This Valley Of Ours
By G.F.D.
Chapter 6  

"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." My fathers voice echoed through my dream. I woke up with a jolt. There was something floating in the room.

"FREEZE!" I jumped up and pointed my S&W 500 at the shadow.

"What the hell Fred?" Cloud exclaimed who was exiting the room.

"Oh crap, sorry man. I thought somebody was sneaking into the room."

"No problem, itís kinda understandable seeing how hard it is to spot me." He sighed. "Can I go use the restroom now?"

"Oh yeah go ahead, no need to ask." I dropped back onto the couch I was sleeping on.

"Fred, Are you alright?" Hannah propped herself up on one arm across the room from the other set of couches.

"Hmm? Yeah donít worry about it." I turned over; I didnít want her seeing my eyes. I didnít want her knowing my troubles.

"No, you arenít alright now tell me." She kept staring at me, I knew it. I could feel her eyes in my back.

"No" I replied flatly, I didnít need her knowing about what I felt; I was supposed to be strong. And no use in crying over spilt milk right?

I felt a hand on my back, "Itís ok Fusatani, just tell me."

I jumped up "Iím going to go check on the truck, get ready to leave." as I spoke I gathered my belongings.

Hannah stared after Fred; she knew what was hurting him. At least she had a good guess. The deaths of Fredís parents had hurt her greatly. But for Fred to feel that hurt and keep it in. Hannah shook her head in dismay Fred was only hurting himself. She had been grieving the previous nights, but she had allowed herself to accept the fact that they were gone forever, as hard as it was to accept.

I stepped out into the cold dawn air. Didnít Hannah realize I didnít want to be bothered? I looked at the lawn; all that was left was a charred patch with a few bones poking out of the earth. The grisly sight of yesterday reduced to smoldering ashes. Only a few wisps of grey would float up now and then, as if the spirits were finally leaving the hellish earth. I sighed and thought about what needed to be done, today we would need to gather as many supplies as possible. And find out what else was happening in the world.

"Hey Fred, can I ask you something?" I turned toward Cloud as he walked up behind me.

"Shoot" I said, I could see Hannah come around the corner of the hallway inside the Town Hall and walk toward us.

"Thereís something I need to do with my old home before we canÖleave. I mean are you guys staying in this area and all?" Cloud fidgeted a little.

"Umm yeah, I have a cabin up the mountain a ways that Hannah and I are staying in, what were you thinking?" I felt nervous or more accurately, I felt nervousness emanating from him.

"Yeah about my family, they worked in a bakery a small European one. We worked with this man that wasÖ Well legally we were his slaves but he treated us as, to put it simply normal people. He even gave us a weekly base pay, even though it was far below minimum wage to reduce suspicion it was something. And I was wondering if we could go back there one last time. Sorry about rambling on." Cloud finished the sentence with a slight hiccup, but no tears came.

"No problem, as long as we donít get into any trouble on the way." I gestured toward Hannah. "I guess he asked you first?"

"Yes, but I donít think youíre in good enough shape to go around and do this kind of stuff."

"No, Iím fine. My well being will come after this work I donít want to sit around and slack off." I jumped in the truck to make my point.

"We probably arenít going to need that, at least I donít think so. The bakery is only a few blocks down the street." I looked at Cloud who was pointing in the opposite direction from where our MAV and supply pick-ups were.

"Itíll be faster, and we can go in and out quickly. Plus we could use this incase we find something we canít carry." As I finished that last sentence Cloud shrugged, as if in acknowledgement.

We moved through the silent town, the only noise coming from the electric engine and the tires rubbing on the ground. We soon arrived at the bakery, or what was once the bakery. The windows were smashed and bloody, streaked handprints covered the entrance. Cloud looked away as I took the truck toward the back of the shop in the alleyway. At least maybe he wouldnít have to suffer from haunting memories from the back entrance. I sighed in relief as nothing out of the ordinary met us as we turned into the alley.

"So what is it that you wanted to do here?" Hannah asked as we jumped out, our guns at the ready.

"I just wanted to grab some stuff from my room before we go. If you donít mind could you help me out?" Cloud entered the back of the bakery, and Hannah and I followed. Thank god there wasnít anything bad back here either.

The store and home complex was three stories high, the lowest level being the bakery, the second level being where Cloud and his family lived and the third level was where the stores owner lived, or so I guessed. The whole building was set up in a classical European design like the rest of the town. Except now it looked like something out of Eastern Europe during World War 2, or something out of the pictures from there.

The three of us entered Cloudís room, and stopped. There mustíve been enough computer equipment in here to control a cityís communication network, a small city at that but a city nonetheless.

"How much in computer equipment do you have in here?!" Hannah asked. Cloud just looked back as if it were normal to have a wall lined with computer equipment.

"AboutÖohhhh let me think. Over a ten year period and with the price all the equipment was back then, hmmm about $4,000? Give or take a few hundred."

I just stared; Iíd seen pictures on the internet about people who did this kind of thing. But to see it in real life was astounding. He mustíve had three monitors in the center of the wall, and a few laptops to boot.

"How did you get all of this? How did you afford this?" Hannah asked incredulously.

"Well, you know how I said that my owner gave my parents and I an allowance? Well the thing is my parents gave their money, what they didnít spend on necessities, to me. And I in turn used it on this." Cloud waved his hand over his equipment

"Why did you do this? And how old are you? I mean over a TEN year period, you make it sound like nothing." Hannah spoke back.

"I did this because Iím a slave Hannah. I canít participate in normal activities that a human can in the outside world. But online I was anybody I wanted to be. Anything I wanted to be. With my computer it freed me, and I guess my parents realized this. And over the years I gained skills. As for my age, Iím 18 as far as I know. And yes, my first computer I got was when I was eight. And trust me, once youíve done this kind of thing for years, it feels like nothing." Cloud leaned on a clear wall space. "As to how I acquired this, it was in no small part due to my owner. You see, his wife died years ago so my family kinda became his surrogate family. And I was treated by him like his son. When he realized my aptitude one day with the computer we had for business he bought me this one right here. Then after that I ordered all my own stuff online. All I had to do was have my parents deposit money in a bank account under my ownerís wifeís name." He stopped and inhaled slowly. "So, ummm can you guys...ahh, help me move this? I mean since we brought the truck can we bring all of it?" He asked, now nervous.

"I would if I knew where to start; I mean how do we even take this thing apart?" Hannah just stood there after she asked, I did the same. And now that I thought about it, it was a little daunting.

Cloud simply walked up and pulled at a box at the bottom, he undid a few wires behind it and pulled gently and slid it out. "I built this whole thing to be modular so I can change the configuration and move it around. But for our purposes of moving it, it should ease our work." He began to pull at random parts and only undid a wire or two for each. Soon the whole set-up just lay in neat little components on the floor, ready to be moved into the truck.

"Well lets get started, Cloud I suggest that you take the parts that are a little more fragile, Hannah and Iíll take the parts that can be dropped a few times." Cloud just looked at me startled that I would say such a thing. Hannah just snickered.

"Donít worry, Fred doesnít mean it." Hannah said and lifted up on of the monitors, only to let it slip toward the floor and drop. She caught it right before it hit the floor.

Cloud just stood there rooted on the spot. His face looking like he had seen a ghost.

"Donít worry Cloud, she doesnít mean it, she was joking." I said, and laughed out loud.

Cloud just looked at us; I could almost hear his heart beating through his chest. "Well, if you guys donít mind, please donít try to break my stuff."

The work went quickly. The computer and computer equipment filled the bed of the truck and a part of the cab. The equipment wasnít particularly bulky, just that we already had stuff in the truck including that 20mm rifle.

"Okay, weíre going to park this next to the MAV and weíll switch to that. Then weíll go around and grab supplies, you alright with that Cloud?" I asked.

"Iíd rather not leave my stuff behind. Can we at least put something over the equipment to keep it dry and hidden?" Cloud asked, sounding nervous yet again.

"Yeah, I would be nervous too. If you want you can stick with the truck" Fred said, as they drove toward the MAV, passing the desolate, once proud European styled ski-resort town. Hannah got out the map that we had taken the day earlier in the town hall and began to mark places on it with a set of pens from the glove compartment.

"Ok, so the ones marked in red are the absolutely necessary stops, food, medical supplies, equipment, clothes, and other things along that line. Now the yellow ones are places that we could go to, but theyíre extra things. And the green ones are just places for miscellaneous things." Hannah said as she finished marking the map, and held it up so everybody could see. There were at least 20 places to go to just for the red markings, but on the other hand the yellow and green markings were few and far between. That is-until you looked closely at the green ones.

"Wait, why do you have the high end district marked in green?" asked Cloud. Noticing that a large cluster of green markings standing out at different sections of the map.

"Why do you want to know?" Hannah said, with a slight hint of a smile on her lips.

"Well, when the ski season opens up here the places that you marked is the one spot in the town where everybody goes for all things expensive. And as far as I can see we donít have money in between the three of us to afford anything there."

"Well whoís going to stop us from taking anything there?" Hannah replied to Cloud. "Itís not like weíre going to pay for anything when there nobody here to take the money."

"Well, what do we need to get from over there thatís so important to you Hannah? Whatís so important that you have to make a big green spot on the map?" I looked over to her, Hannah just smiled.

"Maybe if we go over there youíll see," she replied coyly.

Nothing was said for the rest of the trip back to the MAV. The switch over to the car was easy, and Cloud was able to get a tarp on the truck from my MAV without any trouble.

"Ok, first place thatís closest to us isÖuhh, the superstore. Any objections Fred, Cloud?" I just stared blankly at Hannah as she turned to look at each of us. "Ok, well letís get going."

The supply pick ups were easy, simply going around and grabbing whatever we felt like in the stores, Cloud tended to focus on the quick, ready to eat microwaveable foods and electronics. Hannah went for the packaged food, the best and the most expensive were the first to go into the MAV, then the little delicacies. She also went around and grabbed some "women" things. I, well I just grabbed a cart and placed my hand behind a shelf full of soup cans as I ran. I had always wanted to do this as a little kid, I almost laughed out loud at this trivial venture. The soup cans went flying into the cart, until I hit a metal divider hidden behind the soup cans.

"Fred, are you alright?" Cloud jogged over to Fred as he watched him drop to the floor and mumble curses, holding his fingers.

"Hannah, Fredís hurt!" Cloud yelled toward the aisle Hannah was in.

"No I just jammed my finger, really Iím ok." Fred grunted as he got up and pulled on his fingers. "Itís just going to feel weird for a while."

Hannah peeked around the corner, "You sure youíre alright Fred? If you are Iíve got something here you might want to check out and consider taking back."

I shrugged at Cloud who simply started walking toward where Hannah had disappeared. I followed, pushing the heavy cart begrudgingly in front of me.

"So whatís the point of having us come here?" blurted out Cloud looking at the shelves of books, no, notebooks.

"We can write," Hannah said. As if we knew what was going on.

"Ah, yeah, I found out how to write in kindergarten, and you Cloud?"

"I memorized binary by the time I was in 5th grade." He replied smugly.

"You know how much of a nerd you sounded like just there?" I asked. Hannah was looking frustrated now.

"The reason I brought us here is for these." Hannah said.

"Yeah I can see that, now why do we need notebooks?" I almost shouted, why she had to beat around the bush I couldnít figure out for the life of me. I swear she always did this to frustrate me.

"Because Fred, youíre going to write about whatís happened here, oh and you too Cloud." She finally finished.

"Now why would we need to write about whatís happened? You said yourself to let go of them, or what happened," Cloud replied. His smug look gone.

"Yeah, and I also said to honor their memory. Look Iím not forcing you to do this, but remember. If nobody knows what happened here, what happens now, nobody will learn from it. The world needs to know what happened. When this is all over people need to know how horrible this was. And then maybe, just maybe weíll leave just big enough of an impression on future generations to let them know how bad it was. And hopefully with this information they will learn to never let it happen again." Hannah stopped and took a deep breath.

What she had said was true. My fatherís voice came echoing back into my head. I spoke up to try and shake those chilling words.

"Yeah, letís grab these and move on. I think we grabbed enough things from here. Weíll come back for the rest of this some other day." I swept my hand through the air and gestured toward all the other aisles. We had hardly made a significant dent on the stock. Only some sections of shelving showing holes revealing the backs of the shelves. The other shelves remained full for the most part.

The supply gathering of all the red marked areas went quickly, considering there was only the three of us. We skipped the yellows, just incase a Ďrainy dayí came along and we had to watch our supplies. The only thing left was to go home, until Hannah spoke up.

"Donít you think youíre forgetting to go somewhere?" Hannah smiled from the passenger seat, giving Cloud and I a coy smile.

"Well we could go to the electronics store," Cloud piped up.

I contemplated the decision; I had somewhat of an idea of what Hannah wanted from the green district.

"Wait yeah. That isnít such a bad idea Cloud. Hang on!" I yelled as I floored the MAV.

I had figured out long ago that there wasnít anybody else in the town. So I didnít care how much noise I made now. The diesel engine roared from itís hibernation under the electric engines as the tires spun. The whole back end on the car fishtailed 180 degrees around and the 9200 pound car took off in the direction of the electronics store down the street.

"NONONONONONO, STOP!" Hannah and Cloud began to yell as I kept the car floored.

"LETíS SEE WHAT THIS BABY CAN HANDLE!" I kept going toward the concrete median bisecting the street that ran in front of the electronics store. It was shaped perfectly for my needs, sloped sides about four feet across and one and a half feet high. The whole car shuddered as the front suspension sunk down then raised again, the front of the car lurched upwards. A shudder ran through the bottom of the car as something impacted the concrete. The rear of the car did what its counterpart had accomplished. The whole car going into the air for a split second as soup cans and other supplies flew up in the zero gravity of the car. The car landed and swerved as the diesel engine continued to power the car forwards like a rocket. The car fishtailed out of control as I fought to control the steering, correcting and overcorrecting as it sped toward the entrance of the electronics store.

"OH SHIT! HANG ON!" I yelled as I yanked on the emergency break. The MAV skidded off to its side. But a second too late as the car slammed sideways through the glass door of the electronics store. The upper steel railing for the door twisted and bent as the roof of the car tore it apart. The car kept skidding until it just barely tapped the edge of a CD case, and stopped.

"Whoa, THAT WAS INSANE" I yelled.

"WHAT DID I TELL YOU LAST TIME?! IíLL KILL YOU!" Hannah screamed in my ear as she grabbed my throat in a vice-like grip.

"CloudÖhelpÖnow" all I got in response was a middle finger rising from beneath a pile of soup cans.

"HannahÖ seriously...letÖgo" I slumped forwards, pretending to black out.

"Oh god, Fred!" Hannah jumped back. Cloud seemed to come out from under the pile of soup cans like something out of an old horror movie. Right before they came to feel my pulse I jumped back. Making both of them recoil in surprise.

"Gotcha!" I looked at them, Cloud looking worse for wear. Hannahís hands twitched and her ears were flattened against her head as she growled.

"At least Iím not dead, right? Oh and Cloud you donít have to worry about carrying anything you want far, because this store is like a drive thru now!" I looked at them as Cloud began to push the soup cans back over the seats.

"I was thinking of the green marked areas Fred." Hannah continued to growl through her teeth.

"Oh, really? Well, hang on again!" I released the cars brakes and spun the car out from the glass strewn floor and headed out the store. We shot out of the entrance, with both Cloud and Hannah hanging on to the armrests. This time though I slowed down when we neared the street and turned onto the street at a normal speed. As I passed the area I jumped the car I noticed a chink of concrete knocked out of the median.

"My heart hurts man." Cloud whined from the back seat as we drove toward the green marked area of town.

"Donít worry, itís just the adrenaline. Oh, and Hannah, you donít mind telling me what youíre going to get in the green area do you?" Hannah just sniffed and waved her hand.

On the drive there I couldnít help but chuckle for some time at my own antics. Whereas Cloud probably tried not to throw up, and Hannah most likely steaming over what happened.

"Well weíre here, now what were you going to get Hannah?" I asked. She simply sniffed again and looked out the window.

"I donít feel like getting anything now." I looked incredulously at her and looked out. We had stopped in front of an expensive clothing store.

"Ok, well I guess weíll go back," I replied.

"Fine with me," Hannah snapped back.

The drive back toward the truck was quiet. The only sound could be heard coming from the electric engine as the occasional click of the steering wheel as I turned from street to street. The MAV quietly hummed its way across town. A plan slowly hatched in my head as we neared the truck.

"Hannah, can you drive the truck up to the cabin? Cloud and I have to grab a few things that I just remembered from the yellow areas."

Hannah just jumped out without so much of an acknowledgement or look back. She simply hopped into the truck now adjacent to us and started it up after grabbing her things from my car. I watched as the rear lights went slowly up toward the cabin, the sky starting to get dark again as the day began to near its end.

"Where did she earn how to drive?" Cloud asked as he shifted around the soup cans toward the door.

"I taught her about a year ago in secret during night-time drives." I replied as I contemplated how long we would be working into the night. I looked at Cloud as he finally shuffled out the door before speaking.

"Now youíre going to do what I say or Iíll drive like I did earlier every time we go somewhere" I turned toward Cloud as he switched to the seat next to me.

"Wonít Hannah kill you then?" Cloud looked up and out the front windshield as he said that.

"Iím willing to take that risk for what were going to do." I spoke back.

"Fine, I guess I owe you anyways. Iíll help you, whatís up?" Cloud said as he fastened his seatbelt.

A while later we were in the clothing shop, looking at the hangars filled with silks, fur outfits, coats, ball gowns, sashís, and all kinds of other clothing I didnít even have a name for.

"So, you look like a person whoíd know womenís dress sizes. Tell me what you think Hannah would fit in" I looked at Cloud again.

"Wait, are you saying Iím a cross dresser?" Cloud just looked back with surprise that I would suggest such a thing.

"Yep," I replied.

Cloud just glared back, "Hey, canít you take I joke?" I asked.

He sighed "Letís get started then. Since I donít know what sheíd fit in lets just take all of them."

"Sounds simple enough, lets get going"

Hours passed, at one point I turned the car to face the entrance of the store with the headlights on. That way we could see what we were grabbing since we couldnít find the power switch in the building. The night deepened until we finally collapsed into our respective seats in the car.

"Ok, you think we got enough?" Cloud asked. I looked back into the rear of the MAV, only to find a wall of silk blocking my view back.

"No," I said.

"Ok, letís go then." Cloud squeaked as he tried to regain some more of his breath. The car glided up and out of the town. My vision began to grow dim at the edges of my field of view as we neared the cabin. I hadnít eaten all day, except for in the morning. I had that small energy bar in the super market but otherwise no meals. We sneaked into the cabin as Cloud went around nervously, trying to find a bathroom. I went upstairs after finding nobody on the couches.

