LbN: This is my first Beast King fic! Hope you guys like it. I'll try to have the next chapter up today or tomorrow.
Salem would never be Third—Heather—, but damned if he didn't come close. Thor tossed his hair out of his eyes and looked over his friend's shoulder. "Is everything here?"
"All of it, and a little extra," Salem said with a grin. "Our hunters did well this season. They're heading out in a bit to do one last round up. It's the newbies, so Jack and I are going along to make sure they don't get into any trouble."
"Good plan," Thor chuckled. He followed Salem out of the store room. As the Second locked the door behind them, Thor was thinking hard. "How many were born this time?"
"For the millionth time, Thor," Salem said gently, "We have more than enough food. I wouldn't throw huge feasts or anything, but our stores are better than they've ever been. And to answer your question, we only had 15 babies this spring."
Thor smiled and nodded as they walked back into the main part of the building.
They were better than ever. Not just the food stores, either. Chimaera was thriving, even if the population was still lower than any other planet. Conditions were still harsh, but now the people weren't compounding the situation by fighting amongst themselves. They'd even made peace with Hecate three years back—two years after the fall of the Tower. Since then, the capital planet had stopped exiling its prisoners to Kimaera. Only the really hardened criminals had stayed away from society, and the planet had gotten to them. The rest had come in, just like the Yado, and become a part of the planet. There were no more official "Rings," but people still lived in the different areas of the planet based on where the former tribes used to be.
However much Thor hated the pedestal he was put on by most of the world, it couldn't be denied that he was the cause of their unity.
"You coming with us, Beast King?" Salem's younger brother Anoki asked when they reached the front hall.
"Not this time," Thor said. "Salem is, though."
"Come on, Thor," Salem wheedled. "It's the last hunt of the season. You know you want to go."
It was true, Thor thought. He hadn't gotten to hunt in a long time. "Alright," he said, grinning. "You're on."
Thor dodged a vine. "Echtooh melon tentacle coming your way!" he called, jumping over another questing vine. "I've got one occupied."
"Cutting the fruit!" one of the younger hunters yelled. "Got it!"
Thor stopped dodging the vine and struck out with his sword. The vine recoiled immediately, wrapping around the trunk. "How many did you get?" he panted when the girl, Savva, came toward him.
"Only two. Left a few just so we don't completely pick the forest clean. Where did the others get to?"
"They found a magenorb tree down the hill. They're picking some berries. We can—"
"THOR!" a voice yelled. "Verasoma!"
They took off running down the hill. It was a big one, even by verasoma standards. Thor ran over to the team. The plant had one of them in its clutches, and the rest were trying to kill it. "Salem! Come with me!"
"It's got Anoki!" Salem yelled, jumping onto the bulb with Thor. "We've got to hurry!"
"Find the gap!" Thor worked a little faster than Salem, as his balance was better. He found the verasoma's only vulnerable spot and began shooting. To his surprise, the plant covered itself. "Salem, start shooting when I get it open!" He took his sword and pried the plant's cover off. In another moment, the plant had stopped moving and he hopped down.
Anoki lay on the ground a few feet away. He had a huge gash across his torso, and was bleeding profusely. "S…Salem…"
"It's alright, I've got you," Salem said.
Thor wrapped the boy's wound tightly. "I need—"
"Way ahead of you, man," Savva said, pulling one of the hover cars to a stop next to them. "Already made him a space—figured he wouldn't mind chillin' in back with the fruit."
"Drive fast," Thor told her. "Be careful. The rest of you, load up. We're going home."
By the time the team made it back and handed the fruit over to the people working the supply room, Salem was waiting for Thor in the landing by the rooms. "He didn't make it," the Third said quietly. "Lost too much blood. The doctor's…taking care of everything."
Thor squeezed his shoulder. "I know what you're feeling right now, but there was nothing you could have done." He was silent for a moment, then said, "Come with me. I'm going to the Noire station to pick up my son. You can stay with your sister."
"Right. She needs to know."
Thor nodded, leading him out to the loading docks. "Savva, what do you got on the Verasoma situation?" he called as he and Salem chose two bikes.
"Jack," she said, grumpily. "We're going to get the old diagrams now, and figure something out. A few of the guys are going out again to take some aerial pictures."
"Just be careful," Thor said. "I'll be back in a few hours."
The Noire station was vast. Thor liked it there. It had few people, so it always seemed quieter than the chaos that was the Ochre station. Their footsteps echoed in the halls as he and his Third tried to find their respective families.
Salem stopped and looked down one of the hallways. "This is me," he said. Without another word, he walked away.
Thor wanted to call to him, to say something encouraging, but he couldn't. This was partially because he didn't know what to say, but partially because at that moment, something small attached itself to his leg. It was his son, Rai. "There you are," he said, smiling.
Thor picked him up and saw the boy's mother, Tzaddi, coming down the stairs towards them. Theirs was an interesting relationship. Some called it a relationship of convenience, but really it was even less complex than that. Thor just couldn't keep his calendar straight. He'd forgotten it was the Mating Month three years ago, overindulged on his favorite mead, and now he had a kid. Simple, really. He and Tzaddi got along fine, when forced to be in each other's company, but they didn't feel the need for chit chat. "Is he ready to leave?"
"He is. He does have clothes that fit at the Ochre station, right?" she asked with a smirk.
"Of course he does," Thor said, rolling his eyes. "See you in 181 days then?"
Thor smiled and kissed her forehead (mostly because he knew she hated it). "We'll be going then." He took his son's hand and led the boy back to the hover bike.
LbN: All of the drama starts in the next chapter. Reviews are much appreciated! :)