This night was, as usual, dark and cold, the moon rays slightly shining over the trees' branches and dead leaves about to fall. Everything was silent and still in this grey world, a peace immensly contrasting with the brutal exposition of life during the day.
A form was hiding in the shadows, holding upside down to a branch. Eyes were glistening, thanks to the moon's light, slowly following a small moth pathetically flying in this forest environment. Instinct got over the creature, speading its wing and getting off its roost in a silent, but rapid, flight to its prey.
The bug had no time to react that a pair of fangs fell upon it, killing it fast.
It was thanks to a bat, a Silverwing to precise, that such a fate was bestowed on that insect.
Stella Silverwing got to another roost, swallowing her catch with a smile. Soon the great migration would begin and now was the best time to feast on various preys. She had done the trip once, knowing lots of obstacles would get in the colony's way; she knew she had to be stronger this time. Nobody would help her, same as last year.
She was the strange one, she was the bringer of bad luck. She was all alone.
An orphan since birth, her mother died from all the effort she gave to bring her child to life, and her father was missing before she was even born. Stella had to learn most of the things by herself, observing others and seeking counsel to Frieda, the only elder who did care for her.
Most thought she was unpredictable as she had already attacked some of her colony (in mere defense), but the young bat was, in truth, very shy.
As she was observing the horizon, in search of another snack, small laughters came behind her, capting her attention. She turned around, discovering the authors to be none other than Chinook and his habitual flock of friends.
"Hey look over there, here's the freak!" said one of them.
Stella frowned, flying off once again. She knew they were following her as they kept shouting things to her.
Those bats were all her age but still, they acted like silly pups who had nothing better to do than harrassing others.
"Stella, please, wait!" echoed Chinook's voice.
The young female sighed, landing once more to a tree, waiting for the others to rejoin her.
Sure, she could have just brush the demand away and keep flying, but the bat was doomed, like most of the females her age, to be attracted to that annoying male. He was good looking, she couldn't object that, but his head was as hollow as a tree hole.
"Ready for the great migration to start once again?" he began, landing next to Stella.
She was confused by his concern.
"… Yeah, I guess so. I've been trying to stock up as many bugs I can so I can have enough strength for the trip. … I see you're not doing the same, Chinook. You shouldn't be trusting those muscles of yours alone, like last year."
The young male smiled.
"And that's why I came to see you. You're hunting in my territory, you're taking all my food."
"What are you talkin abou-"
"I learned from last year, Stella," he continued. "Finally, the brain won over the brawn and I know I have to eat as many bugs as possible so I can become stronger and probably have a chance to get a mate this year."
"Well that won't be hard," whispered the female under her breath, rolling her eyes.
"And that's why I need you to stay put before you steal all our food, bad luck bringer."
At his words, two other bats came to Stella, fastly tying her in small vines found around. Afraid, the female tried to get away from them, but more came, weakening her in front of much strength in number.
"Chinook, what's this all about?" snapped Stella. "And what's that about 'your' territory? That's bullshit and you know it!"
"Now, now, don't get too angry about it. Relax and enjoy the view, sweetheart. We're coming back for you in an hour or two."
Suddenly loud cracking noises could be heard, making all the bats jump in fear. Their ears turned to all sides, trying to pinpoint the exact location of the horrible sound. Then a bright ray of light shone upon them, terrifing the group.
"Humans!" screamed one of the bats. "Fly away!"
"Wait!" pleaded Stella.
But all the others unfolded their wings, getting away. One of them slapped the female by accident, making her fall off her roost. Unable to open her wings due to the vines, she landed hard on the forest's ground, soon attracting the humans to her.
Stella knew what was coming next, her breath accelerating, her heart beating fast. A hand got a hold of her, lifting her up. A light was soon blinding her.
She knew it was the end.
"Chinook!" she screamed.
But no one came to her.
The next events came so fast. The young Silverwing was held up in a cage, transported into a building with white walls and bright lights. She couldn't see much and couldn't hear much too, due to her immense fear.
A human hand suddenly got a hold of her, making her scream. She was soon lying on a cold metal table, her wings forcefully spread. … Such strength.
Another human came, holding something. A tool approached the bat's left wing and immense pain suddenly spread to her whole body.
Stella screamed once again, rapidly looking at her wing. A strange copper ring was now taking place around her wrist.
She was soon put back into the cage, getting transported to a new room. When a door was opened, the Silverwing's eyes fell upon a strange scenery.
A forest, like the one she lived in, but the only exception being that it was already summer in this one….
The hand took her once again, soon freeing her to a branch. Instead the female flew away, getting as far as she could from the horrible creature and hide in the leaves. Her left wing hurt her horribly, but she could still fly for the sake of survival.
The humans went away, closing the door and soon silence invaded the place.
Stella tried to regain her focus, still shaken by the events. She looked at her horrible band, soon trying to get it off her.
She had seen bands before; Frieda had one. The only difference for now was the color. As Stella's one was of a disgusting bronze-gold color, the elder's one was of a bright silver, like the moon.
Where was she? What did the humans wanted with her? … Why didn't Chinook came to her help? She was still part of the colony, as far as she knew.
Suddenly murmurs came beside Stella.
"A new one has come."
Bats soon landed around her. They all had the same band as her.
None of them was a Silverwing.
"Welcome, newcomer," greeted a male, approaching Stella.
The female was startled for some seconds, but didn't answer.
"No need to be afraid," reassured the other. "My name is Miko Greywing, I am the leader of this colony."
She looked around, seeing all the other's faces, smiling at her.
Stella gulped: "What is this place?"
Many whispers rose.
