The prone figure gasped for air wetly and slurred as if inebriated, "H-help… The c-c-cubs… Ommm … killed."
Immediately Inuyasha jumped to assist the fallen wolf. Glassy violet eyes looked up at him from a familiar face. It was one of the exiled cubs that he had left food for in the forest the night he ran from the caves.
“C-c-cubs..,” the younger youkai rasped.
“Oh man, we gotta get him to Choshi-baba fast!” Inuyasha hollered in alarm. He paused in gathering the cub up in preparation of moving him to the caves when he received no response. “Koga?” he turned to see what was distracting his mate. “Koga!”
Inuyasha settled the injured ookami back to the ground, before standing and grabbing his mate by the shoulders. Koga’s eyes were bleeding red and his claws glinted in the afternoon sun. He snarled and attempted to shake Inuyasha’s hands from him.
“Koga, calm down!” Inuyasha yelled, shaking the feral ookami.
“Someone killed my cubs!” Koga roared.
“Koga, stop! We don’t know that! We need to get this guy back to the cave so that the old woman can heal him up and we can figure out what happened! We have no idea who did this or where they are! Calm down!” Inuyasha argued, attempting to restrain the enraged youkai.
Koga merely tried to twist out of his embrace, trying to get out and exact vengeance on someone.
Inuyasha heaved a massive sigh and released the raging ookami. There was only one thing to do now. He cocked back and slugged the wolf as hard as he could. The ookami went down hard crumbled in a heap at the inu’s feet and moaned in pain. Clear blue eyes looked up at him from the heap, a hand rubbing gingerly at the now bruised jaw.
Inuyasha crossed his arms and raised a brow. “You done panicking now, wolf?”
Koga sighed and nodded that he was indeed done.
“You ready to help me get this guy back so we can figure out what happened and where our cubs are?”
Koga nodded again, his face softening at hearing “our cubs”. He realized then that no matter that he was the Alpha and these were his cubs, he had a partner who he could lean on and who wanted to find out what happened to the babes as badly as he did.
Inuyasha reached down and hauled the wolf to his feet. “Come on. We gotta hurry.”
Between the two, they braced the injured cub into an upright position with his arms around their shoulders and them holding on to his waist. As Koga and Inuyasha had been patrolling the border when the cub had caught up with them, they were as far from the cave as they could be without leaving the territory. By the time they reached the mouth of the cave, the cub was unconscious and was being carried on the Alpha’s back.
The wolves, upon seeing the unusual sight gathered to get a look at them, worried about one of their cubs being hurt.
“Ginta! Hakkaku! There’s been an attack! Go find the cubs! NOW!” Koga barked upon seeing his lieutenants.
Ginta and Hakkaku, seeing the fury and absolute authority in the Alpha’s face, didn’t hesitate and immediately took charge, gathering up their men and barking out orders to search.
Koga heaved a tired sigh, one hand rubbing at his bloodshot eyes. He hated days like today where everything that could go wrong, did. His shoulders slumped in dejection.
They had been hit in their most vulnerable area today; their cubs. Ginta and Hakkaku had come back after a three hour search of the territory with the body of the oldest son of the Omega family and a pack of traumatized, but otherwise uninjured, cubs. All had been recovered except the Princes and the Princess. Koga had been devastated.
He was so thankful that he had Inuyasha with him. The inu reminded him over and over, each time he felt himself start to crumble that there was nothing to point to the cubs being dead, just gone, and that meant that they could be found and brought back.
Koga snorted to himself. He was pathetic. He was supposed to be the mighty Alpha. He had to keep a cool head and rock hard resolve in order to lead his tribe, in order to make the important decisions. Yet there was his mate, pregnant and dealing with a bond that connected him to the cubs as completely as if he were their natural father, and he was the one with the cool head.
Inuyasha watched Koga from the entryway of their chambers. The wolf was under a lot of stress right now and the inu wished he could help alleviate some of it. He had followed the Alpha from Choshi-baba’s chambers, where the cub, who they had found out was named Tsunekuni, had just succumbed to his extensive head injury. Inuyasha had seen the fury and sorrow dance on the ookami’s face with the cub’s death. On the one hand, they had lost another cub, this one struck down in violence. On the other hand, it was becoming increasingly evident that Tsunekuni had likely been involved with the attack on the tribe’s cubs. No one knew what he was doing there in the first place. Now they would not have a chance to question him.
