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Colliding Worlds

From Shifti
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This story is a work in progress.

I'm working on this with a friend of mine. I had finished formatting...however, I had to repost some stuff, which has caused it to revert... I'll go back through and fix it again, just not right away...seeing as I don't have time. Many apologies...please review.Raven928


A saddened sigh echoed across the empty park, mixed with the wind and the occasionally squeak of the playground equipment. A young girl sat quietly on a swing, her feet dangling lightly over the ground as the wind rocked her back and forth. Her long brown hair, pulled back into a ponytail, wisped around her head as her bangs covered her face, which was pale and stained with tears. She wore a grey tank top and a pair of jeans that were ripped up at the bottom. She also wore a long worn out leather trench coat that smelled of smoke. She kept her silver eyes, which were glossy and wet, on the ground to avoid the stares of others. A long silver tail was sprouted from her pants, and that too was curved under in a depressing way.

Her shoulders slumped as her thoughts drifted from one thing to another, depressing her more as she became lost in them.

As the wind blew a tall boy of about thirteen walked through the park. He wore a green jacket and had his hands in his pockets as he attempted to stay warm. He saw the girl and glanced at her smiling. Then sat down on a bench a little ways off.

Her body shuddered as the wind stung her with cold whips. She glanced up hesitantly at the boy, acknowledging him there; then again brought her eyes back down. She rubbed her eyes to rid them of a few tears, then wrapped her arms around herself again.

He glanced at her for a moment then looked at his watch. He looked around for a minute, then closed his eyes. Thinking about something. He hummed a tune, looking at the clouds, through his closed eyelids. The tune reached her, and she listened to him. Her body tightened and she closed her eyes tightly as another gust of wind blew past. It was by far too cold for her here, though she didn’t know of anywhere else to go. She did believe though, that there was a more sheltered area across the park, but to reach it she would have to pass the boy. She took it into consideration, then stood up. She kept her arms wrapped tightly around her body as she silently and shyly walked back to the sidewalk, a ways away from where he was. The boy stayed where he was eyes closed. He still hummed, but the tune was strange. He looked around, seemingly seeing the landscape around him. She took a breath as she passed the boy on the bench, and held it until she was past him. It escaped her slowly as another tear cascaded down her cheek. She pressed on, hoping to get out of the frigid wind that tormented her. How she hated the cold… The boy silently got up, his eyes still closed. After a minute he opened them and headed off in the opposite direction from the girl. He tripped slightly, but quickly picked himself up. She glanced behind her as the boy left, watching him trip over himself. She had stopped walking for a moment, but a concerning thought made her continue her move. She brought her head back and continued on, ignoring her surroundings the best she could. The boy moved off the path quietly crossing back to follow her. He was surprisingly silent and kept out of her gaze quite well. He lost sight of her once, but closed his eyes, hummed and was following her again. She had thought she had heard the humming again, but ignored the feeling and pressed on. It wasn’t long until she arrived at the opposite end of the park, which was just as deserted. It was also encased in forestry, which helped to block the wind. She sat down under a large tree, facing away from the wind, and pulled her trench closed around her. The boy, was still in pursuit, but now faced a problem. He wanted to approach her. He cautiously climbed the tree from the side facing away from her. He slipped once the branches creaking, but hid himself quickly from sight. Still watching her he settled in to wait and think of a way to intro duce himself. Her head shot up, for the first time completely revealing her face. She looked around suspiciously, then brought her attention to the tree she was sitting under. She scanned the branches carefully, and though she saw nothing, she became very uncomfortable. She hugged her knees and rested her head upon them, shivering again, but more from her paranoia that the cold. A white raven sat in the tree watching. The boy was nowhere in sight. The bird swooped down to a lower branch making a harsh cawing sound. She relaxed a little, telling herself that it was only the raven that was making the suspicious noises. Her tail thumped boredly on the ground beside her, occasionally curling in around her to help keep her warm. The raven landed on a low branch of the tree. It cocked it's head slightly. "Hello," the boy said. She jumped to her feet, spinning around to face who ever had spoken. She took a step back, hugging herself nervously. “…Hello…” She murmured, keeping her head low so that he couldn’t see her face well. He jumped down from the branch that he had been standing on. "Sorry to scare you," he said, "you looked a little lonely, are you okay?" He came a little closer. She looked up a little, stepping back again. "It's okay." She said quickly, "Um, I'm fine..." She added, rubbing her face to hide the tears, but she was a terrible liar, and she knew it. He took a few steps forward. "I've already seen your face if you're worried about that. And you don't seem so fine to me," he smiled kindly. She hesitantly lowered her hands to her sides, letting her head droop and her eyes rest on the ground by her feet. “…Why do you care?” She asked defensively, letting another tear slip down her cheek. He shrugged, "I can kind of sense other people's feelings and I've always felt like I should do something about it." He paused for a moment. "Although...." She glanced up again, waiting for him to continue. As she did another gust of wind blew past, blowing her hair away from her face and pushing the trench open a little to reveal her features better. She quickly closed it back up, hugging herself again to keep it together. "Well, let's just say that I didn't need any help finding out that you had a problem.

“No kidding…” She murmured, taking another step back. “…but I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do to help me.”

"Oh, really?" he asked. He came up next to her. "Are you sure?" "No one can..." She whispered, hugging herself tighter. "Do you want to talk about it?" he gently touched her arm. She jumped at his touch and pulled away. “No, thank you, but no…” Her voice trailed off a bit as she stared at him, examining his expression. “…You’re not like the others…” She muttered, standing perfectly still. He cautiously approached her again. "What others?" He asked in a tone that was genuinely concerned. She stopped herself there and bit her lower lip. She looked away rather embarrassed. “Um…please excuse me. I’ve said too much.” She said, turning to leave. "But," He reached out his hand after her, as if to place it on her shoulder. If she stayed he could bring her close to him. Hug her and drain her fears and sorrows from her body. He could stand beside her and protect her. But he couldn't reach her. For whatever reason, at the word, her body froze. She couldn’t move, she stood almost mid step a foot away from him. She glanced over her shoulder at him, eyeing him curiously, as if waiting for him to continue. "Will you at least...help me." He struggled the words out. Then collapsed into a sitting position. She arched an eyebrow at him, and brought herself to stand normally. “…With what?” She asked, bending down in front of him. "With this," he said. His face suddenly contorted in pain. His frame became smaller in an instant, his legs thinned spreading three toed feet. His head shifted outward, his eyes moving to the sides of his head and a beak forming in place of a mouth and nose. His body sprouted black feathers, but after a moment they fell out and white feathers grew in. He had become a white raven. She blinked a few times as she examined him. “You’re just like me.” She muttered in disbelief. She offered her hand for him to perch upon as she let herself fall to her knees to sit comfortably. The raven jumped onto her finger. He quickly climbed up her arm onto her shoulder. He snuck behind her neck to her other shoulder. Brushing her neck as he did so. The feathers rushing past her neck tickled, and she giggled softly, something she had done rarely since some time ago. She glanced up at him on her shoulder, admiring his soft white feathers with a small smile creasing her lips. He cocked his head at her, somehow managing to smile even with a beak. His amused expression was comical yet somehow fitting.

“Hehe.” She sat back, pulling her knees to her chest and hugging them. “I haven’t laughed in so long; I had forgotten how good it felt.” She said softly, bringing her gaze back to the ground in front of her.

He sat there, a slightly calm expression on his face. His eyes closed and a familiar sound could be heard. She tilted her head and closed her eyes to listen. The melody calmed her, slowing her tears a little. She gently wiped them away as the flow continued to slow. After a minute of this he suddenly jumped off of her shoulder. There was a thud as he hit the ground in human form again. She opened her eyes and stood up again, dusting off her beloved trench coat with care. She turned to look at him again and took a breath before speaking. “You are very different from them…thank you.” She said, a smile gradually crossing her face. “I’m afraid I shall be going now.” She bowed slightly and waited for his response. He nodded slightly tears in his eyes. "Can I...call you?" She paused for a moment, thinking it over. “Um, sure.” She said, pulling a slip of paper and a small pencil from her pocket. “I might not be there much longer though…” She whispered as she wrote a number down and presented the slip to him. He took the slip. "Don't worry. I'm sure I can find you." He extended his hand as if to shake.

“Not what I meant, but okay.” She said, extending her hand as well and gently taking his to shake it.

He didn't shake, but merely threw his other arm around her to hug her. Before she could respond he changed and disappeared. His white form grew smaller in the sky for a minute and then was hidden by a tree. For just a second a shrill whistle could be heard across the park. Then all was still. Two feathers sat on the ground under the tree. Each was pure white. All the black feathers that had fallen out had mysteriously disappeared. She stood frozen after the short embrace, her body twitching a little. It was a little weird to her…that a complete stranger would suddenly take interest in her, let alone hug her. She wrapped her arms around herself, staring up to where he had flew off, then turned and quietly took her leave. “It’s nothing…He wouldn’t care…” She murmured the last part to herself as another tear slipped down her cheek. There was a fluttering of wings as a large black bird swooped low across the city. It flew into the park alighting in a tree. A strange melody could be heard for a mere second and then the bird took off again. It swooped low through the streets it's head turning this way and that. It's eyelids were shut tightly and it almost hit a few things. It came to a short street about a block from the park. It turned down the street. swiftly flying from one mail box to another. when it got about halfway down it stopped and circled the house. After a few moments it settled on a window sill and banged on the glass attempting to wake the figure inside. Rena sat half asleep in her room, sitting on her bed while leaning against a wall. She held a knife gently in her hands, drawing her fingers lightly over the sharp end of the blade, staring at it her eyes half open. The world seemed mute to her as her only concern was the blade in her hands and the conflicting thoughts that raged within her mind. One of the thoughts being of the stranger she had met earlier. She frowned a little and continued playing with the blade. The bird seemed to slowly notice that the figure was moving and banged on the glass of the window a little bit harder. She glanced up at the window, looking rather irritated. She set her tool down on the bed and stood up, walking quietly to the glass. She pushed one side open and took a seat back down on the bed, watching the large black bird in an annoyed way. The bird tapped the window once more. There was a scrap of paper in it's talon and it looked at it almost as if reading the writing that was on it. She arched an eyebrow at it, but began to fall back into her former mood. She crawled back across the bed, taking a seat and picking the knife up again. This time as she brought her fingers over it, traces of blood were felt dripping down the shiny blade. The bird got a frightened look in it's eyes. It pounded on the glass with it's beak and head so loudly that it could be heard across the street. A light turned on in one of the house's other rooms... Hearing footsteps down the hallway she quickly slipped the blade under her mattress and laid back down, concealing her bleeding hand beneath a pillow. She set her head down and closed her eyes, slowing her breathing to make it appear that she had been asleep. The bird jumped away from the window and fluttered to the roof. Foot steps came down the hall and one of Rena's parents looked in. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary the light was quickly turned off, and everyone else was back asleep in minutes. The bird alighted on the windowsill again. Once she was sure her parents had gone back to bed, she sat up and glared at the bird. She stood up again; her arm now covered with blood, and opened the other side of the window. “There.” She said angrily, taking a seat and sucking on one of her bleeding fingers. The bird hopped in through the open window. It alighted on the floor for a moment, then the bed. It then hopped onto Rena's shoulder before jumping to the ground, as a human boy, the stranger from the park. She frowned again, saying nothing for a moment as she eyed him wearily. She finally opened her mouth to speak. “You know you could have gotten me in a lot of trouble.” She muttered, glaring angrily at him. "You would of had yourself in worse." he said. He calmly ripped off part of his shirt. Without asking he wrapped it around her hand stopping the bleeding. "Please don't do that again," he said, his voice was seemingly void of emotion. She stared at him, her eyes scanning his expression of every detail. “And why not?” She asked, fingering the makeshift bandage as it was soon soaked in blood. He looked at her closely and said, "Because I need your help." She arched an eyebrow at him again. “What can I do?” She asked, looking down at the bandage and pulling at it a little. "I need a secluded place to hide. One thing I didn't tell you is that, although I can transform on a whim, sometimes I can't control it." His eyes bored into her, desperate for an answer. She paused, thinking deeply about it as she stared into the bandage. “Well…I suppose I could find a place…” She murmured, bringing her hand to her chin and closing her eyes. He nodded slowly.

“My parents are looking for me. My face will be all over the news.”

She fell back on her bed, becoming rather dizzy. “Meh, fine. I’ll help you find a place to hide.” She said quietly, her hearing fading a little. God, it was so annoying to faint at the sight of blood. She sighed, placing her other hand over her eyes to try to bring her sight back. "Thank you," he said. He bowed. Then he quickly became a raven again and flew off. She removed her hand and watched him leave. “Great…” She murmured, sitting up again. “I guess I’ll have to wait a while.” She frowned, retrieving the knife from her mattress. She wiped the blood away and stashed it in her secret hiding place before lying back down to think up an excuse for the cut. The raven sat in a tree a little ways from Rena's house. It watched the house day and night waiting for a signal of some kind. Not many people noticed the bird in the evening, but during the day they commented on how strange it was that the bird was snow white. Rena finally emerged from her house some time later, holding a sketch pad in her hand that was now properly bandaged. She sighed and looked around; searching for the raven she had hoped would be nearby. There was a low squawk and the bird settled onto Rena's shoulder. It shuffled it's feet impatiently.

“I know, I know. You see, you got me grounded.” She said, folding her arms. “But I’ve finally been punished enough to leave the house.” She began walking down the street, slowly so that he could still perch upon her shoulder.

The raven cocked it's head at her. There was a look in it's eye and it seemed to shrug.

“But, as to other things…” She said, tilting her head back a little. “The only place I can think for you to stay at is…my house.” She said the last part reluctantly, turning her face away from him, which in turn made her long hair lightly brush against him.

The raven jumped off of her shoulder becoming human. "Are you sure you want to do that? And what about your parents?"

“I’ll make something up.” She said casually. “I don’t really want to do it…but it’s the only thing I can’t think of that won’t make them overly suspicious.” She sighed and opened the sketch book, retrieving a pencil from her pocket and doodling randomly.

"So, when are you going to do it then?" He attempted to keep the impatience out of his voice.

“Mm, this afternoon.” She said, not looking up from the paper as her pencil moved vigorously across it.

He looked over her shoulder curiously, "That soon hm?"

“You sound rather impatient. Wouldn’t want to keep you waiting.” She shut the book and slipped the pencil back into her pocket. “I’m hungry.” She stated randomly and began walking swiftly down the street.

A second later the raven was back on her shoulder. It sat there calmly as if without a care, although there was a look in it's eyes that said differently. She glanced out of the corner of her eye at it, studying it carefully as she continued moving. After a few streets she stopped, looking around in an attempt to find herself again, then headed out in a different direction. The raven shifted around on her shoulder. It spread it's wings and flew off soaring above the trees. It stayed within sight of Rena, but attempted not to seem as if it was following her. She occasionally looked over her shoulder upon hearing the fluttering of wings. Although she knew full well that she was being followed, it still gave her a paranoid feeling. A feeling she rather disliked. She took a few random turns and broke into a sprint, her feet barely touching the ground as she swiftly cleared the next three blocks. The raven landed on a fence a few feet in front of her, quickly shifting back to human he said, "Is there a reason you're running." He lost his balance and feel into the yard behind him. She skid into a stop and turned to face him. “Not really.” She said, coming up to the fence and leaning over it to stare at him. “But you don’t really have to follow me either.” She added, resting her head on her arms. He pulled himself up and leaned on the fence, rubbing his back. "Where d-" he started to say, but stuttered as he came to look at her. She arched an eyebrow and shrugged as she backed away. “I donno…” She said, staring up at the sky that was beginning to show signs of rain. She frowned and reached into her trench to place her hands on her hips. “Well, I guess I’ll just ask now.” As it was, she had completely forgotten why she had gone out in the first place, so there was really no point in delaying any further. The boy nodded and quickly turning into a raven flew off towards her house. He landed on the windowsill of her room pulled the window open and jumped into the room. It landed on top of the television set and hunkered down among the other stuffed animals that lay there. She came running up the street soon after and quietly entered the house. “Mom…” She called, walking up the stairs and placing her sketch pad on the kitchen table. “I got to talk to you about something…” She wandered down the hall to her mother’s room, where she would find her lying on her bed, watching game shows. It was about an hour later when she finally came back up to her room, closing the door behind her and leaning against it. She sighed as she glanced up at the raven nestled among her favorite stuffed animals and smirked. The raven silently hopped from within the stuffed animals. Landing on her shoulder it cocked it's head again silently asking, so...?

“It took awhile, but she finally caved. You’ll be staying in the spare room.” She said, leaning her head back. “She does want to know how long you’ll be here though…”

He transformed into a human quickly "Well, I'm not sure. It could be a week, or a month... I just need to stay until I find a permanent place to go. "How'd you get her to say yes anyway?" She grinned devilishly. “I have my ways…” She said slyly, coming from the door and lying down on her bed. She yawned sleepily and let her head hit the pillow, staring boredly at him with strange curiosity. "Like what?" he asked, "Oh, am I supposed to be here right now, or does your mom think I'm somewhere else, like a house maybe." She shrugged. “She probably thinks you’re at your house…but as long as we’re quiet she shouldn’t bother us.” She said, averting her gaze to the wall in front of her bed. "So why am I 'visiting'? I need to know so that when I arrive your mom doesn't get suspicious."

“Just to make sure that it’s alright for you to stay here.” She answered casually, moving across the mattress to where her books were stored. She reached for one of her favorites and flipped it open, searching for her favorite part.

"You're sure?" "You betcha."

"When do you want me to arrive?"

“Um, in a few minutes. I’ll be helping my mom clean up pretty soon.” She flipped the final page and her face lit up upon seeing her favorite paragraph. She sighed dreamily as she began reading.

He nodded. "I'll come in half an hour" He slowly turned, almost hoping she'd tell him to stay, then became a bird and flew out the window.

She glanced up from her book, watching him fly out the window. She frowned, slipping a bookmark into place as she sat up. “…” She cast the book aside and stared at her door, wondering when she would go down to help her mother, who was working tirelessly to get the house clean for the new coming ‘guest’. Half an hour later the boy came strolling down the road. Although his pockets were empty he was dressed in clean new clothes. He walked cautiously up to Rena's door and rang the doorbell, then stepped back and listened until he heard footsteps coming to open the door. A moment later the door opened, the figure on the other side ushering him in. There was another figure sitting at the top of the stairs who watched him enter with a weak interest, her head resting in her hands as she waited patiently for the door to close. He took off his shoes at the door, as was his custom. Then looked around taking in the house, which seemed much bigger inside. The door was closed and the one who answered it disappeared down the stairs, leaving him and the figure on the stairs alone. She shrugged casually and stood up, turning on her heel to enter the living room. “Well, come on.” She said, in a somewhat irritable way. He nodded to himself, then followed her into the living room. It was Rena of course. “Thanks for helping me out, " he said as he entered the living room. Rena shrugged casually, plopping down onto one of the wine colored armchairs in a royal way, crossing one leg over the other and resting head on her hand again. “Mm, no problem I guess…” She said quietly, closing her eyes. He sat on the couch across from her. "It's really a big help. Especially considering The amount of time you've known me." She opened an eye and stared at him. “Yeah…well, I still have to get you back for…” She stopped as she realized her mother was probably listening. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to mention the rest. “I’ll take you to your room…” She said, standing up stiffly and walking towards the stairs again. He stood up as well, following her. Even though he was at her house, his mind was on his parents. If his face made to the news problems would arise. Nobody could mistake his face for someone else's, if one of Rena's parents saw his face on the news, he would be in major trouble, as would Rena. She quickly cleared the stairs, jumping over the railing near the top to save some time. She landed rather gracefully and continued the last few steps into the basement as she waited for him. She, in honesty, hadn’t even thought of the consequences of letting him stay, or had put any consideration into what would happen if his presence was leaked out to the media. He slowly went down the stairs, not completely paying attention. At the bottom he looked up then continued to follow her to "his" room. At the end of another hallway was a door which was somewhat boarded up due to an incident involving her sister, her dog, and a few other things. She smirked inwardly at the thought as she opened the door and flicked the light switch on. The room was clean, but somewhat dusty from not being used. It was decorated simply with dark mahogany furniture and some worldly items. "Here it is." She stood to the side to let him enter, folding her arms in front of her impatiently. He nodded. "Thanks" He looked around carefully. "I'm sorry I put this on you so suddenly, "Actually I'm sorry I had to put it on you at all," “I’m used to it.” She said, turning to leave. She played boredly with her ponytail as she thought about taking a shower, which in her mind, she needed badly.

As she left he nodded slowly to himself murmuring, "But you shouldn't be used to it,"

As the weeks passed he slowly settled in, not exactly part of the family, but a long term guest. He did his best to be polite, seemed to go to school, and just generally lived life. He was careful about checking the news and had thrown out a few missing child flyers from the mail. He often could be found writing in a notebook, poems and such, many of them with romantic themes. Although he liked to show them to people, he didn't make his entire book public.

One Saturday in particular he sat in the basement writing well into the afternoon. He sat on the bed trying to think of what to write... Rena knocked on the door to his room, as she was extremely bored and didn’t feel like doing anything stupid at the moment. She opened it a crack and looked inside, peering timidly at him as she waited for admittance. After a moment he looked up, "Go ahead, " he said, "I can't think of anything to write anyway," She opened the door more and slipped into the room, coming quietly to his bed and sitting down beside him. “Again?” She asked, looking over the first few lines. “Want some help?” As it had been a while since he had ‘moved in’, she had become rather comfortable with him there. Almost so that she would consider him a friend. He shrugged. "I'll figure it out, eventually."

