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The Burning Plains - Chapter 2 by R. Schlaack
SUMMARY: On a distant world, the daughter of a chieftain finds her destiny on the Burning Plains – against the backdrop of an alien invasion.
"The Gam"(An excerpt from Other Worlds Travel Guide, 3036 Edition):
"... When visiting the grasslands region of the planet Galem, one may be privileged to glimpse a race of creatures known as the Gam. Intelligent beings, they are fully adapted to the harsh environment in which they live, having raised an entire society out of the grassland inferno known as the "Burning Plains".
It is unfortunate that these plains-dwellers are often characterized on earth as "rabbit-men"; a cursory observation could easily label them as such, but upon closer inspection, it is obvious that they are quite different from the diminutive rodents of our home planet. Firstly, they are bipedal, standing upon very large, powerful legs, whose muscle mass is nearly equal to that of the rest of their body. Standing fully erect upon such limbs, a male Gam is well over eight feet in height. These phenomenal legs allow the Gam to run eighty miles an hour over a surprising distance. The Gam facial structure, as well, distinguishes them from rabbits. The back of the skull is catlike, except for the longish, expressive ears; the black-rimmed eyes are forward-facing, remembling a cheetah. The snout and jaws are reminiscent of a camel, yet more graceful, with none of the haughty insolence. The mouth is thin-lipped, with a downward twist at the corners, giving the face a serious air. The teeth of a Gam are quite unique, and have been likened to those of a horse, a pig, or a kangaroo; the jaws can stretch quite wide, allowing for an imposing "dominance yawn". The skin of the Gam is covered in short fur, like a lion's, and has the same tawny camouflage. Their hands are padded and clawed, but opposable digits are present.
Gam villages are widely spaced, and not easily found. Avoiding the swampy rivers, the Gam instead choose higher ground with many shade trees, with area to grow what little crops are available. ..."
The red mud brick of Turi Tn-Gam came into view across the plain. Llardi and her father were moving at a jog, keeping pace with one another through the grass. Toward the west, herd-boys were attending the flocks of Ytteryk which slowly mowed through eyegrass and thorn bushes, leaving patches of stubble in their wake. Already the heat was becoming nauseous and loud, the insects thrumming like a pulse, the air shivering hypnotically.
Moro and the Elder Tka were in the village center when they trotted in. Moro was a younger Gam, very thin, with a lean face; the Elder was more robust, though his fur had long gone gray. He propped himself up with a staff, and his neck was bowed with the weight of his bone pectoral. He watched them silently, steadily, and as they approached he raised a paw in greeting.
"Rahi, my son," he said – Elders had the privelege of calling younger Gam "sons" and "daughters", regardless of rank – "how goes the hunt?"
"Successful," Rahi said, his expression unchanging.
The Elder eyed the Chief. "You have hunted much these past few weeks. Surely the hunters are providing enough?"
Rahi's ear twitched imperceptibly.