Just a very minor story I wrote about a month ago. Likely long pauses in between updates as it is not my main focus, nevertheless I hope you enjoy my take on werewolves.
Silence befell the pack of females immediately. Total silence. Frightened silence. The kind of silence that sliced through even the youngest of their group. They did not need to be shushed. Living in fear gave them a very good awareness of when to be absolutely quiet. Absolutely still.
An old, grey female stepped forward. One of their unspoken elders. Her head was slouched down, but all omegas walked like that.
And they were all omegas here. Heads bowed towards the ground, clustered in a circle as if whispering secrets to one another.
"How long?" she rasped.
"A few hours maybe," Astraya answered, thinking back on what she had seen. She shook her head. "There had to be at least a hundred. Elder I...I want to say we should fight but I don't think we can this time."
Siku, her friend and scouting partner, entered the conversation with a small whine and a nod. "They're not omega. The pack has changed."
"Not omega?" a strong, black female asked. Her voice was deep, her body honed. She was older, but Astraya knew that kind of female was a prime target. If a male could get ahold of her, she would bear strong pups. For an omega, she was a prime specimen.
And yet, no one wanted to be like her.
No female omega wanted to be strong, if it meant being forced to mate.
Siku continued hurriedly. "Their pack's power has grown somehow. I sensed no omegas. Only Betas."
The pack of females burst into worried whines and quiet rumbled. Astraya knew it made little sense – no it went beyond that – it was impossible.
"How could this have happened?" The black female asked. "You're saying a whole pack of omegas – one we've matched in strength for years – has transformed overnight? Into Betas?" She looked appalled but not mistrustful.
"It was not overnight," the elder said. "The red moon caused this. You remember the one?"
"I do," Astraya answered quietly.
A month ago, on the night of the full moon, she and her patchwork pack had seen the most astonishing sight. A red moon hung in their sky, like a drop of fresh blood had landed on the dome of their world. So beautiful and so, so terrifying. They had been unsure then if it was a good or bad omen.
Well, it looked like they had their answer.
"How is it the moon's fault?" Siku asked, tilting her head.
The elder looked at the ground. "It matters not. We've no time for these questions now. You must get yourselves to safety. If what you say it true, we cannot hope to match them."
"Leave?" The black growled. "We cannot. What of the old? What of the young? We should fight. We must fight."
The elder lifted her head a little in silent warning, pinning them each with her wise, old stare one by one. "No. You will run from here, and then you will run some more. Scatter yourselves to the wind. Those who have not yet tipped," She looked pointedly at Astraya and Siku, "may yet find peaceful years of solitude ahead of them."
"I don't ever want to tip," Siku said, looking at Astraya. Astraya nodded her head in agreement.
For a female Omega, tipping into heat was without a doubt the worst coming-of-age gift Mother Nature could have bestowed upon them. It meant constant stalking, and eventual rape. Whether it be by a male Omega who was only marginally stronger, a Simple, or a Beta with low standards.
"I don't want to leave!" someone wailed. A chorus of agreement rose weakly up.
"Hush!" the elder demanded, swiveling and raising her head to its fullest height. It was a hard thing for an omega to do. It must have gone against the old wolf's very instincts. She must have cared very deeply for them.
Or she must have been very afraid for them.
"You must go!" she yelled. "We've lived peacefully together all these years, but as your pack mother and friend, I order everyone here to leave immediately – especially those in heat. We do not have time to mourn our circumstances, we do not have time to wish things were the same or different. The truth is that a pack of rogues – a pack of males – we've fought off every time is coming here to claim you."
She lumbered slowly out into the crowd of females. "They will not stop this time. If what Astraya and Siku said is true, then their intent is to form packs of their own. They will mate you without consent, and in a few years, when you've given up on yourselves, you will find your small, weak packs pit against one another. If this is what you want, then by all means stay. Be claimed by a male you neither know nor respect."
She circled, her tail level with her back. Level with her mind. "Or go, and hope for a future where we are reunited again."
