I hated being chased. Especially by a hungry mob wanting me for their next meal.
It didn’t help that they had some sort of smoke belching truck that could travel faster than I could run.
The good part, if there was one, is that we weren’t on traveled roads, but running cross country.
When there was a ditch – I leaped it, a fallen tree – I scrambled under. Wolves ran best in cross-country.
That truck, and a lot of those people, had to go around.
The bad part was that they were all feral. Clothed in rags. Screaming their lungs out – until they ran out of breath.
But I was there for reconnaissance.
So at the next ditch, I stopped and changed human again. Then came up and blended in when the crowd was close.
Barefoot like them. And once I got a good glimpse of what they were wearing, my clothes looked like that, too. Hair quickly matted, and dirt patches everywhere. One of the feral, hungry crowd.
The truck signaled that they’d lost the tracks, to circle back.
So I went with them. And listened to their minds and conversations to pick up their dialect.
Sometimes the best kind of spies were chameleons.
I just had to hope all this was worth the info I was getting.
We’d been traveling days already, and more to come – according to what we’d seen so far.
The villages we’d visited were either empty or fortified against any human or wild animal – and afraid of either coming inside.
So they would hold their ammunition until they could get a good shot. Since no one made ammunition since the Rising.
Of course, that also meant that unless they were trained at hunting, their shots usually went wild. Usually.
And yes, we had healers among us, but that didn’t mean we could afford to take the time to get someone well that shouldn’t have been hit to begin with. So we never got hit.
Feral villages – the ones with no sentient humans or animals in them – we just gave a wide berth. If we couldn’t pick up anyone sending – telepathy was the old human word – then we went around and kept going.
What we were searching for was one of the connected human villages.
And we usually traveled as wolves.
– – – –
Every day, we’d make camp and our best hunters would go out for game. Non-ferals, of course. Not humans – just the smaller prey, like rabbits, quail. We tried to avoid the greasy ones like coons and possum. Too much cleanup.
We always prayed for their souls as we hunted. Our tradition since the Amerindians walked this land. Long, old traditions.
The elementals taught us these. And we passed them onto our children.
When the Rising happened, that news spread fast. But it was the elementals that arrived shortly after and taught us mind-speech and true civilization that made sense out of all that happened.
That was why we were searching.
Somewhere out here was a sentient village they called the Wolver’s Village.
And for the sake of our pack, we needed to join with them.
For feral hoomans were coming out of the West, and killing everything in their sight. Just like they did to the Amerindians, and their buffalo.
Everyone in their path was next.
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