Author: The Lord J
This was not right.
Everything was wrong. Seconds ago she was sat quite happily in her dorm room studying her art history homework. Now, after a brief flash of indescribable pain, she was stood half-naked, in a cold dark back alley in some part of a horrible looking town - and it was dark. Pitch black, almost.
Worse than that, something was stalking her.
She edged back into the shadows, away from the hissing sound she could hear following her. She shrank down to her knees and tried to make herself as small as possible. With any luck the shadows would be enough to conceal her from whoever or whatever was there.
Unfortunately her stalker was not that easy to shake. The horrifically distorted form ambled out of the shadows, it's movements a curious combination of both gracious and lumbering.
She gasped and her eyes went wide, her breath held, waiting for the inevitable killing blow that would end her life. She had nowhere to run and this thing had anatomy that could only be designed for killing.
The monster closed in, hissing and grunting as it did so, waving it's claws and arms around as if flexing it's muscles; but as it got closer, it stopped, shook it's head as if in confusion, and backed away, stumbling as it went. Then it hissed again, turned, and ran at an incredible speed, vaulting up two stories onto a building opposite the alley, disappearing from view.
She breathed again, and closed her eyes as tears came. What the hell was going on?
A man scuffled along the alley past her, concentrating on the floor and not even looking at the scared blonde girl weeping in the corner. Traumatized by her experience, the girl merely stayed there, crying and trying to figure out what to do.
More people shuffled past her, none of whom took any notice. She was just another down and out on a planet full of them, though she didn't know it.
Another man stumbled along the alley, bent over with a walking stick, but instead of passing her by, as he neared he slowed to a stop. He lowered his hood to reveal what could only be the face of an aged war veteran. Scars lined his face along with a regimental pip on his forehead that denoted his rank, but his once military-standard haircut was now reduced to tufts of grey sticking out at odd angles; his days in the military were long over. He knelt down near the girl with considerable effort, and peered at her.
He spoke to her, but his language was one not known to the girl. He spoke in a curious, guttural, yet strangely elegant tongue that sounded like none she had heard before; there were traces of English in its roots, but making out what he was saying was still impossible.
She shrugged - the universal 'I don't know' gesture.
He simply smiled, stood up, and held out his hand. She took it and he helped her up; he indicated to walk down the alley back the way he had come originally, and they walked together, the girl hugging her sides to try and stay warm.