I've thought about writing an Avali-centric story for a while and decided to go for it and post it up here. For those who don't know who/what Avali are, they are a modded race of fluffy, nomadic space raptors that are fairly small when compared to a normal human and have a society based on packs, an Avali's pack is extremely important to them. For much more in-depth information, here is a link to the wiki. http://avali.wikia.com/wiki/The_Official_Avali_Wiki This is my first real attempt at writing a cohesive story, please let me know what's done well, what's done poorly, and don't hesitate to ask any questions. Any and all criticisms are welcome, even if they seem nitpicky, please let me know of anything that seems off. There will be violence and minor gore ahead. With that said, I hope you all enjoy reading! Anala woke with a start, she had heard something loud and heavy. She jumped up and swiveled her ears towards the door to her room. Shut tight like it should be. ‘What was that sound?’ She thought to herself. She moved towards the door and rested the side of her head on it, listening for anything else… Nothing. She turned and looked around the room. ‘I left my rifle in storage.’ Disappointed with her lack of preparation. Then she spotted her trusty aerogel hunting spear. ‘This will do.’ Grabbing it and walking up to the door. It slid open with a quiet hiss at her touch. She looked up and down the corridor, keeping her ears perked in whichever direction she was looking. She crept through the ship, her ears focused down the orange-tinted hall, her head turning about looking for anything out of place. The kitchen was clean, just as her pack liked to keep it; orange pillows and small, gently waving decorations all in their places. Storage was still locked and everything was where it should be. What could that noise have been? *Clunk* ‘There it is again!’ Stopping and reorienting herself back towards the corridor. ‘It sounded like it had come from the engine room.’ She stalked her way there. ‘The others must’ve heard that.’ She slowed down as she came to the door, the dull orange lights casting her shadow on it. She could hear plenty of quiet *thunks* and *clangs* now, almost like some metal was being tossed around. Anala prepared herself and opened the door with a quiet touch. She slowly entered the dark room and began scanning the area with ears and eyes. ‘There!’ She spotted a long, hooded figure leaning over something. Fiddling with it, tearing panels off left and right, as if it were searching for something. As she began her approach there was a loud *POP* and a shower of sparks flashed to life just in front of the figure. Anala was unfazed by the disturbance, she was too focused on the intruder, who had shielded their face from the sparks. The lanky figure shot a quick glance its shoulder, looking in her direction for a moment. It had spotted something. It grabbed what looked like a large staff near its feet and headed towards the door. Anala ducked down and held dead still as the figure looked past her. Then she saw it reach for an object nearby and begin moving to the door. ‘It spotted me.’ Her eyes now locked on her target. It was getting closer, raising the object it had picked up. It looked like a massive bow, as long as he was tall and the same width as his arm. Anala leapt at the figure, spear aimed high. Just as the spear was about to pierce the hood of the figure, it spun, whacking her aside with the bow. It wasn’t a heavy hit, but Anala was knocked back several feet; she stuck the landing and looked up at the intruder to see it wiping blood from its cheek. Pulling the hood back. ‘A man..!? A man!’ Her anger rising as the realization hit home. What was a human doing here and what was he doing to the engines? Now was no time for those questions. Anala rushed the man, stabbing the spear towards his chest, but the monster grabbed the spear mid-thrust and pulled it away from her. Leaving a deep cut in his palm. Anala acted fast, she leapt towards the man’s face. She latched on and scratched furiously, digging as deep as she could, aiming for his eyes, kicking wildly. The intruder dropped the bow and grabbed Anala, throwing her off with a pained shout. He bent down and covered his face with both hands, blood dripping onto the floor below. She had blinded him. Anala didn’t land softly this time, she was sent straight into the nearby wall. The beast recovered before Anala could. It quickly approached her, looking very unhappy in the low light of the room. Just as Anala stood again she felt pressure around her throat, he had gotten her. She was soon held up against the wall, being choked by the man. His face was bloody and torn but set with a silent frown. She swung, trying to reach the man’s throat, but her arms were too short and his too long. She started cutting his arms instead, desperately trying to break free as her vision began to dim. But her attacker’s arms were like logs and wouldn’t budge. As she felt herself about to pass out Anala lashed out one last time. She twisted her body to kick at the man’s chest. He was suddenly launched across the room with a loud *BANG.