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The Island

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[bah! how long has it been my turn?! i didn't even realize sad.gif sorry gais!]

 

Sauda mumbled something in reply to Roko's statement, highly certain that they could no more change her opinion on swimming than Jace could! Well, she thought absently, she supposed Roko and Stripe could make it a little more exciting. She had been content to settle down, letting her eyes close and her body relax. The rhythmic, gentle stroke of Roko's fingers through her hair threatened to send her straight back to sleep but a sudden, unwelcome noise startled her.

 

Jace! Her mind immediately to the boy and she was already moving when Roko urged her forward. Stripe followed and, for a brief moment, Sauda paused to silently thank the two. How strange, to have come from being alone before, to have these two women here that cared for Jace as much as she did. Though she had only known them a short while, something inside her told her it would be hard to be without their company now. Nice as the thoughts were, Sauda let them go and focused on the direction the strange sounds had coming. Screaming, she thought, her protective instincts pulling her through the forest. Oh Jace, why did he always have to go wandering off? If only she had stopped him, kept him close to her side but...she couldn't shelter him like that forever but she still beat herself up about it. If any harm were to come to him...

 

Her heart slowed to a normal pace when she spotted Jace stand, unharmed, near a tree. She slowed to a stop beside Roko, steadying her breathing as to not alarm Jace. Not that anything that alarmed her even startled the boy. He was immune to anything remotely dangerous, facing the world with a sort of young bravery that she swore would one day give her a heart attack.

 

"Oh, yeah, Roo, we're fine," Jace answered Roko with a quick nod, once again oblivious to any part of this that might be dangerous. Sauda sighed in relief. He did indeed look unharmed. She was about to speak when Stripe ran off and Sauda turned her head in the tigress' direction. She hadn't heard what she'd said to Roko but Sauda lifted her nose to smell the air. Her brow knitted slightly. Blood...she turned her attention back to Jace.

 

"Who is your friend?" she asked, starting to walk over to them but Jace shook his head. She blinked and stopped, stepping back beside Roko. Jace gave her a look and gestured back to Grey. Oh...she was frightened. Jace turned back to the girl and whispered something to her, wrapping his hands around hers. She watched, surprised at how...gentle Jace was with the girl. Sometimes, she forgot there was more to him than the energized boy she always chased around.

 

"Well, I don't know her name but she's really hungry. I don't think she's eaten in awhile," Jace explained, glancing back at Roko and Sauda. He quickly looked back at Grey and tried to get her to grip his hands instead of her head. She had to be hurting herself, he thought, finally managing to get his fingers under the girl's. He didn't know if she'd take his hands, though. "It's okay. They won't hurt you. That's my family," he whispered to her, keeping himself between the girl and Sauda and Roko. "Can she come back with us?" he asked, looking at them over his shoulder.

 

"Of course," Sauda answered with a nod, looking over when Stripe appeared again...carrying an unknown girl. What was it today? She nodded to Stripe. Well, they'd have to take that little girl too. They couldn't just leave her. "It looks as if we'll have two guests for lunch."

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It was a calm day in the forest and none of the trees were moving except for one. The bright green leaves of this particular tree were moving rather violently as if something was shaking them. Just then that something appeared. A small red and white face poked out from behind a portion of the tree where there were no leaves growing. The dark brown eyes searched the jungle floor for a few seconds before deciding that it was safe to move. Stifling a yawn the small creature slowly came down from the tree. It paused when half of its body was exposed and examined the forest again. It rested there for a few moments and chewed on one of the leaves that had found its way in front of its face. After it had finished its snack the creature finished its descent and landed on the ground with a small thud, displacing a pile of leaves that had fallen off the tree.

 

Pausing for a second the creature, who was now recognizable as a red panda, swiveled its ears as if it was waiting for something. The red panda then took off through the forest trying not to step on any brittle twigs, although it did displace quite a few piles of leaves and this only succeeded in getting the leaves stuck in its red and ochre striped tail. Soon the red panda came upon a large redwood tree. The animal looked around one more time before focusing all of their concentration. Soon were the red panda had been standing a few seconds ago there was a girl completely exhausted sitting against the base of the huge tree. The girl had red and blonde striped hair that was tied back in a messy ponytail and was wearing a comfortable t-shirt and a pair of jeans.

 

After the girl had recovered from her transformation she took off at a brisk run through the trees. She was not really paying attention to her surroundings until she heard voices. Pausing mid-run the girl walked behind a tree into safety. Cautiously she peeked around the base of the tree hoping that it wasn't one of the scout patrols who came walking around the island. Instead it was a group of people, and at least two of them seemed badly hurt. Deciding to trust them, Fyre stepped out from behind the tree. She walked up to the group and heard them say something about lunch. "Can I join you as well?" she asked politely.

Edited by Fire-Ice

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Rona blinked her eyes open after a few minutes. She hadn't been unconscious for long. As Rona lay there on the forest floor, she realized that everywhere hurt. Her body ached and she found she couldn't move without being overtaken by a tidal wave of pain. Well if I can feel the pain, it means I haven't broken my spine or neck... Rona thought glumly. The pain almost seemed like it was vibrating as it washed over all of her sensations until all she heard was the rush of blood in her veins and her ragged breathing. I'm alive. I should be grateful. Rona thought, yet she found herself wishing that the fall had snapped her neck. It would have saved her from this agony. She was still shocked that she had fallen. Why now? Rona thought. Why had she fallen now of all times? Rona tried to shrug and was greeted by a shock of pain that seemed to ripple outward and travel along her nerves.

