Interlude: The Grey Lion II – A Deadly Game Part 2

Lynx

We tore off into the alien forest, navigating through the oddly colored trees. They were all a variety of different colors, mostly pastel in tone. I had to stay close to the idiot to keep from getting tripped by the annoying tether.

“Come on, this way!” He yelled, teleporting to the side and into a faster sprint. I stumbled from the sudden jerk and snarled in annoyance. We kept running in a different direction this time, weaving carefully through the jungle trees. I had to use all of my agility and strength just to keep up with the insane crash course Ravus was setting.

About five minutes into running, a loud whistle pierced the steamy air. It rang on an extremely high pitch and hurt my ears immensely. I stopped running and shuddered at the sudden ringing and headache. I had forgotten about the tether, and RD did a faceplant when the cord went taught.

“What the hell man?” He shouted angrily up at me from the ground.

“Don’t you hear that whistle?” I snapped at him, shuddering slightly.

Ravus paused, panting slightly. He tilted his head to the side and squinted slightly. “I don’t hear any whistle,” he replied in confusion. “Are you sure you aren’t imagining it?”

“Don’t be a dumbass, of course I’m not imagining this,” I snapped at him. My fur began standing on end, and I fought off the urge to shudder. “There’s this piercing whistle echoing through the forest. God it’s annoying. It’s like the sound version of you,” I grinned savagely at him, but winced when the noise intensified.

“Well I can’t hear it. You probably can because of those ridiculous ears of yours,” Ravus said with a slight smile.

“First of all, my ears aren’t ridiculous, they’re useful and they match my other feline features. Second of all, whatever the noise is, it’s coming from right above us,” As I said this, we both looked up. There was nothing there, just a thick canopy of leaves.

“Whatever, lets keep running. Maybe the noise will stop if we just keep running,” Ravus replied with a shrug.

Ignoring the stupidity of his logic, I picked up him up and took off into the jungle again. As we ran, I could hear the noise begin to follow us.

“Its gotta be a tracker or a beacon for something, probably those giant mutant dogs we saw earlier,” I panted.

“But why didn’t you hear that when we first saw them?” Ravus asked as we maneuvered through the jungle.

“I did, right at the end,” I growled at him.

“Oh yeah, I heard that one too,” He said sheepishly, shaking his head.

Ravus Decem

I shook my head and kept running. I couldn’t hear the noise now, but it didn’t really matter. We continued through the jungle, Looking into the future to time my Movements perfectly. The forest began to thin, and I could see it stop up ahead.

We burst out into a large open space. The light grey wheat-like plants waved lazily under a dark grey cloudless sky (colorblind, remember?). It was a large plain, with gently rolling hills off in the distance and a gurgling stream to my left.

I bent over, breathing heavily. “Well, what now?” I asked.

Lynx didn’t seem that tired. He looked around with slitted eyes, then froze. “The noise stopped,” he said cautiously.

“Aw shit,” I sighed, bending down and picking up three fist sized rocks. “That doesn’t bode well at all,”.

A roar emanated from the forest, echoing through the trees. “Something’s getting closer,” Kitty warned.

“Let’s try to work together better this time. I don’t wanna be tripping over you and vice versa,” I responded. “In fact, I think I may ha-” I was cut off by more roaring and shouting from the forest.

Lynx and I turned to one another, then ran back into the forest. We both knew that to get back home, we had to defeat the other pairs and the dogs. Real life doesn’t always let the heroes save everyone. It doesn’t even always let the heroes save themselves.

I let Kitty take the lead; his hearing was a better guide than mine. The noises escalated, and I could make out some other ones. Large mechanical clicks and whines, as well as an odd rushing noise reached my ears. After about a minute of sprinting, we reached the battle.

As far as I could tell, there were three different groups fighting. The first group was the two mutant dogs, though one was bleeding heavily from it’s back leg. The second group was, cyborgs? They were two short grey skinned aliens, with metallic implants and lights studding their bodies. Oh, and they both had three arms. The third group was composed of two, average height humanoids. They had extremely dark grey carapace, and segmented eyes. Their bodies were smooth, with multiple jointed limbs. All the combatants paused when they saw us, and the sounds of combat died down. That’s when Kitty pounced.