Hannah was sleeping with her dark copper hair spread out over the pillow in the master bedroom. The king sized bed far too big for her slim figure, not that she was scrawny or petite. I stared as I thought. She would be described as a BBV by most, otherwise known as a Big Breasted Vixen. The meaning defined a vixen that was genetically created for sexual pleasure but little intelligence, but Hannah was different. She was smart, once when I had found an IQ test online we tried to race each other. I later found out she actually out-paced me by about 12 points. I shrugged mentally, she was only my friend. And I also had more pressing matters at hand.

Cloud and I walked out toward the MAV; both of us had to use the bathroom when we arrived. Now we were going to work on unpacking the supplies. We started with the expensive clothing that almost sprang out of the back of the car when I opened the rear hatch. We tried to quietly move all of the clothing up the stairs. I threw my shoes off every time I went into the house as to make less noise when we walked through the house, toward the master bedroom. Both of us worked well past midnight and almost to three A.M. before we slumped down onto the couches.

Cans of soup laid on the granite floor of the kitchen in a gigantic pyramid as other foods sat upon the island counter. Miscellaneous supplies lay about in separate piles in the living room. Cloud and I began to slowly drift off to sleep amongst the piles of medical supplies and camping gear.

"Oh, if you want to find a better place to sleep you can choose one of the bedrooms. Just remember to shower before you use the sheets." I grumbled at Cloud who only looked back at me blearily.

"Yeah, let me do that tomorrow you damn slave driver. My computer is still sitting outside by the way. You didnít even let me bring that in. All because we had to make a wall ofÖ" Cloud drifted off and I only remember slumping forwards. The night enveloped them and their half of the ravaged globe.

 


Chapter 7

Hey, this is a quick apology to a person I was careless enough to forget after all the work they did to help me with this work. Without Lars V. Jensen I wouldnít have this piece of work that I have now. Sorry about the late acknowledgement man, can you forgive me?

The air, it was stifling Hannah as she woke up. Her eyes tried to focus as she felt something restricting her movement around her. She rubbed her eyes, and looked around and blinked.

I woke up with a start, "Hannah!" I sprinted up the stairs my S&W 500 already at the ready, having been strapped to me constantly for three days now. She had screamed. Something was wrong; the only thought that registered in my mind was to get to the master bedroom as fast as possible.

I didnít even stop as I jumped up and slammed into the door, making the quick release pins pop out. The house having been designed to be easy to modify and fix the doors and such were made to pop out if pushed hard enough from any direction. But safety and security were still foremost so the windows were fastened a little better and opened from the inside only.

I tried to roll up but something pinned me before I could move. My gun was wrenched out from my hand and thrown on the pile of clothes on the bed. I flipped my adversary, only to look into Hannahís smiling face staring up at me.

"What the hell Hannah" was all I could blurt out before she hugged me.

"If you guys donít mind could you hold off on making a baby, and tell me where I can grab my breakfast." Cloud moaned sleepily from the doorway. "Damn, you did a good job at getting to Hannah, Fred. I didnít know you felt that way about her beforeÖ"

Before Cloud could finish Hannah threw a pillow that had been on the floor at him.

"Weíre only friends!" We shouted in unison, I got up and Hannah simply lay on the floor.

"Fred" Hannah said and raised her hand.

I helped her up and was met with another hug. "So wait, why did I get this kind of treatment all of a sudden?"

"Just my way of saying sorry I guess" I replied as we both looked over Hannahís room. The bed around Hannah was covered with a mountain of clothing and the corners of the room had all the clothes from the store filling the corners. Hues of red, blue, yellow, white, black, and all the colors of the rainbow filled the room as the sun came shining down upon the cabin.

"Well, I guess Iíll go down and get everything packed and ready for the new day." I blurted out as I quickly withdrew my hand from Hannahís and picked up my handgun that lay on a red ball gown. That was an awkward moment to say the least.

Hannah stood there for a moment, and then walked over to the dresses. Might as well try this since we arenít going anywhere, she thought to herself as she picked up a dress that looked like it might fit her.

I had begun to move the parts of Clouds computer to the room he had requested while the oddly colored morph ate his breakfast. At first the wolf morph had requested to help but was forced to eat since I claimed that this was a thank you for the help with the clothing. He watched as I made trip after trip into the cabin with the computer parts. Making sure it was all taken care of well. His eyes drifted over the dozens of guns lying in the entrance area and on the side of the island counter. I had pushed them over to make room for the food last night.

Cloud sighed and placed his nearly empty plate of cold, ready to eat food in the sink. Might as well play around with one of the electronics they picked up in one of the red zone stores. He walked around the living room until he found something that caught his eye. A HAM radio set, the exact one he had been eyeing before the attacks. He shook his head to clear the memories. Well at least now I get to play with it he thought as he picked up the heavy box and brought it to the living room and slumped down on the couch. He winced as the sore spots from the soup cans and all the lifting from last night protested from his movement.

He flipped open the box and tossed the information booklet off to the side. He had already studied this HAM radio online inside and out. He knew what to expect even before he bought it, but now he had it, right in his hands without having even paid for it. The train of thought was interrupted as I spoke up from behind him.

"Hey, all youíre computer stuff is in youíre room right now. Now youíre all on your own about setting the damn thing up." I began to walk away. But stopped "Hey, Iím going to ask you a quick question, do you mind?"

"No, not at all" Cloud began to wonder what Fred was going to ask.

"Last year I heard something about those power stations, you know the ones that were predicted to generate 80% of the towns power off of melt water, are they finished?" I asked, hoping I didnít look too worried.

"Oh, you mean Project Green? Yeah most of them are finished and the few that arenít were going to have their wiring hooked up this week. Why were you thinking about them?"

"Oh, just a curious thought." I trailed off as I looked up and behind Cloud towards the stairs.

"So, what do you think?" Hannah asked the two of them turned around and dropped their mouths.

I regained my composure before Cloud, "I think it makes you look fat."

Cloud just stared at Fred as Hannah looked down at the black dress she had picked out. It was definitely form fitting and Cloud just couldnít get her image out of his head even when he turned away to look at Fred.

"You know Fred I can never tell when youíre being serious or joking. So if you donít watch out you might wake up one of these days without much of youíre manhood left." Hannah smiled and came down the stairs and passed him and went toward the kitchen.

"Wait, whatís going on?" Cloud asked as he turned around to see me chuckling.

"Oh, that. Hannah knows Iím just joking. Donít worry about it she wont castrate me, itís always turned out to be an empty promise anyways, right Hannah!" I yelled back as I turned toward the kitchen where she had gone.

"Oh, were you calling for me?" She looked back around the corner with a knife in hand. "Because if you were Iíd like to have a word with you, just bring some duct tape with you when you get around to it."

"Ah, never mind" I replied and sat down on the couch. I picked up a map and looked through it as Cloud got up and went to his new room to fiddle with the HAM radio and set up his computer.

It was late afternoon when I got up from the couch and stretched. Might as well turn on the TV I thought.

Before I could do anything something hit the back of my head and fell to the floor with a flutter.

"Start writing" Hannah said with a smile. Hoping to get him out of whatever was eating away at him. She knew he could hide his emotions well, but she had learned when something was wrong ever since she had started to live in the Satoís household. She had hoped to find out what was wrong by letting him write about it. It usually helped. Sometimes when he wrote about his problems the paper would suck the emotion out of him like a sponge.

"Why? Itís not like anybodyís going to want to hear whatís happened." My mood turned dour, not to say I was particularly happy before. I didnít feel as bad as two nights ago night. My depression was eating away at me slowly. I needed to get away from having to face writing what I had seen.

"Iím going out." I walked toward the door and stopped to grab a Ruger 10/22 rifle and walked out before anybody could say anything. I hopped up into the MAV and turned the ignition and sat there staring at the steering wheel. I looked up thru the window to see Hannah staring down at the notebook. The MAV backed out of the driveway and made itís way into town, cold memories filling my head.

"Hey Hannah whatís up? Whereíd Fred go?" Cloud looked out from his room at the frozen statue-like Hannah.

"Heís taking this whole thing tough. Really tough" Hannah replied and picked up the notebook. She stood back up. Fred was bound to take his feelings out by some other means.

I looked up at the dead bodies hanging from the street lights. Slowly taking aim with the 10/22 then fired. The body fell to the ground; one by one I repeated the process, aim, squeeze, shoot, watch rope snap, body falls, and light on fire. I was getting numb to my emotions as I watched the bodies fall after the rope was shot. I counted seven furs and two humans. It was the last fur that I reached that made me stop. I looked at it right before the tongue of flames I held touched the corpse. The wolf-morph, I had seen that fur pattern before somewhere.

"Cloud" I whispered as I recognized the patches of fur that refracted the light. I stared at the male wolf morph, the lifeless body lying there, unmoving.

I realized what happened as I stood there looking at the body of Cloudís father. I wasnít the only one who lost loved ones; I wasnít the only person with problems. My knees felt weak as I turned away.

People needed to know what happened here, people couldnít forget how bad this was. History repeats itself, this would happen again.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The voice was back, ringing in my head. Never ending, always staying. I was a man now, I had to take action and do this.

Cloud and Hannah found Fred nearly two hours later, surrounded by patches of smoldering black, staring at one in particular. Cloud knew what had happened; he simply went up behind Fred and tapped his shoulder. The three of them headed back up and out the MAV following the truck as they went back to the cabin.

I began to write in the afternoon, Cloud went back to his room and Hannah sat adjacent to me watching my writing.

The writing took forever; Hannah watching me didnít make it go any faster, until I heard the noise. A small static filling the air creeping from Cloudís room, I got up and walked to his door.

Right when I touched the door handle the door itself flew open and Cloud jumped out and knocked me back.

"Damn man whatís with you flying out from a door and attacking me?" I said, my head feeling sore again.

"Sorry, hey check this out man!" He dragged me up and spun into his room. I heard a snigger from behind me as Hannah pushed me in through his door.

"Hey so guess what I got set up!" Cloud looked back at us.

"The HAM radio we stole?" I guessed since he had been carrying it to his room after all, and the static was coming from the HAM itself in the corner of the room.

"Yeah check this out, all kinds of people who have HAM, FM, AM, and satellite radio are broadcasting the news like crazy!" Cloud flicked a dial and news came over, a bit fuzzy but still playing none the less.

"Now guess where Iím picking that up from?" Cloud asked as he flicked off the volume.

"Britain" I guessed again.

"How did you know?" Cloud asked quizzically.

"Lucky guess" I shrugged. "Oh, hey can you switch to some news if you can find any?"

"Sure thing" Another dial was flicked as I looked at the clock. It was already six thirty.

"Iím youíre host David Hickey here with Licenta Radio! Now if you havenít been paying attention to the news or you live in a hole we all know whatís going on. For that reason Britain has opened its gates to any fur or human who wishes to maintain a sanctuary."

"Today is Thursday the 7th right?" Hannah asked. It had already been 3 days since we had left home.

"Yeah" I replied.

"You wanna see how the Grand Canyon is doing right now on the TV?" Hannah asked again.

"Not really, no. But I guess we can see to learn," I walked out of the room and went to the TV. The screen flicked to life and the one channel that was on last night was gone.

I flicked thru the channels. There was nothing. Everything was gone, and then all of a sudden an image came over. Static covering some of it, and the sound wasnít so great either. Cloud began to scramble with something behind the TV as Hannah and I stood watching the TV trying to discern something, anything from the babble.

"Got it" Cloud muttered from behind the TV. The image and sound became almost instantly crystal clear.

"The fighting on both sides has escalated as the Gene Projects have gained weapons through night-time airdrops. Our forces on the other hand were met today with the new C-145 gunships. Graciously donated from the remaining U.S. armed forces," The image showed potbellied transports landing on a makeshift runway. Their turboprops kicking up dust from the red earth as they flew in, the sides were smooth and aerodynamic. I reminisced to five years ago when they were released. Their electronics were so advanced that they could jam all radar without having to use an oddly shaped aircraft. The guns were recessed into the airframe to make the craft as aerodynamic as possible. When firing they popped out. But unlike the older "Spooky" gunships the firing system was so accurate they didnít rely on sheer numbers of munitions being put on target. But rather on the sheer power and accuracy of the munitions being fired. Hannah and Cloud may not have realized it, but in that seemingly innocent airframe held three105mm howitzers, then four venerable M235 30mm chain guns. The chain guns were the main weapons on this craft. Their upgraded electronics and material make up from the older M230 allowed them to fire twice as fast.

"Now we go into the canyon with one of the sniper units being stationed there to see the status of our impending victory," I snapped back to my thoughts as the camera switched to a reporter lying next to a couple of snipers. I had to strain my ears to hear the whisper of the man lying next to the sniper.

"Weíre here one mile behind enemy lines scouting the area. Apparently the Gene Projects are now better armed than before but they will still be defeated. Right now weíve been watching another pair of enemy snipers trying to pop off a shot at our troops. Weíll show you some camera footage of us taking them out. Weíve received permission to fire just about three minutes ago." The camera switched to a bundle of scrub oak on the other side of the canyon, a little over a mile away. The snipers made motions to lower the camera a little and zoom. Just below the rim there seemed to be nothing. Just then the microphone cut out for a split second as one of the snipers took a shot. A red tracer flew through the air making a lazy arc across the sky in the canyon.

"Shit! Itís a decoy!" One of the snipers almost yelled. All of a sudden there was a whizzing sound and the camera fell off to the side. The reporter got up but before he could take a step forwards his lower body disappeared. Before we could see what happened to the snipers the camera switched back to the set.

Now that I looked at the set of the news room, it looked a little disorganized, making it look like they were working from a bunker, or house.

"Well there you have it. We are near a victory, granted we always face losses during times of war," The reporter paused to look at the screen. "Currently the status from the field is that we have the Gene Projects and their human supporters surrounded. There is no escape or entrance from the canyon. And in four days time, I repeat four days time if our demands of complete surrender are not met we will take more drastic measures. We highly encourage all other nations who are still with the Humanist cause to join up, to take more drastic measures against this resistance. We already have reports that last night Britain and Japan suffered a major coup díétat."

I looked at Cloud, "Hey can you gather more info on that coup?"

"Sure thing, let me see if I can access the internet, granted if servers are still up. Otherwise Iíll have to route myself through a satellite to remaining ISPís," Cloud ran off to his room and returned with two wires and a laptop. I turned back to the TV.

"Weíll go back to the news flash last night from what happened in Britain, our sources are still unsure of the status in Asia," The camera switched to a recording from Britain. A female reporter began to speak "We are here on the steps of Parliament where an act was passed just half an hour ago that allowed martial law to be held over Britain to quell the Gene Project uprisings that started out in Ireland and spread to Scotland," A host of BBC came in via television conference from the right side of the screen.

"Any idea why these uprisings are occurring at this time, Cathy?" A news anchor questioned the female, Cathy.

"Well from what we heard from the refugees from Ireland and Scotland the Gene Projects and Human supporters were asking for an end to the oppression and cruel and unfair treatment they were receiving. Also they wanted less government influence in the world markets, and less restricting domestic policies. Now remember we had similar uprisings before with the same requests. But the SAS and other forces based around the EU took the uprisings out."

All of a sudden an explosion shook the square that the woman was in; the explosion was quickly followed by bursts of automatic fire. The camera man shut off his camera and nothing more was heard.

The screen went back to very first host that we saw when the TV turned on. "Well there it is: The Gene Projects and their Human supporters are rallying against us because they believe they deserve the same rights as us Humanists, and that a strong centralized government is supposedly bad for their well-being. That was the last communication that weíve had with Humanists from Scotland, Ireland and Britain. May God be with all those who died in the name of Humanity," The screen switched to a propaganda commercial calling for all people supporting the pure human species to take arms against Furs.

I shut the TV off as Cloud looked up. "You got some information?" I asked as I turned toward him.

"Yeah, apparently Japan, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and surprisingly it looks like Iceland are beginning to support us." He looked up as he finished the sentence.

"Yeah, now what about oh, Mainland Asia, Russia, Mainland Europe, Africa, South America, India, and us?" I asked again.

Cloud began to type some more. "Well most of them are split up into some kind of boundary made by major political lines or geographical barriers, such as oceans. Look at this website made by a man in Japan. Heís marked all the zones that are safe from attack in green. Which thereís none as of yet. All the Yellow spots are where thereís fighting but thatís the only spots you can be in right now next to the red sections. Of which thereís allot."

Hannah spoke up, "Iím guessing that the reds are controlled by ĎHumanistsí as they call themselves?"

"Yeah, you see the red has been growing steadily in Mainland Europe and Asia. Look at the past three days since the global revolts began for our freedom. Mainland Europe had spots of Yellow break open in major cities as with Asia. Look at Berlin, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Moscow, St, Petersburg, and Paris," Cloud took a breath.

"You get the point; now look at the next couple of days. The second day the revolts explode and the yellow sections grow at least twenty times their size. The third day itís like they shrunk to below half their size. But look at this. In the large land areas like Russia, Africa, Mainland Asia thereís spots where the revolts grow but level off. But In Europe and Eastern Asia the Yellow spots are shrinking and moving to the coast. And as for today France and Belgium have an 800 mile area of Yellow surrounded by red. In Mainland Asia they have more land by the coast. Japan is completely yellow by now and so are the Koreas, Philippines, coastal India, and other areas. But like Europe, the parts on the mainland are shrinking to the coast."

I looked at the map. Things werenít looking good for the Furs and Human supporters. And I noticed Australia. "Hey, whatís up with them?" I asked Cloud.

Hannah spoke up now. "Maybe theyíre just neutral, more accepting of us maybe?" She shrugged.

"Ok well I guess we know whatís going on. Granted the Humanists probably have more technology which would explain why theyíre doing so good right now," I looked at Cloud as I spoke, he closed his laptop.

I looked at the wall. It was nearing nine. "Well, whoís up for some dinner!" I yelled and made both Cloud and Hannah jump. They looked worse for wear from sitting there watching the news.

I ran for the kitchen and grabbed Hannahís expensive food. She saw what was going on and ran after me as I went out to the MAV. Cloud followed after grabbing a small radio.

"Get back here Fred!" Hannah yelled as I jumped into the MAV and backed out.

Hannah jumped into the truck and Cloud jumped in beside her. The truck squealed as Hannah spun onto the road and followed Fredís taillights going up the mountain.

