It was only a small amount of time until the EST had found a good home for Ekajra and Alerak on the edge of the city where they wouldn’t be disturbed, or disturb the general populace for that matter. And when I saw on the edge of town, it’s quite literal. They were practically in the woods, their small house sitting just barely inside the city. But that was fine by them, Ekajra finding the forest a great place to train, and Alerak being able to work on his various gadgets in peace. Unfortunately, they soon discovered a little problem. One morning, as Ekajra was getting breakfast, Alerak already in the middle of working on some strange contraption….
“Hey, Alerak, were almost out of food.” Ekajra said, pouring some milk into his bowl of cereal.
“I noticed that too… the EST put some stuff in the house, but I guess we have to get our own food once this runs out. You got any cash on you?” Alerak said, looking up from his work.
“Nothing. What are we gonna do?”
“I guess we’ll probably have to get jobs. I was already planning on something like this happening, and I’ve already figured I can just sell some of my technology to various people, but I don’t know what you’ll do.”
“Heh, maybe I could deliver news papers.”* Ekajra said with a chuckle. “But seriously, I’ll just have to look around I guess.”
“Well there won’t be much looking around for you until we fix your arm problem.”
“What arm pro… oh yeah, my arm.” Ekajra looked at his left arm. His metal, left arm. “We need some way to hide this, or nobody would even get near me.”
“And that’s why I’ve been working on this.” Alerak pointed to the gadget he’d been working on. “It’s not quite ready yet, but when it is it should be able to make it look like your arm is normal.”
“Hmmm, that’s pretty cool, when will it be done?”
“Maybe a few days. I’ll work as fast as I can.”
“You do that. I’m gonna go out and train.”
About three days later, Alerak was finished. “Okay Ekajra, here’s how it works.” Alerak said, handing the small, disc shaped object to Ekajra. “You just put it on your arm, and press the top of it.” Ekajra did so, and sure enough, as he pressed the button, the device came to life and what looked almost like a wave spread out over Ekajra’s arm before forming into, what looked like at least, a normal, flesh and blood arm.
“Whoa, that’s amazing, but… it still has the knuckle spurs, wouldn’t it have been better to hide them too?” Ekajra said holding up his arm, which on the hands where two small spikes, just like his right.
“Nah, they’re better as a set. Besides, if anyone asks, you can just say they’re from the black things you use to cover them with. Well, you better get looking then; I’ve got some other things to work on. One more thing, be careful of using your knife, cause that’ll disengage it”
“Alright, see you later then.” Ekajra waved behind him as he walked out the door.
He walked into the main part of the city, on the look out for any sign of a job; help wanted signs, ads, maybe even an un-employment office. The whole time he kept his hands in his pockets, trying to keep the knuckle spurs hidden as long as he could. As he walked by a particular building he heard someone calling in his direction. “Hey, you there, kid.” Ekajra looked over towards the source of the voice to see if it was in fact asking for him. “Yeah, you, with the neat guardian symbol tattoo, can I talk to you?” Ekajra looked down and sighed in anger at himself, and Alerak for that matter, for forgetting about one other thing, the patch of fur on his chest very similar to the one that marks a guardian, other than the fact it was black instead of white. Never the less, he walked over, just so the older echidna would stop calling to him, as some of the people around had started to look in his direction, noticing the symbol as well.
“What?” Ekajra asked, looking at the man standing in front of the building, just noticing out of the corner of his eye a sign that read, “Now Hiring.”
“Hmm, wow, that is an interesting mark there. Not natural, I’m sure.” The man said, laughing slightly. “But, anyway, you look like a strong young lad. My company’s gonna be building a new building soon, and we’re a little short on workers. How’s about it kid? It’s pay well.”
“Hmmm, let me think. I suppose I could use the job. What exactly does it include?”
“Well, there will be some clearing of area to build, and then the actual construction. You know, the usual building stuff.”
“Alright, I’ll take the job.”
“Great, it’s a deal then. Put ‘er there kid.” The man said, holding out his hand. Ekajra hesitated for a moment, but eventually pulled his hand out of his pocket, shaking the man’s hand. “Wow, some spurs too. You make those things yourself? They look pretty good. You must be big fan of the Guardian.”
“Well, I guess you could say he’s really influenced my life.”
“Well, alright then. The job starts in a few days. Report on the eastern edge of town, around noon I suppose. See you then kid.”
“See you then.” Ekajra said, letting go of the man’s hand and walking away. He headed right back to the house, telling Alerak of the job. He was not only glad Ekajra found a job so easily, but he almost seemed a little more happy over the fact that his device had worked so well.
A few days later, Ekajra walked out to the other side of town to a large fenced off area, with a “Construction Zone” sign out front. There were already a few more people there, and some more showed up before the man Ekajra had met the other day, who seemed to be in charge of the project, started talking, explaining where every body should go. They moved out, some grabbing a few tools, and started taking down the trees in the area. This took up a large chunk of the work time, and by the time they’d hauled off the last of the logs to be recycled into lumber, the sun was already starting to, so they broke for the day. As they were packing up the tools, one of the workers noticed Ekajra’s spurs, which he had been trying to hide as best he could. “Hey, you’ve got spikes on your hands like the guardian. I though he was the only one with those things.”
“Oh, these?” Ekajra said, trying to sound as calm as he could. “No, these are fake. They’re just in the straps.” He pulled on one of the black straps that covered his spurs. “Pretty good tools though.”
“Yeah, I suppose they would be.” The worker said, turning back to what he’d been putting away. They finished up, and Ekajra returned home for the night, glad he’d made it through the day with out too much trouble.
But, trouble was on its way. Back in the Dark Legion, a technician was working on his latest project. “If I can’t get him to return on his own, I’ll have to bring him back the hard way. Heh, and this is gonna help.” The echidna looked over at a picture on his desk. “Get ready Ekajra, big bro’s coming…”