I was probably too tired to count exactly how many times I had blacked out in the last half-a-day. But those last times, I found it hard to do, because I was so weak from injury. I used to smell blood and feel pain when I tried to order my body on my hands and knees; at least I felt pain before Seer was around to block it. In a nutshell, it felt like crawling out of a hole. Crawling out of death and desperately trying to hold onto my soul.
I dreamed while I was sleeping. It was…I couldn't describe it. Like a nightmare and a thing of beauty all at once. I was back at my job…my purpose. I was hunting, stalking, chasing, and feeling the energy as I ran my prey down into the dust. I tasted the meat, cleaned the bones, and silenced the screams.
But when it was done, the feeling was no longer familiar. It was far away…and what replaced it was a sick feeling in my stomach. I had killed again, and the humans looking on above me were faceless. Shadows, homunculi, something unnatural was watching me kill and kill and kill again.
Then the dream went black, and I felt warm again.
I was awakening…but this time I didn't smell blood. I didn't feel pain. I felt…revived.
"Hm, so that's what the girl used to do," a familiar voice mused next to me. It took me a moment to realize it was Seer.
Unconsciously, I smiled. It wasn't a dream. I really am out of the hands of humans. I'm in paradise.
I opened my eyes to a green ceiling…it was made of thick strands of long and sturdy grass woven together. I smelled that grass, along with a strong herbal kind of medicine permeating the room. And my nose, more sensitive than a human's even when I took the appearance, took in the scent of the individuals watching me.
Seer leaned over to look into my eyes, her black ones connecting with my deep blue. "Well, she lives! Hah. I'd ask if you're okay, girl, but I don't have to. The healer never failed us yet."
"Ugh," I replied, still a little groggy from the sleep…but otherwise, I actually looked okay. My clothes were even lying on a shelf nearby, cleaned and sewed up, good as new down to the shine put into the chains. I sat up and looked myself over, feeling a little self-conscious at the fact that I was only covered with a blanket. But at least Seer was also female, and so was the other occupant as far as I guessed.
I tilted my head with curiosity as I watched her put various medicines away in the cabinets. She had the appearance of a human, but the thin, tall, and willowy sort; the kind that seemed so very fragile when you first look at them. Her skin was so pale that it was unnatural, and yet in this sun-drenched world she didn't look the least bit unhealthy from it.
She reminded me of one of the elves from a very old fantasy story (did I ever mention that the humans kept me well-read? If I didn't, sorry, it's not an important detail), except her ears weren't pointed and her hair wasn't the kind that was straight and shimmering; instead it was pulled back into a short brunette ponytail.
Her eyes, however…yeah, she was definitely a mutant. Her pupils were white, iris and the rest of it black. That and her hands each had two fingers and a thumb each, like some kind of specialized talon.
"I see you noticed Tenna," Seer laughed. "She's what the humans called a 'blind walker'. She can't see the way you and I do, but can actually see through things; hard to describe it. Also the best healer in the world. Brought me from the brink of death once."
"Seer, please," Tenna replied in a voice that was rather musical. I could have sworn she had a portion of songbird in her. "You don't owe me anything, I keep telling you that. I'm happy to be of service." She turned to me, and had me mesmerized with that gaze of hers. It was creepy in a hypnotic way, but I could easily sense that she was gentle. "And I'm also glad that you're okay, Mevara."
An involuntary shudder ran through me at hearing my name. The name given to a murderer. I wondered just what the others in the village thought of me. "Thanks," I just replied with a nod. "Thanks, Tenna, for the help. And Seer…"
"Uh-uh, don't thank us all," Seer laughed, shaking her head and wagging her finger like a mother perhaps would. "It was our duty and our privilege to welcome one more into our strange family. I promise you'll fit in well here, kid."
Tenna smiled, agreeing with her. "At any rate, you're fully restored. But come to me any time that you're injured, and I'll be more than happy to help again."
"I will," I promised as I quickly got myself dressed. I didn't know if I'd actually be that injured again while living here in their world, but it never hurt to be sure.
I said my goodbyes and walked out through the door of the hut with Seer, into the village, and I tensed with uncertainty. Lucky me; Tenna's home was at the very back of the place. To get back to the field I would have to cross through the center of those rows of homes to runaway mutants. I never did like getting stared at, but it seemed that word got out quickly…I was greeted with so many numbers and kinds of eyes, all wanting to glimpse the Mevara.
"Heh, you're famous," Seer grinned as she led me through the limelight.
"Because I'm dangerous," I replied with a sigh. "I know the look on some of those faces. I know what awe looks like, and I can tell it from fear. There is fear here."
Seer shrugged. "Maybe…but that'll go away when you show 'em that y'all ain't such a murderer."
I wasn't too sure about that notion, but I decided to go with it anyway.
She was quiet for a moment, biting her lip. Then, she spoke again. "I watched your dreams while you were sleeping."
I curled the side of my mouth up. I didn't really know what to say to that for a moment or two. But she was a psychic, so it was logical, somewhat. "Hm, I heard you say something about me when I was waking up, so I'm not too surprised."
"But it was privacy invasion," Seer pointed out. "Girl, if I were you, I'd chew me out like there's no tomorrow."
I shrugged. "I don't care. Dreams are dreams. They don't have any significance."