I kept the MAV just in visual range of the truck. But after a while I shut the lights off and ran my car with the moonlight guiding me. My pure black MAV was swallowed into the night as I switched to the electric motors and headed toward the Overlook. A small spot made a couple of years ago for a scenic overview of Denver and the plains. You could see the mountains surrounding the town from the Overlook and Denver out in the distance.

I stopped and backed into the parking lot in the overlook. The road led directly into here so Hannah and Cloud were going to get here sooner or later.

"Hey, Hannah you want to slow down so we donít go over the Overlook coming up?" All of a sudden lights went on and blinded Hannah and Cloud. Piercing through the night and making a white sun appear in front of them. As Hannah let go of the steering wheel, sensors picked up how far her hands were from the wheel and depressed the breaks. The truck stopped immediately, albeit a little screeching coming from the tires.

"God, he better be getting me all the jewels in the world now for this crap," Hannah stumbled out of the truck and the car automatically shifted to park when the weight of the driver lifted from the seat. Cloud simply stared blankly as the lights dimmed and shut off.

"Hey, so do you feel better now!" I yelled across at them.

"I feel like Iím going to shit myself." Cloud mumbled back.

"Well hereís youíre well earned dinner Hannah," I gave her the bread and cheese basket set I had taken. "Wanna walk up to the Overlook right now? Forget this war?"

"Sure, as long as it lets me forget about what just happened," Hannah walked toward the entrance of the short path with Cloud and Fred in tow.

The radio crackled silently on Clouds belt. "Hey, Fred thereís something coming over the handheld HAM I brought."

"Letís wait until we get up to the Overlook," I continued and noticed an orange glow coming from the gaps in between the trees near the overlook.

The two of us caught up to Hannah and stepped onto the platform of the Overlook at the same time as her. And stopped.

Denver was burning. Not all of it, but the industrial complex sent an orange glow into the sky.

The radio crackled again, this time a little louder, catching all of their attention. "Ready the Kinetic Strike System lieutenant. Denver is a lost cause. We cannot let the furs keep a hold on Denver."

There was a pause as I looked at the HAM radio that Cloud had taken. "Oh God," was all I could whisper as I looked at Denver.

"Sir, the system is ready and armed. All we need is youíre go ahead." The voice came over.

The older man spoke again. "Armed and released. Lets sit back and watch them burn in hell boys"

I looked up and saw two stars align in the night sky. A small flash came from the heavens as I looked on.

"Fred, whatís going on?" Hannah asked. Then looked up and saw the lines of light breaking through the atmosphere.

"The first tactical strike to be made by the Kinetic Strike System, in the history of mankind" A set of four lines of light impacted Denver.

The ground shook as a massive could of dust was kicked up in Denver. The buildings crumbled and burned with renewed fire. The black skeletal fingers of the skyscrapers reached up toward the heavens as is begging for mercy. Hannah dropped her basket and reached for my hand.

More secondary explosions ripped through the city as a previously unconscious wolf morph got up from the rubble. He looked up and saw a shaft of light from the moon peek through a crack in the vault walls as he looked up. His Marlin .45-70 guide rifle in a death grip in his right hand, the other scrabbling onto the destroyed and burning walls as he got up slowly and passed out again, pain overcoming his large 6 foot 8 inch frame. The world went black.

 


Chapter 8

"Why would they do that? Why did they destroy the city? What is the Kinetic Strike System?" Hannah wouldnít stop asking questions once we got back to the cabin.

I sighed, history was indeed repeating itself.

Cloud spoke up, "There was an attack by Humanists on the city earlier today, which would explain why the industrial district was burning. As to why they destroyed the city I have no idea."

"Have either of you heard of the scorched earth policy?" I spoke.

"No what is it," Hannah asked, almost begging for more information.

"In World War 2 on the eastern front in Europe, the Russians were being beat back by the Germans. The Russians burned everything they left behind so that the Germans couldnít get supplies from the places they captured. Even though Iím pretty sure it was used before that thatís the one instance I can remember where the Scorched Earth policy was used," I took a deep breath, shocked by what I had seen. "I guess since the Humanists lost they decided to not let the Furís and Human supporters keep a hold on Denver."

"That still doesnít explain to me what the Kinetic Strike System is," Cloud nodded with Hannah as she spoke.

"I have an idea of what it is but could you elaborate?" Cloud added.

"Well it was put into place in 2045 but the exact month is kept a secret. Itís a set of satellites that drops stuff," I finished; I didnít want to get into the details.

"It doesnít simply just drop stuff, tell me the whole story," Hannah was getting a bit jumpy now.

"Ok fine, itís a set of satellites placed in orbit around the globe, each one holding about ten Ďroundsí if you will. Each Ďroundí happens to be a forty foot tall by two foot thick piece of tungsten and god knows what. The thing is shaped like a dart except it has fins in the back and a solid fuel rocket booster. After the Ďroundí gets dropped from a satellite gravity brings it down. After the rocket enters the upper atmosphere the rocket fires off boosting its speed by about eighty percent. When it hits the earth it produces the power of a small atom bomb, minus the fallout. Does that answer youíre question?"

Hannah and Cloud just stared. "Iím sorry, I just got caught up in this," I slumped down onto the couch, and tried to sleep.

The wolf morph began pulling off rubble that had fallen on him while he had blacked out. He got up but collapsed again. He looked down and saw his tan fur matted with blood on his leg. A long gash ran up his left leg from shin to mid-thigh. He grunted with pain and pulled off his pack. Hoping against hope he still had some medical supplies. He looked in the pack and almost passed out. Almost everything that he used for medical supplies was damaged except a piece of rubber tubing for an IV.

He pulled out the IV tube from his pack and tied it around his leg above the wound making a tourniquet. He pulled out the last morphine needle and used it on himself. Slowly he got up and pulled his shirt off and tied it around his wound trying to stop the remaining bleeding. He looked up and crawled up and out of the hole in the side of the vault. Only pausing once he was on the outside, turning to look at the four feet of twisted steel that got ripped open by last nights strike.

He walked for almost three hours, jumping at every little noise in the deserted city. The buildings, once tall and proud were now ruins. As he walked he looked at the twisted steel and shattered masonry. Slowly limping until he got to what was left of the capital. He tried to remember if this was the correct site to meet up in an emergency. The city around him was blackened and dead, it was hard to tell if he was even at the capital dome at all. Then he saw four trucks parked in a circle a little ways off in the middle of a park square, the trees stood scorched, like silent sentries.

"I say we go and fight the people who did this to us!" a rabbit morph yelled at an older human.

"Well I say live to fight another day! Youíll go and get yourselves killed!" The human yelled back.

"Is this all thatís left of us?" Wakan asked with his raspy voice, trying to quell a cringe of pain from his leg.

"Yeah, and weíre going to go fight the bastards who did this to us!" The rabbit morph yelled. About half of the survivors cheered in unison, holding their guns up while the others looked on gloomily.

"Well fine then, suit yourselves. Weíre going to look for survivors and hold this town." The human said, and turned his back, making the argument final.

Wakan looked in between the two parties, and jumped onto the truck with the rabbit morph supporters as they did likewise. And lay down in the bed of the truck.

The pick-ups were packed as they followed a highway into the mountains. The two of them filled with ten people each. The rabbit and some others hoped to reach the Grand Canyon area within the next day. Wakan lay in the bed, his death grip still clasping onto the Marlin .45-70 guide rifle. The pack he wore made his back sore as he lay upon it, not caring if he crushed the partially destroyed supplies.

"Hey Hannah, you hear something?" Cloud asked from the truck, gripping the S&W 1911 that Hannah had lent him after they realized he needed a weapon. Cloud couldnít choose from Fredís stockpile since they were already in town. They had been gathering more supplies, hoping to stock up on more. Especially after they realized that this wasnít going to be a short war. They were in it for the long haul.

"Iíve been wondering what that sound is too. Sounds like a bunch of engines." Hannah replied, at that moment hearing shots ring out all of a sudden.

"Fred!" Cloud and Hannah both yelled and jumped into the truck, they had finishing up packing and were taking a break while Fred went on to try and find tools by himself from the home center.

I lay behind a small curb, dropping all the tools I had while some dumbasses shot at me with uncoordinated fire from the off ramp on the highway. The curb was half my width and I wouldíve been just as likely to get hit if I was standing up in the open.

I waited until some of the fire stopped before I gathered the courage to make a mad dash for it. I jumped up and tried to run. Only to be knocked over by somebody.

"HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KILL THE INNOCENT!?" A rabbit morph screamed at me as he lifted the butt of his rifle again and hit my head, too bad I was still conscious. He got up and repeatedly kicked me, then saw my handgun. My rifle was in the MAV, since I didnít want to carry much.

"Give it to me!" The rabbit morph pointed at my side as I looked at what he was pointing at.

"What? Give you what?" I asked, knowing he wanted my grandfatherís gun.

"That nice little gun you dumbshit!" He kicked my ribs again.

"WHAT GUN!" I roared back at him.

"THE ONE ON YOUR CHEST!" He yelled back, and kicked me in the abdomen.

"Aww hell no you little bitch," I said in between gasps.

"How dare you talk to me like that?! Youíre a filthy piece of shit that doesnít even deserve to breathe the air we do," I looked around and saw a group forming around me. All of them, furs and humans looking worse for wear pointing a gun at my head. I lay there gasping for breath, Ďwell, the devilís got me by the nut sack now,í was the only thought that came to my mind.

"I dare you to touch him again," Hannah said in a cold voice, her gun level with the members of the group that had gathered in a circle around Fred.

"Oh, hey there sexy. You coming to join us in the execution?" One of the furs spoke.

"You mean your execution honey?" Hannah called back leveling her sights at the foxís head.

There was a deathly silence as the two sides faced each other.

"Can I get up now? Iím kinda sitting on my balls weird and theyíre getting sore," I said, half hoping to ease the attitude, half saying the truth.

Wakan walked to the group. He was tired of the fighting, and he was tired of driving. He needed medical supplies, or else he would be ill soon.

"Yeah, get up. Then help me out with this wound,"

I looked up and saw a huge wolf morph I hadnít seen in the circle walk toward me. I slowly got up, relieved, and shook my legs out a little, the rabbit morph giving me a malevolent look.

"Well I guess Iíll return the favor of the help now," I passed out of the circle of furs slowly but deliberately with the giant wolf morph in tow. Hannah came up and gave me a gentle hug as the other furs looked on.

Hannah looked back and saw the fox morph that had spoken up staring at Fred. She smiled a little and gave Fred a long slow lick on the cheek making sure they saw her.

The wolf pretended not to notice, and neither did I as we walked to the truck. The other group went to the onramp and got into the two trucks parked there. They both drove off after getting situated.

"Arenít you leaving with them?" I turned, startled that they would leave a fellow warrior. The huge wolf morph looked after the trucks leaving.

"No, Iím wounded and the bunch of them are going to get themselves killed." Wakan said quietly, his voice faint.

"Alright, well, letís get a close look at that wound," I looked at the leg and took a sharp breath in. "Well I have some supplies. Let me go and get them."

The wolf sat on the tailgate of the truck, watching the human and fox-morph, a very sexy one at that, walk toward another car he hadnít noticed before.

"Hey whatís up," a voice piped up next to him making the wolf jump.

"Sorry" a smaller wolf morph said. He certainly has a weird fur color in comparison to any others he had seen thought the wolf. Thinking of his now matted timber wolf patterned fur.

I walked back with the med-kit with Hannah following me. And then paused as I looked at the wound again, I was surprised he wasnít unconscious, or dead for that matter.

"If you want I can work on myself," The wolf spoke up, looking directly at me.

"Yeah, I donít think Iím that good at working on something of that severity," I gave the wolf the medical kit. The wolf reluctantly set down his rifle he had been holding to with his right. He got to work, pulling a spray-seal out of the kit and applying it generously to his gash as we all watched. He then removed his tourniquet and winced a little, probably from being able to feel the majority of the circulation return to his swollen leg.

"If you donít mind, can we know youíre name?" I spoke up.

"Wakan," he replied as he watched the spray seal tighten and pull the gash together so it could heal faster.

"Thatís an interesting name. Well weíve got work to do so Iíll say this; youíre welcome to stay with us as long as youíd like seeing how we three are the only ones so far in this town. Also the fact that youíre pretty screwed up with the leg means you canít go anywhere far for a while." I took the kit and started to pack it up.

"Really? For how many days have you been here?" Wakan asked, thinking that all the towns in this area had evacuated. The main reason being was that the Continental Divide roughly made a border of a fur and humanist controlled U.S. So many citizens had fled the towns along this highway. Fearing that it would become a huge warzone they had fled during the night of the first revolts. The east was very loosely controlled by furs and humans, mainly because of the resulting confusion of the mass riots and the quick and effective Ďclean-upí of any Humanists. Even though strongholds of Humanists were popping up and gathering more strength day-by-day.

"I think this is our fourth day out here. Why?" I finished

"Well this is supposed to be near the border of fur and Humanist controlled America. The West Coast to the Continental Divide is Humanist. And everything east of the Divide is Fur." Wakan replied and tested out the seal by swinging his leg. Hannah and Cloud both went to gather the tools that had been dropped.

"Oh, so you probably know more about the news than we do huh?" I asked questioningly.

"I guess you could say that, seeing how you guys have been stuck here," Wakan gently got down from the tailgate and walked around, slowly adding more weight on the injured leg.

"Oh, good. You donít mind if we ask you questions about whatís been happening do you?" I began to pick up all of my things to move everything to the MAV.

"No, I shouldnít mind telling you guys the news," Wakan replied.

"Alright then," I turned toward Hannah and Cloud who were now standing around the truck. "You guys wanna go back to the cabin and call it a day?"

"Itís only noon Fred," Hannah replied, looking at the clock in the truck.

"Well we can have a lunch back at the cabin and talk to our new guest about the outside world," I replied.

"Well, letís finish this up and go then," Cloud jumped into the passenger seat of the truck after dumping the rest of the stuff into the cargo bed.

Wakan went with Fred in the MAV, taking his .45-70 with him. Hannah and Cloud drove ahead in the truck.

"Alright, so where did you come from?" was the first thing I asked Wakan as soon as we all reached the cabin.

"Denver," Wakan said, pausing for a moment. "I left this morning with most of the survivors."

"Wait. That truckload and you are the only survivors?" Hannah spoke to Wakan as she sat down on the couch in the living room after bringing what few materials we had gathered today.

"No, thereís about another two truckloads in Denver. But that only amounts to about twenty people," Wakan finished

A silence filled the room as everybody fidgeted.

"How many of you guys were there?" Cloud began

"About 8,000 of us all armed and defending Denver, until last night," Wakan was taking a detached demeanor with this.

"If you donít feel comfortable telling us this you donít need to," Hannah began to say something else but stopped.

"No, I donít really care and I probably need to get this out," Wakan shot back.

"How can you not care? About 7900 people probably died from what I hear. How do you not care?" Hannah began again.

"Because it wasnít me that died," Wakan finished with a whisper.

I got up, "Hey Wakan it looks like you need some rest, and youíre welcome to choose from any of the remaining bedrooms in this cabin," I began to walk toward one of the stairs in the cabin and went to the basement with Wakan getting up to follow.

"You donít want to leave your gun in the living room?" I asked as Wakan began to follow me with his lever-action in his tightened right hand.

"I donít feel comfortable without it within my reach," Wakan simply said.

Wakan lay down; Fred had left the room, almost immediately he fell asleep to meet his past demons.

"Dad, why is that allot of other furs are stupid and Iím not?" A little Wakan looked at his father.

The human looked down at his creation, having raised him as his own for ten years. The past two decades of his life had been spent to come up with him.

"Can you keep a secret Wakan?" The scientist remembered that Wakan had asked this question before but hadnít answered it directly. But since his days with him were numbered he had considered telling him why this was so.

"Yeah, Can you tell me please?!" The little Wakan was almost a genius when it came to mechanics since he was born. He also had a high competency for human medicine. Even at the age of ten he knew basic EMT skills. The old man reminded himself as he looked down at the morph-child at how lucky he had been thus far at having Wakan.

"Iím a scientist right?" The man patiently continued.

"Uhh, duh dad anybody can see that," The geneticist laughed at his sonís remark.

"What kind of scientist?" The man continued looking at Wakan smiling face.

"Genetic engineer?" Wakan continued. He knew he was onto something big now, and nervousness filled his body.

"Thatís right, now what have I done as a genetic engineer?" The man continued, trying not to rush this and risk confusing the little Wakan.

"You helped create my grandparents!" Wakan had always seen this man as his father; he had in turn treated him like a son.

"Thatís right. Now you ask why most of youíre peers are so stupid," The scientist continued as he patted beside him on the couch in the house. And let Wakan jump onto the couch and get situated.

"Yeah," Wakan replied

The scientist thought, why was it that we always talk as if weíre emotionless, in a detached demeanor? Why is it that it doesnít bother him that some of his peers are unintelligent?

"Well I had to make them that way," The doctor looked down, as if ashamed of himself.

"Why," Wakan stated simply. Not showing anger or frustration. Just that same detached demeanor.

"Because, the government and the people wanted beings that could follow, not lead," The man continued.

"Why am I smart then?" Wakan said.

"Arenít we being modest today?" The doctor smiled down at the little timber wolf colored wolf-morph.

"Címon dad! You did something didnít you? You made something that made me smart!" Wakan was visibly wagging his tail in excitement.

The scientist sighed and took the plunge. "Yes, I ignored the government and the people."

"Why?" Wakan asked eagerness at learning a secret flicking behind his eyes.

"Itís wrong to create a being for the sole purpose of slavery, so other geneticists and I secretly made a strand of DNA that would make some of the morphs smarter," The man was getting nervous now. He knew he was going to be separated from Wakan soon. But Wakan needed to know.

"What DNA strand dad?" Wakan asked, even though he too was nervous his thirst for knowledge of this magnitude pressed him to continue.

"When I was working with the team creating the second generation morphs I put in a strand that greatly enhanced the way your mind develops," He paused "It might have worked too well with you little Wakan. But thatís also why you have so little friends who are as smart as you, because I was stopped some time ago," The scientist smiled down and patted little Wakanís his head.

The dream began to fade as Wakan thrashed around and woke up with a start. His hand curled in a fist around the wooden stock of the .45-70 Marlin. The sound of footsteps neared his door in the basement.

"Hey, Wakan? Weíre getting news again from Britain. You wanna come and see whatís up?" Cloud walked back up the stairs as Wakan looked at the clock in the wall. Seven thirty p.m., he sighed and walked upstairs; gun still in his hand.

The HAM radio that Cloud had set up in his room had been moved to a table on the side of the living room.

