Bounding from a boulder, he dropped 4 times his own height down a sharp incline. Loose soil shifted beneath his well calloused feet, enabling him to slide further down the slope. As momentum slowed, he tore down the slope at sprinting pace, taking extended strides. On reaching the plain, his pack hurried after him more than a hundred paces distant; not that he needed their help.
Half a league ahead, he saw his goal, a kangaroo bounding across the far side of the valley. No dog would have attempted to run after the beast. They relied more on hearing and smell to track an animal, and didn’t bother to chase anything which they couldn’t track with either.
The pack had almost reached him. All panted and a few of them had already slowed down to a trot as he bolted ahead of them. As yet, the kangaroo hadn’t seen him. Tonunda ran in a wide arc, keeping to the rear of the beast. He broke away from the last of the trees and pounded his hands on the ground. Now running on all fours, he easily left the pack behind, tearing across the plain in his rapid stride.
The kangaroo stopped to pick amongst the greener stalks of grass. Tonunda slowed to three quarter pace, coming within a hundred paces and closing when it jerked its head aside. It turned, and stopped itself from bounding into a tree, before veering. By the time it had made its decision, Tonunda leapt and bounded from the tree, hooking arm around the kangaroo’s neck. Both crashed to the ground, and struggled to rise briefly. Although it desperately attempted to aim its rear feet into him, he avoided the disemboweling claws. Keeping it low to the ground, Tonunda set his jaws to the neck and tore a chunk free. Its struggles became feebler over a period of several seconds as the first of the dogs arrived. They tore the freshly killed beast’s flesh and tugged in separate directions, soon forming a struggling circle. Tonunda meanwhile, retreated to sit on a fallen log.
His little sister, Natha, a small brown bitch, circled the group, looking for a free space to eat from. Whenever she tried to slip between the frenzied pack, one of them would snap at her, forcing her back. Growling, Tonunda ran and bounded into the midst of the biting ring. He batted them aside and snapped at them, back all away from the kill. With flattened ears, they backed away, growling indignantly. When he felt they were sufficiently subdued he looked at his sister.
What; you will let her eat first? said one of the females.
Aye, said Tonunda. Even men feed their weakest members.
The strongest survive; that is the way of the dog packs.
That is the way of my pack. He looked to Natha once more. Natha he said tenderly, come and eat.
He eyed the rest of the pack keenly, forcing them to stand aside as Natha proudly walked to the carcass. The pack made ready to converge on the dead beast.
Tonunda gave a low growl. The rest of you may eat when she is finished.