A dog was running. Her furry pelt rippled as she jumped over frozen streams. She was tired, tired more than words can explain. But she can't stop. Not now. Not when she had a pup to go home to. She needed to get to him. To protect him.
She smartly weaved and dodged her way around the forest. She leaped fallen trees despite the thick snow clogging up her fur. Finally, she stopped to rest behind a clump of bushes. She crouched, panting heavily. She was sure she'd lost whatever was tailing her.
She waited a few moments before starting off again, easily tearing through familiar territory.
Something hit her foreleg, pain shooting through her body. She slowed, stumbling on the snow. Then she fell. The silhouettes took her away.
A waning moon rose over the Icelandic sky. Across the white tundra of Frostypoint, one den housed a single male Husky pup, who had been hibernating for a month; still waiting for the warm presence of its mother. Out of fear and the want to find his mother, the four month old puppy finally stepped out of the den and out onto the icy tundra.
He remembered what he thought was a nightmare; how his mother fell senselessly to the ground after a loud whirr last month. Was it real…or was it just a dream? With every passing second, it was becoming more and more real. The pup whimpered with every pawstep on the frosted ground, whimpering with each painful step.
The last time he'd been out was but a distant memory now. For a long time, he kept to the den, sustaining himself on a furry rabbit his mother caught for him the last time she was here. He stayed where he was, sure that his mother would return. But she hasn't been home for a while, and he had just eaten the last of the rabbit's remains. The puppy assured himself. He was going to find her.
He padded out onto the tundra. He looked up at the sky, starry and wide. The wind blew across the plains, shaking grass stalks and riffling through his fur. This was his place; a place where he belonged. A place with exactly what they needed to survive.
From where he stood at the side of the hill, there was a wide expanse of sea ahead, shimmering brilliantly under the moonlight. The rocky coast glittered. A pine forest stretched widely to his left. Intuition led his paws into its dark shade. It just seemed logical to search the forest first. It's where he and his mother used to hunt. He swiftly traversed the short distance.
The pine trees loomed above him as he walked. The wind whistled through the trunks. It was incredibly quiet; the snow muffling most of the sound. All he could hear was the wind and his paws on the snow. He plodded on, desperate to find his mother, or at least another morsel of food.
Another sound. It was the crunch of something stepping on the snow. He looked around, terrified. He found nothing. But he knew better.
He ran away as fast as he could, breathing out icy clouds of steam. He weaved across the forest, trying to use the trees to shake off whatever was tailing him. He closed his eyes. He heard barks in the distance. The crunching sound got nearer. They were gaining on him. He picked on speed and he heard more barks. Oh no.He wouldn't be able to keep this up. The snow caught on his furry paws, slowing him. He was getting tired.
Zipppppp! A sharp pain shot through his body. It hit his flank. His vision blurred, and his head hurt like he'd run into a rock. Everything faded into black. He fell, the snow cushioning his fall.
"We got him!" a voice sounded, surprisingly close. The snow they stepped on crunched crisply underfoot. A ripple coursed through his body as he felt weightless all of a sudden. He was lifted up and cradled by one of them. Other than a slight kick, he didn't struggle to get free. He was far too weak and exhausted to do that.
"Well, the tranquilizer dart really did get him good!" another voice said, "Let's load him onto the ship." Their voices faded into silence as the young puppy fell into deep unconsciousness.
"Lay 'im 'ere, Rick."
The man carrying the shivering bundle transported it to a small sled they brought with them. He lay it on its side. By now, the pup was fast asleep; its breathing slow and regular. As the man tied him down, his fluffy pelt stuck out from the ropes they used to bind him.
"Quickly," His companion picked at the ice coating the front of the sled, "this forest's beginnin' t'give me the creeps." He looked at his companion with an as-a-matter-of-fact expression on his face. He was dressed in an old red sweater and tattered jeans. Fur-lined boots and a gray scarf topped him off.
"Aye, Paul," Rick approved, grabbing the rope that they'd use to tug the sled. "We best get going." He wore the same scarf and boots as his companion; however, his clothes were in much better condition compared to those of his companion's. His sweater was striped green and light green, and his jeans weren't tattered.
Paul just nodded blankly and helped Rick lug the sled to the port.