"Hello, this is David Hickey with Licentia radio. Now today, as with the last week here in Europe; weíve been getting used to same news over and over again. The sad fact is that weíre at war. Now I know Iím stating the obvious. But there is hope. Eight hours ago our diplomats finished talks with political leaders in Iceland and have agreed to open its gates to Furs and Human supporters. Theyíve also begun to build up defenses. Now youíre asking why this matters? The reason is that there is more bad news that affects us all. Now Britain, Scotland, and Ireland where I speak to you now from have recently begun to prepare for an assault. Not just from remaining Humanist forces within these islands either. The satellites we were able to take control of showed images of an air force, the largest aerial combat group to be assembled since World War 2 to be gathering on secure areas within mainland Europe. We urge all those who can fight to stay on this island before even considering escaping to Iceland," The host sighed over the radio.

"Now in other news weíve also learned that the scientists that have sided with us have recently made a major breakthrough on creating a drug that disables the neural inhibitor in almost all of the less fortunate morphs! Now the recent reports tell us that it can only be used on morphs three or younger and those who meet certain requirements, which is unfortunate. But now we can finally give most beings an equal chance at life," He paused and then picked up again.

"In other news we have learned that the refugees still trapped on mainland Europe are being pushed closer to the coast near Dunkirk. Similar things are happening to the areas in the East."

I walked forwards and shut off the radio. "Well, whoís up for a late dinner and some sleep before a big day tomorrow?"

"Why did you have to shut off the radio?" Hannah asked still looking at the radio as if willing it to turn on still.

"Because I said so" I replied quietly, and walked to the kitchen.

Dinner went by quietly, the four of us sitting at a round wooden table in the kitchen overlooking the valley beyond the town. The dinner was quiet until Wakan finished and leaned back.

"You donít mind if we ask you a few more questions do you Wakan?" Hannah asked, still picking through her fettuccini. One of the gourmet foods she snagged at the supermarket.

"No," He looked over at his gun leaning on the wall behind him.

"How is this war going for the furs and our human supporters?" Hannah stopped picking and shuffling her food around on her plate.

"Not good," Wakan said.

"Why isnít that so?" Cloud now asked. He had stopped eating his food also.

"Because as slaves we never had access to the weapons that the humans had. Look at it this way, as slaves could we hold jobs that involved weapons? No, so all the humans who held jobs, or were involved with anything that you would use in this time of war now have all the state-of-the-art weapons youíd ever want. The majority of those humans are Humanists fighting against us," He sighed and coughed a little. As his body shook he winched as his sealed wound rubbed the edge of the chair.

The table went into silence again.

"Surely thereís still a majority of the humans who sided with us isnít there?" Cloud asked, now looking at me.

"Oh sure, but theyíre either killed by humanists or most will be put far behind our lines to keep them safe for the time being," Wakan now looked at the ceiling and started to scratch his muzzle.

"Why far behind the lines?" Hannah asked.

"Because theyíre usually the better educated whoíre smart enough to realize that slavery was wrong. And since theyíre well-educated theyíll have to be kept alive to teach their trade or help other furs and humans in our cause," Wakan started to rock his chair back and forth, making it creak under his large frame.

"How long do you think we have to hang on before we can start to be more than a simple worldwide rebellion?" I asked Wakan, I partially knew the answer already. But Hannah and Cloud needed to know. I already knew the Furs and Human supporters were doing badly. Even though they had Eastern U.S. Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, Japan, and territories on different continents and countries, we were still losing. Unless something drastic could be done otherwise, we would lose.

"I would say a few years. I donít know," Wakan got up and grabbed his gun. "Iím going to go to sleep, excuse me. Oh and thanks for everything. If you need help Iíll try my best to help you out."

"Wait, you know anything about circuitry Wakan?" I asked just as he started walking toward the steps to the basement.

"Somewhat, why?" He stopped and inquired, his curiosity snagged.

"Weíre going to some power stations tomorrow so we can make sure weíre set for power," I replied and motioned toward some maps that I had been teaching Hannah how to read while Cloud had messed with the handheld HAM radios he planned to give to each of us.

"Ok, I can help just donít electrocute me and make wolf flambé," Wakan turned and walked down the stairs to his new room.

The evening went slowly as we continued to poke our food wondering what would happen in the future world. At least I know I was. Hannah got up first and went to wash her and Wakanís dishes. I got up and placed my dishes next to Hannah and stood there staring out the window above the sink. Cloud moved off to his room after placing his dishes next to mine.

"Whatís going to happen to us Fusatani?" Hannah asked and stopped washing, just leaving her hands soaking in the sink. She looked up at me with her emerald eyes.

"Nothing bad that I donít allow," I stood staring at a squirrel hopping through the branches.

"How can you say that and expect me to believe you?" Hannah continued to stare at me.

"How long have we known each other Hannah?" I stopped looking at the squirrel and looked into her green eyes.

"Two, three years? I donít know" Hannah said, still looking at me.

"And in those two, three years have I ever broken a promise to you?" I asked.

"Other than saying that we wouldnít get caught when you let me drive the MAV, no," She answered with a smile.

"Well here, I promise upon my life to never let any harm come to you or anybody else within this home," I looked at her with what I hoped was a serious look.

Hannah sighed. "You could never keep that one Fred, somebody is going to get hurt sooner or later, and thatís why itís called war not a walk in the park. Plus I doubt you could stop a Kinetic Strike," Her inquisitive stare and was replaced with a somewhat somber expression as she looked back out the window.

We sat there as her words suck in. Nobody could stop a Kinetic Strike I thought. I began to consider how the Kinetic Strike would affect us all.

"What HEY! Get your hands off of me!" Hannah giggled as her wet and soaking hands scrubbed my face.

"God, you really donít know whatís going on around you, even in front of your face when youíre thinking like that huh?" Hannah kept giggling as she turned around to the dishes. I turned toward the stairs to go up and shower.

"Oh Fred!" Hannah called back as I started to walk out the kitchen.

"Whatís up Hannah?" I asked, and turned.

"I hope you didnít mind that little kiss," Hannah giggled some more as my face went red.

"Damn girlsÖ," I turned and walked out as Hannah kept giggling.

The night deepened as Cloud, Wakan, and Hannah slept. Fred laid in bed as he wrote down what had happened in his journal. The kinetic strike, driving, meeting Wakan they all went into his journal, even his talk with Hannah, everything went into the journal.

I sighed and looked at the clock. It was still 12:30 a.m. I couldnít sleep. The thoughts of the war still spun in my head as I looked toward the ceiling. Nobody could deny the fact that this was going to be a long war. And I figured it would be longer if the Furs could hang on in the first year and get enough supplies and assets. And what did the radio announcer say? Massive air force build up? God Britain was going to be in for one hell of a fight. If thatís where that force was going, there would be some serious things that the furs would have to consider in order to stop them. And those refugees going to Dunkirk, hopefully they would be able to get somewhere safe like Britain, or better. Iceland. I turned over and got up.

I walked to Hannahís room to try and talk to her about not being able to sleep. It was 4a.m. and at least that was better than waking her up at 1a.m. I stopped at her door and listened. Maybe this was a bad idea, last time I woke her up she bit my hand, making me have to get three stitches. God she could be grumpy when you shake her awake and scream ĎFIREí and stick around her long enough for her to learn itís a joke, bad idea. Not only that I remembered that tomorrow we would be doing allot of driving and walking. So she would be grumpy and tired. I turned toward the stairs and spied the cases, the two hulks still holding the 20mm rifle. At least I could try assembling that to pass the time.

The barrel weighed me down as I set that and the box-like muzzle brake down on the living room table. I screwed the muzzle brake on and locked it onto the end; at least with the brake, the escaping gases would help reduce recoil. I grabbed the action that filled my lap and opened the bolt. The barrel was too bulky to hold properly to screw in, so I set the action on the floor and pointed it upwards. Holding that in between my two feet I put the barrel on and screwed it on tightly using the special toolset that I found in the cases.

The gun was 6 feet and 8 inches when I measured it. With the scale from the bathroom the thing weighed just over 40 pounds. I slammed the huge box of a magazine in and worked the bolt. The thing was huge to say the least. I placed the gun along the wall that all the others were leaning on. It dwarfed anything else in the room. I went to the couch and lay down.

 


Chapter 9

"You think we should take the supplies and wait for him to get up?" Cloud asked Wakan and Hannah as they sat and stared at me sleeping. Well as far as they knew I was sleeping.

"Nah lets get him up now and see if he knows whatís going on first," Wakan stood up straight after leaning on the wall and made sure his gun stayed put.

"No wait, let him be. Iíll wake him up," Hannah got up as Wakan and Cloud shrugged and went to load up the truck with supplies and tools that the three had decided would work on the power stations if they encountered a problem.

"What do you think sheís going to do to him Wakan?" Cloud asked as Wakan and he began to grab bags that they scrounged up to hold the tools.

"Not my business," Wakan grunted and went out the door as Hannah looked up to see what the delay was about.

Hannah began to take my S&W .500 off of my chest. She froze as I moved my hand up, before putting it down again. She put the gun far away from me and made sure there was nothing else on me as she rolled me flat on the couch. She looked over the couch to see Wakan and Cloud outside. Her tail twitched as she walked back to get ready to run.

I looked at Hannah; I tried to keep a straight face and tried to see her out of the corner of my nearly shut eyes. She had this weird quirk of jumping on my chest to wake me up. I tried to see her better through my eyes, all I really needed to see was her general location. I watched and waited as Hannah got ready to run and jump on my chest, damn this was going to hurt if I screwed up.

"WAKE UP!" Hannah yelled as she ran and jumped. The second Hannah jumped up I rolled off the couch onto the floor as Hannah sailed over me and hit the back of the couch. The whole 10 foot long section slid back a few feet, caught traction on the floor, tipped back, and rolled over completely onto Hannah as she tried to remain balanced on the shifting couch.

The floor shook under me as the couch flipped back, I turned to see Hannah looking at me from in-between a gap in pillows and growling from under the flipped couch.

"Shoulda told you that couch is kind of top heavy," I got up and dusted myself off as Cloud and Wakan ran back in.

"What the hell?" Was all Cloud could say as Hannah slid out from under the couch near the armrest.

"Fred decided to wake up I guess," Wakan turned around and walked out.

"Your bags are already packed for today Fred, all we need to do is decide how weíre going to go to each of the power stations," Hannah dusted her front off and began working on her tail.

"Alright, why donít we discuss this outside? So we can get going as soon as possible," I walked toward the door after strapping my S&W .500 on again, and stopped.

"Iím going to take a quick shower, gimme 15 and Iíll be right out," I turned the opposite direction and walked to my room.

Hannah stood and grabbed her M1 Garand, then stopped, set it back down and walked toward Fredís room and waited right outside the bathroom door.

Ten minutes passed before the water stopped, Hannahís ears twitched unconsciously as Fred could be heard walking around inside of the bathroom. As she waited listening to his cursing as he put on a towel instead of the clothes he forgot to bring into the room.

"Fuck it all, forgot my clothes again. God there I go talking to myself," Fred walked toward the bathroom door and stepped out.

Hannah put her foot out and watched Fred walk right over her feet and tumble.

"Wha- SON OF A BITCH!" Fred thundered as he sprawled out on the floor with his towel around his knees.

I looked up just in time to see Hannah run out covering her face, probably laughing her tail off about that.

I walked out a little while later after grabbing my clothes, pack, and my shotgun this time. Instead of my rifle I decided to bring the shotgun I used in my house that fateful night. My always ready-ever faithful Remington 870.

"Ok, now weíve got 5 power stations to cover today. Theyíre all up this valley but on opposite sides, the first one being at the very bottom. Any suggestions as to how weíre going to go to these and see how theyíre working?" I looked up from the map and to each of the group.

"Why not just go all together to each one of these, at least that way weíll have more eyes to catch anything wrong before something bad happens," Wakan, hobbled towards the map. "Plus each of these power stations has a substation within a hundred feet of it. We would have to check on those, so if you still wanted to split up you could do that once we got there."

"Alright, well any objections about Wakanís plan?" I asked, everybody sat there and stared. "Well, letís get started then."

The day was warm already at ten in the morning, the sunlight peeking through the pine and aspen forest. But inside the car everything was quiet, everybody probably just thinking. But the silence was getting to me.

"So, Cloud what did you use your computer equipment for?" I asked as I looked in the rearview mirror to see him sitting behind me.

"What do you mean?" Cloud looked up from a set of HAM radios he had brought.

"Well, you had a good portion of a wall covered with computers, what did you use all that equipment for? Donít tell me it was just for gaming and stuff like that," I turned to keep my eyes on the road.

"Well, normally I wouldnít tell people this so soon, but seeing how I probably have bigger things to worry about. And since youíve guessed part of it by now, Iím a gamer, and a hacker." Cloud leaned back and sighed. "And not just the Ďminorí stuff either."

"Hacker? Thatís pretty neat, how good are you?" I looked back at him.

"I donít know, I mostly did this for a good challenge. Sometimes to get back at some people, other times just to see what I could do," Cloud said.

"Well, if you donít know can you tell me what you did that you thought was the most impressive hack?" I asked. By now Hannah and Wakan were obviously interested.

"The furthest Iíve allowed myself is the Denver Mint when it was still around. I got really bored one night and I went in and changed some settings in the building," Cloud finished with a small smile.

"What kind of settings in there?" Wakan now spoke.

"Oh, just moved the cameras around so there would be a big hole in security, change the temperature up about ten degrees, and made the sliding doors shut a little quicker just some petty stuff," Cloud smiled a little as I looked in the rear-view mirror.

"Well that doesnít sound so hard, Iím guessing it was?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, apparently you have to go through Denver town hall servers then route yourself through to the Mint, which in itself takes allot of code breaking, not to mention about a dozen firewalls in each new connection. Then after that in the Mint you have the crack the servers to be able to access the flow of money and the settings, etcetera. So yep, I just kind of put it all in a nutcase for you to understand."

Everybody sat there quietly; I personally wondered how good at hacking Cloud was.

"Hey, can you hack something in this car for us?" Wakan began to look around.

"Here" Hannah simply reached in my glove compartment and grabbed a brushed steel rod and threw it back.

"Hey! I was looking for that!" I tired to catch my phone but Wakan grabbed it before me out of the air as I swerved.

"Itís not like you can use it anymore," Hannah growled and turned back to Cloud "Just go ahead, Hack it."

"No, you might be able to use it after Iím through with it...nice phone man." Cloud looked over the phone as Wakan dropped it into his lap.

"Thanks, can you make it do something useful instead of blowing it up or something?" I looked back at my once prized possession. The little tubular stainless steel rod sat in his hands. Cloud touched the top of the roll which was about the size of a pencil cut in half. A beep shrilled out as the phone vibrated once and turned on.

"Alright, now how do I open your phone Fred?" Cloud looked up as I continued to drive towards the power station.

"Just hold the middle and keep the blue glowing line in the rod pointed away. Then wave it once. The sheet should activate then." I kept driving as Cloud complied. He flicked the pen sharply with his wrist, and immediately a silky sheen fluttered out the blue line from the pen. On the upstroke of the flick the sheen electrified and instantly became solid, making a narrow rectangle. The touch screen activated as Cloud set the phone down on his lap and began to access the programs on the device.

Fifteen minutes passed, just when I turned onto the short dirt road that led to the first of the five power stations my phone beeped five times and played a small tune.

"Ok itís done!" Cloud exclaimed and gave it to Hannah, who put it in the dashboard again.

"Letís wait until weíre done here before we mess around with that." Hannah shrugged and turned toward the window. She had hardly said anything sine we left.

We slowly approached the first station. Nobody was here. The place was deserted as we had hoped. The stations themselves were fully autonomous, but they had a small shelter off to the side of them. At least this one didnít have anybody in it.

Our Ďworkí as we called it was simply looking at the building, making sure it wasnít damaged by anything. We came prepared, but after only five days nothing was wrong. Even though this sounded simple and seemingly a short task, it stretched out with the fact that we had to walk around to the substations. The day was uneventful after that. Simply drive up, walk, and leave. Only on our way back did anything interesting happen.

"Hey, wanna stop by somewhere for lunch?" Cloud looked up from his laptop he had brought.

"Why are you hungry already?" Wakan looked up from a Ka-Bar that he had pulled from his bag that he had brought with him.

"As a matter of fact yes, whatís it to you?" Cloud shot back.

"Oh nothing, itís just that weíve barely done much work and youíre already thinking about food," Wakan put his knife back into a sheath.

"Ok, anyplace youíd like to stop in particular so we can eat whatever was packed this morning?" I looked around the canyon we were in. "There should be some of those nature picnic spots around here, try to find one and we can have a lunch."

It only took a few minutes before Wakan spotted a little picnic table next to the river running in the canyon. I tried to turn gently into the little path leading down into the picnic area, but as I looked over Hannah was still gripping on the armrests.

"Hey, Wakan you can put that gun down you know," I yelled back as I carried a bag full of whatever Hannah or Cloud had decided to pack this morning.

"Itís staying with me no matter what," Wakan grumbled as he stepped out of the MAV.

"Why is that? We arenít being shot at; we arenít in immediate danger as far as I know. Why do you need to carry your gun?" I replied.

"Why donít we eat before I tell you why?" Wakan began to hobble to the table and stopped to lean his gun on the edge of the wood bench.

I began to sit down when Cloud spoke up. "Hey Fred, arenít you going to check out your phone?"

"Oh yeah, let me grab it Iíll be right back," I hustled to the car and brought back the thin silver rod. I pinched the middle of the rod and flicked it once, bringing the rectangle fluttering out and then snapping erect. Almost immediately the whole phone began to glow and flash red.

"Ok, now the first thing you need to do is place your fingers, one by one on the screen to allow it to know you are the owner," Cloud began to instruct me as I sat down next to Hannah who looked over as I set the phone on the table. I placed my fingers all on the phone before it asked if I was the real owner. Only after I hit yes did the red go away, and a new screen lit up.

"Alright, now youíre phone already had satellite access GPS and external computer access. But now it can hack most computers with a code I put in there. And it will also detect any GPS enabled devices within a few miles if you want it to, but for now Iíve kept it at half a mile. The accuracy is also ramped up right now to within one foot. When you want to use it to detect other GPS devices, set it in ĎLandmarkí mode," Cloud leaned back slightly on his palms as he smiled smugly back at me.

"To whose computer?" I asked as I flicked the phone and let it return to its normal state.

"Well, any that you choose. Like I said, I programmed basic codec into it so you can hack most computers with a base line security system;" Cloud smiled "Is that cool or what?"

