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Rated: E · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #2121775
Who shall win battle...who shall win the war...?
Animal VS Beast

         They came with the darkness, their snouts raised to the wind and amber eyes and tuned ears probing the unknown. One, Sable, took the lead, his heavy black pelt shifting slightly with the breeze as curious eyes looked on from the treetops. He set out, his pack following, meandering through trees as they became engulfed in the shadows, their bowed leaves doing obeisance. The eyes above followed them, gliding through the treetops, as they dangled precariously from branches several feet high, raining down leaves unto the gathering sea of bodies now emerging from their shadows as they charged onward. As the last light faded, the bloodlust grew, entombing hearts of all they that had gathered for the kill. Entranced in his own thoughts, Sable carried on, his heart weighed heavily with the knowledge that more was at stake than a meal. This was war. A war that he and his pack were determined to win...

         As they passed a large clearing, bordered by a stream on the other end, images of their gathering three weeks earlier assailed his thoughts. Tygrah had sent word via the howler monkeys, beckoning all clan heads to attend. Sable reluctantly made the journey, leaving behind his wife and new born cubs. He was met by other wolf alphas from distant lands beyond his territory. Never had he been in the company of so many great predators all at once. But tonight's gathering was far, far greater, than even then. Many came that unforgettable day. He had recognised Beerah, standing seven feet tall on his hind legs, armed with equally impressive claws and teeth. His grizzled fur had overgrown the bite marks left by Sable's pack in an attack that left him with a slight limp and a dead brother. Sable kept his distance.

         Elphantsa, Ocelleo and Leoperden were among the land mammals present. Crocillo and Anacon took their place along the river's bank while Owland perched is a hollow tree his head slouched as he slept. A truce was made to guarantee safe passage and avoid bloodshed among predators. The air was still as predatory rivals eyed each other. Their shared a common enemy, far greater than themselves. Many had seen or heard of the strange metal wielding beasts that did not speak their language. Elphantsa, the oldest among the group, had said they called themselves, "humans". She recounted tales on how her kind were killed for their tusks or kidnapped, tortured, starved and forced to do circus tricks in humiliation in front of crowds of these depraved beasts. She still mourned the death of her eldest son who she found in a pool of his own blood, left to die after they had shot him and sawed off his beautiful tusks. Hers was the story like many others who were slaughtered for their own skin and fur or taken captive to slave for these cruel masters. They all feared for the future of their young ones... Sable's thoughts flickered to his six cubs, now five weeks old tonight...

         Tygrah's speech that day still resounded in his ears. "My fellow predators," Tygrah had roared, his striped, golden-orange fur robing his mighty muscular body like a king, "We have lived by the law of the jungle, kill or be killed. There is only predator and prey. Even the mightiest among us will be consumed by scavengers when we die. But while we still live it is our divine right to kill by decree of the food chain. These, "humans", as they call themselves do not live by the code of the predator. No. They are far worse. They are murderers and terrorists! Corrupt, evil, beasts that delight in our suffering without a sliver of remorse. We kill to survive. Our families and clans depend on us. We respect the land and nature's laws. These humans... do not. These humans need to be stopped!" A roar of approval had erupted from the gathering, in a cacophony of sounds of blaring trumpets, howls, hissing, roars and shrieks. Many of these voices had come tonight, leading their clans into battle.

         Even among so great an assembly, Eaglan's voiced still ruled the air urging them forward. His appearance those weeks ago was sudden. His high-pitched thrill silenced the audience as all eyes were drawn to the skies. With wings outstretched and the sun haloing his white bald head, black and brown feathers resting perfectly on his agile body, Eaglan descended from the heavens. He perched above the gathering, his pale-yellow eyes taking in each minute detail. The crowd was silent, all eyes had shifted from Tygrah to this bird of prey, or rather 'bird of prestige' as he was now known. Sable had watched in awe; such grandeur seldom acknowledged such lowly beings.

         Confident he had their attention, Eaglan spoke, "Soaring through the heavens I have witnessed the destruction plaguing this land. Prey are vanishing. Ancient trees are being ploughed down by the strange metal wielding beasts that have invaded my world. I see ashes blackening the mountainsides as fires rage through homes, dens and burrows to make way for these beasts. I have seen with my eagle's eye much death and destruction. This, has gone too far. Tygrah!" his eyes fixated onto the crouched big cat, who held his gaze in a tug-of-war, before averting in submission. "I left the land to you while I commanded the skies. You said, you would handle it!"

         "Representatives from the various tribes were sent to talk to these strangers," Tygrah sheepishly explained. "We tried diplomacy, but those who escaped the loud, death spitting metal the beasts aimed and fired at them, barely escaped with their lives. No animal was safe. The depraved bestial strangers even wore the flesh of the slain and savagely kept their heads as souvenirs mounted to walls! This the spies had reported. That's why I called this meeting. They don't play by the rules so, why should we?"

