Izer v2 were built in an inferior manner when compared to their originals. Not only did they lack the elemental strengths of their predecessors, though some argued that was related to them not having reached their fully matured forms, but they would be no more loyal than any natural bird if not raised from their youngest age. And that age, the only time the izer could imprint and bond with an owner, was so frail that only the hardiest of the species could survive past their first week without direct and constant care.
The book had trailed off to exalt the superiority of the original creatures the labs made, but Alma only cared to remember the part about the care a young izer v2 needed. They needed constant feeding, but one could not leave that to the mechanized kennels to drip food into its gullet unless they were willing to risk drowning it with chalky formula. They needed plenty of warmth but not so much that it dried out their half-feathered bodies into jerky, but too cold and they would soon freeze. And, perhaps most damningly, they required the attention of something to keep them healthy, whether a parent or owner, which completely went against the ease with which most other species could be kept. Sure, a beast like a seeker would never obey as an adult if you spent no time with them, but they did not outright die of loneliness.
And she was tempted to let the little bugger test her theory that, if trapped in the stage in which it only screamed and shat, the potion could keep it around.
Getting the lot of the adopted creatures back to her kennel had been fairly easy, even with the Agency’s refusal to drug them before transport. The little izer had been stuffed full of disgusting formula and then had a cloth thrown over her cage like the rest of the izer. The salaves settled for coiling over itself and taking a nap due to its still-visible meal sitting in its belly, and the slynk had chittered and complained without ever managing to escape the plastic cage that held it. It was shortly after they had arrived at the kennels that the problems began.
The baby izer had woken up despite the fabric draped over its cage, and begun to scream, setting off the rest of the beasts as Alma ushered them into half-prepared cages. Hurrying through her work, she managed to dump the salaves into a pool as it hissed, the sound cut off as though cut by a knife. The other izer were released to squawk their hearts out in cages with a few dangling toys and perches, and the slynk upended into an aquarium meant to be chew-proof.
With them done, she ripped the cover off of the young izer’s cage, meeting its red eyes as it threw back its head and squabbed some more. This izer did not have a built in perch in its travel cage as the other two had, instead sitting in a tightly packed ‘nest’ of brown dyed wool to keep it warm and from breaking its tiny bird bones if the cart had stopped suddenly. She had though herself rather clever for thinking that one up without the aid of a book or story. That had been before she had seen the splatted line of white on the wool and noticed a little more in the folds of the fabric she held.
With a laughing swear, she tossed the cover into a nearby sink, then turned back to the screeching baby in its nest of wool.
“”Couldn’t wait tah start shit up, eh?” she asked it as she pulled open the door on the little cage. “Oh, look at me squeaky beak! Can move food to poop in record time!” She laughed again as it snapped at her with its ridiculously oversized looking beak, yanking her fingers back as she did. “Already wantin’ something a bit tastier than the powder? Ain’t gonna blame yah, but I need me fingers, right?””
Alma jogged back to the cart, now full of empty cages, and pulled on a pair of thick leather gloves as she walked back. The izer encouraged her to speed up her pace, squabbing loudly as it poked its head out of the cage, taking another wobbly step towards freedom. “Nah, no, jus’ waitaminutethere!”
Alma lunged for the small bird as it fell, oddly silent as it tumbled towards the hard tiled floor. She caught it inches above the ground, air exploding from her in a whoosh as her chest smacked into the ground.
She lay there, holding the young izer like an offering to one of the gods, catching her breath as she felt something tighten around one of her fingers. Angling herself to push her body off the ground with her elbows, she saw the izer had clamped onto her thumb. “Bit too big of a worm fer ya. Sorry birdie.”
Her words did nothing to dissuade the izer from its hold, and it held tightly to her thumb even as she stood up and separated her hands. Now held in one hand, the izer kept its neck twisted at a painful-looking angle as it tried to rip her thumb free, the thick glove and the strength of the baby bird making it feel like she was wearing a slightly too tight ring. “Cut’it out, birdie,” she told it as her free hand fumbled with a dropper full of formula, the glove less helpful in that case.
