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Sotch woke up early in the morning. The light of dawn filtered in through his window in streaks of red and orange. He stretched his tired limbs, as well as his tusks and looked around. It was his usual boring home on Shath-Yer. No prey. Nothing happening. The small room was cool and dark. He could smell his own musk around.
He lifted his heavy muscular arms and wiped the sleep from his tired eyes. Despite his aching limbs from training and fighting the day earlier, he was able to take his legs off the stone bed and swiveled his body to the side. He briefly looked at his wristband on a small pedestal nearby. The different lines and marks he read on the screen told him the suns had risen not long ago.
He grabbed his gear and slipped it on. First came the wristbands. Then he put the armor over his shoulders and put his chest plate on. He tightened it so it stuck to him. Lastly he slid on his metal sandals over his clawed feet and headed out the door.
Sotch was nothing out of the ordinary, an unblooded Yautja, eager for his first hunt. He had a big head crest, like others in his species, and strong limbs. His skin was a yellowish-tan with black spots. Still being young, he did not have much body hair and had only four tusks. Even at such a young age, his muscles bulged.
He lacked hunting gear since he had never hunted before. He had stalked and killed the small creatures on his planet, but for food or skins, not as game. Plus the fact they're barley worth it. They never had a chance to attack or even defend themselves.
Protruding from his wrists were the basic battle blades. They are used for training or the skinning of animals.
Sotch was a pretty well fighter for his age. Unfortunately most Yautja tactics are killing, not fighting. Well, then again most Yautja have to continually prove themselves by battling to the death.
His monstrous feet packed the sand and as he stomped away. He stood tall as he passed other Yautja, mostly female. No males were around his village besides his brother, Shak and a couple young unbloods still in training. All the males, including his father, had left years ago to hunt.
Of course Sotch never knew his father. In his culture father and son don't share a bond. It didn't bother the soon to-be hunter at all. It's about keeping his species alive.
Despite that fact, he would still follow in his father's footsteps. He would be a hunter and nothing could stop him from that. Sotch would crush the life out of anything that tried. He was amused at that thought, and admirably observed his muscles.
He glanced at his shadow as Sotch made his way along the trodden path. His brother Shak was probably still asleep. He tended to stay up late and drink beverages that blurred his senses and made his poor vision even weaker.
He could also be heard firing his plasma caster until the five moons were far in the night sky. At some point during their long stay on Shath-Yer, Shak had found a plasma caster dropped by an aged hunter. He got much amusement from continually blowing away old machinery or sand crabs. Sotch was a little more disciplined when it came to that stuff. Although, Sotch could have some fun with a weapon like that.
He walked wearily and made it appear he was in no hurry. He made sure to flex his arms to their full size when a group of females his age passed by. He looked straight ahead and made it seem he was ignoring them.
He finally got to the point where he could see his brother's home. Just behind it was a wide trench that was thousands of feet deep. Sotch and Shak once tied a rope of animal skin to a ledge up above the chasm and swung out over it. When Shak kept messing with it, he almost fell to his death, and Sotch's quick thinking was the only thing that saved him.
He walked down the trail, kicking aside rocks from the orange dirt. Shak's house was made of metal and kept out the sun from frying the unblood. There were two windows in front which were wide open, eliminating the purpose of the structure being insulated from the heat. Sotch looked around and saw pieces of machinery blown to bits. He happened to notice his conditioning unit smoldering in a pile of ash.
Sotch gritted his teeth. Why did Shak blow up his conditioning unit? He marched up to the structure, eager to make his foolish brother pay. He tried the door, which was locked. Then he punched in some numbers on the control panel. The door still didn't open.
Sotch, now angry, took up a piece of his conditioning unit and smashed it into the control panel. Then he took out his wristblades and kicked through the door.
His brother was there, but he certainly wasn't conscious. Shak was passed out, halfway out of bed, bleeding lightly from his right eyebrow, still clutching the plasma caster. Sotch just shook his head in disgust. What a fool.
The conscious Yautja thought about leaving him there and letting him be late when the hunters came. As much as he would enjoy that, he decided to be generous, and lifted his brother's legs over his shoulders. He dragged his brother out of bed and onto the floor of his hut, then finally onto the soft sand.
There was Sotch, trotting along carrying his brother's body behind him. He turned more than a few heads.
He was embarrassed when he passed the same females he had passed earlier. They snickered at him as he slowly made his way away from them.
"Oh he'll pay..." Sotch whispered to himself silently, gritting his teeth again.
It seemed forever until Sotch reached his temporary home. He dropped his brother at the front of his house. He lightly kicked Shak a couple times. His only response was the twitching of one tusk.
Sotch disappeared around back for a couple moments. When he reappeared to the front, he was carrying a barrel of water. He grabbed his brother by the chest plate and lifted his head over the water. Then he dunked the drunken Yautja's head into it. There were some bubbles.
