The Worthy Hunt
The Warmaster’s camp was bustling with activity before sunrise. The excited shouts of men and women drew Avirys from her slumber and the smell of caf and breakfast woke her stomach with a growl. The flurry of camp activity evoking some of the happiest memories from Avi’s childhood. Avirys and her nexu, Ne’tra, had arrived late the previous evening when most of the warriors and hunters had already retired to their tents to rest or were gathered in small boisterous groups. They nodded to the Sith Lord upon her arrival, they had been friendly enough, but clearly being a Sith set her apart from being included entirely. Avirys returned the acknowledgements, offering a “Su cuy’gar, vod” to the few who seemed most curious about her presence. She smirked knowingly as her perfectly clipped Dromund Kaas elocution dissolved when she shifted from Basic to Mando’a, causing more than one head to turn at the heavy outer-rim accent that came through when speaking in her native tongue. Lord Avirys wove her way through the camp to the empty tent the Enclave warriors had provided for her, the nearly adult, black mottled nexu, Ne’tra trotting at her side, his eyes scanning the camp and its inhabitants, sniffing the air as if cataloging each new scent.
Donning her armor in silence she scratched Ne’tra’s head and double checked her gear. She grinned, clasping her respirator to her belt, realizing that all she truly needed for victory she already had. She bent down, rubbing her forehead against her nexu’s and speaking to him softly, “Ibi’tuur ad’ika, mhi kyr’amur a asalaramir.” «today little one, we kill a rancor» The pair had a light meal and set out from camp without delay. They followed the same path they had months before when their initial hunt for a shadow devourer had been cut short by the creature’s death to the mother rancor. Today they would test their skill as they hunted her. Much had changed for Avirys and Ne’tra since their last visit to the demon moon, they both were physically stronger and their bond through constant training had been forged closer than Avirys thought possible. Even without the Force, Ne’tra seemed to intuit Avi’s movement, hunting in tandem as a predatory duo.
By the time the sun was high overhead and the early morning chill was but a faint memory, the pair were deep in the most inhospitable part of the jungle. The canopy of branches above so dense it barely allowed the sunlight. Avirys noted the trampled vegetation as the silent pair moved further into the dense, marshy jungle, surely this had to be a rancor’s path. Something huge had passed through here recently. Avi knelt, examining a broken branch on the well trod ground. She ran her gloved thumb over the sticky sap still weeping from the tree’s jagged wound. She closed her eyes, extending her senses outward, letting her excitement fuel her connection to the Force as her mind saw beyond what her eyes could accomplish. Her breath hitched briefly, tasting the terror of a dozen creatures fleeing to their dens, to their south, the mother rancor was near and it was hungry. Avi’s face split into a wide, toothy grin as she stood, glancing to Ne’tra pacing excitedly nearby, eager to hunt. Avirys extended the branch to Ne’tra, expecting the scent of the rancor who had felled it was still present enough to allow him to know their target. “Mar’eyir, Ne’tra.” «find»
The nexu lit out in a flash, bounding down the path the rancor had carved through the vegetation and underbrush. Avi chuckled, clasping her respirator in place over the lower half of her face and followed behind him, letting the nexu take the lead. She stalked cautiously down the path, her senses on alert to potential dangers and within minutes she took her place beside Ne’tra, crouching next to him as his eyes never left their target.
The mother rancor was feeding. A screaming shallows devourer in one of her tightly clenched fists while the half torn body of its companion jutted from the rancor’s mouth, the blood and viscera dripping from the toothy maw as she chewed. Avirys reached out, placing her palm on Ne’tra’s neck, smiling as the razor sharp obsidian spines covering his back extended as he slipped into full predator stance. “Sagia’gr” «patience» she said quietly, they both knew the command, more than simply watching, it meant they would wait until the perfect moment to unleash their devastating attack. It was both a ‘wait’ and a ‘be ready’ command.
Long excited minutes seemed to stretch as the rancor consumed both creatures and moved almost sluggishly to a large tree, rubbing her back against it. With a nod to herself and a solid pat on Ne’tra’s head Avirys commanded the nexu, “Kyr’amur!” «kill» With a low growl, Ne’tra slunk through the vegetation, moving low to the ground, stalking his prey. He moved to an area near the rear flank of the rancor. Avirys watched her cat move into position, replicating the attack they’d used dozens of times on their hunts, going after increasingly larger and deadlier prey. When she was satisfied the cat was ready she stood, taking her saber in her hands and igniting it as she moved the hilt overhead in her strong Djem So stance.
The mother rancor snarled at the intruders, her lumbering gait picking up speed as she charged through the brush toward Avirys. In a flash of black and tan, Ne’tra leapt from the underbrush, clambering up the rancor’s thick hide with his sharp claws and savagely attacking the rancor’s neck. Avirys stood her ground as the rancor bellowed in pain from the nexu’s bite, Ne’tra tore at the neck, even this relative ‘soft spot’ still tough. The massive rancor shook its head violently, trying to dislodge the nexu, the rash movement helping the cat further rend the armored beast. Fully enraged, the mother rancor swiped at Avirys as it finally reached her and with a sharp and powerful downward cleave, Avi removed the first finger of the rancor before launching herself into the air and out of the reach of the fearsome giant.
The scent of blood filled the air as Avi landed near her nexu atop the rancor, Ne’tra’s snout covered in blood as he furiously tore at the neck and throat of the rancor. With her blade still in hand Avirys carefully maintained her balance as she drove the tip of her lightsaber into the back of the rancor’s skull. Thrusting it deeply once, then withdrawing the blade and forcing it in once more for good measure. The beast barely reacted to the quick attacks before it stilled, standing motionless for a few heartbeats before crumpling to the ground with Avirys and Ne’tra still atop it. Avirys walked around the beast, impressed at its massive size, nodding in satisfaction at their successful hunt. She made no effort to quell the cat’s continued ravagement of the rancor, Ne’tra tore hunks of flesh from the unmoving form, he seemed to revel in the thrill of the kill. Avi chuckled, ‘let him have his fun, he earned it’ she thought as she leaned over, picking up the claw she’d severed, nearly as large as her thigh. An idea struck her as she drew her dagger, removing the claw from the finger, she pulled a densely-woven mesh bag from her utility belt, depositing the claw before removing the rest. While Ne’tra examined, then began to devour the severed finger Avirys moved to the beast’s mouth and its rows of long, sharp teeth. It was a laborious task but after nearly an hour, Avirys had carved each tooth from the rancor’s jaw, the teeth ranging in size from her fingers to the largest which were nearly the length of her hand. She hoisted her prizes over her shoulder, whistled for Ne’tra and set off for the return trek to the camp belonging to the Mi’nihy’a.