His smile didn’t fade until they stepped out into Ler’s hazy but bright sunlight. Temporarily blinded, Clajak slowed, almost stopping. The humidity hit him like an almost solid wall, along with the overpowering odor of rancid waste. When a huge dark form appeared in front of him, he came to a halt, momentarily thinking he had blundered up to a wall ... a wall where someone had elected to take the universe’s most foul dump. The stench overpowered the fetid green smell of the nearby jungle.
Egilka bumped into him from behind. The Imdiko started to apologize, but he was cut off by a squealing snarl.
Egilka’s voice rose high in panic. “Fuck! Clajak, it’s those damned Tragooms!”
Clajak had no time to react. Egilka had barely finished his warning when a brutal blow caught the prince in the midsection. All the breath left his body in an instant. His legs turned to water beneath him, and he fell to the ground hard.
So that’s what smells so bad, he thought in a daze. Not shit. Tragooms.
Over the roar in his ears, Clajak heard Egilka bellow his own cry of pain. Then the Imdiko thudded to the ground next to Clajak. The prince had a bare moment of seeing scarlet on his promised’s mouth. Despite the pain in his midsection, the sight made Clajak’s legs remember how to work.
He was suddenly on his feet. The knife from his belt pouch had found its way into his hand. Clajak stood over Egilka, already lashing out at the pair of Tragooms to defend his companion. Unfortunately for the Dramok, his knife only skidded across the boulder-like upper chest of one of the Tragooms. The blade was sharp enough to cut through an armored formsuit, but it was not able to even scratch the squealing beast’s bare flesh.
Below the breastbone, you dolt, a voice in his head yelled. The imagined shout sounded a lot like his father Yuder.
Releasing mid-December 2015