The burrow was crumbling
Stone cold terror gripped Hugo like a vice as bright lights flashed, and loud sirens blared. The ceiling and walls were cracking apart like they were as thin as wet pieces of paper.
And Hugo was convinced he was about to die.
“What’s happening!” He yelled, banging his fists against the glass of his cage, desperately hoping someone would hear and get him out. He shut his eyes tightly, trying to block out the sights and sounds around him. Getting slightly more upset when he realized his standard coping mechanism for dealing with fear wasn’t working.
He wanted Lio and Song to come and make everything better. They had promised him over and over again that they were going to break him out as soon as their baby arrived. But now, as rubble rained down, Hugo wasn’t sure about that anymore.
He flinched as the top of his cage was suddenly torn off like it was nothing, and he felt himself being lifted by the back of the neck by two large fingers. Hugo screamed as they lifted him high in the air. They began moving him over most of the falling rubble. They set him down in the path of a very familiar figure rapidly running toward them, carrying something in a bundle.
“Lio!” Hugo exclaimed and ran at him to meet him halfway, weaving around chunks of metal and rock in his path.
”Hugo, ” Lio said before they both collided in a tight hug, which was made a bit difficult by Lio fumbling not to drop the bundle he was carrying.
”You're okay, ” Hugo sighed in relief, a faint stinging building up behind his eyes that he tried to push down.
”How did you get out?” He asked, pulling away slightly to get a better look at him. In answer, Hugo gestured behind them with a free hand at the six-armed dark brown mega monkey who was wandering slowly away from them a tiny figure sitting on its shoulder.
Lio followed where he pointed his face twisted with sadness and what seemed to Hugo like guilt as he watched the mega leave. He spoke after a few more moments of silence, making him jump. “We need to get out of here before the rest of this place goes down.”
Hugo just nodded, looking around at the remains of the burrow; it seemed so unstable that the slightest misstep would bring everything crashing down right on top of them.
Noticing this, Lio turned and knelt, turning his back to Hugo.
“Um Lio, what are you doing? He asked, bewildered at this new turn of events.
“Get on my back. I can get us out of here much faster if I carry you,” Lio said, and he did as he was asked and after shifting, around a bit to make sure he wouldn’t fall off. Lio slowly got back up and began to run as fast as he possibly could, considering what he was carrying.
The sun was setting by the time they finally stopped, Hugo slid off his back, and Lio checked on the small bundle he had been carrying that began to make little sounds as if it was about to cry.
“Lio, who or what is that?” Hugo asked, more baffled than anything else but relieved that he brought his blanket even though there was something inside it.
In answer, Lio unwrapped the top of it, and Hugo found himself looking down into sleepy fuchsia eyes that curiously peered back. He gasped in surprise and took a small startled step back, not sure what to do.
“This is Kipo. She’s your little sister,” Lio said with a small warm smile holding her out to him. The older man's eyes still had a hint of sadness in them.
He slowly held his arms out in a silent request and watched as the bundle passed from Lio’s hands to his with nervous anticipation. He examined her features with adoration. And glanced back at Lio. “She’s adorable and looks so much like Song.” Just then, one of Kipo's little chubby pearly purple-skinned hands broke free from the star-patterned blanket and found its way to Hugo’s cheek. Beginning to pat it with growing curiosity.
‘Just because you’re adorable, I’m going to ignore that you're in my blanket, just this once.’ He thought though he didn’t mean it. Noticing a change in the feel of her touch, he glanced down, seeing that her hand was now covered in soft pale pink downy jaguar fur. No longer a human's hand at all.
He stared at it in shock and gave his father a look that asked. You're seeing it too, aren’t you? And if you know anything about this, please explain.
“I’ve got a lot to tell you,” Lio sighed, catching the look he was given. He rested a hand on the taller Mandrell's shoulder and led him onward. While they walked, he told him about the experiments done to make Kipo the way she was, along with what the burrows head scientist Doctor Emilia wanted to do. Explaining that Song, with her last possible shred of humanity, had freed Hugo and given him to Lio right before that section of the lab collapsed.
They were both crying openly by the end of his tail, and Kipo, sensing this, began pulling at Hugo’s face, fluff trying to cheer him up. In response, he held her tighter to his chest.
‘I’ll protect you no matter what I have to do, I promise.’ Hugo thought, freeing a hand to clean up his face. His pale yellow eyes were narrowed in determination. As the tiny family headed deeper into the vast expanse of pure chaos that was the surfice.