War of the (Formerly) Kittens
No one could say for sure how the war had first begun, but it had been going on for as long as anyone could remember. Or at least since last Tuesday.
“Target sighted!” Zeelo laid on the floor, flat on his belly. The young brown furred kitten was perched up in a large wooden treehouse in the backyard. He had a pair of binoculars out pressed to his face as he tried to stare through them just over the edge. The kitten was wearing a makeshift belt made from bits of yarn. Several balloons, filled with liquid, hung from the belt, wobbling with each movement the kitten made. Other than that, he wore no clothing or accessories.
Down on the ground was another kitten. A small orange one who had just leaped over the fence into the yard. The kitten paused as Zeelo spotted him, his ears twitching as he listened to his surroundings. It was as if he could sense something was amiss. He took a few hesitant steps toward the ladder leading up to the treehouse.
“BANZAI!” Zeelo jumped to his feet in full view. He grabbed a large slingshot and ripped a balloon off his makeshift belt, loading it and firing it at the orange kitten. “You’re mine Calex!”
“MROWL!” Calex leaped into the air landing on all fours a whole three feet away from where the balloon landed and splashed. “That the best you got?”
“Oh I’ve got plenty more.” Zeelo loaded another balloon. “You’re not getting into this treehouse today.” He fired.
“But it’s my treehouse!” Calex protested as he broke into a sprint dodging the next balloon.
“That’s what made it the perfect spot for an ambush!” Zeelo retorted as he quickly fired more balloons over and over as quickly as he could.
“Ha! You’re so slow! You couldn’t hit me if I was standing still!” Calex purred smugly as he ran around the yard on all fours dodging balloons.
“Why not hold still a second and test that theory?” Zeelo tried firing two balloons at once.
“MROWL!” Calex pounced straight forward to the base of the tree. “You are so in for a booping when I get up there.” He grabbed ahold of the ladder.
“Oh… And how do you plan to get up?” Zeelo loaded another balloon and ran to the ladder. “There’s only one entrance and I’ve got it locked down.” He fired the balloon straight down.
“You’ll have to run out eventually!” Calex leaped from the ladder, barely dodging the balloon.
“You don’t know that!” Zeelo shouted. “You can’t prove there’s no balloon factory up here making more for me right now.”
“Dang it, he’s right.” Calex swished his tail as he considered what to do for a moment. “In that case, express elevator.”
“Express elevator?” Zeelo paused not knowing what Calex meant. He was fairly certain that oak trees did not have elevators inside them. Well mostly certain. Ok, with Calex it was within the realm of possibility! But there was definitely probably not an elevator.
“Just watch…” Calex crouched low to the ground, bracing himself, and then kicked off the ground leaping high into the air and all the way above the tree, landing in the branches above the treehouse.
“Oh…” Zeelo’s ears flattened. “Huh.”
“ROOAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Calex crashed down through the ceiling creating a kitten sized hole in the roof as he landed directly in front of Zeelo.
“Seriously!?” Zeelo threw up his paws pointing at the hole in the ceiling. “What the heck was that?”
“Yeah, I forget I can do things like that too sometimes.” Calex shrugged as he shook a few loose pieces of wood from his fur.
“Well that’s cheating!” Zeelo insisted. “Doesn’t count, gotta go back down and do it again!”
“It wasn’t cheating! And… What would it even be cheating at?” Calex thrashed his tail. “You literally just started throwing water balloons at me as soon as I entered the yard.”
“All’s fair in love and pranks.” Zeelo crossed his arms and nodded. About a second later his fur went rigid as he realized what he had said. “I mean, except dropping in through the ceiling.”
“You can’t just make up new rules as you see fit!” Calex flailed his arms.
“Oh, why, is that your job?” Zeelo stuck his tongue out.
“Those were completely different games!” Calex hissed. That remark had hit home.
“Yeah well…” Zeelo grabbed the last water balloon on his belt and immediately pelted Calex with it.
“Ok… Really?” Calex growled. Then he blinked as he noticed that the treehouse, Zeelo and everything around him was getting bigger. “That wasn’t water was it?”
“Nope.” Zeelo grinned as he watched the other kitten shrink. “Shame I only got to hit you with one.”
