Midnight, and all was silent in the Arena Terra, except for two exhausted figures who crouched by the door to a newly-occupied monster cage. The two, Bronton and Hydra, were both slick with sweat, as the newest addition to their collection of captured monsters had put up a heck of a fight. Even before the effect of the Tranq Bombs had worn off, it had almost killed them in its drugged, sleepy state.
"Please," gasped Hydra. "Don't ever make me handle one of those things again. My hearing's only just coming back, and I don't think that wound made by its talons will heal anytime soon." Bronton clapped a hand on her armor-plated back. "Don't worry about it. This Glauxiturn will be our trainees' second big test. And at least this one, thank goodness, doesn't hold a grudge against them."
Hydra smiled, still gasping for air. "I'm... going to rest. Then I'm leaving - I've just heard a rumor that Mediatas Village has been attacked." Bronton's mouth tightened and the edges curved downwards a bit. "Strange...' he muttered. "I did see an unfamiliar monster in the Barren Desert just yesterday. I only caught a glimpse of it, as it was far in the distance, but do you think it actually got into the village?"
"I don't know," said Hydra. "But I'll find out tomorrow." The two hunters then exited the Arena Terra, leaving the arena empty and in complete darkness. Thus, there was no one inside the great structure to see a huge, shadowy figure jump from its perch above and land quietly on the arena floor.
The monster, who had followed Bronton and Hydra inside, crept over to the cage door that they had just locked. Slipping its smallest talon into the lock, it successfully picked it and opened the door. Almost instantly, a half-asleep, bird-like Pseudowyvern jumped out, slipping and landing flat on its feathered face.
Before the Glauxiturn could attack in its confused state, the unknown monster let out a low hiss. Go. Be free. I will take your place. The Glauxiturn rotated its head so that it was cocked 180 degrees to the side. What are you? it hooted quietly. Why are you freeing me and sacrificing yourself instead?
The monster, another Glauxiturn, simply chirped, It isn't a sacrifice. I do not plan on getting myself killed. Go back to your home in the Idyllic Ocean, and stay away from the hunters. One day, you won't have to worry about them anymore... The newly-freed Glauxiturn nodded and hooted its thanks, then flapped into the air, barely making any noise as it took off for its home.
The monster left behind silently watched it leave. I'm glad it was a Glauxiturn, he thought. If it wasn't, then I'd have to become something less silent, alerting Bronton and Hydra to my presence. It glanced at its front left leg. Why his prosthetic arm shapeshifted with him, he didn't know. But it was certainly a useful thing to exploit.
Those rookie hunters will be in for a shock tomorrow, Taka laughed to himself. If they survive.
Illeera sat next to Relcia on her bed in the Military Bastion's barracks. Relcia had cried herself to sleep last night, and although no-one else knew why, they didn't ask. Now, Relcia was staring numbly at the Qurupeco feather that she held cupped in her hands. Everyone else had gone to the Arena Terra, waiting for Bronton to open the doors to the arena.
"Come on, Relcia," Illeera said softly. "Taka will be back. You can easily apologize to him then. Now we need to hurry, or else we will be late." Relcia didn't say anything, but reached for her item pouch and Raven Tessen.
When Illeera opened the door, Relcia said hoarsely, "Illeera." When her friend turned around, she said, "I had the worst dream last night. I dreamed that Taka turned into an Elder Dragon - a Fatalis, I think - and tried to kill us all. What if... what if it comes true?" Putting on her Zinogre cap, Illeera walked over to Relcia and gripped her shoulder. "It was only a dream," she assured Relcia. "Taka would never, ever do such a thing, especially not to you."
Strangely, Relcia was privately not convinced. But she nodded and smiled, then both girls walked out to the Arena Terra.
"Now, trainees!" bellowed Bronton. "Today I have a great test for you. I have a few things to go over before we start." The muttering friends became silent.
"One, Hydra has left us," the trainer said. "A foreign monster has somehow come to the Central World and attacked Mediatas Village." Everyone gasped in shock. Taahnn cautiously asked, "What was the monster, Bronton?"Bronton looked very serious indeed. "A monster found only in the mysterious and dangerous Great Frontier region - the Crystalline Dragon, Kuarusepusu." Taahnn and Kiem exchanged confused glances. Ryka, predictably, asked the trainer, "What kind of monster is... Kuarusepusu?" She tried her best with the pronunciation.
