When you tell me to write about an animal, I’m not going to be conventional. Mantis shrimps are probably the coolest animals in the world. Monogamous, always fighting, breaking the sound barrier, seeing 16 different levels of light—awesome. So what if they were massive? What if you wanted one for yourself? Read on for a tight little story.
Like a tightening rope the group of hunters converged on the rainbow beast. The rocky shore was difficult to traverse, but years of practice meant their footing was sure. They kept communication up, a colleague in sight at all times. This was as routine as the tide.
The creature eyed them warily, it’s sight stalks jutting to and fro, picking up movement all around. It didn’t move from where it stood, pointed appendages poised and steady. It could have run, but Mantii live to fight.
One of the hunters got too close. A barbed limb shot out, faster than any of the hunters could see. A bang disorientated everybody in the space as sound broke. Viscera sprayed out into the foamy water.
The body was pulled back towards the animal, but it flung the meat away, not caring for food. Only for blood. An excited chattering emanated from it’s mouth.
One of the men threw a javelin, a large, heavy spear with hooked jags along the head. It missed, glancing from the chitin of the giant cray-fiend.
It spun round, legs moving with extreme speed. Snap, crack. Another messy corpse went flying. The hissing grew louder.
The humans stood firm. They were inured to this, trained for loss, practised in bewilderment. Combating a Mantii was the holiest of battles; to kill one was a mighty glory.
To capture one was beyond imagining.
A hunter moved in from behind the monstrosity, a newly opened vantage point. He swung strong leather binds attached to heavy rocks. He aimed at the beast’s legs.
It barely hit, managing to swing around two of the multi-coloured legs. The critter instantly fell. Collapsing into the pools of water between the rocks, the sun glinted off its armour. Thousands of colours. It would have been wondrous were it not for the danger.
And it was still dangerous. One of the hunters, in her excitement, leaped up on a rock, letting out an exultation. She underestimated the beast’s reach.
Another bang, the air supercharged and burning. The smell of blood was filling their noses. A headless cadaver fell under the waves.
While it was momentarily distracted, the hunters’ final weapon was brought into place. A massive globe of crude glass, as colourful as the creatures exoskeleton. Carried by four hunters it was the tool that cracked a Mantii
Another leather sling, and the animal was subdued further. Unable to scuttle off, the brute was forced to look into the globe.
No man can see what it did. Cray-fiend see light in spectra beyond understanding. Whatever was diffused by this holiest of glasses sent it into hypnosis. From there it was only a matter of netting the body and carrying it off.
Raul stood back as his warriors heaved the subdued shrimp into a cage. He doubted it would hold, which was why they had to keep the globe in its field of vision. And make haste before the Sun fell.
He would be remembered now—the Master of the Mantii. When this beast died, he would wear its body as armour, splendid and impregnable. The animal was his pet now, and he would have to look after it.