Arctic Emotions.


(Disclaimer: There is a bit of gore as shown by the tags. It isn’t anything too descriptive, but I thought I’d give this warning out anyway.)

It was a cold, unforgiving day. Not that every other day isn’t in one of the most hostile environments known to man. The Arctic. Only the most dedicated animals, or in this case, Chimeras live here. Yes, Chimera’s. Researchers who would eventually come to be known as the ‘Crux of Evolution’ extract DNA from animals, plants, fungi, and even protists and monerans. All in the pursuit of human enhancements. However, while many researchers simply wish to benefit humanity, their efforts would often bring unforeseen consequences.

Implanting foreign DNA into humans doesn’t lead to immediate benefits. Implant too little, and the changes would be negligible, or outright ignored. Too much results in debilitating mutational growth. It took years of trial and error before reaching a sweet spot in their research using animal DNA. These Chimera would have some physical features of their animal counterparts, like wings in place of arms, or digitigrade legs.

However, these came with setbacks.

The mental changes had dire effects on the human psyche. Some would revert to their primal urges, while others would succumb to animal instincts. In short, they would have human forms, but act no differently from their animal counterparts.

Some animals domesticated by humans like Cows, Chickens, and more famously, Cats and Dogs, have learned to speak human language. Animals who possess high intelligence like crows have integrated into modern society seamlessly. In these situations through experimentation, it was documented that these Chimera’s are biologically compatible with humans. Chimera who bred with humans had a higher capacity for learning. Even if their animal counterparts were considered untamable, those born under those circumstances could be domesticated.

While the prospect of domesticating wild Chimera to modern society was tempting for many, others wanted to preserve the Chimera’s interactions with their animal counterparts. So laws were put in place to keep their numbers diverse.

One group that follows those laws is researchers from the North Pole Station. They follow a colony of Emperor Penguins with chimera counterparts in their group.

It would normally be impossible for Emperor Penguins, let alone all other Penguins to migrate to the opposite end of the globe. Why would they be in the North Pole?

The reason they moved away was due to competition. As Chimeric counterparts of several Penguin species rose in South Antarctica, the territories Emperor Penguins once frequented were seized by other Penguin species. Left with little land to roam as the largest of the Penguins, they left their familiar home and migrated to the North Pole with the help of Arctic researchers willing to transfer them there.

About two dozen in number, they live and follow the same day-to-day routine as their animal counterparts. And today was particularly special as a newborn penguin joined the family.

Having hatched a few months ago, the chick was confirmed to be female. Due to their human-like bodies, they do not have a pouch under their waist to keep their chicks warm. Instead, they use their incredibly dense, waterproof feathers. Using their flightless wings, they cover their chicks with their arms to keep them warm. Watching him feed his chick the same way their animal counterparts did was hard to stomach for the researchers. The mother soon returns with the other females to feed their starving chicks while switching shifts with their partners. Watching on with great interest, the mother penguin holds her daughter lovingly in her arms.

Due to their resemblance to humans, it was much easier to read the emotions. Smiling at one another, the researchers concluded they find joy in one another’s company. This makes them wonder if their animal counterparts show the same emotions as their chimeric counterparts.

To see a Chimera express emotions. To the researchers following them, cataloging such interactions is a priceless experience.

However, not all moments are wholesome and sweet.

Just as these Chimera share the benefits of their animal counterparts, they also share their woes.

Predators seek every opportunity presented to them. And one such predator, the Giant Petrel, is no exception. While the animal counterparts are no threat to the Chimera, the same couldn’t be said for Chimera counterparts.

Sharing their animal counterparts’ cruelty, the Giant Petrels show no mercy to those they hunt. What they lack in a sharp beak, they more than makeup for their evolved talons and razor-sharp teeth. Like their animal counterparts, the Harpy Petrel’s eyes seem devoid of mercy. Unchanging and undeterred by the cries of their prey, they devour their prey without pause. Often while they’re still alive.

Researchers at first figured Chimeric predators would develop empathy or hesitate to kill other Chimera if they saw the look of fear or pain in their prey’s faces. But, they never found such predators that carried empathy or mercy. Petrels were no different. Whether animals or Chimera, they don’t discriminate.

Why are there Giant Petrels here in the Arctic? They typically fly around the lowest parts of the southern hemisphere. It baffled researchers until they realized the birds had adapted and migrated to the northern hemisphere to follow their favorite prey.

The Chimera Petrel managed to spot the colony of Emperor Penguins. Along with a flock of animal Petrels, the Petrel’s appearance makes the Emperor Penguins panic. Desperate to save themselves and their young, the group scatters about.

