There was silence in the forest, the same silence that was almost deafening in its intensity. Something was about to happen, because the world was holding its breath. Through the trees, something approached, because the birds stopped singing in the trees. As a body was hurtled through the bushes, a flock of birds took off, their wings beating together noisily as they escaped the dogs hunting through the forest.
They weren’t the best of hunters though they were sleek, lithe and deadly, but just not the best adjusted for the stalking yet. They were too young yet, a mere nine months old and mostly grown, though still gawky, looking out of place.
Three pups, two female and one male growled as they slipped from between the trees, the two females instantly rounding on their helpless brother.
“It’s your fault! You made us lose the rabbits. I’m telling mom on you. You know we’re the better hunters.” The first female Doberman spoke, her fur the rather odd mixture that occasionally appeared. Her shiny coat was chocolate brown, with the typical markings of muzzle, ears, eyebrows and legs in tan.
Her sister was almost identical to her, though the classical black and tan appeared on her body, a look mimicked by her brother. As it was, she kept quiet for a moment, her brown eyes watching the interaction as though she were puzzled. Her head even cocked to the side slowly before she shook herself off and growled softly in the back of her throat.
“She’s right. You are silly, too loud to be hunting with us, Hunter. All you do is thump about like a clumsy Human! You know that we need to feed ourselves as much as we can. They can’t spare the food and mom will get angry with us.” She snorted as she turned her back on him, her short tail standing at attention. “Hunter in name only. That’s all you are.”
She ignored the pleading voice behind her, one of her upright ears twisting back as she heard the soft whimper of her more submissive, less blunt brother.
“But…Baker! You know mom said we had to stick together, and that we needed to practise hunting in a pack. And Brier, you told me you wouldn’t ever leave me behind.” The sound of his whining got on Baker’s nerve enough that she turned back around, her sister at her side. Brier growled softly, her head dropping down as Baker bared her teeth and began to slink towards the shaking form of their brother.
He was still with fear, not noticing the lynx sneaking behind him. A snarl from Baker had the cat pausing then continuing on. The tawny coat was specked with silver, gold and tan and the lynx paused. As the pair of young dogs sped up, the cat leaped, pouncing upon the hapless dog-pup on the ground. Blood spilled from between her claws as she raked her claws along the short-furred sides, Hunter screaming as the pain blossomed through his body.
The lynx sprang away, as cool and cocky as a cat could be when the two dogs crouched over the form of their brother, their eyes glaring hatred at the feline who sauntered away without a care in the world. Baker whined the second the cat was out of sight, and nuzzled at his cheek.
“Come on, Hunter. You need to get up so we can get you to our Human. He’ll make you better.” She kept nosing at the still body of her brother until horror filled the expressive brown eyes and she let out a ringing howl, shaking her head. “No, no, no. Brier, he can’t be dead. He just can’t be! He’s our only brother!”
As the pair mourned their brother into the darkness, a pair of sullen eyes watched them, the angry look in its eyes turning triumphant and proud as they hesitated, not wanting to leave him before their mom and their Human got there to help.
This is part of the story of Baker, the Doberman who appears in Echoes of Winter. Baker was raised with her brother and sister in a Human village. This is something that is unusual in the setting – most humans are dead, and only very few individuals in each breed of dogs remain ‘pure’. Baker is based on a friend of mine, who has the same mock-mean outlook on life.
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