He was already scarred.


   The land that he, and all other creatures, had been so privileged and grateful to be a part of for time immemorial, was being torn apart before their very eyes. Mountains once stood tall, serving as gigantic protectors from the harsh northern winds and winter storms. He remembered them looming so prominently from horizon to horizon, so big and permanent that using only their silhouettes, one could find their way home even at night. Rivers once gifted all with cold, clear water — further upstream, one might’ve been able to find glaciers that were thick enough to walk on, and permanent much like the mountains, and the evergreen forests, and the Sun and Moon… 


   But it wouldn’t be long before the silence that he took for granted was pierced by the haunting noises of diesel engines and grinding metal. Smokestacks burned the skies, turning day into night. He watched in horror as the mountains which he thought were so permanent, were clawed down, chunk by chunk. They tapped into the Earth, and bled it dry. Its black blood, he recalled, became a horror of its own when it surfaced — how many of his living foes would go on to suffocate in that dark, murky monster? It would seep into their fur and feathers, soaking them in black, and never leave. It corrupted them. And it killed them. Many more were ripped from their lives by rifles. Even more yet would be struck by vehicles, both blinded and killed within the same second. To him, the sound of a human would soon become a warning sign — escape or die. 


   The land was like a chunk of his soul. It was where he belonged. He was a part of it, and so was every other creature. The Earth was one. But soon, they arrived, and first made the divide between what remained and what they called theirs. It wouldn’t be long before the Earth itself, all of it, belonged to them. From there, they split it up between themselves, and expanded their corruption until there wasn’t a single forest they hadn’t polluted. And they made it clear from the start that they would slaughter anyone so unfortunate as to stand in their way, whether it was one or a million. The humans, and their greed, had arrived. 


   They’d maimed the Earth already. Tore it to bits. They’d broken his heart by breaking the Earth. What kind of disgusting, ignorant society could have even thought of doing such a thing? Everyone knew they had a blatant disregard for life. They didn’t even hide it. And they got away with it, because they were too powerful to be stopped. 


   They were destroying the very same thing that gave them life in the first place… all for what? Why?


   The horrors that humanity was imposing upon what once was akin to Eden were quickly turning it into Hell. It was unprecedented. Devastating on unforeseen levels. But it got worse. This was only the first circle — humanity wasn’t done yet.


   But as for him? It wouldn’t be long before they unleashed horrors beyond even the ninth circle onto that poor creature’s soul. 


   Miki would never forget his own screams.



   Windy night. White everywhere. Hold out a hand, and beyond a meter or two, it would disappear. Each gust would whistle around branches and shake the snow off of them. At dusk, he’d laid on a branch, and found himself drifting off to sleep, as the wind’s force rocked the branch ever so slightly. Miki, still reeling from his home’s destruction, was literally rocked to sleep… 


   …But he’d be rudely awakened a short time later. Two halogen lights pierced through the snowy curtain, both rousing him and blinding him at once. He fell out of the tree where he once rested. And on the cold, snowy ground he stayed. Stunned, blinded, and woefully helpless. The harsh, tight grip of two human hands in heavy gloves came after. A masked man in a full suit of winter camouflage lugged an incapacitated Miki to a Gurkha, which he’d be tossed into and trapped inside of. The last thing Miki remembered was falling into a grey metal box… And then hearing the slam of the heavy metal door. 


   Pitch black would soon turn to blinding white. 


   Once again, he was stunned for a moment. His weary eyes took a second or two to adjust. Even then, it hurt to see in general — the harsh buzzing glow of the fluorescent tubes was practically assaulting his brain. The one open side of the cell, where the door had been opened, was being huddled around by many silhouettes. All masked, all human, all wearing the same uniform. 


   “My god… What a creature, look at those eyes.”


   “It’s awake — be careful. Might be stressed. Mind doing the honours, Sport?”


   The words were barely intelligible to him. It was all something like a blur of mumbles, much like how his vision was becoming fuzzy. Miki closed his eyes and curled into a ball, already feeling overwhelmed.


   “Easy does it, now… C’mere, birdy.”


   That grip again. Harsh on his feathers. The light got bigger, or maybe closer… Took up more of his field of view. That’s when it all cut out again.


   “...Wrists… Real tight… Don’t want ‘em squirming.”


