lou dog went to the moon

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:22 am

+3 Private

Not only was he facing this growing and unwelcomed neighbor to the north, but Salsola’s arrogant leader had ruffled his feathers during their meeting. To top this off, he had noticed familiar scents fading—Inferni was shrinking. Fear had forced him to voice his concerns to Gabriel, but the graying former-Aquila had reassured him that this was typical. Still, he was stressed; Talitha’s growing bump made him all the more agitated. What if she lost these children as she had the others? Would she lose her mind again and hurl herself into the sea? Beyond that, whose children was she carrying? The wolf-dog’s? Cotl’s? Both options left a cold feeling in his gut.

So he had gone south, taking what had been Highway 102 towards the city. Viggo traveled at an easy pace, occasionally picking up speed where the highway gave away to soft grass. They stopped once to rest at the lake, but only for about half an hour before heading on. By this point, it was early afternoon and warm. Halifax greeted him like a skeletal graveyard, and the highway split—Ezekiel allowed Viggo to choose their path, and soon enough they had left major roadways and entered the residential section of the city.

Ezekiel had all but retreated into his mind when a familiar smell caught his nose. He sniffed and turned his head here and there. Someone was smoking marijuana nearby, and potent crop at that. With a low click, he turned Viggo and they trotted towards the source.

What he found made the Aquila balk, and his heavy horse snort and perk up with confusion. Barrett (or Barry, as he insisted on being called) was playing with what looked like a plank of wood. The coyote made a face but said nothing, finding the whole thing curious.

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:48 am

Barrett stared down, watching the board somersault through the air before he found it with his feet. Gravity drove both wolf and toy back to earth quickly; then he found his balance, performed another ollie, and repeated the trick ad infinitum with distressed urgency. The smoke could only do so much to clear his mind—but it did a fantastic job of clouding his nose to the extent that he didn't smell the other's approach. The loud clatter of the board against the pavement masked the steady plod of the horse's hooves, and only when he caught a blur of movement out of the corner of his eye did he look up.

Unfortunately, all of this had to happen mid-kickflip. The skateboard flew off to one side and Barrett leapt to the other, landing easily but looking confused. “Zeke!” he greeted, his tail wagging but his voice weary, perplexed. “What are you doing out here?” Was he in search of supplies? The yearling flipped the board upright with his foot, then popped it into the air. He caught it and held it in one hand before approaching his “cousin” and his ride. He held out a hand for Viggo to sniff and lightly patted his nose—having rode one himself now, he was much more comfortable with horses.

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:58 am

As it turned out, whatever this new trick was seemed far from rehearsed. Ezekiel chuckled at the display, but the wear too showed in his body. His shoulders, while broad and strong, were slightly sagged. Thankfully, Viggo made up for this with his own display. The stallion snorted loudly at the dark wolf’s approach, but listened to his rider’s body and understood there was no danger and so remained still. His stallion was a proud thing, but knew how to obey the ferocious coyote on his back.

“Just getting away for a bit,” he offered, sliding from the broad-backed Clydesdale with ease. Without the need for a saddle or bridle the Aquila was at an advantage as opposed to other riders. Once on the ground, the red horse nudged him for confirmation of this stranger’s familiarity. “What are you doing?” Ezekiel asked as he patted the burly horse on the side of the face, sidestepping so that the brute could extend his face towards the funny-smelling wolf.

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:08 am

He marvelled as Zeke slid down so effortlessly, remembering his own uncomfortable situation when he dismounted Pixie's horse, Magic. He supposed the experienced jockeys' legs must be better accustomed to the strange, splayed position maintained while riding—his had gotten so stiff; in the end, he wasn't sure if he'd ever give horseback riding another go. Usually he was a little more adventurous, but there were too many heavy things weighing on his mind right now to even consider it.

“I … I dunno. Just trying to get my head on straight, I guess.” He half-groaned, half-sighed, and shook his head. Maybe mind altering intoxicants seemed like an unlikely way to go for the Aquila, but it was the best coping strategy the mottled teen knew. “Whatever. Wanna hang out for a bit?” he tried, gesturing with a flick of his snout at the yawning garage doors. Both bays were presently open; perhaps the horse could graze around the yard while they went inside. It would sure beat mowing it later manually.

