Dirge and Saber had begun telling people to evacuate to the next car, which was thankfully not as crowded as we expected considering most of the crowd had already left a couple of stations back.
Through the white noise of the other people and the rumbling of the train on its tracks, I hear a distant alien sound. It was…a flapping of wings.
As soon as I hear it, the brightness of the midday sky starts dimming around us. A shadow looms over head as something big descends above our train car. The train car we were riding sinks downwards, causing a loud screeching of metal grinding on metal as the rails try to accommodate the additional weight on top of the car. The overhead wires powering the train start snapping one by one, with the train slightly slowing down but still keeping its momentum.
I look outside the rear window and see a green scaly tail with spiked ends swing by. Sharp talons pierce through the metal ceiling of the car as the deafening roar of a wyvern echo around us.
Anyone still in the car except for Dirge covered their ears and trembled from the monster’s roar, the windows shook but thankfully didn’t shatter as the entire train felt the vibrations and sound waves. A lot of us standing were barely keeping our balance, but Dirge was able to move through the roar, breaking a huge window open and beginning to climb out.
“We need to get this Rathian off before it takes the entire car off the rails,” Indigo shouted through the comms as he climbed out of the train. It began to sink in to me that not only was Indigo right about the monster eggs, we had severely underestimated what kind of monster eggs Aldritch had been trying to transport.
“Aldritch is carrying wyvern eggs,” I mutter to no one in particular, realizing that the Rathian on top of the train was probably the eggs’ parent.
“These eggs are highly beneficial for research, I cannot afford to lose it,” Aldritch grunts while cowering on the floor, clutching the carrier in a protective embrace.
The Rathian had begun trying to eat through the ceiling, breaking the top of the train car piece by piece and exposing those of us still riding inside. Thankfully most of the other riders had already evacuated to the next car, meaning we only needed to protect Aldritch.
From the exposed ceiling, I could see Dirge on top of the train, a few feet away from the Rathian. He was managing to keep his balance despite being on top of a moving train, perhaps a hidden feature to being synced with your hunter.
“GET OFF MY TRAIN,” Dirge growls, trying to channel his best Harrison Ford impression. Before he could even swing his Hunting Horn a red blur flies in front of him, and the next moment he was gone.
Saber and I were frozen in shock as we tried to understand what just happened.
“Fuck!” We hear Dirge through our comms, “A Rathalos flanked me, you two will have to deal with the Rathian yourselves.”
We look out the side of train to see, indeed, a Rathalos flying past us with a guy hanging on its leg.
“No problem,” Saber brandishes his dual blades, “I’m more than enough to take down this bitch.”
Before we could worry about defeating the Rathian, we needed to get on top of the train first. The Rathian had begun digging through the ceiling, clawing and pecking the steel roof open tidbit by tidbit. The metal shrieks and the roof begins tearing open.
"Hey Saber," I grinned, changing my sword and shield mode to an axe mode, letting the axe head rest on the floor as a makeshift ramp.. "Let's do that."
He nodded, activated his demon mode, and just in time as the Rathian tore the roof of our train Saber sprinted towards me.
We only get one shot at this, I thought, but shook it off as I swung my Charge Axe upwards as soon as Saber planted foot on my axe. At the apex of my swing with my cousin in tow, he jumps, kicking off my axe and began swinging his blades.
"COMMENCING LAUNCH!" I screamed and watched my cousin fly towards the Rathian, spinning like a bladed lethal top.
To be fair, he always did like Levi Ackerman from Attack on Titan. Now he gets to live out his fantasy, sort of.
[Indigo, March 5, 2017, 11:30AM]
I barely started fighting and threatening the Rathian when a red blur came out of from behind some buildings to my left. It took me a while to completely register that a Rathalos used a drive-by tactic to fling me off the train, and thankfully my instinct took over and I was able to use my hunting knife to stab the Rathalos’ leg and hold on to dear life.
There was no assurance that we were immune to fall damage when synced with our hunters in the real world, and I would not like to find out anytime soon.
With the wind whipping all around me, I begin climbing the Rathalos from its leg to its back. Slowly, carefully, hoping the wyvern doesn’t try to shake me off. It was soaring above smaller building and weaving through minor skyscrapers, possibly looking for a way to loop back and assist its wife against the remaining hunters in the train.
