Random encounters. Every story has to have them.
He didn't sleep at all last night, but it's not like he ever does. Timmy stayed in Roda's room, snuggled up in that giant, unseen mass of fluffiness she called bedding. She'd fallen asleep and his blue-jeans were dried, so there was really no reason to stay here other than the fact he had nothing else to do with his time. That mouse girl sure made funny sounds in her sleep, lots of chittery sounds, squeaks, and scritches as she moved. The human child thought it was just so adorable when he'd poke her whiskers and feel the 'twitchy' as they reacted, or how her teeth clacked together at random.
Was she dreaming about eating something? And if so, did I really want to know what it was? Probably not, considering how swiftly he felt a need to vacate the premise as soon as his potion wore off and smells wafted up from Roda's kitchen uninhibited. It was a difficult climb rushing through the hotel's dark, unlit tunnels trying to find the exit, but it was actually hard to get lost when you knew which direction to go despite his all too human blindness.
"Finally! The sun!" he explained, mostly to himself, as he poked his head out of the hotel for burrowers and let the light from central rain down on his bare skin. He'd forgotten his shirt somewhere near Roda's bathing area, but that article of clothing was already ruined so he didn't really morn it's loss. Besides, what was he going to do, rush back down into total darkness and try to find it? No way, all he wanted was to get out of the burrowers district and on his way to school. People who live underground, shun the light, and operate mostly by smell have very different wants and needs in a hotel than your average human, even an insomniac one.
'Well, that's not entirely true' he thought to himself as he strolled off to the north, he wasn't quite sure where he was or what direction the school was in, but he figured he'd be able to see the towers or the Cliff to re-orient himself as soon as all these drab, dingy buildings weren't blocking his view of the sky. 'I did like that bed of hers, heck, as soon as I have enough cred I have got to see about getting one myself. Oh great gods of Olsipko that was the most comfortable pretend sleep I've ever had. If I'm not going to actually pass out at night then I might as well enjoy total bliss.'
There wasn't anyone around, at least not anyone his own height or wholly visible. There were plenty of scurrying cockroaches, little fuzzy mouse things poking in and out of holes or around strewn papers and garbage, at least one tiny little worm squiggling it's way to the hotel entrance Timmy had just crawled out of. The poor thing must look at it as one really, really big worm hole. Too bad the human child wasn't an expert, or even a novice in subterranean taxonomy else he might have been able to identify the race and gender of all the people he was seeing.
He didn't manage to walk all of five feet before a rather suspicious sounding voice squeaks up from somewhere near his feet.
"Ey! What you think your doin here mister? Looking fo more of us little people to chase?"
"Um" Timmy blinked for a moment as he attempted to process that new sound, eventually turning his head towards ... nothing. "No, not really. Just trying to make it school before any of the teachers do. It's always fun when I can get them to flinch, their always so jumpy before that first cup of coffee."
"Oh really, then what you have to say about the disappearance last night?"
Timmy was trying to be polite even as he scanned for wherever the voice was coming from. "Disappearance, closest thing I ... wait yeah, I remember seeing some feline and I think a wolf walk off with someone in their paws. That direction" he pointed behind him "While this place was still under Pluto's and Rune's shade. Can't quite tell what time it is, but seeing as all three planets have passed over here that was a while ago."
"There a number oh things wrong with that sentence mister, if it was Pluto up last night then it woulda been three planets, yer forgetin it's moon. Second, if you saw a cat with a mouse why didn't you jump to save em!? Very, very suspicious here."
"The wolf might have helped him, he seemed annoyed by the cat's antics so ... but really I was just too tired from a run in with some demon. Gedel, I think."
"Owait, you te one that was in the papers? Pink jacket and all, passed out when the black hole came through?"
"There are a number of things insulting with that, but none of it wrong." his legs bent, the humans eyes went wide, he was turning his head franticly and orienting towards everything that moved, from flittering birds to papers blowing in the wind. "Now just where are you, I feel like I'm having a one-sided conversation here."
"Look down, an if you stomp on me I'm gonna bite your ankles off!" called out a feral looking, chubby little mouse as it stepped out from underneath a thoughtfully placed tin can. He walked, and subsequently stood, on two legs with his arms held up for use as hands, but his basic anatomy suggested he'd look more comfortable if he'd bend over to use all four.
"Oh, hello there. So if your worried about this guy who hasn't come back have you alerted any nearby hero's?"
"Er, well no, not really. He's just gone, there ain't notin to tell nobody. So I'm here leading the search, ain't no one barges in here and kidnaps any oh our kind!"
"In that case, I'll help you out if you walk with me as I explain. I'm sort of in a hurry here, and figure you won't be the only person I talk to if Travelers start their own investigation."
"Take baby steps and you gota deal"
"Ok, here goes." both the human and tiny rodent thing started walking "Me and my friend Roda came in from that direction last night, just out near the blacktop road, and- ..."
"Ey wait, who's tis Roda yer talkin about?"
"Roda, a female 'Maggot-mouse' as their informally referred to, she was the one in that paper holding me, and erm ... it was /her/ pink sweater I had on, not mine."
"Oh, continue then." the rodent thing had to jump over a small, soggy looking cardboard box. "So that explains why yer half naked, I did think most humans wear shirts"
"Just as we were entering the alleyway we saw some female cat and a male wolf thing walk past, the cat was squeezing some rodent as if it were a squeaky toy. He clearly wasn't a toy mind you, but he was squeaking."
"Is that supposed to be some kinda sick joke!?" the rodent eeped, his anger more than evident in both his voice and eyes. His tiny little ears were folded over, his whiskers seemed as bristled as the fur on his back, all puffed up and fuzzy.
"No, J-just a comment" the boy hastily corrected himself. "The wolf said something about 'its not cute when' er ... no, that's not it. Something about 'it's only cute if you do it to a rubber mouse, not some poor sap you conned out of a burrow' and then shortly after they had rounded the corner and we were safely away."
"Oh, and I take it you just thought your life was so much more important then ..."
"No, what I thought was that Roda, a /mouse/ by the way, was too scared to even stand up to that kind of situation, we were both tired, and we were both too small to do much if we tried. Personally? I thought we wouldn't have been the only ones around to help him in a place crawling with hero's and wannabe hero's, and that one of the several thousand in this city alone would have had the capability."
"Hmm ... guess yer excused then, pathetic rat faces are always too scared to do anything right. Now git, you hear me? I don't want you steppin on anyone." and with that the rude little mouse ... if he was a mouse and not some more exotic breed, scampered away.
"I know how to watch where I step, this alleyway is big enough for us tall people for a reason you know!" he called off, mildly annoyed, before finally reaching the sidewalk on the other side of the burrower's district.
Looking up towards the ... odd, the buildings looked fuzzy, it was kind of hard to really focus on what they looked like. Nothing around here happened to smell different though, too much like rats, urine, and dirt all around.
'I'm just tired, that's it ... yeah' he thought to himself, not really caring what the nearby buildings happened to look like. He turned his eyes to the skies, holding a hand over his forehead to block off the light from central. Maybe he'd been in the dark too long and had to get used to sunlight all over again? No, that didn't sound right. But at least he was able to spot the towers he was looking for, and if they were to the south of his current position then he needed to change direction. He had two options, run back the way he came through the burrowers district, or he could keep walking along the sidewalk until he could round the corner a few blocks down.
New scenery was the deciding factor, he'd already looked where he'd already been, he wasn't going to be late, not by a long shot, so he might as well take the scenic route. He glanced back towards the buildings that were so fuzzy before, lots of bright colors, lots of signs everywhere. A few were drab and boring, most likely homes, but the vast majority had some advertised purpose for being there. Heck, if this was a hub world most 'average homes' could quite easily double as business if you marketed to the right species.
"Hey! Watch it buddy!" a low, grating voice snapped the human's attention back to where he was walking as what looked like a naked statue with cat ears stomped past him. "You fleshy things break easy, pay attention to who might step on you" was his parting sentence.
"Sorry" Timmy apologized, the stone skinned fur (if it qualified as a furry without any actual hair) stood at about six foot, tall for an adult human and towering for the young child. But such things were common here. Looking ahead Timmy saw a dark skinned human standing on a hoverboard aimlessly float in circles around the person next to him. The dark skinned one lacked any form of hair, not even eyebrows, wore the basic blue jeans and black T-shirt combination as was the style here, and he seemed to be gloating.
