Disclaimer: A heap of these characters are not mine; they’re Klasky-Csupo’s. Don’t sue. I’m broke already. Kiersten and the other colonists belong to themselves, respectively. Dear reader, this is where things will start to get messy. As I probably mentioned, this "novel" is one gigantic fanfic crossover! (Oh, and I am partial to stealing or rewriting scenes… If I can ever come up with something more original, I’ll plug it in. ;)

Kiersten’s Adventures: Part 1

Chapter 4: Monsters!

Three figures moved through the dump. Not one of them could have been mistaken for a human. The tallest was thin and snakelike, though she stood on two legs. She was human-like in respect to her arms, though her enormous lips were more than three times human-sized ones. Another was short but rotund and carried his eyes loose in his hands. The third was smaller, purplish-red in color, and looked remarkably like a rabbit.

"Ickis, you cannot go around blaming yourself for this," the tall one said in a distinct British accent.

"Yeah," the stocky one added. "That dog had sharp teeth, a scary growl, and… little pink bows?" Both monsters broke up laughing at their comrade’s plight.

"Oh, go ahead! Laugh right along with the rest of the school! I’m going for a walk." Ickis trudged sullenly away from his two friends. He’d gotten a few yards before realizing that someone was following him. "Krumm, I’d like to be alone."

"Like, by yourself?"

"Right. You can catch up with Oblina if you hurry."

"Sorry, buddy. See ya later." Krumm turned and disappeared back into the depths of the dump.

Ickis, after watching his dorm-mate leave, walked on until he reached the old dead tree at the other side of the dump. He sat himself down, leaning back against the trunk, and let out a long sigh. "I’m never going to make a descent monster at this rate…" he said to himself pitifully and stared into the dark, moonless night. The thin layer of clouds moving in made it an ideal night for scaring, but his heart wasn’t in it. Being humiliated in front of the whole academy for an assigned scare gone bad kind of took it out of a monster.

Something rustled around in the trash behind him. He cocked his ears and listened. Yes, there it was again. He hadn’t imagined it! The rattling stopped. Ickis glanced around nervously. "Oblina? Krumm?? Who’s there?!?"

Kiersten let out a muffled groan and sat up. "Oohhh… ugh… How long was I out? Must have been five, six hours."

"Who’s there?" the small monster repeated timidly.

"My name’s Kiersten. Who’s that?"

"Ickarus, but my friends call me Ickis," he introduced himself.

"A pleasure." Kiersten tried to raise herself up and sharply cracked her still-sore head on the branch. "OW! Stupid tree. Bet that’s what knocked me out in the first place!" She strained to see her new friend in the darkness that surrounded them like a shroud.

"Not from around here, I take it?"

"Nope. Me and some friends have… had…" she corrected, "this place on the other side of town."

Ickis picked up on the correction. "Had?"

"Well, I was kind-of the leader, and there was sort-of a rebellion against me, so I kind-of ran away. How about you?"

"Oh, I always come here. ‘s my special spot. You said you led… I guess you don’t go to school, then?"

"Nah, we’re smart enough. And what we don’t know, we can learn on our own better than any textbook could teach us. Besides, if we went to school, the board would eventually figure out that I didn’t have any parents anymore and I’d get adopted out, and the others would too, and I couldn’t let that happen, even if they did betray me. You?"

"I attend the Academy here. My father went here and was the top graduate. Grandfather too. Me… I’m not doing so well…"

"Lot to live up to, huh?"

"Yeah."

"Hey, don’t worry about it. There’s always gonna be someone better than you, and there’s always gonna be someone worse than you, so there’s no use whining over it." Kiersten smiled, and though Ickis couldn’t see it, it came through in her voice. He smiled back sheepishly.

"Sure is dark," he said, glancing around and changing the subject. "Clouds moved in pretty fast."

"Yeah. Hope it doesn’t rain, me without any shelter and all." Kiersten smacked her head with a hand. "Duh, stupid! Should’ve thought of that earlier! I have a mini-lantern in my pack somewhere… At least now we’ll be able to see one another." She scrounged around in her pack, eventually finding the flashlight. "Ah, here it is." She turned the flashlight on first, then jammed the light down into the handle to make the lantern. She looked up to meet a pair of staring, menacing yellow eyes.

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Ickis watched as the light danced on the tree’s branched, then slid down the trunk to be concentrated around it. Approving of the added vision, he looked up to meet a pair of staring, menacing brown eyes.

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In the same instant, both realized that they were NOT the same species, which they had naturally assumed.

"Monster!" yelled Kiersten.

"Human!" yelled Ickis.

Both turned tail and ran. Ickis dove behind a mound of trash, while Kiersten clambered up the tree, letting out an ear-piercing scream.

Still panicked and not sure what she’d seen, she called, "Ickis? Ickis?!?"

"Kiersten! It’s a human! Run!" screamed Ickis in a voice as panicked as hers.

