Sturm's Territorium - Die etwas andere Dinosaurierseite

Minstelae's Story

The story of a Utahraptor... sort of based on raptor Red, but of course, different, as well...
yes... there are talking raptors. If you don't like it, tough.

(By Ellie (a.k.a. Minstelae))



1. A New Beginning


The sky was darkening in rain, indicating that there would soon be a downpour, and torrents of rain. The chick looks up at the incoming clouds and sighs. "Better go back, to the den," she hears her father tell her. She looks at her sister, who nods quietly, not saying much. She always was the shy one of the two, though both of them didn't tend to say much at times. They had been gathering food, for their mother, who was back in the den, sick. She had suddenly caught an unknown disease a few weeks ago, and she did not seem to be getting any better. Minstelae was worried about her. She had seen the way that her mother barely even opened her eyes anymore, and how she could barely even moan in her miserable state, though she tried. She could never bear to see her mother die. It would be too much for her to take, too much for her to handle.

Fortunately, they had found a kill that had been made nearby, and didn't need to hunt, that being a good thing, since Minstelae's mother was so ill, she could not aid in hunting with her mate. And fortunately, she and her sister, Amber, had been able to eat something, as there had not been much to eat lately. Usually the two would stay in the den and wait for their parents to bring them food, but it had been nice out earlier, and they wanted to join their father, rather than staying in the den. They had been in the den with their mother for quite a few days now, and it had been getting to them. After all, they weren't going far away from their territory. But, the storm clouds were moving in quickly and without warning.

Sighing, Minstelae averts her eyes from looking at the clouds, and begins following her father and sister back to the den, not wanting to be left alone. They had been in such a hurry to get back that no one had noticed that they were being followed, that there was a slight scent lingering in the air. Amber noticed it first. "What…… what is that?" she asks in fear. Then the scent hits Minstelae, and then finally, her father. Minstelae can hear her father bellowing to her to run, and suddenly, it is too late. She feels herself being lifted upwards, in huge gaping jaws, then she hears her father shrieking in anger, and watches as he attacks her oppressor. Minstelae is dropped, the ground moving ever closer to her, and she finally hits it with a dull thud. She tries to move, but she is frightened. She can only make little whimpering noises in the back of her throat. Minstelae finally regains her ability to move, and she runs like mad and hides from a safe-enough distance, although she wants to make sure her sister and father are all right. She watches as her sister is picked up in those huge jaws as well, not having been fast enough in her reaction. She watches her father attack again, screaming in anger and lashing out with his claws. Her sister is shaken madly and flung into the air, landing farther away, yet Minstelae stays still. Then her father falls somehow, and then he gets back up again. He runs back, preparing himself to attack again, but he is limping. He is no longer in any condition to attack. Minstelae watches as he jumps up again, digs his claws into the creature's sides, biting at its neck and eyes. Then, he falls again, no longer being able to get up. He is stepped on repeatedly, and bitten at, until his body becomes one with the soil, no longer moving. She hides, watches that horrible thing eating her father, and is trying not to cry or whimper or make any other noises that might betray her presence. It is all she can do, not to. Finally, after what seems like forever, it leaves, yet Minstelae stays in hiding for an hour or so afterwards, to make sure that the horrible attacker is gone. She then comes out of hiding and runs over to where her father is. He is no longer recognizable. He is just a mangled mass of arms and tail and viscera. Minstelae feels sick inside. This could not have just happened. Not to her. Not to them. No. It couldn't be. Not with their sick mother. She and her sister could not survive……. Her sister! Minstelae searches the air for any sign of her sister's scent, whimpering softly to herself. She sniffs long and loudly, and then she catches it. Faint, but it is there. She sighs, whimpers and follows the scent of her fallen sister.

The scent gets stronger, and Minstelae is running now in hopes that her sister Amber is fine. But she whines loudly and lowers her head when she gets there. Her sister is there, all right, but is barely breathing. Her leg is bent at some odd angle, and she is bleeding; yet it is hard to tell where the wound is or where the blood is coming from. Minstelae sighs and nudges her sister, getting no response from her. Her breathing becomes labored, and she lies down next to Amber, alternating nudges and nuzzles with whimpering and soft whining. Inside, the realization hits her. Her sister will not live much longer. All Minstelae wants to do is go back to their den and cry softly.

The thunder roars loudly now, and lightning illuminates the dark, clouded sky. It is so cloudy now that it is very dark outside. She can still see, of course, but everything has this dark, foreboding essence about it. She whimpers as the lightning strikes, then hears a loud crack, even louder than the thunder, and there is a burning smell in the air, and a tree falls. She runs, terrified, back towards the den. But she cannot leave her sister there. There is still the small chance that…… that she might live. Not knowing what to do, she stands there, as her snout is pelted by first one drop, then another, and another. She must act fast.

Minstelae runs up to where her sister is. Perhaps she can do it. She gently takes the neck of her sister in her jaws and wraps her arms around her sister's torso, tasting her sister's blood. She whimpers and lets go with her jaws. She notices that her sister's little feather-crest, which was once a shade of gray-blue, is now dark in color, encrusted in blood. She takes her sister's neck in her jaws again and pulls, mustering all of her strength, and slowly makes her way towards their little den. It seems to take forever, and it is pouring now. Minstelae quivers and eeps with every loud crack of thunder, every flash of lightning. She is almost there. She is pulling her sister uphill now, which makes it even harder, but she is almost there. The little chick twists her ankle slightly on a rock, and falls over. She feels a sudden pain in her ankle, but she gets up and resumes pulling anyway, this time being more careful. With each step uphill, Minstelae can smell the scent of her mother getting stronger and stronger as she gets closer to the den. But, something is not right about her scent, though Minstelae cannot tell what it is about it that is wrong.

Finally, she is there. Minstelae drags the frail, slender body of her sister Amber into the den, and finally allows herself to collapse once more, panting deeply. At least they had shelter now. She catches her breath, then walks over to her mother. Her scent was bothering her. Something was horribly wrong. Whining, she runs over to her mother and nudges her. She is not moving. There is no response, and her body seems different somehow, though Minstelae cannot quite place it. What was wrong? She nudges again and whines loudly, hoping to get some sort of response from her mother. She then sees it, notices what is wrong. There is no heavy, labored breathing, her torso no longer rising and falling intermittently. Her mother is dead. Minstelae cannot believe this. How did she lose her sister, mother and her father in one day? And here she had initially only her mother to worry about. But now…… now she had no one. And she was way too young to be able to care for her sister; she was just a chick herself. Minstelae runs over to a dark, still place in the cave, and falls, hitting the ground hard, her body shaking in sobs and whimpers. She cannot stand this. It is just too much. She cries like this for an hour or two, then slowly becomes quiet, falling into a deep sleep of exhaustion.

Her dreams are unpleasant and dark, dreaming of all that had happened in the last day. She twitches and moans in her sleep, alternated with whimpering when she dreams of her sister and her parents. She awakens the next day, and the rain is gone, though the sky is still overcast. What was she going to do now? The silence was overbearing.

She stretches and goes outside, gazing into a puddle of water left by the rainstorm. She can almost see her sister looking back at her. She sees her own yellow eyes tinged with red at the edges, her own blue-green feather-crest, and her own reddish-brown skin. What she sees is herself, but she didn't realize how much she resembled her sister. She looks back over to her sister's still form, then back into the puddle. Yes, they were alike, almost identical. They had hatched from the same brood, after all.

Minstelae sighs and walks over to where her sister is. Yes, she is still breathing, but Minstelae is discouraged by the way she looks. Inside, she knows she cannot take care of her sister, that she has no way to do so, and that she will be incredibly lucky if she can take care of herself. Giving her sister one last nuzzle to say goodbye, she walks slowly, head hanging, from the den. She will not come back here for a very long time, if ever. She must leave this place behind her for now, for good.



2. The Pack


About a week later...........

It is getting dark, the sun is setting, and Minstelae continues wandering. She is far from where she initially began, with her family, and most of her wounds have healed. She was lucky she didn't suffer worse, at least, on the outside. The sunset is beautiful, but Minstelae can still only feel sadness and worry. She has not been able to find anything to eat for the last week, save the few dead fish she has found here and there near the river she has been following. A few minutes later, she catches the scent of others, others of her species. It seems that she smells two or three of her kind nearby. And she also smells the scent of food, and that scent is unmistakable to her. She is afraid, but she has no other choice but to follow them. She might as well risk it, because if she doesn't she will soon starve to death anyway. She can just barely walk, as it is. Minstelae continues walking, as fast as she can, towards that scent, although at the moment, all she can muster is a slow walk, almost a limp, and she can't even walk straight, as it is.

Minstelae is very close now, the scent is very strong. She follows until she gets there, stumbling. She hides in some bushes, panting for air and almost blacking out. There are two others, a male and a female, eating from the carcass of some sauropod that had been killed recently, probably earlier in the day. Minstelae was so hungry, she could not take it. She had to do something; she could not wait any longer. She sees the other two Utahraptors looking in her direction, obviously having caught her scent. She figures she might as well come out from hiding, they had found her already anyway. She stands up, musters a small, quiet eep, and walks towards them, and then everything goes black....

When she wakes up, it is daytime again, probably somewhere during mid-afternoon. Then the memories slowly come back to her, being alone, following the scent of two Utahraptors and their prey, them finding her, but what had happened after that? She opens her eyes and sniffs the air, trying to decipher where she is now. There are others around her, lots of them, she can see and smell them, and she is in a cave somewhere, though she hasn't the slightest idea of where. No matter. She had to figure out how she had gotten here and who these strangers were.

As if to answer her question, two raptors, the same two who had found her the previous day, approach her and drop some meat on the ground for her. Suddenly remembering just how ravenous she is, she eats all of it. The female of the pair looks back up at the male, and he leaves, coming back soon with more food. Minstelae eats her fill and stands up weakly, trying to walk about, and she finds that she can walk all right once more, that she had just been exhausted and starving. Now that she had her rest, she would be fine. Or so she hoped. She still didn't know who she was with, nor did she know what they were like. She looks back up at the two. "Thanks, but who are you? And why…… am I here?" she asks curiously.

"You are here…… because we brought you here. You seemed in a bad way," the female raptor responds. "By the way, I am Hedda," she smiles. "And this is Arame," she says, looking over at her mate. "And you are?" she asks the little chick.

Minstelae stammers. "Minstelae. I-I'm Minstelae," she tells them, looking at the ground.

Hedda nods and has an expression of deep thought cross her face. "Where you from?" she asks simply.

Minstelae isn't sure how to respond. "F-From far away, over in the Ananda territory. My family was killed, and so I was looking for……." she lets her words trail off.

Arame nods. "Yes. We know. Looking for food and shelter. Well, you have it now, and hope that you will stay with us."

Minstelae figures she might as well. They seem nice enough to her, and she doesn't sense a threat, as of yet. "W-Will this pack accept me?" she asks simply, still kind of afraid that someone might harm her.

Arame chuckles. "Are you kidding, the Daya Clan? No, no one will hurt you here and yes, they will accept you."

Minstelae looks up at them, looks at the others. She thinks that she will stay with this group, and take Arame's word for it. Perhaps she could stay with them and everything would be all right. "Thank you," she says shyly. "I think I will stay and are you new parents?" she asks, tilting her head to one side curiously.

"If you so wish," Hedda smiles. "Actually, we had that in mind when we first saw you," she says thoughtfully.

Arame nods. "That we did. That we did."

Minstelae thinks for a while, then stands up. "Arame, Hedda? My sister wasn't dead when I left. Can we look for her and bring her back, if she is okay?" she asks hopefully. She misses her sister terribly already, and she would give almost anything to have her back, let alone the rest of her family.

Arame thinks about it, then looks over to Hedda, who nods at him. "Yes," he says. "We will go look for her, if you show us where it was that you last saw her." Minstelae agrees, and they head off.

They walk, the three of them, for quite some time, and finally, they get there, to the same den that Minstelae remembers being in. Her family, her mother, this was going to be painful. Still, she has to be strong, to see if her sister is okay. She walks inside the cave and still her mother lies there, as if in a peaceful slumber. Too peaceful. She looks around for her sister, and finally walks back out again, looking up at her new parents longingly.

"She's gone," she says simply. Now she knows for sure that she never wants to return here again. Something had to have happened to her sister, and she didn't want to know what.



3. Pleasant Life


A year or so had gone by, and things were pretty good now, for the most part. Minstelae had learned to deal with the deaths of her parents, and the loss of her sister, although to think about them, still hurt her inside. She was glad, though, to have found new parents, who had raised her, and who had cared deeply for her, and they had definitely helped her. They had taught her how to hunt, protected her, and taught her everything she would need to know to live successfully in a hard world.

Minstelae had noticed lately that the pack's Alpha pair, Shrenula and Bikkerae, had seemed sort of... off, lately. They had always been good pack leaders in the past, or so she had thought. They were strong, had good convictions, good judgments and seemed to care about even the more lowly-ranked raptors in the pack. In fact, they had all been considered equals although admittedly, the Alphas were the most respected. Now, Shrenula and Bikkerae were gradually beginning to change, and become more domineering, although the change seemed to be very slight. Minstelae had never really worried about it though. No one in the pack had been hurt or mistreated, as of yet, so she just let it go, since she didn't see a problem, and was still young. But Minstelae had seen how they treated anyone of another pack or species. It was rare for them to be invaded by other packs or to be visited by other species, but on the rare event that it happened, the Alphas would have nothing of it, even if the visitors were peaceful and meant no harm. They would attack whoever it was that was in their territory, no questions asked. And that bothered her, but she didn't feel that she could do anything about it. It would be a bad idea for such a young raptor to challenge the Alphas of this pack. A really bad idea. And Minstelae had never wanted to, anyway. She had never thought of it, and was still loyal to those in her group.

But at the moment, things were going pretty well, and Minstelae had no real worries. Her adopted parents had laid eggs recently, and she was looking forward to having young siblings to take care of, even if they didn't share her genes. Minstelae was a young adult now, and it would help her to learn anyway. Besides, she liked chicks, and she loved the idea of having siblings once again. But, it was getting dark, and she might as well be turning in, to go to her nest in the den and sleep. She yawns, already tired, and goes back, lies down, and falls into a deep sleep.

The next day seems to be a pretty one, no clouds, the outside temperature just perfect, not too hot, and not too cold either. Minstelae yawns and gets back up. She looks around for Hedda and Arame. They are over with the Alphas, talking to them. Nothing new, she thinks. Her parents were the Betas of the group now, and they were often found conversing with the Alphas about things, regarding the pack, regarding decisions. It was generally nothing to worry about. She stretches and rolls over onto her side, and closes here eyes, lying in a sunny spot, enjoying it all. She almost drifts off to sleep again, it is so pleasant.

She then hears a loud hiss, and opens her eyes to see what is going on. Her parents are being dragged away by the Alphas, the other members of the pack following them, and she watches as they approach her. She gets up, wanting to know what is going on. One of the stronger pack members, a large female, hisses at her. "Come with us," she says in a not-too-pleasant tone of voice. It is not as if Minstelae has any other option anyway. They grab her, shove her into the middle of the group with her parents, and force her to go. She begins to wonder what has happened, and where they are taking her. Oh, this can't be good, she thinks to herself.

They reach a clearing, which is surrounded by lots of trees and underbrush. Ironically, it is the same place that Minstelae would often be caught playing with her parents about a half-year ago. The pack splits up, four raptors surround her, and the rest shove her parents into the middle of the clearing. She can't bear to see Hedda and Arame lying on the ground, quivering in fear, wondering what all is going on. Her eyes wander over to two raptors to the right of the group she is being held hostage by. She sees that they are holding something in their hands and jaws. 'The eggs!', she thinks. 'Now what are they doing? They can't!' The thoughts scream in her mind. She knows by now that the rest of the pack does not have good intentions for them. She looks over to Shrenula and Bikkerae. Shrenula nods her head at the two raptors holding the eggs. Minstelae cringes. She knows what they are about to do. But why? She cannot make this out in her mind as to why they would do this, what her parents had done, what she might have done without knowing it...

