Troubled Company
by Renn

Disclaimer: Nope, the Deathlands setting is in no way, shape, or form mine. Nor is any profit
being made from this little story. As for the characters, that's another story. The chars in this
story _do_ belong to several folks. As it happens, Feral and Kitty belong to me. If you already
have permission to write about either of them, you probably already know it. -People with
permission includes the owners of the other chars used in this story.- If you feel like jotting
down anything about Feral and Kitty, Email me and/or Chris Van Deelen about it!

Author's notes: This takes place directly after the upcoming story, 'Devil's Attic' by Chris Van
Deelen. Want to know more about these chars and their stories? Read his stories to satisfy your
curiousity! [plug, plug] After 'Devil's Attic' is written, if there are any discrepencies between our
stories, ignore them, please. This is just an off-shoot from his series of stories, and his are to be
deferred to. Well, now that that's taken care of, onto the story!


Around 60 miles outside of the pre-dark city of Debuque, IA., a band of travellers rested
uneasily in the chilly night air. A big, heavily scarred man tenderly cradled his lover close to
him, careful to not jostle her. Across the fire, a dusky purple mutant girl checked on three men,
all of whom are injured, though only one is serious. Ironically, the two men who are from the
past were injured least of all, but are at the most risk from being in heavy states of shock. This
is no longer the world they grew up in, but the one that their people -their time- created. The
mutations they've seen, that came close to killing their group, hideous beyond what they'd seen
in laboratories in their time.
Montague huddled in on himself, aware of the mutant girl, Gedoena, or Ged as she was called,
as she covered his shoulders with an extra blanket; his thoughts drifting over the events of the
past weeks. He didn't even flinch when her tail brushed over his leg as she turned to check the
dressings on the man from this time.
It all started when an unauthorized jump took place in the facility he worked at. It ended just
days ago when they came out of the redoubt that the unauthorized jumpers had started at. The
dusky woman, Gitana, she was hurt rather badly, and pregnant, making their situation harder.
The former Green Beret still couldn't see what she saw in Brett Maverick; the man was covered
with scars, making him one ugly son of a bitch to look at. The former sec man wasn't too sure
what to think of the two mutant females. Ged, the more obvious mutant, was terrifying to watch
in a fight; her almond shaped eyes almost glowed with blood lust, but much of the time, she
seemed to be a little girl trapped in a woman's body. The other mutant, however, she sent
shivers up his spine. While passing for human at first glance, the recently named Feral was, just
that: feral. She also seemed to wear a nearly permanent murderous glare whenever she glanced
in the direction of the other displaced man; the scientist Matt Chance. Montague had seen Feral
fighting the mutations; it still made him shudder in revulsion how she and the cougar had
worked as a team, showing just how inhuman she really was. Now Ged was bending over Joe
Bennet, wounded while he'd protected Gitana and Chance. The scent of blood made the cougar
and the other mutant glance over. Much to Montague's discomfort, both got up and padded
towards the badly injured man. He couldn't over-hear the whispered conversation between the
two mutants. He was glad of that, afraid that he might hear how they planned to cook him if he
died; no, that wasn't fair. They were working together, Ged's superior strength easily lifting the
barrel-chested man while Feral changed the dressing on Joe's back; the cougar seemed to be
watching for any attacks on the women.


Ged sat back near Matt after she finished her self-imposed tasks, and idly watched as Feral
quietly padded towards Maverick and Gitana. Matt lifted his head as over the fire, watching as
Feral opened her mouth a little while she inhaled deeply. Maverick's gruffly asked, "What do
you want, Feral?" went unanswered by the girl. She headed towards the packs, lifted a few
empty ones up, and melted into the pre-dawn darkness with the huge cougar by her side.
Matt's voice was gruff as he answered softly, already having learned an important lesson of the
Deathlands; keep your voice down, it could keep you alive and free. "She has something similar
to a 'Jacobson's Organ'." He went on in his explanation at the annoyed puzzled glances tossed
his way. "It's like another sense that cats have. Between taste and smell, it's located in the roof
of her mouth."
"Why the fireblast did she use that near us, then?" the scarred man griped as he hugged Gitana
closer to him.
"Who knows, Brett?" answered Ged in her soft voice. "Who can really know why Feral does as
she does?"
Silence fell then, as the group tried for a few more hours of sleep before the sunrise would
expose them to the new days dangers.


