Racconti di Volpe
Short stories set in the world of "Ragazza Volpe Magica ~A Fox by any other name isn't as rhythmical~"
These are more character focused and happen during downtimes during the story.
This may vanish later, if it does, it's because it's been incorporated into "A Garnish of Holly" for now though it's a separate piece
The day we became a family
“It was thirteen years ago...”
“Wuh...guhhh…” A pair of blue eyes slowly opened. The owner of them, a girl with shoulder length red hair, picked her head up off the cold steel ground below her. Her head swayed back and forth, her eyes staring sightlessly into the relative darkness around her (probably a side effect of the drugs she was still under). Processing a thought was near impossible as her body struggled to maintain itself.
She dropped her head against the ground once more with a thud, returning to the darkness from whence she came
“Hey… hey… wake up.”
Once again, heavy lids raised as light returned to the world of the red-head. “Can you hear me?” A voice asked.
“…nnuh…” A dry heave escaped her lips as she struggled to address the voice. Pushing herself up was a monumental task, but finally after some effort, she had managed to get herself up to a sitting position. Woozily, she took in her new surroundings. Bars all around her, a cage. There was one other occupant – a pale boy; around her age, his hair was a lilac color. His brows were turned up with concern as he watched the girl struggle to get up.
“Where am I?” The girl questioned. Her strength was returning to her, at least enough for her to have a coherent conversation with her new cage-mate.
“Dunno.” The boy replied, he too looked around their shared cage, noting a lack of distinguishable landmarks.
“What happened to me?” She held her head with a hand as she shook her head – it was all hazy to her.
The boy frowned. “Well, if they caught you like they did me, then drugs were probably involved.”
“Drugs?” She asked.
“Yeah, bad things like poisons and stuff. You can use them like medicine to feel better, but the right stuff can make you feel bad.” He explained.
“Oh…” The girl hung her head. This was really frightening, but as usual for her she buried her fear with righteous indignation.
“My name is Lee. What’s your name?” The boy asked suddenly.
“Vivi.” The girl replied.
“You’re a linsang, right?”
Vivi stared at him, eyes wide. If she wasn’t awake before, she was now. “Y-yeah… how did you know?” She asked, mouth agape.
Lee tilted his head. “Isn’t it obvious?” He pointed to the ears on her head. “Your ears for one are smaller than feline or candid ears and have a distinct shape. Also, your tail rings kind of give it away too.” He noted.
There were some complicated emotions in the young girl’s heart at that moment. “Nobody ever gets that right.” She mumbled in disbelief. “Hm?” Lee tilted his head, not hearing what she said. “N-nothing!” She looked him over. Lee had some weird feathery protrusions from the side of his head, and a thick but smooth tail that ended in a thin flat segment.
“What are you supposed to be?” Vivi questioned. “Ah, I’m an Axolotl.” He smiled. “We’re from the Torravio area in southern Libertera.”
“Axolotl?” She raised a brow.
“We’re healers.” He added, hoping that’d help her.
“Ah.” She nodded as if she understood. Lee knew she had no idea what he was and decided to spare her feelings.
“What can you remember?” Lee inquired of his linsang cage-mate. Furrowing her brow, she folded her arms across her chest. “Uhhh…” Thinking back, there wasn’t really anything there. It was too hazy to remember anything concrete. “There was a cloth over my mouth.” It began to come back. “It smelled kinda sweet.” Vivi recounted.
The two remained quiet for a moment. “It all went black.” She whispered, shuddering slightly.
Silence once again.
Lee crawled over to the bars, he took one in his hands. “Weird…” He whispered.
“What’s that?” Vivi asked crawling up next to him.
“These bars aren’t made of Vatonium.” He noted, running his hands up the length of the bar, before placing his palms on the iron ceiling above them.
“What the heck is Vatonium?” Vivi raised a brow.
“It’s a type of metal that absorbs rhythm.” He told her. “It’s weird they’re not using it.”
“How can you tell?” Vivi questioned.
“Well. If it was Vatonium, just touching it like this would start pulling rhythm out of me.” He told her. “But I don’t feel anything.”
