Long before the Kinslayer arrived where the slain kin had danced the hive of the meat animals lay, the heady, damp spoor of them caused the Need to whip up like a brewing storm. So many manys of scents! More than the stinger’s camp. More than the hive in the trading post. The senses of the Kinslayer were nearly overwhelmed. One had to stop and pant and concentrate upon the Purpose or it would slip away. Be buried like one grain of sand in a shifting dune. Sift. Sift the scents. Find the Necessary one.
In the cooling night, the heat bloom of the hive of the meat animals became visible like moonrise as it crawled on. Staying low as the winds threatened to whip it away. Testing continually for the spoor which mattered. The Necessary one.
The drone of a stinger’s machine bird caused one to bury deep and hold still until it passed, even stopping One’s internal organs. There were dangerous animals in this hive. Those-which-hunted-harvesters. One must truly focus. Choke down the Need. Quiet One’s internal turmoil of Need and Purpose for the most base purpose and need: survival. All went bl-
-ack and then all came back slowly, quietly, carefully as One’s processes came back to life. Senses stretching to detect threat. If there were the metal birds, there would be the undrinkable lizards, the metal ears, the long eyes, all the tricks of the Hunters-of-Harvesters including the Hunters themselves in their metal animals, armored, stinging, dangerous. Shepherding their flocks of Harvester-hunting-machines. One crawled low and slowly through the troughs between dunes. One went wide around when One encountered a machine or an animal-within-a-machine. One was careful. More careful than one could ever remember being. The Purpose had given the Kinslayer…a thought it had no cast, dance or sign for. Purpose. Mission. Primary Order. Need. All these and none of these and more than these.
Just before sunrise, the hive of the meat animals became visible. A dying oasis. Muddy standing water and drying trees surrounded by the stone nests of the meat animals and a camp of the Stinging-hunters just outside. The Kinslayer ached to begin the search. To move into the hive and find the scent of the Necessary one. It rivaled the Need. It rivaled the Fear of having rebelled against the Collective. It rivaled the Fear of the Factor. One was Enemy-of-kin. One was Kinslayer and Harvester-no-longer and all because of the Purpose. The Need-to-find-the-Necessary-One.
One needed to be patient. The Effective Clutch, broken now, would inform the Factor of the existence of the hive of the meat animals sometime in the next cycle. The Swarm would then assemble for an all out assault. It would take time. The Kinslayer had maybe two or three cycles to search before the Swarm came. All depended upon the Kinslayer.
The sun broke the edge of the desert. The heat came like an angry Factor. The light meant no cover and dryness for One’s crop. One must conserve. One must be patient. One buried One’s self and calmed One’s processes. All went bl-