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Windows to the Soul


by jade_steel

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I remember something my mother told me once: The eyes are windows to the soul. No matter how you change, your eyes will always be windows, looking in upon the same soul. I never understood what she meant by that. All I knew was that soon, I would no longer be my happy, Green Kougra self.

     Captured by mad scientists as I strayed too far from home one day, I didn't know much, only that I was to be morphed into something else. Even if I could get free and find my mother again after they were through, how could I convince her that it was me? She would be looking for her little Annallia, not some other pet.

     "So how did you get here?" I looked up, and saw my cage-mate, a small Brown Uni.

     "Strayed too far from home. Some mad scientists picked me up."

     He made a face. "I got dumped in the Pound because the Lab Ray changed my gender. My owner didn't want a male Uni, so, off to the Pound. I got picked up by those same people. By the way, my name's Chryani."

     "Annallia." I turned back to my corner, burying my face in my paws.

     The clang of the metal door opening too fast and too hard brought me up, my face pressed against the bars of my cage. A few white-coated men walked in. Next to them walked an Orange Zafara, her eyes blank, as though she had been brainwashed or hypnotized. She carried a basket of vials under her arm, each filled with a different-colored liquid. The corks that topped each glass container were different colors and held different symbols. The one that I could see was white with gold sparkles, with a pair of dice imprinted on the cork.

     The one apparently in the lead pointed at several different cages, then reeled off a long string of species names. I quailed as one of the flunkies approached my cage and opened the door. A long, hairy arm reached in and slipped a black rope halter over Chryani's head. I could only cower in the corner as the Uni was dragged out.

     He and several other pets of varied species and color were led forcibly out the door, the blank-eyed Zafara following behind.

     About an hour later, several different pets were led in and dispersed into cages. I gasped as a Red Mynci was thrust into my cage. He seemed a little shell-shocked, but his eyes reminded me of Chryani's: mellow pools of a warm chocolate color, deep and penetrating.

     "...looking in upon the same soul," I muttered. I thought I might be beginning to understand what my mother had said. "Chryani?" I asked, a bit nervously.

     He let out a sigh of relief. "Yes. I wasn't sure you'd recognize me, or believe me."

     "So, do you know what they're going to do next?" I queried.

     "Not really...." he frowned. "I heard them talking about 'morph all' and 'then mind-wipe', but that's all I overheard."

     I paled. "Believe me, that's bad enough."

     "I do believe you," Chryani told me. "I personally want to get out of here."

     I agreed with him whole-heartedly, then curled up in my corner and went back to sleep.

     ***

     I was woken by rough hands pulling a collar and muzzle combined over my head, and I knew that it was my turn to be morphed, if not brainwashed. Naturally, I dug my claws into the floor, but I was dragged along with those who had not been morphed the day before, my claws digging grooves in the floor.

     I tried sitting down, but I was just pulled along, albeit at a much slower rate. It took them nearly half an hour to get all of us to their lab-like place.

     Predictably, we were force-fed the vials, one by one. I watched the vials and how each pet changed, and had pretty much figured out the system by the time it was my turn. The symbol meant species, and the color determined color, surprisingly enough.

     My sharp eyes observed each vial and the change it produced. The white-and-gold vial with the egg on top produced a Christmas Pteri. The bright blue, sparking container with the pair of dice on the top made an Electric Zafara. Next, an ugly olive-green tube with a claw symbol on the cork turned the Eyrie in front of me to a Mutant Kougra. Murky yellow with a claw made a Yellow Kougra.

     The symbols were directly indicative of the species. In the scant few moments before I was forced to drink, I observed the liquid and symbol. Dark reds and purples mixed inside, and a pair of dice branded it as a Zafara vial. I presumed it was Darigan.

     It tasted really nasty, let me tell you that much. Knocked me unconscious, too. I came to by having cold water thrown on top of me, and was then re-harnessed and dragged back.

