Beginning Flames

Secret of Unown

"You know, Ricardo," Julius spoke, "I came here under the assumption that you felt threatened by my successful business and are trying to know my secrets."

"What, can't I just have a friendly drink with a successful rival without my motives being questioned?" Ricardo asked, a fake smile on his face.

"Another shot of bourbon, dear maid." Julius held his empty shot glass in the air.

"Of course," I said, picking up the bottle. Just as I was about to pour, one of my heels broke, and I ended up spilling the alcohol on the tiger's suit as I fell to the ground face first. "Ow..."

"You clumsy fool!" the gorilla yelled as I sat back up. "Look what you did!"

"Now now, no need to be so rash, Ricardo," Julius said calmly. "It was just a little accident." He helped me back up, letting me sit in his place. "There we go."

Wow. This Julius character is unexpectedly nice. Mayhaps that Unown character was a little off about him.

Ricardo just scoffed. "Just as I thought," he said. "All looks and no brains. I always get the stupid ones, especially those claiming to be smart."

"Now listen here, you sexist pig of an ape!" I shouted. "I didn't come here to be insulted!" I stood up to try to leave, but then I felt a sharp pain in my ankle so I was forced to sit back down. Aw, dammit! I must've sprained my ankle. Stupid French heels! I rubbed my ankle.

"How dare you insult me! You really are stupid, girl!"

"Ricardo, I know that you're jealous of my success," Julius interjected. "But that's no reason to insult this young lady." He held out his hand, helping me to my feet. "Now if you don't mind, I'm taking her back to her room to aid her injury." He led me out of the meeting room, taking me back to my room as I hobbled next to him. He sat me down on the bed. "I hope you aren't too hurt."

"It's not too bad," I said. "I sprained my ankle before, so I know how the pain is."

"Why did you decide to work for that big ape anyway?"

I bit my lip. "I... can't tell you why."

The tiger raised a curious eyebrow. "Why not?"

I took a deep breath and said quickly, "Because he hired me to get you to spill the secrets of your success through seduction and booze." I flinched, waiting for him to explode. But instead, he just deeply laughed.

"Oh, that Ricardo and his tricks. I knew there was a reason for him to invite me over here. And you must be some kind of spy, right?"

"Uh, detective, actually."

"Ah, I see. Would you mind if I massaged your ankle, just to relieve some of the pain?"

"Oh, uh, not at all." He sat down next to me on the bed, and I extended my leg a little so that he could massage my ankle. The way his fingers moved around my ankle was like Heaven in a handbasket. I honestly thought I was going to fall into a blissful sleep. Suddenly, a sharper chill ran down my spine than it did earlier. I got the feeling that something was wrong. I looked back at Julius, and he had this lustful look in his eyes. His hand started running up my leg. "Uh, what are you doing?"

"Just relax, baby," he said with a malicious purr.

Oh, shit...! I quickly pulled my legs to me, cradling them. "Uh, just so you know, I'm not afraid to scream out 'rape'."

"We both know you don't have the guts to do so." He quickly pounced on me, holding my arms back. "Now just relax and it'll be all over soon."

"Let me go!" I tried to break free, but he held on tightly. Looks like I may have to scream. I promised Espy. I took in a deep breath and let out the biggest scream I could possible. Suddenly, Julius was pushed back by some powerful force, and then the room around me started to disappear and transform into some kind of cave. I stood up and looked around. Strange looking letters were engraved on the walls. This is getting weirder and weirder.

"Good. It seems Julius didn't do too much damage to you."

I looked around. "Who said that? Where are you?"

A mysterious cloaked figure appeared in front of me, hood over his face. He appeared to be human.

"Are... Are you Unown?"

"I am," he replied. "It was a good thing you screamed when you did. He could have done some serious damage to you physically and emotionally."

"No shit. But... why did you help me?"

"I've gotten word that another Half-Blood was around, so I had to get as much information about you as I could. Don't worry, I'm not a stalker."

"Uh-huh." I glanced back at the markings.

"Oh, that. It's a historic variation to the present day alphabet. It's been around longer than I have." A smile came on his face. "If you'd like, I can teach you to write it."

