Master of Orion

Master of Orion

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s_omara Oct 26, 2016 @ 12:10pm
Short Story - The Call
By Mike Buonagurio, TRS Manager

Jurak walked slowly out of her dwelling. Coming into the light of the early morning on the third day of the Death of Gods, the Sakkra before her parted. The deference shown was not a mark of leadership but rather respect for the venerable warrior. It was rare for a Sakkra to grow old and those that do were not to be trifled with.

Jurak was wearing her most battered armor. Every scratch, hole and scorch mark attested to her many battles. Upon her were the trophies of victories – teeth from other Sakkra hung around her neck, the thigh armor from a human soldier used as a vambrace, and the pelt of a Mrrshan lay across her back. Dozens of lesser trophies further festooned her armor with all having one thing in common – she only collected from those defeated in hand to hand combat.

Upon seeing her, a whisper turned into a roar from the tribe. Screams of “The Call!” could be heard echoing through the crowd. This was her time – not to swim out into the Great Sea only to drown when one’s strength faded. But to join the ceremony of the Death of Gods; to hunt one last time and die in combat. The Call was a time every venerable Sakkra feels; when one’s strength begins to ebb, reflexes slow, and death is preferable to feeble.

Her hand reached out, subconsciously touching the shafts of the wickedly sharp quarrels for the sssifwen attached to her side. Over her shoulder rested the haft of the li’răn, a forked spear with long cutting edges hammered into the haft below the points. For the Death of Gods one used only traditional weapons. With a steady gait, Jurak went with the tribe into the Bashag swamp to meet her fate.

Eventually she split from the rest of the tribe as The Call is faced alone. She headed confidently into the deepest part, the area where the most vicious and cunning prey called home. “Prey” Jurak thought with a snort. Where she was headed, prey and predator were typically defined by who pounced first.

She recalled her first hunt after her ascension to adulthood. The Death of Gods is a an honored event instilled deep in the Sakkra psyche. It is a commemoration of the epic three-day battle when the first Hierarch, Guanar, slew the Father-God and Mother-God. Tales of battle, feats of strength, feasts, and finally the hunt commemorated this epic event.

Jurak was currently following the spore of a crotox- a particularly dangerous creature composed of fangs, claws, tentacles and paralytic venom. The prints in the sodden loam were large, very large. A worthy foe indeed for her final combat. However, that did not mean she would simply walk into its maw.

Verifying four quarrels were in the rotating cylinder of the sssifwen, she advanced slowly. Pushing the plants aside with her shoulder, she suddenly tensed. At her feet was the imprint so fresh that water had barely begun to fill it. The animal was very close, but what concerned her most was the imprint was pointed towards her and not away. The crotox had sensed her then responded by doubling back.

Crouching down, she lifted the sssifwen to her shoulder while slowly turning in place. A plant rustled to her right. Turning she looked to either side of the still swaying plant straining to make out movement. She knew the crotox would use its tentacles to reach out and create a distraction. The unwary would focus on that while the beast positioned itself for a flank attack. But which flank?

Then she saw it. A blur as it burst forth, legs turning while tentacles grabbed tree trunks to help propel it forward. Jurak got off three of four shots before it was upon her. Two hit the creature which roared as each expanding head blossomed into five separate blades within the crotox. A smudge of orange appeared on its skin as it bled then it was upon her.

Dropping the sssifwen, she firmly grabbed the base of each rubbery tentacle on either side of the jaw. Fangs scraped across her armor leaving trails of yellow-green venom as she pulled the creature into her. Rolling with the impact, she heaved with her legs. The crotox was thrown into a tree before crashing to the ground. Quickly gaining her feet, Jurak unhooked the li’răn from her back before whirling it into position to wait for the next attack.

The wait was not long- one tentacle lashed out then began to wrap around her. This was meant to hinder the crotox’s prey for the follow on bite. Slashing with the li’răn she severed the tentacle with the bladed shaft. This caused the creature to jump back yowling in pain.

Jurak turned with the wounded beast as it circled her, the li’răn whirring in front of her as she attempted to divine the creatures next move. The angry knot of bristled scales in front of her lowered its head hissing through bared fangs. “Dumb animal” she muttered, recognizing the aggressive display while positioning herself to accept the charge and pounce.

The charge was expected, the li’răn positioned high to skewer the crotox as it came down on her. Then the unexpected happened. Too late she realized that a creature to be this large was old and cunning like her. That it had to have experienced its share of Sakkra hunters never mind natural predators. The leap was shallow, just enough to launch itself low at her legs and under the li’răn.

Jurak found herself in the muck on her back with the crotox on top of her. While her arms were free the closeness meant the li’răn was useless. Looking up into dead, black eyes she prepared for The Call. “Finally, my strength has failed” she calmly thought.

Fangs flashed down.

Only to be stopped by the human armor as she threw up her arm to intercept the bite. Her other hand pulled a quarrel from the quiver on her side. Using the crotox’s own momentum as it jerked back with her arm still in its maw she slammed the quarrel through one eye. Sliding past the bone of the eye socket the tip entered the brain. Snagging on solid matter the blades blossomed from the shaft while deeply transecting the brain. Death was instant.

Jurak lay for a while in the dampness of the swamp before rolling the crotox off. Standing she reloaded the sssifwen, retrieved her li’răn, then stood over the body lost in thought. Making up her mind she severed the beasts head as a trophy. Her practiced eye was already making plans on how to make the skull into a helmet.

Turning back to return to her tribe was the realization that she was not feeble. Her vigor had not ebbed nor was she unworthy of life at this time. The Call would eventually take her. But at this moment she had the strength to silence its pull.
Last edited by s_omara; Oct 26, 2016 @ 12:11pm
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Showing 1-2 of 2 comments
seabo_76 Oct 26, 2016 @ 6:17pm 
Love the Sakkra...
So brutal and primal
neireh Nov 1, 2016 @ 2:40am 
Very nice little Story :) Although the Sakkra are not my favourites ;)
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Showing 1-2 of 2 comments
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Date Posted: Oct 26, 2016 @ 12:10pm
Posts: 2