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Terran's Ring


by child_dragon

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The blue Zafara didn't consider himself particularly special or unique in any way. There was nothing notable about him. He was just an average blue Zafara, short and stocky with the royal blue fur and floppy ears of his kind. Terran was his name, and he had no deep secrets, mysterious past, or mystical powers. All he had was a ring and how he made use of it.

      When he was younger he had lived on Mystery Island for several years. Eventually he found reason to leave and returned to the mainland of Neopia, settling down in the most congested part of Neopia Central possible. He found himself a small apartment that rested just above a storefront, which he also rented for his own. Terran's Original Oil Paintings, in which he sold his artwork for modest prices. It was a decent life, a simple one where he sat around in the store during the day with his pots arrayed around his feet and the drying canvases up on the walls for any who would care to peruse his wares. Sometimes people would ask him about them, and sometimes they'd nose a bit further and inquire about the ring that he wore on a long silver chain around his neck. He'd tell them it was just a heirloom and they'd leave it at that - a small golden thing with a green stone and minute wings sprouting off the band - interesting, but nothing special.

      Terran did not consider himself brave or anything of the sorts. Yet it seemed he'd have to do something, as things could not continue in the way they were. Three shops had been broken into that week alone and now, finally, he had an idea of where the thieves were hiding out. It was a simple matter, he'd heard them talking while gallivanting around on the rooftops the previous night. He loved this neighborhood, loved the people in it, and although he wasn't a hero or anything of the sorts, he had at least the means to act.

      In a locked drawer of the counter was his green sticky hand. He didn't use it to battle, no, he had his powerful hind legs and athletic abilities for that. The sticky hand served an entirely different purpose altogether.

      He locked his shop up behind him, jiggling the handle a couple times to make sure it was properly fastened. Then, hunching his shoulders, he slipped around the brick building into the alleyway. It was dank in there, littered with some flyers that the wind had torn away and deposited in the lingering puddles from yesterday's rain. Terran lifted his head to stare up the steep wall, up past the brick to the narrow strip of sky that showed the vague stars and the silver glow of the moon. Slowly, he exhaled, reminded himself that this was nothing different from other nights and that even heroes start as normal people, and slipped the ring off the chain. For a moment he rolled it in his palm until finally he slipped it over the finger of his right hand. Then, carefully sliding his feet instead of walking, he sidled up against the wall and placed his fingertips on it.

      He jumped. It was like he was flying, his hands and feet simply propelling him up the wall. He could have just been walking on all fours, for all the effect that gravity had on him. The bricks flew under his fingers and then he cleared the wall, sailing up into the sky, defying all the laws of gravity. Acceleration is 9.8 meters per second squared, but that only applies to a creature that has mass. And at the moment, with the ring on his finger, he had no weight and therefore no force. He twisted, flinging the green sticky hand towards the rooftop where it hit with a satisfying splat. A jerk, and his momentum was reversed, pulling him towards the roof where he landed on his knees. The ring came off his finger and he stayed put, his weight returned to him and keeping him solidly on the ground.

      He had found the ring in Mystery Island and it was one of the reasons he returned to Neopia Central. After all, a ring of this power should surely attract attention, especially in the land where it was known. Here, no one knew of it and even if they did, surely it didn't belong to the quiet painter in that small shop near the corner.

      The warehouse was just a couple blocks down. He easily traversed the city, having done so many nights before, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, slipping on the ring to rid himself of his weight as needed. In no time he stood on the roof of the warehouse itself, crouched at the very edge of the corrugated metal, the wind blowing his ears behind him. A heroic scene, if anyone was watching.

      Below him was an open window, the only one propped open to the night air in a long row of them, just below the roof. Surely no one could slip through there, not at the angle it was at, and surely no one could manage the fall afterwards to the barren concrete floor of the warehouse. Terran smiled and flipped over the edge of the roof, sliding the ring on once more and gripping the windowsill to hover there, his feet resting on thin air. The slight wind attempted to tear him away but his muscles were used to holding him still while weightless. He just needed an anchor, or his sticky hand.

      Below him were three pets, standing in a circle and talking in muted voices. They wore dark clothing that blended with the shadows of the streets. A single lantern cast harsh light on the trio, revealing them to be a Scorchio, a Kacheek, and a Grarrl. Terran took a deep breath and steeled himself, readying the sticky hand in his left paw. He'd have to be fast and use this ring for all it was worth. All this time of practicing with it for the sheer joy of the freedom it allowed had better help him now. Otherwise, he wouldn't stand a chance.

      Like anyone else, Terran was not without fear. There was always hesitation when about to do something drastic and dangerous. Like jumping off a cliff into the water, Terran's mind found a dozen reasons on why he should back out, how it would be prudent to do so. But he remembered his neighbor crying after discovering the break-in earlier this week and he realized he couldn't hesitate a second longer. If he did, he'd back away and nothing would be resolved, aside from his cowardice. Time to step over the edge.

      He flung himself into the room, snapping his hind legs out to push off the ledge and propel him downwards towards the thieves, who never heard him coming. He hit the Scorchio and the momentum of his leap threw them both to the ground. Terran flew back up, rebounding in his weightlessness, and he snapped out the sticky hand. It wrapped around the neck of the Grarrl and he pulled, toppling the pet forwards and crashing them both together. Terran was ready though, his hind legs up and as the two fell into each other, he kicked, catching the Grarrl squarely in the throat. Then he twirled to face the third pet as he flew back again, only to feel claws close around his tail.