She hears a grating crunch as one of the raptors crunches down on the egg that is in his mouth. He then proceeds to do the same with another. The other raptor beside him proceeds to do the same thing with one egg, and then throws one of the eggs to the ground, breaking it. Hedda screams. Minstelae watches and stares in terror. Arame tries to get up but is forced down Shrenula. Evidently, the majority of the pack had changed, just like the Alphas had, and all this time, Minstelae had not been aware of it. It disgusted her.

Another sickening crunch, and it is all over. At least, Minstelae thinks it is all over. She has a sickening feeling that it isn't though, and she is right. The two raptors then place their attention on Hedda and Arame, smirking evilly.

"What? What..." Arame stammers at them, wanting to know why they are being treated like this.

Shrenula saunters over to Arame. "You challenged me. I do not take lightly to a challenge," she hiss-growls at him.

Hedda speaks. "He did not. He was only commenting on some changes that were occurring in..." she tries to reason with them but is cut off.

"Occurring in us? Occurring in us?" Shrenula screams at them. She then lets her voice trail off into a menacing hiss-whisper. "You told us that you did not like what you were seeing, and that you were wondering about us, and that you did not like to see such changes in an Alpha raptor. I take that as a direct challenge. And for that, you will pay."

"H-How so?" Arame asks in fear. "Are you going to kill all that we have loved? All that we have worked so hard to keep alive, and leave us in the dirt?" he asks, glancing over at Minstelae, obviously worried that they would kill her as well.

"No. You only have that partially right," Shrenula growls at him, teeth bared, close to his face. "What I am going to do, now that you have had your little punishment of watching your precious eggs get crushed right before your eyes, is kill the two of you. And Minstelae will be alive the whole time to watch it. She will pay for your misdoings." And with that, before either one of them can say or do anything, Shrenula nods at Bikkerae, and Bikkerae nods to the rest of the pack.

Before the rest of the pack can do anything, Minstelae screams out. "No! You can't do this to them, or to me! We never were going to……"

Bikkerae hisses at Minstelae. "For that, young one, you shall pay, and your parents will watch. Then we shall kill them."

"What, you're going to kill me too?" she asks.

"Not kill you, just ah, shall we say, punish you. You have to be alive to watch your parents die, now don't you? We will make sure that you remain fully conscious, and for that, Minstelae, you will be of the lowest status in our pack, and no one will care whether you live or die, or about giving you any of the comforts that you are so used to."

Minstelae growls. "You can't do this, you can't..." She lets her words trail off as Shrenula nods to the others.

The attack comes at full force, before Minstelae even realizes it. She can feel the pain of someone's killing-claws tearing into her belly, her sides, her back, tail, everywhere. She screams out in agony. Then it stops.

Minstelae lies there, still alive, still conscious, but barely able to move. Her belly has been badly torn, and she can feel a really sharp pain at the end of her tail, but there is still a possibility of it, and the other wounds, healing. None of the wounds are necessarily fatal, even the belly wound, although they are extremely painful.

She looks up at the others as soon as they back away, and they are now attacking her parents. Her parents scream in agony and severe pain and after a few seconds, they are totally silent, unmoving. Minstelae remains silent as well, not wanting to be killed herself. The raptors step back, and Minstelae sees them, her parents, unmoving, no longer alive. The ground is spattered by their blood and obviously, they have been gutted, as well. She cannot bear to see this. She tries to keep a tear from falling from one of her eyes, but she can't. They had been her only way, her only survival, the ones who had cared enough to take her in. And now... now they were... gone. Throughout her lifetime, she had lost two families: four parents, a sister, and her soon-to-be siblings as well. She remains totally silent, and lets her head hang as the others grab her arms and drag her back to the den.

They lay her on the ground outside of the den. Shrenula steps up to her. Minstelae can no longer move. "You shall sleep out here from now on, as you are now the lowest pack member. And you will live the rest of your life knowing what happened to your family because of what they did. I hope that you will learn from them," she hisses threateningly. The Alpha female walks away, back into the den, and Minstelae collapses in a deep sleep, not knowing whether she will wake up or not.



4. Change for the Better


Seven years later........

Minstelae looks at the incoming clouds. They reminded her of the past. A lot had changed since then. After the ordeal with her parents, the Daya Clan had continued to change, and still, not for the better. It had all happened so slowly as to be unrecognizable, but the change had been great. They were no longer the peace-loving clan that Minstelae had initially grown up with. Everything had changed, it had seemed. The pack had grown, and had become even more unruly than they had been previously. Minstelae still, after all this time, could not believe what they had done to her parents and her potential siblings. And she still could not believe that she had managed to stay alive somehow. They had all been so defenseless, and in no way a threat to any pack member. There were other pack members as well, who hated what all had happened, but they had all been too afraid to stand up to it, after they had seen what had happened to Minstelae's parents. It had been they who had snuck in food for Minstelae during the night and fed her, this being the probable cause for her being able to heal. But still, there were too few of them and too many of the clan who would kill them in a heartbeat. And Minstelae was also too afraid to stand up to anyone. Yet, something had to be done, or it could get worse, and those of them who still followed the older beliefs of the pack, would probably eventually be found out and killed. It was only a matter of time.

All of the others were too afraid. There was nothing that they could, or would, do, at least, not alone. Minstelae would have to get them together, as a group, as soon as she thought of some way out. They were waiting for her to come up with something. Minstelae had grown up to be well-respected among those few clan members, and they all looked up to her, though she was unsure as to why they did. She would probably never know or realize the answer to that question.

Minstelae knew something had to be done. They could not stay there any longer. She had seen the way other pack members had been treated or rather, mistreated, when they voiced an opinion or even slightly went against the flow, even after the incident with her adopted parents. She had seen them be attacked in punishment by the rest of the pack, and the pack had stopped just before their victim reached that point of death, leaving them to try at a painful survival or to die in pain. And no one helped them either. No food, no water, nothing, except on the few occasions when the same packmates who had fed her, also did the same for them. They could only do that so often, or risk being found out. Those few who had survived this intense torture had many, many scars, and would never go against the grain again. They would always remain quiet about what had happened, and would never voice their true opinions.

Minstelae and the others tried to act just as the rest of the pack did, so as not to draw attention to themselves, though Minstelae could never force herself to participate in the painful "punishment" of the other pack members. She still had two very nasty scars from her incident with the Daya. One was on the base of her tail, and another was along the left side of her belly. Not to mention, the very tip of her tail was missing, due to that incident. And that particular punishment of hers had happened just because she had cried out in anguish when they had killed her adopted parents. It had been excruciatingly hard for her to lose two sets of parents in her lifetime. She had loved Hedda and Arame as much as she had loved her original parents who died long ago, and the feelings she had when watching their deaths as well, had been horrific.

And here it was going to rain. They needed the rain, it had not rained in a long time, and everything was dry. Still, Minstelae wasn't looking too forward to it. For whatever reason, though the pack had grown, they had not changed locations, and they still lived in the same caverns that they had resided in ever since Minstelae became a part of their group. And because of this, the lower-ranked pack members, which Minstelae was still considered to be, even after all of this time, had to not only sleep outside at night, but couldn't retreat into the den if it rained. So there she was again, and she would be stuck out in the rain. Ah, well, she thinks. Not like I haven't done this before. She mental-shrugs and eyes one of the others, Filia, whose mate, Khalil, is sitting beside her, both of which had better things in mind than staying here.

All of their communication had been through eye movements and body gestures, which were done subtly, so as not to catch the attention of the rest of the pack. Since most of the pack members generally rested in the same general spots, when they rested, Minstelae and those who respected her, generally stayed in the same area. Because everyone generally chose similar resting-spots, no one had suspected them. And because there was no suspicious talking amongst them, their ideas were not obvious to the rest of the clan. Hence, they had learned to communicate using slight movements that did not appear to be anything more than normal raptor behavior. A small snout-movement or twitch of a hand-claw in a general direction or under certain circumstances could mean a lot whereas, to the others, it would appear as nothing but a mere twitch or reaction to an insect alighting on someone's snout.

There were four of them in all, with like mind. There had been others in the past who, unfortunately, had been found out and killed by the clan, and who did not survive the punishment. These four were the only ones left, Minstelae, Khalil, Filia and Jabari, the only ones who remembered or rather, cared to remember, the older times. Jabari was the only one left of the offspring of Khalil and Filia, although he was now fully grown, a young adult. The other three of his siblings had died at a young age, not able to withstand the pack's cruel treatment and politics. Somehow, Jabari had been very lucky to have stayed alive.

These were the three who remained on Minstelae's side. Filia was a strongly-built female, her skin being of a dark brown color with darker, almost black, markings. She had green eyes and a feather-crest of a bright, yet dark, blue. Her mate, Khalil, was more thin in appearance, although he wouldn't be considered to be skinny, and had more greenish undertones to him, being more greenish-brown than anything, with only slight markings of a dark green color along his back, with long, dark claws, yellow eyes and a reddish-colored crest. Their remaining offspring, Jabari, was strongly built, like his mother, but was a darker shade of green than his father was, minus the brownish tint to his base-color, with dark brown markings along his back. His eyes were a brilliant blue in color, and his crest was a lighter shade of blue than his mother's. He highly resembled his father in a way, even though he had traits from both of his parents.

In response to Minstelae's quick eyeing of Filia, the female does nothing but stretch her arms out on the ground, while lying there, feigning tiredness.

Minstelae stretches out her arms and legs, stretching herself towards the ground, while still standing on her feet. She then promptly lies down. They knew what she was talking or rather, gesturing, about. Minstelae was quite proud of the communications the four of them had developed between one another. So far, no one had suspected them of anything. It was all Minstelae could do not to grin knowingly at herself. But she could not risk any of the others knowing what they were up to, so she didn't.

She continues lying there with her eyes open, appearing to stare at nothing but watching the three in her peripheral vision. She had become good at this, as had they. She watches them for a minute. Nothing. Then, a slight twitch of the inner finger-claw of the left hand. 'Left-hand inner-finger twitch... means... night-walking,' she thinks to herself. She twitches the outer finger-claw of her left hand in response, hoping they would get the message. Before sunrise, she had said. She wanted them to leave past midnight but before the sun rose, when all would most likely be in their deepest sleep-states. 'Eyelid-twitch... agreement... understanding,' she thinks. And if it rained that night, then perhaps it would help in erasing their scent-trails. 'Good, good, it is set then,' she thinks, although slightly nervous about what is going to take place. Then, she remembers something. She snorts, as if a bug had landed on her snout, though further examination would reveal there was no bug. She then exhales deeply, while twitching her own left inner finger. The meaning of these gestures is... crouch-walk, indicating that they would have to move in a semi-crouched state until they had gotten farther out of the Daya territory. Filia makes a clawing motion with her hands lazily, and then her eyelid twitches again, indicating her agreement and in turn, stating that they would still have to move rather quickly. Minstelae twitches her own eyelid in agreement.

A few more minutes pass by, and the gesture-conversation subsides, after agreeing to stay awake all night, feigning sleep, and leaving when all is still. 'It is going to be one long night,' Minstelae thinks to herself. 'But then, if we escape, it will be well worth it...'

Minstelae lies awake for a moment, to make sure the conversation is now over, then allows herself to go to sleep. Since it is early afternoon and she will be needing to stay awake all night, she figures she should probably get some rest before then. Doesn't matter, she is sleepy anyway. Slowly, she begins to drift off.



5. Escape


Minstelae awakens, feeling an occasional raindrop falling onto her face, then opens her eyes. It is dark outside, already, the clouds blocking any view of the stars. A few minutes pass, and she hears the loud roaring of thunder, and then the wind begins picking up. Good, she thinks. A good storm is all we need. Must wait until after it begins storming, though. She sighs, and closes her eyes again, pretending to be asleep, and uses her other senses to detect the weather, feeling the raindrops pick up, the wind get faster, the scent of the rain, and the amount of time between the thunder and lightning-strikes.

She then comes to a realization. 'The sentries!' she thinks. Every night, there were two or three raptors appointed to guard the place, usually the same individuals, although they tended to rotate duties sometimes, due to the need for sleep. But maybe... if the storm gets worse, if it gets bad enough, they will either come back or not detect us. Minstelae hoped that it would be the latter, as she did not want them coming back and foiling their escape plan. Ah, well, better go by the plan, its worth the try anyway. If they could not escape, Minstelae was thinking she would probably rather die than live within this pack anyway.

Minstelae lies there for a few hours more, not liking the feel of the rain pelting against her skin and drenching her, but relieved that it is raining, after all. That might be their only way out, the fact that it was raining. And fortunately, since the four of them were outside in the rain, the sounds caused by the rain would drown out any accidental noises they might make. Still, they would have to be very careful about this. There was always the chance of getting caught, and Minstelae feared that idea more than anything.

It is pouring hard now. Minstelae gets up slowly and stretches silently. The other four are well aware that it is time now, and they open their eyes, one by one, but don't move a muscle.

Although Minstelae is acting as quiet and calm as she can, and is rather convincing about it, her heart is beating very rapidly right now. Yeeep, now, if only I can pull this through without a hitch, she thinks. She walks quickly, yet slow enough as not to make a sound, through the area around the den, then leaves the area, no problems. She hides behind some underbrush, and awaits the others. 'Come on... one at a time,' she thinks, hoping that they remembered that part of the plan.

A few minutes go by, and Jabari gets up, and follows the same procedure, walking quickly and silently towards where Minstelae is hiding. Silently, Minstelae watches as Khalil does the same, with no problem, and then Filia gets up. Silently, the three of them watch. Not realizing it was there, Filia stumbles on a rock, but fortunately recovers, and the sound of the unceasing rain drowns out any sounds she may have made. Someone nearby her, who is sleeping near the den entrance, stirs and groans. Minstelae gasps. They can't get caught! They just can't! But fortunately, the sleeping raptor remains asleep, shifts over to his other side, and resumes in his sleeping.

Minstelae breathes a silent sigh of relief as Filia joins them. Without saying a word, and barely taking time to look at each other, they walk quickly, but are still wary of making noise. But they still had the sentries to worry about. And with the rain, there was no telling where exactly they were. Any scent caught of them would be very fortunate. Just after thinking of scent, Minstelae stops short. She had caught just the slightest hint, for a split-second, of the scent of one of the sentries. She crouches low and tries to find where the scent was originally coming from. The others follow her lead and crouch with her. The scent disappears. Minstelae is worried now. She just wants to know where that faint hint of a scent had come from, in which direction, but there was no telling now.

'There!' She can barely see it, but there is one of the sentries, a male, large for his size, and equally vicious, standing in the rain. A small eeping sound slips from her throat. She sure hoped that that hadn't been loud enough for the sentry to hear. He continues to crouch there in the rain, watching, waiting. He turns around, and begins walking back towards the den, the rainstorm halting any ability he had to perform his duties well, anyway. But the way back to the den means that he will be walking right past them. They are sure to be detected. Minstelae quivers in panic, trying to think of something to do next.

Before she can do anything, she watches as someone silently attacks the male Utahraptor. And then, someone else, and then, a third, and a fourth. 'Deinonychus,' she thinks. 'But I wonder why...'

She watches as he reacts to their attack, his full attention on them. She gets up and runs fast, runs hard, all the time hoping she doesn't run into another one of the sentries. They should be around soon to help protect the other sentry, that is, if they could in any way sense or perceive what all was going on.

Suddenly she gets up and runs, never looking back, and soon, she can feel the others who came with her, behind her, to her sides. "Don't look back, just run!" she tells them, softly enough so as not to be heard by anyone outside of the general area, but loud enough for Filia, Khalil and Jabari to hear her. They run for what seems like hours, and the territory of the Daya Clan and the sentries and the Deinonychus disappears behind them, not that they were watching it disappear anyway.

Finally, when it seems that they can run no more, and that they are relatively safe, they slow down to a walk. That was way too easy, Minstelae thinks. It shouldn't have been that easy. Of course, the incoming rainstorm had helped a lot, and if Minstelae was ever grateful for a storm, it was now.

