The J'darik war had been raging for the better part of a millenium. A story told a billion times, of a conquering race trying to overthrow a galaxy not now devoid of minerals and treasure from over-mining. Lejharou was a leader, a Davinjur. One of six of his kind left in existence since the beginning of the war. Many others had fallen in battle, killed by the J'darik, who seemed to want to finish the job, and make the Davinjur exstinct. No one knew why.
The J'darik were a species of insectoids, who dabbled into the art of genetics so deeply that they had created several sub-species of their own people. Some were more demonic now than insect. Others aquatic. Even others adapted to fly in space without suits. All of them were cruel, vicious, and bent on the eradication or slavery of any species they came across.
On the other side of the war were the six Davinjur, a race of highly sophisticated elf-like creatures. Tall and pale, each of their kind had larger heads than their more humanoid counterparts, and an extra set of glowing eyes. Their limbs were powerful, and claws sharp, hair smooth, and features fine. However, they hid their lower faces inside masks of cloth as tradition, so none would be drawn to their poisonous lips. Their kiss was toxic to all but their own kind. Along with what remained of the Davinjur were the proto-elf Kakur, the winged humanoids called T'jor, and the large felines they called Av'neti. The felines were feral, but easily trained, and often familiar-bound to one of the Davinjur, or the Kakur. They were fierce and loyal, powerful, yet graceful.
Lejharou was the only Davinjur who opted not to take an Av'neti familiar, feeling that it would simply slow him down. He was a ruthless soldier, a general, and brother to three of the remaining others of his kind. Edenka, Calder, and Alirrauh. The two that stood unrelated were Calder's future mate, Ferea, and Alirrauh's husband, Bedru. Each was a leader of a world in their former empire. And each knew that the age of the Davinjur was now at an end.
On the day that would be known as 'Jav nikir-lam Davinjur,' or 'Last day of Davinjur,' Bedru and his wife, Alirrauh, along with Ferea stood on the front lines of what seemed to be a sea of incoming J'darik. Both of their Av'neti familiars seemed anxious, fearful of the wave that threatened their (and several thousand Kakur and T'jor) lives. In fact, everyone seemed on-edge, as the wave was larger than they had anticipated, and reinforcements would not come for a week yet.
Alirrauh turned to her husband with a frown. "Now can we despair, husband?" she asked. The man had always told her to hold onto hope. They would outlast these insects. They would pull through this nightmare.
Bedru smiled down at his mate and shook his head. "Never despair, my love. I know that Calder does not care who lives or dies, but surely Lejharou does. He will come and rescue us before the end. I'm sure of it."
The blue-eyed Davinjur woman frowned behind her mask, and looked out at the onslaught of their enemy. Her auburn hair shone in the moonlight as she moved. "I hope so, my love." Then she raised her rifle. "Prepare for battle!"
J'darik swarmed in like a cloud, and soon blacked out the silver-dusted ground below the cliff that their fort rested on. Flashes of blue and orange blasted out and flew down at the incoming swarms as weapons fire blasted forth from the fort. A hail of arrows and energy bolts, fireballs, power orbs.. anything they could throw at the enemy barraged down the cliff face. But the shadow grew darker below them. The insects had no trouble scaling the sharp and clean cliff face. So long had it protected them from their enemies. But never had they faced such as this.
Darkness swallowed up the encampment, and screams drowned into the scurry of insect legs, and the echoing sound of explosions. In one night, the J'darik wiped out half of the remaining population of the Davinjur.
A week later, and Lejharou arrived only to find two of the bodies of his kin, and most of those who had fought under them. Only one figure moved about the corpses, feeding off the flesh of the fallen simply to survive. It was Alirrauh's familiar, Gorin. He was calling out in grunts and roars, trying to find his lost familiar. One of his legs was broken, but it didn't stop his pathetic cries, or his futile search.
Lejharou went to Gorin, and hugged the large cat around the neck. The reason they had not seen Allirauh's body was probably that she'd been eaten, like others had in the past. The J'darik seemed to favor slowly devouring people as an interrogation technique. Tears welled up in his eyes as Gorin disregarded him, and kept moving, calling out again and again. By all rights, the beast should have died when the bond of his familiar was broken. But Gorin was a strong spirit in himself, and hadn't simply passed on when he felt the tearing of the loss of Alirrauh. In fact, he seemed confident that somehow, she was still alive somewhere. His cries were heartbreaking.
