Bosque de Las Almas [canned laughter]


A good relationship, you know, was all about compromises. Compromises and trust. So Becky let her host have her stupid flesh party...and Pete went ahead and showed up early the next full moon, stripping down and letting go before the other girls arrived and made human small talk inevitable. It felt better to both of them anyway, all the human bullshit put on low volume, the late evening woods turned up high. Human Pete wasn't the point, was she? No. Becky. King Becky was the point.

Her car was parked off the road. Her clothes were piled on the front passenger seat. And holding very still, functionally invisible against the tall grass and scrubby woods, Becky waited for her kin.

wearing green yoga pants and a loose white shirt w/o sleeves

Diana hadn’t done a group shift since moving here. There was a small flutter of what ifs that were bundled up with things, but all in all, she was arriving confident enough, the hyena fluffing in excitement of the tugging moon. Las Almas had that tingly feeling of group all over it, solidly those friendly hyena's place. While still an outsider, it didn't add a lick of wariness more than usual from her own beast, just interest and a real good need to roll around.

Pulling up by a car that seemed familiar, Diana got out of her own, immediately feeling like eye were on her. Hmm. Closing the door with a thump, she looked around, starting to walk to an entry trail, a low hoo in her chest waiting to come out. Rubbing at it, she’d follow the scent of hyena to figure out where to go, a face of concentration but enjoyment at the cooling air running against skin. If it was a hyena she'd know soon enough; if it was something all together different, Diana would know too. Hopefully, on an evening like tonight most people would have sense to leave the woods and the woods were only privy to the weres that called this place home.
The sense prickled her, made her tail twitch compulsively. Animal companionship, that rare commodity, still felt like something that had to be secured and defended, a territory to guard. Becky and Pete watched the old woman step out of her car and look around, probably aware, a little, of the animal in the woods.

Pete had no intention of being sneaky, but a wild animal did like to observe, weighing out the scenario before they entered it. So the hyena followed silently along for a minute, watching the woman try to find her. When the right amount of waiting had passed, she stepped out ten feet or so behind Diana and made a gulping bark, ears swinging forward, black eyes shining a little in the rising moonlight. Hello!
Lora wasn't so far behind Diana, but the bus never did park in the trail head. It was an extra bit of walking for a girl already left prickly and clenched up by a full moon public transport ride. She clenched her hands around her backpack strings, seeing Diana's pale hair glowing in the moonlight. Kinda glad she'd come. Kinda sorry she'd have to see Lora in a terrible mood. Could feel Pete somewhere in there beyond, could smell them both on the wind, and the hyena knocked around inside her head like an animal gone mad. Just a few hundred more yards, you dumb bitch, just wait.
The sudden movement of grasses and brush had Diana stopping. It really did sound like it was right behind her. A bark full on made her spin on a heel to see a giant spotted hyena looking entirely glad to see her. Her own let out a gravely noise in a start, eyes shining a soft pink. ”Well I’ll be, there you are.” You’d think hyenas would be easier to spot, especially this one. ”You’re very impressive.” Very!

It was Lora she spotted first, having parked her neat little car down a way herself. Didn't mind a little bit of a walk, especially not during this time of year when the air was dry and warm even at this hour. Summer, true to her name, thrived during the peak sun time of year, and even though that was coming to a close, she still took a lot of heart in what remained.

She could hear the somewhat distant yap of a familiar animal, but she half-jogged to catch up to Lora, to tag her with a tap and a smile.

"Hey girl, ready ta rumble?"

She sure was. The brown beast was all but coiled in her gut. Eager, as always, to see Pete, but increasingly keen on Lora as well. No reason.
Becky's tail curled upward and over her back. She was impressive! She made an undefinable noise and shambled forward, digging her broad, moist nose into Diana's hands. Her ears were vibrating with the sound of nearish voices, but right in front of her was a hyena who needed to shuck her skin! So she paid attention to that. She stopped her nosing and sneezed abruptly, racing off into the woods. Come on come on come on!!!
Diana's sweet papery voice trickled through the trees around Pete's heart hyena noises, and cresting against the back of her neck was that bizarre feeling of someone closing in on her. It came with the sound of nearing footfalls, and with something of a bristle under her skin, Lora cast a wary look over her shoulder just as Summer came to tap her on the shoulder, all but swallowing her field of vision for a second. She jumped, startled, and the hyena rattled her ribs furiously. Ouuuut! Play time!!!!

