#LigerBane authors Chelsea Fine, Ella James, Amanda Havard, Brina Courtney, Heather Hilenbrand, and L.M. Davis
We had so much fun playing Story Frenzy at utopYAcon, we decide to continue the party on Twitter. #FrenzyFridays was unleashed every Friday through the month of August 2012.
Like Story Frenzy from UtopYA, plot points, characters and other open ended details were delivered via prompts on Twitter (#ligerbane #prompt) to move the story along. Each writer had a chance to contribute to each prompt in 140 characters and then pass it on to the next person in line by tagging them in the tweet.
It’s a crisp, fall afternoon in the year 2093. Xander, who is from an old family of were-hyenas, receives a long awaited invitation in the mail: an afternoon birthday party to celebrate his 21st birthday. The invitation is from his ex-girlfriend Evangeline, and he goes to the house with mixed emotions. Xander wears a scar on his handsome face from their last encounter. He doesn’t know if he wants to see her again.
Evangeline is a soldier back from the war who always wears a metal breast plate. She is a were-liger and is trying to clear Xander’s name. She hasn’t told him he might become a were-liger.
Xander goes to the party bearing a gift for the host, pressed on him by an animal rights activist named Diana. It’s cream of tomato basil soup. Xander presents the soup to Evangeline’s grandfather who is hiding a secret about his granddaughter. She isn’t his by blood. She was kidnapped as a child, and is being used as a weapon in the war. Before he can reveal the truth, he is poisoned by the cream of tomato basil soup. The poisoned soup was intended for Evangeline.
At the party, Evangeline and Diana compete for Xander’s attention. In 2093, Diana’s role is to prevent the were-wars that keep happening. She believes that liger/humans go against nature.
At the moment Xander turns twenty-one, he is expected to turn into a were-hyena like everyone in his family, but he is infected from Evangeline’s scratch, and turns into a were-liger instead.
Can Xander come to terms with his new species? How will his family handle it? Is Diana interfering in his relationship only because she wants him, or is there something more? And, what is the war about? How is Evangeline a weapon, and who / what is she fighting for? Now that he’s a were-liger, what side will Xander be fighting for?
Week One Recap
After the shocking dinner in which Xander, her love, turns into a wereliger instead of a werehyena, thanks to the poisons of Evangeline, Diana runs from the party carrying a terrible secret. She is pregnant with Xander’s child. Distraught over what kind of creature she could be carrying in her womb and strapped by the guilt of killing Evangeline’s grandfather inadvertently Diana goes into hiding and completely cuts off contact from Xander.
SIX MONTHS LATER
Diana finds herself alone giving birth to a child she hopes she can love but knows she will fear.
Meanwhile Xander has been arrested, tried and sentenced to death for the war crime: killing Grandpa. Today is execution day! Off with his head!!
Xander is out of his mind with grief because he shifted into a liger instead of a hyena. Even his own family wants him dead. But they won’t settle for any simple execution. They have a special kind of torture that they reserve just for ligers.
When his mother dies Diana decides it’s a good time for him to meet his son and she pulls Xander aside to introduce him to little Leon who looks suspiciously like a were-cow.
Xander abandons Diana and Leon and vows to win Evangeline back. If Xander saves her then perhaps she will forgive him for the baby.
Leon is allergic to tomato soup, as are his ancestors. Diana, who believes he is an abomination tries to kill him by feeding him some after realizing that the baby won’t bring Xander back to her. BUT Evangeline saves the little tyke showing her true love for Xander even though it’s another woman’s baby.
With the baby in her arms, Evangeline travels back to Xander’s ancestral home where the were-hyenas have Xander in their clutches. A storm has destroyed an amulet, an important family heirloom. Evangeline knows she has something the were-hyenas need. The babe in her arms carried a powerful secret in his genetic code and she can use it to bargain for Xander’s life.
