Big Salmon Lake And through the night, so it seems I'm not breathing
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All Welcome 
He'd heard them approaching before he'd seen them, and had been lapping up some water at the lake's edge when the large flock of geese landed on the water- followed by another, and then another. The noisy, raucous honking sounds they made caused Bronco to flick his ears back, not terribly impressed at how such a creature could be so obnoxiously loud. He hadn't hunted goose- but it seemed like they were the sort of animal that belonged in a very particular group of prey animals- those that did not care at all that they were being watched by a predator. They didn't seem to feel the need to hide of stop their honking; it was like they felt invincible. 

...Which was laughable, to a young carnivore. 

Some of the geese paddled over toward the shore where the lake waters were shallower, to go bottoms-up as they presumably ate the grasses below the surface, and some even waddled out onto the banks to nibble at the grasses. Bronco meandered along the lake's edge, keeping himself tucked behind the bullrushes so that he could observe them from a safe distance, trying to figure out exactly what the best method was for hunting the stupendously loud Canada geese.
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Migrating northward through the Great Bear Wilderness, there was something of a fantasy land Zsuzsa never heard of before that contained a “beach” and an “ocean”. She learned these land characteristics from a pack member befriended in the Haunted Wood. Aside from igniting a sense of wanderlust to discover such lands coming from a Mackenzie wolf that had been largely landlocked her entire life, her most pressing matter at the moment was finding substantial prey along the way. Unsuccessful in tracking pronghorn in the southern lands, she came further to a lake with a notable source of water. A perfect haven for a broad selection of prey.
 
Zsuzsa heard honks of geese in the distance as she skulked through the surrounding area, keeping her head and neck low but ears pressed forward attentively. Weaving through some cattails before coming upon bulrushes, her maneuvering through caught some hidden birds by surprise. This didn’t seem to alarm the geese, which were continuously busy cackling in honks amongst themselves. Geese were more of the heartier variety of fowl aside from the smaller and often more difficult avians to hunt. Today would be a good day for a sizable meal.
 
Not too far from her distance was another wolf concealed amongst the brush that caught her silver eye. From what she surveyed he was as earthy hued as his surroundings, able built and young. His own focus was at interest with the flock by the lakeshore. Glancing back at the flock there was one, in particular, Zsuzsa had her eye on. The male had the better advantage of camouflage of the two, so she kept low. ”The one on the left may have an injured wing.” Her voice flitted, enough where she could be heard in earshot. The geese were still too loud in their gossip to notice. The bottom-heavy goose she referred to kept flexing a wing uncomfortably, some feathers haphazardly protruding from its limb. It could be an advantage at this moment.
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From over his shoulder came a voice, quiet but energized, and his ears tilted back. The fur along the nap of his neck stiffened in surprise and he tucked his head low so that he could turn his head to catch sight of whoever had spoken without frightening the geese off...Though truth be told, they weren't the least bit concerned with the two predators hidden beyond the cattails. 

The wolf who had approached him was a handsome creature, with a wild hunger in her silver gaze, Still, she seemed content on hunting with him, which he appreciated. In spite of all the things wolves could argue and bicker over, he was glad that for the most part, they would pull together and work alongside a stranger in order to get a good meal. There was a chance the sinewy shadow might have been a part of Ursus or the Saints- but she seemed to intend no harm. 

And she was right- when he looked back, he could pick out the goose whose wing looked odd in angle- perhaps from a rough landing. A few of the feathers were out of place, and it wasn't held at its side at the same angle as all the others. This might not be too hard. He slowly turned back to give the dark female a soft smile, and mischevious side-eye. "You ready to give these a honkers a good run?" He asked, collecting himself so that he'd be ready to move in when she was.
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For this moment in time, the two wolves would act as one unit in this effort as if they had been long-time allies. There was nothing more unifying than the thrill of the hunt. Catching his unique scent, it was peculiar and strong. It was cataloged as unknown to her olfactory sense as she couldn’t place it as part of a distinct pack or as his noteworthy scent. That didn’t matter right now though as formalities would come after; Zsuzsa was a get down to business kind of wolf. What mattered now was somehow steering the geese away from the lakeshore’s edge so the two carnivores could have a better chance at snagging the weaker goose and perhaps trapping another.
 
