What to say...um...this is my first fic. I know that, by saying this, I sound pathetic. Still, everyone has to have a first at some point. Hopefully, you won't find this to be too sappy, Sue-ful, et cetera.

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The creature was covered in feathers, but it looked like no bird in any world so far discovered. Its front wings had claws on them; it leaned on them, walking on all fours and about the size of a large dog. Its crested head twisted to glance at a few other alien creatures behind it; one of them nodded, and they all moved forward, through a window and into on of the rooms of the Circle's fortress.

Their surroundings weren't as sinister as they had expected; there were a few sheets of paper, notebooks, an abacus and even a few jokes written in an unnaturally neat way scattered on the floor. It didn't seem interesting, but there had to be something. After all, the Circle was a group conspiring against Yi'erah's government. It was true that not everyone liked the current government, but the Circle wasn't something people could trust, either.

None of them could speak in their current forms, but one of the bird- like creature's followers tapped it and gestured to a desk above them. The first creature looked up, nodded...and began to shift. Its feathers melted into its skin, and its wings faded into arms. A human boy stood. At first glance, he looked normal; that was until the feathers that tipped his ears and wrists were noticed. He made a hand signal to the others, who also shifted.

"You guys look in other rooms. If there's anything here, it only takes one person to find it," the boy who was apparently their leader whispered, turning to the desk.

The others looks at who was apparently their leader, and wordlessly scattered into other rooms. The first boy turned to the desk, and glanced through the papers. He couldn't make much sense of them; all that he had determined so far was that some of the papers were maps, and others files on people. Who these people were, he wasn't sure.

"Drasaaj," a voice said quietly beside him, causing him to literally jump. The other voice was feminine, and although he recognized it, he couldn't remember its owner's name. "You have been surrounded, as have your followers. Come with me."

Drasaaj turned around slowly. His captor looked like nothing special; she had maroon hair, but it was obviously dyed. Her eyes were light brown, like Drasaaj's, although more piercing. She didn't have a model's body, though she wasn't overweight, either. Drasaaj had been taught by many people and stories he'd read that people that couldn't be trusted had an...air, but she looked like an innocent woman in her late teens or early twenties.

Until he noticed the menacing-looking dart that she was holding. It was light gray, although that might or might not matter--he knew some people to color-code their darts. His heart beat even faster, if that was possible, but she didn't say anything else until she had led him into another room. As far as he could see, no one else was following him. He felt slightly more hopeful; possibly, what she had said about him being surrounded had been a bluff.

As they entered the room she led him into, he could see his followers. All of them. Not that this was much; there were less than ten. Though they were all shifters like he was, this had not apparently done them any good--all of them were manacled. Strangely, the only Circle member that he could see was still his captor. She glanced at him; although he had already seen the silvery dart that she was holding, she held it up more obviously, in case he hadn't.

"It's possible that you don't know what is in this dart. It's Talphur. It is a drug that works on shifters such as yourself, trapping them in their secondary shape. Without antidote, this effect is nearly permanent. Nearly; if you can wait for a few decades with only one dose, I suppose that it will wear off at some point. I believe that you can deduce what I am about to do from this explanation."

"What? You can't do this!" Drasaaj protested. To say that he was shaking slightly would have been an understatement.

"Obviously, I can. Obviously, I will. You and your people are lucky to be escaping us with your life," the woman replied calmly, plunging the dart into Drasaaj's arm.

His followers looked on as he began to shift. The feathers on his wrists and ears soon covered his entire body, and within about thirty seconds, he was in the same shape that he had used to slip into the Circle fortress. It wasn't painful, as he had expected; the pain didn't come in even when he attempted to return to his human shape. Not that it happened, of course. He glared upward; his followers watched him. Most of them looked sympathetic when they noticed his gaze, although a few were unable to hide that they were more worried for themselves.

When the woman looked up at her other prisoners again, walking forward at a leisurely pace and wielding the Talphur-dart, not one of them didn't flinch.

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Like I said, I hope that you found it creative and at least bearable. The plot will thicken; actually, I have the near future worked out. Please review. Constructive criticism is welcome, as is advice on future plot and questions, which I will answer before every chapter. Outright flames are pointless, but post them if you must. Um...on a different note, the Circle is not really evil; I dislike anything completely black and white. There will be numerous important characters who are Circle members. In fact, in general, this will be more about the Circle, though, having typed the prologue this way, I feel that I have to make some shifters important characters.

*nodnod*

Thanks for reading.