Lynx

I decided to capitalize on their brief moment of surprise, and went after the short yellow cyborgs first. I yowled a vicious war cry and lunged towards the closest one. Luckily, Ravus knew what I was doing, and he teleported up to the other, striking out. The two cyborgs were very slow, their armor combined with their short stature weighed them down. I could hear the two dark brown aliens engage the mutant dogs off to the side.

I slashed the cyborg with my claws, rending gashes in the metal plates on it’s chest. It extended it’s arm and a projectile flashed out. A rock flew into it’s path and incinerated in midair.

“You’re welcome!” Shouted Ravus. I snarled, and threw my cyborg at his. I flipped a log on top of their chests, pinning them to the ground. I grabbed their tether and wrapped it around several branch-like protrusions on the log.

“Swing me!” He shouted again, and teleported off to one side. I grabbed the tether as he appeared ten feet off to the side. The rope contracted violently, and I pulled it, swinging him into the alien/dog melee.

Ravus smashed into the four of them, and pulled the tether, snapping me towards the jumble. I lashed out with all four paws, striking each one with extreme force. The dogs roared and the aliens made a shushing sound as fluid sprayed from each. RD appeared with a goopy rock in his hand and one of the carapaced aliens a couple feet away. It’s battered body slid towards the other alien, as their rope retracted.

The two dogs dropped the chewed up bug-like alien and backed away. Ravus and I exchanged glances, and charged. He ducked under one of the dog’s paw, and came up and body slammed the dog. Simultaneously, I vaulted up into the air above the other dog, using the tether to help Ravus body slam. I landed on top of the other dog, and cracked him on the skull with my two fists together. As my dog was stunned, I darted over to his to slash at it’s injured leg. He teleported to the other side of my dog, and snapped back towards me, hitting the dog in the head again. Both mutts collapsed to the ground, as the world twisted oddly.

We appeared in the throne room, where the alien king bounced happily on his throne. “Congratulations! You win my competition!” King Da’K’Chk said, in a booming voice. I shook the blood and ichor off my claws and paws.

“Gee, thanks. We’re more than honored,” I said sarcastically. “Can you send us back to Earth now? I’d really like to go home,”

“Are you sure? As my current champions, you would be treated like luxurious princes,” Da’K’Chk whined. Ravus looked at me longingly, blinking the mud and blood out of his eyes.

“No, just send us home. Now,” I told him with a glare. The Lord of Unendurable Violence bent his fluffy pink head, and the world twisted away one more time.

Advertisements

Interlude: The Gray Lion I – A Chance Encounter

Lynx

Looking around the apartment, it was cramped, but had large windows, and room enough for one person. As a first place, I could do worse, I thought. The curtains were a nice yellow, though the floor was covered in a hideous green carpet. It had utilities, and a small kitchen. It would do for me, until I could afford something better.

I walked out of the apartment, shaking hands with the real estate agent. He held the signed contract behind his back, as if afraid I would try and take it and rip it up. I smiled warmly at him, happy to have arranged where I was going to live after moving out of my mom’s house. I was going to move to Broadripple, the city near the suburb where I lived, and I was dreading it as much as it excited me. Here, I could fight more crime, help more people. I could live, independent, finally an adult.

I walked out of the apartment building, into the noisy, bustling city, and began the walk back to the train station. Suddenly, to my front and right, I heard a gunshot. Looking around, I saw an alleyway, and stepped into it, removing my shoes and putting them in my backpack as I shifted. In half form, I leapt up the alleyway walls, digging in with my claws until I was on the roof, running directly towards the origin of the sound. Leaping over the gaps between rooftops, I saw it, a jewellery store with a body outside, being dragged in by a masked man.
I dropped down silently, landing on the man’s shoulders, driving him to the floor and knocking him unconscious, twisting as I fell to face the door. Inside were a few rich looking people huddled on the floor, and two armed men. One saw me, and as he shouted to his friend, I leapt on him, trapping his gun between us and roaring in his face. He trembled as I threw him to the floor, only to stagger backwards as the tiny explosion of noise signalled my wound. The remaining robber had managed to shoot me, and I snarled, tackling him to the ground. I slammed his head against the floor, hard, and picked him up, dumping him on the conscious robber, who seemed paralyzed by fear. Stepping out, I grabbed the third robber, dragging him into the store as I heard the alarm get set off. I dropped him on the pile, before turning to face the store owner.