With his mischievous words and glisten of a smile, Zsuzsa glanced over to him in silent consent. The corners of her muzzle pulled back in a minuscule smirk, although it was nearly invisible to be seen with the midnight richness of her pelt. She could feel her mouth water now at the heightening adrenaline of what was to come. Her subconscious hummed in the background of her psyche, plotting methods of approaching this from the most sensical angle. ”Over there,” Her muzzle motioned to the area she spoke of. ”There’s cover for me to sneak around and ambush. I can direct them to the tall plants, to you.” The Mackenzie suggested. He would be most excellent as a disguise in the bulrush, the geese being led to their unknown fate of what lurked beyond.
 
Silver eyes shifting over to him, Zsuzsa waited for his reciprocation to the plan of action. Wolves were some of the best apex predators when it came to strategizing creative hunting methods and she was impartial to any strategy he may have in mind to make it a successful undertaking.
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She was a hunter, honed in on her prey, and all small talk would have to wait until after they'd executed their hunt. Birds like partridge, pheasants and spruce grouse were things that Bronco had learned to hunt, but these birds were larger, louder, and did not seem nearly as flighty as the ones he had experience with. Still- his hunting partner seemed to know what she was doing, and that spurred his confidence. Geese couldn't be much harder to hunt than other birds, right? It wasn't like birds were aggressive, anyway. 

Little did he know. 

Regardless, his trusty companion seemed to have already come up with a plan- and was willing to be the one chasing the geese in his direction if she could sneak around to blind-side them. He nodded quietly and settled down into his chosen spot, from where he could just see the area she'd pointed out and the geese that waddled about between them. A couple of them had even chosen to sit on the grass, still either oblivious to the present danger, or simply unphased by the predators that lurked nearby.
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The easy thing about geese is they weren’t as flighty. The hard thing about geese was some packed major attitude in the face of conflict. They were just as capable as sizing up their opponents. They still largely function off the ‘flight’ mechanism of their fight or flight technique, but sometimes there was that wildcard of ‘fight’ that was dealt. From the flock, it seemed like there were two large males and a female that were consistently monitoring their environment while some of the others settled. Unbeknownst as to how ranking systems worked in the avian world, Zsuzsa coined those larger fowl as the ‘Alphas’ of their flock and would keep her eye on them as well.
 
Slinking away in the bulrushes, Zsuzsa slipped behind the male and made her way around. Her stealth nearly became feline-like, creeping with ethereal paw falls and attempting to not make much movement with swaying cattails. One of the larger male geese caught the attention of something slipping in the distance of the bulrushes, but perhaps it was the breeze that willowed the plants. Ears flat against her skull and figure as low as possible to the ground, Zsuzsa crept on the opposite side where she was now facing the concealed male in the bulrushes and where the two wolves now had an advantage of boxing the flock in. The injured one started to hobble and cackle its way closer to where the male was. Perfect.
 
Then out of nowhere, a Raven descended down from the skies and landed in the midst of the geese. Giving a blaring caw, all the geese turned toward the blackbird that decided to rudely interrupt. The injured one then hobbled back to the core of the flock. Not so perfect now.
 
Zsuzsa’s heart dropped. Goddammit… The Raven that followed her since before coming to the Wilds was a bad omen, she was sure of it. The geese honked while the Raven cawed, clearly two avian languages that couldn’t be interpreted by anyone. Agitated, she kept low and still. This caused her to wait longer than intended to strike, and unfortunately, there was no way for Zsuzsa to use telekinesis to tell the male the injured one would now be more challenging to snag.
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He waited quietly while his hunting partner snuck around to the place she'd indicated, though he couldn't really keep track of her. She moved as silently as a shadow, and kept herself low enough that he wasn't even sure if the wisp of darkness he saw beyond the reeds was a tuft of her fur, or simply the bend and flow of the tall grasses. He allowed her time, staying at the ready in his position, and allowed his gaze to meander back to the birds. 

He'd never hunted geese before. He'd seen them, of course, but generally hadn't considered them as a regular source of food, given the fact they were largely migratory and he'd grown up in a forest, which wasn't their natural habitat. They looked bigger than he'd expected- having seen them fly overhead in a V, they'd seemed so small, but now they actually looked like they'd make a decent meal. They had longer legs than a partridge or pheasant, but larger, rounder bodies, so he couldn't imagine they'd be able to leap into the air and take off very quickly. This should be a piece of cake, he thought. 

