View Full Version : Skin of the Cat
09-30-2009, 04:44 AM
It was a bar like any other bar- or, rather, like bars used to be, back when I went to bars a lot, which was also when folks frowned on young women going to bars at all. A lot of banged up but polished wood, not a lot of light. Only one television, and muted, at that, so it wasn't your constant drinking buddy. That was a plus- I have sensitive ears, and the all-the-time stupid noise in public places makes me twitchy.
Lots of things make me twitchy. It's just me.
Quiet evening, looked like. Not too many customers; two guys behind the bar, chatting and cleaning between rounds; young lady, pretty little thing, sorta Asian-looking, running snack orders out to the few occupied booths. The sullen glances she was giving one of the barmen- big guy, built like a wall- made me figure either she had a crush, or they were family of some sort. I looked again, guessed at ages; came up with family, unless one of them had a Nabokov fetish. Anyway, place seemed cool. Comfortable, familiar, even. I tried to remember if I'd ever been there.
Then I tried to remember if I'd ever been in Millennium. Detroit, as it used to be.
I came up empty. Of course, a lot has changed. Even if I had been in the city once, I wouldn't recognize it, not any more. And of course, you forget a lot in ninety or so years...
Now's the time you say how I don't look a day over twenty-five. And I give you a little fake smile and say 'thank you', because it's true, and while I like hearing it, I don't like being reminded of it. Twitchy, like I said. And it's a chick's prerogative to be uptight about her age.
Never mind, long story.
The big guy tapping drinks wasn't bad looking, so I gave him the best smile I could come up with right then. Not flirting, just trying for some human contact, get back in the swing. Usually I avoid people a fair bit, and cities especially. Don't really know why I'd come to M.C. of all places. Smelled something in the air, I guess.
Anyway, the empty polite nod I got back told me I needed more practice. He drew a fair beer, though, full measure and headed up right, so after a swig I tried again, made my voice remember how to work.
"Always this empty?"
"'cept when it's not."
"Live music night? Karaoke? Bingo? Anything like that?"
Thank God, but oh boy. Onea those, the never-talk ones. With his build, and the sad-hard look, he might have been a cop, I guessed. Lots of cops work bars off-duty or after they retire, and it would explain the attitude. Or maybe a firefighter. He didn't look old enough to have retired from anywhere, but then I don't look old enough to be a great-grandmother. Not that I am, God forbid, just saying...anyway. I found that, once I got used to talking and listening again, I kinda liked it. It had been a while, so I wasn't going to let him off that easy.
"Thought bartenders were supposed to be chatty. You know, talk about the weather, ask about your problems. Make you feel at home. Get you to drink more."
If it was a smile he gave me, it was a tiny one. More like someone lifting the edge of a shade to see if it'd stopped raining, and if it was finally less grey out than in. "Tell me about your problems."
I laughed, shook my head. "You got to be new at this." He shrugged a little, and the blind went up maybe another half-inch, letting in just a touch more light, before he dropped it again. "You asked me to ask."
Oh well. Not like I'd be around long enough to become a regular, anyway. "No problems, hun. Except my beer's getting low. Think you can fix that?"
"Yes, ma'am." He did, expertly, and then left me to it, sorting barware and chewing out the other 'tender for something or other. I was almost glad, really, because I was starting to realize I'd lied to him. I did have a problem.
I was getting hungry, would have to hunt soon. And I didn't want him to get a good look at my eyes, in case they'd already turned. He seemed like an OK guy, for all he was a bit sullen. No need to scare him and the kid...
Like I said, long story.
09-30-2009, 10:30 AM
Alright, so now we've got a vague introduction like a mist-shrouded scene of a cloaked figure. And the response it prompts, for me at least, is... Moar!
09-30-2009, 04:05 PM
By the time I finished my second beer- wouldn't do to guzzle- the bar was getting a lot brighter. To my eyes, anyway. I could also smell the folks in it a lot clearer- seemed like Mr. Silence and the waitress were related. Interesting, but not real important just then. It was far too late for me to get out of the city. Stupid to have dawdled; at least I should've grabbed a snack. I'd have to find a city park and hope for good luck. I paid the barman, and tipped big, hoping for SOME sort of smile, but he just kind of stared. Probably had noticed my eyes. OK. Time to go, then.
I wasn't far from the place when I was forcibly reminded why I avoid big towns and cities. See, I'm a creature of habit, used to resting at day, and traveling and hunting dusk to dawn. I hadn't remembered yet that this wasn't Colorado, wasn't some sleepy Southern farming town where all the residents were safely parked in bed or in front of their TVs by dark. I'd forgotten that cities have their own shadow dwellers.
I heard him coming, of course- how could I not, clumsy twofoot? Stupid me, didn't think anything of him, though, till he was right up on me, had looped an arm around my throat. "The MONEY, lady! Gimme the money!"
Oh, boy. Of all the times to get mugged, me all hungry and night-eyed. I could've just torn him in half, of course, and gotten dinner to boot. But I'm not one of those 'were who gets their jollies out of hurting folks. The whole situation's just plain bad news. The night vision's cool for sure; the hearing and sense of smell are mixed blessings, especially on a crowded bus. The hunger just sucks. My favorite thing, mostly, about it is being able to run for miles under the trees without ever slowing up...anyway. Me versus Dumbbunny Twofoot Snackfood.
"Uh...you really don't want to be doing this, brother."
"Shut UP you cow." He was fumbling in my jeans pocket, looking for my wallet, I guess, but getting more than a little personal."The wallet, and the watch...then we'll see what else you got."
Uh...maybe not. OK, he dealt it. I gave in to the Change, enough to let my teeth drop, at least, bent my head, and grabbed hold. Not hard enough to take the arm OFF, but more'n enough to get his attention- and get a mouthful.
The other reason I stay away from cities. People taste too darn good.
Anyway, Mr. Macho let go, shrieking. I eased off as he tore his arm away from my fangs, but even with the best intentions I did some more damage. He stumbled back down the alley, screaming and leaking- and in the process leaving me a mess, inside and out. I had a lot of his blood on me, and the smell plus the taste was driving me nuts. I needed to eat and soon, or I was gonna Change uncontrolled, charm or no, and then things were going to get really interesting, in that proverbial Chinese way.
Maybe it was the smell of the gravy all over me, or maybe I was just having a real slow day, but i was completely unaware of our audience. That is, until the weighted arrow thunked into the base of my skull. It all but knocked me down, staggered me for sure. I spun, heard cloth ripping as the Change came- if I had warning I usually got down to the buff, cheaper than replacing the wardrobe all the time- dropped to all fours where I was comfortable, where I belonged...
and looked up into the barrel of a nasty little machine pistol. The hand holding it was attached to a wrist from which dangled a very familiar pendant, a dog tag really. Eyes up further to the face, and I willed my self still, forced my nightself back in, gagging on the pain, far enough to be able to talk, at least.
"Hunter wants to see you."
Oh joy. Blasts from the past. I hadn't seen Hunter and Burke and their crew in over ten years. I'd spoken to Hunter off and on, part of our deal, but we hadn't been face-to in a long, long time. Burke looked just the same, which I couldn't quite explain; the life they lived, I figured they'd all be long dead. Well, except Hunter, since he's only part alive as it is...
I thought about just bolting, but Burke knew what I was, and knew far too well what I could do. Sucker money to think the pistol wasn't loaded with silver. Couldn't kill me- I was pretty sure- but it could hurt like the devil, and leave me laid up and weak and vulnerable, in one place, for days, weeks even. Plus where Burke was, Sanja was nearby with her knives, and Token with his wand. Maybe a few of the others. In a fair fight, I could take them all, but they didn't fight fair. In their line of work, they can't.
And like it or not, I sorta owed Hunter. Well, he thought I still did. I had a different opinion. I wasn't in a real strong position for negotiating right then, though.
I shrugged, held my front paws up in surrender, pushed the words out through jaws too thick to make human noises comfortably. "Kay. We gho."
09-30-2009, 09:05 PM
I shrugged, held my front paws up in surrender, pushed the words out through jaws too thick to make human noises comfortably. "Kay. We gho."
((I think this is the first time I've ever seen this detail considered. It adds a lot to the imagery. :) ))
10-02-2009, 05:19 AM
So, I let 'em blindfold me. Even let 'em cuff me, and lead me by a chain. It would've been embarrassing, insulting, even, if any of us actually thought the cuffs could hold me if I wanted to take off. It did ease off the fear-stink coming from the squad a bit, so it was worth it.
I couldn't really blame them. I mean, anyone who can go from 5'4" of Plain-Jane to 7+' of fangs and bad-kitty 'tude is really not someone you want to be stuck in a van with, right? Even if you deal with that sort of thing all the time.
I still had no idea what Hunter wanted. Burke was as talkative as ever; he made the barman earlier that evening seem downright sociable. At least when we arrived at wherever they were dug in (which I could find again by smell in an hour or so if I really cared), they ditched the cuffs and blinders, someone found me a robe to cover up with, and someone else brought me a couple of really really rare burgers, which calmed my stomach and my nose down a bit. Social call, then. After I'd eaten, Burke took me in to see Hunter.
He'd changed, some- there was even more metal and even less skin now. Even after all these years, I had no idea even if Hunter was his name, or a title, or what. Either way, it fit. that's what he and his boys and girls did. Hunted monsters. Like me. All of them had the scars to prove they were good at it. The ones who weren't had unmarked graves. Still don't know if they had government sanction, but they flew pretty low under the radar most of the time. They always had good sources of intel and equipment, though, so someone had to know what they were about.
And someone did Hunter's mods, of course. He wasn't a big man- just a bit taller'n me unChanged- but he loomed. He'd lost just a lot of parts over the years, and he'd upgraded while being repaired. He smiled, sorta, as much as he can, when he saw me.
"Kitta. Sorry about the greeting. Know how it is."
I dropped into the chair across from him as Burke took up post behind him, hand obvious on the butt of his gun. Burke hated 'were, was sure Hunter had made a mistake with me. Maybe that was why I was there. Maybe Hunter'd changed his mind.
"You know I hate that, Hunter."
"Sorry. Kit.." He looked me over, eyes blank. Being that they're mostly hardware, no surprise. "Looking good." Even talking was an effort for him. I wondered every time I spoke with him if he hurt as bad as looked. If he did, he must be one Grade-A tough hombre.