   The light was now bearable. But the situation he opened his eyes to find himself in was anything but that. Both ankles and both wrists were bound painfully tight, and his back was pressing against something cold and flat. All this, in an empty white room. Glossy tiles made up the floor, ceiling, and every wall. On one side of the room was the only irregularity, other than smaller things like vents and a door or two — it was what appeared to be tinted panes of glass. Like a window that they didn’t want him seeing through. 


   “Hold it down. Gently!”


   “I’m being gentle. I’m being gentle.”


   Two of the masked humans were by his side. One was manoeuvring a cart that held various devices and instruments, while the other had a hand gripping each of Miki’s forearms in addition to the metal loops that already had his wrists pinned uncomfortably. In response to the ensuing bout of writhing they got from the meowl, his forearms were released and the two hands then pressed hard on his chest, which had been left unbound. For a moment, Miki couldn’t breathe. He choked when he felt something pierce his abdomen — worse yet, he couldn’t scream when it began to slowly move down past where a human’s navel would be, slicing into his flesh and exposing the blinding glow of his bioluminescent amber blood.


   “Gently, damnit! You’re spooking the thing!”


   “How the fuck do you expect it to not—”


   Miki only got more panicked from there. And it was only a matter of time before he broke free, in such a state. After applying as much force as he could for a few seconds straight, trembling all over while the table loudly groaned, he snapped the steel that held his wrists. With the mobility this afforded him, it wasn’t long before he’d wriggled his feet free.


   From there, the team of humans nearly fell apart. They were screaming bloody murder at each other, as they scrambled to contain the beast that had just escaped from their iron grip. As for Miki, it was practically instant — the moment he got himself free, he launched himself from the table with a powerful leap, and spread those white wings for a single pump, while his abdomen bled profusely. He barreled towards the best chance of an escape that he could find, and started bashing at it, no longer feeling the pain or paying mind to the dangerous amount of blood that he’d lost. It was a metal door painted to match the walls; all the vents were too small. While the humans erupted into chaos, Miki had the door close to caving in after four hefty kicks, and simply tore it off its hinges in his adrenaline-fueled state.


   The door was a false exit. A hideout for a guard. Because when he tore his way in, rather than a hallway or even the outside world, there was a muzzle waiting for him. 


   The dart hit him in the throat, and he blacked out almost instantly.



   He didn’t know how long it had been. His location; totally out of the question. All he knew was that he was somewhere different, and that he was bound once again. He felt a lump build up in his throat. If intense feelings of dread and fear hadn’t built up in him simultaneously, he would’ve thought the tranquillizer dart caused the lump in his throat.


   Concrete surrounded him now, rather than white tiles. This room was also much smaller than the first; not much bigger than a shipping container might’ve been on the inside. There were no windows here. Most irregularities were in the concrete itself; some cracks and chips here and there. It was hard to see anything else, given how dim the few working lights were, and how much they flickered. Their blueish tone was harsh on him. But a few weathered signs still managed to catch his eye with their yellow hue. The black paint on them was eroded badly, but barely legible on one of them was a symbol Miki recognized. It was one he feared. 


   He had been trapped in a nuclear bunker. 


   His eyes welled up with tears, rendering his vision blurry. But that wasn’t before he was able to blink a few times, and attempt to keep himself together so he could look around some more. But he couldn’t do that for long. The moment he saw the shackles fastened to his ankles, which were linked to thick chains that bound him to the wall, Miki shattered like glass.


   He would be heard by none but himself in what would surely be his dying moments, as he slowly asphyxiated without an air supply. But that would not change the fact that Miki’s helpless, hiccuping sobs represented true and utter defeat. That his final breaths on Earth would be spent on agonized, blood-curdling screams. That he knew he was doomed, and thus could do nothing but cry as the scythe beared down on his neck.


   His tears gradually turned to pure blood. Glowing rivers of amber trickled down his cheeks, and stained the floor. The lights above him blew out. The room suddenly became pitch black. All that remained to be seen, now, were Miki’s bloody tears. But they would soon be joined by the chains, as they began glowing near Miki’s wrists and ankles. From red, they became yellow, then white. Over time, the chains would become brighter than Miki’s tears. They were nearing their limit.


   His eyes shot open. They were two flaring suns; blinding, hollow orbs of amber that melted the concrete with their light alone. The bunker collapsed, and mere instants later, all four chains snapped. They vapourized into pure plasma — the manifestation of pure energy in air. The breaking and subsequent vapourization of the chains would be followed by a flash, a shockwave, and the sudden disappearance of Miki. 


   The trauma had only just begun.

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