Anyone notice that I keep opening chapters with a hunter!Mariana scene? I just love it so much! And she's so badass in this one :)


~One and a half years later~

A nine-year-old saber girl's claws gripped the icy ground as she stalked her prey. Her breath came in short gasps of anticipation. She glanced at her father. With his approval, the hunt would go according to plan. Whether it was deadly or not, it was her choice.

He nodded. Whenever she was ready was good with him.

Her muscles twitched as she analyzed her prey. Small. Agile. Kind of like her. It would be an even match. They were fast. She would have to be faster.

With a snarl, she pounced.

Crash and Eddie screamed as Mariana snarled at them. They froze, wondering whether to run or play dead.

"Run," Mariana growled, as if reading their minds.

They screamed and obeyed. She took chase after them, barely aware of her father following on the side-lines to make sure nothing went wrong. After the flood incident, he had been increasingly protective of his daughter. She rarely went anywhere without him anyway. She didn't mind it; to be honest, she was scared and still had nightmares. She didn't admit it to anyone but her father, but she still stressed about it.

Now, she was putting her stress into catching her older brothers.

They were the closest thing she had to friends in her herd. She loved everyone, but there was barely anyone her age. They weren't her age, but they acted it. That was close enough for her!

She pushed herself forward, chasing them. They split up, and she made a snap decision to go after Crash. Eddie was fast, and Crash had gotten a splinter the other day and was running with a slight hobble.

Diego mentally praised his daughter for her analyzation. Go for the slower, injured, or weaker prey. He almost burst with pride. 'She'll make a great huntress one day,' he thought.

Mariana could feel her strength slowly burning out. She had to end the chase, or it would end in failure. She didn't want to fail, especially in front of her father.

In a burst of incredible strength, Mariana roared- her first real one. It struck fear in Crash and even more pride in Diego. Her paws barely seemed to touch the ground. She was a blur. She zoomed past bushes, stripping them of their leaves. She leapt with a growl.

Crash yelped as he felt something- or someone- tackle him. They rolled around momentarily, before Crash ended up looking up at Mariana's white sabers. She growled menacingly at him, both breathing heavily from the chase. Diego joined them, smiling at her.

"Good job, Mariana! You can let him go now."

Mariana stopped snarling and smiled brightly. She took her paw off of his chest and grinned as she felt his heart still beating rapidly. "Crash, are you okay? Your heart is racing!"

"No, I'm not okay!" he cried. "I thought it was an actual predator!"

Mariana huffed, looking offended. "I am an actual predator! So when you saw it was me, you still ran?"

"You told us too!" Eddie shouted as he came into view.

Mariana rolled her eyes. "Whatev-" She suddenly grinned evilly. "Do I need to show you that I'm a predator?"

They glanced at each other.


Diego rolled his eyes, deciding to sit on a rock and keep an eye on them. Mariana chased them around a field, giggling heavily.

They had found a wonderful village to live in after the flood. Plenty of food for everyone: herbivores like Manny, Ellie, and Sid, omnivores like Crash and Eddie, and carnivores like Diego and Mariana (so long as they agreed to hunt out of the village). The neighbors were moderately nice, the only exception being a pair of beavers. They would always attack the herd verbally, criticizing them and mocking them any chance they got. Their usual victims were Sid and Mariana, "the weak ones" as they had pointed out once...


Mariana, Crash, and Eddie had decided to go play around the river around a year after they found the village. Despite Mariana's near-death experiance with the flood waters, she didn't fear small amounts of it like she used to. In fact, she had a new respect for it. She admired how strong yet graceful it could be. She didn't necessarily love water now, but she could tolerate it.

Mariana had to sneak away from her father. She didn't want him to worry that she was near water. She was a big girl. She could take care of herself.

At first, they had splashed around in a shallow pool of water that had no current.

Crash and Eddie attacked the spunky saber cub with the water. She squealed and laughed, trying to get her bearings straight.

"I'm gonna get you two!" she laughed, then splashed them. The force of the water almost knocked them to their feet, but they managed to remain standing.

They continued playing until they got tired. They sprawled themselves out in a grassy patch by the river, cloud-gazing.

"That one looks like Sid!" Mariana giggled.

"Nah, it's too good looking," Crash dismissed.

"Nice, bro!" Eddie smiled, and they high-fived.

"Oh look, if it isn't the herd of misfits," an obnoxiously high voice sneered. Mariana rolled onto her stomach, glaring at the beavers as they walked toward the trio.

Seeing Mariana's annoyance, Crash and Eddie scurried over to her. "Let's just go," Eddie whispered in her ear.

The beaver husband, Claude, snickered as he saw them starting to turn away. "What? Running home to your so-called 'herd' so soon? Your daddy wouldn't be proud."

Mariana froze at the mention of her father. She slowly turned, much to the protest of Crash and Eddie (who wanted to get out of the potentially harmful situation).

"Don't mock him," she said lowly, crouching down and ready to pounce.

Etta, the wife of Claude, snorted. "It's hard not to. Have you noticed that you two are the only sabers here? There's a reason for that."

Mariana growled, quickly losing the temper she inherited from her father. "Take that back!"

"Don't yell at my wife!" Claude shouted, getting in Mariana's face. Crash and Eddie pushed him away.

"You've got some nerve yelling in a saber cub's face, y'know that?" Crash asked.

"And no morals," Eddie added.

"I'll do what I please," he said arrogantly. "Her and the sloth are the weaker ones."

"I'm not weak!" cried Mariana.

"So, if I suddenly wanted to throw you in the river, you could fight back?"

