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Connections

By Mikari

Adventure / Scifi

Chapter 1

Loyalty is never what it appears to be, and while some connections can be broken, others refuse to fade away. Sometimes there are hidden connections where you least expect them.

Connections

Connection 01: Coincidental Connections

Anvi's POV

A story of first meetings...

"Are you okay?" The room possessed an endless whiteness, as hospital rooms often do. White; a color of healing? More so a color of dull boredom.

"I think so," I was knocked out in the battle. The blood monks are clumsy and I was in the way. They're strong, but I wasn't supposed to be their target. In their favor I can say that maybe this wasn't clumsiness, because they didn't know I wasn't their target.

Atomic Betty, the only other person in the room besides me, smiles with encouragement. "You're expected to make a full recovery soon. I don't mean to rush, but is there anything you can tell me?"

An interrogation, I should have seen it coming. Coincidentally, I was left, as I do not wish to say abandoned, at Maximus' lair while he was in the middle of an evil scheme. Logically, I could only be a hostage and, given the situation, I must be tied to the case at hand somehow. In reality I know nothing; I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that's what I'll say. "Wrong place, wrong time," it's best if she doesn't know my full story, "random hostage."

"I see; then we'll return you to your home at planet Ivalice." She must assume I'm from Ivalice because that's where the recent case originated. "What is your name?" I fail to read the deeper meaning of Betty's inquiry; she was seeking confirmation for the previous assumption.

"Anvi," my reply comes automatically.

"Last name?" Betty procures.

"Um..." I've given up on that, I'll give her another name, not my original one, after all, Anvi wasn't my original name either, "Caton."

Betty raises an eyebrow, "Caton?"

"Yes," I mutter, then before she leaves I add, "I'm homeless, they took me in and..."

"I see," at this Betty tries to look understanding, as if she believes I'm not capable of evil despite being taken in by the lynxian mafia. "We'll find you a better place and a job, if you prove your honesty, maybe we can station you on the Earth base."

"No!" Some time ago the Galactic Guardians Headquarters was destroyed and a temporary base was built on Earth. That base was kept even after the main Headquarters in space was rebuilt. "I want to stay here, I like space; I'll do any job!"

"Why not Earth?" Betty looks suspicious.

"I heard it's pre-contact, too much secrecy, I prefer a more comfortable atmosphere," my excuse is weak.

Beggars can't be choosers and Betty soon reminds me of this, "Earth is more comfortable than the mafia."

"I know, but I didn't need to do anything. I just..."

"I understand," thus my fate was sealed, but Betty was left with doubts, despite not pursuing further answers immediately, possibly out of merciful understanding.

xoxox xox xoxox

That's how I ended up in that team, a team that was complete without me. Our captain was a lynx; he was covered by light grey fur, his hair the purest white, with a line of white fur running down his back, the ivory color encompassing his entire very fluffy tail. But I had not seen all of that, I only knew he was gray save for his hair and tail, the line was a rumor I heard. Though he is a full blooded lynx, I heard that he received much teasing over the white line which made him look like a skunkian.

Captain Kendo Aicue has blue eyes, which are more common in kittens and rare in grown lynx. From what I heard from several female lynx at headquarters, blue eyes can make a man look either dashing or innocent. Maybe it's because I'm not a lynx, but I can't tell which one it is for Kendo, or maybe in his case it depends on the situation.

The pilot of our group is the cousin of Betty's pilot, Sparky. Similar to his cousin, Spike has a big nose and an insatiable appetite, green skin like all Martians, as well as the white eyes common to his species. His hair is purple, which is not rare in Martians, but not as common as lavender.

The third and would be final member of the group is a silver robot called Y-3. Our ship is a standard Starcruiser with blue details where Betty's is red.

That would be everything concerning the team, except me. This team was complete with three members, but here I am. I'm not as fast or athletic as they are, but I can hold my own in terms of technological skills, which has brought me closer to Y-3, who has evolved from a standard model, to a highly customize robot far superior to other Y-3 units. Despite not being exposed to such a level of technology in my previous almost primitive existence, I caught up remarkably quickly, as if I always longed for this knowledge.

