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The Epic Road Trip Adventure Of Hugo and Kipo Oak

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Eight years later.

 

Lio was surprised, and a bit perplexed when stepping off the elevator after a long shift at work to find almost all of his neighbors camped out in the hallway decked out in the comfiest things they had. Some were holding instruments. While in contrast, others just held big Tupperware containers that we're carrying steaming dishes of all shapes and sizes.

“What’s going on?” He asked, walking toward them; some nodded to him in greeting as he passed while others kept their ears pressed against the wall. The witch only managed to make him even more confused.

“Shhh, the wall sirens are playing,” hissed a young blonde girl as he passed that if he guessed had to be the burrow leader's daughter Doag. Who was dancing relatively fast and passionately?

Making it to his apartment and pressing his ear against the thick door, he grinned widely as he listened to the sounds of his children singing together.

 

“Standing alone in my fire.”
“You're not alone.”
“Future's hanging on a wire.”
“Just take my hand.”
“Standing alone in my fire,”
“You're not alone.”
“Heroes on fire.”

 

Lio pulled his room key from his shirt pocket, and the door slid open almost without sound, allowing him to enter. He waited for the song to finish before speaking up. “You two do realize you’ve got an audience outside?”

“We do?” Both Kipo and Hugo asked in unison as the door slid shut behind Lio.

“Yeah, you’ve several people in the hall,” he grinned before being pulled into a big hug by them both after putting down their instruments.

“I didn’t hear anybody,” Kipo said, skipping back over to the couch. Hugo joined her a moment later after Lio went into the kitchen that was just off the living room.

“The soundproofing probably helped with that. I think they can kind of hear us, but we can't hear them.” Hugo grinned down at her as he joined her, picking up his keytar again. Almost after a month after being accepted into the burrow, Lio had soundproofed their apartment, and soon after had informed Hugo, he could play his keytar whenever he wanted. And shortly after hearing the news, he had done just that. He was even getting Kipo in on it as soon as she could pick up a guitar.

“We’re making a band,” Kipo informed their father while he stood at the stove beginning to make something that smelled amazing.

“Oh, really, when did you start that up?” Lio asked, turning to look at them.

“Kipo here brought it up about an hour ago,” Hugo began playing a few notes. “She even made a poster and everything.”

“Shut up; you helped,” Kipo protested, punching him lightly with her free hand holding her guitar with the other.

“No, I didn’t. All I did was come up with the name you did everything else.” He argued, putting his keytar down in order to cross his arms.

“That’s still means you helped dummy,” she said, frowning deeply at him, which made his protests shrivel up and die on his tongue. He knew it wasn’t ever a good idea to argue with Kipo once she got set on something she wanted.

“You both created something amazing and I would love to see the poster. And you can tell me all about it over mandu.” Lio gently cut them off before they would start debating. He put two steaming plates on the table and the two rushed over digging in almost immediately.

“Hugo called the band Galaxas,” Kipo grinned, taking a big bite of her food.

“Is there any significance to that?” Lio asked leaning forward a little.

“Well I wanted to make it kind of space themed and it just sounds cool.” Hugo grinned as Kipo got up and ran off. Coming back a moment later with a big rolled up paper. She set it out on the table revealing the drawing of a cat made of fireworks and the word Galaxas written in big rainbow block lettering.

“We need to hang this somewhere,” Lio said as he got up starting to clear the table. Hugo grabbed the poster and Kipo followed grabbing a roll of pink tape on her way.

They went back to the couch after pinning it up near the door and picked up their instruments again. Lio watched with a small smile as he pulled a small music recorder from his pocket and turned it on as they began to play again.

Chapter Text

5 years later.

A small golden brown owl flew low over the treetops hoping to find a place and stop for the day. She had been flying for the whole night and desperately needed a place to sleep that was hopefully free of fighting mutes groups cloaked things trying to hit her with weird smelling darts or giant spiders.

Flying over a clearing with a slow flowing river running through it she spotted something large floating in the clear blue water that seemed not to belong there.

“What the…” she broke off at seeing what was really in the water. It was a large mandrill mute with characteristically-multicolored facial features. Wearing a dark blue shirt and black pants.

‘Poor guy.’ She thought before her eyes caught on the bulky pale purple backpack tied around one foot. ‘Sorry about this buddy but at least your gear will be put to some good use.’

Gripping his wrists with her small hands she started to pull him from the water.

 

 

The first thing Hugo discovered when he regained consciousness was that he was being dragged along the ground. By someone or something a bit smaller than him—judging by the way they cursed and grumbled about how heavy he was. His yellow eyes opened, and he began coughing up the water he swallowed, Making whatever was dragging him scream and drop him, causing him to yelp in pain.

“Oh good, you’re not dead. I won’t have to loot you.” a voice said near his head. He sat up slowly, blinking his eyes rapidly.

He then tried to force himself to open them up completely, to which he promptly fell over and started yelling as the new morning sun hit him right in the face. “Aagh, I’m blind! My eyes are on fire!”

“Relax bud; it’s just the sun.” The voice said, clearly trying, and failing, to stifle laughter.

He sat up and slowly uncovered his eyes, looking around him. “Oh..good I can see now. Wait, what did you mean by you were gonna loot me? I don’t have anything you could take.”

”Hate to break it to you, but that backpack around your ankle says otherwise, buddy.” They snorted.

He gasped and quickly grabbed it, putting it to his chest. He looked down at it only to see it was unzipped, and then he looked up, only to see what was in the stranger's small hands.