“Oh.” Vivi stared at the boy. “How do you know so much?” She asked after a moment of contemplation.
“Lots of reading.” The boy smiled, though it would fade quickly. “And a bit of practical experience.” He spoke in a more hushed tone.
Before either of them could dwell further on that comment, Vivi’s ears twitched suddenly. “Someone’s coming!” She looked to Lee. “Quick! Pretend to be asleep!” He hissed.
After the large metal doors rolled up to the ceiling, they would hear the sounds of squeaky wheels which signaled the beginning of the next twenty minutes of chaos. Metal scraping against metal and finally a thunderous thud. This would repeat several more times. More and more loud thuds all around them as it seemed like the world was falling apart around them. The linsang and axolotl remained quiet, unmoving, resisting the urges to flinch with every monstrous slamming of heavy metal against concrete.
Finally the chaos would cease. The large metal door rolled back to the ground and slammed shut with one final crash against the solid ground.
“… going on?”
The two children looked around in shock – there were dozens of small cages housing a variety of children like them. They were the only two conscious amongst the captives. Vivi balled up her fists, eyes wide. She didn’t want to be scared, but seeing all this was starting to be too much. “It’s okay Vivi, we have to stay calm.”
“Stay calm?!” She hissed. “How can you stay calm-” She turned to the boy, her tone beginning to lighten as she met eyes with him. “-seeing all this…” Her expression softened. He looked as horrified as she did. They were just a couple of seven-year-olds, these people that kidnapped them… they were obviously professionals. There’s no way they could stand up to adults like that.
“This sucks.” Vivi grumbled. “I… never even got a maestro.” She hugged herself. It was obvious she was holding back how she really felt, how she wanted to express herself. Lee lowered his head, the entire emotional weight of his fellow cage mate washing over him.
Even being so young, they both recognized the seriousness of the situation they were in.
Hours passed in silence.
Slowly the other captives began to awaken as their own doses of whatever sleeping drug that put them under had worn off. Vivi and Lee just listened as the various other kids started to piece together their situation.
“What do you think’s gonna happen to us Lee?” Vivi whispered.
“Based on what I can see… we’re all pretty rare.” Lee noted. “We’re probably going to be sold off to various collectors.”
The sounds of crying and shouting coated that statement with a certain weight that was hard to ignore. “How do you even know that?” Vivi questioned.
Lee looked to the linsang. “I’ve watched it happen before. Simple.” He gave a rather bitter smile. “D-don’t smile like that. It’s creepy.” Vivi gulped. “It takes a certain eye to recognize what you are, so I would think that there’s not many people who could appreciate your rarity.” Lee added.
Vivi didn’t really understand what Lee was saying, but nonetheless it made her blush a bit. “S-stop that.” She grumbled.
The room went silent when the sounds of the large door being thrown open. It was daytime based on the light that shone in from the open door. “We got all kinds here. Freshly caught.” A gruff male voice said. “I see. My master has a very particular taste.” Another male voice spoke, though unlike the gruff voice from prior, this second voice carried a distinct elegance that was hard to ignore.
“Well, we got some rare ones here. No point snatching up the cats and dogs eh?” The kids all listened to the sounds of a few sets of footsteps as the captors led this prospective buyer around. Lee and Vivi listened intently as the sellers tried to peddle their wares to their client. Lee stroked his chin in thought as he heard some of the species names. Like he had suspected from initial observation, there were some highly prized resonators amongst the captives here.
Soon it was Lee and Vivi’s turn.
“In dis one we got an Axolotl and a Linsang.”
The man bent down and looked over the two children through thick glasses. The Axolotl studied the man intently. He was dressed nicely, wearing a suit. He was older, hair greying naturally. A complete contrast to the rough looking poachers who were holding them captive. The linsang however glared, baring her fangs at the man, avoiding saying anything as Lee had grabbed her hand and squeezed it tightly – a gesture that spoke volumes to her for some reason.
The well-dressed man smirked, almost as if to suppress a chuckle. “Quite.” He spoke simply, standing back up straight. They moved on.
“Tch…” Vivi gritted her teeth. Being looked at like a product was demeaning. It sucked, in her own words.
