“Yian Kut-ku,” Xavier confirms our assumptions, before smiling and taking his 2DS out, “This should be easy enough for us.”
“Shit…” Indigo mutters, looking in horror not at the monster wreaking havoc, but at two---no, four individuals running around it. They were all wearing the Basarios armor sets, making them look like full fledged knights covered in stone. Two of them were attacking the monster’s feet with their Greatsword and Sword&Shield weapons, while the other two both used Light Bowguns to barrage the monster’s face.
Indigo was still frozen in place, watching in both horror and disappointment and looking around to take it all in. The hunters clearly didn’t need our help, as the monster’s head quickly broke and it was clearly showing signs of weakening.
I tap Indigo on his shoulder and motion towards going back to the station. We’ve done what we needed to do and we could call it a day. He stares at me before I realize that he was staring at something behind me.
Looking behind, all I could see besides the gawking crowd was a little girl in a black dress. Her hair was as black as her dress, and it was difficult to tell where it stopped and where the dress began. She watches the scene below us with no emotions on her face, no fear nor awe.
Oddly enough, a part of my mind thought she was like a weird cross between Acerola from Pokemon Sun/Moon and Wednesday Addams.
It took me a while to snap back to reality and realize that Indigo had been staring at her. I flash him a look of disgust and tell him that we should get moving.
“Come on,” I say as we wait for the north-bound train to bring us back, feeling more exhausted than I should be, “We’re clearly not needed here.”
Xavier shrugs while Indigo lets out a weak “Yeah…”
I think of what I can say to lighten the mood as we enter a train car, especially for our eldest who keeps getting his hopes only to get the rug pulled out under him.
“They got lucky and got here first,” Was all I could think to say, “I’m sure we’ll get our break eventually. Let’s just be thankful there’s a job waiting for us.”
“It’s not just that,” Indigo replied, “Those people were just hunting the monster while there were still civilians in the area. Innocent people are getting hurt, nobody was protecting or evacuating them.”
“That’s the police’s job,” Xavier says with a shrug, “Our job is to hunt the monsters. If we do that correctly, then people will stop getting hurt.”
“No, Indigo’s right,” I say, coming up to another realization, probably the same one Indigo also realized. We were so focused on finding a high-threat monster, on killing it and getting recognized, that we didn’t consider how much danger everyone else was in. “Our priority should be keeping people safe.”
Indigo and Xavier nod in agreement, and as I look out the window and watch the buildings blur past us on our way home, I was replaying the scene in my mind.
How can we do better than those Hunters that we saw?
[Indigo, March 5, 2017, 11:00AM]
It took me ‘til the day of the ‘mission’ to fully digest why exactly Aldritch needed us for an escort. I was so focused on the fact that we got another mediocre job that I didn’t think through why we even got the job to begin with. I shared my thoughts to Char and Xavier right before we met up with Aldritch at the train station.
“You think a monster’s gonna attack us?!” Char asks, looking extremely worried. We had planned to synchronize with our hunters as soon as we have visual confirmation of Aldritch, but Char was looking like he wanted to armor up right now.
“Good.,” Was all Xavier said while sporting a shit-eating grin.
I explained to them that it was simply a theory, considering how the Monster Hunter games themselves had egg retrieval quests that usually end up with your hunter trying to dodge an angry parent wyvern while carrying a large egg that will break at the smallest mistake.
“Everybody just chill and conserve your energy,” I tell them as we doublecheck the meeting place if Aldritch was already there. I had specifically suggested this time frame for the travel as this was the time when most of the rush hour had already dissipated, but if we take too long the crowd will build up again after lunch.
There’s still plenty of people, but at least it’ll be easier to find a seat or a secure spot inside the train. Hopefully Aldritch didn’t get attacked by a monster on his way here, and hopefully I was wrong about a monster targeting us for carrying around an egg. As much as I wanted the opportunity to show the world what we were capable of, a train car was a straight up death box should it get attacked by a monster.
“I see him,” Xavier points at our contact who looks exactly the same as he did when we met roughly a week ago.
We sync up with our hunters and head on to meet him. Synchronizing with your hunter is easy enough after you do it once, your subconscious gets used to the feeling and it’s practically muscle memory from there.