Unfortunately for them, Petrels were cunning hunters. Taking advantage of its increased intelligence, it spotted the youngest of the Penguins in the group and chased after it.

While the mother and father tried to defend their young chick, they were no match for the Petrel’s sharp talons. It cleverly aims for the parent’s legs to cripple them.

“Wh-why are we just watching this?!” Speaking aloud was one of the recruits of the research team observing the penguins. Young and naive compared to his colleagues, he nearly sprung into action when one of the more experienced ones stopped him.

“Don’t be stupid! That Petrel is over eight feet tall! With those talons of her, she could rip you apart!”

The veterans knew the danger Chimera Petrels posed. With their increased size and strength, they were opportunistic hunters. If they recklessly show themselves to a hungry Petrel, the Petrel would not hesitate to attack and eat them.

“You know damn well what you signed up for, right? No matter what you see, you can’t interfere! We have to let natural selection take its course to keep the ecosystem balanced. Including their chimeric counterparts!”

As mandated by law, a researcher cannot interfere with wild Chimera due to the possibility of an ecological breakdown.

For example, if a human were to interact with and raise a Chimera Tiger, the Tiger would adopt human intelligence. While innocent in theory, the Tiger could gain human knowledge while retaining their predatory instincts. Chimeric Tigers are much faster and stronger than the average human. Without firearms, they’re defenseless against them.

“I know that! But, this is just…” While the researchers argued, the Petrel cornered the chick. Barely three feet tall, she was small enough for the Petrel to fly away with. And that’s exactly what she did. “Ah, She flew away!” With her talons embedded deeply into the chick’s shoulders, all the chick could do was scream in agony. Her screams sounded eerily human. To the researchers, her screams dug deeply into their hearts as even the most hardened researcher there couldn’t help but cover his ears. They didn’t have to hear her for long as her screams faded in the distance.

Away from the prying eyes of the researchers, the Petrel pays no mind to the chick’s cries. Finding a spot to land, she drops the hapless chick to the ground.

“W-wank!” Reeling in pain, the chick puts her flippers on her wounded shoulder in a vain attempt to ease her pain. Staring back at her assailant, the chick felt a chill more powerful than the arctic winds itself.

Devoid of mercy, the Petrel Harpy approaches the chick. Its hunger drove it onward, it would not wait for the chick to die. It will go after the softest part of the chick’s body and devour it while it’s still alive.

The chill of fear froze the chick still. She knows she’s done for. Closing her eyes, the Petrel takes this chance and lunges toward the hapless chick.

But…

“Groaaah!!!” Her hunger dulling her senses, the Petrel failed to notice a Chimeric Polar Bear running toward her. Driven by hunger, the Polar Bear lunges at the Petrel and bites her on the neck. With little effort, she bites down and crushes the Petrel’s neck, killing her instantly.

The chick didn’t dare open her eyes. The sounds of flesh tearing and bones breaking were like a prelude to what comes next. Yet, it never did. Why, the chick wondered. Curious, she mustered what little courage she had and opened her eyes.

*Crunch, tear!*

“!” Her curiosity backfires. It was brief, but the sight of the Petrel being devoured by the Polar Bear made her peep in fear. That cry of fear caught the attention of the Polar Bear as she stopped eating. “!!” Staring right at her, the Polar Bear narrowed her eyes. “!!!” Unable to move a muscle, the chick stares at the Polar Bear dead in the eyes.

Unbeknownst to the chick, the Polar Bear that conveniently saved her felt an odd inclination to protect the chick. The thought alone should’ve been unprecedented, yet the cowering, small figure before her triggered her maternal instinct into overdrive.

Two factors were key to this unusual outcome. The first was this Polar Bear had recently lost her cub. Weakened by hunger, a pack of Wolves harassed her while a Chimera Wolf lunged at her cub. Taking the cub away, the Wolves proved too quick for her. This put the mother into a depressive rut.

Another factor was all thanks to their human-like appearance. Animals typically socialize with their kind. However, Chimeras are different. No matter what animal they’re based on, a Chimera will always share human traits. The most prominent of which would be their faces.

With these two factors coming into play, the Polar Bear relaxed her stare before slowly taking a knee.

Confused, the chick remained cautious as she watched the Polar Bear closely for any signs of aggression. She waited and waited. But it never came. Instead, the oppressing chill the arctic winds carried took its toll on her. Her down just wasn’t enough to keep her warm. Seeing the chick shivering, the Polar Bear was reminded of the time her cub was shivering.

