Author Topic: Melancholy Crossroads  (Read 883 times)

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Offline Drkchaos

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Melancholy Crossroads
« on: December 19, 2008, 05:27:13 AM »
So, I decided to give writing fan fiction a go. I'm only uploading it now because I feel that the story now has enough momentum to actually catch the interests of readers and motivate them to follow my progress...

Oh, this is my first fanfic, so yeah... please be gentle? >.>; I dunno, comments, critiques, reviews are greatly welcome.

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4725777/1/Melancholy_Crossroads

It's currently still in progress, but yeah, like I said earlier, I feel that it's developed enough for people to start reading it.

And yes, the good stuff's just getting started. ^^


Chapter One

I looked down at the blank canvas.

This is it.

This is going to be my last work, my last painting that I’m ever going to create. I sighed and picked up the brush, and gently dabbed the tip into the mix of acrylic paint that I squeezed out of the half- used tubes earlier in the afternoon.

I closed my eyes and with a swift motion, moved my brush in a horizontal firm stroke across the white surface.

*****

“Aaron…”

I looked up to my sister, who was sitting lazily on the couch as I walked in from a day at school. The lamp next to her was on, shining across her silky black hair and illuminating her grinning face. We have lived in an apartment for quite a while now, ever since Junior High.

“Aaron, aren’t you glad that I have a job and that I can support both of us?” She paused. “And of course, since today’s you’re birthday, I got you something…”

I broke into a smile, “Well, I was starting to think you forgot, considering the usual burnt eggs you made this morning!”

She stuck out her tongue childishly and laughed, “You know, I made ‘em extra crispy and black, just for you!” She paused and got up, heading towards the hallway closet near our room’s exit. “But then I decided that that wasn’t really a great present, especially when compared to that Self-painted wall scroll you made for me for my birthday…” Opening the closet, she rummaged around, “So then, I’ve always remembered when Mom and Dad would talk about how you were gifted with artistic skills… and how you loved painting…”

I raised my eyebrows and glanced at her, “You still remember Mom and Dad talking about me from that long ago? How old was I at the time?”

She shook her head as she bent down to pick up a wrapped package. It was rectangular box, wrapped plainly in a solid green. She knows my favorite color.

“Paint something for me with it, would you?” She chuckled, “Happy Birthday.”

“Thanks… It’s a new set of acrylic paints, right? I’ve always mentioned that I needed new paints… most likely I’ll just paint something and give it to you for your birthday.” I quickly tore apart the wrappings and sure enough, a new set of paints, wrapped nicely in a plastic covering and a colorful box. These were the good ones too, not the cheap brand paints which clumps easily when not in use. “Damn, these must’ve been quite pricey…”

“Eh, it’s a special occasion. Besides, I have a decent job. You just go ahead and worry about graduating High School.”

I nodded and stared at her sincerely. “One day, Hanah, one day… I’ll get famous with my art and we’ll be rich. You can bet on me.”

She giggled, “And I’ll be able to quit my job and rely on your income, huh?”

“You mocking me?”

“No, no… well, good luck with your dream, eh? I know college doesn’t interest you,” she shrugged, “I’m not like our parents, ya’ know, I believe that you should do whatever you feel best.”

“Hanah… what do you think our parents would say… you know… I mean, it’s been years. I’m a sophomore in high school now… you… you’re actually really successful supporting both of us…”

“Mmm... don’t know, Aaron… don’t know. Seems just like yesterday when you were still in elementary and I was a freshie in college.” My sister laid down on the couch, feet up on the armrest. “Whatever. It’s all in the past now. Can’t wallow in the past, right?”

I looked down at my new gift. Another year has gone by since the fire. “Yeah…” I said softly. I turned my back to the common room and walked into my room. It’s been hard on you, sis. Starting straight out of college in a crisis… you’ve done well. I closed my door and gently placed the paints on top of my drawer. Sighing, I sat down in front of my computer. The soft glow of the monitor illuminated my room. “I promise I’ll make it up to you Hanah.”


*****

It was done. The canvas was no longer white, but filled with numerous nuances of colors and blends. A painting of a shattered globe. My world. Dammit. It’s so emo. I hated emos. Am I emo? I wouldn’t forgive myself if I became one…

However, even if my painting really was damn emo, I’ve poured my emotions into it, and had used up a lot of my acrylic paints while at it. I’m basically out. Ironically, my last painting was my only painting of anguish.

I threw the painting onto the top of my bed, not waiting for it to dry. Hell, it’ll take probably a whole day to dry considering the numerous layers I’ve used. I bent down to clean up the floor around me, picking up used and rolled up tubes. These paints lasted me a year…

One whole year of despair.

The war was over, humanity has prevailed. The yeerks have lost, all thanks to the “Animorphs.” Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, Marco, and Ax. Their names have been all over the television and other media ever since the invasion of earth has officially been declared a “loss.” Hell, numerous fan sites were made for them as people worldwide learned of their secret war and deeds.

The war was over. Why am I still so depressed?

Oh, Right. The apartment. My sister. My life. That’s why I’ve decided to leave it all behind. I no longer had my sister there to support me, or to even pay for the rent of this apartment anyways. I have no relatives that I know of, and my parents… well, they’ve been gone for a good long time. I’ve got nothing to lose anymore.

Isn’t it funny? Only one whole year and you can lose everything that you had. There was always the term “**** happens,” but surely, I really doubt this much **** can happen in such a short amount of time. I glanced at the clock. It was eight forty, nighttime. This is it. I’m going to ditch everything. I wonder how the world would react to my disappearance.

Nothing would happen, I bet. Probably my apartment manager would be pissed off for just disappearing and not paying the rent and not cleaning up my place before I left. After the death of my sister, I’ve let the place go down the drain. She wasn’t there to force me to clean anymore. I shook my head. There wasn’t a point in cleaning now anyways. The whole world’s too busy celebrating with their victory. Of course, I’m quite happy for our species for defeating another which had a huge upper hand, but in these days, I just don’t quite care anymore. I walked swiftly out of my complex into the night time air. I looked up at the skies. Funny. It was a full moon. Quite fitting for what I’m about to do.

I took a deep breath, and concentrated on what I’ve done multiple times before. However, this time with my own will. I focused on the only morph that I had. I morphed into a gray wolf.


Chapter Two

I slinked silently through the night, using the refuge of shadows to conceal my presence to any cars that pass by. I was confident. I was a predator. The night air carried so many smells, some that humans have never even smelt before. I was enjoying every bit of it, stopping by anything interesting to smell it. Fallen leaves, an empty trash bag… was that the smell of the KFC that is miles away? The nose… it was amazing! This was actually my first time and last time ever morphing into a wolf on my own, and it felt great to do whatever I wanted as this animal…

*****

“Hey sis, want to go to The Sharing’s family dinner tonight?”

My mouth formed into a grin without any of my control.

“I don’t know, Aaron… I was planning on finishing off the left over chicken we had from two days ago…”

My body chuckled and shook its head at my sister, “C’mon, it’ll be fun! And you won’t have to cook! You know you want to! We can save your horrid cooking for tomorrow.”

My sister feigned a frown. “Low blow there, low blow!” She crossed her arms, “But fine, I’ll come. Funny how ever since you joined this “sharing” club you’ve always been out with friends and stuff. I didn’t even know you had friends at school!”

“Club’s great, Hanah. People there actually enjoy my art… they’re nice… real nice, ya’ know?” My arm rose up and patted her on the back. “Well, anyways, I’ll see you tonight after you get off of work then! Be prepared for a great feast!”

My sister smiled “It better be, or I’ll smack you upside the head!”

I was forced to laugh and shake my head. “So violent. Later.”

I silently screamed inside my head.

[Shut it, boy.]

[Why don’t you, you damn slug. Don’t get my sister into this crap! You already have me! How many more people’s lives are you going to ruin before this is all done? You’ve already got me… don’t bring my sister into this.]

The yeerk in my head chuckled, [Aaron, you should already know why. We need more fighters. You should be glad you’ve gotten me, Ferio 274, a leader of the yeerk scout forces. Much thanks to you, I have a supple, healthy body that is quite flexible and nimble during battle…]

[You can always get other people, yeerk, just leave my sister out of your group. She doesn’t need to become a freak that you yeerks just use and dispose… like me.]

[Scouting for the Visser is a dangerous job, Aaron, you know it first hand. Even with our morphing capabilities our forces still fail in comparison the “Animorph” numbers.] The yeerk paused and my mouth formed a sick grin. [Besides, it’s much easier to recruit family members, don’t you think? You have all their trust… only to hand them over to us in the end.]

The yeerk inside my head seems to take sick pleasure in tormenting me like this. [One day,] I started, [we’ll win.]

[Keep dreaming. You’re my morphing host used to scout the rural human areas. Know your place, boy. Look, I’m a quite merciful. I’ll request to keep your sister in my squadron under my command so you can be with her at all times.]

