Outskirts of the Village
Antarctica, 2,000 B.C.
Kontu kept on walking past the rest of the huts in the village, and past the rest of the people who had not bothered to come to the gathering. The tribe had already made up its mind with what Kel Moka had said about the banishment if anyone left, and they would undoubtedly follow him to their deaths. Basically, the Chieftain had sent them to their deaths without a choice, if the action itself was not exactly suicide.
He kept on walking and came to the guards. They eyed him, and he wondered what they thought. As a respected member of the village, Kontu was known to be the future Chieftain after Kel Moka was gone. However, with the Serpent looming over the tribe like a deadly stinger and waiting for the opportune time to attack, Kontu could see that taking Kel Moka’s place was not his path. His path lay in a different direction, and it started here, now, with one simple decision: to be banished from the village and the tribe forever. Kontu did not have a problem with that; he was a Hunter, and as such, he could fend for himself and get whatever kind of sustenance he needed to survive.
One time some years back he had fallen into a large hole that was used to trap large prey. It was the unfortunate misstep on the trap that had landed him the broken leg after the fall. For three days he had lain in the pit, and had survived by carefully rationing the food in his belt pouch about his waist, as well as eating ants and once a small lizard. It rained on him in the pit halfway through the second day, and after the storm let up on the third day the ground had been so wet and muddy that some of the pit wall had sagged and collapsed, making a small incline and allowing Kontu to drag himself up to the top. He had crawled and hobbled half a mile to the camp before another hunting party came across him. Being banished from the village made no difference to him. He could survive. And survive he would.
He was just past the guards at the entrance to the village, the guards giving him respected bows at his farewell after a few kind words, when a voice from behind him spoke up. "Kontu—wait! Hold up, I'm coming!"
He turned to see a young boy, probably about fifteen years old, running toward him as fast as he could go. The boy was almost at the age where he could court and marry; another year or so and he would be able to choose any female in the village that had not had the sacred ritual of mating yet. All the decorum on his neck and tattoos on his arms told it all; he was a fellow warrior like Kontu, but at his age had yet to be tested in a Hunt. Finally the boy caught up with Kontu, and for a minute or so he rested on the ground to catch his breath, bent over with hands on his legs.
When enough time had passed Kontu said, "Why would you follow me, when it is banishment that has been placed on my soul, young one? Go back to the village; as much as I desire the company of someone, I do not want to force the decision upon you, especially one as young as yourself, a fellow warrior."
The boy glanced up at him as he said this and saw Kontu staring down on him, a disarming look that seemed to comfort the boy for only a moment… and then the realization of the situation and the choice he made sunk in.
"I follow you because I believe the stories, and that the Serpent shall pass through here soon. I am ready to face the consequences if need be in my choice to follow you; besides, I know that you will need help to survive out there. Someone to watch your back. You are the true Chieftain of the tribe and village, not that old one who has been blinded by ignorance. It is you that should be holding the position; everyone knows it, they just don’t want to come forward and say it. They’re all scared to for fear of what Kel Moka will say or do to them as punishment."
The boy got up and dusted himself off, still looking into Kontu's eyes.
Kontu sighed inwardly; he had seen this kind of prowess before in himself once, though the boy made an excellent point. Although Kontu was only a few years older than his fellow warrior, the perspectives on life between the two of them was immensely different. Kontu wanted to get away to preserve his life in the name of honor and protect his village; the boy here simply wanted to show the leader of the tribe that he was wrong and Kontu was right, as well as to prove his prowess in a battle perhaps.
"I don’t need help to survive out here. Have you any idea what you are doing to yourself here, risking your standing in the tribe as an outsider from here on out?"
"I have, and I believe that you are right and that no one else is going to follow you because of Kel Moka's blindness. He will not see the fall ahead of him." The younger warrior looked straight at Kontu, and Kontu could tell there was no talking him out of it. He had warned everyone, had asked all who would listen to make a decision, and had left it at that. Clearly he did not expect there to be anyone following him. Yet here was the result of what he wanted, even if it was only one other fellow tribal person, and a younger Hunter at that.
Almost too young, he thought, but you have to start somewhere on your first Hunt.
The learning curve would be steep, indeed.
Kontu smiled. "Then that makes two of us." He paused. "What is your name?"
"I am Antor, warrior-in-training."
The older hunter nodded. "You ever been on a Hunt before, Antor?"
"Only once, and that had been when I was allowed to advance my standing into a warrior."
"Your hunting test then, to prove yourself to become a hunter."
"Yes, and I passed the test."
"Well," Kontu said, "let me assure you that this is no Hunt; this is survival. We hunt to survive; we survive the Serpent and its deadly sting by not going back to the village." He nodded back to the way they had come. "We do not come back, cannot come back here. We have been branded as cowards from our own home because the village has a blind leader and the people are blind that follow him. The Serpent shall come in the dead of night, and there is nothing the gods can do about it. Do you understand our position and your choice if you do come along with me?"
Antor paused in his thinking, seeing Kontu's face hold a look of seriousness. If looks could kill, we wouldn’t need spears, Kontu thought. Finally Antor nodded and said, "I do accept the choice I have placed upon myself, even if it means to save the village."
"Save the village--what do you mean?"
"I had thought that you were off to kill the Serpent to protect the village. But if you did that, then Kel Moka and the others would not be living up to the old traditions held up by our people. To kill the Serpent means banish-ment, but it is to save the people we love."
Kontu hissed, disgusted. "It is our people who do not see the danger ahead of them; it is our people who have turned their backs on us. Only you, Antor, have seen the light this day and for that you are blessed by the gods. The rest of the tribe shall fall with their blind leader."
"Maybe so, but we can still try to save them. We must try. Otherwise what is the use in running when the Serpent will take over everything in this land and the gods cannot even stop it?"
"Not running--retreating, young one. Sometimes in the name of honor one must retreat to fight another day."
"Maybe so, but we must do with what time is given to us to possibly prevent the tribe's death more than it already will be."
Kontu paused, thinking it over. The younger warrior had another point, and it was well-made. The boy should have been a philosopher instead, Kontu mused. Perhaps the other tribal people did not see the danger in the path ahead because they truly couldn’t. It was Kel Moka’s words that kept them from truly seeing, but if you allowed yourself to be led by the blind, then you deserved what you got. However, perhaps the Chieftain had chosen his words oh so carefully, for he knew that if he were to admit to his errors, he might suddenly have an angry tribe to deal with, as well as dethronement. With Kontu’s status in the tribe being right underneath Kel Moka, Kontu would then take the throne, and he would get the entire tribe to temporarily move out of the village, thus avoiding the Serpent. "You may be right, Antor. I see your point, and there actually may be a way prevent this from happening to our beloved village and our way of life. Come with me."
The Queen mother looked at all her wonderful children and sent her love to them. She told them of the raid she planned on the human village that was not too far from the hive. The collective must grow; the hive will grow stronger. She laid another egg; the pain was bearable but the hive must grow.
She would send every drone and warrior at her command to the village, except for the guards that were posted just outside the egg room. The human numbers would dwindle this night; the only enemy left would be the mighty Predator race, but already the hive had taken down three of them. The Queen did not know of how many there were, but she was determined to let the hive grow with their bodies as incubators as well. Already the hive was much stronger; the numbers increased with every new drone or warrior that was born. The hive mother sensed other warriors and other queen mothers inside each of the four pyramid structures that was not too far from here; the telepathic communication between the alien species could be reached across the globe if put to the test. Her drones sent messages back to her saying they would come to the hive and assist the attack. For this effort, every drone was needed, minus the guards. Soon her broodlings would attack. Soon.