He started to read it. "Do not be afraid in the darkness. When you fear, think of me. When you stumble..." he trailed off. She thought about it for a moment, but came up with nothing. She shrugged and lay down, still trying to think of a good line. “Ya got me there…” He laughed, "I do that to myself all the time. My only real good ones come at night." He lay down next to her, glancing at the door to make sure that it was still open. She closed her eyes for a moment, cuddling her head into the mattress. “Why at night?” She asked, still letting her mind wander. "I'm not completely sure. That's just when it usually happens." He shrugged once more, putting his hands on his chest.

“Mmm…” Was all she responded with, cracking an eye open to look at him. She yawned sleepily, becoming rather comfortable in the bed.

He shifted around and slowly put his arm around her. He settled in slowly, feeling her warm body press against his. She blushed, but stayed still as she also enjoyed the warmth. She closed her eyes and cuddled into him, hoping her parents wouldn't happen to walk in on them. After a minute of this he felt a slight burning sensation at his shoulder blades. He moved, sitting up slowly, trying not to shift Rena too much. At the slight movement she opened her eyes and glanced up at him, tilting her head to the side innocently. “What’s wrong?” She asked, watching him curiously. "It's nothing," he said quickly. Probably too quickly. She arched and eyebrow and sat up. “It doesn’t seem like nothing…” She said, becoming concerned. “Can I see?” She asked, though she was a little uncomfortable about asking. She was just worried and needed to make sure he was okay. He sighed, "My shoulders hurt a little bit. It's nothing to worry about," but he didn't look like he was convinced himself.

She frowned and let out a sigh. “…Fine.” She said quietly, slipping her legs off the bed and turning away from him. “I guess I’ll go upstairs then…” She hung her head a little and swung her feet around boredly.

He nodded. Just as he was going to say something to her, he let out a small gasp of pain, falling over and almost hitting the corner of the bed. She quickly turned around, proving herself right. “Knew it.” She said, gently pulling him up so she could reposition him better. “Now will you let me see?” He winced in pain and nodded. Then another wave of pain overtook him and he started to collapse again. She caught him this time, letting his head rest on her shoulder. She carefully tugged at his shirt collar to get a better look at his shoulders. He waited a second and then asked, "See anything?" She rubbed it gently, seeing the pain it caused. “Sorry, just checking.” She slipped her hand back out, wondering exactly what was wrong. He sat there a moment, still in pain, but not sure what to do. Every once in a while he would bite his lip once more in pain. He felt his back. "There's two lumps below and towards the center of my back from my shoulder blades." “Yeah…sorta like…” She paused for a moment and closed her eyes. Great. She knew what was coming next. “I’ll get something for it, stay here.” She said, lying him down comfortably on his bed as she got up to retrieve her special ‘something’. "O-okay," he stuttered. He was sure she knew something, but he had come to trust her. If she wasn't going to tell him, he wasn't going to ask.

After being gone for a few minutes she returned with an oddly shaped bottle full of a silvery liquid. “This is going to sting, but it’ll take the pain away.” She said, sitting down on the bed in front of him. “You might want to take your shirt off…” He slowly took his shirt off, a little cautious. He trusted her, but if her parents came down they could be in trouble. She was well aware of what her parent’s reaction to this would be, and it made her hesitant to do so. She poured a small amount of the liquid onto her hand and quickly rubbed it onto his back where the bumps were. After making sure all of it was rubbed in correctly, she corked the bottle and stepped back, waiting for the reaction. Like she had said, the liquid stung a little where it had been applied. After a moment, however, he felt no pain at all and was perfectly fine. "Thanks," he said, "It feels better now," She smiled and nodded. ‘Strange…he should have been screaming in pain…’ She thought while keeping up her reassuring smile. “Alright then, I’ll go put this away then. I’ll have to get more later…” She mumbled to herself as she turned to return the bottle, all the while concealing the large wound on her arm that had ‘mysteriously’ appeared after applying the medicine. What she did for that liquid… Just before she went out the door, he fell off the bed with a yelp. He writhed on the ground a moment, silent screams coming from his mouth. She spun back around, watching it take full effect. “There we go.” She murmured to herself, watching him with pity. The hand she had used to apply the liquid with was now greatly bruised and was beginning to burn and make her bleed. She cringed at the sudden pain, but paid no mind to her wound or the blood that was dripping to the floor. Her blood that was awfully familiar to that silver liquid. He continued to squirm in pain. Not noticing anything around him. The lumps on his back grew and stretched becoming large black wings. He finally let out a scream and went limp. His eyes flickered around the room quickly, but the rest of him could not move. She sighed once he was quiet and set the bottle on the dresser. “I told you it would sting…” She said, hoisting him up and laying him on his bed again, careful not to harm his newly developed wings. “You’ll be fine, just rest for a bit.” She added, gently stroking his hair. His eyes darted around fearfully. Then slowly softened, and closed. She smiled at this and got up to return the bottle and bandage her hand. As she was going upstairs her mother confronted her about the scream, but upon seeing the bottle she dropped the subject and retreated back to her room, leaving Rena to finish what she started. After a little while he slowly went upstairs, which he rarely did. He went to Rena's room and slowly peeked in. She was listening to her i-pod, with her back to him, and dancing slightly. He quietly walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder. She blinked and glanced over her shoulder at him, turning the volume down so she could hear him. “Hey, you can walk.” She said, rather surprised. He smiled. "I recover quickly," he looked her straight in the eye, hoping he wouldn't have to ask for an explanation She smiled as well, turning around to face him. “So I suppose you want to know what that stuff was?” She asked, tilting her head to the side cutely. He nodded, "That would be helpful." She shrugged, lifting her arm and tugging the sleeve so that it revealed the wound that was beginning to seal itself. The silvery liquid trickled down her arm from the wound, leaving a long burning mark as it slinked down her skin to the fabric of her shirt. “It’s a bit of a long story…” She said, almost sadly as she stared at the gash. He raised an eyebrow and sat down. "I'm listening,"

“Well…” She sighed, wondering where to begin. “I don’t suppose you’ve noticed that I’m somewhat different than my parents…” Her tail hit the bed behind her, making itself known. “There’s a reason. They’re not.”

"Really?" he immediately stood up again. His mouth open.

“My birth parents died quiet a long time ago.” She said, closing her eyes as she recalled the event. “As did the rest of my family.” She fell back onto her bed and opened her eyes again, staring at the ceiling. “I suppose it’s sad, but I’m to blame.” 

"Are you sure?" He sat next to her. Slowly putting his arm around her. She sat stiffly, wishing he hadn’t done that. “Yes…because…” She was silent again as tears welled up in her eyes. “I…” She choked on the last words, unable to go on as the tears slipped down her cheeks. He hugged her tightly. "Shh...It's okay. Calm down now." He pressed her against himself. She sniffled and wiped away a few tears, burying her face into his warm chest. Slowly her sobs quieted down and her body stopped trembling. He helped her up. "I don't need to hear the rest, just know that I'm here if you need me." He started out the door heading for the basement. She nodded, some what wishing he would stay. She hugged her knees close to her chest as she watched him leave, wiping the few remaining tears away. He turned around and smiling blew her a kiss. Then he walked downstairs, wondering if he should have stayed. A deep blush painted her cheeks and she laid back onto her bed, staring up at the ceiling. Did he just? Her blush deepened as she thought about it more, pushing the thoughts of her family aside. The next few weeks were interesting. Looks were made, friendships were broken, but he made it through it. He would often come back to Rena's house and just sit and talk with her. Their relationship was strong, but they didn't seem to understand the depth of it. Rena enjoyed these visits, looking forward to them whenever they so occurred. She was in ignorant bliss though the dark burden still weighed on her heart. The dark bloody dreams still woke her in the night, still urging her to bring her pain to an end, though for his sake, she tried her best to ignore it. One such day he finally decided to leave the house with her, going back to the park. They sat under the same tree, sheltered from the wind. She sighed contently, leaning back against the trunk as she stared across the playground. Once again, it was deserted. Not a soul in sight. She liked it better that way. He put his arm around her, just like he had attempted to get himself to do so many times. He still had wings, but they didn't bother him anymore. She smiled and leaned in towards him, resting her head comfortably on his shoulder. She had also grown accustom to his wings and enjoyed playing with them when he’d let her. She loved how soft and delicate they were. He smiled at her, but in the back of his head he was drumming up the courage to tell her something. He shook his head thinking, "No, I can't do that, " She tilted her head to the side, her smile faltering for a moment. “Something wrong?” She asked. He nodded. "I have to say this, I-I love you," He turned his head away slightly. She blinked a few times, a deep blush painting her cheeks as she began to realize the depth of his words. She smiled warmly at him. “I…I love you too.” She whispered, slowly wrapping her arms around him. He pulled her a little closer his expression one of relief and contentment. She nuzzled into his cheek affectionately, content in enjoying the warmth between them. The days now were spent with them fleetingly alone. They had their troubles, but really did love each other. The boy now went by Chris, but whether that was his real name or not he wouldn't tell. The days seemed to be brighter for the girl, dubbed Rena, who was with someone she truly cared about. Her thoughts would drift back now and then to her past life, but would immediately clear to other things. All seemed to be going smoothly, but neither expected the tragedy that would befall on them in later days. He came back to the house one day and went directly to Rena's room. He knocked quietly on her door. There was no response, but the door creaked open slightly. Odd, as Rena was so paranoid and always kept her door closed. He knocked again. Easing the door open as he did. The room was a complete mess. Furniture was knocked over, holes were found punched into the wall, papers were scattered everywhere. It was nothing like it usually was, and another thing. Where the hell was Rena? Chris quickly moved down the stairs to her parent's room. He stopped, made himself seem calm, and knocked on the door. Rena’s ‘mother’ answered the door, her eyes dulled over with sorrow. “Oh, Chris…” She said quietly. “I take it Rena isn’t here.” She frowned at the thought of her and what had happened last night. "No, " he said. "Do you know where she is?"

Her mother rubbed her forehead, obviously stressed. “No, I never know where she goes when she gets like this…” She replied, her voice a little shaky. “I haven’t seen her lose control like that since a long time ago…” She added, becoming lost in her thoughts.

He nodded quickly. "Thank you, " he said, his voice wavering slightly. He left her house, taking note of the red van that had been following him. "That's right," he muttered, "I still have to tell her about that, " He started walking along the road, then stopped a minute, he closed his eyes, humming. Then started moving again. The red van followed him and he darted behind a tree. A second later the white raven flew from behind it, heading across town. The raven, actually Chris, started flying across town. Occasionally he would stop and hum to find where he was going, but that was it. He quickly made his way to a section of town that reeked of blood, tears, and grief. A shadowed figure sat sullenly in the center of the clearing. It was far from human, almost like a wolf, but had a strange structure. Stunning white fur that was tainted by fresh blood, strange black markings that adorned it’s face and body, long needle like fangs that dripped that crimson liquid, and two hovering objects behind it that almost resembled wings. It sat in a huddled mass, disrupt and upset in its attempts to hide itself from the world. It’s long ears twitched at the sound of fluttering wings, and it looked up slightly. Chris quickly became human once more and stepped forward slightly to confront this thing, hoping it was, or would lead him to Rena. It glanced behind itself, eyes widening slightly as he came into view. It growled low, jumping to its feet almost as if preparing to lunge at him. This attempt was cut short as it shrieked in pain, clutching its head in an attempt to set it straight. As it struggled with its thoughts it turned, falling onto all fours and dashing off into the forest at an ungodly speed. Chris morphed himself once more into the form of a raven and set off in pursuit. He would not lose this chance. He was set on it. The creature focused on navigating its way through the forest, dodging trees while speeding across the vast territory. The mind of the girl inside was still trying to regain control, and seeing Chris encouraged her to keep trying. It reached the edge of the forest and collapsed, breathing heavily as it clawed at the ground in pain as a battle for control raged inside. Chris had trouble keeping up. Even though he didn't have to dodge the trees, this creature could run fast. he kept flying, keeping track of the creature from it's emotions and flew on. After a minute of recuperating it slowly climbed back to its feet. Staring down at the ground in front of it, it seemed to be losing itself in thought. It didn’t move at all, it hardly breathed. It was just frozen where it was, it’s eyes misty and glazed over in thought. Chris realized that the creature had stopped moving. He turned in mid-air dove into the forest and came to rest, human, in front of the creature. It stood dormant for a moment longer, then brought its eyes up to glare at him. Its ears pinned back and it bared its fangs threateningly, poising itself to attack. Chris stood in front of it keeping close eye contact. He did not waver in his determination. His confidence irked it, and it immediately lunged forward, tackling him to the ground. Surprisingly it didn’t claw out his throat at that moment, but instead, just kept itself poised above him, staring darkly into his eyes. He quickly used that second's pause to roll over, effectively turning the tables. He held it firmly, but not in a way that would hurt it. It blinked at the sudden change in place and squirmed under him, thrashing its limbs about aggressively. He held firmly, not ready to let go. He quickly scooped it into his arms, ignoring how it's claws ripped his shirt, scratching his chest and face. After a minute it tired itself out and let itself fall limp into his arms. Its chest rose and fell in quickened motions as it glared up at Chris, unable to move. He held it tightly, sure now that it was calming. And after another minute of that it spoke. “And how long do you expect to keep this up?” It asked, its voice strangely familiar and aggravated. He looked down. "Oh, sorry," he said, and set Rena gently on the ground. She frowned, backing away slightly and turning her back to him. There was a long awkward silence before she spoke again. “What brings you out here?” She asked, keeping a bit of a distance from him. Chris began to laugh, but then remembered that he had more important things to concentrate on. "I'm being followed he said bluntly." She tilted her head to the side. “Some guys in white?” She asked casually, wiping some blood away from her mouth. "Yep," He noticed his torn shirt and attempted to cover it up. “They can’t really follow you anymore.” She spat out some more blood that had pooled in her mouth. Damn, human blood tasted…blech. She stood up on her hind legs, stretching in her anthro body. It had been awhile since she lost control, and though she hated the consequences, it did feel good to have some release. He shrugged. "They can't right now, but they've been watching your house. And they've seen me go in and out, even though I tried to wait...." “-No,” She interrupted, turning slightly to look at him. “I’ve already taken care of it.” She turned back around and began walking away, attempting to escape before he managed to pin her down again. "How and When?" he pulled away slightly. “Mmm…a little before you came.” She said, folding her arms behind her head, “As for how…why do you think I’m covered in blood?” He sighed, "Then it's not taken care of. I got to your house this afternoon, saw your room, asked your mom where you were and started tracking you. They were following me until I took off." She shrugged casually. “Well then I guess I’ll have to figure out another way.” She said casually, running her tongue over her fangs. “In the mean time, I can’t go back home until I turn back.” She added, slipping into the forest and hopping onto a large tree branch. He nodded. "Do you want me to stay here with you?" She blinked a few times, pondering his question. “If you want…but I can’t guarantee your safety if I lose control again…” She muttered quietly, her tail flicking about behind her. He shrugged, "I'll be alright. I can fly remember." He formed his hands into a bird shape and flapped the bird's wings. She chuckled and shook her head. “If you say so…” She murmured before climbing higher into the tree and bounding from it to another, barely catching onto a branch and skillfully pulling herself up. He followed quickly. He had climbed trees when he was younger and it was easy now. His height helped a bit as well. She continued bounding from tree to tree, freefalling on the occasion for the fun of it before continuing to her goal. Although Chris was fairly fit. He still had trouble keeping up with Rena and from time to time would become a raven (white) in order to follow her. She finally came to a stop at a rather large tree that was riddled with claw marks and reeked of blood. She took a deep breath and relaxed, lying down on a rather large limb while letting her arm dangle off of it. Chris came to land a little above her, and was soon enough human again. She yawned lazily and smiled, happy to be in a familiar place. She nuzzled into her other arm and closed her eyes, attempting to take a nap before she turned back to normal. Or, at least what most people considered ‘normal’. Chris moved down a branch getting closer, until he was a branch away. Resting and waiting. Her ear twitched at his movement and she opened an eye to observe him. “Something wrong?” She asked, tilting her head to the side. "Nothing, I'm just a little tired. It's been a stressful day, y'know?" She nodded and yawned again, her fangs glistening in the light. “You bet…” She mumbled, closing her eyes again and relaxing. Chris leaned against the tree...and fell asleep. Sleep soon took her over as well as she curled into herself as much as she could for warmth. Chris slowly woke a few hours later. Forgetting where he was, he groggily rolled over. Hitting the ground with a painful crash. Upon hearing the crash below Rena jumped in a paranoid way, slipping off her branch and plummeting to the ground with a hard crack upon impact. She writhed in pain for a moment before she attempted to get up, which she found quite difficult. Wincing as she sat up she glanced over at Chris with a worried expression. “Are you okay?” He rolled over quickly, then grimaced. "Yeah, I think so." After he looked Rena over he said, "Don't you think we should be getting back to your house?" She sighed and fell back, her head hitting the ground with a painful thud. “Probably…” She mumbled, somewhat numb from the pain. He slid himself over next to her. Sighing he said, "But we don't have to, right?" She nodded, making no attempt to get up. “If you want to we can…if not…” She yawned sleepily and closed her eyes, still groggy from her nap. Chris just lay quietly not saying anything at all. She opened her eyes again and glanced over at him. “Something wrong?” She asked. His eyes were closed, but he was awake enough to shake his head. He gently put his arm around her, hugging her tightly. A light blush spread onto her cheeks as she happily nuzzled his cheek, resting her head on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and draped her arm over his chest, holding on gently to the fabric of his shirt. After what seemed like a minute or two of this Chris looked up. "Crap!" he said out loud, "the sun is setting." Rena opened and eye and stared at him for a moment. “And?” She asked, tilting her head to the side. "We should probably head back. I love being out here, but..." he stopped. "Your parents?" She thought for a moment. “Mm, I suppose your right…” She sighed, slowly pulling herself up. She stared down at the ground for a moment, something important passing through her mind. She frowned and slipped her hands into her pockets as she started walking away, an odd gloom hanging over her as she glanced back at him. “Let’s go.” He quickly started to follow, not sure how to get back, now that he was here. As she had been through this forest so many times, she could easily navigate her way back. Taking a few twists and turns through the many winding dirt paths she finally came to a stop at a large cliff. Standing at the very edge she stared down it, her eyes clouding over in thought. Chris silently walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. "Best not be getting any closer to that. I might have to follow suit." His voice dragged her from her thoughts and back to the cliff in front of her. She glanced over her shoulder at him and tilted her head to the side innocently. “What do you mean?” She asked, leaning back slightly. "You were drifting off, I couldn't be sure what you were thinking about. And up here...." he gestured towards the cliff. She followed his gesture and gazed down the cliff again. “Oh.” She stated simply. “I didn’t really notice I was this tired…I guess I should have slept longer, I’ve fallen down this one too many times…” She rubbed her eyes in an attempt to wake herself up more. “But we do have to climb down it.” She added. He looked at her carefully to see if she was joking. She glanced up at him, wondering what he was looking at. “I’ll help you find a trail if you want...” She suggested, brushing some hair out of her face. He laughed, "You're not kidding huh?" The look on her face told him otherwise. "If I fell down this, I wouldn't get hurt? Not badly anyway?" “If you fell down this…” She thought about it for a moment. “You’d be dead on contact.” She glanced down it again, eyeing the rocks and other various terrain at the bottom. "But," he swallowed, "You said that you fell down it before and..." “I was in the hospital for 6 months.” She replied, shuddering at the thought. He grimaced. "K. That's interesting..." He looked at the cliff face one more time, spread his wings and ran off the edge. She stood quietly, watching him run off the edge. Her eyes were beginning to cloud over in thought once again, once again failing to notice just how close to the edge she was.

Chris flapped his wings, slowly first, and then faster. He started rising and yelled in triumph, not paying attention to anything. His wings stopped flapping and he started to sink, until he realized and pulled himself higher again.