 

Gritting her teeth, Rona decided that it didn't matter. The pain wasn't important at the moment. What mattered was changing locations. I need... to... move... she thought weakly, yet she knew it was impossible. She could barely think comprehensible sentences let alone move. But... I... have to... she thought desperately. That was how she kept herself alive. There were many predators on this island, and she had no desired to be a meal for one of them. Yet now, she was weak and there wouldn't be anything she could do if something or someone attacked her. Gnashing her teeth together didn't help either. It just sent a trickle of pain along her jaw. I need to figure out what's broken and what's not. Rona decided. She tried to move her limbs despite the pain that resulted. Well, her left wrist came alive with pain when she twitched it. Broken... she decided. She received a replica of that response from her right leg and ankle. She tried to push her left elbow back and a flare or pain emanated from it. Broken. Rona tried to move her body and luckily her hip didn't seem to be in too much pain. At the most, it was probably severely bruised. While her neck wasn't broken, it was in extreme pain which meant it was probably sprained. Her spine ached, but it didn't seem to hurt too much. I probably fell on my side. Rona concluded. She knew for certain that she had at least a couple of broken ribs from the pounding in her ribcage area. Everything else seemed moderately fine.

 

Squeezing her eyes tightly together, she ground her teeth together and turned her head to the side. Rona ignored the torture that resulted from that simple movement. She focused on a wildflower that lay unharmed a few feet from where she lay. It was a deep violet color with a yellow core. Rona didn't know its name. She studied it for a while and when she closed her eyes she was sure that she could memorize every curve of the stem and every flaws that its beautiful petals contained. Every time she closed her eyes, she could tried to trace the image with her mind's eye. It took her mind off the pain and the cool stickiness she felt around her fingers. Blood... Rona thought. Their was a warm smoothness that was somehow sticky as well. It pooled around her sides and Rona traced the flower in the red liquid. She couldn't even feel the dirt beneath the blood. Well if this doesn't attract almost all of the predators on the island, I don't know what will. She didn't think she would last the rest of the day, if she even held out till the next hour.

 

Suddenly, a noise startled her. Someone's coming! Rona thought wildly. Half of her heart told her to run while the other half told her there was no use. She closed her eyes immediately and silently begged the newcomer to make her death quick. The flower... she reminded herself. She had to be strong. I refuse to cry... Rona thought, but a tear escaped her eye anyway. It slid off her cheek and into her blood. Strangely, the intruder didn't seem to want to attack her. They paused above her. Suddenly she was being carried as the newcomer carried her across the forest. Every step jolted her, and brought about a fresh wave of pain. However, Rona forbid herself from moving at all. Finally, the person stopped and Rona felt herself being lowered to the ground. Sure enough, her already aching spine met the hard ground, albeit gently, but it still hurt.

 

Rona heard voices, and cautiously, blinked her eyes open. A copper-skinned woman stood above her. She had hazel-gold eyes and orange hair. She looked oddly familiar. A young girl was weeping quietly with an even younger boy standing near her. In addition, two other women were standing near her. They seemed protective of the young boy. One had black hair, not unlike Rona's own, with a sharp gaze and the other woman had russet hair. She exuded an air of regality. Rona tilted her head slightly to the right, a sharp pinprick of pain greeted her at the back of her neck. "Who are you?" she murmured sleepily. "Where am I?" Rona didn't wait for an answer. An ocean of darkness had gathered at the edge of her consciousness. All Rona wanted to do was dive into the water and drown. Closing her eyes sleepily, she succumbed to a wave of endless blackness that crashed over her.

 

(She's not dead ;P)

Edited by SaphiraSapphire

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Roko turned as Stripe suddenly bounded away into the forest. Her sense of smell wasn't as keen as a tiger's, sine horses didn't have much of a need to pick up on traces of blood on the wind. However, she trusted something significant had caught Stripe's attention, and so turned back to study Jace and his new friend. The girl looked incredibly familiar, and Roko had the sense that she had even come across the frightened child at some point recently- perhaps a week ago? The horse-shifter wasn't certain. Quietly, she crouched in front of Jace, putting her only a feet or two in height below both the lion cub and civet children.

 

She felt Sauda beside her and glanced up at the lioness as if to say, 'What do you make of this?' Her gaze flickered back to Jace and Grey as the young boy turned to his shivering charge and pried her fingers from her head, as it seemed the girl was intent on digging her nails into her skin. Roko had the suddenly urge to embrace the girl and soothe her, but the intense hesitation and confusion that emanated from the child kept the raven-haired woman in her place. She was impressed with Jace's gentle handling, and even offered a small smile to the young girl when she peeked up at the grown women standing around them.

 

Grey lifted her head up slightly when Jace pulled her hands from her face. A small whimpering noise rose in the back of her throat, but his kind words calmed her a bit and she remained silent, round eyes nervously shifting from his young face to those of the adults standing near by. She first saw Roko, and now that she had a moment to register the woman's face in her mind, she remembered her from a while ago. The fierce woman who didn't like men, if she recalled her earlier observations correctly. She was surprised to find a new softness in the woman's gaze that she hadn't remembered seeing there before, and so took a long moment to stare back at Roko as if waiting for the horse-shifter's cold glare to return. When the woman merely blinked in mild surprise, Grey felt the tension in her shoulders relax considerably.

However, then her eyes rose to see Sauda. Immediately, Grey remembered her- she remembered encountering the woman before, a while ago, and how cowed she felt in the redhead's presence. It was an unconscious reaction of hers to shrink back behind Jace again, although she was a little less fearful now that she had Jace to cling to and Roko's familiar face near by. She stared openly at Sauda while clutching the boy's arm, and recalled her playdate with Jace that had marked the first time she'd ever met the lioness.

"Family?" She said softly after a moment, realizing Jace had spoken the word yet again. Her gaze momentarily shifted from Sauda to the young boy standing in front of her and then back to the grown women. That was his family? They were...nice? She studied the adult shifters with a new curiosity. Well, if they were Jace's family, they must be nice, she decided. Shyly, the dark-haired girl emerged from behind the cub-shifter and approached Roko, who was closest and kneeling down, thus much less frightening than Grey had originally taken her for. Roko was patient and smiled when the the girl drew closer, until finally Grey stood right beside the horse shifter and placed a small, anxious hand on the woman's bare shoulder. Roko placed her hand over Grey's and said, "Don't worry. We'll get you something to eat, okay?" Grey nodded silently, but remained close to the people deemed as her friend's family.