“Hey. I’m going to wait until the police get here, make sure they get into custody alright.” I said, as I chucked their weapons behind the counter. “Did they hurt any of the customers, do anything else?”

“No… No, they didn’t. They just came in here, shouting. One of my customers… The… The woman outside. She ran… The tall one… He just, shot her, no warning. Is she ok?” The portly gentleman asked, worry staining his face with perspiration.

“I’m sorry, no. The gunshot was what I heard, what led me here. Do you need any help getting the merchandise back on the shelves?” I said, gesturing to smashed cases.

The man smiled. “Thank you, you’re too kind.” He said, as he sat down on the counter, running his hands through his thinning hair. I stepped away, picking up scattered jewels and piling them on the counter next to the man. As I moved around the store, I check on the customers for any wounds, but don’t see anything. I picked up this gold ring, and took it over to the growing pile, when I felt a breeze against my fur, and heard a soft breath behind me. Next thing I knew, I was taking a strong right hook to the jaw.

“Metahuman!” I snarl, sweeping my right foot round low as I ducked and turned towards my attacker, intent on taking down the robbers rear guard.

Ravus Decem

Thinker Prime’s final words seemed to echo in my head as I left the museum.

Why don’t you take a break from Boston, go down to a different city for a change?

He was right, of course. Boston, and it’s surrounding towns, held too many bad memories. Still, visiting museums in Broadripple, Connecticut, wasn’t exactly what I called ‘fun’. Even so, it was a nice day. A bit chilly for June, but my lightweight jacket kept me comfortable.

I strolled down the street, enjoying the sights and sounds. It had been almost a month and a half since my powers came out, but I still wasn’t used to being colorblind. To distract myself, I stopped at a food truck and bought a taco.

I’d almost forgotten what real food tastes like. That garbage in the SVRA training facility doesn’t hold a candle to this.

After wolfing it down, I threw away the paper wrapper and turned the corner to walk to the park. I heard a loud boom from behind me. I whirled around, recognizing a gunshot from the training. I sprinted down the block, concentrating on where the shot came from. That’s when I heard a loud roar coming from a couple blocks over.

Holy shit, that wasn’t a gunshot.

Hearing another gunshot, I ran into an alley, and crouched behind a dumpster. I pulled out the plain grey mask I always have to carry, just for these situations.  

Too bad I don’t have the rest of my gear.

I left the alley at a sprint, entering a street with screaming people running away from a store. As I neared, I noticed it was a jewelry store. In the front entrance lay a still body, with a blood stain next to it. Inside the store were several frightened looking civilians, and a pile of three more bodies. What caught my attention though, was the beast.

Standing there with jewelry in his hand was a tall, lean, leonine man covered in tawny fur, with grey stripes. He had a mane stretching down to his vaguely dorky backpack. Immediately, I Moved.

Appearing to the side and slightly behind the villain, I lashed out with my fist, connecting solidly. Quicker than I’d anticipated, the freak spun around, lashing out with his foot.

Should’ve Looked first, I thought as I fell to the ground.

Hitting, I Rushed. Standing up in the still world, I got a close look at the monster. Frozen in mid lunge, his face a snarling mass of furs and whiskers.

No time to waste, the ten seconds is almost up. Noise climaxed in my ears and the world started, just before I hit him in the face again. When my fist connected, I Looked-10 seconds. The beast rolls with the punch, spinning around and palming me in the neck. He follows with two quick strikes to the chest, propelling me back with a crunch- and ducked under his outstretched arm. Grabbing his wrist with my hand, I pulled him off balance. Surprised, he fell right into my swiftly rising knee, winded.

“Get out of here!” I yelled to the stunned civilians.

Not wanting to waste the moment, I Moved behind him and Pushed him off balance with telekinesis. I reached down and picked a gun up off the glass covered floor.

“Freeze, asshole. You’re under arrest!” I shouted. He slowly turned around and saw me pointing the gun at him.