"Look about the same as I did the last time, brother. And the time before that. AND the time before that. You're lookin' a little salvage lot, though."
He took no offense. We'd known each other a while. He even chuckled, sort of. Then went silent. The old game, establish dominance, make the other person talk first. If I was a people person- a real person at all- it might've worked, dragging me all that way just to make me sit. But I spend a LOT of time alone, listening to wind and my own heartbeat. I could wait. It was a comfortable chair.
Finally, he sorta rattled in his throat, shook his head. "Haven't changed."
"Need your help, Kit."
I looked around, Burke with his hardware, the computers, gear and ammo everywhere, the door behind which the rest of his people were waiting..."What, little old me? What can I do you can't?"
"Pass for human, for one."
"Cute. Only passing I'm doing is through, Hunter. As per our deal. You remember our deal, right?"
"You owe me, Andriessen. I let you walk."
Oh, boy. Here it went again. "You let me walk 'cause, under all that scrap, you're an honest man, and you knew I hadn't done anything. And I've paid up. I've been your eyes an' ears for decades. And how many rogue 'were have I taken down, saving you the trouble? We're done, Hunter."
"Six. Six 'were."
"Six." That snarl came from Burke. I looked at Hunter, and he nodded. "Six. Graymane isn't dead." I thought about that. Bad news. "That what this is about? You think I let him walk?"
The bald near-skull shook a small 'no'. "Not about 'were, Kit. Mane WAS dead. He got better. Not your fault."
I snorted. "Destroyer's dead. Old news, like Old Detroit."
"Some folks think so. I think different."
"Some times paranoia really is paranoia, old man."
"Why're you in MC, Kit?" That stopped me. I'd been asking myself the same thing. I'd made a beeline for the biggest city in the region. No reason, total opposite of what I usually did..."Everyone's got to be somewhere." I shrugged.
"Destroyer's using espers and mages to call up all sorts of nasty stuff. You heard. You came. Just too nice to do what he wants."
"Sweet talker." I smirked. "Still no sale."
He was quiet a while, then he let out a small grunt, nodded. "OK, Kit. You're right. We're done. Drop off the charm on your way out."
My charm. The charm that let me stay on top of the Change, the one HE had given me. I could feel myself start to stand, feel the anger boil up, fought it down, refused to Shift..."You dirty son of...."
"Told you then it was a loaner."
"And now, after all I've done, you're gonna hold it over my head?" Sinking back down into the chair, I gave him a disgusted look. "Fine. Shoulda known you had no shame and no soul. What do you want?"
"For now? Stay close to that bartender." THAT was a shock. I looked at him, at Burke, back. "How long you been following me?"
"Burke picked you up at the city limits." Two whole days. And I'd had no idea, not a sound or a whiff. I looked up at him with a new respect. "You've gotten good, man."
"Being dead helps," the big gunslinger grated. Ow. Ok, yeah, that'd explain it. Revenant. Embarrassed, I mumbled "sorry", looked at the floor. Might as well have saved my breath. Then I looked back at Hunter, feeling weirder about the man than I ever had. Necromancy, black magic...ew. "Hard core, old man."
The armored shoulders shrugged. "His choice. And I need him. Like right now, I need you."
"He's a bartender."
"He's an ex-bodyguard for an OC boss. And may be more than he looks." Again that deathhead grin. "Like you. Nothing else, he's got a kid. Even if he's straight, now, she could be used against him. Stay close."
"Want me to seduce him while I'm at it?" He ignored my smirk, shrugged. "Do what you want. Just keep an eye on him, and report the usual way."
One last thought, one last chance to get out of this mess. "Hunter- I can't stay in the city too long, you know I can't. Too noisy, too crowded. Too many chances to...screw up."
"Don't worry, Kitty. We'll find plenty for you to do, keep you on the move."
KITTY? Oh, nice. Gah.
10-03-2009, 05:28 PM
You can't run from the past, they say. Not sure who "they" are talking about, but they seem to have pegged both Frank and Kitta with that cute, fortune-cookie wisdom. :) Run, Kitta, run!
10-03-2009, 06:06 PM
This post has been edited to remove content which violates the Cryptic Studios Forum Usage Guidelines (http://forums.champions-online.com/announcement.php?f=2&a=6). Thank you, Dionaea
10-06-2009, 04:51 PM
I have been waiting for more from Erall...yes I am lurking this thread. More I say!
10-06-2009, 05:27 PM
[Thanks! Work has been...amusing, so she hasn't gotten much time out of her cage. Nor has Sannj. Soon, promsie!]
10-10-2009, 07:59 PM
His phone kept on ringing, unanswered. I let it- like I said, I'm patient. I'd caught a few stupid squirrels in the park, so that plus the steak bits I'd had while chatting up Chance- Emily- meant I had a full belly and a cool head. If it swapped me to one of those stupid voicemail things, I'd redial. As often as I had to, till someone finally answered just to make it shut the heck up...
I heard the click of a pickup, and then living breath. So. "Hunter. Why are your folks crowding me?"
"Kit...kitta? What time..." I'd actually caught the old jerk asleep. Good. "Three AM. Beautiful night, the moon's just startin' to set. Should get out, have a look. Now answer me."
"I'm sure I...don't know what you're..."
I snarled, good and loud, into the phone. A gimmick, but being who and what he was, it got his attention. "Don't play with me, old man. He wandered in an' out two, three times while I was at Caprice. New kid, didn't recognize him, but he was rollin' in your and Burke's stink, an' he had Token's vibes alllll over him. Now. Why?"
He shifted in bed- I could hear the springs squeal under his weight, and a faint whine, part of one of his servos, I guess. "You're supposed to be keeping tabs on the father, Andriessen, not flirting with the kid."
"First, you old fool, I figured it was a good idea to know somethin' about the man before I got up in his face, hmm? Second, I wasn't flirtin' with her. I was talkin' with her. She's a genuinely nice kid, real young for her age, an' I suspect ha some medical probs. An' I don't swing that way, anyway, certainly not with some confused kid a century younger'n me.
Third, HUNTER, you knew a darn thing about human folks, you'd know the easiest way ta get close to a single parent is ta get the pup to like you."
He digested that for a moment, and his tone was a little different when he opened his mouth again. "I never knew you were so cynical, Kit."
"I wasn't. Not 'till an old friend held what's left of my human-ness over my head like a club." I waited a second, gave him a chance to come back, but really, what could he say? "Here's how it's gonna be, Hunter. If your folks could do the job, you wouldn't need me at all, an' I wouldn't be disturbin' your sheep farmin'. They can't. So I'm takin' a few days, headin' out somewhere quiet, get away from all the people and the noise. When I get back, I have a clear field. None of your folks tailin' me, yah? I'll contact you regular, same as always. Never let you down yet, why're you gettin' so squirrely now?"
"No. You can't leave the city, not yet."
"Hunter. How are you gonna stop me? Just 'cause Burke's dead don't mean I can't hurt him."
He didn't like that. "You going rogue on me, Andriessen?"
I snorted. Twofoots have no sense of nuance, or tact, or humor, or much of anything else. "No, genius. But you sure seem to be tryin' to force me into it. I stay in MC any longer, I'm gonna screw up, and someone other'n a no-account mugger is gonna get hurt.
"Two days, Hunter. Two days out in the wild, an' I'll be back on the phone soon as I'm back in the city. You got my word."
At heart, Hunter was a solid guy. He was just programmed by his life. So, hey, he saw the light, and let me go.
First day out in the desert, having a bit of fun hunting rogue androids, what do I run into but a Primus hardsuit pilot with a baseball bat up...anyway. She was a bit stiff and disapproving. Even after I kept her from being turned into cactus food. Apparently unregistered, unlicensed, uncollared, and probably un-spayed 'were just do NOT fit into her worldview.
Oh well, humans, what can you do. Story of my life...
10-28-2009, 12:29 PM
So the next couple of weeks were sorta peaceful-frantic. Not a lot really happened- the most over the top thing was finding a rogue half-'were on the hunt in one of the parks. Poor thing was a zoo animal, looked like, had been bitten, freaked out bad. I felt bad, but putting it down was a must.
I spent a lot of time on the move, though, through the city and elsewhere. MC got more and more stifling, an odd feeling hanging over it like a huge thunderstorm hiding somewhere up in the cloudless sky, waiting to zap us all. Using clearances Hunter got God knows where, I skipped from the city to the desert, and sometimes up north, to clear my head, cool down, get the stink of FOOD! out of my snout. Most of the time I lounged around, occasionally going after one of those nasty looking Grondlings for laughs; once or twice, when it looked like the two-legs were really in it up to their furless ears, I'd jump in. A good rumpus can be fun, I have to admit. I made real sure, though, no one connected the mysterious rumblekitty with the tiny little blonde chick on the commuter flights...
In between, I hung out at Frank's bar, enough to get classed as a regular, but not enough to be a nuisance. I still couldn't see what the heck Hunter wanted with him. Far as I could tell, he mostly ran his bar and looked after his kid. I *did* find out, after a bit, he was doing some hero work on the sly, which made old Tinhead's suspicions seem even sillier.
Finally, I hit Frank up for a job. I didn't lie to him- told him I needed a stash to move on to wherever was next. Totally true. My cash was running out, and I was not about to let Hunter get his hooks any further in me by asking him to bankroll me. So I ended up as part-time barmaid, waitress, emergency chef, plumber, swamper, electrician, cashier, and assistant bouncer.
It actually felt good to be normal for a little while.
Still, I felt kinda ill over it. 'Cause, of course, part of the reason I was doing it was to keep an eye on him for my old buddy out in the outback. And, see, I'd gotten to know Em a bit, and really liked her- she was a cute mix of rebellious teenager and shy, sweet young lady. Frank and I, too, seemed to have a certain rapport. Not that we were buddies, but we both kept the BS pretty low, and seemed to sort of understand each other a little. I teased him a lot, and I gave the customers just as much grief as they dished out, which amused him...I think, at least. Maybe.
No good deed- heck no deed, period, goes unpunished. I hadn't been working there more than two or three days when that storm I smelled coming broke, and the zombie rain started. I admit, I had a real hard time- even a natural Blood Moon is a strain for the strongest 'were. And this one wasn't natural. I found myself clinging to my charm a lot, and saying old prayers I didn't even know I remembered.
