Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bastet's Corner - Baptism (Performance)

Mission Entry: None
Log Entry N°: #01/001

Day 01, Hour??

It's not easy at all. Having to both keep up with my target's swift and erratic pace, and to stay as inconspicuous as possible is proving to be quite taxing, even for a scout as good as me.

Truly enough, the night hours are a blessing and these alleys aren't exactly crowded and teeming with people, but I can't expect, nor even hope, to always be lucky enough in meeting just drunkards and sleepy bums, nor to confide in that rodent's instinct to always suggest a careful avoidance of main routes. But in a while dawn will come, and at that point, sooner or later, I'm sure of it, we'll have to face someone at least remotely curious. My big issue is, while that creature might pass for a very, very, very, very big rat, or a very, very, very, very soiled homeless, I fear my odds at that are much, much slimmer. With or without suit, fat chance I could mingle with the denizens. I must think of something for when we get noticed, or - preferably - catch that creature before that happens.

And when one turns round a corner, only to find his target jumping down a manhole with its cover left half opened, one knows it's probably going to be the former.

Most importantly, will I fit in there?

Day 01, Hour??

Barely. Well, whoever is in charge of road maintenance has a small pavement issue to face, but what matters is that I still can try and track that blasted rodent down. Down here it's dark and damp and it stinks of the worst foul things I can think of and I'd really really want to not be here, but let's face it, that thing is at least four or five times as big as any of its normal sized kin, so it shouldn't take me too long to trace him, right? Right?

Day 01, Hour??

Right my dark, smooth ass. I've been down here for hours, and still no sign of the wretched thing. I'm covering these sewers palm to palm, and so far I've only seen its downsized versions. My only source of hope are my motion trackers. They're set to react to things about its size, and there should be just one big enough to trigger them. And it's not strong enough to lift the manhole covers, so unless he's lucky enough to find another half opened one...

Day 01, Hour??

...I should begin to keep my mouth shut. I've finally mapped all the tunnels, and of course the last one has a sunbeam coming from the surface at its end. Which means that my ragged playmate has climbed up once again, and that the now awakened surface is about to witness a big sturdy black metallic humanoid come out from the bowels of the earth. Yay me! I'm probably going to frighten some old lady or to catch the unwanted attention of a law enforcer. If I ever manage to get back home, that portable device is going to end well up some arse, courtesy of Yours Truly.

If. It's... starting to be quite an important word. I don't like it, not at all. Well, at least I'm leaving Odorville, here. Let's stay positive.

...not at all.

Day 01, Hour??

Ok, now. No enforcers alerted, no grannies scared. Good. No other humans around yet - super good. Traces of Ratty McMouse pretty conspicuous - mega good. Traces lead to the back alley of this giant building, called "Kinematheatre" or something - catastrophically bad. As far as I remember, these were places of social aggregation to watch picture movies or live shows. The chances for people being in there could be pretty high. I stand the risk of having to face some, or even lots of them, and that's not something I long for, but on the other side, they might also stumble in that thing. Which I long for even less.

I must find a way to sneak inside and begin my search. Let's see if I find something useful round this corner here, perhaps...

...rats. Rats rats rats rats rats.

I can't even back away or do anything else, because the man turns his head instantly my way. He faces me, silently, for an eternal moment. I don't know what to do. Actual contact with one of our ancestors, and I have literally no idea of how to behave. For all I know, I'm going to cause him a lethal shock, and its consequences could irreparably mess up the time continuum, and...

"Oh goodness, sorry sir! Sorry sorry sorry, I didn't mean to fiddle with anything, but I couldn't resist to check the equipment!" the guy bursts out, all reddened. Bringing his hands on his face, more frightened than shocked, he slowly backs away from the... whatever that item is. "Please don't report me to the authorities, I'll leave at once! I... wow, look at that. That costume is amazing. Is it hand made?" he continues. Still visibly frightened, but somehow seemingly interested in my suit.