“You gotta pretty nice guitar here,” they said, playing a couple of cords. He noticed the guitar had a few new additions to it, lots of glittering objects and stickers. The guitar was initially a teal blue acoustic, with the name Kipo written on the side in shimmering pastel pink. He shot her a cold glare, “Give that back now it doesn’t belong to you.”

“Chill, I was only messing with you, dude.” The stranger smirked.

They gave the guitar back quickly, and Hugo snatched it up angrily. However, the anger promptly left him as he came to a horrible realization. He had no clue where Kipo was. He frantically looked around in every direction, trying desperately to remain calm, and ultimately failing.

“Kipo! Kipooo!”

He continued to shout her name, growing increasingly frantic by the second. Stumbling to his feet, his breathing quickened. Struggleing to keep it together and not break down or scream hysterically, whichever came first. His mind started racing, thoughts spiraling into places he would rather them not go. Kipo and Leo could be badly hurt, or worse, and there wasn’t anything he could do. And if that was the case then he failed to protect her and it was his fault.

Hugo flinched feeling two small hands gripping his shoulders. Opening his eyes he found the stranger holding him carefully at arms length. Her large very pale green eyes staring into his own.

“Hey bud I need you to take slow deep breaths for me, you think you can do that?” She asked gently. He was taken aback by how much her voice had changed, only a moment ago she was joking around. And know she was making sure he was okay?

He nodded and did as she asked while she slowly helped him sit down.

“Okay buddy, now that you’re a bit calmer I need you to explain to me what’s going on. And who’s Kipo? Are they your friend?” She asked slowly, taking her hands off his shoulders but keeping them in plain view. Just in case she had to grab him again.

“Kipo's my little sister.” Hugo said between slow deep breaths, trying his best to focus and calm down. “There was a mute quake and our burrow flooded and we got separated. I don’t even know if she’s still-” before he could finish, she clapped a small hand over his mouth, her eyes narrowing a little.

“No, stop that right now, you are not going down that line of thought. She could be alive for all you know so get those thoughts out of your head before I make you.” she said, jabbing a small pointy finger into his chest. The tiny sharp claw at the end digging a little into his skin every time she did it.

“You're probably right, I let my thoughts get away from me for a moment there. And why are you being so nice to me? A minute ago you said if I was dead you were going to loot my corpse. And on top of all that, you helped me and I don’t even know your name.” He said, looking down at the small, caramel colored dwarf owl with little feathery tufts sticking up from her head like ears.

“First that was a joke. Second, I’m concerned about you, idiot. And third, my name’s Clementine Clawthorne. Nice to meet you.” She grinned and hopped off his knee, where she was perched. Returning a second later she held his backpack, having put the guitar back inside and zipped it up for him.

“I’m Hugo Oak,” he smiled, accepting the backpack and slinging it over his shoulder. She then offered a hand to him and put on a warm smile.

“Nice to meet you Hugo, let’s go find your sister.” Clementine grinned, fluttering up onto his shoulder and then hopping on top of his head, settling into his fur.

“Why are you riding on my head?” He asked, walking towards a large forest.

“I’ve been flying for a of last night and I’m tired. and besides, you’re tall so you’re a good perch. Plus I can warn you in advance of any possible danger.” Clementine smiled and reached into her lemon yellow onesie pocket pulling something out.

“What is that?” Hugo asked, hearing the crinkling of paper as she began unfolding it.

“It’s a map I made showing the mute territories I’ve found and where the megas live. If your burrow is somewhere around where we are, then she could have washed up at any of these places. So I think we should start with the closest territory one to us and start there. I’m posative she headed to it most lost mutes do.” She lowered it down to his eye level so he could see.

“That’s a great plan, it looks like the closest territory to us is the Timbercat Forest.” He said, having to squint to read the small writing, Relieved he didn’t have to go through Deathstalker territory again.

“Great. we can be there in a day or two if we hurry. Because lucky for you, I know a shortcut. And I have a friend who can help us on our way if we get into trouble and can’t get out on our own,” Clementine exclaimed, putting the map back in her pocket and zipping it up. The two slowly made their way to the lush green forest with determination and eager attitudes.

“Thanks for doing this,” Hugo said with a small yet warm smile.

“It’s no problem at all. I like helping the mutes I meet, even in a small way. I’m a wanderer, it’s kind of my job. And besides I’ll be headed home after we find her. But anyways, that’s not important. you lived underground with humans, What was it like? What are they like?” She smiled down at him as she burrowed down into his fur until only the top her head poked out.

As he started explaining burrow life and even his first time up on the surface, Hugo found himself smiling. Positive they would find Kipo and Leo, and then finally get back home.

“Kipo will be so proud of me when I tell her about this.” He thought as they headed deeper into the looming woods, the sun slowly rising over the horizon.

Chapter Text

“This is your oh so brilliant shortcut?!” Hugo yelled jumping over the hood of a moss-covered car just as the long sharp mandibles of a giant ant snapped shut behind him, missing him by inches.

“Well, normally they're never awake when I go through here! And there weren’t as many last time, so I thought we would be fine!” Clementine yelled back, wacking the queen ant with a copper pipe she found, which sadly didn’t have the effect she wanted. Instead of driving it off or injuring it, her swings just made it all the more furious.

“You didn't even mention these things until we got here!” Hugo cried, swerving around a large hollowed out truck in his path.

“I know I didn’t, and I’m really sorry, but you can yell at me later. But right now let’s just find a way out before the rest of the ants catch up.” She panted and accidentally dropped the pipe, her arms starting to falter a bit. But she pushed herself harder, doing her best to keep up and not fall behind.

“How are you holding up back there?” Hugo asked, slowing down when he was sure they lost the ant queen.

