Lilly sits on the cave floor, pistol and frozen legs stretched out before her, as an ursadon rounds the corner. He looks significantly smaller than the one she saw on the protoss flatbed earlier, and he lacks tusks. He is taller than Lilly is, with massive trunk-like arms on which he leans as he ambles into her cave. With each snort, a cloud of condensation billows from his nostrils. Lilly does not know if this is a juvenile or a different sub-species. Hopefully he’s not a baby with the mom coming back soon, Lilly thinks. She is torn about whether to shoot him, as she does not really want to hurt an animal that may just be curious. Trying to scare him may backfire, though, because if the cave system is not deep enough, he might feel trapped and lash out at her. Lilly decides to try the friendly approach and pulls out an MRE to toss at him. Snowball and Sunshine seem to like them well enough. The ursadon takes no notice of the snack—not the best news—but at least Sunshine does not charge forward after the treat.
Ignoring the MRE, the ursadon lifts one of his long arms and swats at Lilly, roaring loudly. Hampered as she is by the ice, she cannot evade the strike. The paw slams into her, leaving gashes and bruises behind. Too bad he didn’t aim for my legs, Lilly thinks, as that likely would have broken them free. She is really missing the frying pan laser right now… even when it does not hit its target, the weapon heats up enough that it probably could have melted the block around her legs. She knows she cannot take too many of those punches, so she abandons her attempts to be nice. With all that fur in the way, she is not sure how thick his hide is, but the creature is now right in her face so she drops her pistol and pulls out her knife. She slashes at him, hoping the resulting gash will be enough to deter him.
Rather than flee, though, the ursadon continues to defend his home, thumping one of his giant fists down on Lilly in response. Lilly adapts tactics to the new situation, falling back on the old standby of wrestling the wild creature. Sunshine yaps and nips at the ursadon’s feet while Lilly grapples with him.
She manages to hook one arm around his neck as she pulls her way into a position on the ursadon’s back. He can no longer reach her with his powerful arms, which is good for Lilly, but bad for Sunshine. The ursadon takes a swing at the threat right before him, sending the lyote crashing to the ground. This time, his claws rake his target, and blood splashes across the cold stone surfaces.
“Not my dog!” Lilly shouts. She tightens her hold on the ursadon’s throat, and as she does so, the wrist mount of her comm device crosses her line of sight. She is still close enough to reach the protoss campus in walkie-talkie mode. The flash freeze outside the cave looks like it is dying down now, so someone should be able to get here from the base. “Imogen!” she calls into the comm. “I’m pinned down in a cave one klick west of campus.”
Sunshine has gotten back up and is growling at the ursadon again. The leash gives her some play, but it is still frozen to Lilly’s left side. Lilly leans the other way and calls Sunshine to her, which tangles up the ursadon’s limbs enough to trip him. He struggles back up, getting his face away from the lyote’s teeth, and tries to reach around to yank Lilly off her perch.
Imogen’s voice crackles over the comm. “You’re pinned down? Pinned down by what? Is a storm holding you in place? Just stay there until it passes.”’
“I’m fighting one of those big white bear things.”
Imogen has permission to be in the socializing area and the resting quarters on the protoss base. When the call comes in from Lilly, there are some protoss researchers also in that first room. They have been keeping away from her but sometimes glancing over her way. “Uh, excuse me,” she says to the cluster. “Are there any frequencies that ursadons particularly don’t like?” The protoss look at her, eyes widening at this question coming out of the blue. “Cover your ears,” Imogen says into her comm. Then she begins fiddling with knobs on it, running through a full sequence of unpleasant feedback noises. Her protoss companions are not a fan of that, nor, to be honest, are Imogen’s own ears. “Or can you find me an audio sample of a larger ursadon?” she suggests to the researchers. “Some ursadon noises?”
Lilly is in no position to cover her ears, not with her arms wrapped around the ursadon’s neck, slowly cutting off his air supply. She jerks herself from side to side, evading the claws reaching over his shoulder. A brief wail sounds from her wrist unit, but then the acoustic safeguards kick in, blocking whatever Imogen was attempting. After a brief silence, a roar sounds from Lilly’s wrist, deeper and throatier than the current creature’s. The ursadon rears up, unsettled by the sound of a rival and harried by the lyote at his ankles. He throws himself backward at one of the cavern walls, trying to dislodge Lilly. It bruises her back a bit, but she keeps her hold. The brunt of the slam was actually taken by her legs, shattering the ice of them. This frees both her limbs and Sunshine’s leash. Lilly wraps her legs around the ursadon’s torso for a more secure hold and doubles down on his windpipe.
Back at the base, Imogen asks the protoss researcher who queued up the audio file for more help. “You’ve studied these things. What are their weaknesses?” she demands.
“What are their weaknesses? They need to eat an incredibly large amount of food. They sleep seventeen hours a day…”
“She’s being attacked right now,” Imogen shouts in response to the useless information.
“Well, that was her fault,” he mutters. “Just don’t leave campus.” But he finds some more helpful facts to appease the waspish terran. “They can only be active for short periods of time. Wearing them down is the general approach. They’re not that fast. If you can get some distance, you might be able to outrun them. They’ll lose interest or tire themselves out.”
Imogen’s voice sounds over Lilly’s comm again, encouraging her to hang on for just a little bit longer. The ursadon thumps Lilly back into the wall again, and she toughs it out, concentrating on her hold. They rebound from the wall together and the beast stumbles forward, dropping to his knees and then slumping onto the ground, still. “Nevermind, he’s out,” Lilly says into her comm.