Who: Marsh, Nobu, npc hunters Chiyoko and Erika. When: February 6th, evening. Where: Las Vegas. What: Kidnap and rescue. Rating: Mid; language, brief use of scrotum abilities.
It all happened so fast. One minute he was basking in the oohs and awes of the audience, next he was running for his life with some psychotic blond trailing not far behind. Nobu couldn’t remember exactly what was said to make him dart in the opposite direction of his waiting boyfriend after the end of his performance but the lady’s pursuit confirmed his alarm was warranted. He zig zagged through the streets, going as fast as his four furry legs could take him, eyes darting back and forth looking for a safe place to hide. There were plenty of places for a creature like him to hide; he just needed to find one and quickly.
There. Up ahead. A crawl space. A promise of a safe space gave him a boost of energy, speeding forward frantically. He was so close, just a few more yards and --
A stabbing pain in his hind leg caused him to trip. He glanced behind him to find a dart sticking out of his body. Oh. He shouldn’t have stopped weaving back and forth; it was a clear shot. His vision began to blur as he watched in horror as the blonde, now moving with little urgency, approached him.
“Gotcha, ya little mongrel.” A strong hand grabbed at the scruff of his neck, nails digging deep into his skin. He came face to face with the woman’s cruel smile. His vision began to go dark. “Let’s have a little fun, shall we?”
Back on the strip…
For a moment, Marsh was content. The strip was crowded and Nobu had been dazzling the crowd. One minute he was doing a magic trick and then next he took off running, away from Marsh. Panic began to set it. To the crowd he yelled “NOBU!” The sea of people moved like molasses and when he finally broke free of the crowd Nobu was gone.
He ran his hands through his hair and desperately looked around for his boyfriend. He didn’t notice the woman striding toward him, the fear he felt clouding his vision. “Nobu..” he said again, dejected.
The outdoor cafe was pleasant despite the noisy people passing by. Chiyoko sipped at her tea, attempting to soothe her frazzled nerves while biding her time. Her gaze traveled from passerby to the barely visible magician attracting attention to the magician's companion standing aside some distance away. She hadn't expected the tanuki to bring someone along; no matter. In fact, his presence might make it easier to avoid the creature's capture. As long as Erika followed the plan then maybe...
A streak of familiar blonde hair caught her eye. Oh no. The performance had ended and a woman was approaching the unsuspecting performer. “No no no,” Chiyoko muttered, already knowing what was about to happen. Seconds later, both tanuki and blonde were darting away.
“Kuso!” She exclaimed angrily, pushing her seat back from the table and striding into the crowd of oblivious tourists. This was not how the plan was supposed to go down, but then, why did she ever think that idiot woman would ever follow a plan? No doubt Erika was already gaining on the creature; what the reckless hunter lacked in patience and common sense, she made up for in physical prowess. Chiyoko needed to act quickly.
First, she needed to deal with the companion. The last thing she needed was for the frantic man to involve law enforcement. “You are looking for the tanuki.” A statement, not a question. “I know where he will be going.”
As the voice spoke to him he froze, so distressed that the sea of thoughts were nearly drowned out the actual sound around him. Finally he turned to look at her, his defense mechanisms causing him to sharpen his mind to search hers for her thoughts. The language in her mind was familiar but it was one he still didn’t know nearly enough of to translate.
“Who are you?” He asked her because this could all be an elaborate trick to lure him into some sort of trap. For a man who stood over six foot, he no longer felt like he could defend himself and he had no guarantees that she was, in fact, trying to help him.
A reasonable question. Chiyoko would be on high alert as well in the same situation. But there was little time for pleasantries, not when she could feel her phone vibrating in her pocket. She didn't need to look to know what the tect read. Erika had managed to catch him quicker than she had hoped.
"Someone you should listen to if you hope to bring your companion back safely." Serious and stoic. Straight to business. "He has been taken by someone who wishes to do him harm. He needs to be retrieved." She could have simply said 'hunter' but she was uncertain just how much the man knew. "You can come with me or not. Choose quickly." She stepped away, dipping her hand into her pocket and taking out a set of keys. If her intuition was correct, he would choose to follow.
“My name is Chiyoko.”
The word struck him immediately and Marsh began to realize his panic was for good reason. He didn’t have a moment to overthink and he began following the stranger to god knows where. He blindly followed her and climbed into the passengers seat. “Why don’t you just tell me where he is and we can both get back to minding our own business.” He said to her, wondering why a stranger who knew what might happened did nothing to stop it.
Chiyoko didn't wait for the man to buckle his safety belt before hitting the gas. "That would be unwise," she stated, eyes focused on the road. "I would rather prevent a death, not cause two." The man appeared to be just your average human but it wouldn't deter Erika from attacking him should he get in the way of her target. Human or supernatural; it didn't matter to her. If she was in the mood for violence she would go after anyone.
