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Sandworms Aren't for Dissecting [story, ooc welcome]


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((Copy-pasta from RP done in the CRA's IC chatbox. A little bit of pre-Calamity roleplay from the Hipparion tribe! Set roughly three years before the devastating event.))




K'airos stretched her arms upwards. Or rather, one arm: the other was busy holding a piece of meat, tightly tied up with a thin rope she had made herself. They looked hilarious, the meat and the rope: it was like some small skinless creature had ran between some bushes and got stuck with every single leaf and branch, becoming trapped in the process. Of course, that was not the case. The meat wasn't a small creature, but rather a portion of one: a poor sandworm has given his life to feed the tribe. Its reward: three arrows to the snout and a lance in the back. The Miqo'te rubbed her forehead, sweat forming under her hand. The desert had been, as usual, excruciatingly hot. Following the huntresses under such heat was not something she enjoyed.


Except when there was a young male between their ranks. Then things changed. Today, though, there was none, so she was left with only a piece of badly tied meat in her hand and the promises of her mother's numerical lessons. She sighed, and looked around.


K'aijeen was not a sneaky child. Still well before the age where she would begin to accompany the hunters out, she was right at that awkward point between childhood and adulthood where was the most annoying she would ever be. So K'aijeen, almost as tall as an adult, ran right behind K'airos with all the energy of a child, grabbed her older sister by the tail for absolutely no reason, and began to rattle off quick, higher pitched words, "What's that is it still alive no wait it's dead it's not even the whole worm but hey can I play with it? I'll go get my knife!" And then released K'airos' tail to run off again.


K'airos' tail curled down as soon as it was released. She turned around and opened her mouth to speak, but her sister was already running away. "Wait...?" she mumbled, in a brief moment of confusion.


K'aijeen went into the cluster of tents the tribe had been living out of recently, tore into the tent she shared worth her mother, and clattered headfirst into her "things," which was a hodgepodge pile of paraphernalia that included a knife she wasn't supposed to possess. This in hand, she jumped backwards to the flap that kept the wind and heat out, shouting as she went, "Mom, K'Airos is back!" without bothering to see what her mother was doing or if she was even present. In all, she was in the tent for only a few seconds before she was running back towards K'airos with a knife flickering in her hand.


K'airos squinted, raising her open palm towards the sudden running knife-wielding Miqo'te that her sister had become in the past few seconds. "Wait!" she yelled, with a bit of a giggle. "This is dinner!"


"I know. I just wanna cut it into little pieces for you!" She ran a quick circle around K'airos before leaning in for a closer look, "What piece is this? Does it have lots of veins? Is it stringy!?"


She jerked the meat away and up, moving it to the opposite side and holding at head level. "These are not veins! It's my rope. And you can only cut down your piece at dinner. Not before!"


"That's not good for my education!" K'aijeen gestured in frustration, mostly with the knife, the point of which flicked about dangerously in her young hand. "I'll tell mom. Mom! Mom, K'airos says I don't need to learn more!"


"K'aijeen is trying to murder our dinner! Again! That's not learning!" she yelled back to the tent.


K'piru had in fact been present when K'aijeen made her whirlwind stop-and-go through the small tent, but she'd been far too wrapped up in her current task to spare more than a mildly chiding glance at the child's tail as it whipped back behind the door flap. A low noise of complaint brought her attention back to the young man in front of her, crouched in the sand with his wiry arm held up in front of her, exposing a rather nasty gash. Sandy blonde hair looked up at her in frustration and K'piru shook her head while she finished applying a poultice of herbs and rendered sandworm fat. "I wouldn't try pushing K'raqi until you've learned to not stand in the way of his attacks," she turned her chiding on the young man with a smile and then straightened, standing away from him. Her ears perked briefly at a high-pitched shout from outside and K'piru sighed, gesturing towards the door. "You'll be fine. Keep it clean." With that she turned and pushed outside, squinting for several seconds as her eyes rapidly adjusted to the bright sun of the Sagoli Desert. A short distance away she could see to pairs of red hair bobbing up and down, one dancing in wild excitement around the other. "Patience, Aijeen!" She called and began to make her way towards them.


"No!" She pointed her knife at K'piru, though the child likely had no idea as to the depth such a gesture could hold, "Mom, you say learning's important! I'm not hungry, I just wanna get at the worm's insides while they're still fresh!"


Expression sombering quickly, K'piru stepped right up to K'aijeen and said in a firm tone, "Drop that, now, before you hurt someone or yourself."


