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I brought some others with me. They followed me out of the building. I didn’t do anything to encourage them. I must smell like meat. Once twenty others came out, I closed the door. It didn’t lock. The others had broken that when they got it. Instead, I had to tie the two doorknobs together, keeping the door shut, the others inside. I wasn’t going to go far, only to the woods near the building, check for ropes growing on trees, maybe traps. When I walk, I press down with the butt of my spear ahead of me, make sure there’s no hidden pit to fall into. I do it everywhere; the others don’t mind going slow. Safety first.

First, before I went to the woods, I looted the others that were injured by the rolling trees. I took their clothes. Took the ropes out of their shoes. Picked up the one blanket bundle that a severely injured other was carrying. It was filled with plates. I put the clothes and ropes inside, tied it back up, bound it to one of the other’s that was following me. The woods were noisy which was odd. There’s usually never any noise. But since there is, the others are heading towards it. The sound is like a rumbling. It’s echoing from all directions except behind. The others are fanning out, walking by themselves.

If the others leave me, there was no point in bringing them out. I raised my spear horizontally, swung it to tap the metal stick on my back over and over. The ringing sound was louder than the rumbling, the others turning around, coming back. But what was that rumbling? It’s getting quieter. Like something’s moving away. It reminds me of something. What? It’s rumbling accompanied by cracking. The large metal hunk? I was almost hit by one. It was loud, broke the branches on the ground, lots of cracking sounds. It must be it. A metal hunk is passing by somewhere close. I always wanted to learn how prey controlled them. If I follow the sound, I might find out.

The metal hunks move fast. If I don’t hurry, I’ll miss it. But I don’t think I can catch it no matter how fast I go. The sound is already fading. At least the direction it went is clearer. I’ll leave a few marks on the trees with a knife as I head towards the sound, markers to track where I went. I brought a lot of food with me. But there’s still the food I’m smoking, still the hundred of others that I left behind. It’d be bad if I got lost. I’m certain the metal hunk was in this direction. There’s one other that wasn’t with me before. It’s walking in the same direction. I might not be able to catch up to the metal hunk. But I should find something, anything that might help me learn more about it.

There’s more rumbling coming from my left. It’s louder than before. Banging the metal stick isn’t enough to draw the others’ attentions back. They’re leaving. Is another metal hunk coming? It’s not coming from the direction the last one went. It must be another. Prey travel in packs. Why wouldn’t their metal hunks travel in packs too? If there’s one, there can be two. Up ahead, there’s a clearing, not very long. But it’s very wide. There’s no trees in that clearing for a large stretch of land, beyond what I can see with the trees blocking my view. Is it a road? I haven’t seen a road in a long time, not since I ate my first prey.

I see it, the source of the noise. It’s not a metal hunk. It’s smaller. It has three wheels, one in the front, two in the back. A prey is sitting in the center, holding two handles attached to the front wheels. The prey’s ignoring the others, they can’t catch up. It’s impossible to catch up. What is it? Why is it so fast? How can I stop something like that? I only saw a glimpse of it; now, it’s already gone, past the trees, beyond my field of view. I can still hear it. It’s getting further and further away, the rumbling fading to nothing. There’s a few cracking sounds, not from branches. But from the thing itself. Like something’s exploding.

It’s fast. The prey’s clothes are armored. There’s a dome on its head. As long as the prey is on top of that thing, there’s no way to kill it. I’m not sure arrows can move as fast as it. Maybe. But it’s impossible for me to hit a prey’s exposed skin when it’s moving that fast. I won’t be able to run up to stab it with a spear. The metal stick won’t work, knives too. Are prey invincible when they’re on that thing? Then why don’t all prey always have those? There has to be something preventing them from doing so. Trees. That must be it. The thing can only go fast if it’s on the road where there aren’t any trees in the way. That’s why I haven’t seen any in the forest. If it goes too fast, it’ll crash, unable to weave through the gaps.

If I want to catch one of those three-wheeled things, it can’t be in motion. I’ll block the road. Cut down a few trees, have them lie in the road’s path. The prey will be forced to stop then. If I wait long enough, I might catch one, force it to stop, shoot the prey on top of it with an arrow. But what if the prey notices me after it stops? It’ll turn around, go back the way it came. I can’t block it from both directions if I use trees. If I try to cut down a tree behind it while it’s stopped, it’ll take too long.

Then a hole? Holes are good. It didn’t look like the wheeled thing could jump. It’ll fall straight in. The problem is, if it’s anything like a metal hunk, it’s heavy. Too heavy for me to carry out of a hole. I’ll be able to catch it. But I won’t be able to use it. But that’s not a bad thing. If I catch one, I’ll learn a lot about it. See what can destroy it. Maybe figure out how it moves. After learning more about it, I might figure out a way to preserve one for my own use.

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Virlyce

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