Chapter 3: Friendly Faces
The pastel yellow bands of the sky were just beginning to rise with the Kolis. Dhurgan softly churned in the back of her RV as she rose to meet the dawn. Being an early riser was an old habit of hers. After all, her high school had been far away from her den and she liked taking the scenic route.
Not bothering to stifle a yawn pushing through her, Dhurgan sat up and groggily wiped her eyes. After a good ten hours of driving, she was finally near Runaan. Shed briefly stopped near a trailer park just outside the city where her home, for the next four years, lay. This was really happening.
Climbing out of bed, the redhead trudged over to the bathroom. Brushing her tusks, she recalled the day she received the acceptance letter. Word had traveled the town quite fast, with both her mothers running out to every neighbor they knew. Chuckling at the memory of their excitement, her heart already ached with the now-familiar sadness.
After spitting out the minty bubbles, and watching them cascade down the drain, she filled her hands with water and scrubbed her face. These four years were gonna be hard. Great, but hard. She barely spent a day away from her pack in the past, so to be completely outside clan territory was a lot, to say the least. She still had some furs from her Nar abe and some sweaty boxing gloves from Nar ube, but it wasn like the real sweet scent of home.
It was okay. She could do this. Dhurgan cast a sideways glance at her boxes. There wasn any turning back.
As she tied up her curly mane into a low bun, she contemplated her new life. The school was already an hour away. She had to be mentally ready. Sure, the ultimate goal was to get scouted by a fighting agency and become a pro fighter, but adjusting was just as important.
There weren many other races in Gristar since the region was hard to access even by train. Dhurgan had only seen two half-orc kids and an oni in her school. They were welcomed and treated well and Dhurgan had even become the best of friends with the oni until she moved, but they weren common in Gristar.
Taking a swig of her protein shake, Dhurgan slammed the cup back down on the folding table. She knew just the thing to take her mind off of the mounting anxiety. Walking over to her punching bag, she swung a punch towards the bag that hung from the ceiling. Her powerful muscles rippled under the forceful flurry of jabs. Finishing with a right hook, she sighed and wiped the sweat that collected on her brows.
With her head a little clearer, Dhurgan thought back to the first time she learned how to use her fists.
Her opponent was another alpha from middle school, who was a good head taller than her. Hed constantly bullied her little sister, who was born tuskless. Dhurgan had gone to personally beat some sense into the little jerk when her Narube suggested that she handle things the traditional way: a joktag match.
The match took place before the offended party, the offenders, and a druid. The rules were simple: get in a pit and make your opponent submit or kick them out the pit. No weapons, no back up; just your fists. The third surrender or win resulted in a ruling favoring the winner.
After training for an entire three weeks, the match was announced. Twelve-year-old Dhurgan gulped nervously as she looked up at her sneering opponent. Breathing in deep, she settled into a stance on her side of the pit.
An hour later, Dhurgan had pinned her opponent, snarling at him to give up the fight. Streaks of red dirt coated her body and face, a split adorned her lip, and her right brow sported a small gash. The other cub yelled out his surrender. Dhurgan glanced down at him before extending a hand. Shed never experienced a happier moment in her life as she turned to face the roaring cheers of the crowd and the look of gratefulness from her sister.
That memory gave Dhurgan just the push she needed to get herself in gear. She could face this. Shed sparred against her Narube, fought opponents twice her size, and babysat nine unruly cubs. Who was to say she couldn conquer college?
”Watch where you
e goin! ”
The grumpy oni simply snarled back at the small angry orc who muscled his way past him.
Trying to navigate the busy streets of Runaans Fifth Ward was tough. Hed made four wrong turns, got lost in three allies, and almost fell into a sewer. Thankfully, a couple had taken pity on him and directed him to the subway that would take Homraz to the schools district.
As he navigated the busy street, Homraz thought about the potential of a new life in Malak. With his status as a student, he could work his way to gaining permanent residence. He could bring his old man, rent a place near the school, and maybe even learn more about where he truly came from.
While dreaming of the endless possibilities before him, Homraz hadn seen the truck that barreled down the street.
The horn blared, screeching its impending impact.
He turned around just a fraction early but still couldn budge. Absolute terror ripped through him as he tried to command his muscles to move.
They wouldn comply.
Then, a large, green and red mass shot in between him and the vehicle. Homraz didn even notice hed been pushed till he saw the pavement underneath his scraped palms. Breath jagged, uneven, and shallow, his gaze shifted to what shouldve been the scene of his crash. Instead, he saw her.
