We'll just get down to it this morning. I became a grandmother this week and I'm going to hang with my little grand daughter, JJ. I have to say, if you want to see two tough, gruff men turn into marshmallows, hand them a baby girl.
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***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
They dropped belly down and waited for the Kori patrol to approach. Jarod glanced at the canopy where wire was strung and ready to be released.
He twisted, looking over his shoulder, counting his force. They were fewer in number, a quarter of the size of the unit coming up the road and a disadvantage. He’d no choice. With the Kori troops digging in and occupying the city, the Kalos numbers would only continue to shrink. The flooding season provided a brief respite, one his people needed for survival and one he’d use to his advantage.
Sometimes it seemed it never stopped. The killing, the slaughter. He wished he could take a break, rest from his responsibilities, but if he did his people would die.
There were a lot of things he’d rather be doing.
He should be preparing for Fourth night. His bride waited and tonight it would be final. She’d waited patiently for him and had been faithful for over twenty years. She deserved a husband who was all there for her, one who took the day to prepare the way she was now as his grandfather had for his grandmother. But it was a different world and she’d have to settle for him as he was. Today his focus had to be on their survival. Tonight it would be on her.
Jarod shifted on his belly and motioned the troops back into the jungle to wait. They wouldn’t be long. He’d taken out a Kori patrol that should have returned before now. The Butcher would soon be on the road, searching for them.
The Butcher may be savage as an enemy, but he was fiercely loyal to his men and accounted for all of the soldiers under his command, paying back every death threefold on the Kalos. He’d no mercy. Female soldiers were targeted as quickly as the males and he didn’t stop or hesitate to destroy on sight.
If Jarod could give his wife one gift, it would be to remove that man from their world. One less killer, one more day without running. She deserved more, but this he could give her.
The Butcher had a nose for tactics and didn’t miss much. It was almost impossible to escape when the Butcher caught scent and began to track. Many warriors had given their lives to lay down false paths and lead him off from the main group. It was a good reason to stay out of his perimeter. But this time, Jarod wanted him to come. This time he had a chance to draw him and finally destroy him and stop some of the slaughter of Kalos.
A growling echoed from the distance, sounds of the monster as he rose from his den. The corner of Jarod’s mouth curled. It would end today. The loss would weaken the Kori and take from them the one thing that gave them strength. Will.
Like a finely tuned timepiece the Butcher bared his teeth. The jungle hovers poured down the road side by side in pairs. Thin, one-man vehicles, open on the top. The hover technology, made them almost silent, except for the whoosh of the blades that created the cushion of air they glided on.
Almost silent. Jarod glanced up again eyeing the hives. A little farther. He braced himself and whistled like a Targo bird, a short shrill blast followed by choppy chirps. A sound so common, the Kori wouldn’t think twice. Several of Jarod’s men moved into position in response.
Jarod scanned the convoy. Not a one looked like the Butcher. That was odd. He tipped his head and counted the vehicles. The Butcher’s command vehicle was missing. Something wasn’t right. Where was the bastard? It was too late to stop the attack. He balled his fists. Retribution would come. More Kalos would die.
Several warriors nodded and rolled bark balls soaked in tree pitch to the edge of the embankment, waiting to be lit and sent them down the slope. The balls would release a greasy back smoke, driving the aêrscorpions in the direction Jarod desired. Toward the enemy.
His people had to adapt to the hostile planet and bend nature to suit their needs, for survival as much as war. The Kori could easily overpower them with their technologies, but they could never defeat nature or the planet.
Above, over a hundred hives hung suspended from dry vines. The drones were passive by themselves, moving from plant to plant, pollinating crops and flowers. But when the hive was threatened, they could be relentless in searching out and destroying. Now awake, they hummed with activity. The Kalos warriors had smoked the scorp’s hives, lulling them to sleep, before moving each nest and carefully placing it over the main route into the outer encampment.
The queens were retrieved, ground to a pulp and liberally spread across the ground below, right in the path of the approaching vehicles. The smell of the crushed queens would whip the entomos into a frenzy.
High tech, the hovers did have their weaknesses and Jarod intended to exploit them. The efficient engines gave off the slightest of vibrations. A sound impossible to hear with humanoid ears, but not by scorps.
He eyed the hives. As predicted, large insects flowed from the bottoms of the hives, spiraling around. Confused, they tried to locate lost pheromone trails they used to navigate their territory; instead they encountered the smell of their queens in distress and went instantly on the defense.
Jarod smiled. He missed the Butcher but he could still wound him. This loss, this attack would hurt.
Each scorpion was the size of a hand and had a stinger at least two inches in length, capable of multiple attacks. Alone, each attack burned like acid, excruciatingly painful and in mass, they were usually fatal.
A couple of drones, dove towards the convoy and were shot from the air with lazr’. Two were easy to dispatch, the treat he’d planned, wouldn’t be. More aêrscorpions swarmed from the hives, dropping towards the hovers. Soldiers fired and missed. Two of the entomos landed on one of the Kori soldiers, punching their stingers into his flesh as if it were no thinner than tissue.
The soldier screamed and fell off his vehicle. The hover slid into a tree, flipping on its side. The giant roatary blade continued to spin, spitting dust and debris all around.
Jarod nodded to a man next to him. At first glance the soldier could easily be mistaken for Kori. A process that had taken the man overnight to achieve and was the result of sitting in a special bath where a ground root had soaked for days. It took hours of repeatedly submerging himself, to acquire the desired dusky skin color of the enemy. His warrior’s braid had been chopped off, something he’d grown from birth, and his remaining hair was dyed a deep black.
He wore a Kori uniform pillaged from one of the dead soldiers they’d caught in their ambush earlier. Five others who duplicated the same disguise, backed away from where Jarod and his squad watched.
They’d cut across the flanks, staying in the thicker vegetation, triggering the wire and dropping the hives like bombs on the unsuspecting Kori.
Jarod eyed the hives then refocused on the road. The convoy had come to a stop to recover the wounded soldier.
The levees had to be destroyed. The flooding had been the only reason the soldiers couldn’t establish a more solid base. Now that the levees were nearly complete, the Kori would be able to move and house larger forces in the area. In mass, the Kori would wipe the clans from the surface of the planet.
The trap had a simple trip-wire on the ground that would release the cable above, sending it slicing across the canopy.
The open hovers wouldn’t stand a chance against the attack, the endoscorps were one of the fastest creatures on the planet and would chase the manned vehicles for miles. There’d be no escape for the Butcher’s unit. They’d radio for help, drawing most of the armed men away from the levees. Hopefully the distraction would last long enough for his men to get in and out.
Jarod raised his hand and waved. The wire cut loose, and hives dropped to the ground, spilling a horde of angry entomos.
The bark balls were lit and the flaming missiles rolled down the slope, leaving trails of black smog like tails behind them. The horde of entomos rushed towards the Kori, pushed by the black wall of smoke.
The disguised soldiers would get past the skeletal security left behind, and deeper into the levees where they’d set fire to the new construction. They didn’t have to burn it to the ground, just damage it enough to keep it from being completed for a couple of weeks. If all went as planned, they’d all be back for Fourth night celebrations tonight.
Jarod closed his eyes and thanked the gods; Tesza was safe at camp waiting for him, not witness to the deeds of this day and the destruction he’d unleashed. No woman should witness the ugliness of war. She was the biggest reason he fought so hard. He wanted to give her and his children the gift of a world without war.