     My mind was working as well as ever, though, and I noticed that where my Kougra claws had dug into the floor, thick strips of metal had been ripped out. I was stronger than I thought. The idea popped into my head in an instant, and I snagged a few in long, nimble fingers. I was tossed into my cage unceremoniously, landing almost on top of Chryani.

     "Sorry," I panted, pushing myself up. My new body was still a bit clumsy, me not being accustomed to being a Zafara yet.

     "Are you Annialla?" the Mynci asked.

     "Yes," I gasped, at the same time looking myself over. My hind legs were big, strong, and built for jumping, while my forelegs - arms - were spindly, but my fingers were strong and flexible. Two strange red growths sprang from my black-spiked back. I presumed these were wings, and that I was indeed a Darigan Zafara. "Chryani, I'm fairly certain, but please tell me anyway. What am I?"

     "Darigan Zafara," he told me.

     "All right," I nodded. My wings were moving of their own accord, to take up less room in the cramped space. They folded tightly against my back, and I realized that my new species instincts were starting to kick in. "Anyway, Chryani, can you pick locks?"

     He nodded. "I learned years back, while I was still a Mynci and hadn't been zapped to a Uni. I'm kinda glad to be back in my original form. But why do you ask? It's not as though we have lock picks."

     I smiled, baring sharp teeth. "Oh yes, we do." I held up the thick splinters of metal I had picked up, and Chryani gasped.

     "Those will do quite nicely. I'll get to work right away." He took the metal from me and reached his arms through the bars and began to insert the picks in the keyhole, producing a grating and clicking sound. I kept my ears open for the door opening.

     It took him about half an hour to get to the point of being close to finishing, but I heard the door slam open. "Chryani, you better hurry. They're coming back, and I have the thought that they're going for a mind-wipe, now that we're morphed."

     "I'm going as fast as I can!" he whispered back, sounding panicked. My nerves grated on each other as the humans came closer and closer to our cage, and he continued to fiddle with the lock.

     The humans came to the cage across from us, and Chryani pushed the sliver he was working with one last time. The door sprang open, and we tumbled out. "Come on!" I screamed, swooping up the stubby-legged Chryani and bolting for the door. The humans came after us, running as fast as their legs could allow.

     Chryani squeaked as I ran at the door, but my guess was correct. It opened automatically, unpushed, and we raced through.

     Twisting corridors led us outside, and to a steep precipice. The ground below was flat, but I had no doubt that the drop would kill us. I remembered my new wings, though, and threw myself off, my wings unfurling to catch the wind, and escaped, just as a white-coated human lunged for my tail.

     Chryani gasped as he felt the wind fly past him. "This is amazing, Annallia!" he called above the rushing sound. "I've never really flown before!"

     "So glad I could help," I grunted, weighed down by him. The ground was rushing up fast, and I quickly prepared to land.

     My feet touched the ground hard, leaving deep imprints. I hauled them out of the soft earth and put Chryani down before surveying the terrain.

     "I know this place," I muttered, seeing the dwelling in the distance. "I live nearby. My mother will take you in. That is...."

     "What?"

     "If she recognizes me," I finished glumly. "I'm a Zafara, not a Kougra. Even my color's changed!"

     "Aww, it won't be that bad," Chryani consoled me, placing a hand on my shoulder.

     "I suppose," I muttered, but my eyes were downcast and watering as the two of us approached the rough home where I and my mother lived.

     I lifted a hand to knock on the door, and the rapping summoned the Blue Kougra almost immediately. Her eyes were filled with surprise as she took in the Zafara and Mynci standing in front of her. "Annallia."

     "Mom?" I queried. "But... I'm a Zafara... how could you-"

     She lifted a paw and placed it over my lips. "The eyes are windows to the soul," she whispered in reply. "No matter how you change, your eyes will always be windows, looking in upon the same soul."

     Then, I finally understood.

The End

Author's Note: All pets made up, etc. Hope you enjoyed, I'd love to know what you think, so feel free to Neomail, but please, please, please, no guild invites!

 
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