Cantro, Fol, and Gres were the three wolves missing from the night watch. When I say missing I mean like vanished without a trace. No struggle, nothing they were just gone. No scent, no pawprints, nothing. It was just POOF they were gone. Couple their disappearance with the dead deer none of it made sense. This wasn’t something a rabid animal would do. All of this took planning. There was more to all of this. A few of the wolves and the alpha had disposed of the dead deer somewhere away from the dens. I had offered to move them since it was easier for me to pick them up but Zora had been adamant that I stay near the dens. I rubbed my hand over my swollen belly, maybe he was right that I should stay near the dens, but I wanted to help. Somehow I needed to find a way to help my alpha. I couldn’t be my normal 7ft bumbling self, I needed to prove to my pack and my mate that I was good for this pack - that I had a place.
“I know that look. Don’t get any ideas.” Koda said from behind me.
“DINGLEBERRIES!” That ass had come out of nowhere. “Don’t scare me like that I’m pregnant!” I was already on edge, I didn’t need to pop early.
“What are you boiling up in your head? You need to stay here like Zora said. No one can focus on finding these wolves if they are too busy looking for you.”
I seriously doubted anyone but him, Alloy and Zora would look for me if I was missing, but I wasn’t going to point that out. If we kept going like this, chasing our tails without finding the end, Zora would lose the pack, maybe our lives. We didn’t even know what our enemy looked like— Wait, we didn’t but Koda did. He’d seen them when he’d first come through the woods towards the pack lands. “Koda I know you told Alpha about the blood wolves, but what did they look like?”
Koda’s brows furrowed and he gave me a narrowed eyed stare that said— ‘Didn’t I just tell you to keep your nose out of trouble?’ “It shouldn’t matter to you, you need to focus on keeping your pups safe and—”
“Koda! Tell me what they looked like.” I growled. Why did he think he had the right to tell me I needed to keep my nose out of the situation? He was my litter mate not my parent, not my alpha. I maybe a complete idiot at times, and I’ll admit clumsy and loud and strange, but I wouldn’t be weak on top of everything else. My physical strength was the only thing I had that benefit me, and if I could use that to save my pack then it was asinine that I wouldn’t.
“They were big and they smelled like blood. I didn’t stay long to investigate, but from what I saw they weren’t like any wolves I’ve ever seen. Not even you Ira. My instincts screamed for me to run far away, so I did.” Koda’s green eyes clouded over and I had to wonder if he was imaging seeing those wolves again.
“This feels like a cat toying with a mouse right before it kills it.” The scent trails, Comira, the missing scents trails, and now the deer and the missing pack members - this was much more than just a bloodthirsty pack of wolves. A shiver raced down my spine sending a chill deep into my bones.
“Don’t worry mutant, Zora and Alloy will figure this out.” Koda didn’t sound very convinced. Actually it sounded like he was asking me if I thought they would.
You know when the shit really hits the wind you do things that are kind of desperate. That’s how I ended up asking Naga for her opinion. Don’t get me wrong, she’s been part of the search since the beginning, even before Comira’s death. Heck she’d gone into the woods late at night and nothing had happened to her, but that only solidified my theory. Something was toying with us, giving us a false sense of security. I was no hunter, so my theory held no weight. I had to go to the one female who knew how to toy with her prey the best.
“Naga can I talk to you?” Without you being a complete fucking bitch? I kept that part to myself, she was making an effort to not being a raging psycho.
“What do you want? My day is already shit and you’re making it worse by being near me.” She grumbled in her second form, long blonde hair flowing as she did whatever it was she was doing.
Yeah I’d been a little to optimistic, but at least she was talking to me. “I came to ask you about the attacks. What do you think is causing all of this?”
She stopped and looked at me, her golden eyes narrowed. “Why do you care what I think? I have no statues now thanks to you.” Oh, did I mention she was still bitter about that even though it was her fault?
“Naga I’m serious. I want to know what you think about all this. You have better instincts than pretty much any wolf I’ve ever met.” Seriously that compliment burned coming up, like back acid reflux I would keep tasting it for hours.
“What does it matter to you anyways?” She crossed her arms over her ample chest.
Could she be anymore defensive? “Look I want to see this from your perspective. Maybe it will give me some insight to give to Zora.” That and help me start to formulate a plan all on my own.
Naga seemed to ponder it over for a second her full lips pursing thoughtfully. “I think there is more than one predator. There is no way anything could do this alone. I also think that they want something, otherwise they would have killed more of us and they would have done it much quicker.” Naga looked towards the forest, the tree line completely harmless at the moment. “These blood wolves are waiting for something.” She murmured.
I looked in the same direction as her, into the forest line. The same odd sensation passed over me as the day before. The deep penetrating feeling of being watched persisted. It pushed at my conscious, calling to me, watching me—
“We need to figure out what it is they want so we aren’t at such a disadvantage.” Naga said breaking the odd trance that I’d fallen into for the second time.