He noticed the crow land amongst them, and found himself wondering if a brawl might break out between the two very different types of birds. Had the crow spotted the wolves lying in wait? He knew they were carrion-eaters, and that they could hover around where they thought a kill might take place...But did the geese know that? Would they know to see the crow as a bad omen? They moved and honked, but as far as he could tell, they hadn't taken much offense at its presence. At least, not yet. 

In watching the crow, though, he became distracted and lost sight of the injured goose. They all looked so alike, so he found himself scanning over them all, but wasn't able to pick out the one that Zsuzsa had pointed out earlier. He swallowed hard; if she charged now, he might not be able to single it out in time. It seemed to be taking her longer to get settled and ready, though, and he found himself looking past the flock of geese for any sign of his hunting partner. Where had she gone, and why had she not tried to flush the geese yet? All he could do was wait, and calm himself. If he moved too early, he might blow their cover and spoil the hunt completely.
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Hearing the throb of her heartbeat in her ears, Zsuzsa couldn’t delay any longer. The Raven caused the more vulnerable geese to congregate closer together and some edged back by the water. Their tailfeathers wagged like canines. If the sable female was to strike, her steel gaze was dead set on attempting to capture the Raven. Fury in her eyes, the Raven would probably cost her a meal on this round, but of course, remembered it was her volunteering to help the male. He had discovered the flock first after all, and it was only in her unexpectedly kind nature to this stranger to assist. She needed to put that damn Raven out of its misery and out of her misery, though.
 
Her limbs sank before launching herself from the bulrushes. Her lithe figure was effortless to propel forward as a sudden rush of a shadowed figure of fangs and claws came vaulting toward the geese. Clearly caught off guard, the geese squawked in surprise as some unevenly ran as fast as their little webbed palmated feet could take them to the water. A couple made a hasty takeoff, and the injured goose stumbled over itself in the fray. As it was visible it had trouble taking off, its blunder caused it to start booking it in the direction of the tall male in the grass.
 
Lone feathers a’ flying everywhere, Zsuzsa was able to snap down at the tail feather of the Raven, causing it to caw with agitation and instantly taking flight from the area. Ending up with a spare black feather in her jowls, she swiftly adverted movement toward the dominant goose who spread its wingspan wide in a show of dominance and hissed. Hastily, it retreated once it saw Zsuzsa bolting toward it. Skittling away toward the lake, if it meant Zsuzsa having to take a dive for it, so be it. The injured goose long since disappeared from her mind as she trusted the male had a prime opportunity to snag it himself.
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Just a moment later, calamity struck. The dark female darted from her hiding place, sending the gees honking and flailing as they waddled toward the water with a few stray ones opting to run directly away from her instead, hoping she might go for the others as they reached the shallows. In the mêlée the wounded goose revealed itself and Bronco locked his gaze onto it, bursting forth from his own hiding spot as it waddled toward him. 

The injured goose, as well as a few others that had chosen to run in his direction, beat their wings and nearly fell over each other trying to get to the water. Bronco was among them in an instant, just as they reached the muddy banks. He slipped, and reached out to grab the closest goose by its already bent wing, snapping it back toward him with a jerk of his head so that it couldn't hit the water and begin to take off, as some of the others had. With a horrific sound, it craned its long neck around and began to jab at Bronco's ribs- ribs which had only recently healed- as he pulled it back up the bank and onto the grass. He growled and clenched his teeth as the goose continued to peck at him with unexpected force, and buffetted his head with its other wing. It was much stronger than he'd imagined. 

