The Opposite of Wild
Incubus moved briskly through the snow. It was the month of Awakening and the yellow Lupe was six moons old. He was now old enough to travel in his pack's territory on the Endless Plains alone. It was his first morning out; he was young, playful, and eager to explore. His long legs and broad paws allowed him to travel with ease over the snow.
That's all there was on the Endless Plains in winter: snow. No trees, no buildings, no landmarks of any kind. It was boring but it was better than staying at the den site. There were no other pups in Inc's pack to play with and the adults didn't want to be bothered. A brisk wind was blowing, ruffling the pup's thick yellow fur but he wasn't cold.
It was hard to miss the bright-colored speck bobbing sporadically in the heavy gray sky, especially as it was seemed to be making it's way closer to Inc. The Lupe pup sat in the snow and watched the speck come closer and closer, his brow furrowed. He was trying to figure out what it was. He had seen flying Neopets and Petpets before but this was nothing familiar. He thing took a sudden steep dive and it seemed to be flying at a high rate of speed... straight for Inc!
The poor pup was sent flying, head over tail into the snow. The wind was knocked out of him as he struggled to his paws. He stood up and looked at the other Lupe... at least he thought it was a Lupe. A strong scent filled the air and made him sneeze.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! Are you OK? I left Neopia Central but I didn't know it would be so cold or so hard to fly. It's so empty out here and I didn't mean to crash into you. You are OK, aren't you? You do talk, right? Why aren't you talking," the voice babbled.
"I'm not talking because you won't be quiet long enough," Inc exclaimed, perplexed.
The female Lupe (Inc could tell she was female by her voice) was lilac in color, with bright pink wings. She fluttered her pink wings to hover right in front of Inc.
"Let me guess, you're a pet, right? You belong to a human," Inc said.
"Yeah, how did you know," the Lupe asked, voice filled with awe.
"You're wearing clothes and you smell funny. You're no wild Lupe."
"I do not smell funny! This is the best perfume my mommy could buy! Plus, I came looking for wild Lupes. You're one, right?"
"Yeah..." Duh! What else would I be doing in the middle of the Endless Plains at the end of winter? I'm definitely not a pet Lupe, living a coddled life with humans, like you!
"That's great! Mommy read me a book about wild Lupes for bedtime last week. Ever since, I've been wanting to meet my wild cousins."
"What? Your wild cousins? Just because we're both Lupes doesn't mean we're related!
"Oh, we're not?"
"No, we're not."
"That's OK! I came out here to see wild Lupes and I can still do that, even if we're not related."
"I don't think so. You are clearly a pet and no good alpha would let a pet even close to their pack."
"You're right, Incubus."
The yellow Lupe pup whirled around looking uneasy. He had been so focused on the faerie Lupe he hadn't been paying attention to anything else.
"Father," Inc murmured.
"Incubus, who is this stranger and what is she doing here," Inc's father demanded.
"My name is Aditi and I've come to meet a real live wild Lupe pack," the faerie Lupe exclaimed, completely unfazed by meeting a real live alpha of a wild Lupe pack.
"Normally, Incubus would be quite correct. I can tell you're a pet. Since my son found you, I would send him off to take you back to your human but he is too young. Since there is no one to spare, you will come back to our den site."
"Yes, this is going to be great! This was the best idea I've ever had!"
Inc's father and Aditi began walking back to the den site. Inc could only sit in the snow for a moment, shocked by what had happened. He didn't stay that way for long. He quickly rose to his paws and raced after his father and Aditi. He padded at his father's shoulder.
The three Lupes soon enough arrived at the den site. Inc's brothers reacted quite differently to the introduction of the stranger, a pet no less! Some exchanged cautious glances. Some rose to their paws, wondering if the faerie Lupe was a threat. Still others hid behind their siblings, preferring to take no chances.
Then, there was Achilles. The Tyrannian Lupe was the most aggressive Lupe in the family. Like some of his brothers, he had risen to his paws, moving to stand in front of the others. His fierce gaze was riveted on Aditi. She didn't seem to be fazed by being surrounded by ten wild Lupes.
Does anything faze her, Inc wondered.
Then, Achilles asked the question that was on all their minds. "What is a pet doing here?"
