It was a warm summer day in Labirinth Canyons. The red sun of Argus cast the sky in a blaze of orange; the midday sky was completely cloudless.
“I see skies of blue
And clouds of white”
Harry Crax sang while he worked on the bus engine.
“The bright blessed day”
Meanwhile Morphan stood on top of the bus acting like a sentry.
“The dark sacred night”
“And I think to myself
What a wonderful world!”
“Hey Harry would you mind not singing?” Morphan asked.
“Not a Louis Armstrong fan huh.” Said Harry as he lifted his head out of the engine.
“Well no not particularly but that’s not important.” Morphan stuttered “Besides isn’t that song a remnant from a conquered world?”
“Oh please!” Harry rolled his eyes “pretty much everything Argus owns is plundered goods. Hell the clothes on your back might be from some world Argus took over.”
Morphan took the time to look over the blue vest he was wearing; to his chagrin he noticed the words “Made in China” on the tag. “Look the point is...” before continuing he jumped off the bus and landed next to Harry “... we are on the RUN, as in we don’t want people to find us. Your loud singing might give away our position.”
“Well we might as well give away our position, because we aint going to be in our position much longer.” Said Harry as if it was the smartest thing in the world, he then went back to working on the bus “A little tinkering here and some hinkering there and we are ready to...”
As quickly as it started, the large cloud of smoke disappeared leaving Harry with a shock on his face and black soot covering his fur. He then coughed out some smoke that got in his mouth.
Morphan couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight in spite of the situation. Morphan then reminded himself what that situation was “Just my luck that our bus would break down in the middle of the canyons, Arrow has probably come to by now and won’t take his defeat lying down.”
While Harry was patting the soot out of his fur, Morphan said “Uh Harry maybe we should proceed on foot.”
“NO WAY PAL!” Harry yelled his face now clean of soot “There is no way I’m leaving without Gale.” He stated as he patted his bus affectionately, the bus let out another smaller burst of smoke. Morphan raised an eyebrow at the burst of smoke.
“Look personal feelings aside, it’ll take us weeks to reach the nearest bus stop by foot.” Harry explained “Let’s not forget that Gale can protect us from the elements. She may not be a hotel suite but she IS the closest thing we have to shelter at the moment.”
“(Sigh) you sure you can fix her up?”
Harry’s chest swelled with pride “You worry too much; I assure you Gale has taken far worse punishment then this.” At the moment Morphan found that very hard to believe “Like the perfect womon, Gale always comes through for you.”
Harry started to rub Gale affectionately “Gale has all the qualities of the ideal women, she’s tough, loyal, dependable, hard working and gooooood looking.” Gale let out another burst of smoke “Granted she can be hard to deal with at times, but hey lovers bicker.” With that Harry stroked his bus even more affectionately.
“Ooookay?” Morphan shuffled a little farther from Harry.
“By the way Morphan do you have a special lady in your life?” Harry asked for curiosities sake.
“By lady you mean a girl right, not a vehicle or anything?”
“Whatever you got is fine.” Harry stated as he started to work on the engine.
“No I don’t have a special lady in my life.” said Morphan as he leaned on the bus arms crossed “And just to clarify by lady I mean female.”
“Well that’s very hard to believe.” Said Harry while still working on the engine “You’re young, strong and handsome. Plus chicks dig the “heroic” types. You should be a real Casanova.”
Not used to being held in such high regard Morphan could only roll his eyes good naturally “Well throughout my life I’ve pursued many females, some human, some demon I even tried to pursuing males if you can believe it.”
“I aint judging.” Harry said while waving his arm dismally “So how come you’re still single?”
Morphan pointed at his eyes, the red and white eyes that half demons were known for and said “Why do you think?”
There was an awkward moment of silence.
“Well have you ever tried dating a half-demon?” Harry asked sheepishly.
Morphan rubbed his temples in annoyance “(Sigh) Look it not like we have a secret club or anything, in fact half-demons do everything in their power to hide the fact that are half-demons. I’ve probably walked right past half-demons on the street without knowing what they were, and they me.”
There was another awkward moment of silence.
“Look just hear me out.” Harry said, Morphan perked his head up “You’ve got plenty of life in you and you’re a real prince as far as I’m concerned, all you’ve got to do is lay out your arms...” Harry stretched out his arms for emphasis “... look to the sky...” Harry looked to the sky “... and the girl of the dreams will fall right into them. I’m being metaphorical of course, I don’t literally expect a girl to just fall out of the sky...”
