That’s the thing about this place…
They’re like me.
I knew there were others like me. I knew I wasn’t the only one. But there’s still one question I have…
What about my past?
I never wondered much about my past. I would sometimes have vague memories here and there… voices, places, people…
I don’t remember my father. I don’t remember my mother much, either, but I do remember her wings. So large and grey and white, like mine. She would wrap her wings around me, sing to me lullabies about freedom and flying in the sky and leaving all of your worries behind.
Whenever I hug my own wings around me, I can almost feel her loving touch, keeping me warm and safe and…
I was interrupted by the sound of someone walking into the room. Her purple hair peaked out from behind the leaves, her usually yellow eyes a light blue shade.
“Hey,” said Celeste, walking into the room, revealing her purple and yellow wings. She fiddled with her celestine necklace. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for what happened. I was just trying to help. I guess I was just trying to prove to Zoe that I could help because I’m a healer like them and…”
She sighed. “I’m sorry.”
She hesitated, then turned to leave, but before she could disappear behind the leaves, I called out “Wait!”
Celeste turned, her thin antennas twitching in the air.
“I… I forgive you.” I smiled. “At least I’m not allergic to pollen.”
Celeste smiled as her eyes returned to their normal yellow. “Yeah, at least you aren’t. It’s not just any pollen, though.”
She reached into her bag and pulled out some of the yellow dust.
“It’s a special pollen that I got myself from the flower fields, not too far from here.”
She put the pollen back into her bag.
“I have healing abilities through the pollen. That’s why I blew it on you. Zoe and Felicity have healing abilities too, except Zoe uses her feathers and Felicity uses her plant powers.”
I nodded. I’ve never known much about small talk or conversations, or even socializing in general.
“Well… it was nice to meet you,” said Celeste as she turned to leave.
“It was nice to meet you too.”
“...and the food here is SO good, they have it specialized for your animal part!”
I followed Celeste into the buffet. She grabbed some bags labelled Butterfly, then grabbed some labelled Eagle and handed them to me.
“We used to have meat and all of the other foods that your animal part would usually eat, but after a protest by those whose animal parts are common prey, we devised a way to make food that tastes like what you want, but doesn’t smell or even look like it, so it doesn’t make all of the prey people nervous.” She winked at me as we sat down at an empty circular table.
I pulled out several containers labelled meat and berries, then pulled out a small, clear, squishy ball.
“Oh, that’s water,” said Celeste, noticing my confusion. “You just break the plastic film with your teeth and drink the water.” She popped her own water bubble into her mouth.
I hesitantly placed the strange clear ball into my mouth, then bit down on it. Water filled my mouth as the thin outer layer dissolved. Smart.
I opened the container to find a strange brown mush inside of it. Celeste was enjoying her own in a container labelled nectar. I spooned some of the brown mush into my mouth, surprised by the sudden taste of meat. I didn’t really recognize it, but my harpy eagle part did, and it was delighted. I spooned some of the brown mush from the other container into my mouth, sighing as the taste of sweet berries danced on my taste buds.
“Good, right?” asked Celeste. I nodded, my mouth too full to speak. I used to eat nothing but old, disconfigured lab rats and the occasional worm, but this… this was heaven.
I was so busy eating, I almost didn’t notice the person walking up to me. Her pale skin made her light red eyes stand out, her black hair littered with streaks of ginger. She had a grey and black tail that reached the floor, her animal ears large and prominent. Bits of grey and black fur covered her arm, becoming more and more dense as it got closer to her hand. Her smile, revealing two abnormally-sharp canine teeth, was brighter than any I had ever seen.
“Yo, Celeste!” called out the girl, sitting down next to her. “How’s it going?”
“Palak!” exclaimed Celeste, setting down her food. “Where have you been?”
“Oh, just out and about, causing mayhem, you know me,” responded Palak.
“Hopefully not too much,” teased Celeste, playfully punching Palak on the arm. “Oh, Palak, this is Harper. Part harpy eagle.”
“How’s it going, Harp?” said Palak, reaching out her hand. “The name’s Palak. Hyena, in case you couldn’t tell.” She smiled her million-dollar smile, seeming to dim the sun in comparison.
“Nice to meet you,” I said, reaching out my hand to shake hers.
“Well, I gotta bounce. I’ll see ya, Harp. Catch ya later, Celeste.”
“She’s nice,” I commented after she left.
“Yeah… oh, we gotta introduce you to the gang! Come on!”
We’re all sitting in a circle, basking in the afternoon sun. I recognized a few faces: Celeste, of course, along with Felicity and Zoe.
“Everyone, this is Harper,” said Celeste. “Harper, this is… everyone.”
“Wow, great introduction,” said a girl sarcastically, clapping her hands.
“How about you do it then?” snapped Celeste.
“Gladly. I’m Varsha, and this is my brother Luke. You’ve met everyone else already.”
Varsha and her brother were both very similar. They both had crystal blue eyes, pale skin, sharp canine teeth, and claws. Luke’s brown hair almost looked black, silver streaks peeking through. He had a bitten off wolf ear and a shaggy silver tail, both streaked with bits of black and white. Varsha, however, had light blonde hair and white wolf ears and a tail with not a bit of grey or black.
“What kind of animal are you?” asked Luke curiously.
“Luke!” exclaimed Varsha.
“No, it’s okay,” I said. “I’m a harpy eagle.”
“Harpy eagles are one of the most dangerous types of birds there are.”
Everyone stared at Celeste.
“What?” she asked. “I did my research.”
“Right, I forgot Celeste is a nerd,” commented Zoe, rolling her eyes.
“Hey!” shouted Celeste, tossing some leaves at Zoe.
“Oh, wow, I’m so scared! She’s gonna leaf me to death!”
“That’s it!” shouted Celeste, rising from the ground. “You’re going down!”
“Just try, slow-poke!” Zoe giggled as she stretched her white wings, escaping from the ground and into the blue sky. Celeste followed after, leaving a trail of pollen behind.
“Honestly, I can’t tell if they’re friends or enemies,” said Luke, shaking his head.
“Why not both?” asked Varsha.
“Those two, they act like sisters…” commented Celeste. “Fighting one minute, acting normal the next. Honestly... Felicity, what’s wrong?”
I looked up to see Felicity standing up and staring ahead, her large black eyes dilated in fear.
I followed her line of sight and went pale as I saw a small army dressed in black and red in the distance, a strangely familiar flag of a spider being held up as they marched straight towards us.