A/N: This planet plus my rodent-sized attention span=this.
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
"And who can tell me what the name of the civilization that built the Kahve Ruins on Erd was?" My students all stare at me blankly, as if I'm speaking another language. I have taught them this, right? I'm not just assuming that they know? I mean, it's fairly common knowledge now. "Um, Jasmine?"
The little rabbit girl's head pops up from her doodles on her notebook paper. If she's anything like Lassi, it's full of hearts and swirls. And they look so much alike, this can't just be a coincidence.
"Uh…um…the, uh, Espresso Civilization?" I'm shocked that she actually knows the answer. Her friends, sitting at the desks around her, are equally as surprised.
"Very good. What was the name of the powering unit for the Ruins and what does it run on?" It feels really weird to be giving a lecture about the stuff that I discovered myself. Even weirder to be giving it to the class that could have been my very own.
"Wind magic and the Land Where the Stars Sleep?" Again, she completely blows me away. I honestly didn't think anyone paid attention to the crazy, new teacher.
"Very good again. Alright, continuing on with the lecture…" I rely on my own memory to guide me through my description of the planet, although its accuracy is questionable. After all, I was basically running on fumes then.
The first thing that I'm aware of when I start to wake up is that it's hot. I really, really, really hate the sunlight. I mean, it goes with the whole "dark mage" territory, which also means that I burn easily. This is just ridiculous, though; I feel like my skin is on fire.
Then I remember that I got caught up in a meteor storm, my rocket got bashed, and I sit up really fast to try and check if I really am on fire. I'm not, thank goodness. I am, however, bleeding like there's no tomorrow from a huge gash in my arm and varying scratches all along the rest of my body.
"Where am I?" I don't know why I think out loud, but I do. I guess I'm hoping that someone will hear me and come running.
Sand flies into my eyes, swirling around me, effectively killing my visibility. I don't think I could even have seen my hand in front of my face, if my shoulder didn't hurt so bad. I'm leaning up against something cold and metal, so I turn to see it.
"Holy crap, I killed the rocket." It's now not even much of a rocket. More of scrap metal. Maybe not even good enough for that. My stomach drops down to my feet; I have no idea how I managed to survive the crash, but I did. Lassi…
I force myself up with my one good arm and start to limp across the sand. I don't have to go very far before I see a second crashed rocket, beside a very familiar body. And then I forget that I'm hurt and just start running.
"Lassi!" I kind of tumble down beside her, somehow managing to land on my knees. I start shaking her, and she moans. If I wasn't so afraid she was dying, I'd hug her.
"Wa-water…get the Kovo Water from the rocket…" She coughs, trying to point to her rocket. I push her arm back down and hope that I didn't just break it, before crawling to avoid getting more sand in my eyes. Her rocket is actually in better shape than mine, but we're still not going to get anywhere with it.
The water is easy to find, in a red tin marked "Emergency". I grab the thermos and crawl back over to her, forcing the thermos into her hands and making her drink some of it.
And Lassi, being Lassi, gulps it down and jumps up, before she stumbles. Apparently her problem is with her legs.
"I feel better!" She sings, smiling. She can barely stand up; does it really not hurt that badly? "Wait…Cookie? What are you doing here? And where are we? This is not the wind planet. Or Kovomaka…"
"I chase you in a rocket across the solar system and you don't even know where you landed?" I try to keep from yelling at her. Lassi's just flighty. I know she can't help it, but still.
"No…but we're going to be okay, because I've got you here to protect me now!" She flings her arms around me in a really, really painful hug. I try not to scream as she crushes my already-banged up shoulder.
"I never…agreed to that…" But she isn't listening to me, dragging me by my hand across to her rocket, chattering about how she hopes that it's okay. It's not.
"Aw, man! It's busted! And we're not on the wind planet! And we're nowhere near home! And we're lost in the middle of space!" She honestly looks like she's about to throw a toddler-worthy temper tantrum. "At least the Heal-O-Mat still works…"
"Heal? Please!" I limp forward, looking for the button she's talking about. It's bright, red, and labeled in child-friendly instructions: 'Heal-O-Matic'. I almost laugh and jamb my thumb into it.
Instantly, warmth spreads through me. The pain in my arms and legs vanishes. I rotate my shoulder, and it doesn't even hurt. All that's left of the huge cut in my arm is a thin little scar. Yeah, I can live with that.
"Yay! I feel better! Now if we run into any, uh, space monsters…" Lassi's voice breaks. "We can just come back here and get healed!"
I don't really have the heart to tell her that as soon as the food runs out in our "emergency" kits, healing is going to be a moot point. "Yeah, exactly. Now let's get out of here and find out where exactly we are."