"You really want to race me? In that thing? No way you can possible keep up! Where's the power source?" he asked, his voice, height, and muscular yet lanky physique indicating he was a teenager.
"I'll challenge you and I'll win! Believe it man" the voice that called back was softer, but still identifiably male. This one was on a regular, stone age skate board. No motors, no stabilizers, no gyroscopic control, it didn't even hover! But it was well build, well carved, the wheels seemed sturdy enough, and this low tech board had the advantage of working anywhere, anytime, under any basic or even default physics, while the more advanced one could be disabled completely though one of any untold billion number of ways.
"That thing is just a flat piece of wood with wheels attached! I bet it cost you less than a hundred cred! No way, uh-uh, no way you can outpace me with that stupid looking thing. I'll laugh my tail off watching you try." the black skinned human stated in evident outrage at the other's blasphemy, despite the fact Timmy couldn't see any appendage extending from that human's posterior, let alone a tail, while the other guy's was flicking back and forth.
"How much you want to bet on it then, a hundred cred sound good to you?" the one on a primitive skate board flicked his catlike ears in agitation, his eyes fallowing the hoverboard as it floated in circles around him. He had some silvery cloths on with interesting red and blue lines running through it for decoration. He had a blue tinged fur running over every part of his body, from his fingers to his ears. His face was cat-like, his tail was clearly modeled from some form of large cat. Unlike the human he had big, three toed feet touching the board instead of any useless shoes. His teeth, long, sharp and needle-like, showed every time he opened his mouth to speak.
"A hundred cred? Your on Preal, your on." was the human's determined response. He floated effortlessly around to one side of the walkway while the fur carefully and awkwardly took up his own position.
"Um, I'll just get out of your way." Timmy stated, stepping closer to the building and giving them free reign of the sidewalk.
"Yeah whatever kid" the teenager wasn't exactly polite, but I suppose that was nicer than the rodent he'd talked to.
"Just have the cash ready" was the blue, furry, feline's comment. Until ...
"Um, I don't think your going to win that one" Timmy stated as the black human rushed down the sidewalk in an effortless, swift dash, while the feline was still peddling with his feet to build up speed.
"That's what he thinks, haha ... the sucker." the blue thing pulled something out of his pocket and pressed his finger to the button. Timmy couldn't quite tell what it did, but he felt his own hair begin to stand on end and relax as the second skate boarder rushed on down and out of range.
'Wow, hard to tell who's cheating in this equation' the fourteen year old child thought to himself before turning his attention to other things. The cat, Pheal? Apparently? No-no, Preal, yeah that's what the human called him, must have been using something to disable the hoverboard. Timmy would have been curious to see who won, but there was plenty of other things to be curious about.
He ducked around a robot that squeaked by on wheeled feet. He stepped into the street to avoid bumping into a two foot tall, humanoid bunny, a seven foot tall, muscular lion, and a feral tiger that walked by on four legs. Each of them talking animatedly amongst themselves.
"Hey, did you hear about the disappearance last night?"
"I bet it was that Naga the heroes were looking for"
"No, they already found him, some hybrid stabbed him through the face with a spear."
"Eh, I doubt it, still got my money on ..."
But Timmy stopped listening as he rounded the corner, he already knew what they were talking about and didn't feel like spending the time involved with correcting anyone. It sure was amazing how fast news travels though, first the rodents who actually live there, now at least two felines? Large, predatory ones at that? I guess it says something about how peaceful things are when large cats find the disappearance of a mouse an unusual event. Man, stereotyping can be dangerous on a hub world.
What would happen if they find the girl though? It won't be long until some psychic gets her physical description and her location. If news travels this fast either or could be enough to catch her. With so many combat ready heroes around, so many travelers, even if she had the powers of an intergalactic overlord (which was unlikely) she would still be captured, interrogated, and dealt with as the majority of heroes see fit. Even if the kidnapped rodent were hidden, or eaten, all it would take is one shaman, necromancer, or Sentient Mass to call on his spirit to get the full, unbiased story. Er, scratch that thought, most murder victims were biased against their murderer, but at least he'd be able to identify his killer without fear of retaliation.
'There's the forest' Timmy thought to himself as he saw a vast expanse of green just past the edge of the city. He had about seven blocks of traveling to do, then he'd just have to take a left and cut through the woods to make it to school somewhere in the next few hours. He could even branch off to a less direct path and reach his house first, it might be helpful to come in with blank papers so he could say he thought about doing his homework. Unless he got the days wrong and this was one of the two days off he got every five days. It was always so hard to remember which was which, but if this wasn't a school day it was a relatively simple matter to just walk back. Not like he had much else to do.
He kept walking, ignoring a crowd of humans and furs that walked in a massive group for whatever reason 'your not herding animals! Stop acting like a herd!' he had to stop himself from calling out his annoyed opinions. The boy was just looking at some sign advertising spoke enlargement for Pralcins, some alien race, when he heard a terrified squeak from somewhere near his feet.
The boy stopped, glanced down awkwardly to the person he'd almost stepped on and quickly drew back. "I, oh, sorry sir or ma'am, wasn't really watching the ground" it was hard to tell the thing's gender, but a lot was evident about it.
"P-please, d-don't hurt me! I, I taste horrible." he was a micro. Human shaped, with the basic two hand and two leg bipedal form shared by the vast majority of creatures on human held worlds. He had a canine, fox-like face with pointed, upturned ears and small, vestigial whiskers. Timmy might be wrong, but they looked more like short decorations poking out of the side of his muzzle than the flexible, vital sensory organs Roda had twitching back and forwarth from her face. He had on loose fitting, brown (possibly dirt colored) long sleave shirt and pants. No shoes as per most things with padded feet, and a bushy fox tail poking out of his rump. There was something slim, metal, and mechanical looking strapped to his back, but that could have been there for any number of reasons so it was foolish to guess the purpose.
The fact he was roughly four inches tall Timmy felt was a minor note. "Um ... O- ... K ..." the boy was dumbstruck. The fox micro was on his back, crawling away as fast as possible while trying not to take his eyes off the much larger human. At least from this angle Timmy could take a guess that it was male.
"I, j-just please, let me go! Hasn't there been enough viole- ..." he was cut off when the boy raised his hands.
"I don't know what your talking about mister, but if your after an insurance claim for attempted murder you can forget it, the micro tunnels are less than a block away, and I haven't any assets you can legally seize."
"In ... insurance claim?"
"Yeah, that's what I said. Not quite sure what your after here, but if y- ..." this time it was the boy who got cut off. Exactly how this micro could yell so loud was a mystery, for if he were talking softly there's no way the boy could have heard it.
"So you mean your not going to kill me?"
"No ... I don't see any reason I should, I mean. Your not pointing a gun at me, strapped to a bomb, or trying to poison me are you?" the boy was mildly nervous about having to defend himself from someone with unknown capabilities, but his expressions were still the usual mix of bored and tired.
"S-so you want me for a slave then? Well not me! Never, get back you monster" the micro crawled onto two legs, his expression a mix of fear and seething anger.
"No, I don't really need a slave to look out for dude."
"I don't care what you call it, slave, pet ... TOY! You won't get me!" he started running at an understandably pitiful pace, pulled a tiny little string jutting out from that thing on his back ... and started panting in exhaustion at having carried it so far.
Timmy took two steps and had already overtaken the micro. "Um, not sure what your getting at dude, but if your trying to pay me to enact some fetish of yours, the correct building is down the street."
"F-fetish!" the fox was so upset and surprised he tripped all over again. This time landing on his face near Timmy's feet. "I'm not after abuse from you Frapin macros! I'm trying to avoid you!"
"Ooook ... one, I'm average, not a macro. This place isn't even set up for macros, you'll have to get to a port city if you want to see a real one. Second, if your trying to avoid me personally what's the whole deal with 'slave' or 'pet' ... or expecting me to eat you. I don't even eat the suicidal teenage flies who dare each other to dive into my drink."
"What? You ... personally? I havn't even met you" the micro climbed to his feet and started running again, what exactly he was running for remained a mystery.
"Oh, so it isn't personal at least. Then, what? You just expect everyone bigger than you to want you dead?"
"No, *huff* some-times you sick monsters do *huff* worse things to us *huff* micros." he was obviously getting out of breath. Timmy was walking rather slowly and calmly, but easily keeping pace.
"Uh-huh. I'm not sure where your from, but you do know that's illegal here right?"
