“Awwww how much longer do we have to wait?” Harry whined, he then gestured outside the cockpit window “look it’s almost night time.”
“Oh come on it not even evening yet.” Morphan retorted “It’s still the afternoon, granted late afternoon.”
“But it’s been hours!”
“It’s been exactly thirty minutes so please be quiet.”
“How do you know that?” Harry asked; he then had an epiphany “Do you have some kind of Kung-fu time telling technique!”
“Kung-fu time... No it’s nothing like that I’m just really good at telling time.” Morphan then rubbed his temples in chagrin “Look just be quiet before White Rabbit snaps at us again.”
“Strange how he hasn’t done that already!” Neko quipped.
Harry opened his mouth to say something in his defence but unable to think of anything he just crossed his arms and pouted childishly.
“This is ironic behaviour for him considering he’s a bus driver.” Neko thought “You’d think he’d be against such behaviour.”
Suddenly she noticed that Morphan discreetly leaned against her. It was slow and subtle but she noticed, apparently Harry did too based on his “oooh” facial expression.
Morphan’s out-of-the-blue action caused Neko’s mind to race a mile-a-minute.
“By the abyss is he coming on to me now? NOW? Jeez this guy obviously has no sense in romance. SHEESH I should have known that whole cool-guy act was just an act, well if he thinks I can be won over by cheap one liners he’s got another thing coming. On the other hand from what I’ve seen of him so far he doesn’t seem like a BAD fella; though admitingly a bit of a kill-joy. And let’s face it he’s is... minorly attractive in a rugged sort of way. Then again I haven’t known him long enough to make any real judgments. That’s it I’ve made up my mind I’ll hear him out and then make my choice on how to reject him.”
“You okay Neko?” Morphan whispered.
“I said are you OKAY?” Morphan whispered again “You kinda blanked out for a second?”
“Oh I’m fine.” Neko stated, across from her she noticed Harry leaning forward with his ear faced to them obviously trying to listen in on their conversation. Although he tried to be discreet about it he failed miserably.
“So what did you want to talk to me about?” Neko asked.
Morphan shushed her and then gestured to the White Rabbit who was busy driving the airship.
“Oh right him.” She made sure to whisper this time “So again I ask, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Well I wanted to ask you...”
“Yess?” She leaned in a little more to hear better.
“...If you noticed anything odd?”
Neko leaned back slightly in surprise “That’s what you wanted to ask me?”
“Yeah? Why? What did you think I wanted to say to you?”
“Nothing it’s not important.” Neko felt embarrassed, relieved, and insulted at the same time.
Embarrassed to have jumped to such a ridicules conclusion.
Relieved that he wasn’t going to hit on her.
And insulted that he didn’t want to hit on her.
Both Morphan and Neko stared at Harry who was currently on the ground. Apparently when he leaned forward to hear their conversation he leaned forward so much that he lost fell off his chair. With both Morphan and Neko staring he quickly got up and back onto his chair twiddling his thumbs and trying to look innocent.
“Sooooo what specifically did you mean when you said odd?” Neko whispered.
“Well we’ve been in the air for about thirty five minutes.” Morphan continued.
“And remember when you called the White Rabbit from that communicator and he said he just got back to the base?”
“And then it took him roughly ten minutes to come and pick us up?”
“Ten minutes?” she asked.
“Five minutes of us waiting and another five of us talking... onto my point.” Morphan leaned in closer to her “My point is if it took him ten minutes for him to get from the base to our destination...”
“Why is it taking thirty for him to get back.” Neko stated. Morphan nodded.
“Huh that is weird.” Neko stated “Well I know one way to find out.” With that Neko got up and marched towards the White Rabbit despite Morphans feeble inaudible protests.
“Hey Bucky!” Neko yelled standing tall with her fists on her waist “What the hell is going, we should have been at the base twenty minutes ago?”
The Rabbit said nothing.
“Well, I’m waiting for an answer!” Neko demanded at the top of her voice.
Without turning around the White Rabbit pressed a big button on the controller. Whatever he pressed caused scratchy techno sounds to reverberate across the innards of the JubJub.
“What did you press?” Neko asked.
“I just activated the auto-pilot.”
Quick as a flash the White Rabbit drew a wrench from his tool vest and spun his chair around so he could swing the wrench horizontally. Neko managed to react quick enough to duck under the attack. She then uppercuted the Rabbit in the chin. The force of the blow caused him to fall back onto the controls. Neko then jumped onto his chest grabbed the fur near his neck with one hand and drew her other hand back dramatically.