Well, that's quite an odd reaction. Thankfully, our language is common, and he seems adequately smart. I sense he's not where he's supposed to be, and has seemingly mistaken me for someone who, instead, has all the rights to stand ground. Perhaps I can talk my way out of trouble.

"Costume?" I begin. Admittedly, not the best way to do that.

My interlocutor gives me a puzzled look. Luckily, he still seems oblivious to my nature and reasons to be around here.

"Well, yes, your costume! The suit and everything. It looks so... futuristic. Very well crafted. The design, too. You look like some kind of space creature from the science fiction tales. Is it for a super secret movie you are going to shoot? Could I touch the fabric? That's just fabric, is it? Not real metal, I mean." He tries to approach, timidly.

"NO! I mean... sorry, can't touch this. It's uh... as you say, super secret. I shoudn't be supposed to show it to anyone. Truth be told, I really shouldn't be here at all, if you understand what I mean. As you shouldn't either, I guess. Maybe... if you pretend you haven't seen me, I'll do the same, yes?" I rebuke, trying to sound confidential.

The man stops, and then nods timidly. Just my luck, he seems to believe my charade.

"Uh, I perfectly understand you, sir, my bad. I just thought nobody was around and I could check that camera at close distance. You know, I still have to start working with such advanced ones. For now they still only make me do menial tasks, at the studios, although I've moved here two years ago already. Name's Walter. Dezny. Pleased to meet you, mister..."

"Uh... Ba- BaRT. Bart McPoe." I stagger. I'm sure I've heard that name before. And the face, too, seems familiar.

"Never heard that name, but you look like a very good actor! That's strange..." he remarks, genuinely perplexed. He seems to be into movies in some way. Better play along, then.

"Then I'm doing my job pretty well. People shouldn't really know about me, you see. Working... behind the curtains, so to speak." Please, please make him swallow this.

"Ah! Ahhh, I get it, I get it. Very well, mister McPoe. I've never seen you here. I'll just return to my friends. See those guys over there? Don't worry, they can't see you. There's my brother, the taller guy. The shorter one is Ubbe, my friend. The kid is Bill. Lives nearby, he's here with his parents. We've just met him, but he seems pretty enthusiastic. Says he's going to join us someday, working in our studios, hehe. Who knows if it's gonna happen, we'll see. We're all here for the show, naturally. Are you going to watch it, too, mister McPoe?"

"Why, yes, yes, I see them. Lively lot. I'm sure you're fun to be around with, and I wish you the best for your careers, whatever they end up being. As for me... as a matter of fact, I am looking for a... colleague, yes. Right. Works in the same field... you know, costumes and everything. We were supposed to meet here, but I can't seem to be able to find it."


Damn it.

"Him! Him, of course, how silly of me. You know, Walter, good man. My bad, I said 'it' because I was focused on the costume. My colleague looks like a... how to put it... an oversized rat, yes. Something like that. Perhaps some rags covering the face, but the shape is unquestionably one of a rat. The costume, of course! Not that he's a real rat, obviously. Hehe. Not at all." I'm starting to sound too nervous.

Walter begins pondering. As I'm certain I have messed it up completely, I prepare to knock him unconscious.

"As a matter of fact, I believe I have seen an odd shape entering the rear theatre door, moments before I approached the camera. Can't be certain about that, though. You see, it's not that I really wanted anyone to notice me, so... I didn't go the further mile to make sure. Could that be the person you're looking for?"

Oh, if you just could see the smile you've brought upon my face, Walter.

"Walter, buddy, thanks for the hunch. I'll go check myself, perhaps he's looking for me in there! Oh, to think we might have missed each other. I'm sure he'll appreciate your help as much as I do. Oh, I'm so sure of it. Well, time to go. Nice meeting you, Walter. Best of luck!" I conclude, before nonchalantly sneaking inside the theatre. I hear the guy returning to the front street, soon greeted by his friends. He seemed a nice person. Gullible perhaps, or with quite the big imagination, to swallow such an amount of bullcrap so easily.

