This is a story about a FANTASY. The fictional characters in my stories are trained and experienced in acts of FANTASY - don't try to do what they do - someone could get hurt.
If you think you know somebody who resembles any of the characters here, congratulations, but you're wrong - any similarity between the characters in this story and any real person is purely coincidental, since all of these characters are figments of my imagination.
This is my story, not yours. Don't sell it or put it on a pay site. You can keep it and/or give it away with all of this information intact, but if you make money off of it without my permission, you're breaking the law and pissing me off.
The grey haired gentleman stopped twenty paces ahead of the rest of the colonists. The representative from the native tribe stopped also. Slowly the imposing native began circling, its tail twitching. The scientist stood his ground, waiting patiently, only turning where he stood to watch the native, who resembled a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex - about a foot taller than the man.
The man in the deactivated camouflage cloak stood near the rear of the group of colonists, slowly shaking his head. He quietly released the safety on the blaster he held under his cloak. They hadn't really wanted him to come along, but nobody wanted to argue with him, either. The other colonists stood nonchalantly watching, weapons holstered, but hands hovering over them, convinced by the scholarly gentleman that this first contact would be peaceful.
After a full circuit, the native emitted a loud, hissing roar. The translator buttons remained silent as to its meaning. Taking the initiative, the grey haired colonist slowly raised both hands, palms outward, to show that they were empty. The native paused, then crouched and raised its clawed forelimbs in a similar posture.
The man in the camouflage cloak muttered, "Fool! They don't know about weapons!" He tensed as he saw the native's powerful tail touch the ground behind it. Before anyone could react, those tremendous haunches and thick tail launched the native through the air, hind legs extended forward. In the blink of an eye, the stunned scholar's intestines were spilling onto the ground as the sharp claws on those powerful hind feet kicked several times, while the native balanced on its tail, and the flashing forelimbs tore out his throat before he could even scream.
The horrified colonists reached for holstered weapons as the man in camouflage moved to their flank.
The native tore open the old man's chest and shredded the still-beating heart with its foreclaws as all watched, aghast. He turned to his companions and growled something that the translator buttons rendered as: "It HAS no heart! It didn't even fight!"
To the chorus of agreement from the other natives, it spat once into the gaping chest cavity and turned to stalk back to its companions.
The first blaster bolt, from the leader of the colonists, fortunately, expended itself in the foliage of a bush. The second, this one from the man in camouflage, threw up gouts of dirt and burned vegetation in front of the first shooter.
"Stop it, you fool!" the man in camouflage hissed as the others looked his way. "We've got to LIVE with these beings and we'll never survive if we try to go to war with them. Our supplies are not limitless, and there's no factory for blaster loads here! We can kill hundreds, even thousands of them, but eventually we'll run out of ammo, and there are MILLIONS of them out there!"
"Did you see what he did?!" the leader replied, "Poor Dr. Sanders didn't have a chance!"
"Poor Dr. Sanders," the man in camo said derisively, "for all his University degrees, was a goddamn idiot! We can still salvage this, but I need you to put your weapons away and let me deal with them!"
"How do you think YOU can deal with them where Sanders failed, Cooper?" the other snorted.
"I've been out in the bush observing them." Cooper replied, keeping one eye on the natives. They milled about, shocked by the blaster, but gave no sign of attacking. Cooper continued, "While Sanders and the rest of you stayed safe inside your protective barrier, I've been out learning about them! How the hell do you think the translation computer got enough speech samples to work so well? Now holster your goddamn weapons, all of you, before I shoot YOU!"
"Do as he says!" a short, dark woman spoke from the other side of the group, her own blaster covering them.
"Et tu, Tanya?" the leader asked sardonically.
"I'll put my trust in Mr. Cooper." she said, "He's risked his neck every day to be out there and learn about these lizards. Sanders tried to apply his book learning without taking the time to know who he faced."
"What are you going to do?" the other said, reluctantly stowing his blaster. The others followed suit.
"I'm going to fight that big dinosaur hand to claw." Cooper said, "These are tough, violent beings, but they've learned ways of getting along that don't involve wholesale killing. Either I will kill that lizard, or he will kill me. Either way, if I fight well, you'll have the chance to open a dialog."
"How will we know if you've succeeded?" Tanya asked.
"You'll know." was all he said, "Just keep those blasters holstered and wait out whatever happens. It'll be bloody, either way, but if this works, this will be the only other death we'll have to put up with for a while."
After a general round of nods, he turned to face the natives, who still milled about, growling and hissing.
"Our champion failed to fight and we are shamed!" Cooper shouted through the translator. A series of clicks, hisses and growls emitted from the medallion on his chest. "Will you allow us to send another?"
The colonists stared at each other and murmured in indignation. The natives hissed and growled among themselves. Finally, one with yellowed, scarred, scaly flesh replied.
"If that is the best you can send," the translator button in his ear said, "then it's a waste of flesh. We will just kill you all and trample your remains into the soil so your weak blood does not contaminate the world!"
"This one," Cooper strode to where Sanders' mutilated corpse lay under a cloud of local insects and spat, "shamed us all! I will face your champion myself, and eat its heart!"
"Big talk from such a small being!" the big, blood-spattered one jeered, "You don't even have the claws of a warrior!"
"I am not weak like this one!" Cooper replied, "I do not need claws to feed on the likes of you!"
"Let it be, then!" the big one told the scarred one, "I could use a little exercise!"
A lift of the scarred one's tail signified assent, and the big one lumbered forward. Cooper shed his cloak and weapons as the other advanced.
"Such a puny little thing!" the lizard growled. He was at least a head taller than Cooper's six-three. "Why do you even bother? Just stand there like the other and I will kill you quickly! I might even lick at your heart because of your brave talk!"
"There is a small creature in the forest that even your people fear," Cooper said, circling slowly in the same direction as his opponent, "I have killed five of them for my food, without weapons. Look to your own heart, warrior. I will feast upon it soon!"
The creature paused, it's eyelids blinked rapidly, then narrowed.
"You are the one that killed the grolak?" it said, "When we found the remains we wondered... Perhaps you have a heart worth eating after all!"
"Not that you will ever get the chance!" Cooper replied, "I am Cooper. I would know the name of the one I about to kill!"
'Cooper' was not a word the lipless mouths of the natives could repeat, but this one tried.
"'Kookah'! It is a name for a small flying creature, not a true warrior!" the lizard growled "Not a strong warrior name, like Garrok! This is a warrior's name! This is MY name!"
"I will tell the people as we share your heart, Garrok!" Cooper said.
The circle of their steps had grown ever smaller, until now they were no more than ten feet apart. Cooper saw the tail touch ground and was not surprised when the leap came. Quickly, he stepped forward and to the side. The limbs of the lizard had limited motion toward the sides and he was able to avoid the deadly claws on hind feet and forelimbs while his karate blows landed on scaled muscle and joint.
The tail of the creature was not as limited as its limbs and it caught him in a sweeping blow that knocked him backward about five feet. His martial arts training kept him rolling, forward and to the side, just in time to avoid Garrok's second leap. This time, he ducked under the sweep of the tail and grabbed it with both hands, jerking just hard enough to unbalance the lizard so that it landed awkwardly, off balance.
In a flash, he was on Garrok's back, landing a swift series of blows to the muscles of forelimbs and hind legs alike. He leaped aside, swinging a hard foot around to catch his opponent in the throat, just as the tail again whooshed past!