She liked this time of day, she always had. It felt good, leaving the norms behind to hunt with
her friend again. The cougar's thoughts, open to her, reflected the same sense of joy and
rightness: the two of them, hunting, with only each other for company.
The darkness lifted to shades of gray as the sun slowly rose, the golden rays not yet over the
horizon. It was too chilly for Feral to truly hunt the way she wished from the start, so she only
stripped out of her clothing after running a mile with her companion. At a rock, she set down
the empty bags she'd taken with her, pulled off her outer clothing, leaving on the body stocking
she always wore; absently rubbed her palm over her still healing belly wounds, and stretched.
The cougar waited patiently, her muscles just warmed up by the run, and coughed out, making
Feral laugh softly, "Sorry, must hunt berries first..if any to find. Gitana with cub..she need, you
smelled it, too." The big cat rubbed against her leg, and the two set off, finding early blueberries
and blackberries that hadn't been touched by frost nor eaten by foxes and other animals.
Surprisingly, while the cat scouted around for rabbits that might be near the fruit, the mutant
picked enough berries to fill one bag. Her fingers stained by berry juices, she licked them, then
shook her head back, a grin on her face. She could smell free running water nearby; it was time
for a drink, maybe a bath if it wasn't too cold.
After a short walk, Feral found Kitty -what the norms had taken to calling the cougar-, basking
in the early morning light on a large boulder, washing her face by long swipes of her tongue on
her paw, then brushing the paw over her face. The woman tested the water and pouted slightly,
the water was too cold as of yet to fully bathe in it, but she could wash herself, much as her
companion did. Happily untying a handkerchief from her right calf, she stripped out of her body
stocking, and sat on a low, flat rock in the shallows of the river. Dipping the cloth into the water
repeatedly, she washed her face and neck; water dripped down her spine, making her shiver
with cold and sheer sensation. Though the others knew of her enhanced sense of smell, sight
and hearing, they didn't realize that it extended to her sense of touch. Her belly wounds,
delivered by a mad-man's idea of a creation, had stung and hurt her far more than it would
someone else. While used to dealing with her enhanced abilities, it was the main reason as to
why she had avoided norms for so long. They didn't smell good to her, the casual touches she'd
observed might well have driven her to excruciating pain over time, and norms were loud, their
voices rang in her ears, giving her headaches during the rare times she ventured into posts.
Her legs curled up, she shivered as she stretched first one, then the other out, washing with the
chilly water, getting the scents of the others off of her skin. Her nose wrinkled as she considered
why she hadn't just left the group when they'd reached their time again. It would have been easy
enough; she cleaned her healing belly wounds carefully while she thought. Back in the white-
coat's lab, she had determined that she and her cougar friend would be well rid of the norms, but
for some reason, one she couldn't quite put her finger on, she couldn't leave right now. Her voice
more a whisper, to keep it from bouncing off the water, she whispered justifications for not
leaving the group where they were. "Who else know Gitana needs berries now? Or can tell if
wound healing wrong before fixable? Or even hunt.."
Kitty nodded as Feral's thoughts flashed in her mind, agreeing that the others, except for Ged,
were incredibly loud and clumsy. How they ever got a kill was almost beyond her, except she
knew that their blasters helped them out. Loud, smelly things to her, good only in desperate
situations. She preferred to chill her prey in a more natural way.
Done with their bathing, the two stretched, the mutant girl redressing for warmth. Again, she
paused in thought, then at a leisurely jog, she and the cougar retrieved and filled several skins
with water. Pleased that she and Kitty had had some time to themselves, as well as successfully
finding berries for the pregnant norm, Feral inhaled deeply, only to freeze. The wind had
shifted, and she scented deer. It wouldn't hurt to look, flashed through both mutant and cougar
minds. She set down the water and berry bags, and the two slid into the brush, following the
tantalizing odor.
They found a clearing; in it, a young buck chewed on grass, glancing up periodically, on the
look out for predators. Feral's lips drew back into a grin as she saw a useless, dangling half-
formed leg near the back right hindquarter. Not only would there be fresh meat today, it'd be a
mercy killing, as the fifth leg was a deadweight for the buck. If she and Kitty didn't chill it,
another predator would.
While her telepathic and empathic abilities with animals meant she could actually will an
animal to come to her and hold still while she chilled it, she only did that in the most severe of
times, preferring the rush of the hunt.
