In the throes of hunger the wolf's pupils are pinpricks of concentration inside circles of fury, but she faces them without fear. The humans' interference and the disputes over territory that happened as a result have thinned the pack's resources, but that is no excuse for any of her wolves to act out of turn. Alphas are supposed to be male, so she is a rarity, but she will not tolerate disobedience. She will fill the role in her mate's absence. Her hackles raise. She points her tail at the sky, widens her eyes, and snarls. It is a warning. Back off, or face the consequences. The wolf before her snarls back, shows its teeth in a flash. Desperation seeps off of him. She knows she cannot avoid a fight.

A fight it is, then.

She waits. He makes his move first, as she expected he would. Rationale is the first thing to leave those who have been taken by hunger. She cannot blame him, but she has her job as alpha to fulfill. So she dodges his attack and strikes back. They exchange blows and bites, nips and whines and growls, until she has him flattened onto his back under the might of her paw, his belly exposed. The rest of the pack gathers in a circle around them. No escape for those who disobey.

She goes for his neck but stops before drawing blood.

"Mind your place," she says into his fur in the language of the wilds. Then she releases him. The wolves standing by see that the fight is over, that no one is dead, and they release their tension in a multitude of ways. Shaking off. Yawning. Licking their lips. Perhaps these are displays of disapproval or disappointment, but she is alpha now. She makes the rules. When she barks her orders the pack returns to their dinner.

The offender gets one scrap of meat after everyone else has eaten, and nothing more. He has the choice whether to stay or leave. After a moment of indecision he stays, too afraid to fend for himself without the security a pack can provide. In these times, in this forest, danger or death are all that await a wolf on its own.

This is how order will be maintained, through fairness no matter what a wolf's rank in the pack. She hopes her mate would approve. She hopes his death will not prove to be the catalyst that drives the rest of the pack apart. She hopes, and gnaws on the bones.