Kendo is nice and understanding, he has tried his best to make me feel welcome. Though I thought I would be left in the repair shop, and that I would be okay with it, I got bored and craved adventure; he saved me claiming that there was no reason why the standard three person team rule shouldn't be bent on occasion. Given our coincidental connections, which I would later learn of, maybe this was allowed as a test or a trap, to try our loyalty when teamed with another in a somewhat similar situation.

As the forth member, I don't need to go on all their missions and sometimes stay behind to work on robot repairs and upgrades at headquarters as needed; also to study technology and robotics.

Spike, as most Martians, is naturally friendly, often going as far as offering to share his food, a rare trait in someone with four stomachs, which Kendo claims means he likes me. I think he's just being friendly, possibly because he heard from his cousin Sparky, who heard from his captain, Betty, that he should keep an eye on me, though Spike probably isn't sure why, as my past with the Caton clan is undisclosed. Either way, the fact still stands that most Martian snacks and preferred meals, if not all, are not fit for human consumption. I'm sure that is the reason why he makes the offers, he knows they will be refused and he would have done his part in offering.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Will you tell me the story?" I'll have to admit I was surprised when Kendo found me in the nearly deserted hangar at headquarters, sitting in the parked ship watching a video, and asked me this.

"Story?" I was puzzled.

"About Caton," I should have known my records wouldn't remain a full secret, though I was seen as a victim and not blamed for my connections to the Caton clan. But of course, I was naturally reluctant to tell my story.

I shifted uncomfortably and remained silent, "what about your story?" I threw the question back without realizing how similar we were.

"I'll tell you if you want to hear it," I never imagined how few people had heard about Kendo's past, but before telling me, he explained the reason for his question, aside from the natural curiosity of his race. "When we supported Atomic Betty on that last mission, you were uneasy and so was I. We let him go, we let Maximus escape, but we covered for each other without realizing it at the time. Spike has offered to help me in this out of friendship, since we've been close friends for a long time, and Y-3, he has really taken a liking to you since you're good with machines and seems to have less opposition to the situation despite his protocol. Speaking of liking, maybe you should take the food Spike offers sometimes."

"He does that because he knows I won't take it, it's not human food," I reply.

"Surprise him, I'm sure his face will be amusing when he realizes he lost some of his snacks because of his own offer," we both laugh at this.

Then, perceiving the second thoughts about revealing his past, I directly encourage Kendo to do so by reminding him, "your story?"

"Right, my story," he nods. "I was an orphan on Splatty; I wandered into someone's private property one day, it was Maximus' vacation home. Maybe he felt sorry for me; I was as cute as a kid as I am handsome now."

"I see were you got your ego," we laugh; I know Kendo is just pretending to be narcissistic to lighten the mood, because we all know Maximus is.

He continues, "he decided to let me join his forces, so I would become Maximus' apprentice. But that never happened; the Galactic Guardians saw me with Maximus during his next attack, assumed I was kidnapped and came to the rescue. Betty was still in training with Spindly Tam Kanushu at the time, and it was one of Beatrixo's last missions before retirement."

"I see, then you're grateful to Maximus because he was going to give you a home and adopt you in a way," I reflected.

Kendo nodded, "and your reason? It seems we're both tied to Maximus somehow."

"The one who saved me, Speed Caton, said his life was saved by Maximus long ago and because of that, even if he is a gangster, he decided to show kindness to one living being every year. I was that creature by coincidence."

Kendo listened with growing curiosity.

"I remember that time when Speed saved me. I lived a depressing life on Earth back then. His ship crashed on my car in the parking lot during a chase. But the auxiliary systems made it possible to take off again within a few seconds. Before that, seeing he was an alien and I could escape my sad and meaningless life on Earth, with no friends or motivation, I asked him to take me with him and he agreed. On Earth, everyone thinks I'm dead, there was a big fire in the parking lot as we flew away, I would have been burned to ashes."

Kendo's amazement doesn't cease, the connection, though coincidental, had a significant impact. "Speed helped you because Maximus helped him."

I nodded. "Speed couldn't keep me safe, so he left me with Maximus, but there was a battle, he didn't stay to explain things. Speed had to flee when he saw the guardians, he assumed Maximus would keep me safe, without even explaining who I was, and even if they haven't seen each other in such a long time. Speed really admires Maximus, though I've noticed his image is very different from the reality. Either way, Maximus saved Speed, or Speed thinks he did, and that led him to take me along when I asked, and entrust my safety to Maximus, whom I'm sure still has no idea who I am. I'm thankful none the less, because the chain of events took me here."

