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Chapter 9














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Dr Foster runs across the landing field, his feet drumming over the damp ground. A lightning strike flashes to illuminate the valley, signalling the tired man to check around him as he gets close to the vehicles. The mountain towers behind, prominent in the darkness, no enemy to be seen. His eyes turn, rising up the steep concrete wall encompassing the area. A tall figure stands high, waiting at the edge, silhouetted before a sharp full-moon.

The doctor flings open the door of the left craft and hurries to tuck the metal box under the first seat. But as he moves to get in, a shadow drops from the sky crashing through the ceiling of the other ship. The machine is smashed to scrap by the weight of the body lying within its shattered heap. To his surprise the creature is not moving, its limbs stretched out lifelessly.

"Surely a Predator couldn't be killed from such a jump?" He asks himself, slowly backing out to look at the pile of flesh and metal. "Unless it was already dead!" His eyes dart up again to the moon, the figure is still there, its barbed tail swishing behind it as it looks his way.

The Hybrid Alien guards its new territory with ruthless glory. Forced to survive as only the Alien race knows how, alerted to the Elder's bomb it ran from the blast. Sleeping in the docking port to await an unsuspecting rescue party, a hidden stowaway in the shuttle's umbilical. The three Predator youth were too easy, handicapped by their restricting load of bulky equipment.

It observes the startled man running away back across the landing field. The doctor hears it land close behind him as he heads back to the hangar for a weapon, his pursuer nimbly gaining on him. Filled with despair, he forces himself to gamble his few remaining moments and experience what he has always dreamt of seeing. Turning to his right, hurrying up the gridded ramp into the Predator shuttle and greeted to his disappointment by a scene of gory green-blooded carnage. The Hybrid follows inside.

Annalise remains submerged in the cold water staring out from the circulating shower. She can see Headhunter moving opposite along the dry bank, reaching across the surface to take hold of the Alien's tail as the body is pushed by the ripples.

He grasps it firmly, dragging it closer to remove his shuriken and claim the head. Believing the woman to have perished he doesn't know that his actions are being watched. The silver star is encased in an acid-proof coating leaving it unmarked by its lethal intrusion, the Predator moves to take it.

Human eyes focus hard as Masaki's tail begins to rise beside Headhunter, gliding up to loom over his back as a scorpion ready to strike. At the moment the gloved hand tightens around the weapon's handle the Alien spins around to face him. His eye widens in alarm, feeling the tail coil about him and tumble him into the pool. Beneath the surface, the weak Alien calmly holds the warrior clinging tighter and tighter with wrapping tail, arms and legs. Jaws closing to pierce silver teeth into his exposed shoulder with vampiric delight.

Headhunter cannot move, his limbs bound, bubbles seeping from his mouth as his breath runs out. The water glows a tint of green as his blood spills from Masaki's bite. His fingers feel the shuriken and, granting the the warrior one dying wish, they thrust the spikes deeper, winding them up to the skull and out of the polished dome. Annalise climbs from the water's edge, the two bodies rising into view, intertwined in a shared death-grip.

Topknot remains fixed on his target, preparing his blades as the branches rustle below. "Here kitty, kitty!" his throat murmurs the line in a child's voice.

As the moment comes close his chest pounds a slow, steady beat. Then an answer comes to his call- a long hiss sounding close, from above! On the ceiling ahead, only a few metres away, Masami sits upside-down facing the astounded Predator. Matched by its cunning Topknot snarls back, enraged, leaping at the dark beast and grabbing over its arms to pull it with him.

The foes drop together, Topknot holding the writhing Alien to shield himself from the branches as they hit. In the relentless fall he slashes his blades hard into Masami's right arm, cutting through it at the shoulder. The trees pound past, the Alien's tail seeking a hold and whipping around a strong branch to leave the Predator falling alone to the ground.

Surrounded by close, twisting trunks the hunter stands to look for his quarry. The blades on his right arm are bubbling as melted stubs, his left gauntlet slides to reveal a dart-launcher. Pointing it above him, a droplet falls form above, sizzling on the leaves at his feet. Blood from Masami's, the acid drips down as the creature moves from tree to tree, aiming the potent chemical at its new play-mate.

