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I must be strong, and carry on
Sundown, south | Full Summer | Dawn | Deceptively beautiful and sunny

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Bucky Rangers Chris Staff
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It was a normal morning run. Bucky had headed south, veered around the mess left of the shoal two of his oldest friends used to live, and kept running down the clear expanse of sand, mind a bit melancholy. The summer sun peaked over the eastern skies, waves washed upon the shore and birds swooped looking for bugs or fish. Almost serene. 

Until Bucky saw the body.

There was a stillness to it that made any shred of hope sink straight away, sink like the body itself as the waterlogged figure vanished under the waves. It was early, too early to be swimming safely. Sharks hunt at dawn and dusk, yet despite knowing the old warning Bucky plunged into the waves, expression grim. It was close enough to the shoreline that he didn’t need stay in long, securing a grip on a salt-laden scruff and hauling a smaller wolf out of the ocean and onto the sand.

He didn’t know until he’d cleared the waves. The scent in his nose was all salt water and blood, at first he knew only that the body was male. It was only when he got up onto the damp portion of sand and carefully laid the body down did shock made Bucky stagger, because despite the awful injury to the victim’s scalp there was no doubt. There was a long, winding scar down his side. An old one, not one of the multitude of fresh injuries littering his body.

He knew him. He knew him.

“No! No no NO, NO!” He was shouting by the end of it, one paw slamming into the sand in horror.

“RELIC!” He boomed desperate. “Come on, open your eyes!” Bucky braced both front paws on the other male’s chest. Relic. It was Relic. He knew it was hopeless, even as he tried to clear the water from a dead wolf’s lungs. This hadn’t happened a few minutes ago, and Bucky had known the moment he spotted the sad bundle of fur that hope had come too late. He knew those unique, green and gold eyes would never open again. But Bucky couldn’t stop trying, and when it didn’t work he fell back and paced around the body, unable to keep still as he fought the bitter reality of it.

“What the hell am I meant to tell those kids!” He barked desperately, as if something of the unshed plea in his words might cause Relic to magically rise from the dead. “What the hell are they meant to do without you…”

((Just noting, Erin gave me permission for Relic’s body to be found, even if this thread breaks my heart))


Jan 13, 2019 07:49 AM

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[ Edited: Jan 13, 2019 07:54 AM by Bucky ]
243460
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Pierce Art Staff
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Why someone would just be screaming the word ‘relic’ at the top of their lungs in such a desperate manner, Pierce had no idea. She had even less idea why Thunder of all wolves would do such a thing, preceded by a wailing ‘no’.

Whatever the reason behind it, the fact of the matter that she did understand was that Thunder was in hysterics. And she’d be darned if she was going to ignore it.

Racing along the beach at top speed, she was already panting by the time she spotted him close tot he waves still, pounding heart sinking when she got close enough to see a body at his feet. Dead, it had to be, or he wouldn’t so distraught. She pulled up short and stoof there, heaving for breath, looking back and forth between her brother and the body with an intense look as she tried to regain her words.


Jan 14, 2019 02:07 PM — Post #1

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243500
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Bucky Rangers Chris Staff
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Pierce wasn’t the only one words had failed. Bucky was beside himself to find his friend lying here, so very beyond help. When his littermate came bolting towards him, doubtless expecting some catastrophe. Which it was, just not the kind that required their particular brand of problem solving, not muscle and tooth to fix it. 

For a moment his frantic pacing cased and his eyes locked upon his sister, a mixture of grief and reluctance and shock and also relief she was here in his eyes. There was a world in that look, for all that Bucky couldn’t find any words that could possible express how he was feeling.

A sound rather than a word was what escaped as he finally hung his head, extending a paw to gently touch Relic’s ruined shoulder, as if there were any fixing the horrible wounds carved into the flesh.


Jan 14, 2019 07:09 PM — Post #2

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243893
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Applebutter Grim
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Apple was playing with an unusually large crab, unaware that its claw brandishing was not a friendly gesture in the slightest when she heard the shouts.

It was Bucky.

Playtime over.

Apple had been through too much to not grow extremely alarmed at the sounds of grief.

She ran, skidding to a halt in the sand when she rounded a corner, spotting Bucky and…

“Is that Relic?” Apple croaked, ears down.

