Author's Note: though Tigress dies in this story, she comes back in Champions of the 3 Realms: my Pokemon/Digimon/Monster Rancher crossover (which I have kept private)
The cub stopped running, panting and looked back, one leg raised.
"Father" she whispered, tears running through her fur.
Shaking the memory away, she looked back with her front leg raised, she snorted, the humans wouldn't never catch her, then carrying her prey, she disappeared into the forest.
* * * * *
"Look, a village"
Walking into the center of town, Genki and the others saw everyone was surrounding a wooden platform.
"It came out of nowhere, he said" a portly man, who looked very well off was standing on the platform.
"Excuse me" Holly stepped forward.
The villagers all turned round.
"Look" a woman pointed at Tiger.
The villagers started muttered angrily and waving farming tools in the air.
"That creature attacked the headman's son"
They all surged forward, Genki stuck a defensive pose, Moochi doing the same, Tiger moved in front of Holly, snarling while Hare raised his fists
"Stop" a young man stepped forward
"But isn't this the creature that..." one villager piped up.
"The one that carried off my Hare was a different color"
"Oh" the villagers looked vagrant and started to drift away.
"What was that all about?"
"Let me tell you over dinner"
"Chi" Moochi said, a pleased look in his eyes.
"Oh, by the way, I'm Paul"
Later that night, Genki and his friends sat around the dinner table with the headman's family, a refreshing change of pace from the usual meals taken outside around a fire.
"So, are you going to tell us why you all so determined to see me killed before?" Tiger asked gruffly.
No matter how many times he was persecuted, it never failed to flare his temper.
"Sorry about that, but you looked like that thing I saw last night" Paul said "You see, I was returning from a nearby farm with my Hare when we were both attacked by a Tiger, but now that I've a good look at you, I can see your coloring is different, the one that attacked us was more of a lilac color, I was lucky to get away alive, but it seemed more interested in Red"
"My Hare" Paul said
"You gave your monster a nickname?" Holly asked
"Yeah, there are so many Hares in this village, so I wanted mine to be different, unique" Paul said ""But enough about that, what's a beautiful girl like you doing wandering around in these times?" he asked with a grin.
Holly blushed, Genki broke a piece of bread in his hands and muttered angrily. Suezo snickered at Genki's reaction, but silenced himself when Genki shifted his blazing eyes at him.
"We're looking for the Phoenix" Holly said, regaining herself "We're going to defeat Moo"
This uncomfortable silence fell onto the table, the headman had nearly choked on his food, his eyeswide in fear and disbelief.
"Rose" he said, turning to his wife. "Please show these people to the door"
"Father!" Paul protested, rising from his chair.
"I said get them out!" his father replied forcefully, more with fear than aggravation.
Paul was about to argue further, but Holly and the others were already up.
"It's alright, we'll go" she said, turning from the table.
Ignoring the look on his father's face, Paul followed them to the door "I apologize for my father" he said bashfully as they all walked into the street.
"You mustn't blame him, these are bad times, and everyone's living in fear" Holly said.
"Thanks for the food anyway" Hare called back as they left.
* * * * *
She yawned and stretched, it was night, time to hunt again, heading down to the village, she stopped to sniff at the ground, there was the smell of Hare and something she hadn't smelt since she was a cub, she started following the scent.
Meanwhile the Searchers stopped in a clearing.
"This is a good place to spend the night"
"Look, the last full moon of the month"
She watched them from the bushes, two humans, an young Unknown, a Golem, a Suezo and a Hare, he would make good eating.
Hares always did, then she saw him and her eyes opened wide.
"No, focus on the hunt" she whispered.
Summoning the mist, she waited.
"Where did this mist come from?"
When the mist cleared, Genki and Holly ran to Hare's side, his arm was bleeding.
"These are bit marks"
"I know, something jumped me"
"Be on your guard then" Tiger advised, through nothing else happened that night.
* * * * *
In the morning, Genki and the others headed into a canyon, unaware of the eyes watching them from a cliff-top, "Look" There was a mist forming round their feet and a breeze had sprung out of nowhere.
Spinning round, Genki saw a creature that looked like a smaller, more slender version of Tiger, but it had lilac fur and white horns.
"That must be the creature that took Paul's hare"
"I am Tigress of the Wind" the creature's voice echoed in their heads. Tiger's eyes opened wide, shocked.
"Easy, she's telepathic" Hare said.
"Oh great, there's two of them" Suezo said.
Tigress's eyes were fixed on Hare, laughter burning in them, then her tongue ran over her teeth, he gulped and ducked behind Golem.
"Keep away from me"
Her eyes flicked to Tiger, then the mist rose, when it cleared, she had gone.
"Let's go" Genki skated off with Moochi on his back, facing the others, alongside this fast flowing river
"Genki, look out"
He tripped over the rock and started to fall backwards, Moochi jumped off and rolled clear to avoid being squashed, but rolled straight into the river.
"Chi" the little monster splashed his arms in the water, panicking
Suddenly a lilac streak ran past Genki, diving straight into the river, it was Tigress
"Hold on" she yelled, swimming out to Moochi, offering her neck. The little pink monster grabbed her neck, then Tigress swam to where the others were waiting on the bank and clambered back on the bank, Moochi clinging to her.
"Moochi" Genki ran over.
"Chi" Moochi jumped into his arms
"Thank you" Genki said, looking at Tigress.
