The Hyena Homecoming
Alex had been with Scorpia for a few years now. It wasn't exactly what he'd planned to do with his life, but that was where he'd ended up. He was back in Africa for some arms dealing negotiations. Normally, they would have sent someone less important, but this guy was important. He'd decided to take a walk to clear his head without his combat squad, much to Marcus's consternation. He ran. The desert weather didn't bother him for the most part. Alex quickly fell upon the edge of the civilized area and kept going. Might as well get his daily workout in. He'd been pounding away at the ground for a while when he heard a yip. Alex paused. It almost sounded like a hyena. Alex inhaled as a giant pack of hyenas emerged from the rather sparse foliage. They looked like...the hyenas. Alex moved closer to look at the markings before a very familiar series of clicks entered his hearing. Toka. "Toka?"
The adolescent hyena was gone. She was fully grown now, like him. Alex looked at the enormous hyena. "C'mere."
Toka approached him and nearly bowled him over with a nudge. Alex was immune to the virus they had if it was still active. "Toka."
The hyena sniffed him. As far as Alex could tell, she was decently healthy, if a bit dirtier now that nobody was hosing her off and brushing her fur. Alex pet the hyena. "Good girl."
Toka's eyes met his. The dark brownish reddish eyes reminded him of drying blood. Alex felt his heartbreak all over again as he hugged the hyena. He'd never forgotten the markings of his favorite in the pack. The hyena licked his face. Alex gagged at the breath. "Ew. Then again, I suppose you've been eating decomposing animals."
Toka let out a series of cheeps. "I don't have food."
Toka gave him a very skeptical look. Alex rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine, but you're not going to like it."
Toka gave him a smug look. Alex patted her and then pulled out his jerky, breaking off a few strips. Toka was eating them when the pack began to move off. "Girl? Why are they leaving you?"
Toka sat on his feet. "You want to come with me?"
Toka made a noise between a whine and a growl. "Alright. C'mon. Let's go for a run."
Alex ran back to the Scorpia compound he was staying at. He got the feeling that Toka was just humoring his jogging pace. Well, this was going to be interesting.
The first thing that Marcus noticed when he entered his boss's room was the smell. It smelled of rotting flesh and musk and dirt. There were muddy paw prints on the floor. Marcus cursed loudly in every language he knew as he recognized the sopping wet hyena in front of him that the boss was drying off. The man smiled angelically. Marcus vaguely wondered if this was what Satan smiled like. "Hi, Marcus. Looks like Toka found me after all. Isn't it wonderful?!"
Marcus continued swearing. "I want a fucking pay raise."
Alex shrugged. "Okay."
Marcus resisted the urge to glare at the damn hyena. Stupid fucking genetic modifications and their stupid natural tracking abilities. Marcus banged the door open. "Shale, Adams, Mace, Ivey, Jarek! Get your lousy asses in here for a meeting!"
Alex was greeted by his partially dressed combat squad who paled at the sight of his new pet. He gave them his most innocent look. "Look who turned up."
Mace looked at him like he'd lost his mind. "Are we keeping the hyena?"
Alex blinked. "Yes."
Shale was next. "It's a wild animal, boss."
Alex shrugged. "When I was eight, I slept with a venomous snake for three months. I'll be fine."
His combat squad exchanged a look. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but they got like that every time he mentioned some of his weirder childhood moments. Marcus spoke up. "Adams, you're bathing that thing from now on." Alex gave Marcus a look. "Toka has a name and she'd appreciate it if you used it."
Toka was eyeing the combat squad expectantly. Toka then stalked over and headbutted Shale. Alex grinned. "She wants you to scratch her head."
Shale cautiously reached out and promptly had his hand rubbed against. Alex walked over and pet her. "See, it's not so bad."
Marcus was glaring at him. Alex figured that this was going well.
