Of a Feather

Seventeen-year-old Delia has never been comfortable in her own skin, let alone in the company of her overbearing cousin and his wife who took her in last month. She's never known her real parents and she's never felt like she was normal.The night she decides to seek a little escape changes her life forever.
Over the course of the next few days, she discovers things about herself - about her creation and what she's capable of - that simply don't even seem possible. Will she simply freak out and hide, or will she accept her new responsibilities and the burden of saving the world from her -family-.


2. Chapter 2

I woke to the sound of hushed male voices, but kept my eyes shut. They sounded serious, bemused, and both bled together.

“She's too young, it can't be her,” the voices said.

Two figures came into view leaning over me.


“How do you feel? Can you run?” one asked.

I just stared, his face coming into focus. He had brown eyes.

I was lifted off of the ground. I caught sight of a much younger, frightened looking man with red hair before I fell back asleep.

I filtered in and out, unsure of location or time.

For a few minutes I was cradled in someone's arms while he was running. Lights flashing, breathing heavy, footsteps loud. Then out again.

I'm being pulled by my wrist up a cold, damp tunnel. Urgent voices.

“Be careful!” the younger man whispered.

“I am being careful!” the doctor replied.

Out like a light.

Awake, again, but this time on someone's back, strapped to him around my waist and under my arms and legs somehow, as he's jogging. His gait is uneven and my head rattles with every other step. Brush hits my arm every now and then. I can smell pine needles and hear running water. It's cold, but I'm out again in no time.

“...more sleeping,” the older voice was saying as someone was patting my cheek a little roughly. “Hey, there you are. Good morning! Sorry I had to slap you so many times to wake you up. My pimp hand is not as strong as Alden’s over there.”

His voice was too loud and too crystal clear, each consonant hit with perfect enunciation. It was obnoxious.

“Colin, what does that even mean?!” huffed the younger man from somewhere, his nervous voice growing louder as he came closer and, finally, into view. It struck me that he had a british accent.

I moved to sit up.

“Tut, tut!” the man, I guess Colin, smiled as he sat cross-legged in front of me on the cave floor. “You shouldn’t try to move around too much. You’ve received a bit of trauma to your lower back and I haven’t quite been able to gage the severity of it yet. Just sit still and calm and we’ll have a little chat.”

I shifted myself into a sitting position anyway, immediately regretting it because fire shot through my back and chest as I did. I bit my lip and tried to hide as much of the pain as I could. I wanted to sit up and be able to see where I was.

“I should tell you,” Colin continued, his tone growing irritated as I looked around to see that we were pretty deep into a cavern - so deep that I saw no obvious exit, nor any light creeping in through any cracks. The whole thing was lit up by a lantern in the center.

The younger man, I’m assuming he was Alden, was digging around through a backpack. He looked so odd, squatted down in this short cave. His long limbs bent, his elbows and knees pointing out, so he could fit close to the ground. He was probably a good foot and a half taller than the height of the ceiling of this cave. He looked like a red headed daddy-longlegs trapped in a little bubble.

My chin was pinched between Colin’s thumb and forefinger as he directed my gaze back to him.

“I was talking to you,” he said. “It’s rude not to listen when you’re being spoken to. Especially when your health is my concern. You’ve sustained several injuries, possibly a concussion. I need to see if there's something serious.”

He took a small flashlight out of his pocket and pointed into my eyes, one at a time.

“No concussion,” he smiled, a hint of relief in his voice. “Can you talk? What’s your name?”

“De...” my voice was hoarse and it felt like I was dragging barbed wire up my esophagus as I spoke. “Delia.”

I coughed. Alden was laying a shiny, silver blanket on the ground.

A look of concern flashed across Colin’s features as he handed me a handkerchief, but he quickly masked it and asked, “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” I answered, quieter than I’d have liked as I was having difficulty breathing.

He chuckled, “Understandable.”

“Could you...” Alden piped up and smiled when I met his eyes. “Could you lay down on your stomach here?”

I didn’t like any of this. Part of my brain recognized that these two men had saved me. Another part of my brain wondered why we were hiding out in a cave. That seemed unnecessary if we were simply getting away from that psychotic girl with gray eyes. But, still, they had saved me.

