(This is an update of a previous chapter.)
There was a sickening thud as the bone sculptor’s workspace was intruded upon by the severed head of a phymate. The tribesman gazed up at the grey stranger who had called himself Maverick. “Why did strange thing drop phymate head on the one that crafts from bone?”
From the array of bones that decorated the leopard’s face Maverick knew that this Gapachu came from the same clan as Incisor, Hacia Abajo if he got it right. Not that he cared much. Hell, he couldn’t pronounce half the English dictionary.
“I want to buy your services.” Maverick said without flinching at the array of shape bone tools and weapons that lay around the panther’s workspace. “I heard you could make me something. I will trade you the head for a knife.”
The bone smith admired the phymate’s long head that had yet to be skinned. The creature’s teeth were sharp but were ill suited but the skul could have possibilities, as would the meat.
“Go away.” The bone smith growled.
“Come on man.” Maverick leaned forward and slapped on the phymate’s hide. “It’s got some good meat on it. I don’t want anything special, just something that won’t break. I bet you could make a good knife with your eyes closed.”
Maverick tapped on the head again and displayed a sensible smile. “Come on, lunch is right here.”
From the Gapachu’s large eyes and the growl that came from his stomach Maverick could see that he was winning the bone smith over.
Incisor had fallen for the ruse and had agreed to give over the phymate’s head to her partner provided that he would continue to help her move her kills back to the village.
The Gapachu never knew what took her, with a little explaining Maverick had turned her from a stalker into a suitable business partner.
With a few more days of pressuring and negotiating Incisor would see Maverick as a reliable source of food and protect him for her own selfish interests. As Maverick’s goal.
When given the opportunity to eat only once and given a stable job, most people with a brain chose the job.
The problem was that Maverick was working with a handicap. Not only was he a different species and was seen with mistrust, but he already had a powerful number of enemies.
With great pain the tribe’s sculptor of bone pushed the phymate’s head back. “No.”
Maverick closed his eyes. It was near midnight and though he was not tired and could see in the dark due to his body’s gifts, he felt an wave of exhaustion hit. “Let me guess, you don’t want to piss off the shaman or he’ll curse you.”
The sculptor went back to work and tried to ignore his undisciplined stomach. “Yes.”
The Hacia Abajo shaman had openly called for Maverick’s blood and it was unwise to anger such a holy man.
Maverick had gone to five craftsmen from the different tribes with the same result. Nobody wanted to put their neck out.
Damn, Maverick hated cold calling. It was a waste of energy. He couldn’t see how those guys from Foxtell could stomach it.
A sigh escaped Maverick as he picked up the severed head, “Well, thanks anyway.” before Maverick moved on he turned to the sculptor. “You wouldn’t know anyone…”
“No.” The sculptor interrupted before Maverick could finish.
As he left Maverick gave the sculptor the finger and carried his rotting head out.
From their trip back Incisor had let Maverick in on the circumstances of the clans.
The Cali had grown powerful since the rise of the warchiefs, and with the aid of their so called blessed weapons, the tribe of cannibals and death worshippers had been expanding their territory in all directions.
It seemed like a while back this bastard called T’Chull got boner for enslaving Scratch-Ear’s ass-wipe clan, and started a huge hostile take over by killing males and making the largest harem in history.
From the description it was clear that T’Chull had the fire lance. If this was a geeky RPG than this T’Chull was going to be a pain in the ass.
There was no way Maverick was going to be able to talk him into forking over the fucking toy that turned him into a king.
“I hate this.” Maverick groaned.
Before the rise of the Cali, the Gapachu had started off as solitary hunters with little ties to anything but themselves.
There were clan structures depending on what territory you were born in, but nothing larger than small families. Sydney’s doll accessory’s had changed all of that.
With the Cali now on the offensive and their territory invaded, the Gapachu had been forced to gather and form an alliance, a practical idea that many clans refused.
