The cry echoed through the gusting wind, breaking concentration, breaking the peace that had been driven by the white noise of the storm. Motjed strode over to the source of the shouting.
A stumpy man, inferior, stood with a supercilious grin obvious behind his dust mask. He nodded at Motjet as if he were addressing an equal. Motjet sniffed and ignored him.
There were traces here. Motjet peered into the near distance, catching the traces of her scent, visible through the wind and the dust. He pulled the sensual threads together into one; weaving the smells, and sounds and the echoes of sight together into a semi-coherent image.
Another man now appeared beside them. Motjet pretended not to be surprised by his stealth.
‘She was here?’ he asked, a deep voice, old and experienced. The face was almost entirely hidden behind an elaborate mask but the voice was clear and undeniable.
‘Yes.’ Motjet replied. ‘Not long since.’
‘And you can follow her from here? Hunt her for me?’
‘Can you sense her fear?’
Motjet paused, realising only now that something had been missing and that the missing thing had been fear. He shook his head, unable to lie or mitigate. ‘No fear. Anger.’
The other man, taller, turned away. This information was unexpected. And unwelcome.
‘Your direction?’ Motjet asked. He wanted this over with. It had been a long cycle and he was tired of this life, one endless chase after another, with always the same, sad, end result. It was time for a rest season, a trip away from the dust planet, for peace and hormonally induced oblivion.
‘We hunt.’ The tall man said simply. The inferior man, his serf, snickered in anticipated enjoyment and was universally ignored.