“Yeah well… You made one tiny mistake.” Even though Calex was now half Zeelo’s size he grinned mischievously. “Planning your little attack in my own home ground.” The orange kitten leaped up onto a large cardboard box in the corner of the room. He ripped the top open before diving in. A second later, a small red and blue mallet that appeared to be made of some kind of plush material came flying out of the box. It flew straight across the room before striking Zeelo in the face.
“OW!” Zeelo shouted. “That actually didn’t hurt at all?” Suddenly, a puff of smoke erupted all around Zeelo. It only lasted for a moment, but when it vanished he suddenly found himself floating high up in the air. He had just enough time to realize that the room was now much larger than it was previously before he plummeted downwards to the floor. “Gaaaaah!” Zeelo landed atop the belt he had been wearing a moment ago before rolling down onto the wooden floor. “Why do you have a shrinking-“ He paused as he stood up realizing something other than his size was off. His ears were rounder, and his paws no longer covered in fur. Looking behind him he saw that his tail was now a naked worm-like thing. “Wait am I a mouse?”
“Gotcha!” Calex pounced onto the floor on all fours landing next to Zeelo. The kitten might have been intimidating to the small mouse… Were it not for the fact he was now a full head shorter than him.
“Seriously, what was that hammer?” Zeelo squinted at the kitten.
“Honestly, not really sure.” Calex shrugged. “Odin and I got it last week working a case. Some weird bunny, named Tutu or Booboo or something. He was running around and just bopping people on the head with it. Got me with it too.”
“So, were you a mouse?” Zeelo looked at himself. He was unsure how he felt about going from feline to rodent.
“Yup!” Calex nodded. “Honestly, it happens to every cat at least once in their life. Usually, just minding your own business. Then bamf! Suddenly a mouse. For me it happens way above average though.” Calex grinned. “I take it this is your first time! Well… Maybe that will teach ya’ a lesson about trying to ambush me.” The orange werekitten purred smugly.
“Maybe…” Zeelo looked around the treehouse feeling slightly overwhelmed by how big it was. Random boxes of toys were now as tall as ancient trees… And spare droplets from his water balloons now looked like giant puddles and… Wait… There was an idea. “Then again… Maybe not.” Zeelo suddenly lunged at the kitten and shoved him with both paws.
“Mrowl!” Calex flailed his hand paws as he tumbled backwards and landed on his bottom in something wet. “Hey what’s the big idea!? You can’t just push people! And!” The kitten paused as he looked down at the large puddle of liquid he was currently sitting in. He then looked up at the mouse which was seemingly to swell in size. “Ohhhhhh.”
Soon the orange kitten was small enough to fit in the palm of the mouse’s hand. Zeelo wasted no time swiping the kitten up out of the puddle into his own paw. Then he pinched the kitten’s tail between two fingers with his other hand, and lifted the kitten up dangling him upside down from his tail. Calex just crossed his arms and gave the mouse a deadpan look.
“You know, you’d make a really good pet for me like this.” Zeelo grinned wickedly.
“Another thing that seems to happen to every cat at least once.” Calex paused. “And for me like once a week. Sometimes twice. Like… Even I think it’s weird how often this specific scenario comes up.”
“Heh, well either way I got ya good this time.” Zeelo beamed.
“Maybe…” Calex scowled. “But of course you realize, this means war.”
“Calex, you’re literally the size of an ant.” Zeelo rolled his eyes. “What could you possibly do when you’re that small?”
As it would turn out. Surprisingly more than one would have thought.
The next day Zeelo found himself walking home from school. It was a much longer walk now that he was a small mouse instead of a not really big but still much bigger than a mouse kitten. At least it was a scenic route, full of giant grass and flowers as he slowly trudged his way on the route home. All in all, it was a pleasant, if not extremely long walk. And then aliens rained from the sky.
“What in the!?” Zeelo stared up in the sky in awe as several strange objects, each about the size of his fist rained down upon him. They were strange, plant-like things that almost looked like a stalk tied to a leafy parachute. It took the mouse a few moments to realize they weren’t aliens… But something he recognized… Just not from this scale. They were spores, like from a mushroom. But why were they raining from the sky? He got his answer quickly… As one of the spores floated down, he spied a tiny orange figure clinging to the stalk.