“I’m okay for now, but I’ll need to rest soon. I can’t stay up here for much longer.” She panted, just before her arms gave out and she began to fall. But Hugo turned quickly, snatching her from the air before she could hit the ground, placing her back on top of his head, Like she had been before they entered the tiny town that was now overgrown with nature.

“I think we’re good for now. I don’t think it’s able to get through that gap I squeezed through.” Hugo whispered. Slowing down to a stop, his purple pheromones glinted off his skin from both the long run and fear.

“What’s this purple-ish stuff coming off your fur? I've never seen anything like it before.” She whispered back. She caught some on her hand and held it close up to her eye to inspect it.

“Be careful with that,” He exclaimed resting against the truck side.

“What does it do?” She asked. Outside the banging and scraping of metal grew louder as the ant grew more frustrated.

“It can control humans, but I don’t know if it works on mutes so please be careful Clem.” He said slowly, inching away from the sounds.

“How does it work?”

“It works instantly if it touches any part of a human, so I guess it doesn't work on birds.”

“That’s really interesting, how did you find out about it?” She asked, fiddling with the long, thin, black metal tube around her neck.

“In the first burrow I was from, there was a Doctor named Emilia who ran the place. She wanted to experiment on mutes like us, they wanted to give intelligence to us just so they could take it away. I found out after one of her assistants tried taking a sample of my blood. Some of my pheromones got on him and he stopped all of a sudden. After a while I figured out I could control people if my pheromones came into contact with their skin.

“Did you ever try it again?” Clementine asked, curiously resting her head on his arm.

“No, I don’t want to use it unless I have to. And even then, I don’t know what it works on other than you of course.” He glanced back at the truck as the banging got closer and louder.

“Look out!” Clementine yelled as a sharp sizzling sound cut through the air. The truck suddenly began to smoke, clear steaming liquid ate through it, and the ant queen's head poked through, hissing and snapping.

“Uh..did I forget to mention that these things spit acid?” Clementine sheepishly said as Hugo took off running again, The ant hot on their trail once more after breaking out of the truck.

“Yes, you did, but I’m not even mad about it this time. Because you know what? The Deathstalkers we came across weren't this bad. Yeah, they had venom in their tails, sure. But at least those things couldn’t spit stuff at us!” He exclaimed as he ran.

“Hang on a second, you met a Deathstalker, and you’re still alive? how exactly did you accomplish that? And you said there someone with you!?” Clementine cried, clinging desperately to his head fur.

“No time to unpack that now, but I’ll tell you if we don’t die within the next two minutes!” Just then the ant backed them up against an alley wall, blocking their only way out. The ant was slowly getting closer, clearly taking its sweet time doing so.

I’m so sorry, Kipo. I promised to protect you, and I failed. But suddenly and for no apparent reason the ant froze, and then started to writhe in agony. Hugo looked up to see Clementine blowing hard into what seemed to be a metallic black dog whistle. He thanked his stars that it also seemed to be an ant whistle as well.

Before he could mention anything about it to her however, A silver bolt shot into the top of the creatures head, the end sticking out through its chin. The ant's body jerked once more for a moment before crumpling to the ground.

Clementine peaked up from Hugo’s furry head and saw a long-legged white figure jump down in front of the dead queen, a crossbow in hand. She turned to face them, her pink eyes narrowing as she loaded up another bolt.

Suddenly Clementine broke the cold silence between all of them.

“Thank goodness your here Winter, I wasn’t sure if we were gonna make it or not.”

“You know her?” Hugo asked, baffled.

“Listen, I would love to talk to you both, and figure out why and how you got yourself into this mess, but we have to move.” She turned around and pulled a large rope from her belt, before tying it around the ant queens head. She gave a few hard tugs and the head of the creature came clean off, a few droplets of blood flying out, some finding their way onto her cheek.

She wiped her face clean and pulled the bolt out of the freshly decapitated head, and then turned around to face them. “There are hundreds more almost just as mean and deadly as this one, so we should get going now. They probably won’t be too pleased once they find out their queen’s been assassinated.”

Hugo stared in awe and shock before hearing Clementines chuckle at his surprised face. “She’s amazing right?” Hugo gave a nod and replied to Winter, “yeah you’re right. We probably should get a move on now.”

“Wait up, I’ll come with you, I’m heading home anyways.”

“Oh good”, Clementine chirped. “We could use your protection in case we run into anything else. Wait a second, what were you doing around here anyways?”

“Searching for herbs.”

“You know you could just grow those, right?” Hugo added in.

“Guess I like the thrill of the chase.”

Clementine gasped sharply, before exclaiming, “I can’t believe I forgot to introduce you two! Winter, this is Hugo, and Hugo, Winter. I know her from one of my travels.”

“Now I finally know who you are, nice to meet you Winter. Thanks for saving our skins back there.”

“No worries, it’s nice to meet you too, Hugo. Hey, when we make it to my place, would you two want to come inside and have some roasted ant?”

“That sounds great!” Said both Hugo and Clementine simultaneously. The two were both very hungry after nearly dying.

As the group walked on and got to know each other, Hugo became increasingly positive about the whole situation. He thought of Kipo and all the stories he could tell her after being separated for just one day. He hoped he wouldn’t be without her for too much longer.

Chapter Text

The trio sadly didn’t make it to winters home that night.

After finally leaving acid ant territory as Winter called them and three hours of yet even more traveling. They decided to make camp in an abandoned clothing store. And after reading it and taking everything they wanted or could carry. Something that Hugo still felt very guilty for. Winter and Clementine got a fire going, cooking up some ant meat with a makeshift spit Hugo made. And packing up the rest of it for later In some Tupperware they found.

