It’s here. Somewhere. Tracking in the jungle is not my area of expertise. That particular duty falls to Lewa, naturally. I can do so to a certain extent, given my capability to sense the earth’s vibrations, but, of course, that is impossible at the moment. The Kal have robbed us of our powers, and we must now do without – we have, after all, brought this lot upon ourselves.
I am perhaps the best-equipped among us to face this challenge – my mask still grants me strength beyond my belief; my weapons still carve through protosteel as though it were butter. Were it not for these factors I would not have refused even to consider the possibility of tracking the Kal alone. Given the circumstances, however, the opportunity that presented itself was simply too enticing to pass up. The Kal had passed beneath the cliff upon which I was standing, entirely unaware of my presence. And so I had followed it, awaiting an opportune moment to ambush it and slice its repulsive metal carapace in two.
Of course, this lasted only until it saw fit to veer from its course and vanish into the jungle. Perhaps the wisest course of action would then have been to equip my Kakama and seek out Lewa as quickly as possible. But I did not. Another less than favorable situation brought on by carelessness. Another debacle I must make the best of.
But then, discretion is the better part of valor, or so I am told. This search is fruitless, it would seem. The wisest choice at the moment would again be to alert Lewa that a Kal is hiding within his home. I raise a hand to my mask, feeling the Pakari’s smooth surface ripple into the ridged form of the Kakama. I inhale.
I am lying on the ground, paralyzed. Or– Not paralyzed entirely, it seems. I can lift my fingers, though ever so slightly. I can twist my head to view my assailant.
The sunlight glints off the silvery form of the Kal, briefly blinding me. As my vision returns, I am able to discern the black markings on its insectoid forehead, able to make out the saw-like shields that discern it as the Nuhvok Kal. Gravity.
It is capable of speech, I know. But it says nothing.
I make to stand, knowing even as I begin that it will be a fruitless effort. The Kal’s glowing green eyes glimmer with pleasure.
My mask ripples again, its form shifting back to that of the Pakari. I call upon its power and make to stand again. I barely rise to a crouch before the Kal waves its shield. I collapse again.
But collapsing is not an option. I lock eyes with the Kal and call again upon my mask, pushing myself to my knees. It raises a shield again, but I hold steady.
And then I rise. I waver, but I remain upright.
The Kal holds my gaze for a few seconds, contemplating, perhaps, my resilience. And then it is gone, leaving only a quivering leaf in the underbrush.