In the time since the attack it had been revealed that there were nearly a hundred wolves and most of their possessions were missing. The majority of them were members of the former Northern Valley tribe who came over with Ayame and her Chief Elder Michinaga.
Inuyasha had a growing feeling of dread within him. He thought he might have an idea of why this was happening. He did not want to acknowledge that this was yet another way he was causing problems for Koga and his tribe. If it was true, if Koga’s tribe had actually broken apart because of him, it would just be another boulder of guilt he would carry on his back.
That guilt, however, was a good distraction from the ever building pressure in his chest. Inuyasha had come to find Koga and told him the latest bit of news; the cubs were now beyond the limits of their bond. It was both good and bad news. The pressure would be hurting the cubs just as it hurt Inuyasha. They were getting farther and farther away from home. But then, of course, it also meant that they were alive, something Inuyasha only just realized he had known subconsciously from the beginning. He would have known the instant one of them had died through the bond. It was why he had been able to maintain calm through all of this, while not being able to explain why he was not as panicked as he normally would have been.
Koga sighed again. He was supposed to be gathering his weapons and some rations in preparation of heading out to begin searching for the lost cubs. His scouts had already come back with a trail. As he stood in his chambers, Ginta and Hakkaku were rounding up the warriors and other volunteers who would accompany them. Based on the number of missing wolves, they had guessed that there were at least fifty wolves of the rouge group that were capable of fighting.
They had better be prepared, Koga thought viciously, the kidnapping of any cub would be unforgivable, but the kidnapping of my cubs means a slow and bloody end for which ever idiot thought it would be a good idea.
Slowly he turned around to face his mate. Inuyasha didn’t hesitate to rush to him and embrace him, and Koga sagged in his arms.
“You sure about this, pup?” he questioned softly. Koga did not want his young mate to go in to battle with him. Inuyasha was pupped and he was desperately worried about him. He had told the inu as much and had nearly been walloped again for his troubles.
“Yes, Wolf,” Inuyasha huffed, “I’m going whether you like it or not so you better get used to it!”
Koga simply kissed him lightly on his forehead and ducked his head to his hair to breath in his scent.
“Then let us go and get our cubs back.”
Michinaga sat in his new chambers, at the window that looked over his new kingdom. They had settled in an old abandoned human temple, an early import from the mainland and a ready-made home for him and his small tribe to grow and flourish, to become an even greater tribe than the Northern Wolf tribe. Soon the demon world would look to the Island wolf tribe as the most powerful of the wolf clans, and perhaps in the future, they could even take over the rule of the Western Lands from those despicable dogs.
But that was in the future.
For now, Michinaga looked out at the crumbling settlement and planned his greatness.
For months, he had been secretly sending out scouts from the caves for a prime spot to settle all of the upstanding wolves who refused to bow to a half-breed and wanted to follow him in being part of a proper tribe again. Michinaga had been delighted when the searches had finally bore fruit and they reported of a northern island with fairly intact ruins of a temple complex. Half of their work would be done for them, with no need to build a home. It just needed a little fixing up, which they were going to need to rush.
They needed to be prepared for battle. The Elder knew that the Northern Wolf Chief and his hanyou whore were not going to let them go without a fight. Especially since they now had the princes and princess to ensure their legitimacy.
At the thought of them, Michinaga turned to smile toothily at the four cubs that whimpered in their small wooden enclosure in the corner of the room.
“Shhh, little ones. You are safe now. I will take care of you,” he crooned, “You are finally in your rightful place, here as the future leaders of this glorious new tribe. You will take over from your mother and, with my guidance, we will be Great!”
He walked over to the shaking cubs and reached through the wooden bars to run his fingers through Kozue’s soft auburn hair. So like her mother’s, the Elder thought.
“But you must be strong, little ones; you must be strong or be cut away. Weakness will not be tolerated and you will be cast off if you cannot handle greatness. You will be- YOW!” Michinaga, so caught up in his half-crazed rantings, yelped in surprise when pig-tailed cub had finally grown tired of being petted and bitten the elder.
“Why you little-,” Michinaga growled.
“Sir!” a guard appeared in the doorway, “Sir, there’s some confusion between the other Elders and they asked me to come request your presence.”
Michinaga straightened and smoothed his robes. He glared down his nose at the still shaking and whimpering cubs, before sweeping out of the rooms.
