"Bebe! It's almost time to go!" an adult Blumaroo called
from the shore. "You need to finish playing and come on back here!"
"Just five more minutes?!" the baby Blumaroo
called back from where she was playing in the surf. The sun was going down,
but she had been having such a wonderful time at the beach that she couldn't
imagine going home now.
"A little longer than that, but then we have
to go," the adult said, bouncing over and smiling at the baby. "So start gathering
up your things." With that, the adult bounced back to where several other Blumaroos
were packing up beach blankets and various other items.
Bebe was upset. She crawled closer to the surf
and splashed in it indignantly. If she didn't want to go home, then she wouldn't
go. And it was as simple as that. Maybe if she crawled far enough out, she would
grow fins like a Maraquan Blumaroo, and be able to just swim away and stay at
the beach forever. The water lapped up over her back, but she held her head
out of the water.
She was unaware of the eyes that watched from
beneath the surf. Hungry, golden eyes stared up at her.
The Jetsam usually went after smaller morsels
such as Pepitos, or Ghotis, but this could be too good of a chance to pass up.
His tail moved him slowly through the shallow water, while his fins, a set fore
and aft, dragged him slowly over the sandy bottom. His dorsal fin cut up out
of the water as he approached the distracted Baby Blumaroo. His long, waterproof
cape trailed behind him in the water, his tuxedo-like clothing that went with
the cape melded to the form of his body so as not to hinder his swimming. In
the rising light of Kreludor, two sharp fangs jutting out of the Jetsam's mouth
gleamed. He was a Halloween Jetsam.
A Vampire Jetsam.
Moving toward the Baby Blumaroo, suddenly he
paused. A shudder ran through him from head to tail, and his menacing golden
eyes closed for a moment. When they reopened, something other than hunger could
be seen in the depths. An emotion that not many Jetsams seemed to possess; concern.
Pushing himself up out of the water with his
front fins, he addressed the Baby Blumaroo sitting in the surf dejectedly. "Why
so down, young one?"
Bebe started, and in her haste to get away from
the huge, intimidating creature next to her, she managed to backpedal into an
oncoming wave. With a squeak, she was bowled completely over and sent tumbling
in the surf. And when the wave receded, the baby was swept out to sea with it.
The Jetsam didn't even take time to think of
what he was doing. He turned, pushing off with a powerful shove from all four
flippers and a kick of his tail, and he powered through the waves after the
baby. In the water, he was in his natural element. The fins, no longer clumsily
being used as feet, steered him surely toward his goal. His tail pumped up,
down, up, down in a steady rhythm, pushing him ever closer to the struggling
Bebe was terrified. She struggled and swam as
best she could, but her body was built for land, and she was barely old enough
to be hopping instead of crawling, and certainly didn't know how to swim properly
yet. The sea she'd longed for the chance to stay in was suddenly her worst enemy.
She tried to scream, but her voice was muffled by the sound of the waves, and
her mouth filled with salt water when she tried to call for her family.
Suddenly, with a suction so powerful Bebe didn't
have time to register what was happening, she was pulled down beneath the waves.
She wanted to scream again, but she knew if she swallowed more water the results
wouldn't be good. The lifeguard had warned her family about these odd places
in the water earlier today. He'd called them 'rip tides'. At the time, Bebe
had found the thought that something could rip the tides funny. Now that she
was actually IN one, it didn't seem near as hilarious.
Then, faster than she had been sucked down, she
was suddenly shooting back up. Something was behind her, pushing her, moving
so amazingly fast that she barely had time to turn and grab onto the large dorsal
fin atop its head before she was swept clean out of the water.
Take a breath, little one, a voice seemed
to say in her head as whatever she was riding leapt high out of the water. And
hold on tight!
Bebe didn't pause to question the voice, but
drew in a deep breath just before they crashed down into the sea again. Her
arms tightened around the dorsal fin. Two more times they leapt from the water,
and each time she felt, rather than heard, a voice reminding her to breathe.
Then, suddenly, much quicker than the time it had taken for her to be swept
out to sea, they were suddenly crawling back out of the shadows.
The elegant creature's movements beneath her
became jerky and choppy as it pulled itself along through the shallow water.
Bebe, however, had never been happier to see the sandy shore. Still, she clung
to her savior's fin despite the fact that she was completely out of the water
now, riding atop his head.
The Jetsam dragged himself almost all the way
up onto the beach before lowering his head. "You can get down now, little one.
Bebe shivered in the cold moonlight, and slowly
slid down the Jetsam's sloping forehead until her paws touched the sand again.
Now she blinked up to look her rescuer in the face, and was surprised to see
that it was the same Jetsam who's appearance had startled her so to begin with.
"T-thank you, M-mister Jetsam," she stuttered, though more from cold than from
fear. He had saved her, after all. There was no reason to be afraid of him despite
his fearsome looks.
