Hey guys, I'm back with my second fan-fiction. Cheers to hoping it comes out as good as my first one did. Rate and review please!
Note: I do not own any of the Ice Age characters, just the added characters, Marie and Tino.
Blades of grass gently shifted to the left against one another as the winds, while soft, were unrelenting. The contact with foliage caused a frequent crackling, breaking the nightly calm provided by nature. No animal in their right mind would choose to travel in this kind of darkness, granted that they were unprotected.
A pack of six tigers, on the other hand, could threaten, or provoke anything they so chose. This time of night proved to be perfect for using the clear meadows as their playground, and the size of the pack, while a majority of them being cubs, proved to be advantageous in any sort of situation. And while only five of the six tigers were grouped together, the last of them was an large, muscular male, who could petrify anything that moved. Unfortunately for the smaller animals, he was out on his hunt.
And even worse, he was extremely hungry.
The other five tigers resided in the open fields. The mother, Marie, kept an eye out for her mate, as well as anything that moved; anything smaller than her would make a fine snack for her and her children. Three of the other four tigers, all very young, but very active cubs, were combating their urge to eat by sparring with each other. Roughhousing was the only form of entertainment for the cubs at this time of night, and while the exercise was normally encouraged by adults of the pack, Marie wasn't having any of it tonight.
"Enough. Can't you all just sit down for one second? You don't see Oscar wasting his energy." Perhaps the lack of a meal in the day was enough to put her on edge to the point of being downright irritated with any sort of audible yelling or growling, which was common with the four cubs all being males.
"Oscar always sits out. Besides, what good is a tiger who can't eat? If I keep myself busy, I don't have to worry about eating."
"Soto, just because you're older, doesn't mean you get to talk down to me." Soto scowled to his mother's words - he was expected to give nothing but respect to his elders, and even more so, being the most fit and in the best shape to lead his brothers as a group of their own; they were all growing up, and soon, they would have to part ways from their parents.
"You sure aren't the smartest, either."
"Shut your mouth, Diego - before I do it for you; just because you're smaller doesn't mean I won't lay claw on you to punish you."
"Soto! You will do no such thing to your brother. You're lucky that we haven't thrown you out with how poor your behavior is. Zeke over here can't even get a breath of sleep since you drew blood from him. Now he's always on edge about everything and can't even look at his own mother face to face without getting shaky. Be grateful that you still have your father giving you food from his occasional hunts." Marie's threats seemed to be the only way to get through to Soto; his suddenly acquired brash attitude irked everyone in the family, even his own mother who was typically defensive toward his father's abrasive responses when any disrespect was intended had to put her foot down.
"He acts just as bad to me as I do to him, why should I give him the benefit of the doubt?"
"Because I'm your mother, and you will do as I say. Unless, you don't want to have a meal tonight. That, and you won't be included in the big surprise that is planned for all four of you, tomorrow." She grinned, knowing that the boys would stop whatever they were doing, being the nosy group of cubs they were. Oscar, who was sitting fairly close to his mother, stood at attention, while Diego and Soto turned, anxious to pull little bits and pieces in hopes of figuring out exactly what it could be. Zeke slowly inched over toward his mother, overly conscious of how walking, extremely jittery, but for the first time in a while, planted his behind to the floor while remaining fairly calm.
"What kind of surprise you talkin' about?" The sound of Oscar's voice was quite abnormal to hear at this time hour; the usually angry-for-no-reason, anti-social tiger, who was unwilling to play with anyone or take a joke from anything gave his own bit of chat in the form of sarcasm - a not-so-rare occasion when being addressed in the first place.
"You know full well, that..." Being the mother of four children usually resulted in interruption of discussion, or even thought; they were told to mind their manners and wait their turn, even if it wasn't two adults being directly addressed.
"...if we tell you, it wouldn't be a surprise. We get it, ma." A bold move by Diego - being the youngest tiger and proving to comprehend something was one thing, but interrupting your own parents when doing so was essentially a sentence to a claw in the fur as punishment.
"Aw, so you're growing up, now are you." Oscar and Soto glanced at each other in a light disgust; talking back to their mother usually resulted in their father yelling words down their throats, one unpleasant recurring memory after another. There was an obvious favoritism toward the youngest offspring; Diego would get the most verbal praise for the smallest of achievements, and even more of a jealousy trigger for the older siblings, he almost never got into trouble with his mother, even for major slip-ups or faults that would result in scolding. Even Oscar shared a small portion of this resentment, despite his regularly silent being. To top it all off, they were expected to keep their mouths closed, to serve as the pillar of manners to their younger brothers.
"Why does Diego always get away with everything? I can't even blink an eye without getting yelled at." Soto, the oldest of the four, periodically complained about the unfair treatment, feeling like he should serve as the parent figure with his age.
"Ask your father."
