A Deaf World
The arctic fox morph looked up at the quiet grey sky hanging over the refugee camp. Pots bubbled over heating pads as refugees all around her prepared their meals. In the distance the dock workers and their machines could be heard over the everyday noises of the camp.
"Fia! Where are you! It’s time for breakfast!" An older human lady came around a tent and picked up little Fiaice.
"Lady Palmer, when are we going off this island?" The little Fiaice kept looking at the cloudy sky with her violet eyes, an oddity for any species.
I don’t know child, we’ll see when the ships are ready," Lady Palmer kept walking back to her tent with Fiaice.
Lady Palmer was an elderly, yet strong woman. She had taken up multiple orphan and refugee children who had lost parents in the war. Her little group numbered in the few dozens now. But she had spread her love out to all of them, taking care of them in place of their missing parents. Other Refugee families helped her in feeding and gathering items for her to help in the care of the children.
"Now Fiaice, remember. We’ll be going to the docks later to see when our ships are going to come. Now finish your breakfast before it gets too cold," Lady Palmer turned her back as the pure white arctic fox morph began to eat again, after asking when she’d be leaving Iceland for the hundredth time that day.
It wasn’t that Fiaice didn’t like the Iceland refugee camp. Sure there were a lot of things to see. Aircraft, supplies, equipment, and the people, millions of them, everyday you’d see a different face, a new smell. But the part that Fiaice found the most exciting and want to leave at the same time were the ships. Huge grey defense ships usually filled the port in Reykjavik. Those were the ones that scared Fiaice. She had always wondered what the little casings on the front did, then one day as she watched one of the ships begin trials, it fired its guns in salute not thirty minutes after undocking. Huge grey barrels coming out from their casings and pointing out to sea, and making a deafening boom that crashed over the place Fiaice had stood to watch. Ever since then she had hated the naval ships. She had liked the small tugboats, always doing something. And powerful for their small size, she always spent a part of her day going to one of the docks to watch the boats.
As Fiaice ate breakfast, radar and sensor operators outside town scrambled, and soon air-raid sirens blared. Millions of refugees all paused for a moment, looking at the cloud-covered sky. Then all ran for the safety bunkers. The ground in between tents and building became a swarm of people all running for what shelter they could as Lady Palmer ushered her children to the nearest bomb shelter. Fiaice tried to follow Lady Palmer, and then the bombs began to fall. Hundreds dying in each blast, Fiaice got separated and ran for the docks instead amidst the rain of missiles and bombs. She jumped into the water.
Fiaice woke with a start; her body froze up for a second in fear as she woke in her hollow tank. Remembering the day that her life had crashed down on her the second time when she was only six. Her dreams always haunting her every time she slept. She looked around the familiar surroundings of the bombed-out tank. Remembering the day she had come to Berlin amidst the invasion and hidden in the bombed tank. She now called the tank her home, close to enemy lines. She had a clear view out some of the holes in the tank into the enemy positions. She slowly rolled out of the small bed she had made in the large ammunition compartment. Making sure to make little noise, she went to one of the openings and saw a patrol from the Humanist camp heading out. Fiaice quietly grabbed her tanto bladed knife and a can of soup. She slowly opened the can, taking her time to eat her meager breakfast. She planned her attack on the troops, those useless Furs and Humans on the other side of the city wouldn’t be able to kill them with her efficiency.
Fiaice left her tank from a trench that ran underneath the tank and into an adjacent office building. From there she made her way to another building, crossing the road behind the building blocking the view from the enemy camp. She slowly walked with her tanto Ka-Bar she had picked off of an enemy soldier hanging around her neck in a sheath, with the handle down. Other than a simple white smock, she wore nothing. Her white fur concealing her perfectly in the Berlin winter. She walked steadily to a building that the soldiers had entered, and followed their footprints. Even now she could still hear the soldiers walking in the distance, probably still fresh from training.
Fiaice kept walking close to the ground. Staying in the darker areas, even though the sky was heavy and overcast, snow falling in huge button-sized flakes, making anything hard to see for the untrained eye, especially those of the twelve soldiers walking in a single line, following a road well traveled.
Fiaice watched the soldiers as she followed, her violet eyes scanning the group. Over half of them carried their rifles crooked. Only one of them, the man walking at the front, would probably pose a problem. He carried his rifle like a well-seasoned soldier, looking around at his surroundings, unlike the soldiers behind him. They followed with dull looks. All of them cold and dreary, not worried about the imminent danger.
Fiaice slowly followed, and looked on as ten of them entered a pool hall to rest, decrepit and partially destroyed in the fighting. Two of them sat at the entrance.
