My little heist had gone well, all things considered. Sure, it had gotten a bit emotional at the end there, when Seraph had shown up with her glowing wings and holier than thou attitude, but a hero was bound to show up during the night.
Regardless of the skill with which I had conducted my theft, I now had my satchel full of money and this briefcase in hand. Speaking of the briefcase, I hefted its deceptively heavy bulk onto my bed and got to work trying to figure out the lock.
The OCP had been very keen to protect whatever was in this thing, so naturally I had to take it. I just hope it was worth all the hours I had spent lugging it through buildings and alleyways as I made my getaway. The damn thing had almost gotten me caught at one point when I hadn’t been fast enough lugging the stupid case across a street. Lucky for me Seraph probably had had her nose in the air and wasn't looking down. Stuck up bitch.
I wasn’t any good at picking locks, something I would need to fix later, but this one was a combination lock anyway. I figured I could try to just force it open, since I had no idea how to figure out this type of lock either. I needed tools anyway. A metal saw or a crowbar, probably both to be honest. Seeing as it was early in the morning, I moved the case to the floor and got into my sleeping clothes. I lay down on my back, and in a move that was becoming automatic, my tail settled on my chest and I held tightly to it.
The next morning I googled a hardware store and dressed in my normal clothing. The trip to the store and back was fairly uneventful, with the exception that I got curious and outright hostile looks everywhere I went. My fox features drawing unwanted attention to me yet again.
Returning at around noon to my decrepit apartment complex with an assortment of generic tools, I got the small metal saw out and got to cutting through the lock on the case. It was hard work, my little arms not suited to the task of manual labour. After an hour and a half and several rest breaks, though, I finally got the lock cut and the case open.
Opening it with care, I was greeted with a handful of strange items. I had been expecting something generic like diamonds or money, maybe documents of some kind. Instead, what I got was a whole lot of handwritten notes on clean office paper and various random pieces of junk. There was a pair of bracer thingies, as well as a few rings and other jewelry. There was cube of stone that had markings on it, and the list goes on.
I lifted up one of the pages and began to scan through it.
The cube appears to display some sort of holographic map when placed on a flat surface and tapped on the uppermost face. The side it is placed on does not seem to change the fact that the top face is the one that activates the map.
Wow, that’s kinda cool, maybe I had something after all. All this stuff must be from the ruins that appeared during the same event that changed me and everyone else.
I read through all the artifacts that I had stolen, finding that a lot of them were relatively useless, such as a ring that made small puffs of air when you touched it.
There was one item that hadn’t been figured out by whoever had classified these items. A cute diamond shaped silver necklace that I thought was actually just nice. I slipped the chain around my neck and carefully fastened the clasp behind my neck. I was a complete novice with this type of thing so it took me a bit to get it closed. I went to the mirror to admire it, and gave a small smile when I saw the little silver piece flashing merrily against my collarbone.
The only artifact I figured I would be using was the pair of bracers. When they were on my forearms a thought would extend two thin bars of metal, reminiscent of tuning forks, over the tops of my hands. The ends supposedly sent a shock through and into the target, stunning them for a short time. It would be perfect for my new trickster fox ways.
Now that I had money again, I had something I needed to do right away. I put everything else away in the case and gathered the rent I owed Mr Slouchy.
I descended the last of the steps and moved around the corner of the building to his office, knocking on the door politely and standing back. It took a while, but eventually he threw the door open with a scowl.
“Who are you? Whaddaya want?” he grumbled irritably.
“Uh, I’m Kalia… from apartment 24?” I said cautiously.
“You ain't the girl in 24, quit fuckin’ with me! You barely even look like her third cousin twice removed or some shit! Get lost and stop wasting my time!” He growled.
“What, no! I am her, I-” I didn’t get a chance to finish my sentence, his door slamming in my face with a puff of dust.
I stared at the door in confusion, my ears flicking in consternation. How had be not recognised me? It’s not like it would be easy to forget a girl with fox ears and a tail after all. What a strange encounter.
I shrugged and walked up to the window of his office. It must have once seated a receptionist behind it, because it had a little slot at the bottom of the window to pass shit through it. These days the window was papered up and there was a stack of envelopes in a cardboard box on the ledge. We were meant to use the envelopes to pay him our rent if he was out, but he got real grumpy if we didn’t hand it to him directly while he was in.
I shrugged, if he was going to pretend he didn’t know me, so what, I’d just give him the money this way. I grabbed a pen out of my bag and wrote my name and apartment number on the front, then stuffed the money I owed him into the envelope, sealing it with a lick. I slipped it through the hole at the bottom of the window and walked back towards the stairs.