 But precious. Oh, so precious. I see tracks all around here, leading upstairs. It's dark, but nothing I and my visors can't handle. Pity the rodent is equally unhindered, but having finally caught up is good enough for me.

My plan is a sudden surprise assault, quick and efficient.

Said plan goes instantly wasted as a loud, bombastic music fills the air, and a rattling noise accompanies shortly after. Strong lights show up somewhere else in the structure, bright enough around here to startle and alert the crerature. His spear must have broken somehow, now more similar to a spiky club of some sort. But the light in his red eyes is still unchanged.

"Well, hello." I mutter, still intended to retrieve what's mine.

Mission Entry: None
Log Entry N°: #01/002

Day 01, Hour??

The rodent is not bad at swashbuckling, I'll give it this. This is not the first time we cross our weapons, and like the previous one, it's giving me a run for my money. Granted, some caveat must be taken into account: the place and situation, once again, don't let me go full out, for we're in a building with humanoid presence, so I can't use my most destructive weapons, and I certainly can't allow a ruckus be made out of this. And in a tight, secluded place, a suit isn't exactly maneuverable. But still, it handles this pretty well, standing on its toes and making good use of the environment, returning my blows and then adding some.

I'll state this once, and then delete it, denying it subsequently: I'm almost having fun. It reminds me of a good sparring match. In a different situation, I could find enjoyment in all this, and might even end up building some form of respect for my peer.

I almost slip on something. I'm starting to lose awareness of our surroundings, focused as I am on the fight. It takes advantage of it immediately, scuttling away to find better ground. I immediately follow, closing the gap with a mighty leap.

I barely note the change of lighting, the different noises around us, the sense of sudden openness.

Stealing the spotlight, so to speak.

But I do note them. And so does my opponent. As our weapons clash once again, we stand still for a split moment, and on a silent, mutual agreement, we let ourselves catch a glimpse of our surroundings.

Oh dear.

This... this is bad. This is totally, utterly, bad. But there's nothing that can be done about it, now. I can only hope the whole audience is going to be as open minded as that person before was, and care not too much about the... distraction.

The rodent breaks the truce first, and strangely enough, it doesn't that by trying to run away. I feel the force against my claws. After trying to push me away, it bounces a few inches backwards, and to my surprise, stands en garde.

And then it all comes to me. Mewmperor be good, this creature is way smarter than it seems. But I can't let this obfuscate my mind. I stand and bow briefly, then go en garde myself. With the tail of my eye, I try looking at the people watching us.

They seem... focused.

I chuckle. Well, so be it. Let's begin!

Day 01, Hour??

I'm puzzled. Ever since this started, with the music following our movements, I must admit I'm... enjoying this. It's a new, different kind of amusement. And I'm distinctly positive my peer is sharing this feeling, for at times, its mouth, and the look in its eyes... it seems genuinely entertained, too. The audience cheers at each move, at each blow. It's genuinely intriguing, I have to say. I'm not exactly sure whether we both are fully staging this,, though, for every now and then I feel a certain surplus of strength in its blows. Most likely, it's trying to use this to either weaken me, so it can scuttle away at the first good chance, or to eventually deliver a lucky blow. It's not gonna be this easy, though, sorry about that. It should be grateful enough that it managed to drag this for all this time.

Time to end it.

I feign a slash, succeeding it forcing my opponent to swing its club to try and parry, but this time I don't wait for its move to end, hitting the club itself with my left armored fist. The impact makes the rodent lose balance, and after a second quick jab, it finally falls on its back.

Swift as a cat I immediately am on its chest, forcing it down with my left foot and placing my claws close to its face. I'm ready to finally be done with this, but it's true that we still are surrounded by humanoids. And, truth be told, it doesn't really have to end like this. In the end, I've had a bit of fun, so hopefully it will just recognize it's no use resisting, and meekly hand over the tracking device.

