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Fan Fiction

The Hunt
Posted By: Musashi M.<nus105@psu.edu>
Date: 13 November 2000, 7:31 am

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    My name is Takezo. I was born on Yamato, one of the Young Colonies. I wasraised in the small hunting village of Okami, at the edge of the GreatJungle. Life there was primitive, and I was raised under a strict spirituallaw. From the ages of five to sixteen the youth of the village weresubjected to constant training, learning our heritage, our spirituality, theWay, and of course how to hunt and fight. The culmination of the trainingwas the Quest, where any youth who though him or herself to be capable wasdrugged on the venom of the native Blackbird, a reptilian avian that fed onsmall jungle creatures, and provided about an hour of unconsciousnessfollowed by seven hours of heightened perception, and, in high doses,hallucination. Of course most of the Blackbird's victims would never make itpast the unconsciousness stage. But we did- usually- and we would wake deepin the jungle with five hours to find our ways back to the village. Thehunters would start out to find us after five hours, and most of the youthwere recovered that way. Most of the rest never came back. Once in a whilesomeone would actually make it back, and be greeted with a hero's welcome.
    I woke up deep in the forest with nothing but a composite knife and afeeling of incredible exhilaration. I could feel the blood pumping throughmy veins, flowing through every part of my body. I could see every vein andjagged edge of every leaf in view. I could hear the rustle of wind in thetrees and the crackle of every creature's movement; the beating of everyinsect's wings hummed in my ears. Rays of sun that penetrated the thickcanopy above were lit up here and there, revealing swirling mist, swayingbrush and the odd snooping creature. I turned around and closed my eyes,raised my face to the cool mist that always blew through the jungle. Thebreeze blew against me, and I knew that the village was to my left, godsknew how far. I turned and looked on into the jungle where I would soon berunning for glory, and I knew something was wrong. Something was out there.I cut a sapling at its base and stripped the bark, carved notches in theends. I climbed one of the older trees and cut down a section of springyvine to be my bowstring. I cut a few more saplings and shaved their ends tosharp points, carving notches in the ends to grip the bowstring. I didn'thave time to make feathering, so I'd have to get close if I planned to hitanything. Satisfied with seven makeshift arrows I set off towards thevillage. The breeze continued to blow from my right, carrying with it thescent of the jungle. The elders always told us that the mist was the breathof the ancient god of the jungle, who slept deep inside in a place where mencould never go. I knew that the breeze would also carry with it the scent ofthe human, and I hoped that no carnivores lurked downwind.
    I knew soon enough, however, that I would not be so lucky. I heard thething approaching from a hundred meters... anything that big can't conceal itspresence at a run, and with my heightened senses I noticed the second itstarted moving. It was one of the big reptiles that we called 'Ryo', ordragons... luckily for me this one was young; only about ten meters long andfour or five high at the shoulder. The thing looked like an old Earthalligator, but with a snake-like head set on a long neck, and longer legs...if you can imagine that. If you even know what an alligator was, or a snakefor that matter. At a run this thing was covering at least ten meters asecond... there was no way I could outrun it. I stood and drew my bow, knockedan arrow, and prayed to the spirits of the jungle for guidance. I knew thatif the arrow didn't hit just right the weak tip would just break or bounceoff of the scales. I asked the gods for guidance. I kept the bowstring fullydrawn and waited as the dragon came closer and closer, crashing through theunderbrush and drooling, blinking its blank eyes, flaring its nostrilsagainst the rich mist. The patterns on its scales were beautiful, rich bluesand greens, deep, almost glowing. I felt the surge of adrenaline that theelder hunters had described, and held still. Then I felt the surge ofenergy; the sudden knowledge of action that they said was a hunting spiritentering your body to guide you to a kill. I let the arrow go. It sank intothe right front leg of the creature, which promptly buckled and sent thething crashing to the ground. I shot another one, and it stuck into itsneck. It got up and started to run away. I ran after it. I shot anotherarrow, which snapped and bounced off of its back. With an injured front legit couldn't run fast enough anymore, and I was catching up to it. I think itknew this, and it suddenly snapped to a halt. I kept running, changing mycourse to make a wide circle around it. I stopped when we were facing eachother, about twenty three meters apart. My heart was pounding, air flowingnot just into my lungs but though my entire body, purifying and making melight. I pulled out the knife. It lowered its head, swirling its tailbehind. I ran at it. When I was almost to it its head shot out with aquickness I could never have imagined; one second the head was down, turnedslightly to one side to expose me to one glistening eye, the next its teethwere locked on my arm and chest, pinning my right arm against my body. Ipulled an unused arrow out with my left and stabbed into that glaring blankeye. I felt it let go of me. I dived into it, cutting at it with the knife.It reattached its head to my left shoulder, and I stabbed my knife upwardunder its chin. I could feel the blood beginning to flow down the blade andwork its hot sticky way between my hand and the knife grip. I pushed theknife forward, cutting along the dragon's long throat, splitting it open. Iwas pulled to the ground by the massive weight of the creature as it fell tothe ground, and then the grip of its jaws relaxed. I stood up, arms coveredin blood both my own and alien, head swimming with the indescribable ecstasyof my first hunt. I cut out its undamaged eye, its talons, front fangs andthe hide of its back with all of its beautiful patterning. I wrapped thesmaller treasures in the hide and raised my hand to the wind. I could feelthe wind cooling the blood on the palm of my hand, and set off once againtoward the village.
    As I approached what I thought must be the edge of the forest I smelledsmoke; I altered my course toward it and soon enough I burst triumphantlyfrom the edge of the jungle to the cliff that overlooked the village. Thevillage was in flames. My victory party was not villagers dancing around abon-fire but villagers crying around the flames of our burning homes. Ourrival village, Kuma, had violated the sacred trust and attacked on a holyday. We were defenseless, and they had slaughtered the hunters and carriedoff our pelts and weapons. Okami was destroyed. No more weapons meant no wayto fend off the fierce creatures of the jungle, or hunt for the pelts thatwe traded at Spaceport for supplies. We all had to leave, to find a way tolive in the city. It would be hard, impossible for some, to adapt to themodern ways. But I was young. I was a warrior. I worked in the city forseveral years, sold the dragon's pelt, and saved everything I could. TheElder made a trophy necklace, the eye lens flanked by the teeth and claws.At age twenty-three I used my savings to book passage to the nearest majorplanet and enlist in the Space Marines.
    Of course now there is no jungle, no dragons, no Okami, no Kuma, nospaceport. The covenant razed Yamato, leaving it an uninhabitable ember.Just like they destroyed the rest of the fleet. And now I'm here on thesurface of this alien... thing... and finally I will hunt again. Never beforehave we faced the covenant on the ground. Now we play by my rules. My nameis Okami Takezo. I hunt again.