Sapphire Silverhorse Waterfall travelled silently across the moonlit ocean, atop her dolphin steed.
"Isn't it wonderful, Rainbow Jewell?" She sighed, patting the creatures dorsal fin as the wind blew her very beautiful hair against her extremely beautiful face.
"Absolutely wonderful," Agreed Rainbow Jewell, for he was a talking dolphin, sent by the rulers of the sea to watch over the fair traveler. But as magical a creature a talking dolphin may be, he would still give up his amazing life if it ensured the safety of Sapphire.
"Rainbow Jewell, we're nearly at Haven!" She laughed; a lovely sound. "My Star Ruby's glow is getting brighter!"
"Thank goodness," Said the dolphin. "You must be reunited with your love as soon as possible!"
"Oh, Rainbow Jewell, don't be silly. I am independent enough to survive without a man. In fact, I was whispering with dragons while my brothers herded cattle!"
But all was not well in her heart, for she did yearn for her lover's embrace, like a rose yearned for sunlight. And there was a part of her that feared that perhaps he had found another when she had bravely sacrificed herself to save this wonderful world, as he did not know that the higher powers had looked upon her deeds and considered her worthy enough to live once again. So it was with growing fear that she travelled through the silent night-
Well, actually, not quite silent.
Sapphire's sharp ears caught the ungodly sound of an engine, carried towards them by the wind. She turned her head to see a shape come into view; a shape that would normally be hard to define, but to her keen eyes, it was like looking at it in broad daylight.
It looked like a fishing boat, but the sail was down, and it was powered by the engine she'd heard. As if it sensed her looking at it, it sped up, lights on the deck flickering into life.
She turned back towards the moon. "Hurry, Rainbow Jewell! I have an awful feeling about this!"
"What is it?" Asked the dolphin. "It seems so fierce! A great monster, come to swallow us, perhaps?"
"No, Rainbow Jewell," She told him as he sped up. "It is a man-thing called a boat. It is how we travel on the water."
Her lecture was cut off, however, as a shot fired over her head. Sapphire's senses kicked in and she ducked down, safely below the bullet. As she did, however, someone watching her closely may have said that her facial expression changed; a flicker from fear to an animalistic snarl. But it was gone again in the blink of an eye.
And besides, someone watching her closely would not have gotten a good look afterwards- a net shot out from the pursuing boat. It failed to catch her, but succeeded in knocking her into the water, where it bore down on her.
For a moment she disappeared under the waves, and then, in her place... something emerged.
It was female, and silvery, but somehow reptilian at the same time. Two red eyes glared up at the figure that had appeared on the boat, looking down on the creature Sapphire Silverhorse Waterfall had become.
"I'm guessing you're this Fair Traveler," Said the onlooker, taking a gun out of her pocket. "Or were."
The creature snarled. "This is my world! Mine! They love me!"
"Yeah, that's what they all say." The woman aimed.
"Rainbow Jewell!" Shrieked the creature. "Help me!"
The dolphin raised its head, looking up at the woman with the gun. "Are you going to kill her?" He gasped.
"What do you think?"
The Fair Traveler's faithful steed leapt out of the water. "Thank God! I never thought she'd go!"
Sapphire opened her maw in one last show of defiance before she was blown away.
Immediately, everything changed. The world shuddered, flickered, and then the corpse was gone.
The dolphin known as Rainbow Jewell was hit by a pain in his chest. He thrashed wildly in the water, blinded, his vision flickering like the rest of the world had done.
The last thing he remembered was the sensation of something wrapping around him, before everything turned black.
Squeaky sang along to the lost princess's ballad as she walked. She wasn't a very important character in this scene; nothing more than an adorable little forest creature among several other adorable forest creatures. Even though otters weren't forest creatures. And even though a Justin Beiber song didn't really count as a "ballad".
Still, one did not question one's place in the great cosmic dance. She kept place with the rest of the Cute Animal Crowd, squeaking the notes out as best as she could. The funny thing, though, was that the foxes and mice that walked right beside this singing lost princess were completely ignoring each other. Something was wrong in the food chain. But no one else seemed to notice. Squeaky pushed it aside for later, and instead focused on getting her short legs over the roots and fallen branches of the forest.
