The sound was unmistakable, but no more welcome for that – high pitched keening warring against low toned growling, unnaturally loud in the night reverberating from the buildings towering around her. Coming up on an alleyway, thoughts of just walking by left her mind as silvered metal punched through the corner of the wall just ahead, the tip coming to a halt inches in front of her face as the long shaft caught in the brickwork. With a mental shrug, she leaned forwards to peer around and into the gloom, unsurprised at what she saw.
The insipid yellow glow of the few working lamps high up gave a sickly tint to splashes of fluorescing green fluid covering the walls and puddled on the ground, but clearly illuminated two bodies lying motionless. Like faerie fire, the greenish liquid coated and outlined the shapes of figures still standing, one pale, tall and bulky, five others just as tall, yet coal-black, slender and sinuous, trying to surround the pale one. Curious despite herself, she sighed, leaning against the wall next to the spear that had come perilously close to hitting her blindly, her arms crossed lightly over her chest.
Spraying drops of the green ichor, the bulky figure moved fast, twisting and turning. The slender figures darted in and out, trying to come close, long arms reaching, but flinching back each time as the weapons in the hands of the first blocked their approach. Clinically, she looked at the pale figure's movements, and shook her head a little. Experience had already played out the rest of the scene in her mind, and she recognized the signs of the stocky one slowing down. Imperceptibly, to be sure, but she knew that it would only be a matter of moments. The hunter had become the prey.
She watched a sudden spray of more green from the hunter, while she absently reached over to the spear lodged in the wall, pressing against it in a peculiar way. With a metallic schick, the ends retracted inwards, the now much shorter length of metal coming free from the wall. She brought it to her side just as a screeching cry came from the battle ahead. In an instant, the remaining hunter had brought its right arm up and over in a wide sweeping curve, bright silver suddenly slashing forwards from its forearm to carve across the elongated matte-black head of one of its attackers. In a crash of flailing limbs the dark alien went down, kicking and screaming an undulating cry of agony, but there was no respite for the hunter as the other four night-black figures pounced forwards, taking advantage of the momentary opening.
As the remaining aliens swarmed the hunter and they fell to the ground in a tangle, she gripped the shaft in her hand in that strange way, and the ends telescoped out once more with incredible speed, angled downwards in front of her. There was a pause, then a rasping hiss from behind her, the spear tipping as the weight of the figure that had dropped down behind her came to rest on it, the razored end pierced through the head from bottom to top. Another squeeze of the shaft retracted the spear back to dormancy, and the alien that had impaled itself finished its journey to the floor, an acrid stench accompanying the soft thump as it sprawled, dead. Her eyes never left the drama reaching its inevitable conclusion inside the alley.
Another of the black aliens was down, unmoving. Of the three remaining, one had lost an arm, but it didn't seem to care. One was straddling the hunter now, trying to come close, swift flickers of movement from the front of its head darting in, the hunter frantically trying to twist out of the way as it reached across to fumble with a blocky shape on its forearm. A segmented tail curved up then dropped, impaling the hapless hunter through the shoulder, pinning it to the ground. A howl came from the alleyway, echoing off the walls and spilling out into the deserted street, to be cut off sharply as a head came down one final time, neon green fountaining up. The armless creature gave a hiss of victory with its surviving kin, then fell to the ground, twitching weakly.
A bitter tasting mist began to permeate her senses, both from behind and from the alleyway. With a shrug, she pressed herself off the wall, gripped the spear once more to extend it, and entered the alleyway, walking purposefully towards the scene of carnage. The two aliens still standing turned their heads towards her, the one that had pinned the hunter and delivered the death blow gave a warning hiss, pulling its tail free from the body underneath and rearing up. As she drew level with one of the hunters that had fallen before she arrived, she crouched down, then straightened up once more, not taking her eyes from the survivors of the battle. She allowed a mirthless grin to cross her face briefly before she started forwards once more, idly beginning to rock the spear in her right hand, her left now holding a sword-length blade.
