Location: African Savanna
Among the grasslands of the African Savanna, the machines tore through the wilds. Uprooted trees crashed over small watering holes, driving the wildlife away from the destruction. Construction workers burned away the golden grasses. They drove foundation beams deep into the ground, slowly taking over the landscape.
Watching the desecration of his homeland from a distance, Chief Apay of the Akanfanda Tribe motioned for his warriors to spread out. The dark skinned tribesmen blended well into the tall grass, using their hide shields to blend in with the vegetation.
Most of the near naked soldiers showed signs of hunger and thirst as the game they used to hunt deserted their normal grazing areas. Their ribs showed prominently through the skin of their stomachs, and they did not seem to carry the muscle they once did.
Apay, by contrast, still maintained much of his power, having received larger and meatier cuts of the meat obtained from felled animals. The spear and shield carried by the chief were donned with bright white feathers. They matched a headdress he had left at the village. He led his warriors towards one of the large bulldozers that tore down the trees and destroyed water holes.
Leaping from the tall grass, the Akanfanda Warriors lobbed a barrage of spears at the bulldozer. The gold monstrosity sputtered and died as a lucky spear tore through a fuel line. Surrounding the bulldozer and shouting in broken English, Apay's warriors demanded that the outsider leave and never return. They struck spears against the metal frame when the ducked beneath the control console.
The yelling abated the leader of the invaders, a fat, white man in khaki pants and a dirty shirt that could barely contain his bulbous gut pulled up to the group of tribesmen in his personal vehicle. "This is the last time I'm gonna tell you savages," he shouted. "We own your land now. If you don't get the hell outta here, I'm gonna have the guards shoot every last one of you."
Apay stepped forward to challenge the threat the business man had put upon his people. The white man got out of the car. His face reddened when he noticed the damage done to his construction equipment. "Get the hell off my property or I'll have my men kill your entire pathetic people," he said in a quiet rage. Standing in the shade produced by the massive figure of the African Chief, the man swallowed nervously as he realized how large the tribal chief really was.
"Bah," said Apay. "White man hide behind his followers. Beat Apay fairly and Apay leave."
Taking the goad, fat man slammed his fist into the ribs of Apay, but the African chief didn't flinch. The retaliation had him slamming into the side of his car. Tasting blood and seeing stars, he pushed himself off the ground. Gunshots shouted through the air as the other Jeep, filled with security personnel approached the group. Snarling, Apay signaled his warriors to leave. They took off sprinting. The cheif spared a warning, "We leave, but we return." Then, he followed his warriors across the golden grasses.
The people of the Akanfanda tribe kneeled in the dust at the center of there village while Agrana, the storyteller, told the old tale of how Asa, the Father God, once feed the entire village for a week when a serious illness befell all the hunters of the tribe. In the story, Asa called all manner of delectable creatures and had them stand still as the women carved them for meals.
Apay listened to the tale intently, but sighed as it was drawing to a close. He could see small glimpses of hope pass over the faces of the children, but the adults were hardly moved. There had been a time where his people eagerly awaited for these stories to inspire them and drive them to run faster and hunt stronger. However, the continued war with the outsiders had taken too great a toll. The stories didn't affect them as they they once did.
The ending of the tale was cut off as the roar of some unknown monster charged from the night. Glowing eyes raced towards the village and for a second, Apay mistook them for demons. The shouting of the deadly white man weapons pierced the air and several of his warriors. "Get the women and children out of the village!" he shouted to the tribe in his native tongue. Calling up a second team, he set an ambush behind the first houses the Jeeps would have to pass.
The barrage of throwing spears bound harmlessly off the metal exteriors. Flashes of white light accompanied more piercing gun shots. Several of his men cried out, but their voices were fainted compared the rapid death. Pursued by the attackers, the remaining warriors retreated into the shelter of the thatched huts. More bullets pierced the thin walls, and the fierce warriors were quickly felled. Chief Apay himself was wounded in the chest and his legs gave out as blood rushed quickly out of his body. In his last words, he cried out for the help of Asa, begged the god to help his people one last time. If he did not, his people could not resist the invasion of their enemies any longer.
As the chief's senses dimmed and he lay shivering on the dirt floor, a loud crash of thunder and blast of lightning overpowered the noise of the invaders. When the engines returned, they were faint echoes. At last, they fades away into the darkness. Apay followed them.
Apay shot up when he awoke the next day. Gasping for breath, he noticed that his wounds were gone, and he had been cleaned up. Looking around, he recognized the interior of his own hut. He stood up and hurried outside. His shouts to see if someone was around were met with silence. Silently, he searched around the camp for signs of his tribe. Footprints showed that they had gone to the hills to seek refuge in a rock cave there. As he was about to follow, he noticed an old man wandering around the site.
The bald man had a long grey beard that fell to his waist. His skin was the darkest shade Apay had ever seen. It seemed to absorb even the light itself. Despite the man's apparent age, his body was still in top shape, with a figure that dwarfed even the chief's own muscular form. "Who are you?" asked the Akanfanda Chief.
"The one who saved you," he replied. "Do you not recognize your father whom you called upon in your time of need."
At first Apay was confused, but as he looked upon the old man he saw that he resembled every member of his tribe at once. Yet, he was unrecognizable as a current member. Dimly, he remember the desparate prayer he had shouted to the sky the night before. "Asa?" he whispered. The old man smiled and nodded. "Tell me Asa," he pleaded. "Are my people safe?"