"That's a really interesting story, don't worry, I'll keep the secret, and you keep mine," Kendo assured.

I nod, "promise."

End POV

xoxox xox xoxox

Connection 02: Accidental Connections

Of course he was in a bad mood, a worse one than usual, as Minimus could regretfully testify. Though the sidekick didn't know why and he had to inquire. "Your evilness, why are you in such a bad mood?" Minimus knew this was more than just the usual frustration that followed his defeat and Atomic Betty's victory, though Maximus had been let off easy by the team supporting Betty's.

"Traitor! Ingrate! The guardians take him away and he makes no attempt to escape, instead he joins them!" Maximus yelled in anger.

"Oh, that lynx boy, I remember him, he's grown a lot. You wanted him to be your apprentice." Minimus felt he shouldn't have asked, as the topic could only put Maximus in a worse mood upon further discussion.

"Yes, and the girl guardian with him, I'm sure she's that girl he brought before, I knew I saw him," at this point Maximus remembered the first time he saw Anvi and Minimus wondered which 'he' Maximus was referring to, since he didn't recognize the lynx who brought the girl, abandoning her in the middle of one of their battles with Atomic Betty.

"Who do you mean, your evilness?" Though he had thought better of continuing the conversation, Minimus was curious.

"Speed Caton," Maximus replied. "His mother and mine were sisters. As I later found out, my aunt was engaged to a mafia lord from planet Splatty, except she was in love with someone else, I don't know who exactly, but she had a child whom her fiancé thought was his. Years later, he realized the boy was too different to be his son and there was a big fuss about it. I was still very small and didn't understand, but my mother went to see her sister at the time and took me along."

Minimus listened, not daring to interrupt.

"Caton, is the last name of Speed's mother, he was exiled from the Mewsmac clan after the leader realized Speed wasn't his son. He formed his own clan years later and has a rivalry with the Mewsmac clan. But that's not the part that makes me angry, I don't care about what they do," at this point Maximus let out some of his tension by hitting Minimus on the head.

"Ow!" Minimus held his spinning head.

Maximus continued his narration, "like I said; I was too little to know what was going on. I was just angry that Speed was getting all the attention, even if I didn't know it wasn't the good kind of attention. Lord Mewsmac was planning to kill Speed in revenge to my aunt who escaped with him with mother's help. That night, I tried to get rid of Speed. I pushed him in a space pod and sent him away. I accidentally launched a few space pods at once and Lord Mewsmac and his gang didn't know which one to chase. They went after the pods, leaving few of their men behind and when my father and his gang arrived to assist mother, they teamed up and overpowered them. From what I heard, my aunt eventually reunited with her son and they moved to a different galaxy, supposedly to find Speed's father, I don't know if they ever found him. Mewsmac's men, who were chasing some of the space pods when they all randomly went in different directions, couldn't catch up because of asteroids, technical difficulties, forgetfulness to refuel, something or other, but they told Mewsmac that the pods were all destroyed. That's why he assumed that Speed was dead and thought that was revenge enough against my aunt; he didn't look for her again. After that, my father's gang cut all connections with the Mewsmac clan. That was the last I knew of them. Then, years later, Speed shows up and dumps a random human girl here for I don't know what reason. She ended up joining the guardians, so I can only assume he wanted to cause trouble!"

"Even after you saved Speed's life..." Minimus mused. "Maybe he didn't mean to cause trouble; maybe Speed trusted you and wanted you to keep his friend safe."

"Who cares what he wanted? Saving his life was an accident, I was a child and made a mistake, I wanted to get rid of him!" Maximus' frustration was evident in admitting he made a mistake, even if it was long ago and he attributed it to being so young.

Minimus wisely decided not to press the matter further, though he was curious about what was that girl to Speed, what Speed thought of Maximus, and what made Kendo decide never to return to Maximus' side. As for Kendo, Minimus already knew of his past, even if his present left him with questions. The boy had actually been nice to Minimus, even if he did steal Maximus' attention, which made Minimus angry at first, since he was more of a punching bag than usual, but that plan ended quite differently from what Maximus expected.

