She could see the house far off in the distance. A small outline but she could see the yard in her mind, connecting to the woods. Right in the middle of the path she stood. A wince of pain raced through her back as she took a step. Her wounds had yet to heal. It had been two days already. So far, she had scrounged of the land giving herself time to rest. The events replayed themselves in her head over and over again.

"Damn that Akakabuto." She thought with vigor and resolve.

Once she was a hunting dog, quite a good one at that. The only female amongst her team yet she was treated like one of the boys. Whatever her master Sadawa ordered she followed. Bird catching was her specialty, something she prided herself in an passed down. Her mother held that skill and more than likely her daugh-. That word made her stop.

Being a female her owner saw her fit to breed. That was when she first met him. A saluki just like her, a strong male. Love was a different matter altogether. Did she ever love him? And he her? Admittedly, she was taken in by his handsome looks, an attraction formed. It was the first time she had ever been with a male. Perhaps it was just lust instead of love. For the moment his business was done, he left.

His mark had been left for she soon bore his seeds nine weeks later. Motherhood was a new concept to her but she accepted it. Maybe it was the instinct born into her. The pups grew pure breed's. It didn't matter if they weren't born out of love, They were her babies. Three healthy boys and a little girl. Of course in time two of the boys were given away leaving her with the twins. Those were happy times but now thinking about them now brought her nothing but pain.

It was a typical day, she would go hunting and her children would stay behind. Things took a turn for the worst as the demon that was Akakabuto attacked. One by one her friends fell. She awaited her master's words as the monster ran his claws across her back. Then she saw the human running away. Sadawa had left her for dead. There she laid feeling every ounce of blood drop. Perhaps the bear wanted to let her die torturously slow. But she lived by sheer luck. However something was tarnished, trust for humans.

She couldn't go back, not to him. The collar around her neck would stay not being able to get it off herself, a reminder of days long gone. Her friends were dead, they needed to be avenged it was that simple. That would mean something though she would have to leave. That decision brought her back here. Her heart ached for the two she loved. They couldn't come with her. Still too young they were for the world.

"It's better this way." She told herself. If anything happened to them because of her desire of revenge, she wouldn't be able to live with herself. Maybe they would grow into good dogs or sold to caring owners. Rumors abound of a slowly growing group in the wild. A pack of dogs who were seeking to overthrow Akakabuto. It could have been a wild goose chase but part of her decided to take that chance.

Final images flashed through her head as she turned around. One of her son, bright, happy and obedient to his elders. Then there was her daughter, feisty, a bit of a mouth, but lovely all the same.

"I love you both." Cross whispered right before she left. She allowed herself to cry as she went off into the unknown. A last display of weakness, in the world of males.


"But I'm HUNGRY!" The young puppy bounced up and down on the edge of the wooden porch.

"Mom's not here, and neither is any of Sawada's dogs. Wait for them to come back, idiot!" The other young puppy put her paws over her ears. "You're such a whiny baby!" She yawned a few times. She was hungry as well, but she knew when to keep quiet about it. Her brother, on the other hand, always was crying for their mother to come home. He whined one last time before deciding that his sister wouldn't give him any sympathy, like usual, and bounded into the small yard, jumping up and down, snapping at the air.

Their yard only extended a short way before ending in front of a part gravel part asphalt road and melting into the woods on the other side. Though the woods was large place, and tempted the puppies to explore in it, they stayed out of it. Their mother would always keep them away from it, warning them of hawks and other animals that could eat them or be a hazard to them. If any of them ventured into it, their mother would immediately track them into the dense trees and bring them back with much scolding and chiding. While this discouraged them, the stories told to them by one of their mother's friends simply fueled them more. He had long floppy ears like a Dachshund, but was taller and had short fur that would shed often. But they didn't care. He would constantly tell them stories about what hunting in the woods was like. How the leaves crunched under your feet, how you tracked boars, and how their mom and another one of her friends could leap higher than anyone else and snatch birds right out of the air.

Even with all this story telling, they particularly liked to hear stories about Bears. The thought of Bears existing seemed impossible to them, especially if they were anything like he told them they were.

"They tower over any kind of dog in the world, they've got pelts that are three times thicker than a dogs, and their main weak spot is right above their fierce, sharp teeth. And on top of that, they can stand up, taller than a human, and can swat at you with their long, sickle like claws! GRRRRRR!"

At this point, they would always jump backwards and squeal with joy as their mother's friend would imitate a Bear. But it had always been a game. Her mother had three or four friends that lived with the human Sawada further down the road. Their master would often come to talk to their mother's master, and Cross, their mother, would leave with them to go hunting. They'd often come back much later, Pheasants and prey in their jaws or in their master's hands.

