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QuoteThe morning sun rose lazily over the horizon, in the manner it was most accustomed to. Being set in it's ways, it was unlikely to change on a whim. The light trickled through the verdant canopy of the jungle, soaking into the thick vegetation lining the ground. Such gentle metaphors were lost upon a monster hunter named Jak, as he struggled to shield his eyes from it. Tasked with slaying a mating pair of wyverns, he envied the role of his partner and wife. Jiajina preferred blades to bowguns, and so served no purpose scanning the skies. Thusly the arduous job fell to Jak, and he strained himself to peer between the hanging foliage.
The brush rustled to his left, and he reflexively unslung his bowgun from his shoulder. He bent his knees, and squinted his right eye. By now gunnery was as breathing to him, yet he still felt uneasy. On numerous separate occasions, they had prevailed against either variety of wyvern. This was no routine hunt, however. A mating pair provided increased risk from more than numbers. The already feral wyverns became even more intensely raged, when defending one another, or in this case especially, a nest.
He re slung his weapon and called to the disturbance.
"Find anything, honey?"
"D'ohh! how did you know it was me!"
"For starters," he hugged and kissed his wife as she emerged from concealment, "Wyverns don't giggle when stalking their prey."
Jia sighed, "There's tracks everywhere, but i cant find em. I'm really starting to get pissed."
"We should get packed up and head home," Jak sighed and fiddled with his ammunition belt. "I should have brought more basic shells. I'm fully stocked on explosive rounds, but I'd feel better if we tried this again with piercing rounds..."
The slender female hunter pulled her crimson hair back, and placed her helmet atop it. She was frustrated to have gotten up so early to search for the troublesome pair. She sighed, and let her shoulders droop.
"Let's at least check the cliff face. If we cant see them from there, then i just don't know."
Jak's face portrayed nothing if not displeasure at the thought.
"Odds are the nest is up there somewhere... we could be walking into more trouble than we like."
"You don't like any trouble, you big wimp. I know you didn't pick up that bowgun because you like being close to the action."
Her husband's response was merely to begin walking toward the mountain, an ominous spire of rock blemishing the uninterrupted green of the jungle. 'It wasn't always like this...' he thought to himself. 'She used to listen to me... used to admire my experience. I hope she knows what she's getting us into.'
The couple reached the mouth of a cave, a black mouth at the foot of the mountain. They proceeded in silence through the damp tunnel, illuminated only by the glow of luminescent fungus, and the torch Jak pulled form his pack.
"No wonder you don't have any ammo, you're loaded up with other junk!" Jiajina snapped at her husband.
Jak mumbled to himself, "At least i thought to bring one..."
"No. What did you say?"
"I said i love you. Jeez, we're finally there," Jak dropped his spent torch in with a light splash and stepped out of the cave, to peer over the lush landscape.
"Love you too, you liar." She raised the visor of her helmet and kissed her companion. "Sure is lovely out here."
"Yeah.. i just wonder where... the wyverns..." he trailed off. They had both seen the shadow pass over them, and they craned their necks skyward.
The female wyvern announced her presence with a deafening roar that would have split the ears of a novice hunter. Jak pulled his bowgun from its place on his back. Casually he browsed the shells arranged on the belt slung across his chest. Eventually he settled on a fat, cylindrical round with a flat end.
"Aren't you going to use a blasting round?" Jia demanded, "you always use those to ground them"
"And have her roll down this mountainside? Cant get decent materials off the beast if she breaks every bone in her body...." Jak pulled a slider on the body of his gun, and slid the shell in. "Hopefully this pellet shot will perforate her wings enough to force her to land... that's where you come in."
His wife unsheathed the twin razor-sharp swords from their sheathes on her back. "I like that part," she giggled, her pleasure palpable, even concealed beneath her helmet.
