Chapter 1Mature

All he wants is a simple life. But when you've been created through complicated processes, can it be that easy?

He’s crouched down over the crystal lake when he hears it. At first, he dismisses it as the young pair of rabbits he’d passed on his way there. After all, they are rather rambunctious and energetic. It’s a nice night, though, so he can’t blame them. The moon shining above gives the lake a celestial appearance, and the stars are glimmering with an unrestrained elegance. It’s so beautiful he has to admire it for a moment, before breaking the surface with his tongue. Then…then a twig snaps, a leaf crunches, and the next thing he knows, there’s a searing pain bracing the back of his head and a sting in his lower back. An enraged, defiant roar is torn from his lips, then cut short by his legs giving out under the weight of his body. Instinct is screaming at him to run, to get up and hide, to face this unseen tormentor—he turns, canines bared in a furious snarl. Another sting forces him to the ground, sending him sprawling down the hill next to the lake, his suddenly strength-sapped arms splashing in the water, dousing him all over. Wildly, he strives to lift his head, straining against the darkness edging from the corner of his vision.

“We got him!”

The voice cuts through the numbing darkness now rapidly overcoming his sight, and it’s the last thing he hears after a sharp blow to the back of the head.


“What are we going to do with him…?”

“They want us to take a blood sample and dispose of the body.”

“We’d better hurry, then. This can get ugly fast.”

He tries to open his eyes, but they fervently refuse to obey his command. Craning his ears around to get a better grasp on the words being spoken around him, he drags in a shallow, shaky breath. His heart has slowed, lungs inflating and deflating barely enough to sustain his consciousness. His muscles are rigid, but they won’t move, not an inch. He struggles to stay awake—the darkness is still on him, draining what little will and strength he has left for awareness. What did they do to him? He feels so…is this what dying feels like?

“It’s already pretty much dead. Ain’t got a thing to fear from it. Let’s get the blood and get this thing burned.”

“If there’s any blood left when we return…it’s bled all over the floor!”

"We can just use a jar, then."

There are footsteps fading, and, if he could, he would sigh with relief. They plan to kill him? What has he done? As far as he knows…all he’s done so far is exist and guard the wild forest he’s lived in. The numbers were hazy, but he is certain he’s been alive now for 142,542 days. Or was that 421,254 days? His head really needs to stop spinning…

Heh…trying to…remember how long I’ve lived while…I’m about to be killed…and all thanks to having my guard down…

A part of him wants to curse the lake and its unbidden splendor for distracting him at that moment, but he knows he can’t. Nature is what he loves above all else. He wanted to defend it, and he did in those…days he lived happily. Instinct finally stirs from a dreary slumber.

Stretch. Work your muscles. You have to be ready. If you die, at least you die fighting for your existence.

He does so, painfully easing the tightness of his legs and rear out, feeling the cords stiffen, then relax. He flexes every muscle in his body, going through each one slowly, thoroughly. The pain serves to clear his mind, and he can breathe slightly better now. He feels…more conscious. Now he takes in the cuffs, and the muzzle mask they’ve locked around his snout. They took precautions, it seems...he'll just have to find a way to break these bindings. This is when his nose offers its senses to him again. The first breath has him gagging on the leather (A disgusting, awful stench! Never has the scent of a deer repulsed him so!) and antiseptic smell smothering the room, the table he’s lying on, the bottles around him, the chains grasping his legs. His lungs are then too weak to resist, and the scent burns his nostrils and the back of his throat. Tears form under his eyelids, one dangling to dark, curved eyelashes. He has never scented this sort of thing before—it’s so crisp and smells like death and—and…

The footsteps are coming back now. He braces himself, tensing until he almost rises off the table as far as he can from the anticipation. He opens his eyes to a slit, then shuts them quickly, hissing at the pain. The bright lights…he’ll have to fight a bit blind first…but as long as he can get some hits in, he’ll be fine. Hell, if he can kill one of them, just one…

Thump! Crash!

He turns toward the noise, growling audibly, a warning. They're so loud and obnoxious, this will be easy. That's what he tells himself when he hears the increase in heartrate from the human? If he's right, the far left corner is the one with the door, since that's the direction the earlier footsteps faded in...the heartbeat he's hearing is coming from the right, a bit behind the table he's on. Regardlesss, he continues growling, albeit softly.

"Oh...oh, you poor thing...what have they done to you?" Comes a hushed, tiny whisper.

He cocks his ears, surprised. He's never heard this tone in a human's voice before. Although he's far from stupid--he knows this being can be deceitful--his growling subsides to an uncomfortable rumbling deep in his chest.

There's silence for a moment, but he knows the person is still there, a female, if the voice pitch and estimated size of the heart are any indications to go by. Then, as if she were a phantom, the warmth of her body is near him, and the growling rises in intensity slightly. He's vulnerable, but not defenseless...most certainly not defenseless.

"Shh...shh, it's okay. I'm going to free you," She croons, gently, a confident hand combing through his fur. "Stay still...this'll only take a minute."

True to her word, after some tinkling noises, the chains give a muted rattle, and fall from his front and hind legs. The weight leaving his body causes him to collapse, still weak from the injuries and strange darts they hit him with. Despite the gratitude, he keeps himself from showering her with affection. This human could decide to change her usually happened when they realized the sheer size of his body.

"You're welcome," She answers the lazy wagging of his tail. "One more, then you'll be free of all these stupid restraints."

There's a click, click, click, pop! and the muzzle is pulled off his face. He shoots to his paws, bristling as he stretches completely, opening azure eyes to take in the reaction of the female human through the glare of the lights. If she screams...but, to his surprise, she does the exact opposite instead.

She sighs, hands clasped to her mouth. "Oh are so beautiful," She circles him as he licks at the wounds on his right shoulder and the underside of his stomach. The rear wounds will just have to heal on their own, since he can't reach them... "What is your breed, I wonder?" She continues, humming to herself. He straightens again, silently snarling, baring his teeth at the door. A gasp cuts her short, and suddenly she makes herself tiny, hiding underneath the table he's on.

He hears it, too. The footsteps.

The End

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