The Lonely Stranger: Part Two
"Now who can tell me who won the Annual Gormball Championships in Year 10, setting the record for fastest win and most consecutive wins?" Miss Honeysuckle smiled and asked.
I groaned, sliding down further in my chair, hoping I would disappear altogether. Why did we have to study Virtupets culture this year? Ash could've let me skip a class, knowing what talk of Virtupets did to me, and knowing the entire curriculum.
The Pink Xweetok's eyes hit me, and she smiled. "C.K.?"
Everyone always expected me to know all this stuff. "I'm sorry, I wasn't listening," I hissed.
Giggles and gasps rumbled through the class. Everyone now had their eyes on me.
She frowned. "It would be wise of you to fix your attitude, young lady. Your former teachers may have put up with it but I, on the other hand, will not." The Xweetok reached for her book. "Now turn to page 331 in your textbooks and we'll read about the Grundo resistance, and more importantly: Freedom, the most famous group of resistance fighters."
I shot up at that sentence. "Miss Honeysuckle, I feel sick, may I go to the nurse?"
She blinked, narrowed her eyes in hesitation, but finally relented. "Of course. Take the pass."
I abandoned my books, practically sprinting for the door. I rushed out into the hall, found the nearest water fountain, and then started chugging as much water as physically possible.
"Hello, Chibi Kitty."
I whirled around, my wet fur dripping. I wiped my face with my sleeve. "What do you want? Here to scold me?"
The boy grinned. I have to admit, he was the ridiculous one, out of the whole family. He was human, but I had to say, he was a good human. I'd probably be able to say all humans were bad if I hadn't met him. "Oh, C.K., you really can't do this anymore; it worries me..." He smiled through the whole thing, and added a mock sigh at the end for effect.
I raised an eyebrow.
He rolled his eyes. "Seriously. Enough is enough. I'll talk to the principal about you repeating if I keep hearing you're skipping class."
Asheton was always here teaching and presenting. I'm sure he could do it if he really wanted.
"You don't mean that, Ash." I brushed his threat off as if it were nothing.
"I do, C.K.!" he insisted.
I groaned. "C'mon, she was talking about Freedom! After everything that happened, you still can't let me off for once?"
Asheton sighed. "I know things happened there, C.K. I know it was bad, real bad. But... it's time to leave it behind. One day you may have to go back. Don't you want to be ready for it?"
"You're right." I smiled. I knew if I didn't make him go away now, he'd actually have me believing his silly little philosophies and overly-perfect views of the future. I just couldn't deal with it now.
Asheton smiled and pulled out a clipboard. "Alrightie, well, I'm headed home. I'm building a potato launcher and I've gotta get back to that." He rushed down the hall.
I swiped at my mouth with my sleeve again.
There is something you must know about me. It is the fact that I haven't stepped onto the Virtupets Space Station in two years, nor do I ever plan to. You would have to drag me unconscious after a long, gruesome, to-the-death battle, all the way there just to get me anywhere close.
But even so...
The reminders are everywhere.
"Mac and cheese!"
I watched as Asheton huzzah'ed. Duno (who could cook quite well) and Lashikee (who just held the bowl) had made what seemed to be a month's worth of macaroni and cheese, enough to fill a huge bowl I didn't even know we had. Adam grinned at the bowl with almost as much enthusiasm as Asheton. Gray smiled weakly, not wanting to assert herself too much. She was always like that.
"Happy birthday, Dad," Duno said. "We made you your favourite."
"And it's covered in an insanely unhealthy amount of cheese sauce! It's gotta taste delicious!" Lashikee drooled. She twirled around giggling, her Plushie Kacheek tail smacking me in the face.
I growled. "Sit down! You're embarrassing me in my own house."
Draggy chuckled. "What bug bit you, C.K.?"
"Oh, be quiet," I shot back, poking the demon pasta as if it were poisonous.
Asheton frowned. "Don't be so mean to Draggy!" He stuck his tongue out childishly.
Gray knocked lightly on the table to get my attention, holding up her notebook. 'Pass the bowl?' it read.
I blinked, realizing I had completely forgotten she was there. "Yeah," I murmured, picking it up and putting it in front of her. The little Chomby smiled and began to help herself. We have a relatively large family, which recently increased to accommodate Luc, some Xweetok boy. I honestly didn't know much about him. He kind of just hovered around the house and read books all day.
Most of the family is not as messed up as I am. I mean, we don't really talk about the past here, due to Asheton's "live in the present" policy, but that doesn't mean that we aren't at least aware of it. Duno was adopted from some nice girl in Asheton's old guild. Draggy and Luc were Pound pets. Adam was a created, and he had always known Asheton's kindness. Gray? Well, I don't specifically know where she came from, but I have a feeling Lashikee ran into her in the past. She always gets so awkward when someone asks Gray how she lost her memory. Lashikee is Lashikee, and I never really can tell if she even remembers her past, because it seems like it doesn't even faze her.
"You're the best owner ever, Asheton, you know that, right?" the Kacheek giggled. "You're not like all those other people."
Asheton smiled. "Now, now, not all humans are bad. I know you've had your fair share of bad eggs, but there is a lot of good out there. Remember that, 'kay, guys?"
I rolled my eyes. Sometimes people in my family are way too overly happy, you know? Life can't always be rainbows and Batterflies. Things wouldn't always be handed to us on a silver platter. And eventually we'd move away, continue our lives and this would all be over. Or at least... I keep trying to tell myself that. Asheton seems to keep his promise pretty well, that promise he made to me two years ago.
I finished the rest of my macaroni and cheese in thoughtful silence and stood up, grunting an 'excuse me' and dropping my dishes in the sink. As I went to leave, I heard another chair slide across the floor as someone stood up.
"Oh, C.K.!" Asheton laughed. "I just remembered! There was a note that someone dropped off today. The young man who brought it said that it was for an Aisha that used to live on the Space Station; asked me if I knew anyone like that. Is it... for you?"
I turned around, slightly in disbelief. The human held in his hand an envelope, one that was rough on the edges and looked like it had been through a lot. I walked up to him slowly, dreading the possibility that the note could be legitimate. I took it, my hands shaking uncontrollably. On the envelope were some words scribbled on it.
"What's it say?" Lashikee bit her lip.
I felt a lump form in my throat, throbbing painfully. "To Red: wherever you are."
Duno frowned. "Dad? Is something wrong with Chibi Kitty?"
Asheton sighed, smiling down at Duno. "Of course not, Duno. I'm sure she's just a bit shocked. C.K., why don't you go read that in the privacy of your room?"
I ignored him. I heard what he said, but at that very moment I just couldn't get my feet to move. My heart was pulled in two different directions--one screaming to open it and the other begging me to burn it. I opened it warily, removing the neatly folded white paper and reading it the best I could. There was only one sentence in the center of the page, so while I wasn't the strongest reader, I didn't have to struggle for long. A gasp escaped my mouth when I finally figured out what it said.
"What's wrong?" Adam asked, his face filled with confusion.
Gray held up her notebook. 'Is it bad news, sister?'
I looked up at Lashikee, wishing with every fiber of my soul that I had her innocence right now, wishing that I hadn't done all those things so long ago. It wasn't necessarily bad news, but it was certainly bad for me.
"Tell us, C.K.," Lashikee said, in that serious way that she gets at just the right times. "We can help."
I glanced back down at the paper, and then up at Lashikee. "They've taken over the Station."
To be continued...