Chaotically Proportional

Copper Mountain 
Nov 27

Upon his return to Mountainside, he had made good on his word to inform Pete of his presence. Additionally, he had made clear his intentions to put effort into helping the group along in any way he could. Pete had decided upon Avondale, and he had found an apartment to rent in the area thusly. For now, he stayed at a motel; a type of living he often preferred. Pete had instructed him to accompany her on a trip through the nooks and crannies of the city, and he had promptly informed her that he had shifted a great number of times at Copper Mountain, and that he had on occasion not been alone there. It was a functional space for shifting, if one knew about it. He had not gone for long enough that he would not be surprised to find trails of others in the area. Nevertheless, it was good practice to go there and leave behind some trace that more than one hyena intended to frequent the space.

They planned to meet here, when the sun had set, as it was more likely another Were might be present. Ideally, they could send a clear message along with someone that chose to shift here. When he arrived, her awful car was parked at the base of the mountain upon which the town was speckled. He would park beside, and hop out, glance up toward the moon briefly before turning his attention to spotting Pete.



She shouldn't have put this shit off. She'd had a monster headache since she'd cracked her head open in town, not to speak of the war zone she'd made of her lips and nose. But she'd waited, out of a sense of...who knew. Camaraderie. And it didn't hurt that most of the school week had been canceled anyway.

She got out of her car and shivered, grimacing at Echo from beneath two bruised-black eyes and a mashed nose. "Welcome back, Ace."

The sight that greeted him was one that had him breaking into a delighted smile. It was nice to see her worse for wear for a change. She'd seen him in unfortunate condition too many times. "Did you run over your own face on the way up here?" He questioned as he strode toward her, boots creaking on the paced snow that blanketed the worn dirt road.

Ha, ha. At least she didn't have spotty ass hair. "Sure did. How was your honeymoon?" God, being a were in actual winter SUCKED.

He did want to know the actual story, but he would regale her the invigorating tale of his trip as he moved to start the trek up into the shamble town. "Oh, wonderful. I spent all of my time on sandy beaches, soaking up the sun." He said, then glanced to her, "It was fine. The only thing worth note was meeting the vampire that killed the mate of my former Queen."

You do look real tan, she was going to say like a smartass, when the anecdote took a sharp left turn. Being concussed and all, it didn't even occur to her that this was a time for subterfuge. "Oh yeah, he seems real proud about it. He just wants attention. But smack 'im around a few times and he ends up harmless." She'd said that about Echo, too!

Her answer inspired a lift of his eyebrows, and a small noise of surprised delight in the back of his throat. "And here I had thought I would always wonder who the second hyena he claimed to know was. Of course it's you." He said with a shake of his head. Of course, it was Pete. And, of course it seemed like she was fond of it.

Heh! Of course he would, the fucking shit-eater. "Told him I'd rip his dick off if he ever hurt a hyena again. Where'd you run into 'im?" It would probably be...bad, if he hung out in Avondale. But he was real entertaining.

Unfortunate imagery, but he appreciated that Pete seemed to have her priorities in order. "A miserable diner a few miles north of Cedar Creek. He was very... interested. And made an attempt to have me shift." Not so easily done. He was feeling stronger, more a solidified entity than two battling for control. It was a decision he had made years ago to embrace it all, and it was helped by the fact that he hardly saw anything remotely human in the mirror. But, lately, the strength and control he exhibited seemed to reflect that mindset more accurately.

I mean, in Coco's defense. Echo was a hard target to resist. Still though, if she ran into him again he would pay for it. That made her smile. "Did you get close?"

Her smile was absolutely hideous.

"I did think about it. But, a lighter was an easier option. I scared him off before either, by throwing a plate of food into his face." Really, for as relieved he was not to dirty his nose when he was laying low, he did sort of mourn the loss of something more exciting.

She got a millisecond into rolling her eyes before she remembered that even doing that fucking hurt. "Way to make a scene, hombre."