The baby izer v2 did not let go even as she slid it into its new home, which was little more than a larger version of the travel cage. There were no toys hanging from its ceiling, no plants to pick at, and a fabric ‘nest’ covering the floor, built to be both warm and easy to clean. “Duncha want to try out yer new home? Even got a name for ya, to keep ya goin’ if I’m gone fer a bit.” The izer remained attached as she gave it a gentle shake.
In the end, she shoved the dropper into the izer’s mouth, and it released her as she slowly released the food. “Not a great start, Morg,” she said, shaking her head, “Then again, I’d be pissy too if I was stuck bein’ a baby forever.” When the last of the food was gone, she pulled the dropper away before the beak could close on it. “Don’cha worry though, This stuff’ll keep ya going until I get mah pay and can grow you back up. Good enough fer yah?”
Morgana clicked her beak shut, red eyes slipping shut a moment later. “Good enough.” Alma nodded to herself and closed the cage door.
The damned bugs started off small, barely noticeable until they had already glutted themselves with your blood, requiring fire to be held near your already punctured flesh to make them let go without merely ripping their bloated rear from their head. She also remembered the sicknesses that could come from them, once strong people turned into shaking, bony echoes of themselves, a problem that was not so nearly prevalent now that anyone in the city could pay a few credits and be wiped free of disease. There were sprays and salves that could be rubbed on skin and clothing to repel them, small beasts and machines that would seek out and kill as many ticks as possible, and Alma had been quite glad not to have dealt with any herself for a long while.
So, naturally the labs had made their own form of ticks. Ones that did not need to latch on, so all the salves and sprays in the world would do nothing to stop them. And the freakish mass before her was one of them.
There were better ways to hold the thing than the magesteel cage laced with psychowire. The others of its kind were held in the stasis option the kennel provided as to avoid pickier beasts from starving, where the floating mass of gelatin tendrils and its shriveled core, like a half-dried raisin, had been stored up until about an hour ago. The core itself was now smaller than her head, but she had no doubt it would soon be swelled to bursting, and she bared her teeth at it as she watched it slowly spin through the air.
Alma had hated ticks, had been disgusted by ticks, but the cushion of time spent free of them made her almost wish she was about to stick her hand into a thicket of them and let them balloon into plump grapes rather than what she was going to do instead. Or at least toss them onto her less than useful mad drakes and let those not reduced to bloody smears survive.
She got closer to the thing, could make out the barest hint of color in the see-through tendrils as she stopped a foot away from the cage, the jagged patterns across the deflated core that floated inside. It did not react, bobbing in place much like it had been doing since it first began to shake off the effects of the stasis, and she grit her teeth together as she wondered why the hells this thing had been made.
There was a moment of pity for it, but she squashed that feeling. He, no, it wasn’t a grief breed, and she had spent an entire day working on irritating tasks and doing her best to remember how she hated ticks, and she refused to waste that. The annoyance and frustration from having to fill out countless forms in duplicate and triplicate, redoing entire pages when she realized certain sheets had a single mistake that clever pen stroke could not fix, would not be wasted. Not because she felt bad for a magical emotion-eating tick.
She slammed the small cage’s door open then, stepping to the side as if she expected the thing to rush out and latch onto her like the ticks she kept firmly in mind. Rage breeds were the most physical of the lot according to the WATT entry, and she had dressed to cover all of her body that she could, complete with a helmet that she knew would do nothing against magic but might keep seeking tendrils from her eyes and ears and mouth, blinding and choking as they-
No. The panic and paranoia breeds would get their chance someday, but not now. She forced herself to think not of the fears, instead focusing on that the thing had not left the cage. “I,” the word came out muffled, her throat clearly of the opinion that fear was the way to go and the helmet doing its best to smother what little came out, and she started again. “I’m already mad enough.” The rage catharion continued to bob in the empty air, making no move to rush out at her. Didn’t he, it feel her rage and annoyance? The psychowire should have instantly become next to useless when she opened the door and broke their link, letting it feed on her rage with ease.
