"Keep away! Keep away! Keep away!" a bullying Wolf-Owl Hybrid teenager chanted as he hovered some seven feet out of reach of the poor victim of his cruel game. This particular hybrid had a mostly gray wolf body, head, and hind legs, yet he had a barn owl's wings on his shoulders, and a feathered owl tail. His owl-talons were clutching a helmet that belonged to his victim. The only evidence that showed that this bully was a cyborg, was the hologram projector behind his left ear. Of course, he was probably covered in cyborg parts, but he was hiding them with holograms, to make himself look natural.
The game was being played in an alleyway surrounded by mile-high skyscrapers. In this area of town, the alleys were usually littered with discarded trash and broken machinery. All the buildings surrounding the alley had flat, windowless walls facing the direction of the alley, except for one, which had a balcony of sorts that was adjacent to where the wolf- owl was hovering.
"Come on! Please? Give me back my helmet! Go get your own, that's mine!" the bully's victim whined.
This poor teenager was a Kangaroo-Koala hybrid. Every feature of her body was pure gray kangaroo, except she had the fluffy koala ears and button koala nose. She was obviously not covering her cyborg parts with a hologram. Mostly due to the fact that she had a hologram projector built into her helmet, so thus, she could not use hers. Her forepaws had cyborg parts melded with her flesh and bones to create more dexterous hand-paws. Also, she had some cyborg parts that helped make her knee and ankle joints more durable, as well as stronger. Cyborg parts could also be seen in her hips, as well, which allowed her to walk comfortably, which is impossible for an unaltered kangaroo to do, because of an adaptation they naturally have that prevents them from moving their legs out of unison. Most of her lower tail was clad in flexible cyborg armor, which could help her stand on only her tail for long periods of time.
The Kangaroo-Koala girl leapt into the air after the Wolf-Owl, but even though the Kangaroo-Koala could easily leap that seven feet, the Wolf-Owl gained another five feet in altitude as his victim jumped after him. Then he purposely lost about six feet in altitude after the Kangaroo-Koala was back on the ground, taunting the poor victim.
This bully was not alone, he was the leader of a gang of about six adolescent male Cyborgs, the group consisted of both Hybrids and Pure- Breeds. They had made a ring around the poor Kangaroo-Koala, and were laughing and pushing at the poor girl as she attempted to get her prized possession back.
This went on for quite a while, the Kangaroo-Koala was soon getting tired of leaping at the Wolf-Owl and always missing, and she was especially annoyed at all the boys surrounding her and laughing at her.
Without warning, something streaked past the Wolf-Owl, and he was no longer holding the helmet he had stolen from the Kangaroo-Koala. Bewildered, the Wolf-Owl looked about searching for where he might have dropped the helmet. His gang and even the Kangaroo-Koala were looking about for where the helmet had gone. Then, the Wolf-Owl noticed it. A stationary blur was standing in the shadows at one corner of the alley. But then the blur sharpened to reveal a female Utahraptor holding the helmet that he was clutching to just moments before, when he was taunting the Kangaroo-Koala.
The Utahraptor was very tall, about eight from her toes to the top of her head when she stood up straight, where as the wolf-owl was only six feet tall, and the Kangaroo-Koala was a bit more than five feet tall. The Utahraptor was also muscular. Not overly muscular, but buff enough to demonstrate that she worked out, and relied mostly on her own muscles instead of joint enhancing implants like most Cyborgs usually did. This Utahraptor also had a decorative plumage of feathers in various parts of her body. A crest of feathers on her head and neck was the most predominant of these features; she also had some feathers lining her lower arms, as if the feathers could have been wings. Her scaly hide was a bright buttercup-yellow, with large sky blue spots and markings. Her plumage was a green-blonde. However, like all residents of Cy-Byte, she had mandatory cyborg implants on her body. Around her eye sockets, it was obvious that she had what looked like optical enhancers, which allowed her to see better at dark, as well as see a larger range of color. At every joint of her arms and legs, she had cyborg implants as well, to allow smoother movement, thus allowing her to be swifter, however, this wasn't inherently necessary, as she was naturally swift. Along her spine, she had durable, yet flexible cyborg armor 'scales' that ran from the base of her skull, to the tip of her tail. She had an aura about her of a great warrioress, and she had had the training to qualify as one.
"You know how pathetic it is to pick on someone smaller than you?" The Utahraptor asked coyly, with a sideways glance. The Wolf-Owl wasn't too much bigger than the Kangaroo-Koala, except his wingspan gave the effect that he was the larger one.
"What are you implying?" The Wolf-Owl asked defensively, his ears had rotated back against his head, yet he could not hide the obvious intimidation in his voice. He had stopped hovering and was now standing firmly on the ground, his lackeys standing behind him. A few of the more timid ones were looking about quickly for a route of escape. The Kangaroo- Koala was now all alone on the other side of the alley. The Utahraptor had sauntered confidently between the Kangaroo-Koala and the Wolf-Owl.