“Please be quiet.”
“I know it’s a bit corny, but come on...”
“I said be QUIET!”
“Now don’t-be-like-that, I’m only trying to help...” before Harry could finish Morphan rushed up to him and grabbed him by the lips.
Before letting go of Harry’s lips, Morphan whispered “I hear something!”
Harry put a hand to his ear “I don’t hear anything.”
“Well I do.” With that Morphan started to scan the area.
“Look no offence but SCIENTIFICULLY speaking half-demons senses aren’t as strong as regular demons, so if I don’t hear anything...”
“Unlike you or half the other demons in Argus, I’ve spent nearly all my years on the run so I’ve more experience when it comes to being tracked.”
Then they both heard the sound of pebbles falling. They both looked around but saw nothing but canyon walls; they kept hearing the sound of movement but every time they looked to the source they found that whatever it was had moved before they could get a good look.
“You think it’s some kind of wild animal?” Harry asked.
“Could be but somehow I don’t think so.” Morphan then took a battle ready stance.
“All right whoever you are!” Harry yelled into the sky “Come out and face us!”
Before anyone could react a demon fell out of the sky and kicked Harry in the face. Before Harry even hit the ground the demon started to back-flip till it jumped into the air twirling ostentatiously before landing perfectly onto the tip of a sharp boulder.
Morphan moved in front of his now unconscious friend before yelling “Who are you and what do you want?”
“Who am I, I’m glad you asked!” the demon yelled boisterously. She was apparently some sort of cat demon, judging by her tail, ears and claws at the end of her fingers and toes. She had short, thick, shiny golden blonde fur that covered almost all of her body save for her face, midriff and upper arms revealing white skin, she also had long, wild hair of the same color. She was about Morphans height and possessed an athletic, voluptuous build.
“I am the one who strikes like lighting and roars like thunder!” the cat demon continued boisterously “I am the Golden Bandit of Labirinth canyons Neko Maneki! And I’m here to take your valuables.” she then pointed at her latest victims in an ostentatious pose.
“Earlier today I fought a Representative now I have to fight a bandit?” Morphan thought “Then again maybe I can solve this peacefully.”
“HEY did you hear me? I said I’m Neko Maneki, the golden bandit!” She yelled believing herself to be ignored.
Morphan walked into the bus grabbed his sack, walked outside and held it up “Here this is all we have, search it as much as you like you won’t find anything worth stealing.”
Suddenly Neko Maneki rushed up to Morphan till her face was near centimetres from his own. This disturbed Morphan for multiple reasons, for starters the obvious invasion of his personal space, second was how remarkably fast she moved up to him, another thing was the blank expression she stared at him with. Morphan tried to avoid showing her his eyes but it was ultimately useless since she grabbed him by the chin and forced him to look her in the eyes.
It didn’t take long for Morphan to be shocked by her eyes.
“Okay you’re clean.” Neko stated as if nothing happened; while Morphan stood gawking she yanked the bag out of his grasp.
“Uh excuse me?”
“Oh right, I was checking you out.” Neko said as she poured the contents of the bag onto the floor.
“Checking-me-OUT?” Morphan started to blush when he realised what he asked.
“I thought you might be trying to trick me, so I looked you in the eye to measure what kind of person you are.” Neko then took a moment from rummaging through her spoils to look at Morphan and point to her eyes “The eyes are the window to the soul as my mentor taught me.” She then went back to looking through the stuff she took.
Morphan had no idea how to respond to Neko’s behaviour but at the moment that had little meaning due to an even more perplexing characteristic of her. “Uh Neko I couldn’t help but notice your eyes.” Morphan said shyly “And well there like mine, does that make you a half-demon?”
“Yeah so what of it?”
If Morphan wasn’t shocked before then he was now. Morphan had met a few half-demons in his life but not one of them ever handled their “linage” so casually. It was as if this girl had no idea of the implications that came with being a half-demon.
“What is with this woman?”
“Oh man what hit me?” Asked Harry as he regained consciousness.
“She hit you.” Morphan stated as he pointed to Neko who was currently inspecting Morphans things to see if any of them had any value. So far all she found was spare cloths and a few knick-knacks.
Harry squinted his eyes to get a look at his assailant.
“Is that female a...?”
“Yup a half-demon.” Morphan answered “I gave her my stuff in an attempt to avoid a fight, if all goes according to plan she’ll realise we have nothing on us and leave.”
