Blood and Magic
By Princess Thil Galel
I DO NOT OWN
The strong coppery scent awoke him. Fang's eyes opened to darkness, even though it was morning. He glanced over his shoulder towards the entrance, the mound was still in place. No one had discovered them during the night. He sat up slowly, sniffing the air as he tried to locate the source of the smell. It was an aroma he was very familiar with-the scent of blood.
An itch on his side called his attention, but when he scratched at it, he discovered that something had died in his fur and matted it into knots. He combed through it with his claws, quickly setting his fur to rights. Flakes littered the dirt floor and clung to his hand. He brought them up for a closer look, and realized it was dried blood. But he wasn't bleeding. So where had it come from?
His eyes immediately went to his companion. Celty hadn't so much as twitched since she'd settled last night. Could she have died during the night? She'd been so weak yesterday, and she seemed like such a fragile creature. Armed with a potentially deadly weapon, but was unwilling to use it even to defend herself. Somehow he wouldn't be surprised if she was gone. The weak simply didn't last. Only the strong survived, and he was much stronger than her.
Fang placed his hand in front of her mouth, and waited. A warm breath caressed between his fingers. So she was alive. He leaned over her, searching for the injury he knew must be on her body. If they left a blood trail, they'd be easier to track. The sand under her was stained a brownish red. Fang rolled her over, he found the wound on her right side, her white fur colored as red as his own. He parted her crusty fur for a better look. A piece of broken glass protruded from her pale flesh. The flow of blood had stopped, drying around the shard of glass, trapping it there.
He lowered his muzzled and sniffed at the injury. A slightly sour smell flowed into his nose along with the scent of her blood. Infection was already setting in. The glass needed to come out, and the wound cleaned if it was going to heal. Knowing only one way to accomplish that, Fang placed his hands on either side of the injury, and and fastened his sharp teeth onto the shard of glass.
A gasp flew from Celty's lips as she jerked awake. Dazed by the sudden return to the waking world, she struck out and forcefully shoved the other simian away. As she sat up and shook her head to clear it, a hand wrapped around her neck and pinned her against the stone wall. "Fang!" she gasped, tugging at his wrist. "What are you doing?"
With a growl he released her, then turned her so her side was facing him, and lifted her arm. "You're injury," he stated. "Be still." He didn't wait for a reply. Instead, he grabbed the glass with his teeth once more, careful not to break it on the sharp points, and snatched his head back. The shard ripped free of her flesh, tearing it's way out. He managed to clamp a hand over Celty's mouth just before she screamed. As he sat there holding the thrashing female against the wall with the bloody glass between his incisors, he saw something he'd never witnessed before.
Droplets of water swelled up in her eyes and ran down her cheeks. They made their way down to his hand and dripped onto the metal. Fang spat the glass out, and waited for the female to calm down. Celty's hand covered his over her mouth, pressing it firmly against her lips. Her body shook as she cried muffled sobs of pain into Fang's palm. It had hurt so BAD! He hadn't even given her a warning.
Unable to get enough air, she pulled his hand down. "Couldn't you have told me what you were doing?" she asked, fighting back a whimper of pain. "That REALLY HURT!"
Fang's bloody lips curled back in a snarl. "Would you have prefered if I hadn't removed it at all?" he snapped, then pressed his lips into a firm line. "It won't heal if there's something inside it. The glass had to come out, it would have only continued to cut deeper. And I told you to be still, didn't I?" When she flinched under his scolding, he couldn't bring himself to raise his voice again.
Once she seemed to have calmed down a little, Fang brushed his claws over the wound. Celty hissed through her teeth, her hands clenching into tight fists. He ignored her obvious discomfort. Pressing two of his fingers into the wound, he spread the edges apart until fresh blood flowed over his claws. The female whimpered in pain, her tail thrashing wildly as she tried to remain still.