“Yeah you’re right.” She did have a point. If we could find out what it was they were after then we wouldn’t be at such a disadvantage. That being said, it also meant they were after something. What could this pack possibly have that they could want?
My stomach chose that moment to growl really loud. I don’t mean like normal hungry sounds, this was loud enough to wake pups out of a dead sleep. Naga sneered as she looked down at my belly. “I can’t help it ok!” I looked around us before looking at her again. “You don’t happen to have anything to eat do you?”
The she wolf growled before stomping away. She didn’t have to be rude about it I was just asking.
“It’s been two weeks and nothing! How is that even possible?” I griped as I continued to dig one of the older she wolfs a new den. Gofa had asked me if I’d be up to digging her out a new den and in trade she’d tell me hilarious stories about my mate when he was a pup. Since my mate was the stoic silent type I had to take information about him where I could. Also I wanted to hear all the cute mistif he got into when he was little.
Koda hummed out an agreement as he watched me easily dig out the new dwelling. “Alloy has been frustrated with how little we’ve turned up. Any scent trail they pick up on just disappear out of this air.”
I stop digging and look at my brother. In the last two weeks I’d done nothing to help find these blood wolves. My attempt at a plan was a failure since I didn’t know what to plan. How could you fight something that didn’t seem to exist? Zora had been overwhelmed with the stress of find these intruders, but also waiting for the next attack unable to know when it was coming. Along with all of that, the persistent feeling of being watched was almost constant know. It continued to get stronger by the day and so did the phasing out where I lost focus on where I was and started to stare off into the distance. “Zora is concerned. He’d never tell me but I think he’s worried.”
Koda sighed. “I think everyone is. Whatever, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. How are you feeling today.” He nodded towards my belly, which was a noticeable bump.
It was awkward to work around sometimes but all in all I loved touching my belly and knowing what was forming inside me. Although I was still not looking forward to birth I was pretty excited about seeing our pups. “I’m great. Hungry all the time, feeling obese 24/7 but doing good. How about you and Alloy? I’m still shocked you’re mated to him.” I left out my strange feelings of being watched and my zoning out, I’d rack it up to being pregnant and paranoid.
Koda chuckled. “You’ve always been a fat ass don’t blame that on the pups, mutant. As for me and Alloy, we are great. With everything going on I don’t see him as much as I’d like. You know Zora wants me to keep an eye on you while they are hunting and tracking. I don’t know why you are so surprised we are together. He’s everything I’m not.”
Well, someone was to full of pride to admit they loved their mate. Oh, getting him to admit it could be fun. “So you love him?”
Koda’s ears lay back on his skull and if he were in his second form I’d say he was blushing. “Alloy is an honorable good wolf.”
Squirrel tails, he was going to put up a fight. “So you love him?” I pressed getting closer and maybe adding a singsong quality to my rumbling voice.
“I know what you’re doing, mutant. It’s not going to work.”
“Koda LOVES his mate. Say it!” I said it loud enough that I was getting the attention of the other pack members. “Koda and Alloy laying in a den, L-I-C-K-I-N-G, first comes mating, then comes love, then comes—”
“Alright! Stop it!” Koda nipped at my side. “I love my mate, but you don’t have to say it to the whole pack before I’ve said it to him.”
You have no idea how much joy I was getting out of embarrassing him. SO MUCH. “I get so few opportunities to tease you. This is better than the squirrel binge I went on a few weeks ago.” Moose farts, that had been amazing.
Koda snorted. “Ira you ate all the squirrels. I haven’t seen a single one since. I think you killed a whole generation of squirrels in one day.” A laughed escaped him and he bared his teeth in a smile.
“Whatever. I didn’t eat that many.” Yeah, I ate that many. I couldn’t seem to stop myself, you have one and you just keep going. Maybe that was just me cause I was the only one mass squirrel eating around here. “You helped me catch—”
A loud howl cut me off. It came from the woods not far away. I looked at Koda who was already on his paws with his ears forward and his hackles lifted. There was distress in the call and I had a gut feeling it was something terrible - again. I didn’t hesitate, I ran towards the call, Koda right on my heels. More pack members followed as we ran into the woods. It was far before we found she two she wolves curled on the floor with wide petrified eyes. Instinct pushed me forward as I stood over them growling viciously at whatever had threatened— Oh mother no.
They’d found the missing pack members. I looked up at the threes into the low hanging branches. The bodies were hanging from the trees. No, parts of them, limbs, and— I looked away as the sour churning in my gut threatened to make me hurl on the forest floor. Why was this happening? What was the point in all of this? I could smell the blood in the area it was so strong I could taste it in the back of my throat. The she wolves beneath me whined in terrified mewling pants. Their fear was almost as tangible as the blood.
“Oh Mother no.” Koda gasped as he looked up into the trees.
