As the rising sun burned away the morning fog, a thin shaft of light penetrated the dark cervices of Blue's den. Slowly he rose from the pile of soft leaves and hay that passed for a bed. With a loud yawn that filled the dark den, he stretched his long, taunt, feline body and padded toward the den's exit. As his feet made the transition from soft dirt to hard linoleum, Blue paused for a moment to look at his reflection on the floor.
The liger's normally neat mane was in disarray, and his yellow eyes were blood shot. His white and black striped fur appeared dull and scarred flesh was visible though the many bare spots in his pelt. He scoffed at his appearance, and inwardly at himself. How could he lose to a wimpy pack of wolves? Did he not possess all of the best features from the feline world? Deadly fangs, claws, beauty, and raw power inherited from both his lion and tiger heritage? Despite his powerful attributes, something seemed to be missing, something that prevented him earning the respect of the other forest creatures. Sure, he was young, and somewhat naive, but those could be over come with experience, in time of course. And understanding? Who needed it, only weak, inferior creatures, like Silver.
Ruefully, Blue turned his gaze upward into the husky's neat lab. Various machines and cages littered the small room. Some machines were small and insignificant, while others stood proudly, giving off a slightly majestic air. The sharp smell of chemicals, mostly of various mutagen mixes and antiseptics, made him feel slightly nauseated. He recognized the two large vats sitting side by side in the far corner of the lab; Silver had always referred to them as the Total RBS Submersion System. He had been aged to full maturity in one of the vats, by non other than the husky herself. The sudden rush of memories threatened to overwhelm him, and only served to increase the feeling of nausea within him. Blue groaned softly, and shook his massive head trying to void his mind of the various feelings.
Silver… He thought to himself. It was below him to live in the shadow of such a pitiful thing, how he longed for her to cower in his presence! For her to shake with fright upon his entry into a room. To see her beg for her life, knowing that he could extinguish it as easy as one might crush an ant underfoot would give him no better pleasure. Why should such a large creature as himself, have to respect the mutt, the filthy pet? To make matters worse, how did such a mundane little creature, gather so much in a short time? How is that she was able to bend science to her will? In areas where others may use magic, and perhaps brute strength, she could move quickly, calculating her next thought, and whipping out an appropriate invention. Sure she wasn't the one who created the RBS, but she did help to make it stable, and tested it numerous times on herself. On a whim she could easy become a demon, a dragon, a cyborg, or even a were-creature. Yet, under the various forms she was just a husky, a fragile sled pulling dog.
Blue sneered again, as a solution to his problem wormed it's way into his thoughts. He would make her submit to him, in a fight, as her normal self. She wouldn't have the slightest of chances. He was goliath liger, even more powerful than the largest of tigers, and she was just a minuscule husky, docile by nature. But when would he challenge her? And how would he keep her away from her precious RBS? Suddenly Blue's thoughts were interrupted as Silver tiredly shuffled into the lab. She was groggy with sleep, and her guard was down. Without as much as a second though, Blue snarled and rushed for her.
Silver glanced up in time to see the liger rushing at her. Sensing danger, the fur along her back bristled, and at the last moment she leapt out of Blue's way. His large paws skidded to a halt as he missed his target by mere inches. He cast a scornful eye upon her and taking long strides, charged again. As Silver prepared to dodge like before, Blue lashed out his large forepaw and tripped her. The husky tumbled end over end into a rack of beakers and the force of the impact knocked them to the floor. Silver curled into a ball to protect herself from the glass and chemicals rained down upon her. Just as she deemed it was safe to get up and run, the feline neatly pinned her.
Emotionlessly, he rolled her over on to her belly, and placed both paws on her shoulder blades. The enormous weight of Blue kept her pressed into the linoleum, and the glass shards from the crash pushed their way into the soft flesh of her belly. She squirmed and began to whimper, delighting Blue all the more. He pressed harder and the glass pushed it's way further into her underside. Silver's whimper became a full-blown howl of pain, and her front paws flailed wildly, unable to help her. During the few moments of excruciating pain, she finally found her voice, and snarled at the white liger.
"What's gotten into you?!"
"I am sick of taking orders from you. You are not my master, or my keeper. And I am not your slave!" bellowed Blue, as he used one of his gigantic paws to press down on her muzzle.
"I don't know what you're taking about..." she muttered as she now struggled to breathe. "You were never my slave, and if you feel that way, you can damn well leave..."
Blue mused on her words as he slowly crushed her atop the broken glass. "No, I think it's time for a different kind of change. You, a lowly dog, will- obey- me. Now tell me what I want to hear, or I will kill you this instant." He lifted his paw slightly to allow Silver to reply.