"Shtupid!" He snarled as he wrestled the squirming, honking goose to the ground. It smacked him around the face several times with its other wing before he was able to pin it down with one of his large front feet, and then released the broken wing once he'd managed to pin it down with the other foot. Now held down, lying on its back and hissing like a furious cat, the goose continued to try and snake its head and jab at his chest as he avoided its strikes, snapping at the air as he tried to get a hold of its neck. With each snap of his jaws, he cursed. "Gahd. Damn. Stupid! I. Hate. GAH." Frustrated, he finally caught hold of the goose's neck, and it let out one final SQUONK before it went silent. He could feel bruises rising like welts beneath his fur from all the places it had jabbed him with its beak, so he concluded, when he let go of it: "I hate geese. I thought Canadians were s'posed to be friendly. Sheesh." He stepped off the goose, and realized then that he'd committed to his part of the hunt without lending his companion a hand- and didn't see her until he scanned his gaze toward the water, where the surface still rippled from her dive. The water frothed, and he wasn't sure if she'd been successful or not. Knowing there was little else he could do, he pattered a bit closer, and called out.  "Bit cold fer swimmin', innit?"
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The exclamations from the male wrestling the injured goose was deaf to her ears as she broke the surface tension of the lake water. Landing in a semi-shallow portion of the lake, the slope of the underwater earth made her paws sink into it. It caused her swift sprint to slow considerably, and the only thing she could do was extend her neck as far as possible to snap at the gooses’ hindquarters. To which she snagged the bottom of the goose. In an array of splashing, the goose squawked and flapped in alarm. The flapping, the splashing, the wrestling, the shock of the cold water happened all so quickly. Pulling her forepaws out from beneath the muddy underwater slope, it was the only way to get a secure grip on the goose as she clutched it and drowned it. Water filled her ears and her nose as she could only stay under for mere moments before having to come back up. Clenching her jaws now around the base of its neck, the goose’s fate was sealed at that moment as it garbled a honk and fell limp in her jowls.
 
The corners of her muzzle pulled back, rasping for breath. Heart pounding, her adrenaline was able to briefly shut off her senses of overwhelming cold from the lake water until it came rushing back. Doing a semi-dog paddle and them clambering out of the lake, she was a sopping mess of black. To greet her was the brown male before her, to which Zsuzsa wasn’t expecting him to be an audience member of this show and didn’t know how long he had been watching. Once on stable, flat, dry earth again she spat the goose out beside her. There was a slight twitch emitted from one of its webbed feet, but it was done for.
 
Ears picking up his voice of how it was indeed cold for a swim, Zsuzsa was able to get a better glimpse of him before her now that he wasn’t shrouded in the bulrushes. The first details to note were the deep scars across the bridge of his muzzle. He looked quite young and briefly wondered how a young male such as him adorned such noticeable scars. His eyes were afire with a warm whisky color. Taking a moment to contemplate his question, the female then broke out in a shake (more so upon natural instinct than on purpose) Water droplets sprayed from her coat, possibly showering him a bit as well depending on his distance from her. She gave a huff. ”Wasn’t exactly the plan. That Raven threw it all off.” She earned her prize but was still annoyed, as her steel gaze searched the surrounding trees of the area. The Raven was nowhere to be found currently. ”So, what's the verdict?” Zsuzsa asked, turning her interest back to him. All that was left in the area was a mess of stray feathers.
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With a sloppy, wet sound, the darkened body of the goos she'd caught was dropped on the ground, causing Bronco's ears to prick. She'd been successful then- and her goos looked even bigger than his- but she'd clearly had to put more effort into the matter. His tail waved from side to side in amusement as she shook out her pelt and he chuckled softly. No wolf looked terribly fit when they were soaked- but all wolves looked kind of funny when their fur stuck out at all ends like that. Politely, he quieted himself and regarded her with a warm, happy gaze. 

He whirled around to trot back to where he'd dropped his own goos and pounced it, carrying it back toward Zsuzsa and dropped it on the ground. "Well, successful, I'd say," He said, "But super unpleasant. That dang thing- I'm gonna have bruises all over me for the next coupl'a days I imagine," He said. He gestured with a flick of his muzzle. "C'mere. You c'n snuggle up to me an' I can help get some of that excess water off ya," He said, and before she could refuse, he explained: "I got three little sisters an' a little brother. So I've done this plenty, an' I'm harmless," He said with a laugh.
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The Mackenzie would do no such thing to groom herself despite how her fur was a moist, haphazard mess. What was more beguiling than the focus of her fur was how jovial this male naturally carried himself. He had to have been one of the lucky ones who retained a part of his naivety and innocence from his pup hood. That seemed to be a rare trait nowadays with generational trauma passed down. Zsuzsa had a slight envious pang but at the same time, was refreshed to see not everyone in the world was broken.
 
