The Great Playpen Escape
Martha would not stand for this injustice. It was maltreatment! Cruel and unusual punishment! A violation of Code--
"I'm really sorry," Ginger pleaded with her baby sister through the mesh of her playpen. "But I really have to finish this research report. I'll play with you as soon as I'm done, okay?"
"Moo!" Martha argued, beginning to pout.
"I promise, it will only take me fifteen minutes," Ginger said, reaching a paw in to pat the Baby Kau on her head. "Then we'll play all day! Just stay in here while I finish the last paragraph. That's all I'm asking." She lifted Martha long enough to nuzzle her cheek, before putting her back in her playpen and retreating to the desk in the corner. Martha mooed plaintively, but Ginger appeared to ignore her. She sat down and pouted, watching the older Kougra settle down at the desk and take up a pencil in her paw. Surely Martha, who considered herself to be the center of the universe, was more important than that scrap of paper with meaningless scribbles all over it!
Martha employed her best attention-getting tactic. She softly began to whimper, carefully timing each breath so that she sounded like she was almost, but not quite, sobbing. Then she unleashed the tears, which raced through her short fur as her whimpering became more pronounced. Then she started to outright bawl as loudly as she was capable, much to her Alabriss's discomfort, who was writhing on the floor just outside her prison. Martha paused and opened an eye, only to see Ginger still sitting at the desk, a pair of earmuffs on her head. Blast, Martha thought, her tantrum coming to an abrupt end. There was no other solution now.
She had to escape.
Her Petpet, relieved that the unholy wailing had ceased, rose from his prone position on the floor, and fluttered up and over the fence of Martha's playpen, settling next to her inside it. He whinnied soothingly, and nuzzled up against her neck in sympathy. Albus, as he was called, because Martha could never properly pronounce the word "Alabriss" always knew precisely what was going on in her little genius mind.
"Moo-goo ma moo," Martha said. "Now is not the time for sympathy. Now is the time for action!"
The Alabriss gulped. He didn't like the sound of this.
"We must escape!" Martha proclaimed, rising to her tiny hooves and toddling over to the edge of the pen. "There must be some sort of weakness here... A hole? A faulty link in the mesh?" She felt around the walls with her hooves. Her Petpet rolled his eyes. This was the fifth time this month Martha had attempted another Great Escape. "Argh!" Martha growled. "No weaknesses... They're good..." Albus whinnied boredly, as if to say We already knew that, Brainiac.
Martha put her head between her hooves and thought for a minute. She was a very clever baby, who had learned how to walk at three hours old, and was now working on learning to speak. She could communicate easily enough with her guardian Petpet, who never left her side and understood the inner workings of her criminal overlord-like mind, but getting her message across to the foolish grown-ups who inhabited most of this world took quite a bit of effort, as she could not yet talk. The cogs whirred in her mind. Her tail twitched. Not a good sign, her Alabriss knew. It meant she was getting an idea.
"If we cannot go through, we must go under!" With that, she began to shove aside the soft piles of baby blankets beneath her, until she found the plush green foam at the bottom of the play pen. She hummed an uplifting tune as she scrabbled tirelessly at the floor. Albus sat patiently observing her.
"Grrrr," he said, tapping her on the shoulder.
"Hmm?" Martha acknowledged him with a slight nod, not looking up from her work.
"Nerrrrr!" he whinnied, pointing outside the playpen. Martha finally looked up.
"Ah... right... That'll be a problem..." She toddled to the edge again and stared woefully at the polished wood floor which stretched across the living room. "I don't suppose we have any dynamite?"
Her Alabriss just looked at her.
"Well, no need to be snarky! I was just asking." He rolled his large pink eyes tiredly. "Hmmm..." Martha sat with her chin between her hooves again. "Ah-HA!" she exclaimed so loudly that Ginger actually glanced over her shoulder to make sure nothing was wrong.
"Moo!" Martha said innocently, and Ginger turned back to her work.
"Albus!" she hissed as soon as she was certain Ginger was deeply engrossed in her writing again. "Distract the guard for me!" Her Petpet face-hoofed, but fluttered out of the playpen obligingly, and crossed the living room silently. He leapt up on top of the desk and sat down on Ginger's paper, whinnying cutely.
"What is it?" Ginger asked, a little irritated. Albus snatched up her homework and darted across the room, turning to see if she was following. Ginger remained in her chair. A little put off, Albus frolicked a bit closer, wagging his tail playfully. He heard several scuffling noises coming from Martha's playpen. Sparing only half a second to glance back, he saw her carefully stacking her blocks into a staircase. She intended to go over the wall of her prison. That was a new one. Albus looked back at Ginger, who seemed to have disappeared.
