I've always enjoyed hunts, the pack prowling through the forest, Paul leading, and Shelby trailing behind. Grace was at my side, her Grey fur stained brown in places with mud from a puddle that Shelby had splashed at her, just because Shelby's Shelby. We carried on through the trees, silently and stealthily, until we reached the edge of boundary wood-and Mercy falls.
"No further, we don't know what drunk with a gun is hanging around here." Ulrik said.
I heard something. Not a deer or a rabbit-a human. I could smell them. Ulrik heard it too, but Paul and Shelby were busy tormenting some rabbit burrow.
"Paul," I whispered.
"Humans. Attack or run?"
He paused for a minute, his head down in thought.
"Can you see them?"
"No, but they are there."
"Okay, stay put, but don't attack if they come close. If you attack, they'll just shoot you."
A rustle through the trees came from behind us, and we all turned to see Rachel, Olivia, Cole, Isabel and Beck trailing behind them, limping and holding up his front left paw.
"What happened?" Paul said.
"Humans," Beck said, "they only had tranquillisers, but we had to make sure they hadn't got you."
"Nope," Grace said, "not yet, anyway."
The group of humans came closer, there was a brown-haired girl, who only looked about twenty, leading them. She had a dart gun slung over her shoulder, but the other four men had theirs aiming. At us.
We all froze. I felt the fur on my back stand up as they came closer. Ulrik started growling quietly, and soon Paul and Cole joined him. Shelby was baring her teeth and Isabel was whining with her ears lying back. but I did nothing. I just stared. I could feel a small growl building up inside me, but I kept it back. She recognised me staring like a pet dog at her, she knew I wasn't going to attack her.
"Wait," she gestured with her hand to the four men, "they seem quiet."
"Quiet?" One of the men exclaimed, "they're growling like crazy!"
"Put your guns down, then you'll see."
The four men obeyed and dropped their guns so they rested over their shoulders. Almost instantly, the pack ceased any noise and just stood, staring blankly.
"What's wrong with them?" The man said.
"Nothing," replied the woman, "probably too much human contact."
"Can you see any pairs?"
"Those two over there look like they're together, the white one and the grey one next to her."
She pointed to Shelby and Beck, who were inadvertently standing right next to each other. As soon as she did this, Beck growled and moved away from Shelby, he didn't want anyone thinking Shelby was his mate.
"That's odd," the woman said, "he seemed to understand me."
Paul gave Beck a why-did-you-just-do-that? look, and Beck just snarled at him.
"Load them onto the trailer and take them back to the reserve," she concluded, "find which ones are mates, and we can give the least promising pair to them."
Who was them? I didn't like the sound of it. I sent a telepathic message to Paul: 'run?'.
'No, we'll be fine, just play along with it," he replied.