He brought his still comatose brother's head out of the water for a second to let air fill his lungs, then Sotch thrust it back in.
He repeated this a couple more times until finally he heard Shak start to wake up. The water was cold by Yautja standards, and the now awake Shak, tried to force his way out.
Sotch brought his head up, saw he was awake at last, and pushed his head back under again, this time out of anger. Now Shak was completely conscious, and grabbed at Sotch's arms. When he brought him back up, Shak breathed in, and was able to make out "I'm awake", before Sotch pushed him back under again. He did this until his brother finally realized he'd messed up.
Then he just let go and walked away while the Yautja tried to climb out. When he succeeded in this, Shak shook the water from his head and looked up at Sotch.
"What was that for now?" coughed Shak.
"Your own good," Sotch replied with satisfaction.
The dripping hunter looked around and coughed up more water.
"What even happened last night?" said Sotch. "I heard you blasting away and then there was silence."
For a second it looked like the Yautja had no idea whatsoever what Sotch was talking about. Then all the memories came flooding back, and a look of embarrassment came over his face.
"Um, I don't remember," Shak lied.
"Very well," said Sotch "You do remember today we hunt for the first time in our lives."
Shak nodded and sunk his head in disgrace. Sotch made a movement with his head to follow him. He led his brother back to his house and told him to train and get his hunting tools ready. Also Sotch told Shak to throw away all his old stuff. Once they started hunting, there would be no use for a conditioner, or a star map. Right now, all they need are wristblades, and a couple daggers.
Sotch needed to get ready too. He would train until the males finally arrived. He looked back and remembered his unfortunate circumstances. When he and Shak were young their mother was killed, and they had to try to train on they’re own. Normally, the mother would teach her children all she knew. Maybe a female Yautja would not know much, since she had never hunted, but being very aggressive, knew a lot of hand-to-hand combat. He clicked his tusks with sorrow. Their mother had died of sickness. They may have advanced healing systems, but when it comes to Salif-poison, from the plant, there can be no cure.
While Sotch made his way toward his house he scooped up some water in his hands and drank it. The coolness of the liquid came as a startle when it reached his stomach, but it felt good on his throat.
“Ung…” he said to himself. “Taste of Shak.”
He walked in the door and looked around. He would never see his home again. He shook his head and realized how foolish he was being. He knew he would give up the comfort of being safe and happy to live his life in excitement. He could welcome the blood of his first kill already. He could feel the heat leave its body.
He looked around his home. What could he possibly need to take with him on this trip? He picked up the skull of an old animal he had killed. He looked it over, and then crushed it. He wouldn’t need it to prove himself. He walked over to a rock he had found with a crystal in it. He threw that out the window. Old machinery, rocks and more tiny skulls... Sotch owned nothing of importance. He stepped around. He got a pack and put in traveling rations. Rations were mostly used to go back and forth between the well and his village.
That reminded Sotch he needed water. In case he got stuck on his hunting ground. He took containers for future skulls and whatever else he would need. He packed a cloak so he would not get wet from rain or burned from sun. He could even use it for a tent. Lastly he packed metal cord for tying or using in machinery. Yautja on his planet use metal cord in the place of rope because it’s stronger against wind and sand storms. Who knows, he might need in the future for a more important purpose.
He simply despised of this. He could be doing something useful but instead stuck in his hut putting objects in a bag. He reassured himself. It would be over soon.
Sotch’s brother on the other hand was most likely wandering about shooting things. Sotch clicked his bottom tusks with amusement. He would clean him up later.
It took unusually long to get all his stuff in a bag, considering he didn’t have any personal belongings. Every time he would get to packing he would examine something of mock interest to him. Then he might tear it open or crush it and get back to work.
In the end, he took more than two times the amount of stuff he planned to take. Then Sotch looked back through again and took out some objects. When at last he was done Sotch was quite proud of himself. He had put some of his belonging into a sack.
Before he left he would barter what he had left on whatever he desired. Now he wished he hadn’t destroyed so many of his items that might be worth something for no apparent reason. He grabbed all his skulls and bone fragments and all his mineralized stones and headed for the market. He closed his door and didn’t lock it, not seeing any reason since his house was empty. He looked ahead of himself and started off. Today would be fun.
He began in the jewelry section. A good hunter always wears lots of bones around his body. Necklaces, bracelets, beads, even small pieces of bone to wear in his hair to keep them in straight locks. Of course he used only the bones of animals he caught. It would be illegal to use someone else’s. He just needed someone to adjust them and put them together for a small price. A necklace of bones and teeth may make a Yautja look formidable, but a male doesn’t look so tough buying jewelry, so Sotch hurried his way through this and explored more of the market.