As I turned the corner I almost bumped into someone, my fox instincts jerking me back before i walked into whoever it was.
“Sorry! I wasn’t looking,” said Vaughn, the guy I had met alongside Kelly.
“Oh! Uh, Hi Vaughn… Sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going either,” I squeaked. I really didn’t want to interact with any of Kelly’s friends or family.
“Do I know you?” he asked in confusion.
“Uhm… yeah, I’m Kalia… you know that fox girl who you guys helped at the mall like a week ago?” I asked, also in confusion.
“You look nothing like Kalia, I’m not gonna fall for that,” he said with a grimace, “Plus, Kelly’s mom was just telling us how that girl got her killed. I wouldn’t go around saying you’re Kalia if I was you.”
Hearing that I was blamed for Kelly’s death was like a punch to the gut, one that hit so hard it forced tears from my eyes all the way up in my head.
“Oh… you, I, Okay, I’m sorry…” I managed to squeak out before rushing past him and up the stairs away from him.
“Oh whoa, I didn’t mean to…” He trailed off.
I was gone already, rushing back to my apartment. When I had gone two flights of stairs I slowed down, not because I was thinking of going back, but because I felt something warm near my collar bone. I reached up and undid the clasp on my new necklace, bringing it into view to get a good look at it. The thing was oh so faintly glowing with a dull light, and it was warm to the touch.
I heard footsteps behind me and turned to see Vaughn crest the stairs onto the landing. He stopped in shock when he saw me, before his expression soured.
“You!” he exclaimed.
“H-hi..?” I said timidly.
“Why? Why did you get her killed, Kalia? She was so amazing to you! She liked you! What the fuck is wrong with you?” he yelled, taking a step forward.
“I didn’t, it wasn’t me, I-,” I tried to explain.
“No, fuck you!” He said, taking a step forward, “Don’t go pinning this shit on someone else!”
“It was that fucking hero Bastion!” I screamed in frustration and sadness, “He threw that Titanic bastard at Kelly! We were just walking to the store to get the new Pokémon! How the fuck is that my fault? Was I meant to walk up to the two huge muscled dudes with superpowers and ask them to stop smashing each other’s faces in?”
“You’re trying to pin this on Bastion? The guy who’s been saving the city? His powerset isn't capable of vaporising bodies! I was there at the funeral, their family had to bury an empty casket! We know what you-” he yelled back before I surged forward into his personal space.
“Oh really? You know, do you, you fucking shit eating little brat? You were there were you? You were there, soothing Kelly as she bled to death under the wreckage of a car, were you? Her body crushed beyond recognition? You saw that? Because I don’t remember seeing you there, asshole!” I felt myself yell, but as I spoke it descended into a pained whimper, “You have nightmares every night watching her die in different horrible ways, do you? Do you have the image of her dead eyed face burned into your memory?”
He stood there, leaning slightly away from the wild eyed crying fox girl in front of him. He said nothing, just looking at me with a complex series of emotions warring for dominance on his face.
“It’s a fucking tragedy Vaughn, but lay the blame where it actually deserves to go!” I whimpered, fully crying now as I turned to race up the stairs.
“Hey wait!” he called, chasing after me.
I fumbled with my necklace, an inkling of understanding as to its nature in my mind, taking the stairs two at a time, relying on my fox-like agility to carry me up. I got the clasp on just as I got to my floor, and then slowed my walk to a casual pace. I made my way as calmly as possible up to my door, wiping my eyes as I went.
Vaughn arrived panting on the landing and looked around wildly, then turned and met my eyes, “Have you seen another fox girl come up this way? She’s that girl Kalia we talked about.”
I didn’t speak, only shrugged as I opened the door to my apartment. I closed it again as fast as possible when I had made it past the threshold.
I was sat cross legged in the center of my empty living room, staring at the necklace in front of me. It no longer glowed or was warm to the touch, but I now knew what it did. Sorta. It made people think I was a different person. It hadn’t been the most fun way to figure it out, but still, this thing would be useful. With this innocent little necklace, I could keep villain Kalia and civilian Kalia separate in the eyes of the world.
Except I couldn’t call myself Kalia while I was out there flipping the bird to heroes and taking people’s stuff. So I needed a name. Since the world had gone down the crazy comic book route, I needed a villain name. It was kind of funny to be honest, once again I found myself forced to reinvent a part of who I was. I brushed my tail over the necklace, ruining the neat curve I had set the chain in when I placed it on the floor. A villain name…
I could start with the obvious, I was a fox girl, so maybe something fox related? I got my inherited phone out and started googling different names for a fox. I found the world “Vulpine” and liked it, so now I just needed something to change it up from being just the word.
