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That startled me. A prey ran into me, hit me away with its body. It was carrying another prey too. It wasn’t very big. But it was strong. If it becomes infected, it’ll become Strong Other. But it’s still prey right now. I don’t know why it didn’t kill me. It doesn’t matter. There’s three prey that are trying. One of them ran up, stabbed my right shoulder while I was still sitting, leaning against the wall. With its wooden spear, it can’t stab through my dome. It’s trying to kill me like I’m Big Other, disable my limbs before delivering the final blow. I can’t let that happen.

I stood up, pushing into the spear. It came out the other side of my body. I slid along the shaft, slashed at the prey holding the spear with my right hand which held my knife. But it didn’t let me. It planted its foot against my chest, shoved me back while pulling out its spear. I crashed into the wall. The prey stabbed my right shoulder again. I pushed against it, trying to slide up like last time. I couldn’t. The spear must be pressing against bone. I could still move my right arm. But its range of motion was restricted.

“One of you get up here!”

The prey squeezed to the side while keeping the spear pressed against me. Another prey sidled through the doorway. It was holding a spear as well.

“Pin its forearm to the ground.”

“Got it.” The second prey aimed its spear, stabbed it into my right arm. I couldn’t avoid it, not with the spear in my shoulder. Once the spear kept my arm in place, preventing me from even raising my knife, the first prey withdrew its weapon. I took that chance to pull an arrow out of the bag on my waist using my left hand. The first prey stabbed towards my left shoulder. I managed to dodge despite my right arm being pinned to the ground. I could barely move my body to the side. If that spear hit me, I really would be done for. The third prey would come in, pin my left arm down. Then they’d remove my dome, kill me. Whatever happens, I can’t let it stab me. If only that strong prey hadn’t barged through. I wouldn’t be in such a terrible position.

“Slippery bastard, aren’t ya? Just stop struggling. It’ll be easier for the both of us.”

The prey stabbed again. I curled up, brought my shoulder down, bent my knees up to my chest, making myself a smaller target. It missed again. I planted my feet against the ground, still crouched. I used all my strength to leap towards the second prey despite the spear holding my arm to the ground. My hand didn’t move. But my shoulder bent backwards at an unnatural angle until I was almost face to face with the prey, my hand almost completely behind my back. It was thanks to the previous injury I received, the one that strengthened my arm, increased my flexibility. The second prey took a step back to retreat. But with less pressure on my hand, I could keep up, maintaining the distance between us as I swung my left hand, aiming my arrow at the only spot it could puncture, the prey’s neck. There’s a gap between the dome and the armored clothes. It’s not visible. But it’s there.

“Michael!” the third prey in the back shouted.

I copied the first prey, planted my leg against the second prey’s chest, kicked it while yanking my arrow out. It tumbled back against the doorframe, half-blocking the entrance. My right arm was free, the spear inside of it slipping out. But before I could do anything with it, a large force struck my side, knocking me off balance onto the floor. The first prey had tackled me with its shoulder.

“Shit! Didn’t I tell you to stop struggling!?”

Just because it told me to stop, did it think I would stop? The prey stabbed down with its spear. But I rolled to the side, pushing myself up with my left hand at the same time. I sprang to my feet, facing the prey. Surprisingly, I could still move my right arm perfectly fine. My joints weren’t destroyed. Only the fleshy parts had holes in them. Black blood leaked out. But barely. The injuries didn’t matter. Odd. When I was stabbed in the shoulder last time, I couldn’t use my arm for a while. Maybe I developed a resistance. After being stabbed there once, the second time being stabbed isn’t as bad. It makes sense. My arm did get stronger. Maybe I should’ve self-injured myself.

Time was against me. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for the prey to make a move. The strong prey could come back at any moment. Maybe even bringing the prey it was carrying to attack me as well. The second prey was struggling to stand. It hadn’t died. I have to kill the first prey quickly. Or I can run, see if there’s another room in this building with another chokepoint. That might be the best option. But I can’t show this prey my back. The instant I do, it’ll attack me. I can feel it. That’s what I would do to a running prey. The prey seemed to realize it could wait for help. It brought its spear close to its chest, changed its stance into a more defensive one.

But it didn’t matter. I had to attack before it was too late. Once I close in on the prey, my knife wins at that distance. The prey will do everything it can to keep me back. I don’t have to fully avoid the spear. If it hits a fleshy part, I can let it stab through me completely, push my way forward to close the distance. The easiest way for the prey to stop that is to aim for my chest. The chest is all bone. The spear will knock me back. Such a large target, can I even dodge if the prey aims for it? I have to make the area the prey can hit as small as possible. How? By crouching, bending down.

I leapt forward, keeping myself low to the ground. If I’m standing upright, my chest covers a wide area. If I’m almost parallel to the ground, making sure my body is like a line pointing at the spear, my dome should protect not only my head but my chest too. The spear attack I was expecting didn’t come. Instead, a foot pressed against my shoulder. I swung my arm up, stabbing into its leg with my knife. I was pushed back as it kicked me. But not before leaving a long gash in its calf.

The prey screamed. It was more of a loud grunt. I corrected my stance, lowering myself to jump again. The prey took a step back. Then, it grabbed the third prey’s arm. The third prey was at the door helping the second prey out of the building. But the first prey didn’t care. It yanked the third prey into the building, putting it off balance. With more room at the entrance, the first prey half-ran, half-limped out, leaving the third prey in a truly terrible position. Terrible for it. Great for me. I leapt forward, stabbing down on the third prey that was still off balance from the first prey’s rough handling. Prey really never change. At the slightest hint of danger, they sacrifice each other to survive.

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Virlyce

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