I nodded my head. Alden and Colin both reached out to help me onto my stomach. Colin lifted up the back of my shirt and tenderly touched the lump that had formed on my lower back. I sucked in a sharp breath.

His fingers were freezing and the pressure, though light, killed.

“It looks like a simple contusion,” Colin said. “Possible hematoma. It’s fevered, but I doubt you fractured anything, as you can move. What was the cause of this injury?”

“I fell from a tree limb,” I told him. “Probably about six feet.. I landed on a tree root that was sticking out of the ground. And there was this crazy girl who tried to choke me to death.”

He simply nodded as they both helped me to sit back up when he was done examining me.

“You don’t care to know about her?” I asked.

“We already knew about her,” Alden said quietly.

Colin just smirked, “Hmm.”

“She tried to kill me,” I pushed, angry at his aloofness to the fact and at how windy and hollow my voice sounded. “She tried to choke me to death.”

“And you got away,” he said cooly and attempted to stare me down.

My eyes didn’t budge from him, my anger blazing in full force behind them. I would not back down from this cocky imbecile.

“Wouldn’t...” the younger man interrupted and we both turned our attention to him. “Colin, if there’s no fracture, then shouldn’t the bruising be more shallow and...”

“It probably looks worse than it is in this lighting, but it’s hard for me to tell anything out here without more equipment,” Colin huffed. “We’ll have to find our way to Barret’s quickly.”

“Who is Barret?” I asked.

“He’s a friend,” Colin assured me.

Alden said something unintelligible under his breath.

“Why are we hiding out here? You could’ve just taken me into the city, to the hospital. We weren’t far from the road when I collapsed,” I demanded, wheezing, starting to panic.

I did not want to be at the mercy of strangers any longer and I hated that, if anything were to turn sour, I had no strength to fight.

“Did you see the person who attacked you?” Colin asked me.

I nodded my head.

“Do you think she got that way simply by being brought up in a violent household?” he asked.

My mind flashed back to her speed, her strength, her manner of speech... The way she broke a window by simply pressing her fingertip against it.

“It’s possible,” I answered weakly.

Colin shook his head.

“I don’t care!” I tried to shout, but couldn’t, and he covered my mouth.

I started crying, sobbing, and wheezing. My chest was aching furiously.

“Shush, shush,” he whispered and crouched down so that his face was close to mine, his eyes locked on mine with a cold seriousness to them.

“Listen,” he said, “we’re on the run from a very powerful company. I didn’t want to tell you this until we were in a safer situation, but they want you disposed of.”

I went silent upon hearing that.

“You saw something that you shouldn’t have,” he continued, knowing that he had my attention. “You’ve been privy to the beasts and ghosts that haunt the nightmares of important men. They want to destroy that monster and any evidence that she’s ever existed.”

“I won’t say anything,” I said. “I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“Do you think that matters?” he threw up his hands. “They won’t take your word for it. It’s easier to kill you. But, seeing that you were strong enough to escape her probably peaked their curiosity and I wouldn’t put it past them to run several tests and experiments on you before they do.”

I shivered.

“They have a lot of money,” he kept explaining, “a lot of power, and very little moral or legal restraint. They haven’t found us yet, but there’s no reason to assume they won’t soon or that they don’t have people within earshot.”

He looked around us to add emphasis to his statement.

I may not be a very nice, or even a very good man,” he said. “But, I don’t want you dead. Alden and I are both trying to protect you. From the beast and from her creator. So, please, cooperate with us. You are fine to cry, but quietly. And, please, do not scream. It’s probably better for your condition, as well.”

I nodded my head, crying quietly.

“Barret is an old friend of someone I trust,” he continued to whisper as Alden handed me the lid to a thermos. It was filled with lukewarm green tea. “He’s an old country doctor. He’s a bit of a recluse. Lives off-grid in the mountains near Fairplay. And, he can help you.”

“Fairplay?” I asked, surprised. “How long have we been on foot?”

“Nearly three hours,” Alden answered.

“And I think we got a pretty decent head start,” Colin barked, frustrated with us both. “Now. We won’t be able to stay there for very long. But, we’ll at least be able to get our bearings there and, maybe, try to treat you. I don’t have enough with me to figure out what’s wrong. Barret should. For now, I need you to trust us.”

I nodded and sipped the tea. Alden surprised me by giving me what looked like a genuinely hopeful smile.

