|Stort Stories : by Trisha Johnson|
“Mass Extinction - Ottuba Style.”
Some races say nature is a heartless mother, who can bring a new species into existence, and then, her attention drawn to another 'new idea', can turn her back on it and allow it to vanish without shedding a single tear. Nature isn't about conservation: it's about renewal, about taking advantage of an opportunity - a niche, if you will - where life, any life, can flourish. Nature isn't about lions, tigers, Morosaurs, snappers, or slime covered lizards from Lindar, it's just about being alive, however briefly and in whatever guise.
With this in mind, I suppose we shouldn't mourn the passing of the 'long-toothed Hossora', from Corridoor. It was a peaceful, eternally grazing creature, with four legs, a long swishing tail, floppy ears and puppy eyes. It knew nothing of interstellar pulse drives, the passage of time, or where the star that illuminated its world went at night. The vast herds ate as they slowly moved across the broad grasslands, stopping briefly to rest, to drink and, on occasion, to make baby hossora.
The Hossara had nothing to fear from humanoids on Corridoor, there were none - two species of carnivores kept them from breeding out of control. No humanoids, that is, until a nomadic race, the Ottuba, took evasive action to avoid being sucked in by a collapsing star and arrived there by accident.
They couldn't believe their eyes, or their good fortune! The Hossora were enormous creatures, standing a full two meters at the shoulder taller than the one and a half meter tall Ottuba. But what these newcomers lacked in stature, they more than made up in greed and ruthlessness. In the first day, the seventeen Ottuba slaughtered more than two hundred animals. It was more meat than they could have eaten in a year, yet they took only cuts from the haunches - the most tender - and left the remains of the carcasses to rot where they lay. During the night, a veritable army of carnivores descended on the mountain of decaying meat. As the fearsome creatures squabbled and fought, five Ottuba became collateral damage.
The following morning, the remaining Ottuba packed their belongings and headed back to their ship, but not before they removed the scrotums of several of the bulls to act as backpacks in which they carried more of the delicious meat.
Well... The backpacks went down big on the Ottuba's homeworld, so the original group returned to Corridoor for more - changing their course several times on the way so the source of their new found wealth would remain their secret.
Over the next few months, using a variety of techniques, from simply shooting the defenseless creatures with their energy weapons, using ground vehicles to drive an entire herd over a cliff, or an aerial bombardment, they eradicated over half a million Hossora. Under normal circumstances, the Hossora could have absorbed even this rate of attrition, at least for a couple of years or so; but the Ottuba weren't after meat. They wanted backpacks - scrotums - and began to concentrate their murderous efforts on the males alone. Within twenty months, the global population collapsed. The carnivores, the scavengers, and the small creatures that cleaned up the bones and skin, which had gorged on the fallen Hossora and consequently increased their own numbers way beyond the norm, rapidly starved and followed them into extinction.
When their last visit to the planet was over, the Ottuba shrugged, loaded their final, grisly cargo and left. They were smiling all the way to the vaults - no more Hossora meant the value of their 'product' went through the stratosphere. They became rich beyond imagination.
On Corridoor, a small, furry creature, with darting eyes, an opposed thumb on each hand and an agile brain, left the safety of the trees for the wide open savannah. With no predators left to keep its numbers in check, it had all the time in the universe to develop and prosper. It grew taller, more intelligent, discovered fire, and began to use tools. Within five thousand generations, its barking became speech, and mothers began to pass on their hard earned knowledge to their offspring. They called themselves, Nat-Ur-Ban (People of Ban)
And what of the Ottuba? A few artifacts from their civilisation were unearthed, more than eighty millennia ago, by an archaeological expedition from Tantula. There were caches of huge leg bones, broad ribs and large skulls, with two long teeth in the upper jaw. There were also many relief carvings the Ottuba prized so highly. They were found on the interior, stone walls of their houses. A large number of these carvings depicted the 'hunt of the hossora'. Desiccated strips of animal skin were found in graves a few centimeters below the surface of the parched desert sands, which covered the ancient city. These, along with the carvings, were transferred to the Tantula homeworld.
After twenty millennia had ticked by, a few traces of Tantula's civilisation were uncovered by the Gorazi, immigrant colonists from a nearby world, and taken home as trophies. The Gorazi homeworld was eventually laid waste during their fifty year war with the Nat-Ur-Ban.
After decades of bloody conflict with their other neighbors, the Nat-Ur-Ban became the fifty-first race to join the Pandraxi Coalition. As a token of friendship, they presented the representatives of the other member worlds with trophies they had stolen from the Gorazi. Along with a number of vacuum sealed, glass-like vessels containing dried animal skin, they brought several dozen leg bones, a dozen broad ribs and three large skulls, each with two long teeth in the upper jaw. But their most prized possession, which they kept for themselves, was a one meter square section of a stone wall. On one corner, it was just possible to make out the head, neck and forelegs of a strange creature. Its eyes were large, almost puppy-like, and its ears flopped against its neck.
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