You not only are hunted by others, you unknowingly hunt yourself.”
-Dejan Stojanvic, The Sun Watches the Sun
Tala had decided to hunt for none other than the Caribou; Alpha had mentioned that would bring her the most respect. Therefore, she had set off from Leela and Olive to seek the deliciously hearty meat of the deer that would – once it had been brought down – would go to the Meating Place to be either buried or eaten that night. The Day today was perfect weather the fresh rain had taken away most of the old smells that had accumulated over the past days so all smells were fresh and lovely themselves. The trees were ever more colorful with the reds and yellows. The only unfortunate part of the day, which in its self was not too terrible but still a down side like for any other day. Was the biting cold that hinted at snow that was to come later during in the day. After walking the territory for many miles Tala found a hint of a scent that seemed to be Caribou so she set off to where the smell led. Slowly as she walked Tala felt ever more uneasy as the trees grew barer and the forest ever more unfamiliar. Tala knew she was far out of her territory but she still had not found the herd so she pressed on forward. Without warning, the scent veered of to the left. The caribou were being pursued. Tala tried to find the scent of what had been or was hunting the same animals as her but all she could smell was the antagonizing smell of fear in Caribou, which was amazing this time of year. In the trees, Tala could see lone crows that hacked and spat at each other. Moreover, far off was the sound of ongoing thunder. Tala now moving substantially slower grew scared for nothing seemed right. Squirrels did not even chatter in this area as if it were forbidden.
Then to the right a timid fawn stepped out most likely the herd was around here somewhere. Tala liked her lips anxiously still waiting for any adult to come out. A step off to the left made her whip her head to see what it was. A human boy very young was up ahead running around yelling something that Tala did not understand but seemed strangely familiar. As if a human had spoken to her before. However, Tala dismissed it for when hunters talked around her. Slowly Tala slinked off just as a older boy came out to grab the human child. The older boy looked out into the wood for a second searching for something before returning to his cabin.
Tala was out of breath by the time she reached the pack set up. Most were preoccupied unable to pay attention to the frantic young one, but some looked up and stared as she searched ravenously for something, probably her little inner pack of friends she had. One finally spoke up after being annoyed long enough telling her that her friends were eating. Therefore, Tala would leave, and she did after thanking the mother wolf and showing her, her respect. Tala rushed to the Meating Place with her story to tell. A half smiley, half-terrified face on.
“Olive! Leela!” Tala hollered as the two young wolves came into sight even though they were completely immersed in filling their empty bellies. “You won’t believe what I found!”
“Caribou?” a voice most likely Alpha asked behind her. Tala grew stiff she had totally forgotten about giving respect to Alpha before entering into the Meating Place. He usually resided this place.
“I- I no…” Tala mumbled embarrassed, her cheeks glowing red for a second “ I could not find any caribou the- they veered off into human territory.”
“Then can you explain why you are in the Meating Place?”
“Then please go get caribou, Hare or squirrel before I set you out of the pack!” Tala now terrified turned tail and ran out of the encampment. To find the caribou that she had originally set out to get.
After an hour or so of hunting for a scent, Tala found one of many of caribou. She followed the intoxicating smell until they were in sight. When Tala came to find them she found not three or four but at least ten caribou who seemed to not only be sick and weak but also big and meaty. Tala licked her lips as she slid forward searching for the easiest target. One in the middle moved sluggishly around looking for a place to lie and sleep as night was setting in. That one, Tala thought, will be the prize I bring home. Tala waited until most Caribou were asleep before crawling ever-closer drawing in on her prey. As darkness put a blanket over the land, Tala took a deep breath. She started to flick her tail. It counting the seconds for her before she leapt. One. A smile of pure malice came to her face…two her muscles tensed drawing in energy, as they got ready to release into power… Three! Tala lunged forward there was no stopping her predatory instincts now, not until she had brought down one of the great Caribou. Tala landed on the prey she had chosen with practiced precision. Tala locked her claws into the tough, chewy skin of the large animal as it thrashed around. Tala did not particularly love how adrenaline packed animals tasted. However, there were not many that did not have it for it was rare for the animal not to fight back. The fight was half the fun any ways. Tala started to sweat despite the cold as the buck thrashed back and forth, back and forth. As the animals adrenaline started to fade so did it’s energy. He stumbled and tripped now blinded by fear and exhaustion. Tala waited still knowing that the opportunity would come when it was ready. Abruptly the animal stopped and froze sending Tala hurtling off despite her hold. With the animal still frozen Tala got up to go for the arteries. Unfortunately, before she could reach the weak deer she was knocked off course. As she regained her balance, the lead buck one of the few that had not been weakened by sickness, ran up before her blocking her way so she would no longer hit nor harm the caribou she had originally picked as prey. White puffs of steam came out of the big buck’s nostrils Tala and him both looked on eye to eye, both looking for a weak spot in the others defensive positions. Tala could wait all night if she had to and obviously this buck could also. Tala was about to dash when the worst kind of thunder came. The thunder of a human’s gun. Everything went still. As if time had itself been frozen, BOOM! There it was again and just as before closer caribou started to run around Tala even the lead buck, but Tala need to bring back a caribou. The prey that had been previously injured so it could not move as fast as the others could in fact it was quite a bit slower, trailing behind even the sick and old. Tala regained with her wits and quickly came upon him and brought him down with a quick bite. As she left there was another roll of thunder from a gun and a boy stepped into the clearing in time to see a snow white wolf ‘s tail disappear into the forest, a skinny and sick caribou slowly dragging behind it. Before it was hidden from view with underbrush and the snow that was falling evermore steadily hinting that the first blizzard was to come with it bringing an early winter. The boy watched the place the tail had disappeared before a meaty hand fell onto his shoulder signaling him to pay attention.