"Kuarusepusu is a great Leviathan that, strangely, has been discovered living in dry areas. Not much is known about it, but it uses both sunlight and lightning to help power its strange abilities. It can even burrow through the ground, on occasion."
Bronton paused, then continued. "I don't know how or why it traveled to the Central World. Maybe it was lost, or was simply looking for food. One way or another, Mediatas is bound to have been decimated."
There was a grim silence. Finally, Bronton cheerfully changed the subject. "But let us not worry about Hydra, shall we? I have something here to give you." He handed four Sonic Bombs to each of the group.
"Today's lesson is all about timing. The monster you are about to face is insanely brutal and incredibly speedy. However, there are certain times in which it is vulnerable to the noise produced by your Sonic Bombs. Learn when it is becoming vulnerable, then strike with intense noise and sharp weapons!" With that, Bronton led the group into the Arena Terra.
It was like a grassland, with long, knee-high grass carpeting the entire arena. Bronton made it to his usual spot, then shouted down, "Watch out - this Pseudowyvern is also very quiet! Use your sight, not your ears!" Then, he flicked the lever, and a great, owl-like creature pounced through - a Glauxiturn, the Eyes in the Night itself.
Taka leapt through the open cage doors, trying his best to act like a Glauxiturn. Luckily, his shapeshifting also gave him the instincts of his current mimicked form, making acting like a monster Jaggi's play.As the contingent of rookie hunters drew their weapons, Taka stared down his beak at them for a minute, looking at each of them in turn. He had to admit, it would be hard to draw up the will to hurt them, but he had to be convincing, and if he didn't at least seriously injure them, then the monsters of the future Central World would be in danger from the new hunters.
When his bright, yellow eyes rested on Relcia, however, he felt intense rage build up in him. This was the girl that had acted like his friend, acted like she wanted him, then cruelly snapped his heart in two. As his rage built, his eyes automatically glowed red, and his pupils shrunk down to almost nothing. He was now almost blind, but Taka didn't worry - he still had his great hearing.
He screeched, the sound tearing from his lungs and ripping through the very minds of the puny humans cowering below him. Taka then pounced directly at Relcia, talons reaching, aching for the kill.
Reacting instantly to the Glauxiturn's attack, Mylie shot a Clust Shot at it, which lodged in its side and then exploded violently, throwing it off to the side with a shriek. As it crashlanded some distance away, Relcia's eyes teared up. The narrow brush with death reminded her of Taka rescuing her from the Nargacuga.Kiem charged with his Rugged Lance, and Kread heaved his Siegemund at the monster's right foreleg. Neither were quick enough, as the Pseudowyvern jumped aside and then swiped with its spiked tail. Kiem blocked the strike and Kread swung again, this time carving a deep wound in the Glauxiturn's side. A shrill hoot of pain tore through the air.
Ryka quickly jumped in with her poisonous Shadow Saber, but that was also dodged. The great bird-like creature suddenly shrieked, the sound forming a sonic pulse aimed directly at Ryka. She blocked in time, but the impact caused her spine to tingle and her arm to grow numb.
Still raging, the Glauxiturn heard the familiar sound of Relcia's Dual Swords slicing through the air. It aimed a talon swipe in the direction of the noise, but out of nowhere, Illeera threw a Sonic Bomb. The bomb exploded with a shrill sonic tone, tearing through the Glauxiturn's brain. Since it was relying completely on hearing in its enraged state, the Pseudowyvern stumbled at the noise and fell over on its back.
Relcia, Taahnn, and Kread all charged, weapons held high. The Glauxiturn wouldn't be able to react in time, as it was too busy flailing its legs in the air, trying to get to its feet in its panic. However, at the very last second, the Glauxiturn stopped panicking, carefully planted one of its talons in the grass, and flipped itself right-side up. All three attacks missed, and the Glauxiturn knocked all three aside with a tail attack.
Illeera quickly shot three arrows its way, all of which were coated in Sleep Coating. All three hit their mark, the tough back scales of the Pseudowyvern. However, the reaction she got out of the monster was not what she had been expecting.
Usually, three direct hits with sleep-inducing arrows would cause instant unconsciousness. Impossibly, the Glauxiturn struggled, trying to fight off the sedative. Its movements grew sluggish and drowsy as it slowly succumbed to the drug, but still it fought. Kiem realized that this would be the only reaction that they would get, and he repeatedly stabbed the Glauxiturn with his Lance.
