We knew where we wanted to set up camp, we had claimed it before we were dropped, we knew we wanted the Hidden Valley, Oasis some called it, while our numbers were small, we knew we could be safe in a place like Oasis, it was hidden, surrounded by cliffs with only three clefts leading into the main valley from the northern shore. Water was easy to find as was food in the form of fish in the lake and berries in the bushes that grew around the base of the cliff.

We did not know how much time we would have between the drop and the availability of the valley, the last thing we wanted was to go into a fight outnumbered and unarmed. The Shadow Knights are everywhere now, we never know when one of their tribes will attack or who, their attacks are random but often well organized, they hit fast hard and get out before the victims can mobilize. It has always been their method on every Ark that our civilization had been on. While we the Nomad were considered a neutral company there are always those Shadow Knights that are willing to bend the rules and attack those less fortunate than themselves to gain coveted resource, and the Divine Knights, our so called protectors will only go so far to get revenge for a fallen tribe.

It was almost time now, we are all waiting patiently in our cryo pods, the time was coming, Cradix, was across from me in his pod, Kabr, in the pod beside me, and Skull across from him, we could see the members of the other factions in their own pods eyeing each other wearily, this was one of the few times that we were all in the same place at the same time. Before a drop to a new Ark.

“Oasis,” Cradix mouth he closed his eyes and disappeared.

I closed my eyes, then felt my bare back hit the hot sand of the beach, I opened my eyes, and looked around, the sound of waves on the sand and wind in the palms filled my ears, the taste of salt on my tongue as the sea mist sprayed up at me from the water. I glanced down at my left arm, there was the diamond shaped beacon that bound me to this Ark, it was my life force it was all of our life forces, they draw their power, and in concurrence my own power from the three obelisks that floated around the Ark, I looked North I could barely make out the Blue Obelisk in the distance just past the Ice Fangs. I tried to get my bearings I knew I was in the north close to where the Hidden valley was, fortunate I suppose, I would not have to make it as far alone.

Movement to my left pulled my attention from the mountains to the north, a Dilo. Dilophosaurus the acid spitting punks of the Ark, these guys were everywhere and while they often did not pose much of a threat to me, currently, naked and unarmed I was defenseless, I moved before it saw me, I ducked around a nearby boulder and continued north without incident.

I continued along the coast, it was far to dangerous to step foot into the trees unarmed. Until I could meet up with the others and start harvesting and crafting our weapons and armor I would stick to the hot sand. I stopped dead, a few hundred yards ahead of me was a Trike, his head was down as he single minded clipped away at the fronds of a fern. While only a threat if provoked Trikes were easily startled and had horrible eye sight. I had two options take to the water and swim around him, or go into the trees, I looked at the dark forest at the edge of the sand, no I was not ready for that yet. I headed into the water, I would stick to the shallows. The water was as dangerous as the trees without being prepared. The cold salt water felt amazing on my sore feet, I would have blisters from the hot sand by the time I made it to the others. I waded through the surf until I was clear of the Trike, he never lifted his head, I am sure I would have been fine had I just kept my distance but I was not going to risk being respawned this early on. I made it back onto the sand and broke into a steady trot, my body could keep up the pace for as long as I needed I was used to this.

“Shit,” I whispered as I came to a river, I was on the wrong side of the river, I could see the hill leading to the Oasis, it was two hundred yards across the river. I looked up river away from the sea, too many animals waded in the shallows, it was to dangerous to go for a shallower or a shore closer. I had to make this swim, I would either make it or not, I looked at the other coast, in time to see a naked human form climb from the water, he was quickly joined by two other men from the bushes, they stopped and looked back across the river, they waved. My tribe, I was almost to them, I could see them, but could I make it.

I dove in, and swam as fast as I could, I never closed my eyes, I could see the harmless fish swimming below me no threat at the moment, I eyed the open water to the east, megladons and mantas waited out there for the unwary survivor to venture their way, to the west was the river, giant piranha swam those rivers, and attacked anything that was stupid enough to step foot in the water. I came up for air to see I was halfway there, my tribe mates waved me forward, two kept their eyes on the surrounding beach and trees, while one was trying to see through the waves.

One man flinched back from the trees as a large shape stepped from the shadows a few hundred yards up river, a Rex, is scales gleamed red in the mid-morning sunlight, its orange eyes searched the beach for its prey, I prayed silently that it would chose a parasur grazing near it and not my tribe mates. The men looked at me bobbing in the water anxiously, one ran for the trees, drawing the attention of the Rex. It followed his movement never noticing the other two still on the beach. Kabr almost followed the man into the trees, it was Skull, of course it was the coward, he was usually only out for himself, he stayed with our tribe because it gave him immunity from the justice of the Divine and from the wrath of the Shadow, he would be better joining a Shadow tribe in the long run but for now he had chosen to stay with us. Cradix called him back, and they watched as the Rex followed Skull into the trees, he would lead the Rex right into the valley if he did not get lost in the trees.

Cradix waved me forward, and I gave a burst of strength to my legs and propelled myself to the shore, I crawled from the water, and was greeted by an outreached hand to help me up, I took Kabr’s hand and stepped onto the shore of our new home.

“Fang you okay?” He asked in his singsong voice, a smile on his face, I nodded shaking the water from my white hair, I shivered in the hot sunlight as the salt water slid from my skin.

Cradix grabbed my left arm and pressed the beacon on his own arm to mine, as our tribe elder he bond us all together. He was shorter then myself or Kabr, by almost a head, broad shoulders and dark hair, he glanced up at the two of us, without saying anything we moved out, heading north along the beach. We all flinched in pain as our beacons all throbbed in unison. Skull had been killed, I rubbed my right hand over the beacon, it was part of our bonds, we knew if each other died, or if we lost a tame, the Ark kept us connected over great distances.

“The Rex wont be hungry for a short time,” Cradix stated in his husky voice. Kabr snickered, he and Skull did not get along.

“How long before he reloads?” I asked, trying to shake the pain from my arm.

“Not sure, but we do not have a spawn point set yet, he will have to catch up, we do not have time to wait for him,” Cradix said. We moved forward until we found the small indent in the beach leading to the cleft in the cliff, we sprinted through the trees, we were almost home.

The three of us slid through the trees as silent as shadows, we had done this enough times in the past that we fell together as a well-oiled machine, Cradix at the front me to his left and Kabr on the right. He stopped as the light began to return to the inlet, we all hit a knee and slowly crept forward. The sunlight spilt through the canopy overhead, it cast shadows over our naked backs as we crawled through the thick underbrush and peered out into the open valley, the sun reflected off the lake in bright dancing beams of blinding light. A shadow moved in front of the light blocking it for a moment, a Carno, great, I sighed and backed up a step, Cradix eyed me over his shoulder, Kabr on the other hand snuck a step forward. Carnos were efficient and fast hunters, and made quick meals of the smaller creatures on the Ark, they were not as large of a threat as a Rex but in our current situation we could not take it down.

Did you like what you read? Please leave a comment below and check out the rest of the novel here. Available for free through Kindle Unlimited. Please leave a review and let me know what you think.

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