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Server Story: Ark - Rise of Man

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Server Story: Ark - Rise of Man

Post by Darkscript on Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:25 pm

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                                                              ARK - RISE OF MAN
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About: This is a story that is based upon the events and players present during the current ark server cycle, as well as an overall arching story about Ark itself that could be applied to a much broader audience.
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Overview: The Earth has been destroyed and the human race teeters on the cusp of oblivion. The few humans who remain have been engineered by a race of powerful alien gods and made to confront various challenges that were once found on Earth and exist now only within contained testing arenas, called Arks. One Ark in particular is the Jurassic Ark, a primitive and savage world where the main characters find themselves at odds with beast and man alike. They will struggle to survive, uncover who they truly are as individuals and what it means to be human, as well as what it takes to escape this prison. The main characters will learn that despite humanities differences, our greatest strength as a species resides in our similarities and our unrelenting tenacity.
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Support: If you have suggestions or feedback please keep it constructive and mature. Please message me about any spelling errors you find. I am dyslexic, so expect errors. You can contact me through Discord if you have questions or personal comments: https://discord.gg/FSCsPUs Please note that this story is in no way a reflection of the server, or its owner.(Seriously bun has nothing to do with this, if you have an issue you come to me about it.)
I will not be using anyone's real name, or even their in game names, unless I have been given permission by that person to do so. However, some characters may bare resemblance to individuals without the need for consent.
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Please contact me on Discord if any of the following apply:

- You are interested in being a character in the story.
- You have suggestions or input about any character.
- You have ideas, story arches, settings, plots or other developmental world building concepts to offer.
- You would like something about your character to be changed or altered in some way.
- If you appear in the story but would like a different name to be used for your character.
- You feel that a character is not being portrayed fairly, or is being shown in a overly negative way. (please bare in mind that as the author I do reserve the right to portray characters however i see fit. Never the less, I will always be willing to hear any concerns or suggestions in regards to possible alterations.
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Rating: Young Adult - This story contains content such as mild profanities, mild sexual suggestive themes, fantasy violence and adult concepts that may not be suited for younger or less mature readers.
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Disclaimer: Ark is a trademark of Wildcard and its affiliated companies, the content depicted within this story is copyright ©️ 2018 protected and classified as intellectual property. It utilizes the Fair Use Clause in respects to all Ark related material. Any attempt to recreate, alter, copy or use any non fair use content with this story in any way whatsoever without the explicit written permission of the author, is prohibited. By continuing past this point you acknowledge that you accept and understand these terms and conditions.
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Chapter 1 - The Arrival

The tranquil, frosty early morning air of a strange and almost forgotten landscape rippled with minute traces of electromagnetic discharge. The world seemed totally at peace, at least it had in every instance prior to the anomaly. Suddenly, a surging bolt of plasma evaporated the silence as it cut through the very fabric of spacetime and thrashed the surrounding area. The beam struck a nearby Dilophosaurus, a creature that resembled a tiny 3 foot tall rex. The plasma surge gashed the unfortunate creature, severing its body in two instantly.  

The plasma surges grew more intense by the moment until a sphere of white light had completely formed. The nearby sand became glass and the closest fauna burst into flame. The portal emitted a tremendous surge of power at the instant it had fully formed. A large bang, as though a cannon had been fired, shattered the tranquility for miles around. Dimorphodons, a small winged, larged jawed meat eating bird like creature, took flight in a panic as the doorway made of light widend. A second, much larger bang occured moments after the first.The shockwave ripped sand from the auburn beaches and threw it far out into the ocean as leaves from the nearest trees were ripped clean off and scattered to the wind. Lightning poured forth from within the sphere as though the other side of the strange anomaly led directly into the heart of a thunderstorm. At the apex of its destructive power, the anomaly rapidly depleted in strength and almost instantaneously vanished.

Air rushed in to fill the void that had been created by the anomalies rapid exodus and the nearby sea surged inwards, controlled by the powerful fluctuation in the local gravity. The water removed the heat trapped within the sand and quickly cooled the glass causing it to shatter into dust sized particles no larger than the surrounding sand. The rapid change in air pressure instantly put out the fires and despite minor damages to the immediate area, it was as though the event had never occurred at all… aside from one critical detail. Something strange had been left behind.

