I study the scenery with my unblinking eye, my right one in a firm wink as I look down the shaft of my arrow. The target symbol jumps from on place to another as I angle the compound bow from here to there, pointing the electroshaft tip in different places in the dense tropical woodland. I sense the Venkai closing in upon me. And to confirm my hunch, my helmet’s computer chip automatically switches to heat vision to display the threat. I see oncoming lumps of orange and yellow slowly stalking behind boulders in the midst of cool greens and blues. I switch to X-ray vision. Yes. There are definitely Venkai approaching. Heavily armed Venkai.
I duck into a crouching position and slowly make my way to the edge of a tall ledge that looks over a patch of dene shrubbery. I take cautious looks from side to side, nervously studying the natural beauty. My heart beats fast. Sweat drips down my brow. Fear grips my soul. Nervousness takes its hold on the very fibers of my being.
I hear steam escape from a nearby steampowered pistol’s tension vent. The light plume of condensed water rises out of a patch of bushes, growing the relentless humidity of the rainforest. I creep nearer to the bush, taking slow steps on my leather boots. Stealth is key now.
I pull the bowstring back. The arrow nocked on the bow slides on my finger holding the bow. Then waiting. A small click of a cocking gun.
Then a loud bang.
I sense a bullet whiz past my ear. I roll to my left and fire my first arrow. A moment later I hear a deep grunt of pain in the undergrowth. Another pistol emerges from behind a tree. It fires. Two bullets spring from the gun and speed to me. I hold up my forearm before my face, and a second later I feel a shiver run up my spine. My steel deflector-plates had succeeded in blocking the bullets, but my arm is so shaken up it feels numb.
I flip another two arrows from my long quiver, nocking them both on the bowstring at one time. I pull back just as two Venkai terrorists reveal themselves, I release, and each arrow shoots cleanly through their throats. The troopers clutch their necks and fall back to the ground before they can even know what hit them.
I stand up and get my bearings. My right arm still feels numb, but it’ll have to hold up if I’m going to make it out of this rainforest alive. My griffin Strapar is miles off. The rest of my squad is scattered around the woods, likely being killed off this very moment. It’s just me. Alone against an army of skilled Venkai warriors.
More helmeted heads pop from the foliage around me. Reflexes kick in, and I dispatch three terrorists, my electroshafts deep in their hearts. I hear approaching footsteps around me that seem to trudge in the undergrowth. Gunshots echo and quiet the singing birds around me.
A tree’s bark explodes into thousands of splinters just to my right. Another two to my left. Better the trees than me. Bullets sing near my cheek. That was close.
A Venkai swings down from a tree next to me. He pulls a rifle from his back and fires once, twice, thrice at me. The first two bullets miss…the third strikes home on my left knee. I feel my kneecap shatter. Blood drips from my leg and stains the mossy forest floor. Falling to my good knee, I clutch the wound tightly. Pain. I grit my teeth and close my eyes. Sightless: Arrow. Nock. Pull. Release. The Venkai falls to the ground with an arrow in his chest.
I rip some fabric from my dirty shirt and quickly wrap it around my shot knee, forming a rough tourniquet. But instantly it is dampened with blood. I grab a long branch that had fallen from a tree, and I hoist myself up on it. I stick it under my arm and hobble away with my knew crutch. Pain again claws at my leg. I want to scream, but I cover my mouth with my free hand. I can’t let a Venkai terrorist hear me. If one comes now I’m dead.
But one comes anyway.
A Venkai sniper high in a tree shoots mercilessly at me. I throw back my head, dodging a lethal bullet. Luck. Something that helped my this time but not something I can rely on.
I’m proved wrong.
I hear a rustle and clanking of armored wings soaring down from above. The Venkai hears it too. And in one second flat, he has three massive talons protruding from his stomach and chest. As quickly as they stabbed him, they slide out, and his limp body flies down from the trees.
“Strapar!” I shout, waving my fist. My griffin flies down and lands on the green turf, and I hobble-run over to him. I throw my good leg over and slide it in the stirrup, then my bad leg inside the other one. I discard the crutch and crack the reigns. Then Strapar flies off, cawing and shrieking at the air.
This last move is deadly.
As we clear the forest canopy, I hear the angry shouts of the Venkai speaking in their own coded language. They had heard us. Bullets whistle through the treetops and crash into Strapar’s stomach, but they bounce right off the steel armor.
I flip a switch on the control panel on Strapar’s neck. A hear the hum of raw electricity run through snakelike wires that run to guns on Strapar’s flanks. In a few seconds, the giant guns shoot massive rays into the forest canopy. An explosion follows, and a cluster of trees that once stood tall disappear in a flash of flames. Along with eight Venkai.
Roars echo in the forest. Then the wind of flapping wings. Dragons.
Twenty armored winged lizards spring from the trees, each mounted with three Venkai warriors. Tons of blades and guns cling to the dragon’s scales, armor itself. Steam generators power all the machines on the dragons’ body. They look like flying tanks from a distance.
And all of them are heading toward me.
A few dragons coming from the North fire a volley of bullets and bits of flying shrapnel that they had shoved in their cannons. Grenades and bombs of all types soar through the morning fog like plump birds lumbering through the air. I flip a few switches, turning on our rear deflector shields. When the incoming bits of destruction are just behind us, they vanish into a bit of flame and ash as if they never were. But it took alot of power to disintegrate all those weapons, and that move can’t be used again. Retreat is the only option. But where? I’m surrounded, even from above. The only choice is down, back into the rainforest.
“Strapar, do you think you can navigate through the trees?” I ask my griffin.
He screeches and nods his head.
“That’s what I was thinking!” I shout, and I plunge down into the woods on griffinback.
Last post’s riddle solution: eggses!
This post’s riddle:
Who makes it, has no need of it.
Who buys it, has no use for it.
Who uses it can neither see nor feel it.
What is it?
To God be the glory! May our praises to Him ring!