by Travis Perry
Ross yanked his knife from his belt and stabbed hard at the buzbug that had fixed itself to his leg. His stabs counterattacked in an unaimed frenzy while he screamed at the top of his lungs. His pierced leg kicked hard, almost of its own will, and after eternal seconds the mandibles which had sunk into his leg broke off, the bug falling to the ground.
His fellow nomads had yanked their own black powder pistols from their belts, each responding with a directed fury as if they’d been killing rabid buzbugs their whole lives, firing their single-shot weapons, each one impacting a bug carapace. Then in a flash each dismounted and pulled their knives, launching themselves into frenzied buzbugs with fast hard stabs of the steel knives Ross had traded to them years before.
Ross shouted again, more an enraged roar now, and followed them by jumping off Markas’ mount, which had become the target of most of the buzbug attacks. On the ground he eyed the screaming buzzie with broken mandibles and hurled himself into it, knocking it down, one arm around it as it clawed at him with its hard legs, his other arm stabbing at the side of its hard abdomen, some of his blows glancing off. He finally dispatched the beast which had bitten him, it struggling far longer than it had any right to do.
He looked down and saw blood gushing from his wounded leg…