The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

We were running for our lives. Above us, the roar of the low flying plane told us how close death was. The icey snow bit at our feet and made them bleed and the cold air seemed to creep into my lungs making them burn. Behind me were bodies of our fallen, strew along the ice covered ground like islands of death in a vast sea of snow. I could still smell their blood.



Beside me, River was starting to slow down. The hard running was taking its toll on his new bullet wound in his hind leg.I could only imagine the pain he was in but River's drive to live kept him running. He was probably one of our greatest hunters and to lose him would certainly devistate us in numerous ways, so i kept yelling at him to run or die like a house dog in the gutter (an insult to our kind). To our left there was a loud bang as a bullet took the life of Cresent, a young female in our pack. she had been a beautiful silver color but now that color was interrupted by a slash of red. We wanted to stop but that was impossible, if we tried to help her we would have died as well and the law of the pack stated that it is better to lose one then two.



Suddenly, like a curtain of safety, the Forest that had vanished to our side long ago switch-backed infront of us. One by one, those of us could melted into the safety of the trees as a shower of bullets closed in behind us. we slowed down but didn't stop until we hit the creek bed that had long since left when the humans dammned up the begining miles away. now, only a river of rocks and vegitation filled the ditch. River panted hard and favored his wounded leg as he stood.



"are we safe?" he asked me. "no, as long as the humans can fire into trees or even walk in. We have to jump across and head for the dens." I replied and sniffed the edge of the creek judging the distance.



it was just wide enough that a human would have trouble getting across but we wouldn't have much trouble. A few of the others who had entered first had already jumped across; they had left their scents behind. I looked at Riiver's leg then the others who had followed us in. There was only three, a yearling named Hemlock and two older ones who had joined our pack only days before. "You go ahead Ash, we'll find another way around." River said. I took a few steps back and jumed across easily landing on the other side with only inches to spare. Hemlock, the yearling, Jumped across as well managing to get just an inch farther than me. The two older wolves went to the left to find a bridge or shallower place to cross. I turned around to watch where River would go. He looked to his left, then his right and decided that he would try and jump as well. I could see in hs eyes that he was scared but determined as well, if he was going to go down, it was with a fight. he jumped and I moved away to let him land but as he came to the edge he fell a bit short and clung to the edge of the creek. His claws dug into the snow and dirt as his back legs clawed into the sides of the creek. I rushed over and grabbed him by the ruff of his neck then dragged him up. i felt my teeth sink into his flesh and blood down my chin. with his strength to help me, i managed to pulll River u. he only crawled a few inches from the edge then laid down, trying to rest. I walked over and licked his wound gently trying to help the bleeding. Hemlock waited for a bit but then ran off towards the dens too afraid to stay outside any longer.

"Come on River get your tail up." I said pushing agains his hip to get him to stand. he did after a few then began walking slowly. I heard the distant roar of the plane's engine and for a moment it sounded like it was getting closer. I should have ran a head but i just couldn't leave River there when he had the chance of recovering. I began npping at his heels to get him t move, i bit a paw and that got him trotting. all the way back to the dens. the dens we wered headed to had been made to out smart the humans while they gassed several other dens looking for our pups. But the humans got lucky one day and found the dens we kept our latest litter and we lost all of them. with no more pups our pack leaders, Granite and his mate, Pine, tried again. They were successful and now she carried a litter insinde her. She was vaunerable and we all knew it. Once we arrived at the dens, River laid down to rest more. The other survivors, including the mating leaders were sitting or pacing anxiously. Finally, Granite began to speak.



"We can't keep this up any longer, I don't need to tell you that." He said loud enough for the others to hear. I sat beside River and Cloud, Pine's sister. Cloud was almost the same color as Cresent but she had more of a creamy color. Her color, and River's red-brown fur contrasted and I couldn't decide if I liked it or not.



"We have a choice here, Fight back or leave the forest." He said simply. Granite never did like to speak lightly. He was always blunt and cold when he spoke.



"We can't leave, We've lived her all our lives." Cloud said a few of the others agreed.



"where would we go to anyway?" Asked flint, a dark blackish blue wolf. He was Granites second son and next inline for pack leader should his father die.



"Our son is right love, we have no where else to go." Pine chimned in. Wildberry,a young female with white and brown splotches spoke next.



"we could fight off the humans." She suggested.



"No, there are too many of them. These attacks are just because we killed their precious pet cows and sheep during the hard winter. Imagine what the attacks would be if we killed just one of them." River argued. the others agreed again on that.



"Then we have no choice, we Leave tomorrow at first light." Granite said. he walked off to a den to sleep, believing his word would be final. River and I shared a den that night and we spent some of it watching the stars,



"Do you think this is a good idea?" River asked, still tending to his wound.



"what is?" I asked. I watched a single star sparkling in the sky.



"Leaving. Is that wise?"



"I don't know. But what choice do we have? It's that or stay here and die one by one." I answered finally. He nodded then went to sleep, just as i did soon after...



End Chapter 1

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