"Oh yeah, this should come into use I guess. Now time for some eating! Thanks Cloud," I reached into the bag only to find cans, dozens of them in the bag.

"Oh sorry Fred, I figured that if I packed anything expensive youíd make us run after it again," Hannah smirked from beside me as I pulled a set of spoons out and roughly ten cans from the bag.

"WellÖI guess dig in." I said as I grabbed the first can and looked at it, only to see a green beans label.

"What is this bullcrap?" Wakan said as he looked at his to find the same label.

"Oh, thatís some payback for Fred having taken my food earlier." Hannah replied smugly.

"I have to suffer because he did some stupid SHIT!?" Wakan replied. Cloud just looked down at his can and started to cry.

"Yep, pretty much," Hannah smiled. "Itís alright Cloud its only food."

"No it isnít! I was expecting to eat something really good and you just sit there and pop my bubble," Cloud looked up and smiled. "You thought I was actually crying didnít you?"

I just stared and laughed. "You had me going for a second there man! I thought that you were seriously crying over food!"

Wakan looked at the can. "I still want to eat kinda, and we donít have food...good food that is."

"Well, why not talk and rest to take our mind off of the food?" Hannah suggested and sat back. "I want to know more about why you always carry that gun around Wakan. And so does everybody else around here I bet."

Wakan shifted uncomfortably and looked at his rifle. "It gave me my freedom," he stopped and looked at his bag.

"What, thatís it? Surely thereís a story behind it?" Hannah asked as she sat up straighter and looked at the lever action.

"Yeah, just. Fine Iíll tell you," Wakan looked up. "My second owner was a doctor. A narrow minded one at that, who believed that slaves were built for being slaves, and slaves only, nothing more."

"Why did you think differently from him?" Cloud asked. "As far as I know thatís how most people look at slaves."

"Thatís because my father taught me differently," Wakan stated. "Anyways, this owner of mine wasnít the kind youíd like to meet. To keep it short he beat me a couple of times with a piece of an IV stand. One time when he caught me reading some medical text he beat me to an inch of my life," Wakan sighed. "Then came the Fourth of July, my master thought that heíd keep me in my place by beating me as usual. But when he heard of riots in other parts of the city he decided to put on a public demonstration. He started to drag me through his house and grabbed this gun. Then he said he would kill me, in front of the neighborhood on his lawn. Naturally that didnít sit well for me so I pretty much turned the tables, beat him, and took his gun and all the ammunition I could find."

A silence filled the clearing in which we sat. The stream running alongside of us was making the only sound. Rushing and bubbling in itís never ceasing its interminable journey.

"So what, thatís it?" Hannah asked. "Thatís all? Youíve got to have seen more things. What happened in Denver?"

"Hannah, I donít thinkÖ" I started to speak, but got cutoff.

"No, she should know Fred. You want to know what happened at Denver? Hereís what happened," Wakan stopped and his eyes glazed over. And he started to speak slowly. "You know what happens to all the furs that canít think for themselves?"

We sat and waited, until he answered us.

"The commander of our forces at Denver was an old software engineer. When he learned about the impending attack by well-armed forces a couple days ago, he asked all of us to gather together the slaves who were less intelligent. We found out the next morning about what was to happen after the assault. Our forces were losing, bad. Then all of a sudden a bunch of these dumb furs begin showing up in trucks. Dozens, no, at least forty flatbed trucks showed up when we began to fall back to the edge of the industrial complex in Denver. All the trucks were packed to the brim with all these dumb furs," Wakan sighed.

"The dumb furs got one gun to every twenty. Then we waited until the enemy was in one location, usually a city block. And on the order all the furs were forced by humans and smarter furs alike to charge. All the dumb furs. Of course they believed that they werenít going to get hurt. They didnít know what was going on. The Humanists didnít hesitate to fire. The rest of us flanked the Humanists while they were distracted. We won against squad after squad of Humanists. Then night fell. Over two thousand of the dumb furs died in that first day. We only won because the Humanists ran out of ammunition. But the next day was a different story. There was one company left. But unlike all the other Humanists we had charged the majority of this division was made up of actual ex-U.S. military troops. Our ex-troops themselves knew we would have a tough fight. So they brought in more dumb furs from central Denver to this one block in the industrial complex. The plan was to charge them with more furs and try to get the troops as they retreated. But they were one step ahead of us. They set up .50 caliber auto sentries where the furs were going to charge them, or where they guessed was the best place to set up the machine guns. They guessed correctly. When nine-hundred furs charged the automated sentries they immediately fired into the dumb furs. We tried to help them, our sharpshooters tied to shoot the stands. But they only got pinpointed by the guns in turn. And under the cover of fire, before we could flank the Humanists, they escaped," Wakan stopped as a single tear rolled down his muzzle.

"We tired to follow them, but their arrangements of the cannons that protected the bridge they retreated across meant that we would have to use another bridge. But as our forces tried to move across a bridge, they would blow the bride out from under our men. Buy the time we could cross the Platte River it was nightfall. And the sentry guns were still giving us hell. Then they hit us with the Kinetic Strike system," Wakan stopped and sighed, he had hardly cried. The only show of emotion we got was a single tear earlier.

We sat on that picnic bench area for a few minutes, trying to think of something to say, until Hannah broke the silence.

"Maybe we should go back home. Iím tired from the walking. And I feel like some relaxation and real food will do us some good," Hannah got up and started picking up the bags.

"Yeah no thanks to you about the food," Cloud got up and started walking toward the MAV.

"You alright now?" I asked Wakan, he simply nodded and got up. He looked at his rifle before he went to the MAV, making sure that the dust was cleaned off of the stock.

The drive back was equally as quiet, not a sound being made other than the shifting of somebody in the car, and the gentle whistle of the wind passing through the open windows.

"Well, weíre here," I said. Nobody moved. We simply sat and looked at the cabin. The enormity of the cabin was impressive, two wings and eight thousand square feet of living space.

"I think we should go into town to relax instead," Hannah spoke up. Nobody argued or said anything as I simply got out of the MAV and got into the truck to save diesel fuel. Everybody followed me into the truck and got situated as I turned toward the town.

"Iím going to the electronics store," Cloud blurted out as we entered the town. It was still only two oí clock. As I looked at the HUD on the trucks windshield Hannah decided where she would go.

"Fred, Iím running to theÖ" Hannah got cutoff as I guessed for her.

"The fancy end of town?" I asked, trying to keep my face straight.

"Yeah, I guess so. Wakan what are you going to do?" Hannah asked, turning in the front seat to face him.

"I donít know, Iíll probably just walk around on this gimp leg," He looked out the window somberly.

"Why donít you hook up with Cloud, since he doesnít have a gun you can protect him. And he can help you get around on that leg, you alright with that Cloud?" I looked at him as he sat there.

"Yeah, I can do that," Now what about you Fred?" Cloud looked back from looking at Wakan.

"Iíll go with Hannah to keep her protected," I looked at her.

"I donít need to be protected Fred," Hannah smiled back. "Iím not some defenseless slave anymore," At that she jumped out of the truck where I stopped it. The same place as three days ago when we hauled Cloudís computer.

"Smooth move Mr. Date Doctor," Cloud smirked as he and Wakan got out, albeit a little slower.

"Iím not interested inÖarghhh," I groaned in frustration.

I grabbed my pump-action shotgun that I had chosen this morning, checked the chamber to make sure it was loaded, and started walking.

"HEY! KEEP YOUR GUYíS RADIOS ON!" I yelled at the retreating figures as they walked on. This morning Cloud had given a handheld HAM radio to each of us right after we left. I got out and threw the keys under a rock nearby. Obvious but hidden I hoped.

I walked around with my shotgun in a cradle carry in my arms. Looking like I was holding a baby. The shells in my pockets shuffled around.

The sun beamed down on the quiet European styled town. At this altitude the sun was harsh. But the air was clean and fresh. Snow covered some of the peaks around them at the terminal start and end of the valley, visible just beyond the curve of the lush pine and aspen forests. When the town was populated I would not normally be able to hear the water rushing down the nearby river. But with the town so quiet I could hear the river. The birds in the distance, the wind whistling in the alleys, all adding to the natural music. But it wasnít eerie. Not now. Not like our hell that we witnessed four days ago. When we first woke up and went to town.

Fred sat down on the curb in front of a ski supply store and softly cried, his shotgun now forgotten on the concrete beside him. In the opposite direction from the truck Wakan and Cloud sat down on what once used to be a window in a shop front, they cleared off the glass and slowly sat. First Cloud started, and eventually Wakan began to weep also. They sat there and embraced each other.

Hannah walked, she wouldnít stop. Even though she cried she kept walking, her M1 Garandís strap slipping every so often from her sagged shoulders. She eventually stopped at a depot. Only to look up and realize this was a slave depot. A large prison like structure used to trade and sell slaves. This was smaller than the one she first stayed at as a pup. Only five years old and all alone in the Denver sector Depot five, one of the most notorious of the slave depots in the west. They had specialized in "breaking" slaves, or making the few smart ones "dumber" and "more submissive" by beating, drugging, and/or solitarily confining them. Hannah stood there and shook at her memories. She was lucky to have been sold off so early. She slowly turned and walked the other direction before she stopped after a couple of blocks and sat on a little bench within a park square. She sat there and stared ahead. Tears ran freely but no sound came. Her rifle lay on the grass.

The whole group, separated, still acted similarly to the others. All of them eighteen, all of them having seen atrocities that soldiers in combat would, except these were untrained civilians. Kids, thrown into a state of war. They may have been different in every way, one coming from an extremely wealthy family who upheld the highest beliefs in honor and equality. Another being a slave to a man who treated them humanely. The huge wolf came from the opposite of the human, from a master who was a doctor that beat his slaves regularly. And finally the fox that underwent regular beatings, while less harsh than the wolf. She was assaulted everyday verbally from her owners. And stonewalled from her fellow slaves. While different in all these ways they still held stronger bonds than a married couple. Maybe out of necessity or of fate they already knew each other better than they knew themselves, even if they didnít know it yet.

I looked up at the sky. The sun wheeled above my tired face in the northern hemisphere. I looked back at the rays that burned my tired face. The careless rays also looked down on the blood-soaked earth as I kept looking at the heavens. Then the specks stood out like black spots in a white room. The rods looked back, solid, indiscriminate, and emotionless. All of them hanging above like the sword of Damocles on a thin filament, waiting patiently to be released at the whim of a twisted mind. Any twisted mind that was willing to use it unmercifully against their enemy. I looked at them, so defenseless by themselves, yet able to wreak terrible havoc on anybody who got in its way. I looked closer; yes there was a crack in the weapons armor. I held the power, I had to change the fate of history and this blood soaked earth I lay upon. History could not be afforded to repeat itself. Even in the face of tyranny I got up from the blood soaked earth and stood. If my life could make the difference for others I would willingly sacrifice it. For the huddled masses, the tired yearning to breathe free, for those that stood behind me I would prevail in the face of tyranny.

"FredÖHey, Fred, Ďwait what was his full first name again? ...oh, ok,í FOOSATANEEE!!!" The radio clicked and rang again in my ear.

"AH, god. Fred here, whatís with yelling in my ear?"ÖI groaned as I looked around to see if any blood was on the ground.

"Well, if you had picked up about thirty minutes ago we wouldnít have had to yell," Cloud said as somebody in the background yelled some more. "Oh, and Wakan says to bring the truck."

"What? Wait where are you guys! Shit," I looked down as my radio died. I had been sitting on the call button forÖ"SHIT!!!" It was already seven oí clock. The sky was darkening as I got up and grabbed my warm shotgun, the stock and metal having been heated up by the concrete.

I looked around, hopelessly lost. I walked for five minutes, and realized that I was only getting further from where I probably shouldíve been. Then my phone began to ring.

"Now who the hell is calling me?" I wondered aloud as I flicked it open and stared at the screen. ĎThe HAM radios and my laptop have GPS. Use your phone dumbass,í I looked at Clouds text and deselected it. I went into the GPS function and set it on ĎLandmarkí mode and held the screen up as the screen turned clear. Three blue dots appeared on the screen as I turned toward where I had been. Just further across town, near the highway, sixteen blocks away as the rangefinder said with a cross-reference of an aerial view in the top right corner of the screen. I turned and looked around some more, more red dots popping up, hundreds of them. The blue dots moved to the corner of the screen as I turned away from them and looked around more. Then a massive blue rectangle with wheels showed up on screen. The truck, I flicked the phone shut and walked to where I last saw it on the screen, four blocks away.

"Where do you think he is?" Asked Hannah as she looked down through the room to the first floor from her position on the second floor. Wakan and Cloud looked up from the barrel they rolled up from the basement an hour ago. The store was dark, the only light coming from a lamp on the counter.

"Just keep looking out for him. I want this to be a surprise," Wakan gasped as he tried to regain his breath from rolling up four eighty gallon wooden drums from the basement of the shop.

"What was that?" Cloud gasped from the other side of the drums as he sat against them.

"What was what?" Wakan asked

"What are you guys talking about? Hannah asked from the top railing again.

"Boo!" Hannah jumped and turned. Before I could duck I got hit with the butt of the M1 Garand in the stomach.

"What is it with you and freaking me out Fred!" Hannah almost screamed.

"Aw, dude. That looked like it hurt." Cloud looked up as Wakan peeked over one of the barrels.

"Yeah, no shit," I groaned.

"You need help getting up?" Hannah asked and bent over Fred.

"No, just let me find a bathroom to urinate all my blood," I got up and grabbed my shotgun from the second set of stairs and walked down to the first floor. Hannah followed down the first set of stairs and walked over to the barrels.

"Now that Fredís here do you mind telling me what those barrels have in them?" Hannah asked as she looked at Cloud.

"Wakan, you wanna explain our greatest find in the history of war?" Cloud stayed put as Wakan slowly got up, still wheezing.

"Ok, guess what we have in these four eighty gallon barrels," Wakan wheezed and coughed.

"Alcohol?" I asked. I did find them in a liquor shop after all.

"Yeah, what kind," Asked Wakan.

"I donít know. Just tell us," I replied.

"Ok, I have here three hundred and twenty gallons of Jack Daniels ninety proof whiskey, circa 1992," Wakan smiled and coughed again.

"WhatÖyouíre joking right?" Asked Hannah, after a slightly prolonged silence.

"Nope, here. It says on the Barrel," Wakan walked over to the side and pointed out the label.

"Well, Iím guessing from the basement door being ripped off the hinges and the multiple dents and scratches on the stairs and floor mean you want to take these home?" I asked with a smile.

"Yeah, if we can lift these into the truck, theyíre about six hundred or seven hundred pounds apiece," Wakan shrugged and coughed again.

"Wait, how did you get these up the stairs?" Hannah asked.

"Well, lucky for us the stairs are extremely shallow and well built. The stairs are probably about two inches of rise and a foot of travel apiece. They cover like three walls in the basement. But otherwise it was a matter of pushing, and wedging a piece of steel pipe we found in-between the railings to keep it from rolling back when we decided to take a break," Wakan coughed again and panted a little.

"And now this," I commented.

"Yeah, this," Wheezed Cloud.

"Now, how do you expect to put this on the truck?" Hannah asked.

"All of us lift it?" Wakan shot back.

"Ok, let me think, seven hundred pounds from ground level divided by four with a shifting weight. Thatís a hundred and seventy pounds per person. Thatíll be really easy now wonít it Wakan?" Hannah shot back.

"Ummm, do you think thereís a forklift we can get, because I just spent four hours with Cloud pushing these up fifty four steps," Wakan wheezed a little, but his cough was gone for now.

"You actually counted the steps?" Hannah asked

"Yeah, itís really easy if each step is an agonizing hell weighing you down and thereís only one thought on your mind. How many more times will I have to shove this up the damn steps?" Wakan stopped and gasped some.

"Wasnít there an elevator or a ramp down there?" Hannah asked.

"Well yeah, just a huge door that I guess goes outside to a ramp. But it had a massive lock on it, and we didnít feel like shooting it and getting hit with a ricochet. Not to mention I didnít want our babies to get a hole in them," Wakan smiled a little.

"Well, Iím going to go find a lift in the alleyways behind the shops. Wakan, Cloud, and Hannah, can you push those to the back where I stopped the truck?" I walked out of the room wincing a little.

"Wait, I donít want these at our house," Hannah yelled back at me.

"Why not?" Wakan asked.

"Because alcohol only causes problems," Hannah shot back.

"Ok fine, letís vote if alcohol in four, seven hundred pound barrel causes problems," Cloud looked back. "Hands up for whoever wants this," Cloud raised his hand immediately, at the same time as Wakan and I did. "Well, lets get busy," Cloud coughed a little.

I heard somebody running after me as I turned into the alley. "Hannah! What are you doing?"

"I could ask the same of you!" Hannah hissed through her teeth as I walked to a lift in a charging dock.

"Planning on having my first taste of alcohol is what Iím doing," I responded.

"Why? Itís not like youíre going to be tougher by drinking, Fred," Hannah said a little softer.

"Why not? Iíve never had it. Sounds good, I wanna try it," I turned and hopped into the lift. Lucky me, it was unsecured and I didnít need to log into the system.

The truck sagged as the last of the barrels was placed in the bed. I turned the jack around and placed it into the Ďhomeí mode. It turned as I jumped out and went to itís dock around the corner by itself. The lift was deceptively simple to operate, I had used one at the last place I had worked before school became too much of a hassle for me to fit work and study into my schedule.

"You think we can make it back and try some of this?" Wakan asked as we hopped in the now visibly lower truck.

"Letís hold off until tomorrow, I canít think of anything urgent to do tomorrow, so we have a whole day of rest before we try some," I finished and no argument was raised. I slowly eased the car onto the road. The darkness swallowed us as we drove slowly toward the cabin. The truck groaned all the way back to the cabin, threatening to break under the 2800 pounds of weight. We drove so slowly that by the time we reached the cabin I had to wake up Cloud and Hannah with Wakanís help. We left the whiskey for tomorrow. Plus the temperature outside wouldnít be detriment to it during this kind of weather. We all went inside and into our respective rooms. The night continued.

 


Chapter 10

"What are you doing up so early Hannah?" I asked as I walked into the study. Nobody was there as I looked around.

"Security, put me on lockdown in the east wing. Give me a status on everybody here. I donít need any more surprises," I looked around the study, four shelves of books and a large desk to hide in. A monitor on the wall said that Hannah was still in the room. I stayed at the door, listening. A little scratch from the door made me spin.

"Youíre so naïve arenít you?" Hannah asked as she walked out from behind the door that I had opened. "Security, standoff," She said as she came up.

