Chapter 3- Part 1 The Snow Is Colder On the Other Side of the Hill

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Chris trudge through the snow, slowly making her way up the mountain. Following the poachers stale scent as she pulled her feet out of the thick white powder. 'Thank goodness it didn't snow last night' She thought as she hiked her small pack up higher on her shoulders. She only carried the bare essentials as she wasn't planning to be out longer that a day or two.

The report was 3 pups were missing in the woods and poachers were seen in the area. The local human forest service gave her as much information as they could about the alleged poachers, and they even offered a snowmobile, which she refused. She needed to be stealthy if the poachers had the pups. Most humans didn't know about her kind, the ones that did were friends of the pack, most of them were forest service, but there were a few mayors in major cities and also Frank her business manager. The humans who weren't suppose to find out were either threatened or put in a psych ward for wild stories about giant wolves. It wasn't the perfect system but it is what they had to do to keep her pack safe and her kind hidden.

A cold breeze blew through her path and she paused smelling something new, something fresh. They were coming towards her. The smell of cheap cologne, sweaty bodies, alcohol and some serious BO came down the mountain. Chris looked down at her watch and then up at the sky. It was 11AM, and the sky was clear a few clouds in the west threatening snow later this evening. Her cell phone buzzed and she looked down to find that it was an alert that there were no bars and she was in roaming service. She grunted annoyed and turned it off. 'No point in running the battery down' she thought as she moved faster up the mountain, the scent growing stronger.

Her path came to a large clearing, they were less than a quarter of a mile away. She could hear them as they tramped through the snow like they were walking on pop-it fireworks. 'Hmmm... not being really stealthy today.' She thought to herself as she began to walk in circles around the clearing 'they must have thought they got away with it'. She backtracked a few times and kicked the snow around, trying to make it look like she had been there for hours. When she had everything set she found a tree right next to the head of the trail where their scent was coming from and plopped herself down. Pushing the snow around and taking turns holding her breath and putting pressure on her eyes to make it look like she had been crying. She took off her shades and put them in her bag. Then she leaned back on the tree, pretending she was asleep.

She heard them move around the corner of the trail and start walking down. 4 humans, male judging on how much noise they were making stomping around. They were also dragging something, perhaps a sled, and then she heard the lite padding and sniffing. 'Oh great' she thought, 'they have a dog'. She almost groaned to herself, a dog would be able to smell what she is, and either he could be submissive or defensive. 'I guess we'll find out soon' She thought as she heard the dog pause picking up her scent and begin to pad toward her quickly.

"Hey! Barney get back here!" The owner yelled still unable to see her sitting against the tree. Chris almost scoffed 'who calls their dog Barney!?' She thought to herself. Just then Barney began barking.

Chris made a great show of jumping awake with a yelp. "Ah! Oh my- Uh... Good doggie."

"Who is there?" Said a commanding male voice, walking around the tree to find her cornered by his dog. The man was very tall and built like a tree, with thick black hair, bushy eyebrows, and dark black eyes. He looked to be in his late thirties and would be considered handsome in a gruff mountain man kind of way, that wasn't especially appealing to Chris.

Chris looked up at him allowing herself to show relief on her face. "Thank God! I thought I was going to die up here!" She made a motion to get closer to him but the dog got in the way barking furiously.

"Barney! Down!" The man said snapping his fingers, the dog reluctantly behaved moving behind his master. Chris's wolf growled in her head as she looked at the arrogant dog, wanting to show it who is dominant. Chris pushed the thought down, reminding her wolf that this wasn't the time or place. They need to be undercover to find the missing pups. "What have we here?" The man said folding his arms as he looked down on her. The other three men showed up just then one was pulling a sled with what looked like trapping gear on it.

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