It wouldn’t be too much longer before the tour would end.
“Thank you gentlemen for your time.” The elder man spoke upon the tour’s conclusion. “I will speak with my master and our decision within the day. It is my hope that nothing changes in our agreement overnight.”
Lee perked up at that last pair of words spoken. The elder man had put such emotional weight behind “night”. Why was that?
“Good doing business with you.”
With that the captives were plunged into darkness. However, when this happened, it was apparent that something was different from before.
There was a glow, that is to say there were many small points of light all over the warehouse floor. Red, blue, and yellow.
In front of every cage was a small crystal, left just within the reach of each cage’s inhabitants. Eagerly all of the crystals were snatched up. Vivi had grabbed the crystal in front of their own cage. “What is it? It’s so pretty.” Vivi asked, looking over the glowing blue gemstone. “That’s a rubato crystal. We can cast a spell using that!” Lee said, his voice shaking from excitement.
The rest of the captives were similarly excited at the prospect of being able to use their spells with the crystals that had been left for them and chatter began amongst the kidnapped. In that moment of chaos though, Lee heard the word “night” ring in his head.
“Wait! Everyone!” Lee shouted amongst the cacophony of voices. “We need to wait until night!” He shouted. There was immediately dissent amongst the various captives. Lee shirked back as they began to yell back at him.
“Shaddap!” Vivi barked. “Ya’ll want them to come back!? Listen to Lee!” She continued to shout. The room came to silence. Lee just stared at the girl. “You do got a plan, right?” She asked.
Lee nodded, failing to suppress a smile towards Vivi. “So here’s what we do.”
Day passed to night on the lot of the warehouse the poachers were using. On the outskirts of a major city, they had to be selective about who they allowed on their property. So naturally, there were cameras mounted everywhere as well as the poachers themselves living on-site to make sure their product didn’t escape the shelves unpaid.
The recent hunt had gone well. As it turned out there were some high-quality resonators out there just wandering the streets alone. Even if they had maestros before it wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to burn out the chips that connected them to their tuners.
At any rate it looked to be another peaceful evening.
“Hey, what’d ya’ll do to the brats?” One poacher asked, returning to the office they had renovated into living quarters.
“Hm? What are ya talkin’ about?” One of the group looked up from their game of cards.
“They’re pretty quiet. Usually they’re makin’ all kinds a racket.” The returning poacher told his counterpart, sitting at the table with the rest of his associates.
“Dunno, we didn’t do nuthin’ to dem. Maybe we just got lucky with dis catch. Dey got some sense.”
“I dunno, sometin felt off.”
“Go watch the cameras then if yer so worried about it.” The boss of the group spoke up.
With a short nod, the concerned poacher got up from the table and went to the camera room that was upstairs. The rest of the group resumed their card game; however, they wouldn’t be able to finish their hand as a panicked shout came from upstairs.
“BOSS WE GOT A PROBLEM!!”
The group rushed up to where their fellow poacher was and stared at the screen in horror. Not only was the camera watching over their stock of captured resonators offline, but it seemed the building had caught fire.
Inspecting the other screens, they’d see the resonators they had taken such care in capturing were all now running free.
“GO GET THEM! QUICK!” The boss of the group shouted. As his henchmen ran off to do his dirty work, he rewound the tapes, specifically the camera that went out first – the warehouse containing the goods.
Who did this?
Who was responsible?
Sure enough he’d watch the bars of one particular cage be melted off, followed by the first captures of the day: the axolotl and the linsang helping their fellow captives escape.
Finally, he watched the axolotl direct one of the other resonators to destroy the camera with a smirk on his face.
Now, it was personal.
Lee and Vivi, after having made sure everyone else got out of the warehouse moved to escape themselves. However, there would be a complication.
“There’s two of them!” One of the poachers shouted.
Lee gritted his teeth. “Vivi, ru-” Before he could finish his thought, the linsang had grabbed his hand and pulled him away. “Get away without me damn it! I’ll just slow you down!” Lee shouted, barely able to keep up with the fire resonator’s speed. “No way!!” Vivi barked back. “I’m not leaving you!” She cried out.