They had plenty to talk about, really, but Peter felt like her head was in a vice and her lips had road rash. So much better for now to just hike through the piling snow and feel Becky shriek and squeal at her shitty lil pal. "How much further you wanna go?"

Really, he did think he'd avoided a bigger one. He would only huff out a dismissive sound in response. When the question came, he would look to her busted face. "Before I knew you were operating on half a face, I imagined we would cover the whole town." It sounded much more extensive than it was. There was just a lot of upward trekking, given it was built into the mountain side.

>:[. "It's all here, it's just kinda rearranged. Why don't we just shift, we can get through this bullshit faster. 'N I can fix my nose." A hand jerked outward to indicate that the bullshit was not the outing, but the snow obstructing it.

Rearranged, right. The idea of shifting was interesting. There was a theory he'd been meaning to try. "Alright." He would say after a moment, and would take a sharp turn, heading back the way he had come. They really hadn't gone too far, but his pace was quickened as he headed for the car that was still within his sights. "I'm not leaving my clothes out in the snow." He would say. If she didn't have objections, he'd make it back to the truck, and would open the hatch in the back to start offloading his clothes there.

UGH, ECHO. She was tired dude, don't do this to her! Groaning, she turned and stomped after him, hoisting herself into the back and leaving her clothes there in a ratty pile. Brr.

Even if Echo got started before her, she was too busy with brain damage to notice that anything might be amiss. Pressing her eyes closed, she started to shift, her hands and fingers thickening and erupting with black nails. She slid out of the car as her weight all seemed to shift to the top half of her body.

Her displeasure would go ignored, as was her nudity as he focused on himself. The beast would rise to the occasion, aware that the steps being taken here were in preparation for a shift. His breathing deepened as his body forced itself into a state of tension, and his teeth grit as his shoulders started to break from their sockets. For the first few agonizing moments, the shift would continue as it always did, but somewhere among the breaking and reforming, Echo would force his brain into some clarity, searching through the agony for a semblance of control. He'd tried it before, attempted the hybrid shape on occasion. All attempts prior to this had ended in failure. But, here, he was able to grasp the hyena by the proverbial scruff, and direct his shift purposefully into that of what he'd seen before in his living room.

He would buckle as his legs lengthened and twisted, mutating into a less human like state, but maintaining the humanoid shape. His shoulders, instead of hunching and pinching inward, would stop half way and widen. The neck would still crane forward, thick and elongated into a head of a hyena. At the end of two agonizing minutes, the creature would roll onto its back in the snow, and peer up through silver eyes, lips drawn and furred chest puffing. Arms splayed to the side, aberrant fingers curling into the snow and the dead earth beneath it. He'd done it. A puffing, guttural sound of approval made its way from the creature's chest.


 Lorena's intentions for the evening had been pretty simple - stop by the grocery store for real this time, go home, have dinner, and be a vegetable on the couch. Unfortunately, she'd managed to pick up a friend on the way - yet another disembodied voice. It had all but latched onto her at the checkout line, magnetized by some sense of understanding that she must radiate to all ghosts. A fucking beacon on the shores of the in-between realm.

 It was incessant, sticking its invisible hands inside her jacket when she tried to block out the words with headphones. A body, a body, a body. Soon there would be a body. Please help, please help.

 Unwilling to spend the night listening to a broken record cry for help, she had unloaded her groceries and eaten a pop tart on the way to the bus stop. It was a very long bus ride to Avondale from her home, made all the worse by the spirit that begged and pleaded for her to hurry. Could it not see that she wasn't the one driving?

 Of course, this all would end with her meandering through the woods in the fucking dark, guided by the specter in her ear. This was the sort of shit that would have her dead before her time. There was no body - none that she could find, anyway. The voice wailed, ragged and desperate - where is he? Where is he?

 Frustrated, cold, and borderline ravenous, Lora meant to make her way home. Fuck this ghost. It seemed to have no intention of leaving her be, unfortunately - but as she crunched over fallen pine needles and twigs on the overgrown path, she would spot something that was perhaps far eerier than a dead person shouting at her.