She was falling behind, she knew. And she couldn't fall behind, because… because… why? …Because it would be bad. That's right. That was…
Something shining caught her eye. She turned her head to see a metal sign peeking out of the bushes, glinting in the light of the odd, sparkly butterflies that flocked overhead.
Something in her mind, which had been feeling very sleepy since… well, she couldn't quite remember. But one clear though poked through the pink mist in her brain, and that thought wanted to look at the sign.
Still singing, she edged away from the rest of the Cute Animal Crowd and into the bush.
Y'know… Came another thought. I really shouldn't be able to read this, by all logic…
But she could, somehow. And what it said made the pop song die in her throat:
EXPLOSION UP AHEAD
BEHIND THIS SIGN IS A SHELTER THAT WILL PROTECT YOU FROM THE EXPLOSION
YOU WILL THEN BE COLECTED AND TAKEN TO SAFETY
WE'RE NOT KIDDING
IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, GET BEHIND THIS SIGN
Squeaky blinked in surprise. Perhaps she should get behind the sign, but the song wasn't over yet. She was meant to sing along like the rest of the forest animals…
But a tiny voice said, I am not a forest animal.
Not really sure what she was doing, Squeaky scuttled into the bush, only to find herself in a metal box. The door slammed shut behind her, and the mist in her brain lifted.
What the hell am I-
Then there was a roar of fire and a rumble in the earth and she was sent flying into one of the metal walls.
"Hey, you up?"
Groaning, the dolphin opened his eyes, and then cried out in alarm as he looked into a brown furry face.
The creature screamed as well and leapt back, falling over in the process. It was only then that he realised it was only an otter.
Breathing a sigh of relief through his blow-hole, he looked around.
He definitely wasn't in the ocean any more. Instead he was floating in some kind of pool, indoors.
That boat must have taken me here... somehow... Still, at the same time, he felt... better, in a way he couldn't describe. He turned towards the little otter again.
"Sorry," He said. "You scared me."
"Heh, you were pretty terrifying yourself," She said with a weak smile.
"Where am I?"
She scratched at her neck. "I was going to ask you. Just woke up here five minutes ago." She turned back to look at him. "What's your name?"
"I'm Ra-" No. No, that had just been what that Silverhorse girl had called him. "I don't know."
"Neither do I." She replied. "They called me Squeaky, but..."
"Yeah, gettin' away from 'em does that to you."
The two turned to see who had spoken.
A tiny tunnel had opened up, and slinking out through it was a scruffy looking ferret. One ear was notched, and he had a toothy grin, which, along with the mask-like marking over his eyes, gave him an overall roguish appearance.
"You're takin' it well," He said. "Now me, I was biting anyone who came within three feet at first. But it was kinda what I was made for. What about you two?"
They both gave him blank looks. The ferret sighed.
"Can ya speak?"
Both muttered that they could.
"Right, what was it that you were doin' before you got zapped here?"
"I was singing," Ventured the otter.
"On your own?"
"With... forest animals." She said, speaking the words with obvious distaste.
"So you were nothin' more than a back-up critter," Nodded the ferret.
The otter narrowed her eyes, obviously not liking the sound of "nothing more".
"I was giving this... girl a ride across the ocean." Said the dolphin. "She called me Rainbow Jewell! And she thought I didn't even know what a boat was!"
"Ah." The ferret winced. "Cute animal sidekick."
"Just who are you?" Asked the otter. "Where are we?"
"Glad you asked that," The ferret sat down, oblivious to the glare the otter was giving him. "Since that's what I'm meant to be tellin' ya. Truth is, I've only been here a week, maybe less, so I don't know much myself. But I can tell ya both that we've all been recruited."
The dolphin floated closer to the edge of the pool. "Recruited?"
He shook his head. "Look at ya both. You have no idea of what's goin' on or even what your names are, cuz you've been living in their shadows. You were just a fluffy back up singer to her. You were just a side kick there to admire her."
"So?" Said the otter.
"So everything, darlin'. We've been saved, but for a reason." The ferret's eyes glinted. "I'm Jake. And this is what they've told me- this place? This is where they take folks like us who've been serving 'em. And this is where we learn to kill 'em."
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