Haix might have noticed them if they had been a little less careful as they moved through the passages, lifting their feet high to avoid disturbing stones and keeping their flames low as not to illuminate more than they needed. Even then, she would not see them emerging from the same tunnel she had taken to reach the pit for she was near a tunnel on the opposite side, her much brighter flashlight aimed at the young sarane that sat far below it. Trying to coax the sarane closer, away from the bag of supplies that he had smelled meat within was taking all of her attention. She was tired, her body aching both from the sarane’s hits before he had been let loose and the digging she had grown unaccustomed to.
The crossbreed might have heard the intruder, its ears much more sensitive to the sounds around it, capable of creating images through nothing more than noise when its eyes could not. Stalker was tired though, curled up and ears drooping, trying to ignore the sounds of both the lizards. Ignoring the sounds of things moving within the mines, whether wind or things more solid, was much easier. It merely tucked its head underneath its fluffy tail, waiting for sleep or the larger lizard’s attention. 94
For all its attempts to ignore the sounds, for all that its fluffy tail muffled and hid them, Stalker could not help but make out a new sound, one different from the voices of the lizards and the whisper of the wind. The sound continued from somewhere behind it, the tail reluctantly moved and its ears twitching as it tried to hear the sounds better. Whatever made the sounds was distant enough not to be an issue, quiet so that the noise not echoing around the room. Slightly annoyed, the crossbreed redoubled its attempts to ignore it, the fluffy tail once again pressed firmly to its head to muffle the new noise. It would be able to ignore the new noise soon, just as it was finally able to tune out the two lizards.
The sarane and the ssashirk had no such issue, each one’s attention focused firmly on the other. The sarane gripped the bag underneath his claws, eyes never drifting from Haix, the weak flame flickering in the tunnel behind her hidden in the bright light of the flashlight that was pointed in his direction. Haix called to him, tried to keep his attention so he would not shred the bag and force her to carry the tools by hand, and to keep him from fleeing around the tunnel for a chase her body might refuse to win. 95
With each of the pit’s current inhabitants thus busy, none of them responded to the low murmurs of the intruder. A slight change in pitch, the voice rising from inaudible to merely a whisper, was not enough as Haix’s demands that sarane stop doing anything paired with the confused squeak and hisses of his were just loud enough to receive a single echo that hid the other voice easily. Stalker tried its best to ignore the newest addition to the sounds, the slight breeze the source was creating moving across its wings. It refused to move, sure that the source would soon stop annoying it, or that it would fall asleep regardless.
The young sarane squeaked and hissed in response to the noises Haix made, confused as to what he should do. That there was meat somewhere beneath his claws, hidden under the thick and bony hide it stood upon was something his nose promised and the growling in his stomach demanded he find. But when he tried to nip at the odd hide beneath his feet, the big lizard who had given him food earlier would snarl and hiss. Why would she give him food earlier and now deny him when he was even hungrier? 96
Haix took a step towards the sarane and he did nothing. He did not so much as tighten his grasp on the bag as she took another, slowly closing the distance with both hands held far apart, noose still dangling from the arm the rest of its slack had been coiled upon. When she was right next to him, ready to bring in her arms and rip the sarane free of the bag even if that meant dropping the flashlight, he squeaked and dug his forehead into the sack as if trying to burrow through it. Unable to be too disappointed that he had not chosen to fight her as she was too tired to care, she managed to work the rope-holding arm under his body and pick him up with only a squeak in protest. It always amazed her how quickly some of the crafted seemed to go from murderous to calm.
Now all was silent, the sarane wiggling a little in her grasp but not squeaking, and she uninterested in making any more calming noises now that she had him. The crossbreed was still trying to ignore everything, finally comfortable enough to fall half-asleep. It was at that moment that the mumbling speaker’s voice rose, loud enough now to produce an echo of its own.
Haix almost dropped the flashlight and the sarane at the sound of the voice, the beam of light darting wildly around the room as she tried to find who had spoken. There was a flash of color as it caught the crossbreed, Stalker’s only response being to curl up even tighter, then it danced around the walls, making the tunnel mouths seem like yawning pits of darkness. The light was not bright enough to make out anything in those tunnels, had failed to illuminate anything else unexpected in the pit, and so Haix shut off the light. “Hallo? Sssteak to ne? Nonsster?” she asked the darkness, waiting for the speaker to flick on their own light. It was unexpected to encounter another miner, though not too unexpected this close to the surface, and she wondered if this one had been here before, had seen the bodies and thought this was a good hunting ground as well.
