Monday, July 12, 2010

Chapter 132: Sidetracking

~ Takyle glanced desperately from screen to screen in front of her. On the right the two hyenas that had fallen on their first wounded brother were still busy with their dinner, and the two remaining hyenas were working their way around Jaden, looking for an undefended angle. On the left was Andrew, still pinned down by the leopard. Takyle felt she was getting the idea of what the girl had so dryly called "the game", and it terrified her. Still, not playing was an even worse option than interfering, and so she interfered.
"Get away from the bodies," she willed Jaden, and when she saw him start to edge away from the two dead hyenas she turned her attention to Andrew. The wind and birds didn't work; what else could distract the big cat?


Andrew saw the leopard twitch once, and then again. Its tail flicked in annoyance and it lifted one paw, as if something on the ground were irritating it. And then Andrew saw it: ants. Big red ants were climbing over the dirt at the leopard's feet, and they were beginning to bite.

"Oh hell", thought Andrew.


Jaden maneuvered himself around the media station and edged several feet backwards, trying to keep all the live hyenas in his line of sight. He felt a pressure to hurry and do something before the two eating had had their fill.

"Of course, at that point, perhaps they'd just leave," he tried to tell himself.

"Fat chance."

A droplet of sweat stung Jaden's eye and he used a sleeve to quickly swipe his face. One of the hyenas that had followed him dodged around toward his right. Jaden swung his hatchet as he retreated another step, barely missing the animal's head. Its jaws snapped on air, frightening in their power. It advanced again, while the other hyena of the pair began slinking around behind Jaden.

"Crap. Crap, crap, crap," Jaden's mind chanted helpfully as he tried again to cut the second hyena off by backing away. Suddenly Jaden felt his heart leap to his throat as a hare came bursting out of the undergrowth behind him and shot in a zigzag pattern for the nearest cover. It had startled the hyenas as much as it had Jaden, and he was pleased to see that as it ran past them, no more than a tawny blur, both of them jumped back. Jaden grabbed the distraction, leaping forward to deliver a hard blow to the nearest animal, a chop to the nape of the neck. He felt the blade strike bone, and quickly chopped again, this time feeling the blade go deeper, between the vertebra, slicing through flesh and integral nerve. As before, after a strangled, heart wrenching cry, and a short, futile struggle to get away from the pain, the animal fell and at least died quickly, if gruesomely.

Jaden hurriedly stepped away from the bloody corpse and found that the other hyena who had been trying to circle him had backed away, choosing to observe from a short distance. After a moment of contemplating Jaden, it seemed to decide that he wasn’t worth the trouble and wearily moved away to join his two brothers over the carcasses of the fallen. Jaden waited for a moment to be sure that they were fully absorbed, and then edged back over to the media station and snatched up his pack before moving away as quickly as he thought safe.

“Stupid computer.” ~

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chapter 131: Impellere

~ "You say I have to play the game, but I don't know what to do," Takyle reminded the girl in as scathing a tone of voice as she could work up.

"That is for you to discover yourself," said the girl. Takyle opened her mouth to respond but at that moment she saw one of the hyenas that was in Jaden's blindspot to his left begin to rush in.

"Oh! Turn around!" she gasped and to her amazement and relief, Jaden did just in time.


Jaden caught the hyena under the jaw with a hard upwards kick and heard the sickening crunch of bone.

"Him or me, him or me," he reminded himself as the animal gave a cry that sounded disconcertingly similar to a human scream and stumbled back looking dazed, its lower jaw hanging slack and crooked. Long strings of blood and saliva began running from its broken mouth as the hyena shook his head, as if trying to rid himself of the pain. In a vicious display of savagery, three more of the hyenas jumped forward, two of them falling on their wounded brother, mercilessly ripping huge chunks of flesh from its neck and shoulders, while the third went for Jaden. Jaden tried another kick, but the animal shied away just in time to be missed, ducking it's head and charging back in towards his weight bearing ankle.

Like an independent thought, Jaden felt a voice, an instinct telling him to chop straight down with his hatchet, toward his own leg. Mindlessly, in the heat of the moment, Jaden followed the direction, having fought too much to risk ignoring it. With a solid thunk, the think blade was buried in the hyena's neck, severing its spinal cord. Jaden jerked the blade out and a thick gout of blood spurted up as the hyena sank, twitching, to the ground, finally lying still with its bared teeth inches from Jaden's shoe.


Andrew stayed near the ground, hoping against hope that if he remained still enough the big cat would simply grow bored with him and leave. He could feel the ache of muscle exhaustion setting into his back and thighs, but he held. Just when he began to think that his nerves couldn't possibly take another moment of the tension, a sudden. violent gust of wind blew through the grass, startling up a bevy of birds. At the rush and whir of wings overhead, the leopard whipped its huge head around to watch, held by its predator instinct. Andrew grabbed the split second distraction and used it to put his knee under himself to take his weight. Before he could do anything else, the leopard's eyes were back on him, focused with all the intensity of before and then some. The birds had only inflamed its desire for the kill. ~