Friday, April 29, 2011
Affecting indifference, not wanting to let on her behavior hurt him more than he cared to admit, the Sa'uuk Mo'at drew back his hand, picking up a piece of grilled meat for himself as well. Miffed, he bit into the meat with a snap of his teeth, trying to keep his ears from twitching as frustration rose within him once more. He had thought he was making progress! Shre'ka was finally eating. True to her word, she now ate food when he brought it. The child seemed obedient enough and she responded when he spoke to her, albeit with an almost painful brevity. The cub was even using the bedding he had put down for her. But in spite of all that, her manner towards him remained cool and aloof at best.
Breathing a gusty, exasperated sigh, Fey'qua'ri decided to meditate instead of allowing his little foster furball to get under his skin. Settling himself, the shaman closed his eyes to clear his thoughts, backing his ears when the she-cub remained foremost in his mind. If only she would leave his thoughts in peace as well as she seemed intent on leaving him in peace in actuality. He wondered how her parents, Syr'nat and Ya'lan, had gone about raising her. Concentrating on them, he began to see them very clearly in his mind. And as he calmed himself, feeling the ebb and flow of Sa'uuk as it moved and swirled about him, he became more and more aware of their voices, his dwelling and the village falling away as he drifted along sa'uuk's current.
Shre'ka sat licking the juice of the savory meat from her paws, giving the Sa'uuk Mo'at an occasional furtive glance. He was doing it again! Sitting there so strange and quiet and still. She knew he wasn't sleeping, he had told her that much before at least, but she still didn't know exactly what he was doing. She sniffed in disdain, turning her head away, determined to ignore the old shaman. It didn't matter what he was doing! She didn't care! So what if she had to stay with him? So what if she was bound to eat the food he brought her? That didn't mean she had to like him! Or care what he did!
Her thoughts fanned the flames of her cubish anger and she growled. Fey'qua'ri shushed her. "Quiet, cub. I want to hear them."
Shre'ka's ears pricked forward in surprise, turning to look at him. "Who?" she blurted, before she could stop herself.
"Your parents," the Sa'uuk Mo'at answered.
Shre'ka's ears fell. Tears sprang to her eyes and her little chin trembled. Her tiny chest puffed in outrage as she stood up bristling, her diminutive hands clenching into fists. "You should not say such things!" she cried, stomping her foot. "My parents are dead! They are gone! You can not hear them!"
Fey'qua'ri kept his eyes closed, willing himself to ignore her outburst. "Yes, I can," he replied mildly.
Shre'ka's face screwed up into a furious scowl. She snarled, but it came out more like a sob. "No, you can't! No one can!"
The Sa'uuk Mo'at turned his head and regarded her. "Yes, I can," he responded firmly. "And you can, too," he continued, pinning her with a stern stare, "if you will learn to quiet your heart and mind and listen!"
So saying, Fey'qua'ri returned to his meditations, leaving the little cub staring at him uncertainly, her ears back. Finally she sat back down, trying to mimic the way he was sitting and holding his hands. She glanced up at his face doubtfully, certain he was playing some sort of cruel prank on her, then gave a resigned sigh and closed her eyes.
Nothing happened right away. She smirked to herself. She knew it! The mean, old Sa'uuk Mo'at was playing tricks! She should have known better! It was silly to think he or she or anyone else could talk to her parents!
Just the mention of them made grief swell up in her throat, closing it off, making her feel as if she couldn't breathe. She could see them plainly, her mother's beautiful dark green eyes and bright golden fur, her father's handsome face, russet fur and deep azure eyes, their faces happy and smiling. She smiled as well, seeing them thusly, even as tears slipped down her face. Oh, how she missed them!
There is no need for tears, little one.
Shre'ka's ears pricked. That was her mother's voice! She gasped, emitting a happy little mew as she felt a gentle warmth like the sun on a soft spring day wrap around her. She became aware of another presence, strong, but no less gentle, and infinitely comforting.
Shre'ka reached out to them along the eddies and currents of Sa'uuk moving about her, gasping when their spirits entwined with hers.
We are with you, cubling. Remember, we are bound together forever through Sa'uuk. You are not alone for we are here...always.
Shre'ka came back to herself slowly, reluctant to return to the here and now of Fey'qua'ri's dwelling. When she opened her eyes, she found the Sa'uuk Mo'at still sitting there, watching her quietly.
"I saw my parents," she told him. "We talked."
Fey'qua'ri nodded with a slight smile. "So you believe me now?"
Shre'ka thought about that for a long moment. Finally she dipped her ears in apology and nodded. "Yes, Sa'uuk Mo'at, I believe you. I'm sorry I didn't before." She scuffed a foot in the dirt, then glanced shyly up at him. "Thank you for teaching me this."
Fey'qua'ri looked at her. "To be honest, young one, I wasn't sure if I could. Only a few of our People can learn the ways of Sa'uuk." He grinned at her startled expression. "I myself am only beginning to understand why Sa'uuk has brought the two of us together. What you have just experienced is but one aspect of Sa'uuk's power. There are many, many other things to learn. If you are willing, young one, I will teach you."
Shre'ka gazed solemnly at the Sa'uuk Mo'at. Finally, her childish face looking ever so serious, she nodded.
Fey'qua'ri smiled, leaning forward to pat her gently on the shoulder.
And this time, Shre'ka did not pull away.
To be continued...
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Irritable and uncomfortable, she scanned her surroundings, looking and sniffing for anything unusual, then took a quick sip of water from the skin slung over her shoulder. Her legs cramped from remaining in a crouch for so long, Shre'ka decided to risk standing up and walking about, just for a few minutes. Leaning her bow and arrows against the rock, she rose, then abruptly had to steady herself with a hand as a wave of unexpected dizziness overwhelmed her.
She blinked, trying to focus, and shook her head. It must be hotter than she thought. She felt short of breath and began to pant. That didn't seem to help, and she backed her ears as her heart began to race, feeling panic rise inside her. Her eyes widened as a sharp singular pain stabbed through her abdomen followed swiftly by a wave of weakness. She gasped, her ears flattening with worry. Sa'uuk's mercy! What was wrong?!
Her eyes caught a small dot of something bright and red on the stone beneath her. She became dimly aware of something tickling the fur of her thighs, like an insect crawling along her skin. She tried to brush it off, then stared in shock as her hand came away bloodied. Shre'ka's ears fell as she looked and saw blood covering her thighs, trickling down her legs to spatter in large ruby drops across the rock. She began to shake.
