Martin Crabtree had begun to tolerate the constant swishing sound behind him. When a branch crackled loudly, he stopped immediately. He stood up, sighed, and turned to glare at Herbert “Bwana” Titterman.
“What?” said Titterman. His voice practically boomed through the forest. “Did you hear something?”
Crabtree closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Soon, his frustration subsided. He continued leading the way through the giant trees of the planet, Whittaker IV. There was no point in silence anymore. Every animal within a kilometer had just scattered. He said, “You do realize that the Tirikii are sentient, right?”
“Of course, my good man,” said Titterman, his voice still too loud. “I’ve researched them thoroughly. They’re most dangerous. One of their heads on my wall will go nicely beside the rhinoceros and the lion.”
Grabtree grimaced. “They aren’t like killing rhino. They’re a people. They use bows and arrows. They have a language and are developing a written language.”
“So? They’re still animals for heaven’s sake! I understand any paleontologist on Earth would confuse them for dinosaurs at first glance. That means they’re the greatest game animal any Human ever hunted.”
Crabtree hid his expression from the idiot. “Don’t you think there’s a difference between hunting a game animal and a sentient creature? No feelings of remorse?”
“Of course not! Don’t be daft. I’m doing their species a favor, you know. By killing the ones stupid enough to be caught, the smarter ones survive to reproduce. They’re species because of me.”
Even Titterman’s booming voice didn’t stop Crabtree from hearing a tiny, crucial sound. He stepped to the side. “That’s good for higher intelligence. What about higher wisdom?”
“How do you mean?”
“Intelligence is the the capacity to learn new things. Wisdom is the capacity to employ the learned behavior appropriately. Learning to hunt is one thing. Learning who to hunt is another.”
Titterman scowled. “All very amusing, Mr. Crabtree. Let’s get on with finding my trophy, shall we?”
An arrow suddenly appeared in Titterman’s chest. Another struck him in the lungs. He spat blood as a third put him down for good.
Three Tirikii trotted into view. The bipedal dinosaurids watched carefully as Crabtree slowly placed his gun on the ground. One stepped forward and bobbed her head. Crabtree recognized Trittiponee. He bobbed his head in reply and chittered a welcome in her language.
Trittiponee said, “The King will enjoy taking this human’s head as a trophy. Thank you for planning this safari.”
“I’m pleased to serve the King,” replied Crabtree.
“I hope it wasn’t distasteful bringing one of your own species to his death?”
“Not at all,” grinned Crabtree. “Killing the stupidest of us improves our species.”
Written for Matthew Wright’s weekly Mega Short-Story challenge. Look here for this week’s prompt: https://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/this-weeks-mega-short-story-challenge-and-nano-inspiration-2/