      "Mighty fancy there," the Scorchio growled, having picked himself up from the ground. "Nifty levitation tricks. Too bad you don't weigh a thing now."

      Terran let out a cry of fear as the Scorchio spun, swinging him like a sack with his tail. Then, with all his strength, the Scorchio brought Terran up over his head and onto the ground. The Zafara knew physics, he had studied them closely upon finding the ring. And although he didn't have any weight himself, the momentum and force added by the Scorchio's movements was more then enough to make up for that.

      There was a sickening snap and pain flooded through Terran's chest, blinding him and sending him careening on the verge of fainting, red filling his vision. He was dimly aware of being held to the ground, the added pressure of a clawed foot increasing the pain in his chest, hands pulling his wrists behind his back and holding them there. His ribs. They had to be broken. He gagged and desperately tried to clear his mind of the haze as voices floated in and out of his mind above him.

      "…another wanna-be hero," one of them laughed, "Don't think he'll ever try this again. Want a hit on him as revenge?"

      "Sure, stand him up for me. Bet I can break more than just a couple ribs."

      He was pulled to his feet and everything fell into focus, sharp and clear in his mind as his reflexes took the opportunity that had been given. The Kacheek standing off to the side watching. The Scorchio pining his arms behind his back. And the Grarrl's fist headed for his face. But they were used to fighting pets that had mass, had something more than just utter weightlessness to them. And the Scorchio had pulled just a bit too hard, given the correct amount of strength necessary for getting a normal pet to their feet. Terran was a bit different though.

      He shoved with his hind legs, tips just brushing the ground but it was enough. The Scorchio realized his mistake, but it was far too late, for Terran had twisted his arms using the Scorchio's grasp as an anchor, and flipped himself up over the pet's head. There was a look of supreme shock on both their faces as the Grarrl's fist found itself unable to halt in mid-motion. It hit the Scorchio on the jaw and the pet crumpled to the ground.

      Gasping for breath through his injured ribs Terran floated a couple feet above the ground, drifting slowly away from them. He smiled and beckoned at the two who glanced at their fallen comrade, then back at him.

      "I'm not a hero," he chided, "Just a normal pet with a bit of an advantage. And you're just ordinary thieves."

      They charged him and he flung out the sticky hand, catching it on a spot just between the two. As he flew past them, he turned sideways and kicked, sending the Kacheek flying to the side and altering his own path to bodily collide him with the Grarrl. The two fell to the ground and Terran drew back his fist for a solid punch to the Grarrl's head. It smashed back against the ground and the pet was still.

      One left. Terran turned, on all fours and barely staying on the ground, facing the Kacheek which was groggily picking himself up. Skittering along the ground, repeating his maneuver with the vertical wall from earlier, Terran propelled himself at this last combatant, tumbling them both head over heels until the Zafara flipped him away and into the wall. The Kacheek hit and slid to a crumpled heap at the bottom. Then, Terran slipped the ring off his finger and his weight returned, sliding him along the ground to rest on his side.

      He didn't move for the longest time. The pain in his chest had returned full-force now that the adrenaline was wearing down in his system. As he rolled onto his back, a groan escaped his lips. Two, maybe three ribs broken or cracked. He'd have to get them looked at by someone. His knuckles hurt from where he had punched the Grarrl and his tail ached from when the Scorchio had grabbed him. At the moment he didn't feel very heroic, not even with the unconscious bodies of the robbers around him. Heroes would get up and dust themselves off, ready for another battle. But Terran had always admitted that he wasn't anything special. Maybe a bit braver or graceful than average, but not by much. And so he had no trouble with just laying there, letting the pain slowly dim to bearable levels, let his breathing slow to normal and his mind recover from the shock of what had just happened.

      The next day, he was at his easel as he always was, a brush in his hand and his ring around his neck. There were bandages wrapped about his chest, tightly binding his movements so that his ribs would heal correctly. The doctor hadn't even asked how he had been injured. As the bell on the door jangled, Terran peered around his latest painting to greet the visitor. It was someone who knew him, an Aisha, and she shot him a curious glance.

      "Fell down the stairs," he said with a shrug, and she nodded and made her way over to study his work in progress.

      "Looks nice," she commented, and then returned her attention back to the other paintings.

      Yes, it would be a nice painting. Poised at just the right moment, a Zafara leaping off the edge of a cliff in wild abandon, the water far below his paws. Just the right snapshot in time - that point of no return where things changed far beyond the control of the person taking the jump. Terran set his brush down and stared at the painting, one hand unconsciously rising to the ring that hung on its chain, fingers brushing the bandages in the process. Surely things would change now that he had taken that first dive, just a little. Just enough to keep things interesting, if he kept his courage strong. A smile spread across his chest and he sighed, wincing as the movement reminded him of his injury. But it didn't stop the smile, and it didn't stop the brush from returning to his hand for another pattern of strokes on the canvas. Just Terran - just the Zafara painter and owner of the Ring of Weightlessness. That's all.

The End

 
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