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:
Thomas's teeth clicked together as the cart he and Stuart rode in went over a particularly deep rut. He growled under his breath. At least he hadn't bitten his tongue this time.
Can't these two musclebrains drive?
The two tauros they had hired along with the use of the cart trundled along the path at a leisurely pace, seemingly with little care for the way they were jostling their passengers. Thomas shot a glance over at Stuart. Would their supposed 'leader' show the backbone to speak up, or would it once more fall to him to do the dirty work? The leafeon wore a speculative frown, but barely seemed to notice the rough ride. Great. Thomas knew that look all too well. If he did say anything to the tauros, he'd get a shocked, 'when did you grow horns' look from Stuart, followed by a 'holier than thou' lecture.
His ears flicked back as the cart abruptly tilted, causing Stuart to bounce against Thomas none-too-gently. The leafeon mumbled an apology -which Thomas ignored- and straightened up, returning to his brooding. If nothing else, it seemed like it would be a quiet ride. That suited Thomas just fine.
Probably thinking about Ditzy.
A small pang of guilt stabbed him. Annoying as Dusty was, he deserved a little bit of slack. Despite what his teammates seemed to think, Thomas wasn’t a heartless bastard. It wasn’t as if he wanted Dusty to die. Or, for that matter, more of the mamoswine herd. This entire scenario was about as appealing as a muk showing up in the local well.
And what if-
No. He shook off the disturbing thought that tried to crawl through his mind. They didn’t know how the disease spread, but he’d been careful. Angie on the other paw… she was holed up with their sick teammate. Likely tending him close, if he knew her. If anyone were to contract the sickness, it would be her.
A chill wind whipped up, sending a shiver down his spine and rattling the cart. They’d only been travelling a couple hours, but it seemed like the mountain was beckoning to them with invisible icy claws. He hated the cold.
Thomas glanced over at Stuart again, wondering for what seemed like the millionth time, what personal grudge the leafeon seemed to have against him. He couldn’t help his observations. He was merely being realistic, and he hated being talked down to. Yet, Stuart seemed to believe Thomas should act like as much of a do-goody-paws as he himself did. Sure, being on a rescue team meant you were one of the good guys, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t look out for yourself too! If he had his way, Stuart would have probably worked for free more often than not, and then where would their team be?
Thomas knew he was different from the others, and that would never change. To them, being a Moonlighter was more than a job. One big happy family, that was the Moonlighters! Thomas couldn’t see it. Privately, he enjoyed what they did. At least, when it involved solving more complex problems than picking flowers from one of the most miserable places he’d ever had the misfortune to visit. But, it was a livelihood, not a life.
The carriage creaked to an abrupt halt, nearly tossing Thomas out onto his nose, save for a last minute claw-grab onto the seat. He glared down at the two tauros. “Hey! Why don’t you wheel us down a cliff next? It might be a little smoother.”
“Sorry boss,” rumbled one of the bovines, turning his shaggy head to meet Thomas’s angry gaze. “Just takin’ a little break, if you don’t mind.” Taking a small lever attached to his harness into his mouth, he pulled, swinging the confining sidebar up and away. The pair of them wandered off the side of the path, nearly disappearing in the long grasses. Moments later, the sounds of rustling and munching reached Thomas’s ears, the heads of grass swaying as they were shoved aside by imposing horns.
“Looks like we don’t have much choice,” Thomas muttered.
“It’s as good a place to stop for a rest as any,” Stuart said, hopping out of the cart. “Might as well take advantage of it and stretch out the travel kinks. Just don’t go too far, please.” He too wandered off, to the opposite side of the road from the tauros.
“Don’t go too far, please,” mimicked Thomas under his breath, gritting his teeth. Like he was a kitten. Scowling, he hopped to the ground. At least for now, he’d have a surface beneath his paws that wasn’t rattling and bouncing him all over the place. He arched his back, stretching out his forepaws and flexing his claws, raking lines into the dirt.
Ooh, that was a good one.
Feeling slightly refreshed, he looked up, eying the horizon. Frostbite dominated the view, its angled spire piercing the gray sky like a talon. Its peak couldn’t be seen, shrouded by low-hanging clouds that promised a chilly welcome to any would-be explorers. Wonderful.
This is going to be a long trip.