NieR is Copyright Cavia and Square Enix, 2010. All original characters are property of the author. This is a work for entertainment and no profit will be made. A fiction by Sentionaut.

Ragged breath, aching legs. Twisting, bending, grasping for purchase, sliding. Flying, falling, pain. Still it comes again, violence and rage made flesh.

Beneath the Sleeping Moon – Pride

It was just below, nearly indistinguishable from the boulders it must have been using for respite from the oppressive seasonal heat. Kainé wasn't a patient woman by nature, and hunting anything other than shades required such an attribute. Neither was she stupid, which brought her to the current predicament. Boar hunting.

A dangerous endeavor, given the sheer bulk of the wild beast, and no less for the particular specimen she'd stumbled upon that afternoon. Usually, the things lazed about, resting or sunning themselves as they saw fit. Once in a while, she'd witnessed a pack of shades attack one of the beasts. It was always a sight no matter how it ended. Often the boar would win, scattering the smaller shades like leaves on the wind. Other times, usually when one of the larger shades joined up, the results were less in the animal's favor. When the little ones were armored, the boar fell quickly, unable to simply rend its foes asunder with its sharp tusks.

At the moment, the huntress wasn't concerned with shades. She'd been watchful for nearly half an hour now, not a single cloud in the sky and a sun that beat down on her mercilessly. It was a touch better now that she'd managed to scale up around the rocky outcropping, taking cover beneath two thin trees that swayed faintly when the dry breeze kicked across the plain.

In the past, she wouldn't have needed to resort to biding her time like this, having to make sure nothing was around to interfere. The last thing she wanted was to be interrupted. Or worse, caught off guard in the middle of dealing with the hulking beast below. Before, she'd had other options, a veritable bag of tricks to see her through, courtesy of that louse Tyrran.

Hell, she could have leaped straight up the small outcropping with hardly any effort, or pulled a vanishing act and slipped meters away instantly with minimal thought, much in the same way shades seemed to appear out of thin air. It had been a convenient way to travel, and certainly one of the things she missed. Being human was hard, and being hated regardless, even more so.

But, there was also a freedom that came along with the return of her own body. She could mold it as she saw fit, temper herself against greater odds. Defeating a boar was only one of many first steps on the path she'd set herself down, and it was high time to put her mettle to the test.

Cracking her knuckles, she took the great sawed blades from their place at her hips, and brought them to bear. The metal was warm, though the dulled surface on the sides of each weapon reflected little sunlight. They were meant for rending and tearing flesh, cutting shades in half with a single swipe. These blades weren't fancy, they were fit only for a butcher, made for inspiring bowel churning fear.

The less stupid shades ran when confronted with such things, and others fled simply when they noticed Kainé herself. It was the best sensation, one that tightened her belly. She wanted that feeling when the boar noticed her. No living thing ought stand on its feet in her presence. The fuckers should bow and scrape, scramble to cut their own bellies in supplication. Such an experience would be...she had no ready comparison. The mental image alone sped up her heart rate, and hitched the breath in her throat. Kainé wanted that feeling again, and would do almost anything for it.

Steeling herself, the black gloves on her hands creaked as she loosened her grip slightly, tensing her legs in preparation to leap down and cut the shitty head from the behemoth's body. She was pretty sure it wasn't going to be that easy, but getting in the first few blows was going to be key. Catching big shits, like the boars, by surprise was her best shot at winning a confrontation in her current condition.

Right now, she just needed to fell the beast. There was no such thing as a fair fight, not when it had so much weight and muscle on her. Besides, once it was dead, she could take its tusks and that would go far in solving her transportation problem. Why walk everywhere when there was a better way to travel?

Slowing her breathing, she crouched slightly and was airborne before she could reconsider, blades held high overhead for the heaviest downward swing she could muster. Soundless, a specter of death in flight, that's what she was. Kainé struck the boar's upper back with her knees and lashed down her swords crosswise, fully intent on shearing off the gigantic boar's head. The second she hit, she could tell the angle was all wrong. The beast was already gaining its feet when one blade bounced off the shoulder blade, and the other caught several inches deep, cutting through matted fur and into the first layer of corded muscle that covered its neck.

"You little bitch," she cursed, clamping down hard with her thighs, muscle straining to keep her position as the boar rose, bellowing in surprise and anger. "Where do you think you're going, huh? Just fucking lay back down and die," she spat, sawing the caught blade deeper and swinging the other in an arc to the top of the enraged animal's skull, intent on caving it in one way or the other.