The micro tumbled forward once again, scrambling to get back to his feet and look up, the confusion evident on his face was overwhelming "W-wha? Il-illegal? So ... so you mean ..."
"This is a hub world, what did you think?"
"But- ... so then."
"Spit it out, I'm walking the same direction so I don't really mind talking as you run, but I do have somewhere to be."
The micro was silent, stunned apparently. "B- ..."
"Why are you even out here? I mean, out in the open. Didn't you see the tunnels set up for you underneath? Or have they flooded or something."
"Tunnels?" he was still out of breath, but now jogging in an effort to continue the conversation.
"The entire city is set up with interconnecting tunnels for those of a dangerously low height, mostly micros and rodents, but non avian insects benefit from them too. Most businesses even have a second entrance, hallways and subsequently advertisements between their walls, and a separate set of services customized for micros. You loose a lot of business if you don't, and they can excel in certain jobs. We can't really call this a hub world if we don't make it accessible for as many people as possible. Erm, so far there's only one section of the city exclusively set up for micros, the place is just a block or two from here on the edge of the burrowers district, heh ... some alliance with tunnel-diggers or something."
"But ... but giants and micros ... we have such different needs! How could you possibly reorganize the city to allow for ..."
"Bah! That's some old history lesson I didn't pay attention to. Most hub worlds are set up for sentient bacteria, or for twelve legged elephants over twenty feet tall. It's not a whole lot of work to just set a safe pathway for short people, just a smaller version of everything you already have. It's not even that complex really."
"S-so then ... have I made it?"
"Made it to what?"
"A safe haven! I was sent here by ... er, I came, yeah I came looking for a safe place me and my family could live in. Safe from. Well, safe from ..."
"Safe from giants? Yeah, your definitely not from around here. Your not entirely safe out on the sidewalk unless you have some teleportation or ghosting tech, sure some micros can manage it but you aren't exactly fast on your feet here. If your that frightened how about I lend you a ride to the micro section of the city, it won't even be going out of my way or anything."
"Ride ... you mean carry, don't you ..." the micro's constrained bitterness was only half hidden.
"Ok, you can walk then. You seemed to have gotten this far by yourself, so it's not like your helpless" the young boy decided, starting to walk on ahead and leave this traveler behind. Odd, most travelers had one of magic, tech, skill, or raw power to aid them wherever they went, and when so many worlds were so vastly different versatility was prized above everything else. If a traveler didn't have what it took to survive, it usually wasn't long before they acquired it.
"Well, that's not exactly ... you see" the human wasn't really paying attention, so speaking timidly wasn't going to do much. The micro shouted "I need help! Alright. Please!" and once more he started running.
"O-K ... so then how did you get here if you needed 'help' to do it?" Timmy looked down on him with mild confusion. Mostly he just looked bored, as usual.
"Y-you see, it's my jet-pack."
"Oh, so that's what it is. Yeah those things are useful if you don't feel like using the stairs, and you'd be both a lot safer and a lot faster if you just used that instead of walking around like your doing."
The micro fox flinched as if he'd been struck "It's broken."
"Broken? Didn't crash into anything did you? Or get it wet?"
"No, I'm not that stupid. And it's waterproof, thank you very much."
"So then how did it break?"
"I don't know, I was just flying along, near the walls, when some wave of energy threw off my stabilizers. With the gyroscope broken, I flew down to the pavement, found a little garbage to hide under, and started to fix the thing ... only to realize the fuel cells were shot."
"Soo ... the things out of power then."
"I filled it to full this morning!" the fox shouted, practically screaming.
"Interesting. How about we talk about this as were walking, and before you pass out trying to keep up with me" Timmy bent down and slowly extended his hand towards the fox. He saw in vivid detail how the fox went from confusion, to understanding, to fear, to preparing for imminent pain with a terrified flinch, holding his arms close to his chest, and closing his eyes as the hand got closer and closer. The human had just set it down on the sidewalk next to the micro. "And before I forget to ask, what's your name?"
"My ... my name?" the micro cautiously opened his eyes and stood where he was. Staring dumbstruck at the smooth, furless hand resting in front of him. "I'm called" he paused in uncertainty "I'm called Ricksaw."
"Ricksaw. Sounds a bit odd, but I'm not one to talk. My names Timmy" he kneeled there, staring at the micro, hand painfully outstretched. 'Why wasn't he moving?' but rather than ask outright the boy ascribed it to the fact it was intimidating to stand next to someone bigger than you. He'd felt it plenty of times when even most humans were taller, so it's not like he could have the heart to tease or push someone just barely the size of his hand.
"Yeah. N-nice to meet you Timmy" the micro fox stated nervously. As awkward seconds passed it seemed as if he was waiting for something to happen. The silence continued until: "Aren't you going to ... y-you know."
"What? Step on you? Eat you? Crush you with my fingertips? I thought I already went over that." the boy was now more annoyed than bored.
"No, I mean. Grab me."
"Why would I grab you?"
"You said you were ... you said you were giving me a rid, I just thought you'd try to- ..."
"Do you like it when random people wrap their hands around you?" Timmy asked with a strait face.
"No, I hate it."
"Well then why do you expect me to just grab you?"
"W-well, I- .. I ..."
"Let me guess, your used to us 'giants' being rude and inconsiderate aren't you. Sheesh, I'd like to know exactly where you came from. I learned from my yearly dentist, the best barber in town, and a memorable experience in the local candy shop that the best way to carry short people is to hold your hand out and wait for them to climb on. Don't have to worry about breaking any ribs this way."
"W-well ... yes, yes I suppose that's thoughtful."
"So are you going to climb on, or not? I don't have all day, much as I'd like to skip school again."
The micro cautiously took a few steps, poked Timmy's finger with his own, and glanced up. "I, erm ... this is just weird."
"Yeah, yeah. You'll get used to it if you want to stick around with us tall people ... and I'm short, so I use the term loosely."
"S-sure." after a painfully long wait the tiny little fox had finally stood, tall and proud, on the boy's palm. Well, 'tall' wasn't necessarily the operative word here. The boy rolled his eyes in mild annoyance at the traveler's apprehension, for this was obviously someone from a dangerous PD and traveling to find a nicer place to live. What was troubling however, was that this micro couldn't have traveled very far. Meaning wherever it was that made this little fox so deathly afraid of larger races was nearby, perhaps as close as the next PD over. Could any world really be that abusive and still manage to avoid the scrutiny of so many heroes passing through? That was somewhat hard to believe.
"So ..." Timmy asked, after a few minutes of awkward silence as he walked with his arm outstretched. Trying to make his open palm as smooth and level as possible for the tiny micro. "I take it you've never seen the micro community before?"
"If you mean the refugee camps then- ..."
"Camps?" the child burst into laughter, stifling it as soon as he remembered how painful loud sounds can be. "I'm talking about cities here, no one is at war on a hub world. Wars never last long when the balance of power shifts every hour with every new person."
"Then. Then no, no I haven't seen any communities."
"Drat, I was hoping you'd have some idea of what to expect. You don't mind terribly if I just dump you near a receptionist or something and have another micro show you around do you?" Timmy inquired thoughtfully, though if one looked at the bored expression plastered to his face it didn't appear as if he cared at all.
"Are ... are you kidding man? This is terrifying! If I were flying at least I'd have control over how high I was. And erm, not to ... um, put too fine a point to it, but."
"Yeah, Yeah, my size is intimidating, I get it, I don't really want to spend all day watching my step you know."
"No, it's not that. Er, well ok that too, but I was trying to ... how does one say you smell without it being an insult? Just, just wondering, no particular reason I'm asking that." the micro turned his head and looked directly down the sidewalk hoping Timmy won't see the way his tiny little muzzle twitched with discomfort. What he saw were even larger 'giants' taking casual strolls.
"By either holding your breath and not mentioning it, or saying it as politely as possible. Let me guess, your sensitive nose doesn't like the sweat and bacteria filled oils oozing from tiny little pores in my skin? Or is there something sticky on my hands I should know about."
"I ... wh? ... yeah the 'oils' thing, s-sorry but humans. Humans just ..."
Timmy sighed "Your not alone there, lots of species don't like the way we smell. Including other humans for that matter, we take baths for a reason. Just so you know, while most of skin oozes tiny globs of muck my /HANDS/ don't have any pores. They should be clean enough for your needs so long as I don't get the urge to scratch while your riding."