Finally making my way up to the monster’s back, I did the next sensible thing and started stabbing it with my hunting knife. Following the game’s rules it should be considered as trying to mount it, and if I succeed I might be able to ground this guy.
After the first plunge of my knife, the Rathalos finally took notice of me on its back and started trying to shake me off. It twisted, turned, and swerved through the air, and all I could do was hold on to the knife and whatever rough wyvern scale I hold on to.
Similar to what happened with the Khezu, letting my mind teeter between wandering and focusing at nothing gives me a near-imaginary view of the HUD, and with it, a mounting gauge. With every stab I could see, or should I say, feel the gauge grow closer to a successful mount.
As the gauge fills, I could feel the monster go weaker and more desperate, and at full I could hear it roar in pain as its wings stop flapping and it goes limp.
The good news is, the Rathalos is now falling down to the ground.
The bad news is, so am I.
[Char, March 5, 2017, 11:30AM]
Trying to fight a huge wyvern while balancing on top of a moving train is no easy feat. The sheer weight of the Rathian made the train go slower, and the only thing probably preventing it from just straight up stopping is due to the fact that the next station was nowhere near yet and the current area we were in was too high to safely evacuate the other passengers.
I briefly considered getting this specific train car disconnected from the rest, but Aldritch volunteered to stay here to keep the Rathian focused on this egg-carrying train car and I couldn’t disconnect us with a civilian still in the car. Leaving the eggs here was not an option either as Aldritch refuses to abandon his duty.
Saber was managing to dance around the Rathian, using his dual blades as climbing picks to help him maneuver on top and on the sides of the train. This made it harder for him to push into more offense, so I needed to focus less on being the tank and more on being a DPS for today.
I duck and dodge instead of blocking a Rathian tail swing, before pushing closer to it and started hacking away at its legs. It looked like it knew that letting go would mean that the train would start outrunning it again, as it seems to keep its claws mostly held on the car and not doing any flying attacks. The Rathian was prioritizing lunging at us and swinging its tail while grounded.
The enemy blew a fireball at me and I managed to raise my shield in time. The attack was a lot stronger than I expected, and not having supercharged my shield, I experienced a little knockback. The knockback was enough to the point that I could almost feel one foot slipping of the edge of the train roof.
I slipped off the roof and managed to hold on to an open window, simultaneously seeing Saber chop off the Rathian’s tail as it falls off the train beside me. I thank God that my character was strong enough to hold on with one hand otherwise I'd be swept away from the train's speed. I felt my whole body dangling over the edge and mustered up all my strength to pull myself back inside the train.
The Rathian noticed me through the hole in the roof and tried to attack me inside. Unfortunately, the hole wasn't big enough for the Rathian's body to fit in through so only her head and neck reached the inside of the train. With drool on her jaws and wrath in her eyes, she snaps at me and Aldritch, trying to either eat or kill us.
This is it, I thought, I'm in a more stable ground. I shoved my sword in my shield and activated the morphing sequence for a charged-up slash. I can only hope that the Rathian doesn't pull out of the train before I can hit her.
I pull my charge blade back and feel the pulse of the charged phials resonating on my hands.
"HEADS UP!" I yell as I slammed my fully charged weapon on its sorry head. I saw the scales on her face break apart as the yellowish orb of my charge attack detonate. The Rathian emits a final shriek as it dies, its mangled head in the train while the rest of its body on the roof.
"Get rekt." Saber pants as he kicks the green-hued wyvern corpse, almost causing him to lose balance.
"Dirge," I say through the comms and tried to look for him and the Rathalos, "We're all clear here."
[Indigo, March 5, 2017, 11:33AM]
“Nice,” I reply through bated breath, standing up after falling from who knows how high. Landing on my feet was painful to an extent, but I wasn’t injured at all. Perks of being synced with your hunter, I guess.
The Rathalos fell harder than I did, being bigger and all that, and was beginning to get back up.
“I am…very not clear yet,” I tell Relena while trying to catch my breath, “I’ll try solo-ing the Rathalos, you guys focus on finishing the mission.”
“You sure?” Relena asked and I could tell the worry in her voice.