Connection 03: Secret Connections

The music that played had a touch of angst but at the same time sounded hopeful. It was a strange blend of rock, pop and who knows what else. "I know you like ones and zeros better than musical notes, but don't you want to watch the show? Spike will wonder where you are. He's probably looking for us in the crowd."

She turned around and smiled at her captain. She had a tendency to wander away from people. She didn't like crowded places. "Yes, let's go." The human and the lynx ventured into the crowds. It was a miracle they were able to make their way near the small improvised stage where their friend was.

Not too far from the dark haired human girl and the gray and white lynx boy, there was another human girl, this one with red hair. "I told you they were good," a green boy with a big nose and blue hair followed the lyrics to the local band's song.

"They are," Betty agreed. There was something about the song that made many people their age relate to it. Maybe some things were more universal than most people could imagine. After the song ended, the crowd clapped and cheered, asking for more. The night had barely started after the sun had set moments ago and now it was time to party until sunrise.

xoxox xox xoxox

The music continued for a long time. Maybe it was an hour or maybe two. Finally the band members became hungry and needed a break. The crowds still stayed in the area, talking with their friends after the unplanned concert ended. "You were right, this is great publicity," Spike, a purple haired boy of Sparky's species, told the lynx, Kendo.

"I told you it was good to listen to your captain every now and then," Kendo laughed. It was his idea that the band Spike was in threw an outdoor concert.

"Yeah, it might have been a free concert, but maybe people will like the music and maybe we'll even have an official recording some day," Spike smiled at the possibility, though he didn't think of what exactly that would mean, of how it would affect his schedule if it was to happen, if he could continue to be a galactic guardian in such a situation. But he was too carefree, it was his nature. "Where did Anvi run off to? I saw her earlier from the stage, but then she disappeared."

"She's with Atomic Betty. I heard Betty say she wanted to talk to Anvi. Maybe she can figure out what's bothering her," Kendo explained as they walked towards a snack table that someone placed there. People started bringing food in hopes of turning the concert into a night long party. Soon, recorded music started to play about fifteen minutes after the band stopped, to keep the atmosphere active until they could be convince to play more songs after resting.

"Shouldn't she tell you what's going on, since you're the captain and all?" Spike took a handful of caramel covered slog worms.

"That doesn't mean I have to be nosy." In reality, Kendo didn't need to hear Anvi's story, he knew it already and did not know how to comfort her any more than how to comfort himself, even if he hid it well.

Not too far from there, two robots, X-5 and Y-3, discussed the biological organism's illogical behavior. They didn't understand what they gained by jumping around and running in odd patterns that didn't even follow the sound of the music, yet they still claimed to be dancing. If anything, they would at least obtain the benefits of exercise, they concluded.

xoxox xox xoxox

Far from the music and noise, two girls continued walking further away in hopes of having a conversation without having to yell to hear each other. Once they reached a distance where the music and voices became a soft whisper carried by the wind, they sat down on a park bench to talk. "He told you to talk to me, didn't he? Is it because I'm in trouble? I broke no rules," Anvi wrapped her arms around herself, her pale skin feeling the cold wind of the night.

"Admiral Degill said I should talk to you because you're the first to do this. He suspects that there might have been something wrong in your home on Earth for you to want to run away," Betty explained.

"This is the life I want, on Earth I had a meaningless existence, boring, sad, depressing, inferior, not worth survival," Anvi never liked the monotony of her past.

"But there's more to it than that," Betty insisted.

"Let's just say the Earth's way of life isn't my thing, I've always been told I was a futuristic girl living in the stone age. It was true; I was never interested in what little Earth had to offer."

"You're spoiled and self-centered," Betty concluded. "We investigated, I'm sure there were people who were sad after hearing of your supposed death. You didn't tell the truth about your place of origin. Speed Caton took you from Earth, you were not kidnapped by Maximus at Ivalice."

"I didn't want to be deported to Earth, I was afraid to lose my freedom and purpose after I realized that it existed," Anvi shifted uncomfortably, but her eyes remained firm.

"Selfish, self-centered, ungrateful, yet not evil, just bitter with frustration," Anvi nodded at Betty's conclusions, willing to accept them. "The Galactic Council is watching you, don't slip up, that will be the last." Betty felt a sort of mercy for the girl, knowing what it was like to feel trapped in the seemingly pointless business of Earth when there was so much out there. Once again, she let her slip.

xoxox xox xoxox

The party continued with less people now. Some only stayed to see if the band would play again, but clearly they were too busy eating for that. "There's something wrong," Kendo suddenly voiced his concern.