The baby’s blood can make were-creatures invincible–a power the were-hyenas would gladly hand Xander over for. Evangeline feels hopeful about her bargaining power, until she reaches the were-hyenas and finds herself trapped! Without anywhere to turn, she clings to the baby for dear life, she will die saving this child. Cradling him in her arms she narrowly escapes the tunnels of the hyenas lair but not before she hears that Xander will come for her. He knows that she is the one for him, no matter what (or who) will come for them and he shows up after searching far and wide for her, his true love. When Xander sees Evangeline, he kisses her full on! They feel her liger blood pumping through their veins! But there is a child to contend with, one wiser than he appears. Baby Leon is Evangeline’s grandfather back from the dead. Upon realizing this, Diana wants the child back in her evil clutches. She will do anything to take down her now enemies, Evangeline and Xander.
What once was lust was now only pain and revenge.
Week Two Recap:
Lurking in the shadows was an enemy no one could have guessed: Taurus, the new leader of the werecows, the quiet herd who have been waiting for peak instability among the werehyenas and wereligers.
The leader of the werecows was Norman who always carried a battleaxe. After centuries of being at the mercy of the hyenas and ligers, the werecows were ready to reign. They had patiently waited for the prophecy of the “Chosen Cow” to come to pass in the form of baby Leon.
Now Evangeline and Xander needed to protect the baby from the werecows, who would do anything to have him. But with Xander weakened from his imprisonment and the torture he endured, he doesn’t know if he can stand against Taurus’s battleaxe.
“The imprisoned father will be easy to defeat. I shall cut his throat with my axe and steal our cowbaby back,” said Taurus to his werecow followers. “There is rumor he was born of a noncow.” Murmurs erupt from his men. “We do not know where he’s from. But he is ours!” The words rang out in the night. A few rolled their eyes at Taurus’s melodrama.
“Can we start this war already?” Taurus’ second in command asked.
”Yeah!” chimed in the others. “We brought our battleaxes and everything.”
While Taurus and the werecow ranks were distracted, Norman escaped to Xander and Evangeline. They hid Leon til they realized Norman was there to help.
Taurus stormed their hiding place only to find them gone. Frustrated, he drew his hand through jet-black curls, displaying his golden pecs.
Meanwhile, Norman helped Xander, Evie and little Leon escape to the only place they’d be safe: a farm filled with REGULAR cows and hyenas and ligers. The farm reminds Ev and X of their 1st meeting when they were just 14. They were at a summer camp learning about their animal selves. She’d heard his maniacal hyena cackle from across the pond. It called to her. From that moment on she would always say that before she’d laid eyes on him, Evie fell in love with his laugh.
Responding to X’s cackle, she roared into the night and made her way across the pond.
Finally, she saw him with his head thrown back, laughing at the moon. He was the most handsome, hairy, werehyena she’d ever seen. And, at shifter camp, she’d seen a LOT of werehyenas. In fact he was beautiful. Not really beautiful, but the kind you think is beautiful at 14. Xander had a soft smile you think you could love, spiky hair a deep voice and wide shoulders. He had a great smile to go along with his incredible laugh. Due to her grumpy militaristic childhood. Evangeline’s laugh had rarely been heard before shifter camp, where she learned it was her secret weapon. When X began to tickle her, it caused Xander’s heart to melt and he immediately fell for her. There’s nothing sexier than a were-giggle.
It was a summer later when the two shared their first kiss. After Ev had a brush up with a liger, X found himself sick with worry. He crept towards her cabin at midnight. She had been confined there for two days. He had to see her, to hear her laugh.
He knocked on the door. She answered it, wearing the same shirt he wore the day they found each other again just a few years ago. It was pink, X’s favorite color. It matched her laugh and he was hooked. He leaned in and touched her face breathing in her musky scent, a growl lead his kiss.
The same growl he made when he kissed her now as they got to the farm, a sleeping Leon on her chest. Theyd come so far since then.
She was the same though. Beautiful, smart, and incredibly brave. “We’ve got to get the farmhouse and we’ll be safe. There’s nothing that can tear us apart. We’re in this together now,” he said.
She laughed, “You were also in it with Diana.”
That fact tore him apart inside. How could he have hurt his sweet Ev?
“How did it happen?” Evangeline asked fiercely.
Xander thought over what to admit. The truth — that his pull toward Diana had been magnetic — seemed too cruel to tell Evangeline.
