The off white glow of the lanterns that are strung in long tubes across the ceiling fills the terminal. Tegin steps from the ramp among the other passengers into the babel of too many conversations. Row upon row of people sit while others stand, and all speak of nothing. With many hurried glances, the other passengers give way before her as she leaves the Away chambers.
The golden strands of thick grass swayed gently with the breeze. Tegin took in the scent of the warm dry grain and detected the faint traces of Colya. She knelt below the level of the grass and moved on all fours against the wind.
The voices of the races that Tegin walks past hush into whispers. They turn and follow her passage along the corridor trying not to be heard nor noticed. She hears every word and recognizes her race name in every language used.
The scent of the Colya was stronger and did not hold the sharp sweet taint. Tegin kept close to the ground while each hand and paw touched silently in turn against the earth.
The Apsun mother holds an arm around her child and does not take her eyes off Tegin. They stand in a line that has formed and inches towards a sign that reads of Planetside. Tegin folds her arms across her chest and smiles at the mother. A smile that reveals her sharp teeth.
Doe. Mess. Tick.
Her ears bent flat against her head, she lifted her head enough to see the Colya grazing at the tufts of the grass. The color of her fur matched the grass, and the Colya that looked in her direction did not notice her.
The official holds his pad between himself and Tegin as he types upon its surface. He presses one key and his hand turns into a fist. The corners of his mouth twitch into a lopsided smile, and he shrugs his shoulders. Taking a step back from her, he begins to type over again. She tastes the first traces of the sharp sweet smell from the official. She smiles.
Doe. Mess. Tick. Ate.
Tegin growled. The Colya started and ran. She was up and after them. Among them, she ran. The roar of many hooves filled her. The Colya scattered.
From a small pouch at her side, Tegin removes the card. The official reaches his hand out. She holds the cold piece of iron towards him. His hand trembles slightly as his fingers move to touch the great weight that she holds.
The breeze felt strong against her. Tegin followed one of the Colya. Hands clenched. Claws extended. The distance between them died.
The official holds the metal card against the top of his pad. His eyes scan what he holds. The scent is blown away by the hollow wind of the air-compressors.
Her teeth sank into the Colya's neck. A fiery liquid flowed down her throat. The body shuddered beneath her claws. Its lungs labored but could not pull air past her jaws.
The official removes the metal card from the pad and holds it down towards her.
Doe. Mess. Tick. Ate. Id.
Tegin accepts the card.