I was raised, with seven others, by a tall creature that always stood on two legs. He was an elder, I could tell, but he always gave us food. He never explained why, nor did he ever really try to, so I soon accepted his presence.
My brother’s name is Kamatz. As a cub, he was always the most adventurous. He never once stopped exploring, no matter how dangerous the area, for it was not in his nature to sit back and wait for answers. He was the first in our pack to start howling. It surprised us all, even the tall creature, who often spent long hours with Kamatz.
Seasons passed, and the tall one who had fed us took us to the forest beyond the wall he had built. The expanse was endless, and I remember my joy at receiving such freedom; the howl of excitement, the wag of my tail. It was evanescent, though, from the very first moment my brother set his paw on the land outside. So it was that Kamatz became the Alpha Wolf of the pack. He was the first to lead us out of our enclosure, and so he would continue to lead the pack for years to come.
Matsi took her place as the Beta Wolf – second in command. She was a strong leader with a kindness in her that has saved me more times than I could count. Matsi acted as the peace-maker of the pack, and though she was stern, she was benevolent by nature.
The pack was a family, and in every family, there was an outcast. For this position, they elected me. I found a cruel irony in being the Omega Wolf while my brother was the Alpha. It was my job, as the family reject, to humour the others as a sort of comic relief. I was the one who would always be willing to play, and be convivial. And I was the one that was scorned as the jester.
For many seasons, I was rejected and shunned, simply because it was the way of life for an Omega Wolf. But one day, I found a possible escape. The tall one had found three more wolf cubs, and as always, Kamatz was the first to catch their scent. He summoned us with a rallying cry, and we bolted to him as fast as we could. Always conscious of keeping our heads and tails lower than his, we showed our adoration by licking his muzzle and rubbing up against him.
The newcomers were young. Two grey wolves that never seemed to part from their scuffling, and one black wolf named Chinook, who preferred to play by herself. We welcomed their arrival with licks and kisses. They whined to join us, but the tall one just held them up to poke their noses through the wire.
Time wore on relentlessly, until at last the cubs were grown enough to join the pack. My brother showed no hostility as they ran to him to the first time, instantly rolling onto their backs to present their vulnerable bellies. He stepped over them, sniffing and eyeing them thoroughly until he barked once, and the pack came to hail the new arrivals. I kept my eye on Chinook, welcoming our new brothers and sister.
One day, in the winter, we had hunted an elk. As soon as it was down, Kamatz snarled and stood over the body. It was a sign to back away, and we all acknowledged that it was his kill to divide. What surprised me the most was that Chinook had been chosen to eat first. I could barely contain my jealousy as she bowed her head, her eyes trained wearily on my brother, inches away from her. She began shredding the fur in order to reach the meat beneath.
Chinook had often been rejected in the past, when she anxiously approached a fresh kill. She was always the second last to eat, for subsequently, I was ruled to be the last. I had hoped that the pack would find a new Omega in the small black wolf, who always seemed to be off by herself, but now I was uncertain by Kamatz’s display of favour. One by one, my brother signaled for the other wolves to surround the carcass and gorge themselves. Food was sometimes scarce, and whenever we hunted any, we made sure it lasted. I waited until they had all lowered their heads to strip the bones before crawling forward on my belly. The pack had their tails tucked between their legs, anticipating trouble.
I snatched up a forgotten scrap from the snow, and Kamatz leapt onto me, barking. I darted backwards, but he chased me, and I was quick to submit myself and roll onto my back. He stood over me, barking madly, and I put my paws against his chest to protest respectfully. I felt the snow seep into my coat as my brother snarled at me, before finally slinking off me and returning to his meal. The pack rules were the law to be obeyed. The Omega had to wait.
I licked my lips as two ravens flew down to pick at the bones. I lay in the snow, watching and waiting for my brother to show mercy. It was a while before he returned to me, and he stood beside me expectantly. I did the only thing I could do. I begged.
I dropped to the ground deferentially, licking his muzzle to show my adoration. I could taste the blood on his jaws and my appetite intensified as I whined to him. For a moment, he seemed to acquiesce. I took a cautious step towards the kill, and he made no action to stop me. I approached the elk slowly, constantly glancing over my shoulder to see if he disproved, but he stood indifferently. I licked my lips once more as I lowered my head to eat, but the moment I did so, the rest of the pack jumped on me. Abandoning their meal, they chased me away until Matsi pinned me to the floor and closed her jaws over my muzzle. Those jaws were powerful enough to break strong bones, but as a cruel kind of teasing, the pack had never seriously hurt me. Matsi was warning me to wait my turn, and that the pack would not forgive me if I tried to sneak a premature meal again.
I stood, defeated, and slinked away. I gave one last look over my shoulder at my family before turning through the woods in shame. I was an object of contempt, and somehow, care. As an Omega, my life was a marathon of rejection, but it offered more security than a solitary existence. So I, Lakota, accepted my treatment.
As seasons passed, we realised that the females of the pack were on heat, and that Kamatz would have to choose a mate. Between Chinook and Matsi, the choice was obvious, but my brother surprised us all when he chose the black wolf. In the instant that he licked her face, I gave up all hope in finding a replacement Omega. I was doomed to be the outcast until my death.
That night, there was a full moon. The light was well enough to see clearly, and so while the pack slept, I found my way back to the place where the tall creatures lived. I lay in the snow and raised my eyes to the night sky. Throwing back my head, I howled mournfully, crying all of my misery to the moon. I saw the tall one leave his shelter to listen to me, and so I howled for him, a loneliness. That night, I sang my sorrows to him, my voice filled with every woe that weighed upon my spirit. I sang of the loathing that filled the rest of my life, and fate I was powerless to change. The night was cold, but I found some comfort in the isolation.
My name is Lakota. I am the Omega wolf to the Soretooth pack, and my existence is the loneliest I could ever imagine.
Kamatz and Chinook went on to have another five puppies. Even Lakota couldn’t help but love them, for all wolves love wolf cubs. The man who raised them (though not so much they should become tame- he was just affectionate enough to them so they would get used to his presence) later had to move them out of his own resort and to a natural homeland. He had built the area so he could free them from predators, and learn of their pack life. Because wolves are very rarely seen by humans (shy as they are), he just wanted to see what their true nature was like. By lying in a submissive gesture, he and Kamatz became friends- a tremendous honour to anyone who could appreciate it. Wolves are not the vicious creatures that they are made out to be by Disney and fairytales. After I learned a little more about them, I can see why Wildflame admires them so. I hope you, at least, appreciated this story.
"There are few more complex or beautiful voices in all of nature, and of the pack, Lakota had the loveliest, most expressive."