It’s a short chapter, but I think we’re all busy this time of year. Happy Holidays everyone!
No one’s POV
Nikolas and Nato trudged along the sidewalk, both soaked to the bone from their dive in the fountain.
“How far is Cloverfield?” Oscar asked from the head of the group, leading them down the confusing roads of Ridgevalley’s downtown.
“About an hour away,” Nikolas replied, eyeing the back of his metal head.
“By car I’m assuming right? You can’t drive, but I bet I could.”
“Wait you want us to go there?”
“Of course! You made a new friend, I want to meet her! She sounded cool. And I bet you’d want to meet her in person too.” Oscar beamed.
“I just know she lives in Cloverfield not where in Cloverfield.”
“That’s fine! You can just ask her right?”
“Yeah that’s a little stalkerish isn’t it?” Nikolas hesitantly asked.
“You’re the only two people in the world who can astral! I mean, I’m pretty sure that excuses pushiness.” Oscar enthusiastically said, waving his arms around.
“Well I don’t know about the only people. I can’t confirm that. And either way, I have to head to Erin’s.”
“You’re right, we need to get you home before going anywhere. You’re soaked, that’s not good for your health.”
“Ugh no, if I go back to the Dragons I won’t want to go to Erin’s. I need to get this done with. Soaked if need be. Maybe it’ll entice her to make it quick and easy.” Nikolas said with a slight smirk.
“No, no, ridiculous. I’ll go in your place and see what she wanted to tell you while you go dry up.” Oscar proposed.
“I don’t know if she’d actually tell you…”
“Don’t worry I’ll convince her of my goodwill.” Oscar said as they neared a mother and her son. The mother was finding her keys to their apartment.
“Hey, I know those two!” Niko said with a grin.
“Hi Zac! Grocery shopping I see.” Niko greeted with a tint of mockery.
Zac raised his eyebrows. “Hi, soaked I see.”
“Oh is that you Nikolas? You’re completely soaked! It’s not summer yet, you might catch a cold. Come on inside, we can dry your clothes while Zac puts away the groceries.” The woman suddenly said, draping her arm around Niko and leading him inside.
“Great plan! I’ll go see your Aunt for you, see you later Nikolas!” Oscar called out with a clang, before hurrying – as much as he could hurry – to his destination.
Zac stood confused. “What just happened.”
Lyra Strife ushered the boy inside and plopped a pile of clothes into his arms.
“You can borrow some of Zac’s clothes while we toss yours into the dryer,” She said as she led Nikolas into the bathroom.
The teen finally found an opportunity to thank her. As much as he didn’t mind, wet clothes were still highly uncomfortable.
Zac’s mother walked over to help her son put away the groceries.
“Are we taking in strays now?” He asked, glancing at the bathroom door.
“I thought he was your friend?” She smiled, taking the milk from him.
“Well…yeah.” Zac answered a little confused. Why did it feel so odd then, to have Nikolas in the apartment? It’s not like he’d never been here before. He saw his room in astral.
Zac folded up the bag and put it away.
“Could be a great chance to check up on how he’s doing.” Lyra said with a wink, knowing the two boys hadn’t talked since the trial.
The moment the door opened, Lyra rushed over to Nikolas and took his soaked clothes.
“I’ll just pop these into the dryer; there are cookies on the counter if you’re hungry.” She alerted.
Zac’s mother had given Niko some of his baggier clothes, and considering Zac was a little taller and buffer, it showed. Nikolas had rolled the sleeves and the loose pants hung even looser off his waist.
The now dry teen, though his hair still shone a bit, plugged his ear to his watch, shaking it with a worried expression.
“I think I broke it.” Nikolas muttered.
“Doesn’t look like a waterproof watch.” Zac noted. It reeked a little too much of fancy.
“I was just messing around in a fountain, not like I dropped it in a pool.” Nikolas grimaced, twisting the controls.
“What the hell were you doing in a fountain?” Zac frowned.
“Nato thought it was a good idea.” He said, gesturing at the dog that had taken residence on his couch. “Yep, pretty sure it’s done.” Nikolas admitted, before unclipping his watch. “Here watch this for me, will you Nato?” He said, as he tossed it to the pup.
Nato caught it in his teeth and placed it down between his paws before resting his head. Zac became faintly aware that the dog had also gotten wet, which implied their couch was going to stink wet dog for a while.
He was a little busy watching his friend curiously, whose eyes were glued on his now bare wrist.
“So,” They both began at the same time, which had Nikolas burst out laughing and Zac snorting.
“I’ll save us the trouble, I’ll go first.” Nikolas grinned, which had Zac rolling his eyes. “I was just going to ask how you were doing.”
“Me!?” Zac asked, absolutely stunned by the question. “That’s what I was going to ask you. In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t had that much happen in my life.”
“I was just trying to be polite.” Nikolas shrugged, rubbing his wrist.
“Yeah well, how are you doing? I haven’t heard from you since the trial.” Zac said. We were closing in on a week since that now. “I get snippets from the tv and the radio.”