Its eyes, bright red, are fixed on me. I can see a mix of fear of resignation, at last. I can finally...



"Leave him alone, you big bad felon!"
"Fight, poor little mouse! It's not over, you can still outdo him!"

What the...

"Come on, come on, get up!"
"Smack the dark brute!"

I slowly turn my head to face the audience. Many of them are standing up now, hands at their mouths, shouting at us. Some wave their arms in a frantic way, others point their fingers.

Some of them have an angry look, some a sad and almost anguished one, but they all have just one signle, equally broad smile on their faces.

They think it's part of the show, and are siding with the rodent.

"Wait, please" I begin, forcing myself to interact with them, "you've all got it backwa-"

"Boo! Dark brute, you won't win!" a female voice shouts.
"Fight back, Ser Mouse! You can beat him, I know that!" a child incites.

And finally, as a single flooding roar, the whole crowd's incitement overwhelms the both of us.

"Why won't you listen to me?" I try again, desperately. I stand and raise my arms, trying to placate their fervor, but it's no use. The roaring doesn't stop. Eventually, something hits me. And then, I see red.

I literally see red, because something liquid and gooey is all over my camera visor. Passing my hand over it, turns out to be a tomato.

As salves of various vegetables get hurled at the stage, the clamor continues in an ascending spiral.

It's enough.

"SILENCE!!!!" I boom, at the maximum volume of my speaker. The resounding shout has the desired effect of stopping the tumultuous audience, and finally restoring quietness.

I remove my helmet, then slowly gaze at them all, from left to right, with the sternest gaze I am capable of. I meet all their eyes, no exception. Some of them are incredulous, others are shocked. A kid is in awe. I recognize Walter and his mates, pretty close to the stage. They seem.. interested. Focused. Amused? Analyzing. Such a curious, peculiar mixture of feelings. They seem interesting fellows.

"I understand your feelings because of the apparent situation, but I will *not* tolerate-"

I hear the snicker one second too late. All of their expressions instantly change, and none of them is looking at me. My awareness returned, I finally realize how big an idiot I've been. My foot isn't where it was supposed to be anymore.

Then the scuttle, a moment before the entire theatre bursts into laughter.

My last picture of the whole scene, is the expression on the face of Walter. Sympathising amusement.

I burst into chasing, leaving it all behind me. Go ahead, you foolish humanoids. Laugh as much as you want. Bask in your misguided sense of justice, siding with the poor little mouse against the big bad black feline brute.

Glad you enjoyed the show, because it's the last time you'll ever get to witness it.



Never again.

Mission Entry: None
Log Entry N°: #01/003

Day 01, Hour??

This has to end. This must end. I've chased that thing for countless twists and turns, through buildings and bridges, roads and sewers, alleys and rooftops. I've stopped caring about crossing people a long time ago. By now I'm certain that some law enforcement patrol is on the chase, but I really don't give a damn anymore. I just want this to end. I'm getting too tired to continue, and the only single thing that makes me go on, now, is that I'm aware it's tired, too. Too many traces left around, not paying attention to the route or the surroundings, staying in plain sight for a good amount of time.

It's a matter of who spends the last splinter of energy first.

Day 01, Hour??

It's the end. Please, let this be the end. Let this alley be the place where I finally get my hold of that wretched thing. There's no manhole, no ladder, no drainpipe, no nothing. I've cornered it, at last.

As I slowly advance, its eyes go frantically in all directions, trying desperately to find an aperture, then returning on me, on my relentless approach. Its nostrils move rapidly, trying to catch an useful scent, but the only scent around is its own fear.

It squeaks, faintly.

And then... its eyes change. As if it... suddenly realized something.

No. No, no, no.

Not realized. Remembered. That's the correct word.

The rodent remembered being cornered before. It remembered facing me without any other way to escape me. It remembered what happened back then.

