Far From Sadness Sponsored by Nataraj For Anya_Arctic By Draconicon
The Far, Far Range was well-named. It was far away from any unwilling human or anthro communication with anyone else. Indeed, the only way to get in touch with anyone was to start the conversation yourself, to open up the console and start reaching out to traders and ranchers that happened to be passing through the area. Even then, it wasn’t something that was personal in the same way that business back home was. There was never any face-to-face contact, just a bit of chatter over the intercoms.
That suited Anya just fine. The arctic fox needed a break from people.
She sat on the edge of her property, looking out over the Slime Sea at the emptiness that lay on the horizon. That was something else that she liked about this place. It was isolated, but also limited. There wasn’t a giant stretch of land that never ended. She had this one little place, and that was all she needed.
The only problem was…
Looking over her shoulder, the vixen shook her head at the rest of her property. A pool, two cages, and three trees that had food growing, but no slimes caught just yet. She had built this up from a gift that a very dear friend had given her when she’d left earth, and it was lovely. The house had been there, and she could live with it.
But for anything new, she needed more slimes.
Groaning, the vixen pulled herself up. She shouldered the vacu-pack that the place had come with, flicked it over to the first empty container, and made her way to one of the canyons leading out.
It was time to hunt some slimes.
“Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone!”
Anya ran at top speed from the Boom Slimes that were going off like a firework display behind her. The actual explosions were not that dangerous, if one kept their distance, but -
The white vixen leaped to the left, her three tails pulled in tight to her chest. A rock from the canyon wall slammed down where she’d been standing, and it would have crushed her if she hadn’t jumped out of the way in time.
Boom! Boom boom! Booooooom!
“Come on, that’s not faiiiiiiiiiiiir!”
She ran again, jumping over the smaller rubble and running around the bigger pieces. No wonder this canyon was so craggy and sharp; it was breaking all the time, new edges blown off by the slimes exploding all the time.
Eventually, after running around four corners and up onto a ledge, she managed to find a safe place. Panting for breath, she shucked off the vacu-pack and flopped down on her belly. Her tongue stuck out past her lips by the barest of measures, and she glared at nothing.
Slime ranching was supposed to be easy. She’d seen the reports. There were tons of nice slimes out there. Pink slimes. They were supposed to be the first things that people found. Pink, cuddly, happy. Why couldn’t she have that? Why did she have to run into the slimes with a giant anxiety problem?
A low hum filled the air, and the vixen slowly rolled to the side. A green glow had risen over the edge of her little ledge, and brought with it a tingling sort of feeling. She didn’t move, not wanting to startle anything more explosive.
Eventually, the glow extended a bit further, touching her hand before spreading up her arm. The tingle got stronger, almost tickly as the glow stretched further and further over her, but she didn’t move. It wasn’t that bad, and it wasn’t like she needed to run off just yet.
Finally, a little green ball poked its head over the ledge. It stared at her with wide eyes, the little green slime ball inching its way closer and closer to her. Anya smiled at the tiny thing, barely bigger than her fist, and sat up. Crossing her legs, she patted her lap, calling it over to her with a smile.
It hesitated, but when she repeated the motion, it bounced over, floating as if it was less affected by gravity than other slimes. As soon as it landed in her lap, it nervously nuzzled at her stomach, and she smiled.
“Awww, aren’t you just the most nervous thing?”
She petted its head, shaking her own.
“What’s the matter, huh? Scared of people like me? Or...oh...dear…”
As she pulled her hand back, she realized that her fur was falling out. The white strands just dropped right off her fingers and the back of her hand, falling in clumps like a cancer patient’s hair...except faster.
The vixen tried to get to her feet, but that would have meant pushing the little green guy off her lap, and…
Well, everyone knew the rule of laps. She petted the little slime until she knocked herself out.
Waking up in a river, Anya groaned. Her arms and legs were hot, too hot, painfully hot. Probably from all the radiation, she supposed. She didn’t want to look at herself, knowing that she was probably bald all over now, looking like some sort of silly pink rat. For a bit, at least, she could lay there and pretend that everything was okay, just enjoying the cool water on her limbs.
Boom slimes get so scared they can’t help but explode. Rad slimes get so lonely that they want to cuddle you to death. What next? What next?
Honestly, she probably didn’t want to know. The vixen was halfway towards booking the first flight back to Earth as it was, and she didn’t want to make herself even more depressed about what she might find next.
She let the water carry her for a few minutes more before finally giving in to necessity. She sighed, lifting her head -
Only to hear the sound of another slime. The vixen sighed.
“Okay, who’s it going to be this time? A sea monster slime? A big hungry boy that’s gonna munch me up? A sharp-toothed speedy boy that’s going to rip my legs off? What? What are you, huh?”
There was no answer for a few seconds, then a slime that could only be described as a head-sized ball of water leaned over her forehead. It was...somehow blushing, too, and leaned its head to the side.
Anya spun around, floating on her belly as she stared at the new slime. It seemed like it was almost part of the pool, its body completely made of water and the same color water as everything around it. The only things that made it look different were the little black eyes set into its head and the pink blush that burned across its cheeks.
The vixen reached out, petting it, and the little bubble pressed up against her, blooping softly at her as it did. Her fingers were still bald, she realized, but there were bits of fur that were starting to grow back in. Maybe there was something healing about the water, or maybe…
“Are you a healing slime?” she asked, poking it.
“Bloop...bloop...bloooooooooooooop - nomph!”
Staring as her finger disappeared into a mouth that she hadn’t known was there, Anya struggled not to laugh her head off at the ridiculous nature of the whole thing. Here she was, radiation burned, half-bald, sticking her finger into a strange slime’s mouth. No wonder she was getting in so much trouble. She just kept doing things without thinking.
Shaking her head, she slowly withdrew her finger from the water slime’s mouth. No, puddle slime. She remembered what it was called now.
“Well, at least you guys are nice,” she said, rubbing its head again. “Do you have any friends around?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Anya smiled, swimming to shallower water. She started to stand up, only to have her legs fail her. “Oof, looks like...looks like I need a bit of a break before I start walking home.”
The puddle slime darted out of sight, almost seeming to disappear into the water. When it surfaced again, it brought friends. Many friends. Five more, each of them sliding along the surface of the water and surrounding her.
They tucked themselves under her arms, helping her float, and against her sides. A fifth one slid up her arm, making its way up along her shoulders and her neck to her head and perching there, keeping an eye out for things, while the sixth dove back under the water. It seemed to look for something, then -
It resurfaced, pushing along a rubber duck. The puddle slime nudged it against her, trying to get her to pick it up, and the vixen couldn’t help but giggle.
“Heheheh...well, at least there’s one nice slime around...Thank you, all of you…”
She hugged them as tight as she could, floating with them in the water for as long as she could stay awake, and trusting them to carry her in her sleep.