"Y-yes sir! I'll stop complaining, and j-just be gl-glad when I can hop off." the three inch tall fox wasn't too keen on imagining just where the human might scratch. So he changed the subject. "Do ... er, I mean. You are human right?"
"Last I checked."
"Then you must be a fighter." the micro decided, carefully sitting down so he didn't have to waste so much effort keeping his balance. It seemed like a safe assumption, the massive, furless pink ape had the uncaring responses of a seasoned fighter.
"No, don't like fighting actually. Whenever one starts I usually just run away."
The micro's surprised sputtering nearly knocked him out of Timmy's hand "Wha? But, er ... so then how did you get not one, but two black eyes?" he managed to cry out, turning to his back and pointing.
"They aren't ... ok, my eyes are black, but they didn't get that way by getting punched I assure you."
"Oh" the micro furrowed his brow in confusion, but didn't press things further.
The 'ride' continued in silence as the little fox with a useless jet pack delegated himself to taking in the sights, thus giving Timmy some time to think. If micros, a small band at least, could be pressured by dangers at home to leave for a safer place yet still have the tech to build, power, and utilize a jet pack at that size, why the Fell didn't he know anything about this hub world? Shouldn't someone, somewhere, long before this point, have informed him? Unless he was just too good at avoiding detection and, possibly 'or', he just wasn't unusual enough for those who did notice him to care. He had a jet pack strapped onto his back for flight, not some simple helium balloon, or a foldable airplane to glide with, he could conceivable remain hidden for an extended period of time if only by staying near gutters and rooftops.
No wait, that can't be right, other micros have the same idea and fly around overhead all the time. Shouldn't Ricksaw have run into one of them by now? We weren't exactly on the border, sure you could see the Cliff from here, but it's not like we needed a greeter at this far inland. Unless ... unless somehow this micro didn't cross the borders, and no one or nothing stopped him because this PD doesn't bother with a filter. That could possibly explain it. The boy had just opened his mouth to ask when an ear-piercing scream blasted from the other side of the street.
"NOOO!! I Didn't kill ANYONE! I Swear!"
Timmy and Ricksaw jumped, the boy's hands cupping over their living, furry contents to make sure nothing had fallen. 'Was that voice really? No, no it couldn't be.' the short, dark eyed human thought to himself as he oriented on the somewhat distant crowd for a better look.
"Please! Please, j-just go look for him! The rat was still breathing last I saw him, honest!" the feline pleaded, her arms and legs bound in some form of goop. Webbing perhaps? If not then some form of moldable foam.
"We've been looking for him all day lady, why don't you just fess up and tell us what happened." came a rather stern voice. Timmy decided to stop walking and take in the scene.
A whole crowd of Travelers, from dragon kind in thin leather armor, if they bothered with clothing at all, to humans in various shapes, sizes, colors, decorations, weapons, armor, tech, and appendages (if it has six inch claws is it still human?) Furs and anthros, the vast majority were foxes but there were also a good number of felines and rodents. Odd, Timmy would have thought there'd be more rodents nearby ...
'Er, scratch that thought, if they were 'small' rodents they could still be here keeping watch and just be too well hidden to see.'
"What's going on?" the Ricksaw thought to ask.
"BECAUSE I DIDN'T KILL HIM!" the feline screamed to the thing that had addressed her.
Timmy started to pay more attention to who was speaking than the crowd at large. Some ... fur? Hard to tell if it was simply blue colored skin or thin blue colored fur, but something bipedal stood behind her with a full suit of some space age armor. It's always impossible to predict the weapons capabilities of those things, so unless your fighting one don't even try. A lynx, or possibly a short leopard in rather reveiling tribal ware with shamanistic weapons and glowing, pulsing jewels hanging from chains draped around her neck stood to one side and seemed to take a sympathetic look. As opposed to the hatred most everyone else seemed to show. A girl with six legs, smooth, dark skin, and an extended abdomen with a tiny red symbol under her belly right next to a wicked looking point stood close by, her thin, wispy looking fingers weaving and working with some form of goop.
"I saw that cat last night, or at least I think that's her. She kidnapped a rodent out of his home and was playing with him while her boyfriend, or at least some passing wolf, watched. I didn't stay to find out more but apparently the rodent went missing and now all these Travelers are trying to play the hero and correct the problem. One way or another." after a moment of reflection he thought to himself 'Yeah, definitely spider webbing. And if that shaman has soul summoning magic discovering what happened to the poor guy should be easy. Er, unless those jewels hold raw energy rather than trapped spirits.'
"A mouse. Went missing. That's it?"
"What do you mean 'that's it' kidnapping and attempted murder serious crimes!" The boy almost shouted. If he hadn't been so tired he probably would have shouted. Not that he needed to shout for someone smaller than his hand to catch the outrage in his voice.
"I n-no it's not that! Honest! I j-just thought ..."
Timmy started walking again, giving the occasional glance to the open interrogation going on. "You just thought no one would care, is that it?"
"Rodent population was never a high priority where I came from" the fox fur admitted.
"Where is that exactly? It has to be close by."
"I ... don't ... know. Um ... that ... direction?" he answered in a slow, calculating, but somehow dumbstruck voice. The vulpine's tiny little paw pointing to the drop off half a planet's diameter away. It was too far away to see of course, but it was the direction opposite the cliff face so that logically meant it was the drop off. Any other direction would be the borders, Planitary diameters on the same band.
"That direction, that's it? You don't know the name or something?"
"I don't know the name of this place. Do places even have names? I thought those were just for people, things and buildings, not places."
"Uh ..." Timmy thought that was an odd question.
"Does this place have a name? If so do you know what it is, I think I'd like to know for next time someone asks."
"You know, I never really thought about it ... I know what the place is, I know it's only one PD out the several thousand that surround central and make up the Skylar system. But I don't think individual towns, cities and PDs actually have names. Or if they did, I never bothered to pay attention to them."
"Information is vital you know, ignorance keeps people weak and helpless."
"Don't talk like you're my teacher alright, teachers don't get rides from their students." the boy glared. With his eyes, the effect was more than a little startling.
"Sh-shutting up! Shutting up right n-now, s-sir" the tiny fox fell into a fetal position on Timmy's hand, his knees pressed up against his chest, his hands covering his face in terror, his entire body was trembling. Worst of all ... there was a wet spot on his pants, just between his legs, that soaked through to the human's naked skin.
"Oh Jeeze! Dude I'm not going to hurt you, chill out" Timmy urged as the crowds behind him grew more distant. There was a feminine scream, a brief but noticeable flash of light, and then a whooshing sound sort of like wings flapping. He could probably have been interested in what was happening over there, he should have been interested, heck he should have been curious to see if the cat was still alive. But curiosity kills humans just as readily as it does cats, and it's hard to be intellectually active when you sleep less than an hour in three weeks. Timmy didn't look back.
"P-please I'm ..."
"Hey, chill out, they may look scary but I'm a hundred percent ... er, wait your scared of humans too aren't you. Drat, I know how to handle it when someone mistakes me for a zombie, or a wraith, but I've never met anyone genuinely scared of humans that didn't have a plasma cannon on hand."
The tiny fox poked it's muzzle out from behind his paws, his ears were folded back in a mix of fear, displeasure, and discomfort at the rather embarrassing situation bellow him. "I ... er, I ..."
Seeing that just talking was getting anywhere, the boy stretched his other hand across and extended a single index finger. 'Where do fox's like being petted ... I can't reach the belly, I don't want to force anything, that jet pack of his means I can't massage his back. Will between the ears work?' and with a slow, careful movement of his wrist, the boy scratched with his dull, flat nails.
The fox flinched at first, his body curled up tighter as if fearing the end. Up until the point it started feeling good that is ... the micro's body relaxed, eased up to allow the human a better view of his face and chest. It was easy to see by his heavy breathing and twitching muscles that the fox was terrified but trying. 'Does he feel like he has to appease me to survive? Does he think I'm forcing him to pretend he's happy? Or is this idiotic scratching ploy actually working ... if he were a human a hug would work better than petting him, but then a hug would probably be scarier than anything else I could do. Loving embrace? HA! If I were hugged by a fork lift I'm pretty sure I'd complain. Then again, furs are just humans with non-human characteristics slapped on, furs by definition have the same mentality and basic capabilities as humans. I should be thinking of him as a human and not a fox. Right?'
