Disclaimer: I in no way hold any claim over the series RWBY, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Horizon: Forbidden West, or Monster Hunter. Each respective series is owned by their respective creators/producers.

Monsters Among Us

Prologue Part 1: The Black Knight

11 Years Before Canon –

Unknown Location

To the residents of the world below you could be forgiven for missing the obscured outline of a black shape descending to the surface from above the tree line. The flying machine was mostly silent and mostly invisible in the dark of night, even to the more . . . 'enhanced' individuals among the populace. Despite the aircrafts considerable size, a slight hum from its engines was only accompanied by a soft blueish glow from a set of four thrusters mounted two each to either side of its rear. The craft came to hover over a break in the forest canopy, at its rear a hatch door slowly opened with a hiss from its interior depressurizing. Inside stood four figures, two each along either wall. One of which who stood nearest to the edge stepped forward as the voice of the crafts pilot came in over their secured comms channel.

"Drop zone reached Admiral! NAV has sent near the border of two neighboring nation. Local time reads as roughly 0130, current estimates place sunrise in about four to five hours. Area below is clear within ten miles; local fauna is approaching from heading North by North-East at a steady pace. You are clear to drop in 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 . . ." The pilot's voice, a young man supposedly, spoke confident and clear. As he began the countdown a digital display over the open hatch lit up and changed in-sync with the pilot's voice. " – 2 – 1 – Drop!" With the pilots command the first man took a step forward and fell from the craft to the ground below. The drop down was easily 75 feet, possibly closer to 100, yet the man fell to earth like a stone and landed as if he weighed no more than a feather. His black armor glinted in the moonlight as he stepped clear of the landing zone and a series of red lights came to life on both forearms. Ten seconds after he dropped the next man fell from above, landing with just as much ease as the first. Following the example set by the first he stepped clear, drawing a large broadsword from his hip as he did so. The third fell next, this one though was different from the rest of his companions. Ten feet or so from the ground a pair of stabilizing jets fired off from his legs, slowing his fall and gently easing him to the ground. Whereas the other members of the group had a very distinct military look to them this one was dressed much more casually with a sidearm strapped to his leg and bag across his back. As he stepped clear the final member of their group fell to join them, a scoped rifle already in his hands as he hit the ground. "Happy hunting boys, I'll be on standby to deliver The Bonded once you've set camp!" Above them their shuttle closed its rear hatch as it accelerated off into the clouds above and well out of sight.

"Ace, Spectre; head further into the forest east of us. Scout around for anything of use to us. The Dr. and I will move west into the mountains west of here, we'll find some place to set camp for the time being. Keep a low profile for now, send word if you come across any settlements." The swordsman and rifleman, Ace and Spectre respectively, nodded their affirmation before departing with weapons ready for anything they may encounter in the night.

A disembodied voice came into being over their linked comms channel as the two groups separated. It spoke in a synthetic yet feminine tone though still spoke rather assertively. "Do be advised, motion sensors are detecting large groups observing our party from a distance. Most likely the local wildlife though it is worth noting that I am unable to determine any recognized biological readings." The two remaining men began moving west as the more armored of the two opened a small rectangular panel on one of his bracers. Beneath was a small round light source shinning with a slow pulsing blue glow.

"Alice, set us a waypoint for the mountains west of here. See if you can breech local communication systems, try to remain unnoticed for the time being." A holographic display came to life over his arm then; the grid-like display was extremely simplistic; two green arrows were set roughly in the center pointing forwards to a golden waypoint icon that was currently only shown as an arrow pointing of the edge of the display. At the bottom of the holo-screen were two additional arrows smaller than the others and pointing off in the direction of their departed companions.

"Of course, Admiral." The feminine voice went silent, presumably to attend to her given tasks. The holo-display over the mans arm vanished in a blink as the panel over it was closed and with the Dr. in tow, they began their slow trek towards the mountain for beyond the forest boundaries.

Monsters Among Us –

One Hour Later –

Dr. ? POV

A casual, or I suppose semi-casual, stroll through the verdant woods of this nation to what I can only assume will become our new home was a mostly peaceful trek. Whether this would become our permanent residence or remain only a temporary dwelling was yet to be seen. Bruce and I had been travelling for about an hour or so before we came upon our first anomaly.

