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Road Trip (Hunt the DHB)

Posted on Tue Nov 3rd, 2020 @ 7:10pm by Alden Loxley & Jonas Bailey
Edited on on Sat Mar 19th, 2022 @ 1:08pm

Mission: Yuan Fen
Location: Hunter's Moon
Timeline: October 2512

The moon was far too wildly forested to allow ground vehicles easy access, and there hadn’t been a decent landing site anywhere near the river. So they’d rappelled out from the ship sat up above the tree’s upper canopy. They each had a backpack stocked and were dressed for a road trip.

Well, a hike.

As his worn leather boots hit the soft mud beneath the vast canopy of deciduous woodland, Alden breathed in the free, clean air and smiled contentedly. He gave the rope a sharp tug then let it go, waved upwards towards the people he could no longer see and turned to regard Jonas.

“Hell yes!” Alden whooped, that smile broadening into a big dumb grin. “Fresh air, green plants and birdsong.” He shuffled his pack, adjusting the weight on his shoulders and tipped the brim of his light brown stetson towards his companion. “Road trip.”

They had two days on this low tech world, with just a minor go-fetch task to complete while the ship was elsewhere. The destination screamed vacation, and as yet the biting insect population was far less apparent than the sound of birds lilting tones back and forth.

“This way,” suggested the shorter of the two tall men, and he strode into the chest high ferns to the east of their current position.

Jonas took a band from his pocket and pulled his braids back, draping them over his backpack. "Yeah, it's not often I've gotten to be on a planet like this. But then again, I've never gone on a hike like this, either." He followed Alden through ferns all the while slapping at the insect bites. "Damn little bugs. But they'll be nothin' compared to what this little critter could be like. If I read some of that stuff right."

"You've been missing out," Alden noted. He'd been mooching around the Verse for a good while now, but he was still far from having seen it all. "Hiking's good for ya, clears your mind and heals your soul," he announced with a warm grin. "And I ain't preaching, don't worry. Just feels great to be outside." The insects didn't seem to be bothering him as much as they were Jonas. "Yup," he agreed. "I heard our quarry is an ornery lil bugger. You sure you're ready for this?" He added, smile impish now, eyes bright with amusement.

"Yeah," Jonas replied. "I'm ready for this. At least, as far as I know...a deranged honey badger." He continued following Alden and swatting bugs. "Whaddya think we should name it? Cuddles? Ankle-biter? Assuming that we can tame it enough to keep it. Deranged and all."

Alden grinned. "I dunno, I think we need to see him before we can name him. Y'know, look him in the eyes and understand who he really is." The beast, the myth, the legend... It was an exciting prospect. "Or maybe pull his teeth out of a limb, one or the other..."

Jonas laughed at that. "Yeah, let's hope it's not the limb."


A little while later, a makeshift campsite now set up and a customary brew drunk, the two were following tracks in the muddy sand along the riverbank. Faint grizzling noises had been heard in the undergrowth around them, but they were yet to see any actual sign of the famed critter.

Then there was a shriek, high pitched and pained, followed closely by a rodent leaping in front of Jonas. Off to their left, both men could hear sounds of something in hot pursuit.

If that grizzling noise was their infamous DHB, then Jonas was glad they brought the gear that they did. But when the rodent appeared in front of him, Jonas stopped. Something was coming through the underbrush after it and it wasn't worried about stealth. Jonas used two fingers of his right hand to motion from his eyes to the area where the noises were coming from in the hopes that Alden would see.

Alden nodded to that silent hand signal indicating their target's direction. Or assumed target anyway, it wasn't exactly being subtle. He waited, to the other side of the path, and tried not to flinch as something reddish brown in colour and furry in nature appeared in the pathway between them.

Not, as it turned out the DHB. No, the DHB was entirely more covert about its culinary mission. It followed after the rather large and ill-tempered pine martin by taking a circuitous route that allowed it to investigate both upright primates.

Alden called out, grabbed his leg and hopped in reaction to the pain as sharp teeth sank deep into the back of his calf. The DHB, however, wasn't done. Oh no. It leapt from one man's wound with intent to further damage the intruding humans, bounced from its first victim straight to Jonas and latched firmly onto sweet, warm flesh.