In the bar, though, it was kinda a haven. A few hero types hung out there, and I knew Frank was a pretty tough hombre- and I'm no slouch, when I'm not all aquiver and thinking about food. That last bad night was like all the rest- one of the Space Cop Kittys was there (inside joke, never mind), and so was a REAL tall chick, dressed like a New Purple working girl. Friend of Frank's apparently. Good for him. I guess...
Only Em hadn't come home the night before. And then the door blew open, and in drifted way too much (or too little, depends on how you look at it) black leather with for sure way too much demonflesh squeezed into it, playing with Em's watch, taunting Frank...he grabbed her up quick, but her cel started to ring, and she got away while Frank was trying to get hold of it. Not before Shifting and getting blood and yuck all over me, though- I'll know the wench again if we get close. that smell'll be hard to forget.
Right then, though, we were all watching Frank, talking on the phone, face blank. He looked like he was dying.
His little girl was in Stronghold...
10-28-2009, 01:03 PM
((D'aww! Incentive for me to lead up to the same point in my story. :D ))
11-11-2009, 04:27 PM
I was frozen.
Frank made no sign he expected anything from anyone- he's not like that. But the kittycop and the showgirl stepped up right away. Em's face was flashing in fronta my eyes- I was in prison, once, for a little while, though it was a bit more genteel than your typical lockup, and I was the only guest.. the idea of a nineteen-year-old kid, alone, scared, in a place like that, surrounded by...it was all I could do to keep the growl from bursting out of my lungs.
Other hand, joining in meant...
OK, it's complicated, my deal with Hunter. It goes back quite a while, to a time when I was suspect number one in a bunch of really nasty murders. The fact that I was innocent wouldn'ta cut a whole lot of ice with some folks, even if they'd believed it; to a lot of them, I was a monster, and shoulda been put down on principle.
Hunter, though- he believed me. Enough, at least to take a harder look. When he found out the truth- he kicked me loose, gave me the charm, to keep the Change under control. The payback was my stayin' in touch, feeding him info from time to time- and staying away from big population centers, which was fine by me anyway. Plus...never letting anyone know who or what I was. I'd lived by that pretty solid, though I'd pushed my luck with the mugger a while back.
If I went in as a two-legs, I'd wouldn't have all my strength and speed. Which meant I'd be useless for dealin' with what Frank and his friends would be facing. I'm tough, I guess, for a little chick, but I ain't hero material in that skin. But if they saw me Change...
Rock and a hard place. It burned me, bad, but I wimped. Told him to go, Drew an' I would look after the bar, close down early.
Ten minutes went by....fifteen...I wondered how long it;d take them to get to the 'port, how long after that they'd be off the ground, how long to the prison pad...
No way was I leaving that kitten in that place. I told Drew we were closing up right then. He made a lotta mouth noises, but the demon chick had pretty well cleared the place out anyway, so he gave in.
Once we locked up and he was gone, I ducked into the alley, piled my duds under a dumpster...Shifted, and ran like I never had before. Frank's faster'n I am- man can MOVE- but he'd also have to wait on the flight being cleared- and when was the last time a plane was on time anywhere in this country? As I ran, I argued that, since they hadn't SEEN me Shift, and weren't gonna see me change back, I hadn't broken my word. They'd never know who I was.
Whatever. They were just getting the bird off the ground when I cleared the fence. Frank had to be frantic with the delay; I was even crazier with the thought that I'd be too late.
You ever ridden in an aircraft wheel well? No, course not. It's...unpleasant. Especially if you're 7'2" and about 450 pounds...was stiff as a board when they opened the well up again. I dropped about 20' to the deck, scaring the devil outa the ground crew, and started to run. Anything got in my way, I dodged 'round, went over it, once or twice straight on through it. Word travelled quick; pretty soon most of the nasties in the sand just decided gettin' outa my way was good idea- a few of 'em had run into me before.
Even with that, and with my lead, they beat me to the prison, just barely. They were just getting the doors open when I came barrelling up; there were a few tense moments as the Kittycop and Miss Legs USA tried to decide whether to shoot me, pet me, or just ignore me. Not for the first time, I cursed the fact I mostly can't talk full Changed, but what would I'dve said, anyway? "Hi, Frank, it's me, Kit. 'Member me, little blonde waitress? thought you could use a hand." Riiiight.
Frank's also not dumb. With enough body language, he figured out that whatevertheheck I was, I was at worst a neutral party. So he mostly ignored me, and the whole happy family went on in.
I don't wanna dwell on the scene in the prison. I don't. Like. Cages. I always sorta figured that anything serious enough that a good spanking or a week or two on short rations won't cure, it's probably kinder to all involved to just put the poor jerk down. I know, it's a weird attitude. But then, I ain't human.
At the best of times, I imagine Stronghold's a cold, soulless place. With the prisoners running mad, fires everywhere, and the knowledge that somewhere in the pile was one terrified kid, maybe hurt, maybe hurt bad- well. It was the closest thing to Gehenna I ever hope to see.
Needless to say, by the time we mixed it up with the first wave of rioting prisoners, I was pretty riled. Frank kinda growled, balled up his fists- but I was already moving, plowing into them like a cannonball.
Maybe not so smart. Turned out the Space Kop is a pretty swift gunslinger; Frank's girlfriend, or whatever she is, is a fireslinger. Near scared me right out of my skin when the first blast exploded near me- Shifted, I have almost all the reactions you'd expect from any wild animal, and fire is the A-number-one YIKES! button.
After I stopped shaking, we got a rhythm down. I'd pounce, roll back under the bullets and the fire stream, Frank would wade in. Noone who was stupid enough to try an' slow us up needed telling more than once. As a bonus, I got to play with anyone who broke and ran.
Hey, I'm a cat. Sue me.
It took a while. It was messy. For me, it was kinda fun. Not sure about the others. Eventually, we found her. Down deep, hiding in a shattered restraint tube.
She had changed. Oh, I knew her right away, by smell. But she wasn't a cute little Asian-looking teener any more. Now she was white. Not Caucasian, not honky-white. White-white. And had scales. And teeth to rival mine.
And her memory was gone.
11-12-2009, 01:51 AM
I got to play with anyone who broke and ran.
Hey, I'm a cat. Sue me.
((LOL! Cute, in spite of the overall tone. :) ))
11-25-2009, 10:14 AM
Beating them back to the airport was an interesting trick, but I managed it. With a lot of scrambling, I got to show up at Frank's apartment a bit after they got there, human-skinned, carrying a big pot of veggie soup, and looking innocent as lambs. So I got to hear the explanation twice- once when we found her, and once when I showed up at their crib.
Turns out poor little Em is a mutant- well, no surprise there, what with the claws. More to it than that, though- seems that without a LOT of work, she forgets nearly everything every time she sleeps- even what she looks like. The scaly toothy Em is the real one, it seems. Gotta admit- that tickles me, gives us more in common. Not like she's ugly like that, no way, or scary- just different.
She's done good, I think, with memory exercises and keepin' a journal. It IS a cryin' shame that she forgets those that love her, sometimes- even her dad. I understand, a little more, why he' so quiet, so sad (not angry, like I thought at first)- and so darn protective. Had to be home-schooled, natch, and I got no idea how he managed to help her remember her lessons- but he did. All by himself.
I didn't want to overstay my welcome- never been in Frank and em's private space before, an' wasn't invited this time. He seemed kinda glad to see me, but still- I can smell when it's time to move on. Besides, so far he hadn't noticed the couplea bruises I'd picked up that hadn't healed yet. I had a lie ready, just in case, but I'd done enough of that to this man, and was just as glad not to have to use it. So I scrambled, left him an' his daughter and the GF or whatever she was in peace.
Then I found a tree, climbed up, and rested a while. Lotta strange things to sort out. These folks were starting to feel a little too much like family, like pride. I can't afford that. But I didn't want to turn away from it, either.
Curse you, Hunter. What've you gotten me into?
11-26-2009, 11:13 AM
((Not that my selfish ego doesn't approve (it does), but if you keep focusing on her time with Frank and Chance, we're gonna have to do a Christmas special. :P It's neat to see Kitta's assumptions, some of which are correct, and some of which Em's gotten herself past. :) ))
11-26-2009, 05:34 PM
[Wait till I get her to 25. ATM, working at the bar IS pretty much all that's happening...]
12-13-2009, 10:46 AM
I am. An idiot.
OK, so, I'm working the bar, talking to Em, waiting for Frank to get back from a bank run so she can ask him something. And she gets all smiley and that teener "I know something YOU don't know" vibe. By now, you should know I can outwait the stones if I have to, so I let her stew a bit. Was kinda afraid somehow I'd let something slip, and she knew I was a Shifter, especially since she kept hinting about my bein' at Frank's place pretty quick after she got rescued. So, finally, after squirmin' a while, she came out an' asked.
Poor girl thought me an' her Dad were, you know. Doin' it. An item. Involved. Whatever.
I coulda laughed, if she didn't seem so embarrassed about being wrong...and sorta sad, too, 'specially once I reminded her I'm a drifter, wouldn't be sticking around all that long. The kid really, really needs a stable woman in her life- not that Frank's doin' a darn thing WRONG with her, mind- but he's a guy. Some things they just don't get.
So, she kicked my butt at darts- real good hands, the girl has- but it wasn't a challenge, since I'm about the worst shot in the world with anythin' like that. She still seemed kinda down, so i asked her if she wanted to know a real secret.
Duh? She said yes, of course. So, I took her out back, and introduced her to Moon and Silver.
Moonhunter and Silverpaw- their names, more or less; realize, we don't quite speak the same language- a re a pair of wolves that adopted me quite some time back. Got NO clue why, 'cept I think they have somethin' to do with the talisman Hunter gave me to control my Change. Not everyday wolves for sure: way too old, for one thing; for another, they've paced me two or three times across the country, showin' up unexpected to help out, or pass on a warning...or just insist on havin' their ears skritched. We can talk, sorta, but not like the Shamen can with 'em. One day, I might ask Ravenspeaker 'bout that. But if I need them, they come, even if I don't know I need 'em yet. And sometimes just if I'm lonely. Hey, it happens. Sometimes.
Silver's a BIG she-wolf, all streaky grey with silvery forelocks; Moon, her mate, is a bit smaller, jet black with a blaze between his eyes like a crescent. She's a sweetie, cuddly, while he's a bit stand-offish, 'specially around strange 2-legs. He even sorta growled at Em a bit, smellin' her oddness, I guess, but he calmed down once I swatted him, light-like, even let her pet him some. Her smile was somethin' to see.