We'd come across a vast clearing hidden away in the depths of the forest. A lone oak tree stood in the center of the clearing casting its generous shadow over a wide area. Half a dozen stones stood perhaps 50 feet from the tree's base forming a semi-circle. Each of them stood easily 20 feet high and all were tilted at odd angles. The anomaly, however, came in the form of several charred corpses, the grass around them similarly burnt in disjointed patches. I passively registered Bruce requesting analysis, though given I was already knelt by one his request was rather unneeded.

"Bruce, these bodies are still fresh. Less than an hour at least; keep watch while I do this, whatever killed these is likely to still be nearby." I didn't bother waiting for confirmation, there was no need to after all. Bruce was the best of us by several leagues. 'Now as for these creatures . . .'

I'd already set my TacPad to begin scanning their bio-signatures as I attempted to discern what I could about them. Cause of death for them all seemed fairly obvious, a mix of immolation and numerous lacerations across the body somewhere within the last hour. Herbivores, all of them, with a quadrupedal stance and presumably herd animals. Their front limbs were set slightly lower than the rear limbs though all were rather thick, similar in build to something like an elephant though these were only about half the size of one. Each sported a thick tail that was as long as its body and ended in an assortment of spikes with each separate having a unique placement to some degree with the largest , the one I was currently examining, coincidentally having the most at a total of seven. Three at the tipoff the tail pointing back and two each to either side at almost a 90-degree angle. The top of the head was covered by a solid shell-like material that extended from the nose up past the back of the head forming a crest which was vaguely reminiscent of some species of hadrosaur. Each crest ended in a smooth nub with four spikes, two to either side, arranged in different positions. Additionally, two smaller spikes sprouted from its cheeks and it was a safe assumption that similar spikes would be found on the other side of its face were I to lift it off the ground.

As previously noted; each corpse present had suffered burns to a minimum of 40% of its body and half a dozen lacerations and other cuts from an unknown assailant, the largest of which I could easily fit three fingers in. The one before me looked as if it had been set alight before being lifted and thrown. Two legs appeared broken, and the neck was bent unnaturally, I'd guess it had snapped when it was thrown but even knowing that . . . 'This thing has to weigh close to three tons, what could've just thrown it as if it were a ragdoll?' As if to answer my inquiry a dull tone sounded from my TacPad, as I pulled up the scans results I could hear Bruce engaging something behind me. No matter though, I could feel no hint of concern emanating from him as . . . 'Well, that changes things.' On the screen of my TacPad, in bright red letters, read 'Rift Breach Detected'.

A doorway into the realm forgotten, we must have missed it by mere minutes. Selecting the notification brought up much more detailed information about the now dissipated rift, as I read through the scanned data I was passively aware of a presence stalking forward at the edge of my senses. 'Rift remained open for nearly three hours.' The approaching presence was getting closer, trying it's best to remain unnoticed. '32 breaches registered, three of which are accounted for here and at least one is likely our mystery predator.' Presence was only 20 feet away now; roughly human sized, furred and smelled strongly of wet dog.

'The rift was unstable, volatile even, but it wasn't the first to open in this region.' Only seven feet away now, I could hear the beast ragged breathing as its leg muscles tensed.

'We'll need to seal this region later, but we've gotten everything we can for now.' As the beast leapt for me I could also feel another approaching from behind it at a full sprint. In one swift fluid motion my custom sidearm was drawn, aimed at the first creature and one trigger pull fired an explosive round that vaporized its head. As I look up I see the headless body collapse and slide forward till it rests only a foot from where I was. Behind it is another one in mid leap bearing its razor like fangs and claws as it descends on my position. There's a flash of sliver from the side and then a metal chain is there wrapping around its body and one of its arms, its razor tip burying into the muscle between its shoulders and neck. The chain was suddenly pulled tight and the black mass it had ensnared was brought back to the earth. Bruce was at the other end of the chain, it seeming to sprout from beneath the armor covering his arms. " Bruce; keep it alive, would you?"