Fang freed his crimson coated fingers from her side, and leaned down to peer into the wound. Now that the blood was flowing again, helping to flush the dirt and grime, he could clean it. He firmly grabbed the underside of her arm, and the top of her thigh. "Don't move," he ordered, "If you do, you risk splitting it further." The hand on her thigh moved to hold her chin, forcing all her attention onto his face. "I'm trusting you to keep your promise to help me escape. I need you to trust me not to hurt you, no more than what is necessary, or unavoidable."
Celty's eyes searched his gaze in silence. Fang was snappy, he was harsh, and he was designed to kill. But when he'd had her by the throat, he'd let her go. When the formless had nearly spotted them, he'd hidden her from sight with his own body. When she hadn't been able to climb down, he'd taken her burden on his back. And when she'd collapsed, he'd brought her to shelter, then laid beside her throughout the night. The black and red simian was more than a little rough around the edges, but underneath it all, Celty could see a good heart. Fang just needed to learn that it was there.
A soft smile curled her lips despite the pain in her side. "I trust you." she said, then leaned back hard against the wall with her eyes squeezed shut. "I'll try not to move." He grunted in response, and lowered his lips to her side. The first brush of his mouth on her burning flesh stung, making her toes curl. But then his tongue darted into the pocket of warm blood....and the pain was gone.
Celty's tense body relaxed, going limp against the wall. Fang ran his tongue over the angry red wound with gentle, even strokes, much like the way she'd seen the other monkeys tend to their own cuts and scrapes. She could faintly feel the sharp points of his incisors combing through the crusty fur around the injury as he cleaned away the bits of left behind glass and sand.
The sweet taste of Celty's fresh blood sent shivers down his spine, his fur bristling as a tingling sensation swept through him. The scarlet liquid tasted like iron, but it was remarkably delicious, and hot. He could feel the heat burning it's way down his throat, making a warm path to his stomach where a fiery blaze bloomed within him. For the first time in his life, Fang felt warm inside.
Knowing he couldn't risk bleeding her any longer, Fang gave her side one last lick, and pulled away, still savoring the taste of her life's nectar on his tongue. He placed her hand over the wound, and pressed it down. "Keep pressure on it." he instructed, then moved to the entrance of their shelter. "We'll give it a few minutes to stop bleeding, then move on."
The moment he stopped grooming her wound, the pain returned in full force. Celty bit her lip against the burning ache as she shifted to get more comfortable. "Well," she said with a wince. "I-if we're going to be here for a bit, do you want to talk?"
He glanced at her over his shoulder, a curious light in his eye. "Talk?" he inquired. "About what?"
Celty shrugged, and flinched at the stabbing pinch the action brought. "You look as old as me-give or take a few years." she said, "Surely you've seen or done something interesting."
The male turned away once more, letting his gaze wander over the barren wasteland he'd always known, and once called home. A shudder ran through him as memories flashed visions of the unspeakable horrors he had borne witness to. The blood he had seen spill over the dead ground upon which the Skelton King's castle was built. All the eyes of the living he'd watched grow dark as the spark of life faded into the black shadows cast by his former master.
Fang's claws scraped across the stone wall of their hiding place, leaving scratch marks behind as he remembered what that walking corpse had done to him. What he had turned him into. "The things I have seen.....I hope you never do. The thing I've done.....pray you'll never experience them." he growled. " My 'master' put me in the pits to 'train' me. How to survive. How to fight. How to kill. I've lost count of the numbers I slaughtered in that hell hole." He looked down at his hand. Images of his claws ripping through flesh, sprays of crimson splattering across the floor arose in his mind's eye. He could even recall the feel of his opponents' flesh between his sharp teeth as he'd torn out their throats.
Celty felt the blood drain away from her face. What terrors had that madman subjected him to? Killing others just to live another day? The things he must have endured sickened her. Celty rested the end of her long tail on his shoulder. "Fang, I'm so sorry." she apologised, "I didn't know.....I didn't think...."
"I understand." he rumbled, clearly wanting to change the topic. "What of you? Tell me about the things you've done."
