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Skydiving Without a Parachute

by mormongirlbyu


Sarahlhyn put a colorful paw on the doorknob and opened the front door.

      "We're going to the Ray, now!" Kayla called into the house.

      Kascata looked up from what she had been doing in the dining room, a shocked look on her blue, equine face. "What? But Sarah, you look so pretty rainbow-colored."

      The Zafara looked at her Peophin sister with wide, horrified eyes, then she was out the door, saying, "Let's go. Now."

      Kayla smiled and shook her head at Sarah's retreating back. Kas winked at her owner, then went back to her work with Cloak, her ghoti, hovering over her shoulder.

     * * *

      Just as Valley_1112 was emerging out of the kitchen, her new sponderolas in vase of water until she could get them planted, she heard the front door open and looked up in time to step back, out of the way of a blur of white and gold. Artemis, her feepit, squeaked in surprise as she jumped backwards to the safety behind Val's yellow legs to avoid being run over. The door at the very end of the hall, the door to Sarah's room, was opened quickly and slammed shut, but not before Val could see that the figure was mostly white with large, feathery wings, and a strange gold hoop hovering over her head. Kayla had just shut the front door with a look of suppressed amusement on her face.

      It didn't take long for the solemn Ixi to deduce what had happened. "Am I correct in assuming that the white figure that just ran past is Sarah, no longer multihued due to the waywardness of the Laboratory Ray?"

      That caused Kayla to laugh out loud, no longer stifling her glee. "Yeah. She's been painted Christmas, of all things. You'd think she'd be glad she's not something worse, like mutant or something. She wanted to get home so bad that she tried flying but ended up crashing pretty bad. Wouldn't even let me take her to the healing faerie before we came home."

      Val looked politely confused until Kayla realized what she didn't understand. "Christmas is that holiday we celebrated last winter. Sarah now looks like an angel, but the problem with that is that angels are beings of perfect goodness, kindness, and innocence. Not exactly the impression Sarah was going for. I think she looks great, but then, who am I?" Kayla was being sarcastic, of course.

      Val smiled ever so slightly, which, for her, was laughing out loud. She went down the hall, Artemis gamboling around her hooves, but never tripping her up, to her own chambers.

     * * *

      Once in the safety of her own room, Sarah looked down at herself again and groaned. Her fur, at first mostly blue with yellow around the lower half of her face and down onto her stomach, then it had been turned multi-colored when the Ray had zapped her rainbow, but now it was mostly pristine white, the patch a gleaming gold. The spots on the ends of her ears, the fan on her tail and her spines were all a matching gold. The white, feathery wings that now grew from her back were huge and magnificent, if a little ruffled from her midair tumble. The Ray, to accommodate her new appendages, had changed, slightly, the dark blue T-shirt she always wore, though her khaki cargo pants and sturdy hiking boots remained unchanged. Sarah looked up and could see, hovering at the very edge of her vision, the golden halo.

      Han_Rosie, actually named Tumbles by the petpet Lab Ray, was a pile of soot currently and could only watch her owner as she looked at herself, thinking that of all the colors a Zafara could be, the Ray had to make her look like an angel?

      With a sigh, she reached up and pulled the ring down and opened her paw to look at it. It held still for only a second when it lifted from her paw and glided back to above her head.

      "What the-?!" She reached up again, with both paws, and pulled the halo down, keeping a good hold of it. When it made no attempt to escape, Sarah disregarded it and tossed it away onto a blue bean bag, but it never made it. Instead, it stopped in mid-flight and soared back to its airspace above Sarah's head.

      With a growl of annoyance, she was forced to ignore the thing. "That is going to get really irritating."

      Before she let herself take her customary after-Ray nap, since it was always a draining experience, Sarah dutifully went to one of the corners in her room where she was keeping a running tally of the Ray effects. Her bedroom, bathroom and weight room were all built of stone, so she didn't have any qualms about writing on the wall in chalk. Actually, her cousin, Reno390, had given her the idea of writing on her wall. Chalking up the date and her change to Christmas, she then let herself fall onto the nearest pile of bean bags, pillows and rugs, which made up most of the furniture of her room.