“L'onda di tempesta, Rallentando!”
Underneath the two escapees a river of water formed. “Ack!” Vivi cried out, her feet instantly getting stuck. She would fall over into the water, causing Lee to trip on her and land on her and winding her in the process.
The river began to flow, pulling the fallen pair towards the boss of the poachers and his resonator: a large water-element wolf resonator.
“I’m stuck Lee!” Vivi yelped. Lee, being water element himself, wrapped his arms around his water-weak counterpart and rolled out of the stream.
“Manga de Agua, Fortissimo!”
A tornado of water swirled up from below the two, sucking them into the vortex. Lee held onto Vivi as they rotated around the water spout.
A wicked smirk rose on the head poacher’s lips. “Ghiacciolo, Piano Staccato.”
Unfortunately for Vivi and Lee, his resonator knew what his maestro was commanding by giving him access to that spell. The wolf-man began throwing volley after volley of ice needles into the raging torrent of water, which pierced and stung the helpless resonators inside.
Finally, the spell reached its end, throwing the barely conscious Lee and Vivi to the ground with a splat. Both of them were bleeding heavily, clothes torn to shreds and totally soaked from the combination of spells used on them.
The boss chuckled. “Still breathing after all that? Yeah, you’d fetch a nice price, too bad.” He looked around. The authorities would definitely be here soon. After all there was a massive fire raging through the complex. Given the nearly abandoned nature of it, nobody usually came around here, but it also meant that the fire suppression measures were basically non-existent.
“But I think I’ll have much more fun making you suffer.”
Lee gulped hard. They were gonna die here. “L-lee…” Vivi choked out. “Run…” She wheezed. It was hard to see since she was soaked, but there was a considerable amount of tears streaming down her blood soaked face.
“You think I can move after all that?” Lee laughed back hollowly. “D-damn it…” Vivi cursed. “I… was hoping to save you.” She took in a sharp breath, it hurt a lot but she had to get her thoughts out while she was still able. “You’re so cool Lee… I wanted you to get out…” She coughed hard after this, trembling.
Lee smiled weakly. It was hard to maintain his consciousness, but he had to. Maybe there was a way to get out of this? No, that man was intent on killing them right here. The axolotl could feel the bloodlust.
“Prigione di ghiaccio, Fortissimo!” Two halves of what appeared to be a coffin made of ice formed on either side of the two resonators. They rushed together to encase the pair in an icy prison. Lee held Vivi tightly as their demise rushed towards them.
However, instead of ice snapping shut around them, the huge slabs of frozen water were held in place, by a bubble of iron fragments.
And then out of nowhere the ice melted away as if it was never there. Along with it the bubble of iron fillings faded away.
“What the FUCK?!” The poacher shouted as his resonator’s spell was blocked and fizzled seemingly out of nowhere.
Stepping into their view was someone wearing yellow and white shoes. “Pickin’ on a couple of kids?” The owner of the shoes in question spoke. Lee and Vivi both looked up at the boy standing in front of them. Clad in orange and white, with messy yellow hair, a long thin tail swished slowly behind him and atop his head were two large circular years. His hands in his pockets, his breathing calm, relaxed even, despite the two significantly larger men in front of him.
“Who the fuck are you?! Did you do that?!” The poacher shouted.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” The boy chuckled.
Who was this boy? Why did he show no fear of them? He couldn’t have been older than ten or so. Questions like these swirled in both Lee and Vivi’s heads as the poacher grew more and more furious the longer this interloper stood before them.
“Manga de Agua, Fortissimo!” The poacher angrily demanded.
“Oh that’s a shame.” The boy tittered. With a snap of a finger a huge bolt of lightning descended from the sky, striking the wolf-man dead on. Instantly the large water resonator went from preparing a spell to laying on the ground, smoldering from the intense electrical attack.
“H-how?!” The poacher gasped out in shock at the sudden attack with no spell called out.
