Help! I've Fallen & I Can't Get Up!

Two Moons National Park 
#1
This had to be an okay place to shift. Right? His cat was practically pouring out, a glass much too full. He groaned through his pain, his bones cracking and popping into new places that were still slowly starting to become familiar. His teeth elongated and his fingers sharpened into claws...

The cheetah shook himself out from ears to tail and everything in between. He stretched his front legs and bowed down making sure to get a good stretch for every muscle. It was time to run.

The cat trotted down the slope cautiously. The snow was several feet deep this high up in elevation. The long legs helped keeping him above it, but the lanky-ness of them made it harder to navigate out of deep traps. He needed flatter land to get his run on. So in his trek downwards, carefully stepping here and there where it seemed less deep, a loud SNAP sounded followed by immediate pain in his back leg. The feline screamed out and flailed down into the snow. Stuck! He was stuck. The cat yanked his leg but it didn't budge without causing a painful shockwaves. His angry eyes moved to his foot to get a good inspection. Red was splattered in the stark white snow, his spotted foot stuck in a metal claw.

Trap! He was trapped in a trap.

The cat yowled loudly, a desperate call for help as he tried to drag himself out.
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#2

Hiking so near Levka's land wasn't his first choice. But Emerald Falls had too many touchy memories, and the Spire was more work than he was interested in. He just wanted something refreshing and new for the bear, an attempt to clear his head and destress from the crazy last month of getting the Sanctuary up and running. It was drawing close to the Full Moon, but he wasn't interested in a shift, despite the Kodiak's insistence. Just a hike.

Of course, nothing could ever be 'just' anything, could it? There was the sound of a very angry, yowling cat from somewhere up the mountain, not far from the trial he was trudging along. Cliff stopped short in his tracks, the bear immediately pulling to attention at the idea of a nearby predator. His chest fell rose and fell with steadying breaths, his warm breath billowing out around his beard and nose. The sounds of... pain. A cat in pain, and the smell of blood. And, he noticed, the smell of something unlike any of the bobcats that frequented the area. It was unique enough to have Cliff frowning, and against his better judgement, he adjusted his pack on his shoulder and headed up in that direction.

It would take him a few minutes to get to a place among the trees that he could really tell which direction the smells were coming from. Up ahead, but west some. The Kodiak grumbled and huffed, not entirely sure about walking into something blind like this. But they weren't. This was a cat, but not one native to the area. So it really could only be one thing. It'd only take a few more minutes of walking to confirm. There, nearby a thicket and tethered to a trap, was... a cheetah? Jaguar? No, he'd seen enough jaguars. And it didn't look like a leopard. Too skinny. This had to be a cheetah, but with strange spots. Almost stripes. The bear marooed and huffed and grumbled, alerted by the smell of blood and the other predator. But this one was, effectively, harmless. And very obviously a fucking person trapped by a bear trap. Even if he didn't look like one right now.

Cliff hadn't met any cheetahs. Just heard of them. Knew that Asha and Abraham had been planning to share a territory with them. Thank Levka and the Cheetah Queen were... close. To say the least. So he couldn't begin to know if this one belonged to the group, or if he was a rogue. All he knew was he couldn't just leave him here. "Hey, can... Please tell me you can understand me." He called from a comfortable distance away. He'd fucking learned his lesson with Mateah. Almost cost Asha her leg in the process. He wasn't fucking up this time. It would be a lot more helpful if there was some semblance of a human brain in there. With his luck, he was dealing with essentially a wild cheetah.
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#3
Ugh. He was angry. And in pain. And scared.

The scent of his own blood masked the smell of an approaching creature so when the voice called out to him, he startled and jumped back to only end up yowling in pain yet again. Run away. Get out of there.

But his foot. The teeth of the trap grasped tightly at his ankle, twisting it each way he moved. It was not budging. How long had he been out here with his foot trapped? The pads of his paws were sturdy, but still the snow was starting to irritate them.

His ears flattened against his head and he let out an attempt at an aggressive hiss followed by a swat of his paw. The creature was far enough away from the paw but still, it was his attempt to look intimidating. The feline's tail flicked, agitated and scared.
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#4
The cat struggled, which couldn't be good for the leg that was trapped, and only replied in a hiss and a swat. Well, that was answer enough. Or if they did have some human consciousness, it couldn't come to the phone right now. So he was in a fucking predicament. Like hell was he going to approach the cat and try to get him free. That would get him attacked, and buy him a one way ticket to shift town. So he needed to... call a cheetah. Someone who knew what they were doing, and who's inner beast could maybe help with this one. The problem was, again, he didn't know any cheetahs.

