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Literature
Pokemon Battle: vs. Sam
“So I see you finally made it to our match. What, you run out of excuses for ducking me?”
Placidly tossing a Premier Ball up and down in one hand, Chris simply smiled at Sam’s idle taunts. “And good to see you too madam. Trust me, when this is over, I won’t be the one looking for excuses.” Catching the ball in hand, he adroitly balanced it between three fingers and adjusting his silver tinted glasses in preparation, “Now, shall we?”
Smiling smugly, Sam gestured for him to release first, “By all means. Go right ahead.” Shrugging with a smile, Chris released his opening Pokémon. Erupting from her Premier Ball in a burst of white laser light was Tasha, Chris’s Tyranitar. Landing heavily, the Armor Pokémon immediately whipped up a violent sandstorm with its Sand Stream ability.
It was his staple opening gambit, but also one that Samantha was fully prepared for as she released her own Mienshao. Chris visibly winched
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Epilogue)
It had been several minutes since Lynn padded out of the building and set out over the moonlit scrubland. Back in the warehouse there was a subtle movement in the rafters above the roller doors. It wasn’t anything visible, but not quite invisible either, instead it was the almost imperceptible indication of... something... steadily making its way down the pillar on the far side of the truck. It looked, almost, but not exactly, like the surroundings behind it, and if one were paying VERY careful attention, they’d notice the slightest of discrepancies along the outline of whatever it was. Reaching the ground, it jerkily made its way over to Gerard’s unconscious form, and ‘tsking’ under its breath, shook it’s head as it dispelled the intricate pattern that cloaked it.
It was another therianthrope, and was of strikingly similar appearance to the gecko earlier. Both in terms of attire, wearing a similar lab coat, albeit of a higher quality and silvery-whi
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 10)
Letting loose a baleful howl that bypassed all reason and triggered a heretofore forgotten area of Gerard’s brain. Not the reptilian portion, but rather the human within. It was a sound that hotwired synapses that hadn’t heard anything like it since the dawn of man. Memories that weren’t so much carved into stone, than engraved into the bedrock. It was a howl that began at the back of her throat, and if Gerard wasn’t careful, would end up around his.
Suitably unnerved, Lynn padded to all fours as she shifted to a completely wolf form. It took two seconds worth of acceleration to close the gap between them, and then, she lunged. The situations urgency ratcheted his adrenaline to breakneck speed, his heart-rate thundering out of control. Near frozen between the two sides of his fight or flight response, Gerard stopped thinking, and balling his fists, reacted.
Now it was Lynn’s turn to get slammed against the building, hitting the heavy roller doors and colla
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 9)
Back inside the van, Lynn had realized that her biggest handicap wasn’t due to being stuck in her human form, but that she didn’t have access to her lupine one. It’s didn’t make much sense semantically, but in her soul she knew what was wrong, for several disorientating minutes, her personalities, human and wolf, had been split. But now she was back together and it felt… so good.
Unable to help but smile at the sensation of being whole once more, Lynn grinned toward Gerard, adding a hint of viciousness to let him know that the kid gloves were off. To his credit, the man didn’t shy away from the threat display, and in response puffed up his ‘beard’ like a pincushion.
Getting down onto all fours Lynn let her hackles rise, setting on edge the usually smooth tufts of hair that ran down her back and over her shoulders. Growl growing louder, she slowly circled the bearded dragon, then with a snarl, charged forward. With a husky hiss of his own,
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 8)
Making a show of clutching her bruised rib-cage, she pretended to reach around the table for some sort of weapon. It was an unconventional approach, one that would irrevocably escalate things if she actually tried to face him down while armed. Up until now, things had been lighthearted, a bit of predator vs. prey role-play before the inevitable, but she knew that Gerard would quit playing around and put her down for good.
She needed to get back to the van, and right now, the only way there was through Gerard.
Or perhaps, not necessarily ‘through’…
Giving up looking for a weapon, Lynn instead braced her hand on the edge of the table. Gerard who’s steady approach turned cautious as he realized that she was looking for a weapon, relaxed once more. “Heh, what’s up pup? All out of tricks?” Unarmed, injured, and backed up against the heavy metal table, the advantage was all in his favor. Shoulders squared, he took on a wide swaggering gait as he drew
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 7)
Planting his fist on the ground as he got back into a quarterback pose, Gerard gave a cross between a smug grin and a begrudging grimace. “You’ve already proven to be more of a problem then you’re worth, not to mention that the chimeric cocktail the lab boys whipped up pretty much goes to waste on naturals like you. It don’t do much ‘sides rile up your natural form …but I bet that even if I were to offer you an out right now, you’d ignore it just to have the chance to take me down.” Despite the situation, Gerard gave a genuine smile, teasingly sticking his dark blue tongue out at her, “But I’m afraid that just ain’t happening sweet-cheeks.”
For the first time since the start of their fight, Lynn was forced to agree with him; not only on declining an escape to prove a point, but also on the futility of her predicament in doing just that. Not matter how clever or canny she might be, there was no way for her to win a
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 6)
Fight or flight instincts on overdrive, Lynn’s heart-rate picked up the pace to breakneck speed. The more she thought about the situation, the more frantic her mind became. Yet even on the precipice of panic, a sliver of cognizance slipped through in the form of an idea. Exhaling smoothly to settle her nerves, she quickly began to piece together a plan. ‘So he’s only good in bursts and he loses traction once he’s up to speed.’ Keeping her distance as she kept an eye on Gerard, Lynn paid careful attention to the bearded dragon’s movement, speed, reaction time, and dexterity. ‘Plus he’s arrogant and boastful… but strong and skilled enough to actually back up his bragging.’ Another charge, another wild dodge out of the way, and all the while, pieces fell into place.
Soundly outclassed in terms of strength and speed, Lynn swiftly resorted to skill and strategy. While she had a narrowed margin of error, she could still utilize her
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 5)
Already well-built, musculature swelled masterfully beneath a pattern of dusky yellow-gray scales that steadily crept across his skin. Unlike the Gila monster, whose bulk was due to a mix of muscle and fat, this man was large and lean, as if his skin, now completed replaced with spiny scales, was stretched straight over muscle. Soundly solid, every cut and couture impeccably defined like a professional bodybuilder.
His face, which Lynn had paid little attention to before, widened, stretching his smile into a lizard-like grin as row after row of small, dark, barb-like spikes lined the underside of his neck and chin. Tracking Lynn’s gaze to them, he grinned and pantomimed stroking them as if it were a beard of hair. “Bearded-dragon,” he said as way of an explanation, “Not terribly exotic, but it does mean you've got no safe way to knock me out and force me to revert little lady.” Despite never seeming to stop grinning, perhaps due more to anatomy than amusem
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 4)
Several strikes in and it became clear that size wasn’t everything. The Gila monster, though bulking, could barely manage to keep up with Lynn. Clumsy to the point of lumbering, he’d taken several slow motion swipes at her, at one point nearly falling over his own feet in a ham-fisted attempt to deck her. Looking to finish things as fast as possible, Lynn ducked under the punch, and placing a palm on the floor, adroitly swiveled her body around to land a well-placed pivot kick.
The match practically sealed as the man tumbled head over heels into a pile of crates, Lynn relaxed her guard for the first time since the start of her fight. It was clear the man was all brawn and little brains, a meathead more than anything else. For a second, Lynn wondered just who was the true mastermind behind this entire operation… when she felt a sharp pinprick against her rear.
Whirling around with a snarl, Lynn reflexively grabbed the geckoid scientist who’d so drearily ordered f
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 3)
Waiting for her opportunity, Lynn found that it came soon enough. The van slowed to an idle, rolled forward slowly, then finally came to a full stop as the driver parked and killed the engine. Lynn had never the need to get fully mad to transform before, not since she gained control of her shape-shifting as a child, but right now, embracing her inner fury just felt right.
With a snarl of outrage, Lynn shifted to her full on bimorphic form in an instant. Unusually, the transition would have been smooth and flowing, as if the image of a wolf overlaid over her human frame in a slow unrolling motion. But fueled by ire, the change was sharp and sudden. Fur unfurled from her spine immediately covering her back and shoulders, stretching down her arms to what was now claws, and up her slender neck and over her face. Where there was once a human mouth, now a wolf’s muzzle, and it had been lined with thick ivory canines, made to crush bone. Already a fairly athletic woman, Lynn could feel
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 2)
To wake up groggy and strapped to a gurney was never a good sign. To do so inside what seemed to be an ambulance only made things worse. Lynn had never been inside one before but to her incoherent mind it all looked about right, ‘Oxygen tanks, masks, tubing...’ Blinking hazily, she tilted her muzzle to one side, taking in her surroundings as she tried to piece together what had happened. All she had remembered was a sensation of disorientation preceded by the slightest of pinpricks on her shoulder, like she'd been stung by a bee. It had been followed by a cacophony of screams and shouts as she staggered around dazedly while her vision blurred leading to her collapse.
Then darkness from out of darkness, light, if not enlightenment. She shifted against the straps and heard voices, yet couldn’t make out the meaning of the words due to the muffled haze of her mind. Dazedly she turned to look above her, ‘Ventilator, monitors, electronics…’ Still trying to
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Literature
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 1)
“Closing off our evening broadcast we turn to local news, where tragedy struck a downtown mall when a therianthrope suddenly changed from its human form, going berserk. Thankfully no-one was injured due to a prompt response by a specialized team dedicated to address situations like these.” Lynn brushed a few errant bangs from the front of her face and tucked them behind her ear, the deep-blue dyed tips in need of a retouch. The contrast of the raven dark waves against her immaculate creamy-tan skin was actually quite fetching, and would have come across even more so if she didn't have a spoon of cereal sticking out of her mouth, frozen in place the moment she had heard the term; Therianthrope. It was a fancy sounding, clinical word, popularized to sterilize the idea for the masses, but as the amateur cellphone footage of the event played out across the scene, anyone with half a brain could figure out its real meaning… a werewolf.
Or more accurately, a were-creature; l
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Halloween Sketch Strip 1-2 by IronDino
Mature content
Halloween Sketch Strip 1-2 :iconirondino:IronDino 0 0
Literature
IPL Battle #946: Part 6 of 6: Conclusion
As the two combatants withdrew their Pokémon and departed from the stage, Rhode decided to break Sebastian’s seething, “Huh, looks like Chris won. That would mean we have… a tie.” She raised her hand to cover her mouth as she adds this little tidbit, doing so to hide her smile at what she knew was coming next.
“A tie?! No. Nuh-uh, let’s finish this. Two on two!” It was hard to say who said what as both Sid and Seb spoke up simultaneously. Chris placed a finger alongside his face amusedly as something sparked between the duo. With Sid still shrugging off the Stall from his defeat, Seb had priority, “YES! A grand two on two match; winner takes all!”
However, Sid wasn’t to be outdone and Sebastian’s competitive zeal just what was needed to kick start his own enthusiasm and get it into gear, “HAHAH! Indeed, and you’ll suffer a similar defeat by my hand once more!”
“In your dreams you little pu
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Literature
IPL Battle #946: Part 5 of 6: Chris vs. Sebastian
Sid opened his eyes to see the placid face of Specen staring down at him, the Embrace Pokémon’s long blue hair kept in place by Fairy glamour. Secondly, he saw Rhode who had leaned over the rail to watch the battle but had now turned back to look at the revived Battler. Thirdly and most importantly, he saw the battle; Chris’s Krux vs. Sebastian’s Cathbad. He closed his eyes, “Heracross vs. Fearow.” Figuring that speech was a promising enough sign, Rhode turned back to the battle responding, “Yep.” Sid sighed, “Any chance that he sent out his Pokémon first?” “Nope.” “‘Ladies first’ policy wasn’t it?” “Yep.” “Urgh, figures.”
Slowly, Sid pulled himself up and onto his knees. He’d been lying lengthwise along the sideline stand. Still on his knees, he shifted his body to face the battle and slouched over the railing. He squinted at the battle before rea
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Literature
IPL Battle #946: Part 4 of 6: Sid vs. Rhode
Practically skipping over to the platform and doing a little jig as he cavorted up the steps to the trainer stand, Sid looked over to Rhode who was watching his antics with mild amusement, “You sure you don’t want a breather after that last battle?”
Rhode gave a shrug, watching as the young trainer pulsed from foot to foot, “I'm fine. It wasn’t really that intense a battle to need a break afterwards.” At this Sid’s eyebrow raised above the rim of his silver shades. He silently looked over to Chris who probably would have protested this statement if not for the fact that the breeder was insufferably polite. With the battlefield restored to its default state, he looked over to see that Rhode had already released a Rhydon, the large gray Drill Pokémon slamming its rugged fists together a few times, eyeing Sid over its horn.
“Roight then,” pulling out a Poké Ball, Sid dropped it onto his foot, where it expanded from pocket
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Activity