"Lio Coh Jwei Ji Neong Hur Ho Deh Yung Duh Buhn Jah J'wohn!" screamed Jonas. "The gorram thing is latched on to the back of my thigh! Wuh De Ma, that hurts!" Jonas stumbled around and spun in circles trying to smack the thing in the head with the hopes of knocking it unconscious or something. "Sneaky little bastard!"

"Stay still! Stay still, dude!" Alden yelled to be heard over the pained cries from his ally as he turned around, stumbling and trying to match his pace to Jonas'. "I can't grab him, stop moving!"

Jonas wrapped his arms around the nearest tree and hugged it as tight as he could. "This is as good as it's gonna get!" he yelled. "Get it!"

To an outsider this might have looked comical, but Alden's viewpoint from the epicentre of this battle was of blood and pain and teeth. Lots of teeth. He struggled to grab onto any part of the rapidly twisting furry form, even as it remained lodged in Jonas' thigh, but he refused to give up. Never surrender.

Finally, the right combination of grip and stance rewarded him, and Alden's right hand grabbed a handful of scruff, fur and skin rippling under his fingers. His left hand reached under the DHB's chin and attempted to unlock the creature's jaws.

Initially its teeth only sunk deeper.

"I've got it!" Alden yelled. "Hold still, I think I've got it!"

Then the DHB released its own hold, twisted with unnatural agility and planted all four of its feet against Alden's chest. He fell backwards under the force of its motion and stared back up at Jonas past the blur of blood-stained teeth and screamed.

Jonas held as still as he could until the creature released his thigh. Relief. Sweet relief...except for the searing pain that still throbbed down his leg. He let go of the tree when Alden screamed and turned to see him on his back with honey badger in his face. Jonas ignored the pain in his leg and grabbed the doubled up burlap sack that he'd used to carry a few supplies and dumped them on the ground. He then jumped towards the creature and hoped beyond hope. If he managed to get the sack over its head, he could yank it off of Alden. At least that was the idea. He knew that even if it got tangled up in the burlap, it wouldn't stay that way for long. Hopefully, he'd buy them a couple of minutes.

“It’s TOUCHING MY NOSE!” Yelled Alden as a wet shroom of the creature’s met his own. “It’s GRINNING AT ME!!” And it was, teeth bared, nose to nose, dark eyes manic with some evil plot that likely involved a second breakfast.

Wide-eyed, Alden reached up to try and fend it off and only succeeded in grabbing handfuls of furry body. The honey badger remained unconcerned and grunty as it lowered its stance and dug in with the musical addition of varied growling.

Then a burlap sack descended and those long curved claws dug deeper into Alden’s chest as the badger struggled to maintain his horizontal stance. There followed a struggle between Jonas and DHB with the prone man’s torso as a battleground, grappling grunts and warning grumbles punctuated by Alden’s cries.

And Jonas won.

He stood back up with the little devil creature writhing and growling in the sack. "Huh, what were we thinking...a pet. You know how much trouble this little bastard is going to be to domesticate? Let alone, toilet train." He looked down at Alden's blood-soaked shirt and could feel his on his leg. "We should come up with a story for these wounds. The claw marks on your chest and the bite mark on my thigh...I'm don't wanna tell people this did it." He held up the sack. "Maybe a wild time in town after our hiking adventure?"

Alden sat up, looked up at Jonas to make sure the other man was okay, and then glanced down at his own shirt. "Yeah.... only way that could have gone down worse is if he'd been carrying a rocket launcher," Alden answered wryly. He raised an eyebrow though at his companion's suggestion, considered this for a couple of seconds and then adopted a filthy grin.

"Yeah, right... gotta love those wild forest moon brothel girls..." he mused out loud. "Seriously dangerous, but what were we do to? Wild siren song, drinks in our bellies..." Alden chuckled, relaxing slightly now the fight was over and their prey was literally in the bag. A very fast moving, uncomfortable-to-carry looking bag.

"We can do this," Alden said, supportively. "Train him I mean. It'll take a while, but it's like any parenting job - s'all about bribery and corruption, right?"

Somewhere close in his periphery, a sound like a seriously pissed off cat finding another unwanted sentient lifeform in its territory wailed out into the woodland. Alden froze, locking eyes up with Jonas' as he prepared to turn and face this new threat. "It's... behind me, isn't it?"

