Of Moogles and Men Chapter 5

The Monster's Den

By Mike Thomas

Daggers in hand, Locke moved up to the last building and slipped through the remains of the doorway. He found himself in the middle of an aisle that was lined on either side by large cages with bars that stretched from the floor to the ceiling. There looked to have been twelve cages in all before the aisle stopped abruptly at a doorway. Each cage was partially ripped open and contained at least one dead body. Every single one, as far as Locke could tell, was some mutated form of a familiar animal. He thought silently to himself that the scientists here payed a high price for these many crimes they committed against nature.

Locke looked back at the moogles and motioned for silence. All three of them took to the air and silently floated behind Locke as he moved toward the door at the other end of the hall. With each step that he took, Locke could here the sound of slow heavy breathing getting louder. A creature was in this building, and he was hoping that there would be only one.

The four peered into the room, and found that it was indeed the beast. Locke could feel the sweat begin to trickle down the back of his neck. His heart was racing faster than it ever had. He could hear it loudly drumming in his ears. But, the beast sat still giving them no impression that their presence was even known.

Somewhere in the distance behind them, a piece of the building over the doorway came loose and crashed to the floor. One of the nervous moogles squeaked and shot toward the ceiling. The other two followed him as the beast sprang to its feet at frightening speed. Locke immediately sheathed his blades and turned to run. The beast had already begun moving as Locke took off.

The ground seemed to shake with each pounding step that the monster took. Locke sprang toward the bars of a cage and scampered up the side of it. One of the moogles descended on the beast like a hawk, spear tip forward. The beast screeched to a halt and bellowed as the spear punctured its back. Unfortunately, the moogle still held the spear in his hand as the beast whipped its body around. The moogle came loose of the spear and was thrown into the cage beside them. The impact that the little warrior made when he came into contact with the back of the cage knocked him out cold.

The monster continued to pivot on its feet trying to reach the spear in its back. Locke began to horizontally scale the top of the cages over to the cage that the moogle was now trapped and unconscious in. The monster finally reached the spear and snapped it off. It stood still and listened. Trying to find the prey that it had lost. Two moogles hovered in the air, Locke held on to the cage 10 feet directly above the monster, and one little moogle lay silently at the back of a cell. The monster seemed content to wait and listen.

Locke didn't know the condition of the moogle in the cage, but he knew it was possibly very serious. Something had to be done quickly. He slowly sucked in a deep breath of air and closed his eyes. He pictured in his mind what was to be done, and then looked down to the monster below. He released the bars that held him above the beast and pulled the daggers free of their sheaths as he fell through the air. The beast looked upward to try and find where the metallic ringing sound had come from, and as it did, Locke buried the daggers up to their hilt in the monster's eyes. Both man and beast crumpled to the floor, and Locke rolled forward, off of the creature and quickly climbed the cage wall on the opposite side of the hall.

The beast thrashed and twitched on floor for what seemed like an hour, but it finally came to rest. The moogles flew down to check on their companion and Locke slid down the bars to retrieve his weapons. With a mighty pull, he was able to dislodge both daggers, and he cleaned them off with a scrap of cloth he found nearby.

The moogles successfully revived their companion, and they made their way over to Locke. For a long moment, the moogles and the treasure hunter stared at each other. Without words, they conveyed their thankfulness to each other for the risks that were taken.

Before leaving, the hunting party made one last trip around the interior of the compound to check for survivors, for other beasts, and for any sign that something might have escaped. Having found nothing, the group explored the southern guard shack. Inside, Locke found multiple boxes of explosives that the monster had apparently missed during its ravaging. He pulled the explosives and detonators from their boxes and went about to all the buildings placing them. He was going to level this place to the ground so that if the Empire wanted to continue with this type of research, they would have to start from the very beginning.

Finished with setting the charges, the man and the moogles escaped into the hills before the deafening blast flattened every building and wall in the valley. Satisfied that their work was complete, the group headed for home where a huge celebration awaited them.


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