Challenge #01266-C171: He's Just a Softie, Really

Captain Steve and his horgler -- Anon Guest

Humans will pet anything. It is a fact as true as their renowned insanity. They get reward through tactile contact and it is part of their pack-bonding process. Almost nothing, short of losing their arm on contact, will stop them.

The only thing that has stopped them in the past is knowledge of the frailty of the thing they wish to touch.

Humans stopped by planetary station Kro'Chenpotyl, and heard about the Hor'gla. The most ferocious, dangerous, toxic and venomous creature on the benighted planet. They did two things.

First, they instantly called it the Horgler. And second - one of them tamed a beast.

The Prennik didn't witness the procedure, but then, the Prennik were smart enough to stay well away from anything hazardous. Humans went where even Level Six Deathworlders would fear to tread. They went with adventure in mind, if they had anything in mind at all beyond to see why.

Nevertheless, the one called Captain Steve returned from the toxic jungles with a Hor'gla scuttling behind him like a dog. It would sit, or deposit a majority of its abdomen on the ground. It would roll over, voluntarily exposing its underbelly before righting itself. It would stand on two of its six legs. All on the word of Captain Steve and a reasonable supply of treats.

The Hor'gla would do anything for bacon bits.

Captain Steve could stroke its fuzzy exterior without fear of its 'fuzz' breaching his skin and causing a hypertoxic reaction. When not in his quarters, the pet Hor'gla would wear a special suit so as not to cause trouble amongst the Prennik crew.

The most alarming thing was witnessing Captain Steve sharing his bed with the beast, on the rare occasions that Captain Steve slept.

Well, it was the most alarming thing, until the current ground crew encountered a band of raiders whilst they were in the middle of mining. The raiders got in a lucky shot, wounding Captain Steve and sending him, temporarily, into a prone position.

It was at that moment that the Hor'gla, known to Captain Steve as Fluffy, refused to revert to its instincts and devour Captain Steve. Instead, it turned against the raiders and killed three before the remaining five fled for safety.

By that time, Captain Steve had stopped the flow of his iron-rich blood and patched his wound. He was cursing, and still injecting himself with things, but the HUD displays regarding his health were giving a positive prognosis.

Fluffy returned to his side and 'sat'.

Captain Steve fed him a small handful of bacon bits, and cooed, "Oozagooboyden? Ooozagooboy? Yoozagooboy! Essyoo'ah. Essyoo'ah!" He cleaned his hands before resuming the petting ritual, scratching the hazardous beast in a series of places that had the Hor'gla in paroxysms of apparent ecstasy.

It was the most terrifying thing the Prennik had witnessed.

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