Ratha
BY 'RATHA'

Two
g RATHA SAT, her shoulders hunched, body tense, waiting for the raid that
never came. Yesterday's river incident was still fresh in her mind, and she
shuddered at the thought of it.
      Ratha sat with a start. A noise.
      A sandy form leapt out from the bushes. It was Fessran, her old
friend.
      " Ho, herder! Stop- you know my smell." Fessran said as she saw that
Ratha's scruff was bristled.
      " It's just you, Fessran. I was frightened... I expect a raid
tonight." Ratha smoothed her fur. No need to get alarmed.
      Fessran's ear twitched. In the meadow, a herdbeast bawled. The raid
was nearing, and the herdbeasts knew.
      The clan in which Ratha lived was a unique society of intelligent cats
with the gift of
speech. There was one other clan, the Un-Named. Most of them lacked the gift
of speech and all of them lacked in names. The Un-Named were all bent on one
thing: Destruction of the Named and the taking of their herds.
      And that is why the raids were around.
      "Ratha, how long has it been since you saw Thakur? I'm getting
worried- he has not been around to help us herd or to teach the cubs. Perhaps
he's sick?" Fessran's blue eyes were dulled by fear of the coming raid and of
Thakur.
      " Who knows. I saw him yesterday and he was acting strange." Ratha's
ears flattened
as she remembered the day before.  
      " Strange like how?"
      " Strange like I don't know... he is seemingly acting like he's -"
Ratha began. Before she could finish, a scream cut the dark. The raid had
begun.
      Fessran whorled away, leaving Ratha alone. Soon she too got up and ran
to protect the deer herds. This was gonna get ugly.
      As she neared the  meadow, she heard shrieks and cries. The herds were
running about all psychotically, and both clan and raider went down beneath
the trampling hooves.
Ratha noticed that a black female was charging angrily at her, and Ratha
ducked the attack.
      The female counter attacked. She swiftly curled about and grabbed
Ratha's foot with her teeth, cutting it open to the bone. Ratha turned and
flipped over onto her front, knocking the raider to the side. Soon both the
attacker and the attacked were on their feet again, ripping at each other's
feet and flank.
      Ratha was flipped onto her back in the heat of the battle. She raked
the enemy's loin with her claws. She gouged the raider's belly. Then the
fight was over.
      The black struggled between Fessran and Bira, another herder. A male
herder came upon the fight and helped by stripping the flesh from the
raider's withers and  ruff.  Ratha
got up and walked casually to the raider. The Un-Named one snapped at Ratha
only to get the flesh ripped off of her in return. Blood poured from the
obscene wounds, and Fessran loosened her grip. Bira's fragile jaws seized the
raider behind her ears.
      "Let me do this." Fessran pushed Bira to the side. "Ratha! Come over
here and hold the raider down. You can tear off her tail."
      "Alright, then, I will."
      Ratha took one look into the raider's stunned eyes before starting to
chew the tail of the female. Tevran, the male whom of which was helping too,
stood aside on Fessran's
order. As Ratha chewed, the raider screamed in pain and in fear. The rest of
the clan continued to fight with others of the Un- Named.
      Suddenly, Fesrran's jaws seared shut. The raider screamed again, the
hollow crunch of bone and the sound of tearing meat making it sound like a
mewl. The raider dropped dead, her blood pouring from her crushed skull.
      As abrupt as it had began, the raid was over. The clan milled about in
utter confusion.
Meoran, the clan leader and tyrant, was giving an anitial surrender to the
raiders. The war
was over. The clan had lost.