Her tail snatched away from him. He turned back to her, and saw the female curling herself into a ball, her eyes downcast. "I'm afraid I've little to speak of." she confessed, resting her forehead atop her knees. "I don't remember much about the life I had before I met the monkey team. Sometimes I see vague memories that come and go." Sighing softly, she raised her head and looked down at her hands. "These weren't my hands. I didn't have this tail, or this fur. That much I remember."
"You weren't a monkey." he mused, leaning casually against the wall with his arms folded over his chest. "So then what were you?"
".....A human." she murmured. Then she suddenly smiled, "But that's neither here nor there. Now I live with the Hyper Force."
Fang raised a brow at the sharp swing in her mood, and he began to wonder if be so down right positive all the time was a female trait, or just some unique quality of her's. "What exactly are the others like?" he asked. "I know little more than their names. Tell me how you fit in with them."
She smiled at the thought of the team, and remembered how she'd come amongst them. "Well, let's see....." she hummed. "There's Antauri-he's the SIC, and a master of the Power Primate. He's also telekinetic, as well as very spiritual, and he's kinda been like a father to me since I got here." she explained. From the gleam in her eyes and the tone of her voice, Fang could tell that this 'Antauri' meant a great deal to her. The mere idea made his fur bristle with indignation. "Nova's the only other girl there, so we bonded pretty quickly. She's their best fighter and their TIC. She and Sparx are a couple. Sparx is the pilot, and a flirt-I can't count how many times he's used terribly cheesy come-ons on me until Nova threatened to slap him silly!
"Otto's a fabulous mechanic-I swear he could build anything you could ask for! But even though he's got the mechanical genius, he's got more dollars than common sense as they say. But we plays games together all the time, and he's just a lovable soul. Then there's Gibson, the scientist and medical expert. I help him in his lab some times-handing him test tubes and chemicals, and cleaning up his messes when he abruptly moves onto something else. I actually find his sciene lectures pretty interesting, but he IS long-wided sometimes.
"And finally, Chiro. We haven't spent much time together really, especially since he's out with his girlfriend Jinmay a lot during his free time. But he's their leader, and he looks after his team-his family. That's what they are, a family. They love and support each other, care for one another."
Fang listened quietly, and intently. Taking in every word, making certain that he'd remember each one exactly. Antauri, Nova, Sparx, Otto, Gibson, and Chiro. The members of the Hyper Force. He'd never learned anything personal about them. A father, a pair of lovers, a 'lovable soul', a scientist, a young boy. And to think, if he had remained with his 'master', he would have killed them all and not even known which corpse was which.
He mentally shook his head, trying to rid himself of the thought. "How's your side?" he asked, "Still bleeding?"
Celty cautiously removed her hand, shaking droplets of blood off her fingers. "I think so, but I don't think I'll be getting far for a while." replied the female, wincing as she gingerly touched the injury. She sighed, and slumped against the wall. "I'm sorry, Fang. I'm suppose to be helping you, but instead I've just been nothing but a burden."
The black and red simian snorted. "You're weak," he stated, "You're in a stituation that demands the best of you, but what you have simply isn't enough. I'm stronger than you, and I can hold my own against many obstacles. It's only natural that you would need someone with strength to support you. That is how things are, I don't begrudge you that."
"You put it so bluntly...." she mumbled.
He flashed her a lopsided smirk. "I say things as they are. Sorry if it offends you." he said with a shrug. As quickly as it had appeared, the smirk was gone. Fang looked out of the entrance, his scarlet eyes searching the barren landscape. "The coast is clear. We should get moving while we can." He had just cleared the sand mound out of the way when he heard a 'beep-beep' from behind him. The male froze, and whipped around. "What was that?"
The ends of Celty's antennae blinked red, with a chirp they opened as a communication came through. "Monkey team to Celty," came Antauri's voice. "Monkey team to Celty. Do you copy?"
"It's the team! I'm getting a signal!" she exclaimed, then quickly answered the message. "Celty to monkey team, I read you. Please respond!"
"Celty?" came Nova's voice this time. "Where are you? We've got your signal on the monitor, but we don't have a visual yet. Are you still inside Skeleton King's castle?"
