by Otter (email@example.com)
VOY J/7 PG-13
Disclaimer: This uber-story and its characters belong solely to the author and may not be used without permission. It depicts a sexual relationship between two consenting adult females, but is not graphic. If you are underage or this material is illegal where you live, or if depictions of this nature disturb you, please do not read further.
Summary: Some relationships are lived out as an eternal duel….
Acknowledgements: This short tale contains a plot element similar to one found in KashKona’s excellent (and much longer) work, "Howl." Though my inspiration came from a different source, I’d like to pay tribute to that well-written and original story.
Thanks to Sandra, Jennifer, and ginger for their valuable feedback and generous support. I’d be immeasurably poorer without my family and friends.
Dedicated to the wolves among (and in) us, and the women who run with them.
The quarry was unusual – spectacular – a prize out of the ordinary even in this land where anything was possible. It most closely resembled a wolf, nearly 12 hands high at the shoulder, with a pelt in a glorious shade of gold. Its large size and unusual color made the bitch (for assuredly it was female) a valuable catch, even without its formidable intelligence. But intelligent she was, wickedly so, and the hunter had been trailing her for a very long time.
The hunter herself was skilled; a lesser woman would never have entered into the contest. But she had created this hunt, and she was determined to be its victor at the end. She was close now, very close. She had lost track of the days that had passed during her pursuit, but time was artificial here and it mattered little in the long run. If she had to leave for awhile, if she had to return to reality with her net still empty, it was only a momentary cessation – merely a break in the game.
An outside observer might’ve considered the hunter overmatched. She was neither tall nor muscular, and she hunted alone. But her slender frame hid a whipcord strength that had surprised more than one opponent, and she had her share of intelligence. Most importantly, she had patience and persistence in abundance.
The night before, she had slept in the forest and heard the wolf howl before she drifted off. It was a sound that brought goosebumps to her skin. There was a challenge in that howl – she heard the taunting behind its eerie melody – and a loneliness that chilled her. Had she imagined the longing for contact behind the cry, as well as the warning to stay away? Either way, she was determined to capture the beast.
The hunter stopped to rest at the base of a very tall tree. There was a slight drizzle, and the moss on the stones underfoot made walking dangerous. She had slipped several times already, grazing her knuckles and landing on her backside once in a way that she knew would guarantee a bruise. She dropped down on one knee and drank from her canteen, her throat scratchy and dry from exertion. As she gazed around her at the nearly impenetrable forest, she noted that it was late afternoon. She would have to quit before long…hunting after dark put the advantage on the wolf’s side. As she rose, she noticed something that made all of her aches magically disappear: a paw print in the mud beside her.
She crouched down next to it. It was large, and not filled yet with water – made very recently. The hunter shivered. One of her traps lay in the clearing just ahead, and instinct told her it would not be empty.
She was cautious nonetheless – haste at this point would be foolish. After so long a chase to lose her prey over carelessness would be painful in the extreme. Stepping carefully, slowly, quietly. At last she entered the clearing…the silence was ominous. Near the opposite edge of the clearing was the pit she had dug. Its camouflaged covering was disturbed.
Please, she thought. Please.
She dropped to her knees to peer over the edge. The hole was dim in the gathering gloom, but the creature’s blond fur lightened the darkness. Eerie blue eyes glowed up at her, and there was the flash of fangs. It was the wolf.
The capture was far from over, but the hunter knew a rush of adrenaline. She could not prevent a laugh of sheer joy. In response, the wolf growled savagely and leapt up at her. She ducked back in automatic response, even though she knew the pit was too deep for the creature to escape. Feeling foolish, she leaned over the edge once more and gazed at the enraged animal.
"Oh, so you’d like to take off my head, would you?" she said softly. "Or you’d like me to believe you would. But I don’t think that’s what you really want."
The wolf bared its fangs once again and raised its hackles for good measure. The hunter nodded in sympathy.
"Yes, you’re angry. And a bit frightened. I have a healthy respect for you as well, my beauty," she said, seating herself at the edge of the pit. "But we will have to get beyond that, you and I. I have pursued you over too many galaxies…and waited too many eons…to forfeit my right to my prize. It’s your prize as well, my pet…though I don’t suppose you’re ready to admit that."
The wolf had been pacing the circumference of its cell restlessly, but froze at that last sentence and looked up. The hunter nodded. "Yes, it’s been a long time for you too, I know."
The hunter’s gentle tone seemed to spark another round of fury in the confined animal. The wolf growled and snarled wildly, leaping up several times and once coming within half a meter of the edge. Her large paws with their long claws scratched clods of soil out of the walls surrounding her. Finally, she sank down on her haunches, panting from her efforts.