"Ready," she said thinly, recovering jerkily, squeezing her hands around the strings of her backpack. It was like urgently needing to use the restroom, but about twenty times more painful, and she was never ever ready. There was comfort in Summer's presence, however minute, and the knowledge that Diana and Pete were up there and ready to keep them company. Part of her keened for Logan to be there immediately, too. Maybe that was all hyena brain.
There were familiar cadences of voices nearby, her hyena fluffing up exceptionally in excitement realizing now fully that it’d be a group thing. How exciting for everyone involved.

To her gushing of who she was pretty sure was Pete, the spotted in front of her seemed quite pleased with itself before shoving a warm snout into hands. It elicited a laugh from her and then as quick as her company had come, off she went.

Following, Diana would take off as best she could run after her, breathing through laughs, every limb feeling more and more close to letting go and elongating. Trusting Pete here, she’d hold off on the shift under they got somewhere for a breather where clothes could be taken off and a new skin layered on without worries of prying eyes.
And that was when Logan appeared.


That was when MOHAWK appeared. A (relatively) tiny ball of speed and energy came torpedoing through the space between Lorena and Summer. Logan had parked a ways away, and shifted because they didn't know if they wanted to do that in front of anyone yet.

But Mohawk knew the way because of its sensitive nose and trusty intuition. The aardwolf made loud, whirring whines through its throat as it passed the two that were still people shaped. Exhilarated by the promise of big hyenas to chase and play with, Mohawk was not at all interested in lingering around to chat.
Poor Lora, so tense! But Summer got it. The full moon used to turn her crazy, too. Still did, actually, she just didn't notice it as much anymore. But with someone actively straining next to her, she felt... "Wanna step off and stash our stuff? We can roll up and--"

Zyoom went the littlest little hyena the entire world has ever laid eyes on, and Summer burst into a surprised laugh. "Yeah, that's the right idea! Was that Logan?" Had to be. Little dumb baby, what a fuckin' riot!

She felt sharp, prickly. The brown hyena in her heart was jealous and there was no more waiting. "Yeah, come on," she decided for them and urged Lora off to where they could stash and then dash.
Oh, Diana :') there was never a plan. Becky was running off into the woods with no destination, except farther and farther, out of the human world and into the hyena one. She began looping around, ahead and behind of the woman, in long big arcs, and began an unearthly sound, a low, shuddering chortle that dialed up into a wail, then shrieking laughter. She heard more hyena sounds behind her. Come on COME ON!!!
Pete and Diana were running off, the sound their footfalls and brush rattling past them making her skin itch. The hyena was unbearable in its insistence, almost drowning out Summer’s words. Then there was Logan, a tiny lightning bolt, coming and going like a fucking flash of light. Lora groaned between clenched teeth.

She was wordless, letting Summer usher her off into the woods, stripping without room for shame. What did that mean, she would later wonder, no longer caring about being naked in the woods with a bunch of people she’d never fuck? Maybe that was overthinking it. Maybe the hyena was just loud enough that she didn’t have the brain cells to care.

Shifting still came with tears, but screaming was embarrassing, so she tried not to do that too much. It was still a strange and uncomfortable thing, feeling her brain change around as much as her body did, tumbling into the back seat as the hyena convulsed to life. Better this way, in some ways. More hyena thoughts? Probably. Hunger was at the top of the list, though, battling it out with a need to wrestle and run.
Further and further, but no change in pace. As another sound echoed behind them that had the striped hyena wailing into a hoot, soon the Spotted was making a ruckus that echoed through ears and down through into bones.

Slowing with hands to a tree’s rough bark, she felt the tell tale riot of her own beast having enough and making its appearance wanted. This was good enough. Her heart was hammering to a song taken to by a magic far older than the mountains themselves, and she gladly listened. Shimmying out of clothes, it was as they were laid onto the forest floor that her spine split and Diana fully fell into her shift. The pain reworked the bones of her collapsed form, still making tears puff out, and cries escape, but all of it was slowly replaced by a thick mane of fur and stripes proudly crossing her stature.