"I'm implying that being the underdog in this game isn't very much fun." The Utahraptor had a definite size advantage against the Wolf-Owl. She tossed the helmet in the air once and caught it in her hand-like claws. The Wolf-Owl suddenly noticed how long her three fingers were, and how curved and sharp the talons at the end of her hand-claws were. Even her cyborg thumb was tipped with a sharp metal blade.
The Wolf-Owl gulped visibly. Even though the Utahraptor's face muscles had a limited range of movement, she used her hologram projector, worn on her neck like a necklace, to create an image of her smirking at the wolf-owl.
"We were only playing, right? We always love to play that game together! Uh, she likes to play that game with us!" The Wolf-Owl tried to cover himself. The Utahraptor glanced backwards to check with the Kangaroo- Koala.
"I hate it when people play that game on me! And I've never met you before in my life!" The Kangaroo-Koala pointed accusingly at the Wolf-Owl. Two of the Wolf-Owl's lackeys had already run away by now, though he hadn't noticed.
"There you go then. Ever heard of that proverb that says to never do stuff to others that you wouldn't like done to yourself? I suggest you practice that." The Utahraptor lectured the erring Wolf-Owl. Already, only one of the Wolf-Owl's lackeys was left. The Wolf-Owl was getting extremely apprehensive.
"I.. Think I hear my mother calling me." The Wolf-Owl hastily answered, his lackey echoed him, and both ran out of the alley and towards their homes. The Utahraptor looked smug at herself for such an accomplishment. The Kangaroo-Koala made stammering noises behind her, and she turned around to listen to what she was going to say.
"Th-thank you f-for doing that." The Kangaroo-Koala nervously stammered, she wasn't sure if the Utahraptor might turn on her. However, she didn't want to leave yet, the Utahraptor was still holding her helmet.
"What do you mean by that?" The Utahraptor asked curiously. She fingered the helmet in her claws for a moment, and when she realized that the Kangaroo-Koala was staring at it, she caught herself and handed it back to her.
"Sorry, forgot I was holding it. I would definitely not tease you like they did, those bunch of low-lying selfish gits." She apologized sincerely.
"Why not?" The Kangaroo-Koala was a bit curious. It was very common that people would pick on her. She had this nerdy appearance when she would wear her helmet, leaving her wide open to taunts and jeers.
"Because it's a lot more fun to bully the bullies, especially when you're as big as me." The Utahraptor explained as if it was the simplest reason in the universe. She then leapt back up to the ledge that she had appeared the Wolf-Owl on, and began sniffing around for something, yet nothing in particular.
"Uh, may I ask as to where you are going?" The Kangaroo-Koala inquired of the Utahraptor kindly. She had already put her helmet back on. It wasn't exactly much of a helmet however, but more of an optical enhancer that could be removed. One could say it was Cy-Byte's version of glasses, yet these 'glasses' could be used as binoculars, night vision goggles, a computer interface screen, and many more purposes, besides correcting faulty vision. Yet they were an inexpensive alternative to correcting vision with cyborg implants. It also held his hologram projector. She had promptly turned the hologram she usually wore back on, which covered her cyborg hand-paws with realistic hologram fur, and she projected more expressive 'eyes' over the optical receivers of her helmet.
"Frankly, I don't know, nor do I care where I go." The Utahraptor had leapt from the ledge by now and was scanning the street that the alley was connected to.
"Okay then. How about we at least exchange names then? It'd be nice to know the name of the person who saved me from humiliation and possible damage to my optical enhancers." The Kangaroo-Koala suggested hopefully. The Utahraptor by now had walked back to face the Kangaroo-Koala.
"I don't suppose that'd be too much to ask. My name is Raptorix, glad to meet you." The Utahraptor offered her menacing-looking hand claw as a gesture of greeting in the means of a handshake.
"Glad to meet you too. My name is Daego, Daego Roo." The Kangaroo- Koala said nervously as she held out her paw and accepted the handshake. She realized how sharp those talons on Raptorix's hand claws were as she gently gripped Daego's paw.
"Okay then, now that's over with, I best be moving again. I hate to stay in one place for too long." Raptorix explained shortly to Daego then strode out of the alley.
"Wait!" Daego hopped to catch up to Raptorix who was moving quickly. "Can I come with you? I have no where else to go, and I hate to be all alone."
Raptorix stopped, she was now standing right outside the entrance of the alley, on the main street. Pedestrians walked past her, on the sidewalk, and the hovering cars zoomed by at breakneck speeds. "I don't know if I should let you follow me. I like be on my own a lot." However, this was almost a complete lie. Raptors, being social animals, enjoyed moving in groups. Raptorix enjoyed traveling with at least one other companion, but on occasion, it was nice to be alone with her thoughts. However, Raptorix was feeling particularly lonesome that very moment. The only reason why she helped Daego out in the first place was because she wanted to have a friend to stick around. But she wasn't going to let her have it that easy. She wanted to see if this gal was determined to stick around.