"I dunno, it seemed pretty intense; your blood was racin'. I recognized a bit of resistance too, when you saw what you did to that lil' mutant. It only proves that you ain't evil, just conflicted. Believe me; we all felt it at least once. All us who wasn't born here."
I laughed ironically. "I'll be the one to decide when I'm evil or not. On another note, does this village ever end?"
"Yeah, right there," she snorted in laughter. We're at the top of a big hill overlooking the field.
As we stepped out of the village threshold, away from the prying eyes, I gazed down into the infinite deep green sea of grass. It was still so hard to believe where I was; the people that were here that a long time ago I would have been sent to kill...a paradise in Hell…
"Seer," I said for a moment. "Am I healed up enough now that I can transform?"
She glanced at me with a slight bit of incredulity. I think I could have even smelled a bit of fear, and uncertainty. "Er, sure…but why?"
I didn't take my eyes off of the wide expanse of field. I just grinned. "To do something that I've wanted to do since I got here."
I don't know if Seer read my mind right then or not to get clarification, but her face seemed to brighten a bit since she knew what I was talking about. "Knock yourself out."
I closed my eyes and took in a long breath of the clear air. I spread my arms, and I felt the power coming to me as I summoned it forth. The sheer, overwhelming power that my weak human form never had. I would never get tired of it.
Then, I doubled over on the grass. I heard the shimmer in the air, something electrical in origin perhaps, and Seer would see as that shimmer changed me. Muscles bunched and coiled into liquid steel. Claws sheathed in and out of gentle pads. My ears, my nose…oh God, the sensory overload. My beastly self, the feral Mevara, was drawing itself into the possibilities of this new world. It was far from the poisons in and out of the domed city.
She was pleased. I was pleased.
And we wanted to run. I wanted to run through this field at full tilt until I could no longer do so. I wanted to chase something…or to act like I was chasing something, and just let it escape for once.
I stretched my flexible feline-like bones and my muscles, and I let out a rumbling growl. Then, Seer did something unexpected. She scratched me behind one of my ears. Only the humans that created me had ever had the boldness to do that.
"Go on and run, girl. You can meet ol' Laz and me for food later."
For once, I felt complete. There was another here that showed no fear of me. I smelled confidence, and nothing more. I didn't know if it was hers or mine.
But it didn't matter. I had the world in front of me.
The muscles in my legs sprang, for all the world like I was running from something once again. They gave me full speed right at the beginning, the full tilt of the run, across a ton of open space and cool air.
The grass got in my eyes, my nose, my mouth…but I didn't stop. I couldn't. I wanted to run until the fatigue set in. It was the hunter in me who was built exactly for this kind of thing. My muscles burned, and my claws gouged the earth to make me go faster. But I kept running. I braked and made a quick turn, and ran faster.
In my mind, I had my prey. They felt doomed…nothing escaped the clutches of the Mevara. There was nothing there but me, the outside, and the envisioned prey.
Then, when I could finally take no more, I fell…I wasn't injured. I simply obeyed the will of my muscles to rest, and flopped on the ground to roll in the deep green blades. My imaginary prey would live another day. I imagined the smell of its relief as I left it to its mercy.
If I could put my thoughts to writing, readers would probably find me rather silly, acting like an animal. At least, any humans reading it will. It was me, pure and simple.
But whenever I remembered what my true purpose was, I dismissed that thought as pure fantasy. My powerful chest heaved. No, not pure. Not simple.
I simply lay there, letting my dark fur absorb the sun's warm light. I would almost fall asleep right then and there, but I remembered that I was also hungry. While still in my beast guise, I wondered if they would let me hunt some of the wild creatures they had here.
Heck, even Victor would be a challenge…and delicious…
I rolled back up on my stomach and shook my head rapidly to free myself of those thoughts. The days of hunting mutants are over, I reminded myself. I'm one of them now. A victim.
I let myself revert back…from a beast to a simple human girl. I was sitting upright, looking at my hands and thinking. I probably ought to change my name. Mevara…that's the name of a murderer.
"Are you finished, kitty?" a voice said above me. I glanced up in surprise to find Victor himself reappearing in midair. He had a look of amusement on his smug little face.
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah. What're you doing here?"
"Snooping," he laughed. "C'mon, Lazarus would like to talk to you. I think lizard-man's already tryin' to put you to work, lucky brat."
I laughed, but didn't answer for a moment. I wasn't done thinking that maybe I still didn't belong in their paradise. After all, the very person that I just moments ago dreamed of eating was right in front of me.
Oh well, I'd debate about it later. I was needed.
"Coming," I said, hoisting myself up on my feet.
The future looked as bright as the sun shining above me and giving life to this little patch of green. I would be content to live and to die here.
There were many battles after that…many more friends made and lost…many surprises from both sides. I watched a barren earth become reborn. I aged slowly, but my life had no regrets to name after my past.
I never did change my name, either. It harbored a new meaning for the fugitives living in that little hidden paradise; the Mevara, a sort of warrior for hope instead of an angel of death.
Funny, how things work out like that. Maybe someday I'll be able to tell the whole story instead of just the beginning, though I think it's hardly worth much more than what I went through to get there.
Later, though. Right now, I want to run, and run, and keep running.