16 Sheer Luck
The alpha grunted, furiously observing the cub beast before it.
It sought to destroy this upstart, totally. Raising up a pack in this wild untamed forest had been a hell of work for it. Seeing that IronSpike Tailed Dogs were naturally not strong but he had made sure his pack survived.
Hunted continually by the dragon people and picked upon other beasts, communal living had been their biggest bet. And by all that was in the forest, he was not going to allow a newcomer remove him from the pack.
The Alpha mused, faint amusement in its eyes as it observed the weak specimen of a dog before him.
Just what has this new comer thought? That he'd just show up and challenge him?
Even after the fact that he had welcomed the new comer in, the new comer still had the guts to bark at him.
Despite the fact it was barely a cub. A part of him wanted to preserve the newcomer. It was probably stray, a survival of a pack that had been hunted down.
It was different, by the forest, it was different. The cub seemed to emit heat around its body and he had felt the heat concentrate when their tails clashed.
Luckily, he was of a more mature body else, he was certain that heat would have managed to inflict damage on him.
And that was exactly why he wouldn't allow this distant specie of an IronSpike Tailed Dog around.
Keeping it was breeding trouble and trouble he didn't want. The forest and the hunters were trouble enough.
Honestly, he had wanted to give it a chance but, the cub had to challenge him?
But he wouldn't spare that insurbordination. Even if he wanted to, what would the other members of the pack do? Prepare themselves to challenge him again?
Just then, the cub darted forward, it's nimble limbs propelling it towards the thicker part of the cliff plains with more trees and vegetation.
But the alpha snorted, powering its muscular limbs once more, in pursuit.
Think, Bayo, Think...
How do you out do a doggie on different maturity levels than you?
Stupid Me... I should have known that I'll start again from a cub.
Focus, Bayo. Let the past go.
You need to work something or this alpha doggie won't let you go.
For some reasons, the guy seems content on having me for a meal.
Already, the pack dogs had begun closing in, coming to watch the brilliant performance of their alpha, making Bayo Curse internally.
The pack was what was motivating this doggie?
But why? He was merely a cub.
A cub, damnit.
No time for whining now. Analyze your environment. What do you see?
Bushes, trees, rocks, yes, ROCKS!
Just then a blitzing hot sensation tugged through his head, whispering a certain fast paced motion behind him. The sensation was so fast and hurried and hot that Bayo stumbled, trying to figure out what it was.
The alpha landed just in front of Bayo, its claws digging up dust. It had missed the challenger by just a hair's width and that was because it stumbled.
'Yasmin, what just happened?' Bayo asked, regaining composure.
Quickly, he swirled around, picking pace back towards the rocks at the cave that he sighted.
'That was an instinctive application of motion sensing as an ability of the Latent Stealth Dog.' Yasmin theorized.
That was what had saved him?
Phew! He guess he was indeed lucky to have changed form. The regular IronSpike Tailed Dog would have been torn to shreds already.
Stealing a backward glance, he saw the alpha whimper confused as it glared at him.
'Dear, dear... Don't try to understand what happened. I'm a new specie, old doggie.' Bayo gloated even as the Alpha pawed after him again.
Doubling his pace, he ran through a section of the onlooker dogs who made way for him as he ran towards that circular piece of rock.
The alpha wasted no time already, he caught up with Bayo just as they got to the rock. Immediately, Bayo cut a sharp turn, evading the rock by mere inches while the Alpha rocketed towards it.
'Time to have an old head smash, sir.' Bayo smiled.
But the smile didn't last long. The alpha upon noticing his catch had changed course, dragged his legs together with sudden force, considerably slowing it motion as it wobbled towards the rock.
Then, it twisted its body, putting two paws out to the other side Bayo took off to, pausing briefly to regain its self.
And then, it charged, furiously.
He had to admit it. This Alpha was no pushover. And in a battle as this, two things were been expended, stamina and energy. While he wasn't sure the alpha had much energy but he wasn't willing to bet on its stamina.
And in an extended battle of running and running up and down, the winner was obvious.
He would be dog snack for the Alpha. And No, he didn't get a second chance to end up in a gullet of an Ironspike Tailed Dog.
Wait... what was with him and these dogs? First he'd been gobbled up by one, now, one was completely frothing, chasing him about.
What were his odds?
Change back to Salamander and blow some fuse, No?
No! Yasmin would extract energy for that shit and he wasn't any where close to the pool for something like that.
Plus, he was certain if he changed form to that Salamander for roasting purpose, the entire pack would set themselves on him.
That was risk he couldn't afford!
Or wait, he could actually hightail to the pool, munch some snack and return guerrilla style.
Yes, that was it.
For now, he had to get this doggie off his precious tail.
His motion sense throbbed again, hot and fleeting sensation trudging through his head, whispering the place something was moving towards.
