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The Shapeshifter

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Brea stepped through the snow, her paws not making so much as a crunch on the fresh fallen blanket. The Shapeshifter was in her Saltumbra form, a kind of mix between a black wolf and a tiger, with the fluffy charcoal fur, ears, and body of the former, and the pitch black stripes, claws, tail, and size of the latter. The bright silver eyes she was infamous for swept around, ears twitching, always alert for threats. 

She felt unusually high strung, like she was waiting for something bad to happen. If any of her 1500 years in the run taught her anything, it was that she never got down time. From the murder of her first pack, to running from hunters, to the subsequent killing of her second pack, to being caught and put in a sick rendition of a zoo, and finally being sold, trained, and tortured into an assassin, then finding out her entire species had been wiped out, Brea never had a dull moment. And recently it has been suspiciously calm. 

She saw her current hideout on the horizon, in all of it's drab grey cement glory. She happened to find the abandoned HYDRA base smack-dab in the middle of Siberia when she was evading capture by a bunch of hunters. Everybody seemed to want to be the ones to catch Silver, though she couldn't blame them. Silver was well known for her ability to escape alarming situations after all. 

A clang of metal reverberating through the air brought her out of her thoughts. She could smell the faint scent of sweat and blood,  and heard the familiar clash of a fight. She almost sighed in exasperation. Were Shapeshifter hunters really sinking to petty squabbles over her pelt? Why couldn't they just leave her alone?

She smoothly shifted into her human form, a short fifteen years old girl with dirty blonde hair and a lithe runners build. Her leather catsuit she stole from some kidnappers a while back hid an array of various weapons. She was skilled in knives, swords, guns, and almost any household object. Her favorite, however, was archery. Her bow and quiver melted out of her fur, bringing a sense of calm that only those with her experience could feel. In this figure, she looked fairly ordinary, except for her pointed black tuffed ears and tail. And the fact that the average teenager wouldn't have over fifty different kinds of blades on their person.

Taking advantage of a Saltumbra's ability to melt into any shadow and the slowly darkening sky, she crept towards her home. The fighting had stopped, but she heard the mumble conversation.  She paused when four men walked out of the entrance, one in an all black cat costume complete with mask, leading another dressed in what appeared as the American flag. Captain America, her mind supplied, though what Captain America was doing all the way out here here in the armpit of Siberia, she didn't know. The man he was supporting looked very familiar however, but she couldn't recall who he was. She only knew he was almost as dangerous as her. The last man walked ahead of the group, and she could smell the smugness radiating off of him, even though he was shackled and being escorted by cat dude. They all shambled onward and disappeared into a fancy jet she  hadn't noticed before. She heard the whine of engines starting up, and the aircraft lifted into the sky before flying away.

Brea turned to enter the building herself, when she caught a whiff of another person. This one was not in good shape. They seemed to be surrounded by a lot of blood, and smelled muted, as if they were dying. She thought about simply leaving whoever it was there, but curiosity got the better of her. Silently, she crept through the bare hallways. When she passed the Cryo tanks, she paused. Someone had shot the bodies inside. They probably didn't realize the corpses were already dead. Whatever, it never hurts to  double down.

She quickened her pace when she heard labored breathing. It was raspy, and she could recognize the sound of a punctured lung. As she swept around the corner, she saw a metal suit collapsed on the ground. 

Brea was a trained assassin, and had witnessed several gruesome murders in her time. Heck, she had commited several gruesome murders in her time, yet her breath caught in her throat when she took in the scene. The paint job looked as though it had been put through the blender, and the suit was severely disfigured. There was a pool of blood underneath it slowly growing larger, reaching a familiar metal shield off to the side.

Circling out of his vision, she took in the state of the hunk of metal. The  limbs had several dents, some which were split open revealing the wires within. The faceplate was torn off, and Brea zoned in on where it was sticking out of the wall. The chest plate was absolutely decimated, a giant crack running through what Brea vaguely remembered being told was an arc reactor.

She approached Iron Man, careful to make her footsteps audible. He tensed as she drew near, an action she couldn't see, but could definitely hear. 

 "Come to finish the job?" He asked bitterly. "I'm completely defenseless, Rogers. Or maybe it's Barnes. Fuck if I know, fuck if I care." He broke down into a wet cough, making Brea since I'm sympathy. He managed to roll over enough to where he was able to spit out the blood that had collected in his lungs.

 "I am neither," she decided to reply. "They left a while ago."

 There was a pause. "You're HYDRA, aren't you.  Fuck off, shithead. The Vision and War Machine will be here soon. Friday got out a distress signal, and before you ask, no, I won't work for you," he spat, venom dripping from every word. 

