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Wingless Wonder


by spiritwolf_forever

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It wasn't that nobody liked him. People just didn't…understand him. Well, I suppose that all petpets are often misunderstood, you would be to if you couldn't talk. But Skye's case was different. He was misunderstood period. From his day of birth, he remained a mystery, all on his own. Nobody wanted to take care of the mishap- it was almost as if he was cursed. Then there was Gardia.

     ***

      "Is Jessie here yet?" Those were the only words Gardia had spoken in months. Shiloh laughed. "Your baby brother will be here when he is ready."

      But the young Hissi wasn't assured. Day and night, he was constantly watching over the smooth, grey egg. The surface, dull and lumpy, reflected Gardia's deep emerald complexion. Egg watching was a boring task, as one might have expected, but Gardia didn't care. He was too anxious- anxious to meet his new brother.

      Hours turned into days. Days turned into weeks. Then, finally, one late Sunday afternoon, it happened. A scaly form punctured through the soft shell of the egg and slithered outside to greet the world, right before Gardia's eyes. His mother, Shiloh, shooed him off. She wanted to give baby Jessie some space. Gardia obeyed his mother, though he found it quite difficult. He just couldn't take his eyes of his baby brother's beautiful crimson scales.

      It was after a few days that his mother emerged from the den with a worried look upon her face. Her announcement was grave. "Jessie is sick."

      And so, for the following few months, Jessie was kept isolated from the other Hissies. Then, nearly a year later, the crimson Hissi slithered his way out of his home, seeing day light for the first time in awhile. Gardia was waiting.

      "Greetings brother!" He cried as he rushed towards Jessie to wrap himself around his younger sibling.

      But Jessie didn't run to greet him. He just sat and stared. A long, deathly silence passed between them.

      Jessie stared up at his brother innocently, turned hi head, and slithered away.

      Despite their first encounter, Gardia thought things between he and his brother would improve. How he was wrong. Jessie never talked to him, or anyone else, for that matter. He only communicated to get his necessities, such as food and water, and when he did, he communicated by body language. He would stick his tail in his mouth to show that he was hungry, or he would hold his head against his stomach to signify illness. These were some of the many signs that he would use. This was how the rumors started. They swirled around Gardia's poor mother, eating her alive, like acid burning through flesh. They all said he talked to petpets, something that was far-fetched, but yet so easy for Gardia to believe. Not only that, but hopes had been shattered. Gardia's long nights he had spent watching over that egg, Jessie's egg, in hopes that he would soon have a brother to play with- wasted. Jessie was dead at heart. Jessie was the brother Gardia never had.

     ***

      "Spread your wings out a little further," Quip instructed. He watched his students, young adult Hissies, take to the sky, spreading their wings out gracefully as they all came down for a smooth landing. Well, almost all of them anyways.

      THUD!! Quip sighed and turned to where the crash had occurred. "Are you alright, Gardia?"

      The flustered Hissi spat out a mouthful of dirt and picked himself up off the ground. "Yes sir."

      "I don't know what to tell you," Quip said, expressing a slight tone of sympathy, "you're just not ready."

      Gardia retorted, "yes, I am, just let me try once more…"

      "That'll do Gardia."

      "Yes sir," Gardia murmured as he slithered away into the forest.

     ***

      For months, Gardia had been trying to earn his wings. Oh how he longed to be soaring up in the sky with his friends, leaving the ground and all its disappointments behind. As the Hissi was lost deep in his daydreams of flight, his attention span shorted. Then, he suddenly felt the back end of his tail fall from beneath him. Gardia landed with a hard thud on solid ground.

      Grumbling, he got up to see what he had tripped on. Just below his flank lay a small, grey egg. Gardia bent down to inspect his new found treasure carefully. This looks like a Hissi egg, Gardia thought, but it can't be, it's much too small. And he was right. The egg was actually that of a Wadjet, a close petpet cousin of the Hissi.

      Gardia didn't care. He was starved and hadn't eaten in days, and an omelette would certainly make for a pleasing meal. Gardia was just about to swallow the egg whole when he stopped. Old memories resurfaced. Memories of pain and disappointment felt at Jessie's birth. The brother who was alive yet dead at the same time.

