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I found prey. It took several days of walking. But this should be the garrison. A garrison is a heavily fortified place. This prey’s camp, it’ll be difficult to take over. The defenses are more daunting than every other camp’s I’ve seen before. There’s a fence surrounding the place. In front of the fence, there’s giant circles of wires. It looks like the wires have barbs on them too, perfect for cutting armored clothes. The wires are looped, making three big circles, two circles attached to the fence stacked on top of each other, one circle in front of the other circles. Are they only for cutting armor? The circles don’t seem sturdy. Maybe they’re tougher than they look.

But the fence isn’t the problem. Surrounding the fence, there’s a trench. I can’t see the back of the camp from my spot on the tree. But the hole should go all the way around. It’s deeper than the others are tall. Even Big Other won’t be able to walk out. There’s a wooden plank traversing the gap. It’s wide enough for one other to cross at a time. The others won’t walk into the hole, stopping at its edge. But the others behind them can’t see it; they’ll push the others in the front into it. This chokepoint is much more difficult to deal with than a door. If it was a door, the others can endlessly swarm. But the chokepoint is a wooden plank. The others will fall into the trench; there won’t be any pressure on the prey if they defend. If the prey don’t defend, some others will fall into the trench anyway when the group tries to cross.

I have to find a way to fill in the trench. Or find a way to let all the others cross without losing them. After that, there’s the fence. The barbs on the wire loops might snag the others’ clothes, preventing them from moving ahead. If the others were prey, there’d be a danger of bleeding to death. Maybe the loops are only meant to deal with prey. But until I witness their characteristics for myself, I won’t know for sure.

That’s not the garrison’s only defenses. There aren’t any tents. The prey, all of them, are living in buildings. There’s some big buildings, some little ones. But there aren’t any easy prey to hunt. All of them are behind chokepoints, doors. This place, it’s dangerous. I might die here. If the prey are capable of creating these defenses, what kind of offense will they have? There’s people standing behind the fences, not doing anything except watching. Looking outside. They have bows. When Big Other tried to attack my food-preservation room with the four other prey, it was my bow that made them easy to hunt. These prey can shoot from behind the fence, always alert. Before the others even cross the trench, they’ll die by arrows.

And almost all the prey are wearing armored clothes. They have domes on their heads too. But there’s a few prey, tied by ropes, that aren’t threatening. It seems like the prey are like me. Preserving food to eat. Why else would they tie up prey, keep them alive, if not to eat? The prey inside this camp are smart, dangerous. And it doesn’t seem like I have a numerical advantage. There’s a lot of prey. I can’t count them all. But there’s at least two hundred. A dozen others are needed to kill one armored prey. I don’t even have a thousand others following me. I thought I could figure out a method to reduce the number of others needed, take advantage of the prey by using my intelligence. But seeing how defended this place is, how alert the prey are, I don’t think it’s possible.

Do I give up? Retreat? I have a few weeks of meat left. If I can find one prey, keep the others off of it, I’ll be set for another few weeks. But will I be able to find prey? The prey on the other end of the box, it should be from the garrison. It wouldn’t ask prey to come to the garrison if it wasn’t. If all the prey in the nearby vicinity come here, how am I going to find a prey to eat? There won’t be any prey around for me. And the more time that passes, the more prey will enter the garrison, making it even harder to attack. If I think it’s difficult to take now, how will I take the garrison when there’s even more prey gathered? I have to attack soon. It’ll be too late if I don’t.

But what can I do? How do I create a passage across the trench without the prey noticing? I can wait until nighttime, when the prey become sluggish. But how am I going to get all the others across without losing them to the trench? Do I have to go over the trench? If I go down, use my hole-digging tool, can’t I dig a hole starting from the trench, gently slope it up towards the center of the garrison? That way, I’ll bypass the trench, the fence, the prey with the bows. The only defenses the prey will have left are the buildings.

I don’t think it’ll work. If I do that, I’ll have to enter the garrison first. No matter what, the first other that enters a prey’s camp always dies. If the others could dig, they could go first. But they can’t dig. And I don’t want to die. It won’t work. Digging is loud too. Even if it’s at night, the prey will notice if I dig a massive hole underneath them. And if an other falls into the trench at a poor angle, breaking its leg, it’ll block the hole, preventing all the others from entering the garrison. There’s too many problems with this plan. Maybe I’m approaching this the wrong way. Do I have to attack the garrison? The prey are coming to the garrison. They’re passing through the woods, defenseless: no trench, no fence, no buildings, maybe bows. I’ll ignore the garrison, target the prey heading towards it instead. And if the prey inside the garrison don’t like that, what can they do? Leave their defenses behind to hunt me? If they do that, they’ll be the hunted.

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Virlyce

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