Title: Battle Not With Monsters - reposted
Description: (Downtown Vancouver) (pre-raid)
Joss Hunter - January 19, 2010 06:11 AM (GMT)
Back when the law mattered, this was illegal in many countries. Cruel, they said. Dangerous, others complained.
In Russia it was used to test the temperaments of some purebred dogs. In South Africa, children took dogs from place to place so that their parents would not be caught. It was inuawase
in Japan, later touken
, where it came with odd rules stipulating that fighting dogs must not make a sound, stop fighting, or attempt to mate with their opponents. Bloodletting was all right, though.
So really, even back when the law mattered? The law didn't matter.
Joss imagined that at one time, back when these had to be hidden, there would have been a tense hush broken only by snarling and snapping and the occasional shocked yelp. The right to shout and growl was reserved for those who fought to earn it, which of course... would not be humans. That was adults for you, though. Always letting someone else fight their battles for them.
Now they didn't even have the decency to shut up and let a canine die like an Alpha should. Now they were screaming, shouting orders, urging their dogs onward as though spoken words had any meaning for them. They knew what to do. They'd been given helpless animals at first, obviously, but they were past that now--or else they wouldn't be here. Bait animals. Joss thought that perhaps he knew what it felt like to kill a bait animal, and the thought perturbed the boy as he watched what the experience had made of the pit bull everybody was putting their money on. When he looked at the prize winner's owner, he thought he knew what it must be like to watch an abandoned housepet with its muzzle taped shut. He thought, You don't have much longer.
He thought, You came here to die. You just don't know it.
But Joss hadn't come to kill him. Had he? He didn't think so, but Joss didn't know anymore what he was planning, if it could be called a plan at all. He knew his Phase was close, and he wanted to shred something.
He'd come to find something to rip apart. Something with strong muscles and warm blood and a rich rank smell that just plain had it coming
. That was what he wanted. So he hung back, because that was... that was... that was them
. And he wasn't like them
, was he? Like those wolves. Those people who streaked into Vancouver at night to kill and steal, no. No, he was nothing like them.
He could stop himself. He knew he could. Watching the fight, though, he couldn't imagine how.
It took about fifteen minutes for the young werewolf to disconnect from his awareness of the men and women around him as being humans, thinking and feeling creatures something like himself, like he had been once and in many ways always would be. Hard to remember that they might be nice to their children, might enjoy gardening, might have given to charity back when people cared about all that. Hard to remember that there was more than this, more than their ceaseless demands for suicidal obedience from the animals they considered their property.
Joss walked away. Out into the night wandered a young boy who had--as far as anyone present could tell--become too disgusted or bored by the violence to watch it any longer. What returned slipped through the silvery moonlight. Well-muscled but with the big paws and awkward boisterous energy of a puppy, it kept to the shadows but might as well not have bothered. The light seemed to catch in his coat, igniting pale fur into a clear and ghostly white.
Dogs with angry snapping jaws were the center of attention tonight, but it would be a while yet before anybody noticed this one.
Kiran - January 19, 2010 06:41 AM (GMT)
The leather of his shoes was just to the point of comfortable; he'd found them in a hunting warehouse in a smaller town on his way north out of Seattle. His old ones had been literally falling apart - a few unplanned transformations had not helped the structural integrity of the footwear.
The cigar had been from an empty store in downtown itself. Nobody cared about smokes when the entire city was dead. It wasn't lit, just yet. He was just chewing on it, holding it between his teeth.
Following the freeway north had been a decent strategy, so far. There were always towns along the way, most of them deserted and free for him to scavenge from. Occasionally, large cities. It had been some time before Seattle, however. And crossing the great river had posed a bit of a challenge. The signs outside the area had called it "Portland" and "Vancouver." Both had been reduced to not much more than waterlogged rubble.
But this Vancouver seemed to be in much better straights. The outlying suburbs were deserted, but still intact, and so far he had not seen significant sign of a pack. He wasn't really sure if this was a good thing or not. But for now, he could continue to take things with relative ease.
Kiran held the cigar in his fingers and sniffed the air. He could scent faint signs, but nothing particularly recent. It had been at least two weeks since anyone had been near this road.
Joss Hunter - January 19, 2010 06:42 AM (GMT)
Joss considered returning straight into the crowd of spectators, but he didn't really want to run in and savage every human he found.
Well, he did. But it seemed likely to him that he shouldn't. All those people might be more trouble than they were worth, particularly since if he did that he would have to fight through all of their dogs to get to them. Not that he couldn't, of course--it was Joss' expert opinion that he was capable of defeating anything that wandered into his path. He just... didn't think all those dogs deserved to die. They should be out, free, hunting and eating and living real lives.
So he circled the outside of the building, waiting for someone to leave. Before long, a glowing rectangle of light opened up in the side of the building and closed as a tall man with short-cropped hair emerged and shut the door behind him. Joss twitched an ear in annoyance at the sound of the stranger urinating against the building.
Like a flash, Joss streaked out into the moonlight and ran past the man. No doubt assuming someone's bait dog had gotten loose, the man zipped up and followed, cursing.
