It wasn’t until Dellyn died and they paused to butcher the body that Sarah realized just how far they had fallen.
No, not fallen, she watched numbly as the two large tiger-like Khriss stripped the wolven Holst corpse, been driven. With a skillful twist the Khris separated the head from the neck, handing it to the remaining Holst who took it with the same quiet resignation Sarah felt.
While the Holst ran through the quiet rituals of death, the Khriss rapidly reduced the body into its useful pieces. Meat and nutritious organs went in freezer bags for later, they had no time to hunt. The fur was skinned and stuffed into another bag. Once the winters started their violent rush around the planet, they’d need the extra warmth. The last bits of meat and bone were poisoned and left in the middle of the trail. Hopefully it would slow their pursuers. There was a flash of flame and the smell of burning fur as the Holst finished their ritual destruction of the head.
Sarah shifted her pack as the group started again. As each member of the surviving dropteam passed the tiny pile of ashes they muttered quick prayers of blessing and she idly wondered if they’d do the same for her.