*Warning: Graphic Imagery/Strong language.*
As if by an invisible force, the entire pack shifted. Excitement kept building in his chest.
Chris dropped his head again.
“We're going to keep down wind.” Chris said.
He nodded while Chris continued where he left off.
“A good herder is invaluable. Quinn knows what to look for in potential prey. She's excellent at isolating targets from it's herd. She's fast and light on her feet. Her reaction time is automatic.”
He looked back at Quinn. A new feeling of respect filled him.
A sudden nudge on the shoulder in her direction. Quick glance at Chris. The look told him it was time to separate. Anxiety flared.
“I won't be far.” Chris said in a gentle whisper.
That sweet scent again.
Even though that unique smell still created confusion within him, it provided a slight comfort as he reluctantly headed in her direction.
He kept at a respectful distance. This time he didn't let anything distract him. He watched her like a hawk.
He wanted to be a good pack leader.
The musk was getting stronger. Collective sour was building. He could feel the energy zapping across the pack. Anticipation was out weighing his nervousness.
He noticed Quinn glancing over her shoulder a couple times. Unable to think of another response, he nodded every time. She started to slow down until they were shoulder to shoulder.
“Hey pup, you stalkin' me?” Her whisper was teasing.
He nervously laughed, “Yeah, Chris wants me to watch you today.”
He could see a sparkle in her gray eyes.
“You don't have to watch. I'll let you help out…”
An itch of eagerness hit his paws.
She ran through some basics. They were easy enough to handle. He felt more confident.
The musk slapped him right across the nose. Quinn instantly darted and the pack cleaved. He tried to keep up with her, still watching her every move while trying to pin point where the musk was coming from.
Sharp, wicked, spiked antlers rose from a distance. Brown pelts of a bull and two cows shown in the rays of light breaking through the forest canopy. The tiny herd was sauntering. Each of the magnificent beasts were so much larger than he was expecting.
For a moment he was in awe.
It was cut short because Quinn was somehow crouching down but picking up speed. She slinked through trees, shrubbery, and brush. The other herders were doing the same. Desperately he tried to keep quiet as he willed himself to go faster so he wasn't left behind.
One of the cows was skittish. He could see it from the corner of his eye. She kept jerking at random intervals. Her head snapping in several directions every time.
They were half way behind them now. Quinn's focus was definitely on that cow. He made note.
It happened faster than he could blink.
The cow darted too far from the buck. Blur of black, gray and brown in her direction. He pumped his hind legs and was after them.
Snarls, snaps, growls. It was blinding.
Quinn was a flash. Herders were fanning. He tried to keep track of where his place was in the circle they were creating.
Muscles over stretched as he kept leaping and twisting. Heart throwing blood through his body.
The cow was zig-zagging. Changing endless directions. Trying to get back to the small herd that had quickly abandoned her.
Quinn was in the way. She snarled it back into their ever closing circle, her dance exactly mirroring the cow's.
He focused on his window. Keeping the distance even. No escape route, no opportunity. It was like a clock, his number equidistant to the others. Snarls and jaws clicking shut kept going in waves.
Adrenaline was mind melting. Every time the wild eyes of the cow spun to face him, growls and snarls left his muzzle.
He could feel the way their circle moved with her. Her escalating fear, desperation, and despair washed over him.
It made him hungry.
Chris appeared as if from thin air.
A glorious feeling raged through him as he watched his jaws connect and sink into the nares of the cow half way through his leap.
Gray and blood.
The cow was letting out bellowing whines as it's head was jerked down by Chris's body weight.
A surge of volatile pent up destruction. Paws, teeth, and claws flooded his vision. Jaw after jaw after jaw clamping down. Her head flashed above the pack. Nose completely gone. Bellowing breath shot blood through the gnarled holes of where it used to be. Flesh on her neck hung like torn drapes. They flicked liquid life when she moved.
He could feel it landing on his ears.
The cow was fighting, but it was useless. Droplets of red painting the air. Frightened bellows still echoing. Jerking growing weak.
Crumbling into a heap. Swarmed like fire ants.
His body called him to it. He wanted a taste. Wolves avoiding hooves flowed like a wave.
The temporary vacancy let him in.
Gargles followed by organic snapping. A flash opening in all the commotion let him watch the final blow.
Chris's entire head was bloodied as the thick liquid dripped from his chin. Her wind pipe and artery was clamped between his teeth. The cow's twitching body jerked as he violent ripped at it. With a powerful lurch it disconnected from the base of her skull.
