Chapter One: Tracker
My claws dig into the muddy ground, giving me some grip to continue running. I can hear a series of wolves running behind me, too slow to keep up with my small form that is built for speed. I lift my head up as a scent tickles my nose. Blood.
I let out a growl, enjoying my hunt. This male wolf attacked one of my pack members and killed another. He doesn’t deserve to live. He’s a rogue, the type of wolves that go against Wolf Laws and kill with no mercy. They are nothing like the nomads, the wolves with no pack, but are full of peace.
His scent of mud and fire smoke becomes stronger as my ears twist forward. I can hear the wolf ahead of me, possibly around eighty feet. I know this land like the back of my paw, it’s my job to know so. I’m a Tracker for my pack, I help hunt rogues down and find missing members.
I am highly skilled in my pack, having a stronger sense of smell, hearing, and being built for speed. I have Tracker blood in me. Also known as Runt blood since most trackers are small and a little less than half of them are runts.
I crouch into a hunter’s crouch as I run under low branches and around the thick trunks of trees. My squad mates have to detour around some of the trees, them being a third larger than my size. I am slightly larger than the usual runt, but I’m still a runt none-the-less.
My gold eyes focus on the big wolf in front of me, his dark gray fur helping him hide in the shadows. Not for long, I think to myself, sliding under a thick patch of leafed plants.
The wolf continuously slows his running, his one hind leg held up in pain. Pain from a bite mark that I gave him.
I slow my running as the wolf slows down, not having heard my light steps behind him. He turns around with his ears straight up in alert. His ears twitch around, listening for the sounds of the wolves that were chasing him. “He thinks he lost us,” I tell the squadron. “Slow down and keep your steps silent, I can easily hear yours from where I am.”
I feel annoyance and small growls of irritation run down the mind-link. These wolves don’t exactly like a runt telling them what to do, but with the Squad Leader in the pack hospital, and me being Second in Command, they have to.
Though, the fact that a runt like me is a better tracker, does rile them up, of course. "Cayden, Daniel, run behind me to the right of the wolf. We need to block him in,” I tell two of my squad members, making sure they understand my orders. “Samantha, Marissa, head to the left. Conner, follow behind Cayden and Daniel and continue to the other side of that creek behind him. I’ll follow up front. When I send the signal, slowly close in. I’ll keep him distracted.”
A series of ‘Yes, ma’am,’ or ‘You got it S.C.’ flows through my conscious. Though some of them dislike the fact that I’m a runt, I am a higher rank than them. I listen to every voice as I keep my eyes focused on the wolf in front of me who is currently taking a rushed drink out of the creek. I am so happy that my scent is so easy to cover up, I think to myself.
One of the highlights of being of runt blood is that my scent is twice as weak as a normal wolf’s, meaning it is much easier to blend in if I cover myself with various scents located in this part of the forest.
I bend down as I walk diagonally to where the wolf stands, not wanting to be caught easily and focusing on staying out of sight.
“We are in position,” Cayden states. I look to the right of me and barely spot the two crouched low behind a patch of thorn bushes. Good thing they’ve already masked their scents. They’re a bit too close.
“Us, too,” comes the soft mental voice of Marissa. She usually stays quiet and is soft to speak, her mother being an Omega and having taken the soft-spoken gene from her.
“Conner?” I question him, not seeing or sensing him in front of me. I slowly crawl forwards, a bad feeling settling in my stomach.
“I’m in po-” his mental voice is cut off as a dull crack echoes around the trees. I freeze as the dark wolf in front of me looks forward, a snarl showing yellowed fangs as his eyes stare forward. He crouches down, ready to lunge at my squad member.
I let a frustrated growl run through the link as I mentally shout, “Everyone attack now, Conner, I want you to run towards Cayden and Daniel, and remember, we want him alive.”
I dart under the bush that was hiding me and reach the wolf before any of my squad members. I pounce onto his back, shoving my sharpened claws through his thick pelt and into his skin. My ears twitch as I hear the pawsteps of my squad-members run to the side of the wolf, biting him.
My teeth dig into the wolf’s shoulder as he lunges around, his snarling teeth coming close to my ears. The wolf falls, rolling over me. I let out a low whine as his bulk presses my ribs into a jagged rock.