"S-sorry about ... about your hand" the fox muttered.
'Unless he's not a fur, if he's an anthro, an animal given a touch humanoid characteristics, then I should be treating him like a ... a ... well no, not a fox actually, if I treated him like a fox I'd have to rub my face into his for nuzzling. I'd need to sniff him and let him sniff me, which isn't something non-humans like doing to us. Not to mention, if he's an anthro and I put him close enough to my nose for me to smell, it'd be worse than any of the mold covered, puss filled things Roda eats. I've smelled fox anthros before, their almost as bad as skunks.'
"Um ... don't. Worry about it. I guess" I tried to think of ways to calm him down as my finger retreated. The boy would have to clean that hand of course, and he really wasn't keen on smelling it beforehand.
"Do you, er, I don't m-mean to intrude but ... why are your ..."
"Why is the skin around my eyes black? Just born like it. Some sort of mutation is the short story, and no they don't give me superpowers so don't ask what they do." he answered. 'Came on too harsh that time Timmy, ease up a little' he reminded himself.
"Oh, s-so ..." the fox's face started to grow a pink tint beneath his thin fur. "C-can you ..."
"Want to move to my other hand?" The boy inquired. "Sure thing, hop across." he stopped walking so it would be a stable platform, held his free hand up to the occupied one, and waited until the tiny fuzz covered micro crossed before moving again. As soon as the fox wasn't looking, Timmy's face twisted in sheer disgust, his hand franticly wiping up and down across his pant legs in a frenzied effort to clean the stain off before his palms began to smell like fox.
"Thank you. I really shouldn't ... I mean ..." the fox started to speak, turning his head just in time to see Timmy put on a fake smile that said 'everything's perfect' and change the subject.
"You really should finish a sentence. I'm not going to bite your head off here."
"So you keep telling me"
"Well, what's it going to take to prove it to you? Share back-stories?"
"What's a ... what's a back-story?"
"It's the story of your life, little important things about who you are and where you come from. Silly tales that you think would be entertaining, or the serious and important turning points in your life. The things that shape your psyche, or simply a minor fact that others could benefit from your pointing it out."
"That sounds. Um, to be honest, that just sounds cliché to me" the fox replied. He still looked nervous as Fell, but at least he didn't stutter much.
"How about you start then, any family?"
"Yes ..." he started again, his fists clenched in anger, his head dipped lower.
"Um, sh-should ..." Timmy stuttered this time.
"Their all dead. All of them. Every one I've ever cared about is ..." he broke off into tears instead of fear this time.
'Bad call dude, bad call' the human thought as he realized just how badly he handled that. "I'm. I'm sorry. There's not much else I can say to that."
"It's not your fault. Not really. But I ... I ..."
"How about you ask me the questions, anything your curious about?"
"Well, yeah actually"
"Shoot. I'm game." the boy tried to be upbeat and cheerful, he was putting on a show to be as distracting and childish as possible. Not his usual demeanor, but it wouldn't do anyone any good if his mood and a few ill placed words brought the fox micro into a deep depression.
"You said you had experience with a micro before, a erm ... you said 'memorable' experience with a candy shop owner. Just what was so memorable about it?"
This time Timmy almost choked on his own words. "*Cough!* Erm, you don't want to hear that one, it's uh ... boring. Yeah, really, really boring." the humans eyes looked the other way, his large beating heart pounded audibly to the small fox eared biped.
"I'm really curious about what you said though, do ... can micros really own stores here? I mean, in this city?"
"This is a hub world, micros can own stores, businesses, cities themselves, anywhere across the entire PD. Bacteria can even own stores! Not sure what things were like back home but you aren't even close to being the minority around here."
"Wow. Simply ... simply amazing." he paused to reflect on that before pressing the candy shop issue. "So just what did happen?"
Timmy sighed "Might as well get it over with. First of all I was five when it happened. I'd seen micro's before but it my first time in a room with so much bright, colorful candy. I saw something pink and frilly, I heard someone say I could try a free sample for being, as he called me, 'small and cute' and so naturally I grabbed the nearest thing that looked like candy and gulped it down."
The fox paused for a moment, thinking carefully "That doesn't sound memorable. Was it really good candy or s-something?"
Timmy just looked downcast. "No, not really. It tasted like a stuffed animal drenched in sweat."
"Why ... why would" the fox puzzled over that before the human clarified.
"The owner was the closest thing to me that resembled candy. Stupid pink fur ... that was both the first, and hopefully last time I felt something moving around as it went down my throat."
The fox eeeped in fear, if not for the fact Timmy's hands were so high up he probably would have jumped down. "You a-ate, you ... I er ..." but the human just waited for his frightened squealing to subside and curiosity to win over. "Was h-he ... alright?"
"It wasn't a very nice day for him, but he lived. He had even had it better off than I did if you ask me"
"Two words. Stomach pump." the human shuddered "I remember that incident as a childhood lesson, always ask before you grab and pay attention to where things are."
"Especially if you know micros are around. When there is any significant size or chemistry difference being inconsiderate can turn out lethal."
"That's ... I'd say that's wise of you to point out."
Timmy laughed "Hey, there are dragons and war machines living here, I want that particular piece of wisdom to spread."
The fox smiled slightly "Things bigger than you?"
"Most humans are bigger than me, so yes. Lots and lots of things around here are big." they both paused for a moment.
The fox was curious about something "What do you mean by a difference in chemistry?"
"Things made of lava, slime monsters, crystalline or monacola ... monos ... Frap, can't pronounce that word."
"A serious difference in chemistry is hard to quantify on paper but very easy to identify if you see your hair melting off."
The fox shivered, and promptly changed the subject. "Is that candy store you um ... is it still open?"
"Yep. It's actually not far from where I'm taking you, after a change of pants I'm sure you could check it out."
The fox blushed in response and nodded. "How far are we?"
"About five minutes away at this speed. I don't feel like running if your getting impatient."
"N-no-no!" the micro stated. "Th-this is faster than walking, I h-have no complaints."
Timmy winked down to the little guy "Save maybe your pants?" to which the fox just looked embarrassed. "Don't feel too bad about that, lot's of people pee their pants after looking at my face. My face is just memorable that way."
The fox looked down for a few moments in contemplation, but snickered as soon as the comment sunk in. "That. That would be funny to see."
The ride, as it were, continued in mild silence. It wasn't going to last much longer but there was plenty of time to get some thinking done. First thought was an unpleasant one, no matter how funny it may be to close his eyes and scare the socks off his teachers, random strangers peeing on his hand like Ricksaw did would not be amusing. Yuck. That hand already needed to be washed when he got home, the more he thought about it the more noticeable that musk smell was.
The second thought to course through Timmy's sleep deprived mind was what the micro would have done if he hadn't come along. If the jetpack weren't fried he probably would have been fine, but someone a mere four inches tall walking the sidewalks? Someone completely ignorant of the tunnels? Heh, he'd either be ignored as just another random stranger, stepped on accidentally, or picked up and aided by someone with Timmy's mindset. True, you have to be aware there's a problem before you can think to offer assistance, and if Rick was too scared to say 'hello, can you help me' then it might have been a while before someone else came along.
But then what if Timmy hadn't been paying attention? What if he'd crushed the poor vulpine and continued on his way without a care in the world? Distressing thought ... coming home to pick fuzzy body parts off the bottom of his shoe.
"My shoe ..." Timmy said aloud, his surprise quite evident. Looking down to his feet, those same load bearing appendages Ricksaw had to dodge not too long ago, the boy could see he was barefoot.
"What?" the fox inquired, looking confused and worried.
Timmy thought franticly 'I don't have shoes on, why don't I have shoes on? I don't remember taking them off. Has it happened again?' he looked to the fox in his hand and remembered something. "H-hey, quick question and answer as best you can. Was I ... um, was I wearing shoes when I almost stepped on you?"
The fox thought about for a faction of a second. "Nope. Most people don't, but I heard it's unusual to see a barefooted human. Did ..." he paused "Did something happen to yours?"
"That's what I'm trying to figure out." and so the child ran things over in his mind's eye. 'I know I had shoes on when I was in school, I didn't take them off on my way to Harry's. I certainly didn't take anything off in the pizza place, if they smelled too funky Roda might thought they were appetizing. Did anything take my shoes off while I was passed out? No, no that couldn't be. If so I would have noticed my feet were freezing during that snake incident. After that was ... the bath. People don't take shoes in the bath. But then people also take their cloths off when taking a bath, and I know I didn't because I had to wait for my pants to dry. Didn't I leave my shoes on? I don't remember taking them off, and if I'd done it I'm certain I should remember doing it!'
