She surveyed the land outside of the ship with a pair of stress weathered eyes. There was no sign. None at all. Her head pounded slightly and she paused just long enough to go through another few poppy seeds. Waking up to having Boss screaming at her was not the best way to get her out of sleep. Her head sent another shriek of pain through her thoughts. Of course, waking up to find that they were missing one particularly important zebra was also a bad thing.
She shut her eyes and tried to focus. There were too many things going on and the numbing from her habit hadn't quite kicked in to remove her pain. Ivan was gone.
That thought, of Ivan being gone, sent more pain through her headache.
She opened her eyes and read through the letter again. No matter how she tried to twist it, the letter kept sending a tone of finality through all of her. It made her want to shake.
They were over Las Pegasus. The bright lights and the other airships crowding the skies, their various noises, the fumes from their fuels, all of it made for a slightly nauseating combination of information.
It felt like a nice place. Her kind of town. Whores, seedy little places where you could get what you needed, that sort of thing.
"So... what now?" The other zebra, one who was far more annoying and had just disrupted her train of thought, asked.
She pushed him away from her with a wing. "Go bother someone who cares." She went back to training her gaze on the ground below, searching for a sign.
Canary trotted away, perhaps sensing her mood. She didn't really care.
There was no sign of him, and her heart was slowly beating faster. Her headache was mostly gone and the slowly breeze made her crave a decent flight to get her thoughts in order. As if on cue, Boss, back from searching, walked below the ship. She kicked off the ladder, struggling to keep her feelings straight. “I’ll take it you haven’t found anything?” She filed down one of her talons against a rusty metal sheet while she tried to calm herself, thinking rationally. The scraping noise kept her mind off of things she'd rather not think about.
Besides, he was Ivan. He'd been stabbed quite a few times and otherwise almost killed and he sprung back up... shortly.
Actually, now that she thought about it, he'd been on his feet after his near fatal stabbing pretty quickly. Maybe Canary wasn't completely useless after all? He had been getting rather good at that healing spell.
Boss shook her head. “Not a trace of him." She said, her eyes filled with a hint of sadness.
Canary poked his head out. “He took a book with him.” He tried.
She turned her glare on him, willing him to explode spectacularly into a collection of body parts. She clicked her beak as the only sign of her building irritation. “And... that helps us how?"
He shrugged. “Still, just saying.” She shot him another glare.
"It's your turn to go search." Boss gently reminded.
Cata closed her eyes for a second. “Mind the ship.” She stated, glaring at Boss and calmly launching herself off the side. Her wings caught the air and she gracefully flew down to the town below.
Canary looked at Boss. “You ever get the fee-”
“If you finish that sentence I will hurt you.” She promised, her flesh paw resting on her sword.
She ignored the stupid discussion of her ship mates and remained hovering over the ground, her thoughts definitely angry.
“Hello up there, anybody home?”
Cata blinked, turning around. Was that? She walked over to the familiar looking snake... thing. His form brought the red hot pang of anger to her head and her headache slowly returned. Damn it. “You.” She stated gruffly.
“Me?” Marty said, and to her glee he seemed a little upset by her tone. A minor victory, but she took what she could get.
“Yes you.” She glared. Was there anybody else that would be stupid enough to talk to her when she was this angry? "What do you want now?” She trailed her eyes across him, taking in every single place he could have a weapon, besides his sword.
“Universal peace, a friendly face, and some money in my pocket.” Marty smiled rakishly “Failing that, maybe some information.”
She closed her eyes for a second, the sight of the cheery snake far more than she was willing to deal with. “And what would such a fucking nice guy like yourself possibly want with me?” She half snarled, half said politely.
“If I wanted to rhyme, I’d say coffee or tea. But that’s just being silly. No, I thought I might come here and get a little help looking into an investigation of mine, and in return help you and your seeming leader.” Marty said evenly. It was almost like he wasn't trying to piss her off.
Couldn't be. He wouldn't have talked to her.
She looked around him and tried not to think about how much more searching she could be doing. It didn't work.
She felt her temper start to boil over, her nerves frayed and more than a little shot. “You can take your investigation and whatever help you were planning and get the fuck away from me. YOU-” She paused, Ivan had seemed a little more restrained with dealing with him in the past, from what she could remember. “You. Scram.” She looked away, not wanting to ruin her ploy with her eyes which she knew were brimming over with frustration.
“Ooookay. I obviously caught you at a bad time. Can I talk to anyone else in your group, Ivan perhaps?” The snake said, apparently missing the hint to get the fuck away from her.
“Sick. All of them. Sick.” She lied smoothly. “I’m immune because different species and Boss is having fun elsewhere.” She bit her tongue, literally, remembering that Boss was in fact sterile. The pain helped her think and she let herself suck lightly at her own blood to provide a bit of background noise for the conversation. It helped her think. “Gambling, I would say.”
