For several weeks there had been good hunting without the green ones around. The pack moved and tracked game easier. The little ones were fed on a regular basis and that made everyone happier. But, Leader was still wary about possible dangers.

It was during an evening patrol that he found a problem. His nose had drawn him to the base of the tree, and the scent there told him of a recent visitor. “Hunter,” he called to his companion, “come.”

The sleek gray beast moved to meet Leader. His nose picked up the scent almost immediately, and began to smell slightly of aggression. “Another one. Wolfen, like me.”

“Trouble?” Leader asked, flicking his feline ears back in agitation.

Hunter cocked his head and gave a serious but uncertain look. He couldn’t tell anything from the marking. “We go get Growl?”

Leader gave it a moment’s thought, but made a quick decision. “Not yet. Follow.”

The two dropped low and moved quickly on all fours. They sniffed the air occasionally and changed directions as followed their quarry’s path. They slowed down as they reached a small group of trees next to a stream. “Here,” Leader said in quiet tones as he laid low against the ground.

The sun had set and the light was fading, but the smell was unmistakable; it was a wolfen one, certainly. They approached the stand of trees. keeping a low profile. Hunter was a bit ahead of Leader, still smelling of aggression and ready to handle a potentially fierce confrontation.

A thump and the movement of a shadow between the trees made the two freeze in place, readying themselves for action. They waited for several long moments before slowly creeping toward the trees again. A white furred head poked out from behind a tree and looked at them. Hunter stood upright and looked directly at the stranger in a show of confidence. This was the pack’s territory, and just these two still outnumbered him.

The stranger looked at both of them. Upon seeing Leader, he bared his teeth and gave a quick growl. Leader backed off slightly, but Hunter stood his ground and watched the stranger. Slowly, the white furred one emerged from the trees and approached Hunter.

The two sniffed at each other from a short distance away. Leader couldn’t read wolfen scents very well from a distance, so he had to rely on body language. Muscles were tense, but no overt aggression was displayed by either one. After a while, the white stranger dropped to all fours and looked downward in submission in front of Hunter.

Leader exhaled his held breath. There would not be a fight tonight, and it was time for them to go home.

Hunter took a few steps back before slowly turning and dropping to all fours. He kept his head high and dominant, glancing two more times over his shoulder at the white one. He turned toward Leader and they set off home.

A short distance later they noticed the white stranger following after them. They stopped and watched as he carefully approached. Hunter stood up to his full height, but the white one stayed low. Leader couldn’t smell any aggression on Hunter anymore.

“What now?” Hunter asked, relying entirely on Leader’s judgment.

“Problem?” Leader was cautious not to make any assumptions when dealing with unfamiliar wolfen ones.

“No. He respects me.”

The stranger looked back and forth as the two talked in quiet voices. It became obvious that he did not understand the language.

“Then, let him come. See if the pack accepts him.”

Hunter took a step forward and looked down at the young stranger. After a moment, Hunter turned and dropped down in front of Leader. Leader knew what this meant. He stood up on his hind legs and looked down at Hunter, establishing his position of authority. The white one slowly moved forward and stayed low in reach of Leader, maintaining the hierarchy. Leader bent down and licked the new one a few times on the head, getting a sense of him as the feline ones do. No strange tastes or scents as far as he could tell. If introduction upset the white one, he didn’t show it.

Leader dropped down and turned toward home. Hunter followed behind him and the new one trailed behind a prudent distance. After a while they approached the pack’s place. Leader gave a short bark to announce themselves and the night watchers came forward out of the gloom and met them.

“A new packmate,” Leader said as the others approached. They kept their eyes on the white stranger as the three approached and stood their ground. Very little scents of aggression came from the pack, which was a good first sign. It was the young Help that finally moved forward and sniffed at the newcomer. She gave a short bark and moved away from the pack, leading the white one to a place he could sleep. She would watch over him to make sure he didn’t do anything to threaten the pack.

“Huh,” Hunter said as Help and the stranger moved out of sight.

“What?” Leader didn’t quite understand that body language between the wolfen ones.

“Help is happy.” Hunter turned and went toward the pack and to sleep.

Leader looked at Hunter, then looked in the direction the two had gone. “Oh,” he thought, finally figuring it out.

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