"But we can't afford to keep him any longer, he needs to go." The boss declared and stalked off towards his office and the employee sighed, this was going to be fun.
I laid curled up in the corner of my cage, nothing new there but the fearful pairs of eyes standing by the locked gate of my cage were new.
They looked stupid in their protective equipment and padding. Not that any of it would do any good, my bite force was 200 pounds per square inch and I had no qualms about using every one.
"Good kitty." One whispered in a fearful and shaky squeak and I yawned on purpose, showing off my deadly teeth and jaws. I rested my large head on my front paws after, staring at them with my deep blue eyes.
"We don't get paid enough for this." One of them complained and dropped the catch pole in his hand and it clanged on the concrete loudly and he walked off, smart man.
"You know we c-could umm... you know t-talk to him, if he knew the circumstances he might not p-put up a f-fight." One stuttered nervously and another scoffed.
"Even if he does understand us, he won't fucking care what we tell him." One debunked the others idea. Well I do understand them but humans lie, their words could as easily be true as they could be false.
One who hadn't spoken yet loaded the dart gun in his hand and I snarled menacingly, causing him to jump and almost drop the gun. I shifted my position and the man sighed and lowered the gun he had cocked to aim at me. "Damn cat's too smart for his own good." The man sighed and tried to find a position that he could shoot my rump at but I had pushed it against the wall in the corner, still curled up.
"What's taking you so long Marshal?" The one who spoken before Marshal said and Marshal, the armed one sighed again.
"I can't get a shot." He explained.
"Just shoot him anywhere!" The man replied in an exasperated voice and threw his hands up and I snorted.
"I can't Ju-an!" He huffed, saying his name in two parts frustratedly. "The dart has to go in a leg, it has the most muscle and theirs less chance of hitting a bone or puncturing an organ." Marshal educated the man called Juan.
"Then just hit one of his front ones!" Juan argued.
"Fine." Marshal muttered and cocked the gun, lifting it up and looking through the scope and I roared in anger, making him jump and he missed, the dart with a bright red feather bounced off the concrete wall behind me and fell on the floor. "I could of hurt you Luci." He scolded me and I huffed and licked one of my large paws, ignoring him.
I heard the quiet click, spring fire and jumped, but I was too late. I roared again, looking down and seeing a dart embedded deeply in the muscles of my front right leg. I shook my large head as a wave of dizziness went thorough me and I swiped at the dart, pulling it out of my leg with a hiss.
I settled down again, I could feel the drugs travelling through my body. I laid down and snuffed, trying to comfort myself as my body started to feel heavy. I didn't know how long it took but it was a while before my body went limp and the three men on the outside of my cage dared to enter it.
I looked around, my head lifting very slowly, it felt like it weighed tons. I blinked languidly at them and a pitiful growl escaped my throat. I saw the one called Marshal cautiously approach and he smiled a little at me, squatting down to run a hand down my back. "Hey Luci." He spoke softly in a gentle tone and I snuffed. His smile widened at my greeting and he scratched behind my ears.
I'd seen Marshal around a bit, he was a vet. It wasn't the first time he'd shot me with a tranquilizer gun, before it had been for a check-up, to make sure I was in good health. He prefers to use muscle relaxants, with me anyway. It means I'm conscious and can feel but are unable to move, I prefer that, knowing what was happening to me even if I couldn't do anything about it.
He quickly and skilfully started to give me the once over; checking in my mouth, ears, shining a light in my eyes, feeling along my body and poking and prodding. I didn't like the light shining in my eyes and the poking was annoying but he never hurt me, so I only mildly disliked him, and I knew he was only looking out for my health.
'All good Luci." He informed once he was done and scratched the top of my head and I snuffed again. He stepped away and I expected them to all leave but to my surprise the one called Juan unrolled a large piece of tarp beside me and I growled, it a bit louder than before, what were they doing?
They struggled for five minutes to get my large and limp body on the tarp and I growled and snarled constantly, putting them on edge. They gently dragged me out of my cage using the tarp and all the other workers quickly got out of their way, or mine more accurately.
"Where are they taking blue eyed Luci?" One of the workers wondered quietly to the man standing beside him.
"Auction or to the morgue, depending on if he gets brought or not." The man replied and I let out a scared whimper, catching Marshals attention who patted one of my large paws.