Naturally, her first thought is that I'm a beasttalker. Great. Last thing I need is someone snooping around me looking for an unregistered super. Despite that, though...dim bulb I am, I told her it was OK to write it in her journal, so she won't forget about them, with her weird amnesia thing. I'm gettin' soft. Careless. All over a kid.
After, she shared a 'secret' with me, too, showing me her real appearance, the pale scaly one. Tried real hard to act surprised, like I hadn't seen her that way before. Told her she looked cool like that, too- which she does. She liked that, I think.
Girl needs a mother, even now, at nineteen. I can't do it. Not safe for anyone, an' what the heck do I know about kids, anyway?
Why's it bother me so much? The heck do I even CARE?
12-20-2009, 04:03 PM
A week later found me, well after closin' time, in a funk, in a tree. I'd told Frank I was goin' home, but I needed to think, about where my life was goin'. About what an idiot I was.
Moon and Silver kinda slunk out of the dark maybe half an hour later, paced around a few times, curled up at the foot of the tree. I growled at 'em for leaving Em; they rumbled back that Frank was home now, he could take care of his own pup perfectly well, thank you, and she wasn't their problem anyways, wasn't even really mine, they were doin' me a favor, and if I wasn't gonna either feed them or scratch their ears, please shut up and let 'em nap. Or throw down that likely looking squirrel on the branch to my right.
Those weren't the words any of us used, obviously, but you get the idea. Arguin' with a wolf is about as useful as trying to swim laps with a dolphin; they get bored quick, and just ignore you. So I gave it up, and went back to my sulk.
I'd been mortally sure Frank was gonna give me my walking papers, maybe even try to jam me with the locals. He'd done some digging, had come up with Kay Anders, someone I'd been for a while a time back, durin' the unpleasantness that brought Hunter into my life. Accused of murder, locked up- caged- it still made me shiver, even though it wasn't the first time. I HATE people pawin' through my life, but I couldn't blame the big guy for checkin'- he's got Em to think of.
So, he found one of the messy spots, and he asked me about it. I was set to go- it's way past time anyways- take my cash, and take off, Hunter or no. Funny thing, though. That's not what he wanted.
Not like he begged me to stay, don't get that idea. He wanted me to answer the question. No BS, no excuses, just an answer. And, wonder of all, he believed me. He mostly wanted to know if I was gonna do anything that would hurt his little girl. Like take off AFTER she'd gotten real attached.
I'm not the rest of the world, Kit.
That's what he said. An' he's not. He didn't want to hear the whole thing, didn't care. He wanted to know: Did you do what they say, and are you going to break my daughter's heart. Because she's had enough of that.
Still should've left. Too long, too close, too dangerous, shoulda said 'thanks, sorry, goodbye.' What I shoulda done. Instead, I drank beer with the man- his beer, of course- an' told him a little bit about me, the real me. Not a lot, but some. And he gave back, which shocked the heck outa me, told me a little more than I'd known about his wife's death, and Em's birthing. For ten, fifteen minutes, he was a real human being, no armor.
And at the end of it, I said I'd stay.
Dumb. Epic dumb. Even dumber? Told him that if the time came I had to go away for a bit- which it will, the hunger'll get too bad, and I'll need to get clear of people, especially him and Em- I'd come back. Promised I'd come back.
I don't make promises. Too easy to break them, accidental or on purpose, and folks get hurt and angry. Better to just move on. And I promised this man I still barely know that I wouldn't walk away from him and his kid.
I'd like to paint myself as good folk, and say I did it all for Emilia. Truth is, I don't know. Maybe I did it for him, because it was the closest thing to askin' for help I've ever seen him do. That wasn't even it, it was just...he doesn't make excuses, he doesn't ask for handouts. He doesn't judge until he sees for himself.
Mostly I did it for me. Because I LIKE having a home, even if it's a dump, and a normal, steady job. And friends. Stupid, like I said. It couldn't last. It never has.
Moonhunter looked up at me and laughed.
"Shut up, you stupid dachshund," I snarled, and dropped an acorn on his head.
12-21-2009, 06:18 AM
I guess I must've fallen asleep up in my tree. Well, duh, I know I did, 'cause close to dawn something woke me up. For a minute, I just stretched and lay sprawled, trying to figure out what it was.
Far as I know, I don't dream.. Maybe a result of my condition, maybe somethin' else, but I have not ever once remembered having a dream or been woken up by one. So I was pretty sure that wasn't it. First time for anything, I guess...except Moonhunter and Silverpaw were snuffling around at the base of the tree. Silver was whining quietly.
That got my attention. Unless we're talkin', or they're warning someone off, they almost never make a sound even I can hear, let alone a twolegs. Never, never, never had I heard either of them soundin' scared like Silver was right then. I didn't like that one bit...
I liked it even less when I heard what caused it.
People who live out in the wilds, or spend time there, campers, hunters, hikers, they know that the night brings some strange, scary noises. Wolfsong is onea the eeriest, loneliest things you can ever hear. Prolly gave rise to all sorts of ghost legends, once upon a time. Screech owl, the hunting cry of a fox, either of those'll freeze your blood the first time. Raccoon, bear, all of 'em make some creepy noises in the dark. Eventually, you get used to it, learn who's singing, and what it means. Some time later, you start listening for it, wondering what you'll hear that night, missing it if it don't come.
This wasn't one of those sounds.
Almost like a wolf, almost like a bobcat, not at all like either, the howl came up again. A sound full of anger, of hate- the sort of thing you'd expect to come outa a graveyard on Halloween, a place where all the dead had been forgotten, their graves dishonored, an' all they wanted was everyone an' everything else on earth dead with them, down deep in the ground. Moon yipped once, then shook his head like he was tryin' to clear the sound from his ears, like dirty water. Silver, poor dear, just put her muzzle down between her paws and shook.
Me, I was caught between fallin' outa the tree and freezing straight to it 'till March. See, I knew that Call.
Graymane. My 'father'. One of the most powerful 'were on earth, supposedly, the beast that had butchered my family, Turned me, taught me to be a thing of feeding and fear, then drove me out an' away, back into the world. And then had dogged my steps, causing trouble, making sure I got hounded out of anyplace I got comfortable. I never knew why. Maybe it was a game to him. If he wanted somethin' from me, he sure never said.
He'd been killed at least five times I knew about. Once by me. The so-and-so kept comin' back, which made a lot of folks- like Hunter- wonder if he wasn't a 'were at all, but some sorta totem demon or something. Not something I cared to dwell on, given how it'd reflect on my already sorry state. Never before had he come into a city so big, far as anyone knew. Big cities meant lots of people, with brains and weapons and resources. It meant people like Hunter, and all the heros kickin' around, folks who could put a real hurt on even somethin' as evil as old Gray.
But here he was.
I shinnied down the tree, rested a hand on each of my buddies' necks, fingers rubbing deep to calm them. "You better get goin', you two," I told 'em. "You know who that is. He'll eat ya."
Silver gave me a disgusted look and made it quite clear that she was not all ALL frightened, and they would leave in their own good time, sometime around a week from next Neverday. Moon put on a sort of sour look, but then made some real obnoxious comment about puppies who weren't housebroken, and obviously Mane needed a real Alpha to smack him into a higher level of consciousness...I told them they were crazy, and they agreed. After all, hadn't they spent more than twenty years draggin' around after ME? I buried my face in his fur and mumbled my thanks 'till he got embarrassed, and wandered a few feet away with a whuff.
A third time it came, that devilsound, then it all went quiet. Sun was comin' up. We always hunt at night, some of us don't like the daylight at all, hole up during the sun hours. I didn't care one way or the other. Had bigger things to worry about, anyway. Mane's Call meant I'd stayed too long. Promise or no, I'd have to tell Frank and Em I'd be on my way. I hated it, especially havin' made that idiot promise JUST the night before; I'm no saint, but I don't go outa my way to hurt folks, especially kids. And I try to stay as honest as I can. If I stuck around, though, they'd get hurt even worse when daddy came lookin' to mess up his little girl's life again...
And the nickel dropped. Frank and Emilia...I WAS an idiot.
Hunter, you sonuva...
12-22-2009, 02:36 PM
"Shut up, you stupid dachshund," I snarled, and dropped an acorn on his head.
This was adorable. :)
And the nickel dropped. Frank and Emilia...I WAS an idiot.
Hunter, you sonuva...
But this, I'm not sure I'm following. I -think- I am, but I'm not positive, and eagerly await the reveal. :D
12-23-2009, 11:59 AM
Tracer bullets poked me in the chest, tickled their way down my side, little redhot horsefly stings. I could smell blood and burning fur- mine- but I didn't care. I was fifteen in the air, moving at near sixty miles an hour; little ****ant wounds like that would be closed up before my feet touched ground.
Just inside the fence, I hit with a crash like a cement mixer dropped from a helicopter. The dry, packed dirt cracked under the impact as I crouched, absorbing the shock, and came up, both arms swiping. Claws in, this time- I wasn't really looking to hurt anyone, but those boys with their popguns could get annoying if I left them behind me. Men tumbled like kids' blocks, stunned, droppin' their weapons, and I roared for the person I was really after.
I wasn't sure if it came out clear- like I've said, Shifted, my mouth don't work quite right- but I figured, with enough volume behind it, he'd get the message.
I looked, sniffed, spotted a a few troops headed for a gun pit, chucked a handy jeep in their general direction, just to keep their heads down. Then I was moving again, pounding the ground like a buffalo stampede towards the makeshift building where Hunter had his control center. A few more bullets peppered my back and feet, one even shearing away a toe, but I could ignore loads of that, so long as they couldn't get anything really heavy up on me before I was too close to their boss for them to use it safely. Worried a bit about fire, but seemed like noone had thought about that yet.
Wrong. One brave soul, just stepping around the building, was wearin' a tank on his back, was fighting with a nozzle. I could see- heck I could SMELL- the sparks as he tried to get the 'thrower lit. I skidded to a stop, he looked up, all wide eyes and open mouth. We stared for a sec, then I was airborne again, slamming down inches from his toes, and giving him my best hunting shriek right in his face. His eyes kinda rolled up, an' he slumped; that plus the smell told me he wasn't gonna be a prob for a bit.
