The Victor! - Posted: February 22, 2017
The unusually warm weather that Mistica had been having lately reflected sunlight off of Altered's moist form as the two insects combated below. As Hug Bug landed a final punch on his nemesis' face, he noticed that Altered felt a little less slimy and squishy than he had been just a moment ago. In fact, he looked far different too.
Altered stumbled in an attempt to shake off the blow. He looked down at himself and noticed what Hug Bug had just noticed. The slimy blues and grays changed and made way for shades of muted pink. He looked exactly like himself again. The difference in environment between the damp, cold swamp and the warm, sunny village seemed to be all the difference in the timely drying of his new exoskeleton.
Altered suddenly realized that his colors would take time to return after a molt. Had it really been so long since he last shed his shell that he forgot how insects work? He looked sheepishly at the Hug Bug, who was expectant for an apology at having caused all this chaos over nothing.
"We'll settle this next time," he muttered almost under his breath before flapping his now dried wings and flying off, abandoning his somber children below.
Defeated, the sombers scurried away, shaking tiny fists and vowing revenge as they were chased by their more cheerful counterparts. The remaining cooties and lovebugs swarmed the inflicted populations, undoing the anger caused by the sombers with their infectious bites.
Lyra quickly fixed her mane while Evan checked the batteries on the camera and gave her the all clear. "This is Lyra, Mistic News Channel 3, reporting on the aftermath of the battle we just saw between the Hug Bug and his nemesis, Altered. We have a special announcement from the victor for love, Hug Bug himself!"
"Thank you, Lyra," Hug Bug said. "This war is not over yet, Mistica. Altered may have retreated, but his sombers are still running amuck. It is up to you now to help us capture the remaining sombers and help us stop their reign of terror once and for all!"
"You heard him, Mistica!" Lyra took over. "Grab those jars and nets and get to rounding up the stragglers!"
Showdown! - Posted: February 18, 2017
Lyra and Evan found themselves backing up in horror as the trees near them rustled violently, leaves shaking and cascading around a monstrous figure emerging from the shadows, mucus dripping from its dull form. If Lyra was going to say something to the camera and the Misticans watching, the words, had already died in the back of her throat. Sombers swirled through the air, and it wouldn't have been inappropriate if a storm had broken and lightening had struck.
Instead, the missing Hug Bug swooped past Lyra and Evan, wings beating furiously past their heads, narrowly avoiding a collision. He landed with a flourish between the news team and the creeping figure.
"Altered," the Hug Bug hissed, clicking claws and buzzing his wings in menace. Altered didn't reply vocally, instead lurching forward with surprising speed, jaws snapping shut inches from a dodging Hug Bug's shoulder. The two seemed frozen in place, and then movement exploded between and around them.
The Hug Bug, known to Mistica prior as only a sweet, caring boss of the loviest holiday season, struck Altered's abdomen quickly, sending him reeling. Flashes of pink emerged from hiding, crashing against blue and grey creatures as the cooties and lovebugs gained bravado from their leader's actions. Caught off guard, the sombers fled or crashed to the ground in spitting, screaming heaps, attempting to strike off their Infestation-defending attackers.
"Are you getting this?" Lyra shouted to Evan over the squealing creatures. The tropical lirionox hopped awkwardly around a Grumps and Shyguy spat, before giving Lyra a thumbs up. She clapped gleefully, nearly bouncing in excitement.
Now this was a story!
"I should have known that this was your doing!" The bug bosses had forearms locked, matched head to head in battle.
"Can't handle any competition, can you?" Altered spat into his opponent's face. He took the initiative, smacking his elongated jaw into the Hug Bug's chin. While the Hug Bug was stunned, Altered pulled away, escaping the grasps of the other with aid from his still slick carapace.
The Hug Bug shook his head and tore off after Altered, and with a cheering whoop, Lyra and Evan followed close behind.
The chase took them all over the Mistican countryside, camera shaking but faithfully recording the elaborate fight. Neither bug seemed to have the upper hand, each landing shots, occasionally taking a hit from one of their flung underlings. It was Lyra who first noticed that Altered's colors seemed to be lightening as the chase continued, and movement and air flow dried the dastardly creature's shell.
This Just In - Posted: February 10, 2017
Rordon Village was very lively for this time of year. Flocks of cooties and lovebugs appeared every so often, soaring around buildings, crawling across the ground, and some even chased after poor Misticans who were just trying to take pictures. This was their first stop and she wasn't even...
"Lyra, you're doing it again!" Lyra's cameraman, Evan, commented before moving the bulky camera back up to his shoulder. He had been watching her pace for the past few minutes. A frown worked his way onto his lips when he caught the slight glance from her as she stopped in her tracks. "It's almost time for our segment!"
"I know. They tell me to cover this every year. It's getting tiring, Evan," Lyra commented before going back to pacing, hands curling into fists.
It was the truth. No one else in the news station wanted to cover Infestation. Every year, the reporters would scramble to nab the other, juicier, segments, always leaving her in the dark so that she was the one who had to cover it. She threw her hands up into the air in a huff.
"It's always Infestation. Would it be too much to ask for anything else for a change? Mistmas? Pandoria's birthday? Interviewing the prince and princess...heck, I would even give a report about znakes, and you know how I feel about znakes!" A visible shudder passed through Lyra's body at the mere mention of the creepy pests.
It wasn't fair to her, and as much as she wanted to complain about it, she did have a job to do. The look that her cameraman was now giving her caused her to realize what time it was. Scrambling into place, Lyra fixed her shirt and made sure that she looked professional for the camera. The whole world of Mistica would be watching.
Shifting the camera to his shoulder, Evan rose three fingers for the countdown until she was live. Lyra took those last few seconds to smooth down her mane, turning her attention towards a camera with a fake smile.
Just be happy and get this over with. There are people who love Infestation. Someone might have been waiting all year for this, she thought before raising the microphone in front of her. As soon as Evan's last finger came down, she inhaled a deep breath.
This will all be over soon.
"This is Lyra from Mistic News Channel 3, reporting live from Infestation! It's that time of year again when cooties and lovebugs arrive to spread their love!" The ahbruis faked a happy tone to match the forced smile on her face. At the mention of lovebugs and cooties, she gestured to a large group of them that had gathered in the trees behind her.
Before Lyra could say anything else to the camera, they all scattered, attracting both her and her cameraman's attention. A crinkling came from the bushes near the trees as though something were crawling or scuttling and brushing up against the bushes and dry leaves. It was accompanied by another sound they couldn't explain.
"That's interesting...it appears that something must have spooked those lovebugs and cooties," Lyra said as she made her way over to wear the bushes were rustling, almost forgetting that she was still on camera. Quickly she motioned for Evan to come to her side with the camera. With a brave face, she parted the bushes and searched for what was causing all the ruckus. They heard a hiss and saw a blur of dull color before whatever they were looking for scurried and disappeared in an instant.
"What was that?" Evan asked. "A new cootie?"
"That didn't look like any cootie that I've ever seen," Lyra pointed out. But if it wasn't a cootie, and it wasn't a lovebug, what was it?
Before Lyra could turn back to the camera and speculate on what it was they had seen, a loud, angry shout could be heard from across the park. They both looked up to see two patrons shouting at each other for seemingly no reason.
This was not usual Infestation behavior. What was going on?