“I’ve got you now!” She yelled as she extended her claws.
“That’s what you think! Bunny Blast!” suddenly from out of the White Rabbits ears came a large orange glob of sorts. The glob pushed Neko off the White Rabbit and onto the floor.
Harry and Morphan rushed to her aid.
“You okay?” Harry asked.
“I’m fine!” Neko said as she wiped the glob of herself “his earwax doesn’t do any real damaged it’s just really gross.”
“His power is that he shoots earwax from his ears?” Harry asked “Wow what a Lamerz.”
“Don’t call me THAT!” yelled the Rabbit as he threw his wrench at Harry.
The wrench hit Harry’s head so hard that it ricocheted off him.
“Ow.” Harry said as he rubbed his head “Typical Lamerz response.”
“Don’t speak of Lamerz like their some kind of separate species.” The White Rabbit scolded “It’s not an exact science or anything, the term Lamerz was made up by demons like you so you could bully demons who had powers that you think are “uncool”.” The White Rabbit said the word “uncool” with bitter sarcasm.
“Huh interesting cause historically speaking demons like me were either servants, victims or food.” Harry retorted.
“Enough!” Morphan commanded “Tell me where are you taking us?”
As he spoke the JubJub’s auto-pilot flew the airship to an as-of-yet unknown location.
“Why Hellengaruo.” The White Rabbit chuckled.
“Hellengaruo? Why are you taking us there?” Morphan asked.
“I suppose at the very least you deserve an explanation.” Said the White Rabbit.
“Jabberwocky just broadcasted another one of his speeches which I heard on the JubJub’s radio.”
“If that’s true how come we didn’t hear anything?” Harry asked.
“Maybe because he was wearing HEADPHONES?” Morphan stated.
“Oh right.” Harry said sheepishly.
“MAY I CONTINUE YOU IDIOTS?” The White Rabbit yelled “Anyways in that message he told me to be on the lookout for a half-demon with a brown shell covering him...”
At that remark Morphan stared at his shell.
“... and his furry friend.”
Harry stared at his fur.
Neko who by now had wiped off most of the ear wax covering her fur got up “Any idea what Jabberwocky wants with these two?” she asked.
“Don’t know, don’t care. BUT I’m willing to wager that it may have something to do with these two guys having bounties on their heads.”
“So this JibbleJabble, JubbleJeeby...”
“Jabberwocky.” Morphan corrected.
“Yeah that guy he put bounties on our heads?” Harry asked.
“Yes, no I don’t know, WHY are you asking so many questions?” said the Rabbit “Look Jabberwocky keeps his announcements on a need to know basis, so I all I know is that he wants Baldy and Lobster-boy. And the only reasons I can come up with as to why he wants you all involve you having bounties. That’s why I’m taking you guys to a hunter district on the outskirts of Hellengaruo.”
“Hunter district?” Harry asked.
“A street name given to areas where Bounty hunters bring their catches.” Morphan explained.
“Well, well, well the jokes on you BUCKY!” Harry gloated “Because me and Morphan here don’t have bounties on our head. Right buddy.”
“Well we did recently defeat a Representative, and putting bounties on our heads would be well within his authority.”
The White Rabbit grinned greedily “Wow even a small bounty would be enough to retire on but defeating a Representative, Mon that rewards going to be bigger then I hoped.”
“Taking an awful big gamble huh that’s not like you.” Said Neko “You don’t know for sure whether these two are worth anything and if they’re not then you would have wasted your time, AND if Jabberwocky were to find out that you tried to screw him over, well I’d hate to be in your shoes.”
Neko then put on a cocky smirk and crossed her arms “If you turn this ship around and take me and my lackeys to the base, I promise you Jabberwocky will never find out about this from me. What do you say?”
The White Rabbit chuckled a bit “Don’t you see that’s exactly why I want to leave?” The White Rabbit explained to a confused Neko “Everyone in the Circus is always blackmailing and bribing each other. I’m tired of always having to hide my stuff in a holes so they don’t get stolen, I’m tired of always looking behind my back to make sure that no one is trying to stick a knife in it. And most of all I’m tired of being everyone’s low paying chore-boy.”
“Bandit gangs don’t have to be like that.” Neko said in an unusually quiet voice, she almost sounded sad.