“Mice have a fun ability.” A new voice spoke up. It was a girl’s voice. Walking up next to the yellow haired resonator was a teen girl. Her long auburn hair tied up in a ponytail, clipped to the side of her black pants was a yellow device with three grey buttons and a red button. “They can channel spells into little mice shaped balls of rhythm for later use.” She explained. “It’s pretty useful for catching stupid morons off guard.” The mouse resonator in question grinned toothily.
“Lana, take care of them. I’ll deal with tubby here.” He told his own maestro.
“You got it Blair. Give ‘em hell!” The maestro smirked back.
Both Lee and Vivi were absolutely perplexed as they watched these two teens exchange a quick hi-five and go their separate ways, the maestro girl stepping over to them and kneeling down next to them, while the resonator boy approached the poachers alone.
The two younger resonators eyes were locked on him even as the friendly maestro began to look over their wounds.
“So, you wanna turn yourself in now?” Blair asked.
“You fucking little shit!” The poacher tried to throw a haymaker at the smaller male. Blair easily sidestepped, never removing his hands from his pockets. “Hold still!” Once again, another wild haymaker. The little boy was just faster and nimbler than the musclebound adult.
“Having a good time porky?” The mouse boy tittered.
Lee and Vivi both gasped as the man drove a knife straight into Blair. “Hey dumbshit.” Blair chuckled, raising his head to show his toothy grin. The man looked surprised. “Didn’t yer mom tell ya not to stick metal into an electrical socket?” Instead of Blair himself, the knife was stuck into his front vest pocket, specifically a ball of electricity with a tail on the end.
A second later the poacher was lit up like a light bulb before being ejected from Blairs personal bubble. Like his resonator before him, the formerly proud poacher laid on the ground, smoldering from the intense electro-shock therapy that had just been administered.
With a sharp exhale, the mouse looked over his handy work with an ounce of pride. “Blair, can you come help me with them please?” His maestro would call for him.
For Vivi, who had been through so much already, staying conscious was becoming a monumental task. Her vision swam as it started to become hazy and cold. Just when she thought it was going to be the end, she heard those words:
“Rianima il Bullone, Lento Tutti.”
Her body started to tingle, but it wasn’t a bad tingle, it felt soothing. Her body began to warm, and not a few moments later, she was well enough to move properly again.
“I-I’m okay?” Vivi asked, sitting up. “Yeah…” The maestro smiled bittersweetly. “Lee?!” Vivi looked over, however the axolotl boy wasn’t moving. “W-wait. Why didn’t you heal him?” She questioned. “Heal him!” She quickly demanded.
“He’s water, girlie.” Blair shrugged.
“So?!” Vivi barked.
“I mean, if you insist, but it’ll kill him faster.”
The linsang paled. “What? Why?”
“Water is weak to lightning. Any lightning support spell has the opposite effect.” The maestro explained.
Vivi began to panic. “No… wait.. That can’t be right. Not now…” The small girl trembled, trying to hold back her tears. “There has to be something you can do! You’re so strong! You beat those grown-ups!” She begged.
Blair frowned. He glanced over at the shallowly breathing axolotl. “Hey Lana, we just got an Ossia that could probably do the trick.” The lightning resonator spoke as he looked up to the sky.
The maestro frowned, she pulled the yellow tuner off her waist and looked at her spell list. “You’ll have to make sure we don’t get struck by the side effects.” Lana warned.
“Me being a lightning rod? You’re a real slave driver ya know that?”
“Oh please.” She chuckled. “You’ll want to get under cover for this.” The maestro advised the linsang.
Who shook her head. “Uh-uh. I’m staying right here until he’s better.” She spoke adamantly.
“Just do it, we’re losing time.” Blair urged.
“Fine fine.” The maestro relented. “Forti Temporali, Legato!”
Vivi looked to Blair who formed a little mouse ball in his hand before lightly tossing it skyward. Thick, dark clouds rapidly gathered. The sky began to rumble, and finally rain. A torrent of rain poured from the heavens.
For the fire element Vivi, this was nearly unbearable. Cold water assaulting her body was horribly uncomfortable to her. “Wh-why rain?!” Vivi shouted over the downpour.
“Water elements recover health and rhythm from sources of water, and axolotls heal even faster than other species of resonators!” Lana shouted back.
