The sun was settling in for the evening on unpolluted land as the three men continued their trek through the formerly forbidden lands. They, a seasoned soldier, a training tactician, and practitioning prowler, were the newest advancing guard for a scouting team poised to dutifully document this newly annexed ground. They arrived at a clearing overlooking a majestic vista, after hours silently walking through dense forest, to a roar that shook their pristine planet’s foundation.
“Sneaker, what was that noise?”
“Could be a bear, Wiles.”
The clearing was wide enough to provide ample reaction time for most any threat. The soldier checked his reserves of the experimental rifle. The tactician shuffled some bags and brought out two books, one of fine red leather, the other featuring a garish bear on the cover. The prowler, muted except for faded green shoes with dirtied pinstripes in assorted pelts, crouched near the tip of the overhang. They watched the forest and the trees.
“Probably northeastern blue bear? Apparently…”
The trees rustled. The soldier pointed the muzzle of the rifle toward the faint noise. The tactician muzzled his thought, secured both books, and brought out his trusty pistol. The prowler ensured his headgear was secure, the intimidating muzzle of his prized kill, and stretched his right leg. The forest was silent. The soldier steadied his shot. The tactician breathed in deeply. The prowler silently unsheathed two of his bladed weapons. Then another violent roar.
“Should we fight or depart?”
“If my shot doesn’t take it down, Scribe, we run.”
The roar was followed by a fierce mass emerging from the forest. The bear appeared twice as tall as the three men. Wiles aimed for the creature’s face, paused his breathing, and fired. Scribe secured his pistol back in his humble holster. Sneaker ran up between Scribe and Wiles as the shot landed a successful hit. The bear violently shook its head and when the smoke cleared lunged forward.
“Run! Get moving, Scribe! Move!”
Wiles dodged to the left of the bear as Sneaker slashed its right leg. The bear winced slightly as Scribe ran into the woods with Wiles following closely behind. Sneaker ran behind the bear, returned both blades to their sheaths, and just before following after both company men, threw a canister at the bear. It exploded an unnatural shade of green smoke in the bear’s face. The bear wasn’t phased. Sneaker accepted defeat and ran.
“Sneaker! Are you back there!”
“Yes! I tagged it, too.”
The men ran. Every time they’d stop to catch their breath, they thought they heard the rustling of that fierce bear, and would keep going. Fatigue had long set in. Wiles wildly winced, Scribe scathed surrender, and Sneaker significantly slowed. The adrenaline of facing yet another bear that could not be killed kept them going well past the last roar faded in the distant silence of the now serene forest. At last, they could rest.
“Let’s set up camp there.”