A snippet

Still working on the editing pass through Shiva’s Whisper.  Here’s another snippet

Sheshak brooded in the quarters the humans assigned to him.  He had a proper chair, at least and the sleeping platform would hold him should he decide to sleep–thank the humans for that, but everything else, everything, was wrong.  The light was too dim and red.  The air too thick, rich, and chill.  Two deep breaths and his head would swim.  And the smell, like rotten kalaka.  Humans found the scent pleasant but only years of experience with strangers kept Sheshak from expressing revolt.

He returned his attention to the reader before him, the Book of Jekat, by Shekha the Old.

“There are beings who hunt, and beings who are hunted,” Shekha had written. “The ones who are hunted are prey, the lawful prey of the Eres.  So, too, are those who hunt if the Eres is strong enough, swift enough, clever enough to hunt them.  These are the lawful prey of the Eres, for the Eres truly are those who hunt.

“But the Eres are more than just those who hunt.  They are those who know.  They are those who feel.  They are those who think.

“Eres are not lawful prey of Eres.  Eres do not hunt Eres.  Eres may challenge Eres, but challenge is not hunt.”

Sheshak looked up from the reader.  This he knew from birth.  It lay at the heart of The Way.  Eres do not hunt Eres.

“As a youngling,” Shekha continued, “my Pack Leader told me of the Great Hunt, a hunt across the stars where we would find prey worthy of our mettle.  The Rela with their ferocity, the Deli-sha with their strength, and the Humans with their cunning.”

Sheshak touched tongue to teeth in agreement at those words.  He had heard them in the last Great Hunt.  He still heard them from some.  He sat back and pondered them for a moment.  As leader now of his own pack, the task of guiding them into the future fell to him.  His friendship with Tanaka called in one direction, but the call of blood… He had to be sure.  He read on.

“One day I met the human who would make prey of Eres, the human Yamada.  We had penned him, made him prey in many hunts.  He survived them all.  In time his pack, or as close as humans come to one, recovered him.  Our paths were fated to cross when the ship on which I served took the human ship that carried him.  We sought to hunt the humans.  Instead they hunted us.

“At the last, Yamada stood before me, neither springing as hunter or fleeing as prey.  He spoke to me the words of Jekat.”

Jekat, Sheshak thought.  The “not prey”, but not hunter, exactly either.  They hunt but it is not… Ah, humans were so difficult to comprehend.  He skipped ahead, knowing what he needed to read.

“The humans held me in their pens,” Shekha wrote. “Neither hunting more permitting me to hunt.  I had time to think and I realized, the humans were those that know, those that feel, those that think.  The humans were not lawful prey of Eres.  Once I realized that, it was but a small leap to the Rela and the Deli’sha.  None of those who know, who feel, who think are lawful prey of the Eres.

“It may be that challenge is lawful, but challenge is not hunt.

“This is the way of Jekat.”

“The way of–”

Before Sheshak could complete the sentence, the annunciator buzzer on his door sounded. He shut down the reader and pressed the control that opened the door.

The human female, Coll, stood outside his door.  Sheshak thought he saw wariness in her posture and expression.  Or maybe not.  Human expressions were difficult.

“Captain needs to see you,” she said.

Sheshak rose from the chair. “I follow.”

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