"Hey, boy," he called, clicking his tongue in an inviting tsk, tsk, tsk noise. "Come on, boy. You don't want to go over there, boy, those doggies aren't nice puppies like you. Come here, damn it!"
Having found a stake to which were tied several weary-looking anxious dogs, Joss turned to face the man just out of their reach. The dogs pulled themselves to their feet, wondering what the human master was going to have them do.
"You're a pretty boy, aren't you. C'mere, boy," the human called.
So Joss did. The dogs behind him snapped their jaws at the blood-scented air, but could only watch.
Kiran - January 19, 2010 06:43 AM (GMT)
Further into the city, the night was still clear and calm. Still no signs that he need worry about, still nothing to catch his attention. He should find a store of some sort soon, see if they still had bottled water. Not that he needed to worry too much about many of the water contaminants that humans did, but cities tended to mean humans which meant bodies. And he'd run into spoiled water before. No matter how good werewolf healing was, even as a Regen, water with a dead body in it was no good.
He was entering a business district now; warehouses and such. The trickle of shouts and yelps reached him, and soon enough the scent of blood trailed its way to him. Men, and dogs.
They were not on the hunt, though. He could tell that much by the way the dogs were yelling, so to speak. No, it sounded more like... fighting.
He might just have to check it out.
Joss Hunter - January 19, 2010 06:43 AM (GMT)
There was uncertainty for a moment. A human was dead; Joss hadn't meant to do that. But he had. The tense aggression of the tethered dogs was getting to him, maybe. Or maybe it was the way his father had yelled at him yesterday. Or maybe he just killed somebody, again, like he always seemed to need to do.
The snowy-furred wolf shook himself, rattling the air with a sigh. When he looked at the dogs, one of them licked his nose and became quite suddenly deeply interested in some scent on the hard-packed ground. Another used this as an excuse to inspect that oddity as well.
Of course there was nothing there. It was the same ground they'd been lying on, scratching, and pissing on for the last hour. But the white dog was in charge, and they knew it. They knew it because Joss knew it, and as long as the situation could be made to make sense again by putting it on the shoulders of some other dog who could be in charge, it didn't matter who it was or why or how he got there.
They didn't think so well these days, anyway. Best to let this new guy deal with it, and they'd just do what they'd always done. They'd fight what they were told to fight, and then they'd get to eat. What else could they ask for?
Joss was of two minds about the deference of the little pack of scrapping angry animals. The boy in him found it extremely difficult to deal with the fact that he... well, he felt like he owned a bunch of fighting dogs. That wasn't any better than these others, was it? How could he make this different? How could he make this okay?
The wolf in him merely accepted it as his due. He was going to take them out of here. He was the one who could unlatch cages, unstake tethers, unbuckle muzzles. He was the one who could lead them out to hunt until there was no one left to drag them back where they were slaves. Given that... of course they were his pack.
On another night, it would have been a toss-up between the two of them. Tonight, though... tonight the air smelled like blood and Joss had a hungry pack to feed.
Kiran - January 19, 2010 06:45 AM (GMT)
The streets were deserted; grass and weeds spreading from the corners where concrete and aluminum walls met, slowly taking back the city that was once theirs, centuries ago.
Closer, closer, the yelling of the men got stronger. Aggression. The dogs split into two voices -- excitement, and pain.
Fighting of some sort, that had to be it.
There wasn't nearly enough sounds of human pain for it to be a fight between the people. Dogfights, then. He was familiar with it, on the fringe. Some of the more wealthy individuals back at home still kept Dogo Cubano, while the campesinos had scrawny jungle mutts, if anything at all.
A fresh scent of blood emerged, and somebody screamed. A person. One of the humans was dead.
Kiran continued to walk toward the source.
A large building, lit poorly inside -- all the humans were inside. He could hear the continued yelling as their dogs continued to fight.
Outside, a pack of the fighters had gotten loose. Kiran could just see the boot of the man who must have died. In the middle of the pack, tugging at one last tether, was a wolf.
The dogs started barking at him.
Joss Hunter - January 19, 2010 06:46 AM (GMT)
Joss heard and felt loosened dogs dragging their leashes around him, sniffing each other nervously. These ones hadn't had to fight each other, but other canines were always suspicious and often enemies. Humans said so.
It was an attitude Joss could well understand, as Humans did the same to each other: to their children, to their wives, to people smaller than they were. He knew how it felt, although... although he was not a dog. He did not obey.
Barking. Conflicted. Some wanted to run, but couldn't, because Joss was here and so was everyone else. Some wanted to attack, but couldn't, because Joss was here and so was everyone else. A half dozen dogs stared warily out of the corners of their eyes, snapping off quick barks and low growls.
Human. Humans were masters. Yes? Right?
Joss stood in the center of them, and while the dogs had their ears flattened down and their heads angled sideways, Joss merely watched the man. The wind wasn't in the right direction to learn anything interesting, but Joss was concerned about no stupid Human. Did he have hands that could hurt? Obviously! Did he have a gun that could wound? Maybe.
If it came to a fight, could the Human win?
No way, he thought. He trotted forward, ahead of the uncertain canines around him. It wasn't that Joss was consciously challenging and dominant; it was simply that he couldn't imagine himself losing to anyone for any reason, and his bravado looked pretty much the same as Alpha entitlement.
