The metal monstrosities lined the paved paths. Some were motionless, flanking the endless lines of moving machines on each side. Humans without such contraptions walked on the opposite sides of the slumbering flanks, busily disappearing into and emerging out from stone structures what reached heights which could rival the tallest trees of the Secret Lands. Not the tallest, of course, but those a tier below it.
These people were so busy with their days that most hardly paid Brrda any mind as he loped nude on what he dubbed the "safe" side of the machines. Many did a double take, but very few were bothered enough to interrupt their schedule. Until they saw the tiger, that is. Having no where to hide, Retsis followed her master at a leisurly pace out in the open sidewalk.
Retsis whined. Brrda stopped, glanced at her over his hulking shoulder. "I don't know."
It had been hours since Brrda's battle with one of the metal monsters outside the limits of the city. Hours that the sun had simmered their backs, hours that the cracked gravel had torn into their soles, hours surfing through a mad ocean of blank faces. Still they were no closer to home. Brrda's stomach rumbled fiercely, and his legs wobbled in agreement. The Savage Savior knew that if he were so hungry, his loyal companion was probably famished. These humans had not bothered them more than shoulder bumps, but were the Secland Tiger to satisfy her hunger there might be trouble.
Brrda looked about, searching for a lesser beast to make a meal of. Across the path he spotted a group of small birds pecking at crumbs thrown by an old woman. They were small, but they were numerous. He motioned to his ally with a fold of his fingers then pointed to the birds. At once her ears perked, her tail swooshed. She bent low behind one of the machines, eyed the birds from around its back. Then they were off, Brrda above the machine and Retsis around its rear.
The metal roof burned Brrda's fingertips, but it hardly concerned him. He came to a rough landing upon a pair of yellow lines painted over the searing stone way. There was a thump in his chest, a lump in his throat. Everything around him seemed to stop. He took it all in. Retsis was ahead of him, almost across the way now. The old woman hadn't yet taken notice of them and was reaching into a brown bag to scatter more crumbs. Metal monsters rushed towards him on all sides. They produced a blaring scream as they approached. Brrda could see the people within, for the first time with clarity. What he saw startled him.
The driver's eyes were round as dinner plates and shining at the corners with tears. His eyebrows were arced up, his mouth agape. The knuckles of his hands turned white as he gripped a spinner the way a frightened monkey clings to its mother. A scream spilled from his mouth in all directions. But is what not the angered scream Brrda had expected. It was a scream filled with fear.
With a deep breath and a mighty heave, Brrda dashed out of the way and caught up with Retsis before vaulting himself over the roof of another machine. In one fell swoop he fell to the ground, snatched a bird which had just barely begun fluttering, and cracked its neck with his thumb. He glanced at his hunting partner and saw that she had two. Not much for a tiger her size, but enough to prevent her from harming the humans. The old woman bolted up from her wooden seat and screamed, dropping the brown bag of crumbs. The rest of the flock lifted off in a flurry, spilling feathers behind them.
Brrda crouched on his heels and bit into his meal. It was tough, chewy, but had a pleasant flavor not too different from the doves he ate back home. He brought the creature to his mouth for a second bite when a burst of fire suddenly erupted on the ground before him. The bird fell to the pavement as Brrda dove for the shelter of an alley, Retsis quick behind him. And quick behind her the source of the fire: