The world was once whole, all the humans getting along after what seemed eons of war… and then a discovery was made. Deep in the heart of a desert, locked away within an underground oasis the humans found by accident, were the ruins of a civilization they never knew. Surprisingly, that civilization was still thriving. They were dubbed 'Demons', as they reminded the humans of the animal demons from ancient Japanese myths. The demons were kind to the humans, trusting and naive, and when they were offered the chance to leave their confined home beneath the ground… many young ones did. It wasn't long before the humans were nicknamed 'Shinigami', creatures that stole away the lives of the demons. The demons were nothing more than expensive pets. They were given collars and pathetic names, bred and sold like slaves, used for menial tasks… and sex. The more beautiful a Demon cub, the more the price shot up, and the more lecherous their owners happened to be. Those Demons that still lived within the civilization, protected by the sands of Hueco Mundo, fought back. As the Shinigami rose in power, the Demons began to get more and more aggressive. Their armies were made of tigers, lions, panthers, wolves, and other dangerous creatures humans fear above anything else. Their teachers were the wisest, like owls and other such animals. Their workers kept up on weapons and defensive traps, made of oxen and bulls and those animals built for strength more than battle. Soon, they took over the whole of Hueco Mundo and the Shinigami were lucky to buy their way through the tolls.
Ichigo Kurosaki was born in Karakura, a product of an effort to save his rare species. He's a beautiful, almost majestic, creature. His hair is a spiky halo of vibrant orange locks, his skin a caramel tan stretched over a lithe but powerful frame, and his eyes are the most captivating amber shade just a step away from gold. He's soft spoken, kind, and loyal to a tee… but has the worst temper ever seen within a Demon. He's a tiger hybrid, but not just any tiger hybrid… his species is the Bali species. He's smaller than a typical tiger hybrid, slimmer and has brighter hair, and his species is the most ethereal. Unfortunately, they're only about twenty left in the world… mostly males and mostly older. Their numbers are growing though, thanks to the efforts of the humans that wish to save them. Ichigo is a Beta, one of the males thrown in with the category of female. To save their species, the human scientists altered the DNA of the Beta males to allow them the ability of reproduction… Ichigo was born with the ability. It's not something Ichigo's fond of, but he supposes it makes sense on some level.
"You still okay, Bali?" a large male asks gruffly.
"Yes," Ichigo purrs.
"We'll be stopping shortly to feed you," he stats. "You can stretch your legs then."
Ichigo was bought by a rich human as a playmate and guardian for his sister, Rukia Kuchiki. Byakuya outbid everyone at the auction the scientists held, especially after hearing how strong and protective Ichigo is of his caretakers. Now, he's nestled in a mass of pillows inside a cage. The outside of the cage is covered to protect him from the sun, as they now travel in a caravan through Hueco Mundo. There are at least fifty guards scattered throughout the small caravan, the majority around Ichigo's cage. He curls up in the pillows that seem to swallow him from sight, purring happily as he falls asleep.
The guard isn't what wakes him as he expected, but the sound of a furious snarl before a cut off cry. His cage is jostled roughly, the silence absolute as he ducks down further into his pillows. The cover is whipped off, a group of about five Demons eyeing the contents curiously. One is a tall and lanky lizard with long raven hair, one of his violet eyes is covered by a black eye patch, and he's beanpole thin with two nasty looking crescent blades in hand. Another is a muscular tiger, the normal species and not the smaller, with four piercing and short silver hair that does nothing to obscure his brown eyes and sharp features. Beside the tiger is a female leopard with short green hair and hazel eyes, her eyes wide and her tail frizzed out in disbelief as her ears lay flat. Just off to her left is a male fox with a bob of blonde hair and a piano toothed grin, his eyes holding humor as he watches everything unfold… it's the last one that has Ichigo's heart in his throat, however. A teal haired panther built for strength and speed, his entire body exuding perfect sexual prowess as he stalks the area. He's built like a statue, a living Greek god, and his tan skin seem to radiate sunlight even as his cyan orbs glow with a feral danger Ichigo has never seen before.
"Fuck it all!" the lizard growls as his tail swings back and forth in agitation. "What the hell are they guarding a bunch of fucking pillows for!"
"Maybe they didn't get what they were looking for," his tiger companion comments.
"We just wasted our time for a bunch of pillow?" the leopard whines as she stomps her foot. "I could be sleeping!"
"I don't know… they're nice pillows," a blonde fox grins a piano toothed grin.
"… You're so lucky Hiyori isn't here," the tiger sighs. "She'd kill you for that comment."
"Mashiro wants gold and jewelry! Not stupid pillows!"
"Wait… I smell something," that god-like panther rumbles out.
"… It wasn't me," the blonde fox mutters.
"Not that, dumb ass! I smell the scent of another Demon."