 

When Stripe arrived, however, Grey first flinched at the sight of a new figure. A girl somewhat close in age to Grey was deposited at the base of a tree, and she peered curiously at the unconscious girl from over Roko's shoulder. However, when she looked up to see Stripe, Grey gave a surprised yelp and sprung away from Roko and the others to throw her arms around the tigress's mid-section in a tight hug. "Striiiiipe!" She sang, and buried her face into the woman's chest. She knew her! She knew her! All the times that Grey had wandered close to Carnal's group, she remembered seeing the tigress. When she was little, she had even played a bit with the other cubs that Stripe had looked over, and it made her incredibly happy to see the woman again.

 

Roko glanced between Sauda and Stripe, obviously surprised by this sudden change in behavior from the girl. She faintly remembered Grey's small attention span, and so shrugged lightly. As long as the girl was okay, Roko didn't really care what kind of mood swings spawned every now and then.

The soft crunching of footsteps perked the woman's attention again, and she rose to her feet just in time to see another young-looking girl enter the scene. She looked more like Grey's age than the one that was just beginning to stir from sleep- or unconsciousness- and so glanced at Grey for a moment before exhaling softly. "I don't see why not," she answered, looking to Sauda and Stripe as confirmation. Upon glancing back to Fyre, she added, "We're going to the river if that's of any interest to you."

 

-x-

 

 

The gurgle of the stream was a pleasant background noise to the panda's period of relaxation. The large, furry creature was sitting in a a bush, pulling leaves from the low-hanging branches of the trees near by. It wasn't bamboo, unfortunately, but through the years he had learned to gain tolerance of the greens available for consuming. Therefore, as a thick paw stripped the leaves of of a skinny branch, he munched contented on his snack and overlooked the gentle brook that branched off from the main river. From his location, he could see the point of cleavage that designated the stream from the river, and in so he also watched over a good stretch of river bank as well. He saw some deer creeping out of the trees to take a drink, and continued to chew on his bountiful meal.

 

The shadows did well to hide him from view, although the white areas of his body were still sorely noticeable from any direction. He was happy in his spot- or at least, as much as Henderson could be happy on a given day- and grabbed his dark feet with his paws to rock back against a tree trunk like a playful cub. He needn't worry about others around him, that much was for certain. Not many shifters came to this part of the island, much less anyone that might recognize him from that fateful night that cost him his wife and child. Occasionally he caught sight or wind of a figure that looked familiar, but he was glad to be left to his own in the woods.

 

Movement on the far side of the riverbank caused the panda to lift his fuzzy face again. A herd of horses had broken out from the trees at a leisure trot and were making for the river; he spotted a few young ones in the midst, and was glad that the horses had chosen a spot that was peaceful and shallow for their children to play in. He observed the horses quietly and calmly, occasionally rocking back again for the comfort that the repetitive motion gave him.

Edited by Shiny Hazard Sign

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((x-x sorryyy...))

 

The girl she had carried woke up as she set her down, and Stripe glanced at the newcomer. She didn't recognise the red-and-blonde striped hair, nor could she see a familiar mark on the girl. Her named was called in a delighted wail, and she whipped her head around to see Grey bounding toward her. A grin spread across her face, and she hugged the young girl back. The little arms were tight around her torso, and the woman chuckled quietly.

"Hello cub," she greeted quietly. "How have you been? You okay?"

Stripe looked up, seeing the confusion and surprise on one or two faces, and grinned at them. Her gaze flicked back to the injured girl, bleeding over the tree and groaning words. Letting go of Grey, but keeping an arm around her, Stripe leaned toward the girl who was rapidly approaching unconsciousness. She took up her right hand, rubbing her thumb over the palm in soothing circles for a moment, until the girl went limp once more.

 

She released the hand, laying it over the girl's lower stomach, just as a stronger gust of wind warned them of the approach of the thunderstorm. Stripe frowned in the direction, squinting her eyes against the current of air, but all she could see were the trees bowing. Perhaps that was why this girl had fallen, was she in the trees?

"There's a storm coming. Would the river really be safe at a time like this?" she looked toward Roo and Sauda. "We should probably find a place for that one." She nodded toward the unconscious girl, wondering where the blood was coming from.

 

~

 

Smelly and severely disgusted, Tail dragged his feet in the sand on the way back to the caverns, as Zorillo bounced. She was pleased to have managed to spray him, because he really deserved it. A gust of wind, the same one that had worried Stripe, sent up a spray of sand that peppered their backs. Zo yelped, covering her eyes, as Tail groaned and did the same. He spat out sand as it passed, and they hurried back into the maze of caves. The older shifter, the one caring for the young, welcomed them back with a laugh at the scent of Tail.

"You smell terrible," she giggled, causing the toddler to babble out a high-pitched laugh.

 

Zo grinned and shook the sand from her hair. "There's a pretty big storm heading this way, and it's going to hit soon. Do we go to the main cave?"

The woman looked out the the steely seas, already rough, and on to the black cloud of thunder. A jagged streak of light split the skies. The threatening rumble that followed could be heard across the island. With a nod, they gathered the children and hurried through several tunnels to the main cavern, set deep within the cliffs, and rejoined the group. Tail was forced to sit to one side, but Zo sat with him, cuddling into his side. She hated thunderstorms.

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[how long has it been my turn?! omg you gais, i'm so sorry D: we've had a lot going on here in the family but i'll post right now, Bubbles! again, you gais shouldn't hesitate to pester me when it's my turn xd.png]

 

"Probably not the safest," Sauda answered Stripe, also having picked up on the growing winds. Seeing as she hated getting wet, it was safe to assume that Sauda didn't like being out in storms, either.

 

"Aw, you mean we don't get to go swimming?" Jace asked, now standing by Roko, since Grey had left him fro Stripe. He supposed that was okay, as long as she came back later and he was allowed to get food for her. After all, he had offered and he was going to take care of her.

