It was after today’s incidents that I realized my interactions with the food have made me capable of predicting their behaviour with astonishing accuracy. I had not come to grips with the fact… Speaking of which, grip is such an interesting word, the food usually refers to my tentacles with it (something similar to “it’s got a grip on my leg!” right before I eat them), but they talk about having a grip on reality or a grip of the facts, which merely reflects how their primitive intellect is only capable of assessing that which they can touch and interact with. A mind for the abstract? I have yet to find a foodstuff with such a gift.
Where was I? Oh of course, behavioural prediction. The term I should use for this, I guess, is “gut feeling” (fittingly, as it is as satisfying as a good meal, and tends to precede one). I can trust my subconscious to process the available information and push me towards the more desirable outcome. I can just follow the thoughts after the fact.
It was not two days ago that a pack of talking food wandered close to my home. It is usually a good idea to deduce what kind of pack one is dealing with. The usual varieties are: The lost pack, not used to be out in the wild and likely not there by choice; the sacrificial pack, bringing a sacrifice for the Sarlacc to dispose of; the desert dwellers, used to the dangers of the environment and exercisers of cautious circumvention of the Sarlacc’s home.
They were of the latter variety.
Now, in these cases I can regularly nab one or two of the individuals before the pack retreats to safety, not much more. A smallish but decent meal, and for this not only surprise is important, but also careful consideration of the pack hierarchy and behaviour. Skip the young ones (smaller and harder to catch, and they are usually whisked away to safety double-quick), and choose one of the paired foods. They often walk in pairs, male and female, and it is best to grab the female: the male is almost sure to follow, whereas grabbing the male is not always a guarantee that the female will.
I carefully picked the victim, one of the females at the edge of the group. It walked next to its male mate and a youngling. I prepared, hid my tentacle under the sand, and waited.
Closer please. Cloooooser…
And then it hit me. There was something peculiar about this pair. Something that wasn’t quite right. I paid attention, put all my senses to it, processed the vibrations carefully and captured the smells. It was the smell, it wasn’t quite right.
I couldn’t figure out why, but they were getting closer and I had no more time to think about it.
That’s when the gut kicked in.
No, it wasn’t some gas, or a recent addition to my digestive tract.
But I have learned to trust those kicks. I abandoned the previous target, and quickly snatched another male walking nearby. As usual, there was panic, and a scramble as soon as my presence was noticed. However, that is to one’s advantage. Don’t snatch the prey away before the rest of the food has a chance to see what’s happening, dangle it in front of the pack for a second or two, and when that has sunk in, the mate will likely follow as one drags the food in.
I did that. The female of the original pair followed.
Then the male of the original pair did.
And finally, as a nice dessert bonus, so did the youngling. As soon as I had a taste of the young food, I knew what my subconscious had picked up. That wasn’t the spawn of the male in that original pair, but that of the male my subconscious had suggested I grab. Similar smell, same taste.
And so the female followed it to its doom. And the oblivious male did follow the female. And the Sarlacc tripled the size of the meal he’d have had, had he not noticed these little details.
Always be aware of the pack hierarchy. Yum.