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:19 am

Years of living in the wild had given him a physique cut from the land itself. Learning to ride had been a quick, initially painful process that became easy once he practiced it. His legs had grown strong in the thigh with the wide girth of Viggo’s broad backside. Still, it was easier to ride the fat stallion than a smaller one—he couldn’t imagine jumping on Maschine or Fear, with their dainty frames and fiery tempers.

Like his encounter with Micah, Ezekiel didn’t have to struggle to recognize there was something bothering the younger male. So he offered him a plastic smile, amber eyes unmet by the look, and agreed to join his darker companion. Barrett suggested letting the horse graze but worried about his plants; Ezekiel alleviated this fear by speaking to the horse and telling him this. The whinnies and hand-gestures drew a perplexed gaze from the would-be-de le Poer, but Ezekiel ignored it and returned to High Speech quickly. “What’s eating you?” He asked as they entered the garage.

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:26 am

Barrett boggled as the tawny coyote assumed the language of his equine companion; this was a new one! His troubles were momentarily forgotten and he stared, wide-eyed, before remembering that Apache could communicate with his falcon somewhat effectively, too. It still seemed foreign to him and he wondered how long it took Zeke to develop this tongue, but his mind rapidly shifted back to Ghita, Naniko, and McNamara when the astute male inquired about his foul mood. It was that obvious he was out of sorts, eh? He shouldn't have been surprised.

The boy plopped down on one end of the couch and waved for Zeke to get comfortable at the other; guests were always made to feel right at home. His gaze lingered hungrily on the bong before turning back to the hybrid. Something akin to panic flashed in his eyes—should he even tell him? He'd kept his mouth shut so far; he didn't want to jinx it by spilling the beans now. But at last, he relented—he didn't think Inferni's Aquila could bother with the petty affairs of the Dreamer. “I got a girl pregnant,” he blurted suddenly, his ears pasting back. “Among other things, but that's uh... that's definitely the big one.”

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:37 am

It was an impressive set up, this place, and Zeke admired it despite his dislike of human buildings. He had once had a bad experience in a crumbling village and gained a healthy respect for the land’s desire to reclaim such things. Of course, a winter had shown him just how terrible the land could be—not this storm past, but another, had ripped a house asunder while the coyote hid out under strong, familiar stone.

He none the less sat with ease, shrugging off the bow, quiver, and bag into a large pile at his side. Nude as he was, Barry’s pants seemed silly. Of course as Zeke had told his sister, he was a savage. Had he not known the names and meanings of war-paint, he might have worn it daily. His fur, naturally deviating between red and gold and black, was enough color for him now.

The Aquila blinked at the admittance and leaned back, pulling his feet up and onto the table. “Shit,” he cursed mildly, shaking his head. “That was a pretty dumb thing to do. How old are you?” Yet as he watched the darker wolf answer him, he found that his gaze was elsewhere. Zeke turned his head, and found the reason why. “Oh whoa,” he said, suddenly excited. “I haven’t seen anything like that in years.”

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:49 am

Maserati was lucky to have found this garage in such good condition; between her tune-ups and Anselm's later maintenance, it had held up well. The roof developed a leak during his absence, but with a ladder and a hammer on hand, it was easy enough for the boy to fix. Sure, the outside paint was faded and chipped, but the building was very structurally sound. He'd trust the weight of a full three canines on its roof before getting worried.

“Two in about a month,” he said, staring vacantly at the glassware. A pause. “Happy birthdaaaay,” he groaned, letting his face fall into his hands. What had he gotten himself into? Only at Zeke's mention of the bong did he look back up; absorbed as he was in his own (frightfully typical) teenage drama, he recognised the interest in the older male's voice. “You smoke?” he voiced, tone now filled with amusement and a tinge of disbelief.

