The attack came without warning. One moment, we were walking down a road. The next, a morter shell came within a few feet of the battalion. We scattered, and started tracking the incoming shells. I tried to move as fast as i could, but one of my claws caught on something and I stumbled. As I regained my footing, a shell struck the ground two feet away. the blast sent me hurtling ten feet to my left, and I came crashing to the ground right on top of my left front limb, which gave a sickening crunch. The 400 pounds of my body landed on top of it, and my vision started to go red from the pain in that limb, as well as my shattered right rear limb. I faintly heard the cry for a medic as the pain became overwhelming and I passed out.
I heard the voices faintly at first, then better after a while. Female voices talking quietly to each other. The rest of my body began regaining it's senses, and felt myself strapped down to an army cot. I pulled a slow, cautious sniff through my nose, and smelled the air. The air smelled of some gross medicinal substance, but I could barely make out two people, both somewhat nervous, and the bitter smell of oiled metal. I tried to open my mouth, but found it muzzled. I cracked open an eye to see if I could see anything, but all I saw was the ceiling, and a large human body dressed in green fatigues and holding an automatic rifle. Probably one behind me, I thought. Better make a few movements to see how well they have me strapped down. I twitched my rear legs, the left was ok, but the right leg flared in pain at the movement. A muffled grunt brought myself to their attention rather quickly. The smell of nervousness rose, and I heard the thumps of the guards boots as he stood up.
The poke of the gun into my neck was not exactly re-assuring, and I twitched the front set of legs. No pain in either of those, so the front leg must have healed fairly well. I heard one of the nurses tell the guards to watch me while they got both the Xenobiologist and the duty doctor. I started thinking about what started this whole Damnable war.
The Tigereans knew about our world, of course. They had sent a scout ship to this world during a survey some 700 years ago, when humans were still debating if the world was at the center of the universe or not. Magic was still around, but only by a thread, as the various religions stared to wipe out anyone or anything that displayed the slightest hint of potential. It was this furor that cause the Tigereans to put us on their list of places to further investigate. Were-creatures (mostly wolves, but many other species existed at that time) had the honer of first contact, and all was well. When the Tigereans returned, the now hidden population of weres that still remembered the old legends and myths celebrated their return, which led to the first major "coming out" in almost a millennia. This was sadly short lived, as the humans reminded us just how closed minded they could be. We went back into hiding after the third incident in Texas where almost an entire town was leveled. The Tigereans looked upon this brutality as an insult, and tried to leave. Their ship was shot down as the rest of the world looked on in horror by a group of militant Muslim extremists. The War started soon thereafter.
The United States military started enlisting the help, quietly and carefully, of the were population of the country for use as scouts, intelligence gathering positions, and occasional warriors. The keener senses and sometimes unstoppable fighting instincts made for an above average soldier, and the shape shifting abilities made for almost undetectable scouts and spies. A civilian organization was secretly created to supply intelligence to not only the humans, but to the Tigereans as well. This organization was made up completely of weres and other 'hidden' creatures that had gone deep underground and had remained hidden since the days of the Crusades. I was part of this group.
We went through training, of course. Most of us were already very skilled in remaining hidden, and our skills were further honed. We also got to see up close how both sides, and our own people, fought in combat. The humans preferred to use ranged weapons, whereas the Tigereans were fond of sneaking up and pouncing, often in a full form which had no earth equivalent. The bone armor and long razor sharp claws made earth tigers look tame in comparison.
Both sides had an informal order not to shoot at us, but when the shells started flying, we had specific instructions: run like hell. That's what I was doing when the mortar shell exploded and sent fragments through my leg and slammed into my own body armor and flung me ten feet away, only to crush a second leg.