I fumed within my own mind. This all started when the club called “The Sharing” caught my attention on my high school campus. It was a small club at first, but soon multiplied and almost half of the school body was members in one year. I only joined because all my friends were in it. Talk about the prime example of peer pressure. I didn’t want to be the one kid left out. Hell, I was afraid to be the loner, the outcast. Funny, it was my own insecurity that led to my downfall. Now I’m screwing over my sister too. What can I do, however? I am rendered helpless, and even with the power to morph, during the yeerk’s feeding time we are enclosed in a containment room, with walls composed of deadly bio-filters…

All I can do is to hate myself and hope. I am quite aware of the resistance, the “Animorphs,” as they called themselves. People who have the ability to morph and fight back. Freedom fighters. What really sucks now, however, is that the fighting plane is leaning against them, with the yeerks acquiring the same abilities as the Animorphs possess.

[I would just stop holding out that hope of yours, Aaron, and just give up,] the yeerk stated calmly, [The so-called “Animorphs” lost their edge, and now we’ve got the advantage in just sheer numbers alone. Help’s not coming. You know it. In fact, even if they do emerge successful in sabotaging some of our plans, you’re going to help us crush them swiftly.]

I wanted to hurt this thing in my brain badly. I wanted to rip it apart, to crush it under the soles of my feet…

But all I could do was writhe in agony within the recesses of my own mind.


*****

My ear twitched. I heard something. I glanced up swiftly and looked up and down the street, my mind completely alert. It was far away, but it was quite distinctive. Voices. Humans!The wolf’s instinct was screaming at me to run the hell away, and I couldn’t have agreed more. A wolf wandering the streets at night? Most likely I’ll be reported as a rabid wild dog and captured or something. I looked around frantically, and noticed a dark alleyway. I padded in and hid behind a dumpster, careful not to make too much noise. I groaned to myself which came out as a disgruntled growl. Maybe I should’ve just walked as a human to the woods instead of becoming a wolf right away.

Too late now, I guess.

“Oh, Henry, where to next?” Said a bubbly female voice.

“Sweetheart, we’re going to the best German Food this place got! Jägerhaus!” Replied a smooth, suave, gentlemanly voice.

The female giggled, “Picking on my heritage again, Henry? I’ve told you, I’m only a quarter German… but you’ve hit it right on the spot. I do love European foods…”

“You’ll love it, my dear. It’s a small but lovely hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Homely and romantic… perfect for tonight…” Their conversation drifted away as I listened to their footsteps fade down the street.

As I slowly emerged from my hiding spot and went back into lurking from shadow to shadow, a feeling of emptiness slowly enveloped my thoughts. Was I truly making the right decision? The conversation between that lovey-dovey couple started to raise doubts in my mind on my resolution of what I’m doing.

To never experience dating. Kissing. Hell, even the break-ups.

To never feel the joys of getting married. Getting your own car. A real career.

To never again paint, to never see colors…

I shook my head. It must’ve been weird looking if someone was watching, a wolf shaking his head like a human. These doubts, these experiences I’m never going to go through in a normal human’s life…

This is my penance.

I deserve to lose these things. It was my fault that I succumbed to enslavement, my fault that my sister too, had to suffer, and die in the end. I was a contributor to the damnation of the human race. It was my fault that I was weak.

I… I don’t deserve to live the life of a human. I was given the chance to, and I lost everything.

After a long walk, I came to the edge of the city, with the buildings slowly declining in height and distance increasing from each house. I was almost to my destination.

I could smell it.

I could smell the scent of the trees, and fresh grass. An array of new smells hit me too, and I was pretty sure it must be the wildlife that are out active at night. Faintly, I can hear the hoot of a stray owl perched in its tree. I wasn't walking anymore. I was running with all four of my paws towards the dense darkness that loomed ahead. Behind me was the artificial lights of the city, glowing lazily in the dark night. I'm leaving that all behind, and heading towards my new future.

My new home.

Twigs and fallen wood cracking beneath my paws, I moved deeper and deeper, without any care of danger. My wolf instincts was slightly relieved, no longer in an alien urban surrounding, but in a habitat that it knows well. Except...

I slowed down my pace to a trot, no longer knowing where the hell I am. All around me, I could hear the crickets, scurrying mammals, and other forest critters carrying on in their nighttime rituals. What now? I asked myself. Indeed, that was the question after my first rush of entering this new environment. New to me, not much so to my wolf side. I sat down on my haunches, tongue out, panting from the running earlier. Then, I realized that I was actually quite tired.

Knowing nowhere to rest for the night, I just decided to sleep, right there on the spot. Circling the area to check for any dangers and allowing my wolf instincts to decide that there was none, I curled up on the forest floor and laid my head down. How long have I been in morph? No matter, now, I guess. Going from my apartment to this place I'm pretty sure already took longer than two hours. I'm a nothlit now. A being that is trapped in their morph due to their prolonged stay in a form that's not theirs.

I closed my yellow eyes and slowly relaxed. It was cold, but my fur would suffice in keeping me warm. Slowly, I let sleep take a hold of my body, drifting out of reality into the bliss of rest in the middle of the pitch dark night.


Chapter 3

[Spread out. Lanis 304, take 452 with you to cover the left perimeter. Illus 366, take 455 with you to the right. Oran 567 shall come with me to advance forward. Rendezvous within thirty minutes in this same spot. We don’t have much time in these morphs left. Look for any evidence of human presence. If any humans are encountered, once again, do not engage. Mark the area so we may have a full report for the capturing squad.] With that, a pack of five gray wolves split up, heading in different directions in pairs. I was the one leading the search of the upcoming area.

We were one of the yeerk’s scouting squad. It was our duty to look for the “Animorphs.” Visser One knew that they’ve grown in numbers, due to their numbers involved in recent attacks on the pool. An all out war was happening, and cities were pretty much under or in the process of being under control. It was the rural areas that the Visser feared. It was the forests and wildlife that the Visser didn’t have control over, and he wanted it in his hands. Fast. Ever since the acquiring of the Andalite morphing cube, an all scale invasion began. Perhaps the Visser saw it as an opportune time to strike the final blow.

[Five-sixty-seven, keep up with me. Even if you are new to the scouting squad I will hold no leeway for you. You are the same as the rest of the squad. Fail me, and I will personally show you the consequences for disgracing the purpose of our group.]

I sensed fear emanating from the wolf behind me. [Understood, commander.]

I couldn’t take it any longer. [Stop it, yeerk,] I said in a menacing tone, [I don’t give a crap that you’re the leader of all this. I’m not going to let you treat my sister like this.]

Ferio seemed amused. [Tell me then, Aaron, what do you plan to do? Your sister is now only a mere host to my subordinate. And you… you’re my puppet.]

Those words cut through me deeply. He knew that my threats were empty. He knew that I can’t do anything to him. Not when he’s controlling me. And he purposely treats my sister like crap in front of me. [When I’m free-]

[Free? Open your eyes, Aaron, you’ve seen how many people we’ve captured in the past week. Earth is changing. Humans… you species are only a stepping stone for our own evolution to dominance.] He paused in his steps. Hanah’s yeerk didn’t seem to notice and kept going. [Hold, five-sixty-seven. Tell me you sense the humans ahead of us before you were going to take another step.]

[S-sir? Yes, I was going to go ahead and get a closer look at their encampment-]

[Do you take me for a fool? A superior officer would always know when their subordinates aren’t paying attention to them. But very well, since you so kindly volunteered, carry on and go on closer. Report to me how many humans you find. I shall follow behind you with a distance.]

Hanah went ahead, and after a while, my yeerk followed her. I was already picking up the smell of a campfire, and cooked meat. Campers. [You know, Aaron, I’ve taken quite a liking to you,] Ferio started, [Ever since the first day as my host, you’ve been a defiant brat, screaming and thrashing at me with your thoughts.]

What is he getting at?

The yeerk chuckled. He had read my thoughts. [What I’m getting at, kid, is that I find you quite amusing,] The smell of the campers grew stronger. My wolf nose picked up the smell of plastic and vinyl. Artificial things. The campers were talking too, but I wasn’t paying much attention. I could only focus on one thing. Hanah was getting quite close to the edge of their campsite… what is the yeerk in her head doing? [As much as I enjoyed your anguish, your resistance and the absence of fear intrigue me. Are you really not afraid of me Aaron? I am your puppet master. I can do what I will with your body. Or are you just too blind to realize the fact that you’re nothing now?]

I remained silent, staring intently at Hanah’s lupine form and her actions. Ferio watched along for a minute, then quietly continued his talk. [I’ve always loved your reactions, Aaron, I’ve wanted to break you, to make you fear me. Will you do this for me? Fear me and give up? To declare me your master?] Suddenly, I noticed something. It was the charred smell of gunpowder lingering on the humans.

Wait. Gunpowder?

[Will you fear me boy, if I do this to you?]

[What are you doing yeerk?] I was slightly panicked now. These people weren’t campers. They had guns with them. Were they hunters? Mere campers who carry guns with them for protection? Hell if I know, but if a normal human with guns were to see a wild wolf so close to them…

[Commander, I confirm that there is a group of four non-controllers. They’re in possession of firearms. Shall we head back to the rendezvous point and rally the capturing squad to our area? We should warn them about the guns-]

[There is no need, five-sixty-seven, we’ve got time. Let us “scout” for more information on this human camp, shall we? Please go on and get closer to the humans to see what supplies they’re carrying. There may be more threats than the guns that they carry.]

