Review - The Annotated AvP: The Story, part 13

Holy God, I can’t believe we’re on the third-to-last chapter of this thing. To think that some half-cocked idea I came up with to satisfy an approaching deadline last winter has become the longest-running feature on this site. That’s actually… kind of sad. Ah well, beggars can’t be choosers. For your “enjoyment,” Predator warrior and all out vain bitch Swift-Death reaches the conclusion of his gaiden in this month’s edition of the Annoted Aliens versus Predator: The Story.

Swift-Death cautiously made his way down the tunnels. He hadn’t heard the battle that had been raging on for the last few hours, for he was far away and deep underground.
His Shoulder-Cannon was at ready, searching for Rykov or untamed Aliens. So far, there had been none, but as his father had said, “The Hunter does not let his guard down, for if he does, dearly will he pay for it.”
Besides such generic sage advice, his father would have done well to have added, “Also, a scar’s just a scar. Get over it.”

Swift-Death remembered those words. Those words had brought him so far already. To here, where he would get his just revenge.
But now, Swift-Death was only thinking about his target of vengeance, and about honour. What if he had to take his own life in this battle? He would get his revenge, but he wouldn’t live to enjoy it. Swift-Death thought long and hard about this.
Just to put things in perspective here, Swift-Death has spent roughly half of this “novel” pursuing the man who gave him an almost completely superficial scar some years ago—said man having only given him that scar out of self-defence—for the purpose of restoring honour. Swift-Death, you are just the worst.

Just then, a voice broke the silence. “Hello, Predator,” it said.
Perhaps not as heartwarming as Hello, Dolly! but you take what you can get.

Swift-Death looked around. The long tunnel he was in was empty, excepting him. Nothing showed up on his Thermal vision, and the motion tracker Harrison had given him didn’t so any blips.
“Over here,” the voice whispered. Swift-Death growled and snarled. “Where are you,” he demanded.
“Here’s a hint: You can hear me but not see me, but I am very near,” the voice replied.
Swift-Death thought for a moment, and roared. He had been tricked by a simple radio. Grumbling at how foolish he had been, he spoke into his radio. “Do not attempt to trick me, human.”
Swift-Death, you are so, so dumb.

“Oh, so your inferior kind actually can be confused. Your level of intelligence is as low as the Aliens.”
“Do not underestimate either of our species,” the Predator warned. “How can you speak to me?”
“Because I have something very dear to you,” the voice laughed. Swift-Death roared once more. The human had his mask.
“Silence,” Swift-Death ordered, “or your death will be even more painful.”
“I would be worrying more about yourself,” the voice said. For the next few kilometers of tunnels, Swift-Death was tormented by the voice. The voice asked, “What drives your species?” or “Does your kind have any fears?” This continued on for was seemed like hours.
Given that he was walking for kilometres, it probably was for hours.

Finally, Swift-Death could endure no more. “Who are you? What do you want?” he asked.
“I have the same motives as you, my friend. I gave you the scar, you almost gave me paralysis. We are enemies, as you probably already know,” the voice answered. It almost had a hint of amusement.
“You know, ignoring the fact that, all things considered, we’ve made do pretty damn well since our last encounter. But really, who cares about personal accomplishment when there’s reveeeeeenge to consider?”

“You! The one I hunt! Where are you?!”
So dumb.

“You’ll find me. In fact, your already on my trail.” Wondering what this meant, Swift-Death looked around. Then he saw it: ten metres ahead of him were two flaming Aliens. Both lay on the ground, dead.
God, that image is hilarious—not just the two incinerated Aliens just appearing, but the fact that, according to my past self’s half-assed description, they had been in Swift-Death’s original line of sight all this time. So now I have to imagine the Predator flailing about helplessly in search of the scorched corpses (scorpses?) as they lie burning a few feet in front of him.