Without hesitation, the Polar Bear pulls the chick into her arms for warmth. The chick panics at first. Crying aloud while struggling in the Polar Bear’s arms, her fruitless attempt to escape starts to fade as the Polar Bear’s warmth permeates her body.

Unperturbed by the blood coating her furry arms, the chick overwhelmed by everything that has happened prior falls asleep in the Polar Bear’s arms.

____________________

Cradling the Penguin Chick close to her chest with one arm, the Polar Bear drags what was left of the Petrel she attacked with the other. It didn’t take long for hunger to set for the chick, forcing her to wake up.

“Wank…” Blinking for a few seconds, she looks up and sees the Polar Bear who saved her. She doesn’t remember how she ended up in this situation initially. It wasn’t until the sight of the Polar Bear’s blood-stained lips and chest did she remember. “Wank!” With a push of her flippers, the Polar Bear, taken by surprise, lets go of her.

Again, fear sets in as the chick recollects what had happened prior. She wanted to run. But she knew it wouldn’t do any good.

Meanwhile, the Polar Bear looked at the chick with concern in her eyes. From her point of view, the chick staring in confusion and fear hurt her. Why is she scared, she wondered. Maybe if she embraced her like before, she’d calm down again.

Letting out a soft chuff, she showed no aggression toward her before she got on her knees. She lays her huge, blood-soaked paws upward as a sign of peace.

The Chick, unfamiliar with the Polar Bear’s gesture didn’t know what to do. What was happening? Should she trust her? Before she could weigh her options, another crisis distracts her.

*Growl*

Holding her stomach in pain, the chick was clearly hungry. The Polar Bear noticing her cries tries to help her by tearing a wing off the Petrel she killed and offering it to her.

Staring at the severed wing, the chick reels in fear. Not the reaction the Polar Bear expected. Why won’t she take it? Her cub would’ve taken it without a second thought. Was she sick? Could she be inept? The Polar Bear was lost on what to do until it saw the chick’s mouth.

She lacked the sharp teeth needed to tear flesh. So how could she eat? That’s when her intellect came in handy. She’s part human. It didn’t take much thinking to figure out a solution.

*Crunch, Tear!*

“Wank?” Tearing chunks of meat from the Petrel, the Polar Bear chews it continuously until it turns to gooey mush.

“…” Letting out a soft chuff, she slowly approaches the chick before spitting out the chewed chunk of flesh.

Staring at it, the chick doesn’t recognize it as food. It was red and smelled off. However, she did recognize the gesture the Polar Bear was trying to portray. Even if the meat came from what was once the same predator that tried to kill her, hunger drove her thoughts away before scooping the chunk of meat and eating it.

Pleased with herself, the Polar Bear tore more chunks of meat for the Penguin Chick to eat, and she ate and ate until she couldn’t eat anymore.

After filling her belly, the chick looks back at the Polar Bear. With a soft smile, she left her arms open for her. This was another gesture she recognized now that she isn’t gripped with fear. Despite how much taller the Polar Bear was compared to her, she saw the same, welcoming arms her mother or father kept her warm with. Yearning to feel that warmth, she approaches the Polar Bear until she is within arms reach.

Gently cradling her, the Polar Bear smiles and licks the chick’s face clean. It was yet another familiar gesture, thinking she was being preened.

Despite how different she was from her, the Polar Bear fed her, kept her warm, and groomed her. To her, she was like family now.

With the chick’s trust earned, the Polar Bear continued her trek through the Arctic with her new daughter.

____________________

Four years have passed since the Polar Bear Mother took an Emperor Penguin Chick as her own. Compared to their animal counterparts, Chimera age slower or faster depending on the animal counterpart they’re based on.

For Chimeric Polar Bears, their lifespans average between forty to sixty years. Emperor Penguins are about thirty-five to fifty.

So, while it was odd compared to their animal counterparts, Chimera often progressed through their instinctual cycles for longer periods.

And so, the Polar Bear that took the Emperor Penguin Chick as one of her own had steadily grown. Their unprecedented bond grew stronger due to time and their mutual human features. The Penguin had grown large enough to walk on her own. At her age, she was in her late teens. She could join a new group of Emperor Penguins since she’s a social animal. But, she refused to do so. She chose to stay with her adoptive mother. She’s an enigma of her species.

The Polar Bear mother was another anomaly. Rather than chase her Penguin daughter away, she became even more protective of her. Standing over ten feet tall, hardly any predators were stupid enough to attack her daughter. Ever vigilant, hardly a moment passed where the two were apart for long.

