My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Chapter Four: Spy


            That night, something said to me that what I was doing was a bad idea. It wasn’t some supernatural magic this time, either; it was my own fighting instinct. I promised myself I’d never let my guard down.

            Unfortunately, my efforts proved futile when I realized that a spy was watching us from the horizon. In the light of dawn, I could barely see the strange Anoki, who seemed to be easily aloft on incredibly large wings. I detected a listening spell and traced it to a dark haired Anoki in her late thirties. She wore a lot of makeup and drank coffee every day. I could also tell that she wasn’t too sure what we were up to. I signaled to Kaye, below: “Mom time,” and went to investigate. Silently I swooped up, but when she realized I was approaching, she flew away fast. I poured on the speed. I was going to catch her and question her. She wasn’t Zephan, but she was very pretty and looked like she could be younger, or older, than my estimate.  She stretched her arms out and rolled completely over, like I did, and cut across the sky even faster. I copied her movement, finding I could go faster if I accelerated while rolling. It was like a video game cheat code!

            I wondered if she’d caught on that she was teaching me how to catch her. The sunlight glittered on her wings. She must have been doing magic again. I recognized it as Air magic, and realized that she was speeding us both with wind. Then she dove into the trees and dodged every one of them, as if she were used to being there. We must have been going over a hundred miles an hour now.  I felt powerful, I was powerful, and I was taking her down. With a new rush of extra adrenaline, I rolled again and accelerated, adding my physical strength to my magical, and sped up so fast that I collided with the strange lady and we both crashed to the ground. She looked oddly familiar. Her eyes looked like mine, deep blue-green and sometimes rather threatening. Hers softened when she saw my face, which confused me. I frowned and helped her up, catching her firmly when she tried to escape my grip.

            “I’m armed, silly,” I said. “Why were you watching us?”

            Her eyes flared. “Us?”

            “Yes, us!” I said.

            “You,” she said. “No one else.”

            “Who are you?” I asked.

            “I am more than you know and more than you will.”

            “Why?” I asked.

            She smiled. “Good, child. Some may think you inarticulate, but I see you as clever. You know I will not explain my words’ meaning. You will know their meaning eventually. I like you; you look right. Perhaps you are who I am looking for.”

            “I’m armed,” I repeated.

            “Yes, you are. Show me.”

            “First…” I said, and summoned a tree’s root to wind around her ankles. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it works. I took my bow off my back and, with a glance at my pitiful quiver, drew an arrow and shot a tree fifty feet away, square on the trunk.

            “Now,” the strange lady said, “protect yourself. From behind.”

            I drew another arrow and whirled. The lady wasn’t talking about herself, but a Darkness Anoki trying rather unsuccessfully to hide in the foliage. But you can’t hide black well. So he charged, ready with a sword. I shot him, but not crucially, and pulled my rabbit-cleaning knife out as a hand-to-hand weapon. I approached, folding my wings back but not enough that I couldn’t easily escape. As I got closer, he jumped up, sword ready, and basically tried to kill me. But he was inexperienced and cocky, and trying to show off.

            “I can kill you,” I said.

            “I’d like to see you try,” he hissed. I realized that this was one of those cases where the Darkness magic had taken over its user, and power had taken its toll. He could love no one. Then his eyes flashed, and he muttered, “Stay back, Anise…” and I wasn’t sure I was right.

            “I’ll grant your wish in a minute, unless you surrender. I can’t have you killing me or anyone else. This is war!”

            “Which are you?” he hissed. “Zephan or Kliid?”

            “Yes,” I said, and applied a fist to his temple. He went down like potatoes, and I shoved the knife into his neck. I don’t think he’ll be attacking anyone anytime soon.

            “Where is this Anise?” I said grimly. Actually, I knew, because my unusually good hearing had picked up her movement. I made no sound as I approached her, and I grabbed her shirt collar. About half of the shirt was in my hand.

            “What element?” I growled.

            “Time,” she said, big-eyed.

            I let go of some more of the shirt collar, so she wouldn’t choke. “You must never tell of what happened here. If you do, I will track you down and kill you. No one can know where I am.”