“Arrest? Say’s the guy helping these thugs kill people and rob this store?”

“What the hell are you talking about? You’re the robber.”

“Excuse me? I just STOPPED these guys, you idiot.”

“No you didn’t, I stopped you from robbing the store.”

“Seriously? Listen to me, I just came in here, took down three second rate burglars, and disarmed them. Where do you think I got this GUNSHOT WOUND!” he yelled, gesturing at his bloody stomach.

I sagged, and lowered the gun a fraction as the reality of the situation sunk in. “Oh fuck me. Wait, there’s only two guys here!”

“Seriously. You idiot, come in here, guns figuratively blazing, and let the fucking killers that I caught loose on the streets.” he snarled violently, his fists bunching as he stepped towards me.

“Oh fuck!” I yelled, and spun around around, running out the door.

Lynx

“You idiot, you come in here, guns figuratively blazing, and let the fucking killers that I caught loose on the streets.” I snarled violently, my fists bunching as I stepped towards him.

“Oh fuck!” he yelled, and spun around, running out of the door.

I leapt forward, clasping my hand on his shoulder as tried to get out. I let my claws dig in out of frustration, not some twisted sense of malicious glee at getting my hands on the man who sucker punched me.

“Listen, idiot. You teleport, right? How is that useful if you don’t know where he’s running too. Get back, and keep an eye on the unconscious ones. You have some authority, I assume? Trying to arrest me and all that. Good, sort things out with the police while I track our runner. Shouldn’t be too hard, he reeks of fear.” I grinned, letting myself flow into a more bestial state, a large cat, loose on the streets.

He mumbled something suspiciously like “Fucking asshole,” before turning around to inspect the bodies.

I stepped out, padding softly forwards and sniffing the sidewalk, ignorant and uncaring of the looks of fear and concern from passers by. Catching the scent of the robber, I sprinted forward, twisting lithely through the crowds that he barreled through.

The crowd soon began making way for me as I rushed after the fugitive. I caught sight of him, walking away and looking over his shoulder. He saw me too, and began sprinting. I spread my teeth in a leonine smile, snarling as I jumped onto the wall for half a second to get round a particularly obstinate group. And nearly into an annoying, interfering jackass, with a stupid little mask!

“Rrrrrrrowl!” I screeched, trying to talk before remembering myself. I shifted upwards, grabbing his jacket to balance myself as I entered half cat form. I shook him roughly “I told you to stay behind, you insufferable moron!” I yelled, momentarily forgetting the running criminal. And my complete nakedness.

“Down Kitty! Wait, naked Kitty?” He smirked an annoying smile, “What’s up with the, um, backpack but no pants?”

“Well, SOMEONE let my prisoner loose!” I yelled. “The other form is faster. I had to catch up somehow.” I growled, shifting back to all fours as I left the stupid conversation. I resumed the chase with the prisoner, closing the distance fast. All the while I was aware of the breezes caused by the stupid teleporter with his stupid teleporting. I internally seethed over his sucker punch.

Roaring, I let my frustrations loose on the robber, my claws tearing into his back as I drove him into the pavement. I turned as I felt a hand on my shoulder, snarling into the face of the masked boy. Relenting, I moved off the fugitive, letting the other boy support him as we began to walk towards the jewelry store.

 

The next day, I came downstairs early for breakfast, grabbing the paper from the front doormat on my way to the kitchen. On the front page, I saw a snippet of an article about a jewellery store robbery, continued on page 4.

Witnesses report a large, cat-like metahuman defending the store owner and his stock, taking the three robbers down in seconds. Another metahuman got involved, apparently under the impression that the bestial saviour was the criminal. While the two metahumans engaged in a brief scuffle, one of the robbers tried to escape, only to be chased down the street by both metahumans working in concert with one another. Together, they quickly took down the criminal, and returned him to the store, to await the Police for arrest. At this point, the SVRA claimed responsibility for one of the metahumans, naming a new Agent, Ravus Decem. The other, a currently nameless vigilante hero, has been dubbed ‘Lynx’, and has been seen several times outside of Broadripple.

I smiled and closed the paper. Lynx. I like it.