“I’m fairly good at healing, and if the stress of taking care of two zebras is getting to you that badly, maybe I should take over.” Marty offered politely. “I know taking care of others is hardly fun, especially when they’re sick.” She wished he would stop being polite. It was annoying. He needed to leave so she could get to looking.
She lets out a low growl, something about the snake setting off something instinctual. “You...” She stopped. “I don’t need your help. I don’t want your help. LEAVE.” She snarled the last word, and sent her worst death glare at him. “Got it? None of need your help. And if you see Ivan, tell him that I don’t fucking care if he decides to be a fucking hero. GOT IT?” She winced internally, cursing her tongue. She spread her wings to get away from him before she blew anything else.
Very quietly, the snake began to talk. She listened closely, just in case. “So you’re telling me that Ivan decided to go off and be a hero? Oi.” He massaged his forehead with a hand. “Doesn’t he know that’s a good way to end up dead?” He looked up at her and she felt like cringing away in disgust. His gaze felt a bit like something dirty. “Thank you Catastrophe. I’ll be on my way. Good seeing you again.” Thankfully, with that last sentence he started to slither off.
She glares at him for a long minute before closing her eyes. Going against her better judgement, she flew after him slowly, making sure to keep him in easy viewing distance. She might need his help after all. Ivan? Dying. Psh. Like that’s the issue. She ignored the phantasmal pictures that the concept of Ivan's death kicked up.
Cata winced as her mechanical bits decided to let out a few clinks and clanks. She'd probably need to find someone to look at that wing joint, as that was a source of pain, a tearing sensation flaring from the base of it. She had a brief recollection of the crash that ripped off that part of her and then shoved it away
She slowly followed after, knowing full well that the snake man probably could figure out that Ivan needed saving, and considering he felt like the type to have a goody goody streak a few miles long, it was best that she be there in case the snake decided to 'help' in a way she didn't like. She closed her eyes and sped up, landing next to him.
She spat out a bit of congealed blood, the taste not one she wanted anymore she had a craving for a few more seeds but ignored it, not wanting to show any weakness. “On second thought... Can we make a deal?” She really didn’t want to do this, but it seemed a safe bet that he would be able to find him eventually.
Smiling, and the sight of his smile almost turned her stomach, he turned around. “Oh, and what type of deal would that be, Miss Catastrophe?”
“If you call me mishap I will punch you in the face, weird ass powers bedamned.” She snarled, then forced herself calm. She did not need to remember that right now. “The kind where we both benefit in some way.”
“I will keep that in mind. Anyways, go on, I’m listening.”
“If you help me find Ivan, maybe beat a little sense in his screwy little head, maybe I’ll help you with your little ‘quest’ or investigation or whatever.” She stopped her eyes widening and her head pounding again. “... He’s got me doing it.” This is so cliche, she thought.
“I don’t know about beating some sense into his head, but I’ll help you find him. And as for the help investigating, any help at all would be much appreciated.” Marty, as was his name, raised one of his dermal ridges.
She shrugged off his questioning gaze and walked around him, a bit of pain she knew evident in her walk but she made sure to quickly force it to disappear. “He had a bit of a breakdown, I think.” She added, looking around. She might as well give him some information if it helped him.
“Considering what he said during our private conversation, I’m only surprised that this seems to be the first time he’s done this.” Of course Ivan had told him things that she didn't know. Nothing could ever come easily. “I should know, I’ve done it before, myself.”
“He said, and I quote. I intend to do away with myself far away from any of you so that you may live long lives without the hands of fate intervening.” She shook one of her wings to get a little blood flowing by the artificial bit, a rustling sound emanating. “I’m not worried about him trying to off himself.” It occurred to her that the snake might be one of those people who could divine the truth. The edge of paranoia had caught up with her and she decided to ride the nervous energy as long as she could. “That much.” It surprised her just how much is hurt for her to admit that she did worry about it. She resumed her normal tone. “He didn’t take his meds.”
“That’s... problematic.” Marty said, in the understatement of the day. “What type of medication was he on?”
She flipped up her wing and dug through the pouch. She grabbed on to a small pill bottle and read a few lines of worthless medical babble. “No idea. Antipsychotics. I swiped a few spare bottles from a guy I know.” She smiled lightly. He was planning on helping her, probably. “So... you can fix ‘im, right?” If he said yes...
“Maybe, but when it comes to ‘healing’ someone’s mind, they have to be willing for it to work even slightly, and it’s extremely difficult even when they are willing.” It hit her like a sword, cutting through her hope and letting it the ground like wheat to the scythe.
She tried to keep the look of extreme disappointment from her face and knew she failed. “And the god spider doesn’t help. Or whatever else is in there.” She rolled her eyes and her own naivete. “Fuck.”
“Yeah, it sounds like at best I would be able to seal off his mind from outside influence, and I’d have to literally sleep next to him forever after to keep that up. There’s no guarantee that even that would work.”
In a knee jerk reaction she blurts out what she was thinking. “No way in hell are You sleeping next to him.” She hisses for a brief second before remembering herself. “Damn it. Fuck it.” She closes her eyes. “You are like a wall. And a teacher. AT THE SAME TIME.” She knew a bit of a blush was on her face from her outburst and she ignored it all the same.
