Save dashed down the trail; they were being stalked by something, and it did not seem friendly! Save first noticed it moments before, there was a distinctive static that came from far behind them. It was faint, but, it did seem ominous at the time. Shift caught up to her, catching a breath as he looked around. “Wait up,” he said, taking in a deep breath of air. Sure, the need for oxygen did not exist in virtual reality, but bodily habits still existed.

Save looked back to him, stopping suddenly. She listened for a moment, the sound had stopped.
“What was that”, she asked. Shift shook his head, raising a hand for time. “You need to run more” she suggested. He shot her a glance and shook his head. “It is not my fault you are slow – but, did you hear that” she asked.

“Yes. It was close by, but, I have no idea what it was. It didn’t sound like a spider – they make too much noise when moving. Besides, some of the smaller branches would have snapped, if that was the case.” He looked around at the ruined cobble road and the pillars. There was no sign of anything or anyone tampering with the area. “If I had to guess – it is some player joking with us.”

“I see” she said, glancing around at the ancient pillars. Something began to bother her as she glanced around; there were no monsters in sight. The quest areas always had them in abundance; especially in the harder ones. The metal forest was designed to be one of the best; and it retained that strong A.I. presence in the area. “Have you seen any animals as we ran” she asked. He turned to her puzzled; no, he hadn’t.

“I am sure that there is a reasonable explanation about all of this. CataClysm could have –“ he said, stopping as he heard a low metallic whine coming from off the trail. Save glanced over to look. There was a pile of spider bodies in the clearing; they were mauled by claws and scorched by intense flames. Some of them looked like they were partly devoured. Something moved in the distance under a pile of exo-skeletons, something was alive. Shift drew his gun and approached the writhing pile of carcasses. It fell, revealing a single infant spider, who was backing away to hide.

Save watched the creature; “Stop – you are scaring it”, she said.

He glanced back to her, “It has more problems than that. It is missing some eyes, some legs, it’s carapace is crushed. It is going to die – we might as well end it’s existence. It is not alive – “ he finished. Save looked it over, a pleading expression on her face. He lowered his weapon, he had an idea. “The New tool! I can test it out – and, uh – save your friend.”

Save blinked, “What tool?”

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