The two aliens still standing stepped tentatively towards her, but were startled when she suddenly broke into a sprint directly at them. With a quick swipe at one that elicited a screech of pain, she ducked under the arms of the other and embedded the spear into the forearm of the last fallen hunter, electric sparks arcing from the device it had been reaching for at the end. Without pausing, she released the spear and dropped into a roll over the fallen warrior's legs, coming back up to her feet just beyond, a second sword in her hand. Now her grin was for real, as she reversed the blades to rest against the inside of her forearms, the two slender figures turning fast to face her again.
The position of the blades seemed to make them invisible to the aliens as they came for her, their reaching arms met with razor honed metal that cut deeply into their hands and wrists. Dark droplets landed on the concrete, pitting it and producing more of the bitter tasting mist, but she continued to parry the reaching hands with the blades, stepping backwards and turning from side to side to avoid the menacing jaws of her attackers. The one that had finished the last hunter pressed in close, jaws gaping as something shot out of its mouth towards her face, then reared back in pain as she brought one arm across to block, severing the flesh just behind the row of razor teeth that had been aimed for her. Seeing the creature rear back, she quickly reversed one of the swords once more, and brought it upwards to pin its lower jaw to the roof of its mouth, the blade penetrating deep into the head itself.
Without another thought, she released her grip on the blade, but was slammed by the weight of the remaining unharmed attacker. Falling to the ground on her back, she gasped as white hot streaks of pain ran down her sides, claws raking at her. She tucked her legs up pressing her feet against the chest of the other, and let the momentum of the roll take her almost over backwards before pushing her legs out with a loud cry of defiance. The alien on top of her found itself airborne over her head, unable to stop itself being thrown, before landing hard on a stack of pallets, splintering it to firewood.
As it shook its head, trying to regain its feet, she finished the roll and came smoothly back up. Her eyes looked on at the last remaining threat, and she waited as it started coming towards her, fast! Just as it was about to reach her, arms outstretched, she spun around on one foot, moving to one side of the onrush, and brought the arm holding the sword around in a flat arc. The creature's head, severed at the neck, dropped to the ground beside her, but the body took a few more moments to realize this, traveling a few more steps before plowing into the ground.
She stood there for a few moments, her body still in the position it reached at the end of the killing swing, before slowly straightening up, her breathing heavy but steady. She glanced at the corpses littering the alleyway, and noticed the alien that had lost an arm was still twitching. Before she could move towards it to finish it off, it stiffened and gave a final gasp as a hole appeared in its head. The air shimmered and like a periscope emerging from the sea, a spear started to be revealed. She stood motionless as it became fully visible, looking much the same as the one she had used, followed by the figure of the one holding it – another hunter. As the newcomer turned its head towards her, she bowed her head, bringing her hands across her chest in an obvious salute.
The warrior before her differed from the fallen ones. Taller, with darker skin, it was dressed more ornately. It looked at her for a long few seconds, then inclined its head a fraction. Taking this as her cue, she broke her salute and moved to the head of the slender creature she had decapitated.
The new hunter pulled the spear free of the armless alien, and looked at her curiously, its head cocked to one side while she crouched down beside the head she had removed, and began working the sword blade in its mouth, prying loose four of the metallic looking teeth there. She seemed uncaring when the air shimmered again either side of her, bringing into view two more hunters. They seemed uncertain of what to do, and looked to the darker figure, querulous clicks and growls coming from somewhere underneath steel gray masks., but it just kept watching her as she completed her grizzly task.
As she straightened up, one of the two hunters flanking her clicked something that made her eyes narrow fractionally, but she gave no other indication she had heard (or understood) it. Stepping forwards towards the darker one again, she reversed the sword blade once more, the hilt lying on her open palm, and after a brief glance at her face, it was accepted. She nodded a bow once more, and began to walk towards the alley entrance, but suddenly stopped and turned to face the hunter that had made the clicking sounds she had reacted to.
She pointed to an obviously human skull dangling from the warrior's waist, and calmly said "If humans were really inferior, that would make your trophies have no value. There's a good reason they are valued. I suggest you remember it. Overconfidence is dangerous.". The hunter stepped back, stunned by this remark, but she said nothing more, and started walking towards the entrance to the alleyway again. The hunter made as if to follow, but a sharp noise from the first one gave it pause. More clicks and growls were exchanged between the three, but she paid it no attention, and as she rounded the corner back onto the street, the three had already begun to busy themselves around the site of the battle.