They all pause briefly to catch their breath, panting in the middle of the rainy night, with nowhere to run for shelter. Minstelae looks up at the sky, no sign of clearing anytime soon, but perhaps it would clear in a few hours. Hopefully.

"We need to keep walking," Minstelae reminds them. "They can still come after us, and who knows how long it will take them to realize we are gone?" The others nod in agreement, and they pursue walking again, although they don't know exactly where they are going, due to the rainstorm.

They walk for several more hours, and the storm finally subsides, though slowly. And it won't be long before the sun rises, either. And they all needed their sleep. But hopefully, they were far enough out of the way of the Daya that they would not be found.

Slowly, Minstelae begins to sense light in the sky, very dim at first, but it is still there. And it gets brighter and brighter, as the sun rises. It is now morning, a new day. And hopefully, a new life, as well. They walk further, this time looking for somewhere to lie, somewhere good to sleep. Minstelae doesn't want to have to lie down without a den or a cave, or some kind of shelter, because she fears she and the others would be too vulnerable, just in case anyone came out this far to look for them. 'They probably won't come, we are so far out,' she thinks to herself. 'Too far out... still, I don't want us to be that vulnerable, this is new territory, and we don't know anything about who lives in it.'

Minstelae sighs and keeps on walking, and the others continue following, too tired to say a word. And then, Minstelae catches a slight scent, of a Utahraptor female, and there is something oh-so-familiar about it. She can't quite place it, but she recognizes something about it. Something very familiar. She looks at the others. "I'm sorry, but I must find out who this is, the scent is familiar to me," she says to them. They nod, not saying anything, still being too tired to voice any objection or to say much. Minstelae continues following that scent, trying to figure out why it is so familiar to her.....



6. Amber Sunrise


The scent gets closer and closer, and Minstelae finally finds its source. Another female raptor, yeah, she knew that already. But why…… was her scent so familiar? She decides she might as well go up to the raptor and find out. But the raptor catches her scent and begins heading in her direction. "Minstelae?" the female raptor asks. Minstelae walks up to her, deciding she must be friendly or at least, hoping she was. She obviously seemed to recognize Minstelae. But who was she?

"Y-Yes?" Minstelae asks, confused. "Who are you?" She looks at the new female raptor. Yellowish eyes, reddish-brown skin like her own, that blue-gray feather-crest with the distinctive green feather at the front. She realizes now who this is, and begins to hop up and down excitedly, not particularly caring what the others thought of her. She didn't have much energy but surprisingly, at this moment, she had found enough to hop up and down.

"Amber? Is that you?" she asks, grinning. The female raptor nods and head-bobs an overjoyed greeting.

"It's me. Took you a while to remember, didn't it?" she asks, smirking a little.

Minstelae walks up and nuzzles her. "Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't matter, I found you, didn't I?"

Amber laughs. "Well yes, but might I ask who these other three are?"

Minstelae remembers that the others are still standing there, silent. She looks over to them, then back at Amber. "One to the left, is Jabari, the offspring of Filia and Khalil here," she says, smiling. "We all um, had an incident that we had to get away from, so here we are."

Filia bows. "Nice to meet you, Amber, sister of Minstelae," she smiles. "Now, is there anywhere to sleep here, or anything to eat?" she asks, not wanting to be rude, but still getting to the point. All four of them were exhausted from the previous night's escape.

"Somewhere to sleep, perhaps not so out in the open?" Jabari asks, still fearful of the fact that they might be hunted down.

"Sure, I'll take you," Amber says simply to the four, and walks off, leading them. The others follow, and they soon get to a small den, not very large, but large enough for the five of them. "Good thing I made it large enough, I never really knew why I made it larger than I needed, it was a lot of work. But here, you are welcome to stay," Amber says, trying not to show how glad she is to have found not only her sister, but potential packmates as well. Amber had been alone for quite some time now, and things were beginning to get harder and harder. There was not that much to eat, at least, that a single raptor could kill. Still, she made it somehow. Fortunately, she had taught herself how to fish. That helped sometimes, although it wasn't quite enough for her. Therefore, Amber was quite thin.
Minstelae and the others lie down and go to sleep, and Amber is silent. She might as well nap with them. She wasn't terribly tired, but there wasn't much else to do at the moment. Perhaps they will be able to hunt later. They are all hungry, after all. But she will worry about that later. Amber lets herself drift off to sleep.



7. A Proposition


Several hours pass, and Amber wakes up. The other four are still in a deep sleep. Something isn't right, though. Amber sniffs the air. There is a small hint of something, of someone, several someones, in the air around her. A very small hint, but it is still there. Amber sniffs again. Deinonychus. There are Deinonychus somewhere around the area. Amber had never really liked Deinonychus. There were two local Deinonychus packs, and since Amber hadn't been around any Utahraptors in years, at least, not of whom she would have cared to associate with, they made it hard to find food sometimes. The two local packs didn't care for Utahraptor much, although they weren't hostile. But Amber still couldn't get meat from their kills, as they would never let her, since they saw her as either a threat or an annoyance. So, Amber had given up trying.

Amber keeps sniffing at the air, and the Deinonychus scent is growing stronger. Sometimes this happened, but they tended to leave her alone, most of the time, just so long as she left them alone. They'll probably go away, she thinks. She will wait a minute or two and then, if the scent continues getting stronger, she will wake someone up. She continues sniffing the air, and the scent does get stronger, much stronger.

Amber nudges her sister. "Minstelae, wake up, someone is here," she whispers to her sister. Minstelae doesn't wake up. She nudges harder this time. "Wake up!" she hisses. This time, Minstelae wakes up.

"Wha?" Minstelae looks around, kind of irritated, aroused from her sleep. She then inhales and understands why it is that Amber is waking her up.

"I thought they would go away, they usually do, but they seem to be approaching us. Probably nothing to worry about, but..." she trails off as she hears a twig crack in the underbrush. Minstelae gets up, standing tall, though not able to let one last yawn escape from her still-tired being.

"Who is out there?" Minstelae demands of the Deinonychus. "And what do you want?"

A Deinonychus female, a dark greenish-blue in color with vibrant yellow eyes and a gold and red feather-crest, steps out from the underbrush and takes a few steps forward, but doesn't get close enough to get her head bitten off. Minstelae can tell that there are more in hiding, though, and also notices that this female Deinonychus has a rather cocky, self-assured gait.

~Hey, take it easy. We're not here to cause trouble,~ the female speaks in her own tongue. At this moment, the other three are waking up, startled by the confrontation, and stand all the way up, noticing who is out there. Minstelae doesn't know Deinonychus tongue, and she doubts that the others do, either. Still, her focus remains on the Deinonychus female, unmoving.

Another Deinonychus comes out of hiding, a male. He is dark green, almost black, and has no apparent markings, but has a bright red feather-crest tipped with black along the top of his head and neck, and very penetrating violet-blue eyes. He nudges the female with his snout and says in perfect Utahraptor language, "Hey, speak their language, already."

The female looks at the male briefly. ~Oh, come on, I was only wanting to have a little fun, they obviously don't know our language,~ she smiles slightly, then averts her attention back to the four Utahraptors, with a more serious expression on her face.

She takes another step forward, and ducks her head in greeting. "Hello. We mean no harm. You probably do not recognize us," she says.

Minstelae continues looking down at the two smaller Deinonychus. Now, this was a first. Deinonychus talking to them, and in a seemingly peaceful manner. Hope this isn't some sort of trick, she thinks. She remembered that the Daya Clan had hated the Deinonychus but then, they hated everyone, so she could not accurately judge from them.

Minstelae decides to stand her ground. "No harm? Then why are there others still in hiding?" she asks suspiciously.

The female chirps to the others still in hiding. Two more join them.

"Is that all of you?" Minstelae asks them, still suspicious. The female, evidently the head female, nods. Minstelae decides to trust them for the time being.

The Deinonychus female dips her head in respect, then continues. "They were only unsure of you. There are no more in hiding."

Minstelae sniffs the air carefully, to make sure, still not taking her eyes off of the four smaller raptors. There don't seem to be any others in hiding. She decides to let them continue what they are saying, to hear them out.

The head female continues. "In case you haven't noticed, and I don't think that you have... we are the same group who helped you escape last night."

Minstelae blinks. "Helped us escape? Who...? That was you?"

"Yes. That it was. And we followed you here. From a careful distance, of course. So that you wouldn't know we were following you. I am Lakura, of the Shrenaea Clan."

Minstelae is confused, still. "Lakura? I am Minstelae... but why... specifically, did you help us? What are we to you?" she asks, tilting her head to one side and squinting an eye in confused thought. She had just assumed that Lakura had reasons other than helping them, that perhaps they were just causing trouble, or that they hated that pack, or that they had reasons for attacking that particular Utahraptor the previous night.

"I know who you are. My consort, Shanlee here, had been watching you, when you were with the Daya. He had been sent there originally to spy, to see what the Daya were up to, but then started noticing you four," she nods at Minstelae, Khalil, Filia and Jabari. "He came back and told us about your erm... advanced speech patterns, you know, the way you talked using eye-blinks and claw-twitches," she smirks.

Minstelae interrupts. "And here we were trying to be discreet about it," she says, a slight irritation in her voice.

Lakura grins slyly, and the male Deinonychus speaks. "That you were. Just that a Deinonychus biding his time watching a pack of Utahs on a periodic basis tends to observe things after a while. After all, you four were always in the same general area, so it became evident after a while."

Minstelae looks at the male standing next to Lakura, evidently this Shanlee that she had mentioned. "Yes, but why? And what do you want from us?" she asks, still wishing that they would get to the point.

Shanlee speaks. "We need your help. We know that you dislike the Daya, and they have done nothing but cause problems for our kind, as well as yours. They are too large, and too unruly, and often cause problems for everyone," he says, knowing that Minstelae will understand this, her having been with that particular clan long enough to.

"Basically, we would like your help in trimming them down to size, just a bit," Lakura says smugly. "Do you ever wonder why there aren't too many Utahraptor packs in their general area? Or why, for the most part, our kind stays out here? There is only so much hunting that can be done out here, you know," she says, in a more reflective tone.

Minstelae can see what they are getting at. The Deinonychus want the five of them to help get rid of some of the Daya Clan. There is no way they can do that now, they are simply too weak at the moment. She looks at Lakura. "I understand, but do we really look like we are in the condition to attack the Daya? We are still weak, tired and hungry. Not to mention, the Daya Clan is way too large for only five Utahs and four of your kind."

Lakura grins. "Yes, I am well aware of that. I did not mean now. And as for the pack size, I've got my erm... connections. All I want you five to do for the moment is consider it. This isn't to happen soon, it shall be several months yet, should you decide to take us up on our offer. Of course, if you choose to do so, you will always be welcome here, and we will consider you our allies. If not, you can help yourselves." She looks at Amber. "And I have seen how hard it is for you here, believe me."

Minstelae is slightly irritated by Lakura's smug manner, but she will just let it pass. "So, that's it? And you will leave us here to think about it and come back later, right?"

Lakura grins again, the smugness plastered all over her face. "Yep. That's the gist of it." She then turns around, gives a quick message to her packmates in her language and saunters away, the others following her.

Amber waits until after the Deinonychus are out of earshot. "Well, that was interesting," she smirks slightly.

"To say the least," Jabari snickers back at her.



8. Hunting


"Well, you guys, I'm getting hungry," Minstelae says to all of them. She then looks at Amber. "You know the area, anywhere we can get food?," she asks her.

Amber nods. "Well, yes, there are some places to hunt, although food there isn't always guaranteed. But if you are feeling lucky……," she smirks slightly.

"Yes, I am feeling very hungry, erm, I mean, lucky, at the moment," Minstelae grins back. She looks back at the three. "You guys up to a hunt?" she asks them, not wanting to push them into something as challenging as a hunt if they are still too tired for it.
Filia looks to Khalil and Jabari. They nod. "I guess that we are up to it, then," Filia says to Minstelae, and the five of them head off, allowing Amber to lead them, since she knows the area well.

They continue walking for a bit, then are led to a clearing, evidently the hunting grounds of the area. Amber smirks. "That used to be the hunting grounds, but well, there isn't much prey left there anymore. But a raptor pack sometimes finds an occasional food-item walking about in the forests just past the clearing, if they are fortunate enough," she explains to them. Minstelae kind of shrugs to herself and continues walking, following Amber. She leads them past the clearing, and into the forests behind it. Amber just hopes that they are fortunate today. It has been so long since she has hunted big game, being alone.

They are lucky. Minstelae catches the scent of an iguanodont nearby, probably a mile or so away, at least, in the general area. They continue walking, though, being as silent as possible, so as not to cause any alarm. When they get there, there is an iguanodont indeed, although small, but it should be a large enough meal for them anyway. The five raptors take hiding places, making sure to place themselves downwind from the herbivore. So far, the iguanodont suspects nothing, then Minstelae hears a slight crack, someone had broken a twig or something. The iguanodont looks around, sniffing the air, obviously getting suspicious.

It is at this moment that Minstelae strikes, not waiting for the others. She knows that they will be right behind her, and they are. She can see them through her peripheral vision, as they do the same things she does, jumping out from their hiding places and rushing out towards their prey. Minstelae jumps, leaps into the air and lands on the right side of the herbivore, Jabari and Amber joining her. Filia and Khalil come from the other side, slashing at the sides of the prey. The prey struggles, but since it is a smaller representative of its species, it is no match for the five Utahraptors, and the pack brings it down before too long, then back up, waiting for it to die completely. They wait for a half-hour or so and by then, their prey is dead.

Everyone eats their fill. It had been a while since Amber had had a good meal, and the other four were ravenous from exhaustion and traveling in the rain the previous night. Amber was feeling happy. She was now beginning to get the feeling that she could consider these raptors a pack now. She never thought she would find a pack, let alone, her sister, ever again. But here she was. And here they were, a pack and her sister, all in one. She tries to contain herself, although it is quite obvious that she is in a good mood.



9. Reflection


Minstelae eats her fill, then waits until the others are done eating, for the most part. She looks over at Amber, who is also done eating.

"So... where were you all this time?" Amber asks her.

"You don't wanna know," Minstelae responds, a slight edge in her voice, not meant towards Amber, but meant towards what she had experienced. She then sighs, lies down, and proceeds to tell Amber the whole story, about how she had been found, how she had been taken in, how the pack she was with had become obnoxious and had killed her adopted parents and destroyed their eggs. And she told them about the escape, as well.

Amber sighs and shakes her head. "And you think you know someone... never thought I would say this, but I would much prefer to be alone than to be with a group like that. I knew to avoid that area, because a lone raptor had warned me about it, but I never knew that you were there. I just avoided that area altogether," she says, looking at the ground. "But, if I knew you were there..." she says, lying down in front of Minstelae.

Minstelae looks at her sister. "It's not your fault for not knowing, so don't worry about it. We are with each other now, as it should be. No more Daya," she smirks. "Besides, you haven't told me your story yet, about how you survived?" Minstelae asks, nuzzling her sister.

"Well, it's kind of a long story, but not as involved as yours," she grins.

Minstelae nods slightly and looks back at her, waiting for her to explain.

"You remember that 'dactyl that helped us find kills, before things got bad?" she asks. Minstelae nods. "Well, you won't believe this, but he would come by every so often and drop meat at me, until I healed. I still am not sure how I managed to live, I was hurt so badly,""" she says, tilting her head so that Minstelae can see a large scar running from her chin to the left side of the base of her neck. "But at least I had no belly wounds like you did. A neck wound can either be fatal or able to heal. Evidently this one wasn't fatal, so I managed somehow. When I finally came to, you had left, so I left, assuming the worst. I looked for you, but you were gone..." she says sadly.

"I did come back looking for you about a week later, as soon as I got some food and energy into my system, if that makes you feel any better," Minstelae says, nuzzling her sister again.

"I know. I figured you probably did, but that wasn't until after I came out here, wanting to leave the area, and it just so happened that we didn't cross paths up until now," Amber says, nuzzling back.