However, there were times when she could not keep up with her daughter. One of those cases was during hunts. Specifically, ones underwater. Now that she has molted her down and grown real feathers, she’s ready to hunt for herself. At times, she’d get carried away and leave her mother behind.

Polar Bears are great swimmers in their own right. But they are not as agile, nor can they dive underwater as deeply as an Emperor Penguin. Driven by maternal instincts and emotional love from her human genetics, the Polar Bear would circle the area where her daughter hunts until she came back up.

The time it took for her daughter to surface varied. Sometimes, it’d take only ten minutes. The longest she had to wait was an hour and a half. In those cases, she’d scold her daughter by growling in anger. She never made a move to bite or paw at her. Instead, her expression of anger and worry was enough to let her daughter know she was in trouble. With how long she kept her mother waiting, perhaps she would get into trouble again.

But not this time. For trouble came to her daughter.

Propelling out of the water fifteen feet away from where she initially dove, she ran toward her mother scared for her life. When the two embraced one another, her mother noticed a red stain on her daughter’s right flipper. That’s when another jumped out of the same spot as her daughter. The assailant was a hungry Leopard Seal.

Like the Emperor Penguins, some Leopard Seals migrated to the Arctic after competition for food in the Antarctic became fierce.

Going beyond her instinct to hunt, the Polar Bear rushed toward the Leopard seal to kill it. Upon laying eyes on the pursuing mother, the Leopard Seal quickly dove back into the water to escape.

The seal got lucky. She’s done worse to attackers who hurt her daughter for less. Thankfully, the bite wound her daughter suffered was shallow. With a bit of time and some food, it would heal.

This place was not safe. It’s time to move on.

Based on the colder-than-average winds, the mother could tell a Blizzard was abound. They need to shelter themselves before it strikes.

Using her paws, she digs a temporary shelter for them to crawl into.

“Wank…” Holding her right flipper in pain, the best her mother could do to ease her pain was to lick the wound clean.

Out of context, what she was doing was completely unorthodox. One would think tasting an Emperor Penguin’s blood would elicit hunger. It didn’t help that It’s been three days since they last ate too. Even then, the pained expression on her daughter’s face made her forget all about her hunger. She was more concerned with easing her daughter’s pain.

As the Blizzard they sheltered for comes, she hugs her daughter close to keep each other warm.

Feeling her mother’s warmth and the love she got from having her wound tended to, she grew ever reliant on her mother’s affection. Safe and secure in one another’s arms, they fall asleep together.

____________________

The two awaken several hours later after the blizzard had passed. It was time for the two to move on. They still haven’t eaten after all.

Following her mother closely, she’d occasionally sniff the air for any signs of prey. The recent blizzard had made it hard to track any.

Polar Bears can typically go for months without food. But, that’s only the case for their animal counterparts. She can’t last as long without food since she’s part human. And her daughter knows that.

When they find another watering hole dug out by a seal, her Penguin daughter steps into action and dives for food.

Determined to find food, she doubles her efforts and swims back up whenever she catches a fish or two. In no time, she managed to grab all manners of fish from Mackeral to Anchovies.

Staring at the fish her Penguin daughter caught for them, her daughter insists she eat the Mackeral by handing them to her. Gulping in hunger, she looks back at her daughter for affirmation.

“Wank!” Smiling at her starving mother, she gratefully smiled back at her before her mom started eating. It didn’t take long for her mother to finish the fish she caught for her. It was enough to stave off the hunger pangs plaguing her. But it was not enough to satisfy her.

As for the Penguin, the fish she caught for herself were enough to keep her half full. At this point, she was satisfied, but she knew her mother needed more food than that. Now that she’d eaten some, she had the energy for a second dive.

With hunger no longer distracting her, the Polar Bear Mother returned to her worried state. Pacing back and forth around the watering hole, she wondered if another Leopard Seal would attempt to attack her daughter. If one did come, she would be ready and sufficiently fed.

Thankfully, an assailant never came. Instead, her daughter returns with a bigger haul of fish including Mullet fish. Feasting away, the two fill their bellies with fish.

However, their feast was soon interrupted by an ominous howl.

“Awoooo…” She hadn’t picked up their scent because her nose was buried deep in fish, but the moment the Polar Bear heard an all too familiar howl, she immediately went on high alert.

“Wank?” Caught off-guard by her mother’s sudden embrace, her Penguin daughter didn’t have as sensitive hearing as her mother. It wasn’t until they were within her line of sight that she clutched onto her mother tightly.