[Ferio!] I hissed at him, [What are you doing? These are normal humans! They have no other threatening objects other than guns! You already know that if there were other unusual things we would’ve already picked up its scent!]

[To be honest, boy,] My yeerk’s voice was unusually calm. Was that a hint of smugness? [This is a test. Not for the new recruit, but for you. A test for the question I’ve asked earlier. Will you fear me if I do this?]

[What the hell are you talking about?] I had lost my cool. [Get my sister out. NOW.]

[Commander? I- I don’t think I can get any closer to their perimeter without being seen.]

[Don’t worry, I’m here keeping watch for you. They won’t notice you at the angle you’re in right now. Now get closer, Oran five-sixty-seven.] I looked on helplessly at the scene from the bushes that my yeerk hid us in. Luckily, Hanah’s yeerk seemed to be hesitating. The yeerk in her head was afraid to take the step.

[Thank god.] I whispered to myself. The yeerk heard it.

[I will break you!] My yeerk savagely screeched at me privately. Then, lifting my head, the yeerk in my head calmly called out to my sister. [Oran five-sixty-seven, as your superior commander, I’m ordering you to take the step closer to confront non-controllers for our scouting mission.]

[You…] I couldn’t say anything anymore as I watched my yeerk forced Hanah to walk straight into plain view of the armed humans.

Yells.

Frantic scrambling.

Gunshots.

I wanted to jump in. I wanted to save her.

But I couldn’t. The yeerk controlling me had rooted me on the spot overseeing the campsite, to force me to watch.

To force me to watch his power. To test his question of my character. To humor himself.

After watching the humans examine the body of the dead gray wolf and place their guns down, a sick, amused voice floated through my mind.

[So, Aaron, do you fear me?]


*****

I woke up to a rather pungent smell. Something’s not right. Jumping up from my spot, I bared my fangs, tail up and fur bristled. After a second, I realized that the smell was actually coming from a nearby skunk about a meter from me. It had frozen in its step, staring at me.

Its tail slowly rose, preparing to spray me.

The smell was extremely revolting, amplified by my new nose. [Definitely not messing with you,] I said to the skunk, and I backed away slowly, careful not to alert or startle it. After creating a decent amount of distance, I turned my head from it and briskly walked away. It probably felt that I was too close to its den.

Wandering around the forest, the previous event had gotten me thinking. Even if I felt at home in this forest, I was still completely foreign to everything else. The location of animal dens, shrubbery, potential hunting grounds…

I felt my stomach growl as a feeling of hunger gnawed at me in the back of my mind. I was hungry, and I had no clue what to hunt for. It would’ve been easier if I was a human… I could’ve waltzed into a Mc Donald’s and get a decent meal for fewer than five bucks, with just food composed from the dollar menu.

I concentrated and tried morphing into a human. After a few minutes of projecting my own mental image in my head, I opened my eyes and looked down. A muzzle in the middle of my vision. I still had claws. Nothing had happened. Of course nothing happened. I’m officially a nothlit since last night. I sighed. If I was to feed myself and even survive, I had to try living like a real wolf. That means catching my own prey, killing it with my own jaws, and consuming it raw.

Deciding that the wolf would probably know way more than me in catching its food, I lowered my nose to sniff the ground, allowing instincts to take over.

I caught a scent. Somehow, I knew it was the scent of a small mouse.

Prey.

Each whiff created a trail on the floor, as if the scent was illuminating a path to where this mouse is hiding. With the sole mindset of tracking down my breakfast, I moved in on towards where my nose was leading me, the scent getting stronger by each step. Then, I heard it. Busily crunching on its own meal of some crushed acorn, its back was towards me, oblivious to my presence. Its incisors were working steadily on the fragments, with the sound of consecutive chewing and crushing emanating noisily into the air. With each few bites, it pauses, still chewing, but looks around warily for any signs of danger, its nose twitching to catch any scent of threat. Sadly, its smell wasn’t as good as mine. I slowly crept towards it, with my padded paws carrying me closer and closer without making a sound.

Suddenly, it stopped chewing, and turned around to stare directly into my eyes. A momentary pause followed, its beady eyes locked onto my determined glare. Then, it ran, dropping its food and startling me with its sudden movement. So much for all the sneaking, I thought to myself glumly, and quickly ran after the vermin.

Let me tell you one thing. Mice are devious little creatures. They know how to escape really well. It darted in and out of the shadows created by the foliage, trying to lose me from its trail. Its movements were too spontaneous, and it was seriously giving me a pain to try to track its twists and turns. Before I knew it, the mouse disappeared in a flash down into a tiny burrow that it had made for itself at the base of a tree. I had officially lost my chance at breakfast. Growling, I pawed at the entrance, and looked down angrily into the black abyss. [You’ve got to come out sometime, mouse,] I yelled at it, [and I can wait. I’m hungry, and you’re mine!] I plopped down onto my hind legs and sat underneath the tree, waiting for any signs of movement.

I laid down and waited.

The sun soon positioned itself directly overhead.

The mouse never came out.

Giving up, I got back up and lazily letting out a yawn, I decided that I was beat in this game of predator and prey. Besides, I really doubt real wolves would sit still for this long anyways. It was afternoon, and the sun was shining, and the birds were chirping. But I was still hungry.

Later that night and numerous failed attempts at catching small woodland critters, I found myself a new spot to settle down to rest, this time making sure that there was no skunks within my vicinity. Perhaps I could forget my hunger by the musings of my own mind. Looking up through the forest canopy, I was met with a site of clear moonlit night. A strange chill swept through me as I suddenly realized how alone I truly am in my decision of abandoning humanity. To be cut off from society… was I really as ready for it as I previously thought I was? I couldn’t even completely make ends meet as a human, what notion did I get that I would be able to do so as a different species?

Beginning to feel depressed at my current situation, all I could do was curl up into a ball and wallow in my own doubts.

Before I knew it, I was suddenly awake and alert, as I heard and smelt an incoming hostility. When did I fall asleep? I didn’t even notice… [Damn it, Aaron! Carelessness is going to get yourself killed out here!] I scolded myself out loud as I looked around frantically for the source of the scent. Then it suddenly hit me. It was a scent of another wolf.

Scratch that. A bunch of wolves. A pack of them. And they were pretty damn close to where I was. Too close, in fact, that I most definitely have no room to run. I was surrounded. Man, I thought, these guys work fast… and silently too! Looking around, the pack slowly emerged cautiously from the shadows, their eyes all locked on me, staring intently.

I’ve got to admit, I was scared. It was extremely intimidating. Five wolves with razor sharp fangs that could potentially rip your throat out in seconds? Yeah, I was damn scared. My wolf instincts was panicking too, as it realized that I’ve intruded on another’s territory and was caught red-handed. The scary part was that I had no clue what they were thinking of doing to me as they slowly closed in in a circular pattern. Even with my tail between my legs giving away my true emotions, I stood my ground, feinting an air of indifference on my face towards the wolves that pass by slowly in my field of vision.

It was then when I noticed him.

He was a particularly large wolf, with a distinctive patterned fur coat of a black back and a dark gray chest. There he stood in the outer rim of the circular path that the pack has formed.

His pack.

An aura of dominance and respect radiated from this creature’s body, and I couldn’t help but let out a small whimper when my eyes connected with his. Without making a sound, the alpha wolf walked towards me, while the circumference opened up to let him in. Standing directly in front of me, the Alpha coldly stared and snarled, his fangs glistening in the moonlight.

Look, you might’ve expected me to fight or bare my fangs back right? Besides, I’m a wolf with human intellect, while this wolf in front of me is just, well, a wolf that’s bigger than the rest.

I didn’t growl. I didn’t bare my fangs back. Hell, I didn’t even stay standing.

I fell onto my stomach, with my tail underneath me, ears flattened back.

Call me a wimp, if you will, but somehow, at that place and time, it felt right. Perhaps it was pure instincts of pack mentality, but it just felt… well, correct to submit. Both my human and wolf mind knew it was hopeless to fight, as I was surrounded, and that the chances of my food deprived state would stand no chance against this large figure.

The air was tense. I could smell it. Approaching my prone body, the alpha lowered his head, growling at my face, and then preceded to sniff me. Suddenly, he lunged down and bit the top of my neck. I yipped loudly and closed my eyes, thinking that I was going to die.

But the pain never came. Opening my eyes, and looking up, I realized that he had only bit down on my skin, and nothing else. After that initial scare, the wolf calmly then stood over me and rubbed his head on my sides, leaving his scent on my fur.

The dark wolf raised his head and stared down at me. I looked up pitiably and returned his stare. After a few moments, the wolf turned his head away and snorted, as if satisfied with my response. Swishing his tail and turning around to walk away, the alpha signaled to the rest of the pack and walked back out of the circle.

Somehow, I realized that this wolf had allowed me to join his pack.

