Well, since I can’t get enough of the continued silence and disinterest from my nonexistent online friends, I thought I’d post a bit from the NaNoWriMo project I’ve got going. Like I said, I’m going to finish what I’ve gotten started, so this is going to be a long (and for people who accidentally stumble across it, painful) process. Anyway, here goes. It’s a sequel to a book that is mostly finished, but I’m more interested in this one since it reflects my obsession with a certain bearded DILF (*cough*Kotetsu*cough*) Anyway. Here goes. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and suchforth.
“We don’t want you here, Alpha.”
Kusagra wearily looked up from his drink, the alcohol making him fuzzy and slow. He wasn’t sure what Kind of Clan person was growling at him right now, but he was pretty sure it was a cat. Probably. It was easier for a Tiger to be recognized by another cat.
“I don’t want any trouble,” he murmured, dropping his amber eyes to his cup, surprised to find that it was empty. “Just leave me alone.”
“We don’t want you moving in,” he man insisted.
Kusagra laughed shortly and said, “I’m just passing through…”
Passing through. Like he’d been doing for three years since his mate was punished, since his daughter had been taken from him, since he’d challenged his Tiger Clan’s head for control of their tribe and lost. Three years since he’d been driven from their mountain territory onto the fringes of land where the Clans were still relatively free. Three years of drifting aimlessly from one place to the next until someone recognized him, until word got around, until he was recognized as an Alpha and forced to move on for fear he’d try to take over territory.
Kusagra really couldn’t blame them. Though he’d lost due to inexperience and extreme youth, he was the latest in a long line of Alphas directly descended from the Goddess’s mate, the original Tigris, Thorn. Even drunk and weakened by circumstances, he could probably beat the lot of them with his eyes closed.
“Pass a little faster,” he was warned. “Last thing we need is a drunk, dangerous Tiger on our hands.”
“I got it, I got it,” he sighed, gaining his feet unsteadily and exhaling hard to clear the heavy locks of his dark hair out of his eyes. The feedback screen hanging in the corner caught his attention, momentarily distracting him even though it was outdated and small. It was showing a report about the growing power of the City of Purity, where only purebred humans were allowed. Both humans and Kind were being interviewed, most of them worried that this was the first step in a regression to the old ways that the Goddess had tried to bury. “Man…that’s really messed up…”
“Well, they don’t like us, whatever the Goddess may wish for,” another patron said, a Wolf by the scent of him. “She dropped one kind of Barrier, but didn’t reckon the other.”
Hundreds of years ago, all of the Kind had lived within the confines of the Barrier under the tyranny of the Gods, forced to breed, fight, and exist in slavery to their twisted will. That is, until one lone, weak, human woman named Sibyl had changed the course of all their destinies, including her own. She’d taken Thorn as her mate, his lover Baruj as her Consort, and had become a Goddess to end all Gods.
But her victory on their behalf didn’t guarantee that the humans who’d lived outside of the Barrier accepted them, animals that they were. Though the Barrier had fallen thanks to her help, the boundaries remained the same. Most regular humans to this day were frightened of them, avoided them, looked down on them. In cities like the one shown on the feedback, his kind were killed on sight without mercy. To be fair, the main seats of all the Clans rarely tolerated humans to be very close, either. It was an uneasy waiting game that had lasted for hundreds of years and was liable to last for hundreds more. Not even the Goddess could change their fundamental natures, after all, not even pairing with the Tigris and his lover as she had. Now, hundreds of years later, she was sequestered from the world she’d helped create and deaf to their cries.
‘Thanks for nothing,’ Kusagra thought, pitching his coins down on the bartop and staggering outside into the cool night air to take two deep, refreshing breaths. The air teased the shaggy tips of his hair – too long now, and his mate would’ve scolded him had she seen it – and cooled his overheated skin. ‘Tigris, Goddess, where were you when I lost her?’
Four years ago he’d been all of seventeen years old, still triggering the women of his Clan into Heat on accident and garnering the animosity of his Clan head, who couldn’t find a politic way to get rid of him. He’d been happily mated to Savitri, his childhood friend and closest companion. Despite being warned not to sire children, their union had resulted in Savitri kindling, something that didn’t stay hidden for long. Enraged by Kusagra having disobeyed his decree, the Clan head announced that he would kill a son outright along with Savitri for their audacity. After nearly a year of strained waiting, Savitri had brought their daughter Kailis into the world. When their Clan head attempted to slay his mate anyway, Kusagra had tried to defend her.
He’d lost. Not only had he lost the fight, he’d lost Savitri as well as his daughter. He’d been banned from their Clan seat, banished from their territory half dead and half mad with the terror of not knowing if his family would be killed or not. He had no way to contact the remaining members of his family, no way to find out if either one of them lived or not. All he could do was wander this way, and hope that if there was life after death, he could find Savitri and Kailis happy and well there.
Shaking the misty tears from his eyes, Kusagra made his wobbly way out of the back alley onto the broken pavement of main street, the darkened buildings looming around him until he reached the city limits. Most cities in Clan territory were as large and prolific as their human counterparts, but here on the fringes where human hunters were prone to pick off the unwary, the towns were small, poor, and in bad repair.
