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After crying for so long, Luke sat on the front porch of the house, holding his legs together and his head in his knees. He had nearly been driven mad with grief; her Kit’s death had left an empty hole in his being. He may as well have been more dead than alive. He left Kit just once to save her life, and instead a hungry dinosaur took her away. He will never hear that sweet voice ever again. He will never wake up to her jumping on his bed, demanding for him to play with her. And it’s all his fault.

Clink… Clink… Clink...

It must've been almost sunrise when Luke heard someone approach him. It was the sound of clinking metal, getting more distinct with each step. He looked up and saw the figure of a man with a long javelin strapped to his back. His skin was the color of black coffee and was a patchwork of maims and scars, like as if he had been a veteran of numerous knife fights and violent battles. And it seemed he paid one of these fights with the price of his right eye, which was covered with an eyepatch. His dark red hair and the two bear-like ears sticking from his head was wild and greasy. His remaining eye was a fierce golden brown, like a wild beast’s. Everything he wore was made of black leather and his jacket was studded with shiny spikes.

Clink… Clink… Clink...

He approached Luke as if he knew him, his scarred face expressed what looked like boredom. He never broke eye contact with Luke. If anything, it was nothing short of a stare off. And still, the sound of clinking continued.

Clink… Clink…

The sound stopped when the man stood in front of Luke, just three feet away. He stared down at him, his eyes locked on him. Luke could see the stranger’s gaze with hidden malice and calculation. It was as if he was… assessing Luke.

They just stared at each other until the stranger spoke. “May I sit down?”

Luke couldn't speak. He would normally be afraid of someone with this guy's looks, but the death of his sister made his grief block out his fear. He had become an empty shell. Lacking his voice, he simply nodded and lowered his head, looking away.

The stranger came closer, slide his pack and his javelin off onto the ground by his feet, and sat down right next to Luke. From the corner of his eye, Luke watched as he pulled out a sharp knife with a twenty-five inch sawback blade. The polished, wooden hilt was worn with age. The scarred stranger eyes the knife, inspecting the unsettlingly sharp blade. He then reached into his pocket, pulls out what appeared to be a stone, which he used to sharpen the knife, even though it already looked like it could split a hair.

Luke and the stranger sat in silence, the only sound around them being the chirping of crickets and the scraping of stone on metal. They spoke no word for what felt like an eternity. A long, agonizing eternity.

“So,” the stranger said, finally breaking the silence, “you have my condolences for your loss.”

Luke swiftly turned his head and looked at the man, feeling surprised. Shockingly, this somehow gave him his ability to vocalize. “How did you know?”

The man smirked, but he didn't take his gaze off of his knife. “I know the look of a grieving individual if I saw it from a mile off. Believe me, I recognize that look from anywhere. There's simply no way to conceal it. Especially if it's as bad as yours. And besides, I can smell blood. The blood of a dinosaur, which is pretty easy to make out. And also the blood of a girl. I could sense that she was very ill, but I think a dinosaur killed her before the disease could. The worst of the two, it's hard to say.” He looked up from his knife and then at Luke. “So, who was it? A friend? A lover? A cousin?”

“...”

“A sibling?”

Luke’s ears drooped, and that gave the man enough indication on who had died. His maimed face was still stretched by that smile. Luke could see the sharp fangs that were his incisors; they looked like they could easily rip his throat out with one bite. “What a tragedy.”

The man pocketed the stone, grabbed the hilt, and stabbed the knife deep into the wood of the deep, right next to his pack. “Believe me when I say it's not easy being the one who survives, especially when a loved one has been stolen from you. These scars--” he points to his face, “they aren’t just war decor; they’re storytellers. Reminders that cut deep and bleed for all to see.”

Luke couldn't believe what he was hearing. This man, this absolute stranger, was speaking with such powerful inner tone. He could feel the words pierce his soul and bear their weight on his shoulders. His words were so heavy and cut through the heart. He just couldn't help but stare at the man. It took him a bit before he remembered how to speak.

“What do you want?” he said.

The man’s grin grew. “I am Marcus Krill,” he replied. “And I’m looking for a sparring partner.”

“You… you want to fight me?” Luke asked. This was sudden. The two of them don't know anything about each other, and yet this guy--Marcus--wants to fight with him? Why…?

“That's right.” Marcus stands up, looking down at Luke. He looked almost imposing standing high above Luke. “I haven't had a good brawl ever since my father kicked the bucket. I've fought with dinosaurs, but I want to experience taking on one of my own race. Besides, it could take your mind off of the death of your sister. And it would be an interesting match: wolf versus bear. Two of the planet's terrifying predators against one another.”

Luke stared into Marcus's eyes. He was at a complete loss for words. What made Marcus think fighting him would make him get over Kit’s death? To Luke, this guy only wanted to fight simply because he felt like it, not to help him. It filled his heart with rage. It burned and rampaged through him. And yet… there was a part of him saying that he should take on Marcus. Not to find a way to stop grieving, but to face the demon that stood before him. To bring down the being who sent fear into those he encountered.

