Wolves

Lupus dangled his paws off the edge of the small rock outcropping in front of his family's den that overlooked the lake. His tongue hung slightly from his mouth, and his teeth gleamed in the sunlight. Mage and Draven were playing around near the water, and Radar, the red-furred captain of the pack's guard, had just given him another excellent report on the status of their borders. He had a moment of peace, where he could simply sit and relax. These were becoming rarer as he grew older. Soon he would have to take over his father's position as alpha, which he wasn't looking forward to, mainly because he would have to fight his father, but also because he'd have to find a mate. None of the pack's she-wolves interested him.

"Lupus," his father, old and scarred with scars of innumerable battles, walked up to him, limping slightly on his left hind leg. "What was Radar's report?"

"It was the usual," Lupus replied, not shifting his gaze. "After all, nothing happens here anymore." His father sat down beside him, and he too gazed off towards the shimmering waters.

"You know," he said, "Radar is a strong wolf. She would make a good mate." Lupus blanched, leaping to his feet.

"Father!" he exclaimed, "You know I'm not going to have to think about that for another few seasons, at least!" The grizzled old wolf shook his head.

"No," he said, "You should start thinking about these things now. Surely there must be some she-wolf in this pack that has caught your eye?" Lupus pinned his ears and placed his head between his paws, on the rough rock. True, Radar was a beautiful she-wolf, but she was scarred and had a wicked sense of humor, and besides, she was a guard. She kept her distance from most of the others, preferring to be alone, or with Hilary; peppy, happy Hilary, who would meticulously clean her brown fur for hours until it shone, and never passed up the chance to give him a headache. How Radar could stand her, he would never understand.

Then there was Ebony, the white wolf who was born blind. Obviously, there was no way. She was training to be a healer. Miriam, a blue-black furred wolf filled with spirit, seemed like a good choice, but she had eyes for Mage, and he didn't want to anger her and cause her to leave the pack. It had happened before. That only left Feray, the silver wolf who could easily kill a yearling moose, and wouldn't hesitate to do so. She was a bloodthirsty thing, and Lupus and his father had discussed several times the chances of living through driving her from the pack. There were several other female guards, but Lupus knew none of them, and the mothers of pups.

"There is no one father," he said, "I suppose you will be happy to retain your post as alpha a while longer, eh?" But the old wolf shook his head.

"No Lupus. I am becoming too old. And it will not be long before someone realizes it. Especially those like Blade." Lupus shuddered. Blade was a sick thing, born with a deformed paw and a hunger for power. He never bothered hunting unless he was desperate. He was the omega of the pack though, and rarely was anything brought to him.

Just then, both of them felt heavy pawpads thrumming towards them through the rock. Radar ran into sight, her brother Lupo just behind her. Their tongues were trailing from their mouths, and Lupo appeared to be bleeding.

"Alpha Cassian!" Radar gasped, skidding to a halt and bowing her head. "Lupus! There has been- the border-" she looked at Lupo, who continued for her.

"The border- has been breached," he panted, "By a great tan cat." Cassian snarled, whirling around to face the lake. He lifted his scarred, light tan muzzle and howled a long howl. Radar waited two seconds, and then joined him, completing the Guard's Howl. The guard gathered at the rock in a few seconds, fifteen wolves in peak condition, if you didn't count their numerous scars and a few chipped teeth.

"Come my fellows," Cassian called, "A cat has breached our borders! We must drive it away, kill it!" Radar and Lupo led the pack, with Cassian and Lupus just behind them, the other guards following. Lupus's moment of peace had been broken.

Radar crashed through the woods, wondering if it would still be where it had been. Cats cannot be too fast, she thought. Especially when they are injured as this one is. So she was not at all surprised to see the thing lying where Lupo and she had first seen it, a thorn sticking out of one of its front pawpads. But what she didn't expect to see was another wolf pinning itself across the thing's ribcage. She instantly went into an aggressive stance, hackles raised, teeth bared, and ears and tail erect. The other wolf copied her movements, stepping away from the cat.

"Who are you?" The strange wolf asked. "Why do you threaten us?" Radar gave no answer, and dove straight at the others wolf's throat. Only the arrival of Cassian saved the stranger's (and Radar's) life.

"Radar, no!" He barked. Radar stopped dead, as if she had hit a barrier, and landed a foot away from the other wolf. It was a sleek she-wolf, gray, with yellow predatory eyes. She wasn't a yearling, but maybe three or four years old. She had a thin body, and looked as though she would break like porcelain in the slightest breeze.

"Who are you?" Radar snarled, "And why are you protecting that scum?"

