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195 Red Tiger

    Kiba and Ruby sat down near the stream, looking at the crystalline water. The level of the water was higher and small aquatic lives flourished deep inside.

    Kiba threw one pebble after another across the water. He looked on as the pebble slid over the water and fell on the other side of the stream.

    From time to time, Ruby gave few quick glances at Kiba, wondering why he suddenly turned so silent after repeating the words mentioned by his friend.

    She was curious and wanted to know the true meaning of those words, and why they helped him in the art of seduction. She opened her mouth to ask but no words came out.

    "He might become angry if I pester him," Ruby decided to not ask him any further question. "Not until I'm close to him."

    She silently wondered about his background and the reason why he came to this forest. She believed his reasons could help her understand him better, and she desperately wanted to since her survival depended on his whims.

    After all, she didn't want to do anything which might offend him and send her to her decased companions.

    "He mentioned he came here to expand his horizons and experience the wildlife," Ruby thought of what he said after their first meeting. He appeared to be a young man on the rush of adrenaline, seeking adventures in a dangerous land.

    "But he could be lying just like how he lied about why he wasn't carrying any camping stuff or survival kit."

    Ruby creased her brows, lost in thoughts.

    BOOOM

    The sound of an earth-shaking explosion reverberated in the air, destroying the serenity in the region. The birds left their nests and flew away from the trees as shockwaves spread in the air.

    Ruby was startled by the sound. She raised her head and looked far in the distance.

    A mile or so from her position, the sky was filled with a trail of black smoke originating from the ground.

    "What happened there?" Ruby wondered aloud.

    The lush vegetation of the forest hindered her vision and she couldn't see what resulted in the black smoke and the sound of the explosion.

    "Well, let's see," Kiba threw the pebble in his hand before closing his eyes. When he opened his eyes again, they were flickering with golden radiance.

    His gaze bore through the flora, noticing minute details of everything in his path. It was as if the forest has come alive with vivid pictures.

    His eyes reflected the small bugs hiding in the flower buds, the bees collecting nectar and pollen, and the veins within the leaves forming strange textures.

    Nothing was hidden from him as long as he wished to check the secrets.

    His vision swept forward and arrived at the place which was the source of the smoke. The ground was filled with deep cracks and craters while the trees were torn. The roots were blasted apart and there were claw marks along with blood on the ground.

    A rocket shell was lying at the center, its metallic coating ripped in pieces.

    Some distance away from the rocket shell, a girl in early twenties was standing with her arms crossed. She has a scowl on her face as she contemplated her next course of actions.

    She was accompanied by a middle-aged man and around a dozen armed guards.

    Behind her, a green battle tank was standing, its muzzle powered up.

    The girl was named Fiona Wilcox, a member of one of the aristocrat families. The middle-aged man was Joel, her chief protector.

    "Fiona, that bastard dodged the rocket," Joel said as he stared at a humongous red tiger, standing on the branch of a tree, "It is much stronger then we thought."

    The tiger or to be precise, the tigress, growled in anger. On its back, two baby cubs were clutching on her, their young eyes filled with fear.

    "It is an evolved beast so it is natural for it to be this powerful," Fiona said. "Go all out to catch it."

    Joel nodded his head and one of the guards hefted a rocket launcher. It aimed at the tiger and then fired the shot.

    A rocket shot forward with a screeching sound and trail of dark smoke behind it.

    Pou.

    The tiger leaped up and tore through the branches to create a safe distance. In the blink of an eye, it landed on another tree.

    Suddenly, its body turned stiff and it jumped away from the branch of the tree as it sensed something dangerous.

    BANG

    A green arc of energy landed on the tree and instantly cleaved it into two.

    "You are really agile," Joel was high in the air, green energy surrounding him. He twisted his body and bound towards the falling tiger.

    The tiger opened its mouth to blow out a column of fire. Joy brought his hands together to create a green shield and blocked the coming attack.

    The fire deflected and landed on a tree, instantly turning it into ashes.