K'airos walked quickly towards K'aijeen, using her free hand to grab her sister's, the one holding the sharp piece of metal. "That's mine. I dropped it and she picked it up!" she interjected, looking at her sister and nudging her head to a side in what she hoped was a clear sign of conspiracy.


Aijeen struggled briefly and began to protest in a voice that overflowed with pride, "I should be allowed to have a knife! Hunters and shaman both need knives and I need it to learn about dead things!" After that, though, she stilled, made a face, and muttered, "Fine. It's K'airos' knife."


"Is it," K'piru's tone was dubious, but this wasn't a battle she wanted to fight today. Instead she said, "Then hand it back to her. Properly."


K'airos took her mother's tone as a sign of victory. She smiles and looked at K'aijeen.


K'aijeen reached up and took the knife with her other hand, carefully and demurely by the blade, and extended the handle towards K'airos, "Here. Take it."


"Thank you!" She patted her hair in reward. Was it a reward? She sure thought it was. While she did that, she looked at K'piru and raised the tied up meat. "I have brought dinner! Killed this part myself!"


When the knife was taken from her hands, K'aijeen let her arms drop limp to her side, shoulders slump, and gave K'piru a pout that silently proclaimed everything she ever loved had been taken away.


K'piru watched the exchange of the weapon with a critical eye before letting out a silent breath of relief. It was not the first time she'd caught K'aijeen with a knife, but though she suspected the young girl was hiding the truth from her, there were better times and places than late morning in the middle of their current camp to confront her about it. Instead she turned a smile on her other daughter. "Excellent, Airos! You're taking right after Airi, it seems. But don't wave it around like that you'll smack someone in the face!"


K’aijeen brooded in what she thought was undetectable silence, "Maybe she'll smack you in the face."


She dropped her arm, letting it swing with the weight of the meat. She didn't have a moment to smile, since Aijeen's quite detectable words made her turn the head and open her mouth to speak herself, "Uh...I saw someone at the tent. Who is it?"


"That's not a nice thing to say," K'piru says in an unfased tone, looking briefly to K'aijeen. Then to K'airos, "Your cousin got himself in trouble with K'raqi again. It's nothing to worry about."


K'aijeen tilted her head back so that she was looking at K'airos upside down, "He wants to be the Nunh so us girls like him more, I think."


She stopped, thinking a moment, gazing into the air. Then she declared "But he's nice already. It's not like we have a lot of men to choose from."


"That's not something you should have to worry about just yet," K'piru said with a chuckle and moved around the two girls to put a hand on each of their shoulders. "You think he's nice, Airos?" A gentle pressure urged them forward and she said offhandedly, "That meat needs to be prepared or it will go bad soon."


K'airos tried not to blush. She failed miserably. Thankfuly, the dinner she was holding catched her attention quickly. "Let's go do that, Aijee."


On policy, K'aijeen resisted the urging for a moment before rolling out, running around K'piru and taking hold of K'airos' tail. She didn't pull on it, but just let herself get lead by it, "Yes! Do let us go and prepare the specimen!"


"It's food, not a specimen," K'piru reminded, though mostly out of habit than anything. "You can watch and ask questions, but don't get in her way."


The tail twitched and tried to curl down. K'aijeen's hand was in the way, so it didn't go all the way down. "Maybe we should let her stab it a little." she joked.


"I am not going to stab it," she said, and turned up her nose, "I am going to dissect it, just like in the books."


"That's just a fancy word for stabbing."


"No. It is a specific word for a specific kind of stabbing. Tell her I'm right, mom!"


"You can't dissect our meals," K'piru offered obligingly. "We can't eat the meat taken apart like that." She continued to urge K'airos, and by extension K'aijeen, along, towards a skin spread out along a rack between the tent she'd come from and another nearby. Another huntress was already there, cutting up a large hunk of flesh to better stretch it out along the rack.


When K'aijeen noticed the huntress cutting meat, she jumped towards the woman without letting go off Kairos' tail, "Hey what is and how did it die?"


K’aijeen's jump pulled K’airos along roughly, making her give two steps sideways towards her. "Aijee!." she protested.


"Don't pester her, Aijeen," K'piru called after. 


The huntress just smiled and shook her head, short, dark hair bouncing heavily in its braids. "You should know sandworm by now, young thing," the huntress replied and then went back to her work.


With a voice of complaint, "But how did it die? How long did it take? Did it make any interesting sounds?" Her hands wrong K'airos' tail in frustration as she questioned.