The rest of the wolves approached me casually now, each surrounding me with their tails wagging. Each seemed extremely curious and wanted a sniff at my fur, with each whiff accompanied by a friendly nip of lick. Strangely, among the mass of affable interactions, a warm feeling of contentment rose up from the depths of my mind. Suddenly, the alpha looked up with his muzzle and let out a loud, mournful howl. The pack quickly joined in unison. Hesitating at first, I finally gave in to my strong urge of joining in. The feeling of contentment in my human mind came to a full circle, and a new sense welled up.

A sense of belonging.

The following days were a blur. As a new member of the pack, I trailed behind them everywhere, quickly learning the ways of hunting and pack roles. You could say I looked up to the alpha. His tactical placements of each of us during hunts were extremely effective, not allowing a single member to be put in harm’s way. I quickly fell into the world of the gray wolf, as my human self slowly shifted to the backend of my mind. Letting my wolf side to take control, my life was only the present. There was no past or future to worry about. It was a life full of carefree feeling of just living day by day. No longer did I go through nights hungering for food, nor did I live with constant fear of the wild. I was part of a pack now, part of nature itself. The forest was our territory. Hunting and stalking prey became second nature to me. I was able to solo hunt small vermin, and cooperate smoothly with the rest of my brethren to take down larger prey, such as deer or elk. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine myself actually going hungry for a whole day, as I had done before, with my newly acquired skills. However, I didn’t let such notions carry me too far into my wolf mind’s pride. My alpha was still superior in every way. He was the biggest. The fastest. There were occasional times when a fellow male pack member decided to challenge for dominance, but ended up licking their wounds in the end. My human mind faintly restrained my instincts from doing such foolish things. I knew my place. And all was well in my world.

All was well, however, until a particularly cold winter night.

It was a hunt like any other. My alpha was in the lead of our pack, scouting for any scent of potential prey. We’ve already a rabbit earlier, but it seemed to only make our pack more determined than ever to fill our stomachs for the night. Walking about in a scattered formation, our noses were in the air, searching for any scent of fresh meat. Then, I caught a scent. Well, a mixture of scents actually. However, among it was the scent of freshly spilled blood. A rush suddenly enveloped me, as my alpha immediately hunched down stealthily, leading us to the source. An injured prey is the easiest to catch, being a meal that almost requires no energy to waste on catching.

The blood had an odd tinge of scent to it however, something that I’ve never encountered before. It definitely wasn’t rabbit blood nor deer… it was a prey that I’ve never caught before.

My alpha stopped in his tracks and signaled for us to split up and surround the target. I could already hear our target, and it seems like two animals fighting each other. The sound of screeches and squawks hit my ears, accompanied by the sound of frantic flapping. It was then when I realized that the foreign smell was the blood of a bird, a creature that we wolves rarely actually even get close enough to catch a scent of. Looking up at the scene, feathers were in the air, as both members fought on, a struggle between predator and prey. The birds haven’t seemed to notice that they were surrounded.

Suddenly, with a loud bark, my alpha leaped out onto the flailing mess of blood, feathers, and talons, a move that signals the rest of the pack to join in as well. Revealing myself, I bounded out of the shadows with my pack mates right next to me.

Both birds stopped, shocked at the sudden intrusion of their struggle. The one on top gave out a loud hoot and hopped off its victim, flapping wildly in its attempt to get into the air. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the wolves jump up in a vain attempt to stop it, but was met only with a mouthful of tail feathers. The airborne bird swooped up completely out of our reach, hooting angrily at its loss of a potential meal and preceded to glare down at us with its large eyes. After a moment of circling the area, and us growling and snapping our jaws threateningly at it, the large flying predator gave up in salvaging its dinner and disappeared into the night.

So we lost one meal. We still had another. Turning our attention back to the injured bird on the ground, our pack slowly repositioned ourselves to form a close circle around it. The raptor opened its wings and tried to fend us off. However, I couldn’t help but notice the large gash across its wingspan. And I was sure my alpha noticed too. This prey has nowhere to go with such an injury.

This creature is just an injured prey. Nothing else.

Injured prey. However, something was off. It didn’t look… right. My wolf mind couldn’t comprehend what was different about this prey.

Did it just get bigger?

I noticed my fellow brethren shift uneasily too. Something wasn’t right. The scent of it was different than before too. No longer was it the smell of a hawk. It was something even more foreign.

The nagging, troubling feeling kept tugging at my mind. This was…

This was…

Our prey was definitely larger than before now, as we weren’t looking down at it anymore, but rather at eye level.

Slowly, it felt as if I was awakening from a long, deep slumber.

This was… morphing?

Wait. A hawk… morphing?

Looking down at the bleeding hawk’s tail feathers, I was pretty sure that if I could see colors, I would be seeing red.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2008, 03:07:26 AM by Drkchaos »

Offline Drkchaos

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Re: Melancholy Crossroads
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2008, 03:09:20 AM »
Chapter 4 has been updated on FFnet!

Chapter 4

You know that saying, “It’s a small world?” I couldn’t agree more with it at that moment in time.

Hell, of all the small chances of us wolves actually catching a bird for dinner, it turns out to be the world famous Animorph, Tobias. What were the odds?

And now my pack was going to kill him. I stared at the current scene. Tobias was clearly morphing into something that could fend off my pack quite well, but I was still worried. He wasn’t morphing fast enough. I quickly glanced over to my alpha who was bearing his teeth at the bewildering mass of shifting bones and feathers. The other wolves were following suit. This definitely wasn’t good. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see large spikes protruding from the sides of the morphing hawk. However, the wolf in the back of my mind had already honed in on a potential, vital, weak point.

The neck. It was instinctual to always strike the neck of our prey, and I was sure that my alpha had already deduced the method of attack already.

I already knew what Tobias was attempting to morph into. An alien species called the Hork-Bajir. Covered in deadly spikes on their limbs and possessing bird-like talons, these beings are quite formidable and deadly opponents when faced in combat. I’ve worked with them before in my days under the control of Ferio. However, formidable as they are, their necks were still exposed and unprotected. Tobias’s predicament of being in mid-morph didn’t help either. If he were struck right now, he would have no chance of protecting himself, being just a spiky ball of feathers.

I had to do something, anything. I heard the low, threatened growl coming from the wolves around me. Their fur bristled, backs arched. They were about to attack. It was now or never. I lowered my body, hunching down into a leaping position. Every instinct in my mind, wolf and human, were screaming at me to stop. For the wolf, the action I’m about to do shatters its world of hierarchy and order. For the human, the provoking of a fight against one who’s greater in not only size but in power was completely illogical and just plain stupid.

[This is seriously going to suck.] I said aloud.

Snarling the best I could, I bristled my fur and leapt at my alpha, jaws open, and bit down as hard as I could on his shoulder. I felt my teeth sink through the fur and into his flesh, just as a metallic taste met the tip of my tongue.

The taste of blood.

The world stood still. I shifted my eyes around to take in the scene. The pack stood frozen, staring at me in surprise, with their muzzles still locked in a snarl. I met the shocked eyes of Tobias, who had luckily progressed further in his morph, taking on a more bipedal build. Closing my eyes, I slowly opened them again to look at my alpha. His grimace of pain stood frozen, eyes wide open, staring at me with complete disbelief.

A loud howl of pain tore through the frozen air. Almost immediately, four other wolves pounced on me, biting and tearing at my fur. What I had just done was inconceivable, immoral, a blow to my wolf pride. My attack wasn’t seen as a proper challenge for dominancy, but rather as a sign of lunacy and sickness. Pain tore through my limbs as fangs sunk into my back and into my hind legs, immobilizing me as I latched firmly onto the alpha.

Suddenly, a voice filled with wonderment entered into my mind. [Cassie?]

[Do I sound like a girl to you?] I snapped, and barked loudly as I shook violently, trying to escape from the painful holds that bound me to my spot. Turning my head with great difficulty to face the Animorph, I bared my fangs and yelled, [Tobias! Would you like to hurry up with your morph and help me take- ] I was cut off by the sound of cracking bones, and my left hind leg suddenly gave away to the pressure. The pain was unimaginable. I whimpered loudly out of shock, letting go of the shoulder that I was biting on.

That was the last straw. I was done. The pain racking my body was too much, and I collapsed, allowing the gnashing fangs to overwhelm my bloodstained fur. I looked up at the alpha. His face was contorted with fury, barking madly at this sudden rebellion. Lowering his head, he aimed carefully at my throat. Is this it? Was I to die at the mouths of these wild beasts? I closed my eyes as I prepared for a swift death to come.

But it never came. Instead, the constant biting and ripping suddenly stopped abruptly, with the enraged barks replaced by low, frightened growls. I opened my eyes and saw that the pack had distanced themselves from me and given up on their attack, with their sights focused on something behind me. One of the wolves had a deep gash across its back. I looked up and saw a fierce looking Hork-Bajir towering over my beaten body. Beads of blood dripped slowly from its blades that extended from its forearms. [Whoever you are,] Tobias stated in a harsh tone, [I didn’t need your help.] With that, he leapt at the pack of wolves with incredible speed, blades extended in an offensive fashion.