But! He did know someone who did. So Cliff would move to find a log or rock to sit against, still yards from the cat, and plop his bag down. There were snacks, a change of clothes, first aid, water, and his phone. He pulled out the phone first, and would send out a text and picture. While he waited for that, he'd set his phone aside and grab for a bag of, jerky and another of dried fruit. It was always jerky, wasn't it? He blamed the bear for being predictable. With a soft sigh at losing probably the whole bag, he popped open the jerky first and fished some from the bag to toss. It landed near the cheetah, but he couldn't really tell if the cat could reach it. He'd have to see, he guessed. "Gonna try and get someone out here that can help you." He said, even if the cat couldn't understand him. It made him feel better.
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#5
His tail swatted back and forth. This human better get away from him or he'll ATTACK. At least, that was what he thought he could do, but upon trying to jump forward to scare it off, his ankle twisted. He yelped and slumped into the snow, panting strongly. The feline ignored the piece of jerky thrown his direction. It wasn't really time to eat, man.

Cheetah Archer lifted himself up on his front legs and curled himself around to lick at his wounds. His rough tongue gently swiped over the bloody foot in attempts to make it feel better. But since his back was now turned on the human, he started growling as a warning. Don't try any funny shit.

He was severely stuck in this trap. The cat became more intense in his licking. He was desperate to get out of the trap. The human was waiting for him to became too weak and kill him in one swipe, but NOT TODAY. The cheetah was desperate. Even with three legs he could still run faster than this dumb human. He opened his mouth and began to gnaw in his foot. Get rid of the weak link.
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#6
Okay, well that didn't work. The cheetah hissed and growled and ignored the jerky. It turned inward to lick at it's paw, which he couldn't blame it for. He'd let it do that while he punched in the number he'd been given. What was quicker? Texting or calling? There was a chance she wouldn't answer an unknown call, but if she did, the response would be faster. Given this cheetah wasn't going far, he was willing to place his bets and call her first. There was some anxiety surrounding that, but it was easily outweighed by the anxiety about watching a were struggle in a trap.

As the phone rang, he eyed the cat. It was... oh, shit. It was chewing at it's own leg. Cliff sat up a bit straighter, clutching the phone to his ear as he tried to get a better look. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. With gritted teeth, Cliff stood. "Hey!" He called, and shot out a whistle through his teeth as he moved in a bit closer, still some feet away and out of range. "Look here! Don't do that." He wasn't interested in seeing someone literally chew their own foot of. When he shifted back, it would still be gone. The thought of it made Cliff want to fucking puke.
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#7
He was busy trying to remove his trapped leg when the human started shouting at him again. The cat looked at him with piercings eyes and hissed yet again. The cheetah hadn't made it very far in trying to chew his leg off. The white fur around his jaw was colored red from the trap digging into his flesh and this teeth trying to tear away at it. He just wanted OUT. Again he tried to walk away from the trap because why not. It was worth a shot.

Cheetah Archer scrambled about and yowled. He shook his stuck foot, attempting to shake the contraption off. The metal clanked about, sending an uncomfortable sound echoing through the trees. A deep growl emerged from his throat due to the pain and frustration. More and more he flailed about and the more and more it pulled on his foot, ripped deeper into it.

Eventually the cat fell down into the snow out of pure exhaustion. This was it, he was going to die here. His pelt hung up on this human's wall.
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#8
It was a really uncomfortable thing to witnessed. The sounds were fucking horrible. The tugging and hissing and yowling and the clang of metal. It made the bear deeply upset. To the point where Cliff's eyes were definitely black, and he had to step away to go pace between two trees. Maybe even punch one. Just. Stay calm. It was fine, look, cat was giving up. The Kodiak grumbled and rumbled but ultimately it wasn't enough for more than just hyper-fixation. So Cliff moved back to his bag and grabbed for the dried fruit, which he would stuff into his mouth as he sat down and basically resigned himself to waiting. It felt real fucking familiar, but at least there wasn't the worry of two giant bears fighting each other in front of him. Just a cat chewing his leg off. Hopefully Yana could get here fucking soon. Not that he was looking forward to meeting her. He'd seen her at the party for Abraham, and knew about her thing with Levka even before he and Maxine had made the split form the Sleuth. No doubt she'd be telling Levka about this. Hopefully she'd be too distracted to ask many questions.
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#9


 First of all, she had not dressed for Two Moons, she'd dressed for Work Release. So, even as she parked as far into the trail as she could manage in the snow and pulled the duffel she left in the trunk from the back, she sighed at the daunting hell that was snow and heels. Worth it, worth it, worth ... she told herself like a mantra when her ankle wobbled or some more snow fell into her shoe.

