NEAR-HUNTED

A SHORT STORY WITHIN THE EVERWAR UNIVERSE.

WRITTEN BY TY’RON W. C. ROBINSON II

Searching on the planet Terropia, a group of bounty hunters lead by the mercenary Trad Riser walked through the jungle-filled planet searching for a man named Danton Ivanhoe Draven or known by many as simply “Draven”. The hunters, wearing clad armor and geared with weapons walk through the bushes and outlandish trees. Smelling the stench of dew and hearing the sounds of animals around them, the hunters begin to worry.

“What kind of beast live out here?” A hunter said.

“I’ve heard stories about a two-headed jaguar living on this planet. I’ve never seen one myself to be so sure.”

“Thank you for your input. But that doesn’t simply answer my question.”

“We are not here to discuss what beasts live here.” Trad said. “We are here to find Draven and to bring him before the Council for judgment.”

“Understood sir.”

Walking past a pair of trees, the hunters spotted a decaying corpse of what appeared to be cougar. The hunters paused for a bit, scanning the corpse and looking around their location.

“You tell me what can kill a cougar.”

“I have no idea of what could.” Trad said. “Whatever did is still around the area and we intend on not encountering it under any circumstances.”

“I agree, sir.”

“Now let’s keep moving. Complete our mission and get off this wild planet.”

They continued moving through the jungle, a pair of eyes are locked onto the hunters, staring them down as they walk. The eyes glistened orange as the sun’s rays shined off its eyes. The pair burrow themselves behind the trees and out of sight. Walking through the jungle continually, the hunters begin to feel weary and exhausted from the amount of walking. They stop by a pair of bushes that is laying next to a small lake.

“Water. Finally.”

The hunters went over to the lake except for Trad who kept his eyes locked on the areas around him and his group. While the hunters gathered water from the lake to cool themselves off from the blazing heat of the sun in the jungle. Trad felt a slight thump in the ground. He paused for a second and felt another thump. He knew it wasn’t an earthquake due to its tone, but something large that is moving atop the ground somewhere near their location. He signaled to the hunters to keep moving and they continued walking. Trad took more glances and scouts the area, still feeling the thump but at a lower tone.

The hunters find themselves in an area that is completely covered with snakes. Trad has a hatred of snakes and started killing them with his machete that he’s known to carry around with him at all times besides his firearm.

“I hate snakes. Disgusting creatures they are.”

“Join the club, boss.”

After getting past the snake-filled area, they spot a small cabin ahead of them. Uncertain of its location, they proceed to approach it, believing that Draven could be living inside of the cabin. Trad is certain that Draven has made the cabin his dwelling place amongst the jungle of Terropia. Though the hunters aren’t certain that Draven would be in an obvious location that would make him easily searchable.

“Sir, I don’t think Draven is inside that cabin. It looks like it belongs to some hermit who decided to move here to get away from society.”

“Well, you don’t know Draven, boy.” Trad said. “I’m sure you were taught in the academy Draven is a different breed of man. He lives between life and death. Hell, he’s near-death and understands the other world more than anyone else around. He can see the spirits within people and knows their hearts and intent. He’s set-apart from society and that what makes him who he is. Most importantly, he follows a god that is not one of our own.”

The High One.” Another hunter said. “He follows Him and we follow the gods of Elysium.”

“You’re damn right and that what makes Draven a threat not only to us, but to everyone else that lives in this universe.”

Trad moves closer to the cabin while the hunters slowly make their way behind him toward the cabin. Uncertain of what could be inside, the hunters form a circle around the cabin. Moving quietly, Trad approaches the door. He counts to three and kicks the door open. Gun pointed, he scans the cabin and there is not a man nor animal inside. Trad releases an agitated sigh.

“Where is this man?!” Trad said. “He is here somewhere.”

Bushes rustle behind them and they turned to see a Shior. A large cat-like beast, resembling a liger in size. The Shior locked its orange eyes on the hunters to where they see the sun’s ray reflecting off the beast’s eyes. Weapons up and pointed toward the Shior. It roars of its presence. Trad commands the hunters to fire upon the Shior to which the beast runs out of the range of their fire.

