Chapter 01

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The Canines, Bucks, and Beaks. Those were the three tribes of the wild lands. Once evenly divided by nature's wealth.

The Canines scoured The Land and Dirt. They were too large to stretch beyond their wake.

The Bucks, took The Trees, they climbed so far yet they could not grasp the endless heavens.

Finally, The Beaks soared through The Celestial Skies, the sun and moon were their domain. The stars in which they fed and the oceans of cloud and rain which they drank.

The Canines and Bucks grew jealous of such blessings, and when the Angels fell, all knew it was the hour of taking. Lo, the three factions fought in an eternal war, and The Beak hid in The Celestial Skies while The Bucks took what was below. In the end, The Canines retreated to the caves where no light can reach.

-/-

Calm starry skies flickered in the vacuum of oblivion, shuddering before misgivings that stirred in their sister constellations.

Mother's Nest eclipsed the sun as its turbines croaked through with an eagle's thrust.

Pat gazed into the foggy glass to empty space. For a moment, he was not afraid. He gasped for hope towards the dark unknown; however, this moment of solitude was interrupted.

"Pat," Grey tapped the boy's shoulder, "It's time to meet the big guy."

Grey was one within the infinite infantry of Pigeons. So many battles have decorated his skin as much as they did his uniform. However, he was just a soldier that fought till the last feather.

Walking through the labyrinth hallways, past subsection after subsection of sliding gates and Chirp Authorisers, Pat could see the looks of disdain that were sniped at him.

"Look where your beak is son." Grey shoved Pat's owling head forward.

The endless walk came to a halt before a grand gate. Two ginormous Eagle Elite guarded the entrance.

"Heh. Look at what we got, Tal. A Pij with his latest attempt to climb the ranks", mocked an Eagle.

"Let him in, Lon. We will drag him out begging in a minute like we always do."

Sliding open, the Command Room was dark as monitors and screens fed the twilight with damp light.

"Why is it so dark-"

"Hush," silenced Grey

"Come in soldier," ordered a voice. The room felt empty. A sense of privacy echoed in unseen corners. High on the Captain's seat sparked the general's crimson bionic eye.

"Identify yourself, soldier."

"Private Grey Pecks, Sir. ID 1247466. Pidgeon infantry. 355th clone hatch. Sir."

"State your purpose of appointment," demanded the general.

A spotlight struck before Pat. He feared its glow slice across his nostril. He felt anxious. It was only a couple of days he was in a completely different place.

Grey nodded his permission to step in as Pat bid the darkness a last farewell, before slowly bathing in the warm light.

It blinded him, and Pat could not see any more than when he was in total darkness. Grey, on the other hand, noticed the General's widening artificial iris.

"It can't be..." the General breathed.

Adjusting to the brightness, Pat saw a ghastly figure shift down to his direction. It was the General slowly peeking from the void to his world. His face peered into the little boy.

Pat was struck silent, for all he saw was the General's maimed cyborg graft welded into half his scorched face. His duck beak was scarred like dried earth after centuries of drought.

"You are a special one aren't you, boy."

"Sir-"

"The boy only speaks soldier," This time the General silenced. Pat never felt so downsized in his life.

"I am General Daft. What's your name, boy? If you have one."

"Pah-Pat sir. My name is Pat."

"You seem to be as young as I was when I joined the force. Back when I thought both my eyes would make it with me. Heh heh."

Pat felt the humor inorganic while the General's examining eyes scanned him from top to bottom. One of them literally did. He was up to something, and it was not pleasant.

"You seem to look like a rodent yet...the medics stated features that stated otherwise. What do you call yourselves hmm? "

"Bats, sir."

"Ah hah. Bats."

Daft creepily caressed Pat's exposed nostril and felt the surface of his unconventional complexion. He aggressively pinched his pointy ears, but Pat held himself from shoving his hand off.

"Show me what I heard you could do," Daft softly ordered.

Pat was hesitant, despite it being second nature, he felt doing it was unnatural.

"Pat-" Grey desperately whispered.

Slowly, with bashful eyes, Pat spread his leather wings apart.

Daft's red glow sparked as he released a breath of awe.

"He looks like a rodent, but he flies like us birds."

He took a quick orbit around Pat within the spotlight. He felt his piercing, odd, scrutinizing eyes.

"You, my boy will change the tide of this war against the damn rodents in many inconceivable ways," Daft raised his chest with confidence.

"Take him to the medical ward, Grey. Have the professionals give him a good look. Today the undying Phoenix has blessed you, Soldier. Prepare to receive your honors first thing tomorrow! You are dismissed!"

Grey grabbed Pat's shoulders tight as they slowly passed by the Eagle Guards that looked at them with shock. Despite years of battle and bloodshed, Grey's conscience began to shiver. Doubt gleaned in his chest, and he felt nothing but regret despite his superiors appraisal. Wasn't this all he wanted? All the sacrifices, choices, and all the losses were for the greater cause. Why this feeling now? Grey turned his eye on Pat and noticed the boys anxious glance that deviated when their sights locked.

The two walked to the darkest corner of Mother's Nest, there lied the Medical ward. It was more of an experimental room to dissect and dismember captured enemy rodents than do any help. Grey knew, but he never had anything against the idea... until now.

 until now

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