Rule number one: I love siblings. Siblings are amazing, especially older brothers. Rule number two: I love quiet men. Or just. I don't know. These Exodus chapters are interesting because each one of them can only be a skimming of what could be on their own complete in-depth novellas of their past lives. Trust me I could go into much deeper detail about everything here.
Also I swear not every one of them is going to be something like "what if the wrong person boarded the flagship" or whatever. Promise.
Also I'm a huge huge sucker for Tygra/Cheetara stuff, so I find the line where Tygra talks about protecting and living for something really...something or other. Personally. I'm hungry so I can't think right now. Enjoy.
Being the second son of the royal family, Tygra thrived in the shadows. He enjoyed his solitude, letting his brother stride proudly in the limelight. Spending hours pouring over the thousands of books within the libraries he visited whilst his brother spent every last drop of sweat training and learning to become a prince, Tygra would often read in the lonely rooms as yelps and whoops rang from the courtyards just outside. Tygris, his older brother, would sometimes come in on a break from training, helm under arm and sweat dampening his thick-furred cheeks. Always beaming, he would clap his younger brother on the back, roaring with exhausted but genuinely happy laughter. Tygra would always smile in return. The two were like night and day; Tygris's coat of fur was a darker shade of rust with striking black and white accents (often tinged off-color from the heavy amount of continuous work he did) while Tygra had a much brighter shade of orange. Tygris was loud and stubborn; a quick thinker with a smart tongue to match. His younger brother rarely raised his voice even though he was just as clever and resourceful as Tygris.
He was often mistaken for being the older of the two, being calm and humble. Their father, before he lied on his death bed, dreaded whenever such a mix-up would happen. Both brothers could see it on his face; his lips would tighten and his eyes would narrow as he thrust out his barrel-like chest, becoming rather intimidating. The Tiger Clan valued knowledge and cunning above all other things, and though Tygra surpassed normal expectations with flying colors he did not exceed in the field of battle. Unlike Tygris, he was too elegant and did not look like a warrior when he fought. His best weapon was the whip, an impractical thing that was more show than reality. Almost all of his encounters ended in defeat—Tygra could not find a way to best his opponents and at some point it seemed as though their father started believing that the younger son no longer tried. Soon after Tygra was pushed back to the libraries where he spent all his free time anyways, and succession of the throne was handed solely to Tygris.
Tygra didn't mind, not one bit. Leadership, he felt, was not his strongest trait, but perhaps that was only because his father said it was so after he had spent so many days on end in the library. He and his father never really clashed, but the lectures were often and critical. More than once Tygris had unwisely stepped in to defend his younger brother, splitting the lecture into an argument between father and eldest son with Tygra in the background quietly watching, analyzing, hurting. When it was all over their father would storm away to his chamber, leaving the brothers standing awkwardly in the aftermath. Tygris was almost always certainly disappointed, a feeling that was softened whenever Tygra quietly reminded him that his father was only bitter towards them because his wife, Lady of the Tiger Clan, died after giving birth to the younger brother. Tygris would sigh sadly, for it still wasn't fair.
No. It wasn't. But Tygra made the best of it.
He could weigh in on debates and state almost completely objective opinions, having a rare gift to see from any side he wished to see from. This earned him a seat on the global council, the youngest member on record. This sat well with his father, but only because he wouldn't have to deal with Tygra anymore. Soon after, however, the Lord of the Tiger Clan fell ill, slowly withering away in his chamber. Tygris, an expert warrior and a charismatic leader, filled his father's absence almost naturally, never taking the title of Lord but overseeing the clan and accompanying Tygra on trips to the council. On one such trip Tygris met a fiery young tiger, daughter to an esteemed council member. They wedded. Tygra felt his brother's happiness and pride, and continued to live contently in his shadow as the festivities drove on for two whole nights. Even his brother had a hard time finding him; deeming him 'almost invisible' whenever he did.
Tygra only smiled.
With the coming of each new nephew or niece Tygra slipped further into solitude, dedicating his time to study, particularly architecture and chemistry. Tygris visited him as often as he could, although sometimes he had to come looking for his little brother while juggling between three little girls and one boy. Despite his worry Tygra always seemed to be well-adjusted, warm, and as quiet as usual. The younger brother had fully accepted and enjoyed his role in life, supporting his brother with quiet confidence, being kind to his sister-in-law, and spoiling his nephews and nieces with candies and hand-crafted figures and toys. Keeping to himself and being quietly helpful to anyone who needed it, Tygra slipped behind his charismatic brother, known only to a few prominent members of the council.
One of them was Jaga, legendary Thunderan warrior and, at least in the past, wielder of the Sword of Omens.
When the first tremors plagued the planet of Thundera the council ran amok. Only two seemed to maintain a consistent, calm demeanor: Jaga and the young member of the Tiger Clan. Even then one could always see that Tygra's neck muscles were tight and his eyes wide with worry and stress. Things were hard to keep in order. When the Sword of Omens predicted the planet's inevitable downfall, plans only fell into place out of sheer necessity.
