posted on Jun, 3 2016 @ 10:18 PM
For a hundred yards he threaded a maze of interwoven branches of the Manistee National Forrest in Michigan, Balancing on one limb with one hand on
another or on the trunk of the tree, jumping from tree to tree and branch to branch high above the lush ground below. It was with a feeling of
ecstatic freedom that he ran through the forest branches in his "war form" as dad called it, half way between human and wolf.
This, was living! This, was Freedom!
Then he spotted his prey, a wild boar with five inch tusks on either side of its snout rutting in the dirt beside a large Oak tree. He slowed his pace
and moved more warily and at last slowly and with extreme caution he traversed the lowest branches, peering eagerly into the moon streaked night until
he was directly above the pig. He paused for just a moment then dropped directly on the pigs back and with lightning speed one arm encircled the huge
neck, the other grabbed the lower jaw, his feet hit the ground and he stood, raising the great beast off its feet, roaring and pawing the air
uselessly. With one bite the boar was dead, it's windpipe ripped out and neck twisted and broken.
Milo placed his foot on the body of his kill and, raising his eyes to the full moon, threw back his head and voiced the wild and wonderful cry of his
people. Then he picked up his kill and proceeded back to camp to share the bounty with his family and friends.
As he enters the camp all eyes are on him.
About five feet tall, covered in long shiny black hair. He drops the boar by the fire pit and pulls on a grey robe and sandals as he assumes human
Now he looks like an athletic ten year old boy, well proportioned and somewhat muscular like an acrobat. Brown eyes and short dark hair.
Krystal says, "You got your kill".
He looks at her, almost a month before her tenth birthday, black hair and brown eyes, like his, their great-grandfathers had been brothers so they
were cousins, but not really close enough to call each other that.
Milo replies, "I did." And he grins. "I got lucky, but I cheated, I used the war form."
Krystal frowning, comments, " That's not cheating, all's fair when your belly button and backbone are rubbing together. I missed mine."
Milo says, "You'll get yours, when the time is right."
During the day they slept, on the ground in human or animal form or sometimes in the trees in the "war form", bi-pedal but more animal than anything
else. Six of them, Milo and his dad Joseph Latrans, Krystal and her mother Velma Pardus, and Jerome with his dad Roman Latrans, one of them was always
on guard. Jerome at 15 was the oldest of the kids, but they weren't out here for him this was a training trip for the two youngest, Milo and Krystal,
they had started changing earlier that year and their parents agreed it was time they learned how to hunt and use their different forms. Unlike Jerome
and his dad, they were a rare breed of shape changer, they were able to take both the wolf and panther forms and needed to learn how to use them both
and gain some measure of control over the change before they could be trusted to return to civilization and their normal lives. They practiced
changing shapes for two hours a day, every day, before they were allowed to run. They practiced running and hunting as a wolf pack, everyone had their
own job to do in the pack, the kids would act as Sheppard dogs and direct the prey towards the adults for the kill. In Panther form and the war form
they were solitary hunters.
The next evening, on the second night of the full moon, she was literally sprinting through the tangled branches. The moon bright enough and her eyes
so accustomed to the night time that she could see everything in sharp contrast like a black and white photo. Like a ghost, Krystal ran noiselessly
from tree to tree; running lightly along a branch, then leaping through space at the end of another, only to seize that of a farther tree in her rapid
As she approached a clearing in the woods, she dropped to the forest floor and assumed the full animal form she had chosen for the night, the panther.
She smelled them first, two deer. Looking up wind she spotted them moving gradually towards a creek bed for water. Slowly she moved closer, always
keeping the breeze in her face, she didn't want to give away her position or all she would see was two white tails waving bye-bye to her as they
disappeared into the woods.
Barely twenty feet behind the two deer she crouched, Krystal the Panther, her fur shining in the light of the full moon. Cautiously she moved a paw
forward, soundlessly placing it before she lifted the next. Moving only when the light breeze stirred the grass enough to cover any noise she might
make. Slowly, one paw at a time, she advanced; her belly low, almost touching the ground, a great cat preparing to spring upon its prey, just the tip
of her tail nervously twitching side to side.
Now she was within ten feet of the two unsuspecting deer, carefully she drew her hind feet well up beneath her body, the great muscles rolling under
the beautiful black silken fur.
She was now crouching so low that she seemed flattened to the earth except for the upward bend of her glossy back as she gathered for the spring.
Knowing she couldn't take both deer with one leap she focused on the larger of the two, the young buck.
Her tail laying straight behind her she froze for just a moment, then, with a loud roar, she sprang...
Krystal, had been taught well. To anyone less informed the roar as she leaped would have seemed thoughtless and unnecessary, but Krystal knew that,
like her in this form, wild animals are extraordinarily quick and have almost unbelievable powers of hearing. To them, the unexpected scrape of one
blade of grass across another was as effective a warning as her loudest roar, she also knew that she could not make that leap without making some
Her scream was not a warning, it was calculated to freeze her prey in fear for the fraction of an instant which would be sufficient for her claws to
sink into the buck's flesh and hold him beyond hope of escape.
So far as the buck was concerned, Krystal reasoned correctly. The animal froze, for just an instant, but that instant was quite long enough to prove
his downfall as her teeth sank into his neck, her front paws holding his shoulders and her rear claws tearing out his stomach.
Taking on the war form of her people she picked up the 200 pound deer and started running back to camp.
As she enters the camp, Milo jumps to his feet and says, "You got your kill". And he smiles proudly at her.
Krystal, drops the carcass of the deer by the fire, picks up her robe and covers herself then she transforms back into human form and with a huge
smile replies, "I got it in one leap!"
Milo comments, "I knew you could and I told you it would happen when it was time."
All six of them gather around the deer and Roman tells Jerome, "Run this back to the resort and tell Aaron and Karyn our complements then come back,
shouldn't take more than an hour, it should just be getting light out when you get back."