“But what if she decides to just take your things anyways?”
Morphan put his hand in his vest pocket “Don’t worry Harry there’s nothing in that bag of any real value to me.” As he said that he felt the photo that was currently in his pocket.
There was a moment of silence as Neko looked meticulously through Morphans things to see if they had any hidden value.
“You knoooow!” Harry said while slyly elbowing Morphan in the gut “Maybe you should go and talk to her.”
Morphan kept switching his gaze from Harry to Neko “Are you serious? Are you actually suggesting that I flirt with a bandit that kicked you in the face and tried to mug us?”
“Hey she’s a half-demon you’re a half-demon. You said so yourself that it hard to come across another one of your kind.” Harry explained “And to be one hundred percent honest... she-is-HOT!”
As Harry said that Neko held up a pair of boxer shorts that were in the pile and then started to sniff them like a hound believing its smell could somehow determine its value. All it did was make her gag.
“Yeah she’s a real catch.” Morphan said sarcastically.
“Okay” Neko quickly shoved all the stuff back into Morphans bag and gave it back to him “Looks like you’ve got nothing to take in that bag.”
“I believe I already told you that.”
“You’d be surprised.” Neko bragged “People can have all sorts of neat stuff on them and not even know it.”
“But now that it’s obvious that is not the case, I trust you’ll leave us in peace?”
“Nope.” She said bluntly “Like I said people can have valuables that they don’t know about.”
“But you just said...”
“I said there was nothing in the BAG!” She corrected “And you can keep the junk in your bag. But your bus on the other hand once fixed up a bit should catch a hefty price.”
Harry shrieked in terror and held his bus “There is no way in hell I’m letting you take Gale!”
“Gale?” Neko asked.
“Yeah he named his bus Gale.” Morphan explained.
“That’s silly.” Neko laughed “Bartholomew is much better name for a bus; anyways you might as well let me have it.”
“Oh I’ll let you have it alright!” With that Harry charged forward and tried to punch Neko, only to have her dodge effortlessly. Harry continued to try and punch Neko but she backed away each time. She quickly found herself cornered against the boulder. “Take this!” Harry threw a punch at Neko only to have her jump and land a good distance away.
“Don’t underestimate me just because you got off guard.” Harry Crax said as he drew his fist away from the indent his fist made on the boulder “Now with Gale on the line there am no way I can lose.” Harry then struck a battle ready pose.
“He he he no matter how many times I hear that it still makes me laugh.” Neko bragged “Well bring it!” her claws elongated, her pupils morphed to become slit-like and she let out a loud hiss showing off her fangs.
“Hairy Situation” Harry elongated the fur on his right arm and swung it at her.
Neko Maneki effortlessly cut Harry’s whip with her claws.
Before Harry could react she rushed up and punched him in the gut.
She then side-kicked Harry in the head sending him into the air. Before he came down Neko jumped into the air, grabbed him and slammed him head first into the boulder.
The impact shattered the boulder and left Harry on the ground unconscious.
“All right now you’ll have to deal with me!” yelled Morphan.
“I thought you wanted to solve this peacefully?” Neko asked.
“That was before you hurt my friend,” Morphan stated as he took a battle ready stance “Besides me and Harry need this bus in order to get out of here.”
“So you’re going to fight to avenge your friend. That’s real admirable.” Said Neko Maneki “Doesn’t really matter I suppose either way that bus will be mine.” Without another word she rushed up and started claw at him
SLASH SLASH SLASH
Morphan could do nothing but block her claws with his forearms. Eventually Neko Maneki jumped up and tried to kick him, only for Morphan to dodge the attack, grab her by the leg, twirl her around and throw her a good distance.
Neko managed to land on her feet and then immediately jumped to pounce.
Morphan managed to intercept her with an upwards punch to the face. The force of the impact sent her tumbling backwards across the dirt.
There was a brief moment of silence before Neko jumped back up and yelled “I can’t believe me you hit me in face!”
“Excuse me?” Morphan asked bluntly.
“Don’t you know a gentlemon never strikes a girl in the face! You should get punished for unnecessary roughness!”
“Unnecessary roughness! This isn’t some sporting event, this is a FIGHT a real live FIGHT!”
“Well haven’t you ever heard of women’s rights and chivalry and all that jazz.”
“For your information chivalry is considered a form of women’s possessionism. It strengthens the belief that women are prizes to be won as well as the belief that they are too weak to fend for themselves.”
