|This article, Hunter/Hunted, was written by monsterjealousy. Do not edit this fiction without the writer's consent.|
“the mark of a good hunt is the inability to distinguish predator from prey.”
~the Chosen Hunter
The resistance settlement was in flames.
Men, women, and children alike were being massacred by hordes of chryssalids and stun lancers. The aliens did not distinguish between civilian and soldier; they were all the enemy, and they all needed to be disposed of.
The XCOM soldiers dealt with the chryssalids and stun lancers well enough, but no one could have prepared for what happened next.
Magnetically-accelerated rounds flew out of nowhere and made neat little holes in the heads of the XCOM soldiers, leaving trails of fuchsia energy as they hit their targets with perfect accuracy. The resistance soldiers dropped like flies, panicking as they struggled to determine where the miniature missiles of death were coming from.
“boooooooooriiiiiiiiing.” Said the Chosen Hunter as he took down the last of the XCOM squad.
“there’s just no sport in hunting the weak, you know?” said the Hunter, addressing the muton standing next to him. The muton issued a series of unintelligible grunts and roars in response.
“you’re the only one that understands me, #556878119023456.” Said the Hunter, giving the muton a gentle pat on the head. Then he shot it in the face with his pistol. “that makes you a liability.” Said the Hunter.
The Hunter surveyed the area, searching for any surviving dissidents. He thought he found a civilian, but it was just a faceless. As usual, the mission was successful. Excruciatingly successful.
The Hunter returned to his citadel to do… something. He didn’t know what.
“been there… been there… been there…”
the Hunter scrolled through a list of inhabited planets known to the elders. Earth wasn’t the first place the elders had visited; obviously, most of their military was composed of conquered and modified species. But the Hunter was concerned with the planets the elders HADN’T conquered. Not all species had the psionic potential necessary to qualify for the elder’s experiments. Those worlds were (for the most part) left unmolested. Until the Hunter got word of them. Then, no one on that planet was safe.
“been there… been there… been—hmm?” the Hunter had stumbled upon a planet he actually hadn’t visited; something he didn’t really expect to find. “let’s see… designation: Qodraesti. Atmosphere: oxygen/nitrogen. Climate: insufficient data. Topology: insufficient data. Inhabitants: insufficient data. Computer, what is the reason for the lack of data regarding planet Qodraesti?”
a shimmering golden hologram of a featureless female humanoid with shadowy hair was projected from a nearby skull-shaped device. The device served as the hologram’s “head”, allowing it to walk around the room freely. “planet Qodraesti is enveloped in a large-scale cloaking device of unknown nature, preventing us from scanning it.” It chirped. “this implies a level of technology equal to or surpassing our own, meaning that an armed incursion is not a viable option. Numerous attempts have been made to peacefully contact the inhabitants of Qodraesti, but so far there have been no responses. The only option is to keep monitoring the planet and wait for a new development.”
“I’ve got a better idea…” the Hunter whispered to himself. “computer, is there a psionic gate to Qodraesti?”
“there is an orbital space station with a psionic gate.” Said the computer. “the planet can be reached via a light scout craft located on the station.”
“computer, please open a psionic gate to the Qodraesti orbital space station.” Said the Hunter.
“this system’s administrators have banned you from accessing the Qodraesti orbital space station. Further attempts will result in punishment.” Said the computer.
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Said the Hunter. He pulled out a small datapad and began typing rapidly on it. Soon, the citadel’s computer was under his complete control.
“now, let’s try this again; computer, please open a psionic gate to the Qodraesti orbital space station.” Said the Hunter.
“opening psionic gate.” Said the computer. A glowing purple portal opened to the right of the Hunter, and he stepped through it.
The landing was a rough one.
As soon as the Hunter brought the space station’s scout craft into the planet’s atmosphere, some sort of anti-aircraft EMP cannon disabled the ship’s systems, causing it to crash-land. Luckily, the Portable Psionic Supply Line that the ship was carrying was still intact; the device, when properly set up, gave the Hunter a potentially-infinite source of ammunition, which was really the only thing he needed.
Qodraesti was a heavily-forested planet. The forests were filled with a staggering array of plants. But there was something familiar about them…
“what the…” said the Hunter. “that’s an Istreisiaxian Iozunyore. What the hell is it doing here?” the Hunter then noticed that ALL the plants in the forest were from other worlds. “it’s almost as if someone went to a bunch of different planets, selected specific life forms from each one, and then used them for their own purposes. Who would do such a thing? Other than the elders, I mean.” The Hunter said to himself.
Suddenly, a pale humanoid creature came charging out of the bushes. It fired a primitive laser weapon at the Hunter, who narrowly dodged the light-speed beams.
“DIE!!!” shouted the creature as it continued firing.
“I’ve got 5 good reasons for you to shut up.” Said the Hunter. He pulled out his pistol and emptied the 5-round revolver cylinder into his assailant.
“one, two, three four five!” said the Hunter, counting off the rounds as they hit the creature. Then he went over to the corpse.
