The sun was just rising above the horizon when the shadow Uni finished drinking from the small lake. Her silver eyes watched the sunrise. As the sun became a full circle above the horizon, the shadow Uni reared up and whinnied. She was like a black shadow in front of a golden globe. As soon as the Uni’s hooves touched the ground, she galloped. Running was her favorite thing to do. She was wild, free and untamed. Her three-foot long horn had a point as sharp as a dagger, thin as a needle. As you traced down the spiral horn, it widened, though where it touched her head it was only a couple inches wide at the base. It glistened black in the sunlight. Around the Uni’s neck was a necklace, held on by a silver chain. The pendent was in the shape of a four-inch long horn that pointed down towards the ground. The horn pendent was gold.
Her black hooves pounded on the ground, hard as diamond. Her long black mane and tail trailed behind her like a flag, whipping in the wind she created. She was five feet at the shoulder, muscles rippling under her glossy black coat. Hair draped down over her hooves, almost obscuring them. Her mane, at most, reached her chest. Her tail reached an inch above the ground. Her black wings, each six feet long each, were tucked tightly against her back, the long black feathers rubbing against her skin as she ran. She ran through high grass that reached her knees, shallow lakes that reached just above her hooves and got the tips of the hair in her tail wet. All the while, the sun shone upon her. She was a thing of beauty. She was like a shadow, often disappearing from sight at night when the moon was veiled and the star’s light had dimmed. She could back up into the shadow of a building and just disappear.
Finally, as the sun reached above the treetops, the Uni slowed from her gallop. She stood, her breathing slow and steady. She could run all day and all night and only be a little tired. It was rare that any human or pet saw her, and when they did, they instantly realized her beauty. She was gentle as a butterfly, fierce as a wild Lupe, and swift as a snake. She was neither outmatched in flight nor in a galloping race. Some say that she could not be any living Neopet from normal Neopia, for she was too perfect. She was fearless and in any situation she was calm. No human or pet had ever touched her, save if she was battling them. No human had ever felt her silky coat, velvet soft wing feathers, or run their fingers through her mane and tail, so soft they could have been made of black liquid. No one had ever run their hand over her smooth, spiral horn, or felt her hard-as-diamond hooves, for a very long time. If you had seen her, any other Uni or pet would look plain in comparison, for no other Uni’s horn and wings were so long, no other Uni’s hooves so hard, and no other Uni’s mane, tail, and coat so smooth.
The Uni stood there, the silent breeze gently running through her mane and tail, over her coat and around her horn. The grass whispered its secrets to her, telling her tales of the other pets and owners who had walked on it before the Uni. Suddenly, the grass became alarmed. It told her of ones with evil intentions headed her way; that she should run, not fly, for they would see her. The Uni was only slightly nervous. She realized she was not invincible. She had always avoided the Pound officers, but the grass was telling her these were not Pound officers, but humans illegally capturing wild pets. The Uni took off at a trot, the grass waving a silent goodbye to her. The Uni glanced behind her, just waiting to see the humans being pulled in their wagon by Unis come over the hill she had just seconds before stood upon. The grass was telling her to hurry, but she was curious. She stopped and waited. It was not long before the sound of Uni hooves on hard ground, the noise of a creaking wagon, filled her sensitive ears. She could see, hear, and smell better than other Unis. That is probably the reason she saw the humans before they saw her, but once they did, they smacked their Unis on the flanks with their whips and the Unis broke into a gallop, headed for her.
She broke into a gallop, but she didn’t run as fast as she usually did. She kept glancing behind her, making sure the Unis were still after her. It had been a long time since the Pound officers came after her, in their own wagons. The Uni let loose a challenging whinny, daring the Unis to run faster. Their legs moved so fast, they were only a blur, but they still couldn’t catch up with her. She moved easily just slightly faster then they were, though still not at her full speed. Thirty minutes she ran, not even close to tiring even slightly. The Unis were slowing down, their legs hurting, their breath coming fast and quick. She slowed to a halt and turned around. Rearing, she whinnied again, this time in victory. She turned to run, but the sound of a blow gun being fired filled her ears. A tranquilizing dart hit her in the neck, and she looked down at it in surprise. The Pound officers didn’t use things like that. She began to run, but her legs were moving slower and she felt tired, for the first time in her life. Finally, she fell to her side on the soft grass. It tried to wake her up, but to no avail. A few minutes later, the humans came and put the Uni into their wagon. She had finally been captured for the first time.