I took another sip and examined the two me in front of me a little more closely. Colin’s face was filthy and his knuckles looked bruised up. Alden’s jeans had a rip high up on his left thigh. It looked a bit bloody.

What lengths had these two gone through to save me, a complete stranger? I suddenly felt guilty.

“You both should eat or drink something,” I told them.


Eventually, we climbed out of the cave through what appeared like a man made tunnel. By that, I mean they climbed. I was strapped to Alden’s back rather precariously with his backpack, a belt, and the slightly recovered strength in my own arms.

An hour later, we emerged from the cavern and onto the snow covered mountainside.

“C-Colin, i-is that it?” Alden asked, stopping and pointing forward to a gold, glowing light in the distance.

Colin came up next to us and stared out towards the light.

After a moment, he announced, “Yeah. That’s it.”

We crossed the rest of the distance. Two minutes felt like two hours, not knowing what lay ahead of me. I felt like I was losing my mind. We approached a small cabin, the glow was from a lantern hanging next to the door. Colin stepped up to the door and knocked, Alden stood behind him and shifted his weight from foot to foot. I’m sure he was tired from carrying me, on top of hiking for at least four hours in the cold with an injured leg.

Nobody answered. Colin rubbed his hands together before he knocked again.

Nobody answered. I started to shiver. We hadn’t stood still in a while and the breeze was starting to get to me.

“A-are you okay?” Alden whispered while Colin knocked again.

“I’m cold,” I shuddered.

“Okay,” he whispered. “Hold onto to my neck.”

He managed to unbuckle the belt, shift the back pack off from his back and my legs, then move me so that I was now facing him, all without having to place me on the ground.

“I don’t have time for this,” Colin said under his breath.

Alden swept his arm under my leg and brought me up, cradled against his chest.

“I-is that a little bit warmer?” he asked.

“Not really,” I lied.

“That’s it, I can’t wait anymore,” Colin growled. “It’s cold, and you both need medical attention.”

“My leg is fine,” Alden said. “I told you, it was just a graze.”

Colin rolled his eyes before backing away from the door and stepping deeper into the woods. Then, without warning, he barreled towards the door and slammed into it. All the action accomplished was a louder knocking sound. I heard a shuffle from within the building, but I guess I was the only one because both of my companions were shocked when the door swung open and we were met with the nose of a shotgun.

“Whoa, whoa, Barret, it’s me!” Colin shouted.

“Who the hell is me?” the old man asked. “How do you know my name?”

I couldn’t see him, just his gun, but his voice sounded like it belonged to a grizzly bear.

Alden turned his body to shield me.

“Not another step, Ginger,” the old man trained the gun on Alden.

“Colin, my name is Colin Redbrook. We met twenty years ago,” Colin said calmly. “Doctor James Emanuel Hoskins told me I could come here. He said we could trust you.”

“I know James,” Barret said. “I don’t recognize you, though. You reek of something James stepped in and couldn’t let loose of. Who’s with you?”

“Alden Flynn, an intern and student of mine,” Colin said breathlessly. “The girl is... What’s your name again?”

“Delia,” I answered quietly.

“Look, they’re both injured. Please, put the gun down,” Colin had his hands raised in the air like he was surrendering.

“The girl,” Barret turned the barrel of the gun in a circle, but did not steer it away from us. “She the one?”

“No,” Colin answered.

“If you’re lying and she is the one, then she’d be better off if I put her down,” he cocked the gun.

“No, no, no!” Alden yelled and dropped us to the ground, covering me like a shell. “She isn’t Subject A! I swear to you, she’s sane!”

It was the first time I’d heard him speak confidently.

“You expect me to believe that a young girl associated with your lot doesn’t have any Vailcium in her veins?” Barret asked, the gun not moving. “Stand her up, then. Let her loose. Have her recite a poem.”

“She’s injured,” Colin argued.

“Either you cut her loose or I shoot,” Barret reaffirmed.

“Can you do it?” Alden whispered. “Can you stand?”

“Be ready to catch me,” I said frustratedly. “Help me up.”

He stood back up then and placed me on my feet, one hand under my arm and the other hand on my waist, steadying me.

“Say something, girl,” Barret instructed, the gun pointing straight at my chest.