Finally, they reached it. A man stood on the pier, apparently waiting for them. His thin, gaunt frame stood eerily as night shadowed over his features. He wore clothes fit for a skipper; a sharp-looking uniform, navy blue and gold. The breeze let his messy brown hair fly, partly covering his face.
The duo stopped next to him, letting him inspect the puppy in the sled. He sighed, sending a cloud of steam off into the wind.
He cracked his knuckles with satisfaction and a side of his mouth curled upwards in a fascinated smile. "Near full grown. He's a fine one, indeed."
Rick nudged Paul, as if to encourage him. Paul hesitated but finally got the courage to speak up. "Are you sure about your plan, Cap'n Monty?" He tried to keep his voice steady, but it wobbled a little. "I mean, why take them away in the first place?"
"Because, dear Paul, it has to be done," he crooned coolly, "The new complex will be built in that area soon, and we don't want trouble with the environmental groups. They're watching us like hawks." He gave a slight shudder, glancing over his shoulder for emphasis. "They're supervising us on the entire thing. Remember, the owners of the proposed complex will want no trouble with them, and they're counting on us."
"And don't worry," he added, "they'll be plenty safe and satisfied in Ýmir. It meets the requirements. 3 meters wide, 2 meters long and 2 meters high. It has a place for them to sleep and a window to help them with motion sickness. Salmon for the next 4 months. Makes me wonder how much money they have to spend."
"Alaska or Siberia?"
"It would be better for the fledgling to be sent to Alaska instead of Siberia. Now," The captain held his hands out to them. "Load it onto that ship."
He pointed to a bulky ship which was docked a few dozen meters behind him. The two looked back at the dog, still out cold. They were still hesitant, so the captain took a different tone to try and get them to do it.
"So, are you two angels just going to stay there and freeze to death? I said, Load it onto that ship!" The sharp, sarcastic edge to the order got them. The two nodded almost at the same time. They rushed the shivering bundle across the snow passing the ship they intended to transport him without even a glance back. Pushing the sled and going as fast as their feet could take them, they stopped in front of the gigantic cargo ship.
"Hey, Stone!" Paul called up, "Husky cargo at 3 o' clock, Luke!"
Luke Stone looked below the ship and acknowledged. He let down a ramp and gave them both a handshake.
"Rick… and Paul! Welcome to the Ýmir! Wow, that one looks really healthy!" He looked at the Husky, looking well-fed and fluffy. "We better get you guys in, along with the cargo."
They followed him, lugging the Husky and chatting idly up the ramp.
"So this guy says, 'I nearly slashed it out on 'im. Ye should've seen 'is face!" Rick articulated to Luke, who was listening attentively. "The next moment, he slips on the flippin' swab, and hits his head on the prow! He hid himself in his bunker, he did."
"Oh, really! Hahahahahaha! What a great laugh I suppose that was!" Luke expressed himself gleefully.
They put the sled in a small hold, big enough for a puppy his size to move comfortably. It was made of metal walls with a single bowl of salmon in one corner and a hanging bunker made of cold steel, cushioned with a soft mat, on the other. A glass window opened to the sea. Luke looked at them both, his gaze drifting across the two.
"Unstrap the puppy," he commanded.
Rick and Paul hurriedly unstrapped the figure which was beginning to stir. They laid it down gently on the bunker. The puppy gave a whimper of discomfort. Luke stared at it for a moment that seemed to last a second or maybe a month. He finally mumbled with a long sigh. "I suppose we should give him more cushions to rest on."
Rick and Paul replied simultaneously. "Uh-huh."
Getting a pillow from the storage, they placed it on the cold bunker under the pup's head.
They, along with Luke, went off for the steering deck.
"Come on and let's get Ýmir off for her maiden voyage!"
The sound of the door closing roused the sleeping pup. He was now fully conscious and looked around with panic. Scrambling to his paws, he threw itself full-force upon the steel door. It wouldn't budge. He tried jumping into the sea, but was blocked out by the glass. Hurt and bewildered, he closed his blue, round eyes and clearly heard the call of the tundra, howling for him to come back… home.
A/N: Finally! I got to edit this thing! It was hard, but really worth it. Woof! Thanks to TheTigress and DappledKarma for the suggestions and pointing out errors. I owe you both!