A/N: Hello again my readers

A/N: Hello again my readers. YOU guys are SO incredibly nice! I can't even begin to name off all the fans who had such encouraging, kind things to say regarding my absence and recent AvP slump. I even had people offer to write stories to inspire me! (Seriously…I had to wipe my eyes.) You guys are just tops! THANK YOU!!

Ah…and Fire Blood thanks you too. I think he's getting a big head realizing what a following he has.

Fire Blood struts around flexing his arms "Uh HUH. I'm the hottest Predator ever created."

Fire Redhead: Rolls eyes "Yeah, yeah. You're awesome, Big Guy. Don't rub it in."

Fire Blood: "You should give the fans a naked drawing of me."

Fire Redhead:"Uh…why?"

Fire Blood: "All hot celebrities deserve to have their bodies displayed for their adoring fans. Just think about it: all those fan girls posting my naked likeness over their beds.

Fire Redhead: You're scaring the readers Big Guy.

Fire Blood:points Oh don't deny it…you WANT to draw me nude!"

Fire Redhead:Massages bridge of nose "You're NOT a celebrity Fire Blood; you're a figment of my imagination."

Fire Blood:drops loincloth Draw me!

Fire Redhead: jumps up and runs like a bat out of Hell NO!

Fire Blood:gives chaseDRAW ME!

OOOOK. Don't know what kind of brain-farting insanity that was derived from but enjoy this next chapter…

Fire Blood's Story

Chapter 5: I Meet Jet'rikna

A few days later…

After my unsettling "Bad Blood" reaction I decided to stick close to the dwelling and focus on my strength training. I was right in the middle of a long repetition of pull-ups when a glimpse of delicate black spots caught my attention from a nearby tree.

I stopped in mid-motion, staring up at the tree. The speckles had disappeared. Was I fantasizing? Dropping down from my exercise apparatus I cautiously moved toward the tree. Someone was spying on me.

With a powerful leap I fastened onto the tree and climbed to the first branch able to support my weight. I weaved around the branches, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever was watching me. At first I could see nothing but vegetation. I climbed to a higher branch, eyes darting. I was starting to think my imagination was running my brain when suddenly I came face to face with that speckled female named Amerra. She was perched on a branch just over my head.

I jumped back a bit startled, "You!"

She clicked at my reaction.

"What…umm…what are you doing here?" I asked.

"Ri'etta asked me to see if you were here." she admitted, flicking a chunk of vegetation from the tree.

"And she's here too?" I wondered, eyes still moving.

Those beautiful green eyes stared down at me, "Somewhere."

"Well…why are you here then?"

Quite suddenly, Ri'etta landed on a branch behind me drawing herself up majestically, "We want to know if it's true."

My stomach sank into my legs, "If what is true?"

"Are you the son of the Bad Blood?" she pinned the question into me.

I couldn't look at them. My shame felt grimly exposed.

"Unfortunately." I growled.

They stared at me in silence. I just wanted to disappear.

"Do you intend to kill him?" Ri'etta asked.

My eyes met hers, "If it takes me my lifetime, I WILL end his."

Ri'etta and Amerra shared a look. Then, Ri'etta reached behind her head and extracted a long bone that decorated the back of her dreadlocks. Amerra pulled one of her silver armbands off. Then they both handed me the two items.

My heart felt like bursting with elation. A female giving an Unblooded male an item of hers meant she was interested in him after he was officially Blooded.

"Don't take too long then. I would like to see more of you." the unusually patterned female purred.

Amerra just rattled gently with a smile, trying to not stare at me.

I felt stunned holding the items, "Really?"

They nodded and prepared to leave.

Ri'etta clicked quietly to Amerra, "If he becomes Blooded I'd have his offspring."

Amerra tried to stifle her modest laughter as they leaped, disappearing into the jungle beyond. I fell against the trunk of the tree with a stunned, pleased smile all over my face. They wanted ME, despite it all! Two females! I felt such happy delirium I nearly stumbled out of the tree. When I finally snapped out of it I fastened the two items to my belt, and went to complete one-thousand pull-ups, never feeling so energized in my life.

.

It was perhaps a week later when I felt that same woozy, energy crackle in my brain. I was out with my aunt, running through the pathways of our Clan's territory. It was part of my training to run across the countryside, building up my endurance. Ta'buka was a fleet-footed runner and keeping up with her was a huge challenge.

Just as we crested a rocky hill my eyes caught sight of a procession of warriors marching on the path just below us. I veered away from Ta'buka and leaped atop a large boulder that overlooked the path.

"Young Blood! What are you doing?" my aunt barked.

I leaned forward with great interest as I surveyed the procession. One figure among them stood out. She was tall, well muscled, and had bright green speckles dotting her creamy flesh. Unmasked with eyes as bright yellow as the twin suns and a delicate facial structure, she held my stare immobile. She wore ebony armor made from the exoskeleton of the kainde amedha and a magnificent jeweled ornament on the back of her head. Strings of thin metal chains and fangs dangled from her neck and long dreadlocks. To me, she looked like a regal goddess descended to the land of mere mortals.

"Young Blood!" my aunt shouted tersely.

I pointed dumbly, "Who is that female?"

My aunt stood where she could see the procession. "Which one?"

"THAT one," I pointed, "the one with the kainde amedha armor."

