Teyata became conscious of his stare and looked up.
“Nothing,” Brad blurted.
He ran past her and dropped between a gap in the girders, then fluidly swung end over end stopping above the jackknifed trailer. Dangling above the truck, he began his chin ups not tiring until he reached the 80s. Teyata sat at the edge of the gap as he came to a shuddering finish.
“100,” he gasped.
Bringing his feet together, he curled up and over into a crouch on top of the bridge.
He beamed brightly. “I’ve done everything. What other exercise do you have?”
“Nothing for now,” said Teyata.
“We’re going to the mountains?”Brad said excitedly.
“No; you’ve got a lot to learn yet. I’m going to teach you how to track.”
“Not until you get claws. You did say ‘you could get some?”‘
“Well then, we get them after you learn to track.”
Teyata dropped between the gap, then onto the trailer, vaulting onto the road and away. Brad dropped behind her and rolled to his feet, breaking into a sprint. For the first few hundred metres he almost kept up with her, but Teyata, being a half feral creature, began to pull ahead. They ran into the bushland one side of the bridge where Teyata stopped. She stooped, holding Brad back with an arm.
“See here?” she said, pointing at the ground.
Lisa could make out almost circular indentations in the crushed leaves.
“This is an easy one,” said Teyata. “Notice the depth of the holes?”
Brad nodded. “So it’s something big?”
“Yeah, but something this big would have a bigger foot.” She motioned with her head. “Look over there.”
Lisa wondered what Teyata indicated. The manine smiled as Brad zeroed in on a broken stalk, at shoulder height.
“We know it’s tall too,” said Teyata. “Something this tall, and heavy, and small feet, can only be an Ayafeb.”
“They’re like tall cows of the old world; good eating. You take the lead.”
“Yes, you’ve got to find the prey; I’ll make the kill.”
She motioned Brad forward, then she took to the trees where she watched, waiting for him to make his move.
Brad merged with the underbrush, listened, smelled, then slipped silently from flora to flora.
Lisa watched, growing bored after 15 minutes of Brad’s caution. She fast-forwarded the action. His efforts paid off as he pointed from amidst thick shrubs at a tall horned beast in a clearing. Teyata dropped from the trees and ended the creature’s life with two wild slashes of her claws.
Lisa continued the fast-forwarding, watching the passage of time and noting changes in Brad’s prowess as a tracker. When he first started to learn, Teyata watched from the trees, growing bored, even impatient that he had discovered and obvious kill. Eventually, he sometimes learned to spot their prey before she did.
On their hunting trips, he’d leave the rifle back at the bridge. He had developed his senses to a point where he could avoid dangerous creatures, and know his protection lurked in the branches. He also developed the peculiar habit of collecting any new unrecognisable plant and putting it in his pack for later study.