Science Fiction Indigenous Coming of Age

They circled each other, the ancient ritual of the eijak, teeth bared, hackles raised. The snow was soft, but not fresh. Each member of the pack watched in agony.

A low growl sprung from Aakon’s chest. He was willing to die, but not for his family. Because if he died for them, they all died. He imagined the newborn pups, bundled in their furs, too young to Shift. Helpless, blind.

He was not ready to kill, especially not his blood-brother, but Toran left him with no choice: one of them was to die. Toran had called upon the Tradition of Might.

This was a duel to the death for pack leadership.

Aakon’s dark coat outshone the snow with its brilliant blackness. Toran was broader, bloodthirsty. Toran charged first, but not until the eijak, cycle, was complete.

A full three circles around each other was tradition. And the Wolf Spirits of the ancient Okkanil pack never broke it.

Aakon refused to bite into his older brother, but Toran ripped open Aakon’s flesh through the fur. A cry of pain shot through the air, but Aakon was fighting for something: Eeiga. Family. 

He imagined the destruction of his everything. His world. And he pounced on Toran with a newfound anger, until they tumbled into the snow, the cold surrounding them. Snarling, Aakon pinned his older brother, but Toran curled from under him and gripped Aakon’s front leg. A hollowing snap pierced the still air as the bone broke in two. Aakon’s howl created a space in the void of silence that shook the ground. Toran stood triumphant as his younger brother toppled.

Staggering to his feet, Aakon stared into the eyes of his blood-brother. “How, how could you do this to me?” a shuddering whisper.

Toran waited. Waited for him to fight back.

Aakon writhed in pain, but charged with all the strength he had, in a body that could no longer hold it. Toran’s jaws connected with Aakon’s flesh, but this time, his neck. Resounding cries from the pack made Aakon claw back. Giving the last of his last.

But Toran had tasted Aakon’s downfall. His victory. And he shook the vulnerable flesh of his brother with vigour.

It happened too fast.

Aakon fell, heaving as he gurgled in his own pool of blood. Toran prowled around him, hunger in his very breathing.

Destiny had spoken.

“It’s over, brother,” Toran murmured, a feather of sound against a stone of steel.

“S-spare her,” Aakon choked out, feeling Fear as he realized his blood-brother’s face was Death’s. “P-please,” he begged. “The pups.”

Toran weighed his plea. “I’ll show you mercy, brother. The way you showed me mercy when you made me Omega.” He licked the fatal wound of his dying blood-brother. “I’ll send your wife, your pack and your new litter with you into the afterlife.”

Aakon didn’t even have time to choke out a howl of despair.

Toran bit into his neck, holding it with his jaws until Aakon’s body succumbed to snow, motionless. Etruia leaped forward, longing to cover her mate with tears. A piercing wail filled her howl. But they lunged towards her, tearing her apart, until she could cry no more.

Finally, Toran ran into the sacred place, the Place of Peace. The pack’s den. He found the pups, still weak in their furs. One by one, he shook each violently in his jaw, until he felt the crunch in their tiny necks and their mewling ceased. Finally, only the smallest was left. Toran remembered him from the Naming Ceremony.

The runt, Silver.

His own wife was expecting, but he winced at breaking the neck of the weakest of weak. Aakon had once been a runt. He didn’t need to kill his blood-brother twice. And his pack would need an Omega.

Karma was clever.

With a warrior’s howl, Toran left the small bodies of the litter in Peace, while he whisked the runt away to its new home, eeiga.

Sliver, he renamed him. 


North nuzzled him, like a mother might, licking his wet nose. “You’re lucky, Sliver.” Staring at the stars, she smiled weakly. “This is your moon.”

  “You’re not supposed to be here.”

I’m the Omega, North. A burden nothing could outweigh. If you stay, you’ll only hurt us both. You should know that. 

“You could run away to the Skyline,” she offered, innocently.

His hackles raised at the suggestion, “I can’t leave. This is my life.”

“Sliver.” Her eyes became stern, like a biting frost. “You don’t deserve this.” 

“But I’m not a Stray,” Sliver muttered defensively. “I have an eeiga.”

North mournfully eyed the dazzling black horizon. “I’d go, if I could,” a breath of words.

Sliver blinked at her, in shock. “You’re the joika.” The spirit path-maker.

A sigh escaped her. “Doesn’t mean I’m happy.”

He was only fifteen, but his lanky body felt ready.

This was the night he would Shift for the first time and see his human form. His spirit felt strong enough, capable of controlling the cravings.

Snow broke and resettled under the sound of approaching paws. Sliver sniffed the wind. Clay. His nemesis, the dominant one in their litter, but never the strongest. But the noise signaled two wolves. Sliver raised his nose again to the dancing wind.

