Fiction Fragment Friday
I almost skipped posting something this week. It was late into the evening and I had neither written nor had inspiration to write. I was ready log into Minecraft and just forget about it for the week. Then I was reminded that if I skip a week without an actual good reason like hospitalization that it would be easy to keep skipping. That this is not about anyone expecting to read a story, but about keeping myself in the habit of writing something completely new every week.
So I decided to write a new story, but I still needed inspiration. Minecraft ended up being part of that inspiration. There are horns in the game now and the sound they make always reminds me of the original Planet of the Apes where the apes are riding into the field to capture more humans. These two properties together finally gave me an idea of what to write.
A blaring horn echoed throughout the valley announcing the arrival of the hunting party. The sound fills all who hear it with terror because they know what it means. The hunters don’t always announce their arrival. If they are hunting for need, they come with stealth and strike quickly. The horn means they are here for sport and will stretch out their enjoyment as long as possible. There will be no quick end to this hunt.
The people in the valley run. It doesn’t matter how strong or brave they might be they all know that none of them can stand up to the hunters. Hiding won’t work either because the hunters have pets that can track them by scent. The only hope is to run and hope that if they can’t get to safety, they can at least run faster than their neighbors. Anyone brave enough to try and stall them for the sake of others has already long ago been taken. No one taken has ever returned.
Three sharp horn blares ring out signaling the hunt has begun. The hunters want their prey running because that makes it more fun. The panic adds to their excitement, but the people have no choice. They hunter’s mounts are loud as their hooves pound against the trail into the valley. At least ten of them are in this hunting party. There are far more people in the valley, but even united they could not take the hunters.
The hunters ride into the valley calling out which human they personally claim. The humans they hunt can’t understand their language but can still tell when they are targeted. They have never seen one of the hunters without their helmets or glowing blue battle armor so they can’t be sure what they look like. They appear to be nine feet tall and far more muscular, but that could be the armor. They seem to be far stronger than human, but again that could be the armor. The humans don’t really know anything about what is hunting them.
As the hunters descend on the fleeing humans like they have done so many times they soon discover that this hunt will be different. The ground collapses under the lead hunter. He falls still clutching his beast, but his companions know that his armor can handle the fall. They do not know what to do when the ground closes in around him and his radio cuts out. For the first time on one of their hunts they have lost a hunter.
The hunter at the end of the pack is the next to go. They hear his scream over the radio, but by the time they turn he is gone without any trace. His riding beast remained on the path wandering without anyone to lead it. The signal from his armor like the lead hunter’s had completely cut out. This most likely meant he was dead.
The remaining hunters formed a circle looking out in all directions. Something was moving through the brush so quickly even their armor could not track it. They called out to each other as they spotted it and quickly came to the conclusion that they were surrounded. The hunters had somehow become the prey.
Even panicking it only took a few moments for one of the hunters to refocus and try to take control of the situation. He began yelling out orders cross the communication link. “Everyone shut up and listen. Weapons out and switch to wide burst. These things are fast so make wide sweeps. On my mark. Open fire.” The hunters pulled out their rifles and shot wide energy beams into the brush. The fauna ignited with fire spreading throughout the valley.
A raspy echoing voice came from multiple directions through the fire. Like multiple creatures finishing each other’s thoughts. “You have terrified these beings long enough. Hunted them when they pose no threat to you and provide you sustenance. You hunt sentient beings for training and worse for fun.” With a blur of motion two more of the hunters were pulled from their mounts through the fire. “How does it feel to be the ones hunted? To be helpless against those far more powerful than you.”
The new leader of the hunters screamed out. “Cowards. Show yourselves. Stop hiding and face us like true warriors.”
Laughter filled the valley. “You who hunt those who cannot defend themselves talk of being warriors. We are no warriors.” Another blur of motion and the head of the hunter on the right of leader fell from his head. The body dropped to the ground with blood pouring from it’s neck. “We are those that balance the scales. Your past mistakes come back to haunt you.” The hunter to his left fell to the ground with a hole through it’s chest. The fire in front parted. “Now go and tell your people that their hunting stops. You will leave this planet and let the humans develop naturally like they have on so many other worlds.”
The leader did not hesitate. He rode forward through the gap in the fire back towards his camp. He heard the screams of his remaining three companions behind him as the feeds from their armor went offline. They were his friends, but his fear for his own life was more powerful than his loyalty to them. The hunters were never again seen in the valley.