“So, what’s our next move?” Winter asked around a mouthful.

“Hopefully, get to Timbercat Forest without dying before we even get halfway,” Hugo said, grabbing a leg of meat and starting to eat it.

“Oh, that’s easy. Just don’t trust Clem when it comes to shortcuts, and you’ll be fine.” Winter grinned her long sharp teeth glinting from the light of their small fire. Taking Clementine’s map from her, she opened it up, looking it over.

“Hey,” Clementine protested as she tried and failed to fit a large leg of meat in her small beak.

“See, look if we stay on the root we’re on now we’ll reach a train that’ll take us close to where you two need to go. But once we get close, I’ll head out.” Winter said, pointing to several parts of the map with her paw ignoring Clementine.

“We’ll have to cut through ware the mega beagles life though,” Hugo pointed out, gesturing at a spot on the map that was close to where they were staying.

“Would you rather that or have to deal with the Mob Frogs. Because if not, then going through ware the mega beagles is our best bet. At least then, we’ll just have to worry about not touching them. Which should be pretty easy considering what we just went through.” Clementine said, leaning over to look with them.

“You do have a point there. But why aren’t you coming with us, Winter?” He asked, picking up the rest of the meal.

“I don’t want to get involved in whatever you two are doing. I’ll get you to where you’re headed then I’m going home I don’t want to get caught up in anything.” She said bluntly crossing her long arms over her chest.

“Makes sense, I suppose, but why do you both travel so much?” Hugo asked curiously, leaning back against a crate.

“I like to find new fruit plants and other things like that to use in my cooking. While Clem once said, she just travels for the heck of it.” Winter smirked at Clementine, who huffed and flew up toward the rafters for a place to sleep.

“Oh come on, Clem, she was just teasing come back,” Hugo called, smiling at the place where she went.

“Nope, screw both of you. I’m going to bed,” Clementine called back in mock offense, already making a nest from some old towels she found.

“We should probably get some sleep ourselves. We've got a long day of travel in the morning.” Winter said, getting up and venturing farther into the store to find a comfortable place to rest her very fluffy tail swinging behind her.

Following their example, Hugo dug in his backpack until what he found made him grin. Pulling out his blanket, he curled it around himself and was soon asleep.

••••••••••

Very early in the morning just as the sun began to rise, Hugo was woken up by someone shaking his arm. Opening his eyes, he saw Clementine looking down at him.

“Hay bud Winters already grabbed everything we’ve gotta get moving.” She said as he sat up, folding up his blanket and putting it away. He got to his feet, slinging his backpack over his shoulders.

“You two coming or what?” Winter's voice called from the doorway of the store where she was looking through a crate.

“Yeah yeah, keep your fur on,” Clementine muttered, jumping into the air and flying off toward her. Hugo soon followed behind, finding Winter grabbing more clothes and putting them in her bag.

“What is with you two and taking everything?” Hugo said, grabbing their food containers.

“Everyone who probably lived here is dead, so they won’t know or care if we take everything we want from where we go. Just trust me on this one.” Clementine said, landing on his head, a small backpack slung over her arm.

“I know, but I still feel guilty about it,” Hugo said as the three left the old store behind.

“Everyone does it up here, didn’t the humans do it where you're from?” Winter asked, genuinely curious, slowing down to match his pace.

“Oh, heck no,” Hugo said as they entered a huge overgrown blueberry field where many building-sized mega beagles were sleeping.

“There’s a mega up ahead guise, and it’s a massive one,” Clementine whispered, fluttering just above Hugo’s head, pointing at a pale brown mega beagle with black ears right in their path.

“What do we do?” Hugo said his pale-yellow eyes were going wide at the sight of the mute.

“Be real quiet as we go, and whatever you do, don’t touch the baby’s,” Winter hissed, waving them on as she pulled a small line green dart gun from her belt tossing it up to Clementine. Who caught it, holding it tightly in her hands.

“You remembered to grab my dart gun?” Clementine whispered, and Hugo could hear the smile in her voice as they inched past the mega.

“Hang on a minute, ware, and how did you manage to get your little hands on a tiny dart gun?” Hugo said, trying desperately not to freeze up in fear when they got close to its nose.

“Would you two shut up before we wake this thing,” Winter growled lowly, her teeth bared as one of the Megas large brown eyes cracked open.

Hugo and Clementine quickly stopped talking as they inched past the bunny as it’s nose began to twitch, quickly catching their scent.

“Crap baskets,” Clementine yelped as it’s head rose turning there way.

“Run,” Hugo said and three took off the mega not far behind.

“This is bad, this is really really bad, we’re all screwed.” Clementine cryed jumping from Hugo’s head flying ahead of them searching for a quick way out.

“Clem, this is why I don’t normally travel with you,” Winter said, leaping over the roots of a bush Hugo just feet behind.

“Less arguing, more running for our lives,” Hugo yelled, putting on a burst of speed trying to keep close to the two as the mega beagle's paw came down on where they had just been, with a mighty boom causing the ground to shake, almost making them fall.

“I see the train just up ahead we’re almost out you guise,” Clementine exclaimed, flapping her arms faster as she sped toward a slowly moving silver boxcar just up ahead.

“We’re gonna make it,” Hugo thought putting on a final burst of speed as he jumped into the boxcar being helped up by Winter.

The mega beagle stopped at the edge of the field it’s tongue hanging from its mouth as it panted.

“We did it.” Winter grinned slumping against the wall of the car, her shoulders slumping in relief.

Hugo just nodded sitting down next to her watching the field slowly pass them by hoping they wouldn’t get killed in the next few hours or even day.

