Hey, everyone, and welcome back to Yellowstone Squad Book 1! In this chapter, we're going to be introduced to our main villain of the book (and series in total): Strong the grizzly bear. He's kind of named after Strong the super mutant from Fallout 4, and I saw in one of the bad Alpha And Omega sequels that one bear was named Strong.
As usual, I hope you like this chapter, and please let me know if there's anything wrong with this chapter or the book so far. That way, I can try to fix some mistakes. Constructive criticism is always welcome as long as you're polite about it.
Uploading Date: October 2, 2017
Flash and Gadget looked up towards the sky. They couldn't believe the sun was setting already. It actually seemed like yesterday ever since Flash had first set hoof into Yellowstone. He had to admit, the scenery in Yellowstone was beautiful, and it was peaceful aside from the cars zooming along on the road.
While they went on their journey to Hayden Valley, Flash realized that Gadget was a good companion. The squirrel often talked to him about his childhood, how he was in a litter of four. Flash was impressed with Gadget's intelligence and how he showed him all there was in Yellowstone, from the grassland to the forests, from the mountains to the lake; he was even surprised to hear that there were hot springs in the park, boiling water hot enough to kill a human or bison. He would have been lost without Gadget to guide him.
Speaking of childhood, they actually stopped at the tree where Gadget was born and raised, a giant fir tree among smaller pine trees. Gadget's mother was a friendly squirrel who was looking after new baby squirrels, and Flash was surprised to see how tiny they were. They rested for a while until they were ready to move out again.
"Nice folks you got there," Flash remarked when he and Gadget left the tall fir tree. They were heading deeper into the forest, where the shadows were bigger thanks to the setting sun.
"Thanks," said Gadget, holding a bag made of furs. "Mom always makes sure I have easy snacks on the road. She gathers really nice acorns."
Flash smiled. "She must be a good mom then," he said. "Mind if I have one of those acorns?"
But Gadget replied, "I don't know. Large herbivores can get bellyaches from eating acorns."
"Then that's good," said Flash. "I prefer grass anyway."
Suddenly, a crunching sound echoed through the forest. Whatever it was, the sound of teeth gnawing on a bone sounded like it came from a carnivore.
"I guess we're not the only ones eating well tonight," Gadget remarked, fear in his eyes now. "Are you going to take a look?"
"Might as well," said Flash, pushing his way through the bushes. He made his way through until they were in a clearing with trees all around them.
A large grizzly bear was in the middle of the clearing, his brown fur blending in with the surrounding trees. Right now, he was tearing into a moose carcass, his canine teeth easily stripping meat from the bone. As it slipped into the stream, the bear grabbed the carcass with both front paws and dragged it back onto land. Flash watched in a mixture of awe and alarm when he felt Gadget shaking behind his head.
"What?" he asked, feeling the quakes go through his neck muscles. "What's got you upset?"
Gadget didn't respond at first, keeping his eyes on the bear feasting on the moose carcass. Finally, he murmured, "...the bear..."
"The bear?" repeated Flash. "What's so special about this bear?"
"He's said to be the biggest and most powerful bear in the park," Gadget explained. "But he's also a big brute and a bully. Many animals stay away from him to avoid getting onto his bad side. The bison aren't bothered by him unless if he's really hungry."
Flash saw the many scratch marks on the moose carcass, probably belonging to the bear eating the carcass. "I can see that," he remarked.
Suddenly, the bear looked up from feasting, swallowing moose meat. His small brown eyes were hard as he left his meal and stomped over to Flash and Gadget. Flash fought the urge to run away, which was what a horse usually did when faced with a large predator.
"So I smelled that a newcomer's come to my land," the bear growled. "And I heard that they're talking about me. I am Strong."
"I can see that," said Flash. Even he was taller than the bear, he was still in awe of his strength. "I've seen you haul that moose carcass out of the water; I guess that really makes you strong."
Strong bared his teeth in pride. "It's also my name," he boasted before his next words made his voice grow hard. "And I don't like guests coming in uninvited. Now who gave you permission to mosey here into my territory?"
Flash looked around them and then back again. "How do I know this isn't some other bear's territory?" he asked.
"It's actually not mine yet," said Strong. "But it will be. Watch."
He stalked over to a nearby tree and raised up on his hind legs. With a smirk, Strong raked long claws as long as Gadget himself across the bark, scraping and peeling away. Once he was down on all fours, Flash and Gadget could see where Strong had clawed at it, and the bark was stripped away and revealed long claw marks.
Strong was still smirking as he said, "See? This is my territory. Now clear out or I'll be having a second helping of dinner right here and now." He looked up at Gadget sitting on Flash's head and added with a sneer in his voice, "And maybe dessert too."
Gadget gulped and leaped from his perch on Flash's head and up a fir tree. This made Flash glare at the bear, and he whnnied, "If you want to get to Gadget, you'll have to go through me."
But Flash instantly wished he hadn't said that. Strong smirked and growled, "Have it your way, horse."
Standing up on his hind legs, he roared and lashed a huge paw at him. Flash ducked his head and ran at Strong, trying to hit him with his front hooves. Strong jumped to the side and swiped his paw at him, and Flash grunted with pain as the claws raked at his shoulder. He could rush in and try to bite the bear on the ears, but that would expose his neck to a killing bite.
But then Flash realized that he could kick as well. When Strong got close enough to bite one of his hind legs, Flash lashed out with his hind hooves with a powerful kick. One of his legs made contact with Strong, who roared as his jaw was kicked, which knocked out a tooth. Flash turned back around with a smirk, all the while Gadget held on to his mane with fright.
"You fight good, horse," growled Strong, rubbing his kicked jaw. "But I'm full from my dinner. I don't want to puke up my dinner so soon." He took a step away from Flash and muttered, "Maybe I'll hunt you down once I'm ready to eat again."
"Not if I run from you first," Flash retorted, his shoulder still stinging from the bear's attack.
Strong muttered a curse to himself before stomping away to the moose carcass. He bent down and picked it up by the neck, dragging it deeper into the forest for later safekeeping. Flash gave a sigh of relief; he hoped he didn't have to meet that bear again.
"Flash, either you're the craziest horse I've ever seen, or you're the bravest," Gadget mumbled from his perch, scrambling down and wiping up any blood from Flash's shoulder. "Seriously, you've got a lot of guts to actually challenge Strong by yourself!"
"He was kind of threatening you," Flash answered. "I didn't want him eating my new friend."
Gadget scrambled up until he was sitting on Flash's muzzle, looking into one of his eyes. "You really see me as a friend?" he asked, smiling.
Flash playfully tipped his head back until Gadget was tumbling back onto his back. "You bet," he replied. "I helped you out from that river, and you got the glass out from my hoof. I'd say that that makes us friends."
"Then I'm glad we're friends, and I'm glad we met," said Gadget. When an owl hooted in the distance, the squirrel's smile faded as he asked, "Why don't we get out of here and spend the night somewhere else? The forest is kind of creepy at night, and there could be predators up and about?"
"Like owls?" Flash asked when he heard the hooting again. "Sure thing, buddy. And we'll continue our trip tomorrow."