A distant howl signaled that their time to decide was now. Astraya felt her heart begin to beat wildly in her chest, and looked worriedly at her friend. They had not tipped. They could run. They could live peacefully for another two, maybe even three years.
But to leave the pack. Gods, it was the only pack they had ever known. The only pack where the promise of safety in numbers actually seemed almost believable. Believable enough that they could sleep fitfully at night, believable enough that only one or two omegas a year got raped when they wandered too far away.
"Go!" the black suddenly barked. "Run, you goddamn fools! Run while you can still think straight! If you've tipped, if you're in heat, the moment you smell those males you'll be useless to yourselves!"
This seemed to kick-start the females. They backed away, unsure. Hoping for a miracle.
The two friends looked warily at the black female. For all of her talk of swift departure, her eyes were still and focused.
Astraya realized she was not going to run. She was going to stay and be raped. She was going to sacrifice herself for the good of the pack.
"The pack needs you two. You have not yet tipped."
"How can we help?" Siku asked. "They won't pay any attention to us if we haven't tipped."
"They might, if they see you from afar."
Astraya lifted her head a little. "You want us to distract them."
The black wolf nodded stiffly. "You can use the wind. If you run down-wind from them, they will be able to see you but not smell you. If you can seduce even a few males away, it would help the others immensely. You are too young to be mated, if they catch you there is little they can do about that."
"Um, except kill us," Siku offered. "Brutally."
"Then...then we just won't get caught," Astraya said. She stared at the ground. More in desperation than calculation. "We're scouts. We're fast...enough."
Siku flicked her tail but said nothing. She didn't have to. Astraya knew what it meant.
Fast. But not faster than a Beta.
"Thank you," the elder said, obviously hearing their conversation. "You've grown into wonderful young wolves. Perhaps we will meet again in the future, under more fair circumstances."
"Elder..." Siku growled quietly, bowing her head. Astraya did the same, so suddenly unprepared for this moment. So wildly outraged that the red moon had tipped the balance so unfairly out of their favor. It had shredded their peace.
Shredded their pack.
She tried not to growl in frustration.
Something like thunder began rumbling in the near distance. The four wolves jerked their heads up. The thunder didn't stop, and Astraya knew it wouldn't.
Footfalls didn't cease mid-hunt.
"Let's go," Astraya whispered. She quickly turned towards the elder, rubbing herself under the wise, old wolf's chin in respect, touched noses to the black she-wolf in farewell, and took off towards the thunder with Siku close on her heels.
"Are you sure about this?" Siku asked.
Astraya kept her eyes forward. "Are omegas ever sure about anything?"
"But, like, can you pretend?"
Astraya managed a shaky bark. "You were dropped on your head as a pup, I swear."
Their half-hearted growls died away as the thundering of paws grew louder. Astraya could feel heat prickling around the fur of her shoulders. Nervous heat. She met Siku's dark eyes as they ran, and the friends exchanged silent words of good luck.
In case things went wrong.
In case someone didn't make it out alive.
There was nowhere left to run. No further path to take towards the pack of Betas that was heading towards them. The two of them were situated on a small cliff, overlooking a clearing of undisturbed snow. On the other side of the field, males were breaking from the tree line towards them so fast. Astraya felt her breathing catch in panic. There were so many, and all her instincts screamed for her to run.
But she couldn't. She wouldn't. Not until these males saw she and Siku. Then she could run. Then she could truly test the body and the heart that she had been born with. It occurred to her that it would be the very first time that she would run as far and as fast as she could. Nothing like slinking around her patrol routes each day. No way to stretch her muscles for fear of drawing attention to herself.
This would be different. As different as different got.
The males were halfway across the field now, and she was sure some were looking up at them. Noticing. Barking for others to notice. She smelled their mixed musk on the wind and backed away from the small cliff.
"I think they're close enough, let's go."