But they had been away much longer than usual today. The young male puppy was still jumping around the yard, imitating the way his mother jumped at overhead birds. "Grrrr! Grrr!" The female puppy finally got off the porch and joined him. They'd just managed to forget their hunger and their mother's absence when they heard a panting noise. The scent of their master filled their noses.

"Mom!" They bother yelped and ran toward the smell. But it wasn't their Mother.

The master staggered up into the yard, a thick but runny red liquid covering the top part of his head and running down slashes on his arms and body. He grasped his left arm, which was bent in an awkward and sloppy position. Their mother and her friends weren't with him. The puppies ran up to him, yelping and barking at him. The scent around him was the same as the one that surrounded the dead birds their mother brought home. "Where's mom? What happened? What's wrong with you?" He ignored them, and staggered even faster when he was in the yard. They followed him, running loops around his legs as he walked.

When he made it to the door, he collapsed on it, rubbing some red liquid on it and gasping before he stumbled into the house. He let go of his arm and ripped the phone off its receiver. Swearing and panting hard, he clumsily dialed a number on it. The young puppies were still barking at him. The dial rang once. The young male barked even louder. "WHERE'S MOM?"

"SHUT UP!" The master roared, kicking at both of them. They yelped in surprise and pain before skittering off into the room's corner. The dial connected. He continued gasping, and fell against the wall.

"SEND HELP! IT'S ANOTHER BEAR ATTACK! AKAKABUTO!" The red liquid; blood; ran down the side of the phone. He screamed out the directions to his house before fainting.

In a short time, loud cars with sirens skidded into the driveway. The puppies had been licking at their master, trying to mop up his blood and whimpering. This didn't go on for much longer, as soon other humans lifted him into the back of one the cars and drove off, screeching. A few hours later, more people filled the house, and Sawada came and took the puppies away. They tried to enter the woods where their master had entered, but Sawada jerked them away and packed them into the back of his car as people with guns and shovels exited the same place. Fresh dirt and the scent of blood clung to the shovels.

The two puppies never saw their mother again.


Cross felt her stomach rumbling. She growled in frustration, though it quickly drifted off into a pitiful whimper. Her wounds were barely being held closed by the thin scabs stretched over them, as Cross had not stayed still for more than a few minutes after being hurt. She'd walked off into the woods, and had gone off with the purpose of scenting any food or resting places she could rest at before moving on elsewhere. Sort of like skipping between stations until she healed and could go after Akakabuto again. It had seemed like a fairly simple plan- but she had only STARTED with a purpose. Soon after walking for a short while, she soon noticed that her nose was beginning to dull, and she couldn't smell anything else. The air had seemed like a thick soup of dust when she'd tried to breathe it in, and it had looked like it as well when she'd been walking along.

A red haze had formed along the corners of her vision. It circled her like a demented halo.

Cross highly doubted angels had anything to do with it.

The plants and all the ground in front of her blurred slowly, like looking through a thick tinted window. Cross's legs were wobbling, and her wounds themselves seemed to be buzzing in and out of conscientiousness. The pain would burn, and then fade out. She could only partially sense the drying blood that ran down the sides of her mouth in multiple lines of varying thickness. The lines were so varied and patterned, Cross felt as though it looked like she was wearing her veins outside her neck when they should be buried under the surface of her skin.

All the plants and foliage seemed to be repeating themselves over and over again now. Light green blur, dark green blur, light green blur, dark green blur, light greenblurdarkgreen.

The ground and the red haze swallowed Cross's vision and senses whole like the jaws of Akakabuto.

Static hissed in her ears.

Her feelings washed out from her like mud of off a slick stone.

Time had no meaning. So it passed.

And passed.


Suddenly, something moved her nearly feeling-less body, prodding what she thought to be her neck. Then her cheek. Finally, her body left the ground, and Cross abruptly felt a large weight pressed into her belly, akin to lying on a log with your legs and head dangling off. Except swaying accompanied this feeling. If Cross had been conscientious, she might have heard the multiple voices talking or realized that one of the dogs had picked her up. But Cross wasn't exactly conscientious. So that realization never came before she passed out.

In the darkness she sat and waited. So long she had waited it seemed like an eternity as an often put quote went. What she was waiting for she didn't know. A sign was coming that was all she knew. It seemed that was all they did was wait. As the quite said it had nearly been an eternity. Above the world was moving, changing. The only news she gathered were from spies sneaking about the upper world. They had reported much so she sent them out numerous times, some making it back while others.

All she knew was of the bears. Advancing their might they had nearly overtaken the mountains. The humans may have tried to stand against them but they fell. One demon bear single handedly saw to that. Pitiful really, nothing but a brute over lording his strength.

As much as she would have liked to rise it was not to be. It was not their time. She waited and waited basking in the darkness that surrounded her. It brought a form of comfort. The only light were her own eyes which shown like little lamps.