Hi again! It's been a while, hasn't it?

I think I've introduced enough people to let the story regain it's focus. Now let's get moving!

Oroco was lying on his bed at the moment. While he tried to fall asleep, his mind was just too active at the moment to let that happen. More than once, his thoughts returned to Zacyr. Oroco grinned as he remembered how he had disarmed Zacyr the instant Zacyr had reached for his bow. Raking his bird-claws across Zacyr's back had just been a bonus.

Then Yena . . . Oroco could only gnash his teeth as he remembered what Yena had told Kshtsi. Why did Yena always call Oroco a chicken +Anima!? Sure Oroco didn't have wings like most bird +Anima, but there are other bird creatures that didn't have wings! Oroco was an emu +Anima! An EMU! Seriously, hadn't Yena ever seen an emu before?


Oroco immediately sat up and looked around his room. As a girl gracefully flew in through Oroco's window, Oroco got to his feet. Before he could ask Krej what was wrong, heard noise from the room next door. The rest of the inhabitants of the building must have been woken up by Krej. It wasn't long before the door opened and three people Oroco knew well entered the room, one by one. First up, with long white hair and the wings of an eagle, was Yev. Almost right behind Yev was the powerhouse of the group, Thraw the giant crimson rock lizard +Anima. As always, Thraw was in her +Anima form, and left quite a trail of scratch marks on the floor wherever she walked.

Behind those two was a girl with long white hair. Her slender body was heavily accented by the tight-fitting purple shirt and blue shorts that she always wore. Her name was Depri. As she normally did, Depri had the stance of someone who believed they were a very important person. Out of the group that lived in this building, she was the one that had the least changes to her +Anima form. The only change, in fact, was her nose and mouth changing to match those of a lion.

Depri glared at the girl that had flown in through the window, which all in all didn't surprise Oroco. "Krej."

Krej's eyes sparkled with sadistic glee as she faced Depri. While Krej couldn't smile, considering that her mouth and nose had formed into a flawless imitation of a parrot's beak, Oroco was pretty certain that Krej would be giving Depri a cruel smile about now.

Unlike quite a few bird +Anima, Krej's wings formed out of her upper back, allowing her to retain the use of her arms and hands while in her +Anima form. The only other thing that changed about her in her +Anima form was . . . well, her face. She was a . . . what had she called it? Come on, Oroco knew this! He had asked like a billion times already . . . a scarlet macaw! There we go, that was her form!

"Now how the hell did you know I was here, Depri? You're deaf, so I know you didn't hear me fly in."

Oroco cringed as Yev turned towards Depri. Because Depri was deaf, she would read the lips of whomever was speaking to learn what they were saying. This was something that Krej enjoyed teasing her about, although that very same fact rendered Depri incapable of understanding what Krej was saying, as Krej spoke through a parrot's beak, which Depri couldn't read. Rather than let Yev tell Depri what Krej had stated, Oroco quickly intervened. "Knock it off Krej, now's not the time. What's up?"

Just as she always did, Krej immediately went back to being serious. She gave a slight flutter of her wings before she spoke. "Oroco . . . Zacyr's not dead."

The news couldn't have been more unexpected. Oroco couldn't stop himself from blurting out a 'WHAT?' which was quickly repeated by Thraw. Krej tried to speak more, but Depri surprised Oroco when she spoke up, sounding quite irritated. "Is this about Zacyr again? It is, isn't it? That's the only thing that can get that large of a 'what' from you Oroco. Oh my GOD you three! That's all I've seen you three speak about today! Just give the poor kid some mercy!"

Oroco immediately gnashed his teeth towards Depri. "He's not a +Anima, he shouldn't even BE here!"

Depri simply rolled her eyes. While Oroco was fired up himself, Depri suddenly put her hands on her hips and spoke to him. "Either way, what of him? Unibas already informed us that Zacyr is pretty much dead. The fact that Unibas has just about sentenced Zacyr to death, by making him live in the same building as, as that MONSTER, really has me wondering whether we are doing the right thing by listening to Unibas."

Oroco could only turn his head the other way as Yev spoke to Depri. "She just said that Zacyr's not dead."

Depri surprised Oroco when she burst out laughing. "No WAY! Krej, are you on a hallucinogenic or something? You heard Unibas, Zacyr has pretty much been served to Lexa on a silver platter. Let me spell it out for you. A, C, Y, R, space, I, S, space, D, E, A, D, period. Not the bloody period that everyone here but Oroco has once a month, either."