Whirling on his paw pads, he went to fetch his earned kill to display before her. Relieved that both of them caught their own, it would be awkward if the two put effort into hunting but then fighting over who got more of the meaty remains. It seemed like he made it out to be a quick job despite lamenting about bruises. Although Zsuzsa wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic or serious, it caused her to smirk. ”Well done.” She said with a sway of her tail, glad to assist him in this.
 
Before they could dive into their avian dinners, the male offered an unusual proposition to assist in drying her off. Zsuzsa froze, her sable brows furrowing in slight puzzlement. What’s the catch? He didn’t even need to state that he was harmless since his natural cheery disposition showed no signs of threat, it was just Zsuzsa wasn’t used to being treated kindly as a loner. Or really treated kindly in general. She had been hardened by trauma and misfortune growing up, so his kind gesture almost made her think she didn’t deserve such a thing. Standing in damp silence, her eyes were a dead giveaway she was contemplating this act of kindness. ”… Sure.” She said with slight apprehension. She took one step forward toward him, but that was it. There was really nothing to fear with him, it was just her own unease holding her back.
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There was no mistaking her hesitation, and she seemed to put up a wall the moment he offered to help warm her up. It surprised him, and he wondered first if he'd said something wrong, as it seemed perfectly normal to him to want to step in and help a stranger out, especially when they'd just cooperated on a successful hunt. It wasn't like he was going to steal her goose or anything like that- but a moment later, under her wary gaze when she took only one step toward him and stopped short- he realized something. He shouldn't have expected her to see things the way he saw them because he knew himself- and while he knew himself to be nothing but kind, she didn't necessarily know that. She'd been willing to cooperate with him on a hunt, but that hadn't entailed any amount of physical proximity, wherein she could potentially put herself in danger by getting too close to this stranger. 

He didn't feel it would be terribly helpful to invalidate her fears, though he wanted very much to assure her that she'd never have anything to worry about with him. She likely had her own reasons for not wanting to come closer...And he didn't want to push her boundaries if she wasn't comfortable. So he lowered his head and took a small step in her direction, before he turned in a circle twice, and flopped to the ground, the goose settled between his forepaws. "You do you" He said with kind sincerity, thumping his tail against the ground so she didn't think he was being dismissive. She could join him at his side if she chose to- or she could simply stay where she was and eat her own meal, but he was going to let her make that choice. "Oh- I'm Bronco, by the way, I guess we never really introduced ourselves, heh," He said.
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Cheery as his disposition was, he also had a streak of empathy about him toward her apprehensive ways. He stepped closer to merely circle about and settle amongst his kill, giving her permission to do what she wished. That actually caught her off guard as well. She was conditioned to the “Alpha male” personalities attempting to dictate how she should do, say, and react to things. It was refreshing and nothing like she was used to. Everything about these Wilds so far were a stark difference to where she came from. She was beginning to like it more and more.
 
Her tail did a small wag on its own accord, as she glanced over to her goose and decided to drag it over to where she was across from him. Giving another shake, she settled down on her stomach with her goose at her forepaws. Making the introduction of himself as Bronco, the name was fitting for who he was in personality and aesthetic. ”Guess it was one of those moments where we had to act quickly or else we would both be out a meal.” She replied softly, a small smile forming. ”I go by Zsuzsa.” Saying her name made her feel foreign in these Wilds.
 
She put her nose to the tuft of feathers on the plump surface of her goose, about to start tearing in when her silver eyes were studying the slashes that made deep crevices along his muzzle. ”Let me guess, were those from your last battle with a goose?” She said in light humor, knowing a goose alone couldn't make those indentions. She wasn’t trying to offend him but was curious why a young male like him would have such scars to begin with. It made her silently contemplate everything from a tumultuous pack life to a mere accident in sparring. She thought he had too much of a sunny disposition to have those in the first place.
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She seemed to relax a bit when she realized that he wasn't going to try and convince her or worse yet, coerce her into going any closer to him than she deemed comfortable, and drew a bit closer so that she too could lay down and start de-feathering her goose so that they might at least eat their meal in peace together. 

There really wasn't anything elegant about plucking a goose, though, so Bronco had to abandon any hopes of looking refined while he grabbed mouthfulls of feathers and plucked them from the goos, and then shook his head to get the soft down out of his mouth. Birds sometimes took less energy to catch- but they were definitely more harder to eat afterwards than something that could simply be opened up and devoured. Bronco wanted to make sure none of the goose went to waste- save for its fluff and feathers- so he plucked as much as he could before he began to eat it. 