"That's very nice, Unown, but I have to get back. My friends must be worried about me."

His smile faded then he bowed his head in sadness. "Oh, I see. You must think I'm hideous."

"How could I think that if I can't see your face?"

He lifted his head a little, hands on his hood. "If I show you, you promise you won't laugh or run away?"

"Cross my heart and hope to die." I crossed my heart and raised my hand in promise.

"Alright then..." He removed his hood and lifted his head all the way, showing that he had literally one eye.

"Whoa," I said, my own eyes wide. "Never thought I'd come across a Cyclops."

"You're not afraid of me?"

"I'm more surprised if anything." I paused, a sad look on my face. "Have you been living here by yourself?"

"Well, I'm not exactly alone."

"Ricardo doesn't count."

"Not that big jerk." He turned around, then called, "It's okay, guys. She's alright." Unown's voice echoed. First, there was silence. Then, like little black snowflakes, the letters started coming to life, happily chirping like Flickies in the summer sun. They were turning 3-D right before my eyes. Each letter had one eye just like Unown.

"Are these your friends?" I asked.

"Yeah. They kept me company for the last, oh, 500 years or so."

"500 years?! Are you an Immortal?"

"No, not really. It's because of these guys that I've been alive for so long. They have a strange, mystical power that's been keeping me young forever. They don't trust anyone outside this place, though. And if I were to leave without them, I'd turn to dust and they'd be heartbroken."

The letters all sadly chirped in unison.

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said. "But why can't you use that power to drive Ricardo away?"

He bowed his head sadly. "I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because... I'm afraid of what might happen. If he found out that the source of my abilities was not caused by me but by my friends instead, he's gonna make them miserable. Besides, we were here first, not that stupid monkey. He just built that stupid house of his on top of the cave's entrance, blocking it off so that I can't get out, but he's able to come and go as he pleases! It's not fair!"

An idea popped into my head, a smile on my face. "That's it, that's it!"

"What's it?"

"I have the perfect idea on how to drive that stupid ape away from here."

His eye widened with hope. "Really?! How?!"

"It's gonna require you and a few of your friends to leave the cave. I might be compromising my mission, but you're in greater need than he is." I looked down at my maid outfit. "Of course, I'm gonna have to change clothes first."

"Oh yeah, I thought you might say that. Guys, bring her clothes, please." About six letters came in circling each other, my clothes and shoes floating in midair.

After changing clothes and explaining my plan, Unown, a few of the letters, and I teleported out of the cave back into my room. Julius was no longer in the room, so I was thankful for that. But then we heard shouting from out in the hallway. I took the lead and quietly opened the door. Looking out, I saw the Chaotix confronting Ricardo and Julius.

"I'll ask this one last time," Vector shouted. "Where. The hell. Is the Kid?!"

"And I told you that I. Don't. Know!" Julius shouted back.

"Well, she couldn't have just vanished into thin air!"

"That's exactly what she did!"

"Well, Vector," Ricardo chimed in coldly, "it seems that your female has failed to complete her mission. I guess there won't be any reward to give out."

"I may be the cold-blooded guy," Vector said, "but you're the one with the cold heart!"

"Regardless, you once again failed to keep a girl within your eyesight and now she's possibly dead."

I turned back to Unown. "Wait here," I whispered. "Remember: wait for the signal." I turned back to the hallway, marching out of the room.

"There's no way Chy would be dead!" Charmy squeaked.

"What makes you say that, little boy?" Ricardo asked.

"Because I'm a badass detective and there's no way a badass can just die," I said as I joined the group.

"KID!" Vector happily yelled.

"Oh, you're alive," Ricardo said coldly. "Great."

"Yes, alive and kicking," I said, then glared at Julius. "I thought I'd let you know, Ricardo, that your rival tried to rape me."

Julius chuckled nervously. "Oh, maids and their stories," he said.

"I'm not making this up, and you know it, you sleazy bastard."

The tiger angrily grabbed me by the arm. "Listen here, you little-"

Espio made a sweeping kick, sending Julius to the floor. Then the ninja stood on the tiger's torso and pointed a kunai at him. "Keep your hands off her," he warned.