 "I'm not with them either," Brea stated. "At least, not anymore. I'm here to help you." She moved into his line of sight, at the same time categorizing every injury. 

 "Shit, I'm dead aren't I? Cause you're like fifteen, and you have ears and a fucking tail. We're also in the asscrack of nowhere. I'm dead. Shit, Pep's gonna kill me. Wait I already am dead. She's going to bring me back, then kill me again." Brea was impressed he was still concious, let alone coherent enough to babble like he was. 

 "You're not dead yet," she said. "But you will be if I can't get this suit off. Manual release switches?" She kept her voice emotionless, unwilling to allow him to get a read on her.

 "Armpit, elbow, wrist, kneepit, ankle," Stark said, as if reciting a grocery list. "Careful, the metal's embedded some places."  Brea pressed each point, and heard the latches unlocking. Satisfied she could get him out, she then reached behind her and pulled a rag out of a hidden pocket on her calf.  When he saw the cloth, he narrowed his eyes. 

 "What's that?" he drawled casually, doing a pretty good job covering his suspicion. Brea kept her blank mask on, but inwardly rolled her eyes.

 "Anesthesia. Unless you want me to remove you while you are fully aware?"

 Stark flinched hard. "Yeah, preferably not. You sure it will work? Last time I woke up halfway through open heart surgery." He made the remark flippant, but Brea could hear the fear through it. 

 "I am ninety eight point two percent positive you will remain unconscious," she said.

 "Okay, whatever," he said, trying to hide his tension of the other one point eight percent.

 "Good night, Mr. Stark." Without hesitaion, she pressed the rag over his face  with an invisible wince as the chloroform anesthetic took over, the cloth decreasing his already compromised breathing. When she was sure he was out, she peeled the suit off of him. Multiple lacerations and bruises marred his skin. His face was pale, and a black eye was already forming. His arm was bent at an odd angle, the bone causing an unusual bump through the skin. His pupils were unevenly dilated when she checked. She knew sleeping so soon was extremely dangerous, but she needed him to be placid enough to treat. His chest area specifically looked like it had been shoved through a steam roller. Immediately, she knew her healing abilities would not be enough.

Brea set to work stabilizing the man, trying not to jostle him too much as she moved him to her 'living room', gently placing him on the matress. She ran to one of the labs and got some leaves she had collected last time she was in South America. She mashed them in a bowl, and selected a few herbs, chewing them in her mouth. The herbs joined the concoction, and aided with the healing properties of Shapeshifter saliva, she hoped it would be enough to help Stark stay alive long enough for his comrades to come. She slathered the paste on his skin, careful around the mutilated chest. Once finished, she brought the shield closer to him and set some wood in it.

Brea covered Stark with a thick blanket she had taken from one of her many capturers, and set the logs in the shield on fire. After making sure nothing would immediately cause disaster, she went back outside. Within five minutes she had caught two rabbits. Brea skinned them and set them on the fire to roast.

When the rabbits were done, she boiled some snow and added the flesh to make some sort of stew. She woke up Stark just long enough to force some of the broth down his throat, before he passed out again. Brea scarfed down the rest of the meal as fast as she could, a habit she picked up from being on the run after the murder of her original pack. The skill came in handy, especially during her stay at the Zoo, when she would get her food taken away if she didn't eat quick enough.

Hunger satisfied, Brea noticed Stark was shivering even under the heavy quilt. She shifted back into her main beast form, the large Saltumbra wrapping herself around the half frozen man. He immediately relaxed, but not before a small whimper escaped his lips from being moved. Brea felt her heart twinge, and anger bubble up in the back of her throat. Whatever Tony Stark had done to encourage any anger from Captain America, there was no way it was deserving of such a beating. 

She watched over him for hours through the night, always following the slightest noise. He had a nightmare at one point in time, the movement causing his pain to flare up. The pain only pushed him further into a panic attack, but Brea was patient. She had had her fair share of panic attacks, they weren't fun. She allowed him to thread his finger through her fur, and she licked his hair flat until he settled back down again.

 It wasn't until early morning and seven nightmares later that his friends arrived. Instead of War machine, however, it was a slim armour, probably meant for a female. They looked around for her briefly but Brea was excellent at staying out of sight. 'Saltumbra means Shadowleaper, little one. One with the shadows, that's what you are.' 'Really mama?' 'Of course, my pup. You are special.' They gave the search quickly, more focused on getting Stark medical help. They collected the armor and shield, and placed the poor man on a stretcher. Before they left, the one called Vision stopped in the doorway.

 "Whoever you are," he said, seemingly confident she would hear him. " I would like to thank you for your kind deeds. If you ever require assistance, I shall be there. "

With that, he and the other took off into the dawn, unaware of the girl watching them with a smile.