The guards along with most of his other companions were running. He couldn’t see them, but he could hear the clatter of equipment and the breaking of branches as they scrambled down the way they had come. Grant couldn’t take his eyes off of the upright creature carrying the limp form of Dr. Foster upright. He could see in the corners of his vision that Laura and Karen hadn’t run, though Karen seemed to be frozen in place.
Laura seemed to be torn between fear of the creature and need to go to her father’s aid. Grant himself wasn’t exactly sure what he himself felt. Not fear exactly. It was something more like excitement and concerned mingled together.
“Laura.” Grant started to reach for her, but she had begun moving already.
“Daddy?” Whatever caution there had been in her seemed to have lost the struggle and she was closing the gap without regard for the surreal sight of a bipedal cat that was holding him upright.
“We don’t know it’s intentions yet. It might be involved with the cats that attacked us.” It was the sensible thing to say, but Grants instincts told him that this wasn’t a threat.
“To hell with it. Daddy needs help.” She was right from the look of it.
Grant managed to get himself moving as well, but not forward. Instead his hand came out and caught Karen’s wrist. The gun she had drawn from some unknown location didn’t have a chance to level. “Not until we know. It isn’t acting threatening like the cat was.”
Hoping he wasn’t being an idiot, Grant rushed forward. Laura was already taking her father from the creature as best she could, checking his pulse and breathing. “Kit.” she called to Karen.
What?” Karen responded.
“First Aid Kit!”
Grant looked at his former mentor, then to the creature. There was nothing he was skilled enough to do for Dr. Foster. The girls would have to do what they could. His own attention turned to the upright feline.
He wasn’t sure how, but somehow he knew it was the same creature he had caught a glimpse of in the night vision goggles. He had suspected one of the two large cats was it, but there was no doubt in him that something in those slitted eyes was familiar with him. Not expressive eyes like humans were, but it was still there. Along with something pleading. It gestured downhill in the direction the others had fled and said something in what sounded like the native language. If only the translator hadn’t run as well.
He looked to the others. A pill and some water. Aspirin from the look of it. His heart? They had to find a way down quickly. Between creatures, cats and Dr. Foster’s condition, this was the last place they should be. He needed a way to ask this creature something. Wracking his brain, he managed “Sheewa?”
It made a sound that he was going to interpret as agreement. Grant thought a moment, then managed what he thought was the native word for danger. The same sound. Did it mean it was dangerous or there was danger near? He didn’t remember any other words.
“Laura. Karen.” He didn’t have time to worry about the second woman’s formality. “Get Dr. Foster down to the village as quickly as you can.”
“I am staying here. I think I need to to buy some time for you.” He cut off the look from Laura with “Go. I don’t know what is about to happen, but what was the point of all this if we all die here. Go, now.”
Hesitating, they lifted Dr. Forster between them and began to struggle down the steep incline. Grant turned to the creature and sighed. “Let’s deal with this then.” He had no idea what was coming, but it was certainly going to make an interesting story if he lived through it.