 

Zero Hour – Lynx I

“’You know, violence is never the answer,’ I whispered in the Thug’s ear, making him jump a foot in the air. Unfortunately, he held onto the knife he was threatening a young lady that, let’s say, he’d rendered into a state of indecent exposure. I didn’t particularly approve of his idea of a good night out, and decided to be a Good Samaritan and stop him from ruining someone else’s.

Turning round, the thug decided to threaten me instead, his scarred knuckles clenching the knife tightly.

‘Get out of here before I cut you, prick!’ He growled at me. I responded with a winning smile, which seemed to only exasperate the man further. He took a swing at me with the knife, so I caught his wrist, and, applying pressure, forced him to drop the weapon. The unfortunate young lady took this opportunity to run past me and into the street, hopefully to somewhere safe.

The unruly gentleman, who, now that I think about it, did have a slight stink of cheap whisky about him, took a swing at me with his other fist. Thinking quickly, I responded by slipping to one side, pushing on his shoulder and making him stumble into the wall of the dank alley. Quite unfortunately, he slipped, landing heavily on the floor, hitting his head with a resounding crack. I took the time that he was unconscious to call the police, you arrived, and here we are.”

The Police Officer looked at me from across the table. It was not a happy look. It was the look of a man who disliked having to do paperwork at 11 o’clock at night.

“Mr. Chambers, while the victim does agree to your statement of coming to her rescue, the man whom you assaulted tells the story quite differently. Apparently you grabbed him, and slammed his head into the wall repeatedly, until he blacked out. Now, considering the state of him when we arrived to the scene, your statement, and the woman you were defending’s statement, I believe we can let you go. We may need you to return at a later date, for more interviews, or to appear for a witness statement.”

Smiling, I thanked the officer and headed out of the interview room, the police station, and onto the street. Crossing the road, I headed into an alleyway. Once assured that there were no homeless people waiting amongst scattered rubbish, and that the darkness afforded me reasonable protection from the prying eyes of the street, I flowed from one form to another. I became slimmer, fat being absorbed into taut muscle. Tawny fur with smoky gray stripes slipping out of my pores. My face narrowed, and my jaw shifted forward, bringing my mouth and nose together as my ears climbed steadily upwards, finishing as pointed triangles on top of my head. My hands shifted almost imperceptibly, my fingers widening as retractable claws slid out. This took place over the time of an agonising minute, an almost pleasurable slow shudder of pain. I nearly forgot to slip off my shoes before they stretched or broke.

My sharp claws dug into bricks and mortar alike, thrust through with unnatural strength, and I climbed slowly. One movement at a time, I clambered onto the roof, and became free to roam around my hometown.

As I leapt around the rooftops, wind ruffling my fur, I reveled in the smell, sounds, sight of my town at night. Racing rapidly homeward, faster than I could approach by car, I cast my thoughts backwards, into memory, remembering the first time I changed like this, terrified and exhilarated all at once.

We were on a field trip, visiting a zoo. It was so fun, running around with my friends, seeing all the animals. That’s when I saw him, Trent; I think his name was, the smallest kid in our class. He was trying to see over the fences, get a better view of the lions. I was running over before I even knew, dashing towards him as his foothold slipped, and he fell straight in, dropping almost on top of the male lion. I didn’t pause to think, just vaulted the fence, landing in front of the younger boy, who was silent with shock. The lion let out a coughing growl, and I stared into its merciless eyes. Raising my arms, fully aware of the frailty of my young body, I shouted at the lion, as the world distorted into startling clarity, blues and greens flashing to vibrant life before my eyes. Sure I was about to die, I screamed at the lion. And, amazingly, it took a half step back, suddenly unsure. I stayed still, standing in front of Trent, who had begun to sob quietly behind me. I don’t know how long I stood there, facing the lion. The next thing I remember was a strong arm wrapping around me, and carrying me from the lion’s den.

They sent me home early, and I went to my room. I was on my bed, lying over the covers, fully clothed, shock stopping me from thinking, from acting. As I stayed there, time flew, and darkness claimed my room, sunlight no longer hitting my small window. And then it started. The itching. That same vivid coloration, blue and green growing brighter, even in the darkness. And the itching, growing worse and worse until I ripped my skin with my nails. And then I entered pleasant darkness.