“So I see you finally made it to our match. What, you run out of excuses for ducking me?”

Placidly tossing a Premier Ball up and down in one hand, Chris simply smiled at Sam’s idle taunts. “And good to see you too madam. Trust me, when this is over, I won’t be the one looking for excuses.” Catching the ball in hand, he adroitly balanced it between three fingers and adjusting his silver tinted glasses in preparation, “Now, shall we?”

Smiling smugly, Sam gestured for him to release first, “By all means. Go right ahead.” Shrugging with a smile, Chris released his opening Pokémon. Erupting from her Premier Ball in a burst of white laser light was Tasha, Chris’s Tyranitar. Landing heavily, the Armor Pokémon immediately whipped up a violent sandstorm with its Sand Stream ability.

It was his staple opening gambit, but also one that Samantha was fully prepared for as she released her own Mienshao. Chris visibly winched at the unfavorable type match up. Sam on the other hand was all smiles, “Yeah, I figured that you’d start things off with your Tyranitar. Quick Mienshao, let’s bust him down to size with a Hi-Jump Kick!”

However, as the Martial Arts Pokémon leapt high into the air, Chris casually pulled out another Premier Ball. “Not one of your best match-up’s eh, Tasha? Tash, return! Hackenslash, your time to shine!” In an instant, the bulking Tyranitar was replaced with a sleek Aegislash. As opposed to the classic straight-sword and circle shield duplet, Hackenslash instead sported a long cutlass and half heater-shield with a skull motif.

Taking but a moment to grasp the situation, Hackenslash methodically unsheathed her cutlass, lining it up as if to decapitate the oncoming Mienshao on impact. Instead, the spectral blade, and in fact, the entirety of the Aegislash’s form phased harmlessly through the Martial Arts Pokémon. But between the pseudo-slash and the stinging sandstorm, Sam’s Mienshao botched the landing for her Hi-Jump-Kick, crashing painfully into the ground.

As the Martial Arts Pokémon wearily picked itself off the ground, Sam sucked her teeth, pulling out its Pokéball, readying her next Pokémon. “Mienshao, take five! Gengar, you’re up!” As Mienshao returned, a purple blob of darkness immediately eclipsed its swirl of light. A Cheshire smile stretched across the void, taking the shape of a grinning Gengar.

“But that’s not all!” Smiling alongside her own Ghost Pokémon, Samantha raised her arm to show off a gleaming Mega-Bracelet. A sinister indigo and lavender smoke enveloped the Gengar, wrapping and remolding it into a Mega-Gengar. Landing on the ground with a haunting laugh, its shadow streaked out towards Hackenslash, but with a deft whirl of her blade, the Aegislash sliced the attempt at trapping her with Shadow Tag.