“ROOOOOAAAWR!” The insect sized werekitten gave a shout as he came in range of Zeelo. He dropped from the descending spore and landed on Zeelo’s head, clinging to his head fur with all four sets of claws. “I gotcha!”
“What even is this?” Zeelo tilted his head, trying and failing to dislodge the kitten. “You going to just try to wrestle my head fluff into submission.”
“Tempting!” Calex grinned, as if he believed that was 100% possible. “But I just wanted to distract you enough to hold still for a bit.”
“… Why?” Zeelo froze as he suddenly felt strange. He got a sense of vertigo as the ground seemed like it was slowly approaching him… Wait that wasn’t right! He was shrinking! Except… It wasn’t just that. His legs were starting to feel unsteady, his body a little more round. He was actually getting younger.
“Spores from the mushrooms that grow in the Valley of Moro, used in secret as part of healing rituals by the locals.” The tiny kitten purred smugly. “We like to use them when we bake cookies.”
“Should I know what any of that meant!?” Zeelo flailed his paws.
“Magic mushroom makes you younger.” Calex responded completely deadpan.
“But I’m only in grade school!” Zeelo’s fur stood on end. “I don’t have a lot younger to get!” With that he broke into a sprint, running as fast as he could as he tried to get away from the raining spores. As he did, he felt them taking effect as his footing became less and less stable. He eventually made it to safety, but as he did tripped over his own paws falling forward. He felt so unsteady as he tried to stand up, now a mere toddler.
“I warned ya this was war.” Calex was still perched happily atop Zeelo’s head. He was completely unchanged.
“Hey, why didn’t you get younger too?” Zeelo growled.
“Secret kitten magic.” This response simply got Calex snatched from atop Zeelo’s head and dangled upside down by his tail again. “Fiiiiiiiiine. It’s cause I’m too small! I can’t breathe in the spores properly, and so they don’t affect me, even if I hang out next to them all day. You on the other hand are still just big enough for them to work.”
“I guess that makes sense… But…” Zeelo looked up into the sky. It was a clear day, nothing was overhead. “How did you even pull that off? Where did you even come from!?”
“Oh that one is easy.” Calex smirked. “First, I got myself a small but hollow pellet! With my strength it was easy to move around despite being ten times my size. Then I filled it with the spores as jammed pack as it could, to the point it was ready to burst at any moment. Then I made a slingshot from vines in one of the trees I knew you’d pass on your way home from school. I brought a small bit of dental floss with me to tie the impromptu slingshot in place, then I climbed up onto the pellet and waited. When I saw you coming, I cut the floss with my claws, launching the pellet and by extension me into the air. As it flew over you, the air resistance tore it open, making all the spores burst out and rain down. Being prepared for this, I was all ready to grab one and then ride it down to greet you.”
“You made that up.” Zeelo narrowed his eyes. “All of that is 100% fake.”
“Oh, then how do you think I did it?” The kitten beamed.
“I…” Zeelo huffed and stomped a paw. “I don’t know! But it wasn’t that ridiculous nonsense! And… Um! That’s it! You’re getting it now.” Zeelo proceeded to march towards home again, still carrying the very tiny kitten.
“Um… Aren’t you supposed to do something after saying that?” Calex asked.
“It’s a long walk and I have tiny baby mouse legs!” Zeelo squeaked and thrashed his tail. “Give me some time.”
“Okay, okay, fine, sheesh.” Calex muttered. “Just… If I had known you were just going to keep me hanging this long I’d have brought a book or something.”
When Zeelo got home, he entered his bedroom through an open window, the same way he had left in the morning. Mice were really good climbers. He marched across the room and paused when he found a random dime sitting on the floor.
“Wait here!” Zeelo dropped Calex atop the dime. “You’re my prisoner. That’s your cage. But I need a minute to get ready.”
“Uh sure…” Calex perched on all fours atop the dime. He made no attempt to get away. That would have been rude.
After a few minutes, Zeelo returned and snatched Calex up again. He then climbed up his bedpost and from there leaped to his desk. There a bunch of test tubes each twice his size sat on a rack. He climbed up the rack and then held Calex out above them in his palm.
“Gee Zeelo, what are we going to do tonight?” Calex asked.