In the bag, Jonas' honey badger upped its game and started bucking harder against the tall man's body.

"Heh, right. Bribery and corruption. The name of the game in just about job we find ourselves in," answered Jonas. When the sound came and Alden's eyes locked with his, Jonas froze. He never moved his head at Alden's question but simply shifted his eyes around to look behind the man. The underbrush rustled at about Jonas' one o'clock position roughly a couple meters behind Alden. "Mmhmm, about two meters to your seven o'clock." The now crazy jumble of fur and muscle in the bag was making it harder to hold on to. Jonas wished he'd thought to tie the darn thing up real solid while it was still somewhat...calm.

Seven o'clock. Two metres. Just over six foot. Alden nodded, that motion a small, slow gesture of understanding as the grumbling sound behind him silenced. Tah da muh.

"You got that one?" He asked, as Jonas struggled to manhandle their captive prey. He waited for the nod, then took a couple of big steps backwards.

The honey badger in the undergrowth hissed, and stood its ground, eyed the lumbering human target with a steely eyed predatory expression and bided its time. As Alden turned to face it, his jacket slipped down before him as a makeshift net, the badger leapt, aiming for the man's groin. Alden yelped and rolled forward in a reflex action, they both missed each other and came up on opposite sides once again.

DHB#2 dragged its feet in the dirt as if revving up for some serious action, the one in Jonas' care chittered and rumbled and both moved at the same time. DHB#1 started up an almighty wriggling, hurling its body to and fro between free space and Jonas' back. DHB#2 aimed to Alden's left and raced him to see who could grab who first.

The sack Jonas was holding was becoming more difficult. Or to be more accurate, the honey badger probably sensed its honey. And the dance that Alden and the second one was having was probably not going to end well. They were both tired and bleeding. Jonas knew that he wouldn't be able to keep this up for too much longer. So he drew his pistol and fired into the air, just as he would with any other wild animal.

As that shot rang out, two things happened. Alden leapt at DHB#2 and DHB#1 tensed, pushing all four of its paws against Jonas' back in a co-ordinated shove.

DHB#2 was successfully grappled, the honey badger and Alden came to a stop on the ground in an uncomfortable looking unbalanced 'struggle cuddle'. The human in that pairing yelled as teeth sank into his hand, but Alden maintained a rapidly tightening hold on the critter's scruff. He looked up, face tense and eyes bright.

"I got her!" Alden called triumphantly. "Well, she's kinda got me too, but I'm heavier and I'm definitely winning."

"Either way," Jonas said, "we're gonna have a hell of a time with this." He could feel the one in the sack pushing on his back and if he didn't know better, he thought he could feel pins pressing into his flesh. He swung the bag around, but kept it cinched. "Maybe they'll calm down if we get 'em in the same place. You wanna try to get her in here when I open it a little? That is if this little demon doesn't claw his way out."

From that seriously uncosy position on the hard ground, Alden regarded Jonas with a wonky grin. Humour, the great survival trait of humans everywhere, the armour you didn't need to buy or check for holes. Carried along with you wherever you went.

"Get them together?" Alden asked, eyebrow raised in curiosity. "Seriously?" He yelped again as the female honey badger went for a second bite of his hand. Cursing followed in Chinese. "Yeah, sure," he agreed swiftly. "Why not. Might even work."

It was a flip of his back and a hard press down of feet before a bend of his knees that brought the tall smuggler up to a standing position, badger still attached to his hand. That hold on the critter's neck meant it couldn't get those teeth too deep, but blood still welled up beneath the flash of sharp white.

"Ready?" Alden called. He adjusted position to be ready to shove hand and DHB#2 into Jonas' burlap sack. "READY!" The yell was punctuated by pain. "Go, go, GO!"

Jonas quickly opened the bag just enough for Alden to shove badger and hand into it. He hoped that the thing would turn loose of his friend once it saw it's mate. "Who knows, maybe a little kissy-kissy with the missy-missy and they'll calm down."

An ear-splitting symphony of irate sounds emanated from the bag at first, then the struggle continued for a few long moments, and, finally, there was stillness. Alden looked to Jonas with an expression that clearly said 'it's not over, is it?' and they both waited a little longer.

"You okay, P'n Yoh (friend)?" Alden asked, as he allowed himself to temporarily relax.