"No!" she moaned. "Please, no!"
Another pain wracked her. She cried out, reeling, the sun swaying before her eyes like a kaleidoscope of brightly colored spots, then collapsed.
Slinking through the jungle's shadowed depths, a vek'na alpha paused, its broad nose testing the breeze sifting among the trees. It whined with eagerness, its ears pricking up, as it caught the scent of fresh blood nearby. Springing forward to follow the scent trail, it gave a growling howl, calling to its packmates. With answering cries, they joined him as he loped easily through the jungle searching for their either wounded or freshly killed prey.
Zas'khan shifted the din'gu's carcass across his shoulders for better balance, then continued to trot back to the outcropping where Shre'ka awaited them. Out in front of the hunting party, he glanced behind him, seeing Mar'lo and Hra'tan not far behind. Each big male bore the weight of a slain din'gu as well. Bo'ku, trailing further back, carried one, too, and Kast'na and Sa'di were carrying one between them. Ma'na'nat, walking beside her mate, carried a string of various birds draped over her slim shoulders like a garish feathered mantle, and Fa'o was helping Dan'oa carry a kin'to she had slain with a skillful shot from her bow.
Zas'khan grinned. They may not have found a tran'ta or tu'volth, but the hunt had still proved to be a good one. The only bad thing was Shre'ka would feel left out. He backed his ears, but swiftly pricked them up again. His mate would no doubt be displeased, but he wasn't. He wanted her and the cubs she carried safe and now they would be. There was plenty of meat for the tribe after bringing down the small herd of din'gu. The hunting party would still fish and hunt small game on the way home, but that didn't hold the danger hunting big game did.
He neared the edge of the clearing and called, but received no answer. Frowning, he peered out across the clearing, looking intently at the outcropping. Seeing nothing, he was about to call again, when he noticed something break from the jungle along the far edge of the clearing, headed toward the rocky formation.
A vek'na! Zas'khan's ears fell and his eyes widened. With a roar, he dropped the din'gu he was carrying to the ground and charged across the clearing. The vek'na looked his way, baring its fangs in a snarl. Zas'khan hoped his appearance would frighten the animal away, but the vek'na continued to the outcropping and reaching it, sprang upwards, its claws scrabbling across the rocks.
His fur bristling in fury, Zas'khan dropped to all fours, racing forward to reach the ridge mere moments after the vek'na. In one powerful leap, he vaulted onto the beast, drawing his knife. The vek'na screeched as Zas'khan drove the blade deep into its flank and into its chest. With an agonized howl, the animal tumbled heavily to the ground, taking him with it. Zas'khan managed to scramble free, and ears flat, raced to the top, looking frantically around for his mate. Spotting Shre'ka's crumpled form, he crouched beside her, distraught, cradling her body in his arms.
"Shre'ka!" he roared, giving her a shake. "Mri'tan! Answer me!" He patted her face, feeling fear grip his heart with icy claws as her head lolled limply about.
Warning shouts managed to pierce the roaring in his ears and he whirled around to see two more vek'na appear at the top of opposite ends of the outcropping. Lying Shre'ka gently back, Zas'khan snarled, drawing his knife, holding it defensively between himself and the beasts as the predators stalked closer. He roared at them defiantly, knowing he probably had no chance against the both of them, but determined to protect his mate, regardless.
The vek'na snarled back, ears flat and teeth bared, then charged. Zas'khan braced himself, hoping to be able to kill at least one of the creatures, when the hiss of arrows came to his ears. Almost in unison, both vek'na fell to the ground, tumbling to the side from the momentum of their charge. One whined, trying to rise, but Zas'khan swiftly moved to kneel upon it, and quickly finding the soft spot between its neck and shoulder, drove his knife into its heart.
He sat a moment, panting, then returned to his mate. Stunned, staring at her in dismay, he finally made sense of the calls coming to his ears. He looked up.
"Hurry!" he called. "Get Fa'o! Shre'ka is...hurt!"
He saw Mar'lo and Hra'tan had neared the outcropping, both divest of their din'gu and with bows in their hands. Hra'tan nodded up at him and turned to run back for the healer apprentice.
A furious growl sounded behind Zas'khan, raising the fur on his back. He turned to see the vek'na alpha clambering over the back of the outcropping. Before he could react, it sprang upon him, claws outstretched, and the two tumbled off the edge of the rock to the ground below. Landing heavily on his left shoulder, Zas'khan roared in pain as the old injury to his shoulder during the Trials gave way. He frantically thrust his right arm in the vek'na's way as it lunged forward, and felt its jaws crush the limb, snapping the bone like a twig. Zas'khan screamed as the vek'na alpha lunged foward again, its maw closing about his neck.
His brother, Mar'lo, roared, clawing and stabbing at the beast to kill it or drive it away. He finally succeeded.
But not before it had torn out Zas'khan's throat.
To be continued...
Monday, April 25, 2011
Shre'ka made a face, tugging her mentor's ear affectionately. "I will be fine! It will be several moon cycles before it will be obvious I am with cubs. Our People are strong. One hunt isn't going to hurt me." She sighed when Fey'qua'ri's worried expression didn't improve. "Ar'mari said it would be all right," she grumbled, avoiding her foster parent's searching look.
"But she'd rather you stayed here," Fey'qua'ri added, pressing the issue.
Shre'ka's ears went to half mast. She swatted her mentor lightly on the shoulder. "If you have already spoken with her, why are you asking me?" she growled, annoyed. "Ar'mari said I am not physically hindered. I wake up in the mornings and lose my food sometimes, that's all."
The old shaman frowned. "Make sure you eat enough. And get plenty to drink. Especially if you're the one they have sitting in hiding waiting to ambush prey they drive to you."
Shre'ka shook her head, smiling in spite of herself, and leaned over to give Fey'qua'ri a hug. "I'm not the first female to ever have cubs, you know. Such a fuss you are making! And Zas'khan, too! He treats me as if I could break like one of Har'muwl's clay pots! And Kast'na's mate, Sa'di, has been bringing me a honeyed spice tea every morning since it became known I am with cubs!"
Fey'qua'ri backed his ears. "We just want to make sure you are well, that's all. Having cubs is a happy time, my daughter, but it can also be dangerous."