The pain snapped the owl-like wyvern out of its drowsiness. It instantly slashed out with a talon, hitting Kiem and flinging him back a few meters. His Blangonga helm was knocked clean off and he scrambled to recover it. As he did so, the Glauxiturn moved to take advantage of his distracted state.
As the Glauxiturn was preparing to deliver a fatal peck, Relcia quickly moved in between Kiem and the still-enraged wyvern. The Glauxiturn paused, as if it were shocked. For a second, it almost seemed to calm down and forget its rage. Then, its eyes began to glow again as it shot sonic blast after sonic blast at her, all of which were, somehow, deflected by swipes of her Raven Tessen.
The wyvern increased its firing speed, causing Relcia to become exhausted. Knowing the end was near, the Glauxiturn stopped its assault and instead released one long, loud screech that blended into a beam of sonics. Relcia was unable to fight the beam, and was blown back, stunned very badly from the sheer noise of the attack.
Instantly, the Glauxiturn was upon her. Its cruel beak seized her by a leg, ripping through the flesh. She screamed almost as loudly as the Pseudowyvern as it shook its head wildly, whipping her back and forth. Bronton himself gasped at the sheer brutality of the monster as it continued. Eventually, something would either be ripped off or snapped like a twig.
Out of nowhere, three arrows sped directly at the Glauxiturn. Once again, all hit their mark, impacting against the Glauxiturn's underbelly. The effect was instantaneous. Already weakened by her earlier sedatives, the Glauxiturn slowly stopped its attack and let go of Relcia, unconscious and losing blood fast, as it crashed to the ground, fast asleep.
Bronton entered at this point. "Illeera, Mylie, take Relcia to her bed. Ryka, send for a medic. I'm going to get this creature into its cage. You've had enough for one day." As the sleeping Pseudowyvern's eyes slowly became yellow and their pupils widened again, Bronton, Kiem, and Kread all dragged it into its pen and securely locked the door.
Taka woke up very slowly. His eyes were glued together and his entire body felt incredibly weak. His memory ebbed back into his brain, one moment at a time. Still in his Glauxiturn guise, he turned back into himself, exhausted and groggy beyond belief.
Cautiously getting up, he shook badly on his feet, then steadied bit by bit. He reached out for Guan, whom he had buried in the straw covering the cage floor. Sheathing the weapon, he patiently waited to become strong again.
I lost myself, Taka thought sleepily. I was literally blinded by rage. But Relcia got what she deserved. He continued to think about what his former friends might be doing at this moment. Pernicious Parnivids, I hope she doesn't die. I'm angry at her, but I don't hate her...
Taka snapped out of his guilt. Why am I thinking this? I made a promise to Vulcan - that I'd help the monsters, even if I had to kill anyone in my way. He shook his head wearily.
Steadily becoming stronger as Illeera's drug wore off, he turned himself into a Nibelsnarf and tried to bite a large hole in the door. When that didn't work, he became a Rajang and tried to smash down the cage door. Even the Pelagus' powerful fists weren't able to beat the door down.
OK, new plan. An idea came to mind. He became a small Giggi and shoved his squishy body between the door and the ground. His slimy skin helped with lubrication, allowing him to, with some effort, squeeze out of the cage.
Shapeshifting once again into a Yian Kut-Ku, he took off from a standstill, veering out across the Barren Desert and to Magma Mountain, already looking forward to seeing his only friend again - Vulcan, the injured Rathalos.
What? asked Vulcan, in his shock. I said try to help the monsters, even if you HAD to kill, not go out and actually do it!
"I had to," said Taka grimly. "If I didn't at least try, then the monsters living in the future Central World would be in danger." Vulcan wasn't convinced. They're your friends. They're humans, sure. But they are your friends. That would be like me trying to kill others of my kind.
Taka instantly felt guilty. Then an idea came to him. "I heard that my... friends... are journeying to the Frozen Wastes soon. I will go as well and disguise myself as a monster. If, and only if, they strike the first blow, then I will fight. But if they don't, I will let them go..." His voice trailed off as he thought.
Vulcan sighed. If you must. But please, know that what you are doing is wrong. You are not a barbarian like those other humans - you are peaceful and kind. You must bring peace to the Central World, but not with violence - as the humans say, two wrongs do not make a right.
To be Continued...