“Well done Hack’s.” Acknowledging her prudence with a nod, Chris followed up with a command, “Now let’s set up a Substitute while we have a moment to spare.” Flourishing her blade, the Aegislash seemed to momentarily fade before a rudimentary facsimile of herself popped into existence.

However, Samantha wasn’t perturbed in the least by this development. “Not like I plan on giving you much of a chance to run away this time either. Gengar! Sludge Bomb.” Cheeks budging, the Mega-Gengar blasted out a ball of unsanitary black bile from its mouth. Even amidst the swirling sandstorm, the bomb seemed to strike Hackenslash dead on, but as the dust settled, a glimmering hexagon shield protected both Hackenslash and its Substitute.

“Now, what say we put an end to this upstart?” Registering Chris’s command, a sinister gleam traced its way across the edge of the Aegislash’s blade. As the hexagonal barrier dissipated Hackenslash unsheathed her sword once more, this time curling the cutlass up and over its shield, a dark ball of ethereal smoke accumulating at the tip.

“No! Gengar! Stop it with Hypnosis!” The Shadow Pokémon slammed its large hands into the ground, boring its third eye into Hackenslash, but to no avail. Her concentration too honed, and as if in retaliation for the attempt at involuntary somnolence, swings her blade around in a wicked arc, sending the orb of otherworld energy streaking straight toward the Gengar’s central eye.

The blast hit its mark dead-on, instantly knocking out the Mega-Gengar. Evaporating into its shadow like vesper wisps, the opposing Ghost Pokémon faded back into its Pokéball, defeated. To highlight her triumph, Hackenslash gave a flurry of showy swordsmanship to highlight her triumph, adding ‘just’ a bit of insult to the injury.

“That’s only one down,” At having her Pokémon one-shot so easily, Sam grit her teeth in an angry grimace before turning it into a grin as she readied her next team-member, “And I’m nowhere near out of the game just yet! Go! Goodra!”

With what could only be called a ‘plop’, the Goodra heavily landed onto the battlefield. Unknowingly, Samantha was expertly keeping on top of Chris’s tactics. For one of the pseudo-legendaries, Goodra was perhaps the most uncommon of them all, boasting one the strongest Special Defense stats of all the Dragon-types. This usually wouldn’t be an issue for Aegislash, which were primarily physical attackers… but Hackenslash had been raised with special move-set in mind.

Realizing this, Chris quickly rationalized a plan of action, “No need to worry, we’ve still got the sub up. In the meantime, let’s scout some moves.” Hackenslash re-sheathed its blade, readying King’s Shield right as a blistering Fire Blast scorched across the protective barrier. Now wary, Chris raised an eyebrow. “O-kay. Didn’t see that one coming. The good thing is that Fire Blast has a limited amount of shots, so we should be able to alternately tank them till she runs out of power.”

As if on cue, a powerful Thunderbolt crackled around the metallic Substitute. Fortunately, Hackenslash had a surfeit of stamina from which to make the mini-facsimile. However, it didn’t survive the bolt unscathed, a bit of the mock metalwork fusing and splintering apart. Naturally blessed in Special Defense, Sam’s Goodra was no slouch when it came to its Special Attack either.

Though Chris was struggling to retain an air of calm, Hackenslash was utterly undeterred and gave a flourish with her rapier, ready to retaliate. Nodding, Chris called the command, “Alright Hack’s, let’s send her a Shadow Ball and see if we can knock that Special Defense stat down!” The sword and shield Pokémon responded immediately and with a spiraling lunge, sliced a spectral hole in the air ahead of her to send a Shadow Ball hurtling toward the sticky slug-dragon. Despite the heightened power output from switching to her offensive stance, Hack’s Shadow Ball did little to daunt the dragon’s defense’s, shouldering into the blow before shaking itself free of the leftover lavender wisps.

“Now! Fire Blast!” Rearing up, the Goodra unleashed another blazing star toward the Aegislash. If Sam was trying to jump the gun and try land a hit before Chris could call for a countermeasure, it didn’t quite work. Already recognizing the routine, Hackenslash had already readied another King’s Shield, causing the inferno to whiff against the impromptu imperial barrier.

Spinning herself around to signify not only her devilish delight at rendering the Goodra’s efforts useless, but also a full recovery of her HP via Leftover’s, Chris smiled at Hackenslash winking and snapping his fingers toward the Goodra. In a dazzling display that brought back memories, Shadow Ball and Thunderbolt crossed, collided, mixed, and separated, striking both combatants with a merger of both ethereal and electrical energy.

Sam’s Goodra attempted to shrug it off in a show of strength, but it was clear that the Aegislash’s attacks were steadily wearing it down. But the cross-counter wasn’t without merit. Its resistance exceeded, fracture lines crisscrossed the Substitute before crackling into pieces. Samantha pumped her fist excitedly, “Alright Goodra, they’ve got nowhere left to hide! Now melt that rusty cutlass down to slag with a full force Fire Blast!”

Rearing up, the Goodra focused the heat building inside of it to its peak temperature, then, with a gleam in its eye that echoed its trainer’s zeal, unleashed a searing star of flames, crashing into the opposition with an impressive explosion. Raising her arm to shield herself from the blast of smoke, Sam looked on in eager anticipation, waiting for the smoke to clear to see the result of her Goodra’s attack.

Seconds passed, yet the resolution of the battlefield didn’t seem any clearer. In fact, it seemed to be progressively getting worse. Not only was Chris’s side of the field obscured, but her Goodra was getting hazy as well. It took a stinging sensation against her cheeks to cause for concern, but the clarity of the situation was only confirmed as a gap in the swirling shroud revealed that her Goodra’s full power Fire Blast had been stonewalled. Literally.

Instead of calling for another King’s Shield, Chris had switched his Pokémon at the last second, recalling his Aegislash and sending its stead… his Tyranitar. Unlike before when the battle had first begun, the craggy Pokémon seemed quite energized. Though in all fairness, he had switched it out almost immediately after seeing the unfavorable match up. In any case, the Dark Rock Pokémon gleefully whipped up a whirling sandstorm which now viciously lashed at her Goodra.

Perhaps it was the swirling Sand Stream that billowed from out of the holes that lined the Armor Pokémon’s flank, or simply the concern that her Goodra didn’t have much stamina left anyway, but for some reason, Sam forwent with a STAB attack, instead opting for another Thunderbolt. Ultimately, the move was little more effective than the Fire Blast before, the bolt striking Tasha’s tough hide with hardly a sign she’d been struck.

Clearly unconcerned with any significant retaliation, Chris smiled and announced to the enthusiastic Tyranitar, “Alright Tasha, we’re a bit late to the party, but we might as well set up some Stealth Rocks for crowd control.” Nodding in acknowledgement, the Tyranitar focused for a second, modulating its sandstorm to fire out several glistening crystalline stones that hovered in midair over the opponents side of the field before refracting themselves into invisibility. It wouldn’t do any damage just yet, but it would put a price tag on any other switching from Sam. “Good opening Tash, now let’s clear another form the deck. Get ready to dish out some sweet Payback!”

“Oh no you don’t! Goodra get back! Go Lilligant!” In a speedy switch, Sam withdrew her Goodra and exchanged the longsuffering Pokémon for a fresh contender. A florally fresh contender, with a sound type advantage which would have worried Chris a little more if Tasha hadn’t immediately unleashed the Payback she’d prepared to finish off Goodra. Between Tyranitar’s attack, the sand storm and Stealth Rock’s entry damage, the Lilligant was promptly dropped to half health in a heartbeat.

Panicked at such a major setback from onset, Sam quickly called for retaliation… and recovery. “Ah! Quick! Lilligant, use Giga Drain!” Focusing, the Flowering Pokémon concentrated on the Tyranitar across from it. Little buds of green energy flourished all across the Armor Pokémon’s craggy body, her solid stonewall Defense little match for the Grass-type’s super-effective STAB Special Attack. Bud quickly blossomed into blooms, in the process, sending a swirl of rejuvenating energy toward the Lilligant, bringing its health back up… to the Tyranitar’s detriment.

