Disclaimer: I own nothing except my OCs.
She sat cross-legged in her open bay window, her back leaning against the cream-painted wall behind her. Andromeda let out a deep breath, blowing a stray strand of black hair from in front of her eyes. She rested her head back against the wall and gazed outside longingly.
The knee-length shorts and thin spaghetti-strap top she wore did nothing to insulate the heat, but, even so, the heat inside her house was overwhelming. Even with the window wide open, she couldn't push back the suffocating feeling that the air in her house was pushing on her.
She just felt so... enclosed as she sat, trapped in her own home. Especially as she watched her dad and the group of the other so-called 'men' that lived in the village packing up their cars for their latest hunting trip. She wished so much that she could go with them, but she remembered all too well how that conversation had gone.
"This time it's guys only, Romy, hun," her dad had said.
Guys only, she scoffed. He made it sound as if, just because she was a woman- no, a girl, as he still thought of her- she was somehow inferior to the "guys" who were, for some reason, allowed to go out hunting. For fuck's sake, she thought. She was nineteen years old and a damn-sight better shot then most of the men heading out that morning.
And it pissed her off. Because she knew it; and she knew that her dad knew it too. But still, she was stuck in her empty, stuffy house, watching as they flaunted their trip in front of her. She soon caught sight of Seth Cooper and was quick to meet his eye.
He was her next-door neighbour, the same age, and a damn pain in the arse. So it didn't surprise Romy when he shot her a very self-satisfied smirk and waved goodbye to her. All she did in return was to raise her hand and flip him off, turning away from the window. Gods, she hated that prick. And the fact that he was going out on this hunt bothered her to no end.
Scowling and pulling the window shut, Romy slipped her legs off the bay window and placed her bare feet on the hard-wood flooring. Fuck this, she thought. She'd be damned if she was just going to sit around the house while they all went out and had fun.
Running upstairs, Romy found her things in her bedroom quickly. She always kept a light bag prepared for anytime she felt like getting out of the house for a few days. It would be perfect for this occasion. As would her FWB 127 that stood proudly on her dresser table. Quickly pulling on her trainers and tying them tightly, Romy left the house through the back door.
Her dad had already said his goodbyes earlier, so she knew that he wouldn't notice that she wasn't in the house anymore. But he might notice her trying to sneak her way into the trunk of his car if she wasn't careful. So careful was exactly what she was as she crept around her house and around to the front garden.
The trunk of her dad's car looked to have only just been closed. And, with that Romy headed, full speed, for it, and popped the lid quickly. Thankfully, though the trunk was nearly full, she saw just enough room to slip herself inside it and pull the lid down over her.
It was a little awkward, crammed in the trunk with all her dad's things, lying sideways with her gun placed carefully above her. The dark didn't bother her, and she'd never been particularly affected with motion sickness, so the secret ride she was taking was nowhere near as bad as it could have been.
With nothing to do, Romy would admit that things soon just got tedious though. She almost fell asleep with the dark and the steady hum of the car's engine as they travelled along their way. Romy didn't sleep though; there was no point. She knew that they could arrive at the edge of the forest that they always hunted in at any point.
And she had to be on target for the argument she was bound to have with her dad as soon as he discovered that she'd tagged along like this. And when light flooded into her quiet little compartment, she knew that she had been right about an impending argument. Romy squinted to see the figure breaking the shine of the bright light outside the trunk.
"Romy?" her dad said confusedly.
"Afternoon, dad," she replied, slapping his arm as she pulled a long leg out of the car and clambered out.
She was met with bemused stares from all the men as they noticed her presence.
"Oh, what the fuck? What's she doing here?" Romy heard Seth yell as he got out of his uncle's car.
"Shut the fuck up, arsehole," she replied, giving him a harsh glare.
"Seriously, hun, what are you doing here?" had dad asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.
