Part 1: Hunter and Prey
It was a normal night... completely uneventful... or it should have been. Castro was walking home, exhausted from earlier in the day when he and his friends took care of a problem in the city. Well, to be more exact Castro’s friends did, Castro wasn’t much of a fighter himself... he only fought if it was absolutely necessary. It was pretty normal for Castro to walk by himself... things had calmed down in the city ever since the evil Dragonborn was defeated.
In this world, there exist two intelligent species. The Manae, and Humans. Each of the Manae possesses some kind of supernatural power, and they also have a more animalistic appearance than humans. Long ago there was a war between the two, and the Manae were enslaved... but eventually, when one of Manae sought to conquer the world, humans and creatures fought alongside each other to stop him, forming an alliance and friendship between the two races. Now, they live peacefully together as equals. Castro and his friends live with a human named Felicia, that took them all in when each of them had nobody else to turn to.
The most powerful of the Manae is the one that wields the life force. It passes down mainly genetically, but sometimes in other ways too. The newest user of this power is Castro. While he can’t fully control it yet, he can use it to strengthen himself and others, and also use it to create force fields, and can even go invisible. Which makes him a very special individual... but also targeted. All Manae have different appearances, but they all walk on two legs. Castro was a blue dog, with yellow rings of fur on his wrists and ankles, with a zigzag blue tail and green eyes. His paws were black, and he had claws that could extend out of them.
Castro walked down the hard pavement, not giving much thought to earlier. He and his friends always got into trouble, this one was no surprise. Not yet anyway. The streetlights were dim, and there were no cars on the street that night. Castro had about 4 miles ahead of him, since the human he lived with, Felicia, had a house outside the city in the countryside. Castro was used to walking, in fact, he enjoyed walking. It allowed him to think about things without any chaos in the background. Especially since, in total, Felicia had ten other creatures living with her. Castro decided to take one of the back alleys, that go off the main road since it’d be quicker. He knew that route well and knew that eventually, you’ll reach a dead end with an old building that you can climb through to get out of the city.
Castro stopped abruptly in his tracks as his ear twitched. What was that? He wondered, looking behind him. Nothing. He kept walking on but heard it again. It sounded like the sound of metal dragging across the pavement. Castro put his paws together and concentrated to feel the life force of whoever was there. He’s right above me! He jumped forward and something smashed into the ground right where he was standing moments before. He whirled around to see a figure with his fist against the pavement, a spiderweb of cracks dancing outward from where he was standing. Castro recognized him instantly. It was the person from earlier, the malefactor that he and his friends stopped.
“Y-Your... that guy...” He stuttered in fear. The figure slowly stood up to look at him, his red eyes glowing in the darkness. He had the appearance of a black cat, with an ear missing, and a long black white-tipped tail. He grinned at Castro, showing his gold tooth that shown in the moonlight. He had metal cuffs on his ankles attached to chains that appeared to be broken, and likewise on his wrists too.
“Did you miss me weakling?” He laughed as Castro’s knees started to shake in fear. I’m going to die... I’m going to die... Castro took a calming breath, then turned and ran. I can’t fight this guy alone, I have to get out of here! Castro thought franticly. His arm was grabbed from behind as he heard laughter.
“No!” He cried, trying to yank his arm free from the obviously corrupt individual, but his grip was too strong. The villain swung Castro and threw him, making him smash into a dumpster, breaking the lid making trash spill out into the street. He lay there, gasping for breath, as tears of pain made the fur around his eyes wet. The figure slowly walked forward toward Castro, the chains dragging on the pavement.
“You understand what you did yet? Say sorry and maybe I might let you go.” He said, getting closer.
“I’m sorry...” Caster mumbled. The figure laughed out loud, standing right in front of Castro now.
“You naive little idiot. You really-” Castro cut him off as his paw glowed with blue energy.
“I’m sorry for this!” He yelled, punching the figure in the stomach. The guy stumbled back, as Castro focused the life force energy around him... the people in their house next door, wondering what the commotion was... the homeless man hiding behind one of the dumpsters... Castro leaped up into the air, a bit higher than he meant to. The wind rushed past his face as he shot up... only to hear a familiar laugh behind him.