He next went to the food. Saliva dripped from his tusks and through his teeth when he smelled the succulent meat hanging around the racks. He greeted the musk of fresh meat, ripe from the bone. He traded several mineral deposits for a Reathen steak. Then he realized that he couldn’t eat this all in one day and he could never have time to eat it until it rotted. He, with sorrow, traded it to another booth for dried meat. He moved on before he changed his mind and stashed it in his pack.
He also bartered some salt to preserve his meat and spices to add flavor. Lastly he traded the last of his old cloth for a piece of meltic, a common stone for kindling. He got it cheap because his village had no use for fire being warm all year round. Lastly he bought all the stuff he wanted to buy, like nets, and daggers. He even got some drinks to consume when the occasion came. He wasn’t Shak but he should have some fun.
Sotch knew it was time to stop when he, for one, ran out of stuff to barter, and, for two, when the morning ended and the temperature started to rise. But Sotch has happy. When the young Yautja had entered the market, he was eager to buy and had a bag mostly empty. When he left he was contempt and his bag was filled to the top full of valuables.
He went back to his hut and sighed as he let himself down onto the bed. He looked through his bag and pulled out objects of interest for him to look over. He tested the dried meat. Of course it was bland and tasteless to Sotch. It would fill him up though which was the important part. He also tested the meltic on some old cloth he had found on his doorway. Most likely it had been blown there from somewhere else. The unblood wasn’t sure of its quality since he had never used meltic before, but after a couple minutes he had it figured out. The cloth caught fire and Sotch was pleased with himself for overcoming the task.
He tested the daggers by stabbing objects around him. They were very sharp. He lightly pressed his finger on the tip of the blade until it cut him. He wiped the blood away still looking at the small close-combat weapon. Sotch tried several lunges with each. Then with speed and precision, he turned and threw the dagger at the wall.
It stuck in the wall, penetrating several layers. Sotch pulled it out and banged it on his bed to test its strength. It made a clanging noise when it hit but it didn’t continue long.
When Sotch was done testing all he had bought he decided he had better check on his brother. Who knows where he might be by now. And while he’s at it, he can explore around his village one last time.
The Yautja first went to the plaza to see what gossip had engulfed his community. Sotch’s village was mostly female, so both his brother and he knew that every day there would be gossip. Not that they didn’t spread rumors themselves, or share common information. Sotch guessed he got that from growing up with females as well.
Then on his way to his brother’s he went to say farewell to his mother. Her spirit rested below a bed of rocks like the others around her in a small bowl shaped area where the dead are burned to ashes. Many were young Yautja who had died of heat or elderly females that had died. Most females that live to be Sotch’s age want to have children so they felt they have honor by continuing their species so they try to stay alive, but more important is the life of their children, even if they are not seeded with life. Although the Yautja never knew his mother well, he still had fond memories. Mostly stuff like traveling with her. There was some closeness he remembered. And he remembered her mask.
His brother was there too. Her death probably affected him the most. When they’re mother died, Sotch had to take charge and be the more responsible one. His brother had likely relied on her when he messed up. That would be the reason Sotch is more responsible now when he’s older.
Then he moved away from the resting place and walked to Shak’s home. His large leg muscles pushed him across the village in only a small amount of time. Sotch wanted to see what his brother had bartered and show Shak all he had to bring with him. When Sotch made it to his brother’s home the temperature was almost to the usual for this time of day. The hunters would be here soon.
He came to his brother’s and walked through the busted door. This would be their first hunt, but Sotch’s brother was nowhere in sight.
The morning was ending on Shath-Yer. It was getting closer to the hottest part of the day. All the animals that thrived at morning hid under their burrows, while the insects ventured out in quick trips to bring back food for their hives. The desert sand swirled up in patterns of red and orange.
The indigenous Yautja couldn’t’t help realizing how alike they were with the desert creatures. Selling and venturing for water in the mornings to return to their homes before noon. Then they would linger around their homes. Yautja loved heat, but Shath-Yer was unpleasant to all who dared live there. Sotch had always hated his home and was eager to leave. But how was he suppose to leave when his kin was nowhere in sight.
Sotch was couldn’t think what to do. His brother had gone missing on the day they were to become Youngbloods. The stupidity of his situation was overwhelming to the young Yautja. Why must there always be difficulty in his life.
Sotch tried to think of all the reasons his brother is not in his home. Well, there would be no reason Shak would be out in the middle of his village. The Yautja at the market has packed up their products, so he wouldn’t be there. He could have left for Sotch’s hut to ask him about something or to report some news or to just be in his comforting presence, Sotch thought. Sotch did think of himself as being very interesting.
Or something could have happened to Shak. He could have got injured. Sotch decided he probably deserved it. Shak could have been crushed by boulders, or got caught in a small dust devil and been buried. Either way, Sotch, however much he didn’t want to admit it, appreciated Shak’s presence.
