A little bit of fiction for today’s post.
The attack came several hours later. Meekail had ordered a stop and a chance for everyone to get out and stretch their legs after having been cooped up in the explorers the entire time. They had caught glimpses of something large and silvery a couple of times right after examining the downed container but had not seen anything for a couple hours.
Hakdem actually saw the thing first as it raced down the side of a hill about half a kilometer away. It’s silvery skin reflecting the light of the moon that was still up. “There’s something large and fast moving this way on that hill to the east,” he called out to the team.
Meekail looked in the direction that Hakdem indicated but couldn’t see anything even with his eyes fully dark adapted. The yazirian just had better night vision than a human. “Everyone get back into the explorers. Hopefully it won’t go after something large.”
As everyone started to hustle back to their respective vehicles, Talnor called out, “Too late!”
Meekail looked again and this time he did see it. The thing was huge, probably five meters long and standing two meters high at where Meekail judged its shoulders to be. It moved like a large feline but had a longer neck than you’d expect to see on any type of cat he was familiar with. It seemed to be covered with some sort of shiny reflective armor. Its legs were powerfully built and it was moving unbelievably fast. It had to be moving at close to a hundred kilometers per hour to cover ground at the speed it was approaching. It looked like a silver blur in the night.
As Meekail stood transfixed by the creature bearing down on them, Talnor called out “Use the vehicles as cover.” He raised his gyrojet rifle and fired at the creature. He squeezed off three shots in rapid succession. The small rockets left the barrel of the rifle and raced toward the creature. The first shot missed passing behind the monster as it raced toward them. However, the next two shots were true and slammed into the creature’s hindquarters but didn’t seem to affect it at all except to give it a target. As Meekail watched, the monster swerved to bear down on Talnor.
The shots galvanized Meekail and the others to action as well. Belatedly, Meekail raised his own rifle and fired three shots at the monster. His first shot connected but the other two went over the creature’s head. Skz’Tik’a fired with her electrostunner. Meekail couldn’t tell if the shot did anything or not as the creature didn’t react. Hakdem fired with a rifle as well but all of his shots went wide. Anton dived back toward the explorer and Deelar fired his needler rifle at the creature. He missed with his first two shots but the third one hit. However, it didn’t seem to do much, the needles just bounced off the creature’s hide.
In the blink of an eye, the creature was among them. As it approached it raised its long tail and fired some sort of dart hitting Deelar squarely in his body. Deelar staggered backwards, bent over in pain.
The monster had a huge mouth filled with sharp teeth. On the top of its head were four stalks that each ended in an eye. Each of its four paws had three long claws. As Meekail watched it lashed out at Skz’Tik’a with its front claws and mouth. As it did so, Meekail noticed that the eye stalks on the the top of the creature’s head were retracted back into the head, presenting a smooth cranial surface as it attacked. The eyes reemerged as the creature’s head withdrew from the attack. Skz’Tik’a’s quick speed and the creature’s temporary blindness allowed her to dodge the blow, if barely.
Along each side, the creature had three long tentacle-like arms that ended in a series of suction cups. With these appendages, the monster reached out and grabbed Anton, pulling him away from the explorer and toward the creature’s mouth. Anton struggled to get free but could not break the creature’s grip.
Meekail couldn’t believe the ferocity of the attack. All of that had occurred in just a few seconds. From his left came a blood curdling yell. He saw Talnor, obviously having slipped into the battle rage that Yazirians were known to experience, charging toward the monster with his Kha’dan, a yazirian cultural sword, held high. As he neared the creature he took a swipe at the tentacles holding Anton. The creature dodged out of the way but Talnor still managed to connect with its body, slicing through the armor and drawing blood.
Skz’Tik’a once again fired her electrostunner, this time at point blank range. The effect this time was visible as the creature shuddered from the blast. However, this wasn’t enough to stop it from bringing Anton to its mouth where it savagely bit into the helpless man. Anton went limp and Meekail couldn’t tell if he was still alive or not. At the same time, the creature reared up and slashed at Skz’Tik’a with its front claws. This time, Skz’Tik’a couldn’t get out of the way and was sent sprawling, two large gashes across the vrusk’s abdomen.
Meekail didn’t have any sort of melee weapon and firing his rifle risked the chance of hitting Talnor or Anton. Realizing he couldn’t do much at the moment, he raced over to Deelar. There was a large dart, oozing with puss and other fluids sticking out of Deelar’s midsection. Deelar had collapsed and was starting to lose the definition of his limbs. “Poison,” Deelar croaked, “And a nasty one too. My whole body is on fire.” Meekail yanked the dart out of his friend as the dralasite went limp.”
With Skz’Tik’a knocked back, the creature turned its attention on Talnor, the closest opponent. Talnor’s enraged attack landed just as the creature landed a solid blow to Talnor as well. The tall yazirian took another gash out of the monster, this time hitting it on its right front leg just as the creature’s claws connected with Talnor’s arm. The blow broke the arm, Meekail could hear the bones snap, and the claws tore through his wing membranes as well. Talnor dropped his sword and collapsed at the creature’s feet.