Mariana and the twins froze. "B-But you wouldn't do that... W-Would you?"

The beavers smiled evilly.

Crash and Eddie's eyes widened as they started advancing. "Mariana, run!" they cried, holding the beavers back to the best of their ability. Mariana ran off, but gasped when she saw Diego jump over her, snarling and growling in the faces of the beavers.

"If you ever think of touching my daughter again, I swear to every god above that you won't even be a corpse when I'm done with you," he snarled, every hair standing on edge.

The beavers quickly left after that, not wanting to deal with the grown saber that was more than capable of doing as he promised.

After yelling at the three for wondering off without his permission, he quickly got Mariana away from the stream, muttering something along the lines of "getting too old for this". To which Mariana replied that she didn't think he was that old, and all was forgiven.


Diego heard Manny approach him, shaking him out of his thoughts. The mammoth looked dazed, and Diego let some of his natural curiousity show. "Hey, what got into you?"

Manny snapped out of whatever trance he had been in and smiled. He practically beemed as he let off perhaps the biggest grin ever. This only made Diego wonder even more. "Gather everyone and meet me at the cave. I... There's something you need to know."

"At least tell me it's good news," Diego pleaded.

"The greatest," Manny breathed, getting misty eyed again. He walked off in the direction of their cave. Diego stared after him, wondering what the heck Manny was talking about.


Mariana came soon aftetr he called, Crash and Eddie on her back. "Yeah, Daddy?"

"Head back to the cave. Manny has something to tell us, and I have to find Sid."

"Let us do it, Diego!" Crash shouted excitedly.

"Yeah!" Eddie energetically agreed. "We'll make sure Mariana doesn't do anything dangerous!"

"Hey!" Mariana shouted, looking offended.

Diego just looked amused. "Now why am I having a hard time believing that?"

"Pleeeeeeaaaaase?" they begged, pouting.

Diego rolled his eyes. "Fine. But if you're not back at the cave in ten minutes, I'm coming after you!"

They cheered and ran off, Mariana's nose planted on the ground to try and find the sloth. Crash and Eddie jumped off of her back as she slowed down. "Catch a scent yet?"

"What do you think?" Mariana asked, scrunching her nose. "You could smell him a mile away!"

They found him around five minutes later, in a stream taking his monthly bath. "Ew!" They all cried, gagging.

"Aw man! Wet sloth smell takes forever to get out of my nose!" Mariana shouted over-dramatically, clutching her nose in her small paw.

"Oh, stop that," Sid admonished, combing through his wet fur with is claws. "I'll dry out in a minute."

"Well, we have to meet back at the cave," Crash said.

"Fine fine," Sid smiled, and Mariana led them back to their cave they claimed as theirs. Diego and two extremely happy mammoths greeted them. Mariana curled up by her father, with Crash and Eddie on her back. Sid sat on a dull stalagmite. Manny looked too happy to talk, so Ellie took over.

"Well, as you guys know, Manny and I have been together for a while..." Crash and Eddie scoffed in disgust, but stayed quiet after a warning growl from the sabers and Ellie. "Anyway... We, uh... We're... I'm pregnant," she finished with a smile.

Everyone froze. Slowly, their reactions played through. Sid fainted. Diego looked happy, but nostalgic. Mariana looked excited and was barely containing the urge to get up and squeal. Crash and Eddie finally closed their mouths long enought to blurt out, "WHAT?" which woke Sid up.

"When... How?" Eddie croaked.


"We know how, Sid!" Crash shouted, sparing Mariana by holding her ears hold. She shook him off.

"Congradulations," Diego smiled, nostalgia still present.

"Awesome! I'm gonna have a little cousin! I bet it'll be a girl!" Mariana shouted, running up and nuzzling Ellie and Manny.

In all of the shock and excitement, no one noticed Diego slip away. Except the mother-to-be. She followed him as he made his way to a grassy snowy field and sat down, looking out at the setting sun. "Why did you follow me?"

Ellie, not surprised that he heard her, asked in reply, "Why did you leave? Are you not happy for us?"

Diego sighed. "It's not that, it's..."

When his eyes misted, she realized what he was trying to say. Manny had told her to never approach the tiger about his mate, but she didn't listen to him. She knew he was worried about how Diego would react, but Ellie knew that he was (remotely) harmless. He had laid down his life for his friends; why would he hurt her when she was his best friend's mate?

"What happened?" Ellie asked gently.

Diego sighed. "Her name was Rose. She was the most beautiful saber in the world, and I'm not just saying that. She had left me with Mariana for the day so she could have a girl's day with her friends, but I'm not complaining. Her decision to leave Mari with me is what I am most grateful for..."

He told his story again (see chapter 6), eyes cloudy. Ellie listened intently, nodding every once in a while to let him know she was listening. He never shed a tear, but he told his story with such emotion that he might as well have been bawling his eyes out. When he was through, he sighed. "I was just remembering the moment Mariana was born, but then that lead me to remember Rose and how she..."

Ellie nodded. "I know." She wrapped her trunk around his shoulder. "I can't imagine what it feels like, but I know that things always get better in the end! You've got us and your little girl. You're at the top of the food chain, and you're an amazing father. You're living the life!"

He grinned. "I suppose..."

"Now cheer up and get in the cave and help me celebrate!" she shouted with a grin. "You may be an amazing father, but let's see how you are at being an uncle!"

He followed behind her, chuckling. "Dear gods, give me strength..."


Who loves filler chapters? :) Just a bridge between the 2nd movie and the 3rd.