DOUBT "We have the sword we have each other but most importantly we have hope." "Do we?" --Cheetara and Lion-O (Song of the Petalars) The woods are quiet, but not unnaturally so, there still sounds the calls of birds and owls and frogs and crickets making their music as he slinks along tree to tree breathing in the heavy scent of sap and pine nuts. His claws, both upon his hands and feet, find easy purchase on the bark of the redwoods and he moves along soundless and swift even springing lightly onto another tree limb at a crouch. The limb groans a bit at the heavy cat's weight and he continues on slower as it narrows and he must spring again. The striped cat is close to fifty feet up but it's of little concern he's fallen from worse heights and this one he's certain he can control to some extent without injury should his balance be compromised. His prey snaps its head round to the whistle of a branch he has disturbed but Tygra has already stilled and the color blind bird does not notice his dark eyes flash yellow in the night of the moon beaming through the trees. The eaglon ruffles his ebony feathers before going back to preening. Tygra would guess the bird to be at least sixty pounds, a large enough catch for everyone that the camp to eat well for the night if he could secure the catch. Eaglons were not easily caught off-guard and this particular one Tygra had been trailing for a good hour was particularly paranoid, with the bird fluttering higher and further with its sense of danger every time the tiger got close. He was doing this the hard way, slinking about through trees to catch their dinner, he did have a whip and some kind of energy blaster but he can't bring himself to use either to assist in the hunt it just doesn't seem sporting. Besides he hasn't forgotten the pride in his father's eyes in declaring Tygra the best natural hunter he'd ever seen when the king had taught him the finer points in grueling survival conditions long ago when he was just a spindly cub, he intends to honor his proud title tonight. He didn't know about the others but hunting the way of Cats did in old and forgotten times was thrilling and seemed to satisfy a baser instinct he was having a bit of trouble ignoring on nights like tonight. Somewhere just a mile off two cubs were splashing around at the water's edge of a river their camp rested on squabbling about nonsensical things that made perfect sense when hunger and fatigue gnaws at the belly. There was no fish to be found today at the stream, spooked with the washing of gritty clothing and bodies. Perhaps even overfished as he had easily pulled in every fat trout, salmon and cod that swam into his claws, the kittens wolfing down nearly double what the adult cats did. He had volunteered to find food again tonight after watching the kits try their own hand at it, only to end up drenched and freezing for their trouble, they had nearly forgotten kits could not often tolerate empty bellies the way grown Cats could. Their resident cleric had volunteered to come along but he had no wish to hunt with another cat, even her. Or perhaps especially her. He's not certain his decline of her invite is due to an instinctive solitary hunter mentality or some need to be elsewhere as she and Lion-O sat together by their fire. They had looked entirely too cozy together hours before, she trying vainly to spark a flint and Lion-O kneeling there just over her shoulder offering suggestions. They had not asked his help in the task nor noticed him there at the edge of the trees, the ease of their close proximity noted and his acknowledgement of jealousy doing nothing to stop him from feeling its sting. "Unbelievable, not even a spark," Lion-O complained eyeing the flint suspiciously, he gives her a lopsided grin, "maybe it's broken." The cleric's mouth twitches in amusement at his joke. "Perhaps Tygra will have more luck in setting the fire when he returns." "Of course he would, it's not like there's anything he can't do." It's a grumbled statement colored with envy but Tygra can't even manage to gloat inwardly. Cheetara smiles a full smile this time and it seems all too secretive. "I'm sure together we too can build a fire," she vows. This time as she worked the flint it sparks weakly and Cheetara pushes away at her long blonde tresses in an uncharacteristic show of annoyance before clacking away at the flint again revealing her long swan-like throat and the swell of her pulse. A flame of heat jolted him at the unexpected exposure. It's clearly unintentional but damning to his senses that are nearly snapped nonetheless. He's already edgy whenever he happens upon those two and has to fight the need to drive Lion-O away from this beautiful she-cat who's stolen his heart and instantly he's battling the want to set his teeth into her pulse, seize her in a mating grip and just claim her already. It's a savage forbidding thought that he immediately dismisses. Tygra's thoughts are broken as the bird abruptly hops to a lower perch picking at a knob of bark and Tygra shifts coming around the enormous trunk to descend down a few feet until he's standing just under the animal easily balancing on a long stretch of tree limb, the sharp eyed bird still picking at the rotting wood. He's wasting time but he does not move to seize his prey, clearly just as distracted as the predator, it snaps up a beetle before pecking again at the trunk of his tree. He hadn't missed the way the lion's nostrils flared with the scent of her pulse so close to his nose and he announced his presence quickly before he did something stupid like attack his "king". "See you got a fire going." They had both startled as though caught like naughty cubs. "Of course as if we couldn't manage," Lion-O says. "I'm impressed you've never been able to light so much as a well oiled lantern before." Its a mean-spirited dig that slips from his tongue before he knows it and he's not sorry especially when he thinks of that overeager smile his little brother wears around Cheetara. It's effective the cheer on Lion-O's face effectly souring as his blue eyes cut at Tygra's smirk. "Of course we can't all be you." "You'll get there someday little brother," he mocks. "Anyhow since Cheetara's done all the work for you maybe you can gather some firewood." Lion-O nearly bristles, but replies relatively calm, "oh yeah? And what exactly is stopping you from doing anything?" Tygra yawns in a show of disinterest and boredom, "I'll be hunting, we may be okay for the night without food but those kits look ravenous, best find something before they consume each other." Cheetara stands smoothing over her clothes, "We'll be much more successful together in a paired hunt than seperate." Tygra shakes his head, "It's alright I'm more of a solitary kind of hunter, best stay and protect our camp." He winks at her, "besides who's going to stop Lion-O from burning it down if either of us aren't here?" Now Lion-O looks about ready to rip his head off and Tygra feels somewhat better. He's stirring his mind again of the incident of his sea sickness and with it Cheetara's strange attentions. Had she meant her affectionate hands? Her tender care? Or had she temporary forgotten he wasn't a red-maned lion whom those feelings were meant for? Yes. Clearly that was it. Tygra doesn't feel any more clear minded than before but it's late and past time for him to return to camp. He shifts his claws and watches just for a few more moments to be sure he hasn't been spotted. Gotcha. This time the crackle of the tree branch is loud as Tygra springs off of it and the squall of the ill-fated bird is cut short when the tiger's weight slams into it, the force of the blow breaking the bird's fragile neck before they hit the ground. He ascends back up the tree after securing his quarry to a sling returning to camp in time to see the others observing the whirling mechs trampling through the forest. Dinner is forgotten when he joins the others at the treetop.