Human Trackers [Short Sci-Fi Story]

Their vision? Binocular, but otherwise average.

Sense of smell? Significantly below standard.

Hearing? Mid-range, typically even lower due to their constant exposure to loud noise tending to deafen them over time.

So why is it that so many agencies are beginning to prefer hiring human trackers over just about anyone else? Because, despite all of these hindrances, they’re still the best damn trackers in the galaxy.

Any creature, from the acutely sensitive Kinfolk to even the most unintelligent Ma’Tua child could identify a footprint. Most would even be able to follow a trail of footprints, but have that trail move out of a soft material such as mud or snow, and most are rather effectively stumped without significant aid from technology.

Certain specialized tracker races exist, but every last one has a foil of some sort. The Dol rely heavily on their powerful sense of smell, but their quarry taking a quick trip through a stream or an environment too rich in scents can throw them off easily. The keen sight of the Abaxi is easily countered by dense cover such as trees, buildings, or any other heavily clustered set of obstacles. Even the sensitive hearing of the Drazni is quickly overwhelmed by “loud” environments, whether it be an industrial plant, gunfire, or even just a car idling a few miles away. Every race can be lost with the right strategy.

Except for humans, that is. Human trackers have no foil; because, they track through data collection, rather than through direct observation. A properly trained human tracker can find an overturned leaf, or a bent stick, or even just a faint depression in grass, and can tell you where their target is going, how many there are, how tall they might be, how long ago they passed, and a myriad of other details with stunning accuracy.

Their closest equivalent to a foil is bare stone, pavement, or other similarly flat, hard surfaces. By keeping to these surfaces, and maintaining a level of environmental awareness bordering upon the insane, one can evade human trackers. For a time.

If you ever find yourself being followed by a professional human tracker, these are your best bets, but one slight mistake can spell the end of you. All it takes is one careless step into a littered piece of gum, or a gravel-filled pothole, and the humans will have a trail.

Even if you manage to do all of this, however, you are still likely to be absolutely screwed thanks to one final factor. The best humans are never alone. They work alongside the most terrible and dangerous non-sapient creature the universe has ever known. The dog. Over the course of thousands of years, humans have taken dogs and selectively bred them to be the perfect candidates for certain jobs. Some, such as the Border Collie, were bred for greater intelligence. Others, such as the Poodle and Retriever breeds, were bred to, well, retrieve things. Yet more, such as the Rottweiler and Pitbull were bred with the sole purpose of combat. And the trackers? They received their own version of the dog as well. The humans created the disturbingly named bloodhound.

The bloodhound has millions of individual scent receptors, more than even a Dol. It uses this powerful sense of smell to track creatures with determined precision, even after seemingly absurd lengths of time. On average, the human bloodhound is fully capable of consistently tracking a creature’s scent after over three hundred hours, or about twelve and a half Earth days, far exceeding the capabilities of even the humans themselves.

The humans and their beasts will put all other tracker races out of business in a matter of months. I am certain of it.

Republished with permission from the author, Ceramic_Boi. Image created using Stable Diffusion.

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