         'Play by the rules', the thought lingered on Sable's mind as gazed into the darkness that had become one with those gathering even still. They had long abandoned such rules. There would be no turning back. He observed his fellow-animals in amazement, yet fear. His ancestors foretold of a day when all tribes would be united against a common enemy. A time when the animal kingdom would become one... But, the prophesy also contained omens and forebodings and it was these that disquieted Sable. His view had not changed since that day, when he took to his feet, standing on all fours, his padded paws resting gently on fresh yellow and red leaves carpeting the floor where they had gathered. Raising his voice, he announced, "My fellow-animals, and Tygrah and Eaglan, if I may speak." He bowed his head slightly as he addressed the tiger and eagle.

         "Go on!" They had chorused.

         "I agree that something must be done. My pack and I have been travelling for many miles in search of viable food to sustain us all. We spend most of our day now in search of the scarce food. The deer and caribou have all but left and I fear my pack and I may have to leave as well in search of better habitats with more prey." He paused and stared into furry, featured, scaled, bald, horned faces of all manner of animals before him. "I do not wish to leave my territory which my father and his father have called their home. Yet, let not our actions be more depraved than these humans. Let us not stoop, to their level..."

         "Why not?" Tygrah had interjected. "We shall give them a taste of their own medicine. Ensure they know what it feels to be us!!!" The crowd erupted again and became divisive. Many were swayed by Tygrah's compelling words. Others wished to err on side of caution with Sable. Everyone knew, however, that darker days were ahead if nothing was done. After intense deliberations, they had finally come to a decision by majority rule. Now, three weeks later, tonight, it was time to carry out the final stages of their plans.

         Night had fully descended when Sable and his pack reached the forest edge on the outskirt of the human settlement. They were joined by three other rival wolf packs. Each having no less than fifteen members. Their black, grey, brown and white pelts shimmered under the ashen moonlight of a cloudless sky. The howler monkeys, spider monkeys and capuchin monkeys had all gathered in their respective groups as they waited among the treetops for their signal. Eaglan and his clan, having surveillance the settlement during the day retired, as Owlan, enlisting the help of great eagle owls and hawk owls, took to the skies and circled above. Everyone waited, as one by one the humans entered their strangely lit dens. More reinforcements arrived till the dark forest edge was speckled with glowing eyes fixated on that human settlement.

         The settlement was rudely constructed having some eighty or so odd building forming a small village. A wired fenced encircled the camp with entrance gates to the back and front. Situated on a hilltop, it overlooked a far greater city that could be seen in the distance, whose bright lights competed with that of the stars. Construction overalls lay pinned to lines, still slightly damp. Towering yellow machines stood side by side, no longer roaring like in the day. Their huge iron teeth still stained with dirt and grass and eyes now white, as if asleep. In the day, they would awake their eyes red in rage and billowing smoke as they tore through the land once more. Most of the humans here were workers, sent out to expand the human settlement areas by removing trees and preparing the land for human occupation. Many hunters had also joined the ranks as animals in the way of 'progress' and construction development were fair game, and so the settlement had grown over time.

         One by one, the lights dimmed in each human den, Anacon, together with his cousin Phythone, led the first assault. Masking themselves in the shadows they slithered through holes in the gates towards their targets...the watchmen on guard. The cold-blooded reptiles attacked without warning, raising their massive bodies in the air, their fangs diving straight towards the unsuspecting men's necks and they coiled around chest and limbs, crushing wind pipes and breaking bones, before coiling around the remaining limbs in a deadly embrace. Once assured their victims' death the boa constrictors retreated having done their part. They would feast later.

         Next, were the monkeys. They scaled the gates and fences, encircling each hut. Their target was twofold: the strange beasts' young ones, and the loud death spitting metal tools they called 'guns'. They had seen these guns many times, often pointed at them. Now it was time to return the favour. Rather than the snake's stealth they used swiftness. Climbing through any open windows, the female monkeys sought after the babies, swooping them up with their long furred arms and holding them close to their chest like they would their own. Many had lost their own young at the hands of hunters. The male monkeys hammered doors and sheds in search of human weapons, as the commotion slowly awoke the villagers. Elphantsa and members of her herd lead the third wave of assault, stampeding through the gates, trampling them underfoot they burst into the settlement, the wolf packs close behind. Sable recounted Teegrah's commands to the wolf packs. "Herd them like the sheep they are", he had said. He had called them cowards using metal weapons to fight for them. Now, Sable lead his pack into the onslaught, overcome by their primal instincts and hunger.