      "Ow! Owowow!" Forgetting about her new wings, she had fallen on top of them in a rather painful manner. Rolling over onto her side to prevent the same thing from happening again, she couldn't help but say to herself, "I'm gonna need help with these things."

      She didn't have time to think of anything else because sleep came irresistibly in seconds.

     * * *

      "Okay, Apollo, what do you think of this?" Helamaneo asked his feepit, sliding a sheet of paper over to him. The green Eyrie watched as Apollo read the scrawl that was Helam's handwriting, waiting for the verdict. Apollo put a paw down on a sentence and stuck his tongue out.

      "What's wrong with it?" Helam asked, pulling the sheet closer to himself so that he could see where Apollo was pointing. The feepit came closer and put his paw back on the offending sentence, but more specifically a section of words. "Oh, I see what you mean. Do you think I should-"

      Knock. Knock. Knock.

      "Come in!" he called automatically.

      The door opened and Helam swiveled around to see who was coming in the door.

      "Sarah?!" he exclaimed, very surprised. Of course he knew Sarah had been going to the Lab Ray, but it didn't keep him from being surprised every time she came home something new.

      She shrugged her shoulders, obviously unhappy with the change.

      Helam knew very well that if he were Kas, or even Sarah, at the moment, he could take the opportunity to make fun of Sarah, but that's not the way he was.

      "You look good, Sarah," he said, nodding. "The wings suit you."

      "Actually, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I'm having trouble with these things, and I was wondering if you could teach me how to fly." Though the words seemed easy enough to say, they were strangely difficult and came out in a tumble.

      Sarah and Helam were the most opposite residents in the house; he was quiet and secluded himself while she was daring and outgoing. She would often challenge him to wrestling matches when he would much rather be by himself. To put it shortly, Sarah got on Helam's nerves.

      But once again, he didn't make a big deal about it, knowing that it was hard enough for her as it was.

      "Okay. Let's go talk to Kayla, then we'll find someplace for flight practice."

      "Faerieland?" Sarah asked.

      "No," he answered. "Too much air traffic. The Lost Desert has some killer thermals, though."

      Sarah looked confused, asking, "What's a thermal?"

      Helam laughed and explained, "I forget sometimes how big a difference there is between a flying pet and a grounded pet. A thermal is a rising column of hot air. If you catch one of those under your wings, you can soar to the bottom of clouds without working your wings too hard. The sand in the Lost Desert radiates a lot of heat from the sun."

      All this was said as they went to the library, just a door down from Helam's room. Inside, they found Kayla sitting on Sophie's rocking chair, a book in hand.

      "Kayla," Sarah started. "Can Helam and I… go someplace?"

      Kayla looked up, slightly surprised. "Sure. Val or Kas can be the active pet for a while. Where're you going?"

      "Lost Desert," Helam replied.

      Kayla nodded and went back to her book, saying, "While you're there, can you spin the fruit machine for me?"


      As soon as they stepped out the front door, Helam announced, "First lesson: take off…"

     * * *

      The muscles around her shoulder blades were aching, begging for relief, as she had to pump her wings constantly to stay aloft.

      "Helam! How much farther? This is killing me!"

      He looked back at his sister where she was struggling above the foreboding trees of the Haunted Woods. "Hold on, Sarah! Just a little more."

      The sinister forest gave way, rather abruptly to the gleaming golden sand of the Lost Desert. Suddenly, Sarah saw Helam stop flapping, spread his wings wide, and he seemed to be lifted up on an invisible column that he circled inside.

      "Follow me!" he shouted down to her from where he had already climbed.

      Not sure exactly where she was following him, Sarah flew to where she had seen him rise and, like a hot wave, she could feel air rising around her. Spreading her wings in surprise, she felt herself lifted, effortlessly. She looked back up at her brother and noted that he was circling and so she mimicked him, tipping her body very carefully, until she achieved the angling that she wanted.