Luke stood up, his fists clenched and his jaw firm. “Naturally the bear has the advantage, thanks to its brute strength and thick skin. But the wolf is faster, more agile, and has more stamina.”

Marcus grinned wide. “We’ll see just how good a wolf fares against a bear.”

 

Luke and Marcus stood in the front yard, twelve feet away from each other. They looked at each other, not taking their eyes off of one another. While Marcus still wore his savage grin, Luke just glared. He knew this wasn't going to be an easy fight. Marcus was a champion decorated with battle marks, with strength and endurance to boost. But it was going to take much more than that to deter Luke.

“The rules are simple,” Marcus said. “The battle is over when either of us backs down or when one of us is unable to continue. No weapons, only our physical capabilities.”

Luke nodded. “Sounds fine to me.” He got into a fighting stance, but Marcus just stood as he was, his arms folded and a smirk on his face. Luke kept his eyes locked on him, watching for any indication of an incoming hit. But nothing came. Marcus just stood there with his arms still folded, not even batting an eye, not even twitching. He was as still as a statue, his eyes in focus.

What is he waiting for? Luke thought. Why is he just standing there not doing anything but watching me?

For the longest while, they just stood there, whether one side just didn't want to fight or just waiting for the first person to make a move, Luke wasn't sure of. He just stared at Marcus, who stared back in return. He felt impatience and anxiety flow in his veins. It was starting to really piss him off. Enough was enough.

That's it! If he’s just gonna stand there and do absolutely nothing, then I’ll be happy to get closer!

Luke charged forward and pulled back a fist, crying out as he closed the distance. Still Marcus just stood there, perfectly still. Just the look and pose he had only made Luke more annoyed. It was like Marcus was just waiting for the inevitable punch to the face.

And then Luke let him have it; he stood right in front of his opponent, swung his fist to Marcus’s head and--

Marcus caught Luke’s punch!

Luke’s eyes widened in surprise and his body got tense. Marcus had actually managed to grab hold to his clenched hand before it could even connect to the target, and without even flinching. Luke didn't even see it coming.

Marcus still had a grin on his face, which was the only thing that snapped look out of his shock. He growled, raised his free hand, and tried to slam a fist into him again, but much to his disbelief, Marcus caught that one too.

Luke froze completely with shock. How in the name of all things holy did he do that? How?!

“Well,” Marcus said displeased voice, despite his expression, “that was a disappointing attempt.”

And without warning, not missing a beat, Marcus gripped Luke's fists in a vice-like hold and slammed his head against the top of Luke’s skull, right between his wolf-like ears.

Luke's vision flashed as pain screamed in his head. He howled in agony and clutched the spot where Marcus headbutted him, squeezing his eyes shut. Big mistake; Marcus took advantage of Luke's vulnerability and kicked him back with a boot to his stomach.

Luke fell onto his back in anguish. He gritted his teeth and groaned. He had felt pain before, but not this much all at once. It hurt just to breathe.

“Oh, don't tell me you’re already thinking about backing down,” Marcus said. “It would be a very boring fight if you forfeit now.”

Luke opened his eyes and glared at him, teeth bared. This guy was really getting on his nerves. And, again, how the hell did he move so fast? Of course it made perfect sense that Marcus had the strength just by looking at him and because of his genetics, but that speed is not natural.

Luke got up shakily, feeling more pain in his body. Marcus had probably cracked his ribs. However, he wasn't finished yet. “Don’t count me out yet,” he growled. “This fight isn’t over until I say it is.”

Marcus's grin widened. “I love the spirit. But it won't be enough to beat me.”

Luke got down on all fours, holding himself in a crouching position, like a predator waiting to pounce on his unsuspecting prey. Like a wolf, preparing to leap onto the back of his victim and bite down into its flesh. He narrowed his eyes in focus.

Like most Homo animalis, Luke’s anatomy is slightly different as a result of the mutation of his DNA. Meaning that they could have different bone structure, heightened or extra senses, increased speed, strength, durability, even basic things such as diet and more complex things such as behavior. Luke's specific group, Homo lupus, shares similar characteristics with wolves; having senses of sight, hearing, and smell several times more acute than any normal human, excellent night vision, and a natural born sprinter. He even has the capability to jump over six feet into the air.

And that was his strategy: to crouch low to the ground and leap onto Marcus. And thanks to the skeletal design and the musculature of his legs, Luke can push himself off the ground with tremendous force. There was no way Marcus could possibly block that attack successfully.

With a swish of his tail, Luke shouted and jumped, not taking his eyes off of Marcus. He reached out one hand, while raising a closed fist with another as he began to descend.

Marcus was ready, however. And before Luke knew it, Marcus sidestepped, lifted up one leg, and swept it into Luke’s side with another kick. Luke fell to the ground, feeling nothing but pain as it rips through his body and the air forced out of him.

“Get up,” Marcus said, standing over him. “What happened to that cocky tough guy from before? Or was it all just an act?”