“It’s ok,” I say, unsheathing my Hunting Horn and walking cautiously towards the enemy, “I’m ex---”
“Don’t finish that,” Saber butted in via the comms, “If you can’t kill it yourself, hold out and wait for us to get back. You're the strategist, goddamit, you should know that.”
They didn’t wait for a reply and disconnected from the comms, leaving me to my thoughts as I consider how I can go toe to toe with one of the game’s most famous flagship monsters.
In-game it’s easy to solo monsters, but having to actually face one in real life puts a unique kind of fear and excitement in you. Must be some kind of weird thrill of the hunt kind of thing, knowing that if you screw up you’ll end up being the prey.
Looking around I see that people had already begun evacuating, running away from the huge red dragon in the middle of the city. Drivers and passengers alike were exiting their vehicles while nearby traffic enforcers and police officers help assist in the evacuation.
The Rathalos started flying low, and from experience I knew that it was going to barrage me with fireballs. I sprinted towards an open area with no people and few vehicles, hoping that it would make it easier to avoid the fireballs while minimizing potential casualties and collateral damage.
I failed to notice that it was flying slightly higher, which was a tell, not of its fireball attack but…
The Rathalos flew straight at me, its talons open aiming to either poison or grab me. I managed to dodge at a split second, leaving the Rathalos feet stuck at the concrete.
"You're fucked now," I grinned as I ran at it, ready to swing my Hunting Horn. I let the weight of the swing carry my upper body, feeling the satisfying crunch of hitting the Rathalos smack dab on the face. The Rathalos flinched from my attack, drooling but still standing.
The blow must’ve weakened it, seeing as how it tries to launch a fireball at me but only a weak sizzle came out of its mouth. It tackles desperately at me, falling and skidding on its chest and crashing over a couple of abandoned cars.
I run towards the weakened Rathalos, keeping my attention on the monster’s movements in case it suddenly attacks or lashes out. It only looks tired because of my previous mounting and hunting horn slam attacks, there’s still a chance this fight’s gonna last longer than it looks.
How long have I been synced? I could feel the pull of exhaustion rear its ugly head deep inside me. I need to defeat this monster before my body forces itself out of sync. I need to find a more efficient way of fighting this thing than just the constant swing and evade that I was used to.
Looking at the all the abandoned cars around me, a plan emerges…
I ran up to an empty vehicle and heaved an uppercut swing at it. To my surprise, my plan worked and the car went flying towards the Rathalos. As if blessed by Michael Bay, the car collided with the wyvern and exploded on contact, dazing the Rathalos again.
Unfortunately, all I managed to do was piss it off more. It let out another roar, and the challenger skill installed in my armor let me know that my opponent was enraged and re-energized. I felt a surge of strength as my left hand started glowing red, and I knew that this was the last stretch.
The Rathalos ran at me once more and I ran straight at him too, ready to meet his attack with mine. With our bodies fueled with rage we drove straight towards our last hurrah.
"I'm gonna end you!" I screamed. "All by myself-"
The Rathalos fell just as the shot rang out. It's back and head suddenly broken with a noticeable hole. A large exit wound for a large bullet.
This is from a bowgun,probably a heavy bowgun,I thought, the high-caliber gunners of the Monster Hunter franchise.
I instantly stopped and looked for the source of the shot. On a nearby building I saw what looked like gunfire smoke coming from a broken window. Inside, an armored person was looking at me.
She wore what looked like a Shrouded Nerscylla armor, a glistening dark shell that made her look like some kind of robotic knight. She jumped off the window without a flinch, and started walking towards me. A black heavy bowgun that looks like a sniper rifle adorned her back.
"You're welcome," she spoke.
[Char, March 5, 2017, 12:30NN]
The quest was practically done, and as pissed off as I am at the researcher guy for jeopardizing so many people, I couldn't possibly say no to his payment. It wasn't much, but even when we split it up we should be able to buy ourselves a nice meal.
The problem was we were still at least half an hour away from Dirge, so we went on hoping that by the time we got there he had either won or at least held out. I knew that he was capable enough of holding his own, even when co-oping against multiple monsters he was always the first one to split up and fight a different monster than us. Of course, those don't always go so well, as skilled as he is he's still mostly bark than bite.
But then again, it was just a Rathalos, he's used to fighting one-on-one with those guys. He'll probably kill it on his own.
Boy was I wrong.