The Lupine Massacre
This next story has some rather unsettling elements, but it has grown in legend on the planet of Lupinia.
The Lupine people, a race of wolf like humanoids, live simple, peaceful lives for the most part. Mostly nomadic, they will often call out before moving into unknown territory, asking any who might be around if they might hunt or rest. This call is punctuated with a long, and mournful sounding howl. Outsiders can’t tell the differences in the Lupine many songs that are used to communicate over great distances, but the Lupine can easily tell the difference between a Song of Mourning, a Song of Joy and a Call for the Hunt.
Only the Jackai, the hostile jackal like humanoids who live in neighbouring territories can truly tell the differences in the howls. If the Lupine are close enough, the Jackai will often call back with a series of cackles. The cackle is used to mock any pack who may come too close to the neutral territories between Lupine and Jackai lands. Often, this is signal enough for the Lupine pack to move on. They would rather hunt and tend to the rest of the pack than fight against Jackai for territory.
On the rare occasion, Lupine packs will have no choice but to hunt along the neutral territories. When this happens now, many other packs will join them, creating not only a huge hunting party, but also defense against the Jackai. There is a reason for this, and it ends in sorrow.
Over a hundred years ago, before Lupine and Lionid people began venturing into space with their own vessels, one Lupine pack found a hunting spot along the border of the territories. After setting up their tents and making sure their supplies were in good order, the hunters began to disperse. Most were gone only a few hours before coming back with food. One warrior, Wind Feet, named for his speed in the hunt, was gone for nearly two days before he managed to find a decent kill. He celebrated with a song of joy, but received no return call.
Save for cackles.
The Jackai were near, and with his kill he raced back to his pack, only to find the worst. Lupine packs are like small villages and towns, with one exception. The pack is the family. When Wind Feet returned, every single Lupine was dead, and the encampment was destroyed as tents were burned, food supplies ravaged, and weapons destroyed. Every single Lupine in the pack, from pup to elder, was dead. Wind Feet’s song of mourning is said to have lasted for days before another pack found him.
Wind Feet used to be a jovial Lupine, but after this incident, his demeanor turned sour. He had become a lone wolf, no pack to associate with. He was still young, and in a way, was determined to seek out some form of justice. No one knew why exactly, but Wind Feet sent out hails to the Royal Vulpine Academy. He determined that if his place with his pack was destroyed, then his place was among the stars.
He graduated with full honours from the Academy, and was offered a position with the Vulpine Authority. He became a bounty hunter. As he had become, he was a lone wolf with his own space vessel. He grew to trust only a few individuals in the space lanes, which included one Pantheran science vessel, a Vulpine destroyer and surprisingly, a Jackai salvage ship.
The salvage ship turned out to give him the best information, most likely because of her captain. A Jackai female named Red Streak. On Lupinia, Red Streak was to be used as a whore by the largest of the Jackai packs that roamed the plains. But she wouldn’t have any of that, and fought off several pack warriors, killing six of them. Outraged, the pack elder banished her from the realm, forcing her to walk the neutral territories. Eventually, she found the salvage ship that used the neutral territory to refuel. While she wasn’t treated much better by any standard, she wasn’t used as a whore. She had to fight for respect, and eventually, she was given the title of captain when the salvage ship passed hands.
Red Streak and Wind Feet would often talk in hushed tones, as he gathered information or collected supplies or traded with them.
“Your crew distances themselves from me.”
“That’s because they’re afraid of you.”
“I can sense that, but how do you know?”
“Because they’re afraid of me as well.”
“You have a new crew member.”
“Picked him up the last travel into the neutral territories for terrestrial supplies. A wanderer, but he seemed good with a wrench, so I put him in charge of reclamation. He doesn’t like me, all that well, which I admit the feeling is mutual. He has the stink of death on him.”
“He’s killed? You’ve killed, so what’s the difference.”
“When I killed it was in defense. This one killed for pleasure. And I don’t think it was other Jackai. I have my suspicions he used to lead a raiding party.”
Raiding party was what Lupine and Jackai called those Jackai packs who attacked Lupine packs. Wind Feet asked Red Streak to keep him informed of this new crew member’s actions. There might very well be justice for his pack. Because Wind Feet recognized the scent, the same scent he caught when his pack was destroyed.
Five weeks later, Wind Feet had issued an official proclamation with the Vulpine Authority. He had suspicions that a Jackai raider was in the employ of a salvage ship. He warned that the salvage ship was innocent of any charges, as was her captain and her crew save for one Jackai. Wind Feet also gave a name and image of the Jackai in question.
Range Runner was his name, and he was an undesirable looking Jackai, even by Jackai standards. He had several wounds all over his body that never healed properly, signs that at one time in his life he suffered from mange. Maybe it was the disease that drove him mad, but Wind Feet soon found out that Range Runner was responsible for the murder of fourteen Lupine packs, and the murder of all eight members of his own pack.
Wind Feet sent a wave to Red Streak, and she covertly informed other crew members she could trust that they had a wanted criminal on board. Red Streak gave Wind Feet a simple warning.
“If you’re going to claim his bounty, better start chasing tail now. Because I can’t guarantee he’ll be alive when you get here.”
With Critainian escort, Wind Feet met the salvage ship in orbit around Vulpine. Range Runner was confronted, and while he tried to use the Jackai crew to help back him up, using words that they were Jackai and stick together, Red Streak and her crew just threw him toward Wind Feet and his Critainian guards. Wind Feet had a few choice words for him.
“I know you, Range Runner. You cackled at my song of mourning after you destroyed my pack.”
“Then why don’t you kill me now.”
“I’d disrespect the Authority and I’d disrespect Red Streak and her crew. If this was the neutral territories, I would take great joy in ripping the flesh from your bones and leaving you for the vultures. But we’re in orbit around Vulpinia, so I am bound as a bounty hunter of the Vulpine Authority to bring you in. You will receive a trial, and most likely you will serve time on Pau Theta 1. But during that time, I’m going to spread word of your murderous rampage. No one, from Critain to Canin, will want to have a thing to do with you. The only place you will have to exist will be the neutral territories on Lupinia. So why don’t you meditate on that.”
It’s said Range Runner served his time until he became very, very old. During his incarceration, Wind Feet made sure to visit him at least once a week. Upon his release, he was taken back to the neutral territories on Lupinia. Lupine packs to this day say when they pass by one area of the territories, they can hear a song of mourning, that seems to shift into cackling howls and ends in mournful sobbing.