hiding spot.
Kai braced herself, but hoped beyond all else she had ever hoped for all day that something, anything would miraculously distract him now.
A moment later she was staring him in the face. He was holding up the flap in his fin, six putrid yellow eyes ogling straight at her. Neither of the pets spoke.
The Flotsam jumped back up and put a fin to his mouth as he called, "Scep! I found somethi--"
Kai grabbed the popcorn bowl, leaped up, and smashed him over the head with it before he could finish. He fell to the floor again as she landed fluidly with a fast-beating heart, and she surveyed his still conscious body as she raced over what to do next.
But before she could react further, Scep had already jogged into the room, his eyes falling immediately on the two of them.
"Deranxio!" he yelled, though he had stopped just out of Kai's attack range instead of coming closer. She grunted back at him in passive aggression and gripped the bowl tighter in her paw.
Her attention was diverted just long enough for the Flotsam to climb back up fully, as she faced him again. He towered over her once again, this time some kind of a blank grin on his face that could only possibly be malicious, and she resisted her natural instinct to cower.
Instead, she confirmed the feel of cold glass in her grasp again and smashed it against Deranxio's cheek in another instant--but for the harder force she put into the blow, he had already adapted and blocked the blow without effort. The force recoiled back to Kai as she fell back to the ground, beads of sweat rolling down over her eyebrows as she grimaced up at the monster and his blank, unfaltering grin.
She narrowed her eyes and jumped up to smash him again, but he dodged her blow with a quick bend backwards; she followed through immediately with an aerial side kick to his head, but he grabbed her foot an inch before it connected. He dangled her in front of his face for a moment instead of continuing the fight, looking at her with a menacing curiosity. Startled and unnerved, Kai squirmed around helplessly for a few seconds before bringing up the bowl again and repeatedly smashing the fin that held her, until finally he dropped her anyway.
Scep held back from the brawl and shouted some words of either encouragement or insult to his friend, but Kai had no time to give him any attention. In a few more moments, it was clear his help wasn't needed by Deranxio anyway--as she landed another unfazing hit on him, he seized her arm and hurled her to the wall in a small, crumpled mess.
She picked herself back up slowly, grunting as she stumbled to her feet, and examined her enemy with slanted eyes: he hadn't moved forward, but his leer had grown even darker. His stance was still looming, and he looked ready to advance at a second's notice.
Kai thought through her options as quickly as she could afford. There was only one that could possibly save her from this heinous setup--she eyed the exit of a hallway right near her, and a split second later charged forward to her escape.
As she sprinted down the hallway and neared one of the other rooms, suddenly blocking her path was another pet as he rounded the corner ahead and started to head right in her direction. Without a chance for him to react, Kai jumped up and sent her bowl smashing onto his head.
But as she looked down at her victim, she realized the the poor figure was that of her cousin Inu, a white Lupe with eyes now reminding her of cartoon swirls. He hit the floor with a dull thud. Kai landed softly back on her feet, the flow of her adrenaline slowing slightly, and stared down at her dear elder relative with a casual calmness.
The shock suddenly hit her, and she looked at him with mixed horror and regret as she cried out, "They got Inu!"
A snicker from behind interrupted her sorrow, and she turned her head back to see her malicious Draik cousin Deli leaning against a wall behind her. He grinned down at her wickedly and remarked, "Wow, you're sure bent out of shape. Hope your poor hosts didn't have to endure too much devilry from you."
Kai twitched. She turned around fully, her arm quivering with rage as she glared at Deli straight in the eye. She sprang toward him, yelling, "Deli, you traitor--!"
But she felt his paw knock harshly against her body just as swiftly, like he was expecting the assault. His deflection sent her spiraling back toward the hall in an instant whirl of shape and color, but she wrested back control of her senses in a second, just time enough to recognize Deranxio standing right in her path over the body of her beloved cousin.
He and Deli must have been plotting against her from the start. But she had no further rage to release; she only felt the sturdy grip of the bowl in her paw again. Even as her head and vision spun around, she concentrated on the Flotsam's huge face, focusing on one final smash over the head. Her teeth were gritted and her ears laid back as she zeroed in, focusing everything--
The voice pierced her attention as she recognized it, and she looked down to see Inu's face looking back up at her with wide eyes and a far more shocked expression.
Their shared gaze broke as her noggin instead plowed directly into the Flotsam's face, smashing both of them against the wall in a loud, painful collision.
Untangling herself from him was just as painful, as she pulled herself out from underneath the Flotsam's massive whole. While she moaned and rubbed her sorest spots, Inu had already gotten back up with the new addition of a large bump to his forehead; he stared down at her in disbelief and sputtered, "Kai, what the heck are you doing? If you were acting this desperate, you should have just come to that freaky tea shop with the rest of us!"
She pulled herself up and rubbed her head, looking up at her cousin mildly. "The what?"
"Sceptical wanted more sleep and Deranxio doesn't drink much, so all of us but them and you went to have some tea and chat some more."
Deli coughed quietly from still behind them, and Kai tilted her head. "Sceppycal?"
The Jetsam, standing next to the fallen Flotsam, glared down at her and barked, "I'm right here!"
"Deli said you wanted to stay here and keep playing," Inu explained. He opened his mouth to continue, but stopped as he considered his words. Turning to Deli, he sighed, "That's the easiest one I've ever fallen for, isn't it?"
"Might just be," Deli replied.
Kai ignored him, but her eyes swelled up with tears as she looked up at her cousins. "You mean... you didn't go back home and abandon me?"
"No... no, we didn't," Deli sighed ruefully.
"We just came back to get you, and then we'll be headed home," Inu elaborated.
A small tear slid down Kai's cheek and she blubbered, "I'm... safe?"
No one responded to her this time. They mostly gave her odd looks, but she paid no attention and wiped her eyes instead, sniffing. She didn't have to panic or battle anymore. Her foe had not defeated her and destroyed her will to live.
She walked up and hugged her good cousin's leg, sniffing again, and turned her head back to the Flotsam as he finally climbed up from the floor, cricking his neck. She narrowed her eyes as he too turned toward her. He put that grin of his back on, and she met it with as savage a growl she could make. This wasn't over.
But it is for now.
Thanks to the good people Katopia12 and Kevinlin1216 for letting me write about their pets some more. Also, my condolences to my dear friends Kat and Kevin for letting me write about their pets some more. My idea for a parody of a thriller seems to have gone awry somewhere. Thanks more to Kat for the illustration and thumbnail, and to both for proofreading.