After a particularly meeting heavy with fear and dark with grief, Jaga pulled the Tygra aside.
"Tiger Clan, ho!" The old lion respectfully saluted. Tygra nodded in turn, granting the famed warrior his role to speak.
And speak he did. He requested to see Tygris as soon as it was possible about urgent matters. Tygra, less than half Jaga's age at 31, did not hesitate to fulfill his elder's wishes by arranging an audience with his brother. Their meeting was in private, long, harrowing, and quiet. Tygra sat with Tygris's wife, entertaining the little ones. The youngest one and the only boy, Tygo, was just about to start schooling. Tygra gave the boy simple lessons while his older sisters looked on and critiqued their uncle's work. Glad that they all were still too young to recognize nonverbal communication, Tygra was able to disguise his worry with low, calm voices while his sister-in-law fidgeted and fussed with herself or one of her daughter's hair.
Then Tygris emerged, solemn, and asked to speak with Tygra alone.
"Tygra," Tygris said, closing the heavy door behind him after giving one longing gaze at his wife and cubs, "You've been chosen to protect the Sword of Omens, on the flagship, during the day of Exodus."
Tygra's knees buckled, forcing him to sit down.
"Wh-What? Surely there's been a mistake! Tygris, you, you're practically Lord of the Tiger Clan! Father still lives but, he is unfit! Surely they'd put you aboard instead of me?"
"It wasn't my decision to make—believe me, I argued against it! I mean, I love you, brother, but my cubs...and Rana, my love...,"
"Here, you stay, I'll talk to Jaga and change his mind—,"
"No!" Tygris roared, his characteristic thunderous voice booming in the walls of the room and echoing into the hall. His fists slammed on the table, rattling the old wood and leaving indents. Tygra blinked in shock. Never had his brother addressed him—nor anyone—as such. Tygris breathed in through his nose, slowly. Tygra studied him closely, the grim shade of stress barely masking depths of sorrow so resembling their father that only the youthfulness of his brother's appearance reminded him that this was, indeed, Tygris.
"Jaga's mind is set," Tygris said lowly, not meeting his brother's gaze, "He wants you on the flagship."
"But," Tygra pleaded quietly, "I cannot fight like you, or lead, or teach a boy to lead."
Still avoiding his eyes, Tygris continued, rubbing his chin sadly, "The magic tricks and small illusions you pull off for the cubs, Jaga is interested in someone who can outsmart. He told me he was looking for all kinds of warriors, in case those on the flagship will need to anoint the young in the future. On top of that, on the new planet a researcher and architect would be essential."
Tygra raised an eyebrow, "You're making it sound like those on the flagship will survive and those flanking it will not."
Tygris glanced at him, dark and serious. He was not answering that.
"Please, Tygra. Jaga has ordered this. There's no arguing. Please go. I'll stay with Rana and the cubs, I'll lead Tiger Clan into the skies. Father will have to stay, but I have a feeling that he would only want it to be this way; he always hated flying."
"Tygris...I have nothing to live for or protect. Why me?"
Tygra's older brother stood up and turned away, opening the door. "Ask Jaga when you board. He did not tell me."
The day came sooner than Tygra would've liked to believe. Tiger Clan was leaving for orbit, set to circle the planet until the flagship caring the sacred Sword of Omens took off. Tygra began to say his good-byes, first to his sickly father who only looked at him with such an expression that Tygra couldn't say it was anything but a deep hidden pride for his youngest son. Then to his nieces and nephew, patting little Tygo on the head and telling him to allow his mind to grow. The young cub only twisted his mouth in confusion and hugged his mother. Giving his sister-in-law a warm, safe hug, he withdrew, facing his brother.
"Tiger Clan, ho." Tygris smiled sadly as Tygra returned the gesture, "You will do well, Tygra. I've got your back."
They shook hands, briefly hugging before separating. Tygra stood solemnly, watching as they boarded. Tygris paused at the open hatch as the ship began to power-up. Over the noise he turned around, facing his brother as the wind ruffled his thick fur.
Tygra inhaled a breath and stared at his brother, wondering if it was pride or pain he was feeling.
"I lied. Jaga never said he wanted you to board the flagship."
He felt his knees buckle again as his brother stared at him dead in the eye.
"I don't want to be like father...if the cubs go, I go. I'm sorry you're a victim of how selfish I am," he gave a bitter smile, "But...you were always the better son, no matter what it looked like when father told you otherwise. I always envied you—you became what you wanted to be."
"Tygris!" Tygra stumbled forward as the ship started to take off.
"I believe in you, Tygra! Take care, brother!"
Tygra watched helplessly as his older brother disappeared into the ship and closed the hatch. As the ship turned and sailed off overhead to reach orbit, Tygra felt tears running down his cheeks as he suddenly identified the welling feeling in his chest.