There were hundreds, maybe thousands of things that could make her nose twitch in a weird way - between the magic that bled from the forest to the wildlife, the fauna, the monsters that snuck through whatever metaphysical glory holes that opened up for brief periods of time. It wasn’t at all unlike the Whispering Woods back on Etheria; the adjustment was easy. The forest was familiar territory, and the closest slice of home they’d ever get to in Vallo. Plus it was nice to sink her claws into trees whenever she felt like scratching the shit outta something she didn’t personally own, yeah.
This, though, was something different. Tough shit she couldn’t even figure out what this even was but there was an odor in the air that distinctly didn’t belong and a presence that made her tail bristle, made the thin fuzz of fur on her stand erect. Not to mention she had to actively fight down the bloom of a growl, its rumbles beginning deep in her chest. Ignoring it wasn’t an option. Her instincts wouldn’t , couldn’t settle until she found out what was up.
It meant she had to play the long game and, really, that was dandy with her - she wasn’t particularly known for having an infinite well of patience but she knew the rules of the hunt. Catra had to take it slow, steady, quiet; let her senses do the work, ears twitching at sounds that seemed beyond the norm and nose following this trail of foul stink until it grew. Ground wasn’t the path she was traveling for this.
Instead she was up, high, using that feline stealth and grace to leap from branch to branch and survey the ground. Sturdy trees only, leaves rustling to the bare minimum if she could help it. There was something else in the air too, this one familiar - metallic, like iron. Blood. Then came this uncomfortable squelching sound, like something was chewing on wet flesh and -
That was a slurp. That was definitely a gross fucking slurp as this mass of inky darkness (with glimpses of white - teeth?) dislocated its jaw to inhale some kind of animal carcass. Catra’s body knew what she had discovered before her brain put it together, pupils becoming slits and her own set of fangs bared. She stilled on the branch she was crouched on with and suppressing a hiss, opting to observe her latest discovery with a glare.
Jackpot. There it is. Question was, though - what even was it?
What indeed was this large, formless black muck that distended about into a shapely form of whatever was necessary at the time. Currently, its’ natural state of black goop, claws, and a jaw taking down the chunk of the former creature chomp by chomp. Like a snake, but faster, and more disgusting.
Venom was ‘careful’ this time to eat it whole. With the animal absorbed he distended his wet, sticky tongue amongst the forest floor and brush to lick away every last bloodied morsal.
When the meal was over the symbiote stilled. Another morsel? Greasy tendrils slithered up and around it’s back, the monster slowly moving around to gather it’s senses. Reaching out suddenly with a very large tendril of black mass and movement, Venom gripped onto the branch that Catra was perched and snapped it clear off of the tree, it’s now goopy arm bringing it right to his very large, lifeless face, white pulsating eyes with a head of nothing but teeth.
Venom inhaled with enough hot disgusting air to take in all of the scent he could, tongue undulating about the corner of his mouth curiously. Those teeth moved to speak in a deep, dark, throaty question, “Are you hunting us, Kitty?”
Catra had hoped it wouldn’t catch wind of her, but realistically she hadn’t a clue what this thing was capable of - if it caught a whiff of her scent before it noticed her, or maybe it heard the rapid beat of her heart. A whip of black shot out and it was that impeccable balance that kept her feet on the branch, even if this thing tore it right off the trunk and reeled riiiiight over to his face.
Gave her the opportunity to get a real good look at him too - and it was enough to make her want to back the hell off immediately. “You fucking reek,” she hissed and catapulted herself off the branch, giving herself and this talking mass of gunk a good bit of distance. Her fingers cracked, claws flexed, and she was on this languid, lazy kind of move with how she worked to side-step circles around him. “What do you mean by us? I’m only seeing one of you.”
This was either going to be fun or a total disaster, she didn’t know yet. Regardless, Catra wasn’t a rookie. This was fine. She could handle this - hopefully.
A very brave Kitty indeed. Venom liked this greatly, teeth pulling back even farther into what could, yes, possibly be even a larger grin with more teeth.
“And you smell of grease, like a pizza...do you taste as good?” He growled through his teeth, chuckling excitedly. Not that it was noticeable without an iris, but Venom watched the feline humanoid move around him with careful prowess. We’re not eating her, she's a person.That remains to be seen.She hasn’t attacked us yet, and she could have.
Venom crushed the branch in his sludge-like grip, his arm forming back into what was more close to an actual arm, by anatomy purposes. He even got squatted into a comfortable perch, claws reaching out to grasp the earth, knees and arms supporting the great black mass that was his body--the opposite of an opposing, intimidating stance. Well. For Venom, anyways.