Romy shrugged his hand away and frowned. Her dad recognised the way she folded her arms as her initial standpoint for this argument; he recognised it because that's exactly what her mother used to do in the same situation.
"I told you that this was meant to be-"
"Yeah, guys only, I know. And that's bullshit, dad."
He gave her a levelling look of disapproval that she ignored completely.
"Why the hell is today any different to any other hunting trip we've taken?"
"Because it's a bunch of guys doing what guys are best at," Seth smirked, having made his way over to where she stood.
"And what's that supposed to be?"
"Hunting, dumbass," he answered snidely.
Romy scoffed at him and rolled her eyes, trying to hold back a laugh.
"Did you just say that you were the best at hunting? Fuck, you couldn't even hit brick wall if you stood right in front of it."
Romy's dad, George, ran his hand through his short tufts of dark hair and turned from the two teenagers to go and speak with the others. He had to explain the situation to them and the fact that he was sure that there was no way he could get Romy to go home now unless he drove her there himself and handcuffed her to their house.
But that meant that he'd left Romy and Seth to square up to each other, their argument bound to continue. Standing at a respectable five foot ten inches, her height almost matched his. So when she stared at him with those deep and penetrating blue eyes, he got the full effect of her angry glare.
"I can shoot better than you can," he grunted.
That time she didn't bother holding back the laugh that burst its way out. She was sure that she couldn't have held it back if she'd tried.
"On what planet?" Romy exclaimed, smirking back at him.
Seth never got to offer any angry retort to that question though. Because as he opened his mouth to speak, a bright light flashed from above them and they knew no more.
The sound of her dad's voice brought her out of the sleep she found herself in. She was lying on something that seemed to be soft but hard enough to not really be comfortable. Lifting her head, Romy opened her eyes. The left side of her face was criss-crossed with the imprint of the long grass she'd been lying on, but she didn't notice.
Because Romy was too busy focussing on the fact that it was taking all too long for her eyes to focus on the face of her dad. What... the fuck? she thought groggily. Everything felt incredibly strange, as if it were happening in slow motion. Even her dad's voice as he called her name to wake her up.
As her eyes started to come into focus, and the men around her stopped fuzzing into blurry detail, Romy put her head in her hands. She tried to figure out what was going on as she looked at the ground beneath her. When she felt slightly better, Romy looked up and took in the situation around her.
All of them were there, but where there was, she couldn't say. They were in some sort of... jungle. Don't be stupid, she told herself. That makes no sense. There are no jungles in the UK. She frowned as she tried to understand what had happened; why her head felt so funny. Why she'd been unconscious.
"What the fuck, guys? Did one of you drug me?"
"Don't be thick, Romy. I'd never let them do that," he dad said from her side.
"Right," she muttered quietly under her breath.
Romy frowned as she stared around at the men with her. There were ten of them, eleven if she counted herself. And she'd only trust a certain number of them in this odd circumstance. She found the faces one by one; first was her dad, and, of course, she trusted him; knowing that she would be safe with him whatever the matter.
He was talking to the grey-eyed Leo, another man that Romy knew well enough to trust. Leo was the village's doctor and had been a family friend since her parents had moved to the village. Plus, he'd already virtually saved Romy's life once before when she'd tripped and cut herself badly with a kitchen knife. She would have bled out if he hadn't stitched her back together.
Romy's eyes trailed over to the next group of men, and she quickly identified the two men who worked for the local builders company. Jake was only a few years older than her. She trusted him. She'd grown up with him as the sort of older brother figure in her life. Jake had always looked out for her after her mother had deserted Romy and her dad. He was almost like family- more so than the woman who had abandoned her all those years ago.
Next to Jake was Terry, his boss. Romy didn't really know him; she'd passed him when visiting Jake and he'd always smiled at her, but she didn't know him. She'd never seen Terry do anything that meant she shouldn't trust him though, so her eyes turned to the other men left.