Oroco immediately found himself blushing. Yes, he knew he was the only guy in the building. Depri loved to remind him of that one just about any way that she could. But that was part of the reason he was the leader of their gang, right? He wasn't sexist or anything though. In fact, he always thought he was the leader because it was a sort of pity-thing he got from the girls.

"Hey, don't take it that way Oroco."

Oroco flinched as he looked up at Depri, who gave him a kind smile. "You know that it's the male lion that reigns over the female lions, kind of like what you are to us."

Again Oroco blushed. He didn't mean it like that either. He liked to think that he was an alright leader that could keep his group safe. That was part of the problem, actually. He still couldn't believe that Unibas had given Oroco's job to Ryca. Ryca of all people! That dysfunctional little piece of shit! How dare he take Oroco's job?

Although . . . Oroco also had to admit, after that last event . . . he hadn't meant to alter Unibas' plan. He had thought it was a suicide run to attack from the front, so instead he had his group attack from the left. It . . . it hadn't occurred to him that the humans had expected his group to do so, he had no idea that route held an ambush!

He wanted to say that it was just one mistake, he wanted so badly to be given another chance . . . but Unibas had had enough of his actions. Sure, it wasn't the first time Oroco had altered one of Unibas' plans, but they had never backfired to that extent. Oroco wasn't even certain how he managed to survive that fight. No, calling it a fight would be giving it too much credit. His group had been slaughtered.

Still . . . no, that wasn't important now. He had made the mistake and he had paid the price. Now he had to focus on redeeming himself. He wanted to prove his own strategic skills were still sharp. And strategically, they couldn't offer any mercy to humans. The humans had already proven that they wouldn't spare +Anima if given the chance.

"He's spacing out again."

Oroco didn't hear Depri. He was too lost in his thoughts. As such, he didn't snap out of it until he felt an open palm hit the side of his face. While he was dazed after that, it didn't take him any time at all to figure out who the culprit was. Only two people in the room - Depri and Thraw - would hurt him physically, and Thraw never left her +Anima form, which considering it altered her form entirely didn't let her have palms to slap Oroco with. Depri on the other hand, while never leaving her +Anima form, still had human hands. As such, it was Depri.

Oroco eventually shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. He flinched when Krej spoke up, her voice holding a malice Oroco had never heard before. "DEPRI!"

As Oroco snapped back to attention, he was completely shocked to find Krej had left her +Anima form. The reasoning behind her going into her human form was clear when she again addressed Depri. It was so Krej herself could speak directly to Depri without a translator deliberately editing what she was going to say. "How DARE you hit Oroco! How DARE you!? I've HAD it with your 'let's make fun of him at every chance we get' attitude you deaf, flightless BITCH! Oroco is our group's LEADER! You will show him the respect he deserves or you will leave this group!"

Oroco could only stare at Krej in shock. He knew quite well that Krej and Depri had hated each other from the first day that they had met. Krej despised Depri's brash attitude towards life, and in return Depri hated Krej telling her off. When Krej had figured out that Depri was actually proud of the fact that Depri couldn't hear anything, she had quickly found something else that Depri was a bit sensitive about, which was the fact that Depri couldn't fly.

It was a common occurrence for one of them to try chewing out the other for just about anything they did. But Krej didn't normally take it this far. What was more, the almost kind smile Depri gave Krej in reply was certainly not a common act. "Alright."

Even Krej gave Depri a startled look. "What? That's it? No, no 'it's a good thing I can't hear you' or 'wake me up when Krej has gotten it out of her system'? That's . . . I didn't expect . . ."

Oroco most certainly agreed with Krej. The very thought that Depri could simply accept it without an argument was absurd. It just wasn't how Depri acted. And yet here she was, smiling and agreeing with Krej's terms? Depri's smile didn't lessen as she addressed Krej. "Nope. I'm tired of arguing with you all the time. You win."

Even Thraw looked completely shocked at Depri's words. Eventually Krej began speaking again, this time staying out of her +Anima form. "I . . . okay, then. Anyways"


With that final word, Depri turned around and calmly walked right over to the door. Oroco couldn't compose himself in time to say anything before Depri walked out of the room. A startled Yev called out for Depri and chased after her. While Oroco heard Yev speak to Depri in the hallway, his own thoughts were again in a confused and chaotic mess. Had Depri just left the group?

It seemed to take forever before Yev reappeared in the doorway with a nervous look on her face. It just took one look for Oroco to realize what Yev was about to say. He knew quite well that the only reason Yev was in the group was because Depri had been. It only made sense that if Depri chose to leave, Yev would follow suit. Of course, Yev wasn't quite as bold as Depri was. She fumbled with a few words for about ten seconds before Oroco sighed. "I understand, Yev."

