Here's installment three. My favorite so far. Enjoy. (:

I ran towards the open window, on the 57th floor. I zoomed through the open space and plummeted down, arms outstretched. I brought my beast to the surface and she eagerly slipped out, turning my fall into a dive. Slowly extending my wings I rocketed outwards and upwards. I soared between buildings turning almost on a dime. It felt great, as if all my worries were non-existent while I was in the sky.

I glided over the University and felt a presence above me. My beast shrieked, turning sharply to the right, twisting in an evasive maneuver. I looked up and saw a great Bald Eagle. It settled next to me, falling into Flight pattern. I relaxed but my beast shifted nervously. The Eagle made a Human motion with its head towards the University. I nodded, and followed the larger bird as it turned, and descended into a courtyard. I scouted before landing, making sure nobody was around before landing.

John Mallory was already un-shifted and waiting by the time I landed. He was standing with his hands behind his back, long lab-coat billowing out behind him, as the wind started to pick up. I shifted, and prepared myself for a lecture. John Mallory was a brilliant scientist, before being blacklisted by his experiments with Avian Influenza. Yep, that's right. Bird Flu. You must be thinking, Hey… Bird flu… You mean…? Congratulations. You figured it out. Bully for you. John Mallory is the scientist in question I was referring to, a few pages back. He's the one responsible for me and the other Ava'rin. He was trying to do a good thing, so I can't really be mad at him… But you know the old saying; 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.'

"Good afternoon, John."

"Are you okay? Did James see the note? Does he still not know? Do you have any idea who did it? Are you being followed? Has anyone else been targeted? Is -" I cut him off before he could ask another question.

"Jesus, John. You're going to give me a headache. I'm fine. James does not, will not, and cannot know. I got to the note before him. As far as I know, nobody else has gotten a note. And it may not even be Ava'rin related, for all we know. So please, spare me the fatherly lecture. It's the last thing I need right now." I took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly.

"Okay." He raised his hands in a submissive manner. "I'll talk to the other Ava'rin, and see if they've gotten anything. Maybe we can spare a few Flight members so we can have eyes on you at all times." I sighed, and pinched the bridge of my nose. Yep, a headache was forming.

"John I appreciate the thought I really do but, I don't need a security detail."

"And what if you just happen to get shot in the chest and you're up walking around the next day? How'll you explain that? There goes your career."

I shook my head. "I'm running for ADA. Danger is part of the job description." I looked down at my watch. 5:30. My shoulder sagged; James would be on his way home by now. Time really does fly when you're flying. (No pun intended.) "I have to go. I'll see you at the meeting, John." I turned and started sprinting before John could continue. I leaped into the air at a full sprint and shifted. Getting a running start does help, but it's not mandatory. I like to think of it as a friendly boost and it looks cool.

I flapped hard and rose quickly. I headed straight for my house, and flew fast; I had to beat James home, or my secret was blown. Although, I've yet to decide if telling James would be beneficial at all. We haven't really breached the subject, so maybe I will tonight at dinner. I could picture it, now: 'Hey, honey do you remember that vaccine I got a few months ago? Well, it gave me super powers. I can now turn into a bird.' Can you say 'one-way-ticket-to-the-Looney-bin'?

I coasted over the freeway, that's where the best thermals are, and saw James' car stuck in traffic. I breathed an inward sigh of relief and circled above him. I could see him sitting in the car singing loudly, beating the steering wheel rhythmically. He was undoubtedly listening to his worn-out copy of (insert band here).

I circled one more time, then set my course for home. I knew he would be at least another hour, so I didn't rush. Rarely did I ever have time to just fly, between working a 70+ hour work week and still making time for James. I had forgotten how therapeutic it was.

Landing was always the hardest part for me; my beast and I would both rather fly far away, just leave all my troubles behind. I walked through my backyard, which needed to be cut, again. Ah, yard work, how I despise thee so. I stopped in my tracks. In my haste, I had left the back sliding door open. I stepped closer, and the smell of cat hit me like a brick wall.