She absentmindedly started walking forward, which was rather impossible as she was already at the very edge. So of course she fell. Still in her daze like state she hardly noticed herself plummeting head first towards the rocks below. Chris suddenly caught sight of something falling. realizing that it was Rena he immediately dove for her. pulling his arms and legs in helped to increase his speed as well and he reached her in no time, to see the ground close by. She blinked, pulling herself out of the dream like state to stare at the ground she was falling towards. She let out a tiny squeak and covered her head with her arms, preparing for the impact as memories of the first flooded back to her. Chris looked around as time seemed to slow down. He could see each speck of dust in the air, each blade of grass on the ground, each rock on the cl- The cliff! He flipped himself over in the air and dug his feet into the side of the cliff. His momentum carried him down, but he slowed slightly. After a second he pushed himself from the side and flapped his wings hard. He lifted into the air and flew a few feet before coming to rest on the ground. He let go of Rena and then fell to the dirt at her feet. Rena’s body trembled as she began to actually feel the ground beneath her. She fell back and sat down, holding her head and pulling into herself as much as she could. Frightened tears cascaded down her cheeks which were now a ghostly shade of white along with, as it seemed, the rest of her body. It took her a moment to open her eyes, staring at Chris who had collapsed in front of her. In a shaky voice she managed to whisper, “Chris? Are you okay…?” There was a slight moan and he whispered, "Barely" Rubbing the tears away, she laid down beside him and cuddled close to him. “I’m sorry…” She whispered, kissing his forehead gently. "No," he said, "It's mainly..." His cheeks turned red as he realized that she had just kissed him. She was quiet for a moment, waiting for him to go on as she rested her head on the ground next to him, a blush of her own returning some color to her face. "I...It was my fault. I really shouldn’t have tried that today." He groaned. "Now I hurt." She frowned. “It really wasn’t your fault; it’s my fault for falling…” She pulled away from him a bit, a deep feeling of guilt taking over. “She always said it was my fault anyways…” She whispered to herself. Chris heard her mumbling, "What?" She scooted away some more, there being about a foot of distance between them. “Nothing…” He stood up quickly and stood next to her. "You sure?" She frowned again and looked away. “It’s nothing.” She said sternly. She hoped she wouldn’t have to tell Chris about who she was talking about, he just wouldn’t understand. He gave her a hug. "You're sure??" She couldn’t answer. She sat quietly in his arms, her eyes downcast, staring at whatever was down there. Anything to avoid telling him; anything to keep her from breaking down again. He looked down at her and sighed. "I don't want to pry into your life, but I hope that someday you'll tell me." He hugged her close again before letting go. After a minute she nodded, wrapping her arms around herself to make up for the warmth she had just lost. She steadied herself on her feet and silently began leading the way back home. Chris pulled himself together-emotionally as well as physically-and followed after her. He stayed wrapped in his thoughts, off on an adventure in the swirling shifting realm of thought. The silence between them began to irk her, as she became paranoid in the shadows of the forest. She was becoming a little bit skittish, and quickened her pace. Chris could sense her skittishness and quickened his pace as well. As he was about to lose her he flapped his wings hard and flew through the air to land gently in front of her. "Are you sure you don't want to talk about it?" he asked calmly. Startled by his sudden appearance she yelped and fell backwards, landing on the ground with a thud. She rubbed her head to relieve some of the stress building inside her and nodded. “I’ll be fine; I just want to get out of this part of the forest.” She stated, climbing to her feet once her heart beat returned to normal. He thought about this for a moment and said, "I can carry you out if you'd like." She chuckled softly and looked up at him. “I’ve already put enough strain on you, I don’t think you could handle it again.” She murmured as she slipped past him and continued walking. He walked behind her silently before finally putting his arm around her. She took a deep breath to calm herself down, happy to have him close to her again. It was cold, and she had no coat or…for that matter, much else. Her jeans had been ripped up a great deal near the knees and the only other thing she had on was her tank top. She placed her hand over his, rubbing it gently with her thumb as a small smile crossed her features. As they came up on Rena's street Chris moved his arm back down to his side. "So, are you sure you're alright now?" he asked quietly. She nodded, her eyes downcast to the cement as she wrapped her arms around herself again. “I hope my mom isn’t too upset…” She mumbled, a wave of guilt washing over her as she thought about the way she had stormed out. "She probably won't be. She seemed okay when I left, but I can't be completely sure." His face told more of his suspicions than he said himself. She sighed before nodding again. “Thank you.” She said, a sad smile spreading onto her lips as she hugged him tightly to say good bye. He hugged her as well waiting until she stopped hugging him to release. Then he followed her to the doorway. As. he did so headlights came around the corner. The light caught her eye as she pulled a house key from her pocket. She stood waiting for it to pass as she unlocked the door, her paranoia not letting her go any further. Unfortunately the light did not go away, it got brighter until it was pointing right at them. A car door slammed and someone could be seen coming up the walk. Chris glanced at the road and muttered, "Red van. Not good." Rena’s eyes narrowed as she glared dangerously at the approaching figure. She slipped the key back into her pocket and held her arm stiffly at her side as she placed the other on her hip. As the man came up to them Chris put his arm on Rena's shoulder and gruffly asked, "What do you want?" Chris saw a lump in the man's coat that looked roughly familiar and altogether dangerous. He took no time in grabbing Rena, flapping his wings and flying away. This time however, the man was prepared for his quick exit and hopped back in his van following them closely as Chris pulled to get altitude. Rena frowned at the red van following them below. “Why are we running?” She asked, glancing up at Chris with a questioning look as she wrapped her arms around him. Chris was silent for a second before admitting, "He...had a gun." She arched an eyebrow before looking back down at the van. “So?” She asked, “I’ve been shot a few times, it doesn’t hurt that bad…” Chris just shook his head before saying, "Well I haven't, and would rather not experience it now." She frowned again. “Then let me down and I’ll deal with him.” She argued, becoming aggravated. "But-" Chris started, but before he could continue something whizzed past his ear. Glancing down he saw men in vans shooting at them. As the bullets whizzed past them Rena gently pulled herself away from Chriss grasp and fell freely from the sky to the street below. As she did, her hands began to transform into long steely claws, poised and ready to kill. Chris dived down to grab Rena, but suddenly was hit. He looked at the area that was in pain and realized that there wasn't a bullet wound. Instead there was a strange looking dart poking from his skin. TRANQUILIZERS! He suddenly realized, and the world started to go black as he sank from the sky. Rena noticed something falling from the sky above her. She landed softly on the ground then looked up, immediately jumping a good 10 feet to catch Chris before the men in the van could reach him. ‘They’ll just have to wait’, she thought, gathering him in her arms and dashing off to find a safe place to hide until he awakened. As Rena ran through the streets the men quickly attempted to locate her and Chris. Chris stirred many times, but didn't wake. She finally managed to elude the men and stopped to rest in a secret hiding place she and her friends had built as a refuge. She laid him down on one of the many blankets that littered the floor and looked at the strange dart that wounded him. She carefully removed it, squeezing the container in a way that kept any more liquid from entering him. She set it on a makeshift shelf as she dressed the wound and wrapped him up in a few more blankets. She sighed as she stood up, cautiously approaching a window to see if they had been followed. There was the sound of cars passing the hiding place, but none stopped. They were safe for the moment. Chris mumbled in his sleep once or twice, but wouldn't wake. Yet. She let out the breath she had been holding and crept back to his side, sitting down and watching him contently. She listened intently to his murmurings, though she couldn’t understand them in the least. She rested her head on her palm and sighed, using the other hand to play with her hair. There was nothing else to do anyways, not until he woke up. About half an hour later, Chris started to stir once more. He opened his eyes and looked around cautiously. He touched his wrist and twinged at the slight pain from the quickly healing prick mark. Rena had fallen asleep since then, sitting up against the wall with her head resting on her knees, her arms wrapped around herself for warmth. She had tried to stay awake, but she found she couldn’t keep her eyes open after the first 15 minutes. She mumbled something incoherent, but stayed still and sleeping in the rather uncomfortable position. Chris slowly got up and walked around, trying to shake off the faintness from being knocked unconscious. After a minute of looking at the fairly dismal surroundings, he poked Rena. She didn't move. He stood there for a moment, then poked her again. After the second poke she jerked awake, hitting her head on the wall behind her in the process. “Ouchie...” She rubbed the back of her head before glancing up at who had poked her and, upon realizing who it was, tackled him to the ground. “Chris! You’re okay!” She exclaimed, beaming to see him awake again as she nuzzled his cheek affectionately. "...Yeah...," he said groggily, " I'm fine." He stood up slowly, trying to clear the blurriness in front of his eyes. "Wow...where are we?" She smiled and took a few steps back. “This is my secret hiding place. We’re safe here.” She said, glancing around the rundown shelter. "Oh," He said softly. "You set all this stuff up?" “Well, my friends and I did.” She leaned up against the wall and sighed as she thought back. "Your friends? Really?," Chris walked up next to her, "And which friends would these be?" “You haven’t met them…” She tilted her head back and looked away. “I haven’t seen them in quite some time.” "Ah. Sometimes you just seemed to be avoiding the subject." He looked away quickly, embarrassed at having been so forward. “It makes me seem like I don’t have any friends, doesn’t it?” She asked softly. He was silent for a moment. "...sometimes." "Although to me it just seems like you're a little closed in about your personal life. But then, I guess sharing your personal troubles with someone you found on the street probably isn't something you'd really want to do." She chuckled. “You just realized this and you’ve been hanging around me for how long?” "Well...I probably realized, but I guess I never really thought about it much." “I see.” She said, taking a seat against the wall. “Well, you shouldn’t think about it too much. If you think about my personal life too much your brain will explode.” He sat still for a second. She grinned at him. “I’m kidding. I’m not that hard to figure out.” She said, wondering why he got so quiet. "BOOM" She fell over and blinked. "Just kidding" He walked over and helped her up. She simply shook her head as she shakily stood up again. “You’re so…” She paused to think of the appropriate word to finish her sentence. Unfortunately she didn't get a chance to finish that sentence. There was sounds of yelling coming from outside. "Shit," Chris mumbled under his breath. Rena glared at the door, clueless as to how they found them so quickly. “This way.” She said, moving a box out of the way to reveal a secret exit in the wall. Chris took no time to question just moved quickly out of the building. She followed after him and glanced around to make sure no one had seen them yet. They emerged outside and Chris immediately changed into a raven. He flew up higher and then landed again. "They've got a huge circle of people. There isn't a way out, " he said quickly. She sighed and cursed under her breath, staying close to the wall. “It’d be easier if I just killed them all…” She muttered, her eyes narrowing at thought of ripping them all to sheds. There was wrenching sound from a little ways away. Chris had ripped off a sewer grate and was lying next to the hole, exhausted...and with the grate lying on his chest. She arched an eyebrow at him and snuck over. “What’re you doing?” She whispered. "Making an exit, " he gasped, pulling the grate back off himself. "Hop in" he heard yelling coming from the end of the alley. "Quickly would be good." She didn’t hesitate and jumped into the hole, landing with a quiet thump on the concrete below. She stepped back and waited for him to follow, folding her arms in front of her chest. Chris picked up the grate and pulled it backwards onto the hole above his head. Then turned to Rena. "Let's get out of here." She nodded and led the way through the sewers, quite familiar with the maze like structure from use. She quickened her pace and leapt over several gaps to proceed, looking back briefly to make sure he was still behind her. He began to follow and jumped over the first of the gaps. Suddenly he slipped and fell sliding right over the edge into who-knows-where. She sighed and turned around, crossing back over the gaps to see if she could help him. "Ouch!" he called up from below. There was a bang followed by some muttering until Chris finally admitted, "I'm stuck." She sighed again. “I’ll be right down…” She called before carefully slipping into the opening he fell through. Looking around Chris poked his head as far out of the opening in the sewer pipe as he could. "Over here, " he said wincing as he spoke. She slid over to him and evaluated the situation. “How far are you in?” She asked, trying to find a way to grab and pull him out without hurting him too badly. "I'm not completely sure. Maybe a few feet, but my pants are caught on something. And my leg is twisted around a bit." She frowned. “Not good…see if you can get it untwisted, I might have to find a way around to push you out...” Chris squirmed a bit trying to set his leg back in place, but suddenly gasped in pain. She flinched as he gasped. “Did you hurt yourself?” She asked gently. "A little, " he said, "But my leg is untwisted. I think." “Can you give me your hand so I can pull you out?” She asked, trying to find the best way to remove him from the pipe without dislocating his arm. "Just a sec, " he said shifting around a little. "I'll try. " She waited patiently for him to find his arm so she could pull him out. He yanked his arm up from where ever it had gone and reached out for her. "Quickly, I think I'm sliding." She quickly grabbed onto his hand, squeezing it tightly before trying to pull him out. "Uh-oh." he said as he slid a few more inches. "This could be a slight problem." She frowned and tried harder to pull him out. She was sure she was at least twice as strong as he was heavy, why wasn’t he coming up? "Um... I think this isn't going to work." he said as he went down a few more inches. She sighed. “Then what do you have in mind?” She snapped, becoming slightly aggravated at his predicament. "Well, considering that something grabbed onto my leg when you tried to pull me out..." She arched an eyebrow. “What?” "Yeah...not really sure, but I don't think it's a hand either. Too cold for that." A sharp chill slipped down her spine at the thought. “Well, what do we do now?” She asked, tightening her grip on his hand. "There's not that much we can do. You can let go, saving yourself, or you can hold on and we'll both go sailing down into oblivion." He tried to let go of her hand to no avail. A sly smirk creped onto her face. “And what’s wrong with oblivion?” She asked, sliding down a bit more into the pipe with him. He shrugged. "I don't know, but apparently you want to find out." He retightened his grip on her hand as they were pulled through the section of tube and down into the depths of the sewer. She kept a firm grip on his hand and released the portion of the pipe she was still hanging onto. The ride was long and didn't even seem to end. After about ten minutes Chris looked around and realized he had stopped moving. Rena was curious to where they were going, looking around until they were stopped. “What happened?” She asked. "I'm not sure," Chris replied, "We got pulled down for a long time and then we...weren't." “Hmm.” She frowned and looked back up the way they came. It seemed so far away. "Wow..." Chris said. Then there was a rumbling from farther down in the pipe. She glanced in that direction and started to move towards it. "Wait a minute," he said, "You're going to go toward the creepy sound in who knows what part of the sewers?" She smiled and nodded. “I have a death wish.” She said, giving him a thumbs up before continuing to move down the pipe. "Right," he mumbled, "Well, here goes nothing." With this he trotted along behind Rena. Her eyes adjusted quickly to the pitch darkness of the pipe and she began to speed up, finding nothing out of the ordinary as of yet. Chris made his way past Rena not really looking for anything. If something had pulled them here, there was a good chance that there wasn't going to be some windey maze. "It should be straight shot. And we've got to get past whatever's at the end." However, sure enough, the pipe in front of him split. "Rena!" he called back. She turned when she heard his voice echoing off the pipe walls. “What is it!” She called back as she ran to catch up with him. “Does it have four legs or six!” He smiled and said, "It's a fork." After a pause he added, "The pipe splits." She pouted once she reached him, looking between the two directions. “Hmm…do we split up? We might not be able to find each other if we do…” She said softly, before turning to look at him again. He thought about it for a minute and was about to say something when he stopped. She blinked as she waited for him to finish, glancing around as her attention span shrunk even further. "I was going to say that we could split up and I could find you, but I think you should know that there's something that way." He pointed down the right pipe. She smiled. “I call that way!” She exclaimed, pointing to the right. Her face fell slightly. “But wait, how will you find me?” She asked, tilting her head curiously. Chris smiled, "Trade secret M'lady." He bowed low. Her smile returned as he bowed. “Well, if you’re sure. But if you find anything interesting you have to come find me!” She added, before turning and heading down the right pipe. “I’ll meet up with you later!” She shouted over her shoulder while she waved and ran, trying not to trip. Chris waited a moment before starting down the pipe on the left. He hummed to himself while still listening intently for any unusual sounds down the other pipe. Rena nearly tripped twice on her way down the pipe, deciding to be foolish and run along the side wall. Her pants were soaked by the time she reached the end of the pipe, and instead of finding the huge evil creature she had hoped to find, she was met with an opening to a large room that reeked greatly of mold. She pouted before looking down, her eyes brightening as she noticed the large whirlpool that the water in the pipe poured into. Chris cursed as he hit the fifth dead end in several minutes. He was tired and frustrated. "Time to head back I suppose." he muttered to no one in particular. He hummed for a moment before starting off in a sure direction, slowly wrenching his numb legs through the cold water. The slight bits of emotion called to him from down the pipe. She climbed down the wall, instantly becoming drenched as she became submerged in the wall of water. She muttered something to herself before leaping over to the closest ledge, catching onto it and easily pulling herself up. She suddenly burst into a fit of giggles before regaining her composer and sliding along the wall towards a wider area. Chris glanced down from the pipe above looking at the large chamber and the whirlpool it contained. He shuddered slightly. He could swim, but if he needed to escape...let's just say wet feathers didn't work so well. "Where are you going?" he called down. She glanced back up at him and grinned. “No idea!” She called back before continuing to the other side. He sighed, "No chance of me talking you out of it then?" She shrugged. “I suppose you could, but I really want to see what’s down there…” He laughed, "Okay then." And with that he jumped from the edge of the pipe. About two feet before he hit the water, Chris flapped his wings and swung back up to where Rena was. She smiled and pressed herself closer to the wall so she wouldn’t fall or get him wet. "You know," he commented, seemingly quietly against the fall of water, "at this height you could just jump." She glanced down over the edge. “You want me to jump into a swirling vortex of death? Well that’s a first.” He smiled, "You're going to do it anyway...and I'm going to have to follow you. I'd really like to get this over with. It takes a long time for these to dry." She looked back up at him with a smile. “Actually I wasn’t, but if you insist.” She took a step off the ledge and fell past him and into the murky water below. He sighed and let himself fall headfirst into the water. 'Better now than later.' He insistently thought. She kept her eyes closed as the current pulled her, trying to keep herself calm so she could make the breath she took last. She couldn’t find the surface and struggling would only kill her faster. Chris used his breath to find Rena, kicking towards her. He grabbed onto her and started to lose his sight for a minute. Her eyes opened hesitantly as he grabbed onto her, trying to see his face through the sickly green water. A soft smile played on her lips as she held onto him, her foot brushing against the cement below. Upon finding the ground she kicked off and headed towards the surface. Chris coughed as his sight returned. He was a little disorientated and yelled above the sound of the water, "Could you see anything?" “There’s a large hole at the bottom that’s pulling the water down.” She called, her head slipping below the water for a moment as her strength began to give way. "Figures," he muttered. He adjusted his position and then swung Rena onto his back. "Hold on," he said, before diving under again. She tightened her grip on him and took a breath before they went under. Chris swam with the current. Pulling them down into the hole. It split, but he remained in the main pipe. As he began to run out of air, he grabbed the top of the pipe, slowing them down as they reached a pocket of air. Her mind was hazy as they traveled through the water, her grip loosening before reality took hold of her again and she tightened her grip again. The air was a welcome relief to her aching lungs. "Can't...feel my legs." Chris gasped, almost losing his hand hold. The water underneath them continued to speed along, and the wet pipe did not make an easy resting place. "Was this my stupid idea?" he coughed on some water. “In a very roundabout way I suppose.” She took a moment to wrap her legs around him tightly before extending her claws to find better purchase on the slippery metal. She cringed at the scraping sound it produced but let out a sigh of relief as it stopped and the curved tips caught onto something solid enough to keep them from being swept away. “Catch your breath, I can hold on for awhile.” He slowly gripped onto her before he eased off his loose grip on the pipe's edge. After a few minutes he said, "Now that we're here, where do you think this goes?" “Not sure. It could lead straight into a river, or it could go on for another mile and end up leading to another pool of water.” She replied, staring past him into the water rushing around them. She let a sigh slip past her lips as one of her claws tapped against the metal, the pipe filling with the slightly hallow noise. “Neither is exactly pleasant…” He looked around and hummed a moment. "Okay new plan." He tapped on the section of pipe above them, then smashed his hand against it, forcing the hinged hatch open. "Let's see what's behind door number two shall we?" She nodded and carefully removed one of her hands from the pipe to reach into the hatch. It took her a moment to get a strong hold on the edge what with the water and all, but soon enough the other followed and with a breath she pulled herself out of the water, bringing him up with her as she did. Chris let go and fell to the ground...or pipe. "Now where is this?" he said looking off into the darkness. “Out of the pipe.” Rena muttered, too occupied with trying to wring as much water out of her hair and clothing to give a good reply right away. Chris looked over the edge of the pipe. "Looks like water treatment or something. There's a lot of pipes down there. I think I see the floor though." He slowly stood up and tried to remove his shirt, but it stuck to his skin and got caught on his wings. "Uh..." he murmured quietly. She glanced up at him after a moment and held up a clawed hand. “Need some help?” She asked, slightly envious that he could remove his soaked shirt and she couldn’t. "Yeah..." he sighed. "Sometimes I think you might've gotten the better end of this..." She snorted as she climbed to her feet, turning him so she could cut the cloth away from the wings. “You’d think, ya?” She murmured, focusing on cutting cleanly so she could fix his shirt when they got back. He wrung out the material then tied it to his waist. "I'll be back." he said. Then jumped down off the pipe. With a sigh she peered over the pipe, eyes following him until the darkness swallowed him up. She sat back down, twiddling her thumbs as her tail thumbed boredly against the pipe awaiting his return. He was gone for several minutes. Then several more. There was a slight noise as he fluttered crookedly onto the pipe. "I wish these things would dry soon, I can barely move." he pulled a lock blade knife from his pocket, "This place is like an Egyptian death chamber. Several bodies over that way. One of 'em had this. It's got weird weighting, but I like it." He paused. She glanced up at him once he returned to give him her full attention, but the moment she caught sight of the knife in his hand she had become transfixed on the sheen the blade emitted. “Alright, sounds good.” She mumbled in a daze, eyes locked solely on the shiny object. Chris quickly shut the blade and returned it to his pocket. "That leaves the last piece. I think I figured out what we're under. You're not going to like it." Once the object was out of sight she returned to her senses. Her brows furrowed anxiously. “What do you mean I’m not going to like it?” She asked, slowly climbing to her feet and keeping a weary gaze aimed in his direction. "I went up one of the ladders, it looks like a lab. Which means..." his brain rapidly became incapable of putting words together. Almost instantly a pair of long wolven ears sprouted gracefully from her head and laid back, her eyes darkening considerably. “Well, you were right.” She grumbled. “I don’t like it.” She tore her eyes from him to glare into the darkness below. He sighed. "Neither do I, but it's that or that." he looked down at the pipe and shuddered. She snorted and folded her arms across her chest. “How far down?” He stopped for a moment, "Sorry...what?" Rena looked back up at him, arching an eyebrow with a look of impatience. “How far is it from here to the ground?” She clarified. "About 20 feet...why?" He moved closer to her, ruffling his wings in an effort to dry them. She smiled innocently. “Just wondering.” She turned away from him, kneeling down and staring down into the abyss below them pondering whether a fall from this height would break her neck. Then Chris jumped, "Um...Rena? With this, um..." he ruffled his wings quietly, "Was there ever anything else?" She looked up at him utterly confused. “Anything else?” She repeated, leaning back to put him at ease and seating herself fully on the pipe. “I’m not quite sure I understand.” "I can't see my hand." She jumped up at that and went closer to him, her elongated ears twitching to make sure she could pin point his location. “You what? Why not?” He lifted his arm, there seemed to be nothing at the end, "I can't see my hand." he stated again. She frowned, taking the offending arm and bringing it closer so she could see in the limited lighting. Sure enough, his hand was gone. “What the hell?” She swore softly and ran her hand through the place Chris' hand had once been. “What’d you do?!” "I was calming myself, like I usually do..." he closed his eyes and started humming softly. Slowly his hand came back and resolidified. She hesitantly poked his hand to make sure it was solid again before looking back up at him. “Well its back now…let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.” She released his arm and took a step back, surveying him carefully to make sure nothing else was amiss. He didn't like that look, it made him feel odd, but he stepped back and nodded. "So now what?" She tapped her chin and glanced down into the abyss once again. “Well, we should really find a way out of here…” Her ears folded back again. “Even if we have to tear through a lab to get there. I’ll do all the dirty work I suppose.” He nodded, pulling the knife from his pocket, but leaving it closed, next to his side. "I would really rather not go back in the water." A white feather fell from his wings. She caught the movement out the corner of her eye but said nothing. Straightening up she smiled at him and gestured grandly towards the darkness below. “Shall we?” He nodded. "At the bottom there are ladders that lead to the actual building. I'll go first?" She pouted and glanced back down. “Where’s the fun in that?” She asked, turning so her back faced the edge and gradually began to lean back. He smiled anyway and slid down off the pipe. There was some shuffling and the water sloshed around his ankles, but he finally said, "Okay, I found another ladder. Come on." She smiled and followed the sound of his voice, moving down the pipe a ways before sliding down it herself. Chris stood at the bottom of a long ladder, that swiftly disappeared into the darkness. "At the top there's a janitor's closet area. Then the actual labs." He put one arm and one leg onto the ladder. "It's a bit of a climb though." She nodded and placed a hand on the ladder obediently, her eyes following the stretch of metal until it disappeared into darkness. “It shouldn’t be a problem.” She brought her gaze back to him and grinned, her ears flicking slightly as they had yet to disappear. "We made it this far, ya?" He smiled thoughtfully, and turned away from the ladder for a moment. "Yeah," he murmured, "we did." With a final nod she glanced back up the ladder. “I’ll go first I guess.” She mumbled, shifting self consciously before placing a foot on the ladder to start moving. He put his hand on her shoulder for a moment. Then began the climb. The ladder seemed to go on forever, or at least it did to her. She had managed to suppress her transforming urge, but the bits of insanity that gnawed at the edges of her mind were beginning to make her restless. With a nearly inaudible sigh she tried to move faster: the sooner she could get out of this place the easier it would be. Chris was beginning to get nervous, when he saw a light above him. The ceiling soon dropped away and he stepped out into the small stone room. He quickly moved into a corner to take in his surroundings. The whole place smelled like mop water, but it was better than the sewers. It was also very dark, as the only light came through the hallway door. Rena smiled as the light finally came into view. She stretched out on the stone floor before regaining her composure and pressing herself up against a nearby wall. With a careful glance in Chris' direction she crept closer to the door, her ears twitching and swiveling about in an attempt to take in her surroundings despite the darkness. Chris headed towards the door, then stopped short as he heard a grumbling noise. He slowly turned, and saw the janitor in the corner. Under the fat greasy man's chair was a bottle of wine. Chris lifted it to his nose and sniffed. "It's been drugged almost as if someone was..." "Expecting you?" a voice called from the shadows, "Why of course." With a violent snarl Rena whipped around, her tail bristling as she searched for the source of the voice. There stood, in a shadowed corner of the room, a woman. Her features were at first, indistinguishable, but as she got closer, and more visible, it could be seen that she was short, or at least shorter than either Chris or Rena. Her hair was a dark brown, and hid her large eyes of the same color. Her face was