“Hah! That’s it Lilligant! You’ve got ‘em on their last legs!” Giving another wry smile toward Chris she address him directly, “Now what are you going to do?” To this, Chris kept silent, instead looking toward his Tyranitar knowingly. Wearily looking back, Tasha gave a nod, and began concentrating yet again. It was another Payback, but vastly different to the previous attempt. Before, due to Sam switching as opposed to attacking, Tasha’s Payback had summoned a paltry six or seven spheres of vengeance made manifest, unable to harbor any deep-seated ill-will toward the newcomer. This time however, with the pain of Giga Drain fresh in her memory, Tasha successfully summoned several DOZEN spheres. With a reverberating roar, she stomped forward, sending her assembled ire streaking toward the Grass Pokémon.

The onslaught peppered not only the opponent, but the surrounding ground as well, kicking up a dust cloud once more. Samantha crossed her fingers. All she needed was for her Lilligant to hang on with just a couple HP. Just enough to get in one last Giga Drain to finish the Tyranitar off and regain a bit more health to prepare her sweep tactic.

The dust was soon blown away by the billowing sandstorm, and there, hanging on with her health in the single digits, stood Sam’s Lilligant. Petal’s ragged, flower nearly wilted, the Flowering Pokémon clung to consciousness with a deep rooted tenacity. Elated Sam pumped a fist skyward in triumph. She now finally stood a chance of turning the tables…
That was until an errant wind scythed across the battlefield, sandblasting the Lilligant and chipping away at that final lifeline.

Succumbing to the stinging sand, the Lilligant didn’t so much faint as she did swoon, dramatically falling to the floor. Gritting her teeth but saying nothing, Samantha silently recalled her Lilligant, and in its stead, sent out Mienshao. As the Martial Arts Pokémon struck a fighting stance deftly fending off the barrage of Stealth Rocks, Chris noticed that it seemed to be in better health than before.


“Regenerator, eh?” Chris noted to himself. The ability could have proved problematic prior to this point, but with nearly half her team down and out, the Martial Arts Pokémon wouldn’t be so easily suited to switch in and out. Especially now that Tasha had managed to set up a round of Stealth Rocks, keeping her Pokémon in constant rotation wouldn’t be in her best interests. Chris on the other hand, had no qualms about changing his Pokémon around, and with such an unfavorable matchup for Tasha, who had scarcely a quarter of her health remaining, succinctly made the exchange to Hackenslash once more.

Hedging her bets on whether Chris would recall his Tyranitar or not, Sam had called for her Mienshao to use Drain Punch as opposed to Drain Punch. It wasn’t as risky as Hi-Jump Kick, but would still get the job done if Chris didn’t switch. Nodding in foresight as the Martial Arts Pokémon’s fist phased harmlessly through the Aegislash, Sam quickly called for a U-Turn. Racing forward, the Mienshao elegantly leapt, slammed into Hackenslash’s hastily raised half-shield, then flipped backward in a spiraling somersault, disappearing in a flash of laser-light.

While Sam readied her next Pokémon, Chris quickly called out to his own, “Alright Hack’s, let’s set up a Sub while we’ve got a minute to breathe.” Giving a theatrical hack, slash, and stab with her cutlass, the Royal Sword Pokémon once again faded herself out as she created a rudimentary replica of herself. It was immediately followed by a flash of laser light as Samantha sent out a Porygon-Z. Peppered by several crystalline stones which materialized upon its release, the Virtual Pokémon buzzed and jinked erratically before setting its sights on the opposing Aegislash. For her part, Aegislash met the glitching Porygon’s gaze with a level one of her own. Their trainers too locked eyes, Sam’s terse expression in sharp contrast to Chris’s attempt to hide a smile. He’d burned through practically half of her team without losing a single party member of his own. Despite his advantage, he tried to keep his joviality under control, he knew just how easily the tide of battle could turn. As such, he continued to play things safe and called for Hackenslash to use King’s Shield.

Perhaps predicting this and not wanting to waste a move, Sam countered with Tri-Attack. Glitching out once more as it the three avian energies manifested and merged, Thunder, Fire and Ice fused into one Normal type attack that shot would have shot straight through the Aegislash’s spectral body… if it wasn’t scattered by its shield first. Not only did the Porygon’s attack reduce the successfulness of a subsequent attempt to immediate reuse King’s Shield, but it did little to help scout the Pokémon’s move-set.

Seeming to get back onto the groove somewhat, Sam warranted a bit of a smile. “Alright Porygon-Z, let’s see if we can put the freeze on this switchblade with Ice Beam!” Jerking erratically to turn one eye to look at Sam in acknowledgement, the other remaining trained on the Aegislash. Keeping its head fixed in place, the rest of its body twisted, flickered, and distorted disconnectedly. An ice* pattern grew over the surface of its synthetic skin, shimmering in fitful bursts, before the Porygon snapped back to standard. Then, drawing itself up, drawing in the frosty pattern to a single point, focused the freezing cold into a subzero beam of energy toward the Aegislash.

The bitter arctic blast struck the sword and shield Pokémon’s simulacra straight on, but echoing its creators typeset, the attack did little to dent the Steel framework. Putting on a bit of an Australian accent, Chris smiled and said, “You call that a strike? That’s not a strike…” Fluidly unsheathing its cutlass, Hackenslash let a gleam of silver-gray light danced along the edge of its blade. Flicking the shimmering gleam up into the air, the Royal Sword Pokémon danced its blade elegantly around the light-drop as it rose, reached the peak of its arc, then, began to tumble and fall. Shining like a silver coin in freefall, its sheen was only rivaled by the wicked gleam in Hackenslash’s agate eye.

“…This, is a strike!” Reaching directly in front of her, the Aegislash drew her blade back, then trust forward seamlessly slicing the bead of light, and sending a bolt of blinding silver-white energy lancing toward the Porygon-Z. Piercing the Virtual Pokémon, the Porygon thrashed wildly as the bolt of metallic energy lanced through it. It wasn’t a one-hit knock-out, but it came close, dropping the data Pokémon down to the red in a single strike.

Realizing that her Pokémon simply would not survive another attack, Sam hastily yelled, “Porygon-Z, quick! Use Dark Pulse to break the Substitute to pieces!” Tapping into its less salubrious network connections, the Porygon-Z rapidly compiled and condensed as much malware and shock site material into a material attack, and fast-forwarded the blob of dark energy toward the Steel Ghost.

In a surprising bid of overconfidence, Chris didn’t call for King’s Shield, even in the light of this super-effective move that was even now streaking to impact his Aegislash… or rather it’s Substitute, he instead order another round from the light brigade. “Slice through the impossible and finish ‘em off with a taste of your steel!” Streaking forward sword drawn, her Substitute leading the charge, Hackenslash let the metal replica take the Dark Pulse, getting blasted to pieces in the process. But its purpose had been served, and up close and personal, the Porygon-Z had nowhere to maneuver to avoid the point blank Flash Cannon.

Glitching, twitching, then finally falling still, the Porygon-Z dissipated into raw data as retreated to its Pokéball. Despite her team suffering yet another loss, Sam didn’t seem too perturbed. Instead, she came across as being… well, almost pleased, and as she pulled out another Pokéball, elaborated on her reasons. “Now that that nuisance sword and shield’s shell is out of the way, we may just be able to make a bit of a dent in the ranks yet. Go! Gardevoir!”

A wave of nostalgia overtook Chris as Sam released the slender red, green, and white emotion Pokémon, recollecting his own long-lost Gardevoir, Specen. Shaking his head to clear the melancholy from his mind, Chris refocused on the task at hand. Sam had clearly opted for her Gardevoir over her Goodra and its Fire Blast for a reason, the only one which he could surmise, was that it was a dedicated Special Attacker with a super-effective Shadow Ball with Hackenslash’s name all over it. Well, it that was the case, then he had a switch in that was right up the Embrace Pokémon’s alley.