      "I'm sorry," Gardia choked. He folded his wings so that they formed and arched cradle, in which he gently rocked his unborn friend in. And so it became that Gardia would soon hatch not only a friend, but a brother. A brother whom would take the place of the one he never had.

     ***

      Shiloh looked over her son nervously, as she had been for the past few days. Her slick sapphire scales were becoming dulled because of the small amounts of food she had been eating, but Shiloh didn't care. She was much to buys worried about Gardia. Ever since had had came home a week ago, he had confined himself to a corner of the family's small den. His mother wasn't worried about his sudden cut off of food, she was worried about who he was becoming- an image in his brother's eyes.

      "Gardia," Shiloh cooed softly, "the egg is dead."

      Gardia shook his head. "No, I can feel his pulse." He lifted his head to reveal the smooth egg that he was keeping warm.

      Shiloh sighed and left Gardia alone. He'll get over it, she thought.

     ***

      At first it was just a slight wiggle, and the egg began to chirp. Gardia knew that what was inside wanted out, so he gave the newborn some assistance by using his fangs to puncture a hole in the shell.

      Soon enough, out from its shell wiggled the baby Wadget, scales still moist. The Wadget nibbled at the leftover insides of its former home before worming its way up onto Gardia's head for a nap.

      Gardia glanced up at his new found friend and smiled before going to sleep himself.

     ***

      Wretched shock clogged the Hissi's throat as he did a double take at the ivory-green Wadget. Gardia thought his new baby brother was a Hissi, but when his young friend spread himself out in the morning to stretch, Gardia made the most profound discovery.

      "Oh, you poor creature," the Hissi cried as he gathered the young Wadjet in his wings. "You are born without wings!"

      The Wadjet chirped as Gardia held him close.

     "None the less," Gardia sighed. It was only then that he suddenly remembered something that his mother had told his when he had failed his flight lessons for the first time. "Don't worry, you'll earn your wings someday, and when you do, away you will soar, soar my brother, Skye." With that, the Hissi fell silent. His eyes were fixed on the young Wadget, whom he would forever know as 'Skye'.

     ***

      "Gardia, what in Meridell is that thing?!"

      Gardia lowered his head. The day had just started, but things were already fairing miserably. From the moment that he had brought Skye to the outside world to greet his family, their reaction had been but of pure shock.

      "He," Gardia said stiffly, "is my brother."

      An older male, Gardia's Uncle Croft, just laughed. "If he's your brother, than I must be a Chia!"

      "Gardia," Shiloh said softly, "he is not your brother, Jessie is."

      A sudden flurry of rage came over Gardia. "You call that accident my brother?! The one who was supposed to be a friend to play with and a comfort when I was down?! Skye is my friend, and a better brother than Jessie will ever be! Just because someone is different doesn't mean that we are not all the same!" With that, Gardia stormed off, unaware that a keen pair of eyes had been watching. They belonged to a young scarlet Hissi.

     ***

      Skye was his inspiration. The way the young Wadjet would try to please his foster brother with such determination, Gardia could only take for granted. Truly, Sky was a wonder. The Wingless Wonder.

     ***

      Gardia's pale emerald eyes glowed bright and vivid as they watched Skye. The youngster would perform feats, such as climbing up and over a boulder, which may have seemed like nothing to just anybody, but in Gardia's eyes, he knew exactly what mental and physical strain Sky had to go through.

      It had been weeks since the awful first family encounter. Gardia had managed to avid more feuds by simply avoiding is family, which didn't come as much pain.

      "Stop it!" Gardia giggled as sky crawled him his side and wrapped himself around his neck.

      "Having fun?" A voice chuckled, interrupting Gardia and Skye's play time. It was Quip. "Are you ready for another flight attempt?"

      Gardia nodded his head solemnly. "I guess."

      "Look, you'll never learn to fly with an attitude like that, will you?" Gardia said no. "Thought not." With that, Quip turned and slithered away.

      Without saying a word, after Quip went Gardia. He was led through the dense forest, his lifelong home for as long as he could remember.

      "Here we are," Quip finally said from up ahead. Towering above the two Hissi was Thusio Mountain, measuring hundreds of feet above the ground.

      Gardia gulped. "You're making me jump off of there?! Why did you take me here instead of the training ramp?"