The sarane in her arms had begun to squirm with more determination after the light shut off, so she increased the pressure of her hold to keep him trapped. There was no response, no sign of the other until she caught a tiny flicking in the darkness across from her, the height suggesting the thing was in a tunnel mouth. “Issa dit,” she warned, hoping the broken words would be enough to dissuade them. The crossbreed had been lying closer to that tunnel, and she did not want the newcomer dropping on it. 98 ((Stalker-32.0 Gala-9.0))
Still no reply, but the light still flickered and danced, so faint that she wondered if her eyes were just making it up. She was about to call out to them again, possible to make the effort to shape the words correctly so that she might see off whoever it was and their pet they called a monster, when the light split in two. The first light was still there, but the new light that sprang from it was sparking and bright, hissing loud enough as it moved for her to hear it. And with it, she got her first glance of the other, of eyes that were made into pits of black by the light unable to illuminate them, of their skin that showed the other to be nothing more than another one of the soft-skins inhabiting the labs.
The sarane squeaked in protest, digging his claws into the scales of her arm, and she loosened her grip a little. She just about to call the the crossbreed and switch on her light as the sparking light suddenly leapt into the air, then fell straight onto the fluffy heap that Stalker had been, the footsteps of the speaker now echoing loudly. The crossbreed did not scream, but it clicked wildly, springing away from the light that illuminated it towards Haix. 99
The sarane’s eyes had finally adjusted to the dark well enough to make out the flashy crossbreed illuminated by the light, and he fought with such ferocity that Haix lost her grip, her flashlight holding hand bashing uselessly into her other arm. The sarane took advantage of her failed attempt to climb onto her shoulder and leap into the blackness behind them, wings fluttering madly as he hit a wall of stone. His claws dug desperately at the wall, himself terrified that the crossbreed would attack at any second, and then his front claws found the ledge. WIth a kick of his hind legs, he scrambled into the dubious safety of the tunnel, and started running.
Haix managed to flip on the flashlight in just enough time to see the sarane’s tail disappear above her, and she flashed it back at the crossbreed who had stopped next to her with the faint smell of singed fur. The light was then pointed at the sparking thing to reveal it as a red candle with a ridiculously long wick. Cursing the soft-skin who had thrown such a stupid thing, she tossed on her pack of supplies and climbed after the sarane with a sudden boost of rage inspired adrenaline. 100 ((Haix-178))
Reaching the floor of the tunnel took her almost no time, a fact that she would need to remember upon returning. She would break every handhold to ensure the prey did not escape the pit like her own sarane had, and maybe disguise the entrance to avoid idiotic soft-skins chucking candles onto her creatures. She pulled herself up with a groan of effort before she called Stalker to come up as well, the crossbreed attempting to climb for only a second before she yelled at him to fly and took off down the tunnel. The ground here was hard, no rubble to hold an impression of the sarane’s path, and she would have to find him before the tunnel branched off. Or before he ran into something that would cost her a good seventy-five credits to revive him. The crossbreed landed with a soft whumph behind her, and continued to chase her with a storm of clicks.
Hungry as he was, the little sarane was not in the mood to die. He knew that the weird quiet thing could grab him again, and since the big lizard was not giving him food, it might let the weird thing eat him. He ran as fast as he could, scraping his sides against the invisible walls as he did. 101
Haix’s larger size hampered her progress, forced to hunch over as the ceiling scraped against her hard hat and spikes. The flashlight more than made up for the speed lost by her awkward running position, the light allowing her to clearly see when the tunnel doubled back or turned sharply, a benefit that the sarane hatchling lacked. His pained squeaks came out with a woosh every time he rammed a wall, still trying to blindly flee as the footsteps behind him gradually grew louder. Once he backed away from a particularly hard hit, head shaking as lights that had not been there before danced in his eyes, and charged forward only to hit the same wall a second time.
