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The first of the creatures to emerge from shadow was monstrous, its visage only enhanced by the failing lighting of the ship. Its stature was three times that of its infant brethren. This was the Xenomorph that Zarack had come to hunt. A fully-grown warrior. Its maw drooled as it poised for the attack, its claws and bladed tail ready to strike. It raised its head and let out another piercing screech followed by a long hiss, a command to its lurking kin. A swarm of creatures burst from vents above and gratings below, surrounding the Yautja on all sides.

In response, the Reaper unleashed a volley of shots from his plasma caster into the Xenomorph behind Tor. The berserker’s eyes widened, sure that the shots were meant for him as super-heated plasma skimmed his face. Three of the creatures burst into displays of gore and ichor.

“Don’t die on me yet, young blood. I’m not done with you.” Zarack roared over the sounds of battle.

Tor let out a crazed battle cry and activated his duel wrist gauntlets, long serrated blades extending from them both. Spinning in a powerful wide arc, the berserker decapitated a further two of the incoming creatures. Acid blood rained on the predator’s flesh, but the burns only seemed to enrage him further. Seeing that Tor could more than handle himself, Zarack turned his intentions to the threat that was upon himself. Engaging his wrist gauntlet, he unleashed its full salvo of vorpal darts at the closest creature. Multiple blades passed through the Xenomorph’s torso, rending gaping wounds in their wake. Blood steamed, and the creature slumped to the floor, lifeless. A second creature leapt at the Reaper, but his sights were already upon it. Zarack launched a razor net, catching the Xenomorph in the air. It screamed and flailed in a futile attempt to escape, as the razer net closed, cutting it into small gridded pieces. The Reaper drew his combi spear and extended his wrist blades. In a flurry of expert strikes and parries, the remaining infant Xenomorph lay slain around him. In the focus of battle, no such creature was a match for the experienced Yautja.

The sounds of battle still resounded from behind the reaper, as Tor battled with the Xenomorph warrior. They clashed fist and claw, tail and blade. Tor had suffered deep gouges to his torso, and his flesh bubbled from the creature’s acidic blood, but still fought on as crazed as before. The berserker used his titanic strength to slam the creature into walls and floors while impaling it with thrusts of his feral blades, but the warrior did not relent. The Reaper looked on as the young Yautja struggled. Zarack had a choice to make. Help Tor and risk insulting his honour or leave him to die. The latter would be deserved for his insolence, but the reaper saw a potential in him that very few Yautja had. The potential to be a formidable hunter, and therefore a protector of his species. The Yautja were too few and divided in the universe to lose such an asset. Even if that asset had come for the Reaper’s head.

The Xenomorph warrior swiftly gained the upper hand on the young Yautja. Despite the size and power of the berserker, his strikes and attacks were reckless, leaving too many opportunities for retaliation. His wounds were beginning to weaken him as fluorescent green blood leaked, ebbing his life force. The creature found opening in Tor’s defence, its deadly talons clawing gouges into one side of his face. The predator roared in pain. In his disorientation, the warrior advanced. A sharp whip of the creature’s tail knocked the berserker to the ground. The warrior bounded towards its prey, savouring the moments before the kill. Tor knew that this was his end, and braced for the strike that would end his life. The creature was upon him, its face closing in on the predators. Locking gaze with the warrior, the dark abyss of its eyes would be the last thing the young Yautja would see.

Zarack made his decision at that moment and launched his combi spear. It struck true with the might of the predator, into the warrior’s side, knocking it from its intended kill. The Reaper roared in challenge, charging at the stunned creature with gauntlet blades ready for the strike that would end his hunt. The Warrior was quick to recover, but not quick enough. Zarack dodged its clawed flurry with ease before disembowelling it with a single precise swipe. The Xenomorph showed no signs of slowing, even as its entrails spilled from its grievous wound. The Reaper once more dodged its onslaught, only to get to its side and tear his combi spear free. Bringing the weapon to bear, Zarack thrust the sharp tip through the creature’s throat, severing sinew and spine. The warrior died without a sound as the Reaper kicked his combi spear free with a flourish. He had proven who was the hunter, and who was the prey.

The clicking growl of Tor filled the room, resonating from behind the Reaper. The Berserker, in spite of his wounds, had arose to his feet. A chemical from Tor’s home world coursed through his veins, renewing him with vigour and rage. The berserker charged with reckless abandon. The Reaper did not move. Did not even flinch at his foolish foe. As the Young Yautja was upon him, he made a deft step to one side and swept the legs from under the berserker with his combi spear. The predator’s colossal form crashed to the floor. Before Tor could rise, Zarack was already upon him, a foot planted firmly on his back. The Reaper held back the rage within him. A rage that would have overtaken a younger him, and forced his hand to remove this predator’s head and display it among his collection. But he was not that Yautja no longer. Raising his combi spear, he thrust it through Tors shoulder and further through the floor beneath him, pinning him where he led.

“Foolish young one. I shall let you live, but only for you to become stronger.” The Reaper said. “When you are stronger, come and return my weapon. You shall have your challenge then.”

Tor did not speak a word, and Zarack walked away. It would be a while before the berserker regained his strength to get himself free. But he was strong enough and he would, the Reaper knew this. Zarack glided his clawed fingers over his wrist gauntlet and tested his cloaking field. His entire form flickered in a haze that resembled his surroundings, rendering him almost invisible to human eyes. His hunt was not yet over. He would see if there was a challenge among the humans onboard.

*****

The final part is incoming on Friday! Thank you for reading.