“you’re just a zudjari.” Said the Hunter. “hardly the kind of species that builds planet-wide cloaking devices. So if you aren’t behind this, then who—“
the Hunter was cut off by a barrage of plasma. He grappled into the trees, but not before he got winged by a plasma bolt.
After several minutes of sustained fire, a pair of strange alien creatures wearing some sort of tactical masks stepped out of the bushes. They removed their masks, revealing an unusual combination of scaly, reptilian skin and 4 insectoid mandibles. Stranger still were the odd protrusions hanging off the sides of their heads. They almost looked like a certain kind of human hairstyle, though the protrusions were obviously not made of hair.
“just what in the known universe are you?” the Hunter whispered to himself.
The shortest of the two creatures stepped towards the zudjari corpse. It took out some sort of ceremonial knife and was about to cut something off the corpse when the taller creature ran over and took the knife from its hands. The taller one began yelling while the shorter one cowered, less from fear and more from embarrassment. The corpse was left intact.
“okay, so they mutilate bodies.” Said the Hunter to himself. “That knife is way too big to be a scalpel, so they can’t be scientists. The attire suggests that they’re a predatory species, so that means they’re probably trophy-takers. But why the fight over the zudjari corpse? Perhaps they have some sort of honor code? Only one way to find out.”
The Hunter steadied his rifle and put the larger creature’s head between the crosshairs. “nah, too easy.” Said the hunter. He aimed for the creature’s heart instead. He took the shot, ripping a huge hole in the creature’s chest.
Suddenly, both creatures seemed to disappear.
“would you look at that.” said the Hunter. “oh wait, I can’t, they’re invisible. But not for long.” He turned a dial on the side of his rifle’s scope, and when he looked through it, he could see their heat signatures as clear as day. However, they apparently could see him just as well.
The creatures let loose a flurry of plasma bolts, which the Hunter had to avoid by quickly swinging from tree to tree, staying only long enough to get a single shot off. Eventually, the Hunter managed to take down the larger creature, prompting the short one to throw a large, bladed disc into the air. The disc could somehow follow the Hunter as it flew through the air, forcing the Hunter to continue swinging.
Without warning, the Hunter pulled out his pistol in mid-air, destroying the bladed disc with a single shot. After landing on a branch, the Hunter somersaulted directly on top of the smaller creature. Then, he put his hand on the creature’s forehead and drained all useful knowledge from its mind. The Hunter now knew all there was to know about the Yautja, their weaponry, and their culture.
“holy shit, I’ve hit the jackpot, haven’t i?” said the Hunter. He went over to the smaller Yautja, who was dazed, but alive. He quickly destroyed the youngblood’s wrist gauntlet, preventing it from activating its self-destruct mode.
“if I understand your code correctly, if I spare you, then you are obligated to give me a gift. Is that correct?”
the youngblood nodded solemnly. He produced a small knife and presented it to the Hunter.
The Hunter slapped the knife away. “No.” he said. “I want THAT.” he pointed to the youngblood’s bio-mask.
“no.” said the youngblood in his native language, which the Hunter could now understand. “the mask must be returned to the homeworld. It contains a record of my hunt.”
“oh, well if that’s how you feel…” said the Hunter. He then shot the youngblood in the side of the head, carefully avoiding the bio-mask so as not to damage it. Afterwards, he removed the mask and put it on his own face. He admired his reflection in the well-polished metal of his rifle.
“these Yautja have a great fashion sense when it comes to tactical headgear.” Said the Hunter. “this thing is stylish AND functional!”
the Hunter grappled into the trees once more. The knowledge he acquired from the youngblood had brought to his attention the existence of a main camp, which he was now headed towards. The Hunter was looking forward to this battle. So far, this was just about the best hunt he’d ever been on.
It had been about 3 days since the Hunter had killed his first Yautja. Since then, he’d killed 41 more.
“hope the XCOM troopers don’t miss me too bad.” Said the Hunter to himself as he grappled though the trees. “my charming wit was an important source of morale for them. For the past 3 days they’ve had to make do with my brother’s incessant rambling and my borderline-traitorous sister’s cheerleading.”
The Hunter stopped briefly to clean his rifle. The darklance, despite the humid jungle environment, was in far better condition than the Hunter was. It was the closest thing to a friend he ever had—or ever WANTED to have. Like all Chosen weapons, the Hunter had trained with the rifle since the moment of his creation. It was practically an extension of his body. That was why, despite the fact that it could function perfectly well after sitting in an active latrine for a week, he took better care of it than even himself. The Hunter gently caressed the darklance, and it purred as if it was alive. Perhaps it WAS alive; the elders had a way of making the definition of “alive” a subject of debate.
In the distance, the Hunter heard a sound like the growling and baying of electronic hounds, accompanied by the hiss of burning plasma and the shk-shk-shk of huge metal spikes burying themselves into the ground, only to be rooted back up again moments later. The Hunter had only heard that sound once before, but he knew it well. He grappled to the source of the sounds to confirm his suspicion.
The Hunter arrived at a small clearing, where 5 Yautja were battling something the Hunter never thought he’d see in real life: a cyberdisc.
