A/N: Hello, wonderful readers! I'm doing something of a ninja-stealth-edit here real quick so you guys and gals know the lowdown. In short, I will give the chapter title, a brief summary and/or some context with a dash of A/N, and then let you piece the rest together. This IS a drabble-fic, and while there will be story-arcs here and there, my update time and the order of said things will be sporadic.
I will let you know which chapters are extensions of previous drabbles, so no worries there. Suggestions, constructive criticism, requests, Au's and more are all accepted here. Read, review and enjoy please!
PS(For those who have already read/reviewed, I haven't changed the chapter content any. Don't worry about having missed something.)
Chapter 1: How It Could've Been
A/N: A rewrite of a scene from the original movie. Something kinda urked me about the whole thing, and while I have a ton of headcanon that I'll gradually reveal for your reading pleasure, for now sate yourself with this. Gonna dive right into it.
Scrambling up the side of the rock chandelier, panic flashing through me when my grip failed. The feeling was abated a moment later when my wing caught hold of the rock. Scrambling my feet, I pulled myself higher. Pulling myself to the top, I twisted around and scootched back a little further on my rear, casting the briefest of glances skyward to confirm that, yes, it was all fitting together as I'd hoped.
"You have annoyed me for the last time!" the King glared at me, scrambling to grab me and reclaim the egg.
I allowed myself a triumphant grin. Bumped and bruised and stinging from small cuts, clutching the egg securely in my wings, the pot mere moments away from sheltering the both of us from the literal explosion to come; and everyone else, hopefully, had gotten themselves out of the city safely.
Because seriously, this was a lot of dynamite stretching out under the city. Not that I was trying to complain or anything. We had won.
"Yep!" The pot slammed over top of us; I jumped at the noise despite myself. A small grin stretched across my beak as I distantly heard the king scream. Then the explosions came. Rattling the confined space, filling my ears and shaking my bones. I curled around the egg in a desperate attempt to protect it just before everything went completely nuts.
The noise suddenly multiplied times twenty. I was thrown about and smashing into things. Two or three times I fell and was almost immediately thrown again. At last things grew quiet and stilled. I waited. And waited. And waited a little longer. I couldn't hear anything except for a loud, annoying ringing in my ears.
One of my wings burned on the inside. Forcing myself to ignore the pain, I slowly began to uncurl. I was in a small, rough space of rock and charred wood. Light pricked and lanced through several openings, dimmed yet brightening. I could only assume that leftover ash and smoke from the explosion was settling or being blown away on the wind.
As the light continued to brighten, I looked down at the egg. Horror and fear coiled around my ribs the moment I saw it. Half of it had shattered apart, leaving only one small bowl-shaped piece intact. Relief flooded me again when I realized that the three fluffy chicks nestled inside appeared largely unharmed. Eyes still closed and feathers only a little damp, thankfully keeping one another warm.
Wait wait wait, hold on, three? I counted again, slowly, and concluded that there were in fact three chicks. I'd never heard of such a thing, but it obviously wasn't impossible. I next wondered if they had begun hatching on their own, or if my tight grip throughout the explosions had done it. If so, I'd apologize to parents later. Oh, oh no!
Looking upward, I judged by the strong sunlight that everything had settled. For how long, I couldn't be sure. But I had to move, now. there was no way to know for sure if the others might have left, or if the pigs should be alive and digging through the rubble now.
Carefully shifting to my knees, then to my feet, I remained hunched over the three chicks protectively as I shoved at the boards above me. I didn't know what I would do if the rubble lay thicker than I was hoping for. If the lines of light fell into deeper cracks and not shallow ones.
After a few initial tries, I managed to shove away only a few planks of charred timber, coughing on the dust that was raised. Lightning; sharp and electric, jolting through my ribs. I gasped at this sudden pain, inhaling more dust inadvertently. I coughed some more, waving a wing to try and rid the air and stop the sharp, flashing bolts of pain in my chest.
It finally subsided, and I clung to slab of stone before me. A movement caught my eye then. I looked up enough to see the townsfolk. Anxiously, I reached down and carefully lifted up the three chicks in the bowl of their shattered egg. I looked to the townsfolk, then down at the chicks as, one by one, they peeked over the edge. I couldn't help a slight smile then. Who doesn't like small fluffy chicks? They're. . . . admittedly cute.
The smile faded as I looked back up. I expected to see anger. I expected shouting and some form of punishment in my near future. Maybe they'd take the chicks back to their parents and then leave me here. Wouldn't be the first time that Life decided to kick me while I was down. Instead, I was met with relieved, joyous faces. Overwhelmed with relief of my own, I glanced down at the three fluffy, newly-hatched birds.
