Men & Monsters

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Mortal Combat

“What do you want Giant?” Finn asked. He had to speak slightly louder than usual, over the waterfall tumbling from down the mountain. The stream running down its slopes now quite literally divided the two as they stared one another down.

“Power. Security. It’s what we all want, isn’t it?” The gigantosaurus replied. “Power over one’s life, over one’s domain, but of course, any self-respecting individual who wants it must work for it.”

“You have plenty of power. You own over half the forests!”

“Well with the number of followers I’ve gathered, it’s not nearly enough I’m afraid to say.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve run through your resources? What with so many mouths to feed.” Finn couldn’t bring himself to imagine the countless deaths brought on by Giant’s hand.

“Not quite. Nowhere close, thankfully.”

“Well that’s a relief for my spirits. Now please leave the good beasts in this haven alone. If they knew I let you do this…”

“They don’t have to. Consider this a temporary arrangement. Before long we’ll be gone and on our way. I promise.” Giant replied with his cool grin. Finn narrowed his eyes.

“Funny. I recall hearing rumors of such an agreement between you and one of the neighboring domains near mine.”

“Oh yes. What was her name again? The one with the long nose horn, correct? She and I sorted everything out, and now all is well between us.”

“Last I heard, she was dead.” Finn spoke with a cold tone and expression. Giant seemed genuinely surprised when he cocked his head to the side.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Finn began to feel his blood boil. He took a deep breath, composing himself as he found inner peace. He forced himself to look back to the giganotosaurus.

“I’m going to ask you one more time old friend. Leave. My. Land.”

Everyone had become engrossed in the tense exchange. Eira in particular found it difficult to recognize Finn from his harsh tone. He seemed like an older sibling scolding the younger, but she sensed there was much more than a brotherly quarrel simmering beneath the surface. She looked up and watched as Giant narrowed his eyes, and his smirk darkened.

“We can accomplish great things Finn, and we shall.” Then, without warning, Finn lowered his long head down and nudged Eira and Bernard back to their feet, where he continued to herd them until they were behind him with Thorn and Swipe. He cared little for the knight’s rather vocal expressions of pain.

“Get back to Rex. They should be in a clearing waiting for us. Have Thorn and Swipe guide you.” He said softly. Slowly he turned back to Giant, who eyed the girl with undeniable selfishness, but whose manner relaxed when returning his attention back to the spinosaurus. He spoke almost in a mocking tone.

“So, you brought Rex with you? Where is the little scamp?” The two titanic carnivores locked eyes, and even though Finn was indeed larger than Giant, the latter beast had about him the commanding air to make up for his size, not to mention a height advantage.

“Go.” Finn barked as he kicked at the small band behind him. When he readjusted his weight, he still hadn’t broken his gaze from Giant’s. Likewise, the emerald-green dinosaur cocked his head back, turning his snout upward in a show of defiance.

“Make sure they don’t get back to Rex. And do bring Eira back for me.” And with that, his smirk widened when the numerous carnivores at his side leapt into the icy waters, tails wagging and legs kicking as they gave chase. Finn fought the urge to lash out at them. A simple swipe might have sufficed for Taurus or Hopper, but as they took off, with the raptors in tow, he knew he was simply too outnumbered to take them on. That soon changed. It was now just him and Giant, staring down their snouts at the other.

Finally Giant gave a warm snicker that worked to break the tense silence lingering in the air. He tore his gaze away from the tense standoff and began to walk around the clearing before them. Full though he was, he still eyed savory pieces of meat hanging on the duckbill carcasses. Turning, he found that Finn had yet to move his eyes anywhere else but to him.

“What are we doing, old friend? Staring contests? What would our parents think?”

“Mother for one wasn’t fond of violence. You know this.”

“Ah yes. She was as much my mother as she was yours. What did the rabble use to say back then? She brought the light of wisdom to the woods and my father brought the power. Ah... simpler times.”

“Simpler times indeed,” Finn sighed. “What would your father think if…”

“The old pile of bones gave me this idea!” Giant suddenly turned dark and vicious, his face viciously contorting as a fiery rage burned in his eyes. It nearly frightened Finn, who fought with difficulty to remain stoic. After a deep breath, Giant collected himself, and the bright green color returned to his leathery hide, along with his more restrained and suave tone. “You know, he always spoke of a unified plain of existence, with us, the meat-eaters, at our rightful place at the top.”