After sedating the over-sized feline, Lejharou took him back to his frigate. Maybe he could help the poor creature. Or maybe Alirrauh really wasn't dead. Maybe the beast knew something he did not. But he could no longer feel his sister's life. And that was usually a good sign that they had passed. He'd felt the same pain in his heart when his brother, Vadel, had died. Surely, though, the fact that Gorin was alive and.. mostly well, was a reason to hope? Maybe Gorin wasn't self-sufficient? Maybe Alirrauh was just hidden. He sighed and took Gorin away from all the death.
Three days passed, and Gorin hadn't improved. His life spark was waning, even as he sat in his kennel and cried out for Allirauh. He was suffering a slower death than the others, but Lejharou was under orders not to put him out of his misery. Calder wanted to see the creature. But Lejharou couldn't bear the creatures cries any longer.
His orders were to preserve the creature, but Calder had never said how. He knew that it was forbidden, but the Davinjur entered Gorin's kennel with every intention of merging with the feline.
Long ago, the Davinjur had discovered the ability to merge with magical items. It was possible, also, to merge with anything that possessed a 'spark', or a magical center. Even other Davinjur. But after one man, Halden, had absorbed six others, and gone mad with it, merging with living beings had been forbidden. After all, one who did so would steal the life of the one they merged with. And that was against Davinjur laws to begin with. But Lejharou didn't care. He wanted to end Gorin's suffering. He saw no reason for the creature to die so painfully slow.
And so, he laid his hands upon the large black Av'neti. The beast resembled a black panther in almost every way. It's fur was a little longer, fluffier, and softer. It's size was enormous, nearly six feet at the haunches. And it's head was vaguely more tiger-like than jaguar. The animal was powerful, it's strong muscles moving under it's thick fur as Lejharou touched him. His eyes closed, and he took hold of Gorin's fur.
Gorin seemed startled only for a moment. Then he seemed to realize what it was that Lejharou was doing, and he relaxed. The large feline wanted a purpose. He wanted this merging, to be given a new life, free of this pain in his heart. He was thankful to the Davinjur, unknowing that the man was betraying his own people's laws just to save the soul of one poor creature.
The body of Gorin became mist, and soon engulfed Lejharou, seeping into every part of him. And when the feline had been completely absorbed, he sighed, holding himself. "Yes.. I want to pay them back for her loss as well. But the others will not like what I have done..." He returned to the command deck of the ship, casting aside the dull ache in his body as a side effect of the melding that would soon dissipate. He was right, of course. It did dissipate. But it wouldn't be gone forever. It was a premonition of what he had become. A sign he should have paid more attention to than he did.
Hours passed, and he was tired of the space travel, rubbing at his eyes a bit. They would meet with Calder in only four hours. But it was enough for him to grab a nap. Which he did. He woke up sore and stiff, trying to stretch the stiffness out. As he looked at his naked form in his mirror, he reveled for a moment on his form. He was tall and slender, but well-built for a humanoid. Like an athlete of professional quality. His head was slightly oblong, like all of his species, hair starting half-way back as they all did. Four purple eyes stared back at him, and he sighed. Why the Davinjur seemed to require four eyes was beyond him. The Shorter, darker Kakur had only two eyes, and their sight was better than the Davinjur. But he did rather enjoy sporting two-inch claws on every digit. He even liked his smooth red hair better than the humanoid Kakur's rougher version. But still, they descended of Davijur stock, of a heavier gravity world. And Lejharou was convinced they were the next step in the evolution of his species.
Licking his purple-tinted lips, he was about to go get dressed when he felt an odd, warm sensation through him. It made his lower section very.. happy. He let out a moan, and wondered what that had been about. Then his muscles twitched, and something moved under his flesh strangely. It was uncomfortable, and disconcerting. Afraid, he smoothed his hands over himself. But the odd feelings were gone for now. Pushing them aside, he remembered he had to meet with his eldest sibling, and went to get dressed.
Calder was waiting for him, arms crossed. The taller, and much bulkier sibling was only half Davinjur, or so they had presumed. He had only two fire-red eyes, unlike his younger siblings, and a full head of coal-black hair. His ears were also longer, and he sported fangs that the others did not. They all shared a father, but no one aside from Calder remembered his mother. There was even speculation that he'd been genetically engineered or was simply adopted. "Where is the creature, brother?" the deep voice said.