 

"Well, do you want to be sucked down the river?" Sauda asked him, cocking an eyebrow at him. Jace thought for a moment before shaking his head. "I didn't think so," she added with a slight smile, watching as Jace crossed his arms and leaned against Roko's leg. He didn't like having his plans ruined, especially by a thunder storm. Though he wasn't afraid of them any longer, Jace didn't like how he had to stay cooped up during storms. Sauda walked over to Stripe and the unconscious girl, kneeling beside her. Oh, what to do with her? They couldn't just leave her here but was it smart to leave her in a cave somewhere? "Should we take her with us?"

 

"To the river?" Jace asked again hopefully, still refusing to accept that there was a storm coming. Maybe it would just blow over? He walked in a slow circle around Roko, as if contemplating something or thinking of some way they could still go swimming, ignoring Sauda's glances.

 

"No, not the river," Sauda told him once more, shaking her head at him. She was going over the little girl's body, trying to find the source of the bleeding. Maybe she could find something to patch her up with. "There's a cave just east of here we could settle her up in. She should be okay there," she told Stripe, looking up at her and having to squint against the wind. The strong air currents tossed her hair over her shoulders, wiping it about in wild curls. "We ought to find a place too," she added, looking between her two female companions.

 

"Roko," Jace whispered, having stopped and just attached himself to her, arms about her waist. "Do we really not get to go to the river?" he added, making sure to keep his voice down. Sauda could hear him, of course, but she didn't make any notion that she could.

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((I'll try to remember next time. ^^;))

 

Carnarl

He followed the woman down the brightly lit corridor, hating the artificial light, and the smell. By the gods, that smell; it was like the ruins of the old colony, bathed in sulfur. The volcano was active, after all, even though it had not erupted for many years. His heavy footsteps echoed around the silent hall, while the woman's heels clicked against the linoleum. He said nothing, and neither did she, which was good. She was a smart woman, for a human. The rumble of thunder rolled over their heads, and the silent pair didn't acknowledge it. They stopped in front of a door, the scientist poking at a keypad. She entered the pin correctly, and the metal door slid open with minimal sound.

 

He walked in, and there she was. Sitting in the very center of her cell, staring out of the barred, glass panel that served as a one-way window into the courtyard. She could see out, but no one could gawk at her. He took in the dark hair, streaked with gold, the tipped and spotted ears, the feminine shoulders, the white wings, tipped with a deep brown... His gaze traveled further, past the spots just a tad darker than her skin tone, the dull black of a tattoo on her lower back - the remnant of her past life - and down the length of her tail, coiled on the cold floor. Her right ear flicked back at them, and he caught a glimpse of a fluffy inner part, before she turned to face them.

"Hello, Carnarl."

Her voice was soft, like velvet, and contained a pain that he had never heard before. He could see the sadness in her eyes, the misery in the dry smile on her lips, and the sorrow burning her from within.

"This is Prototype A, or Toto," the scientist said.

Carnarl couldn't drag his eyes away from the girl. The unimaginable horrors that must have been done to her... to give her such features... The thought chilled him.

"Toto," he murmured. "Hello."

Rage welled within him, and the shift threatened to break and tear apart his humanity. How dare they do this sort of thing to one of their own?

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((Sorry guys! I have been overloaded with schoolwork lately))

 

Fyre looked up when yet another person entered the scene. She was carrying an unconscious girl in her arms. So many people seemed to be getting hurt. Glancing around Fyre checked that no one else was coming. Then one of the other woman told Fyre they were going to the river.

 

"I would love to go with you guys, and lunch sounds delicious..." Fyre said, "But do you think it is smart? A storm seems to be on its way over." To confirm her complaint, she looked up at the darkening sky, and shuddered. She hated storms. They were noisy, scary, and they typically made it really cold. Fyre liked the weather just right. And the winds that often came with the storms were even worse, especially if her hair was down because they blew her red and blonde striped hair in front of her face. During most storms she shifted into animal form and hid, but she wasn't sure if she should in front of this group of strangers. And it wasn't polite to leave them now, especially with injured people. She may be shy, but she wasn't rude.

 

Fyre continued to watch the group and the girl who had been sitting by the tree suddenly got up and ran to the woman who had carried the unconscious girl shouting Stripe. So Fyre assumed that must be her name. Then the boy who had been sitting near the girl also got up and wanted to go to the river. Fyre stared at him like he was insane. Of course, she didn't know them very well yet, maybe one of his favorite pass times was swimming in freezing water during a storm. He seemed to be listening to one of the other woman and Fyre assumed that it must be his mother. The boy began circling around a third woman and called her Roko. That meant Fyre knew two of their names.

 

The mother walked over to Stripe and the unconscious girl. Fyre slowly followed and stayed standing when the other woman knelt near the girl. They talked about taking the girl to a cave.

 

Fyre stood still for a few seconds and finally getting over her shyness she asked, "Can I do anything to help?" While she waited for an answer she stood with her hands behind her back slowly shuffling her feet in the dirt.

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((Hey guys, if you haven't noticed, I've just joined. It might be Haze's turn, but imma jump in right here, okay? xd.png))

 

As the white reindeer form slunk in, out and around trees, Rukai grazed on any edible bushes or grass she could find. Pausing to sigh to herself, then continuing. Kye took a large mouthful, then rose her head to scan the area for anyone; predators or otherwise. Finding the coast clear, she returned to her pathetic excuse of a meal.

 

Ever couple moments, Rukai's eyes returned to the surroundings. This time, she checked the sky. She watched as dark clouds rolled in; she huffed in reply. I guess it's about time to find shelter...

 

She stepped lightly and lively. Hopping over bushes and fallen trees, she returned to her hideout; a wide and bushy tree that blocked out rain exceptionally well, and as long as she stayed far enough from it's branches, she was almost completely safe from any lightning that struck. Unless of course, it struck the tree down.

