I liked Ice Age, and I loved Ice Age 2 (I've gone to see it three times in two days!). But what I disliked about both films is that at NO point, despite Diego's diet being more than obvious, his eating habits are never questioned during either film (even when he's LIVING with hundreds of herbivores). And thanks to his fear of water, it's safe to say he's not pulling a Madagascar and eating fish. And so, this fic was spawned:
Not my best work, but I like it.
Scrat had never been an optimistic rodent. Trouble seemed to defy all laws of nature to make his life a living hell.
But not today!
He sniffed the air, tail quivering in the wind, acorn tucked safely in his arms as he looked past the dead dry grass he was hiding behind.
Three acorns. He'd found and hidden a total of three acorns without any disasters following him. Four would be a new record.
He sniffed again, and grinned as he came across an old log. Scampering towards it, he took a good look around before going inside.
Gently, the acorn was placed down amongst others, and he sighed, stroking them fondly. Just a few more and he'd have enough to stored away to start heading south.
Leaving the log, he froze, his nose quivering. There was something in the air…
He snorted, and started scampering away.
A twig snapped.
There was a roar, and a giant mass of orange fur leapt over the log, charging straight towards him.
The prehistoric squirrel screamed, bolting downhill into whatever cover he could find. The sabre however, continued to pursue.
Scrat kept on screaming, running out from the grass and straight into the snow. Suddenly, he lost all traction, and found himself sliding across the ground. He spun round to see the sabre had stopped on the edge of the ice, glaring at the squirrel. One paw was placed on the ice, and slitted eyes narrowed as it began to crack. He snorted, and bounded away, an obvious limp on one of its front legs.
Scrat sighed in relief as the sabre jumped on the log and vanished out of sight, only to jerk at the rumbling sound coming towards him. He looked up, and had just enough time to scream as the log, now dislodged from the sabre's jump, gathered up speed as it headed towards him.
He started to run towards the log, hoping to stop it, only to find himself running in place, unable to get a grip of the ground. The log crashed into the thin eye, sending Scrat into the air on the edge of one sliver, and began to sink.
With no other option, Scrat dived right in afterwards.
Diego winced as he headed back to Manny and Sid. He really could have used a snack. He was starting to get more than a little hungry, and his wound from Soto wasn't healing as fast as he'd have liked.
It had been two days since they'd returned Pinky to his herd, and the three were almost back where they had started. Of course, the only one who'd been able to tell was him, considering the ground has been under several feet of snow at the time. The frost had also killed off any plant life that had still been surviving, so both Sid and Manny had gone hungry for at least three days. For Diego, it was four. And that was four more than he was used to.
And unlike Manny and Sid, he had to look at an available food source every minute of the day.
He growled, mentally shaking his head.
"Stop that Diego" he snapped. "You're not helping yourself here."
But when he caught the scent of mammoth and sloth in the direction of smoke, a clear sign that 'the Lord of the Flame' was at work, despite his best efforts, images came into his mind. There was no way he could take on a mammoth, especially wounded, but a sloth was another story. Just wait until the mammoth fell asleep, and take out the sloth quietly with a swipe of his claws. He could finish eating before morning and still have time to come up with a cover story for the sloth's disappear-
That train of thought was quickly derailed by bashing his head against a rock.
"Snap out of it you stupid cat" he hissed.
Manny and Sid were NOT prey. They were part of his pack, his herd. Manny was Manny and Sid was Sid. That was it. They'd stopped being faceless meals on that two-day journey and become the closest things he'd had to true friends in a long time.
And he was NOT about to ruin that over something as trivial as a few days hunger.
His stomach growled, clearly ready to argue.
Things didn't get much better when he returned to the rest of his 'herd.' Sid, despite all the odds, had actually tracked down a plant that still had green leaves, and though it was hardly enough to satiate the two herbivores, it had certainly lifted their spirits.
"Sure you don't wanna try some?" Sid asked, brandishing a stick in front of the sabre's face. "You might like it."
"I doubt it Sid," he muttered, trying to avoid getting whacked by the over eager sloth.
"Leave him alone Sid" Manny warned, stamping out the fire. "We need to get moving anyway. If we keep up this pace, we might actually catch up with the last of the migration in a few days."
'Stragglers' Diego's mind amended. 'Just a few more days and I can make a kill. I can handle a few more days."
It was three days of intense travelling, Sid travelling on Manny's back for most of the journey, the sloth unable to keep up with either of the larger animals. Manny had spread the invitation to Diego once again, but the tiger refused, not willing to show weakness, and repeated a mantra in his head.
'Just a few days more, just a few days more, just a few days more…'
His mind was still repeating these five words when he body collapsed in the snow, deaf to Manny and Sid's cries.
The ground was cold, but his body was warm. Despite the grogginess in his muscles, he was vaguely aware of a fire crackling, and two hushed voices whispering.