Again, the wild boar was wholly uncooperative, and it moved its bulk forward suddenly, dashing with monstrous force toward another pile of rocks. Kainé was having none of that, and her second blow struck down, clipping the edge of the boar's eye socket. She almost fell backwards then, losing the tenuous grip with her legs as the beastly thing's churning legs roiled the musculature beneath her. The sole saving grace was the sword firmly buried partway into the neck in front of her. However, the weight pulling at her other arm threatened to pull her off toward that side instead.

Before she could regain the advantage her position gave her, beast and rider struck the boulders head on. Kainé jerked forward at the sudden forced stop, tumbling over the boar's head and completely losing her hold on the sword in its neck. There was no time to brace herself as she flew, just barely clearing the top of the massive rock formation. Tumbling in the air, she tried to go limp before her arc ended.

For an all too brief moment, the sensation of flight twisted in her gut, and then it was gone, replaced with the pain of meeting hard packed earth, and the thinnest carpet of grass she could have hoped to find. Something somewhere in her body made a noise she didn't care for, but the pain of landing on her shoulder was far worse, mitigated vaguely by her body continuing to roll. Along the way, her remaining sword slipped from her glove. The absence didn't have time to register, though she distantly thanked her luck that she hadn't landed on the blade itself. Rocks and pebbles were bad enough as it turned out.

Groaning and muttering dangerous words, the lightly dressed warrior struggled to rise, feeling the absolute need to find her feet, and regain her weapon. The boar's had notoriously hard heads, and impossibly thick skulls, so much so that they seemed to make a game of smashing into boulders, and ramming anything hapless enough to stand directly before the damned beasts. Attacking them from their flank was the best bet, as they turned slow enough, but the boars also tended to thrash about, or even simply roll over, easily crushing something as small as a human in the process. Besides, fighting one that way took even longer than her preferred method, which as she'd just proved, was likely a death sentence of a different sort.

Getting to her feet took precious seconds, stretched to longer by mild disorientation. She hadn't just hit her head, she'd struck her whole body. Swaying on her feet, she looked up and realized just how far she'd been tossed. Her left arm dangled uselessly at her side, though it didn't feel broken. Dislocated then, she decided, blinking to clear the fog from her vision. There, a few meters to her right lay her sword sticking halfway, up at an angle, from a thatch of grass.

Landing on that would have gutted her with the way it was resting. She'd suffered worse, but this time, there was no rapid healing to bring her back from the edge of death. "Screw you," she spat in the boar's general direction, as she heard the thud of heavy footfalls begin to round the boulders toward her side. Limping lamely to her fallen weapon, she retrieved it with no little pain, and brought it up. The movement took more effort than she would have liked, and there wasn't time to reset her left arm either. Not before the beast caught sight of her. It was much faster than she'd anticipated. Outrunning it now was definitely not going to end up in her favor.

When the wild boar reappeared, it looked none the worse for wear, despite the hunk of steel jutting from just behind it's head. It chuffed and snorted, blowing foul breath from its nose, though Kainé could only imagine the last as she wasn't close enough to really tell. Though judging from how bad it smelled when she'd been atop the thing, it had to be fetid.

This one had doubtless eaten its own body weight in shades. Now that she was looking at it head on, she could make out scores of scars and slashes across its broad chest where the fur was missing. Such a boar had obviously seen years of combat on the plains, surviving against beast and shade alike. One of its tusks was half gone, an old wound as far as she could tell.

The facts piled up did little to tip the odds in her favor. However a slim chance was still a chance, after all. Gritting her teeth, Kainé made her choice, bolting for the edge of the plateau she'd found the boar milling about on. It wasn't far, and she might even make it before getting trampled. Fleeing for the river was her best bet, though it was going to be a long way down, and taking another fall so soon was going to hurt like hell.

Worse, it meant giving her sword up to the boar, which pissed her off just enough to make sure she came out alive and kicking, just so she could come back and take what was rightfully hers. The ground beneath her feet ran out surprisingly fast. The river grew even quicker, rising up to slap her bodily, as the water's embrace obliterated all thought, the boar forgotten, high above.

Author's Notes: This brings the prologue full circle, and ends the introduction. The out of sequence nature was how I chose to represent the differing styles of game play within NieR. As such, the next installment will be a return to, more traditional, linear style. I hope readers were able to enjoy the format as presented. Feedback, and constructive criticism are much appreciated. I would certainly like to be able to take reader opinions into consideration for the coming parts of this tale. Thanks for taking the time to read my work.