|Beginning Eternity: I Spark of Fallout
Author: Baltorigamist PM
There is unrest in Nome and around the territory-secrets lurk that, if released, could destroy the balance forever. T for moderate-heavy violence and light emotional intensityRated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Aleu & Balto - Chapters: 22 - Words: 26,314 - Reviews: 30 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 09-03-12 - Published: 04-09-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8006796
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Aleu crouched in the low brush of the island, her eyes locked on the caribou that grazed carelessly only a few yards away. She could sense her pack mates around her, their shared postures in the tall grass unwavering. She narrowed her eyes as another pang of hunger clawed at her stomach: today would be the last time they would go hungry for a week at a time.
The dim sunlight of the dawn beamed down on the wolves as they carefully surrounded the caribou. Their forms were nearly invisible as they stalked their prey.
Aleu peered past the caribou's chest and caught the eye of Xyrun, a brown wolf with lighter markings around his chest and eyes. She silently and almost imperceptibly flicked her ear—the sign for attack. Her muscles tensed involuntarily as she saw Xyrun spring up from his position to the caribou's left. The beast reared up on massive hind legs and let out a deafening bellow as Xyrun slashed at its neck and shoulder. It swung its head violently, shaking it massive antlers in agony, narrowly missing Xyrun's head.
Almost immediately, Sarun, a lighter female, leapt at the creature from her position just to Aleu's right. Sarun dodged a kick from the creature and latched onto the caribou's hindquarters while three other wolves rushed in from the front of the animal. Aleu stepped backward to gain a better view of the chaos, to keep track of her pack.
Everything seemed to be going well for the time being—the caribou now seemed to be stumbling backward, reeling to keep its balance. She heard its agonized bellows as her pack mates attacked, and the bodies of the wolves nearly obscured it from view.
Soon she leapt at the beast herself, her eyes locked on its belly. Even as the caribou reared to block the attack, she darted in and twisted her head, feeling her teeth graze against the ungulate's fur. But she was an inch too low; and at that moment, the beast's hoof struck her head, scratching her above the eye and bruising the side of her face. She gasped, twisting in midair, and was caught in the cheek by its other foreleg. Yelping in surprise, she hit the ground roughly on her back, staring up at the massive, raging beast that stood above her.
Her time as leader of the Anyaris, however, had taught her to ignore the pain, and she stood and joined Sarun at the beast's neck. She noticed that the other wolf was bleeding from a scratch across her left eye, but that did little to discourage her as she leapt in and gnawed at the caribou's eye.
Sarun released her grip on the beast's jaw and fell to the ground as Aleu grasped over its head, trying to make sure its antlers would not kill anyone. She snapped at its neck, falling to miss the giant antler that was swinging toward her. But it clipped her hind leg, and she collapsed once more.
Aleu finally retreated as Sarun dug her teeth into the caribou's throat. She shook off the pain from her injuries and limped around to where Xyrun had a grip on the beast's hindquarters.
"Come on," she said quietly, rubbing her bruised eye with a forepaw, "take him down."
She watched anxiously as Xyrun gashed the caribou's flank, causing the animal to stumble to the ground. Then Sarun ducked under an antler to tear open its shoulder while Xyrun rushed in from the other side to finish the caribou off. A few minutes later, the beast was dead.
Aleu then checked on Xyrun and Sarun to see if the wolves had suffered any serious injuries. Sarun had a scratch below her right eye and scrapes on her left cheek and shoulder, and Xyrun was bleeding from a row of cuts on his side, but nothing seemed life threatening.
The small group began to return to the center of the territory by wordless consent, and Aleu noticed that Sarun was limping on her right foreleg. "What did you do to it?" she asked her. "Guess I'll have to tell Nuk he's on hunting duty for a few weeks."
Sarun chuckled. "You think Nuk will hunt? We'll be lucky if he doesn't hog all the food. Besides," she added, "Sarol's been pregnant now for almost two months. He needs to stay with her until the pups come. And we shouldn't need to hunt for at least a couple of days."
"Think you'll be okay on that leg, though?" Aleu asked again.
"Yeah," Sarun answered. "I think I just landed on it funny."
The three arrived at the den a few minutes later. Zharil, a darker wolf who was Aleu's mate, came out and met Aleu with a friendly nuzzle. "What happened?" he asked worriedly, calmly licking Aleu's wounds. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, Zharil," Aleu replied a second later. "It was tough to take it down though, didn't want to fall."
"You did kill it, right?" Zharil asked, a playful tone in his voice.
"Eventually, yeah," Aleu responded. She inclined her head toward Xyrun and Sarun, who were licking each other's wounds. "You guys did well," she told them.
"No problem, Aleu," Xyrun said, his mate's head buried in his chest fur. "I'd do anything for the benefit of the Anyaris." He smiled gently and nuzzled Sarun again.
A minute of silence passed before Aleu spoke again. "Come on," she said. "Let's go tell Nuk and Sarol." She entered the den and soon returned with the other two wolves in tow. Sarol's belly bulged noticeably, and Nuk was as eager as ever to have another meal.
"It's right here," Aleu said, and she led them to the carcass.
The wolves arrived a minute later, and Aleu quickly ate her fill. She allowed Sarol to eat next, followed by Xyrun, Sarun, and Nuk.
She stepped back when everyone was finished eating. "It's good to be able to eat again," she said.
Sarol chuckled. "You have no idea. These pups never want to stop eating, it seems. That's one thing they're getting from their father."
Everyone laughed as Nuk shoved her gently. "I'm sure there will be other things," the wolf told her.
Later that night, Aleu lay awake in her den, gazing out at the stars that filled the dark sky. "Thank you, Aniu, for all of this," she whispered to herself. "I don't know where we'd be without you, if you hadn't come, hadn't helped us. Thank you."
Almost immediately, as if in response, she saw a comet dart across the sky before fading into darkness.