 Before her eyes, some fifty to a hundred feet away, a pair of people were becoming... not people. Lora froze, then backtracked a few steps to hide behind a fat pine trunk, watching with amazement and something akin to fear as the man (face unrecognized, for the time being) broke into something that was not even a normal animal. It was bipedal and gruesome, something out of a b-rate horror film, but very clearly real. Jesus.

 Shakier than she first realized she was, Lora moved as quickly and quietly as she could hope to, squeezing into a decrepit, doorless little building that looked like it might have been an outhouse at one point. She was just going to wait these fuckers out.

A lot of pain and cold there on the ground, but after another minute, she was whole again. Beautiful hyena senses taking in the fierce white smell of snow, the clattering chickadees. She blinked her dark eyes and split her mouth open in a ham-sized grin. At.

Hybrid Echo.

Her fur prickled up all along her back, and she let loose a long, whooping yell at him, displeased at this new development. That was her thing!

How wonderful that his future Queen would choose to shift into all fours. He wondered if she had done so to spare him jealousy. It only fueled a prideful fire, and the creature would push himself up to two feet with a series of chattering rumbles, face split in an animalistic grin as he loomed over her, shoulders bowing to cast a larger shadow over her. "Jealous?" He would huff, and bounce once on his overlarge feet as she straightened up to take in the scene from this height. Six foot seven was not something he ever expected to reach, and yet.

His nostrils would pull in the air around them, heightened now like this. "Can you keep up?" He taunted as he grinned viciously back down at her.

 It was hard to see much through the crowd of trees in the dark night, but Lorena would kneel and peer around the rotten edge of the weary door frame in an attempt to catch another glimpse of the beasts all the same. She could only make out pieces of their outlines as they moved, but could hear as the smaller animal bellowed at the monster that towered above it, and the creature spoke back. It sounded like English, but the words were largely inaudible. Still! What the fuck!

More terrible sounds came out of the hyena as he taunted her; he might be bigger, but it wasn't by much. Pete would bite the shit out of him if she had to. And Becky, for all she might have lost her edge metaphysically, still recognized a little bitch when she saw one. She had dominated this little bitch a dozen times and she would do it again on four legs, two legs, whatever! She snarled with the vocal ferocity of a wolverine and stepped up on him, teeth flashing. "Move it, shithole."

So touchy. He would bend to snap his teeth once toward her face, but shove his weight into the pads of his feet as he turned in a fluid motion, meaning to head away from her. Off into the tree line, leaving a spray of snow and soil in her direction. He bounded swiftly, covering ground quicker than he could have on two human feet. His attention would be turned to taking in the smell of the forest, eyes studying the trees and the spaces between them, taking on a zig-zagging path that would lead up the mountain. There was a shack nearby, and Echo had been willing to write it off, until a scent broke through the adrenaline and caught his attention.

He would slow, a hand pressed to a tree, a low growl catching in his chest as he paused. The smell was of human, not Were, not the rot of a vampire. It mixed with the cleanliness of snow, and the musk of wet bark. It was nearby, and strong enough to be fresh. His lips peeled back as he took in another drag of the cold air before him, eyes lingering on the building some thirty yards off.

 Another short-lived commotion, a few words and the resounding snap of teeth before there was a flurry of movement. Through the fat, splayed fingers of trees before her, she could see the massive body on the move. Lorena shifted her weight, aware of her heartbeat in her ears, but absolutely certain that in a few more minutes, she could make a break for it.

 That sureness ebbed some as the big creature stopped, and between the trees she should see the form of its head change shapes in the dark - moving from profile to something fatter, the gleam of two night eyes. Lora held her breath, trying to be very still, picturing herself thirty seconds from now, running to safety, toward the nearest bus stop. If she could have morphed into a wooden plank in the rotting shed, she would have.

She shot after him, of course, a potbellied juggernaut determined not to be left behind. Her mangled face already felt better, and it was a hard feeling to top, letting supernatural speed and strength fly you over the terrain like a fucking bullet. She didn't miss the smell of human, exactly, but simply didn't bother to care about it. So she shot past Echo as he stopped! It felt good to be in the lead but she did eventually slow and turn, her wet black nose wriggling. Prey?