    THUD

    The tiger and Joel landed on the ground with a loud thud noise, the former tensed up as she smelled more humans catching up.

    The cubs on its back trembled with dread and they clutched their mother tightly.

    ROAR

    The tiger suddenly released a frightening roar, that contained rich and brutal killing intent. The guards around stopped momentarily, their bodies feeling a suffocating pressure under the might of the ferocious beast.

    The tiger used this opportunity to pounce away.  As it rushed forward, its hoof stomped on the chest of a human who was in its path. The crystalline claws struck away a handful of human flesh as it dashed away.

    BANG

    A green energy beam landed on its back and the tiger stopped as it felt the weight on its top reduced.

    The tiger turned around and noticed a cub has fallen on the ground.

    "You are almost a Level 3 mutated beast and yet you can't fight properly," Joel said in a mocking tone. "You don't deserve to be called the ruler of the outskirts."

    The tiger looked at its child, and then at Joel and the armed guards who were pointing their weapons at it.

    "But your body is a treasure mine so you should be called a treasure queen instead," Joel further added.

    The crystalline red claws of the tiger could be used to produce weapons while its bones were useful in medicinal drugs.

    Then there was its soft and durable fur was preferred by the rich for clothing while the internal organs were a favorite of the scientists.

    Shou.

    The tiger leaped high in the air and spit out flames all around, creating a wall of flame which spread towards its enemies.

    "Bastard," The guards and Joel leaned back to avoid the raging flames.

    The tiger, in the meanwhile, sprinted towards the cub.

    Some distance away, a bright light suddenly flashed in the muzzle of the tank. The next moment, a powerful missile shot out, creating a rumbling sound as it moved forward.

    The missile split into countless bullet heads and started raining down on the tiger and its cub. The tiger's countenance turned unsightly and it covered both its children with its body.

    BOOM

    Just as the bullet heads landed on the ground, they blew up explosively, and the resulting blast shot outwards.

    Along with the flame and the smoke from the explosion, shards of rock and shrapnel flew out.

    As the flame subsidized and smoke settled down, Joel saw the tiger injured badly. Its skin was charred and its claws were broken, its entire body was covered in blood.

    The eyes of the tiger were filled with tears and blood as it looked at one of its cubs. This cub has shrapnel pierced through its stomach.

    "Finally done," Joel moved towards the tiger and its cubs. "It took some time but the reward was worth the efforts."

    "Watch out!" Fiona suddenly shouted as Joel arrived in front of the tiger.

    Joel was startled and confused, but just as he realized the nature of the threat, it was far too late. The tiger opened its mouth wide and clamped down on the right hand of Joel.

    "Fuck!" Joel retreated back, his body drenched with cold sweat.

    He didn't expect the injured tiger to have such power left after taking a missile attack head-on.

    His hand was ripped apart by the tiger, and he gritted his teeth as he saw the tiger spitting his hand out like it was some filthy food.

    Joel fell on his knees, the effects of the pain and blood loss taking over him. He felt weak and exhausted, and he regretted celebrating the victory far too soon.

    The tiger roared ferociously and proceeded to attack again, despite its fragile state. After seeing the state of its children, the tiger has lost all sense of reasoning and all it wanted to do was kill the humans even if it meant certain death.

    "Help me!" Joel rushed back.

    As the tiger leaped forward, another missile darted towards it. This missile was different and instead of an explosion, it shot out a black net.

    The tiger let out an anguished wail as it fell heavily towards the ground, trapped by the net. It brought its sharp claws to pierce away the net and regain freedom.

    ZZZZ

    The black net turned blue and released high-voltage current. The tiger cried in despair as waves of current channeled through its body, making it paralyzed.

    "Now it is done," Fiona arrived next to Joel and said in a cold voice, "You shouldn't underestimate an ominous beast."

    "I'm sorry, Fiona," Joel lowered his head in shame. "I won't repeat such mistake again."

    "As long as you learn a lesson it is fine," Fiona said along with a low sigh. "Now, have some rest."