In the center of the crater, naked and curled into a tight ball, there lie a human being… one of the last humans for that matter. No one knew where they came from, or who was seeding them across the Ark. While that remained a truly profound mystery, equal to that of the purpose of life itself, from the moment that a new survivor awoke on those sandy shores the question became irrelevant. The young adult male’s eyes peeled open for the first time that he could recall. The light was so bright that it was blinding. He squinted in agony as his pupils attempted to adjust to the overpowering rays.

The young man could suddenly feel himself, as to say that the presence of his body was now known to his mind. His head pounded, maybe from the intense light. He tried to move, but felt no strength within himself to do so. His state of disorientation was so great that he could not recall his name, or even a single detail about who or what he was. Despite this, basic cognitive functions remained online. He was aware, and perceiving the world, even if he did not yet understand it.

Almost as though someone were downloading information into him he could physically sense that his knowledge of himself was advancing at a staggering rate. He suddenly remembered how to move his arms. The notion of movement moments earlier had felt for an instant so utterly foreign and almost alien a concept, yet now, it was second nature. He pondered what had changed, but he did not have time to think deeply on the matter. Every part of his body ached. Every inch of his flesh felt overly warm and tingly with a terrible sensation that made him feel as though he wanted to puke.

Rolling himself onto his knees he crouched in the shallow crater and pressed his throbbing head into the glassy sand. The glass was too fine to have cut his delicate, fresh flesh, but it was still a bit warm. He didn't seem to care or even notice. In that position he remained for some time, until his head stopped throbbing and his limbs stopped aching. Why they eventually seemed to heal was unknown to him, but he didn’t really care about that right now either. He was focused on only one thing, and that was how much fear he felt. He had little knowledge of himself, no idea where he’d come from or how he’d gotten here and no understandings of where here, even was. The anxiety and dread would have overwhelmed him, if not for his animalistic instincts kicking into overdrive and screaming throughout his mind. “GET UP!”

He did as the impulses commanded. Acting purely on instinct he rose to his feet and stood, took a few heavy steps forwards and then collapsed again, losing consciousness before he even hit the sand.
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Chapter 2 - Not Alone

The sound of a low growl brought the unconscious young man from his deep sleep. The light once again hurt his eyes as he tried to look around and gather a sense of direction. The growl sounded again and this time startled him fully awake. He shot up like a flare and smashed his head straight into the ceiling of a wooden structure. Ignoring the pain he looked around frantically for the source of the noise. It was nowhere to be seen.

What the young man did notice is that he was now inside of what appeared to be someone’s home and that someone had clothed him. The dem was small, but roomy and made almost entirely out of wood and stone. The walls were high and completely wooden, the floor was solid stone but had carpet and hide overlaying it. There was a lit fireplace at the opposite side of the hut, and a pot of boiling meat over the fire. The young man could tell it was meat that was cooking from the delicious aroma that had completely consumed the abode. He was so hungry all of a sudden, painfully starving in fact. He felt as though he’d not eaten in half a lifetime. The hunger was so intense that for a time he set aside all other questions and attempted to move himself out of the bed he had been placed within and towards the succulent boiling stew.

Across the floor he crawled with one arm outstretched towards the pot, as though it were his last chance for salvation. Suddenly a hand reached out from behind a large wooden chest and took the young man’s arm firmly.

“If you wanted something to eat, you just needed to ask, boy,” spoke a composed, powerful and somewhat stern voice.”

The young man looked up in surprise towards the face of the man who had seized his arm. The stranger was at least a few years older than he was. He had a dark black beard that was nearly six inches in length and short black greased back hair which he wore up under a straw cowboy hat. His clothes were scuffed up, black painted hide, with a red emblem over the left breast plate. The symbol resembled a dodo bird and had an arrow running from one end to the other. His boots were thick, also black, and looked to be well broken in. He had a grim expression on his face, that of a man who had seen a great deal of hardship throughout his time and triumphed it all. Yet, he bare injuries, likely from such mentioned events. Several such scars lined his bare, hairy forearms, and one of particularly grotesque size stretched across his right cheek from the start of his chapped lips all the way back to his sun dried ears. His eyes were chestnut brown and his grin was devilishly charming.