They'd done this many times before, the cougar silently slipping to the other side of the
clearing. Soon, the cat's golden eyes peered through the brush. The buck's head lifted, but as
both hunters froze to perfect stillness, he went back to grazing. Their minds now together, Feral
waited as Kitty crept as close as she could, without leaving the brush.
The buck glanced around nervously as the clearing went quiet of most sounds, except for the
screaming of a blue jay. Feral's muscles tensed as she silently drew a knife from her hip sheath.
The mutant charged the buck, startling it into leaping forward, away from her.
Kitty's paw lashed out as she pounced directly into the buck's path, sweeping his front legs out
from under him. He crashed heavily to the ground, the high-pitched scream of his struggle to
regain his feet cut off as the large cat latched onto the bottom of his throat, crushing his
The cougar holding him down, the buck only caught a flash of movement in his terror. Feral
leaped over Kitty to slit the exposed jugular vein. A spray of blood spurt upwards and outwards,
splattering the predators as the large heart pumped out the deer's lifeblood. In moments, an eery
roar echoed out of the clearing; the combined vocals of cat and mutant, still joined in the thrill
of the hunt.
"You stay, guard meat. Don't eat though." The cougar grumbled but licked her paw in
compliance. It took around twenty minutes for Feral to wash off the kill's blood, redress in all
her clothing, and gather up the bags she'd set down so that she could hunt.
"Ahhh" both happily indulged in smelling the air as the woman field dressed the young buck.
Luckily, it hadn't been too big, so not much of the meat would be left behind. While cutting the
venison into more manageable pieces, Feral cut the liver out, sliced a small piece for herself as a
treat, and tossed the rest into the air. Though she'd been acting as if she was about to fall asleep,
the cougar caught it in her mouth and laid down to eat the delicacy.
The bags filled, the girl cleaned her knives and glanced at the remains of the buck. While she
didn't particularly care for cracking the bones and sucking out the marrow, it was something both
she and her cougar usually did, and the marrow didn't taste all that bad, really. But, there were
self-heats back in the supplies of the camp, and they seemed to fill the requirements that the
marrow supplied. Other predators would take eat and scavenge the skeleton, she knew that the
intestines and inner organs would be the first to go.
Kitty growled low, her ears flattened on her head as she sniffed at a shrub. Feral smelled the
first of the scavengers to arrive: a coyote. She stood up and tugged on Kitty's ears, saying, "You
done bathing yet? You sloooooow." With a final lick to wash off blood, the big cat gained its
feet for the trek back to the campsite.


In the campsite, Matt Chance tried to help Ged in checking Joe's bandages again, his
knowledge of medicine helping out, but he was nowhere close to being as gentle as Feral at the
task. At the thought, the scientist from the past paused and glanced over at Maverick. The big
man had been treated as their leader, more or less. The Deathlands seemed to encourage
extremes, from the little he'd seen. While treating Maverick as their leader, they were all
stubbornly independent. The wounds received during the fighting of the past days were looked
at as normal. While he kept his distance with Feral, he'd seen her limping from a badly bruised
knee. She, as well as Maverick, Gitana, Ged and Joe, had treated it as a very minor injury. It
wasn't life-threatening; aside from favoring that leg some at first, she ignored it. The doctor in
Chance was appalled. At the very least, she should be icing her knee, and keeping all walking to
a minimum. It hadn't taken long for the realization to hit both time displaced men; but it hit the
scientist harder than it did the Green Beret: the struggle for survival of the fittest was simply a
way of life out here for everyone.
Currently, the situation called for Feral to do much of the hunting, she was best suited for that
task, her injury merely a nuisance. Gitana and Joe, if pressed, could fire blasters in defense, but
not much more, their injuries making travel all but impossible at the moment. Ged and
Maverick took care of the two wounded and planned out where to head for when everyone was
healed enough to stand travel. Aside from small things around the camp; helping Ged with Joe,
gathering wood for a small fire, Matt and Montague were a concern for the rest of the group.
The state of deep shock both were in at their new world might chill them soon.
Matt had something more than shock that might kill him. He shivered at the memory of the
first night here.


-The First Night-

The night temperatures started to dip down alarmingly. Even the blankets and supplies in the
redoubt wouldn't be able to keep their injured bodies warm enough. Feral's head tipped to the
side, listening intently to something. Then, ignoring Maverick's orders to make herself useful by
starting a fire, she sat down, her face scrunched in concentration. Though weakened, Joe and
Gitana grasped for blasters when the howling came into sound range. Wolves, a pack of wolves
were heading their way.
