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She woke up with a feeling of anticipation. The light had gone, yet she could see fine despite the darkness. She felt a pang of sadness as all the color had gone away, everything was rendered in shades of grey.

There was a feeling of urgency in the air. All her siblings were waking up too, walking around restlessly.

She felt like something was about to happen, outside of any concrete idea, just some vague impression. And suddenly it was time to go. She ran and so did all of her brothers and sisters, rushing forward out of the cave-like a black carpet. All were silent except for the light pitter-patter of small padded feet.

She didn’t know why she was running, she just felt the urge, the want to stay with the group despite not having any idea why. She knew where to run and where she needed to be in relation to her fellows.

They flowed over the forest floor like a black wave, turning occasionally through no single decision. A group consensus that she didn’t understand but followed nonetheless.

It didn’t take long for the group to come across other things. Scaled creatures like them but shaped differently.

They tore them apart, feasting on them, taking bites as they ran.

Other things were found, some small and covered in fur, others scaled. The swarm rolled over them and they were all devoured.

Eat.

Some hid under logs or in burrows, but the swarm was like water, flowing in and under and through, devouring everything they met. She took chunks out of more than one creature. They swarmed for a long while.

EAT.

The group took note of something larger. A few of the new things were laying under a rocky outcropping, asleep.

They had powerful-looking limbs not dissimilar to her own, only much, much larger. They were covered in fur, set in blotchy patterns, although she couldn’t tell what the colors were.

Not that she cared at the moment, as she was adrift, her mind not working. Simply a part of some greater organism that moved and acted as a whole. She felt the hunger. They turned and poured towards the new things, which seemed to notice the swarm as they jerked awake and to their feet, baring savage teeth and ripping claws, roaring challenge.

EAT.

The swarm started screeching, undaunted by the challenge before it, and the carnage began. The first to reach them were slaughtered, batted away, and torn apart by tooth and claw. They were tiny compared to the new things, like kittens compared to mountain lions.

Yet more kept coming.

Wave after wave was slain in moments but some of the swarm slipped through, biting, taking chunks out of thick fur and hide with their razor-sharp teeth and gaping mouths. The swarm piled upon itself, pouring more bodies into the slaughter.

She rushed forwards with the rest.

EAT.

She tripped, stumbling over something that had landed in front of her. She locked eyes with it as she got back up. It was one of her brothers, his back legs gone, staring with dull eyes that saw nothing.

She staggered, her mind rushing back to her.

What?

She didn’t understand what was happening. What was going on? Her brother was... gone now. She had some fundamental understanding that he would never get up again.

She stood there staring as the swarm rushed on around her.

She knew that she was like him. If this happened to her, she would also be gone.

The truth of it had shocked her out of her fugue.

She heard the screams of the new things turning from anger and wrath to pain and terror.

Broken siblings lay in bloody piles, but the swarm rushed on uncaring. The new things were slowing, bleeding everywhere, fighting in desperation. They were covered in her kind, which were tearing chunks out of them. Devouring them live.

It wasn’t long before they stopped fighting back.

She just stood there staring.

Bad. Sad. Not… Smart?

It didn’t seem right. So many were... gone now. Were dead. It was a bad thing to fight the large creatures. Not smart. It was bad to be dead. Things couldn’t be explored while dead.

She moved forward again, because, despite the horrible cost, she was still hungry. There was meat there. Approaching the creatures, buried under piles of her siblings she noticed tufts of hair and blood covering the area.

She remembered that the creatures had interesting patterns on their coats. She would never get to see what they looked like in the light now. It saddened her further. She wondered why she hadn’t thought of that sooner.

She burrowed into the pile, trying to find some meat as she thought back on the night's run.

It was strange that she hadn’t considered anything like that since the run had started. Thinking back she had run past all kinds of interesting things. Things that smelt like burning or things that had been interesting shapes, adorned with patterns. She wondered what all the little creatures she ate looked like?

Concerned…

Why hadn’t she stopped to look? Or smell? Or touch? She hadn’t had any thoughts at all except to run and fight and eat. She had been different somehow and she didn’t like it.

