Lock felt a shudder rip through her as she watched Zone, the mighty patriarch of their clan, leave the lair with two tiny bodies in his jaws. Two of his three Mirror children, dead from plague.
Her memories of her hatching day were hazy. Her first few days of life were happy–playing with Jakob and Somia, being fed scraps from her mother, watching for her father to come back with a less lifeless look in his eyes. She wanted to say there was no sadness in her life.
But she remembered three motionless forms on that day. Her brothers, all dead. The plague had claimed them. It hadn’t been able to kill her, so it took them instead.
So rarely did the plague leave a nest untouched. It would claim as many lives as it could sink its claws into. Lock had no doubt the plague would have killed her too if not for…whatever it was inside of her that kept her living that fateful day.
Her red eyes drifted across the two sets of parents.
Dreamer and Lassa nuzzled their only child. Lyme had survived, much like Malar had before him. The one-egg nests seem to have a knack for evading the plague entirely.
Safe curled around her new daughter Besio. Zone had come back, dirt smudging his tomato-red snout. His deceased children now buried, he hunkered down around his small mate and his surviving daughter. Loss was nothing new to them, having had a new nest at every given opportunity since the clan’s creation one hundred and thirteen days ago.
Lock looked down at her own three eggs, drifting and bobbing in the hissing green goo of their stump nest. How many of her children would die in two days when they hatched? All of them? None of them? One or two of them?
Tryp had returned, fish in his jaws. He split his catch, knowing her habit of picky eating. The irony of being a Ridgeback–hating water but only eating seafood. It was a good thing her Guardian mate had learned to be such a good swimmer.
She ate, eyeing her family and the newborns, then looking at her own nest. Loss made her worried.
How many would she lose in two days?