"So, what do you think we’re going to eat tonight?" The first soldier on the left side of the entrance asked.
"Probably that same crap the keep shipping to us," The second soldier complained as he looked the opposite direction. He began to turn as he heard the second soldier gasp. Then he too fell over, a pool of blood forming underneath him from a stab in his neck.
Fiaice looked at the two humanist soldiers, and then went to the back of the building. As she entered the shadows she could hear the men inside talking over their quick lunch. She walked forward slowly, and then froze as a glass bottle fell, and shattered on the floor.
"Shit, what was that now?" One asked.
"Lock your weapons!" The squad leader yelled.
"What? Why would I…," The man fell as a shard of glass flew out from the back room and lodged in his chest.
"GET DOWN AND LOCK YOUR WEAPONS!" The squad leader yelled again. This time he ran to a nearby pool table and flipped it on its side, two soldiers quickly joining him as others did the same. Three groups of three hid behind various articles of furniture, and apprehensively looked over toward the opening to the back room. A single lamp above them giving them their light.
Fiaice quietly snuck to the first table where three soldiers hid behind. They sat looking at the door she had thrown the shard of glass from. They sat oblivious to their predicament as she literally walked up to the first group and grabbed the first man’s rifle.
The man simply gasped, and before he could yell Fiaice spun the rifle, and killed the three at point blank. She flipped to the grenade launcher as the other groups turned to the noise and began firing. She ran as bullets landed around her, the smock trailing behind her and catching a majority of the bullets, as the soldiers tried to distinguish where to aim as the smock, hair, and her body made the decision of where to aim hard. She turned as she ran to a granite and steel counter and fired a grenade quickly toward the second table. The soldiers caught the explosion as they hadn’t ducked to the other side of the table. Not that the Pool table would have protected them anyways as it vaporized from the shell. Only three soldiers remained. The leader sat on the floor his breathing quiet but labored as he loaded a high explosive grenade.
"Give me cover," he whispered to the man next to him.
The two got up at the same time, and as the first soldier fired bursts at the counter, the leader fired his grenade. The force of the explosion ripped the wall behind the counter open and gutted a twenty foot section of wall.
"Where did it go?" asked the first man.
All of a sudden a resounding *SNAP* split the air then a loud *THUNK* shook the pool table. The commander looked over to see one of the new kids look down at a broken pool cue going into his chest, and into the pool table. Fiaice let go of the cue, and before the squad leader could spin, her tanto knife ended his life. The other man tried to jump over the table as his leader went down, but only got shot as Fiaice lifted the rifle and let loose a quick burst into his chest.
Fiaice left the pool hall, the whole squad having been taken out within the space of a few minutes. Well, as far as she thought, the whole squad. The snow around her fell harder as she made her way to the tank.
Inside the pool hall a lone kid tried to pull himself off the cue. He cried into his microphone, only to receive the static from the communication jammers that the Fur forces had placed over the city.
The kid finally pulled the cue from the table, but not from his chest. He gasped as he tried to yank it out; the vision at the edge of his eyes went white. He left the cue in and slowly rolled over, onto his back, the pool cue coming out a good foot from his chest. His breathing increasingly labored as blood went into his lungs. He gasped, and then got up. He slowly limped to the blown out wall and looked down. The tracks from that creature making little prints in the snow, he slowly followed them, after Fiaice.
His walking took him over two hours, whereas Fiaice had only taken her fifteen minutes to get to her tank. He finally reached the trench in the office building that led to the tank, by now he was crawling. Each agonized push forward sending a jab of pain through his lungs as he breathed in, the cue getting caught on debris under the snow every so often. He slowly dragged himself into the trench and stopped, only to realize his rifle was back at the pool hall. He flopped over onto his back in the stiff dirt and froze as he looked up to see a face looking back at him from the underside of the tank.
"Well, fuck me," he whispered through his lips as Fiaice jumped down through the hole in the bottom of the tank and into the trench. She looked at him carefully, studying him. Then her hand reached out faster than lightning and before the kid could say anything Fiaice twisted the cue and pushed it in harder.
The kids scream filled the air as Fiaice jumped back. He kept breathing harder than before as pain kept shooting through his lungs, the pain making his vision blur now. Fiaice stared at the humanist soldier as he lay on the ground, blood frothing at his wound and mouth. She slowly walked forward, only to receive a stare in return. Slowly she grabbed his arm and dragged him up to her tank. He gasped as his arm was wrenched around. His body slowly left the ground as she began to pull him into the tank. Just as he was thrown into the corner of the tank, Fiaice turned and grabbed a knife.