“Really? Interesting, where’d you hear that?”
“I think I read an article about that while I was in... WAIT, WAIT, WAIT how the hell did we get on this subject?”Morphan then eyed Neko suspiciously “You played some sort of mind game on me, didn’t you?”
“Uhhhhh yeah, YEAH that’s exactly what I was planning . HA HA!” Neko laughed while shifting her eyes nervously, “Rats I figured this would be one of those fights where my opponent doesn’t take me seriously because I’m a girl. Those kinds of fights always give me an edge. Oh well Ce la vie that just means I’ll have to stop holding back.” Neko thought.
“Again I ask what is with this womon?” Morphan thought as he stared down Neko “Still despite her quirks she is certainly an able fighter. I don’t think she shown her power yet, she is fast but I don’t think fast enough to count as a power? In any case I better stay on my toes.”
The two of them had a stare down as they thought their various thoughts. Then they suddenly rushed to each other to continue the fight.
An hour later...
“Oh man two in a row.” Harry groaned as he got up “And to think my parents told me my thick-headedness was a bad thing. Well jokes on them cause my melon still in one piece.” Harry then got up while rubbing his sore head “Hmm let’s see if I can get a hold of the situation.”
Harry looked around to try and assess the situation “Sun hasn’t moved that much meaning little time has passed, Gale is just as I left her that’s good news, Morphan is laying on his back wheezing that’s good, that’s good, WAIT WHAT?” with that Harry rushed to check up on his friend.
Fortunately Morphan had no serious injuries, just some scratches and bruises “You okay buddy?”
“(Huff) (huff) yeah I’m fine, just really exhausted, that female really took a lot out of Me.” said Morphan.
“But you managed to chase her off right?”
“(Huff) not exactly.” Morphan then gestured behind himself showing the Neko was in a similar state as Morphan, in fact she was so close behind him that Harry was curious as to how he didn’t notice her earlier.
“So it’s a draw?” Harry asked.
“Yeah! She was too fast for me to get any good blows on her and I was too durable for her to do any real damage. We kept going at it till we both got too tired to continue, so yeah it’s a draw.”
“You keep telling yourself that.” Neko bragged “I can still get up and go if I wanted...” she tried to get up but found her body too sore “... I just don’t want to.”
“So what do we do now?” Harry asked “Gale’s still broken down so we can’t leave. Plus we can’t just leave Cat girl on the floor, once she gets second wind she might try to mug us again. If I know Straight Arrow he’ll be here any minute with an army in front of him.”
Morphan thought for a moment “I think I might have an idea, but first Harry I have a question about your power.”
A few minutes later...
“You bastards will never get away with this!” Neko yelled furiously. She tried to get up but found herself unable to properly move.
“There we go, that should keep her out of our hair.” Morphan then made a slight chuckle “Hey I just made a funny.”
Indeed Neko was currently cocooned in a rope made out of Harry’s elongated fur “Ha ha you were right to ask if I could disconnect my fur from my body, which I can. Now, TADAAA instant rope.”
“Yeah, yeah so you can shed at will, big whoop!” yelled Neko as she writhed on the ground trying to break her bonds.
“So how long do you think this will hold her?” Morphan whispered.
“Hard to say, with my Aura seeping through them my fur is a strong as steel cables. But now that my fur has been disconnected from my body it will soon just become regular hair, hopefully by then she’ll run out of energy.”
With that they both looked to Neko to see her bouncing around trying to break the ropes, when that didn’t work she tried to gnaw them with her teeth.
Harry and Morphan decided to keep their comments to themselves “No matter I’ll just fix the engine before she breaks free.”
“I hope it will be that simple.” Morphan stated “I don’t want to have to fight her again.”
“You know I can hear you two!” Neko yelled, she had somehow managed to balance herself on her feet and was currently hoping up and down furiously “These ears of mine aint for show. Now you better untie me and hand over that bus or I’m gonna have to get ugly.”
“You mean you can actually get uglier?” said a voice “And here I was thinking that your human parts couldn’t get any more unsightly.”
Everyone looked around to try and find the source of the voice.
“Frankly I think the “charm” of her demon parts more than makes up for that.” A second voice said perversely.
Eventually everyone located the source of the voices to find two demons standing on top of a cliff on the canyon wall.
Morphan gasped in shock before asking “What in the name of the Doom?”
Neko Maneki growled before snarling “What are you two doing here?”
Harry Crax could only ask “How did they get up their?”
To be continued…