Without awaiting any further signal or response, he began to feverishly pack the bowl. This was exactly what he needed. He stuffed it to the brim and tossed a half-filled orange lighter to his companion. Drugs were a fine exchange for playing psychotherapist, weren't they? He passed the piece over with a grin.

POSTED: Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:58 am

Two. Zeke made a face. He was three and he hadn’t even thought about kids. Hell, he hadn’t even thought about sex in months. Women were nothing but trouble and as inconsistent as a summer storm. Talitha had proven that several times over, going from psychotic one minute to loving the next. If all women were like his sister, heaven help the less-fair sex.

Before he had time to interject, the younger wolf went about packing the glass with his herbs. Ezekiel was again thankful he was alone—Talitha had cut him off before, but perhaps that was for the best. While acting as Aquila he wasn’t allowed to be himself. Not that he had time for marijuana much anymore; patrols meant his senses had to be clear. Sage’s herbs, as he had quickly found from her fighting lesson, dulled these.

Yet his hands worked with muscle memory and his lungs did as well. He sparked flame, burned the green plant, and breathed in smoke. When he drew back he held his breath for a moment, two, and then as his throat began to burn released a cloud of gray-white smoke with a slight cough. “I used to,” he admitted, holding out the glass. “Don’t have time for it now that I’m Aquila,” he grumbled, emphasizing the word with a sneer.

POSTED: Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:00 am

Life was ironic; there was no better word for it. Barrett had thought about kids before—that is, he'd thunk enough to know he didn't want them any time soon, relationship with his childhood sweetheart be damned. He left the girl he loved because he wasn't ready to raise children yet, and he pursued casual sex because it was instantly gratifying and “hassle free.” Now he was going to be a father and it was a near stranger who would bear his offspring. It left him feeling hollow and horrified all at once. What would Morgan say if she knew? What about his mother?

The sound of air bubbles percolating through liquid snapped him back to the present. Ezekiel did know his way around a bong, huh? The boy's pale yellow eyes twinkled as the piece was thrust back in his direction, but any amusement faded quickly. It seemed things weren't going so hot for his cousin, either. He promptly sucked down his hit, exhaled slowly with a sigh, and returned the glass before responding. “I remember when I used to think being king meant you got to do whatever you wanted,” he mused. The illusion had shattered quickly, but it was an easy mistake to make when the adults still set all the Rules, vanquished lightning fast prey, and seemed all Powerful and Knowing.

“Just the usual bullshit or something in particular?”

POSTED: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:39 pm

The smoke filled his lungs like a familiar friend, and Ezekiel knew that what came next would be not long in wait. His fingers, pads thick and calloused by the bow and physical labor, were still nimble enough to work the fragile glass and fire. He took another hit and held his breath while Barrett spoke of some false ideal of what being a king was. Ezekiel handed him the piece back, face warping into a cruel smile. It turned him into a dead man he had never know (though the eyes belonged to the dead man’s lover) and knew little about.

He looked down at his own feet, stained a no-color brown by the earth and the distance put between him and his home. The drug slipped into his brain silently, turning his eyes hazy. Familiarity brought comfort, and he smiled in that same terrible way—as if masochistically he enjoyed the pain. “I feel like I live in Purgatory,” he explained, smoke pouring out of his mouth. He gestured with his hands to draw the mythical pyramid. “Surrounded by the Wrathful and Envious and Proud, and those made wicked by love.” He added bitterly, leaning back against the couch.

POSTED: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 pm

It took the boy some time to understand the allusion. Barrett had grown up without religion—he knew no Heaven or Hell or anything in between—though he did hold onto a vague sense of spirituality instilled in him by the Taijitu monks while he was still very young. He believed in karma, if not in the sense of some supernatural driving force. Beings who did good things, thought good things, and surrounded themselves with good people would be happier. It wasn't some hokey-pokey voodoo; it was just common sense.

Unfortunately, it seemed the tawny Aquila was forced to keep the company of darker souls. What drove him? Devotion, duty, necessity? Barrett could be devilishly clever and competent when push came to shove, even reliable—but he couldn't imagine subjecting himself to anything (or anyone) miserable for very long. He couldn't relate.