Chapter Text

Winter leaned her head against the wall with a small thump. Of all the things she expected today, nearly dying by mega beagle was not on that list. But, she probably should have expected it all things considered. Traveling with Clementine was always going to be interesting.

But now, they had Hugo with them, which was still something Winter had to get used to. And from what she heard from eavesdropping on them, where he came from was super weird too.

Winter had only heard about sightings of humans around the many mute territories that made up Las Vistas. But she had never heard of a mute living with humans before. So she was, in a way, still kind of processing that little tidbit of information.

Her large ears pricked as a small thump sounded, looking up she saw Hugo slide down the wall to sit next to her.

“I thought you were asleep,” Winter said, her head cocking to the side, her pointy ear-tips twitching.

“Well I would be, but Clem was absolutely determined to sleep on every single slightly soft thing in this boxcar and one of those things was not going to be me. Let me tell you, that little owl may be tiny but she’s got a serious death grip like you wouldn’t believe.” Hugo huffed, gesturing with a large hand to where Clementine was currently passed out cold on a combined pile of both blankets and backpacks.

“To be fair you do look pretty fluffy. And trust me I know about that grip she’s got.” She said, giving him a light nudge with her shoulder.

“Oh hush it you, I’ve seen her try to use you as a living pillow a few times.” Hugo said. He lightly pushed her back, almost managing to knock the slightly smaller mute over, but she managed to catch herself with a paw.

After that the two fell into a comfortable silence, staring out the large hole where the door once was and watching the huge expanse of a wheat field as the sun set upon it, making everything in its path glow with a warm golden hue.

Winter rested her head on his arm starting to doze off before Hugo broke the silence, making her jump.

“Hey Winter? I never asked before, but what kind of mute are you? I’ve seen pictures of dogs in books so I thought you were one when we first met. But now that I’ve seen you better I think I’m wrong.” He explained.

She gave him a puzzled look before it came to her. “Ooooh.” she gave a short giggle, before explaining further, “fox-wolf hybrid.”

“sorry if this is a touchy subject, but how exactly does that work? Did you..um..have a mute fox mother and-”

She softly interrupted him, her face scrunching up. Hugo found this a little cute, but chose not to say anything about it, knowing it would be rude.

“No. I never had any parents, I'm a human experiment as far as I know.” she shrugged, trying not to seem too bothered by his inquiry.

“something similar happened to me too actually. This one doctor, I don't know why but, she hates creatures like us. Her sole mission is to give mutes intelligence only to then strip it away. I was locked up by her for a while, and the things she did-” his voice started to crack and strain, try as he might to stop it.

Winter looked at him with sympathy and shared sadness, even though she barely knew him, she hated to see him this way.

“Hey” she said softly. He turned and looked down at her. “what's something that you really wanted to when you were younger? Regardless of if you ever left the burrow or not, if you could do one thing what would it be?” she asked, wanting to get both of their minds off the topic.

He smiled and looked back at the sunset. “ok. But you can't laugh. Promise?”

“of course” she said.

“I used to want more than anything else, to be king. I found a book that had to do with that kind of stuff. Kings and Queens and fairies and the like. I decided that from then on I’d make it my mission in life to be king of somewhere where mutes and humans could live together, as equals.”

She gave a giggle, thinking his wish was a little cute.

“heey!” he laughed. “I thought we agreed no laughing!” they both let out a fit of laughter, and once they calmed down, Hugo asked the same question to Winter.

“what about you then? Did you have any dreams you wanted to make real? Maybe you still have some?”

“yeah actually. I want to open up a restaurant, I love cooking and baking, and I want to help feed any hungry mutes that come my way. Food isn't always easy to come by around here. And it usually isn't too appetizing either.”

“well if you ever open one up, I'd love to come and try something. I still remember that stew you made for me and Clem, I cant remember the last time I tasted something so good.”

“Aw, thanks.” she gave him a warm smile.

They sat in silence again for some time before she suddenly looked up at the moon. She had the urge to start howling, but she was nervous about doing it in front of someone else. She started out soft and slightly shaky, trying not to draw attention to herself. Hugo noticed this and decided to join in, to make her more comfortable.”

“OOoUOOH!” he howled, his voice cracking in seven different ways.

She looked at him funny but decided to play along.

“Ouooooh! That's how you do it. She smirked proudly.

“No, this is. uOOOOoh!”

They sat there for a while, occasionally breaking their howling contest up with small bursts of laughter. They even ended up waking the disheveled and drowsy Clementine, who, after hearing this foolishness, gave a tired chuckle and murmured, “idiots..” before flopping back down and instantly passing out cold.

••••••••••

Not so far away from the trio, Kipo rode Pierre with a slumbering Wolf on the back of the saddle. Kipo perked up, hearing something over Wolfs snoring in the distance, something strange. She listened closer, realizing what it was. “Thats some strange howling.” she muttered.

Chapter Text

Clementine, as usual, was the first to wake up the next morning, just as the sun rose.

She yawned, wiped her drowsy eyes, and looked around the boxcar. The first thing she spotted being Hugo and Winter, snuggled together, with Hugo using Winter's side as a pillow while Winter held onto his arm like it was some kind of muscular stuffed toy.

A sour look crossed her face as jealousy flashed in her mind; the target being Hugo, wishing she was the one snuggled against Winter’s soft fur. Why did he get to be the one that got to do it when she couldn’t?

“Why am I even worrying about this? I’ve got crap to do today.” She muttered in her native tongue. fluttering over to the dozing pair, she started tapping her wing against the side of Hugo’s head.

“Wake up Hugo, come on, the suns starting to rise so get your life together, man!” Clementine shouted, continuing to tap on his crown.