When the thing still failed to erupt outwards at the sound of her voice, she stepped back in front of the cage to better look at the loops of wire she had woven around the cage. When the catharion still failed to burst out with wild flailing to latch onto her face, she pulled off her helmet to get a better look. The wire was still intact, but the portion at the door and frame no longer touched on all four sides, and the seller had informed her its mind-energy-deflecting capabilities would fail if there was ever a gap larger than an inch that the wire failed to cover. That was why she had used such a small cage for the catharion’s waking, unable and unwilling to pay for the lengths required for a larger cage.
Alma looked at the thing floating in the cage, wondering if it's tendrils looked a bit more orange, if the wrinkled body looked a little less deflated. Her imagination, or was it somehow just trapped inside the cage? She really didn’t want to reach in to grab it, to discard even the flimsy protection the wire could offer her.
Then a new thought occurred to her, and she laughed even as she suppressed the urge to punch the cage. “There ain’t no such thing as psycho-fucking-wire, is there.”
“Seems like I’ll be paying that little slynk a visit on the morrow, in full uniform.” Alma pinched the bridge of her nose as she closed her eyes, then opened one a crack to look at the floating catharion. He was looking a little fuller, or else the squint was doing wonders for his wrinkles. He hadn’t moved much closer though, bobbing slowly in the cage as she opened her other eye. “Please tell me you are not thinking I am annoyed because of you.” She spread her arms out wide, palms facing the ceiling, then shrugged. “Okay, some of it is connected to you, but you haven’t done anything.” She stepped towards the cage, taking it as a good sign that he did not dart away. Or towards her uncovered face.
“After all, it’s not like I can just keep spraying you with more water. You’re,” she jabbed her pointed index finger at him, “the one designed to eat anger. Kind of limited in how to feel around you until you’re a bit less,” she flapped her hand at his current state and did not bother to finish her sentence.
“Seriously though. You gonna gulp down this anger, or are ya’ just going to keep sipping away? The catharion in the dens supposedly can gulp down emotions in a heartbeat.” When her mild rage at the wire seller failed to instantly dissipate, she stepped back and beckoned to him with her arm. “Come on out. Pretty sure you ain’t gonna explode or nothing, so please. Get. Over. Here.” She punctuated each of the final words with a sharp pulling motion of her hand, as though she was slapping the air.
And Nocturne the catharion finally moved.
It was not as fast as she feared, more like the bob of a river squirt than a halberd shark, and he passed through the cage’s open doorway to hover a couple of feet in front of her. The core did not move as his body swung around it, stopping once two ear-like tendrils jutted out above him and the three connected ones, two of which were stubbier than the third between them, hung below. The smaller pair of the latter group slowly rose to mimic how she held her arms.
He floated there as she held her pose, trying to decide what to do. If she moved quickly, would he take it as an invitation to play or a threat against his jelly body? Or if she moved slowly, would he take that as her trying to trick him? The seconds stretched on, the catharion making no moves beyond a gentle bobbing as he remained floating in front of her, her arms not dropping as she studied the jagged patterns of its core for any sign, any understandable emotion at all.
A few seconds later, she repeated her earlier beckoning motion, and the catharion shot backwards into the cage. Alma slapped her palm against her forehead, dragging it down across her face as she sighed. “Guess I shoudda expected that.” she muttered. Then, a little louder, “Hey. Nocturne. Not gonna hurt you.” She considered the notes from the database, and quickly amended, “Not on purpose at least. But I need you to get out here so I can train you something.”
She waited a bit longer, but despite the catharion looking a little less shriveled, her patience evaporated quickly. “I have other things to do if you plan on just hovering there.” Nocturne continued to bob, and Alma sighed again. She reached for the cage, and began unwinding the ‘psychowire’ from it, swearing a few times when it proved reluctant to be unwound from a pole. “Going to see about getting a refund for this scrap.” Alma said, pulling the last bit of wire free and wrapping it around its earlier discarded spool. “Assuming the little bastard is still there,” she whispered to the catharion, winking at him as she continued, “I think a bit of a lean ought to do enough. Sentinels might not do much of anything for the city, but we have a reputation.”