And so the earth-toned boy stayed silent, but his ears fluttered back in a consolatory fashion. The herb smouldered still, and he milked the bong until it was nearly opaque white. Plucking the bowl piece out with two dark claws, he inhaled sharply and sat back, eyes closed as he passed it off to his seemingly unlikely smoking companion. “I... don't even know what you mean, man,” he confessed at last, laughing strangely at his own ignorance. They were similar in some ways, but so very different in others. “What happened?” If nothing else, he could listen.

POSTED: Mon Aug 01, 2011 9:41 pm

Unreal chains and links bound him to the Waste, for if he had no leash, he might have fled this very day and never returned. Ezekiel could taste freedom and he knew the cost. It would both save and destroy him to abandon Inferni. This was, he supposed, why his father had returned. They all came back, eventually. Both eyes turned wild, sharpening to those of a predator. He grinned a terrible grin, teeth bared and whiskers curled up towards the red streak across his face.

“You should read more,” he explained, as if this was all that needed said. “A woman came to me filled with demons,” he went on and closed his eyes. The story was not his own, and he did not presume to call himself the son of God, but how close did those familiarities fall. “I tried to cleanse her, but some demons are stronger than others.” He lifted one hand (red, like his face, red like blood) and brushed his fingers over the scars that cut across his eye. The other opened, regarding the dark boy as if he might try and consume him whole. “What about this woman of yours, Barry,” a jeer, but he smiled as he spoke. “, what is she gonna do to you?”

POSTED: Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:54 am

Read more? That stuff was for squares—who was this guy, his mother? The adolescent had little patience for the small text printed on yellowed, timeworn pages; reading strained his eyes and put him to sleep, but he would stomach it in small doses if the content was useful. Needless to say, the most he did these days was peruse Anselm's old reference manuals... and those relied heavily on pictures and other visuals. Still, he said nothing—Zeke was acting a little kooky and Barry knew to choose his battles.

His cousin continued to speak in riddles and metaphors, but the mocha yearling found it more intriguing than frustrating. The wheels turned behind his eyes as he digested the Aquila's words and make sense of them; Barrett was a smart boy, even if he didn't usually act the part. “Enough time will change mountains into sand; sea into desert. I'm sure your demons will seem less severe eventually,” he replied. He knew nothing of the tawny man's inner struggles—nothing of the slaughter of Talitha's lover—but he did know nothing was constant, and Time was the healer of all wounds.

With enough time, he'd even man up over this situation with Naniko. What of her? “She expects nothing. Except more drugs,” he stated hollowly. “Speaking of which,” he said, lightening up some, “I think you need another hit, man,” he said, shoving the piece back to his distressed companion.

POSTED: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:02 pm

In the Good Book, the Man-Jesus was born from God and an earthly woman and sent to earth to save men from themselves. For twelve years he lived in ignorance of his fate, only to be told he would one day die a horrible death and live in hell until he was reborn. Ezekiel did not think of himself as so mighty, but he found the story parallel to his own in many ways. Perhaps he was closer to Moses, who had killed and gone into exile. Perhaps he had a fate that would one day make the eternity of duty and love worth it all.

So his eyes looked older than he was, and his soul felt like that of a bird desperate to fly. He smiled at the idea of time destroying things, but how many eons would he have to wait? The wisdom of a boy felt void to him. Hands the color of blood-stained earth grasped the glass, and he filled his lungs with smoke, filled his head with that dull and familiar hum. Ezekiel breathed out of his mouth like a dragon, eyes half-lidded and hazy. “I would be careful if I was you,” he warned his would-be cousin. “They’re like fire.” Women, that was. Warm and comforting one moment, destructive and terrible the next.

He passed Barrett back his piece and slumped onto his side, face resting on the familiar wolverine pelt quiver. It still smelled like the forest. God, how he missed those dark places of the world. The coyote didn’t recall much past then, for he quite suddenly was sucked into the black-night of sleep and heard nothing more.

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