Rick, the butcher. Andrew, the man from across the street. Ryan, the manager at the local supermarket. Dave, the horticultural enthusiast. Eddie, the owner of the local pub that Romy wasn't ashamed to say that she frequented relatively often.
And then there was Seth, Romy's prick of a next-door neighbour. The two had never gotten along, and Romy knew exactly why that was. And that was simply because of the fact that he was an utter arsehole. Romy stared at him and sighed. Isn't it enough to wake up in this weird place without him having to be here too? she thought, annoyed, and turned back to her dad.
"So what-?" she started.
"I'll be fucked if I know!" Andrew yelled.
"We don't know," George replied, his brows scrunching until they met in the middle.
"Anyone tried phoning for help?" she asked.
"No service," Rick scowled back.
"I don't think this is the forest we parked outside," commented Leo.
"No shit, Sherlock," Dave interrupted from where he was crouched beside a plant that Romy had never seen before.
"These plants, I've not seen any of them before... We're definitely not in the UK. These plants just wouldn't survive there. The climate here's too hot, too humid to be anywhere near the UK."
Romy frowned; as did the others. Dave was the village's resident horticultural enthusiast, or 'plant nut' as Romy had named him; and if he said that this place wasn't in the UK, then Romy would be damned if she'd disagree with him. She could tell from the worried glances that the men around her were throwing each other that they felt the same.
"So where the fuck are we?" Rick asked, throwing his hands in the air.
"No idea," Dave said.
"Nowhere that I recognise."
"Me either," Terry said, his deep voice rough.
That was another thing that they had to worry about. Terry was pretty well-travelled; often leaving town to go on month-long trips to go hiking.
"Let me get this straight, we're in some weird, unidentifiable forest-type place with no idea how we got here?" Ryan asked.
"I'd say it's more of a jungle than a forest," Dave put in.
"Like that makes a difference," Seth sneered at the older man.
"Either way we've been fucked over somehow," Romy said, frowning at Seth.
Seth shot her a glare that she rolled her eyes at.
"Okay, so what's the last thing you all remember?" Jake asked, speaking for the first time.
"The last thing I remember is that those two were arguing," he continued, nodding his head at both Romy and then Seth.
"Yeah, and then there was a light and then-" Andrew started.
"-Nothing," George finished, putting a hand on Romy's shoulder.
"Same here," Eddie said, rubbing his hand over his bald head.
"Well this is fucking marvellous," Romy muttered, too low for the others to hear.
"Right... First things first then; I've got my gun still, how about the rest of you?" Leo said, the voice of common sense among them.
The chorus of voices that came in response all confirmed that yes, all of them had still got their guns. But that just confused them.
"That's weird," Andrew said, and the others turned to him.
"You'd think if we'd be kidnapped or whatever that they would have taken our weapons."
"That's true," George frowned.
"Unless... Unless maybe they wanted us to have our weapons," Jake said.
"And why would they want that?" Seth asked unhelpfully.
"I don't know. What's in this place? Animals-wise, I mean?"
Many shoulders shrugging was the only response the others could give. As none of them knew where they were, none of them could say for certain what beasts could be out there. For all they knew, they could be in some far corner of Asia and a tiger might pounce at them at any moment.
"Whatever's out there, we've got our guns so we should be okay," Leo reasoned.
"All that we have to do now is find a way out of this place so we can figure out where we are-" George started seriously.
"-And what fucker brought us here," Eddie put in, hefting his gun up as he stood up.
"So we go then?" Romy asked.
Her dad simply nodded in response.
They were surrounded by tall trees and draping vines. The ground was relatively flat apart from the fallen logs and slopes of greenery, so there was no easy way to determine which way was to higher ground. That was why it really didn't seem to matter which way they went and when they headed off to their right, no one questioned it.
Some of the older men, Romy's dad included, headed up the group. Romy found herself at the back of the group, unfortunately for her, right beside Seth. For her part, Romy just tried to take no notice of every remark that he made- and he made a lot of remarks.