“Thought you could get away that easy, punk." He’s right behind me! Castro knew he was too late as his arm was grabbed again, and once again he was swung through the air like a ragdoll and thrown sixty feet back toward the ground. He cried out in pain as his shoulder was dislocated. He channeled a bit of life force to avoid shattering every bone in his body as he hit the ground traveling fifty miles per hour, leaving a small crater in the pavement.
“Surprise!” The figure landed in front of him, and punched him in the face, sending him flying through the air again, barely conscious. He latched on to the life force around him, using it to keep from dying as he slammed through a telephone pole and hit the ground, rolling to a stop on his back. He tried to sit up, but fell back down again, pain filling every joint of his body. Blood was stained on the fur on his face and dripped from his nose, his wrist was fractured and his ribs broken. He groaned in pain, not being able to move as the figure picked him up by the throat and lifted him in the air. He stared into Castro’s eyes, pure hatred and evil burning there.
“You humiliated me... it was all you... all you, you pathetic little-” He was cut off as lights flashed on him, police cars surrounding him.
“Drop the kid!” One voice shouted.
“Put him down!” Shouted another.
“Hand above your head!” Another voice called out. Castro felt himself fall to the ground as the figure started to walk off.
“Remember this name... Castro... because now, the hunt begins. My name is Shadow... and I will kill you.” There was the click of several guns as all the officers held their guns up to him, prepared to fire.
“Freeze!” Before any of them could react, Shadow jumped away off into the night. Castro looked up at the officers, one, in particular, was rushing toward him.
“CASTRO!” Felicia cried. Then everything went black.
Castro woke up in a hospital bed, his arm in a sling and bandages all over him. There were several machines hooked up to him, and a blanket over him as well. He immediately started to cry. His ribs hurt as he sobbed, making him cry even harder, his fur being soaked with tears. I almost died... and I did nothing against him. His body shook with sobs as he heard the door open. He felt someone’s arms go around him, he knew it was Felicia. She had her blond hair in a ponytail and had on a red shirt with gray pants and pink tennis shoes. A small tear ran down her cheek as she hugged Castro.
“I’m so sorry... if I had just come sooner...” She held Castro close as he cried, until he calmed down a bit, his sobs subsiding. I let them all down... and worried Felicia! I need to stop worrying her, its not fair. Castro forced a smile onto his face as he looked up at Felicia.
“Thank you, for saving me.” He said, his voice sounding more cheerful. It was obvious he was faking it, but Felicia went along with it, in her opinion acting cheerful is better than being sad. Felicia sighed as she heard a commotion in the hall.
“The rest of the gang is here to see you... just try to rest up, okay?” She said, standing up. Castro nodded. She patted him on the head before leaving the room. Castro smiled, for real this time, realizing that even if things went badly before, his friends were here to help him now... but unfortunately, the pain remained, his joints making him tear up a little. He heard several voices burst through the door. The two in front were Sharlet and Krono of course, they were the most dramatic, ecstatic and vivacious. Krono was a blackbird the size of a human that looked mainly like a rave, with a yellow beak and yellow bird feet. Sharlet was the same way except she was pink.
“Caaastroooo!” Krono shouted, and gripped the rail on Castro’s bed with his wings, his eyes wide.
“Are you okay my boy?” He asked as Sharlet then got really close to Castro and started examining him all over.
“Broken ribs, bruises scratches... ouch, those look painful... I think he’ll live... but he may be a cripple for the rest of his life.” Castro looked up, alarmed.
“Wait what?” He cried as Sharlet kept going and shook her head sadly.
“This could be the end of him... Krono started to cry as Sharlet held him in her wings. Nadia slapped her upside the head with a firey paw. Nadia was a yellow lemur with orange fur on the top of her head and white fur on her paws. She had powers that she knew how to use, and could light herself on fire and shoot fire blasts.
“Shut the hell up! The doctors already said he was going to be a fine idiot!” She snapped angrily, disrupting their theories. She then pointed at Castro.
“You!” She snapped. Castro hugged his sheets close, quivering in fear. Nadia cleared her throat and took a deep breath as Krono tried to help Sharlet put the fire out on her feathers.