"I'll say, we're running out of food!" Spike was surrounded by food, but to him it didn't look like much.

"I mean I have a bad feeling, as if something is about to happen." Right after Kendo said this, there was an explosion near by.

"Fireworks!" Spike cheered.

"That wasn't fireworks," Kendo started running towards the source of the explosion. Y-3 soon dragged Spike away from his food, while X-5 took care of bringing Sparky, and they followed Kendo towards the place where Betty and Anvi were.

Sparky, X-5, Kendo, Spike and Y-3 arrived a little too late. "Chief!" Sparky picked up what looked like Betty's head. "Speak to me chief! Don't worry; I'll put your head back where it belongs. I'll glue it on if I have to, just hold on!"

"I'm over here, Sparky," the real Atomic Betty spoke.

"My robot!" Dr. Cerebral yelled.

"Your robot? This robot belongs to the Galactic Guardians, I'm sure it's the same one," Atomic Betty argued.

"Dr. Cerebral must have stolen and repaired her," Anvi deduced.

"Speaking of Dr. Cerebral, he looks like he's trying to sneak away," Kendo noted.

Stopping Dr. Cerebral was pretty easy. He was there to test his new found robot and give Betty a bad reputation, but he didn't expect to find the real Atomic Betty and was unprepared.

Connection 04: Unnoticed Connections

In the depths of space several ships zoomed by, going well above the speed limit for that area. "She's right behind us your evilness," Minimus looked at the radar on Maximus' ship.

"I know that!" Maximus angrily hit Minimus on the head. He would have made a jump to light speed by now, if not for the fact that his ship had been damaged by an asteroid that had somehow gotten loose from the gravity of a nearby asteroid belt.

But Maximus' ship was equipped with a few tricks to get him out of such situations. After pressing a few buttons, a smoke like substance was released from the back of the ship, creating a thick space fog that quickly spread. Contained in the dark mist were many microscopic scrambler chips that prevented the Starcruiser from tracking his ship on their radar.

Heading in their general direction was another Galactic Guardian ship. This one was a Star Defender model, characterized by the many defense mechanisms and few weapons that served to stop enemy ships, rather than damage them. The ship was painted in a mirror-like black with details in dark blue. The interior of the ship was similar to that of the Starcruiser's, but slightly more spacious as the ship was a little bigger.

The captain's chair was like Betty's, it sat in the middle of the control room at a higher level. There were three chairs in front of the controls instead of two, due to the difference in structure of the ship. Normally the ship could operate with a crew of three, but it was more comfortable with a crew of four.

"We can't let them escape!" The captain urged. He was a light gray and white lynx with blue eyes and was wearing a dark blue galactic guardian uniform. Their robotic teammate was a Y-3 model painted silver, with blue light eyes.

They were approaching the area where Atomic Betty and her crew were chasing Maximus' ship. The captain looked ahead at the gang of wolf like space pirates, who accelerated upwards making a ninety degree turn to avoid the strange dark fog up ahead. "We can't let them get away!"

"Accelerating now!" The pilot of the ship, a green alien with spiky purple hair and a big nose announced, as the ship began to speed up. Like those of his species he had a big appetite and was thinking of the snack he would need after this chase was over. He was wearing a white and purple galactic guardian uniform.

The forth member of the team had joined recently. She was a human girl with black hair dyed blue, dark brown-black eyes and pale skin. She was wearing a light blue galactic guardian uniform and had her hair in a long ponytail.

"There are two ships hidden ahead and they are heading towards us," Y-3 warned.

"We're heading up anyway," the captain reminded. "Make the turn now!" The pilot turned the ship, making it take a vertical angle and followed the space pirate gang.

Maximus had over done it with the scrambler chips and gotten caught in the dark fog himself, but his ship was reaching the end of the strange black cloud and there was still no sign of Atomic Betty's ship. Of course she could be right behind him for all he knew, but he couldn't see her ship yet. As he came into the open, and his radars began to work again, he saw the Star Defender zoom up in front of him and his first reaction was to stop to avoid crashing into it. "Breaks!" Maximus screamed as he slammed his fist on the emergency stop controls and his ship came to a full stop north from a green and white planet.