Astraya turned quickly away, her movements jerky and afraid. She began bounding through the deep snow, but on the fourth leap she realized Siku wasn't following.
When she turned to look, her friend was simply staring back over the cliff, her tail raised oddly high.
"Siku!" Astraya yipped, her bark panicked. "What are you looking at? Come on! They'll find their way up here any minute."
"I just want to look..." Siku said. Her voice had Astraya's fur on end. "Hey, do you smell that? It smells amazing."
"Oh, gods," Astraya whimpered, trudging back to her friend with a lowered head. "Siku are you...tipping?"
Her friend finally looked at her, blinking cloudy green eyes. "I—what?"
"You're tipping!" Astraya growled forcefully. The sudden lethargy that had come over Siku was scaring her half to death. This couldn't happen now! Not when they had to run!
Unthinkingly she darted forward, nipping her friend at the base of her bushy brown tail. Siku yelped and spun, delivering a growl right into Astraya's face.
"Hey—stop it! What's gotten into you, Ray?"
"Me!? We need to run! You need to snap out of it! Come on!"
Siku followed her for a few promising steps, but when a voice that was not either of theirs travelled through the trees much closer than Astraya was expecting, her friend slowed again and looked over her shoulder.
"No! No!" Astraya cried desperately. "Siku, please! Run with me!"
Siku looked back at her for one more long moment.
Astraya thought she could feel their friendship shattering in her chest. Siku had tipped, and the first heat was always the strongest.
No. No, what could she do—
Without warning, a huge, dark wolf slid around the pile of snow that was shielding the two she-wolves. His over-eagerness caused him to slam into the trunk of a pine tree, but his teeth kept gnashing, and his strong paws were under him again within moments. It might have been amusing, if he wasn't so ferocious.
He stalked forward slowly, falling snow dusting on his plush coat and gathering in his mane as he eyed them. Astraya scurried back in fright, but Siku did the unthinkable – she went down into willing submission, her tail wagging invitingly.
Astraya couldn't bear to watch this change in her friend. Siku had always been playful and energetic, and no doubt would be a wonderful mate and mother to the right male. But Astraya had always wanted more than this for her.
For them both.
The dark wolf paced over to Siku, barely glancing down at the brown wolf as he stood over her. A clear act of dominance and possession. Trapped under him, her friend didn't move. Didn't struggle. Didn't fight. Just waited.
The stranger turned to regard her, and Astraya flinched back with a growl. Why was he looking at her when he had a perfectly good, compliant, omega right below him?
He lifted his nose and sniffed in her direction.
"Greedy bastard," Astraya snarled.
"Lovely," the stranger replied. "But still no more than a child..." He turned back to Siku.
"Leave her alone!" Astraya roared. "She just tipped not one minute ago! You couldn't be so heartless!"
He just chuckled, and nuzzled his narrow nose into Siku's neck possessively. Astraya's heart gave a painful thump as her friend whimpered, sounding desperate.
"You'd better run, Little White, because I assure you there are more heartless ones than me who are coming."
As if on cue, two more wolves took that corner too fast and slid into a tangled mess at the base of the tree, snarling and biting at each other. The dark wolf hunkered over Siku possessively, but once the newcomers rose to their feet and noticed the omega that lay beneath him, they did not seem to care what stance he took. They ploughed into him with savage bites and howls, throwing him away from her and sinking into a blood-crazed battle of desperation.
When two more males appeared after that, Astraya had no choice.
She ran. She ran while her heart broke.
Down the snow-covered hill she bolted, small bunches of snow tumbling down with her. The snow at the bottom was unexpectedly deep, and she struggled through it. Her legs had always been long for an omega, and that helped. She just hoped her stamina was better than most omega's too.
When she decided to look back, she saw two males at the top of the incline, looking down at her. A third joined them. A fourth. Past them, she could still make out the sounds of struggle. Wolves who were killing each other to make Siku their mate.
