Yes... more, more, more! This week's flash was inspired by two prompts again: "Oh, get a grip, I'm not that bad." and "I thought I knew you!" Of course, if you're inspired by prompts or the way the group uses them... consider joining us! Send me an email or use my contact me area to get more info. We can always use more flashers! ;)
Lost Inside Chapter 37
The crowded Tigers bent in a wave of moving bodies, like saplings before a strong wind. Here and there, one hesitated, until a single Tiger still stood. Benny eyed him. Some of the Tigers he’d grown up with were gone, including his family, and there were a lot of strangers he didn’t recognize. He’d met many of Yuri’s clan when they merged with his, but he didn’t recognize the massive Tiger staring at the body sprawled at Benny’s feet.
“Are you challenging me?” Benny laid his ears back and bared his fangs. He didn’t want to fight, but damned if would stand by and let anyone else run the Clan pick right back up where Sheshtun left off, terrorizing the others.
The Tiger didn’t reply. He didn’t even look up.
Benny snarled and stepped in front of the corpse. “Are you challenging me?” he repeated.
“What? No!” The large Tiger would’ve fallen when he stumbled back if a smaller man hadn’t jumped up and steadied him. Benny was startled to see tears shimmering in the light when he tore his gaze from Sheshtun. His hands shook as he lifted them up, his claws retracted. “Just… he….” His breath hitched.
“He’s really dead?” the other man standing asked. His voice was soft as he hid partially hidden, his arms wrapped around himself.
Couldn’t they see the bastard wasn’t breathing? Hadn’t he stated it clearly enough? Dav snickered behind him. Benny glared over his shoulder at the Snake before he faced the assembled clan again. Both of the standing Tigers had taken advantage of his momentary distraction and knelt.
Damn it. He was going to have to give a speech. He hadn’t looked forward to fighting, but he’d expected to have to. Benny swept another look over the Tigers submitting to him. What was wrong with them? For all they knew, he would be worse than Sheshtun ever was. Yet they gave in. Were they that bound to the old ways?
“My name is Benny. I’m mated to Yuri, Sheshtun’s son. I’m from the clan Sheshtun merged with last year. Some of you may remember what he did to us for daring to accept our bond.”
“Will you hold that against us?” An older Tiger spoke up from the back, a cane clenched in his hands. They all watched him fearfully, the two cubs hidden within their families huddled in knots.
“Should I?” It was his right, as the new leader, to do as he wished. Hierarchy within the Tiger clan said his word was law. No one could gainsay him—unless they wished to lead. An ache, dull and throbbing, began behind Benny’s left eye. This was not the haughty Tiger Clan Benny thought he’d face. All the fight had been tortured out of them.
“The answer to my question is no,” Benny said. “Unless you harmed another purposefully, you don’t deserve punishment. The betas who helped Sheshtun will face the combined Council’s judgment. They will speak with each of you in the coming weeks, but any who suffered at their hands for the barbaric experiments Sheshtun created can claim retribution.
“There will be many changes. The Tiger Clans follow an archaic set of laws with no bearing on society today—one where Carthera live in peace with humans and each other. The barbaric rule of might makes right is over.”
“Then why should we follow you?” Ahh. Not everyone was as cowed as they appeared. Benny was surprised to see the Tiger who spoke up was the slim man who’d stood kept the massive Tiger from falling. His voice was still soft, but he met Benny’s gaze and didn’t look back down.
“Because I don’t want to be your Alpha.” That announcement sent a wave of whispers through the room. “My mate needs me, but so do you. So, for now, I’m in charge. I will see this clan moved away from this cesspit to a new home. The other clans in his territory work together and have thrived under his father’s, and now Velaku’s, rules. There is a house closer to my home suitable for the Clan’s needs.” There were far less than he’d expected to need to house, just over a dozen family groups and a few others huddled alone.
“What about our jobs? How will we feed ourselves?”
“There is a fund set up. Once the Clan’s properties and assets are assessed and liquidated, as appropriate, the fund will be repaid and shares given out to each family to help you until you get jobs and find a new place to live.”
“We can do that?”
The ache became a throbbing pain. They were like untutored younglings. The strictures had ruled their entire existence, locking them into a place far in the past. If he hadn’t had friends who helped him… Benny pinched the bridge of his nose. He really wasn’t the Tiger for this.
“Yes. You can. Look. I want everyone to go pack their things.” Benny pointed at the two Tigers in the front row and the older man who’d spoken up. “Except you.”
The three stayed on their knees after the room emptied. It had to hurt. “Oh, get a grip, I’m not that bad. Stand up.”
They stood, the older Tiger moving slowly and painfully.
“From your reactions, I’m guessing you two suffered at his hands directly.” Benny gestured for them to take a seat on the couches on the right side of the room, usually reserved only for the betas.
They sat together, thighs touching. Both men nodded reluctantly. “You’re mates?” He was surprised they’d been allowed to bond.
“He tested the shots on us first. It… broke… something inside Carlit.” Carlit, the big Tiger, flattened his ears.
“Peten,” he whined.
“It’s okay.” Peten rubbed Carlit’s hand where it was clamped on his thigh. “I know Benny, remember? He’s a good guy. He won’t hurt us.”
“I thought I remembered you…” Benny snapped his finger. “You’re a friend of Yuri’s!”
“I was.” Peten bowed his head.
Okay, don't kill me. I promise next week we get back to Yuri and things get... interesting! Now go check out all the other great Briefers! You can also visit our website to get snatches of all this week's Briefs and more!