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“HEY, SEED! Think fast!” A squeaky cry screeched from just over my shoulder. Thought my mind had not yet comprehended the words, that awful voice made me duck my head down and tuck in my wings for a dive. I fell about two inches before a fat hard acorn flew just overhead. The threat over, I yanked my wings open before my claws touched the net of branches beneath me.
I spun around to face him. “Go back to your flock, Quick! We don't want you here!” I snarled furiously. This time his acorn smashed into my chest. I fell back, flapping my wings as much as my muscles allowed. The acorn had knocked the breath out of me as well as tore out a tuft of my feathers. The rough, jagged winds sliced into the bare patch, making me want to wail like I was only a fledgeling. Ooohh... I did NOT like that stupid little Pine Jay!
I screamed with fury, but did not attack. I should've. I had every right. Quick started the fight, so I had the right by the Law of the Birds to fight back. But I knew Quick was stronger then me. He was the biggest of the young birds in his flock, as well as the most aggressive. The only way I could ever beat him was if I reached my peak anger, which was not the most likely thing to happen. I usually got bloody when that happened, and that wasn't something I really liked to be. Besides, Quick just wanted to show off to his sweetheart-who-wasn't-his-mate, Lissa, who I knew was out there, waiting for the fight to break out. Maybe if I remained calm, Quick would pick a fight elsewhere. I could only hope that it would happen fast, because it was getting harder and harder to hold myself back as the pain of my wound grew worse.
Don't let him get to you, I told myself. DON'T! I took a deep breath and tucked my wings in for a second before sharply pulling them out to hover delicately onto a small sturdy branch poking out of an oak tree. The moment I got down, my eyes flew to the proud Pine Jay. My claws crushed the first layer of bark when I realized that he was following me down.
A loud, overly-happy laugh blasted through the air, hitting my ears like a thousand thistle hooks. Quick slowly glided down to the branch across from me, flaunting his vast wingspan as he floated past me. It took all I had not to rip out a couple of those carefully preened blue feathers right out of his wingtips. His long smoky blue legs stretched out towards the branch, revealing a third acorn clutched the silvery hate-filled claws of his left foot. I should've known, right then, to duck. He could not land holding an acorn when he had such weak brittle legs. But I had not yet learned my lesson.
The acorn slammed into the upper arm of my right wing, crushing my best feathers. I could barely make myself look at the damage. My wing, the pride of my plumage, was riddled with holes!
NO! THAT STUPID, AWFUL PINE JAY! Rage pulsing through me, I seethed with fury, my claws tearing through the rough bark of my branch. My muscles were tense, feathers sticking up, and claws just waiting to be spotted with Quick's blood. I wanted to fight!
“Something wrong, Blue Jay?” That horrible, thistle-hook laugh began again as the Pine Jay leaned in, as if trying to make his laugh as loud and obnoxious as he could. It was hard to believe that the painful prickly laugh I heard now came from the thin black beak that Quick owned. It just didn't make sense. But then, did anything he did make sense? Like, for instance, how he attracted the females of Pine Jays and Blue Jays alike. I had no clue how that worked. The violet-blue of his feathers from the waist down could not be the answer; all Blue Jays and Pine Jays had the same color. The dark silvery blue shade of his plumage that climbed up from his shoulder to the crown of his head had to be it. Every other Pine Jay in his flock had a slightly lighter shade. Maybe that dark hood-like image exhilarated the females. I didn't know. What I did know, however, was that I was losing to a Jay from a different flock as well as breed.
“Leave here, Pine Jay!” I screeched, crunching the branch wood with my claws for emphasis. His sharp laugh sounded again, but I swallowed my anger and ignored it. “My flock doesn't want you here!”
Quick fluttered onto my branch, leaning so close that I couldn't help but flinch. Why was he getting so close? Was he going to say something that he didn't want Lissa to hear? My guess was that was it, but it was outrageously difficult not to halt the deep whistling breaths of Quick. His smirk growing, he leaned in and whispered in a low voice, “I bet they want me more then they want you. Or at least the females do.”
That's when I lost it. My peak anger was reached. I buried my claws in that beautiful plumage and tore out a massive clump. His gasp of pain and surprise was oddly satisfying. I enjoyed tearing into his too-clean fluff, splattering it with blood.
“S-Seed!” Quick cried, his black eyes widening with fear and shock. I just smiled, slicing my sharp thick beak into his shoulders. With a sudden jolt, the Pine Jay threw me off and down into the mess of branches below. I expected him to follow me down, but instead, a different set of claws latched onto my wings. Lissa.
“Do not TOUCH him!” Lissa screeched, her unintelligent black eyes boring into mine as her slender blue claws tightened around my wings. I threw my head up and nipped her neck, but she only let me go when she'd ripped through my flesh one last time.
“Leave him, Lissa!” Quick called from above just as she was going to launch another attack. “He isn't worth a molted feather. Let's not waste our time.” Lissa nodded, stretching out her wings to meet Quick at his height.
As fast as she could, she ducked her head down to meet my eyes with the most smug expression possible. Could she really believe she'd won? Quick had called her away to keep her from getting killed!
“No one goes near MY boyfriend.” Lissa twittered obnoxiously. I grinned darkly and flew up to her so that we were face-to-face.
“Boyfriend not mate? Doesn't that mean that you can't stop all those females that fling themselves at Quick? Have you ever thought, just for a second, that you're just one of the crowd?” I sneered. I knew my words were not true. They were cruel for the sake of cruel. But they'd done their job. Lissa was frozen, actually considering that I was right. I then watched, grinning coldly as Lissa let out a wail of pain and launched herself claws-first at Quick. The male Pine Jay ended up hanging limply on a branch below me as his girlfriend flew away crying.
Smiling, I swooped down, plucked an acorn from a close branch and landed on my strong free leg.
“Never mess with Seed, Quick.” I laughed, crushing the bark beneath my claws as I stepped closer and closer. “Or you'll have to be willing to pay the price.” Chuckling, I smashed the acorn right before his eyes.