"Fireblast it all to fucking hell, girl! What the fuck are you doing?" Maverick snapped as he
crossed over to Feral. The cougar growled softly and stepped into the path of the large man,
effectively stopping him from reaching her friend. One emerald eye flicked open.
"They no hurt," the girl waved at the group, "need warmth, sleep like litter, all piled together."
Montague and Matt paled at the simple explanation. If they understood the choppy sentence
correctly, they'd be sleeping with wolves tonight. Montague muttered lowly, "Shit, how can she
_do_ that?"
Feral slanted a sharp glance at the former security man, and answered simply, "I mutie, stupe."
Ged didn't even look up as she finished cleaning Joe's wounds. "Feral's an animal empath or
telepath, we think." The dusky purple mutant suddenly grinned as she remembered a line from a
movie she'd seen during her pre-dark stay with the white-coats, and sang softly, "If I could talk to
the animals...well, she can. She's right, too, Brett. Gitana and Joe will need all the warmth we
can give them."
Sighing, Maverick nodded reluctantly, seeing the sound logic of sleeping with a wolf pack
tonight. "Okay, then. We'll need to set up watches." The weight of the situation suddenly hit
the big man. His group was in bad shape. Gitana and Joe shouldn't be moved much, Chance
didn't strike him as a good choice for a watch, and Montague didn't look too good, although he
wasn't injured badly, just a few bruises and slash marks. He, Ged, and Feral would have to pull
all the watches. The mutants, Feral in particular, had superior hearing and vision, that was the
groups' only advantage at the moment.
"No need watches, wolves do it." Maverick looked hard at Feral as he crossed back to Gitana.
"What do you mean, girl?"
The woman stroked her cougar behind the ears and shrugged. "Wolves always watch.
Something come, they know. Then I know."
Maverick chewed on that thought. The group as a whole had seen more than they should have.
Watching the creation of the Deathlands had deeply affected even the most hardened of them.
Very reluctantly, he agreed. "Fine, we all sleep tonight, but if they hear of anything, and I mean
ANYTHING coming this way, you wake me and Ged up, got that?"
Her nose wrinkled some, but the girl nodded, the uneven lengths of her hair swinging around
her face.
The matter settled, Maverick eased another stick into the fire, muttering loudly when the first
gleaming eyes of the large pack predators came into view as they padded into the camp. "Hell,
gonna smell like wolf for a week after tonight."
Feral nodded and commented casually, "Yes, improvement for you, Amante."
The big man's head whipped around in disbelief, but a smile touched his lips as he heard a
small, almost but not quite, giggle from Gitana. Glancing around, he saw Ged fighting back a
chuckle, and Joe's pained grimace had turned into a broad smile. His smile faded as he looked at
the pack. He counted 14 large timber wolves making themselves familiar with the camp. The
firelight showed they ranged in color from the darkest of blacks, to several grays, varying shades
of brown, and one of the purest silver-white. Maverick's gray eyes met and held the black wolf's
gaze. The wolf's lip started to curl up, a low growl rumbling in its throat..
"Look away, stupe!" The sleek body of the cougar knocked the survivalist down. Reflexes
honed by years of living in the Deathlands, Maverick aimed his blaster, only to stop when Ged's
hand held his down.
"Brett, listen to her first."
Angrily he turned, dimly aware of the shocked and horrified eyes of Chance and Montague.
Just as angrily, Feral limped up to the survivalist and glared. "No meet wolf eyes. For them, is
you challenge for pack-place."
That made sense, but it galled the big man to have to back down to an animal. Even if it did
weigh around 200 pounds of sheer bone and muscle. If you backed down once, you might make
a habit of it. Maverick had no such intentions of adding that to the list of his bad habits.
"Amante, please." Gitana's weak voice reminded him of the one rule of the Deathlands:
Survival, no matter the cost. Feral had calmed the wolf with her mind, but after a closer look at
her, he saw the strain near her eyes; right now, for survival's sake, for Gitana's survival in
particular, Maverick nodded curtly.
The tension eased from the others, Feral in particular. She'd suspected that there might be
some problems at first for dominance. Her cougar coughed quietly, touching the strands of the
empathic bond she and the mutant woman shared; they'd been companions for so long, their
bond was stronger than Feral's with animals in general. Elongated canine teeth showed in a grin
as Feral felt the cats thoughts and feelings; the equivalent of a shrug and 'norms, wolves, who
needs such stupe games?'.