Jabari walks up to the two, finished eating as well. "I hate to interrupt you two, but what were your thoughts about those Deinonychus who spoke to us?" he asks with a slight grin on his face.



10. Planning


Minstelae grins up at Jabari. "I think Amber said it quite well... interesting," she says with a slight smirk. "But they do have a point. Living with the Daya, even though I knew it was bad, I never realized just how much they had taken over the area. So... they do have a point. It's rather risky, though, and I would like to have more raptors in the pack before I make any decision that has anything to do with the Daya."

Amber looks at Minstelae oddly. "So... we are a pack then?" she asks.

"Well, what else are we?" her sister grins back, glad to be among others that she feels she can consider to be a pack anyway.

Amber tilts her head to one side. "I dunno... just didn't know that it was official," she says with a slight grin.

Minstelae laughs. "Well, why not? I see no reason why not, unless anyone has any objections here" she says, although she knows the truth, that no one, in fact, does.

Jabari shakes his head. "No. Of course not, no objection here." His parents kind of grin, indicating that they feel the same way, but that they also knew Minstelae was kind of joking with them.

"If I knew any better, I would say that those Deinonychus regarded you as the Alpha," Amber laughs.

Minstelae smirks. "Yeah, strange huh?"

Khalil speaks. "Hardly strange. If you were to ask me, I would say you'd be a great Alpha. It was you who got us out of the Daya Clan alive, and it was you who took charge in speaking with those Deinonychus," he tells her.

Minstelae is surprised by this strange compliment. She had never really thought of herself as a leader, although she had never really been a follower either. She just thought it was strange that after all of these years of being considered the lowest, that someone would actually be willing to consider her among the highest. "Okay, if you insist, but its not official unless I get agreement from all of you," she says, still feeling that she isn't necessarily the Alpha type.

Amber laughs. "You always did have traits you didn't think you had," she says, nudging her sister. "And yes, I agree."

"Then it is set. Minstelae is the Alpha. While the two of you were speaking, we were talking about you, Minstelae, and we all agreed on this. So, there you are. You're Alpha now. And Amber is Beta."

Minstelae grins and laughs, and Amber smiles, obviously happy about the Beta decision, though she keeps quiet, as is her custom.

"Am not. Not me," Minstelae laughs and shakes her head.

Amber smirks. "You are," and before Minstelae gets a chance to counter that argument, she gets play-whacked hard in her neck with her sister's snout.

Minstelae mock-sighs. "Well, okay, if you insist, at least for the moment."

"We insist," Filia says. "There, now we're done with that, let's see, about those Deinonychus? What do you want to do about them? You are the Alpha now."

"Well, okay, maybe I am, but that doesn't mean that I know all the answers. I have to admit, I was irritated by them at first, but they did have a point, and actually, towards the end, I found them to be quite amusing. I just wasn't showing it," she chuckles at herself.

"Amusing?" Jabari asks. "How do you consider them amusing?"

Minstelae laughs lightly. "Well come on, its not every day that some strange group of Deinonychus walks up to you like they own the place and try to form alliances with you. Not to mention Lakura. She's just hilarious," she says, laughing harder now.

Amber smiles. "Okay, so you have a point. But... are we going to ally with them, or not?" she asks. Amber kind of liked the idea. Her sister was right. Even if she didn't particularly like Deinonychus, she did think that this could be interesting, that is, if the Deinonychus had indeed been truthful about the alliance. She pushed that thought out of her mind and let herself think of better things, such as it being a nice thing to have them as allies and friends rather than competition or annoyances. It would be a lot better that way.

Minstelae looks at her, and the others, and hopes the others aren't going to hate her for this. "Yes, we are," she says, in a more serious tone of voice, to let the others know that she isn't joking.

Filia nods. "It's your decision, and we respect that." No one says anything more, for the moment.



11. A Newcomer


Minstelae decides to go back to the den to take another nap, as she had been interrupted from the previous one. The others had decided to go along with Amber in exploring the area, since they were new to the general location, and Amber wanted to show them where everything was.

She walks slowly back. It had been an interesting past couple of days. Fortunately it had been a good sort of interesting. And Minstelae had a hunch that despite her smugness, Lakura had meant what she had said. She couldn't explain it really, just a feeling she had. And Minstelae trusted her hunches.

She gets to their den and enters it, makes a sleeping-nest for herself and begins to lie down when she hears a slight rustle in some of the plant life outside the den. 'Probably just the wind,' she thinks. She lies down again, but the rustling becomes more intent. 'Hmm, there is something out there.' She gets back up and goes to the den entrance and sniffs the air. At first, she doesn't catch anyone's scent. She sniffs again, and it is there. Very faint, but there. She just hadn't smelled it before, since the wind was blowing the wrong way. "Who's there?" she asks, and then it is totally silent once more.

She pauses. "Who's there?" she asks again, this time a little more demanding. It is still silent. She sniffs the air again. This time she catches a little bit more of the scent. She isn't sure, but thinks that it is a Deinonychus. 'Hmm, probably just someone sent by Lakura...eeps, they're impatient!' she thinks to herself. She walks towards the source of the scent. 'They said in a few months but they're already coming for answers. Deinonychus!' She snorts in slight irritation at the concept.

Her thoughts are interrupted by the rustling in the bushes again. "Okay, whoever you are, come out! It's not funny anymore," she says, with a slight growl of irritation in her voice. "Didn't know we needed to make the decision today..." she trails off as the source of the scent makes a small eeping sound and comes out from hiding.

'It's a chick! How? Is it from Lakura's clan? Where are the others? Why is this... chick...?' Her mind is racing even more than it was before. Still, there is the possibility that the chick is alone. She sniff-searches the air again, and detects no one else nearby. 'Okay, maybe this chick has nothing to do with Lakura? I would hope that her clan would have the sense enough not to leave one of their own alone...'

Still, she has no intention of harming the chick. And it does seem like the chick is alone. And Minstelae remembers what it is like to be a chick, alone. She crouches low to the ground, at eye-level with the chick, hoping to seem less threatening. "Come here," she says in a more calm tone of voice. "It's okay, just come... here," she says. The chick takes a few steps closer, and Minstelae finds herself staring into the huge blue eyes of the chick. She looks at the chick for a moment, and the chick is completely still. She is a pretty chick, even if she is a Deinonychus, she thinks, smiling to herself, and to the chick. The chick is fairly small, of course. To a Utahraptor, any Deinonychus is small. She appears to be about four or five months. Old enough to talk, Minstelae thinks to herself. Yet, she hasn't said anything yet, not even in her language, she ponders. The chick is a deep shade of blue-green with purplish markings spreading down along her spine and tapering into stripes on the sides. She has a small feather-crest, which is a silvery blue in color.

"Come on. Come here," she says again, and then suddenly the chick is gone, hiding from view again. The chick peeks out from behind her new hiding-spot, a nearby rock. Minstelae can tell that even though the chick is still shy of her, she is only hiding in play this time, as opposed to being terrified of her. Minstelae grins at the chick. "You little..." she shakes her head in amusement.

The chick runs from her hiding-spot and finds another. Minstelae takes a few steps toward the chick, who in turn, runs from her again. "Forget it," she says, grinning. "I'm not chasing you around all over the place. If you want to come here, just do so." She then turns around and goes back into her den, lies down and rests her head on her forearms. She closes her eyes, feigning sleep.

A few moments go by, and the chick comes back to Minstelae cautiously. Minstelae opens one eye. The chick appears to be shy once again, probably intimidated by getting so close to a Utah. ~Who... are... you?~ the chick asks in her own tongue.

'Ah finally, she says something,' Minstelae thinks. 'Now, if only I could figure out what she is saying...' She is sort of miffed that she doesn't understand Deinonychus tongue at the moment. But if she is going to have her pack ally with Lakura and her Shrenaea Clan, then it would probably help to at least know a little bit of Deinonychus.

Minstelae knows that the chick probably doesn't know what she is saying, but she speaks to her anyway, appreciating the chick's efforts in speaking to her. "Hello, I am Minstelae," she says, emphasizing the name "Minstelae" and bringing her head down to one of her forearms, a raptorian gesture indicating that one is referring to themselves.

The little chick growls slightly, more of a high-pitched chirping call than a growl, although there is a slight growl mixed in with it. She then tilts her head and brings the tip of her snout down to one of her own forearms. ~Celeea,~ she says, bringing her head back up and tilting it to one side curiously, as if in deep thought. She is still and quiet for a moment. "Means... water..." she says in Utah tongue. This surprises Minstelae. She can speak Utah language!

"You understand me?" Minstelae asks Celeea.

The chick tilts her head again, thinking. "Little... a little... Utah," she says, then eyes Minstelae questioningly, curious as to whether she had said that right.

Minstelae smiles. "It's ok, you understand me more than I do you, and you have a pretty name," she says, then motions the chick to come over to her.

The chick comes over and stands in front of her and dips her head in thanks for the compliment on her name. "Celeea... sleep?" she asks. Minstelae nods to her. Evidently the chick wants to sleep, and that is fine with her. She will figure out all of this later. Maybe they will have to make an early trip to find some of the Shrenaea Clan. Perhaps they will know the chick. For now though, Minstelae is perfectly okay with the chick sleeping in her den with her, as she had initially come there to rest anyway. Minstelae rests her head on her forearms, and Celeea comes over to her and lies down next to her, closing her eyes and leaning slightly in her direction.

Minstelae is surprised that the chick isn't terrified of her. She was shy, of course, but this lean indicated that there was at least a little bit of trust there. And Celeea knew a few Utah words, at least. Perhaps she had been exposed to Utahraptors in the past. Minstelae sighs softly and allows the chick to lean into her. She closes her own eyes and begins to doze off, as well.



12. Awake Again


About an hour goes by, and Minstelae is awakened by the sound of Celeea, chirping and trilling softly at her, yet sounding agitated. She yawns and opens one eye. "What's the matter?" Minstelae asks.

"Someone... come?" she asks softly, her head held low and her feather-crest flattened against her head. "More... your... kind?" She is clearly worried about there being others out there. Minstelae searches the air for scent. The wind has calmed down a bit now, and the scents are clear. It's just her sister and the rest of the pack coming back from their little walk.

Minstelae, having identified the arriving Utahs, smiles. "It's just my pack," she says.

The chick still looks scared, and hides behind Minstelae as the scent gets stronger. She says a few things in her own tongue but then realizes that Minstelae doesn't understand her. "Pack... like me?" she says in Utah language, obviously worried about being chased away or hurt.

Minstelae gets up and faces the chick, bending down to her eye-level and nudging her softly. "They won't hurt you. I'm the Alpha. If they did, they'd have to answer to me. Besides, my pack isn't like that," she says softly. She steps outside of the den and takes a few steps towards the others, but Celeea stays inside the den, still scared and worried about the others.

Minstelae watches as Jabari and Amber walk up to her, chattering about something and making some joke about Deinonychus and Troodons, and Filia and Khalil aren't far behind. Minstelae clears her throat loudly, to get their attention. "We seem to have a newcomer," she says to them, smiling slightly.

Amber looks startled. "A newcomer?" she asks. She sniffs the air and catches Celeea's scent. "Oh no, don't tell me they're back already," she says, referring to the Deinonychus who had visited earlier in the day. "Geez, they're impatient!"

Minstelae laughs. "Believe me, it's what I thought at first. But this one, I'm not sure if she has anything to do with Lakura or the Shrenaea Clan. Although I intend on finding them and asking them if they know her, soon."

Amber tilts her head to one side. "Why is she in our den?" she asks. She could perhaps understand the whole alliance thing but why was there a Deinonychus rummaging around in their den?

"Don't worry. You'll find out soon enough. Stay here for a moment." Minstelae then turns around and peers into the den at the still-terrified chick. "Hey, don't worry, no one will harm you," she says to Celeea. "They just want to know who you are, is all. Please, come out?" she asks. Celeea decides she should perhaps trust Minstelae. She hadn't done anything bad so far, and she had seemed to have a general concern for Celeea.

Minstelae turns around and walks completely out of the den, and faces the others, hoping that the little chick will follow her. "She should be coming... I hope she'll come out. Be nice to her, she's a little worried," Minstelae says, realizing that what she was saying was quite an understatement.

Minstelae hears a slight chirp behind her, and Amber takes a step sideways, to get a better look at the chick. "Oh... she's pretty... you didn't tell me she was a chick," she says, smiling. Amber continues looking at the chick. "You wanna come here?" she asks the chick, in her most calm tone of voice.

Minstelae turns her head around to see what Celeea's reaction will be. The chick darts over behind Minstelae and hides behind her, occasionally peering around her at the others. "Celeea, it's okay," she says, in an attempt to calm the chick.

Amber grins. She had always kind of liked chicks, even if she had not always liked Deinonychus. "No one's gonna hurt you," she says soothingly. She then looks back up at Minstelae. "Does she understand us?" she asks.

Minstelae nods. "A little bit, though very little," she replies, and Amber nods in understanding.

Celeea takes an awkward step out from behind Minstelae, but still doesn't leave her side. "H-Hello," she says softly. "I... Celeea," she says in her broken Utahraptor language.

Amber smiles and introduces herself. "I'm Amber," she says, and then looks at the others, naming them in the order in which they are standing. "This is Jabari, and Filia, and Khalil, all packmates."

Celeea looks up at the others and bobs her head in an awkward greeting, but doesn't say anything else.

Minstelae explains the ordeal. "I was coming back to the den, as I had planned, to take a short nap. And somehow, I managed to find this little rascal outside the den hiding. And evidently she has sort of taken to me," she smiles.

Amber laughs a little. "I see. Well, she picked the right pack, at least," she says, referring to the experiences that her sister had recently had with the Daya Clan.

Minstelae nods, then sighs a little, thinking to herself. "I'm not sure where she came from, and I'm wondering if Lakura might know where she belongs, or who her parents are." Minstelae hears Celeea whine a little bit, and looks down at her, to see what is wrong.

"Parents... gone... no come back," she says. Minstelae knows what this means, as does Amber.
Amber nods at Minstelae and smiles sympathetically at Celeea. "I know the feeling," she tells Celeea. She looks back up at Minstelae. "But what shall we do with her, take her to Lakura and see if anyone there will take care of her? They are her own kind, after all," she says, her logical mind taking over.

Celeea speaks again, quietly. It is hard to hear her, but she gets the message across. "No... Celeea... Minstelae... stay," she says. "Minsty... mother?" she asks Minstelae, looking up at her.

Minstelae nods to the chick, and smiles, indicating her agreement. Perhaps if the same hadn't happened to her as a chick, Minstelae would not have been quite so understanding. However, it had, and Minstelae could still remember what it was like, to be uncertain, unknowing, facing a dangerous world alone, and its inhabitants, who happen to seem large and threatening. "No, I think, for now at least, what she wants is pretty clear, and I'm not going to deny her that," she says, understanding the chick's sentiments exactly.

Amber understands as well, and feels slightly mad at herself for not realizing this as quickly as her sister had. She looks at the chick. "But of course. You, Celeea, shall stay with us, then."

Celeea grins at Minstelae, then her expression becomes more serious. "Food?" she asks. "Have... food?"

Minstelae almost growls at herself. She hadn't even thought of food, but the chick was probably starving. They might as well go take her back to the kill site. Instead, she smiles at the young one once more. "Yes, don't worry, I will take you." She looks back up at the others. "Anyone care to go back with me? Amber?" she asks, not particularly wanting to go alone, as she was still probably unaware of the new territory's inhabitants.

Amber nods. "Sure... why not?" she asks. The others decide to stay back, as it isn't really necessary for the whole pack to go.



13. Crike


Minstelae walks along with Amber and Celeea to the same place they had been earlier, where the food is. For the most part, everyone is quiet, then Amber speaks up. "You don't have to be afraid of us, you know," she says, smiling at Celeea.

Celeea looks up at her and smiles somewhat. "I... know..." she says, letting her words trail off, due to her not being able to speak Utahraptor language properly.

Amber continues. "It's understandable. You come up to a group of raptors way bigger than yourself and you're afraid of us, it's natural. But you don't have to worry about any of us."