"Nrrr...?" he questioned, beginning to feel uncomfortable.
"GOTCHA!" Huge, soft paws landed around his wings, and he found himself pinned beneath Ginger as they rolled across the floor. "I'll just be taking this, thanks," she said, snatching her paper. Albus shook himself as she let him up, and galloped after her, blocking her path to the desk. He felt disturbed that she didn't even look the slightest bit put off.
"Albus," Ginger began sweetly. "Do you know what I can do?" Suddenly, he felt even more uncomfortable. Ginger took a deep breath, before letting out a shrill whistle through her teeth. The Petpet before her cringed and brought his hooves to his ears. Suddenly, a small ball of fur slammed into him, and he was sent sprawling across the floor as a very slobbery tongue began to enthusiastically lick his nose.
Daisy the Huggy had been released.
Daisy was Albus's mortal enemy, for reasons which cannot be explained here. There was just something about those unfocused eyes, and the unhealthy desire to hug everything she saw that just drove the Alabriss crazy. With a squeal, he dislodged himself from the over-enthusiastic Petpet and shot like an Ultimate Bullseye arrow back to the Playpen. He dove inside, just as Martha had begun to climb her makeshift staircase to freedom, and dislodged many of the blocks, sending both he and his owner tumbling back down into the plush baby blankets at the bottom.
"Albus!" Martha gasped, emerging from a pile of Plushies. Albus shrunk against the side of the playpen, his ears folded back, feeling very ashamed of himself. Daisy, suddenly finding herself without something to smother with affection, retreated to Ginger's side, and proceeded to drool enthusiastically all over her paw. Albus shuddered as Ginger responded, not in revulsion, but with a sweet smile and a pat on her head.
"I forgot about the reinforcements," Martha muttered, watching with equal distaste. Albus nodded in agreement. She pawed the blankets in frustration. "Are we never going to escape?" she wailed. "Are we nothing but prisoners destined to be held captive forever by the injustice of... Wait a second!" The floor beneath the already exhausted Petpet suddenly slipped out from under him, and he was thrown to the ground again. He whinnied reproachfully at Martha.
"Sorry," she said absently, as though she wasn't sorry at all. She was fingering the soft pink blanket between her hooves. "Yes..." she murmured. "This will do quite nicely..." She began to twist the blanket up into a thick rope. "Albus! Help me tie these together! We're gonna swing out of here!"
The next ten minutes were spent tirelessly twisting and tying all the baby blankets together, until they had a long coil of rope. Martha stood proudly observing her handiwork for a moment, before stuffing one end into Albus's mouth. "Okay..." Martha whispered, checking to make sure the coast was clear, and that Ginger was absorbed in her work once again. "Go!" Albus carefully lifted one end of the blanket rope as he fluttered silently out of the playpen. He quietly made his way up towards the ceiling, the rope stretching out behind him. For a rope made entirely out of baby blankets, it seemed to reach quite a long way. Martha took her end of the rope and threaded it through the soft mesh of the playpen, before securing it with a tight knot. She dove into a pile of Plushies and gave him the signal. Albus began to pull with all his might. There was a brief moment where it occurred to him that perhaps yanking the playpen over might not be the safest plan, but he never outright questioned Martha's genius.
Suddenly, Martha squealed, and signaled to him. "Get down!" she shouted. Albus dove back into the playpen and crouched low. Martha burst forth from the Plushies and started to hastily stack blocks. Albus was beginning to feel confused. Didn't they already try stacking blocks?
"Oh, you're so sweet!" He looked up to see Ginger's face looming above them. She was peering affectionately at her baby sister, who paused her block stacking and looked up innocently, as though she had been playing quietly the whole time.
"Moo!" Martha cooed, reaching her hooves up as Ginger reached in and lifted her out with a large paw.
"Thank you for being so patient!" she said, placing the Baby Kau on her back. "I got my report finished, and now we can play! What do you want to do? Tag? Read a book? Dig for Symols? Play World Domination? Or we could..." Ginger trailed off and glanced back at her sister, who thus far had made no comment for any of her suggestions. She chuckled quietly. Martha had dropped off to sleep on the soft fur of her back. Ginger carefully carried her into the bedroom, Albus following, feeling quite exhausted himself. She tucked Martha into her crib and kissed her cheek. Martha gurgled in her sleep.
"Sweet dreams, Martha," Ginger whispered, turning off the light as Albus crept into the crib, curling up against his tiny owner.
"Next time.." Martha murmured sleepily after her older sister had retreated. "Next time for sure..." And she dropped off to sleep, snoring softly. Albus just sighed. Escaping was exhausting work, he decided, as he snuggled deeper into the blanket and dozed off.