Shre'ka recalled her mentor's mate, Sa'o'la, who died in childbirth. She leaned against Fey'qua'ri, sliding an arm about his waist as he wrapped one about her shoulders. "I know," she said gently. "And I know you are all just looking out for me." She smiled. "But everything will be fine. I did not think I would be mated to Zas'khan but that worked out, didn't it? I got to stay with the Ra'van'ti, didn't I? All is well now. Sa'uuk ah meh yah. There is nothing to fear."
Her mentor sighed, then gave her an affectionate lick on the forehead. "I suppose you are right," he rumbled in reluctant agreement as he stood, helping Shre'ka to her feet. "Still, for the sake of your worrisome Sa'uuk Mo'at, please be careful."
Shre'ka grinned. "I will," she replied. "But it's not like I will be alone. All the new couples are going. Now, is there something special we can try to bring back for you? We are hoping to run across a herd of din'gu, or maybe even bring down a tran'ta or better yet, a tu'volth if we are lucky! And I know Mar'lo, Bo'ku, and Zas'khan are wanting to do some fishing as well for Fan'tara. But what can we bring back for the Sa'uuk Mo'at of the Ra'van'ti?" she finished, gesturing with elaborate respect.
The old shaman though a moment, then smiled. "Some fowl would be nice."
Shre'ka laughed. "That's cub prey!"
Fey'qua'ri grinned as they walked back to the village. "Maybe so, but they are quite delicious!"
Sa'di hummed softly to herself as she wandered the forest near the Ra'van'ti village, noting the various flowers and plants growing nearby. The vegetation was different from what she was used to, but with Ar'mari and Fa'o's help, she had learned a great deal in the short time since she had joined her mate's People.
She had found a tree, its trunk covered in a profusion of go'la flower vines, and was sniffing one of the sweet smelling blossoms in delight when she felt a preternatural chill. Backing her ears, she looked about worriedly, then gasped when a dark figure detached itself from the shadows of a nearby tree and approached her.
Frightened, she dropped her basket and started to turn to run, but the figure waved a skeletal clawed hand before her.
"You do not need to fear," the shadow shrouded figure hissed.
Sa'di's face relaxed into a blank stare. "I do not need to fear," she replied.
The figure reached forward, pulling the go'la vines aside to expose a low growing plant with broad ebony star-shaped leaves. The hand waved before her, gesturing to the plant. "You will make a tea of this plant for Shre'ka."
Sa'di looked down at the uncovered seedling and nodded. "I will make a tea of this plant for Shre'ka."
"You will give the tea to her to drink every morning."
"I will give the tea to her to drink every morning."
A toothy smile glinted within the shadow. "You will not remember I was here."
"I will not remember you were here."
Ca'el'esh faded quietly away, leaving Sa'di standing befuddled for several minutes.
Finally, she blinked and shook her head, looking about her, perplexed. Seeing nothing, she shrugged, then smiled, looking at the go'la flowers once more. She began to pick some, then noticed the dark star leafed plant underneath. And without knowing exactly why, she plucked several leaves and put them in her basket.
To be continued...
Saturday, April 23, 2011
The ends of the branches forming the roughly criss-crossed half-spherical shape had been set several feet into the ground with rocks and earth mounded about them to add support. Shre'ka speculated winds from even a severe storm would be hard pressed to uproot them.
Grinning, she crouched by the pail to get a drink, then cupping her hands, she filled them with water and walked over to Fey'qua'ri who was unrolling several bundled hides and stacking them nearby just as Zas'khan walked up carrying some more draped over one shoulder.
Her mate set the hides down by Fey'qua'ri. "That's all of them for now," he announced. "We'll have to go hunting to get some more out of So'ju'roh. Though with so many new mates building their own dwellings, I don't know if game will garner much in trade from him now."
Fey'qua'ri accepted some of the water from Shre'ka, thanking her, before giving Zas'khan a knowing look as she stepped over to offer a drink to her mate. "So'ju'roh gets not only food, but skins to make leathers from game, young Ro'at. Don't let him fool you. Game is ALWAYS a good trade for him!"
Zas'khan grinned thanks to the Sa'uuk Mo'at for his advice, then lifted up one of the hides to examine it. "These are very nice, though."
Shre'ka snorted. "Not as nice as old Su'bo's!" she retorted before breaking out into a laugh, thinking fondly of her departed friend. "And he'd be the first to tell you!"
Her mentor and mate smiled, laughing with her, then together the three of them began taking hides and draping them over the structure to attach them to the frame. It was early evening before they finished and shared a late supper. Afterwards the Sa'uuk Mo'at helped his foster daughter and her mate settle their belongings and many gifts into their new home, then went to his own dwelling nearby.
Stepping through the doorway, he looked about, a little sad to see the walls bare of Shre'ka's bow and quiver, her knife and spear, her articles of clothing. Living alone most of his life, the Sa'uuk Mo'at's dwelling had never been especially large, but it seemed much bigger and emptier now with his beloved student gone. Noticing her old bedding still on the floor, he knelt by her former sleeping place. Picking up a corner of the velvety soft leather coverlet, he held it briefly to his nose, smiling. Her scent yet lingered on it.
Letting the leather drop, he stared at it a long while, pondering. He would give it to her, but Ar'mari had already gifted the young couple with a set of much larger coverlets for Zas'khan and Shre'ka both to share. He supposed he could give it to someone else to use, but the thought wrenched his heart. He backed his ears and sighed, shaking his head. No, he would keep it for now. Perhaps Shre'ka would need it for her children one day. That was it. He would store it away until she had need of it again. Fey'qua'ri ran his hand over the coverlet, gently smoothing a slight crease in the leather, but made no move to pick the bedding up.
Instead, he got up and went to the doorway, where he stood staring forlornly out into the night for a long, long while.
To be continued...
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
She hoped her campaign to be returned to Fan'tara was close to succeeding. Shre'ka wasn't sure how much longer she could hold out. Her stomach seemed to growl and gnaw at her like a ravenous beast, doubling her over with painful hunger cramps constantly. She continually felt faint and light-headed. Her head ached. If only the mean, old, Sa'uuk Mo'at would let her go back to Fan'tara! What did he want with her anyway? Why had they let him take her? Nobody seemed to want her! Why did her parents have to die? Now she was all alone!
She realized her thoughts had driven her to tears once more. Angrily she scrubbed an arm across her face, not wanting the Sa'uuk Mo'at to see her cry. He would just try to comfort her, and she didn't want anything from him! He wasn't her father! He was just a mean old male she didn't know very well! She didn't want anything from him except to be left alone!