“Grr…” Gritting her teeth, her Mother was even more frightening to look at compared to the last time they were attacked. Her aggression wasn’t just there to scare off their attackers. With memories of her cub dying at the hands of the Wolves, the Polar Bear is angry on a personal level. If it wasn’t for her protective nature, she would’ve rushed over with killing intent.

“…” Circling the Polar Bear mother and Penguin daughter, the Wolve’s numbers were a dozen strong with one Chimera Wolf as their Alpha.

“Grr?” This Alpha. It looked familiar to the Polar Bear. She thought to herself ‘It couldn’t be!’ But yes, it was her. She’d never forget the face of the one who murdered her cub. Bearing the same fangs that took her cub’s life, the idea or any semblance of retreat was thrown out of the window. If the Alpha were bold enough to make a move, she would not hesitate to bite down on her neck and rip her head off.

“…” Paying more attention to the Wolves under the Alpha’s command, they had already surrounded the two when the Alpha and the Polar Bear recognized each other. Though, while her mother looked at the Alpha with nothing but disdain and hate in her eyes, the Penguin saw something different.

Her arms were skinny. Every careful step she took was accompanied by uncontrollable shaking. From the dilapidated state of her white fur, the Penguin saw the Alpha was in dire constraints. And she was right. The Alpha wouldn’t even challenge the idea of attacking a recently fed Polar Bear.

She led her pack to surround them for the fish the Penguin had caught. With wordless orders, The Alpha rallies the pack to steal any fish they can while she deals with the Polar Bear.

“Awwooo!” Acting as their signal to strike, the Alpha howls before charging at the Polar Bear.

“Grraaahh!” Letting out a murderous snarl, the Polar Bear keeps her daughter within arm’s reach before swiping at the Alpha with her right paw.

“Rah!” Narrowly dodging the Polar Bear’s first strike, the Alpha retaliates by swiping with her paw.

“Grrr…” While sharp, her claws did not cut deeply enough to deter the revenge-driven mother. The injury only served to drive her into a frenzied state more than she already was.

Though she was hungry and weakened, the Alpha’s wit as a human and her speed as a Wolf allowed her to avoid the Polar Bear’s attacks.

While distracted, the wolves did as instructed. Stealing the fish one at a time, they’ve secured enough where the group could leave.

However…

“Grrr…” One defector, driven mad by hunger, went against the Alpha’s orders and wanted something more substantial. Why go after small fishes that would barely feed them when there was a plump, delicious Emperor Penguin right there? Without thinking, it lunges forward with jaws primed for her daughter’s neck.

Hearing the wolf coming for them, the Polar Bear turns to her daughter’s attacker and swipes at it with her paw.

*Wack!*

With a single paw strike, the over-eager wolf was sent flying. Hit right on its chest, the bleeding streak left behind by the Polar Bear’s claws had the wolf reeling in pain.

“Gah!” Noticing one of her pack mates getting hurt, the Alpha disregards her safety and shields her injured pack mate.

“Rarrr! Graarrr!” There was no time for scolding. By her order, the wolves were ordered to retreat while she dealt with the Polar Bear. She looks back to her pack mates to make sure they followed orders. Watching them fade into the distance, she almost felt relieved before hearing a blood-curdling roar.

“GRAAAHHH!!!” Memories of her cub taken away by the same wolves plagued her mind. The thought of any harm coming to her Penguin daughter had pushed her beyond rational. She bites down on the Alpha’s right arm and flails around like she weighs nothing. She slams the Alpha twice to the ground before tossing her fifteen feet across.

“…gg…rr…” Hungry, weakened, and battered, the right arm the Alpha held onto in agonizing pain made escape all but impossible. Judging from the Polar Bear mother’s face, she would face a fate worse than death.

Driven by revenge, her mother was griefed with the pain of losing her first cub so deeply that she left her side. She knows her mother attacked to defend her. But now that the Alpha was defeated and clutching her right arm in pain, she was no longer a threat. The rest of the Wolves are gone too. Most of the fish she had caught for her mother and herself were the only things they lost. They could always hunt for more.

Despite that, the Polar Bear was far from finished. She had no intention of leaving the Alpha alive. She wants to tear her limb from limb for what she did to her cub.

Then…

“Arf! Arf!” Sprinting on all fours, another Chimera Wolf stands between the Alpha and the Polar Bear. “Grr…” Small and shaking feverishly, what stood between the Alpha and the Polar Bear was nothing more than a mere pup. He couldn’t have been older than eight or nine. “Rr…arf…” Staring down at the Polar Bear, it took all his willpower not to run. Every fiber of his being screamed to him that he’d die should he get in her way.

