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Flammie and Glory

Flammie and Glory

By shadowlugia249

 

Living in New York City has always been a challenge for me. You have to deal with almost constant noise, lights and sounds on a daily basis. And then there are the people who are always in a rush and always going places without a care in the world. And ever since the 9/11 incident, it seems like the city has been on its toes with all the security in the airports and such. It almost makes me wish that I could just get away from it all and join my Uncle Albert in South America on his quest to discover a species that has not been named yet.

Yeah, he’s always had a dream to be the one to name something that was unique. He would go from finding comets, to finding stars to finding a unique species. So far, Uncle Albert has yet to find even one thing that he can call his own.

Anyway, my story starts at an airport somewhere in Manhattan in the late summer. Uncle Albert was sending me something special via airplane from his journeys. He didn’t tell me what it was in a letter he had sent a few days earlier other than the words: “You’ll really like it!”

So, here I am waiting in line at the “Special Baggage Claim” to pick up Uncle Albert’s package. Whatever it was, it was either very big or very dangerous. I was kind of hoping it was neither of those as I stepped up to the front desk.

“Alex Schaefer,” I told the person at the desk. “Albert Hoss sent me a package from Buenos Aires, Argentina.”

“Just a minute,” said the man, sounding like he had just said, “My-noot.”

“Schaefer… Schaefer… Hoss… Hoss…” He repeated the names as he scanned his computer. “Ah! Here we go! “Two exotic pets called… “Flame-mees…?” sent from Buenos Aires Argentina last Tuesday at 8:01 P.M. local time and arrived this morning at 3:59 A.M. Warning: handle with care…?””

He gulped as he read the last four words. I could tell that “Handle with Care” did not sit well with this guy.

Nevertheless, he regained his composure and motioned to an attendant nearby. The attendant escorted me to a door and we went outside to where a cart had a large, wooden box marked with “Caution” and “Live Cargo” stickers.

Okay… I was obviously dealing with an animal here. Whatever “Flame-mees” were, Uncle Albert had obviously caught one and had sent it to me.

When the attendant and I approached the crate, I could hear several scratching sounds and an odd, musical cry coming from inside it.

“Did you want some help getting this to your vehicle?” asked the attendant, heading over to the cart controls.

“Yeah, I guess.”

I looked into one of the air holes to see one of these “Flame-mees” and was immediately greeted by a smooth, furry smell. Inside, I could see a “Flame-mee” shuffling around and letting out a song-like cry.

Just then, I saw it look at me. It was hard to see it in the dim light, but I could make out a baby-blue eye looking at me.

I climbed down from the crate and helped get it over to my truck. From there, I drove it home to open it.

 

I dropped the crate off in my garage in the suburbs of the city and waited until after I ate lunch before opening it. After lunch, I tended to the crate and its contents.

Before I opened the crate, I noticed an envelope taped to the side of it. Inside was a hand-written note from my Uncle Albert. It must be instructions for how to handle this “Flame-mee”.

 

Dear Alex,

Surprise!!! I finally managed to find a creature that has yet to be named! Well, not anymore! I call this creature… or creatures “Flammie”. I pronounce it “Flay-mee”. I decided to send you a pair to raise on your own. Keep in mind that these Flammies are only infants and they need constant supervision. I’ve been with them long enough to know that they are very intelligent and seem to possess strange powers. Yeah, powers. I won’t tell you what they are; I’d spoil the surprise.

I suppose that I’d better tell you how to take care of them. First off: how to feed them. You don’t have to feed them at all! All they need to survive is moonlight. Just let them outside during the night and they can soak up the moon’s rays on their own. Other than that, just let them have some fresh water every now and then.

Next: how to clean up after them. To be honest, I have never seen how they do… that, so… you’re on your own.

Up next: flying. Yep, they fly fairly well. With their four wings, they’ve been able to turn on a dime in the air. I’ve been lucky enough to actually ride them when they grow large enough. Now don’t get over-excited; they need to be at a minimum weight of 200 pounds and at least ten feet in length. Yep, they get B.I.G. very quickly!

Finally: playing. Flammies are very playful and mischievous. They’re like dogs and like to play ball and dig up the ground. They are extremely fun to play with, but I’d watch out for those claws if you play rough.

Keep in mind that Flammies are incredibly smart and may be more than you can handle. If anything happens that you don’t understand or anything unusual happens that I did not include in this letter, call me on my satellite phone. You should have the number.

Have  fun!

Uncle Al

 

It took me a while to memorize all of the rules about these Flammies. All the while, I felt a sense of pride that my uncle had acquired an animal that still needed to be named. It has been his life-long dream to have that kind of fame.

A kind of frantic scratching was coming from the crate. I guess I’d better let them out. I grabbed my favorite blue crowbar and pried the door open.

