Three thousand and fifty years ago, an empire of equine anthropomorphs (human-like equines) flourished. They were called the Delphin. The race included of those with horns, those with wings, those with none, and those with both. They came into power almost two thousand years prior to their fall with little struggle. The Delphin shared their Empire with a race of wolf humainoid, the Lupino, a feline race known as the Feln, and other, less populous races. This world was also home to humans and animals of the non-anthropomorphic kind.
For a thousand years, the Delphin Empire charged into the future, unaware (or at least uncaring) of the danger lurking ahead. Groups of slavers started to appear, and began picking off Delphin and other morphics of the lower classes. The groups were comprised of humans and morphics alike; even some Delphin turned on their own kind. No species was safe from them, except those in the upper classes.
Two thousand and twenty years before the dawn of the modern age, the Empire finally enacted antislavery laws. Many slaves were freed, but the practice still continued underground. Despite the Empire’s efforts, the slavers gained more and more power. The trade was very lucrative, yet they hungered for more, especially those of rare stock. It would not be long before they moved up the class ladder.
Then nearly two thousand years ago, the Heiress to the Delphin Empire was accidentally killed by an overly ambitious slaver. The slavers gained even greater power and more drive to take the upper classes. The Empire fell, unable to sustain itself after the massive losses in the government.
As the years passed, more slavers emerged from the underground. With no Empire to enforce the laws, there was no need to hide any further. The longer a slaver could live, the more power they could ultimately attain. The long-lived morphs were the most powerful, as they could shift their form to those who were taken most seriously in the trade: humans.
Within two decades of the Empire’s fall, one family of Lupino established itself and took lead of the country. Disputably so, but they did rule. A shaky peace soon followed, broken only occasionally by attempts on the lives of those in of the family.
Twenty-two years ago, the youngest of the two direct descendants of the Lupino in command welcomed a son to his family, followed two years later by another son. Peace was the rule of the day for the four following years, until the descendant and his mate were killed, orphaning the young brothers. The boys were sent to live with their uncle, the Lupino that was in command.
The eight following years saw an increased number of battles for power. Then five years ago, the number of skirmishes fell. The older of the brothers, who was commander of his uncle’s army, had a secret weapon: a very special Delphin slave. She had been trained to not only gather information on a target, but to dispose of any loose ends left from her work.
It is here the story really begins, when this Delphin’s life is almost ended as her identity is discovered by her prey.
One life can only live in the shadows so long. And a mask must be removed before lies become truth. But what happens when the lights come on and the show is over? When the time comes to remove the mask? The shock of a hidden past can be dangerous.
At times, it can even be deadly.
A black limousine screeched to a halt in front of a small crowd. A man with long, blue-white hair ran to the vehicle before it completely stopped and nearly tore the door off trying to get in. Two human figures lie on the floor of the vehicle: an almost unclothed man and a fully unclothed female. The man had a gaping slit in his throat and was, for all intents and purposes, dead. The female had a long gash on her neck and was in somewhat better condition than the man, though not by much. She was barely breathing. The long haired man pulled off his coat and wrapped it around her body, cradling her in his arms and holding one hand on her neck while he awaited the paramedics.
Two hours later, the man nervously paced in a hospital waiting room. He would never forgive himself if she did not survive. He finally sat down to wait. A doctor walked into the waiting room, a clipboard in her hand, but he didn’t notice her until she spoke to him.
He shot straight up at the sound of his name. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Good. Ms. Alyandra will be fine. She lost a lot of blood, but resting for a few days will help her recover. Her species type doesn’t take well to transfusions. She was very lucky the blade didn’t do major damage. We’ll prescribe some medication for you to take home to help keep the scarring down.”
Janus nodded. “Is she resting somewhat peacefully now?”
The doctor echoed his nod. “She’s resting in room four fifty-nine. You may visit, but please try not to disturb her too much.”
“Thank you, Doctor. You have no clue what Snowhawk means to me.”
Five days passed before she was allowed to leave the hospital. Janus helped her into the small sports car he used as his personal vehicle. He sighed quietly as he closed the door. She’d hardly looked at him the past few days, let alone spoken to him. He walked around the vehicle, sank into the driver’s seat, then started the car and drove off.
She curled up as best she could several miles down the road, burying her face in her knees. “Snow…” he quietly began. She flinched and leaned away. He sighed and pulled the car to the side of the road. “You can’t stay quiet forever, dear. Tell me, what’s wrong?” She simply stared out the window. After several minutes, Janus pulled back onto the road and continued to his estate. After reaching home, Snowhawk quickly ran from the car to her room.
“I failed,” her quiet voice answered as Janus entered the room several moments later.
He knew this was coming. He had made her go on this mission, despite what his instincts told him. “You did nothing of the sort.”