Terrified of leaving her friend to that fate, she pushed the thought as far away as possible. What could she have done? She was no match for any one of those Betas. Perhaps if they were as they once had been – omegas like herself – she would have stayed with her friend and fought.
Pushing her muscles harder, she surged into a mad run. Deep howls rose up behind her, and through her desperation she could hardly think straight.
Didn't they smell her? Didn't they notice that she had not tipped? Was the dark male too engrossed in his battle-lust to tell them?
But she remembered the plan. If she could be a distraction, she could help those who had tipped. Omega's that needed far more of a head-start than what Siku got.
This desperate promise was the only thing her frayed mind could cling to. The only excuse her heart accepted for leaving her friend behind.
The trees whizzed by as she shot through them like an arrow. All of the lower branches had been chewed off by deer, so there was not even any foliage to conceal her. The only thing she could bet on was her fur – as white as the fresh fallen snow – it could help confuse their sight.
But nothing could cover her tracks.
Chilled air puffing from her nose, Astraya felt an unshakeable weight settle into her belly.
It was only a matter of time until they caught up to her. Until she collapsed into exhaustion.
Perhaps... perhaps she could gain enough ground to make it safely to the river. The water would confuse them. If she stepped into its icy flow and followed it up or down, it might throw them off her scent.
It was the only plan her mind – pulled so taut by stress – could think of. Could comprehend.
It must have been an hour she ran for. By the time she heard the river and saw its presence through the glistening trees, it was darker than she would have liked. But that wasn't the problem.
The problem was that her chest cavity felt like it was caving in. Each exhale felt like she was expelling too much and was suffocating. Each inhale felt like her lungs would explode from strain. Never had she pushed her body to these limits. Pushed past them in fear and adrenaline.
How would she ever fight the current now?
Astraya stumbled from the break of the trees and onto the frozen river. It was wide, but the ice at the edges was thick and stable and frosted enough that she didn't have to worry about slipping. It didn't matter. It was sharp against her raw paw pads, and that fact alone was what had her whimpering and keeling onto her side.
Rest. She needed a moment of rest. Just a moment.
"Well, well. Look who's finally decided to stop."
"Little White lost all her might."
No. She hadn't even closed her eyes yet, and already she was forced to stand.
But even sitting up was difficult. She barely made it, and was almost unable to make out the wolves descending slowly onto the ice around her. Her eyes pulsed with strain.
Four. She counted four, not including the doubles her vision was making.
One smaller male came much closer than the others. She growled warningly at him but he didn't look perturbed. "Goddamn it. She hasn't tipped yet! We chased her all this way."
"What should we do? Kill her?"
"We could tail her until she tips."
"That could take years."
Damn right, Astraya thought.
"Idiots!" a voice growled above the rest. Astraya got a good enough hold on her vision just in time to see an enormous grey male pacing towards her from her backside. She struggled to stand and swiveled around, snarling at the daring male.
He stopped only a few feet from her, his head raised, his tail up in obvious dominance. "The ones that haven't tipped are the best kind."
"What?" Astraya rumbled. She didn't understand.
The grey came forward so quick that she barely had time to react. He pushed his muzzle into her neck and forced her down. Astraya lashed out as best she could, coming in for a bite to his shoulder, but the fur was so thick that she couldn't get through. Couldn't even draw blood.
"Quit it," the grey male commanded, and held her down more securely with the pressure of his huge jaws. She could feel the heat of his body descending upon hers – adjusting her into position.
Realization ignited a desperate fight within her like none other. He was trying to claim her! But she hadn't tipped! What sort of disgusting, twisted, ideal was he trying to prove?
She thrashed and yelped and snarled with such rage that the others came no closer.
"She's got fight," the male on top of her laughed. "You were worth that ridiculous run, I think."
"I haven't tipped!" Astraya cried. He'd pinned her so completely with his weight that she could no longer move.
"I know, Little White. Like I said, your kind is the best kind. I won't be hexed into some ridiculous pair-bond with an omega. If I have you now, I won't have to worry about that. In fact we can all share you."