Gitana's eyes widened, and her hand clenched for a blaster as a wolf padded towards Feral and
the cougar. Chance swallowed, and momentarily wished for every sensor that had ever been
invented as Feral roughly scratched the wolf's ears. Predator met predator, neither wolf nor
cougar doing more than sniffing the other as Feral linked minds with them.
Lupine, cougar, and mutant minds met, the animals kept calm by the woman, wanting to keep
the pleasing hum of her feelings with them. She made it clear that the wolves were to sleep, just
that, with the others with her for warmth, and to let her know of anything during the continuous
perimeter patrols. Immediately, three unseen wolfen minds flared loudly for attention, showing
that there was nothing more than a fox to the west, a badger to the south, and the cooling scent
trails of rabbits all around.
Little did the others know that part of the reason that animals often filled Feral's wants of their
own choosing was that they were rewarded by an almost euphoric bliss. Her simple gratitude
and pleasure inadvertently sparking a natural high by stimulating and increasing their endorphin
hormones. It was rare for the mutant to have to concentrate to make an animal do as she wished;
though she'd done that as well. To impose her will over an animal, however, was something she
avoided unless there was no other way.
Had the rest of the group known that Feral wasn't actually controlling each wolf, that she'd
merely asked the pack for cooperation, they wouldn't have been so fast to agree to sleep with the
wolves. As it was, they thought the wolf had broken free of the woman's mind when Maverick
had stared it in the eyes, when in truth, it hadn't entered the mutant's mind to try to control the
wolves at all. She saw no reason to do so unless one of the norms or Ged did something very
The wolf yawned suddenly, padded towards Joe; sniffed him, and stretched out alongside the
green-eyed man's body. A grey wolf padded to Joe's other side and did the same thing, the heat
from the blankets and the wolves stopping his shivering. His teeth flashed in the firelight as he
weakly called over, "Thanks, Feral."
She shrugged while scritching the cougar's eternally itchy left ear, her mind more with the
animals that were in the camp and surrounding it than with her human companions. The wolves
scented the weaknesses of the group, urging their hunting instincts to take the easy prey. Only
Feral's small connection with each animal, a spider web tendril linking them with her, kept them
reminded of her wishes for the night.
Her voice surprised the group. "Sleep now, yes?"
Maverick eyed Joe and the wolves. The wolves merely laid beside the wounded man with their
eyes slitted mostly shut. "Alright, this is gonna be the only night we'll sleep without us taking
active watch. Enjoy it as best you can."
Grimly, he watched as wolves padded towards Ged, Montague and Chance, taking up their
places. He smiled to himself at Ged's childlike glee as she carefully curled an arm around a
brown wolf; his hand twitched for his blaster as the wolf heaved a large sigh, but the animal did
nothing else, so he relaxed again.
Only past training kept Montague from screaming as two wolves flanked him. He couldn't
control a shudder as he curled up as tightly as he could under a blanket. The hot stink of wolf-
breath -a sickly-sweet scent of eaten flesh- reached his nose as the more curious of the two
poked its nose under the edge of the blanket. The wet nose touched Montague's forehead for a
moment that seemed to last forever, then withdrew, apparently its curiosity satisfied.
Again, Chance wished to be in his lab. It was so amazing at how the girl controlled the animals
from attacking, and he wanted nothing more than to find out exactly how she did it. The wolves
that suddenly appeared beside him made him uneasy, but his shocked mind kept him treating
everything as if this wasn't his new life and world.
The others settled in, Maverick settled next to Gitana and took her into his arms. Her head
pillowed on his shoulder, he covered them with a blanket, and more felt the wolves than saw
them as they settled next to him and his lover.
Gitana sighed as the heat from Maverick and the wolf next to her warmed her chilled, aching
body. Her voice was very soft as she whispered, "Te amo, Amante." She felt his arm tighten on
her momentarily before she surrendered to the restless oblivion of sleep.

He was in his lab, preparing to examine the two mutant girls. There she was, his little Geddy
and a woman with a bad haircut. Matt stepped forward, a syringe in his hand to give a sedative
to both to make the upcoming examination easier on them. Ged didn't fight it, but the other did;
she screamed in primal rage, saying she'd chill him, she'd chill him.
Time went hazy, and Matt glanced around, again seeing Feral, this time near the groggy cougar,
saying, "If you no give food, YOU food." He felt a wash of fear, but reminded himself that there
were armed guards nearby that could stop her if she rushed at him.
