A/N: Something for the original story I'm working on with a friend. Everything is mine or his, unless stated otherwise.
I wanted something stupidly funny, and then someone said 'Pet zombies!' and this popped out.
It came to pass one morning, right at breakfast, that Orion asked an unusual request.
The squad had risen with the sun, all together as per the usual. Evelyn had been more on top of things than she usually was at that hour, being on her feet before the rest and brewing something akin to coffee. To be painfully honest, it wasn't coffee. Whatever it was, it woke the dead and put hair on the chest of the poor soul who ingested it. It was certainly not good for the health, but Fetil loved the stuff. Because Evelyn was the only one amongst the six who could actually cook (bad things happened when anyone else tried; Fetil had actually lit water on fire once, much to everyone's surprise and panic), the Russian was stuck making anything at least somewhat edible.
Including, but not limited to, her commander's no doubt toxic coffee substitute.
"I'm surprised no one glows in the dark." Evelyn muttered, crinkling her nose at the smell of the tar-colored goop that spilled out into the carafe below the brewer. It had a tang to its scent that stuck to the back of the throat, something reminiscent of black licorice mixed with ear wax. In short, it was very unappetizing to smell. She didn't even want to imagine how it tasted.
While it was brewing, she had gone about cooking up what she could of the supplies they had left. The result was butane-fried toast and eggs. Though not the best flavor on the planet, Evelyn had discovered it was a bigger hit and produced less vomit than the standard food they had managed to procure thus far. After setting the rickety table for the presumed starving beasts she shared her life with, she turned around to fetch anything even remotely consumable in liquid form to go with the meal.
There was no surprise to find Fetil already in the kitchen, appearing as though someone had discarded a half-dressed marionette on the kitchen counter next to where the radioactive wa-coffee was brewing slowly. She was anything but active and nigh unapproachable in the morning before taking in at least one cup of her tar. Others might have been startled by the faewolf's ability to appear in the room so suddenly and quietly at such an obviously early hour for her. Evelyn, on the other hand, was different. Other than noticing the entrance of her commander, the Russian avoided and ignored her. It wasn't long after that the rest of the squad trudged in and took their places at the table.
At evening meal, if they were in the little structure they called home for it, there was much more order about the table with silently designated seats being taken properly. Breakfast was another matter entirely. No one seemed to care at all where they were planted, so long as there was food involved. Even killing machines were still some form of human at some point of the day. Even the faewolves, human though they weren't, were mortal in some fashion.
Oberon was trying to keep awake. The hulking Ukrainian geomancer kept trying to faceplant his plate, yet managed to catch himself just before impact. Abigail, the demolitions expert, watched him intently as though waiting for him to finally make contact. Morning suspense was always the best way to wake up and Oberon inevitably would land in his plate and cause a roll of waking laughter across the table. Today, some fateful force decided the daily routine just would not do.
Cabren, the aviator and all around driver, took a bite of one of the pieces of toast on his plate and made a half-strangled noise of what was translated as disgust. "Butane again? This stuff can't be good for the brain cells."
Evelyn, who had taken her seat with them by this point, stared back at him with with an apathetic silver glare. "If you don't like it...," she started, giving a pause to catch his attention. Once he looked at her, she continued. "...You can throw it to the wastes for the zombies to eat."
"Maybe we'll cure the plagues." Abigail stated rather flatly. "And save what few brains Cabren has left. All with toast..."
"Maybe we'll eat our breakfast, kill a few brain cells, and go out to find out what is needed of us today." Evelyn was deadpan as she said it. There was an uneasy silence that hung over the table, broken only by the 'ding!' of the coffee brewer and the pouring of the end result into a waiting cup.
"I want a pet zombie."
There was more silence, though all eyes at the table (that were open, at any rate) turned toward the Cajun-Haitian. Orion. Without his facepaints and with his white hair left unbound, the Vodou necromancer could easily pass as normal. The shock of the statement didn't last long, Cabren breaking it with an almost incredulous voice.
"You ... why in the hell do you need a zombie!?"
Orion looked utterly hurt that no one understood why he had stated such. "Minerva died about three hundred years ago! From what I understand, cher, ball pythons don't exist normally here."
Cabren continued the exchange, offering his hands in a 'go on' gesture. "And...?"
"Do you have any idea what a Vodou witch doctor is without a spirit guide!?" The question came out almost hysterical. It took almost everyone by surprise. Almost. Oberon made a noise, but it was an almost melodic hum mixed with unintelligible mumbling that was more out of sleeping at the table again than it was anything conscious.
"You know they're not actually zombies, right?" Evelyn had taken the floor again, causing the discussion to once more turn to her. "Neither of your abilities can help you with these ... things. These mutants."
Orion scoffed at this, obviously much more awake. "So I kill one, bring it back to life, have my own zombie! A real zombie, befitting a real necromancer."
"That is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard you say." The Russian held the bridge of her nose between her fingers in exasperation. "You are a real necromancer, do not start with me on that. Can't you just ... wait until someone not horribly mutated dies a natural death and do it that way?"
The interruption caused everyone to jump, the voice rather unexpected. For a moment, there was a shocked silence save for Cabren's plaintive cry of, "I dropped my toast!" The outburst even woke the snoozing geomancer with a start, who (as per routine) slammed facefirst into his eggs. It was not often the Germanic faewolf graced morning conversations, if at all.
