The three Vrekans gathered around the Captain and his campfire, shivering from the cold. Border patrol was their least favourite job, and the weather as of late had been unbearable. Rain, hail, storms, every sort of negative weather they could imagine.
“Captain, can we take a break now?”
“Yes, but you must remain close. This time of year, the Banikans are grumpy.”
The tallest of the three Vrekans shrugged. “Aren’t they always grumpy, Captain?”
The Captain tutted, then threw a log into the fire. Because the wood was damp, it burnt slowly, letting out a puff of smoke. He understood the Vrekan’s comment. After all, Banikans were ferocious beings. But they’d never studied the Banikans. In fact, they’d hardly seen any while they were on duty.
“You could say that, yes, little one. Come, sit down.”
The Vrekans removed their backpacks, filled with assorted camping gear and supplies, and each of them removed a collapsible stool, which they delicately sat on, being careful not to drop their tail feathers in the mud.
“I’ve heard all sorts of nasty stories about Banikans…” the youngest Vrekan muttered. “I heard that they can destroy Cassid hover-tanks. And pretty much any sort of tank.”
“Yeah, I heard that they can tear even the biggest Chaosodonts in half!” the middling Vrekan added. “Like, bit them and tear them in half with their claws or something.”
The Captain smiled briefly. “Well, you have heard well, little ones.”
The tallest and clearly least imaginative Vrekan stuttered in shock. “You mean they really are that horrible and dangerous? I… I know they’re scary and that no other race really communicates with them, but I did not think Banikans were such… monsters…”
“Monster is the wrong term, child,” the Captain explained. “The Banikans portray themselves as monsters. They want us to think they are monsters, just so they can be left alone. The Banikans only wish to keep to themselves.”
The tall Vrekan settled down, but the smallest seemed curious.
“Why do they attack then? Could we like, easily avoid Banikan attacks by letting them have the territories that everyvok has stolen from them?”
“Indeed. While most races are safe in that aspect, the Vohra and, in particular, the Cassids, they have been pushing against Banikan boundaries for hundreds of years. In fact, you mentioned Cassid hover-tanks, that is what the Cassids used in their last push against the Banikans. The tanks all failed miserably and nearly half of the moronic Cassids sent there never came back. If they had not attempted to claim Banikan land as their own, they would have been fine.”
“So really, Captain, they deserve it?”
The middling Vrekan had questions as well. “I heard that there was a Cassid bounty hunter who got decapitated. They definitely deserved it. But I also heard a story that some traders who just wanted to trade stuff got killed as well. By something unseen.”
The Captain stood silent for a moment. “Something unseen. Perhaps. There is much more to the Banikans than meets the eye. Not many beings have seen their magic usage in action…”
“THEY CAN USE MAGIA?” the tallest Vrekan panicked. “How comes we were not told this?”
“Calm down, little one,” the Captain reassured him. “The Banikans may act like monsters, but their magical, elemental abilities are only ever used as a last resort. Those traders must have threatened a group of Banikans, and if they had babies with them, they would have immediately acted aggressively. They believe in family over all else.”
“Really… they’re a bit like us…” the middling Vrekan muttered. “We are overly protective, other races consider us to be aggressive, we care only about ourselves and our families and wish to keep to ourselves…”
“Exactly,” the Captain smiled. “We have little to fear.”
The three Vrekans smiled back, their fears dissipating. They then pulled some rations out of their backpacks. They were cold and hungry, and now was as good a time as any to have something to eat.