I nip at him as Marissa and Samantha team up to pull the wolf off me and try to pin him down. His claws and teeth manage to get them somewhat as Cayden and Daniel finally manage to meet us. I roll onto my legs and swiftly shift into my human form as it is larger than my wolf skin.
I pull out a rope in one hand as I jump onto the back of the wolf. I straddle him as my squad-members nip at his legs. I work the rope into a noose and throw it around the struggling wolf’s back.
I pull the rope tight, letting it lightly shut his airways. Cayden shifts and says, “Stop struggling,” in a deep, aggressive voice, trying to intimidate the rogue. The wolf continues to struggle as I pull the rope tighter. I lean down to his ear.
“Stop struggling or I’ll let them take a chunk out of your leg.” I hiss into his ear, my voice stern and cold. “Each.” The wolf tenses up as I pull the rope tighter, completely blocking off his airways. I loosen the rope a little as Marissa, Daniel, and Samantha back away, landing a few more nips to his side just because.
I keep the rope tight as I stand up from his back and throw a muzzle on him. I loop other ropes around his throat that can’t tighten, as I pass the ends to the rest of my squadron. Cayden shifts into his light gray and white wolf and he takes the final rope.
I immediately shift and take the noose’s end into my mouth. I turn my back to the wolf, trusting my squadron to keep the wolf from clawing at me.
I walk forward in areas capable of seven wolves to squeeze through. I growl as Conner steps closer to the front. He pins his ears back and falls behind Samantha. He knows he’s in trouble for breaking our cover and he knows that I’ll rip him a new one if he falls out of line again.
Despite the fact that I won’t be going off on him, I will be consulting with our squadron leader about assigning him more training hours on running. He is the slowest wolf and hates running while keeping a constant pace. He’s the type of wolf who either goes all out in running or doesn’t run at all. Maybe a few extra hours of training for the next few weeks will change that?
It only took us about an hour to track the rogue through the forest and capture him, but since I had to lead the whole group to areas where the seven of us can squeeze through with numerous detours, it takes us nearly three hours to get back. Even if we were trotting.
I break through the treeline, a short bark and howl escaping my maw, signaling my squad’s return with the rogue. I walk into the large field leading up to the back of the pack house. I always found it odd why the pack house’s back always faces the forest where rogues can easily come out of.
I spot the Alpha in the middle of the field, his son, the Beta and his son, the Gamma and his daughter, the Delta and his daughter, and the top five warriors of the pack standing with him. My father is one of the warriors standing tall by our Alpha.
I trot up to the Alpha, keeping an ear out towards the wolf behind me. I feel him start to struggle a bit, so I tug on the rope. He immediately stops struggling as the noose tightens.
As I near closer to the Alpha, I bend my head down, my ears pinned to my skull. A sign of respect. The Alpha nods his head towards me, accepting my submission. I will always submit to my Alpha, as long as he is fair and does the best by the pack.
“The rogue, Alpha," I say, bending down in a bow. After a second, I stand up and hold out the rope to him. He takes it from my muzzle, sliding his hand over my ears. I wag my tail a bit, knowing that this means that my Alpha accepts my submission and the capture of the rogue.
“Well done, Second-In-Command of Tracker Squad 03. You have brought the rogue that has killed one of the patrol warriors of our pack, Whisper Howl and has injured another. You and your squad-members have brought honor to your families,” my Alpha says, his voice stern, but warm in pride.
With the Alpha holding the rogue in his hand, my squad-members and I line up in rank order, me at the left and Conner at the right. We all take a low bow and hold our head to the side, baring our throat to our Alpha with respect. Together, we state, “We were honored to track down the rogue.”
One by one, the Alpha places his hand over our throats, having placed the rope around the rogue’s neck in the Beta’s hand. I am the last to be sent off, waiting for my Alpha to accept my submission and respect.
He places his hand on my throat and I feel a rush of power run into me and through my blood. I ignore it, however, as the Alpha speaks to me via mind-link. “You have made your Alpha proud, Ever. Continue to do so. You are going places, I can tell.”
He takes his hand off of my throat, though I still feel a few remnants of power in my veins. “I am honored to have made you proud, Alpha,” I tell him, turning and walking across the field in the direction of the pack house.