my entry for the make a monster competition.
Sky Gypsy Caral's
The view from her balcony had caral worried, very worried. The yellow brown water off the delta was giving way to dark green vegetation. They are too low way to low. The delta like all river systems is crawling with helopods. A sea breeze was blowing onshore, but a breeze would not be enough to keep them in the air, that would take a wind of at least four miles per hour. Of to the south she can see a rubble heap, Cantor had told her that before the extinction there had been twelve billion people in cities like that one. Now it was where she will probably die.
They had already thrown away everything they can spare, and a few things they couldn't. But they were still losing height.
Unlike the other groups of humans who had chosen to live in the dry deserts, where it is to dry for the helopods to survive. Or the cold high altitudes or latitudes. The Sky Gypsies had opted to leave the ground to the helopods and all of the other horrors that crawl, slither and squat there. The ground living humans had only four meaningful reservations left; Siberian Alaska, tero del fuago, Antarctica, and where they were heading the Hymeneal western desert. The others; Australia, Chile, the Sahara, etc had all been overrun one by one. The Sky Gypsies had not had things all their own way. The massive cloud ships were big and heavy enough to stay afloat indefinitely. But if the helopods managed to get aboard the result is total slaughter. Were as the wind ship like the Sirocco here were not an obvious target but they needed the wind to stay afloat, and if the wind doped they had to lighten the load.
Caral had always tried to keep her weight down, watching what she ate, staying fit, but she was the heaviest so if it comes down to it, and it looks like its going to. She would be the one to take the long walk so that the rest could fly away home. Caral grabbed the walker pack slipped on her sand worm shoes and threw herself over the balcony. Every foot she buys them increases their chances of making it to the mountain, and away from the helopods. Her long walk is going to be very very short.
Looking up the helopods could see that the sky gypsies were in trouble, which meant a human hunt might be in the offing. Of all of the creatures that; walk, crawl, or shit on the earth, and that want to make a meal out of a human, we helopods are special. We hunt humans out of hatred, not for food. A hatred born of a long memory. In the past when humans stayed on land or crossed the surface of the water and our ancestors swam the oceans, they ate us. As time went on and they learned we were intelligent they still ate us they built factory ships in a vain attempt at wiping all life from the sea. Even when they learned the language of the squid they never stopped eating us. So now we hunt them. And kill them. As slowly and painfully as we can. As deliberately and methodical as is our nature.
They've thrown one of their number out. Let's hope it doesn't die on impact with the ground. This far down the delta it has no chance, no chance at all. Humans might be one hundred times the mass of a helopod, but we helopods operate in clades. Three hundred helopods or more acting with a single combined intelligence. A clade could grow to over a thousand strong, that's not advisable. But for a human hunt, every helopod in the delta will commit to the common purpose. Kill the human, but make it suffer first.
Caral knew she had no chance of surviving. Her intention was to draw as many helopods south and as far away from her family as possible. She knew that the helopods could see her as soon as had jumped, so she popped her glider immediately and steered away from the mountains and down the coast.
She couldn't exactly see the helopods that were hunting her, only the disturbance that they were kicking up, as they rushed to each tear a piece off her flesh.
Has she steered slightly away from the coast she remembered what Cantor had told her about the walkers' pack. "the things in you're pack have to be as light as possible but give you the best chance of surviving until you can make it to a place of safety. You have four pints of water, because you need to stay away from rivers and streams. A pair of sandworm shoes. Bubble mirror, helopods have excellent eyesight but having originally evolved in the sea then do not react quickly to changing light levels. The tiny homing rocket when launched will fly in a simple ballistic arc towards home, so we can come and rescue you." that's not going to happen Caral thought as she adjusted her cause again to keep them interested, she veered away from the rubble pile which was an obvious trap and turned to fly parallel to the mountain chain.
Caral hit the ground running, the extra foot and a half of stride length that her sandworm shoes gave would help. But with a coil of twenty to twenty-five helopods crashing towards her, all she can do is run
It's on the ground. Running. What we must do is keep It panicked. Keep it running. It landed near the place of the most recent divide. Does It know? Can It suspect? A small ad-hock clade of nineteen are driving It. Nineteen is too small a number to form the three complete turns of coil spring, that are needed to cover rough ground quickly. Large clades of several hundred strong are converging on It at very high speed, to cut off any possibility of It escaping. A clade of fifty was forming a kill zone to disable It or divert It away from the place of the divide.
Caral could see the massive coils closing in. the one behind hadn't caught up yet. All she could do is run. Strait into a trap.
The Monster I offer you is a descendant of the humble Cephalopod. It is intelligent. Able to learn from watching others, which would suggest an awareness of self and a capacity for empathy. They can remember a solution to a puzzle that they learn years earlier When not cooked right it is as chewy as old rubber. The only thing I have added is group cooperation.