Romy tried to ignore him, treating him as if he was some sort of fly buzzing around her. She just had to spend her energy resisting the urge to swat him away. Her silence seemed to do nothing to deter Seth though, who, Romy thought, seemed to be alive only to annoy the crap out of her.
"Still pissy about almost getting left behind, Rom?"
"Shut up, wanker," she said, finally having had enough of hearing his voice.
"Oh, I'm hurt by your cutting response," Seth said sarcastically.
"Obviously, I didn't get left behind, because I'm here, aren't I, stupid?"
What almost seemed to be anger flashed in his eyes.
He recovered well though and sneered as he said, "Well we didn't want you here."
"Seriously? That's the best you can come up with? Besides, don't you think I've got more important issues to deal with right now than your stupid little attitude?" Romy answered, turning on Seth.
"Romy. Seth. Enough," Jake said turning around to come between the two of them and motioning Seth forward.
Reluctantly, Seth walked away, tutting as he did. And Romy gave Jake a look of feigned innocence as he stood beside her.
With a shake of his head, Jake muttered, "Come on."
After another five minutes of walking, Romy asked, "So what d'you think is going on here?"
"I dunno. It's weird."
"Tell me about it. I just wanna know what the Hell's going on here," she said as she readjusted how her bag rested on her shoulder.
They were silent for another couple of minutes before Jake said, "I don't get why they'd have brought us here. I mean, why us?"
"All we were doing was going hunting. Hey, maybe the ones who kidnapped us are in like an anti-hunting movement or something," he suggested.
"Yeah, and maybe we got abducted by aliens," Dave shot back at them jokingly.
"Is it really so unlikely that an anti-hunting movement brought us here?" Romy asked seriously.
"Yes, it is," Leo replied.
"They wouldn't have the power or the means to do it. Besides, there's only eleven of us. Don't you think they'd have chosen another bigger, high-status group of hunters if they were trying to make a point."
"I think someone's just trying to fuck with us," Rick said from a way forward.
"But still, why us?" Jake asked.
"Who knows," Romy muttered, shaking her head as the group continued.
They walked on in silence for a time, deciding that it would be better if they did not alert anyone- or anything- that they didn't know might be out there, to their presence. The trees that the group found themselves surrounded by seemed as if they would never end. It seemed that they had walked a long way, for hours even, without finding anything.
Eventually, they paused, and, running a hand across his chin, George said, "We should take a rest."
And before anyone said anything more, Seth had flopped down on the ground. A couple of the others joined him in trying to take the moments' rest that they were allowed.
"Tired, Seth?" Romy taunted him, unable to hold the smirk back from her expression.
Seth shot her a look, but otherwise ignored her and tried to recover himself after the initial lengthy long trek. He never had been very fit, but Romy was sure that he was just over-exaggerating as he took in a long, deep breath that looked almost arduous. Romy rolled her eyes at him. Is this really what dad thought to bring along hunting instead of me? Fuck that.
"Shit, it's hot," Ryan exclaimed lowly, wiping sweat from his forehead.
Romy couldn't disagree with the man. It was hotter here than it had been in her home- however far away that was from this jungle. And the humidity was almost choking. She didn't think she'd ever been anywhere so enclosing- and that was compared to how suffocating her home had been earlier that day.
"How big is this place?" Terry asked as he looked around in the endless jungle expanse before and behind them.
No one had an answer for him though. What is with this string of utterly pointless questions? Romy thought. Don't they understand that none of us know anything about this place? She shook her head, a gesture noticed by none of the others.
Their rest stop didn't last long, and the group decided that it would be better to keep going whilst they had the light. And since none of them knew how long that they'd been unconscious, they didn't know how much daylight they had left. So the pace they set was as quick as they could go without running.
That was, until they came across the footprint on the floor that was unlike anything that they'd seen before. Leo was the one who saw it first, that strange imprint in the mud. It was like a huge paw print, one with four thick and huge claws obviously protruding.