"I am," he replied. "Well, except all of this," he added, gesturing to his blood-stained clothes. "But at least these two have calmed down. I hope..."

"Back to camp and assess the damage then?" Alden suggested rather than asked. Injuries chimed in across his body too, but he ignored them for the moment. Nothing sustained was fatal. He frowned and looked up to Jonas with a wry grin. "They sure fight dirty. Not sure we can keep both these critters..."

A low growling emanated from the back on the taller man's back.

"Back to camp," Jonas said, sack hanging over his back. "Doc ain't gonna be too happy about this. But it'll be fun to watch the explanation. And yeah, little buggers fight dirty for sure. I don't think we can keep 'em both, either. We'll have to try to figure out which one is the least...uhhh." The low growl caught him off guard. "That's...well, there it is."

The doc... damn, he hadn't really thought about that. Alden laughed, a shake of his head accompanying the realization that now the two of them effectively had to justify their crazy trip. "Nah, I guess she ain't," he responded, grin still colouring his features. "But we did it, bro, we really did it! Two for one as well." He regarded the sack full of trouble on his buddy's back and canted his head as he added. "How in the hells are we gonna decide that?" Alden asked, as he led the way back to their campsite.

"Yeah man, two for one is a good deal. But trying to decide which one...that's gonna be harder. Maybe whichever one gave us the least damage? Or is calmer? If these things even calm down."

"We let them outta there and they don't kill us or hump us," Alden said, brightly and with amusement. "I say we keep the dude. She seems like the brains of the operation and I hate to say it buddy, but I think she's smarter than the both of us."

Jonas laughed. "Story of my life; females smarter than me." He chuckled and nodded. "Though I think you might be right about that, keeping dude. We'd probably get along better with him anyway. After he gets over the loss of his girl."

The return laughter was halted briefly by a wince of pain as injuries chimed back at him, but Alden nodded. "Likewise, my friend," he agreed, thinking of Abigail. "They know us too well..."

It wasn't too far back to camp, so they could drop the gear, get a fire going and start taking stock of who was hurt where and how bad.

Jonas tied the burlap sack closed and attached a rope around that part before tossing the loose end over a branch. He hoisted the bag up and then tied the loose end around the tree trunk. "There." He sat for a second and leaned against the tree to take a breath. "Ouch."

"You're bleeding," Alden said with a wry smile. They both were, but it definitely looked like Jonas had the worst wound, or at least the most impressive looking. "C'mere, lemme take a look atcha, need to get you all cleaned up." He waited for the other man to lift his own shirt. "And maybe some stitches..."

Jonas crawled over and lifted his shirt. "Just pour some water on it to clean it up. Or a beer...that'd disinfect it, too. If it needs stitches, go for it, dude."

Alden shot his buddy a look that said - waste the beer? - but needs must and all. "You don't look too bad here, you big handsome man, you," he noted with an amused grin and wiped a clean, wet towel over Jonas's abs, chest and back, making sure to cover all the visible scratches. "But your leg," Alden noted. "That looks nasty. Deep bite. Definitely needs some stitches. Get yourself comfy and I'll do my best," he promised.

Jonas laughed. "Makes it easier to beat the crap out of people, bein' big and all. The handsome part is so that they'll feel good about it and say 'thank you' when the beat down is over. Who wants to get their ass handed to them by an ugly man?" His wide grin faded as Alden mentioned his leg. "That doesn't surprise me." He settled himself into a more comfortable position and tore the rip in his pants bigger for better access to the wound.

Easy chuckles warmed up Alden's expression as Jonas spoke. "Well, yeah," he said, stepping back to grab the medic kit and checking through to see what they had. "Ugly makes it soooo much worse." A wistful look crossed his features briefly as he thought back to the last ass-kicking he'd taken. Abigail. "Last beating I took was from a cute blonde, so no offence, but she's still top of the memory bank list," he added with a lopsided grin. "But hey, let's fix you up."

His own aches and pains were chiming in now, but Alden put them to one side while he sterilised Jonas' wound with a lil spirits and then set to stitching.

"I'm no doc," Alden admitted, as he stepped back to look at the other man's leg. "But you're not leaking the red stuff anymore. I think," he smiled. "You just might live through this."

