“For now that is probably true.” Said Kirk, “She is still not very experienced in fighting and doesn’t have a handle on strategy. All she currently has going for her is brute force and anything else she can accomplish with her blood. However all her weaknesses will be able to be fixed with experience. Give her a few years of working as a Hunter and she will probably be able to threaten the Golden Terror.”
I looked out toward the direction that she had disappeared into, “Possible. I’m more worried that if we give her that amount of time then she will be more of a danger to Districts then the Golden Terror ever was.”
“Well, that is our job to prevent.”
There was a moment before I said, “What do you mean?”
“Professor Stolas might not have said this all out loud but there are certain things that I was able to infer. As you say in the future Yaju could be a great threat to Districts so that leaves two options. The first is to just kill her to prevent the threat from ever being realized. However Professor Stolas doesn’t like this solution. He thinks that if we do that it makes us just as ruthless as the Beasts that we hunt. The other option is to convince her to not be a threat to Districts. There are several different directions that this could be taken but Stolas decided that emotional attachment is the best solution.”
Beginning to understand I continued the explanation for Kirk, “So he places her with three kids that are near her own age and will talents that make us relevant for her and hope that she bonds with us. This gives her a connection to Districts and makes her not want to become a threat to it.”
“Exactly.” Said Kirk. “It also makes her useful, a powerful tool to help protect District. That makes it easier for the governmental types who aren’t hunters and don’t understand Hunters to accept her freedom. Professor Stolas knew that keeping her locked up would be the worst way to have her want to protect Districts so that is another reason he pushed to have this plan accepted.”
“Well, he certainly is a manipulative when he wants to be.” I said, “However I suppose that all of us Hunters are seen as tools or weapons to many non-Hunters. If we weren’t so needed to protect Districts from Beasts I shutter to think if all of us would end up like Yaju. I guess I will have to accept Professor Stolas’ reasoning however I can not promise that I can be what he wants me to be. If we can’t be friends then that is something I won’t fake even if it would cause danger to Districts later.”
“Being a proud Hunter huh?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I’ve tried pretending before. It was bad with my father. It was my mother who was a Hunter and by the time she married by father she had gains almost full control over her instincts. To him she was kind and sweet. However then my blood awaked my family changed. My father however did not understand what was happening to me. We have more than a few arguments. Eventually I moved into the special Hunter housing because we couldn’t come to terms with each other.”
“Painful times?” Asked Kirk.
“Yes, personally I felt that the family fallout of awaking my instincts was worse than then actual event when my instincts awoke. However the entire experience made me not want to pretend to be something that I am not. I tried that during my encounters with my father but that just made it worse.” I then tried to break away the conversations from me and said, “How about you? I hear that your instincts only awoke recently?”
“Yes, however I can’t really give you any insights into my story. There is not that much to say. Because my instincts aren’t very strong I not that much changed about my life. Well, that isn’t totally true, you see maybe I’ve grown more distant from the people I had known before. It became easy to tell what people are feeling because of my new senses. But people like to hide their true emotions and find it weird if you know what they are really feeling.”
Kirk sighed, “And it isn’t just them. I changed too, I’m not really interested in that life as much anymore. There just isn’t the same feeling of excitement that I had before. Now every time I return to Districts I always imagine the Jungle again. I feel closer to Yaju then I do with all the people that I had been friends with before I awoke as a Hunter. Does this make sense?”
I nodded, “I think we all feel like that. The boiling of the blood is what it is called. Not being satisfied unless you feel the danger of the wild and the freedom of the wild. And it is a feeling that can’t be understood by normal people. They think that we don’t value our own life that we will continue to put ourselves into dangerous situations where we might die. However we generally see it different. Instead we see it as normal. Once you have experienced the jungle as a Hunter it seems so natural. Maybe we are just crazy.”
Kirk smiled a little, “Maybe we are. Maybe we are unnaturally risking our lives fighting Beasts and not thinking it is strange. Sure, I don’t want to die but when I’m in Districts I feel it is quiet and everything has ground to a halt.”
We talked a little as we walked. The trucks rumbled around next to us as we walked near them. Eventually Kirk began to get tired and he had to return to one of the trucks for a rest. Then I continued walking while the day passed by, eventually it began to get close to night time and I motioned the trucks to stop. We had reached one of the main camp sites which was commonly used by this particular cavern route.