My beast was near the surface, ready to bust through my skin and flee at any sign of danger. I fought to calm her down, as I crossed the threshold. I sniffed the air, and the musk of cat was thick here. It seemed like a big cat, but I've never encountered a were-cat before, so I couldn't be sure. It could always be the neighbor's cat; I tried to reassure myself, and the skittish bird within me. A deep growl cut through that false sense of hope, and I knew I wasn't Molly.

"If you run, I will shoot." The deep bass reverberated throughout the living room. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a tall, broad shadow in the dark house. I could see the glint of a gun, nose pointed at me.

"Who are you?"

"My name is not of importance."

"What do you want?"

"I'm here to deliver a message."

I turned and flipped on the light. On the other end of the gun, was a tall, tan man. He was wearing a dark shirt, which was hugging his chest a little too tightly. His pants were plain black jeans. He had sandy brown hair, cropped down to military standards. I was willing to bet he was more of a bodyguard than a message bearer. After seriously debating telling him he needed to shop elsewhere besides Baby Gap, which was probably for the best. I stepped back a little, leaning against the back of the couch.

"Let me guess. You're here to tell me I'm about to get killed. Would you at least give me the decency of telling me whom it was that put the hit out on me?"

He looked almost shocked. Almost. His grip tightened on the gun. He opened his mouth to retort, but I leaped at him, closing the distance, before he could blink. I kicked my leg up, in mid-leap, and kicked the gun out of his hand. It tumbled into the dark kitchen, lost. The man punched me square in the chest, and I was sent tumbling back over the couch. A bright flash of light passed behind my eyes, as I landed hard on my head. Dazed, I tried to stand, but my legs weren't responding. A large hand clutched my throat, and hoisted me up to his face. His dark amber eyes glowed, with a fiery rage. Grasping his hand, I was trying to pry his hands off of my throat, instead, he squeezed tighter. Gasping for breath, I rammed my head into his, and heard a resounding crack. Blood gushed out of his nose, and he loosened his grip on my neck.

Taking the only chance I could before I ran out of breathe, I kicked hard at his knee with the side of my toe, like I used to do when I played little league soccer. It popped out of place, and he cried out. I could feel his nails lengthening into claws, as they began to dig into my neck. The musky smell of cat grew stronger, and I knew he was shifting, at least partially. Trying to beat him to it, I shifted my hands into talons. Quickly, I swiped my hand-talons across his throat, and began furiously clawing his throat to shreds. He tried roaring, but it came out as an enraged gurgle. I was sent tumbling through the air as he flung me across the room, crashing into the hall table smashing it to pieces. Looking up I shifted my eyes, and my vision become exponentially better.

I could see the pearl white glint of spinal bones, through his claws. He was making a gasping motion, as he struggled to breathe. The glint was replaced by golden skin, as he started healing the wound. At this rate, he would be healed in about 30 more seconds, so I acted fast.

I located the gun and sprinted for it. I dove for it, snatching it up then rolled into a crouched position. I aimed it, sighting down my arm. He was looking at me, with those glowing rage filled eyes. I pulled the trigger, and his head snapped backwards. I recovered from the recoil and fired two more times; once in his chest and once again in the head. His body jerked and finally crumpled into a man-lion hybrid heap.

I fumbled through my pocked with my talons and ripped a hole in my pants. Cursing, I shifted my hands back into hands and pulled out my cell phone. I dialed Kris' number and waited for him to pick up.

"Vicky, are you okay?" How good of a detective is he?

"No. Get over here. Now. I just got attacked by a were-lion. And bring a Cleaner." I paused, walking over to the furry body. I fired again into the skull. "Make that two Cleaners."

"Okay. Is James okay?" Shit, I had forgotten about James.

"He's still not home. He should still be on I-10. Delay him."

"I'm on my way."

The phone went dead. I looked at the still furry body. I shot him again in the head. Okay, I know what you're thinking. Jesus, Victoria! Isn't that overkill? No. It's not. See, another thing you need to know about were-animals: once they're dead, they revert back to their human form. And since this one hadn't yet, it meant he wasn't dead. I pointed the muzzle to his frontal lobe and pulled the trigger again, but heard an empty click. I was out of bullets. Shit.

Today was clearly NOT my day.