"You're sick!" she howled.
"Ah, but the red moon has granted us so much power, and you nothing at all. What do you think that means?"
She didn't know, but it didn't matter. Something unexpected caused both captive and captor to pause. Astraya could hear ice cracking below her, groaning and shifting with new weight.
And a new voice. "You think the moon gave you that power?"
The grey wolf's weight lifted from her in order to locate the new voice. Astraya struggled herself into a more comfortable position despite being trapped below him and also turned to look.
Her eyes landed on the biggest, most beautiful wolf she had ever dared imagine. His fur was a deep red, like the moon she had seen, and it was lovely but disorienting. Was that... starlight trapped within the strands? Something about him was glowing. Glowing. But from this distance, she could not investigate.
He was absolutely massive. Twice the bulk of the gray towering above her. Three times the bulk of the beta that had first brazenly approached her. Probably four times her size. Built less like a wolf, and more like a bear with the amount of muscle he carried around his shoulders and legs. His eyes were sharp and bright like quicksilver. They too carried a luminosity she could not explain.
No words were spoken of status, but the word Alpha sung through her head quite clearly.
"Who are you?" the wolf above her asked. He turned around, obviously finding the visitor threatening enough to not want his back exposed.
"Release that Omega," the stranger commanded. The way he said it indicated he expected nothing less than total compliance.
"What, are you kidding? I chased this girl for two goddamn straight hours. If you want her, get in line."
The huge red wolf lowered his head. Fear zinged through Astraya's body. Normally that action made the bearer seem submissive, but from this wolf it just seemed terrifying. A predator assessing prey.
When a threatening growl rumbled out of him, Astraya wanted to run for the hills.
Though the male above her was obviously a Beta at the top of the totem pole, he took a slow step back, then another, and another.
Astraya was free.
"Alright mate, calm down. You can have her first. She hasn't tipped yet so I am sure there will still be some fight in her by the time you're done."
The red male stalked forward slowly, his weight causing the ice underfoot to moan and crack in protest. Astraya didn't dare move or breathe or think as he took the gray's position above her for himself. She hoped – gods she hoped – that with all that power he wasn't as twisted as these new Betas were.
But his eyes did not even dip to regard her. He was staring solely at the grey. When he spoke next, there was no patience left in his words. "If you do not leave this place now, then you will leave this earth instead. This I promise you, mongrels."
The Betas hesitated, looked at one another for a cohesive decision. They wanted to run. The grey was marginally braver.
Or more foolish.
"What will you do with her?"
"That is not your concern, Omega."
The grey growled. "I am a Beta now. We all are." In the presence of the great red wolf, he seemed suddenly unsure.
"At most, you're an Omega in a Beta's body. You do not know true power, and I will make sure that you never do. Leave, or I'll rip your legs off and let you squirm like the snakes you are."
"Cane," the smallest Beta whined at the grey. "Let's go. We can find another Omega if we hurry ba—"
Despite his gorey promise, the red wolf moved only to sink his massive jaws onto the back of the small Beta's neck, pushed him down and twisted so brutally and efficiently that Astraya heard the snap.
He was dead instantly.
The other three yelped and scurried away, tucking their tails between their legs. The red Alpha scanned the three quickly until his eyes landed on the grey. Faster than any wolf she had ever seen, he thundered by her head, closing the distance to the grey within moments, pulling him from the small overhang of snow by the side of the river and crushing his back leg in his jaws.
This time Astraya heard bones crack.
He howled and whined and struggled helplessly in the snow. The red male simply watched for a moment before turning his head to look at her. She hunched her neck back, petrified. Oh gods, what did he want?
He jerked his head, indicating for her to come to him.
Afraid for her life, she complied; practically slinking through the snow to his side. Once she was there, she remained fearfully silent and stayed hunched.
"What is your name?" he asked over the crying of the grey.
"Would you like to kill him, Astraya?"