This time he embraced the sensation and clenched his paws together, halting completely. The mass of the alpha flew over his head, landing few inches ahead.
'Gah! You'll never get me.' Bayo gloated.
Immediately, his head flared again, the sensation informing him that something was coming heavily from up.
Quickly, he rolled on all fours away as the heavy tail of the Alpha rammed into its former position.
'Damnit. The doggie had already planned ahead. No wonder it slammed its tail to catch me off course.'
If he had been any second late, his head would have been paste already.
'You have achieved max growth point for cub. Evolve to Young Adult or suppress growth? Would you like to see analysis.' Yasmin asked.
'Not now, how can you be so insensitive, Yasmin? And yes, evolve me. Every little bit would help me. How can you even ask me that question of evolving or not?'
Bayo complained as he jumped backwards, evading a clawed paw swipe from the Alpha.
'Well, I put in that option assuming you were rather comfortable in this cub form.' Yasmin countered.
'Really? You know, you're really being helpful now.' Bayo sneered, swinging his butt around for another tail counter.
Again, Bayo's tail was batted away heavily.
'You know, I'm actually curious to understand how you'd win. That beast there had years of experience. You may have had enough energy but that doesn't really make the cut. Give me full access, and I'll ensure we survive?'
The next second, the alpha swirled, feinting to strike with its paw again.
'No, thanks Yasmin. I didn't get a second life to play second fiddle to a parasite.'
Bayo moved in response, taking the bait as he ducked. But the paw wipe never came.
Instead the heavy spike tail landed heavily on his now unguarded back, drawing ichor.
ARGHHHHH... He growled, eliciting huffed groans from the various onlooker dogs.
The dogs were mocking him.
Just then, Bayo's muscular frame condensed, becoming taut as visible veins of energy spread through the body, bringing every dog to a confused pause.
Growling as his body grew to an increased height, Bayo mentally checked on his soul Status.
Latent Stealth Dog -Common Type
Soul Stage: Ground
Energy Level: 15/33
Growth Stage: Young Adult(2/3)
Growth progress: 15/75
Ability: Motion sensing, Heat infused Tail
He had 15 points of energy? Not as bad as he thought.
With that he could work up some things. But what exactly?
Energy was the currency of this world. Even walking depleted energy. His various counters and running not only drained his stamina but also drew out bits of energy.
That was it. His attacks had been taking about 1 or two or even less points of energy. So just what if, he could pack more than the usual two to three points of energy into a single attack?
'Yasmin, is it possible to divert ten energy points into my tail to boost the heat induction down there. Want to score a nasty roasted hit.'
'Yes, That is possible and will be a rather critical hit but, you would have less 5 energy points, bringing you closer to soul decline once more.'
He hated that word. He gazed at the Alpha, watching the stunned creature whimper at the sudden increase the to his height and build.
This Alpha was no push over... Actually, what was he waiting for? The alpha was stunned, now was the time.
Prompted by the realization, he kicked his hind legs into the grass, launching forward with beastly ease.
'Yasmin, NOW! Convert!' He yelled mentally.
Already, he had closed in on the yet stunned Alpha, adjusting his body slightly to dig in fangs into the neck of his foe.
Simultaneously, he felt a massive drain within his body as his fangs hit home. The Alpha whined, coming out of its stupor. It shook its scruff vehemently with attempt to throw off Bayo but the challenger held on.
Thinking quickly, the Alphas opposite paw flew up to the air towards Bayo, wicked claws glinting in the air.
The claws struck into the air, hitting nothing. Bayo was faster. As soon as he felt that energy drain, a soothing sensation of heat travelled down his spine.
He knew what that was. Before the paw could lift off the ground, he had twisted himself to the side of the Alpha, the heat sensation in his tail building to alarming heights.
Quick as lightning, Bayo swirled, his tail swinging in for the home run into the side of the Alphas head.
The smell of roasting flesh rent the air, accompanied by an aggrieved growl before the Alpha pulled away.
Mirroring its movement, Bayo lunged, jaws wide open as he bit into the earlier incision he had made.
His teeth crunched on bone and he bit harder, his effort rewarded by more crunching of bones. Just then, the Alpha went limp, almost pulling Bayo down with it's it fell into a heap.
Bayo Howled, a paw atop the fallen Alpha as the other dogs bowed their heads with fallen ears.
That was a good sign. They were submitting to him.
'Yasmin, you can bend your head now in shame now, okay?'
'Well, I would. But if you ask me, your winning was merely by sheer luck.'
'Luck? How? I fought the guy fair and square.'
'You don't get, do you? These creatures are beasts, not Ascenders. It is very startling for them to see a cub suddenly growing into a more mature form. And you capitalized on that.
Howling again, Bayo mentally shrugged. Yasmin was right. He won by luck but what did it matter?
All's fair in the jungle!