Skz’Tik’a, lying prone on the ground, fired her electrostunner once again but missed. The creature dropped Anton who landed in a tangled heap of limbs and charged toward Meekail. Meekail raised his rifle but before he could get a shot off, the creature had grabbed him with its tentacles, pinning his arms to his side and causing him to drop the gun.
Hakdem raced in to melee with the creature picking up Talnor’s khad’dan as he raced by the fallen yazirian. With a yell, Hakdem slashed at the monster, slicing into its hindquarters. As the beast whirled to face Hakdem, Meekail could feel the wind being crushed out of him by the tentacles wrapped around his torso. Any more pressure and he felt that his rips were going to crack.
The monster lashed out at Hakdem with both its front claws and its mouth. Again, as the head came forward its eye stalks retracted into its head. That didn’t help Hakdem. The monster’s aim was true and the creature’s claws ripped huge gashes in Hakdem’s midsection and ripped up his wing membranes. Hakdem dropped like a rock.
Meekail struggled against the tentacles that were holding him in place but to no avail. He could not make them budge even a centimeter. He stared in horror at the huge jaws of the creature as he was lifted towards its mouth, being brought head first into its gaping maw.
Suddenly a burst of rounds split the night air as someone opened fire with an automatic rifle in full auto mode. The beast collapsed and Meekail, still wrapped in the creature’s tentacles, dropped to the ground. Unable to maneuver or try to catch himself, Meekail hit hard, knocking what air he had left in his lungs out completely. As he struggled for a breath, Meekail saw Weston, who had been asleep when they stopped, climbing out of the door of the explorer, auto rifle in hand, and racing over to him. Weston began to pull the tentacles off of Meekail to try to help free him.
Finally catching a breath, with his lungs burning and his body on fire from the abuse, he called out to Weston. “Take care of the others. I’ll be okay.”
“Are you sure?”
Meekail could only nod his head yes at the moment. Weston looked at him and then started to go over to check on Hakdem. After looking at him for a moment, Weston ran back to the explorer where he pulled out Anton’s medkit and ran back over to the yazirian.
Meekail heard Hakdem moan as Weston attempted to stop the bleeding and bind up his wounds. “Darn monkeys,” Weston muttered. “All this fur is getting in the way.”
As Meekail walked over and took some bandages out of the medkit, he saw Skz’Tik’a stagger to her feet. He ran over to help her up. “Take it easy Tika,” Meekail said. “You took a nasty hit. Are you okay?”
“Not really,” Skz’Tik’a replied. “But I’ll survive.” Taking some of the bandages from Meekail she added, “I can take care of myself. Go check on the others.”
Meekail headed over to check on Talnor. He was a mess, with blood everywhere. Talnor was still breathing, much to Meekail’s relief, although he was unconscious. Meekail cleaned and dressed Talnor’s wounds as best he could before tackling his arm. His lower left arm was broken and bent in completely the wrong direction. Meekail didn’t look forward to setting that. He looked around for something he could use as a splint. Finally settling on a couple of stiff branches from a nearby tree, Meekail took the yazirian’s arm and tried to carefully put in back into the proper position.
Talnor screamed, opened his eyes staring straight a Meekail, snarled, and then collapsed back down unconscious. “Crap,” Meekail said, breathing rapidly to calm himself down. “I wasn’t expecting that.” With Talnor’s arm back in the proper position, Meekail bound it with the branches to keep it from moving. When he looked up he saw Weston helping a very slow moving Deelar back toward the explorers. Skz’Tik’a was standing beside Anton’s body.
Meekail walked over to Skz’Tik’a. “How is he?” he asked, already knowing the answer from the way the vrusk was standing.
“Dead. The monster crushed his ribs and I think one of them punctured his heart.”
Meekail sat down heavily and buried his head in his hands. “Two dead. Four seriously wounded,” Meekail thought to himself. “Out of eight. Some leader I am. Can’t even keep my team safe.” He just sat there, letting the guilt and the pain, both emotional and physical, wash over him.
Deelar sat down beside him and patted his knee. “There isn’t anything you could have done Meekail. There is no way we could have expected this. It’s so ferocious and lethal that it is just a quick death on four legs for any small group. Personally, I think we were lucky to only loose Anton. I thought I was a goner for sure after taking that poison dart to the gut. And when Talnor and Skz’Tik’a went down I gave up hope. But we made it through. We survived. And that’s what we need to keep on doing. Let’s go. Get up and get moving.” With that, the dralasite stood up and walked over toward Skz’Tik’a and Weston who were staring at the creature, now lying prone on the ground.
Meekail sat there a moment longer looking at Anton’s lifeless body. “No,” he thought to himself. “Surviving isn’t enough. We have to find a way to fight back and throw these invading aliens off our home.” With that, he too stood up and walked over to the creature.
“I can’t believe how fast the thing was,” Skz’Tik’a was saying as Meekail joined the other three examining the creature. “It looks too big to be that quick.”
“And it was either impervious to pain or didn’t care,” Meekail said, joining the conversation. “It just kept fighting even though it was seriously wounded. Most animals, after being wounded like that, would have broken off and tried to escape.”
“It’s almost like it was programmed to be a death machine,” Deelar added.
“What was it you said to me back there Deelar?” Meekail said. “I think you called it a ‘quick death on four legs’. I think that is an apt name, Quickdeath.”