Among the group, you see childlike girls with horns wielding weapons that look far too large for their bodies with apparent ease. Goblins or orcs, you think. You also see what looks like a bear-girl, some lizard-girls with old looking swords, a tall blue oni with two horns jutting from her forehead, some wolf-girls, an elf with a bow, and a centaur with a spear. While their armor and weapons look piecemeal at best, you really don’t like the idea of being hit by any of those large clubs. Leading them all is a… ugh what were they called again, a manticore?
The group mills about for a bit, before the oni and the manticore begin directing the others and lead them in the direction of the portal. Although you appreciate the break in the monotony of keeping watch, you aren’t sure if you like this development. Either way, this is definitely something you should keep an eye on.
Hastily packing your things and grabbing your rifle, you slide your way down to the lower branches of the tree and jump off, landing in a roll. You smoothly transition from the roll into a crouch, advancing through the forest in the direction of the portal as fast as possible while still maintaining cover.
You occasionally stop to cautiously peek from cover at the procession of monster girls. Although they’re taking a simpler route to the portal, they don’t seem to be in a particular hurry and you end up with quite a lead on them. You search around and find a tall tree that looks like it’d be a good vantage point roughly a kilometer away from the portal, to try and make sure they don’t notice you.
You swiftly clamber as high up the tree as possible. You look at the fire-selector on your rifle and notice that it has the options [Saftey], [Railgun], and [Laser]. You switch the selector to [ranged combat], and hear the click of a round being chambered. Even though you know better than to break your cover, you can’t help but be uneasy about the possibility of them damaging the portal. If worst came to worst… well you’d be ready.
You take out the rifle’s magazine and count the number of bullets in it. They appear to be made of solid metal and seem to be quite heavy, probably to help ensure accuracy over long distances. The magazine’s capacity appears to be ten bullets, and it looks like one has been loaded into your gun already. You slide the magazine back in and take a deep breath, steeling yourself as you go back to watching the party of monster girls.
The group reaches the portal a couple of minutes after you resume your watch. Most of the group just awkwardly stands a distance from the portal while the horned blue girl and lion-thing approach it. They carefully circle it for a while, thoroughly looking it over before they go back to the others. They seem to be discussing something, and things quickly grow heated between the manticore and the oni.
The blue oni seems to calm herself, crossing her arms and saying something while nodding back in the direction of the village. The manticore, on the other hand, doesn’t look like she’s having any of it, grabbing a club from one of the childlike girls. She fumbles it with her meaty paws and drops it, which hardly seems to improve her mood. She stomps her paw (or should you call it a foot? Who knows with these creatures) and angrily points at the portal.
The arguing resume between them, and you see the rest of the group shift uneasily and begin to heft their weapons, most of them nodding at whatever the manticore is saying. You glare and the sky and grumble to yourself. Gott, why must everything be so difficult? You’re at a loss for what to do, but you know that you’d better decide fast.
You take out one of the antimatter grenades and consider it, weighing it in your hand. It looks like a small baton with caps on the top and bottom, which jut out just above the top and bottom of your fist. The problem is that you only have three of these grenades, compared to your thirty bullets, and you don’t even know if they’d make a good distraction at a distance of one kilometer.
You slide your grenade back into its holster. A warning shot should probably do it, but only if necessary. You don’t like the idea of potentially giving away your position, and you aren’t sure if this rifle has a built-in suppressor or not. You look back into your scope just in time to see the manticore brush off her taller blue companion and pick up the club she dropped in both hands. She advances towards the portal, obviously winding up to strike.
You draw in a slight breath as you empty your mind, focusing and letting that familiar moment of clarity come over you while you take careful aim. With a nearly inaudible hiss, you release your breath and pull the trigger. The result is a sharp, crackling, roar that makes it abundantly clear that this weapon isn’t suppressed whatsoever. The way some of the parts along the rifle shift when you take the shot makes it pretty obvious that it’s got some recoil-dampening technology, but you still feel the kick bruising your shoulder even through your armor.