"You got any plans for today?" Hannah asked as I walked back out into the hall.

"Nope, just sit and relax," I said as I walked into the kitchen. "This reminds me Cloud also needs a gun. You wanna wake him up?" I asked Hannah as I sat on a bar stool next to the island counter.

"Sure, security. Wake up Cloud in room...wait whatís the room number Fred?" Hannah said. The rooms in a house this large were easy to confuse with each other.

"Ummm, try five," I replied, hoping that was the right number.

"Security, alarm, room five," Hannah chuckled as she said that. A monitor in the refrigerator with a blueprint of the house started flickering. Then a room in the basement flicked red.

"Uh, Hannah? Isnít Cloud on the first floor, and Wakan in the basement?" I asked, a little nervous.

"I think soÖ" Hannah replied and looked at the screen and started to laugh. Just then a shrill screech could be heard, then yelling soon followed.

"Alright, whatís the big deal with this house?" An aggravated Wakan walked slowly up from the basement carrying his rifle. Cloud came out of his room still looking like he was asleep.

"Sorry, we tried to wake up Cloud but got a different room with the alarm system," Hannah giggled as Wakan glared at both of us.

"That was the wake up call? And you were going to use it on me?" Cloud asked, a little drowsiness entering his voice.

"Yep, figured Iíd tell you that today weíre going to relax, and you get to choose your gun!" I replied and jumped up. Walking to the wall I looked at the guns and motioned a now-awake Cloud over.

"Which one you want?" I asked and motioned over the dozens of guns lying about, and a single bulky gun case.

"Wait, youíre just going to give me any one of these guns?" Cloud asked, slightly exasperated.

"Well, I have to teach you how to use it first, but yep," I replied. I looked at Hannah and Wakan staring at Cloud, waiting for him to make his decision.

Cloud walked from one gun to another, looking at each.

"You can hold them you know," I said, making Cloud jump slightly.

"Umm, whatís in the box? Cloud asked after standing and staring at all the guns for a while.

"Oh," I looked at the gun case. "The last gun my dad bought from someÖfriends he knew," I walked over. "I donít think youíd want to handle it," I placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Can I see it if you donít mind? I mean Iím not trying to intrude, but Iím curious," Cloud asked, nervousness again filling the room. Hannah hadnít even seen this gun. Not even my mom knew we had it, when she was around.

"Alright, you can use it, just be warned it might be much for a new shooter for you," I sighed and picked up the boxy gun case, then slowly walked over to the coffee table and set it down.

"What kind of rifle would you want if you could make one?" I asked and turned toward Cloud.

"What do you mean; donít you just have one gun in there?" Cloud asked his curiosity peaked, as with everybody elseís.

"I have the parts for one gun in here; now what kind of weapon do you want?" I asked again, avoiding everybodyís faces.

"Umm, alright. What about something long range and able to take out allot," He replied as I cracked the case open a little.

"Well, letís start with the action," I pulled a pistol grip out with a trigger mechanism attached. Then a stock, with adjustable points for cheek and shoulder size, I clipped them both together with a loud snap. The stock connected at one point with the trigger mechanism.

"Now for the receiver," I grabbed a black receiver from the box, and slid that on top of the trigger mechanism. The hinge on the front pivoting down to clip into the stock.

"You wanted a long range rifle Cloud?" I asked, only to get a nod in response. I grabbed a long black and silver eighteen inch barrel from the box, and clipped it into the receiver. The 7.62 x 39mm chambered barrel weighing the gun down a bit more.

"And now for the final touches," I grabbed a fore stock and clicked it into place, then a magazine from the box. The magazine clicked as I slammed it into the receiver. Then a resounding CLACK went through the room as I cocked the weapon and handed it to Cloud. The whole set-up taking less than two minutes to complete, the Bushmaster ACR sat in his arms, black and foreboding.

"You think you can handle it?" I asked as a nervous Cloud looked at the black rifle, studying the selector.

"Yeah, I hope so," He whispered. "Thank you."

"No problem, just donít shoot me when that thing goes full-auto," I chuckled.

"Wait, I though full-auto weapons were illegal," Hannah asked.

"No, just hard to get" I replied.

"Well, I guess I should put this in my room," Cloud spoke as Wakan and Hannah stared at his new rifle.

"Wait, thatís your first gun man, arenít you going to try and remember this moment?" I laughed at the end of that.

"What are you getting at?" Hannah asked before Cloud could reply.

"What Iím saying is, with this dreary mood going through the air I wanted to take a break today to cheer us all up. Wanna take a group picture?" I shot back with a slight smile. Everybody stopped and stared. Not that they were moving much in the first place.

"Well, let me get some clothes on and Iíll go out and meet you guys. Oh are we taking a picture with our guns?" Cloud asked as he started to walk to his room slowly.

"Why not one with and one without?" I replied and got up to go to my room.

"I thought you said before that you hated pictures." Hannah commented.

"I didnít say I hated them, just, some people think that way because Iím not smiling at all in them, which is half true," I answered.

"Yeah, I know that, but do you expect me to be in it also?" Hannah asked.

"Whatís a group picture without the group?" I turned and went up to my room to grab some better clothes other than the sweat pants and t-shirt.

"Alright, whoís taking the picture then, and with what?" Cloud asked as I walked out the house. The air was still a little chilly, even in the middle of the summer the mountains made for some cool days. I stood on the deck as everybody milled around on the stairs.

"Wait, we donít have a camera?" Hannah asked.

"Sure we do," I pulled the phone out of my pocket and flicked it open. "We just have to figure out where to put this."

"Umm yeah, unless we have a clamp or tape, we donít have anywhere to put that to take pictures," Cloud looked at me as he said that, looking slightly somber.

Photo of Hannah, Fusatani, Wakan and Cloud

"Well," I looked at a vertical wooden beam next to me on the deck. "Howís this!" I took the thick end of the phone and pointed the thin end toward a crack in the wood. The phone made an audible *thunk* as the thin glass-like end went into the crack and jammed itself into the wood. I cautiously let go and watched the phone stay. "Alright, I think we have what we need; now all we have to do is get the photo."

"So what are we going to do now?" Asked Cloud as the phone beeped from its niche as the photo was taken.

"I donít know, relax?" I replied, then Wakan jumped up.

"Crap! We forgot all about the Jack Daniels!" Wakan ran for the truck across the driveway as Hannah shook her head and began to walk into the house.

"How do you guys plan on taking all that out in the first place?" Hannah asked with a backwards glance and kept walking, offering no help as Cloud and I set our guns down.

I walked over to the truck and looked at the bed, the Jack Daniels still sitting there. "Why donít we roll the truck back to the deck and try to push it into the house?" Cloud said as we sat and stared at the barrels.

"Iíll grab the keys," I ran inside as Cloud and Wakan got in the bed of the truck, getting ready to move the barrels.

"Alright, just go nice and slow to where the steps to the porch are, the tailgate should go down low enough to let us roll it onto the deck," Wakan said as I slowly backed the truck to the entrance of the house as Hannah sat in the living room and watched.

"Stop!" Alright, now letís roll these into the house," Wakan and Cloud pushed one of the barrels to the edge of the bed of the truck, using the barrels remaining in the truck for leverage. Soon all three barrels found their way into the living room, then down the hallway to a small wine room, only two of the barrels fit.

"Well, looks like weíre going to have to throw one of these barrels out huh?" Hannah said as she saw the three of us staring at the wine room, trying to figure out if there was a way to get the remaining barrel into the room. If we let it sit out too long the temperature would affect the taste of the whiskey, or so we believed.

"What other options do we have?" Cloud asked as he looked at the remaining barrel.

"Well, we could dump it, burn it, or we could drink it," I said, a small smile creeping over my face as I mentioned the last option.

"What? Why not just dump it?" Hannah exclaimed as Cloud and Wakan grinned.

"Why not have fun on our off-day?" Wakan shot back.

"Because youíre just going to make some trouble," Hannah said, her tail drooping, the first sign that she saw she was going to lose an argument.

"Alright, weíll work for our drinks. We can do other things until six or so, then we can do beer-pongÖwell whiskey pong would be a better term, or something along those lines," I said, Hannah looking more and more troubled.

"Fine, suit yourself! Iím going to the study again," Hannah spun and began walking away, her tail swinging with her as she rounded a corner of the hallway.

"Well great, now what are we supposed to do? Sit around and read or something?" Wakan asked as I turned around and went to put my guns away.

"I donít know, why donít you figure something out? Itís not that hard to find something to do around here," I walked as Wakan and Cloud shrugged and followed me. Cleaning up the guns was an easy enough task, but with Wakan and Cloud following, it became pretty awkward.

"Umm, you guys seriously canít find anything to do?" I asked and spun around to face them.

"Nope, not really," Cloud replied.

I stood for a moment looking at both of them. Then spun and sprinted down one hallway and swung myself around a banister.

"Hey! Get him!" Wakan yelled as Cloud began running the second I started.

I ran down the second floor hallway and them hefted myself over a short railing and dropped down to a landing on a second set of stairs. Cloud ran down the hallway just as I dropped down the last of the stairs and ran toward any room. The study door stood open as I sprinted toward it at the end of the hallway, Cloud and Wakan already running down the hallway trying to catch up.

"Fred wh.." Hannah appeared at the door, my body collided with her as she froze.

"SECURITY! CLOSE AND LOCK DOOR TO THE STUDY!" I yelled as Cloud got closer, at those words he sprinted to the room. The magnetic joints on the door slammed the door into his face as he dove for the room. The door stopped and groaned as it kept on pushing on Cloud as he lay on the floor. His muzzle jammed in-between the frame and the door. Wakan showed up and looked into the room at me then Cloud.

"Wow that was some insane tag. Wanna try it again?" He laughed as Cloud groaned. Hannah moaned as she looked up at my face.

"What is your problem Fusatani?" Hannah asked as I lay there, trying to catch my breath.

"Trying to get away from some man-eating wolves that thought I was a pack-leader or something," I laughed as I said that, then rested my head on Hannahís belly as she lay.

"No we were just trying to get some entertainment outta this boring day. And he just had to freak out and run all of a sudden," Cloud said as he looked up from the floor. The door slowly opened once the sensors realized it wasnít moving.

"Well, I donít like it when somebody just starts following me for no reason," I replied as I rolled off of Hannah who lay there.

"There was a reason, we were bored," Wakan grinned as he helped Cloud up.

"Well," Cloud dusted himself off. "I guess weíll go find something else to do. You two have fun," Cloud snickered then groaned again and felt his head.

"You know what Fred?" Hannah asked as she lay on the carpet and stared at the ceiling. As I lay next to her I looked at the ceiling, then back to her.

"Whats up? You arenít hurt too bad are you?" I asked as she looked back with her emerald eyes.

"No, of course not, but I just recalled that Iím going into my heat sometime tomorrow," Hannah sighed. "I think you might want to find some of those tablets or pills or whatever, because I think Iím going to need them."

"You think huh? Well, Iíll go into town then and try to find some of those, anything else?" I asked as I propped myself on one elbow, then paused for a moment. "This is going to be a bad one isnít it? Thatís why you were awake so early, looking for some pills. You do realize how hard itís going to be to find the ones you need, donít you?"

"Yes, but can you at least try to find some? You should know how bad the heats get," Hannah sighed and looked over. "There should be some at that depot I saw yesterday."

"You sure you want me to get some from there?" I asked, not sure if theyíd have some of the heat control pills. The ones that Hannah usually had to take had to be ordered from insurance since many people didnít want to tone down the heats of their slaves. For torture or sex, either way the ones Hannah needed were hard to get. And during our run from home we didnít pack any.

"At least try please. You know whatíll happen if I donít get those pills," Hannah looked over me and laughed. "Not that I would mind trying you out."

"Umm yeah, Iíll go get those pills." I pushed against the floor, only to have Hannah stop me.

"If you canít get those pills, can you help me?" Hannah asked. This time all the humor was gone from her voice.

"I donít think so, you know how I feel about that," I replied, hoping that I said it without hurting Hannahís feelings.

"Alright, have fun finding those pills," Hannah sighed and got up, her hair sweeping across the floor before lifting up after her head.

"Be safe!" Hannah called down the hall as I walked toward the living room.

"It would be better if somebody came along and helped me find which ones I needed!" I called back, hoping that she would hear me.

"Itís my day of relaxation, and my way of keeping you outta the liquor!" Hannah replied from the study again.

"What about the booze? Can we drink?" Wakan called as I walked past Clouds room where they were both talking.

"No, Hannah just wants us to go grab her some stuff. Youíre welcome to come if youíd like. But none of that funny stuff," I replied as I walked back up to my room to grab my guns. Wakan and Cloud both went to the front door to wait.

"So, what do we have to get for Hannah?" Cloud asked as we all got up into the MAV, Wakan deciding to take the front seat as Cloud clambered into the back.

"Just some pills, look for something marked Estus-Absens. Thatís what she needs, but donít be surprised if you donít find any," I replied as the high-pitched whine of the electric motors filled the drive as the MAVís systems turned on.

"Isnít that for heats or something?" Wakan asked as the MAV rolled back silently now to the road.

"Yeah, you know medical terminology now or something?" I asked; a little aggravated that I couldnít keep Hannahís secret to myself.

"I read a few books," Wakan replied and trailed off.

"Alright, well donít tell Hannah that I told you guys. Otherwise you have any place in particular you wanna search?" I turned the MAV through the winding canyon, slowly getting glimpses of the town now through the pine trees, the warm summer day heating up the black MAV slowly. Like a beating heart the MAV thrummed under us. Built during the recession before the furs the car was a hulking relic. It never served the purpose it was mass-produced for. Not with this one at least. To make some extra money off the car the industry that produced it stripped the car down to basic systems, and sold it to civilians. Fifteen years ago my uncle bought it, only to realize he needed the money he had spent. So he gave it to my father who paid him the money he needed. Then the car, missing all the doors, windows, seatsÖonly a metal bench for the driver and a huge bundle of engines, was written to my name. I slowly built it up from when I could first open the hood.

The trees in alongside the road flickered over my eyes, making me recall my memories with ease as the car rolled down the road. The first day when I turned the ignition with my dad I cried, I was eight and we were in our house in Wyoming. I turned the key as my father held the brake. The engine sputtered and made me jump. Then a HUGE roar filled the front yard. Windows vibrated in their frames and a car alarm for our neighbors went off from the first cylinder firing off. The I-6 CAT engine sputtered flames from the open manifold, the industry, in their haste to make the extra dollar had removed the muffler for the precious metals. I ran inside crying as my father laughed and shut the car down. Years later I would dump all my money into making the car look like the original, albeit a few upgrades.

"Hey Fred, wanna try that depot over there? Should have some pills for her," Cloud pointed past my face as we began rolling downhill over the town, he had pointed to the slave depot in the corner of town.

"You really wanna go in there?" I asked.

"Well, not really, but we could find those pills there allot easier. I mean I donít want to go through every-single-house in this valley to look for some pills. I mean we could, but how common are these?" Cloud asked as he looked out over the center console.

"Not common, the pills had to be ordered from insurance companies," I replied as I headed off to the depot area. Almost no cars lined the streets, only the black spots under street lamps and the occasional open door swinging on loose hinges.

The MAV quietly rolled to a stop in front of the Slave Depot, nearly the whole drive here the MAV only used the batteries and the electric motors. We walked up the concrete steps. The MAV parked on the sidewalk. Nobody was here; I could park wherever I wanted. Wakan and Cloud followed as we cam to the entrance and stopped, the doors were gone and the glass windows were broken. Blood caked parts of the floor. Trailing from a grey concrete hallway was a thick strip of smeared blood. The center of the two-story atrium had pools of blood on the floor, as we looked up we saw a half dozen furs hanging from the steel beams in the modern atrium. A human body laid in the corner the body starting to bloat, his skin white under the fluorescent lights in the darker recesses of the building.

Cloud stopped and stood stock-still in the entrance as Wakan and I walked towards the area that said "Infirmary". I looked straight ahead as we passed under the silent bodies. Wakan had pulled his gun from his shoulder and now walked with it in both hands. I turned as we reached the hallway to the infirmary, the M24 pointed slightly down in my hands.

"Cloud! Are you gonna come with us or do you wanna watch the front?" I yelled, Cloud jumped at my voice and looked from the dead human to me. He stood still for a moment before jogging toward me, his fur shattering the light as he walked through sunlight and fluorescence.

The three of us slowly walked down the blood-stained halls to the Infirmary. Bloody handprints and clumps of fur spotted the hallways as Wakan and Cloud followed. The lights slowly flickered, the whole scene looking like a horror B-movie. If only it was, I could feel my heart hammering in my chest as we neared the door of the Infirmary. I drew up the S&W .500 and slung the rifle on my shoulder.

"Cloud, you go in first," I said as I stepped off to the side. Wakan pointed his rifle at the door as he stood in front of it.

"Why do I have to go in first?" Cloud asked, a high-pitched whine coming from the back of his throat as he wheezed the words. Both Wakan and Cloud had their tails drooping, the fur flattened against their body.

"Because you have the best close-range rifle here," I replied as I cocked the S&W, two clicks coming from the double-action hammer.

"You have the pistol, you go first," Cloud said as he looked at me from the other side of the door.

"Fine, Wakan kick the door. Iíll go in, then you then Cloud. Go to the opposite corners of the room and keep your eyes and ears open," Just as I finished Wakanís foot snapped forward and the door flew open. I paused for what felt like an eternal moment before running in, looking about the room as I ran to the first corner and spun to look about. As Cloud ran in after Wakan I took in the room about me. Blood covered a check-up table, the stainless steel brown. Wakan looked back about the room, his pupils filling his eyes as he swiveled. Cloud had his rifle raised, but he was inexperienced with the gun, his stance rigid and his elbow up too far.

"Hey, start looking around the cabinets. Find anything marked Estus-Absens. Thatís what weíre looking for," I got up from my crouch and let my gun rest on its sling around my neck. Wakan had already begun to shuffle around the taller shelves as Cloud knelt and worked on the lower shelves, his gun resting on a counter-top.

The minutes slowly ticked by as we shuffled through the racks of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that the Infirmary held for the towns slaves. After an hour and a half of searching I had almost met Wakan and Cloud at the back middle of the room when Cloud yelled.

"I FOUND IT! I finally found it!" Cloud came up with a bottle from under the counter.

"Are you sure itís the right one?" Wakan asked as he warily eyed the bottle.

"Yeah! It says Estus-Abbawhatever, now can we get out of this place?" Cloud said as he looked around and walked over to his rifle. Wakan and I shrugged. We werenít fans of staying here either.

