Chapter 1: takes one to know one
The wyfex landed on the cobblestones with a hollow, muffled thud. The alleyway was dark, shadowed by the tall buildings in the dusk. Arcus acknowledged the darkness, but ignored it. She'd have her magic, anyway, no biggie.
Suddenly a soft thump somewhere within that "not a big deal" darkness drew her attention. She looked around, desperate to see - even though she knew her sensors weren't designed for such situations. Arcus wasn't too keen on drawing attention to herself, but as something scratched against a brick wall right in front of her, she let out a sigh. The wyfex raised up her hand, and snapped her fingers. Sparks flung from the impact point like from flint and steel, and transformed into embers. They hovered around Arcus' hand, as a bright flame arose from the depth of her palm. It lit up her surroundings clearly, as-
Arcus' whole body jerked back violently. The flame in and around her hand dimmed, but brightened back up as she recovered from the shock. She knew what she was looking at - who she was looking at.
The wyfex stared another one of her kind. A pitch black, angular screen cut its face, pale as death. Its curved horns were cracked, and one of them was shorter than the other, its end snapped off. Its ears tattered, where there maybe once were earrings, were now poorly healed slits. The fiery orange mane had been shaved into a buzz cut, and frankly, it was probably the only thing that made sense for Arcus. While fur and hair didn't grow back on a wyfex, it could be planted back - and a shorter hair meant no unwelcome grabbing, either.
Arcus moved an inch to the left - and the wyfex in front of her mirrored the action. Her head tilted, and the other did the same, but its tone was more aggressive, firm, and wary. Something moved on its face unnaturally.
No. No way. She would never - never.
Arcus pressed her back against the brick wall behind her. The other followed her, inching its face closer to her own. She saw it now, clear as day. Rows of sharp teeth gleamed in the flame's light underneath the black screen. A jaw moved down, as it instinctively faked breathing. Then, its face started to light up, come to life. Instead of shades of orange and yellow, its interface was red and cyan - jumping around the place, glitched, and broken. The fire's light bounced on the scrapes and broken shatter lines of the glass screen. Arcus felt small, as if the other figure was towering over her, even though they were the same height.
"Why?" Arcus whispered, her voice trembling. The other pulled its head back, and burst into malicious laughter, before turning and walking away. Arcus hunched down, her back sliding against the brick wall until she reached the ground. The flame around her hand extinguished itself with a soft hiss. She pulled her knees closer to her chest.
It was logical. If she'd have to ask, she already knew the answer. It knew it as well as she did.
Here, she had become like Icarus.
And she knew exactly why.