Sensing the danger, and bewildered by this unearthly creature, the pack split up and ran in different directions. I noticed the alpha hesitate for a second, glancing over at me, and limped away quickly with his bleeding shoulder.

Tobias stood there for a moment, watching the wolves disperse into the woods. [You should demorph to heal that broken foot of yours,] he said as he walked back to me and kneeled down, [And who are you? How can you morph? Are you one of the auxiliary Animorphs? I thought they were all wiped out…] His voice drifted off as he bent down to examine my wounds.

I sighed. [Quite the opposite,] I said while trying to get up, [My name’s Aaron. If you’re wondering how I knew your name, I suggest you just turn on any television set and tune in to the news channel.] Wobbling, I managed to stand up by putting all the pressure on my two forelegs and my right hind leg. Looking down, I groaned at the pool of blood I’ve created. My fur reeked of it, and the smell was nauseating. I didn’t think I would be this screwed. Tobias’s eyes narrowed.

[What the hell are they doing with the blue box? Is this Jake’s-] A tint of anger littered his speech, but I cut him off before he could say anymore.

[Not exactly. I got the power a long time ago.] I wobbled a few steps over to him and sat down, trying as much as possible to not move my broken leg. [I… I was a controller who was given the power to morph.] His face remained emotionless, but I heard a quiet erratic intake of breath when I responded to him. He turned away, silent for a while.

[Aren’t you going to morph out to heal yourself?] He asked in a detached voice. He was already demorphing into his natural red tailed hawk form. I stared at him, hesitating in responding. Was he angry with me? Did he hate me for being a controller?

[I can’t.]

[What do you mean?] He was almost done demorphing now, almost completely a hawk save for the disproportionate talons on the end of his feet.

[I can’t morph,] I plainly responded. Tobias glared at me with his fierce eyes and puffed up his feathers against the freezing air. I paused, wincing from the stings coming from my bites, and continued, [I’m a nothlit… like you.] As soon as he heard that he twitched his head and looked down at the ground, opening and closing his wings uncomfortably.

[You’re nothing like me…] He started, but stopped, and immediately began morphing back into a Hork Bajir. [Aaron, was it? Stay still. Your wounds are a bigger problem than I thought it would be. I’ll take you somewhere where you’ll get patched up.] I wasn’t going to argue. All I felt was numbness, and I couldn’t move at all, due to the blood loss and my busted leg. The temperature wasn’t helping either with the air chilling me to my bone. Tobias bent down and carefully picked me up, careful not to come in contact with my broken leg. As soon as he had me completely off the ground, he took off running, his dinosaur-like feet pounding against the earthen floor. Too tired to say anything, I closed my eyes, as I suddenly felt extremely drowsy, and I faded from consciousness, the howling wind becoming a distant noise drifting off into the darkness.

Offline Drkchaos

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Re: Melancholy Crossroads
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2008, 01:07:57 PM »
Chapter 5 has been updated on FFnet...

Chapter 5 (Tobias)

My name is Tobias. At the moment, I am a large, spiky, humanoid alien carrying a bleeding, unconscious gray wolf to be saved form dying of blood loss. To the world, I am a celebrity, a hero, an “Animorph.” To the people who call me “friend,” I am a boy trapped in a hawk’s body with the power to transform into any type of animal that I can come into contact with. In truth, I am nothing else but a hawk. I’ve decided to give up on humanity ever since the only one person who ever truly cared about me died. The war is over, Rachel is gone, and there’s no longer any reason for me to linger around in society.

I looked down at the gray wolf that I’m carrying in my arms, whose pulse I could still feel amid his cold body. I sighed. Of course, this guy had to come up out of nowhere and ruin everything. Tonight is the first time I would meet with a fellow Animorph ever since Rachel’s funeral… I grimaced at the thought. Now’s not the time to feel sorry for your loss, Tobias, I thought to myself. Shaking my head to try to forget the picture of the coffin and weeping crowds, I focused on the path I was taking. I was already back in a very familiar place: The edge of my old meadow.

My territory.

However, I wasn’t to stop here. I focused on the path to my destination, somewhere that was actually quite close to this area…

It’s so much faster flying, I thought. My body was already starting to get tired from not just the running, but also the weight of an animal that I had to carry. Squinting, I scanned the horizon with my eyes to look for the shadow of the building I was looking for. These eyes are pathetic compared to what I’m used to.

Blindly stumbling around the area, I looked for fencing that signaled the sign of the Barn. After a while of running around, my eyes finally made out the outline of wooden fencing. Following it, Cassie’s house finally came into view.

I stopped, hesitating in my decision. Was I really ready to meet with her? There is no choice, you need to do this for the wolf, my mind echoed. I didn’t want to believe it. Stepping back into the barn is painful for me, as a certain sense of longing for the past would overwhelm me, a longing for Rachel.

But then again, what would she do in my situation? Surely being front and fierce, she would do anything to help a friend in need. She was caring and protective. I knew that firsthand. 

Funny how I decided to come here without a second thought in the first place, but now a sense of regret is filling my mind. I wanted to sever my ties with the world, yet here I am, asking for help. Walking around the house, I looked up and saw that Cassie’s light was still on. Good, that should make it easier. Squinting, I could make out her figure, as she was sitting at her desk, reading a book.

[Cassie!]   

The girl in the window jumped, and ran to the window. Prying it open, she looked around and seeing nothing, looked up into the sky, searching frantically for the faint shape of a bird.

[Down here. I need… your help.] Cassie looked down and saw my hulking form, eyes widening in surprise. Then, her gaze moved down onto Aaron and immediately, she turned around to head out her room. Moments later, Cassie appeared before me, running towards me with a concerned look on her face.

“Tobias… I’m so glad you’re alright, ever since the funeral-”

[I’m here for this guy,] I said curtly, [He’s got a broken foot and has lost a lot of blood.] She bit her lip and quietly nodded.

“Let’s take him over to the barn then. Who or what is he?”

[He told me he was a controller who was given the power to morph once the yeerks got a hold of the blue box.] I paused, looking down at the ground, [Apparently he’s a nothlit. That’s why I’m here right now. He can’t heal himself.] Cassie stopped in front of the barn, and opened the door, letting us in. The animals twittered nervously as they sensed a predator invade the peaceful presence.

“Hurry, put him down here on the table.” Heeding her orders, I gently placed Aaron down on the wooden table. Cassie sped over with some tools and immediately began checking the vitals as I demorphed back into my red-tailed form. “His breathing is quite shallow… Tobias… what happened?”

I considered telling her the truth that I was attacked, and that Aaron was luckily there to help me, but doing so would only make her worry about me and make me a burden on her mind. I didn’t want to admit it either, as a sense of pride from my hawk side forbade me from admitting that I was caught off guard and was almost eaten.

[He was attacked by a pack of wolves,] I lied, [I just happened to pass by and hear him cry out in thought-speak.] Immediately after saying this, a heavy feeling of guilt weighed down onto my shoulders. I began preening my feathers, a habit that I’ve developed when nervous. Luckily, Cassie was too busy attending to Aaron to look up and notice my actions. Of course, it wasn’t just the lie that had disturbed me. It was the whole surrounding that I’m currently in.

How long has it been since I’ve perched up in those rafters, playing my role as the lookout for the team? How long ago was it when we were just a small group of kids worrying about juggling schoolwork and saving the world? I looked around the barn, taking in my surroundings. The cages, the pens for the animals, the bales of hay that we sat on when conspiring for our next insane sabotage mission…

The place where Rachel used to sit, near the rafters, just so she could be a bit closer to me…

Being in the barn was just too painful, from the feelings of longing to the pangs of guilt, I had to be free. I had to fly out of here. Spreading my wings, I prepared to fly off, but Cassie noticed my movements and quickly spun around.

“Tobias, wait.”

[I… I have to get out for some air, Cassie.]

She sighed, and placed down the bandages she was wrapping Aaron in. “Tobias… just know that we were worried about you. Ever since the funeral, you’ve just disappeared.”

[And I wanted to keep it that way, until tonight when these unpleasant events unfolded.] Stupid, stupid, stupid! This was the one reason why I didn’t want to come here; I knew she would try to get me to come back. I glanced over to the wolf lying on the table. If it weren’t for him…

I wanted to be done with all of this. I fully spread my wings, and glided towards the doorway.

Cassie stood there, watching me. Then, with a sudden outburst, she called out, “Tobias, you’re not the only one who suffered. We’ve all been hurt deeply from Rachel’s death- ”

[You don’t even know the half of it.] With that, I was met by a cool breeze of the nighttime air. Flapping my wings, I quickly found a weak thermal column and rose into it, climbing high into the dark, starry sky. What do they know, I thought to myself, what do they know about finally having a reason to live on a happy life, to finally have something to protect and value within your reach and then brutally ripped away from your grasp?

I was a boy who had nothing. I lived with guardians who didn’t even care if I was alive or dead. But then one, day I was granted the power to escape from it all… and finally someone who cared about my well being. I thought it was all going to be okay; all was going to end well… I was a boy who had nothing, then had everything.