"Aijee!" she repeated, yanking her tail out of her sister's hands. "I'll tell you how it died: stabbed by a lance. And the sound it made was this." She made a cute squeaking noise. She frowned at it. She wanted to make a fearsome squeaking noise.


"That is not what it sounded like."


"How do you know? You weren't there!"


"It's a sandworm," the huntress shrugged and looked to K'piru with a raised eyebrow. 


The other woman sighed at that and moved to put her hands on K'aijeen's shoulders, bodily directing her to a spot on the edge of the skin. "Watch," she advised. "Ask your questions to K'airos, hm?"


K'aijeen tossed a dissenting frown at K'piru, "You're a dictator," and then, to K'airos, "You should let me flay it. I'm sure I'll do a good job."


K'airos hung the meat from the rack. "I'll let you flay a small section and if you do it right I'll let you do half."


"And if I do half right you'll let me do all?" K'aijeen gave K'airos a hopeful smile.


Setting her hands on her hips, K'piru watched the pair in silence for now, her tail swishing slowly behind her.


"Sure." she answered. "But first only a small piece! Then half. Then the whole thing."


"Hehe!" K'aijeen smiled so wide her cheeks stretched and her teeth showed, eyes wide away and tail flicking back and forth swiftly behind her. "I'll show you! Knife, please!"


K'airos handed the knife in respectful silence before stepping back, leaving plenty of room for K'aijeen to slaughter the piece of worm meat.


Narrowing her eyes, K'piru watched carefully, body poised to swoop in at the first sign of trouble. She was so thoroughly distracted by observing her daughter with the knife that she never noticed a body move up behind her until a pair of rough hands clamped over her eyes, K'piru squawked, there was the sound of male laughter behind her, but she knew who it was even before she heard him. "Thalen! This is a serious moment!"


K'aijeen's attention was wholly consumed by the meat. Her expression was overjoyed to the point of being maddened even as she very carefully turned the meat sidelong and began to carve into it, just like she'd observed in the past. She didn't even notice her mother's squawk.


Dragging the hands from her eyes, K'piru held onto them to keep them from wandering back up - or elsewhere - and returned her gaze to K'aijeen, lips pursed. She felt a chin rest on her shoulder and a low voice next to her ear said in a stage whisper, "What you are about to witness is a feat of brilliance never seen before across all the sands!"


K'airos glanced at the couple. "Hello, dad." she said smiling, but her tone came out as neutral.


K'aijeen continued to cut into the meet with incredible skill and precision, proclaiming, "Dad knows I'm the best there is."


K'airos looked impressed at K'aijeen's progress. She gaped a little.


"Don't hold the blade so close to your fingers!" K'piru warned from where she stood, leaning forward slightly onto her toes.


K'aijeen looked over her shoulder at K'piru, "I know what I'm doing," and he tail, standing up behind her and flicking back and forth at its tip, also communicated her confidence. "Dad, mom is mothering me. She's mothering me to death again!"


"Aw, let her mother a bit. You're still alive!" He dug his fingers into K'piru's shoulders a bit in an absently soothing gesture.


 Her tail lashed in a tight pendulum behind her, knocking against the inside of one of his legs. "I'm saving your fingers, Aijeen," she chided. "You don't want to walk around with three fingers."


K'airos chuckled.


"Yeah," K'thalen added with a sharp laugh, "Have you /seen/ your grandma? Hah!" At that K'piru frowned and flicked her ears back towards the miqo'te behind her.


K'aijeen rolled her eyes and proclaimed, "This is boring." She then proceeded to turn the meat lengthwise and flay it open in a single deft gestured that left its insides visible and went completely against good butchering, "I wanna see the good parts!"


"He-hey!" she yelled. "That's not how you do it!"


"K'aijeen Thalen, I told you, that is food, not a toy," K'piru scolded. She would've stomped over to the girl and extricated the knife from her hand had K'thalen's hands not held tight to her shoulders. She turned to give him an annoyed look, at which he only smiled and shrugged.


"But look!" She twisted her head and cut in past a bunch of tense pinks fibers, revealing a nest of gray stringy stuff that twitched visibly, "That's... uhm... Thinking cords. Can I have 'em?"


K'airos took upon herself the duty of stomping over her sister. "Aijeen, you are ruining our food! Give me your -I mean- my knife back!"


She was busy cutting in to get at the gray stuff, "Just gimme a sec. I already ruined it as much as I'm going to."


Shaking free of K'thalen's grip, K'piru took a moment to straighten herself before leveling a stern look in K'aijeen's direction, hands going to her hips. "No, you can't have them. You said you would prepare the meat." She stepped over to K'aijeen and very carefully reached down to still her arms. "That is not what you're doing."


