Four Dirty Paws
"I wouldn't fight it."
"Speak for yourself, old timer. I want out!"
Zipper flew around the his large clear home. It was many times larger than his first, but being a dragonfly he couldn't tell by how much. His companion landed on a stick exhausted by his attempt at escape.
"Hey old timer. You escaped once. I remember you flying back. You purposely got captured. Why?"
Zipper landed beside his young friend, "Let me tell you a story. Look out; do you see that forest? You see those trees? If you were to ask them to tell you a story, of the many lives of stories, they'd tell you the one I'm about to tell you now. It is the story of courage and sacrifice. It is the greatest story of the forest. it is a story ground in truth. I would know, I was there. I grew up near the same pond in the same meadow as you did. The humans caught me there as they did you. I was placed in a much smaller home than this one. I thought it a prison. The young human was pushing the Scarlakin which ate the grass, the day my home wobbled off the wood to the ground. I was disoriented, but I managed to find an open barrier and made my escape. I was so eager to be free, I didn't realize that I was in the forest. This is where my story begins; somewhere in the middle of their beginning. The story I tell you is of us all, but it will be remembered long after I'm dead as her legend."
Zipper flew towards the trees. He was free. He was finally free! Without warning a set of talons gripped around him and carried him off.
"You're with the bees! you're a spy!"
"What are you talking about? I'm no spy. I was a prisoner of the humans," Zipper pleaded to the young female sparrow that held him tightly.
"We shall see!" She veered through the trees until she arrived at a clearing. All manner of beasts and birds gathered there. A large owl perched on a log. All eyes were on him.
"Schull! Schull! I've caught a spy! Schull!" The sparrow desposited Zipper in front of the owl, Schull.
"Good work Loni," The owl told her, patting her with a large wing.
"Please! I'm no spy. I don't know what she's talking about. I was a prisoner of the humans. Please, believe me," Zipper begged.
"Why should we," Schull asked.
An old, scarred hawk flew to the log, "Because he speaks truth. I've seen him many times behind the humans clear barrier. I have a favorite perch near their nest."
"Well then, if General Garsch speaks for you, then you are free," Schull cleared his throat, "after we have defeated the bees. They could capture you and torture you for information on us. I'm sorry, but you will have to remain to after we are victorious."
"Torture! What is going on," Zipper cried out.
"Listen, and know," Schull said sagely, "Forest beasts! Zalthia has declared war on the birds for control of the skies. We've come to you to seek aid in our fight. The bees and their killer barbs must be stopped. Will any of you stand with us?"
"The earth is my home. I do not fly. Your fight is not my fight," One squirrel said. The squirrels scurried up the trees and left the gathering.
The rabbits turned their backs as well, "We are not warriors." Soon the snaked, badgers, shrews, and mice left.
"Please will any of you stand beside us," Loni pleaded to those still assembled.
A massive momma bear stepped forward, "I Pharron, and the the bears stand with you. These bees chased away the honey makers. I look forward to their demise."
"Thank you Pharron," Schull said.
"I am Kodi Blackwolf, Alpha of my pack. This is Elny Greywolf, Beta of my pack. Our pack will run in your war," A regal wolf said. He sat before the largest pack of wolves ever assembled. Even Kodi Blackwolf and his warrior pack was know as far as the meadow.
The forest grew quiet. "Will any one else stand with us," Garsch asked as he flew around the assembly.
"I will," a small voice called out among those still gathered.
"Who said that," Schull asked.
"Me," said a small fox. She stepped out into the open. Several wolves barked in laughter. kodi stamped his paw, and the pack grew quiet.
"We would be proud to have you run with our pack, little warrior," Kodi said bowing his shaggy head.
"I have no den. I speak for no fox, but myself," she told them.
"Every one is welcome. What is your name," Garsch asked, again landing on the log.
"The fox looked terrified, but when she spoke, it was with a steady voice, "Raena, sir. Raena Redfox."
"Welcome Raena, Redfox," Loni tweeted.
"I will join you too! I can not fight, but I can tell your story to all who would listen," Zipper blurted out.
"Welcome then. What might we call you," Schull asked.
"The humans call me Zipper."
"Well Zipper the story starts here and now. Remember it well," Garsch said to him. Zipper nodded. Zipper flew over to Kodi, Elny, and the young fox, Raena. He perched upon Raena's head.