She snorted, then shook herself dry, spraying water all over the others.
"Hey, watch it" Suezo said.
"Want to join us?" Genki asked.
"What, she kills monsters" Suezo couldn't believe this.
"But she saved Moochi"
"Will you join us then?"
"Just until you get to the nearest forest"
"That's only two miles away, we'll reach it by nightfall"
* * * * *
That night, the Searchers stopped in a clearing, Holly looked around and saw Tigress sitting a little way from the others, cleaning herself and walked over, then sat down next to her.
"What do you want?" Tigress said, without looking up.
"I just wanted to talk, get to know you a little bit"
Tigress looked up, straight into Holly's eyes, then this image flashed into Holly's mind, a cave with Tigress lying outside, while four cubs played round her.
Tiger emerged from the bushes, the cubs ran over to him, squeaking "Father" Tigress got to her feet and walked over, then she and Tiger nuzzled each other, then the image was gone.
Holly smiled "You love him"
Tigress looked away, startled, then got up and walked off.
"I'm going to find food, care to join me, I know a good berry patch" Tigress said, looking at Tiger.
He sprang after her.
But they were gone, disappearing among the trees, Genki and the others just sat around the campfire, shocked.
"Any room for a weary traveller?" a voice called from the bushes. Deep in the forest, Tiger glanced at Tigress, she delicately picked a berry from in between some thorns.
"What's your story?"
"I was born in the wild, Breeze, my mother died giving birth to me, me and my father Zephyr were inseparable. Then when I was still just a cub, the huntsman came before the three nights of the full moon, my father tried to escape with me, but it was no good, trapped by a cliff, then he hid me in a small cave and turned to face the huntsman. I watched the human form a white lightning bolt in his hand and throw it at my father, my father just collapsed, trembling on the ground and then the huntsman pulled out a thick piece of wood and advanced on my paralyzed father. The next thing that I saw was my father clubbed to death and skinned before my eyes, then the huntsman walked over and started to reach into the cave, but I leapt forward and savaged his hand, taking one of his middle finger off, I jumped from the cave and ran, since that day I avoid humans, but on the nights of the full moon, I lose control and get this unstoppable desire to kill"
Tiger looked at her, then gently licked Tigress's face, then she put her head against his, he knew exactly what to do next, they stood on their hind legs, their front legs resting on each other's shoulders.
"Stay with me" Tigress suddenly said.
"I, I can't, I made a promise to the boy"
He turned his back on her, then walked back to the clearing where he knew Genki and the others were waiting for him to return, burying his loneliness.
Swallowing his sorrow, Tiger emerged from the bushes, the others were sitting round the fire, there was a stranger with them, a grizzled middle-aged man, stirring something in a cooking pot
"Tiger, meet Vur" Genki said, waving.
Staring at the newcomer, Tiger's eyes suddenly narrowed, remembering Tigress's story, the man had no middle finger on his left hand,
"Stew's ready" Vur said, as he dished it into wooden bowls.
"Yummy" Genki grabbed his bowl and gobbled down the stew,
Suddenly Suezo, who had swallowed his stew in a single mouthful, fell to the ground and started to snore, then Moochi yawned and curled up in a ball, Holly and Hare lay next to each other, asleep, then suddenly Vur tapped the ground and whispered "All rock be still" A beam of white light streaked across the ground to Golem, surrounding him.
"I can't move" Golem suddenly realized.
"What have you done?" Genki muttered, his eyes closing as sleep slowly overtook him.
"Sleep well, kid"
Then Vur walked over to the sleeping Holly and ripped the stone from her neck.
"This will help my master form an alliance with what did you call him, oh yeah, Moo"
Tiger suddenly sprung at him, but Vur waved his hand in the air and he was thrown back, unable to move, then Vur pulled out a skinning knife and walked towards Tiger
"My master could use a new cloak" Vur laughed
Then a lilac streak burst from the bushes.
"You" Vur held up his left hand, showing his missing finger
"This is for my father" she leapt at Vur, but he just made a flicking movement with his fingers and she flew backwards.
"Psychic Bolt" a white lightning bolt formed in Vur's hand, then Tigress leapt at him again, he suddenly buried it in her chest, Tigress fell to the ground and lay on her side, not moving.
"No" Tiger suddenly found he could move again, he ran to her side "Tigress, I, I love you"
She smiled weakly "I wish I could bear your cubs"
Then Tigress's body glowed white and when the light cleared, there was a disc where she had lay, Tiger just stared at it, a gale starting to form, then grief burning in his eyes, he leapt at Vur and slashed his throat, making him drop Holly's stone, the huntsman threw Tiger to the ground, the wound in his throat wasn't bleeding.
"You think that can defeat me" Vur said.
His skin split open, revealing a giant black armour-plated centipede.
"Behold Vurm and know his master's power"
Then this black vortex suddenly appeared over Vurm and he was pulled into it, laughing.
* * * * *
"How long is he going to lie there?" Genki said.
Tiger hadn't budged from Tigress's disc for two whole days, he just laid there with his head on his paws.
"He needs time to recover" Holly replied.
Genki looked at Tiger and then at the disc, suddenly he walked over and pulled it loose.
"What are you doing?"
"This is one disc we're not leaving behind, when we find the Phoenix and revive all the lost monsters, we'll be the ones to bring her back" Tiger got to his feet.
"What are we waiting for" he said.
Holly smiled as the Searchers walked in the setting sun.