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[Fiction] Midnight Christmas


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His latest Contract had finally expired. It was Christmas Eve and just as the last five, Long was alone. He knew he could have stayed with the others, had a "Merry Christmas", but he just couldn't do that tonight. Aki was gone, and this time he wouldn't be able to even see her. Long's fur bristled in cold mountain air, the freezing North wind howling around him. The Full moon shown amidst the infinite sea of stars, bathing him in soft light. Long took it all in, letting nature calm him, consume him. He seemed to melt into a full tiger form, on all fours, over 14 feet of muscle and power. The night was young, and he would celebrate it as he always had.

Long bounded across the frozen lands, his nose on the scent of deer. His prey was a large buck, over two hundred pounds of white-tailed beauty. Long crouched low, and watched. The buck continued eating the sparse shoots of green still visible. The buck raised it's antlered head as if it sensed danger and Long remained still. The deer returned to feeding after a moment. Muscles tightened, and then exploded forth as Long launched himself at the buck. In two quick bounds Long covered the distance, his claws found purchase in the left hind leg. The buck started to rear up, bringing his antlers to bear, but as the deer raised up Long lunged in and sank his fangs into the deer's neck. Long wrenched his head hard to the left and a gout of blood sprang from the wound and splattered his face in hot, wet crimson. The deer fell like a marionette that had its strings cut. The Tiger melted away leaving a bloodstained Ryu Hideyoshi kneeling in the snow.

"May you be at peace."

Ryu took hold of the deer and drug it back to where he'd gathered some firewood, and drew a knife from the small hiking bag. He skinned and dressed the deer, and strung it from a tree to drain as he went to clean away the blood now covering him. There was a small pond frozen over with a thin layer of ice. Ryu stepped upon it and it cracked under his weight. when he was far enough out he brought up a booted foot and stomped it down with amazing force. The Ice gave way beneath him letting him slide into the cold near freezing water. He knew his time was limited, and he began to was away the blood from his arms and face. When Darkness began to obscure his vision he exploded out into his Nova form, his clothing no longer attuned. It shredded against the expanding muscles and frame, his claws removed the rest. Long floated in the water, watching how his fur swayed this way and that, then he willed himself to move from the water. As he emerged water cascaded off his body like a waterfall and he landed on the lakes edge and shook himself dry. He walked back to his camp, the deer hanging from the tree as he had left it. Long built a large fire pit from some gathered stones and placed the wood in it. He raked his claws across the stone lightly sending a shower of sparks into the dry wood. The sparks ignited the wood, and the fire began to burn. Long pulled out a long steel rod and jammed it through the bloodless buck. He then placed it in the two posts he'd set up and began to roast the deer over the open flame. He occasionally added wood to it, and cooked it for almost an hour.

The Venison smelled heavenly, he added his seasoning over the flame, further enhancing the smell. This was how Aki liked it, fresh, bloodless, and roasted. He had always fixed it for her in the old days, even when she was at the institute. He pulled the right hind leg from it's socket. That was always her portion. He ate the rest. Not a morsel of meat was left, he ate down to the bones. When it was done he extinguished the flame and buried the remains of the buck in the fire pit. He left the Right leg above it.

"Let some predator who's meal I may have taken find it, and enjoy the taste."

Full, Long came to the matter that was left. He kneeled down and bowed his head.

"Merciful God, I kneel before you a broken man. I know that you have some purpose for me, but I do not see it. Show me the path Lord that I may follow it. You know me, Lord, I am a sinner. I have no right to ask something of you, but by the grace of Christ I can be redeemed. I ask you to forgive the sins I have done, forgive me and free me from Death. I confess that I have not followed Your will. I have been evil in Your sight, forgive me for Your son's sake. Lord, watch over all of us, humans and Novas, those that believe and those that don't. Keep us all safe in these times and let not hatred fester and consume us. Give us the wisdom to see beyond our years, and be just in our dealings with each other. Give us all Hope that one day we shall one day be free from sin. Teach us to Love one another, and burn away our hatreds. Now Lord I offer you the same prayer that your son taught us so many years ago."

"Our Father,

Who art in Heaven,

Hallowed be thy name,

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory Forever,


Long rises from his knees and takes in the view, he's relaxed now, the burdens on his soul are lessened. As it reaches midnight, he begins to head down the mountain, humming the tune of "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

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