Two medium-sized Flammies came tumbling out in a heap. I had never seen such odd and funny creatures in my life. Their basic shape was almost bear-like with fur except for bumpy orange scales running from their chest to the end of their tails in rhythm. They had two floppy, elf-like ears on the side of their heads and a crop of hair atop their heads. They had three claws on each of their padded paws and footpaws.

What amazed me was the fact that they had not two, but four feathery wings sprouting from their backs. The upper two wings were slightly larger than the lower two ones. I had never seen any furred creature have feathers as well. Huh.

The key differences between the two Flammies ranged from their fur color (one was a creamy-yellow while the other was a shadowy-purple) to their hair color (goldenrod and scarlet) to their claws and pads (one had white claws and brown pads and the other had blue claws and blue pads) to the color of their eyes (baby-blue and burning-red) to the number of pointed fangs sticking out of the sides of the roof of their mouths (the yellow one had one on each side and the purple one had two).

With that observation, I tried approaching the Flammies. The purple one was rolling around while trying to catch its tail and ignored me but the yellow one was frozen in place with his adorable blue eyes scoping me out. I carefully reached out a hand to pet it; it still didn’t move. But before I could touch it, it launched itself at me and tackled me onto the hard pavement.

“Oof!” I grunted, taken completely by surprise. “What was that for?!”

But the Flammie seemed to warm up to me instantly. It crawled up to my face and started licking me with a thick, red tongue and purred. I laughed as it tickled me with its soft fur. It was really quite cuddly.

Just then, my mind was flooded with a funny sensation. It felt as if I was drowning in blue. I noticed that it had a kind of happy sensation about it. I looked at the yellow Flammie and the blue intensified. It seemed to be radiating from the Flammie. Somehow, the Flammie was sending its feelings into my brain. I looked away from it and the blue subsided but the happiness was still there.

I finally managed to get the yellow Flammie off my chest and get up to tend to the purple one curled up in the corner of my garage. It looked at me with narrow eyes and growled at me.

Oh… kay. I got myself a live one here.

I reached my hand out to stroke the Flammie but it just stared at me and raised its haunches. Common Sense told me to just back off and let it be but I wanted to get close to it. I paid for my ignorance when it lashed out and bit me on my outstretched hand!

“Ouch! Why you little-!”

The Flammie growled at me and took off into the streets. I tried to chase it but it scurried away from me and took flight. Its four feathery wings did not flap but it was soon out of my reach and was soon out of sight.

My head filled with green panic. I can’t believe that it got away from me! Uncle Albert was going to have my head over this! I was going to go call his satellite phone when I felt a yellow wave of pity wash over me. I blinked and hung up the phone. Why was my mind full of color?

The answer came from the remaining Flammie that was on its hind legs nuzzling my bleeding hand with its short flat muzzle. I could sense a feeling of concern coming from it. I knelt down and scratched it behind the ears.

“It’s okay, little guy,” I tried to reassure it. “It’ll come back.”

But the Flammie was more concerned with my bleeding hand than it was over its escaped brethren. It started licking the bite wound with its tongue. I instinctively pulled it away, unsure what it would do if it tasted blood, but then I remembered Uncle Albert’s letter say that Flammies only fed off of moonlight and I let it continue. Its tongue felt as though it was licking me with a feather. It tickled a little and the wound seemed to stop bleeding. Soon, all that was left was a half-ring of white marks on the back of my hand where the Flammie had bit me.

“Wow…” I said, tickling it under the chin. “You are really something else, you know? I think that you should have a name. Let’s see…” I thought for a moment. I had made up a lot of exotic names in my life and I figured that such an exotic pet required an exotic name. “How about “Terran”?”

The Flammie frowned. I actually laughed because it was SO cute!

“Okay… not that one. Hmm… How about “Siron”?”

It didn’t like that one either. It let out an awkward wail and my mind was filled with an annoying yellow.

“Apparently not.” I thought harder.

This Flammie was really picky. It didn’t like “Matra” or “Sylvan” or even “Bane”.

I then had a hunch. I had only been suggesting male names. Maybe this Flammie was… female? So I tried another tack. I tried “Tiamar”, “Serra” and “Kerran”. I had better luck with its reactions but it still didn’t like what I was dealing out.

It wasn’t until I suggested “Seryn” that I got a positive response; the Flammie propped itself up on its tail and barked, sounding like a fox.

“Seryn?”

A positive flash of gold and silver sparked in my mind. Seryn it was. It bothered me slightly because “Seryn” was the name of a twisted character in an Internet story that I read called “Interrogation of the Species.” Seryn had been the name of a skunk-like alien called a Tarnis that had subdued a human and had changed his entire being. It seemed wide out in left field that this would have happened in real life, so I cast it aside without a second thought.

“Seryn it is! Hello, Seryn.” I patted the Flammie on the head and picked it up. It was about as heavy as a small backpack and twice as cuddly.

