The weather forcast said the weekends would be sunny without a single percent chance for a drop of rain. Marinette was relieved that the weatherman had not been lying. The Miraculous Team waited all week for clear skies to finally go on the hiking trip. All except Chloe was excited for it of course.
Alya thought a short hike through the mountains would be a great way to ease some of the building tension from fighting Akuma's, since a certain villian did not know when to quit. Marinette was a bit apprehensive about being away from city areas where Akuma's like to appear, but her body was dying for some kind of reprieve.
"Do you have everything?" Tikki's high-pitched voice asked, as she fluttered around her choosen's head.
"A-almost." Marinette ran to and fro in her room to make sure she gathered every last bit of gear she needed.
"Darling, Chloe is here!" Her mother called from the bakery.
After one last check around, Marinette bolted out the room as Tikki dives into her bag. Luck was clearly not on her side despite being Ladybug, as she trips on the last step; sending her flying.
"Ah!" She screams, and clenches her eyes as she braces for the impact. Instead of crashing onto solid floor, she lands safely into massive arms that practically take up her entire body.
"Whoa there! If you're falling over stairs I worry how you will manage on a trail covered in rocks, and roots waiting for you to sprain your ankle on." Tom said as he gently sets his daughter on her feet.
"Sorry papa, I'm just excited. It's been so long since I've been hiking."
"Oh I remember. You were an itty bitty little croissant back in China when you went on your first hike." He laughed as he remembered some of the embarrassing moments that happened during that trip, that Marinette would rather bury to the farthest corners of her mind. Left to be forgotten forever. Atleast until her papa indirectly forces her to relive the memory of every creek she fell into.
She was sure she heard supressed giggles coming from her Kwami; probably already imagining all the sorts of trouble her curse to forever have two left feet caused her.
'Well it's nice to know not even my own Kwami thinks to spare me from my embarrassment. So much for two years of friendship...' She thinks glumly.
After a quick kiss to her parents she walks out, and is greeted by the rest of her friends.
"Well it's about time." Chloe huffed.
"You sure you got everything you need, girl?" Alya mocked as she eyed the large bag Marinette effortlessly carried. The perks of working in a bakery, and being a part time super heroine.
"Yup! I got bug spray, a knife, fire starter kit, medic kit, four pairs of clothing, two weeks worth of perserved food for everyone, food from the bakery, and-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, dude. We'll only be gone for a few hours. By time we get back home there will still be daylight."
"I just wanted to make sure we're prepared for every possible way something could go wrong." Marinette pouted.
"Don't worry Lovebug. Your loyal feline is here, and will do whatever it takes to purrtect you." Adrien says with a large grin as he flexes his muscles. Everyone groaned at the pun, except Marinette who softly giggled.
Ever since her and Adrien discovered each others superhero personas they started dating. Which leads to her having to suffer listening to every cat pun he can think of 24/7. She'd be lying if she said it hasn't grown on her.
"Okay let's get this dreadful trip on the road." Chloe clapped to get everyone's attention. Despite Chloe's distast for the nature outings she did look forward to the trip with her friends.
They all loaded into the limousine with Adrien guiding her with a hand on the small on her back. The ride there was uneventful. They teased and talked with one another. It was still very early in the morning, so there wasn't any traffic along the way. The drive was a couple hours, but once they reached their destination it was all worth it.
"Wow." The group said breathlessly as they gazed at the mountains in the distance. They were tall, and covered in lush green grass. The very peaks looked like it reached to kiss the sky. Trees covered the area around them, and you can make out the dirt trail leading deeper into the forest. Adrien in particular was beginning to feel a bubble of excitement.
"Alright!" Adrien pumped his fist. "Let's get exploring!"
"You would be the one most excited out of all of us." Nino mocked.
"How did you convince your father to let his precious sunshine go out with all the bears just waiting to eat you." Alya laughed as she tossed out more than half of what Marinette packed. Her ptotests went unheard.
"First of all, there's no bears. Secondly, I just had to convince him it'll bring up the quality of my photoshoots if I get out for awhile."
"It's about time." Chloe rolled her eyes. "Who wants to spend the whole summer break looking pretty for a camera? I wouldn't mind the attention, but even I need a break now and then."