All the same, his patience was tested. “What do you want, Kitty Kat?”
Catra’s eyes - icy blue, warm gold - narrowed into a scrutinizing glare. Pizza. This mess of teeth and stark-white eyes (that’s what she assumed those were) compared her scent to pizza. God, what was she even looking at? She couldn’t make heads or tails of what this even was except that it wasn’t natural; didn’t look it, didn’t smell it. It was able to speak so it was intelligent and clearly sentient. Hungry, too.
And clearly strong. Able to play with his own shape. Definitely dangerous, yet it chose to have a conversation with her instead of outright attacking - Catra would take it. Provoking it with violence was a poor decision to make if she intended to come out of this unscathed.
The movement of her feet slowed to a stop, clawed toes digging into the earth. “I want to know who and what the hell you even are,” she confessed, crossing one arm over her chest while she picked at the set of claws protruding from her fingertips - the pose screamed impatient diva. “You’re spooking the wildlife and it won’t be long until someone else catches your trail.”
If it wanted to stick to eating deer or, like - bears or whatever, she wouldn’t bother it. Catra would at least have a face to the fuckery that’s been messing to her senses and she’d acclimate. If he was posing a threat to people, well. That was where the issue lied.
Venom licked lazily at the side of his teeth as she explained, cleaning out for any extra niblets it may have missed. But he was paying attention to her, head barely having to turn backwards to see it’s previous kill location, and then back to annoyed kitty. They are hunting us. And she just warned us. There’s a way out without getting put on the bulletin board ourselves.
“We can’t help our appearance,” the symbiote lifted both claws as if to, yes, shrug off the idea. “Why are we not allowed to hunt our own food? We are not hurting anyone.” That they knew of...But It was wise to make a generic statement and not give away that he was anything more than another creature in the woods.
Definitely not a person who had access to the network to read about why he was being chased.
We. That we again. Catra didn’t know who else it was talking about but maybe she should warm up to the idea that there was, uh - someone else she was talking to, or even listening in. Couldn’t rule it out of the realm of possibility with how this world ran and whatever she was dealing with.
But she took a minute to hum in thought, think what they were saying over. There were no reports of people getting attacked by it - and while the forest sometimes seemed endless, it was well-populated. With that in consideration it was entirely possible it was some weird apex-predator that wanted to be left to their own devices, and being creepy didn’t warrant execution.
Her ears straightened. That tail of hers calmed, expressing more caution than annoyance. This was - okay, this wasn’t terrible. Catra wasn’t about to get comfortable and retract her claws or anything but she’d tone down the tension of her posture. Let down those defenses juuust a teeny, tiny bit. “Hunting for your own food’s fair game,” she agreed evenly, crossing her other arm over until both were folded over her chest. “You should keep your teeth away from a hunt that’s been claimed, though - and obviously any farms. You’ll cause farmers issues, raise alarms, that sort of pain in the ass thing I’m sure you’re trying to avoid. It would help if I knew more about you.”
Like a name, maybe. Species. Something to label it by that wasn’t strictly ‘weird drippy darkness with a tentacle for a tongue and fangs.’ People were afraid of what they didn’t know, after all.
Ah, progress, very good. Venom sat back on his haunches to think with a thud, legs moving out and crossing in what would normally be a humanistic pattern. Yes, Eddie knew now to look at the hunting claiming before going to eat something. It would take longer in the forest to find another apex predator or something that was ill, but it is was worth keeping the cover.
Tapping at his teeth with an equally sharp talon, the symbiote spoke once more. “We will hunt deeper and further away then.” However, he did not seem to want to give her any more information.
“We are alone, we will not harm “good” things. We are just hungry sometimes.” All the times.
“Uh-huh.” Catra’s tongue was pressed into her cheek as she continued to assess him; a single brow raised, eyes looking him over. The almost-human quality of his posture was noted, though she really didn’t know what to make of it. “I believe you.” For now, unless it proved her wrong. Again - its current pattern didn’t trend towards harming the public and that was all she could go by.
Reluctantly, cautiously, she took a step forward. “I’m Catra,” she said, splaying a hand over her chest for a moment before pointing a clawed finger at its direction. “I live in the forest so I’m around pretty often. What should I call you?”
Venom chuckled, it may have sounded more sinister than intended, he just thought it funny she thought that she was in control here. He liked the kitty cat named Catra.