"I can be really really quiet, and stay out of the way very easily. I'll be like I'm not there even! That is, if I have to. Please? Let me join!" Daego begged and bounced slightly, hoping her charm could allow her follow this brave Utahraptor who could scare all the bullies away from her.
"Why are you so determined to follow me?" Raptorix questioned curiously.
"Because then the bullies wouldn't immediately target me anymore." Daego stopped bouncing and was now looking a bit sheepish. ". And I too, am running away from home. My family life has been really crummy as of late." Daego trailed off, a bit embarrassed about sharing her personal life with an almost complete stranger. Yet, she had this feeling that she could really trust Raptorix.
"Yeah. it can really suck when parents go crazy.." Raptorix adverted her gaze for a moment. She sounded like she was experiencing the same kind of thing as well.
"Okay, that's all I need to know." Raptorix forced herself to change her mood to something more cheery. "Lets go!"
For about an hour, the two walked westward, conversing with each other, learning about each other. Raptorix learned from Daego that she was an expert programmer, and that he had programmed all the extra features to her optical enhancers. Yet, she admitted that she wasn't the world's greatest athlete. She could jump for long periods of time, at a moderate speed, and could leap high into the air about three or four times in a row, but if she exerted herself too much, she would tire quickly. However, she had trained herself to be an excellent marksman at the shooting simulation game arcades. She was very accurate with both a bow and a gun. However, she had only practiced with simulated weapons, and had never touched a real one.
Daego learned from Raptorix that she on the other hand, had a very high endurance rate. She was also extremely swift if she pushed herself enough. Raptorix was also trained in martial arts. Raptorix had trained since a young chick in Fauna's version of Karate and Tae-Kwon-Do. Thus, she had great self-discipline, and had above average strength. In her martial arts training, she had learned the basics of wielding a sword, however, she was still training in that field, and was not proficient enough to defend herself properly in battle with a weapon, so she preferred practical martial arts as her mode of self defense.
As they learned more and more about each other, they slowly could notice the Spirit Border becoming more visible between the thinning skyscrapers. For some unknown reason, the two were being drawn to the Spirit Border. But they were enjoying each other's company too much to take notice, as they continued to meander westwards. They finally did take notice when they were standing right in front of the Spirit Border. It was so tall; the top of it disappeared into the clouds.
"Have you ever wondered what's on the other side of those Spirit Borders? I mean, what else is out there besides Cy-Byte?" Daego wondered out loud. She was staring dazedly at the Spirit Border. They were standing in a vacant lot full of broken discarded machinery, broken glass and empty plastic containers, and debris and garbage. The two buildings that sat on either side of the vacant lot were ancient, and abandoned. However, homeless and petty criminals still clung about the decrepit buildings at night. It was common to see run down buildings lining the Spirit Borders all over Cy-Byte. It might be dangerous to wander around such seedy areas at night, but Raptorix assured Daego that she was cunning enough to fend off any outcasts of society that happened to feel a sudden urge to mug them.
"Sometimes, yeah. But no one has ever come back to tell us what is on the other side." This was true. Those who found ways to travel through the Spirit Borders were either killed while trying to make their way through the Spirit Border, or ended up on the other side, with no way to get back. Raptorix tossed a stone as hard as she could at the Spirit Border. The first one bounced off the Spirit Border, with an audible buzzing noise when the rock hit the Spirit Border.
"I heard a rumor once. These kids were playing by the Spirit Border, and then they found one of those invisible holes that pop up every now and then. One of the kids took the dare to go through the invisible hole. Before his whole body was into the Spirit Border, the invisible hole closed and the kid got vaporized. All that was left was the kid's tail that was sticking outside of the border" Daego shuddered at the thought of vaporization. She was pausing and stuttering because such of the disturbing thoughts.
"Eh, I think that's just one of those stories your parents think up to keep kids from playing around the Spirit Borders. But then again, I heard from a very reliable source that the whole vaporization thing is true." Raptorix tossed another rock at the Spirit Border, and again, the rock bounced off with a buzzing noise.
"If it wasn't for that whole vaporization thing, I'd love to run through an invisible hole in the Spirit Border. That is, if I ever found one. Just to find out what was on the other side." Daego stated firmly. She did her best to look brave. Though, she was still disturbed by the risk of instant death when traveling through the Spirit Border.
"Yeah, me too." Raptorix said in a somewhat half-hearted way. She tossed another rock at the Spirit Border. Yet, the rock did not bounce this time. The rock actually went through the Spirit Border and made a longer buzzing noise as it disappeared.
