Monday, May 2, 2011
Shasi, Warrior Princess
Rakshasi smelled the wolves long before she spotted them. They strutted up Talbot’s Peak’s main street in a tight bunch that forced other pedestrians to step off the curb to avoid them. She watched them warily from her position outside the coffee shop. They were on the opposite side, though, so she figured she had nothing to worry about. They’d go on their way and that would be that.
She should have known better. If she could smell them, they could smell her. The lead wolf swerved abruptly and crossed the street. His fellows tagged after him without a break in stride. Brakes squealed and cars screeched to jarring stops and drivers yelled obscenities, but the wolves didn’t even glance around. They hit the sidewalk a few yards down and started toward her.
Rakshasi studied them from the corner of her eye. Six juveniles, alike enough in features and scent to be brothers or cousins. Family. A pack. They might pose a threat. She pretended not to look at them. Perhaps they would pass by.
“Hey, tiger. Here, kitty kitty.”
No luck. They’d picked her as their target. She turned her attention to the wolf in the lead. His actions would determine the pack’s next move.
He was taller than she, with a stocky build. Those disgusting yellow canine eyes swept her up and down. He smirked. “Nice titties, kitty,” he said.
She had no time for this. She was supposed to meet Devon here for coffee. She had dressed to please him, not these puppies. She did not deign to answer.
“Nothing to say to us, kitty? You cat bitches think you’re too good to talk to a wolf?”
“Cats don’t call their shes bitches,” the pup just behind the leader said. According to Devon’s lessons in pack rank, that would be the beta. “They call them – ” He used a word that curdled her ears with its foulness. On cue, the other puppies laughed.
“How about it, kitty?” the leader said. “Is that what you are?”
Coolly, she told him, “What I am and why I’m here is none of your business. Move along.”
“Ooo. A cat with alpha airs. Where’s your pack, alpha?” He loomed up into her personal space.
Rakshasi backed away. She must not draw attention to herself. Father had been specific on that point.
“You don’t smell like an alpha,” the leader growled. “You smell like a scared little kitty. I’m in the mood to chase cat today. How fast can you run in those shoes?”
Rakshasi glanced around him. Too many others around, too many eyes, too many tongues to carry tales back to her father and her father’s enemies.
The wolf mistook the dart of her eyes. “There’s no one here to help you, kitty. This is wolf country.”
Rakshasi bolted. The pack voiced a gleeful howl and lunged in pursuit.
She ducked into the first narrow space between buildings that presented itself. The first wolf to follow, the leader, charged right into her waiting hands. She flung him easily over her hip and sent him flying. Tigers were built of muscle. Did he know nothing?
The rest of the pack presented no challenge. They entered in a cluster, as she expected, so that their own bodies restricted each other’s defense. She darted in a circle around them and picked them off easily, one at a time. Within moments the mess of them lay writhing and whining on the filthy ground. Rakshasi glowered down at them. Pathetic. How had the breed survived for so long, if all were as inept at the hunt as this?
One wolf hung back on the sidewalk. The omega. She bared her teeth and beckoned to him. “You too, puppy. Come get your treat.”
He gaped at her. He gaped at his defeated pack. Then he turned tail and ran like the dog he was. Rakshasi spit in his wake.
Behind her, the leader rose dizzily. Rakshasi whirled. The lesson must be learned, and well. After today he must hunt no more tigers. Her foot hit his jaw and she felt the bone crack. The wolf slumped against a dumpster.
But he lived. They all lived. Killing them would stir more trouble than all of them together were worth. A pity to waste future meat on such as these, but one must remember priorities. Rakshasi tugged her dress straight, patted her hair back into place, and stepped back onto the sidewalk.
Devon stood outside the coffee shop, anxiously scanning the street. She hurried up to him. His smile was all she needed to wipe the distasteful last couple of minutes from her mind. “Beloved. I’m sorry I kept you waiting.”
“You didn’t. I just got here.” He swept her into his arms for a sound kiss. “Are you okay? You’re all flushed.”
“I was in a rush. I wanted so badly to see you.”
“You don’t have to get all worked up just for me. Not that I don’t like it, understand.” He shot is gaze around the street again.
“Is something wrong?” she asked.
He shrugged one shoulder. “Nah, it’s nothing. Word of some rival pack prowling the streets. If we’re supposed to meet somewhere and you get there first, wait inside. Stay in crowded places. They always go for stragglers, and they certainly don’t like cats.”
“I’m not afraid.” She snuggled against him. “Not when I have you to protect me.”
Posted by Pat C.