Friday, February 3, 2012



((94 — Broken Home))

July 4th, 802 AT.

The medical room was quiet, unmoving. A technician had come by the night before to clean up the blood.

Skunk glanced around silently as she guided the stretcher bearing Kasby's still form. Kasby lay on the stretcher, an IV drip running into his arm. He was unconscious but breathing. One of his arms was heavily swathed in bandages.

Goat was lying in one of the beds, staring at the window. He looked up when his friend entered. "Skunk!"

Skunk stopped dead. "Goat?"

"Yep!" He sat up eagerly. "I've been getting worried about you guys. Where've you been? Where are the others? What's up with Kasby?"

Skunk snorted. "His hand got lopped off."

Goat observed Kasby's injury as Skunk wheeled the stretcher into position near his bed. The bandages hid anything particularly vicious from sight, but they were soaked through with blood.

"Me," Skunk continued. "Well, I suppose I've been fine. Owl, I haven't seen her in a few days." She furrowed her brow, looking at Got. "How did you get here? And why are you in the hospital?"

"Escaped in the Quinn from Sector... Four... with Kasby, Giraffe, and..." His face fell. "Zebra," he said softly.

Picking up on his tone, Skunk prompted, "What happened to Zebra?"

"The thing that Jaz turned into... got her. In this very room."

"Shit." Skunk bit her lip. "She--it--got Kasby too. Nearly killed me in the process."

"Did you hear how it and its demon friends killed all the higher-ups here but Barret?"

Skunk shrugged. "I heard that some demons had come a-calling at the meeting-thing, but that's really the sum of my knowledge."

"Mm." Goat leaned back against his pillows. "Barret's a jerk."

"Who's she? Sounds fishy to me."

"She was the military leader of Sector One, before all the other five leaders got assassinated. So now she's basically the dictator." Goat lowered his voice. "I think she's a demon."

"What even is a demon?" Skunk asked in exasperation. "At first I thought they were just those things we fought at the start of all this. Then Jaz... well, you know. And now dictator-demons?"

"Apparently they can be humanoid. Doesn't seem like much of a stretch for them to look completely human." He paused. "After Kasby ran off to hunt down Jaz, Barret sent me, Giraffe, and Zebra to reclaim one of the gun towers from some rebels. We tried to reason with them, join them even, but they shot me in the arm." He used one hand to point at his shoulder, which was still bandaged from the fighting two days earlier. "I do not like them."

"Yeah... I don't think anyone does." Skunk sighed. "What about Spider?"

"I was going to ask you that," Goat said worriedly.

"Hmm..." Skunk gazed at the ceiling. "There was no one else, was there? Me, you, Owl, Spider, Zebra, Giraffe. And Kasby."

"Nope. Everyone's accounted for 'cept Spider," Goat said. "Face is running out of survivors..."

"She can take care of herself, I guess," Skunk said half-heartedly. She didn't seem convinced in the truth of her own words.

The hospital room was silent again for an uncomfortable minute.

"Ah, Face," Goat finally said. "Playing hookball with Aardvark and Platypus... Practicing the art of leaping with Master Jellyfish..."

Skunk kept silent. Her memories of Face were not the type of thing that most people found pleasant or cheery.

Goat was still talking. "Shame how he didn't leap far enough that last time..."

Skunk cracked a tiny smile. "All gone now, no doubt."

"Learning to make sandwiches, with Xylophone! 'Goat! You just something between two other things! It's fucking simple!' Xylophone was always yelling..." Goat's smile almost looked real, but his periodic glances at Kasby's unmoving form gave him away. "And Hippopotamus, that girl with curly hair! The times I almost asked her out..."

Skunk changed the topic with a half-roll of her red eyes. "So where's Giraffe?"

"Back in her room, resting."

"Mm. Good." Skunk's voice was flat. "You were saying about the possibly-demonic dictator. That sounds like trouble to me."

"Yeah!" Goat sat up slightly again. "I've got pretty much no evidence other than how all the other leaders got killed so conveniently, but I'm sure of it." Goat's eyes narrowed. "Something in my gut tells me."

"I don't know much about the situation, but it doesn't sound impossible." Skunk walked over to the windows and gazed out at the city below. "What are we going to do about it, then?"

"I'm gonna heal up, first," Goat said, flexing his shoulder and wincing slightly. "Not sure what to do after that."

"We can't exactly let the entire city to fall to bits, though." Skunk frowned, then sighed. "I wonder whether Owl is still at the library... She'd have an idea."

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