The shouting didn’t do anything. A few of the giant elephant/rhinoceros things looked over at us without much interest. The ones nearest the dog made grunting noises and began to sniff the wind, a good idea except that we were upwind. Then a few began to move forward, away from the barking, swinging their heads around to look for the noise.
When they saw the dog, one of them made a deep noise somewhere between a growl and a roar. Some of the smaller ones bolted away, but the large one turned toward us.
We weren’t intimidating enough, and why would we be? Judging from the Rocket suit’s readouts, the nearby creatures ranged from two to thirty tons.
I narrowcast a barrage of noises at the large one, hoping that one of them would hurt it, but even better, hurt it in a way that made it run away instead of at us.
It didn’t run, but it did back up a step.
Not intimidated at all, Tiger kept on barking and even growled at it. The creature growled back and I considered giving up the sonics, but didn’t. I’d used the setting where an algorithm cycled through sounds, and we weren’t done.
As it hit a collection of high pitched notes, all of them at noise levels that hurt the human ear, the creature wheeled away and ran after the smaller ones, stopping some hundred feet away and turning to face us. The smaller ones had stopped just past it, turning sideways to watch us out of one eye.
Tiger kept on barking but he didn’t run ahead, staying near Jaclyn, and then it stopped running when she did.
By that time, we’d all stopped shouting.
Cassie gave a short laugh, put the gun back into its holster, and crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, that’s going to be harder than you’d think. You want me to start shooting at them? We’ve got to get these suckers moving.”
Jaclyn exhaled. “I think you’ll have to. Can you burn them without hurting them much? Because we don’t want to kill them. Maru, you said you could affect them. Can you make them uneasy? Because if you start with that, and then we start with the dog and whatever noise Nick made with the sonics, and if we were far enough away from each other that we got a bunch of them moving… Well, we might get all of them going.”
She looked over at Maru. “Are you going to be able to keep up or will I have to carry you?”
In a quiet but still penetrating voice, he said, “I’ll be able to keep up.”
She nodded. “Once we get them going, we’ll need to keep them on track. Tiger and I will stay on the right side. Nick go to the left. Everyone else can go where you’re needed, but you’ll probably end up at the back at first.
“Alright, we know that Maru’s going to start. Cassie’s going to shoot—“
Cassie shook her head, raising her voice to say, “I’m giving them a light show first. If that doesn’t work then, yeah, I’ll shoot.”
Near Cassie, Katuk said, “I will create light and fire off my weapons as well.”
Jaclyn nodded. Turning to look at Marcus, Jaclyn asked, “What are you doing?”
Marcus grew to 12 feet high with skinny legs and arms and a featureless face. Tentacles grew out of his back while his League uniform turned into a black suit.
Jaclyn’s eyes widened. “Slenderman? Seriously? They’re alien herd animals. They don’t know their memes.”
Marcus shrugged, using his shoulders and all of the tentacles. “I need the legs to keep up with you guys and I really think they’ll find the tentacles scary.”
Jaclyn started to reply, stopped, took a breath and said, “Fine. Just keep up, but don’t rule out imitating Tiger. I think that would work better.”
Maru cocked his head and looked up at Marcus. “I don’t know if you’ll scare the beasts, but I think you’ll scare the men. We have legends about things that look like that.”
Marcus peered down at him, mouthless face opening to say, “No kidding. That’s crazy.”
Jaclyn held up her hands. “Whoa. Let’s not go down this road. Maru do your thing. Everyone else, wait for my say so, but then do what you do.”
The first time Maru had been shouting with the rest of us except that his shouts had the queer tone that activated our defenses. This time he imitated the creatures’ grunts and the noises the large one had made as the smaller ones ran off, but still with that same queer tone.
His voice rose in volume, activating my suit which started to buzz. At the same time, the herd beasts turned to look at us, making grunts and multi-note whistles that sounded nervous to my ears. As he grew louder, so did they, and it wasn’t just the nearest beasts that seemed nervous. Every one of them in sight began to look around or sniff the air.
When Tiger began to bark, a few of them ran away, darting across the field. A few of them followed. Then Jaclyn waived to Cassie and I. Cassie raised the gun and pulled the trigger. Instead of a burning beam that killed what it touched, bursts of bright light came from the gun in no particular rhythm.
More beasts began to run. Not all of them kept on running once they started enough ran that I could hear footsteps thunder across the field.
I fired off the sonics and this time I wasn’t narrowcasting. Everyone could hear and not just my target. I set the sonic device on my left arm to blast the frequencies that worked earlier on and off. I set the device on my right arm to randomly blast other frequencies at extreme decibel levels and sometimes dog barks.
During my first barrage of the new sounds, the creatures began to run. I took off, flying toward the left side of the herd, but aiming my sonics toward the middle. Behind me, the rest of our group began to follow the herd.
For all that it was true that the creatures could not possibly recognize Marcus’ shape, I couldn’t deny that the combination of spindly limbs and waving tentacles was creepy.