Disclaimer: The usual. These characters don't belong to me. I'm just borrowing them and there's no profit involved - except the sheer joy of spending some time in this wonderful world of PREY.

These two short stories (of approximately 1 to 1/2 pages each) were created due to the Writing Challenge suggested by Margaret N. on PreyForIt. Enjoy!

Both stories are by Laury Carter.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Writing Challenge #1. This is between Tom and his mother, Jane.

"Tom, come here for a moment, please." Jane Daniels almost pleaded after knocking on her son's door several times with no response.

The door finally opened to reveal her eldest son, Tom, who had just turned eleven years old three days prior. She glanced down at her son as he responded, "Yes, Mother?"

"The Chameleon representatives will be here within the hour. Are you ready?"

He answered without reservation, "Yes, Mother. I've said my goodbyes to everyone and I've packed my belongings - two suitcases only - as per your instructions."

Jane swallowed several times before she reached out to gently caress her son's cheek with the palm of her hand. He didn't flinch from her touch but he didn't lean into it either.

Tom wondered about her actions because it wasn't like his mother to be so demonstrative. His blue-gray eyes looked into hers as he quietly asked, "Are you all right, Mother?"

She caressed his cheek once more and then swiftly removed her hand to hold it behind her back at she answered, "I'm fine, Tom." Then, softly she asked, "And you? Are you fine with it now? Have you come to terms with your placement in the Chameleon Program?"

Seemingly emotionless he responded, "Yes, ma'am. I've come to terms with it. I understand that I will never see you or my brother or my sisters again. I understand that I will have my memories cleansed until I have forgotten about my family or my childhood. Yes, I understand completely...."

Jane closed her eyes while Tom continued, "I will have my life taken away from me so I can serve my species, do my duty for my species, assassinate and kill for my species......"

Jane whispered, "Stop it. Please." When she finally opened her eyes, she found herself staring into those of a complete stranger. Cold ~ his eyes were absolutely, bone chillingly cold. Never had he gazed at her with such predatory eyes. Her insides turned to ice as she thought, "I've lost my Chosen son and he hasn't even left yet......"

Tom forced himself to calmness and once he did so, he softened his stare. After all, this was his mother ~ hard, demanding, often difficult but still his mother. He didn't want to leave things like this.

Tom needed only one thing and he asked it of her now, "Mother, just tell me the truth. Will you miss me?"

The End (see below for #2)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Writing Challenge #2. This is between Tom and Lewis.

"Tom, come here for a moment, please." Lewis called out as he noticed his student walking by his office.

Tom reluctantly stopped, turned and entered the office of his mentor. "Sir." he stated firmly, body at attention as he came to stand in front of Lewis's desk. He did not make eye contact with his mentor nor did he make small talk. He was late to report on this last mission and was unsure how to proceed.....

Lewis eyed his favorite student with concern but said nothing. Instead, he concentrated on the colors swirling about the young man. Yes, something was wrong.... but what?

He stood up and moved to stand next to Tom as he continued to study him. Tom remained at attention - eyes front and center - even though his mind tumbled in confusion about this last mission. How could he possibly explain any of it to his mentor?

Lewis continued to examine his student's signature carefully. Finally he asked, "Tom, did your mission go well?"

Tom hesitated and then answered quietly, "Yes, Sir. Everything went according to plan."

"Then why do I sense confusion, apprehension, and......regret?"

Tom continued to stare ahead of him, not allowing himself to look into his mentor's bright blue eyes.

Silence.

Finally, Lewis reached out and cupped Tom's chin with his thumb and forefinger until Tom was facing him. He continued his gentle hold upon the sixteen year old, until Tom's eyes met his own. It was only a moment before Tom dropped his gaze to stare at a blondish-white curl as it lay against his mentor's neck.

Lewis exhaled softly and dropped his hand away from his student. Tom immediately resumed a military stance as his eyes focused on the wall just beyond his teacher's shoulder. Lewis sighed, clasped his hands behind his back, and stood at military rest while he thought about this dilemma called Tom Daniels. Finally he commanded, "You will report your mission fully and completely to me in this office at 1400 this day. You will present your report in writing - as well as in person. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Sir." Tom immediately responded. Lewis inclined his head and stated with authority, "You are excused." When Tom turned to exit the office, however, he was halted by the gentle pressure of his mentor's hand upon his arm. Hesitantly he turned and met his mentor's unflinching gaze.

Lewis raised an eyebrow and calmly remarked, "You may include any thoughts or concerns about this mission in your report. That includes any emotional reactions or responses you may have encountered. Am I understood, Tom?"

Again, his response was immediate as he nearly shouted, "Understood, Sir."

Lewis moved back a few paces until he, once again, was seated behind his desk. When he glanced up at his student, he was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Tom and an expression of surprise and gratitude. Tom inclined his head as he bowed slightly at his mentor and said quietly, "Thank you, Sir. I look forward to your review of my report and I anticipate a stimulating exchange of ideas afterward."

Lewis leaned back in his chair and non-chalantly gestured for his student to leave. Then, under his breath he muttered, "Oh, I hope we have more than an exchange of ideas afterward.....Now THAT should be stimulating."

A small smile played about the corner of his mouth as he thought about the possibilities of such an exchange....

The End