She sniffled, flicking her ears and looked over at him, noticing he hadn't come over to offer her some food. He was sitting on the coverlet of his sleeping area, his eyes closed, his hands resting loosely on his knees. She pricked her ears forward, then cocked her head to one side, frowning. What was he doing? Why was he just sitting there like that?
Shre'ka crept slowly towards him, perplexed by his behavior. Emboldened when Fey'qua'ri continued to sit quietly, she reached his side and looked up at him curiously. She hadn't really ever looked at him so intently before. The Sa'uuk Mo'at had always frightened her a little, like the clan leader and the Hunt Mo'at. She knew the Sa'uuk Mo'at was old, but he didn't appear to be, the fur of his muzzle had very little silver in it at all. He had an interesting pattern of black and white markings on his gray fur, and a long mane which he kept partially braided, but she decided she liked the black tips on his ears best.
He still hadn't moved. Shre'ka sighed. She couldn't stand it any more.
"Are you asleep?" she asked.
"No," he replied, without opening his eyes.
"Aren't you going to bring me something to eat?"
She blinked. "Why not? I'm hungry!"
Fey'qua'ri opened one eye slightly and looked at her. "I'd be hungry, too, if I hadn't eaten for as long as you haven't, but why should I bring you anything to eat? You'd only refuse to eat it. I'm not wasting my time with you any more." He waved her away. "If you want to starve, then starve, youngling."
Tears welled up in Shre'ka's eyes. "That's mean!" she cried. "You shouldn't just let me starve!"
Fey'qua'ri's one open eye closed. He turned his head away from her. "I'm not 'letting' you do anything. Starving or not is your decision, cub. I'm merely abiding by it."
Shre'ka's ears dropped in distress. "But I don't want to starve! I'm hungry! I want something to eat!"
Fey'qua'ri's eyes opened. He turned his head back to look at her. "If I bring you something to eat," he growled, "do you swear ka'met'ma to eat it?"
Shre'ka looked at him quizzically. "What's ka...met...ma?"
Fey'qua'ri looked at the little she-cub sternly. "Ka'met'ma is an oath, made in blood. Once the oath is spoken and the blood is spilled, it must never be broken." She hesitated, the mention of blood frightening her a little, and he began to turn away. "No? It is just as well, it is not something to be taken lightly."
Shre'ka scowled, flattening her ears. She held up her hand, glaring at Fey'qua'ri defiantly. "If you will bring me food to eat, I, Shre'ka, swear ka'met'ma to eat it." And so saying, she bit a finger of her hand, drawing a bead of red blood.
Fey'qua'ri watched her solemnly, then nodded. He got up and left the dwelling, returning shortly with a bowl of stew which he set in front of her. "I will hold you to your oath, young Shre'ka," he told her.
To be continued...
The first time, Fey'qua'ri simply came and returned her to his lodge. The second time, he cuffed her soundly when he came to get her, his ears flat, trying to ignore Fan'tara's distraught hisses. Then he compelled the cub to walk back beside him, growling a low reprimand and swatting her, none too lightly, when she looked back or straggled in the slightest.
Shre'ka got the message. She stayed at Fey'qua'ri's dwelling after that, but her neck fur remained bristled with childish fury, her little ears lay plastered to her skull and her eyes stayed fixed on the ground. Fey'qua'ri talked to her, but she didn't respond. He brought her food and water which she spurned. When night fell, he laid out bedding for her, which she also refused to use, huddling sullenly against a heavy hide wall as far from his sleeping area as she could get. The cub was extremely tempted to go back to Fan'tara after Fey'qua'ri had gone to sleep, but her little body still smarted from where the Sa'uuk Mo'at had struck her and she didn't dare.
She slept fitfully, missing her parents, the strange place and smells disturbing her. The funeral rites held early the day before had not helped ease her grief, no matter how peaceful her mother and father had looked lying together on their pyre, no matter how many lovely go'la and mosa flowers had been clustered around them. They were gone from her, that was all she knew. Her mother would never pick her up to gently cuddle her again. Her father would never carry her on his broad, strong shoulders any more. They would never again go hunting together. These thoughts plagued her slumber and she whimpered, tossing and turning throughout the night. In the morning, she awoke, aching and stiff, feeling absolutely wretched.
Fey'qua'ri became more and more concerned for the cub as days went by in similar fashion. After making several attempts to entice Shre'ka to eat or drink, with her either allowing the offering to drip or drop to the ground or swatting it away with a petulant hiss, the Sa'uuk Mo'at's patience was sorely tested. His temper frayed, he was tempted to snatch the cub up by the scruff of her neck and hurl the scrawny little furball into the nearby stream. He was too old to be raising a child, especially on his own! He didn't have the slightest idea on how to relate to her. She obviously didn't like him, and he was becoming none too fond of her. He thought he had made some progress when he left her out in the rain one day and she finally responded to him and came inside on her own, but her sadness lingered still. Having never been a parent before, the Sa'uuk Mo'at felt at a loss on how to help the child work through her sorrow and considered taking the youngster back to Shas'tan on more than one occasion.
One particularly trying day, Fey'qua'ri had retreated outdoors and sat musing on a rock, absently mulling over his idea about Shre'ka and the stream yet again. Not long after, Shas'tan and his sons entered the village, returning from a hunt. The boys were all carrying a kin'to, their little chests puffed out with pride. Shas'tan spied the Sa'uuk Mo'at and waved his cubs on toward the communal area with their prize, before walking over to join Fey'qua'ri.
"An'na ma'we," he said in greeting.
"An'na ma'we," Fey'qua'ri growled.
Shas'tan sat beside the Sa'uuk Mo'at, affecting not to notice his dour demeanor. "Cubs are such a boon," he said, smiling indulgently after his sons.
Fey'qua'ri grunted, his ears at half mast.
The anu'at gave him a sidelong glance. "I take it things are not going well?"
Fey'qua'ri growled. "That's putting it mildly." He turned an anguished look to the clan leader. "I don't think this will work, Shas'tan. Someone else must raise her. I can not replace her parents."
"Perhaps that is the problem."
Fey'qua'ri backed his ears. "What do you mean?"
Shas'tan flicked his ears back thoughtfully. "You are not her mother or father, so perhaps you should not try to be."
Fey'qua'ri frowned. "How should I raise her, if not as a mother or father?"
Shas'tan considered a while. He sighed. "Have you tried just being you?"