            “You’re a thug,” she said.

            “I am going to free an entire village, and stop a war that has been going on for decades. I have reasons, and I must keep my companions safe. But I will let you go, because I know that you won’t say a word. He got caught in a sinkhole and was buried. All right?”

            “It’s okay,” she said.

            I frowned. “What?”

            “He was Zephan. An employed mercenary. I was his prisoner.”

            “You are Kliid?” I asked. The war’s started again, I thought.

            “Yes!” she whispered. “Are you going to kill me?”

            “No,” I said. “I told you.”

            “Are you Kliid?” she whispered.

            “I grew up Zephan, but I lived with the Kliid recently. They are the better side, but I’m going to stop the war before more people get hurt.”

            “Will you take me with you?” she pleaded.

            “Too dangerous,” I muttered. “I would take you back to the Kliid, but I have a prisoner of my own to deal with.” I heard the lady laugh behind me. “The village is that way.”

            I let go of her shirt, and she turned. “Wait,” I said. She came back. I put a spell over her. “You won’t be seen until you are safe within the village. Go, and don’t let me see you turn back.” I wouldn’t be able to see her anyway, but it sounded good.

            I turned back to the lady.

            “What element are you?” she asked.

            “Earth,” I lied.

            “You are not,” she said. “You, Amanda, are a Star Anoki, the best magician of many villages.”

            “How long have you been spying on me?” I asked.

            “You chose the cleaver,” she said. “That’s a decent knife, there.”

            “I can’t believe I never noticed you!” I shouted.

            “Quiet,” she said. “The forest must be thick with spies worse than me.”

            “Why would any of them attack?” I said. “I am Zephan and Kliid.”

            “Or neither. Perhaps all of them would attack. As far as they are concerned, you are an outsider.”

            I have no home, I thought.

            “The sky,” the strange lady said.

            “I’ll fight all of them,” I said.

            “No…” the strange lady said. “You don’t want to. You just want an outlet for your anger. You won’t hurt innocent people.”

            “These aren’t innocent people!” I shouted. “They’ve been taken over! It’s that stupid commitment spell! It’s wrong! These people don’t even know what they’re doing!”

            I grabbed her collar and ignored the clattering of the seven pounds of wooden beads she wore. “You will tell me who you are.”

            “This is fair,” she said, “because I have figured out who you are. My name is Alicia; you may know that much.”

            I frowned. “Important people in my life have often been named Alicia. Somehow, I don’t think this will be much different.”

            “You are thinking of your mother?” she said.

            “My mother is dead!” I yelled. “And these wars will stop. I have power now, and I’m going to use it!” I stopped. “You can help… or not.”

            “I will be there,” Alicia said, “when you need me. But not in my current state.”

            She was referring to the roots. As I let her go, she handed me a small bottle.

            “It’s morphing potion,” Alicia said. “It morphs into whatever you need at the moment.”

            “It’s water,” I said flatly.

            “That’s because you don’t need it right now. If you get caught, your capturers will only see a bottle of water.”

            “Where are you from?” I asked.

            “Where I am from and where I stay now are different things. It is a long story. Something says that your friends need you now.”

            I stared at her, unsure. Something about this lady was familiar, and at the same time foreign, like food that I haven’t eaten for a long time and tastes different than I remembered.

            “Go ahead,” she said. “I will take care of myself.”

            Before I turned, I healed her, and she gave me a thin smile as I silently took flight.

                                                            *          *          *

            I found everyone in the air, scrambling, splitting up and coming together, flying as high as possible and looking really, really odd. Not funny odd. Creepy odd. Like something was happening. So, big surprise: something was.

            I found some Time, Water and Fire Anoki chasing Li, Kaye and Akana. There might have been twelve of them. As far as I was concerned, it was a fair fight: me against a dozen attackers. I was so fast, so powerful, and so, so mad. I must have hacked through nine of them with the bow and the cleaning knife (which, granted, was a bit degrading for these guys, but not like I cared) when I found I couldn’t see anything. With a healing spell that was so strong it sent out a shock wave that nearly knocked our enemies out of the sky, I warded off the spell. As I watched my enemies fall, it struck me: THEY WERE FLYING.