So we start wandering around in circles. Which is also kind of pointless. To the far south is a locked door that I can't climb (and Lassi won't let me try, either), so we head north. The sandstorm instantly picks up. That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know something's a bad idea but it's the only one you've got?
"Hey Lassi…" I sigh. This didn't go so well the last time. "Try your wind magic here…just, don't turn it into a twister again, okay?"
She sticks her tongue out at me and starts to chant. I try to brace myself as the spell goes off. "Hear me wind! Hear my call! Dancing in the sky, shaping the clouds, whispering to the heavens…hear my plea and send your gale!"
I drop to the ground as the wind picks up, trying to shield my eyes. Lassi yelps beside me, and I pull her down too, trying to be heard. "It has to get worse before it'll get better!"
For once, though, I'm right. Just as suddenly as it started, all the wind stops. Amazed, we slowly stand. Lassi starts hopping around and cheering. She runs ahead of me.
"I did it! I actually did it! I made the sandstorm stop!" Well, she said it, not me. I run over to her, not wanting to get caught back up if the sandstorm does come back. She pats me on the shoulder, even though she's shorter. "Don't worry, Cookie! Your magic'll come in handy soon enough, I just know it!"
"Not if the sun never goes down…" I grumble, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't hear me. I'm drowned out by a loud rumbling that knocks us both down. "Oh, crap."
Which is probably the biggest understatement of the year. Some kind of ant lion pulls itself up from under the ground, barreling towards us. I grab Lassi and pull her out of range of his mouth.
"Lassi, help me fight here!" I shout. I'm pretty much useless during the day, and don't I remember something about earth being weak to wind? She's completely frozen, though, so I run out to distract the ant lion from her and I start trying to cast. Unfortunately, the only thing I can manage is a pitiful little box of shadows, but I hurl it at the monster anyway. "Shadow Die!"
It does not like that, not one bit. It's claw swipes into me, slamming me up against the rock wall. I drop back down into the sand, clutching my ribs. And I just got those healed, too.
"W-wind talon!" Lassi hurls her strongest spell (that we trust her with) at the creature now coming to eat me. It roars, and spins to her. Lassi screams and tries to dive out of its way.
Between the two of us, one acting as a distraction while the other casts, we somehow manage to kill the thing. I'm thoroughly exhausted; using dark magic during the day is…uncomfortable, to say the very least.
"Cookie, did you see how powerful you were?" Um, no? She keeps going anyway, clearly not seeing my face. "That was so cool! See, I told you that your magic would come in handy! That's gotta be what Miss Madeleine was talking about before she…left."
"Yeah. Now help me back to the heal thing," I order. Really, I'm pretty sure that stupid lion broke a rib. She runs over, and half drags me back down to her rocket. She pushes the button. Just like before, all my pain fades. Man, I love that thing. "Okay, let's go."
"G-go? Go where?" Lassi has to run to catch up to me. "What are you talking about?"
"There's got to be something on this planet besides desert and monsters," I shrug. I go up on tiptoes to go over the patch of land where the ant lion popped up; I guess some of my luck hasn't vanished, because it's brother doesn't pop up to eat us.
Up a hill from there…and my jaw hits the floor. A huge, metallic tower juts up from the surrounding sand. It's so completely out of place and ominous, I know this is what I was looking for.
Lassi speaks my thoughts. "What is that? It's huge!"
"Yup. We're going inside it," I walk up to the door. It doesn't have a handle. How do you open this stupid thing?
"Are you serious? We're going in there? That's so stupid…and dangerous…only you would think it's a good idea…" She whines.
"You want to wait out here for me?"
Giving up on looking for a handle, I just push the door. It slides open easily, and I gulp. I've always loved things that are dark and dangerous like this. Call me an adrenaline junkie. But this place…it even puts me on edge. We go inside anyways.
"It's dark…I'm kind of freaked out now…" Lassi whimpers, hiding behind me and grabbing my arm.
"Okay, sure, I'll go first." I roll my eyes and tiptoe forward. If anyone is in here, I really don't want them to hear us. Unless they're helpful and nice, but I really doubt that's the kind of person you'd find in this place.
Something clanks ahead of us. I throw my arms out to keep Lassi from walking ahead of me. Two robots, nothing like Mokka, step out. Their eyes (or visual sensors, or whatever) focus on me. I gulp. Not good. Not good.
"Intruders detected. Initiating annihilation protocol." One of them monotones. I try to back up. Lassi's already run, not wasting anytime.
"C-Cookie…" She whispers, backing into me. I don't even have to turn around to know that this is bad. The robots in front of me come forward, trying to box me in.
"Lassi, just do what you did with the ant lion, okay? You're going to be oka-" One of the robots facing me decides to prove me wrong, by punching me in the stomach. "You…little…"
"Wind talon!" Lassi doesn't hesitate this time. I hear it slice through the metal of the robots that are on her side, followed shortly by a crash. "I did it, Cookie! I did it again!"