"Ickis?" Kiersten suddenly realized. "You’re the monster?"

"And you’re HUMAN?"

Kiersten slid back down the dead tree. "This is weird…" she said, wondering if it was all just a dream.

"Too weird," concluded Ickis.

The two looked each other over from head to toe, each apprehensive of the other’s possible attack.

Ickis barely stood waist-high to Kiersten, though he knew that when he welled up to his full size he would be almost twice as tall as her. He knew humans were a threat. If humans knew monsters existed, they would try to catch them… and that would be the end of every monster on earth, because no one would be afraid of something they knew existed! Should he scare her off? Should he run away? He just stood staring at her in confusion.

Kiersten stared down at the diminutive monster before her. He didn’t look like he could eat her, by any means, though that’s what she’d heard about monsters. They were also supposed to be ugly and hideous… well, that’s how the stories went. She’d never even seen a monster until now, and she found Ickis to be rather cute and rabbit-ish, though it would probably be a mistake to tell him so. His large ears added to his character and expression, which she could tell was as confused-looking as her own.

"Are you a real monster?"

Ickis narrowed his eyes sarcastically. "No, I’m the Brooklyn Bridge."

"Well, soooorry! I’ve never seen a real live monster before…"

"And I’ve never talked to a human before," he said in awe. "Scares don’t really count."

The girl shook her head. "Maybe I hit my head harder than I thought! I don’t feel so hot all of a sudden…" She sank down at the tree’s base and pinched her own arm. No, she was not hallucinating. The monster in front of her was still there; he was real. She was certain of it. "So much for that reality check… ookay… what does one say to a monster?"

"I dunno," he replied, plopping down next to her. "What does one say to a human?"

"I’m not sure myself anymore. I think we were doing better before we got the light out." An eerie silence hung over them. Ickis shifted his big feet nervously. Kiersten crossed her arms, putting one hand up to her mouth. Neither of them could think of anything to say for more than five minutes, and the silence was getting more and more awkward.

"Ugh! Okay, that’s it… it’s too QUIET!" She began riffling through her backpack, pulling out a radio at long last. "You like music?"

"Human music?" Ickis asked skeptically. "Like opera?"

"Oh, Lord, no! I mean like real music! Rock and stuff."

"I like rocks…" the monster said, warming up to the idea a little.

"Here. Brought my boom box. It should be on the Blaze. They’re a good station." She flicked the radio’s switch on and set it on the ground in front of them, messing with the antenna a bit before settling back down. American Presidents’ "Peaches" played happily in the background. Kiersten tapped a foot to the rhythm.

Ickis grinned. "I think I’ve heard this somewhere before… can’t remember where, though. I like it! Doesn’t hurt my ears!"

"Good!" Kiersten chuckled. The two of them listened as the song ended and a new one started up.

"So anyways…" Ickis started, trying to pick up the conversation they had been having, "you said your friends forced you out?"

Kiersten sighed and stared back down at her tennies. "Yeah."

Ickis instantly realized that he’d hit a nerve with that question. "I’m sorry… you probably don’t want to talk about it…."

"No, it’s okay," she stated solemnly, regathering herself. "I think Lisa and Jenn set up a conspiracy against me. They’re those kind of people that are slaves to fashion and fads, you know?" She continued, letting him figure it out on his own. "I tend to dress for function instead."

"They turned on you because they didn’t like the way you dress? That’s insane!"

Kiersten’s eyes narrowed to slits and her voice took an indifferent tone. "George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘Fashion is an induced epidemic,’ and I’m pretty sure he’s right. Lisa and Jenn turned all my friends against me because of it. And I think they just want to run the colony their own way. Without me in the way. So they can have it. I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with things like this in a free-rule system. I guess not." Emotion was slowly creeping its way back into her voice. Her shoulders slumped. "I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about, huh, Ickis? YOU don’t have to worry about being rejected on the basis of how you LOOK." A tear slowly trickled its way down her cheek. She closed her eyes and set herself against sobbing in front of her new friend.

Ickis spoke very softly, selecting his words carefully, and laid a supportive hand on hers. "I think you’re very beautiful…for a human."

"Ohhh…" she whimpered in response, trying and failing to keep her tears back and hugging the little monster tightly. "Thank you…"

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Ickis was considerably perkier in the morning. He strode pridefully to his desk in the large lecture hall of the Gromble’s Monster Academy. He told no one of meeting the human at the far side of the dump. Kiersten had since set up her semi-permanent (until she found someplace to go) camp there and promised to meet him when class was over.

"Well, you certainly have improved your attitude since last night," commented Oblina as he sat down next to her.

"I, my dear Oblina, have gotten a new perspective," he chuckled. "I never felt better! Made a new friend and we spent all night talking."

"Oh, so that is why you weren’t in the dorm room! Ickis, what if they had done a curfew check? The Snorch would have gotten to torture you for weeks," the tall thin monster berated.