Pete ran along, and he would glance after her, brow pricking as he sniffed at the air further. It could be nothing, a stray camper, a hiker that came too close and turned back. But it was something radiating, something near, something with a heartbeat he strained his rounded ears to hear as the sound of Pete's footfalls silenced. It was here, a human, but where?

Silver eyes blinked as he searched more thoroughly through the shadows cast by the moonlight. Surely, he wouldn't have missed someone hiding behind a tree. He would move away from where he had stopped, peering around each truck as he passed. Steps he took were careful, as quiet and purposeful as he could be in this form. If they were hiding, they would be hunkered down, fearful, easily surprised. His breathing deepened, and he found he could not smell any trace of gunpowder. No weapon, no hunter. Who, then, was out? Who had been this close as they shifted? Had they seen? If they were hiding, they must have seen.

What an unfortunate thing to have accidentally witnessed. There was no option of escaping with what they'd seen. "Where are you?" He would call as he meandered his path closer to that shack. Was it there? He would lend and ear that direction.

 The second form zipped past, and came to stop outside of Lora's field of vision. She focused on the larger creature as if her life depended on keeping sight of it, hope dwindling as fear came in like a sudden high tide. The ghost that she'd stopped hearing - or at least, stopped paying attention to - seemed to have followed her into this narrow space. It whispered to her. Run! Run! Run!

 She felt, for a moment, the urge in her legs to do just that - to spring forward and run with every bit of speed she could muster. Just the thought of it felt like a physical punch to the gut, and the beast speaking doubled that shot of adrenaline. Lora released her held breath more loudly than she would have liked to, and held it again on the exhale, frozen to the ground.

 Run! Run! Run!

Her tail was up. Instinctively, her paws began touching the ground with finesse, as quiet as they could be in the mostly-undisturbed, mostly-hard and crunchy snow.

Echo might be thinking, they had secrets to keep. He might be weighing out results and consequences. Becky, however...

Becky was only thinking about fun.

She was a predator and she knew how to stalk. Echo approached the little shed from one direction and she circled to do so from the other, quiet except for a vigorous sucking-in of air, trying to learn what exactly lurked there. Something fun?

Something dangerous?

Aha, a breath! An affirmative sound, a non-verbal answer to his question. His head would snap toward the shack. His eyes flicked once to find Pete moving to circle the other side. Wise, surprising. His lips would curl into a toothy grin, the edges yellowed and discolored, set crookedly and wet with saliva. There was no denying the thrill of cornering something weaker. He would direct his path there, approaching slowly, hunched enough that he would use his arms in the occasional step forward; not used to this bi-pedal form quite yet. He would close in on the decrepit doorway of the home, and true to nature, would whoop in a low, patterned call. Whuuuup, whupwhuwhup. It grew louder as he wrapped fingers around the frame of the door, and ducked to push his head inside.

It's a fucking HIT I can't believe this shit

 It was coming closer. Lora's brain chugged slowly in a state of shock - this wasn't happening. It wasn't real! She could will it to stop happening. Right now. It wasn't real.

 And yet, it was. She could see the shape of it moving in the dark, something like teeth - could hear it breathing and making some ungodly noise. Where she'd been cold enough to shiver just five minutes ago, Lora was now sweating profusely, heart throbbing with all the effort of a marathon runner. The fear was nearly enough to stun her. Her ears burned, terrified, as the creature stuck its great ugly snout into the door way.

 She was going to die. It wasn't the first time she'd thought this recently, but this time, she was even more certain of it. Those big ugly teeth were going to close around her head and crush it like a truck tire on a watermelon. Good night.

 Lora dropped to her ass on the cold earth, sucking in a ragged breath, clutching at something, anything to keep her upright in the face of looming death. She was done for. But not without a fight - she might as well go down swinging.