The Alpha’s orders are absolute. So why did a pup of all things defy her orders? The reason the pup mustered the courage to stand was because this pup was the Alpha’s son.

The young pup had just developed his canines. So, he was inexperienced and had never killed prey on his own. He knew he had no chance to fend the angry Polar Bear off. Regardless, he stood his ground. Unfettered by his intervention, the Polar Bear lets out another roar.

“Grr…rraAAAHHH!!!” Before she could swipe at the pup, her Penguin daughter tackled her, pushing her away. “Grah?!” Falling on her back, her daughter lays on top of her in an attempt to stop her. ‘Why would she get in the way?’ The Polar Bear wondered.

“Wank, Wank!” From a contextual standpoint, it made no sense for the Penguin to stop her mother. What drove her to do so was drawn from her human half. She felt that if her mother had gone through with killing the two Wolves, she’d cross a line she’d never come back from.

With how tightly her daughter was hugging her, she at least knew that her daughter was telling her to stop. Seeing this, the fury raging inside her had subsided. That said, she still felt they were in danger.

“Rr…grah.” Pushing her daughter off, she approaches the two Wolves. If she kills them, then they’ll have food for days. They can fill their bellies without worry.

Survival of the fittest. An Ironclad rule all animals follow. Logic dictates that killing them would’ve been the best solution for her and her daughter.

At least, that’s the case if she were purely animalistic. She’s a Chimeric Polar Bear. She’s not just an animal. She’s part human with the ability to feel compassion and love. And in this case, Empathy.

Despite her injury, the Alpha shields her pup by hugging him close to her chest with her left arm. She could barely muster the strength to lift her right arm in self-defense. Looking down at her cowering pup, she licks his cheek to reassure him. Her eagerness to steal from the Polar Bear led them to this situation.

Recognizing the Alpha’s actions as a mother’s love for her child, the Polar Bear briefly saw herself and her cub in the place of the Alpha mother and her pup. Why did she see herself in those two? She looks nothing like them.

“Wank!” Before she could think of why, she heard her daughter cry out to her. Yes, her daughter. She doesn’t look anything like her or her cub either. So why did she take her in? The fact she questioned her choices was a clear sign of her humanity. Thanks to that, the Polar Bear felt pity for the two Wolves. The mother was too injured to fight, and her pup was too small to be a threat.

“…” Turning back to the two Wolves, she glares at them before walking to where her daughter is. Ever cautious, the Alpha mother didn’t dare take her eyes off the Polar Bear. ‘What is she doing? Is she plotting something?’ The Alpha wondered. It seemed like the Polar Bear and the Penguin were communicating something to each other. That’s when the Penguin smiles before handing the Polar Bear the last three fish she had caught.

Making her way back to the two Wolves, the Polar Bear glares at her cub’s killer one last time. Could she ever forgive the Wolf for killing her Cub? Probably not. Her human emotions still confuse her. She didn’t know why she followed these emotional impulses. It would be smarter to kill the two Wolves here and now. That way, they won’t be a threat to her daughter later.

Still, if not for these emotions manifesting in her, she probably would’ve been dead by now. Not because she’d be starving, but because she would’ve lost the will to live after losing her cub. Taking a different species from her entirely as her own gave her a purpose that she thought she lost.

No, not just purpose.

Joy. She found joy in living. Her Penguin daughter feels the same way.

If she kills these two Wolves, she’d be robbing them of the same purpose.

In a shocking move to the two Wolves, the Polar Bear tosses the fish she was holding to them.

“Arf?” Baffled didn’t begin to describe it. Why would she toss the last source of food she had right in front of them? She exchanged stares with the Polar Bear. She knows who she is. There was no mistaking the malice and hatred in the Polar Bear’s eyes when they saw each other. Compared to the stare the Polar Bear gave her before, the look the Polar Bear’s eye now was calm.

“Grah…” Letting out a low chuff, the Polar Bear turns her back on the two Wolves. Returning to her daughter’s side, the Polar Bear and the Penguin leave the area. With the danger gone, she relaxes her grip around her pup before collapsing from exhaustion.

“Arf! Arf!” Nudging his nose against her face, the pup helps his mother by licking at her bite wound. It was all he knew being as young and inexperienced as he is.

“…” Now that mother’s in a relaxed state, she noticed the bite wound on her right arm wasn’t as deep as she thought it was. With a bit of time, the wound would heal on its own. The pain was still there, but there was something else that was bothering her.