Evangeline was his childhood; his entire life it seemed. He’d never even looked at another girl.
But Diana was lightning.
Week Three Recap
Even their meeting was a one in a million chance.
Diana was staging an animal rights protest in front of a cosmetic company that was testing lipstick on bunnies. The memory always amused Xander because Diana had the reddest, boldest lips he’d ever seen.
Di accidentally smacked X in the face with the “I <3 Bunnies" protest sign she'd been violently waving in the street. The sign left a gash on his forehead. He stumbled, taken aback, but impressed with her strength. Who knew bunny lovers could be so dangerous? It should have been a warning but he'd always been a sucker for powerful gals.
Bleeding, he took a good look at his assailant: A shock of white-blonde hair, cheeks pink, and those fiery lips he'd never forget. She was a curvy woman with purple horn-rimmed glasses who always wore five-inch heels. But she was still significantly shorter than X, he felt like she was a little thing he could fit in his pocket.
Immediately his wound begin to heal. He tried to get away, knowing that his super fast healing would only cause questions. As blood soaked the fabric, he distracted Di with his witty banter. "With a swing like that, you could join the were-wars."
But Di wasn't interested in his words, she was far more captivated by what lie beneath the rest of his shirt. She blushed sweetly.
And then the wound vanished.
"You're one of them?" she hissed.
He knew right then that the pint-sized spitfire would never be easy in any sense of the word. What he couldn't expect was the duality of her feelings: part hate, part magnetic attraction.
It was the magnetic attraction that had him grabbing a protest sign. "We can save the world TOGETHER, one bunny at a time."
"I don't think we need any of your kind here. But there's this thing at a lab next week, maybe you should try coming to that."
Though he'd been dismissed, X couldn't leave. He watched her protest, mesmerized by her passionate chants. Then, the next week he came to find her at the lab. He hung back and watched as she led a session on the dangers of were-creatures. Clearly, his kind made her skin crawl. It should have been enough. His fascination should have died then and there.
But how could it die? He felt something new, and he wasn't willing to let it go.
After her speech, she approached him. "What did you think?" she asked with a smug air.
Xander smiled. "I think we can discuss that over coffee."
He saw it in her face: mingled attraction & revulsion. She licked her lips and the air left the room.
"Yes." Her voice was husky.
He followed her, and eventually they did get coffee. They hashed out all her hatred of the were-creatures, and X listened, intrigued by her arguments. He'd always been shielded by his elders, brought up without seeing people's opposition to his kind. So what he saw in Diana was sharp but it was exciting: What else did she know about the world that he didn't?
And that's what she became to him. A woman who showed him a world he'd never seen before A world that even Evangeline could not share. It was intoxicating…addicting. He could not get enough of her.
Xander never knew it, but Diana and Evangeline met in the time that he and Ev were apart. at a fundraiser for "genetic research." In Diana's animal activism world in the 2090s, that meant investigating ways to eradicate were-creatures.
Evangeline and several other prominent wereligers were there in defiance. The two girls' interaction was less than pleasant as Diana was leading the charge to have were creatures segregated from the larger society. With each speech she was escalating tensions between weres and non-weres. Ev and her family watched the woman closely. She was a danger to every right-minded shifter. And their interaction did not end that night.
Knowing something had to be done about the tiny but loud activist, Ev went one day to Diana's protest headquarters to show her that not every were was as she feared.
She froze in her tracks when Xander walked out of the building, his hand locked in Diana's. Neither saw Evangeline.
For Ev, that day changed everything. After that, she lost a bit of her fight. If Diana could be with Xander, then she wasn't all bad. And if Xander had moved on then she wasn't going to interfere further in his life by sharing her secret. He'd find out if he had to, as she'd only recently come to know.
She turned away from the headquarters, tears stinging her eyes and almost bowled over a huge man. Her vision cleared to see him tall and handsome, but by his scent, she knew he was a liger like her.
She looked back one last time at Diane and Xander, and then to the stranger in front of her. And she wondered how quickly allegiances — and and her heart — could shift.
Week Four Recap:
Last time. Evangeline watched Diana and Xander walk away holding hands. Crying, she spots the beautiful Julio. And this is what happens to them.