The woman above watched quietly, trying not to incite the animal further. The light rain had stopped, and what little sun there was left peeked through the foliage above. When it appeared that the wolf had settled a bit, the hunter drew from her backpack a net. Its modern fibers were thin, but strong enough to contain her prey. She was careful not to let the wolf see the net, but the animal was aware that something was going on and lifted its muzzle, nostrils flaring as she tried to scent the air above.
The hunter drew out next a rope, also very strong and with fibers thicker than that of the net. She threw one end over the branch of a tree next to the pit; it overhung the opening nicely. It took several tries before the rope was correctly arranged, and she tested her weight against the branch once it was done. The wolf was heavier than she, but she was confident it would hold.
The animal watched her in silence, rising at intervals to pace nervously around the pit. Once the net and rope were prepared, the hunter pulled from her pack a final tool. It looked like a weapon, but would only provide flash and sound. It was not the hunter’s intent to harm the animal, but a bit of alarm was necessary for the capture.
When all was ready she took a deep breath, standing back from the pit and bracing herself. She gathered the net up carefully, arranging the folds as she had practiced so many times. In her other hand she held the weapon, under her foot lay one end of the rope. She hesitated. This was the most important moment of the hunt. A mistake now would waste years of preparation; the timing had to be perfect. If she did not succeed with this attempt, the wolf was too wily to fall for the trap again, and she would have to find another way.
In one fluid motion, she knelt at the edge of the pit, raised the weapon and fired. She saw a second’s disbelief in the wolf’s eyes, before the animal blinked and cringed at the small explosive flash that followed. That moment in a frozen crouch was what the hunter had hoped for, and her other arm continued in an arc that flung the net down into the pit. It fanned out perfectly, surrounding the animal as it fell. Feeling the web come down around her, the wolf instinctively jumped, and the hunter immediately pulled on the rope which was attached to the net. It swept up beneath the startled animal – in a matter of seconds the wolf was swinging gently from the branch overhead.
The hunter pulled the rope hand over hand as the net with its prize rose slowly out of the pit. When it was clear, she tied the end of the rope around the trunk of a tree. As expected, the wolf struggled mightily. The fibers of the net proved impervious to the sharp fangs, although the hunter would not have trusted it overnight. Without a hard surface to brace against, the animal’s struggle was just energy turned against itself, and soon the wolf was exhausted. Now was the time to move.
Pulling a knife out of her boot, the hunter sliced through the rope, pushing against the swinging bundle at the same time so that it dropped clear of the pit. The wolf landed with a grunt, and before the creature could catch her breath the hunter was upon her. She grabbed one silky ear in her left hand, right arm about the creature’s throat and right leg over its abdomen. The wolf lay mostly on its left side, with the hunter stretched out on top of her. The beast fought back briefly, unsuccessfully.
"Easy now, easy girl," the hunter said softly. The wolf’s free ear flicked back at the sound, and her lip lifted to show strong white teeth. The hunter could feel the animal’s muscles shifting beneath the thick fur, and she marveled at the warmth of its body. Its beautiful coat was composed of long gold guard hairs and a silky undercoat of near-white fur. Its density protected the wolf so well that rain did not penetrate and mud did not adhere. The woman kept up her crooning, knowing the wolf could understand every word.
"I have enjoyed the chase, my fleet-footed friend. It was quite a challenge. The way you stayed just out of reach…the way you outwitted me at every turn. Although I didn’t appreciate what you did to my hawk in the Eberian Valley."
The wolf let out a sound that was more exhalation than woof, and the hunter grinned in response. "Yes, you were pleased with yourself over that one, weren’t you? But that hawk cost me over 200 credits, and took me 3 months to train! I could’ve skinned you alive when I found her." There was a rumble from the creature’s throat. "Now, now, you know I’m not serious. This gorgeous coat would never look as good on anyone else, would it?" The hunter stroked the fur on the wolf’s chest casually. The animal stiffened, but the hunter pretended not to notice.
"I nearly gave up at one point, did you know?" The wolf’s dark blue eyes shifted. "Yes, I did. It was after I got lost in that high desert simulation. The time you rescued me." A snort issued from the long muzzle. "Ah, don’t deny it, golden one. You think I don’t know you led me to that cave? You’ve never left such obvious tracks…before OR since."
Slowly, carefully, the hunter began to untangle the net from the creature’s long body. The wolf lay quietly panting, eyes half closed. "Wandering around like a fool, I vowed that it would be my last chase. Told myself I was getting too old for this game. But your gesture changed everything." She moved her hand carefully to the wolf’s belly, began a gentle scratching. Almost without volition, the animal’s right hind leg circled in response. "It was the first sign of how much you cared. It was then I knew…I had to have you."
She lifted her boot, began to unlace it with her right hand. Although the wolf lay motionless, the hunter could feel the tension in her body. She shifted her left hand to grasp the scruff of the animal’s neck. When the second boot dropped off, the wolf shifted on the damp grass.
"Soon, my beauty, soon," the hunter soothed.
