the duel: 2X1 fires a shot
Heero woke up to the small creature's mewling for its mother's milk. He cradled the baby closer, then picked it up to take it to the spring. The small sparrow woke with a surprised squak and followed him. Heero smiled wanly at the bird, saying softly, "There you are. Where were you, Shi?"
The sparrow meerly chirped at him, pale indigo eyes, so strange for a bird, glittering with humor. Heero chuckled to himself and carefully lowered the baby into the springs. The small creature let out an indignant wail and grabbed Heero with its small, but surprisingly strong, wings. Heero sighed, muttering to himself, "I need to make some fire. That'd warm up the water enough for the little one."
Shi started chirping loudly, then flitted into a hedge nearby. An irritated yelp of pain marked the presence of another human. "Come out," Heero ordered, clutching the baby creature closer.
The longhaired boy from earlier came out, plucking sharp thorns out of his hair. He grinned sheepishly at Heero, then settled next to him. "I see the phesschild is still alive. There's hope after all, it seems." At Heero's curious glance, the youth motioned towards the baby in Heero's arms. "You'll need to clean her off soon. She's filthy. She needs to get cleaned in warm water, then she needs to graze a bit. Or, if you want, you could feed her meat and make her a carnivore. Or both, which would be best."
Heero's eyebrows had steadily been raising as the youth spoke, and he broke in. "Who are you?"
The youth didn't look insulted, and answered, "I'm Duo. Nice ta meecha." He held out a hand, but Heero didn't shake it.
"How do you know so much about this, what did you call it?"
"Phesschild. It is the baby of the flying ph-"
"Whatever. How do you know so much about it, but aren't taking care of it yourself?" Heero interrupted.
Duo's grin turned mischievious, and he replied, "Ah, but that is for me to know, and you to guess, mortal."
Heero frowned. "What are you?"
The grin turned enigmatic. "I am many things, but an animal caretaker isn't one of them." He paused thoughtfully, then continued, "Neither is a fish, although I once knew this guy who could turn into one at night. But, sadly, he was thought to be a carp, and a fisherman ate him. In return, the fisherman was cursed into stone. Pretty entertaining, since the guy's still alive."
Heero's head began to swim, and he waved a desperate hand in the youth's face. "That doesn't matter. Do you know how to make fire?"
The indigo eyes twinkled, and Duo nodded enthusiasticly. "Of course I know how to make a fire. What sort of silly question is that?"
Before Duo could continue, Heero laid a hand over his mouth. The youth pouted under his hand, then, eyes glittering, licked a warm, wet path in the center of his palm. Heero jerked back, surprised. He wiped his hands on the leg of his pants, and said, "How?"
Duo blinked. "How what?" he asked, tilting his head to the side in a birdlike movement.
Heero growled slightly, then ground out, "How do you make fire?"
"Oh!" he said, a virtual lightbulb lighting up beside his forehead. "All you have to do is use the fire shrooms." He pointed towards some blazingly red and orange fungi growing at the foot of a tree. "Just break the head parts off over some dry wood, and it'll let loose some powerful chemicals to light it. And, there's a breed of deer that can give you excellent water sacks, if you cut it out carefully."
Heero nodded, listening closely. "What do the deer look like?"
"Waitaminute. Ya got to make a good blade to kill it, first. Use the dead mother phess' teeth and a long stick from the Xas tree, the one with the emerald-colored leaves and square berries. Beware of those blue vines hanging on it. They like human blood, but make great ropes. Ya gotta take out the thickest pod, with the purplish edges."
Heero nodded, and followed the youth's advise. He found the phess corpse without trouble and pulled out the long, razor-sharp canines. He paused, then, making up his mind, began skinning the beautiful creature. He laid it on a head-high branch by Duo when he returned to the spring and approached the Xas tree cautiously.
Duo glanced up at him from warming up some water for the baby. "You don't have to act like you're stalking it," he said mildly. "It can sense you already, and it's curious. It'll send out a vine to taste you, then you step closer. Stay relaxed. It'll jerk you closer, then you have to take out the biggest pod fast or it'll drain you dry."
Heero straightened up and followed Duo's instructions, and the vine grabbed him tightly, wrapping around his waist and dragging him closer. Another touched his face, and Heero flinched.
The vines had suckerpads on the underside, more like a tentacle than a plant. The pads were brownish, like dried blood. As they brushed his forehead, he could feel sharp thorns against him. He tried to relax, and muscle by muscle, he did. Then he was close enough to touch the giant pod that was hidden from view earlier by the Xas trunk. The thing was the size of a large dog, and was a purplish red. He slashed the phess tooth at the pod and cut a deep gash across the bottom of the thing. He struck it again and the pod nearly fell off, oozing a thick green liquid.
The vines began fighting back, out of its paralysis. It slashed with sharp thorns and tried to suck off his skin on his neck with its suckerpads. Heero dodged a few of the things, but got even more tangled in the thick vines. He was being inched steadily closer to the pod, which began to pulse a sickly red color. It seemed to split along the edges, but Heero finally managed to cut the pod off the rest of the way.
Duo leapt up only now and grabbed the pod, closing the jawlike sides and tilting it so no more liquid would come out. "I haven't gotten ahold of any of this in ages," he said to himself, ignoring Heero as the human pulled himself free from the vines and snagged a branch from the Xas tree in the process.
Duo pulled out a heavy-looking bag and tilted the pod so that the liquid would flow into it and grinned as Heero glared at him. "Good going, slicing along the base. That saves the pus."
Heero shuddered. "Why do you want that? It's disgusting."
The longhaired youth smirked and waggled his free hand at him. "It's a powerful healing draft ingredient. Also, if you mix it with the right stuff, it makes some kick-ass alcohol."
Duo just chuckled at that sound, and tossed the empty pod towards the rest of the remains. "Did you get most of the vines? Those things can last longer than you can, more than likely."
"Good. Now, ya need to get some deer stomachs for some sacks."
Duo pouted, saying, "What's with the monosyllables? Did I do something wrong?"
Duo threw up his hands and made an exasperated sound. "This is silly. I'm leaving." He stalked into the forest, and by the time Heero decided to follow him, there was no trace of the longhaired boy.