The night was clear. Calm. A large shadow danced on the wall of a cozy cave.
"Momma, look how big I am!" A small voice chirped. Hearing her daughter's voice, a weary-looking Zorua lifted her head and forced her eyes open as much as possible. "You are," she replied, amusement faintly glinting in her eyes, "And you'll grow bigger if you get your rest."
The little Zorua huffed, miffed by her mother's seeming disinterest. "I don'tneed to rest!" With that, she began to chase her soft tail with what seemed like boundless energy. After a few minutes, her eyelids drooped. "I... Don't need to... Rest..."
Moonlight let out a warm laugh, gently pulling her daughter to her side with her tail. "Goodnight, little one."
The furball curled up against her let out a soft sigh before giving into inevitable sleep. Moonlight closed her eyes as well, exhausted to the bone, but a certain joy only mothers can feel welled up in her chest, and she stroked Star's fur with a paw.
A sharp snap made the Zorua's ears twitch, and, despite her alarm, she lifted her head slowly so as not to disturb the little Zorua sleeping close to her. She rose from their nest, padding closer to the entrance, listening. She could make out pawsteps. Soft pawsteps, so soft that she wondered if she could be imagining it. But another snap of a twig told her this was no dream. Something was coming closer to their den. Every hair on her pelt bristled, and Moonlight let out a low growl. "Show yourself," the Zorua demanded in a harsh whisper.
The movement stopped, and there was a long pause. Then a familiar voice spoke dangerously close to her ear.
"Looks like you're not as stupid as I thought."
A burning sensation ripped across her chest, so fast that Moonlight had no time to process what was happening. Warm blood quickly soaked through her fur, and she stumbled back, gasping for air. The shadowy figure moved past her, with a jeering laugh into her ear as it slipped past. The Zorua coughed, drops of scarlet quickly dotting the ground. In a flash, she realized what was happening.
"Damn it," Moonlight choked out, stumbling into the den. Her eyes darted around frantically. Then she heard a bone-chilling screech.
"Aw, what's wrong?" Smoke's voice said again, but not to her this time. To Star. "There's no reason to be scared of me. This will all be over before you know it."
Moonlight threw herself at him with all the strength she possessed, her sharp claws hooking into his skin. She bit his arm, and he let out a cry of surprise. Moonlight bit harder as the warm tang of blood filled her mouth, and she bit back the urge to gag. Then, blind with fury, Smoke threw her off in a harsh motion that sent her onto the cave floor.
Pain shot through every bone in her body, but she stood up on shaky legs. "You can kill me, you bastard, but if you lay so much as a claw on my daughter, I'll make sure to bring you with me." Moonlight eyed the dark shape of her daughter crouched in the farthest corner of their den, whimpering, but unharmed. Relief flooded through her body, giving her strength despite the sticky blood still trickling from her wound.
Smoke gave her a disbelieving glance, filled with amusement. "You're so tiny, I could knock you out with one blow."
Fury flared in the Zorua's eyes as she launched herself at the Zoroark again. He sighed before aiming a blow at her throat. Moonlight ducked at the last second, lightly landing on all fours, and stared up at him, eyes brimming with uncharacteristic hatred. He merely returned the stare with not so much as a flinch.
"Momma? I-I'm scared..." Star's small voice wavered from the corner. Both pairs of eyes, blue and red, turned to her, and she let out another small cry, wrapping her tail tightly around herself. Moonlight inched towards the little Zorua.
"It's alright now. I'm here," she soothed, stroking her tail along Star's back.
Smoke squinted in the dim light, taking a step that brought him much too close to Moonlight and Star. The young Zorua buried her face into her mother's chest, trembling. Moonlight glanced around for any escape, but there was none. It was only them, cornered, and there was only one thing left to do. The Zorua's eyes finally met Smoke's. "I hope your last thoughts are that you brought this on yourself," she snarled, leaping at his throat. The motion was so fast, so sudden, that the Zoroark had no time to react. Moonlight's teeth sank into his soft throat until blood spurted from the wound. There was a second of silence before a loudthud resonated through the night. Star cowered, brought nearly to tears by the sight of her normally loving mother so viscous. "He went to sleep..." she pointed out in a shaky voice.
Moonlight slowly backed away, a paw stained with crimson. "He's dead." She said curtly.
"D-Dead? What have you done?"
The Zorua just shook her head, as if she was unable to answer that question, even for herself.