Tommy had always been an outcast. He’d grown up on the outskirts of a human town, and was looked down upon for being a hybrid. When he was younger, the human kids in his village who hadn’t been told to avoid him yet had marveled at the feathers growing from his misshaped arms, asking him if he could fly, because if he was a freak with wings, at least he might have something cool he can do, like soar through the skies.
“I will when I’m older!” he’d declare, proudly displaying his wings as worried parents pulled their children away.
As the years went by, Tommy learned the benefits of using his wings to increase his speed. The adults no longer shielded their children from him, because the children were old enough to avoid them himself. The ones who didn’t would chase him down, and if he got caught, he’d be lucky to escape with all his feathers intact. He learned quickly that using his wings to boost his speed was crucial if he wanted to keep them.
Many days, he’d run off to his nest, high on the side of a cliff, and would climb up to safety. Most days, he wouldn’t even leave his nest. He only ever left to buy food and books and pick up gossip as best he could, and once he made his own farm, he rarely saw another intelligent lifeform.
He spent about two years living like that, isolated in his nest for the majority of the time. The cool, thin air was comforting, and his nest was cozy, but he also had the perfect vantage point to see the town from. The children he’d almost been friends with, once, ran around, running errands for their families or causing trouble for their neighbors, enjoying life and each others’ company.
Tommy’s wings hadn’t grown.
When, on a rare day, Tommy ventured down into the village to buy some new books, he overheard discussion of a new settlement being formed, about two days south by foot, consisting of entirely hybrids. The man who had spoken of it used a hushed, tense tone, as if this new development were a threat to their safety as a human town.
Tommy felt the man’s cold eyes fall on him.
He hadn’t even made it to the book store yet, but he fled back to his nest.
He curled up, wrapping his feathered arms around him, and fought back tears. His initial reaction was to panic, because if the humans felt more threatened by hybrids than they already did, he’d be even more of a target. Maybe someone would finally climb up to his safe haven and kill him.
But then he thought about it.
He’d only met a handful of hybrids in his life. The few who had visited the village left quickly, as they were more often than not passing through on the way to somewhere else, somewhere with more hybrids and less extreme ideas about where his kind fit in society.
Towns consisting solely of hybrids weren’t unheard of. They weren’t even rare, at least Tommy didn’t think. But in the area in which he lived, there weren’t many hybrid-friendly settlements for miles in any direction, let alone one for hybrids alone.
I could go there, Tommy thought.
It wasn’t a bad idea. He could go there, to the new town, and be with other hybrids. He wouldn’t have to hide, afraid of being attacked and beat up for simply existing, and he’d be with people like him. People who understood.
He grabbed two of his favorite books and several days worth of food and jumped from his nest, gliding effortlessly to the ground. Flapping his arms, he sprinted across the terrain, away from the village that had never been his home.
Two days travel? Tommy would make it there in one.
The land had not been settled when Tommy arrived, but there were several hybrids already hard at work. The location was nice, he noticed, with a large lake in the middle with streams leading off in several directions. There were forests surrounding the lake, with an abundance of natural resources. There wasn’t any immediate spot where he could build a new nest, but there were some mountains in the distance. He could always just construct an artificial one up high near the lake, though.
He observed the hybrids from a distance for a while. There was a pink-haired girl submerged in the middle of the lake, and he noticed scales covering her skin. At the edge of the water, a tall man with a face split down the middle, half black and half white, stared down into the water at the girl. He waved, then backed away from the edge. An enderman hybrid, he guessed. Another figure chopped down trees, too far away for Tommy to tell what separated him from humans, but he was sure that if he was closer, he’d be able to tell.
While observing who he assumed were his new neighbors, he hadn’t heard the sound of wings behind him until he felt a gust of wind, strong enough that he almost fell over. Startled, he let out a little squawk (a sound he hated making) and turned around to face…
“You’re an Elytrian!” Tommy was breathless. He’d only heard about Elytrians in his books. They were winged beings from another realm, who could soar the skies in the very way Tommy had always longed. Their wings were attached to their backs, giving them six limbs rather than Tommy’s four, and Tommy watched as the Elytrian in front of him folded his silvery wings, laughing.
“Hiya mate. Did I scare you?”
He definitely had, but Tommy shook his head anyway. “I just tripped a little, you didn’t scare me!”
The man laughed, and extended a hand. “I’m Phil.”
Tommy smiled, and accepted the handshake. “Tommy.”
Phil’s gaze moved from Tommy’s eyes to his wings, the right one visible in all its glory with Tommy’s arm outstretched. He retained his grip on Tommy’s hand, seemingly unaware of doing so, as his mouth formed a contemplative line.
Tommy coughed and slowly withdrew his hand. “Uh, nice to meet you.”
Phil seemed to shake himself out of whatever daze he’d gone into. “Yeah, you too, mate.”
