Chapter 1 - Exhilaration (Part 2)Mature

 Silhouette made a face.  We had known each other since pup-hood, and he was my greatest friend.  He knew my weaknesses.  His face became one of mock horror, and he pretended to cringe under my stare.  “Oh no!” He whimpered, “Oh, great leader of Darkpack, Darkagony, don’t kill me!  Have you no mercy?”  He drew an X on his head with his tail, a symbol of rare honesty and a pledge of loyalty.  He dipped his head and smiled, standing upright after I laughed at him.  Who said that some weaknesses were bad?  Even a tyrant can have her fantasies.

            He smiled and shook his head, for a bit of dust had collected on it when we were playing.  He scented the air, thrusting up his slender muzzle while he sniffed.  With an affectionate glance toward me, Silhouette began to wander off slowly down the river.  I sat still, pondering.  My brother, Focus, was next in line to become Alpha.  That title should rightfully belong to me, Agony.  The first born - no, only born! - Daughter of Darknettle and her mate Darkclamour.

            Silhouette and I had been assigned to hunt, for a great celebration would be held tonight.  Ivory and her brother Trout had returned from their Teen Missions this morning.  As the custom demanded that was mandatory, they had completed both of the assignments: Drive at least one trespasser from the territory and return with enough prey to feed half of the pack.  A messenger was sent out to find us on our several day hunt and tell us that they were welcomed as full warriors this morning, and our job was to gather enough prey for the rest of the pack; which was quite a lot of food.  All we needed now was maybe a deer, or moose fawn...

            Silhouette appeared beside me.  His ears were twitching to the direction from which he had come, and his nostrils flared.  “Moose.” he murmured in my ear, it was barely even audible.  Great, just in time. I thought and nodded.  This was a familiar routine to me.  I began to slink into the trees, and pivoted.  I wove my way through the maze of the forest, Silhouette heading in the complete opposite direction.

            I took a deep breath, and a strong moose scent wafted over me, a bit upstream from me.  Silhouette was nowhere to be seen.  Nor was his delectable scent traceable.  Keeping to the shadows, I crouched and pulled myself forward.  Mud now caked almost every inch of my red fur.  It jumbled up my scent, masking it to match the trees and leaves.  The only thing visible about me was my flaring amber eyes.

            I continued to weave my way through the maze, and soon a clearing by the river arrived into view.  Drinking out of the trickling water was an average size, young, Bull Moose.  Perfect.  I contracted my leg muscles, to tighten the up enough for lots of power; I made a flying leap out of the trees.  But, of course, I missed the bull.  It was all a part of our procedure.  At least I improvised and left a long claw mark along the moose’s side.

            Our prey became completely stunned for a heartbeat, and reared up.  He began to lash his hooves in the air, looking for his purser.  When his eyes finally met mine, he stomped down with a thud.  I began to circle the bull, keeping a close watch on him.  I bared my teeth and let out a vicious, blood curdling snarl.  Somehow, it reminded me of a fight.  The prey stamped his hooves and swayed his head.  He was about to charge.  And the bloodlust began to rise inside of me.

            All according to procedure.  Moose are so stupid. I snarled in his face, and he began to charge.  Out of nowhere, Silhouette erupted out of the trees like a shadow at night.  He howled, and leaped on top of the bull.  I cringed as both crashed down into the hard, dry earth.  Silhouette wrestled with the bull, and my cue showed itself.  As the bull was focused on Silhouette, it exposed his throat.  I plunged, and swiped my claw at the prey.  It snorted in surprise, which soon gurgled with blood and agony.  In less then two heart beats, the bull was dead.  His eyes shadowed and non-seeing.

            As an instant reaction, I was on top of my kill right then.  My head was, at that precise moment, picking through a gash I had ripped open. Silhouette approached me, on my kill.  I turned around and bit him. Smack on the shoulder.  This simple movement was totally instinct applied.  In this world you need to eat to survive.  And in Darkpack, you needed to go to the extremes to eat.  I was the princess, it was my kill, and I was too damned hungry to care.  I eat

first.  End Of Story.  Besides, it was too heavy for the both of us to move yet.  We aren’t like ants.  We’re strong, but we can’t move ten times our body weight over a distance of three miles.  After a moment or two of me stuffing my snout, I turned to look at my companion.  A gentle growl escaped my lips.  Silhouette flattened his ears and tenderly padded to my side. Blood dripped from my chin.  He began to tear into the leg.