“The same thing we do every night.” Zeelo responded. “TRY AND TRANSFORM THE WHOLE WORLD! Or at least one troublesome kitten. I got a science kit for my birthday this year. I had these set up on my desk already before this whole thing started… Still, mixing the potions up like this wasn’t exactly easy in my current state but…” He plucked the kitten up his scruff this time and held him out above a test tube filled with a pink liquid.
“Do you expect me to talk?” Calex stuck his tongue out.
“No Mr. Kitten. I expect you to fly.” Zeelo released Calex and the teeny orange kitten plummeted into the pink potion with the tiniest of plops.
“Arrrgh!” Calex’s head popped up from beneath the surface of the liquid as he began to tread water. “Argh, now my fur is all wet… Thanks a…” He paused as something began to emerged from his back. It started as two small slits, but they grew out into a large (in compared to his body) pair of bat-like wings. “Oh. I get it. You made a pun. Very clever.” Calex began to flap his wings as he floated up into the air out of the pink liquid… Though his body hadn’t stopped changing.
His tail grew thicker near the base of his spine, and thinner at the end. His ears grew slightly longer, and much wider. Then there were his paws. Their shape was mostly the same, but he had lost his retractable claws.
“Yes, yes, rise my creation!” Zeelo shouted. “And now, with your new nimbat body you will be the perfect size to carry me to school each day sparing me that long walk and-”
“Um…” Calex flapped up higher into the air then flew in front of Zeelo’s face so that he was eye level. “I do think that you might in fact have a teeny tiny problem there.”
“… Oh right you’re still shrunk.” Zeelo sagged his shoulders. “That walk is really long too.”
“Ha! Ha! Your plan backfired!” Calex stuck his tongue out.
“Well fine, I still have more potions prepared!” Zeelo huffed. “I’ll just drop you into the next one! That’ll teach you a lesson.”
“And how do you plan to drop me when I can now fly?” Calex stuck his tongue out and flew in a circle around Zeelo.
“I’m still working on that plan!” Zeelo made several attempts to snatch the nimbat out of the air, but the little creature was to agile, moving just out of his reach each time. “Oh! Uh! If you fly down into the potion I’ll be your friend!”
“We’re already friends!” Calex giggled as he flew higher up into the air.”
“Um well, I’ll give you your weight in candy from my secret stash?” He tried with an insincere in smile.
“I weigh like nothing right now!” Calex huffed. “I want your weight in candy!” He hovered above the opening of one of the test tubes just out of Zeelo’s reach.
“What!? You greedy teeny kitten of a nimbat!” Zeelo growled. “That’s more than you could even eat in your-“ He paused suddenly, as he remembered that he was in fact still a mouse. This meant that he also did not weigh very much. Maybe only as much as one fun sized candy bar. “On second thought, I am considering this offer.”
“Okay.” Calex hovered slightly closer to Zeelo. “But it better not be anything coconut flavored! If you try to cheat me with coconut I shall unleash an unholy wrath like that which the world has never seen.”
“… Over coconut?” This gave Zeelo pause. “Don’t you think that might be just a teensy bit disproportionate.”
“SWEAR IT!” Calex pointed at the brown mouse accusingly. “Swear that my bribe shall contain no traces of coconut whatsoever?”
“Is it acceptable if it’s coconut free, but made in the same factory as some candies that use coconuts?” Zeelo arched his tail thoughtfully.
“That is acceptable!” Calex flapped slightly closer.
“Then I think we can come to an agreement.” Zeelo held out his hand to shake on it. After a moment of pause, he switched to just holding out one finger for the nimbat.
“Very well.” Calex nodded. “The contract is sealed.” He reached forward with his two tiny paws to grasp Zeelo’s finger.
“Though there is one teensy tiny itty bitty little problem.” Zeelo grinned wickedly. “In fact, it’s a trivial thing really, maybe not even worth mentioning… Except… Well the thing is… Prisoners of war don’t get to negotiate terms.” He lunched forward towards Calex, trying to catch him in the hand the nimbat was now trying to shake.
“Treachery!” Calex squeaked and tried to flap away to safety. He chose to go straight up, barely dodging Zeelo’s grab.
