“Subject 23 is awakening. I repeat, the Subject is awakening.”

The first thing he is aware of is the pain. The pure agony he’s drowning in—he has no idea what to do—what is this? What’s happening to him? Why can’t he move?!

“Subject is experiencing the first strains of waking. Repeat, the Subject is feeling.”

Feeling…? What the hell is going on? He arches, finding now that he’s chained down to a horizontal platform, his arms and legs held back around the corners to angle away from his body, the soreness of overstretched limbs throbbing with a muted rhythm. There are numerous tubes inserted to his chest and abdomen—he doesn't need to see them to know. He can feel the fluids inside of them being pumped into his organs—that’s where the staggering pain is coming from. The cells of the liquid are binding with his systems.

“Subject is fighting the process. Repeat, Subject is in danger of stopping the Mixing.”

An agonized, bellowing roar is torn from his throat with the next surge of liquids—what the hell are they doing to him?! Why are his vitals met with such force?! And then, with a sudden burst, he has vision. It’s blurred, but, after instinctively opening and closing his eyes, it clears up, and he has sight. He’s let down by the dim red lighting in the room, untrained eyes uselessly attempting to adjust to the dark.

“Subject is successfully Mixed. Repeat, the combination is complete.”

Gasping for breath through daggerlike, uneven teeth, he cranes his neck around until there is another surge of pain in the back of his head—then two rapid, sharp aches that have him gagging and regurgitating some of the fluids in his system, followed by two, stronger, excruciating slices into—out of?—his shoulder blades and the small of his back. With a tortured scream, he’s shoved up from the table at the sources of pain, and then violently jerked back by the chains.

“What is that?! Oh god, what the hell is that?!”

Just as he turns down to look at his tremoring body, there’s an abrupt wet squelching noise and a searing agony in his arms—and then he’s standing, naked, shivering with shock, the chains dangling from his ankles and wrists, instinct has him hurling himself at the nearest wall made of that “unbreakable” glass. He crashes through it, sprawling clumsily into a few doctors who couldn't run while in shock, stumbles when something catches against his shoulder and drags him back—he gives a wordless cry at the knives that impale his clavicle, bending up to hold him in place, keeping him from running or turning to face the perpetrator. This act is repeated by another set of blades, and yet another pair that dig downwards into the surface of his ribs. It isn't until a shock runs through his body that he realizes whatever they've hit him with now is attached to him, much like the tubes had been earlier—what else could explain the strange feeling of having limbs other than his arms and legs?

It isn't until he tears open one of the doors leading out to the hallways that he starts to feel the true inklings of panic. What is going on? What's happening to me? What is this place? But the question constantly coming back up to the surface...he won't find the answer to that until months later.

He throws himself at a larger, ornately decorated door, something in his chest clenching tightly, some foreign feeling he hasn't felt in his first twenty minutes of life. It helps him squeeze his body together, bracing himself for the impact of the ground and glass when it comes--and it does come, knocking the oxygen and carbon dioxide out of him. He's sent rolling, a leathery object wrapped around him even as he fights it so he can continue staggering and tripping his way out to--to...where? Where is he trying to run to? What...home does he have?

He doesn't have time to try and figure it out.

The sun is blinding, rendering his newly formed eyes useless yet again. He continues advancing, regardless, his footsteps guided by the lack of a doctors presence in the wide open air.

Some time far later, after his energy has been depleted, he collapses to his knees, trembling, exhausted, still burning with strain, so numbed now that the torment has stopped... He's at a lake, who knows how far from the hell he's escaped. He looks down at his hands, studying them through the water. Long, blackened claws extend from nail beds--his mind calculates that this is a reaction to the fight or flight instinct he's been given. There are also two twin blades protruding from his forearms, offending edges facing away from him, though the tips curve back to point at his elbows.

Then, his eyes focus on the reflection in the water.

What the hell am I...?