Cyberdiscs were an all-terrain quick reaction unit used during the original invasion of earth, before the Hunter came into being. They were fast, unpredictable and heavily-armed, requiring minimal cybernetic enhancements; the cyberdiscs were a lab-grown species, native to no world, grown from silicon atoms into deadly war machines. The Hunter had learned about them from old holographic records and was rather impressed; however, they had all been dumped on planet Faizuno after the initial invasion. Faizuno was later found empty of all life. Now the Hunter knew where everything had gone.
The cyberdisc suddenly charged at the Hunter, plasma guns blazing. He quickly rolled out of the way.
“STOP!” said the Hunter. “I AM NOT YOUR ENEMY!”
the cyberdisc tilted its “head” in confusion. It slowly approached the Hunter, making clicking and beeping noises as it studied him. Eventually, it seemed to calm down and accept the Hunter’s presence. It changed back into its normal disc-form and circled the clearing aimlessly.
The Hunter had a brilliant idea.
The cyberdisc speeded through the jungle, visible only as a blur of ivory white to any onlookers that might be in the area. The Hunter stood on top of it, using the creature as a living hoverboard.
The cyberdisc zoomed past a collection of wooden fortresses.
“WAIT STOP, YOU PASSED IT!” shouted the Hunter. The cyberdisc slowly backed up and allowed the Hunter to dismount.
The camp was seemingly deserted. There were still fires burning, the upside-down zudjari corpses were still bleeding, but the Yautja were simply GONE.
The Hunter pulled out his rifle and turned a dial on the scope. When he looked through it, he saw that he was surrounded on all sides by cloaked Yautja.
“aw, fuck me.” Said the Hunter.
Volleys of plasma and speargun projectiles came flying at the Hunter, but the cyberdisc intercepted them. It then fired a grenade into a crowd of Yautja, buying the Hunter time to move to a more advantageous position.
As the cyberdisc rampaged through the crowd, the Hunter shot at the highest-ranking Yautja he could find, attempting to eliminate the most dangerous opponents first.
Suddenly, a large, scythe-shaped energy blade flew out of nowhere and cleaved the cyberdisc in two before returning the hand of its thrower. The cyberdisc exploded, killing several Yautja.
A very tall Yautja grappled out of the smoke and onto the small cliff the Hunter was using as a vantage point. The markings on its armor indicated it was a veteran, and its use of a plasma scythe told the Hunter it was a vanguard.
“a plasma scythe?” said the Hunter. “I thought those were illegitimate weapons for hunts.”
“you have killed 42 of our best hunters.” Said the vanguard. The Hunter could tell by the creature’s voice that it was a female. “this is no longer a hunt. You are a threat to the clan as a whole, and you must be eliminated.”
“actually, I think my kill count is up to 53 now.” Said the Hunter.
“you’re just proving my point.” Said the vanguard. “though I regret missing the chance to hunt you. I’m sure that it would’ve been very entertaining. You have two choices: discard your ranged weapons and fight me in an honorable duel, or try your luck against my armor’s killscreen generator.” The vanguard produced a plasma glaive from a bag slung over her shoulder and tossed it to the Hunter.
“you know what? I’ll humor you.” Said the Hunter, gently putting the darklace and darkclaw to the side. “but not because you told me to. Because it sounds fun.” He picked up the plasma glaive and twirled it around, gently tossing it from hand to hand, teaching himself the most efficient way to use it.
The vanguard charged forward, her plasma scythe drawn. She made a broad, sweeping motion, attempting to cut the Hunter’s torso in half, but he quickly ducked under the scythe’s blade and cut her achilles’ tendon with the plasma glaive as he slid behind her.
“wow. I’m surprisingly good at this.” Said the Hunter. He grappled into the tree above him and attempted to bring the glaive down on the vanguard’s head, but she hooked the glaive’s blade with her scythe and pulled both it and the Hunter away from herself. The vanguard took that opportunity to attack the Hunter, spinning her scythe in her hand to create a wheel of white-hot plasma-fueled death. She sped past him, using the scythe to cut a nasty gash in his side.
The vanguard turned around to charge again, but the Hunter jumped over her and stabbed her in the back. She was wounded, but she would heal, and more importantly, she could still fight. The vanguard whirled around, bringing her scythe forward again, but the Hunter backflipped out of the way.
Suddenly, the vanguard threw her scythe at the Hunter. He couldn’t move out of the way in time, and it impaled him in the chest. His mouth dripped sickly, yellow blood as he chuckled and dropped to his knees.
“sucker.” Said the Hunter as he disappeared in a puff of smoke. The darkclaw and darklance disappeared as well. The scythe, glaive, and bio-mask were left behind.
The vanguard let out a monstrous howl of frustration and fury.
40 minutes after he was defeated in battle, The Hunter materialized in front of his sarcophagus, fully healed.
“welcome back, Dha-Ray Balladhur.” Chirped the computer.
“computer, erase all records of my absence.” Said the Hunter.
“records deleted.” Said the computer. “warning: unauthorized transport detected. XCOM dissidents have accessed the citadel. Summoning defenses.”
The Hunter smiled.
The hunt was not over.