"Damn that Spint!" the scientist yelled silently as the doctor set a cage on the mutants belly.
Chance had seen the creature in there before; a creature that had been genetically created to do
nothing more than eat. The thing had a vile temperament as well and couldn't be stopped once it
was on flesh. He heard the screams of the girl, the creature, and the cougar as Spint opened the
bottom of the cage, inch by inch.
He shook as Spint left the room, flinching as he cleaned the poor girl up. His mind whirled
with confusing thoughts as he washed off the animals saliva and examined the deep claw marks.
Spint was could he get out of this could he get Ged out of there
unharmed? Butterfly bandages would suffice on the wounds. Why was Spint suddenly so crazy?
He reached to unstrap the girl from the table when he glanced down, the stiffening of her
muscles alerting him. He backed away from her as her eyes bored into his, the murderous glare
alarming even the guards.
Chance shifted in his sleep; awe coming over him as he looked down onto the blue-green jewel
that was Earth. It was so beautiful, watching the sun rise over the curvature. Tears stung his
eyes at the wondrous sight. Then he saw several streaks racing towards the North American
continent. His throat closed when lights flashed brightly. Mushroom clouds bloomed close
together, the shock waves distorting the first one; a yell built, starting from his belly, but it
wouldn't release. His hands clenched into tight fists, his body shook as the realization hit him;
nuclear attack. He'd just seen the start of the end of civilization as he knew it. Relentlessly, his
scientific side rattled facts off. Death had taken on a hideous shape for millions.
Streaks from the North American continent raced towards Europe. Radiation would kill
millions more, the nuclear winter would slowly kill many more with the rise of disease and the
loss of crops. His throat was raw, and he couldn't even scream as he helplessly watched. More
mushroom clouds bloomed. How many more died in those blasts? How much death could
happen in one day?!


Chance's eyes snapped open, his body shuddering in remembered horror; he'd seen the world
nearly destroyed. The harsh rasping of his panting made the wolves beside him turn their ears in
his direction, nothing more. The scientist tried to calm himself, it was only a dream, only a
dream, only a dream. C'mon Matt, you're alive and in Iowa, getting Ged home. He refused to
acknowledge he wasn't in his own time anymore.
His breathing more regulated, he glanced around. Geddie slept soundly, her arm curled around
the neck of a brown wolf as if it were a giant stuffed toy. A small smile touched his lips as he
watched her. He heard a snore coming from Joe's blankets. Montague was a mere lump in a
blanket, as were Maverick and Gitana.
Chance looked over the dying fire then, and marveled at the sight of Feral and the huge cougar
curled together, spoon-fashion. He felt something tug at the back of his conscious mind, a
remanent of the dreams haunting him somehow. She'd said she'd chill him when he was
tranquilizing her. His silent laugh was very uneasy. He knew that most people didn't care for
shots, but she took it to extremes.
Two sets of eyes suddenly locked with his. Golden, and emerald flecked with gold, orbs
glowed as if they had inner light of their own His inner laugh died, leaving a cavern of silence in
his mind. The scientific part of Chance marveled at more proof of the girl's mutation; she had
reflective crystals behind her pupils, just as most nocturnal animals did.
His instinctive side stilled and his heart stopped as it recognized something. Both sets of eyes
were baleful and dangerous. The golden eyes showed alien thoughts, the intentions of hunting,
of rending his flesh with strong claws and fangs, of tasting his hot blood as it spilled into the cats
Cold sweat trickled down his spine as the emerald eyes showed murderous intent. Her eyes
flicked to his neck, and he had a sudden vision of her strangling him, of snapping his neck, of
her lips, stained with his blood as she tore out his neck with her teeth.
She smiled coldly as the stink of his fear reached her nose, filling her with anticipation and
wild joy as he realized a very basic truth: Feral was going to kill him if she got the chance.
He broke away from the pairs gaze, and inadvertently met rich, brown eyes; lupine eyes. The
wolf sniffed deeply; Chance's heart suddenly raced, pounding against his rib cage. He was prey
now. The wolf yawned, showing sharp fangs, gleaming wetly from saliva.
Terrified, he looked back at the girl and the large cat. What he saw there scared him even
more. The mutant hadn't been socialized, her broken speech attested to that. However, there
was no doubt in his mind that she was human. She might think closely to the animals she could
connect with, she didn't care much for norms, as they were called, but she was planning to kill
The animals she could connect with.