Worth it.

 A little more confident as the feeling of an unfamiliar and frightened cheetah hit her as well as a smell of blood once she turned the corner and tried to push past the rest - namely, bear. Yes, she remembered him - no, she wasn't going to acknowledge that she did as she caught first sight of the both of them and glanced warily to the poor ensnared cat.

 "I don't expect you to lose any fingers over this, but there's a chance he won't listen to me - so ..." No forcing a shift at least, not with someone she didn't know and who didn't trust her ... yet, hopefully. Mindful not to get within a paw's distance, she would come close and crouch down, a heavy sigh that came in a puff of steam as she balanced on the balls of her feet and reached out metaphysically.

 The slightest chirp, a tentative brush of flank - whatever it would take. Because like hell was she just going to risk reaching out and pulling back bloody nubs just for the sake of it.
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#10
The cat flattened his ears against his head and bared his teeth as another human came along. What was this? A hunting party? The cheetah spit and hissed, waving his clawed paw at them. Go away.

But the woman continued to come closer, dangerously close but distant enough away that he couldn't swipe at her. He grumbled, getting tired of all these warnings. He couldn't flee so he would have to fight. But he was already so weak from flailing and trying to free himself from the trap, could he really take these two on?

To his surprise, the woman crouched down before him. Something... was different about her. The cat's eyes widened and he laid himself flat in the snow. Archer Cheetah was scared but suddenly a familiar presence was reaching out to him. He was a statue, laying and watching. Confusion clouded his mind, but he stayed still, observing the situation longer.
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#11
It would be... a while. Before anything caught his ear. He'd finished off the fruit and half of the jerky considering the cat had no interest in it. He knew his fatass bear would have been all over that food, even in a trap. Then again, he wasn't really sure a trap could stop the fucking mammoth of a bear. He'd just yank it out of the ground and wear it like a charm bracelet.

Eventually, there was the sound of an approach and the smell of cheetah growing more significant. Cliff lifted himself up from where he sat, spotting Yana trudging through the snow in heels. Oh, yikes. It looked like he'd pulled her from work. But this was kind of important, so. She approached the cheetah, with something of reassurance for him. "I can try and pry it open if you can distract him enough." He offered, but didn't move in unless he was given the go ahead. No way he was getting close without a sound plan first.
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#12
 She didn't dare turn around to address Cliff once she'd established even a faint and tepid connection with the new creature in front of her. It was cold and when the wind made the hem of her trousers touch her she wanted to scowl at the whole new chill. But that was small potatoes, even as she allowed the gold to seep into her eyes and watched him settle in the snow properly.

 "I would appreciate it if you would be so kind. If we could perhaps get him free even if I lose him ..." Better than freezing to death or ending up in the talons of some sort of hunter who would only turn this mess into a proper shitshow. "It's alright." As alright as it could be, at least now, gentle and welcoming at the metaphysical reach, the whole song and dance of chirping and soothing.
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#13
Ugh. This was so confusing and stressful. The feline panted heavily, desperate to catch his breath so he could try again to escape or even fight. The familiar sounds of the creature before him made his ears perk up in interest. What kind of trick was this?

Cheetah Archer looked at her curiously followed by a sigh of relief. The familiarity was slightly comforting to him. He chirped back in a desperate cry. Help. He needed help. Could she fight off the other creature for him while he tried to escape the trap? Though she seemed rather calm around the other one.
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#14
Okay, just. Don't let him bite, thanks. Cliff nodded, and would begin the tedious task of creeping in a wide circle around the pair of them, making sure he was perfectly aligned with the cat's backside before closing any distance. The more the cheetah had to move to get to him, the better the chance was that he could get away. So, as he eyed the somewhat calmed cat, he stepped forward, his torso folding as he fell into a crouch. His arms remained up and ready for any sudden movement, but if there was no move made toward him, he'd easy himself into a squat behind the cat, hovering above the trapped foot. It looked fucking gnarly. Torn skin, blood in the snow. Not great.
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#15
 Small favors, bears and cats weren't a new combination for her or her own beast. It was easy enough to spread the human indifference to the cat. She didn't try to pretend Cliff didn't exist, would not insult the trapped predator between them in such a way. It wasn't a matter of cloaking the bear, it was just an issue of making sure he wasn't registered as a threat.