However, if Shak was somewhere in his village, blowing away stuff with a plasma caster, he would get much worse than his head dunked in water.
This led the young Yautja to his decision. He would search for Shak, to either find him at his home, find his body to bring back, or to find the Yautja and make him pay for his stupidity.
Sotch slowly made his way back to his hut. He would look around for Shak and if he wasn’t there he would make a circle around the perimeter of his village. Then if he failed at that he would have to head to the well, despite the heat. That’s the only place Sotch could think Shak might go. He didn’t know why his brother would go there, but if he wanted to find his body, he would have to travel all the places Yautja would go. Then he would return to Shak’s hut one last time.
The worse part of this was that Sotch had only a few hours to accomplish all of this before the elder hunters came. So he had better make haste.
Sotch’s mouth dried almost instantly, besides the fact had folded his tusks over his mouth to not let in dust and sand. He got to his hut and drank as much water as he could from some in his house.
Shak appeared to be nowhere on the premises. He looked around just to make sure. No Shak.
The unblood sighed and looked around one more time, and then headed for his village perimeter. Sotch’s village was an oval shape with the huts on the west side and the plaza in the middle on the west side. He explored the northwest first. The houses there were smaller than the ones in the middle. The ancestral homes in the middle were owned by families with more honor.
Sotch and Shak had their mother’s home, but Shak got his own house when a family died of heat. It was a very grim situation but at least they honored the dead by putting water in their bed of rocks to show their appreciation as they do their mother’s.
So Sotch continued on past the smaller houses and the larger houses looking for some sign of his brother the whole way. He would take occasional brakes so he didn’t get tired too quickly.
On his way he saw many Yautja he had seen in the plaza around their homes, continuing their chores or enjoying the sun at from the protection of their homes. Many of the older females ignored him and gave him challenging stares. Sotch realized they probably wanted to leave this dust ball as well but were trapped here. The only way they could leave is if they chose to become a slave, or their family was highly honored so that they would allow a female to hunt.
Sotch met up with a friend of his, named Tisk who would also accompany him and Shak on their journey to become Youngbloods. He was stronger than Sotch but not as much as Shak. His only problem was that he lacked precision, a very important Yautja skill.
“Have you seen my brother anywhere,” Sotch asked, “He is suppose to come with us.”
“I haven’t looked, I was preparing for our hunting trip,” Tisk admitted.
“Well we must find him, for the sake of his honor, my brother, before the hunters come.”
“Well I have nothing to do for the rest of our stay here,” He replied, “I will walk north; you keep walking south until we meet.”
“May our spears plunge far.”
“May our spears plunge far,” replied Sotch.
They turned and walked opposite directions, Sotch headed south making his way from the bigger houses back down to smaller houses. He looked around. There was a small landslide but if a Yautja had been crushed by it he could have lifted himself out.
Also around were small dust devils but nothing very serious. This was obviously a poorer part of Sotch’s village. Yautja here would listen to their dominant female without question. Dominant female at the time was an older Yautja named Coal-Foot since only elders have two part names. She had hunted so many times she was bored of it. Sotch would never get bored with the hunt. She was probably only uninterested because she was female, Sotch thought.
Sotch refused to believe the female was tougher than him, ignoring the fact she could kill him with her bare hands anytime she liked. And there would no point in challenging her, Sotch thought, since he would be leaving.
The young Yautja started making his way east until he got to “paths” as the Yautja of Shath-Yer called them. They were small pathways that led to the market, plaza, small female training classes, and even waste pits. Shak would have taken a path instead of continuing on down the perimeter. Sotch headed to the plaza. He could ask there if his brother had been seen. He could then continue until he found Tisk. Then head to the west to find the well. Or head west to find death.
When he got there he asked around. Not many were at the plaza because of the heat, but apparently Shak hadn’t been to the plaza so it didn’t matter. Sotch started to lose hope. His brother had left his hut and Sotch knew that, and he might as well search all the locations. He would not leave without his kin. And if he did not leave he would fail in hunting and be considered one without honor. Sotch would be executed by his piers.
He gave up on the plaza and headed north to meet Tisk. He glanced briefly at the sky. It was almost noon. The hunters would arrive soon. Sotch needed to find Shak quickly.
His village was at a slight angle so it was tougher going north since it was uphill. He worked his muscled legs and pushed on, going up at a slow pace. He couldn’t escape the burning suns pushed down on his body. He realized that if he went to the well, which there would be no point in doing, he would die from the heat. He couldn’t help feeling selfish. He didn’t need his brother. Tisk could hunt with him.
Then the young Yautja thought about what he was saying. Shak was his kin. He wouldn’t believe he was dead, and he would find him. It would be the honorable way.