All eyes (and one egg in Oberon's case) turned to their commander, who was half-leaning on the countertop next to the coffee brewer. If one didn't know better, she would have looked perfectly normal. To the rest of her squad, those who knew her best, her eyes were half-glazed and she couldn't stand up straight. Fetil was about awake as Oberon was. Given the geomancer's sudden call to consciousness, chances are he was more awake than she.
The cup in the faewolf's left hand was brought up, the liquid goo within the cracked porcelain sipped at. There seemed to be a rather sudden change in the way Fetil held herself after that. Her disheveled waves and coils of ebon hair visibly puffed and frizzed some, a small amount of clarity returning to her eyes. With a subtle twitch that only those trained to see could catch (her companions were among that number), her posture straightened up some. Unsettling sapphiric eyes were soon lowered to the Vodou necromancer across both room and table from her.
Orion looked stunned for a second before he registered what was said to him. "Why?" he whined. Not having a zombie (or any sort of spirit guide, for that matter) obviously upset him.
"Zombies are unpredictable, tamed or not. What if it bites someone in this room?" Her voice had gained that piercing tone it usually had, although there was still a slight crackling of sleep and disuse on it. "What if it bites me? What then?"
Orion thought a moment. "We can all do the 'Thriller' dance, at least?" His answer was tentative, more a question than a statement.
It caused Evelyn to smack her face into her hand and shake her head as though in disbelief of the exchange. "I take it back. That is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard you say..." she muttered in the Haitian's direction. He gave her a scoff, stopping what he was doing when his commander spoke again.
"I said no zombies. Final."
Orion puffed himself up in indignation. Being of faewolven blood himself, it was no surprise when his own white mane fluffed up as though defying gravity, like hackles on a dog. "Your boyfriend has a pet zombie!" he spat, standing up and smacking the table with the flat of his hands. The motion caused flatware to jump on the warped surface, Abigail smacking her fraternal twin's forearm for the act. Cabren, on the other hand, picked up his plate to avoid losing any more of his breakfast, glaring reproachfully up at Orion for his disturbance.
The lack of response from Fetil was oppressive. While the rest of the table was quick about making sure no one else had lost breakfast somewhere, she stood and stared at Orion. When she finally spoke, there was more than just a little venom in those words.
"Aleksei is not my boyfriend." The expulsion was almost spat out, as though the phrase tasted disgusting on her tongue. There was enough poison locked in every syllable that Evelyn seemed to wilt in her seat, slinking practically under the table to avoid the malice. "They are not pets. There is more than one for research purposes only. And no, you will not bring a zombie into this house! That! Is! Final!"
"What if one followed me home?" Orion was pushing his luck at this point, his tone back to whining. Not unlike a child wanting a new toy. This was accentuated with Evelyn's muffled, "If you keep talking, I will eat your face."
"I will blow its fucking head off." was hissed out. By now, Fetil was grinding her teeth together in an attempt to not leap over the table and strangle the Haitian.
"What do you have against zom-"
Orion had been stopped dead by Evelyn shoving a piece of toast in his mouth. She might not have eaten his face as she had promised, but it did get his mind on something else. The necromancer bit down on the toast, chewing with an energetic vigor.
"I don't know why you hate this stuff so much, Cabe. It tastes great."
As soon as the subject changed, the spine-tingling sensation of Fetil's malevolence seemed to ebb away. For a short moment, looks of relief were shared between Evelyn, Abigail, and Cabren. Oberon was too busy wiping what remained of one egg off his face with a piece of his toast to really pay any mind elsewhere. Then again, it seemed nothing really phased the geomancer.
The rest of the breakfast passed without much incident, Oberon finally cleaning himself up from the mess of egg across his face. Cabren had decided that there was a ten-minute rule on his dropped toast, especially since it didn't have any topping on it. It wouldn't have been so bad except he kept bragging about it, inciting Evelyn to call him out on making up rules for dropped food (the only time she actually made a blatant joke that entire morning) and Abigail threatening to put nitroglycerin in his second piece if he didn't shut up. Orion cracked a small joke about nitroglycerin's inability to make the aviator shut his mouth for more than two seconds then proceeded to shove the toast in Cabren's hand into his mouth.
Evelyn had finished first, as usual, citing Orion on plagiarism for her own tactic against him. Of course, this launched the table into a discussion on whether plagiarism only counted for written material or any artistic material.
"Plagiarism probably doesn't exist in this time-frame anymore. That or The Order claims that term as theirs too." Abigail snorted, causing everyone a part of the debate to accept that as a final word.
Oberon helped to clear the table once meals had been finished, offering Evelyn assistance in the kitchen in his typical silent format. Evelyn's attention temporarily redirected off to where Fetil was still standing next to the brewer. It didn't take long to guess the faewolf had centered her dog's eyes to bore into Orion, though she had not said a word since shooting down the Haitian's request.
Fetil was on her second cup of sludge when the dining room emptied out, finally diverting her gaze from the current target of her hatred to make sure she was pouring the goopy liquid into the cup and not down her front. Normally, she would be much more accurate but she was certainly not a morning person. Before the cup could reach her lips, Orion poked his head into the room again. There was a devious twinkle in his green gaze.
"...I'm getting a zombie anyway."
There was a deep-seated growl from the higher-ranking faewolf, her hair visibly frizzing and the coils drawing tighter. Lips pulled back to show the peculiar dog's teeth in threat and apparent distaste, the mug of hot tar-coffee sent flying in her antagonist's direction. Orion made sure he was scarce, leaving behind a cackle of laughter, a shattered mug, and a large unnaturally dark stain where his head would have been.