"My name is Cassava," the other wolf snarled, "And I am a protector in this forest. Territories do not hinder me; hunters do not trap for me. I am marked with The Eyes." One of the guards stepped forward.

"The Eyes are a myth!" He snapped. "Why would you believe that just because you were born with strange eyes mean that you are safe from all?" There was a blur of gray, and the wolf lay dead on the ground, blood gushing from his throat. Cassava stood over him, her eyes gleaming triumphantly. But Cassian stepped forward next, Lupus beside him.

"I am the alpha of this pack," Cassian growled from deep in his throat. "And you have killed on my land. You will leave, now." Cassava didn't seem to hear him, but stared at Lupus for a long, long moment.

"You are the one, yes…" she whispered. "I will fight this worthless bag of bones for the leadership of this pack. Yes, that will do…" She seemed unaware that the other wolves could hear her every word. Cassian glanced at Lupo, by far the strongest and most agile of the lot, since Radar's limp could sometimes slow her down, and gave one short nod. Instantly, Lupo flew forward, teeth bared, for Cassava's throat. Cassava howled and lunged to meet him.

Lupo was dead in ten seconds. His throat and one eye were torn out; blood gushed from his still body. Cassava had not even seemed to exert much force in the killing. "As I have said," she explained quietly, "I am blessed with The Eyes. I can see who here will eventually fall by my fangs." Radar snarled and threw herself over her brother's body, ears pinned, protecting it from all. "And here also, I see my followers, those who will learn to die for me." Cassian snarled loudly. Why was this she-wolf so unafraid?

"Lupus, my son, will lead this pack," he said, "But I will fight you to get you out of our territory." Cassava seemed unimpressed.

"What, this whelp?" She snapped, twitching her ears at him. That was it. Cassava had stepped too far off the line. Cassian and Lupus both lunged towards her at once, but Cassian was faster. He snapped at Cassava's leg, leapt back, and lunged again, driving his son off at the same time.

"Go back, all of you!" He cried, "Get the pack moving!" Radar swung around with a wild call, but stayed with her brother as the rest ran towards the pack. "Radar, go! You can't save him!"

Radar's brown eyes were filled with sorrow as she looked at her brother's still body. She touched her nose to his one last time, then- "Wolf." They had almost forgotten about the cat. "Wolf, help me. I thought the other might, but…" The cat was a mountain lion of types, but it seemed small. Juvenile.

"My name is Radar," the wolf answered suspiciously, "And I do not help cats- Wait. You speak our language?" Most cats spoke only the Forest Language aside from their own, but this one was speaking perfect Wolf. It startled her. Cassava lunged at Cassian, who just managed to dive to one side. Neither had been terribly injured, but Cassian was old, and slowing down. If he went down, it would be over.

"I am Oka," the cat answered. "A bit ironic, considering what has me injured." Seeing Radar's confused expression, Oka explained. "My name means thorn." Radar nodded, wondering why anyone would want a name that meant something else, but bent down and tried to get the thorn out of Oka's foot anyways. Cats had strange ways, ways that even the wolves didn't understand. He winced and mewled once, but then the thorn was out, and Radar licked it cautiously. It was only bleeding a bit, which wasn't a good thing. She kept running over it with her tongue, and the bleeding increased steadily until it was a thin stream. She held the very tip of the thorn on her tongue, and flicked it away impatiently.

"Wait here," Radar said, "I do not like you. I do not trust you. But I must protect my alpha." But just then, the crashing bounds of a wolf in a rush met everyone presents ears. "By Fenris," she murmured, "Is that…?" Fenris, the wolf god, must have decided it was indeed Cassian's time to join him, because the blur of silver that was Feray leapt into the clearing, and pinned the alpha to the ground when he was in mid-lunge.

"Feray is here," she purred, "She sensed another one like her nearby, and she came. Can she kill him?" Radar started to run forward, but Cassava nodded before she even got the chance to get within a tree's length. Feray's sharp teeth sank deep into the alpha's throat even as he struggled, and tore it out slowly, horribly slowly, drinking in Cassian's pain. He screamed, one long, high scream, before his eyes rolled back, his body went limp. And only then did Feray tear the rest of his throat out. "Feray has watched him fight for ages and ages. She has become sick of him ruling the pack. The one called Lupus is still without a mate, so he cannot become the alpha. Feray does not want this position. Will you take it, sister with my eyes?" Cassava stared at her for a long moment. Then she nodded.

"Yes, I will take this position, sister with my eyes. I am Cassava." Radar was staring, dumbfounded, at the two wolves and the alpha's bloodied body. Her brother could not be mourned now. Thank and bless Fenris that she and Oka had been hidden ever so slightly by the dim light.