“Alright, I’m up,” Hugo mumbled as he turned his face away from her.

“No you're not, your eyes are still closed. Now come on and get up before I make you. And believe me, you don’t want me to do that.” She said, the jabs steadily becoming harder.

“Alright, fine.” Hugo huffed. Sitting up gently, He removed his arm from Winter's hold, despite the fact he was about to wake her anyway, before Clementine had the chance to.

Winter grumbled something neither of them could understand, and slowly forced her eyes open.

“Ten more minutes, please.” Winter mumbled, her ears lowering as the long fur on her head fluffed up like a snowy mane.

“Nope, we're already burning daylight, and we’ve got things to do, or did you forget?” Clementine said, crossing her small arms over her chest. Her pointy boot tapping against the floor.

“Yeah yeah, keep your feathers on. I just don’t know why we have to head out at the crack of dawn.” Hugo said, his eyes starting to close again slowly.

“Sorry to disappoint you both, but the train is slowing down, so we gotta move!”

At that, the trio packed up their food and gear, hopping off once everyone was ready. They happened to get off near some woods and decided to travel in that direction, at Clementine’s request.

They walked for about an hour, eventually coming across a large village made of nothing but treehouses.

Hugo glanced around, finding it very strange and a little unnerving, seeing as it seemed to be entirely abandoned. However, abandoned cities and things of that sort weren’t uncommon on the surface world. But still, Hugo wasn't used to it, so he kept his guard up just in case.

Winter and Clementine, however, were both happy to see where they ended up. The two had been there before many times, under different circumstances, and for various reasons, so they were familiar with the place. However, they both became concerned once they realized the forest was silent.

“What is this place?” Hugo asked, beginning to wander around, looking up at the trees nervously.

“It’s the Timbercat village; this is exactly where we needed to go,” Winter exclaimed, gesturing at the trees.

“But it’s abandoned,” he said, his shoulders slumping and a small feeling of dread settling over him.

“That just means they’ve gone somewhere. All we have to do is just figure out where so we can find them.” Winter said, reaching up and putting a paw on his shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze.

“Hey, you two stop moping and get over here. I found tracks, and there’s a whole lot of them.” Clementine called, interrupting them from a short distance away; she had her map out and was studying it carefully.

The two rushed to catch up to her as she started flying, though they had trouble keeping up.

“You’re getting better at this,” Winter grinned, having to speed walk to keep up.

“I’m working on flying longer distances.” Clementine said, slowly picking up her pace.

“You’re doing well,” Hugo grinned. They headed toward the edge of the trees where the faint outline of sand dunes could be seen.

“Where exactly are we headed?” He asked as the three left the trees and headed toward a massive, seemingly abandoned settlement.

“I’m guessing Cactus Town by the look of it, which means it’s Umlaut Snake turf, so we better be careful. These guys hate sounds of any kind during the day.” Winter explained, grabbing both her crossbow and sunglasses from her backpack and putting them on.

“Let me guess. You know this because you’ve traveled through here before too?” Hugo said, reaching down and zipping her bag up for her.

“Yup,” Winter grinned as they headed into the town.

“I’ve heard stories about the mutes that live here, though I’ve never met one of them,” Clementine commented. They continued following the tracks until Hugo realized with shock and glee that a human shoe made up some of the trail.

Before any of them could continue, a thundering boom shook the ground, making Hugo and winter stumble.

“You guys felt that, too, right?” Clementine yelped in alarm, almost falling out of the air but catching herself in time. Pulling her dart gun from a pocket, her eyes narrowed as she looked for something she might have needed to shoot.

“Clem, put the gun away. I don’t think it’ll work on whatever that was.” Winter said just as another boom sounded, causing all of them to fall that time.

Hugo looked up at the sky, seeing a ginormous six-armed mute in the distance, slowly heading towards they're general direction. Hugo struggled back to his feet, and began running toward the mega monkey, a warm feeling blooming in his chest.

“Dang it, Hugo wait up,” Winter growled, stumbling to her paws and sprinting after him.

“Why are you two running right toward the source of danger? I thought the plan was to stay alive long enough to actually find Kipo?!” Clementine yelled, hurrying to keep up.

“What the heck is a Kipo? And yes, that used to be the plan.” Winter said, running faster. Suddenly she heard the sounds of the Timbercats and snakes fighting what she was sure was the mega mute.

“I’ll explain later, if we make it out of this in one piece. Now let’s just hurry up before he gets himself killed.” Clementine said, increasing her speed a bit more.

“This is a good plan. I like this plan; let's do that.” Winter said, switching to all fours to be able to go faster.

 

Hugo sped toward where Song was, not sure what he would do when he reached her. But judging from the sounds of battle he was hearing, he had to try and calm her before she could hurt someone on accident.

A sudden, bassy strumming sound caused him to stop dead in his tracks. And then suddenly, the voice he had been missing for so long, bounced off the concrete walls.

“You don't need the sun to keep you warm.”
“When you've got arms.”

Hugo ran as fast as he could towards the voice, hoping desperately that he was right about this.

 

“Wishes come from you.”
“And not a random shooting star.”

 

Time seemed to slow as he started down the rock slope, tears springing to his eyes as he saw a flash of brightly colored hair.

 

“We may not have storm clouds.”
“But the sky's always blue.”
“We've got something special here.”
“And what we have is you.”
“What we have is you.”
“What we have is you.”

 

Putting on a final burst of speed, joy filled him as he finally saw her and realized that this was real. Throwing all caution to the wind, he let her know of his presence by shouting her name for everyone around to hear.

“Kipo!”