“Aye. Only one who was as mad as your father would believe that to be a good idea.”

“Come now, Finn. Have some respect for the dead now won’t you? After all, ever since Eira happened along, his vision has only become more vivid to me.”

“What are you saying?” The spinosaurus asked as he finally advanced toward Giant.

“If what she says is correct, and our worlds truly are separate, connected by only brief spans of time and pure luck in one’s footing, imagine what we could have. All we need is to crush those who harmed Eira’s people, and if they’re as powerful as she claims, well, we could very well ascend into godhood to them. Gods need not work, but merely receive praise and we may never fear starvation again.”

“You think they’ll just hand it to you?”

“Well no, of course not. But don’t all great things come from sacrifice?”

“War is not sacrifice. Only genocide. Life is too precious a gift to simply throw it away at an idea. Only to survive is killing acceptable.”

“Oh Finn, come off it! So self-righteous. Ideas are the basis for what we live for. For what you stand for now. Don’t you want to be revered outside of your little realm?”

“No. This is my land, as it was my mother’s, and her father’s before her. It was the way of the world, one in equal balance. You would risk the destruction of it all for your own gain?” Silence fell over the two dinosaurs for some time, as Finn kept his gaze firm on Giant. Giant, however, only smiled.

“I will give you a choice then Finn, one that includes this oh-so sacred plot of land of yours. Let me have Eira join my ranks, and I will swiftly call off my forces from your domain. But if you want her on your side, I keep this.”

“Who do you think you are, Giant? A mere child making foolish demands. You are in no position to do so here.” Finn felt his throat quake as he bellowed.

“Oh, but quite the contrary. You see, unlike you, my old friend, I can back up my words with actions.”

“What?”

“Well, you’ve been telling me to leave how many times now? And yet I see no risk save for a smack on the snout should I not oblige.”

“I know what you’re doing, and it won’t work.”

“Well? I've laid out your options, Finn. So then choose!” Giant’s cool grin twisted when he gave a booming cackle. Finn narrowed his eyes as he felt himself become one with the world around him. For a few moments, the spinosaurus took a keen interest in his deep, controlled breaths. With one inhale, he could feel the soft breeze pushing past the forest canopy and eagerly kiss at his leathery skin, before he exhaled. Giant, a dark version of the portrait he had so carefully constructed in his mind through the years, hummed as he lowered himself down to the ground. As he awaited an answer, Finn did the unthinkable.

Charging into the water, the only thing remaining above the tides was his towering spine as he swam to the other side. Then, with water spilling over his sides, he made his way toward his foe. Giant’s self-absorbed chuckling came to an abrupt halt when a heavy hand swung around and came crashing into the side of his head.

With a surprised grunt, the giganotosaurus stumbled back, just narrowly tripping over his own feet as he fought to analyze what had just occurred. Finn tried to study the blood now coating the wickedly-curved claws on his hand. His face torn and contorted, Giant seemed dumbfounded by Finn’s strike. His eyes stared off into space in recollection for a moment. Having seen his actions for what they were, and his animalistic anger contained, Finn gave a defeated sigh.

“I am sorry, old friend. I-I knew it was the only way to have you listen to me.” Giant felt his insides twist and turn. Not from Finn’s outburst, but from a gut-wrenching pit in his chest. He began to breath heavily. Whatever have I done? He glanced up to the spinosaurus. I shall not stand for pity, another voice in his head boomed. Swallowing that heavy emotion, Giant turned his head back to Finn, believing the voice to be one of reason as he held his form low to the ground and gave a sly grin.

“I’m sorry. I don’t believe I heard you there.” A monstrous being, over forty-feet in length and packed with muscle, charged into the spinosaur and together the two titans clashed.

With his heart racing, Finn cried out and begged for Giant to stop while the green dinosaur continued his endless assault. With his thick skull acting as a weapon, the dinosaur charged again and again into his old friend while they struggled. He soon found himself using it as a club to batter and deter Finn further when not snapping his jaws at him.

Against Giant’s assault the spinosaurus backed away time and again. Claws poised and ready to defend, he couldn’t help but wonder what had become of his old friend. The clearing they stood in had become an bloody arena, when the two titans fixed their eyes upon one another. Both knew of what was to come. Whatever to follow, only one would leave this place alive…

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