Previously: Character Profile: the Blue Spark
Maybe it was because the swarm of tiny, knife-wielding Japanese schoolgirls on butterfly wings had reduced visibility to zero for a little while there. Maybe it was because the third eye inspection that Sky Prince had just performed on him — that piercing, tingle-inducing gaze — had left him feeling flustered and excited and, weirdly, naked (weird because he had not felt the need for, nor even the absence of, clothing before that moment). Or maybe it was something else. Whatever the reason, Snake-Boy had sort of forgotten that they were surrounded by thousands of his own rioting, hyper-violent snake-brothers. He had sort of forgotten that a deadly attack by the Crimebusters was exploding all around him. Maybe it was already love that had muffled the rest of the world. He didn’t know the concept, though, and could not be expected to account for such a thing, or even recognize it.
Either way, the instant that Sky Prince’s face hit the ground, the world — its noisiness and smelliness, the screaming, the dying, the shaking earth, the bright red flickering morning sky — slammed back into existence around them. Snake-Boy took a breath. It came hot on his tongue and into his lungs. He took a step backwards. His head rang. His eyes watered. He wanted, maybe, to cry, except that that was another concept he did not yet have available to him. A couple of his brothers pushed past him to try to get to the fallen Sky Prince. And then a couple more.
“Uh. No,” said Snake-Boy. It didn’t seem fair, attacking a kid who had already hit the ground, who was already seriously wounded. He waved his hands at them. “Stop? Please?” A few more snake-brothers came running. He stood over Sky Prince, waving arms and shoulder-snakes. “Go away!” he screamed. “Leave us alone!”
The unthinkable but undeniable fact that one of their own was blocking the way, standing between them and an easy kill, confused the snake-brothers just enough to make them stop.
“This one is mine!” Snake-Boy screamed.
That seemed to make some kind of sense to the snake-brothers, who turned and scurried away, in search of easier pickings.
Behind Snake-Boy, the dog-girl, sitting on a pile of snake-brothers she herself had handily acquitted, clapped. “You confounded them. Very impressive!” Then she looked down at Sky Prince. She looked back up at Snake-Boy. “He’ll be just fine, you know.”
“You think so?” said Snake-Boy, poking at Sky Prince gingerly with his foot-claw.
The girl walked over, stuck her hand out, “Lady Dogface, pleased to meet you.”
He placed his hand into hers, but didn’t shake: concept unavailable, etc. “I don’t think I have a name.”
“We’ll call you Snake-Boy, for now.” She took advantage of her grip on his hand to turn it over, pull his arm toward her. “I got you pretty good. Pretty bad, I mean” she said, with a smile and a wince. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing,” said Snake-Boy.
Sky Prince, beneath them, flopped around a bit, made a mumbling moan.
Lady Dogface finally extracted her hand, flapped it toward the city streets behind Snake-Boy. “You better stay out of the field of battle, or somebody might really hurt you,” said Lady Dogface. “Go hang out in the city. Do tourist stuff or something. You can’t stay here. I mean, you look just like one of them,” she added, angling her head at the pile of snake-brothers she had just been sitting on.
“I am one of them,” he said.
“No.” She put a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t think so. Now git.” She saw that he was looking down at Sky Prince. “Ugh. Don’t worry about him. His dad will come along at some point. This happens all the time.”
“Not,” said Sky Prince, slowly, painfully, “true.”
“Whatevs,” said Lady Dogface. “You’re just not cut out for the crimebusting life, I don’t care who your dad is.” She turned and started walking back toward the base of the southerly Tower, where another battalion of his brothers was attempting a final stand. Over her shoulder, quickly, breathlessly: “Give him mouth-to-mouth or something, if you want to be helpful. I don’t know. Something.” Then she laughed, and waved. “Nice meeting you! Bye!”
“Wait!” said Snake-Boy. He stood there.
Sky Prince coughed. Blood squirted out of his nose. He spoke a few words to himself, and giggled, and sighed. Blood bubbled out of his mouth.
Snake-Boy shouted, in Lady Dogface’s direction, “What is mouth-to-mouth?”