But yet…

I’m now alone. Sure, I’m now famous, sure we won in the end, but what did I truly gain? Did the loss really balance out the gains?

I looked back down, and found myself circling over my old meadow. My old perch was still there, unoccupied. Making sure that there weren’t any owls around, as I didn’t want the fiasco that happened earlier to repeat itself, I scanned the trees carefully for any signs of avian activity. After a few moments, I sighed and decided it was safe to land. I really shouldn’t think too much when flying, as it greatly lowers my guard against any attacks. I shuddered at the thought of earlier this night, the screeching hoot, and the sharp pain that tore through my back…

[Emotions, thoughts,] I chuckled morbidly to myself, [these things almost got me killed tonight.] I looked over my old meadow, admiring the view. It’s quite ironic how these human traits that define humanity could be so hindering for another species.

Humanity is nothing but a hindrance for me now. I’ve been trying to leave it all behind, as I’ve done before. My human mind wanted to just sleep and let the hawk be in control…

In a way, I guess you can say I just want to hide from it all, my past, my choices, the war… mostly all of it are memories of pain, worry, and depression. The few small golden moments I actually had are all tainted by the unpleasant memory of Rachel lying there on the bladeship, eyes glazed and lifeless. I no longer had anything anymore, as everything just depresses me more and more. I’m just a coward who wants to leave it all behind, to start off fresh by wiping my slate clean of the past, the present, and humanity.

However, annoyingly, I can’t. Whenever my hawk mind takes over, remorse fills my head. The scene of Rachel’s uttering last three words replays over and over, filling me with human emotions, emotions that my hawk doesn’t understand. Emotions that disturb my hawk side, rendering him bewildered and distracted. Emotions that can lead to my death.

I can’t let my human mind go to sleep, even if I want it to. This bothers me greatly. I can’t be human, as I have no reason to, yet I can’t be a hawk, as my humanity weighs me down. What was I? Suddenly, Aaron’s words flashed in my head.

[I’m a nothlit… like you.]

I laughed out loud to myself. Was I really? Was I really just another nothlit? If I was, then how can I still morph? Why do I have two forms that I can turn into that people still call me “Tobias” in? This Aaron fellow, he knows nothing of my pain, my dilemma of teetering between two worlds. One world that I wish to leave, but was still chaining me down relentlessly, and another world I wish to cross into so badly if it weren’t for the restricting chains on my feet. [life,] I asked the empty sky, [why do you leave me like this? Not a nothlit, not a human, not a hawk.] Can “freak of nature” really describe me anymore?

Suddenly, I felt old. I don’t know how to describe it, but a sense of detachment overwhelmed me as I perched there on the branch. I’m technically only a teenager, yet the ordeals I’ve gone through are more than normal teenager experiences. A fight for humanity, seeing death with my own eyes, hurting others… and then there was the experience of friendship, love, and finally, the loss and heartbreak.

This new world that I have helped usher in, a world where humanity has prevailed… somehow, it didn’t feel right. It was a new world for the new generation, not for me. The things I have done, my deeds are now lingering memories in my head and just stories told by the world. I looked up in the sky once more, feeling like a hundred when in truth I’m still just a teenager who should still be in high school. My memories and anguish seems to hold no place in this new world where the news of victory and joy sweeps through like wildfire. There was no contemplation of what was sacrificed, no thought of what we endured through... sure, there was a funeral, but how long was it? A couple of hours? Right after that the media resumed broadcasting celebratory news, the heroism, but nowhere did it mention the harsh times, the troubles, and the sadness we all felt when we saw those who we hold dear die right in front of our eyes.

It was something the world doesn’t want to bear; something the world has turned a blind eye upon. They only wanted the happy facts, not the depressing ones.

The depressing experiences, the painful choices… I have them, yet I want to just fly free from them.

I spread my wings and took flight, heading over to where I currently reside, another meadow which wasn’t as good as my old one, but abundant enough to sustain me. I glanced over to the owl bordering my territory, making sure that he was settled in his perch. Circling the area, I scanned for the makeshift grave I made a few weeks earlier. A small cross stood erect in the edges of the flowery landscape, and I slowly descended, landing right in front of it. Here she laid, as ashes, a guardian of my new meadow.

Rachel. I didn’t morph into my human form. I just remained on the ground, stationary in the form of a hawk. I was too tired to cry, as I’ve already cried enough the following days after the funeral.

Besides, hawks don’t cry. 

Closing my eyes, I questioned aloud, [Rachel… what am I now? What have I become?]

A gust of cold wind blew through the meadow, creating the sound of rustling blades of grass whispering in unison. Strangely, the image of the bleeding wolf staring at me popped back up into my head.

[I’m a nothlit… like you.]

The way he had said it, so sure, so confident in his comment, it nagged at me. Aaron, a random person out of nowhere comes into my life, thinking he knows everything about me and being a nothlit. However, he wasn’t just any random person, but an ex-controller, someone who was… involved in the war and knew about it. It was as if the hands of nature were too cruel, tormenting me through the presence of this person, a reminder of the years I fought as an Animorph.

How long was he a nothlit anyways? Did he spend years trapped in the body of an animal like me? Impossible. Why couldn’t I just be left alone in my own world? I would’ve been fine, I had the power to morph, I could’ve fended them off myself…

I would’ve been fine…

But I knew that was a lie. If it weren’t for him interfering, I would’ve been inside the stomachs of those wolves…

To be honest, I don’t really want to admit it. It was a blow to my pride as an independent hawk, but yet, the lie I told Cassie is a weight on my chest now. Taking one last glance at the cross, I looked into the sky at the dawning rays of sunlight peaking through the horizon. Sighing, I opened up my wings and flapped, trying to catch an updraft to lead me into a thermal.

Perhaps this is all for the best. Above my head, the stars slowly faded from the reddening sky, and I could feel the faint traces of warmth touch my feathers as I flew through the air. I’m pretty sure Rachel would’ve wanted me to do this.

Spotting Cassie’s barn, I flew around in a circle, and noticed that the car was gone from their house. Good. They were gone. I flew down to the barn, noticing that Cassie had left the door unlocked for me. That was nice of her, I thought, and landed on the ground, morphing into human.

The animals shifted in their cages uncomfortably as I walked in. I looked over at the table where the bleeding wolf was on earlier last night. It was bare, not a speck of blood on it. Peering over the pens one by one, I finally found him.

It was a pretty pitiful sight. A splint was around his leg, his upper torso and shoulder were bandaged up pretty heavily. I squinted, noticing his chest heaving up and down softly. At least he seems more peaceful now. I looked up at the rafters and demorphed back into a red tailed hawk. Flying up and perching over Aaron’s pen, I silently sat in the dawn’s morning light, waiting for him to wake up.


You know, tbh, I'm really unsatisfied with this chapter... I think I really failed at doing Tobias Narration... >.>;


Offline Drkchaos

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Re: Melancholy Crossroads
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2009, 01:35:50 AM »
Chapter 6 is now finally up!

Chapter 6 (Aaron)

“Aaron, are you sure about this?”

“Hell, why not? Everyone’s joining, and so far your gatherings have been pretty damn fun.” I shrugged my shoulders and looked up at the group leader. He was a young man in his twenties, his brown eyes locked on me, scanning my face intently. Overhead, the stars twinkled gently as the sound of waves crashed against the sand.

“Joining The Sharing is well, not just like joining any other club, you know. We’re an organization, like the Scouts, if you will, and we require long-term dedication after taking the oath.” The man paused, and motioned to the people around him, “We adult members have actually been The Sharing for quite a while now, devoting our time for you kids. I’m just asking you again, are you sure about your choice?”

I sighed, exasperated. I just wanted to join, not to get a whole lecture. “Look, I’m sure of this. I just want to be with my friends at school. These events of yours,” I nodded to the dying bonfire, “are great outings, and I really enjoy ‘em. I’ve actually come to these bonfire meetings for quite a while now, and I’ve just finally made up my mind to join up.” The man grinned when he heard my words again.

“All right then! Do you mind if you wait a bit? We’ll just clean up our bonfire site for a bit. People always leave so much trash after these barbeque gatherings. Sit tight, ok?”


*****
I opened my eyes and realized I was surrounded. I was trapped. The pen was too high for me to jump over, and the space I was in was too small. Fabric was bound tightly across my body. This was not right. Quickly jumping up onto my feet I perked my ears up, alert to any sound in the air that could signal danger… that is, until a sharp pain suddenly shot through my hind leg. Tears welled up in my eyes as I whimpered in pain, and I suddenly realized who I was again.

Right. I was human, not a wolf. I looked around at my foreign surrounding. Where the hell am I? Last thing I remembered was being extremely cold and blacking out in the middle of talking to Tobias…

Suddenly an amused voice entered into my mind. [My, that was quite a scene there, Aaron. Good morning.] I looked around, scanning for the source of the voice, but all I saw was small animals pent up in cages with bandages and splints on various part of their bodies. Oh god. What the hell is going on? [Look up.]

I quickly glanced up and was met with a glaring red tailed hawk. Tobias. [Tobias? What the hell’s going on? Where am I?]