 “If you can see those burning lizards in front of you, I am near,” the voice chuckled. Swift-Death roared and started to run. If he kept up speed, he could reach his prey very, very soon. Hard-pressed to finish his hunt, the Predator leapt off walls with his amazing jumping power, and leapt over small cliffs to save time. As he went deeper and deeper into the tunnels, he could see more and more dead Aliens, some on fire, some deceased by the hands of bullets. His enemy had an array of weapons. Clacking his mandibles together, Swift-Death was happy that his fight would be honourable.
“You think your species is indestructible. You’re pathetic. You’re taken out by electromagnets. I haven’t seen a species so stuck up ever before,” Rykov said.
Wow. Despite being a clear cut villain, Rykov has a fairly accurate point.

“How could you know what my species is like? You haven’t gone to our planet, our witnessed our hunts. You aren’t one of my kind!” Swift-Death roared.
“Well then, maybe your kind should find a better representative,” Rykov retorted, quickly adding “ohsickburn.”

“I have seen your hunts. Nineteen Earth years ago. You wiped out an entire outpost without remorse or regret,” Rykov reminded the Predator.
“It is part of our custom,” Swift-Death scolded while running down the dark tunnels. “If you were one of us you would too.”
“I am different. I have morals. I am superior,” Rykov laughed aloud.
Devoid of context, Rykov is totally the good guy here. This is genuinely hilarious.

Finally, Swift-Death snapped. He roared at the top of his lungs and sprinted at full speed through the winding passages. He would win this fight. He wouldn’t be captured, he wouldn’t be killed. He would kill all who defied him.
And forward Swift-Death marched, totally ready and willing to murder anything in his path. One of our heroes, ladies and gentlemen.

Just then, the cavern-like corridor ended without warning, and Swift-Death fell down a pitch-black drop-off. He well for fifteen metres, where he landed on a moist, slimy floor. The Predator ran his hand through the disgusting ooze. It was Hive webbing, and lots of it.
He slowly got to his feet and examined the area he was in. It was a massive chamber, smaller than what he heard of the Empress’, but still an eye-catcher. Webbing had been molded into great columns that stretched from floor to ceiling. In the center was a dead Queen Alien, it’s torso riddled with bullet-holes.
Swift-Death cautiously made his way to the deceased ruler. He could see dead Worker Aliens beyond the corpse, burning. The Aliens hadn’t stood a chance. But what in the world except the Yautja could take down a Queen and her nest.
“We meet again, but now both of us are conscious,” a voice said.
God, that is the creepiest fucking sentence. I really am sorry.

It was the same tone as the voice that had tormented Swift-Death: heavily accented human basic with a hint of amusement.
Swift-Death whipped around, extending his Wristblades. He held back a gasp.
He saw a middle-aged human male with greying hair, inside the cockpit of a large, human shaped robotic exoskeleton. The robot’s ‘hands’ had various weapons, including lasers, flamethrowers and miniguns, attached to them.
“Allow me to introduce myself,” the man said. “I am General Vasili Rykov, head officer of the Weyland-Yutani military.”
But is he a man of wealth and taste?

“In your language, my name is Swift-Death,” the Predator replied. “We both want vengeance, I presume.”
“Correct. Our battle shall be a fight to the death. Who ever’s left alive in the end, wins,” Rykov declared.
“Fine,” Swift-Death replied. He walked up to the Exo-Suit, reached up and shoved its ‘chest.’
Oh this is too funny.

“In my culture, that is a gesture of challenge,” he growled. For a second, both looked at each other; when that short period of time had ended, both gave out a war cry from both of their species, and began to fight.
Swift-Death drew his spear, and launched it Rykov’s head. He used the Exo-Suit’s arm to bat the weapon out of the way, breaking the spear in half.
“Bad idea,” Swift-Death groaned. A moment later, the other Exo-Suit arm swung down hard at Swift-Death, sending the Predator flying.
He got up and charged once more, Wristblades extended to their fullest. He was hit once again, but before he landed, he threw his Disc, sharpened to its fullest. It rebounded off a bar that protected Rykov’s face, but its tracking system flew around a Hive column and was on another beeline for the Exo-Suit.
“For Heaven’s sake!” Rykov cried.
The thought of a grizzled, middle-aged Russian soldier growling that amuses me so, so much.