It quickly places the device on the ground, and swings its club to smash it. Way, way too distant even for my greatest leap.

Thankfully, not too distant for my voice.

I'm not exactly sure of what might have come out of my lungs, only of its pitch and volume. Regardless, it's been enough to make it stop.

He's now looking at me, the club inches above the device, trembling slightly. We're both catching our breath. I must do something, quickly. I make one step forward.

Bad idea.

As the club rises once again, since I still haven't enough breath to cry again, I do the only thing I can. I hope, with all I can, that its eyes are still fixed on me.

I wave my arms, frantically, in the universal motion of Please-Don't-Do-That-You'll-Doom-Us-All.

As I collapse on my knees, devoid of all residue nervous energies, I let myself go into a brief burst of tears.

It worked.

Day 01, Hour??

We stared at each other for a good while, motionless. Its club still held midair, but cautiously looking at my next move, the rodent waited. I'm sure it was  rejoicing the pause, too. While regaining forces myself, I tried thinking about what to do next. Gestures were recognized. But gestures alone might be not enough to convey such complex concepts.

Damn, if we only could...

A lightning.

A positive, figurative lightning, teared the darkness of my own mind. I chuckled.

Curse you, McPaw. Curse your foolish, arrogant pride. Curse your stubborn zeal. Curse your ignorant attitude.

The signs were all around, they had been there all the time. The tincan, the church rooftop, the theatre, and now this.

The rat is intelligent, you dumbass. Of all the things you could do, you've never chosen the simplest. Gestures might not do, but you're wearing an expensive, technological suit, with an expensive, technological device in it. Fucking use it well.

Raising slowly my right arm, I signed it I had no intention to harm. I began cycling.

"Hello? Can you understand me?" I repeated, endlessly, firmly believing in the power of words. And the efficiency of my translator. And the crossed fingers on my right paw mind of my interlocutor.

Countless times, countless attempts, countless words later, as a sense of discourage was starting to develop inside my very soul, at last, I finally saw it. A change of expression. A slowly tilted head.

And then, its mouth opened.

"You... you speak words good? Rik'tik hears Skaven. You speak same like Rik'tik?" was the question. The sweetest, most blissful garbled question ever asked reached my ears.

"WOHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! IT WORKS! IT WORKS! IT UNDERSTANDS ME! I'VE MADE IT, DAMMIT!!!!" I shouted, and I would have gone on for a good while, had I not catched the shocked reaction of my precious conversation peer. Bad move, MacPaw. Sit boy, don't scare it away. Behave.

"Sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I was just... happy we can finally talk. Yes, I apparently can speak your tongue." I said, trying to sound as pleasing as possible. The rodent smirked, its nostrils quivering at me.

"You speak difficult. Rik'tik no understands well. Who is metal cat? How you know Skaven words?"

"Uh... sorry. I try speak easy. Better? I am Bastet. I know your lan... Skaven words because my suit has a translator."

No apparent reaction. I sighed briefly. Well, nobody said it would be easy.

"Metal head changes words. I speak Skaven words thanks to head." I slowly removed my helmet, spoke a few more words, then placed the helmet back on. Rik'tik (if that was the right word used as its name) finally seemed to understand.

"Ah! Head magic changes words. Good, good. Rik'tik wants one. Makes Rik'tik understand better. Basket gives?"

"...BasTet. And no, sorry, you can't have one now. You don't know how to use it, anyway. We can talk, and that's the important part."

No reaction again. Too difficult, or maybe I lost it at "can't have one" and it was elaborating the disappointment.

"Basket bad. Basket runs at Rik'tik, and fights with metal hands. Why Basket wants hurt Rik'tik? Rik'tik no doesed bad things to Basket." it finally murmured, pouting.

Ok, that was a start.

"Bastet no really wants to hurt Rik'tik, but Rik'tik stole his portal device. Bastet needs it back. It's important." I said, pointing at the device, still in its graps. After looking at it for a little while, the rodent spoke back.

