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Chapter 2: Jungle biome: Walled city

He smiled at her as they ran free. Dodging through the trees and jumping over bushes,they ran wild .The sun was shining down on her and she loved it,she loved the feel of the leaves brushing her arms and the sun beating down on her skin. She loved the boy running next to her. He was her own personal sun and he was amazing. They finally broke the trees and splashed into the river laughing and swimming together as they played; she stopped swimming to stare at him. He was swimming away from her heading into the deep part of the river when he stopped and looked around until he saw her. “Come on!” He yelled excitement in his voice. She smiled and followed him and they swam until they hit the other river bank. He reached it first and helped her out of the water. She smiled up at him in thanks before she pushed him back in and jumped back when he tried to grab her. When he resurfaced a few minutes earlier he was glaring at her. She screamed in joy and ran down the jungle path hearing him following her. She pushed herself faster laughter as she felt him getting closer. She ran even harder reaching the limits of the her stamina as she ran, watching the trees whip past. She let out a scream of joy. This is what she loved running wild and being free with him. She felt him getting close again so she veered off the path into the true jungle itself. Suddenly she felt him catch her,he tackled her and they both rolled across the ground. Terra laughed again and she stared up at him,he had her pinned. He leaned down and kissed her. A light sweet kiss and whispered “I love you Terra” in her ear. She froze. No one had ever said that her before. She wrestled him off of her and ran again faster this time away from the words she didn’t dare say back. Suddenly the earth dropped off and she went tumbling until she was falling straight through empty air. She heard Daniel calling her name as she fell but she wasn’t scared. This was just another adventure whether she live or die. “Terra!” was the last thing she heard before she hit the water.

4 years later.

Terra lunged out of the way as the humongous leg of the spiinder crashed down where she was standing moments ago. The impact with the hard ground sent a shock throughout her body but she kept moving regardless. The beast roared, a rage infused sound that ricocheted throughout the air. She raised her sword, sending a graceful arc of sand into the air, and charged its legs. Her breathing was hard and her body felt heavy. She’d been fighting the beast for over ten minutes now. She felt her body slowing, weighed down by weariness. The spiinder had eight thick furry muscular legs upon which its head rested. It had thick leathery skin and a serrated horn sticking out of where you would expect its nose to be.Furious cruel black eyes glared down at her. Altogether it was an horrendous result of the toxic environment it lived in.It was an ugly monstrosity. She reached the beast just as it tried to smash her into the ground again, and she coughed as the smell of the beast hit her nose. It smelled rancid, like garbage left out for weeks at a time. She ran underneath the beast and, while holding her breath, lopped at its inner knee segments. Its leg collapsed and the beast stumbled for a moment then bellowed loudly and renewed its efforts to kill her.“One down seven to go.” Terra muttered to herself as she paced a wide circle around the beast, watching as it charged towards her again. She wished it didn’t have such an intense stench. Terra held her sword tighter preparing to strike again. She wiped the sweat out of her eyes with her shirt. It was a blazing hot day and she was quickly getting overheated.Between the heat and her own weariness she was ready for this fight to be over. She needed to finish this now. She let out a battle cry and met the spiinder’s charge head on. It was trying a new approach this time, charging head first so it could pierce her straight through with its serrated horn.

Terra drove to the ground to avoid that gruesome fate.The impact forced all the air out of her lungs and she gasped desperately trying to fill her lungs. She’d seen victims of spiinder’s attacks during her journey to the walled city four years ago and she did not want to be on the receiving end this time. Dust scattered skyward from her impact with the earth and she quickly jumped to her feet and thrust her sword upwards into the spiinder’s belly. Its insides gushed out all over her, plastering her in guts and blood. She felt nausea coiling in her stomach threatening to escape.She ignored it and kept pushing with all her strength desperately trying to reach its heart with her sword.If she managed to reach it, then this fight would be over quickly. She pulled her sword free and rolled out from underneath the beast hoping she rolled far enough to not be crushed when it collapsed. She was covered in blood and guts, and now dirt as well. She wiped her shirt across her eyes again to find the spiinder glaring at her as it screamed its dying keen. Then it collapsed with a large thud.

Terra tried to slow down her breathing but found she couldn’t . It was done. She’d won the fight, but adrenaline still pumped in her veins. For a moment it was dead silent . All she could hear was the wind and the echoing of her heartbeat in her ear then a cheer ripped through the air and she was being converged on from all sides by congratulating classmates. “You did it ! You passed your final exam to become a hunter.” Her best friend Makayla screamed in her ear as she embraced her despite all the blood covering her body. Terra threw back her head and laughed with the rest of her class looking skyward she thought of her brother. “This is for you baby boy.” She silently promised.

