APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 3 April, 2000



Buji Kern

A dawg trotted along the desert ridge, it's huge compound eyes able to see perfectly in the cloudless night. He stepped lightly, barely leaving paw prints in the sand.

Torn Ear, as he was named by his pack, was hungry. His entire pack was hungry. The bipeds constant fighting was driving away their prey, the springers. If his pack kept pursuing the springer herds they would eventually cross into another packs territory, and there would be battle. Torn Ear wanted to avoid that, as the pack could not afford to lose any strong dawgs.

Torn Ear hated the bipeds, and their huge biped warriors. He didn't understand the relationship between the species, but decided after watching the small bipeds climb into the big bipeds many times, that the small bipeds must be parasites. Yes, that would explain many things. The big bipeds were strange smelling though, and couldn't be hurt by a dawg's teeth. But he had seen them killed by others of their species, or by the little bipeds.

Suddenly Torn Ear smelled many things at the same time- fear, smoke, and death. Bipeds. And a dawg. He lowered himself and moved slowly, flicking his tongue in and out, tasting the air.

Ahead, just before the crest of a ridge, he found the body of a dawg. It was obviously dead, a large bloody hole in it's side. The bipeds must have stung him, Torn Ear thought.

He looked at it closely, and immediately recognized the dawg. It was Nine Claws, from his pack. Torn Ear growled softly. Cautiously, he snuck up to the ridge and looked over. Below, many bipeds were milling around a fire. Two of the large bipeds were standing there, dormant. Torn Ear studied the scene, then left.

Several men huddled around a fire, trying to stay warm in the cold desert night. They were filthy, clothed in ragged old military uniforms or work clothes. All had weapons nearby. One of them rubbed his hand together, and spoke.

"We finally killed that dawg that was stalking around here, Geoff. He won't be bothering anybody anymore."

One of the men grunted. "Good. I hate those dirty beasts. They've been coming closer to our camps than ever before. Well, get some rest. That caravan should be coming thorough here tomorrow morning, and we're going to hit it hard."

Another man, holding a stained mug of cawfee, interrupted. "Hey, did you guys just see something up on the ridge?"

Geoff shook his head. "No, but let's put a watch out anyway. Davis, Kellner, you're on duty."

The two men grabbed their rifles and took up positions around the camp, but as night wore on they nodded off.

When Torn Ear returned to the pack, he spoke to his second, Sharp Fang. The younger dawg grew furious as he described the apparent murder of their comrade, snarling and foaming. They agreed that there would be retribution, and addressed the rest of the pack.

The rest of the dawgs were as angry as Sharp Fang. Torn Ear had to soothe them somewhat, so they didn't become a frenzied mob. No, they would have to be calm, and calculating. This will be dangerous, he said. They didn't care. The bipeds had driven away their food, spat fire at them with their big cousins, and now murdered one of their own. The pack was ready to strike.

Jaff Davis struggled to stay awake. He wondered why no one had come out to relieve him from watch duty, and concluded that no one wanted to stay awake in the freezing cold. He pulled his jacket tighter, and clutched his worn rifle.

He thought he heard something. Feet on sand, behind him. He turned, and called out. "Ali? Is that you?" Then he saw shapes, moving in the darkness. That was the last thing he saw.

Across the camp, Ali Kellner had heard the doomed man's call. "I'm over here", he said as he walked over to Davis' position. He heard a snap, and stopped. Retrieving a dusty old flashlight from a pocket, he shined it across the camp. He saw Davis, looking quite dead, surrounded by dawgs. Lots of dawgs. He screamed, and started firing his rifle. He shot two of them dead before they reached him.

The dawgs swarmed though the camp. The alarm was sounded, but it was too late. Men were killed as they woke, or torn down running to their vehicles. Two men, badly wounded, fought their way to a battered truck and sped off, the only survivors. The dawgs, except for the five that were killed, retreated into the darkness.

The next day an Elan with two men inside spotted the abandoned Gears. Signaling to the caravan that they might have found a rover camp, they cautiously drove up to investigate. Stopping the car before the ridge, they retrieved their weapons and crawled forward.

One of the men whistled and lowered his rifle. "Well, I've never seen that before." Patches of blood were all over the ground. Here and there were human corpses, as well as a few dead dawgs. Two Gears stood, deactivated. An Elan was parked, stained with the blood of someone who tried to escape in it. Fresh tire tracks next to it suggested that someone else had more luck.

The man's partner looked pale. "What the hell happened here?" he said.

The first man shrugged. "I'd say a pack of dawgs attacked some rovers. Probably saved us some trouble, and got us a couple of Gears. I think I'll advise the caravan to not stop here, though."

The other man started walking back to the Elan. "I thought dawgs usually didn't attack people."

"They don't," the first man replied. "Usually."

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APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 3 April, 2000