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She was sad.

Her siblings hadn’t liked the crystal. They hadn’t even cared about it. She’d gone around showing it to them as the last bits of meat were picked off the bones of the creatures they’d fought earlier but the biggest reaction she’d got was squinted eyes or avoidance.

Some of them hissed or screeched at her if she got in their way but they didn’t seem to care about the amazing glowing blue crystal at all.

She couldn’t understand it.

The swarm moved out again shortly after. She’d felt her mind being drawn back to that unthinking state as they started moving, but didn’t have much trouble shaking herself out of it now that she knew what to look for. She could still feel where she needed to be, where to put her feet and which direction to move in, but her mind was on overwatch. She could decide to do different things too.

She did just that a few times, purposefully jumping here or there into a ‘bad’ spot and noticed how her movements disrupted the carpet-like flow the swarm moved in. None of her siblings seemed to care, just ignoring or avoiding her, merging back into the flow.

She even knocked a sister over once, just to see what would happen. That just got her hissed at before the sister in question got herself back up and kept running as if it'd never happened.

They were all headed back to the cave now. They'd caught a few more small creatures on the way but none were coming close to her. That was fine though; she was having a lot of fun shining the crystal at different things while they were running. Everything turned blue, but not the same blue! Some things got especially glowy under the light. It was fun, and before long they were back at the cave.

She started to pay more attention to her siblings. They all just found spots to lay down. The most interesting thing they did was bandy for position, hissing or screeching at one another to move so they could have a more comfortable spot. Some of the posturing would evolve into tussles, some scratching but never biting. Then they just lay there, sleeping or resting without any real further action. Some looked around a little, or would wander to the stream to drink or a corner to crap but that was it.

She was starting to wonder if something was wrong with her.

She saw no one exploring anything. No one checking under rocks or scratching the wall to see what would happen. No one licked things, no one tried balancing rocks on their head like she was trying to do because she was getting bored of watching all her boring siblings being boring. Something wrong with her or not; she was interested in stuff and siblings weren't all that interesting.

She found a corner to put her crystal as her jaw had been getting sore carrying it around. This had led to considering how else she might carry stuff around, which had led to balancing things on her head. She discovered it was actually much less convenient than holding things in her mouth, but it sure was way more fun.

Getting rocks on top of her head was hard but her tongue was up to the task, as long as she stuck to smaller stones. She’d only managed to balance a couple so far, but she was getting better with practice.

She found herself putzing around the cavern balancing rocks on her head, trying her best not to let them slide off. It was easier said than done, but she was getting better. She could keep two, one on top of the other, up there pretty consistently now, even when moving.

Mistakes do happen, however, and in her focus to keep the rocks balanced, she wasn’t paying enough attention to where she was going. This resulted in her tripping over a sleeping sibling and dropping the rocks on them.

That had gotten her screeched and clawed at. She backed up quickly and her sibling, a brother, had quickly broken off and gone back to lazing around. He’d laid right on her dropped rocks.

Her eyes narrowed.

Annoying.

She thought about doing something about it... but decided to get some new ones rather than fight for them. There were plenty of rocks and she’d only been using those because they’d been nearby.

She trotted off to the stream, having remembered there were some smoother rocks over there. Maybe she could balance more of them!

She stalked along the edge of the stream keeping an eye out. It didn’t take long to start finding good candidates. All of them were flat, round, and somewhat thin. She took to gathering them all up in one location. Some she carried over with her awesome balancing skills but others she had to nudge along the ground, them being too large to grip well or lift with her tongue.

She gathered the bigger ones anyway. Her neck wasn’t tired at all from balancing the smaller stones and she knew she could do it with the big ones too if she could just find a way to get them up there. The only question was how.

She spent some time trying with various methods. She had some success using her paws to pin a big rock to her face and then just wiggle her head under it while keeping it pinned with her paws, but that only really worked for the first rock. Any attempt to add more just ended up with them falling all over the place.

She may have been able to make it work if she was stronger but the maneuver put her fore-legs at an awkward angle where she couldn’t leverage her strength that well.

She’d attempted another maneuver where she’d grab a rock in her mouth, and then jerk her head back to throw it in the air. She’d then get her head under it and then it would be up there. She’d tried that method right up until the first time she’d managed to actually get the thing in the air at the right spot. It had proceeded to smack her on the top of the head before falling off.

She’d had to spend a few minutes curled up, paws on her head, before deciding on less painful methods. She also had to admit to herself that the method wasn’t going to work for more than the first rock anyways.

Throwing the rocks had been fun though.

It was just so frustrating! She could pick the rocks up in her teeth just fine, she just couldn’t get them up to her head from there. She needed… a second one of her! That could just come over and put the rocks on.

She looked over to her resting siblings again, a forlorn feeling washing over her.

Boring siblings…

They’d just growl or shriek at her if she bothered them with rocks. She wanted to be able to let them know her ideas! They were good and fun, and also maybe helpful. She could give them her ideas about not attacking the big things that killed them, and sticking to the small things. There were plenty of those, and while it may take longer to fill everyone up they wouldn’t die anymore.

She had no clue how to do something like that though. She supposed it was wishful thinking.

She focused back on her rocks, but was suddenly not in the mood to keep experimenting with them. She turned back and wandered back over to a patch of moss to lay down.

She picked up on a change in the air, and noticed she was getting hungry again. Her siblings started stirring. She knew what this was leading to and she darted off to grab her crystal before the swarm moved out again.


 

That had turned out to be a bad idea. She caught nothing over the majority of the run. It had taken her a bit but she figured out the little animals were seeing her and her siblings around her much more easily because of the light from the crystal.

She, unfortunately, couldn’t figure out what to do about it. She didn’t want to leave the crystal because of course she wasn’t going to leave the crystal. It was her crystal and it was awesome! She wasn’t leaving it lying in some ditch. She’d thought she could hide the light by getting it totally in her mouth but had only succeeded in almost choking herself. It was too big.

It also didn’t help that the rare times they did snag something near her she’d had to put down the crystal before she could attempt to grab a bite, an action that necessitated stopping first. By the time she’d set it down and gone over the small things had already been eaten by her siblings.

The only time she did get food was from another bloodbath incident. This time it was some sort of giant scaled thing that was so large one of the… Fur… slashers... that they had fought before would only come halfway up its legs. It breathed a stinky mist that made her siblings that got too close spasm and fall over dead.

She’d tried to stop them with some fierce screeches and hissing but they either ignored her or fought her to get by when she started tackling them. All she got for her trouble were some gashes in her scales.

Frustration!

Her actions hadn’t mattered at all.

The big lizard exhausting its noxious smoke was the only reason they killed it. After the fumes dissipated, it was too slow and lumbering to stop all her siblings. Many more still died from its thrashing but it eventually succumbed.

She still didn’t like it, even though she got to eat.

The swarm was down to about half of what it started at. This encounter had been far more costly than the slasher group they’d fought before. She didn’t know how to stop it from happening again.

By the time they made it back to the cave she was exhausted and her jaw was aching. She’d been having too much fun playing around rather than resting during the previous break and it was catching up to her.

She put the crystal down, curled up around it, and fell quickly to sleep.

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Zat

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