 

Ducking under the growth, she entered. There was a small overturned patch of dirt that she had dug (more like scratched at) for a softer bedding. Rukai carefully pawed out any leaves that had fallen in, and proceeded to lie down, tucking her legs under her body.

 

Goodnight, she told herself. Sleep tight...

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As the winds grew harsher against the upper canopy of the forest, Roko lifted her chin to gaze upward at the sky. Leaves and debris floated down from the shaking branches, and the wind was heavy with the scent of rainwater. Roko inhaled deeply for a long moment, dark eyes scouring the cloudy sky calmly. Had she been in her horse form, she would have been snortly softly through her nostrils and testing the air like an attentive lead mare. Her thoughts quickly crossed to that of her herd, but she knew that the other horses would take note of the changing weather and make for higher banks. She worried a little about easily-spooked colts and fillies that could have been in danger of running off at the first crackle of thunder. Hopefully the stallions of her herd were responsible enough to secure any that might try to gallop away, for Roko had other matters to attend to first.

 

Though it was not the first time Roko had been surrounded by so many different shifters, she certainly felt strange be among so many all at once again. As she lowered her eyes from the clouds to survey the group that had gathered, she placed a hand on Jace's shoulder as his arms wrapped around her midsection. "The river would be no fun at this point, Jace," she answered simply, glancing down at him. "The water will be too rough and high, and there would not be much shelter. We'll go when it's safe." She tried not to disappoint him, but as she was protective with the little ones in her herd, Roko was the same with Jace and all the others that surrounded her now. It was almost as if this was a new herd for her to look after.

 

 

Grey grinned at Stripe and gave her a tight squeeze before letting go and bouncing back toward Jace, now obviously void of all previously shy and frightened behavior. Though she was still lightheaded from lack of food, her excitement of being around people (especially one that she knew!) had momentarily spiked her energy. She slung herself onto Jace in a playful hug and piped, "Grey is so hungry!" With a sudden yawn, the girl stretched her hands above her head and smiled at the red-headed girl that seemed close in age to her. Having nothing else to do, Grey dropped to the ground and sat cross-legged on the grass, gazing between all the others with slightly dulled eyes.

 

 

Roko ruffled Jace's hair for a moment before detaching herself from him and joining Sauda by the unconscious girl on her other side. After a moment's study, she tucked one arm under the girl's knees and the other under the girl's neck in preparation to lift her, but noticed a smear of red around the child's ankle. "Her foot," she said, nodding toward the girl's feet. The muscles in Roko's back tightened as she lifted the girl off the ground, but the child felt so light that the extra weight didn't appear to affect the grown woman much at all. She gestured with a wave of her head toward the direction that Sauda had mentioned a cave. "We should get this one comfortable first. Afterward we'll figure out our plans for the day and wait out the storm."

 

She glanced once towards Jace and Grey before leaning toward Sauda and lowering her voice barely above a whisper so that the feisty lion cub couldn't hear. "I'm still going to the river banks to get food. There aren't fruit or nut plants around here and the rocky cave terrain won't yield much better. If you stay with Jace and the girls, Stripe can go hunt for you meat-eaters. Or the other way around, it doesn't matter." Her gaze flitted over toward the tigress shifter for a moment, looking for agreement.

 

 

-x-

 

 

The river water was starting to churn from the wind as it picked up speed and ferocity across the surface. The panda sat upright again, watching the horse herd withdraw from the banks and retreat into the protection of the thick woods. Though the bear was nestled in the protection of tree trunks and shrubs, he was still on the edge of the tree line and felt the cold wind sink through his fur. With a huff of disappointment, the panda stripped a few more pawfuls of leaves from the branches nearby, stuffed them into his large cheeks, and rolled onto all four paws. He cast one last look at the river as it rapidly grew more dangerous before ambling further into the thicket, munching on his small stock of food contently.

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No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no! the red-haired girl thought as she scrambled among the thickets. They were after her, and she knew her chances of escaping them were slim. It's not fair! she wanted to wail, but instead she kept running and running. The ground seemed to be rising against her as roots popped out of nowhere to seemingly trip her, and low branches tried to block her path. Insects and other pests swarmed around her, but the girl kept on sprinting. Her bare feet ached every time they hit the cruel, jagged ground. Once she stumbled to her feet, and a cheer of triumph sounded from behind her. Sobbing, she staggered to her feet and continued to run through the jungle.

 

Sometimes the girl was a fox and sometimes she was just... a girl. One moment she would be running on two legs and the next, she would be loping through the trees on four. Distress shifted her form constantly, each time sending a tearing pain down her spine. She was so tired, and every time she let out a breath it stabbed at her lungs. I have to rest... she thought desperately. But then they'll catch you.

 

Tears trickled down her face, which in a few minutes, turned into a vixen's red snout. The transformation robbed her of her last few molecules of energy. The fox girl crumpled to the ground in a sobbing heap, as she twitched back into the shape of a girl. Her heart beat slowed, and for a minute all she saw was the shape of a net casting over her, before something hit the back of her head and she entered a deep, soundless sleep.

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Toto

 

Toto's ear flicked toward the rumble of thunder; the storm swept closer, threatening to engulf the island. She was perfectly safe in her prison of cold concrete, shining steel, and bullet-proof glass along one of the walls. She had a one-way view of the courtyard. She wasn't sure why they had chosen to put her in a cell with a window, but it was probably to taunt her. The experimental creature yearned to fly in the skies, now blackening and heavy, and prowl in the forests of trees, their trunks presently bending in the growing gale. Alas, she could not. Her wings were too small, too weak and fragile to support her weight; they were just for show. Her eyes, which had wandered to take in the oncoming tropical storm, moved back to the pair in front of her.

She stood, slowly, tail moving to counterbalance her weight without a conscious thought. Her hands loosely entwined at the front of her hips, and a pleasant expression on her face.