The door to the building was locked, of course, prolly barricaded. So? The flimsy metal shack rang like a church bell and danced on its foundation as I went straight through, takin' door, bar, hinges an' all. Burke was just inside, yellin' something, guns raised. I couldn't smell him, of course, but I could see him, clear as day, he was already pullin' the triggers, I could smell the silver...
I went right over him, plantin' my rear feet in his face an' pushing, HARD, to take off for the inner door. An' why not? He'd never had anything but hate for me, an' he was already dead anyway. Nature of my curse, I can hurt spooks, but I gotta work at it. I kept the claws in, so mostly he got bowled over an' embarrassed. Served th'jerk right. Even money this whole thing had been his plan.
Through the inner door with a crash- those locks didn't slow me down any more'n the outer ones- and I was over the desk an on Hunter. I heaved all 500+ pounds of him up against the wall, one arm across his throat, an' Shifted down enough to talk some, leavin' enough claws and teeth to make it clear I was a bit miffed.
"Liar. Set me UP," I roared, right in his face. He didn't faint, at least, gotta love him. Total calm, even knowin' that I could hurt him, bad. An' in this mood, I might just do it, too.
I could feel the little tingle that meant Token was somewhere in the room with his wand, could smell the sweet buzz of his nasty little girlfriend, the one who loved playing with sharp stuff. Lots of motion, guns, nets, silver hemming me 'round- but most of it they couldn't use. Too close to the head man.
"Everyone take a breath," he said, evenly enough, though his voice was maybe a touch more raspy than usual. "This is a misunderstanding."
I drew back and slammed him into the wall again, threatening to bring the whole shaky Quonset down on our heads. The sight of a five-foot chick, in the buff, with oversized nails and jaws, manhandlin' seven-plus feet of steel an' scars into a wall mighta been funny in the right context, but noone was laughin'. "No. Liar. Mane HERE. Knew. Frank, Em, LIES. Never about them. LIAR!" I slugged him in the side of the head, then, felt the crack as I broke a finger against his thick skull, followed by the crawling itch as it started to heal. I think he noticed it, at least he went kinda glazy for a second.
He looked at me, then, really looked, the one real eye dark and sad, like he'd seen to much to live. "It was both, Kit. Put me down. We need to talk."
I soooo wanted to go for his throat...but he was still the guy who had bailed me out of a jam, a bad one. I couldn't. He deserved a chance to explain...Lordy, I am a softy. With one last growl and shake, I dropped him, not caring how or where he fell, finished the screaming Change back down into humanskin. A few folks started at me, but backed down at a gesture from Hunter as he hauled himself up.
Coolly, he arranged himself back in his chair, as if nothin' at all untoward had happened, ignored my bein' bare, as usual, gestured for me to sit. Stubborn, I stayed up, which he ignored as well. "It started out about your buddy Frank." He sounded tired. I buried any bit of sympathy I mighta felt, concentrated on how he had used me- and maybe endangered several folks I was startin' to call friend. "He's a known felon, Kit, and he has had contact with a number of folks in the so-called hero community. We were looking for rotten apples. Your reports, though, and some independent observations cleared him."
I folded my arms, more to keep my hands under control than to cover up. Never been all that body-shy. Comes of livin' alone all the time, I guess. "But you kept me on him. Until Mane showed up."
"Heard him, did you?"
"Whole bloody Great Lakes region heard him, Hunter. Why?"
He leaned his massive form back. "Kit...I told you once before, Destroyer is up, and he's calling all sorts of nastiness to him. Whether you believe me or not doesn't matter. It's true.
Now, Greymane, we both know he's got his own agenda. He might or might not play ball with Destroyer, might ignore the call outright. If you haven't figured out his game by now, for sure the rest of us have no idea how he thinks. If he did decide it might be fun? Disaster. So....we made sure he heard you were here. That we knew he couldn't pass up."
I just stared...I still had only figured out part of it. The half-machine's treachery went deeper than I had been able to even dream about. He must have seen what I was thinkin' in my face, because his voice got harder, more detached. "Andriessen, if that...thing...joined up with the rest of what Destroyer is gathering, even for a while, for kicks, the death toll would be appalling. You know what he is, even better than I do. How many people has he slaughtered just to keep you on the move? For no apparent reason other than to torture you? You dropped him once, on your own. Between you and us, this is the best chance we have to finish him for-by-god-real. He doesn't know the ground. We have resources beyond his greatest fears. It ends, here, for good."
Curse him, he made sense. Even through my rage, I could hear that.. But..."What about Frank? An' Emilia? For chrissakes, Hunter, I've been workin' with them for months, I've been in their HOUSE. My stink is all over them. He's always gone after folks close to me, first...."
He shrugged. I couldn't believe he actually shrugged. "It's a big city. You're easier to find than they are. It's worth the risk."
"Not to ME, " I shrieked, loud enough that a few of the normal troopers covered their ears. "I'm warnin' them." I turned to go.
"Kit." Something in his voice stopped me. "If you tell them about Mane, you have to tell them about yourself. And that's a breach of our agreement."
Two steps back towards the desk before I could get myself under control. I could feel the hunger rising again, the old, old lust to tear, to kill, to taste this man's oily blood. My muscles trembled, rippled, as I nearly went through my first uncontrolled Change in twenty five years. I think my voice was calm enough, though. Sure tried. "That deal was made to protect innocent folks from me, an' me from myself, Hunter. You've staked me out like a goat, OK. I can deal. Suppose I've earned that. But that pair got NOTHIN' to do with this, you hear? Not a single darn thing. An' I won't see them hurt for your games."
Red burned behind my eyes, and I heard the edge of the desk give when my claws hit it at his next words. "Noone's innocent, Katrina. Not me, not your pal Frank...certainly not you. Noone." All I could think of was Em, who, like me, had lost nearly everythin', but still had a loving Dad, and a half-decent life. And now, this mad freak...I fought it down again, knowing one more button pressed, an' it would be over. I'd tear Hunter and his whole camp apart...for just a second, I understood somethin' I'd heard in Mane's Call. Under the anger and hate, the bloodlust, there was a warning, an insistence we all band together against the liars, the manipulators. 'Were are what we are. Some good, some bad. Honest. Not like this....two-legged thing pretending to be a human being.
"Why are all your grunts, here, Hunter?" It came out as a hiss. "Get your freaks an' geeks on th'street. Find Mane. Oh, I'll snuff him for you. I'll kill him so dead It'll be like he never crawled outa the ground.
But if that little girl gets hurt causea this? This bauble comes off." I flicked the talisman hanging on my chest, a heavy weight now, almost an enemy. "An' then, old man, iron skin or no? You're on th' menu. That's a promise, brother."
Noone tried to stop me as I made for the wrecked door. Hunter didn't speak again 'till I was almost through it. "Kit. You won't, you know. Down inside, you're not that kind of person, whatever's happened to you. That's why you're not him." I turned, grinned. Flicked the pendant again.
12-23-2009, 06:52 PM
Niiiice. And well worth the (short) wait. Honestly, I hadn't even thought of Mane going after Frank and Chance even when you first mentioned how he killed people around Kit just to torment her.
02-14-2010, 05:47 AM
Stupid, stupid stupid...I'd sat too long, up on the roof with Emi.
Finding her had been the first job, after bracing Hunter for his treachery. I'd sent Moon and Silverpaw on ahead to sniff her out, but I got to her first. She was waaaayyy up on a ledge on a building in Renaissance Center- and she was hurt.
Climbing the building was...not smart. To someone older and more suspicious, who didn't have Em's amnesia problems, it mighta been a giveaway. For her, I just played it off as something I'd picked up out West. True enough, 'cept it had been fifteen years since I'd freeclimbed, and I'd NEVER gone up the side of a skyscraper.
Whatever, she bought it, and she was healed up before I got there. A fall, a bored girl's silly jumping trick that went bad. No biggie But it took time to deal with that, time to explain why she had to be careful, time to spell out the situation without telling her everything, time to calm her down over the thought of my havin' to leave for a while. Time time time.
Time we didn't have.
I heard him first, a mile or so off. Emi doesn't have my hearin' or smell, seems like, at least she didn't notice anything. She'd listened enough to what I said, though, 'cause when I said 'move', she scrambled. JUMPED, really, forty stories or so straight down. Ouch. Keepin' up appearances, I went down the wall, though a fair bit faster than I'd come up. She barely beat me to the ground.
He was close, then. Lord, how that beast could move. "Home, Em. Fast as you can. I'm right behind." She gave me one last look, knowing for sure we had trouble- she heard him, next time he called- but she did as she was told, good kid, and took off like a shot. I was three steps behind for about four blocks. But I wasn't sure she could outrun him. Wasn't sure *I* could, for all that. So I picked a spot, a narrow alley, slowed up a bit, ducked in.
See, I was figurin' Mane'd keep after Em, and I'd get behind him. Was a trick sorta like that that had let me bring him down once before. This time, though, the old devil had other ideas. I heard the rumble of his steps slow, a sniff, a laugh like the hinges of Hades...and he stopped, wandered, all casual-like, into my alley.
Oh, Lord, was he big. I always forgot. Human-skinned he was prolly six-seven or so, maybe four hundred- almost what I weigh Shifted. In his real skin?
His shoulders barely cleared the walls on either side of the alley. Hunched over some, like we all stand, he topped nine feet by a good bit. Straight up, he musta been well over ten. Wouldn't even try to guess at his weight. Close to half a ton, easy.
He laughed again, and called out, quiet for him, a gravelly sound like a distant earthquake. Somehow, he'd learned the trick of talkin' clearly enough Shifted. Maybe it was his age, dunno. "Here, little lamb. Kit-kit-kit-kitten." Honestly, I didn't know what the heck to do. Mad, shakin'-scared, fighting the Change- an' full crazy to have thought I could even slow this behemoth down.
"Tch. Now, is that any way to greet an old friend?" he rasped. "Here I thought they taught all you little Amish girls manners down on the farm. Oh...that's right...no parents. How COULD I forget?"
OK, so that grated on me enough that I growled. Even a century later, I still have the shakes about that day. Once I'd made the noise, wasn't much point to hidin' any more- not that he didn't know pretty much exactly where I was anyway. I slid out of my doorway, still in humanskin, and stared up at him, hands on my hips. Brave front. Heh. yeah, right. I was ready to wet my drawers. Remember, as a two-legs, I'm only about five-five..."Mane. Speakin' of manners- why won't you just stay dead?"
