Synergy - June 1998
Predator: Prey - ShadowCat
T'SsitRahl - ShadowCat
(page 8/15)

Predator: Prey

The planet beneath them seemed ripe for study. The presence of free oxygen in the atmosphere indicated the existence of life and this was obvious in the lush green forests covering much of the land area assigned to the group. There was no sign of civilisation so the planet had been cleared for study. Images of the terrain below flashed across their screens as their small scout vessel descended towards the planet's surface. Their first choice of landing site was near the coast of the smaller continent. The rampant forest grew almost to the edge of the sea but there were small clearings dotted about and the scout craft settled gently into one of these, startling a flock of brightly coloured birds which flew away squawking noisily. The atmosphere detected as non-hostile so the ramp was lowered and the scientists descended The forest was quiet about them but the air was fresh and clean, a vast change from the canned recycled air on the ship. The scientists split up into teams some staying with the ship unpacking cages into the clearing. The remaining teams headed into the forest armed with guns and nets.

T'ssitRahl paused testing the air. Prey was close. She crept warily along the branch. Prey was that way! Reaching the end of her branch she leapt gracefully to another, her claws catching on the rough bark. The thick branches provided an aerial pathway that the Folk's hunters exploited easily. The smell of the prey leading her on; T'ssitRahl ran along the branches, her tail aiding her balance. Prey was close. Prey was ... There! She stopped, crouched on the branch Below the horn-head continued to crop the grass, unaware of the hunter crouched above it. T'ssitRahl prepared to spring then stopped as a low hum crept through the air. The horn-head raised its head, ready to flee as the volume increased. A flock of red flappers broke from the trees to T'ssitRahl's right and flew over their heads, squawking in fright. The horn-head bolted with them. Irritated T'ssitRahl watched them go. The annoying hum had stopped but she had lost her prey because of it. She sniffed the air, hoping for a new prey. The familiar prey smells were overlain with the acrid taint of fear. She would get no prey until they settled down again. Curious she headed east, towards what had startled the flappers. There was a new smell that way, one she had not smelt before. It had caused the loss of her prey, perhaps it could be prey itself.