“Funny that, I actually have my teaching degree. Physics and math.” Marty smiled wickedly. “And I can create an invisible wall if I so desire.” She felt her right taloned leg twitch as if it were begging her to sink it into his throat. She ignored it.
“If I wasn’t sure that you were secretly some kinda demon thing designed to make me angry, I would seriously kill you and drag your body into an alley, maybe make you into little strips of jerky.” She muttered. “So... any ideas how to track him?”
“Sorry about that, my inherent ability to be an asshole decided to act up.” Marty blinks, then finishes his thought. “Okay, this is going to sound extremely stupid to you, but I have a random hunch that he’s to the northwest of us. That silly spin you saw back there?" It did sound stupid, and she had ignored the spin. "The first time I did that it sent me to you, and now it’s sending me northwest.”
She sighed, digging through her pouch and placing another seed in her mouth. “Honestly, if I have to deal with you, maybe it isn’t worth it...” She whispered under her breath. “Not like I really care what happens to him, no.” She straightened up, taking a more rigid stance in her movements. “SO. Go on, magic snake thing. Show me whatever fuckery you have to so I can find him and lock him in his room until he calms down.” She looked to the sky as if it held the answer to her questions.
It didn't of course.
“Let’s get out of town first, I don’t want to rile up the local yokels too much.” Marty slithered on once more, heading to the northwest portion of the town. She followed easily, not letting her wince of pain when her false leg hit the ground. It was being over sensitive.
“And now you’ll get to see how I got here.” He began to survey the area right around him, to her, it seemed like he was doing absolutely nothing but looking around.
Idly, she thought about what she might do after this. She wondered what he was doing, certainly, but he was growing on her nerves like a fungus, rotting through them. “I suppose a flying castle or something or a demon or a -” She gnashed her beak together, and listened to the light grinding noise that echoed from it. “JUST GET ON WITH IT.”
“And now, the magic.” The emotion dropped completely out of his voice, startling her just a tad. A vertical slice appeared in the air, then widened out significantly into a glowing rectangular hole in space. Two large, solid wings appeared on his shoulders. “Fly through the gateway, I’ll follow.”
She looked at the hole and blinked a few times. He had to be kidding her.
She didn't even try to explain where the wings had come from, her sense of what was going on too far gone
“Where does it go, does it steal my soul, how long does it take, does this cause permanent damage in anyway to me or beings I know?” She said not commenting on the fact that he has wings, or can apparently tear holes in reality.
“Look up, it makes an artificial cliff. It doesn’t steal souls, and it’s instantaneous. The only way it will cause permanent damage is if you fall, now fly through, please.” Marty coldly emphasized the last four words, drawing her ire to the fore front of her mind just as if he had personally insulted her.
She turned away. “Fuck you. I’ll search for him myself. This REEKS of a fucking trap and I’m not going to fall for it.” She turned back to look at Marty, her eyes wide, her paranoia hitting her right then and there with a better explanation. “In fact. How the hell do I know that you didn’t take him?” She backed away slowly, counting the steps. “It fits. You were in town at the time. Came RIGHT to the airship. Lured away the only person guarding it, probably took an opportunity to signal your little friends to take over.” She continued to count her steps.
“Child. If I wanted to cause you harm, I would have done so already. This dustbowl of a town only still exists because I have no desire to hurt them at all. But if you are so distrustful of me, I will go on by myself. I will not tell your companion of your apparent lack of bravery. Do not try and follow me through the gateway, as I will close it immediately after I fly through. It will cut you in half.” With that, Marty slithered away as fast as it seemed like he could past the gateway, forming and reforming his wings as he went. She felt as if she had been chided by someone stronger than her and it hurt.
“Stop.” She sighed. What was the point in fighting it? Her head was pounding and he seemed like her best lead. “I’ll go.” She lightly shook. “I hate you so much. But... take me with you.” She flapped her wings and took off from the ground easily, ignoring the urge to fly as far away from him as possible. “Just fly through?”
“Do it quickly, I have to be close to keep it open. It’s hard to control your position while hang gliding.” He yelled back through.
She dodged past her apprehensions and every voice that screamed that it was a trap and dove through the mess of the gateway, her eyes closed. “I hate you.”
The gate way hole in space portal thing closed right after she passed it, leaving her disoriented. “Be that as it may, it’s the only way for me to get off the ground, and it saves you energy in getting altitude. Now follow me and watch. Your eyes are most likely better than mine.”
She suddenly had a really bad feeling. The kinda feeling that told her that this was only going to get worse as time went on.
"Oh hey. Fate says fuck you." She looked down. She felt herself shake in barely contained anger as she forced herself to maintain altitude. They were only above the city. They hadn't gone anywhere but up. “Yeah. Probably better vision, along with a sense of humor and general looks." She snarked, wanting the last word.
She had a feeling that she wasn't going to be getting many of those.