Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Muur'F'Laar - Part 4 - Betrayal

Betrayal is the only truth that sticks. - Arthur Miller

Murrv’s footsteps echoed around the dimly lit street as he walked home, his small bag of training equipment swinging at his side. As his eyes picked out dark alcoves and alley entrances, looking for threats, he pondered the look that Pruuna had given him as he left her apartment. Would his late brother’s wife wish him ill enough to do something drastic?

As if in reaction to his thoughts, his visual scan picked up movement ahead on the empty street, as a stout Togorian emerged from a crossing alley, the orange stripes on his jet black fur dimly reflecting the distant neon lights of a bar. Any doubt as to the young male’s intentions vanished with a hum as he brought a vibro-sword up into a mockery of a salute.

With a practiced eye, Murrv observed the Bravo’s stance and the way he held his weapon, and a small tendril of concern caressed his mind. This cat wasn’t a common street tough out for a quick score for spice, he had training, and likely from Weapon Master O’ruulth at the Academy if Murrv didn’t miss his guess.

A quick flick of the head showed Murrv a second Bravo stepping out of an alley behind him, this one with charcoal fur, and his ears turned towards his back in time to pick up another soft buzzing sound from the smaller newcomer.

“Out for a stroll youngsters?” Murrv called out with a smirk, as he dropped his bag to the street’s wet flagstones and drew his own vibro-sword, the tone of it’s soft buzz clashing discordantly with that of the Bravos’ weapons. “It’s not safe to walk around with bared blades you know, someone might get hurt.” he smirked as he sidestepped towards the edge of the street and raised his blade into a high-guard.

“There’s only one person getting hurt tonight, and it’s you old man.”, responded the larger black-furred Togorian as he began closing on the old warrior.

Having now pegged the larger of the two as the leader, Murrv distanced a little more from him by stepping backwards towards the smaller Togorian behind him. Using the glass of a shop-front, Murrv kept the flanking Bravo in view, his senses vibrating in a flood of endorphins.

Sensing an opportunity to end this fight quickly (and taking Murrv’s bait), the Bravo flanking Murrv lunged forward and swung hard for his neck, only to catch air as Murrv ducked the blade and counter thrust behind him, rewarding the youngster’s brash action with a deep score along his ribs. Following the thrust with a pivot, Murrv put the now bleeding attacker between himself and the approaching Leader.

“F’ellth, you fool!” the larger Togorian hissed. “I said to take him together.”

F’ellth’s ears flattened as he whined, “But he’s old and slow Rowwlv, you said so yourself!”
Murrv grinned wickedly at the two, continuing to slowly back up to keep them in front of him with his blade humming in a high-guard.

“Old and slow doesn’t mean unskilled you worthless cub, now do as we discussed!” Rowwlv growled.

Murrv sighed inwardly as his two attackers began to split apart, forcing him to keep backing up to avoid being flanked. He made a few feints to keep them off balance, aggressively slapping at the tips of their blades with his own to prevent them from finding a rhythm, but he knew he needed to even the odds quickly before he made the inevitable mistake that would leave him skewered.

Letting F’ellth move a little more towards his weak side, Murrv was ready when the youngster finally gave a quick thrust with his blade. A fast step back saw the blade pass harmlessly in front of the old warrior, at which point Murrv grabbed F’ellth’s sword-paw with his own and yanked, simultaneously parrying a slashing attack from Rowwlv coming at him from the right. Finishing his parry, F’ellth let his own blade carry between him and a stumbling F’ellth, bringing it across his body and cutting deeply into F’ellth’s midsection. The smaller Togorian collapsed with a cut off shriek, and Murrv stepped quickly backwards to avoid an eruption of foot-entangling entrails across the flagstones.

While he had not forgotten about Rowwlv, a sharp sting across Murrv’s strong-side shoulder, followed immediately by the prickly feeling of warm blood tickling his fur let him know that Rowwlv hadn’t forgotten about him either. Murrv responded by jumping to the left while quickly bringing his blade back up to guard the right side of his body, and he turned to face his last attacker, continuing to slowly circle away from the fresh carcass adorning the road. A quick glance at his shoulder brought bad news - the large bleeding gash meant that arm didn’t have long before it would numb and cease working, and while Murrv was pretty good with his weak paw, he’d need all of his skill to deal with this last opponent.

Rowwlv smelled the blood in the air, and he allowed himself a small smile. He stepped back a moment, watching the older warrior warily, content to wait for the blood loss to weaken his opponent.

Murrv bared his teeth in a snarl, and then drew his vibro-dagger with his left hand. “I’m not finished with you yet, boy!” he bellowed, stepping quickly forward and making a sweeping feint at Rowwlv’s head, with a change-up to a leg strike mid-swing. Rowwlv correctly anticipated the leg strike, and tried to parry low, only to have his blade trapped by Murrv’s dagger. Murrv angled his blade up with a cut to the groin, and as Rowwlv fell to one knee, neatly took his head off with a strong blow. Murrv’s eyes watched his own vibro-blade spraying blood into the air as it spun in a flat arc across the street from his nerveless fingers. “Not an instant too soon.” he wheezed quietly to himself.

Quickly cleaning his dagger on Rowwlv’s clothes and sheathing it, Murrv bent over, using his left paw to search through the corpse’s pockets for anything that might reveal the origin of this attack. As he pulled a small data pad from a cargo pocket, a blaster shot split the fragile quiet of the empty street.