He threw back his head and laughed. I wanted to cover my ears. I wanted to run. I wanted to be in California. Or maybe on the moon. I held my ground. "Oh, Kitta- you've grown a spine. This IS gonna be fun." Then the laugh cut off, and he shot me red-eyed glare, full of enough hate to melt my bones. Or...not hate, exactly. Em was right, and Hunter. If he hated me, if that was all it was, he coulda taken me down ages ago. He didn't even know me back then, but had Changed me instead. He wanted something. Whatever it was, the look was pure evil. "It's the cub, isn't it, hmmm? That's why you're still here. Tchtchtch. Stupid lamb. I try and I try and I TRY to teach you that they're NOT yours. But you must be slow in the head. Maybe this time, I have to change the lesson."
Oh, God, Em. Frank...I shoulda come clean with you from the beginning...if I get out of this, I'm telling you everything, forget Hunter, forget the rest. "The kid's got nothin' to do with you an' me, old ugly. You're mad about that truck I dropped on your head, let's get it done. Leave her out of it."
Odd, so odd the expression on his face. Angry- and sad, and somethin' I'd never seen before. Almost gentle, like a parent correctin' a kid that's screwed up. "Katrina." Couldn't remember the last time he'd used my full name. I'd nearly forgotten it myself. "She has EVERYTHING to do with it. Every useless, lying, murdering human you come in contact with. They're all part of it. And they will be, until you learn, until you accept what you, what we are. What you're meant to be." Then, all the softness was gone, and he laughed again. "But today, you bought the pup a little more breath. I'm hungry, and don't feel like chasing her down right now." He turned away, turned his back, like I was no threat at all. Maybe I wasn't. "Oh, but Kitta? Don't bother leaving town. You've stayed too long, this time, kitten. They're mine, now. Running away- again- won't save them."
I lost it. The shriek tore its way out of my throat even as the shreds of my clothing hit the ground, full-tilt, unwilled, uncontrollable CHANGE- and I pounced.
No matter how big you are, you're gonna feel four hundred plus pounds when it hits you in the back of the head. He staggered, surprised, then roared, setting off car alarms all up an' down the block. The alley worked to my advantage for a sec- he couldn't turn 'round quick, and my claws and teeth were buried deep in the meat of his neck, I could taste his devil blood. I tore him up good.
Until he got his wits back. Then, he just reached back, and yanked me away, like a kid picking an apple. It HAD to hurt, 'cause I sure as heck didn't let go, but he had me out in front of him, arm's length like I weighed nothin' at all, shook me like a misbehavin' puppy. I shifted grip quick, curled myself around his arm, lit into him again, but I'm not sure he even noticed it. Growling, bleeding, still he laughed. "GOOD! You're learning. Finally, you're learning what you are." He seemed to think for a sec. "OK...see. I'm not unreasonable. Since you've FINALLY grown up a bit, I won't kill the pup. I'll Turn her, instead. And then you'll have a little playmate. Her dad's toast, of course. She'll kill him herself..."
Then he snapped his arm, and I was flying. I tried to ball up, almost made it before I hit the phone pole, spun off, crashed through the windshield of a parked car, all little slivers of light and glass right before the darkness...
02-15-2010, 05:07 AM
*grin* Woot! Finally popped some life back into this one. I think you rushed the emo a little bit, though. ;)
02-15-2010, 05:41 AM
Consciousness returning is:
Flickering, distant sky, through a shattered window;
The shriek of sirens almost as loud as the pounding of your own blood;
Pain. Oh, yeah, LOTS of that;
And a cold nose in your ear, and a gentle tongue against your cheek. And a voice which isn't really there, in your head.
You must rise, youngling. The two-legs are coming.
"Wha...Silver?" She was perched on the ruins of the front seats of the car, nuzzling me, urging me awake. She was alone. I frowned, shook my head to clear it, decided that was a bad idea. I was in the BACK of the car, sort of balled up oddly; Greymane had tossed me hard enough I'd taken the steering column and most of the driver's seat with me. "Where's Moon?"
He is following your sire, to find his den.
"WHAT? that's nuts, he'll..." Well, I tried to get upright, at least. Stuff grated in my back and gut, busted ribs, itching and squirming as they healed, and I could feel the stab of glass buried in my skin. Silverpaw sniffed, bapped me lightly with a paw. We are the bones of the earth and the breath of the sky, little one. He can do us no real harm. But you must get up, now. You do not want to have to answer the questions they will ask you.
Ohboy. Yeaaaah, that would be bad for all kinds of reasons, not least it would keep me from getting to Frank and Emi for way too long. With a groan, I sat up again- sorta- then slumped back. "Can't. Too busted up."
Silver bit me. Well, not a real bite, but a good, sharp nip in the upper arm. You must. If you wish to save your pup and mate.
"What? He's NOT my..."
Your packmate, then. I swore she was laughing at me. Get UP, Katrina Andriessen.
Sirens were close, now. That meant medics, who couldn't really help me much, good as they meant, and cops, who could actually hurt me, without meanin' to. Wincing and grittin' my teeth, I reached up, punched a hand through the rear door window, used the leverage to help me up. I howled as stuff moved inside in ways it ain't supposed to; that was when I noticed there were a bunch of gawkers clustered around the car. Most of them jumped and scrambled at the sound of my voice, shrieking, an' probably laughing at the naked chick. Forget 'em. More important things right now.
Crawling forward, with Silver nudgin' and naggin' me on, I inched out of the wreck and onto the oddly sloped hood. Impact had blown the front tires, maybe even the shocks. For sure, it was way down at the nose. I snuck a quick look at the plate; I'd try to make it right with the owner later. Likely he'd have a hard time with the insurers.
Guess I hadn't been out that long- the first of the blues was just comin' around the corner. They'd sounded closer in my sharper ears, and I probably had been- still WAS- a bit delirious. Whatever. They'd see me in a sec- nothing for it.
Up the side of the nearest building, using the fire escape like a kid's jungle gym, across the roof. Once out of sight, I Shifted, screaming again- I heal faster that way, but rearranging your body when part of it's broken is NOT fun, trust me- and unwound, crouching low and limp-running like mad. I had to get to Frank, but not the house. I'd only been there once, it'd be harder for Mane to sniff me out there. Leave it that way. To the bar, already tainted beyond hope with my scent. I could feed there, rest, use the phone to alert Frank...
I ran to beat my own personal Devil, leaving a trail of blood and little bits of glass behind me.
02-15-2010, 05:22 PM
Silverpaw sniffed, bapped me lightly with a paw. We are the bones of the earth and the breath of the sky, little one. He can do us no real harm. But you must get up, now. You do not want to have to answer the questions they will ask you.
((Huh. That's an interesting little revelation. Or she could be exaggerating. o.o ))
02-21-2010, 02:30 PM
Well... it coulda gone worse. I guess.
Frank met me at the bar when I called, brought Em with him. He trusted me enough to trust my advice to not leave her alone, at least. She was happy to see the wolves, more'n a bit freaked out to see me all beat up. Frank was wary. As you'd expect. His little girl'd come home all outa breath, scared, an' full of some half-crazy story about me bein' in trouble. He had no idea what to expect from me.
Give him credit: he listened. If he got a little angry, who could blame him? I spilled the whole story, oh not all the gory details, no, but all the important stuff, an' I stood there shakin', hating myself. Not only had I broken a promise of twenty years' standing to Hunter, I'd spent the last six months lyin' to a guy who'd never been anythin' but square with me, and a little girl who trusted me. If I coulda found a hole deep enough, I'da crawled in right then.
That wouldn't keep them safe, though, so I gave 'em the rest. Showed them my real face.
Em freaked a little bit but then, like any curious, good-natured kid, kinda went into 'ooh, cool!' mode. The big guy wasn't so happy, stayed between us 'til it was real obvious I wasn't gonna try and eat anyone right then and there. Then, with Em pushin' him hard...he offered to help. Said he owed me. Me.
Had it a bit backwards, I think.
Couldn't let him do that, and told him so. He's all the family Em's got. She needs him. Enough people have died for bein' close to me, innocent, well-meanin' folks. I couldn't stand another. Especially not him. Them.
He's smarter'n he lets on, like me. He got it. Emi, she was NOT a happy camper, tried to blackmail him with the 'If you won't I will' thing. Young adult trick 357A. We both squelched that, which hurt- she started to cry, not expectin' me to jump down her throat, I think. For the best, though, much as I hated to do it- an' I think, after a little talk, she got it.
Frank was gonna get her out of town. Close the bar for a bit, take her on a holiday. I didn't think Mane would chase 'em too far with me still here. Hoped not.
'I'll call when it's done,' I told 'em.
'Be safe,' he said. And 'We'll talk when it's over.'
'Remember, you promised to come back, ' she said.
Sounds nice, don't it? The tough chick rides off into the sunset to run off the bad guys. Heh. Real good action movie BS.
If only I had a clue how to pull it off...
02-28-2010, 09:58 PM
tried to blackmail him with the 'If you won't I will' thing. Young adult trick 357A.
*ahem* "Invincible teenager" trick 357A, thank you. :P
03-03-2010, 07:24 AM
It was a movie gave me the idea. Well, a buncha movies, mostly pretty poor, a horror marathon. Some old 50s B-grade stuff, Alien- pretty good, that one, made me laugh- some stupid thing about Werewolves versus Vampires- come on, if a 'were spent five minutes growling and posturing and tearin' at his clothes before he actually finished Shifting? One dead wolf. Or cat. Or whatever. Vamps move fast, and they hit HARD. I know. I've eaten a few.
Not like I had much else to do, though. Frank was outa town with Em, somewhere safe- or at least I HOPED so, figured Mane wouldn't follow 'em too far away from me, but I wasn't really all that sure. Hunter's boys were watchin' Frank's apartment, and listenin' to the street, an' I was workin' and watchin' the bar.
And Mane was out somewhere in the wind, a bad dream you can't quite remember, but can't really get outa your head, either.
I'd been over and over it. Only I knew how fast, how strong, how savage the old brute was. Even Hunter had no real idea. Sure, I'd dropped him, once. Through luck an' through him gettin' stupid and careless, havin' too much fun makin' a mess. Other folks had taken him down, too. One or two had even lived though it. Again, luck and real good planning.
I couldn't rely on luck. If I missed not only would he wipe Hunter- which might bother me for a few minutes, truth be told- but he'd still be after Frank and Em. Not to mention what he'd do to me. And I had promises to keep...
