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Rydia's Tale
by Mark van Sciver
Mark van Sciver -- all rights reserved

"Oh, no, I get asked that all the time. Mice taste just like snakes, only a bit meatier." YES! Score another one. I'm smirking a bit too much, though, I can't get the bonus for a straight face. Although I doubt this norm can even tell.

Humans can be so entertaining at times. This is a rather crude example, though rather common. I suppose I should be a little nicer, though, what with the pressure coming down again from the mundanes. Have to encourage what tiny spark of free-thinking is left among humans..

I smile warmly, making a point to do so obviously enough that anyone can tell, odd facial structure and all. "Please, I apologize. To answer you more seriously, they have a rather distinctive flavor. To be quite honest, I rather prefer the taste of chicken, but mice are cheaper, and much more entertaining while still alive." Hrm.. That did not seem to re-assure him very much..

I still think these personal recorders are very nice. I can write my life's story in just a few minutes each day. Much better than that notepad that one fellow is constantly scribbling in. But, I suppose people have to use what works for them.

I decide to try one last thing to keep this guy from getting totally freaked out. "If it makes you feel better, I'll stick to pretzels for the evening." He seems a bit more relieved at that statement.

"Oh, well, I wouldn't want you to be deprived.."

"No, no, I won't need that sort of food for at least another day."

"Need?" he asked, looking surprised.

"Er.. Never mind." I turn away. I do NOT like to be reminded of that, even if I'm the one who did it. I can hear the fellow getting off his barstool and leaving, but I don't turn back around. I am NOT ready to deal with this, I am NOT going to start..

"Looks like you messed that one up, Rydz."

"Ugh.. Jack, how many times do I have to ask you not to call me that?" Mr. DeMule came up behind me once again. He's so oblivious, sometimes it's funny. I think I'd have told him to buzz off months ago, except that he can be so.. entertaining at times.. That is when he's not acting like he's my boyfriend.

"Hey, it's the perfect nickname. Ever since I saw that movie, I haven't been able to think of anything better to call you." Trust me to run in with someone who actually LIKES 'Beetlejuice'..

"Jack.. Go away. Now's not a good time." Predatory signals come to the rescue again, as he backs off and walks away. Although I can't quite recall ever seeing a tiger attacking a mule, I'm sure it's possible.. I turn back to the bar and drink my cola, trying not to think about the way my life is going.

What, you think I LIKE being a cat? Gimme a break. Oh, yeah, sure, I have guys falling all over me. I had that long before the 'grace and style' routine. Sure, I can hunt'n'chase with the best of 'em. But I'm practically carnivorous now, for crying out loud, I haven't had a good salad in YEARS! I don't think anyone stops to think about how this would make a former vegetarian feel. Why should they? They don't... Ahh, I'm losing my cool again, and I'm sorry. You're not supposed to see me like this. I look around, and see just about everyone in the room that I'd pegged as being empathic looking in my general direction, and realize it's about time to leave. I wave to the barkeep, smiling seductively, and if he forgets to put my drink on the tab, is that my responsibility?

"Just gimme the purse and the necklace, and nothing.. untoward will happen."

Oh, lovely, a thug who thinks he has a vocabulary. I sniff a bit, trying not to gag at the scent of someone who probably hasn't bathed this month. Two more hiding in the shadows. Child's play. OK, OK, 'child-who-happens-to-have-Aspect-of-Lioness's play'.

"So what, you're trying to rob me?"

"No 'trying' about it, now hand it over."

"Oh, just making sure." Step 1, take gun from limp hand. Step 2, take safety off. Step 3, blow away opposition. Wimps. Thigh shots don't hurt THAT much. But then I guess they're not used to being the ones who're hurt.

"Police! Drop the gun!"

Oh, now this is just TOO amusing. I drop the gun, so as to avoid un-necessary injury. "Calm down, they've already been taken care of."

"Get down on the ground, face down, NOW!"

This is losing its lustre rapidly. "I've already been robbed, I don't need to get my face muddy as well. I'm totally unarmed, and I'm not the criminal to begin with, so.." "I said ON THE GROUND!"

Think fast, Rydz.. Of course! In the process of slowly going towards the ground, I replay the thug's impolite, yet ineloquent missive to me, off my recorder. And here I didn't think the speakers would be worth the money. By the time I'm on my knees, I can tell from the expression on his face he's heard enough, and I stand back up. "So.. I imagine there's some paperwork to fill out now?"

"But what I don't understand is how you got the gun away from him in the first place." I was rather worried when they talked about official questions they'd set me up in something right out of Basic Instinct, but this was actually rather nice. Although I imagine there was some hidden meaning to his referring to this seat as the 'Comfy Chair'..

"You're talking to someone who, when necessary, can become approximately eighty percent feline. Between Cheetah's speed and Tiger's strength, it was not difficult. Of course, I never have quite figured out claws, but in this case I was fortunate enough not to need them." Let's see if these bright boys can figure out what that ripping sound really was. I don't believe in revealing capabilities un-necessarily, and claws are the ultimate in concealed weaponry. Kinda makes me wonder what sort of license they'd make me pay for if they knew I had 'em, tho..

As soon as I walked in the door, the cheering started. I just paused there and soaked it up. What, you expect me to be shy or something? I really am the hero this time. I think about ten different guys offered me a drink, including the bartender. Up from my average of six, which is nice. Just this place's way of showing me I'm appreciated, I guess.

"Rydia," said that one really serious fellow, "we all owe you a debt of gratitude for your work last night."

I looked at him with that special mixture of puzzlement and amusement. "The police force of this city deal with much more dangerous situations on a daily basis. When was the last time you had such a comment for them?"

He just sorta deflated a bit, and walked off. I still don't understand why people react that way when I find something I don't understand, and ask about it.. I shrugged, and sat down at the bar to start working on my free drinks. Maybe my life will improve now. Maybe Jack will stop hitting on me. Maybe I'll actually go out with him. ..I believe the phrase is 'schyea, and maybe monkeys will come flying out of my butt'... But I could be wrong.

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