He clenched his jaws when she moved forward but relaxed and stood to his full, lingering, bulk of a height, slouching ever so slightly. “We will avoid bothering you then, Catra.” Eddie wanted to be able to tell someone his secret. It actually hurt but it would be the dumbest idea in the bag of all dumb ideas to give away anything. Even if his symbiotic half almost welcomed the danger. Just a little bit.
“We,” the bulky black goo monster said, placing its own claw in it’s chest, mimicking her motion. Of the maybe possible trust. “...are Venom.”
We shouldn’t have said anything.You, are the one who wanted to be peaceful and gain trust.No, I want us to avoid all exposure. So we don’t die.
A breath was let out, something akin to a relieved sigh. Venom. They were getting somewhere now. Catra doubted she could milk every single relevant detail out of it at this very moment, but this didn’t seem like it was going towards the direction of bloodshed and life-threatening hostility. Her gut told her that if it wanted to gobble her up it would have happened by now, and they’d be using her bones to pick their teeth.
Cool. Cool, cooool.
“I’ll leave you alone,” she said as her arm fell to her side. “If you want I can let others know that you’ve got no intention to go after farms, hunts - or people.” Surely it knew that if any of that changed it would be a very different story, but it seemed redundant to bring up. “You good with that?”
The idea Venom would be picking his teeth with bones at all was ridiculous. He digested those as well. In fact, it was at Eddie’s behest that they were even chewing sometimes.
“If they would leave us alone, we would like that very much.” The black mass around his teeth peeled back further, longer. It was...a smile? What a very reasonable kitty. However adorable that she insisted that she’d leave them alone. These others, well they could only count from the few that had posted on the network. And then there were their companions….they could do without being hunted again. Regeneration was such a nuisance.
“And if Catra finds someone or something that is bothering her, we would be happy to eat them.” That seemed like a fair deal, if only to extend more than a chance on hoping she would keep her word.
Catra could almost assume that extra show of teeth wasn’t meant to be a sign of aggression - she just tried not to visibly grimace because if it was an attempt to smile, it still fell under the category of fucking creepy.
“You know what, sure.” Her shoulders lifted into a shrug at that. Doubtful that she’d ever take this Venom up for the offer but who knew, Vallo was a mixed bag of weird shit. Just as she had taken that tentative step forward, she reclaimed that step backwards with more confidence - to show that she was backing off, that they were the closest thing they’d get to good. No harm intended. “Is there a way to reach you if I wanted to take you up on that offer?”
What, did she have to speak in tongues to summon this razor-toothed being of goop? If she couldn’t pull out what it really was then she found it unlikely that it wanted her to like, be able to make contact easily but she’d give it a try.
No, contact would not be easy and couldn’t link back to Eddie in any way. Venom debated giving her a piece of himself, sitting back on his haunches into a squat, long black claws running through the earth while they thought. If that got to anyone else they would be able to study it.
But, they could leave a part of them in the forest, to hide, to listen, to know if she would betray them. Venom turned around to the tree where they had initially feasted, making a disgustingly inhuman sound as it gargled in it’s throat to spit some of it’s gooey black substance onto the tree. Like blood spreading through water the black essence spread amongst the tree until it disappeared within it. They could regenerate what was left and bring back more as they hunted, once that piece of them ‘died’.
“We’ve left some of ourselves onto the tree. You can speak to us there, we will hear you.” They explained matter of factly, tongue swirling out the side of it’s mouth and back over the face. You know. Like it was wiping it off.
Yep. Nevermind on the ‘trying not to visibly grimace’ part, she definitely grimaced at that gunk she just spat out into the three. Catra half-expected the bark to get eaten up because it flat out looked like some kind of - acid? Something that would eat away matter, except it was absorbed into the tree. Its scent was there, imbued with it. She knew she could track this spot back down if, uh - she needed to.
Which she hoped she wouldn’t have to - for many reasons - but the option didn’t hurt to have.
“Nice,” she flatly replied, squinting at the tree that was infected (probably?) with a piece of this thing. Then her eyes fell back to it, and after a scrutinizing stare, Catra sighed. “This works, then. Happy hunting. Don’t get into too much trouble and try not to make too much of a mess.”
It was like scolding a puppy. A demonic, extra slobbery puppy with a tongue a mile longue and creepy eyes and super sharp teeth. After that, Catra took her leave carefully. Like, very carefully. As in, she didn’t turn her back to it until after there was a decent gap between them to where she could kick it into high gear and speed off.
Just in case it got hungry and decided she was a good meal after all.