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Chapter 12: Jungle biome-walled city

Terra sprinted through the trees following behind Dexter and Daniel as they hurled back towards the village. Daniel asked for details as they ran but Dexter simply said that once guard saw the outline of the giant owls the Desert uses to fight, they immediately raised the alarm and sent him to find Daniel. They burst into the clearing where the settlement was and immediately looked up to see several giant owls gliding silently through the air above the buildings. As they watched, Men jumped off of the birds, landed on the ground and started attacking the villagers. Several archers stood at the ready and shot hundreds of arrows towards the birds while others guarded them with various weapons. Terra scanned the rest of the village to see several dozen men wearing all black gear already engaged in battle with the residents of the settlement. Daniel turned to her with regret in his eyes. “ I have to go. Please be safe.” Then he turned and jumped into the fray with his blade swinging. He was out of sight within moments. Terra raised her eyes from the battle back to the birds wheeling above it. They blocked the moon so Terra could only see the outline of their bodies. The arrows that the militia archers sent towards them flew through the air in sync like an arc of death. Terra watched as they hit one bird who was flying much lower than the others as it prepared to drop more people onto the scene. The owl screeched as it was hit, and flapped its wings desperately before tumbling through the air and crashing into the trees a hundred meters left of the village.

Terra looked at Dexter who stood next to her taking in the scene himself while waiting for her to make a move. She knew he would follow her and stick to her like glue. She turned and hurled herself through the trees, determined to reach the fallen bird and whoever was riding on its back. She heard Dexter behind her and pushed herself harder. If she could stop the person riding that owl from getting back to the settlement and their reinforcements, there was a chance she could capture them. She finally burst into the space where the giant owl fell. It had crushed several trees on its way down, forming a clearing of its own. The owl was still barely alive when her gaze first fell on it. It had big cat-like eyes and brown ,white, gray, and black markings that looked like the bark of a tree. It lay on its stomach staring straight ahead at her. She stood there transfixed as she watched sadly as the light disappeared from its eyes. “Terra look to the right of the owl.” Dexter voice was low in her ear. She turned and scanned the trees to the right of the owl just in time to see a knife flying through the air at her head She quickly rolled out of the way and charged towards the spot where the knife came from. She heard Dexter right behind her covering her rear.When they’d made it halfway across the clearing a shadow leapt of the trees and landed on top of Dexter. Terra turned in time to see them slam into the ground and immediately begin wrestling for dominance. Terra stopped and turned back to help him fight off his attacker but another knife flew past her face. “There’s two of them!” She yelled to Dexter, knowing he’d expect her to go after the second attacker instead of helping him. “Go!” He yelled back as he wrestled his opponent to the ground as they traded blows. Terra turned away and headed towards the knife thrower who was hiding within the trees ahead of her.As she got closer, more knives came flying at her at a faster rate.She continued to dodge wondering why the knife thrower didn’t try a different attack that didn’t give away his hiding place. Just as the thought crossed her mind her mind ,he leapt out of his tree and tackled her to the ground. She’d crossed into the shadows and as a result couldn’t see any details of her attacker only his outline. The air was forced out of her lungs as she hit the ground hard. She’d managed to land on her back and used it to her advantage moving sideways to dodge the blows that rained down upon her. She was too slow to move once and she felt the strong impact of his fist hit her cheek.Her head snapped to the side and she felt tears sting her eyes. Her assailant swung again and she used the second his arm was raised to land a powerful blow to his nose that knocked him back causing him to lose his balance. Terra took advantage of the moment and rolled out from under him quickly jumping to her feet as he stayed on the ground holding his broken nose. She grabbed his hair in one head and hit him with the other while simultaneously landing a kick to his gut that knocked him over. He quickly bounced back to his feet and swung at her again,missing by a mere centimeter.

They traded blows back and forth, attacking and blocking almost in sync. She shot out a leg in an attempt to trip him but he saw it and jumped back. She was breathing heavily now, she knew she was getting tired but couldn’t feel it because of the adrenaline running in her veins.They circled each other for a moment before he attempted to run at her again, she met his charge head on and slammed into his chest with her shoulder which sent him flying back. They stumbled apart for a second to catch their breaths before diving back at each other, grappling to get the upper hand.Terra could hear Dexter fighting with his opponent a few feet away. The smack of a heavy blow landing echoed through the night and she heard a cry of pain. The voice was too high pitched to be Dexters so she didn’t look but her opponent did. She took that moment to sweep his feet from underneath him. He landed on his knees and she immediately followed through by slamming her knee into his nose. He hit the ground and was instantly knocked out cold. Terra looked over her shoulder to locate Dexter. He was standing over his own opponent. “It’s a woman. Yours?” She turned to her own opponent. He was still in the shadows. She grabbed him by the arm and started dragging him out into the moonlight. “He’s a man, they obviously were a pair. You could tell from the way he looked over when he heard her cry of pain even though he was in the middle of a fight.” She replied over her shoulder as she dragged him into the moonlight. When the light fully hit his face she froze and dropped his arm quickly.

“Dexter!” she called. Hearing the panic in her voice, he was beside her in an instant with a knife in his hand.

“Yes? What’s wrong?”

Terra looked up at him with a shocked expression still on her face. “I know that man.”

He looked at the man curiously. “How do you know someone from the Desert biome? I thought you said you’d never been outside of this one.”