"I'm sorry Luci but the boss wants you gone." He explained and I meowed at him fearfully, I didn't want to be sold or to die. His gentle brown eyes softened at my cry and he looked close to tears, he shook his head and blinked them away as he continued to drag me with the other workers.
We reached an area that looked quite different from where my cage was. It still had cages but they were a lot smaller and filled with shifter pets like me. They watched me with wide eyes, some with fear and others with awe of a mixture of both. It was a large hallway, cages on each side and as we went the small cages got bigger, and so did the pet shifters inside.
We came near to the end of the line of cages and Juan let go of the tarp as we stopped and he unlocked a cage I would just be able to stand in and lay down, I didn't like my new cage. I growled at the cage and my paws twitched as I tried to move. They noticed and quickly pulled me into the cage, Marshal going in first as none of them dared to be in such a small space with me.
They gently set me down and tugged the tarp from beneath me and I meowed at Marshal as he climbed over my large and limp frame. He stopped and looked down sadly at me. "I'm sorry Luci." He apologised and squatted down in between my limp legs as I lay on my side and he stroked my dark and sleek fur. "All I can do is tell you to behave during the auction, if you get bid on you won't have to die." He advised me and I snuffed and managed to rub my head against his forearm that was placed not far from my head and he gasped, his breath catching in his throat and tears spilled from his eyes.
"I'm sorry." He sniffed and bend down to hug my middle and his tears soaked into my fur and I snuffed loudly. Turning my head to lick the moisture off his cheeks and startled gasps sounded from outside the cage.
"Seems the cat can feel empathy after all." The bosses voice spoke up and I growled at hearing his voice. "Oh hush Luci, say goodbye because whatever happens you won't be seeing the vet again." He warned and I meowed sadly, nuzzling Marshall's head with my own. He had been kind to me, I didn't want to leave him.
To my own shock and everyone else's I shifted into my human form, something I hadn't done in years and hugged Marshal with all the strength I had, which wasn't lot because the drugs were still in my system, although they were quickly wearing off. He hugged me back and Juan wolf whistled, causing the boss to chuckle.
"I agree, what a sight. You've grown into a handsome devil Luci. You shift for me at the auction and I can almost guarantee you'll get bid on." The boss spoke smoothly, too smoothly, he thought he'd get a pretty penny for me after all.
I cried into the crook of Marshall's shoulder, feeling strange in my human form. Well pet shifters could never look fully human, we still had the ears and tail of our animal, plus our eyes could never pass as human. Our teeth and claws also stayed sharp and our bodies reflected our animal, in size and body shape.
Marshal pulled away from me and looked down, his soft brown eyes still full of tears but they also held some hope. "Shift when asked at the auction Luci, do it for me ok? I don't want you to die." He asked of me and smiled sadly, running his fingers through the hair on my head, and scratching behind my small and rounded ears and I purred at the nice feeling. "Can you do that for me? Make me proud on that stage?" He requested and despite my better judgement I nodded my head a little and his smile widened and he hugged me tightly once more before exiting the cell and the door closed and locked behind him.
Unlike humans I never broke my promises. What had I just agreed to?
They all left and I was on my own, well aside from the hundreds of other pet shifters around me. I just laid there, my body slowly coming back under my control and a bad taste lingered in my mouth from the drugs. I languidly rolled over onto my front, still in human form and my fur-less body shivered as it pressed to the cold concrete. I pushed myself up into a sitting position and looked down at myself with curiosity and confusion. I looked so different. My short and robust limbs covered in soft human hair instead of fur, my chest still broad but two teats visible, with more dark hair and nestled between my bent backward legs was my member, it looked different in human form, not hidden by fur or a sheath.
I wiggled my strange human paws that were called feet and hands, they felt strange and awkward. I curled my tail around me and it gave me some reassurance that I was still me. I decided to shift back and sighed in relief as my fur protected me from the cold and hard ground. I curled up and decided to have a nap, sleeping off the drugs whilst I waited for the auction to begin.
"Hey Luci! Wake up!" Juan's annoying voice roused me from sleep and I glared up at him. "Ah ah ah Luci, you promised Marshal you'd behave." He reminded me and I grunted in annoyance and he smirked, holding out some thick chain and a pronged collar and I growled deeply. I didn't agree to that.