The Jetsam nodded, and rested a fin on Bebe's
back for a moment. "You're welcome, little one. Care to tell me what you were
so upset about before?"
Bebe nodded. "My name's Bebe," she said softly.
"And my family took me to the beach for the first time today." She grinned.
"I'm gonna be Maraquan when I grow up."
The Jetsam smiled. "A pleasure to meet you, Bebe.
I'm Adsulto." He tilted his head for a moment. "Maraquan, hmm? That's where
I'm from. But that doesn't tell me why you seemed so upset earlier."
Bebe nodded, scuffing the sand with her front
paw. "Well, it's almost time to go home, and… And I didn't want to go."
"And now?" Adsulto prodded gently.
Bebe blinked up at him with her large eyes. "Now
I think I want to go home."
The Jetsam nodded. "Then you should run along.
I think your family's waiting for you."
Bebe's eyes widened. Sure enough, she could hear
the adult Blumaroos calling her. "Oh, they are! I have to go now…" She started
to half hop, half crawl away, then paused to look back at the Jetsam. "Thank
you again… for rescuing me."
"You're welcome," he replied. He stayed on the
beach until she was out of sight, then turned and began the task of dragging
himself back down into the surf. When he swam away, his movements were more
leisurely than before, more relaxed, despite the fact that his stomach was informing
him that he was still hungry.
About half a mile out to sea, between the beach
and the ruins of Old Maraqua, where he lived, he felt the presence of another.
"Come on out, Sapphire," he called wryly. "You know you can't hide from me."
The Faerie Koi swam out from behind a lump of
coral, and circled the Jetsam, giggling. "Lost your lunch again, Ads?"
"You could say that. But I'd appreciate it if
you wouldn't," Adsulto responded good-naturedly, used to the Koi's teasing by
Sapphire fell into rhythm beside her friend,
her tail moving slowly from side to side, in time with the way his moved up
and down. When she spoke again, the teasing was gone from her voice. "That was
a good thing you did tonight, Ads."
"Good things don't keep my belly full," the
Jetsam responded, and his stomach took that moment to announce itself with a
low growl. "See?"
Sapphire smiled. "No, but they do keep YOU good.
And I wouldn't want you any other way."
Adsulto smiled at that. She did have a point.
He had been born at the end of the great Maraquan/Pirates
war, and due to some fluke of genetics, he had wound up semi-telepathic… And
completely empathic; which is the ability to sense, and even feel, to some degree,
the emotions of others. He'd tried to be like the other Jetsams, hunting and
scaring Neopets in and near the waters surrounding New Maraqua, but his empathy
always seemed to get in the way. A disgrace to his family, a vampire Jetsam
unable to hunt, he had been banished from the Jetsam tribe he'd been born into.
Alone, he'd made his way as far from New Maraqua
as he dared go, and had made his home amid the ruins of Old Maraqua, where few
creatures dared travel because of rumors of a chasm beast. Adsulto didn't mind.
He could feel the creature's emotions. It wouldn't hurt anyone that didn't disturb
it. And so, he made it a point never to disturb it.
Sapphire had blundered into the domain of the
chasm beast one day, and her terror had awakened Adsulto from his normal daily
sleep. Unable to sit by while an innocent Koi was hurt simply for being ignorant,
Adsulto had intervened and saved her from the chasm beast by using his telepathy
to speak to the giant creature and calm it. Saving her had an unexpected effect
on Adsulto. For several days, his empathy seemed to relax, for want of a better
term. It was as if, by saving the Koi, he had somehow appeased whatever force
or power that had seen fit to give him his curse in the first place.
Sapphire had been intrigued by this unusual Jetsam,
and had stuck around despite his constant protests of wanting to be alone. Over
time, the two became friends. And while Sapphire constantly teased Adsulto about
his propensity for going out hunting and winding up rescuing someone or something,
she actually thought it was very noble and wanted to help him any way she could.
"Hey, vamp-boy, you in there?" Adsulto was snapped
from his reverie by a light smack to his dorsal fin by his companion.
"Hmm?" he said, turning and swimming half on
his side so he could look up at where the Koi was swimming above him now.
"I asked if you maybe wanted to take a little
trip to New Maraqua and go to Kelp for dinner. My treat."
Adsulto smiled slowly. There were some real benefits
to having a friend. Especially one who had some spare NP lying around. "Sure."
Sapphire grinned. "Great. I'll race you!" And
with that, the Koi took off like a shot, leaving Adsulto to chuckle quietly
before powering his way after her.
Life has never been predictable, but if there
is one thing Adsulto had learned in his, it's that a curse can be a gift, depending
on how you look at it. And right now, he was far more content with his lot in
life than he had ever been before. Who was he? He was a Jetsam. He was a vampire.
He was a friend. He was a brother. He was a hero. But in his heart, he was just
Adsulto. And that was good enough for him.
Author's Note: Adsulto and Beloved_Sapphire live on my secondary account,
darkwolfuntamed. I hope you enjoyed the story!