1.1: The Savior
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ATUHOR'S NOSE: The names of the kid protagonists are a call-back to an old RP thread I was in for a few years in the late 00s. It was a fairly big cast, but these two were my favorite, probably mainly because their RPer stuck around for most of the thread's life... and probably also because they were catfolk. Nya. There's no particular similarity beyond the names and the species, I'm just really nostalgic for that thread ๐Ÿ˜›

"Tell me about the stars again."

"Tiny little lights, far above in the sky at night. More than you can count. They might be the most beautiful thing in the world..."

"Mm... it sounds so nice... do you think I'll ever see the stars?"

"... Yeah. One day."

Her first sign that it was not to be a normal day was the building rumbling. It almost felt like someone had picked it up and shook it like a snow globe.

Being knocked out of bed at godawful hours of the night was not an unfamiliar experience. The fact that it seemed to have happened on its own was new.

Alarms started blaring. Still only barely awake, she rushed to the clear plexiglass front wall of her cell to see what was going on.

The men in their lab coats were running around frantically. Whatever was going on, they didn't like it.

The building shook again. She wasn't so sure she liked it, either. She backed away from the window and hid under her bed.

The distant shaking and crashing continued for several minutes. Then, all of a sudden, there was a very nearby crash, and she just barely stifled a shriek.

Someone stepped into her cell through the shattered plexiglass. "... I don't see her."

"Eiri, come out. She's one of us."

Eiri's eyes widened at the sound of her brother's voice, and she quickly scrambled out. As promised, not only did she spot her brother, but an older woman, carrying a massive hammer that was at present slung lazily over her shoulder โ€” and atop the woman's head was a pair of feline ears much like Eiri's own, and her brother's.

"How?" Eiri muttered. "They said..."

"A lot of things, I'm sure," the woman interrupted, "but anything coming from people like this you gotta take with an entire ocean of salt." She quickly dodged behind a wall as a bullet pinged nearby. "Hoo boy. Time to leave. You coming along?"

Eiri glanced at her brother for only a moment before the woman scooped her up and set Eiri on her shoulder. (The one without the hammer.) "Rhetorical question," she said, "I'm not leaving kids in a place like this. You can decide later if you'd rather be here than outside. Hold tight. You too," she added, jerking her head towards Eiri's brother.

He climbed up on the woman's back and clung to her neck piggyback-style, and with a jolt, the woman dashed off and through the complex.

The next few minutes were very blurry, right up until the part where Eiri passed out entirely.

She was floating, somewhere out there in the galaxy, surrounded by what she thought must be stars, though she still couldn't see what they looked like.

"Yui has been your polar star. But now you must be the polar star for another."

Eiri looked around. "Who are you...?"

She felt an impression of a kind smile. "The one who โ€”ย 

"... Eiri? You awake?"

She groaned and cracked open an eyelid. Everything was bright.

"Ah, good, she is awake," said the strange woman. "Was getting kinda worried."

Eiri sat up, rubbing at her eyes. "Where are we? Everything's so... green..."

Eiri spotted Yui sitting not far away, just as he exchanged a glance with the strange woman. "I don't even know what level of locked-in-a-cave you two are on," the woman told him. "Like, do I need to go full condescension and explain the very concept of trees and forests to her, or can I just say a place's name and that'll get the point across?"

"We know what forests are," Yui mumbled. Which wasn't untrue.

"Okay, good," the woman said. "We're in one. Not too far from the complex, which is good if you want to go back and bad if you don't. Though not as bad as it could be; they're too busy cleaning up my mess to send anyone to catch us, heh heh..."

"... go back?" Eiri muttered.

"Hey, you could be mentally fragile and can't handle life outside," the woman said. "I wouldn't know."

"D... don't send us back there..." Eiri said.

"Well, that answers that," the woman said. "Don't worry, I won't send you two anywhere you don't want to be. Had to check, though."

Eiri turned to Yui with a questioning look on her face, and her brother shrugged. "... who are you, anyway?" she said, looking back at the mysterious woman. "Why'd you save us?"

"Name's Pandora," the woman said with a grin, "and I was actually breaking in there for my own reasons โ€” I saved you cause I don't hold with science people keeping sapient captives as subjects like that." Her ears twitched.

"Wait, so it had nothing to do with being the same as us?!" Eiri exclaimed.

"Not in particular, no," Pandora said. "I mean, it helped. But I was planning to get in there before I even knew you two existed โ€” and knowing you existed was enough to make the decision to save you, even before I learned you were... like me."ย 

Pandora looked around. "We can't stay here too long. Like I said, we're not too far from there. There's some time to rest if you need to, but we don't want to still be here when they think to search the forest."

Eiri quickly stood up. "No, I can get going." She looked at her brother. "We should get going."

"Going it is, then," Pandora said. "Can you walk on your own now? We don't need to nyoom this time, so if you can walk, you probably should."

"Yeah, I can walk," she said, looking toward Yui.ย 

He nodded.

"Let's go, then," Pandora said, and immediately drifted off in a seemingly random direction.