"Metal stick? Metal stick is armor piece. Rik'tik needs piece to proof his bravedom with elder Skaven. Why Basket needs metal stick? Why Rik'tik no can take it?" it... well, he inquired. Ok, time for the complex part.

"That... metal stick is no true armor. That stick... hmmm... moves things! Yes, moves things, far far away. It moved us, see? It moved you and me." I tried.

After looking silently at the device again, the rodent gave me a puzzled look.

"Stick no moves. Stick little. Rik'tik moves stick, maybe. But stick no moves. Basket speaks lies."

"No, Rik'tik. BasTet doesn't lie. Have you forgotten where we are now? Look around. Don't tell me you don't see the differences!"

Again, no reactions. Sigh.

"Rik'tik looks at buildings? They no like church! Remember lightning and rain? Remember mud waters? Look, stone streets and tall buildings! Remember funny humans in dark room! This is no Rik'tik place, and not Bastet place too!" I tried, crossing my fingers. The rat squinted.

"Rik'tik no stupid. Rik'tik knows here no home. But, Rik'tik remembers! Basket maked white light with rain and light from the sky, and puff! Place changes. Rik'tik no knows way home, Rik'tik runs places. No way home! No way! Basket runs at Rik'tik. Why Basket does? Rik'tik thinks Basket magicked Rik'tik to hurt. Why Basket bad? Rik'tik no likes Basket!" He remarked, mildly angered.

Hard to fault him, to be honest.

"BasTet knows. Bastet is sorry, but it wasn't his fault. Metal stick made light. See red button? Red clicky button makes magic, not Bastet. No press, just look. NO PR-" I went for, but a rodent will be a rodent, and curiosity killed the rat cat.

Sensing an impending doom dissipating my last few hopes of returning home, I watched in horror and desperation the white light surround Rik'tik, as he disappeared... reappear a few moments later, literally an inch away from me.

While the rodent was still affected by the jumping sickness, I did the only sensible thing I could do, and snatched the device from his grasp.

Finally. Finally. Mine again. Mine again! There's still hope!

"*Urk* Bad Basket! Basket taked stick from Rik'tik! Give back! Give *burp* back!" I heard, suddenly. Rik'tik was still quite suffering, but seemed nonetheless pretty set on retrieving the device.

Time to put some sense in that oversized hamster's thick skull. Figuratively and literally. I hit his head with the (non-sensitive) device end twice, each time a sound whak saluting the gesture with approval.

"No, Rik'tik. I don't give it back. You have pressed the red button! You have surely understood that this is NO simple armor, but the thing that did the magic and changed things! See? Now you are very close to me. Did you move? Did I move?"

While holding his head, Rik'tik seemed intently pondering my words.

"Basket no move. But Rik'tik no move too. Rik'tik still thinks Basket magicked. How is Rik'tik sure that Basket no - whak - Ow! Ow, ow, Basket hitted Rik'tik again! Why?"

"Because Rik'tik was saying something stupid. Again." I stated, dryly.

"Rik'tik no likes mean Basket. But Basket no hurted Rik'tik, now that he coulded. Well, no hurted lots. So maybe Basket says true words. Rik'tik believes Basket. For now." he answered. Still a bit angsty, but seemingly more trustful.

"But, Rik'tik press red button and he just more near Basket! Why place no changeded? Is metal stick now breaked?" he added, strenghtening my own curiosity.

After summarily checking the device and pondering about it, I chose to put that to test. Once activating it again, after a split second, no question, I found myself mildly dizzy, still in the alley, now a bit further from Rik'tik, who was now scurrying my way, half nervous and half excited.

"Bad Basket, no leave Rik'tik behind!" he grumbled.

"No, it's not brea... broken. It *oof* works. It actually works as it should. Tell me, Rik'tik" I stated, glancing suspiciously at him "did you *urk* tamper with it in any occasion, while holding it?"

A blank stare.

