Sorry for the long delay in updates, but here is the next chapter. Hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think!
Want to give a big thank to Laloga for checking up and getting me off my lazy bum to update! =)
They had been walking for quite some time now, the tree tops seemed thicker causing the sun to almost completely disappear. It was hard to tell if it was still day or night and the noises that didn't bother Ekho before now made her more on edge.
Instead of concentrating on the danger that could lurk ahead, she decided to start thinking of a name for her new pet which ultimately led to thinking about names in general. "Kad, Deacon, did babuir or your buir ever tell you how you got your names? And the reason behind your names?"
Deacon had collected some stones along the way and was tossing them into the bushes as they walked. Birds that nested or were resting fluttered out of their hiding spot, causing Ekho to jump each time a rustling sound came from behind. She willed her nerves to settle.
"Babuir said that my father wanted to name me Kad so it stuck," Kad looked anxiously back and forth. It was too dark for his liking and there could be predators lurking. Going against his instinct Kad continued further into the eerie forest, keeping one eye out for danger and the other on his younger cousins.
"I don't know where my parents came up with my name," Deacon tossed another rock into a bush.
"Don't you ever wonder? What does it mean?" Ekho pressed.
"Nope not really," Deacon said nonchalantly. "Why?"
"I've asked my buir about my name. All I know is that I was named after an uncle that died, but he won't tell me anything else. I know what I'm calling you," Ekho took the little vhe'viin out of her pocket and into her palm. The critter ran up her arm and rested on her shoulder where its soft fur rubbed against her cheek. "How about Cin'ciri? Do you like that?" The vhe'viin moved its round ears back and forth and Ekho took that as a yes.
"Ekho, that means snow. It's not even white," Deacon stated.
"She will when winter comes," Ekho turned around so that Deacon could see her roll her eyes at him. "Don't you listen to anything in our studies?"
"Yeah as much as you listen to your buir saying not to go out here," Deacon smarted back.
"Guys, knock it off," Kad interrupted before another fight broke out. "We probably should be getting back. It's getting late and we're already going to be in a lot of trouble."
"If we're in trouble, what does it matter?" Ekho questioned and continued forward.
Indeed, Kad breathed. Deacon continued picking up rocks and tossing them into the bush until Ekho had enough and whirled around to tell him.
"Fiiiine," Deacon exaggerated and dropped the rocks. A few minutes later Ekho heard rustling in the bushes.
"Deacon, I told you to stop throwing those stupid rocks."
"I'm not doing anything," he snapped.
A low, menacing growl could be heard from their left side and caused them to freeze in place. The newly dubbed Cin'ciri squeaked and ran back down into Ekho's pocket. Deacon, Kad and Ekho all un-holstered their blasters and pointed it in the direction of the growl. A moan that started high and turned into a long, low rumble from the opposite side made the three kids jump and point their blasters in that direction. Together, whatever was out there, two growls could be heard and crunching of underbrush was associated with it.
"Great, we're being circled," Deacon started to breathe heavily, trying to control his worry.
"Keep your eyes sharp and ears open. We have been trained for this," Kad tried to sound strong, but the tremble crept up in his voice. "Be ready."
Ekho's hands shook as she held her blaster, waiting for the predators to strike. Come on, come on. What are you waiting for? A loud roar startled all three of them again and Ekho and Deacon turned wide, terrified eyes to their elder cousin. If we die, it'll be all my fault. What will I tell the elders if one of us doesn't make it? I'm going to be in so much trouble.
"Udesii," Kad uttered much to himself as to Deacon and Ekho. "Stay sharp." They pressed their backs together, forming a triangle and blasters aimed and ready for whatever was about to come.
"What is it?" Ekho strained. "Kad, should we run?"
The ground began to tremble as whatever was stalking them advanced. Kad's nostrils flared and his eyes became as wide as the Mando moon on a clear night. He didn't have a chance to answer as the beasts finally appeared like ghosts from the darkness.
"Osik," Kad cursed under his breath. Their necks craned upward until they could feel a kink at the base of their skulls.
"Kad…Kad…" Deacon muttered as his mouth dropped open. Kad audibly gulped, slowly dropping his hands knowing that his small blaster would have no impact on the enormous beasts in front of him. He could feel his cousins tangle their small fingers into his palms and grip onto dear life.
"I'm sorry," Deacon and Kad could barely hear Ekho say as the monsters thundered. Kad just gripped harder on her hand.
How could they have not heard these brutes until it was too late? They towered over the trees, their long necks swaying back and forth as their mammoth bodies bulldozed everything in their way. Their trunk like legs moved with clumsiness associated with such size and a without a care in the world that anything dare to be in their way. Three sharp toenails the size of Kad, Deacon and Ekho aligned each food and dug their way through the thick bog.
Each monster roared again, causing the kids to cover their ears. Getting a glimpse of the inside of their mouths; sharp, jagged teeth filled the front followed by some flatter but still sharp molars.
Kad, Ekho and Deacon snapped out of their scared stupor and finally reacted. Pulling on their hands, Kad jerked his younger cousins away from the approaching giants' path and ducked into the thicker brush.
"Stay flat and still," Kad commanded. Deacon's blond head faint nodded and as the monsters roared again, the boys covered their heads and ears. Kad peeked an eye open to see Ekho patting her shirt and pant pocket. "Stay still, Ekho!" Kad hissed.
"Cin'ciri is missing!" Ekho looked at her cousin in distress.
"She probably ran away into a tree or something. Shh!" The giant beasts howled again and as they made their way closer to the kids, the ground shook harder under their bodies.
Ekho was about to protest when a very warm wind swooped over their backs. The three of them froze. Ekho could feel her heart stop in her throat. A small whimper escaped Deacon's lips.
