The year is 2137, and the world has been ravaged by climate disaster. Ana and Tane, two friends living in New Boston, work to keep some of the last wildlife on the planet safe and thriving. When Tane begins receiving dream-like communications from another world, he’s not sure how to respond, but the line between his dreams and reality quickly starts to blur.
The messages are a call for help from a world under attack. Previously unknown predators, semi-invisible and massive, have surfaced and begun hunting the people there. Tane and Ana answer the distress call, but they soon learn they’ll need to develop some extraordinary skills and abilities if they hope to make a difference, or even just survive…
“Jaguar Panthera,” Molly announced. “Female. 193 pounds. 32 teeth. 240—”
“OK, I’ve got the idea,” Tane interrupted in the middle of the AI’s usual predator fact list she seemed to enjoy just a little too much.
“Are you sure you don’t want to know about its uncontested jaw strength?” Molly asked teasingly.
“No! Just be quiet!” Tane said louder than he intended. “Who programmed these suits anyway?”
“I’m not sure, but Molly is the mouthiest of them. The newbies always get her,” Ana said smiling.
At this point Tane and Ana had both grabbed their tranq-units and expanded them into rifle form. They were stopped on the path, pointing their rifles into the forest toward the invisible hunter.
“What should we do?” Tane asked. “I’ve never been this close to a jaguar.”
“Normally, we could just skulk off, but the rain against our suits could give us away. Let’s try to keep moving anyhow. Her territory should be that way.” Ana pointed north of the jaguar. “Maybe she’s been hunting closer to this zone.”
They slowly worked their way further up the trail, keeping an eye on the jaguar’s proximity.
“It’s not following us,” Ana said. “I think we’re—”
A feline form crashed into Ana from above, sending her reeling. She tried to catch herself but couldn’t, and she fell face first, hitting the ground hard. Tane had been looking in the opposite direction when it happened. He put the animal in his sights as fast as he could, but it darted into the trees just as he took a shot.
“Track predator!” yelled Tane as he rushed forward to help Ana.
“Nothing in close proximity on the network,” Molly said.
“Are you alright?!” Tane asked Ana.
“I’m fine,” she responded. “Just a twisted ankle. Did you hit her?”
“I don’t think so,” Tane scrutinized the tree line where the cat disappeared. “Why is this jaguar not showing up reliably on the tracking system?”
“The only explanation would be that her chip got torn out, maybe in a struggle with some less-than-cooperative prey,” Ana was already back on her feet but favored her right leg. She swallowed her pain and trained her rifle on the tree line.
They stood there for a minute, listening and waiting. “We should go in after it. If you’re right, she’ll need to be rechipped and get some stitches. Can you walk?” Tane asked whispering again.
Ana tried taking a step and winced. “Yeah, but I’d do better if I could lean on you.”
“I’ll go by myself then,” Tane said. “Call if you need help.”
“Alright, be careful,” said Ana.
Tane began walking slowly toward the undergrowth. “Molly, can you help me?” he whispered as he got into the thick bush.
“I can try,” she replied. “The jaguar is probably still on the ground. I would guess that it’s somewhere over there where the foliage thins.”
Tane changed direction slightly to follow Molly’s on-screen indication. The undergrowth was thick, and it was tough to move stealthily. About a minute into his hunt, he heard something. He froze to listen. He could only hear the rain. Maybe it was nothing.
Molly’s voice broke the silence. “The jaguar is stalking Ana,” she announced urgently…