 

Standing up from my bed as I woke, I looked into the mirror, staring at the feline lines of my face, the tawny golden fur with dusky grey stripes hiding within. My eyes, vertical slits cutting through the luminescent green, took in all of this in incredible detail, showing me the play of air currents on my thick fur. Staring at the mirror, I placed my hands on it, and my hard claws clicked against the glass. I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, and turned to my window. Sliding it open, I slipped out with fluid grace, my new claws somehow naturally finding weak mortar as I climbed to the roof. Spotting the house next door, the roof a few meters away, I ran for a jump few thirteen year olds would have dared try. Reaching the edge of my roof, my toes curling lightly over the lip, I leapt. And I was flying, soaring through the air, and landing perfectly on all fours on the neighbors’ house. I let out a ululating howl of triumph, a screeching roar that reminded me of the hungry lion. And then I ran on, into the night, reveling in the freedom of the rooftop jaunt.

 

Oh god, that was a good day, way back then. The first time I found felt free of a mother I saw as oppressive, a father who wasn’t mine. I became strong, fast, useful. I could help people, save people, and look good doing it too. I grew up with pictures of the SVRA teams everywhere, knew exactly what getting powers meant, what it meant I HAD to do. So I did it, my own way. No way I was giving up new found freedom, not even to join a super team. I learned to fight, which wasn’t hard, not with my skill-set. And I learned when to run, and circle back. It was fun, and it was four years of intensive self training. I grew up, and fast. There were rumors about me, some good, some bad. I felt like a badass, a superpowered crime stopping machine. Of course, I wasn’t really, but pride does go to ones head. And of course, with pride, comes the fall.

I cringed away from that memory, ignored it, shoved it down. Pain, and fear, not something I wanted to relive. Not when I do in half my nightmares. So I buried it beneath sensations, the wind in my fur as I flew across the rooftops, gaining speed with each leap, each thud of the ground against my feet. My eyes, spotting vivid colours in the dark of night, locked onto the lit windows of my house, my open window, and I leapt, crossing the street in a blur of motion, and dived into a forward roll through the small space. I shifted back as flew through the window, becoming clumsy, slow, weak. Deaf, dumb and blind, I thumped down on my bed, my heart beating fast, purging the adrenaline rush from my veins. I looked at my nightstand, the cup of still warm cocoa there, left by my mom, with a note: Stop sneaking out, Stephen. ❤
Grinning to myself, I sat up, picking up the cocoa and drinking from it in deep gulps, grateful for the sugary heat as tiredness caught up to me. Putting it down half finished, I collapsed, fully dressed, onto the bed, and slept, entering the dreams behind my eyes.

Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I ran towards them, my stride eating up pavement, my heart leaping into my throat. A sudden, deafening crack, and I stagger, before pushing onward. The man with the gun, shouting at me, shaking her roughly by the hair. I roar, becoming more bestial, shifting to all fours, my tail whipping out behind me as my clothes rip off my back. I cover the ground faster, take two more hits to the body, and leap at him, yowling my defiance, knocking him down. And slamming his head against the ground. The woman screamed as my charge knocked her away, but the man was silent, our blood mingling as his flowed from his skull, leaving him. I locked eyes with the dead man for a moment, before racing off into the night, away from the man I’d killed.

Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I ran towards them, dodging the bullets I knew were coming. The man threw the woman away from him, taking up a better shooting stance. I roared at him, taking a shot in the chest as I leapt into him, smashing his head into the ground. My blood mingled with his, as his life left him. I screamed in rage, fleeing the man I’d killed.

Movement, screaming, raw cries of terror. I forced myself to stay humanoid, ducking into a tackle at the last minute, driving him off her and forcing him to release her grip. I felt his breath leave him as I hit, and he went down, hard, his skull thunking dully against the ground, which was soon painted red with his blood. Why, why couldn’t I stop killing him! I roared, leonine, furious and afraid, and leapt at a wall, fleeing to the rooftops to escape the murder scene.

I woke up, sweating and screaming, as a cool, gentle body hugged me, rubbing my back. I leaned into the hug, crying softly, as my mother patted my hair, held me, and made everything alright.