Bewildered, Raptorix and Daego exchanged shocked looks. Instantly curious, Raptorix found a long, rusted iron rod. She stuck it in the exact spot where the rock disappeared and moved it around to test where the edges of the invisible hole were. From her probing, she discovered it was a very large hole. Large enough for Raptorix and Dugo to walk in side by side together and still have space enough to fit a third person next to them. Raptorix withdrew the rod to discover that none of it had vaporized either. The hole had just obviously opened up.
"I can't believe this is happening. I swear that fate is yelling at us to run through that hole." Raptorix said, amazed.
"Do. do we really have to go through? I don't want to." Daego was slowly inching back away from the Spirit Border, trembling.
"You got to be kidding me! Just moments ago you said you would have run through an invisible hole if you ever found one, and we just found one!" Raptorix tried to convince Daego. She was very ready to take the chance and run through that invisible hole. With or without her new friend too.
"I-I guess I did say that." Daego felt sheepish. Such a bold statement she had made when she was confident she would never live to discover an invisible hole in her lifetime. But now that this had come true, she wasn't too sure if she was ready to stand by those words.
"I don't want you worrying about getting vaporized either. I know this invisible hole is just waiting for us to run right through. It's waiting, and it wants us to reach the other side." Raptorix could not explain fully the feelings that she was getting from this invisible hole in the Spirit Border. It was like a gut feeling. She could almost feel how long this particular invisible hole was going to stay open for.
"Do you have any regrets?" Raptorix looked seriously at Daego. Raptorix had none. She was ready to escape from Cy-Byte and explore outside the Spirit Borders. She did not want to return home to the hindrances of her freedom.
Daego paused; the expressive hologram eyes that appeared over her optical receivers on her helmet appeared to look as if she closed his eyes. She was in deep thought, making up her mind as to go or not. Her family life was not the greatest. Parents that rarely bothered about her anymore, they always appeared to be too lazy to do anything, or were busy fighting over something petty. They rarely ever gave her credit for her talents. The only one who ever appreciated Daego was her grandfather. Her Pure- Breed Koala grandfather, who had passed away a few years ago. Since then, Daego desired to escape from her home. She finally made up her mind. If her grandfather were still around, he would have encouraged Daego to escape her home, and Cy-Byte, to find a new life on her own. She was nearly of age to leave her parents anyway. Just a few more years and she could leave their legal guardianship forever.
"I'll go. I seriously want to go. I want to leave Cy-Byte forever. I want to see what's beyond those Spirit Borders!" Daego stated firmly. She knew this was fate.
"Glad to hear it." Raptorix made her hologram on her face express that she was smiling. She offered her hand-claw to Daego.
"Let's go quickly, before anyone sees us." Daego took that hand-claw in her hand-paw, and griped it confidently. The two nodded at each other in encouragement, and they took off at top speed towards the Spirit Border.
When Daego and Raptorix plunged through the invisible hole in the Spirit Border, it was like running through water, yet instead of feeling wet, they felt like they were immersed in static electricity. Raptorix kept her eyes closed, and Daego couldn't see anything through her optical enhancer helmet. The energy of the Spirit Border created too much static for her to see anything, so she too kept her eyes closed. They both kept a tight hold on each other's hand.
Fortunately, this portion of the Spirit Border was only twenty feet thick. It wasn't long before Raptorix and Daego emerged from the electric- water feeling onto clean warm air. They were both surprised to feel sand beneath their hind feet, something that did not exist in abundance in the technologically dense continent of Cy-Byte. They slowed to a stop, and by now, both had opened their eyes. What they now saw was completely new to them. They both could smell the salt in the air from the nearby sea. They continued onward over a tall sand dune. By now, they had let go of each other's hand. They were too busy looking about at the beach they were now standing on. Daego noticed when she looked back at the Spirit Border behind them that there were various pieces of junk machinery and equipment that must've been tossed out through an invisible wall. The sky above was dimming to slowly reveal the first evening stars.
As Raptorix and Daego crested the tall sand dune, they saw something that was nearly impossible to see because of the Spirit Borders: a solar set. The unobstructed ocean horizon revealed one of the most beautiful solar sets that the western coastline of Cy-Byte had never seen. Before them was a beautiful view of the seemingly limitless ocean. Colors that ranged from rosy red to flaming orange and yellow painted the sky and ocean, making it difficult to tell where the sky meets the ocean on the horizon. The large, celestial solar orb that was the star for Fauna's solar system appeared now to be melting away into the sea. Daego and Raptorix gaped at the beauty of the star set until it was fully set, and all was left was a small band of light left on the horizon in the place where the star had set.
A large sailing vessel to the south glided along the calm coastal waters northwards. As it approached close to where Raptorix and Daego were watching the horizon in a trance, a sailing vessel dropped anchor.