The wind swirled around her. Fluffing up her fur and swishing her ears to an fro. Judy's paws seemed to vibrate with excited energy. Bright violet eyes peered at dark towering trees. Heart hammering, Judy hopped forward on all fours. A shadow dashed in front of her. Judy crouched, ears laid back in surprise. "Judith Hopps!" Stu, her sire stood reared up on his back paws and fixed her with a stern look. " What have I told you about the forest?"
" But dad all I wanted to do wa-!". Her sentence was inrrupted by a sharp thud of her sire's long back paw against the ground.
" You know very well that these rules are here for a reason Judy!" He paused eyes softening. " Judy, I'm just trying to protect you,". He wrapped a paw around her and chinned her. " And with the loss of miss kane's son no one is allowed to leave the Warren except scout bucks and foraging rabbits,". Judy's ears laid flat against her head in guilt. She just wanted to see the forest and to explore like the scout bucks.
" But I want to be a scout! Dad,". Her sire pulled back ears flying up in shock. Stu's ears flattened as he composed himself with a glare.
" Only bucks can be scouts, and I won't allow you to put your self in danger!". Now Judy's ears were flat against her skull for a different reason.
"Isn't that my decision?"
" While your under my Warren it isn't?". Her sire snapped firmly, ears up as he fixed her with a glare. " Now you can be one of the foraging rabbit if you want, but other than that your tail stays in this Warren!".
"Stu!". Stu's ears flattened against his skull and his eyes widened. Her mom walked up behind her shifting from fours to sitting on her haunches. " I don't want her to be a scout either but isn't it up to the elder council?". She fixed Stu with a glare.
" But Bonnie-".
"Isn't that why you made it? So you could heed advice from the elders?". Bonnie stepped up closer to Stu still fixing him with a stern gaze. " You may be the lead buck of this Warren but you are not above the rules!". Stu had lowered to fours and ducked his head down. Ears flat against his head in submission, because hell have no fury like that of an angry mother doe.
" Yes mate, of course,". Her sire heaved in a sigh. Hope flared in Judy at her mother's defense. Bonnie swung her head around and chinned Judy.
" Judy, why don't you head on back, it's already quite past curfew,". Her mom turned back and fixed Stu with a look. " Your sire and I will catch up, we need to talk!". Judy turned and head back toward the tunnels that led to the Warren. Only stoping to look back at the dark forest behind her.
Nick's paws thumped hard on the forest floor. His lungs burned for air as he pushed himself to go faster. The squirrel in front of him running just out of reach. Nick snapped his jaws at the squirrel's tail in a desperate attempt to catch him. A piercing pained squeak sounded as his front teeth snapped around fur and flesh of the tip of the squirrel's tail. "No! Please don't kill me!". Nick's jaw loosened out of shock and the tail slipped out of his teeth. The squirrel headed to a tree to make his escape. A maroon blur brushed past him and snapped the squirrel up with a sickening snap, cutting of another piercing squeak. Emerald eyes stared at him as the maroon fox turned and dropped the squirrel at Nick's feet.
"What was that, Nicky?". His face was blank with a perfect mask as he addressed Nick.
"Uh that was...", Nick let the sentence drop and hung his head. "He spoke just like us, he had a life ju-",
"No Nicky, he was prey!", The maroon Fox's eyes blazed a moment before softening. " Nicky!", The other fox sighed and dopped his mask of indifference. " You can't think of them like that they are food, they are our survival."
"Dad, they speak just like us, and they have li-",
" Nicky! They have and always will be food!", His dad heaved another sigh. " You've got your mother and I worried sick!" The maroon fox got to his feet and moved to sit beside him. "You don't eat nearly enough and you go longer and longer without a hunt.", His dad brushed his shoulder with his. " Your thinner and your pelt is duller, you got to get through this Nick." he turned and fixed him with a gaze that held so much worry. " And it's not just your mom and I that have noticed! Merrick has noticed!",
" Merrick? He can't do anything to me.",
" Nicky we may not be a pack, but Merrick is the leader of our group." With a huff the maroon fox stood his feet. " Just keep your head down around merrick, and please eat more!", His dad turned and snapped up the squirrel by his tail. " Now let's get back before your mother worries!".