* Anala hit the ground again, confused and surprised. She looked around the room, wondering if that kick had saved her, then she spotted him. It was Euli! He had the rifle in his hands still aimed at the man, who wasn’t moving now. Anala could hear some muted commotion further down the hall Kala came rushing into the room, barging past Euli. Her ears held low in concern, she came straight for Anala, shouting, “Ana! Are you hurt?” Ana could only respond with a weak smile and a nod before losing consciousness. Her last thought, ‘Who was that man?’ It had been a week since that incident and Anala couldn’t help but think about it, she just couldn’t shake those memories out of her head. Not once or twice, but three times she had a nightmare involving that monster. His face only got more torn and disturbing each time. Now she was living a nightmare. Whatever that intruder had done to their engines was irreversible, Euli tried his best, but they were shot. Anala and her pack were forced to make a rough ‘landing’ on a nearby frontier planet. It wasn’t the roughest of crashes, but everyone was scrambling about, securing what they could as their little ship rattled through the planet’s atmosphere. The rest beyond that is a bit of a blur to her. A sudden lurch and darkness for what seemed like ages her freshest memories. As Anala opened her eyes again she was greeted by Kala, who had that same worried look on her face. “Ana! Oh I’m so glad you’re awake!” Brightening up plenty as Anala blinked to adjust her eyes. She tried to sit up, feeling protest ringing out across every point on her body, she could almost hear the aching pain. “Be careful, you’ve been here since we crashed.” Anala gave Kala a tired smile and asked, “I can feel it too. It’s a good thing you found me.” She paused and pressed against her right side, wincing. Pulling back she saw a fair amount of purple liquid staining her hand. “How’re the others?” She asked, returning her stained hand to her side and applying light pressure. Kala eyed Anala’s side worryingly before responding, “Euli is fine, just a few bumps and bruises. Jin has a few cuts and scrapes. Raime is… he’s not well.” Her ears drooping, her normal aura of cheerfulness gone. Anala nodded as she heard how Euli and Jin were. Her eyes lit up with worry as soon as she saw Kala, the always bright fluffball, lose her light. “Where is he?” She said, standing up much faster than her body wanted to, barely managing to stifle a pained grunt. “You shouldn’t be walking.” Kala stood with her and supported Anala’s injured side. “This way.” A hopeful smile opening up, her ears mimicking the upwards motion. As they approached, some shouting could be heard. “The other arm Euli!” They rounded a warped corner and saw Jin and Euli moving the oversized Raime. Euli and Jin weren’t too far off from average size for an Avali, Euli being thicker and Jin a bit longer. But Raime, he was big. Longer, wider, and stronger than any other Avali Anala’s ever met, standing a good head taller above crowds. Watching the two smaller Avali lift his limp body helped set the importance of their situation into her head. “What are you two doing!?” Kala chirped, her voice straining with apprehension. “You’re tearing him open again!” She half-dropped, half-set-down Anala by the corner and rushed over to the unconscious Raime. She started inspecting his wounds like a mother would inspect her child’s clothing for stains, brisk and precise. “Help Ana over and lay him down.” She commanded. Jin and Euli did so, moving quickly to help Anala limp over to Kala and Raime. Jin asked, “Are you ok Ana?” Making eye contact and giving a reassuring smile. Euli answered before she could. “No, she’s not. There’s a hole over here.” Nodding towards Anala’s discolored side with a worried look. “I’ll be fine, just make sure Raime is ok.” Anala said with a cracking tone, she was certainly not feeling fine. Her head heavy, vision slightly blurry, and her ears ringing with a dull tone, but she was more worried about the large Avali. “It looks like the whole ship fell on him.” Euli and Jin grimaced at that last comment. “He’s stable.” Kala announced. “Set up a tent for these two.” Anala was set down next to Kala and Raime. He was very badly hurt. One arm was relatively unscathed while the other looked like it had gone through a grinder, his legs were painted with cuts. One large gash carved its way