The wind shifted around, the edge of the breeze carrying a scent far more dangerous. A scent more like Joss' own than the Humans inside. The man was a wolf. Like those people who came to Vancouver to steal. Like those people who had nearly killed him once already.
Nearly, he reminded himself. That's the thing about dying. Either you do or you don't.
So he was like those people who had failed to kill him once already, when he'd been just a boy. Just like this one was going to fail, should he make the mistake of trying. He wasn't an experienced fighting dog, he wasn't very large, he wasn't on his own ground, and he wasn't backed by what he'd call a reliable pack.
But he was Joss, and that was quite a lot. It would make up for the rest; it always did.
Kiran - January 19, 2010 06:48 AM (GMT)
A 'real' wolf, a natural one, should not care about the fate of dogs. A real wolf would not be freeing them. It might be smart enough, but it should not care. Nor should it really know how.
But Kiran had not heard of a werewolf leading a pack of dogs.
He must not be very strong, or he must be very alone, to take company with dogs. Kiran hadn't noticed any particular scent markings, especially not ones from this wolf.
Taking a slim case out, Kiran put the cigar in it, and then slid the small metal box back into his pocket. He almost seemed to squint as he looked at the wolf, with a laid-back studying nature.
"I did not think this was anyone's ground," he rumbled in a low, gravelly voice. It sounded like he'd been smoking his entire life -- he had, but as a werewolf and a Regen at that, it wouldn't have affected him.
Joss Hunter - January 19, 2010 06:48 AM (GMT)
Joss halted as the werewolf spoke to him. It wasn't an apology; Joss wouldn't have accepted one anyway. Merely an explanation, and not a bad one. After all, this wasn't Joss' ground. He didn't live here, and he didn't hunt here.
Finally, he thought. One of these assholes who might actually care when he's messing around with somebody else's shit.
Whether this was true or not didn't matter. Even a hint of it was an improvement over the usual 'creep in and steal things and creep out' routine Joss sensed was the norm. The stranger--this other werewolf--seemed interested in him, but not so interested that he couldn't think about things like lighting up a cigar. Joss himself wasn't a smoker, but he knew that if he were looking for a fight, he'd be deeply and completely focused on his enemy.
It was a casual gesture, then. If this guy wasn't worried, then he was nothing to worry about.
He decided to respond in kind.
Joss shook himself briefly, feeling the moment of tension scatter away from his fur like dust. If this other one was going to decide not to fight, Joss could acknowledge that and reciprocate. He didn't really care to fight this guy, either. The stranger hadn't done anything wrong that Joss had witnessed, and that meant his energy was better spent elsewhere on people who most definitely had stepped over the line.
It would have been nice to respond to the guy. What he'd said was totally reasonable, and it wouldn't be right to just blow him off. Joss considered it extremely important to reward appropriate behavior in adults, so that perhaps more of them would make a habit of it. He just wasn't entirely certain how to do that right now. No one had ever expected him to communicate so specifically when he was in wolf form. Usually it was just a lot of angry or fearful growling and snapping.
When Kiran made a comment about this ground belonging to someone, Joss darted an angry glance to the Human he'd pulled to the dirt. A shiver along the skin of his back and a stiffening of the white werewolf's lips said clearly, "His ground, and he seriously fucked up."
Kiran - January 19, 2010 06:49 AM (GMT)
One rough-calloused hand came up and ran through steel hair. His eyes slid over the body, the dogs, over to the building with the limited lights inside and the shouting and the growling and the yelping.
Kiran looked back at the wolf.
"They did something, affronted you, now you take vengeance, yes?"
Soon enough, the fight would end and somebody would come out to check on the dogs.
What happened really didn't matter too much to him, although it was likely that Kiran would help the wolf, if it came to that. He had no reason to want to help humans that enjoyed blood sport.
Joss Hunter - January 19, 2010 06:50 AM (GMT)
As if it weren't obvious!
At the implication that there could be any doubt, the small wolf's expression turned incredulous, and he turned backward to look at the dogs behind him, then pointedly back to the stranger.
These humans hadn't done a thing to him. They didn't have to. These humans were bad. They'd have hurt him if they could, he had no doubt. Adults were like that. Always thinking of new ways to remind everybody else that they were in charge.
Joss had had his fill of that, and now that he thought about it... he was here for vengeance. Just what he thought he was going to do... he was less sure of. He didn't want to kill them all; he hadn't even really wanted to kill this one. One thing had just... sort of... led to another, and here they were. Two werewolves, some dogs, and a dead guy.
He didn't want to kill them. Except that he did. He should, shouldn't he? Or this would just keep going forever. But these were people. How many people could one man kill? How many deaths could a kid just edging into his teens possibly have on his hands?
This wasn't right. What was he doing? This didn't serve anybody but himself! In his sudden uncertainty into his own motivations, the young werewolf's posture flagged a bit. He should just take these dogs back to the woods where they could join whatever packs of wild beasts were running out there, and call it done.
But if he ran off with these dogs, that stranger would get blamed for what he'd done. That wasn't right, either. Joss had started this situation and now they were all in it. Joss had to get them out. It didn't matter who this guy was or what happened next; he owed them all a solution.