“Hugo!” She screamed back, running straight for him. The two collided in a small blur of color. Tears streamed from both their eyes as Hugo spun her around once or twice. His arms wrapped around her lower body in a tight, crushing hug, never wanting to let her go for as long as he lived.

Chapter Text

After about five minutes of hugging, and the tears had mostly stopped flowing, Kipo was the first to break the calm silence that fell over them. “Uh Hugo, you’re crushing me I kinda can’t breathe.”

“Sorry,” he cried quickly, holding her out at arm's length, quickly looking her over to make sure he hadn’t hurt her in any way.

“You’re alive!” Kipo half-shouted clutching at his arms with her small hands with a grin so big Hugo was sure if it were any wider, it would have split her face in half.

“I know you are too, how did you even get here!” He half-shouted back, not able to contain his enthusiasm anymore.

“It’s a long story that I can’t wait to tell you!” Kipo exclaimed, nearly vibrating in his hold from pure joy.

“We almost died!” Hugo cried a grin almost as big as hers on his face.

“Oh my gosh, we did too. It was so exciting but also scary and still exciting.” Kipo burst out, letting go of him for a moment to wave her arms wildly.

“Man, I missed you so much,” he said, crushing her to his chest, trying hard not to start crying again.

“I missed you too,” Kipo said, pressing her face into his fluffy fur, making her reply sound muffled.

Before he had a chance to comment on that highly adorable fact, a strange half howl part screaming sound was heard. Hugo looked up just in time to see Winter hit the ground behind him silver crossbow at the ready. Clementine followed soon after crashing into her, knocking them both into the dirt.

“Are you guys, okay?” Hugo asked, struggling not to laugh as he set Kipo back on the ground even though he didn’t want to. At the same time, his friends picked themselves back up.

“Yeah, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to jump from that slope,” Winter said, shaking out her fur dust flying everywhere.

“Why did you do it then?” Hugo asked, watching Clementine pull herself up and shake out her feathers.

“We thought it was a good idea at the time.” Clementine huffed.

Suddenly a loud battle cry rang out as a small girl with a wolf pelt on her head charged at them with what looked to be a Deathstalker tail barb in one hand. Very closely followed by another human, a six-eyed pig and some kind of bug Hugo didn't have a name for just yet.

He moved to shield Kipo and the others, but in a flash, Kipo jumped in front of the girl holding her hands up, stopping the four in their tracks.

“Wolf, it’s okay we’re not in danger, put stalky down,” Kipo said, slowly lowering her hands. And the strange girl did what she was told although somewhat reluctantly.

“How do you know that they could capture us just like the Timbercats did.” Wolf interrogated her dark brown eyes narrowing as she caught sight of Winter, who also lowered her crossbow, to her side looking sheepish.

“That won’t happen,” Kipo said, smiling even though her arms were crossed.

“And you know this how exactly,” she asked, raising her staff again, clearly itching for a fight.

“Because he’s my brother and I have no idea who these mutes are, but if he knows them, then I trust them too,” Kipo said, throwing up her hands before putting them back to her sides a smile still on her face.

“He’s your brother?” The second human spoke up, stepping forward to get a better look at him the lime green hat on his head, making it a little hard to see his face.

“I’m Hugo pleased to meet you,” he said, holding his hand out to the smaller human boy.

“Benson, and it’s nice to meet you too. And my friends are Dave and Mandu,” He said, grasping his hand and giving it a firm shake before stepping back to were Wolf and the others were standing.

 

“Like those dumplings, Lio likes to make,” Hugo exclaimed as the pale blue six-legged pig squealed and jumped into his arms, licking his face.

“Exactly,” Kipo grinned as Winter walked over to Kipo, her long teeth stretched in a friendly smile.

The two quickly exchanged greetings before Kipo leaped forward, almost knocking over the taller mute with a big warm hug.

“You’re so soft,” she cried excitedly, her face pressed into her long bushy head fluff.

“Thank you,” Winter said flustered, her face feeling hot highly not used to the positive attention she was getting and from a pink-haired human no less.

With a tiny sudden hoot of alarm, Clementine flew up into Hugo’s head, fur cowering down into it.

“Uh, hey bud, I think that short scary human wants to stab me or at least stab Winter I’m not sure which right now,” Clementine said quietly just loudly enough so Hugo could hear but apparently not quietly enough.

“Oh, that’s just Wolf, don't worry about her. I think she wants to stab everyone she meets,” Dave spoke up for the first time since getting there. Using his wings, he flew up, so he was at the level of Hugo’s head, staring at Clementine curiously.

“Hey,” Wolf yelled, glowering as she pointed her staff up at Dave, who very quickly shut up, then slowly lowered himself back to the ground.

Kipo was about to interject before an argument between the two could start, but a loud growling made her pause, causing her face to turn pink as she let Winter go.

“Does anyone want to go grab a bite to eat before the sun goes down? I know we’ve all had a crazy day, and I’m sure we’re all pretty hungry.” Winter called to the others going over to whare Hugo and the others who crowded around as the mega mute they herd moved away from Whare it stood near them.

“Sure, I could eat.” Benson grinned excitedly at the mere thought of a hot meal.

“Yes, please,” Clementine grinned and followed the others as they started to head off.

Hugo stayed behind listening to them go as he watched Song wander away from them with a soft, sad smile.

“Hay Hugo, are you okay?” Kipo asked quickly, going back over to him, frowning up at him in concern.

“Oh, uh yeah I’m fine I just got lost in thought. But that’s not important, what was your first day on the surface like?” He asked as the two started following the group just happy to listen to her voice again.