Terra turned to stare back at the face that had haunted her dreams for years. “I know him because he’s my brother.”

Dexter glanced at her and then at the face of her brother. She knew what he saw. They had the same brown skin,black hair and grey eyes. They could have been identical twins if his features were not muscular while hers were feminine.

“Well shit.” He finally chuckled after a moment.

Terra couldn’t think of a better way to describe the moment.

“So you’re saying you just beat up your brother? And don’t say you didn’t because I saw how savage that knee to the nose was.” He continued to laugh deeply.

Terra punched his arm. “Will you knock it off? This is serious. What are we supposed to do with them?”

“We take them back to the city like we were ordered to. It’s simple. Just because he’s your brother doesn’t change the fact that he attacked our biome.” Dexter voice changed from light to stone cold in a second.

“This is too much.” Terra mumbled to herself quietly as she continued staring at Tylers face. He looked older now. He had facial hair now and the planes of his face were clearly defined. He’d turned out quite handsome. She tried to picture the little brother she remembered and couldn’t;his image was forever replaced by the face of the man laying on the ground in front of her.

“I know. And we will talk about it later I promise. Right now let’s get back to the settlement. And help end this.” He swung the backpack he wore around to his front and opened it. After a moment he pulled out lengths of rope and handed them to her. “Tie her up. I’ll take him.” Terra took the rope and quickly tied the woman’s hands and feet together. Dexter did the same with Tyler. “ I suggest we drag them back towards the settlement instead of leaving them out here. Who knows what may come upon them.” He said as he grabbed ahold of Tylers wrists. “Alright” Terra did the same with the woman. The woman had a small stature so it was easy to drag her. Terra was certain she could have carried her if she wanted to. Terra looked at the beautiful owl corpse once more before they left the clearing dragging the desert hunters behind them. She felt as if her whole mind was numb at the realization that she found her brother already. She tried to push the thought from her mind as she focused on her task at hand. She couldn’t stop herself from sneaking glances at Tyler as they worked. It took minutes to drag them close enough to the settlement that the chances of a monster coming long and mauling them was unlikely. They placed them both behind two bushes that were near each other and ran towards the clearing of the settlement. They were both breathing heavily from the exertion of dragging someone’s full body weight. As they burst into the clearing they saw a group of desert hunters running right towards them. They all had grim expression of their faces as they ran. She could see that some of them were limping. There were a group of militia members right behind them laughing and encouraging them to run faster. Terra drew her sword back ready to strike when they came within range but they changed direction at the last second and ran past her and Dexter. Terra stood there in confusion for a moment before she turned to run after them. “Terra, no! Let them retreat like the cowards they are.” She heard Daniel’s voice behind her. She turned to see him. He was bloody and his clothing was ripped all over. He had a new black eye and a bruise over one cheek but he still smiled at her warmly. “I’m so glad you are both okay. Everyone from the settlement is alive. I looked around while I was fighting but I didn’t see you anywhere.” Terra looked past him towards the village and she could see people bustling around. The group that ran up with him turned and headed back to help the others. They all nodded at Terra and Dexter before they left.Terra returned Daniels smile easily, finally breaking through the numbness that has settled around her since she saw her brother. “We went after two that went down with the first owl that was shot down. It was a bit of a fight but we won. The worst injury I have is a bruised cheek.” She turned to Dexter,they hadn’t talked about injuries earlier.

“Are you injured?”

“Besides having an injured chest from that initial impact i’m fine. Not even a scratch. Are you sure all you have is an injured cheek? You look like you fought more than one person.” He did a slow scan of her appearance. She looked down at herself. She wore brown cargo pants and a long sleeve black shirt. Both had several knew stains and new holes in them but nothing dramatic. She noticed blood was soaked into her pants on one leg; she reached down to investigate and pulled a rock that embedded itself into her skin away from her leg. “I look fine.” She announced to Dexter and Daniel. Both of their faces said they thought overwise. “Were you able to capture the two that you were fighting ?” Daniel asked suddenly once he finished his silent appraisal of her appearance. “Yeah we hid them in the bushes behind us.” Dexter said and turned to walk back in the direction they’d come from with Terra and daniel following close behind. Daniel reached the first bush that her brother was behind. “We hid one of them behind this bush...” He trailed off as he walked around the bush. He bent down and picked up something they couldn’t see the held out his hand to show them lengths of rope in his hand. He stared at them a moment before he looked up at them. “He’s gone.” “What?” Terra exclaimed rushing forward to see for herself. Sure enough the space behind the bush was empty .“Those hunters must have found him and freed him as they left .” Daniel offered helpfully. “Lets go check the other one.” Terra said automatically feeling the blood rushing in her ears as she realized that Tyler had once again disappeared. She knew where she could find him now but it didn’t change the fact that he was here and now he was gone. Again. She heard Dexter yell. “ I’ve got her!” “Great!” Daniel replied excitedly. She could hear them talking back and forth excitedly. She stood in the same spot and stared at the ground where she last saw Tyler. Dexters and Daniels voices seemed to suddenly be far away and her vision blurred. She stumbled a step backwards and opened her mouth to call out. She staggered backward more abruptly this time, her mind swirling with memories of the first time her brother disappeared, her breaths became more shallow until she collapsed in a heap to the jungle floor.

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