Aay’han

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You’re not busy, are you? Good. Care to indulge an old man for a moment? While I’m working here, why don’t you find a crate to sit on or something? Make yourself comfortable. I want to tell you a story.

Once, there was a young boy. His mother and father raised him in our ways, as you might expect. His mother taught him our language and how to survive in the harsh jungle; his father taught him to shoot and to hunt. For many years, father and son prowled the trees and caves, and as the boy grew, so did his father’s pride. “He will bring honor to the clan,” he said. All was good.

On the boy’s tenth birthday, his father called to him.

“Boy,” he said. “I am famished. Find me a meal that we might prepare it together.”

Ever the dutiful son, the lad took his vibroknife and blaster pistol and set out to obey his father’s command. Unlike the aruetiise, he did not whine or question or worry. He would do as his father asked, as was expected of him. This would be the first hunt where the boy would venture out alone, but his father was sure that he would succeed.

The boy began his hunt early in the morning. The heat of the sun and the cold breath of the wind battered him as he traveled far afield of camp, but he was determined. Both his mother and father had been preparing him to fend for himself for as long as he could remember, and he would not allow himself to be beaten by the weather.

The tall trees shook violently as he passed them by. Crouching low, he crept into a small cavern that he traversed on light feet, careful not to disturb the bioluminescent mushrooms and vines so as not to betray his presence. As he exited the opposite end, the young hunter’s keen eyes fell upon their prey: a cannok. These creatures were small and insignificant, and even in larger packs, they were more of a nuisance than a threat. Regardless, he took aim and fired. The beast squealed and bumbled around, but the lad was quick to put it out of its misery. His vibroknife finished the job.

“I cannot return to my father with a cannok. He put all of his faith in me. I must honor him and his trust with a more impressive meal.”

The boy gutted the carcass, cleaned his vibroknife, and stuffed the cannok’s meat into a sack he had brought along. Then, the hunt continued.

The sun was high when the boy came upon his next target. A malraas was prowling the bushes, prepared to leap out and tear at an unsuspecting cannok. The malraas were known to be tenacious adversaries. Even though they had small, lean frames, their claws were sharp, and their sinewy muscles were capable of propelling them forward at a respectable speed.

The young hunter crept down once more. The malraas was hiding from the cannok, but he was hiding from it. His vibroknife drawn and humming with energy, he lunged forward. The wily feline bounded out of range, spun around on its paws, and let out a vicious roar. The young hunter would not back away from such a challenge. Taking a deep breath, the boy let out a feral growl of his own and rushed forward.

The malraas fell to the ground, limp and defeated. Once again, the boy was victorious. It was an impressive feat for one as young as he, but certainly no challenge for an adult.

“How easily these creatures fall before me!” he boasted proudly. “But my father would not send me for just a malraas. I must bring something greater.”

Back at camp, the boy’s father had already begun preparing for his return. So certain was he that his son would triumph that he gathered the clan, and together they were preparing a celebratory feast in honor of his growing prowess.

The sun began to descend as the boy continued his hunt. Further and deeper into the jungle he went, further away from the safety of camp. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the green hide of a young boma that was stamping around a small pond. The boma were fierce predators, a challenge for even the most skilled amongst us. Though they were larger and slower than the malraas, they were strong, and their hides taut.

The young hunter rose to that challenge. He relentlessly unloaded his blaster pistol on the beast. Even as it yelped and charged, the lad stood his ground and kept his bravery intact. The boma fell at his feet, defeated.

“Even the boma is nothing before my might!” the boy exclaimed, cheering. “But even the boma is too measly a prize. I must bring find something greater so that I can truly prove my worth to my father, my father who trained me so vigorously. I must bring honor to my clan.”

“Honor your mother and father, honor your brothers and sisters, honor your sons and daughters.” Those were the words that his father had spoken to him many times, and as the darkness of night stretched across the sky, those were the words he kept in his heart as he continued on. He never traveled this far before, but it did not matter. He loved his father. He loved his mother. He loved his clan, his family not by blood, but by their connection in the oversoul. He wanted to make them all proud.

The boy came upon a cave in the darkness, and an ominous growl called to him from within its depths. His vibroknife at the ready, the boy’s heart became iron as he proceeded. Inside, he came face-to-face with the red eyes of the greatest predator of them all: the Zakkeg. These creatures were massive, bloodthirsty, and more often than not were the death of those who were foolish enough to challenge them.

The young hunter was not deterred. He bared his teeth and beat his chest as he made his attack, chanting our battle songs with Kad’s fury. “Motir ca'tra nau tracinya, gra'tua cuun hett su dralshy'a; taung!”

Needless to say, the battle was intense. The boy fought with great ferocity- armed only with a blaster pistol and vibroknife, he challenged the Zakkeg with the rage of the taung, our progenitors from days long past. But though his fighting spirit was great, he was unable to match the Zakkeg’s strength. He fell in that cave, defeated.

It was not long after that his father arrived, a scouting party at his back. They had ventured out to search for the boy after he did not return, and when the father had found his son’s body in that cave, he unleashed his vengeance. A roar that could be heard miles around was followed by the most vicious of onslaughts. The father did not stop until his body was covered with the Zakkeg’s blood and entrails.

Having felled the beast, the father carried his son home. There was no feast or celebration that night- only mourning. Only the sorrowful cries of a grieving father that did not cease until daylight broke.

The boy’s name was Jodan, and I’ll never forget the lessons he taught me. It was an honorable death, to be sure- but I would give anything for him to be by my side now, a fully grown man.

Ni su'cuyi, gar kyr'adyc, ni partayli, gar darasuum. I’m still alive, but you are dead. I remember you, so you are eternal.