The husky clinched her jaw shut, angered at Blue's very proposal. Unable to contain her outrage any longer, she replied by sinking her fangs into the unsuspecting paw. Blue roared in surprise and shook his paw to and fro. Becoming angry himself, he brought his free paw up to slash Silver, but he had played perfectly into her trick. Before he could land a blow she released him, and clawed at his eyes before running off. In an unexpected move, she stopped in her tracks and turned to face him. Silver bared her fangs and lowered her head, challenging him. He scoffed again and began to stroll towards the dog, the challenge would be her undoing, he thought to himself.
"You're braver than you look, mutt. Either that, or incredibly stupid." Taunted Blue.
Silver narrowed her eyes in reply, awaiting Blue's first move. Sneering, he charged her once more. Instead of dodging like before, she quickly darted forward, and leapt several feet off the floor. Before Blue could follow her with his jaws, she had already landed on his head, the force slamming his muzzle against the hard floor. He rolled to his feet and took a few swipes at the canine, but she moved too quickly for him. She dodged every deadly stroke of his paw, until he had to finally stop, panting in exhaustion and seething with anger. With a graceful leap the husky landed at the base of her biggest control panel. Silver barked scornfully at him and pawed the ground, mocking his failed attempts to catch her.
The damage to his pride was more painful that anything she had physically dealt him. Blue felt his wrath bubbling deep inside. It soon boiled over and in a blind fury he roared, thundering towards her with murderous intentions. At the last possible second she slid under him, leaving him confused. In his confusion the hybrid feline crashed against the complex panel, his sheer weight causing him to break through the panel. As Blue lay on his back among a mess of wires and metal fibers, he became aware of a slight tickling sensation around his throat. Without warning, the tickling sensation quickly became one of pain and terror. Something was encircled around his throat and slowly suffocating him to death. He tried to rise to his feet, but was caught within a tangle of wires that bound him tightly.
In defeat, he let his head rest against the hard floor. Through his inverted vision he saw a set of foaming jaws holding something silvery in its mouth. Silver? Silver! He gasped in horror as he saw that the bare wire that she held in her jaws was the very thing coiled around his neck. She grinned demonically and pulled on the wire, as she pulled it not only tightened but also cut into his throat. Blue began to choke as a crimson liquid started to stain his fur. If Silver kept pulling at her current rate, he'd end up drowning in his own bodily fluids.
Afraid of death, Blue tried to reason with the dog, however his voice was all but gone. He could only gurgle and gasp for air. Although her teeth were clenched, Silver could still speak and she took the time to further mock Blue.
"You know, there is no 'I' in team, but it certainly does rhyme with 'die'."
Blue vigorously shook his head in reply, indicating that he didn't want to die. His body had transformed into a vessel of pain. It pulsed through him, threatening to consume his very being. He wasn't sure what hurt more now, his body or his pride. He had challenged the husky, already certain of his victory. Yet, she had outwitted him, and now held his very life between her jaws. His arrogance had cost him his life.
As he prepared himself for the end, the cutting wire suddenly loosened. Finally free of the deadly tension Blue took a deep breath, and the fading feeling receded. He grunted and pulled himself free of the wires. Silver stood over him, her face a mask of coldness. His relief quickly transformed itself into deep shame, and he slunk out of the lab with his ears pressed against his head.
He exited Silver's den, finally stopping to rest at a small shady creek. It was now mid-morning, and the pleasant sounds of the day greeted him. Sighing, he bent over to lap at the cool water as he reflected on his day. Silver... She had not only defeated him, but she humiliated him in the process. He had every intention of killing her and in turn she spared him. Similarly, another had spared his life once before. Why? Why did others spare him, when they could easily end his life? He would certainly not pass on the opportunity to do so himself. Was it something they had in which he lacked? Was having understanding really that important? Was working together and learning to respect others a help, and not a hindrance? Finding himself overwhelmed again, Blue clenched his eyes shut and slept.
When he awoke, the air was hot and hazy, indicating the approaching twilight. Rising to his feet, he was unsure what to do. Should he go back to the den? Would he be allowed to return? Before he could decide on a definite answer, something gray and furry streaked passed him. It stopped just a few feet from him, swishing its fluffy tail.
Blue groaned in irritation, recognizing the creature and called to it. "What do you want now?"
"Perhaps it's not what I want, but what you need instead." Silver mused as she padded away from him.
As she ventured deeper into the forest, his curiosity got the better of him. "Where are you going?!" Blue demanded. Not getting answer, he hesitated for a moment, and then followed her into the thick shrubbery. She glanced over a shoulder to make sure she wasn't alone, then took off running with a burst of speed. Further perplexed, Blue struggled to keep up with the fast moving husky. She led him through the forest valley and into the mountains. Stopping at a cliff, he noticed part of it was missing, and various boulders lay in a heap, as if something large had been quickly buried. As he climbed the side of the cliff, and the temperature dropped, he began to wonder where she had taken him, and why. Looking up he saw her waiting for him atop a long icy ledge. Upon reaching the edge, Silver stopped and gestured with a paw.
