It's a bit long, but I wanted to make sure that story was good. Anyway, this is a story involving Melody Cerin, a member of the reptilian Cerpine race. Click here for the main Cerpine page. Enjoy! //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Melody Cerin angrily slammed her fist on the door button as she stormed into her room. The steel door on the other hand, showed no sign of added aggression, making her outrage seem much less intimidating. Sighing sadly, she walked over to her bed and lay down carefully, as not to crush her tail. Arms folded, she looked around the room. It was covered with electronic junk, most of it made of steel and other common metals. There were little trinkets piled on her dressers and desk, countless gimmicky toys she had built in a day and forgotten. She turned her eyes to the window. There was only one window in her room, and it was not exceedingly large. Through it though, she could see the snow falling down from the sky onto the moonlit snow below. “It certainly is very pretty.” She whispered softly to herself. Pretty as it was however, it was very cold. And very dangerous. More dangerous to her than most races, as Cerpine are reptiles, and cannot survive the cold like Humans and Apex can. Despite this, Melody did not care. It had been a long time since her father was asked to research the planet known as Ivoria, and she had hated every day of her life since. As a little Cerpine, only 8 years old and barely a meter tall, she had been required to get onto a solar transport tram and travel with her father and mother to the frozen wasteland. Once they arrived, Melody was required to stay in the shuttle. She watched as her parents built her prison and wondered with curiosity at the dazzling white wonder that lay all around the ship windows. Then one day, the last of the house was put into place. Her mother brought her over to the door, and then ran like mad into the house, carrying her in her steel, robotic arms, while her father found a place to park the ship. And with that, she was inside. Now she had spent FOUR STUPID YEARS in the same house, never permitted to leave, never permitted to go outside. And now, ONCE AGAIN, her stupid father had denied her request. “Absolutely not, Melody.” He had said. “Without a proper suit, you would surely freeze to death. You KNOW that, because I told you, because you ASK me every week!” Her mother was no better. She had just stared at her sadly, and nodded in approval. Melody groaned, and stared at her hands. Unless she was to hit a sudden growth spurt, it would still be a long time before she would be able to wear a sub-zero mobility suit, as they only came in adult sizes. Rage took her heart as she thought of having to wait even more years before she was allowed exit to the house. “I DON’T CARE if I freeze to death!” She yelled to herself, “Death is better than being locked in this God-forsaken hell-hole day and night!” Her yellow eyes turned to the window, and she froze. For a second, Melody had thought she had seen something. She thought she had seen two lifeless eyes watching her. Soulless eyes, without emotion or personality. For the first time in many months, Melody wanted her parents. ~ Melody was sitting in the living room of the household, eating breakfast, and watching holographic television. Christmas decorations were hung all over the room, most of them electrical in some way. In the corner, across from the kitchen counter, stood a very strange tree adorned with colored gears and other decorations. This was apparently supposed to be the Christmas tree for the Cerin household. Problem was, it was purple, covered in pulsating green orbs, and completely leafless. Nevertheless, it was apparent that Melody’s parents decided that no tree was better than none, so they chopped the sick-looking thing down, and covered it in spare carbonator parts. Melody tried burning it down once. Didn’t work. As she glanced at the tree, Melody shoved her hand into the bucket of Poptop-tarts and stuffed the crumbly green mass into her jaws. She used to enjoy Christmas before she came to Ivoria. Christmas was not an original Cerpine holiday, and it fascinated her for that reason. It was a symbol of trust, hope and love. When the first Cerpine rebels landed on the human planet known as Victory, they had to trust that they were in good hands. When they escaped their home planet, they relied on hope to keep them going. And without love, they had no point in living, for there would be nothing worth living for. It was all very touching, and it was as old as the holiday itself (At least for the Cerpine). When she was 8, Melody really took the saying to heart, but now, all it was to her was a stupid decoration her parents hung on the wall. She finished off the last of her obscenely unhealthy breakfast, and stood up. As she was walking over to the trash can, the doorbell went off. Her father was in his lab, her mother was busy cleaning up the crumbs she spilled on the floor, muttering to herself as she did so, and Melody, of course had never touched the doorbell in all her