On the planet Kaffir, they had a name for loyal warrior: Tiklaus.
In this scene we see the first time the immortal panther, Tiklaus, saves the life of Pietas and the panther tribe welcomes him.
Pietas had taken two steps when multiple voices cried out a warning: "Behind you!"
His father came at him with another knife. Pietas threw up an arm to defend himself.
A black tornado swept between them.
Pietas stood stock still, unable to process what he was seeing.
The panther had leaped into the fray, fangs bared. Mahikos fell beneath the bloodthirsty onslaught of snarling animal fury.
Six pulled Pietas away. "He was going to stab you in the back! That cat came out of nowhere!"
Hardly nowhere. The cat had tracked him since day one.
Watch. Scout. Guard. Keep. Care. Safe. Duty.
Pietas understood now.
Growling, the panther gripped his father's throat in its powerful jaws, but didn't complete the bite. Waiting. Listening.
Through their connection, Pietas understood. It awaited the kill command.
Pietas opened his mouth to give the order.
"No!" Helia screamed. "Stop!"
The Council had gathered. No one moved. No one interfered.
The panther yelped, twitched, and then went limp.
His father pushed the animal off him, revealing a knife protruding from the cat's chest. He stood, staggering. The cat's dark blood drenched the front of his once-white uniform. Mahikos covered the puncture wounds on his neck.
Armand and Philippe closed in on him and gripped his arms.
The panther's green eyes closed as Pietas knelt beside the animal. He stroked the sleek black fur of its chest, its jaw, traced one finger around the rounded ears. The cat's lifeblood oozed from its wound. Forgive me! I should have let you eat him.
Battle wounds in Ultras, Pietas understood. He'd never treated an animal. If he removed the knife, the bleeding might worsen. Hasten death. One did not mercy kill a fellow Ultra. They healed.
Ultras took no prisoners. He'd dispatched suffering humans. Why torture an enemy close to death? After what traitors done to him, however, he'd rethink that in the future.
Pietas could not bring himself to kill someone so loyal. He rested his hand on its chest, felt breath leave the body. This beautiful animal had died for no reason other than to save him.
A rumbling growl surrounded him. From the dark, eyes flashed green and gold.
"Pi!" Six called to him. "Leave the cat. I think they want you to back away."
Unmoving, he opened himself the way he had earlier. He'd felt the presence of the other panthers but had not recognized then who and what they were. An impression thrummed between him and the cats, teasing his senses. Unspoken, as present as the background hum of a powerful ship. A shared energy.
Pietas gave himself over to them and they drew him in, welcoming his presence, accepting his nature, claiming his ferocity.
More than brotherhood. More than soldiers. More than family.
When Pietas is marooned on a barren world with no food and few survival tools, he knows it could be worse. He could be alone. But that's the problem. He's not.
Half a million of his people sleep in cryostasis, trapped inside their pods and it's up to Pietas to free them. He can't release one at a time. It's all or nothing. Over five hundred thousand hungry, thirsty, homeless immortals will call on him for rescue and he has no way to answer.
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