"What the fuck is that?" Eddie asked, his expression a mix of fear and bewilderment.
Romy felt like echoing the sentiment. Anything with claws like that... It didn't bear thinking about. But they couldn't afford not to think about it when they were inside this jungle with the prospect of coming across this thing at any moment. "Okay, we should just- we should just keep moving," George said with a frown.
"Hang on a sec, shouldn't we figure out what this thing is first?" Seth asked.
"How are we gunna figure that out, then?" Romy asked him.
"Could be a bear," Andrew suggested.
"That's not a bear print," Rick said, shaking his head.
"Big cat, maybe?" Dave put in.
"Not a big cat print either," Rick answered.
"Seriously, do you guys not pay attention? We're supposed to be hunters."
"Well forgive me for not knowing the prints of random animals that live in countries that I'm never going to hunt in," Andrew said, sarcastically.
"Forget it," George interceded.
"None of us know what that thing is, but if we don't get out of here, we may just find out. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd rather not meet whatever that thing is."
"Agreed," Jake said with a small nod.
But before they could start walking once more, they heard something. A noise that was close enough to have them all raise their weapons- the motion quickened by the memory of the mystery creature's claws. If that thing was out there, then they certainly hoped that their guns would be enough to stop it. The size of the footprint had Romy doubting it though.
They waited in silence, listening out for whatever it was that they'd heard. Let it be a bird, Romy thought, hoping that they weren't about to meet a creature that they couldn't take down. Nothing came though. Nothing even moved. So when Eddie fired a single shot into the jungle, all of them were surprised. A few of them even jumped.
"What did you do that for?" George, who was next to him, asked.
"Something made that noise, didn't it?" Eddie started.
"I was just-"
Eddie never got to finish that sentence. Because his attention was distracted by the three red dots that made a triangular shape on his chest. He moved his hand over it in an attempt to touch it. Only Eddie's hand passed right through it. It was a light, almost like a laser pointer. And as Eddie looked up at the trees in front of them to try and identify who was pointing at him, there was nothing there. No one to see.
"What the fuck is this?" he said.
Famous last words? Probably not. But they were Eddie's. Unless you counted the gurgling sound of blood as it congealed in his throat. The hole blossomed in his chest in an instant, following a quick and sudden blot of light.
"Jesus Christ!" Seth yelled, his eyes wide.
"Run!" Leo yelled over the shouts and exclamations of shock and horror.
Romy didn't need telling twice. Neither did the others. They ran through the trees in the opposite direction that the shot that had killed Eddie came from. Branches hit their faces, their arms. It didn't stop them from running. Romy doubted if anything could. But they did eventually; all of them breathless.
"Fuck, man," breathed Rick.
"Shit..." Terry muttered.
"What... the fuck... was that?" Seth wheezed.
"They... killed Eddie..." Dave said, just recovering his breath.
"Who?" Jake asked, looking around at Romy and the men beside him.
"The ones who brought us here?" George put in.
"Why would they... Why would someone...?" Andrew trailed off.
"Whatever did that to Eddie was not the creature that made that footprint. Whatever did that, shot Eddie on purpose."
The group stared at George until he continued.
"Which means that they brought us here for a reason."
"What reason?" Romy asked, not really sure if she wanted to know the answer.
His face morphed into a grim expression and he looked around the group seriously.
"Some sort of sick game?" he suggested.
"A game?" Ryan said.
"What the fuck?"
"That can't be right, what person would do that?" Leo said.
"The sick bastard that just killed Eddie," Rick said, distastefully.
"Look, we've gotta get out of here. We've gotta be more careful. Because whatever that thing was, we didn't see it. We have to be more alert," George said, assuming control of the group as he so often had done in the past.
"No shouting; no bullshit," he added, directing the comment to Romy and Seth.
Romy nodded. This situation was far more serious than a petty grudge. A man was dead. And for all they knew, any one of them could be next.