"Did you touch the shiny round wheel here? Or clicky switch? Before *burp* pressing the red button?" I tried again.

"Ah! Ah. Uhm... no. No, Rik'tik never touch that. Or that. Or..." the squinting expression on his face was a bit too uneasy for my taste.

"You sure of it?" I asked.

"Rik'tik sure!" was the reply.

"Then maybe I know the reason. Remember, on the church roof? There was a lightning."

"Yes, light from the sky. Rik'tik remembers."

"Good. When I was in my own... uh, when Bastet was in his home, before place changed, Bastet saw a big light and a boom, very close. Bastet thinks metal stick changes places only with big lights."

That was the only logical explanation I could think of. Activating the device in a place overloaded with energy could amplify its effect. The only way to be sure of it...

" activating it again near a powerful energy source", I ended up uttering.

"Powder sauce? Rik'tik no knows of this thing. What is?" the rodent inquired, curious.

"We press red button near a big light, Rik'tik." I replied, rolling my eyes a bit.

"Why do that? Big light is dangerous! All Skaven know! Is Basket stupid?"

"No, Rik'tik. Bastet wants to go home. Even if he has to do something dangerous. You don't want to go home, Rik'tik?" I asked, honestly. I was feeling the weariness. It had to end.

After thinking for a few moments, the rodent seemed to concur.

"...Rik'tik wants to go home also. Basket speaks good words. What we do now?"

"We look for a big light" I answered, while taking the first step away from the alley.

Mission Entry: None
Log Entry N°: #01/004

Day 02, Hour??

This should do. This big power unit at the outskirts of the town, if overloaded, should generate enough energy to amplify the device. Short of finding an impending storm and charging headlong into it, I guess it's the only chance we currently have here.

The hours spent looking for it, while avoiding the rampant search that the local authorities had set up, gave me more time to talk with Rik'tik. I think I know him a bit better now, and understand some of his reasons. His kin has some ritual of passage, or at least take pride in scavenging for armor parts to impress their peers. I guess snatching the device would have given him something to be proud and admired. Can't fault him for that. Not too much, at least.

His nature is not very benevolent, I can feel that. But he's intelligent enough to realize the situation, and has accepted to cooperate. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and currently our common enemy is being both stranded away from our homeworlds. I'm not going to have a drink with him, ever. But I have a glimpse of respect and I trust he won't do anything stupid, as long as he's away from home. Nonetheelss, I'll do my best to keep an eye on him - and on my belongings as well.

"Ok, Rik'tik, this is it" I begin, as I start to overload the unit. It should reach its peak in a few minutes. I'm sorry for this town, I truly am. They'll experience a blackout for a while. I hope nothing bad is coming out of this. "In a little while, a big light shows up near here. I press the red button and the place changes. Now I ask again, it's very important: are you sure you never touched all these parts?"

"Rik'tik... is sure." he mutters. Not promptly enough.

"Really sure?"

"...really sure."

...why doesn't this sound convincing at all, suddenly?

"Rik'tik..." I kneel down to face him, staring deep in his red eyes. "...really sure?" I ask again.

The returning stare is honest enough to shatter my hopes in a second.

"Well... maybe... maybe not too sure. But! Not Rik'tik fault! Rik'tik runned around chased by Basket, all the time, then fighted and runned more! How can Basket ask Rik'tik to be sure?" he rebuts.

As the electricity begins to fill the air surrounding us, straightening our fur making its presence clear, I can't do anything but bite the bullet. "That's ok, Rik'tik, not your fault", I say, patting his shoulder gently. "Now there's not much we can do but see what happens. I hope this works."

As the humming becomes loud and power arcs show up creaking, I press the button. Rik'tik grasps firmly my free hand.

Everything becomes white, one more time.

As my eyes begin to see again, we are greeted by yellow sand.

Yellow sand everywhere, and nothing else around us.

"Basket home is ugly", says Rik'tik.

"Fuck this", I say.

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