You blink in the heat radiating from your rifle as your shot blows a literal crater in the spot between the leonine woman’s feet. Unf. You also can’t help but snicker to yourself as you see her jump when bits of dirt and debris pelt her nether-regions, making her drop her borrowed club. Heh, that’s what she gets for walking around in an armored skirt-thing anyway. Your laughter is short-lived, though, as you track her with your scope and see her take to the air with her wings, glaring towards your position with teary eyes and clutching her bruised lady-parts. Scheiße.
Welp, no time for fancy maneuvers now. You jump from the tree and disperse your impact with a roll, coming up sprinting. First things first, you need to get away from your position. You sprint south through the forest, in roughly the same direction as the portal. In just a few minutes, you find yourself by the dip among the trees where you first hid from the wolf-girls. You pause to catch your breath and decide your next course of action.
You look above you and try to see if the flying manticore is anywhere to be seen, but the trees obscure your vision. You curse as you hear shouting in the distance, as it sounds like they’ve entered the forest. You glance towards the portal and see the centaur and elf nervously standing by it. Well, at least they weren’t bashing it with blunt objects. You suppose you have some time before the rest of the group has the chance to pick up your trail, but you need to think of a course of action quickly. You just pray that your scent is sufficiently covered.
You have confidence in your ability to avoid capture. Hell, you’ve run rings around K9 search units plenty of times before. This, however, is different. These aren’t a bunch people with German Shepherds, no, these people inherently have all the traits of animals themselves. Not only can they track your scent, they can communicate with each other and probably even figure out strategies and patterns. And thanks to the pissed-off manticore, they even have eyes in the sky now as well.
Taking all of this into consideration, you decide there’s nothing for it but to try and find a source of water, or maybe even a river. Regardless of how sharp their senses are, there’s virtually no way for them to catch you if you find some, especially with their current numbers and the level of training that they’ve displayed. You turn and start working your way in the opposite direction of the portal, deeper into the forest.
You keep up a good pace, but take care not to leave an obvious trail and try to avoid shrubbery and any damp-looking spots, to reduce your scent-trail. Every now and again, when trees are close enough together, you climb up one and begin jumping from one tree to the next until you’re forced to take to the ground again. Hopefully, it’ll confuse them or at least slow them down a bit. You continue onward for about half an hour, but find no indicators of water nearby or even any mud patches.
You’d rather not get too far from the portal, so you decide to stop and find a hiding place. You’re starting to worry a little, and you’re going to have to change tactics. From your training, you know that a forest is one of the worst places to be if you’re being tracked, especially in the summer. Normally you could just maintain your lead, or even eventually outpace your pursuers, but your extraction can’t be more than a few hours away
So, new plan. The portal is your highest priority, that much is obvious. Getting to it, though… that won’t be a simple matter. You know a trick that you’ve used against a few K-9 units, but there’s no way it’d work against these creatures… would it? Though they do seem less advanced than you and have so many things in common with animals… Scheiße, it just might work!
You scrabble to take off your armor plates as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the clasps and locking mechanisms seem to have been made for the wearer to be able to equip and unequip the armor by themselves, though it still takes you a couple of minutes to take off your torso armor. You place it to the side and zip open your protective bodysuit, pulling down the underwear you’re wearing and whipping out your “other” rifle.
Since you haven’t relieved yourself since this morning, before you even came to this world, you’re able to amply mark trees located in several completely different directions. When you combine this with fake trails you make by passing the trees and doubling back along the same path, as well as climbing up some of the trees and hopping from one to the next, you end up with what is undoubtedly a complex web of fake trails and dead-ends.
You re-equip your armor and decide to try and look for some more plants to cover your scent, but you freeze when you hear someone shout “This way!” alarmingly close by. You suddenly realize that you just spent half an hour creating fake pee-trails while you had pursuers hot on your tail. Regardless of whatever happens, you resolve to never tell anyone about this.
You scramble into the nearest tree, the grip on your boots proving their worth as they help you swiftly climb it. You find a sturdy branch and leap towards the right/south side of the trail that your pursuers are following. You try to progress as quickly as you can, but it’s still pretty slow going since you don’t want to make too much noise or fall out of a tree.