The mystery man was Julio,The Latin Liger. He waslight on his feet and looked good in polyster button-ups. Ev could not resist. But Julio had a temper.
“Are you okay, bonita?” His voice had a soft lilt from his native Brazil. He caught her arm as she stumbled backward. “I’m fine,” she stuttered, but Julio didn’t buy it. “Did someone hurt you?” His eyes flashed as he looked around. She was a liger princess and deserved to be cherished and protected at all times. If anyone had dared to harm her, he would cut off their were-parts and feed them to the were-cows. They were his hired mercenaries after all. and they’d eat anything.
But their love was not to be. He held Ev’s attention but not her heart. And when she went back to X Julio vowed to kill him!
Morning broke over the farm where X, Ev, and Leon were in hiding. Evie watched the sunrise and wondered which would catch up to them first: Julio’s anger or the were-war forces tailing them? Little did they know that the two were one and the same.
At that very moment, Taurus and Julio planned their next move.
“You can have the baby and kill the man,” Julio said, his face dark with passion and rage. “The woman is mine.”
“Easier said then done,” Taurus admitted. Cousins, they shared the same fierce good looks. Sun-kissed skin and coal black curls.
Julio had been spying on X for months, trying to figure out the best way to hit him where it hurt. Leon was the answer. But as soon as he saw Evie holding Leon — not even her child! — against her chest, he wondered if what hurt X would also hurt her. Impulses warred inside him. He needed to destroy the man who had stolen his woman, but could he–if it would destroy her too? Julio’s temper won out and he ordered the werecows to attack. Taurus readied the army and charged. X and Ev ran for their lives!
Norman, Taurus’ opposing werecow leader, had one move to keep them safe.
North of the farm, he knew of an old, neutral werehyena who harbored a power that could help them escape. They ran north, using the trees for cover.
The werecows closed in on them.
At once, Ev knew they wouldn’t escape. Clutching Leon, she whirled around to face their pursuers. “I will die before I let you have him.”
Julio saw the protective fire in her eyes. He knew then that he could never do it.
“Stop!” he bellowed at the werecows who charged, brandishing battleaxes.
Julio leaped in front of the axe and took the blade in his own chest, saving Ev. “Ay Carumba!” he cried as he fell. Taurus and men faltered in confusion. Ev dropped to the ground and held Julio to her chest. “You had me at Hola,” she wept.
“We have to stop the fighting,” he whispered. “If anyone can do it, Evangeline, it’s you.” Then his eyes went blank. He was gone. Taurus was stricken, as he watched his cousin die in Evangeline’s arms, his own battleax buried in his chest. Slowly, rage grew.
Week Four Recap And Conclusion
Evangeline went to see Gepetto the neutral were- hyena. She wished he would make Leon a real boy so the clans will stop fighting over him. After explaining her dilemma to Gepetto, Ev begged for his assistance with the little werecow.
Gepetto agreed, but with a warning, “There is a chance the child won’t survive the transformation. Are you willing to risk it?”
Ev looked down at the baby who, though not her flesh and blood, felt like her own son. Tears stung her eyes. She knew the choice was difficult, and that the risk was potentially unjust. But even if he might not survive it, wasn’t this still his best chance? Wasn’t he in just as much danger living as a war-torn were-child as he would be risking his life to turn human? She wiped away her tears and handed baby Leon to Gepetto.
Unfortunately, the spell went terribly wrong and Leon gets left constantly in his were form. The only way he can transform back to human is if he finds someone to love him for who he is as a were.
Ev accepted his new form, and their fate; that she and Xander will have to hide and protect Leon for entire his childhood because no one else could love a monster like him. Leon’s castle was in a deserted village because his fugliness scared the people away. He felt destined to be alone forever until the day Beauty knocked on his door doing charity work for cows and her restaurant Chick-Fil-A. As they get to know each other, he wonders if she could ever love him.
Then disaster strikes again.
The werecows proclaimed across the land that if Leon did not come out of hiding, they would slaughter his birth mother, Diana. Leon knew the risk, but he also knew he had a destiny. The werewars devastated the land while the werecows scoured the countryside for Leon.