"Oh, if the last butt-kickin' I'd taken was from a cute blonde, she'd be at the top of memory bank list, too. Not one bit of offence taken," said Jonas. The big guy winched a little as the spirits stung the wound and then as Alden began his stitchery. He looked at the job when Alden finished and nodded. Not bad, not too bad at all. It stops the leakin', so that's what matters. Can't guarantee you that mine'll be too much better, though."

Alden chuckled. They could unsurprisingly agree on that one, and the blonde demon. He felt a tiny bit bad as Jonas winced, but this needed to be done, and he worked as swiftly and neatly as he was able. He was no seamstres, but he got the job done.

"Back of my right leg," Alden said. "And my left hand." He unwrapped the bit of shirt sleeve that had been covering his hand and winced. "Hand first, pretty please." A wry smile. "And hey, I trust ya, buddy."

"Little rascal over there is a pricey critter," Jonas replied. "Almost cost you an arm and a leg." He chuckled and picked up the spirits to disinfect the hand first and begin sewing. When he finished, he poured a little more over it and wrapped some clean-ish pieces of cloth over it. He then moved around to the back of Alden's right leg and repeated the procedure, save for the wrapping. "There. Now how about we use some of that stuff," he said, gesturing to the bottle, "to ease the pain a bit?"

Despite the wincing and a sharp intake of breath - twice - Alden laughed. "Really taking his toll from us both," he rolled his eyes at the second bad pun in as many minutes and stalwartly endured as the wounds were dealt with.

"Thanks man," Alden noted, his tone warm and full of gratitude. "Feels better." He flexed his hand and lifted the bottle to pass it back to Jonas. "I say we ease the pain a lot," he added with a broader grin.

Jonas nodded and accepted the bottle. "I think that's a fine idea." He then took a good swig and passed it back to Alden. "Ease the pain and get a decent night's sleep. Hopefully."

After taking a big mouthful of alcohol, Alden closed his eyes and felt it burn down through to his stomach. It probably wasn't the best solution, but it definitely helped. "On forest moons no one can hear you snore," he said with a chuckle, and passed their bottle to Jonas again.

Jonas laughed loudly and accepted the bottle. "That's a damn good thing, too. Been told I can really saw logs." He tossed back a good swallow and swished it a little before swallowing and handing it back.

Sloshing the booze around in his mouth, Alden then held it there a moment and let the fumes seep into his head. Damn. It was starting to take the edge off, that was for sure. "I don't think I'm gonna hear ya, brother," Alden said with a stupid grin. "But fair warning, sometimes I talk in my sleep." He wrinkled his nose. "Well, yell. Sometimes I yell."

"Not rightly sure that's a-gonna matter too much more," he said, taking two drinks. "'Sides, I'm thinkin' we ain't gonna need to worry 'bout that soon." Between the loss of blood and liquid pain reliever, Jonas wasn't sure how much longer he'd hold out. Normally, he could hold his own. But this was a different story.

Caught up in the rhythm of their little drinking session, Alden took two 'shots' in a subconscious mimic of Jonas. Yup, definitely feeling it kick in now... pain... going... "Imma gonna sit down," he said, just before dumping his backside straight down on the ground. Alden looked a little surprised, but reached upwards and stretched out his arm in order to hand his buddy the bottle.

Jonas reached for the bottle and held it for a few seconds, staring at it. "Yeah, a purdy good idea ya had there. If'n you had'a fell, ain't no way I coulda stitched ya up now." Jonas took another swig and handed it back down to Alden. "Ain't sure what all's left in there, but ya can have it. Imma 'bout done for the night, 'tween the fightin', the bleedin', and the sewin'." He started to kneel down to the ground, but fell to his hands and knees. "Yep, that's it." He rolled to his side and stretched out on his back. "Damn good hunt."

Alden chuckled, a chocolatey sound of pure amusement at them both. He took the bottle back and cradled it protectively to his chest, then watched with a sense of distracted concern as Jonas collapse-tumbled into a comfy sleeping position.

"Night night, buddy," said Alden, putting the bottle to his lips and sucking in another gulp of painkiller. He sat there for a while, keeping half a lookout until he finished the remnants of the booze, then, still sat upright, he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Jonas mumbled something unintelligible as he was slowly drifting off into a liquor induced sleep.



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