She stopped as she turned around and looked at the kid, no more than her age, if not exactly her age. She stopped and looked closer at him as he stared back. They both sat there looking at each other before Fiaice dropped her knife and this time slowly reached out. The kid cringed as she grabbed the pool cue and quickly pulled it out. Blood began to pour freely from his wound, more of it frothing as he tried to breathe. Fiaice quickly turned around and tried not to stare at the kid fight for his life. The blood slowly began to pool underneath him as his breathing became gurgled.
"Please, if you’re going to kill me, *cough!* do it quickly," the kid coughed more as blood dripped out from the corners of his mouth. Fiaice looked back at him. Then quickly grabbed a medical kit from a ledge. She pulled out some medical wadding and a few patches of Nu Skin. She reached out and ripped his front coat open down to his skin. The thin black cloth fell away from his chest. The kid winced as she jammed a piece of wadding into his chest, and then slapped a patch of Nu Skin onto his chest, sealing his wound. She flipped him over and repeated the process on his back.
The kid looked up at her, but just as he opened his mouth to speak she jammed an inhaler into his mouth and released a spray. He coughed as the spray went into his lungs, but he felt better.
"That’s for your internal bleeding," Fiaice whispered quietly as she turned around and put away her medical equipment, she then turned toward the little heater pack and turned up the settings a little. The inside of the tank slowly warmed up as the kid looked back at her. Fiaice kept looking away from him, not making eye contact as she prepared her lunch.
"How old are you?" the kid asked Fiaice. His voice was rough, but there was no more blood.
"Why do you want to know?" Fiaice cautiously asked, her voice turning ice cold.
"Why not," the kid gasped as he rolled his back onto the floor of the tank.
"Nineteen, in about a week," she silently whispered as she finished preparing her lunch, and began to eat.
"Oh, well I guess we’re born within the month then," the teen said as he stared at the turret of the tank above him.
No more was said until dinner as the teen lay on the floor of the tank while Fiaice sharpened her knives, organized her belongings, and shook out her bed over the hole in the floor. The whole time she didn’t make eye contact with the man. He certainly was built up like one. But she kept him off his mind at least she tried to, until he spoke again.
"Can I, umm, go out and use the restroom?" he croaked a little.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked.
"Well for one it would be nice to know that you won’t kill me," he replied.
"I’m not going to kill you yet," she spoke back, but her voice didn’t offer any reassurance.
"Alright." He tried to get up, only to fall back down.
"Can you please help me?" he whispered as Fiaice looked at him trying to get up again.
Fiaice got up and walked over to him, a little hunched from the low ceiling. She grabbed him by the arm, causing him to wince a little. They walked out through the building. Fiaice let him go and allowed him to hobble over to a dumpster and relieve himself. He finished up, shook himself and zipped up his pants. His chest was cold and bare as he turned around. Just as he walked over to Fiaice, he slipped on a patch of ice.
Fiaice watched as he slipped and fell with a thud, his head hitting the concrete. She contemplated leaving the unconscious teen out in the cold. Saving her the work of having to kill him, but just as she began to walk away she turned. She grabbed his arm again. And even though she was only five feet and ten inches tall she half picked up the teen and dragged him back to her tank.
Morning dawned early with howling winds and an ice storm which blew around the tank. Fiaice had sealed the few holes there were with some tape, she could always remove it when she felt like looking out, but for now she wanted to stay warm.
The teen woke slowly, but as soon as his eyes were open he felt something fall on his face. He reached up and felt some cloth; he whipped it off to find it was a smock, a white one.
"What’s this for?" He asked as he looked up at Fiaice standing in a slightly more worn one, with a few bullet holes in it.
"You’re coming with me today," Fiaice whispered, something in her voice making him shiver, not that it was cold in the tank.
"Why do I need this? I have my black coat," He replied.
"If you expect to live longer, you’d better wear something that I won’t pick out immediately," Fiaice glared back.
"Wait, if I’m with you, why would I have to worry about how long I live for?" Then realization crashed down upon him as he realized he was supposed to run from her. He was going to be her…
"You’ve realized that you’re going to be my practice for today huh?" Fiaice whispered.
He sat there and stared in disbelief, there was no way he’d survive. She was the ultimate killing machine. She had been wreaking havoc on Humanist forces for at least six months now. He hated war, and now he was inadvertently her prey.
They walked out from her tank; she didn’t say anything as she walked with him through the trench. He walked slowly, noticing that she didn’t have her knife with her.
"I’ll give you ten minutes to run, and then you’re fair game," she silently whispered above the ice storm, her violet eyes cutting through the snow and ice to look directly at him.
The teen stood, and realized argument was futile. He turned and started to run. Fiaice looked after him with the white smock, and then began to count.