Topknot fires a dart, followed by a second, finding himself driven into a trap within the dense patch of overgrown forest. He searches for a way out, shielding his head with his arms, the acid lands on his armour melting down into the gauntlet controls. He hurries to remove them both, left more and more exposed to attack.

Without choice he opens his fists and runs at the thinnest trunk, heaving with all his might, forcing it with overwhelming power to crack and fall before him. Charging between the gap, his feet pound hard to bound away, heading for an inviting clearing as Masami sprints through the air above.

The open patch of woodland lays around a central red wooden pillar, with stone sculptures fashioned to worship Topknot's kind. His breathing is laboured in the oxygen-rich atmosphere, the Alien relentlessly pursuing him, dropping by the edge of the clearing.

The crouching feline's torn arm hangs weakly at its side as it stands straight on hind legs to match its rival. The beasts exchange roars, circling the ground with claws spread.

"Do you're worst!" Topknot jeers in Annalise's words.

Masami replies with a screaming lunge, the two meeting with a loud impact, their hands scratch at one another wrestling for control. Masami's tail waves the air, swinging again and again to batter the hunter's body until he is toppled backwards to the floor. The Alien jumps to land on his chest but Topknot kicks out at the feline's stomach to throw it away.

The Predator ably flips in an arc to land ready, his mandibles flexing as he summons his strength. Masami quietly creeps past the sculptured rocks stalking low like a lion- judging for the time to strike. Sweeping across the sandy earth its tail begins to swirl, lassoing towards him. Defenceless, the warrior spots the wooden pillar beside them, realising that a weapon is within his reach.

The tail snaps through the air with a whipping crack, a sharp scythe-like tip aimed for the hunter's face. Topknot reacts with premeditated accuracy, catching the spiny tail in his palm. He pulls it closer, wrapping it around his arm as a rope to drag Masami closer. As the Alien claws across his chest, he snatches its throat tightly in his left hand and its strong arm in his right.

Topknot heaves the writhing creature into the air, its head and legs writhing as he drives it onto the pillar. The wooden construction shatters beneath to expose a pointed spike-top bursting through Masami's chest, spilling blood and bone outwards as its body slides down the widening, engraved stone needle as a pulverised corpse.

Returning to face a smashed control panel, Annalise hopelessly tries the key-pad buttons to release the doors. Her eyes wander the surroundings to seek some way of escape, fixing with uncertainty on the pool. She hesitantly dip a hand under the water's surface to pull at Headhunter's floating body, tugging his right arm onto the rocky bank.

She rotates his gauntlet weapon to study the complicated device, its decorative design and deep channelling barrels challenging her confused and tired mind. Pointing the bandaged stump in the direction of the sealed doorway, the defiant woman presses every inch of the armament blindly trying to activate it.

The slashes across Topknot's chest glow with deep green blood-flow as the hunter stands over his fallen foe. Fumes rise into the air from the dissolving monument of worship as the Alien's innards surround it. The Predator leans over his most challenging opponent, holding its shiny black skull in his palms and twisting firmly to tear against the muscular neck. Masami's head is ripped off and raised proudly into the air with a victorious roar.

A thunderous shot sounds throughout the habitat- Headhunter's gauntlet discharging twin blasts into the chamber's entrance. Topknot spins to attention, charging to investigate as a second volley booms. The doorway swims with a billowing dust cloud as Annalise judges her success. A breath of air sucks the view clear to reveal a smouldering hole through the thick barrier.

Topknot steps from the forest to see the woman climbing out of the tight space, he then looks to the pool and the body of Headhunter- his brother. The enraged warrior ignores his wounds, snatching his cutting disc from the tree beside him, he will finish this! Reaching the doors the mighty monster grasps the hole, his great muscles tensing rock solid as the blocks creak, levering them to ease apart and clear his way.

The storm breaks, lashing flooding rain down the hillside and over the site. In the cold hangar bay Annalise's steps beat hard as she flees the complex, she cannot let the bodies distract her, she must get out. The weather claps loudly, water dowsing the landing field and pouring off the sleek vessel. She ignores it, determined to block all other thoughts as she heads for the boundary wall.