Yev gave a sigh of relief before she again exited the room, closing the door behind her. Oroco then heard Yev sprint down the hallway, probably following Depri out of the building. Thraw, Krej, and Oroco were silent as Yev and Depri exited the building. Krej looked specifically shaken, and it was a while before Oroco even remembered that Krej had come here to tell them something. "So Krej, you mentioned that Zacyr is alive? Are you certain?"

With a bit more gentle prompting from Oroco, Krej finally regained her composure. "Y-yeah. I mean . . . do you remember what Unibas told us?"

Yes, Oroco remembered that. How could he not? It had been one of the many confusing events that had happened recently. He had not been prepared for Unibas to state that Zacyr had been forced to live in Lexa's building. While yes, Oroco wanted Zacyr dead . . . it just, this seemed so abrupt. Unibas had been telling Oroco off for his repeated arguments against Zacyr, and then Unibas suddenly puts Zacyr in a position to be killed and eaten?

Oroco had his own theories about Lexa, the only +Anima Oroco truly believed to be a monster. And of course, Oroco had heard the rumors. He had heard how Lexa was the only +Anima ever to willingly join the +Anima fight ring. The most disturbing part about that rumor was that, from a purely logic-based perspective, it was almost perfectly sound. Unlike other +Anima, Lexa would have had no problem with being forced to fight to the death every day. In fact, considering her preferred food source, it would have been beneficial for her.

What had been hell for several +Anima, including Oroco, would have been a god-send for someone like Lexa. She was unbeatable, and after every fight she would probably have consumed the corpse of her opponent. She was guaranteed a meal every day, she got exercise, and no one would try to hunt her down if she was in the +Anima fight ring. In reality, she had probably been safer and more content in the +Anima fight ring than she would have been just about anywhere else.

Of course though, there were flaws with that rumor. That had been nineteen years ago that Lexa had been brought into the +Anima fight ring. While it was impossible to know Lexa's age for certain, giving that she always hid her body underneath that cowl, her voice sounded like that of a relatively young woman. She couldn't have been older than seven when she had been captured. That was just too young to truly behave in such a manner. Even if Lexa had truly gone to the +Anima fight ring of her own free will, she wouldn't have realized the hell that awaited her there.

As such, Oroco truly believed that Lexa was not a monster before she was put in the fight ring. In fact, he was firmly convinced that Lexa had become a monster because of the fight ring. She was living proof of the long-term mental trauma that the +Anima fight ring had caused. She was without morals. Lexa had grown so disillusioned to the notion of life, that she began to see herself as a predator, and her opponents became the prey. While it wasn't a perfect theory, Oroco believed it was the main cause of Lexa's actions, in specific her cannibalism.

Still . . . no, focus. Oroco was getting lost in his thoughts again. What had they been talking about? Oh right, what Unibas had said. "Yes, I remember."

Krej gulped slightly before she spoke again. "Well, I felt like something was . . . you know, way out of place. Unibas isn't one to change his mind about something so quickly, and we all know he had his mind dead set on keeping Zacyr safe. I don't claim to understand why he did, but he did. Anyways, I decided to fly around Lexa's building a few times."

Both Oroco and Thraw looked at each other in shock. It was Thraw this time that spoke to Krej, her slithery voice sounding rather feral. Of course, that didn't bother Oroco or Krej. It was just how Thraw talked. "Krej, I misjudged you. That takes guts to fly around Lexa's territory."

Krej gave a slight smile before she suddenly flinched. As Oroco watched in amusement, Krej quickly went into her +Anima form, her mouth and nose again becoming a beak as her wings again erupted from her back. The act got Oroco to smile. Krej knew quite well that Oroco hated when a +Anima didn't use their +Anima form. Of course, that was quite ironic because Krej was one of few +Anima that Oroco would tolerate not being in their +Anima form. As Krej tried to apologize, Oroco simply reminded Krej where she was in her explanation.

Krej in return continued her explanation. "Okay, so I was flying around Lexa's territory and looking in the windows. With the first time around I looked in all the bottom windows, and didn't see much out of the ordinary . . . you know, at least for a building Lexa's in. But when I flew around her building the second time, I looked through the windows into the upper rooms. I saw Zacyr sleeping in a bed, completely unharmed! I let myself hang around that window for a bit, and I could even see him breathing! Oroco, Lexa didn't even hurt him!"