Chapter Text

Rain began falling as the group left Cactus Town behind venturing into a vast oak forest. They quickly scavenged for any kind of food, and after a bit more travel, they came across an abandoned two-story home near a large lake. That after a quick discussion, they decided to camp in for the night. Where almost instantly, Winter completely took over the kitchen, telling everyone else to stay out, only letting Benson stay and help. Since he also had a considerable skill at cooking and baking. While the two got to work on supper, Clementine and Dave wandered the house looking for anything they could take with them when they inevitably left. And Wolf went off to crash for the night.

Hugo and Kipo headed out to the porch to catch up alone; they curled up on an old swing Kipo was surprised still held together. After Hugo finished telling the tale of how he met Clementine, a small hand rested on his arm, making him jump slightly.

“Hay Hugo?” Kipo asked from where her head rested on his shoulder, her eyes mostly closed. She didn’t want to fall asleep right then, but she was very comfortable, and the sound of the rain was making it hard.

“Yeah,” he asked, reaching over and gently moving her head, so it rested in his lap, and she would be more comfortable.

She smiled sleepily, her eyelids feeling heavy “Can I ask you a question?”

Hugo brushed some hair out of her face as the swing slowly rocked back and forth. “You can ask me anything

“What was mom like?” She asked as the rain started coming down harder. It was making faint thrumming sounds against the roof that was nice to listen to at that moment.

“She was…” he stopped for a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing. “Song was an amazing woman; she was kind and seemed to enjoy everything she did or worked on. I remember she taught me how to play the piano and helped me get good at it. Like Lio did for you with your guitar. Heck, you look a whole lot like her actually except for the pink hair and purple skin, of course.”

As he talked, he reached down, grabbing his backpack from the floor, and began to dig through it. Pulling out a few things, he gently shook her from the doze she was slipping into and helped her sit up.

“You found my guitar,” Kipo grinned, hugging him again, her voice sounding slightly drowsy from her short nap.

”I found it in my bag, or instead Clem did when I got washed up, so now I’m giving it back to you.” Hugo smiled, grabbing two more items before zipping the bag back up. Kipo smiled, hugging the instrument to her chest. She started testing out the strings before spotting what he held.

“What is that stuff?” She asked, leaning forward and setting her guitar on the table in front of them whare her own bag sat.

“These are two essential things that both Song and Lio made and there both for you. That’ll answer a whole lot of questions if you have them. And I’m sure knowing you as of course, I, in fact, do. You’re going to have very many of them. Probably even more than when Lio explained to you about your mute side.” He said, handing her both a photo and a small leather-bound journal.

“Thank you,” Kipo said softly tears welling up in her eyes as she looked down at the photograph of her smiling parents holding her as a baby between them.

“Don’t mention it. I know I should have told you before, but when you read that, you’ll see why. But I’ll understand completely if you would want to yell at me about it right afterward.” Hugo smiled faintly, rapping her in a small side hug.

Before Kipo even had a chance to unpack or comment on everything, he just said the screen door swung open with a soft creek, and Clementine flew out, leaving small clouds of steam in her wake.

“Hey, you two Winter wanted me to tell you suppers ready,” Clementine said excitedly, her arms flapping rapidly.

“Great, did she say what we would be having,” he grinned back, getting to his feet Kipo swiftly following his lead.

“Nope, but come on, and you’ll see,” she said, flying back inside the other two not far behind.

“Who wants jambalaya,”’ Winter called to everyone as she carried a large tray of steaming bowls to the big wooden table in the center of the room. Her eyes were full of warmth as the other members of the house quickly gathered around the table.

“This is really good,” Wolf said after taking a bite looking over at winter with a mix of shock and surprise on her face.

“Why thank you,” she said, reaching over and giving her arm a small pat with a paw before returning to her meal.

“Oh my stars, I love you,” Hugo said after taking a bite himself.

“What was that?” Winter asked, smirking slightly, pretending she hadn’t heard though her cheeks were turning somewhat pink.

“Uh nothing,” he said quickly returning to his food glad a lantern only lit the room in the middle of the table so none of them could see his face burn. But he could certainly feel it.

Several sounds of pleasure followed suit as the others tucked into their own bowls. The dining room steadily fell into a comfortable silence. After finishing his meal, Benson pulled out his little radio, and soon after, the room was filled with soft music with a very faint sound of static going along with the song.

“This is nice,” Clementine spoke up after everyone had finished eating.

“A food coma sounds amazing right about now,” Dave said, pushing his bowl away from himself.

“For once, I agree with you,” Wolf said with a small blissful smile resting her head against the back of her chair, her eyes feeling heavy.

“Thanks for this, Winter.” Kipo smiled, taking a swig of her apple juice.

“All in a day's work, my small pink-haired friend,” the tall mute said with a small grin getting up and going into the kitchen and coming out with another tray layed with steaming mugs and a pile of some kind of other food that smelled rather sweet.

“Now who wants beignets and coffee?” She said in a faint sing-song tone-setting it in the middle of the table near the lantern.

“I do!” Clementine and Benson said in unison, rushing to grab one before anyone else could. Dave following their lead a moment later ignoring he was almost full to bursting for the moment.

“What’s a beignet?” Kipo asked curiously, watching the others become excited.

“Oh, sweetie, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve had one of these baby’s with coffee,” Winter exclaimed, handing her a small plate and mug before starting to pick up the other dishes.

“Each bite and sip is like consuming fried goodness from some kind of higher power.” Dave chimed in wisely as Hugo got up and helped Winter clean up.

After all, the dishes were cleaned and packed away, along with any leftover food they had. They all sat together around the table, eating and drinking there beignets and coffee. Chatting and listening to the radio deep into the night while a storm raged outside the window.