When the Uni woke up later that day, she was lying on cold cement floor. She was in a cage, three cement walls surrounding her, and one metal bar door. She stood up, but she had to bend her neck to keep her long horn from hitting the ceiling. It was strong enough to pierce the strongest substance on Neopia, but she didn’t see the point in escaping if she didn’t know where to go.
“I’ve never seen a Uni that looked like you before,” a voice said. The Uni turned her head and saw, sitting in the corner, a blue Kougress. She stood up and the Uni realized the Kougra was about four feet at the shoulder. The Kougress smiled, showing sharp teeth. But, what surprised the Uni were the two long fangs like a Tyrannian Kougra’s. The Kougress seemed to notice the Uni’s stare. She shifted uncomfortably, and her smile disappeared.
“I know I’m weird,” the Kougress said defensively, “but you ain’t a normal Uni either. No Uni’s horn is so long or sharp. No Uni’s wings are so large.”
The Uni dipped her head until the tip of her horn touched the cement ground in a sort of bow. “Hello,” she said. Her voice was soft and gentle, sweet like honey, caressing like a soft breeze. “What is your name?”
“Saber,” the Kougress replied, almost surprised that the Uni could talk. “What’s your name?”
The Uni cocked her head to the right as if thinking, then she shook her head, sending her silky black mane sailing gently through the air. “I have no name,” the Uni replied.
Saber stared at her for a long moment, the Uni returning the stare calmly. Her silver eyes showed no fear, whereas in Saber’s eyes, there was fear, the fear of what might happen to her. “Why don’t you have a name and why do you look so different?” Saber asked finally.
The Uni sighed. “I am not just a Uni, I’m The Uni. I am the first Uni. I was created, by a young girl. It was so long ago, I have forgotten her name. She was the first human to ever come to Neopia, I was her first pet, and I was The first pet, just as she was The first owner. There were no cities when I was born, no one but my owner and I. She would ride upon my back and tangle her hands in my mane, the wind whipping at her own long black hair, whipping her words away. But, even though I can scarcely remember her, I can still remember her laugh, the way she laughed when I’d spread my wings and rise into the sky. How she loved when I flew with her on my back. She told me once that she felt free when I flew her around. We were so close, we could have been the same person put into two bodies,” the Uni explained. Her eyes darkened. “But, then, she died. She was old, or getting older, and wanted to spend time with her family before she died. She had come on less and less as she grew older. As Neopia grew more populated, we were not the only ones either. Cities were being formed; she had kids, married, and then one day, she just... died. I knew she had died for she would always come on at least once a day, if only for a few minutes. But, she didn’t come on that day. By then, Neopia Central was built, though it wasn’t as grand as it is now. The Pound officers came after me, but I eluded them. I began living life as a wild pet, as I had done since the day I was created. I do not know why Unis look different these days, but that is why I look different; I was The first Uni, my owner was The first owner. She died, but I remained, as all pets must do someday.” Saber stared in silence at the Uni. She seemed to be thinking, then she shook her head as if she had decided something.
“I look different for a different reason,” Saber said. “I used to be a normal blue Kougress, but then... I was captured. The people here, they... they test on Neopets. They want to combine Neopets, make two Neopets joined together. Such as, a Uni with paws and no horn, Lupe ears and tail instead of the normal features. Sick, really. They haven’t succeeded in any of that, but they are able to combine two paint colors together. I was given the long teeth of a Tyrannian Kougra. I’m lucky. Other pets have been given worse.” The Uni stood, shocked, at what the humans were doing.
“How can they do that and not think of the pet’s feelings?” the Uni exclaimed. She was growing less calm. It was not panic that caused her to raise her voice, but fury.
“Where humans come from, animals--- which are like Neopets--- don’t have the same brains as Neopets. They figure we must be like the animals from their home,” Saber replied. She paused, then said, “Would you like a name?”
The Uni stared at the Kougress. “I... I don’t know,” she said. “I think my owner gave me one, but I don’t remember it.” She closed her eyes for a moment and searched her memories. There were so many of them, but as she came to the ones where she was first born, one word echoed through her mind, spoken by her owner: Shadowhorn. The Uni opened her eyes. “I do have a name,” she said, smiling slightly. “Shadowhorn.”
