In the room with me was an eight foot, muscle-bound, humanoid creature; completely dwarfing my height of five foot six. Its skin was a yellowy-green, with black and brown diamond shaped birth marks running along its arms, legs and stomach. For hair, the creature had long, ebony, dreadlocks that grew from the back of its oval shaped head to its hips. Each thick lock was decorated with silver rings and bone ornaments. It—no, not “it”, “she”—was wearing a jet black, leather chest piece, an ankle length, dark tan loincloth hung around her hips and sandals were strapped over her feet. Her face scared me the most! Her two eyes were a deep orange with flicks of red, and she had four mandibles; two running along her cheek bones, the others along her jaw. Her bone-white tusks rattled together like a monsterous crab. Behind her mandibles was a small, lipless mouth with sharp teeth.
I started to shake when I realised what this creature was. A Predator! I had learned from the Terraforming and Exploration Program that these alien warriors had been hunting humans for sport for thousands of years. For over two centuries, scientists and the military have been trying to capture them, wanting their knowledge of technology, weapons and space travel. Both groups had failed miserably. Either the Predators would escape, kill whoever was stalking them or they would activate their self-destruct device to make sure nothing of themselves, or their technology, survived.
The female Predator stepped around the table and came towards me, reaching out with a clawed hand. Weakly, I scuttled back and looked around for something to defend myself. Seeing a small knife on a low tray, I grabbed it and threw it at her. It was a poor throw and the female caught it with ease. Before I could do anything else the Predator lunged at me, clasped my neck and lifted me into the air as if I weighed nothing. She emitted a low, threatening growl from her throat, her eyes burning into mine. Coughing, I made an effort to kick the female. To my disappointment, it did not affect her as her grip tightened around my neck. Once again, darkness covered my vision.
I felt the cold ground on my back and my eyes snapped open. Almost immediately, I started coughing, causing my neck to ache. I wheezed and a moment of panic washed through me as the weight in my chest started to increase. I forced away the fear of suffocating and tried to calm down. Fighting the urge to cough, I slowly sat up and held my head. I am so tired of getting knocked out! I took in my surroundings and found that I was in a different room. I was surrounded by steel walls, a dirt floor and only a small, barred window near the ceiling gave me light. I figured this fifteen by nine foot room was a jail cell.
Something caught my eye and I looked to the right corner of the room. I saw a tall glass of water and a bowl full of what appeared to be gruel. I dove at the food and scooped handfuls into my mouth, not caring what it was or taking time to taste. I quickly cleaned the bowl and chugged down the water. The void in my stomach was not completely gone, but at least my hunger no longer ate at me. Leaning against the wall I forced myself up and felt something rub against my leg. Reaching into my pockets, I was shocked to find my gear translator still there. It seemed odd that I was allowed to keep them, unless the Predators were confident that I would not be able to escape.
Leaning one arm against the wall, I pushed up to my feet and wobbled to the cell door. I examined the large steel slab, feeling at the edges with my hands when it suddenly slid to the left with a swish. A seven foot tall male Predator, wearing a long red cloak and a jagged sword around his waist, peered down at me and growled. I backed away, trying to control my fear. The male held out a chain and shackles, pointed to me and then the chain. I took a step backwards.
The male roared and flared his mandibles as he stepped towards me. Reflexes took over and I took a swing at him. The male batted my arm away and grabbed my sore neck. Before he could lift me, I gave a mighty grunt and kicked the male and my foot met his groin. Pain appeared on the Predator’s face as he moaned and fell to his knees. I balled my hand into a fist and used all my strength to punch him in the eye. He gave a loud yelp as his head snapped to the right. I bolted for the exit, only to run into two other male Predators. I did not have the energy to struggle and the males easily restrained me. The male I had kicked slowly hobbled to his feet, grunting as he rubbed his eye. Both of my captors made a loud, trilling noise. It sounded almost like laughter.
Looking at the male, I saw a welt around his eye and I smiled in satisfaction when I realised he was going to get a black eye. The male stared down at me with a murderous glare, his body shaking with rage. He shackled my wrists, the metal digging deep into my skin, and led my captors and I down the orange lit hallway. I stifled a giggle when I watched the cloaked male try to remain dignified after my exceptional kick to the family jewels. Something told me his companions were not going to let him forget he was taken down by a half-starved, human female.
I counted twenty cell doors before we came to a stop in front of a door rimmed with a bright red light. Was this some kind of prison? I watched “Red Cloak” wave his hand over a scanning pad and the door slid open. Bright light flooded into the dark hallway and I had to close my eyes. Squinting I gasped when I found myself being pulled down a gigantic hall. It was almost like the inside of a castle. Red banners hung from the ceiling, each having foreign silver symbols painted on them. Large, rectangular windows on the ceiling allowed a large amount of sunlight to shine through the banners, casting red shadows over the white and grey marble walls.
