Monday, September 16, 2013
Rick vs. the Tiger Yakuza
The brain went blank today, so I pulled a scene out of one of my WIPs. Rick the cougar-shifter has rescued tiger shiftress Nilambari from the evil Tiger Yakuza. He leaves her at his den and does a recon to make sure they’re not being hunted. Unfortunately, the Yakuza doesn’t give up easily …
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Rick flattened his cat form against the ground and watched them poke around. There were seven of them. The original two must have picked up reinforcements. Only one had kept to human form. Rick marked him as the leader, the one who’d need human vocal chords to issue orders. All of them worked in meticulous silence, scouring every inch of rock and dirt. None carried weapons. Sizing up their muscles, weight, teeth and claws, he figured they figured they wouldn’t need any.
Dammit, he should have brought his rifle. He had a sling that let him carry it while in cougar form. He could have picked off a few from a distance and evened the odds a bit. All he had against seven trained Tiger Yakuza were his knowledge of his mountain, and his wits.
His lips pulled back in a feline grin. There were ways other than bullets to trim a tiger pack, as long as one kept a cool head. He settled in to wait and watch.
The tigers found nothing useful to them at the campsite. He watched them cast about for a trail. Good luck with that, you stripe-assed assholes. Rick always went out with his scent disguised, and he knew how to hide where he’d been.
Except he hadn’t been alone at the time, had he?
Even as this dawned on him, one of the tigers chuffed. The others gathered around him and the bush he crouched before. The one on two legs plucked something from its prickly branches. Recalling Nilambari’s thick cascade of hair, Rick could guess what the tiger-man held.
The man barked an order in a foreign tongue, then shifted. The tigers set off single file, along the path he and Nilambari had taken.
Rick circled to another trail, then dashed to intercept. He caught up with the tigers at a break along the western slope. They’d already fanned out to cover more ground. Five minutes of spying confirmed his worst fears: they were definitely working their way toward his den, and the helpless Nilambari.
Seven tigers, any one of which outweighed him. No rifle. Brute strength wasn’t going to cut it. Okay, brain. It’s you and me.
Rick straightened up out of the concealing grasses and screamed a threat at the cats. Seven tiger heads popped up and jerked in his direction. Once he saw he had their attention, Rick turned tail and ran for the forest.
Only one tiger roared—probably the leader, probably a command. He heard their heavy bodies behind him, plowing through the brush. They made no other noise. He slowed his pace, with his ears tipped back to catch any auditory hints. Tigers weren’t the chasing type. They’d let him run and stalk him. He had to stay just close enough to keep them interested. His plan depended on them being clumped behind him. This would have to happen quick.
The number of his enemies, their size as compared to his mountain lion, didn’t matter to Rick. He’d set his paws over every inch of this mountain and carefully marked its borders. He knew where every twig rested, every bird nested, where the deer made their trails and where foxes laired up. This was his mountain, and he’d defend it to the death.
He’d failed in that responsibility only once before. Never again.
Harsh breathing, to the left and behind. He’d let one catch up. It called to its fellows. Thanks, buddy, Rick thought at it. Keep ‘em close. The spot he wanted lay just ahead. These kitties needed to learn a lesson in the art of guerilla warfare.
He leaped on top of a fallen log and stopped there, as if to catch his breath. The tiger stopped as well, and took up position in front of him. Another appeared, then another. He heard a third creeping up behind him, to his right. They would try to surround him, give him several tense minutes to consider his hopeless situation, then move in.
Tigers. So predictable.
He bounced up and down on the log. Gravel, bark and loose earth rained into the dark depression beneath it. The tigers halted their approach to stare. They shared bewildered glances among themselves. Their eyes got even wider when he shifted back to human. They must think he was totally scatbrained.
A tiger slid forward one uncertain step. That would be their leader. Rick split his attention between the lead tiger and the hole beneath the log. This had to go right the first time. There’d be no second try.
A small, black rodent head poked out of the hole. Rick snagged the beast by the scruff of the neck, flung it at the leader, shifted and sprang away in the opposite direction, all in a single breath. His leap carried him right over the startled tiger that had been sneaking up on him from behind. Rick hit the ground and ran like hell.
The lead tiger’s hiss of surprise quickly switched to a yowl of pain. Seconds later the stench hit.
Here’s a tip for you, stripie. Skunks really, really hate it when you chuck them at people. Be sure to tell all your friends.
Well beyond reach of the skunk’s retaliation, Rick caught only scattered whiffs. The leader would have gotten the full brunt of it. That put him out of the fight. No telling how many others had got caught in the blast. He wasn’t in the clear yet.
A mile away, and well upwind, Rick found a thick-boled tree and scaled it. Stretched out on a sturdy branch, he could watch his back trail in comfort. It also gave him a chance to consider plans of attack. His strategy would be determined by how many tigers remained on his trail.
They didn’t get it. Nobody got it. This mountain belonged to him. He would not be killed or driven away. His very territory was his weapon.