“I’m glad you’re okay...” She murmured, looking down. Susan came up beside her and nodded. Susan had the appearance of a brown bunny with beady yellow eyes and a pink tail and ears. She has yet to discover her powers.
“When we heard you were attacked... we were so scared...” Susan murmured. Castro didn’t know what to say... everybody was here, being so kind to him. But why? It’s my fault I got hurt for being so weak.
“But guys... I couldn’t even do anything to him...” Castro murmured. Sly spoke up next, near the back, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. He has the appearance of an orange cat with a white belly and white spots on his fur. He always has his bow with him, with several different kinds of pikes he shoots out of it.
“Castro, not even I could have taken him on in an ambush like that. He would have killed me... he would have killed any of us.” Castro at first didn’t believe it, but when he looked into Sly’s eyes, he saw the truth in them. Bruno wrapped an arm around Castro, pulling on his neck. Bruno has the appearance of a blue frog with grey spots on his hands and feet, and white circles on his fingertips he could use to make little white sticky pads. He has yet to discover his real powers.
“He’ll be fine. He’ll be back up kickin in no time! I think you all are overreacting.” Castro smiled, as he teared up and started to cry again. Bruno immediately let go in alarm, as everybody gave him the look.
“Oh my god! I didn’t mean to hurt you, buddy!” He cried. Castro shook his head as he wiped away tears.
“I just... am so thankful... to have friends like you guys.” He said, smiling. Everybody smiled back at that, even Sly, but it disappeared quickly as he looked away the minute Bruno glanced at him.
“Al of you! All of you! Out! Now!” A voice came from the back of the group. A doctor with a thin buzzcut of brown hair and glasses came in, ushering everybody out. Everybody said their goodbyes on the way out, promising to come back soon. The doctor interrupted them by shutting the door on them.
“Castro.” The doctor said, smiling as he adjusted his glasses.
“How are you feeling?” He asked. Castro studied him, noticing something odd about him. His movements look very forced as if he wasn’t acting out of his own free will.
“I’m... good.” Castro responded feebly. The doctor nodded.
“You up for a challenge then?” He asked, the smile gone from his face. Castro titled his head, wondering what the doctor was going on about now.
“What... what do you mean?” Castro asked, his voice quivering a little. The doctor adjusted his glasses as the light shone on them.
“You have five minutes before I get there. Anybody you tell will receive a slow and painful death. The hunt resumes now.”
Felicia drove everybody home silently, not speaking to anybody. Her van was blue and pretty big to fit everybody inside. The glass wasn’t bulletproof but the rest was except the roof. She drove down the highway, lost in her thoughts as she drove. I’m a police officer and I can’t even protect the ones I hold dearest to me. Felicia couldn’t stand it... she could remember the creature, laughing as he stood there, holding Castro by the throat, a kid who had already suffered so much in his life. A kid that would never hurt anybody, only save and defend the ones he cared about.
“I’ll kill that bastard,” Felicia said aloud, her voice cold and hard. She hated it. She hated him. She knew that he’d go after Castro, she knew... wait. Felicia suddenly pulled over on the side of the road.
He’ll go after Castro! And he’ll pick him off while he’s an easy target... why didn’t I think of this before! She was about to pull out and turn around when she heard a thud on the top of the hood. She heard the click of a gun, and without hesitating, she whipped her pistol up and fired through the roof.
“Whoa! What the heck is going on?!” Bruno cried. Felicia gritted her teeth. He planned this... so I couldn’t go back and help him! That sick twisted little... no time to think about him, I have to get everybody else out of here! She stepped on the gas, speeding up and swerving to avoid other cars.
“Felicia! What... are you do-” Sly cut Krono off as she pointed to the hole in the roof.
“We’re being attacked obviously.” She snapped. Krono shut his beak and decided it would be best to stay silent. I need a diversion, something to distract them. All of a sudden, there was an explosion in front of them, making Felicia swerve to a stop to avoid hitting all the other cars affected. Damn it! He’s hurting innocent people now! I have to get out of the city, and the quickest way is the bridge... wait that’s what he wants me to do... he probably has a trap set there. Felicia looked at all the injured people in the street. But I have no choice. Then Felicia glanced to the side and yelled,
“GET DOWN!” As multiple shots were fired from the crowd. Everybody in the back got down, Krono whimpering and Bruno mumbling,
“I don’t wanna die...” The windows shattered along with the windshield from the bullets, glass falling everywhere. Felicia was about to tell Sly to throw the smoke bomb but he was already a step ahead of her as he pulled the pin and chucked it out the shattered window into the crowd. Just as it was supposed to, it made everybody scatter, including the thugs, and now they had a clear way through the junction to get to the bridge. Felicia stepped on the gas, driving forward at full speed.