With that the team set out on the trail.
Alya and Marinette took all sorts of pictures of wildlife, and beautiful scenery. While Chloe counted to see how long Nino could hold his breath. She cut it off at 10 minutes, since Wayzz informed that the turtle miraculous gave him the ability to stay under water for a long period of time. Much to the groups surprise.
As time went on, Adrien found himself more detached. Plagg picked up on this, and left the other Kwamis to speak with his choosen.
"What's up kid?" Plagg asked as he settled onto Adrien's shoulder. The two strayed some ways behind the group as they played with the fish in the water, oblivious to what's brewing a few feet away.
"I just. I feel so detached, but at the same time focused. Like I'm looking for something, but don't know what." He looked away worryingly, sniffing the air.
Plagg's eyes gleamed in mischief, and a fanged smile creased his whole face.
"It's about time you graduated from a kitten, to a full blown apex predator."
"Kid, your hunting instincts are kicking in. It's all part of the black cat miraculous. Did you think there's only alley cats in the world?"
Adrien should have felt queasy about killing an animal, but instead he felt ecstatic and eager. Plagg noticed his change, and would be dammed if he didn't guide his kitten to making his first kill while on this trip. Who knows when the next time his overbearing father will allow him another chance like this. Plagg had to make the most of it.
"I have never hunted with a gun before, and we don't have one with us."
"Ah, don't worry about that. Just turn into Chat Noir. You have fangs and claws for a reason." Plagg waved away his concerns nonchalantly.
"I'll be even worse as Chat Noir!" Adrien exclaimed as he threw his hands up in exasperation.
"I got that covered. The Chat Noirs in the past sometimes lived in jungles, and were formidable hunters. Also, I'll be able to connect with you while you're transformed to guide you." He reinsured.
"I feel like I am going to fail my first hunt..." Adrien said, as he looked down sadly.
Plagg floated up to eye level, and talked with a level of certanity that shocked his choosen.
"You are a kitten, and are bound to make mistakes, but you are not alone. Trust me, Kid. You WILL make a worthy kill, and I'll go home the proudest I have been in a long time." Green cat eyes bore into green human eyes, and Adrien found himself determined by the declaration.
"Alright, I'll make you proud and become a big cat!"
Plagg smiled warming. Adrien's father has always been distant, and puts so much pressure on his choosen. Between terribly long photoshoots, and having to see his kitten's fake smile plastered all over Paris; to many pointless extracurricular activities, and Adrien does it all without complaint. All, so his father could be proud, but never get to hear the words, 'I'm proud of you, son.' The thought pricked Plagg's fur for a split second.
Adrien called on his transformation, once again becoming Chat Noir.
'I have always been proud of you kid. After today, I'll be even prouder.'
Chat couldn't hear Plagg, but felt a sense of warmness and accomplishment settle within him. He took a moment to relish in the feeling.
The flash of green caught the attention of the rest of the group.
"Is everything okay, Adrien? Is there danger around?" Marinette asked with concern lacing her voice.
"There's no trouble. I'm just going to move along. Dont worry, I won't stray far." Chat smiled, and vered off the trail out of sight.
Marinette moved to get out the water, but was pulled back by Nino.
"Let him have his time. He'll tell you if anything is wrong."
She relented, and went back into the water with her friends.
Chat Noir felt like he belonged here. Walking on fours, and the feeling of his claws lightly digging into the dirt with every step felt new, but also familiar to him. It was uncomfortable to run on all fours on the concrete buildings, because it pushed his claws uncomfortably. So, he rarely ran on fours unless he needed a quick burst of speed when fighting Akumas. He was walking loudly at first, but he's mind, and body strangely adapted to be more aware of where he walked. Probably Plagg instructing him.
There was another shift inside of him. He put his nose in the air, and began sniffing his surroundings. The world around him was more earthy, but a lot cleaner. It was far different from the industrial smell of cars and factories he'd come to hate so much with his sensitive nose. Chat hardly focused on smell back home, but he could detect some familiar scents.
"Squirrel. Bird. Rabbit." He could hunt those, but they weren't a worthy prey.
