Hovering just above the tops of the odd-looking trees, the gigantic insect had its long snout stuck into one of the large, yellow with purple squiggles about the petals, flowers. Each branch of the Zada-3 Rain Catcher, as Mr. Mason and his team called the tree, was graced at its tip with a flower, the larger the branch the bigger the flower. In making Zada-3 the most visited planet in the Mason travel repertoire, Timothy Mason had spent months plotting the locations that gained his clients the most spectacular, unforgettable, and inspiring views.
Acrellies Hill was one of those locations with its summit plateauing so nicely two and a half feet above the grove of Conlectus Brates, the trees official designation as provided by the Grand Taosan Galactic Empire’s Ministry of Exo Planetary Flora and Fauna. The Red and Green Zeda-Celinthemis in threes come to feed on the nectar of these flowers when they are in bloom. Many of his clients come to Zeda-3 just to see this wildly beautiful display of life.
Relien Ogart and his wife Prim, of the planet Frelbin, the fourth planetary system to join the Grand Taosan Galactic Empire, were Mr. Mason’s clients on this visit to Zeda-3. They intended to stay for six months. Professor Relien a prominent Professor at the University of Frelbin planned on bringing two groups of students to visit Zada-3 over the course of the adventure. Joannes Trelk, Mr. Mason’s resident Adventure Travel Guide on Zeda-3 was keeping watch on the hills west slope.
Violet and purple wisps flowed through the large yellow blooms. The red and green bugs as big as a large dog, flit and flittered about, always in groups of threes, once a group had finished feeding they would fly off and moments later another group of three would appear and begin the graceful dance.
Every so often an even larger, featherless, winged predator would stalk the trees from high above wishing to snag and devour the Celinthemis. Both creatures being observant and fast, the aerial pursuits were as spectacular as a dog fight of the Grand Celestial fleet, in maneuvers above Otrio. What Mr. Trelk was watching for however was the Lorches herd that periodically made its way through the wide flat valley below. The mammoth quadrupedal herbivores traveled a vast area of the planet.
Scientists had yet to determine if the herd instinctually moved before devastating through overgrazing the Fauna they subsisted on or if they were uniquely driven from one area to another by the carnivorous monstrosities that hunted them.
Joannes Trelk radioed Mr. Mason. “Boss looks like we timed it well, the herd is on the move. I’ll give a Plebian Coral Coin that a trio of Spectroleen is stirring in the jungle to the North of the herd.”
“Awesome Joannes, I think a few more minutes with the Celinthemis, and I will move Relien and Prim to your location so they can see Zeda-3’s gargantuan beasts.”
“Unending sites to see Relien, I’m telling you. Sometimes I spend days right here on Acrellies Hill and get to see something new and spectacular every time,” Timothy said as he pulled the rover up to the west side of the plateau.
“What you are going to see here Prim, are two of the largest creatures on Zeda-3, the lorches a herd animal, herbivores and if our timing is right the Spectroleen an apex predator that follows the herd and feeds every three weeks or so.”
The valley was a quarter of a mile below them, but the great beasts were still significant on the landscape, hundreds of them moving slowly into a large clearing surrounded by dense vegetation. Relien and Prim watched with their naked eye as well as on the sixty-four-inch view screen, which provided images sent by several autonomous drones, that flew about the herd.
“Sir, there it is, grid A6, and another of the group at H9,” Joannes said.
Mr. Mason pointed the locations out on the screen to Prim and Relien, touching the control pad, he enlarged these areas to give the couple a better view. “This is going to be brutal and bloody, fair warning.”
Slowly the Spectroleen inched forward, closer, and closer to the thin veil of vegetation separating it from the open and the herd. Then as one of the Lorches came nearer the edge of the clearing than the others the predator lept, the massive predator burst into the clearing with amazing speed for its size. Prim jumped back from the screen letting out a squeak of exasperation. Its initial leap landed just shy of the Lorches. The prey began to run and trumpet an alarm to the rest of the herd, others near it began to run. The ground shook under their feet. The Spectroleen gave chase.
Suddenly the second Spectroleen came crashing through the vegetation further up from the first in the direction the herd was traveling. “now watch,” Mr. Mason said pointing, “This beast is not pursuing a particular Lorches, see how it is coming out toward the center of the valley?”
Prim and Relien watch in amazement as the monstrous predator bounded out into the midst of the herd then turned to face those that had started running, spurred forward in fear from the initial attack, and roared. The Lorches behind it began running but those to its front already running turned Sharpley left or right or stopped.
“Oh, my,” Relien said as he watched the massive Lorches collide with each other, stumble, fall, or just stand still in shock. Most were still running and the Spectroleen were just standing there roaring and watching the herd. For the Taosan observers, it felt as if a large extended earthquake were unfolding, the once in a lifetime spectacle continued before them. The massive beasts colliding, stumbling, falling, as the predators watched.
One by one the Lorches that kept their senses and were agile enough passed by the Spectroleen that stood in their midst. Five or so had collided and fell on each other creating piles of writhing monstrosities. Then the Spectroleen attacked one by one and killed the Lorches that had fallen with bloody proficiency. Then as they fed, they would make an odd call. Soon another grown Spectroleen and two significantly smaller beasts immerged from the jungle.
“Keep in mind that you two are among seven Taosans that have witnessed a Spectroleen family hunting and feeding. Only seven in the entire galaxy,” Mr. Mason said.
“Yes,” Relien shouted with excitement! “That was amazing. Oh my, the intelligence and cunning of the Spectroleen, do they ever show interest in the drones or you?”
“I don’t suppose so, not as long as these massive herds exist. It would be a blunder beyond blunders for us to stumble onto one of them in our travels about the planet. But anything is possible, I guess.” Mr. Mason said, shivering at the thought.
The four previous Mr. Mason’s Adventures in the Grand Taosan Galactic Empire can be read here at my website tmarkmangum.com or at the following links here on Medium.
Mr. Mason is a chapter or two at a time original, first rough draft of a Story about Mr. Mason. The Tour Guide from…
Copyright: T. Mark Mangum, 2020. All rights reserved. No part of my story may be copied, reprinted, or published without my written consent.
T. Mark Mangum, is the product of the 60s and 70s, his imagination, wonder, thoughts, and ponderings, emboldened by Star Trek, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, and The Hobbit. He loves a good story and hopes you will love reading his stories. Veteran, Father, TTRPG, and Board Game Junkie. He spent 20 years in the United States Army, another 10 working for the government, before realizing he should write.