"What can I do for you, on this... lovely day?" she asked.

A slight twist to her expression at the sarcasm, before her mask fell back into place.

 

Carnarl stared at her; she could almost feel the rage burning in his veins. The poor, angry elephant, she thought, without emotion. He was better off now, with his band of shifters torn apart by the inferno, than she would ever be.

 

~

 

Carnarl

 

He swallowed the bitter taste in his mouth, and forced the beast of his soul back where it belonged. He pushed a hand through his grey hair, looking down at the scientist woman beside him.

"Why was she created?" His voice wasn't far off an animalistic growl.

"For science," the woman replied calmly, as if she hadn't noticed his reaction to the avian-feline woman in the cell. "She would be an ornamental product. She was quite the success, compared to the others."

Carnarl could barely believe it; there were more like this?

"What happened to the others?" The elephant was there again, begging to be released, to smash this horrible compound to pieces.

"They were failures, therefore they were disposed of."

 

Toto looked away, wrapping her feathered wings around her shoulders. She had been good friends with several of the failures.

 

Carnarl narrowed his eyes. "I've seen enough."

The crash of thunder rattled the building. The splinter of lightening that followed it illuminated the small cell, and threw a new light onto the Prototype's dark expression.

 

~

 

Stripe

 

They had decided against the river, which was good. The cubs with them - the number was growing far too quickly - would be safer in the cave. One of the new girls - not much younger than Stripe - had hesitantly walked over to where she was, shuffling her feet and asking if she could help. The motherly tigress smiled gently at her, before glancing down to Grey as she ran off to Jace. Her yellowed eyes flicked to Roo. With wide eyes, she admired the shifter's form as the other gazed up at the darkening sky. She tore her gaze away, red spreading over her cheeks, to look at Grey.

 

"Grey is so hungry!"

With a concerned frown, she wondered what the young shifter ate. Was it meat? Could she track down something for the child, for the group? Stripe knew several of the small band of shifters weren't carnivores, but there were a few that did. Movement from Roko distracted her from her thoughts once more; the equine shifter had moved over to them and started to lift the unconscious girl. She had paused, before pointing out the source of the bleeding - the cub's ankle. After a moment of captivation, caused by the movement of the beautiful shifter's shoulders tensing as Roo picked the girl up, Stripe stretched, popping several vertebrae of her spine.

 

Roo quietly spoke to Sauda, and Stripe turned the side of her head toward the woman to listen in. The tiger frowned; Roko was going down to the potentially deadly river, all by herself. She rumbled quietly. The growl was drowned out by the booming of thunder. Something wet dropped onto her nose; Stripe blinked, putting her hand to her face, then glancing up.

"Rain," she muttered, then, louder, "We'd better hurry up."

She caught the gaze of Roko, and nodded. She would hunt for their little group of shifters. Stripe cast a concerned look at the girl in Roo's arms, wondering what her dreams were doing to her, to make her seem so tense.

 

 

((Okays~. Now that that's over with, could everyone please delete their OoC posts in this thread~ c:))

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Jace looked up at the sky, sniffing the air to catch the sweet smell of rain. He glanced at Sauda and grinned a bit. He didn't mind getting wet, but he knew that she hated it. It was hysterical to him, how she could despise water so much, which was one of the reason he made her chase him through creeks and small rivers so often. When Roko had left, Jace dropped to the ground beside Grey and sat crossed-legged as she did. He looked at her, wondering what she ate. Sauda always got food for him, so he wondered who got food for Grey. "What do you eat?" he asked her, tipping his head at her, several strands of blonde hair falling into his face. He would just go get Grey some food himself but he didn't think Sauda would like that too much. They would probably be moving soon and she would yell at him if he got lost. "Do you meat or plants? I think plants are pretty gross, but Sauda says that some animals eat them. Sauda! Are we leaving soon? Grey's hungry!"

 

"Yes, in a minute, Jace," Sauda replied calmly, though she was getting a little frazzled. Where were all these young ones coming from? It had been hard enough at times for her to keep track of Jace, let alone more of them! She could feel the pressure building behind her head and took a deep, slow breath, trying to contain her calm demeanor. She carefully took the girl from Roko's arms, figuring it was her new appointed duty to find a safe place for everyone, since Roko and Stripe were both going hunting. "I'll get them all somewhere safe," she promised Roko, holding the woman's gaze for a moment. "I promise. We'll head east and find a cave, wait for you there," she said, now looking between the equine shifter and Stripe.

 

"Alright, Jace!" she called, watching him jump to attention. "Bring Grey and follow me," she instructed, before looking at the young girl, the one who had offered her help, and seemed so to be so patiently waiting. "Why don't you help me look for some shelter? I know the cave is east of here, if you could help me keep an eye out for it, that would be lovely," she told her, trying her best to smile at the girl, but it probably came off as more of a grimace than anything. Still, she appreciated the girl's offer.

 

'Come on, Grey," Jace said, holding out his hand, as if he meant to haul her right off the ground. "We gotta go with Sauda before the rain comes. Maybe we'll get you something to eat along the way!"

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Fyre tried to stop shuffling her feet but found that she couldn't. It was the only thing keeping her from not running away from this large group of people. They were even all shifters, and she was typically never found associating with other shifters. Her heart was beating quickly from the stress and cold weather, and her animal instincts told her to run and hide, but by shuffling her feet she managed to keep her mind in control and focus on the situation.

 

Everyone was moving around way too quickly for Fyre to keep track of every movement, so she tried to just look at the older shifters because they did not move around quite so much as the younger shifters who seemed closer to her age. She wondered if she was supposed to move around as much as these others her age did, but she had always been more mature and not as active as others.

 

Focusing on the group of older shifters she saw the one they called Stripe smile at her. The smile was very motherly and made Fyre feel right at home. Without any hesitation she smiled back at the other shifter and couldn't take her almost pure black eyes off of her as she watched Stripe admire the shifter called Roko. Once Stripe moved her gaze to one of the girls that looked like Fyre's age she turned to look back at the other shifters. They seemed to be having a discussion about what to do, atleast that is what she assumed they were doing. That was what she would be doing if she was in their position. She contemplated going over to them and asking again if there was anything to help with since no one had answered her yet, but she decided to wait a little longer.