pale, and looked fragile, like a porcelain doll. Rena emitted a low growl at the woman, casting a quick glance in Chris' direction to make sure she could reach him if she needed to before returning to the matter at hand. “Expecting us?” She asked, arching an eyebrow and slowly moving into a better position to attack. "Of course dahling." The woman's voice had a heavy British accent. "Why wouldn't I? I lead you here?" "What?" Chris blurted out before he could stop himself. "Led us here? We've spent most of this time avoiding your people. How could you have led us anywhere?" His voice was barely above a whisper, but in the comparative silence of the room it seemed like he was yelling. Her eyes narrowed. “They’ve been herding us, like freaking cattle.” She muttered, flexing her claws which just itched to slice through the woman’s throat. A voice vaguely added in the back of her mind ‘like lambs to the slaughter’. "Not cattle. Much more precious than cattle." Her growl grew more prominent at that, remembering the value people like she and Chris possessed for these places. Chris walked slowly toward the woman. "What kind of value might you be talking about then?" His hands remained clenched low at his sides. She crept silently along the wall, trying to keep Chris, the woman, and the door in her view. The woman seemed to decide she was getting in over her head. A second later she was at the door. "Wait." Chris said. The woman turned, indecisive. The woman shifted uncomfortably at the door, casting a sidelong glance at an emergency switch stationed in the hall before giving her attention to Chris. “Why don’t you ask your friend?” She asked, jerking her head in Rena’s direction. Rena seemed to flinch slightly at the comment. Chris looked at Rena for half a second before something went whizzing past his face. A second later there were people crowding the doorway. Some with guns, others with what looked like cattle prods. Something in the back of his head laughed... Before Chris could blink blood was being splattered into the small room and the bodies crowding the door fell away. Rena grinned as she made quick work of the men in the hallway, taking the tranquillizer missiles without faltering as she continued her massacre. Chris exited quickly to the hallway, blinking at the amount of blood. He glanced in the direction Rena had gone then heard footsteps coming from the other way. In panic he looked around. There! He quickly grabbed the control panel. Emergency Lock down....Access....denied? He smashed the keyboard with his hand. Granted. Lights started flashing and emergency doors began to lower. Chris quickly started running in Rena's direction. Ducking under the slowly falling doors. Rena was easy enough to follow. She drew her claws along the walls and left a trail of blood wherever she went, destroying anyone who got in her way. She paused when one of the doors blocked her path and angrily slashed at it, cutting through the steel easily into four clean slits. Chris ran at full speed. He dived under the last door, as it sealed behind him. He looked to where the next one should have been, expecting to be trapped, but all he found was a pile of door fragments. "I should of known she wouldn't be slowed down." He set off again, trying to catch up with Rena, and hopefully get them both out. The next several doors were found in the same state as the first but now Rena was facing a dilemma. She had reached the end of the hallway and was now staring down a set of stairs she had uncovered—more likely than not leading to where the ‘specimens’ were stored. She shifted on her feet uncomfortably, hesitant to go down and witness the horrors of human kind. And they said she was insane… Chris was rushing along the halls, trying to keep up. When he bumped into Rena. Literally. There was a moment when they both hung suspended, not quite falling, but then both resumed contact with the top of the stairs. "What is it?" Chris asked. He looked down, there was something very foreboding about the place below. She started when he bumped into her, nearly taking off his head if she hadn’t recognized him first. She stared down into the eerie light at the bottom of the stairs and frowned. “Something you shouldn’t have to witness.” She murmured, turning to look at him with hollow eyes. “Stay here.” She turned and headed down the stairs, her tail bristling as an overbearing wave of anxiety washed over her. Chris stood at the top of the stairs for a moment. Paced up the hallway, then descended anyway. She was nearly halfway through the compound when she heard him coming down the stairs, a scowl settling on her features. Grumbling to herself she turned and continued on anyways, deciding that he might as well see, if he hadn’t already, what happened if you were captured and decided to be uncooperative. Chris looked around. Cautious, but quiet. "What...is this." There were no lights on, but none were needed. The halls were lined with reinforced steel doors and special one way windows into the rooms beyond. A haze seeped out of several strategically placed air vents, a sort of nerve gas that was always in the air to keep the patients calm, or if needed, unconscious. Peering into the rooms would only reveal the sick treatment of said patients: some chained down and hooked to various machines, others in a constant state of pain so they wouldn’t have the will to move—some had given up their will to fight and lay sprawled out on a bloody floor, their eyes glazed and staring lifelessly at the ceiling. Chris looked into several of the rooms. "Rena...what are you thinking?" He looked to her. "Rena?" She stood at the end of the hall, leaning against one of the doors with her face turned away to keep it hidden. “They shouldn’t have to be treated like this…” She murmured, wrapping her arms around herself as her body trembled. “It shouldn’t be this way…” Chris approached her cautiously. "It's all right. Calm down. It's going to be okay." He wrapped his arms around her shoulders. "We'll get them out of here." His face got dark. "Dammit, I swear we will." She slowly glanced over her shoulder at him, revealing her tear streaked face. “But they’ll never forget.” She paused for a moment and looked away. “You never forget what they do to you…but if you’re here long enough you forget about the life you had before…” Her head slowly drooped. “What’s going to happen to these people Chris? They won’t know where to go or what to do…some won’t know how to function anymore.” He looked down at her, unable to answer. "I..." His thought only went that far before it stopped. Suddenly he stopped. "Do you hear that?" There was a banging coming from the top of the stairs. She glanced over her shoulder at that, looking down to the end of the hallway. “Yeah, I hear it.” She gently pulled away and wiped her face with the back of her hand. “What should we do?” He looked around. "We have to get out...but..." he looked around. "We're going to leave them...?" His confusion was obvious, but the pounding grew louder. "They're trying to get through the doors..." He wondered briefly why they couldn't unlock their own system, but quickly his thoughts returned to more pressing matters. “I don’t want to leave them…” She approached one of the windows. “But how do you suppose we get these twenty or other wounded or brain dead people out of a high security facility while being hounded down by its personnel?” She glanced back at him. “I can fight them off but I won’t last forever.” "Where's the door?" He had his priorities straight now. "We need to get out." He was searching frantically now. "Rena? Come on?" She stared at him for a long moment before turning back to the window. “At the end of the hallway there should be an emergency exit.” She folded her arms over her chest. “It’s hidden pretty well, but you should be able to find it.” He started in that direction, but stopped as her words went through his head. "I should be able to find it? Where are you going?" The pounding in the background continued, but neither could hear it anymore. “I won’t leave these people behind.” She said softly, “At the very least you should be able to escape. I’ll hold them off until I know you’re out and then...” She trailed off, her tail swaying calmly. He looked at her. "There's no way you can get them out alone. For that matter, there's no way we can get them out together. Not in this state," he frowned. "We're coming back. I hate to say it...but we have to. For one thing, I think we're going to need help." She glanced at him with vague curiosity. “Who can we get to help us? I haven’t seen my friends in years, and they’re the only people I know that could be of use to us.” "I've got one idea, and we'll see what we can do about finding your friends." He grabbed her arm. "Come on. We need to go." It was true, his plan was more logical than hers, but her heart still went out to the people locked in the cells. With a sigh she gave a final glance back down the hallway before nodding and heading towards the exit. Chris followed quickly. As they rounded a corner he heard screeches that could only mean that the door was beginning to lose. When they reached the dead end at the end of the hall Rena shot another quick glance back before she began to search the wall, running her hands over everything they could reach searching for a switch of some kind. “They’d have it hidden in case someone tried to escape.” She explained as she searched. Chris watched her search. Then reached above her and tapped a few blocks. He looked around, then nodded. "That one there hun." He said, pointing to a chain that was hooked to the wall. "Pull that." He grabbed a similar looking thing and pulled. She nodded and obediently pulled on the chain. Upon triggering the escape door alarms began to sound as the walls slowly slid apart, revealing a ladder leading directly up to the surface. "They didn't figure on multiple people trying to escape..." he murmured. Then he gestured grandly at the ladder as a crash behind signaled that their pursuers were in fact getting close. Rena just shrugged before climbing up the ladder, all the while listening for the men to enter the room below. “Hurry.” Chris waited at the bottom until she had climbed all the way up. He listened, hearing the men descend the stairs. Once she had reached the top he scrambled up and out. "How do we close it?" She glanced around, seeing that the exit let out into another forested area. “There.” She pointed to another chain hidden in the grass. Chris pulled it, and heard a satisfying turning of gears as the exit closed itself. Letting out the breath she was holding Rena let herself fall into the grass, stretching out and rolling around happy to be free again. However, her reprieve didn’t last long as the thoughts of the people held in the lab beneath them came back to her. She rolled onto her stomach and rested her head on her arms in thought. Chris lay in the grass, breathing in the fresh air. Then he stopped. "We've got to keep moving." She hummed in agreement and climbed back onto her feet. “Let’s go back to the hide out—the house is too vulnerable at the moment.” "Agreed." he moved towards her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Prepare for lift-off?" She started at the contact but wrapped her arms around him in return. “Roger.” She grinned, wishing she had a pair of flight goggles. He flapped his wings and they rose into the air. Gaining speed quickly. The "city" was beautifully laid out before them, the lights flickering in all of the houses. Chris glanced back, and hovered for a moment. "Think we'll be able to find it again?" She glanced around in an attempt to find a familiar landmark and nodded. “Go left, its right between those buildings.” She instructed, pointing towards a couple rundown buildings. He nodded. Making a mental note of where they had come from, then swooping down where she had pointed, landing carefully out of sight. Upon landing Rena sniffed the air, looking around cautiously as she pulled away from Chris and entered the alley. “Something’s different…” She murmured to herself before moving the box that hid the entrance aside, revealing a rather large pipe sticking out of the wall. “This way.” She called back to him before entering, and after crawling a ways having to stand to climb into the next segment. Chris followed cautiously, crawling behind her. He was careful to keep his distance, and when he found his eyes drifting, would look away quite abruptly. Once she reached the end of the pipe she was alarmed to find the light on. So someone is here… She shifted and lowered herself closer to the ground before silently moving out into the room, her eyes darting about warily as she searched for the intruder. Chris noticed Rena's odd motions as she left the pipe and was about to ask what was wrong, when he also noticed that the light was on. He silently left the pipe and entered the room, but felt like someone was watching him. His eyes darted nervously around looking for the source. There was complete silence in the small enclosure as before Rena abruptly turned and lunged at a shadow on the floor. “Found you!” The shadow wavered before slowly taking the shape of a young woman, appearing slightly older than Rena, with maroon colored hair who Rena immediately attached herself to in a death hug. “Ack—Rena! Rena! Calm down damnit!” The woman’s eyes narrowed in annoyance before she begrudgingly returned the hug, drawing comforting circles on her friends back and she babbled and cried into her shoulder. Chris looked over suddenly at the commotion and laughed. After a moment he cleared his throat. "Still here..." The young woman glanced up at his voice and frowned. “Who’s this guy?” She asked her friend, subconsciously pulling Rena a bit closer. “Mmm?” Rena glanced up at her before glancing over her shoulder at Chris. “Oh, that’s Chris.” She smiled at him before turning back to her friend and nuzzling her cheek affectionately. Said woman rolled her eyes. “And…?” Rena paused before reality seemed to set in and she turned back to Chris again. “Chris! I’d like you to meet Luna!” She exclaimed, causing her friend to flinch at the volume she used. Luna frowned at him, her long elf ears twitching ever so slightly. “Pleased to meet you.” She murmured, crimson eyes narrowing ever so slightly as she took in his appearance. Chris looked over at her. "Uh...pleased to meet you...I..." he broke off into silence relatively quickly. Luna sighed, gently pushing Rena off of her so she could stand up. “Jeeze…I forgot how much I’d miss peace and quiet when I got back.” She muttered, casting a glare in her direction. “Peace is boring!” Rena pouted, crossing her arms over her chest in a childish gesture. “Besides, didn’t you miss me?” Again, Luna rolled her eyes. Abruptly Luna turned her attention on Chris and with a glare pointed in his direction as well as a finger she glanced back and Rena. “Explain.” At this Rena grinned and went back to Chris' side. “Well um…” She tapped her chin as she thought of a proper way to explain. Chris just sighed and turned around spreading his wings. "Is this a good enough start?" His voice was confident, but his face showed only Rena that talking to her friend was making him nervous. Luna made a soft humming noise and waited from them to continue. “Well, see…I was really sad after…that thing that happened…” Rena began, casting a worried glance in Chris' direction as she tried to find the right words. “And…I met Chris one day in the park…and he had nowhere to stay and needed help…” Luna’s eyes narrowed. “You took in another stray?” Rena pouted at that. “They’re not strays!” She shot back with a huff before continuing. “But yes, I let him stay at our house…We started to get close…and…um…” Chris turned back around and hugged Rena from behind, nervously keeping his arms near her neck and watching for any hostile movement from the other female party in the room. She smiled back at him and gently nuzzled his cheek, comfortably leaning into his embrace while trying not to strangle herself with his arms. Luna’s eyebrows rose at the gesture, especially since she was the only one that Rena ever nuzzled. Ever. “And um…so…” Rena’s expression turned more serious. “The men in the white coats are at it again. They broke our treaty.” Luna’s eyes narrowed dangerously at that and she swore under her breath. “So we’re going to have to be careful. Home isn’t safe right now.” Luna nodded in agreement and sank into a nearby bean bag that she had originally dragged out, an agitated sigh escaping her. Chris hugged her closer, also being careful of where his arms were. "Yeah...about that..." Both girls glanced up at him curiously. Chris' arms shook as he struggled to speak in an even tone. "We have to go back...and we're going to need help. Right?" He looked down at Rena. She placed her hands over his arms to calm him, smoothing the fabric of his jacket with her thumb as she looked back at Luna. “Yes… we were contained in another…establishment, before we came here. They have more of them Luna.” Rena’s eyes grew darker and her ears drooped. “We need to go back; we need to save them…” Luna frowned, leaning back in her chair and breathing a sigh through her nose. “And you need help of course.” She added to the list, touching her fingers together as she contemplated what to do. “Rena, you still have that charm I gave you?” Rena nodded and reached into her shirt to pull out a long chain, attacked to which was a strange star with a stone inside. “I never take it off.” Rena added before tucking it away again. "Hm?" Chris questioned. "How's that important?" his tone was neutral, though he was slightly confused at the importance of a charm. Things aren't always as they seem he reminded himself silently, gently moving his wings as he did. “It’s going to summon the help we need.” Luna replied, subconsciously fingering the charm that dangled around her neck. “Rena. Come.” At that she turned and headed towards a shelf stationed on the far wall, scanning the many kChrisknacks it held for the one she needed. Rena gently removed Chris' arms before taking his hand and obediently following her master across the room. Chris nodded. "I've got my own contacts to round up. Do you have a phone? Or something? Otherwise I'll just go find them." He stopped only when Rena did, waiting for an answer. Luna paused in her search to pull out a sleek black cell phone and tossed it in his direction. “It’s untraceable.” She added after a moment then continued her search. “Rena, where is it?” Rena gave Chris a warm smile before going to help her search. “It should be behind the glass roses…” Chris stood a moment looking at the phone. It was interesting...but he didn't have time for that. Pausing to recall the proper order of the digits he raised the phone to his ear, keeping one eye on the girls, just to be sure. After a few more moments of searching… “Aha!” With that exclamation Luna held a small crafted music box over her head. “Found it!” Rena smiled, but shifted uncomfortably as Luna unclasped her charm and held out her hand for Rena’s. After a long moment Luna’s eyes narrowed. “Rena…hand it over…” With a soft sigh Rena unclasped the chain and hesitantly placed it in her hand. Luna nodded and fitted the pieces together, forming a strange star crescent shape to work as the key to the box. Chris watched eagerly to see what would happen, but was interrupted by an error signal on the end of the line. He punched in the digits to bypass it and waited, watching, forgetting that the phone was ringing. Luna inserted the key into its designated hole and slowly turned it to wind the gears within the box. With a satisfying click the lock sealing the box became undone and Luna opened it, the soft tinkling of music flowing from it to summon their comrades. She set the box aside and went over to Rena who was whimpering miserably at the hidden high pitched frequency the box also emitted. Several dogs began howling as Luna tried to comfort her friend the best she could while also suffering the effects of the box. Chris could feel something from the box, although he couldn't exactly hear the sound. He quickly ignored it though as someone on the other end picked up. "J? Yeah it's me." The voice on the other end said something muffled. "Look I'll talk to you soon, in person. This phone can't be traced, but I don't want to take chances. Plus, there's other people involved. What's your current location?" There was more muffled noise. "Alright. Find D, and get him there too. I think we'll be needing his services." Within a matter of minutes an echo was heard through the pipe leading to the room. In stumbled another young woman, hands tightly covering her white feline ears as she stumbled over to her friends. “Whyyyyyyy?” She whined, her tail bristling as she curled up next to them. “We were only another continent over, you could have called…” A moment later another girl crawled into the room, her velvety mouse ears pressed flat against her head as she fell to the floor. Luna quickly shut the box, allowing them a reprieve against the harsh torment. “You wouldn’t have gotten here that fast if we had called.” She pointed out, fingering her ears gently to ease the pain. Chris shut the phone quickly. "That's done. I've got the location of my contact." He looked at the two who had just entered. He shook his head for a second then looked back at Rena. "This everyone?" She smiled. “Everyone we need.” She carefully removed her hands from her ears and began to relax as Luna removed the key and the music box was locked again. “Chris, I’d like you to meet Molly-” She gestured to the feline in the purple outfit who waved back excitedly “-and Karen.” She gestured to the other girl in green, who was still laying face down on the floor. “We make up the infantry of our pack.” She added, pulling her knees to her chest and resting her head upon them. Being slightly more prepared this time, Chris mocked bowing. After a moment he looked at Karen. "She going to be alright?" He moved closer, and poked the girl in the side. Said girl looked up at the contact and smiled. “Hey there bird man.” Rena chuckled and stood up, helping her friend to her feet. “Karen makes weird Chrisnames.” She pointed out as the others got comfortable for the debriefing. Chris nodded. "Okay. I'm fine with it. Unfortunately we need to get down to business." He looked around before perching on the ground. "Let's see introductions. We know names, but that doesn't tell me anything." He glanced at Luna. "What can you do?" Somewhere in the back of his head an old forgotten voice said, 'Taking charge are we?' Luna frowned, but gave him respect for taking charge. “Shadow shift.” She answered, folding her arms over her chest as her shadow shifted restlessly. Molly raised her hand eagerly, hopping up and down where she sat. “Me next! Me next!” Chris smiled, this was beginning to be enjoyable, unfortunately he was constantly reminded that this was completely serious. They could easily get killed. He nodded at Molly. "Go for it." Molly looked at Luna who nodded her consent. She grinned before cupping her hands together and blowing into it, and when she parted them a small vortex of water rose from palms. “I control water-” she took a breath and shaped the water into a pair of daggers before blowing on them, instantly turning them into ice. “And ice!” She smiled and twirled them before setting them aside. Chris nodded solemnly tucking that information into the back of his head. "Sounds familiar actually...sorry, I suppose that's for later." He turned toward Karen. Karen smiled and held up her hands. “Uh, Karen? Perhaps a demonstration wouldn’t be a great idea…” Rena pointed out, causing Karen to lower her hands in slight disappointment. She turned back to Chris and shrugged. “I’m a bit radioactive.” She grinned, her skinny tail flicking slightly. Chris looked at her for a little bit before shaking his head. "Okay..." He started to say something, then stopped, looking at Rena. “They’re all trained in close hand combat…” She put in with a smile as she watched them for a moment. She turned back to them and raised one shoulder in a half shrug. “You pretty much know what I can do, being the berserker of the group as well as the healer.” He nodded once more. "I don't know that I'm all that good at close range fighting...but I've got good aim...and this." He pulled out the lock blade he'd acquired. The group made a round about noise of agreement while others nodded and cast worried glances at Rena. “So where do we meet these contacts of yours?” Luna asked, arching an eyebrow at him curiously. "Well...the other end of town, actually. I shouldn't be telling you this though. Hell, you shouldn't even know they exist, but that's besides the point. Follow the birdie." He glanced at Molly and Karen. "One of those two will have to tell you what's happening on the way." He took one more look around the room, became a white raven, and hurried out of the building. Perching on a nearby trash can. Rena nodded to her team before following him out the pipe, her comrades following close behind. Molly and Karen exchanged a confused glance but decided not to ask questions until everyone could be filled in at once. Chris waited for all to exit, before flying down the alleyway. It was too bad that he had to follow the street-flying would have been much faster-but there was no way the rest of them could have followed as easily. He sat, waiting for them to catch up, before moving to the next intersection. Luna frowned, letting the shadows engulf her as she transformed into a small dragon before flying up to where Chris was. ‘You don’t have to wait for them. Rena can follow your scent.’ She hissed, red eyes gleaming impatiently. ‘The faster we get there the better.’ There was a small sound that sounded like a laugh, and his eyes glinted in challenge. She snorted, writhing in the air and casting a quick glance back at the rest of her family to make sure they were still following. As she thought Rena had transformed into her quad form, since it was the most inconspicuous of the four, and was using her other senses to follow them rather than her eyes. Luna just hoped she didn’t wind up losing the others in the process. Chris took off. While he continued to use the streets now he flew with reckless abandon. He darted around corners, into the more open part of town before finally stopping in a park he hadn't been to before. He flew high up into one of the trees and shifted back to human, waiting to see how long it would take the others. Luna glared at him but followed anyways, albeit at a slower pace to keep from tiring herself out too fast. She perched on a lower branch when she reached the park, casting another glare in his direction before turning to the direction they came from. Sure enough within a few moments they came bounding up the path, both girls riding on the large wolf that had to be Rena. Chris glanced down before hopping lightly to the ground, barely avoiding Luna. He softly walked ahead down the path, stopping at a small shelter that seemed to be set up for barbeques or other such gatherings. The girls climbed off their friend who gladly collapsed, panting softly as their leader approached them. “You gonna be okay?” Luna asked, shifting back into her human form. ‘Yeah…just…give me a minute.’ Rena replied, resting her head on her paws and closing her eyes. Luna nodded and lead the others away towards the picnic area Chris had gone to. Chris was slowly pacing the area, inspecting everything. His frustration showed in his face and movements, as they were no longer the quiet subtle ones, but now fierce irate stomps. The girls took seats amongst the tables, watching Chris with vague interest while Luna kept an eye on Rena who was slowly making their way towards them. He continued pacing muttering under his breath, "Stupid...never...can't...simple...once in his life..." Rena trotted up to him curiously, following behind him as he paced. He turned again and almost bumped into her. He jumped away, angry for a second, then laughed. "Sorry, it's just, I've been dealing with this guy for years, and he always tells me where he is, but always leaves out how to get in. I haven't seen him in so long that I'd forgotten about it." She sat back on her haunches and gave him a goofy doggy smile, tilting her head curiously. ‘Should we help?’ She asked, catching her friend’s attention. “We?” They asked. "I'm fine," he said, "I've dealt with his tricks for years, it's just...annoying!" With the last word he kicked a can that was laying on the ground. The small blunt object flew at the ceiling and ricocheted into a little stone fireplace that was hidden at one end of the enclosure. Hitting a particular spot there was a crunching sound, and then a shifting as gears turned, and a spiral stair descended into the ground within the hearth. "Oh..." Chris said intelligently. "That works..." Luna rolled her eyes and hopped off the table she was sitting on. “Well let’s get going.” She grumbled, placing her hands on her hips and waiting for Chris to lead the way. Rena’s tail wagged as she stood and headed towards the stair case. Chris stood and started on the staircase, heading down until he hit a metal door, which contrasted heavily with the rough stonework around them. He pressed the button next to the door. "Jalathas, open up. I know you're in there." There was a whirring and a light flashed red. "They're with me smart one, I know how to detect when I'm being followed." There was another whirring and the door swished open. Rena’s head tilted as Chris and the door were conversing and took a hesitant step back when it opened. She whined softly and looked to him for reassurance as the others looked in curiously. Chris slowly walked into the dark room. "Jalathas...I know you're here somewhere..." The contents of the room could not be seen, as there was no light, and he almost tripped over something as he went. Luna patted Rena’s head comfortingly as she looked around, her vision much better than the others because of her gift, and seeing that there was no immediate threat coaxed Rena inside as the others followed. As Chris walked towards the back room-where Jalathas no doubt sat-a shadow rose from the ground and grabbed him from behind. Wrestling with the figure Chris tried to throw him off, before being pinned to the ground. "Dem! Get off of me! Dem!" The figure smiled. "Haven't gotten any better at fighting have we Chris?" Reflexively Rena started to growl until Luna held her mouth shut to keep her from doing anything stupid. “Remember, we’re on their territory.” Luna whispered, glancing back at the other two to show that she was referring to them as well. “Do not attack unless help is requested.” Chris stood bopping the other figure on the back of the head, "And you haven't gotten any better at thinking ahead. Will you turn on the lights?" The figure gestured and the room was quickly illuminated. Now that there was light the other boy's features became quickly distinguishable. He had a hardened face, with the look of danger, and yet there was a light-hearted smile on it. His leather jacket hid his formidable muscles, as did the leanness that rivaled Chris'. His hair was a flaming red. Chris gestured to him, "Dem, this is Rena, and her friends...everyone...this is Demetrius, or as I said...Dem." Rena barked, wagging her tail happily since she could see again. Luna glanced up, seeming to assess the boy before her before nodding and turning back to Rena and murmuring something to her about changing back to make things easier. Molly and Karen—Or, just Molly more or less—actually approached him to say hello. “Hey there Dem!” She exclaimed, a bawd grin plastered on her face as her tail twitched in excitement. Dem looked around at each of the girls nodding. "Jalathas said that you had a job to do. Is this it on your crew so far?" His hint was not lost on Chris, but was ignored. "Yes, this is them. And I'm pretty sure that any of them would be an easy match for you." Dem looked again and nodded. "Now that you mention it I suppose." In a soft flash of light the normal Rena sat looking curiously at the two. “What do you mean?” She asked, tilting her head out of habit. "What Dem so tactfully asked...was if the people helping me so far...were all girls...I told him that I thought any of you was as good or better than him in a fight-which is all he cares about in the end." At this last comment Chris hit Dem upside the head again. “Oh.” Rena smiled at him and nodded. “That was nice of you.” Luna rolled her eyes and bonked Rena on the head. “He’s questioning your strength and you don’t care?” She asked, arching an eyebrow at her. Rena pondered this a moment. “Well, if you want me to I can skin him alive in his sleep. Would that make you feel better? Cause I really don’t care.” "I'd rather you didn't kill my pupil thank you." When Dem looked relieved Chris added, "Besides, he owes me money." Luna snorted and looked away while Rena grinned and nodded again. “So where’s that other guy you were talking about?” Karen suddenly spoke up, glancing around in search of another source of body heat. Chris gestured, "Back room. Probably watching right now." He looked at Dem, "I'm assuming that's how you turned the lights on." The fire headed boy nodded. Karen nodded before falling back into her normal quiet demeanor, taking a seat up against the wall to take a nap. Molly blinked a few times before turning back to Luna. “You never did tell us what’s going on.” She pointed out, placing her hands on her hips and tilting her head. “As far as I know we’re just getting together to sell lemonade. What’s up?”