Not even trying to conceal his scent. Ice.

Ice was a playmate, soft-hearted -- the wolf didn’t even know how to fight with his teeth. But a rebel against Father when it came to helping Sliver. Ice shared his food, joined Sliver to howl together at stars.

Clay only needed to nod at North and she disappeared like a wisp of smoke. Clay circled Sliver, as if to perform the eijak, barring his fangs, tail raised.

Sliver stared blankly at him. “What do you want?”

“Leave,” Clay snarled.

“Make me,” Sliver challenged, unfazed. Clay always came to release anger. Not much better than how the Fearful oppressed packs because of their perceived foreignness. But Sliver didn’t understand why Ice was here.

“Don’t tempt me, runt,” Clay shot back. “This moon is mine. Give it to me or I’ll take it from you.”

“You want me to give you the moon?” Sliver grinned, his tail swaying. “Look, I don’t know why my Shifting came early, but it’s not my fault.”

“Y-you’re mocking me,” Clay blinked, aghast. “Rot your fur, I’ll kill you.”

Sliver anticipated the pounce, the rough tussle, Clay grabbing his muzzle, shaking it. He was embarrassed by Clay nipping his stomach, forcing him to lower his ears in submission, but not surprised.

Until Ice joined in, grabbing Sliver’s neck. It wasn’t a play-grab or ruffling of his scruff to assert himself. It was Sliver’s throat. And it broke the skin.

“Ice -- stop!” Sliver cried at his littermate.

Betrayal cut deeper than the wound, but Ice only shook harder, as Clay pinned him. Sliver watched the stars blur his vision from dizziness. As he bled Sliver, Ice’s eyes were guilty, but that wasn’t enough. A realization that felt like getting winded:

I am going to die.

Sliver scrambled, fighting for his life. He tried to find a gap between their limbs and strength. None came, like being held beneath water. He clawed at snow, sliding further under Ice. Almost. He dug in his paws, inching just close enough --

His teeth grabbed his brother’s underside and tore. A yelp of confusion, pain. But it was the crack in the ice. Clay released pressure, concerned with Ice’s cry. Sliver pulled himself from under them.

And he ran.

Flying across the land he called home, the wind whistled in his ears, find your new star path. He did not know where he was going. But he knew he would survive.


Sliver couldn’t believe his eyes.

He’d heard endless tales of the Skyline. But that could never describe what he saw. Felt.

It was like standing on the edge of the world, the cosmos spinning around him. Traffic rumbled past, but he smelled a kaleidoscope of people, places. The snow was in brownish banks to the side of every pathway.

The Fearful really don’t follow, but carve their star paths.

He’d run all night, going opposite everything familiar, a straight line South. And just as his bleeding became too much, he had felt it.

A tingling, from his fingers that thrummed through his head, like a war drum. Until it became an acute pain shooting into every limb. The Elder had spoken of the power, but not the helplessness. It had felt like dying. He had howled in desperation, watching his body crack, collapse, and create itself anew.

Then he had sat up, gasping, to see himself, Shifted. Bare, cold. Looking exactly like a Fearful, except for his fangs, his long nails. His long black braid. In a pile beside him had been his shed fur, a blanket of silver. Wrapping it around himself, he had torn at it with his teeth, making holes for his new arms and legs, creating a tuuga. His fur clothing. It had stretched down to his ankles, warmth.

I did it.

Sliver had almost laughed. I Shifted.

That was his very first moon. And he had celebrated it with the shadows of a creeping dawn. Alone.

He shook his head to clear the memories, clutching his tuuga closer. Skyline was an ironic name; the buildings destroyed the horizon, not built it. Unlike home, everything here had a place. Whether it liked it or not. The trees were allowed in a line, the cars were always only on the road, the water was allowed in the fountain. Signs littered the concrete paths, but Sliver couldn’t read them.

People stared.

A child pointed at Sliver’s tuuga, laughing. Sliver still struggled to maintain balance on two legs. He now looked like them, but he could feel how he looked to them. It was obvious he was a Wolf Spirit from his tuuga.

None of them seemed to be One. Each dressed differently, each on their own star path. Their arms didn’t bear markings of their pack.

These were people, the Fearful. They were unable to Shift during a full moon, they lived without a Wolf Spirit. Sliver had heard too many cautionary tales about them.

They will never let you in, no matter how you change for them. In the end, you are left with nothing, you become nothing.

 But having a home with the Fearful must be better than being Stray. Than being homeless, haunted by homesickness.

Can they tell I’m a Stray? 

He discreetly tucked his long braid into his tuuga; no other men wore it long. Sliver came to a crosswalk, but heard a faint click behind him, turning to see a young woman holding her phone at him. She’s documenting. Me.

“You’re a werewolf!” exclaimed the woman, beaming as she stared into his eyes.