Alex walked into negotiations with Toka. He might have left her behind, but Toka was rather large and his room was small. Plus, the hyenas were smart enough to sabotage a security system before and he didn't want to risk Toka feeling like she was locked up. The guards blanched visibly at the sight of Toka, who playfully snapped at their heels. "Down, Toka."
The hyena let out a sigh and sat down next to him, eyeing the opposition with a kind of hunger. The guy Alex was supposed to be talking with swallowed noisily. Toka tried to inch closer. "Don't eat the people, girl."
They paled further. Alex shrugged. "Hi, I'm Orion. Shall we get started?"
The others nodded. The long dull negotiations were only made slightly more interesting by Toka sighing and then beginning to toy with the man's goons. Toka playfully snapped at another guard and Alex decided it was walking time. "Shall we take a break?"
The man in front of him, James let out an audible sigh of relief. "Sure. Take as long as you need."
Alex practically skipped out of there. "He's barely opposing any of my terms."
Marcus scowled. "You did bring that monster hyena."
Alex huffed. "Toka is a delightful animal."
Marcus rolled his eyes. "She stinks."
Alex shrugged. "I've smelled worse. Also, she hasn't tried to kill me."
Toka came ambling back over for head scratches. He arched a brow at Marcus as the man absently scratched the hyena's head and then abruptly stopped, noticing what he was doing. Toka promptly headbutted him and cheeped at Alex. "What? I'm not going to order him to pet you."
Alex scratched Toka's head. Toka nuzzled his chest. Marcus inhaled sharply. Alex hugged the hyena. Marcus seemed to be resisting a whimper. Toka licked his neck. "Toka."
Toka chittered at him. Marcus sighed. "We're doomed. We're fucking doomed."
Alex grinned. "I've got money, a bright future, and a dog, what more could I ask for?"
Marcus huffed. "Common sense. You could ask for fucking common sense."
Alex rolled his eyes. "But I love Toka!"
Marcus threw up his hands. "Just don't feed it exclusively human meat or I'm asking for another raise."
Alex laughed. "I don't have that many enemies, Marcus."
Marcs huffed at Alex's back. Toka gave him a considering look before snorting and following Alex back into negotiations.
Marcus had known this was coming. It was only a matter of time with Toka's tendency to be sadistic towards those who demonstrated fear. The guards were known to be trigger happy and Toka was baiting them. A single shot was fired and then all hell broke loose. "YOU JUST SHOT MY HYENA!"
Alex glared at the lot of them. Toka was barely scratched. Marcus presumed it was because of her mutant genetics. "I'm going to give you a five-minute head start. And then I'm going to track you down and rip you all to shreds."
Marcus watched as they all bolted. He'd never seen the boss that pissed before. He almost felt sorry for the man. Poor underpaid goon, he was probably not supposed to do anything but stand there and look threatening. Then Alex brought his hyena that liked to scare people for funsies and was otherwise poorly socialized if they were thinking in dog terms. Marcus watched Alex finish his count and then yell out "Ready or not, here I come!"
He wondered how exactly he was supposed to explain Mr. Gregorovich that the negotiations went to hell because the Boss's "puppy" got a small cut from a bullet. On the bright side, there was no more opposition. On the not-so-bright-side or the brighter side, depending on your point of view, the arms dealing was going to be a smoking ruin for a while in this area.
Alex was still out, come report time, so naturally, it was his job to report in his place. They were fucked. Totally fucked. He hoped Mr. Gregorovich was in a good-ish mood. You could never really tell, but sometimes he was more merciful. Marcus picked up the call. "Marcus."
The voice on the phone chilled him to the bone. "Where is Orion?"
Yassen was worried. It was rare that Marcus proxied reports for Alex. "Well, it's, um...kind of a long story."
Marcus shuddered at the reply he got. "Explain."
Marcus blinked. "The deal went south because somebody shot the boss's puppy."
Yassen felt his brow arch. "Puppy?"
Marcus hesitated. "So, you remember the hyenas?"
Yassen blinked. Of course, he remembered the damn hyenas. "Toka kind of...found Al-Orion and asked him to adopt her."
