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XXII: Jack and the Hunters - Recap

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A beam of energy shoots out from Earth and travels through deep space to a distant planet. On the planet, four leonine alien hunters--the Imakandi-- stalk their prey. The creature they’re stalking can see in all directions and have heightened hearing, but fail to notice the hunters until the Imakandi are right on top of them. The herd panics and runs, and the four hunters leap into their midst, scattering them. They then chase one and electrocute it with their staves, and then shoot an insect dart into it. As it staggers, they tie it up and the creature falls to the ground.

The beam of energy strikes down near them and resolves into the figure of Aku. The demon sorcerer greets them and offers them the greatest prey they could desire: Jack. Aku shows them the image and scent of Jack, and offers them vast treasure to make the attempt, and even more if they succeed. One of the Imakandi tells Aku that they have existed for eons and the hunt is their way of life. The hunt is its own reward, and they accept Aku’s challenge but refuse his offer of wealth. Amused, Aku wishes them a good hunt and returns to Earth.

The Imakandi gather to prepare for their hunt. They perform a mystic ceremony and launch themselves through space to Earth. They land in the midst of a major city and immediately pick up the samurai’s trail. The four hunters run through the city and finally sniff out Jack, who has made camp in a sewer outlet. The Imakandi surround Jack and attack, and electrocute, dart, and bind him in a matter of seconds. They dismiss Jack as inconsequential and say that they will turn the samurai over to Jack. Hearing his enemy’s name, Jack cuts himself free and attacks, but one of the hunters catches his blade with his hands. Realizing that he is outnumbered, Jack flees into the sewers and the hunters smile, satisfied that they have found worthy prey.

Hunter and prey run through the tunnels and Jack is unable to lose them despite his best efforts. He ducks into a chamber filled with pipes and crawls up one, and the Imakandi follow. Jack makes his way to a central chamber where all of the pipes deposit their water. When the Imakandi arrive, there is no sign of the samurai... since he is hiding on the ceiling. However, a single drop of sweat falls from his brow onto one of the hunters. Jack jumps for the outlet and dives into the chamber below. One of the hunters manages to lasso his foot but Jack cuts the rope and falls into the waters below. The Imakandi dive in after him and the samurai swims to a ladder and makes his way to the street.

Jack comes to two aliens talking with their cruiser parked nearby. The samurai leaps onto it and flies off in reverse... sitting backward. He watches as the Imakandi catch up to him, and throws the cruiser into forward. The hunters, undeterred, keep coming and Jack finally leaps clear, letting the cruiser crash into a wall. He then enters a tall building and works out how the elevators work. He calls for one and it arrives just in time, and the Imakandi take the adjoining elevator up. Jack stops at various floors and the Imakandi emerge as well, and they both leap into their elevators and continue upward. On one floor, Jack emerges and waits, and the Imakandi wait as well. The doors of both elevators start to close, and Jack leaps into his just in time, leaving the Imakandi behind.

The samurai arrives on the roof and discovers that the only way out is a ladder leading upward even further. He waits, robe blowing in the breeze, as the Imakandi emerge and search for him. They hear the sound of his robes in the wind and climb up, and Jack leaps onto a thin extension. The hunters follow and Jack draws his sword. When one comes at him, he leaps past him into their midst and jumps onto the extensions above. Finally there is only one thin spire extending up, and one of the Imakandi draws his bow and prepares to shoot.

Jack steadies himself and enters a trance-like state. The hunter fires and Jack catches the arrow. Too late he realizes that it’s a snake, which comes to life and bites his hand. Jack passes out from the poison and falls to his death... but one of the Imakandi dives after him, a rope tied to his leg. He grabs the samurai just as the rope draws taut, and the other Imakandi pull them both up.

As the hunters consider their unconscious prey, Aku appears and congratulates them. They admit that it was their greatest hunt, and Jack has proved himself the greatest prey... and per their custom, they will set Jack free. When Aku insists that he will take what is his, the Imakandi teleport away with Jack.

Later, Jack wakes up back at where the Imakandi first captured him. There is a small blue fire burning and one of the Imakandi, Lionor, appears in the flames. He tells Jack that he has earned his freedom and tell him to run free.