Taking him inside, I set him down in front of the fridge and opened it. I pulled out a jug of water and went to go get a bowl.

Suddenly, I felt a curious mix of blue and white in my head. Turning, I saw that Seryn had stumbled across my cat, a Calico named Milkshakes. Unsure of what to expect, I watched the pair examine each other.

Milkshakes was sniffing Seryn’s ear. Suddenly, Seryn screwed up its face. I thought it was dislike but instead, Seryn sneezed, slightly spooking Milkshakes. They then took turns pawing at each other. It seemed that they liked each other when they wandered off into the living room. Now I knew that Flammies are friendly with other pets. I opened a cupboard and poured some chips into a bowl. I decided to take Seryn for a walk to the park when it cooled down later.

 

I must have fallen asleep on the couch because I remember waking up with Seryn asleep on my chest. I tried not to move as I looked at the adorable creature. A lazy blue swirl coursed through my mind. She seemed so peaceful lying there.

She must have sensed that I was awake because she opened her eyes and yawned widely.

Alex.

I shook my head and looked at her. Surely I had heard things.

Alex.

“Did you just…?”

Yes. Alex!

“You talked!”

In a way.

I couldn’t believe it; Seryn was speaking to me in my head! It was just the surface of how intelligent her species was.

You sleep loud.

“Do I really snore?” I was confused at what Seryn was saying.

Noisy sleep.

I blushed. I never knew that I snored when I slept.

Hungry.

I looked at the clock. It was 8:04. I had missed my chance to take Seryn for a walk but the moon was shining which meant that it was feeding time for her.

“I dunno if you can get much moonlight outside New York City.”

I’ll manage

Seryn crawled off of me onto the floor and crawled over to the sliding glass door.

Moon!

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”

I rolled off the couch and went to let her outside. She took to the air before I knew what had happened.

“Hey!!!”

I’ll be back

I looked up into the moonlit sky and watched Seryn’s four wings flap in the moon’s outline. I wasn’t sure if she would be able to get enough energy because it had been a full moon the previous night. Seryn, however, didn’t seem to mind. She flew in lazy circles, soaking up the moonlight through some unknown process.

The bite mark on my hand itched a little as I watched Seryn fly. Ignoring it, I pulled up a chair and sat down, waiting for her to come back down. I noticed that a faint glitter trailed behind her. It was really something to watch a Flammie fly in the moonlight in the suburbs. I could hear other people as they noticed Seryn flying over the neighborhood.

“Look at that! It looks like a dragon!” one of the children was saying.

“It’s got four wings,” observed another. “It can’t be a dragon.”

I let them look. As long as nobody was threatening her, it was all right.

My skin was itching a little. I noticed that the area around the bite wound was a little red. I hoped that I wasn’t allergic to Flammies.

All done.

Seryn came floating down and landed on my shoulder. She seemed more radiant and her fur had a lot more luster to it.

“That moonlight must do wonders for you.”

Yes. Wonders.

“I’m r-r-really tired,” I said, failing to stifle a huge yawn. “Wanna go to bed?”

I’m not tired. I want to fly.

I blinked. I didn’t want Seryn to run away on me like the other Flammie did.

I’ll be back at dawn.

“Okay… Just promise that you’ll be back.”

I promise.

Seryn looked at me with those cute eyes to let me know that she meant it.

“Fine. Just be back before I wake up.”

I promise.

I let Seryn outside again and she flew off into the moonlight. I then decided to turn in for the night. I trusted her to come back in the morning.

 

Alex!

What the-?!

I woke up to find Seryn sitting on her tail and looking straight at me.

“Seryn!!! Don’t do that!”

I thought I offended her but instead a swirl of affectionate pink filled my head. I also noticed that she was much larger and much heavier than she had been the previous night.

“You… you grew!”

Yes.

“Okay…” I didn’t know what to say. I eventually settled with: “Do you want to go for a walk in Central Park today?”

Yes.

I was surprised with her solid and confident answers. Seryn crawled off of me and my bed and sidled over to her water bowl to get a drink. I then got up to get ready for my day.

While I was in the shower, I noticed that the hand where the other Flammie had bit me had a small tuft of creamy-yellow fur. I thought that I was breaking out with something but solved the problem by shaving it with my razor.

When I got out of the bathroom, I heard a sound that sounded like humming coming from my kitchen and a lazy blue entered my head. I entered it to find Seryn humming an odd tune while scratching Milkshakes’ tummy. My cat was enjoying the feeling and the tune while he purred.

“You and Milkshakes really like each other, I guess?”

Cats are unevolved Flammies. He is curious about me.

“Huh.” I went to go fetch my coat and took Seryn outside to my truck to drive to Central Park.

When we got there, I could have sworn that Seryn had grown at least another three inches. She now resembled a young bear cub in size and weight. Not only that, but the creamy-yellow fur on the back of my hand had grown back and had covered the entire backside of it. To make matters worse, my other hand was starting to sprout fur as well.