Celeea nods and thinks for a bit. "Yeah..." She struggles, trying to think of the right words to say. "I... was also... taught..." she says, hoping Amber will get the general gist of what she was saying, since she can't finish the sentence herself.

"Taught?" Amber asks. "You mean by your previous parents? You were taught to be afraid of us?"

Celeea nods.

Minstelae speaks. "Yeah, a lot of your kind are taught to be afraid of us," she says." And that's reasonable. Some of our kind are worthy to be feared," she says, remembering the Daya. "But then, some of us aren't so bad."

Celeea nods again. "I... know... now," she says, still struggling with words somewhat, but glad at least, that she can speak to them, even if she can't fully express herself yet. She'll have to pick up this language fast, if she is going to be around these Utahs for long, which she hopes to be.

The little chick struggles some more with words, but then sniffs the air. They are close to the kill now, and she can smell someone out there, a Utahraptor. "Someone... there," she says, her steps falling slower now so that she is behind the others, and is able to hide somewhat from the stranger, should the stranger approach them.

Minstelae nods. "Yes, I noticed that. Amber, stay back here with Celeea, I'm going to find out what's going on. It seems there is a raptor at our kill. If I need help, I will call you," she says, walking fast towards the kill site.

Amber nods and stays behind with Celeea, who seems really scared at the moment, still hiding behind Amber.

Minstelae walks up near the kill, although she keeps herself hidden. She looks through the underbrush at the kill. Yes, there is a raptor there, a male Utah, as she had smelled earlier. She isn't downwind, as there isn't any wind. He's gonna find me out sooner or later, she thinks to herself, just as the raptor turns his head to look in her direction. "Who's out there?" he asks her, although it sounds more as if he is merely curious, as opposed to sounding threatening.

Minstelae steps out from where she was. "I'm here, we are the ones who killed this... I'm Minstelae, Alpha of my pack," she introduces herself, looking over at the kill site. "Who are you?" she asks, kind of irritated that he had eaten from their kill without asking, but certainly not angry to the degree of attacking him.

"Name's Crike," he says, bobbing his head in greeting. Minstelae takes one step closer and looks at the male, who is sort of a dark greenish blue in color, with a black feather-crest tipped with gold and red. He looks back at her with bright yellow eyes, obviously looking her over, too. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be a threat, or to steal from you. Just that I was very, very hungry... and it's hard to find stuff out here sometimes..." he trails off.

Minstelae bobs her head back at him, both in greeting and in indication that she accepts his apology. "Don't worry about it, I understand. You can stay if you want, I have already eaten, I was just bringing someone here to eat, who hasn't had a chance to eat yet." Minstelae sure hopes he likes Deinonychus but then, who could resist Celeea? Minstelae had found her irresistible herself, from the very beginning, despite species differences.

"Okay," he says. "You sure I shouldn't just leave?" he asks her, still evidently feeling bad about having invaded the kill site.

Minstelae chuckles. "Nah, really, it's okay. Stay. By the way, are you a loner?" she asks him.

Crike nods. "I guess one would say that I am currently, that is why I was hungry. Why?"

"I was just wondering. I have recently started a new life out here, with a new pack, and I don't think any of them would mind it too terribly to have another packmate," she says, smiling at him a little.

Crike smiles back. "So does this mean... that I am invited to join up with you?" he asks her.

Minstelae nods. "Of course. Why not?" She remembers the others and calls out to them, a low call that lets Amber and Celeea know that everything is okay.

Crike smiles again. "Okay. Fine then, I agree, why not?" he asks, and eats a little more, but makes room beside the kill for anyone else who was coming that might want to eat.

Minstelae smirks a little, and can hear the other two approaching. "Hope you like Deinonychus," she says.

Before he can respond, Amber walks over to the kill site and eyes Crike curiously. "Who are you?" she asks him.

"I'm Crike," he says, then looks at Minstelae, then back at Amber. "But I must say that you are huge for a Deinonychus," he laughs.

Amber smirks, then eyes him in mock-irritation. "I'm not the Deinonychus. She was right behind me but... I think she's hiding from you," she smiles, then calls to Celeea once more, indicating it is okay. After all, the reason they had come here in the first place was so that the young one could eat.

Celeea comes out from hiding slowly, eyeing the new male Utahraptor with big, scared eyes.

"A chick? Now I get it, she is somewhat irresistible, although a little too scared of me," he says, watching her curiously and smiling at her. "Hey... I'm not going to hurt you. What's your name?" he asks the chick.

"C-Celeea," she stammers, still watching him and kind of hiding behind Amber.

Crike smiles at her. "Nice name. I'm Crike," he says, and moves away from the kill, so that the little chick can eat without feeling so threatened.

Minstelae nudges the chick. "Hey, you need to eat," she says, going to the kill site herself, and removing some meat for the hungry Deinonychus chick to eat. Celeea follows her, still eyeing Crike on her way over there, but then starts eating. She is starving. She needed something, as she hadn't had a real meal in quite a while. Minstelae gets more meat for the chick, when she has finished what was originally given to her. "He's a new packmate, by the way. You don't need to fear him, either." Celeea looks up at Minstelae with wide eyes and nods.

'Must be hard for her, having to learn not to be afraid,' Minstelae thinks. She wondered what all had happened to the chick, and her parents, but she wouldn't know anything until the chick learned to trust them all, although she did seem to trust both Minstelae and her sister now. And probably not until she learned to speak the Utahraptor language a little better, or until Minstelae learned some Deinonychus. But that would happen, sooner or later. Celeea just needed some time, was all. Things would be better for her soon enough.

Minstelae gets done with what she is doing, at least for the moment, and walks up to Amber and Crike. "Don't worry, she'll get used to you," she smiles at Crike. "I just met her earlier today," she says.

"Hmm, so she's not technically yours, then? I couldn't tell," he grins.

"Well no, not in that sense, but she does consider me her mother now, and I certainly hold no objections," she laughs.

"And how did the two of you come across? Kind of odd that a Utah would become the parent of a deiny," he says, still smiling, indicating he didn't mean it in any negative way.

"She found me. I was just taking a nap and there she was, playing with me," Minstelae grins. "We gave her the option of going to a deiny pack we had spoken with earlier, but she chose us," she says. "So with us is where she will stay, I guess."

Crike nods. "Well, why not?" he asks, grinning.

"Exactly, why not?" Minstelae grins back.

Crike laughs. "You think if I go over there she'll still be scared of me? I'm still hungry," he says, his feather-crest raising and lowering slightly in amusement.

Minstelae chuckles. "Go ahead and try it, but I won't guarantee anything," she smirks.

He walks over near the kill, bobbing his head at Celeea and smiling slightly. Celeea backs away slightly, but doesn't run off or hide, as Minstelae had suspected she would. She looks at him awkwardly. "H-Hello?" she says to him.

"Hi," Crike says softly, then cuts some meat from the kill and lies down with it, in a less-threatening position. "You know, I'm not going to hurt you."

Celeea smiles a little bit, but remains where she is, still nervous.

Crike offers some of the meat to her. "You want some?" he asks, not wanting her to be too afraid to finish eating. She obviously needed food, as she was pretty thin.

"Y-Yes," she stammers, looking at the meat that is being offered to her but still uncertain and afraid. She remains standing there, however, not sure whether she should walk up to him or not.

"Well, come have some then. No need to think that just because I am here, you can't eat," he smiles.

"Okay," she says quietly as she cautiously takes a few steps towards Crike and the offered meat. Crike watches her, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible, his mouth closed and head lowered almost to the ground. Celeea takes a few more steps towards him, and quickly grabs some of the meat and backs away, although not as far as she had initially been from him. He smiles at her.

She eats what she had grabbed, as it wasn't much, and he offers her more. This time she didn't back away as much or as quickly, and took more meat than she had before. Crike was glad to see that he was actually getting somewhere. Crike watches her and eats some of the meat he has dragged out of the carcass, still being hungry himself.

Celeea finishes what was offered to her and slowly walks up to him sort of timidly, but not as fearful as she had seemed before. Before Crike realizes it, he feels a slight tug on the meat he is eating, and looks up to see that Celeea is on the other end of it, pulling and play-growling.

Crike gives a slight playful tug himself, but isn't too forceful, due to Celeea's small size. Celeea continues pulling and growling, and Crike play-growls slightly himself, then lets go. Although his intentions were to let her have the meat, and not to cause Celeea to lose her balance, Celeea falls backwards and lands on her side, the meat still in her mouth, and Celeea still play-growling.

Crike laughs a little. "You okay?" he asks her, even though he is pretty sure that she is.

Celeea stands back up, drops the meat and puts a foot on it, as if she is protecting it. "Yes... my meat," she says, with a slight trill-laugh in her voice.

"Okay, of course, you win. You're the big, scary one here, I give already," he teases her.

"I am!" Celeea says, standing tall and growling slightly, trying to appear fierce, but her laughter giving herself away.

Crike smiles. "You are. I should be running from you," he chuckles.

Celeea takes a step towards him and play-growls again. "You... should... be," she says kind of slowly, since she is still trying to comprehend the Utahraptor language. She then takes a step forward and nips at his ankles, not actually nipping him, but nipping at him.

Crike eeps loudly and runs from her, since she so evidently wanted a chase, and Celeea follows, growling at him the whole time. He looks behind him, at her, and sees that she is catching up to him, as he wasn't going his full speed, for her benefit. "No! She'll get me! No!" he laugh-growls as he dodges her.

Celeea continues chasing him, until he is backed up against the kill.

Crike lets his eyes get really big in mock-fear. "No... She'll... AAAaaaghhhh!!!" he yells, still pretending to be terrified of her.

Celeea play-growls really loudly at him, her little feather-crest rising in a mock-threat-pose. She pounces him, and he makes himself fall over.

Celeea laughs, but quits growling and chasing. "Okay... I... win?" she asks, grinning at Crike.

"Yeah, yeah, you win," he says, laughing. He hadn't realized how much he liked chicks, but here, he was having the time of his life with Celeea.

Minstelae sees the whole thing and walks up to the two, laughing. "Seems she has warmed up to you," she says to Crike. "That's a good sign," she says. "But are you two ever going to actually eat, or are we going to be standing here, waiting on you two forever?" she teases.

Crike nods at her. "Okay, okay, we'll eat already," he says, teasing her as well. He then walks over to the carcass, Celeea following him, and the two eat until they are filled, then walk over to Minstelae and Amber. "Okay, we're done now," Crike smirks, as Celeea walks over to Minstelae and Amber, and nuzzles them.

"Good, it's about time," Amber says, laughing at the whole incident. "Come on, it's this way," she says, leading them towards the den and the rest of the pack, Minstelae and the others following her.



14. Unwelcome Visitor


The four of them head back, and Minstelae can smell not only the other pack members, but the scents of one other, a Deinonychus. As she gets closer, she can tell it isn't Lakura. She hoped it was someone from the Shrenaea clan, though. Probably was, probably wasn't anything to worry about. Still, she had a bad feeling about this.

The others smell it, too. Celeea really seems to notice, and walks behind the others, evidently in fear. Minstelae looks at her. Celeea actually seems terrified, making small whimpering sounds in the back of her throat. Minstelae has a bad feeling that Celeea knows who this stranger is; otherwise, she wouldn't seem so fearful of someone of her own kind. Besides, he does smell almost as if he could be related to her, if she wasn't mistaken. Minstelae stops, mid-stride, and nuzzles the chick. "Who is that?" she asks, concerned for Celeea. "Do you know that stranger?"

Celeea nods. "My... brother," she says, in a terrified whisper.

Minstelae nods back at Celeea. If it was her brother, why did she seem so scared of him? That didn't seem right. Not right at all. Minstelae can't imagine being afraid of her own sibling, as she and Amber had always been pretty close, at least, during the times in which they had been together. This perplexed her. Why was Celeea so worried? "Why... are you afraid of him?" she asks, simply.

"Tell you... later... don't... wanna see him," she whimpers, with a crying sound in her voice.

Minstelae is still perplexed, but understands that there must be some logical reason as to why the chick is afraid of her own brother. She looks to Amber. "Stay back, with her, keep her hidden, if possible, until I can figure out what is going on," she tells her sister. "I have a feeling this isn't going to be good," she says to Amber, who nods, as Minstelae continues walking. Crike continues on, following Minstelae.

When they get there, Khalil, Filia and Jabari are standing outside of the den, a male Deinonychus standing there, in front of them. None of Minstelae's packmates seem too happy about it, either. Khalil has a slight growl emanating from the depths of his throat.

The Deinonychus, apparently ignoring the growl, turns to Minstelae as she approaches. "The Alpha female, huh? And might I ask where my sister is?" he says, in a menacing tone of voice. Minstelae is surprised that he is speaking the Utahraptor language, and well.

"Your sister?" Minstelae asks, knowing that he is referring to Celeea but not letting on that she knows anything just yet.

"You know who I am talking about. Celeea. Give her to me, now!" he growls.

Even though Minstelae doesn't know the exact circumstances, she can remember how fearful Celeea had seemed about encountering her brother, and she doesn't like the demanding tone of voice with which he addresses her. "And might I ask, why?" she asks him, wondering how on earth a Deinonychus with no obvious packmates with him can act so bold towards a pack of Utahraptors.

"Because she's mine," he says, indignantly.

Minstelae glares at him. "Well, go look elsewhere, we don't have her," she says, realizing that he will probably realize that she is lying, but not being able to think of anything else to say at the moment.

The Deinonychus growls at her and bares his teeth. "Liar. I know you have her, give her to me, now!"

Just then, Minstelae hears someone behind her, growling. Judging by scent and voice, she can tell that it is Amber. She just hopes that Celeea is in a safe spot. Minstelae glances over at Amber, and notices that Celeea isn't with her, and realizes that Amber must have had her hide somewhere for the moment.

Minstelae winces as she hears one of the loudest screeches she has ever heard, coming from her sister. "You!" she says to the Deinonychus. "Leave now, or the pack attacks!" she says. Minstelae knows this must be bad, from the way that Amber was acting. One thing that Minstelae was remembering at the moment, was that her sister was not quick to get angry, but that when she did, she had good reason to be, very good reason.

Minstelae walks closer to the Deinonychus male, growling under her breath. "That's right. Leave or be attacked, fair warning," she says to him, slashing her claws in the air, indicating that she means business.

"I will not leave until you give her to me!" he says, hissing under his breath.
"Okay, then. Have it your way," Minstelae says, and nods at the rest of her pack, and they all move in towards him, growling and snarling as one.

The Deinonychus male backs away, shrieks loudly at the Utahraptor pack, then turns tail and retreats, Crike giving chase. Minstelae looks at the others and tells them to stay back until further notice, and they nod in agreement. Within a few seconds, it is all over, and Crike returns. Minstelae can tell that he was probably just chasing the Deinonychus male off, as there was no Deinonychus blood on him, no wounds, no evidence of actually attacking him. "Thanks," she tells him simply, and he sort of nods at her, but with a perplexed expression on his face that indicates that he is just as clueless as to these happenings as she is.

"Where's Celeea?" Minstelae asks Amber, not wanting her to be in the general area of the Deinonychus any longer.

Amber nods, to indicate the general direction of the chick's whereabouts. "Left her in hiding. I had to make sure you guys knew he was up to no good, Celeea told me enough to know, at least, for the moment," she says, still growling under her breath at the male Deinonychus who had intruded so pompously.

Minstelae heads in the direction that Celeea is, the pack following. When they get there, Celeea isn't there. All that remains is Celeea's scent, mixed in with the faint scent of her brother.



15. Searching


Minstelae growls to herself. Well, he can't be far, she thinks to herself. Minstelae can hear both Crike and her sister growling behind her, for the same reasons. "Let's go look for her," Minstelae sighs, and begins following his scent.