Across the deep cavern that cut this scrubby little town off from the beginnings of human territory he could see the brilliant lights of one of their major cities. It reminded him of the flourishing city that lay below the Clan seat in the mountains. In his nostalgia for home, for his mate, for the daughter he’d never even held, Kusagra failed to process the strange scent that was teasing his nose. When his thoughts finally prompted him that it was human, he looked around in mild alarm, not really caring if they killed him or not.
A frightened, wide-eyed human youth stared at him from behind the dubious safety of an old tree, aiming a one-shot rifle at him.
Kusagra smiled a little, unintentionally flashing his heavy white canines against his dusky skin, and pointed to his head to silently mark where the boy should aim.
Just then, another man stepped from the brush, aimed, and rapidly fired.
Pain blossomed throughout Kusagra’s body, and as he slid into darkness he realized that these weren’t murderers who fancied themselves poachers.
They were far, far worse.
Hundreds of years ago, pure humans had been suddenly forced to recognize that there were people within the Barrier that had blocked off a portion of their world for as long as they could remember. A delegation from the One God had come from within, bidding them send a group of representatives to exchange ideas and cultures. Until that point, their civilization had deitized technology, valued pragmatism and stoicism, and had rejected the use or presence of animals as dangerous and unstable creatures.
Suddenly, the Barrier had dropped and they had found themselves confronted by people who were able to shift between human and animal forms, by the Gods who now all answered to Sibyl, by a world of strangeness that their science hadn’t accounted for. Their government had collapsed, their way of life had drastically changed, and they’d felt threatened by the curious Kind who crossed onto their land.
Death had been the first and immediate reaction. Kind had died at human hands and humans had been slaughtered by Kind. There was no soul left clean in those days. Slowly, a subtle truce had been called, mostly due to the Goddess decreeing that they should live in harmony or face her wrath. The Kind had almost entirely retreated to the areas where their Clan seats were, though new cities sprang up in human territory and thrived mostly unharmed thanks to fear on both sides.
Still, fragile and weak humans had maintained the balance of power among them, for without their Gods the Kind only heeded the dictates of their Clan heads, who had no interest in human politics or ruling the world. Trying to recapture some sense of control over their surroundings and destinies, humans had begun an ugly but enduring sport that persisted to this day.
Combat. It was a carryover of the games the One God had once held – pitting Kind against Kind, one in animal form and the other in human form. It was fighting to the death in front of crowds for pure amusement. The Tigris Thorn had been born during one such fight, the son of the only matriarchal ruler of the Tiger Clan. They were ugly and vicious fights that had begun once more only when the Goddess had lost interest in their doings. Now, groups of humans took on the lucrative but dangerous task of hunting down Kind and transporting them for sale in what was essentially modern day slavery. The Clan seats didn’t move to interfere and the Kind had no protection under human law, so the trafficking went on unhindered, especially in such small border towns as the one Kusagra had been drinking in.
“Come on, wake up,” a rough voice said. “I didn’t dose you that hard. Come on.”
Blearily, Kusagra opened his amber eyes to a fracture of light and groaned, every muscle aching.
“Yeah, it sucks to get shocked, but I couldn’t take any chances,” a man said, dragging him up by a chain on his collar and forcing Kusagra to woozily sit. “I couldn’t pass on a specimen like you. Sorry, mate. We don’t usually find younger ones in good health.”
Still dazed, Kusagra looked around at his surroundings, confused by even simple things like the pallet he was sitting on.
“Did we give him too much sedative?” a young, strained voice asked. Male, Kusagra could smell that much, even if his senses weren’t working properly. It was the boy who’d been aiming at him earlier.
“Nah, Clan metabolism eats it up. You have to dose them heavy to keep them from shifting and killing you,” the older man said, slapping Kusagra on his shoulder in an almost friendly manner. “See that shading down his spine?”
“Stripes?” the boy said, wonder in his young voice as he looked at the marks that Kusagra had been born with, the darker shading of tiger stripes that declared him a born Alpha.
“Yeah. I don’t know how come he was so far from his Clan, but this one here is an Alpha Tiger,” the man said, fairly gloating with delight. “We’ll have to be really careful with him. Alphas are incredibly strong and dangerous even outside of their Other form, Cipher, you got that?”
“Yes, sir,” the boy said. After a moment, he added, “Are they all dark like him? He looks kind of like the Southerners.”
“Ever since the Barrier fell,” the man said, referencing the darkness of Kusagra’s skin and hair. “Back when the Goddess first dropped the Barrier, Tigris Thorn’s people were mostly pale and had red hair – as time passed they darkened. No one knows why, but probably because all of the smaller Tiger Clans merged into his and the dark ones outnumbered the pale ones. Who knows what happens when animals breed, anyway, eh? Here, now, you – it’ll go better for you if you don’t fight.”
“I…I won’t,” Kusagra managed, and the boy gasped as if he didn’t know that Kind could speak. “I won’t fight….got…nothing to live for…”
Despite his broken, awkward use of their language, his meaning came through loud and clear.
“Ah, well, you may change your mind when you hit the pits,” the man said.
“He…he talks like us,” Cipher said, sounding shocked and scared.
“Don’t let him fool you,” the man warned. “They aren’t human, kid. Underneath this skin you see is a monster, and don’t you ever forget it.”
If you want to see the introduction of a certain green-eyed someone, then go here.