      She looked down and was quite startled to see the earth below falling away from her at a staggering rate. Looking back up, she found herself meeting Helam where the hot air could carry them no farther.

      He was grinning like a fool.

      "That, my dear sister, is a thermal," he said with a mixture of satisfaction and excitement.

      Despite the perfect chance to make fun of him for his expression, the temptation didn't seem so appealing, so instead, Sarah said with breathless awe, "That was so much better than all the flapping we had to do to get here!"

      He smiled and said, "Look, I know this is gonna sound stupid, but close your eyes. Just close them and feel the wind."

      Once again, the old reaction to be skeptical didn't feel right, so she did as he said.

      Eyes closed, it seemed like all of Sarah's other senses were jump-started. The warm air slipping through her fur, gliding through her feathers, buoying her up with effortless ease. The gentle rustle of wings, both Helam and Sarah's, whispered in her ears. The dry, dusty smell of the desert was both soothing and electrifying. When she licked her lips to wet them, she could taste the crisp cleanness of the air so high above the bodies of millions.

      When she opened her eyes again to look at Helam, his face was expectant, waiting for what she would say.

      She held her mouth open, trying to find the right words, until they came to her. "You've been able to do this since the day you were created. You don't know how lucky you are."

      He nodded, a small, content smile on his beak. "Now I do."

      They looked at each other and, for the first time in their lives, had total understanding.

      Then Helam grinned with evil anticipation. "C'mon. I'll show you how to dive."

      Sarah raised an eyebrow, suspicious. "Dive?"

     * * *

      Val was in the Living Room with Kas, watching Cloak, Artemis and Apollo playing on the cream rug in front of the brick fireplace. The twin feepits, though very different in personality, worked almost in tandem to try and catch Cloak from where she was hovering over their heads, taunting them by only a few inches. Poor Han_Rosie could do nothing except sit on the tray they used to move her from place to place and watch with envy.

      Kas was chattering away about some unimportant thing while Val only half listened, offering a noncommittal answer every once in a while. Just as Kas had started in on her tirade about how much she wanted to be painted faerie, Val heard the front door open and close, accompanied by laughter.

      "We're HOOoome!" Sarah called into the house. Val turned on her straw chair, made more comfortable with a blanket thrown over it to cover the poking stalks, and saw Helam and Sarah walk past the wide doorway of the Living Room. Helam was acting surprisingly open and talkative. Likewise, Sarah wasn't condescending, as was her usual way. Instead, they were talking animatedly with each other, not even noticing that both Val and Kas were watching them as they walked past to the stairs.

      Just as Val was about to contemplate this change, Kas looked at her sister and asked, "Sarah's been painted Christmas? Ha!"

      "I think the color has gone to her head," Val said quietly, so quietly that Kas didn't hear her.

     * * *

     The next day...

      Knock. Knock. Knock.

      "Come in!" Helam said automatically.

      The door opened, but he didn't look up right away, because he wanted to finish the sentence he was writing.

      "Hey, Helam," an unfamiliar male voice said.

      He looked up in surprise to see a well-built male Zafara, painted Christmas, leaning against the doorframe, arms folded over his chest. He was wearing a dark blue T-shirt, khaki cargo pants and brown hiking boots.

      Helam's jaw dropped and he managed to stutter out, "S-S-Sarah?!"

      The Zafara that used to be female grinned wryly, saying, "It'll be 'Lhyn' for now."

      Helam stared at his new brother, unable to think of what to say, until Lhyn broke the silence.

      "So, do you want to go skydiving? Without parachutes?"

The End

Author's note: Hope you liked it! Feel free to neomail me with comments, compliments (*crosses fingers*), and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. This is a true story, by the way. Sarah was rainbow, then Christmas, then male, but then he lost his wings to brown. You can see the rest of his changes on his petpage.

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