 With a noise that was somewhere between a grunt and a shout, Lora grabbed a stone from beneath herself, and whipped it at the creature's face with every ounce of strength she could muster. Then, provided she had enough room between that monstrous body and the door frame, she would make a fucking run for it.

All quiet in the little cabin. Pete could see Echo ducking down to look inside. Then...a grunt, a squeal, and a girl running fast — but only for a human — back toward the road. It was very, very easy to catch up.

This was not the first kid she'd tormented in Avondale woods, menacing with teeth and snarls and horrible see-saw gait. It might not be the last! Running alongside her, she bent her thick head down to snap at calves and ankles, to make her trip!

miss though BYE LORENA


There they were! A tiny, frail human. She screamed, as a girl might be prone to do in the face of something hideous as he. He would wail an ugly, cheerful whoop as he laid eyes on her, but it was cut short by a stone being whipped toward his face. It impacted harshly against an eye, and he would choke in a yelp as he jerked his head away, bringing up a clawed hand to grip the affected area. In that time, the girl managed to burst through the door.

He would turn his upper body after her, and swipe with an arm after her, though it would catch only air as she took off toward the road. Pete, however, was right on her heels. How scary it must be, to be chased by two monsters, but this was no place for a girl to be. A lesson hard learned. The thrill of the chase had him chattering in a thrilled series of whoops as he gave chase after the pair, his lengthy strides covering the ground easily. Too easily, nearly. It would be over so quickly.

Pete lunched for the girl's ankles, and the poor, uncoordinated human would surely take a plunge into the snow. Echo changed his pace abruptly, sticking a foot forward to stop his momentum, and driving a spray of snow into the air as he slid to a stop over the girl. A hand would shoot downward, as she struggled to stand, and grab for those bright red locks of hair, balling them roughly as he pushed her down to keep her still.

Hit ;_;


 There was no relief in having made it through the door, only an intense fear that blotted out anything beyond what her senses could take in. What she could hear, what she could see. This must be how a deer felt before it got hit by a car.

 The smaller beast - still absolutely fucking huge, actually - was at her side impossibly fast, bowing its great ugly head and snapping its teeth at her legs. Lora was never much of a screamer, or even one to cry, but everything about this was enough to elicit a shriek as she tried to jump away. She faltered in her panicked pace, her foot landing on a sloped, icy rock, and throwing the world out from under her.

 Falling was an unfortunate turn of events. Her brain couldn't register that she was no longer upright quickly enough, affording her no proper time to scramble to her feet as her heart beat itself to near-death. Instead, she was being jerked back into the days-old snow, yelping indignantly for the violent snag of her hair. The thing looming above her was a nightmare with teeth, difficult to register or take as reality. With a clenched jaw and wide eyes, Lora meant to strike at it with both feet, some attempt to kick it somewhere painful enough to dislodge it. The movement was enough to make her feel tendrils of hair snapping out of her scalp.

she miss!


As far as hyenas went, she could get plenty more excited than this, but it was still a rush, and she let out a long, unearthly chuckle to express it, skidding to a stop as the woman toppled. What a fun thing!

She pranced around a little as Echo caught and pinned her, still giggling, and then rushed up to land an overexcited bite through the coat, right on one crunchy shoulder.



So noisy! She screamed and yelped and kicked as they hassled her, and there was temptation to find his jaws fitting perfectly around her head. It would be a satisfying crunch, but it would be a messy affair. Pete would lunge, biting at her shoulder, but making no move to truly tear her to bits. It was play, for her, and it was as much that as it was duty, for Echo.

Echo would knee Pete roughly away, whooping in warning as he roughly jerked the girl roughly so that she was facing upright. His body would double over, the free hand moving to slam into the snow beside her. Leaning over her, he would push his face to invade her space, lips peeled and salivating as he looked over her fearful face. There, he would pause, withdrawing sharply as he was met with a face he'd seen before. The girl in the plant nursery, capable of blowing things to smithereens. Dangerous, useful, and woefully unlucky to be here. She'd been kind, hadn't she? Curious, nosy. She knew of him, knew his name.