            They didn’t fall for long. I watched as a Time Anoki swooped up to face me.

            “We were told to bring you back. Your powers are a threat to us.”

            “What powers?”  I said evenly. “I’m an Earth Anoki. And you can already fly.”

            “Don’t be coy. We know what you can do.” She hissed at me. “Many would kill to have your powers.”

            “I wouldn’t try if I were you.”

            “Doesn’t matter,” she said. “You have to come back alive.”

            “So they can use me to win the war? I don’t think so.”  I drew the cleaning knife and said, “Do you know where this has been?”


            “In a rabbit! Oh, wait… it still is!”

            I inspected the work. All done in self-defense, and, after all, in war. Unless you have a terrorist pointing a gun at you, follow the rule we all know: “Don’t try this at home, kids!” No matter how witty my banter is.

            I… erm, disposed of the rest of the attack squad. It really did help my anger issues.

            “What was that?” Kaye asked. “We’re not worth the stronger Darkness Anoki, so they just send a bunch of redshirts?”

            “No, that’s not it,” I said, running my fingers through my hair. “You’re worth the war itself, because I would have come after you and they’d have all of us. They just don’t think you’re enough of a threat to bother with more powerful mercenaries when I’m off somewhere interrogating someone. I wonder if they baited me out there with that spy.”

            “I won’t ask,” Kaye said. “It’s not that we’re weak. Not physically, not mentally, and definitely not magically. I just didn’t want to kill them.”

            “And that’s what you need to get over. This is war. It’s you or them. You can’t dodge it. Once we kill some major warriors, they’ll stop sending them because they need warriors on the battlefield so they’re not taken over by Zephans.”

            “The village is bigger than you think, Amanda,” Kaye said. “Most families have at least five kids.”

            “Then we’ll deal with what they give us. Anyone else they’re stupid enough to send is obviously as dumb as the government behind them. From now on, we kill anyone who threatens us! And no getting soft. I won’t kill innocent people, but these aren’t innocent. That’s why we fight, and that’s why we need to kill. We kill to protect—not just ourselves, but everyone in the Zepha tribe, and everyone in the Kliid tribe. All right?”

            “No,” Kaye said. “It’s all wrong. I’ve never killed someone in my life. I don’t plan to.”

            “Kaye,” I said, “it’s them or us. Think about it. If we let too many people go free, we’ll be tracked easily, which will force us to kill more people. If there’s hope of finding us, then the Kliid and the Zephans will try to get us. At once. Them or us.”

            It’s amazing how people seem to really hate logic at times. Logic whips poetry. But really, I didn’t need a squad of peacies. Or PCs. And I’m not talking about computers. What I really needed were warriors, and I had three girls who didn’t want to kill anything. It didn’t work, and I knew this was driving Kaye nuts.

            Maybe not three girls. I’d seen the look of victorious satisfaction on Li’s face when I came down on Kaye. I knew she’d been the one to fight, to get everyone into the sky, and probably the one who taught them the evasive maneuvers. She’d saved them. And Kaye had objected. Whatever. I was staying out of that fight.

            I turned to Akana, though, to see what her view was. She held up her hands in an “I let them argue” gesture.

            I didn’t see any more people around. Not the Anoki who had attacked us and not the strange spy lady who, now that I came to think of it, had such a stilted way of talking, as if she’d planned this speech for a long time. Or was trying to disguise her voice. Hmm. I hadn’t noticed in the action of a) catching her spying, b) killing someone, and c) not killing a girl hiding in the bushes. Come to think of it, I was talking like that, too. Maybe I was subconsciously role-playing. I am so weird.

            The sun was already getting high, so I convinced the others to leave:

            “We’ve been seen here. We need to leave now.”


            Okay, so they didn’t put up much of a fight. But I got them to leave. We all took off, up in the air again. I still loved it, despite the fact that we were running again. But now we were at least running with a purpose. We were leaving.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 23rd, 2010 at 4:05 pm and is filed under Star. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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