Haix caught a glimpse of his golden tail slithering around another turn ahead of them, and tried to put on a burst of speed that her legs refused her. Yelling at the sarane now, her frustration grew into alarm as the crossbreed slid past her in the narrow tunnel, speeding off with a storm of clicks after the sarane. She yelled that it better not kill the hatchling, then focused all her energy into running, trying to ignore that her legs were ready to collapse under her. 102
She caught up to them at the first branch in the tunnel, her light dazzling the crossbreed. It had somehow gotten ahead of the sarane and was clicking repeatedly, its wings held open as if their flimsy construction would be enough to stop the hatchling from running past. In the darkness, the clicking had been enough to keep the sarane at bay, just as the sudden woosh of wind above him had first checked his headlong run. Seeing the crossbreed finch from the light, he might have charged it if the light had not forced him to blink rapidly as well.
He was so disoriented that he did not react as the noose slid around his throat, the panting ssashirk too busy catching her breath to do much more than tighten it.
The long red candle, long forgotten, finally had its sparking wick reach its body. At that moment, Haix and her beasts heard a roar that they could only assume belonged to some great and terrible beast of the earth, the ground jumping beneath their feet from the force of it. And, at that same moment, something threw Haix into the air, the ssashirk barely having time to shout before slamming into the ground. 103 ((Stalker-33.0 Gala-10.0))
The first to recover from the impact was the saran hatchling. He had barely missed being crushed beneath Haix as she slammed into the ground, and the rope around his neck had nearly strangled him as she flew through the air. Wheezing, he clawed at the noose, forcing it just wide enough so that he could breath. The second to recover was the crossbreed, though it had not been thrown like the other two. It had flattened itself to the ground as the wave of pressure smacked into it, blind both in light and sound as the two lizards were picked up and tossed overhead like a toy. It had not staggered upright until nearly a minute had passed, and even then kept its wings pinned to its sides. It gave an experimental click, then turned to Haix and the lizard, the light of the dropped flightlight illuminating ahead of them.
When the hatchling saw the crossbreed approaching, he gave his head a shake and ran as fast as he could away. Or rather, he ran as fast as he could for about five feet before the rope tightened, dragging Haix’s arm towards him even as it started choking him again. The crossbreed, seeing the sarane dragging the larger lizard away, clicked once and sprang at them both.
Her body hurt in general, feeling as if the battering the sarane had given her earlier on her back and side had spread out to cover every part of her body. There was a burning in her shoulder, a pain that worsened when she tried to move her arm, and a crushing weight on her back that seemed determined to keep her stuck to the ground. Her arm was being held taut by something she could not make out, something that wheeze and hissed. The air was thick with dust, and the coughing fit it caused only made the thing sitting on her back dig its blade into her arm. And, before she could say anything to the creature on her back, she was reminded of where she was.
She remembered the running, but she was not sure why she was on the ground, nor was she sure why the crossbreed was standing over her rope-bound arm. A tug of that arm brought on a fresh stream of clicks and wheezing, so she coughed at the crossbreed to move.
It did, though she had to give it another command to make it not move towards the choking sarane. 105
She dragged the sarane closer, sputtering a few words of encouragement in hopes of making him struggle less. Once he was close enough, still choking from the rope around his throat, she reached up and to the side to pull the pointed head of the pickaxe from her other shoulder with flare of pain. The shoulder throbbed, her mind imagining she could feel her hot blood seeping over her scales, but then it merely relaxed into the burning feeling of air on an open wound. She rolled onto her side, letting the sack fall off of her back, and slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position.
The sarane was dragged forward with a jerk of her arm that sent new threads of pain through her, and she loosened the noose as his struggles became little more than twitches of his claws. Allowing more of the rope to unravel from her arm, she looked at him then gave him a small push away before digging through the bag. Ignoring her arm the best she could, she kept digging though until she found the trap supplies she had brought and the consumables. The food was placed to one side, and she took a swig of the water skin and swallowed it, dirt and all. 106
She dribbled some of the water on her shoulder, craning her head to better see the wound as she tried to clean it, and laughed at herself, then winced. With the dirt and blood rinsed away, it did not even look an inch deep. A piece of cloth was pulled out, not long enough to tie over her shoulder but enough to be folded a few times and pressed against it. Carefully, she leaned back against one of the tunnel walls, removing her hand only once the wall was close enough to hold the fabric in place. Without any of her usual healing supplies there was not much else she could do, an oversight she intended not to make again once she got back to the kennels.