You make it about fifty meters before pausing and looking behind you. You see a flicker of movement from back by where your fake pee-trails are. Hopefully, it’ll distract them somewhat, though you have no doubt that they must be confused, at least on a certain level. You crouch and take out your compass, to use it to help keep you on track. You begin to trot back towards the portal, taking extra care to be as silent as possible. You hear what sounds like a muffled “what the fuck” far behind you.
You flit through the forest, an occasional faint rustle the only indicator that you’re even passing through. Occasionally you pause a moment to listen for pursuers. It’s uncertain how long your piss-spots will distract them. If your understanding of biology is correct, though, their senses shouldn’t be quite on par with a tracking animal’s, even if they’re still obviously far superior to yours.
Checking your compass, you see that you’re still on track heading east, towards the portal. You press on and ten minutes later you’re hunkered down by the tree line, watching your objective. It’s now dusk, and the pair of monster girls are still by the portal, which is located a bit to your left, talking animatedly. You tsk disapprovingly to yourself at their lack of alertness; they’re so distracted by their conversation that they aren’t paying attention to their surroundings whatsoever.
This presents you with an opportunity, though, and you grin to yourself as a plan begins to form in your mind. The fact that the portal is on a small hill might actually allow you to circle around to the side and hide on the part of the hill opposite to the centaur and elf, while you wait for the portal to activate. However, it’d be extremely risky, and you weren’t confident in your ability to escape without harming any of these girls…
You blink, shaking these defeatist thoughts out of your head. You have faith in your countrymen, and they are likewise trusting you to carry out your mission as a son of Deutschland. Tightening your grip on your rifle, you settle into a low crawl and begin cautiously approaching the hill – and your goal perched atop it.
The pair of monster-women are standing, happily chatting, by the north side of the hill while you approach it from the southwest. The centaur is closest, her back facing you, while the elf is somewhat hidden from view, thanks to the hill and her companion’s size. Even so, this first stretch, the first thirty to fifty meters outside the tree line, is going to be the most dangerous. If one of them so much as glances in your direction, you’ll be a sitting duck.
At least it’s dusk now, the dark colors of your armor blending in with the shadows. It’s little comfort, though, and you feel cold sweat running down your back as you slowly inch forward, freezing whenever either of the women move. Your progress is painstakingly slow, and you feel vulnerable and exposed in the open like this. Your heart is hammering in your chest, and you can’t help but sigh in relief as you pass the fifty-meter mark, some of the tension draining out of you.
With only 150 meters left and the most difficult stretch already finished, you start moving more quickly towards the portal. The gap between you and the hill quickly closes, and eventually there’re only a couple meters left until you reach your goal. You’re so close that you can make out details of the centaur’s clothes: you could probably almost reach out and touch her.
A sudden yell makes you jolt, reflexively readying your rifle as adrenaline floods your body. Your shock quickly turns to relief, however, as you realize that it was just the elf shouting at her equestrian companion for some reason. “You stuck your finger in THERE?! But that’s so dirty! Wh-why would you even do that?” The centaur chuckles, evidently enjoying her friend’s discomfort.
“Well it makes a lot more come out, and besides, it’s not like he didn’t enjoy it. You’ll understand one day… if you ever manage to find yourself a Aman, that is.”
You hear indignant sputtering from the elf as the centaur heartily laughs. Shaking your head to yourself, you glare at them and crawl to the relative safety of your side of the hill. Still, you can’t help but listen as the centaur continues to tease her friend and you find yourself grinning at their antics, despite yourself. It reminds you of the easy banter of your squad.
A little time passes, and you find yourself anxiously glancing at the sky. Judging by the amount of time you’ve been here and the position of the sun, you guess that it’s 20:00 o’ clock. Considering that you left at almost 12:00 sharp, the portal should activate any minute now. Ignoring the worry in the back of your head, you begin edging up the hill.
Since it’ll only be open for a few seconds, you want to be ready to sprint through once the portal opens. You get as close as you dare and position yourself. Time drags on and despite your best efforts, you feel panic beginning to stir inside you. Something then flickers in the periphery of your eye, and you look at the seemingly inert portal. Just as you’re convinced it was a trick of the light, you see yet another flash along the portal’s edge.