"At the moment," Asa replied. "The women and children are unharmed, as are the soldiers that guided them to the refuge. However, the warriors who fought with you are dead. I have buried them beneath our feet at the center of the village. There they shall remain."
"But why?" Apay asked. "You saved me. Why couldn't you save them?"
"Because they didn't believe that I could."
Apay kneeled on the ground and recited the burial rites over the graves of his men. May the find peace in the afterlife. "Can you drive out the men who have destroyed our home and crushed our spirits?" Apay asked the Father.
He shook his head slowly. "I cannot affect those who don't believe in me." Then the god layed his hand on the kneeling chief. "But do not fear. You will be the one to defeat them. The beasts, birds, and all manner of creatures that share this golden land are frightened of the invaders. They want their lands back too. Use their spirits to power your body. My might will give you the strength to push on. You will be victorious."
Apay then walked to the site of destruction. When the sun was at the peak of travels, he stood before a pair of bulldozers preparing to knock over one of the tallest and oldest trees in the whole savanna. "Not this shit again," said one of the operators, the one who had been attacked the day before.
"There's only one of him," the other one said. "He'll move when we do." He pulled a lever and his machine surged forward, but Apay held his ground. Digging his bare foot into the dirt, he braced for the collision. Grabbing the shovel of the machine, he held his ground. The tracks forced dirt behind them as they tried to push forward, but the bulldozer didn't move another inch. "What the hell?" The operator reached for a weapon but had to steady himself on the control consold as the vehicle was lifted into the air.
With a roar that sounded across the plains, Apay launched the bulldozer through the air at the other engine of destruction. The other driver jumped free of his machined as the two pieces of slammed together. Crunching metal echoed across the grasslands. Hydralic fluid and diesel fuel spilled onto the dry ground. The man lying on the ground looked at the wreckage and saw his partner impaled on a jagged strip of metal. He turned around and tried crawling away from Apay.
In the time it took the man to realize the futility of escaping, draw a pistol from his belt, flip the safety off, and fire the weapon, Apay's skin had turned blacker than the night sky. Covered in an exoskeleton resembling that of the black beetles that fed on dead trees, he could barely feel the impact of the bullets as they ricocheted off his toughened skin.
Apay grabbed the gun from the operators hands and crushed it in his own. Then, he crushed the man's chest beneath his foot. As the man wheezed for air, the chief looked at a dust cloud approaching. Two jeeps drove towards him. Taking in the wreckage of the bulldozers and the now dead bodies of the crewmen, he realized the white men who came to desolate the land of his people would only become more enraged. He walked across the yellow grasses to meet them head on.
Transmogrify Other: Superior
"I tried scaring you off. I tried buying you off. I even tried killing you off, but you just won't leave!" The fat businessmen jumped off the jeep before it fully stopped. Face red from heat and anger, he stood less than a foot from the African chief as he yelled at the muscular warrior. "This time, I'm going to make sure you never leave this spot."
Apay heard the security guards draw their weapons. He lifted the businessman off the ground, holding him between himself and the barrels of the firearms. "Don't shoot!" the swine shouted.
"You run through the land like a storm," Apay said. "Without regard for any of the living beings that live here. Perhaps you'll feel better if you join them." As he tried to protest, the leader of the destruction only squeaked. He scratched himself as the hair on his arms thickened and spread to cover his entire body. His shoes fell off to ground as his limbs pulled into the sleeves and legs of his clothes. The man ground and his nose and jaw stretched out. The teeth inside his mouth grew. Apay let him go and he fell into a pile of cloth. The baboon climbed out of the loose clothes and ran away from jeeps and guardsmen.
Enhanced Speed: Standard
After watching their boss get turned into a primitive primate and the unsuccessful barrage of bullets that followed, the two Jeeps of security personnel fled from the Asa-blessed chief. The drivers slammed the gas pedal to the floor when they realized he was chasing them on foot, and catching up.
Seeing his targets putting more distance between him and they, Apay hunched over to run on all fours. His jet black skin gave way to gold and the chitlin fell away, replaced by speckled fur. In the form of a cheetah. he quickly accelerated to over seventy miles per hour and caught the slower of the two vehicles. Running side by side with it, he began to change forms again.
Form of the Rhino
Creature Form: Superior
Growing in size until he towered over the jeep, Apay formed into a dull gray mass of muscle. A swing of his horned head nearly knocked the jeep on it's side. A second swing flipped it upside down. His massive foot crushed the hood until the engine sputtered and died. He impaled the first man to emerge from the wreckage and flung him away. Snorting and bellowing, he chased after the other people who managed to escape to overturned vehicle.
Natural Weapons: Superior
The rhinocerous form compressed. It's stayed muscular, but returned to a golden color. As the horn shrank, a mane of brown hair spilled out from the neck and shoulders. The lion's roar sounded across the grassland. He leapt onto the men, slashing and biting. They shouted in pain briefly, begged for their lives, but Apay remembered the deaths of his warriors.
After having his fill of the corpses laying around him, he looked around for the other guards, but they were long out of sight. He stretched and licked the blood from his fur before returning to his human form.
Upon returning to the Akanfanda Tribe, Apay was met with delighted surprise. While he knew the destroyers weren't ready to leave, his people could hunt easily while the invaders nursed the wound they had given them. And when the invaders were ready to battle again, he would be ready to defeat them.