The bird opened its wings and closed them again, rearranging its stance. [One question at a time, please… I was wondering when you would wake up again,] He shifted his talons a bit, [listen, I’m just here to say my thanks about last night, and um… sorry about your injuries.]

Injuries? I looked down at myself. Oh yeah… looking down at myself, I just realized how much bandaging I had all over me, plus a splint on my left hind leg. [Man… I never realized how torn up I was going to be when I rushed in,] I said, grimacing, [but yeah, your welcome I guess. But then again, it’s partially my fault.]

[Your fault? What are you talking about?]

[Those wolves? Yeah. I was part of the pack.] I looked back up to Tobias, his face unmoved and emotionless. [I… I lost myself, you know? I kinda just went to auto-pilot after joining the pack. Seeing you morphing was what brought me back to my senses. I-I could’ve killed you.]

Tobias perched there for a bit longer and began preening his wing. [You know, I know what you’re talking about. I’ve lost myself to my animal side before too,] he paused, flapping his wings and settling down again, [But it doesn’t matter. In the end you ended up risking your life for me.]

[I… I guess.] This was awkward. For so many years as a controller, I was sent out to capture the Animorphs, and right now, Tobias was perched over me, thanking me for saving him. [It was a spur of the moment thing, you know? I saw you morph, and I realized that you were in deep ****.]

[I know,] Tobias responded darkly, [Last night was too close for comfort.] He sighed, [It’s not often owls come attacking us hawks, so it caught me completely off guard.] A morbid chuckle followed. [And what about my luck? To be caught in a chain of ambushes… a pack of wolves right after the owl.] The hawk’s glare looked down straight towards me, as if expecting me to comment. I remained silent, listening to his brooding reflection. After a moment, the hawk seems to be satisfied with the wait and flew down to land on the edge of my pen. [Isn’t it strange that I was more afraid last night than during the numerous suicide runs I’ve done to sabotage the yeerks...] I ****ed my head as he trailed off in mid-sentence. I sat there, waiting for him to finish, but no other words came.

An awkward silence fell over the conversation. A kestrel held in a cage on the table fidgeted silently. Limping in a circle to find a comfortable spot, I quickly settled down, careful not to come in contact with my broken limb. [So, um… where am I again?]

[Oh yeah, sorry, I totally forgot that you don’t know this place. This is Cassie’s barn.]

[Cassie? One of you Animorphs?] Tobias hunched down, giving me the impression of an exasperated sigh.

[The one and only. This place was where we gathered to plan all our missions against the yeerks.]

[Funny. To be honest, I expected your ‘war room’ to be more fancy, considering the number of successful plans against… well, the yeerks.] Tobias looked away from me, turning his attention to the ray of light that was filtering through the wooden cracks on the door. After perching there for a minute, he spoke up again.

[Are you happy Aaron?]

[What?] That question totally caught me off guard.

[That’s what the Ellimist asked me when he gave me my morphing powers back. He’s the one who watched over our progress and helped us behind the scene in our fight.]

What the hell is he talking about?

The hawk let out a long audible chirp, which sounded very much like a sigh. [I’m saying, are you happy? Are you happy that you’re free? Are you happy as a nothlit?]

[I-I don’t know. I’m definitely happy that I’m no longer a controller, but… the things that happened when I was are still hurting.] What is this guy getting at? [I guess… I was happy when I let my human mind fall into slumber, but that was probably happiness from oblivion of my consciousness.] I got up and limped over to him.

Looking at me, his curved beak came close to my nose. [I’m jealous, Aaron. I’m tired of my life. I want to just be any normal red-tailed hawk, but it seems like as if nature won’t let me. Take last night as an instance…] Tobias stood up straight again, [I was to die naturally as an animal. But yet, something triggered in my mind to fight back, forcing me to cling onto my pathetic life.] His tone was flat, eyes closed now, as if recalling a painful memory. [And you. You out of nowhere came to save me. What were the chances of us actually even meeting?]

I searched my head to think of a response, but none surfaced. An overwhelming feeling of melancholy permeated the barn. [Funny thing is,] Tobias continued, [You’re an ex-controller. A high ranked one, I’m guessing, considering how you had the powers to morph and all.]

[Well, you got that part right. I was forced to lead the yeerk’s scouting team for rural areas.]

[We did all we could, but yet couldn’t stop it all,] the hawk said mysteriously. Strangely, in the morning light, he seemed very old. The tail feathers were a bit frayed, ruffled wings with uneven feathers, even after much preening. [You’ve come back to haunt me of the past, it seems, Aaron.]

Strangely, his last remark kindled a flame of annoyance and anger within me. Who was he to just classify me as part of his past? My ears flattened against my skull. Suddenly, Tobias took flight and flew back onto the rafters, eyes alert and locked onto me. [listen here buddy,] I growled, [Don’t just mark me off as just another person here to torment you. Everyone knows your sorrows over your loss of Rachel!] An angry hawk screech pierced the still air, causing the animals in the barn to panic. But it didn’t matter. [We may not feel as depressed as you, but you’re not the only one who has troubles… Do you even know how much torment I went through during the invasion also? Do you even know how much I’ve lost?] Tobias’s glare looks like he could kill now. [I’ve chosen to be a nothlit as my payment to the world of what I’ve done. I believe I don’t need any more guilt burdened upon me, even if it’s from a famous Animorph.]

I was actually quite surprised Tobias didn’t take off right then and there. Instead, his grip on the perch seemed to loosen, and his wings relaxed. After a moment, he replied, [You’re right. I got too carried away there earlier… I’m sorry to have bothered you.] Spreading his wings, the hawk prepared to take off, but his sorrowful reply made me call back out to him.

[Wait,] I sighed, [Wait.] Tobias froze, back still towards me. [Sorry about that. Perhaps we started off on the wrong foot. Listen, what I meant was, we all have skeletons in our closets. We all have our screwed up past, but none of them are greater than another. I’ve gone too far on talking about Rachel earlier, but… please don’t think you’re alone in the wretched aftermath of the war.]

Tobias remained silent, but he reluctantly retracted his wings. Good. I was getting my point across. [We all have our own cup of sorrows. And to answer your earlier question? I guess to be honest, I’m not happy.]

Slowly, Tobias turned his body around, and finally looked back down at me. [Perhaps,] he stated, [We have more in common that I first thought.] From hearing that, I weakly smiled back at him as best as I can with a muzzle.

In the end, we are just two people who have been stripped of their life during the war.

The hawk scanned my pen with his yellow eyes. [I’m surprised Cassie didn’t leave you anything to eat. You must be starving considering how you never caught your prey last night.] He was right. It was just then when I realized how famished I really was, and the smells of critters in the barn wasn’t helping either… [Sit tight then. I’ll see what I can get for you.] With that, he was gone in a heartbeat, the sound of his wings slowly fading away into the distance.

Laying back down, I closed my eyes and contemplated on what I had said to him earlier.

We all have our own cup of sorrows.

Tobias… who knew he would be so different from what the world has crafted him out to be. He was no hero. He was no liberator of humanity. He was just… human.

However, this chance of actually meeting him… was this just another one of life’s many quirks or is there something meddling with my fate?

One can’t help but wonder.


Who even reads this anyways? >.> No one? Oh well, I'll keep posting 'em up! It actually gives me something to do....

To those who actually read this junk: Sorry for long delay. School happened.

Offline Drkchaos

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Re: Melancholy Crossroads
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2009, 01:20:07 AM »
Chapter 7 (Tobias)

I felt extremely stupid. I couldn’t even carry out a normal conversation without referring back to the closing events of the war. Since when have I changed so much? Even though what I said was truly what I felt, a weight of guilt once again fell upon me when those words escaped my mouth.

[You’ve come to haunt me from the past…]

What a stupid, stupid thing to say. I shouldn’t be having these feelings against Aaron, ex-controller or not. But yet, somehow I just can’t shake off the feeling of annoyance at him. He was able to escape into a primal bliss whereas I cannot. Everything came crashing down on me from the start, the absence of Loren throughout my entire life, the pains of being trapped, the loss of Rachel… I seriously doubt he had to suffer through as much ordeals as me.

Stop it! Just stop it!Man, I can’t even stop myself from feeling sorry for myself. Just thinking even more about it drags me down even further. Returning to reality and glancing down, I tried to focus onto my reason for being out here. Like Aaron, I haven’t eaten since last night’s whole fiasco. I was quite famished.

Quickly gliding over to my old meadow, I was actually quite relieved to see that no other hawks have decided to move into it yet. Focusing on the ground beneath me, I scanned around for any signs of movement. I didn’t have to try much. After a few minutes of surfing the thermals, quick, varying movements could be seen amongst the tall grass. It was a family of field mice, all spread out evenly, scavenging for food. It might not be enough for Aaron, but it’s enough to fill me up, I thought. Perhaps I’ll try catching a rabbit for him instead, but for now, I’m starved. It was a good thing they didn’t notice my shadow overhead yet, making it way easier for me. Apparently, in my absence, the prey here seems to have gradually grown careless. Circling overhead, I stuck out my talons and dived.