"Where did you disappear to, girl?" Ricardo asked impatiently. "That is if you did disappear."

"I guess you could say..." I looked back at the room's door. "The cause was Unown."

And right on cue, Unown appeared behind the stupid ape, hood over his face.

"Hello, Ricardo," he said.

The gorilla turned around in surprise. "YOU! What are you doing out of your cave?" he exclaimed.

"I've come to set a few things right. If it weren't for Cheyenne here, I never would have gotten the courage to face you."

"Uh, Kid, what the fuck's going on?" Vector whispered.

"Don't worry about it," I whispered back. "Just sit back and watch the show."

"I don't care what you're here for!" Ricardo yelled at Unown. "Get back to your cave and don't come back out again!"

The Cyclops just laughed it off. "You stupid ape. You wanna know the source of my power? Friends, to me!"

The few letters that came with him appeared, ready to attack.

"What are those things?!" everyone but Unown and I exclaimed.

"These little guys are the ones with the real power," the young Cyclops explained. "You built your giant house over our home eight years ago, and now we want you gone." He leaned closer to Ricardo. "Oh, and there's more of these guys where that came from."

"And to think you're the one scared of him for the last eight years," I added, getting in the gorilla's face, "not the other way around. Oh, and I think you and your rival should leave while you're both still alive."

"I'm not running away from my estate!" the gorilla protested.

"I'll bring more of my friends out here to meet you," Unown offered.

"Alright, alright! I'll leave!"

"But before you go," I added, "there's still a payment for my... services." I laughed a little.

"I don't owe you a damn cent!"

"I believe you will when I say that your so-called rival is nothing but a dirty fraud."

"How dare you!" Julius growled.

"How dare you for lying to everyone here," Unown said calmly. "Your fraudulence is because you have three mortgage payments on your house, you spend your pocket money on prostitutes - you're probably dead broke right about now, and you have to pay child support to your rich ex-wife. I say rich because she married a wealthy bachelor, who is way more honest than you could ever be."

Julius's eyes widened with fear. "H-H-How did you know that?!" he stuttered in fear.

"It's really easy to know who you're dealing with when you do a little research on the subject."

The tiger pushed Espio off him and he stood, slowly backing away. As he backed up, he looked at the gorilla. "You never told me you built your estate over a stalker's cave," he said, fear filling his body.

Ricardo tried to smile as confidently as he could. "What," he started. "Can't I just-"

"Stop with your bullshit, you dirty ape! I am out of here!" Julius quickly made his way to the front door.

Ricardo looked back at me, and let out a defeated sigh. "You are a crafty one," he said. "Fine. You've done your job as promised." He reached in his pocket and took out three 100 dollar bills, putting them in my hand. "Here is your payment."

The letters chirped angrily in unison.

Ricardo flinched. "What did they say?" he asked.

"They said, 'Now leave and don't come back,'" Unown said.

And as such, he quickly left before something was to happen to him.

"Alright, Kid!" Vector congratulated. "Ya did great!"

"Please, I barely did anything," I said.

"Oh no," Unown objected. "If it weren't for you, I never would have gotten the courage to go up against that big ape. You are such an encouraging person."

The letters chirped happily.

"They said that they're happy that our home is ours once again. Thank you so much." The Cyclops hugged me tightly in gratitude. "How can we repay you?"

"Oh, you don't need..." I paused. "Well, I'm pretty sure Ricardo took off in his limo, so we don't know how to get back to-"

"The Chaotix Detective Agency. Of course. I'll have my friends teleport you there." He pulled out of his hug and started waving goodbye. "Until we meet again."

A smile came on my face. "Until we meet again."

Ricardo's estate faded as the comforts of the detective agency faded in.

"Great job, Kid," Vector said, tousling my hair. "You did me proud."

"You really shouldn't thank me," I said. "I barely did anything."

"Oh, don't be so modest. It would've taken me at least two more days to uncover what that rival of Ricardo's was hiding, and even longer to find that secret cave he's hidden." He gently nudged my chin with his fist. "You're really shining, now."

"Gee, uh, thanks Vector." This is a real congratulatory feeling from the croc. I must have appealed to his good side somehow. I shrugged. Well, whatever it is, I like it.

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