The Sa'uuk Mo'at scowled. "Me?! I am no parent! I have never been one! What have I got to offer this child?"
Shas'tan looked at him squarely, raising an eyebrow.
Fey'qua'ri stared at Shas'tan a moment, then smiled, shaking his head. He rapped his staff lightly against the anu'at's shoulder. "I'm supposed to be the wise one."
Shas'tan smiled. "And you are, my friend. But even wisdom's vision can become blurred when things are too close. If matters are put into proper perspective, you will see clearly what to do, I am certain of it."
To be continued...
Monday, April 18, 2011
Shas'tan strode along near the front of the tribe, looking around at his clan, hard pressed to find a flattened ear in the entire group. He grinned. Spring Festival was over. And although it had started out bleakly enough, he could not have asked for a better conclusion. The Ra'van'ti had ultimately fared well this year. Their males had performed admirably, all able to claim themselves a Chosen, even Kast'na.
The anu'at's smile broadened, pleased for the youth. Kast'na had looked utterly stunned when he discovered he had finally succeeded in winning a mate. True, it had only been possible because of the extraordinary event of both Mrul'garr and Mo'du'khan of the Ta'gua withdrawing from the Choosing, and true, Sa'di, of the Na'lat, Kast'na's Chosen, was the last one to remain, but the youngster had beaten two other males during the Trials to win her and Shas'tan was happy for him.
The clan leader was also pleased that his second son, Bo'ku, had managed to win Ma'na'nat of the On'tak'na. Not only was she quite beautiful with her long, luxurious pale gray fur, but the tribe needed new blood, which both she and Sa'di would provide since all the Ra'van'ti Chosen had found mates among their own People.
He glanced about at the new couples, secretly delighted. Hra'tan's dark massive bulk was easy to spot and his and Dan'oa's smitten expressions left no doubt as to their happiness with each other. His eldest, Mar'lo, had made a marvelous match for himself and the People with Fa'o. She was becoming quite a skilled and deft healer, and her singing was exceptional. Shas'tan would have hated to lose her to another tribe. Besides, he knew their Healer Mo'at, Ar'mari, would have missed her greatly as well.
And his youngest, Zas'khan. Shas'tan chuckled, shaking his great maned head. He knew his son was beside himself with joy. And young Shre'ka, too. But perhaps more than anyone, the anu'at suspected, their Sa'uuk Mo'at was the happiest. Shas'tan knew the elder Cathar well and felt as a brother to his old friend. Losing Shre'ka to the Ta'gua or any other tribe for that matter, would have been devastating for the Ra'van'ti, but incredibly more so for Fey'qua'ri. Shas'tan was relieved the Sa'uuk Mo'at had been spared such a loss.
The anu'at was finding the laughter and happiness infectious. He looked around, searching for his own mate. He spotted Fan'tara not far away, having an animated discussion with Kar'fa, the Mo'at of Lore. Quietly, a mischievous glint in his eyes, he moved toward them until he was walking just to one side of Fan'tara, then brushed against her, dipping his head to give the tip of one of her ears a lick.
Fan'tara looked up at him, startled, the words she was going to say dying in her throat. She stared at him quizzically a moment, then caught his scent. Kar'fa's ears pinked.
Fan'tara nudged Shas'tan playfully with her shoulder, sliding her forehead underneath his chin. "Do you remember what it was like when we were Chosen, mri'te?"
Shas'tan closed his eyes and smiled, wrapping an arm around her. "Yes, I do," he replied. "Would you like for me to remind you?"
Fan'tara's smile was impish. "If we can stop to make camp early enough."
Shas'tan chuckled and gave her a hug. "I'll see what I can do."
To be continued...
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Several nearby tribespeople looked up in surprise at the Sa'uuk Mo'at's inexplicable outburst. They were used to seeing Fey'qua'ri deep in conversation with Shas'tan. The Sa'uuk Mo'at and anu'at often discussed matters of the clan together, but while Shas'tan might roar and snarl in disagreement or displeasure, it was rare that Fey'qua'ri raised his voice. Uncannily seeming to realize almost at once that they were staring, those in close proximity went back to their tasks, most finding reasons to move elsewhere.
Shas'tan scowled, backing his ears, and curtly motioned for Fey'qua'ri to follow him. The two past the outskirts of the village and wandered down a path heading toward a nearby stream. Neither said a word for some time as they walked beside the gently flowing water. Shas'tan glanced furtively at the Sa'uuk Mo'at, taking in his flattened ears and the stubborn set of his jaw. This would not be easy. Fey'qua'ri would not be readily swayed, and Shas'tan furrowed his nose, growling resolutely in his throat. He was anu'at of the Ra'van'ti, first Ro'at of their tribe, mate of the Mo'at, Fan'tara! And he would make Fey'qua'ri listen to him, if he had to pin his ears back to do it, Sa'uuk Mo'at or no!
Fey'qua'ri must have noticed his rising anger, for the Sa'uuk Mo'at stopped abruptly. Shas'tan walked forward several paces before he noticed and halted as well. Glancing balefully back at his old friend, he growled, "I do not think it an unreasonable thing to ask."
Shas'tan kept himself from snarling, but his ears went to half mast and he chuffed deep in his throat in annoyance. He needed to settle the matter of the orphaned she-cub, and quickly. Fan'tara was becoming increasingly attached to the youngster. Shas'tan shook his head ruefully. His mate had always wanted a girl child and would probably not mind keeping her, but they already had three growing sons, not to mention their duties as Mo'at and anu'at. There were a few other possibilities among his clan, but putting the child with Fey'qua'ri seemed the least burdensome to the tribe as a whole. And for some reason Shas'tan couldn't quite fathom, it just seemed right. The fur on his broad shoulders bristled and he shook the preternatural feeling away. Canting his ears back, he considered the Sa'uuk Mo'at thoughtfully as the elder Cathar remained quiet, his manner petulant. Roars, growls, and snarls would fall on deaf ears, Shas'tan knew. Very well, he would try to find out what the objection was.
He sighed, bringing his ears up. "All right. Why?"
Fey'qua'ri looked nonplussed at the question. His ears flicked in agitation. "Why?!" he exclaimed, flustered. "Why?...Because...I...I have no mate, that's why!"
Shas'tan waved the objection aside. "We have had occasion where children were raised by one parent, when the other was called to Sa'uuk due to illness, accident or the like. All the tribe helps to assist families in such a situation. You know this."
"I am too busy! I am Sa'uuk Mo'at for our tribe."