“Names Blaze,” he stated, releasing the boy’s arm and taking to his feat. “Let me get you something to eat before you kill over,” he said walking over to the black kettle and dipping a long wooden ladle into the mix.

“You’re, like me.”

“If by like you, you mean human, then you’d be right about that, kid,” Blazed stated as he began to pour some of the mixture into a wooden bowl. He walked over to a nearby wooden table and set it down before helping the young man to his feat and placing him at the table. “Eat up son.”

The young man did not need to be told to eat, before Blaze could even offer him a spoon he had almost finished downing the bowl’s contents.

“Well my word, you were hungry. Let me just get you some more,” he said taking the bowl from the young man’s shivering hands. He refilled the bowl and placed it before him, this time giving him a spoon. Blaze sat down across from him. “I suppose you’ve got some questions you want answered right?”

The young man nodded as he hastily consumed the contents of another bowl.

“I’ve given these answers quite a few times before, so I’ve had some practice in refining my process. I’d tell you to sit down, but seeing as you’ve already got that covered you should brace yourself for some things that you ain’t gonna wanna hear. I find that most folks that are new to the Ark tend to not handle the news so well. It’s a lot to take in.”

“The Ark?”

“That’s what they call this place.”

“Who is they? The people who put us here?”

“That’s right kid. We don’t really know who they are, or what. Only that something out there has been seeding this world with life for some time now, and humans are their predominate experiment. Our scientists think that the purpose of all of this is to conduct research into human existence, and to understand the cause for why we went extinct back on Earth.”

“Extinct?.... The young man gasped, stopped eating and looked into the dead center of Blaze’s stern eyes.

“That’s right. Our race wiped itself out a long time ago. We don’t know exactly how long ago, maybe a few million years, maybe a few billion. We’re pretty sure it’s been a while in any case.”

“How?... How did something like that happen?”

“I bet most people on Earth asked that same question about the time they realized the game was over… The answer though, that ain't important, or relevant at this point son. What’s done is done. Now, we just have to accept the conditions of our present reality and make the best of it if any of us have a prayer of escaping this place alive.”

“Escaping from the Ark?”

“That’s right. Some think that there’s a way our of here, maybe even a way to a new home.”

“How many others like you and I are there?”

“Maybe a few thousand that are still alive. There were millions at one point… but almost all didn’t make it. Only the strong, brave and lucky few survive here.”

“These things, aliens, gods, whatever they are that put us here… Why are they abducting us?”

“They ain’t. According to Orlando, there hasn’t been a human being from Earth alive for eons. Everyone here, you and me too, we’re all fabrications of what was once our species.”

“Fabrications…”

“That’s right. None of us are really human, just cloned human tissues that have been reconfigured and purposed to survive in this place. Supposedly, no one survived what happened on Earth.”

“Then how did these aliens get ahold of our genetic material?”

“At this point I’m just repeating what Orlando has told me. Before the fall of Earth they took some of us away. Each time the Earth goes through a mass extinction, they come back and take some of each life form for future preservation. Orlando thinks that there are other Arks out there, probably with more people on ‘em too. Arks that are based in all sorts of time periods, with all kinds of strange creatures from Earth’s past seeded throughout. You got unlucky kid, you’re in what Orlando calls the Jurassic Ark, one of the most hostile environments conceivable,” he said leaning forwards across the table and staring the young man down. “There’s a reason that there ain’t many of us left. You would have been gone the day you arrived if I hadn’t found you passed out on the shore and brought you here.”

“I had a feeling that something to that effect might have been the case,” the young man sigh, taking all of this information in and having little other choice but to accept it. He had no memories, no recollections of anything before the moment he awoke on that beach. Everything that he had seen and experienced up to this moment suggested that what Blaze was saying was indeed accurate, and even if it was not, he had little other choice but to listen and try to understand. If Blaze wanted him dead he’d be dead already, but instead he had saved him, fed and clothed him and was now aiming to inform him… That would have to pass for sufficient evidence that they were on the same side. No matter the case, he needed his help.