…but before that, there wasn’t any harm in scouting things with King’s Shield.

Confidently calling for the move, Hack’s swung her cutlass in a wide over arc before sheathing it alongside her shield, assembling the hexagonal energy barrier to defend against any assault.

Unfortunately, Sam had grown hip to his tricks, and opted out of an assault, ordering her Gardevoir to bypass the barrier by using Hypnosis. Her cat-eye gem falling to half mast, then rousing only to close completely, Hackenslash dozed off, soundly succumbing to somnolence.

As the Aegislash fell asleep, Sam rose to jubilation, seeing an opportunity to finally turn the tides. “Yes! Excellent work Gardevoir! Now, let’s follow things up with Psychic, see if we can start to etch away at that Special Defense as well!” It was another unconventional move, yes Gardevoir got STAB on Psychic attacks, but that wouldn’t do much to offset the type disadvantage Psychic had against Steel. Even so, Sam’s Gardevoir committed to the attack, and pulsing Hack’s senses with a psychic blast, knocked off a solid chunk of the Royal Sword Pokémon’s HP.

It was a clear sign that the Embrace Pokémon had indeed been geared toward quickly disabling the opponent with Hypnosis then hastily following up with a no holds barred barrage. Still in shield stance, Hack’s could handle a few more attacks of that caliber no sweat, but if Sam got the drop on her Special Defense or switched to something with a bit more effectiveness, that timeline would be hastily moved up. Cupping his hands around his mouth, Chris tried calling Hackenslash from out of her sleep, instructing her to wake up and use Flash Cannon to finish the fragile speedster in a single strike, but the Aegislash was in too deep. “Looks like your Aegislash is really out of it eh?” Sam crowed triumphantly toward Chris, “I wonder if she’s having a nice dream…”

The way she trailed off with that last statement clued Chris into what was coming next, and in desperation called toward Hackenslash again, “Come on Hack’s!” He clapped his hands together sharply, trying to wake the Royal Sword Pokémon, “Get your act together, this is no time to catch some Z’s!” But it was to no avail, the Aegislash was totally out of it.

“Oh well, you snooze you lose! Gardevoir, let’s take a taste of what a haunted relic’s dreams taste like with Dream Eater!” With a wink and a spin, the Gardevoir cupped its glowing hands around its mouth, but instead of yelling, inhaled deeply. From Hackenslash, a wavering trail of phantom imagery emanated. Stretched and squashed, it flowed through the air like smoke rejuvenating the Gardevoir to full health in the process. Now nearly down a quarter health, some subconscious command got through to the Aegislash and began absorbing nutrients from the scraps of Leftovers it held.

Pleased with the surprising effectiveness of what was otherwise a not very effective move, Samantha called for an encore. Not the move Encore but rather a repeat of Dream Eater. Stronger than Psychic, the raw power the attack possessed was enough to mitigate the Aegislash’s Steel-typing, and to a degree, even its paramount defenses. As such, Chris wasn’t going to risk another turn of Hackenslash sleeping through a beating, and promptly pulled out another Premier Ball.

Swiftly recalling Hack’s, he released his Pokémon into the fray. The flash of laser light was accompanied by a downright psychotic screech of glee. Facehugger, Chris’s Gliscor energetically flew from its Pokéball and gave a leisurely orbital loop before hovering in the air before its trainer. Having already called for a Dream Eater, the Gardevoir dutifully followed through on its trainers command, but the move failed to click against the ‘emphatically’ wide awake Gliscor.

Hastily backpedaling on her orders, Sam decided to start from square one with tackling the newcomer. “Alright Gardevoir, let’s start things off with another Hypnosis! Then we can pick up where we left off…” Cupping its hands in front of its chest spike, the Gardevoir, centered its mind’s eye on the Fang Scorpion Pokémon, sending a hypnotic frequency towards the Gliscor to try and coax it to sleep. Yet despite the move soundly reverberating through Facehugger’s form, the Gliscor closed its eyes for only a second, giving a slow shiver of delight before opening its eyes accompanied by a maniacal grin. “Wha- but how?” Sam asked in bewilderment.

With a smile almost as wide as his Pokémon’s, Chris craftily asked his Gliscor, “Do you think I should tell her? Or let her find out on her own?” Flapping its arms, the Facehugger rose a few feet in the air, cackling maniacally as she/he did so. “Figure it out it is. Then in that case, why don’t you take this opportunity to do a little dance number?” Giving another shrill snicker, the Gliscor floated up, drifted left, then right, the spun, summoning several spectral swords with surrounded it for only a second before sinking beneath its skin. As a result, the Fang Scorpion Pokémon’s muscles bulged outward dramatically, granting Sam her answer as to why her Gardevoir’s attempt to put the Gliscor to sleep with Hypnosis failed.

Across the surface of Facehugger’s muscles, a network of deep purple pulsed and throbbed. The Pokémon had been poisoned, badly poisoned at that. Yet despite its status condition, the Gliscor seemed no worse for the wear when it came to its overall health. With one mystery solved only to be replaced by another, Sam opted for an alternate avenue of attack, and called for her Gardevoir to use Draining Kiss.

Floating forward with featherlight steps, the Embrace Pokémon did just that. And taking Facehugger’s head in its hands, initiated a downright sensual kiss. For his/her part, Facehugger was floored, waving her claws to either side of his/her body dramatically for several moments before calming some as the Gardevoir began to absorb some of his/her life-force as well. In fact, the siphoning smooch probably went on longer than it should of if only due to both Facehugger… and Chris’s entrancement with the embrace. It was only due to Gardevoir’s mounting disinterest and that fact that it had reached its own maximum health.

For a second neither Pokémon nor trainer made motion to counter, Facehugger even giggling a little. Soon its inherent joviality took over turning its giggles into outright cackling. “Alright Facehugger, that’s enough of that…” but the Gliscor wasn’t listening, too caught up in its giddiness to pay its trainer any heed. A little sterner, Chris tried again, “Come on Facehugger, reign it in.” Still, it was to no avail, the giggling Gliscor doubled over, clutching its belly, somersaulting in midair as a result. “Facehugger! Knock it off!” In an instant the Gliscor was not only upright, but streaking forward toward the opposing Gardevoir. Raising a claw, it spun itself into a continuous corkscrew twist, barging into the Embrace Pokémon with a barrel roll to deliver a devastating Knock Off. Backed by the strength of Swords Dance it send both Pokémon and its held Leftover’s flying, striking a critical point and securing a flawless OHKO.

Soaring upward in a leisurely shuttle loop, laughing maniacally all the way, the Gliscor came to rest, hovering placidly in front of its trainer. Samantha was speechless. Sure, Gardevoir’s weren’t the most strapping of Pokémon, but to get dropped from one-hundred to nothing in an instant was a bit much to comprehend. Mindlessly and wordlessly, she pulled out another Pokéball and released her Goodra. Even as the Stealth Rock materialized to pelt the gooey Dragon Pokémon, she said nothing. The realization of what was about to occur outweighed all other thoughts.

Coming to her senses slightly, Sam weighed her options and called for a Fire Blast. Nodding, the Dragon Pokémon’s neck began to glow as it began to build the temperature in its gullet… but Chris had other plans. “No-no Gliscor, let’s not have any retaliation, what say we nip this one in the bud before they pose a proper problem?” Nodding, the Gliscor smiled, and with a laugh, sent itself spinning wildly toward the Goodra. True to its name, Facehugger latched on to the Goodra’s, clamping its claws and tail around the Dragon and pressed its wide and wild smile right up against its opponents. Cheeks beginning to bulge from the bottled up blast, the Goodra looked up over the top of its Wise Glasses at the Gliscor in ire… and then realizing that its maniacal grin was legitimate, immediately turned to dread.

