Not-So-Slim Pickings

The Black Wingers were cannibals.

Whatever food came their way, they were going to eat it. Such was the way of the world these days.

Fires had soon been lit, and the fifty or so members of the gang had gathered round. Children were searching the dead bodies for ching and resources, and the women were preparing the best-fed carcasses of the Red Wings. Astoc knew that the Ancient society was against cannibalism, but the Ancients had had too much normal food. These days no-one gave a second's thought of eating their enemy. It was a man-eat-man world.

And Astoc had to admit that tonight's fetch smelt pretty good.

He was sat alone in a dark corner of their dell when Lent came over to talk to him.

"You did pretty well today, Astoc," he said bracingly, taking a seat next to him.

"You say that every time."

"And? Would you rather be trash-talked by Eagle-Eyes constantly? Even the omega has to have friends."

"You know I shouldn't be omega, don't you?" said Astoc.

"Everyone starts at the bottom of the ladder, my friend, it's up to you to climb it."

Astoc had to wait while everyone else ate - the alpha and beta ate first, along with their families. Omegas always ate last.

"How much ching did we earn?"

"Enough for three days worth of honest food from the luggers."

"Or three bags full of speed."

"Well aye, but you know how cranky E gets without it."

"I don't think he should be allowed to take it any more."

"Well, nether do I, but don't say it out loud."

"You wait," said Astoc bitterly, "those druggies know exactly when we have ching, they'll be coming soon -"

And he was right. Before long Eagle-Eyes' commers from the drugs ring were emerging from the trees with strangely maniacal grins on their faces.

"Look how angry the beta looks," whispered Astoc, as Eagle-Eyes began to haggle. "All that ching going to waste ..."

Astoc got up. Now was the time to cut Eagle-Eyes' speed supply off at the source.

"Astoc, where are you g-?"

"I'll be right back, don't tell anyone I'm gone -"

"What are you doing?"

But Astoc didn't answer. The druggies never brought their supplies into camp, in case they were forced to give it over without payment. They always hid it outside the camp. And Astoc had been spying on them before. He knew exactly where they hid their stash ...

... and there they were. Three huge bags of white powder concealed roughly under a gnarled root. Astoc removed a sparker from his pocket and set light to them. Once he was sure they were burning heartily he sneaked away into the trees.

This was going to cause a lot of trouble.

The End

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