One thug held a gun up in front of them, but a pike from Sly went through his stomach, making him stumble to the side just in time to not be run over by Felicia. She drove straight forward, stopping for a little bit in the alleys, for about two minutes, then driving out onto the bridge. She gritted her teeth, her fingers white as she clenched the steering wheel, waiting for the trap to activate. She looked behind her at the empty backseat and smiled, knowing that at the very least everybody else was safe. The whole bridge shook as multiple bombs went off, crumbling the supports.
“Knew it’d be another bomb... Shadow just loves his destruction.” Felicia murmured to herself. The bridge had nobody else on it for some reason, making Felicia the only target. Her car started to fall backward as the bridge started to tip. She tried to step on the gas, but it was no use. She already knew that the minute she went over the edge, it’d be the end of her, she would immediately be crushed to death by the rest of the concrete. Her car neared the edge, with one last desperate attempt, Felicia tried to kick open the door. Jammed. She tried to climb out of the windshield window, but her shirt got caught on the glass.
Her car neared the edge as she pulled desperately. Come on... come on... She kept pulling and felt her shirt rip as she jumped out of the car. But right as she did so, the chunk she and her car was on broke off, making her fall. She let out a cry as she plummeted toward her death.
Castro froze in place but knew that would be useless. He had to get out of there, now. He tanked the needles and such attached to him with his good arm, then hobbled out into the hall, still in the paper gown they give everybody. He ditched the gown, since Manae didn’t wear clothes anyway, and plus it was slowing him down. The hallway was dimly lit, as the power flickered, and for some reason, it was completely empty. Castro made his way toward the fitness room, getting an idea on how to slow the maniac down. He hobbled down the stairs and kept checking the clock over and over. Ten minutes. He thought. He knew how many mirrors there were in the fitness area, this wasn’t the first time he’d been at the hospital.
His whole body stung as he hobbled down all the stairs, too afraid to use any elevators since he knew how easily the cord to those could be cut. He then realized something. I have no life force to channel! Because all the nurses and doctors were gone, Castro couldn’t use his powers. He must have planned this... dang, it... I’m powerless... no. Snap out of it. He may be strong, but he’s not the brightest... which is why we were able to ambush him so easily. He’s too full of himself... which is why he’ll fall for my trap. Castro reached the bottom of the stairs where the fitness room was and tried to open the door. Locked.
He tried to kick it, but end up hurting his paw. Dang, it... don’t tell me this... he then notices a window on the wall, big enough for him to fit through, and a metal trash can. He picks up the trash can and smashes it through the window, glancing back at the clock. 8 minutes to construct my trap. Castro climbed through the window, wincing and crying out in pain, finally falling on his good arm on the other side. No time to lose. He started working, grabbing the mirrors and positioning them around the pool and then tying some ropes together to make a net, as Felicia taught him to catch things in the forest, except this time, his life depended on it. He kept checking the angles, making sure the mirrors reflected it correctly, then went up into the steel rafters, positioned by the window.
The mirrors reflected him around the room, until landing on him in front of the pool. As long as Shadow didn’t look up, he wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, just see Castro in front of him, crouching with his back to him, on the other side of the pool. Castro looked at the clock. Two minutes. Now, I wait. When Shadow did come, just as Castro predicted, he announced where he was with his laughs and comments.
“Now where are you hiding little kid? I’m growing impatient.” Castro held his breath as his body went rigid as he waited for him to enter the fitness room.
“You didn’t leave... that’s for sure. Oh wait, I bet you went to the room with the heaviest objects to throw at me knowing you. Well ready or not, here I come!” Castro waited in fear as the footsteps grew closer. He heard them stop in front of the window.
