They arrived back at camp with little sighs of relief, certain that the tiger would not be so foolhardy as to come into camp with so many armed men standing around. She might have seen with her own eyes that these funny apes with pointy sticks can be dangerous.
But their minds were still on the new phase they were about to finally initiate. Layla flashed a smile at KRAK, the new alpha male, as the kids came out of the underbrush provoking a ripple of alertness that instantly died away as it crossed the camp.
The tribe had moved several times during their lifetimes, either following game, or avoiding warlike Neanderthals and other evolutionary types in a time of seismic genetic change. The star burst had not only caused the new brains in Melchizedek and Layla, there were other mutational fallouts all of which were dead ends. Some of those folks were even worse than the tribes of Neanderthals that had taken up invader games, unlike their own tribe and the majority of tribes at that time.
So there was a collective moment of attention when anything new entered camp, even if it was one of the tribe returning from an adventure or a hunt.
Melchi and Layla got more attention than anyone else would get returning to camp. Everything they did was regarded as intensely interesting by the tribe. The other tribespeople were very predictable to one another, but these two kids were totally unpredictable and therefore much more interesting. Mel explained it to Layla, saying, We generate new patterns in their minds, which because of their novelty are much more interesting to them. He had pathed that to her while they were still babies, often asleep within the baby identities and unaware of their Melchizedek and Layla true identities.
That was one reason why the tribe stared at them all the time. The other reason was their relative hairlessness. They were the least hairy folks in the tribe by far, and no other tribesperson came anywhere close in terms of hairlessness. The tribe was hirsute everywhere, they were not.
This made Layla especially appealing to many of the tribesmen — beyond her good looks. This was a relatively recent effect since puberty, which was a recent blockbuster life-changer for the pair. In their own true minds, they were married to each other for eternity. However, they had a Mission that interfered with this marriage. They needed to crossbreed with as many Neanderthals as possible in the shortest possible time in order to stay on schedule. They had been putting this off since Layla had her first menses almost two months ago. The tiger incident now precipitated a reason to stop stalling. They could die from any number of causes and then the Mission would be substantially left undone.
“Hunh ha!” Layla said to KRAK as they walked past him, which was an invitation to courting. KRAK stood stunned, watching them walk away.
COOL was a young female about Mel’s same age. She had been coming on to him for some time and he had been kind but seemingly uninterested (although he was). He didn’t especially like the hair everywhere because it seemed masculine to him, yet her overall impression by movement and aura was feminine. He liked the way she smelled, which he could not say for every member of the tribe. He especially liked that she wore her heart on her sleeve, as he adored that innocence and vulnerability. He would much prefer that it be Layla and only Layla, but if the Mission said that he had to mate with an unending number of females, well, a Mission was a Mission. He and Layla had been gifted with eternity like everybody else — since everybody was a single Being — so why complain?
They arrived back at the tent of leafy branches they had constructed where they now lived as brother and sister, right next to their parent’s house — the type they had taught the tribe to construct, making use of objets trouvés and the fun of experimental improvisation. Good thing the climate was mostly tolerable. Winters were not really as much fun.
They had barely flopped down and were preparing to lie around, maybe fall asleep and wake up hungry and figure out how to not starve before it got too dark to find one’s behind in the dark. However, these plans were interrupted by a surprise guest.
TO BE CONTINUED
Best to all,
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