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Soft Snow awoke from her dream. She could still taste the fresh meat of deer on her tongue. How long did I sleep to?

A nose prodded her. "Ugh, come on, Soft Snow! You were twitching in your sleep when you know that we have to hunt." That was Golden Run. The she-cat's golden eyes sparkled with mischief as she trotted out of the cave.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Soft Snow grumbled. Blinking from the harsh light, she stepped out and joined a group of leopards. They were all strong-muscled and ready for the hunt.

The arch-tom, Strong Leap, sent the cats off with a flick of his bushy tail. Soft Snow relished the cool air on her pelt as she bounded out of the ravine. Wind blew. Birds chattered. This was going to be a good day.

A scent of hare reached the roof of her mouth. It seemed the others had caught it too, because Mountain Step started digging through the burrow. His mighty paws picked up scoops of dirt and piled them neatly, yet quickly. They couldn't let this meal get away.

Golden Run and Soft Snow, the smallest cats of the group, rushed into the big-enough burrow and started chasing the hare. Golden Run signaled that the hare was in pouncing range. Soft Snow bunched down and pounced, just like her dream. She felt blood in her mouth as her teeth snapped bones. I caught it.

The pair padded out of the burrow and she placed the rabbit down. Leaf Wind, an older snow leopard, nodded as Mountain Step sniffed the hare for disease. "It's healthy and young," he finally purred. "An excellent catch, both of you."

Soft Snow and Golden Run puffed out their chests as they buried the catch under a pile of snow. That would keep the prey fresh and out of sight from predators. For good measure, Soft Snow marked the pile.

The hunting group carried on, sniffing. They managed to get a pair of owls and a deer. This was one of the finest meals the clan would have.

When they returned, purrs arose from the other leopards. Even Strong Leap gave a firm approval of the prey. The snow leopards all dug hungrily into the prey. "Definitely a tasty meal," Bird Cry, an old leopard, rasped. Although he was supposed to stay in the shelter, he often joined hunting groups. The leopards all shared hunting duties, except for those too old or with cubs.

The clan all sat, eating quietly. The silence was only broken by smacking lips and crunching bones.

When the leopards had all finished, they split up into individual groups to talk. Strong Leap was discussing a serious threat of eagles with Leaf Wind. As the arch-tom, he directed Snow Clan fairly and wisely. Soft Snow admired their fierce and proud leader.

"Want to go explore the pine forest?" Golden Run asked. Her fur was spiked with excitement, and she was obviously itching to get out.

Soft Snow nodded happily. The two bounded up the ravine's slope and took a turn to the pines. As they entered, they heard several squirrels and many birds in the midst of the pines. However, the two she-cats could ignore the prey, already having full bellies.

Golden Run unsheathed her sharp claws and started scaling a tree.

"Are you sure that's safe?" Soft Snow called up. "I thought only regular leopards were supposed to climb. Not snow leopards!"

Golden Run shrugged. "Well, it's worth a shot." She continued the climb until she reached a branch, and started walking across it. Soft Snow felt her heart race for her friend's safety.

"Come on up!" the she-cat said. "It's fun!" She quickly jumped onto another branch.

Soft Snow sighed and started ascending the trunk. She crept cautiously on the branch and leaped up beside Golden Run, who was sitting and looking out. "You can see the whole world from up here!"

Soft Snow looked, too. Sure enough, she could see all the way from where the mountains ended and onto the flat land. "Whir, whir." She snapped her head around to look at Golden Run. "Did you say that?"

Golden Run shook her head. "Did you?"


Both leopards gasped and quickly climbed down, at least safely on the ground. This flying object, which Soft Snow believed was called a helicopter, was heading straight towards home!

They burst into the shelter, yowling.

"Run!" Golden Run screeched.

"Hide!" Soft Snow added.

Murmurs of surprise echoed in the ravine as the snow leopards realized the threat and fled into the cave. Strong Leap and several other strong snow leopards guarded the cave entrance, growling and hissing.

Soft Snow looked up in shock as a human slowly climbed down a ladder, holding an object.

"Soft Snow!" Golden Run screamed. The she-cat was about to rush out and save her friend, but Bird Cry held her back.

Soft Snow started bunching down to run when a sharp pain hit her shoulder. "Ow!" she growled.

"Got one!" the human crowed. What do they mean... she began to think, but she fell into a dizzying sleep.