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The prey saw me. If I can see them, they can see me. I didn’t think they’d look up. I never look up. Maybe I should do it more often. But after that, they came towards the tree I was on, and the others heard them coming. The prey spoke loudly. If they hadn’t said anything, there would’ve just been footsteps. Banging on the tree with my metal stick would be enough to keep the others’ attentions. But the prey spoke, the others chased. One prey instantly ran away. The other prey looked like it was getting ready to fight. But it ran once it realized how many others there actually were. I hope they don’t get too far away while I climb down this tree. My plan to observe the prey was ruined. I climbed the tree for no reason. No, if I didn’t climb the tree, the prey wouldn’t have come here in the first place. My plan failed because I partook in the plan. It was doomed to fail from the start.

Climbing down is harder than climbing up. Maybe it’s because I can’t see where my legs will go. The others have already left the area, the two prey running and leading them away. I have to hurry; I can’t be left behind. The stragglers of the herd are in a dangerous position. The front of the herd is dangerous too. I need to take my spot in the middle. Or could I have just stayed on top of the tree, watching, waiting? Even without my guidance, two hundred others are a lot. Can the prey handle that many? Am I needed? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I’m there, the chances of success increases. And the others won’t ruin the prey’s area as much if I’m there. I can kill them to make them stop. Spread rotten brains to keep them away from important areas.

And figure things out in general. Like now. The others are dying while chasing, not many, just a few. But they’re dying, tripping on metal ropes, falling headfirst onto spikes sticking out of the ground. The others don’t care about objects on the ground when prey are in front of them. Their legs catch the metal. Their upper bodies keep moving. They fall out of balance and die. How ruthless. Not only are there metal ropes to trip them, there are metal spikes on the ground, pointing up. The others step on them, the spikes embedding themselves into their feet. And they slow down. It looks like the bottom of the spike has three more spikes. They stab into the earth, making it harder for the others to lift their feet. Such an interesting object. If it isn’t dangerous, I’ll collect these after hunting the prey.

Thanks to these traps, I caught up to the herd, blended back inside of it. Maybe I still stand out with my bag, weapons, armored clothes. But the prey can’t reach me despite that. I have to dress the others similarly to me, ensure my safety even further. The ropes used for the traps are interesting too. They’re metal, pointy. I wonder what kind of tree they grow on.

The prey are approaching the building. I can read the sign now: Ranger Station. The spiked fence was coming up fast. It wasn’t very high, chest height. But branches, sticks, even metal, pointed out of it, their ends sharpened. And the others, in a fit of stupidity, rushed into the fence. The gap leading from the fence to the building is narrow. The others were moving too fast to stop. Even if the ones at the front noticed, the ones behind continued to shove. But once the initial batch of others died, there weren’t anymore casualties. Instead of being impaled, the others that were behind bounced off of the dead others, funneling into the small gap. That was one chokepoint passed. The other is up ahead, the door leading inside the building.

The two prey slipped inside, slamming it shut. Like water, the others spread out, filling in the space between the building and the fence. I made sure to stand far away from the building, close to the fence. There’s holes in the windows, doors. Perfect for spikes to stab through, similar to the cabins. The simplest way to force the prey out is to set the building on fire. But everything will be lost. The secret to preserving my food is inside. Maybe. There’s a chance it is. So burning isn’t a viable option.

Then how can the others enter? The walls of the building are made of wood. Like trees. Can I shave it away? I should’ve went back for the wood-cutting tool. If I did, maybe I could’ve cut my way inside. But it’s too late now. What about climbing? Is there a way in through the top? That’s not a good path to take. Even if there was, only I could use it. The others can’t climb. And they wouldn’t follow me if they could. The prey are making too much noise inside, stabbing the others through the holes. But like before, the bodies of the dead others are preventing more others from dying, their corpses blocking the stabbing ports. Is burning the building really the only choice I have? Maybe there’s an entrance in the back. I’ll bring a few others with me, prodding them from behind with my metal stick. They’ll want to go to the sound. But if I nudge them enough, I can steer them away.

The back of the building looks the same as the front. But there’s a separate building attached to the back. There’s a door. But it doesn’t open. The handle doesn’t turn. If the handle won’t turn, I’ll break it off with my metal stick. One swing. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Maybe this isn’t going to work. There’s a dent in my metal stick. But the handle seems loose. No, it’s not the handle. It’s the wood around the handle. It’s breaking. Eight swings. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.

It broke. The door’s moving. I’ll run back, let the others I brought with me enter first. If it’s connected to the inside, the prey definitely heard. But why aren’t there any holes in this door? Stabbing me with spikes could’ve stopped me from breaking it open. Maybe there’s nothing inside? The others are groaning. And no prey are screaming. It seems safe. What’s inside? The others are … eating? What is this? Meat? There’s meat hanging in the air. It doesn’t smell appealing. But it doesn’t smell rotten. The room isn’t connected to the inside of the building. There’s only a fire. And meat. Is this where the prey gets their food?

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Virlyce

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