"I am anu'at," Shas'tan growled dryly. "My mate is a Mo'at. And we have three sons."
Fey'qua'ri turned irritably away with a low growl of his own. He cast an anguished look Shas'tan's way, and the anu'at stepped toward him, laying a hand on his shoulder.
"My friend," Shas'tan said gently. "I know you lost your mate and the child she carried. And I know you still grieve for them, but consider...perhaps this child could be the daughter you were denied those years ago."
Fey'qua'ri looked away, uncomfortable, his ears flat. He said nothing.
Shas'tan thought a moment, then added. "I am no Sa'uuk Mo'at. But perhaps...perhaps Sa'uuk wishes for you to raise this child."
Fey'qua'ri looked sharply at his anu'at. His fur bristled and he growled. "What do you mean?"
Shas'tan looked the Sa'uuk Mo'at squarely in the eyes. "Did you not tell me you had a Sa'uuk vision about this child while she was still in the womb? Were you not the first to know her name? It was no surprise to you when Syr'nat and Ya'lan presented her to the tribe and told us she was to be called--"
"Shre'ka...," Fey'qua'ri murmurred, his fur bristling again for an entirely different reason. He blinked, his ears canting back, then pricked them up. He looked at Shas'tan a long moment. "I will accept the child, anu'at," he said.
To be continued...
Friday, April 15, 2011
As she stared in terrified fascination at the intruding dark claws, it occurred to the little she-cub that the hand might belong to a tribesman come to find her. She opened her mouth to speak, but a powerful feeling of caution rose within her, warning her to silence. The hand paused in its search, then withdrew, claw tips scraping on the moldering bark, and the child heard the creature moving quietly away.
Wary of a trick, the child remained where she was, unwilling to leave her hiding place. Shortly after, distant roared shouts came to the little she'cub's ears.
"Cub! Little one! Where are you?"
Still, something warned her to stay put. It was only when she heard the calls coming from very close by did she dare venture from her refuge.
"Here! Here I am!"
Several figures yowled answering calls, emerging from the surrounding woods and she caught the familiar scent of some of her tribesfolk. A burly chested male she recognized immediately as Mar'gesh, her tribe's Hunt Mo'at, spotted her and hurried forward to take her into his arms. Mar'gesh was a very grim male, with little time or patience for young ones, and under normal circumstances the she-cub would have been afraid of him. The relieved look on his distraught face at the sight of her won her over, however, and she held out her arms to him, allowing him to pick her up.
He cuddled her protectively to his chest a moment in a very uncharacteristic display of gentleness, then looked into her eyes. "Are you all right, young one?" he asked.
The cub nodded, and a brief smile fleetingly crossed his face.
"That is something, at least," he rumbled. "Here," he continued, turning to hand her to Mar'lo, the anu'at's eldest son. "You think you can carry her back to the village, young Ro'at?"
Mar'lo nodded without hesitation. He had just made his kill to become a Ro'at not long before. At only fourteen turns of the seasons, he was among the youngest to become a hunter for the People, a fact that made both he and his father, Shas'tan, extremely proud. He settled the child against his hip, wrapping an arm securely about her. "I can carry her, Hunt Mo'at," he replied.
Mar'gesh nodded approval. He motioned to the others. "Then let us return to the village."
"Wait!" the she-cub cried. "My mother and father! We must look for them!"
Only then did she make out the forms others in the group were picking up from the grass. Forms draped with leathers over their faces. With a cry, she struggled free of Mar'lo and ran over to the shrouded figures, and falling to her knees, pulled the leather aside.
"Ma'van'tan!" she wept, seeing her mother's still face. "No! Wake up! We have to go home!" She angrily jerked the drape away from her father's face. "Ma'van'te! Get up! Please! You have to get up!" She pleaded and sobbed, her tiny paws patting their faces, then rocked herself back and forth, her face buried in her hands, keening with grief while her tribesmates stood ringed silently and sorrowfully around her.
After a moment, she felt a heavy hand on her shoulder. She looked up into Mar'gesh's mournful face, tears streaming down her own. "Child," he said gently. "Your parents are with Sa'uuk now." He held out a hand to her. "Come."
The she-cub looked back down at her parents, nuzzling their cheeks before gently laying the drapes back over their faces.
Mar'gesh picked her up. Mar'lo came forward to take her, but the Hunt Mo'at motioned him to help the other Ro'ats carry their two fallen tribesfolk, then turned and headed home.
To be continued...
Thursday, April 14, 2011
A plaintive cry rose above the various early evening calls of the many denizens of the jungle forest.
A young she-cub clambered to the top of a large slippery rock lying along a ruined river bank, carefully pulling herself erect on her two hind feet to peer about the swirling waters of the now swollen stream. Unable to see what she searched for, she sniffed, trying to catch the scent of her parents. But the only smells that came to her questing nose were mud, water, and the deep rotting pungent odor of uprooted trees.
Flinching from the water that still violently splashed and sprayed as the angry torrent surged past her rock, the child crouched on all fours, leaning out as far as she dared. One of her hands slipped, and her arm plunged into the water, the strong current tugging at her. She almost fell in. Scrambling frantically back, she panted rapidly in fright, her ears falling and eyes growing wide as she saw the twisted carcasses of several dingu carried by on the swift waters. Shivering, she climbed the steep side of the torn and deeply scarred bank, soft, black earth crumbling to the hungry waters below and smearing her golden fur with mud as she sought higher and safer ground.
Once gaining what she felt was firmer footing, she trotted downstream, casting anxious glances at the river as she went. A powerful feeling of something horribly wrong so overwhelmed her, it made her stomach cramp with nausea. She called repeatedly, receiving no reassuring answering yowl, and struggled to keep from mewing, but the longer she kept going without finding her parents and the longer the shadows became, the more anxiety she felt.
Finally, daylight faded so that she realized she needed to find a place to shelter for the night. She looked forlornly about and spied a hollow tree trunk, a remnant of a tree apparently split and shattered by a bolt of lightening many years before. Standing about ten feet high and three feet wide, moss and vines had all but enveloped its base. The cub shinnied up its girth to a ragged oval opening in its side, sniffing cautiously for any possible inhabitants. Finding none, save a few dark brown beetles that she grabbed and popped hungrily into her mouth, she crawled inside.