Maverick had commented that there was no leadership but this was not so. The Gapachu had craftsmen, witch doctors, and various other individuals that made it their business to connect with fellow tribesmen.
These were lone wolves, rouges who took care of number one.
Maverick could have respected this except for being rouges, they seemed to see him as a common enough enemy.
Unable to get into the trees above while carrying his phymate head, Maverick was forced to walk to his next area. His map indicated that there were two more shops located in the territory that could be of use.
The growl from the shadows caused Maverick to freeze in his tracks.
From out of a patch of wild ferns two young Gapachu skulked towards Maverick. One, a young male with a set of bone earrings and a grin on his face.
The other was alert and staring at Maverick like a fat man at a buffet table.
“Hey Grey thing. Care to share phymate head.” The smiling one asked in a manner that was brash and undisciplined.
Maverick kept his smile up. It didn’t take a brain to see that the neighbour kids were about to give Maverick a detailed look into how Gapachu liked to rob one another.
But unlike the thieves of his would that simply held a gun or knife to your person, these cats probably ate you.
Having just realised this Maverick decided to see if he could bluff his way out. “I would like to share. But you see. That Burned-One, she’s expecting this and you don’t want to get me in trouble do you?”
The scowling Gapachu bared its teeth. “Talk. The thing just talks.” Something about this cat told Maverick he wasn’t much of a talker.
“Well, fuck.” Maverick said.
The warning signs were there for anyone that had survived high school. These two didn’t care about authority, they came out here to prove something, most likely to themselves.
In the case of a mugging there are four things that could happen.
A. You don’t give the muggers what they wanted and they stabbed your ass.
B. You carried a bigger weapon and you duelled it out.
C. You gave the mugger what he wanted and everyone is happy.
Being the type of person who generally liked his insides on his insides plan A was out.
Situation B would have been a possibility if Maverick was carrying an elephant gun and was standing a few yards away and the asshole cats were in a steel cage.
Therefore, out of his self interests Maverick decided that situation C promoted the best results.
Without a moment more of thought, Maverick hurled his severed head into a bush that was close enough to the pair of Gapachu to call it a promising distraction.
The two Gapachu blinked in surprise. They had expected a fight, a show of force by this thing that towered above them and had the strength to lift an adult phymate.
Now hiding behind the grin the Gapachu with earrings didn’t bother to turn his head towards the phymate head, his hungry eyes were locked on Maverick. “Grey thing looks much tastier.” The smiling Gapachu’s said.
The two Gapachu drew themselves closer to the tense teenager and suddenly Maverick felt his shoulders drop. Maverick saw that this was a classic case of situation D.
Situation D was when the mugger takes your things and then shoots you for no reason than he is a dick. It was one of those cases where you knew it was a possibility but you didn’t want to think about it.
“Ha.” Maverick lowered his head and knew what was to come. He looked up and an expression of shock and horror filled his face. “What the fucking hell is that?” He pointed to an area behind the two young cats.
Both Gapachu turned their heads by instinct, what they discovered was nothing but darkness. By the time they turned their heads back Maverick was already in full sprint.
There was no laugh under Maverick’s breath as he ran through the greenery, perhaps some what surprised that the two idiots had fallen for the oldest trick in the book.
It might have been the paranoia speaking but those two had been after him the moment he returned with the phymate.
There was no question that Maverick was being watched, he gathered that by the amount of coloured dots that were on his map.
Speaking of the map a set of new coloured dots were racing towards him, both of them were as read as blood and were closing the gap.
There was no noise, nothing like in those documentaries where the large cat snarls or hisses as they feed of their prey’s fear. Though they were young the Gapachu that threatened him were professional and taught how to hunt, the only thing making noise in the whole village was Maverick.
Escape scenarios played out, going up a tree, running down some hole. None of it would work.
From the map the furry bastards were gaining fast, and Maverick imagined a pair of black missiles flying towards his ass.
Hoping that history would repeat itself Maverick grabbed the trunk of a tree and slingshot his way to a ninety degree turn.
