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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 112 Alpha Grade
06-23-2011, 04:32 PM
Alpha Grade

........There are jungle sounds, jungle smells, heat and humidity, all throughout the bio-dome. A wild animal screeches and runs through the brush unseen. Winged pteryxipods fly overhead, their scaly necks ending in teethy beaks and feathery heads.

........A frond to a large fern is gently pulled down, revealing the eyes of a jem'hadar. His skin is thick and rubbery and colored a muddy gray. Spiked bone portrudes around his crown and his chin. His eyes are sharp and his hearing acute. As he absorbs the stimuli of this environment, his movements are subtle and deliberate. He hears something ahead. He slowly lifts the frond back in place and then freezes.

........In the distance is an ever-so-slight brushing against the flora. To any ordinary humanoid, the sound would be drowned out by all other noise. But to the jem'hadar, it is a gong announcing the encroachment of an enemy. After a few minutes, the source of the sound emerges from the brush.

........A boy. A hirogen boy. The armor and helmet he wears is a dark blue-gray color. It would normally be easy to spot, but as the boy moves, the armor absorbs the light and reflects it in such a way as to blend the boy into the background.

........The boy is the same height as the jem'hadar, six feet, but more slim. The jem'hadar smirks. He keeps his eyes fixed on his prey and reaches down slowly and surely, pulling a knife from a sheath on his belt.

........A slight brushing sound off to the side catches his attention. His head jerks in the direction of the sound and then back to the spot where the hirogen boy stood. Nothing. The boy is gone.

........The jem'hadar strains his eyes, looking for the sliver of blue-gray. He looks in the light, in the shadows, under the greenery, low and high. Nothing.

........Panic sets in, compounded by the anxiety of withdrawal from the White serum. The jem'hadar fights to hold his breath and remain motionless. The sound of a brush against the frond in front of him raises his alarm. He screams and leaps forward.

........The hirogen drops and rolls, and the jem'hadar leaps over him. The jem'hadar lands and turns as the hirogen jumps to his feet. The hirogen raises the tetryon pulse rifle, and the jem'hadar stops, but holds the knife poised for striking.

........"Aim the rifle at his core, not his legs," a soft feminine voice sounds from the brush.

........The boy raises the aim of the rifle.

........A tall female hirogen, about seven feet, steps from the brush into the small opening. She has a flat, smooth chest with a muscular, bulky build, though more slender than her male counterpart. Her armor is thinner than the hunter's armor, and is copper red, signifying her status as both female and supervisor. Her helmet is the same as a hunter's, but is also copper red. Her skin is scaly and reddish orange. As she moves, the chameleon effect blends her into the background.

........"Don't hesitate," she says. "Your prey is armed and dangerous." She places a hand on the boy's shoulder, and then steps off to the side.

........The jem'hadar watches her closely, snarling to show the white of his teeth. The hirogen boy fumbles slightly with the rifle, keeping it aimed at the jem'hadar's chest. A withdrawal pain hits the neck of the jem'hadar, forcing him to wince and reach up to grasp the side.

........The trainee looks at the supervisor.

........"Eyes on the prey at all times," she says gently. "Don't give your prey any opportunity to escape or counterstrike."

........The boy returns his focus to the jem'hadar. The pain subsides, and the jem'hadar becomes agitated. He leaps towards the supervisor, swinging the knife downwards. She catches him, grabbing his knife hand with her hand, and then grasping his throat with her other hand. The jem'hadar flexes and pushes, forcing the supervisor's foot to dig into the earth. He manages to push her back several inches. Then she flexes and lifts him off the ground, tossing him on his back a couple of meters away. He groans in pain, but jumps to his feet. The jem'hadar then growls, turns to the boy and leaps. A tetryon blast slams the jem'hadar's chest. He falls face first to the earth.

........The supervisor walks over to the body. She lifts up his head and turns his face to her. She then raises his eyelids to look into his eyes. She lets go, and the jem'hadar's head plops back down.

........"Dead," she says. "One shot kill. That places you above your peers, Dunjir." The supervisor stands and smilingly motions for the boy to approach the jem'hadar's dead body. "You also waited to shoot him in the chest, face-to-face, instead of shooting him in the back. That earns you the alpha grade, to be just like your father, Sanjurid." She squats next to the body and motions him to do the same. He complies. "But you did learn one lesson, didn't you?"

........The hirogen boy looks at her with his brow scrunched.

........"You hesitated," she continues. "You showed him a moment of mercy. You gave him the opportunity to surrender. But he didn't, did he?"

........He shakes his head no.

........"Why do you think?" She asks.

........Dunjir shrugs.

........The supervisor sighs. She then looks the boy in his eyes sharply. He acknowledges the unspoken gesture of reproval with a nod.

........"He saw it as a weakness, a vulnerability worth exploiting," the supervisor continues. "He could have thrown his weapon down, knelt and surrendered. He didn't, though, did he? No. He asserted himself to dominate, because that is his nature. That is the nature of all prey worthy of the hunt." She pulls a knife from a sheath attached to her thigh. "We do not hunt prey that surrenders. There is no glory in that, no honor, no valor. We hunt for the kind of prey that would be the dominant species if we did not exist. We dominate, so that we're not prey." She hands Dunjir the knife. "Retrieve the skull. Your father will want to see proof of your success."