“And, what, exactly, could I say that would make you point that gun anywhere but at me?” I asked, trying to keep standing, but my back hurt worse than before.

“That’ll do it,” Barret laughed and lowered the gun. “Come on in.”

I felt like something was pressing down on my chest. I coughed again, a frightening amount of red and yellow in my hand.

“D-Delia, are you okay?” Alden asked. “You’re burning up.”

Colin approached and wiped his hand across my forehead.

“I’m cold,” I struggled to say, suddenly feeling unable to breathe.

“She’s sweating like crazy and her skin feels like it’s on fire,” Colin said. “Get her inside.”

I fell forward, but I didn’t pass out this time. Alden caught me under my arms and lifted me off the ground. I finally saw Barret’s face as Alden ran me into the cabin. His skin was leathery, his cheeks and nose were red. He had no hair on his head, save for a white handlebar mustache sitting under his nose. He was  heavyset, with a large belly, but his arms were hugely muscular. He smiled at me. He was missing three teeth.

“Ah!” I yelled, then bit my lip. The pain sharpened even more, and burned.

“D-do you have a place where we can examine her?” Alden stammered in a strained voice.

“Down in the basement,” Barret said.

They hurried me downstairs. A light came on and flickered a bit before it steadied and stayed on.

Colin took me from Alden’s arms and brought me to a surgical table.

“L-lay her on her s-stomach,” Alden sounded even more worried than before.

“I’m a doctor, Alden, I know what I’m doing,” Colin said.

“Not a medical doctor,” Alden argued as he helped Colin lay me on my stomach.

“I know enough,” Colin said and lifted my shirt up. I heard him gasp.

“You said that was a hematoma!” Alden exclaimed.

“Might be!” Colin returned. “Might.”

“What’s wrong with me?” I ground out through my teeth.

“Mr. Flynn, Mr. Redbrook, I need you both to be calm,” Barret said.

“Sorry, Delia, it’s just that your bruise looks worse in here than it did out in the dark,” Colin said in a calmer manner. “Probably just the fluorescent lighting in here."

Lighting seemed to be the cause of all my problems according to Colin Redbrook.

“Flynn,” Barret said. “Take her hand and keep her focused. Colin, have you been able to run any kind of scan on her? CAT, MRI, or, at least, an X-ray?”

“No,” Colin answered indignantly. “I didn’t see any puncture wounds and I can’t imagine there being any kind of fracture, but I have no way of knowing if she’s sustained any kind of internal injury.”

I couldn’t help but start to cry, from the pain and confusion and fear. Alden’s hand squeezed mine and he crouched down on his knees in front of me.

“All we can do is a physical examination. Her condition’s not dire,” Barret said. “Give her some meds and wait things out. If they get better, they’re better. If they’re worse, then our next option is exploratory surgery.”

I whimpered and sputtered, but I didn’t cough this time.

“Hey, hey,” Alden said and squeezed my hands, fighting the tremor in his voice. “It’ll be okay. You’ll be fine. Don’t let us idiots frighten you. They’re competent doctors, incompetent humans. And I’m still in training.”

Colin and Barret started speaking more quietly so that I couldn’t hear. Colin came over and stuck a needle into my left hand, tying me to an IV.

“Chaps, if we’re just going to wait this out,” Alden interrupted their secretive whispers, “then we need to set her up with much more comfortable accommodations than this steel table.”

“My bed is upstairs,” Barret offered. “She can take it, but that leaves all of us with the floor.”

“We need her kept out of sight,” Colin told Barret.

“What danger have you brought my way, Redbrook?” Barret asked bitterly.

Whatever pain medication they’d plugged me with was working quickly. The heavy crushing and burning from before had been replaced with an intense ache.

“I’ll explain to you later,” Colin said.

“I want to hear,” I said, my voice sounding a little bit stronger. Just a little bit.

“Don’t worry,” Colin said. “You’ll get all the gritty details later. Alden, can you patch yourself up while we bring the bed down here?”

Alden just nodded and the other two climbed up the stairs. I managed to turn onto my side and watched him limp over to a cabinet and dig through it until he found the things he needed. He placed some cotton balls, a dark brown bottle, a needle, and some thread onto a table. He glanced my way and gave me a small smile. I just blinked back. He took a pair of scissors out of a drawer and started to cut the rip in his jeans to be wider around his wound.

