“Light’s Hatchling”

– another in the Sidequest series: fiction fragments which may be expanded someday –

Alex Waverly stood over the crumpled shell of Featherton’s protector. The other four were dazed and wounded, but this one was dead. He couldn’t believe he’d watched her fall less than a meter away from him. The Doves couldn’t fall. It was impossible.

He grabbed the neck brooch from Wing Majesty’s immobile form. Her magically generated costume had faded to the sweatshirt and jeans she must have been wearing before transformation. The gem upon the brooch was as lifeless as its owner.

Alex clenched his fist around it. He knew he might be killed for what he was doing, but he wouldn’t let the Hate Beast do as it would with its fallen foe. Perhaps, just perhaps, he could trigger the Purification Beam in a final vengeance.

Everyone in Featherton knew the power phrase; they’d all heard it in a hundred television specials, limited movie events, and radio commercials. He held the brooch above his head and shouted it, knowing it was a futile, ridiculous act. “I Defend the Living Light!”

It served only to attract attention. Seven glowing eyes swung toward him, and the Hate Beast began to advance. Once more Alex shouted the phrase, and he might as well have been holding a plastic toy for all the good it did. The creature scuttled closer.

“I Defend the Living Light!” he screamed a third time, meaning it as he never imagined he could. A thrill shot through his body; he understood his life was over, but he had not gone down without a fight.

A strange sensation made him look up to see the Light Gem glowing brightly in his hand, sending a kind of painless burning through the nerve endings in his skin and shooting down his arm. He felt decidedly odd.

“Welcome, hatchling…” echoed a voice nearby. An image of Wing Majesty stood tall and proud beside him, no longer battered and wounded, and wearing the ornate blouse and cropped skirt of her Dove uniform. Her eyes were closed as in trance. “Only one fully committed to the Living Light may take the place of a fallen Dove. You, young lady, have shown your faith, and shall take my place as I replaced my predecessor. Kneel before me to receive your – “ She opened her eyes to look at him. “ – oh.”

Alex stared back at her. He couldn’t find words.

“Oh… oh!” She started to laugh, and laugh, and laugh. “Never in a thousand years has any Dove seen anything like this!”

“This – this isn’t funny!” he choked out.

Majesty’s laughter died down. “It is… and it isn’t. You are right that becoming a Dove is no matter for humor. Still… every Dove as far as our memories go has been a woman. Yet, you are utterly committed to the Living Light. Without it, you wouldn’t see me now.”

“What’s going on? Did I defeat the Hate Beast? Are the other Doves okay?”

“Do you wish to defeat it? Do you wish to save my sisters from a horrible demise?”

“Well… I mean… of course I do. The Light has kept us all safe, for uncounted generations. We all owe you so much.

“I believe in what you do. I have for as long as I can remember… I have always wished I could help, somehow.” From somewhere deep inside him, the words came almost without thought. “I swear with my life to defend the Living Light.”

She pierced him with her gaze. “You mean every word of that. You truly do.

“Very well. You shall be known as Wing Chrysalis. Arise, and take your place among the Doves!” Her stern expression slipped ever so briefly into a grin. “This should be interesting.”

The next thing he knew, Alex was back in the street. The Brooch of the Light felt warm in his hands, and the Hate Beast lay dead with a 15-centimeter hole burned clean through it. The other Doves were on their feet and rushing towards him.

“How did you… I saw you grab her brooch. You couldn’t have triggered a Purification!” Wing Scimitar shouted.

“Um… look at, er, him. I think maybe he could have,” said Wing Chalice.

“Oh, no,” sobbed Wing Scepter, looking down. “Majesty has passed beyond, hasn’t she…”

“And she passed it to some guy? Some random guy? Are you kidding me?” cried Wing Talisman.

Alex tried his best to follow their exclamations. “Would someone please tell me what has happened? And why do I feel so cold?”

The Doves looked at each other. Chalice nervously twisted a fold of her skirt and said, “Majesty’s brooch is yours now. You put a Purification Beam right through the face of the Hate Beast. You saved all four of us. You’re a Dove.”

Talisman had trouble meeting his eyes. “It seems so. You’ll need training, but you have the powers… the responsibilities… and the uniform.”

Alex looked down at the pair of hairless, shapely legs visible beneath the hem of his glowing, sparkling skirt… and at the fully developed chest filling his short-sleeved blouse… and fainted.

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