So this is the first short I wrote to help me flesh out the background of Caden as well as to give me an exercise to make sure I was writing. This was back in April of 2019 for a writing group. They had weekly prompts and aimed to be 1000 words minimum, written in a week. I was a little slow to start, so a little late to post, but hit 1118 words and was pretty happy with the details in made me flesh out for the character’s younger years. The prompt for this week was “Write a detailed action scene with at least two characters, starting the action near the beginning, and finishing towards the end.”
by B. A. Maddux
Rain fell heavily over the jungle. Multiple layers of leaves gathered the falling drops into different waterfalls, splashing widely by the time they hit the dimly lit ground around the concrete and metal bunker. The recessed door in the front of the structure slammed open as a human teen wearing camouflaged fatigues over tactical armor backed out, pistol aimed through the door.
A deep, rumbling chuckle rolled from the structure’s doorway, right before a huge, bipedal Bear shifter ducked through the exit to follow the human. “I told you that you were wasting your time and ammo, cub.”
“Aiming at your head kept you back long enough for me to get out of the bunker, where you might have trapped me, Dekar.” The human said, continuing to back away.
“I can catch you out here too, Caden. I know all your tricks and weaknesses. You never shoot to kill,” the Bear said, rolling his shoulders.
“I can still slow you down, Dekar.” The human aimed at the Bear’s left knee and pulled the trigger. A shot rang out, followed by the sound of a ricochet off metal. The shifter kept advancing. Caden aimed again, steadying the shot. This time, he saw the shimmer of the magic field deflecting the bullet. “Really? You got an arcane shield?” he asked, incredulous.
Setting his feet in the wet mud to prepare a charge at the smaller male, the Bear gave a big, fang-filled grin. “I’ve learned from my last few defeats how to beat you. The only problem I face this time is deciding if I want to kill and eat you or just maul you and see if you will become useful as a Bear shifter.”
“Eat me? Dekar, you shouldn’t do that. You don’t know where I’ve been,” Caden said, holstering his pistol and coming to an abrupt stop as his back pressed against the huge trunk of a tree that provided most of the cover for the bunker.
“After three frustrating encounters, of course I researched the human my brother keeps at his side. I wondered why he didn’t bring you into our family,” Dekar growled.
He charged, his large foot paws throwing gouts of mud behind him. His right hand pulled back in preparation for a strike with his thick claws.
“I think you ruined Lavin on the idea of having a family,” Caden muttered, pushing off the tree as the Bear swung; rolling under the Bear’s strike as the sharp claws ripped deep gashes into the bark of the tree.
“He can always come back,” Dekar growled, turning around to take another swing at the human. The tips of his claws ripped through the cloth and armor covering Caden’s chest.
Caden stumbled back, pulling his flare wand from his belt. Instead of aiming it upward to signal a need for a pickup, he fired the magical ball of light at the Bear’s face. The energy smashed against the deflection shield that had previously stopped the pistol shots with a loud explosion and bright flash of light.
Dekar swung blindly towards where Caden had been. As the smoke cleared and the Bear’s vision returned to normal, he saw the human sprinting down one of the paths leading into the jungle. The shifter roared.
“All you accomplish by running away is exciting me, boy!” He dashed after the fleeing human, dropping down and shifting to full bear between his second and third step.
“Better excited than hungry,” Caden shouted as he slid through the mud under a thick branch that had fallen over the path. The human regained his feet rapidly on the other side as Dekar roared, slamming into the branch with a loud crack of snapping wood.
“I’m not a bear, so I can’t understand you when you’re in that form,” Caden taunted as he checked to make sure he still had his messenger bag after his muddy slide.
“That is your flaw, not mine,” Dekar growled. He was back on two legs, lifting the heavy branch over his head, giving the human a toothy grin as he came back into view. With a grunt, the shifter threw the log to the side.
“Son of a…” Caden cursed, turning to sprint away. He ran down a side path that was narrower. He heard the Bear crashing through the undergrowth behind him, slowly closing his lead.
“This was a lot more fun when you didn’t use magic. We could spar, then I could stun you with a nerve strike and leave you to think about all the bad choices you’ve made that drove your brother away,” Caden said, grabbing a small sapling to help him make a sharp turn to run down the side of a shallow stream.
Back on all fours, Dekar slid past the turn the smaller male had made. Letting out a frustrated roar, he quickly corrected and started gaining rapidly on the human.
“Threatening to eat me also ruins the fun rapport we’ve built during the times I’ve kicked your ass and then gone out of my way to not kill you,” Caden shouted.
The bear gained on the human, able to move much faster on four legs than Caden’s two could carry him. Dekar lunged forward just as Caden jumped up, arms stretching to get his hands wrapped around a hanging branch. Catching hold, he swung high enough for the charging bear to pass underneath him.
Bellowing in frustration as he missed the obnoxious teen once again, Dekar planted his feet in the wet mud, growling as his momentum slid him forward through the wet muck.
Abruptly, Caden let out a yelp as his handhold on the wet branch slipped, sending him flying forward through the air, head over heels to land belly-first on the angry bear shifter’s back.
The fingers of the human’s left hand grabbed at the thick fur of the bear’s shoulder as he gripped the shifter with his knees to keep from rolling off as Dekar shifted from full bear to bipedal, attempting to shake him off.
Desperate but focused, Caden quickly jabbed his right index and middle fingers into the soft flesh behind Dekar’s right ear, then the joint of the Bear’s jaw on that side and finally a nerve cluster at the base of the shifter’s neck.
Dekar let out a surprised grunt as his muscles went slack right before he lost consciousness.
“When I tell this story, I’ll say I meant to land on your back like that,” Caden groaned. He rolled the Bear over to make sure he could breathe then started limping back down the trail the way he had come from, holding a hand to the bear-claw slashes across his bloody chest.