You take a step for the raft, and at the first hint of motion, a screeching cacophony of feral cries and rampaging beasts sounds behind you. You break for the boat, leaping the last few feet at full speed. You hit the boards of the raft on your side, and your momentum pushes the boat outward, down the river. The entire jungle is screaming for your blood. The beasts of the air assail and peck at you; the beasts of the water slam into the underside of your boat and nip; the beasts of the land stand futilely at the shore, alternately roaring and calling you names. One lion is simply repeating the word aaaassshoooole over and over again. Its really starting to hurt your feelings.

Just when you think you cant take anymore, the river banks sharply, ejecting you onto land. You prepare yourself to be mauled by unseen beasts, but instead you are greeted by a gentle hand resting on your shoulder. You look up into a kindly, furry face.

A band of monkeys.

They look on you with curiosity and sympathy. And suddenly you understand: They are caught halfway between the human and the natural world. They alone are truly neutral. You hug them fiercely, weeping in relief. What kind of future is this? Has mankind disappeared completely? Been murdered by the unforgiving claws of Mother Nature, finally fed up with the mistreatment?

As if in answer to your question, a sudden rushing sound echoes from overhead. A sinister airship, all gleaming metal and sharp angles, banks sharply downward toward you, two parallel beams firing outward from it. Screaming in terror, your monkey-friends flee, and you flee with them. You run, tearing through the jungle, the sweeping beams tracing just behind your heels, Eventually, you all take shelter in a cave.

You can hear the ship coming closer, eventually even landing outside, but you are helpless. You and the monkeys merely hold one other, taking what little solace you can in their company, and wait for the end.

What the fuck are you doing here? A monstrosity stands at the entrance to the cave: The backlit sillouhette of a man, interspersed randomly with mechanical lines. Its voice is tinny and abstract.

Get away from those beasts they'll tear you apart!

No! You protest, theyre my friends! They saved me!

Look, the man-thing says, sweeping his weapon back and forth over the assembled primates, have you been living under a rock or something? Were at war here, son! The entire natural world versus humanity. No exceptions. Either you're with them, or you're with us.

You see the man distinctly now: His left half is almost entirely metallic. Cruel weapons, blades, and various almost certainly deadly tubes are lashed to every inch of him. He is scarred, vicious and cruel. The monkeys hold you tighter.

If you turn and reluctantly leave with the man to be with your own kind, turn to page 8. If you stop to consider the plight of the monkeys as best you can, harnessing all of your empathy in exchange for the kindness they have shown you, turn to page 8.

Like this? Forqt lets you add your own chapter to the story!

Please log in or sign up to comment.