“Seryn, do you know anything about this?” I showed her my right hand while I kept my left one on the steering wheel.

She sniffed it and looked at it with interest.

Flammie bite.

I didn’t like the sound of that.

“Is it bad?”

You are becoming a Flammie.

I started to panic. I didn’t want to become a Flammie!

I have seen humans become Flammies.

“And…?”

They were afraid, but they now prefer their new form.

That’s comforting!” I was still panicking. I was turning into an animal and the creature that had done this to me said that it wasn’t all that bad.

I show you the world through Flammie eyes at the park, yes?

I hesitated… and nearly rear-ended a Chevy. I was losing it!

Please?

Seryn looked at me with those irresistibly-cute eyes and I had no choice but to give in.

“All right. I’ll do it when we get to the park.”

 

Ten minutes later, we were walking through Central Park. Some of the people were looking at my odd pet walking along the paths. I ignored them with my hands in my pockets. The fur had spread across my hands and had transformed them into padded paws not unlike Seryn’s. Not only that, but my fingers had melted from five fingers into four short, dog-like digits with a long, sharp, dark-brown claw growing from each one.

“We can do it here,” I said, stopping by a secluded park bench.

Very well.

I sat down on the bench and let Seryn nuzzle my leg. I took my transformed hands out of my pockets at examined them. They felt very warm and slightly heavy. And they itched like crazy! I just couldn’t stop scratching the part where the fur turned to skin.

I’m ready.

I stayed put while Seryn took to the air. We had discussed what we were going to do while walking through the park. I watched her soar to an incredible height and become a speck in the sky.

Are you ready?

I heard her voice in my head and nodded. I wasn’t sure if she could see me but a confirmation of white and gold glitter crossed my mind.

I felt a tug on my consciousness. It felt as if my mind was being extracted with a tweezers. I tried fighting it as my vision blurred.

Don’t struggle. You’ll hurt yourself.

“What are you doing?!”

Relax. I want to show you something.

I gave up control and I momentarily lost all of my senses; I was just a mind without a body. And then I entered a new mind; one completely foreign and alien to me. My vision returned and I found myself looking through the eyes of Seryn. I noticed that almost everything that had a blue-ish color was more vibrant and noticeable. Other than that, I noticed that everything was sharper in appearance like a hawk’s vision. Speaking of which, I discovered that Seryn could zoom her line of sight in and out to see things over a mile away.

But that was nothing compared to the emotions that were washing over me. Seryn’s mind was racing with happiness and ecstasy over the freedom of flying. Now I knew why she enjoyed flying so much; the ability to go absolutely anywhere was something that she did not take for granted. Flying was something that most people would not understand since they have to rely on machines to do it, but being able to do it on your own is what others could only dream about.

What’s more, my mind was slowly melding with Seryn’s so that we were becoming one entire being. I could soon feel what she was feeling to a degree that we there was no distinction between our minds. Seryn flexed her tail and so did I. I flapped each of her four wings at the same time that she did. We were one complete mind; I couldn’t believe that I was against turning into a Flammie from the start!

This is great! I told Seryn via our mind link. How can you land when you’re having so much fun?

I tire in time, she answered. I could fly up to ten hours at one time as an adult. I am glad that you are enjoying yourself.

We flew until sunset started to creep up on the city. People who passed my shell of a body merely thought that I had fallen asleep on the park bench. Eventually, Seryn divided our minds in two again and returned it to my body. I panicked slightly when I could feel both my body and Seryn’s. Thankfully, it was only temporary and I was returned to my original body.

I drew a deep breath as I opened my eyes after returning to my body. Soon, Seryn came fluttering down to rest on the park bench.

“That was great, Seryn!” I said, stretching. My limbs had gotten a little stiff without moving for a while. “I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but… I can’t wait to become a Flammie!”

I examined my “paws” with some satisfaction. The fur had progressed about an inch down my arms in the past eight hours. I was getting antsy for the new form and abilities that I was about to acquire. I then wondered something about my flight with Seryn.

“Why do you see so much blue?”

It is how I am.

“Oh…” That was pretty blunt, but I decided not to pursue the matter. “Okay. Can we do this again sometime before… IT happens?”

I don’t see why not.

I smiled and got to my feet. “Shall we head for home?”

I need moonlight.

“Oh. Well… why don’t you fly home and I’ll meet you there?”

Very well.

 

Seryn was already in the garage and was scratching on the side door when I got home. Her luster had been restored by the moonlight she had already absorbed. She happily awaited me to open the door for her as I got out of the truck after parking it in the garage.

I opened the door and let her in. I could have sworn that she had grown another six inches today. Pretty soon, she wouldn’t be able to fit in the door.