“I don't recall anything about who  I am or where I came from,” the young man stated, a look of distant terror in swelling in his eyes. “What you’re telling me seems outrageous, and yet a part of me believes you, and I don’t understand why.”

“You need proof kid, look up,” Blaze said nodding towards the ceiling.

The young man looked to the point where Blaze’s eyes directed above him. He gasp with fear and threw himself backwards and onto the ground in a panicked fit. Looking back at him, clinging to the ceiling was a large fur covered beast, a purlovia. It had been the source of the sound which had awaken him in the first place.

“What the hell is that thing!” he shouted.

Blazed laughed nearly rocking back in his wooden chair. “That’s Bessy.”

“That’s, that’s a…”

“Dinosaur,? Yeah, I know. She’s harmless, you don’t need to worry.”

“You’re certain...?”

“Whelp, had her since she was born and she’s not tried to kill me yet.”

The evidence presented to the young man was inescapable. His mind could have gone into a further panic, but a part of it simply realized that would change absolutely nothing about the situation he’d been forced into. As though a calming agent had been released into his blood he felt himself coming to terms with the strangeness of this world.

“That thing on your wrist there,” Blaze said pointing to the small blue tinted gem implant in the boy’s left forearm, “That’s a neural implant, put there by whatever put us here. You may have already figured out that it tends to have a mind of its own. It regulates your bodies every function and insures that you don't get too far out of whack, mentally speaking. The first few people who were put here didn't have one…”

“What happened to them?”

“They all went nuts and killed one another.” he replied sharply.

“Lovely… You have one too?” he asked admiring the shimmering alien gemstone on his wrist, wondering if there was a way that it could somehow fall out.

Blaze raised his left arm and revealed an identical gemstone in the same location as the young man’s.

“It also contains a record of all of your thoughts, feelings, memories, experiences, genetic material and just about every other thing that makes you who you are. If you want to know the fastest way to die out here, it’s letting that thing get destroyed. Most who lose it, don’t last long. The mental stresses of this place don’t take long to get to ya and are just as dangerous as the physical threats.”

“You said it contains my memories?”

“Yeah but I know what you’re going to say next, and let me tell ya, there are no memories of what came before, because  you didn’t exist before the moment you woke up on those shores. Try wrapping your mind around somethin’ like that, eh,” he said placing a wooden pipe into his mouth and lighting up.” The purlovia, Bessy, flared her nostrils and clawed her way across the ceiling and towards the doorway leading outside. She pushed the heavy wooden reinforced door open with her snout and scampered away.

“Could at least close the door on your way out,” Blaze mumbled.

“Where did it go?”

“Oh she hates it when I smoke, thinks it’s bad for my health I suppose, but I do it to keep the old nerves calm. Seen too much shit out here to give it up and sleep soundly without... If you got anymore questions, now’s the time to ask.”

“I have so many that I can hardly think of which to ask first.”

“Yup, that’s how most people are,” Blaze nodded calmly.

“I’m not the first you've rescued… am I?”

“Nope,” he said exhaling a large plume of white vapor, which rose high into the air and dissipated rapidly.

“How long have you been in this… Ark?”

“About 4 years, give or take.”

“And I take it that you also have no memories of what came before?”

“Not a single one.”

“But you do know your name… how?”

“It’s just what I call myself. I have no idea what my real name was, I’m  rather certain I never had one. Speaking of names, we need to figure out something to call you, otherwise I’m just gonna keep callin’ you boy.”

“A name… It’s strange. I know how to speak English. I know how to walk and run. I’m pretty sure that I even know things that I’m certain I shouldn’t know. Of course, how can I even know what I do or don’t like, if I don’t know who or what I truly am.”

“Try not to spend too much time thinking about it, kid. Those are the kinds of questions that can drive a man to do crazy things in a place like this, where there are no laws other than those that we consummate.”

The young man looked to Blaze and stood up. He took to his seat once more. “Is that truly so different from the world we once originated from?”

“Perhaps not, but nothing in that world ate ya. Here, the only law is survive. Let me make something perfectly clear,” he said leaning in close. “You can take anything that you like, but just don’t take it from me,” he said reaching one hand around to pull up his hide shirt far enough to reveal a loaded revolver stuffed into his pants.