Pained and weary, I carefully set them down and began to drag myself up onto the rock. Scooping them up once more, I quickly scanned the vast circle of wreckage for the quickest, safest path to the others. Slowly, painfully, I started on my way.
Chuck was preceded only by a blur of yellow, and it was only then I realized that something was wrong. His beak was moving fast, chattering about something or another, but I couldn't hear a word of it. In fact, I couldn't hear much of anything at the moment, outside of that annoying ringing in my ears.
Chuck frowned, first in agitation, which then melted into one of worry as he read my own exhausted, dumbstruck expression. He suddenly zipped in front of me, grabbing my shoulders and looking into my face intensely. He spoke again, slowly, but I'd never been one for reading beaks. I could only shake my head and smile sadly. I shrugged him off gently and hefted the chicks a little higher.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed him talking again. I simply nodded my head occasionally. Accepted his wordless offerings of help when traversing the more difficult segments of rubble and ruin. It seemed to last forever - the occasional lancing pain, the odd pain in my wing, the eternal ringing in my ears - but we finally reached the gates.
Bomb ran forward and attempted to hug me. I couldn't begin to guess what he was saying, but the rapid shift of emotions over his features gave me a few clues. Taking a guess, I urged my voice to be quiet as I spoke, "We're all okay; that's what matters most."
A half-lie; I did not feel okay in any definition of the word. But I was alive, and the three chicks were alive, and that did matter. I chanced a look up at him. He was confused, a little hurt, and I winced internally for having answered wrong. But then his gaze shifted to Chuck, who was speaking rapidly, and his expression changed to understanding and worry.
"Come on," I nodded my head towards everyone else. "Lets' get these little guys home. Or. . . gals. Kids." I finally settled upon the word.
And upon reaching the base of the slope, I hesitated. It seemed infinitely farther at the top. More like a steep mountain slope than a hill. I'd climbed a sheer cliff though! This shouldn't be too hard.
I. Was. Wrong. I was so, so, SO wrong. It only took a few steps to figure it out. A few steps, and I was about ready to give up. I was already exhausted from the long, slow, up-and-down climbing through the rubble. My wing hurt from holding up the little chicks, aching sharply in such a way that felt different from a bruise. And from the lightning bolts of pain in my chest when I bumped them or breathed too deep suggested I'd broken some ribs.
A large, feathered hand pushed against my back as Bomb supported me, and Chuck eased closer to help me support the chicks. I shot them both grateful looks, taking one slow step at a time, breathing slowly.
It took the equivalent of forever, but we finally got to the top. I paused a moment, breathing and letting the pain subside. When I finally looked up, I was a bit stunned at all the friendly, relieved faces all around me.
I shifted through the crowd, nodding and muttering occasional how it wasn't a big deal. How anyone would've done it. All the while, I searched through the happy crowd for a bird or two that weren't happy. For the parents of the three chicks.
I at last spotted them, their backs to the crowd under a nearby tree. Supporting the three chicks on my own, I broke away from the crowd. As I neared, I spoke in a voice that I hoped was quiet, "Sir, Ma'am? I think these belong to you."
As they turned, their forlorn expressions blossomed into pure joy and relief. I held the egg shell out to them. A small smile fought it's way onto my beak as the three chicks jumped into their mothers arms.
She held them close and then looked up to speak. I wasn't entirely sure that it was a thank you, but my heart warmed considerably either way at her grateful smile. I smiled a little wider and nodded.
Mighty Eagle suddenly stood before us, going on about something or other. Glancing at Bomb and Chuck out of the corner of my eyes, I realized that he was probably just blowing a bunch of hot air. I could make out nothing that he was saying, until the end. And only because of how he was gesturing.
I frowned up at him a moment, then smiled a bit ruefully. "I'm not blushing, I'm just Red."
My guess proved accurate a moment later when everyone else began to laugh. I backed away when Mighty Eagle tried to scoop me up for some sort of group hug. The pain kicked up with a vengeance; my vision blacked out a moment.
Next thing I knew I was stumbling and falling to my knees, breathing and gasping harshly. When I finally recovered, Chuck was running around in a panic, occasionally stopping in front of me before dashing off again. Bomb looked at me with concern, offering a wing.
I took it and stood again with a wince. My vision blurred with pain at the sudden movement. I stumbled, but managed to stay on my feet through pure stubbornness. Succumbing to any injuries I had now would be completely pointless. There was literally nothing out here that could help.