*Growl*

The sound of her stomach growling from hunger caught her pup’s attention. He knows the sound means his mother’s hungry. With the fish the Polar Bear had tossed to them, he brought it close to his mother’s mouth so she could eat.

“Argh! *Snarf*” It wasn’t much, but the fish she ate was enough to quench the rumbling in her belly. She was far from satisfied, but at least she wasn’t wasting away like before.

“Arf! Arf!” Relieved to see his mother stand again, her pup barks in glee. Seeing him unharmed and smiling made her smile in turn.

“…” She didn’t understand it herself. But, if she ever crosses paths with those two again, she’d make a mental note to avoid them. Maybe, even pay them back for the mercy they showed them in some way.

____________________

Another four years pass. Now fully grown, the Emperor Penguin finds herself fighting against two different instincts.

Now that she’s of age, her drive to find others of her kind and propagate swell. She’s also grown out of her dependence on her mother figure. But, her human side urges her to stay with her mother.

At the equivalent age of a fifty-five-year-old in human years, her Polar Bear mother is not as spry as she used to be. Her daughter ends up catching more food for them to eat since she can’t hunt down prey as effectively as she used to.

Because of that, she couldn’t bring herself to leave her adoptive mother’s side. If she did, her mother might starve.

Moving away from their previous den, they ran into another colony of Emperor Penguins. But this wasn’t just any colony.

“Wank?” She recognized two of the Chimera Emperor penguins in that group. Yes, she was certain of it. Those two were her parents. “Wank! Wank!” Yelling out to them, the two penguins turn around and see their daughter calling out to them.

“?” At first, the two turn to each other and turn their heads in confusion. Who was this Penguin? The fact she smiled and called out more feverishly after taking notice of her confused them even more.

And, to top it all off…

“Hmm…what’s the hell?” While some members have changed, the same group of researchers from over eight years ago were also there. The researcher who took notice of the commotion was none other than the recruit. Now that he has years of experience, he watches over the colony like his retired seniors did as the chief. “Here, give me the binoculars.” Motioning his right hand, a fellow researcher handed him a pair. “Hmm…ah! That’s another Emperor Penguin!”

“Wank! Wank!” Excitement overwhelms the lost Penguin. After eight years, she found her colony again. What’s more, the colony had grown in size. There were even male Chimera Penguins for her to socialize with. Finally, she could live amongst her kind. Before she could make the first step toward them, she noticed the concerned look on her parent’s faces. Do they not recognize her? No. That wasn’t the issue.

“U-unbelievable! What’s a Chimera Polar Bear doing next to that Penguin?!” With how big she was, it’d be impossible not to notice the Chimera Polar Bear standing next to the Penguin. “H-how is that Penguin not dead yet?! Polar Bears wouldn’t hesitate to maul any prey animal they come across to shreds!” Of course, the researchers don’t know the relationship those two have. And the Emperor Penguin colony doesn’t know either. So naturally, the group stares cautiously at the Polar Bear.

“Grr…” Letting out a low growl, the Polar Bear knew if she made any sudden moves, she’d put the colony into a panic. That’s when her daughter figured out her mother was the reason for the colony’s caution. Deep in her heart, she knew why the colony was cautious, but she couldn’t see her adoptive mother that way. She was raised lovingly by her ever since she was a chick. It then occurred to her that if she were to rejoin her colony, she’d have to leave her adoptive mother behind.

“Wank…wank…” Looking back and forth between the colony and her adoptive mother, her animal instinct to return to her kind and her morality as a human collide. Could she bring herself to leave her adoptive mother of eight years behind? She knows her mother’s getting too old to hunt effectively. If she left, would her mother die out there?

On the other hand, this might be her only chance. If she goes with her adoptive mother, she might never see her colony again. She’s at the right age to mate and bear children.

She was in such a panic deciding what to do that she put her flippers on her temples and crouched. ‘Think, think!’ She thought to herself. What should she do?

Watching her struggle, her Polar Bear Mother had a feeling about what her daughter was struggling with. She was dragging her daughter down. Deep down, she knows the right place for her daughter is with the Emperor Penguin colony. Taking a deep breath, she smiles before making her mind up.

*Push* Taking her by surprise, the Polar Bear pushed her adopted Penguin daughter toward the colony.

“Wank?”

“Hrrnngg…” Letting out a gentle chuff, the Polar Bear nudges her head at the colony. She was telling her daughter to go there.

“Wank…” She stares longingly into her adoptive mother’s eyes as if to ask if she’s sure.

*Nod* Sure enough, she nods.