The young man nodded, acknowledging the friendly threat.

A knock came at the door. The unexpected noise made the young man jump a bit in his seat. He was rather on edge from having to process everything he’d learned. The longer he ruminated on it however, the easier accepting it seemed to become. Blaze stood up. “I’ll be back, you get yourself more to eat and wait inside.”
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Chapter 3 - The Merchant King

The door to Blaze’s hut cracked open. A sliver of Blaze’s face shown through to the outside world. Standing on the other side of the door was the merchant Brawn. He was tall, with pale skin and a strongly pronounced square chin. He had broad, powerful shoulders and notably large, soot covered hands. His windswept hair and beard were coal black, and he had goggles pushed up on his forehead, holding back the unruly mess. His attire was that of a man who traveled frequently and far. He wore a mixture of furs and cloth under a dirt stained grey tinted cloth robe. In one hand he held a whip, and in the other a piece of parchment. A masterfully crafted, shimmering silver axe was tethered to his right hip.

“You’re two hours early Brawn,” Blaze grunted.

“I didn’t really have much choice. The caravan I had to lead from Far’s peak last week got diverted and I was forced to take a much longer route. It was going to take so much longer than I’d anticipated originally that I had to ask my apprentice to complete the journey without me whilst I diverted towards the Southern shores to randevu with the Eastern Trading Company.”

“Well better early then late I suppose,” Blaze said swinging the door wide open and granting him passage. “You’ll notice that I have company.”

“I see that,” Brawn exclaimed, his eyes drawn instantly to the unfamiliar figure sitting at the table across the way.

“When did he arrive?” Brawn inquired, removing his heavy cloak and setting it aside near the doorway as Blaze shut the door behind him.

“Just this morning, probably a few hours before I found him. He was passed out, about to get eaten by some Dilos, so I scooped him up and brought him here.”

Brawn flashed Blaze with a look of caution. “How much does he know?”

“Oh not much, just the basics.”

“Hum… he seems to be handling it reasonably well. His implant is functioning, that is a  good sign. Do you have a name?” he asked looking to the young man for a response.

“Not one that I can recall,” he replied, looking once more over the implant in his arm with great curiosity.

“I wouldn't worry about that. None of us had names when we arrived. We each must find our own. Until then, for simplicity's sake, I think that we will simply address you by your number.”

“My number?”

“Yes," said Brawn, as he walked over and tapped on the young man’s gemstone. It lit up,  flashing bright blue, and then emitted a holographic number: 'Specimen 324a.'

“What does that sequence mean?”

“It’s your identification, assigned by the creatures that imprisoned us here as their way of keeping track of us more efficiently. Yours is interesting though.”

“How so?”

“Normally this number part corresponds to how many survivors exist in total on at the very least, this Ark. We don’t see many numbers as low as yours these days. Almost all of the earliest survivors are dead by now.”

“That’s reassuring.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to state it so bluntly, but this is odd indeed. My number for instance is in the thousands. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen or heard of a survivor with such a low numeric value followed by an 'a' classification existing on this Ark within the last 2 or more years at least.”

“Guess I should have checked his number,” Blaze shrugged.

“See now I’m curious as to why they would send someone like you down here so long after your group’s original deployment.”

“There is one person alive who we know was from that same cluster,” Blaze suggested.

“I’m not taking him to see 'her' until we are certain that he can be trusted.”

“Trusted?... I’m human… Is that not enough?” the young man pleaded.

“Oh that don’t mean much around these parts,” Blaze chuckled grimly. “”It’s the humans more so then the monsters that you’ve got to watch out for. You see, the same nature that led people to destroy themselves back on Earth, still exists in the ones that are here on this Ark. Regrettably, they didn’t breed that out of us. Beasts are predictable, they want to kill and eat you, most of em at least… but people, they pretend to be your friend first.”

Brawn nodded. “It’s important that you learn quickly who you can trust, and who you need to avoid.

“What about the two of you? Where do you place yourselves on that scale?”

“Brawn you can trust with you life,” stated Blaze, “Me on the other hand, well we can get along fine so long as you don’t cross me or get in my way.”

