Friday, September 7, 2007

A Lost City

It had been too long ago to even recall the time. I was on Naboo with a few frequent allies, doing who knows what. I had been practicing training a native creature there called a peko peko during some downtime. I had recently discovered a love for creatures. Not just admiring them, but training them, raising them. Scruffy was a good companion pet, but I had been looking for something that could hunt with me; protect me and the ones I love.

It was then I spotted a lonely female plains tusk cat kitten taking cover beneath the shade of a tree. Her mother was no where to be found, perhaps having fell victim to a hunter or an even larger, hungrier predator. I let the peko peko wander off and turned hopeful eyes toward the tiny cat.

Her eyes were already turned toward me in this first moment of a relationship that had nothing to do with owner and pet, but two friends that could not, and should not, be separated. I named her Amber for her eyes were that color.

As I went, so too did Amber. She was the best friend anyone could hope for.

And now, thanks to the bio-engineering of Cyra, the old girl has been given new life and new strength. An agreeable, eager huntress, Amber took quickly to her new strength and skills imparted upon her through an expensive and effective incubation process that literally reformed her at the lowest genetic level. You'll recall I refer to this as Mad Science.

Amber and I set out on another adventure, allowing our whims to take us where they may. And where they took us was more amazing then anything we could have imagined.

The planet was Talus, one of the planets in the Corellian system. We were following sludge panther trackings when we came upon a small town.

"It's not on the chart", I said, not expecting Amber to understand as she lay curled in the passenger seat of my flash speeder. She inclined her head and then sat upright, sniffing the warm air.

A click of a button and the terrain map click-hissed shut. I disengaged the speeder and reached behind the seat for my Coynite Disruptor. It was charged.

"C'mon girl. Let's go. Something's not right."

It wasn't the fact that it wasn't on the map as much as it was that it was dark and quiet. The sun was well into it's setting cycle and not a single light had come on in the town. Amber padded next to me, making not even the slightest sound. Such a good girl.

The sludge panther tracks were still here, fresher then before. I knelt down to take a closer look; to see if another trail could be found.

It happened suddenly. We were swarmed. Sludge panthers flanked us, surrounded us. Amber leapt to the defense while I broke open a toxic gas pack. The Coynite Disruptor spat it's golden blasts, knocking a panther back and to it's side. Amber locked jaws with another. I jammed a pet stim into her hind quarters, lighting her up with enough adrenaline to down her opponent.

We were taken by suprise, but fought our way to safety and were fortunate to have all our parts with us.

Scratch that. My holo-camera was crunched.

"Cyra will never believe us now, Amber." She seemed to grin. "Now then, where did they come from. There's no cover here besides..."

The town itself. I snuck in for a closer look, giving Amber the hand gesture for her to stay back. Peeking around one of the larger buildings and staying downwind, I looked through to the center of the town. And my suspicions were confirmed.

The town had been overrun by sludge panthers, some of them twice the size of any I had ever heard about. If there were three, there were thirty. I marvelled at how easily they were able to flank not only me, but Amber too.

Where are the people that lived here? Did the panthers kill them? Not likely. Not all of them.

We did not come all that way to come home without a proper tale to tell and something to show for it. I motioned for Amber to come closer and we watched and studied, and watched more. They were amazing creatures, natural hunters.

"You're going to do that, Amber. I'm going to teach you how to flank like that. What do you say, girl?" I kept quiet and hidden as I studied. Amber gnawed on some meat snacks as her best friend kept watch through the night, making notes in a datapad.

We made it as far as the starport when the night was through. Both Amber and I were exhausted from our ordeal. We curled together on an Arrival Area couch and drifted off. Amber had learned her new skills, and I had a mysterious city that I dreamt of. Will I ever know what happened there?

I thought of the city and panthers as we fished the next day. Amber stayed with me the entire time, not complaining or fidgeting once.

It's what makes her such a good friend. We can have the wildest adventures in mysterious cities as easily as we can have a lazy fishing trip.

It is the company you keep, they say.

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