life. There was only one other sentient being on the frozen rock. Melody scrambled like mad to try and find a place to hide. She ran right into the bathroom and locked the door. As the bell went off again, her mother answered the door. From behind the door, she heard her mother’s voice, loud and cheerful in comparison to the other. “Mr. Yuri!” She said. “What brings you to our little tin can?” Viktor Yuri was an Apex who had fought as a rebel against the MiniKnog forces over 30 years ago. Now he was retired, and had come to Ivoria to spend out the last of his days peacefully. He wore a long brown fur coat paired with giant heavy boots. He was very tall, and his face always had a dark, stern look on upon it. Melody was terrified of him, and often feared he may scold or strike her, despite her parents saying otherwise. “I have some business I need to attend to with Mr. Cerin.” Said Mr. Yuri. His voice was stern and menacing, and Melody heard his heavy boots stomping on the floor as he came inside. “It’s about The Project.” “Right this way,” Said her mother. “He’s working in his laboratory right now, but I'm certain your news is far more important to him.” Melody heard the boots move past her and into the room a few feet away. For a few minutes, she heard hushed talking with her father, but could make nothing out. Then, she heard the door open once more, and the sound of the big heavy boots filled her ears. As soon as the sound of Mr. Yuri was gone, Melody opened the bathroom door and peaked out. To make a long story short, her parents were not pleased. ~ That night, after dinner, Melody was staring out her bedroom window again when her father entered her room, holding a letter. He sighed, and held it out to Melody. “It’s a letter from Dr. Alexander.” He said. “Your test results are in from your last skin are in, and I'm afraid... It's not good news, Melody.” Melody grabbed the letter and read it. “December 24, 3664, Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cerin. I have analyzed the test results, and I am sorry to inform you that your daughter, Melody Cerin is far behind on her growth. A normal Cerpine of her age would have reached a total length of three and a half meters. Your daughter has reached three meters, under the average length, but still normal. However, her DNA test results show that she is to be late still in her future growth. Testing shows that she will not reach average length for another eight years, if at all...” By this point, Melody’s words were virtually unrecognizable through her sobbing and tears. She had read all she cared to. She ripped the tear stained letter down the center and threw it at her father. “GET OUT!” She yelled, “Get out of my room, before I shove my claws straight through that stupid suit of yours!" Her father cautiously walked out the door, and as soon as he was gone, Melody fell face forward onto her pillow, sobbing. She wasn’t going to wait any longer. She’d get outside. Tonight. ~ Using her claws, Melody cut two strips of her blanket, and tied them to her feet to keep them from making noise. Then, she opened the door to her room, and slowly made her way to her father’s lab. There, she picked up a blowtorch and the keys to the ship, and stored them both in her suit. She made her way back to her room and stated working on the metal framing around the window with the blowtorch. She pried the window off its hinges, and a horrible gust of cold wind blew into the room. Already, Melody was having second thoughts. “If I don’t do this now, I’ll never get the chance again.” She said. “Dad will find out I tried to escape, and once he knows that..." Melody shuddered. The thought of being even more over-protected fueled her desire to leave even more. She looked out into the snow-covered night outside. Then somewhat reluctantly, she turned on the headlights on her mobility suit, and crawled out the window. “I need to find where he put that ship of his.” She told herself. “Once I do, I’ll start up the engines and never come back! Let’s see how THEY like being stuck somewhere forever!” And with that, she wandered out into the darkness, her headlights lighting her way. ~ With great effort, Melody stepped forward in the snow. It had been over an hour since she first left the house, and it no longer mattered what she found first. Ship, house... Even whatever building Mr. Yuri lived in. She could no longer feel her tail, and her suit was completely out of heat. Snow was pouring forth from the sky, making it impossible for her to see 10 feet in front of her. She took another step. The snow gave way under her foot, and she stumbled and fell face-forward. She could only see snow around her, but she felt she was falling. Then, with a loud CRUNCH she hit the ground. Melody opened her eyes. She was lying on her back, her head against a wall of solidified snow and she was looking straight up. She had fallen into a ravine, the entrance to which had been covered over with snow and ice. For a minute she just stared up, and watched the snow drift slowly down through the hole she made. Then Melody tried to