Posted Mar.11.18 at 03:00 pm
Hawk had been entirely subsumed for the moment by a bright, pale fire that hung, suspended by the ropes, just above the floor. Aries's animal did not leave its post by the truck, but it did begin to laugh loudly and angrily. Aries and Kei had both backed up a step, Aries holding the knife in front of him with one hand, the other--the one that had nearly touched Hawk--hanging limply at his side.

"What the fuck!!" Kei shouted, shielding his eyes from the hard glow. "You shorted out my shit!"

Aries said nothing for a second, but then, very calmly, "I can't move my arm."

"Whaddya mean?!" Kei demanded. The fire had died down some into pale ghosts, and the hands that reached up to wrap around the rope were black and a livid yellow. The rope began to fray.

"I mean," Aries said, "I can't move my arm. He broke it. Or something. You'd better grab him," he added.

Kei was already halfway through changing shape. "Oh. Right."

Hawk hit the ground on all fours, upsetting the bucket, as the ghostly fire burned away the gag, the collar, the ropes, the worn-through remnants of his shirt. Both of his forearms were now striped yellow and black, and his fingers ended in steely talons. Long, shaggy grey feathers covered his upper arms, and more were sprouting out of his shoulders and neck. A chunk of his hair had formed into a twisted black-and-yellow shape that partly obscured his vision, and another bright yellow bony structure had erupted from his cheek beneath one eye.

He looked up, startled, as Kei screamed, "HOLD STILL."

Leaping at Hawk was a massive, shaggy grey cat, his face contorted in a snarl around his huge canines, his eyes glowing brightly crimson. His huge paws with their unsheathed claws were outstretched, ready to clap Hawk's head between them.

The huge paws missed Hawk, but Kei's jaws bit down directly on the forearm that Hawk threw up as he tried to rise. Hawk gritted his teeth, raised his wings over his head, and leaned forward against Kei's weight. Then in one movement he swept his free hand up, raking his talons over one of Kei's eyes--and as Kei's jaws loosened and he screamed, Hawk ripped his arm sideways out of Kei's grip.