She called Stalker over to her, the crossbreeds slow approach causing the sarane to pull to the end of the slack, though he did not pull so hard as to begin wheezing again. The crossbreed stood next to, patiently ignoring her touching of its fur and scales, allowing itself to be turned through her gentle prodding. Satisfied that it had not been damaged in whatever had knocked her down and out, she went back to trying to figure out what could have happened. 107
Had she smacked into some low-hanging part of the ceiling as she chased the sarane? She almost was willing to accept that, but how then had the rope gotten around his neck? Straining, she could remember the soft-skin’s stupidity, the hatchling’s panicked retreat that she and the crossbreed had tried to stop, and yes, they had caught up to him. It was foggy, but she could have sworn she recalled seeing Stalker stop the hatchling somehow, that she had slipped the noose around his neck. The helmet, when inspected under the diffused light, was intact, and turning it over in hand brought her no clarity, only aches in her arm. The same hand was lifted to check her head for any damage that might have occurred once the helmet fell off, but it too was unmarred. What had knocked her out then, some new manifestation of the curse?
The crossbreed made no move to approach the sarane, sitting silently by Haix’s side. The hatchling watched both of them with wide eyes that gradually relaxed, the loud rumbling of his belly breaking the silence. He still wanted the food after all that, even more so after all the running. He did not know how to get it though. 108 ((Stalker-34.0 Gala-11.0))
Riku: Oh, I see what you mean now, Nerius. Dang...that’s a good point. How do we get around it? Naturally we will look at the opponent’s stats - which can’t be done IC. Hm.
Jul 11, 2020 14:30:04 GMT -6
Èdan: Not necessarily, there's stuff that can affect a foe's aim in the same turn
Jul 11, 2020 8:51:23 GMT -6
Nerius: The lack of suspense. I slogged through them all for the points, but it got super tedious to write. (This isn't specific to mosca, just a general 'why I'm eh on this tourny'.)
Jul 11, 2020 6:40:13 GMT -6
Nerius: And it's not about "winning", rather I was referring to the disaster that was my attempt at the petite tournament. And how one glance at the stats made me go 'yep, gonna loose this one', and be proven right in every single round. It's not the loss, but..
Jul 11, 2020 6:39:31 GMT -6
Nerius: Yes, the dreaded auto-hit or auto-miss can strike at any time, but what I mean is the only way a mosca is loosing is if there's a un/lucky dice roll.
Jul 11, 2020 6:36:02 GMT -6
Èdan: Don't forget there's moves and abilities that halve dex or affect the opponent's aim. Not to mention, never underestimate the cruelty of a natural 1
Jul 11, 2020 6:16:47 GMT -6
Riku: High dex can miss. I had an unbroken brown who won like three fights by sheer luck of the enemy missing over and over. Lol Besides, not to be cliche, but...it’s not all about winning. You can come in second place and still get 23 pit points.
Jul 11, 2020 0:48:50 GMT -6
Jack: Don't forget to PM me your intent if you're entering! I need to know before training!
Jul 10, 2020 17:29:29 GMT -6
Fanged: I'll be going with a huntress mosca build I have in mind.
Jul 10, 2020 17:12:28 GMT -6
Xentus: I'm the one who's entering fully intending to utilize the 9 dex flighty mosca. Curious to find what might beat it
Jul 10, 2020 17:07:55 GMT -6
Flare: In opinion, I have a kakum baakir set aside for Flare's usage, but I've never worked with it. It'll be a new species to work with. Just because soemone enters a 9 dex creature doesn't 100% mean they'll win.
Jul 10, 2020 17:04:42 GMT -6
Nerius: Would use one myself, but I don't want to waste a re-growth on something I'll never do anything with outside this tournament, especially since there's no guarantee there will be enough people for it to run.
Jul 10, 2020 15:53:52 GMT -6
Nerius: I was looking at the stats of the creatures that could be entered, when it was first announced. Someone enters a flighty mosca? They're going to win. There's nothing that can move faster, and nothing that can survive a hit from wing buff while in flight
Jul 10, 2020 15:52:37 GMT -6
Nerius: I've considered it, as I do want the pit points, but I dunno. My last attempt at tournament rush training uh, did not go well *coughwhiptailcough*. Plus I suspect someone's going to enter a mosca and basically auto-win.
Jul 10, 2020 15:49:29 GMT -6
Riku: Hopefully more people do. Counting myself, I think there’s only 4 right now. 🤔
Jul 9, 2020 17:21:27 GMT -6
Flare: I'm gonna enter
Jul 9, 2020 14:48:47 GMT -6