Sliver wondered if he’d accidentally gone Golden. “I’m a Voolnaki,” he corrected. “Spirit Wolf.”

She peered at him with too much interest. “Do you have a name?”

Sliver was offended beyond words, turning away from the crosswalk as a light changed behind him. How did she know I’m an Omega?


A blaring wail made Sliver cover his ears as he followed the scent of muted grass until he entered a fenced park. It was quiet, but there was another man with a darker complexion.

He has long hair. Sliver noticed his many braids. And he doesn’t seem to mind.

Suddenly, the wailing noise grew louder. The other man looked how Sliver felt, before he ran. Sliver heard a shout from behind him.


Turning around, Sliver looked directly at a burly man with a sunburned face. The man was angry. At him.

“Get over here, dog.”

Sliver narrowed his eyes, indignant at being called the slur for a Skyliner.

“Hey, take it easy. Whoa, stop that, now! Make your eyes normal! Steady now -- you’d better stop glaring like that. Eyes where I can see them -- attaboy, now: no gold.”

Sliver knew what Golden Eye meant. The Fearful didn’t understand it. Even some Voolnaki couldn’t control their eyes. Some said Golden Eyes was a curse, but the packs believed it was a blessing to protect them. But the sunburned man didn’t view it as either. 

To him, it’s an excuse.

Sliver smelled the excitement radiating from the large man as he barked at him to place his heads above him--“No, higher”--to kneel, with his back towards him, on the non-earth.

“What do you want?” Sliver asked, but the man only began patting at his tuuga.

“Weird costume. You’re from the rural resorts, huh?” The large man squinted. “Imma need to see some ID.”

Sliver cocked his head.

The man became infuriated. “Pack ID.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Sliver glanced around; people were watching. Documenting with their phones.

The man seemed pleased. “Then I’m going to need you to step aside, while we sort this out.”

He yanked Sliver from the pavement, taking him to the car. Sliver knew people went inside cars, but instead he was thrown over the hood, splayed like a caught fish.

He squirmed to get free, trying to stay calm. 

“Listen up, yellow-eyes. You either show me some damn ID or we go for a little trip down to the station.” He pushed Sliver’s face into the cold, hard car. “You don’t want that.”

“I don’t know what you want!” Sliver wailed, feeling tears threatening to pour.

“Give me your fucking ID, dog!”

Sliver felt his eyes turn. That tingling in his fingernails, a twitch in his jaw. Then a surge. He growled, a roar from the back of his throat and stared at the man.

Immediately, something metal clicked from the man’s pocket and he pointed it at Sliver’s head. A gun. 

“I don’t have any ‘ID!” The Fear was all-encompassing. “Let me go! Please, let me go!”

The officer holstered his gun, grabbing him off the hood, opening the door to the car --

“How many times have I said don’t leave without ID, son?” a low voice came from behind them.

Sliver tried to look over his shoulder to see who was talking.

The officer let the stranger come closer. A shorter, middle-aged man with darker skin. “Look at the trouble you’ve caused the officer! Should’ve just listened,” muttered the stranger, patting Sliver on the shoulder.

“Sorry, sir,” the stranger shook the officer’s hand. “Thanks for your time. Teenagers. Never listen, you know.” He winked at Sliver, showing the officer some ID.

Grunting, the officer frowned. “Don’t let it happen again.” 

“Never, sir. Have a good one!” The stranger smiled, taking Sliver away by his arm.

He didn’t save me for free.

“Call me, Julio,” he glanced at Sliver. “What’s your name, kid?”


A hearty laugh rumbled from Julio’s chest. “No, kid, your name.”

Sliver stared at him, confused.

“Ohhh,” Julio drew out the word. “You’re from a traditional pack, ain’t you? I’ve heard of them.” Julio eyed his tuuga. “You’re far from home, kid.”

I don’t have a home, Sliver wanted to say, but that would be admitting to being Stray.

“How old are you?”

“Fifteen. I just Shifted. My first moon.”

“Wow, okay, so you’re really new, then.” He stroked his chin with his index finger, a black band on it. “You should go back, kid. You stick out here like a sore thumb. This ain’t your home.”

“You’re a Skyline Voolnaki.”

“Yeah,” Julio hesitated. “You could say.”

Dog was the word we called them back home for always adapting to fit in with the Fearful. Some dogs even filed their fangs. Skyliner was the politest way of putting it that Sliver knew.

“People will think you’re a spy, pup,” he told Sliver.

“I couldn’t stop it,” Sliver confessed, suddenly. “I went Golden Eyes.” He bowed his head, ashamed that he couldn’t control the shade of his eyes. The building Shift.

“You’re new to the city, kid -- just Shifted. Why’d you come here? Most packs . . . out there . . . don’t like making contact.”