 

Sure enough one of the other shifters turned to her and said that she could help look for shelter. The shifter tried to smile at her, but it looked more like a grimace to Fyre, maybe because of all the stress the group was going through at the moment. "Okay." She managed to reply and she also tried to smile at the shifter, but she wasn't exactly sure if she smiled because right then a raindrop fell right in front of her and landed on her bare feet.

 

"Ah!" she yelled quite loudly. and then because of the shock of the cold drop jumped a couple feet into the air and landed on one foot. Before she could gain control of her other foot, the one foot she was standing on slipped on the wet ground and she fell to ground with a loud thump. Almost instantly her cheeks became as red as her hair and she didn't even bother to get up because she couldn't bear to see the faces of the other shifters. Why did something like this always have to happen to her? She remained on the ground still blushing for a few seconds and each time another raindrop fell on her she tensed up a little. She was used to dipping her paws into water to get a drink when in animal form, but she really did not like water in human form, other than to drink when necessary.

 

 

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Roko remained quiet as she unloaded the unconscious girl into Sauda's arms, her eyes lingering on the child's face in a brief moment of curiosity and distant thought. Weeks ago she wouldn't have been caught dead mingling with so many others, let alone being friendly, though she supposed her hostility was considerably weakened with the lack of a male presence. Jace didn't quite count yet; boys were innocent and rambunctious, but nothing like the incompetence exhibited by men. Either way though, she liked the youngster, and had a hard time believing her opinion of him would change as he grew older.

 

She also remembered when she first encountered Stripe, and how she had chased the tiger through her plains as if she were a wildfire licking at the cat's heels. That was the day Roko's whole world pretty much changed, for soon after she chased down that tiger, the two never seemed far apart. The day of the fire, the flying demon, her numerous wounds. Remembering how severely burnt she was, Roko took a moment to blink down at her wrists and abdomen. Up her forearms and the surface of her taut belly were silvery ribbons of pink blossoming out like tongues of fire across her sun darkened skin. The same held for her ankles and a small patch on her hip, and there was even a smooth patch of scar on one of her cheeks. It was remarkable how well and quickly the horse-shifter had healed from that night. Hadn't it been only a week? It felt like months.

 

Then she noticed she was still grasping Sauda's forearm after transferring the fainted girl to her companion. She could feel the tension in the woman's muscles, probably from the stress of getting all the youngsters to a safe place. Roko placed her other hand on Sauda's and squeezed lightly. When they held gazes, the equine murmured through the grumble of the storm, "You be safe too. We'll be back as soon as possible." The concern in her dark eyes was striking, and at last she released the lioness and moved toward Stripe. In that moment however, one of the girls yelped and hopped back on one foot, only to slip and fall down. Roko blinked in surprise, but did not seem to hesitate as she reached down and grasped the girl by the arm to help her to her feet- and hopefully remain there. "You alright?" She asked, brushing some of the mud from Fyre's shoulders. After deeming the child well enough to continue on with Sauda, she encouraged the girl to join the lionness and her little throng of young ones as they started on their endeavor.

 

Roko threw one last look over her shoulder at the group, narrowing her eyes against the wind as it tossed rain drops against her face. "Jace, you listen good to Sauda now," she called, giving him and his friend Grey a short wave before turning and clasping her hand around Stripe's to get them moving. She didn't want to take too long in this rain, in case it turned into something fierce and deadly. She had a new herd to protect and she'd be damned if she let anything happen to them.

 

As the equine-shifter picked her way through the trees, keeping her hold on Stripe, she wondered back to the week when their friendships were first established. One week ago, Roko was a wild, highly territorial menace who ran down anything that trespassed on her plains. Now that her plains were charred and her horse herd had moved, she no longer had any territory to lay claim to. It was a bit of an odd feeling for her, something that made her a little uneasy at times also. She was not used to the life of a constant traveler. She always had that place to call home. But now, only a week later, she could not even imagine giving up her role in this little herd to live in a single place. She couldn't imagine her life without Stripe, or Sauda, or Jace. Perhaps even little Grey, too, and someday maybe the other girls.

 

Roko had never given much thought to the meaning of life before, save for protecting her herd and ensuring the survival of the little ones, but now she found herself fumbling to grasp what might lie in her future. Didn't most women her age settle down with mates, have foals, and nurse their family until old age? Roko cast an unconscious glance toward the tiger shifter in her hand. Well, she seemed to already have the foals part down, with all those children popping out of nowhere. And to where ever they were headed, Roko was uncertain, but she hoped that their destination would lead them all into a happy life. She tried to imagine herself settled down, foals of her own bloodline romping around as a mysterious male figure served as the father. But that didn't seem right. The more she tried to picture it, the stranger she felt. The more blurry the attempted vision became. Perhaps it was not her path, then, to be having children. Who knows what kind of a mother she'd make, anyway; childbirth was not particularly enticing of a thought. She liked the little ones that were already born.

 

This left a little hole of disappointment in her, though. Did this mean she was not destined to have a mate? Was she meant to live alone, as she had preferred a single week ago? A frown creased at the corners of her mouth as she tried to acknowledge that this could be a probable future for her. She had Stripe and Sauda, didn't she? Then again, the two cats certainly had more in common than they did with her, perhaps they were more suited for each other than Roko. Her brow pinched with worry, and the equine shifter exhaled silently.

