As Blue led Zulu safely away from the Main Street and into the wilderness they were startled by a distant roar behind them. Zulu was quivering in fear. He tugged on Blue's tail causing her to stop and turn around.
The younger raptor wailed. "What was that Blue?"
Blue stared at the Main Street which was now fairly distant. In the wind that rolled up the hill she stood upon, she caught a very slight scent, one she had encountered many times before; it was the scent of The Alpha. In other circumstances she would have followed the trail in hopes of reunification but, alas, it was in the direction of the Main Street and the safety of Zulu took priority. Nontheless, it was a moment of joy for Blue, for she knew that her Alpha was back somewhere on the island.
There was another roar, this time accompanied by screaming and chaos. "Danger." She said. Now that they had stopped, it was time to plan their next action. There was no need to hunt for neither of them were hungry thanks in no small part to their battle with the humans earlier that day. Blue decided that it would be within their interests to find a new territory with shelter for Zulu.
She leaned down to meet with Zulu eye to eye before talking. "We need to find a new home now, okay? So stay close to me."
The younger raptor slowly nodded. "Okay."
They travelled for several hours until they were stopped by a wide, calm river. It was getting late, so Blue wanted to make haste. Zulu peered over the steep bank into the dark water. He turned to Blue, still fairly scared. "What do we do now, Blue?" He buried his face in his claws.
The older raptor picked him up with her teeth and put him on her back. "Hold on," she instructed, "don't let go."
Once she was sure Zulu was ready, Blue dipped her first foot into the murky river. It was an unpleasant cold that numbed her as she waded further into the water, her body sinking further into the depths with every stride. She felt a knock on her leg which almost pushed her off balance but, luckily, she regained her balance and continued. Eventually they made it halfway. Zulu's toes were in the water, but he had managed to remain fairly dry. The same could not be said for Blue, of course, who was now shaking from the cold. Once again, she felt a knock on her leg.
She began to speed up. The knocking on her legs increased in force and happened almost every step. Suddenly, instead of a knock, a sharp pain shot up Blue's leg, causing her vision to blur. She yelped and jumped, sending Zulu high into the air and straight into the water with a splash.
Blue recovered and realised that Zulu was gone. Frantically, she looked around. "Zulu?"
She took a deep breath and dived under. The water was murky and visibility was low. She swam along, eyeing the riverbed. Unsuccessful in her search and out of air, she surfaced and gasped. Several metres ahead of her was splashing and commotion. She darted towards it as fast as she could.
At the centre of the splashes was Zulu, struggling to stay afloat. Blue retrieved him and made a beeline for the river bank, with the younger raptor in her mouth. Finally, she made it to the bank and tossed Zulu onto dry land before attempting to climb up the muddy slope herself.
A warning cry came from the shivering Zulu who was watching. "Blue, behind you!"
Blue peered behind her to see several dark shapes under the water speeding her way. She continued clambering up the slope, her bottom half still submerged. Zulu, panicking, continued to shout to Blue.
"Hurry up, they've almost got you! Come on, Blue, please!"
As she clawed at the mud it gave way, sliding the raptor down further into the water. One of the shadows in the river made it to Blue and, with a tug, she was pulled into the depths.
Zulu's eyes welled up with tears. He helplessly shouted at the water. "Blue! Blue, come back! Please!" There was no response. Exhausted, he collapsed to the ground with a thud. The shouting ceased and instead he whimpered to himself as he curled into a protective ball. "Please don't leave me Blue..."
Meanwhile, below the surface of the water, a primal battle was taking place. Blue was being swept away by the currents while her attackers gripped onto her with thousands of teeth. Holding her breath, she struggled to kick and claw the creatures off but their jaws held like a vice. The water turned a deep red around her and her vision darkened. Almost out of air, she struggled to the surface, managing to steal one breath before being dragged back under. The battle continued. She managed to claw off the attackers before surfacing once again and reached for the shore. Painfully, she made it to the bank and began climbing up the muddy slope. Behind her, she could see the shadows regrouping and moving in for the kill. Just in time, she got her hind legs to the ground and leaped onto dry land.
She lay there for a few moments, deep lacerations staining the grass around her in blood. Slowly, she arose to her feet. The indescribable pain that shot through her once she put weight on what remained of her legs almost immobilised her. Blue was detirmined, however, to get back to Zulu, and nothing would stand in her way. With every limp, she winced.
It was now very late. The sun had just disappeared below the horizon and Blue had still not found Zulu. She was badly injured and moving slowly. However, at the end of her snout a scent flowed through the air. She took it in, analyzing it thoroughly. It was Zulu's, without a doubt. With some guidance at last, she followed the trail, blood still oozing from her wounds.
Zulu stood up and looked around. What was it that Blue had said to him? He searched his memories for a conclusion. They had to find a new home, that was it. Zulu had no idea where to start looking. He noticed far off in the distance, past a plain of tall grass, lay hundreds of trees. It was the outskirts of the thick forest that dominated the landscape. Reluctantly, Zulu made his way towards it, without Blue.
Between the trees, Zulu had found a cozy little opening with enough canopy for shelter from the elements, yet enough space to live. It seemed perfect, he thought, but, then again, he probably didn't know much about this kind of thing. Nontheless, it was late and he was fatigued, so he settled down and fell into a deep sleep.
The young raptor's respite was disturbed when he heard the shuffling of leaves further in the forest, out of sight. He attempted to roar but instead a feeble choke left his throat. He backed away fearfully. The noise approached him, slowly getting closer and louder until, from amid the trees, a wounded Blue emerged. She looked at Zulu, then at the clearing, and smiled. She nodded. "Yes... this will do nicely." Then, she collapsed and her vision darkened to black.
Zulu was relieved that Blue was back, and he rushed over to her ecstatically. It was clear that she was hurt, possibly badly, but he was just happy that she was back. Realising she was asleep, he yawned and snuggled closely to her so that he could feel her body heat. "Don't ever do that again, Blue."
Author's note: So this is my first author's note on this website. I'm not really sure if this is how it's meant to be done but it's how I'm doing it nontheless.
Firstly, this chapter is one of the smaller ones, I'm sorry, I just wanted to get one more thing done before the summer holiday ends. That doesn't mean I'll stop posting updates, by the way, it just means it will take longer for them to come out.
Secondly, I never really expected this story to attract as many people as it has. I wouldn't yet consider it "popular", of course, but I honestly had pretty low expectations. So, to everybody who is following or has favourited this story, a big THANK YOU. I'm glad you're enjoying it!
Finally, if you don't mind me asking, keep those reviews coming! As this is my first story I really do appreciate the feedback and constructive criticism.
Well, that's all I really have to say for now. Thanks for reading (the story, of course, not this note)!