The she-cub crouched, ears drooping, as twilight faded and the dim gloom of the tree's interior transitioned into darkness broken only by faint starlight glimmering through breaks in the trees' canopy overhead. She felt a squall rising in her throat and clamped her jaws tightly around it, strangling it off into a ragged whimper. She knew enough at her age to realize the importance of her remaining very quiet in her vulnerable situation so as not to attract any nocturnal predators.
She wondered where her mother and father could be and why they didn't come for her. They had been hunting along the river at a spot where it widened and many types of game liked to come to drink. She had been interested in hunting at first, but after her father left her try using his bow a few times, helping her steady the arrow and draw, her attention had turned to the brightly hued river pebbles along the bank.
Her mother had given her an admonition not to wander off too far. Absently promising obedience, she ambled along the river's edge, picking up the occasional pebble and putting it in a small leather pouch hung on a thin woven braid of leather about her waist, all the attire young children wore. As the cub gathered her tiny treasures, a gossamerfly flitted by her nose, dipping and swaying, its bright orange and blue wings all aflutter in a dazzling display of color.
The she-cub couldn't resist such a pretty target. Dropping the handful of pebbles she was currently examining to scatter on the ground, she sprang after the gracefully dancing insect, laughing and springing into the air to bat at it with her tiny hands again and again. It fluttered into the tree line and for a moment the cub paused, looking back to her parents on the bank. They were some distance away, but she could still see them, so with a giggle, she bounded after her prey, determined not to let it escape.
Dropping to all fours, she raced up a small hill and leapt upon a large rock resting between two large trees to spring upon the gossamerfly hovering in front of her just out of reach. Her ears fell as she realized the boulder rested on a small ridge, the edge dropping abruptly several feet. Tumbling to the ground, she landed heavily, the wind knocked from her, and lay still several minutes, dazed.
When her head cleared and she was able to catch her breath, she groggily sat up, looking about. A profusion of sweet smelling mosa and go'la flowers carpeted the ground around her, their soft delicate petals a riot of colors. She grinned, delighted.
Suddenly the ground shuddered.
A colossal roar reverberated through the forest, as if from the throat of some great mythical beast of an ancient legend. The child cowered on the ground, ears plastered to her skull, eyes rolling in fright, her claws digging deep gouges in the trembling earth. She was paralyzed with fear. Strange sounds came to her; snaps, groans, pops, crashes, some sounds she couldn't identify, but each imbued with the ability to strike terror into her heart, and over it all came the powerful roaring sound of rushing water.
As the cub trembled on the ground, her screams and wails drowned out by the catastrophe occurring around her, she felt fear for her parents grasp her heart in icy skeletal claws.
The she-cub sat bolt upright with a gasp. She was huddled in the hollow tree with night wrapped around her. Wearily, she realized she must have dozed off. She curled up on her side to try to go back to sleep, when a noise caused her to prick her ears.
It was the faintest of sounds, barely more than a whisper, and as her ears trembled in the warm dark, swiveling to catch the slightest noise over the soft chirring of night insects, she heard it again. She wasn't quite sure what it was. A slow, soft dragging sound, like someone pulling a heavy load along the ground. Or something or someone with a limping gait.
Fear rising in her throat, she pressed herself down as much as she could. She lay perfectly still as a thin, gaunt hand reached through the knothole, ebon claws groping about in the darkness....
To be continued
Mrrowl sat on the floor of a condominium in the southern sector of Caross. The eight year old cub continued to ponder the new reality that had been laid upon his shoulders: his father would not be coming home, today, or ever.
Dappled light played across the living room floor in front of him as the late day sun did little to dispel his deep sadness. A small toy model of the M’rruuv Lrowwl lay at his feet, and he regarded it with an intense longing, as if willing everything to snap back to normal.
The door chime sounded throughout the apartment, and Pruuna, Mrrowl’s mother, brushed past him to answer it, her magnification glasses still perched above her eyes on her forehead. Mrrowl’s nose wrinkled a little at the smell of new plastic, hot solder and singed electronics that followed in her wake. Since word came of the loss of her husband, S’ruul, a few days earlier, Pruuna had begun working overtime creating and improving the logic circuits coveted by offworlders for their use in astromech droids. While her absorption in her work did little to comfort her cub, having no credits to put food on the table would definitely not be a welcome development.
Pruuna sighed inwardly as she ineffectually attempted to smooth her orange fur into something approaching presentable; that darned black fur in her stripes just never quite seemed manageable when she was short on time to primp. The inward sigh escaped in a whoosh of breath when she noticed the identity of their visitor on the small screen to the left of the door.
Shaking her head, Pruuna activated the door, which opened to reveal a tall Togorian with markings quite similar to her late husband and cub. Murrv was S’ruul’s brother by blood, as well as by clan. A heavy scar ran across his face, received in reward for his participation in a counter raid against a Sith slaver ship, and his fur was marred in many other places, almost a road map of past victories, and a few defeats.
“Murrv, “ she began as her eyes narrowed and her ears pricked forward in agitation, “I thought I told you he was not going.”
Murrv’s paws rose as if defending against an attack. “Pruuna, I know you never totally approved of your mate’s activities, though they seem to have set you up reasonably well, but the boy deserves to see this, to receive the closure the ceremony will bring.”
“I’ll not lose him to the F’laarians as well Murrv! I couldn’t bear it!”
Pruuna’s eyes welled up and she half turned, only to feel a pressure as Mrrowl hugged her leg. As she looked down, her eyes met Mrrowl’s, and her tears flowed freely as she saw so much of her mate in his face.
“Pruuna, please. It is our way, and in time, may be Mrrowl’s way as well. Our family’s history has been guided and shaped by Muur’F’laar for centuries, and to deny that heritage to your son would be sacriligious. In fact, Togoria itself would not be here were it not for Muur’F’laar, and the F’laarian Clan. You owe it to our people to ensure that Mrrowl is provided every opportunity to serve his people and planet.”
Pruuna’s ears sagged as her face fell. “Fine. For the sake of the family, he can go. Promise me you’ll allow him to return here prior to beginning training, if that is the decision of the Clan Leaders.”
“Of course, “ Murrv replied, “he is still too young, you’ll have time with him yet.”
Reaching down, Murrv took Mrrowl’s paw, and led him out to the waiting speeder.
The bonfire’s crackling boomed across the meadow, its light refracting off of the eyes of the various massive cats who had gathered. As the flames danced, more Togorians ghosted from the shadows of the trees in the surrounding forest. Jade and sapphire eyes shone in the flickering brightness as the keening sounds of the F’laarian Battle songs rose into the night.