“If you wanted to know so bad, I wasn’t that hard to reach.” Nikolas snorted before regretting it right after. The statement wasn’t really true.
“It’s not like I sat here all the time. I did go check your house – even though I knew you probably weren’t going to go back there.” Zac mumbled loud enough to be heard. “Don’t look at me like that.” He snapped.
“Sorry then, I’ve been getting used to my new bed for now. I did kind of purposefully ignore everyone and that happened to include you. I’m sorry for that.” Nikolas admitted with a soft smile.
“No no, that’s fine, makes sense. You-” Zac was cut off by his mom coming out of their laundry room.
“I put your clothes in the basket, Zac.” She told him. She looked at the untouched cookie jar. “Oh you boys aren’t hungry? This won’t take long, how about you settle down in front of the tv?”
“Niko’s wet dog has soiled the couch.”
“Oh oops, Nato get off, it’s not polite! They’re going to smell your wet stench all over now.”
“Oh it’s no worries.” Zac’s mom said, taking out the air freshener. “I can toss the cushions in the washing machine after. Settle down, I’m making supper. Should I make some for you too Niko?”
“Uh…” Nikolas hesitated.
“We can just make a portion for him and he can take it with him right?” Zac offered, leaving it open for Niko to leave whenever he wanted.
“Sounds like a plan.” Lyra smiled.
The two boys did as they were told and slumped in front of the tv. Zac dug for the remote, switching channels, from commercial to commercial.
Some were disturbing – making fun of supernaturals – and others were painfully boring.
“I thought this show got banned.” Nikolas noted as the children’s show about naturals vs supernaturals came on. It was a show that had gone through a lot of controversy because its target audience was children and its episodes always featured supernaturals as powerful greedy villains. It tended to use past events with known supernatural criminals as a guise to ‘educate’ children on history. It’s only when supernatural extinction became a problem that shows like this one got taken down.
“I hear a lot of stuff like this has been brought back since the trial. They’re saying that the supernatural extinction is all a hoax now.”
“What? How did they come to that conclusion?” Nikolas asked.
Zac opened his mouth to reply, but the channel that followed answered for him.
“-vier Whitelight himself was an oddity that we should have questioned from the start! We were blind to their lies. They just wanted to have us look away as they overtook us again. Supernaturals were never on the verge of extinction. If that was truly the case, witches like Aleccas Keeper and Xavier Whitelight would not be alive today to terrorize our children.”
“You can’t deny that there were reports of children being born natural to supernatural parents. Scientists support a definitive decline in the supernatural population.”
“That’s just an illusion because we’ve categorized supernaturals as either fairies, witches, werewolves or vampires. But that data doesn’t include the mutants with new powers popping up all over town and there is an endless list of casualties caused by this.”
“Just as there is an endless list caused by irrational naturals! Whether supernaturals are going extinct or not, should NOT justify the assaults and the attacks. How can you justify invading a family of werewolves and murdering them in their sleep? Ridgevalley is an influence among the other towns – it shouldn’t be showing them how to destroy itself.”
“It’s called prevention and I think we all need to remember our roots. Have we all forgotten our history? Supernaturals have killed thousands of us in their petty wars. Vampires against fairies. Werewolves against Witches. Witches against witches! Their excessive displays of power have razed down entire towns. People have died directly or indirectly by magic poisoning. Supernaturals are a plague. It’s a good thing that naturals are standing up for themselves. It’s about time we did!”
Zac clicked the tv off, the two boys staring solemnly in front of them. “There’s nothing good on.” He said, slumping further into his seat.
“Not with that propaganda boys.” Lyra agreed. “How about you play your new console game? I didn’t buy it so it could be left untouched.”
Zac’s eyes lit up. “Oh yeah! The new GhostSkate.” He leapt off the couch to flip on the console and grab two remotes. Nato thinking it was a game, leapt around and made an attempt to lick Zac’s face. When he realized the red head had no intention of playing with him, he rolled over to Niko’s feet for a belly rub.
The boys spent the time playing their game with several shouts and curses and apologies to Lyra for the noise. Nato would get extremely immersed in the game and he quickly identified – depending on who was groaning and who was whooping – what events on the screen meant his master was winning.
Nikolas had to shush him from barking however, since the apartment complex technically didn’t allow dogs – not big ones. They could get Lyra and Zac in trouble if Nato made too much noise, and Niko was too grateful for that.
Time passed them by and eventually a horrid static sound emanated from near the door.
Nato jumped up in surprise, but had the conscience not to bark.
Lyra dried her hands from the dish cleaning she’d been doing, and went over to see who’d buzzed them from downstairs.
“IS THERE A NIKOLAS THERE? IS THIS THE RIGHT ONE?”
“Is that Oscar?” The boy looked up.
“I’ve unlocked the door for you, you can come join us.” Lyra spoke, pressing a button.
Moments later, Oscar was knocking on the door.
“Thank you ma’am,” He said as Lyra opened the door for him. Then he turned his attention to Niko, who’d set down his remote.