“She has likely already made it to her desired location,” she continued. A motorcycle combined with a penchant for reckless driving insured the other hunter would make a speedy retreat after catching the creature. “Fortunately for us, quick efficiency is not her concern. She will prolong the encounter.” Not necessarily good for the tanuki but it helped them. “It gives us time to act.”
She glanced over at her passenger, attempting to read his expression. She was giving him a lot of information and little of it good. “We will arrive in a few minutes. You will need to listen to me; not act rashly. Can you do that?”
He didn’t trust this woman, didn’t even know her but if there was one thing that Marsh knew, it was that he had to save Nobu, no matter how rough it was on his tender psyche. He also knew he wasn’t about to completely step back and let someone else take over. “I won’t do anything rash,” he began, peering out the window as they raced down the street. “But I’m not going to sit back and do nothing.”
He thought to himself, about how risky it was to expose himself to her but they needed to be on the same page if this was going to work. “I can hear her thoughts, make sure I know when she’s distracted so we can find her and make sure we get Nobu out of there safely.” He didn’t want to see a single scratch on Nobu, especially not after he’d been so recently wounded.
“Do we have a deal?”
Of course he wouldn't. Believing he would was a foolish thought and Chiyoko was no fool. The issue was figuring out how to make him feel useful with getting in her way. A brow lifted when he admitted his abilities. It was an unexpected development but not necessarily a bad one. The thought occurred to her that he was probably attempting to read her but she did not dwell on it. What was on her mind currently was nothing she felt concerned about hiding.
"We do," she answered cooly. Reading Erika's mind... she did not envy him. She didn't want to know what was in that maniac's head. "I warn you. What you discover in her mind might be upsetting. Do not let it cause you to react carelessly."
He scoffed and folded his hands in his lap as they made their way up to an abandoned building, barely lit enough to know it was there without the headlights. “No offense, ma’am but I worked as a clinical psychologist, and this hearing thoughts thing ain’t something I just discovered.” As soon as they were parked Marsh got out of the car and peered around at their surroundings.
Something was happening to Marsh, his fight or flight instinct leaning more in favor of a fight. This wasn’t some memory of a past event that wouldn’t harm him, this was the safety of someone he cared for. There was no running anymore.
“Lead the way.”
Nobu's eyes fluttered open. What happened? He had been running and was… shot. Drugged? Whatever he had been hit with wasn't particularly strong if he was conscious so soon after. Or had it been a while? Time was hard to decipher when in a drugged stupor. He rolled his head, spying the blonde woman standing a short distance away by a table with... things? Nobu couldn't quite make them out. A good thing, probably, considering his situation.
The woman noticed the movement from the corner of her eye. "Oh look. It's awake," she said, wandering over. "Good. Would have been disappointing if you kept sleeping." She crouched down in front of Nobu, poking at him. "You're one weird looking raccoon, you know that?"
"Not a raccoon... baka...," he slurred, irritated. Being called a raccoon… what an added insult to injury. He attempted to lift himself up, managing to prop his top half.
"I know what that means, you little shit," she growled, shoving his body back into the floor. She paused. "Okay. Not a raccoon. Or a were." She stood up, walking back to the table and lifted what appeared to be a gun. "Never should've trusted that fuck. A were-raccoon. Fucking moron. Ah well." She studied the firearm. "Were. Talking animal. All the same to me.
"Bored now." She glanced over at Nobu before pointing the gun in his direction. "Hurry up and get your ass moving. No fun going after a sitting target."
As Chiyoko lead him into the building, Marsh could begin to feel that fear trying to creep into his brain. He tried to ignore it but the way his heart race didn’t hide it. Eventually Marsh started to hear someone, a voice he didn’t recognize. It was a woman, and the thoughts running through her head would have been enough for Marsh to recommend she be committed.
He made his way through, following further inside without much regard of the other person with him. It wasn’t until he saw Nobu running that he realized she wasn’t behind him anymore. God Dammit, Nobu, I’ve done it again. I’ve let my carelessness get the best of me. If only Nobu could hear it to know he was there and he tried.
Nobu didn't hesitate. When she said to move he darted away with all the energy his little drug-addled self could muster. Learning his lesson, he proceeded to zig zag around the large area, using the building's columns for cover.
'Can't run forever. Gotta find a way out and get her off my back. Think, Nobu, think!,' he thought to himself as he slunk around in the shadows. The psychotic woman was calling out to him in a sing-song voice like it was all just a game. Well, to her it was. Not him though.
A sound got the attention of both tanuki and woman but neither focused on it too long; Ericka proceeded with her game while Nobu suddenly came up with an idea. There was far more things a tanuki could do other than talk; it was time he showed her.