            When we had finished gorging ourselves, I pushed myself up and padded over to Silhouette’s other side.  Both of our bodies were caked in a mix of mud and blood.  He lifted his head and his eyes shined.  “Nowthat was fun!  And we have enough prey to feed half the pack!”  He rubbed his flank against mine and beamed.  I looked away with snort and looked at the inviting gore at my paws.  A scowl covered my features and I grumbled to myself.

            “We’re not hauling it back I hope!  After all, we caught it, and it’s high time that those two scumbags show some backbone and earn their place in the camp.  When I’m alpha there’ll be no need for us to fetch a feast, let the wannabe-pups do it for themselves!” I kept ranting until I saw a smile twitch on Silhouette’s features.  “What!?” I snarled at him, frustrated.

            He simply grinned wider at me.  “What do you expect of them? They’re barely a year old.  Do you want them to kill a wolf or something?”  I twitched my whiskers, thinking that it wasn’t such a bad idea. The thought was settling, and appropriate, even if it came from that strange, annoying voice of mine.

            “Well, it would be a nicer change.”  My fangs gleamed as I flashed a wry look at Silhouette.

            He chuckled and turned around and grabbed the neck of the moose and barked through the mouthful of fur.  “You’re so bad.” Precisely.  This was my thought, and I bounded over to help with the catch.  Things will soon be going my way.  No one, or thing, will stand in my way.  And there will be no hope to my enemies.  The memory of the voice was fading now.  As I helped my friend carry the meal to camp, I wondered if that was a bad thing.  If maybe there was something behind her words.  Something that held truth instead of lies, something that may help me in my plot to destroy the forest; something worth listening to.

            Eventually my mind stopped its wandering.  The path through the woods became rockier, and large tree roots jutted across the hidden paths.  The effort and strain of dragging the prey was exhausting.  My nostrils flared and I could feel Silhouette slowing down to gulp down fresh air.  I laid the catch at my paws and looked at him.  Both of us were matted looking, and had our coats tangled with drying blood.  Silhouette set down his catch, his eyes became deep pools of a blue void.  Endless, something you could drown in.

            I lashed my tail impatiently.  I felt Silhouette stir beside me as I gazed into the shadows in the woods.  We have to leave the cobweb road now.  Now we must head to camp.  I tilted my head back and gently howled.  It was more of a warning than a calling, an entering speech if you will.  “Agony…”  He barked soothingly, and picked up his half of the moose again.  I grunted to him in response and slowly turned.  I picked up the meal, and began to lead the way.  We both had it memorized, of course (it was part of our training), but your senses reacted differently when you had your gaping jaws filled with fresh prey, still warm after the hunt.  We were both, of course, full- the bloodlust still lingered with us though.

            Dead bracken and dry brambles crackled under my paws.  The forest was dying.  In the middle of the summer, of all times!  I shoved through a bush, leaving scraggily fur from the bull behind.  Silhouette snorted.  I slowed, we had been moving at a fast trot, but the entrance to camp loomed near.  Blood invaded my sense of smell.   Damn moose.  A patch of ferns marked the boundary.  I stepped over the delicate plant, and onto a mound of dirt.  Silhouette and I hiked up; on the other side (still hidden in pines and other trees) was a gentle clearing.  The mound of leaf littered dirt took a steep drop and over looked it all.  Under where we stood was an exposed rock face where the food was sheltered.  Soft grass, bushes, burrows, and small cave entrances marked the dens.

            I dropped our catch, and Silhouette did the same.  Together, we pushed, and the dead animal dropped like a stone.  It landed with a muffled thud on hard, compacted earth.  I leaned against the rock perched on the mound.  This was High rock; either my Father or Mother would stand here to address the pack, sometimes they both did.  I heard Silhouette trek his way down the side, on the worn path used so often.  I still stood, watching the commotion and panting with exhaustion.

            The High Rock is supposedly the best view in the forest, as you’re expected to see over trees, and all over camp.  But standing next to it was almost as good.  I thrust my head high into the cooling evening air.  This was my home.  It was my destiny to rule this forest, every pine cone in the forest and strand of fur on my skin knew it.  My gaze swept around, and I surveyed the scene.

The End

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