((21 - Too Far Away))
"How do you make this thing go?" Spider frustratedly pounded on the closed doors of the elevator next to the one Kasby and Jaz had taken.
Skunk looked like a deer in headlights at the prospect of being expected to socialize. "What...does it do?"
Giraffe walked over the elevator, and pointed at the panel next to it. "Kasby always pressed buttons."
"But it's a... door." Owl frowned. "Isn't it?" She looked it up and down.
"Maybe it's a leaping door," Goat proposed.
"And a moving room!" Giraffe added. "It's insane!"
Spider pushed the button, and the doors obediently slid open. She took a step inside and hit her head on the ceiling as she fell onto it. "First demons, and now--" she muttered to herself angrily.
"So... you fall up?" asked Goat, leaping into the elevator under Spider.
"More like up isn't up anymore," she replied dizzily.
Owl's eyes widened as she watched her two gravity-defying companions, then followed Giraffe, Zebra, and Skunk into the elevator. Her eyes touched on the buttons inside. "Um, this one?" she asked, resting a finger on the button labeled "mess hall." When the others shrugged, she pushed it, and the doors slid closed.
Spider looked down at her from the ceiling. "You have something on your face," she said, pointedly. "And... the rest of you."
"Yeah. They're letters. Like these." Owl gestured to the scribbles next to the buttons. "I can, oh... not again!"
"What?" Giraffe asked worriedly.
The neat labels had begun rearranging themselves. They now read 'letters read write Jaz still haven't gotten it.' "I know," Owl sighed. "It just looks like little pictures to you. But they... things say what I think."
"They didn't say anything." Spider squinted.
"No! I mean... they don't talk."
The doors slid open again, revealing the large mess hall. It was nearly the size of the docking bay, but closed in, and significantly less damaged. A dirty tray sat on one of the long tables, and a small pile of half-eaten greens was atop another one, the remnants of Spider's dinner.
Goat launched himself into the air, sailing across the massive room to land on the counter at the far end.
"Oh. My." Owl looked around, and peered suspiciously at the layer of dust covering one of the tables. "Your captain, Kasby. Did he really want us to go here?"
"There's some shit to eat in that room." Spider gestured to the other side of the hall, towards where Goat stood on the counter.
"Language," Owl muttered, as the five of them walked slowly through the empty hall.
Goat, meanwhile, was exploring the kitchen, hunting for sandwiching supplies. It was fairly well-stocked, with vegetables and leaves much like those he knew from Face, though often in different colors or varieties. All of the fresh produce had gone rotten, but he was able to find a few boxes of bread that seemed well-preserved, wrapped in something that was invisible save for the very shiny wrinkles. "Okay," Goat muttered to himself. "I've got edible plants, and... some other stuff. Time to get to work."
"Finally!" Spider exclaimed. "Goat can make us some sandwiches!"
As Goat improvised, throwing together piles of strange leaves and still-wrapped chunks of bread, Giraffe took a fork out of a nearby bin and began to dust it off.
Goat noticed, and leapt to her side. "Forks do not exist in sandwich-land!" he declared.
She shrugged. "But it's good to throw."
Owl's head whipped around. "Young lady, why you would be throwing cutlery is beyond me."
"Well, I won't be throwing it at you," Giraffe muttered.
Spider began to sway where she stood near the door to the kitchen, and put a hand to her temples. "My head hurts..." She leaned against the wall for support, trying not to fall onto it.
"Spider?" Owl asked, face full of worry. "Are you alright?"
Giving up, Spider groaned and curled up into a ball on the wall, now leaning on the floor for support. "Mmm... tith... su... uhh... sucks..."
Owl crouched down next to the younger woman, and put a kind hand on her shoulder. "What happened? Is it... the ceiling thing?"
Spider mumbled incoherently for a moment. Then, "Yeah, fucking... can't get things straight." She jerked, then fell against the floor, rolling onto her side. "THAT."
"Oh!" Owl frowned. "I see."
"If I can... concentrate... head... ugh..." The young architect stood up, eyes narrowed in concentration to keep herself right-side up. "There..."
"Well. Can you walk? Maybe a sandwich will help you feel better?" Owl suggested.
"I'm not really hungry, somehow." Spider made her way through the door into the main hall, and slouched on one of the benches.