It would be smart to kill her. But Pete was here, and he'd resolved to help the group, not hurt it. She would live. She would live, and she would just need to be theirs. "Keep her." He would growl to Pete. He would make this decision within moments of looking upon her face, and with a grinning snarl, he would move to sink his teeth into her upper arm, purposeful in tearing through the clothing, searching for skin to pierce, in the case Pete's had not done the job.

 Her kicks landed nothing but air, and all for naught! The giggling hyena bound to four legs was on her in a second, and Lora would recede into herself as much as she could in such a compromising position, howling her agony. For all the knew, something was broken under that vise grip jaw, with hot, dark blood blooming out into the pink corduroy jacket. Most likely, none of it would matter in a few minutes. The jacket would be in as many shreds as the rest of her body.

 The bipedal monster shoved its companion away, jerking teeth out of her shoulder, and she wheezed through it as she was cranked around with all the weight and resistance of a rag doll. It snapped over her, and she cringed, acutely aware of her blazing shoulder and whistling, panting breath. She stared into a wet cage of teeth, wounded shoulder limp, and then squeezed her eyes closed, deciding she didn't want to see her own organs paint the snow.

 It spoke again, in that awful eerie voice. God, which was worse - to be killed or kept. She was left with little time to think about it before teeth were on her again. Another sawtooth scream for the pain, her free hand grabbing a fistful of coarse fur, feet kicking and scraping against the icy ground. Her whole arm buzzed with a pain that rocketed up through the top of her skull, more blood splattering out of the fresh wound.

 Hey, fuck that fucking ghost.

Kneed! Out! Of the way!!

This injustice would not stand.

Echo could do what he liked with the human, he seemed to have pretty clear ideas about it. Becky, Pete, both of them were focused on circling around behind the hybrid creature and biting him hard the hip before mounting him with hyenis blazing. So what if he had thumbs??? There was a boss bitch and a bitch boy in this relationship and that would go acknowledged by choice or by force. The girl screamed. Becky kept clawing and snarling obnoxiously over her oddly shaped inferior's back. Just normal hyena stuff, you know?

For the few fleeting moments, it was just his teeth in skin, and the urge to tear and shred and consume was immense. And he nearly just did. Until, he was mounted. His teeth would pry from the screaming girl, and he would curve inward to launch a snarling, yelping, whooping muzzle in the direction of the female at his hip. He would not bite, but it was a momentary posture, an attempt to shake her from him, a purely animal reaction to it all.

 Those ugly teeth released her, and she thought she could feel the muscles in her arm ache around the new holes. She made a noise that was like a sob without tears, the clump of fur in her grasp ripped out of reach as the beast whipped around to accost the smaller animal behind it. It was... humping the bigger one. God, what the fuck. What was happening. Of all of this, that was the most unreal part. Maybe she'd fallen through some portal to hell.

 Her opposite hand clamped around the sad, wounded arm, feeling blood ooze against her fingers. In the dark, it was hard to see how much had spilled, but it was the least of her worries. She was only concerned with the untrustworthy creatures in her presence, wishing she had what it took to make another run for it - but in the end, it would be in vain, she figured. They could catch up so easily. There was little for her to do besides tremble in the snow and watch. In the wake of so much terror and adrenaline, still fresh and hot in her body and mind, she was edging back into the sense that nothing was real at all.

Pete respected little-to-nothing aside from a hierarchy of strength. It was one of the things she and her beast had in common! So this disrespect from Echo, even with his leveled-up fursona body, hooked into the gears in her head that said DESTROY and started them spinning. She matched Echo's snarl and then made hers louder, with more intensity, lunging forward to grab the side of his face in her mouth and whirl him around like a fucking gymnastics ribbon. She missed her mark, infuriatingly, and that made the cacophony of shrieks and snarls dial up further. Surrender or death, bitch!

fuck she miss


It was a violent, noisy, slobbery affair. The queen-to-be was rightfully angry, and so was her subordinate. And yet, he was just that. Whatever pride Echo carried with him was forced be be abandoned in times like these. Privately, he would acknowledge that he admired it. There was a great deal of respect for someone that found a way to place themselves in a position of power, specifically of a place above his own station. It was why, despite the humiliation and anger, he could not protest the animal's snap decision to submit in the moment. He would still snarl, but it was a lower, whooping sound through relaxing lips he would make. His head dipped, ears slipping backward as he took a crouched step backward, unable to make himself much smaller than her without falling to his belly, but it was a clear enough signal.

