The Dark Hunter known as Lurker trudged across the sandy dunes, two of his stingers stretched over his head in an attempt to shield his eyes from the sun’s harsh rays.
Blasted desert. There’s no high ground here—any attacks will have to be made head-on. Ah, what’s the fun if you can’t surprise your prey?
Since the fall of the Matoran Universe, the Dark Hunters had been doing their best to adapt to the new world of Spherus Magna. Many locals had been recruited into their ranks for extra muscle and to gain knowledge of the new terrain, but the Shadowed One, thorough as he was, desired that some of his older, slightly more loyal operatives scout the nearby land to verify the information they had been given. Lurker had no desire to betray the organization—they pointed him in the direction of plenty of easy murder victims—so he was at the top of the list of surveyors.
But there isn’t anything to kill out here!
With a grumbling sigh, he checked the map he was holding. So far the tablet had proven accurate. If this remained the case, then the Hunters could make use of Bara Magna’s inhospitable landscape for things best kept out of the public eye. Though, if Lurker were given a choice, he would hope to never come back to the wretched place.
Something shifted nearby.
Lurker didn’t move. He could feel eyes on him, watching for an opening. A smile crossed his face.
He sat down. The faint sound of moving sands slowly grew closer, creeping up on him from behind. Lurker remained perfectly still, waiting, waiting, until finally…
It leapt out of the sand at his back. He rolled aside, coming up in a crouch, and then lunged and tackled the creature. He quickly examined what he was grappling with: a tan-armored being not unlike the Glatorian he had seen, though with cruder weapons, a stinger tail, and a much more feral expression.
The Vorox stabbed with its tail. Lurker caught it between his claws and stepped back, spinning his foe around before flinging it through the air. It tumbled across the ground and flipped onto its feet, and then looked back at him and hissed, taking a low stance.
“What’s the matter, monster?” Lurker taunted, holding out his arms and shrugging. “Am I more than you bargained for?”
He became aware of more hissing. Half a dozen Vorox rose from behind the nearby dunes, forming a loose circle around Lurker and the one he was fighting. He took note of their positions, but they made no aggressive actions, only hung back with an observant gleam in their eyes.
“Seems we have an audience. Well, I suppose I could put on a show.”
Lurker brushed some sand off his armor. The Vorox, thinking its foe distracted, rushed forward and thrust with its blade. Lurker sidestepped and drove his knee into the Vorox’s chest. As the creature slumped, he walked around it, raising his arms and grinning at the others. The wounded Vorox swung its tail again, but Lurker turned just in time to bat it away with his sword and then kicked the Vorox flat on its face.
“Come on, put a little more flair into it! Where’s your showmanship?”
With a grunt, the Vorox burrowed into the sand and vanished from sight.
“Aw, too ashamed to show his face now.”
Lurker started to walk. After taking a few steps, he stopped, raised his sharpest stinger, and plunged it into the sand. A muffled shriek rang out. The Vorox flailed its way to the surface, trying to pull the stinger out of its shoulder. Lurker spun and slashed, leaving a long gash in the creature’s body and sending its helmet flying into a nearby dune.
Grabbing the creature by the head, Lurker hoisted it into the air and said, “Done already? What a disappointment. Well? Any of you want to tag in?”
None of the other Vorox made a move.
“Haha, well, what a friendly lot you are. If there are no objections…”
Brandishing his blade, Lurker sliced through the Vorox’s neck. Its body fell in a heap, and after smirking at it, Lurker tossed aside its head and gave a satisfied sigh. He looked to the other Vorox. They were starting to advance now, but their weapons were lowered. Some of them whistled, looking at Lurker like they expected him to respond, though they fell silent when he did not.
Finally, one of them spoke a word he understood. “Chief.”
Lurker squinted at it. “What?”
The other Vorox began to repeat the word.
Lurker looked at the Vorox he had killed, then up at the group. Now that he looked more closely, he could see that the dead one had a strange pattern on its armor, some sort of paint that was drawn in deliberate markings on the shoulders and legs.
“…Is that really all there is to it?”
The Vorox waited to see what he would do.
Maybe I should just kill them. It’s not like they’d be particularly good recruits, so there’s no reason the Shadowed One needs to know.
As he raised his blade, he remembered something a Bone Hunter had told him. He had said that though the desert was a harsh place, the Vorox had survived by forming a network of tunnels beneath its surface. They could get from one end of Bara Magna to the other without anyone knowing, enabling them to get the jump on whatever they happened to be hunting at the time, never exposing themselves to the dangers of the surface for too long.
…Actually…perhaps we could make use of these things…