      "Because," Quip snapped, "it's time that you decide whether or not to fly or to fall."

      A frown creased upon Gardia's brow as he was about to open his mouth to protest, but he stopped. Quip was not threatening him, but simply teaching him. The hard way, that is.

     ***

      A step further and Gardia would have plummeted to his doom. Below him lay valleys and tundra- wilderness expanding father than the eye could see. Beyond the wilderness, only few had seen. What little Gardia did know about the world beyond his own came from tales told by Hissies brave enough to attempt the feat. What stories they would tell, tales of the strange creatures that inhabited beyond the edge of the forest.

      "Are you ready?" Quip asked.

      Gardia gulped. "I guess."

      He took a step closer to the edge. Rock and limestone crumbled beneath his feet. Gardia took a deep breath. He jumped.

      Gardia could feel the wind passing through his wings, but he could not seem to catch an updraft. He just kept falling and falling. The Hissi closed his eyes, waiting for his doom, when he suddenly felt a rough tug against his heck. He had forgotten all about Skye.

      "My brother," gasped Gardia. Nearly all the air had been sucked out of his lungs. "Now we will both perish."

      The Wadjet let out a sharp hiss.

      "You're right," Gardia said sternly, "we shall not die, but we shall soar. Soar to the heavens above."

      Taking a deep breath, Gardia flexed his wings. They opened in a magnificent display of color. Almost instant was the effect. The updraft caught him, wind rocking the Hissi and his young friend like a mother and 'babe."

      "We did it! We're flying!" Yelped Gardia.

      Skye coughed. Whether it was inspired by pure imagination, or maybe just lunacy, a crazy idea suddenly popped into Gardia's head.

      "Skye, we're going to fly beyond the wilderness."

      Gaining speed, Gardia swooped down, caught another updraft, and headed straight towards the direction of the setting sun. He was doing it. Gardia, the nobody, was going to go beyond his homeland, to see what few others had ever seen. With tension and excitement building, Gardia pumped his wings furiously and leaned forward towards his goal. "We should be there by nightfall!" said Gardia happily. Suddenly, something hard hit him.

      Gardia gasped as he plummeted towards earth. He would have hit the ground if it had not been that Quip had grabbed him in the nick of time.

      "What the heck were you thinking back there?!" Quip spat angrily.

      "I was going to go beyond the wilderness, of course."

      In a low voice, Quip said, "you don't know what's out there. The outside world is a dangerous place, which is why you must stay away. Go home now."

      With dreams smashed, Gardia hung his head and slithered away.

     ***

      "Oh look, here comes the flight drop out and his sidekick, the Wingless Wonder," a few of Gardia's former friends laughed as he emerged from his den the following morning.

      "For your information, I am plenty capable of flight."

      "Sure you are…which is exactly why you crashed the other day."

      Pure anger bubble up inside Gardia. It was the type of anger that makes a man do crazy things. "Oh yeah?! Well, to prove to you my excellence, tomorrow Skye and I will fly beyond the wilderness."

      A few awes erupted from the crowd. That day, Gardia walked off with a great sense of satisfaction.

     ***

      "Are you already for the big day tomorrow, Skye?" Gardia asked his foster brother.

      Skye chirped happily. It was long past nightfall, but neither Gardia nor Skye could sleep. They sat by the light of the moon, dreaming of what tomorrow would bring.

      A sudden rustle in the bushes interrupted Gardia from his thoughts. It was Jessie. He stood before Gardia, mouth wide open, as though he were about to say something.

      "What's the matter Jessie," Gardia asked, "are you hungry? I don't have any food with me, so you'll have to ask mother."

      Jessie closed his mouth, hung his head, and walked away.

     ***

      It was the big day. The day that Gardia would prove to everyone what he could really do.

      The Hissi stood at the top of Thusio Mountain, gazing down upon the small crowd that had gathered to watch. There was a quirky grin spread across his face.

      "Wait!" Gardia turned to see Quip, slithering his way up the hill as fast as he could. "Are you sure you want to do this?" Gardia said yes. "Very well then, I suppose there's nothing that I can do to stop you. Your mother wishes you luck."