All of use walked quickly into the sunlight, Cloud had the bottle in his pocket as we passed the silent sentinels. All of us got into the MAV, strapping ourselves in as I started the car and turned toward the house. The sun was at high-noon as we set off quickly and quietly.

"Did you guys have a nice trip?" Hannah asked from the hallway as we entered the main great-room. She peeked around the corner at us and her smile disappeared.

"You didnít really have to go to that depot you know," Hannah whispered as I walked to the hallway and passed Hannah, dropping the bottle in her hand as I went by.

Wakan and Cloud sat next to the lone Jack Daniels barrel in the kitchen as Hannah followed me as I went to my room.

"What happened there?" Hannah asked once I got to my own room. I slowly set the rifle down, leaning on the night-stand. The S&W .500 went onto of the nightstand on the opposite side of the bed.

"Dead people, thatís what happened," I said, probably a little bluntly. Hannah just said "Oh," and left while I started to cycle the rounds in the M24. Making sure each one was seated properly. Only after that did I get up off the bed and walked to the kitchen. It was already four in the afternoon.

"What the hell are you guys doing?!" I hissed as I walked down the stairs to see Wakan sipping on a shot of Jack Daniels as Cloud dunked a glass into the top of the opened barrel.

"Drinking," Wakan replied, still looking into his glass.

"How many have you guys had?" I asked as I looked down an adjacent hallway to see the library doors closed.

"This is my first one, Cloud is getting ready for his first," Wakan said.

"Does Hannah know?" I asked as I looked to see an extra glass sitting on the counter-top.

"No," Wakan replied. "Try some, itís alright," He finished with a grin and took another slow sip.

I looked at the barrel full of the light brown liquid. It smelled too strongly, like a perfume aisle in a store. Except instead of fruity essences, it seemed like an old oak forest had decayed and fermented. But instead of a musky odor it was fresh, the kind that cleared your senses, and deep.

"Watchya waiting for? You gonna sit there ní stare at it?" Wakan asked.

"No, itís just my first full drink so Iím trying to remember it," I said as I picked up a glass on the counter.

"Betcha canít down the whole thing," Cloud said as he watched with his glass, still full in his hand.

"Betcha I wanna savor the damn drink," I shot back as I slowly dipped the rim into the liquor.

"Youíll have time to savor it later. Wait, I bet you that I can handle my first drink better than you," Cloud said as he sat across from Wakan.

"I donít wanna bet. I just wanna drink," I said again, this time a little quieter as I lifted the glass, making sure no drops fell on the wood floor.

"Youíre just a pussy, címon lets try it," Cloud said as he swirled his glass a little.

"FINE! When do we do it," I asked

"Whenever Wakan says to. You ready?" Cloud smiled. Wakan looked at the two of us as we held our glasses and looked back, waiting for his call.

"NOW! Wakan yelled as Cloud tipped his glass and swallowed the whole thing. I sat back against the counter and watched him glare at me; his eyes grew wide as he coughed into the glass.

"IT TASTES LIKE BURNING!" Cloud yelled as he gagged slightly and coughed some more. Wakan howled in laughter as I chuckled. I tipped my own glass back a little, slowly drinking, then stopped. The taste was clear as the brown liquid melted down the back of my throat. I grinned at Cloud.

"Hey, this isnít halfÖ" Then stopped. Hannah stared at us from the hallway. He ears slightly back, glaring at the three of us.

"It was Wakan," Cloud pointed at Wakan. Hannah blew a raspberry and turned, slowly walking down the hallway and climbing up one of the flights of stairs. Only after she was gone did Wakan speak.

"Youíre an asshole," Wakan said to Cloud as he leaned back in the chair, supporting himself with his foot-paws on the table.

"Hey, I need a scapegoat," Cloud replied, and sat down. Slowly looking about the kitchen and the piles of food. "Shouldnít we eat and drink something with this? That way we wonít get as drunk quicker.

"Sure, what do you wanna eat?" I asked, looking at anything within arms reach.

"I think bread or something would work," Cloud replied. I reached over and grabbed a whole loaf of French bread that had been lying next to me and threw it over to Cloud. I grabbed some other food and walked over to the table and sat. All of us staring ahead, none of us speaking, only the creaking coming from under Wakanís chair as he rocked the chair back and forth on two legs.

"Have you ever eaten too fast that youíve gotten the hiccups afterwards?" I asked, trying to break the silence.

"Yeah, I do. I always eat too fast," Wakan replied.

"You donít eat too fast," Cloud said.

"Oh yeah? Well once I ate a tenderloin my dad got for me and it had a toothpick in it. I swallowed the whole thing without really thinking and ended up eating the toothpick also," Wakan smiled as he finished.

"You had a dad?" Cloud asked.

"Yeah, long time ago. I only knew him when I was little," Wakan leaned back farther.

"How does that work out?" I asked

Wakan tipped the glass back and gulped the remaining alcohol at once. "It works out when the government comes knocking down your door and taking your dad, a geneticist, to a prison. Then selling you off to some jackass doctor," Wakan reached forward slowly, trying to grab the bread. Cloud grabbed it first and threw it into his lap.

"Well, they busted down my door but I shot em all," I replied slowly, trying not to sound threatening.

"They came and busted my door down also," Cloud whispered.

"Well, at least you know what happened to your parents," Wakan replied, flatly.

"At least you didnít see them beaten and dragged out," Cloud shot back.

"Least both of you didnít see them gunned down in your own home," I nearly whispered.

"Well, youíre human, and letís face it. You donít have to be beaten everyday," Wakan said.

"Fair enough," I shrugged and leaned back like Wakan. Cloud slowly bit chunks off a loaf of French bread and chewed thoughtfully.

"Bet Hannah is gonna stay upstairs all day?" I asked, knowing the answer already.

"Yeah, sheís gonna be up there for awhile I bet, seems like she canít stand us drunks," Wakan said.

"Who said weíre going to get drunk?" I asked.

"Who says we arenít?" Wakan asked.

And so it went, talking for hours, slowly sipping the strong clear Jack Daniels. The square, stout glasses shattering the light from the overhanging light. By the time it was seven in the evening Fred was leaning back in his chair heavily. Wakan sat forward with his head on the table. Cloud staggered back from the restroom for the umpteenth time.

"Whatcha wanna do now?" Cloud deeply slurred, and hobbled onto his couch.

"I donít know, mabbe Hannahíll join ush in this drinking madnesh," Fred replied.

"I donít think sho, Shhíll probablee be angry for ush not scharing," Wakan grumbled from the table.

"Scheíll probably forgive ush. I mean itíss only whishkey," Fred mumbled. Then looked at Cloud tottering to the counter for another drink, then back at Wakan, whose eyes had started wandering, then burst out laughing.

"Whatsch scho funny?" Wakan asked after letting his eyes linger a little longer on Cloud.

"Youíre schtarin at Cloudís butt!" Fred yelled and began to laugh uncontrollably.

"Scho, what if I like that kinda schtuff," Wakan replied.

"Scho what if Cloud doschent," Fred shot back, fighting back his laugher in vain.

"Iím not totally gay! Watsch, HANNAH! Where are you?!" Cloud yelled and fell back against the refrigerator, then jumped as Hannah peeked around the corner next to him.

"What do you want? I was coming down to grab some dinner," Hannah asked him, slightly wrinkling her nose.

"I want cho baybeee!" Cloud tottered toward Hannah but tripped and barely caught himself on the center counter-top. Everybody paused for a moment. Cloud gave one hiccup and crashed to the floor.

Hannah kneeled and checked Clouds pulse as Fred and Wakan laughed. Wakan tottered up and began to walk to the front door.

"Where do you think youíre going?" Hannah growled from the kitchen as Wakan reached the door.

"Ah, jus outschide to piss," Wakan grunted, and began to fumble with the door handle.

"Ah! WAIT UP!" Fred yelled and staggered toward the door. Hannah sighed and watched them go outside.

"Iím gonna pisch on yer car Fred," Wakan blabbed and began to stumble toward the MAV, with Fred looking worried and trying to run after him.

"Hey, Hey, HEY! Thatsch mah tire yer pisching on," Fred exclamined as Wakan giggled.

"Oh, you wanna play rough? Iíll play rough," Fred unzipped his pants loudly. Inside the kitchen Hannah looked up and cocked her head to the noise coming from outside.

"AHHH YOU PISCHED ON MY TAIL!" Wakan yelled and spun to repay Fred. Fred turned and began to run and topple back to the cabin, trying not to urinate on himself. Wakan ran after him while trying to get Fred. Both of them running and pissing all over the place trying to get each other, until they ran up on the porch, right when Hannah opened the door.

"WhatÖAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" Hannah screamed as Fred and Wakan froze. Hannah slowly put her hands down from her wet face fur, a low growl emanating from her throat as Fred and Wakan quickly zipped their pants up.

"Iím going to kill the each of you slowly and painfully," Hannah slowly growled at them, just then Cloud came to and stumbled to the door toward Hannah.

"Heyyyyy, whyísch Hannah being schuch a bitch?" Cloud slurred and passed out again just as he tottered into view.

"Come," Hannah grabbed Wakanís tail with her claws and Fred by the hair and began walking out toward the road.

Wakan stumbled and was dragged part of the time, Hannahís boiling anger allowing her to drag him with ease without feeling much fatigue. Fred stumbled and fell a few times, each time the hair sending a burning stab of pain through his scalp. This went on until they crossed the road, went down a slope, and reached a small stream at the bottom of the canyon. Hannah waded out and yanked Wakan down as he yelped and fell into the water. Fred was forced face first into the river. Then both of them were let go as Hannah walked back to the banks and sat in the shallower water, slowly splashing water into her face. Not caring that her clothes were soaked and the cool summer night was coming.

"AHHH, THIS WATER IS MAKING MY BALLS SCHRINK ITíS SCHO COLD!" Fred yelled as Wakan slowly got up massaging his butt.

"My tail feelsch like itích going to fall off," Wakan told Fred, only to see him looking intently into the swirling water.

"Hey, wanna know shum-thing really cool?" Fred asked Wakan who waded to him.

"What?" Wakan asked and looked into the water.

"Did you knows thatsch clamsch schut when you tap on thems?" Fred inquired.

"Whenever theyíre open?" Wakan asked

"Nononononono, Theysch have to be alive and open," Fred said.

"Scho? Whatsch the big deal about schum clams?" Wakan retorted.

"Well, were schtanding in the water right?" Fred slowly spoke, as if trying to formulate the ideas in his alcohol-infused mind.

"Yesh, thisch isch water," Wakan slowly replied, trying to think where this was going.

"Well, clamsch grow in the water," Fred replied. Wakans eyes widened.

"Nooo, I bet youíre wrong about thosche clamsch," Wakan drunkedly spoke back.

"Well find schum clamsch and weíll schee whosch wrong," Fred stumbled around in the water, trying to find that damned clam. Wakan began to stumble and slip on the rocks the other way. Hannah simply glared at the two imbeciles and sat watching them, wondering if they would get sick from the melt-water and the night that was fast-approaching.

Fred and Wakan stumbled for the better part of half an hour; Hannah was getting impatient and considered walking back when Wakan yelled.

"I FOUND A CLAM!" Wakan bellowed, his arm dripping water as he waved a grey object around in the air.

Hannah looked with her mouth slightly agape and then realized Wakan was holding up a rock, an ovular shaped piece smoothed by the water, with a single crack running down one side of it.

"You have got to be fucking kidding me," Hannah mumbled. She looked at Fred struggle to get to Wakan.

"Now what are we shuposhed to do?" Wakan asked as Fred looked and grinned at Wakan.

"Ummmm," Fred scrunched his brows. "I canít rember."

"What? Why cant you rember?" Wakan replied.

"WAIT! Alright, you gotta tap it gently againsht shum hard object," Fred said.

"How bout your head?" Wakan asked.

"No, try that boulder next to Hannah," Fred pointed to an enormous boulder next to Hannah; she had been leaning next to it since it was still warm. Sheíd been sitting sopping wet for at least forty five minutes now, albeit a little dryer.

Wakan and Fred stumbled and slipped slowly to the boulder, making sure to avoid eye contact with Hannah. At first Wakan tapped gently, slowly tapping, and checking every few taps to see if the opening in the Ďclamí had closed yet.

Hannah sat and waited, then got up after a few minutes. Dusting off her skirt and tail, and looked at the sky to see the sun was gone, and all that was left were a few orange rays of light.

"Hey it aint working," Wakan mumbled as Hannah began to turn and leave.

"Well keep hittin it harder," Fred encouraged, Wakan began to very visibly putting more and more strength into his taps. Until he was hitting the rock with a force that made the canyon sound like gunshots were going off.

"Ok, juscht a few more with more schterngth schould be ok," Fred waved his arms around trying to imitated what Wakan should be doing.

"Like dish?" Wakan heaved mightily, swinging the rock around from behind him and opening his hand right before the Ďclamí hit so the bare palm forced it into a flat face of the boulder. An enormous crack reverberated through the canyon as sparks flew from the impact and the tiny stone shattered. Wakan stood still, his hand splayed out on the rock as if slapping a cowís ass, only to realize it didnít move. Fred stared at Wakan then looked at the shallow water that surrounded half of the base of the boulder and at pieces of the grey clam slowly sinking.

"I KILLED AN INNOCENT CLAM!" Wakan yelled then brought his hands up to his muzzle and began to heave great deep sobs into his palms.

"No, Itís alright. The clamsch inna better plache now," Fred patted Wakan huge shuddering shoulder as Hannah shook her head from where she stood on the banks.

"Get your asses up to the house," Hannah said as she let them look at the pieces of grey rock in the bottom of the stream.

Wakan and Fred obediently tripped, slipped, and otherwise spent a better part of their trip back to the cabin stooped over like old men, but instead of canes they had both hands near the ground to keep them from falling as hard. Cloud was as they had left him, except now he was snoring. Hannah walked slowly up to her room, and soon the noise of a shower could be heard. Wakan and Fred each went to their separate rooms after putting Cloud in bed.

Hannah stayed up for a long while after she heard the showers die down downstairs. She stared up at the high ceiling of the master bedroom before looking at the door. She slowly formulated a plan to get back at the boysÖher eyelids slowly shutting with the prospect of the next day.

 


Chapter 11

Dull thudding, concussions from the dark room around me. Then scratchingÖ

"Wha? HEY!" I yelled and laid back down as my head pounded in my skull. I tried to grab my temples, only to find a pair of fists sailing up, bound with nylon rope come up and hit me. I sat for a moment, feeling my fingers on my face, then lifted the wad of flesh and nylon that was my hands-no, fists.

"So, you gonna stay put today?" Hannah whispered beside me, making me jump roll halfway on my ribs then fall onto the hard wooden floor with a loud thud. This wasnít helping my head at all, damn if I wasnít frustrated.

"What the fuck do you mean stay put?" I groaned and turned over to look up to the edge of the mattress. Only to see a very odd looking Hannah looking down back at me, her hair was bedraggled and she looked a little worse for wear, I couldnít exactly see why she would be looking unfocused til she spoke.

"Soooo, you think itís funny to piss in my fur do you? Well letís see how you fare today in here," Hannah slightly burred her speech. She was drunk! No wonder she got up slightly swaying and began to walk out, only to stop and turn.

"You got the wrong pills sweetie, and youíre going to pay for it later for not checking," Hannah swaggered out of the room, holding onto the wall as she walked. How was she holding her liquor so well? She had hardly slurred, but her breath reeked of alcohol. Ahhh crap, and I have to use the bathroom already. I got up and walked toward the toilet and stopped short of the door. The nylon rope was taut as I stopped, then realized another problem, the most obvious of them all, my hands were tied.

I sat for at least two hours, the soft subdued voices of Cloud and Wakan floated up from the kitchen area I guessed. But Hannah, she was yelling something incoherent at Wakan and Cloud while they replied a few times, until a loud BINK!* and yelling from Could erupted. I heard claws scrabble the steps as Wakan appeared; quietly he ran to my side and cut the ropes with a black knife.

"Whatís going on?" I hissed as I got up.

"Hannah is having a really hot and heavy heat and keeps yelling random shit at us," Wakan kept quiet and looked at the door. "Look, Cloud and I decided to go and leave, and before you ask. Itís not permanent, itís just that Hannahís heat is seriously screwing with our minds," Wakan paused. "Take this, keep it on at all times, Cloud and Iíll keep in contact when possible," Wakan slapped the handheld HAM on the table and patted my cheek, then ran out the room.

I got up quickly and used the restroom before I went to look at my room, only to jump back in surprise.

"Hannah! What the hell! Almost gave me a heart attack!" I gasped and stumbled as Hannah grinned, her teeth white and curved. She slowly moved in the room as I backed off, and then got what she was doing. She was drunk, and I hoped she was drunk enough. As a feigned to one side, then stopped as she quickly followed me to the other side.

"How the hell are you still standing up?" I asked quietly, my head pounding angrily against my temples, each throb making my breathing stuttered.

"You wonít be standing up for long," Hannah winked then lunged. I jumped to the side, then tried to run. Only to be tripped up as Hannah kicked her feet out and up. I scrabbled against the wood and got up, with Hannah clinging to an ankle as I dragged her along.

"You havenít answered my question! How can you be so drunk and not be throwing up all over the place!" I yelled as I turned toward the stairs.

"Iím not drunk, you are!" Hannah gripped harder to my ankle as I stood at the top of the stairs, and looked down to see Hannah wink, and yank on my ankle. I went face first down toward the stairs, before my hands could come up there was a loud thud that shook the walls as my head turned and the spot right above my temple hit the edge of a stair. My vision shook then blurred as tears stung my eyes.

"So, you gonna help me out?" Hannah asked as she dragged me back up the stairs and laid me at the top of the flight.

"HELP YOU ON WHAT!" I yelled and rubbed my temples, god his hangover was going to be the death of me.

"Well, my intense and super horny heat of course," Hannah giggled and leaned in to kiss. Only to be blocked as I spun and shoved. Hannah toppled as I ran for the front door, jumping the last six steps, only to recall the HAM radio was in my room. I wearily looked back up the flight of stairs. Hannah was gone.

I slowly walked to the steps, only to turn and walk to the second flight near the study. I grabbed a pillowcase from Clouds room as I passed and rolled it so the opening was at the edge where the pillowcase would unfurl. I didnít want to service Hannah, and I didnít want to harm her. She was a friend, nothing more. Hell! She was a different species I thought as I walked up the stairs slowly, looking around the corner to hear scuffling, then silence. I crouched and slowly walked toward the room, my pillowcase held behind me like some deadly weapon. I looked in the room, my head pounding more as I slowed my breathing, almost holding it in.