“Oh and what gives you the right to speak of morals to me. You treat me just as badly as everyone else does.” The White Rabbit scolded “No that’s not true you treat me worse than the other cut-throats, at the very least they never forced me into taking a blood oath.”
“Forced YOU!” Neko yelled “If anything you forced ME into taking that oath because you thought it would be the only I wouldn’t rat you out. Well guess what Bucky I would have kept my word WITHOUT the blood oath.”
“You honestly expect me to believe that?” The White Rabbit yelled.
“YES!” Neko Maneki roared.
“Okay, okay. Look let’s talk things over.” Morphan said calmly “I am sure we can come up with an arrangement that suits both of us.”
“NO! No more talking your heads are what’s going to get me out of the bandit business so I’m bringing them to a hunter district with or without the rest of your bodies.” The White Rabbit then reached into one of the pockets and threw some hi-tech suction darts of sorts.
One dart hit Harry in the forehead.
Morphan reacted fast and held up his forearms to block, all it caused was for the dart to stick to his forearm.
Neko who unlike the previous two knew the White Rabbits tricks was prepared and sliced the dart to bits with her claws.
Morphan stared at the dart sticking to his arm curiously “What the hell are these for?”
“THIS!” The White Rabbit snarled as he slammed a large green button.
The button activated the plastic dome at the back causing it to glow bright green. A beam of energy shot out from the dome and struck Harry in the back, the beam of energy then dragged Harry to the dome where he stuck to it.
The dome then shot out another beam this one aimed at Morphan but he dodged the beam only to have it curve around and strike him causing him to stick to the dome just like Harry did.
“How did the beam curve like that?” Morphan thought as he and Harry struggled to break from the energy restraints, as his head jerked around his gaze went to the dart on his arm “Of course the Darts!” Morphan exclaimed.
The White Rabbit chuckled arrogantly “Very good you figured it out.” The White Rabbit then drew a dart for emphasis “Anything this little do-hickies get stuck to becomes susceptible to the JubJub’s tractor beam.”
“This thing has a tractor beam?” Harry asked.
“Of course how else do you think I got that bus on board in the first place?”
“All right Bucky you’ve had your fun but I’m putting an end to it.” Neko boasted “I need these two for a plan I concocted and I won’t let it be foiled by the likes of you.”
“Oh really?” asked the White Rabbit “And what are you going to do about it?”
“The real question is what are going to do about ME?” She retorted “I know for a fact that I don’t have a bounty on my head so selling me to the hunter district won’t get you anything, so as members of the same bandit group we neither of us have any reason to beat the other up.”
“(HMPH) since when do you need a reason to take out a half-breed?” The White Rabbit then drew out a long pointy screwdriver “If this plan doesn’t work out I’ll at least earn praise for being the one who finally got rid of YOU!”
“Time for you to remember your place!” Neko yelled, she then held out her palm dramatically.
Only nothing happened.
“Forgotten already?” The White Rabbit mocked “The terms for the Blood Oath have already been met, you asked me to pick you up and I did, you no longer have any power over me.”
Neko Maneki glared at the White Rabbit.
“Don’t get mad at me it’s not my fault you made the terms so vague. A smarter demon would have been way more specific. Oh wait your not a demon your just a furry half-breed whore.”
Neko Maneki then struck a battle ready pose.
“So any last words.” The White Rabbit gloated.
“Lamerz!” She yelled.
“GRRRRRRR Bunny Blast” He then shot out a glob of earwax which Neko ducked under after successfully dodging the attack she got back up and made a “bring-it-on” gesture.
The White Rabbit growled in annoyance “Stampeding Bunnies” he then shot out a barrage of smaller globs in a machinegun like fashion. Neko kept deflecting the globs with the back of her fists.
“Now to catch her off guard.” Using his bunny legs the White Rabbit jumped forward hoping to stab Neko with his screwdriver.
When he came close enough she grabbed the Rabbit and using the momentum threw him onto the metal ground judo style.
While he groaned in pain, Neko wasted no time and smashed his face with a falling elbow slam.
By the time the Rabbit collected his bearing Neko was already at the controls.
As the Rabbit struggled to get up he realised the position he was in. He was currently on top of the hatch beneath the tractor beam.
Neko raised her hand and aimed for a button.
“No no Wait...”
Neko slammed her hand onto the button causing the hatch to open.
The sounds of the Rabbits plummeting screams was quickly swallowed up by the sound of rushing air.