Symbols blink to life along its rim as a familiar, eerie hum begins emanating from it; gradually growing louder. You hear panicked cursing from the centaur before she gallops straight for the forest, the elf on her back. The elf glances back at the portal with a pale, panic-stricken expression and her gaze shifts to you, your eyes locking for a moment. You see her turn and shout at her companion, who just keeps running towards the forest.
You shift your attention back to the portal. The humming is getting louder and you feel it vibrating unpleasantly in your bones like the first time, but something is different now. The symbols appear to be sputtering, their glow erratically brightening and dimming as the pitch of the humming fluctuates. However, all doubts and worries are pushed aside, as what appears to be a shimmering membrane begins to form inside the portal.
You release your breath in a hiss, feeling your muscles bunch beneath you as they drive you towards the ethereal gate. As you sprint forward, you promise yourself that the first chance you get you’ll take a day off and do nothing but scheißepost and watch movies. Maybe you’ll get some currywurst and sauerkraut too, it’s been a while.
You take the final few steps, the elation of victory filling you as you reach out towards the quicksilver gateway inside the portal. You feel your fingertips brush against whatever it is, and you’re overcome with a sensation of weightlessness. You feel something draw you towards the portal, and for a moment the world, the portal and even time seems to stop.
A deafening roar, audible even through your noise-canceling helmet, and a concussive impact fill your world, as the portal detonates right in front of you. You’re launched off the hill and slam into the ground, stunned. You lay there and gasp for breath, looking up at the ruins of the portal. It’s all over now, isn’t it? There’s no way to get back. Maybe you should just surrender to the darkness fading your vision… you feel so very, very tired after all….
A memory flits through your head, one of your father, lecturing you. [Now listen here [Jawholanon], the only true defeat is giving up. The degenerates, the fools who wish to see you fail? It’s what they want. You can do anything, so long as the possibility is there. Just don’t. Give. Up.] Your eyes snap open, and you roll to your side, groaning. As you recall, your dad had also gone off on a tangent after that point, warning you about the dangers of letting women sink their claws into you, but you don’t really need to remember that part.
You see your rifle lying a couple of meters away, and you drag yourself towards it. It appears to be unharmed, and you can’t help but chuckle. That’s Deutsch technologie for you. You pick it up and force yourself to your feet, your body aching in protest. Considering that you just survived a blast, the armor must be every bit as good as you were told. Despite being a little dizzy, you actually appear to be completely uninjured, apart from some heavy bruising.
Suddenly remembering that you’re not alone, you turn towards the forest. The whole party of monster girls that you saw earlier are standing by the forest’s edge, and they’re all staring at you. Scheiße. You notice one of the wolf-girls kneeling by the ground, sniffing. She stands up and turns to the rather arch manticore, pointing at you. Double Scheiße. The group cautiously begins to approach you, with the blue oni and incensed manticore in the lead.
Considering your options it looks like you have two choices: negotiating, or negotiating – with force. So first things first, you decide to get to a more defensible position and hobble over to the hill. You position yourself behind some of the still-smoking rubble and raise a hand at the approaching party, shouting “AUFHALTEND, MONSTERMENSCH”.
They seem to hesitate a little, before continuing their approach. You decide to take a more aggressive stance, standing up and aiming your rifle at them. You channel your inner “drill sergeant”, as the Americans say, and roar “ICH BIN BEREIT MEINE WAFFE ZU BENUTZEN”. They stop at this, and the girls shift a little uneasily, clutching their weapons to themselves.
The two leaders whisper a bit, and the horned blue one steps forward, arms spread out in a non-threatening fashion. She shouts “Hello! We don’t mean you any harm, we just have some questions. Can you speak Common? May we approach?” You contemplate how you should react. They obviously can’t speak glorious Deutsch, and communication will be impossible if you don’t start speaking English. There might be some benefits to hiding the fact that you understand them, but…
You unconsciously tighten your grip on your gun. Information on this new world would probably be useful for survival, but more importantly, there may be other portals. A way to get home, to complete your mission. You’re snapped out of your reverie as the tall blue woman seems to try repeating herself in what you recognize as Japanese. How should you proceed?