Kaijeen took a super deep breath and then let loose with a very whiney, "MoooooooooOOOOOOOOOOM STOOOOOOOOP!"


Well accustomed to these tantrums, K'piru's only reaction to the whine was an annoyed flick of her tail and the flattening of her ears. She kept her grip on K'aijeen's arms and moved them gently away from the carcass. "No, what was the deal you made with K'airos?"


She stamped her feet, "Screw the deal! I want the thought fibers! Dad I want the thought fibers!"


K'airos dropped an annoyed glance on the butchered meat. "You were doing so well" she said, one hand holding the well-cut skin. She pouted, her tail curving upwards. She then turned towards her sister, leaning over and getting very close to her.


"Oh no, don't bring your father into this," K'piru began, working her hand up to K'aijeen's to try and carefully extricate the knife from her fingers. "That's not how this works."


"I'm not letting you cut anything we are supposed to eat!"


K'thalen, for his part, held his hands up a bit helplessly. "Sorry, hon, you know your mom. I don't stand a chance against her!"


K'aijeen, seeing no chance for success, let K'piru take the knife from her hand before ducking low and dodging out from between her mother and sister. She runs over beside K'thalen, grabs one of his shoulders and tries to vault onto his back. Three years ago that would've worked out great, but now she was nearly the size of K'airos.


K'airos took her own knife and turned around to salvage the meat. "I guess we are having an early dinner today."


K'thalen managed to hold his ground, though his legs did bend with K'aijeen's weight. Tanned arms twist to grab her by the waist and swing her around to the side. "Woah there, gonna break my back if you're not careful! I'm olllllld now, you know." He then leaned down to whisper to K'aijeen, "Don't be too mad at your mom. She's just doing her job, huh? And maybe we can get you some of those 'thought fibers' later."


K'aijeen threw her arms around her father's neck in a quick affectionate hug, "Sorry, dad. If we go get more worms later will you let me watch them die?"


K'piru shook her head, running her fingers through her hair. "It's alright, Airos. Though I hope you'll consider this the next time your sister asks for the knife."


K'airos just pouted, focus on the work at hand.


K’thalen’s expression faltered briefly, but the smile returned before it can be noticed. "That's up to the huntresses to decide if you're ready or not, isn't it?"


"I'm ready. You tell them! They'll believe you!" She hopped back from K'thalen, nodded once, flicked her tail twice.


Pointing at the ravaged meat, K'airos said: "I think this has more weight than dad's words."


Petting K'aijeen's head, K'thalen straightened, arching his back until it popped. "Ooh, I don't know. I know a few of 'em pretty personally," he said with a wink. 


At this, K'piru looked up from her brooding over K'airos's work with a sharp frown and a, "Not around the kids!"


K'aijeen spun to look at K'piru, "Most of the huntresses are moms to Dad's other kids so they'll listen."


There was a pause in K'airos work. "But would you have the patience to not jump into a sandworm's maw to stare at its teeth? That is the real issue!"


"Teeth aren't interesting." K'aijeen pointed at her head, "I need fresh brains."


"Maybe they will, but you can't just take things like this for yourself, Aijeen. We all need the meat and skin and shells of the worms to survive." K'piru leaned her head slightly and then nodded at K'airos. "Your sister has a point as well."


"And who needs the brain? Aijeen does."


"I'll get you a brain the next time the huntresses take me with them." she shrugged.


K'aijeen's ears twitched and pointed straight back on her head, "You'll damage it!"


"Well, I'll bring you the whole head!"


K'piru's brow creased. "Don't make promises like that, Airos. You know you may not be able to keep them."


K'aijeen stood in silence, tail whipping back and forth frantically, watching her mother and sister in a state of agitation.


"I'll bring her the whole head." she repeated. She finished with the meat shortly after, and moved towards the tenth. "I'm going to take a nap now. If K'thrup comes by...uh...tell him hi?"


"You better bring me the whole head!" K'aijeen finished by pointing at Airos.


Moving up alongside K'aijeen, K'piru shook her head slightly. "We've got some studying to do, I think," she said to the girl and then to K'airos, "I'll be looking for you in an hour."


She threw a hand in the air, disappearing inside the tent. A loud thump was heard afterward, the sound of the girl throwing herself against her improvised bed.


K'aijeen looked at her mother like she was insane, then wide-eyed as if in a panic, "Actually! I'm going to take a nap too!" And she took off towards the tent.

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