Fortunately, Facehugger had its orders, and while an inadvertent explosion by misfired Fire Blast would have been neat to see, unclamped one claw, letting the impending inferno vent harmlessly out of the side of the Dragon’s mouth. Flames subsided; the Gliscor gave a grin and fluidly back-flipped, landing a solid uppercut with its tail, knocking both held item and Pokémon for a loop, assuring yet another KO. “Five Pokémon down, one left to go… Will there be a comeback, or shall this end six-oh?”

This little singsong limerick sparked a flame of fury in Sam, who glared at Chris and flung out her final Pokémon, her Mienshao. Expertly fending off the bulk of the belligerent Stealth Rock’s, it’s Regenerator Ability had it at nearly max health itself. Between its practically capped health and its type resistance to Knock Off, Sam saw no way for a repeat performance of the one hit knock out her Gardevoir had suffered earlier. “Okay Mienshao, let’s rock their socks off with Stone Edge!”

Nodding, the Martial Arts Pokémon turned from Sam to face it’s opponent, concentrated intensely for a moment, then in a fluid whirl, gave a powerful stomp dislodging a jagged boulder, sending it airborne, and with a simple palm strike, sent it streaking forward to stab the Gliscor in the solar plexus. While not a Critical Hit, it mattered little as the attack knocked out nearly a third of the Fang Scorpion Pokémon’s health. Giving a wheezing giggle, the Gliscor turned to its own trainer, veins of purple bulging around its muscles. “They want to play it that way, eh? Well let’s see their sock rocker and raise them a quake maker…”

Catching its breath, the Gliscor gave a shrill screech of laughter as it gave a flap and took off skywards. Ascent slowing as it angled its incline higher and higher, the Fang Scorpion progress finally stalled and began to slip earthward once more. But this was no uncontrolled descent. Adroitly spinning itself around in midair, Facehugger barreled downwards, enthusiastically adding a roll to its maneuver, contrails forming from every point of its body. Then, just before crash-landing, the Gliscor flipped and slammed its tail powerfully into the ground, causing the earth to violently splinter and crack, overwhelming the Mienshao’s expert reflexes with the sheer magnitude of the strike force.

Battered back and forth between the upheaved boulders, the Mienshao found itself pounded and pulverized down to a pulp. Tremors quelling after several agonizing seconds, the Martial Arts Pokémon stood only to fall faint. Less a master of martial arts than a modern installation Sam disconsolately recalled the Mienshao, sulking at Chris’s wide smile. As he opened his mouth, most likely to say something glib, probably along the lines of, ‘That rocked your world enough?’ or ‘Now that’s what I call a shakedown!’ Sam simply held up a finger for silence.

“You… won. This time.” She begrudgingly admitted, “But know this; my team today was nowhere near top notch, so don’t think it any major accomplishment that you managed to win so…” She paused, unwilling to say it. Figuring she was simply at a loss for words at having her entire team trumped by three members of his own, Chris helpfully interjected, “Thoroughly? Soundly? Absolutely? Definitively? I can go on you know.” Gritting her teeth into a grimace, she waved him away, “Yes… that...” she admitted noncommittally. “Anyway, next time, I’m going to bring my A-game and take you to pieces. Mark my words.”

Shrugging with a smile, Chris recalled his Gliscor and nodded. “Then I await that day with bated breath.” Trite as it sounded, it was a statement of genuine anticipation; as much fun as it was to steamroll an overconfident opponent, there was nothing like the thrill of a hard fought back and forth battle. Giving a curt nod in due respect, Chris bid his farewell to which Sam responded with one of her own. At that, the two trainers parted ways, to train both their skills and their Pokémon, for next time.
It had been several minutes since Lynn padded out of the building and set out over the moonlit scrubland. Back in the warehouse there was a subtle movement in the rafters above the roller doors. It wasn’t anything visible, but not quite invisible either, instead it was the almost imperceptible indication of... something... steadily making its way down the pillar on the far side of the truck. It looked, almost, but not exactly, like the surroundings behind it, and if one were paying VERY careful attention, they’d notice the slightest of discrepancies along the outline of whatever it was. Reaching the ground, it jerkily made its way over to Gerard’s unconscious form, and ‘tsking’ under its breath, shook it’s head as it dispelled the intricate pattern that cloaked it.

It was another therianthrope, and was of strikingly similar appearance to the gecko earlier. Both in terms of attire, wearing a similar lab coat, albeit of a higher quality and silvery-white sheen, and in attributes, slight of frame with next to no muscle definition. Where it differed though was in its hands, which instead of splayed flattened fingers it possessed stout claws for grasping, and in its face, where three keratin horns protruded, one from the tip of its nose, and above each eyebrow cresting two bulbous eyes that aimed pinpoint pupils in conflicting directions.

A Jackson’s chameleon.

Making a slow circuit of the facility, he silently surveyed the situation, taking meticulous mental notes and fragmentally piecing everything together. Not that he’d needed to, he’d been present from the start. Putting himself in every vantage point, he pointed his omniscopic eyes around the open room before finally coming to a conclusion.

Pulling out a smartphone of his own, he shifted just enough for it to register his human thumbprint before resorting back to full bimorph. One could never be too careful, as the evening’s Charlie Foxtrot of a catastrophe showed. It was a moderate comfort to see that the spyware he’d installed on Lynn’s phone was active and tracking, but the several missed calls played havoc with his anxiety.

Sighing, he decided to bite the bullet and dialed. It didn’t take a second for the call to connect. Momentarily leaning away from the phone at the incised hissing from the other party, he gave a sigh, and in a cool, almost gravelly voice said, “Yeah, we’ve got a problem…” Directing one eye down as he prodded the unconscious ‘G’ with his foot, and the other up toward the heavily tranquilized Gerard, he sighed to himself once more. To call it a ‘problem’ was an understatement. Placing a fist against his forehead to dispel the exasperation, he focused both eyes out toward the open door and continued, now wearing an insidious smile, “But also, perhaps a potential contender...”
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Epilogue)
Drugged and abducted, a young lycanthropic woman finds herself in the clutches of an underground criminal organization where she must fight her way to freedom.
First Previous
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Letting loose a baleful howl that bypassed all reason and triggered a heretofore forgotten area of Gerard’s brain. Not the reptilian portion, but rather the human within. It was a sound that hotwired synapses that hadn’t heard anything like it since the dawn of man. Memories that weren’t so much carved into stone, than engraved into the bedrock. It was a howl that began at the back of her throat, and if Gerard wasn’t careful, would end up around his.

Suitably unnerved, Lynn padded to all fours as she shifted to a completely wolf form. It took two seconds worth of acceleration to close the gap between them, and then, she lunged. The situations urgency ratcheted his adrenaline to breakneck speed, his heart-rate thundering out of control. Near frozen between the two sides of his fight or flight response, Gerard stopped thinking, and balling his fists, reacted.

Now it was Lynn’s turn to get slammed against the building, hitting the heavy roller doors and collapsing onto the ground. Holding nothing back, Gerard had unleashed a devastating haymaker that would have ultimately decimated Lynn had she still been stuck in her human form. The wolf was soundly more resilient, but it was clear to Gerard that even she couldn’t withstand such a powerful point blank punch. It certainly wasn’t something she could so easily walk away from, and fluidly reverting to human she staggeringly tried, and failed, to pick herself up.

This was the opening Gerard had been waiting for and made a mad dash toward her, his heavy legs powering forward. Human and helpless, Lynn was cornered giving him the leeway of smashing his full body against hers, and pancake her against the roller doors. Even if it was a ploy and she dodged to the side at the last minute, he could just brake and redirect his momentum from collision to tackle her to the floor.

And there it was, even in the midst of his charge he saw her deliberately place a hand against the ground, ready to leap. But he wasn’t about to let her dodge-roll out of harm’s way this time, he was through with playing cat and mouse, especially with the fact that she’d regained her lupine and bimorphic forms.

