Image by Jenova87.
Rune Lake, New Berengaria, Rune Lake High School
It was the end of classes for the day at the high school. Several students were around saying their goodbyes to their classmates, preparing to walk home, or getting ready for club activities. Adell, Mitani, Kaoru, Jaze, and Toma sat around a table outside the school discussing their plans for the rest of the day.
Kaoru: So, it's meet the parents day, eh?
Jaze: I guess so. First, we're going over to the Tokkastrian embassy to see his dad. After that, we're going over to my parents house to have dinner and scare the hell out of my dad.
Jaze smiled widely in anticipation of this event. The others wondered how he was going to fare with the first part of the plan.
Adell: The Tokkastrian embassy is going to be full of... well... rabbits. You're okay with that?
Jaze: Um... actually, no. I guess I can get through it...
Kaoru: After three weeks, I'm only now getting used to seeing you two together.
Jaze: And why wouldn't we be together?
After three weeks of saying that, the others weren't sure if he was kidding anymore. Before they had time to inquire further, however, something else happened.
An explosion coupled with the sound of tinkling glass reverberated throughout the neighborhood. Very soon thereafter, they could see dusty, grey smoke rising from one of the windows of the annex building. Almost immediately thereafter, the fire alarm sounded, its high-pitched shriek penetrating what had previously been a peaceful day.
Toma was far more agitated than the rest of them. He looked around, expecting to see signs of panic elsewhere, but most people seemed to be going about their business as usual, aside from the steady stream of students calmly streaming out of the annex building.
Toma: What was that?
Mitani: Probably Artemis again. He usually blows something up at least once a month. Actually, he and that girlfriend of his.
Toma: I've never heard of him. Does he go to this school?
Adell: Yeah. He's a grade lower than us, but he spends most of his time in the science lab.
Jaze: Listen carefully and you can hear the argument!
For a moment, everyone went silent and nothing could be heard aside from the wind rustling the leaves in the trees and the distant sound of the fire alarm in the building. It wasn't long until they could hear shouting noises over the fire alarm and the now-arriving fire trucks. At first, it was impossible to make out what was being said, but the argument grew progressively louder and louder. They were coming in their direction, both of them brushing the last bits of soot out of their hair.
Artemis: ...don't push ANYTHING! What is it with you? I tell you not to push anything and you find the biggest, shiniest button and push it!
Johanna: Quit being a jerk! It was an accident!
Artemis: An accident is when you trip and fall! You pushed that button on purpose! What is it with you and shiny things anyway? I should dissect that defective brain of yours and FIND OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT!
The entire campus was staring at the two of them as they walked down the street arguing. Artemis walked quickly in front of Johanna, trying to get away from her, but still she followed.
Adell: Charming couple.
Kaoru: Oh yeah, you haven't actually witnessed one of their fights before, have you? They're legendary.
Jaze: Yeah, but this time they're coming this way.
All of them turned to look. Artemis and Johanna were indeed coming directly towards them, still yelling at each other loudly enough to get the attention of everyone in the plaza. They waited for Artemis to turn and go off in another direction, but he didn't. He walked briskly up to their table and helped himself to a seat. Johanna stood defiantly behind him with a scowl on her face.
Artemis: Mind if I sit with you guys?
Mitani: Seems you just did.
Johanna: I'm still talking to you, cretin!
Artemis: You guys know Johanna, my ex-girlfriend?
It was hard to miss the emphasis on the "ex." They waved at her awkwardly, though she took no notice. Instead she continued to stare at Artemis as though attempting to bore a hole into his head with her eyes.
But that was not the most important thing they were thinking about.
Everyone except Toma were putting the pieces together in their head. They knew very well what happened the last time a nekohuman came into contact with a tokki. The four of them were in dire anticipation of when the fun would begin. They tried not to blink for fear of missing even a fraction of a second of the show that was sure to commence shortly.
Artemis: My miniature particle collider is ruined thanks to Klutzy the Wonder Doofus over here.
Artemis jabbed his finger behind him at Johanna.
Artemis: So, I was wondering what you guys were doing today?
None of them spoke. Toma sat expressionless but the others looked back and forth between Artemis and Toma in gleeful anticipation.
Artemis: What's wrong with you people? I can install some cybernetic vocal cords if you've lost the ability to speak!
Mitani: Artemis, I don't think you've met Toma? He's an exchange student.
Artemis: Hello Toma.
Still nothing, aside from the slightly befuddled look on Artemis'sface.
Kaoru: He's a rabbit.
Artemis: Hello rabbit.
Artemis looked around at all of them. He didn't seem to understand that there was something to this "rabbit" thing.
Jaze: That doesn't surprise you?
Artemis: Of course not! Why would it? On the other hand...
They were sure he got it now. It just took a bit of time for it to sink in. That must have been it.
But they were disappointed. Artemis's face split into a wide grin. To everyone's surprise he suddenly crawled up onto the table and slithered up to Toma and even he was wide-eyed in surprise. Jaze grabbed his arm and held it tightly, sending the signal as clear as he could: MINE!
Artemis: Oo, now I get it! I see why you find him fascinating!
Artemis grabbed Toma's ears and started examining them. He pinched and rubbed them and studied them less than an inch from his nose. They expected Toma to get angry, but he appeared to be almost enjoying it, even tilting his head so that Artemis could study them more easily.
Artemis: Oh yes! Good thickness here. I could run leads up the sides. Take out the cartilage. Yes, the cartilage would have to go. Not necessary. Some good, stiff leads would do the same job.
Artemis shifted on the table, going from all-fours to cross-legged. He pulled the tip of Toma's right ear down and examined it too, pinching and rubbing again, getting more and more excited with each passing second. His voice was rising almost to a fever pitch.
Artemis: The natural parabolic shape here would make an excellent receiver. All I'd need is a chip implanted in your brain to translate the signals into something you could process!
Artemis pointed Toma's ears towards the sky, as though he were trying to get a signal, with a total disregard to the fact that they were still attached to his head. Still, Toma didn't seem to mind much.
Mitani: I think he's drooling.
Artemis released Toma's ears and sat up straight on the table, still cross-legged.
Artemis: MWA HA HA HA HA!!! You'd make an excellent sub-space signal transceiver.
Toma smiled a little.
Toma: I like him.
Jaze let go of Toma's arm and, in a fit of jealousy, threw his arms around his chest instead.
Jaze: You are not going to experiment on my boyfriend!
Artemis: Don't get your tail in a twist. It's only minor surgery.
Jaze glared at Artemis with gritted teeth.
Johanna: Stop ignoring me! We're not done talking yet!
Artemis: You're still here? Say, after I'm done with him, I'll go ahead and modify your body to make you shoot missiles from your cooch!
Johanna: That's it! I've had enough of you!
Artemis: MWA HA HA HA!!! It would suit your personality!
Johanna stomped around the table. Everyone thought she was going to either leave or punch Artemis in the face, but instead she circled around until she came to Kaoru. She grabbed him by his shirt collar and yanked him up until he was barely 2 inches from her face.
Johanna: You! You're the straight guy in this freak show, right?
Kaoru: Uh... yeah?
Johanna plunged her lips onto his and kissed him aggressively. Kaoru struggled, but she was much stronger than she looked.
Johanna: Starting right now, you're my new boyfriend! Got it?
Kaoru: Um... okay...
All city images from SimCity 4.