july

Raptor Red and her pack left the chick a few hours later. Raptors aren't cold blooded, but to remain any longer than that feeds no bellies, besides, it was the game of natural selection. If the chick had lived, he very well might have ignored a much stronger scent warning of a stronger, more potent poisonous from other prey species. In either case, he very well might have died, except probably with more dedicated time and effort done on his parents part to ensure his survival. As such, even though Raptor Red suffers a loss now, she has been spared an even greater loss later on in her life. After all, it is only natural for the living to die, but it is harder to deal with once a long and strong attachment has been made.

By the time they returned to the kill, their tro-odont friends were playing games in, around, and through the iguanodont rib cage. A sentry, one of the adults, stands on the shoulder of the carcass, watching for any signs of the hated local Deinonychs packs. The little creature sees his raptor friends, and chirps a friendly greeting, as it jumps from its perch. Little tro-odont feet pit-patter across the needled forest floor, the adults slowing down first, followed by their young. They sense something wrong, and with the raptor chicks looking very sullen, it was very wrong.

Scarlet numbly follows her parents. The left side of her face still smarts, and grimacing in raptor fashion only makes it worse. So instead, she remains stone faced, watching her father peer back at her from time to time, but mostly he reassures his mate. Scarlet's cousin and Raptor Red's niece comforts Red on the other side. Her mate keeps an eye on the packs' chicks.

Once near the iguanodon carcass, Raptor Red stumbles, then falls, moaning, still grieving for her lost chick. The adult tro-odonts exchange knowing glances, putting two and two together. It was obvious. Out of the five combined chicks, one was missing. The adults gather their youngsters, and gave the raptor pack some quiet time.

Scarlet watches her family proceed through social grievances. Chicks remain cuddled or near their parents, her father and cousin lean against the fallen mother on either side. Her cousin's mate steps in when he can, but the movement is awkward. It's the families first loss as a unified pack, and the fact that the male doesn't have the close relationship as the other two keeps him a bit out of the loop. Eventually, he gives up and saunters over to Scarlet, who still is aware, but completely devoid of awareness. The chick doesn't even fully comprehend she's no longer alone until the warmth of his tongue clears her face of the remaining dried blood.

Scarlet squeaks in surprise. Her cousin's stocky consort isn't usually cuddly with her mother's chicks, nor vice versa with his chicks and her father. Though both males understand that each others goals is to successfully raise chicks, and their combined packs has made life golden, so the least they could do is father each others chicks…

Even so, Scarlet needs someone more trust worthy. She turns away from her sub-father, and approaches her parents. Both were already preoccupied. Still, to cuddle with family was far more reassuring. Scarlet strode around her father, stepping over the stiff bangle tail known in the raptor realm. Rounding her fathers exceptional male frame, Scarlet comes face to face with her mourning mother. She doesn't like the sound she's making, but right now, she doesn't care. She pushes her wounded snout forcefully at first, into her mother's soft belly skin, and then tenderly when her face erupts into little burning sensations.

For a moment, Raptor Red's crying stops, her golden eyes taking in the ruined face of her pretty daughter. Her hand falls from its cradled position, and sets delicately on Scarlet's back.

Together, the family mourns till dusk.

One by one, the raptors stretch and then begin the trek back to the segno cave. Leaving the remainder of the carcass to the tro-odonts and the dactyls. They have not forgotten the chick by now, since the reminder is imprinted on Scarlet's face, but not even the kind hearted Raptor Red can see the reason in idle depression. Tomorrow they must feed their chicks, but for now, the warmth and safety of the cave is very welcome for the exhausted pack.

It is early morning; a time where the sun should have hit the mountaintop long ago, yet the gray gloomy caste kept the light from revealing the summer glory of the woods. Raptor Red and her consort stand at the cave's entrance, sniffing and staring. Her niece and her consort join her after renewing the scent markings at the base of the hill.

Thunder rumbles to the west, and again in the east; louder and closer that time. She can feel the ?barometric? pressure drop. Raptor Red doesn't like it. Such signs means a bad storm, a bad storm means an uncomfortable pack, an uncomfortable pack means bad moods, and bad moods all around means hunting today will be a bear, not including the rather unstable moods of their prey. No. We will not go hunting today, she thinks as she looks at her mate. He looks at her, coming to the same assessment, and together they head back into the safety of the cave.