It isn't long before the pack finds them. They are at a nearby river, in a little cave behind a waterfall. Minstelae hadn't known that there was a river nearby, let alone, a waterfall. It is hard to find them at first; the scent is marred by the falling water, and if it hadn't been for the scent-trail, the pack wouldn't have found them at all. The pack closes in, blocking the entrance to the cave. That is, the pack, all except for Crike. Instead, Crike veers off towards the right, climbing the hill that the water falls off from, and eventually standing at the top, near the waterfall, looking down below but staying relatively hidden. Good move! Minstelae thinks. She never would have thought of that, herself.

Minstelae sticks her head through the waterfall, and looks into the cave. Celeea is in the depths of the cave, whimpering slightly, although Minstelae can't see as well, since the cave is dark inside. Minstelae thinks she can smell blood now, and she thinks it is Celeea's. Once she perceives this, she does nothing but utter a low, menacing growl at the male Deinonychus.

The Deinonychus male looks at Minstelae in total and complete hate for her. "Leave us alone, this is not your concern," he hisses at her.

Minstelae growls lowly. "I am her mother, that does concern me," she hisses back, trying to keep from going on impulse and lashing out at the Deinonychus male.

The Deinonychus laughs, a sort of menacing growl-laugh. "A Utah could never be the mother to a Deinonychus," he says, his sentence tapering into a snarl and walking towards Minstelae.

Who does he think he's kidding? He's willing to try to take down a pack of Utahraptors on his own? Minstelae questions the situation in her mind. Something did not seem right about this. Something had seemed rather off about this particular Deinonychus from the very beginning.

"And you are the reason many of my kind hate your kind," Minstelae says, standing her ground and keeping her eyes completely on the Deinonychus male. "What have you done to her, anyway?" she hiss-growls, bearing her teeth at him.

"What I do with my relatives is nothing of your concern," he retorts, snarling back at her and glancing back at the chick contempt. He then looks right back at Minstelae and pauses for a moment, then slashes his hand-claws at her, leaving a small but rather irritating wound on her right elbow. It hurts, but she will manage.

"Is that all you can do?" Minstelae says, backing away slightly, luring him out of the cave. Minstelae can hear Celeea whimper as she backs away, and she growls in reaction at the Deinonychus, then lets her growl turn into a long, menacing hiss. Minstelae still wonders why he doesn't seem bothered. Perhaps he wasn't aware that the rest of the pack was behind her, waiting.

The Deinonychus lashes at her again with his claws, but Minstelae is ready for it this time, and jumps back slightly as he does so, avoiding being wounded again. By now, she is completely out of the cave, the waterfall blocking her view of the Deinonychus male. His head soon pops out from through the waterfall, however, and he continues to stalk her, then notices that the rest of the pack is behind her, and that he is surrounded.

"Come on, you've got to do better than that," Minstelae smirk-growls, and backs away a little bit more. The Deinonychus lashes at her again, and misses once more. Minstelae is careful not to look up at the top of the waterfall, careful not to reveal Crike's location.

Minstelae backs up a few more feet and grins at the Deinonychus. "You give up? Going to release my daughter yet?" she says, growling and hissing at him. "What kind of a brother are you, anyway?" she taunts him some more.

He comes at Minstelae and pounces, his hand-claws grabbing her this time, a good grip too, and he lifts one of his killing-claws and slices at her belly. Minstelae is about to bite his neck when she feels the Deinonychus fall, and she is now face to face with Crike. "Enough of that, thought you could use a little help," he grins at her, standing on top of the Deinonychus, crushing him and pushing him underwater.

Minstelae watches as the Deinonychus's hand-claws reach out of the water, desperately grasping at Crike. She does not know whether Crike will allow the raptor to live, but doesn't stop to find out. She goes behind the waterfall, into the cave, and finds Celeea. "You're okay now. You hurt?" she asks the chick.

Celeea looks up at her and whimpers in the darkness. "Little. Bit me," she says, quietly, still with a whimper in her voice. Minstelae sniffs at her, and licks her wounds. It does not seem that they are fatal or crippling wounds, just that perhaps Celeea would be in some pain until she healed completely.

"Can you get up and walk?" she asks the chick.

Celeea stands up, very shakily and leans against her mother. "Think... so,"" she says, still very shaken.

Minstelae waits until she is completely able to stand on her own, and nuzzles her. "Let's go back, to the den," she tells the chick, and heads in that direction, Celeea following her.

The others join them soon after.



16. Kal'ai


When they get back, Celeea goes into the den and lies down, whimpering softly, still obviously upset about all that had just happened. Minstelae follows, and joins her. There is more light in the den than there was back behind the waterfall, and Minstelae can see the chick's wounds now. Evidently she was right; she had been bitten, on the back, there were wounds that gave the telltale sign of a bite. There was also blood, Celeea was still bleeding a little bit, but the bleeding appeared to be slowing down, and the wounds didn't by any means look like fatal ones. After all, she had still been able to walk back to the den.

Minstelae lies down next to her and sighs softly, still concerned for the chick, and wondering what exactly was up with that male Deinonychus they had encountered. "You okay?" she asks Celeea again.

Celeea lets her whimpers quiet a bit. "Yeah..." she says, trailing off as if she was going to say something but wasn't sure exactly what it was she was going to say.

Minstelae sighs, nuzzles her, and says nothing for a moment, but then speaks. "You didn't get along, I take it?" she asks, because she isn't sure exactly how to word her question right.

"N-no..." Celeea says, then continues. "He was... mean to me," she says, sadness in her voice.

"But... why?" Minstelae tilts her head to one side. It didn't seem right to her at all, that a family member should treat Celeea in such a way.

"Don't know," Celeea says, looking at the ground before her. "Just... always... was... to me, not to others," she said, whimpering slightly again.

Minstelae nods. If anything, this was becoming harder and harder to understand. Why would he be mean to her and not the other pack members? she questions in her mind. That made absolutely no sense to her. Unless there was some odd sort of connection Celeea had with someone the Deinonychus male hated. Still, that's wrong, to mistreat her like that, she thinks. Wrong for someone to treat her in such a way, when she probably had absolutely nothing to do with it. "What is his name?" Minstelae asks the chick.

"Name? Kal'ai," she says, shivering a little.

Minstelae nuzzles the chick again. "Well, you don't have to worry about him now," she tells Celeea. "I highly doubt that he will show his face around here anymore," she says hopefully.

"I-I... hope not," Celeea tells her.

Minstelae lies her head on the ground. Another thing that bothered her was that he knew the Utahraptor language so well. Why was this? How had he been involved with Utahraptors enough to know how to speak the language so well? Not to mention, Celeea had probably picked up what little Utah she knew from him. This was, for sure, getting more and more confusing.

Minstelae looks to the chick as she begins to whimper again, this time, kind of uncontrollably, her whole body shaking. "Hey, you're okay now," Minstelae says, adjusting her body so that she can lie her head down next to Celeea. Celeea continues whimpering, but rests her head on Minstelae's neck until her sobbing subsides.

Minstelae wondered whether Kal'ai was still alive and if so, if he ever would show his face there ever again. It was all she could hope for the chick that he wouldn't. Yet she was curious as to all that had gone on. Perhaps she could get the whole story later on, when Celeea grew up a bit, or perhaps even when she learned to speak the Utahraptor language better. Minstelae just hoped that Kal'ai would never return.

She looks back to Celeea. "Why... did he bite you?" she asks, as the thought occurred to her. She at least wanted to know that much, if she could.

"Why? Dunno... I... left him," she says, looking up at Minstelae.

"He bit you because you left him?" Minstelae asks, surprised.

Celeea just nods but doesn't say anything.

"Well, Celeea, you certainly don't have to worry about being bitten here," Minstelae tells her.

"No... claws... either?" Celeea asks.

Minstelae is totally surprised. This probably meant that... that Kal'ai had clawed her at some point in time, if not many. She was surprised the chick was still alive. She guessed that he never really hurt her enough to kill her but that, perhaps he did hurt her, and Celeea should not be hurt by her own packmates, let alone her family.

Minstelae nuzzles Celeea. "No, no claws either," she says, her voice cracking a little bit.



17. Return


The next day comes, and Minstelae wakes up early, for no reason at all, other than the few 'dactyls up high in the trees who were squawking way too loudly for this early in the morning. Stupid 'dactyls, she is thinking crankily. Ah, well. She might as well get up anyway, since they weren't showing any signs of shutting up soon. She yawns, gets up and stretches all over, starting at her neck and moving all the way down to her tail. The others are all asleep, so she figures she will just go walking around before the others wake up. She grunts softly and walks off, going in no direction in particular, that is, until she smells the familiar scent of Lakura nearby. She figures she might as well follow that scent, as she needs to talk to her, anyway.

Min hears some chirping and high-pitched noises behind her. Troodons, she thinks, but then realizes that the scent of Celeea's in there with them. She looks back, and can see that the chick has initiated a game of chase between herself and a small group of the smaller dromaeosaur relatives. She chuckles to herself and continues following Lakura's scent, knowing that Celeea probably won't go far from her. Still, she keeps an eye on her just in case. She wonders to herself how Celeea will react to Lakura, when she shows up. Only one way to know, she thinks to herself.

It isn't long before Minstelae finds Lakura, she is by a river, drinking. She can still sense Celeea behind her, although the Troodons are now gone. Celeea is hiding now, evidently worried about this new Deiny stranger. "Don't worry about it," she tells Celeea, talking in the direction she is hiding in. "No one's gonna hurt you." Celeea eeps softly but still remains in hiding, as Lakura begins to approach Minstelae.

"Hey..." says Lakura, not really saying anything else, but having sort of an expectant look cross her eyes.

"Uhm... hello," Minstelae says. "About that proposition you mentioned the other day... we uhm... agree to it," she says, as a look of smug happiness comes over Lakura.

"Heh... good, then, so it is settled?" Lakura asks, then sniffs the air, evidently having caught Celeea's scent.

Minstelae nods, but doesn't say anything.

"So... who do you have with you?" Lakura asks, her head tilted to one side, and with a slight air of suspiciousness to her tone of voice. "And why... does she smell of... Kal'ai?" she asks, this time really beginning to get suspicious, for some reason unknown to Minstelae. Perhaps she had had bad experiences with him, as well.

Minstelae sighs. "I'm not even sure, myself. He is her brother. You've had dealings with him?" she asks Lakura, hoping to get at least some information about all of this.

"Whose brother? The female hiding in the bushes?" Lakura asks her.

Min nods. "Yes, Kal'ai is her brother, she ran away from him because he mistreated her, and she found me and wanted to be with me, and he came back for her later," she explains. "When I found her again, he had bitten her, but we got him, so hopefully, we won't have to worry about him anymore," she says.

Lakura doesn't say anything, but growls at the mention of Kal'ai being in the area, but then quiets soon, trying to act just a bit more rational at the moment.

Minstelae wants to growl, too, but she knows that perhaps it is best she shouldn't at this point in time, since she might scare Celeea, who was probably already scared by Lakura's growling. "She is only a chick, you know," Minstelae says, just to let Lakura know.

"Oh... she is? Sorry about the growling, then," she says, realizing that perhaps she shouldn't be growling around scared chicks of ally Utahraptor packs who were hiding from her.

Min nods. "It's okay, don't worry about it... but... a little more information on this Kal'ai thing would be quite helpful. Why... did he... do that to her? Bite her and all?" she asks quietly, so that perhaps Celeea won't hear what she is saying, since Minstelae does not want to disturb her.

"You really wanna hear the long story?" Lakura asks, a pained expression on her face?"

"Of course I do. She has accepted me as her mother now, and I feel the need to know these things," she tells Lakura.

Lakura thinks this bit of information is strange. A Utahraptor being a mother to a Deinonychus? Interesting... but then, she supposed there was nothing wrong with it. She shakes the thought out of her mind, and begins to tell the story...

It had happened a few years ago, before Celeea's egg had even been laid. Supposedly, Kal'ai had been born into a large pack of Deinonychus, with a few other brothers and sisters from the same brood. He grew to be about a year or two, and then Kalai's parents had another brood of younger chicks, probably the one that Celeea was from. Some kind of disaster had happened, which killed most of the pack, a flood, followed by fires caused by lightning strikes. Lakura could remember that storm, as it had affected her at some point in time, as well. At any rate, over half the pack had been killed, including the Alphas, who had been Kal'ai's parents. Most of the pack members with any pack status whatsoever had also been killed, and Kal'ai became the new Alpha male, there being no female there to take over the status or at least, none that were allowed to by Kal'ai. It was at that point that Lakura had noticed some changes in Kal'ai. The few times she saw him, and on the even fewer occasions she saw his pack, it always seemed that the pack would grow smaller and smaller, and the members looked unhealthier. She knew something was wrong, but she wasn't sure what. She had noticed a lot of cuts and bruises on certain pack members, too, indicating that some kind of fighting or abuse was taking place, so she had terminated all relations that she had with that pack. After that, she hadn't heard of them ever again, that is, up until she was attacked some time ago, when she had been traveling alone. It had been Kal'ai who had attacked her, probably because she had pushed Kal'ai and his pack away, and he had probably thought of them as traitors and enemies now, although they were not. Lakura just didn't want to have any associations with that pack. She didn't know what all had happened, but she knew something was wrong, and hadn't wanted to have any part in it, whatsoever. Lakura also remembered him saying something about her costing him his pack, when in fact, it had not been Lakura's fault. He had just needed someone else to blame, and she had been right there.

Fortunately, Shanlee had been following Lakura at the time, and somehow found her as she had been attacked, and the two of them had been able to injure Kal'ai and chase him off. After that point, she hadn't seen him or his pack, or relatives, ever since.

"So... that's what I know," Lakura says, beginning to wonder about the chick. "She ever gonna come out? I'm not going to hurt her," she asks Min, curiously, and wanting to meet this chick.

"Don't know, perhaps we can coax her out," she says. "She had reason to be scared of others, though, trust me," Minstelae tells Lakura. Min then turns in Celeea's direction. "I promise you no one's going to hurt you. Lakura here is a friend and a pack ally, come out, please?" Min asks.

There is another soft eep coming from the bushes, but Celeea doesn't come out. Lakura turns in that direction, but doesn't approach the chick. ~Hey... promise not to hurt you,~ she tells the chick in her language, then takes a few steps back, her head ducked, claws underneath her body, in a careful non-threatening pose. She then lies on the ground, her head down, to make herself appear even less frightening.

Min sighs. "Celeea..." but then, before she can say anything more, the chick pops her head out from her hiding spot, then takes a few steps forward. She then sprints over to her mother and lies on the other side of her, the side that Lakura is not on. She hides behind Min and peeks around her legs to look curiously at Lakura.

"She's not hurt, is she?" Lakura asks, noticing the bite wound on the chick's neck.

"Nah... from yesterday? No, she's okay, fortunately," Min responds. Lakura had seemed so self-assured, so cocky the other day, yet at the moment, she really didn't seem so bad, and Min found it surprising, but she chooses not to comment on it. Perhaps these Deinonychus weren't so bad, after all.

Lakura is still wondering if perhaps the chick would like to be with others of her own kind. She looks at Celeea, who has fortunately stepped out from behind Minstelae, cautiously. But still, at least, she had some courage, and Lakura could get a good look at her now. She then looks at Min. "You think she'd be interested in joining our pack, being with her own kind?" she asks the chick's mother.

~N-no. I'm hers,~ Celeea says softly, looking up at Min. "Min... mother," she says, reverting back to Utah language.

Minstelae chuckles. "We tried this already, trust me. She has taken quite the liking to me, although I'm not sure why," Min tells Lakura.

Lakura grins a little bit. "Dunno... good judgment, maybe?" she asks jokingly.

"Guess so..." Min says, getting up to go back and see if the rest of the pack is awake. She bobs her head at Lakura and indicates that she is leaving now. "Later," she says simply, then walks off, Celeea following her.

Lakura says her goodbye, then turns off to walk back towards her pack.



18. Preparation


Several months later......

