Serpent Hive Interior
Antarctica, 2,000 B.C.
Larnu'da and Oc'tr had been sent out from the Pyramid to scout the grounds for any Hard Meat that had escaped the grounds. More specifically, the one fellow Hunter that had been responsible for tracking the one lost egg before the Sacrifice could commence with the Hunt, Lar'miba. He had not turned up for hours now, and Tinoka, the one who took charge of leading the Hunt (although he was a student himself), had sent Larnu'da and Oc'tr to find him.
Instead, they found something entirely different.
They had picked up the trail of their fellow peer, but had already feared that the Hunter had met his death long before they saw the blood. Neverthe-less they followed it, finding ooman footprints along the way that had been left behind by residual heat, like Lar'miba's. Though they were only hours old, the ooman tracks were fresher, more prominent in the lens of the masks. They decided to follow those.
They came to the cave entrance, finding the bodies of three fallen native creatures, their chests already ruptured. Excitement filled the air and bloodlust ran high as the two students went deeper into the cave, finding evidence only a few yards in that the Hard Meat had been here; the hive resin that the Hard Meat used to build their home was apparent everywhere.
They eventually came to the egg room, catching sight of the Queen mother laying her eggs onto the floor. So this was why Lar'miba had never returned from his quest; the Hard Meat had changed forms and dealt out its death sting to him. Or worse. This was not the same Queen that was down in the bottom of the Pyramid; that one was safely secured. Wasn’t it? Another one had simply changed hormones to become yet another Queen, and managed to establish itself and a hive. And the hive was growing.
The Hard Meat Queen called a warning to her broodlings and they came running full force into the chamber. Larnu'da and Oc'tr greeted the drones with the mettle of their weapons. The Hunting here was too good to miss; the two of them would have many trophies to take home, plus a giant Hard Meat Queen skull to mount up on their wall. Songs would be sung and tales would be told of their glory in battle, and they would sire many females and have many offspring.
Larnu'da cut and sliced with his spear; one of the Hard Meat jumped up into the air to avoid the slash; he countered and followed up with a cut to the abdomen. The bug screamed its death cry, its life fluids--thwei--draining from it and eating away at the hive floor. Oc'tr beat back his opponents just as fiercely as his brethren; no matter how many tried to overtake the two Hunters, the bugs were always pushed back that much more. Two drones screeched at them and charged; the Hunters sidestepped the move and let the bugs run into the tip of their spears.
Yes, Oc'tr and Larnu'da would have many trophies to choose from, but there would be only a select few that would be fit to be displayed on their wall.
The Queen watched the whole battle from where she was perched; there was nothing she could do with the sac attached to her rear, depositing the precious eggs. Her drones attacked fiercely, without mercy. The Predator race would pay for killing so much of her brood; she would see to that.
Let loose of her ovipositor, the Queen could cause some serious damage to the two Hunters. She knew of their kind, the Predators. Her kind had battled these creatures for a long time--centuries, and she knew that the Predator race simply wanted the heads of her drones to take home, thus desecrating the bodies by leaving the rest behind. Revenge was appropriate for that--capture or kill any Predator that came into the hive.
These other strange bipeds, on the other hand, were somewhat new to the Alien race, but they were now known about as well. Just as the Predator race had started out so primitively and grown so deadly, the Alien race would watch the humans evolve as well. Soon, because of the scouts that the Queen had sent out, she would direct her minions to attack the nearby settlement of the humans, and kill as many as possible and take as many as the drones could for the future of unborn warriors. Test their defenses and see how these new creatures bled, and see if they were any good as hosts for future young.
The Queen could sense the presence of drones still in the Pyramid--as well as the other three Pyramids across the continent that each housed its own Queen--and that they vowed to bring punishment to the Predator species, no matter how many were here on this battleground.
She screamed a silent signal to all reaches of the hive for her drones to come protect her; the Hunters had reached the Royal Chamber. They came running with full speed and attacked on sight, catching the Hunters off guard. Surprise was one element that the Alien species excelled at; that, and their sheer numbers was how they mostly conquered over their enemies. It would be tooth and claw and their natural instinct to survive and thrive that would win the day.
The warrior Hunters were fierce combatants, she would give them that. Like her brood, they would not give up so easily. The drones fell before their blades, and the Queen screamed in rage. Until now, the hive had grown by feeding and birthing off the local wildlife. Now the hive would grow stronger with the Predators in the collective. The Queen told her warriors to take the intruders alive for impregnation. She called to the one and only creature that was different from the rest of the drones to come and help. The one that was special.
Larnu'da and Oc'tr fought well, but the Hard Meat still came at them in droves. They were numerous. Never had they fought so many! If only they had the shoulder burners, then they could cause some real damage to the drones. They both decided to save the Queen Mother for later. She screeched out into the darkness once more, possibly calling for more reinforcements. The Hunt had only begun for less than twelve hours and the hive had grown that much already! Their numbers seemed endless, but the drones and warriors were going down in groups or in singles with each slash, every strike, and every stab. Each one that fell was another in their names, and oh how the Hard Meat screamed in pain and anger as the Hunters kept up their attacks and defensive strikes.
Suddenly there came a mighty roar, one that seemed of sheer anger and hatred. But it was not from the Hard Meat Mother, or the drones. Nor was it from the two students fighting.
It came from something that was still down a side passage… and coming this way.
Dishna and the others watched in fascination at the gods and the Serpents fighting. Speed was of the essence here, that much was clear; strike before the Serpent came in too close to get you, then dance away and strike anew.