 

She could hear the river water beginning to thrash at the banks moments before they arrived at the shore. Roko stood in the open, near the protection of the groaning trees, pausing a moment before beginning her foraging. She surveyed the grey spanse of foaming water for a long moment before turning and curling her fingers around Stripe's wrists and bringing them close to her chest, to the bare space just below her collarbone and hoof-print markings. "I don't care if you have to kill something a foot from where I stand," she started, mocha eyes gazing fully and somewhat sadly into Stripe's, "but please stay close." The old warrior in Roko flinched at the vulnerability present in her plea, and at the fact that she felt compelled to plea at all, but with the winds rising in ferocity and speed, she could not chance letting Stripe get separated from her. Ever. It was hard enough having to be away from the others already.

 

 

Grey's head felt fuzzy, and when she tilted it back to look up at Jace, her vision swam. Whoo! "I eat lots of stuff," she answered somewhat weakly, her thoughts turning to images of fruit and bugs and reptiles she'd eaten in the past. She also liked rats, if she was lucky enough to find such a rare morsel. Or even catch it.

 

She pulled absentmindedly at a strand of straight dark hair that had fallen in front of her face and waited for the adults to decide their course of action. She let herself sink into thought to try and ignore the pains of hunger gnawing at her insides and making her feel sick. If she estimated from the last time she'd kept count of the days, her fifteenth birthday should be sometime around the next few days. Not that it mattered much; she hadn't celebrated a birthday since her family died.

 

When the girl near her age slipped and fell, Grey jolted back to reality and stared in surprise over at the fallen girl. Roko was quick to pull her upright, and as the older women began to part ways, the civet shifter suddenly noticed the drops of rain as they splattered on her nose and cheeks. "Oh," she said, as if hardly noticing the bleak nature of the sky above them. Only when Jace thrust his hand toward her in an offer to help, did she grasp it and stand on her feet, looking slightly more alert than a few moments before. Shelter sounded like a nice thought right around then, and she was eager to be somewhere safe and curled up with her warm friend. With a yawn, Grey folded her fingers into Jace's and took a somewhat reluctant step toward Sauda. There was still something about the lion-woman that made Grey feel on edge, but knowing that Jace was good friends with the lioness made Grey feel a little better.

Edited by Shiny Hazard Sign

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[ Just dragging this out of the dust as a friendly reminder |D ]

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Stripe jumped as someone let out a cry of alarm, whirling to see the danger. She caught the girl slipping and falling into the dirt as fat raindrops did the same. She tried not to laugh at the girl, but grinned, shaking her head, as Roo moved to help. The little bit of mud was brushed from the cub as Stripe watched, glancing at the rest of the group to do a quick headcount. The unconscious one, Grey, Jace and the one with fluffy, red hair. Stripe looked around again; there were quite a few of their group with auburn hair. How odd. Thunder rumbled overhead; she looked upward now, as the rain fell harder. The raindrops hit her upturned face, rolling down her cheeks and dropping to her tanned shoulders. A smile played across her lips; she loved the rain and the wet.

 

Lifting a hand to wave a farewell to the rest of the group, she followed Roko to the banks of the river. The water churned and foamed, carrying bits of trees downstream. They hadn't seen many other creatures during their short journey, so Stripe assumed hunting would be hard. The animals of the island seemed to go into hiding during tropical storms like the one overhead. The pair of shifters were rather soaked, as the rain had been falling heavily since they had left the rest of the group.

Roo had stopped, staring at the grey, angry river. Stripe stood beside her, frowning and peering upstream. The equine shifter turned to her, and the tigress was once again struck by the dark beauty of the other woman. She listened to her uncharacteristically vulnerable plea, and realised how difficult it must have been to make for the proud shifter. The wind tore at them, tugging their hair and forcing the trees to bow and bend. The old tree next to them creaked and groaned at the growing gale. The tiger shifter finally nodded, a serious expression on her face.

"Of course," she murmured, barely audible above the wind whipping through the trees.

To hunt, she would have to shift. She wasn't sure about Roko's method of gathering, but she assumed that she would have to stay in that form. Her hazel-golden eyes dropped to her hands, clasped against Roo's chest. She noticed the pink scars; remnants of the fire that burned across the island. The wounds looked better, as they had healed very quickly. Stripe was pleased.

Thunder rolled overhead, followed by a crash of lightning. The storm had set in for some time, it seemed. Jace's swim in the river would have to wait.

 

((Finally finished with school fer the year~ yay~))

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"Alright, all here," Sauda murmured to herself, laying the unconscious little one against the wall. Not sure what exactly to do with her, Sauda patted her gently on the head and turned to the others. "Well, just settle in and we'll wait for Roko and Stripe to return."

 

"Grey needs food!" Jace announced, marching right back out of the cave and into the bushes nearby. Sauda rolled her eyes and stood at the entrance of the cave, watching him.

 

"Get in here," she said, arms crossed lightly over her stomach. Jace pretended not to hear her, though he really might not have, given the rain, and continued to forage like a regular ol' herbivore. "Jace. Now.

 

"Just a minute!" Jace called back, but finally returned inside, shaking the rain from his hair once he was passed Sauda. He went over and dropped his armful of scavenged things in front of Grey. "Here you go. Eat!"

 

"Those are weeds, Jace," Sauda commented, shaking her head.

 

"They are not! It's food for plant-eaters," Jace protested, rolling his eyes at Sauda, as if she could not be sillier for saying such a thing. "See, there's berries and twigs and stuff."

 

"And this is why you're a meat-eater," Sauda told him. She sighed. "Stay here," she told him, then pointed sternly at the other girls, before leaving the cave. Jace started to follow, "Stay, Jace!" she called back and he froze, blinking at Jace. How'd she know?!

 

When she returned, Sauda replaced Jace's pile of twigs with a more appealing pile of berries and nuts.

 

"Here, go ahead and snack until they get back," she instructed the little ones. Jace frowned at the food.

 

"What about me? I'm hungry too," he told her, sitting down beside Grey and looking up at Sauda.

 

"You'll have to be a big boy and let the girls eat. I can't hunt for us right now," she paused and looked back toward the cave entrance, a light frown on her brow. "We'll have to wait for the others."

 

[aaah, i hope that's okay!]

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