In the time it took for me to stand and speak Bruce had already closed the distance between himself and the beast that had quickly risen again, easily a distance of 30 feet. His right bracer was fully formed into a combat configuration, forming a slim but sturdy metal blade 18 inches long. As he approached the beast the bracer rapidly shifted back to an inactive state and upon reaching the beast he delivered a swift powerful jab to its abdomen then immediately ducking under a wild swing from its left claw. As he passed under its swing he caught the beast arm in the crook of his own and with a mighty heave threw the monster onto its back. It somewhat found its footing almost instantly and tried to scramble away from the monster of a man assaulting it but with near half of its body tied up it took only three measly steps before Bruce had launched himself forward and quickly had it pinned beneath him. One of the creatures arms had been secured beneath its own body as it fell with Bruce now on its back. One knee was digging into its back just shy of where its spine would be, over his right arm the bracer shifted once more to a blade, and it was quickly thrust through its shoulder into the ground further locking it in place. As I approached it was wildly snapping its jaws in my direction, desperately trying to inflict some kind of superficial damage onto one of us. "Bruce, if you would please?" A metal click and hiss came from his right arm and the blade disconnected from his bracer, remaining impaled in the monsters shoulder. He slowly, exaggeratedly even, made a fist and swung down onto the beasts armored head. An audible crack was heard as the beast fell silent and still, when Bruce pulled his fist back the armor over its face had one large distinct fracture between its eyes and reaching up till it had split apart completely. Its glowing red eyes still watched our every move with hate and a possible intrigue but for the moment it had seemingly admitted its defeat.

"Satisfied Isaac?"

'Yes actually, I am. Now. Lets see what we have here.' With the Admiral holding it down; I could, somewhat safely, observe our unwilling specimen.

Monsters Among Us –

Admiral Bruce ? POV

With all of the smaller and weaker ones now exterminated the largest of the pack was all that remained and with it held securely beneath me Dr. Cross could commence his examination of the specimen. These creatures; as a whole, were savage, persistent too and astoundingly hardy. Even severing a limb or three wouldn't necessarily stop them from fighting, or at the very least attempting to. They were all very wolf-like in appearance, in fact they very strongly resembled the werewolves commonly depicted in 20th century fiction works. There were some discrepancies though; to start with the fur covering their bodies was a dark black appearing almost like an empty void. A more uniform feature across each of these wolf-monsters was a thick white boney armor covering the face like a pseudo-mask. The masks were primarily smooth with a thin sort of pattern etched into the surface that glowed with an eerie red light. One or two among the dozen or so here had the addition of several small spikes sprouting from the mask, additionally these few had the beginning of similar bone growing out from the spine and each elbow.

The majority of these wolves were roughly the same size, standing at about five and a half feet and while its true these beasts were rather hardy they still remained almost trivial to dispatch. Their attacks were savage but sloppy, completely uncoordinated in their execution. The exception to this however was one wolf, it stood just over seven feet tall. White bone armor covered its upper arms in a jagged and disjointed mess and the spikes that had grown from its back were much thicker and sharper than the similar formations found on a few of the smaller wolves. Additionally, thick bone plating had begun forming over its back, chest and upper legs. Even from a distance I could tell that its mask was much thicker than the others and was mostly covered in rows of small two-inch spikes. It hung in the back as over a dozen of the smaller ones threw themselves to their imminent death against me as it observed its lessor's foe. Bigger, and clearly smarter, this one was content to watch to see what I could do.

After the Alpha had watched me slaughter all of the lesser wolves it must have decided that Dr. Cross was the easier prey and took off on all fours in a full sprint to the doctors location. The last two of the lesser wolves were beheaded in one clean swing of my blade. As the bodies fell a mental command had my left bracer shifting into one of its more versatile utility state's. A long chain with a serrated bladed tip extended from the bracer and a flick of my arm sent the chain hurling to the last remaining wolf like an arrow. Guided by the nano-machines that formed the chain and controlled via my neural implant the chain wrapped itself around the wolfs body before I pulled it tight and brought the Alpha back down. I had intended to quickly kill the monster, drive my blade through the side of its skull but the Doctor seemed to have other plans.

Which in turn led to where I now stood; with my knee planted on its back and my blade detached in its shoulder, pinning it to the earth as it remained entangled in the sturdy chain. It had tried to snap at my companion as he drew near but I'd easily discouraged further similar actions as was evident by the large crack now splitting its mask.