Tala was starting to regret her choice of a buck as her prey for a red trail was falling behind her and she was growing tired. Tala let the caribou out of her mouth and sat resting for a second to regain her strength. Panting she looked up to the sky although she could not see anything it was comforting to know that the first snow had come. She liked how the tiny white ice particles fell lazily as if they themselves were living. Tala sighed looking down at the deceased caribou before her. Was this really worth it? She could just go rouge. It was not like the other wolves other than her tiny pack of friends would care or, for that fact even know, she had gone. She though, was hard to forget in the pack. Considering that she seemed to be part human and part wolf herself so belonged to neither of the groups though she did wish the human part of her was gone and dead. Tala started to pull the carcass through the snow that grew all the more and showed no hint of stopping any time soon. A squirrel chattered it’s last goodbye before snuggling up in its tree hole. I wish I were a squirrel thought Tala as she stared at the hole passing her by. No responsibilities just fun and games. Tala shook her head. No she did not want to be a squirrel, yes, she would love not to have any responsibilities, but squirrels did not hunt and hunting was the most amazing thing in the world. Behind it was just eating then playing. Therefore, Tala decided she did not want to be a squirrel. With that thought, Tala smiled a proud smile one that gave her all the strength she need to get to get home.
“Mmmm” Tala could not hide her joy as she ate all that was wonderful. Alpha had been very pleased when she had brought the caribou. So much so that he made sure, she got one of the best sleeping spots the night before. Many wolves had gathered around as she lugged the big animal in to the pack clearing. Some cheered but most gasped in utter surprise. Most hunting wolves could not bring down a full-grown caribou themselves. Many whispers followed her as she solely pulled the deer to the Meating Place. One of the betas had run off to wake Alpha from his slumber. The Pups were the most amazed though. As most of them had never seen any, especially not an Omega bring down a fully grown caribou. It was in fact unheard of for an Omega to bring down a caribou by herself.
“Hey can I share that?” a voice came behind her. Tala nodded, her head still immersed in her food. An unpredictable cream wolf came up beside her and started to nibble on the little scraps Tala had left as Tala herself wiped her mouth- one of her more annoying human habits that had come from before she could remember.
“So you brought in a caribou last night, huh?” Marrok stated dully his tone flat “impressive.” Tala did not reply at first, it seemed he was thinking about something important, and was trying to put it into words. So they both just sat and awkwardly stared at the bare bones in front of them.
“I think we are mates!” Tala all of a sudden burst out, now her breath was ragged sounding and seemed to be irregular as if she had been running or straining her limits.
“Wait w-what did you say?”
“I said that I think we are… mates,” Tala now did not squeak nor mumble. “Two nights ago-when you found me on…After we… I felt a connection, and I don’t know what it is but I think I love you Marrok” Tala could not bear to look at what Marrok’s face might say. She was fearful there might be disgust or a hint of pity in his face, so she looked at the ground not trusting any more words of her’s to come out, not trusting herself to do anything really.
“Me too,” Tala shot her head up in disbelief. A wolf she had known all her life one that she had felt a connection with. The only one she had felt a connection with in all of her lived life in her pack had felt the same impossible connection that she had. Tala could not contain her happiness of the moment and she did something she had not done for years. She did something that she had only done once since her could remember. Tala hugged a wolf. Tala hugged Marrok. Tala let part of herself, part that she fought so hard to hide, show. Tears fell out of her eyes, joy flowing from her. No other wolves were in the Meating Place, as breakfast had ended twenty minutes ago. Tala and Marrok sat completely alone.
There was only one problem with their relationship, she was an Omega, and he was the son of Alpha. Sure, they could be mates and show their affection in public, the down side to their mating was that as long as Tala had the place of Omega, she could not bear the pups of Marrok. Tala needed to gain the respect of the whole pack to become subordinate, possibly a hunter, or a caretaker if the young. However, as long as Tala stayed an Omega no pups would exit her womb.