“It took a lot of work,” Oscar admitted. “But I got your aunt to tell me what she had to say. And…” Oscar shook his head with a nasty arrangement of his metal face. “You’re not going to like it Nikolas. And neither is Nato. And neither do I really. If I had to sum it up, it’s just plain bad news.”
Meanwhile, in Cloverfield
“Nope, nothing in this one either grandma.”
“We’re reaching into archaic records at this point.”
“Could there really be no recorded history of it? Not even a mention of its origins?”
“That’s a possibility, but we’ve still found something haven’t we?”
“But it was just bits and pieces. Nobody’s ever flat out had this power before, and now two of us do. I would’ve liked to learn more, have a guide to astral.” Ashe added in disappointment.
Her grandmother closed the book she had opened. “At the very least you have someone to experiment with now.” Their research wouldn’t get any further with the little they had on hand.
“Yes! I do.” Ashe beamed.
“Alright, let’s put this away for supper.” Grandma said, gathering up the books to put them back in the box.
Ashe got up to help and in the process received a heart attack. “My watch!” She exclaimed, staring agape at her empty wrist. She rapidly began searching the area around her, quickly putting away books to clear more space.
Both her grandparents started to aid her as it became clear the watch had hidden itself very well. “It must’ve fallen off, but…I swear I had it before we began.” She insisted.
Eventually, the fate of the watch was hard to doubt.
“I think its lost hon.” Grandma said, calling the search to a stop.
“Aw, but grandma, it was a gift from you and papa Philip.” Ashe said solemnly. It was a gift they had given her just a few years prior and one she had kept close to her person at all times. Her grandparents had woven an intricate story around watches and their significance – and Ashe had needed that at the time. Her own mind had greatly embellished the gift – it was more than just a watch to her.
Grandma extended her hand to her husband who, without a word, unclasped his own watch and gave it to her. Grandma clipped the watch around her granddaughter’s wrist. “There, you can borrow papa Philip’s for now until we either find your old one or buy you another one.”
Ashlynn’s mouth opened in surprise, before she smiled as sincerely as she could. “Thank you papa Philip.”
Ashe climbed onto the couch to watch tv with her grandpa. As her grandma went to check on the oven, her ears tingled. It kind of felt like someone was attempting to tickle her ear with a feather.
It brought a smile from inside her ribcage to her mouth, and she concentrated as the tingle became a whisper. She closed her eyes and finally she managed to identify the words.
It wasn’t a shout like earlier today. Not like a loud voice echoing in the living room. This time it was just a small whisper and she felt it tug at her astral ability.
“Roger that, 10-4.” She replied softly into thin air. But her voice had a strange echoey tinge to it. She could sense that her words were being carried along a wider distance than they should be.
“Hey!” The voice suddenly spoke, slightly louder. “Good to know I don’t need to shout! Oh yeah it’s-”
“Nikolas yes, I guessed as much.” She chuckled.
“Well you can never be too sure.” She heard him laugh on his end. “I know I’m calling again so quickly, but I came across a worrying tidbit of information. I thought it’d be important to share as quickly as possible.” He declared matter-of-factly.
“You see, in my astral travels, I met this cat. And it had a nasty tendency to transform into this horrible monster that kept trying to kill me in astral. My aunt had a contact who might’ve been able to deal with it, the cat that is, so she took it a few weeks ago now. But I just learned today that the guy went ahead and lost the cat. The risk of you coming into contact with it are probably extremely low, but it’s still something to watch out for!” He explained.
“Thank you for the warning! I’ll be sure to keep an eye out!” Ashe said. “What kind of cat is it?”
“You can’t miss it. It’s a neon green cat.”
“Wow, in that case I doubt I’ll – wait. Neon green? You did say it’s highly improbable…but I think I saw a green cat recently. Right here in Cloverfield! There’s a lot of green here, so it could’ve been just some moving vegetation, but…” Not only that, Ashe also faintly remembered dreaming about a green cat. She wasn’t quite sure of the importance of her nightmares in this situation however.
“That’s not good news. You’ll just have to be very careful in astral. That thing is scary as hell, trust me.”
“I do.” The words came out on their own, and she was surprised to find she did. Something about the red-haired teen encouraged her to trust him. Her first instinct was to do so.
There was a small moment of silence that almost made Ashe wonder if he’d ‘hung up’ on their astral call. Almost – because she could feel something else in the connection they’d established. Though putting it into words wasn’t something she could do just yet, it told her that the silence was in no way negative.
“If I do encounter it, is there any way I can avoid it? Fight it off?” Ashe inquired.
“Not that I know of, your best bet is to get out of astral.”
“Ok, will do.”
“Oh! And, before we…end the call for lack of a better term – it’ll already be easy to recognize, but just so you have a visual…” He picked up again, sensing the conversation coming to an end.
“It’s a big swirling mass of dark green in astral. Like this huge smoky creature with tentacles and glowing eyes.”
“Also sounds hard to miss.”
“I’d be surprised if you did.”
A HUGE thank you to Mpart for building the Cloverfield house for me! You can find it here . Thanks you wonderful you 😀