The Alphas of Jamaa stood grim-faced, standing by a prison cell door. Peck, the bunny alpha, had many parts of her body bandaged, and she was limping as she walked. The other alphas stared at the creature inside, paws bound with chains.

Liza, the panda alpha, spoke at last. “You have shamed Jamaa, and shamed the alphas ourselves. What have you got to say for yourself?”

Chains clanked as the creature struggled to its paws. He was revealed to be a cheetah, sleek-pelted and thin, with silver-spotted black fur grazed with scars. Amber eyes blazed with hatred at the alphas.

“I never intended to hurt anyone,” he said, his voice calm and steady. But his voice rose with a growl as he remarked, “My creation could have saved every Jammer. Could’ve even made them better. But no, you deny my wishes to help, and chain me. How is that acceptable?”

Liza retorted, “Doctor Fieryclaws, you are a disgrace. A disgrace to Jamaa, to the alphas, to every living Jammer!”

Fieryclaws snarled and argued, “My creation could have helped you!”

“It’s done nothing but cause grief and pain!”

The cheetah calmly replied, “What I did was out of the justice and goodwill in my heart, Liza.” Liza banged her staff on the floor with frustration. “You will stay here for the rest of your life, Fieryclaws. You may think this is a harsh punishment, but the grievous crimes you have commited are too horrid to be forgiven.”

Then Liza turned away, and with the other alphas following her, she opened the door to leave. Suddenly, Fieryclaws emitted a strange combination of noises. Screeches, yowls, growls, and snarls pierced the ears of the alphas. As Liza turned, she saw the cheetah’s fur blaze a deathly dark purple. It spread from his chest to the rest of his body, until his entire pelt was coated in lurid palatinate purple mixed with black.

Liza stared with horror as his claws and teeth increased in size; his amber eyes slowly faded into dark blackish-purple.

Cosmo, the koala alpha, said, “Wh-what is he?!” The other alphas’ eyes widened as the cheetah wriggled his way out of the chains, electric currents crackling like lightning around him. He released a vicious hiss that sent Peck hiding behind the tiger Sir Gilbert. The cheetah started to scratch the metal jail bars with his claws. Liza groaned and buried her head in her her paws.

“I’m sorry, my friends, I should have told you when I found out…”

“Found out what?” Greely the wolf demanded.

“I should have told you the consequences of Fieryclaws’ potion…”

“What is he?!” Peck yelled at her.

After glancing again at the horrible beast the cheetah had become, Liza turned to her friends.

“He is a Phantom Shifter.”

To be continued...