Gerard had accounted for everything. Everything save Lynn charging toward him. Her earlier shift from wolf to human should have been a clue as she now smoothly reversed the change and barreled into his legs.

Momentum carrying him forward with no way to stop, Gerard crashed headfirst into the heavy roller door. Unlike his slapstick earlier, this time the impact was legitimate. Crumpling feebly onto the floor, Gerard lay motionless, dazed and disorientated, but not quite comatose.

Though wanting nothing more than to savor the moment, Lynn knew she had to act fast. Dipping into the van that had brought her to this forsaken warehouse, she gingerly grabbed the three blue-tufted darts that had fallen to the floor earlier and notched them between her fingers.

Stepping back out she cautiously approached Gerard, she needn’t have thought, the impact had knocked him near senseless, and his eye rolled lazily in its socket as he struggled to get his bearings. Straddling his back, Lynn reached over his head and gripped the underside of his jaw pulling it up. She’d seen on a nature documentary that while alligators and crocodiles had an impressive bite force, a mere rubber-band was strong enough to keep them shut. She hoped that concept worked the same for all reptiles else she was in for a wild ride…

Darts notched between her knuckles, Lynn shifted partway to her bimorphic form, keeping her human dexterity but incorporated the wolf’s sensory suite, particularly the segment that was fine-tuned for finding major arteries. Then, with slightly less than surgical precision, she jabbed her fist into the sensitive spot where Gerard’s scales were thinnest, stabbing the tips all three needles into him.

The effects were near instantaneous. Flinching at the triplex of hypodermic pricks, Gerard made motion to try flinging Lynn from off of him and turned his head enough to train an eye on her and for a split-second, froze, focusing in on her gaze of intense determination, “Heh…” he managed to make out before his eyelids fluttered and fell, unconsciousness overcoming him.

Scales dissolving into skin, Gerard’s form rapidly shrunk as he reverted to his human form. Breathing a sigh of relief, Lynn dismounted, stood, and for the first time, took a moment to survey herself. Due to being naturally lithe, both as a human and as a lycanthrope, she’d suffered minimal clothing damage. A little tattered, but not to the point that she couldn’t rock it. She had the legs for it after all. Her sneakers were a total write-off though; the way her feet shifted to paws always ended up busting the stitches between the sole and the rest of the shoe. Well she could find footwear at a later juncture, at the moment she had more pressing matters to attend to.

Grabbing Gerard’s limp arm, she bodily dragged the unconscious man over to the handprint recognition pad and placed his palm against it. On contact, the screen lit up and a bright green line slowly scanned up and down. For a second nothing happened, and Lynn wondered if he’d been lying about how to get out, but a chime from the machine absolved her fears as an animated padlock icon appeared on the screen and displayed itself unlocking.

Dropping Gerard’s hand, Lynn quickly went over to the controls for the roller doors and activated them. With a ponderous groaning, they slowly began to rise.

Still too soon to breathe a sigh of relief, but feeling the adrenaline rush fading, Lynn hurriedly went back to the van to collect the rest of her belongings. The small purse she’d taken to the mall earlier had been absolutely ransacked; no doubt by the two guards when they’d first abducted her. Thrown to the side, its contents scattered over the floor of the van, Lynn rummaged around making sure to secure the most personal of her possessions; I.D, wallet, cosmetics, and most importantly, her cellphone.

Stuffing everything else inside her bag, she flipped open the phone. Still a good amount of battery time left but no bars. No matter. Lynn’s turned her head to look out into the night, perking her ears and sniffing. The warehouse was in an extremely remote area, but civilization was never too far, not when you were born and raised for long distance running.

Taking a couple seconds to snap a few pics of the warehouse, van, guards, and lab equipment, Lynn sighed and slipped the phone back into her back. With none of the participants in their respective therianthropic forms, there wasn’t anything conclusive to show to the police that she’d been abducted, not without exposing herself. Even so, she could at least send a copy to Tiff once she got back to society. She’d call her as soon as she got a signal on her cell and ask her to come pick her up from wherever she ended up.

With one final look around, Lynn fluidly shifted to a full wolf form, the material of her shirt and shorts stretching enough to accommodate her lupine form. In addition to her regular clothes, she had several articles like this that had dual utility. She’d been fortunate that she’d just so happened to choose them this morning before she set out. Picking up her purse in her mouth, she set out, her keen animal senses telling her the fastest way back to civilization.
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 10)
Drugged and abducted, a young lycanthropic woman finds herself in the clutches of an underground criminal organization where she must fight her way to freedom.
First Previous End
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Back inside the van, Lynn had realized that her biggest handicap wasn’t due to being stuck in her human form, but that she didn’t have access to her lupine one. It’s didn’t make much sense semantically, but in her soul she knew what was wrong, for several disorientating minutes, her personalities, human and wolf, had been split. But now she was back together and it felt… so good.

Unable to help but smile at the sensation of being whole once more, Lynn grinned toward Gerard, adding a hint of viciousness to let him know that the kid gloves were off. To his credit, the man didn’t shy away from the threat display, and in response puffed up his ‘beard’ like a pincushion.

Getting down onto all fours Lynn let her hackles rise, setting on edge the usually smooth tufts of hair that ran down her back and over her shoulders. Growl growing louder, she slowly circled the bearded dragon, then with a snarl, charged forward. With a husky hiss of his own, Gerard got down and dashed forward to clash with her in the middle of the floor. As opposed to before, where Lynn was solidly outclassed, the two were almost on par strength wise. With his ‘beard’ fully inflated, Lynn couldn’t find anywhere to safely grip him with her bone-crushing jaws. At the same time, Gerard had to keep his mouth shut lest he let his defensive ruff deflate. This resulted in a stalemate of sorts as the two were relegated to wrapping their arms around one another in a shove contest.

Yet despite her regained stature, Lynn’s strength still came up short and she found herself steadily getting pushed back. Gerard’s intense musculature as a man, amplified while in were form, was more than enough to trump the advantages of being a natural werewolf.

Speed was something altogether different however, as Gerard quickly found out when Lynn released their lockup and dropped in one fluid movement, then before he could react, braced herself and soundly shoulder tackled the man. Yet instead of taking him down Lynn barreled forwards, lifting him up and off the ground, charging forward to smash his back into the thick supporting column.

Gerard gave an audible grunt at the impact, due in equal parts to agony as to astonishment. He’d never once thought that the lean and lithe werewolf would have the strength to not only lift him, but slam him up against the warehouse pillar with enough force to actually hurt him. A raspy hiss rising from his throat, Gerard clasped his hands together, and brought both fists down on Lynn’s arched back full force.

The effect wasn’t nearly as effective as he’d hoped, and while it did get Lynn to release her grip, instead of backing off, she gripped his shoulders and pulled him down to bury a knee right into his gut, causing him to keel forward, his less resilient underbelly scales unable to withstand the impact. Made to forcefully exhale, Gerard had just enough presence of mind to keep his head up, one eye open as he winced, and managed to raise his hands to catch the wolf’s maw aimed straight for his exposed jugular.

Already somewhat winded from the shot to his stomach, it took all he had to stop Lynn’s jaws from closing completely. He didn’t know the specific PSI, but he knew that should she manage to clamp down completely, his hand would no longer have any fingers. Not keen on testing the extent of the renowned autotomy and limb regeneration of reptilian anatomy, Gerard began to get to his feet, and was promptly sent back to his knees courtesy a well-placed kick between his legs.

Long-touted as the great equalizer between the sexes, to Gerard’s great relief, painful as the blow was, reptiles possessed interior anatomy, drastically reducing its effectiveness. Sensing this, Lynn instead resorted to clawing at the bearded-dragon’s burly arms to try and weaken his grip.

