My goodness, that's a long and unprofessional-sounding title. Anyway, something like three years ago, I wrote Shades of Gray with one of my real-life friends, who goes by the name Namines_Angel (so if you see the outhor listed as her, it's because this is also a collaborative fic). Admittedly, looking back on it, much of the writing in there is an atrocity, but one has to start somewhere, no? Anyway, this prequel to it has eaten up yet another year of my life, but I have to say, I'm much more pleased with the results, stylistically, at least. I'm not going to lie, though; this is a foray out into the blue for anyone who hasn't read Shades first. This is the story of the main villain trio of original characters from that fic, and to be honest, there is very little Kingdom Hearts basis in the first 15 or so chapters. I want to stress this before it even starts. So yes, if you like the start of this, go and read Shades, please! It'll make SO much more sense if you do.
The rat stared out at the laboratory that was all he’d known since birth. The glow from the high-set, almost prison-like windows was almost gone, and even the light from the rounded hanging lamps was very dim, flickering continually as though someone was trying to snuff it out. The play of the shadows across the surgical equipment and spotless silver countertops was very enticing. If he could only he could somehow get out, climb up the sides, perhaps… and yet as he scrabbled against the glass, he knew it was futile. He was eternally stuck in this foot-long cage.
Bored, he set to grooming himself. There was a certain mousy pride to be had in the state of one’s fur, but recently his had refused to cooperate with him. His body had undergone some harrowing changes in the past while. Two patches right on his shoulderblades seemed bent on staying as vertical as possible in spite of his continual efforts to flatten them, and they were causing him much embarrassment. His tail had even split in two, and some more of his fluffy white fur was poking out of each end. Still, the humans did not seem to mind… In fact, the first day this had occurred, they were incredibly pleased. Very noisy as well, he recalled. He’d scarcely heard anything that day other then the chink of glass and much laughter.
Ever since they’d thrown a female into his cage every week or so, which was unusual. He recognized the rat in the cage beside him as one of them. She’d had her babies a fortnight prior, and today they were showing their first signs of fur. Curiously, it was most prominent on their shoulderblades as well, even more so than his… it was all very strange…
“Ah, there you are, my little friend!” came a familiar voice, and the hand of his favorite human dipped down into his enclosure.
“Mus, you’re my first true success,” said the man with much jubilation as he petted the lethargic rat’s head with one finger. “Look at this! You’ve grown… well, I dare not call them wings, I do believe you’d fall rather quickly if you tried to use them, but nonetheless! And your tail has adapted as well… yes, for stability in flight…You, my friend, are a genetic marvel!”
“Don’t get too carried away, Malenion,” warned an older woman who had just appeared from the back room. “He’s never going to fly, and I still don’t get the point behind this experiment anyway. Flying rats… that’ll revolutionize the world.”
“There is no greater purpose than the pursuit of happiness, Ermengarde,” he quipped, brushing off her sarcasm. “And they might,” he said, gesturing at the barely-furry newborns.
“You keep on thinking that,” she muttered with mock frustration, though in reality she was very tolerant of Malenion’s hare-brained ways. It was difficult to dislike him, despite his tendency to choose projects that with no real benefit. “You know it’s nine-thirty, right? Shouldn’t you be getting home?”
“You’d be right there,” he remarked wryly, running his fingers through his already haphazardly arranged hair, pulling more tiny pinkish-red spikes up. “She’s going to kill me, Ermen,” he added with a woeful look to his assistant.
“Fortunately for you, six years of needing to remind you to leave the lab have made me pretty good at warning your poor wife of it in advance. But she does expect you home by ten,” said Ermengarde fondly.
“I’m on my way!” yelled Malenion frantically, grabbing his jacket in such haste that he upended the coat rack, Ermengarde chuckling all the way.
Pedaling urgently on the old-fashioned, rusty bicycle that got him to and from work each day, Malenion approached the small stone house on the outskirts of Twilight Town with some caution. Quietly grabbing the roses that he’d carried home in his mouth, he slunk through the door as stealthily as he could manage, taking care to close it in complete silence. Beyond pleased that he’d not made a sound, he turned to go deposit his bouquet on his wife’s bed.
“And where’ve you been?” asked an inquisitive voice. Before he saw its owner, he knew who it was. And there she was, his wife, tapping her foot impatiently on the floor, her knee-length brown hair streaked with lilac and green and tied back into a Rapunzel-like braid.
“I thought Ermen- that is, I-” the man stammered, searching vainly for an excuse. Finally, he gave up and sheepishly held out his peace offering. “I brought you flowers!”
Though she’d looked ready to explode only moments before, this gesture seemed to appease her, and she became much more gentle. “Oh, well- thank you,” she said softly, smiling forgivingly at her husband.
“So, how did it go?” he asked, adopting his usual cheery tones again.
“Oh, well,” she answered evasively, a suggestive smirk plastered all over her face. “But you are so lucky Maria was able to come babysit, so I could actually get there.”
“Do we know what it is, then?” persisted Malenion with an eager grin.
“Oh, I do,” she said coyly, turning her back to her husband to get a vase out of the palm-green cupboards, “and of course, I was going to tell you, but now, it has come to my attention that you don’t want to know badly enough to attend certain necessary appointments.”
“Oh, but I do want to know! Please, Kalani?” Malenion pleaded, rushing to her side and toppling the mountain of soapy dishes in the island sink, thankfully none of which were breakable. “I’ll get that,” he assured her, diving for the escaped pots and sippy-cup with abandon.
“Well, would you prefer that, or that I not talk to you?” she inquired, calmly bunching her roses in the vase while her husband continued to scrabble about on the tiles below.
Before the weary scientist could give an answer, an older-looking, heavyset child burst in, baseball bat held high, chestnut hair flying. When he saw who was there, however, he dropped his would-be weapon and ran to hug Malenion.
“Goodness, Ri, don’t do that!” the woman exclaimed, eyes wide
“But I heard a crash,” he said in a tone of innocent confusion.
“I wonder why,” muttered Kalani with a glance downward. “But you, Rion, should be in bed.”
“Well I can’t sleep now,” he complained. “I wanna talk to Dad.”
Malenion glanced hopefully up at her, and looking defeated, she took a tin of hot chocolate from the countertop and set out three mugs while a delighted Rion ushered his father into a chair.
“I got another A in science, you know,” he recounted, and Malenion beamed at him.
“That’s great, Ri,” he said, “but has your mother, um, mentioned anything recently?”
The latter glared at him over the rim of her mug, but he continued to look expectantly at his child.
“Well, if you mean what I think you mean,” said Rion seriously, “I was asleep when she came back. But can you tell me, Mom, I really want to know!”
“Kali!” he moaned in desperation, “You musn’t withhold such information, it could very well drive me to the brink of insanity!”
“Little late for that, isn’t it?” she asked, staring at Malenion, who had now buried his face into the tabletop, muffling his response rather comically.
“Fine, FINE! It’s twin girls, now may I go to bed?”