While getting ready for bed, I took off my shirt and saw that I had acquired a chestful of creamy-yellow Flammie fur. It was thick enough to cover my entire chest down to my hips. Not only that, but my arms were now completely covered with the warm fur. I would normally have been scared of what was happening to me, but after what Seryn showed me today, I simply felt the fur with one of my padded paws and tickled it with a brown talon.

I decided to sleep without a shirt on tonight; the fur would keep my warm enough. After making sure that Seryn had some fresh water, I turned in for the night.

 

I woke up extremely warm. I went to a mirror to discover that my entire body had changed overnight. The fur now covered my legs, arms and torso. My feet had changed into padded paws like my hands had. They had three sharp, brown talons with dog-like pads underneath. I also noticed that I had grown a tail! It was long and thick just like Seryn’s and I could flex it by moving my tailbone.

Also, I had grown two, feathered wings on each side of my spine. A green edge ran down the end of the feathers on each wing. To top it all off, my entire skull had rearranged to match that of a Flammie. My nose was somewhat flatter, I had grown a sharp fang on the side of my mouth, my ears were longer and elf-like and my hair had changed color and thickness to a thick, straw-yellow color.

Alex?

Seryn had come to investigate. She was now the same size as a full-grown adult Black Bear. I was surprised that she could even fit through the door.

I looked at Seryn with my new baby-blue eyes. Instantly, I felt our minds open to each other to a point that we could feel each other’s thoughts and desires. We had reached a new level in the mental link between us. We were now two bodies but one mind.

You have changed, said Seryn, smiling at me and coming up to nuzzle my thigh.

Yeah, I said mentally, dropping to all fours. There was no need for vocal words anymore. How about that? Uncle Albert would have kittens if he could see me now.

I examined my new form’s size with interest. The lower half of my body was slightly broader than the upper half; about as wide as one of my loveseats. I could sit on my tail and footpaws which made me look like someone squatting. My arms were slightly longer, thicker and furrier than they had been yesterday Apparently, I had grown during the night; I just didn’t realize it when I was looking at myself in the mirror. Something told me that I was still not a full-sized Flammie yet. Oh… boy!

Seryn then told me that I wasn’t expecting. “I have many things to teach you. Shall we go?”

You want to teach me? I was slightly taken aback at the thought of a pet teaching its master and at the sudden urgency of it all.

Yes. You will not survive as a Flammie if you do not learn how to live as one.

I sent her a puzzled wave of black and silver mist. What do you have to teach me?

Many things. Breathing elements, flying on your own, and becoming human.

Did you say, “Breathing elements”? I can become human again, too?”

“Yes.”

Joy! It did sound like fun. Let’s get going! I turned to the doorway next to me. If we can get out of here.

It was difficult to get out of my house due to our massive size. Although I tried to be careful, I still managed to knock a few things off their tables either with my tail or one of my four wings. I wanted to at least preserve some of my possessions; Seryn didn’t say, but I had a feeling that I would be back someday.

Luckily, Flammies had opposable thumbs that allowed me to roll the doorknob to open the front door. I had to suck in my chest, fold my wings and walk sideways to get out of my own house. Ironic, huh?

Once we got out of the house, Seryn and I went to the backyard to begin my training with the first lesson of Flammies: flying.

Flammies use their upper wings for their initial takeoff and thrust and their lower wings to stabilize and steer, Seryn told me while sending a picture of a Flammie flying into my head.

Don’t all flying creatures use their tails for stabilization and steering? I wondered, flexing my own.

Flammies weigh much more than other flying creatures. Our bones are lightweight and flexible but very strong. We must use all four of our wings to stay airborne and our tails act as a balance to keep us level.

I took all this in while being silently amazed at how far Seryn’s English had come along. I then decided to try it for myself. I positioned myself in the exact center of my yard so that I had enough clearance for me to take off. With Seryn guiding me through our minds, I started to flap my wings. I pumped my upper wings to get slightly airborne followed by my lower wings to get completely in the air. Soon, I was high above my house in flight, albeit a little shaky. I caught onto the concept fairly quickly I showed my prowess by doing a loose double-backflip with a twist in it 2000 feet up in the air.

Very good, said Seryn, joining me in the sky and watching my stunt. You learn very quickly.

Thanks, I said after flying level to face her.

 

Later that day, we flew out to the edge of the ocean to begin my elemental breath training. During that time, I took in the excitement of flying on my own. What an experience! I felt the wind ruffle through my fur and roll off of my wing as I soared over the world. I can barely describe how wonderful it felt!

To make a long story short, it turns out that all Flammies have the ability to exhale two of four elemental breaths: fire, water, wind and/or ice. What they can breathe is already predetermined by how they were born. Seryn demonstrated her ability to breathe an unnatural blue fire and a cold, icy mist that froze on contact.

Now you try it, she said, sitting on her tail to watch.