“You didn’t even try to hide where you were... you make this too easy.” Castro heard a clang as the door was kicked off its hinges and sent skidding along the floor. He waited for him to spot his decoy. Castro knew he couldn’t risk moving due to the lack of traction. He’d slip and fall if he wasn’t careful, and then he’d be dead.
“There you are!” He heard him shout. Castro held his breath, waiting for him to look up at him in the rafters. He didn’t. He jumped forward at the decoy, and just as Castro hoped, realized it was a trap too late. His foot caught in the loop and he was launched into the air in a net trap, then came crashing into the pool. Yes! I got him!
“That’ll teach you!” Castro called as he jumped through the open window and tumbled into the grass below. He took off running as Shadow’s shouts rang out behind him.
“You won’t ever escape! I promised I’d kill you, you little brat!”
Felicia hit the water but survived the fall at the very least by grabbing onto something. But some of the metal had cut her open, and the water was dark, making it impossible to tell what was up or down. She couldn’t see a thing in the darkness but felt concrete in front of her from the bridge. Wait I know a trick for this. She felt her hair to see which way to was going since hair is buoyant, it’ll show you which way the surface is. She tried to swim that direction but felt concrete above her. She started to panic as she realized she may be trapped. Calm down... you cant swim anywhere if you freak out. Feel your way around. Felicia started to feel her way around the concrete, trying to find an opening. She knew she could hold her breath for at least a minute... but how long had it been? She could already feel her lungs screaming for air as she kept feeling around desperately.
Where is it? It has to be here somewhere... I can’t be trapped. She kept feeling, her chest starting to hurt as she fumbled around desperately. No no no no... she then reached out and felt... empty water! She had found a way out! She quickly swam forward, finding the opening a little tight as she tried to squeeze through. She could feel everything start to get more heavy as her chest kept hurting due to lack of oxygen, She clawed at the concrete, trying to get free as her heart pounded with fear. She finally felt herself pop free, and swam desperately toward the surface, silently screaming for air as things started to go black. No... must stay awake... With one last kick, she broke the surface, gasping for air. She looked toward a huge concrete circle where a support beam once stood and swam over to it, and pulled herself up, rolling onto her back, taking in gulp after gulp of oxygen.
Felicia then leaned over the side of the concrete base and coughed up river water out of her nose and mouth. Her hands were scratched up and her nails were chipped and broke. She looked toward the shore, realizing she had quite a ways to go. She looked to her right and saw a ferry boat departing for the opposite shore. She already knew something weird was up with that considering what had just happened. She dove into the water, swimming out toward the ferry boat path it was taking. She’d stop occasionally to tread water and take a breather to revitalize her lungs.
Felicia wasn’t surprised she was a survivor of that vicious attack. It was sloppy and had much room for errors. Like what if the police had shown up before she reached the bridge or the fact she had dropped everybody off at a random building making her the only one to be caught by the attack. She lowered into the water as the ferry approached, then yelled out,
“Help! I’ve fallen into the water!” She heard multiple shouts on the boat.
“Ma- I mean woman overboard!” Somebody shouted. A floatation device was thrown to her, and she was reeled in by one of the crew. As she climbed up on deck, she got what she was expecting. A gun to the face. She grabbed the man’s wrist and pointed the gun away as he pulled the trigger, a gunshot rang out across the river. Felicia swept his legs out from under him then slammed his face on the guardrail on the ship, and ripped the gun from his grasp as he crumpled to the ground. She looked up and saw several frightened passengers.
“The boats have been hijacked, right?” Felicia asked. Nobody answered she knew another thug had a gun aimed at her before he even pulled the trigger. She shot him in the leg, making him fall off the upper deck where he was standing, preparing to shoot her from his high point. He fell over the rail and hit the deck, flat on his back, and Felicia took his gun too.
“You boys won’t be needing these.” She said sweetly, stepping over them to the steering wheel where a similar-looking thug was driving the boat. Felicia stepped beside him.
“Keep heading to the shore if you don’t want to end up in the water... as a dead weight." The guy got the memo as he kept driving forward and gulped as his knees shook. Felicia looked ahead of her, determination in her eyes. Just you wait, Castro... it’ll all be okay.
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