Zsuzsa, she called herself. It was a catchy name, and made him smile- though his mouth was full so he didn't risk being impolite, and tucked his nose down so he could finish what he was working through before he spoke. He cleared his throat first for good measure. "Zsuzsa. That's a pretty badass name," He said, with a faint grin before he chewed off another piece of food. He paused for a moment when she referred to the scars on his nose, before he tilted his head back and swallowed what he had in his mouth in one gulp. "Hah!" He coughed. "Nah. I think I just learned my lesson about geese here now," He said, implying that he wouldn't likely have trifled with them a second time had those scars come from a goose. Obviously, she was just joking, but seemed interested in where he'd gotten the scars to begin with. He felt a bit ashamed to have to admit it- but he wasn't sure why. 

"Got in a fight with some dude who was picking on a friend of mine," He said, with a shrug. And while she was correct, that he wasn't the sort to go picking fights, or getting too rough in a spar. It weighed on him, knowing that wolves existed who would attack innocent travellers, and that he might be forced to step in and intervene, and be left with the reminder that while he had been able to save his friend, he hadn't been able to stop the whole incident from happening in the first place. "I don't dig it when my friends get picked on," He said simply.
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Bronco began plucking his goose with a mess of feathers everywhere in its wake. There was no avoiding how it would be slightly painstaking, frustrating, and messy. It was very much like unearthing an archaeological treasure. When all was said and done with a splay of feathers all around them and stuck everywhere conceivable, it would be deeply rewarding. It would be especially rewarding for Zsuzsa, who had not had a sizable meal like this in several moon cycles. Her father taught her how to hunt and for as savage as he was, he had been oddly zen about the de-feathering process. A mindless activity, yet highly focused. She started on the breast, the most prized part. It would be like opening a Christmas present.
 
Taken by surprise how something of her name was badass, she always thought it as old-world and antiquated. Nevertheless, there was a feathery smile that crossed her maw.  ”And with Bronco… did you get it from behaving unpredictably sometimes?” Zsuzsa knew “bronco” was another name for a wild, untamed horse. It wasn’t meant as an offending ask to him, the Mackenzie was just taking his name for what it usually meant.
 
Seeing as how Bronco stated he learned his lesson with geese, Zsuzsa dipped her head in a nod. ”My father once told me different birds required different ways of de-feathering. Geese and ducks require more effort for their waterproof feathers. Doves and pigeons are a cinch.” Zsuzsa wasn’t one to often go for avian meals; due to the patience one had to endure de-feathering, it was desperate situations like this that she would be a willing participant.
 
Bronco mentioned his permanent scars came from defending another. It was an honorable thing to do for someone so young like him. Zsuzsa finally plucked the section of the goose breast as clean as she could get and her teeth were like shears, tearing in and getting into the meatier parts. ”Did the fight start on your pack land?” Now Zsuzsa was only assuming this, but it was her sneaky way of finding out a little more information about him.
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#17
His ears perked at the sound of his name, and he chuckled into the goose's feathers, smacking his lips a bit and gulping down what he had in his mouth. He shook his head, eyes glistening. "Nah. My parents gave me that, kind of after my Dad whose name was Colt," He said. At least he was getting better at being able to talk about his Dad without getting too sad now. Perhaps it was because he was tired of his tone inviting in more questions. Instead, he kept the topic relatively light-hearted. "I prolly kicked when I was inside Mom lots, though, so I bet I earned it somehow." He said. 

She mentioned her own father, one who seemed quite knowledgeable when it cam to hunting birds. "So...You did a lot of birdhunting growing up then, huh?" He asked. It interested him to learn more- as he enjoyed hunting partridges and pheasants especially. They were a good sized-bird, enough for a good snack, and they also had pretty feathers. Unlike the geese, of course, they didn't have broad, strong wings and a wedge-like beak at the end of a long, whip-like neck. "I don't think I ever seen anyone catch a dove," He admitted softly, hoping he might prompt a bit of a story from Zsuzsa. He'd seen plenty of doves before- particularly the pale-brown mounring doves and the slate coloured ring-necked doves. They'd sit side by side, fat little creatures with disarmingly pretty eyes, and coo softly once the morning light began to creep in through the trees...But he'd never known how to catch one. Nor had he ever noticed how they sunbathed in the dust on the ground- so he had some learning to do. 