Eventually, a striped hyena with an almost velveteen greyed muzzle would be present, sniffing the cooling air as it rolled to an elegant long legged sit.
She heard them happening: one, two, three. grunts and moans, bones breaking. Heavy, ornate human identities shucking off and replaced with the clean and new and sharp. Cool night-breezes ruffled along the bottom few inches of ground and she ducked her head to inhale, catching the fine perfumey funk of Diana. The striped kind, large and lean.

Another low, broody chuckle as she rambled back to the loner, calling to her kin. Then a high, excitable YEE! as she spotted the thing, pale and gleaming in the moonlight. Becky stood tall and alert and waited to be given her due.

The smells that Mohawk was following grew stronger as they tore through trees. They were moving so fast that they almost zipped right past the two larger hyenas. But Mohawk skittered to a halt, back legs slipping right from under them as they skid in a sharp circle to right themselves on the path toward the pair. Mohawk was used to being smallest, but they did slow up when the spotted hyenas came into view. Just to take stock, make sure they weren't gonna get lunged at.

They let out a string of loud, clucking barks as they padded closer, hunched a bit but tail wagging rapidly as their satellite ears flickered in a seemingly directionless pattern on their narrow head.
Summer didn't really scream much--more yelled. Sometimes she felt like it was all less painful if she just pretended she was hulking out, gaining some super power that required her to embrace it furiously. The change was naturally unnatural. Horrifying and longed for. She bucked and bowed and her thick curls were replaced with wiry mane and greasy fur, her face a swollen taxidermist's nightmare.

But by time the brown hyena was full and on her feet, she felt both beautiful and utterly powerful. She chittered at the spotted that had birthed beside her, slouching over to sniff and then to nip, all her stowed stuff forgotten for the moment in favor of moving on.

The cackle, up ahead.

Bounding like a demented jackrabbit, she surged up the hidden trail, crowing for her prince.
Lora's biases didn't exist very loudly this way. There was no particular favor between any of them, no affectionate inclination to the eldest or the youngest in their midst. Summer was first, naturally, crowding her space. The great speckled beast opened her mouth dramatically, an open steel trap that emitted high peels of laughter as she kicked and scraped her weight onto her feet. Before she could get a good bite in on the brown hyena, she was barrelling off, and Lora was hot on her heels, whooping in delight.

The littlest among them was a piece of fascination, spared from being regarded as a meal by the steel thread of magic that bound them as family. Lora did her best to assault Mohawk with obnoxious sniffing and mouthing, followed shortly by giving Becky a slightly more reverent greeting - head bowed and weaving and bumping. Mom!!! Diana, the technical stranger among them, was saved for last, by whatever amount of time necessary; she wouldn't intrude on the leader's investigation, at least.
A friendly and powerful presence soon was right next to her and she flicked an ear at the spotted female. Standing, her fur fluffed up in excitement and as a precautionary measure in the uncertainty of biting from the other came up. She was big! Don’t bite.

Walking over carefully like a floating dust bunny on thin toothpick legs, she gave tentative sniffs of hello and if a leg would come up, her own back one would go upsy daisy in similar greeting before a small squeak zoomed on by.

All paws down on the floor, she turned to consider them and then a familiar hyena was bopping right up too. She shook herself before giving big huffs of breaths of hello, all inner smiling.
She was more powerful, with three other hyenas whisking around her in a vortex. The fact that she could ignore all of them, and insert her broad head under Diana's chassis, this was a demonstration of that strength. Her mouth cracked open to take in all the information available: a complex picture of the hyena's health and mood and history. Nothing shady there. She licked her chops and withdrew with a decisive yip.

Cleared for a run with the cackle! She hopped and turned stiffly in midair, standing sidelong in front of the striped hyena and growling ghoulishly, a joke about real fighting and an invitation for the outsider to play, however it was that elderly striped hyenas did that. Bonding behavior! And then they could hunt, and eat, and play the rest of the goddamn night.
It was so good to see them. The brown circled and rolled, snapping at anything that came close with no intent of contact. Sniffed at the larger newcomer without intention of interrupting Becky, not about to step on those pretty toes. But she spun back on Lora, gave her a good headbutt before she was swooping for the smallest among them. Spindly, breakable--she would be careful, but she would be certain as she swooped in on little Mohawk.