“I’ve got an extra p-pair in my bag,” he explained, probably trying to fill the silence. “These are ruined anyway.”

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Um,” he thought for a moment as he swiped the cotton, soaked in fluid from the bottle, over the gash on his leg. “Someone was about to grab you before we did and he had a knife. I caught him off guard and shoved him away from you, but he was faster in pulling out the blade than I'd figured.”

“Are you okay?” I asked, not sure why I was so curious. Maybe the meds. Or, maybe because he'd been so nice to me throughout our acquaintance so far.

“Th-thanks to Colin,” he said. “He may be a little short, but he trains with a kick boxing coach for three hours everyday. I would never bet against him in a fight.”

I nodded and watched as he deftly wound stitches through his own leg.

“How can you stand doing that?” I asked.

He didn’t answer. He took in several sharp breaths, then wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. A bottle rattled as he took it out from his bag. He opened it, shook a few pills out of it, then swallowed them dry before closing the bottle and tossing it back into the bag.

“I can’t,” he laughed shakily and limped toward me.

He pulled a bench to my table-side and sat facing me.

“So,” he said. “What were you doing up in those woods this late at night?”

“I lived there,” I said more easily that I usually would have, “in a little cabin.”

“By yourself?” he asked.

I nodded. That I had snuck there was unimportant. His eyes looked sad, but he tried to keep it from reaching his expression.

“So, when the girl attacked you...”

“She broke into my house through my bedroom window,” I finished for him.

He looked completely confused.

“What?” I asked.

“That’s not her modus operandi,” he said.

Colin and Barret noisily carried down a mattress at that moment. They laid it on the floor. Colin ran back up the stairs quickly and came back with sheets and a pillow. While he put those on, Barret walked up the stairs and came back with a thick blanket. Alden stood from his stool and the three of them maneuvered me and my IV bag over to the bed. Colin and Alden tucked the blanket in around me.

“How’s that?” Alden asked.

“It’s great. It’s the best she can get,” Colin answered for me.

“It’s better than the metal table,” I said.


The three men slept on pallets with sleeping bags on the floor. I couldn’t sleep at all. I’d been in and out of consciousness for the better part of the night, exhausted from, well, everything, and my body was completely aware that it was well past five in the morning. But, I still was sleepless. I couldn't imagine what Miles and Annette were thinking. I felt awful for the worry I've surely caused. I glanced over to the three mounds of blankets and felt envious of their slumber. One of the mounds moved and Alden emerged from it.

“Are you okay?” he asked as he came up to the mattress.

“I’m fine,” I said, my voice a little less gravelly than it had been hours earlier.

“Y-you’re a bad liar,” he smirked.

“You don’t know anything about me,” I replied, the smooth surface of the meds worn off by now.

“Personally, I’m a little hungry and can’t sleep,” he spoke as if I’d asked him about it. “I was going to head upstairs and rummage through Barret’s fridge. Interested?”

It was like he’d reminded my stomach that it was empty and it growled in response.

“I will take that as a yes,” he smiled. “I’ll bring you something.”

And then he took off up the stairs. A few minutes later, he came back with a pair of sandwiches stacked on a plate and two small mason jars filled halfway with milk.

“All he had in the larder was peanut butter,” Alden grimaced as he sat everything down on a table. “No jam, no honey. But, it’ll fill you up. Here.”

He helped me to sit up a bit, stacking pillows behind my back. Then he handed me a sandwich. We ate in uncomfortable silence.

“Why were you and Colin in the woods?” I asked. “What do you do?”

“It’s not easy to explain,” Alden said. “Colin’s better with all the details than I am.”

“That guy’s a douche,” I stated and Alden choked down a bite of his sandwich.

“Indeed,” he coughed through a laugh and took a sip of his milk. “But he’s really a good fellow at his core.”

I didn’t reply.

“We were trying to capture the other girl,” Alden said. “We didn’t want her to fall into worse hands than ours. Colin would not have been able to stand that.”

“Whose hands?”

He sighed and dragged a hand over his face, “Benson and Dempsy.”

“Benson and Dempsy, the baby wash company?” I snorted.

“Yeah,” Alden smirked. “Their profit margins are much larger from their pharmaceuticals than their baby care products, though.”