 She chirped, the faintest twitch of tail as she assessed the bear but made no move to try to stop him. Settled instead to try to serve as a block between the two as she cautiously inched in the slightest bit closer.
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#16
The cheetah was calming down. Or perhaps, just exhausted and started giving up. Either way, he laid in the snow, panting his heart out. He was just wanted to sleep. End it already. This boi was tired. From loss of blood, sheer struggle? Both?

Cheetah Archer sighed, watching the female cat closely as she inched in. He wanted to be more curious, but exhaustion was taking over. He didn't even notice the male carefully approaching him, that or he didn't care anymore. His eyes grew heavy until they closed and he eventually he fell down further into the snow on his side, his ankle twisting with his body, but he didn't flinch. He just accepted the pain and the warm tingling feeling. His chest rose and fell slowly followed by steam exiting his nostrils.
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#17
Yana was, apparently, magic. It made sense, that the cheetah chilled out around another cat, but this had more of an affect than he expected. It had to be accredited to her station as a Queen, and Cliff was very distantly envious. To be able to be so substantially helpful... it was something he wanted to strive toward. But back to this, as the cheetah settled in and took steadier breaths. Cliff inched closer, and moved to take a knee as he eyed the trap. There were a few he was aware of, and this one seemed to be just a coil trap. Thankfully, he knew enough from his dad to know how to get this one open.

So with hands that were forcibly steady, he moved to grip the lever on either side of the trap, and placed his palms down against the bottom of the trap to keep it steady as he pulled the levers toward him. The jaws inched open, and Cliff gave it a gentle tug. The cheetah's paw tugged its own direction, and Cliff sighed as he twisted and tossed the trap to the side. It snapped back shut with a lout metallic clack, one that made him jump as the trap bounced across the snowed ground. Cliff grit his teeth as the bear surged forward, insisting that things would be a lot easier if he was a bear right now. Cliff did not agree.
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#18
 When the cheetah in front of her saw fit to flop onto his side, she reached over slowly, barely dented the snow near his closest paw with the very tips of her fingers. It would be a lie to say she didn't hold her breath while Cliff worked, bullshit to claim there was no anxious uncertainty until she heard the heavy metal snap of the teeth of the trap snapping on thin air.

 Immediately she relaxed a bit, turned toward the bag she'd trudged through the snow with and pulled out a blanket that she kept bundled in her arms and close to her chest. Glancing to Cliff, leery now at the idea of him losing his shit then and there. "Are you going to be alright?" Please don't make her try to carry him back to the car alone, Cliff.
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#19
The feline laid in the snow, and didn't bother moving once he felt the metal grasp around his ankle free up. It made the pain worse, the movement of it but at least he was free. Groggily, he lifted his head to look at the damage and immediately sat up to lick his wounds. A low and protective growl sounded from his throat as he cautiously cleaned up, keeping at least one eye on the other human. The loud noise of the trap made his own animal jump. The cat lifted himself to his feet rapidly and started an attempt to run for it. Tripping and dragging himself through the snow, he didn't get far with his damaged leg, only to end up dragging it behind him. The snow was far too deep to really get a good grip on running with only three legs.

Cheetah Archer fell back into the snow and panted intensely. He was running low on his energy. Adrenaline was slowing down.
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#20
Juuuuust a second, please, Yana. Cliff was holding a breath, letting it out, pulling another in. Just take a- and the cheetah was freaking out, scrambling to his feet. The bear marood and suggested thundering after it, but Cliff anchored himself down as he looked over his shoulder at it. It didn't get very far before flopping to the ground, defeated. With gritted teeth, Cliff stood and started toward it. "I'm good, lets just get him to your car." He just needed a task to focus on. Something to distract from the ache in his bones and joints.
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#21
 The last thing she needed was a giant bear and a half-feral cheetah in the middle of nowhere, fighting and huffing in the snow at one another. Content to keep the blanket near her chest as she tried to slide into damage control, the path of least resistance - all of this would have been so much easier if the other cat was on board.

Would have, the operative in the statement of fact.

