Art: SpaceSmilodon (http://www.furaffinity.net/user/spacesmilodon/) and Vexxblack (http://vexxblack.deviantart.com/)
Characters (c) of Space and Vexx
Story: BRNQuil (https://brnquil.sofurry.com/) and myself. (https://arcane-reno.sofurry.com/)
Make sure to check out other work done by Space and Vexx, at http://pmdbtad.deviantart.com/
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Stuart steeled himself, eyeing his... No, rival was too strong a term --opposite, perhaps-- and wondering which direction the attack would come from, and what form it would take. "Good morning, Thomas. Thanks for coming to the meeting with me."
The cream furred feline rose from his place outside the team’s hut, stretching and yawning, displaying needle sharp teeth. "Sure. Not like I had other plans. Might as well go see what the piggies want."
Stuart frowned, but chose to let that particular comment slide. "Dmitri is going to meet us by the well, so let's not keep him waiting, shall we?"
Thomas joined him, padding alongside with the characteristic grace of his species. Despite their differences, Stuart had to admire the cat's pure effortlessness of motion and utter silence of movement. Even he had a hard time moving through the forest without disturbing so much as a twig.
"So," Thomas said after a moment or two of walking, "Talked ditzy donkey into staying behind, did you?"
There it was, the first true potshot. Stuart gritted his teeth. "No need for name-calling, Thomas. Dusty is ill. And, I might add, a valuable member of this team. You would do well to remember that, and have a little more respect."
Thomas' tail twitched spastically. "You can't deny it's going to be a lot easier to get this over with without him bouncing around."
The worst part, was that Stuart had to agree with Thomas's assessment. At least, to a degree. "Maybe, but that's no excuse. I don't want to hear any more blatant insults to our teammates. Or our clients. Clear?"
He sensed more than saw the persian roll his green eyes skyward. "Whatever you say, fearless leader. I'll be sure to keep my insults nice and subtle from now on."
Again, he let the barb slide, though inwardly, he was beginning to seethe. He tried his best, but Thomas seemed determined to act exactly like a certain luxio Stuart had known back when he was an eevee. A luxio that had been fond of 'protecting' smaller 'mons, for the small fee of all their money or food. What, exactly, he was protecting them against became quite clear once someone couldn't or wouldn't pay.
Still, even with his regrettable personality, Thomas was a useful and resourceful member of the moonlighters, with skills they sorely needed. That didn't stop Stuart from entertaining the odd fantasy of double-kicking the bastard right in that smug mouth.
After several minutes more of pointedly silent walking, the pair entered the central square of Kenogami Village. Here, many various pokémon bustled about their daily business, but it was not difficult to spot their potential client.
Beside the well stood a massive figure, looking more like a haystack made of hair than a living being. Only as Stuart and Thomas drew closer did it become apparent that this was indeed a pokémon, and not the leavings of a mad groomer, as the massive head raised, a wide snout snuffling the air. Stuart paused midstep, puzzled.
Before he could speak, the mamoswine said, "Hmmmmm, greetings, young Stuart, good of you to come." Each word was spoken with ponderous contemplation, rumbling deep in the throat of the large pachyderm.
Stuart inclined his head. "Our pleasure… Boris. This is my teammate, Thomas." The persian gave a jerky nod, his tail twitching. “Though, forgive me for asking, but I thought it was Dmitri who was to meet with us? Is he well?”
"Hmmmmm. Well met, Thomas." The elderly 'mon turned back to Stuart. "Dmitri is well, but there are… other matters, which require his attention at this time, hmmmmm. He requested that I come in his stead, as an elder patriarch of the herd. And is this the, hmmmm, extent, of the Moonlighters rescue team?"
"No," Stuart replied. "There are two more, back at our headquarters. One of our number isn't feeling his usual chipper self this morning, so only Thomas and I came."
"I see. Hmmmmmmmmmmm." The mamoswine's soulful eyes, barely visible under a long fringe of hair, looked troubled.
Stuart waited patiently for him to continue, but when nothing seemed forthcoming, he prompted, "Dmitri’s message didn't say too much. Only that he wanted to meet. How exactly can the Moonlighters be of assistance to the herd?"
"And what's in it for us?" Thomas chimed in. Stuart shot him a glare, but the feline didn't even deign to notice.
"Yes, the herd, hmmmm. We have had... Difficulties, as of late."
"The sort that require a rescue team," Stuart prodded.
"Hmmmmm. Yes. Tell me, are you familiar with the territory around mount Frostbite?"
"Frostbite?" Stuart suppressed a shudder. " I wouldn't say familiar, exactly, but I know of it and Thomas has been there once, I believe?" Thomas nodded. "What about it?"
Boris's great head swung from side to side. "Hmmmm. This may not do after all. Frostbite is a, hmmmm, unforgiving place, not suited to ones who are not experienced in its ways. Perhaps another rescue team might be best, hmmmm."
"Sir," Stuart said, choosing his words carefully. " With all due respect, you haven't even told us exactly what it is you need. Our team may be small, but we are a well-rounded group. Why not give us a chance to tackle your problem for you?"
Boris examined the two of them, his breath occasionally puffing out the fringe of hair over his face. The gentle scent of hay and sweet grasses tickled Stuart's nose. "Hmmm, perhaps, young Stuart, perhaps. I will consider it, but I wish to meet the rest of your team first. I will not send inexperienced youngsters into such a harsh environment, hmmmm."
"This inexperienced youngster could put your tail out to pasture in his sleep, grandpa," Thomas muttered, barely audible even to Stuart's ears. He winced inwardly, but Boris didn't appear to have heard.
"Fine, if you feel it's necessary," Stuart said, shooting another glare at Thomas. "Please come with us, it isn't far. I'm sure you will find us more prepared than you might think." This time, the persian met his eyes, with a look of complete innocence that seemed to say, 'What? I kept my word.'
Yes, Stuart thought, as the three stood, Boris following them out of the village square. You always do, don't you, Thomas? You always do.
And so do I.