TSEEEEER!

A warm body hit my feet. Not missing this moment, I quickly closed my talons around the frantic, struggling mass. The creature went limp. Looking down, I realized I’ve actually caught quite a plump mouse, and immediately, my beak darted down and ripped it open. It was a refreshing feeling, the hunger ebbing away as I quickly guzzled down the still warm meat.

After the meal, I quickly flapped my wings to ascend back into the sky, eyes scanning once again for another prey to catch. The field mice have already scattered back into their burrows, now aware of the danger they’re in through the loss of one of their members. Circling the meadow a few times and coming up with nothing, I finally decided to try my own meadow. To be honest, it wasn’t too far away, especially when you have wings. Surrounded by a dense forest, the meadow was quite secluded from society. Soaring in the thermals, I looked down on the serene landscape, watching closely for any quick movements in the grass. Sure, there were plenty of mice, but I looked around for any signs of bigger rodents. The fall season is settling in, and the rabbits weren’t as many in number as they were before. I flew down onto my perch and glared down, shoulders hunched, ready to strike if my intended target does show.

The rabbit never showed. Strange, I thought to myself, I just saw one yesterday afternoon.But then again, it might be for the best. Flying with literally a large dead weight wasn’t too much fun, not to mention it may attract attention if any humans spot me. Sighing, I spread my wings and quickly swooped down; catching a mouse that unwisely crept too close to my tree. Feeling the weight in my talons, I decided that this prey should be plump enough to temporarily satiate a wolf’s hunger.

By the time I arrived back to Cassie’s barn, I realized that she was already home, as the barn door was wide open. Swooping in, I neatly landed on my usual spot on the rafters, balancing the dead mouse next to me. Cassie was in the middle of doing her rounds, refilling water bowls, and feeding the animals. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bunch of red, fleshy mass in the corner of Aaron’s pen. Defrosted dead mice. Aaron didn’t seem to mind though, as he was already in the process of gulping it down voraciously. [Don’t eat that stuff all up at once, dude. I’ve got some fresh prey for you,] I said in private thought speak.

The wolf looked up. [Really appreciate it. Cassie arrived a few minutes after you took off. I’m fine with just this though you know,] He said coolly, nodding down at the food Cassie prepared for him. However, he couldn’t hide the fact that his tail was faintly wagging, ears perked at my news. The sight of him playing cool made me smirk inwardly. Hawks don’t miss much.

“Morning, Tobias. Welcome back.”

I looked down, and met the eyes of Cassie, who was peering up at me intently. I simply didn’t respond, but just nodded my head in acknowledgment. She kept her eyes on me, eyebrows raised, and finally sighed. “Tobias, mind if I talk to you real fast?”

I stared at her. [About what?]

“Please.” She motioned her head to the door. Ah. She wanted to talk in private. Flapping down from the rafters, I grabbed the dead mouse and quickly dropped it in front of Aaron.

[Thanks!] His muzzle formed into a wolf’s version of a smile. [You… you’re coming back, right?]

[Yeah, I’ll just be right back I guess.] With that, I turned away and darted towards the open door. Cassie was already outside waiting for me. I descended down and perched on the wooden fence near her. She sat down next to me, arms crossed. I couldn’t help but notice the bags beneath her eyes. She sighed.

“Tobias… How did you meet Aaron again?” Of course. I’ve been anticipating this, but I wasn’t expecting for her to find out so fast. How much did she talk with Aaron anyways? Nevertheless, this was an extremely uncomfortable subject for me, and I remained silent, my hawk glare diverted away from her. “Tobias, please look at me.”

After a long silence, my gaze remained affixed to the far distance. [So he told you this morning?]

“I asked, Tobias. Please. I worry about you. Every one of us has been ever since you just took off.” This was when I would fly away, but something held me down on that fence, numbing my wings so I couldn’t escape from her words. I wanted to hide in shame, to just leave and go back to my meadow, living back in my own thoughts and world, but yet… I just sat there like a lame duck, asking myself why I’m even here at this barn. Cassie paused for a second, letting her words sink in. Yeah, this is why I wanted to just live like a normal hawk. I won’t have to deal with emotional stuff like this.

[What does it matter if I die anyway? I’m just a hawk now, nothing else. I’ve got nothing except for my meadow,] I responded bitterly, [Absolutely nothing.]

The words seem to have an impact, as Cassie bit her lips, a habit which betrays her calm demeanor. “It does matter, Tobias. It matters to everyone. It might no longer matter to you, but we care.” She walked into my view and stared straight into my eyes. “Rachel would’ve wanted you to live, Tobias. I know. I was her best friend.”

True, but what position was she in to say this, even if she was her best friend? [Rachel’s dead. She’s just ashes now. How can you know what the dead want?]

Cassie stepped back away from me and looked down onto the ground. “We all wish she was back, Tobias. Things wouldn’t have been like this if she wasn’t gone.”

[Yeah? Well, seems like you guys are having too much of a blast basking in the glory of being mankind’s savior now to even care. Don’t think I don’t know. I’ve heard things, Cassie. Even from my meadow–]

“Do you know how much sleep I get Tobias?”

[What?]

“Every night, I lay on my bed, thinking what things would be like if the events didn’t play out the way they did. Even if I do manage to fall asleep, I keep having dreams. Terrible dreams.”

I was shocked by the interruption. Cassie’s head was held up high now, her eyes determined and locked into my own.

“You don’t have to be on your own, Tobias,” Her hands lifted, waving towards the barn. “You’re not alone. The whole world may look like it’s celebrating, but many aren’t. Many have been hurt too.”

I ruffled my feathers in annoyance. Where have I heard this speech before? Too many times. Why couldn’t everyone just leave me alone? [I’m going back in. I need to talk to Aaron.]

“Wait. Just let me know, so I can sleep better at night, where’s your new territory.”

[You don’t need to be concerned about it.]

“What are you talking about? You almost got killed last night, Tobias! You expect me to just forget about all this?” Her shoulders sagged. “Please… tell me, for me. For my peace of mind.”

I turned away from her and took flight. Gliding overhead, I flew back towards the barn.

[I’ll think about it.]

Landing on my familiar rafters, I glanced down at Aaron. He looked up at me sheepishly. [Sorry… I got her all over your case, didn’t I?]

I stared down at him, puzzled. Oh yeah. Canine hearing. But why was he sorry? Of all the people, I should be the one apologizing to him. He doesn’t even know half the situation and he’s already apologizing. I sighed. Strangely enough, his apology really reminded me of myself when I lived life as a normal human being. Before the knowledge of the yeerks… before I met Rachel…

I straightened up and rearranged my wings. [Aaron, there’s no need for you to apologize. I’m the one at fault. I lied to her.] I shook my head at him, [listen, let’s start over. First off, let me apologize for what I said earlier. I have no clue what got into me to start rambling on like that. Second, please disregard what you just heard… I’d rather like to keep it between me and her.]

Aaron nodded, [I figured as much. Thanks for the mouse, by the way. It was more… well, delectable than the food she gave me.]

[Fresh prey always will be,] I sighed, [I wanted to get you a rabbit instead, as it would seem wolves would prefer it over mice, but I just couldn’t find any.]

[It’s fine. Thanks anyways.] Aaron got up and readjusted himself, lying down on his uninjured side. An awkward silence followed. Great. So this guy isn’t much of a conversationalist. Suddenly, he looked up. [Hey. You know… I’ve been thinking ever since last night, don’t you think it’s more of a coincidence that I would find you in such a situation?]

I flinched at the thought of the owl, its talons tearing at my flesh and wings… but his question does have a point. The chances of us meeting were really slim to none. What were the chances for wolves to actually wander into my territory anyways? Ever since moving to that new meadow, I was sure that I knew all the critters and inhabitants there. From the fox to the neighboring flock of crows, there never was a trace of wolves in the area. Of course, from my experiences, you never know if there actually is someone meddling with your life. I shrugged with my wings. [To be honest… I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to figure it out anyways. From what I’ve learned, it’s best to not question it.] I chuckled. [Besides, stranger things have happened, haven’t they? I’m a red-tailed hawk, talking to a gray wolf right now.]

He laughed, and shortly stopped. [A wolf and a hawk, huh?] A grim look came into his eyes. [Just a wolf now…] His ears flattened against his skull. [I’m really scared to be honest. It really feels like I have no control over my life. Things just keep flying at me.]

[Welcome to the club. How do you think I felt when I found out I could start turning into animals and that evil alien slugs were attempting to take over the world?]

A saddened laugh came in response. [We’re not so different, you and I.]

[Perhaps,] I said, and let out a soft chirp, a hawk’s version of a sigh, [In some ways, I guess.] I remained on my perch, slowly preening the blood off my feathers from the kill earlier this morning.

Aaron’s ears suddenly flicked. [Cassie’s coming back.]

I turned my head towards the door. Faintly, I heard footsteps making its way towards the barn. [I… I’ve got to go,] I muttered, [Sorry.] From the corner of my eyes, I saw Aaron nod. With that gesture, I darted through the gap between the doors and entered the open air.