"I don't think so Juan." The boss hurried over in an expensive looking suit.
"But boss, how else am I going to control him?" He questioned and the boss sighed.
"He'll bite your arms off if you even try to get close to him with those." He informed and I snorted, damn right I would. "Use this." He ordered and handed over a fabric collar with a small plastic box on it.
"A shock collar? Really? That will just tickle him and piss him off." Juan argued. I rolled my eyes at their bickering and shifted.
"No collars." I spoke gruffly, my voice rough and thick due to not being used to making human sounds. They both turned to look at me, jaws to the floor and eyes wide. "Promised Marshal behave, no collar." I stated and the boss chuckled.
"You're just full of surprises today aren't you?" He mused. "You heard him, no collars." The boss told Juan who didn't look happy at all from his words.
"B-but boss." He started, glancing wearily at me.
"No buts, he promised and you know how seriously pets take their promises." The boss reminded him and Juan sighed defeatedly.
"Fine." He gave in and unlocked the door to my cage and the boss hurried away, probably to start the auction. I shifted back into my animal form, I doubted I could walk in human from. I let out air through my nostrils loudly, a deep sigh and Juan pulled the door open and I begrudgingly but obediently padded out of the cage. He shut it behind me and looked down at me cautiously. "Ok, stay at my side at all times, if I stop you stop, if I go you go, got it?" He asked and I nodded and with that he started to walk in the same direction the boss had gone and I went to walk a foot away from his left side, my front paws in line with his human legs.
We walked down the long hallway, other workers getting pet shifters out of their cages and collaring and putting leads on some of them. They stopped what they were doing when they saw us walk past. At their astonished looks Juan pulled his shoulders back and had a smirk on his lips, showing off that he had me waking obediently by his side without any type of restraint. I just rolled my eyes at the looks and the swagger in Juan's step.
"That's blue eyed Luci!" One of the workers whisper yelled. "He's going to auction?" The same sort of chatter followed in our wake and shifters and workers jumped out of our way at the sight of me coming their way, walking with cat like grace, my movements as fluid as liquid.
We turned right and headed down another long corridor, many workers with shifters at their sides and the few smaller ones in their arms, lining up for the auction on the left side of the wall. Juan carried on though and a wolf I walked past yelped in shock and fear, practically jumping into his workers arms. I just snorted and carried on.
We reached the front of the line and the boss was there chatting with a few well-dressed men and women. He stopped talking when he saw us approaching. "I thought I'd never see the day." He told me and I slowed to a stop when Juan did, sitting down in front of the boss.
"That's Luci?!' One of the well-dressed woman blurted. "Didn't he maul Rico?" She recounted correctly, I didn't like Rico.
"He came into his cage with a taser baton, that's asking for trouble." Juan declared and crossed his muscular arms.
"Yes but look at him now." The boss pointed out and they looked at me obediently sitting at Juan's feet, not even growling or restrained, but I was just keeping my promise to Marshal.
"How?" One of them wondered in disbelief.
"He knows what's at stake." Juan explained. That i did, I valued my life and had a promise to keep.
"The auctions about to start." The boss informed, looking down at his watch. "Juan, take him into room 2, I bet he's startled enough pets and keepers for today." He commanded and Juan nodded and headed down a corridor to the left which was filled with doors on both sides. He pushed open the first one on the right and I padded in. Finding a pile of straw in the corner of the small room and a chair by the door. Juan closed the door and took the seat and I walked over to the pile of straw and sniffed it. Finding it clean I sat down on it with a sigh, it was much more comfortable than the cold and hard floor.
Juan pulled his phone out of his pocket and played some game and I rested my eyes and waited for my turn to go on the stage and be auctioned off to some rich snob or sent to the gallows, or sent to the Colosseum if I was particularly unlucky.
I think the Colosseum was pretty self-explanatory, I would be made to fight to the death against other shifters for sport. I bet any Lanista would be thrilled to have me; a Lanista was the owner of a Ludus, one who bought, traded and trained shifters unlucky enough to be sent to the Colosseum. If I didn't get any bids at the auction a Lanista could approach the boss and ask to buy me for his Ludus, at a highly reduced price compared to being sold as a pet. But some money is better than none. The Lanista would then take me to his Ludus and would make me fight in his name at the Colosseum.