He was tearing a bit of meat out of the bird when she asked about his fight again, and it let go just as she punctuated her question. "Whoops," Bronco said, brushing a bit of blood splatter from his cheeks. "But no, nah, it wasn't on pack lands. My friend, she's a travelling medic, so she'd go from pack to pack, helpin' others out," He said. "She's a real gooder. Her name's Sugar Glider, in case you ever meet her." He said. He drew in a breath. "I heard a commotion one day while I was out scouting, an' found her pinned down by some...Guy who looked like he was...I dunno. He had her pinned, and she's tiny, an' she's not the kind to pick a fight, so I bowled him over and pinned him down, make him see what it feels like." He said. It'd been the first time he'd really been able to summon the courage to potentially hurt someone- but he'd let the male go once he'd realized how close he was to actually killing him. He shrugged. "I don't like hurtin' others. But I like it even less when wolves I care about're getting hurt."
riflette la colpa, alimenta l'odio
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#18
For the duration of the coming moments, Zsuzsa listened to Bronco speak. Her hunger was too overbearing as this was her first suitable meal of an avian (really of anything sizable) in quite some time.  There was no time wasted savoring the meaty, fatty parts of her goose. Bronco’s moniker came from a lineage where equestrian names were passed down. A small smile appeared at the corner of her tainted muzzle of red when the young male mentioned it could have been from being a kicker in his mother. It made her think fondly of her own mother, wondering if she had been a pawful herself in her mother’s womb. It also made her think fondly of her two stillborn siblings, who she would never know or meet. They never made it to see the light of day and wondered if perhaps her mother found their kicks in her womb at one point.
 
Bronco inquired about bird hunting. She chewed a tough slab of meat thoughtfully before explaining. ”Well,” Zsuzsa started, swallowing. ”Sort of. Started tagging along when I was six-ish months old and shadowed him. Birds are drawn to food sources or cover by any water nearby, so you’re usually in a limited space. You have to think and assume you have feline reflexes if you want to catch smaller things like doves, which could be hard.” It was an interesting philosophy her father held in a world where it was canines versus felines. ”He observed the ways of the bobcat and used their techniques into his own. They are brilliant teachers of bird-catching, really.” Zsuzsa had no qualms with felines as most other canines did. She respected them as long as they respected her.
 
Elaborating further on his scars, her sable ears flicked at the name. Sugar Glider. Interesting name. The Mackenzie would keep that name in mind for future reference if she happened to stumble upon the smaller being. After his story came to the pivotal turning point of pinning the enemy down, her ears preened forward. ”So what happened then? Did he end up running off?” Zsuzsa couldn’t imagine seeing Bronco before her tearing into the neck of another, as he mentioned he didn’t like hurting others, but wondered how his strategy of pinning the other down scared off the assailant exactly.
TEMPORARILY AT REDHAWK CALDERA UNTIL SPRING DUE TO BWP
Finishing threads, please feel free to skip Zsu in group threads if needed
Loner
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#19
She told him of her father, who had seemingly learned his own hunting tactics from a bobcat- which was an interesting method to say the least. Had he managed to do so without the bobcat getting intimidated or irritated with being watched? It turned out to be a successful endeavour though, when he was both able to lear the techniques for himself and pass them down to his daughter. Bronco's heart ached for a moment; he wished he'd had a story like that to share about his own father. "Your Dad, he sounds like a pretty smart guy," He said softly, as he focused back on his goose for a few minutes to keep him from settling too deeply into thoughts about his own father. 