Ah-hah! The fact that the horned lady speaks Japanese might allow you to address her without revealing your fluency in “Common”… Now let’s see, how did characters introduce themselves in Japanese animations? You clear your throat and thrust a hand in the air in greeting, shouting back “Ohio! [Jawholanon] desu! Atashi wa…” you sputter and stop. What is an obergefreiter even called in Japanese? And mein gott, you have no idea how to even begin to say your serial number in their language.
You awkwardly stand there and slowly retract your arm. The silence is deafening, and you’re pretty sure you hear one of the monster-women cough. A ration bar falls out of your pocket, which is excellent timing really since you’re quite hungry. You sigh and pick it up, placing it back in where it came from. Let’s try this again.
You lower your rifle to a more relaxed stance and call out in English/Common “My name is [Jawholanon], of zee Neue Wehrmacht. My rank is Obergefreiter, membership number HSBB#3402. Who are you, and vould you be so kind as to tell me vere I am and vy you vere pursuing me?”
For some reason, one of the girls in the group starts giggling, before being shushed by the others. What could possibly be funny in a situation such as this? Their blue spokesperson shouts back “I am Aoi, and my friend and I, Tabitha here,” she gestures towards the lion-woman creature “were told to take some of our militia and investigate a loud sound that seemed to come from the artifact earlier, in addition to the presence of a strange scent discovered in the forest near the artifact. As to where you are, you’re right by Talmin, a frontier town and our home, near the border between the Monster Realm and the Vardic Empire.”
The tall blue woman lowers her arms, before continuing. “Speaking at a distance like this is difficult. May I come a little closer in order to speak with you?” You consider her request. Honestly, screaming at each other from over a hundred meters away is getting rather tiresome. Besides, how much of a threat can a single person be to you, with your training and equipment?
She seems to be earnest, and more importanly, she seems to be unarmed. It shouldn’t be a problem to let her come a little closer, so you tell her “Zis vill be acceptable, but only you may come.” She begins to approach you, and though the rest of her group shift uneasily, they don’t move from their spot.
Once the blue oni gets within roughly twenty meters of you, you instruct her to halt and take the opportunity to say “Please do not cross zis line, it is for my protection as I’m sure you understand.” She gives you an inquisitive look, then nods.
Since she seems to be waiting for you to say something first, you ask her “Tell me, are zere more of zese artifacts? What do you know about zem? Who is your leader? And tell me more about zis Vardic Empire and Monster Realm. Also, you never really answered precisely vy you vere chasing me.” She seems a little nonplussed, and replies “That’s kind of a lot to cover, though I suppose I can try to summarize.”
She begins ticking off fingers as she answers your question. “As far as these artifacts are concerned, I remember there being one in the capital of Zipangu, where I’m from. Rymgrand, the kingdom of the undead, might have one too just because they seem to have everything. I don’t really know anything about the artifacts themselves, though. As for my leader, I guess that’d be the mayor although we’re subjects of the Monster Lady of the Realm. The Realm consists of all areas under the control of mamono on our continent, and the Monster Lady serves as something of a military, political and spiritual leader for everyone in the Realm. The Vardic Empire is a collection of almost every human country or state in the world and has a bad history with the Realm. We’re currently at peace, but there’re rumors that it won’t last for a number of reasons.”
Aoi sighs and crosses her arms. “As for why we were chasing you, isn’t it obvious? Something shot the ground under Tabitha and bruised some… sensitive areas. The spot where we thought the culprit was located was covered with your scent, or so I’m told.” She sighs “It doesn’t help that manticores are especially sensitive down there, either. I wanted to head back to the village and try to get some more people, but I can see why Tabitha wasn’t thinking straight.”
Aoi seems to size you up for a moment, before gesturing towards the village. “Would you like to come to our village? The mayor can undoubtedly answer your questions more thoroughly than I, and I’m sure she’d like to ask you a couple things too. The artifact wasn’t particularly important to us, but people are pretty spooked by what’s been going on, an explanation would help.”48541 Views