Knowing only he could save Diana and end the werewar, Leon went to the door to escape his castle. The floor squeaked under his monstrous werecow form.
He ran straight to the fighting lands where Taurus and the others held Diana. As he strode across battlefields, everyone stilled, shocked to see him after all this time.
“It is time for us to stop this fighting,” Leon said.
They laughed at him, but he repeated his words, and suddenly, as if under a spell, the hearts of the warriors began to change.
For when Gepetto changed Leon he had changed them all. It was his life’s work to end the war, he was a pacifist and refused to live in a world so stricken by fear and unjust. Gipetto’s place had always been to use Leon to end it.
When Di saw her beloved baby boy she threw herself into his arms and called for a cease fire. The were community obliged, because they too loved their mamas.
With peace returning to the land, Gepetto finally proclaimed his true love for Di. The age gap meant nothing. Nor her evil ways. Gipetto had been smitten since the day they met at the puppet convention.
They were wed by were-porcupine Rev. Ow Sharpton.
Xander and Evangeline, free of Diana once and for all, took a vacation.
Leon returned home to his castle, still cursed despite the ended war. But his wish for true love was granted when Beauty awaited him at the castle door with a #1 from Chick-fil-a in her hands.
“I love chicken,” she said.
“I love chicken, too,” he responded, and their eyes locked.
The atmosphere changed and Leon felt a spark in his heart.
True love was born, right there, between two unlikely lovers and a chicken sandwich
With her dark, rambunctious curls and her golden brown skin, Beauty intrigued Leon. He didn’t know how a girl so glorious could see past his misshapen hooves and the horns that protruded from his forehead. He cursed the man who had changed him so. He felt that he would lose her if he could not change.
But he couldn’t ignore that he and Beauty seemed fated. They were both rescued from warring birth parents, both raised by pacifists, and with her love, Leon found the strength to stand up and end the war. Leon blamed no one for all that had happened to him, like Beauty couldn’t blame anyone for what happened to her father, Julio. Instead, the two saw that they were brought together to love in peace.
Beauty understood Leon like no one else ever had. On a starry night over a chicken dinner, Leon leaned in and puckered his fat were-lips. Beauty didn’t recoil in horror so he went for it.
Their lips met. Fireworks exploded. The curse was broken. True love was the only thing powerful enough to unbind the evil curse.
Suddenly Leon transformed into a handsome prince with dark hair that fell in waves, dimples framing a brilliant smile and stellar green eyes that pierced Beauty’s heart. Gone were the forehead horns and misshapen hooves. They made a striking couple. It seemed nothing could mar their union.
Til Beauty said, “I want you to know about my father.”
“We want you to know, too,” said a chorus of voices at the door.
It was Xander and Evangeline, back from their reprieve. With them were Gepetto and Diana.
“We want for you two to know the whole story about all of us.”
And so the group sat together and recounted the story of all whom they’d loved and lost over the years.
When all cards were on the table, they were each grateful to have found love and peace, no bane in sight.
Epilogue (Each writer answered a single question without knowing what the others were writing.)
The symbolism of the joined couples ended the racism between clans. Werecows and Wereligers had Thanksgiving together. They ALL ate chicken. Di and Gepetto brought puppets–err… wood for the fire. X and Ev brought tomato soup. Poison free. Leon & Beauty brought Taurus and the werecows. everyone gave thanks for peace and love and a bright future.
The three couples each built homes around the castle where Leon spent his youth and converted the grounds into a school for all humans, were-children, mutants, and others. Their mission was to educate the next generation peacefully so that they might coexist, so that even if wars began again, the children could carry on a better future.
The effects of Leon’s spell were fleeting. No sooner had he spoken the words than the pacifist inclinations began to erode. But Gepetto knew what he was doing. In that brief moment of clarity, the weres understood that what they were doing was wrong To atone they formed WAR (Were Animal Reconciliation) to advocate for the peaceful coexistence of weres & non-weres everywhere.
The moral of the story: Hatred only leads to pain and destruction that tear apart homes and nations. But while it might always be part of our nature, hatred can always be conquered by love.
And love is the truest beauty we will ever have.