"Jalathas, will you at least show your face so I know you're listening!" A screen flickered on, and a long haired, actually rather good looking, figure appeared on it, "I'm here, I'm here. You should know that by now."

Chris started to speak, then turned to Rena, "Would you be able to describe it...I'm..." He stopped, his words for the day seeming to run out. Rena nodded and clapped her hands together as she thought of a good way of explaining it. “Well…long story short, this is a rescue mission.” She started as Molly took a seat in front of her and Karen perked her ears to show she was listening. “There’s a facility underground in the forest south of the base. Chris and I found ourselves there and…well…” She fiddled with the hem of her shirt, her friends picking up on her discomfort and filling in the rest on their own. “So we’re going to break them out?” Molly added for her, her ears perking curiously. "Aye." Chris said. He looked around before finding a map of the city. "For the two who don't know, the base is here. And the facility is about..." he scanned a moment before pointing. "Here." “There must be at least twenty in there,” Rena pointed out, staring at her hands idly at avoid the stare Luna had fixed on her. “Most are in pretty bad shape so I’m not sure how they’ll function when they’re back in society…” She finally glanced up, trying not to flinch away from the seemingly emotionless gaze. “And you do realize what will happen if they can’t function properly, don’t you Rena?” "I think we'll worry about that after we get them out of there," Chris interrupted. "Jalathas, do you have anything on an organization in that area." "Nothing on a group, but I've found the place. You came out here. The entire place stretches for five miles....I don't think there's just one containment area..." Rena returned her gaze to her hands as the others turned to listen to what the boys had to say, not exactly blocking them out but not really paying attention either. "More than one? How many are there?" Jalathas looked away. "From the looks of this...three." Chris muttered. Then looked over at Rena. "Never mind J, just get me a plan. Contact us when you figure out what you think should go down. I'll organize teams." He looked around, then whispered to Luna, "Can you take the others back? Dem too if you would." Luna frowned, glancing at Dem suspiciously before sighing. “Fine.” She mumbled, climbing to her feet and tugging on Rena’s ponytail. “Hey. Wake up; I’m not carrying you all the way there.” Rena yelped at the sudden pain, turning to glare at Luna who cursed before running off, Rena close behind her with the intention to kill. Molly shook her head as Karen got up and stretched. “Well, at least she got her to get up…” Karen yawned, listening to the destruction that was going on outside. “Right, follow us.” Molly said, heading up the staircase with Karen close behind. “We’d better stop Rena before she gets carried away…” Chris nodded at both of them. "Thank you." Once they got outside, caught up with the two, got Rena to calm down and then cleaned up the park a bit they headed back towards the base. Chris came in slightly later, carrying a pack on his back. He slumped down next to Dem for a moment, following the other boy's gaze before saying, "You'll get yourself killed idiot." The boy was a sucker for beautiful girls, especially ones who were tough in their own right. Chris stood back up, leaving the silent tough guy to his thoughts, and looked for Rena." After awhile Luna, who had been absent along with Rena for at least a fifteen minutes, seeped into the room before materializing. She sighed and flopped down into a bean bag chair, rubbing her eyes in an attempt to sooth the migraine behind them. “So troublesome…” Chris remained leaning against the wall, watching for Rena. After a moment Luna glanced over at him, arching an eyebrow before realizing what he was doing. “Try the roof.” She grumbled, reaching over to grab a book from a large stack in a corner of the room. Chris nodded, thumping Dem on the back of the head, before scrambling outside, ignoring the dark look the other boy gave him. Outside a soft melody could be heard echoing throughout the alleyway, accompanied by a voice singing the lyrics in a soft and almost mournful tone. Chris listened awhile before fluttering to the roof of the building he was already starting to think of as "home." Rena sat perched upon the edge of the roof, a music box cradled delicately in her lap as she sang along to the hypnotic notes. She stared off into the distance over the city, her ears drooped and her tail curled tightly around her, praying with all of her being that her song would be answered. Chris slipped behind her and asked, "What are you waiting for?" Startled she shut the box and turned to face him, throwing on a smile the best she could. “I’m sorry?” "You were sort of staring off into space. As if you were looking for something." Her smile slowly slid off her features and she turned back to the scene before her, stroking the porcelain surface of the box gently and staying silent. "Are you okay?" Chris slid down next to her sitting. “Yes…” She sighed, looking down at the box in her lap. “Just…hanging onto something that’s been gone for years.” She turned to him with a small sad smile. He hugged her. "And what is that? You seem to dodge the question a lot." She chuckled, leaning into the hug gratefully. ”Opening up to people can both help and hurt.” She murmured, resting her head on his shoulder. “And I’ve been hurt a lot in my lifetime.” He held her tighter, "I know, and it drives me crazy. I hate seeing that hurt look on your face." She glanced up at him with a playful grin. “Should I wear a mask then?” He smiled back, not quite as strongly, although he tried. She let out a soft sigh and gazed back out over the horizon. “This is a more condensed version of the box we used earlier.” She explained, bringing her gaze down to it. “We all respond to the song the same way, and know that if we hear it we’re supposed to follow it…” She worried her lower lip between her teeth, wondering how much she should tell him or if she had already spoken too much. He nodded, encouraging her to continue. He had nothing he could think to say, his thoughts were empty. Letting out a shaky breath she closed her eyes. “They took my pups away from me.” She whispered, pulling the box closer to her. “Those damn men…took my puppies away…” When she opened her eyes a tear slid down her cheek. “They’ve been missing for two years now...but I always hope that somehow they’ll hear this…and come home…” Chris' mouth dropped open...hanging there for a moment, before he managed to stutter, "Y-you, I mean...what?" A soft smile slid across her face when she looked up at him until she realized what she said and corrected herself. “They’re my niece and nephew, mind you, but since I’m their only living relative left they treat me like their mother.” She laughed nervously, a deep blush painting her cheeks. Chris' mouth remained open. "Oh." he said smartly. She chuckled and closed his mouth with her index finger. “And to think I could have had so much fun with that…” She mumbled, still sChrisering softly as she glanced out over the horizon again. He hugged her. "We'll find them. I swear to you, they're out there. We'll find them." He gazed out with her. His eyes felt heavy. She breathed a deep sigh through her nose. “One of them is still out there.” She corrected softly. “But if she’s alive I hope to God she won’t be as messed up as I turned out to be…they don’t even have a reason for keeping her, they won’t get what they’re after…” "Hm?" he asked. Words starting to fail. Realizing she was contradicting herself horribly she tried to set it straight. “We found…what was left of Tommy.” She murmured, her heart wrenching in pain at the memory. “They thought our bodies held the same properties so they started experimenting right away...” She shifted uncomfortably, looking down. “You can only imagine how that turned out…” "We're still trying to bring him back..." He looked stunned, "I...Rena...I..." She sighed again and smiled. “See? I said too much.” She pointed out, looking up at him. “That’s why I don’t like to tell you things... you’ll keep your sanity longer if you don’t know anything about me.” He looked straight at her. "Is that what you think?" He faltered a moment before putting his arms around her waist. "Hun, I'll be fine. I just hate seeing all you've had to go through." She scoffed softly before nuzzling her face into his chest and wrapping her arms around him in return. “Well at the very least I’m alive, right? That’s all Luna really cares about, even though she knows—” She cut herself off there, mentally scolding herself. ‘No! Bad Rena! No telling Chris the mechanics of your life!’ "Knows what?" he looked at her, trying to probe to the depths of her mind, and yet, at the same time keeping out, trying to let her tell him. She scowled at him. “Stop being easy to talk to!” She complained, burying her face in his shirt to avoid the question. He smiled at that, "Stop being so interesting." She glanced up and stuck her tongue out at him before getting comfortable again. “If I could have lived and died a normal life I wouldn’t be so interesting…” She grumbled, her words being muffled by the fabric of his shirt. He looked down at the girl pressed against him, "And I would never have met you. I wish your life had been normal...that you hadn't had to endure these things...yet...at the same time...I suppose that's what was going to happen...fate needed a scape goat...but damn it all if we're going to take it lying down." She seemed to contemplate what he had said, a soft yawn escaping her from being warm and comfortable. “Stupid fate…” She mumbled, trying to focus on the scenery to fight the closing of her eyes. Chris wrapped his arms tighter around her. Trying to screw up his courage. He finally gave up, and sat, eyes slowly closing. After awhile Luna came up to the roof, wondering why they hadn’t come in yet. Upon looking around she found the reason and was glad that she had come up and not Molly or the voyeur friend of Chris'. If she were anyone but Luna she would have openly awed at the sight, but kept up her stoic outlook and went to get them inside. Even so, inside her heart she couldn’t help the warm feeling she got from seeing her best friend like this. Dem watched Luna bring the two back inside. Talking to her would be the smart idea, but Chris had already told him he would end up face first in the wall...and while Chris' inferences about his own love life were often shaky, Dem hadn't seen a time when he was wrong about him, which annoyed him. Besides, he had just met Luna he didn't like her, no way. Luna gestured something to Molly who moved the books and opened a trap door leading to the storage area of their base. After a moment of looking around she retrieved a couch sized bean bag and dragged it into the upper story for Luna to plop them down on. “Guess we’ll have to get started on this tomorrow.” She commented, dusting her hands off when both were placed comfortably. “Get some sleep. It sounds like you’re going to need it.” Dem ignored his doubts and brushed his hair back. Smiling, he looked over at Luna and said, "Where should I crash?" She arched an eyebrow at him. “Where you sit.” She deadpanned. She slid down a wall and sighed softly as she watched what was left of her team disappear into the storage area before closing the door behind them. He glanced at her before adjusting his position so that his gazed defaulted to where she slumped on the floor. "You're in charge of them aren't you?" He said quietly, dropping the tough guy act faster than he ever had in his life. Her ear twitched, one of the chains attached tinkling softly as its links brushed against each other. “Yes.” He nodded. "Not easy is it, love." Then winced at the "slip". Her eyes immediately narrowed at him, but she managed to shrug it off since she often did the same thing. “British are we…” She grumbled, her voice laced with sarcasm as she turned her face away from him. After a long moment of silence she finally replied. “No, when you’ve spent as many years as I have, it gets easier.” She sighed softly, glancing at her sleeping companion in the bean bag. “And Rena makes a wonderful second in command.” He nodded. "Seems a little busy though..." He winced again, an expression that seemed to be making itself frequent on his face. She was silent again. “Yes. It can be a handful.” She confessed before frowning and glaring at him. “Now go to sleep. I need to get something done.” The fiery boy, shut his eyes and chuckled, he'd meant her second in command was...but no matter. He was tired. "Don't stay up too late. The way Jalathas makes plans you'll need sleep too love." There was emphasis on the word was out before he even meant it to be. He was glad his eyes were closed, it kept him from wincing at his true slip. She glared at him and waited awhile before getting up to round up the supplies she’d need. As she passed the sleeping duo she paused, a soft sad look adorning her face as she stared before going back to its usual stoic manner and allowing her to continue. The boy's eyes had fluttered open, but he bit back a retort. She'd had enough, and he truly didn't like her...right? He was just playing...wasn't he... In the back of his head he squished a small voice that sounded eerily like Chris, and drifted into sleep. Early the next morning Rena’s eyes fluttered open upon sensing a vague moment across the room. She sniffed the air, detecting no hint of unfamiliar scents or breakfast, before carefully rolling out of the bean bag to get up. “Up all night again?” She whispered, padding over to where Luna sat hunched over a dozen maps and papers. Said woman rolled her eyes. “Of course, what else do you expect me to do when you’re planning to lay siege on a facility? An underground one at that.” She sighed, resting her head in her hands as she stared irritably at the paper in front of her. Rena frowned, wrapping her arms around her friend as she looked over her shoulder at her work. “Even though you don’t need sleep, you really should have gotten some last night.” She pouted and nuzzled her hair affectionately. “What if Molly doesn’t make us bacon? How will we survive?!” Luna couldn’t help but chuckle at her antics. Dem and Chris turned over at about the same time. The red haired boy said, "I told her to go to sleep, but no one listens to me. I just get hit each time I open my mouth." Chris grinned, "Not every time. Only when you say something stupid. Which is often." Luna shrugged, setting her pencil down and stretching. “Rena. Go wake Molly and Karen up before you visit…” Luna paused for a moment and glared at the other two occupants in the room. Rena frowned. “I know, I’ll be fast this time. I promise.” With that she gently broke away and went over to Chris. “I’ll be right back.” She murmured, placing a kiss on his forehead before disappearing down the trap door. A few moments later a light came on and movement could be heard below them. Chris blushed a bit, carefully avoiding looking at Dem. Dem himself looked jealous, he subconsciously glanced at Luna. Chris caught the action and grinned triumphantly, quickly looking neutral again as Dem started to look his way. Luna’s eyes darkened slightly as they followed Rena’s retreating form before locking back onto Chris. Karen soon came up from the hole in the floor, yawning as she dragged herself over to a corner and curled up, mumbling something about five more minutes. Molly came in just the opposite way, a bright smile on her face as she went over to Luna. “What would you like for breakfast?” She asked, directing the question to everyone in the room. “Rena already said she wanted bacon, what about you Luna?” Chris smiled groggily, morning people weren't his favorite mostly, but Molly wasn't too bad. He grinned. Dem immediately began to step on whatever Luna would have said, but Chris was quickly across the room silencing him with a slight nudge. Luna yawned and propped her chin on her hand. “Eh, bacon is fine. And some orange juice if you haven’t drank it all.” Her eyes narrowed in what seemed to be a playful manner and Molly saluted and disappeared downstairs, rambling on about Luna never eating enough and the Rena was too picky for her own good. Luna rolled her eyes as she got up, stretching out and casting a quick warning look in Dem's direction before heading downstairs to see how Rena was doing. Chris looked at Dem. The boy had a look on his face that showed pure defiance. "Stop denying it, your face shows it all. That and the fact that you actually listened and shut up when you realized who you were going to be interrupting." Dem looked up at him. "I hate you." "No you don't. C'mon, I bet you're out of practice." Chris led him outside to train him in fighting. Luna cast a quick glance in Molly’s direction before opening another trap door leading to the medical ward of their base where Rena probably was. “Come on…you can do it…please…” She frowned, following the wavering voice to the far corner of the room. Underneath a small trick window lay a bed that Rena was perched on, turned away from the rest of the room to lie beside what seemed to be a corpse. She held a small knife in her hand, the blade dripping with the silver liquid that was her blood as she worked it into the many gashes and burns the body held. She seemed to ignore the fact that her own body was in terribly pain, the slits in her wrists becoming worse as she slashed them open again desperately to get more of the healing serum from within. Luna silently came up behind her, a deep sympathy resting in her eyes for her dear friend. After a moment Rena glanced up at her, her face already streaked with tears. “I…I think he smiled at me Luna…” She whispered, clutching the child to her body as if she might take it away from her. “He might…he might be…” Luna sighed and placed a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it tightly before helping her work the liquid into the wounds which to her surprise were indeed beginning to react. As the two sat inside, Chris taught his pupil. He felt something, but ignored it for a moment, dodging Dem's strike at him. "Powerful blows don't mean anything if you can't hit me." He crowed. The teacher jumped onto his student's back effectively throwing him off balance. Dem sunk to the ground. "How is it that I'm a better fighter than you and yet you still manage to teach me something every time we do stuff?" Chris glanced at him as he moved inside. "You don't have to be a master to teach. Now sit there with your eyes closed and observe your surroundings." He walked back inside, crossed to the trapdoor, and passed through it quietly, but not silently. Molly glanced back at him from her spot in the small kitchen area, poking at the pancakes with a spatula and casting the second trap door a long sad look. “Why are you down here?” She asked as she turned back to her food, quickly tending to the bacon that was beginning to curl up again. "Felt something." He replied curtly, but not rudely. "Where's Rena?" She frowned. “She’s busy at the moment.” She explained, her usual happy demeanor replaced with a slightly protective glare. “They’ll be out in a while, just go upstairs and wait.” She cast a nervous glance towards the open trapdoor hidden behind the sleeping area before bringing her gaze back to him. Chris nodded at Molly. "Bacon's looking good" He stepped past and stood at the trapdoor. "Permission to enter?" He asked. She frowned again. “Chris, just go upstairs. No one but Luna is allowed down there when Rena’s visiting-“ She silently cursed herself and turned back to the pancakes which were beginning to burn. Chris ignored her, and remained where he was. a moment later he called, "Rena?" Two low growls resounded from the darkness below, warning against entering. Molly huffed in irritation, leaving him to find out the hard way. Chris stayed where he was waiting. Eventually the growls died down, the only sound coming from the dark room being an occasional sob and the tearing of flesh. Chris almost jumped into the trapdoor. Almost did it. Instead he jumped up and began pacing, back and forth. He growled at Molly as he passed he once, an almost perfect imitation of the ones that he'd heard not long before. Molly hissed at him in response before turning back to making breakfast. Finally fed up with his pacing she gave in. “Here.” She scooped up several slices of bacon and set them on a plate. “Take these and they might not kill you.” He smiled, "Gracias señorita." He took the plate and took a breath before dropping through the door. It was oddly quiet when he entered. In the far corner of the room the window illuminated the bed and Rena, but other than the child lying on the bed with her she was alone. She sat quietly, gently running her fingers through his hair and murmuring sweet nothings as her blood dripped from her arm onto his face. Chris quietly stepped forward. He cleared his throat-this wasn't a situation for silent approaches. "Molly sent bacon." She didn’t respond, continuing her movements in a trance. "Rena?" He moved towards her setting the plate down on a nearby bed. "Rena?" He came forward cautiously, before wrapping his arms around her. Her head turned slowly, revealing dead silver eyes that stared blankly at him, holding no recognition whatsoever. “No…you won’t take him away from me again…no…” She growled threateningly as her body tensed. “Stay away from him!” She snarled, ripping herself from his grip to crouch over the dead child, her eyes turning feral as they locked on him. Luna appeared from the shadows, taking the form of a deformed wolf like creature and snarling at him as well. “AwaY frOm Him!” Luna hissed out, leaping onto the bed and standing over Rena protectively. Chris took one step back, but hid his fear. Both were truly fierce, but he was not leaving, not with the way Rena looked. After a moment a sob racked Rena’s form and she collapsed, pulling the child to her and curling up on the bed with him securely in her arms. “Please…come back…I don’t want to be alone anymore…” She sobbed softly, catching Luna’s attention. The wolf gently nuzzled her hair and licked the boys face before snarling at Chris again and lunging at him. Chris side-stepped almost the same way he had on the street above, like a bullfighter dodging a bull. The fear locked inside his head told him to run, get away, something...but he knew he couldn't. There was no way he would leave Rena in this state. Luna quickly turned and lunged again. “Get out!” She roared, trying to move Chris away from Rena and her broken child. "No." He said back, amazed at the calm tone in his own voice. "I'm not leaving her like this." “Do you know how ashamed she would be if she knew you were down here?” He asked, tilting her head slightly but baring her teeth all the same. “She’d try to kill herself again-” Luna snarled at the thought, which slowly turned into a chuckle. “Oops. Except for the fact that she can’t die…” At that she lunged at him again. He dodged again. "So you'll just leave her like this? Let her slip into this state whenever she comes down here? How does that help him? How does that help her?" His calm manner was unnerving himself, but he couldn't slip from it." “She thinks this is going to save him,” She snapped, circling back around so she could put herself between Chris and the bed. “He’s the only thing keeping her sanity intact, the only thing that keeps her moving…and as long as she’s still here I’m happy.” She took a step back, crouching down and launching at him again. “So just leave her alone!” Dem had been sitting, doing what he was told. He already owed Chris enough money, that he wasn't going to get further in debt by not listening. Still, he doubted the other boy's intelligence with this one. Observe with his eyes closed? Seemed rather screwy. But he sat there, trying to see what was around him. Suddenly he could feel something, weird, pulling at him. Chaos swirling around one calm point. He jumped up and ran back into the building. He dropped through the door in the floor and almost ran into Molly. Molly hissed as he ran past, nearly making her drop the breakfast she had slaved over. “Oi! Watch it!” She called out, grumbling to herself as she set the table. Dem looked at her for a slight moment, bowed with a sweep of his hand and dropped into the hole. Below them Luna had set several of her minions in the shadows, each circling Chris to distract him while she took a few steps back to check on Rena. The fire boy moved quickly past stepping in and distracting the minions himself. Chris nodded, but stayed put, looking at Luna. Luna had turned her back for a moment, whimpering softly and gently nuzzling Rena’s hair. The girl had managed to exhaust herself and now lay limp on the bed, though her arms still held the child close to her. Luna turned and snarled at Dem when she sensed his presence, the shadows around him lashing out and gripping at his feet. Dem kicked them off. "I suggest," he said to Luna, "That you let him finish this his way. He got himself into this, he can get himself out." “He’s not supposed to be here.” She hissed, climbing onto the bed and curling around Rena protectively. “And neither are you.” Her crimson eyes flashed something close to insanity as she glared at them. Meanwhile Molly finished setting the table and was now looking down into the darkness worriedly. “Damnit…if he had just let them be for awhile they would have come up fine…” She grumbled, her ear twitching in irritation. "I'm here so you don't send him into a coma!" Dem yelled. Luna snarled at the insubordination and leapt off the bed the attack him, unknowingly leaving Rena unguarded with her child. Dem didn't dodge like Chris had. Instead he caught Luna and pinned her against the wall. Almost as calmly as Chris, but with visible restraint, Dem said, "And why are you attacking me?" Luna snapped at him, digging her claws into any part of his body she could reach. “You’re not supposed to be here!” She growled, “Take him and get the hell out! Leave my sister and her pup alone!” Dem looked at her, "I can't move him. And neither can you. At this point I think you're going to have to leave him to do things his way." Not looking at her he said, "He's completely shut down his emotions. If he keeps going like this he'll be in a coma for weeks." She struggled for a moment longer before falling back into her normal form, too exhausted to do much else except glare at him with the upmost hatred in her eyes. Dem smiled before releasing her, "You're cute when you're trying to kill people." At the comment she lashed out, her nails leaving four long bloody scratches in his cheeks. She glared at him grumbling angrily about cocky bastards as she headed back to where Rena was. Chris stood where he was for a second before he realized that he wasn't under attack anymore. The emotion and feeling slowly seeped back into his face. He slowly approached Rena and stood a foot or so away, before quietly saying her name once more. From where he stood, Dem wiped his face, and headed back up the way he came, not looking back. Rena’s eyes slowly came to fix on him and she gently pulled the child closer to her. Luna sighed and took a seat on one of the beds, munching on the bacon that had grown cold. Upon seeing Dem with the marks on his face Molly let out a bark of laugher. Dem glared at her. "Put an end to it didn't I?" Below them Chris spread his arms to show that he meant no harm, and took a half a step closer to test her reaction. Molly continued to giggle. “Hehe, looks like Luna kinda likes you.” She teased, ushering him to the kitchen table. “Most people would have been much worse off.” Rena simply stared at him, her tail twitching slightly but otherwise she was too weak to move. “If you harm this child I’ll kill you.” She murmured, but there wasn’t an ounce of threat in her voice. It was simply a fact and above all she meant it. Chris kept his hands out. "I promise you that I will do him no harm." His voice took on a British lilt in an effort to stay calm and keep his emotions at the same time. She let out a soft breath and seemed to relax a bit, her gaze still latched onto him. He came closer to her and gently touched her shoulder. Not taking his gaze off of her for a second. She remained still, though Luna tensed up slightly out of reflex as she continued to eat. Chris sat on the edge of the bed. Watching Rena closely. She was silent; resigning herself to whatever fate might throw at her until she asked. “Why am I here?” "Hm?" Chris questioned. “I…I don’t know why I’m here…” She murmured, slowly as if she were trying to understand it herself. “There was a reason…” Subconsciously she began to stroke the child’s hair. “And then…I was upset…what happened?” "Molly got frustrated with my pacing, and let me come down. After that, well...you kinda freaked out a bit...and Luna tried to protect you. Not completely sure why she stopped..." he looked at Luna, "I did see Dem down here though...I'm sorry about that...and coming down in general I suppose. I was just...worried." She blinked, slowly processing the information. “Molly has breakfast?” She asked, a grin spreading across her face. “Why didn’t you say so?” She tried to sit up but yelped as a pain shot through her body and she fell back down. Luna was at her side in an instant. “Idiot…” She grumbled, trying to find which wound hadn’t closed yet. Chris jumped too, getting as close as he could, but didn't get too close. He tried to make sure Rena was okay, but didn't want to get in Luna's way. Upstairs, Dem grumbled, "What's taking so long...?" Luna spotted something shiny sticking out of Rena’s back and gently turned her over. “Tch, you laid on the knife…” Luna shook her head and grasped the hilt before ripping it out, some of her blood landing on Luna’s arm and burning it a bit. “There. Lay here for a minute; I’ll have Molly warm up some more bacon.” With one last glare at Chris she headed upstairs, twirling the knife idly between her fingers. Chris moved quickly to Rena's side, "Are you alright hun?" Rena winced a bit, pulling the back of her shirt up to look at the wound. It was a rather deep gash placed just to the left of her spine. Any other person would have thanked the lord it hadn’t been an inch more to the right, where as Rena frowned and traced the wound tentatively with her fingers, watching as silvery liquid burned her skin before closing up without leaving a scar behind. “Yeah, it’s fine.” He kissed her forehead much in the way she had kissed his earlier. "I'm glad." He hugged her once more, before looking at the child on the bed. "He looks...peaceful."