"WHERE ARE YOU AND WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO HELP YOUR HEAT!" I yelled into the deafening silence of the room, I squinted as my head hammered again. Then straightened out as I heard the HAM radio crackle behind me.

"Looking for this?" Hannah whispered, then yanked the pillowcase out of my hand. I ducked and shot my hand around the back of her knees and pulled. She sat hard and dropped the HAM which I leaned forwards and picked up, only to hear some crackling from Cloud. Then felt Hannahís hand push my chest back, and I slumped against the wall. Easily losing my balance as I had been crouching down on my toes, I simply rocked back from that position. Then found Hannah looking at my eyes with her own shattered green eyes. I still held the HAM as more crackling came over it.

"Sooo, now are you going to stop that foolish running from your friend and help me?" Hannah slowly drew out her words. Then lunged forward and sat on my lap, her legs on either side of my legs. Just before she leaned forward I heard louder crackles, then froze as I caught some of the words. I didnít even notice Hannah kissing me until her tongue played with my lips. I sat up so forcefully that she tumbled backwards as I reached through the doorway next to me, then reached behind me to drag a rifle out. Hannahís eyes widened as she followed me into my room. I grabbed the S&W .500, almost immediately finding its place on my side as I slipped the sling over my neck. The Remington shotgun came next as I slipped the rifle over my shoulder and hefted the shotgun. I looked at Hannah as she sat on the bed and licked her lips; she seemed to deflate as I glared at her.

As I walked out of the room I took one last look at Hannah.

"Donít leave the house," I whispered.

The 20mm rifle found its way into the MAV along with two cases of ammunition, a box of magnum buckshot shells was thrown into my jacket. I swiftly flipped the cylinder of the revolver out and reloaded two blank cartridges. Hannah watched through the front window.

The drive down the road where Wakan and Cloud sat wasnít far. They simply pointed to the center of the town as I got out, I could see three cars, extremely distant and harmless as a gnat sitting in the open area in front of the town hall. Well over a mile away.

"So, what are we gonna do?" Cloud whispered.

"See what theyíre doing, who they are, and why theyíre here," I whispered back, my head throbbed again. A pregnant pause filled the air as we looked at the town, small black toothpicks facing forward on the tops two of the transports.

"So, did Hannah do anything with you?" Cloud broke the silence and coughed.

"No, sheís just a friend," I replied. "Why, did she do anything to you?"

"Well, she sat and grumbled to Wakan and I for a while, then threw a bottle at me. Then Wakan made a break for it once she did that and started yelling something bout you and how she felt about you and Wakan pissing in her fur," Cloud sighed and walked to the trees. "What are you gonna do with her?" He finished as he sat in the shadows, his fur making a blurry outline of the surrounding environment.

"What? You expect me to get intimate or something?" I felt like yelling, but my head protested, and looking at the men in the town made me think twice about attracting attention.

"Well, yeah. Wakan and I arenít going to do anything with her. Sheís yours anyways," Cloud tilted his head back to rest against the aspen tree.

"Donít say that," I replied.

"Say what?" Cloud asked and Wakan kept looking at the town.

"Sheís not my property, sheís a free being, not mine or anybodyís," I sighed and looked at Clouds gun.

"Lets me show you a few things then we go into town," I spoke and moved forward to grab the Bushmaster ACR. "Hereís how you hold itÖ"

The truck went first, then the MAV. We parked in a ditch, the electric motors whispered as we stopped the vehicles in the shaded area. We walked in two groups, Wakan and Cloud went together but slightly spread out one block away, I walked alone with my M24 in hand one block east of them. The town hall where everybody was parked sat four blocks north of us. The plan was to take up positions in buildings facing the open area in front the town hall. Spread out along roughly two blocks we would wait and watch. See why they were here, what they were doing, and who they were.

"Shit, thereís ten of them," Cloud crackled through the HAM radio. He had gotten into the second floor of the house next to Wakan first and got a good count, his light refracting fur making him blend into his surroundings easier. Before I could ask for Wakan as I climbed the steps into my building I got a reply.

"Yeah, we got two riflemen, two grenadiers, two automatic riflemen, a medic, some guy with a scoped weapon, and a officer, and some really worn looking man who looks like heís a driver for that supply truck," Wakan snapped his HAM off as he finished. I looked through my window five buildings down from Wakan. Three vehicles stood out in the noon-day sun. A supply truck, and two armed troop trucks.

"What are those signs on the doors Wakan? Fred?" Cloud inquired as I sat against the back wall of the room in the shadows and crouched with my rifle on a mattress. I glassed the sides of the trucks to see a green circle, with an H in the middle. It looked like a helipad painted on the sides of the cars.

"I have no idea, just find out if theyíre friendly orÖscratch that," A man waved an ear around in the air like a flag, a brown rabbit ear, a morph ear, the same color as that morph that kicked me a few days earlier.

"Theyíre Humanists, thatís what the H is for," Wakan silently replied.

"Yeah, and if we get found, guess whatís gonna happen," Cloud shot back in his HAM.

"And how do you suppose we havenít found you already?" A voice came over the radio, I looked closely through the scope, a jury-rigged HAM sat on the dashboard of one of the troop transports, and a man was speaking into it. "Now just give yourselves up, or youíll end up like the furs in Hoover Dam,"

"Why? Thereís nothing going on in Hoover Dam," I replied, acting dumb.

"Oh, you havenít heard about the battle or the defeats?" The voice cheerily replied, I could see the man smiling at his radio. The wire-thin crosshairs of my rifle lined up as I made sure with a quick look that the safety position was in Ďfireí mode.

"I wouldnít be pointing that at us if I were you," The voice smiled just as a shot rang out. The damn sniper had hidden behind one of the vehicles and I hadnít watched him! It looked like he had shot into Wakanís building. My crosshairs switched to the black-clad man. I didnít even think about the repercussions as I slowly squeezed the trigger and felt the muzzle blast reverberate through the room, the mans head split open at the range I shot from, his rifle going limp in his arms. Gore splattered the marble, glass, and the vehicle as the bullet left a gouge in the ground next to him. The .338 Lapua was a powerful round.

"Oh, now youíre going to die!" The ham yelled into the HAM and began to walk out of the car, even before he could get two paces from the car his chest erupted, another .338 making a crater in his torso the size of a softball. Just as the other men who had been scrambling into the cars began to get situated another sound filled the open square, short fast brrrts of an automatic rifle fired from the building next to Wakanís as the booms of Wakanís lever gun mixed in.

"Shit! GET OUTTA THERE!" I yelled into the HAM radio as a man began to control a heavy machinegun mounted atop a vehicle. The remote-system humming, then stopping as the quick thuds began to emanate from the gun. The second heavy machine gun joined in. I didnít care if the men heard me. I squinted and fired into the vehicle, the windshield fractured as the .338 lodged itself into the front window. The vehicle closest to me began to turn its gun at me.

"Oh shit, oh shit, ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshit," I began to chant as I ran down the stairs, the room behind me erupting as tracers and .50 caliber shells tore the childrenís room apart. The shop below was quiet for only a moment as shells broke through the front glass case.

I ran down an alley behind the building and almost yelled as Wakan came around the corner, quickly followed by Cloud.

"Where do we go?" Cloud gasped in-between breaths as I looked around and heard tires begin to crunch and rub against the pavement.

"Crap! Go out and find a good place to sit, distract them. I gotta go grab something for those damn trucks!" I ran, no, sprinted down an alley toward the MAV as Wakan and Cloud ran the opposite direction.

I could hear bursts of automatic fire as I placed the M24 into the MAV, then hefted the heavy 20mm rifle. Making sure that the magazine was full. Screw the zeroing in for the scope, I didnít have the time.

I heaved the rifle down toward the firing, the barrel on one hand, the action in another. I had to unscrew and detach the barrel, the whole forty pounds and six foot eight inches was bulky. But I had to get to the shooting. The S&W .500 and the Shotgun slapped my body as I jogged through the streets.

Wakan and Cloud had holed up in the liquor store, the old brick and ivy front had holes from grenades as the two troop carriers, Panther LTVís I think they were called, (Light Troop Vehicles), kept firing at the building. The brick masonry flying apart as I ran inside of a building about a block down. I didnít even bother running to the second floor as I reassembled the rifle. The barrel went on easily, the toolset making the work quick once I got the hang of things.

"FRED! WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONÖ" Cloud yelled but was cutoff by the enormous concussion that the 20mm made as I fired through the window of the shop, the armor piercing shell flew through the length car and wall of the liquor shop. DAMN! I thought I had shot through the fuel tank and the engine, I cursed as I worked the bolt. All of a sudden huge flash filled the street as the carís hydrogen tanks ignited from a source of heat. A single burning torch ran out of the car only to meet a quick burst of automatic fire as Cloud put him out of his misery.

The second car was turning as I fired again, the second shell only penetrating the engine. The men inside quickly tumbled out and began to fire in all directions as they ran into a building across the street. I tracked them through the scope of the rifle. I got up and pushed the rifle into a closet nearby and un-slung my shotgun from my shoulder. The 870 clicked as I pushed in cherry red shells into the receiver. Two shells, rack the slide once, add another shell. The safety clicked as I ran to the other side of their street.

"THERE! OVER THERE! SHOOT THE BASTARD!" A man in the upper floor screamed as he saw me run across the street into the alleyway behind the house. Then realized my mistake, here I wouldnít get any firing support from Cloud or Wakan. Just before I could turn the door banged against the wall and a man ran out, looking the other way.

His eyes widened as he turned, then surprise as the magnum 00 buckshot slammed into his body armor. He staggered back, at this range the body armor, even in this day or age couldnít handle the antiquated design of a shotgun shell. He only staggered once and fell.

"FIRE IN THE HOLE MO-FO!" A man inside yelled as I saw a olive drab orb fly into the alley, I barely ducked behind a thick steel garbage bin as the grenade shook the ground, my feet flew up for a second as the grenade went off, even behind the dumpster the power was intense. I barely looked out from behind the dumpster with the 870 level before another man ran out. One shot made him fall back, but he still raised his own Bushmaster ACR before I used the last round in my shotgun to freeze his body. I spun back behind the dumpster and began to reload, I only got one round in before I saw movement at the end of the alley.

"FRED!" Cloud yelled as he looked around the end of the alleyway before ducking back. In my haste to reload my shotgun I didnít hear another man, come out of the house. The rapid burst from a Squad Automatic Weapon got my attention. I couldnít bring my shotgun around without getting his attention with the long barrel. I placed the shotgun in-between me and the wall, then leaned heavily against the dumpster as another burst skittered past my feet. The S&W clicked quietly twice as I brought the hammer back, so innocent sounding. The clicks sounded like a childís toy. I pulled my black jacket off and bundled it up in one handful, then waited for a few minutes, trying to build up the mans nervousness as I scuffled around a little bit then held still.

The yell caught him by surprise, but the jacket made him fire continuously until his gun clicked. Empty. I spun out from around the dumpster, with the S&W in the two-hand carry, only to meet a sharp crack, and a burning in my left arm.

"Next one is in your heaÖ" The blast of the S&W cut him off as I fired single-handed, my left arm off to my side. My wrist snapped back before the arm lifted up. The recoil from the S&W .500 was barely controllable as I stumbled back. My ears were ringing, I didnít know if it was because of my arm or the shot. Cloud pushed me over into the wall as he ran past and fired a quick burst at another person. Wakan sat and swung his rifle out at the street at the end of the alley a few times to make sure nobody was coming. He turned and saw my arm.

"OH SHIT! Cloud go and clear the house then watch the street!" Wakan ran over and rummaged through his backpack as blood slowly began to drip from my fingertips onto the concrete.

"Cleared, OH DAMN! Shouldnít we get him back?" Cloud asked and walked up. Grimacing as he saw the blood.

"No, Iím fineÖWait, isnít there one more person?" I looked up.

"CLOUD! Go to the town hall and see where that one last person is," I looked around and spotted my shotgun. "Wakan, just patch it. Quick."

"I canít just patch it! You have a hole going all the way through the arm!" Wakan fretted as he placed a pad over the holes and then wrapped gauze tightly over my arm. Blood was already seeping through the bandage when he looked back up from his pack. "I need more stuff," Just then I heard the burst of a rifle, then nothing more.

"Hey thatís the last of them," Cloud said over the HAM. "Is Fred ok?"

"We need to go back right now," Wakan replied.

"Well, I think this supply truck here has a bunch of stuff in it," Cloud replied, his voice sounding distant. I looked down again at my blood-soaked arm; the wound began to feel hot as a thin stream of blood dripped quickly onto the concrete.

"Can you bring it over here?" Wakan asked.

"Yeah, I can try. But its big man," Cloud spoke, in the background I could hear scuffling of claws on marble, then a door opening and shutting.

We waited ten minutes; meanwhile Wakan added more bandages atop my current one, then had me raise my arm above my head.

"This should help a little," Wakan replied as he brought back some pressure bandages. This wasnít exactly a red-cross truck and only had a simple medical pack in the driverís compartment. The morphine cooled the heat coming from my arm.

The trio made their way back to the MAV and the truck in the supply vehicle after picking up the 20mm. Wakan drove the MAV as Cloud followed in the truck, nobody saying much. Wakan sat and cast worried glances at Fred, he was breathing slowly, but the bleeding was only slightly slowing down.

"What did you guys do to him?!" Hannah yelled as she saw Wakan guide Fred inside, then froze as she saw the blood seeping down his arm.

"He got hit in the arm; now let us bring him to his room. Heís got a tub in there right?" Wakan Asked as Cloud began to bring in the guns and ammunition.

"Yeah, but what are you going to do to him!" Hannah was almost in hysterics as Wakan tried not to focus on her heat.

"Weíre just going to wash his arm with soap and water. The bleeding isnít as bad and most of itís controlled," Wakan began to help Fred up a stair at a time as Hannah watched the blood drip on the wood floor. Cloud went outside after looking quickly at Hannah.

The tub quickly turned red as Wakan had Fred sit beside it and washed his arm gently. The morphine had done its job with Fred. The blood welled up more and began to run anew when Wakan used more gauze pads to wash it off then wiped antiseptic over it. Only after placing pressure pads in place and a wrapping of gauze did Wakan begin to leave the room, Fred sat in a chair next to the desk in his room. Hannah stopped him.

"Is he going to be ok?" Hannahís breath still smelled slightly of alcohol.

"Yeah, all he can do is rest now. Probably sleep but heís going to have to change," Wakan turned before Hannah could make him linger any longer and went out the front door after Cloud.

"What do you think youíre doing?" Fred grumbled as Hannah got a new shirt from the closet.

"You need to sleep and Iím not going to let you sleep in dirty jeans, bloody shoes, and that shirt," Hannah replied and began to walk toward Fred.

"Well, I can change myself," Fred shot back. Then tilted his head back, Hannah sat on the bed and waited.

"Ok, Iíll do it later," Fred spoke after a good half hour, still staring at the ceiling.

"No you arenít, youíre just going to sit there," Hannah replied.

"NO! Just leave me be," Fred shot back. Hannah got up and kneeled, his laces encrusted with blood, hard to untie. Fred didnít struggle as she worked those; only until she began to work on his belt did he begin to move.

"Iím just trying to help Fred! Just let me change you," Hannah looked at him, and almost cried. Fred was stubborn and didnít even want help from her in her heat out of distrust. Even if it was going to hurt him.

"Why donít you let me help you?" Hannah almost broke down.

"Because I can help myself," Fred groggily replied.

"Well, try walking to that bed then," Hannah shot back at him.

Fred weakly got up after staring at the bed, then stumbled once before Hannah caught him. They slowly walked as Hannah guided him into his own bed, the wound beat against his arm. As Fred lay down Hannah slowly pulled his shirt over his head, gently pulling. Then giving up on placing a new shirt on Fred, he was too limp and probably too sensitive around the arm to put the shirt on. Taking it off was a big enough hassle.

His pants were easier. Fred usually only wore boxers and a t-shirt in bed. But now he lay with only boxers in bed, his socks lay forgotten in the corner as Hannah pulled a blanket over a half-asleep Fred.

It was nearly night-time when Hannah checked on Fred before going to her own bed. Wakan and Cloud had said they would be going to sleep in town. "Checking for more Humanists," is what they had said.

Fred was sleeping softly as Hannah opened the door; she had been feeling restless all day with her heat. And right now she was getting over being drunk, but her head was hurting. She quietly walked over to Fred, softly touching his hand. He was freezing, his whole body was freezing.

"What? What are you doing here Hannah?" Fred asked, still slightly groggy.

"Youíre freezing," Hannah replied, then got an idea. Fred began to get up shuffle to the other side of the bed as Hannah sat, only to be pushed back into the bed. Hannah took off her t-shirt, making Fredís eyes go wide. She knew he didnít want to be intimate, but she was in heat and he was the only solution.

"No, Hannah I said no before what makes you think Iím going to change my mind now?" Fred spoke clearly, he was wide awake now.

"Please Fred, at least let me be with you tonight. Maybe just to sit here and lay with you," Hannah almost whined, her t-shirt was still in hand incase he panicked she could leave.

"Fine, but Iíve always wanted to be just friends with you. Iíve seen enough friendships ruined by a bad relationship," Fred laid back down. He was stiff as Hannah still sat on the edge of the bed before lying next to him.

"What makes you think Iíd give you a bad relationship?" Hannah whispered as she pulled the blankets up.

"I donít know, the fact that youíre a different species might cause problems," Fred was as stiff as a board, this was NOT his definition of relaxing.

"So, if I want to be in a relationship with you Iíd try and make you happy," Hannah said, hurt a little that Fred simply didnít want to be in a relationship. She was still propped on an elbow looking at Fred as he stared hard at the ceiling in the dark room.

"Just, I donít know Hannah. Youíve always been a friend. Change is different, itís scary. And I donít want to ruin a good thing," Fred sighed.

"It could be a better if you let me try," Hannah whispered. Then lay back on the bed. Everything was quiet for a good hour, neither one of them speaking nor moving. Then Fred rolled over and hugged Hannah.

"You can try," He whispered. He groaned as he lay back. Hannah had wrapped her arms around him and was pressing his wound. Something wet ran down his shoulder as she buried her head into the top of his shoulder.

 


To be continued.

Story and Characters are copyright © 2009 G.F.D.
Questions? Comments? Always here to reply, sooprazn@gmail.com I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible. By The Way, if you feel like sending an e-mail but afraid it's stupid, don't worry. I don't mind stupid e-mails, SPAM I mind, but Gmail takes care of those ;)

Chakat universe is copyright of Bernard Doove.


 

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