“I-I, well, I was . . .” Sliver hung his head. Rejected. Hunted. Abandoned.

“Hey,” Julio tapped Sliver’s shoulder. “Chin up, pup. You stay with us in the meantime.” He smiled, “We’ll get you proper clothes. And kid, you really need a new name.”

Sliver shrunk. “I like my tuuga,” he conceded. It felt -- smelled -- safe.

“Fine, just a new name then. Sliver’s a nickname. I know you guys call it your ‘Spirit name’ or whatever, but here, we have our name-name and a nickname.”

Sliver hated his name, but most Omegas were nameless.

Julio snapped. “Hey, why not Silver?”


Sitting with his back to the Skyline, Silver had driven from the bustling centre to the city’s edge, where he could see the stars. It was a full moon eijak, cycle, since he’d lost his home. His eeiga. Every part of him felt changed, reinvented. The ancestors likely shook their heads woefully.

But I’m alive to feel their wrath.

He imagined Ice tussling with a new playmate. How Clay would have found a different Omega to pin in the dirt. And he wondered -- hoped -- North might be longing for him to return.


A cure, a blessing when there. And a curse, a sickness when absent.

His hand ran over his newly-shaven head, missing its traditional braid. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his jeans, the Elder’s words echoed in his mind:

We, the Wolf Spirits, follow in our ancestors’ star paths.

Whenever you are lost, howl for home.

And we will always find our way to you.

Lifting his moonlit face, he climbed atop Julio’s truck. If only. Finally, he let the tears spill, the emptiness becoming his fill. If only you’d come find me.

With a loud cry, Silver turned to the North Star and howled a last goodbye to home.

April 12, 2024 01:56

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LeeAnn Hively
04:46 Apr 17, 2024

You have the perfect voice for stage narration. Campfire stories, maybe...like the one who would entertain the entire clan before civilization rose. A vital role that passed on all knowledge for hundreds of thousands of years before writing became a thing of permanence and could withstand the test of time. It is truly one of the most critical roles humans have ever held.


Isabel Jewell
15:27 Apr 17, 2024

Thank you so much LeeAnn! I truly appreciate your words, advice and feedback immensely! You made my day!


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Helen A Smith
16:54 Apr 14, 2024

You developed a brilliant alternate world here. Stunning characters. I could feel Silver’s pain. Very imaginative.


Isabel Jewell
18:15 Apr 14, 2024

Thank you so much for your comment and feedback, Helen! It is much appreciated! I'm so happy to hear the story's emotions were vivid and that you enjoyed it! :)


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Philip Ebuluofor
08:21 Apr 14, 2024

I like the officers voice there. I felt from here. Fine work.


Isabel Jewell
18:26 Apr 14, 2024

Thank you so much, Philip! I'm so glad you liked it -- I've had this story in my head for a while and then wrote it down, but it ended up being much longer than the prompt (4,500 words), so I'm glad the shortening didn't take away from the story!


Philip Ebuluofor
11:11 Apr 15, 2024

I can see that. Mine was almost that high two weeks I have to cut and cut. When you have something to say, it always flow.


Isabel Jewell
17:25 Apr 16, 2024

That is very true! Thank you!


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Darvico Ulmeli
20:33 Apr 12, 2024

I had a bike I called "Silver." Sounds stupid when I said now, but I didn't care. Your story reminded me of that bike. Thanks for that. And, I like your story.


Isabel Jewell
20:39 Apr 12, 2024

Thank you so much Darvico!!! It means a lot to hear you liked it and that it brought back fond memories! I’m thrilled you took the time to read it! (That’s a very cool name for a bike ;)


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Ev Datsyk
18:17 Apr 12, 2024

You have such a gorgeous narrative voice. I loved reading this story and exploring the world through Sliver’s forms. Beautiful!


Isabel Jewell
20:40 Apr 12, 2024

Thank you so much, Ev! I’m so excited you enjoyed the story!! Your comments mean a ton to me and made my day! I’ve always loved wolves, so it was really cool to do a story involving then!


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Mary Bendickson
05:36 Apr 12, 2024

Wolf order of things. Powerful story. Thanks for liking my 'Too-cute Eclipse'.


Isabel Jewell
20:42 Apr 12, 2024

Thank you so much, Mary, for your kind comments! I really appreciate you took the time to read it and comment! It means the world to me! You’re always welcome! You’re an amazing writer!


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Suzanne Marsh
21:39 May 16, 2024

great read, I enjoyed the story line/


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11:09 May 13, 2024

Great wolf story. I realized from the sci fi indigenous genre's you would be writing something magical and fantastic. Unspeakable tragedy at the start. Happens in nature but it's very sad. Is the MC Silver or Sliver?


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