Blinking, she looked up at him. His muzzle was unstained. He had destroyed two lives without even drawing blood.
She looked at the sniveling Beta, saw true fear in his eyes. Frightened suddenly of her.
She did not enjoy it.
"No..." she answered quietly.
A soft rumbling from the Alpha beside her had her looking at him again. Was that noise... approval?
"Come," he simply said, turning from the grey without any further words. She did. It was not like she had a choice. They walked until his whimpering could no longer be heard, until it was so dark she normally wouldn't have been able to see.
Except this male beside her – he was still glowing.
Discretely, tailing at his hindquarters in a display of desperate submission, she eyed the red fur. It was like he had rolled in little grains of starlight, but even as he lumbered and his thick mane swayed with each step, the starlight clung. She was more than mesmerized.
Finally, when the river was long behind them, he pulled to a slow stop and stared forward. "How old are you, Astraya?"
Fear surged through her. Please no, please no. "F-Fifteen winters."
"Do you have any semblance of a pack that you can return to?"
The question was like a knife to the chest. "They... it was destroyed. The Betas—my friend—" She hung her head and closed her eyes. "She's gone."
Still, he was staring into the forest. Seemingly deep in thought. "I'm sorry I've caused you such anguish."
He lowered his head a little, his ears flicking back just once. "Do you know what I am?"
Astraya tilted her head. "Alpha."
"Does that word feel right to you?"
She tilted her head back the other way. It was a childish gesture, suggesting naivety, but he wasn't exactly asking the most straight-forward question.
But something about the word did feel a little off, like it wasn't quite matching the beast she was seeing in front of her. She had seen Alphas once or twice before, but he surpassed them in every way. Bigger than an alpha. Stronger.
"You are... more," she finished lamely.
"I am a Fenrir."
Straightening herself a little, she eyed him cryptically. "Are you...a wolf?"
His head finally swung around to look at her, his fur bunching by his shoulder. With everything she had, she suppressed a flinch.
"Very much so," he replied.
"How did you get so big?"
"I was born this way. My blood is very powerful..." He held her gaze steadily. "It is what caused the ruin of your pack."
She wasn't following. "Your... your blood?"
"It's why those males became stronger – grew into Betas. We are at least fortunate that the blood they found was old and there was little of it. Had it been fresh from my veins, they would have become Alphas."
Astraya said nothing, her mind spinning and spinning and trying to process everything.
He looked away a little, silver eyes narrowing. "Regardless, my recklessness has caused you great anguish. I cannot, in good conscience, allow you to leave."
"Are you going to tail me?"
She felt sheer relief as his bushy tail flicked in confusion. "Tail you, Omega?"
Astraya crept forward a little, closer to his head. Dared to lift her own a fraction. He did not seem offended; merely curious. "Like...follow me until I tip into heat?"
He growled, but not at her. His great muzzle swerved to point into the dark forest. What she had just explained obviously bothered him greatly.
"You must have lived a cruel life, to assume so little of me so soon. Does this sort of thing happen to you females often?"
"All the time."
A great slow breath escaped him. A sigh. "You may stay with me if you desire, and know that I will safeguard your life. But there is one cardinal rule that you must always abide by..."
"What is that?" she asked tentatively. He was going to protect her? A lowly Omega? This had to be some sort of condition—
"You must steel your heart, and never fall in love with me."
Whatever coercion she was expecting to hear... it was not that.
"Okay..." she said slowly, suspiciously. "May I know your name?"
His head dipped courteously. "Zenith."
Wow, a werewolf story. I never imagined myself writing one of these, despite (I think) having plenty of decent ideas. I hope that this was okay and that you enjoyed it. I apologize to anyone who expects that I will update this frequently because I likely wont. It is third in the hierarchy of importance and as such, will likely be written on whims. The others are like epic fantasy, and this is something a little...tamer. I have no idea what I mean by that.
I will update next chapter immediately. It is already written.
Ps. They CAN shift.