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The Cat Didn't Come Back

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Zara had been making Tiuku a gift.

She still didn’t approve of her… less-than-legal actions, to be sure. But after the incident at the Admiralty Office, she also knew that there was little she could do to stop her. So, she figured, if Tiuku was going to be doing those sorts of things anyway, she might as well try to make sure she doesn’t get caught, right? So she took a few bars of Fontainium, set aside a couple canisters of magic, and when she was finished the day’s work repairing the CAFs with Eustace, she got to work on her personal project. The concept was pretty ingenious, if she said so herself, and the execution was even more complicated. How to reduce a certain type of kinetic energy without negating all motion in the area? How to ensure that it would function safely and not cause another accident, especially given that its design required it to experience sudden forces? She may have spent a few too many late nights working on them, but she felt she was making good progress.

And then it happened. On the way back from Toulaine, during what should have been a calm, uneventful night, Tiuku disappeared, taking her CAF with her. It was ironic, really. After all the effort Zara had put in to making the Sonic Cancellation Grenades, Tiuku had been able to slip away without a sound. After that, Zara shelved them for a while. There was no purpose for them, anymore. Later, when Radiant told her to make gadgets for the rest of the team, she figured she may as well put them to good use. Giving them to Ford may not have been her smartest decision ever (he tended to be, well, fairly overt in his combat) but she just couldn’t stand having them on a shelf, seeming to stare at her all day. If nothing else, they were probably safer with Ford than they were in her lab. After seeing Mr. Marble’s workers poking around inside, she wasn’t too sure about the security around here. Ford wasn’t likely to use them, either, which means they’d still be there for Tiuku when she… when …

Zara paused. She realized that this whole time, she had been expecting Tiuku to return. She shook her head. She couldn’t keep getting caught up in her thoughts like this. She needed to get back to work. She needed to be prepared. She needed to be there for her team. She needed…

She needed Tiuku.

Zara didn’t get much work done that night. It was hard to see her tools through the blur of tears.