Fed up with fighting on the defensive, especially against one whom he’d pegged as his inferior, Gerard mustered up his strength to shove Lynn backward, giving himself a modicum of maneuverability. Fortunately for him, Lynn didn’t immediately press her advantage giving him a moment to assess himself. Offhandedly glancing at his hands, he gripped and flexed them experimentally. Where her teeth had pierced his scales were stains of dark red blood, but the gashes where he’d bled from had already healed. He flexed again; though still painful, the wound was more or less gone. “Ah, the perks of therianthropy…” he mused sarcastically.

Save for the occasional growl, Lynn had kept quiet. She’d already reached the conclusion that Gerard would invariably come to; this wasn’t a battle of attrition, but a stalemate in his favor. Neither could land a deciding blow on the other, Lynn still not strong enough to overcome his resistance, yet now resistant enough herself to withstand his assaults. It wasn’t her stamina that she was worried about either; wolves were the ultimate long-distance hunter. She had no doubt that if this was a battle to fatigue, she’d soundly outlast Gerard. Unfortunately for Lynn, there was an invisible countdown timer that was steadily whittling away at her chances for escape.

So long as he could stall for long enough, those of the group that she’d incapacitated would eventually come to, turning things into a numbers game. The non-combatant gecko scientist aside, Lynn knew that she couldn’t handle taking on ‘G’ and Gerard if they coordinated their attacks. Not to mention the four guards rushing in to dog-pile her… especially if they were ‘Artificial’s’ as well. As they’d revert to human when unconscious she didn’t know whether they were therianthropes or not, but either way they were well-equipped with an assortment of weapons to deal with unruly specimens.

And at that thought, a plan fell perfectly into place.
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 9)
Drugged and abducted, a young lycanthropic woman finds herself in the clutches of an underground criminal organization where she must fight her way to freedom.
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Making a show of clutching her bruised rib-cage, she pretended to reach around the table for some sort of weapon. It was an unconventional approach, one that would irrevocably escalate things if she actually tried to face him down while armed. Up until now, things had been lighthearted, a bit of predator vs. prey role-play before the inevitable, but she knew that Gerard would quit playing around and put her down for good.

She needed to get back to the van, and right now, the only way there was through Gerard.

Or perhaps, not necessarily ‘through’…

Giving up looking for a weapon, Lynn instead braced her hand on the edge of the table. Gerard who’s steady approach turned cautious as he realized that she was looking for a weapon, relaxed once more. “Heh, what’s up pup? All out of tricks?” Unarmed, injured, and backed up against the heavy metal table, the advantage was all in his favor. Shoulders squared, he took on a wide swaggering gait as he drew closer. It was just what Lynn was looking for.

‘Just a few more steps…’ Lynn said inwardly, calculating the distance between them. She tried to keep her emotions under wraps, but her mental state was near totally split and her facial expression gave Gerard reason to pause.

“Hmm…” Cocking his head to the side, Gerard mused in suspicion. “Heh, you look like you’ve an ace up your sleeve little lady.” His mouth slowly split into a grin, “Sorry to say though, but whatever you’ve planned probably ain’t gonna work on me sweet cheeks.”

It was a flagrant attempt to bust her bubble and make her give in, but despite the growing ire of her inner wolf, she refused to be baited so easily. ‘One step more…’A maelstrom of emotion hurtling within, Lynn’s reaction time was wired to a hair trigger response. Though still cautious, after looking her over and seeing her as being of no threat, Gerard took another step forward. ‘Now!’ Adrenaline flooded her body, the split-second delay from before replaced with a fuse that had frayed to the point of erraticism.

Charging forward, she took Gerard by surprise who curbed the reflexive response to step back at seeing what in his animal mind’s eye amounted to an enraged apex predator bounding toward him. Yet Lynn wasn’t on the attack, an in one fluid movement, dove headfirst between the man's legs, slipping under him and scrambling on all fours beneath his tail before rising to a runners mark and taking off in full stride.

This was it! The exhilaration she’d craved ever since starting. A real life or death situation that had her heart racing and pulse pounding. Not in fear, but excitement. She didn’t dare look behind her as she sprinted toward the van, knowing that Gerard would be in hot pursuit. But no matter how fast he may have been, even as a were-person, Lynn’s confidence in her fleet-footed fifty yard dash was steadfast.

As she neared the van, Lynn kicked off the ground, Gerard literally at her heels. She then brought one leg up, and redirecting her midair momentum as she reached the roller door, propelled herself into the still open rear doors of the van, crashing on top of the two still unconscious guards. Outside, she heard Gerard scrambling to right himself, but didn’t bother to try shutting the door on him. He could probably rip it from the hinges in any case. Instead, she busied herself with the guard’s firearms.

She checked the heavy-set, older man first. Unfamiliar with the structure of the rifle, she tapped into the limited amounts of enhanced strength her human form held, forcibly breaking the gun to pieces. A full clip of three darts with blue tufts fell from it. Dropping the pieces, she grabbed for the thinner, younger man’s black revolver, just as Gerard pulled himself into the doorway.

In a split-second Gerard surveyed the situation, processed the scene mentally, and acted, pulling the van door from off its hinges and bunkering behind it like a shield. It was based on seeing Lynn crouched over one of the guards, grabbing a pistol, and wisely checking the ammunition. She was clearly intending to use it as a weapon, which was both right and wrong.

Backing off behind the heavy metal door, Gerard reflexively flinched as heard the pistol go off. He hadn’t been shot, so what was that, a test-fire perhaps? Warily he peeked an eye around the edge of the frame and couldn’t help but laugh, “Heh, a fighter to the end.” Throwing the door to one side and placing a hand on his shoulder, he rolled his arm in a slow loop; ready to rumble with the werewolf that stepped from behind the vehicle.
Nature Gray: Grave Contrast (Chapter 8)
Drugged and abducted, a young lycanthropic woman finds herself in the clutches of an underground criminal organization where she must fight her way to freedom.
First Previous Next
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deviantID

IronDino
Christopher Smith
Bermuda
Current Residence: Bermuda
Favourite genre of music: Everything
Favourite photographer: Lee Finch
Favourite style of art: What?
Operating System: Windows (May get a Mac)
MP3 player of choice: iTunes
Shell of choice: N/A
Wallpaper of choice: N/A
Skin of choice: Um, I'm caramel/chocolate colored...
Favourite cartoon character: N/A
Personal Quote: N/A
Interests
...I think the problem is that I don't improve with practice, if anything I get worse. I make an attempt at writing. The reviews are mostly unfavorable. So I try again, double the hours I pour into a work, more sources, more advice, refer to other works, leave it, come back, and when I finally finish... the reviews are predominantly unfavorable. What should I take from this? I mean other than the fact that my creative process is inherently flawed.

And what's sad is that I've had to lower the bar for myself. I'm not as good as other people. I understand this. I accept this. I'll never write as well as such-and-such or draw as well as whats-her-face. They've worked hard to be where they are. But what I want to to be able to get an idea from my head onto paper without too great a loss in quality in the process. This, I cannot do. And so now, the best that I can strive for is getting excited that my results are, oh let's say, 40% as good as I envisioned. That's not a passing mark.

It sort of makes me want to give up not only creating, but anything that inspires me to create. Movies, video games, television, reading.

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DaigaijinTOASTERCAT Featured By Owner May 24, 2018  Professional Traditional Artist
IronDino, thank you for your watch and enjoy FFC!
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CrazyStupot Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks for watching!
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HangedGlory Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2017   General Artist
Hello ^^
Thank you very much!
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Jero990 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2016
thanks for watch
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Thank you for the watch!
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technochroma Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2016  Professional General Artist
Thank you for all the favs and the watch! :hug:
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Selene-89 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016
Thanks for the fave! ^^
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fradarlin Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
thanks for the fav! :D
Hulk Avengers: the ege of Ultron by fradarlin  
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Dawgit Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2016
Thanks for the fave and watch :D (Big Grin) 
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Disse86 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2016
Thanks for watching! :)
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