Articles

Grozchiir: Adventures of a Madclaw (Part 5)

In Uncategorized on 2008-03-19 by Kyle Maxwell

PRESENT DAY – ON KASHYYYK

Nighttime on Kashyyyk, traditionally considered dangerous by Wookiees, filled Grozchiir with a renewed sense of life. No one expected his people to move at night, but doing the unexpected was really the only reason he was still alive. He grinned to himself as he heard some small creatures twittering off into the night as he approached, astride his bantha.

Chief Narookia had wanted to be certain that the Rebels received their payment before leaving the planet. Although Grozchiir intended to stay home a little longer, when the Chief spoke, he listened. A few days alone to re-acquaint himself with the homeland as he journeyed to their hidden landing site would do him good and allow him a bit more time to think, in any case.

Gwwaaarr snorted beneath him and moved uncertainly along the trail. The wind carried a note of… what was that? Smoke, but of an unfamiliar sort. And just past the tree line, something glowed. Perhaps reassuring to those gathered around, but Grozchiir had long since learned that if he didn’t recognize something, it was probably a threat. He slid silently off his mount, landing on the ground on all fours. Holding his palm down for a moment to tell the beast to stay, he leapt into a nearby tree and made his way through the branches a few meters above the ground.

There. Intruders. A small camp of Imperials, nothing too large. A small squad slept in the open, an officer nearby, and a sentry squatted low to the ground. From the angle of his head, though, it seemed that he was only watching ground-level, never giving any indication of noticing the Wookiee clinging to a tree. Their speeder bikes were off to the side; in any case, they were of little use in the thick underbrush of the forest. While they did have a thumper to scare away the smaller wildlife, the subsonic vibrations made Grozchiir’s hair stand slightly on end.

Or was that the anticipation?

Carefully, he headed back to the beast and removed his shotgun and a few grenades from the saddlebags. A murmured prayer for the death of his enemies — though not necessarily his own survival — calmed Gwwaaarr, whose animal instincts told him something was about to happen. Grozchiir led him a little further until the camp was just in view.

The big Wookiee took his time, trusting that the sleepy trooper on watch was more interested in whatever might come out of the trees than what was still in them. He stretched for a moment and took a deep breath, allowing the anxiousness for battle to spread throughout his body. That tension kept him prepared, he’d always felt.

The sentry suddenly stood and shook his head, trying to stay awake. He paced for a minute, then decided to circle the perimeter of their small camp, never suspecting that death awaited him a few meters away. The time was now.

Smacking Gwwaaarr on the haunch, Grozchiir hefted a grenade in his hand. The sentry turned at the sound of a stampeding bantha, but it was too late as he was trampled. Shouts echoed through the clearing, joined by the grunts and calls of the beast wreaking havoc among them. Groz lobbed the grenade straight into the parked speeder bikes and began to run even before it exploded.

The officer shrieked and fled in sheer terror of the nightmare that was stomping and goring his squad, not seeing the Wookiee. Grozchiir crouched for a moment in the grass, laying in wait for his enemy with bared fangs.

However, the human paused for a moment to turn back to the camp. Raising his sidearm, he fired above the camp in a futile attempt to scare off the bantha. Groz was patient, though, and… wait. In the camp. What was that? He lifted an electro-monocular instinctively to his eye so that he could inspect a shape on the ground.

The image that burned itself into his retina made him retch. It might once have resembled the body of a Wookiee pup, but whatever that mess of fur and blood was now, it could no longer be classified as a “body”.

Rapid footsteps headed towards his left told him that the officer was running again. Quick as a flash, he extended his left arm and clotheslined the Imperial officer, who fell to the ground. Snarling at his enemy, he lifted him from the ground by the lower jaw. The smell of blood filled his nostrils… the acid taste in his mouth since he’d seen the remains of an atrocity a few moments ago… flashes of disruptor bolts and dying Wookiee commandos… the sound of sneering Imperials in the hell that had been his prison…

Groz took a deep breath and refocused his eyes on the Imperial. Something didn’t look right, though. The neck was at an odd angle and had visibly darkened. It took the Wookiee a moment or two to realize his claws were extended.

It had happened again. He was a madclaw, unable to restrain himself from reverting to their ancient and feral ways. What he’d just seen in the camp didn’t matter; this was dishonor. And not just the neck; this intruder’s face was now practically unrecognizable as a face in general, much less of the individual who struggled for only a few more seconds before finally hanging limp.

The screams from the camp had ceased and Gwwaaarr was nosing through the supplies, looking for food. Breathing heavily, adrenaline racing through his system, Grozchiir struggled to think of a solution. In the morning, scouts would inevitably come across the camp and investigate, and a mauled body like this would raise alarm.

He had to dispose of the body somehow, had to get it far away from this carnage. Just as he had to stuff his shame down deep inside, he did the same with the corpse into a bag he found in the camp. Tying it down behind the saddle, he jumped aboard and urged his bantha on.

Sometime later, in that deep darkness where sunrise rarely reached, a katarn jumped from his nest as something landed with a wet thud from the cliff above. Meal time.

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