Doctor Cross had already set his TacPad to scan the wolf as he approached, I only kept somewhat still as he verbally documented his observations. "Open Sequence Two, begin audio log 001. Dr. Isaac Cross, examining unknown specimen from local Fauna upon a yet to be identified occupied world. Creature appears predatory in nature, though is not the culprit responsible for the corpses previously examined. Much to small and while clearly strong still not nearly strong enough to lift and throw a beast weighing nearly 3000 pounds." He moved to the beasts arm, the one not trapped beneath it that is, and it instantly took a swing at his face in response but accomplished very little as Isaac caught the limb with ease and continued his examination as it tried and failed to reclaim its arm. "Additional 'bone' segments growing externally, possibly indicative of age? External 'bone' seems to slowly form a sort of organic armor and seems to experience continuous, or near continuous, growth. Hmm . . . potentially more similar to something like a turtles shell than it is true bone? Will need a sample to confirm." He dropped the arm and was quickly out of reach before the wolf swung again. He moved down its side and looked over its back. "Specimens back shows similar 'bone' growths and features a line of spikes running down the length of its spine, the largest of them looks to be about eight or so inches and the smallest just shy of an inch. Upper legs show only minimal growth, visible formations here are slightly soft to the touch as well. Likely began forming somewhat recently." As he continued back up the wolfs opposite side a tone emitted from his TacPad though he ignored it for now. "The bone pseudo-armor covering the chest is solid and looks to be about one and a half to two inches thick. Even so, Admiral Christians hit to the region shattered a large portion of it. Bone plating looks to have broken into several dozen smaller fragments; each fragment remains loosely attached to the beasts chest and can be pulled free with a moderate amount of force. Will secure several pieces for – Oh, that's . . . new?" The bone fragment he pulled from the wolfs chest was held in the palm of his hand and drifting off it like tiny leaves where little white flakes. Over the course of a minute we watched the fragment become smaller and smaller till it had completely faded away, leaving nothing to show it had ever even existed in the first place. We both looked around almost in sync to see that the dozen other wolf bodies lay littered around us in various states of accelerated decay, white flakes and black smoke drifting away into the night.

"It appears that upon death, or removal from the main body, these creatures experience a form of rapid decay." The Doctor, still mesmerized by the sight, retrieved his TacPad in response to my observation. Having now worked closely with him for more than two centuries I could see the minor expression of shock come over his face as he began rambling off both what his TacPad discovered and what he could then conclude from there. "Creature only registers a heartbeat? No lung or other respiratory system identified, no stomach or digestive track. No liver, no bladder, no recognized reproductive organs. Missing nervous system, missing circulatory system . . . missing blood?" Isaac was speaking in a near whisper by the end of his short rant. I could somewhat understand his disbelief, with the exception of magical or artificial constructs something like this beast shouldn't be alive. That it did have heart only confirmed that whatever these beasts were, they were definitely not a construct or golem of some sort. At least not one we were familiar with. "The beast – the beast has no aura either. I've rescanned this . . . monster, twice now and all results remain the same. No organs, save a heart, and no aura. No aura means no soul. This thing, this . . . abomination, its just an empty shell." He gazed upon the trapped beast with great pity for the existence it had been fated.

I could somewhat relate to the sentiment. Had things been different, had I been just a little weaker, had I bowed to my supposed fate; then I could have easily become like this rage-filled monster. A soulless abomination, good for nothing more than to be aimed at a target and set loose. I've never paid much heed to fate; I've always believed that our fates, whatever they may be, are meant to be changed.

With a deep sigh, the good Doctor retrieved his TacPad to end his in-progress audio log. "Close sequence two, end audio log 001." Without further delay he drew his side arm, pressed it to an exposed piece of fur just below the mask and pulled the trigger. The explosive round detonated before the wolf could try to escape again, vaporizing a large part of its chest. With it now dead it began its rapid decay just as the rest had before, a mix of black and white drifting from its corpse. A mental command had my blade pulling itself from the ground and swiftly reconnecting to my arm brace as the chain unwound itself from the decaying body and returned to my other brace.

"Ready to continue Isaac?" His response was just a nod as he stood, holstering his pistol as he did. Together we continued on our path to the mountains. Sun would be up in about three hours, and I wanted us in the mountains before sunrise. We were fortunate that the time scale of this world was a mirror to that of Earth. Another two miles or so still needed to be traversed, time we moved on.

LotBK –

Reaching the mountain base took us just under two hours, the hike was uneventful and fortunately rather boring. Since passing the first anomaly several miles back the forest had been almost eerily silent as we passed through. Alice had been monitoring our Life Radar ever since we'd started moving again; we'd only been walking for about 20 or so minutes before she detected two separate entities hovering 50 meters away, one to either side of our position.

