The ragged vibranni girl, tail clutched nervously in her small hands, cowered in the corner of the alley. With a satisfied sneer the bobby raised his truncheon. She shut her eyes against the inevitable blow...
Earlier that day, on the other side of Gearford, a slave watched her daughter playing with the other children of the Vibranni ghetto. They ran between shacks, dilapidated yurts, and makeshift tents. The slave smiled sadly. They were, for at least these few precious moments of innocence, oblivious to their destitution in a way they would probably never be again.
From the edge of the camp, she saw an imposing figure approach. She recognized him as the slavemaster and foreman, a human employee of her owner. Standing over her, he parted his lips in a yellow grin. “Call the girl over. She’s nearly old enough to start work and the master won’t have her seen in his home with that demon tail.” The woman shuddered and felt the old itch in a tail that hadn’t been there for decades. She swallowed the scream of rage that threatened to boil out of her and called her daughter over.
“Elspeth! Come here.” The girl, laughing at her playmates’ antics, turned her attention to her mother then to the awful man. She frowned and walked over. “Yes, Mama?” As the large human reached for the girl, her mother snatched her in a sudden embrace. The man gave her an impatient look and sucked his teeth. Elspeth hugged her back, confused until she heard her mother whispering. “I love you, little one, but you must never return here. Head north; find a caravan if you can. Never bow to a human and never let them take your tail.”
The slave’s grip on her daughter eased. The grubby man reached once more, but never closed his hand on Elspeth. Suddenly on his back, his vision exploded with light and pain. When he could see again, there were only the violet fists of the enraged slave, recalling hunter’s instincts from long ago.