    "Help him," Fiona signaled one of the guards to treat Joel.

    "Yes, ma'am, "The guard rushed towards Joel with a medicine kit. He took out two syringes and two serums, one yellow and other red.

    "It is going to hurt," The guard said.

    Joel remained silent, and the guard took it as approval.

    He first injected the yellow serum to stop the blood flow. He then cleaned the wound and injected the red serum.

    Joel clenched his teeth tightly as he felt tissues replicating on his cleaved hand.

    With a rate visible to the naked eye, new flesh and skin started forming to regenerate the missing part, but the process was extremely painful.

    His eyes turned bloodshot and his entire body was precipitating heavily.

    "Damn it," Joel tried his best to fight the pain.

    He was not only feeling pain but also humiliation and regret. Humiliation for making a show of himself, and regret for having his hand regenerate anew.

    While his new hand would be the same as the previous one, the use of the serum would means his body would slowly turn resistant to future regenerative treatment.

    This would effectively reduce his chances of survival when he suffers any serious injuries in the future, and this made him regret the moment. If only he had not underestimated the cornered beast, he could have avoided this.

    "It is done," The guard said before taking his leave.

    Joel brought his eyes on the tiger, and the rage in his heart exploded.

    "That annoying beast."

    He wanted to kill the evil beast for his actions, but he controlled his anger.

    He knew a beast like this mutated tiger was far more precious when it was alive. Fiona wouldn't allow him to kill the tiger just to extinguish his thirst for revenge.

    "Well..." Joel's eyes flashed with a sinister glint as he noticed the two cubs. One of them was near death while the other was in a comparatively better state.

    Joel's lips curled in a smirk and he stepped towards the cubs. They were in no condition to struggle as he caught them in his hands.

    THUD

    He threw the cubs in front of the net in which the tiger was imprisoned. The tiger looked at is children, eyes moist.

    "Look at them for the last time, you wicked beast," Joel said. "They are going to pay for your sins."

    The tiger couldn't understand his words, but it understood the intentions as green waves of energy manifested on Joel's hand.

    Roar.

    The tiger tried to roar and tear away the net but failed as more electricity channeled in its body.

    "Haha, suffer as I kill your evil spawns," Joel laughed in a sinister fashion.

    Fiona was standing behind him, her expression indifferent as she opened a water bottle. She could care less what he planned to do with the cubs now that she has the tiger.

    Joel has a cruel smile on his face as a green energy arc manifested in his hand. He lowered it towards the neck of the cubs.

    Just then, out of nowhere, a frightening aura rose up in the region. The earth quaked and the air vibrated while the morning sky instantly turned dark without any warning.

    "Evil spawns? Why does a land of beasts reeks of human hypocrisy? " A devilish voice reverberated in the sky, startling everyone in the vicinity.

    Fiona and others hurriedly raised their heads towards the sky. With solemn expressions, they observed the changes in the sky.

    Wild winds swept down while the air turned turbulent as fiery golden energy rippled throughout the sky.

    "What's going on?" An armed man asked.

    "No idea," Joey answered. He felt a sense of dreadness he has never felt before.

    Fiona kept silent, her brows creased up in deep thinking.

    BOOM

    A burst of explosion resounded in the air, like claps of thunder, just as a beam of golden light passed through the dark sky.

    The golden beam was like a falling star as it left a trail of blaze behind it.

    Before the people on the ground could make a sense, the beam of light landed right in front of them.

    Extremely dreadful energy ripples instantly swept out just as the beam touched the ground.

    The ground cracked open and shattered stone flew all around, while the energy ripples moved forward.

    Fiona's eyes turned wide as the water bottle in her hand exploded. The guards, on the other hand, were like leaves in the middle of a storm.

    Those in front were ruthlessly smashed by the energy ripples. Their bodies shook as though they have been struck by a mountain.

    Their complexions instantly turned pale and they spat out a mouthful of blood, dyeing the ground into crimson red...
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