The path that Sozont was taking away from Soapy Lake was heading towards
Fur City, which was an odd choice of destination for a hunt. What was
he thinking? In his mind's eye he saw the city dump, with its ready
supply of rats. Sozont did not often eat rats, which tasted like earth.
He preferred the tangy taste of mice. But few furs played rat
characters, so almost all of them were NPC's. "Oh", thought Sozont,
"that's where this is going". But there were *some* rat fursons,
and he needed to be sure, so he invoked the "player name" overlay for his
visual system. Tiny "NPC" markings appeared in his eyesight next to
every insect he could see. It seemed a little ridiculous to mark up
all the bugs, but Sozont had heard of one chemist-fur whose pheno was a cockroach!
Sozont continued along the path and came upon a group
of adolescent canids. They were all anthros; the overlay labelled them
with their names. At one point Sozont got a line-of-sight on a lizard,
which had an "NPC" marking. As Sozont was looking around, he noticed
that one furson was labelled "Siren Fox". He walked by the juveniles
without making eye contact, but Siren Fox came after him. This couldn't
be anything good.
—"Hello, Sozont the Tigri-Hippo-Strich".
—"Greetings, Siren Fox." Her coloring was atypical
for a fox. Most of her fur was black, with a blood red patch on her
thorax. There were thin white stripes that traced her bones, making
her look like a walking skeleton.
—"I heard that you were talking with Tardrayn-rah
—"Yes, your father stopped by to fix my VR equipment."
A pause. "Eaten any innocent children recently?"
Sozont had nothing to say.
"I suppose they're extra tasty if you talk to them
"Don't you have anything to say?"
This was not a conversation that Sozont wanted to be
having. He didn't have a leg to stand on in this argument and all he
could think about was the hunger-pain in his belly.
—"Look, I just can't talk now. I'm really very,
very hungry." She stiffened. That hadn't come out the way he
intended. "I need to go find some NPC's to eat before I starve to death."
—"Perhaps I'll just tag along after you to make sure
they're really non-players."
—"The Muck Lords don't take kindly to stalking."
—"No? They don't like trolls much, either."
They stared at each other for a moment, then Siren
Fox started walking back toward the other canids. She picked up a rock
and threw it at him. For some reason he decided not to flinch. The
rock hit him in the foreleg. It hurt, but his humerus did not break.
They stared at each other again, then Siren Fox made a strange noise
and returned to her pack.
Sozont continued, sadly, towards the dump.