She began to undo her belt, wriggling with difficulty out of her rain-soaked trousers. After unfastening her shirt, she paused to hug the animal in front of her, wrapping them both in the khaki material. With strong fingers she combed through the thick coat, massaging the muscles beneath the fur, burying her face in its softness. The wolf gave a sigh.
Eyes closed, basking in the plush warmth of the wolf’s body, the hunter was overwhelmed suddenly by a single image. Her mind’s eye pictured a woman bathing in a stream, unaware of her audience, rising like a goddess from the water. Her watcher stood entranced by the sight: skin as fair as moonlight and as soft as silk, long blond hair framing an intelligent face, wide blue eyes, a full mouth. The pinkness of those lips echoed in nipples atop wonderfully voluptuous breasts, a slender waist and full hips, long legs that would wrap around one in passion. Flooded with sensation, the hunter groaned, and the wolf twisted suddenly in her grasp. But instead of attacking with fangs, the animal swept one large paw down against her thigh. The hunter gasped and pulled back in alarm, but those powerful claws had merely scored her skin – four lines of red that had not even broken the surface.
She laughed with relief and a touch of embarrassment. "A warning, eh, my love? You’re losing patience with me…and rightfully so. I’m afraid I was being tempted by memory. Memory of what could be….Although that’s not how this game is played, is it?" She paused hopefully. Dark blue eyes glinted back at her. "No, I suppose not. At least not this round." She quickly divested herself of the rest of her clothing.
"But I’ve waited for this too long to be put off by mere form. Our joining was meant to be, and I’ll not be denied." She framed the wolf’s face with her hands, looked deep into the beast’s eyes. "You’ll be still?"
In answer, the creature lowered its head and ears submissively. Satisfied, the hunter moved away and rose onto her knees. She closed her eyes and concentrated. Her form began to shimmer, and as the animal watched, the woman was transformed.
For the hunter, it was as if her world was suddenly transformed. Trees and rocks, and even the beautiful animal before her, appeared in dull shades of gray. She could smell the rainwater, the mushrooms, the beetles crawling underfoot, the young rabbit in its burrow several yards away. Her hearing was sharpened ten-fold, her muscles twitchy with alertness, and the ever-present instinct to feed burned within her. For the moment she ignored this hunger in favor of another.
The new animal had a coat of brown, tinged with a definite shade of red, and eyes a stormy blue-gray. Not quite so long as the first wolf, leaner, but possessing a powerful grace that clearly marked her as an alpha female. The creature moved over to the first wolf, who rolled over on her back and licked at her companion’s muzzle in greeting. The greeting was returned, lovingly so, and then the wolf above nudged the first with her nose.
The golden beast rolled onto her belly, waiting.
The shapeshifter had prepared carefully. She had studied her prey before beginning the chase, and even more during the long period of the hunt. Every paw print, each fang mark in a discarded bit of bone, every strand of golden hair in the creature’s fur – these had become as familiar to her as her own reflection in a mirror. She knew the tireless lope the wolf could maintain for hours at a stretch, the patient crouch she assumed when hunting, the yelps she emitted in play or fright. Had she wanted to, she could’ve assumed a shape identical to that of her quarry.
But just as she knew what it would take to eventually capture the wolf, she knew what was required to give her pleasure. As she moved to stand over her intended, the first wolf caught a glimpse of the shadowed protrusion that lay against the alpha’s belly. Blue eyes widened and a whimper issued from the golden one’s throat. Quickly, the shapeshifter captured the scruff of the wolf’s neck between her jaws. Strong white teeth held her gently, but immovably. The mating proceeded at a decidedly non-lupine pace -- the hunter as patient in this as she was in all things – and more whimpers were to follow before it was over.
The hunter awoke the next morning in her usual form. Sun streaming through the canopy above was warming the forest, but the dew on the grass was still chilly. Something…or someone…had draped her in a covering of fur. She smiled at the sight of it. Her clothes were neatly folded on the grass next to her, and the import struck her immediately: only a being with hands could’ve accomplished that task.
"Ah, my love," she whispered. "So that’s the way of it, eh? Your turn next. Well, it’s only fair, I suppose." Her tone held a touch of nostalgia and humor…and excitement. She threw off the covering and stretched in the early morning mist. As she stretched the air about her began to shimmer once again. She finished her stretch on all fours, forelegs extended before her, tail waving and spine bowed as her muzzle rested against the ground. Then she rose, gave a sneeze and a shake, and set out to find some breakfast.
After all, soon the hunt would begin again…and she would need her strength.
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This page is from the Delta Quadrant of Venus website. The site was originally hosted on AOL's hometown pages, which AOL shut down on October 31, 2008. The DQV site was resurrected and moved to this new home on November 30, 2008 because fans asked to have it back. Thank you for your continued interest in my stories. I'm truly touched. --T'ware
Posted May 13, 2001. Updated January 2, 2002, to delete
table and add logo graphic.