"No, I escaped....along with a friend." she replied. "We're in a small crevice between two large stones not too far from the castle. If we get outside you could easily spot us from the robot."
"Hey, Doll Face." said Sparx. "Who's this 'friend' of your's?"
The white and pink simian's tail twitched in annoyance when the red monkey used his loathsome personal nickname for her. "It's....difficult to explain." she ground out in irritation. "You'll just have to get your tail down here and find out......Sparky."
"I thought I told you to ne-!"
"Enough!" ordered Antauri. "Celty, we'll home in on your transmission signal. Remain where you are, we shall arrive shortly. Monkey team out."
Several minutes past by before Fang heard the roar of the super robot's engines. He glanced briefly over his shoulder at Celty. She hadn't yet heard them, but she soon would. The male simian sniffed the air, drawing in the scent of burning fuel coming upwind of their shelter. Then, just on the horizon, he spotted the glow of the robot's thrusters.
"There they are...." he murmured. Fang looked back to the female as she shifted onto her knees and slowly crawled up beside him, her candy pink eyes squinting as she searched the sky. "I think it's best if you go out first. They're not going to be very happy to see me."
Celty smiled and covered his hand with her's. "You gotta think positive, Fang." she said "They're gonna be shocked, yes. But that doesn't mean that they'll reject you." They both turned as the super robot landed a short distance away. The hatch on one of the foot cruisers opened and the five monkeys streamed out behind the young human boy.
The white and pink female ducked out of the shelter and raised a hand to draw their attention. "Over here!" Once they spotted her, they ran to meet her as she limped towards them. Antauri reached her first, and the white female threw her arms around the silver simian. "Antauri! You don't know how happy I am to see you!"
The blue-eyed monkey returned her embrace, his forehead briefly resting against her's. "It is good to see you again as well, Celty." he said, then stepped out of her arms and glanced over her figure. His gaze found the brown-red stain in her fur, the freshly dried blood, and the crimson fluid coating her hand. "You've been injured. How did you come by it?"
She glanced down at her side, and feeling self-conscious, gingerly covered it with her hand. "Just a piece of broken glass, no big deal." she said, her long tail subconsciously winding around her torso, creating a barrier between them. "I'm just glad that you're all okay. After I lost sight of you and the others when the formless dog-piled you, I was afraid something awful had happened."
Before the second in command could speak, a green blur rushed past him crying out "Celty!" The team mechanic grabbed the white simian, nearly smothering her in his bear-hug. "Oh Celty I'm so glad you're okay!" exclaimed Otto, swinging her back and forth. "I thought we'd never see you in one piece!"
Tears formed in Celty's eyes as the energetic monkey's arms dug into her wounded side. "O-Otto!" she gasped, "My side-that really hurts!"
The green simian quickly released her. "Oh, sorry." he apologised.
Nova, Sparx, Gibson, and Chiro all gathered around her. The golden monkey placed a hand on the other female's shoulder as she swayed slight after being dropped back on her feet, feeling dizzy from the spinning. "Easy, I gotcha." she said, "Glad to see you're alright. How'd ya' get out of there?"
"Yeah," added Sparx, glancing around. "And where's this so called 'friend' of your's?"
Celty looked back, she could see the crimson glow of Fang's red eyes staring out at her from the shadows. She met his gaze across the way, and beckoned to him with her tail. His eyes darted over the team, a calculating look stealing over his face. He looked at her again, then stepped out of their hiding place.
All eyes fell on the black and red simian as the team turned to face him. He stood tall, his head held high,......and blood smeared on his white muzzle and incisors. Celty felt a gasp catch in her throat. She'd forgotten to check if he'd cleaned his mouth after tending to her wound, and she hadn't been able to see the blood in the dark.
Transformers activated, weapons lept from their sheaths. Ghost Claws, Electro Magnets, Robo-Fists, Cyber Drills, and Energy Saws. Chiro pushed Celty behind him as he shifted into a fighting stance. "Stay back, Celty!" he ordered, electricity crackling around his fist. "This must be another one of Skeleton King's sick jokes."