When the spool was rewound, albeit a great deal messier than when she had first brought the wire back to the kennel, she looked back at Nocturne.
“Ya’know, you don’t have to stay in this little cage, right?” He continued to bob. “It’s supposed to be for transport, like with the voltitans so they don’t magic their way out while on the way to the park. I have other, larger magesteel enclosures, though they ain’t got much of anything in them at the moment.” What would even go in such an enclosure? Their kind supposedly liked quiet places on the fringes of civilizations, but the room the cage was in was the best she would be able to offer him. Maybe something that resembled a crumbled building, with places to hide and act like a spooky ghost?
“Maybe something that looks burned out?” She shrugged when she saw the catharion fail to respond, then smirked when it mirrored her movement. Or maybe she was too ready to attribute a shrug to his constant, slow bobbing. “Anyhow,” Alma did not turn her back on him as she strolled towards the room’s exit, keeping him and his open cage in view until she reached the door. “I’ll be back tomorrow. Hope yer feelin’ a bit better then.”
Silver: I use google docs for everything now because of stuff like that.
Sept 17, 2023 18:01:49 GMT -6
Riku: I had like 20 tabs open to eventually go through to add up all my character levels and copy/paste all my stuff/pets into my registry thread. When chrome updated all the tabs were gone. Oh well…
Sept 17, 2023 11:45:28 GMT -6
Riku: Muahaha! And you almost got away with it, too.
Sept 17, 2023 11:09:32 GMT -6
Silver: Oops looks like I deleted you two at the end when making an edit, fixing now!
Sept 17, 2023 5:16:05 GMT -6
Xentus: ah am i missing from the show ring?
Sept 17, 2023 2:15:25 GMT -6
Skylos: Oooh, this time I have an acid pet.
Sept 16, 2023 22:27:02 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Oh, good point, thanks for the reminder! :0 Gotta pick out something special for my characters, hmmmm
Sept 16, 2023 21:21:34 GMT -6
Silver: Show Ring is up! Reminder: October is Vai Min Mur and therefore a special contest! Train your shadow and acid pets in preparation. :3
Sept 16, 2023 21:14:38 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Thanks for this allowing the change in prizes Silver, even if it was forgotten by mistake, I am very happy to get the opportunity for this particular Estharne type. <3
Sept 14, 2023 0:17:37 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Oh yes please! Thanks for this information Silver! <3 I would need to contact the npc account then?
Sept 14, 2023 0:00:16 GMT -6
Silver: (I said 'we' a bunch of times but it was totes just me that forgot it. Oops.)
Sept 13, 2023 23:55:16 GMT -6
Silver: Hey Twilight if you want to make a change to how you spent your points now that the River is available, please DM staff. We know we messed up by forgetting to include it so if you want it more than something else you bought we could swap for you.
Sept 13, 2023 23:54:40 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I can throw in the Pasha-Sarane Searhorse as well.
Sept 13, 2023 23:43:07 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Is there any chance I could buy the river Estharne for 20 usd from someone? I lost the opportunity to get one last year when I forgot to buy one from the Trepuldra.
Sept 13, 2023 23:41:08 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Now I wish I had saved some points. ;-;
Sept 13, 2023 23:33:59 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Uggggggh I wish I would've been active a month ago x-x
Sept 13, 2023 22:16:38 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: We have a gorgeous addition to the Summer Fair prize shop- the river tiger estharne!
Sept 13, 2023 19:35:08 GMT -6
Riku: I really didn’t expect to get my two favorites of this cross. One, sure. But both? Perfect!
Sept 9, 2023 14:22:59 GMT -6
Darky: It was a fun prompt but MAN did I struggle trying to figure out how to make it actually x3
Sept 7, 2023 2:04:09 GMT -6