Many Worlds Chapter 63
Jules found that traveling for more than just a single day quickly became very tiring. Certainly, they could have gone faster if they had a land vehicle, if it could even reach their destination, and if they could afford it. Unfortunately, land vehicles weren’t extremely common, and because of the land they would be on, were rather expensive to make. Even with that, they couldn’t actually travel everywhere. Not all valleys would have a large enough path or shallow enough slope down into them, no matter how well designed they might be. Helicopters or similar were even more expensive, even just for a short amount of use.
Thus, the eight people traveling continued onward. They were almost to their destination, anyway. They might have reached it sooner, but even though all of them were quite devoted to Many Worlds, they still had to spend time doing other things. Plus, there was only so much time they could spend before they were completely exhausted, even if they didn’t sleep. Apparently some people did still sleep. For those who didn’t… the official explanation was that the wristband put brains into a resting mode akin to sleep. That was, of course, almost entirely falsified. However, an explanation was needed since so many people had noticed it. Because it had been anticipated, the information was actually available before too many people had been asking worried questions. The official recommendation was to also try to get some real sleep, but Jules couldn’t, and didn’t want to. Herbert had told him that he would “probably be okay”… which was good enough. At this point, he assumed any horrible consequences would have already caught up to him.
John was the first to sight the structure they were heading for with his exceptional vision. Not that they weren’t anticipating it, but he pointed out its specific location, down in a valley. The valley itself sloped gently, and was somewhat surprisingly filled with tall grass that seemed almost like it could have always been there, if it weren’t for the random pieces of geography that still stuck out of it. It had only been three weeks, but all of the plants on Uesmeth were very… robust.
As they walked down into the valley, John noticed something… at the same time Jules felt movement. A lot of movement. However, before either of them could say anything, everyone else could feel the movement, and hear it as well. The ground shook slightly as what had appeared to be a large boulder stood up and huffed. Then, it slowly turned, its feet making heavy stomps. The creature could best be described as a rhinoceros, except it was more than fifteen feet tall, and much longer than that.
The group rapidly backed away as it turned. They weren’t sure whether to attack it and hopefully kill it in the surprise… or avoid shooting it so that it was not provoked. Hesitation led to the second as the default option. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that the rhinoceros was interested in whether they wanted to further bother it or not. They had come quite close to it, and it wasn’t happy. Sadly, nobody knew how to calm down a regular rhinoceros, let alone a larger, alien creature that probably just looked similar.
Without much warning, the rhinoceros charged. Its giant limbs trampled along and shook the ground. However, it really didn’t have time to get much speed over the short distance between it and its targets. Everyone was able to get out of the way, though Isaac just barely did. The rhino swiped at him with his horn, nearly impaling him. Then, it was past the group, and the chaos of battle broke out.
Jules quickly found that bullets from his pistol were almost useless. That wasn’t surprising, because he had heard that the much smaller, similar creatures on Earth took rifles to seriously injure. Fortunately, other people also had more powerful projectile weapons and laser weapons. However, people only had a short time to fire at the rhino before it turned around for another pass.
Mary and Ray were actually brave enough to attack it as it charged them, even though they had to dodge at the last moment. The rhino was certainly fast, but it wasn’t quick. That is, it had a high speed, but its reflexes were somewhat lacking. It couldn’t turn, and it could only aim its horn to a certain degree. Still, the two barely managed to get out of the line of its charge, because it was very wide. If they were in the middle, they would be pierced by its horn, but it was at least as wide as a truck, and they had to get far to the side to avoid being trampled under its feet. Yet, they still managed to get off attacks to either front leg, Mary slashing at the left and Ray hitting the front right with his hammer, from the side. Their attacks weren’t optimal, but they really couldn’t hit it directly, for fear of their weapons breaking or just being knocked out of their hands, or their bones breaking from the impact. Thus, they had to deal shallower wounds that were possibly not relevant.
The group circled around the rhinoceros like monstrosity as they fought, but they found themselves gradually moving. As they moved, they fought. Douglas’ laser pistol, combined with his ability to turn it into a kind of black fire, seemed the most effective. John also had a laser rifle that managed to penetrate its hide, and everyone had some amount of effect. Jules had taken to shooting for the eyes, since they were the most vulnerable. With all of the movement involved, he had mostly grazed the edges and eyelids. However, this added up with all of the other wounds it was getting.
The battle dragged on for several minutes, with the rhino gradually gathering more wounds, though none of them serious yet. Then, Isaac found himself with his back against a wall. There was only one place that had walls in the nearby area, and the battle had been leading them here. Isaac fired his assault rifle at the rhinoceros as it charged toward him. This kept its attention enough that it didn’t pay attention to the structure behind him, or perhaps it just assumed it could charge through anything including boulders. Regardless, it impacted with a resounding thud, whereas Isaac was flung off to the side as he tried to dodge. The rhino was stunned by the impact and sudden stop, giving a few moments of vulnerability. In the end, even its thick hide couldn’t hold out against the sustained attacks of eight weapons, and it collapsed.
Jules quickly went over to Isaac, who hadn’t yet gotten up. Fortunately, he found him breathing. However, there was a terrible gash on the front of his armor, covering the entire length of his chest. Jules also looked beneath and found that he still had several broken ribs, though nothing critical. He sighed in relief. Then, he looked up at the structure. Hopefully, this one would be worth exploring, especially with all the time and effort that had been involved to just get there.