So sorry about all the lateness! This is part one of a multi-part story (I’m not sure how many parts it’ll have, though) that I’ll be working on for my next couple posts. Feedback and criticism is much appreciated!
Amal stepped over the charred remains of the campfire, annoyed. She’d been hot on the trail of the Angel for a little over a month, and she was gaining on it. Unlike herself, it obviously wasn’t accustom to covering so much ground in such a small amount of time. The few encounters she’d had with the beast probably didn’t help its escape either; they weren’t nearly as quick with bullet holes in their wings.
A quiet yelp came from inside the forest, and Amal darted towards the source of the sound.
“Hello?” She called, keeping her voice even and non-threatening. A flash of movement caught her attention, and her head swiveled on her shoulders to catch a small, white wing disappearing behind one of the many towering oaks. The size alone was enough to tell her that this was not her prey, but she wouldn’t pass up the chance to get her hands on one of the creatures. Swiftly, she slid around the side of the trunk, coming face to face with an Angel. It stumbled back, falling on its rear, wings reeling in a failed attempt to keep it upright.
This one was significantly younger than her original prey. It was obviously male, they did resemble humans, after all, though the long, dress-like shirt it wore suggested otherwise. It tried to stand and run, but Amal kept a firm foot down on the wing.
“Lukas!” The form that appeared was a familiar one, the very one the Hunter had been tracking. The words that came out of its mouth stunned her, and the younger Angel wriggled out from under her foot, skittering over to Amal’s prey and tucking itself behind the elder’s legs.
“Did you just…?” She asked, despite herself. The Angel stared like she’d grown a second head. Maybe she’d imagined the voice. She brushed her surprise, and curiosity, aside. Of course she’d imagined it, Angels couldn’t-
“You’ve been following me,” the creature spoke, its voice like frozen venom.
“Talk? Yes. Surprised?”
Amal lowered her weapon. This was…an unexpected development. To say that she wasn’t surprised would be a lie. For years, Angels were nothing more than exotic animals, incapable of doing anything human, other than looking like them. But its eyes gleamed with intelligence, and now, malice, neither of which she’d seen before. Not that she’d been looking.
“Are you going to put that down, or am I going to have to take it from you?” It…or he, she supposed, quips, gesturing to the rifle in her hands. She notices his body is tight, more ridged than it’s been in their previous encounters. Offhandedly, she wonders why he hasn’t spoken in the past.
“Kace!” The new voice was much older than the Angel’s, and sounded off from somewhere in the forest. How had she not noticed the crackle of rapidly approaching footsteps? This new…information was throwing her for a loop, pushing her off balance. She readjusted her rifle, expecting a fight from the newcomer. The elder Angel bristled at the action, flaring his wings to block the child from view and squaring his feet.
“We’re over here,” he, Kace, the Hunter realized, replied to the voice, his stormy eyes never leaving Amal, tracking her every move.
A man, somewhere in his early thirties and noticeably lacking wings parted the brush and stepped though into the clearing in which the two groups found themselves locked in a tense standoff. He was scruffy, a mess of black hair piled on his head, hanging over his dark, attentive eyes. He looked at Amal for a moment, a flicker of surprise sparking in his eyes, then looked back to Kace, raising his eyebrows. The expression looked so familiar, but Amal wasn’t able to place it until he burst out laughing.
At the boisterous noise, the Hunter nearly dropped her weapon. The man’s face lit up in a way she remembered from years ago, but hadn’t seen since her childhood.
“Ptero?!” She exclaimed, ditching the mask of disinterest to stare, unabashed, at her brother.
“Amal, it’s been a while,” he smirks. There’s a certain lightness to his voice, something about his lax stance that lacked the stiff, cold formality she’d grown so accustom to in his later years that reminded her so much of the brother she once knew, before their father’s abuse took its hold and chilled his heart. He’d changed yet again.
“You know her?” the Angel spoke again, speaking easily to Amal’s brother, the feathers on his wings slowly falling flat, seeming to be letting down his guard. A mistake. Ptero was a skilled Hunter if she ever knew one, and wouldn’t pass up the chance to bring in two Angels, especially the little one. Angels guarded their young fiercely, as many animals would, and as a result, buyers were willing to pay much more for a hatchling’s wings.
This lying in wait thing wasn’t Ptero’s typical style, but it would take some smart thinking to bring in the hatchling. She stops the smirk from making its way onto her face as she slowly places her rifle on the ground. For now, she would play the waiting game.