Citadel Daiva Izokaitis
Tia and Ket were an arm’s length from the Gland when Zil threw her net. The Gland stumbled, but caught himself—he was magnificent, balanced, glowing with sweat. The net snared him. We were on him breathing hard. I straddled him, knees pressing against the hard thighs. He was wild and panting and I felt a wave of disgust—I was touching a Gland. The first time I had touched the skin of anyone but another daughter. His breath smelled of meat as if he just snacked on some animal.
I rolled him over and lashed his hands. Zil cinched his ankles. Tia and Ket rammed the carrying rod through the knots of the ropes and Zil said We have him. I rolled off him into the grass, my legs still slick with his sweat. Under her breath, as we were taught, so the Gland did not hear language, Ket whispered, He’s got a huge sack.
Tia asked how I was and I shrugged. She touched my arm. I saw the pride in her eyes, the way she let me know I was now a veteran—a hunter of Glands. The trussed Gland lay on his belly.
To Zil, I said, My first Exo.
And you didn’t die, she said.