That she was able to detect more of those soulless monsters should not have been possible. The Life Radar worked by passively identifying soul imprints in around a 350-meter radius. It had long been known that every aura, which is to say every soul, naturally radiated a sort of signal. Now, as a general rule, every living being had a somewhat unique aura signature, the said signature isn't the vital part of how the radar works. Where no two aura signatures were identical, a soul imprint was far less varied. With a signature you could easily identify one individual from another but the range was generally very small, though it would depend on the strength of the person looking. With an imprint however you would be able to tell the species of something, perhaps its size as well, and very little else.

So then the question becomes; how does the Life Radar, a device which tracks souls, track a soulless beast? Well, that is where we experience first hand one of the many benefits to working with an artificial intelligence.

Alice was the first to propose that if the Life Radar could track where souls were, then perhaps it could also track where they weren't. Now, at first, that may sound rather absurd. How do you track something that isn't even there to begin with? Well, to answer that we need a better understanding of these soulless fiends. While they may not have a soul which we can track, they do still have a space within their being where their soul should reside. Without a soul actually present all that remained was an empty void, and that void could be tracked. It took about 20 minutes but Alice was able to subtly modify our Life Radar's to identify the voids of the indigenous 'life'.

Fortunately none of those wolfs saw fit to attack us again though its important to note that over time more and more of the creatures had amassed around us, though none of them were willing to cross that 50 meter line. I am hopeful that some of these monsters saw how easily I had slaughtered their brethren but in actuality it was much more likely they kept their distance for another reason.

So; here the two of us stood at the base of the mountains, a jagged uneven path lie before us leading deeper into the range and behind us roamed the veritable horde of soulless beasts just within the tree line. Despite their lack of a soul these beasts still exhibited very animalistic behavior and most animals, especially those of a more magical or mystical nature, had frequently been observed to avoid the larger predatory beasts. By that reasoning, whatever presence held the wolves at bay called these mountains home. In any case, we would be laying claim to an area here, hopefully we could avoid whatever lay amidst the cliffs but the persistent sense of impending doom does lead me to believe otherwise.

Making our way into the mountains proved to be more tedious than we had initially expected. The already uneven path was filled with loose stones and it seemed that every half dozen steps one of us would our footing and stumble. It hadn't helped our situation any that the light rain that had started only 15 minutes prior was rapidly becoming a near constant stream pelting us from above and with the terrain becoming slick our progress upwards was significantly slowed. Ahead of us the gradual climb we had been partaking in for the past hour suddenly switched into a steep vertical cliff face. The mountain top still towered far above us; its peak seeming to kiss the storm clouds gathered high above as each flash of lightning danced in the sky illuminating the region for nought but a brief moment.

As we prepared to make the vertical climb Alice feminine voice crackled to life to life over our joint comms systems. "Alert! Void presence detected ahead of our current path! Void registering at 3.2 times the size of previously encountered specimens. I do so recommend extreme caution proceeding forward." An idle thought had both my gauntlets shifting to stand-by mode in response. Crimson LED's lit up on each of my forearms, a single thought would send each shifting to a ready state in less than a second.

"Well; I suppose we know what's been keeping the wolves at bay than, don't we Doctor?" My comment only earned me an affirmative nod from Isaac as he switched the safety of his sidearm off. With each of us finding solid hand holds in the craggy cliff-face we began a slow deliberate climb to meet whatever beast awaited us at the top. The rain had begun to fall upon us harder, the wind howling in our ears as lightning and thunder crashed overhead like a symphony in the sky. "Well, this isn't at all foreboding in the slightest."

This final climb was relatively short when compared to our journey thus far. When Alice first made us aware of the void presence awaiting us above, I briefly entertained the thought that this was just another wolf. Perhaps larger and stronger than the ones we met before but still, just another wolf easily dispatched. The thought was quickly abandoned however as extensive research had decisively proven that the size of an organisms Aura had no relation to the size of the beast itself and I could only presume that these voids would be, if not exactly the same, then similar in nature. As I finally pulled myself to my feet at the top of the cliff I can only say that the soulless beast which awaited us was indeed not a wolf and was in fact a bear. That is if bears happened to be the size of a full grown bull elephant.