“I didn’t get any information to you.”
“Yes, you did, Snowhawk.”
“What?” she asked, looking at him. “But, how? He found me out.”
“We found out who the leak is. Or was.”
“But, how?!” she reiterated, growing more stressed.
He looked down, sighing. “We bugged the passenger compartment.”
“Why did– Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Why do I need to explain myself to a mere slave?” As soon as the words left his mouth, he wished he hadn’t said them, or had at least phrased them differently. The pained look of betrayal burned itself into his mind, even though he only saw it for a moment.
“Because you promised you’d always be honest with me,” She quickly looked away, trying to hide the tears forming in her eyes, then ran even faster from the room.
He tracked her down easily enough. She was standing alone in the estate’s garden, her back to any that might pass by her. Janus walked to her, stopping a couple feet behind her.
“Is that all I really am? A lure for your games? I have destroyed more lives than I care to remember. All for you.” Janus offered no answer. “Of course,” she said bitterly, turning around and looking up at him. “You don’t have to explain yourself to a mere slave.”
She glared at him, then quickly lunged at him and pushed him against the hedge behind him. “Don’t you dare call me that unless you fucking mean it.”
Janus was stunned. Not at her language, as his bird didn’t have the cleanest of vocabularies, but only once before had she sounded so hurt, so angry. “Snowhawk– ”
She snorted at him, as he pulled her hands from his shoulders. “You promised that you’d be done with all these missions. Then this last one came up. And you had to accept it because, God knows, we don’t want to anger your uncle. Only after accepting it do you find out that I would have to be sent on it before I was recovered from that fiasco that was my last mission. You know, Janus, I’m sure you’re smart enough to think of a better way to get rid of me.”
“What!? I never wanted to get rid of you.”
“I bet,” she snorted, folding her ears back.
“I didn’t want to send you on this. I knew it wouldn’t end well. But I couldn’t have just passed him up on this. I would have nothing without him, and that includes you.”
Snowhawk looked at him for a moment, then looked away. “Shouldn’t be this easy for me…” she whispered, then walked to the door, opened it, and ran off.
Janus causally followed her. He was almost certain of where she was going. He figured it would be her favorite spot on the estate’s grounds: a small pond in the woods on the back of the property. However, he didn’t find her there. Nor was she at any of the other places she enjoyed.
Two hours passed, then one of the house slaves discovered Janus’ uncle dead. The simplicity of a single clean slash to the neck and no sign of a struggle, other than a faint trail of blood leading out of the room, left little doubt as to who had killed the slaver.
Two more hours would pass and Snowhawk was still nowhere to be found. Soon Janus was informed that her cousin, Nytehawk, had vanished as well. “Losing Nytehawk doesn’t hurt nearly as much as losing Snowhawk,” Janus quietly mused as he stood on his balcony and looked at the stars that night. “I’ll get her back. And I’ll make sure not to say the same stupid things again. Give her some time, though…”
Elsewhere, a pale blue furred Delphin stood on the doorstep of an apartment complex. She brushed her light aqua mane from her icy blue eyes as she waited for her cousin. “I hope she didn’t have any problems,” she said, nervously looking around. She had good reason to be nervous: they had just escaped from their owner.
“Here ya go, Nyte,” a voice called out, snapping her out of her thoughts. She looked up in time to see, then catch, a set of keys flying toward her. “There’s plenty of money in the account I set up. You won’t have to worry about anything for several months, at the least…” her cousin explained.
“Why are you just referring to me?” she questioned. “Snow, I thought you…”
“Thought I’d what? Stay and do nothing?” the lavender-hued female replied. “Nyte, I have some things I need to take care of. I can’t just sit around.”
“Will you stay for just a little while? Until I get settled?”
The other female sighed. “Fine, just for a little while. Give myself some time to rest.”
“Thank you,” Nytehawk smiled.
Snowhawk responded with a slow nod, then wandered inside.
Nytehawk was concerned for her cousin. They had only been free for a few hours, but she already seemed to be fighting with herself. The lavender Delphin hid so much from everyone. She kept all her problems to herself, intent on solving them herself without “burdening” anyone else. She sighed softly as they climbed the three flights of stairs to the apartment. “So,” she began as they turned into the third floor hallway, “where’d you get all the money in the account from?”
“A good portion of it is the rewards I would get for completing missions.”
“And the rest?”
“I found it,” she simply stated as she looked for the apartment.
“Is there anything that can be tracked?”
“Yes. But Janus won’t come looking for you,” she stated as they stopped at the apartment door. “You didn’t kill his uncle. He knows it was me.”
Nytehawk froze as her cousin stepped inside. “You’re not… You’re not thinking of going back, are you?”
“If there’s something out here for me, then no. But if I can’t find any reason to be…”
“Then we’ll find us both a reason.”