Owl, helping her, bit her lip. "Maybe you should just get some re--" She cut off abruptly as she caught sight of the sandwich materials Goat had laid out on the counter. "How. How is that here? On the ship, there was no food like that! No normal food!"
"I wonder if my sandwich-making has gained some kind of supernatural boost as well," Goat mused, as he began to unwrap the bread.
Giraffe shrugged, amused. "Maybe. That'd be so cool if they had."
The shiny wrinkles stuck to the boy's fingers a bit, despite not feeling sticky. They also stuck to themselves annoyingly. He brought it to his mouth briefly. "Hm. Tasteless."
Owl walked over to the counter, looking down at the food. "I thought... I mean, Face was destroyed. How do we have plants like at home?" The word home brought tears to her eyes.
Spider looked at Owl sidelong, still feeling guilty about the whole... kicking incident. "They probably planted the same things in our 'colony' or whatever. Or got the plants from our home." She rested her head on the table.
"Colony?" Owl asked, tasting the strange word.
"Someone called it that..." Spider mumbled. Then she jerked her head up, floating into the air for a second. "Wait, did Jax explain anything to you?"
Skunk munched some dried mushrooms she'd found, watching the conversation. "Jaz," she corrected.
"Well..." Owl bit her lip. "She explained writing! Kind of. And the demons."
Giraffe smiled wryly. "Suddenly I feel grateful to Kasby, even if he did think we were demons.
While they had been talking, Goat had managed to find himself a pair of carving knives, and neatly deviscercapitated the bread. "Hmm. My skills haven't changed," he said as he deftly combined the food elements. "I guess I was already perfect at this!"
"Did Kasby explain things to you?" Owl looked up at Giraffe. "I mean, he must have, if you're grateful."
"Well, more than you know, at least." Giraffe shrugged.
"Feel grateful?" Spider looked smug. "I'm not grateful!" she said angrily.
"No one said you had to be grateful, Spider." The philosopher sighed, watching Goat work.
"But he... picked you up out of nowhere!" Owl protested.
"Yeah, and then he accused me of killing our whole city!" She seemed smug, but not as genuinely furious as before.
"Hey! Jaz did that too!" The rememorist frowned a bit.
Goat finished his work, cleaned his knives with a flick of each hand, twirled them, and sheathed them in his belt. "SANDWICHES!" he declared, changing the subject.
Owl let out a low whistle. "That... young man, that was impressive."
"Good." Giraffe nodded. "I'm hungry!"
Goat leapt along the table as his companions arranged themselves on it, distributing his creations. He leapt to the ceiling and passed one off to Spider, who was busy walking a full vertical circuit of the room. She grinned down at him.
"Thanks," Owl said as she picked her sandwich up and took a bite. "Oh! It's delicious!"
Giraffe took a huge bite from hers, and said through a mouthful of food: "Thanks, Goat!"
Spider stopped in a corner of the ceiling, munching on her sandwich upside-down, and looked up. "Damn!" she said to herself. "I could have been the best hook-ball player ever with these powers!"
Owl almost choked on her second bite. A wave of emotion shook her body. "Hook ball..." she mourned when she'd swallowed properly.
"Yeah..." Spider stared down at her hands, and sighed.
Giraffe dropped her sandwich and stared at the table, and even Goat looked glum for a minute, contemplating his favorite sport. Only Skunk kept chewing, clearly enjoying her dried mushroom sandwich.
"We're, we're..." Owl started sobbing for the second time in one day. "We're never going to see it again!"
"Yeah, well... it exploded." Spider let out a bubble of air from her lips.
"We'll find a new home," Goat resolved.
"On another demon chamber?" On the ceiling, Spider stood up, looking down at them.
Owl cried harder. The words on the various strewn bits of food-packaging around them began spinning, turning to read 'never home lost lost lost hope home home home family.' "Our home was NOT just a demon chamber!" she sobbed.
"It was also a giant crystal," Spider said quietly. "We can't go back, though... so just..."
Giraffe put a hand on Owl's arm. "We could see if we could stay here..."
Spider floated down from the ceiling, gently this time, and shook her head. "I don't think this is any safer..."
Goat frowned. "There has to be somewhere that's safe!"
Owl's tears stopped abruptly, as a memory flickered into her mind. "The..." She sat up, looking at her friends. "The Center," she whispered.