Then I witnessed a terrible sight. Emaciated and battered Predators—most of them I thought were children—were on their hands and knees, scrubbing the black marble floor with brushes and rags. Some of them stopped what they were doing to look up at me in surprise, which caused their guards—who I noticed wore armour around their shoulders and thighs—to roar threateningly and begin to hit them with knotted, leather whips. The children screamed as they were struck, then silently went back to scrubbing. Seeing this caused me to boil with anger and resist my captors’ grip. But my struggles were in vain as they continued to pull me down the great hall, gasping and coughing.
The three hunters stopped in front of a tall, black metal door that had very detailed geometric symbols and three images of Predators carved into it. Two male warriors mirrored each other, wearing a decorated mask and holding a spear high in the air in one hand. Both spear tips pointed to the sky where a female Predator, surrounded by flames, shone rays of light down on the hunters. Standing on either side of the door were two male guards; both wearing long, black cloaks with silver buckles, armour on their shoulders and legs, two serrated daggers at their waists and held battle spears in their hands. Their hair was held back with a leather strap and decorated with many silver rings and strings of beads. Burned in the middle of their foreheads were odd glyphs.
Red Cloak clicked something to one of the guards, who looked at me with disgust and pushed open the doors with the help of his partner. I was shoved into a white marble room where I saw eight elderly Predators; three of them female, sitting in a semicircle on large cushions. A blue banner with alien text hung over each one, probably identifying their names. All of them wore gold cloaks, had different symbols burned onto their foreheads and had numerous silver, gold and bone ornaments woven in their braids. Their clothing was made of a more decorative material, which reminded me of silk. I looked at one of the females on the left side and immediately recognised her. She was the one who revived me in the med room. My escorts lowered to one knee and bowed, forcing me to bow with them. The middle elder made a half-growl, half-clicking noise and the guards stood up, but kept me on my knees and held my arms tight. The old Predators started to talk among themselves, a few of them glancing at me as they did.
I felt my body shake, terrified at the large group before me. My mind started to play out the worst things these aliens could do to me; gut me and skin me before stringing me up, slice my head clean off my shoulders and tear out my spine, blast my heart out through my ribs? I looked at the floor and struggled to stop myself from crying. Breathing deeply caused another coughing fit, the air feeling heavy in my lungs. When I stopped it was suddenly quiet. I raised my head to see all eight Predators glaring down at me. Never had I felt so small. The middle Predator leaned forward in his seat.
“How ooman come to planet?” he asked in a rough voice, his words garbled by his small mouth.
I was shocked, “You...you speak English?”
The Elder nodded his head impatiently, “Answer!”
I hesitated, “It’s a long story.”
He crossed his arms over his muscular chest and leaned back, “I listen.”
As I spoke, my cough got worse and worse. I could not finish a sentence without gasping, which cause the old aliens to rattle their tusks in annoyance. In the middle of my story, spots started to appear before my eyes and my throat began to close. Panic’s icy grip consumed me as I tried to breathe. Without warning, the female on the left stepped down from her seat and shoved something over my nose and mouth. I shook my head to get it off when I realised I could breathe more easily. She must have put some kind of air filter on my face. I took several deep breaths and my coughing finally subsided. The old male roared and growled at the female, to which she snarled back, pointing at the converter. He looked angry and stood from his seat and right away the female bowed her head, speaking calmly in their guttural language before returning to her spot. I continued to breathe deeply until my throat opened and my lungs no longer felt heavy. The Elder sat back down and gave me an irritated stare.
“TALK!” he barked.
I told him the rest of my story; from finding the transporter at the station, to waking up in the cell and getting dragged into the ‘Council Room’. The Elder translated my story to everyone. When I finished, the Predators began their debate again. Growls and grunts filled the room as they gestured to me and nodded. But I noticed the female Predator would constantly interrupt them and furiously shake her head. I stared at the floor, taking in what I had witnessed. The female council member seemed to be the only one showing the slightest concern for my wellbeing—if getting choked nearly to death was part of my “wellbeing.” But she did give me water when I woke up and she just saved me from suffocation. After what seemed like forever the middle elder raised his hand to silence the rest.
“Difficult decision. Some order you killed.”
I gulped, “Why didn’t you kill me in the first place?”
“Yautja Warrior Code; do not kill unarmed female. You unarmed, code protect you. But will not protect for long if stay.”
“Then how about you save everyone the trouble and put me on a ship to take me home.”
The Elder shook his head, his ornaments jingled as they hit each other. “Not good reason to go. Only go to planet for hunts.”
“What do you mean ‘not a good reason’? You can’t—”
One of my escorts wrench my chains so hard it made me cry in pain.
“Have no rights on planet, ooman. You seen as prey to all Yautja,” he shouted, then paused, “have two choices; become trophy or become slave.”
WHAT?! A SLAVE?! My captors held me down as I struggled, nearly yelling more objections at the Elders. Screaming curses and threats would probably get them to lean closer to killing me. I stopped resisting and sank to my knees. This was not happening, it could not be happening. But dammit, what choice did I have? I guess the Elder figured out my answer, because he clicked something to my holders and I was hauled to my feet. The Elder spoke again.
“Work hard ooman. If slave masters find you worthless, you will die.”