 The hyenas - she was pretty sure that was what she was seeing here, anyway - were about to break into a full fledged fight over her not-quite-dead body. Cool. This was so chaotic, Lora couldn't even grasp it with her rattled human brain. She glanced, wide-eyed, down the path she'd been heading, the road obscured by snowdrift and towering trees. No likely escape. At least, the bipedal one was suddenly not looming over her so much, seeming to make himself smaller under the other one's assault.

 Slowly, favoring her bloody arm, she would mean to pry herself into an upright position, hunched slightly away from them and cradling said arm at the elbow, watching them with a stunned sort of wariness. Between the melted snow in her hair and clothing and her injuries and this entire situation, Lora was certain she'd never been more uncomfortable than she was right now.

Echo submitted, as he fucking should, but it wasn't enough for her rage to subside right away. She stayed on him as he shuffled backwards and cowered, scratching and jumping at his back until she was perched on top of it, flashing wet dripping teeth and gums alongside his just-slightly-humanoid face. It was a precarious seat.

Amid all this posturing, one ear picked up the miserable shuffle of the girl's moving; eventually that proved to be enough of a distraction to lay off her show of dominance over Echo. So...she jumped off of him, not so gracefully, and circled around to face this poor sad bleeding thing they had toyed with, who (just like the last girl) was being no fun now. She approached and the fury in her posture dribbled away, so that by the time they were face to face she was only a blank, inquisitive animal. Bloodied lips slightly parted. Becky and Pete traded consciousness almost playfully, like a ball being tossed. "Do you want to die or live?"

In a monster voice. Of course.

He was noisy in his displeasure of her mounting, teeth still bared halfway, throat a never-ending rotation of yowling and whooping laughs. But he would stay down, and let her feel like she had won, though his silver gaze would find itself trained on the girl as she tried to right herself. She would not make it far. Pete relieved herself of her bullying, and instead would approach the girl. He would watch carefully, but make no move to stop her as he pushed himself into a more upright crouch, knees only slightly bent as he took a few steps after the quad-bound female. There was a clear ultimatum, and the choice was no doubt bound to be the latter. Live, yes, but as one of them. There was a slim chance an infection had not already taken hold.

 Their scuffle over, the four-legged hyena leapt from her man-made cliff and approached again. Lora shifted her weight some, a haphazard attempt to straighten her posture, staring at the now-emotionless animal face with her same tight jaw and weary eyes. It spoke, voice garbled with all the unnatural difficulty of speaking with a mouth not made for words.

 There were a lot of times when Lora wanted to die. When she was a mother to chaos, when she fucked her budget, when sleep evaded her for an entire night. She’d been close to it a lot of times, too, accidentally, and purposefully. It was a bit like playing with fire, for all that was a terrible cliche - sticking a finger in the flames, chickening out when it was time to grab an ember. She always chickened out. Death stared her in the face now, blood and slobber, holding a door open for her. Come in, if you like.

 Surprise, she lacked the courage to step through. "Live," she breathed, nearly a whisper. It was just that simple, wasn’t it.

Are you predator, or prey?

That was a clear and simple question, and the hyena accepted the answer at face value. Here with them, a baby. Bleeding and shellshocked but theirs, already falling in line. Taking in short, wet snuffling breaths, the hyena stretched her neck forward to lick possessively, all over the woman's face.