I nodded and reared up on my haunches. With each of their elemental breaths, each Flammie had a type of “lung” that fueled that element. More specifically, Seryn’s fire attribute had a “fire lung”; her ice breath had an “ice lung” and so on.

I scanned my abilities with my mind to find my own “elemental lungs”. I eventually noticed that I possessed a “wind lung” and a “water lung”. This was a good thing because Seryn and I possessed all four elemental breaths between the two of us.

I drew a deep breath and drew it into my wind lung for starters. I then exhaled through my mouth. What came out was like blowing a breath of air at the same speed as a tornado. Trees quailed under the massive gust and I nearly uprooted one in the process.

I had a similar experience with the water element. I spewed a column of water so powerful and so solid that a tree was completely uprooted and slammed into two others.

Okay, I said after this happened. I’m done now. Can we move on?

But Seryn was looking up at the sky in the direction of New York City. A collection of dark clouds had gathered over the city and the sound of thunder was ringing out. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to hear it, but Flammies have a heightened sense of hearing significantly better than humans did. I could have sworn that I saw heavy rain as well as lightning in the clouds as well.

What’s up, Seryn? I asked, sidling over to her.

Evil. She can be pretty blunt and pretty vague at the same time.

Come again?

Evil is hovering over the city.

Oh. Do you know what it is?

Mana.

I shook my head. You’re losing me.

Mana is wreaking havoc on the human city. I can sense his anger… his hatred… his sorrow. I can sense his fury towards humans. Surely you can, too?

I looked at the clouds, which I noticed for the fist time, were a dark purple color. I, too, could sense a creature that was full of rage hand hatred for humans and all life. Whatever was radiating those evil emotions also had a slight sense of satisfaction to it. It seemed to be dealing damage to something OR someone.

Yeah, I feel it. “Mana” must really hate life if I can feel it.

We must find Mana and stop him. Seryn spread her four wings wide at once. The humans do not stand a chance.

Wait for me! Seryn had taken off with me struggling to keep up.

 

Oh… my… God. This is terrible.

New York City was almost completely destroyed. Buildings were damaged and were nearly destroyed. Fires burned freely despite the heavy rain and the unnatural purple fog that hung over the city. Rubble was littered throughout the city streets. I could have sworn that I saw a large hole punched straight through the MetaboLife Building.

Mana did this, said Seryn with a note of pity in her voice. His hatred for life did this.

Would you mind telling me who this “Mana” is?

He is… my brother. He and I rode across the ocean together to meet you.

You mean…?! I didn’t have to finish the sentence; Seryn could sense the answer in my head. Mana must have been that violet Flammie that had arrived with Seryn in that crate from Uncle Albert. Mana was the one that had bitten me and turned me into a Flammie myself.

He’s your brother?! I couldn’t believe that such a sweet, kind Flammie like Seryn could have a brother as dark-hearted as Mana.

Yes. Seryn sounded guilty. My brother was born with so much evil in his heart that he and I were banished by our kind to prevent any of his darkness from infecting the others.

I’m sorry to hear that, I said, putting my paw on her back. But then something about what she had said started to bother me. Hold on… Why did they banish you?

I always believed that he would change. I stood by his side until we were captured by your human uncle. I never stopped believing in him… until I saw this. Now I know… She sniffed and wiped away a tear. …that I was wrong. Mana is still as dark-hearted as ever.

I don’t blame you. I would do anything for my own brother. I hooked my tail around hers in comfort.

Suddenly, both mine and Seryn’s ears twitched to the sound of helicopter blades and gunfire. We looked up to see a large, violet-colored Flammie flying past us followed by three Apache helicopters. The choppers were firing machine guns at the Flammie. Unfortunately, the Flammie got far enough ahead to turn around and fire a bolt of violet energy at one of the choppers, destroying it on the spot.

Mana, stop! Seryn called to the violet Flammie. The humans don’t deserve this!

The Flammie destroyed a second Apache with a powerful whack of his tail, sending it into the third and sending it crashing into a building. He then looked at the two of us.

Hello, Seryn, he sneered. I had no idea how he knew her name. It’s been a while. I see that that human that I bit is with you. Inferior scum! Only Flammies are the true rulers of the world.

Seryn looked horrorstruck. How many humans have you bitten, Mana?!

Mana smiled malevolently. I could see the satisfaction in his crimson eyes. I’ve infected my fair share. Soon, we will be the rulers of the planet! On a hunch, I tried to search his mind for how many humans he had bitten and where they were but was unsuccessful. His mind was completely clouded with hatred and anger.

I was wrong to believe that you could change, Mana. Seryn had some slight venom in her voice. Some things never change!

So be it… scum.

It was then that a nerve in Seryn’s mind snapped. I felt her consciousness fill with pure hatred and blind fury for her brother’s actions. She let out a cry of fury and launched herself into the air at Mana, who barely dodged her. She then turned in mid-air and tackled Mana. The two Flammies locked talons and slammed into a building. They then separated and started a fight of the elements. Seryn breathed a combination of fire and ice at Mana while her brother countered with two unusual breath attacks: lightning and shadow.

