The Sau

With a roar, and a hiss. The Sau hull shakes with the ringing sound of the last roared warcry and the accompanying groan of the ancient sleeping pods being sealed. The roar still echoes through the great halls of the ship as the sharp hiss of the pods filling with breathable gas coolant starts. With their bellies full and comfortable bedding, they were in for yet another millennium long sleep. As the hissing stops, the venerable mechanic Longscales set reminders to maintain the innumerable pods while they travel to the Sau’s next destination. They abandon the pods for hundreds of years while they tend to the rest of the ship’s functions.

Brood Longscales care for the hatchery, where the strongest and most fertile of the female longscales lay and care for the eggs and children, mothered and fathered by the most powerful and genetically perfect veterans of the last adventure. Dragon Longscales, the oldest of their kind, tend to the higher functions of the ship itself. Research, manufacture, and resource management are the primary tasks of the Dragons. The most wise of the Dragon Longscales chart and plan the course that their ship – and entire species – will go for the next best feeding.

As years pass, new generations of Sau are bred, categorized, and trained to join their role on the ship. The veterans are woken at intervals of several decades to breed and fulfill their genetic duty to the species, and after eggs are lain they are returned to the long sleep. Longscales train each variety of Sau in accordance to physcial advantages and mental aptitude. As feedings go on, and if they all survive, all Sau will reach the age of longscale, where their scaled skin becomes rigid and spiked after millennia of unaccelerated life.

And the prey is sighted. The Dragons see it, the next feeding. Over half a millennium away, the ship maneuvers to reach the solar system deemed resource-rich enough to wake their species. The ever patient longscales continue their noble charge, and make the needed preparations for the feeding. Probes and scanners return data on the system; an abundance of gaseous fuels, great amounts of water and organic material from the third planet, various bodies with extremely high metals counts, and the most important trait of all – sentient life that seem to be poised to spread through their system.

Based on the prey, the Dragons spend centuries inventing and perfecting the equipment they will need. An advanced grinder bay is reconfigured for the metal-heavy asteroid belt. A gas sifter is created to pull and sort the gas giant’s resources. More information is gathered, and the progress of the prey species is impressive. The organic material has spread to most of the approximate sized bodies of their home, and evidence of space combat is seen. The Dragons are filled with promise about this feeding; surely the Sau will grow much stronger after this feeding.

Bearing the fangs. A half-century before the Sau meet their prey, the veterans and new additions are awoken. The breathable gas coolant is replaced by a warm and invigorating protein-rich humid atmosphere to entice the warriors. Combat ships are fueled and prepared, dropships are stocked with equipment and supplies, and the final training regimen begins. Sparring with one another, perfecting their arts, and gathering the last of the much-needed intelligence make the Sau perfectly prepared for the feeding.

And as the last pockets of resistance are wiped out by the surviving warriors, the home ship has also finished gathering the last of the needed material from the system. They store away the carefully organized resources and lock them down for the next adventure, and only a third of their species has survived the feeding. Leaving little but cold and lifeless rock, and no trace of their mammalian prey, the Dragons begin to sight anew for the next target, the next feeding. The next meal.

And their race prepares once more… with a roar, and a hiss.

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