“Blaze and I are part of what is known as The Alliance. It’s a group of Survivors who consider ourselves to be on the right side of moral standings and ethics. I am a trader and roaming merchant, as well as the King of the Western peninsula.”

“A King?” 324 inquired.

“That’s correct. You may call me Brawn. I am humbly at your service,” he said taking a bow.

“If you are a King, why is it that you are wearing such clothing and out and about alone, acting in the place of a trader? Should you not be under guard, and dawned with the finest of jewels, sitting on high over your loyal subjects from within a castle?”

“He does have a castle,” Blaze remarked.

“I am not one to boast of my position. I was appointed King by the subjects of the land I oversee some time ago. I could not turn them down, for they needed leadership, and yet, I could not relinquish my true passion as an explorer and entrepreneur. I do not want those whom I encounter upon my travel to treat me any differently than they would the man whom I appear to be at first glance.”

“Nobel, but is that wise, if what you've told me about less than moral people existing alongside the others is accurate?”

“Well I don’t travel completely unarmed. I have my mammoths.”

“Why do you trust me enough to tell me these things? You’ve only known me for a few minutes and yet you divulge such import information.”

“I can tell you are trustworthy.”

“But we’ve spoken only minutes.”

Brawn smiled warmly. “When you have met as many men as I, you pick up on a few things. Through the exchange of words, one can learn much about the nature of another. The tone of voice, the selection of words, the order and intensity used in presentation, the signs that he unknowingly gives off with his body posture and the movement of his face, the way that his eyes shift and were they tend to gravitate towards... the very aurora that a man gives off speaks far more truth than one might expect.”

“If you say you trust the kid, I’ll take your word for it,” Blaze said crashing down into his chair. “You trust him enough to read what’s written on the piece of paper you’ve got in yer hand there?” he asked, eying the parchment.”

“He will find out for himself, one way or another.”

“Then let’s hear it.”

Brawn stretched apart the two ends of rolled parchment so that the paper formed a single plane. Holding it open with both hands before his eyes he read what had been written as though presenting it to a large crowd of possible customers. He spoke in this manner out of habit perhaps.

“Dear recipient. If this note has come to be in your possession then you have been targeted. Leave now, or we will wipe you from the face of this Ark. You have 72 hours to comply... Have a nice day.”

“That Raya’s crew talkin’?” Blaze mumbled.

“No, I don’t believe that it is. This threat is sophisticated beyond what I would expect from the likes of her and her ilk.”

“Was that targeted towards you?” asked 243. All of this was knew to him. He felt as though he were an infant child thrown suddenly into a reality which he was not adequately prepared to accept or understand.

“No. I was given this by a small tribe as I passed through their village on my way to deliver my shipment. They wanted me to be aware of the threat, and to pass it on to, ‘her.’”

“Why am I gettin’ the feeling that you’re not just here to sell me furs?” Blaze groaned, puffing on his pipe.

“You know me too well, old friend. I was hoping that you might be interested in returning to the mainland of the Western shores with me. ‘She’ has issued a warning that we should all be prepared to face the rising tide.”

“These bandits got everyone running scared because of a few threatening letters?”

“It’s not just one tribe that’s received a copy of this threat,” Brawn said handing the parchment to Blaze. “Look at the signature at the bottom.”

“This is from the BloodStone guild,” Blaze stated, eyeing the signature. “They are not supposed to be active in any kind of war mongering. Ain’t this some kind of violation of the terms for peace we’ve got between us?”

“Exactly.”

Blaze leaned back in his chair, tilted his hat downwards a bit and took a deep whiff from the pipe. He held it in for several seconds and then exhaled, spraying the room with smoke. Through the mist his eyes flashed from beyond the shadow of his hat as he drew his gaze across them both. “Then I guess war is unavoidable, ain’t it?”

“It would seem so,” Brawn sighed.

“You think that Raya has anything to do with motivatin' our friends at Bloodstone to make this kind of move against the Alliance and its outlying collaborators?”

“It’s certainly not the kind of act that I would expect to be bellow someone like her, though as I stated before, even if that were so, I do not think that she is the one who has masterminded this uprising. The Bloodstones would not act as her puppet and powerful as she is, she would not dare attempt to control them with threats. Either she has offered them something they cannot refuse, or someone of greater authority is behind this rising tide.”