I could only watch as they went higher into the air and continued their brawl. I saw Seryn get hit with on of Mana’s lightning breaths and a sharp spike of painful red coursed through my mind.

Seryn! I called. I couldn’t just sit here and watch her being torn apart by this evil Flammie. I leapt into the air and flew up to meet them. I was so tunnel-visioned on the two of them that I failed to notice that my flying had improved greatly.

Once I reached them, I took a deep breath through one of my elemental lungs and blew a torrent of water at Mana in an attempt to distract him so that Seryn could gain the upper hand. If the rain hadn’t drenched him already, my water breath did the trick.

Furious, Mana turned his attention to me after sending Seryn crashing to the ground after stunning her with one of his lightning bolts. I hesitated slightly to check on Seryn and it cost me dearly. Mana’s sharp talons latched onto my back and ripped large tufts of fur and feathers from both my back and feathers.

You dare attack me, human?! roared Mana, sending a cascade of black and purple fury through my mind. I gave you this life and this is how you repay me?! He attacked my mind as we plummeted to the ground. His anger and rage was obstructing my thoughts so much that I couldn’t think.

Mana released me just feet from the ground so that I was slammed into it instead of both of us. I landed on my back and was stunned. Mana stood over me while pressing a paw to my throat, slowly strangling me.

You are worthless scum, human, said Mana as he continued his pressure. Look into my eyes; I am the Messenger of Death. I bring death to the humans that do not choose the life of the Flammie. Remember my face, scum; it will be the last thing that you ever see.

I was struggling to draw breath. My head and the world were spinning from the lack of oxygen. I looked into Mana’s eyes and remembered the day that he first arrived with Seryn. I had given up hope of ever seeing him again and here he was, slowly killing me. This was it.

And then, from out of nowhere, a frozen ray of ice rocketed across the street and slammed into Mana, knocking him off me and delivering precious oxygen to my lungs. I looked to the side and saw that Mana’s body was turning to ice. I heard him scream out, NO!!! Flammies are immortal! I am the Messenger of Death! I cannot-!

But the ice had reached his mind, silencing him in a Flammie-sized block of ice. But that was not the end of it. A column of blue fire flew straight down the road from the same location, slamming into the frozen Mana, exploding it.

What happened next was like watching a bomb go off. Mana exploded into huge chunks of ice with a concussion explosion like a megaton bomb. It was more of a soundwave explosion than anything else, but that didn’t stop it from leveling a good square-mile of New York City. Amidst it all, I saw a shadowy aura disintegrate into a purple mist from the same place that Mana’s heart would be.

Time seemed to slow down as the buildings started to collapse around me. My first concern was for Seryn. I instinctively looked in the direction that the breath attacks had come from. Seryn was lying at the base of a pile of rubble. I dashed over to her.

She didn’t look too well. Three of her wings were broken and her left footpaw was at an odd angle. Despite the crumbling buildings, I tried to get her to wake up.

Seryn, get up! We’re gonna be crushed! Seryn?

But Seryn was not responding. Her mind was completely blank and without color. She wasn’t breathing, either.

Seryn, come on! Mana’s dead! We won! Let’s get out of here!

It was no use. Seryn was gone. Her injuries had conquered her.

Seryn, no! Come on! Wake up!

But I knew that it was no good. What’s worse, the falling rubble from the buildings was getting closer to my current position. I had to leave if I valued my life. I turned to take to the air but looked back at Seryn with regret.

I then made a decision that was both brave and stupid at the same time. I hoisted Seryn’s broken body in my arms with impressive strength. I realized that Flammies were like Phoenixes; they could carry immensely heavy loads with ease. With that, I took to the air and flew out of the crumbling square and back to my house in the suburbs.

Little did I know that I was being followed…

 

I laid Seryn’s body in my backyard. This was the place where she first taught me how to fly. It had only been a week since she and Mana arrived from South America but what she and I experienced would last a lifetime. I wept freely over her lifeless body. I wasn’t sure if Flammies could cry but it now seemed irrelevant. She was gone and there was a hole the size of New York City in my heart.

What now, Seryn? I said to her. Without you… where will I go? What will I do? I’m not a full-fledged Flammie yet; there’s so much that I don’t understand.

As my I cried, the moon crept from behind the clouds and shined on her body, which started to glow a bright white. I noticed this and stepped back. A ghostly figure appeared in front of me. It looked suspiciously like…

Seryn?

Hello, Alex, said the Flammie-like apparition. Her voice sounded far-off. You have done well.

What do you mean? I couldn’t do anything to save you.

You put yourself in danger to help a friend. I returned the favor by saving you from my brother. You even went the extra mile to get my body to safety.