He flared is nostrils, inhaling deeply.
"Raccoon." The size was getting bigger, but not quite there.
Then a strange smell hit him. Chat expertly crossed a massive log in one leap, and noticed two curved marks parallel to each other, and a point under each curve imbedded in the ground. He practically pushed his face into the soft dirt to get a better smell, as his tail curled pleasantly at the new discovery.
"Whatever made this is clearly a herbivore, and big based on the size on the tracks." He inhaled again. "It smells strong. Must be very recent." Chat felt warmth again, as Plagg displayed how pleased he was of the cat's observation.
Chat Noir carefully analyzed the ground, and noticed a few more sets of tracks that looked simular to the ones he found.
"A small herd." At a closer inspection he noticed the same hoof prints, but smaller. "They have young." He felt Plagg's excitement bubble over onto him, and couldn't help the frantic flicks of his tail.
Chat charged forward to catch up to his quarry while focusing on the tracks to make sure he didn't confuse it for another animal, and much more careful now to not make noise.
After roughly 15 minutes he heard some grunting overhead. He slowed his movements, and crouched as low as he could to the ground. Belly just barely grazing the forest floor. He peeked through an openkng, and saw a group of five deers, and a fawn. Its legs was long, and standing tall without much issue. Possibly a year or so old. He was relieved there was no males currently in the group, and the adult deers looked too strong to take down, but that fawn on the other hand...
He suddenly felt a wave of discomfort, guessing it's Plagg reprimanding him. Why? Chat looked around his surroundings, and realized the problem. He was out in the open. Thankfully the deers had their faces in the tall grass, and Chat Noir's black suit kept him hidden in the shadows. If one were to look up in his direction the prey would be long gone in an instant.
He kept low to the ground, and painfully slowed his movements to keep from alerting the herd as he made his way into denser vegetation. His suit blended in with the darkness within the bushes, while his green piercing eyes disappeared within the green plants. The energy dashing around in him made Chat restless.
Plagg continued to hold him back, but allowed his choosen to slowly creep closer to the herd. After a long process the deers were none the wiser to the hunter a few feet away.
Time to wait for the perfect moment.
The Miraculous team long since finished playing in the river, and continued on the path.
"I can't stop worrying about my kitty. Did I do something wrong?" Marinette lamented.
"Don't worry Marinette. Plagg just took Adrien out for a special lesson." Tikki said.
"Really, what is it?"
The Kwamis instead exchanged knowing looks.
"Let's just say it's a neccessary step for the bond between Plagg and his choosen." Wayzz said crptically.
"He certainly will grow from this. Not on the level of queen like me, but he will graduate from a little kitten to a force to be recon with. I have faith in his ability, and Plagg's help." Pollen said.
"Oooo I'm so excited to see how he does. Foxes are known to be cleaver and sneaky as well. I wish I could have shown him the ropes." Trixx gushed.
"You have Alya." Tikki pointed out.
"Yeah, but she wouldn't be interested in those kinds of lessons."
Alya gaped at her Kwami. "What lessons?!"
"What lessons are you talking about?" Trixx asked with deceptively innocent eyes, but Alya knew better.
"The one Adrien is on right now."
"I don't know what you're talking about." The Kwami couldn't fight the wicked smirk. She knew how much it drives her choosen crazy to not be in on a secret.
"Fine! I'll just go find him myself." She begins to stomp away to find Adrien, but is stopped when all the Kwamis fly up to her face.
"That's a very unwise choice Alya. If you interrupt his lesson not only will you have a very angry black cat after you, but also a very angry black cat Kwami. You will see the end results when he's finished." Wayzz advised.
Alya reluctantly backed down, and the friends continued along the path; exchanging glances between one another over the Kwami's cryptic conversation.
They managed to forget the strange ordeal, and enjoyed the hiking. Chloe even stopped complaining, and was enjoying herself. Everything was relaxing until they entered a large clearing with a small herd of deers along the edges.
"Wow, you don't see deers in the city." Nino commented.
"Girl, let's go take a few pictures. That baby deer looks absolutely adorable with those white spots." She gushed.