Yassen resisted the urge to facepalm. "I assume you talked him out of that plan."
Marcus hesitated. Yassen knew he was not going to like the answer. "Erm, no. The boss has a new pet now."
Yassen sighed over the line. Alex should know better. Marcus should have known better. "Okay. Where are the two of them now?"
Marcus groaned. "Well, one of the guards got twitchy and shot Toka. It was barely a scratch, but the boss went berserk anyway. The hyena and him are chasing down and ripping apart whatever's left of the group."
Yassen pinched the bridge of his nose. "Also, the news says there's a smoldering crater where his house used to be."
Mr. Gregorovich's tone was dry. "Naturally."
Marcus was relieved he wasn't about to be shot. The man didn't sound very angry. He sounded almost amused. "I will expect the written reports in the usual timeframe."
Marcus glanced at the phone as the call ended. Fuck. Fuck. Well, at least that was over. "He's surprisingly okay with this."
Adams smirked. "Scorpia is all about image and Alex and the hyena make a very scary one. Plus, free field demonstration with minimal losses."
Shale rolled his eyes. "Ten bucks he sleeps with the thing."
Mace huffed. "No way in hell. He can't be that reckless."
Adams snorted. "That's a sucker's bet."
The two shook on it anyway. Marcus just shook his head.
With the new addition to the family, nobody wanted to wake Alex up. Toka did, in fact, sleep in the same bed as Alex. It would have been cute, but it made waking him up for emergencies and early mornings terrifying. As it turned out, Toka hated being woken unexpectedly. Adams gulped. "Rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to wake him up?"
It was time for them to get off the plane. At a great hour of four-thirty in the morning in their previous timezone. Marcus ended up losing the rock, paper, scissors tournament, and swore loudly before walking off to wake the boss and hopefully not get mauled by the damn hyena. Marcus lightly knocked on the door. No answer. Fuck. Marcus opened the door and flicked the lights on. Toka's eyes glowed in the low light and a growl emitted from her maw. That woke Alex up, at least. "Toka!"
Toka, the little shit, gave him her most innocent pleading look and burrowed her face into his chest. Alex pet her and leaned into the furry neck. "Sorry, girl, I have to get up."
The hyena clung to him and shredded the bedsheets in an attempt to keep Alex from getting up. Marcus was doing his best not to snort loudly. The hyena let out a bratty little sigh and then walked over to Marcus with a few cheeping noises that he recognized as demands for head scratches. Marcus pet the hyena. Stupid fucking fluffball was almost cute. Almost. Alex's eyes danced. "I thought you didn't want to keep the hyena."
Marcus glared at the boss. Alex just laughed at him as he went up to meet with the big bosses.
Doctor Three was amused as Alex visited his office with Yassen and his new...companion in tow. He had never seen the hyenas up close, with good reasons. Watching the two of them interact was interesting, however, the hyena was enormous. It could probably eat most of a person in a single day. The hyena let out a loud sigh as Alex entered the office to meet with him and Yassen. "Morning, sirs."
Toka made a series of noises. "You'll get breakfast after the meeting, you fluffy brat."
Toka exhaled, dusting his Alex's hair all over the place. Toka then sniffed both him and Yassen. Chittering and clicking at Alex. "Yes, I know they smell like dead people. No, no eating."
Doctor Three pulled out some of the remnants of a few subjects that he'd just removed this morning. "Perhaps a snack for Toka before we begin?"
Toka perked up at the word snack and gave Alex a hopeful look. "That would be nice, sir."
Toka slinked over to him. Doctor Three tossed her a human heart. The hyena snarfed it down. Such a nice animal. "I would like your summary of the events leading up to the unexpected turn of your mission."
Alex started scratching Toka's head before answering. "Well, I was out for my morning run…"
Note: I do not endorse keeping wild animals as pets. They are very deadly. It is very illegal. This should be common sense, but then we have people like Tiger King.