The Fool’s Errand
He liked it when she was focused and angry, he could taste her strength and ferocity, it excited him and terrified their prey. The young human male approached the table as the Alpha ate, Ne’tra hadn’t decided yet if he liked the boy, he recalled the first time they met on the cold, humming, metal den where the Alpha’s pack kept their young. Most human cubs were afraid of Ne’tra and the Alpha as they walked through the corridors, the smell of fear and determination rising from the young as strongly as the stench of fuel on the metallic den’s floors. This boy was curious and unafraid. Ne’tra inched closer to him, his dark furred flank nudging the human’s leg as he sat, speaking rapidly to the Alpha. Despite the nexu’s warning the boy continued jabbering, the Alpha growing increasingly more agitated before finally holding up her hand demanding silence and the boy fell quiet, leaving the room quickly.
Ne’tra caught the meat the Alpha tossed his way, downing it with little more than a perfunctory chew, he trotted along at her heels as they walked to the edge of the farm’s buildings. The Alpha selected a large speeder, one Ne’tra had grown accustomed to riding with his master. She swung her leg over the seat, the nexu climbing behind her, placing his paws on her armor-clad shoulders as he sat on the large leatheris seat. The large cat retracted the sharp spines along his back before rubbing his broad cheek excitedly against the Alpha’s head as he scented the smell of their new world. The duo sped off across the sand as the second sun rose into Tatooine’s morning sky. Ne’tra happily let the wind whip his fur as they rode in tandem to what he guessed was another hunt.
By mid-afternoon, while the Alpha rested against the bones of a large, long-dead creature, Ne’tra lazed in the sun nearby. From time to time his master would press something small and metal to her eyes looking down from their hillside perch while murmuring, clearly frustrated. When the suns were at their highest, the Alpha stood and stretched taking a long drink of the water she brought, offering palmfuls to Ne’tra before they made their way down into the blackened and cratered scar in the sand. Lower to the ground the wind carried the scents to him, seven distinct sentients and the strong odor of leaking fuel. He growled low as a sign to his Alpha there was danger, her hand rested atop of his head, reassuring him that she was already aware. His tail began to slice through the air excitedly as they neared the foul smelling group.
“Eso.” the Alpha commanded with a gesture and Ne’tra quietly moved to take up a low crouched position off to the side, observing the group silently as the Alpha strode into their midst. All of the aliens were waving weapons, Ne’tra could smell blood and death clinging to the sand. Four of the small, vile smelling creatures were dead, the pair remaining were waving frantically, brandishing tiny blasters in their panicked state. The cat’s eyes narrowed, he hoped the Alpha allowed him to hunt these. They looked like they would run… it was always more fun when they ran.
The Alpha approached with palms raised and spoke loudly to their surprised prey clustered around a massive metallic hill, half buried in the sand. The dark, viscous fuel Ne’tra had smelled earlier was much stronger here, he could see it steadily oozing from a crack in the metal of the side of the rock, fouling the ground. The large group consisted of three smaller, more hostile packs: the terrified, tiny, foul-smelling duo. A pair of large, overconfident, armored males and three aggressive, brightly colored sentients who chittered rapidly while thrusting their weapons at the smaller frightened pair, trying to drive them away from the metallic rock. Ne’tra focused his attention on the bigger threat, the colorful trio; he crouched low, digging his claws into the dirt in preparation to pounce.
The agitation of the groups nearly doubled as the Alpha spoke, addressing the armored males who responded by training their weapons on her. Without fear the Alpha continued to speak, Ne’tra could sense her hostility now, although their prey seemed unconcerned. Two things happened almost simultaneously, the aggressive trio all yelped in surprise and immediately opened fire on the small, anxious pair, killing them outright. At nearly the same moment as the blasters were drawn, the Alpha shouted, “Jurkad!” and Ne’tra lept at the trio. From below the Alpha’s open palm a blaster bolt fired, hitting one of the large men in the throat dropping him limply to the ground as she advanced on the second. Ne’tra lost focus on his Master as he landed with claws extended on one of the colorful sentients, the weight of the cat driving the alien to the ground several blaster rounds fired wildly before the nexu simply pulled the man’s head from his spine and lunged toward the remaining two who stood staring in shock next to the still smoking husks of the frightened pair they’d killed.
With a terrified squeal the colorful pair ran, one across the sand dunes, the other up the fuel stained scar in the ground. Ne’tra yowled in excitement, his large paws churning up the sandy soil as he closed the distance quickly, tearing the alien’s blaster arm nearly off with his first strike. The remaining alien picked up his pace as his comrade’s strangled screams echoed across the desert before falling silent. His green, scaly skin did nothing to camouflage the final alien, who was quickly killed with a clamp of the nexu’s jaw over his head and a vigorous shake. Ne’tra trotted back to the Alpha proudly, dropping the head of the final alien at her feet. The Alpha turned, continuing to wipe off her bloodied blade on her thigh as the alien’s dead eyes stared up at her. “Jate b’amr” she said, scratching the top of Ne’tra’s head.
The rest of the afternoon Ne’tra spent meticulously grooming himself, savoring each droplet of blood and viscera left by his prey. The Alpha was not so relaxed, she was a flurry of activity, the hunt having energized her. She shouted at a small metal device in her hand, and soon after the human boy arrived. Together the Alpha and the boy made the sands move from around the metallic rock, revealing a much larger metal structure. When at last the sand was removed the three ventured inside and the cat recognized it as another cold den, smaller and more foul smelling than the others he and the Alpha had been aboard. Ne’tra wandered off to play with the limp forms of his earlier prey, dragging a limb and tossing it in the air to catch and wrestle it into submission before gnawing off the flesh and playing with the large bone instead. It had been a good day.