He fired the suit’s lasers, attempting to hit the speeding Disc. Using the suit’s immensely powerful arms, Rykov batted the Disc out of the way every time it came at him. This just gave Swift-Death more of a chance to hit Rykov. He stood in one spot, attempting to hit the general with at spike from his Spear-Gun. Unfortunately, Rykov kept moving as he attempted to bat the Disc away, making it hard for Swift-Death’s aim to be true.
Suddenly, Rykov batted the Disc right at Swift-Death. “Holy crap!” he shouted. He held out his hands to catch the Disc by the top and bottom. He did, and the force of it knocked him to the ground. The Disc was a mere five centimeters from the Predators neck.
Rykov charged toward him, flamethrowers blazing. Swift-Death got to his senses and performed a tricky front flip.
I would make some Tony Hawk Pro Skater joke, but I haven’t play the games enough to do it justice. For now, “Fresh flip, bro!”

Thank God for Google Image search.

He soared over the Exo-Suit’s head, and grabbed hold of its back. The suit waved its arms around, like a human trying to shake an insect off of it. Throughout the confusion, Swift-Death used the Disc to slash open a panel on the Exo-Suit’s back. He then jammed the Disc into the circuitry within it.
“What the - “ Rykov started as he stared at a readout screen in front of him. Over-heating Alert, it flashed over and over again. “Shit!” he screamed. Rykov punched a button next to his shoulder. Cockpit Ejection Initiated, the screen now read. The general held on as the suit’s cockpit was launched out of it. It landed 20 metres away, and he quickly escaped from his restraints.
If the thought of being ejected 20 metres away from a non-moving vehicle less than two metres above ground level doesn’t make you giggle, I don’t know what will.

Swift-Death, grasping on to the Exo-Suit like a cowboy on a bucking bronco froze as he saw certain parts of the machine begin to glow a bright red.
You know, just certain parts.

He leaped from his perch on the Exo-Suit in terror. Just after he jumped, the Exo-Suit exploded, the shockwave knocking Swift-Death even farther away.
…and shattering every Goddamn bone in his body. Not to mention rendering his brain into mush.

/physics bitch

He jumped to his feet, and ran at Rykov with his Wristblades at ready, but the general unsheathed an almost ancient Russian sword, forged far back around the time of the Russian Revolution.
Wait, did commoners actually use swords in the Russian Revolution? You think I’d know, having included this factoid, but really I just loved me some swordplay.

He slashed at Swift-Death, who, for a while, blocked the blows with his Wristblades. He next swing, the Predator ducked and rolled, coming up right next to the longer half of his spear. Swift-Death grabbed the broken Combistick, and began to sword-fight with Rykov.
Thirteen-year-old me: (through braces) “You know what’sh better than shpears? More shwordsh!

Every slice was parried, every lunge was dodged, and for what seemed to be an hour, Swift-Death and Rykov fought once more.
Never before has the climactic melee between two sworn enemies been so tedious the author felt compelled to sum up most of it.

It was brutal. Cuts, bruises and small scars appeared on each other’s skin. A couple of times, the hilt of Rykov’s sword was slammed up against Swift-Death’s chin.
Ohhhh, now it’s on.

“What makes you think that I can be killed? I have rose up through my corporation’s ranks in less than a decade. You, well I know your society. You are a hunter, almost the lowest of the low. One mistake and you will become the lowest,” Rykov chuckled.
If this last quote made any modicum of sense to you, congratulations! You qualify for Mensa! Or a psych ward!

Swift-Death stood still, letting his spear swing down to his side.
“Yes, you are afraid,” Rykov continued. “Afraid that you will kill dishonourably; that you will be an outcast.”
Swift-Death thought for a moment. The general was right. His worst fear was dishonouring his culture, and becoming the lowest of the low.
…what the fuck is going on?

“What do you want from me?” the Predator asked the human.
“Only two things, my hunting friend,” Rykov started. “My life, and your skull as a trophy!” Rykov swung his sword horizontally, knocking Swift-Death’s mask of his face. Immediately, the filter from his Thermal Vision was broken, and his vision became red from the Hive’s sweltering heat. Confused, the Predator roared and tried to find his bearings. His hands repeatedly brushed the ground, attempting to find his mask.