"Chief, I can't see!" Sparky complained, they were still trapped in the fog.

"The radars do not function, but there is a ninety nine point eight percent chance that Maximus is still ahead of us," X-5 indicated.

"Right, we can't let them get away!" Atomic Betty urged. "Full speed ahead!" The Starcruiser sped out of the black cloud to where Maximus's ship was. "Stop!" Betty yelled at the top of her lungs, realizing Maximus' ship had come to a sudden halt.

Sparky quickly hit the breaks, but it was too late. The Starcruiser went crashing into Maximus' ship, causing both ships to get caught in the green and white planet's gravity and go plunging into its surface.

xoxox xox xoxox

Luckily, it didn't appear like they crashed into anyone. They appeared to have fallen into an open green field. The sky was a light green much lighter than the dark grass. A few small white clouds could be seen, but it was mostly clear. Four bright yellow stars served as the planet's suns and there was no night there. The ground was humid due to the many large underground rivers, this served to help regulate the temperature so it was hot but not too hot.

They quickly got out of their ships and examined the damage, confirming that neither ship was in conditions to fly. "This is your fault!" Maximus yelled angrily.

Sparky chewed on his gloves as if he was trying to bite his nails but forgot he had gloves on. "It's not the chief's fault, it was me!" He started to tear up. "I can't believe this, my perfect record is ruined!"

"It's okay, Sparky," Betty gave him a friendly hug. "It was Maximus' fault for using that smoke on us."

"You're the one who hit my ship!" Maximus argued.

"If you haven't stolen the gold, this wouldn't have happened!" Betty retorted.

"Speaking of gold," everyone turned to look at X-5. "I have collected all the stolen gold from Maximus' ship and placed it inside the Starcruiser while you were busy arguing."

"Well done, X-5," Atomic Betty commended. "Now we just need to repair our ship and we'll be on our way."

"You stole my stolen gold!" Maximus complained. "Minimus this is all your fault!" Maximus hit his sidekick on the head; he always blamed him for everything even if it wasn't Minimus's fault. "You won't get away with this, Atomic Betty! If you want to keep that gold you'll have to fight for it." Maximus pointed what he thought was his light saber in her direction, but then realized it was a chocolate bar.

Sparky snatched away the chocolate bar and ate it without even removing the wrapper. "Chocolate does make you feel better!"

"I think I left my light saber at the lair," Maximus hit Minimus on the head several times again. "Why didn't you remind me to take my light saber? You're such a useless sidekick!"

"Ow, why must I always be treated like this?" Minimus' normal face complained. "One day I'll run away and never return and then you'll miss me!" His angry face added.

"Shut up and if you try to run away I'll," Maximus stopped and looked at the empty spot where Atomic Betty and Sparky were standing before. "Where did they go?"

"It seems that you were too distracted to notice again," X-5 replied. "They went to buy spare parts, but don't worry we'll get your ship fixed too since we were the ones who hit it, even if it was your fault." Maximus eyed the Starcruiser. The robot's normally blue eyes turned red as a transformation sequence was initiated. X-5 was a lot bigger now with golden armored arms and legs and several cannons, lasers and what not. "I have received a battle upgrade so I suggest that you don't even try to take the gold back."

Maximus backed away and almost tripped over Minimus, who was cowering behind him. "Minimus, guard the ship, I'll go make sure Atomic Betty and her little friend bring all the right space ship parts." He ran off trying to catch up with Betty and Sparky, who were now two little dots in the distance.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Maximus managed to catch up, completely out of breath, they arrived at a Greek and Roman style city. Many white temples stood at both sides of the large white brick road. At the end, there was a large round arena.

"Chief I'm hungry; can we stop and eat something?" Sparky asked.

"I don't think they'll take our currency in the restaurants either," Betty grimaced. Their dilemma was that the people of this planet only accepted their local currency and didn't have any banks to exchange for universal currency. The planet's population was composed of many different species living together in peace. So far they have seen aliens that looked like dogs, mice, foxes, humanoids and birds.

"Why don't we give them the gold or steal what we need?" Maximus suggested.

"Absolutely not," Atomic Betty refused. "If we must, we'll work to earn some local money."

"That stinks," Maximus complained indignantly.