"Tim?" the fox asked after too long had passed without a response.
"Oh its, um. It's nothing, sorry I asked." a glance to the scared little fox and Timmy had to suppress a shiver as he realized crushing the fur's bones would have left a stain on his heal, or his toes, rather than removable shoes. There's a thought to make anyone cringe.
"Are you sure? It sounds like ... well it sounds like whatever's wrong is eating you up."
The human turned to glare, just enough to make him drop the subject, before the realization of where they were distracted his efforts to look annoyed. "Nevermind, I'll handle it myself. This is your stop dude" Timmy pointed. The fox stood up to look.
The fox then proceeded to sit back down in awe. "This ... this is ..."
A city in miniature, that's what it looked like. Some sort of lego-land adventure with perfect replicas rather than cheap plastics, and everything was moving. An entire alleyway had been converted into a haven for the really small, fenced off from both ends, and completely urbanized. The surrounding buildings were just three stories high, but modified into multi-roomed skyscrapers with interconnecting tunnels, tubes, archways and bridges. You could see an open platform at about chest height to an adult human, which went well over Timmy's head.
There were holes, doors they looked like, at logical intersections between walls. There were all sorts of signs in flashing neon or simple colors that were too small for Timmy to make out, some of which were at the floor level but the majority were high above even Timmy's reach. Everything was bright, shiny, colorful. And there were people ... they all looked so cute! Tiny, doll sized people with matching tools and houses, and establishments. The human's every effort was put into halting that instinct to 'Coo' and coddle random passerby's for their adorableness too closely resembling that of a baby's.
There were people everywhere ... In every shape, color, or fur pattern imaginable. There was a distraught looking bunny on a high sky rise sweeping microscopic levels of dust over the edge to fall down into the 'distant' street bellow. His pencil thin ears twitching in the light breeze. There were vulpine and wolven micros in assorted clothing forming crowds, fallowing the tides, or pushing their way through to whatever the intended destination was. A blue furred micro with a big, frilly lions mane around his neck, ankles and hands was minding a simple flower shop at ground level. One guy stood out as a rat, somewhere around nine inches in height, towering over the other micros and leaping from one platform to the next like a superhero. Or a free-runner.
"So what do you think?" the human asked the little one in his hands while stretching out to place the fox onto a raised platform poking out of the wall. A simple, brightly colored ramp connecting it to higher and lower levels while allowing some micros at ground level to walk up the side of the building. Silently, the human considered the rat he saw shooting through the crowds in leaps and bounds, clearly hurrying towards somewhere 'that guy looks like he could handle dodging footsteps. Rats are usually tough.'
"I think I feel like the whole world just shrunk" he answered, stepping eagerly off the child's palm and walking along the edge of the platform to get a better look at the city. It was certainly fuller, put to more use, than the burrowers district. The reason it's micro exclusive was rather obvious, you couldn't take two steps without crushing a building or snapping the crisscrossing roadways.
"Why would ... oh never mind." Timmy peered into an exposed, square shaped hole in the wall. Whether it was keeping the door wide open or just didn't have a door was difficult to make out. "Is there anyone here who can escort my friend to a receptionist's office? I can't read the ... oh! Hello there."
A feline stepped out from somewhere hidden and made his way across the flat, multi-colored platform towards Timmy. It's clothing was simple and drab compared to his bright and frilly surroundings, but it matched perfectly with the brown fur and elegant white spots around it's eyes and paws. It was roughly four or five inches in height, just taller than Ricksaw, had the same ornamental, stiff, and essentially decorative whiskers across it's face, and it's ears were folded back in displeasure at something. Timmy perhaps? No, the tail's movement was slow and soft, not rapid or twitchy, it might still be angry and just not showing it but those ears were folded for another reason.
"Greetings to you too, sir. Just what is it you require my assistance for?" his voice was course and rough, his efforts to talk were strained and forced.
'A representative with trouble talking? That's ... odd.' the boy thought to himself before stating. "My friend over there is in trouble, he doesn't know anything about this PD, is used to random strangers attacking because they can, doesn't know what the tunnels are or how to find the designated micro pathways, and is in serious need of a power center so he can refuel his flight assist. I'd consider showing him around, but I don't fit in most of the places he needs to go."
The feline micro's knees started to give way, his hands shot up to his head and swiftly covered his ears, it seemed he was focusing every fiber of his being just to standing up. "Thank you ... s-sir, I can h-handle it from h-here."
'Too loud Timmy, tone the voice down' the human reminded himself. Mystery of the displeased cat ears: solved. Odd that Ricksaw seemed perfectly fine. "You can show him to a- ..."
"Please stop talking so loud sir, I'll answer the question so long as you don't ask it and let the decent sized person speak for himself. I am the receptionist you wanted to see, my job is to greet and inform micros as they enter the city. Why do you think I'm right here at the entrance? Interesting though, someone who doesn't know about the entire PD will be a special case, but I'll consider this a personal challenge."
Timmy opened his mouth to talk, but cut himself off before he could get snapped at. Looking over to Ricksaw expectantly all he could do was wait for the little fox micro to speak with the other little micro. Nothing happened, so the feline piped in.
"Sir? Ricksaw was it? Do you have any questions? Anywhere you'd like me to start?"
The fox thought it over, mostly dumbstruck by how things were going. When he finally answered after an agonizing two seconds it was "Where can I buy some new pants?" and that sent the cat screaming, claw tipped hands draped across it's ears to block out the sound.
"Not you too! Indoor voice, pl *cough* please!"
"Maybe you should consider some earmuffs." Timmy offered in a hushed tone. Odd, he could hear Ricksaw just fine, not too loud and not too ... oh, Ricksaw was loud enough to sound normal to someone human sized, so the micro fox was just as loud as Timmy was. Did that mean this feline receptionist was shouting to make himself heard?
"S-sorry, I'll ... Gah!" the fox had to duck as a fly the size of his head wizzed past.
'excuse me! Commin throu, I'm late for a very impotan date!' the thing buzzed out. Timmy thought it's voice was just so cute. That right there is why humans had pets, it's human nature to protect and coddle small helpless things because human children are small and helpless for so many years before adulthood. It would be a hard to cuddle a fly, but Timmy couldn't prevent himself from going:
'Awwww' as quietly as possible, just like when he first saw Roda.
"Perhaps I should go inside and see about rigging up some earmuffs. Duct tape fixes everything, it should work here too. You two 'Sirs' go back to screaming your heads off, I'll be inside." and with that the cat micro walked across the platform and into the nearby doorway. There were other micros coming and going, but the major crowds were underground or in the tubes, not on an open and exposed section of the wall.
"I erm, before we leave ... I just want to ..." the fox still had such trouble finishing a sentence.
"Change to some dry pants, I know. See you later dude, have fun, and don't jump into the cotton candy machine no matter how many times someone dares you. That's how little kids are scared into eating healthy."
The fox looked at Timmy as if the human had just said something profound and insane at the same time, but shook it off and continued in stride "It's not the pants, I just ... wanted to apologize."
"For what? You've had it worse than me here."
"I'm sorry for ... erm, well ... I shouldn't have called you a monster. I'm really sorry for that and hope you can forgive me." the fox looked so pleading, so earnest, in such desperate need of acceptance. Timmy didn't help matters by bursting into uncontrollable laughter.
"HAHAhahaha! No Hahahaha, no worries! I've had people mistake me for a 'monster' at least once a week for as long as I can remember. Not that anyone can agree on what a monster is ... I'm used to it, and people always apologize for that rather honest mistake."
"Er ... wow, but still ... I" this time the fox was interrupted by something loud and blunt.
"YO TAXI!" that distracted both occupants from their long goodbye. It was a micro fox, this one with a bright, green, unnatural looking fur that clashed so blatantly with his tacky orange cloths you'd never suspect this thing was Earth-spawn. It's bushy tail was short, shorter than Ricksaw's, but it's ears were larger and he looked taller as an effect.
"Taxi? I'm not a ..."
"Did you just take a micro from one spot to another?" the green furred micro called out in an insulted, accusing voice.
"Well yes, I did but ..."