A great big mouth that could chomp through bone, gently plucking the aardwolf from the earth, made a muffled barking noise at Lora in particular, and then darted off into the trees, far too full of energy.
The arrival of a brown hyena had her attention, giving happy snuffles in greeting back. It seemed three of the others were heading off somewhere, but her attention went back to the spotted one, the growl having her ears swiveling. It was a happy growl from what the striped could understand.

An answering one was given, grey muzzle bunching up into a half there muted snarl, tail sweeping back and forth. Lanky legs taking her over, she’d give a soft nip to a side before zooming off a few steps to spin and ready herself for whatever came next.
A chase!! Or—no, an impact! Becky had barreled after at full speed, and was so excited about the idea of covering ground that she noticed Diana turning too late. Her enormous bulk collided with the striped hyena's rangy frame, and she tumbled with a snarl, legs kicking, thrashing around to feel where everything had landed. She seemed more or less right-side up, but with a lot of hyena existing over her??
What she hadn’t been prepared for was the spotted running right into her. Losing footing, the hyena fell with the other, legs kicking out to try to get away and out before she could succumb to an origami mess of limbs and muzzle.

Somehow through the scuffle she’d ended up over and across the leader of the little group here and her whole fur lifted in excitement at the realization. Now this was something wasn’t it? Mouth open she’d give a soft playful bite against the back of her neck, shaking slightly with a low growl escaping.
Pete, for all that she was a wild animal, was a wild animal with a deep well of social knowledge. Becky, though also a wild animal, carried instinctually a complex sense of hierarchy and the delicate dances one could do within it.

Both of these things were true. What was also true was that if you grabbed the back of Pete's, or god help you, Becky's neck, you were about to have somebody go apeshit on you. Diana's probable intent disappeared with the pressure of canines on either side of her spine, and Becky screamed, twisting her neck around to snap with full crocodile force into the striped hyena's face. Grip, rip, and dominate!

miss :sweater:

The reaction was immediate, but this wasn’t like what she was used to. A boundary had been crossed and her fur fluffed in surprise, jerking away and stumbling off the spotted queen, trying and succeeding at getting away from jaws that snapped in the air right where her muzzle had been a split second before. Giving several feet of space, the striped blinked, ears folding back as her head fell downwards baring teeth, a tail between legs. There wasn’t much noise she could provide, but the intent was the same in posture though perhaps slightly different in form; show that the were before her was dominant, Diana wasn’t challenging that. She was the outsider and had zero ambition to even consider a different position on the totem pole other than simply just being welcome among the cackle.
Her initial bite missed. The lunging snaps that followed missed also, as she pursued Diana in a few moments of swiftly spent anger. After the first explosion of snarls and snapping teeth she became less urgently threatening, her own black line of fur rising along neck and back. The striped hyena cringed and bared her teeth in a nervous smile, and Becky walked in close, mouthing at the long fur and huffing, tasting. Making dead-ass sure that she could handle this subordinate however she liked without issue. A growl crackled resentfully as she prodded her broad, wet nose into the corner of Diana's mouth and sniffed.
The clicking of teeth among snarls had her head lowering ever further, taking steps back as needed. Being under those teeth was something she highly wanted to avoid at all costs. And then there Pete was, checking in at the display as she let herself be moved against. A snout went into her mouth for a sniff, the growl coming out vibrating into a greyed silent muzzle. Standing still was all Diana could offer, fur lowering, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible.
Good. A proper attitude. Becky’s nose smeared upward to nudge against a narrow cheek, and after a tremulous pause, her posture loosened, and she stepped back and whisked her tail. Forgiven! The Pete in there watching from the back added some grating speech, "You okay."

And with her native, feral social instinct, she bucked off into a run to bring them to the other hyenas. No more high pressure interview with a monster. Wailing joyfully for Diyeena to come with!
Whatever tension had been there sudden evaporated and she managed to look up hopefully, pastel eyes taking in the other. Grating words had ears flipping forward, a tail lowly weaving back and forth. She was okay, now that was a swell to hear.

Lifting her neck back up, she waited a beat before following eagerly after Pete, paws light at the happy wails of the other.
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