Inc's father ignored his son, instead padding over to the only female Lupe in the family, his mate, Asdis. The pair of Lupes trotted off into the winter landscape, Asdis' white fur blending in with her surroundings. Achilles turned away from his brothers, growling in disgust at being ignored. Aditi bounced forward, ears pricked, tail waving, eyes glowing with excitement. She sniffed noses with Inc's brothers.
"Achilles usually goes about things the wrong way but we do want to know who you are."
"What are you doing?"
"I can't believe you made it out here, spoiled pet that you are!"
"I wonder what Mother and Father are going to do with you."
Aditi ate up the attention that Inc's brothers gave her, answering their questions with ease, whether she truly knew the answer or not. Inc was almost as cross as Achilles. He couldn't believe their parents had just left the stranger with them! Not that she could do much harm, pet and all that she is, he thought reluctantly. Deciding to make the best of it (he couldn't deny that he was curious about pets, wanting to hear a first-paw account rather than what he had been told by his parents and he didn't want to be anything like Achilles) he padded over to his crowd of brothers and Aditi.
"So, are you happy," Inc asked.
"Of course she isn't. She wouldn't have left if she had been," Alan said.
Inc flicked his ears. He hated being interrupted! Aditi looked from one to he other, her brow furrowed.
"No, that isn't true! I love my family. I wouldn't want to leave them permanently. I just wanted to meet some wild Lupes, that's all," Aditi said.
"That doesn't make any sense! Why leave if you're happy where you're at," Alan insisted.
"That's not the point, Alan. Aditi is happy but some of us need more than happiness. We aren't capable of staying in one place for long, whether we like it or not. We need something new. It's like an itch you can't scratch... at least, I'm guessing. I can't really know that...," Inc trailed off lamely, realizing that his brothers were giving him odd looks.
Then, the moment passed. Inc's brothers had short attention spans, at least when it came to their pup brother.
"What's it like to fly?"
"Dumb. What sort of Lupe wants to fly? Wings are just extra appendages to bother about."
Achilles had padded over to the group. He still looked cross.
"I'll tell you," Aditi said, spreading her wings wide, making the others flinch away.
Inc was the first to recover. They were pretty. He gazed at them for. Moment, wagging his tail, a smile on his face. For the first time, he felt happy. It was unexpected but he understood where Aditi came from.
Inc knew why Aditi had wings. He knew her longing to fly. The female Lupe's tail tip accidentally flicked his nose, bringing his attention back to the here and now.
"The sort of Lupe that longs to see what others see. The sort who does not wish to be held back. Th sort who longs for action, adventure, new experiences. Flying gives me all of that," Aditi said, gazing directly at Achilles.
The Tyrannian Lupe curled his lip and turned away. It was then that all of the wild Lupes froze, ears pricked forward, listening to something intently. It was the combined howls of their parents calling the to a hunt. At once, they fell into single file, moving at a swift lope, moving easily over the snow. Inc was last in line and he saw Aditi rise into the sky, flying above them.
Inc then focused his attention on the hunt. Silent signals would be passed down the line and if he missed one because he wasn't paying attention,it would not bode well. As they neared their parents' location, the brothers could hear the distinct swish swish of a sled's runners. This was odd. No one traveled this late in the day.
The signal was passed down the line to split up and surround the sleigh. Their mother was standing in front of the massive red Uni, who flattened his ears but did not budge. Their father was on high alert as he approached the sleigh, the two passengers (one of them a human) sitting in thick blankets. That's when the wind picked up, sending the scent of agueena Chia to the hungry Lupes. The circle tightened and the human flinched.
Inc's father circled the sleigh to confront the human. "Leave now. Give up the Chia and don't come back!"
The yellow Lupe's chilling words seemed to move the human (who happened to be female) to action. She stood up, the blanket that shielded her from the cold dropping to the floor.
"No, I won't do it," the young woman said, her voice shaking with fear and cold.
"Then, we will separate you with force," Inc's father snarled, preparing to lunge.
Aditi flew down between the human and Inc's father. The other Lupes weren't sure what to do.
"This is my mommy and sister, Aileen. You can't hurt them," Aditi exclaimed.
Inc's father glowered at the faerie Lupe, "Very well. Leave our territory and never come back."
Asdis trotted to her mate's side and the red Uni galloped off. Inc watched the sleigh disappear into the distance. He was disappointed that he would be going hungry that night and that Aditi had left so abruptly. He felt... respect for the female Lupe. She knew what she wanted and went for it, no matter what anyone else thought.
Could Inc be like that someday? Maybe...