A House Divided Cannot Stand: Part Two
Lola slapped the newspaper down onto the coffee table. She knocked a cold mug of tea off the edge and it shattered on the floor.
"You're what?" she shouted.
"That's ridiculous!" Nes exclaimed, the smug grin abruptly slipping off his face. The red lights of his eyes brightened and narrowed.
"I've had enough," Dragon repeated coldly, folding her arms and glaring at them both. "I've warned you a thousand times. Maybe if you'd listened to me, this wouldn't be happening."
"You can't abandon Zeru!" Lola yelled, leaping to her feet and striding over to Dragon. Dragon didn't move, but a hint of worry entered her expression.
"She's our family," Nes said sharply, standing up to stand on Dragon's other side. His metal casing clanked threateningly as he moved.
There was a loud thud and the sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs. Ben burst back into the sitting room, paws smouldering where he touched the floor, a wild look on his face. He was followed closely by a small mutant Aisha. Moondatta gasped when she saw everyone gathered in the sitting room.
"Tell me I just heard that wrong," Ben said warningly. Lola folded her arms and glared at Dragon.
"It wasn't, she really said it!" Lola said. "She wants to abandon Zeru!"
"You can't do that!" Moondatta said anxiously. Ben stepped forwards and built himself up to his full height, towering over Dragon. He frowned at her darkly.
"Tell me you're joking," Ben said. Dragon took a step back but shook her head furiously, her angry glare not wavering. Ben growled and raised his voice. "We're a family, you can't just—"
"That's enough!" The bottle of grog flew across the sitting room and smashed against the wall behind Dragon. They paused and turned around to see Zeru standing, a furious snarl on her face. She took a step forward and pointed at them threateningly. Her paw was shaking.
"She can very well abandon me if she wants," Zeru said, voice shaking as she fought to remain calm. Her tail twitched and her ears were pinned straight back against her head. "She's the owner. But I'm not gonna sit roun' and wait fer it – I'm leavin'."
"No, you're—" Dragon started. Zeru whirled around again.
"Well then try and stop me!" she thundered. Anger sparked in her eyes and she clenched her paws into fists. The tall Gelert kicked the table, knocking it over completely, and strode into the kitchen. The smash of broken glass echoed into the sitting room and the door slammed.
Dragon gritted her teeth and dug her fingers into the material of her jacket.
"Nicely handled," Lola muttered. Dragon looked at her and noticed for the first time the furious scowl on the Yurble's face. "I'm out of here."
"Where do you think you're going?" Dragon snarled as Lola paced towards the door. She didn't reply and Dragon rounded on her angrily. "Get back here right now!"
"I will when Zeru does!" Lola yelled. She yanked the door open and was halfway out of the house when she turned back. "Or why don't you just abandon me, too?"
The slam of the door made the walls tremor slightly. Dragon was quiet for a moment before turning to the rest of her pets. She was taken aback by the hostile expressions on their faces.
"What?" Dragon asked, frowning.
"Don't even start," Ben said, shaking his head. Without saying anything else he went upstairs. The others followed and Dragon was left standing downstairs, stewing in her own anger and wondering how she was supposed to get rid of Zeru now.
"So where is she now?" Tenorikumma asked as she sat down at the table. Ben sighed and rubbed his face with his paw.
"No idea," he said, taking the coffee from her with a grateful nod. He took a long drink and licked his lips. "She's had enough time to get halfway around the world by now. Lola hasn't come back, either, and Fyora knows what she gets up to when she's angry."
"Went to arrest some people, maybe?" Tenori suggested, shrugging. Ben groaned and put his face in his paws.
"This whole thing is a mess," he muttered. Tenori patted him on the shoulder comfortingly.
"Cheer up," the blue Lupe said. "I'm sure you'll all be over it soon and will go back to being the completely dysfunctional family you were beforehand."
"Right," Ben said, not believing her at all. "Of course. Soon."
Tenori watched him as she took a sip of her coffee. The Kougra looked as if he hadn't slept all night. With what Tenori had heard of last night's events, she wasn't surprised. All of the Soul pets were extremely fond of each other, for reasons which Tenori couldn't quite discern – they weren't a very friendly bunch at the best of times, and they were all so different that they frequently clashed. She had to be honest, though, she had never seen a clash as big as this one.
"Hey," Tenori said after a while, "you want to go out for breakfast?"
"Sorry," Ben said, abruptly standing up. He turned away, hiding his face from Tenori. She watched in interest as he walked quickly out of the kitchen. "I've got some things I need to do."
Tenori shrugged as she sat back and drank her coffee. If anyone asked her – which they didn't, they never did – well, she, for one, was glad that Zeru was gone.
Meanwhile, Ben gulped down the rest of the coffee and hurried upstairs. He deposited the empty mug somewhere along the way and headed into his room, pulling out a rucksack and starting to pack. Clothes, those were important; he might need a notebook too. Finally, he opened his wardrobe and shoved aside the clothes until he reached the safe built into the back. Inside were all of his private neopoints, and he took them all now. He would need them.
With everything he needed packed safely in the bag, Ben headed across the hallway into his sister's bedroom. He wasn't quite sure he wanted to know what Lola kept in her room, but she would need some things, too, and Ben wasn't planning on coming back to the house in a hurry. He wasn't planning on going back into Lola's room in a hurry, either, because what he found in the Yurble's room was quite frankly disturbing.
Ben was careful as he went downstairs, trying to make as little noise as possible. It was still early; most of the family would still be in bed, and as long as he didn't wake them they wouldn't notice him leaving. He opened the door as quietly as he could and stepped outside, closing it behind him softly. He turned around and came face to face with a tall robot Ruki. Ben yelped and flinched back.