Fiaice looked for hours, she had looped around, checked tracks, looked at other firefights, even sniffed the air for nearly half and hour as she tried to find him. She finally worked her way back near lunch to her tank. She would continue her search after lunch, and then froze as she smelled something familiar.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Fiaice hissed as she found the teen laying on the floor, completely dry and apparently warm.
"It’s warm here, I like it," he whispered back.
"You’re coming with me!" she hissed again as she grabbed him and slid a plate across the bottom of the tank; once she was out she took a chain and grabbed a lock. She secured the plate, and then put the key from the lock on a thin chain around her neck, hidden in her neck ruff and hair.
They walked for nearly forty five minutes in the freezing weather. By the time Fiaice and the teen reached where Fiaice wanted to be, the teen’s face had tiny cuts from the ice blowing into it, and the thin white smock didn’t help him at all.
"Run! I’ll come after you when I feel like it," Fiaice whispered as they entered a warehouse.
"Why, what motivation do I have for running?" he spoke back, only barely croaking.
Fiaice simply stared as he looked at her eyes and started running. She waited until he ran around the first shipping container on the floor before she started to move. She slowly walked over to a window and shattered it with her elbow. She looked at the pieces of glass before ripping off a strip of cloth from her smock and wrapping it around a part of thin but relatively long eight inch shard of glass. Then she started to jog after where the teen had gone.
The teen kept running along the edges of the warehouse, looking for an exit where he might be able to escape. But every door he came to was iced over, and every window he looked at would be a little risky to go through, or was shuttered off. Finally, as he rounded a corner he felt a sharp stab of pain run through his leg. He looked down to see blood flowing out of a wound, and then collapsed as his leg gave out.
"Why can’t you make it quick?" he gasped as he looked up at Fiaice.
Fiaice didn’t make eye contact as she looked away, he was too big a risk to let go, and she didn’t need to worry about somebody killing her while she rested. It pained her to kill him like this, but it’s what she needed to do. Fiaice started to walk away as the boy lay on the floor and continued to bleed.
"At least now I can see my relatives," he gasped as she slowly walked away. She turned and looked at him staring at the ceiling.
"What do you mean?" Fiaice asked.
"I mean my family was killed because they refused to fight," he gasped.
"Bullshit! Why are you fighting then?" Fiaice began to speak, but the kid interrupted her.
"They held my little brothers at gunpoint, and if I didn’t join the Humanists, I’d die and so would they. They were too young to fight, and they killed the ones down to me that could fight." The teen scoffed then. "Great on how that turned out. I got a letter a month back saying that they died from a landmine set by the Humanists as they were playing on the edge of an orphanage," The teen began to cry softly. "At least now I won’t have to worry about grieving over them anymore; you solved that problem."
Fiaice had walked closer to the teen as he lay there and bled. She began to reach toward the glass as she knelt. Only to be stopped.
"The only thing you can do is kill me quicker, I’ve lost too much blood from yesterday and right now," Fiaice stopped and sat next to him, tears beginning to stain her face, the first time in over a decade when she had run from Iceland onto one of the ships she had hated.
"I’m sorry, I lost family also," she whispered.
"Don’t be, I forgive you. I’ve lived on this hellish planet long enough. I’ll be in a ‘better place’ as they say," he gasped as another jolt of pain ran through his leg. "And like I said before, I can finally see my relatives."
By now Fiaice was crying for killing an almost innocent victim of this war. She hated war, but now she realized some hated it just as much as she did. Even a Humanist draft soldier, she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Don’t cry, you were only doing what you thought was right. And do I have to keep repeating myself? I forgive you," He began to lean back as the escaping blood made him feel light headed.
"Can’t I do anything?" Fiaice asked as she looked at him dying on the cold floor.
"Take me to a warm place. It’s always cold here," he whispered, his eyes fluttering from blood loss.
Fiaice ripped off a strip of cloth again from her smock, and tied it around his thigh above the wound, making a tourniquet. She hefted him up, only to collapse from the weight. Her crying not helping in the least. She finally dragged him out and began to jog to her tank. But when she got to the trench an hour and a half later she turned around to see him still, and unmoving.
Fiaice knelt down and grabbed his body and sobbed, his cold body pressing into him. She felt a little twitch on her cheek, and opened her eyes to see him whisper.
"What?" she whispered back in between sobs.
"Thank you, it’s warm now." His whisper was barely audible above the storm as he died in her arms. Fiaice’s howl and sobs couldn’t be heard as the wind picked up.
Story and Characters are copyright © 2009 anonymous
Chakat universe is copyright of Bernard Doove.
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