"You can complain as much as you want but the gold doesn't belong to us and stealing is wrong, which is why we got into this mess in the first place, because of your stealing," Betty reproached.

"No, I mean it really stinks," Maximus clarified.

"I don't normally agree with villains, but he's right, something does stink!" Sparky covered his large nose.

"You haven't been eating montigo berries again have you?" Betty asked suspiciously.

"That's not me, honest!" Sparky defended.

"I don't normally agree with galactic guardians, but I think he's telling the truth," Maximus pointed at a skunkian man standing in front of them.

The skunkian glared at Maximus. "It's not polite to point," he scolded with a mix of sarcasm and anger. "You lynx think you're better than everyone."

"We're certainly better than your stinky race," Maximus huffed.

"I'll ignore that and get to business," the skunkian continued with an evil grin. "I heard you're in need of some cash, well my sister and I rented that arena over there." He pointed to the large white circular arena. "We're in charge of organizing a little competition once a month there. You need to sign up in teams of three. The contest categories are eating contests, karaoke and stuff like that. Are you interested? The price money is ten million greecoins."

Of course ten million greecoins were not as valuable as ten millions in other currencies but that should be just about enough to fix both ships and maybe have a little left over money to buy a small souvenir or a little snack. Betty didn't trust the skunkian, but she had no choice, she would just need to be extra careful. "Sign us up."

Maximus looked back and forth between Betty and the skunkian. "I hope you're not including me in that us."

Before Betty could say anything, the skunkian spoke. "What's wrong little lynx? Scared of a harmless karaoke contest?"

"Of course not, sign me up! I'll show you my race's superiority Mr. Stinky," Maximus glared daggers at the skunkian.

"Right this way then, let's see if you can live up to your word." They followed the skunkian to the arena where the contests were to take place.

The first was an eating contest, which Sparky easily won and enjoyed very much. Next up the karaoke contest, that Betty finished with a victory and a massive applause.

Next was the third challenge, which corresponded to Maximus, but he still didn't know what it was. They were currently in a waiting room. "I'm bored, when is it my turn? What am I supposed to do anyway?" Maximus assumed it would be something easy.

"Your challenge is a fight with no weapons allowed," a dogarian with light yellow fur announced as he entered the room hearing the question.

Maximus looked at the dogarian, as all the color in his face disappeared. It looked like even his fur lost its color somehow and anyone who saw him at that moment could assume he was a fully white lynx. "With you?"

"No, not with me," the dogarian laughed. Maximus took a deep breath and some of his color returned. "Take a look out the window and you'll see your opponent." He pointed to a window which showed the inside of the arena.

Maximus walked over to the window and saw a muscular looking kitsune about five inches taller than him. "I'm supposed to fight that guy?" Once again he feared for his life.

"Not him, stand on the other side of the window to get a better view," the dogarian indicated. Maximus did so and saw someone wearing a black cloak. Whatever was under that cloak was twice as tall as the kitsune. The kitsune came into his view and jumped at the cloaked figure. The mysterious warrior extended a muscular arm covered in dark gray fur. He caught the kitsune by the arm and smashed him against the floor until he was knocked out.

"That's your opponent," The skunkian joined the dogarian laughing at Maximus' problem. The next thing they knew, Maximus was firmly attached to the roof of the waiting room.

"Hey, quit scratching the paint up there!" The skunkian yelled. "You have to get him down from there," he told Betty and Sparky.

"Maximus, come down from there, we're leaving," Atomic Betty decided.

"I don't believe you. You want me to come down so you can force me to go fight, that, that... that monster!" Maximus refused to let go.

Betty jumped and grabbed Maximus' tail, making him let go of the roof. He turn right side up in the air and easily landed on his feet but Betty lost her balance and landed on Sparky. The green alien fell back taken by surprise. They blushed and quickly got up then pretended like nothing happened. "C'mon we're leaving; it's not fair that you should fight that, whatever it is, without even being warned."

"You're not going anywhere!" The skunkian released a very bad smell from his tail that made them instantly fall asleep.

xoxox xox xoxox

All three of them woke up in the arena in front of the cloaked warrior from before. The mysterious warrior chased them around the arena several times as the crowd cheered. Betty's light saber was gone, so was Sparky's space pistol and Maximus had forgotten his weapons today.