The Shior quickly moved across the hunters and started swiping them with its claws. Roaring and slashing at the hunters, the Shior moved at a pace that the hunters nor Trad could continue to measure up with.

“We can’t keep up with the speed of this beast!”

“What should we do sir?!”

“Keep firing! Just keep firing!”

While Trad and the hunters continued to attempt a shot at the Shior, in the trees above them sat Draven. Still wearing his black attire and clad-armor while sitting quietly in the trees, watching the Shior take out the hunters one by one. Draven slowly reached toward his back and raised up his main choice of weapons, the Jakuls, sharp-curved blades made of heated silver. Draven stood up on the branch of the tree and jumped off, landing onto the ground. Trad and the hunters are silent, looking at Draven in front of them. Trad scratched his head and swiped his frizzy hair.

“It’s about time!”

Draven looked to his left and the Shior ran toward him. The beast paused as they circled each other before fighting. The Shior released a few swipes, cutting Draven in the arms and chest. Draven curved and rushed toward the Shior with his jakuls. The jakuls injure the Shior‘s side, yet it continues to pounce toward Draven. He jumped onto the Shior and held the beast by its neck and impaled the Shior in the sides continuously with his jakuls. The Shior fell dead and Trad stared at Draven, tired and angry.

“Still looking like a gruff, Riser”

“Now, that we’ve got that beast out of the way. Danton I. Draven, you are to come with us.”

“Why should I go with you? You’ll do nothing but place me before your immoral Council.”

“It is the order of things around here and you ought to know it and respect it.”

“I respect your ways, Riser. But I will not obey them. You should know best that I would rather die than convert to your gods of Elysium.”

“I’ve had enough of your rebellious attitude!”

“Then attempt to end me now, Trad Riser. Prove to me that your gods will be satisfied with your work and will give you the desires of your heart.”

Trad pointed his gun toward Draven’s forehead. Trad had paused for a brief moment, seeing how Draven showed no fear or trembling, only standing his ground before Trad and his remaining hunters. Trad sweating from the heat and tiredness, shook while holding the gun.

“What are you waiting for? End me and prove to me that your gods are with you.”

“Why don’t you prove to me that your god is with you, Draven and then we’ll see who is following the One True God.”

Draven smirked.

“Fair enough, Riser.”

Draven places his jakuls on the ground in front of Trad’s feet as Trad keeps the gun pointed at Draven’s forehead.

“What kind of work is this?!” Trad said. “Is this supposed to be funny?!”

“No. But what’s coming will be funny indeed.”

The ground thumped strongly and Trad recognized the thump from earlier. The thump increased in strength and its coming closer. Trad looked around seeing the birds fly out of the trees nearby and small animals running by them away from the area. Draven slowly kneeled down and picked up his jakuls, placing them into the holsters on his back.

“What is that?” Trad said with trembling in his voice.

“That is a Tradmor and I think you wouldn’t want to see one up close.”

“A Tradmor? Its named after me or something?”

The trees started to move and they looked up and seen the Tradmor. A giant black furry beast that stood above the height of the trees, resembling a large silver-back gorilla with large tusks coming from its mouth. The Tradmor roared at Trad and the hunters. They turn to Draven, but Draven has already left the area. Now Trad and the hunters ran for their lives to escape the sight of the Tradmor. The Tradmor trampled the remaining hunters through the chase and only Trad is left alive and he found his way back toward the ship.

“I’m getting the hell off of this planet.”

Trad went into the ship and closed the door. He walked toward the cockpit only to be punched in the face and thrown against the wall by Draven himself. Trad is taken aside by Draven’s interference.

“How in the hell did you get onto my ship?!”

“The same way I do all my work.”

Draven tied Trad to a vertical bed inside of the ship and walked to the cockpit, taking control of the ship. Draven prepared the ship for takeoff and took a glance back at Trad.

“You‘ve ever been to Ursoro, Trad? I‘m sure you‘re into seeing a frozen tundra.”

Trad screamed his lungs out at Draven. Cursing him out nonstop while Draven, who smiled to Trad’s words, flew the ship out of Terropia and into the depths of outer space.