It looked like he’d drowned. She didn’t want to come closer. But this didn’t feel like it had with Pierre - she had only spoken with this male once. He seemed lovely and kind. She was sure the world would be less bright without him. Swallowing, Apple padded closer anyway. It looked like he’d been attacked by something with huge claws.

She had just talked to him.

Her eyes grew wide.

“What about…” She looked in the direction of his packlands. “Are the others okay?”

Those little puppies.

Jacqueline.

“I can get there fast.” She tensed, ready to go right then and there. She was the quickest in all of Big Sky Meadow. She’d get there and back in two days, tops.


Jan 17, 2019 05:15 PM — Post #3

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Pierce Art Staff
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Pierce stopped still as if shocked by lightning, seeing the look in Thunder’s eyes, the intensity of emotion about his face. He was an emotional creature to begin with, yes, but this was… not the usual Thunder. She looked down at the body his paw reached for, and kept a carefully composed face at the sight of it as she tentatively drew closer.

Her ears twisted towards the new ranger, who also seemed to know this dead wolf. Surely, not a long lost ranger? Or she would have heard of a search for him? But some sort of friend of the rangers, clearly. A friend with others.

Quick eyes darted up between the new ranger and Thunder.

“If you know those close to him, please send word immediately,” she requested—wanted to command, but knew it wasn’t her pack, wasn’t her place—of the young wolf. Pierce could keep Thunder together; she didn’t know who the wolves that cared about this Relic were, or where to find them.


Jan 20, 2019 06:54 PM — Post #4

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Bucky Rangers Chris Staff
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The expression lingered, some things just too much to be wrestled behind a stoic, unaffected mask. And the truth was, Bucky was a long way from unaffected. But he took a deep breath, and he nodded as Apple came tearing up.

“Apple, wait.”

He exhaled a pained breath. “It is Relic.” The admission was soft, but the emotion behind it anything but. “And Pierce, you’re right, the Covenant do need to know - he is their pack leader, and family to the young wolves. But first we need to bury him. He’s too-” Bucky almost blanched.

Too damaged to take his body home. He was not squeamish by nature, but this… this was pretty fucking awful. Weather it had happened when Relic died or because sea creatures had been at him after he wound up in the water… well.

Bucky took another deep breath. God, this was unfair, this was SUCH bullshit! Anna and her brother had lost both of their parents. Their younger siblings had been messed around their entire lives and had now lost one of the few stable influences in their life, this was going to devastate those poor kids. Bucky didn’t want to go up into the mountains and look into innocent faces and tell them their uncle had died.

Deep breath, Bucky. 

“Relic feared retribution from Jacqueline and her pack, until we know what happened we treat this death as suspicious. Apple, much as I want you by my side when we tell the Covenant, better stick to the plan. I’d prefer you two to keep an eye on things here at home. I’ll take the planned patrol to the mountains, we’ll leave as soon as we bury Relic. He deserves that dignity.”

He was back, rationally making plans, decisions… but oh, this one hurt him. Relic lying here dead cut him so deeply.


Jan 20, 2019 08:09 PM — Post #5

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[ Edited: Jan 20, 2019 08:11 PM by Bucky ]
244373
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Applebutter Grim
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Apple had nodded to Bucky’s sister and darted just one step away before he said ‘wait’.

Obediently, Apple turned her head to him, ears lowering as he began to lose his composure, but she knew what he meant. There was no way Relic was going back to that beautiful lake. They would…tear him apart trying to get him there. She swallowed at the unpleasant mental image, something she never thought she could even imagine in her sweet little mind.

Life was very different outside the meadow.

“I understand,” She breathed, giving another anxious look towards the Covenant’s territory. “If it was Jacqueline, we…we have to hurry. The little ones…” She trailed off.

She only met Claes and Maisie, aside from him.

If it was just them…and Jacqueline was recruiting…

Apple didn’t want to think about it. She wanted to help Bucky get this unfortunate task done so he could hopefully fly like the wind to help those babies.

“W-where should we bury him?” Apple didn’t see them being able to move him far. The mangled remains of what was a kind, thoughtful male were painful to look at. Perhaps there was not much keeping him together. But they couldn’t bury him in the sand; eventually, the ocean would dig him back up.