         By the time the humans realized what was happening, many awaken out of deep sleep, that animals were attacking the camp, it was too late. A dream had turned into a nightmare. The forest had come alive to seek vengeance as all manner of animal descended. The monkeys had already carried away the baby and toddler hostages and those that remained wielded some of the guns and aimed them skilfully at the villagers. Those that fled the wolves within, met with Teegrah, Ocello, Leopornad and their big cats' clans stationed outside the gates. Beerah led the grizzlies, who encircled the border of the camp. It was a blood bath, feeding frenzy and any human was fair game. Some managed to draw their weapons and fired indiscriminately. This infuriated the animals even more as they overpowered such by the sheer number. Owlan lead the aerial assault. The humans scampered like ants emerging from a destroyed nest. Those who escaped the claws and jaws below were ripped asunder by the talons swooping down from above. Their screams filled the night as the stars bore witness to their destruction. The earth drank the blood of its enemy, as the fowls of the air and beasts of the field feasted upon the human buffet.

         Those that escaped were hunted down through the forest, and if any survived they did not do so unscarred. The monkeys took to the trees carrying the guns with them while the young human ones they kept alive cried out for their parents. Staring at the moon, his muzzle dripping with blood, Sable howled his command, his pack joining in, before they, to, retreated, their stomachs filled with the meat of their prey to feed the pups and their guardians who stayed behind at their den. One by one each tribe forsook the massacre site, well fed and vindicated.

         Sable was silent on his way back home. His stomach was full but his heart was even heavier as the gravity of his actions threatened to anchor him in his personal hell. His warning had been dismissed at the meeting weeks and now he had done the very thing he cautioned against. He tried to shake off the guilt and join in on the animal kingdom's victory. This was the first big meal his pack would be enjoying in months after all. Still, he was uneasy. There was celebration among the animal kingdom that night and by daylight all tribes heard of the resounding victory that had been won, despite their own casualties.

         Accompanied by two fellow wolves the next day, Sable sought audience with Mohowl, leader of a howler monkey troop that aided in the assault. Word was sent via the treetop monkey communication line and they agreed to meet at the forest edge on a hill overlooking the massacre site. The forest was quiet as if in mourning, as dark grey clouds blanketed the sun. Sable met Mohowl, who himself had brought his own body guards. Sable's glanced the stolen guns, but said nothing. "Mohowl," he began, "I come in peace. My pack and I are well fed and mean you and your troop no harm today. I only seek thy audience and thy thoughts as thou were one of the few that stood by me in the meeting against the ambush executed last night."

         "I shall answer what I can Alpha Sable." Like Sable, Mohowl also sported a black coat. His tail was the same length as the rest of his body as he sat on the forest floor, a rare feat for the primate who spent most of his life among the middle and higher strata of the treetops.

         "Do you think we have angered God? In killing these humans? How are we any better than they, now that we have slaughtered them this way?"

         "You ask hard questions, Sable. Questions I know not the answer to." Mohowl turned his gaze to the massacre site, "You see that settlement, my troop in times past lived among the trees that once stood there. Years of deforestation have pushed my kind from their homeland forcing us to seek shelter elsewhere and often with greater peril facing predators... like your kind. We are reclaiming what was once ours, what was stolen from us. How then, can that be wrong?"

         "What of the human young ones thou carried away? What shall be their fate?" Human adults invading his territory disquieted him. But willingly bringing them was unheard of till last night.

         "They shall be raised like one of us and taught to appreciate the forest like we do. The human adults are evil. But perhaps we can change that if we teach them to be good from young..." There was silence as Sable stared at the primate, who avoided his eyes and shouted a command at a guard a few feet away instead.

         "And the guns?" Sable continued. "Will thou keep them?"

         "Yes and no. They need these metal cylinders that shoot forth from it, to work. 'Ammo' I believe is what the beasts called it. So, they are only as good so long we have those. Eventually that, too, shall run out. But as the only animal in these parts with disposable thumbs to wield them, they shall stay with us, and we are prepared to use them if necessary. After all, during the three week before the assault we trained some of our more experienced primates to use them after stealing a few and gathering intel by observing the humans at work."

         "I see... But could this have been avoided? I trust not these humans. Stories passed down through the elders of my pack for centuries testify of mankind's destructive and evil ways. I fear retaliation. We won the battle... but what of the war?"

         "We have always been at war. It is time we started fighting back..."

         The clouds regurgitated the contents of its bowels, spewing rainfall on all those below. "I sense a storm coming, Mohowl. One that shall see the reign of more evil men. Take shelter my friend. May we both survive..." The rain poured down upon the human carcasses that littered the settlement as animals took shelter shielding their faces as if ashamed. A new darkness had descended upon their hearts as their minds wandered on the future unknown...

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