(above them)----

"So..." Dem said, as Luna rose from the trap door. She blushed, happily accepting the affection. She then smiled down at said child, nuzzling his hair lovingly. “This is Tommy.” She murmured, placing a kiss into his hair before looking up at Chris again. “I thought I saw him smile at me today…” Her tail wagged with hesitant optimism. “My Tom-tom might still be in there…” Luna cast him a quick glare before going to the sink to wash the knife off. “Hey!” Molly stood up, eyes wide. “Is that one of my knives?” Luna paused before glancing back at Molly. “Course not.” She snapped. “You think I’m stupid enough to put Rena’s blood on something we eat with? It’d kill us all!” She snorted, and when Molly sighed and went back to eating Luna slid the knife back into the block where she found it. Chris slid his arms around her in a hug


"----

Dem almost chocked, as he saw Luna put the knife in the block, but he quickly went back to eating. Ignoring the weird stare he was given. Thinking of something he rose and stood next to Luna. "You won't...tell anyone...that I protected Chris...will you?" he whispered. Rena nuzzled his cheek affectionately and gave it a quick peck. “Now we better go upstairs before Luna eats all my bacon!” Luna blinked before smirking evilly at him. “I might use it for blackmail later, but no. Not yet.” She whispered back, taking a seat and picking up a piece of bacon. Chris smiled at that then turned and led her up the stairs. Dem looked at the girl smiling, "Evil little thing." Rena took a moment to tuck Tommy into his bed and slid the wall that hid him back into place before allowing Chris to lead her up. Luna snorted softly. “More than you know.” She mumbled around a piece of bacon, only to be surprised when Rena snatched the part that wasn’t in her mouth away. “My bacon!” Luna pouted before ginning and lunged at Rena, tackling her to the floor and wrestling with her for the piece. Both boys looked at the plate of bacon sitting on the table. Each one grabbed a piece and moved away from the scuffle on the floor. Luna managed to wiggle away enough to put the piece in her mouth and then stuck her tongue out at Rena. “Oh hell no…” Rena murmured, a dangerous look in her eyes that made Luna very, very, VERY afraid. “Rena…please…be reasonable…” She said hurriedly, backing up as much as she could before Rena pounced and attacked her stomach. “Nuuuuu!” She squealed, thrashing about as Rena tickled her relentlessly. Molly shook her head at them. “Quick, eat the bacon before they come back.” She whispered, reaching for more. Chris and Dem looked at each other, nodded quickly, and each grabbed several more pieces of bacon that they began eating at a greatly increased pace. Both watched the two girls on the floor, although each had a slightly different spot that they were looking at, and only one allowed his gaze to linger for longer than a second. When Rena was satisfied she sat back on her haunches, smirking evilly at her superior. “You…bitch…” Luna panted, glaring at Rena. “Oh…but I’ll get you back…yes…” She grinned as well, causing Rena to pale considerably. “Hey guys, the bacon’s almost gone!” Molly called, waving the last piece over her head. Chris and Dem each grabbed for it. Almost perfectly they split it along the center, each grabbing half. And at that moment Rena and Luna went sailing over the table to attack Molly. The three went tumbling from the chair, rolling around on the floor without the two realizing the bacon was no longer in Molly’s grasp. Karen pouted and got up. “I wanna play too!” She whined, joining the fray. Chris backed away, still holding the piece of bacon. Dem just stood staring, then shook himself out of his daze and backed away too. He missed the slight action as Chris swallowed his piece of bacon. After a moment the four wound up realizing they weren’t getting anywhere and glared at the only person who still had some bacon. Rena narrowed her eyes and stood up, picking Luna up with her and tossing her across the room to retrieve the bacon or at the very least distract him. Dem looked down at the bacon in his hand and gulped, in a very cartoon fashion, as Luna came hurtling towards him. Luna collided with him at that moment, managing to keep herself from falling by clinging to his shoulders and shoving her booted feet into his stomach. He almost collapsed with her impact, but recovered, and recomposed his annoying attitude. "We really should stop doing this love." Before she could say a word, he popped the piece of bacon into her mouth, and unceremoniously lifted her off of him, and set her on the table. She scowled at him whilst the girls exchanged looks. Rena came over to Luna, perching on the table and sniffing her tentatively. “What?!” Luna snapped, nearly knocking her off the table. Rena simply grinned and shook her head, rubbing her cheek against Luna’s shoulder before leaning up to whisper. “Oooh…Venn's gonna be so jealous…” At that Luna shoved her off the table and stormed into the upstairs area. Rena grinned from her spot on the floor, her tail wagging as she rolled over and watched Luna head up the stairs. Dem, paused, then realized what Rena might possibly mean. He quickly walked up the stairs after Luna. Chris had jumped to the same conclusion, but looked to Rena questioningly anyways. "What?" Rena made a soft humming noise before shaking her head. “Nothin love.” She smiled at him before starting to clean off the table. Molly and Karen soon joined, knowing Rena was going to be in for a hell of a night when Luna got through with her. Upstairs Luna stood at the window, grumbling every curse word she knew after Rena’s name. Dem came up the stairs, with no hint of the silence he had learned from Chris. "Luna?" he asked quietly, although he could tell where she was. She glanced back at him, arching an eyebrow. “Yeah, what?” She asked, turning and leaning against the window sill. "I..." He cursed himself silently. Despite his being able to flirt just fine, he was hopeless when it came to being serious. He forced himself to finish, "heard what Rena said. And if it's what I think well..." he trailed off again, actually blushing although he turned to hide it. She glanced away, folding her arms over her chest. “Yeah, I was hoping you weren’t serious when you were…” She cleared her throat and looked back at him. “Right…well…get the others. We’re gonna get going soon.” He nodded, "I wanted to apologize. I'm sorry." His head hung in a boyish manner, that seemed very opposite of his usual confidant, arrogant, bastard. She nodded. “Don’t worry about it.” She said, a soft smile appearing on her face. “I’m too old for you anyways.” He cocked an eyebrow, in the same way that most guys seemed to be able to and said, "Pardon?" She shook her head at him. “Just go get the others.” She waved him off, turning back to the window. He bowed dutifully to her back and retreated back down the stairs. "Hey, " he said to those who were still downstairs, "Luna wants everyone to come up." Chris rose first and made his way up to Dem's shoulder whispering, "Done already are we?" The look on Dem's face could have killed, but he didn't raise a hand to his "teacher." Rena and the other female population filed up the stairs obediently, and upon reaching the top Rena was met with a hard slap from Luna. As Rena sulked in a corner Luna dusted her hands off, already feeling a bit better. Chris looked up and went to hug Rena before looking up and saying, I suppose you want the plans Jalathas came up with?" She nodded. “They’d be useful if we planned on going anytime soon.” She pointed out, taking a seat on the window sill and casually crossing one leg over the other. "Alright." Chris grabbed the bag that he had brought back with him and opened it. "First off, hands free wireless communication. Sort of like you may've seen in the movies." He passed out the equipment from the bag. Rena blinked curiously as she looked hers over, wondering how on earth she’d manage to fit it in her ear without it getting lost as did Molly and Karen. Luna sighed, fingering the little piece of technology gently. “You three are going to have to find a way to fit these in without hurting yourselves…” After a moment she paused and looked up at Rena. “And by the way, Rena. Since when have you started wearing your ears so much?” Rena frowned and looked up at them, fingering them gently. Chris chuckled and pulled out another piece of equipment, which he set on the table. Fiddling with the settings, he observed the discussion. “Ever since we found that lab underground I haven’t been able to put them back…” She pouted, a great amount of concentration and focus crossing her features before she sighed and looked back at Luna sadly. “They don’t wanna go back…” Luna hummed softly and tapped her chin. “I’ll have to look into that later. For now we’ll just deal with it.” Chris set the dials and Jalathas' face popped up, three dimensional. "Hey J. You're on." Dem said quickly. Jalathas smiled and he nodded. "Okay, I'm bringing up a map then." His face disappeared and a map of the city replaced it. "You guys already said that you're here. I've found three entrances to this place, and as I said, three containment areas." He grimaced. "Actually there's technically two entrances, but I'm going to have to have one team use the emergency exit...that'll be hairy." “Oh right. Teams.” Luna tapped her chin again. “I wanna stay with Luna!” Rena whined, clinging to her masters legs. Said woman rolled her eyes. “You’ll go where we put you! Quiet!” Rena whimpered softly and rested her chin on Luna’s knee. Chris said, "I thought about that." Rena looked up at Chris, smiling and wagging her tail happily. Jalathas continued, "You've got three entrances to work with. There's a worker entrance north west of the emergency exit. About here." A spot on the map flashed, and Chris nodded. Jalathas continued, "There's the emergency exit that I mentioned, and then there's the way Chris and Rena originally came in." Chris stopped him. "Nobody's using that entrance. It's dangerous, and they know that we came through there before. It'll be more heavily guarded." Luna frowned. “But isn’t that what they want us to think?” Chris nodded. "In normal conditions I'd send someone that way anyway, but the path's too dangerous. As it is, I think we should send myself and you," he nodded at Luna, "Through the worker's entrance. I'd send Dem, but I think he'll do better under fire." Jalathas nodded, "The other four can go in the emergency exit, you'll be attracting some attention though. I suggest two of you-" Chris interrupted. "-Dem and Rena-" "Deal with any attention you might get, while the other two get people out." Chris nodded. "Luna and I will get to the main system. I'll plug J in and let him hack it, and we can figure out where the other containment areas are, then we'll meet up with you and get the remaining prisoners out." Molly cautiously raised her hand. “Where should we transport the prisoners when they get out?” She asked, her tail tapping the floor idly. “Yeah, there isn’t enough room here.” Rena pointed out, though still excited that she’d get to intercept the people that would try to stop them. "Hm...true..." Chris was stumped for a minute. "Jalathas, what do you have in facilities?" "Well, nothing here." Chris sighed. "But there's a place I've got here where you can move them. It's an old mansion, there's a secret passage to a humungous basement. The switch is in the picture above the hearth in the den." Chris stared at him, "Never give me the key, but when it involves girls...." his complaint dissolved into mumbling. Rena and Karen giggled whilst Luna rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’ll work fine.” Luna murmured, resting her head in her hands. “So shall we get going?” Chris nodded, "Aye." He tossed Dem a curved piece of metal. "Energy bow. Use it first. You're durable, but not as much as her." He nodded to Rena, before turning to leave. Rena tilted her head slightly before jumping up and glomping Chris from behind. “Be safe.” She murmured, and hesitated before letting go. He nodded. "You too." He looked at Dem. "Patience, my friend. Don't forget to aim." He then gestured to Luna, "If you would grab the card from J's console. We'll need that for him to hack in." He looked around the room once more. "Be safe all of you. If something goes wrong, do not be afraid to pull back." With that he left the room. Luna sighed as she got up, gently ruffling Rena’s hair as she passed and retrieved the card Chris had requested before following him out. Rena whined softly, looking to her remaining companions for guidance. Molly gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, they’ll be fine. For now let’s concentrate on our job.” She suggested, climbing to her feet and helping Rena up. Dem nodded, "Chris' come out of everything I've seen him do so far. Usually without a scratch. The guy's got a luck streak like no other. He'll be fine." Rena pouted and folded her arms over her chest, her tail flicking slightly before falling into a soft sway. “He’d better.” She grumbled before turning and heading towards the pipe. “Right, let’s get going.” She smiled back at them before slipping into the narrow entrance with the others close behind. The forest bordering the town was relatively silent save for the chirping of birds flitting about their business and the rustling of leaves above. The large party had managed to make it to the emergency exit Chris and Rena had escaped from without notice and were now preparing to start their attack. “Do you think we’re supposed to wait for a signal or something?” Karen asked, her tail wrapping around her leg in the form of a nervous habit. “I don’t know.” Rena replied, grabbing hold of one of the chains they used to close the exit, “I wonder if these work both ways…” She gestured for Molly to take the other and after a few tugs with no results Rena became fed up and simply ripped the metal lid out of the ground, no doubt setting off alarms of all sorts. “Eh, may make their job a bit harder, but at least Luna will be able to get passed.” Molly mumbled as she and Karen followed Rena’s lead and dropped down the hole into the dreadful dungeon below. Dem descended into the hole, he looked at the three girls standing before him. "You just....with...wow..." Getting a hold of himself, Dem raised the "bow" and pulled his fingers across as if nocking an arrow, as he did so, a thin strand of light blazed into being. Dem took his position aiming at the top of the stairway. "You best start getting people out. Quickly. Those alarms will be bringing people down on our heads in no time." Rena grinned darkly and crouched down to hide just out of sight next to the stair way, more than ready to catch any stragglers Dem might miss with his bow. Her fingers lengthened, slowly taking the form of her claws as she waited eagerly for the first battalion. Whilst Rena and Dem were taking position at the entrance Molly and Karen quickly got to work dismantling the doors to release the captives inside. There was a noise at the top of the stairs as the first group of men came barreling down. Dem released shot after shot, his first hit true, toppling his target, but his haste caused his aim to falter. He stopped a moment and then took aim once more, selecting a target before firing. His speed slightly reduced, he continued taking down the huge beefy creatures that passed for men. A feral grin spread over Rena’s face as Dem took down most of the men, their bodies falling onto their comrades and slowing the movement of the advancing group. Her tail twitched in anticipation and she let out a shuddering breath before launching herself up the stairs. Blood and body parts flew this way and that as Rena became a blood soaked blur amongst the paChrising men. The two girls paused in their work to watch the slaughter before continuing on, attempting to avoid the destruction the best they could. Dem continued firing, being careful not to hit the blurring figure ripping apart the mass of guards. He wouldn't want to harm her. For all Chris' empty threats, he would follow through if his emotions were high enough. One of the figures took a swing at Rena's temporarily exposed back. Dem shot him and he crumpled to the ground. Chris wants me to protect her. Just like I would want him to protect.... He shook off the rest of the thought. He didn't need that right now. All it would do would be effect his aim.