What followed were various noises - a clanging of metal, scuffling of feet, heavy breathing - that he mimicked as he moved, throwing his voice so it sounded as if coming from various directions. He then cast an illusion, a fog that would make pinpointing him that much harder.
As the fog filled the air, he noticed a familiar figure in the distance. Marsh! Nobu was elated - until he realized that he hadn't been the only one to spot him.
"Ah so that's who's doing it. I only planned on one kill tonight but I'll make an exception just for you." Ericka remarked as she pointed her gun in the newcomer's direction. "Bye n--!"
The blonde suddenly went flying, crashing into a pillar and sending the gun skidding across the floor. Where she had stood was a tall bipedal tanuki holding a cartoonishly large mallet in his hands. "You aren't killing anyone!" He declared before falling to the ground, dizzy.
Erika rose from the ground, holding her injuried and eyes flashing with rage. "Bad move," she growled before lunging for her gun.
This time Marsh didn’t hesitate to run for the gun. He grabbed it off the ground, cocked it and pointed it directly at the sociopath. He kept it pointed at her as he saw Chiyoko come up behind her in the distance. “Only bad move is the one you made against me and my man.” Marsh circled closer to her, careful not to divert her attention to the woman moving in behind her.
“I looked around in that brainpan of yours and it is my professional recommendation that you seek help at an institution. Immediately.” Finally Chiyoko came up close enough that she could knock the other woman over the head to knock her out. A large sigh of relief came from Marsh as he turned the safety on and ran over to Nobu.
He wrapped him up in his arms and pressed a hand to his forehead. “Hey, you alright?”
Nobu witnessed the final showdown with blurred vision from his spot on the floor. He tried to shake off the dizziness and fatigue, determined to help his boyfriend, but was unable to find his footing. Thankfully, a mystery woman came up and finally knocked the crazy woman out.
"Yeah, I'm alright," he lied in a shaky voice. The wooden mallet he wielded had disappeared, his scrotum having returned to its normal shape and form as soon as he fell. His body shrunk in Marsh's arms as he changed from his true form back into his animal form. He crawled up into his arms, nuzzling his muzzle into Marsh's shoulder with closed eyes. "I want to go home," he whimpered quietly.
Chiyoko stood above the unconscious hunter, gaze examining the area before landing on Marsh and Nobu. "Good to see you are safe," she told the tanuki with little warmth. Her attention then went to Marsh. "Take him to the car and wait. I need to do things here then I will take you into the city."
Marsh nodded at Chiyoko and walked with Nobu on his shoulder out to the car. He could have explained that this was why he wanted Nobu to stay with him, why he was so afraid of losing him but none of that mattered right now. What mattered was getting Nobu back home and get him some rest. It seemed the shenanigans never ended for the Tanuki, good or bad.
“I’m sorry I didn’t look after you better..” he murmured as they finally made it. He opened the back door and climbed inside so that they could have some space. “...I couldn’t leave you behind, I thought I’d lost you.” Forever.
"I am not easily lost. I have an excellent sense of direction," he declared, tone light. A joke despite the deadly confrontation they had just escaped. It was a good coping mechanism, humor was. "Thank you for coming for me," he added softly, giving his cheek an affectionate lick.
Nobu slid out of Marsh's arms and settled himself next to him, resting his floofy head on his boyfriend's lap. "She called me a raccoon, you know. A raccoon! The nerve," he exclaimed with a huff. Imagine, being mistaken for a raccoon just before he died - a fate worse than death!
He let out a sigh as his muscles relaxed. The adrenaline that had kept him moving before was wearing off, leaving an exhausted tanuki. He closed his eyes, murmuring. "I am lucky to have you."
He smiled at that, petting Nobu’s head as he sat in his lap. “You must be exhausted. Let’s get you home.” He replied, peering out the window to see where Chiyoko had gone. “I’d have been hopeless of it weren’t for Chiyoko.” He said to Nobu as she came toward the car. She slid into the driver's seat and sighed.
“I think we’d like to go home if you don’t mind.” He said to her and she nodded her head as she pulled out of the parking lot.
The drive back to the strip was a quiet one. With the need for urgency gone, the ride was a slower one. It did not take long, however, to pull up to Marsh's truck. How she knew it was his was unimportant.
"This is where we part ways," Chiyoko said, glancing at Marsh in the mirror. "You will have no more problems from that hunter. Others, I cannot guarantee." Her gazed moved to the creature dozing on his lap.
"And tanuki," Chiyoko began in Japanese. Nobu stirred from his light sleep, eyes peering at the woman reflection. She continued. "I suggest you keep your head down. It was only by chance I was here. Next time you may not be so lucky."
Nobu nodded slightly, acknowledging her words. "Noted... thank you," he answered back in Japanese. Chiyoko nodded. Looking up at Marsh, he crawled up into his arms. "Let's go home."