The cubs huddled tighter together as the pain of the stretched bond racked through them. They knew that they were far from their ‘Yassa and their Papa. It hurt to be so far from them, to be without their strong arms to run to and soothing scents. Squirt’s insides squirmed with an echo of anguish and he let out a high pitched and pain filled howl. His brothers and sister soon followed suit, releasing howls that called out to their protectors and conveyed all of their fear and ache, hoping their family would answer soon.
DAMN YOU WOLVES! Inuyasha thought in exasperation, have to fucking run everywhere!
Inuyasha huffed with breathlessness as he ran beside Koga. He wanted to yell it out loud and let these damn wolves know exactly what he thought of them, and would have if he had had the breath to do so. They were leading the force of nearly a hundred wolves who had volunteered to fight up to the northern coast where the trail indicated the rouge group had gone. Weighed down with his sword and pregnant, Inuyasha cursed these run-happy wolves with every obscenity he could remember ever hearing in his 200 plus years of life.
On the other hand, he could feel through the bond that they were nearing the cubs. They had not yet crossed the limit and therefore alleviated the pounding pressure in his chest, but the knowledge that they were getting closer helped to sooth his nerves- that, and all the swearing.
Just then, the wolves began to slow as their surroundings began to change. They had been running full speed under the cover and camouflage of the thick trees of the forest. Now the trees and underbrush began to thin as they approached the coast.
Inuyasha bent over and braced his hands on his knees as he fought to catch his breath while the wolves scouted the coastline.
“That must be it,” Hakkaku announced, pointing into the distant horizon. The island was clearly visible only just off the coast. “Should be able to cross easily when the tide goes down, eh Chief?”
Koga’s eyes were narrowed and determined as he stared at the land. From his position, he could make out the half crumbled stone and steeply curved eaves of the ancient Chinese temple buildings outlined in the waning sunlight. He gave a curt nod at his lieutenant’s words and settled to wait on a washed up log. He beckoned Inuyasha to sit next to him and the hanyou plopped down beside him.
“You damn (huff) wolves (huff) and your (huff) fucking running!” Inuyasha ranted breathlessly.
Hakkaku smothered an amused smile, while Ginta lost his battle with his mirth and chuckled. Soon the other wolves joined him until they were all shaking with laughter. It hadn’t been that funny but it neatly broke the rising tension in the group of warriors as they sat to wait for the tide to go out.
A few hours later, they were rested, fed, and watered. The wolves picked themselves up and prepared to take to the shallows under the cover of darkness. They slowly waded into the water that, at its deepest, only came to their shins. There were so many of them that they had to move slowly in order to minimize splashing and therefore alerting their enemies of their approach.
Luck, or rather the rogue wolves’ lack of planning, was on their side. The old temple was poorly positioned as a defensive post and unfortified. The buildings were spread apart and there were clearly not enough wolves to spare to stand sentry. Reaching the inner gardens was easy.
Koga’s sharp eyes noted the positions of all of the few guards that were patrolling the grounds and motioned for some of his men to station themselves in strategic spots for when battle began. Others would infiltrate the homes of the Elders. He and Inuyasha wanted to get in, grab the cubs, kill the fucker that thought he could kidnap them and get away with it, and get out, but they were prepared, and had whipped themselves up into a blood-thirsty frenzy, for a vicious battle.
Inuyasha was veritably frothing at the mouth to get this started now that he had finally crossed the limit of the bond. He knew the cubs would be feeling much better- as did he- but that in no way lessened his rage. He could feel his demon blood boiling within his veins, calling out for the pain of his enemies. It was a feeling that had been tempered and suppressed while he lived among humans- a survival instinct when living among those who would have turned him away, through violence or banishment, and therefore decreasing his resources for food, comfort, and companionship- but was released now that he fought beside warrior demons who, too, reveled in spilling blood in vengeance.
Koga crouched in front of him, pressing himself tight against the outer wall of the main building with one hand lightly pressing Inuyasha against the wall in the same manner. They inched themselves to the door way before Koga stole a glance into the darkened entrance way. Once it was determined that no one seemed to be watching the place, Koga and Inuyasha stealthily made their way inside.
Really it was Koga who worked stealthily. Inuyasha, balance upset due to the new weight around his stomach, was quite a bit less so.
Not that it mattered much. It really was pathetic how bad the security was on this place. In Inuyasha’s opinion, it was just another way these wolves had become sissified, living fat and happy in their caves without much reason to work at survival. He planned to suggest to Koga, when they got back, to beef up the training on the tribe’s cubs!