They had come in droves from clearings and forested glades across the planet to pitch their tents together in brotherhood. Come to celebrate death, to celebrate life, and most of all to celebrate the newly founded legacy of their bretheren lost in honorable battle between the Privateer M’rruuv Lrowwl and those that confronted and stopped her from enriching her Clan and her People.
Most of the crowd were male. While there were a few females that were accepted into the F’laarian Clan, they were not the soft or frilly type - most were just as hard, if not harder, than their male clan mates. While those mated to F’laarian Clan members understood (or at best, tolerated) the quest for battle, blood, and victory through skill at arms, and certainly benefited from those pursuits, those methods of conquest no longer excited female Togorians. The males filled the role of the hunter, wandering the planet and the stars in search of a lost heritage, while the females were content to expand their wealth and prestige in the cities of Togoria through the creation of their electronic gadgets and droids.
In memory of the glorious fallen, the Clan sang and danced the stories of their dead brethren. The tales of their conquests and victories were repeated, reinforcing the oral history of the Clan, and new stories of the recent battle were committed to memory by all present for veneration throughout all time.
Sitting on a log, watching the warriors dance, Mrrowl was startled as a large paw clapped down on his shoulder. “Your father was a great warrior, cub. I’ll stand for you should you want to gain entrance into the Academy.”
Nodding mutely, Mrrowl looked up at a scarred F’laarian, who gave him a slightly drunken grin and lurched off into the crowd.
Murrv sat down next to Mrrowl and nodded in the direction the warrior had gone. “That was Elder Rurrv, Mrrowl. His word, plus your father’s deeds, will virtually guarantee you a spot at the Academy.”
Mrrowl turned to face Muurv, his ears back. “All these people are here for papa?” he asked, with a slight tremor in his voice.
“They are lad, as well as the crew of his ship. Surely he taught you about the glory of battle, and his role in the defense of our people and ways?”
“He told me stories sometimes, but mama would get mad...” Mrrowl trailed off.
Murrv smiled gently, “While the women may lead the planet, we defend it. Honor your mother, and listen to what she has to say, but always remember, it is our might as a people, and more importantly as a Clan, that keep Togoria free. Great warriors such as your father and his crew are the spear that backs the words of the Matriarchs, the spear which wards off those that would harm our people. One day soon, you’ll have an opportunity to train to join us. I hope that you’ll seize that opportunity lad.”
Nodding his head, Mrrowl’s attention turned back to the lines of warriors starting a spear dance near the fire as Murrv smiled inwardly at the seeds he had planted. This cub was destined for great things, and as he had promised S’ruul so many years ago, Murrv would guide him towards the true path of honor.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Bright strobing light combined with the pealing of the battle alert aboard the Togorian Privateer M’rruuv Lrowwl (Void Stalker), the two combining into a signal that was sure to awake even the deepest sleeping Togorian aboard ship.
The Captain, S’ruul F’laar, a 2.9 meter mass of charcoal fur with black stripes appeared to instantly spring from his bunk, almost colliding with the cabin door as its hydraulics slammed it open at his rapid approach.
Gaining the bridge, S’ruul’s steady gaze took in his First Mate, who immediately snapped off “Three Fast Corvettes sir, their beacons are indicating they’re Weequay under Tagta the Hutt, 5 kilometers off the starboard bow. They’re blocking the hyperspace entry points for our primary and secondary Fleet RVs.”
“We probably shouldn’t have hit that spice freighter yesterday with Hutt support so close...” S’ruul responded dryly, as the lights dimmed slightly in concert with the shuddering of the cruiser as a spread of torpedos impacted its shields.
Taking his seat, S’ruul calmly continued “...flush the primary and secondary RV hyperspace computations and get the computers working on the coordinates for the tertiary and quaternary RVs. Full shields forward, and get the lasers firing on the lead Weequay ship.”
As if on cue, the thumping of the Lrowwl’s array of heavy laser turrets reverberated throughout the ship, and the lead enemy’s shields flared crimson under the onslaught as the Lrowwl began a turn for the approximate heading of the tertiary RV’s entry point.
S’ruul’s voice cut through the rumbling of impacts on the hull and shields, snapping “I need that solution!”, just as the fullisade of lasers from the Lrowwl burned through the front shields on the lead Weequay ship, followed quickly by an expanding plasma bubble as the enemy ship’s reaction mass exploded. In response, the volume of fire from the remaining two ships increased as their Captains risked burning out their power relays in a race to be the first to destroy the interloping pirate ship.
“Primary impacts on the hull sir, we have breaches in multiple compartments.” S’ruul winced internally at the desperation in the Operations Officer’s voice. The lights flickered and then went out, accompanied by a heavy cascade of sparks from a power node on one of the Bridge’s aft bulkheads. As support personnel scrambled to get main power rerouted, S’ruul gave a toothy grin as the second Weequay Corvette exploded. “We may yet get out of this mess...” S’ruul dared to think to himself.
“Sir, hyperspace solution in 15 seconds!” came a relieved voice from the navigation station.
“I need all the weapons and shields you can give me!” S’ruul yelled, “Screw the life support, hell, screw everything but the hyperspace drive and Navi-Comp, just get me more weapons and shields, NOW!”
A green “solution complete” light bathed the face of the Navigation Officer’s face, and in relief, S’ruul raised a hand to order the jump, only to grimace in dismay as the green light snapped back to red and the proximity chime sounded.
Three additional Weequay ships snapped out of hyperspace less than a click in front of the M’rruuv Lrowwl, their shields immediately springing to life and their lasers flickering out to rend the hull of the wounded invader.
“Full power to engines, ram the bastards...” S’ruul growled, his eyes sparkling in anticipation as a loud throaty roar of approval resounded throughout the Bridge.
At such close range, the three newly arrived Weequay ships had little chance of evasion as the Lrowwl rapidly accelerated, it’s engines glowing an intense blue. There was barely a shudder as the Lrowwl impacted it’s tormentor, the gunship’s core penetrating deep into the Togorian Privateer. As the burning wreckage of the gunship penetrated the Privateer's core, the Lrrowl violently exploded, leaving only a single Hutt ship to watch the demise of it’s bretheren as the rapidly expanding ball of incandescent gas enveloped the two nearby ships, instantly turning them into ovens.
For the crew of the M’rruuv Lrowwl, every one a Togorian of the F’laarian Clan, it was an honorable death...