"Going somewhere?" Nes asked, folding his arms and raising his eyebrow. Ben recovered and shook his head.
"Of course not," he lied. "What gives you that idea?"
"Yeah, well," Nes said, smirking. "While you were packing, I found them. Let's go."
Ben grinned and shook his head. Nes might think himself awesome, but sometimes Ben thought he had good reason to.
"Tatsu!" Moondatta wailed as her older half-sister walked into the room. The red Eyrie took one look at Moondatta and hurried towards her, putting her arms around her. Moondatta buried her face into Tatsu's shirt and sobbed onto the Eyrie's shoulder.
"Shh, calm down," Tatsu said, patting Moondatta's shoulder. "It's alright, there's no need to cry. Shh, shhh."
"It's all s-so h-h-horrible!" Moondatta sobbed. "E-everyone's fighting. Half of the family has already d-disappeared!"
"You don't need to cry," Tatsu repeated gently. "We'll work it out. It isn't really as bad as you think."
"What do you mean, it's not that bad?" Moondatta mumbled. "Of course it is..."
"Alright, so it might be," Tatsu said, shrugging. "But it's nothing we can't handle. We're the Souls, remember? We're the awesomest family in Meridell. We can work this out."
"It's worse than Kreludor," Moondatta said, sniffling. Tatsu clicked her beak in admonishment.
"Hey now, nothing's worse than Kreludor," she said. She gently pushed Moondatta back and sat her upright again. "And if we can get out of that, which we did, we can get out of this too. But not if we keep crying, alright?"
"Yes, alright," Moondatta said in a small voice. She ducked her head. "I'm sorry."
"It's fine, silly, don't apologise," Tatsu said, shaking her head. "Come on, now. Dry those tears, and let's get back that reckless Soul family abandon, yep?"
"Yep," Moondatta said with a slight smile.
"Now, how about we go and see who's left and start plot—I mean, planning, to see what we can do to fix this thing, huh?" The red Eyrie grinned at her. Moondatta nodded determinedly, already embarrassed about her outburst. Tatsu grinned and ruffled Moondatta's hair. "I'm going to go and check on Dragon, see what she's up to."
"I think she's still in bed," Moondatta said.
"It's two in the afternoon," Tatsu said flatly. Moondatta nodded.
"Yeah," she said, nodding. They were quiet for a moment, shaking their heads in disappointment.
"Right, well," Tatsu said finally, standing up again. "In the garden in five?"
"Yeah." The Aisha nodded. They stood up and stepped out into the hallway, parting ways.
Five minutes later, Moondatta stepped out of the back door and into the garden. The sun was shining brightly and birds chirped in the trees; it was hard to believe that such a beautiful day was really such a bad one.
At the bottom of the garden, in the hammock slung between the trees, a red Bori was already stretched out in the shade. He rocked the hammock slightly with his paw, throwing an apple up and down rhythmically. Tatsu was hanging upside down in the tree, stretching her wings and feeling the stiff breeze ruffle her feathers. Tenori sat behind one of the trees, her blue Lupe tail rustling through the grass as she flicked it back and forth. Moonie held out the tray full of drinks.
"Here," she said, looking at the assembled pets. Only three of them. She felt her mouth twist down in disappointment when she realised that they made up less than half of the family.
"Thanks," Pazu said, grabbing a glass as Moondatta walked past. He sipped the juice and sighed happily. Moondatta set the tray on the grass and sat down. "So, what now?"
"We need to get the others back, obviously," Tatsu said. Pazu nodded.
"Oh, right, of course," he said, "like that's an entirely possible thing to do."
"Of course it is!" Moondatta said. "It's got to be possible somehow."
"What we really need," Tatsu said thoughtfully, "is a way of making Dragon give up on the abandonment scheme. She can't possibly know what it's like in the Pound, otherwise she wouldn't even think of letting them have Zeru."
"She's never been serious about it before; maybe she didn't even mean it?" Moondatta asked hopefully.
"Unlikely," Pazu said. "I've never seen her so angry. And this morning she didn't seem to have changed her mind."
"We'll need to find some way of making Zeru forgive Dragon, too," Tatsu continued. "To be honest, I think she'll be a lot harder to get around than Dragon. Zeru was furious. I don't think she'll be willing to hug and make up."
"She does have all of those abandonment issues," Pazu acknowledged. "You know, from the first time Dragon left her."
"But they love each other really, right?" Moondatta said. "It can't be that hard. Maybe we could just tell them that Dragon was overreacting, and they'll come back home. The others, at least, even if Zeru takes a little longer."
"Failing that, we can just force them back!" Tatsu said cheerfully, already looking forward to using several threats of destroying rooms and jelly fights to force her family into cooperating again.
"They've got Zeru, Lola, and Ben," Pazu pointed out. "That's like the unbeatable team."
"Not to mention Nesmachintiyi," Tenori piped up. "When he puts his mind to it, he can really get things done."
"But we've got you," Moondatta said to Pazu. She paused for a moment. "And me, I suppose. Sorry, Tats. Tenori, too, you're pretty handy, if I may say that."
"No," Tenori said. The others looked at her in surprise. "I mean, sure, call me that, but you don't 'have' me. I'm staying out of this."
"What?" Moondatta said in dismay.
"Why?" Tatsu demanded, swinging up to sit upright on the tree branch.
"I don't take sides," the blue Lupe said, flicking her ear lazily. She shrugged. "If you want to save your sister, get her back yourself. Better still, just let Dragon abandon her. Not like she's around that often anyway."
"But she's our family!" Pazu exclaimed. Tenori nodded.
"Yeah, but I'm not," she said and stood up. The others watched in shock as she started walking back to the house, waving to them over her shoulder. "Have fun! I'm going to find some food."
To be continued...