Too skilled and limber, the Gapachu adjusted and changed course accordingly.
The next thing Maverick knew the scowling cat’s had tackled him to the ground.
To Maverick’s triumph, the chase had lasted longer than he thought it would.
The urge to get onto his feet and run like hell returned but was denied to Maverick as the scowling cat sat upon Maverick’s chest and stared down at him like any other feline that wanted to use him as a seat.
The panther seemed to drink Maverick’s fear, the son of a bitch looked as if he had just shot himself up with dope.
This intense feeling between hunter and hunted did not last long, however, as the alien’s eyes lowered so now he was now staring directly at Maverick’s jugular.
This was it, the end.
There was no way that a miser like Sydney was going to put Maverick’s consciousness inside another puppet and screaming for help was not going to accomplish anything. With those two options depleted there was only a bitter acceptance.
‘Well. I’ve already died once.‘ But as Maverick recalled, the experience had sucked balls. He had just switched a misinformed vigilante for a hungry Snagglepuss.
There were no speeches or taunts, the scowling cat leaned back as if her really needed the wind up to rip out Maverick’s jugular.
Before Maverick could close his eyes, something fell from the trees.
The air was ripped from the teenager’s lungs as a second Gapachu collided with the smiling predator that was already on his chest.
Once again Maverick was not enjoying the sensation of pain that flowed through him, he didn’t know if his current body had ribs but it definitely felt like he broke a few.
Screams and howls ensured as the two Gapachu fought each other as if they were no better than alley cats fighting over a kill. They swiped each other with their claws, drawing pathways where warm blood fell to the ground.
Not wanting to question his luck Maverick crawled through the grass and dirt.
Maverick turned his head back and was able to see his rescuer swipe her claws across the mugger’s nose. It was Incisor.
Thank fuck. The teenager wanted to scream but things turned sour as that grinning bastard decided to ge in on the action and suddenly Mavericks protector was dealing with two rivals.
Run asshole. Maverick’s little devil said and it sound like some good advice.
Having died along with his body and broken heart, Maverick’s moral side had died, what took its place was a cynical bastard who had been pushed too far. And how long are you going to last? Now birth some balls and show these fuckers how us Westies fuck things up.
Against his better judgement Maverick got on his knees and tried for a weapon.
Flowers? Pretty but no.
Then he spotted a fallen log and memories of the phymate returned. “Fuck you, log crock.” Maverick said to himself, making no sense even to his ears.
Incisor was having her own problems and cursed herself for interfering.
“You interrupt the hunt.” The Gapachu with a new set of bloody scars snarled.
Incisor had nothing to say to this. Already the wounds on her chest and arms were biting her. What had she been thinking?
The second Gapachu, most likely this ones younger sibling swiped at Incisor, but she leapt back.
If this was one on one Incisor still would have had trouble. These were males, savage and larger. She should run but turning her back on either of these two would be a risk.
The ground under her feet shook but she couldn’t be distracted right now.
The other two Gapachu advanced upon the female and stopped. They turned their heads upwards and Incisor could see their eyes go wide in shock and their ears pull back.
Taking a wager the males wouldn’t tackle her Incisor turned her head back.
Maverick could see himself having a hernia as he took a hesitant step forward, he made shallow breaths as he stared at all three scared kitty cats.
The log he now held over his head must have weighed more than his mom’s BMW.
“Maverick Smash.” Maverick screamed before he threw the log at the male cats.
Incisor listened to instincts and dove to the ground, her belly rubbing against the grass.
The two males ran from the oncoming log but weren’t fast enough.
Maverick punched his fist as he heard the roar of pain and the crunch of bone. Super strength might not have been at the top of super powers he wanted, but it was damn sweet.
He closed his eyes to enjoy the moment. Through the map he noticed that one of the two real dots representing those two asshole cats vanished.
“Nice.” He said savouring the moment.
The he noticed that almost every single green dot in the area turned blood red. “Fuck.” Maverick moaned.