With numerous days passing, he slowly learns to hunt, using the extended blades in his arms as weapons. He's found that the knives he had thought were dug and bent into his collarbones aren't actually that...they're fingerlike claws that branch off the leathery, frail dully bladed wings sprouted from the back of his scapulas. He also has a tail to match--though it doesn't have the fingers to grasp into his back. Reason tells him it's because that would likely stab into his vital nerves and kill him. And death, though he has no reason to live as of yet, is not something he wants to welcome.

After feeling with his fingers at the wounds on the back of his head, he finds that he has two identical, albeit tiny, bumpy horns sticking upwards from the base of his skull. They throb and ache with an annoying pulse--possibly along with his heart--but he thinks he likes them. It's far better than the black blood staining his torso and back. A part of him wishes that he had the ruby, shining blood the humans and animals he's hunted have.

When he's not hunting, he spends his days, and nights, up in the great Willow tree with droopy branches and straight leaves. The scents are so different from the ones he awoke to...he thinks he wouldn't mind it if he simply lived in this little place forever.

Yeah...this could be his home.

But the peace lasts only for two days.

Later, the humans will come again, wearing the same clothes, the same masks, beckoning him to return. He doesn't know very much, but he does know that he hates pain. And if he goes back with them, reason and instinct explain in unison, he'll be back in that world of agony. He doesn't want that. High up in his tree, he feels content and safe. A smirk curls his lips upwards in a sneer, and he effortlessly crawls down the bark of the tree, careful not to leave any indentations. Maybe he should show them why he won't go back...maybe he should show them just how much pain they put him through.

Before he can lift his blades at them, they're all running, stampeding like the rabbits and deer he's killed so far. It leaves him confused, staring after them--he doesn't see what it is they are so terrified of until he's face to face with them himself.

A force of men and women, with strange scents and tools of destruction. Two of them lead the way, slinking across the grass as if searching for something. The broader and taller of the two pauses in his tracks and calls out a strange word. He doesn't bother attempting to translate it. From the back of the crowd emerges a woman, petite, rather short, walking with a dignity he recognizes, yet can't place. Though the man who called her out is looking down towards whatever item he's found, she lifts her gaze to the tree, following an invisible path.

He slips back into the shadows, folding his wings about his body. He has an uneasy feeling...

But she turns away, nodding, speaking lowly to the group, and they're off again. He follows them curiously, watching their every move, wondering who they could be to have frightened the doctors away without even making a sound--hell, without even being seen first. He wants to be able to have that kind of power, whatever that is. However, they're stealthy, and soon he's lost their trails. Not even the sound of a heartbeat, not a breath.

Later, he finds out it's a trap. They burst from the shadows, encircling him, pointing their weapons threateningly. He snarls, enraged at being bested--but they can't fly, and, though he's far from having perfected his takeoff, he can, so he spreads his wings, leaping up--

--to crash back down at the grass. He rubs the sore spot on his head, hissing in discomfort. What the hell...?

"At ease, soldiers. Who are you?"

His eyes attempt to focus on the woman in front of him, but the pain is just so--

"Yuu, please heal him."

He blinks in surprise when the dull sensation is gone. What the...?

"Now...who are you?" She crouches on one knee, and now he sees her. Long, black hair, with bright pastel blue eyes. They bore into him, and, for a moment as he blinks again, one of those orbs flicker out, as if not wholly there...but then she narrows them at him, and he has no room for pondering the illusion.

He shows her a mouthful of sharp teeth, frowning. "I..." The strain of forming words doesn't help... "...have"

Something in the woman's eyes soften, and she reaches a hand out. "Would you like to come with us? We don't have much, but we will help you as much as we can."

He cocks his head at her, thinking, taking in the look in her eyes, the comfortable stance, the relaxed, open hand extended to him. He wants to know about these people. He wants to have what they have, that uncanny ability to stalk silently, to scare off the enemies with a simple act. "No...pain?"

She shakes her head, slowly. "We won't hurt you. You have my word."

He doesn't quite know what this word is, but he supposes he can just kill them if they do end up hurting him. He does like meat, and red blood, after all.

So he puts his clawed, slanted hand in hers.

And that's when the changes started to occur.

The End

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