Though the elements pound the air, her senses warn her of a buzzing sound chasing fast. She drops forward flat against the reflecting wet concrete, the disc weapon skims over her head and circles back.

She turns over, Topknot poised by the hangar door, catching the disc in one hand and holding Masami's head in the other. The relentless killer enjoys her fear as she shuffles away, loosening the gauntlet to slip it from her bleeding arm.

"Keep it!" She shouts, flinging the priceless relic.

It skims across the puddles to his feet. But the hunter won't give in that easily.

"No mercy." He recites in a deep version of her voice, grinning viciously at her fear.

She stares at the sight above her, a glowing substance drips thicker than the rain to splatter down Topknot's shoulder. He looks to the luminous green substance hitting drop after drop down his breast-plate. Annalise is not looking at him, he carefully moves to see.

At the top of the hangar bay door over a browing ledge, blood leaks from a Predator's disembodied head. Held in a strong grasp by a towering titan revelling in the remains of its victims, a lightning strike flashing for a moment as the Hybrid gazes down from the darkness.

Annalise gets to her feet, careful not to draw its attention as she backs away. The Alien stretches to the sky with reaching claws, tossing the head away and screaming its death call from a wide-spreading mouth, slime oozing down its silver-tipped mandibles.

Topknot watches the woman run, leaving him to face this superior opponent. He takes the gauntlet from the ground and fits it onto his arm, opening the cover to activate the self-destruct. So much of his honoured race has been defiled here, whether he could win this fight or not, man-kind has no claim to this stolen knowledge or to this sacred land.

As the four screens light with red symbols, the ground shakes from the Hybrid's landing thud. Annalise reaches the escape craft, it's door left open welcoming a needy pilot. She climbs in, strapping in tight and slamming the door panel shut as the savage creatures stand afar.

The thrusters churn to life as Topknot finishes his programming, sending a signal across the base to the gauntlets of his four fallen comrades. The weapons synchronise, bleeping the countdown as the Predator attacks with his disc.

The Hybrid smashes its barbed tail across his arm dashing his tool and bones to pieces. Annalise kicks the craft into gear blasting off from the hell below, unaware of the impending detonation.

Bleep, bleep. The Hybrid restrains Topknot, with claws stabbing his back it bites his throat out.

Bleep, bleep. The craft glimmers in front of the dark, thunderous sky.

Bleep, bleep. Topknot thumps his fist against the Alien's face, pressing the gauntlet between its open mandibles.

Bleep...

The Heli-jet fires away as the ground flares brighter than the sun. An energy-wave spanning outward, clearing the storm and flattening the land. The warping sphere of light sweeping towards the racing craft as Annalise fights to keep hold of the shaking controls, the wave churns around her, the metal glowing bright. She forces her eyes tightly closed as the blinding charge burns harshly, decimating the countryside, triggering earthquakes and churning high into Earth's atmosphere. Belting from the fiery wrath the smoking vessel breaks free, the young woman gasps, her hands shaking and ears ringing.

The tremendous shock-wave simmers in the distance, burning out over an enormous crater. Armed with the knowledge of the secrets exposed to her, Annalise holds the dog-tags hanging on her necklace wondering what will become of the human race, with such a long history of conflict the future looks bleak. Of those who have lived and died tonight was it really worth the sacrifice?

The two heirs: Adam and Haruki have pledged to cultivate their powerful company. Asao, self-appointed king of his business empire has given his life, ensuring that they survive.

The two leading Predators: Topknot and Headhunter directing their fight for honour, to avenge the death of their Elder, monarch of their clan, their respected leader- their father.

The Alien Queen struggled for the survival of her species. Her two princes, Masaki and Masami, were born with one commitment- a natural instinct to rebuild the hive and protect their queen. Her legacy lives on...

Beneath the pilot's seat, a small case sits safely on the floor. Surviving the swelling heat, the cold-storage compartment has warmed to awaken its precious cargo. A glistening tongue stretches out with a hissing screech. The vehicle glides away under a sparkling blanket of stars reaching to the horizon.

THE END.
















ESCAPING DOCTOR
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