She squirmed out of the pile, having eaten her fill of one of the big things.

She settled down in a crack between some tree roots to think. She had gone running off with the swarm without a thought. Had been mostly without thought this whole night. Maybe that was normal? She was so new to everything she didn’t really know much about how things should be. The swarm had certainly managed to get a bunch of food.

But was food really all that mattered? She wanted to see new things and explore and find interesting stuff! And yes she also liked eating, and the meat had been quite delicious. But was it worth it?

She glanced back at the pile of bodies.

Well. Normal or not she didn’t like it. She didn’t want to end up dead and empty. She also didn’t want her thoughts to go away. She liked thinking.

Her head went a bit weird, thinking about thinking and she chittered a bit. It was just all so fascinating! Looking around she could already see so many things she had never seen before, so many things to explore! She didn’t want anything to force her not to.

With that in mind, she got up and started towards a soft blue glow she had noticed. It was coming from beneath a massive tree, somewhere in its huge tangle of roots.

It took some squeezing and wiggling to get herself through the tangle but eventually, she found herself in a small rocky hollow, squinting at a brightly shining blue… Rock?

Pretty! Very Pretty! Most Pretty!

She danced around in joy as best as she could in the small hollow, wiggling with excitement. She gazed at the amazing rock some more, barely able to keep her eyes open looking at it. The brightness made her want to close them or look away.

It had more flat surfaces and hard angles than a normal rock, and she could swear she was seeing through it, like it was some sort of hard looking water. It was really hard to tell with all the shining. It was more than a special rock. She decided it would be a crystal.

She liked doing that, categorizing things in her head. There were some things that were all alike but not actually the same. Rocks were like that. Some were different colors or textures, but they were all definitely rocks.

This was too different from a rock, so it got to be a crystal.

She moved closer and sniffed at it. It smelled… different from anything she’d smelled before. But at this point so did most things. There were a lot of smells. This particular scent was invigorating though. Almost seeming to give her energy just from the sniff.

She touched it with a forepaw, keeping her claws in, and felt a tingling pulse traveling from her paw and up her leg before dissipating. The feeling persisted but nothing else happened.

Feeling no change, she decided to taste it. She licked it, feeling that same tingling sensation and a slight sensation of burning on the sensitive appendage. It didn’t really taste like much though. Kinda like a rock. Certainly not tasty. It jiggled around a bit as she messed with it, touching it with different parts and pushing in different places.

She realized she may be able to get it out of the wall.

Take with?

She’d never considered that she could move something around with her, but it was obvious once she’d had the thought. She’d just been running around earlier with chunks of animals in her mouth, why not crystals?

She clamped her teeth on it and pulled, struggling a bit to get a good grip. It wasn’t like flesh, her teeth wouldn’t sink into it. But she eventually managed to get a decent grip and popped it out of the wall. She held her prize up, proudly displayed in her jaws as she walked around a bit.

She realized that anything she pointed her head at lit up in blue.

Crystals light things!

It wasn’t like the bright light from before that made things have all different colors, but it was better than the greyscale from before. Brimming with excitement she wiggled herself out from the hollow and made her way back through the roots.

She had a tough moment getting through a hole that her head had barely fit through before. With the crystal in her mouth, she didn’t fit at all.

It had taken her a bit to figure out what the issue was. She realized that in order to fit, she needed to put the crystal down, go through the hole, use her legs to get the crystal though and then pick it back up on the other side.

She had about exploded in happiness when her plan had worked.

Success!

This was the most complicated thing she’d had to do. It had seemed so wrong to have to put down the crystal in order to bring it with her, but she’d managed to think and plan, and once she’d had the idea it had made so much sense.

All the little things thought out before the doing of them.

It was so satisfying.

She pranced back towards her siblings, watching in fascination as the ground lit up blue in front of her. Then she had another new thought.

She liked the crystal. She was like her siblings. Maybe they would like the crystal too?

She sped up, looking forward to the answer.

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Zat

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