Instinctively, Fang displayed his own set of claws. One arm extended towards the team, the other drawn back like he was readying a bow for a kiss shot, his hand slightly touching the corner of his mouth. His lips were parted in a snarl that showed off his large incisors. A low, threatening growl rumbled deep within his chest.
Celty knew what would come next. Fang had been made to kill the Hyper Force, and had been trained to fight each and every member specifically. If they fought, it would be a blood bath. She roughly pushed Chiro's arm out of her way and ran between them, throwing her arms out like a barrier. "Wait, stop!" she exclaimed.
Sparx took a half-step forward, his magnets glowing with charged energy. "Move it, Doll Face!" he shouted, "We're taking this guy down."
"I'm not going anywhere." she declared. "Not until you lower your weapons-all of you!"
Gibson's Cyber Drills whirled, a laser point ready to be fired at each end. "Celty, you're injured, traumatized, and possibly suffering from blood loss." he reasoned, "You don't know what you're saying. His mouth is covered in blood, for the sake of Shuggazoom!"
Unable to take one more arguement, Celty cracked her tail on the ground like a whip. "If he was going to hurt me or any one of us, why would he have let me live this long? He could have easily gotten rid of me just after you landed-he could stab me in the back right now!" she snapped, her tail lashing wildly. She forced herself to take a deep breath and calm down before continuing. "He helped me escape. If it wasn't for him, who knows what Skeleton King would have done to me by now. Besides....." she smiled at the black and red monkey over her shoulder. "He's my friend."
Antauri inconspicuously extended his senses towards the strange simian, but found that he couldn't read him. It was like the black and red monkey was blocking him out with a telepathic shield. Even so, there wasn't a single being in the universe whose emotions the silver monkey couldn't read. He could feel several things rolling through the other simian. Anger, aggression, hatred. But above all else, he found a sense of hope and longing.
Without a word, he deactivated his claws.
"Antauri!" Chiro exclaimed in surprise, "What are you doing?"
"Greeting our new friend." he replied, and walked up to the black and red monkey. He pressed a fist to his palm and gave a shallow bow. "My name is Antauri, second in command of the Hyper Force. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. And you are?"
The other simian gave him a brief once-over, then held out his hand. "I've been designated as F4NG." he said as the silver monkey took his offered hand, then glanced at the female standing a short ways away. "Celty calls me Fang."
Celty came up beside them, a big smile plastered onto her face. "See? I told you." she said, then turned to the others. "Hey! Are you guys just gonna stand there all day, or are ya' going to come over and say hi?"
She was unsurprised when Otto was the first to approach them, dragging Nova along behind him. Celty could tell that Fang was trying to remain calm as the mechanic grabbed his arm and gave it a rough shaking. Thankfully, Nova was much easier on him.
Gibson, Chiro, and Sparx joined them. Each introduced themselves, although the red polit did so grudgingly. Antauri insisted that they return to the robot and leave before they were spotted.
In the sickbay, Gibson lowered his zoom-specs from under his helmet as he inspected the white female's side as she sat on the table. He hummed occasionally to himself, carefully brushing her fur aside with his fingers. "Hmm, interesting. Very interesting indeed." he mused, "It would appear that you were in the first stage of sepsis."
"Sepsis?" she breathed, feeling a bit faint at the mere idea. "You mean buh-blood poisoning?"
The blue simian quickly realized his mistake. "Oh! Uh, there's no cause for alarm." he said, then gestured to the wound. "You see, you were in the first stage of blood poisoning, but somehow it seems to have reversed itself. The only indication of it ever being present is the mild fever, elevated heart rate, and the red discoloring of the blood vessels surrounding the wound."
She shifted slightly to get a little more comfortable on the metal table as she kept her arm raised. "So then, it's gone?" she asked. "What do you think made it go away?"