Kirk got out of the truck and I walked up toward him. I spoke, “It seems like today was quiet. However the first and last days are usually the safest because they are the closest to the cities. However don’t expect it to be this quiet the rest of the days. I expect at least several attacks during the middle days.”
“It hasn’t been that quiet. At least from my point of view. Yaju has been doing a wide sweep of the area. She has already felt with several Beasts that might have been a threat to the caravan.”
“Yes, it didn’t seem that important to mention so I hadn’t brought it up perviously. At long as the caravan is protected that should be enough.” Said Kirk.
“Yeah, that is true. Well, I guess she has been useful instead of just running off into jungle. That certainly improved my option of her.” I said.
The evening was quiet, probably because of Yaju’s patrols. The other caravan crew members helped set up the camp and then began to cook dinner for everyone. Me and Kirk joined the crew for dinner. There wasn’t really a lot of conversation which we were involved in but the other crew had some lively conversations about their life back in Districts.
Like she had said she would Yaju arrived back just before sunset. She looked basically normal except that I could smell the faint smell of blood on her. I asked, “Did everything go all right?”
“Yes.” Nothing more than that.
“If you want it I had the crew save you some dinner. Also I’ll take the first watch tonight. I’ll wake you and Kirk up later when it is your turn.” She nodded and then walked over toward the crew members, presumably to get the food from them. It was hard to tell but I thought that she was in a better mood then she had been when she had left the caravan earlier today.
The night was quiet. Nothing occurred during my watch and I was able to pass it off to Yaju and Kirk in the middle of the night. I could have kept it up all night but that usually left me grumpy more than anything else. Even if I only got four hours sleep it still made me feel better than no sleep at all. Most Hunters go through some training to help them to stay up and I knew I could probably go for a full week without sleep. I also knew that I was an awful person after the first couple of days. I guess you can’t win at everything.
I woke before the first light, before the caravan crew began waking up. It was quiet, for the Jungle at least, and I was able to find Yaju and Kirk still on watch. Kirk smiled when he saw me and then waved at Yaju and retired once more to the back of one of the trucks. I knew he had received less training and had weaker blood so sleep was probably more important to him then it was to me and Yaju. I took a seat next to her and then took a moment to decide on a topic of conversation.
“Good morning. How was the guard duty?”
“Boring, we just sat here most of the night. Occasionally we talked about things but otherwise it was peaceful.”
“Did you hope to be attacked by a Beast during the night?”
She shrugged, “Not really. It isn’t like any of the Beasts nearby would be that interested anyway.”
“Not the exciting world of being a Hunter that you thought it would be?”
“I didn’t want an exciting world, I wanted one where I wasn’t locked up in a small cell. Basically anything would be better than what I had before. The fact that I was able to just go off into the Jungle during the day is more then I desired previously.”
It seems that without Kirk near her she had softened a little although given the able to sense emotions that Kirk had I’m not certain if that really mattered. I quirked one side of my lips in a half smile, “Well, don’t get too relaxed. While most caravans make it to their destination unscathed sometimes terrible things can happen. And even if they do no there is always the possibility that we will be attacked by more normal Beasts. Remember that.”
“I’m not that relaxed. I don’t know if I am every capable of feeing that relaxed. If anything part of me is always on the watch, expecting something to attack out of nowhere.”
“I know the feeling.” I said, “I guess it is part of all Hunters. Although I know that for some Hunters that spend too much time in the Districts that the feeling fades and they become too soft when on an actual mission.” I looked toward her and then back at the Jungle, “However I don’t really think that is going to be an issue with you. More likely you would go insane if you spent too much safety in the Districts, constantly watching out for threats that will never materialize.”
She closed her eyes. “Indeed, that is what it felt like. Part of the feeling of being trapped as well. Even once I got released from the cell Districts always felt like a prison to me. Maybe that will fade at some point but for now every time I return to the city I dread it and long to return to the Jungle once more.”
“There isn’t anything that attracts you to the Districts?”
There was a pause, a hesitation, just before she spoke, “Well, there are things I want to do in the Districts, but those are the things that I will never be able to do because of who, of what I am.”