"This place, dear one, is paradise," announced Miko with pride. "This place is blessed by Nocturna herself!"
Stella was surprised by that answer. This nightmarish hole; a paradise? She had trouble believing that.
Then the young bat noticed a strange wall, transparent like winter ice. Two humans were behind it, observing the bats while scribbling things on paper.
"Tell me, Miko, … why are there humans behind this strange wall?"
"Oh don't mind them," began the male. "They are our allies. They simply are part of Nocturna's promise. … Our new promise."
"New promise?" questionned the Silverwing.
"Yes, dear, our goddess changed her plans! She uses the humans to gather bats from every species in this very room. Thanks to our allies' great force, they will kill every creatures remaining on this earth and they will give us the sun as a great reward to the trust we put onto them."
Stella remained silent, baffled by this ridiculous explanation.
"Why kill the others? Why can't they get the chance to see the sun too?" she asked.
"Because they weren't chosen," hissed Miko. "They're all good for nothing as Nocturna didn't choose them. … Consider yourself lucky, Silverwing, as you are the chosen one of your colony."
It has been several weeks since the humans took him to this damned place. Everything was fake and reeked of human smell.
He still couldn't believe it.
How could he, Goth, a powerful Vampyrum Spectrum, be held captive by this stupid race? He cursed himself for not being vigilant enough and mostly for being near Throbb, his prison mate, at the time the humans got them.
That weakling…. Goth did good by pushing him far away in the room and making most of the place his territory. He was so useless and pathetic.
But the Vampyrum's hate was mostly tilted towards the humans. They always put blinding lights in his eyes, mesured his precious wings and did many sufferable things. … May Zotz curse them.
Until one day he saw it. The hole.
It was an opening to the ventilation's tunnels, probably a way to the outside world. He would just need to get the hole a bit larger.
Yes, he could do it! It was his exit, his only chance to be free again.
"You," he snapped to Throbb. "Do you want to get out of here?"
"Y-yes…," answered the other in a trembling tone.
Goth smiled mischievously.
"Help me and soon you'll be free!"
There was nothing to do. This place was for nothing and she knew it.
The humans behind the wall kept taking notes behind the strange wall, always observing the bats.
No … they had nothing to do with Nocturna's promise. There was no promise even!
Everything about this was idiotic, even the bats here were idiots. Innocents … but still easily fooled, especially by Miko.
She couldn't stay here. She had to get away and be free again!
On one night she saw it, a small hole near the ceiling, at the ventilation shaft. The small gate blocking it had an opening, forced perhaps. It was large enough for her to get through it.
She was about to make an attempt when a voice behind her stopped her movement: "What are you doing?"
It was Miko, perched on a branch, observing the Silverwing with a stern look.
"You entered this paradise and yet you already want to get out of it?"
"You guessed right," answered the female.
"If you get in there, you'll never get out of it. One of us tried and never came back. He died."
Ha, was freed you mean, thought Stella.
"I will take the risk," she added. "Death doesn't scare me and I don't think we have the same definition of paradise. For me it isn't a closed space in which we are nothing more but little experiments for the humans' pleasure. Paradise is outside, where real things happen."
"… You wouldn't dare to break Nocturna's promise," growled the other.
"It may seems so."
Stella had enough time to get to the other side of the grid before Miko tried to grab her. He snarled, trying to get a hold of her by extending his wing through the hole, which wasn't large enough for him.
"Come back here, you little fool!" he roared.
"Never!" Stella answered in a mocking tone, rapidly making her way through the tunnel with a laugh, excited by her small victory.
She could hear Miko swearing, but the sound soon faded out as she was getting deeper on her way to freedom.
Everything was dark. Stella had difficulty to see farther than the end of her muzzle … well … if she could even see it! The young bat declenched her sonar, but no sound came back to her, which was a terrible sign.
She then felt a small current on her right. It had to be wind! It had to be her freedom!
The Silverwing entered the new tunnel, which was in an aprupt upward inclination. She began ascending it, but the farther she went, the more the tunnel seemed to squeeze around her tiny frame. She continued crawling, finally seeing the end of her misery right before her. She got her head out, gasping for precious air, but her sight fell on another tunnel, to her great disappointment.
She tried to get on this new track when she realized something was horribly wrong; she was stuck. She couldn't remove her head or get her body through the small opening. She was unable to move.
The young bat wriggled, trying to escape her miserable fate. She couldn't end like this. At least, not now!
Then she heard something approaching and finally saw what it was when it got out of a turn.
It was a bat! But this one seemed insanely huge to the female's eyes.
Stella heard a voice echo behind the large bat, powerful and provocative: "Are you going to move, for Zotz's sake?!"
"It's not that easy, you know!" answered the bat Stella had in sight.
It was her unique chance.
"Uhm … sorry," she began, trying to get the other's attention.
The other bat looked at her, surprised.
"Could you … help me get out of here?"
"MOVE!" barked the voice behind.
The large one gasped, looking afraid. He rapidly muttered a "sorry" to the Silverwing before accelerating his pace towards the exit.
"No, wait!" she implored.
But soon the other presence appeared and she saw another bat, almost as big as the other one. This one seemed stronger and more impressive, his gaze filled with rage.
Their eyes met, the giant growling. Stella had difficulty letting out her words, due to terror:
"H-help me, please?"
Without a word, the other grabbed her, yanking her out of her whole with immense strength, like she weighed nothing. He plunged his gaze in hers, his claws slowly digging into the Silverwing's skin.
"You better move now," he commanded with a cruel tone.
Stella gasped with fear. Yes, she would move … move like it was the only thing she knew how to do in her miserable life.