"Then all you gots to do is take another customer. South wing, by the half-protein district, and make it snappy here I ain't got all day." the micro called out, seeming satisfied with something.
"I don't think you understand du- ..."
"Yer hand's ain't held out, what do you expect me to walk all the way up to your shoulders? You'd better up your service if you want a good review in customer satisfaction. And I don take lip from no ugly beast of burden so quit yer complainin."
Timmy's eyes narrowed in annoyance, the pitch black coloring around his face doing it's best to add a certain flair to his expressions. Normally people react to the way his face looks in stages, depending on how long they've known him. People he's seen for the first time generally run away screaming, people who've known him long enough to tell he's not some soul stealing demon or angry magic user generally shudder or quiver in fear, people who've known him for an hour or more will at the very least flinch. And people who've known him for several weeks laugh when they see someone else go through that cycle.
This green furred micro wasn't a part of this normal pattern.
"Don't give me that look, I'm a respected customer, I write up bad reviews for less than half of yer mistakes mister. Your going to have to do a lot of catching up if you want to get back on my good side." the air of condescendence, the arrogance and assurance of his own superiority. It would be very easy to see this micro as an insufferable twerp who's on contribution to society is the joy he brings to whoever kills him first. Not the best of first impressions. Timmy was sure there was more to this guy, but that first impression counts for a lot.
"Ugh, I'm done talking here. Have a good time Ricksaw, I'll try to watch out for you if you ever head into the woods." the boy started to walk off thinking of the vast difference between those two. One fox was shy, fearful, and polite ... well, except for when he thought I was going to kill him. The other fox was rude, unyielding, and very abrasive. 'I wonder if they'd get along at all?' but such thoughts were distracted by someone bound and determined to express their validity.
"HEY! I'm still here! What sorta idiot taxi leaves without the customer!" the green micro fox was shouting and waving. "Frap it! Get back here you puss faced sack of dog shit, I'm a respected customer and you have to respect me! I said get back here! Get. Back. Here!" Even Ricksaw was covering his ears at such an outburst.
"I tried to tell you I'm not a taxi, carrying him was just something I felt like doing to help a guy out." the human explained as politely as he could with clenched fists and grinding teeth. The boy kept his head turned away, not looking towards the object of his frustration.
"Well then keep it up stupid, can't you tell by the way I shout that I'm an important micro around here? As an otherwise worthless sack of water it's your civic duty to serve your betters through whatever methods they deem fit. I don't care if y- ... Omph!" there was a dull thud sound mixed with bones cracking, fallowed a short time later by something soft and light falling on the smooth platform. Timmy turned around to see Ricksaw standing over the fallen green micro, fists and jaw clenched tightly in half restrained anger. There was a little bit of red blood mixed in with the black fur on his paws.
"Don't you ever talk about my friend like that." he stated matter of fact. "This man, this human, just went out of his way to help, carry, comfort and inform a complete stranger when could have just kept walking. This is the first giant I've ever met that doesn't think stuffing me in a sock is the next best thing to eating me. I cannot ... I will not allow you to make the boy suffer for those actions." Ricksaw looked intense for the first time sense Timmy had met him. His breathing was short and rapid, his eyes were diolated, and it was clear to all that he was mentally prepared to throw another punch.
The green fox started to get up, glaring just as intently with a seething rage to match Ricksaw's "Why you ..."
"Is. That. Clear." Ricksaw slipped off his jetpack and held one end up like a fat club, or a heavy stone. It couldn't be used to fly without a power source but there are a surprising number of machines that can be adapted for use as a hammer. This smooth slab of metal was no exception.
"Hey, if you two are going to fight then make an appointment with the arena gaurds. While I actually do have all day to spend here, I'd like to get you shouters dealt with and on your way as soon as possible. My poor ears can't take much more of this." before any other blows could be dealt the micro cat from before poked his head out of the wall and motioned for Ricksaw to come over.
"Wh- ... HEY! But what about my taxi ride! You can't expect me to walk, it's all the way across the street!" the green one shouted while scrambling to his feet.
"I expect you can manage, sir ..." was the reply, before all three started to walk off. Ricksaw and the feline into their hole in the wall, and Timmy off down the street towards his home in the woods.
"I'm the tiny one here, all you smelly giants should be ..."
"I'm walking away now" Timmy called off to interrupt him. A smile on the boy's face when he was finally out of earshot. From there on the walk was quiet and uneventful. The usual crowds of people of various races, species, or chemical makeup crisscrossed the roads and walkways, those of a slow pace and roughly human size staying on the sidewalk, the larger, faster, or simply dangerous looking creatures took the black colored roads between buildings. There were a few humans in fat, round hunks of metal on wheels called 'cars' but those were few and in between.
Timmy waved to a feral looking tiger as it sauntered by on four legs, thin leather straps covered certain private areas so that it's gender was hard to discern. But it waved back just as politely. The human was stopped by a bee in a tiny black top hat, asking if he'd seen a fly somewhere nearby, so Timmy pointed it towards the micro exclusive area he'd sent Ricksaw. Timmy had to dodge around a short, fat, round little robot with a silvery shell as it scooted by on wheels too small to be useful. A seven foot tall leopard-like creature with a yellow and white fur pattern dotted with a mix of spots and strikes seemed rather intimidating when snakelike tentacles covered in the Same fur pattern spiraled out from it's hands. It was just the same usual, boring crowd that everyone on a hub world dealt with. And the farther one went from the main city the less human everything looked.
"Are you sure about this, the ground is a long way down" came a voice from high atop a nearby building that made the human look up. There was a six legged, brown furred creature with a Taur body structure as opposed to the bipedal one standing next to his two legged, winged companion with yellow fur. The taur had four legs for that solid stance of a feral animal with a humanoid upper body sticking out where the animals head would normally be, much like a centaur. It's two spindly arms were busy pointing to the nearby ground, and it's feline, square, angular face showed a mix between excitement, mild nervousness, and the sheer suppressed terror that a bungee jumper working up the nerve to do something stupid can describe.
"Of course man, and if anything happens on the way down I'll be right here holding you the entire time." the other occupant standing atop the two story building looked feline enough, he had a cat-like, pink, triangular nose. He had these huge cat eyes that made him look intensely fascinated with whatever he was looking at. But his ears ... the ears were big, strait, and rounded at the tip. The ears looked like they'd go better on a bunny or a rabbit than whatever he was. Just behind the thing's shoulder blades were a set of gorgeous, yellow furred bat wings that were at least as long as he was tall. He unfolded them smoothly and elegantly, taking his green furred friend over to the very edge of the building with a single step.
"Oh yeah, you've got those things. I sh-should be pretty safe jumping if one of us has wings." the thing stuttered, seeming to work up some courage.
"These? Oh. I sort of forgot about them. But your right of course, this would be even cooler if I knew how to fly." the yellow one responded with a bright, cheery smile that would have given any rational person shivers in such a context.
Timmy felt it wise to hurry out of the way lest they jump while he was still under the same building. 'Gah! I hate teenage daredevils. Actually I hate all daredevils no matter what age or species. Somehow they all manage to inconvenience me no matter what I happen to be doing. Worst case scenario these guys jump and I end up looking the micro who believed he was invulnerable to feet, mid case scenario I spend the whole day dragging their sorry carcasses to a resurrection or medical clinic, depending on if I can tell what their vitals are. And best case scenario I'm stuck washing cat blood and fur out of my hair. No matter how this goes, if I'm still around when they hit the pavement it's me who suffers.' he was running, and he didn't bother looking back.
He dodged around a six foot tall human, said excuse me, then took off running again when he saw that whatever the person was his species didn't have a face. Just smooth ... eerily smooth skin where the face should have been. A robot closely resembling a millipede almost stepped on Timmy's toes as it rounded the corner, but the thing apologized and both moved on without wasting time.
'Man, I need to buy some new shoes. And I don't even remember how I lost my old pair.' he thought quietly, slowing down to a simple walk and just avoiding the other people with unthinking reaction time. Now was the time to think and process certain questions. 'I wonder why Ricksaw could be brought to punch another micro. For my sake even! Did I really give him that good an impression of me? No, it couldn't be that, he was terrified most of the time, I'm not known for my charming smile, and while helpful I didn't exactly know him that long. Or, for that matter, sacrifice much to help him. I'm pretty sure we could be friends, but a single conversation isn't enough to influence someone like that.'
