Chapter 10: Truth
Yuri felt the air around him grow thin. There was no explanation out of this one.
"Are you all right?" Hikari asked, taking a step closer to him. Yuri panted heavily, backing away.
"No, no, no..."
"Yuri?" Hikari looked genuinely concerned for his sake.
"Aren't you scared?"
"Of course you gave me quite the jump, but it doesn't change anything, if that's what you mean." He let out a small giggle.
"I just send out an entire arm made of blades and you're not freaked out...?" Yuri followed slowly.
"What bothers me the most is the fact that you kept this a secret." Hikari stared straight into his eyes, piercing his soul. Yuri's gaze fell to the ground, he remained silent. Hikari took hold of Yuri's hand, and led him inside, through the corridors, past millions of rooms, and down a set of concrete stairs. All Yuri could see ahead of him was darkness, it looked extremely dreary and depressing compared to the rest of Hikari's house.
"Shh!" Hikari shushed him, treading down the stairs cautiously. "Good, no ones here." He muttered. The stairs led down to a tall, metal door, similar to one you'd see in a prison. Hikari stopped before opening the door, and turned to face Yuri.
"I haven't been completely honest either. There's something you need to see." He creaked the door open, flicking on a light switch. A dim bulb illuminated the small room enough to see the creatures inside. There was a room full of animals, but not just normal animals, hybrids. Just like Seika, Yuri thought. One in particular hopped its way over to Hikari, excited. A purple rabbit with it's left eye a metal laser instead. The bunnys legs stretched when it approached Hikari, so that it was his height. Metal springs were drilled into its hind legs, Yuri noticed.
"This is Arthur, he was made to be a super-rabbit. But it failed, according to the scientists at least. I found him by a riverbank a few years ago, barely clinging onto life." He swallowed. "They were trying to get rid of Arthur since he had no use anymore." The rabbit bowed to Yuri, who waved back, stunned. Several other animals remained here as well; a seemingly normal penguin that could shoot ice from its beak, a lion cub mixed with a cheetah, giving it the patterning of the cheetah but the mane of a lion, a sloth mixed with an otter, a monkey with zebra stripes, and a panda with gorilla arms.
"I found all of them on one of my walks so I started... Collecting. I couldn't just leave them out there, they would've..." His words trailed off, but Yuri nodded in understanding, kneeling down to pet the lion-cheetah.
"That's Kyo, he's a sweetheart." Hikari chuckled.
"How did you manage to take care of all of them?" Yuri wondered out loud.
"I had to hide them from Mom and Dad so I asked to use this room just for me to relax in, and I had to put them in here. I want them to go outside again, Yuri, but it's too dangerous."
"We can guard them."
"What?!" Hikari looked aghast, and slightly horrified. "They'll die!"
"Not if I can help it. You saw what I could do, that's only the beginning. It'll be fine. We just have to get them out of here." Hikari opened his mouth to say something, but shut it and nodded once.
"There's a door right around the back that leads outside."
"Then lets go!" Yuri took a step but was halted by Hikari's sturdy arm.
"There's too many people out there. We'll be seen." Hikari said grimly.
"You could make a distraction, I'll get everyone into the woods, and you can catch up to us easily after." Yuri was smiling from ear to ear. Hikari bit his lip.
"I could but..."
"No buts, we can do this!" Something seemed to stick in Hikari, for he glanced up and have Yuri a bright smile.
"Right. I'll go up now, the door is right behind that curtain. We should take Seika, too." A soft mew announced the winged fox's entrance. She brushed against Yuri's leg, but found herself distracted by the new company. The other animals sniffed her over, and each accepted her, or that's what Yuri interpreted it as. Kyo tackled Seika playfully, knocking her to the ground. Seika retaliated by nipping the cubs ear. Teeing his eyes away from the cuteness, Yuri went over to the curtain and pulled it away, revealing a wooden door.
"Go." Yuri said to Hikari, who nodded and sprinted up the stairs. All Yuri had to do now was wait. Hikari deserved to see these animals have a glimmer of happiness. He had done so much, not only for Yuri, but for all these creatures. He should've expected something like this, Hikari was a good guy at heart. A loud CRASH echoed across the house. That must have been Hikari's distraction, as soon Yuri heard yelling and saw the people outside move inwards. Opening the door a crack, Yuri checked to make sure absolutely nobody was there.
Luckily, it seemed everyone had gone to see what the ruckus was.
"Come here, guys." The animals all gave him quizzical looks. Seika walked out the door, gave a couple mews and the other animals followed after her eagerly. Relieved, Yuri ran into the forest, constantly checking that everyone was with him. After a few minutes of passing dense trees, he finally stopped to take a breather. Yuri counted heads. All animals were accounted for.
"Do you feel that? The forest air?" Yuri inhaled deeply. Seika translated for him again, and all the animals paused. Finally, the monkey jumped into a tree, and swung from tree to tree. Kyo ran towards a nearby lake, motioning for Seika to follow. She gave a glance to Yuri and trotted over. The other animals occupied themselves with the outdoors. Yuri smiled, and felt himself shift. He transformed into a doglike creature, with purple fur. Streams of fur drifted from his body, but Yuri found himself much more comfortable like this. Occasionally he would have the chance to alter his entire body, his personal favourite always being the dog. He closed his eyes, feeling the wind glide through his fur.
"I've never seen you look so relaxed." Hikari sat beside him. Yuri jumped, that boy sure was silent when he wanted to be.
"I like this form better." Yuri could still speak through his form, he had made sure of that. Hikari laid a hand on his head.
"What are you doing?"
"Your fur is soft, doesn't it feel nice anyway?"
"N-nobody's ever tried it before." He had to admit, it was like being caressed by an angel, no wonder other dogs enjoyed being pet so much. Hikari stopped though, leaning against a willow tree.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" He spoke in a whisper, barely audible. Yuri nodded. The two sat in quiet, watching the animals play around and feeling the grass between their toes. Yuri had never felt this way before, was this what was called 'happiness'? It wasn't just any sort of happiness, this was true happiness.
"Well now, what's going on here?" A silky voice made Yuri's blood run cold. Flicking his eyes towards the sound, a tall man dressed in all black smirked evilly, only a few feet away. The man cackled, striking fear into the boys heart.