More howls went out as other pack members called for their alpha. I wanted to call for him, I wanted him here as much as they did. Had this been what he’d saw the night of Comira’s murder? A shiver of dread passed over me burning the ends of my nerves. Sucking in a deep gulp of air I ignored the terrible roll in my stomach and pushed the females away from the scene with my muzzle. It took a few more rough pushes before they broke out of their terrified state enough to move back towards the dens. I watched them scurry into the welcoming embraces of their fellow pack mates. As they sheltered the females I looked around the small clearing avoiding the sight that was up in the trees. Koda stood there looking up into the trees with a horrified gaping maw. Past him I looked around the small area for paw prints, fur, blood, anything that would— Squirrels? I saw the first one at the base of the tree where the wolves had been hung, and another beside that, and another beside that. I tracked them with my eyes until I’d done a complete circle back to the base of the tree. Dead squirrels had been laid around the entire clearing in a complete circle. The same place I realized now that I had eaten so many squirrels a few weeks ago.
“You never leave the dens like that!” Zora growled, pacing back and forth in his four form in our den. His hackles were lifted and his teeth bared as the fear and anger rolled through him in continuous waves. It had been hours since we’d found the bodies in the woods. Zora had showed up not long after and had been furious when he’d found me there. He hadn’t spoke to me since, he’d told Koda to take me back to the dens while he and the other betas pulled the remains from the trees for a mourning.
“I heard the howls. I couldn’t leave them alone if they needed help!” I couldn’t! If there was anyone who could protect them it was me. I might not be strong willed like my alpha, but I didn’t doubt my own physical strength. Wasn’t that the reason some of the pack still feared me? Besides I think that I had saw something that none of the others had noticed, clues that could maybe explain why that spot had been chosen. Why the squirrels? Why in the same place me and Koda had hunted so many of them only weeks before?
“What about you? Who would have protected you if there had actually been a threat?” Zora barked at me. He was more angry than I’d ever seen before, expressing more emotion than I think he was comfortable with showing. “You are putting yourself and our pups at risk. Do you not see how foolish you are being?” He growled and shifted in a smooth transition from one form into another.
I understood why he was angry and a part of me knew that he was right, but the petulant part of me didn’t agree at all. “I’m foolish for wanting to protect our pack?” I didn’t care about my pups? Was he absolutely insane? There very idea of hurting them made me clutch my stomach. I’d do anything to protect them and him. They weren’t even born yet and they already meant the world to me.
Zora watched me touch my belly and his face softened, the hard stressed expression vanishing. Worry was all that remained after his anger washed away. He walked closer and grabbed my head to pull our foreheads together. “I know you want to protect the pack, but you need to remain safe for me to function. I would be nothing if I lost you and our pups. You must keep yourself safe so I can keep the pack safe.” My alpha placed a large hand over my swollen abdomen, grounding both of us after all of the fear we’d experienced. “Trust in me to protect the pack. Stay out of the woods.”
“Yes alpha.” I nodded understanding his request, because I did understand what he was asking me to do.
“I know you love deeply Ira, even the wolves who do not love you. Running into danger is not how you show your love for this pack.” He rubbed his face along the side of mine, scent marking me and comforting me as much as possible. “You need to get some rest. I need to help put the fire together for the mourning.”
I nodded again. “I’ll be fine.”
Zora rumbled deeply in his chest before he separated from me. He looked at me one more time before walking out of our den. I understood what he wanted from me, but I needed to do more than stay by the dens. I needed to protect him.
Late that night I lay awake the images of what I saw in the woods kept trying to replay in my head over and over again— Stop, Ira focus. I needed to focus on something else. My alpha lay curled up beside me in his four form. It wasn’t often that he slept in that form, but I figured it was a sense of security that made him want to be in his strongest form. I couldn’t blame him wanting to feel his strongest right now, even though I loved his second form because it made him close to equal in size to me. I looked out the entrance of our den at the distant tree line that lead into the woods. What lurked out in those trees? Why did it do the things it did to us? Why had it placed those squirrels there? Had it been the one to do it? So many questions and there was a beaver dams worth of answers in those woods that we couldn’t seem to find. My eyes wandered over the trees looking for something I knew I wouldn’t see. That same nagging sensation that I was being watched prickled down my spine in the back of my brain. I could feel the sensation go deep into my gut, poking at all my sensitive instincts. Something was there, watching me, calling me. I got to my feet, my eyes locked on the tree line as I walked out of our den, leaving my mate asleep inside. Come, it said. Come find me out here. I kept walking towards the woods as the sensations became stronger urging me to keep going until I reached the edge of the tree line. The moon-light divided the dens from the shrouded darkness of the forest. In there I could feel the eyes travel over me, they were in there watching me. Come to me, it called. Come here. Something large moved within the forest shadows, something bigger than me.
I stepped into the darkness leaving the dens behind.
Sorry left you with that big old cliff...no I'm not