The boy continued his private thoughts uninterrupted. 'What if it was something the green idiot said? Not about me per say, or about any of those insults, but something that insulted Ricksaw just enough to make him angry? It was anger that made the little guy attack, not some protective instinct. Right? Ok, I can be pretty sure standing up for me would be a great excuse, but he could just as easily have stood up for me with words. Ricksaw didn't look like the type to resort to violence as a first option in the brief time I talked with him.' the human paused to consider. 'What did the green micro say anyway? What could he have said that was so insulting? Ok, calling me "dog shit" supposedly counts but I wouldn't think that was enough.'
The boy turned to look at a completely empty spot between two buildings, just dirt that was smoothed over. Blinking, he saw there was some wear and tear on the nearby walls, and that all of the dirt seemed to spiral into the same direction. This is where the pizza place was! Same building that got hit by a black hole after that stupid demon fight.
'Frap. I could have had a much nicer evening if it weren't for all that violence. And now yet another unbiased restaurant is completely out of business.'
Timmy looked around at the sound of a distant explosion but couldn't see anything. There were lots of people nearby trying to figure it out as well, until it happened again.
"Bah, just another giant walking around. Stupid dragons, I wish Central would just set a teleportation ring at the borders so they wouldn't have to walk all the way through." one man said.
"You are aware that not all dragons are giant, right?" asked something with black scales up and down it's skin, horns on it's protruding nose and the back of it's head, and short, vestigial wings poking out from a tacky white shirt with the words 'I'm with nucleoli' stitched into the back. "What even makes you think it's a dragon? Could be a giant fox, or a leopard, or a human even."
But Timmy soon passed out of their earshot and could no longer see the destroyed pizza place. He knew what happened to the restaurant, but those explosions? If two idiot building jumpers had anything to do with it then Timmy would have been glad for having gotten away. Except, he couldn't tell if they were in the right direction to have made the sounds. He couldn't even tell what direction the sounds came from, only that they were distant ... far too distant to have been anywhere in the city.
'Oh well, another time I'll consider it. Back to my original puzzle ... just what could make Ricksaw angry? Well, he's a micro and he's been abused by people tall enough to be measured in feet before, so it stands to reason that he'd get angry if someone laughed about hurting micros. If I extend on that logic it's possible that he'd get angry if someone were amused by hurting anything smaller than themselves. But that still doesn't seem to fit in with his expression or actions. Ok, back it up Timmy and think it through. What was the last thing the green little moron said before Rick decked him?'
The human child tried to think. 'Ok, the last insult was "As an otherwise worthless sack of water" but that isn't bad as far as insults go. Immediately after that was "it's your civic duty to serve your betters through whatever methods they deem fit" and then he started into some other statement.' Timmy paused ... then giggled. 'Seriousness aside, I think I just realized how much the little green guy looked like a booger.'
"HEY! What are you giggling about twerp!" a gruff, angry sounding voice called from somewhere in front of the boy. Looking up, Timmy saw a bear ... twelve feet tall. Had thick, matted fur on top of rippling muscles. Was completely nude. And worst of all smelled like beer. He wasn't a very pleasant encounter on the crowded sidewalk, and if irritated, looked like he could swallow a child whole.
Timmy gulped with nervousness but answered honestly. "Boogers, sir. I was giggling about boogers."
The bear tilted his head in confusion, switched immediately to frustration, and then sauntered off on two legs while grumbling something about idiot kid peoples. Timmy took that as a sign life was giving him sugar instead of lemons and proceeded to walk home.
'That guy ... that bear thing brings to mind the words "to serve your betters" ... just how do you define who your "betters" are? I know that most creatures, in the whole of central, think using a human mindset, and every single one of them can be utterly unique because humans have no mental constraints, no anchors, no thought process or belief that is common among all humans. Even if it's a race that despises humans, they often do it for reasons that a human could come up with. I know for a fact that Ricksaw came from a place where people of average size use, abuse, consume, or torture people small enough to step on.'
The boy felt he was getting somewhere with all this summarizing. 'No one is willing to fight for what they believe is wrong, or at least most aren't. So to do something "wrong" ethically, the human thought process generally works to convince one that such an act is correct through whatever bit of logic they can muster. One easy bit of logic is the classic: "I'm stronger than you, and the strong are allowed to control the weak" that leads to so many feudal government systems. So what if it was used on micros where Ricksaw lived? Did people there say that average size was somehow "better" than micro sized and played out a sense of entitlement related to that?'
Now Timmy was sure of the answer. 'If that's true, then when the green booger fox used that same line on me, that being micro somehow made him superior, Ricksaw would have seen him in the same light as all the monsters who attacked and abused him. Or ... people he knew.' this time Timmy shuddered 'Or Ricksaw's family. There's a picture I don't want to see. I don't even want to think about seeing it. An entire family, slaughtered? Or no, the guy said all of his friends, everyone he knew. Now I think I get it, I know exactly why the tiny little fox felt like punching a booger. The people he wants to enact revenge on are out of reach, and exempt from his little attacks. The green micro jerk reminded him of them.'
As he reached the edge of the city and a paved sidewalk turned to a smooth dirt road, plants and trees starting to replace buildings and signs, and people to dodge grew increasingly scarce ... Timmy couldn't help but feel that solving this little riddle couldn't possibly make him feel better. Sad back-stories rarely do lead to feel-good moments.
"First thing I'm getting when I get home is a shirt. Next it's shoes ... and I don't care if I have to tie a block of wood to my feet with string, I am getting shoes." the boy said aloud to the empty, quiet forest. There were no flies buzzing, or crawling insects scuttling through the leaves. No birds were chirping, and no small mammals were scurrying. The place was eerily quiet for the longest time.
'I wish I'd left some material to think about ... I seem to have wasted my entire thought process on the walk through the city. Now I need something new. I've got it, what could have made that Booming noise? No, I need more data than the fact something went "boom" ... let's see, the mystery of the disappearing shoes? Nope, that won't do. I'd need to explain all these awkward feelings of Dejavu I keep getting. I could try to map out what I'm going to tell Harry when I see him, I know for a fact that guy's going to want everything on what happened while I was out.'
The dark eyed human left the dirt road to start dodging around trees. Still very deep in thought 'No, he'd just read my mind. It's too simple an explanation. What about when I next see Roda? That's supposed to be today isn't it? I think I remember something about her coming to my school. Should I show her all the best places to hide when the teachers are looking for me? Hmm ... I could probably show her the cardboard casserole they serve at lunch time, if she likes eating rotting body parts that burst into a slimy mass of puss when you touch them I'm pretty sure she'd enjoy the cafeteria meals.'
He paused, feeling unnerved by the silence. 'I could try to decide how I feel about Roda. I've only known her for a day and yet I feel more attached to her than I do to people I've known for years. Is she just that good of a friend? Is she even a friend? Hmm ... well, we did fight monsters together. Twice. And she did sort of save my life, I think. But, bah! She's a traveler, what if she just moves on? What if she wants me to travel with her? Worse, what if last night was the last time I ever see her? Ok, that's it. No more thinking about Roda, it's too depressing.'
Not stopping his walk, the boy looked to the skies until he could spy the next planet to swing around. It wasn't Pluto, or rune, those would take another year to get here. The next one should be Astosi ... why people bother to name them was a mystery, but the planets look so pretty it's easy to remember them. 'Wait a minute, thinking of Roda is only depressing because I keep thinking of the worst case scenario. What about the best case? Why for example, why on earth even ... do I feel so threatened by the thought of never seeing her again? I've never really cared if anyone I've met goes off onto another PD and disappears from my life forever. Should Roda really be any different from any other traveler?'
This time it was smoke that made him stop ... he had neared his home, but smelled smoke.
He paniced. 'Oh man, did I leave the stove on again? I thought I had that thing unplugged, how can it catch things on fire it's there's no power running to - ... oh ... oh no.' Timmy stopped, awestruck by the sight of his home, the place he sleeps in, utterly demolished. Where a tree with a carefully constructed fort should have been was nothing but a smoking crater in a fesh clearing, surrounded by shredded bits of wood.
"Oh man, Oh man ... this cannot be happening, I am NOT having this much bad luck." Timmy said aloud, only to regret it immediately.
'The boy is still alive! Seize him you fools!' something called out before rushing to grab Timmy. It was moving too fast for the boy to make any details of species, race, or gender ... all the while, a single thought ran through his mind.
'Mystery of the weird explosion noise: Solved.'