Dhurgan had just pulled into the parking lot of a roadside bakery.
Ordering a protein shake and harpy-egg muffin, she sat on the patio, whipping out her phone to check for any miscalls. One photo with a text graced the top of her notifications.
hog chaga muth ragan! Kurkath thog!
(We miss you! Love you!)
A photo with all of Dhurgans family was attached. All nine siblings and her moms.
Dhurgan smiled fondly and texted a quick reply before a loud horn instantly dragged her attention towards the street. A young half-orc was right in the path of a truck barreling straight for him.
Dhurgans body moved on its own.
Sprinting at breakneck speed, she just barely slammed the truck to a harsh stop with her shoulder. The machine shuddered forward with a groan, its back wheels lifting off the ground. Then it fell back onto all fours.
Breathing heavy, Dhurgan turned to the orc she had just rescued.
”Are you alright? ” she asked, still growling from the adrenaline rush of the incident.
Homraz blinked in surprise as his brain faintly registered, under the loud rush of blood in his ears, that the alpha was talking to him. The strong scent of aggression, that shouldve comforted him, forced a mist of cold sweat to ghost his forehead. Realistically, he knew he didn need to fear her. She had just saved his life, but logic wasn in the drivers seat now. His head pounded violently as he silently willed his throat to not collapse on itself.
Clamping a hand over his nose and mouth, Homraz finally commanded his unwilling tongue to jump back in it.
”I-Im fine, ” he stuttered, his words tripping over themselves to compensate for the tense silence. He was glad at least one of them was wearing their scent-blockers. The air between them was thick just from the petrichor of the alphas scent.
”That was pretty close! Watch where you
e going, okay? ”
A frantic nod was the reply. He struggled to cough out a coherent reply, but nausea already had him in a vice-like grip.
”C-cut that out! ” Homraz wheezed.
Fuck, he groaned inwardly, choking down the rising bile.
”Y-your scent, for shits sake! Don you wear blockers? ” He was more than a little desperate at this point. His vision swam as a well of tears threatened to spill over his waterline.
She looked at him in blatant confusion.
”You almost died, and you
e worried about my scent? ” the Alpha asked.
Homraz was still torn between telling her off, and booking it to the nearest trash can to dry heave. Even though her scent was losing strength, it was strong enough to have him pass out from asphyxiation. Honestly, his patience was wearing very thin.
Sprinting to the nearest restaurant, Homraz slammed the door to the first stall, collapsed weakly over one of the toilets, and heaved. He heaved out the grief, heaved out the anger, and heaved out the panic that remained even after five years. No matter how much he heaved. No matter how empty he tried to feel.
Shuddering violently, Homraz slowly straightened up and brushed the dust off his clothes, wishing he could do the same to the vile taste the bile left in his throat. He fished his phone and meds out of his backpack. The incident didn take up that much time. He could hurry to orientation if he left now. Downing two small blue capsules of relief, he checked his phone for any local ride shares. In his frightened presence of mind, he made sure to select an Omega driver. There was a driver within five minutes of him.
Maybe the moon mothers love me after all, Homraz scowled inwardly.
Dhurgan hadn expected the half-orc shed rescued to be so rude. What was the big deal about scents? After all, shed just saved his life!
More confused than angry, it left her at a loss for words at how angry hed been, once his life was out of danger.
All she could do was head back to the cafe.
Shaking her head clear of thought, she picked up her food from the barista.
A small wink was delivered as well.
Blinking back in surprise, Dhurgan chuckled awkwardly at the bold brunette.
”Your scent, for shits sake! ”
She noticed he had a small medical patch on his scent gland. Come to think of it, almost everyone in the restaurant had a similar patch on their wrists and neck, except for a couple of elves and humans. It hit her then, that the air was devoid of their scent.
Shed make a mental note to get one of those ”blockers ” later. A loud slam from the direction of the bathrooms pulled her from her thoughts, and she paused as she saw the same omega shed just saved trudging out the bathroom.
Purchasing water, she handed him a bottle.
”What do you want? ” he growled menacingly.
”You seem like you needed it? ” she offered.
The half-orc paused. Then his face screwed together in a pained expression. It was noticeably less intense than the face he made outside.
A loud smack reverberated through the restaurant as he slapped the water out of her hand.
”All I need, ” he spat. ”Is for you to leave me alone! ”
And with that, the huffy half-orc with the raven hair and scowl was gone.
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