“Who are the Bloodstones? Who is Raya ” 243 asked, not really understanding anything about what was being spoken of.

“Raya is the leader of a tribe of commonly less than moral men,” Brawn explained.

“The Bloodstones we know little of other then that they are highly aggressive and dangerous group of organized outlaws,” Blaze replied sternly. “They take and do whatever they want, with little to no consideration for the greater good of man. They, and Raya’s coalition are by far two of the largest threats to the survival of our species that we currently face.”

“If there are so few humans left, why are all of you fighting? What are you even fighting about?”

"Power, mostly," replied Brawn.

“Because kid, it’s in our nature to destroy ourselves. Same reason we wiped out life of Earth... People don’t ever learn."

This notion was one that 243 could understand clearly, but was unwilling to accept. The concept that human beings would fight and kill one another, while faced with the situation that they currently reside within seemed inconceivably arrogant. A part of him that he was unfamiliar with knew that what Blaze had said was true, even if he did not wish to endorse it on any conscious level.

“It’s very possible that Raya and her ilk are in alliance with Bloodstone and moving to collect the other tribes and small civilizations that may support them either out of choice or fear,” Brawn continued. “I’ve talked to a good few people along the way here, most are rather concerned about what the immediate future may hold.”

“Do you think that this act is a result of our enemies learning about…” Blaze stopped and glared at 243. “... the doorway?”

“It’s possible that they somehow uncovered that information. Spies are everywhere these days. It’s hard to know where anyone really stands, or what they stand for.”

Blaze nodded. “If the situation is as serious as  you and the Alliance believe, I guess I ain’t got no choice but to help y'all out. I ain’t no fool who thinks he can outlast or outrun the shift in the changing winds. If war is what those bastards want… war is what their gonna get!”

“‘Her’ plan is to shut it down quickly, before this situation spirals out of control. We risk losing the artifact if we do not act now.”

“Artifact?” asked 243.

“Sorry kid, not something we can tell you about until we know exactly where your moral obligations fall.”

“I understand,” he replied, nodding softly.

“I actually have a map that was given to me by one of our scouts. It outlines Bloodstones most recent movement patterns. Perhaps you can take a look at it Blaze, and tell me if you are able to make sense of it."

"Sure. Where's it at?"

"It’s outside in a storage crate. I'll get it in a moment but first I wanted to...”

Brawn was interrupted by the sudden outcry of a Mammoth and a heavy thunderous stopping frenzy the likes of which shook the foundations of the small hut. Blaze sprung to his feet so quickly that the chair he’d been sitting in practically flew across the room. Brawn rushed to the nearest window and peered outside to see if he could get a look at what caused the commotion.

Blaze rushed over to a nearby wooden cabinet and from within drew a long, slender rifle. “You able to see what spooked those Mammoths?”

Brawn looked back at the two men, “I think that we might have unwanted company.”
........................................................................................................................................

Chapter 4 - Hide and Seek

“What do you see?” asked 243.

“Nothing, but the Mammoths would not be acting like this if that were truly the case,” replied Brawn.

“Think there’s a pack of Troodons hidin’ in the nearby brush that may have spooked em?” suggested Blaze, coming up beside Brawn and looking out the same window.

There was no sign of what had sparked the commotion. The surrounding grasslands were silent from where they met the shallow forest on one side, to where the narrow beaches kissed the shore. Nothing was out of the ordinary and yet the tamed beasts continued to wail and stomp around in a panicked nature.

“Are you going to stop them?” 243 asked, referring to the Mammoths.

“You don't want to get anywhere near those guys when they are spooked like that. They might not take the time to recognize friend from foe. I don’t see anything out there, so the best thing we can do for now is wait until they calm down and continue to keep an eye on things.”

Blaze pulled a small spyglass from his pocket and raised it to one eye. He scoped the landscape hoping to spot something that their unaided eyes had overlooked. “I’m not seein’ anything that shouldn’t be there.”

“You don’t think that Bessy was the one that started this?” asked 243.

