((Feel free to comment!))
She dreamed the story of Prince Ninebirds and the creation of M’an. But in the dream, she herself was Prince Ninebirds. And so she, like Prince Ninebirds, listened to her own pride and the flattering remarks of Folk around her, and vowed to take up the Mantle of Kingship, though it had been declared sacrosanct to all by the sole-remaining Firstborn, Tangaloor Firefoot.
She watched in pleasure as cats came from near and far to the Court for feasting and dancing and singing.
She stood up to declare her intention to assume the Mantle of Kingship, and her place on the sacred tree-root seat of the Vaka’az’me.
She was amazed at the old tom, with gray-shot fur and white muzzle, who stood up and contested her claim.
She bristled at his accusation of cowardice when at first she would not fight, and threw herself into the fray.
She encountered a whirling dervish of claws that sent her fur flying into the air, and fell back, her pelt mostly gone.
She threw herself at him again, wounding him, but yelling in pain as the old cat caught hold of her tail and pulled it out.
She still refused to give up her claim, and closed with the tom to wrestle with him, finally ending up wedged beneath a root of the Vaka’az’me.
She, along with the Folk gathered, marveled to see that quantities of white dust had been knocked from the fur of her opponent, who now sported the black pelt and red legs and paws of Tangaloor Firefoot himself.
She shuddered as Lord Firefoot praised her fighting, but pronounced that her presumption couldn’t go unpunished.
She cried out in agony as he took hold of her torso and legs, and stretched, and stretched, and stretched them.
She staggered as Lord Firefoot pulled her out of the crevice, leaving her swaying on shaky back legs that now were the only legs that reached the ground, looking at front legs that now dangled in front of her, looking very different than they used to.
She heard him declare that she be banished from the Court, and shuddered at the doom he laid upon her–that she, and her descendents, would ever after serve the Folk.
She stumbled away before the force of the Folk, hearing them call her M’an–out of the sunshine. She fled until she stood outside the home forest, alone, trembling, wondering what would happen to her, how she could live, what should she do…what should she do…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She simply lay for a moment, panting, confused. She remembered the dream, very acutely, and wondered why her body still felt as it had in the dream. Her legs still felt oddly stretched. She opened her eyes a bit, trying to gain some idea of where she was, but her eyes didn’t seem to want to focus properly. And what she could perceive seemed to have a strange perspective.
Felisa moved one of her front legs up to try to rub her eyes into some semblance of order. But when she saw the limb in front of her, even unfocused as it was, she froze. It wasn’t her paw, it was…it was a M’an’s hand. She tried to move her leg again, and the hand moved. She froze, and it froze.
Fear clenching her throat, she violently swung her paw–or the hand–to her face. She felt…no fur. And a strangely-shaped head that made no sense for a cat…but a great deal more sense for a Big One.
‘No!’ she thought. ‘This can’t be!’ She tried to let out a yowl of fear, but what emerged from her mouth was a strange cry indeed. Her heart was pounding hard and fast enough in panic to shake her all over, and her breath came more and more shallowly and ragged.
She never felt the prick of the needle delivering the solution that sent her back into unconsciousness.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dr. Ambrose Martel sighed in relief as his fingers on his patient’s neck felt the pulse become more slow and steady, and he heard her breathing become regular again. It had been a bit of a near thing, but he’d been prepared this time. He’d learned from his previous test subject, whose panic on discovering what had happened had driven it into a cardiac arrest from which the doctor could not revive it. The question was, could this current subject move past the panic? Only time would tell.
Sighing, Dr. Martel rose from his chair beside the surgical table. After instructing one of the automatons to rouse him the moment she stirred again, he went to a nearby cot and lay down, hoping to snatch a few precious hours of sleep.