Minstelae wakes up, and it is a little bit overcast. Not much has happened over the past few months, except that Minstelae's new pack (Silent Claw, as they had come to call themselves), had about five new members who had shown up, a family group, fairly recently, and joined. Two of them were chicks, and provided Celeea with playmates. The other three consisted of the chicks' parents, S'rena and J'rakae, and J'rakae's brother, Skraa. Celeea had also learned how to speak the Utah language fairly well, although she still had a bit of Deiny accent, and Min, in turn, had learned to speak some of the Deiny language. And, last of all, Minstelae and Crike were now consorted, as were Jabari and Amber.

Min knew what they would have to do in a few days, and she wasn't looking forward to it. She wanted to avenge the deaths of her parents, but she was afraid. She knew that the Daya were going to try to get at her first, to kill her first, and that they just might succeed. She wasn't going to be up to that, anytime soon. But, she knew that for the safety of her own pack, and Lakura's, that it had to be done. And she knew of the deep-rooted anger that resided within her, that she had pushed away all this time.

A rustling is heard in the underbrush around the pack's den (they had relocated to a nearby cave that Min had found, as the pack had expanded), and Min can tell that it's one of Lakura's packmates, probably back with news on the Daya.

~Min, I'm back,~ the male Deinonychus tells her. ~They seem to have a few more members than you said they had before, but some of the ones you mentioned, I did not see, perhaps they aren't around anymore. So, the pack is slightly bigger, but about the same size,~ he says.

~And does it look like a possibility?~ Min asks him.

The male nods. ~Yes, it does, but only if this is well-planned. Otherwise, it is not so certain.~

Min nods. ~Thanks. If I need you guys, I'll find you. And of course, if you need me, you know where I'll be. If we don't see each other before then, you know when and where we will meet again, in three days.~ She gives him a short head-bob of thanks, and he leaves, heading back to the Shrenaea territory.

Minstelae figured that she would have to get the pack together, to go over the details of what was going to happen. They knew that they were going to attack the Daya, and everyone had agreed to it, for the most part, but she still had to appoint a few tasks.

A few of the pack are gone, Amber and Jabari have run off somewhere, they were probably exploring or just passing the time. They had hunted earlier in the day as well, and perhaps they were over by the kill site, which, fortunately, wasn't too far away. Minstelae lets out a deep call, to let everyone know she needed to speak with them. She then walks over to Crike, and gives him a slight nuzzle.

"They should be here soon," she tells him, and he gives her a slight nod. "I just hope we know what we're getting into," she tells him honestly, while watching Celeea playing with S'rena's chicks near the entrance to the den.

"Yeah, me too. But you're doing the right thing. You deserve to see them fall," he says. "And if I have to die defending you and your cause, I will," he tells her simply.

"And that's what I'm worried about. I would hate to lose any packmate, let alone you, Amber or Celeea. I don't want to lose anyone, and I'm so worried that might happen," she sighs.

"Well, you already know that Amber will be watching the chicks, so you don't have to worry about Celeea or Amber. As for me, well, I'll do my best to stay alive," he tells her, giving her a long, affectionate nuzzle, and grooming her feather-crest softly.

"You'd better. I shall do the same," she says, smiling a little bit, even though the last thing she wants to do at the moment, is to smile.

She then notices that Amber and Jabari are back from wherever they had gone, and she decides to start the meeting. The rest of the pack sees that they're back, and walk over to Minstelae, knowing that they were needed in this discussion, as well.



19. The Time is Coming


Minstelae clears her throat and addresses the pack. "As much as I hate to say this, we have three days until the attack," she tells them. A few of them nod, but most have worried expressions cross their faces. "I know, I know. I'm just as nervous and afraid as you guys are, but the Daya are a danger, if left alone, they will become more powerful, and they will come and hunt us down and well, you know the rest. You know what I have told you about them," she tells them. "But I have faith in all of you, as a pack. I have seen how you work, and I know that not a single one of you will let me down," she says. "But, at least we have the Shrenaea Clan on our side, that is better than nothing." She then nods to them. "Thank you all for listening. That will be all," she says, and the pack goes back to doing whatever they were doing before Minstelae addressed them.

Celeea walks up to Minstelae. "Everything gonna be okay?" she asks Minstelae, with a little tremor in her voice. Poor chick must be scared out of her wits, even if she doesn't have to fight, and will be safe, Minstelae thinks.

Min nods. "Yes, everything will be fine, you'll see," she tells Celeea with a little smile and muzzle-rub.

"Okay..." she pauses. "You sure?" Celeea asks.

"Yeah, I'm sure," Min lies. She knows that they are strong and powerful as a pack, but she is still worried that something bad might happen.

"I just don't want to lose you, Mother, and I don't want to lose Dad, either," Celeea tells Min, who smiles down at her sympathetically.

"Don't worry, you won't. I'll see to it that I make it. And I'm sure Crike will do the same. Now, that's enough worrying. As hard as it is not to worry, it will only make things worse," Min tells Celeea. She does suspect, though, that Celeea won't be able to not worry, as she knows very good and well that she can't not worry, either.

Celeea doesn't say anything, but looks down, whimpers slightly, and nods.

"Don't worry, little one, you'll be okay. We all will," Min tells her. She is just trying to act calm. She realizes that if she isn't strong, the rest of the pack will pick up on it and be even more scared and worried than they already are. She is really just as worried as anybody else, but she tries to hold it in, although she isn't sure just how long she will be able to.

Minstelae waits until Celeea is playing with Crike to leave. She walks off into the sunset and sighs to herself. She just wants some time alone, and she sits atop her favorite hill and watches the sun set. She cries to herself softly, hoping to relieve herself of some of the pent-up stress and worry that was inside of her. She goes back to the den after sunset, and goes to sleep, with the others, curling up next to Celeea and Crike.



20. The Time is Here


The three days, finally pass, and Minstelae wakes up to the rest of the pack moving around, and to Deiny scent. Evidently she had overslept, and throughout all of the commotion, no one had bothered to wake her. She stretches, still trying to act like she's not in the least bit stressed out, when really, inside, she is a nervous wreck.

She does not look forward to attacking the pack who betrayed her, who hurt her, because she is well aware of their power. She wants badly to get revenge on them, to kill them, to make them suffer for what they did to her parents. But she is also afraid that they will be too powerful.

Hey... they don't have the Deiny pack, she tells herself in her mind. Besides, don't you want to get revenge for what they did to you? Minstelae decides to focus on this angry energy. On the fact that she had trusted them. That they had killed her second set of parents. That they had killed her future brothers and sisters. That they had hurt her. That they had made her Omega. She remembers back to those days, when all those things happened, and the anger fills her whole being, and she just wants to kill. She flexes her claws and snaps her jaws at the memories. She growls and hisses and snarls.

But she realizes that she should probably cool it down just a little bit when some of the others, including the chicks, glance at her and back away. Min's pack had never seen her this angry before, and it scared them, even if Minstelae herself would never dream of hurting them.

It had been agreed that they would all go up there and start the attack in mid-afternoon, and now it was just morning. Minstelae goes to their most recent kill site, and eats some Astrodon there that they had killed a few days ago. She wants to be filled and ready to go. She needs all the energy and reserve that she can get. She stays there for about a half-hour. At first, other packmates had gotten her same idea, to go out there and eat. But after a while, they stop their coming and going, and Minstelae can now hear loud screeches and screams back where the den is.

What is going on? Something bad was happening over there, so she hightails it, and runs back as fast as she can. She comes to see a gory sight, the Daya are attacking them. Minstelae eyes their leader, Shrenula, viciously.

Shrenula walks up to Minstelae in a jaunty manner, self-assured and cocky. "So... we meet again, Omega?" she hisses at Min.

Minstelae growls. "For your information, I am now Alpha."

"Of this sorry little pack?" Shrenula snorts.

"My pack isn't sorry," Min growls.

"Oh? They're not? Then how come you have a traitor?" Shrenula smirks at Minstelae.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Minstelae retorts. "Every packmate I've got is trustworthy and wouldn't dream of being a traitor," she says angrily. Perhaps she is just playing mind games, Minstelae thinks to herself. She remembers that Shrenula was a tricky one, and that she should never be trusted.

Minstelae snorts. "So are you here just to talk and throw insults, or what?" she glares at Shrenula.

"No, stupid, I'm here mainly to do this!" Shrenula laughs wickedly, then jumps at Min and slashes her chest, causing her to bleed. Minstelae jumps back and hisses, but Shrenula ignores her threats. "It is finally time for you to die. You were a traitor from Day Number One. And your little plan to attack us proves it. And for that, you and your whole pack must die!" Shrenula hisses, flexing her claws in wide arcs.

Minstelae shrieks loudly and attacks Shrenula, knocking her to the ground. Evidently Shrenula hadn't expected that. Still, she fights back, but soon, the rest of the Daya Clan is on Min as well, attacking with all of their ferocity. "Kill Min first, the rest of the pack will be easy... save the chicks for last," Min can hear Shrenula instructing the rest of the pack.

The rest of Min's pack doesn't have to wait for instructions. They attack the Daya as soon as they jump at Minstelae, all except Amber. And before too long, the two packs are fighting evenly with one another.

Amber wastes no time. The chicks are still in the area, and she must take them to safety, before the Daya Clan realizes that she is leaving with them. One of the Deinonychus approaches her. ~Take the chicks to our den, they will be safe there,~ he tells her. ~Let's go now... I will take them, and you can come with me to make sure that they are safe,~ he tells her, and he walks off.

Amber didn't fully understand the Deinonychus language, but she knew a little. She had heard him say something about den and chicks and safe, and then he had walked off. So she got the general idea of what he had said to her. Amber gathers the chicks, who all seem terrified, and Celeea helps her with the younger chicks, and they escape, careful to watch for any rogue Daya Clan members who might try to prevent them from escaping with the chicks. Fortunately, for the moment, they are all too into the fight to realize that Amber is leaving with the chicks, but she must do something first. She runs into the den, picks something up in her forepaws, and then she escapes unhindered with the male Deinonychus.

Meanwhile, Minstelae is so caught up in defending herself and her pack, that she doesn't realize Amber is leaving with the chicks. So she worries about them as she fights. If they are okay... she hopes that Amber has had the sense to escape with them. But for the moment, she really shouldn't let her mind wander. Letting her mind wander would kill her in a matter of seconds. At least she isn't being attacked by the whole pack anymore, since the rest of the pack is defending her.

The Deinonychus are fighting as well, and Min is impressed every time one saves her from being ripped open. She hadn't realized that Deinonychus were such quick thinkers or at least, had never thought of it.

Minstelae herself is being attacked by two of the Daya Clan, and fortunately for the moment, Shrenaea has been distracted by two of the Silent Claw, and the Deinonychus who are throwing things at her. Before Min realizes it, a raptor jumps onto her and lifts his foot, about to attempt to gut her. But Minstelae shrieks in anger and grabs his ankles with her hand-claws, careful to dig them into the ankles as deep as she can. The Daya raptor screams in pain and hisses at Minstelae for a moment.

That moment is enough. Minstelae reaches up with her right hindclaw and rips his belly open. The raptor attempts to do the same to her, but he is already about to die, and each second of movement slows him down. Minstelae knocks his foot away from her belly with a forepaw and rolls over quickly, getting back onto her feet.

She is attacked by another Daya member, a young female. Probably like I was... alone and brainwashed, she thinks. The raptor is a young female, not still a chick, but about a year or so in age. She hesitates to attack this raptor, but she dodges any attacks from this raptor. Fortunately this raptor isn't very experienced in the art of attacking and killing yet, and Minstelae takes that to her advantage. She dodges the chick's every attack until she makes her way over to two other Daya members, who are attacking Crike and S'rena.

The fight goes on for several hours, and Minstelae is getting tired. Fortunately the Silent Claw are taking quite a toll against the Daya, and many of the Daya have fallen to their deaths. It isn't until late afternoon that the fight ceases, and everything is silent once again.



21. Shrenula


Minstelae rolls back onto her belly once more, which hurts, due to some scratches she received there. She gets back up on her feet after killing the last Daya member who had attacked her, and she surveys her surroundings.

It's a horrible sight. Many of the Daya are dead, and the two or three that lived ran off with terrible wounds. But many of Minstelae's pack are dead, as well, and worst off, she can't find Amber or Crike. She finds S'rena, who is lying in a bloody heap on the ground, barely breathing. She tries to decide what to do about this. Perhaps S'rena just needed a lot of rest, food and time to heal. Perhaps she would be okay, if Minstelae got her back to the den safely.

Before she can figure out what to do, Minstelae is interrupted by a growling-hiss. A form makes itself known, emerging from behind some bushes. It's Shrenula. "So I bet you think you won, that the fight is over, and everything's okay, now, huh? I must say that your pack and your pathetic excuses for allies did fight well, though," she hisses at Minstelae cockily.

Minstelae hisses back. "And now that you seem to be the only one left, you will die, too," Minstelae tells her in a low growl.

"We'll just see how this little spat turns out, okay?" Shrenula says smugly.

Minstelae watches Shrenula's every move. She is not attacking yet, but is circling Minstelae, eyeing her. Minstelae also circles, and watches Shrenula's claws, feet and ankles as well, wanting to be able to judge her every movement accurately.

"I know how it will turn out. You will die whether or not I have to die in the process of getting you there," Min hisses. "I will make you pay for what you did to my parents, my family, my dignity. I will make you pay for this!" she says, and raises herself a little bit so that she can show Shrenula the long scar on her belly from when she was attacked as a young raptor, before she escaped the Daya Clan.

"Oh, yes, that," Shrenula laughs cockily. "I remember doing that to you. It's a nice scar, if I must say so myself."

That is it. Minstelae can no longer control her anger. She thought she was out of energy, but she can feel her anger reviving her, giving her more and more energy, more will to fight, more will to kill. She hisses and slashes at Shrenula with her foreclaws. Shrenula dodges.

"You... will... DIE!!!" Minstelae screams, hissing and attacking Shrenula. Shrenula jumps back several steps, dodging Min's attack, and she responds with an attack of her own, knocking Minstelae to the ground.

Minstelae rolls over and tries to get back up, but Shrenula jumps onto her back, pinning her to the ground. For the moment, Minstelae feels helpless, that she can't do anything. This is a bad position to be if you are fighting to the death. She can't quite reach up with her foreclaws. But she struggles to fight, struggles to move, and finally, just from moving herself around on the ground, she manages to knock Shrenula off of her. She then gets up, as does Shrenula.

Shrenula slashes at Min again, who manages to dodge. "You like doing that, I see," she tells Shrenula.

"Anything to kill you, Omega," she hisses at Minstelae. Minstelae hisses, but realizes that this is just an attempt of Shrenula's to get her off guard and make a predictable move. She doesn't attack, but growl-hisses menacingly at Shrenula. She feels a presence in front of her, and through her peripheral vision, she sees a Deinonychus, one who has managed to make it through the fight, one who hadn't left yet. She doesn't give any indication whatsoever that there is a Deinonychus behind Shrenula. Minstelae makes mock-attacks, and the Deinonychus climbs a tree, just over where the two Utahraptors are fighting.

Minstelae catches Shrenula off guard, and knocks her to the ground. The Deinonychus, a young male, falls from the tree and lands on Shrenula, distracting her into clawing at his face in an attempt to get him off of her. Minstelae then approaches quickly, and slashes at Shrenula's belly with her killing-claws, making careful, precise movements. Shrenula shrieks in rage and tries to roll over, but Minstelae can see that she is bleeding horribly, and her movements have been slowed down slightly.

The Deinonychus continues distracting Shrenula as Minstelae slashes at her. The two raptors currently are too much for Shrenula to handle, and are seriously hurting her. The Deinonychus waits until Shrenula is close to death and unable to move before he stops attacking.

He then jumps off of her and nods to Minstelae. ~With all due respect, she's yours to kill. You are entitled to this kill, and not I,~ he tells Minstelae, bobbing his head in respect towards her.

Minstelae smiles at him, glad to know that at the moment, Shrenula is going nowhere, and is unable to move. She then makes her move, and walks up to Shrenula.

"This is for killing my parents," Minstelae says as she slashes at Shrenula's face with her deadly hand-claws.

Shrenula moans, but doesn't say anything. She glares at Minstelae hatefully.