"Hey lynx!" They heard a voice that sounded like he was calling Maximus, trying to be heard over the crowd. "Lynx!" Maximus looked at the entrance of the arena, which was covered by electric bars. There stood the kitsune warrior from before, severely injured with many bandages all over his body, but alive none the less. "You have the advantage in this battle, use it!" The kitsune managed to say before a skunkian girl, possibly the other skunkian's sister, dragged him away taking advantage of his many injuries.

Maximus was too scared to think about the kitsune's words and assumed he was hit on the head too hard. How could Maximus possibly have the advantage over someone more then twice his size?

"We're gonna die!" Sparky ran away from the tall warrior who was extremely strong but kind of slow.

Betty's thoughts dashed in search of a possible strategy. Was speed what the kitsune meant by having the advantage? Maybe he lost because he attacked head on, but maybe they could get this warrior tired and fight him then. Wait a minute, there was something coming out from under the back of the cloak that looked like a rat like tail. That's what the kitsune was telling Maximus, the ratici species from planet Raticia have a natural fear for lynx except, Maximus didn't look very fear inspiring while he was begging for his life, now that the ratici had stopped chasing Sparky and turned his attention towards him. "Maximus, meow at him!" Betty yelled.

"What good is that going to do? Besides, I don't meow!" However, that last word sounded very much like a meow, which scared the ratici warrior enough to make him step back, trip on his cloak and fall on his back. The hood of the cloak no longer covered his face as Maximus curiously approached. "So that's what you are. Suddenly you don't look scary."

"You don't scare me little lynx. I only slipped that's all," The ratici growled and Maximus stepped back.

"Show no fear. He won't be afraid of you if you're afraid of him!" Atomic Betty insisted.

"Easy for you to say!" Maximus yelled back, but she did have a point. He hissed and showed his claws. The ratici didn't look scared at first but Maximus maintained his position even if he was dying of fear on the inside. Soon, but never too soon for Maximus, the ratici backed away. Maximus continued to move forward until the ratici walked back into the electric bars and was knocked out by the electricity. "I won!" Maximus cheered and ran around the arena celebrating.

xoxox xox xoxox

With their strongest warrior defeated, those in charge of the arena had no choice but to pay the winning team and return their weapons. Both ships were repaired and they were able to leave the planet. Maximus didn't even try to steal the gold back, since he was too busy showing Minimus the championship belt he received and telling the sidekick his own version of how he got it.

Connection 05: Blurred Connections

Maximus looked out the glass window at the heavy rain falling all over that side of Splatty. Great time he picked to go back to his home planet alone. Minimus was probably so comfortable at the lair in space, away from the rain.

"If I wasn't a super villain I would be feeling sorry for all the poor souls that got caught in the rain." It started raining so suddenly, without a warning, he was very lucky to be inside when it began.

He looked out the window again, willing the rain to stop in a futile effort. Then he saw someone, some kid running in the rain, up the stairs to the entrance, leaning on the closed door and taking shelter there.

Maximus went over there and opened the door, the boy falling back unexpectedly. "Someone lived here?"

"This is my vacation home, who said you could come into my property?"

"Um... I come here sometimes..." The boy admitted.

"Is that why the fruit trees are nearly empty?" Maximus accused.

The boy didn't reply directly, instead said, "sorry about that."

"I am a super villain; you should know the great Maximus IQ." Maximus tried to sound threatening.

The boy looked up for the first time, "I'm not afraid of anything. I thought this place was deserted, that's no excuse, but I'm not scared, not even of super villains or galactic guardians. I'll repay you, somehow."

Maximus considered showing the boy some respect with his light saber, but instead asked. "How would you do that? You're just a street cat."

"I'll figure something out," the boy pouted, but looked determined.

Maximus thought about the situation, the kid had guts; that much he knew for sure. "Your name?"

"Kendo."

"You'll be one of my minions from this day on."

End

Anvi, Kendo, Spike and Y-3 are original characters. Ivalice is a reference to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Anvi, in a similar way to Mewt, wishes to live in a better world even if it means leaving everything behind. There are also a few references to Samurai Pizza Cats including Speed Caton, a reference to Speedy Sir Viche and General Catton. Mewsmac's name is a reference to Meowsma and Mac Mange, the latter is from Swat Kats.

My Main Site: http://azurelight.net
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