into his chest, but worst of all was his ear. One of his four large ears was barely hanging onto his oversized head. Anala was doing well in comparison. The puncture wound in her side and the small cuts and scrapes scattered around her bruised body looked nasty but they couldn’t compare to Raime’s injuries. “He’s going to make it right?” She asked with a concerned look, her voice suddenly clear. “He will be if they can get a tent set up.” Kala called, producing another bandage and wrapping up Raime’s injured ear, weaving the cloth around it with extreme care. “I sure hope no-one saw us go down.” “I hope so too.” Anala said with a heavy cough. She looked at the hand she coughed into and saw small specks of purple in it. ‘But we could use some help.’ Kala gave Anala a sideways glance as she worked the bandages around Raime. “Ana, are you sure you’re ok?” Anala gave a weak nod and mouthed. “Yes.” Before falling unconscious next to her. ***** Anala woke up in complete darkness, her wounds miraculously healed and her senses clear. ‘Huh, where am I?’ She asked herself, standing up and looking around for anything but darkness. Nothing, not a sound or a sight, just complete calm. After standing there look around at nothing, there was a small thump, like something soft had hit the ground. “Ok, who’s there?” She asked the darkness, there was no response for a while, but just as she was about to ask again, a light flickered on in the distance. She stalked towards it quietly, moving slowly. As she got closer she could see what looked like a lone chair, even closer and she could see the silhouette of someone sitting in it. It looked like a prisoner, beaten and battered, its head held low. She continued towards it, the closer she got, the slower she moved. “Hello?” She whispered, but the body didn’t respond, it sat there, still, unkempt hair covering the face. Anala could tell that whoever was sitting in the chair was a man and she switched into a wary stance. Anala circled around the man, looking for anything suspicious. Once she finished her search she closed in on him, moving in from the front. As she came into the light the figure stirred, shaking around in the chair. She stopped and waited for him to hold still again, he did and she continued, trying to get a look at the face of the man. As she moved within spitting distance the prisoner raised his head. Anala’s gut twisted into an endless knot, her expression turning into one showing pure fear. It was him, that same man, the one who had nearly killed her and now haunted her dreams. His face was a complete mess, one eye carrying a deep cut, bloody and blinded, the other looking directly at her. The rest of his face was covered in claw marks, some wounds old enough to be scars, others being fresh enough to crack open at any time. His body wasn’t any better, he wore large bandages around his torso instead of a shirt, all of them stained and worn. Anala didn’t know what to do, her mind was screaming at her to run, but her legs wouldn’t obey. All she could bring herself to do was ask, “What do you want?” Her voice unbelievably shaky. He held the stare for what seemed like forever before answering, “You already know what I want.” His frown turning into a sickening smile as he spoke, the wounds around his mouth threatening to crack open. Anala shrunk under his gaze, not knowing why her body wasn’t moving away from the terror. When he spoke she flinched, expecting him to lunge at her. He started laughing, it was a horrible, grating noise that boomed in her head. Anala grabbed at her ears, hoping to stop the sound, but it only got louder. “If only I could frighten all of you like this.” She curled up into a ball, wanting the man to go away, wanting the help of her pack. He slowly stood up and started walking towards her, that same frown on his face again. No matter how hard she tried Anala couldn’t bring herself to stand and run, only quiver and wait. She expected that same pressure around her throat, but instead felt a cool, calming wind swirl around her. ***** Anala woke up slowly. She could feel something soft under her, it conformed to her back, feeling like a cloud. She opened her eyes and saw the inside of a tent. She rolled onto her side and tried propping herself up, slowly but steadily. The sudden pain caused her to gasp as she did so. She turned onto her rear again and leaned on her injured side, which was neatly covered now. Deciding against prodding her wound she looked around the inside of the spacious tent, to her left was a dinged and dented container with some surprisingly nice clothing resting on it. On her right lied two piles of gauze, one pile clean, the other dirty, there were twice as many stained bandages as there were clean ones. Past the bandages was another