A ways away Chris and Luna were approaching their target, an employee entrance. The gate was in the middle of nowhere, and the fence surrounded what seemed to be a giant elevator lift. The entire thing could have been nothing more than a mining site. Two guards stood alert as the two approached. Luna frowned at the sight, muttering under her breath crabbily and discreetly securing the guards by capturing their shadows so they couldn’t escape. Chris quickly slipped past the guards, not even glancing at them. He waved Luna into the lift grabbing a long coat from a pile of uniforms in the corner. It wasn't a lab coat; it reminded him of the trench coat Rena had worn when he first met her. Only this one was white. Luna strode into the lift, sliding one of the jackets on as she surveyed the ironwork of the machine. She buttoned the first three from the collar and left the rest open, leaving more than enough room to move around comfortably. Chris glanced at Luna carefully before hitting the activation button on the lift. As it started descending he glanced at her again; nervously. Breathing a sigh through her nose Luna folded her arms and leaned against one of the walls, her thoughts in another dimension entirely. She paid little attention to Chris, focusing on the soft voice that echoed through her head filling her in on what was going on with the other team as well as the things she was missing back at the main base. She’d need to get back as soon as she was done here, perhaps bringing Rena as well if she was needed. Chris watched her carefully, seeing her drifting thoughts, he bit his lip before attempting conversation. "You alright?" The silence past the alarms was unnerving. She was slightly startled when he spoke but nodded and let out another breath. “Just…thinking.” She replied, the voice silencing itself so she could think properly. "About?" his tone was even although his breath was a little shallow, from nerves more than anything else. She frowned and glared at him out the corner of her eye. “It’s none of your concern.” She mumbled, shifting again and the voice added something rather important in its report. “Can’t this thing go any faster?” She pushed off the wall and paced the small space restlessly, her small fear of closed in spaces showing through her anxiety. Chris moved around a minute. As the lift kept lowering he paced. Suddenly they were lowered into a gigantic room. The white walls showed nothing. and there was only one door on each. The lift settled and opened its gate. "Be careful how loud you voice your requests." Chris said carefully. Then, reaching to his belt, he flipped on the microphone and earpiece. "We're in J." Luna nodded vaguely as she stepped out of the shaft, not moving far enough to set off any more alarms, but enough that she could be in the larger space. There was a buzzing from the earpiece and Chris pulled it from his ear. "Looks like we're flying blind." “Are we too far underground or something?” She asked, following Chriss lead to fill the silence as she scanned the room for anything she deemed suspicious. "Quite possibly" he said. "Jalathas may be able to hear us, but I doubt it." He spoke into the mic once more. "J, if you can hear us, you need to know that we can't hear you. We're going to keep going." He switched of the whole system and stuffed it under the clothing in the lift, before closing the door. “So. Which way?” She asked, tilting her head towards the doors. “I’m open for suggestions.” He shrugged and started for a random door. Pressing his ear against it he listened before doing the same to each of the other three. Luna stayed by the lift, leaning against it comfortably and silently sending out a few minions to scout ahead in all directions. It’d probably be the easier way of finding which door to take, but Chris seemed to know what he was doing so she sent them to check for traps and to dismantle them ahead of time. Chris finally approached the door on their immediate left. "The main control center should be this way. The others are in the complete opposite direction." She nodded and stood back up. “Let’s get going then.” She walked up behind him and reached over to open the door. Chris reached to do the same, then noticed that the door had no clear opening mechanism. "Lockdown..." He swore quietly. Luna frowned before pulling her hand back and gingerly placing it on Chriss shoulder, wrapping them both in darkness and traveling as a shadow under the door. After weaving through the halls, passing through more hallways, inspecting the doors in numerous rooms, and traipsing through out the complex, Chris stopped at a door. "This is the main control center." He paused at the keypad- this was a regular door, not a security one, and thus there was a keypad- and then turned back. "Dem's in trouble." Luna frowned and turned to look back the way they came, tilting her head in a very Rena-ish way. “How can you tell?” She asked before turning back to the door and inspecting the keypad. He sighed. "I can read emotions. Not just when I'm with someone, but even when I'm far away. It's how I tracked Rena awhile ago. I've known Dem since we were kids. I know when he's in danger." He paused for a minute. "Give me J's computer chip." She hummed in understanding and fished the chip out of her pocket before throwing it to him. “That must be both a great gift and a burden.” She said softly, turning back towards the way they had come once again. “I’ve known Rena ever since we were…very young, and I still can’t tell what she’s thinking most of the time.” She paused and frowned again. “Unless of course it’s bacon or something stupid like that, then it’s written all over her face.” Chris actually laughed at that. Rena had been right that first day, going a long time without laughing was bad. Just a few hours had felt horrible. "Listen. You can fight. I can't. Go." He hesitated. "I can't read you well enough, so I don't know if you care, but even if you don't...I do. Dem's my friend, even if he is an asshole most of the time." She shifted slightly and glanced back at him. “You sure you can handle this on your own?” She asked, conjuring up another minion to stay with him and summon her or Rena if he needed help. "Yes. It's relatively clear from here on out." He punched a couple buttons on the keypad then turned. "And he does like you. I've never seen a stronger feeling from him in my life." With that he punched the final button and slipped inside, the door sliding mechanically shut behind him. As the door slid shut the shadow she summoned slipped in and Luna let out a rather depressed sigh. “But he’s not supposed to…” She grumbled to herself as she shifted back into the shadows and darted back to the place Rena and the others were supposed to be. Upon reaching the large room with the lift she discarded her white coat before heading off in the direction of the slaughter. Not far away, Dem stood, bleeding. He had been cut and stabbed several times, and had taken to using his "bow" as a club. Rena had disappeared down the corridor looking for the other containment areas Jalathas had mentioned and not yet come back. Soon after she did, swarms of guards had descended upon him. He slammed the bow into the side of another one and he went down. He wasn't sure where Molly and Karen had gone. Probably to get the prisoners to the safe house. All the same he was starting to weaken. The pain was getting to him. At the back of his mind he wondered if Luna was alright, but was brought back to the present as a blade descended into his side. At the top of the stairs several dying screams echoed into the bloody chamber and a severed head rolled down the stairs as Luna stepped into view. She surveyed the destruction with a proud smirk before lifting her arm and pointing down the stairs. As the gesture was made a swarm of shadow fiends erupted from behind her and flooded down the stairs, consuming the bodies of the men that littered the floor both dead and alive. Dem curled his arms around him as the shadows swarmed around, hoping Luna knew what she was doing, and that he wasn't going to die. Luna descended the stairs casually despite the utter chaos around her, coming to a stop in front of Dem’s wounded form. She tilted her head slightly as she looked down on him, several shadow fiends coming to inspect him before scurrying off to the corpses that needed to be disposed of. “They won’t hurt you.” She pointed out as she bent down, trying to get a good look at his wounds. “Where’s Rena at? She’d never let this happen if she were here. They would never get close enough.” The boy instinctively leaned towards her. It was embarrassing to him to be seen in such a weak state. Only one other person had truly seen him weakened and that was Chris. The guy hadn't seen him physically harmed though. Only mentally, and emotionally weak. "She went to find the next group of prisoners...everything was fine when she left." He spat blood. She frowned, moving back slightly so she wouldn’t get blood on her. Unlike her counterpart who seemed to love being bathed in the blood of others Luna was rather fiChrisy and disliked the awful stain it left. “I see.” She considered calling Rena to her, but figured that she would be quite busy on her own. “And where’d Molly and Karen get off to?” She looked down the hallway for any sign of the other girls but was only met with the sight of many open doors and many trails of bloody footprints. She hummed softly and without waiting for an answer reached into a small pouch attached to a belt around her leg, pulling out a vial of silver liquid. “Drink it.” She instructed, opening his palm and placing it inside. “It burns like acid but it’ll heal you completely after.” The boy looked at her like she was crazy, but drank it down. Unlike Chris, he managed to stay still, but the immense pain showed behind his eyes. After it had passed, he looked at her again. "Damn this." He leaned against a nearby pile of rubble. She smiled slightly as his wounds began to close up, leaving no trace behind, and stood up while dusting her pants off. “Right then, let’s go find Rena before she decides to blow this place up.” She mumbled, calling the shadows back to her. They had left the room spotless, not a drop of blood was left from the lake that seemed to be forming earlier. She glanced down the hallway for any stragglers before heading towards the stairs. Chris had snuck into the control room with no trouble. He plugged Jalathas' card into the main computer and waited as it loaded and the slightly older boy's face flashed onto the screen. "Okay J. You're on." There was a nod and the screen flashed blank again, before lines of code started streaming across it- aiming to hack the system. There was a slight noise from behind Chris before his head was slammed into the wall. Luna simply nodded and started down the hallway that was once riddled with bodies. After wandering a bit she found the beginning of the trail Rena was leaving towards the next containment area, namely, a trail of blood and flesh and claw marks along the walls. As Luna walked several shadows took form around her and began to devour the left over bodies. She sighed and ignored them, knowing it had been ages since they had come across a feast like this and were insatiable when it came to blood lust. Just as she turned the next corner her body collided with a bloody blur. Rena and Luna tumbled over each other until they managed to slam into a wall with a painful sounding crack, Rena clawing frantically at the floor in an attempt to escape while Luna held her down. “Rena! What the hell!” She shouted, clearly agitated that her clothing had been smeared in blood when she had been so careful not to get herself dirty. Rena didn’t bother explaining and jumped up, Luna squeaking and clinging to her back as she took off in the opposite direction they were previously heading. Down the hallway stood the lone shadow fiend Luna had sent to guard Chris when she left, chewing innocently on some poor mans arm. Dem saw the two take off and sighed. "Can't there be a calm moment for once?" he grumbled, before he too took flight down the hallway. Luna tightened her grip on Rena who skidded around corners in her mad dash to find the control room. The shadow fiend had come to her, passing through the walls in its hurry and unable to find Luna, when another presence had entered the room. Upon hearing the news she had bolted out the door leaving Molly and Karen to fend off the few men that were left and finish moving the rest of the prisoners.

Rena snarled as she skid to a stop in front of the control room door, slashing through it easily and jumping through the hole she made.

The room was empty except for a lone, confused guard. He looked around at the noise of the door being destroyed and started towards Rena, Dem, and Luna. Halfway to the door he fell, a knife poking out of his back. Rena stood for a moment, her tail still bristled and stiff with rage and her clothes still soaked in blood, before letting out a slow even breath and falling back. Luna quickly jumped off her back in time to catch her, finding her friend had fallen into a state of unconsciousness from exhausting herself. She shook her head at her before dragging her over to a wall to wake her up. Chris almost literally flew from his hiding spot in the shadows of the room. Stopping just before where Luna stood, almost tripping over her in his urge to get close to the girl, to make sure that she was alright. Luna swatted at him to make him back off before turning back to Rena and shaking her roughly. “Oi! Dipstick! Wake up!” She frowned and roughly yanked on her pony tail of emphasize her point. Rena’s head rolled about limply showing no signs of waking, though she seemed to stir slightly at the pain of her hair being pulled. Chris shoved Luna away. Moving to Rena's side he gently shook her a moment. As Luna moved back towards them Dem grabbed her wrist. Then the other. "He's not used to having to compete with you. Leave it be." Luna glanced back at Dem in a half hearted glare but said nothing and didn’t try to go back to Rena’s side. Rena mumbled softly and turned her head towards the sound of his voice, her ears twitching ever so slightly. Chris shook her again, "Rena. Rena.." Her eyes fluttered slightly before opening and staring sleepily at the other occupants of the room. Upon seeing Chris she smiled and wagged her tail happily, despite being overly exhausted and in desperate need of more sleep. She then turned her attention to Luna and Dem and opened her mouth to say something when she noticed their position and a sinister smirk spread across her face instead.

Luna blinked several times in confusion before realizing Dem still had a grip on her wrists. She hurriedly wrenched them away, grumbling under her breath and rubbing them in an attempt to get his scent off of her.