      Gardia smiled, knowing that at least his mother supported him. "Are you all set, Skye?"

      The Wadjet, wrapped tightly around Gardia's neck, let out a chirp. Around his neck was a tiny scarf that Shiloh had fashioned for him from Pussy-Willow.

      "Alright then," Gardia nodded. With that, he sped forward.

      The ground beneath Gardia's body disappeared, signaling for him to open his wings. Gardia flexed his mighty propellers, sending him soaring sky-high. Family and friends disappeared, becoming pebbles in a sea of green.

      Lurching forward, Gardia pumped his powerful wings in a smooth, steady pace. He had his goal set in front of him, and he wasn't about to let it go.

      Up until then, the airspace around him had been quiet. Only the sound of his own heart beat could be heard by Gardia. But then there was another sound. Another set of wings were pumping nearby. Quip must have decided to follow me to make sure I would stay safe, Gardia thought.

      Straining his neck forward, Gardia plummeted and rose, thinking he might be able to ditch his follower this way. He was wrong.

     ***

      Pitch black darkness consumed everything. It was a pure evil that haunted the dreams of many.

      For hours, Gardia had been flying through the endless night, and now his exertion was beginning to take his toll. But Gardia was in nowhere near as bad shape as Skye was. The Wadget clung onto Gardia's fleshy neck for dear life, but exhaustion was slowly loosening his grip.

      Then, a sudden flicker of light rose from above the hilltops. It not only revealed to Gardia his path, but a long, looming chain of mountains. This chain was mentioned in many tales to be the edge of the wilderness.

      "Hang on Skye," Gardia panted, "we're almost there."

      The Wadget only slip further and further away.

      Gardia grew desperate. "See Skye," he sobbed, "we're almost there! See the light Skye? Oh Skye!"

      It all happened in a flash of a second. One moment, Skye was clinging to Gardia's neck for dear life, and then he was gone. Air flooded into where the Wadget had once clung.

      "Skye!" Gardia screamed as he plunged down after his friend. His brother. His life. But a terrible sickness came over Gardia when he realized the silhouette of Skye's falling body was growing farther and farther away, until finally, he was but a mere fragment.

     ***

      He had arrived too late. Skye's body lay limp across a shattered stone. The Wadget tried to utter some movements, but failed in vain.

      Tears welled up in Gardia's eyes. "Skye…"

      The sound of flapping wings filled the air. Gardia looked up to see a crimson figure land beside him. It had not been Quip that had followed Gardia- but he had in fact been followed by his birth brother, Jessie.

      Gardia ignored his brother's sudden arrival and turned his attention back to Skye. He was dying. To sickened to watch his young friend's death, Gardia turned and fled, not hearing Skye's final words.

     ***

      Sitting in the shade of a tree laid Gardia, tears pouring out from his eyes in constant streams. The thought of returning home didn't even appear in his mind.

      "Gardia," a soft voice whispered.

      Gardia looked up, his eyes widened. "Je…Jessie?"

      His younger brother nodded. "Skye had passed away. He told me something before he died though…"

      "…So it is true, you do talk to petpets…"

      Jessie sighed. "I don't talk to petpets. I can just understand what they say."

      "Tell me Jessie, why have you never talked to me before?"

      "When I got sick years ago," Jessie explained, "my vocal chords got infected, and I haven't been able to speak since, not until recently anyways. I tried to talk to you the other night, but I didn't know what to say…I was so afraid that you would hate me."

      Gardia's eyes softened. "Jessie, I could never hate you, no matter how much you messed up my life."

      A long moment of silence passed between brothers. It was Gardia who spoke first. "Tell me what Skye said."

      "Sky said 'Gardia, my brother, I love you so'," said Jessie, rolling his eyes back in concentration, "'and I want you to know not to worry, because I am coming home'."

      Tears welded up in Gardia's eyes. Not tears of sadness, but tears of joy.

      "So, what do you say we continue the last bit of the journey beyond the wilderness together?" Jessie insisted.

      Gardia smiled. "I'd like that."

      Then it all became clear to him.

      That day, Gardia had not lost a brother.

      He had gained one.

The End

Author's Note: For GamaGardia and his Wadget, WinglessWonder. Neomail me if you have any comments or suggestions.

 
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