"Wha?" he moaned, trying to get his body to move. "What happened?"
The voices stopped whispering, and his eyes cleared to see Sid looking over him, the sloths face a picture of worry.
"Hey, you feeling better buddy?"
There was a rumble, and Manny's face joined Sid's. "You passed out a couple of hours ago. We thought it might be best to get you out of the cold."
Diego's head slumped, before gritting his teeth and forcing himself to his feet.
"I'm fine. Sorry to make you worry" he began. "We should get going."
Manny snorted. "We'll stay here tonight."
"What?" Diego yelped. "Its barely noon!"
"Um actually" Sid piped up. "It's probably closer to late afternoon considering your little nap…"
He trailed off as Diego glared at him, sighing in relief when the tiger turned his gaze back to Manfred.
"If we waste the better part of a day holed up here we'll be even further behind."
"And you are too weak to keep going just now!" Manny yelled back.
Diego snarled. "I'm fine!"
Sid gave a nervous laugh as he edged away from the two
"You know, I think I'm gonna go see if I can't find some more firewood."
The sloth shuffled off, completely ignoring the rather large pile of dry wood already by Manny, leaving the two in a glaring stalemate.
To Diego's surprise, Manny was the first to break the glare, shifting his eyes in the direction Sid had left.
"Okay" he started. "Sid's gone, so why don't you start talking."
Diego glared. "What are you talking about?"
Manny just stared at him. "Well, for starters, how about the growling coming from your stomach. It barely stopped while you were asleep."
The sabre tooth looked away. "Ah…that…"
"Any reason why you're starving yourself?"
Diego sighed, looking the mammoth in the eye.
"Its not by choice" he replied. "When was the last time you saw another animal around here? Almost everything is South of us now, and anything that isn't…"
He growled, feeling the twinge from his injury. "I couldn't even catch a squirrel a couple of days ago. When one in my old pack was injured, the others made sure to leave part of the kill for them."
He gave an almost sad smile. "That's not really an option anymore though."
For a long time, Manny just looked at him, and Diego kept his eyes on the fire. Silence filled the sheltering rocks, until the shuffling feet of Sid stumbled back into the cave, paws holding a meagre pile of twigs.
"Sorry guys" he gasped, shivering as he sat by the fire, dumping the twigs near the flame to dry them. "Almost everything's snowed over now."
"Don't worry Sid" Manny consoled. "We already have plenty."
He looked back at Diego. "Hey, since you're in such a hurry to move on, why don't you go check the area?"
Diego blinked, a 'huh?' clearly wanting to form.
"You're the tracker," Manny explained. "See if anything's been through recently. If so, maybe we can risk moving again."
Diego gave him a long look. He doubted anything had been as dumb as them to keep off the migration this long, but, at the end of the day, Manny was the unofficial leader of their herd, and he headed out to comply.
As the back of the retreating sabre vanished into the snow, Sid sighed.
"Think he fell for it."
Sid grinned, and shuffled closer to Manny and the fire.
He had been right. Nothing had been in this area for days. The scents were old and barely noticeable. There was nothing genuinely convincing enough to persuade Manny to move the three onwards.
He was about to head back when the smell filled his nose, and stopped in his tracks.
Blood. Old, and weak, but there.
He followed the scent, almost running as it continued to get stronger. He turned past a snowdrift, and froze.
As with any migration, there were those that didn't make the journey, dying on the edge of the road as prey for any scavenger that might chance upon it. But by this point, the snow would have covered any bodies, freezing them for scavengers to find when the eventual meltdown occurred.
But there, clear as day, was the unburied body of a grey pig-like creature, a moerithe-something; he didn't know the full name. It had to be almost completely frozen, but he wasn't about to be picky. It was a stroke of luck to find it in this weather.
Then, as he neared, he noticed the snow, dug away from the body to bring it into view. Something had dug the body out from the snow, putting it in plain view.
He caught the faintest smell of mammoth and sloth, and froze.
Manny and Sid had found it. Somehow, they'd spotted the creature, part of it hadn't been snowed over, and they'd dug it out, leaving it in plain sight.
They'd known. Despite his best attempts to hide it, they'd known he was hungry, that he couldn't last much longer without food, and they'd decided to do something about it. They wouldn't hunt, they couldn't, but they could still provide. It was the best they could do. One of them had probably been coming out every so often, keeping the snow of the body so that they wouldn't lose it in the storm, waiting for him to wake up. The two of them were determined to keep to Manny's beliefs.
A herd looked out for each other, no matter what.
Even when he returned to the cave, they didn't speak about. Not even Sid mentioned it again. Perhaps the gesture had been wiped from their memory, not needing to worry once they started to outrun the worst of the weather, and both other animals and vegetation became easier to find.
But Diego remembered. And that was enough.