The rest of her class still had to finish their own final exams with different beasts; usually students were required to stay and cheer on their classmates however since she was covered in gore her instructor let her go shower and then head home for the day. It was a Friday so once everyone finished their tests they would be released early to celebrate .Their graduation was on Monday and spirits were high. As she passed other students on the sidewalk she realized how filthy she looked from the disgusted glances she received. Since the academy used beasts for training often the sight of a trainee covered in blood wasn’t an unusual one.Terra walked a bit faster eager to get home and change. The blood managed to ooze underneath her clothes and she felt entirely disgusted. The academy was set up like a regular college with one major exception. Instead of dorms, it had full blown luxury apartments, always giving their hunters the best of the best.It was a great recruitment tool. After walking another mile her apartment building came into view.

It was unusual for trainees to have their own apartments. They were usually reserved for hunters that the academy paid to handle threats outside the walls of the city. Since she was the daughter of the last remaining hunters of the legendary Lee clan they had given her one so she could complete her training and hopefully be persuaded to stay on and work for the academy as a contracted hunter. Her family was renowned for being able to survive in any biome while the majority of people could only survive in one or two biomes at most. This ability was rare and sporadic; only certain families seemed to have the ability to survive in all biomes. Her family was one the families who decided to become hunters and make use of their skill rather than hide away never leaving the biomes they were born in.However for the majority that was not the case.

All of the other trainees either lived in the city with their parents or outside the walled city like she used to. Terra rounded the corner of her building and stopped in her tracks . A tall man was leaning against her door. Her eyes immediately went to his broad shoulders that were clearly defined underneath his black T-shirt. He turned in her direction and smiled huge megawatt smile the corners of his mouth had smile lines that wrinkled his pretty brown skin. “ I heard the great news. Congratulations Hunter Lee.” Terra was mortified at being caught looking so disgusting but she couldn’t help the smile that being addressed by her new title caused. “Why thank you sir.” She pretended to simper and shyly look away. “I told you to call me Dexter years ago Terra.” He laughed at her poor attempt at coyness.

They’d known each other since she’d shown up at the academy demanding to be admitted. Needless to say it wasn’t a hard argument to win. The following week when classes started she met Dexter. He was in an older class than hers and was there to give her class an introductory lecture. Two years her senior, he’d graduated before she did and went on to become a big shot hunter for the academy. He was known to take on the most dangerous assignments. He was a part of the Jenkins family line that also had the environmental adaptation ability. They’d become fast friends over the years. Lately he’d been alluding to something more between them that Terra chose to ignore because it was easier.

Terra walked up to where Dexter stood in front of her door intending to push past him since he’d apparently grown roots in the concrete and was determined to stand there all day. Before she could he reached out and embraced her in a bear hug. “Ew what the hell Dexter? Im gross!” She exclaimed trying to wiggle out of his arms. Dexter just laughed and squeezed her tighter. “We could always shower together to get this mess off of us.” he whispered suggestively in her ear. Terra rolled her eyes and pulled out of his embrace. “Don’t you have women for that?” Dexter was known as a womanizer around the academy. His reputation had women swarming to him in droves. Dexter gasped and managed to look offended. “ You know none of them compare to you.” Terra laughed and nudged him out of the way. As she unlocked the door she looked back to find him still staring at her wistfully. “You want to come in? You can wait while I shower then we can decide whether to go out or just stay in tonight.” This was their usual routine every weekend he wasn’t with one of his girlfriends. “Of course, what do you think I’m here for?” Dexter asked as he followed her inside her apartment and made himself at home. “Help yourself to whatever.” Terra called over her shoulder as she went into her room and closed the door behind her.

Terra walked into her bedroom and immediately began stripping off her clothes throwing them in the small trash bin by her bed. She never wanted to wear that particular set ever again. She strolled across her spacious bedroom into her bathroom. She had a minimalist set up just the essentials because she didn’t believe in excess. Her mother instilled that into her as she grew up. Her bedroom was large and airy with pristine white walls and a large queen bed in the middle of the room. It also had a wooden dresser along the far wall and a ceiling fan. She didn’t have anything on her walls. It was simple but it was home.

Her bathroom was also extremely spacious; today she was thankful for that fact as she made beeline for her shower. It could easily fit three people at one time with room to spare. Terra turned on the water and bounced from foot to foot on the cold tile floor as she waited for the water to heat up. After a few minutes she got and sighed heavily as the stream of water hit her. She quickly washed her body and hair finally feeling like a human again and not some swamp monster. As she cut off the water and stepped out of the shower she wrapped herself in a towel and walked over to her vanity. It was massive taking up the whole wall adjacent to the shower and toilet. Terra lifter her towel to wipe away the fog that clouded the mirror. She stared at herself in silent appraisal.

She’d never really cared about how she looked but lately she found herself taking a longer time to get ready in the mornings just in case she ran into Dexter during the day. She’d always believed her grey eyes were her best feature. She’d been told many times that the striking contrast between her brown skin and and grey eyes made her unforgettable. She wrung her hair out and brushed it ; it fell just past her shoulders slightly. She liked to keep it shorter because it was harder to grab if she ever had to grapple with an opponent. It wasn’t often that she fought with other humans but relations between all of the biomes were currently worse than ever and they were on the brink of war with their neighboring desert biome. She always figured it was better to be prepared than not. Once she dried her hair she quickly brushed her teeth and walked into her bedroom with her towel wrapped around her.

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