A hurt look crossed Dem's face and he stared at Luna- not realizing his action- standing stock still. Chris helped Rena into a sitting position, making sure she was okay before crossing back to the computer. Luna didn’t notice his expression but Rena did. She shakily climbed to her feet and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “You don’t understand our society.” She whispered, casting a glance at Luna. “You see, since Venn is her mate she could be executed if they thought she had been…” She tried to think of a better way to explain it but found none.”…unfaithful.” Dem nodded slowly, but his hands were fists. He turned his attention the same direction Chris had- the code scrolling across the computer screen. Rena sighed softly and wandered over to Luna, taking her wrists and rubbing them against her cheeks to mask the scent. Luna sighed as well. “You know that’s not gonna help…” She mumbled, though she appreciated what she was trying to do. “I know…but still. Maybe it won’t be so bad?” Rena smiled as her other tisked and took her hands back. Dem looked worried, although that could have just been how long they had remained in the room. Chris watched the lines of code a moment more, before crossing to the body of the guard and removing the knife. He then turned back as Jalathas' face finally blinked back onto the screen. "Done. I've hacked the system." Rena tilted her head slightly before comprehension dawned on her and a look of complete horror crossed her face. “Oh! I left Karen and Molly alone!” She jumped from one foot to the other and turned to bolt back down the hall when Luna grabbed onto her tail halting any and all movement and leaving her frozen in place. “Cool it, they’ll be fine.” Luna snapped, yanking her closer and sweeping her feet out from under her so she would be sitting. “You just passed out; calm down or you’ll be in even worse shape when we get back.” Chris nodded, "Please no more passing out?" He swatted Dem. "Go make yourself useful and go get them." Chris turned to the screen, "We still have two rooms to go don't we? Where are they." Jalathas started pushing buttons on his keyboard muttering, "Just a second." Dem started to slink out. Looking at Luna once more, trying to get her to look his way, talk to him, something... As he was leaving something compelled Luna to look his way but when she caught his gaze she suddenly felt extremely guilty just for existing. She turned her gaze down and focused on stroking Rena’s hair, the comforting gesture causing her friend to hug her legs and wag her tail happily. Dem saw the look on Luna's face as he left and wished he'd just gone. He quickly scurried from the room. Jalathas continued to mutter and type. A moment later Dem returned. "They were already on their way here. Just didn't know which room." He held the door open and ushered Molly and Karen in. Molly shuddered as she tried to wring some of the blood from her clothes whilst Karen looked as though she might pass out altogether. Neither girl had as high a tolerance for blood as Rena did when on a mission, so it was clear that all the killing was taking a toll on them. Molly took a seat next to Rena and also clung to Luna’s legs, purring softly for attention. Karen quietly dismissed herself to a shadowy corner where she could rest and shake off the dizziness the blood was causing. Jalathas quickly brought up a map of the place on the screen. "The next containment room is here guys. Just follow the open doors. The last one is here, when you're done." Two rooms flashed in the order that he mentioned them. Chris nodded. "Alright. We're sticking together as much as possible this time. If we're careful, no one gets hurt." There was a banging on the door they needed to go through. Chris looked at Rena. "Ready to go?" Dem grabbed his bow from the ground, already aiming at the door. Rena nodded eagerly and jumped up, claws spread and ready for action. Luna smiled and shook her head at her while Molly whined her discomfort but got up anyways, followed by a drowsy Karen who grumbled but followed Rena’s lead and created an eerie neon green light that surrounded her hands and reeked of the deadly substance that was nuclear waste. Chris shuddered, but gestured towards the computer screen. There was a beep and the door opened. As guards came tumbling in, Dem let loose several arrows. Guards fell at an astonishing rate, but he couldn't keep up. The other girls hung back as Karen and Rena bolted towards the doors, the men falling in great numbers with the combined effort of the teams most deadly weapons. Chris- suddenly confidant- dove towards the mass of bodies. Time seemed to stop for him as he weaved in between the men and landed behind them. He pulled out his knife and had slashed the throats of many of the guards before any realized what was happening. He quickly darted back into the room as he heard footsteps. Dem had ceased firing- afraid of hitting someone- and instead just stared at- or was it past- the carnage. Chris watched his gaze seeing his eyes look straight at, and yet through the situation before him. Nearly seconds later the hall was devoid of life. Karen and Rena returned to the control room to gather up the others, Karen with a slight sway in her step while Rena seemed as hyper as ever. Molly and Luna held Karen up and started towards the door while Rena bolted back out into the hallway to scout ahead and take care of any guards that were lingering around the corner. The two boys started to follow. One at a nudge from the other. And moved along quickly. Jalathas had done well, and all they truly had to do was follow the open doors. Soon they hit another set of stairs. Rena already stood at the bottom, shifting uneasily and waiting for the others to come down. Once Molly and Luna had set Karen down against a far wall and well out of sight so she could rest they immediately started working on the doors to get the prisoners out. Chris looked around. He didn't see how he could be needed here. He descended the steps and crossed to Rena. "We should find the next room." Rena took a quick glance at the rest of her group who were working diligently to release the prisoners and nodded. “Alright, let’s go.” She gave him a slightly shaky smile but proceeded back up the stairs, still trying to shake off the fatigue she was feeling. When they had reached the top of the stairs, Chris stopped for a minute. "Rena?" he asked cautiously. She paused and turned to look at him, tilting her head slightly. “Yes?” "I..." he paused, a horrible habit he realized, laughing at the terribly misplaced timing of the thought, "Luna said something about you not being able to die...the other day...and well...I...that is..." he stopped again to recollect his thoughts. She shifted slightly and looked down. “Yes… Immortality is a terrible thing.” She said softly, but when she looked up there was a small smile on her lips. “If you need to ask something, go ahead. I’ll answer the best I can, but we should keep moving.” She pointed out, jerking her head slightly in the direction they needed to go. He nodded, "Well...I'm not immortal and if something happens I just want you to..." he had been moving closer during this last bit and was only a few inches from her face as he trailed off. Suddenly though he turned once more, whether from embarrassment or a stray noise even he wasn't completely sure. Rena let out the breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding and continued to stare at him, examining his expression closely. “Chris…look at me.” She said softly, her smile still warm though she listened carefully for any stray sounds around them. He did. Holding her gaze made his heart flutter, and he almost looked away again. But he was able to look. A soft light danced in her eyes when he met her gaze and her smile grew a little wider. “Even though nothing’s going to happen to you…” She leaned forward so her face was nearly an inch away from his. “I suppose you could use this for good luck.” And with those words she closed the distance and gently caught his lips in an innocent kiss. Chris stayed there a moment. Pulling back he said, "I sure hope not." Before giving her a kiss back. She gently broke the kiss and took a step back, a deep blush painting her cheeks as a shy smile played on her lips. “Well, we should go then…” She said softly, turning to continue down the hall as she subconsciously fingered the length of her ponytail in a nervous habit. Chris followed quickly, blushing as well, although he tried to cover it. They slipped down the corridors and Chris took the lead, not pausing once to orient himself, and soon they were at another stair. Her blush had faded upon reaching the stairs, replaced by an even paler complexion than her usual one. She sent him a small smile before heading down into the darkness below, reaching out and placing her palm against the wall to steady herself. Chris headed down the stairs as well, almost tripping. It was darker in the room than he'd realized, and he wondered why. Then he noticed, none of the machines were giving off any light. "Rena...I think there's something wrong here..." Rena frowned, her tail beginning to bristle in her unease as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. “Do you think we should call for backup?” She asked softly, subconsciously moving closer to him for a bit of reassurance and to make sure she could reach him if needed. There was a laugh from the darkness and the door slammed shut. "I don't think you're going to have a choice dearies." Lights sprang on, temporarily blinding the pair, and the woman from before stepped forward. Chris cursed as he saw lines of guards, prepared to...do something. Kill them? Capture them? He wasn't sure. Rena hissed slightly at the pain the light brought to her newly adjusted eyes before outright snarling at the woman and her guards. Her claws fanned out and glistened in the light with the blood of the fallen guards from before. She may not last the entire fight, but at the very least she could take down most of the guards before she went down. Chris put his shoulder on Rena's shoulder. "Keep her talking." he murmered. "Even if they don't get here...it'll give you some time to regain your energy." He looked at the woman. "What do you want from us? It's my understanding that there used to be some type of treaty between us." The woman chuckled. "That was before I was in charge. I see what profit you little darlings will bring us, and I've decided that I don't keep treaties with animals." Chris silently slid his knife from his pocket. Rena growled angrily, eyes going slightly feral as they locked on the woman. “You humans will never learn!” Horrible memories passed before her eyes along with the vivid image of her nephew’s body laying in torn pieces on a cold bloody floor. “We made that treaty with your ancestors to keep something like this from happening. You don’t bother to think of the people involved, that these people could have families waiting for them to come home.” Her body shook, though out of sadness of anger even she couldn’t tell. Chris' face had gone grave. No emotion showed whatsoever. He just glared at the horrid woman. "The woman in question said, "They knew what the price might be when they signed on. It's not my fault that you're so blood thirsty." Chris spoke again, in amazingly calm tones, "They were willing to take a risk, not throw their lives down the gutter. We did nothing short of protect ourselves, and the people that you've kept captive. Rena found it next to impossible to restrain herself from ripping the woman’s head from her neck, if only to shut her up, but waited with as much patience she could muster for some sort of signal to set her off-a signal from Chris, the cocking of a gun, anything. The woman started to open her mouth, but it seemed that Rena's signal was going to come early. Two bolts of light- one right after the other- came searing from the doorway, Hitting the guards on either side of the woman. "While I hate to enforce the fact that we have to shed blood. I figured I should mention that you are horribly outmatched." Dem stated from the doorway. As he stepped aside, Luna, Molly and Karen were revealed. He kept his bow trained on the woman's chest. Luna slunk leisurely down the stairs to Rena’s side, eyes narrowed on the woman centered around all this havoc. “Rena…doesn’t her scent seem vaguely familiar?” She asked, waiting for her to take in the scent and come to a conclusion. Rena paused and sniffed the air, letting it go through her memories in an attempt to relate it to something that could link to what Luna was referring to- and then it hit her. In a blinding flash of pain the memory brought itself back to the surface of her mind and she immediately recognized the woman’s scent. Chris breathed in deeply, not recognizing the scent. He looked confusedly at Rena, trying to figure out what it could be. He saw her emotions go haywire and it worried him, although he held his position calmly. Dem, for his part, actually remained calm as well, not moving his aim, although he too was confused. “You…” Rena’s body trembled as her emotions ran rampant through her body, though anger was defiantly the most prominent. She slowly lifted her head, eyes glowing an eerie silver that spoke volumes of her pain and anguish. “You MONSTER!” She roared, as in a blinding flash of light she reverted to her anthro self. Luna quickly grabbed onto her, motioning for the others to help hold her back. As Molly and Karen moved to contain her strings of profanities flew from Rena’s mouth as she struggled against her friends. “Rena! Don’t kill her yet!” Luna commanded, though her words seemed to fall on deaf ears as she continued to fight against them. Chris moved over with the rest of them, but he didn't grab hold of the distraught girl. Instead he stood, facing her- seemingly daring one of the human guards to take a shot at him- and spread both his arms and wings wide, effectively blocking her path. “Rena!” Luna huffed angrily. “Listen! She might be able to tell us where Casey is!” The name seemed to register in Rena’s mind as she slowly stopped struggling and stood still, towering over her friends with a sad and slightly lost expression on her face. “…Casey?” She asked softly, her head tilting so she could look down at Luna. “Yes!” Luna let out another breath and seemed to relax slightly though her grip didn’t falter. “Yes, your Casey. If this woman took her then she knows where she might be now! So don’t kill her yet!” Dem decided that he was being too quiet. Lifting his bow he said to the assembled guards. "I don't know how much you get paid for this, but it's not enough. Let it be known, that if any of you are here in five minutes...you will be executed." The guards looked around. At the group, at their fallen comrades, at their boss...and decided he was right. Deadly right. Every single one of them made a hasty retreat. Luna snorted softly at Dem’s threat, glancing over her shoulder in amusement as the guards all scurried away. She only wished they had the sense to do that in the beginning so they wouldn’t have had to go through all the trouble of killing them. A soft growl from Rena caught her attention and she looked up to find her comrade glaring at the leader woman left alone in the room. Luna narrowed her eyes and glared at the woman as well, sending out several fiends to surround her so she couldn’t escape. The woman glanced around nervously as the guards retreated from the room. "W-what are you going to do?" her voice had swiftly lost all of it's confidence. Dem walked down the stairs, standing next to the rest of the group, and finally lowering his bow- his arm had been getting tired. “The way I see it, you have two options…” Luna drawled, turning to face her while keeping a hold of Rena’s arms. “The first, is that you tell us where her other puppy is, one of two that you and your men stole from us, and we give you a quick and painless death.” Rena seemed appalled at the thought but said nothing. “The second, if you refuse to tell us…” A sadistic smirk spread across Luna’s face

“Well, I’d say you’d rather choose option one.”

The woman nervously glanced over her shoulder. That was all Chris needed, he brushed past the woman and towards the cells. Then he turned back and dropped his knife pointedly. It stuck out of the solid concrete floor. Dem followed Chris, the two falling into a rhythm of opening a door, unlocking it, helping out the occupant, and putting the door back where it belonged. Rena’s ears perked slightly as she watched Chris and Dem go through the doors, a sick feeling forming in the pit of her stomach when she saw what had happened to a few of the more aggressive prisoners. She quietly broke away from the others and padded down the hallway, lingering near the already opened doors and feeling a wave of nostalgia wash over her. As the two boys came to the end of the row of cells Chris stopped at the final door. Looking back he observed the prisoners that had already been helped. Two of them were younger girls- a fact that, coupled with their state, made Chris want to puke- and Chris looked back at Rena. "Neither of those two are her?" Rena looked over the girls and shook her head sadly before leaning down and cleaning a few of their larger wounds. The closed up rather nicely, though without the full effect of her blood there would still be scars. She sighed softly and joined Chris and Dem at the end of the hallway, her tail low and her ears drooping sadly. Chris gestured to Dem, and the two pulled the door from it's spot. Mostly Dem though, Chris hadn't been lying about his lack of strength. They set the door aside and the light from the main room gently seeped into the cell, not quite reaching halfway into the room. Rena peeked into the room and what she saw nearly made her heart stop. Huddled in the corner of the room was a small puppy, trembling in fear of the pain it had learned that came with every person that entered the room. Blood stained the beautiful white fur that was like her own in so many ways, and stormy blue eyes stared into her own fearfully. Rena fell to her knees, reverting back to her human form as she did and clutching at her chest as her heart wrenched in pain. What had they done to her? “Casey…” A slight smile creased her lips as she said the name before she reverted into her wolf form and trotted over to her. The pup whimpered when Rena nuzzled it but after a moment crawled closer and cuddled against her. Rena seemed to glow as she curled herself around the child and tenderly began cleaning its wounds. Chris motioned to Luna, before cautiously stepping into the room himself, kneeling down beside Rena, he contemplated shifting himself, but stayed human. He cautiously leaned towards the pup and stroked her fur. Instinctively Rena growled at the hand before coming to her senses and nuzzling it too before going back to her puppy. Luna sprinted down the hallway and into the room, cautiously approaching the two before kneeling down beside Rena as well. Dem stood at the door for a moment. Before walking away and sitting on the stairs near where Molly and Karen were taking care of the released prisoners. The fire haired boy sighed deeply. Molly paused in her work to watch him for a moment before continuing to move the prisoners. ‘Poor guy.’ She thought to herself absently. Luna smiled at the puppy before nudging Rena gently. “I know you’d be all too content to stay here, but…” Rena lifted her head and nodded before nudging her puppy slightly. The child soon reverted back into its human form, a small girl with long sunny blond hair and skin as pale as her aunts. Casey hugged Rena’s muzzle before stepping back and allowing her to change back as well. Now in her human form Rena picked the child up and set her on her back. “Alright, let’s get out of here.” Rena said finally, her tail wagging happily as Luna got up to lead the way out. Chris followed along silently behind, smiling. Rena was happy, for now at least, and that made him happy. As they passed the woman, who was still flanked with Luna's shadow wraiths he spoke up, "What are we going to do with her?" Luna paused and turned to glare at the woman while Casey whimpered and hid her face in Rena’s hair. “Well, I’d say a deal’s a deal…but then again, you don’t keep deals with animals, do you?” She sneered before turning and stalking away, the fiends taking the signal and swarming the woman, her screams echoing through the room as they left. Chris had grabbed his knife before they left, but turned a little green at the woman's screams and touched his hand to the wall, to keep himself steady. Dem also looked a bit sick, but kept stride. Rena said nothing of the encounter though Casey bit back a soft sob that didn’t go unnoticed by Rena. “What’s the matter Case-case?” She asked, taking a moment to readjust the girl on her back before continuing. The girl just sniffled softly and buried her face deeper into Rena’s hair, her tail curling under as she tightened her grip. Chris came up behind the two, finally having something else to concentrate on. he brought his hand up to the child's neck, running his fingers over it softly, in a calming manner. The girl sniffled again but rested her head comfortably on Rena’s shoulder as she was soothed by Chris' hand. “I-I want T-Tommy back.” She hiccupped and drew closer to her aunt. “T-they took him aunty, they took him away.” Rena’s eyes darkened before she turned her head and nuzzled Casey’s cheek affectionately. Chris continued the motion, trying to see if he could calm the child enough to get her to fall asleep. He couldn't think of what to say to the child. Any explanation would make her feel worse. “Don’t worry hun, we’ll bring him back…” She said softly, placing a tender kiss on the child’s cheek. “Just rest for now, we’ll be back home before you know it…” Casey sniffled a bit more but nodded and eventually fell asleep. Chris led the group to the main entrance he and Luna had come in. Ushering them into the lift, he noticed that Dem had placed himself in the corner, eyes closed. The boy really needs to control his emotions as much as he seems to. Chris thought. before pressing the button to return all of them to the surface. Luna stood idly in the other corner closest to Rena who rested her head against the wall to give herself a slight reprieve. Molly sank to her knees and rested her head against the wall as well, taking a long look at the child held to Rena’s back. Karen also stared at the child, leaning against the opposite wall to give the others some space. She wondered if having the two children back would be enough leverage to force Rena to come back home. Chris himself stood close to Rena his hand touching her side gently. As the lift rose, his thoughts drifted slightly and he smiled. Upon feeling the contact Rena glanced at him and smiled, eyes half closed in her fatigue. She turned her face so her cheek would rest against the cool metal of the lift’s wall and let her eyes close though her grip on the child did not falter. The lift hit the top, and Dem immediately fled from it making his way in a random direction. Chris ignored him and made sure the others were out of the lift before he started in the opposite direction from where Dem had gone, towards the safe house. As Rena made a move to follow Chris Luna placed a hand on her shoulder. “Rena…” She said softly, waiting until she turned to look at her before continuing. “You have the kids back…” At Rena’s slightly confused nod she let out a sigh. “Can’t you come home now?” Rena paled slightly and took a step back, her tail curving under as she watched them apprehensively. “But…but what about Chris…?” Rena asked, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. “I can’t just leave him here…” Chris saw them stop, but seeing the look in Luna's eye, he continued, motioning to Molly, Karen, and the ex-prisoners to follow. Molly and Karen exchanged a glance before herding the prisoners past the girls to follow Chris, deciding that this was an argument between the two that they shouldn’t interfere with. Luna sighed again and waited for Rena to calm down some before continuing. “You have work that needs to be done, we’re still at war you know…” She said softly, watching as Rena shifted Casey on her back again. “You’ve slacked off for long enough, it’s time to go back.” Chris reached the safe house and opened the door. Ushering the group inside he watched for Luna and Rena, or maybe even Dem, but didn't see any of them. Molly hung back as well while Karen started getting everyone situated, trying to see how much damage had been done and using several vials of Rena’s blood to heal the ones who were badly wounded. With a sigh Molly slid down the side of the house, glancing at Chris out the corner of her eye while listening for any signs of the others. Chris watched Molly's action then went back outside. Flapping his wings he flew to the roof of the building. He looked up at the cloudy sky, then down at the ground, hoping for some type of movement. After about twenty minutes he dropped back down to the ground, where he fell into a heap by the doorway, nearly mimicking Rena's position of exhaustion. Molly jumped slightly, glancing over at him again when he landed. After a moment of silence she sighed and attempted some conversation. “They’ll be back later I suppose.” She said softly. “Luna had something important to discuss with Rena.” He nodded, as rain started falling. "I'm worried as to what that might be." Her ears drooped slightly and she contemplated her next statement. “Chris…how long did you plan on Rena being around?” She asked, tilting her head slightly and thumping the ground with her tail. He shrugged. "I hadn't really thought about it until now." His eyes stung, but he refused to let weakness show. She nodded slightly and leaned her head back against the wall. “Truthfully…Rena isn’t even supposed to be in this world. None of us are.” She tapped her fingers against the wall she was leaning on, keeping time with the rain. “The problem is that she has always had a sort of connection to it and we always had to hunt her down to take her back home…and then after the kids were taken we couldn’t get her to leave…” She waited a moment to see if he would put the two together. Chris ignored the message behind that comment. Leaning silently and thinking about the first part of it. She breathed a sigh through her nose and closed her eyes. “Luna’s probably trying to talk Rena into coming home now.” She mumbled, running a hand through her bangs as she remembered how well that had gone last time. Chris sighed, ignoring the blunt statement, that he- in truth- had picked up. "And what about me?" he shuffled his wingns purposely, "Do I belong here?" He looked at Molly, irritated for a moment, then looked away. "Sorry, not your fault." Molly frowned and watched him for a long moment. “No, I suppose you don’t…” She said softly, resting her head on her knees. “And it’s a real shame too.” He looked up at her, questioning, before going back to his thoughts. She sighed again before standing up, dusting her pants off and heading inside. She figured she’d be busy in the kitchen for a long while and decided now was as good a time as ever to start. Before she left the room, Chris quickly stood. "Thanks Molly," he said, before giving her a quick hug and leaving into the pouring rain. Molly gave him a small smile before continuing into the kitchen. Out in the rain Rena was running, still carrying Casey on her back. She wouldn’t go back yet, they couldn’t make her. She had decided this during her argument with Luna and was now attempting to escape, though she knew she had very little chance of doing so. Dem too ran through the rain. Not sure what he had been thinking. Randomly running off wasn't usually his action. He generally stuck it out until the end. Stupid emotions, stupid girl.... silently slapping himself, he took the second one back. Seeing something that looked vaguely like Rena, he followed, hoping she would be leading him to the safe house. Luna was merely a half mile back and closing in. As much as she’d like to stay here and let Rena have her fun, they had work to do and she needed to get back as soon as possible. Grumbling to herself she sent ahead a few more shadows to slow Rena down, determined to bring her home willing or not. Dem saw the shadows following and wondered what was going on. He didn't get in their way, but followed Rena closely. Stubbornly believing that she would lead him where he wanted to go. Soon after the shadows had passed Dem a cry of pain erupted from Rena as she fell to the ground, the shadows having reached up and slashed through her legs. She wreathed in pain as she tried to locate her severed limbs, Casey crying softly as she held on for dear life. Eventually Rena’s body pulled itself back together and she was running again, wincing at the pain her blood caused while running down her legs. Dem watched this and stopped in his tracks staring outright. He didn't notice Luna running up behind him. Luna ran right past him, sending out another swarm of shadows to subdue her while growling slightly at her persistence. She knew Rena’s body would be fine, having the ability to reattach itself, it just caused a bit more pain then she was used to and would leave a few nasty marks for about a week before her body was able to respond to them. This was the only way Luna knew of slowing Rena down, since once she set her mind on something there was no turning back. As Luna passed him Dem suddenly snapped back to what was going on. He ran after her yelling, "What the fuck is going on?" Luna cast a quick glance over her shoulder at him but otherwise ignored him as another cry of pain came from up ahead. One of Rena’s arms had been severed from the shoulder down and she had to pause to reattach it so she could carry Casey. Said girl was standing under a tree to stay out of the rain, watching her aunt in horror when she screamed in pain. Luna had caught up to them quickly, slashing though one of Rena’s legs to keep her from getting up. “Rena! God damnit, look what you did! I’m all wet now!” She shouted, glaring down at the other as she looked up at her angrily. “Your fault for not bringing an umbrella!” Rena growled back, hissing in pain as her leg pulled itself back together. “Damnit Luna I don’t wanna go back!” Dem caught up to them breathing heavily. He really didn't like being ignored. "Is someone going to tell me what's going on here?" Luna turned and glared at him but it was Casey who ran up to him crying. She hugged his leg and began babbling sadly about how mean her Aunt Luna was and that her Aunt Rena didn’t wanna go back to their world but Luna said they were still at war and she needed Rena to be there so Rena ran away and Luna chased her down and made her head and arms come off because Rena wouldn’t slow down and Luna needed to catch her and put her in a bunch of different bags and take her home that way. All in one breath. Dem tried to stay neutral, his face was stony, but when he looked down at the child, he couldn't help it. Maybe I'm channeling Chris. he thought. Dem scooped the child up into his arms. "It's all right. Everything's going to be fine." Turning to Luna and Rena he said, "What's this that she's talking about." he paused, "And since Chris would want me to ask, why the he...why were you talking about it in front of her?" A rather uncharacteristic pout crossed Luna’s face. “We don’t talk about it, it just happens.” She pointed out, glancing at Rena who shuddered but nodded her confirmation. “And as for what it is she’s talking about…it’s exactly as it is.” She folded her arms over her chest as Rena shakily stood up, working the limbs that had just been detached from her body. Casey whimpered softly and held her arms out to her aunt who moved to take her back.