But the mouse then stepped off the rack and up onto the rim of the test tube. He jumped up from there and with his other hand managed to grab the nimbat and close him inside his hand.
“I win!” Zeelo laughed. And then he landed on the rim of the test tube, and slipped, sliding all the way down into a blue liquid at the bottom. “Gaaah! Oh no! Not this one!”
“What’s this one!?” Calex was enclosed in Zeelo’s hand, which was thankfully above the liquid’s surface. But as the mouse thrashed around, his hand was flooded with water soaking Calex in the potion as well.
“This is the potion I brew a few days ago. The ones I put in the balloons.” Zeelo replied glumly.
And then both mouse and nimbat began to shrink.
Zeelo grasped at the sides of the test tube, trying to climb out, but the glass was too slick. After a few seconds of exposure to the potion, he was as small as Calex had been just a few moments ago.
And Calex meanwhile had also shrunk, still being small enough to fit into Zeelo’s hand. He did his best to pry himself free, but the mouse was moving around too much that Calex continuously found himself thrown around and being knocked against Zeelo’s fingers and palm.
“Ah man, if we can’t get out of this it’ll never stop!” Zeelo squeaked. As he continued to shrink the expanse of potion began to look like the ocean. After a few more seconds, he realized that he could no longer see the glass walls in the distance. He must have just been a tiny brown speck, barely visible if at all, floating in the potion. Maybe even less than that! And he realized, there was no way that he could get out of this. Instead he just shrunk smaller, and smaller, and smaller.
Until the mouse fell between individual molecules of the potion. Yet, each of them bumped into him, causing both him and Calex to shrink.
“Well this is a fine mess you got us into.” Zeelo muttered as the two continued to shrink.
“Me!?” Calex looked up at him through the cracks between his fingers. “You’re the one who fell into the potion!”
“Only cause you wouldn’t hold still!” Zeelo snorted.
“Wait, so this is my fault?” Calex asked.
“Yeah!” Zeelo opened his hand up more so he could look down at the tiny nimbat now sitting in it. “Definitely.”
“So, what you’re saying is… I win.” Calex flashed a grin that was far too wide to come from such a tiny creature.
“What? How do you win?” Zeelo raised the tiny creature up to his eyes.
“Well, if I’m responsible, that makes this my prank.” Calex twitched his tail eagerly. “And this seems pretty final. Like, I don’t think either one of us is going to be setting up anything soon. So, if I got the final prank. I win!”
“Well… Technically, it was my potion.” Zeelo changed his tone. “And I grabbed you and fell in! So really, I guess it was my fault. Meaning, I win.”
“That’s not fair!” Calex flapped out of Zeelo’s hand and hovered in the air. “You can’t just change your mind and take it back like that!”
“Well I just did so there!” Zeelo stuck out his tongue. Then, both of the children paused as they suddenly realized something. They had stopped shrinking.
They were now in a strange realm of glowing orbs and sphere. Zeelo floated downward slowly, landing on a mass of the strange orbs. In the distance, he could see smaller orbs zooming around in the distance.
“It stopped.” Calex muttered as he looked around. “But looks like we’re on the subatomic scale.”
“They’re atoms.” Zeelo had a realization. “I get it. A potion is like, a mix of compounds right? The individual pieces itself are harmless. We’ve shrunk so small we fell between the potion’s atoms! Meaning it can’t shrink us anymore.” Then his ears flattened. “And that means I’m currently smaller than an atom and stuck down here and no one knows.”
“Oh don’t act so upset. This isn’t even the first time this happened to you.” Calex zipped through the air back and forth in front of Zeelo. “And it probably won’t even be the last time it happens.”
“I guess… Probably not…” Zeelo let out a small giggle. This was just the kind of thing you risked getting into when you hung out with Calex. Besides, if it was going to happen again, that meant he’d have to get back to normal sized first. “So… Now what?”
“I dunno.” Calex shrugged. “Wanna play a game of electron basketball?”
“How is that fair?” Zeelo crossed his arms and looked away. “You can fly.”
“And you’re like… Twenty times my size!” Calex gestured at Zeelo. “I think the handicaps balance out.”
“Fine…” Zeelo muttered. “But I’m picking out the ball.”
“Be my guest.” The kitten giggled. The war was over for now. The two had found a new game.