[Solo] Caught in the Act [Destined Daughter & Until Dawn]

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CelestialRequiem
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[Solo] Caught in the Act [Destined Daughter & Until Dawn]

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Night was nearly upon her and Until Dawn wasn’t particularly thrilled at the prospect. She’d already had to chase three separate kin out of her territory- one of whom was very insistent that they could walk where they pleased. It had been made very clear to them that this was not the case in her personal plot of the mountain. But when the sun set it would only get worse. The cover of darkness seemed to embolden kin and too many would try to sneak through her territory thinking she wouldn’t notice. She would. And she would have to spend the better part of the night hunting them all down and making sure they all knew that this was her land instead of having a nice, peaceful rest for once. But such was the way of things.

At the base of the mountain, where it leveled out into the flat plains is where she liked to work the most. The sparse trees and scrubby shrubs provided just enough cover to keep hidden. It also seemed to be a high-traffic area, a well-worn path delineating the worlds of grassy fields and evergreen woods- though it might be generous calling them even that. The frequent use of this path was both beneficial and a hindrance. Things got complicated when more than one kin was on the path at once. Groups were out of the question and several kin traveling separately but close together was taking a risk. But a single, lone traveler without any other kin in sight was exactly what she needed. Unfortunate, then, for the kiokote who had passed by as a single lone traveler without any other kin in sight.

Desperate made sure to be as quick about it as she could. She always did. Unlike some of the others, she wasn’t interested in the suffering. It was just a job she had to do. And now that this part of the job was done, she had to get home with the body- the more difficult part of the job, in her opinion. Most of the time, they worked in groups which made the whole process significantly easier. That wasn’t an option for her. Noone worked with Desperate. And to make things more difficult, she had to hunt further away from the lair, as most of the surrounding areas were already occupied by others. Sometimes, it felt like she’d been set up for failure. The hard truth was that she probably had been. This only made her more determined to succeed.

The system she’d worked out was clumsy but at least it did what it needed to do. Only by pure chance had she come across the corpse of a recently deceased bear that hadn’t been torn apart by scavengers yet. So, she became the scavenger, spending the better part of a day carefully prying the skin from the body. It had been messy and far from perfect but she’d gotten herself a useful tool out of it in the end. Dragging her prey home on the skin rather than trying to carry the body herself was much easier. Of course, over time it had degraded. Between the natural process of decay and being ground down by the coarse, mountainous earth it was a fraction of the size it had originally been. Desperate wondered how much longer it would serve her. Hopefully at least one more time.

With practiced movements, Desperate maneuvered the kiokote's body onto the skin and grabbed onto what remained of one of the bear's legs. That's when she noticed the totoma barreling towards her.


And on cue there was another one creeping along the edge of her territory. Could it be argued that, this being the edge of her land, maybe the kin didn’t actually intend to travel through it and simply strayed a bit off the nearby path? Yes, of course it could. But Until Dawn didn’t give any leeway on this matter. Her territory was her territory and noone was allowed to set hoof on it without her permission. Craning her neck until it gave a satisfying pop, Until Dawn lowered her head. She’d make sure this dark-coated kiokote would regret stepping onto the wrong side of the path, mistake or not.

Desperate barely had time to skirt the totoma’s charge, abandoning her offering in the process. Silently, she cursed herself for letting her guard down enough to be surprised like this. When was the last time she’d had some decent sleep? Or a proper meal…?

Those questions had to be quickly shaken off. Now wasn’t the time to be pondering over her well-being- not that it ever was. What she needed was to focus on the totoma who had turned on their heels and was aiming at her for a second charge. First priority would be avoiding that. And then….how was she going to get out of this with the body? Even a slow moving totoma would catch her eventually if she was dragging a body along as well. Killing a totoma wasn’t something she could easily pull off on her own and talking her way out of the situation wasn’t going to happen. She couldn’t talk her way out of a good situation, let alone one involving a dead kin. Maybe if she could draw the totoma away and then circle back after she’d lost them…


“You can’t sleep here, this is my land!!” There were two of them. TWO. And one of them had the nerve to try and sleep on her land! Momentarily, Until Dawn turned her attention away from the first kiokote and to the second one laying down. She slammed the hardened plate of her forehead into the still form and shoved it from its soft bedding. With a start like that, the kin was sure to jump to their feet and flee immediately.

They didn’t. They didn’t move at all. In fact, the angle of their limbs seemed a little…off. And was that just a red marking on their neck or…


No. No. No. This was the opposite of what she wanted. If that body got too badly damaged…

Desperate had to do something quickly to get that totoma away from her hard-earned offering. And with no time to actually formulate a plan, she acted solely on instinct, for better or for worse. She pulled a play from the totoma’s book and charged at them, though she had the sense to know that a headbutt would likely only end in a cracked skull for her. Instead, she threw herself bodily into the side of the totoma, hoping to knock them over. But even though she was quite strong for a kiokote, when it came to brute strength she could never hope to outclass one of the mountain-born kin. The totoma merely stumbled a few paces then turned a gaze so full of rage and hate onto Desperate that she knew whatever was coming next was going to be very painful.


Well. This was….New. Until Dawn had caught too many kin to count now intruding on her territory, but this was the first time she’d caught a dead kin intruding. Briefly, the question of ’How did a dead kiokote wander into my territory?’ rattled around in her mind (she never claimed intelligence as one of her finer qualities), until her eyes settled on the “red marking” on the kin’s neck. Which, she now realized, was not a marking at all. This kin had been ki-
Thump.

A force against her side snapped Until Dawn from her deductions and she looked down at the other kiokote, the alive kiokote, now standing next to her. Whatever revelation she was about to have was gone, replaced with sudden intense fury that this kin would have the gall to pick a fight with her. She craned her head back then slammed her heavy, armor-plated skull into whatever body part of the other kin’s happened to be in the path of her assault. A satisfying crack like stone against stone confirmed the hit.


Desperate crumpled instantly. The world went dark. And then it went blindingly bright. And then black and white melded into shifting shapes along the edges of her vision as sight slowly returned to her. There wasn’t any pain yet, but there would be. She wasn’t quite sure where it would be, but she was sure her time was limited before it showed up and hindered her ability to act. To retrieve the body.

No.

To escape. She wouldn’t be able to out maneuver this totoma after taking such a heavy hit. Her only chance now was to get away. Come back later. Hope that scavengers had started picking at the corpse yet. Hope that the totoma wasn’t still around. Desperate staggered to her hooves and almost immediately the totoma was upon her again, colliding into her side and sending her stumbling. But she remained upright. She remained on her hooves and that meant she could run. Wheeling around, Desperate made to leave the totoma behind her but the sudden movement sent everything spinning and she lost her bearing. She took three sluggish steps of a sprint before crashing into a tree and the totoma did not waste any time pinning her to it. The point of those curved horns dug into her side and Desperate cried out in pain and frustration. Everything was going wrong. Of course it was. Of course it was. It always did. Despair was setting in, along with a burning ache in her head. The damage from the first strike making itself known, no doubt. Just as the idea of giving in and accepting her fate was seeming the most appealing option, the totoma moved their head that, unfortunately dug the horn in a little deeper but also gave her just enough of an opening to slip from between them and the tree. And then she ran. In what direction and where to, she didn’t know. But for now it was enough to just run. She would figure out the rest later.


[Destined WC: 1144]
word count: 1724
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