No idea how many hours I lay there, not even really watchin' the set, just lettin' the images an' cheesy dialog wash over me. Was gettin' hungry, had to get to the bar soon...
You know how when you do a jigsaw, you find ONE piece, an' all of a sudden, a bunch more drop in? That was kinda how this was.
I picked up the phone, dialed Hunter. He told me I was crazy.
This is news alla sudden?
03-03-2010, 09:34 AM
Tease! I was anticipating hearing this crazy plan, or seeing it in action!
03-03-2010, 01:39 PM
[Patience, padawan. I'm pacing it out to match some real in-game events. Sorta. A little.
OK, I'm just lazy, sue me.]
03-30-2010, 04:32 AM
The guy coming out of Frank's apartment didn't really look much like him. Oh, he was the right height, an' about the right build. Clean-shaved just right. But he didn't move right, didn't have the big guy's cocky...not strut, not exactly. More like just walkin' through life with his head up, daring the world to do its worst, because he'd already seen it. This guy walked scared, looked around too much.
Not like I could blame him. He SMELLED like Frank, sure enough. And he was bait.
Turned out the big guy had a few very interesting bits of security in his apartment- but Hunter's crew were used to that, knew how to get around it. Something else I'd hafta apologize for. If I ever saw him again. Once it was done, the guy- a kid, really, not more'n 25, name of Jerome- was wearin' a bunch of Frank's clothes, right down to the skin. He'd cut off his hair with Frank's razor, had sat for a while on Frank's furniture. I drew the line at the boy usin' his toothbrush. It wouldn't matter. We'd both also handled a buncha stuff of Em's, makin' sure we smelled like recent contact, or even maybe like she was with us.
It was crazy, a stupid idea. Hunter told me so, sadly. Burke told me so, with a savage grin. Both of 'em were prolly right, but I knew Mane. It would tickle him to think he could do Frank right in front of me, with nothin' I could do to stop it. We all hunt more by smell and hearin' than by sight, and he didn't know Frank close up, far as I knew. An' while the old devil was crafty, he was full of anger an' himself. He rushed stuff. He got careless.
Hopefully it'd work for me again this time.
Plan was to tool around town, slow an' casual like, real gradually closin' in on a specific address down on the docks. Chances were Mane'd smell a rat, sure. Stupid for us to be out in the open. But maybe his bloodlust'd get the better of him. Maybe he'd figure I was just a dumb pup. Risky, real risky if it worked. Jerome knew, had volunteered anyway. Didn't seem like knowin' I was right there next to him improved his nerves any...
A few hours went by, three, four. We had to double back twice to avoid gettin' too close to the warehouse too soon. Hunter was moanin' and complainin' on the radio about it bein' a big waste of time, was calling us back.
But I knew. Could smell it, feel it maybe. He was watching. Jerome felt somethin' as well- Hunter tended to pick folks with real uncanny senses and reflexes. Boy's hands tightened on the wheel, steerin' straight, turning us for the chosen spot, and he spoke one word back to his boss, before I could.
Gotta hand it to the kid- he was a pro. Never changed speed, never blinked, just drove us, cool-like, nice and easy towards the ambush site. Good chance he was a dead man. Good chance we all were. But he did it. Maybe he was a little more like Frank'n I thought.
It was eerie. I could FEEL the old SOB's eyes. And he didn't make a noise. No hunting call, no sound of claws on pavement. He had to be close, real close, but I couldn't hear a gosh-darn thing. He was Shifted down, then, wearin' humanskin, blending in as well as someone like him could. I caught myself twisting round in my seat, trying to watch everywhere at once. Maybe he was suspicious. Maybe it was just part of his game.
Maybe he'd gotten a whole lot smarter since the last time I'd seen him. In which case it was gonna be a real bad day.
I shouldn't have worried. Huh. Doesn't THAT sound funny? As soon as we hit the parking lot, the air split with a howl. I swear the ground shook. Poor Jerome, he didn't know what to expect, froze dead in his seat. Cursing, I popped my door, tumbled out, tore his off the side of the car, grabbed him, dragged him like a Raggedy Andy for the warehouse. Die inside, maybe. Die outside, for sure.
Timing. It was all about timing, keeping Mane's attention, lettin' the others do what needed doin'. I forced myself to slow up a bit, not get outa sight, even as another Call ripped up the city behind me.
Through the door, in. Into the chill, the only light the daylight comin' in through the open rollup. I hoped the van was close enough. I hoped the gear would work. I hoped Hunter had had the pumps checked.
I hoped this wasn't as dumb an idea as everyone had said it was...
05-11-2010, 04:13 PM
If he decided to come through the wall, leave a hole big enough for him to turn 'round in, we might have a problem. The plan WAS nuts, relied way too much on too many things goin' right. For God's sake, I had stolen the ideas from Hollywood...I had to be outa my...
A tiny little scrape, most folks wouldn'ta heard, a sniff. Then that gravel-truck chuckle, and that annoyin' schoolkid call. "Kit-kit-kit-kitta"- and he came through the door.
He was wary enough that he kinda sidled in a little at a time, maybe figurin' I was gonna bap him in the head as he came in. Half-Shifted, all rippling muscle and long jaws, he peeked in, breath clouding in the cold. Looked around, saw me an' Jerome, apparently all alone, grinned, came in.
Laughing, he shook his head as he approached. "And here I though getting stupid as you get older was a human thing, Kit. But here you are. With HIM." Poor Jerome kinda shivered next to me; I think he'd wet himself. "I'm gonna take him apart, play with the bits for a while, give you a good show, girl. Oneathese days you'll figure it..."
About fifteen feet away the big old 'were stopped, sniffed, peered...glared. He'd finally figured it out himself. "Hey- what the- that ain't him."
I couldn't resist. "An' here I though gettin' stupid as you aged was a human thing, Mane." Bad idea. He howled. I cringed. The walls rattled. Jerome kinda half-fainted, holdin' onto my arm.
"It doesn't matter, Kitten. Cause I'm still gonna shred him. And you'll know it was cause YOU tried to get smart. Then I'll.." Heh. Second time he couldn't finish a sentence. We both heard it at the same time, heavy engines. Hummers.
Hunter's boys an' girls. Every bloody one of 'em. Mane glared blood and death, shifted up full. "This ain't over, Kitten. Not by a long shot." He turned, bunched to bolt for the door...
and Burke, dead man with no scent, Lord love him, stepped in and unloaded right in Mane's face, heavy pistols spewin' silver like a Colorado snowstorm.
See, it's like this. Cold don't bother 'were. To a normal human, only diff between a chilly 'were and one in Bermuda is how fast you get shredded. But the cold, it DOES slow us down. A little. And it calms the spirit, or whatever it is that inhabits us, slows our healin', dulls our senses.
Same with silver. Silver won't 'kill' us. But it burns, worse than fire, can mess with our vision, coordination, everything. A wound made by silver won't heal 'till all the traces are dug or squeezed out.
At least, that's how it works for most of us. Mane had done the impossible too many times for me to be real sure it would work- but he sure as heck FELT it. Roaring, squinting, he lunged for Burke, who danced away with a tiny grin, firing nonstop. I Shifted up, fast, ignorin' my clothes, feelin' them burst, slammed into ol' Dad from behind.
Well, all I got for my first run at him was backhanded into a wall. Gave Burke time to reload, though, and I bounced back an' plowed back in as Mane turned back on the guy who was stingin' him. Jerome had kinda come 'round, and was addin' to the noise, blasting away with a nasty little machine pistol. No silver there. Just nasty little hunks of metal. Hey, every little bit helps.
Then the Hummers rolled up, an' things got REAL crazy.
05-12-2010, 12:06 AM
The plan WAS nuts, relied way too much on too many things goin' right. For God's sake, I had stolen the ideas from Hollywood...I had to be outa my...
((Hah! Telegraphed and set the mood for the scene. I heard all the tires screech as the hummers pulled up, the subtle build of the music as Burke stepped into the picture and the cracked and dented brick wall as Kit slammed into it. :) ))
05-12-2010, 06:47 AM
The first ones through the doors were somea Hunter's rookies- but don't think that means they were green. They were just new to Hunter's bizarre game. He recruited, quietly, from the military, ex-cops, veteran clergy, DoD contractors...all six guys were hard, nerveless, and had trained for weeks with the weird gear they were carrying.
Even so, the first guy fired too soon, missed, the odd Ka-THWACK of the launcher followed quick by a CLANG as the heavy barb slammed into the corrugated steel wall of the warehouse. The next team did a little better: a clean hit in Mane's thigh, the lance punching through, flowering out on the other side, drawing an earth-shaking scream from the big guy. The shooter's second didn't get the spike down fast enough, though; Mane grabbed hold of the cable, yanked, turned the gunner into a red streak on the far wall.
Third shot was perfect. Thwap, scream, BANG, as the team second got the piton blown into the concrete slab floor and hooked the cable. One leg tied down. First team had reloaded the spear thrower, got another one into Mane's side, hooked it. He wasn't goin' anywhere, not for a bit, though I eyed the cables and the concrete a little nervously. Could he actually bust them outa the floor? Or could he stand the pain of yanking the big silvered steel hooks back THROUGH to get free? Didn't know, and didn't have time to think about it much. The anchor team were backin' off; they were done, had no other weapons. Time for them to get outa Dodge, and let me an' the others take over.
Mane'd almost forgotten about me, dealin' with Burke's bullets and the barbs. I reminded him by ripping him right up the back, leaving a big red zipper-like slash. It was closing before I was done- but was it a little slower than it shoulda been? That was the hope. Then I got flyin' lessons from my old man again, tucked, slammed into the wall, grunted as a rib popped, pushed off, came back for more. Had to give the Specials time to get in.
Hunter's 'Specials' were his little corps of Oddfellas, folks with odd tricks an' talents. Token, the freaky little mage who never used his real name. Sanja, his near-silent Gothed-out playmate, a wicked little knife fighter with the odd ability to fade clean out of view right in fronta your eyes. Juju, with his powders and little figurines, an' who knows what. A few others.
Juju first, tossin' some sorta junk up in the air. A wind came from nowhere, blew it into Mane's face, coatin' his eyes an' muzzle. He went nuts, but he wasn't goin' down yet. I found a good purchase for teeth and claws, an' started tryin' to just plain chew right through the old beast. Took an elbow in the gut, felt the same darn rib go again, hunched in an' held on. Still, with the pain, the silver flowin' through him, he was healing up near as fast as I could shred him.