move. Her legs mad no response as they had both been completely destroyed from the fall. Using what little power she had left, she pushed herself to her knees with her arms, only to fall face forward again into the ground. She heard something shatter as her jaw hit the snow, and she pushed herself up to take a closer look. There, lying in the snow was a broken headlight, exactly the same size as the ones on her suit. Melody brushed the snow off the ground and looked down in horror. There, embedded in the ice, was the skeleton of a young Cerpine child, its empty eye-sockets staring up at Melody as if to cry out in pain. Its tail vertebrae were scattered all around its body, and its neck was bent at an unnatural angle. Out of shock, she tried to move, but only ended up right on top of the skeleton again, her face pressed against its icy remains. She looked at it in horror, and then broke into tears. She was going to die here, because she did not listen to her parents. They would not find her for weeks, at least, and when they did, they would find her horrifying skeleton, just like she found this one. She closed her eyes, and waited for the end. But as she lay there, something came back to her. How it did, was unknown. Perhaps it was the calm action of sleeping and waiting, or maybe the shining snow all around her. Whatever the case, Melody remembered that it was Christmas Eve. She remembered all the wonderful times she used to have as a child, and all the times that her parents did their best to make it enjoyable for her here on Ivoria. She remembered the warmth of the electronic fire, which constantly changed colors and shifted into all kinds of amusing forms. She remembered the joy of spending time baking treats in the kitchen (and eating them). And she remembered trust, hope and love, the three things that Christmas stood for. Melody opened her eyes, a look of determination on her face. She pushed herself up and raised her head. “I’m NOT going to die here.” She said. “Not if I can help it. Not like this.” She trusted herself to get out of the cave, because she was hoping to live, and she WANTED to live, because she cared for and loved the people she knew. Using all the energy she could muster, she dug her robot claws into the side of the wall, and started to climb. Though she was colder than ever, every time she got a little higher, she felt more and more determined. Slowly, but surely, she kept raising her hand over her head, but her feet dangling like parasetic lampreys, weighing her down. The determination took over though, and Melody started to pick up speed. Soon, she was tearing up the side of the wall like a cat being chased up a tree. Her head broke through the layer of snow at the top, and she pulled herself out of the hole. Breathing heavily, a smile lit Melody’s face. What she did should have been impossible, and she no longer felt the cold. She looked around, and saw the sun coming up over the distant hills of snow. It lit up the whole area with its warm light, causing the snow to shine with a brilliant orange-white glow. “It certainly is very pretty.” She whispered softly to herself. "But not as pretty as trust, hope and love." She thought, and watched as the sun rose higher. As she kneeled there, looking at the sunrise, she started to feel light-headed. She looked around as she started getting dizzy. In the distance, she could see a figure running toward her. She tried to call out to it, but her vision went blurry, her voice failed her, and she fell over. Darkness filled her eyes, and she remembered nothing more. ~ It was 3 weeks after the night Melody escaped her house. Viktor Yuri had found her lying half-dead in the snow, and brought her to his house, which was very large and well-decorated. Also, not only had Mr. Yuri saved Melody’s life, but he had also given her a Christmas present, a custom-made sub-zero mobility suit, that he had made in his free time. He turned out to be a very kind Apex, and he told her that ever since he retired, he’d had nothing to do, so he had spent an entire year hand-building the suit for Melody. Her parents forgave her for escaping, and her father said that he probably would have done the same in her position. Now, however, she had been troubled by the discovery of the skeleton, and wanted to find out just who it was. She felt required to find it, to give it a proper burial, and she hadn’t told her parents, as she wanted to spare them the pain of seeing a dead child. After searching in the snow for about half an hour, she came across the hole she fell in. Slowly, she descended into the ravine, and started searching for the skeleton. She spent several hours, digging, searching and calculating to try and find it. It was nowhere to be found. Then it hit her. The skeleton was her size, wore the same suit, and only appeared wherever she was. She was the skeleton. She had seen what would have happened to her, had she given up. "Rest in peace, whether you're alive or you're not." She said, and she climbed back up out of the hole, and then made her way over to Mr. Yuri’s house for Lunch.