He just didn't have one. No man worth his blood and bone left another man to face the consequences of his own actions.
The sound of sudden cheering exploded out into the night. Time was up. Decision. There was no time to sit and ponder like a spineless child. A man must act. If he stayed, the dogs wouldn't know where to run, and they'd be caught by their masters. If he was here to do something good instead of just vent his own anger, he'd run and he'd take them with him.
Torn momentarily between that decision and the situation he was leaving Kiran in, Joss resolved that he would only be gone a moment. No way was he letting someone else take the fall for this.
He bolted through the small dogpack, picking them up in his wake and speeding further out into the shadows. The door opened, casting warm illumination over the moonlit yard. Joss heard angry shouts behind him, and silently apologized to the stranger. He'd be back. He would. The other werewolf couldn't know that, had no reason to assume it, but Joss was not the kind of guy to just leave him there.
Not gonna happen, dude. No fucking way. I just... need to get them out of here...
Kiran - January 24, 2010 04:20 AM (GMT)
Kiran stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jacket, looking around. He was almost... waiting. It was a fitting action. This wasn't his territory, and even though it wasn't that of the young werewolf in front of him, the boy (all of them, youngsters to him, except the eldest. Didn't meet many of those kinds, the elders. They often actually had thoughts worth listening to. But the rest... even if they were old enough to be his siblings instead of his children, they still acted, spoke, believed like children. Naive, innocent children.) was on familiar ground and had reason for being here.
His actions from this point would depend on those of the white werewolf. Many of the options lead to him leaving the scene without any further thought. But others could prove interesting.
A silence of beasts and then explosion of shouts cut a number of those paths short, and when the men came out they found Kiran leaning against a vehicle, watching in the direction of where the strange pack of dogs with a wolf leader had gone.
It didn't go over very well when they saw the dogs gone, and Dave lying on the ground in a pool of blood. It certainly didn't help the situation when the dark-maned man in the jacket seemed rather unconcerned about the whole scene. Nonchalant, even.
One could easily understand why the humans didn't take the man's statement that no, he did not kill Dave, seriously.
For the most part, weapons had been prohibited from the fight. It was too easy for the defeated to lose their temper and try and "get even" with the victors. But that didn't mean that the humans were helpless. Anything could become a weapon, especially in an industrial area. Pieces of lumber, a metal pipe, the chains that the dogs were tied with.
These did not bother Kiran. He even warned the men as they advanced upon him.
It wasn't his fault they ignored the warning and laughed ominously as they continued to come closer.
So really, no one could blame him for very calmly taking off his jacket and tossing it into the bed of one of the trucks.
It was self defense. They outnumbered him, at least a dozen against. They had weapons to use against him.
And it was just to be expected what happened next when one of them swung a chunk of lumber at his side.
He felt a twinge of regret as the boots shredded around his expanding paws. The jeans were uncomfortable for a moment until those too, shredded and fell to the ground in pieces around his now clawed feet.
Kiran was used to the pain of changing. Even relished the surge of power that came with the hybrid form, as he rose up over the men, hot breath steaming out into the night air above their heads, above their vehicles, easily half again as tall as them, almost twice.
He'd warned them.
Joss Hunter - January 24, 2010 05:14 AM (GMT)
Running was something the dogs could understand. Mouths open, ears back, they gave themselves to the sheer joy of running. Most dogs were not so much wolf as they were puppy and marshmallow, but these were only a few hungry days from being totally wild already. And look... they already had a pack.
They'd be okay. That guy, though...
Joss didn't even know him, and had no way to tell if he'd need help. Quite probably he wasn't relying on some pup to bail him out if a fight broke out, but that didn't mean Joss could just ditch him. Joss needed--needed--to be there. Even if some random dude wasn't pinning all his hopes on Joss, wasn't laying his fate on Joss' shoulders, there was nothing in the universe more important to Joss than making sure that someone could if they needed to. Joss needed to be there, needed to make sure that everybody could count on him, and that he would not let any of them down.
He had to.
The others ran on, and Joss skidded to a halt, twisting his body to bolt back in the direction from which they had come. He was back there. That guy. Werewolf or not, adult or not, it had no bearing on what Joss' obligations were. He wouldn't be an unreliable coward who abandoned people just because grown-ups had done it first, just because they started it. That excuse had never worked on his mother, and damned if Joss would start using it now.
It would have been nice if this were Vancouver and he had some clothes stashed somewhere to go talk to those guys. Maybe make it clear that the other dude was a stranger, and ought to be allowed to go so that they and Joss could talk things over privately. However, as Joss got closer and heard the sounds of snapping and ripping... it became clear that the situation was far beyond that, now.
His claws dug into the dirt as he threw every scrap and spark of abundant puppy-energy into getting to the fight as quickly as possible. Still. He was a rather large puppy, and entirely unaware of what possible difference that made, anyway. Someone was taking the fall for him, and there was just no way.
The packed dirt was already almost fully-occupied by a mountain of muscle and fur which Joss' conscious mind erased from the scene as being irrelevant. After all, that was an ally. He didn't need to bite that.
It wasn't until a streak of white fur had slammed into one of Kiran's opponents and driven him into the dirt with the sheer velocity behind the impact that Joss had a moment to look behind him.