As Thraw gave a low growl, which was her favorite way of showing anger, Oroco frowned. Thraw almost immediately suggested an assassination on Zacyr, but Oroco quickly refused. "We don't know the situation at all. We all know Lexa likes to play with her food, and I'm sure as hell not about to try to lecture Lexa about table manners. While this is certainly an unexpected find, we-"

Thraw cut Oroco off with a snarl as she angrily slapped her tail against a wall. "Ryca! He's always had that bizarre immunity to Lexa's wrath, and he told everyone that that human was Ryca's best friend! We were had! Lexa's defending that human because of their friendship with Ryca!"

While Oroco felt a bolt of lightning travel through himself, he tried to calm down Thraw before she did any unintentional damage to his room. "Thraw, hold it. Just because Ryca has that strange immunity to Lexa doesn't mean Lexa's going to extend that protection to Ryca's friend. What is more, no matter what, we're not going to let ourselves get into a fight with Lexa. She'd put us all in a fate worse than death."

Oroco was startled when Thraw let out a short 'ha' before she addressed them. "Are you even looking at me? I don't care that Lexa is 'unbeatable', I am too! We should assassinate that damn human tonight!"

While Krej simply gulped, Oroco sighed. "No, Thraw. I've already made the mistake of not thinking an event through once, and I won't do so again. What we need to do is find out just how 'friendly' Lexa is to Zacyr. She might just be deliberately torturing him mentally. If he's completely terrified of her, then there's no need to end his torture so soon. If she is getting friendly with him, then we will need to find a way to separate her from Zacyr, or the other way around."

While Thraw clearly wasn't happy with the idea, she didn't complain about it. Krej on the other hand almost immediately turned towards the window and prepared to take off.

"Wait Krej!"

The words were ripped out of Oroco's mouth almost involuntarily, but he was extremely relieved when Krej turned and faced him with clear shock. That had been too close. "Let me explain how we're going to do this first Krej. First off, Zacyr's sleeping right now. The person spying on him wouldn't get any information at this time. Secondly, I don't want you to spy on her again Krej."

Oroco was shocked when Krej immediately blushed and twiddled her fingers. "But . . . I can do it if you want me to! I-I'm not scared of her, I could do it without her catching me!"

Krej's pretend confidence got Oroco to smile at her. He could always count on her to do . . . well, anything. She was in no way a coward, and she in fact liked to put her life on the line for Oroco. "I'm grateful that you want to Krej, I really am. But you've already went above and beyond the call of duty by spying on her building without me even telling you to. I'll do it this time. But I'm not telling you to take a break tomorrow. I want you to strike up a conversation with the group that Zacyr entered the town with, and I want you to prepare your other ability. That way, if an assassination is required, we can manipulate Zacyr into position. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"

Both Krej and Thraw nodded with malice in their eyes. Oroco grinned before he told Thraw that she was to help hunt animals tomorrow. While Thraw grumbled about her orders, mainly because Oroco had given that same order to her for the last four days, she didn't openly rebel against it. With that Oroco dismissed the two of them.

As both Thraw and Krej exited Oroco's room, Oroco sighed as he undressed for bed. So Zacyr was still alive . . . Oroco would have to observe both Lexa and Zacyr from a distance tomorrow. Oroco did not want Lexa catching him doing something she didn't want him to be doing, and Zacyr probably remembered how Oroco had ripped his back open, so he wouldn't want to talk to Oroco. Still, Oroco could only grin. Tomorrow was going to be interesting.

So, back on track now.

By the way, I am going to work on rewriting the beginning of the story. The main problem I have is that, when I start rewriting a story, I normally forget to stop.

Right now the current plan (going into effect RIGHT after I upload this chapter) is that I'm going to rewrite the first two chapters, then write the next chapter of the story, then rewrite chapters three and four, then make the next chapter of the story, and . . . well, you get the idea.

This way, even if I go a little overboard with the rewriting, the story WILL keep on moving. I'm planning on only rewriting the first ten chapters, but I know myself well enough to say that I may not stop . . . okay, probably won't stop at that. Oh, and before I forget: I intend to make it so that important parts of the story will not change during the rewrite. Little, if any, new content will be added, although minor events may play out with slight differences. Instead I will work on really expanding on the content already there, just being more descriptive during certain events.

Oh, and by the way jel2658, that's not true. There's only . . . uh, hold on (Uses the find option on microsoft office to find total number of times I've used the word chuckle, or variations of the word chuckle, in this story) 167 times I've used the word ch

O_O Oh. I see what you mean. I'll see what I can do to get that number down.


Yeah, I've had one of those days before where my brain just refuses to wake up. Anyways, I've worked on the beginning some more in an attempt to help people remember Oroco.