 When Cliff seemed to relax the slightest bit she did the same, stood up and ignored the burn of the cold as she gently draped the blanket over the feline and watched him. "Parked as close as I could. hopefully, he'll be out officially soon enough." Please, her car did nothing wrong.
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#22
The cat wanted to sprint as soon as the woman came up on him with a blanket, throwing it over him. He only attempted to hiss and bare his teeth as he laid in the snow, but he slowly succumbed to sleep. Not like he could do much fleeing in his condition. Whatever. The cheetah sighed deeply, his body relaxing.
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#23
Really, between carrying a half asleep cheetah and a naked dude, Cliff wasn't entirely sure which one he'd rather. He didn't have much of an option anyway. The cheetah settled down, and Yana draped the blanket over the cat. With a nod at her words, he moved to sort of scoop his lower half up. Honestly, he might have even been able to manage carrying him alone, but help was appreciated. He'd wait for Yana to be ready and with a secure grip before they started moving. "Thanks for coming out." He would say over the crunch of snow underfoot.
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#24
 All said and done and seemingly halfway out of the woods (both literal and not), she relaxed by a good measure as she watched the cat, looking up only when Cliff broke the silence. "Thank you for calling." A simple thing to do, seemingly obvious - but people had an uncanny way to flop and flounder in the heat of a moment.

 "We owe you one." A sentiment that was genuine - even if this particular cheetah so decided to skirt Belle Vista, even if he dug his claws in and refused to budge. It was, if nothing else, an escape from an almost guaranteed media nightmare.
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#25
Cliff shrugged as best he could at that. Of course he called. Even if he was very much not a cheetah, he wasn't going to just leave one out here to get found by some hunter or to shift back and lay out here unconscious with his leg destroyed for hours. At the offer, he flashed a crooked smile and shook his head. "Nah, it was honestly the least I could do." Well, he could have just called and skedaddled. Maybe a safer option, to avoid a shift, but he'd been doing well here.

A beat of silence filled by crunching ice and forest floor. "If, uh, this guy ends up not wanting to join your group. Or if you come across any rogues, really, that need a safe place to shift sans bear traps-" He paused to hoist the weight up bit, readjusting. Also to sort of think about what he was doing, telling Levka's girlfriend about this. Well, too late now. "I own a place down in Red Rock. Fenced off land, a place with showers and lockers. Its closed to the public, and out of the way." Not Fort Knox, but better than a public walking trail with bear traps and who knew what else out here. "Just, ah, give em my number." That's how he'd have to do it until a better system could be put in place.
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#26
 Well, that was either horribly trusting or kind or perhaps a little bit of both. But whatever it was, she waited until he adjusted his hold and fished her keys from her pocket, pressed the button to unlock the doors and nodded to the backseat as they closed in. "Smart business model." And that wasn't disloyalty or whatever else - it was an objective fact.

"I'll keep it in mind, would you mind if I also passed this on to any one off's that might wander close to home?"
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#27
"Thanks," He said, kind of somewhere between sheepish and proud. It was something he'd been kind of thinking about for a while. It hadn't been till recently that he realized he could actually make it happen. "Yeah, just anyone, really. Even, uh, groups. Within reason." Aka don't invite the bears. Not that they really needed land to shift on. Cliff circled around so that he could open the door, and would ease the cat in butt-first to make sure they didn't push to hard and end up jamming his head on the door across the way.
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#28
 Within reason. She glanced over, looked at Cliff for a moment before she went back to helping adjust the cheetah in the back seat. Now the list of hopes was slim but important - hopefully he wouldn't wake during the drive back, hopefully, he'd shift in the car. Carrying a naked man inside was questionable, carrying a giant wild cat was that much worse.

"Of course." Omission was not deceit, and back to the wall she would tell the truth - but ... omission was not deceit. "I hope you have a good, calm rest of your evening."
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#29
Yana was... alright. He decided. Even if she'd kind of been horrible to Maxine and she was Levka's girlfriend, she was alright. Cheetah packed away, he stepped back and pushed his hands into his back pockets. "Ah, you too. Good luck with him." He nodded toward the car. Poor dude. With that, he'd sort of head off and wait for Yana to drive out of side before making a b-line for his truck. Enough hiking for the day.

/fade
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#30
 She glanced once through the window to the back seat when Cliff turned from her, sighed as she drummed her fingers on the top of the car. "Thanks." Mumbled under her breath before she got in, fished out her keys from her bag and with one final look back to make sure the unfamiliar cheetah in her car hadn't moved a muscle, took off and towards home.
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#31
The cat could hear the talking around him faintly. He also felt himself being picked up and placed into a vehicle. His leg fucking hurt but he was took weak to do anything about it. So as soon as she was placed into the car seats, he blacked out tiredly.

Rest. Rest was what he desperately needed.

/fade
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