Bugs In All Forms

"So you're telling me that you have the powers and abilities of an arachnid and use them to fight crime?" the teenager asked incredulously.

The brunette detective nodded. "Yup. Scorpion sting gets 'em every time."

Dex Stewart, Crown Prince of Edenoi, just shook his head and grinned disbelievingly. "I can't believe this. Me too. Well, mostly – insects instead of arachnids. I'm known as the Masked Rider since I borrow from more than one insect."

"Both insects and arachnids fall under the heading of 'bugs', so it all evens out," Darcy Walker said. "I do like scorpions the best, though. They're my favorite of all the animals."

Ferbus, as if he'd just been waiting for an opening, chose that moment to pop up out of Dex's backpack.

Darcy blinked. "Uh…what is that?"

Dex chuckled and scratched Ferbus under his chin. "This is Ferbus, my pet." Leaning into the massage, Ferbus let out a string of questioning syllables. Dex stopped moving his fingers and frowned at his brown-furred pet. "No, Ferbus, I will not give you a Twinkie. You eat too much as it is."

Ferbus' bill turned up in a frown and he huffed before hopping down from Dex's chair and scampering off into the other room.

Darcy laughed. "You have a problem with him eating junk food?"

Heaving a sigh, Dex said, "Junk food, vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy products, metal, minerals, leaves, homework…basically, he'll eat anything, up to and including bugs."

Darcy started. "Sting!" she yelped.

Dex looked blank. "What?"

"My pet scorpion, Sting," Darcy explained, jumping up from her place at the table. "I left the top off of her terrarium, and if Ferbus eats everything, he might go after her." She ran out into the other room, presumably to rescue her arachnid from the fuzzy food-inhaler.

One eyebrow climbing to his hairline, Dex murmured, "I might be descended from insects, and have an unhealthy obsession with them – and I know some humans are rather fond of monkeys – but even I don't keep my relatives as pets."