"Just watch out for that tail, honey... i don't want a repeat of our last scare." Jak followed the wyverns flight with the tip of his weapon, waiting for it to come in range. "I nearly lost you to the poison. "
"Don't worry so much, Jak. "
As they watched, the wyvern ceased to circle above them, instead choosing to alight on a larger outcropping several feet away. It roared again, in a manner the married hunters knew was an attempt at intimidation.
"Found it's nest."
"I'm sick of waiting. I'm going after her!" Jia ran and sprang from the cliff, grasping the adjacent ledge and scrambling to her feet.
"What are you– hang on a damn minute!" Jak screamed after her, frantically manipulating the mechanism of his arm. "I need to change shells! i don't want to risk hitting you! Goddamit girl you're going to be the death of me..." He muttered the final bit under his breath. At the expense of his expensive pellet shell, he quickly fired his bowgun behind him with one arm, silently enjoying the recoil minimizer he secretly financed. Meanwhile his wife was toe to toe with her winged foe, nimbly evading being clamped in it's massive jaws. The giant wyvern stepped back several feet, nearly to the edge of the rocky foothold.
"Look out!" Jak cried after his love, as he hastily looked for a shell to suit the situation, "The tail!"
Unlike previous ventures against the deadly lizards, Jiajina was well prepared and light on her feet. Her lack of excess supplies allowed her to roll easily to the side as the wyvern flapped its massive wings. The great monster lifted into the air but a few short feet, and flicked its menacing barbed tail toward Jia. She threw her head back as the venomous limb sped through the space she occupied just prior. The wyvern hovered momentarily, enraged that its tiny pest was still alive.
Jak frantically loaded his strongest burrowing explosive round, essentially a long, sharp drill, stuffed with gunpowder and ignited by the firing mechanism.
He knew a good opportunity when he saw it, as the wyvern's underbelly was exposed by its prior attack and his wife quickly taking shelter behind a rock.
Jak stood into firing position, and braced himself for the recoil of the powerful round he had prepared. He lifted the 'gun to aim, when he became aware of an ominous shadow falling over him.
The next moments seemed slowed to an eternity, as the male wyvern descended upon the unprepared gunner. He saw his wife scream, though all he could hear was the rushing of wind as the uninvited guest swooped upon him. He spun toward his attacker, in an attempt to get a shot in, but failed to raise his weapon as he was struck heavily in the chest by the wyvern's tail. The wind quickly exited his lungs, as the shock of the impact threw him against the cliff face.
His torso burned like fire. Blood spouted from the fist-sized hole in his light armor. Jak's entire body relaxed upon connection with the wall, and he held onto his weapon only through the custom clasp that served to limit recoil.
He knew not if his eyes were closed, or if he was blinded by the pain he suffered, but Jak blinked his eyes furiously, trying to focus. Through bleary vision he saw the approach of his rust-scaled nemesis. It's mouth was open, ready to finish him with a bite that could bisect a horse. He raised his arms weakly, and with all his might pulled the trigger on his bowgun. The recoil was immense, and as light flashed from the barrel, his arms snapped back into his face, and he slumped to one side.
The shell sped through the air at a speed untrackable by mortal means, burying itself beyond recognition into the waiting mouth of the fearsome male wyvern. There was a pop, and a bang which echoed for miles, silencing the normally vibrant sounds of the jungle. What remained of the monster tumbled backwards from the cliff, quickly disappearing from sight.
Their fight completely forgotten, the female wyvern and Jia each sped toward their fallen companion. The surviving wyvern dove from the cliff, as Jiajina, spurred by adrenaline and horror, easily cleared the gap. She ripped off her helmet, and let her weapons clatter to the ground, crouching to cradle the limp body of her husband. She held him close, and let the tears run easily down her face. "No..." she sobbed, "NO!" On the ground, the female wyvern prodded her mate with her beak, urging it to move. It released a long, wailing moan of a roar, which mingled with that of Jia.
As one, hunter and wyvern cried out in united anguish, filling the silent landscape with the mourning of their fallen lovers.