I sat there on the floor browsing the internet for almost two hours before I found my inspiration. I’m going to confess and say I got distracted by all sorts of stuff online while I was trying to come up with the second half of my alter ego’s name. The article that triggered my idea was an article about me.
DASTARDLY TRICKSTER FOILS SERAPH AND GETS AWAY WITH THE MONEY.
Late last evening, an unknown villain broke into the OCP’s Oxlton Office and caused chaos with unknown powers. Sources tell us there were several casualties before the brave hero known as Seraph turned up on the scene. In a daring battle atop the building, the unnamed villain and Seraph did battle. While she was not able to stop the villain from making off with a large sum of money, she was able to drive the thief from the premises. We spoke directly to Seraph, and-
I stopped reading, I didn’t want to hear what the crazy angel bitch had to say, and my mind was already whirring with ideas. The name that tumbled out after the machinery of my imagination was done with it, was Vulptrix. The Vulpine Trickster.
I smiled and fell back onto the floor with a thud. A thud that knocked the good cheer right out of me. It was almost as if my brain didn’t want to feel happy, throwing the recent conversation with Vaughn into my mind in an attempt to keep me feeling depressed.
I needed to get out of this apartment, but I had no idea where to go. I didn’t feel like going out anywhere, but I needed fresh air. Maybe the roof? Good enough.
I climbed my way up slowly up the stairs to the apartment building’s rooftop, lost in thought about what had happened recently. I had escaped crippling emotional weight for all of like, three days before it was replaced by something of a similar intensity. Intensity isn’t really the right word actually, but I couldn’t be bothered to think of one that fit.
I reached the top and sat down heavily upon one of the many old benches that were scattered around the rooftop. Wallowing in my own emotions, I slumped into myself and stared out across the city, thinking about my bleak future. Everyone who has been kind to me is gone.
I don’t know how long it was, but at some point I felt silent tears laying a trail down my soft cheeks. It was something that happened a lot when I found myself this deep in my own thoughts. So when the bench gave a jolt I jumped about an inch into the air.
“You okay there?” I heard a pleasantly deep voice say from beside me.
I looked over, my startled orange eyes wide as I took the man in. It was my stealth test dummy from the previous few days. Wow his eyes were dark. I felt like they’d drag me into them if I wasn’t careful. I remember a line of my favourite movies, in which a character says he’s going to turn on the “smoulder”. Well this man had the smoulder switch permanently turned on. Even his almost-ginger blond hair was rustling in the breeze.
“H-hi… Uh,” I said quietly.
“You’re crying, is everything okay?” he asked earnestly.
“Yeah, no, uh… I don’t know,” I said, my thoughts stumbling over each other.
“That sounds suspiciously like a no to me, but I won’t pry if you don’t want to talk about it. I’ll just sit here and enjoy the view,” he said, leaning against the backrest on the bench.
I gazed at him in consternation, this strange man was just… sitting next to me. I tried to go back to moping, but he got out his book like usual and started reading.
I found myself relaxing in his presence over the course of half an hour, until I was playing with my tail and absently thinking about my past. I wonder what my mother thought, unable to get a hold of me. Would she care? I know my online friends must be missing me terribly now. They actually liked me. I was such a nerd, what kind of a loser only has online friends anyway? This one.
“I see you had some changes during the emergence,” a rumble said from beside me.
“Yeah… I hated it at first, but it grew on me,” I said absently.
He snorted in amusement, “I see what you did there.”
I looked up, my ears cocking in confusion, “Did what, where?”
“The pun, it was good,” he said with a sly smile.
“The pun…?” I asked, realising what he meant mid question with a groan.
“Oh damn, I’m not sure I can associate with you now that I know you liked that pun,” I said, my nose wrinkling as I fought a grin.
“Oh, that’s a damn shame isn’t it,” he shook his head, an unabashed grin on his handsome face.
I rolled my eyes, “It’s time for me to get dinner, I’ll see you later.”
As I got up, he marked his page and sat up as well, “Funny, it’s dinner time for me too.”
“I can imagine so, can’t wait to have my own dinner. You know, on my own, without… really tall guys following me,” I said pointedly.
He raised his hands in acquiescence, “Transmission received.”
Safe in my apartment, connected to the downstairs wifi as usual, I ordered a pizza online. It took surprisingly little time to arrive, and as usual the grease and calories made me a little happier. I couldn’t help wondering what it would have been like with company, though.
Support "Kammi Kettu"
- New Zealand
Bio: You may also know me as Rosilys Inknose. I no longer post on this website, if you wish to find the continuation of my stories, or just the ones I haven't posted here, you can find me under Quietvalerie on scribblehub and Rosilys Inknose on tgstorytime.