A moan from above made each kid slowly raise their heads only to be faced with a very long snout and very razor-sharp, yellow teeth. "Kest," Ekho heard Kad curse again. Both of the beasts had them pinned and there was nothing they could do.
Why did I have to insist on going out to the woods again? I'm sorry Deacon and Kad, mom, dad, babuir…The list went on in the young girl's head until the one of the gigantic beasts suddenly nudged her on the shoulder. It wasn't gentle; enough to flip Ekho onto her back. She let out a little scream but quickly stifled it. The creature continued to sniff her from head to toe, slightly bumping its large pointy nose on her body.
Ekho was extremely confused and as she caught her cousins' eyes, she could tell they were too. Why hadn't they been eaten yet? What did the beasts want with them? Ekho furrowed her dark blue brows and pursed her lips together. Looking at Deacon and Kad again, their eyes widened instantly knowing what she had in mind. Kad shook his head in a negative fashion.
Ekho ignored him and slowly began to raise her hand toward the underside of the monster's jaw. It had a horn of some sort pointed at its jaw and she hesitantly reached for it first. She could hear the intakes of breaths, mentally taking one herself; preparing for the worse. As her hand came in contact with the horn and nothing bad happened, she let it run to the underside of its jaw. The monster's head shot up and a high pitch whine emitted from the creature mouth.
"Why did you have to do that?" Deacon scolded.
"I don't think they want to hurt us," Ekho reasoned. She slowly sat up and sat on her knees, facing the giants. She watched as the two seemed to be communicating to each other. Finally getting a good look at their faces they weren't the most attractive creatures, but definitely impressive. A huge, slanted head, supporting two curled horns, ones much seen on horned banthas, and sloped eyes with silted pupils; these monsters were truly something out of someone's demented imagination.
The one monster that Ekho had touched jerked its head back at her as it realized Ekho had moved. Much like she did with her little vhe'viin, Ekho held out her hand for the monster. Deacon and Kad watched in wild bewilderment as Ekho sat quietly as the monster once again approached her.
Its long neck slithered down and large head turned slightly off to the side so it could look at her better. It eyed her hand and then turned its nose to sniff it. The beast once again nudged her shoulders from side to side this time knocking her onto her behind. She could hear the other beast grumble and moan, the one in front of her respond with a very long groan. Nudging her hand once again with its nose, Ekho rubbed its rough hide, feeling the scales under her hand. It was like a strong armor plate.
Hearing the grass rustle behind her, Deacon and Kad were sitting up but she paid them no mind. This was an experience of a life time, though she knew her parents would never believe her. At least she would always remember it. Why was this beast of such power letting her pet it she had no clue and she didn't care. It was just as out of body as one could get, other than being a Jedi.
As Kad and Deacon slowly crept up behind her, she heard a shriller whine come from the beast behind. It didn't like that the boys were getting close.
"Back up," Ekho told Deacon and Kad. The beast snorted and stomped its large foot, causing the ground to once again shake. "Guys, back up."
The boys relented and the beast settled. Ekho moved her hand to the center of the monster's flat, wide forehead. A purring sound from the back of the monster's throat could be heard and made Ekho smile. "They aren't going to hurt us," she grinned as she stood up. The beast slowly moved its head away from Ekho and raised its lengthy neck.
Kad cleared his throat trying to find his voice. "You can't take them home," he finally managed to get out.
Rolling her eyes, Ekho shook her head. "I know that Kad."
"Do you realize what those are?" Deacon continued to keep his eyes on the large beasts as one rubbed his horned head against the others' chest and the other growled angrily and snapped its sharp teeth at its companion as it was poked.
"What?" Kad and Ekho asked.
"Mythosaurs." The young boy stood up and brushed the grass off of him. "And yes, I do listen to some of the more interesting stories babuir tells us. Besides, my dad saw one of the skeletons and described it to me once."
"Wait, how can that be?" Ekho exclaimed, but instantly quieted her voice as the beasts turned to look at the shrill behind them. "How can that be? They became extinct over 7,000 years ago! How did these two manage to stay alive?"
Deacon shrugged. "Well we didn't hear them come up on us so they must have gotten really good at hiding."
"Do you think they are the only two left?" She asked.
"Probably," Kad answered. "If there were more and this docile, they would have been dead long ago." Ekho once again pursed her lips together, contemplating. "What are you thinking Ekho?" Kad asked cautiously.
"Well…it would be a crime to let them go extinct. We can't do that."
"They have been doing just fine out here without our help," Deacon said.
"It's our fault that there are only two left in the galaxy," Ekho folded her hands over her chest, looking at the giants. Despite their sharp teeth, they were contently eating the leaves off the top of the trees.
"Not our fault, the Mandalorians before us," Kad reminded. Ekho gave him a pointed look.
"You know what I mean. Because of mankind, we are responsible for a species' annihilation."
"Ekho, you don't know if they have any offspring. There might be more," Deacon added. Very true, she couldn't just take them away from any babies they had.
"You can't bring them home," Kad growled. "How and what would you do with them? What would babuir do to you if you did? What would they do to the others if you brought them home? Sure, they like you, but what if they don't like anyone else? You saw how the one reacted when Deacon and I got close. Why are we even having this conversation? It's ludicrous! No, Ekho, no! It's time to go home right now."
"Kad…" Ekho slightly begged her older cousin, but he had put down his foot.
"No Ekho, you are coming home right now and those things stay here," he grabbed her hand and started to walk off. A loud roar sent the hairs on the back of Deacon's and Kad's neck straight up. Ekho turned her head around to see the mythosaurs making their way right behind them.
"I don't think you have much of a choice Kad," Ekho grinned.
Deacon deeply frowned. "What is it with you and animals?"
"We are in so much trouble," Kad grimaced.