Alya and Marinette steadily got closer, and all the deers lifted their heads in their direction. The Kwamis remained some ways away, and Trixx's tail whipped side to side anticipating the chaos waiting to happen.
"Poor Marinette is going to be so traumatized..." Tikki sighed over her choosen.
"I guess even Tikki's good luck can't override the bad luck that seems to persist on your choosen." Pollen said non-caringly.
"It is rather unfortunate." All the Kwamis nodded in agreenent to Wayzz as they morned Marinette.
Nino and Chloe couldn't help the slight worry at their Kwami's words.
When Chat Noir noticed the deers heads go up in alarm he cursed mentally thinking he gave his position away. Instead of facing him, the deers were gazing towards Marinette and Alya. A snarl almost tore through his throat, but he managed to swallow it down. He lifted up his haunches in preparation to take off before his target runs off from the sight of his friends. He's again stopped by Plagg to wait just a bit longer. He concedes with nervousness settling like a stone in the pit of his stomach.
Chat doesn't take his slited eyes off the fawn, and gets more restless as time goes on. Certain that they will flee at any moment. In sudden shock that nearly gives him whiplash, the deers turn their head back towards the ground to graze. He noticed the flashing of cameras, but the deers paid no mind.
'They must be use to seeing hikers.' He thought to himself, holding in a relieved breath.
Plagg urges him to charge, and Chat could feel his claws probing the ground, and every muscle coiled painfully like a spring. He holds his breath, and the spring snaps.
The group screams when the deers suddenly bolt around in a panic.
Chat Noir charges directly towards the center where the fawn resided. In the rush the deers spaced out greatly, leaving the young to run awkwardly by itself. Every tendon pumps, and his breaths come out in short pants as he alarmingly closes the distance. The fawn finally gets into the rhythm, but before its speed could build up; Chat Noir's claws hook onto its leg, sealing its fate with a fall. The fawn tumbled before being roughly pinned down by the black cat.
Plagg's excitement was bursting within Chat, as he digs his claws into his prey, and clamps four long fangs around its windpipe.
Strained high-pitched bellows ring out, but none of the herd perceived its call being long gone. Dirt and grass was kicked up as the fawn thrashed to get a proper kick into its assailant while on its side. Despite the young's efforts not even the sharp points on the end of each hoof was enough to scratch the black armor.
After a few moments of straining to keep constant pressure on its throat, Chat felt the fawn's heart slow to a stop while his pounded against his ribs. He relinquishes his hold, and feels unrestrained pride like never before.
When he gets his breathing under control he moves the body onto its back. Chat begins to bite away the short, soft hairs. Once a decent amount of the skin underneath was exposed, he used his sharp claws to tear open the stomach cavity. The group pales then turn green at the sight of guts and blood gushing out. Chat Noir moves away the guts, careful to not puncture it, and pulls out the liver and kidneys. Just when the increasingly sick teens thought it couldn't get any worse, Chat shoves his hands into the chest, and rips out his blood covered claws, revealing the still heart.
Chloe promptly rushes off to vomit. Everyone else was too frozen to do anything else.
Chat clutches the bloody organs to his chest protectively, while dragging the emptied carcass by the neck with his teeth over to the group. More specifically, Marinette.
She jerks in realization when Chat drops the remains at her feet, and he disappears into the shadows to cook his spoils.
"I'm so proud of him!" Trixx squealed. The teens all twist their necks to look dumbfoundedly at the Kwami's outburst.
"You were right. I wouldn't like that lesson." Alya said as her voice trembled. Her phone long forgotten on the ground.
Everyone jumps to a sudden thump, and sees Marinette face first on the forest floor.
"I'll take care of her." Tikki sighed over her choosen. She couldn't imagine how pleased Plagg must be right now.
After the trip the remains of the fawn was taken to a butcher, and donated to food charities. Chat was a little more than peeved that Marinette didn't eat it herself, but he couldn't blame her.
The team was still stressed when the next Akuma hit, but Chat moved fluently without a care in the world, and effortlessly caught the Akuma with his new skills.
Rena Rouge, Carapace, Queen Bee, and Ladybug all vowed to never go hiking ever again.