Beneath the Mask

Spider Monkey slung his web and swung across the city, it had been a pretty good day. OK, mostly, average, it was the usual. He and Red Panda helped to put another criminal behind bars. And, yet, again, Red Panda had left before he could have a chance to talk to her about a hideout or even revealing each other’s secret identities. He wanted to know the girl behind the mask. She was a riksha, that much he knew, but which one of the seven races? And how did she come by her powers? Was it as lame as being bitten by a radioactive spider? He let out a grunt as he swung into a cave and scaled the walls, heading into the far back. At the back, the cave split into five tunnels of different sizes. Spider Monkey crawled on the ceiling of the tallest one until he crawled through an opening on the ceiling. After he squeezed out, he covered up the opening with some brush before tiptoeing to a nearby house.

“Yo, Eknath, you’re back! Any luck with the lady?” grinned his kinnara friend as his horse legs trotted to Spider Monkey as he came through the door.

Spider Monkey groaned as he pulled off his mask, “Same as always, Zevesh, gone before I get a chance to say a word.” He paused as a grin passed over his monkey face, “But I did get to kiss her on the cheek.”

Zevesh whooped as he patted Eknath on the back, “Hey, at least you’re getting somewhere! She, uh, didn’t turn away?”

“She was surprised, but, she didn’t say anything. Maybe I should pull back for a bit.”

“What? Why?”

“What if she’s got a boyfriend and she trying to break it up? Kissing isn’t going to help much, now would it?” asked Eknath as he pulled on his street clothes.

“Might make her try to break it up even faster.”

“Yeah, but, I could be rushing her too fast. Rikshas are typically slower than vanaras when it comes to relationships, you know.”

Zevesh scoffed, “Boy, do I ever, sometimes you vanaras can go faster than even us kinnaras, and we can go pretty fast. Five months from meeting to marriage is your typical kinnara average.”

“Yes, yes, I know, I know, you keep saying that, be quiet. Besides, if I back off a bit, give her breathing space, she might open up more to me.”

“Ah, yes, rikshas need space too.”

“Right. Anyway, any news on the group project?”

Zevesh sighed as he led the way to a couple of laptops, his feathery hands flapping about with annoyance, “The music’s not working with me today, I can’t think of anything! And we’re supposed to turn this in tomorrow!”

“Hmm . . . let me take a look.” Eknath sat down at one laptop and typed on it for a few minutes.

Zevesh’ mouth dropped as he glanced over Eknath’s shoulder, “How do you come up with these things without music?”

Eknath paused as a soft smile played on his face, “Because Red Panda inspires me so much. I . . . I guess you could say she’s my music.”

“Wow, you really do like her a lot, maybe you should follow her and make that boyfriend of hers break up with her.”

“And risk losing her trust in me? No, not gonna happen. Now, think you can finish up?”

Zevesh scoffed as he put some earbuds in his ears, “A piece of cake, my good friend, what would I do without you? Heck, what would the whole of Indara do without you?”

Eknath glanced out of the window at the city as he sighed, “I don’t know, maybe Red Panda would have to work all by herself to save the city. But, I am glad that things turned out this way. I don’t think I would have it any other way.” He let out a yawn as he stretched. “Well, if you’ve got the rest of the project covered, roommate, I’m heading off to bed. Good night.”

“Night, super roommate, I’ll wake you if your beloved needs your help to save Indara yet again.”

Eknath chuckled, “Alright, thanks.” Eknath crawled into his bed and fell asleep.

 

Vanara: Monkey humanoid, basically, ranging in height from four to six feet.

Riksha: Bear humanoid, basically, ranging in height from five to seven feet, only species known to have interbred successfully with the vanaras.

Kinnara: A humanoid with the grey, back legs of a horse, grey-purple wings attached to its bat-like arms and claw-like hands, a beak-shaped mouth, bird eyes, and a horse’s mane for hair.

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