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Chapter Two

The first rule when dealing with Ferals is that you must always strike first.  They will attack you without the slightest provocation, and they are merciless.  It doesn't matter if they're a tiger or a Chihuahua, the moment they see a human being, they will attack it.  And the scary thing is that it doesn't matter how good a fighter you are, or how much pain you're able to shrug off.  If a Feral's teeth or claws break your skin, even once, it's over.  You're infected.  Even I'm at risk here, even though I've already had the virus for so long.  I've resisted the virus in my system for so long that, even though it's still in me and active, it has weakened.  Basically, I put up more than a fight than it expected, and it wore itself out.  Sorry, I'm really not good at explaining this medical stuff.  The point is, though, that if I was to receive a fresh bite or scratch, all the medicine Doctor Evan has might not be able to save me.


Now I hope you understand the tension I felt when I found myself surrounded by a pack of wolf Ferals.


I held my spear out in front of me, jabbing it threateningly whenever one of them dared to step closer.  My mouth opened, revealing my sharp teeth, and I hissed at them.  I held my tail up to keep them from grabbing hold of it.  The closest wolf, which I assumed was the pack alpha, pulled back its lips and snarled at me, strands of saliva dangling out of its mouth.


"Stay back!" I yelled, not that it did any good.  These ones had lost the ability to understand speech long ago.


Crouching down, the alpha pounced at me, but I managed to swat it aside with a swing of my spear.  Another one leaped at me, but I impaled it on my spear's point and then threw it at another wolf just before it attacked me as well.


The rest of the wolves hesitated after seeing what I was capable of, but their instincts soon took hold again and they came at me.  I twirled my spear like a baton, whacking two of them multiple times until they finally turned and raced away, whimpering.  A growl came from behind me, and I jumped into the air just in time to avoid the alpha once again.  I landed behind him, and raised my spear for the kill.  Before I could strike, though, something pulled my spear out of my hands!


I spun around to see my new assailant, and my breath caught in my throat.  It was not a wolf- at least, not completely.  It was a young man, only a couple of years younger than me, it seemed.  He was tall and muscular, but still lean.  What really caught me off guard, though, was that almost every inch of his skin, except for his face, was covered in thick brown fur.  Large canine teeth poked past his lips, and his eyes glowed with Feral savagery.  Behind him, a short tail swished back and forth.


He was a Hybrid, just like me!


I took in all of this in less than half a second, and then the wolf-boy lashed out at me with his claws.  I leaned backwards, dodging the attack, and then threw my arm forward to punch him into the chest.  He stumbled backwards a couple of steps, but then righted himself and rushed at me with a growl.  The boy opened his mouth and lunged at my throat, hoping to bite it open.  I reacted by leaping into the air with catlike grace, spinning around, and kicking him square in the jaw with a loud THWACK!  This put him on the ground, but his bestial instincts wouldn't allow him to stay down.


He scrambled back to his feet and threw himself at me once more, wildly swinging his clawed hands at me.  He was strong, but lucky for me he didn't know how to properly fight, and I managed to either block or dodge each of his attacks.  I was getting tired, though.  I needed to end this quickly, or the wolf-boy would be able to overpower me.  Reaching out, I grabbed ahold of his head and pulled it downwards.  I raised my knee, smashing it into his face.  With a cry of pain, he flipped over backwards, landing in the dirt.


Slowly and unsteadily, he put his arms beneath him and forced himself back onto his feet.  He gave me a glare of utter hatred, another growl rising to his throat.  But then he did something I wasn't expecting: he backed away.  I've only encountered another Hybrid once in my life, and in the end they had proven to be no more human than the Ferals.  The fact that this boy was giving up the fight meant that his mind wasn't completely gone.  He leaned his head back and howled a long lonely note that was more human than animal.  Now, I don't claim to be a psychologist or anything, but I understood that boy's howl more than I understood most of what I heard being said back at camp.  That one single note spoke of sadness, of struggle, and of pain.  I don't know why I knew that, but I could.  Maybe, I thought, it was because my own catcalls were the same...


But as the boy howled, the other Ferals took heed and, to my disbelief, began to back off as well.  Had I been wrong?  Was this boy considered the alpha in the pack?  As I pondered this, he stepped forward once again, and retrieved the fallen wolf that I had stabbed with my spear.  Picking her up, he held her with more gentleness than I ever would have expected from a Feral.  He looked down at her prone form, his eyes downcast with grief.  For that moment, I couldn't' help but feel sorry for the poor young man.  Then he looked up at me.


"My sister," he said.


I blinked.  He could talk?  I really shouldn't have been surprised, I guess.  After all, I was just like him, and I could talk.  But that didn't stop me from taking a step back in shock.


"Go away," he told me, before turning tail, literally, and running away, leaving me standing there alone.


Slowly, almost numbly, I retrieved my spear and began to make my way back towards camp.  I paused, though, and turned to look in the direction that the wolf-boy had run.  He had attacked me, but that didn't matter.  He was living with a pack of Ferals that had tried to rip me apart for an easy meal, but that also didn't matter.  At that moment, there was only one thing I could think of.


I was not alone.


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