"Might I have a ride," Zipper asked her.
"Sure," Raena said.
The sun had risen and fallen many times. A winter breeze blew through the trees. Many beasts hid in their dens and nests, during the battle, deciding to hibernate and hope for the best. Several others changed their mind and now fought alongside the birds, bears, and wolves. But many who stood up in the beginning still fought the bees. Zipper held on to Raena, "The Arrow," as they now called her. She was swift, her body forming an arrow when she ran. Garsch was the first to notice it when he flew above her one day.
One sting wasn't enought to take down the bears or even Kodi and Elny, but it would stop Raena. A swarm buzzed behind them. Raena darted through the underbrush almost knocking Zipper off. The bee General Barrow had been personally put in charge of hunting down Raena. A stray bee flew ahead of her. She jumped bitting it, midair. The barb fell to the ground.
"Zipper! Water," Raena called to him. He left go, just she jumped. She plunged head first into the biting cold river. Zipper flew and hid. The swarm flew right past them both, and kept going deeper into the forest. Zipper waited for what seemed like an eternity, and finally Raena emerged.
"Raena are you ok," Zipper asked.
"I'm cold, very cold," she told him, "Let go back to the clearing." Zipper grabbed on and Raena ran back to the clearing. Elny met her there.
"Raena, my dear, you're soaking wet! Come and warm youself." Raena liad down upon the ground exhausted. Elny curled around her to warm her.
"Good news," Schull exclaimed, "We've located the hive!" The animals gave a cheer.
"We fight one last time! We take down the queen and the rest will fall," Garsch rallied.
"To the hunt," Kodi exclaimed.
"I will take down the Hive," Pharron said, "You find the queen!"
Zipper took a deep breath. This was an all out assualt. He would not run. Not after all he had been through. He tightened his grip on the hair on Raena's head. She stood up and shook the water off the best she could. Kodi looked at her and she nodded.
Raena went down the forest slope. The trees rustled in the wind, weeping their leaves. Raena's paws left dirty tracks in the snow. She stood beside Kodi and Elny, with the pack behind them. Pharron and the bears barreled down the hill and attacked the tree with claws and teeth. With a mighty crack the tree fell, taking the hive with it. The air exploded black, the bees blotting out the sky. The bears swatted and bit at the bees.
Kodi gave the howl and the wolves plunged into the fight. Raena became the arrow snapping bees out of the air with each leap. There were too many bees though. Wolves and bears stumbled around sick, no longer able to fight. the bees poison surging through them. So many fallen. Raena cried and gave her best howl.
Then she saw her. The largest bee she had ever seen. That must be the queen. Raena ran as fast her paws could carry her. The bees surged around her. Zipper was knocked from her. He was surrounded by bees, he flew back as fast as he could until he found Kodi, he howled over Elny who lay still.
The bees stopped midair. They were confused. They flew in all directions, but none fought. Zipper looked around. The queen bee lay on the ground. Raena limbed into the forest. The beasts and birds cheered in victory, but no one seemed to notice Raena's disappearance.
"So what happened then?"
"The forest celebrated for day. The honey makers even came back. When no one could find Raena, it is said that the wolves howled for days for their fallen, Elny, and even little Raena. I heard Kodi speak of her shortly before I left the forest. He said, 'Any wolf would have been proud to have such a small warrior with such courage and heart among their pack.' I do know that foxes from all over came to the clearing. The bears rolled stones into the clearing and made a stone arrow in her memory. Several stone circles were made to honor all who fell. Kodi made Elny's with his own paws. But Raena's is still the biggest."
"So why did you return?"
"The forest was no place for a dragon fly. I flew all across the land carrying with me the story of Raena and the birds fight against the bees. When all manner of creatures bean spreading the story, I knew my job was done, so I returned to the safety of the humans," Zipper told his companion.
"What happened to Raena?"
"No one knows. There are stories of course. I did hear one, more than once mind you, that Raena had no den, because she was like you and me, a companion of a human. They say she returned to her human partner."
"What can a human do?"
"Love. They can love like no beast ever could. They can love, and they can heal. I'd like to think that she out there right now, warm and safe curled up, by a fire with a human right now. I'd like to believe, but I just don't know."
"Maybe this home isn't so bad."
"Maybe this is the only home we were ever meant to have."