Token, next, ducked in close, zapped him good with a big old spark. Dumbbunny got me as well- stung like mad, I lost my grip. That was all it took for me to get thrown again. This time an arm went. The cold seemed to be slowin' me more than Mane, but the screaming itch still crawled through me as I healed. This wasn't over till it was ended, so I picked myself up and, like the cat I am, pounced the old fool's head.
If I ever die, an' end up in Hades, it'll be a rest home compared to that warehouse. Gunfire was comin' from everyfriggin' where- not just Burke, now, but a full platoon of regulars. They had to be careful not to hit me as well, but they weren't tryin' all that hard- I took more'n one bullet. Lead, though, not silver, so I just...hung...on, clawing and gnawing. Token was blasting stuff all over, Juju had poured some sorta circle on the floor around Mane, it was burning. Sasha was dancin' in and out, slashing with a pair of silver daggers I'd never seen, not having much effect, but adding to Mane's agony, an' looking for one good gut or hamstring shot. The refrigeration was failin', overwhelmed, there was more smoke and blood than air, I couldn't see, could barely breathe.
And he still. Wouldn't. Go. DOWN.
We started to lose folks.
Token, first, darting in to try for a shot at Mane's face. Brave little bugger. He took a fist to the top of the head that shortened him up a good six inches. Sanja went berserk, got careless, ended up slumped against a shipping pallet, Juju fussin' over her, tryin' to keep her guts in place.
A warning crack told me onea the pitons was givin' way- but I was the only one who heard it over the chaos. And Gerymane, of course. When it came unpinned, quick as thought he grabbed the cable and flailed, sending the heavy steel bolt at the far end chewing its way through a couple of the gunmen.
Burke wasn't grinning any more. A quick look told me his bandoliers were nearly dry, Mane was fulla holes, fulla metal that SHOULD have all but stopped him in his tracks. And he wasn't going down.
In fact, the more we hurt him, the angrier he got, the stronger he seemed to get, faster he healed. It was as if he was suckin' power right out of the ground, the spirit of the raging earth.
Burke's guns ran dry. The mundane gunners had scattered, two or three of 'em on the ground, not moving. One cable an' the remnants of Juju's magic whatsit was all that was keepin' that demon there.
That, and me.
He'd knocked me loose a few more times. I thought the last one might actually kill me. Like he had in the alley, he got both hands on my neck, claws biting deep, and tore me clean off himself. I left a fang in him. He lifted me up over his head, and wrestler-style, slammed me down into the concrete. Then he put the boot in, and I was airborne...
When I came to, the fire was about done. Juju was tryin' to drag Sanja clear, somehow, get her away.. I HURT, oh Lord, I hurt. Everywhere. An' Mane was still up, bleedin', roaring and cursin', and tuggin' at that slender steel wire that was holdin' him in place. Another minute, an' he'd be free. And we'd have to do it all over again. If there were any of us left.
You know what you must do, little one.
They weren't there. For the first time, when I needed them, the wolves weren't there. But that was their voice, sure enough. And behind it, something else, a deep, powerful throb, like a heartbeat...
Yeah. I knew what I had to do. It scared me witless. On the other hand, wasn't likely things could get much worse.
I dragged myself up, feelin' like a bag full of busted bricks. Hurt bad, I could barely hold onto a shape. Woman, 'were, somethin' in between as my body tried like mad to piece itself back together. My hand went to my neck.
"Hey, you old fool. Catch!"
The talisman made a slow silvery arc in the air as it flew out and away.
And the stupid evil old beast caught it.
05-12-2010, 02:15 PM
((Well, he's certainly putting up both a CO Cosmic-level fight as well as a Hollywood multi-tiered Godzilla fight, so you're keeping to the theme. :) ))
05-13-2010, 11:11 AM
Everything got real quiet.
Not in the real world, not like that- Burke had picked up an assault rifle from onea the fallen guys, was chopping away at 'Mane, going for his knees; Sanja was sobbing quietly- good sign, that, meant she was still alive; sirens were comin', fast...
My head, though, inside that there was just a fuzzy white silence.
For over twenty years I'd worn that hunk of leather and silver, to help keep the animal screamin' inside me from breakin' out, keep me as human as I was ever gonna be again. Now, I had it off and...
Not completely, though, I realized. That deep, rich hum that I'd heard before was there, like a huge choir, singin' miles away, and deep underground. I could almost, if I listened real careful, make out what it was saying...
Somewhere, far off, a wolf yipped happily, broke into a long, cheery howl. And I got it. The Call.
I'd heard bits an' pieces before, in the woods, away from people, when Mane was huntin' me, out in the desert. Now, I heard the whole thing. And I understood.
There are Hunters, and Prey. Always have been, always will be. But there's a Law, too, the way things are supposed to work. Two-legs, a lot of 'em, broke it ages ago. Greymane had, too.
You don't hate the prey, you cherish them. Without them? You're dead. You don't waste, don't kill for fun, leave to rot. You never, ever, EVER go after the young. Ever.
There was a lot more than that, most of it not anything I could explain. I know, sounds all goofy, New Age, Road to Damascus BS. Maybe it was just the pain an' the adrenaline, the beating I'd taken from my old man. Maybe I was panicked, hallucinatin'.
Heard it, though.
I knew, now, down in my heart, what my head had known in a kinda-sorta-humanlike way for a long, long time. Mane was sick. Real sick, incurable. Obvious, if you write it down like that. It's different, though, to see somethin' you've hated an' feared for so long...and know it hurts. That it's ill, and angry, and in pain, and afraid.
Most times, a sick packmate'll know, will go off somewhere, heal up or die. Mane, though, the way he was sick, he couldn't. Maybe he wanted to, but the sickness wouldn't let him. He was old, old, old, an' the pain had set in his bones and his brain.
I knew what I had to do. Now, though, I could do it outa mercy, not anger, not fear. And I could do it, now, was strong enough. I felt easy on my feet, pain gone, big, full of light. Powerful. Alive.
He stared at me, growling, as I stepped up. Even Burke stopped shooting, an odd look on his usually smirky face. The pendant was still dangling from Mane's paw; he swiped, I sidestepped, closed. Walked right up on the poor old mutt, doging the teeth as he snapped, still tugging at the one cable holding him in place. I think he knew, but so old and set in his ways, he couldn't just let go.
I gripped the sides of his head, gentle but firm. Got mauled for my trouble, bad, belly, chest, back, but I barely felt it. He might've been a kitten, play-fighting me for all he could do to me right then. The talisman worked for him, too, was draining the beast outa him, sapping his strength. He coulda dropped it any time, made a real fight out of it, maybe still got clear. He didn't.
Arms bunching with a power I never had before, I turned his head up. My jaws closed as carefully as I could make them, tight around his throat. A twist, a yank...
and it was done.
Later, after someone'd found me a blanket, after the locals were pacified an' sent on their way, while Hunter's folk were picking up their dead an' wounded, he came to me. I wanted to glare at him, but his explanation for not bein' there at the beginning made sense: if we'd screwed up- and we nearly did- someone needed to be left who knew what had happened. The snarl turned to a sheepish grin on my lips. After all- he was just another crafty Hunter. Couldn't hate him for that, not with the song of the earth still ringin' in my ears.
He looked down on me for a moment, then, motors wheezing, sat on the ground next to me. "You're a mess, Kit."
"It'll heal. Always does."
Without lookin' at me, he reached across, the pendant dangling from his hand. "Dropped this." I took his hand, first time I'd ever touched the man other than our tussle at his base, closed it lightly around the talisman. "Don't need it anymore, brother."
He gave me a sharp look, "We still got a deal, Andriessen?" I grinned, nodded at him. "Yeah. We do, old man. I'll just be keepin' it a little different, now." We both sat silent for a bit, him studyin' my face. Finally he grunted. "Hang onto it then. A reminder."
Fair enough. I hung it back on my neck, under the blanket, and we both looked over to where a crew was shoveling Greymane's ashes into an oildrum, mixing them with silver nitrate. Juju, strained and spattered, was there chantin' and wavin', along with a young woman whose name I never did catch.
"Think he'll stay down, this time?" I asked, voice low. Hunter turned back to me, his one real eye knowing and sad."Yeah."
He sighed, looked away. " Kit, I think...I think he was waiting for you to grow up. To figure it out for yourself, so he could go. Like any father- don't look at me like that. He picked a messed-up way of doing it, sure. But I think..." He trailed off, shrugged. I had no answer, so I kept quiet.
I'm good at that.
I had to stick around for some guy from some three-letter agency to ask some questions that proved he knew squat. Hunter came to my rescue again; I went from a major player to a 'civilian consultant' on his say-so. Whoever backs him, it was enough for the suit. I was free to go. And to do somethin' really, really scary.
Try to patch things up with Frank and Em. And maybe, however much I actually can, have a family again.
05-13-2010, 07:28 PM
And to do somethin' really, really scary.
Try to patch things up with Frank and Em. And maybe, however much I actually can, have a family again.
((And a great Hollywood finish wrapped up in a pseudo-"love conquers all" wrapping. ;) Also, that line, just too much "D'awww!" in it. :P ))
05-19-2010, 10:57 AM
"Hey, Frank? Uh...yeah. Kit."
"It's...done. Over. Finally."
"I'm...I'm OK. Kinda beat up, but I'll be good to get back to work in day or two."
"Yeah, soooo...it should be safe for you an' Em to come on home, well...pretty much any time. From wherever."
"Anyway...wanted to let you know. I'll be seein' you soon. I hope."
Some folks I know hate voice mail, say it's too impersonal. Me, I love it sometimes. Makes life a lot less awkward.
05-22-2010, 02:55 PM
((What's the time frame on this? How soon after Frank and Em have left?))
05-22-2010, 05:44 PM
[Left where? If the fight was the same night as the other RP/story, this would've been next morning->a day or so later, depending. It MIGHT cacth them in the air, potentiallly, I suppose, but would they be coming back in the first place w/o an all-clear?]
05-22-2010, 05:52 PM
((Left MC. Just trying to gauge how long they're at Greenskin.))
05-23-2010, 04:45 PM
[ahhhh. well, she kicked around a few days before coming up with the plan, another day to put it together, then the blowoff. She calls after it's done and the mess is cleaned up and she's healed up a bit. 4 days after they left MC?]