Holy shit. It wasn't often that someone else was badass enough to register on Joss' scale. Usually his own hyper-inflated ego dwarfed and warped any assessment of anyone else's capability. But... seriously. That guy was huge. Joss had never seen one that big.
Quickly, though, Joss' dominant paradigm reasserted itself.
So I'm gonna be big like that someday. Huh. ...Cool.
Kiran - January 24, 2010 05:48 AM (GMT)
He'd warned them. And now he was watching the world through the red haze of rage and energy that crackled through him, just itching to be used.
The rather unfortunate fellow who'd been right at the very front, the one who tried to introduce Kiran's ribcage to a 2x4, got stepped over as Kiran dropped him and reached into the pack of men who were trying to get away from him. Kiran ignored the bruising on his ribs -- it would be better by tomorrow.
Even though they were running -- those that still could -- his mind just turned it to excitement. Running meant that you were guilty. Guilty meant that they had done wrong. Guilty meant that they deserved punishment, to be brought to vengeance.
Kiran would bring them their vengeance.
It should have been scary how easily he knocked them down, knocked them flying, threw them against the trucks and the ground and each other.
For Kiran, it was what he expected. It was normal. It was what he had done for the formative years of his life after his first Change. This was El Lobo Diablo, the monster that had ravaged the Cuban landside under the direction of the Revolutionary.
He didn't notice the white youth slamming into someone beneath him. The men were starting to scatter, after the first few had slumped to the ground or over the piles of debris or against the cars. Picking one, he started after the man, growling under his breath with a running undertone of eagerness. The claws on his feet left deep furrows in the dirt, and his paw rose above a deep dent and five puncture marks on the hood of one of the vehicles as he grabbed it for an easy hand-hold.
Joss Hunter - January 24, 2010 06:32 AM (GMT)
Quite neatly and seemingly effortlessly, that stranger was setting the humans to rout. It meant that Joss could be more concerned about his own honor than about the actual wellbeing of his temporary ally.
Now they were running. They had started this, really. They had. They had done so many awful things, and profited from so much suffering. Then they had attacked someone, not expecting a victim who could defend himself. From a certain perspective, they deserved every bit of this: every scream, every broken bone ground in the dirt.
On the other hand... on the other hand, this wasn't even fair. This was a slaughter, and every single one of them was about to die here tonight. Not even one would survive. Not one human would walk away. Just a couple of monsters who may or may not have had the best of intentions but it didn't matter if everyone was dead!
Maybe if he could just...
Maybe it didn't matter. But the idea that Joss could walk into a situation and walk away from a massacre... how could he deal with that?
Just one. Just one. If Joss prayed, he would have asked for just one person to come away from this with their life. Joss didn't need to, though. There wasn't anybody out there who could or would do a damn thing for Joss that he didn't do himself.
So it was that he bolted out in front of the rampaging beast, looking for all the world like a single Tokyo resident halting in the street to tell Godzilla 'no further.'
Thankfully, Joss had never seen that movie and never would, and if he felt afraid--or looked it--the feeling was overridden by the certainty that this was the right thing to do. Maybe trying to save one stupid human who didn't deserve it would get him killed, but if Joss had to watch one more person die today he wouldn't be able to live with himself either.
Kiran - January 30, 2010 09:58 PM (GMT)
He barely registered the wolf-child enough to step around him and continue on. They were running, they were guilty, he would absolve them of their guilt. Kiran would carry out their penance upon them.
A sharp bark buzzed about his ears and was ignored; must just be the dogs. Who could blame them, exciting things were happening.
Reaching forward, Kiran dug his claws into the shoulder of one of the men, yanking him back and to the ground.
What was that pain on his ankle? Did he step on something? No matter; Kiran shook his foot and moved on.
Joss Hunter - January 30, 2010 10:24 PM (GMT)
It wasn't fair. Everyone here was going to die. They were all going to die, and if Joss hadn't come--
Well, they'd still deserve to die, and quite probably they'd have killed each other anyway. But it wouldn't have been on his hands, and that made it all different. Sometimes what was right and what was wrong was about more than what people deserved. Giving people what they deserved, what the deep-rooted Calling ground into his bones screamed that they deserved, was easy.
Giving them better? That was hard. But sometimes, when a man's standards were high enough, he had to do hard things.
Like this. This guy--this stranger, this werewolf--was enormous. Some part of Joss' brain said, 'hey, we realize that this is important but we'd like to not die and that may well happen just so you know,' and he ignored it. Running was easy. Running away because this guy was big enough to get his way...
He couldn't do it. Might didn't always make right. Being older, being bigger, being stronger, didn't mean being better. Anybody with a brain or half a heart could understand that.
This stranger's heart wasn't precisely in the wrong place, Joss reckoned. He was defending himself, which was reasonable. These men were bad, which was true. Joss had killed one first, which was undeniable. No, this guy wasn't Wrong in the way that things were either Unacceptable or Essential, and Joss intuitively decided it without a thought.
But y'know what he is doing...
Joss was being fair enough to not actually leap into a fray with this guy. Joss was being considerate, giving warnings like noise, or a quick snap at his ankles. Joss was trying. He was really being as magnanimous as he could.