"Cat," she growled urgently, "Oka, I must go warn the pack. Stay here, I will deal with you later." She lunged out wildly, saliva streaming from her mouth, tongue lolling between her teeth, a savage snarl tearing itself from her throat. "Feray!" She cried, "You, the murderer of our pack's alpha, have you any guilt?" The silver wolf whirled around, a hungry gleam in her yellow eyes.

"Lady Cassava, may Feray have the honors?" The gray wolf nodded, and Feray lunged. Radar would have been killed instantly if a blur of tan hadn't shot from the trees. Oka had come to her rescue, and even with only three good paws, he fought hard enough to keep both wolves busy. Radar knew when a chance was given to her, and she tore off through the woods. She had to warn the pack, had to tell Lupus… Oh, but she didn't want to. How could she tell him his own father died trying to defend a position he didn't even want?

But she continued running, and when she reached the rock overhang that overlooked the packs main territory, she raised her head and howled out, "The alpha is fallen! Evil has taken our lands, oh true leader of this pack! Run, all of you who can run!" Then something hit the back of her head hard and she knew no more.

When Radar woke up, Oka and Lupus lay beside her, the gray wolf and the tan cat inside one of the alpha's dens. Feray and Cassava could be heard from their vantage point, and a voice that caused both Lupus and Radar to shiver: Blade's.

"Ah," he said, "You need a strong alpha wolf to lead this pack? One who knows the territory and the prey? Well, here he is, ready to obey your orders, oh beautiful one." Lupus could almost see him kneeling in front of Cassava, his ugly brown and black coat and deformed right front paw so odd next to the beauty of Cassava's silver one. He bared his teeth in a quiet snarl.

"She is mine, omega," he growled, pacing away from Radar and Oka and into the main cave. Radar tried to grab his tail and pull him back, but she only grabbed a few strands of fur, and he turned and snarled at her, his ears pinned to the back of his head, and she dared not follow. "She is mine, if I must fight you for her!" He turned the corner, and could see Blade's eyes glinting in the dimness. He braced himself for the older wolf's attack, but then realized he wasn't planning on fighting him just yet.

"Well," he snapped, "If it isn't the brat. The selfish, foolish, brat! So you've finally found a she-wolf who's caught your eye, eh? Well, you're too late, whelp!" Lupus snarled.

"As the true alpha of this pack," he growled, "I will fight you, the lowliest of the low, stooping far below my level, only because you are my elder." He lunged. Blade met him. Lupus was stronger and faster, but he was fighting wildly, blindly, allowing fury to rule him. Blade, despite his age and deformed paw, was smart and more experienced, and he kept his wits about him.

"Will you surrender?" Blade said, slamming Lupus's head against a wall. Lupus whimpered as blood trickled down his fur. "Come now, surrender to me!"

"No…" Lupus muttered, "Nev…er…" Blade put his teeth around Lupus's throat and all fight seemed to drain from the young alpha. "I surrender," he murmured, defeated. He didn't want to die. HE was new to fighting, and he was scared. Blade carefully released him.

"Pathetic," he said with a gentle chuckle. "Just pathetic. You would never have become the alpha, even with your father as our leader." Lupus snarled, but no threat carried in his voice.

"Get out whelp," Cassava snarled, "Take the other two with you. Consider yourself… how to put it… exiled." The sentence hit Lupus like a whiplash.

Exiled? They couldn't exile him… What of the others? What of Draven and Mage, and Miriam and Ebony and everyone else? Oh Fenris, please, bless them… These thoughts whirled through his head in a moment as Cassava dragged him outside of the cave he had called home since he was a pup. A moment later, Radar stumbled into the light, looking dazed and with blood trailing down her shoulder.

"Lupus," she said, fear in her eyes, "What shall happen to us now?" He shook his head.

"I don't know." The cat was thrown out by Cassava and Feray, who had gone unnoticed in the shadows.

"Oka," Radar said, licking at her wounds, "You should go." The large cat stared at her for a moment before laughing.

"No, I think you might want me around," he looked up towards the mountains. "We see a lot of exiled wolves where I'm from…" As members of the pack guard began to circle around the three, Lupus stood.

"Wolves," he said to those gathered around, "Take us away. Follow your new alpha, but never forget Cassian and the days of peace when he watched over us." The wolves nodded.

"And never forget my brother," Radar added, "And Shift, who also met his end at Cassava's jaws. Tell your pups of the days of peace, so that at least they may grow up with a spark of hope in their hearts." Lupus snarled at her for interrupting him, but his heart wasn't in it.

"Take us away," he repeated, and the guard did, following the last orders of the ex-prince.

AN: Just a little fic I started out of boredom… would you like to see it continued? Please review!