An image of a woman's face, Alice, flashed onto the top corner of my H.U.D. with a rather pensive expression. "Admiral, I've initiated your suits scanning functions. Results will be compiled shortly . . . do try to stay alive in the meantime sir." I wasn't really given the privilege of responding to the sass as the demon bear had charged for me the second I was spotted. Even from a distance I was able to see that this monstrosity was powerful, and up close I could clearly see why. Physically; with the exception of its impossible size, it strongly resembled a bear, even sounding like one when it roared its challenge. Similar to the wolves we had encountered earlier in the night its fur was the deepest, darkest of blacks and was starkly contrasted by the shinning white bone armor covering the vast majority of its body. Each of its stocky limbs were the width of a tree trunk and I could feel each thunderous step it took as it rapidly advanced on me, the ground shaking below as the beast moved what could only be multiple tons of pure muscle. The bone armor had grown to such a point that each individual bone plate along its back had become interlocked, forming a massive thick shell of spiked bone. Its underside and each limb was similarly covered, though the bone covering over these regions was thinner and had formed more sporadically than it had across its back. At the top of each forelimb two thick spikes sprouted from its shoulders with smaller spikes growing out from all over the bone covering its meaty arms and at its paws were four shorter, thicker spikes over where each knuckle would be. Its mask had similarly become overgrown, now covering the entirety of the upper portion of its face and was etched in a glowing red pattern like the wolves masks from before.

It gave a thunderous roar as it approached me, eyes glowing an evil crimson with an almost tangible look of such extreme hatred and loathing for all things living. With speed surprising for something of such a size it charged me down, tearing at the rocky ground with each powerful step it took. I dodged left, just narrowly avoiding the razor sharp fangs as a quick though had twin blades ejecting from each of my gauntlets. Rearing up on its hind legs the monster absolutely towered over me at almost 30 feet as it began to quickly swipe at me with its claws. It swung with its left and I caught the claws with my right blade. The strike was deflected away from me as I spun, following the claw with my blade till it slid free, then ducking under a swing from its right forelimb. Two steps brought me chest to chest with the titanic bear and I quickly thrust forward with my left arm, the blade slipping through gaps in the external bone. I step right then start to sprint forward, aiming to drag the blade through its side but it only moves a couple inches before getting caught on something; whether it was the outer bone or the matted fur that stopped it doesn't matter, a command sent through my implant detaches the blade, leaving sticking out of the monsters' side as I continue sprinting away.

Three shots ring out in the night as I escape the beasts generous reach, claws swinging at where I had been only a second prior. Explosive rounds detonate against its bone encased back; spikes were blasted into shrapnel, including the larger one over its right shoulder, and the bone plating in the same area crack several times over. This monstrous bear hardly noticed the damage as it abruptly switched targets and charged for Isaac. My left bracer shifted again to a blade tipped chain as I pursued the creature from behind. I fired the chain forwards, sending it flying from my wrist as I guided its path to wrap it around one of the bears thick rear legs. Planting my feet I pulled the chain tight as the bear leapt for Isaac who fired another two shots into its face as he evaded fangs and claws. The bear was mid leap when the volatile projectiles crashed into its mask; spikes shattered into splintered pieces from the force but save for the superficial damage the beast remained relatively unscathed as it fell to the ground with a heavy slam.

With the bear only temporarily incapacitated I charged for the down beast as Isaac fired upon it with his custom rounds. As I neared the beast I recalled the metal chain and clambered onto the bears back. The bear was immediately working hard to throw me off but I held firm to the bone plates covering its backside. Try as it may have it couldn't manage to shake me, its arms unable to reach me in any way. It roared in unrestrained fury as it continued bucking this way and that while Doctor Cross continued to fire upon it from the side lines. Each round shattered more and more of the spikes adorning its organic armor and the bone plates themselves were slowly becoming littered in a spiderweb of cracks. Suddenly the bear rose up on its hind legs, I tried quickly to slide down its side and bring it to earth with me but I had barely begun to move when it leapt back and slammed me against the wall behind us. I was crushed between the wall and a ten ton animal, the wind knocked out of me for a moment.

When the bear moved again it was once more in pursuit of Isaac who had simply refused to cease firing his side arm. I was left sitting in a fresh indent in the wall as Isaac and the bear danced around each other with deadly grace. I wasn't hurt, not physically at least though my pride was another story, but this was getting just a little ridiculous. Unnatural beast or not, this bastard is covered in bone not steel!

Isaac was doing well on his own, an impressive feat given that he was primarily a scientist not a combatant, though he was still a Knight. His firearm sent one last explosive round into the beasts chest as he ducked under a savage swing of its claw then ejected a dagger from his wrist and thrust it into one of the monsters eyes. It roared out in pain and in rage and reached out for where the good Doctor had been but he had already safely escaped its reach. Before it could pursue him in its rage I crashed into its side, knocking it off balance. It swung and missed as I spun around its back and finally recalled my blade that had remained lodged in its side.