pile. Raime, he was wrapped up tight, his upper body resting on a pillow. He was breathing, but only barely, his chest moved steadily but infrequently. Anala shuffled her legs under her and started to stand, feeling drained and weak, her legs wobbling unsteadily as she rose. Once she had completed the task of getting up again she moved over to Raime. The entire upper half of his head was wrapped tight, the tips of his ears peeking out where the bandages ended. She counted them. ‘One, two, three…’ there was no fourth to be found, all of her ears dropped low in response. There was some movement just outside the tent, it sounded like something was shuffling around. Anala crept towards the flaps to the tent and peeked out, spotting Jin carrying some sort of small creature with four legs and thick fur, he looked fresh from a hunt. He stopped and waved a happy wave, saying, “Welcome back Ana! You’ve been asleep for a while.” “Really?” She took a quick look up at the sky of the planet, peeping past the small overhang of the ship. It looked bright, like a morning, but she couldn’t see a sun. “Almost one cycle now, I’m not so sure about how long here though.” His happiness turned into concern. “We’ve been worried about you and Raime.” Anala walked fully out of the tent and surveyed herself. “I’m not doing too badly.” She said with a nod. “But Raime is much worse.” “He’s the toughest Avali I’ve ever met.” Jin said confidently, “He’s made it through worse and he’ll make it through this.” With a reluctant smile Anala nodded her agreement. “Do you want help with that?” Pointing to the carcass with hungry eyes. “No thanks.” He said teasingly. “Kala said she would be coming with food soon.” He walked on. Anala headed off in the opposite direction, listening for her two pack mates. As she slowly walked along, the ache of her body lessened, the hole in her side still giving her trouble. She looked around the crash site, most of the ship was still intact, walls were dented and corners were bent, but nothing large was broken off. Around the site was a small clearing surrounded by trees, all of them large and all of them showing needles instead of leaves. A mix of cold green, white, and the occasional yellow-orange showed through the tree-line, making for a pleasant mix. It wasn’t quite as cold as she would’ve liked it, but it wasn’t too hot either thanks to her temperature regulator. “There you two are!” She called weakly, still a bit louder than she should have with her injury, interrupting herself to press on it. “Ana! You shouldn’t be walking.” Euli said, rushing over to help her to their little site, nestled just next to the main ramp leading into the ship. Kala nearly jumped with surprise, she set her half-finished meal down and lied out a mat and pillow for her, “You need to rest.” Her mouth full. She swallowed and asked. “How’s Raime?” Her face set with a worried look, ears on alert. “He’s breathing, but…” Anala reached up and grabbed her ears, flattening them out against the back of her head. Both Kala and Euli’s ears mimicked the movement and they were silent for a moment, giving eachother somber looks... “He’s alive and that’s what matters.” They said in unison. “You’re right.” Anala admitted, sitting down on the pillow next to Kala. Her stomach rumbled, loud enough to be heard. She eyed Kala’s meal, “Oooh, go ahead.” Kala said, handing the food to Anala. “I’ll go get more.” “Thank you.” Anala’s eyes lit up and she started in on the meal immediately, scarfing it down as fast she could. Euli looked on with surprise as her pearly whites tore into the meat. “I didn’t think it’d been ‘that’ long since you last ate.” He said, a very slight hint of concern entering his voice. Anala simply grunted her acknowledgement, too busy eating to give a proper response. Kala came back out just in time. Anala had set the plate down next to her and looked up at Kala expectantly. Kala handed a sizeable hunk of meat to Anala. “I’m going to check on Raime, don’t eat too much Ana.” One ear twitching in a manner similar to a wink. Anala ate slowly this time, her little burst of energy gone. “Don’t worry, I never could stomach too much.” “You could fool me!” Euli said with a laugh, “You were like a grinder just a moment ago.” “You would be too if you were as hungry!” She protested. As the day went on and night fell everyone settled in, new bandages were applied and preparations were made for the next day. Jinn and Euli slept in the ship, sharing Jinn’s room, one of the few that was relatively untouched. While Anala slept in the medical tent with Raime and Kala. Anala had a dreamless night, she was worried about the following days and about Raime, but deep down she knew they had made it and it was only a matter of time before they made it back home.