It had a singular effect. The kicking stopped. The pack paused.
It was like a collective moment of revelation as the life bleed along the ground cover.
Then it was chaos all over again.
He was suddenly shoved to the outskirts. An effort to get back to Chris was futile. He was forcefully pushed out. It didn't feel right to tap into the sudden dominate aggression he was feeling. As much as wanted to use it, he let himself be excluded.
A side glance told him he had the omegas for company. Impatiently he waited. He kept pacing, trying to look in.
Threatening growls and barks filled his ears. Fur was bristling. Bitter scent exploded into the air.
He could see both the heads of Chris and Dad dominating. Hearing material being torn and twisted made him whimper.
He wanted to be part of that.
At last it seemed like the hierarchy was established, as the bitter eventually faded into the sour.
His heart rose when Chris's head, fur now matted down to his skull in dark crimson, rose above the commotion. His blue eyes locked on him for a moment. The blood on him made his irises starkly stand out.
Just as he stepped forward in eagerness to join him, his head disappeared.
His heart fell.
This felt so anticlimactic.
Seconds later he materialized through the fray. Large portions of limp dripping meat were hanging from his jaws. Already he could smell the iron of it on his tongue. He nearly pranced in excitement.
When he reached him, he laid it at his feet.
“Keep an eye on this, I need to get the rest.” His growl was aggressive.
He nodded and watched him melt back into the mass.
Just seeing the meat at his paws made him want to gorge. But he knew better. Instead he stole a sniff and just a taste. It was so gloriously fresh. Even better than when Dad brought the rewards home the day of. The iron stuck to his tongue as he savored it.
The second time Chris brought what looked like a dark maroon bag and the splintered end of a bone.
Dropped at his paws again.
“That should be good enough.” His voice had lost it's growl.
He wished he could smile at him. Instead he offered a wag of his tail and pricked up ears.
“Thanks.” He said in happy gratefulness.
Chris nodded and settled into a sphinx pose beside him. He watched him slowly lick at his paws and forearms.
A bloody bit was clinging just above one eye. It was making him blink incessantly. Chris kept flicking his head to get it lose, but it was stuck. He could tell it was irritating him.
He moved to get it off. It took a couple licks, but finally it came loose. Again he enjoyed the iron blood that played along his senses.
When he pulled back he noticed Chris had completely frozen. His muzzle was still down but his eyes were locked on him in a side glance.
The sweet was radiating off of him. It suddenly made him nervous.
Was that not appropriate?
“Sorry…,” he mumbled, looking away,“…it just looked…really annoying.”
He didn't respond immediately.
“It's fine…Thanks.” That gentle tone.
He stole a look at him. Chris was now staring right at him. Something in his eyes made his heart skip.
“You're welcome.” He replied quietly.
The sweet lingered.
In silence they waited. He watched as the hierarchy went through rounds. At last the omegas got their turn. He hoped they were getting enough. Intently he watched them, keeping mental track of their haul.
A strange feeling entered his chest when he watched mates joyfully nip at each other over their pile of goods. He liked seeing their happiness.
A happy pack was a good pack.
“It's time to bring this all back. I'll take the muscle. The liver and bone won't be too heavy.”
He frowned as he tore his eyes away from the others. Chris was on all fours again.
“We're going to leave the rest?” He asked in curiosity.
He shook his head.
“No, a couple betas will come get it later. It's too heavy to carry. They'll need a truck.”
Chris nosed the liver and bone towards him.
“You did really well.” Chris said as he arranged the flesh with his paws.
He was suddenly elated.
“Really? You saw?”
Chris glanced at him.
“I was watching you the whole time.” He replied.
He wagged his tail. Pride filled him to think the best hunter thought he was helpful.
“It was awesome. Quinn was crazy.” He said in excitement.
“I told you she's the best,” His paused as he looked over the pile, “You kept your window tight and timed your growls well.”
If he could beam, he would've.
“You were fucking awesome. How do you even aim a bite that well?” He squeaked.
“Just a lot of practice, but it wasn't my best. I'm a little rusty.”
“Well, that was damn amazing for rusty. I hope I can do half that someday.” He said in admiration.
Those blue eyes looked him over. Again, he wished he could smile. He just kept wagging his tail.
Chris at last engulfed the meat in his jaws. He did the same with his portion.
Already he was storing little snippets of the hunt in his head. It was better than an action movie.
Jack was gonna drool all over his words on Monday.