Burning pain in her nose woke Judy from her sleep. No matter how many times she slept away from her younger brother, Jack. He seemed to find her in his sleep and would dream kick her awake by morning. Judy rolled over and rubbed at her nose. Judy flicked her ears around to listen for who was up. Immediately she could tell that the scout bucks were waking the foraging rabbits. The grey doe sat up and began her morning stretches. Judy licked her paw and gave herself a quick grooming of her fur. Smoothing the sleep rumpled fur back into place. Looking herself over one more time she hopped out tunnels excitedly. Once she entered the main den she came to a stop. The main den was a big cavern with a crack down the ceiling of it. The crack streamed sunlight from topside lighting up the inside of the warren. The warren consisted of a network of tunnels. The lower tunnels lead down to burrow like dens while the higher ones branched out and lead topside. Only one burrow stood out and that one belonged to the elders. It was a hollowed out cave were the elders stayed and held council. Judy took a deep breath and hopped over to the elders burrow. " Um, hello Glade are you up?", A gruffed voiced coughed and cleared it's throat.
" Who's there?", A doe's voice roughened by age broke out of from the dark of the burrow. A tan muzzle grey with age and blue eyes seemed to pierce the dark. Judy stumbled back in shock. Glade chuckled gruffly and sat stiffly in the entrance of the burrow. " I apologize my dear, isn't a bit early even for you to be up?" Glade glance up through crack in the ceiling. " The clouds aren't even pink with the upcoming sun yet.",
" Uh yes, I was wondering if I could request a um audience with the council?",
"Hmm, about what dear?",
Judy took a deep breath and puffed up her chest a bit. " I want to be a scout!", Glade eyes widened in shock before filled understanding.
" Oh I see, welp I will bring it up during morning munch with the rest of the elders.", Glade leaned over closer to Judy. " And between you and me, I believe it's about time we bring those scout bucks down a couple of notches!", Blue eyes filled with mirth as she turned to go back into the burrow. Bones cricking in protest. Judy hopped back to the clearing in the main den. Judy sat at a relatively quiet spot close to her family's burrow entrance. She watched as the scout bucks and the foraging rabbits go down the storage burrow. They came back up bringing up the morning munch for them selves, and for the rest of the warren when the other rabbits woke up. Two black and white does brought a handful of dried leaves, berries, and other assorted foods for the elders. Judy smiled when she recognized the two does as spots and speckles, of the Blackfoot family. As the elders began to gather around outside their burrow. Judy was practically trying not to vibrate in place out of nerves and excitement. Grey bunny's ears twitched, trying to pick up their conversation.
"...We should give a chance to-", glades was interrupted an equal gruff and annoyed voice.
" To do what get her self killed! Bucks have always been the scouts, and she come up here and wants to-",
" I wasn't finished Willow! Now interrupt me again and I'll show you why they call me Stone foot!", Glade's Voice snapped. " All I'm saying is to give her a chance. Why should it only be bucks that are scouts anyway?",
" Because buck have a more likely chance of surviving a predator if them come face to face with one, Glade.", The gentle voice of moss replied.
" Oh come now that's a load of fox dung!", ( Some where far away a fox sneezes XD) Glade swore. " Train her to fight like a buck then!",
" You want to have a buck train her to fight!", Willows voice bit through the conversation. " Are you crazy!",
" That could work actually.", Autumn's voice spoke up.
" Are you serious right now!", Willow broke in again. " And what happens when she bares a litter? Huh! What then? Are we to send pregnant does out into the forest to scout out a dangerous predator filled forest!",
" Of course not!", Glade snapped. " When they bare they stay put!",
" What if they hide it?",
"Oh now your just being ridiculous! No decent doe would hide their pregnancy!", Glade sneered at Willow.