He held his chin, deep in thought. "I'm not entirely certain." he admitted, sliding his specs back under his helmet. "It truly is puzzling. However just to be on the safe side, I'd like to give you a shot of antibiotics and recommend you sleep with a vasopressor overnight to help raise your low blood pressure."
Celty stiffened. "A vasopressor?" she inquired. "As in with an air mask, forcing gaseous drugs into my lungs? I don't think that's such a good idea, Gibson."
The scientist paused, a syringe half full of medicine in one hand, the bottle he was extracting it from in the other. "Why not?" he asked. "I promise you, the mask won't cause any irritation, and the gas will only be a low dose-"
"That's not it." she cut in quietly. She rubbed her ankles together, her tail swaying behind her as she looked away. "I....kinda have breathing prombles at night."
"You suffer from sleep apnea?" he inquired. "And you never said anything? Celty, sleep apnea can be dangerous-you should have told me about this sooner!"
She rubbed her shoulder nervously, keeping her eyes on anything but the blue scientist. "I didn't say anything, because I didn't want anyone to know." she admitted, her unusually long tail twitching. "If I sleep on my side, it doesn't bother me. So I thought it wouldn't matter if I didn't tell you. I've had it for years anyway, I know how to take care of it."
Gibson opened his mouth to respond, but stopped at her last comment. "Did you just say you've had it for years?" he asked. "You remember having sleep apnea?"
Celty paused, going over what she had just said. She remembered waking up some nights as a human, unable to even remember her face or where she slept, gasping for air after laying on her back. She remembered the terror of first waking up, her lungs burning, fighting to force breath back into her body, the racing of her heart.
Oh yes, she remembered it. All too well.
"Yeah, I've had it for quite a while." she said. "But it's really no big deal, Gibson."
The male sighed, pinching between his eyes. "I can see where this is going." he mumbled, mostly to himself. "Alright, if you promise to tell me every time you have any problems with your sleep apnea, I won't bother you about it unless it becomes a serious risk. Agreed?"
"Agreed." she replied.
He nodded as he pulled the now full syringe free of the bottle and set them aside. "Good," said the scientist, gently grabbing ahold of her arm. Taking a piece of alcohol soaked cotton, he swabbed her skin to sterilize the injection site, and picked up the syringe once more. "Now, deep breath in....." he plunged the needle into the crook of her neck as the female inhaled, then pressed the plunger down with his thumb slowly. "And breathe out." The blue simian withdrew the needle and exchanged it for another cotton swab to clean away the tiny red bead gathering on her skin. "You know, you're one of the best patients I've ever had the pleasure of working on, Celty."
The white simian giggled as he stuck a small bandage on her neck. "Why thank you," she said. "Do you want me to help you clean up?"
Gibson gathered up the cotton, used syringe, and bandage wrapper, tossing them all into the trash. "Oh good heavens no." he said, placing the bottle of antibiotics back into the medicine cabinet. "You need to stay off those feet for a while. I'm surprised you're still walking more or less normally, what with all the cuts on your soles." But he gave her a warm smile. "Although you're offer is most appreciated. Now, go find a place to sit down, and I'll see you at dinner."
Celty suddenly gasped. "Oh my gosh, dinner!" she exclaimed. "I completely forgot!" She slipped off the table, wincing at the soreness in her tender feet. "I gotta hurry and get started."
A tail latched around her waist, stopping her from running out of the room. "Hold on there, young lady." said Gibson. "Nova, Otto, and Chiro are taking care of it. So stay out of the kitchen. Why don't you go find your new friend instead? The two of you could sit down somewhere and talk."
She rolled her eyes with a slight smile at the hidden order behind his words. "Alright, Hal. I get it." she said, "I'll go park it."
He smirked at the playful use of his first name, and removed his tail. "Very good." he said, "Perhaps when you're feeling better, you could give me a hand with another experiment. Interested?"
The white simian held out her hand with a grin. "Always." she said, shaking his hand. "See ya' later Gibson, don't blow anything up without me." She could her him chuckling as she left sickbay behind.