If it were only her out here, she would be in trouble for how to follow through with this offer. If it were only her out here, truthfully, this girl would be dead. But she trusted Echo (for all he was a human ass polyp) to handle the thinking bits, and so she turned to face him, sitting her ass well into their new baby' personal bubble as if the girl might feel inspired to give it a good rubdown.

Live. So be it. She would be theirs; his. He'd bitten her directly, there was hardly a chance that she would carry on the virus from a grazing bite over one like his. Pete accepted her, and he would move to loom nearer, his own nostrils flaring to take in the smell of her blood. She would be his. With a heavy exhale and a tight nod, he'd glance to Pete as she looked to him. Now what. This was a significant change of plans.

He'd glance into the treeline, peering off in the direction they had come from. The road was not terribly far. They could make it to the car, where he had medical supplies. She would heal quickly, but it would ease her pain. As for what she was meant to do while they recovered from their shifts... He would think of it once they were there. She would have to be told now, and she would have to have it made clear that she would be nothing but meat in their bellies if she told another soul.

For now, he would rise, and move to grab her by the back of the coat, and hoist her to her feet. "Follow." He'd say, and would move to head that way.

 The smaller hyena had no more words, it would seem, craning her terrifying face forward to shower Lora's entire face with licks. Initially, she sort of jerked in place, startled, certain that this was going to end in her face being eaten off. It didn't happen, at least, and she didn't have the courage to wipe her face dry until the affectionate (?) assault was over with.

 Using her good arm, she swiped at her face with her sleeve, exhaling a shuddering breath. There was a hyena ass in her space, touching her, and Lora didn't know what to do with that! The bigger one moved to hover in her space, too, and she willed herself not to cringe away for all she stiffened. God, please, no more saliva on her tonight.

 Instead of another bizarre hazing bath, the more monstrous one would stand and grab her by the jacket, hoisting her up like an unruly toddler. It squeezed her arm painfully, and she inhaled a sharp protest through her teeth as she found her footing. It was sheer luck that she spotted her phone in the snow, bending to pick up the device and pocket it before she headed off after the beast that had demanded she follow. How that phone hadn't splintered to pieces by now from all the cracks in it was beyond her.

 Everything was very... surreal. Lorena was back to being half-convinced that this was a wild dream as the dark forest moved past her, the last few minutes a blurry whirlwind of memories she couldn't quite grip onto. Running from monsters, and now walking with them. The only thing that tied her to reality was her immense physical discomfort.

There was no protest from either, and so the bi-pedal creature would lead a silent march through the woods, snow crunching noisily underfoot, which left in their wake large, oblong prints in the icy mud. It was not a far walk, and he would take a moment to linger at the edge of the woods, a hand bracing against a tree's trunk as he leaned forward to peer toward either side of the road. No incoming vehicles. Where was this girl's car?

With a grunt, he would motion for them to continue, and in a brisk pace would reach his car. Toward the rear right tire, where he would fish out the keys he magnetized to the underside of the wheel well. His fingers were overlong and clawed, rendering the key fob some tiny piece of plastic in his grip. He scowled at it for a beat, then another, before looking to the girl, and tossing the keys in her direction. "Open back, sit, and listen to me." He would say to her, regrettably short on words. "Will explain."

 It was real weird to watch this thing walk. Not any less intimidating than it walking on four legs, much less the second creature in her company. She followed it - him, maybe - where she was motioned to follow, observing the car and where the monster fished out... keys. It was a friendly reminder that there was a person in there somewhere.

 She jolted slightly when the keys were tossed her way, managing to snare them between her hands at the last second. The motion seemed to reignite the pain in her arm that had largely reduced - still smarting, but ebbing into something duller, a hot throbbing. She stared down at the key fob in her grasp as the creature instructed her to unlock the car and take a seat.

 Robotically, Lorena followed the instructions, using the fob to unlock the car as she approached the hatch. After a bit of fumbling, she found the handle, and lifted it. Taking a cursory glance at what she could see in the car without really seeing it, she sat, nearly on the bumper, and stared up at the hyena-man with all the stoic remorse of a doleful child about to be scolded by her father.

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