" And what makes you think she is decent?",
" Why you arrogant-",
" Enough!" Hazel's voice echoed through the Warren heavy with both age a power. The elders went silent at Hazel's oder. Hazel Hopps even though his muzzle was covered in gray, his hips stuck out with age, and his blue grey eyes clouded with cataracts. His words still carried weight and held power. He was the oldest buck of the warren. " I propose a trail run?". Hazel paused to let that sink in. " Let's vote on it, all those against?". Judy's heart sunk as she saw almost half of the elders fore paws went up, Including Willow's. " All those in favor?". Judy's eyes widened as Hazel's fore paws came up to vote in her favor. " Majority favors Judith Hopps for trail run as the first female scout! This audience is over!". Hazel's grunted as he rose to his paws. " Judith Hopps!". Judy barely managed to keep from hoping over she was so excited.
" Yes sir?",
"Walk with me.", Hazel's said a he shuffled towards the middle of the main den. Judy noticed that while she had been paying attention to the elders the rest of Warren had begun to bustle with the morning munch. " I may have voted for your cause, but you are on your own.", Hazel paused in his walk to turn to her. " Do me proud Judy, you have my faith." Hazel gave an affectionate lick on the brow. " Now we just have to announce it your father and the rest of the Warren.", Judy tensed at the mention of her sire, but snapped out of it as Hazel began to shuffle forward again. Stu was already sitting in the middle of the clearing watching the bustle of the Warren and eating his morning munch. As they got close Hazel's demeanor changed. His ears perked up and his shoulders stiffened. Stu looked up mid chew when Hazel stopped before him. " The council has decided on the matter of your daughter being a scout, the elders voted in her favor.", Stu coughed as he choked on his morning munch.
" What! But she can't-",
"It has been decided! She can!",
" But as lead buck I get final say! And I do-",
" Be very careful how you finish that sentence!", Hazel's ears flicked before perking high on his head. " If I remember correctly if it weren't for you being mated to Bonnie you wouldn't be lead buck!", Hazel held Stu's gaze with a glare and puffed out his chest. " If anyone has a final it would be your mate!". Stu glared back ears perked high, chest puffed up, and his whiskers flicked in anger. Judy watched worriedly hunched on her haunches. Stu finally submitted by avoiding his Hazel's gaze and ducking his ears. Hazel gave a huff before thumping his foot three times get the Warren attention. Several rabbits ears perked up to hear what Hazel had to say. Hazel cleared his throat once before sitting back on his haunches ears perked. "There has a change to the Warren.", Hazel paused a moment. " Young Judith Hopps has asked to become a scout, the elder council and I have vote on behalf of such,". Many bunnies started talking all at once drowning out Hazel's voice. Hazel glared and thumped his foot several to be heard.
" A Doe as scout! You elders have gone mad!"
" If Hazel feels it's right than it is! Hazel has never le-,"
" But what happens if she bares a litter?".
" Are you crazy!"
" SHUT IT!", Glades rough voice seem to reach the edge of the clearing. "Jeez, you think we were talking to a bunch kits the way the lot you are behaving!",
" Thank you Glade,". Hazel sighed before turning back to the group of rabbits. " The vote as I was saying has already been decided, and the elders have voted to allow a trail run for Judy as scout." Hazel then turned seeming to search the group. " Jet? Jet where are you?" A solid black rabbit stepped out and stopped in front of Hazel.
" Good, you are in charge of Judy's training.",
" Yes, Hazel.", The dark bunny ducked his in respect. Hazel gave a nod and shuffled away. Judy gulped as she approached Jet. The dark bunny was one of the best scout in the Warren. Judy swallowed the feeling of wanting to check her fur.
" Um, so what's up first for training?",
Jet looked her over a minute keeping a blank expression. " Train will start tomorrow. I already plans today, so for now you can just shadow me." Judy barely contained a hop of excitement. " First finish morning munch and meet me at the west tunnel heading to the river." Jet flicked his ear in the direction of the tunnel before moving off to eat his own munch. Judy gave an excited hop heading over toward her family's den.