He's ignoring me.
If there was one thing as powerful as Joss' determination to be a pretty decent sort of a nice guy, it was a sort of raging irresistible burning adolescent desire for relevance. Nobody paid attention to him. Nobody listened. Nobody saw. Nobody gave a damn, and no matter what he did, it seemed people just couldn't take him seriously!
With the furious immediacy only a thirteen-year-old's mood can manage, Joss leapt straight from (relative) reserve to an irrational and all-consuming rage. He'd forgotten the difference in their sizes and the fact that--in principle, at least--this guy wasn't doing anything objectively unreasonable.
Joss was not going to be overlooked. By anyone. Ever again. Whatever it took.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was twisting his smaller, white-furred form between Kiran and the human man under his claws. He didn't bother with posturing; he didn't care about who was bigger or who was in charge or the consequences or anything except the wolf in his mind snapping and snarling and finally in agreement with the boy.
One way or another, it ended here, and this young werewolf was too angry and too close to his Phase and too thirteen to care how.
Kiran - January 31, 2010 11:42 PM (GMT)
As Kiran was lifting his paw to crash it down into the man's chest, a blaze of white appeared between his claws and the helpless human.
A snarling, bristling streak of white with a bottlebrush tail and ears snapped so far forward it almost looked painful.
Kiran stopped dead, claws lifted, staring at the show of aggression and dominance beneath him.
It wasn't so much that he felt the need to obey, but that he was surprised.
Nobody stood up to him like that. Nobody that he hadn't already dismissed. Other alphas he had watched for a while and then discredited their power when he watched them make the same decisions that everyone made. Allowing wrongdoers to go without punishment. He couldn't follow men like that.
And he was always looking for someone to follow.
On his own, Kiran's harsh unbending Judgement sought to apply itself when he was close to his Phase, seeking to apply itself when sometimes it may not be necessary. Such as now. If the men hadn't driven him to Fireblooded, they would still be alive.
This sudden display of defiance, of a plucky young man with the balls to stand up to him, stopped Kiran. He knew how intimidating he was. He'd been praised by El Che himself for his ability to strike fear into the heart of Batista's most hardened soldiers. He was the devil wolf, he was the monster that represented the People, he was their rage and their anger against their oppression made flesh.
And this little gallo didn't care.
It was enough to make him stop, distracted, and pay attention to the boy.
Joss Hunter - February 4, 2010 05:07 PM (GMT)
It seemed extremely likely that Joss wasn't going to be able to stop Kiran, that he'd just get in the way and get pulled down. But that was the reasonable outcome. If there was one thing Joss had learned about the universe, it was that a man's destiny was not decided by reasonable decisions.
So he made the unreasonable decision, pulling himself on top of the shaking, bleeding form of Kiran's next prey. It was a good way to get himself killed, but whatever. Between this and fleeing, coming between this werewolf and his kill was the only decent way to die.
After all. This old guy was...
Yes. He was Wrong.
You can't just go around hurting people, just because you think there's no one strong enough to stop you. I'm strong enough to stop you. I'll stop you every time, you and everyone like you.
For a moment it was clear that Joss had given him pause, though what that meant and how long it would last... who could say? Would he bring that claw down on Joss instead? Would Joss have to chew through the stranger's flesh down to the bone to save a man who didn't deserve it? Would the stranger back off? Did he understand?
Joss didn't know; he didn't care. He'd stand here until the stars burned out if he had to, here between this killer and his bleeding prey.
Kiran - February 9, 2010 03:49 AM (GMT)
Blue eyes bright like stars burned into Kiran's yellow ones, and eventually he looked away. He did not want to fight another wolf. Not today. The white one had done nothing wrong. Come to think of it, he'd been doing good.
When he thought about it, he couldn't actually find a reason to hate these men. Once stopped, a massive train took power to start up again, and he had no reason now to seek their deaths. His hand dropped. There was no continuing danger. This was not battle, the need for self-defense was gone. They were not fighting back.
The adrenaline surge ebbed, leaving Kiran's mind searching for what to do next.
The little wolf-boy.
Kiran chuckled at the clever nickname he'd come up with for the boy.
"Issokay, gallo," he grunted, turning and stomping back to the trucks, shrinking as he went.
The last of the fur disappeared into the loose black hair that dusted his body and his claws shrank into his toes as he stepped on the shredded remnants of his boots and pants and reached for his leather jacket.
Well, Vancouver was a little chilly this time of year. Some new jeans, boots, and a shirt were in order.
Joss Hunter - February 9, 2010 06:01 AM (GMT)
Joss thought of himself as a man who, on a regular basis, kicked reason to the curb and told the universe precisely where it could shove its probable outcomes and likely consequences.
Still. It was nice to have the universe bow down, admit it was wrong, and apologize. Joss would consider forgiving it if he didn't know for absolute certain that it would utterly fail to do better next time.
The monster backed down. The great hulking clawed bloodthirsty tide of rasping furred death slowed to a halt, and let go.
Joss refused to allow any of the tension to bleed out of him in relief, but the relief was there. He was tired of seeing people die, and someone would have died had this continued. The fact that it would have been him was a stupid thing that an adult would say because adults didn't understand anything. Anybody dying was a bad thing, and that was enough.
