How the Devil Shed Skin | Excerpt: First Hunt
Word Count: 1,166
Tags: Monster hunters, parasites, hunting, violence
Genre: Action, Paranormal
Content Warnings: Killing a child
Description: Of course, Celezar's first hunt as part of the new Lowell Hunters deals with parasites. Of course.
The shambling being approached him, its tendrils emerging from its veins and skin pulsing with gaseous nodes. He walked backwards as he shot at it with a vengeance, his face twisted with disgust and anger.
If there was one type of inhuman he had absolute disregard for, it was parasites. They were unclean and physically invasive, trapping their victims within their own bodies while twisting them into something unrecognizable. It was wretched. It was, quite frankly, disgusting. Nauseating. And this was coming from him, a creature with very distant relations to fungi.
Of course, his first hunt with his new group would deal with them. Of course.
They arrived at the town after receiving a call to the Cellar of some monstrous outbreak. The person who called also fell victim to the parasites. There was nothing anyone could do but find the source of the creatures and defeat them.
The once-a-man before him moaned sickly, reaching out to him with a twisted visage. Without giving him much of a glance, Celezar shot him, and his body fell along with the others steadily piling up around the town.
The helicopter flew overhead, as did several drones, courtesy of Trevor, the head technician of the Lowell hunters. A sound was made over the radio.
"There are more within that house near you, Celezar," he said.
"Sent," Celezar responded, reloading his gun before entering said house. His breath hissed through the mask over his face while he moved.
Typically, hunters didn't need to wear masks or protective gear during hunts, even when parasites were involved, but this was something else entirely. It was pure, overwhelming infestation, gaseous and sporous in nature. Jean and some of the other men were looking for their entry point, starting from the drains. Because parasites were nasty like that.
Moving through the house, he spotted movement out the corner of his eye and turned, not hesitating to shoot at a time like this. If he was human, it would have been something worth possibly regretting, but he knew for certain there were more infested within the house even without needing to be told. He could sense them.
His shot rang true, hitting an infested woman in the chest, and she hit the floor. She drooled a yellow liquid out of her mouth, and he backed away from the body. The parasite within her would die, so long as it didn't come into contact with any more fresh, organic matter. Because it wasn't just humans who were infested, no—the parasites got the animals, too. It was almost a worse-case scenario.
He quickly disposed of the other creatures within the house before leaving. Trevor's drone flew above him, out to find someone else to aid. He watched several of if not most members of his group sweep through the town, the poor, ruined town of Southaven. It would take one hell of a cover-up to explain what happened.
"We found the source of the parasites, men," Jean's voice crackled over the radio. He sounded as if he was in the middle of a fight. "It's in the water system."
Celezar glanced at another man named Calvin, who made a face along with him behind his mask. The town had no chance against something like that. "Need help, Boss?" Celezar asked.
"No...It's a surprisingly small bastard. This whole town is going to need a purge, from top to bottom."
"Sent." Celezar walked with Calvin as they surveyed the town for stragglers. The bespectacled man looked rather sick.
"I'm never gonna be able to eat again," he bemoaned, a hand over his stomach. Despite his griping, he kept his eyes on the alert.
Nodding, Celezar huffed to himself. It was reasons like this that he became an inhuman hunter. What did these humans do to deserve such a fate? Parasites were the mosquitoes of the inhuman world; they had no purpose. No one cared about them. There was no reasonfor them. Parasites, infamous for their ungodly ability to breed, had absolutely no shortage of their kind. But there were other ways for them to preserve their offspring without infesting another creature against its will. Not that any human knew of this...
He exhaled again. All he could do was help the cleanup and hope they never had to deal with parasites again.
Something moved out the corner of his eye. "Watch out!" he shouted, shoving Calvin away as a long tendril shot out towards him.
Calvin fell to the ground, rolling into a low crouch. Celezar quickly unsheathed one of his daggers and cut the tendril in half, then cracked a vial of holy water over the twitching limb to destroy it. Looking at where it came from, he saw one more shambling person completely infested. It was a child. Eyes staring off with a dead gaze, they appeared no older than ten or nine. Like the woman, they were drooling a yellow liquid.
Anger swelled within Celezar's body. "Son of a bitch!" he swore, taking out his dual swords and dashing towards the child. Without hesitating, with almost inhumanly fast speed, he sliced the child in half and spun to take its head off. He then jumped away before the tendrils could shoot out from his proximity and shot them with accuracy. In front, Calvin threw a vial to the body, and it cracked open, causing the body to bubble and swell grotesquely before exploding.
A safe distance away, Celezar swung his blades of the foul blood, then sheathed them. Quietly, he said a prayer from the Ragna religion. No one deserved such a fate, let alone a child. He nodded at Calvin, who seemed to be thinking something similar. Someone had to do it.
"The threat is dead." Jean sounded a bit winded. "How are you guys? Sound off."
"No problems here," said Calvin, looking around for any more surprises.
"Same here," came the voice of Butch, an older man in the group.
"Likewise," said Nicholae, one of the other leaders. "All's well, on our side."
Jean exhaled. "Good. Rendezvous back at the helicopter. We've a situation to explain to Ulrich."
Ulrich was the unfortunate bastard, and Jean's younger brother, who dealt with the press and authorities when it came to inhuman matters. He was going to have to spin some tall tales for this one.
"Sent," said Calvin and Celezar in unison. They then started running to the helicopter that began to land near them. As they did, Celezar figured the day was over. It wasn't his best idea of a first hunt, but the job was done. Because of all the chaos, he figured no one would even notice he had been showing off a bit with his speed and accuracy.
But that wasn't exactly the point.
As the helicopter took off to pick up the other men, he sat within, looking out the window at the oozing remains of the child's body on the ground.