Murrv’s body slowly toppled over, joining his late assailants on the cold, wet flagstones.

Rurrv F’laar, Elder Councilman of the F’laarian Clan, saved the work on his terminal and got up from his desk. Grabbing a small satchel, he climbed the stairs to the mosgoth perches on the roof of the small building.

Vullk nuzzled him as he got near, and he gave the huge flying beast an affectionate pat before tying in his satchel and hopping up onto the saddle that clung to the creature’s back near the base of its wings.

A fresh breeze brought the scent of the freshly blooming flowers that lined the street below, and Rurrv gave a deep voiced howl of satisfaction as, in response to a gentle tug of the reins, Vullk propelled them into the air, turning south towards the F’laarian Camp.

Clearing the edge of the city, Rurrv kept half an eye on the skies above him, wary as always for any signs of a wandering liphon on the hunt for a quick meal. The vast grasslands, dotted with copses of old growth forest, undulated off to meet the blue-green of the horizon.

A jerk of Vullk’s head was all the warning Rurrv had as a brief flash emanated from a small thicket of trees to his right, followed by a lengthening contrail streaking up towards him. Sawing on the reins, Rurrv put his mosgoth into a tight turn towards the missile, winging over into a dive that corkscrewed towards the fast approaching missile.

Through eyes watering from the shrieking wind, the Elder Councilman saw the missile’s smoky tail veer by on the left, for a moment fooled by the rapid maneuver, followed by a kink that belied the 20grav turn ordered by the guidance package as it reacquired the combined heat of cat and rider against the empty expanse of sky.

From within the thicket, slitted eyes narrowed in satisfaction as contrail and plummeting mosgoth merged for a moment, followed by an expanding directional starburst of steam and gore.


Back at Mrrowl’s home, a green light on Pruuna’s comm device activated as it chirped once, twice and then fell dark and silent.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Muur’F’laar - Part 3 - A New Purpose

"For my people it's the honor and glory of battle that rules us. It's through combat that we prove our worth, gain renown and make our fortunes." ― Canderous Ordo

Pruuna sighed as the sound of little paws smashing into cushioned pads resumed from the balcony courtyard. A glance through the kitchen window showed the now very familiar scene of Mrrowl using his arms and legs to strike practice targets attached to Murrv’s paws. Every now and again, Murrv would stop and correct Mrrowl’s form, or demonstrate a particular strike or throw.

While she wasn’t overly enthusiastic about Murrv’s repeated visits to work with Mrrowl on hand to hand combat, she had to admit that the physical exertion seemed to do the ten year old cub a lot of good. He’d stopped sulking, had seemed to return to a condition more approaching normal, and most importantly for a single mother - all of the activity meant there were no more arguments about bed time. Mrrowl was usually asleep very soon after dinner.

Seeing her child trained for combat still wasn’t sitting entirely well with Pruuna, however, Murrv had done a marvelous job stepping in to fill the void left in Mrrowl by his father’s death. She wished her son had latched onto a more passive role model, someone in any other profession for that matter, but she had to admit Mrrowl was thriving under Murrv’s tutelage. Shaking her head, a hard look crossed her face as she came to a decision.

Keeping an eye on the window, Pruuna picked up a comm unit and entered an access code...


The pad juked left, and Mrrowl leaned in to tag it with a left jab, only to get blindsided as the right-hand pad slammed into his right ear. As his head snapped to the left, a leg swept his feet out from under him and Mrrowl crashed to the ground.

“Don’t get fixated on your target Mrrowl! Have patience and wait for your opening. Rushing will just get you killed.” Murrv stated sternly. “Always try to keep threats in front of you - don’t sacrifice your vision of one to get at the other. Circle or pull back if you must, but don’t let them surround you.”

Shaking his head to clear it, Mrrowl nodded and got up off of the hard floor, resuming a “ready” stance. Murrv smiled inwardly to see the hard set of the cub’s jawline, accented by a squint of concentration that gave the boy’s darting stare a disconcerting flinty look.

This time, Murrv led with a fast leg sweep, and was gratified to see the cub easily leap over the sweep and tag both targets at once with his feet, ending with a tuck and roll that brought Mrowwl to his feet on Murrv’s weak side. From his new position, the cub gave two moderate jabs to the elder warrior’s left kidney before swiftly moving back out of range of a countering hammer blow.

Murrv winced at how strong the cub was getting as he rubbed his back over his aching kidney for a moment, then winked to allay the concerned look that Mrrowl was giving him. It was a good thing that he’d be off for the Academy soon, the old warrior knew that he’d be outclassed in no time.

“All right, all right little warrior. That’s enough hand to hand for today,” Mrrowl’s face fell, and Murrv smiled as he added, “but tomorrow we’ll work some more on the axe.”

At the mention of Mrrowl’s favorite weapon, his eyes and face lit up and he rushed over to give his Uncle a hug with a big smile on his face, before hurrying inside towards the smell of dinner.

Murrv nodded to Pruuna on his way to the front door, and his mind raced as he noticed that her teeth were bared in a smile that didn’t touch her eyes. Other than her call to come help with Mrrowl, he had barely spoken to her since S’ruul’s funeral. With a last look, he activated the door and stepped out into the corridor, keeping half an eye on his flank as the door slammed shut behind him.