Luke snarled, and in a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it moment, he got back on his feet and slugged Marcus in the face. And this time, he didn't miss. Luke could feel the blow connect and Marcus’s head turn by force from the impact.

Luke smirked, not taking away his closed hand. He had gotten his first hit. This proved Marcus wasn't invincible. “He’s still here. He just needed to get off his fucking lazy ass.”

Marcus just stood exactly as he was for a moment or two before he turned his head, looking at Luke with a glare instead of that obnoxious, overconfident grin. In his eyes, Luke saw the fury, the blaze, and the violence within. It made him completely unnerved.

Who the fuck is this guy?!

“Was that your best shot?” Marcus said in an emotionless voice that still made Luke feel even more unsettled. “If so, let me show you mine.”

Marcus shouted and swung a punch into Luke's face, making him stumble backwards. The next thing Luke knew, Marcus rained down on him, punching him wildly in the face and chest. One. Two. Three. Four. It was a relentless barrage of blows. Luke didn't even have time to dodge or even see the attacks. His whole face and chest felt nothing but excruciation. And each blow sent him moving backwards.

I can’t believe this! he thought as he was getting beaten to a pulp. He’s just tearing me to shreds while I get the shit beaten out of me! He's too fast! I can't keep up! I can't do anything!

“RRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” Marcus roared as he delivered a powerful punch into Luke's solar plexus before sweeping the legs from beneath Luke with a kick. Luke's lungs gave out and the air from him was knocked away. He laid on the ground, gasping for air. His body pleaded for it to come back. He could feel a couple of broken or cracked bones in his legs and chest. He was definitely going to be feeling all of this for days.

Marcus panted and looked down at Luke, standing over his crippled form. “Give it up. There's no way in high hell you can beat me. You may as well just quit, or I’ll turn you into a busted up punching bag. Do you yield?”

Luke just laid there clawing for breath, feeling blood roll out of his mouth. He couldn't speak in this condition. The pain was too much to handle. He could just get back up and keep trying to weaken Marcus enough in order to beat him. But he responded with a nod of his head. He knew he couldn't win, not when he was in this much pain. His adversary was just too powerful to bring down. This was one fight Luke could not win.

Marcus grinned again. “Good boy. Now you know your place. I was afraid I’d have to whale on you some more. But if I had, then you’d really be no use to me as my subordinate.”

Luke found the air he desperately needed and looked at Marcus in surprise. “Your… subordinate…?”

“That's right,” Marcus replied. “You see, the only reason why we survived this long is because we're strong. That is the only way to stay alive in times like these. It’s survival of the fittest out here. I am searching for only the most powerful people, the ones who show promise to me. And you should be lucky since very few people have actually managed to land a hit on me. And coming from me, that says quite a lot more than you think. So, Luke,” Marcus crouches down and reached out a hand. “Will you join me? Together, we’ll be invincible. We’ll put the dinosaurs in their place, show them who’s truly top of the food chain. We’ll get them back for everything they’ve ever taken from us a hundredfold.”

Luke couldn't believe what he was hearing. This guy, this total stranger who just beat the ever-loving snot out of him was asking him to accompany him. Under normal circumstances, the very thought of doing so was absolutely insane. But nothing was normal these days. With killer dinosaurs everywhere and the threat of death looming over whatever more survivors that may still be out there, the world had fallen into total chaos.

Then there was the death of Kit on top of that, the youngest and only family member he had left before her life was cut short by one of those monsters. She could’ve had a long, beautiful life if it hadn’t been for the Velociraptor that had stolen her future from her. And the more he thought of it, Luke's grief was replaced with anger, with hate. Not to himself, but to the dinosaurs. Every dinosaur, all of the dinosaurs. He wanted nothing more than to send them all back to extinction, the way it should’ve been a long, long time ago.

He was going to do just that very thing. He wasn't going to rest until each and every one of those foul creatures were exterminated. It wouldn't matter what kind they were. They all had to die and make room for humans, they true dominant species, once again. Their short lived reign of terror had to end for humanity's sake. And if that meant the start was to join forces with Marcus, then damn it he was going to.

So he took Marcus’s offered hand and clenched it. “Let’s kick some Jurassic ass.”

 

Now it was two years later. Luke still fought alongside Marcus, taking on some of the most terrifying prehistoric beasts known to mankind from raptors, ceratopsians, and even to sauropods. Luke's loyalty to Marcus had never once unwavered, even during times of doubt. Every creature they put down was another step closer to saving what’s left of the human race and ensures whatever future and hopes they may still have. Kit’s death would be avenged in full.

And yet, sometimes, deep inside, there was a small voice. It never went away, it had always been around since him since he first encountered Marcus. He could silence it, but he could never drown it away for good. It haunted him like the spirit of his sister. It always said the same thing:

This isn’t the you from before.

Marcus isn’t the good guy.

This isn't what she would want...


Submitted: December 16, 2019

© Copyright 2022 Tyrannos Senpai. All rights reserved.

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