Tigris Claw huddled in the corner, away from the bright light that turned on. High heels clacked on the floor as a woman walked into the room, her name Starr St Angel. Her blue eyes glittered and her blonde hair shone. Her lipstick was a bit too red for anyone's liking.
She shot Tigris a smile that went unnoticed. It was that time again. The time for people to stare at her, ogle at what she was. She despised that. She always had. Today it was businessmen, with their suits and briefcases. A low growl rattled from Tigris's throat. Starr ignored her.
Tigris didn't listen to the talk Starr was giving, she didn't need to. She heard it every day and knew it from memory. Even before she was born, Tigris had been an experiment. She was a hybrid. There were several all over the world with multiple specimens in each facility - but Tigris was the only one in the UK.
Hybrids - or parahumans - were an experiment simply to see whether human-animal hybrids would work. It did.
Tigris was becoming more and more an animal every single day. When you're treated like an animal, that's what you become. Tigris was an interesting hybrid - part human and part white Chinese tiger.
Instead of nails, claws protruded from her long fingers. Her teeth were much longer than a human's and her canines were incredibly sharp. The hairs on her skin were much like that of a regular human, except for the colours. The white and black patterning that covered most of her body glinted dully.
Her eyes were a pale blue and, except for the pupil, consumed the whiteness. Her ears stuck up and twitched occasionally. Her tail whipped back and forth at all times. She was mainly humanoid in appearance, but her personality was animalistic by any standards.
Tigris was fierce when anyone got too close and preferred to be on her own all the time. She didn't like the playthings they used to throw her, so they stopped.
Tigris Claw didn't like to be with others - but she was lonely, always lonely. She didn't like the human company she got, but she would really have appreciated another tiger, or hybrid. She was bored, just thinking all day.
She was underfed too. None of the scientists liked Tigris Claw, bar one. Kalil Maith. He was her 'keeper', he fed her, washed her, played with her when she wanted to play. He was her only friend. He was on paternity leave. Kalil was a father. The realisation pulled her thin, black lips up in a smile. She hadn't smiled in weeks.
"It smiled," said one of the businessmen.
Tigris looked up at him. He wore a white suit - not black like the others - and didn't have a briefcase. His hair was black and cropped and his eyes were brown.
Her smile widened into a grin and she rolled over. Tigris wanted to play, for the first time in a long while. This man wasn't like the others. His eyes twinkled in the light cast from the bulb that was encased by a small metal cage. They thought she was stupid and was going to try and touch it.
“Does it understand?” he asked Starr.
“Of course not—”
“I am not ‘it’,” rumbled Tigris, “I am ‘she’.”
The colour dripped from Starr’s face as she realised that the experiment had understood every abusive word she’d ever said to it. She briefly wondered why it had never responded to her but the thought vanished as quickly as it had come. The businessman beamed at the unnatural combination of God’s creatures.
Without even looking at Starr, he said, “I’ll take her.”