The Disclaimer is in the first chapter. If you're too lazy to go there, its your problem. So please don't try to make it mine, okay?
Two weeks passed quickly, scavenging fruit that had been deemed edible, building furniture from the dead wood downhill, and generally trying to make surviving easier and more comfortable. One day I accidentally ate the fruit the prolemuris had thrown at me at the beginning of my trip. I had just grabbed a couple fruit out of my pantry and started to eat them, saving the fleshy outer shell for my expeditions as trying to chew them was often like eating rubber, when I noticed that the fruit I had just finished two thirds of was the unknown one I had brought with me to the camp.
At first I was immensely worried. Had I just poisoned myself through carelessness? With some fruit, one had to take out the seeds before eating, because they contained the poison, others were wholly poisonous. Had I jeopardized my quest to survive until the next ISV arrived? I was sure there would be at least one other coming, one can't just turn them around and when one arrived, the next was already on its way. Still, would I die now, just a few weeks into my quest?
As it turned out, I didn't die. Didn't even get a little sick. I counted myself lucky and was even more careful about my food afterward. I also didn't store unknown fruit I wanted to have a look at together with known fruit I wanted to eat anymore.
The next day, I could hear bellowing and crashes nearing my camp. By the time I had gotten to the suit and started it up, a hammerhead had broken into the clearing further down the hill. It seemed to be smaller than the ones who had functioned as line-breakers against the RDA ground attack barely three weeks ago. I slowed my movements as I thought back. Had it really been just three weeks? Seemed more like a few months to me...
The sound of barking and hissing mingling with the deep bellows of the hammerhead brought me out of my thoughts. A pack of about fourteen viper-wolves had followed the hammerhead and pounced just as it stumbled on the suddenly uneven ground. I could only watch as its left legs folded underneath its body and it fell to the ground, squishing two of the small predators that had been on that side, trying to penetrate its hide with their claws. The others quickly swarmed over the fallen giant, trying to find a weak spot and begin their meal.
I couldn't let them feed. They'd be there for days and the only reason why they hadn't noticed me yet was their fixation on the hammerhead. So I rushed towards them, yelling through my suits speakers and waving its arms about. They only noticed me when I picked the first from the fallen beast and flung him into the trees. One after another, heads turned and snarled at the one who would dare to deny them their prey. When a second of their number went flying, one tried to leap at their attacker, fangs bared and snarling. I deflected him with the free arm and he crashed to the ground next to the prone hammerhead, slinking away as I continued screaming and throwing his kin back to the jungle. They bounced pretty well, considering their sinewy stature, and picked themselves up to run into the tree line as soon as they stopped rolling. The last four ran of their own accord, casting hungry looks back at the hammerhead I defended.
Now that I could take a better look at it, it was clear that its smaller size was because of it being a younger version of the beasts I saw three weeks ago. It seemed to have fallen unconscious from exhaustion or pain, considering that one half of the hammer at its forehead was bent backwards by about forty-five degrees and the bent part was swollen and an angry red in color. I wondered if it had run into a tree at full speed to receive that sort of damage, at least until I saw the metal embedded into the hard skin of its head.
I'd have recognized those parts anywhere, even as broken and splintered as they now where. They originated from the inner workings of a AMP-suits arm-servo. Apparently this beast had participated in the charge against the RDA line and found the suits it smashed to be a bit too resilient for its still hardening hammer.
Thinking about it, I realized that I would have to help it get better. It was in no condition to just walk away and if it stayed here, the viperwolves would surely return. While relatively safe in my suit, the idea to have to wear it all day irked me.
How does one go about helping a young hammerhead titanothere that managed to injure his hammer? None of the eggheads had written anything about this, as far as I knew anyway, and I somehow doubted that one of them had found themselves in a situation where they had to find out...
They did write that the hammer was mainly cartilage at the start and ossified during the maturing process. If that was true, my 'little' patient here looked like he had only just started maturing, then removing the swelling, returning the hammer to its old position and finally splinting the whole mess would probably do the trick.
The plan was easier to think up than to execute. First, I had to think of a way to reduce the swelling. I didn't trust the medications to work on just any life-form without side effects, so they were out. Draining the blood that caused the swelling was also out, as I didn't trust the hammerhead to not wake up during the process and draw the wrong conclusions. I finally settled on using ice, remembering how my mother had always used it whenever I hit my head somewhere. The fridge in the lab still worked, and I had been freezing cleaned water already. You never know when you might need clean water after all.
It took a few hours, but the swelling lessened. Very slowly. I wasn't very calm during that time, who knew how my patient would react, waking up to a metal thing, that had proven crunchy in the past, standing over him? He didn't wake though, so when I deemed the swelling to have lessened enough, I tried to bend the injured part of his hammer.