Jan 21, 2019 09:05 PM — Post #6

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Pierce Art Staff
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Wait, he said. Pierce jerked her attention to Thunder, wanting to know what they could do for him —

Of course. Her eyes softened and get down to the body of the will she would never know. She kept her gaze on it — him – as kept under explained the circumstances around the death.A frown tugged at her lips. She did not particularly like the concept of staying here and him still going off after the shock, but.

He was an adult. If he thought he could handle it, she wasn’t going to baby him about it.

What little ones,” she practically hissed, flipping her attention to the other female. This was clearly more than just A Death. What exactly it was, though, she didn’t know yet. None of them did, it seems.

If any whelps were in danger of being hurt though… Her sympathy for her brother was matched by the righteous fury already beginning to bubble up that the innocent might have been targeted by this.


Jan 22, 2019 04:21 PM — Post #7

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244499
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Bucky Rangers Chris Staff
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Bucky winced. Like Apple, he feared even moving Relic a short way would injure what was left of his already ruined body. But they couldn’t have a gravesite anywhere the water reached. He also felt the same pressure, the same time limit, as his packmate. Was that why Jacqueline hadn’t been home when the Ranger patrol arrived? Was she staking out the Covenant even then? Surely not.

His gaze fell upon a tree growing up past where the sand reached, where scrubby undergrowth led down to the beach itself.

“Up by that pine.” He suggested, glancing to Pierce, then Applebutter, to see what they thought. “Pines are a mountain tree. We can give him something of home.” And the pine could mark the grave. Grave.

His gaze switched to Pierce as she started to get worked up and he reached out a paw peaceably to his sister. “Relic was the only adult in his pack, uncle to two yearlings and two puppies, all siblings - the youngest were nursed by another wolf, Jacqueline, when their mother died. She tried to take the children away from their family and Relic expected some attempt at retaliation.”

And Bucky dearly hoped this wasn’t it.

 


Jan 22, 2019 04:44 PM — Post #8

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244550
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Applebutter Grim
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She wasn’t expecting such a curt reaction from Pierce, and perhaps it was the stress of seeing someone she knew dead - not just knowing he was dead, but seeing him - she winced a little, eyes darting to Bucky apologetically. Had she said something wrong?

If she had, no one elaborated. She nodded at the idea of burying Relic near the pine, smiling softly. A mountain tree for a mountain wolf.

But then he explained everything further, and her smile faded.

She had not known until now that Relic was the sole adult there; protecting wolves younger than she, along with two innocent little babies.

Apple didn’t know what to do.

She had helped so many through so much, but she had never encountered a place that had this much strife. This much life and death.

All she could do, she reasoned, was help him for now. She looked over the battered remains of this poor leader, then to the tree. It wasn’t far…but it wasn’t close. She had seen death up close before. Her grandmother, lying in a bed of flowers as they sang around her. An older aunt, in a similar ritual. But this was…brutal. Feral. It was how other animals died, not wolves.

Apple wasn’t sure she could stomach it.

She’d have to deal with it later.

“I’m not very strong, but I want to help get him there if I can. Just tell me what to do.” The conviction and determination almost convinced her that she was ready to put her jaws around this…mess of a wolf, but she could feel her stomach turning.


Jan 22, 2019 09:52 PM — Post #9

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Pierce Art Staff
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She softened, just a little, at placation from her brother, a thought she pushed aside before guilt starting rising up that she was causing a scene when he was the one most hurt by this turn of events.

“The pine, then,” she concurred. She glanced at Applebutter for only a moment before casting her eyes back to the body of Relic. This was a tense situation, given the circumstances Thunder described especially, and Pierce did not have time to coddle anyone else’s emotions.

“I will visit them afterwards,” she muttered, mostly to herself to assert her plan. APplebutter could run there to give the initial news; but Pierce would not rest until she’d seen the family herself.

ANd perhaps talk to this Jacqueline face to face to hear her story.

For now, though, Relic. She moved around to this side, looking questioningly at Thunder. He would want to carry the weight of his head, as his friend, wouldn’t he? Or would it be too much, and he needed one of them to do so?