Something had always seemed wrong about Calder. There was just something about him that Lejharou couldn't place. But he shook it off his mind for now as he watched Edenka approach them both. She was eying Lejharou in away he really didn't like. It made his skin crawl, almost literally. It'd done so earlier in the mirror, with that odd sensation. He rubbed at his arm under her gaze, and looked down.
"He's merged with it." Edenka said. She could always sense such things.
This information sent a rage into Calder's eyes. He tore his mask off and hissed at Lejharou in a way no Davinjur should. It was against custom to remove one's mask, but Calder was a halfblood. He was allowed such things. He was also the oldest. "And why have you broken one of our most sacred laws?! I told you to keep him until I got here to see him myself!" The rage sent a wave of power out that Lejharou instinctively backed away from.
"I.. I couldn't watch him suffer, brother! He wanted to live! He wanted revenge! I only gave him what he yearned for! It wasn't against his wishes..." Lejharou tried to explain, only to be flung by his brother's power again.The Davinjur were powerful sorcerers. But Calder wielded a power greater than the elders. They'd hated him for it, before they died. And Calder had left them to die. He cared nothing for anyone. Only the laws. Especially when he learned of his mate's death.
"Traitor." Calder growled.
"What should we do with him, brother?" asked Edenka.
"Banishment!" The tall man's anger seethed out like flames. "Lejharou. Take your wretched corruption, remove your mask, and leave us forever."
Lejharou glared. "Our people are gone, Calder! You can't-" He was cut off by a fist into his head. The world went black around him.
He woke some time later, his head in a great deal of pain. When his vision cleared, he realized he was on one of the forest worlds. Trees stretched out in every direction.
Slowly, he sat up and sighed. "I guess that could have gone a little better...." He rubbed at his face and stood, wandering off to find water and shelter. "I guess it's just us." he said to himself, and the feline he had merged with.
A lake with a mountain full of bat caves was a few hours walk away. remarkably, he found it with his nose. Which was odd, because Davinjur weren't well known for their sense of smell. In fact, as time went on with the walk, he could have sworn his eyesight had also gotten keener. He could see so many more colors, and in such contrast that the lake made him open his mouth in awe. But this, too, he shook off, attributing it to lack of water.
He knelt down on the shore, and started to cup the water in his hands, drinking to quench his thirst.
Out of nowhere, he felt a sharp pain in his gut, as if someone had just rammed their fist into him, and was now crushing his insides. It hurt so much that he couldn't even scream. He simply doubled over in pain.
His hands shook as he closed his eyes tight against the endless waves of agony that soon enveloped his entire body. Slowly, he began to hear bones cracking and groaning. What was going on? He barely had time to think of that after he opened his eyes. His fingers had shortened, and gotten thicker. His toes, too, were thicker. The waves of pain continued, and his hands continued to shift and grow outwards, puffing coarse pads on the undersides. Oh heavens.. no. He was.. changing?
Cracking and popping was heard along his spine, and he tried to scream. No sound came. His lungs burned, his ribs cracking and expanding into a more barrel-shape. His spine extended at the rear, a lump forming, which grew into a tail. Then the pain intensified in his feet as they stretched out, the toes bulging more and becoming animal paws. His toes already had only four digits. But they looked alien now.
His mass started to increase. He could feel his muscles bulging even as his bones stiffened and grew. It was excruciating. His neck extended a little. Then his head hurt so bad that his paw-hands went to hold it. Under his digits, he could feel the skull shifting. Shrinking vertically, which made him close his eyes again. Mostly so his eye sockets could merge without him having to watch the eyes get closer together. Until he had only two.
Finally, he could scream, but there was no one to hear. And it turned into a roar soon enough as the changes continued. His hips changed and shifted, along with his spine, forcing him into a quadrupedal state. He roared again as he felt a muzzle pushing out from his face, along with whiskers. Fur washed over him in a wave as the last of the changes took place.
Breathing heavily, he lay out on his side for a while, before finally standing uneasily on his new feline legs. In his head, he heard a strange voice. "Now we are one, Lejharou. Now we are strong enough to win."
As he looked at his own powerful feline form, he knew the voice was Gorin's. And he was right. He shifted again, this time into the form of a half-animal. It hurt. It was slow. But once able to stand on two feet again, he grinned. He felt stronger. And he knew Gorin's spirit did too. Not the strength of one, but both. "No longer shall I be Davinjur, for they no longer acknowledge me. But Lycanthrope. Shape-changer." He roared, and it echoed out in the forest. Now, all he had to do was find a way to make more like him. But how? He certainly had enough time to think on it as he settled into his new life.