"That's…great!" I pull some of the darkness from around me, trying to get enough for another attack. "Shadow Die!"
I'm useless here, apparently. All my attack does is anger its target into rocket punching me into the wall again. Oh well, at least he's not focusing on Lassi. I can see her struggling to concentrate now; she's got the attention span of a bunny (well, goes with the territory, I guess), so two spells in short succession has never been her strong point.
"Shadow Die!" I try again, on the same robot. He fizzles and pops, but ultimately collapses, the light in his eye now gone. Okay, one left. There's another shout from Lassi, and a crash. …Or not.
"What's up with this place?" Lassi shouts as I struggle to stand up, surrounded as I am by barrels of oil.
"Shhh. You're going to make more of them get here. Come on!" I grab her arm and run for the door in the back wall. This one has a button, and I push it again and again, like that'll make it open faster. When the doors do open, I groan; I hate elevators. But I don't have a choice, so I drag Lassi inside with me. I see another robot start to come out from hiding seconds before the doors close again.
I run out of the elevator as soon as I can, still pulling Lassi along. On the second floor (I guess it's the second floor…), there's nothing. No robots trying to kill us, and no hiding spots for them. Just a huge, broken, monitor. I completely ignore it and dash for the second set of doors, hoping it's not another elevator. When I push the button, my heart drops: it's an elevator.
"Um, Cookie?" I turn to look at Lassi. "This place is creepy…can we go back? Please?"
"Go back where? To the rockets?" I cross my arms and step into the elevator. She follows, still not wanting to be left alone. "We don't have anywhere to go to, Lassi."
"You're really brave. I guess I can keep going too…" She sighs. I feel kind of bad; she's too young for this stuff. I mean, she's barely even a teenager.
I don't have any time to feel too bad, though, because the doors open to yet another floor. This floor, though, has something really reassuring in the middle of it: a souped up version of our rockets from the academy. Lassi pushes past me and runs out of the elevator. I just shuffle along behind her.
"That's a rocket, right?" She's bouncing on the balls of her feet, grinning from ear to ear. I shake my head, laughing.
"What else is it going to be?" I answer, but she still isn't paying any attention to me. She just keeps talking.
"Why don't we borrow it and try to get to Puffoon? And by borrow, I mean…" Lassi trails off, twirling a piece of hair.
"You mean have me hotwire and steal it," I finish for her. She nods. Well, questionable decisions are my specialty. "Let's see what we can do."
We're pretty confident by now that there's no one here, so we walk right up the stairs to the rocket. But the minute I even touch the hull, four robots identical to the ones we already fought, peel off from the shadows of the wall and block the stairs-our only escape.
"Cookieee!" Lassi pulls on my jacket sleeve. I push her behind me, trying again for another attack. I'm still exhausted from the four already. Really not my day… "Shadow-oof!"
One of those stupid rocket punches nails me in the stomach (again) and throws off my casting.
"Intruders detected. Run anti-spy ware utility." The leader robot orders. I'm pretty sure he's the one who punched me.
"Cookieeee! There's a-a…" I turn around to snap at Lassi, but then I see why she's freaking out and pulling on my sleeve again. A fifth robot has shown up, boxing us in between the four gray ones and himself.
He (do these guys even have women and men?) is a bright red. Electricity crackles on his fists. I've got a bad feeling that this is the 'anti-spy ware utility'. I push Lassi behind me again, not sure of which robot is worse to have her be in the direct line of fire for.
"Intruders detected." I get it, I'm an intruder. "Purge. Purge. Purge."
"Oh, crap…" I whisper, looking for a way out of this. To at least get Lassi out of it. But there isn't any exit; we're too closed in. The electricity around his fists gets stronger, and I gulp. I hate lightning.
"Electro-knuckles charged. Ready to fire." He rears back for a punch. I flinch and close my eyes. This is going to be a lot worse than the basic rocket-punches that have been beating me up. His eye visibly hones in on me. "Target acquired. Firing in t-minus…"
"Uh-oh…run for it!" Lassi yells. We don't get a chance. I put my arms out to block her, hopefully. I see the robot shoot his fist out at me. There's an intense pain in my stomach and then…nothing.
I'm surprised that I wake up. I sit slowly, clutching my still-aching middle. I try to look around, despite the protests in my neck muscles. I'm lying on cold stone, with three walls of identical material around me. But right in front of me, is a huge pit. Filled with spikes. I groan, which brings a huge, three-eyed robot running to my cell. He glares at me with all three eyes, a look that very clearly says "don't try to do anything or I will blast you again". I hold my hands up innocently, and he resumes his pacing.
I press my face into my knees and groan. "Mokka called it. I was always bound to wind up in jail."