At least, she would have if her niece hadn't bumped her, rather hard too, on the flank. For a split second she remembers her niece doing this exact same thing, except then it was right before Raptor Red's sister's tragic death. Another bump, and an insistent stamp follows. Her niece wants to go hunt, and she's acting just like how her mother would have.

Raptor Red's niece's mate appears to agree with Raptor Red and her consort, though by the way he keeps looking back between the two, it is obvious he doesn't know who he should support. Raptor Red and her mate's decision seems to be the most logical… He's bumped, rather roughly, from his mate. Briefly he watches her, chuffs as if to say, If you insist, before he follows after the taller form of his mate.

Raptor Red exchanges a glance with her consort. Both realize the futility of this hunt, yet both are reluctant to let them hunt alone.

Little bodies press up against Raptor Red's calf. They hadn't been awake to see their parents leave. Raptor Red The wind rushes between the trees, making Red shiver.

Raptor Red's made up her mind. Her mate and herself will stay to protect the chicks. After all, the chick's sensitive bodies couldn't cope with the weather anyway.

Another chick, bigger then the others, and Raptor Red's other niece, stands tall next to the adults. She's staring down slope, sniffing deeply. She can just barely smell her sister. She looks up at her aunt, back down slope, then drops her hands, as if to say, Oh, what's the point. She'll be long gone anyway.

If Raptor Red was given the complex facial expressions, she would have smiled. The chick has been acting more and more like the adults. She knows that the chick wants to take on more of the adult activities. She's helped bring back food to her siblings when the weather hasn't permitted the youngsters to follow. Raptor Red gives her niece an affection muzzle-nuzzle, before she leads the families back to the segno caves.

Raptor Red sits on the cushioned pad of her hip bone; an adaptation inherited from her ancestors that is bird-like in proportion. The angle and strength of the bone is capable of bearing her weight in a completely upright position. As such, only raptors are capable of sitting this way, all others sit straight down, with their shoulders close to the ground.

Upright, Raptor Red stares into the stormy abyss beyond the warmth and safety of the segno cave. She can see no more then a few feet out in the roaring down pour. "Sssnuuuuuuffch," she sighs. There's still no sign of her niece and mate. It's too dark to see much more then the moonlight reflected in the rain. The chicks and her mate are sleeping, but for Raptor Red, who is a late-night raptor, sleep isn't an option. She's too worried about her sister's oldest chick to attempt some rest anyway.

Raptor Red hears ghurking noises behind her. She turns to look, her eyes adjusting from the moonlit glow to the shadowy contours of the cave. She can barely make out a massive shadow leave the bark nests. Her keen sense of smell tells her its her mate long before she can make out the familiar shadowed outline of her male.

He comes and sits besides her, keeping company and keeping watch with her. After a while he applies the leaning gesture. Raptor Red leans back, sighing again, content, despite her worry.

That contented bubble popped. Two glistening, silver-lined figures enter the cave. Raptor Red and her consort set immediately to their feet, "HSSSssssssss," then they fall silent.

It's Raptor Red's niece and her male. Both are agitated, her niece more so then her mate. For a moment, Raptor Red thinks it is her sister back from the dead. The way her niece flails her arms and hisses is exactly what her sister would be doing right now.

All her commotion wakes up the chicks, who stare up at the agitated adults, they stare open mouthed, the youngest ones have never seen their mother behave this way, the oldest of them has, and she seeks the safety of Raptor Red's belly skin. The tro-odonts who have sought shelter deeper in the recesses of the cave wake up, see the aggressive raptor, and hide further along in the tunnel works left behind by the segnosaur previously killed by Raptor Red's sister.

Raptor Red takes the initiative and draws up to her niece, cooing and making grooming movements. Raptor Red's mate avoids the agitated female completely. He can still remember his mate's sister's malevolence, and he personally doesn't want a repeat of last year. The other male, on the other hand, has calmed almost completely. Now that he is out of the weather, he's feeling a ton better, and now helps Raptor Red in calming his mate. He touches her delicately on the flank with his muzzle. She flinches, looks to see who touched her, before she stretches to return the gesture on her mate's muzzle.

Raptor Red relaxes, then heads back to her nest beside her mate. After all that excitement, she could use a long rest.