“Wow you got the moves lady.” Harry complimented having to scream due to the loud noise of rushing air.
“Thanks!” Neko yelled back.
“Now can you get us down, please?”
“Sure!” she then pressed the button to deactivate the tractor beam.
This was followed by a loud yelping noise.
She immediately rushed to the source of the yelping noise to find that when she turned off the tractor beam she forgot to close the hatch as a result Morphan was holding on to the ledge with Harry clutching his legs for dear life.
Neko Maneki looked over the edge to find Morphan glaring at her.
“Sorry” she muttered while smiling sheepishly.
A few minutes later...
After a comical struggle to pulling both Morphan and Harry up Neko went to the control panel and closed the hatch.
Morphan and Harry then proceeded to remove the suction darts, which proved to be a more difficult task then they anticipated as the darts were stuck on pretty hard. Harry managed to painfully pull off some hairs along with the dart. After removing them they squished the darts.
Once that was done there was an awkward moment of silence.
“So now what do we do?” Harry asked.
“Don’t worry Baldy, the plan is still on.” Neko answered “I’ll fly this thing!”
“You can fly this thing?” Morphan asked “then why didn’t you just fly it yourself in the first place.”
“Before I didn’t have a reason to...” Neko took a moment to think of a proper word “...dump the White Rabbit. I assumed Bucky would take us there.” She then stared at the hatch “But that aint the case now so sit down and enjoy the ride.”
While Neko walked to the controls and Harry to his seat, she noticed that Morphan was standing by the hatch staring at it. She sighed in annoyance before walking up to him.
“He’s dead isn’t he?” Morphan asked glumly.
Neko put a hand on his shoulder “Yep falling out of an airship at this height should just about do it. One of those mercenaries they ship out for the campaign could have survived but Bucky was nowhere near their level.” Although Neko spoke in a cheerful casual tone Morphan noticed that it lacked her usual amount of bravado.
“You killed him.”
Neko glared at Morphan “Don’t give that. HE was going to kill ME; I acted on impulse and killed HIM, FIRST!” She turned around to walk to the controls “Had I the time to slow down and think things through I MIGHT, MIGHT have let him live. But that’s a luxury we can’t always afford.”
Morphan asked without taking his eyes of the hatch.
“Half-demons like us.”
Neko explained her back still turned to him “Any half-demon will tell you that their lives consist of being hated by both demons and humans. Attacked pretty much everywhere they go. Those that fight back get hated even more those that don’t end up dead. YOUR alive meaning you must have fought back and if that aint enough I can tell from your blows during our fight that you have plenty of battle experience. You honestly expect me to believe that you never killed anyone in those fights?”
Morphan stared at the hatch.
“How dare you!” Harry yelled.
“Were you eavesdropping again?” Neko asked angrily.
“Yes I was, but that’s not important right now.” Harry quickly retorted “What gives you the right to judge him. Why during his fight with Straight Arrow he could have killed that dirt bag but he didn’t because he said.... well I don’t remember the specific words, but he said something along the lines of he never killed anyone before. SO THERE!” Harry look real smug feeling proud of himself for defending his friend’s honour.
“Thank you for your gesture Harry but I’m afraid that you’ve misunderstood.” Harry stared at Morphan curiously “I meant I PREFER not to kill that does not I won’t if I have to... or that I haven’t already.”
There was an awkward moment of silence.
“Baaaah Lighten up!” Neko said as she patted Morphan on the back, albeit more painfully then she intended “So we’ve killed demons is being sad going to bring any of them back?”
Although Morphan accepted the legitimacy of her question he couldn’t help but be insulted by the tone in which it was asked.
“The Omniverse is full of problems but not one of them can be solved by moping around.”
Morphan visibly lightened up at Neko’s remark.
“But we’re not here to solve any of Argus’s problems only our own.” Neko jumped into the pilot seat and turned off the auto-pilot “You two wants your bus back so you can get to where-ever it is you want to go and I want to restore my damaged pride. So Let’s GO!”
Before she flew off she waited for Morphan to take his seat “Hey Neko.”
“Thanks for your little pep-talk; you’re not as bad as I thought you were.”
“Your right I’m not as bad as you thought I was.” Neko then turned around to grin at him; the grin was an in-between point for mischievous and malicious “I’m way worse! And when the time comes for us to go toe-to-toe you’ll find out just how bad I really am.”
“Bring it on.” Said Morphan.
To be continued...