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[GZG] [GZG Fiction] The Watcher 3 of 4 - The Hunt

From: <Beth.Fulton@c...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 22:22:00 +1100
Subject: [GZG] [GZG Fiction] The Watcher 3 of 4 - The Hunt

Keeping low and away from the light, she deactivated her Rns'krans, to
conserve it in case she needed it later. To help her stay hidden she
jostled a depression in the sand. From her new position she concentrated
on the Huu'Mon the toovo had marked out as being on its team. She
studied in each turn. First her main target, her toovo. No taller than
her, but much thinner this Huu'Mon wore a small dark covering around its
smooth head. The lack of ridges still as odd looking as the first time
she saw a Huu'Mon. It also wore some kind of mask over its mandibles,
most likely to aid in respiration, as it clearly lacked any respiratory
tendrils to help in the thin atmosphere. She had initially thought that
the orifice and flaps on the side of its head may have had this role,
they clearly had a sensory role and she had pegged them as the location
of chemosensory pits lining a respiratory canal. This was during the
mission on Zh'Kra'Vna'Tin'Tau, where they had first encountered
bare-headed Huu'Mon. She changed her mind on the mission to extract
captured personnel on Zh'Kra'Vak'Kaa. During that operation she had
ascertained early on that the pits were auditory sensors. This had been
confirmed from a subsequent report on the make-up of the Huu'Mon
tu'kro'len they had brought back with them. 

Si'Buk then switched her attention to the other Huu'Mon around her
toovo. The first was shorter, broader than both the toovo and Si'Buk.
The small patch of krans visible between its armour and other coverings
showing it to be a member of the palest Do'. The toovo was of the
darkest hue, suggesting this Kon was mixed. Si'Buk tensed, should she
discard her toovo as another kaa'zes? Watching them pull their equipment
together Si'Buk judged them as Huu'Mon'Kra'Bna making their integration
of hue acceptable. She could feel the cool tingle of Ro'Kah leaking into
her system, her sisu prickling. Kra'Bna on Kra'Bna this would be a good
hunt, she had chosen her toovo well.

The last of the patrol members was again about her height. Also clothed
in dark armour, this Huu'Mon had pale krans with fine spots. Si'Buk had
noted that Huu'Mon with this hue often gained more spots with increased
exposure to direct primary star-light. Some Kra'Vak developed darker
stripers under extreme exposure to high levels of ruozat, but this was
fairly uncommon. 

When the patrol set off she gave them some distance and then dropped in
behind them. They engaged their own Ro'ns'krans. Not as effective as her
Rns'krans, the shifting armour made it hard but not impossible to pick
out the Huu'Mon. Tasting the wind she could locate their general
location and then looking carefully she could pick them out by the hazy
lag in the lower peak their suits left, if the Huu'Mon moved quickly.
More effective at hiding them from Kra'Vak than she suspected the Doo's
armour was at hiding the Kra'Vak from the Huu'Mon, but not as good as
the Rns'krans.

She was impressed by their discipline. They were moving quickly in loose
order. They maintained silence, passing messages by signaling with susi
rather than scent or sound. Si'Buk was fairly certain that Huu'Mon did
not typically use scent, but they were usually as raucous as Das'ban.
She had noticed that most humans used sound carriers in their head
covers, but these Huu'Mon did not. She suspected they knew the whisper
of sound caused by speaking to the sound carrier gave their position
away to the top Kra'Bna operatives. As they pushed on, a sho then
another sho peeled off, leaving only the toovo and its keo'Kon. 

Si'Buk moved round to their flank, putting herself between them and the
main body of the Huu'Mon, so that it would be harder to notice her
tracks in the sand. They were stopping, dropping low to scan around
before moving on. She began watching them less as Vo and more as siau,
judging if they would be of sufficient grade to enter a Kra'Bna unit. 

They had covered another rivituonvao-tu when she realised they must have
detected her, they had slowly swung her way, pinching her between them
and the bulk of the Huu'Mon. Si'Buk stopped, tasting the air and
preparing for a fight. With little other choice she reactivated her
Rns'krans. The Huu'Mon froze, the toovo scanning the area, turning its
head slowly. She could see the bodies of the Huu'Mon rising, flushing
like she had seen them do when stressed. She had her answer for the
Kra'Bna'Kon'Ak, the Huu'Mon could detect Kra'Vak unless they used the
Rns'krans. In previous vaosh that would have been sufficient and she
would have slipped away. It was not enough this time, she wanted to test
these Huu'Mon'Kra'Bna.

