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Crypt 12056, Hyxus 11022, and their riders are in a race to find Noot Noot's lost chicks. The results may be life or death 1147 word count
Urgent calls of distress spread rapidly, like a wildfire set in a pine forest who's gone through a drought. It reaches far and wide, heard by gallant heroes ready to thrust themselves into action, but also the sly and malicious who lurk in dark shadows waiting for an opportunity to fall into their laps. They hide behind a mask of saviours, whispering words of safety and trust before snatching their poor, unsuspecting victims from one scenario of danger into another.
Ruex and Crpyt are a prime example of opportunists, and when they hear word of troublesome chicks lost and alone, it’s the very chance they’ve been patiently waiting for. In the night, they are off with a shared thought, eyes shining with mischief and the pleasing idea of rewards they will receive if they can bring back even one little chick.
In that same moment Quinn and Hyxus leap to the rescue, ready to play heroes and help a tired caretaker gather up their lost charges. It’s a hidden race to see who is faster and better at coaxing the young stryx to follow them. A classic battle between good intentions and the impure.
Hawk vs tyto, it is no surprise when the former reaches the area first, a shadow spilling from the sky as Crypt searches the ground for a tiny chick playing hide and seek. Green eyes are sharp as they sweep the area, raking through every blade of grass, every berry filled bush, every preening tree. She’s delighted to notice a splash of color amongst the browns and greens of plantlife, a bright blue tail stretching out from a tiny body that shuffles through the underbrush.
She moves with predatory grace, slipping between the trees and creeping through the grass, closing in slowly, stealthy. The young stryx does not notice her presence, looking ahead instead of behind with a heart beating wild. “Gotcha.” She whispers, beak barely a hair away.
The chick squeals, leaping into the air in fright only to be snatched into a swift foot, talons snapping together to form a harness shaped cage. “Now, now, little one. You’ve been caught fair and square, it’s about time this game has ended. Noot Noot is quite worried for you.” This time Ruex is the one to speak, leaping down from Crypt’s back and catching the young chick when the hawk drops them. “It’s been a long game, aren’t you tired, don’t you wanna fill your tiny tummy?” She lowers her head to place a tender kiss upon their beak, simultaneously burying her fingers in their soft feathers to gently scratch their craned neck.
The chick gives a soft yawn, snuggling closer to Ruex and allowing her to massage them. "Do I have to go back? I wanna play a little bit longer."
Crypt smiles fondly at their battle to stay awake and play longer even though a need for sleep is weighing on them. "How about an adventure?"
"An adventure," they parrot.
"Yes. Have you ever seen when little chicks like you are picked from the Loft to go to a new home?"
Their eyes widen, hope shining brighter than a super nova within them. "I'm going to a new home?"
"Well of course. You can't stay with Noot Noot forever. My rider and I were on our way to the Loft to pick you up. Little tricky thing, we had to come allllll the way out here to find you. Were you running away from us? Did you not want to come home with us? I guess we should take you back to Noot Noot then. We wouldn't want to steal you away from all your friends." Crypt feigns a wounded spirit, gaze lowered and body deflated.
"No!" The young stryx sinks talons into Ruex's attire, holding tight as they bury their feathery head in her neck. "I wanna go home with you! Please!! I won't run anymore. We just wanted to play, I promise."
"Okay little one. You can come with us." Crypt helps Ruex onto her back, carefully juggling the reins in one hand and the stryx with the other. She startles when a loud 'NO' booms down from above.
Hyxus's silent wings concealed his arrival, allowing him to listen in on the tender lies pouring from the tricky hawk. "Stop you snake!" He spits with fury. "Leave that chick alone!"
Crypt grins in challenge, snapping into action before Hyxus and Quinn have a chance to close in on them. "Such a mean bird. He doesn't want you to have a home little one," Crypt continues to coax the young stryx, sweet poison in their ears as she navigates.
"Leave us alone!" The young chick screeches, fear making their heart rattle within their chest as an enemy is painted of their ally.
The female duo grin where the stryx can not see, consoling it as if they were doting mothers. "We will keep you safe little one. Do not worry." Ruex gently pets them, tightening her single hand grip on the reins as she prepares for Crypt to begin her fancy maneuvers.
The hawk feels the change, launching herself up and into the sky to allow more space. Hyxus follows, worry holding tight to his heart as the young stryx snuggles with their captor. He tries to close the space between them, relieved when the task is easier than expected, not suspecting that the black hawk could be flying purposefully slow when she should be naturally faster. She moves quick as lightning, spiraling like a spin top and grabbing a hold of his face with her sharp talons.
He can't reel back, forced to bow beneath her will and enter a spiral as well. Quinn shouts as he tightens his grip, pressing closer to Hyxus as he struggles to hold on. Crypt kicks away from their union, swiftly righting herself and climbing into the clouds before Hyxus can stabilize his flight and search for her.
The male duo are spinning as they tumble towards the ground, Hyxus's wings beating a frantic tune as he tries to stop, or roll parallel to the ground, or avoid death by falling. Time seems to slow, caught in a clump of molasses as they come closer and closer to Death's eternal embrace. In the final moment, Hyxus manages to straighten out, hovering just feet above the ground with Quinn thrown out of his saddle and hanging on for dear life.
They land, Hyxus looking to the sky for the murderous hawk who nearly ended his and his rider's life. Quinn is more interested in the ground, clutching the dirt and glass with silent tears. "I'm not a hero, Hyxus. I have Areigo to go home to and I'm not willing to risk my life saving someone else's. We agreed to find some chicks. Not chase some stryx and get tossed through the damn clouds."
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