The watcher remained still and silent as he observed the impending
confrontation. The two creatures eyed one another across their prize,
each wary of the other's abilities but unwilling to back down.
One raised a chitinous foreleg tentatively as if feeling out the
best place to strike. It flexed its mandibles, crushing jaws capable
of slashing deeply into its foe's body, savaging flesh and organs.
Slowly, it advanced.
The other creature buzzed its wings in a loud warning, a threat of
death and pain against any who would dare face it in battle. Its mouth
parts moved, preparing to deal a cruel bite which not only would tear
flesh and chitin but also inject an irritant poison contained in its
saliva. The watcher knew this well; he had been bitten by its kind
The two beasts crept forward slowly, the winged monster advancing in
short, jerky bursts, as if it was not quite so sure of itself on the
ground, while the mandibled creature proceeded forward slowly and
steadily. Both were very near their prize now. It would be only a
matter of time before one would have to give up its intent or choose to
lock horns with its rival in the elemental duel of mortal combat.
Unwavering beneath the heat of the desert planet, the watcher's gaze
was fixed upon the incipient combatants. A bead of perspiration
trickled down his back, but he forced himself to remain still. He knew
well that any noise or any sudden movement could draw both creatures'
attention away from their current goal and towards him.
The mandibled beast made its move first, charging towards the prize
in an attempt to seize it. Its foe prepared to take wing, to fly in to
salvage its position.
Then, cataclysm struck.
The watcher's head jerked up. The fly buzzed off. The beetle
scuttled off to some dark corner.
"Chaz, stop staring off into space. You're supposed to be doing
your history lessons."
"Yes, Alys," the watcher groaned.
"And just look at this table. You've got crumbs everywhere. If you
don't clean up after yourself once in a while, you'll wind up