Jan 23, 2019 08:55 PM — Post #10

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244685
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Bucky Rangers Chris Staff
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He shook his head faintly at Applebutter and brushed comfortingly against the small she-wolf. She hadn’t done anything wrong. That was just how Pierce was.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want his sister to go so much as he didn’t see the point of the entire pack running up to bombard the Covenant with bad news. And a little that Pierce wasn’t the most sensitive wolf around.

He nodded at her plan to visit them at a later date. “Good call. I think it’ll be important, make sure we support the young wolves who remain at the Covenant.” He knew from Anna they would not leave their home. It actually gave him a lot of comfort to think of capable, battle-ready Pierce up in the mountains, helping look after the pack.

If they let her.

“Alright. If I lift the front, Pierce the back, Apple can you get underneath him? Try to keep him as stable as we can.” He frowned, trying to assess which part of Relic’s neck was least damaged for Bucky to grasp.

“Sorry, Relic.” He said quietly, and he dipped his head down to gingerly fasten his teeth into the salt-laden scruff.

((In either of your two’s next posts feel free to say they got him up to the grave itself))


Jan 23, 2019 09:06 PM — Post #11

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244786
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Applebutter Grim
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Under him.

Under a dead wolf.

A dead, battered, mangled, waterlogged wolf. That only recently was breathing, alive, with light in his eyes and kindness in his voice.

Apple swallowed and inhaled deeply, but silently, nodding. She had to get through this, because something in her gut was telling her that this place - while having a lovely array of great, kind-hearted wolves, was not like home, or any other place she’d visited. This place was darker.

This might not be the last body she sees.

Relic was soggy and…aromatic, to say the least. She decided the best measure would be to scoot under him and prop him up on her back, so there she was, watching the paws of her companions to know when to take a step.

Apple thought about Nomad. And fireflies. And baby foxes. Everything she could think about. Anything but the foul smelling water dripping onto her. It was black, staining into her fur, and she just couldn’t think about the idea that maybe it wasn’t all water. Maybe it was his insides.

Once they had a walking rhythm going, she just closed her eyes. Nomad. Fireflies. Baby foxes. Cute little newborn horses clumsily scampering around. Nomad in a field of fireflies, frolicking.

Not the water.

Not the smell.

Not Relic.

Just happy images.


Jan 24, 2019 05:47 PM — Post #12

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Pierce Art Staff
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They took the body up the beach, none of them talking during the somber activity. For all that Pierce distanced herself from her emotions remain focused, it was impossible not to think a little bit about the fact she was curing another wolf body. All she could do was not dwell on it and sink too much into it.

Dropping her hold, she hacked involuntarily a wet cough, and forced herself to regain composure. Sprinting to gulp saltwater would be that much better or a taste, and… For all that she didn’t know him, it didn’t seem right to drag him, abandon him to wash out her mouth, and then come back to finish the job. They were going to bury him, and they were going to do it right.

Eyes watering a little bit, blunt nails started digging without looking at anyone.


Jan 25, 2019 03:26 PM — Post #13

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244891
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Bucky Rangers Chris Staff
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It was not a pleasant experience, moving Relic. If it had been possible Bucky would have buried him where he had set in down above the waves, but it wasn’t possible.

He was not the sort of wolf who believed in some higher power like some he had met, but still, he offered a silent apology to whomever might be listening.

Once Relic had been placed down as gentle as possible Bucky silently fell to digging alongside the girls. If he noticed Pierce’s tears, he didn’t comment. If his own eyes shone with the same sort of brightness, he didn’t make a big deal out of it.


Jan 25, 2019 06:42 PM — Post #14

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Applebutter Grim
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With Relic off her, Apple really tried to help. She did. The wetness on her back grew cool, clammy, uncomfortable; and the smell was on her now.

She dug for a moment, fighting back heaves, but eventually mumbled, “Mmmmsorry-” and bolted for the ocean, coughing.

Apple didn’t puke, thankfully, but she did crash herself into a wave, rolling to the side so it washed over her. Cleansing her. She trotted back out a moment later after wading through the current, shaking herself out with uneven breaths. Apple craned her neck to sniff herself.

Just salt and that weird musty smell seaweed had.

It was better than death.

Apple wanted to go back and keep helping, but she needed a moment. Apologetically, almost with shame, she looked to Bucky and his sister. Then she closed her eyes to focus in composing herself.


Jan 25, 2019 09:34 PM — Post #15

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