There were two wolves beside him.
She was across the fire with a cougar. Big cats that were called 'Ghosts of the Rockies'. Cats
that were magnificent, efficient predators; killers that can take down prey much larger than
themselves, alone.
The animals she could connect with.
Chance's mind brutally awoke to the harsh truth. He was no longer in his world and time. He
was in the Deathlands now, and one of the group he was with wasn't only actively planning to
kill him, she was anticipating it.
She smiled then, showing her elongated canines. His mind flashed to the facts he knew of her.
She was smelling his fear, breathing in slowly. Her mouth opened a little, she tasted his fear,
she rolled it over her tongue, around her mouth.
He was being hunted as of this moment.
There was no escape. This was no dream, no fantasy. He had to learn, and quickly, the rules
and ways of this land.
The question was, would he learn them in time.
Chance's mind slipped back into shock, but now he was far more aware of his reality.
She would wait for him to make a mistake, and she'd try to kill him.
She controlled animals.
There were two wolves on either side of him.
Unused adrenaline from his instinctive 'fight or flight' preparation wore at his mind and body.
He fell into an uneasy sleep, feeling the wolves pressed against him, his eyes closed on the sight
of Feral and the cougar, their eyes still gleaming reflected firelight.
He hadn't slept well since.


Gitana frowned a little from where she rested. Something about Chance tugged at the back of
her mind, the way he kept looking over his shoulder, the way he'd start up, glance around wildly,
then sigh at the smallest of sounds. She wondered if he was about to run screaming into the
woods, his mind broken from the events of the last two weeks.
"Are you alright, Gitana?" Concerned eyes glanced towards her.
"Si, chica, as alright as I can be, considering." Gitana sighed as she laid a hand on her belly, the
queasiness she felt at the sight of food still plaguing her. Ged flashed an apologetic smile as
Maverick again tried to interest his lover in a self-heat.
"You need to eat, Gitana." His eyes betrayed how concerned he was about her. Her injuries
and pregnancy combined had made her lose weight already, and she had a hard time keeping
food down at all, especially the self-heats.
"Amante, I'm sorry, I can't eat that."
Maverick sighed and headed for Joe with the refused self-heat. Listlessly, Gitana watched him.
She saw her lover's gray eyes flash towards her, Joe's green ones following. The barrel-chested
man seemed to be trying to reassure him that this would pass, and that Gitana would be fine.
She wished she could assure herself of that.
The dark-skinned beauty sighed as she saw Chance almost fall over his own feet, staring
towards her in fear. She more felt Kitty than saw her at first; the large cat brushed its cheek
against her arm. Gitana smiled a little and reached to scritch at the cougar's left ear, and asked
softly, "So, where's Feral? What have you two been doing?"
The cat didn't answer, though her companion did. "Here. Hunt."
The woman was laden with filled pouches, and she looked towards Maverick and Joe as Ged
and Montague headed towards her to relieve her of the bulging skins. Montague still glanced
uneasily towards Kitty as Feral held several skins to him, saying, "Water in those. Deer in
these." Ged gladly took the venison filled bags, she needed more protein in her diet than norms
did, and the self-heats didn't completely fill her requirements.
That left the mutant with two more bags, and her teeth showed in a grin as she proudly
presented one to Gitana, "Cleaned them."
Curious, Gitana glanced at the girl and smiled gently. "Thank you, Feral."
She opened the bag carefully and looked in. What she saw made her ravenously hungry. She
had to have them. A very broad and pleased smile creased her face as she scooped up mixed
berries and shoved them into her mouth.
Maverick couldn't help but sigh in relief as he watched Gitana devour what had to be berries,
the scent wafted from some that had been crushed, the juices stained her mouth and hands.
Finally, she was eating. He flashed a thankful glance at Feral, and watched as she and Kitty
headed towards him and Joe. She grinned as she opened the remaining bag. "Good hunt!"
"Ace on the line, girl, you did good." Before Maverick could ask what the terrain held, the
mutant had pulled out the remains of a liver. The meat was raw and glistened as she cut off a
small piece. The larger portion was tossed in the air. Even Montague chuckled at the sight of a
huge cougar leaping and twisting in the air like a kitten. The cat snatched the piece up and
padded happily to Feral, laid down, and leisurely downed her treat.
Only Chance saw Feral look at him as she popped the small piece she'd cut into her mouth and


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