"Issokay, gallo," came the reply. That wasn't a word Joss knew, but whatever. The meaning was clear. He allowed himself to breathe.
As Kiran drew back, Joss stepped away from the bleeding man beneath him. The human--vicious animal-exploiting cowardly shit that he was--was shivering and pale, and Joss had no idea whether he'd live. No one had ever needed him to tend the sick or the injured; all anybody asked him to do was kill, and all he asked of himself was an invincibility so unimpeachable that medical care was rendered obsolete next to the curative powers of his own unstoppable resolve.
So yeah. He had no idea. Quite probably this guy would have to decide for himself whether he lived or died, like any man of battle. It was enough for Joss that he have the chance.
That left the marauder, who had stepped away and was retrieving what was left of his clothing. Joss wasn't done with him yet. Joss had shit to do here, shit to say.
Unfortunately, getting back to his own familiar boy-shape would take time... more time than Joss wanted to spend, and certainly more time than this guy would wait around. A faster transformation could work, but it'd really h--
Well, it would hurt. So what if it would hurt. Far from taking his reservation as a sensible check on a reckless action, Joss saw it as a weakness of character that must be immediately rooted out by doing precisely the opposite of what good sense urged on him.
The white-furred overgrown puppy that was Joss stepped backward away from the human he'd saved, and sat back on his haunches. Another moment's hesitation. Absurd! Insulting! Unthinkable!
That hesitation spurred him onward, to prove to the universe and to himself that there was nothing and no one that could stand in his way, even within himself.
And damn, did it hurt.
The young wolf's spine curved and his head bent downward as he involuntarily flinched away from the grinding in his bones and the terrible stretching--ripping, he was certain, from how it felt--of the flesh that bound them to each other. The worst part was the long bone in his upper arm, and in his thighs. As a wolf they were short, and curved, and it was hard to escape the feeling of some evil assailant's hands on the bones, bending them out of shape almost to the snapping point so that they could be human limbs again.
Always the legs that hurt the worst. The up-side was that he was usually bending the full force of his determination--his own interpretation of his Gift--upon stifling the pain by that point that he didn't feel the crunching and collapsing of his muzzle into the flattened teeth of a human boy.
His fingers were digging into the ground, pressing claws that were not yet fingernails down beneath the trampled ground.
Joss managed to wrench one word out of himself as he rushed the shift back. The other werewolf was leaving, could be gone by the time Joss finished. That couldn't be permitted to happen.
Kiran - February 12, 2010 05:59 PM (GMT)
Kiran paused, turning to look at the boy kneeling on the pavement.
He'd better hurry it up. Kiran was comfortable enough walking around with just his leather jacket, but it was cool out, and if any locals were around they might have something to say about the mostly-naked man in the street.
Joss Hunter - February 14, 2010 05:47 AM (GMT)
Words. Words were possible, and that was good. Thinking of which ones to use...
Maybe when it didn't hurt so much. Maybe in a minute. Half a minute? A few seconds? Joss felt his body pleading with him to go easy for a moment, and he commanded it to shut up, rub some dirt in it, and get the fuck over it. Unknowingly spurring his Gift harder, Joss thus forced the pain to abate a bit.
The agony ebbed to a dull ache as his bones and organs shifted into their usual locations, and that was something Joss could ignore. Finally he realized that he was cold, as naked people in Vancouver will often find themselves feeling.
He took a deep breath, grit his teeth, and lifted his eyes from the dirt between his hands to that old guy. What was his name, anyway? What did he think he was doing around here? Was he one of those werewolves?
Joss wasn't sure there'd be time to find out, since neither of them had time for silly irrelevant details like what this dude's parents had named him. There were serious moral issues to be addressed, and who the old guy was had absolutely no bearing on that.
Fuck his name. The old guy was Wrong.
"Yeah. So. Old man," Joss began, with his typical reverence for his elders. He ignored the stretching and sliding of his still-shifting body, watching Kiran with accusation in his eyes. "Do you always tear up weaker people when you think there's nobody gonna stop you?"
Kiran - February 14, 2010 03:21 PM (GMT)
Kiran bared nicotine-stained teeth in a sharp grin.
Old man. Heh.
He liked this kid.
Shoving his hands into his pockets and ignoring the slight breeze round his legs and the upper parts, Kiran cast a glance to the building, and the three bodies around the trucks.
"They attacked me, and after I changed, I did not want to stop. You know. Lobo Diablo. Fire-blood, you northern weres call it."
Weaker. Ha. He did not answer that part. Everyone was weaker than Kiran. That could not be a deciding issue. It was simply a fact of life. It wasn't a reason to go after someone, no, that was always caused by their own actions. But it wasn't a reason to stop him either.
Joss Hunter - February 14, 2010 05:46 PM (GMT)
"No," Joss insisted. "Just 'cuz you got a reason doesn't mean you got an excuse! You can't just let yourself lose control like that. Defending yourself is fine, and the reason I came back was so you didn't have to do it 'cuz of my mess."