The Enderian man walked over at that moment, and Tommy was spared from the suddenly uncomfortable interaction.
Phil had been looking at his wings with… well, Tommy wasn’t certain, but it certainly looked like pity. He looked at the Elytrian’s large, powerful wings, and suddenly felt the urge to run.
Just like he always did.
He didn’t hear what the Enderian had been saying, but both him and Phil were looking at him, as if he’d been asked a question.
He squawked a little again, disguising it as a cough. “Uh, what?”
Phil chuckled a little, and the Enderian’s mouth turned up in a small, pitiful smile. Tommy hated pity.
“I, uh, asked what your name is,” the Enderian repeated.
The Enderian’s smile turned into something more genuine. “Cool, nice to meet you, Tommy! Uh.” The boy let out a small vwoop sound, his smile fading some. “If it’s alright to ask, are you Avian?”
Tommy nodded, feeling self conscious upon noticing Phil’s eyes on his wings once again. “Uh, yeah. And you’re Enderian, right?”
The boy’s face lit up. “Yeah! I didn’t know people would know that here, but I guess I’m not the only hybrid from the End,” he said, and looked at Phil.
A meeting seemed to be forming, and the trio moved towards the lake where three other hybrids stood. The boy who had been too far away to see earlier was here now, and Tommy noticed hard, stone-like patches of purple coating his skin. He had no idea what kind of hybrid that made the boy. There was another man, translucent and gray-skinned, sitting in the lake next to the fish girl. A phantom hybrid.
Introductions were made. The Enderian boy was named Ranboo, and Tommy was grateful he didn’t have to ask him to reintroduce himself. The purple boy was named Tubbo, and he was a “Shulk”. Tommy didn’t know what it was, but considering the reaction he received from Phil and Ranboo, he must be from the End, too. The fish girl was named Niki, and ghost boy was named Wilbur.
Niki mentioned a Blazeborn boy named Jack, a friend of her friend, who was sick of living in the Nether and wanted to come check out their town. Unfortunately, he was trapped in his home dimension, and would probably not arrive until later.
Conversations started, with Wilbur and Niki retreating into the water and Tubbo and Ranboo discussing sites for future homes.
Phil was still staring at his wings.
Tommy turned to face him, angry. “Do you have a fucking problem? Or are you gonna keep staring at my wings like a creep? I got enough of that from the humans, you know!”
Phil blinked, like he was taking a second to process what Tommy had said. “Wh- oh, I’m not trying to stare. I’m just curious.”
“...About what? Are you gonna fucking tell me, or are you just gonna stand there looking like a dumbass?”
His words must have caught the attention of Tubbo and Ranboo, who looked over.
Phil bit his lip. “I’m not trying to be rude, mate. I just wondered how you’re able to fly with wings like that.”
Tommy felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. “What?”
Phil held up his hands. “You don’t have to say anything. That was probably out of line-”
“I can’t fly, dickhead.”
There was a beat of silence. When it became evident that no one else was ready to say anything, Tommy broke the silence himself. “Not- not yet. My… I’m still a kid. My wings aren’t fully grown yet. I’ll be able to fly one day, when, when they’re. Y’know. Bigger.”
Three looks of pity. Tommy was getting pissed.
“Look, I’m not some fucking weakling, okay?! I can, I can glide some, so I can jump off of high places without getting hurt and shit! And I can run fast,” he said, and looked around the area. “I bet I can, I can make it to that tree the fastest!” He pointed to the tree, and took off running. He flapped his arms as hard as possible, managing to boost himself slightly off the ground even, but before he was even halfway, Ranboo had materialized next to the tree, and Phil shot past him, his powerful wings propelling him forward faster.
Tommy stopped in his tracks.
Behind him, heavy footsteps slowed as Tubbo stopped running, too. “Why did you stop?” the Shulk asked. “You were beating me!”
Tommy heard laughter and saw the ghost standing at the edge of the lake, doubled over. He heard chuckles from Phil and Ranboo, too.
This was a mistake.
Why did he think he’d fit in here?
He was an outcast. Even among other hybrids, he was an outcast. He was meant to be alone.
He should go back to his nest.
But even as he thought that, Tommy knew he wouldn’t. That nest was never his home. He hated it there. And it was a different feeling, being around people who pitied and underestimated him, rather than hating and fearing.
No, he was going to stay here. But first, he was going to prove to them he was their equal.
He marched over to the lake.
The girl surfaced. “Hi, Tommy, right?” She smiled.
“Yeah,” he responded. “Tell me about this Jack guy. I’m gonna go save him.”
She gasped. “You are? Oh, that would help him so much!”
Niki gave him the details about Jack’s predicament, and he set off. He was going to save this Blazeborn person. If he did that, it would prove to everyone he wasn’t some weakling, deserving pity.
He was gonna be the hero.