"And this, Omega Pack Leader, is for crushing the eggs of my beloved siblings," Minstelae adds a little laugh in there, imitating Shrenula's cocky laughter that she had hurled at Min earlier.

Shrenula hisses, but her eyes close slowly and her breathing slows.

"And THIS!!! This is for hurting ME!!!" Minstelae screeches, and jumps onto Shrenula's now-quiet form, digging her claws into her with all of her might. She digs her hand-claws into her belly, and slashes madly with both of her killing claws, for a few minutes, before she finally relents.

Shrenula is now dead. And Minstelae can see the bodies of raptors nearby. She knows now that the Daya will never bother her again as a pack.



22. Results


Minstelae now has time to survey her surroundings, and it's not a pretty sight. She sees that a few of her pack have died, and several Deinonychuss have died, as well. And most of the Daya are now dead, as well. At least we got the Alphas, she thinks to herself. She was feeling quite good about the fact that she had gotten her revenge on Shrenula, and that whoever that particular Deinonychus was, he had been very nice to her. She stands up tall and utters a victory whoop, figuring there would be someone around who would respond to it. But the Deinonychuss have gone, and some of her packmates are gone, as well.

She notices that S'rena is now dead. It is obvious from her very limp and bloodied form that she did not make it. She worried for her chicks, and just hoped that her mate, J'rakae was alive, as well. She whimpers at the loss of her packmates.

But where were the others? She wasn't sure where Amber was, but on further examination of her den, she notices that the chicks are gone, as well. So she figures that Amber took the chicks somewhere, for safety. She hopes so, at least. She doesn't see Jabari or his parents around anywhere, so she hopes that they have left, and are safe somewhere.

She walks around, and sniffs, although it is hard to differentiate one raptor's scent from another, unless she gets close to one, because of all of the dead and dying raptors lying nearby. But she is looking for J'rakae. She wants to make sure that he is alive, at least. She walks around for a bit, and finally detects his scent. She follows it, and is led to a broken form lying over some bracken.

"J'rakae? You there?" she asks, very worried.

She gets no answer. She decides to try it again. "J'rakae? Please answer me!"

A barely-audible moan is heard, and she quickly approaches J'rakae. "I will not be around much longer, is S'rena okay?" he asks her.

Min whimpers sadly and shakes her head. "No... she died," she tells him, trying not to break down.

"I... don't... have much longer to live either," he says, struggling to stay conscious. "Please... find someone you can trust... to... " he trails off, blacking out.

Minstelae whacks him hard with her snout, and he comes to.

"Find someone I can trust to do what?" she asks.

"To... take care of... my young ones... Ak'rita and Chraak. I trust you, Minstelae," he says, then blacks out again.

Minstelae nudges him again, several times, then whacks him again. "Wake up!" She tells him.

He does wake up. "Min... you were a good Alpha... not many are privileged to be a part of such a great pack as the... the... Silent Claw Clan." He blacks out again.

Minstelae nudges him again. She looks at his belly, which is not rising and falling in slow, labored breaths anymore. She whacks him again, hoping he will come to. He doesn't.

"No! You will live, hear me?" She says loudly. He remains limp, and he does so for twenty minutes.

Minstelae whimpers to herself, knowing the truth. She would have to take care of his chicks, or at least, see to it that somebody did, and that they stayed safe. But it made her sad to see her packmates die.

Minstelae sighs softly, and walks off slowly. Where's Crike? she asks herself in her mind. Must... find... Crike. She goes back to the den, back to the initial battleground. She cannot find him anywhere. She begins to hope that he was all right, that he had run off and joined Amber at the Deinonychuss' den. Yes. That had to be it. I'm sure he's fine, like Celeea is, she thinks to herself, trying to reassure her own mind. Still, she decides to search a little bit more. Still, no Crike.

Minstelae gives up after a while and figures he had left with Jabari, Filia, Khalil and the Deinonychuss. She decides to go back, to tell the others that everything was okay, now, that it was okay for the chicks to come home now.

She begins to head towards Shrenaea territory. But she doesn't walk too long before she sees a crumpled, unmoving form lying hidden near a rock under a tree-fern. She sniffs the air. The wind is blowing in the wrong direction, so it's hard to detect a scent. Still, it is barely there. If it weren't for the scent, she would have thought it was just a rock, and that her eyes were playing tricks on her. She sniffs again, and the wind slows down. She can smell it more distinctly, now. It's Crike.

She screams in panic, in worry that the worst may be true. She runs up to Crike's unmoving form and nuzzles his snout softly. His eyes do not open. His is breathing very shallowly, but it is hard as anything to tell if he is breathing at all.

"Crike. You will be okay. Listen to me," she tells him.

He does not open his eyes, but he responds. "Min... love... you," he mumbles almost incoherently. It takes Min a few seconds to realize what he was saying to her.

She reaches down and nuzzles his neck and snout lovingly. "I love you too, Crike," she says, with a slight tremor in her voice. She nuzzles him again, and lies there with him for a few minutes. He doesn't make any movements, and he is no longer breathing.

But Minstelae cannot accept the fact that he is dead. She continues to nudge and nuzzle him softly, and she even tries whacking him hard with her snout, as she had done with J'rakae. He still doesn't move. Minstelae falls onto the ground, her head and neck lying on Crike's.

"You can't die on me, Crike, you just can't!" she screams. She then begins to tremble and shake, loud whimpers emerge from deep down in her throat. She thought she would always have her mate, her Crike. She had loved him, and could never have asked for a better mate. And now that he was gone, things would never be the same ever again. 'Why can't I just live a happy life with a pack, a mate, and love?' she thinks to herself, still crying.

Min doesn't know how much time has passed, but she cries for a long time. She continues whimpering and trembling for a while, and then is gently touched on the shoulder by someone. She is so lost in her crying that she doesn't feel it until she is gently nudged again. It's Amber.

Amber lies down beside Min and nuzzles her. "I'm so sorry," she says softly, but does not say anything else for a while.

A slight rustling sound is heard in the foliage nearby, and Celeea emerges. She sees what has happened and collapses next to Min. "NO!!! Daddy!!!" she exclaims, then breaks down crying, herself. The three lie there next to Crike for an hour or two, before Amber finally nudges Minstelae.

"Lakura says we can stay with them until we find somewhere better to live," she says, then helps Minstelae and Celeea up. "Let's go," she says quietly.

"Okay," Minstelae whimpers, and turns away. Amber gets up and walks off, followed by Celeea. But Minstelae pauses for just a little bit. She nudges Crike softly. "I will always love you, Crike," she mutters softly, then gets up herself, and follows the two to the Shrenaea territory, her head hanging.



23. Somewhere to Stay


Minstelae wakes up late the next afternoon. She hadn't realized how worn out she was. Her wounds had taken more of a toll on her than she had thought they had. She had lots of cuts and scratches, although none of them were lethal. She had a long cut beginning at the top of her head and running down the left side of her snout. But she would be okay, once she healed. At least she could feed herself and walk around.

Filia hadn't been so lucky. She was alive, and would be fine soon enough, but she could not walk, due to something that had happened to her ankle throughout the fight. Jabari and Khalil were fine, other than the same cuts and scratches that Minstelae had suffered. Jabari had a gash on his belly, but it was far from fatal. Probably just a painful annoyance until it healed.

All three of the chicks were there, Celeea, and the two chicks of S'rena and J'rakae. The two younger Utahraptor chicks looked up at everyone with shyness, and their expressions told Minstelae that even if they were still really young, that they knew what had happened to their parents. Minstelae walks up to them and nuzzles them gently. "Don't worry. You won't be alone, I will be with you," she tells them softly. They nudge her back, but don't say anything.

Minstelae lies down next to the chicks, and is glad to see that Lakura and her mate, Shanlee, are fine, and the Deinonychus pack, although they lost many, are still large and strong. She walks up to Lakura and bows in respect. "Lakura, I cannot thank you enough. I am indebted to you," she tells the alpha female Deinonychus.

"Hey... it's okay... we did what we could, and we got 'em," she says, with a hint of a smile.

"Yeah, we did... and we would not have been able to, if it had not been for you and your pack. And you will be happy to know that I killed Shrenula. And I noticed that Bikkerae died, as well."

"Yeah... I am glad to hear that. Were there any survivors? I saw two or three of them run off as we were leaving," Lakura tells Min.

"Yeah... that's what I saw, too. But I don't think they will ever be a threat to us again, and we have their territory to hunt on now. Perhaps I can run the last few off and claim their territory as my own," Minstelae smirks. "And of course, you will always be welcome to hunt there, as well," she tells Lakura.

"I figured that would be the case," Lakura smiles smugly. Her expression then becomes a lot more serious, and she looks up at Minstelae with honest eyes. "By the way, I'm terribly sorry about your mate," she says with a hint of sadness in her voice. "I know that must be hard."

Minstelae bows again. "Thank you. That really means a lot. And again, I am indebted to you and your pack for helping me out. Now... I think I'm going to see what's happening on the Daya's old territory," she smirks, then walks off, leaving Lakura with a smirk on her face, as well.

It is as she had suspected, except that nobody from the Daya were there. Not even the few who had escaped and were still living somewhere. All sign of them was gone. Perhaps they had gone to find new territory. Perhaps they had been smart enough to know that they would be run off of their territory.

Minstelae snorts to herself proudly and marks the spot as her own. She scratches deep gashes in the trees and rubs her neck up against them. The spot was hers now. And if the few remaining members of the Daya Clan didn't like that, well then, too bad. Minstelae heads back to Lakura's den, and tells the others that their new territory is safe. They all leave and go there the next day.



24. Forgiven


Minstelae wakes up a day later, in their new territory, and Amber, seeing that she is awake, approaches her, her head hung low. "Min, I need to talk to you, preferably alone," she says softly.

Minstelae nods and motions for Amber to follow her. The two walk out of earshot of the rest of the pack, and Amber speaks, or rather, attempts to.

"Min... I... have something to tell you," she says softly.

"What is it?" Minstelae asks quietly as well, her body posture expressing that she's concerned for her sister.

Amber is silent for a few minutes, and Minstelae nuzzles her. "No. Min, I don't deserve that," she says, then adds a slight whimper.

"Don't deserve what, Amber? I don't understand," Minstelae says.

"I don't deserve to be nuzzled. I don't deserve to be your sister, and I don't even deserve to be a part of your pack," she says lowly, obviously trying hard not to whimper.

"But why, Amber?" Minstelae asks simply.

"I... let you down. I wasn't there. If it had not been for me..." she trails off.

"What happened?"

"I... went off with the chicks and didn't return until... much later. And... I should have been back earlier. If it hadn't been for me, your mate might have lived," she says, sighing and lying down on the ground.

"Aww, c'mon, I don't blame you," Minstelae tells her. "You had to get the chicks to safety. That had already been agreed on."

"Yes... but I should have come back much sooner," Amber says. "The chicks didn't want me to leave, and even though I... felt it was my duty to leave and to fight with the rest of the pack, I didn't. I should have listened to my instincts. I should not have stayed," she says, her head lowered and not making eye contact with Min.

"I still don't blame you. Someone had to stay there with the chicks."

"But there was someone, a Deinonychus. She was watching both our chicks and their chicks with her mate, the raptor who took us here in the first place when we were attacked. So it is my fault. I should have returned. But by the time I could convince the chicks to let me, it was... too late. I'm so sorry, Minstelae, sister. I don't deserve to be here," she whimpers.

"For the last time, I don't blame you, Amber. Everything is okay, and you cannot take Crike's death on your back," Minstelae says softly.

"But... I could have... helped you fight... kept him from being killed," she looks up at Min, still being careful to avoid eye contact.

"Amber... you did the right thing. Our chicks probably needed someone they were familiar with, somebody to comfort them. If you hadn't been there, they would have been scared senseless. You could not be in two places at once," Minstelae says, nuzzling Amber.

"You sure?" Amber asks.

"Yes, sister," Min says. "Nothing that happened or didn't happen was your fault. And you are just as deserving of this pack as you are of being my sister. And in both cases, you are very deserving. I could never bear to lose you again," Minstelae says, honestly.

"You... couldn't?" Amber asks simply.

"Of course not. My mate and my sister? You have to be kidding. Now... all is fine, all is forgiven, and I don't feel that you did anything wrong," Min says. "Now... let's go back, shall we?" Min says, smiling slightly.

"Okay... since I obviously can't change your mind otherwise," Amber smiles at Min and gives her a slight play-nuzzle.

"Nope... you can't. But you know what I think you are deserving of?" Minstelae grins.

"What, Min?" Amber asks.

"This!" Minstelae laughs, and then play-pounces her sister affectionately.

"Oh, you!" Amber play-growls at Minstelae, and wrestles back, gently biting at Minstelae's snout and bopping her gently against the neck. The two Utahraptors play-wrestle with wild abandon for an hour or two before returning back to the rest of the pack.



25. Living Again

About a month later...

Everyone's wounds are healed now, and there has been no sign whatsoever of the remaining members of the Daya Clan. Minstelae decides that it is time to make another kill, and she leads the rest of the pack to their new hunting grounds, where prey is abundant. It is nice to be able to eat regularly again, to not have to worry about the next kills, or about anything else.

The Deinonychus clan often hunts when they do, and sometimes the two packs work together to cause confusion among the herds and to bring more prey down. It's a very effective technique, and no one has to worry about going hungry anymore, or about going long distances in order to kill prey and eat.

Everything goes well and the pack kills a small sauropod, which will be enough to feed the pack and the chicks for several days. Minstelae is still sad about losing her mate. Nothing, in her mind, will ever be able to replace him, but she at least has been able to move on, and to continue in her new life. She knows deep down that that is what Crike would have wanted, that he would have wanted her to carry on in life, and continue watching over her pack.

Celeea has also shown interest in learning to hunt, as well. She is still a bit too young to take on the larger prey that the Utahraptor pack takes on, but she does watch now, rather than staying in the den. And Minstelae has noticed that Celeea has asked her many times lately about hunting lessons. She smiles to herself. Little Celeea was all she could have asked for in a daughter, Deinonychus or not. She was a strong little chick, and was growing up fast. It would not be long before she would be a subadult. And Minstelae had to keep reassuring Celeea that she would teach her to hunt soon.

The pack eats at the kill site, but Minstelae leaves, and takes some of the meat back for the chicks, and Celeea stays and eats, still being young herself. She would help bring more meat back later.

Minstelae can't believe how Amber had thought she had been at fault a month or so ago. She and Jabari have taken on the duty of parenting Ak'rita and Chraak, And the two chicks who had been parented by S'rena and J'rakae were secure and happy. Minstelae takes comfort in knowing that J'rakae would have been pleased to have known that his two chicks were happy and were being parented by Amber and her mate, Jabari.

Minstelae enters the den and feeds the two young chicks, but then she notices something in the far left corner of the den, where she normally slept. She grins to herself happily and walks over there, after quickly feeding the two chicks. There are two eggs, hers, and one of them is cracking. It was time for the hatching, and Minstelae was more than happy. She had awaited this for quite some time now, and she thought that they would never hatch. These eggs, in fact, had been the objects that Amber had run into their old den and picked up during the war with the Daya Clan.

Minstelae watches the two eggs for ten minutes. The shells crack some more, little by little, as the chicks gradually hatch. It takes somewhere between a half-hour and an hour, but it seems like forever to Minstelae before they hatch. Finally, the time arrives, and the chicks are out. There is a male and a female. The male resembles Minstelae, being a light reddish brown, and having yellow eyes, but hasn't grown in a feather-crest yet, as that happens later on in a raptor chick's life. The female, looks almost exactly like Crike, except that she has the same facial structure that Minstelae does. Crike's snout had been slightly narrower than the norm.

Minstelae squeals softly in happiness, and Amber approaches her from behind. "Quick! Go get us some more meat! The chicks have hatched! Oh, and tell Celeea she has new siblings!" she exclaims happily, and Amber nuzzles Minstelae rather affectionately, then leaves.

Perhaps life was not so bad, after all -- for now.

Guess what?

THE END. (For now.)


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