At last, Swift-Death’s hands found the borrowed mask, but Rykov’s foot came down on it. Swift-Death feebly attempted to pull the mask out from under the general’s boot, but it was to no avail.
“Such a pitiful species. You rely so much on your tools. That will be your downfall,” Rykov grinned, bringing his sword up above his head, preparing to strike.
“No,” Swift-Death said. “Your ignorance shall be yours!” Swift-Death activated his Shoulder-Cannon, firing a low-powered blast. The plasma struck Rykov’s sword, slicing the blade in half. Useless, the top half of the sword clattered to the ground.
“No!” Rykov exclaimed. He backed away from Swift-Death, trying to keep as far away from the Predator as possible. Swift-Death placed the mask back upon his face and strode toward the general. He fired Shoulder-Cannon blasts in random directions, to scare Rykov.
Instead of just shooting him and putting an end to this bullshit.

“You can’t do this!” Rykov cried. “You have disarmed me! I am without weapon!”
“For twenty long years, you have hounded my nightmares,” Swift-Death growled. “The pain from the scar you gave me still agonizes me today.”
“I had no choice. I was the only one in my team left! If I didn’t get to the drop zone, the other Marines would be left prey to you!”
Rykov is basically the grizzled soldier with a heart of gold. He put himself in the line of fire to save his squadmates. Swift-Death is a cock.

“In my culture,” Swift-Death started, “a scar that never heals is a sign of eternal pain. Only your death will keep me from dishonour.”
“But, isn’t killing unarmed prey dishonouring yourself, too?” Rykov pleaded.
Swift-Death approached Rykov so that they were face to face. He lengthened his Wristblades so that they were face to face. “That’s the one thing about my culture,” he laughed. “Revenge and honour are different things.”
I really, truly am sorry, everybody. If it will assuage your discomfort, I’m considering creating a Kickstarter so I can collect the funds to build a time machine and kick my younger self in the shins over and over again.

Rykov’s eyes widened in fear. He attempted to grab out and stop Swift-Death’s hand from coming any nearer, but his hesitation cost him. Swift-Death elbowed Rykov hard, turning the general around. He then plunged his Wristblades into the center of Rykov’s back, so that the blades went all the way through and out his chest. Swift-Death twisted his wrist 90 degrees, and Rykov gurgled in his final death throe. He fell forward, his spine catching the Wristblades and allowing it to be torn out.
Swift-Death examined his prize. The spine was synthetic, no doubt there. White blood squirted out of the punctured device, staining Rykov’s jacket below. Swift-Death had done it. He had gotten his vengeance. Still, something was missing.
A lot of things are missing, coherence and cohesiveness chief among them. But you keep right on searching, Swift-Death.

He searched the Exo-Suit’s wreckage, hoping to find something precious to himself. Finally, amidst the metallic rubble, he found it: a large, heat resistant duffle bag. He tore it open and searched through its contents. In the lowest portion of the bag was Swift-Death’s own mask.
Heat resistant, only because young Daniel had forgotten until that moment that Rykov’s remaining possessions would have gone up with the Exo-Suit explosion. Revision on the fly, kids!

He removed the rusted, age-old mask that had been upon his face for the last 11 hours, and placed upon his face, the glimmering helm that was truly his. He put the mask upon his face and switched to the Thermal vision mode, and tied Rykov’s synthetic spine around his waist, as a belt. Swift-Death returned to Rykov’s carcass, and removed the skull from the dead man’s head, and tied it to his breastplate.
Finally, his goal in life complete, Swift-Death raised his fist into the air and roared, louder than any Yautja had ever done. His cry reverberated off the Hive walls, telling all that he was the master. That day, Swift-Death became the greatest of his species.
Yes, Swift-Death, the Predator who sought vengeance on the man who wounded him in self-defence, trying to protect his fellow Marines, is truly the greatest of his species. And he grew wings and everybody loved him and no his real name wasn’t Mary Sue why do you ask?

It’s funny, but in my attempt to make the Predator character from the game more conventionally heroic and give him some sort of pathos, I inadvertently made him the most morally deplorable character in the whole story. That’s pretty impressive for an accident born out of sheer artistic incompetence, if I may say so myself.

…oh who am I kidding. This is awful. Thank God we’re nearly done. Join us next month when we see our other two—and objectively less evil—protagonists to the climax of their journey.

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