I thought you deserved a decent burial.

You did well… but there is so much more to do.

Huh?

The humans that Mana infected need someone to teach them how to handle their inevitable transformations. The Flammie race is nearly extinct and they need someone to look up to.

I couldn’t sense Seryn’s mind, but I knew what she was talking about.

I can’t do that! I don’t even know all there is about being a Flammie!

You will. In time it will all be clear to you. Until then, you must protect the Flammie-Humans from harm. To do that, I have one last lesson to give you: how to return to your human form.

I looked up with expectation. This is what I had been waiting for since Seryn mentioned it back in my bedroom the day that I became a Flammie. Seryn merely looked at me with those baby-blue eyes and… I knew. It just… came to me. I pictured my form becoming human again. With a flash of white light, I transformed back to my old human form. And with that, I was ready to help out the Flammie-Humans. I was ready to do anything to help out the hybrids lead a normal life.

There is just one more thing I have to say before I go, Alex. Seryn looked at me one more time.

What is it?

Go to the crate that Mana and I arrived in. Inside is a gift that I gave before I passed away. You’ll know what to do with it.

I nodded and tried not to cry again. Seryn might be leaving this world, but we would always be connected by our hearts.

I’m glad that I was able to help you, Alex. Good-bye.

And with that, Seryn’s ghost turned and flew away towards the heavens. I watched as she vanished forever.

Thus did Seryn the Flammie finally leave this world.

 

I buried Seryn in my backyard. Flammies are quite handy when digging with their bear-like paws; it certainly reduced the strain on my back instead of using a shovel. When I went to dispose of the crate that she and Mana had been delivered in, I found a surprise.

Inside the crate and amidst the straw that had been packed in it was a large, circular nest. In the middle of the nest were three, foot-long, various-colored eggs! One was a creamy yellow, one was a ruby-red and the third one was a sapphire-blue color! I was over the moon when I realized that Seryn was a mother! The Flammie race was still alive! I went to go get a heater and blankets for the eggs since it would be better if they hatched in the nest. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to be a father!

While looking for a spare blanket, the doorbell rang. I went to go answer it and was surprised to see a person wearing a ski mask, heavy coat and black gloves.

“Who are you?” I asked the person.

“Are you Alex Schaefer?” The voice underneath the mask was clearly female.

“I am.”

“I was told that you could help me.”

I went with my gut on this one. “That depends. What can I help you with?”

“May I come in?”

I obliged. The woman walked into my living room and sat down.

“I was told in my dreams that you know something about this.”

She pulled off one of her heavy gloves to reveal a large, furry, scarlet paw with brown talons. I recognized it as a Flammie’s paw.

“I do. Why don’t you take off the rest of your outfit and I will explain.”

The woman took off her heavy clothes and I could see that she was becoming a Flammie just as I had. The only difference was that her transformation was spreading from her left side to her right. Her fur was crimson-red and her left side resembled a Flammie while her right side was still human. I could see a fang protruding from the roof of her mouth while her left ear was now elf-like and her left eye was emerald-green. Her chest was sporting the orange ridges like mine had and two feathery wings were sprouting from her shoulder and lower-back. I saw that the clothes that she had had on were ripped to shreds as they gave way to her changing form. Fur was sprouting all over her left side and her left foot was now a three-taloned paw. She hadn’t yet grown a tail, but I was sure that it would not be far behind.

The woman had tears in her eyes. “What’s happening to me?”

My baby-blue eyes glittered as I smiled. They were the only clue that I was a Flammie. “Something wonderful.”

“Huh?”

I showed her by morphing into a Flammie right before her eyes! She nearly fainted when she saw the similarities between her and me.

“W-what are you?!”

Relax, I told her in her mind. I can explain everything

 

The woman was only the first of dozens of humans that were being transformed into Flammies. Mana had infected almost 100 humans during his week-long rampage. I eventually opened a habitat for the hybrids that came to me outside New York City until they were able to control their new forms and reacquire their human forms.

Most of those people today deny that they are Flammies and try to put the whole thing behind them. However, they can’t completely ignore it because every night they must change back to their Flammie forms in order to absorb the moonlight. Being a Flammie has the side-effect of not being able to eat normal food like everyone else. Though they are afraid, I am confident that the spirit of Seryn helps them through their troubles.

The Flammie-Humans that do understand the new existence that they have been given fly by my side each night along with the three True Flammies, Ruby, Karra and Seryn, that were born into this world. They don’t think of their “condition” as a curse, but a gift. It is a gift that only a select few are allowed to have.

Although, every now and then, a new Flammie joins our ranks after getting suspiciously bitten by one of us. Do not worry; we mean no harm. In fact, if you ever met one of us, you’d be in for an exceptional treat.

We are the Flammie Clan, and we are offering you a life-changing experience. Will you join us?

End