"It's just a bunch of pillows, man," the lizard scoffs.
"Shut the fuck up, Nnoi! You know my nose is never wrong!"
He stalks around the cage, opening the door and crawling in as the others man the exit. Ichigo ducks down lower, his heart thumping loudly in his chest as wide amber orbs watch the crouched panther move closer so fluidly and gracefully. When he's only a few steps away, Ichigo bolts from the pillows and knocks him over on his way to the exit. They're expecting him to jump down to the ground, but the little Bali is smarter than that. He grips the top of the doorway and swings himself up onto the cage before running over to its front and jumping down. He'll admit, his clothes aren't the best to be running in. Baggy white pants of a silken material, gold colored slippers, a matching belt of cloth around his slim waist, and a white silken top with no sleeves… hardly your typical traveling outfit. Clothes, however, signify importance when it comes to pet-turned Demons. Ichigo's clothes and the jewelry he wears… bangles on his left wrist, many gold chokers around his neck, an armlet on his right upper arm, the gold hoops in his ears, the two studs with the connecting chain on his left ear, and a gold band with a dangling bell on his tail… puts him up near the top of importance. This fact, however, makes his predicament all the worse. It means he's important enough to his master for a ransom, or being returned defiled and harmed for a warning. That's the last thing Ichigo wants.
"Catch him!" the panther yells.
His breathing quickens when they take chase, the smaller Bali knowing he can't outrun them forever. They know this land and all it's shortcuts, so his only chance is to fight. He quickly turns his body around, skidding on the white sands as Nnoitra, the lizard, fights not to run him over. Ichigo's body drops back onto the hot sand, the Bali curling back so he's on his hands and kicking out as he spins. Nnoitra is knocked backward, Ichigo on his feet and sending a roundhouse to clock the lizard hybrid in the jaw. The blonde fox leaps, Ichigo ducking and punching once the fox is turning around. They fall back and a heel kick is planted perfectly into his chest, knocking him out cold. The leopard is next, stalking around Ichigo playfully before jumping into the fray. Ichigo doesn't like hitting girls, but this is a different circumstance. If she's with these rogues, then she's the enemy and knows what she's getting into. Her kick comes down on his forearm, it's powerful and he knows one more could fracture his bone. She tries a roundhouse, however Ichigo catches her leg and slams his own kick mercilessly into her gut. When she's doubled over in pain, he raises his leg and brings it down between her shoulder blades. She cries out and falls, leaving room for the tiger to attack from Ichigo's side. He squeaks, running away from the larger tiger. A hand is on the back of his clothes, pulling him back toward the larger hybrid, and the orangette immediately kicks backward… catching the tiger right where it counts.
"Fuck!" the tiger groans in pain. "Fucking little hybrid…"
Ichigo cheers, running off again with the panther nowhere in sight. Just when he's thinking he's finally made a clean getaway… he runs into what feels like a brick wall. Trying to pull back, he realizes it's a brick wall with arms.
"Such a naughty little kitten," the panther purrs. "Did you really think you could escape us?"
In his anger at being caught, Ichigo's knee meets with the panthers groin. The larger male gasps, a tear building in one eye as he releases Ichigo in favor of holding his family jewels. Ichigo sticks his tongue out childishly and takes to running again, only knowing that Byakuya is straight ahead… or at least… that's what he thought. After three hours of walking in the harsh sun without food and water, as he wasn't fed yet today, he's about ready to give up. Too weak to go on, he falls into the white sand as his vision begins to blacken. He sees feet before his face, questioning amber eyes dull with fever glancing up. The panther is glaring down at him with his arms crossed over his chest. A foot prods his side and he groans in discomfort.
"We gonna leave him to die out here?" the lizard's voice remarks. "It would serve the little bitch right."
"Oi! What did Mashiro tell you about that!" the leopard growls. "No insulting females just cause you don't like someone! We're proud to be bitches, don't sully our name!"
"I kind of like him," the panther remarks with a smirk. "He's got fire."
"We can't let him die anyway," the blonde fox chuckles. "He's a Bali."
"A what? What the fuck is that?"
"It's a rare tiger," the larger tiger sighs. "They're almost extinct. This one looks young, he's probably one of the newest in the breed. The others are too old to breed, or all males. There are very few females to reproduce within the species… they were the most beautiful and bought strictly for sexual purposes. Because of that, humans never let them breed and guarded them jealously… even killing them when another touches them, whether it be consensual or not. They're almost gone because of the Shinigami."
"So… We take it home?"
"I'll take him," the panther sighs. "You guys got more of him than I did."
Ichigo weakly swipes at the panther with his black claws, hissing and laying his ear flat to show his dislike, yet the panther pays him so mind. He's lifted into strong arms and carried deeper into the sands, his vision finally failing him.