Of course it noticed that happen and was none to pleased with me for the action, it spun around to face me only to have my blade jammed into its remaining eye. It tried to retreat as it bellowed in absolute fury but my blade remained lodged in it face and it was unable to escape me. Blinded and enraged it snapped its jaws hoping to claim a limb before my free fist slammed into it. Its mask, which had remained largely intact till now, fractured from the blow. The bear, now with bits of mask hanging from its head and littering the floor, was dazed for only a moment before my blade was pulled free from its eye and quickly thrust straight through its forehead. The monster fell still for only a second before collapsing like a puppet with its strings cut.

I withdrew my blade as the bear began dissolving into flakes and smoke. From my side Isaac spoke up as we watched the beast fade. "Spectre and Ace have checked in," lightning flashed overhead, interrupting him as the rain began falling harder. "they've found refuge in a village near the coast. I'll forward you their report but most notably they've encountered more of these soulless beast. The locals call them 'Grimm', with two 'M's apparently." As stated, my own TacPad received the forwarded report from our wayward companions.

"Bruce, I've uploaded the newly scanned data from our recent adversary for your review. In addition, I have managed to breech local communication relays. I will transmit official communications details to the BAC NorthStar but for the moment, may I welcome you gentlemen to Remnant." Alice had been displaying several images and data points in relation to what she reported. Firstly was a computer file icon titled 'Gimm Bear?', it flashed twice in the center of my HUD before being minimized and pushed to the side. Secondly two segments of what looked like audio waves were brought to view. The left hand one was labelled as 'Trans-Realm Communications Relay' while the right hand was labelled as 'Remnant Local Communications'. Between the two segments was a thin silver line flashing from one to the other and back again at a steady pace. Truth told I only vaguely understood what it was I was looking at. And finally an image of the planet dominated my vision, a blinking green dot marking my location. The image of the world changed to show one large continent locally identified as 'Sanus'. The landmass was split into two with the left side being identified as the nation 'Vacuo' and the right side being the nation 'Vale'.

"Alice, send Spectre a summary of our findings. They are to meet us here by weeks end." A quick 'Yes sir' was given in response as Alice's holo image flashed away with a nod. I stepped away from the fading bear, Isaac was knelt down documenting what he could before it completely vanished. The area here was somewhat suitable to our needs. The plateau was comfortably large with one wall along the back going higher up the mountain. The rain was pooling at our feet however, something we'd need to address sooner rather than later. With two of the remaining three sides dropping straight down 50 feet we only had one entry point left for us worry about defending. I'd seen far better areas, but this would suit our needs just fine. It would never make do for a primary base of operations, but a checkpoint of sorts would do nicely.

With the sun rising over the forest at my back I set my beacon so that Pilot may bring us the supplies needed for us to set camp. This storm would pass by in another hour or two, and by the time Pilot reached us I would ensure the area would be dry.

The NorthStar currently held a crew of about 1500 on board, at bare minimum only 200 were required to keep the ship running smoothly during peace times. Which meant that for the other 1300 on board this world, this Remnant, was to be become their new home. Who knew how long we'd need to be here, and even after our presence was no longer required there would undoubtedly be those who would wish to stay among the families they would inevitably make. Regardless, our mission here could take us anywhere from one year to 100, and failure to see our drop through successfully could easily see this world split down the middle.

I would stand watch for the day, allowing Isaac to rest or continue his research at his preference. The forest below stretched on beyond how far my eyes could see, a beautiful sight of emerald green. Roars could occasionally be heard coming from the forest below, soulless beast or something more I couldn't be sure. It wouldn't matter in the end. My people and I had triumphed over many a foe. From Galactic Empires of infinite number to Gods of olde with unimaginable power. I myself had challenged both Death and Fate and returned in some manner of victory. Our enemies always laid claim to the same ends regardless. They would fade from memory, from time, not unlike these soulless creatures upon Remnant.

Our foes, Grimm or otherwise, would fade away with their defeats. Only white flakes and black smoke left drifting through the sky.

Authors Note: As I do work a full-time job and have other projects I put my time into updates for this story, as well as 'Tales From The ARK: The Island', will be infrequent. My plan going forward is to write, edit and post a complete arc for one story all at once before moving on to work on the next arc for the other story. Please comment any questions or suggestions you may have; reviews are also greatly appreciated!