“…” When her daughter looked back at the colony, she thought her daughter would turn back with a smile as if to say ‘Really?! I can go?!’ And while she was smiling, tears ran down her face. Her smile quickly breaks into a frown before she tackles her adoptive mother.

“Waaahhh!!!” Taken by surprise, the Polar Bear falls to her back with her daughter’s head buried deep between her chest. Letting out her tears and crying in her mother’s embrace, the Polar Bear’s smile also fades. Hugging her daughter back, she cries with her daughter as the two make up their minds.

“…y-you guys are seeing this, right?” The researchers watching the whole ordeal were left in awe. The Chimera they’ve observed mostly followed their animal instincts. What they saw at this moment was undoubtedly a sign of human intelligence. No. Human emotions.

“Yeah. Those two are definitely crying for each other. But why? I thought that was only possible with domesticated Chimeras.” Letting their tears out, they held each other in a loving embrace for what felt like ages. The colony of Chimeric Penguins watching them lowered their guard. They understood from the two’s emotional display that they were crying. Yes. The danger they once felt had subsided completely upon seeing the Polar Bear crying and hugging her daughter lovingly.

Her real parents were the most shocked. They could tell right away the affection the two had for each other was genuine. Though the two couldn’t talk, they felt gratitude for the Polar Bear that looked after their daughter who they thought was dead after the Chimera Petrel took their daughter away.

When the two finally felt it was time to stop, her daughter made her move and headed toward the colony. When she was close enough, the first of the Penguins to welcome her back were her parents.

“Wank! Wank!” The colony got rowdy as a member returned to them. While happy to be back, she turned to where her Polar Bear mother stood.

With one last smile, she turned around and left in the opposite direction of the colony.

“Uh…chief Harvy. What did we just witness?” He was still processing what he had witnessed. Those displays of affection and love, was it all real? Whether he was hallucinating or not, he made up his mind there and then.

“Hey. One of you split up and follow that Polar Bear. As soon as you catch up to her, tranq her and put a tracker on her.”

“Oh…uh, sure chief.” They already knew why he asked them that. As a researcher, he couldn’t afford to let those two out of their sight.

“Oh…and we’ll give those two names to distinguish them easier in the future.”

“Oh yeah, what’ll you call them?” Giving it some thought, he comes up with a name for both based on the Norwegian language.

“Let’s call the Polar Bear ‘Hvit.’ As for the Emperor Penguin, Rinne.”

____________________

In the cold Arctic, the scarcity of prey, and food, and the hostile temperatures made it a hostile environment for any animal living there.

In one of the research bases in the Arctic, Harvy, the chief of the researchers following a colony of Emperor Penguins, notices something strange.

“Hmm…Rinne? Why is she leaving her colony?” The tracker on Rinne was moving away from the colony. It was the middle of the night, so why would Rinne leave her colony? She had given birth a few months ago too. “There’s no way she would leave the colony when she’s got a baby to care for. I gotta go investigate.” At this time of night, he was one of the few people still awake in the research station. Rather than wake everyone up for something potentially trivial, Harvy left the station alone.

With a phone, a backpack with emergency provisions, and a snowmobile, Harvy makes his way to where Rinne is heading.

“…” About three years have passed after Hvit let Renne go. At this point, she was in her mid-sixties. Since she was alone and didn’t have to protect Rinne, her hunts for food were about the same as when she was with Rinne eight years ago. The abundance of seals gave her plenty to eat, though she couldn’t take down anything bigger than an adolescent at her age. Resting in one of the old dens she frequents, Hvit’s nose picks up a familiar scent.

“Grr?!” Crawling out of her den, she saw a faint silhouette of two figures. She recognized one scent, but the other was new. It did smell familiar, but also different. Before she had the time to discern the two scents, she saw the two visitors with her own eyes.

“Wank!” Waving her right flipper, Hvit couldn’t help but smile. The familiar scent she smelled was none other than Rinne. The other scent she recognized came from a small chick in Rinne’s arms. It was Rinne’s child.

“Grr…graahh!” Moving as fast as she could, Hvit spreads her arms open and hugs Rinne. The two rub their cheeks against each other. Then, with a smile, Rinne hands her son to Hvit.

“…wank?” With Rinne’s son too young to recognize Hvit as a threat, he smiles at her. The cute, innocent smile made Hvit cry tears of joy before she licked him to show affection.

“…” Watching from a safe distance, Harvy records the interaction between Hvit and Rinne as they hug one another. “Heh…I think the Chimera are finally awakening their human emotions without human intervention. I’d love to take those two for research purposes, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Leaving those two alone is the right thing to do as a ‘Human.’

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