Lightning had struck nearby, however Blair had intercepted it simply by holding up his hand. Once more Vivi was entranced by these people. They were so strong. How could she get strong like them? “How’s he lookin’ boss?!” The mouse yelled over the rain as sparks arced down his body.
“Better! Should be a touch bit longer!”
Another bolt of lightning descended from the heavens, which was easily caught by Blair. “Good!” He shouted back.
Vivi sat there in shock, part from the rain battering her fiery form, part from just the sheer audacity of these people. They were so young, yet they were so powerful – it was practically unfair. Next thing Vivi knew there was a coat over her head. “I’m sure the rain is bugging you; this should keep some of it off.” The maestro smiled – it was her coat that she had draped over the fire resonator. Lowering her gaze, Vivi stared at Lee, he was starting to look better though.
The fire resonator pulled the coat tighter over herself. Rain continued to beat down as Vivi kept her gaze locked on the unmoving water-elemental. “Please be okay…” She whimpered quietly. With that small prayer, it would be answered by the stirring of the axolotl. “Rain?” Lee questioned the strange weather.
It was all wrapped up so nicely. Naturally the combination of a sudden fire followed by a rainstorm attracted the attention of the authorities. The poachers were quickly rounded up and the scattered resonators were returned to their maestros or families.
That is except…
“What a night.” Lana sighed, still drying off from the torrential downpour.
“We knew this was gonna happen Lana, you had Reed scope the place before we came out.” Blair commented.
“Yeah yeah, I’m glad we spotted the poachers earlier.” The maestro rolled her eyes. She smiled. “I’m glad everything turned out alright.”
“Well, there’s still one thing left.” Blair’s eyes moved to the side, which his maestro caught. “Really?” She questioned. He simply smirked and chuckled. “Fine fine.”
With her hand dropping to her waist, she laid it on the yellow device at her hip. “Corrente Elettrica, Pianissimo.”
Blair threw his hand in the air, and with a snap of his finger-
“EIYAAAH!” A pair of resonators fell out from the alleyway they were hiding in. “Following us huh?” Blair questioned the two younger resonators. It was the fire and water element resonators they had rescued earlier in the night.
“I thought you two went home.” Lana said, offering a hand to them. Helping both of them to their feet, the two kids stood there awkwardly, unsure of what to say. Finally Lee spoke:
“We’re both orphans. We don’t have anywhere to go.” He revealed to their saviors. “I thought maybe Lee had a maestro already cause he was so smart but… he’s just like me.” Vivi piped up, following along with Lee.
Lana looked them over. A cat and an axolotl. “Ah, she’s a linsang.” Lee seemed to pick up on what the maestro was thinking and corrected her before she even spoke. This earned a smile from the older girl. “I see.”
“Oh damnit Lana, I know that look.” Blair narrowed his eyes, folding his arms across his chest. “What!?” Lana looked almost offended. “We have our ultimate already! I think I can handle two more!” The maestro protested.
It seems she had taken the bait as Blair’s lips slowly rose to a smirk.
“Can you? Can you really?”
“Pops is gonna flip shit when he finds out you now have three of us.”
“He can fuckin’ deal!”
“What’s going on?” Vivi tilted her head confused about the odd exchange. Lana spun to face the two orphaned resonators. “You two wanna come home with us?” The maestro offered.
“Us?” Lee and Vivi each pointed to themselves.
“I gotta warn you, she’s a real slave driver. She might make you eat yer veggies and do yer homework.” Blair teased, again chuckling.
“Blair stop being a brat!” Lana shook her resonator.
Vivi looked over to Lee who seemed to be giving it serious thought. It was kind of what he was intending to accomplish by approaching their saviors, but he didn’t think it’d actually work. “S-sure.” Lee decided. “Me too!” Vivi hastily spoke up.
“Then it’s settled. Welcome to the family!” Lana smiled brightly as she tossed the shaken (not stirred) Blair away.
“Allow me to introduce myself properly.” Lana breathed in deeply before exhaling. “My name is Solana Leduc, I’ll be your maestro starting today.”