The Genocide Condition Part 1 – A Hunter’s Heart
The job seemed simple at first, as usual. Tiko Corporation hired Jaque and I to hunt down some prey. As part of a major colonization effort of this corporation, they wanted a particularly predatory population of animals brought down to controllable levels. They new very little about the animal, aside from its physiology, because any attempts at behavioral studies or capture ended up in death, and no facts to recover… as if they knew they were being studied, and didn’t want to be.
When I saw the biological studies of the dead ones, they seemed odd to me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just a first-in scout, with a small bounty hunting business on the side, not a biologist or any kind of bio-engineer. But things seemed too structured inside that thing, too perfect. Hardly any differences from one to another. Of course, I’m not the expert, so I didn’t say anything.
These things are called Goraxian wardogs, from the planet Gorax. These beast are larger than normal men, standing on the hind legs, which they did quite often . They have coarse fur the emanates from sharp ended scales. They are very canine, in appearance, but very cat-like in movement. They have strong claws on all four paws, but the most outstanding feature is the extendible, under-belly spike-like horns. These iron-hard horns extend out from their belly, when the leap attack a victim, impaling it, thusly allowing the dog to devour it freshly skewered prey. These spikes are about as long as their legs, and stay close to beast’s underside when not in attack position. Very nasty natural weapons.
Gorax is a nice little planet, I must say. Quiet… almost too quiet. I should have stayed away. They sent us down a month ago, to mop up an already major population control effort. They had already wiped out a majority of them, in their large hunting parties, but not without taking a few hunter with them. It didn’t dawn on me exactly how major this effort was and how many they had killed until I got there. The things I learned, the horror stories I heard… made a man almost hate them. The hunters on the planet were obsessed, as if their lives revolved around the destruction of the Wardog species. This was the first notion Jaque and I got that this was more than population control.
From a big game hunter’s stand point, these wardogs were good prey, as I soon discovered. They were very deliberate, almost thinking. Each move they made seemed strategic. Their intelligence was grossly underestimated by the corporate reports. But there was something about them. Again, my keen sense of observation kicked in, as I noticed a strangeness about them and how they reacted to their environment. An uneasiness, but commanding domination about the environment; of the world around them; but this world didn’t seem to belong to them. More like they took it. But from who?
The hunting parties were always being replenished with new mercs, usually dregs pulled out of corporate prison and given a gun and dropped on the planet, not necessarily in that order. the night I arrived, a hunting party came in with one kill, 2 men surviving out of a party of 9. The two survivor were coated in blood, some their own. The dead were piled in the rear of the All-terrain land rover, the rover leaving a trail of blood. None of the bodies were whole, and all had their chests and/or backs sliced jaggedly along the axis. The survivors were better off dead when they arrived, and they were a day later. Apparently the belly-spikes of the wardogs have an incredibly brutal venom, of which we don’t have an antitox. This was not included in the reports.
The hunting expedition camp was built in a valley, below some low mountains covered in thick alien jungle. No extensive surveying had been done; we knew the terrain only by satellite data, which didn’t tell us much. The surrounding jungle was just beginning to be mapped, and by crude hands. This job was beginning to get complicated.
Two weeks later, I learned quite a bit; about the dogs, about what not to ask, about the politics and conspiracies of the expedition. The hunters were fragmented, hunting for their own reasons, sometimes for glory, others for death. The dogs were wearing down on them, and it was very apparent. The hunt was beginning to seem like a war; a war that these dogs have seen before and won.
The dogs seemed to be surviving, even after weeks worth of hunting parties, and hundreds of kills. We kill 2, six more arrive in their place. Gorax had a pest problem, and these pests were big and savage. Apparently, through observation, the wardogs multiply at alarming rates, and grow even faster. Their appetite for flesh is unrelenting during the short growth period, after which it seems they kill more for the fun of it than food. At least, that was the way the hunters interpreted the dogs.
Being ex-Fleet is something I don’t tell everyone. In fact, I paid a truth-assassin big creds to take it off my record and replace it with merc jobs. But somehow, someone knew. On nights when I’m not on patrol, I spend them in the only excuse for a bar in the encampment, the Dry Bolt. The liquor was watered down and laced with some kind of narcotic that made us easy to satisfy, to keep us under control. I didn’t care, the money was good. I chatted with a few gents about their situation, when I asked the question I never should have. “so when is the population going to be considered controllable?” The silence was uncomfortable. They didn’t hand around long.
As I left that night, I realized why that was the wrong thing to ask. They didn’t have plans to stop killing them… complete genocide. That was the last thought I had for that evening… at least, conscious thought. They came out of an alley next to the bar. The last thing I remember was “Next time, Fleet Man, don’t ask questions?”