“It fits you,” Saber said appreciatively. Shadowhorn dipped her head again. Then, she heard the sound of a door open. She turned and saw three humans entering the room in which all the Neopets were kept in cages. In the hands of one of the humans, a large man, was a halter made specifically for Unis. He came up to Shadowhorn and Saber’s cage and began unlocking the cage door. Shadowhorn retreated to the back of the cage and pointed her horn at the man threateningly. He eyed the horn, but kept heading for Shadowhorn. Saber was getting ready to jump at the man when one of the other humans, another man, threw a rope around her neck. As she was distracted by the other man, a woman, the last human that came in, put a specialized muzzle over Saber’s mouth and put another rope on her neck. Shadowhorn was distracted by Saber and the first man moved close enough and slipped the halter over her head, buckling it quickly. Shadowhorn whinnied in fury, but she couldn’t do anything with the cage so small. The first man clipped a rope onto the halter and led Shadowhorn out of the cage, Saber being dragged behind. Saber’s eyes were filled with fear. Shadowhorn turned her head and gazed calmly into Saber’s eyes, trying to tell her it would be okay. The man yanked on Shadowhorn’s rope and the Uni reared up. The rope slipped through the man’s hand and he fell onto the floor, dangerously close to Shadowhorn’s hooves. The Uni came back down and kicked out with her back legs, hitting both the man and woman behind her in the stomach. They lay on the ground, the wind knocked out of them. Taking advantage of the moment, Shadowhorn used her horn to cut the straps of the muzzle and cut the ropes around Saber’s neck. Saber used her claw to cut the leather halter, then turned to the man who had been holding Shadowhorn’s rope. He had stood up.
Shadowhorn reared and whinnied angrily. Her hooves struck out at the man, missing his head by millimeters. She was not going to kill him, but she did want to do damage. Saber jumped at the man, landing on top of him and pushing him to the ground. She swiped at his head with her claws and knocked him unconscious, leaving some bloody gashes. The two pets stood silent for a moment, when suddenly, Shadowhorn saw the woman coming up behind her. She turned, but it was too late. The woman was holding a sword, and she slashed Shadowhorn’s right shoulder. The Uni whinnied, half in pain, half in anger. Blood dripped from the deep gash, and Shadowhorn’s leg buckled beneath her. She fell to the ground. Saber growled angrily and jumped at the woman. With the speed naturally given to a Kougra, Saber avoided the sword slashes and finally jumped on the woman. Her head collided hard with the ground and she was knocked unconscious. The other man lay motionless on the floor, not daring to get up and face the same fate as his two companions. Saber left him alone and went to Shadowhorn.
“Are you okay?” she asked the Uni. Shadowhorn looked up and smiled.
“I’ll be alright,” she said. “It’ll heal.” As she said those words, the gash closed up and it stopped bleeding. A faint scar was there, only visible up close.
“Wow, how did you do that?” Saber asked in amazement. Shadowhorn smiled.
“I was born with a gift. I don’t know the extent of my powers, but it’s cool,” Shadowhorn laughed.
“Where are you going now?” Saber asked. “Back to the wild?”
“Yes. It has been, and always will be, my home,” Shadowhorn replied.
“I’m going to see if I can find a new owner, though with these teeth, it’ll be hard,” Saber said. “I wish I was faerie. Then I could fly and be wanted by owners.”
Shadowhorn smiled. “You’ll get an owner,” she said confidently. “Let’s free these other pets.” Shadowhorn went to the cages and used her horn to unlock them. There was another door in the Cage room slightly hidden by boxes, and Shadowhorn opened it, revealing the Endless Plains. In the distance was Neopia Central. Shadowhorn and Saber were the last two pets to leave. They shut the door behind them.
“When I get back to Neopia Central, I’ll take the police here,” Saber said. Shadowhorn nodded.
“I guess this is goodbye, then,” she said. Saber nodded.
“Goodbye,” the blue Kougress said. Shadowhorn dipped her head, but instead of her horn touching the ground, the tip of her horn touched Saber’s head. The long fangs disappeared, and Saber changed colors. Her fur turned purple, her stripes turned dark purple, and large purple wings sprouted from her back. Saber’s eyes were closed the whole time. Shadow stepped back, but Saber’s eyes were still closed. Shadowhorn took off galloping soundlessly, and soon, she disappeared from sight. Saber lifted up her head to say thank you, but Shadowhorn was already gone. Though Saber couldn’t see her, Shadowhorn could see the now faerie Kougress. She reared up and whinnied. That was her goodbye.
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