"Shhh! Here’s the Gromble!" Krumm motioned urgently to them both as the school’s headmaster entered and called the class to order.

"Good morning, class. You’re all looking particularly badly-groomed this morning!"

"Thank you, your Grombleness," came the class’s response in unison.

"As you will recall, last night’s assignment was to scare a teen-age human witless," the old monster continued, outlining the importance of tactics and techniques in scaring humans, and especially teenagers. Ickis’s stomach sank. He’d been so busy chatting with Kiersten that he had completely forgotten the assignment! He sank down in his chair, trying his best to blend in and not look any better or worse off than any other student in the auditorium. *Please,* he thought, *let him skip over me, just this once…*

"ICKIS!! To the Viewfinder, please." Ickis considered what excuse he could use to get out of trouble, but couldn’t come up with one before the Gromble yelled, "NOW!" so threateningly that he found himself in the machine’s chair before he remembered moving his feet. The Viewfinder automatically strapped him in and lowered the thought-reading helmet down over his head, leaving his ears sticking out awkwardly underneath. The room darkened, and a red, flickering beam shot from his eyes to the screen at the front of the room. It showed blackness at first, accompanied by some mumbling in the background, an "Ah, here it is!", followed by Kiersten’s light dancing about, then the two of them pitted face to face, and her scrambling up the old, dead tree. The scene ended with her piercing scream as the screen froze and the lights came back up. Cheers went up from the rest of the classroom. The Gromble looked shocked. Ickis scratched his head, wondering how he possibly could have forgotten that incident. Equally relieved that he’d gotten out of a good, hard Snorching and that the scare footage hadn’t given away anything about him being in league with this human, he sighed as the Viewfinder released him from the arm and leg shackles.

"That was impressive, Ickis!" the headmaster monster stated. "A definite improvement from your last…er, disaster. Simple format… confront and startle, I believe? Yet rising to a quick and very effective climax!" The Gromble scrubbed a claw in one ear to stop the ringing from Kiersten’s shriek. "Everyone else, follow Ickis’s example and IMPROVE your SCARES! Kriggle! It’s your turn…" he crooned. Kriggle gulped and trudged up to the Viewfinder as Ickis hopped down, thrilled to death. It wasn’t like the Gromble to give out compliments off-hand, or this early in the morning!

"Good luck," he said cordially, parading back to his seat.

"Thanks for the send-off," Kriggle snapped back, not thrilled at having his own pathetic scare measured up against Ickis’s.
Returning to his seat, he got a slap on the back from Krumm and a jealoous look from Oblina. He smiled wickedly at her.
"You just got lucky," she derided, crossing her arms and refusing to look at him.

*Kiersten would die to see all this!* he thought, already looking forward to seeing her after school.

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Class was nearly over. The students glanced anxiously at the slow-moving clock on the back wall. Ickis couldn’t wait… Kiersten was probably already waiting for him, and then there was the smell of fresh-baked slime pies wafting in from the home-blechonomics room. They always made slime pies on Wednesdays. The Gromble droned on about upcoming assignments and announcements. Ickis tried to pay attention and took down some notes, but as soon as the belch rang, he swore he would be first in line for pies! But then one announcement caught his wandering attention…

"The Human Research Division of MASA has come to our school, (with a generous donation, I might add,) and proposed a ‘human-monster exchange program.’ Ahem. If anyone here thinks they may know of a human that might qualify for this program, report to me immediately! Do not attempt to bring the human; they will be observed and tested for certain qualifications before being accepted to the exchange. Anyone involved in this process will receive 50 extra-credit points, which many of you are in obvious need of. Questions? No-o-o? Class dismissed."

Ickis didn’t move as the belch sounded form the back of the room. He tried to let everything register. Kiersten. Her group’s violent uprising. The human-monster exchange. At Krumm and Oblina’s constant prodding, he finally got up and headed off to the rapidly building line for slime pies.

"Honestly, Ickis, what has gotten into you?" Oblina chided, herding him along in front of her.

"Yeah, buddy, you’re usually dying to get here before anyone else," Krumm added. "Not that I can blame you… mmm… I can smell ‘em from here!"

Ickis shrugged absently, still attempting to put the pieces together. Oh well, he was in this line, he may as well get his toenails out and be ready… more often than not the monster working the table didn’t have any change on him. He wondered absently if Kiersten would want one… no, of course not. She was …a human! "Oh, of course!" he said out loud as Oblina pushed him forward once again.

"Of course, what?" she asked.

"Nevermind! I’ll tell you later!" Forgetting the pies altogether, Ickis rushed off toward the above-ground lift. Kiersten would love the idea, he was SURE of it!

Oblina and Krumm stared after him, not about to give up their spot in line. "You know, Krumm," Oblina sighed, "I really do not know what we are going to do with him…"

"Should we save him a pie?"

"Nah, he just missed his chance at it. Four, please."