We had to get home. I took a final look at the demolished city before gesturing with my uninjured wing towards the boat. "Come on, we've got what we came for. It's time to go home." I raised my voice, so hopefully everyone heard me.
I couldn't be sure, but it certainly appeared that way. We all made our way to the boat, but were faced with a problem. Our mast, which had been the slingshot, was broken beyond repair. I still felt a little dizzy, but shook my head to clear it. I had to think.
Finally spotting something that could be of use, I looked around for Terence. I gestured at a small, sturdy tree that was roughly bigger than the slingshot and covered in thin branches. "Think you could get that thing on the boat?"
He smiled and raised a thumbs up. Walking over, he easily ripped the tree out by the roots. Doing my best not to gawk, I gave a shaky grin and thumbs up in return as he carried it over to the boat and settled it in.
Without even having to be asked, Chuck whirled into action. Tying it down with some spare ropes, rigging up the sails. It was a bigger struggle than I'll admit to heave myself onto the boat. When something suddenly picked me up around the waist and set me down, I admit I cried out in surprise.
At least, I think I did. I turned around to see Bomb pulling himself up after me, looking at me worriedly. I gave him a small thumbs up and quiet thanks. Before I could move to grab a paddle to help us along, he nudged my shoulder and nodded towards the mast.
I understood immediately, but it didn't mean I had to like it. I gave him my most disgruntled, annoyed look possible before shrugging and walking over. It was actually something of a relief to sit down. I shook my head and rubbed at one of my ears.
Nope, nothing. The ringing was still ever-present. It was really grating on my nerves. I looked over the heads of the birds that were beginning to paddle the boat back the way we'd come. The sight of the rolling, tossing waves distracted me a little from the pain I felt.
I'd always loved the sea, ever since I was just a small hatchling. The ocean on a clear day when viewed from high up and afar, full of rolling greens and blues and purple patches of undersea plants. It's thrashing, angry gray when storms blew in, the waves topped with foam, lashing out at everything in sight.
In the evenings and through the starry-skied nights, softly singing, a perfect lullaby. Crooning away in a lilting song of a language from the seas depths. A song with words I couldn't decipher, but kind and gentle and beautiful regardless.
The way the waves rolled and tumbled up the sand, reaching, reaching for what lay beyond at night. Retreating, running back to safety moments later. Only to try again and again, never giving up hope that they'd find something they couldn't ever have.
Wow, that got depressing fast. I shook away such thoughts and felt my injured wing gingerly. It hurt worse than a sprain. I feared now that it may be broken. Like my ribs. Shoot, this wasn't good. IT'd take me even longer to fix my house. If it could even be fixed.
I jolted a little in surprise when someone nudged my shoulder. I looked up into Judge Peckinpahs' beady eyes. Uh, yeah, but no. Don't have the energy to deal with this right now. No thank you.
With all the professional bearing he could muster, he began to speak. I couldn't help but deadpan at him throughout it. I really, really didn't want to deal with a lecture at the moment. When he finally noticed my expression, he scowled.
I cut him off as he began to ream me out, "Sir, with all due respect; shut up. I can't hear much of anything at the moment."
The judges' expression shifted immediately from agitated to contrite. He opened his beak and closed it again.
I raised my uninjured wing in a shrug, waving him off. "Don't worry yourself about it. You didn't know."
When I looked up again, he had left. Before too long, we had arrived back to Bird Island. I cast a look over the broken remains of the village. Any and all birds that had stayed behind - looking after their hatchlings, cleaning up the town, building shelters - began to surge towards the beach, desperate for good news.
And good news they received sent ripples of relief and cheers throughout the growing crowd. As brds piled off the boat, I stood and made my way off, as well. Avoiding the crowd to the best of my ability, I instead made a beeline for my house.
My extremely smashed-up house. I sighed, grumbling lightly under my breath. Well, look on the bright side. No stupid, fat green home invaders, and I wouldn't be able to hear any loud celebrations either. At least, until the ringing died down a bit.
I pushed open the door and huffed out a mockery of a laugh. Why use the front door when there was a huge, gaping hole in the wall? Oh well, though. Nothing to be done about it now. I'd have to wait until I was healed somewhat before attempting to start any sort of construction.
I'd also have to scrounge around for some more blankets. The stormy season was coming up soon, I'd need the extra layers to keep warm and mostly-dry. I pressed my wing against the wall as a surge of dizziness struck me upside the head.
I groaned in pain, stumbling and crashing my way towards the stairs. The next moment I found myself toppling over, lightning thrashing through my ribs before everything went black.