[Char, March 5, 2017, 11:15AM]
“I’m both thankful and concerned that the security personnel didn’t flag the monster egg as a potential threat,” Indigo/Dirge told us through our internal voice chat. It seems that synchronized hunters under the same guild or party have some kind of internal voice chat network that lets them talk to each other without being heard by anyone around them. It’s borderline telepathic communication.
We all found a more or less secure spot in the last train car, near the very end of the car and by the entry and exit. Aldritch was able to get a seat while the three of us stood by the end of the car, with the ‘rear window’ right behind us. Dirge liked the spot as it gives us a good view of the area around and behind the train, allowing us to see if anything was following us either on buildings, on air, or on the highways below.
Saber glanced at me and Dirge before nodding towards Aldritch. He was clutching onto the big icebox-like storage for the egg as if it was a bomb and looking around with jittery eyes and a visible cold sweat. “He either needs to shit, or Indigo was right about us getting targeted by a monster.”
“We should probably use our codenames when we’re in hunter forms, Saber,” Dirge told him while continually looking behind and around the train, “It makes sense that he would hire hunters if he expected a monster to show up.”
I didn’t like the small amount of information we were given for this mission. I couldn’t tell if Aldritch was just an idiot who barely knew what he was doing or if he was purposely limiting what we knew in fear of us abandoning him when we find out that this was not gonna be an easy escort mission.
We passed a couple of stations in peace, with every passing minute we constantly looked over our shoulders , anxious to see a monster that might attack us. People coming and going in the train either mistook us for cosplayers or assumed that we were hunters commuting to a mission. Besides taking pictures, most people left us alone, which was good because we were not in the mood to socialize.
Dirge had been constantly glancing at one part of our train car, which made me curious so I followed his gaze. Somehow unsurprising, there was a kid seated where Dirge was looking. What was surprising on the other hand, was that it was the same kid we saw the other day. The same girl, probably around 8 or 9, wearing a black and white dress that nearly blended with her long hair. Only difference I could notice was that she was wearing a black cloth facemask which covered half her face.
“She probably takes this train to and from her school or something,” I muttered to Dirge, trying to rationalize why we would see the same stranger twice in a row, “We all know you’ve got a soft spot for kids and all that, but we’re gonna need you to stay focused right now.”
“She’s been observing us since she got here, which was in the second station,” Dirge whispered to me, trying not let Saber hear in fear that he might confront her if he found out, “My guts tell me she’s a hunter too.”
I look back at the kid, trying not to be too obvious. She looks like a regular kid except for the tidbit of her aura that makes her ideal for a creepy kid role in a horror movie. It looked like she was just staring into nowhere in front of her. I relay my thoughts to our leader.
“That’s the look of someone focusing on their peripherals,” Dirge says, “She’s watching us, and I noticed she was doing the same yesterday, as well as examining the hunters fighting the Yian Kut-ku.”
“There’s no way a kid that young can be a hunter,” I reply, then remembered Xavier was barely a teen despite being a hunter, which strengthened my doubts. But that was a worry for another day, “Let’s just get through this mission first, then we can bother with the kid.”
Halfway to our destination, the kid exited at a station by herself. It wasn’t rare to see a kid her age commuting alone, but it was still quite uncommon considering how young she looked. I could tell that Dirge wanted to accompany her, but I punched him on the shoulder to help him focus.
Dirge punched back teasingly, and then looked back at the kid. I followed suite and noticed that she hasn’t left the station yet, and was simply standing and staring at us. A shiver went down my spine as her eyes dug deep through my soul, and I watch as she raises and outstretches her left arm, pointing back at the expanse of the sky and city behind the train. I looked back, following her direction, and noticed absolutely nothing.
We watch her continue to stare at us as the train left the station, and I shrug it off as some kid just trying to be creepy.
When I looked back at Dirge all I saw was Saber, pointing towards Dirge who was in the other end of the car checking if it was possible to move the other passengers to the car in front of this one.
“We need to get everyone to move to the next car,” Dirge says as he ran back to us, “I saw a shadow fly over the buildings the kid was pointing at back there.”