The Xenobiologist and the duty doctor came in at the same time, and motioned for the guards to stand down. the straps were mostly released. I tried to shift my throat up to talk, but something was preventing it and all I managed to make was a chuff noise. Damn, I'll have to do this the hard way, and pray they are receptive. I concentrated for a second, and then cautiously spoke using the mental voice I had been taught to cast. Can you hear me? The looks on their faces was priceless. they both stammered out a feeble "yes", and I continued. Good, because I'll tell you what I think is still broken. The right rear is still exceptionally painful. The left front is mostly healed, but in the process of fixing my body you've done something to my ability to shape shift. I can't even shift my throat to talk normally now, and I used to have that ability. What did you do to me? The Xenobiologist explained how he and the doctor repaired the damage to my front left leg, and how they tried to repair my right rear leg. I see. I mentally sighed. I really did not want to do this, but it looked like I had no choice. The only way to really repair that sort of damage is to re-generate. I'm going to need a quiet place for about a week where I won't be disturbed, and where I can get an IV feed to help keep me alive. I'll be very hungry when I wake up. Otherwise, I'll be stuck like this and unable to help anyone. The two thought about this for a minute, and then the Xeno left. "He's gone to get the C.O. He will have the final say, but we don't see any problem with it. I'm afraid that we are not sure what re-generation is exactly."
"Re-gen is the process by which select were creatures and humans remain alive
over a period of centuries."The group was all sitting well inside the range
of my mental "voice", making this little talk rather easy. "Normally, after
around 70 years for humans, or about 150 years for weres, the body will shut
down for a period of around three weeks in order to rebuild itself. It's a very
energy intensive process, and the person wakes up almost famished. Weres normally
wake up in a semi-feral state until they eat. Thanks largely to modern medicine,
that state is greatly reduced, due to IV feeding. It also cuts down the time needed
for the process." I was in lecture mode, giving a simplified version of the re-gen
process to the medical staff that had gathered around me. The mental voice spell
I had cast worked on anyone within a 5 meter area, unless you were hardened to
mental reception. Fortunately, no one in this motley group of doctors, Regular
army officers, and nurses were hardened. They listened very well as I continued.
"The process can also be invoked if a gifted person has sustained serious or crippling injuries. In my case, the shattered legs and my lack of shifting ability is crippling enough for me to invoke it. It's a 'last resort' thing, because a person only gets a certain number of re-gens. It's simular to The Doctor in the British Doctor Who series, only we have more then 12 'lives'. Now that I've explained the pocket version of this process, are there any questions?"
One of the nurses spoke up. "Are there any bodily functions that we need to deal with?" I chuffed, my way of laughing in full form, and replied, "No, For some reason that we have not been able to figure out, the body somehow manages to slow down that process. I will need a direct line to the latrine shortly after I wake up though. The ensuing laughter filled the post-op ward.
The rest of the session was uneventful. I was carried by two nervous corpsmen into a tent, and everything was set up. Before they started the IV feed, I needed to tell my watchers one last warning. One last warning: Under no attempt am I to be woken up by ANY method. Drugs have been known to kill us in this state. I thought about the last time I did this, the hell on earth that ensued before I was rendered sane, and chuffed once more. Occasionally, one of us will wake up totally feral. In my belongings is a number to call if I wake up in that state. Normal tranquilizers will work on me, but ONLY after I've woken up. Call it ONLY if I wake up feral. You've been warned.I dispersed the spell and triggered the Deep Sleep. Gods, I hope I don't wake up feral again. That sucked....
Open Eyes. Inside. Check Limbs. Three okay, One has tube in it. Look at limb. Tube hanging. Breathe in deep. Smell female human in tent. Smell scared. Hear movement. Hear female voice talking. Says "He's awake. Get the food, and hurry." Remember. Memories come back...
I remembered now.
The door creaks open again, and a large plate of U.S. Army issue food is placed inside nearby as the nurse leaves. Not within snapping distance, of course, but close enough. I realize that I've regenerated in my full form, so I trigger the shift back to morphic. The shift occurs, with my head changing it's position on the spine, the paws elongating a bit more, and the rest of the body shifting to support bi-pedal walking. I reached over and gently removed the IV drip, and then dug into the plate. As I'm eating, something feels funny about my morphic form...
And it hits me. I've got bone armor. Dammit. I was warned about this the
last time I re-gened, and it appears to have bit me in the tail. This ought to be
entertaining to explain. I glance down to an empty plate. I take another deep breath.
Oiled firearms. I barely hear the two armed MPs next to the front door. They appear
to be talking to the CO of this mobile hospital, and the conversation is quiet
and muted. I can't make out what they are saying. I concentrate for a minute,
and slowly, I feel the bone armor absorb back into my body. a hand knocks on the
door. My voice is a little rough as I call out "Please come in." I cough a bit,
throat now clear, as the CO walks in.
"They told me that a tigerean was in here. So, would you care to tell me the whole story?"