She asked him again about the male he'd fended off, and he nodded. "Ran off once I let him go. Never seen him again but...I think I'd know him if I saw him." He admitted. "Dark wolf, all black fur, prolly about my age...But he had a sort of...Pinkish nose. Yellowish eyes." He said, and started tearing into the goose again. He shrugged, a moment later, after he'd swallowed what he'd had in his mouth. "I don't expect to see him again. Not sure what I'd be expected to do." He admitted. He'd saved Sugar Glider from him- but if he happened to come across the dark-pelted young male, simply minding his business out in the woodlands, what then? Should he attack him again to punish him further, or should he pin him down to interrogate him? There was no way the other male wouldn't recognize Bronco- as he'd been the one to rake his fangs across the bridge of his muzzle, leaving behind very recognizeable markings.
riflette la colpa, alimenta l'odio
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#20
Apologies for the delay, classes have been crazy this week. Congrats on the new pack. :D

The story of her patriarch had seemingly enriched Bronco and he complimented on his intelligence. Her father had discernment and sharpness about him that was highly gifted, perhaps by too much.  Zsuzsa’s pride in her bloodline and origins was a double-edged sword to her. The Mackenzie received the gift of astuteness from her family line that consisted of resilience and perseverance, but the rest of the world didn’t see the darker side of control and oppression. In the manner of Bronco, Zsuzsa did not want to dwell on the topic of her father either. ”Once upon a time, yes.” She responded, but judging by the tone her voice took, it was a topic she wanted to drop.
 
Indulging in the meaty and tender parts of her goose, Zsuzsa was content to listen to the rest of Bronco’s story. The antagonist fit the role of an evil character: darkly cloaked, bright eyes she could imagine flashing with an unhinged hunger of fight. Thankfully the assailant was not seen since that time, and Zsuzsa would be sure to keep the description in the back of memory if she so happened to encounter the same wolf on her own terms. ”From the sound and look of it, seems like you would be able to handle whatever comes your way. There’s a lot of bad out there nowadays.” From being a lone wolf, she saw the other side of the coin without having a pack to protect you and provide nourishment to stay alive. Encountering Bronco today had been a treat so far and she felt somewhat of what a ‘normal’ life would be.
TEMPORARILY AT REDHAWK CALDERA UNTIL SPRING DUE TO BWP
Finishing threads, please feel free to skip Zsu in group threads if needed
Loner
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#21
wc: 461
Archiving as it's out-of-date, and hasn't been replied to in over 2 weeks. Would always be happy to have another one though :)
He'd been working away almosy idly on the goose, but he paused slightly when her tone shifted after he mentioned her father. Wordlessly, he licked his lips and dropped his gaze to the dusting of brown and beige feathers on the ground before him, and then he went back to eating. There was no further communication on the matter needed- and Bronco knew tone shifts well enugh to know that perhaps she didn't want to hear compliments about her father. Maybe she didn't want to talk about him at all- and as someone who had lost their own father, Bronco understood, as much as he was able to, and quietly went back to eating his catch. While he might not be the sort to pick up on all subtle signals, when he sensed that there were boundaries being established, he was careful to mind them.

He'd noticed that there was something about Zsuzsa which made her hold back a bit. He'd offered kindly to help warm her up after her dunk in the water, but she'd stiffened- so he hadn't pushed it. Now, he sensed that there might be another pontential trigger set that he'd only noticed before it could get pulled. Still, he didn't begrudge her for having them. He could walk through someone's minefile so long as they held his (proverbial) hand and guided him through it.

She seemed to put some faith in him, and while she might not have been willing to put her safety in his hands, she at least acknowledged that his own safety wasn't something he'd have to worry about, though she seemed aware that there were rumour creeping around the area about dangerous wolves. For a moment, he thought she might have been referring to the Saints or Ursus- but given the fact she didn't seem to have any affiliations to a pack of her own, he wondered if perhaps she wasn't referring to them at all. The world was a huge place- and it was completely likely that she was referring to the fact that no matter where you went...There would always be wolves who would be a cause for concern.

“I've heard,” He said softly. “Y'know...But it's a bit safer, at least, if you're in a pack.” He said, and the tone of his voice shifted a bit. He shifted his weight a bit too, getting a bit more comfortable, but making sure that his posture was still relaxed. “I live in a pack called Moonspear, it's...the biggest mountain in that direction,” He said, gesturing with a paw. He flicked it, once he realized that a feather had gotten itself embedded in the fur on the top of his foot. “D'you have any plans of joining a pack?” He asked.

Their conversation continued, polite, whle they ate, until the eventually finished their meals, leaving behind little other than a pile of feathers, and a couple rubbery goose feet. When he went on his way and headed back to the mountain, he thought to himself that she might make a nice packmate- and maybe, indeed, she might one day find her way to Moonspear.