She stared a moment, "Ah. That is Jet'rikna, daughter of Yii'ra."

"Jet'rikna." I all but hissed the name in awe.

My aunt gave a smug smirk, "Don't hunt what you can't catch Young Blood. Jet'rikna is one of the top contenders for our Clan's next High Eldress."

I shook my head, "High Eldress! All that beauty wasted in a position of power when it could be spent with me!"

Ta'buka snorted and slapped the back of my head, "Such arrogance! What makes you think she would even LOOK at you for two seconds?"

"There's only one way to know." I boasted, following the procession from above.

My aunt made a disapproving snarl but didn't stop me, "You set your sights too high Young Blood. Don't be surprised if you fall."

I barely heard her words. My objective was clear, though doused in the thick sap of lust. Jet'rikna was beauty incarnate and I would not pass up the chance to make an impression on her. Running ahead of the procession on the high path I dropped down a few hundred yards in front of them and waited. The group consisted of six guards, all of which were female, Jet'rikna, and an older female I could only assumed was Yii'ra her mother.

When they came closer the front guards eyed me warily behind masks, weapons bristled. I knew a direct approach was out of the question.

So I went with the verbal, "A fine day to be graced with such a lovely sight."

The females ignored me, tipping their heads upward as they passed.

I slowly paced beside them, focusing on my target, "Jet'rikna isn't it?"

No response other than a protective bark from the guards. I kept a distance but also stayed beside them.

"A name like that would surely bend the knees of our enemies should you become High Eldress." I continued, hoping I might get some response.

"You would be wise to abandon this pathetic pursuit." her mother Yii'ra hissed loftily, her yellow and orange eyes flashing, "A future High Eldress has no interest in the unworthy spawn of a Bad Blood."

My temper instantly boiled in my guts, spilling into my eyes. Apparently my unjust reputation preceded me.

Though I thought better of it, I immediately shot back, "Forgive the confusion, but I was speaking to the young female."

Jet'rikna turned her head only slightly, but she didn't look at me. Yii'ra, however, snarled with utter indignation, "INSOLENT CUR! Keep the foul stench of your dishonor away from my daughter!"

Without a word, Jet'rikna snatched one of her guard's spears and marched straight at me. Her eyes blazed with a hot light, so cold and ruthless my breath was stolen from me. She strode up to me, her shoulders swinging in the most challenging dominant way possible. I readied myself for her attack.

Like a silent storm she flew through the air, spear spinning fast enough to make the air thrum. I instinctually reached for one of my shurikens and accepted the blow. She landed beside me, jabbing the staff of the spear at odd angles, trying to get through my deflections.

She was good…very good.

In a blinding move the tip of her spear raked across the back of my calf and she did a roundhouse kick to the back of my head that brought me to my knees. I barked with surprise when she jammed the rod of the spear under my chin and slammed me to my back on the ground. The spear tip glittered before my eyes.

Her gorgeous eyes blazed above me as she released a satisfied breath, "Any last words?"

I smiled broadly, closing my eyes with completeness, "I was hoping to hear the sound of your magnificent voice before I died."

Those eyes widened minutely then narrowed. The spear struck and I winced when she pulled it away with one of my severed dreadlocks pierced on the tip. How she'd managed to slice it off with a spear tip I didn't know. I felt hot blood dribble next to my neck as I sat up.

Jet'rikna plucked the severed dread from the weapon, rolled it over in her hand, and then cast it back at me. I'd never seen or experienced such a ritual. Before I could ask about it, Jet'rikna turned away and made a rasping noise which meant the procession should continue. I picked up my severed dreadlock and watched them leave.

"You are one lucky Young Blood." Ta'buka shouted from above.

I glanced up at her, holding up my dismembered dread, "Why did she do that?"

"Typically I would say it's a warning. She's signifying she could have taken your life but she gave it back to you," she explained jumping down next to me. "Unless…do you see anything different about it?"

I turned the piece of me over in my hand and noticed a kainde amedha fangpierced into it. I showed it to her and she snatched it away.

Her eyes widened and she let a smile pass at me, "She wants to see you."

"Huh? How do you know that?" I asked, clearly confused.

Ta'buka flicked her mandibles, "Have you never heard the ritual of a female giving an Unblooded male a gift because she wants him after his Blooding?"

"Well…yeah. But they've never cut my dreadlocks off." I hissed, wiping blood from my shoulder and neck.

"If a female gives you the fang of the kainde amedha she wants to see you again." she held up the tooth.

I considered this a moment until a broad smile filled my mandibles, "So…she wants me!"

"Don't get ahead of yourself. She wants to SEE you…whether she desires you after your Blooding is up to her." Ta'buka shook her head.

"Well then why didn't she just say so?" I asked, still touching my lopped off dread.

My aunt eyed the fang thoughtfully, "Perhaps she was hiding the fact from Yii'ra."

"Hiding it?"

"Yes. Yii'ra knows her daughter stands the best chance of becoming High Eldress and doesn't want anything to spoil that. Especially not some young upstart male." Ta'buka explained. "I suspect Jet'rikna doesn't want her to know about it."

"BUT she DOES want to see me!" I crowed with triumph.

Handing me the fang and then grabbing my left lower mandible to get my attention, she hissed ominously, "Tread carefully, Young Blood."