The Serpent Mother screamed once again from where she was perched. Trinop thought that it was due to the gods winning so much, and the hunting party silently wished the gods a clean, swift battle.
Then there was the sound of something coming their way, down another tunnel to the left. And it was big. Its steps echoed as it walked, even among the battle. The ground trembled slightly with each step it took.
The Predalien was huge; larger than any normal-sized drone. It had twice the strength of one warrior, plus the attributes of the Predator species built into its chemistry. Its face was like that of the Predator race: Mandibles and teeth and the dreadlocked hair, as well as its structure and build, but the Alien race’s traits still persisted inside its mutated features as well, such as its tongue and spiked tail. From an outsider’s perspective it was as if the two species’ attributes and features were at a constant battle to dominate one another on a genetic level. But the combination of the two species’ traits became something more, something only imagined in a being’s wildest nightmare.
It came around the bend, its heavily armor-plated tail swinging heavily behind it. The creature could easily split apart a human’s skull with one swing; two for a Predator. The battle seemed to stop for the moment as the creature presented itself; the drones had backed off somewhat to let this new defender of the hive come forth. The Predalien roared at the intruders, swinging its tail and sending it crashing into the wall behind it, leaving cracks in the hard resin to emphasize its power. It stalked toward them and joined the fight.
The Queen looked over and watched the humans as the battle continued; they just stood there, awaiting the outcome of the fight. What would they do when the Predators succumbed to the teeth and claws of her children? Would they run away and bring more of themselves in numbers, to try and take out the hive? That would not happen; even though the humans’ strengths were not known yet, it was best to keep your enemy off guard. The Queen sent a message to the rest of her children to take the humans alive for incubation as well. It was only fitting to replace the numbers of her precious children that she had already lost to the doomed Hunters.
The two students watched in horror as the new Hard Meat presented itself. It was a mix of Yautja and Hard Meat features; they had heard about the mutations that the Hard Meat could produce in its strain for different outcomes depending upon the host. In this case, this must have been what happened to Lar’miba; a larvae had attached to his face and produced this monstrosity of an Alien.
Seeing one for the first time in their lives, Larnu’da and Oc’tr knew that this abomination could not stand with the tribe. The creature must be killed. Now.
Oc’tr let out a cry of challenge and rushed forward to do battle with the Hard Meat creature, taking out ordinary drones and warriors along the way. He extended his wrist blades to the fullest extent and collided with the enemy. The two of them became one as they wrestled on the hive ground, both of them screaming in the darkness. The Hard Meat drones then converged onto Larnu’da, but he was ready. He slashed and cut and stabbed, and did not give up. He was so busy cutting this way and that, that he did not see the tail drip down from above . . . And plunge into his chest.
Immense pain, fiery and hot, shot through him. The Hard Meat’s tail continued to push through his back until it exploded out his chest and armor, punching through with a sickening sound like dry wood snapping on a fire. Still he kept fighting, killing drones left and right. Then he was hoisted up into the air, off the ground, and pain suddenly shot through him a second time in all directions. The tail now being the only thing holding him in mid air turned him towards his silent attacker and he came face-to-face with the Hard Meat that had speared him. The creature lay both hands on his shoulders and hissed in his face. Behind his mask, Larnu’da knew that his time had come, that the gods were pleased with his performance. There was no greater honor in that. With a final look into the Hard Meat’s face and gleaming teeth, he roared a Death chant and knew this was his Final Hunt.
The drone had the Predator by the shoulders and its tail stuck into the prey. By all means the enemy should be dead now, but it wasn’t. The drone could still see some life left in it. Below on the ground, the drone’s brother, the Predalien, still wrestled with the other enemy Predator. The drone saw its brethren rip its hand off the enemy. The Predator cried out in pain, and fought harder. It slashed with every counter move it could make, but it was not enough. The Predalien soon beat the creature into submission, wrapping its tail around the enemy’s chest and arms and crushing it in a hold, trying to stamp out any resistance. That would make it easier to cocoon. Soon there would be yet another Predalien to make the hive stronger.
The one Predator the drone still held seemed to weaken now, sagging in the air, the drone’s tail the only thing keeping it upright. The drone asked the Queen what to do with it.
Kill it, was the Queen’s reply. There will be plenty other hosts for the hive.
The drone opened its mouth and shot out its tongue, easily punching through the face mask and the soft flesh beneath and out the other side of the enemy’s head. Bright green blood, different than the Alien species’, splashed onto the ground and the body sagged further, now lifeless. The drone dropped it to the ground, its tail coming out of the raw wound with a slurping and gushing sound, the end of the tail now the same bright color. It turned to the humans that still stood and dared to watch as the battle was won.
Dishna looked to the rest of his companions and stepped back a little, feeling like somebody had suddenly punched him in the gut. Hard. Kontu was right! The gods could be defeated by the Serpent, and now it was him and his scouting party’s turn to die. It had happened in only a few minutes, but life had slowed down so every detail and smell could be branded on the four humans’ brains forever.
Or, at least, for the next few short moments.
Dishna brandished his now pathetic spear and held his shield tight, but he knew that it would do no good. The Serpents were fast; he saw that first-hand. The rest of his people were finished; the creatures would come into the village at the dead of night and kill everyone who slept there, he was sure of it, just as had been predicted in the stories of old.
But not before Dishna and the rest of his party had met their end.
Before he could even say anything, the creatures were on them. They tore at the humans’ bare flesh, biting and clawing. Dishna’s last thought was of Kontu, and of how right he was that the Serpent had indeed changed.
It had changed into many numbers, and it was even deadlier than what the stories and legends had held.