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The prey called for more prey to come help. But how? There’s over hundreds of others here. Is it possible for enough prey to come to kill that many? Why would the prey call for help if it wasn’t? If more prey come to aid these two stuck in the tree knowing about the others, that means they’re confident in dealing with this many. What if a hundred prey come? If each one shoots an arrow six times, nearly all the others will die. I thought I’d have the advantage if the prey left their defenses behind. Now I’m not so sure. What gives the prey confidence in calling for backup?

I have to deal with these prey quickly. Kill them to prevent them from giving the incoming prey information. Then, maybe I can set up a trap. I’ll think about the trap later, killing these prey comes first. They’re both in different trees. Either one can shoot at me when I reveal myself. They won’t shoot unless I raise my bow, try to take a shot. When I do, they’ll force me to hide behind the tree again by shooting at me, alternating each time. Is there a way to prevent them from shooting? If not both, at least one? There must be a position where I’m hidden from view from one of them but not the other. I’ll move until I find it.

Even though I left the safety of the tree, the prey didn’t shoot at me. I think I found the right position. As long as the two prey are lined up properly, only the one in the front can shoot me. Here it is. I wouldn’t have to do this if the others knew how to climb trees. But they don’t. So I do. I raised my bow.

Thwip.

The prey shot at me. I hid behind the tree. Now, the second prey shouldn’t be able to shoot. I came out from behind the tree again, raised my bow, waited a bit. There wasn’t a second shot. The prey I could see scrambled to ready another arrow.

Twang!

My arrow struck the prey. It screamed. But it didn’t fall out of the tree. I hit its shoulder. With that, it shouldn’t be able to draw its bow anymore. I’m not sure if it’s the one with the black box. If it is, it wouldn’t need both arms to speak into it. I readied my bow again.

Thwip.

And hid behind the tree. An arrow whizzed by where I was just standing. How did the second prey shoot at me without line of sight? I stuck my head out to check. The second prey had climbed halfway down the tree, holding onto the trunk with its legs while extending its body outwards to shoot around the first tree. I didn’t think it could do that. But it doesn’t matter; it’s too late. The prey can’t alternate shots anymore.

While the second prey readied another arrow, I stepped out from behind the tree and shot at the first prey. It leaned back, dodging my arrow. Its legs acted like hooks, preventing it from falling off the branch despite its body being upside down. These prey, they’re a lot more agile than I thought: shooting from a position it shouldn’t be able to shoot from, dodging from a position it shouldn’t be able to dodge from. Are all the prey in the garrison like this?

I stepped behind the tree to avoid the next arrow that was bound to come. Instead of the familiar sound of the prey’s bowstrings, a scream came instead. What happened? I stuck my head out to check. There was an other hugging the first prey’s upside-down body. Did the other jump on top of the prey? Amazing. Out of hundreds of others, one of them isn’t useless. It bit down on the prey, in between its legs. The prey shrieked, its scream several times shriller than the last one. With a jerk, the prey’s legs unlatched from the branch. The others were happy, swarming the fallen prey.

The second prey, instead of trying to shoot me, scrambled back up the tree, most likely afraid of an other jumping up to catch it like the first prey. But before it could climb all the way back up, a hand latched around its leg. It was Big Other’s. It had finally pushed the others out of its way to arrive underneath the second prey’s tree. The prey dropped its bow, pulling a knife out of its pocket. It stabbed down at Big Other’s arm. But Big Other didn’t care. Big Other bent its arm, pulling the prey’s leg. Then Big Other tugged. And tugged. And tugged. And the prey popped off the trunk. As expected of Big Other. When it was still a prey, it could lift other prey to use as a shield. Now that it’s an other, it can still do the same.

With the unexpected help, the two prey were taken care of. I can’t tell which other jumped on top of the first prey. I wanted to name it Agile Other. But I don’t know which one it is. I was going to give it a dome without a visor. That way, its head would be protected without stopping its bites. Big Other has a full dome. It doesn’t need to bite prey to deal with them.

Now, where’s the black box? There was a crackling followed by a voice. It was coming from the first prey.

“…you hold out? Over.”

It’s a shame I can’t speak. And the prey wasn’t in a position to be speaking.

“Eric? How are things on your end? Over.”

The voice came out of the box again. If the prey realize their companions are dead, will they still come? They wouldn’t have a reason to. If it weren’t for their companions, why would they leave their defenses, take a risk to attack me? It’d make much more sense for them to wait for me inside the garrison.

“Eric, respond. If you don’t say anything in the next three minutes, we’re going to assume you’re dead. Over.”

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Virlyce

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