“Pharmaceuticals...” it clicked in my head pretty quickly. “You mean the gray eyed girl is they way she is because of drugs? And it’s their fault? What would they have done to her?”

“Yes, and we don’t know exactly what they would have done,” Alden said. “Cruel things. Probably kill her in the long run.”

“Why does Colin care?”

“It’s not my story to tell,” Alden whispered. “I’m sorry, but, for that... you’ll just have to wait until Colin tells you.”

I shook my head, fed up.

“If he has a part in creating a monster like her,” I said and laid back down, “then he’s as bad as Benson and Dempsy.”

“That isn’t fair,” Alden frowned.

“And you’re just as bad for keeping his secret,” I added.

“Look, it would not be right for me to lay bare the sins of another man,” he stood.

I huffed and shut my eyes, finished with this conversation.

“You’re welcome,” he whispered. “For the sandwich.”


I woke up screaming in agony. My eyes bugged open and I could see that my IV was empty. I felt like I was on fire. Colin, Barret and Alden quickly swarmed around me, dabbing and poking at my forehead and my wrist.

“Her heart rate is skyrocketing,” Colin said.

“Her body temperature is extremely high,” Barret said.

Alden just stared in a sleepy shock, but quickly went into action as the three of them moved me back to the metal table, on my stomach.

“I don’t understand,” Alden said. “She hasn’t coughed up anymore fluid since last night.”

“Go keep her calm, again, Alden,” Colin commanded sternly.

Alden sat on a stool in front of me and took hold of my hands. Colin connected me to a new IV drip and my body began to relax. After a minute or two, I’d quit straining and shaking. I’d gone limp, but I could still very much feel. They tied my feet down to the table.

“That’s the best I can do for you, sweetie,” Barret said. “I’m sorry.”

They pulled the back of my shirt up and swiped something cold over my back. I cringed and Alden squeezed my hand. He gave me a reassuring look.

“Scalpel,” Barret said.

“Slow your breathing,” Alden said in a quiet, clear voice. “Look at me. Focus on my eyes. Now, breathe in.”

I took in a deep breath. He smiled.

“Breathe out,” he said and held tight to my hands.

“Should we restrain her arms?” Colin asked Barret.

“I’ve got her,” Alden spoke up, then turned his attention back to me. “I’ve got you. Focus on me. The way Hoskins tells it...”

“Who?” I asked.

“Hoskins,” Alden said. “The way he tells it, Barret has performed over six-hundred surgeries and has never once lost a patient.”

“Never once?” I asked.

“Never once,” Barret answered.

“Hear that?” Alden whispered. “Never once. You’re in great hands.”

Something dug into my back. It felt like it was lighting my flesh on fire.

Alden tightened his hold on my hands, “What’s your favorite thing to do?”

“What?” I cried.

“I’m trying to divert your attention,” he explained quickly. “Just humor me. What h-hobbies do you have? What are you really, really good at?”

“You suck at this,” I ground out. “You’re worse than a sad, fat clown.”

“That’s it,” Alden smiled to keep me going. “You’re remarkably talented at tearing me down. Keep at it.”

“Aghurllgh!” it came out as this drowned sounding garbled scream as the digging stopped with a loud snapping sound.

I squeezed Alden’s hands in pain.

“That’s alright,” he clenched his teeth. “Break my hands if you need.”

“Another scalpel,” Barret shouted. “Hurry.”

He cut again. Deeper this time, but it snapped again.

“Another!” Barret said. “Quickly.”

He cut again. This time, he got as deep as he needed before it broke against something hard.

“What is that?” Colin asked.

“We’ll find out once it’s out of her,” Barret said gruffly.

It felt like I was being torn in half. Something dug into me and something incredible was pulled out. And my eyes and mind felt heavy.

“Delia,” Alden said. “Delia, you’re grip’s weak. Delia?”

“She isn’t bleeding out, but her pulse is weakening!” Barret shouted.

“Figure it out and patch her up!” Colin yelled.

“Delia,” Alden begged. “Delia, say something.”

“Red haired praying mantis,” I whispered. “You’re like a...”

“Please. Barret, her lips are white. Her hands are freezing,” Alden said forcefully.

“Like a popsicle stick.”

I fell asleep.


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