Joss put his foot under him, and pushed off from the ground with his hands. Still didn't feel totally right to be on two feet, but he knew that his skeleton was ready to handle it; it just didn't think it was. The fact that he was standing out in the cold totally naked lecturing some old dude on why murdering people was wrong didn't seem out of place to him. Clothes wouldn't change the legitimacy of what he was saying; they'd only hide his scars. No man worth his salt cared about silly things like that.
"But when you beat down people down just 'cuz you can, just because you're big and scary and you think nobody smaller can stop you, you're not defending yourself. Just a bully." Bully. Tyrant. Just like every other adult out there who thought he could do whatever he wanted to whoever was smaller, because they thought nobody would ever be able to stand up to them and they didn't have a conscience of their own to hold them back. Just like all the others.
His teeth were finally back in their normal places, with their normal shapes, and it felt so jarring and bizarre that Joss had to spit on the ground. "And that's Wrong."
Kiran - March 3, 2010 05:28 PM (GMT)
Kiran eyed Joss, hard, dark brown eyes squinting as they stared into the boy's face. Eventually he tilted his head and ran a rough hand through his hair.
Finally, he asked, "Why would you protect them? You killed one, no?"
It wasn't that he went after them because they were small, it was because they deserved it. So he'd thought, at the time. Then he'd just got a little carried away. But, in all likelihood, they still deserved it.
"They do bad things, what makes the rest different from the one?"
If a Gallo wanted to make judgements, then he could explain them.
Joss Hunter - March 3, 2010 05:34 PM (GMT)
"He came after me," Joss answered. "I should have expected him to be weaker than I am, and I should have done a better job of knowing my own strength."
Yes, Joss could admit fault. That is, as long as what he was admitting was that he was so unstoppably capable and valorous that even he could be surprised by his own prowess.
"But there's still a difference between killing one guy, and a massacre. Sometimes everybody's got to go; I get that. Either they're all dangerous, or you gotta send a message to the ones who aren't there. I done that before," he confessed. "But overkill is overkill. And that was overkill."
Kiran - March 3, 2010 05:42 PM (GMT)
Kiran rubbed his scruffy chin, watching the fierce man-child.
"It is point. Probably you are right. They were yours to punish anyway, not mine. That part I should not have done."
Missing the point? Check.
The accusation of not controlling your rage state was rather amusing. It was unstoppable, uncontrollable. With strong practice perhaps it could be focused, but stopped? The gallo had much to learn.
Joss Hunter - March 3, 2010 05:46 PM (GMT)
There was a distinct possibility that it was a complete waste of time trying to teach adults anything. They were just slower than normal people. Maybe it wasn't their fault.
At least he'd admitted that Joss was onto something. This guy's heart had been in the right place initially; it was just that he had a lot to learn about things being right or wrong just because.
But he was on the right track. For now... for now the fact that the old guy could kind of see in retrospect that Joss was correct... that was a good step forward. After all, there had even been days when Joss could only tell afterward that he'd done something he shouldn't. Granted, he'd gotten over that stage while his age had still been in the single digits, but again. Grownups were a little slow.
"My name's Joss." He visually noted that Kiran had probably lost most of his clothes. "You got clothes around here? You're a little bigger than my dad, but I bet he has something that'd fit you."
Kiran - March 3, 2010 05:56 PM (GMT)
"Kiran," he rumbled. "No, I just have come into the city."
He was planning on just hitting up the department store a mile back or so. There had to be something that would fit and wasn't falling apart.
"Do you know a shoe store nearby?"
It was unfortunate about his boots. Those he missed.
Joss Hunter - March 8, 2010 02:02 AM (GMT)
Kiran. Kiran wasn't a bad name. Joss would have to remember it. He wasn't sure if that was because this old guy would make a good ally someday, or because he was worried that Kiran was a potential danger to... someone. Joss wasn't sure who.
"There are places in town, but the shortest route takes you through my friend's territory. I should probably go with you."
Sasha. Might be nice to see her again. She was a good one, with just the right mix of grit and openness for Joss. Been too long since he saw someone nice, someone he didn't have to keep an eye on constantly. The thought had him in a more companionable mood already.
"But it's no good not having shoes." Joss flexed his fingers, which felt a little more familiar and a little more completely-human. "I'm going to go get my clothes, and then I can get you there."
Kiran - March 21, 2010 04:24 AM (GMT)
Kiran grunted, removing his cigar from the case and reaching for his lighter.
"Will it be all right? Your friend, he will not mind?"
Who cared if the fellow did, but Kiran didn't particularly feel like getting in another fight over something so simple as shoes when he was sure he could find something that wasn't specifically in anyone's territory.
Joss Hunter - March 21, 2010 04:29 AM (GMT)
"She might not, and I know I'd let her escort someone through my turf as long as she kept an eye on 'em. We're just going to pass through a bit of her territory, and not hang out in there or anything. She's cool, so I don't want to be rude or anything."
Joss wasn't exactly sure what she'd think of Kiran. She wasn't any more trusting than he was, and that was a rare thing. It was a big part of why he did trust her. Still. They were just going to skirt through, and if she was upset then Joss would just owe her an apology.
Kiran - March 21, 2010 04:31 AM (GMT)
He shrugged, and turned, puffing on the cigar.
"I will wait here."