Moving across the front of the Huu'Mon patrol she moved out into the
sand away from the bulk of the Huu'Mon. She had hoped they would detect
her tracks and follow her out, but they did not seem to have picked them
up. Taking a risk she cancelled her Rns'krans. Kneeling just behind a
small dune she left herself partially exposed, waiting to see if they
had detected her again and begun following, or had fallen back to the
Huu'Mon'Kon and called in greater support. 

Straining Si'Buk tried to pick the Huu'Mon out from the background. They
were good, she couldn't see them. She knew they were there; she could
taste them on the wind. The toovo was almost directly ahead, each of the
others to its flanks. Turning her head slowly she was using the gradient
in their scent to refine her estimates of their position when she was
hit high in the torso. The impact of the shot knocking her down the back
of the dune, the rest of the fire tearing up the sand where she had been
kneeling. Rolling to her feet she crouched down behind cover checking
where she had been hit. 

Probing the suit where the shot had gone in. It was damaged. The round
had not penetrated, though the area was tender. She would have to
remember to lead with the other shoulder or they may detect the
distortion in the suit's field. 

Si'Buk reactivated the Rns'krans. Staying low against the sand, she
began looping off down the line of the dunes, keeping below the crest
and her damaged side angled so it pointed off into the dark steppe. She
kept on for shvishonrio-tu, putting distance between her and the Huu'Mon
patrol. She could hear them calling to each other now, short barks, not
loud, but loud enough that they carried to her on the thin Martian air. 

Coming around the end of the dunes she turned back trying to come in
behind the Huu'Mon. Then she picked up another noise. The whine of one
of the Huu'Mon automated To'Vo and the thwump of one of their air tanks.
The Huu'Mon had a much wider ranger of propulsion types than the modern
Kra'Vak'Kon, who relied mainly on grav. Si'Buk found it amusingly
quaint. Riv'Doosh ago, before the Va'Va'Va'Va'Do'An had been brought in
from the birthing lands, Kra'Vak too had used such a wide variety of
technologies. This had been before they had mastered grav technology,
now they used little else. They were developing more efficient means of
travel, trying to master Za'Va'Sku micro-jump technology, but for now
grav was their dependable mainstay.

She dropped to the sand and buried her damaged shoulder amongst the
grit, pebbles and smallest tussocks. Lying very still she waited for the
To'Vo to pass over. It was meticulous as only the purely mechanical can
be. Si'Buk tasted the air. The dirt below her was the strongest
signature, but she could detect the uninteresting tang of the To'Vo,
which was hovering overhead, but she could still make out the scents of
the Huu'Mon back along the dunes. They had not followed her. If she were
right they had stopped where she had last seen them. That could only
mean one thing. She tensed, sealing her eyes and tendrils. 

She felt the thud through the dirt before the percussion wave rolled
over her. The To'Vo must have detected some of her trail along the dune,
but not all of it. The Huu'Mon air tank had blasted where they thought
she had gone to ground and the area around that. As was the way of elite
Kra'Bna, she had erred on the side of caution, moving out into the grit
and pebble field rather than staying in the sands. 

Using support from other De'Tu'Kon rather than slipping into Ro'Kah and
charging in. Impressive, these Huu'Mon were worthy toovo. The last
doonvaosh had shown the Huu'Mon, at least some Huu'Mon, could use
De'Tu'Kon well, fight in the open and cities, in the void as well as
on-world. Their void ships were often not as advanced as the Zhs'Kek of
the Kra'Vaka'Kia'Kon, but they still challenged them. This was truer
on-world, where Huu'Mon numbers could make up for much of whatever gap
in technology existed.

The air tank stayed in the area for many riosh, circling, searching with
the Huu'Mon and To'Vo. She lay there as they crossed overhead or walked
within tu of her, ignoring the incessant vibration in her collar telling
her the suit could fail. She risked wriggling her susi and desusi, so
they would be ready should she need to spring up and getting moving

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