"I would if he was here, but obviously, he's too busy failing to catch my meal." The other three cubs stared back at Soto, eyes widened with their eyes peeled back; Marie's stern face transitioned into a sarcastic smile.
"Your meal. Well, maybe I should give your meal to your younger brothers, who don't bad mouth me every one of their living seconds." The father, Tino, slowly crept up behind Soto as he spoke, each individual hair in his thick coat touching his son's, inducing shivers and chills not not only to Soto's body, but the other three cubs as well. The strongest thought in everyone's mind, was Soto's punishment; exactly what it would be, no one could ever know.
"I didn't mean t--"
"Yeah, you never mean to do it, that's always your problem. I would have figured you'd know better, but you never do." Tino raised his front paw, above Soto's head, causing all of the cubs to flinch, but swiftly brought it down to slice another small portion from the doe, an odd occurrence; seeing their father break from punishing his children when they did wrong was far out of his playbook.
"Eat. Tomorrow is a very big day. You know the rules, your mother gets the first helping." Tino extended his paw toward his mate, who affectionately accepted it as she moved up toward her meal.
"W-w-what's h-happening tomorrow?" The one-time serenity contained within Zeke subsided, turning into anxiety, causing him to tremble inordinately. He'd been confined to the tiger den ever since the scar near the center of his face, in between the eyes, had been given by Soto - he couldn't even function normally in a daily routine of exercise involving the light play-fighting amongst the brothers. Tino would pester Zeke about not getting involved with Diego, and how he should let go of the past, but he was beyond traumatized. The cubs were told that it 'builds character and strength', although not all of the family approved of it - Oscar's physical build was a clear indication.
"Well, you four are going to help me do some work tomorrow morning. Diego, come and eat." The four cubs all sighed and pulled their ears back - their days typically consisted of sleeping, migrating, exercising, and then eating, rinsing and repeating each and every day. Marie smiled at the reaction.
It wasn't often where Tino asked for help to do anything, and even when he did, he would confide in Marie to help, although the assistance would always be short-lived regardless of how strenuous the work may be, saying that her lean and attractive build as a beautiful tigress shouldn't be damaged. But, the cubs weren't aware of this because his presence in the day was slim to none, charged with the occupation of gathering enough of a meal for the entire pack to eat and last them through the night.
"You need our help? You're so much stronger than we are." Diego was confused knowing that he had never in his life witnessed his father being assisted by anything. In comparison to any other tigers, nothing was stronger was Tino - his unparalleled strength was enough to handle any sort of sane labor, and even some unfathomably difficult tasks where two or more healthy animals would struggle.
"Marie, did you at least let them know that something was happening tomorrow?"
"I told them that it was a surprise, just like you asked."
"Wait. Is your work, our surprise?" Soto spat in disgust, not looking forward to help someone who threatened to take away his meal, even if it was his blood.
"Well, I'll break it to you now so you can stop squirming..." The four younger tigers placed their interest toward their father as he waited to break the surprise.
"...your mother and I, are going to take you on your very first hunt!" Diego jumped up, ears pointed straight to the sky in anticipation of what he would finally get to do; being very fit for his age meant that he would more than likely capture his own meal tomorrow, and from then on, knowing that he wouldn't need to rely on anyone to get his work done. He, like any other tiger, knew that adulthood was obtained by being able to fend for themselves in any situation where they would have needed their adults beforehand. The excitement wasn't evenly spread -- Zeke was still shaking uncontrollably for reasons incomprehensible at the given time, and Oscar had absolutely no emotion at all. With the chance of a lifetime, Soto could finally prove himself as the biggest voice, the biggest member of the pack, in a few hours. But, his narcissistic behavior, like many times before, jumped in front of his priorities.
"Why do you and mom have to tag along with us? Why can't we do it our--" Tino dropped his head to his son with a vicious glare, one so strong that a member of the family could exile themselves upon receiving it.
"Listen here, you ingrate, you've been treating the entire family like a piece of dirt and you should be grateful that I'm giving you the chance to learn how to hunt like a real tiger does. If I don't show you this, you will starve, and I for one, don't want to let a tiger like you go to waste, especially with how strong you seem to be getting on your own. As for the rest of you, go to sleep. You have a busy day tomorrow and I'm only going to explain myself one time - incoherence is not an option."
Zeke and Oscar turned away from Tino and idled themselves to sleep. Diego took a stare at Soto, who had been crushed emotionally. It was beyond pitiful to see another tiger in a state of depression, even more so when the one who brought them there happened to be family. He walked up to Soto and put a paw on his shoulder.
"You have tomorrow to prove yourself." Diego, who had earlier been threatened to receive a scratch in the face by his older brother, went out of his way to ease his mind. He turned back around, and eased himself into the thin grass, near his mother.
"Hmph. Tomorrow, it is." With his father talking down to him as strongly as he did tonight, Soto knew that he had a lot to prove.