Tracking the Bear

We looked around the site where the last attack happened. There was still blood everywhere. They’d cleaned up the bodies and the equipment but there was just dirt covering the blood. They left it around and the animals would scavenge what it could before the scent faded away.

I could smell the coppery scent mixed in the damp dirt. Michaela’s nose was wrinkled she could smell the decaying scent as well. My mother was completely oblivious to the remaining scent. “I can’t smell anything else.” Michaela exclaimed.

“I know. But the bear was here. I can smell the forest underlying.”

Michaela laughed, “For being Minorem you sure have some unique talents.”

Leanne looked at me and frowned. “He’s not like you then?” She asked Michaela.

“He can’t keep up with me, but he can out see and smell and out hear me any day. I might almost say he was out healing me too except he gets sick. The common cold kicks his ass.” She joked.

But the truth of it was it did. She’d seen it in all it’s glory. And the stomach virus too. The bad thing about living with the Venatori – I didn’t have a great immune system. I was healthier than most Minorem who went out in the real world because I did go out in the real world. It’s one reason why I’m like the only half human hunter. They can’t be out in the real world without contracting some semi-deadly disease. But some Minorem get the full healing ability. But it’s rare.

“I can filter out the scent now. Figured out a new trick a bit back.”

Michaela looked at me with her head cocked to the side trying to put together what I’d just said. I hadn’t had that ability when we last hunted a bobcat. But I did now. She was trying to figure out what had happened between then and now. I gave my mentor a wry grin and wove the filters and set it to pull out the scent of just the were bear.

“This way.” I said as I found the trail.

My mother fell in behind Michaela. “He’s part bloodhound?”

Michaela chuckled, “Apparently. When I requested him I was surprised he was assigned me honestly. He’d excelled in city survival and barely just gotten passed the woodland survival.”

I interjected. “I barely passed because the instructor didn’t like me. He thought I was a know it all. And I was. I knew it all. I aced every exam and my group was back first.”

Michaela laughed. “I know. I spoke with Dae’lin Rivera personally about it. She reassured me that I was getting a kid who wouldn’t put me to shame. And short of our disagreements on topics I’ve not been disappointed.” She praised me with a touch of laughter in her voice. Her meaning was doubled edged and I couldn’t help but grin as I lead them through the forest.

“Nox, why didn’t he just give you a good grade then?”

I shrugged. “Because it’s objective. Did he demonstrate a keen sense of survival instinct?”

Michaela quoted the answer mocking the voice of a man who was full of himself. “No. He chooses to disobey direct orders and follow his own judgement even after having his opinion noted and the decision to go another route had been made. Resulting in the failure of his whole group.”

“So your whole group failed because of you?” Leanne asked almost as indignantly as Michaela’s voice had been mocking the instructors.

“No, they didn’t. Just me. Their time was excellent, their answers perfect, and their leadership ability paramount, all because I lead them over the rock face with limited rock climbing gear and my ability. Our team leader decided it was too dangerous and wanted to go around. And he did. He didn’t want me to use my ability on him. So we beat him back by two days by going over. We were waiting at the camp for him with no cuts, bruises or broken bones. While he has fallen down into a small ravine, busted his arm, and we had to reset it because it had healed wrong.”

“If it was reported as a failure how did Dae’lin Rivera know the truth?” Leanne asked, more of Mich than me.

I answered though. “Because Dae’lin knows me better than that. She never just looks at the grade. She looks at the reason behind it. I didn’t just pull straight A’s in school because of my good looks and knowledge. Dae’lin insured I got what I deserved. She always requested a copy of my scores, and the original copies of my work. It’s one reason Dae’lin isn’t pissed that I failed nearly every final before graduation.”

Leanne gasped, “Why did you do that? Surely they weren’t that hard.”

Michaela laughed, “Let me guess, you answered everything on the paper but didn’t write down any of the answers on the answer sheet.”

I nodded. “Pretty much.”

“Why?” Leanne protested much to my satisfaction.

“Because I didn’t want to be valedictorian and give a speech to a bunch of snot nosed brats who tortured me my whole life.” I said then glanced back at Michaela who was trying not to laugh, “No offense.”

“None taken.” She said. “So you figured out what grade you needed to drop to third?”

I nodded proud of myself. “Yeah.”

“Dae’lin had to be pissed at first seeing those grades.”

I shook my head. “Not really. She looked at how bad they were and then immediately went to my sheets. Every answer was perfect, every question answered. She asked Dorian if he knew anything about it while I was standing in the hallway watching them. Dorian peeked around her and shook his head then laughed. He told her why I’d done it. She dragged me into her office by my ear for the last time. Then she pulled the blinds shut and gave me a going away present.”

“Which was?” Michaela asked.

I held up Damnation. “This and Salvation.” I patted the knife on my hip. “She gave them names – said you will be the Salvation and Damnation of every creature out there.”

Michaela laughed. “I don’t think she really understood the words she spoke.”

“I think she did.”

I held up my hand and pointed. “I think we are getting close.”

At that my mother pushed past me. “I’ll take the lead.”

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