They were bent in a crouch as they scurried through the inner temple and Inuyasha’s admiration of the wolf’s completely silent steps was momentarily distracted on the ascent up the narrow stairs by the view of Koga’s firm backside and the hope that his fur might slip just a little bit higher...
Koga paused on the landing as he thought he heard the rustle of movement. He looked back to confer with his mate only to be met with a slightly glassy stare directed intently at his derriere. He smirked roguishly and gave a little wiggle causing Inuyasha to exhale in a silent moan. Koga chuckled breathily before braking Inuyasha out of his little trance and getting back to business.
Inuyasha nodded his understanding of Koga’s signaled plan and waited for the ookami to get into position. He stood up from his crouch and silently reached the shut door from where the sounds were coming from. Without warning Inuyasha slammed into the room, hoping to take the person inside by surprise. Before the wolf could move, Inuyasha had the tip of his sword under the wolf’s chin.
Michinaga’s movements were suddenly halted as the sound of the door crashing in and the icy feel of sharp metal pricked at the underside of his chin. His eyes, crossed from trying to see the end of the sword, fixed on the intruder and, even in his precarious position, he could not hold back the disgusted sneer from crossing his face.
“Hanyou!” he snarled.
“Old man,” Inuyasha drawled, trying to cover his confusion. As far as the inu had known, the Elder was trying to help Koga. He still considered the Elder’s urging him to leave was justified, and thought the Elder only wished to better the tribe, but as the ookami kept talking, he realized that was far from the case.
“Respect your betters, hanyou!” Michinaga backed from the sword’s tip, regaining his composure.
From a corner of the room, whimpers could be heard emanating from a small wooden cage. Inuyasha’s eyes flashed in anger at the site of his cubs imprisoned and frightened. Their sobbing voices called out to their ‘Yassa, immediately recognizing his gruff voice.
“So you’re the idiot who had the balls to take our cubs, huh?” Inuyasha growled.
“They are NOT your cubs, you creatin!” the Elder barked. His voice turned oily as he informed Inuyasha, “With the coming of your little abominations, there was no reason my dear Ayame’s progeny should have to remain behind and continue to be tainted by your filth, to be relegated to living under the rule of the little monsters growing inside of you!”
“That was a mistake,” announced Koga, who had silently maneuvered into the room while Inuyasha distracted the rambling old wolf.
Michinaga had not even had time to pause in his speech to assimilate the fact that there was another in the room with them. Before he could draw breath to continue informing the hanyou of his great plans for the cubs and his new tribe, blood gurgled up from his throat. His hands went to his neck and he scratched frantically at the clawed hand that dug deeply into his throat.
Koga squeezed the life out of the crazed wolf, his eyes bleeding red in bloodlust and anger. The old wolf’s warm blood pumped over his clenched hand slower and slower until it stopped. Koga carelessly dropped the wolf’s carcass to the floor with a thud.
Well that was anticlimactic, thought Koga.
Michinaga may have been done well manipulating those in power, but the man was sorely lacking in understanding all of the aspects of truly leading a large group of people. The older wolf had no grasp on security, and defeating him had been absurdly easy.
“The hell, Koga! I wanted a piece of him too!” Inuyasha growled, only just barely resisting the temptation to stop his foot in a pout.
“Well if you shut up and help me with the cubs, we might be able to help take out the others,” Koga grinned wolfishly.
“Bastard!” Inuyasha huffed and kneeled down to unlock the pen that held their cubs.
“’Yassa!” Kozue cried and buried her face into her inu’s chest, while Squirt nearly strangled Inuyasha as he wrapped his arms around the inu’s neck and pressed their cheeks together
“Papa!” Kingo sobbed, latching onto Koga’s armor. He was immediately followed by a crying Kaishi, who nearly bounced back off of the older ookami with the force of his embrace.
Much sobbing and teary babbling occurred, while the two older demons shushed and soothed them.
Inuyasha couldn’t deny that he was itching to race into battle and tell the rogue wolves exactly how he felt about their decision to steal his family away, via the sharp side of his blade. But as he knelt beside his mate, who pulled him closer, and held his cubs in his arms, breathing them in and soaking up the feeling of warm contentment that only came when holding his family close, he had to admit that this wasn’t half bad either.