"Come this way."
Blue obliged her and fell in line behind the husky. The top of the cliff widened into a large plateau, and another forest appeared. Unlike the forest he was used to, this one was icy, and probably remained frozen throughout most of the year. She turned left and led him to a place cloaked in shadows. He could barely make out the twilight sky through the thick forest canopy. As they pressed on, a feeling began to over take him, for the first time since their arrival, Blue felt afraid. There was no immediate danger, and yet something dangerous lingered in the air. It was then that he realized all of the forest animals had disappeared. Were they too afraid of this place? And why wasn't Silver?
Just then, she stiffened and stopped. She pointed to a small clearing flooded with the last threads of sunlight and motioned for Blue to continue alone. Gathering his courage the white liger pressed on. The first thing Blue noticed were the various bones scattered about. He was eerily reminded of a massive graveyard. Among the skeletons were various kinds of animals. He could make out wolf skulls, dead birds, and even possums. In fact, the whole clearing was virtually littered with the bones of possums. Why possums? And why did he need to come to this place?
Heading deeper into the clearing, the dark atmosphere only increased in intensity. As did the size of the skeletons. A few of the remains were as large as dragons, and judging from the armor plating covering them, they may have once been dragons. However, it wasn't the remains of the dragons that caught his feline eye, it was the large tree standing proudly in the middle of the clearing. Something partially rotting was grotesquely bound to it.
The smell of death became almost unbearable, but Blue forced himself to move forward. Stopping at the base of the tree, he noticed the creature was bound to the tree by a sword. The sword at pierced its ribs and lower jaw in an upward angle. Bits of dark gray fur and flesh still clung to the skull, and its empty eye sockets seemed to glare contemptuously down at him. Yet, the skull seemed to grin, not a normal grin, but one that sickly reminded him of a possum. Another Possum? Yes! That thing bound to the tree had to be a possum, Blue was certain of it.
It was bigger than any possum he had ever seen before. The possum reminded him of one various were wolves that occasionally appeared at the weekly gathering place. The fear that had been temporarily replaced by curiosity came rushing back to him. Blue became unsure of himself, only wanting to place as much distance between him and the possum as his feet would allow. Turning to leave the clearing, he collided into Silver. Gasping for breath, he jerked a dew claw towards the thing bounded to the tree.
"What is THAT?!" demanded Blue.
"An old nemesis." She replied calmly.
"Why did you show it to me, why did you bring me here?" He wretched.
Instead in replying, Silver padded over to the large tree and sat down at its base. She swished her tail in deep thought, and finally replied. "Because you remind me of him." She paused for effect, then continued upon receiving the look of disbelief that she had expected from Blue. "He was very powerful, and like all powerful creatures very arrogant. He commanded an army under fear and threat of pain, but end the end he was all alone. When he and his hordes of possums attacked us, everything began to fall apart. He couldn't figure out why his plans failed and was finally slain before he realized his mistake. He failed to realize the power of understanding others, and how having a bond to others makes you stronger- not weaker. If you have someone or something to believe in or fight for it enhances your cause all the more. You're traveling down a dangerous road, Blue. What is it that you believe in? What do you have to prove to us? Why do you insist on dominating others regardless of their feelings? If you don't take the time to understand others, you'll never regain their respect, and you'll live a very bitter life." Sighing tiredly, Silver rose from her place at the base of the tree and turned to exit the forest.
Blue pressed his rounded ears to his head and let himself slump to the forest floor. He silently indicated to Silver that he wished to be alone. Shaking her head, she left the white liger to ponder over her words. If dominating the forest, and the others by force meant he would become more powerful. Wouldn't that be a good thing? The power to make laws, to punish anyone that dared to break them. No one would have the authority to make fun of him, to attack him, or torment him as they pleased. He would finally command the respect that he rightfully deserved. Yet, his train of thought made him feel incredibly uneasy. What if the dead possum bound to a tree had thought the same way? Perhaps brute strength alone wasn't the answer, perhaps it truly did lie within friendship and understanding. In the end respect through friendship instead of fear yielded a much more trusting and stable relationship. That's what gave the seemly weak their edge, the power of friendship which wasn't a weakness at all. Yes, that had it be it.
Uttering a low yawn, Blue turned to take one last look at the bound possum. The dead animal strengthened his new resolve, and he left the clearing eager to return to the comforts of home. Upon leaving the clearing he found Silver waiting for him.
The liger grinned as he playfully ruffled the fur on her head, then set his features in a serious expression as the husky barked in protest. "So who was the one that finally drove the sword through that possum?" he asked quietly.
"All of us did, not one of us could stand up to him alone."
"Yeah, I thought so..." Without saying other word, Blue found himself longing to put the events and his actions from earlier far behind him. A smile tugged at the corner of his muzzle as he realized that he wouldn't have to do so alone.
Back to the Lab!