"Okay, so how do we get out?" Andrew asked with a frown.
A short silence echoed in response.
"I could climb one of those trees and see if I can see the edge of the jungle," Romy piped up, her voice small.
Her dad didn't want to allow it. He didn't want to even think about what might happen should she fall. But he knew that she was the best climber, the lightest and the most agile of them. She had the best chance of making it up and down safely. Even with that being the case, George still didn't like it.
"Go ahead," Rick said, nudging her arm slightly.
She'd known that Rick had never really liked her that much. Rick had always been one to think about himself- and this situation was no different. Romy waited for her dad to nod at her before turning to one of the trees however. Tossing her bag to Jake, who caught it expertly, Romy threw her gun over her shoulder and hung it on the strap.
She quickly found a tree that was covered in strong-looking vines. She started climbing and was glad to find that the vines held as well as they looked like they should. As good as Romy was at climbing, she still felt nervous. The heat was affecting her; her hands were sweating and she hoped that that wouldn't make her slip.
It didn't, thankfully. She daren't look down though; knowing that if she did, she might lose her nerve. And it didn't take her all that long to reach the top of the tree, but what she saw when she got there did exactly that, however. Peeking out over the tops of the other trees, Romy was able to see something that she never expected to see. Something that had her making her way back down the tree quicker, probably, than she should have done.
"Romy! Slow down," she heard her dad call from far below.
But she couldn't slow down. Not after what she'd seen.
"Seriously, Rom; be careful," Jake yelled.
But she was back on the ground before she knew it. And, eyes wide, Romy turned to the others. She didn't know where to begin. How she could start to explain what she'd seen and make them believe her without thinking that she'd lost her marbles, Romy did not know.
"Romy?" George said.
"What did you see, hun?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Romy said blankly.
"Well, hun, you kind of have to tell us? What was it? Did you see the edge of the jungle?" George asked, trying to determine what was wrong with his daughter.
She gave a nod and pointed to the left.
"It's not far off that way."
"So what's got you so spooked?" Seth sneered.
Romy bit back an angry retort; even if he wasn't going to behave, they were in too much trouble for her to bother with him.
"Listen, don't think I'm crazy, 'kay?" she said, staring at the others.
"Oh yeah, and that's supposed to fill us with confidence?" Dave said as he rolled his eyes.
Romy frowned at him, but continued after a deep breath anyway.
"Well... I saw- out there- there's-"
"Spit it out, girl," Terry said loudly.
"Terry," Jake warned.
"Planets," she finished.
The silence that followed was stunned. Disbelieving, even. Not that Romy had expected them to believe her. It was so ridiculous that she had even almost doubted her own eyes as she'd stared out into the sky she'd seen broken with gaseous spheres and colourful planets.
"This isn't the time for jokes, Romy," her dad cautioned her.
"I'm not joking, dad. Seriously, if you'd have seen it..."
"That's just stupid... Planets," Ryan muttered.
"Yeah, well you'll see when we get to the edge of the jungle. You'll see that I'm not lying. And you'll see that whatever this is, it's fucked up."
After a lot of arguing, the men agreed that they could discuss Romy's sanity after they reached the edge of the jungle. All of them were still so painfully aware that Eddie's murderer could still be out there and the fact that they had to get out of there before they met the same fate.
As they started to trudge through the jungle once more though, the only thing on their minds was that they hoped Romy was wrong.
Author's Note: Well hello there. :) I have a few warnings for you guys.
Firstly, I have a tendency to start stories and then end up getting behind in updates. So I'll say now that updates might take a long while even though I have this entire story planned out.
Secondly, I'm a total noob at Predator Fanfiction. So please do forgive my limited knowledge. I'm trying to learn as much as I can as I'm writing this. But if any of you have any constructive criticism or advice, I'd be very much welcome to it.
Anyways, I hope you guys like it and please do let me know what you think. :)