“No, Brawn’s Mammoths are familiarized with old Bess.”

243 joined the men in searching. They moved from one window to the next, seeking anything out of place. After a few minutes the Mammoths calmed down and the three men emerged from the humble abode to get a closer look. Brawn walked over to the startled beasts and pet them on their trunks. “There, there.” His voice seemed to put a spell over them, freeing them from any remaining tension.

There was a swift and unusually strong gust of wind that spurred up the grass and shook the trees. It only lasted for a few moments and then quickly died down again.
“Strong gust,” stated 243.

“Yeah,” Blaze nodded, clearly focused on something else. He was peering into the distance at what looked to be a large pile of rocks about 400 yards off from their current position. He put his spyglass on the target.

“Do you see something?” Brawn asked, still keeping a close eye on the other two men as well as the surroundings.

“I thought I saw something jump back behind those rocks over yonder.”

“Want to investigate?”

Blaze nodded and started in that direction. “Come with me, kid,” he said tossing the spyglass to 243, who caught it despite the lack of a proper warning.

“Good reflexes. Seems that you’ve got your strength back, or at least enough to move about normally.”

I’m surprised at how much better I feel now that I’ve had a bit of rest and some food. No matter how outlandish the situation, those two things tend to bring a certain degree of welcome familiarity,” 243 stated as he followed behind Blaze, who had his rifle at the ready. “What do you want me to do with this?” he asked toying with the spyglass.

“Tell me if you see anything.”

“What should I be looking for?”

“Anything that moves that ain’t you or I.”

243 used the sight enhancing device to scope the rocks ahead of them as they approached. He also looked around the surrounding area and nearby forest line. There were a few small bird like creature, Dodos, huddled around a large fruit bush. 243 did not perceive them to be a threat despite not knowing what they were. They looked harmless to him, like fatter taller versions of a chicken.

“What kind of creatures exist in this world?”

“All kinds, mostly Dinosaurs aside from the occasional monstrosity.”

“They are not really real though, are they? I mean they could not possibly be from Earth if the time scale you’ve provided me is accurate for how long ago humans went extinct.”

“Technically neither you or I are real if you think about it. We’re just recreations of what’s now long gone.”

“I see. That should bother me more then it does. All of this should. Why am I finding all of this increasingly easy to accept?”

“Probably the work of your implant… Now hush up and stay focused!” he commanded, having gone through a similar conversation sequence countless times.

When the two got within one hundred feet of the rock outcropping Blaze raised his rifle to a firing position and moved slowly around the back side from the left. 243 stayed close on his rear. Coming around the corner Blaze was able to make out the shadow of something against the face of an adjacent rock. He looked back at 243 and put one finger over his lips. Slowly they approached, trying as hard as possible to not make a sound.

A thin tail came into Blaze’s view and could be seen swinging back and forth. The rest of the creature was still concealed behind a large rock. Blaze knew that it could be a multitude of things, but was certain that it was neither human nor a large carnivore. He quietly crept around to get a better angle on the beast. Without being detected he was able to get a full view on a large male raptor. He knew it was male because its coloring was much more vivid than that of a female.

The Raptor did not seem to be doing much of anything. It was just standing there, facing the rocks, hardly moving at all, but not resting either. Its eyes were open but unaware of their presence. Blaze suspected that this creature was not wild. Only a raptor bred in captivity would be this unobservant. He now directed his focus towards the location of its rider. He turned back to 243, who to his surprise was on the ground. Standing over him was a cloaked figure, holding a fabricated pistol to the back of his head.

The stranger looked at Blaze from behind his black cloak. “Lower your weapon.”

Blaze could tell by their voice that the stranger was an adult male, but not someone whom he recognized at first sight. That he had advanced weaponry meant he was no new arrival either. His clothing was strange and unfamiliar. It gave no indication that he was a part of any existing bandit group that Blaze was familiar with.

“You had one job, son,” Blaze groaned, lowering his weapon. “What do you want? Don’t you know this is Alliance territory?”

“That’s why I’m here,” the man stated, pulling his hood down with his free hand and revealing his face.
........................................................................................................................................


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Darkscript
Dodo Destroyer
Dodo Destroyer

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